Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Tuesday, 11 November 2019

Allan’s photo

On October 25, I had begun an enormous library book.

I realized then that I needed the perfect rainy day to read it all in one sitting and so set it aside until today.

The pages are so large that the text is in two columns. I very occasionally got confused with the two column format.

 Even  the smaller photos are superbly rendered.

Here are my favourite bits, although I did love every last little bit ever so much.

The team is Monty and his spouse, Sarah.


This is why when I try to add more formality to my garden, made on what was once a river’s edge, it is just not right:

About the weather forecast:


In my weather world, that brings hope when the sky is light around the edges.

That is as far as I got in October. Today, I finally had the perfect weather day to finish the book.  It did take the entire day, with two chapters left till the midnight hour after dinner and telly.

This was written before Monty hosted Gardeners’ World and before the Round-Up lawsuit findings:



The Misery Loves Company department:

My hedges are the same.

And my sweet peas have the same problem.

Best tips for me:

Really? Also, I had no idea that golden oregano, of which I have so much, was a tasty culinary herb.

The photos are plentiful and sumptuous.

I had a revelation when I read this…

..and realized that we must have two arbors at the fire circle ends of the Rozanne Loop paths.  Bamboo, perhaps, which would be easiest to set into place.

I went to tell Allan all about it and found evidence that he was about to repair the Mighty Mac.

He did get the belt replaced.

Allan’s photo

The very large book was frustrating to lap cats.

This was news to me about what corms are made of:

I also learned that Fritillaria meleagris is known as “Sulky Ladies” in the UK.

Monty reads The Guardian.  Be still, my heart.

Monty has been very open about how he suffers from winter depression.  I was glad to read that he turns the corner right after Christmas.

There are a few other books by Monty that I have not read and that will require making some interlibrary loans or buying them from across the pond.  Locals can get this one from our wonderful Timberland Regional Library.  You will need a comfy chair for reading this enormous tome.

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Wednesday, 6 November 2019

This week, I read two books that were recommended to me by Terri of Markham Farm. Thanks to early darkness tonight, I had time to finish the first of them, an excellent, gripping book I had been reading at bedtime: Astoria by Peter Stark.

I had thought it would be about the early days of the town of Astoria, Oregon.  Instead, it was about the tribulations of the explorers that wealthy John Jacob Astor sent, by land and by sea, to create a trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River. Their story has been eclipsed by that of Lewis and Clark. I found it more interesting, perhaps because Peter Stark is such a good writer.

My favourite bits:

In a settlement on Mackinack Island:

The French voyageurs are an appealing bunch:

A bit about botanists:

This is where I live!


The travelers by land would not have survived had it not been for the kindness of tribes along the way.

Unfortunately, we all know how unrewarded the tribes were for their kindness.

On the coast, the tribes such as the Chinook lived in comfort:

In the raw settlement that would become Astoria, the settlers did not fare as well:

…followed by a description of their pitiful results.

I had forgotten my history, that at one time this area was under British rule…

..and could have become a part of Canada (I wish it had!) if the story had played out differently.

From the end notes:

I highly recommend this book and intend to read anything else I can find by author Peter Stark.

I read it in good company.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

We had much needed rain.

I did some potting up for my plant sale and then had time to read another book recommended to me by Terri:  Andrea Wulf’s Founding Gardeners, about the gardens of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison.

Just some of my favourite bits, which were many:

Back in America:

Jefferson and his high risk botanizing:

…Oh, for leaders like these:



Madison was ahead of his time about agriculture.

I could not, however, fully admire these men and their gardening and political accomplishments while knowing that the gardens were built on slave labor.  When I read a passage like this…

…I would ask, who built all that? While the fact that the founding fathers owned slaves was mentioned early on, not till the latter part of the book was it made more clear how the gardens were created.


Finally, a chapter toward the end addresses the way the slaves were housed and treated as they created magnificent gardens.  I hope there was some joy in the work but can’t excuse the way the supposedly enlightened founders thought it was acceptable to own people.

I intend to read more by Andrea Wulf, beginning with this book:

Thank you, Terri, for two excellent recommendations!


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Thursday, 3 October 2019

It’s a good thing we had taken the day off, because last night Allan found that the new drum he had ordered for his printer did not do the trick, and so he drove off across the river to buy a new printer.

