Posts Tagged ‘books’

Monday, 15 May 2017

I did not mind in the least that we had a cold, rainy, windy day off, because I had an excellent book to read.  Karla from Time Enough Books had lent me an advanced reading copy. I had started it recently at one chapter a day.  It was much better to be able immerse myself for a whole afternoon in the world of gardening in Japan.


I had been immediately interested in Ms. Buck’s description of the difference between public gardening in California and Japan:



And that was just the preface.  I am completely smitten by this book and consider it perfect in every way, as it tells a very personal story along with expert advice about pruning and about techniques to make every inch of a garden impeccably beautiful.

More, from later in the book, about the respect given to gardeners:




And not just designers are given respect:



I do remember quitting a garden once when I was supposed to follow the design of a landscape designer with absolutely no personal input (or respect).  Especially when I heard that said designer was famous among jobbing gardeners for planting everything too close together.

I learned a new way to think about Japanese gardens, quite different from some of my assumptions:



The passage below reminded me of how I have never adopted the term “master gardener” and feel uncomfortable when people call me that (even though I did once take the Master Gardener class with its 56 hours of training and volunteer time):



The hard work impressed me, in all weather, including winter cold.  While I no longer work such long hours, and in all weather, I used to (although I never did start at dawn, making my winter hours much shorter than the ones Leslie worked at age 34 in Kyoto).


When given the choice of taking rain days off, she was determined to work as hard as the rest of the crew.


This is one reason why today, I felt a bit guilty in my comfy chair reading a wonderful book, knowing that our good friends Dave and Melissa (Sea Star Gardening) still work in all weather.

Throughout the book, I identified with the hard work of full time gardening.



…carry thorns and sticky sap that attracts dirt and sometimes causes infection.”

Later: “We loved pruning, touching the plants directly.  We both understood the monetary and physical sacrifice of working on behalf of nature.”

When I read the following passage, I asked Allan to go across the street to the J’s and give the three small struggling hydrangeas a good dose of Dr Earth fertilizer.  (I could not leave my book, you see.)


I learned of a new-to-me product, cuffs to wear over one’s wrists while pruning to protect from scratches.  If only I had thought of this while weeding among the rugosa roses in the beach approach garden.  This could save much pain in the future.  (I cannot weed in heavy rose gauntlets, but protective cuffs would be just the thing.)

I found some for sale in New Zealand.  I’ll keep searching for some closer to home.



an excellent concept

I was reminded in the following passage of private clients of the past who treated us well:


She had some especially kind clients:


A later passage reminded me of a recurring problem in private gardening: bathroom access.  A few clients immediately would offer us use of their bathrooms.  Others would never think of it even if we were there all day.

I learned a new term, one that explained why I often teared up while reading about Leslie’s gardening experiences:



Author Keane also said the original Japanese word for gardening includes “humans in nature as an inherent and indivisible part of it.”

I could hardly bear for the book to end.  It is rare to read the story of a hard working gardener, whether a highly skilled pruning specialist like Leslie or a maintenance gardener like many I know.  Her descriptive prose beautifully captures the gardens where she worked, and her pruning advice is invaluable and will prove to be of great use and inspiration to me.  I had to stop many times to ponder what she had written and, especially toward the end, to feel some deep emotion.  (A passage that mentioned President Obama brought actual tears.)


It was a good day for Smokey, as well.

I think that during gardening season, it would help me to only read gardening books, for inspiration.

Read Full Post »

Monday, 1 May 2017



I was taken aback by completely unexpected cold rain and 20 mph wind.  No!  What happened to our five nice weekdays? Ok, maybe the beach approach garden won’t get done before the Sunday parade.  After all, the parade takes place downtown, not the beach approach.

I decided that I would enjoy a reading day, as did Allan.  I returned to my wonderful birthday present book; Allan had discovered and acquired it for me from the UK.


Smokey loves a reading day.

I was pleased to finish the very funny homage to Bill Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island, in which author Ben Aitken retraces Bill’s route 20 years later.  While much of the book is humorous, I also appreciated Aitken’s occasional serious comments on class.



