Posts Tagged ‘staycation’

Here are some takeaways from just some of the books I read in December.

Smoky was my familiar!

Language Arts

I do wish the library would be more careful with their stickers.  The author wrote one of my favourite novels ever, Broken For You.  I liked seeing the memoirist, Doris Grumbach, mentioned in the acknowledgments.  I would like to reread Doris’s memoirs.

The first couple of chapters inspired me to give the book a high rating. It is grim, so you might want to skip on to the next book.


Oh dear.  (I do wonder what enlightened parents and grandparents of the newest generation think about the future.)  The author proposes no solutions.

…an utterly fascinating history book by one of my favourites.  (I adore her memoir, Waiting for My Cats to Die.)  In a telly show I recently was struck by the cheerful looking red aerial tramway in New York—turns out it comes from the former “Damnation Island”.

I am one of the lucky ones who can “do what I love” for work, partly from a willingness to be what most of the people I know would consider poor.


On the generational economic impact of racism:


(This is covered in depth in the book Waking Up White.)


Makes me even more determined to represent real working class life.

still more serious reading

I also burned through a most exciting mysteries, the Maeve Kerrigan series by Jane Casey and all of Belinda Bauer’s mysteries.  Both had been recommended to me as worthy successors of Ruth Rendell.  Bauer is the most like Rendell, and one of hers was the best psychological suspense that I had read since Ruth died.

I read Ketzel Levine’s Plant This—actually a reread because I had read them all when they were columns in the Oregonian.

I realized that the reason I have so many of the plants she writes about it because, through those Oregonian columns, she inspired me to buy them.

Sometime before the end of January, I hope to do the overview of the complete year of reading.

Skooter helped with this post.

After tomorrow morning’s post, I’ll be returning to reading, garden puttering and Gardeners’ World for another two or three weeks.   I also must visit an ear specialist over an hour and a half away—a road trip being just about the last thing I want to do on staycation. I have accomplished nothing of my winter house projects nor have I acquired and spread yards of mulch in the garden. (Weather and the potting project have gotten in the way.)  I still hope to do some of that in the last three weeks of staycation…even though it is seeming more and more unlikely.



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It is December 11th.  I had no intention of blogging, until suddenly needing to boot up my computer to add the new manager of Klipsan Beach Cottages to the KBC Facebook page….and de administrate myself. It felt odd and poignant to let go of a page I created and have administered and for which I have done all the photos since…2009.  I gardened there for over 20 years.  Soon we will be visiting former managers Mary and Denny in their new home.

Since I booted up, I might as write and schedule a few blog posts before I retreat back into my blogging break.  We began December with a streak of almost summer-like weather.

December 2nd is an already forgotten day…weeding? reading? weather? I have no idea…with no photos other than this one of Skooter in the very late morning:

Monday, 3 December 2018

We had had some rain.  Perhaps this photo tells us that Sunday was a reading day. My Sony camera sometimes does not open all the way, annoying if I don’t see that I need to push it open manually.  (The Lumix thoroughly plotzed with a “system error zoom”, after less than a year, as usual.)

yellow rain gauge, halfway full

The water boxes are full again.

summer-planted extra sweet pea seeds, grew into lots of foliage and an occasional soggy flower.

Helichrysum and bacopa still lush and happy

I spent most of the afternoon digging Ficaria verna (Ranunculus ficaria) from the east fire circle bed.  It runs like crazy through the garden.

Ficaria verna today

It tries to leave as many little brown root nodules behind as possible, which is why this is a battle where the human will not prevail.

At least I can slow it down.

The plain old creeping buttercup, also shown above, is much easier to remove.

In other garden news, I am working on widening the East Willow Loop path, which has become so narrow in summer that is had ceased to be part of the garden tour here.

opened up

At the end, to the left, was the encroaching ficaria patch.

center bed and Rozanne Loop path

I covered my gunnera with its own leaves to protect it from frost….

…and put a few leaves in the van to go to the gunnera in Long Beach.

Fortunately, the short daylight hours give plenty of time for reading in the late afternoon and evening.  I cannot remember who recommended that I read Radio Free Vermont.  Thank you, I loved it.

This is also how we feel on the Long Beach Peninsula:

For comparison, Ilwaco has under 1000 residents.  It might be growing, but it is growing slowly.


This is so true when moving to a small town:



I have read of town meetings elsewhere, possibly in Maine, in the memoirs of Doris Grumbach (whose books I highly recommend).