Because of my longing for reading season, I welcomed the rain that would have given us a day off anyway. I’d had a craving for a good psychological suspense novel.  The one on hand from the library had come to my attention somehow, but while it was a quick and adequately entertaining read, it is not a book I would particularly recommend.

The cats like reading weather, too.

The rain continued.

from the front window

Meanwhile, Allan had arrived home. He shared with me a photo of one of the big boulder-hauling trucks going by him on the bridge. Worse would have been having it go by in the Chinook tunnel! And there had been an accident on the bridge shortly before he crossed. I was extra glad to be at home.

He has returned not only with a new printer, but also a stack of library books I had ordered….even though it’s not yet staycation.

I quickly read a short book, from the last, much smaller library batch, by my favourite New Yorker cartoonist, Roz Chast.

It could be called “What I Fear” instead of “What I Hate”.

Much of her A-Z spoke to me.  You’ll have to get the book if you want to see the drawings that accompany such text as…


On the back cover:

I love you, Roz Chast.

I immediately started on another psychological suspense novel, this time by a favourite author of mine, Laura Lippman. Lady in the Lake proved to be as excellent as I could have hoped.

After our dinner with Rachel Maddow, I returned to my Laura Lippman book and Allan to struggling with his new printer, which was refusing to print two sides. My satisfaction in accomplishing a three book day was not echoed in satisfaction from his office.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Allan’s new printer, a two-year-old but new-out-of-the-box model, had not been a success.  Tech help told him that it was too old for his computer to download a driver for it (I might ask, then why was the store still selling it??), so back he went across the river for a newer model, new ink, and so forth.  With the pressure on to get books printed for tomorrow’s book fair, his trip back and forth was the fastest I had ever seen.

Rain and wind continued for most of the day. I happily turned to another psychological thriller, The Woman Inside. While it was adequate rainy day entertainment, I would not recommend it because of two plot loopholes, one of which appeared at the end and was exceptionally bothersome.

Allan’s new purchase worked a treat. He set to printing and binding copies of his boating book, just in time for tomorrow.

During a break in the storm, I took plants that had arrived yesterday from Plant Delights Nursery out to the lean-to green house.  The quality and size of the plants pleased me greatly.

Panicum ‘Cloud 9’
a shortish aruncus, Baptisia ‘Brownie’ and the irresistibly named Ajuga ‘Plantet Zork’.

I checked on the rain gauge and the rain barrels.

this much rain in the yellow rain gauge

Frosty and I went on a brief garden walk.

Salvia ‘Amistad’

Panicum ‘Northwind’
with hips of Rosa moyesii

Compost bin one had sunk down somewhat.  I felt the urge to sift. Return of rain saved me from losing my second reading day.

In the evening, I enjoyed this week’s episode of Gardeners World on Britbox TV, in which Frances visited a large allotment, Adam and Arit did a superb one day make -over of a private garden (with the help of the owners and their friends), and Monty had a visit from a Mary Berry.  I had to look her up; she is a well known British food writer.

Just look at the enthusiastic gardeners at the allotment, bonded together by love of gardening.

 I enjoyed the simple garden plan for the makeover; it reminded me of Ann Lovejoy’s “bubble and flow”.

Gardeners’ World sketch

This sketch by Ann was given to me as a gift by dear friend Shaz, who took a Lovejoy workshop with me twenty (!) years ago.

Ann Lovejoy: bubble and flow

The garden makeover I saw tonight, before and after:

Inspired by the Ground Force telly show of the 90s, which we were able to watch on BBC America, Robert and I managed to make a garden in two days that turned out rather well, as you can see here, halfway down the post (“Suzanne’s garden”), if you are interested.

A tip from tonight’s Gardeners’ World: At the base of a pineapple sage flower is a drop of sweet nectar to sip.  I must try this when mine bloom.

In the late evening, I started a fourth book, this time some serious non-fiction.

I hadn’t time to finish it today.  It is on a topic that always interests me, the tribulations and disturbing behavior to be found on social media.  Four good books on this topic from my past reading are This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship Between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture by Whitney Phillips, Hate Crimes in Cyberspace by Daniel Keats Citron, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson, and Shrill by Lindy West.

I found a good bookmark inside.