An amusing passage:


In Lincoln:


More much appreciated (by me) musings on class:



Later, in the north:




I gave the book five out of five stars and I highly recommend it.  There were just a few moments when Aitken suggested Bryson did something that made me think, surely not.  When I cross referenced my copy of Notes from a Small Island, I was right, and now I intend to re-read Bryson’s book while Aitken’s is still fresh in my memory.

I still had plenty of time to read a rather short book that I had somehow missed by one of my favourite authors.


An interesting digression that had little to do with the plot:

And after that, I had time to start (but not finish) a third book, another birthday present from Allan.


I have some reservations about this book, particularly my thought that if you are going to travel from Lands End to John O’ Groats starting off in just your skivvies, begging along the way for clothes, bikes, food, and lodging, it will go a lot better if you are young white men.  These two chaps are the sort who insist on making it quite clear that they really don’t want to share a double bed.  And it does not seem to occur to them to examine why their journey is not especially dangerous.  My feeling when I read Dear Bill Bryson is that I’d love to be friends with the author.  These two…maybe not. However, I am very much enjoying the descriptions of England and I wouldn’t mind another rainy day to finish the book…if it were not for the fact that we are behind on work. (Edited to add…I am almost done with the Free Country book and have enjoyed the travelogue but am AWFULLY tired of being constantly reminded that the two young men are not gay.  They need to grow up!)

Read Full Post »

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

As predicted, we had a rainy and windy day.  I felt a little restless about it.  Views as I paced from window to window:




north front


north front


east front


Allan’s study, east


Allan’s study, east


Skooter does not like to go outside in the rain.



I pondered how if I got my whole south window replaced, I could take photos out of the non screened side.


This and one of the front windows is “blown”.

I find it very hard to spend money on things like this.

Just going out on the front porch to take this photo made my hands cold:


Allan did take a few photos on his way between house and shed:




and at the post office:


hesperantha blooming now instead of waiting till fall


one broken lily sprout



Fortunately, I had a big book to read with over 300 pages to go.


No Logo

I finished it by nine o clock, and then watched Deadliest Catch and felt wimpy for not being willing to work in the rain.

I felt blessed that we live in a relatively advertising-free environment.  Here at the “lost corner” of Washington State, we have only two chain restaurants (a rather gaudy McD’s and a low key Subway that blends in), and even though two of our three bigger grocery stores are franchises (IGA and, I think a Thriftway), they are still referred to by their old names (Sid’s and Okie’s).  While we do have billboards advertising local businesses, all but two extra large ones (between Black Lake and Seaview) are gentle on the eye compared to most billboards, and just advertise local motels and resorts.  This makes the Long Beach Peninsula a more restful place to live if, like me, you want to get away from advertising, brand names, and glitz.

Post script for those who are interested: No Logo by Naomi Klein

The book was excellent, even though somewhat outdated (published in 2000).

Some particularly interesting points:

How a certain McD restaurant went after any restaurant with McD in its name:


This reminds me of the local story of how Starbucks went after an Astoria coffee shop named SamBuck’s.  The owner’s name was Samantha Bucks!  (She had done a logo that was sort of a take off on the SB logo.)  Read more about that case here.

A mention of community gardening:


A whole chapter about the Reclaim the Streets movement had this interesting story.



Of course, they lost…


Re child labor, the National Labor Committee, and director Charles Kernaghan:


About how sweatshops and child labor get so much more attention when attached to a brand name (Nike, for example):


More about the Zapatistas (Klein also wrote about them in The Shock Doctrine).  I just very much like what Marcos had to say:



Note to those who care: From what I had read recently, some of the Romany people consider “the g-word” to be a racial slur and would prefer that we use the word Romany.  If you care about that sort of thing, as I do, here is some beginning reading about it.  Google will give you much more.  I’d rather err on the side of politeness so have given up “the g word”. 

Tomorrow more rain is predicted, and I have a book of light reading lined up for a change.

Read Full Post »

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

A storm was due, with two gale flags flying at the port.  After breakfast, I thought I just might have time to turn a compost bin.


I got this far before the rain came in earnest.


We’d had this much rain overnight.


a wistful look in the west gate before giving up


No one had gone outside with me.