Radio Free Vermont is not all talk; it has adventure, suspense, and a ski chase, so give it a try.





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Friday, 22 December 2017

I continued my study of the Dust Bowl years.

Dust Bowl Diary

Favourite parts:

When I was a child, my grandma’s phone was on a party line, and she did hear when the two other folks on the line were listening in.

Before the “dirty thirties” destroyed people’s kitchen gardens:


I cried, too.

My grandma made soap like this, well into the 1970s:

Gram making soap on her patio on a winter day

Ann rode all over the countryside on her feisty horse.  Later, between the drought and dust, and the country getting broken up with with government projects, the loss of beauty gave her a great desire  to get away.

Ann was a fearless horsewoman:

Christmas, when you are poor:

Just after I read about her brother walking miles to school in the snow, I took a break and opened a Christmas card from my friend Montana Mary, who described how her Christmas shopping plans were thwarted by “…snow and ice…the pass to the big city of Bozeman is frozen over.”  (She did well with the offerings of her nearby town.)

Details of the Dust Bowl continue to distress me:

Trying to find something green:

May 21, 1934, the one of the most famous Dust Bowl storms:

Her story made clear to me why the plain folks distrusted the government.  The New Deal was trying to turn a large portion of land into a wildlife refuge, but the citizens thought the plans were muddled and ever-changing, and they were being pressured to sell for no profit or at a loss.  It’s a different look at the New Deal than the textbook view.  It is well worth perusing a few excerpts and pondering why that distrust may reverberate unto today:

Ann was pursued for marriage by several men, as she held firm to her desire to work as a teacher and not be married.  I think Seth was the third determined suitor:

Two persistent suitors and the endless dust:

and another suitor, and more of Ann’s determination for independence:

Later, her determination continues:

…and later…

Here she is, the rebellious and independent heartbreaker and her beloved second horse, Roany:

I wanted to know Ann and I wanted her dreams to come true.  I felt like I had spent the day in the Dust Bowl and was grateful to always have a cup of water right by my chair.

From my favourite passages, you’ve had just the slightest glimpse into Ann’s life.  If this period of history interests you, you will want to read the whole book (and to find out if she married Seth, Mark, Oswald, Cap, or no one at all).

Two days later, I read another Dust Bowl story, this one a young adult novel, in the form of a diary written in free verse. (Why?I would rather it had been in prose diary form.)

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

Even though it won a Newberry Medal, something happens in the plot line that was so horrific that I hesitate to recommend it. It could have given me nightmares had I not tried my hardest to put it out of my mind.    And yet, one chapter is about a night blooming cereus, and that pleased me.

It’s well worth a read, but that plot twist…was almost too much for me.

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Thursday, 7 December 2017

I slept long, and so did Skooter.

In the afternoon, Allan went boating again.  He will write up two days together for tomorrow’s post, because yesterday’s trip was not entirely a success, and today he returned to the same place to go further.  (I hear cries of “Thank goodness, we’ll have something to read about other than compost bins!”)

The day was warm, so warm that I had the back window and the front door wide open.  While hauling yesterday’s pile of chopped honeysuckle out to the trailer, I  had to find a summer weight shirt to wear, after having packed them away for winter.

I sorted out the wheelbarrow of purple lysimachia (went into the wheelie bin) and Sedum “Autumn Fire’ (went into a pile to save).

I picked up some windfall branches from the back yard next door, and saw a view that was worth going to the house for the camera.

crab pots being readied for the seaon

Unfortunately, the latest tests show the crabs do not have enough meat and it has been decided that the season will not begin till January.  Many years ago, after visiting and falling in love with this area, I subscribed to the Chinook Observer, the local weekly.  During the winter of 1991, I sat at my table in Seattle and read about a delayed crabbing season and about how the local fishing families were suffering economically at Christmas time.  When I read that a restaurant at the port offered free holiday meals to fishing families, I knew that this was where I wanted to live.  The way the community pulled together in hard times impressed me deeply.  (The restaurant in question might have been the former Reel ‘Em In Café.)

the latest windfall

My own little frustration is that tonight would have been a perfect evening for a campfire, being windless.  I knew Allan would not return till after dark,  and I would have felt rather selfish eating a campfire dinner on my own.  Especially since he was the one who had gone to the store to get sausages.