I am far from as intellectual as the author of Not All Dead White Men and am only vaguely familiar with the Greek Classics.  This made the book educational as well as interesting.

The weather forecast promises that I will be back to gardening at home tomorrow.






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Monday, 16 September 2019

The rocks from Seaview Sarah found a place in the new pond edge. All sorts of fun decorating can be done here.



Allan’s photo

I reorganized the area where my Panicum ‘Northwind’ had suffered, removing some old Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and a sanguisorba and rearranging the relationship between ‘Northwind’ and Geranium ‘Orion’.

Here is a Sedum AJ that escaped the Chelsea Chop, followed by another one that got the chop and is so much more compact and better looking.


I bagged up three huge sedums and a sanguisorba for Lezlie and potted up many starts of others (and lots of ‘Orion’) for my 2020 plant sale.

When Allan and I visited Mary, two doors down, I realized I had left my property.  Mary agreed it did not count because I had walked through the Nora House back yard and not on the sidewalk.

Allan was building a pallet compost bin for Marlene.  We both worked on our projects through a couple of intense rain squalls.



between squalls

Allan took the bin over to Marlene’s garden to assemble it. (His work at home had been repairing pallets so that they did not have broken slats.)  One of her dogs helped.

I see in Allan’s photos that she does have a lot of leaves!


Just as Allan left, some Mormon missionary helpers came to do more raking.

We had an especially delicious dinner of salmon caught by Mary’s husband, Jeff, from his boat The Salmonator.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

We had planned to work.  A wind and rain storm changed our minds.


this much rain

By the time the storm had passed by noon, my work momentum was gone.  Marlene had brought six more bags of leaves and the mowing of them proved irresistible.


This time, I put them in a larger area so that turning the mower around would be easier.  It would have helped if I had turned the gas switch on and had remembered that one must hold down the safety bar to start the mower.


Ten bags, chopped:


I moved an empty black composter into place in readiness for more leaves.

It does seem not very ecologically correct to burn gas to make leaf mold, even if Monty does it.  When we retire and have less compostable debris, I may stop the chopping and use one of the four big pallet bins for unchopped leaves.

Where I mowed, the lawn is red.  I hope the leaf leavings do it some good.


Allan did a fence repair by the front sidewalk.



Lezlie came to get the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and sanguisorba I had set aside for her.  I remembered to give her a book that MaryBeth had given me, from a book sale, an excellent book that I already have: Ann Lovejoy’s Organic Garden Design School.

Lezlie says, “Thanks, MaryBeth!”


Speaking of books….

a book: The Sensuous Garden by Montagu Don


I had time to finish it this evening.  Some takeaways:

From a chapter about tools:


From one of the colour chapters, about green:


I was reminded of when a retired garden designer recently walked through my garden and was pleased with the feeling of rest provided by the large green area of the fire circle lawn.

This passage in the blue chapter helped me realize that my achusa is this one, not the one on the noxious weed list.  Whew!


On sound (I especially like the first line):


On gardening:



Great gardening book with gorgeous photos, available from Timberland Regional Library!

We almost had peace upon the reading lap, almost, because it always ends with Jazmin hissing.


After five days off, we had better go to work tomorrow.

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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

The promised rain and 25 mph wind materialized, giving us a day almost off.

Skooter did not want to give up my chair.

Allan managed to stuff the landscape fabric strangled stump from Mike’s garden into the wheelie bin.

Only Allan did any work today, applying some mulch to make the shrubless areas at Mike’s look good till we get some plants to fill in.


I have a small start of Lonicera ‘Baggeson’s Gold’ which I hope will grow to match the other one (one photo later).

after; you can barely see the Lonicera at the back of the mulch

The mature L. Baggeson’s Gold clipped into a ball

Meanwhile, I caught up with the Tootlepedal blog and the Miserable Gardener blog. This post on the Miserable Gardener was especially good.  If you aren’t reading his blog, might I suggest that you should be.  It is unfailingly wonderful. He is my inspiration for sometimes writing about personal matters. I have never had a loss as deep as his, and I never could because I have never had a bond of over twenty years like the one he shared with his late wife. So any revelations I make in my own gardening blog are not as deep.

I finally finished the book that I have been reading just a bit of, for weeks, every night at bedtime.

I had given The Happy Isles of Oceania to Allan for his birthday.  While not as much about boating as I had thought it would be, it was fascinating.  Theroux is a curmudgeon of sorts and can come across as judgmental of the people of some of the islands (and some entire nations, especially France).  Sometimes I wondered if he saw himself as superior to assorted islanders.  I’d still recommend it because of passages like the following.

He likes to camp on beaches.

(Unfortunately and so often tragically, that is not the way of the world for women traveling alone.)

He loves the stars.

In Hawaii, he chose the rare luxury of staying in a $2500 a night (in 1991) bungalow resort, complete with personal butlers.

I’m happy to report that he then camped on a beach and achieved a goal of living on less than $2.50 a day instead of $2.500.

I also recommend his book Deep South.

New cat Jazmin is still in hiding.  Last night she slept at my feet for awhile before managing to open the closet door and find a secret spot inside.

Tomorrow our friends from Steveston, Canada, will visit, and we will tour the Bayside Garden, rain or shine.  Then we will all head to Ocean Shores for the north county garden tour.  Allan and I have the good fortune of being invited to stay in a guest house near Markham Farm, my very favourite garden, saving us a stressfully long one day trip and giving us time there to socialize with friends.  I am hoping it works out to have Kilyn and Peter tour Markham Farm, as well.  So there should be quite a garden tour sequence for the next week of blogging.

I am anxious about traveling, especially possible traffic accidents, being absolutely nothing like world traveler Paul Theroux.  Only garden tours get me willingly off the peninsula.


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Monday, 15 July 2019

We had rain overnight, not enough to make me regret running the sprinklers, but enough to delay watering Long Beach and Ilwaco till Wednesday, with other jobs to do tomorrow.

I finished a book that I’ve been reading this week.

Gardenlust by Christopher Woods

Here are my takeaways (probably impossible to decipher if you are reading this on a phone, for which I apologize).

A poetic dedication

Each chapter is about a garden made in this century, mostly public gardens.

I loved that The Garden of Flowing Fragrance, in the Huntington Botanical Garden, has a “Pavilion for Washing Away Thoughts”.

Kevin Scales, who designed Quinta da Granga in Portugal. made me happy by not being formally trained:

It struck me as unusual and daring that the author would criticize a garden, in this case the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London:

I’d love to tour the gardens of Carrie Preston, a Dutch garden designer:

She likes fading tulips: “That is the prettiest moment for a tulip, just as they start to fall over in a sigh.”

I like this:

Landschaftspark, a garden built around the ruins of a former iron plant, is one I’d like to see.

Look, Gasworks Park gets a mention.  Although it is mostly lawn around the old Seattle gasworks, as I recall.

The photos show that Landschaftspark has much more of a garden feel.

About a public garden in Australia, and public gardens in general:

In a chapter showing high rise vertical gardens:

About her Fisherman’s Bay garden in New Zealand, Jill Simpson says:

Out of all the gardens, hers and Carrie Preston’s are the one I would most like to see.

Gardenlust has a combination of large and glorious photos and thoughtful, critical prose.  It is a heavy book, one that you will want to read in a comfy chair.  You can get it from Timber Press or, if you are lucky like me and have access to the Timberland Library system, they have a copy.

I got my blog caught up just now and, within minutes, Devery will be here to bring us her cat, Jazmin.  We are adopting Jazmin because Devery is going to visit family for awhile.  We hope she will return to the peninsula that she loves so much.

Meanwhile, the back bathroom will be Jazmin’s haven, with the tray of fresh green cat grass from Lezlie, lots of comfy sleeping spots, and her own litter box and her bed that will remind her of her home with Devery.  She once lived right next door to us in the Nora house.  Within a couple of weeks, we hope to have Jazmin incorporated into the entire household and, eventually, the garden.


We had a farewell visit with Devery.

One More very blurry photo of Jazmin in her new haven. She is an affectionate cat and was happy to be petted.

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Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Scroll way down to skip all the verbiage and get to some photos from a garden visitor.

We took the day off to recuperate from the Shingrix jab, and a good thing, too, because we both felt puny, although not as puny as after the first jab three months ago.

I was especially looking forward to a book that had been mentioned in Alys Fowler’s Hidden Nature.  I had loved T.H. White’s Once and Future King so had high expectations.