I did not much mind staying in because I could get back to an excellent book, one I had set aside in order to read two interlibrary loans.  I was very much taken by today’s book and intend to read more by this author.


The premise of Solnit’s book is that most humans behave well and for the collective good after disasters, rather than descending into violence and greed.

I adored the story of the kitchens and camps set up after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.




Solnit said it is “elite panic” that causes death after disasters, like the martial law that was declared after the 1906 earthquake and that resulted in a shocking number of deaths of citizens who were shot while trying to rescue others.  The same sort of horrific law and order and elite property protection violence happened in New Orleans after Katrina.  The powers that be seem to fear the way that the citizens gathered to make soup kitchens and shelters and to care for themselves.  Heaven forfend that anarchy might ensue.


More about elite panic:


There is also a lack of faith that the citizens will resist panic.  In fact, Solnitz presents evidence that in an emergency, people do not generally panic.  The British proved that to be true during the Blitz even though, beforehand, the government had little faith in them:


Charles Fritz wrote this after visiting Britain during WWII:

IMG_1529.JPGWhile Solnit writes about several different international disasters, she focuses most in depth on the ones she could get the most information about: California earthquakes, the Halifax explosion of 1917 (which I had never heard of!), 9-11, and Katrina.  The way people took care of each other and found community makes me less afraid of the always dreaded tsunami (of which we might be survivors, since we live close to a big hill).

You probably know that I have an emotional response to the story of the little ships of Dunkirk, so this 9-11 story had enough tears falling that I had to move the book out of the way.





In another disaster story, I learned about a real life superhero, Super Barrio, who emerged after the Mexico City earthquake.

And about the Musician’s Village, a post Katrina housing project that reminds me of the Rural Studio.


so beautiful, makes me weepy

And finally, a political concept that deeply spoke to me.


If you like to read non-escapist literature, a day spent with A Paradise Built in Hell will give you a renewed faith in the power and good nature of the most ordinary of citizens.  It was just exactly what I needed to hear.

I finished the book just in time to go to a Salty Talk at Salt Pub…but not in time to get there early enough to get a seat. 

 I had intended to pick some flowers.  Instead, I only had time to look at the garden briefly before leaving.


I’m not selfless enough to pick tulips out of my boat…


or in the center bed…

I have some hidden tulips I’d have shared with Salt if I’d left enough time.


“Ever wonder how fast crabs move? Or how fast your crab pot can fill up? Join Curtis Roegner, a NOAA Research Fishery Biologist, as he discusses his group’s work with acoustic telemetry and benthic video to track Dungeness crab migrations and movements in the Columbia River estuary.”

As it was, we could not get a table with Dave and Melissa, who had arrived just before us to find seating only at the bar. Kind owner Julez found me and Allan a little table in the back corner.

Tasty Mac and Cheese


a full house (Allan’s photo)


view from our table (Allan’s photo)


Allan’s photo


Allan’s photo


park rangers listening to the talk


crabby slide reflection


swooping down on a deadhead on our way home


tulips in the garden boat at Time Enough Books


in the curbside garden (Allan’s photo)

We must try to get back to weeding the beach approach tomorrow.  I am inspired to brave the weather because the new season of Deadliest Catch has begun.  It helps me to work harder.



Read Full Post »

Sunday, 26 March 2017

More exceptionally wet weather kept me indoors.  Even though I’ve heard of our region being described as the Pacific NorthWET, I feel (without checking statistics) that February and March have been exceptionally rainy.

I took the briefest of walks out into the front garden.


Pieris and flowering plum




needs detailed weeding!


one showy tulip


pleased that my rosa pteracantha has leafed out; I had been worried about it.




Japanese maple


also relieved to see Tetranpanax leafing out after a cold winter


No feline had come outdoors with me.





I applied myself to finishing Thank You for Being Late…


Parts of it were good…

…and then turned to a much shorter book that I’d been looking forward to and that was soon due at the library.


I had read all of Betty’s books, enjoying both her acerbic wit and the Seattle and Vashon Island settings.  (Warning: The Egg and I, her most famous book, published in 1945, has some passages of racism toward the local native tribe that bothered me very much when I read it.  This is addressed in just one page of the biography.)