I feel pressured because it is so hard to get to just stay home on staycation.  We have Important Things to Do for the afternoons or evenings of the next three days.  This strangely warm winter* weather is supposed to go well into next week, though.  I hope so.

*As far as I am concerned, fall is Sept-Oct-Nov and winter is Dec-Jan-Feb.

The only indication of winter is the low angle of the sun and seasonal look of the garden.  Otherwise, it felt like a summer day.

2:20 PM

Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ and smokebush

some interesting new growths on the dead “Danger Tree” snag

Frosty walked with me.

After some inexpert pruning of my leaning ‘Cox’s Orange Pippen Tree…

before…it’s leaning to the east

after, some big eastern branches removed

…I measured my compost area (again!) to figure out if a fourth bin would fit.

I don’t use the plastic bin; we have three of them.

I thought about having to empty all the bins at once and then realized that the bins could be moved without having to empty them all at once.  Starting at the near end, one could be moved, and the others shifted as they get emptied.  Eureka!   At the same time, we could move them forward, making room to walk between them and the greenhouse.  I need two more pallets to make another bin.

It has proved annoying when debris falls into this narrow space. And there is no room to maintain the greenhouse exterior.

There is room at the far end, too, if that batch of hops and honeysuckle were pruned regularly.

I simply had to start tearing a bin apart and get it moved.  I just could not wait. I would tie it together and later Allan could do the good job that he likes to do. I managed to tear off one side and move it over.  To my intense frustration, I could not get the back pallet off.  It got wodged into the other one and stuck by one screw.  I worked and worked at it and finally had to give up.

When I dragged the plastic composter to the back of the garden, I looked wistfully through the gate at the pile of gear shed pallets, and then realized that I have one under the wood pile.  I dumped the wood onto the tarp and dragged the pallet up to the compost area.  Now I just need one more.  I considered walking down to the dump pile near the boatyard where sometimes free pallets appear, and rolling one home.  I wasn’t quite that obsessed; it’s a five block “roll”.  (A Flintstones roll of a square object.)

I was left with a great big mess again…but tomorrow Allan will help me.

If we can get bin one set up, I can start shifting compost from bin two into it.  Because the wood pile pallet was a little smaller, I think the fourth bin might even fit in without moving the whole thing over.  (But will it bother me to to have one slightly smaller bin? Yes.) Bins two and three do need to come forward about a foot as they get emptied out.

Other than garden touring, this is the most satisfying event of my year, or will be, when that one danged stuck pallet gets moved.

I could not do my original plan of clipping more debris to compost, so instead I finished the daylight by clipping old hellebore leaves throughout the front garden.  They carry disease and must be discarded. I loosely filled the wheelie bin and didn’t even get to the back garden hellebores.

When Allan returned after dark, he went to the free wood pile and scored two more pallets.  Joy! Tomorrow, he will help me complete bin one.  No sleeping late, because we must get it done in time to go to a rally in Ocean Park.

Tonight, we have a new disc of Stranger Things, season one, so life is extra good.

Next:  Allan’s boating adventure.  We’ll get back to composting soon, never fear.

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Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Skooter also sleeps late.

After a good long sleep, I returned to my composting project.  The wind was an annoying 30 mph, and yet the weather was so warm that I did not need a jacket.  Allan went off boating in the afternoon to take advantage of the brisk wind.


Before I finished tidying, I had the urge to remove the “hat” from the honeysuckle hops tangle.

1:43 PM

This is nothing on the hat that grew at the top of a power pole at my old house.  From this post written in 2007: That one was scary, as it had to be done with pole pruners and involved trying to avoid some big power lines.  We had to leave the hat in place or risk catastrophe.


Today’s was easy in comparison.

It is a glorious moment of triumph when a big tangle starts to break free.

2:30 PM

I left the uncompostable honeysuckle pile on the lawn.  The wind made it impossible to drag it out and load it neatly into the trailer.  It would have blown all over the street.  Instead, I turned back to the compost project and chopped up and added the remaining pile of debris, that had been sitting on the nearby garden bed,  into bin one.  Underneath it was a patch of Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’ and some purple lysimachia that I was heartily sick of.  I dug it out, put it all into a wheelbarrow to sort later, and decided I could probably move a Spirea ‘Goldflame’ from the center of the garden to the edge.

The spirea was lost in the middle of the garden.

Much to my delight, I did manage to dig it out all by myself (not entirely easy).  When I got it dragged out to the edge, I felt sort of bored with it and realized I could switch it out with a couple of blueberries at the south end of willows loop.

Now the spirea is in the bed to the left…

And the blueberries are where they will get more sun and watering.

That was all tremendously satisfying, as was the final raking of the compost area.

4:30 PM

Backing up further begins to reveal the mess left behind on the lawn.

At dusk, I was able to remove “re-do compost corner” from the work board.

I heard Jenna’s voice outside.  Allan had returned from boating and came in with a prize, a plaque by artist Don Nisbett to say thank you for helping decorate the crab pot tree and more:

I did some reading in my current book…

Cover is edited by me to remove DT’s mug.

The hassle of being camera-ready:

Katy Tur writes not just about the political scene, but also the rigors of being a reporter on the same beat every day, staying in hotels or the news van and eating fast food because there’s no time for anything else.  At the nomination celebration, the reporters were given some good food for a change:

I didn’t finish the book quite yet.  We had watched Blade Runner: The Final Cut yesterday evening.  To my amazement, Allan had not seen the film before; it’s one of my favourites.  Tonight, we watched a “making of” feature that surprised us by being two and a half hours long.  It was interesting in every detail.

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Saturday, 25 November 2017

Frosty playing with his Snooter-doots Kitty Karrot

We did some shopping at the port for Shop Small Saturday.  You can read about that here, on our Ilwaco blog.  Before shopping, Allan helped Jenna finish putting up the holiday lights at the Don Nisbett Art Gallery.

The Howerton Avenue side of the shop; you enter on the Waterfront Way side.

I walked down, after Allan responded to Jenna’s call for assistance, with a fresh picked bouquet of autumnal flowers.

It’s only a two and a half block walk, so I didn’t bother with the knee brace.

I was so happy to see Jenna out and about after her recent surgery. Isn’t she adorable?

me and Jenna, who was not getting poked with the red twig dogwood stick.

The view from Waterfront Way:

double gale flag indicates more wind coming

In Don’s art gallery:

Don Nisbett (Allan’s photo)

After shopping, we noticed a couple of summer flowers in winter:

a white mallow (Allan’s photo)

I’ve noticed two different Eryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’ throwing out short, pale, not especially blue late autumn flowers.  I have never seen them do this before.

At home, I settled down to read the past year’s worth of Fine Gardening magazines from the library.

The editor’s column is amusing.

According to this reader’s tip, you can stick carrots in the ground (?!?) and get beautiful umbel flowers the same year.  I am amazed this would work.  I am going to try it.

From an article about garden photography by David E. Perry:

I want this stream.  Could I get it together to create such a thing?

An idea if the suspected verticillium wilt reappears in my garden:

My list of plants to acquire is growing from the monthly plant picks:

Andropogon gerardii ‘Blackhawks’ (Blackhawks little blue stem)—a must have dark burgundy ornamental grass

It would be fun to grow “Windsor’ fava bean, said to germinate well in cool soils.

Carpinis fangiana (“Fang’s Hornbeam’) with long white tassel flowers.  I like tassels almost as much as I like spikes.

Arisaema consanguineum (Himalayan cobra lily), said to be easy to grow.

With the magazines read, I will still have time to catch up on the Tootlepedal blog and perhaps to get back to Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck.

Later: from Fine Gardening, I learned that kelp fertilizer is gleaned by “strip mining kelp forests”. And that it’s sort of a woo woo product, not backed up by scientific studies.

Now I’ve added so many plants to my must have list that I cannot possibly find them all or find space for them all.

For those who are interested in such lists, I’ve pasted it here (don’t know why some names got underlined).

Clematis chiisanensis ‘Lemon Bells’

Apios Americana (groundnut, edible tubers and beans)

Panicum virgatum ‘Hot Rod’

Sedum ‘T Rex’. Serrated leaves

Amoracia rusticana ‘Variegata‘. Variegated horse radish. Said to not be invasive.

Epimedium ‘Washunense’

Salvia ‘Madeline’ and Salvia ‘Wesuwe’ (Piet Oudolf likes the latter)

Lonicera ‘Kintzley’s Ghost’ Must have, think it’s the one I saw at Deerly Missed.

Clematis tangutica ‘Helios’

Aralia ”Sun King’

Jerusalem artichoke. Deer resistant and likes drought. Might be good outside fence. Used to grow it in Seattle.

Plectranthus effusus var longitubus (trumpet spurflower, shade)

Boltonia asteroides ‘Nally’s Lime Dots’

Cornus kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’ (can grow in shade and cut back)

Eupatorium hyssopifolium

Polyganatum odoratum ‘Angel Wing’

Athyrium ‘Godzilla’ (Plant Delights has it)


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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

On the 30th, I took a break from reading time with the feeling that I simply MUST remove the Christmas tree, eager to have the space back because I wanted to put my mother’s old desk there.  I had used it for blogging during Christmas time and realized I liked it much better for that purpose than the blue table.

I needed my space back!

I needed my space back!

many precious ornaments carefully packed away

many precious ornaments carefully packed away

new spot for blogging with a view

new spot for blogging with a garden view

Before putting away my village houses, I thought I should photograph them in order to study the details.  I acquired them from Swanson’s Nursery in Seattle back in Dcember 2005.  The backdrop is kitchen condiments, as I was in a hurry to be done with Christmas and move on.  Pretend it is a mountain range (of pink salt and of pepper).

IMG_1730 IMG_1731







Thursday, 31 December 2015

This books was extraordinary.

This book was extraordinary and all about restaurant life.

This is how we get treated as weekly regulars at the Cove Restaurant.

This is how we get treated as weekly regulars at the Cove Restaurant.

the call and response

the call and response

the ebb and flow

the ebb and flow



dealing with annoying customers:


poor old chocolate lava cake:


restaurant workers:


This gives away nothing of the plot.  Bread and Butter is a flawless book.

Meanwhile, Allan made a sturdy new cat ramp that replaced one that had been hurriedly made before we moved in :

before, getting pretty wobbly

before: getting pretty wobbly, saggy and missing a step


after, now strong enough for a raccoon family (that we hope don’t come back)

And he took some photos of what I believe is a female stellar jay:




Allan keeps us alive during stay(book)cation by foraging for groceries and for the daily mail from the post office.

Seen by Allan in the back window of a vehicle:


Friday, 1 January 2015

Wind blew down a tree on some important power lines partway up the Peninsula and all of our friends at the north end, including Todd and Dave and Melissa were without power till after 9 PM.  I was glad we were not affected as the day was cold and we have no alternate source of heat.

I followed Bread and Butter with another book by the same author.


On page 44, it rocketed to another ten star rating.

This author has a knack for picking subjects that interest me:

ALS (a friend died of it and I fear it) in the novel You’re Not You. The film kind of butchered it.

Restaurant life in Bread and Butter.

And now alternative co-op life (and food co-ops and feminism and small farms) melded with something maybe a little apocalyptic. She knows just what I like to read about.

This is just how I feel when someone posts a meme on Facebook justifying spanking.


(Below) Co-ops like these still exist in Madison. The Womyn’s Coop is now called Avalon. The name change was not so long ago. I read some websites about them. So fascinating.


She has life with an alcoholic perfectly pegged:



just how it is

just how it is

Michelle Wildgen is a new favourite novelist, but unfortunately I have now read all her books.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

I began a long novel by another favourite:


The title comes from a favourite quotation of mine:


I do feel that attention should be paid to the fact that Allan had a birthday! In the evening, we were joined at the 42nd Street Cafe by Dave and Melissa, Todd, J9, and Patti.  It was not the weekend for Kathleen to be here, and we were sorry she could not attend.

Places were set for three absent friends, Ed Strange (who had to help some friends wash dishes at another restaurant) and Susie and Bill (who had to attend to guests at their B&B, the Boreas Inn).


Patti got her caesar salad with calamari deconstructed, so she could take half of it home.

J9 observes the pepper grinding.

J9 observes the pepper grinding.

Three of the party chose comfort food (stroganoff)

Three of the party chose this comfort food (stroganoff).

J9's squash and gorgonzola ravioli

J9’s squash and gorgonzola ravioli

Melissa got the pork dish.

Melissa got the pork dish.

The 42nd Street provides an exciting touch for birthday dinners:

the sparkler!

the sparkler!

the perfectly tiny chocolate mint sorbet

the perfectly tiny chocolate mint sorbet


Melissa and I checking out Allan’s new hairy lip (Cheilanthes lanosa) fern from Todd

Another gift: about a fern quest:


a good evening

a good evening

Melissa and I arranged one more trip to see Star Wars midweek.  Other than that, I plan to be re-immersed in reading time with as few interruptions as possible.

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