As it turned out, I only liked small snippets.  Most of the book was about fishing and airplane flying (in the 30s) and hunting and killing birds.  I have to admit I skimmed those parts, especially the hunting.

Pretty much everything I liked:

It started so well.

He dissed Beverley Nichols in the preface.  I love Mr. Nichols’ books.

Some useful advice:

On identifying birds:

More about birdsong:

It is too bad he then spent chapter after chapter shooting birds.

I do like it when people talk about their fears.

I like this even though I am not entirely sure what it means; it reminds me of how I feel getting unasked for advice:

I also liked his chapter about snakes.

I liked what he wrote about the writing of personal topics:

And this; even though I do not live in or frequent the country, I am ruled by weather:

On identifying trees (something I am not good at):

And this, about lack of time:

Later, after skimming through a lot of bird killing, I found one more paragraph that I loved.

This fit in well with something else that was going on with my day. which I will get to in a bit.

Out of about 300 pages, that is all that I liked of England Have My Bones, other than two more passages which will appear below.  Fortunately, it had gone quickly because of skimming, leaving me time to read an excellent novel by a favourite author.  I have somehow missed her last two books.  (I had tried to go outside between books and do some gardening, but the flu-like feeling brought on by Shingrix barely gave me the oomph to water my container plants.)

On grief, after a loved one dies:

On being old:

Now that was a great book.  I have also missed her other recent novel, Vinegar Girl, and have ordered it.

Both books had passages that spoke to me of a recent event.  I had been informed by a voice from the distant past that someone who “tried to read” my blog had found it “self-serving, inane, and juvenal ” (referring, apparently, to a recent personal revelation)Because I am never ever at home to Mr. or Ms. Rude, I stopped reading at that point and spared myself several more paragraphs that will forever remain a mystery to me.

So I spent some time thinking about blogging itself (and about why someone would waste time reading something they felt was inane).

Any personal blog is self-serving and self-centered by nature, isn’t it?  Especially if it is mostly about one’s business.  I do try to promote other people’s gardens and businesses, and yet that is self-serving, too, because I want the places I love to be successful so they are there for me, especially if they are the places or gardens of people I love.  As for books, my reactions to anything I read are affected by, well, me, my experiences and my interpretations.

“Juvenal”??   Someone more well read than I told me that that could be a compliment.

As for juvenile, here is what Ann Tyler had to say in Clock Dance on the subject:

I felt that way as a child and feel that way as an adult so….okay.

But inane? No, I think not.  “silly, foolish, stupid, fatuous, idiotic, absurd, ridiculous, ludicrous, laughable, risible, imbecilic, moronic, cretinous, unintelligent, witless, asinine, pointless, senseless, frivolousnonsensical, brainless, mindless, thoughtless, vacuous, vapid, empty-headed”

Pointless, maybe.

Going back to England Have My Bones, TH White had this to say about writing personal things:

(Of course, blogging is not being a successful writer unless one monetizes it…unless being successful is bringing joy or interest to a few other people.)

One of my favourite blogs, The Miserable Gardener, goes deep into personal revelation.  Memoirs are my favourite genre of books and couldn’t exist without personal revelation.  But when I write personal things, I usually delete them so that they only exist hidden in the original blog draft.  Occasionally I let something stand, and then I feel anxious…like TH White.

I so appreciate Monty Don being open about his struggles with depression and seasonal affective disorder and Alys Fowler’s revelations in Hidden Nature, and the deep disclosures in memoirs by May Sarton, Nella Last, Doris Grumbach, Beverley Nichols, and my most beloved Marion Cran, and many more.

I found that my next three posts (published prior to this one) were stilted by the crawling feeling that someone might be reading them with hostility.  But…I’ve had a lovely blog comment not long ago about someone looking forward to when we semi -retire so that I can write more personal thoughts.  So….I will write them, be well aware that they may be annoying, immature, and egocentric, hide them, sometimes dare to publish them, and take what comes as a result.

After all that inane and self-centred navel-gazing, let’s have some refreshing photos from our dear friend Tony Hofer, who toured our garden with guests yesterday while we were at work.

Tony and friends visit our garden

Paul’s Himalayan Musk


Rosa glauca

I love that Tony noticed my new signs.


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