As I had always suspected, there was a more harrowing truth to the egg farm story than was revealed in Betty’s fictionalized autobiography.

I had started young on Betty’s books, with Mrs. Piggle Wiggle being a favourite of mine in grade school.


I was astonished to read that in the 1930s, Betty lived just three blocks east of where I grew up (6317 15th; I lived at 6309 12th).  I must have walked by the house many times.




Betty’s home, as it was

I was even more astonished to read that the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books might have been an influence on the name I chose in 1994 for my gardening business.


In spring of 1994, I somehow ran across (before I had internet!) a mention of a place in England called “Tangley Cottage”.  I wonder if my memories of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s “tangly garden” is why the name appealed to me so much.

Paula Becker felt compelled to find Betty’s story.  That is just how I felt about Mass Observation diarist Nella Last, and about Gladys Taber’s memoirs.

“Why do some moments in history, some people’s stories, resonate for us more than others?  Perhaps because on some level, our own histories are deeply listening for them.  Listening to the quiet voice saying, Find me.”  —Paula Becker, Looking for Betty McDonald

Someone else that I found more about this week was Samuel Mockbee.  First, he was mentioned in the real estate listing of a hidden garden paradise we recently toured, and then his Rural Studio was mentioned in the great book, Deep South, by Paul Theroux.  Last night, we watched Citizen Architect,  a video about him.  It made me want to be young and a student at the Rural Studio.



As you can see, rainy days are in many ways quite perfect.

Read Full Post »

Guest photo from last midweek, from THE Oysterville Garden:


photo by Melissa Van Domelen

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Now it feels like we have returned from spring to winter:


early morning hail and thunder


Having missed our garden club dinner last week, the North Beach Garden Gang met for brunch at Salt Pub.  (All but two photos today are by Allan.)


This is the next garden awaiting our attention, west of Salt Hotel.


It did not get awfully weedy over the winter.


Melissa and Dave arrive


our view



two egg breakfast


eggs benedict


heuvos rancheros


coming soon-ish.  Allan and I have tickets already.

The five of us lingered over our table for two hours, catching up on all the gardening news. It was especially pleasing to me to be greeted by another diner there, Lorna, who used to own Andersen’s RV Park and was one of our top favourite clients for the many years we gardened there.

I had just been thinking how now that we have six fewer big spring clean ups than we used to have, bad weather is not a crisis in the early spring.


clearing but still cold and windy


Todd, me, Melissa, Dave

In the afternoon, I simply finished a book I started last night.


Yesterday evening, I read a short post apocalyptic novel (Thirst, by Benjamin Warner) that I only mildly enjoyed. Today’s choice was excellent; I especially appreciated that the protagonist was autistic and I could well identify with her ways of coping in the world after a comet hits our planet.  Turning from political non fiction to post apocalypse fiction hasn’t been that much of a change.  Coming up soon is Swallows and Amazons which should be much cheerier.  I haven’t even started it and I’ve already dreamt about reading it.


Read Full Post »

Thursday, 2 March 2017

With the rainy windy day that had been predicted, we did not get the port spring clean up done.  I must confess that maybe if we worked between 8 and 11 AM we might have accomplished some of it

The rain increased considerably after 11 AM.  Allan went to pick up books at the library and took this photos of the early crocuses and irises at the community building in which the library is housed.  You can click on the photos in this mosaic to view them individually.

I had finished the excellent book The Shock Doctrine and was pleased at the prospect of a new batch of library books.  While I waited, I photographed a pile of old postcards (from the collection of our friend Joe Chasse) for my Grandma’s Scrapbook blog.  They will begin to appear there later this year.

A sneak peak:



My books arrived.  What excitement opening the book bag! This new assortment contains some fiction, for a change.


I settled right in with one of them.


It is poetically written and its only flaw is a plot twist that I did not much like.  The parts about Scrabble, I liked very much.  (A boodle is what I call a bingo.)




Even though I only play online now, I remember this sound:



I finished the book.  It was a much easier read than the non fiction I’ve been perusing lately.


Skooter had been helping Allan read.


Our garden club weekly dinner was postponed because of members being under the weather.

For the next two days, the actually weather won’t matter much because we have indoor political activities to attend.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »