Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Ironside’

Monday, 16 April 2018

You may recall that starting in late 2004 up till just a few years ago, we planted and maintained the gardens at Discovery Heights.  When my knee started to plague me, we passed the job on to a younger gardening business, Flowering Hedge Design (Shelly Hedges and Terran Bruinier).  It is a job that requires a lot of clambering up rocks and hills.  These young women are most capable of such feats.

Terran and Shelly, photo courtesy Flowering Hedge Design

Terran just sent me some photos of their recent work on those gardens.  She says that almost all of the white narcissi are ones that we planted years ago that have naturalized.  It was her idea, back in 2004, to plant all white ones.  Terran and Shelly have removed some of the plants that the deer were destroying.  (I was startled way back when to find that deer eat yew!)

Terran and Shelly have formalized the garden by pruning those escallonias in the lower garden.  I always regretted having planted them so far forward!

Photos by Terran Bruinier:

lower garden, north side

lower garden, south side

lower garden, south side

middle garden

middle garden

upper garden

It pleases us greatly to see these gardens well maintained.  Just keeping them all nice and clean along the front edge is a big project.

More old photos of the gardens in this post: Three Gardens in Deer Country.

rainy day reading

The Monday weather started with much rain and wind.

Skooter snoozing

Allan ran errands, one of which was to pick up Calvin’s ashes at the Oceanside Animal Clinic.  Oh how terrible it felt to put the pretty little box of ashes next to the box containing Smoky’s remains, on the second tier of the table by my chair.  They will be interred in the garden with Smoky’s mother, Mary, when I can bear to do so.

Frosty, the last one of the three cat family, must miss his mother and his brother.

I know that Skooter misses Calvin, because Calvin incited and seemed to enjoy the Chasing Game. And I sometimes found them curled up next to each other on the bed.

I miss having a good lap cat.  Frosty likes the back of my chair, as shown above, and Skooter is not a lap cat.

I began my reading by finished Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden, while taking copious notes.

from Saturday night

This was rather shocking to me!

I was glad, later in the book, to see this:

A brilliant bouquet idea:

I had plenty of time left for more reading, and I finished two more books, each of which I had already begun.

I had started with book 2 of a novel series by Virginia Ironside, and then, partway through, I realized I must reread the first one.  I got it from the library:

With that one finished, I returned to the second in the series, which I had purchased.

I will share more when book 3 and 4, which I just ordered, arrive and get read.    I dote on the author because she wrote the helpful book about pet loss, Goodbye Dear Friend.

The sun came out for awhile, much to my dismay.  I kept reading, though.  Allan went out and mowed four lawns, the Norwoods, 2 doors down, Devery’s next door, and J’s across the street.  And the part of ours that was dry enough to be mowable.  They had all gotten so long with all the rainy days (and having to work on the rare nice day).

Norwood lawn

I was worried in the evening because Allan had a troublesome little cough and sniffle.  Oh please please please don’t let us be getting sick when we have so much to do.  (Spoiler: He does have a bad cold now and I feel an ominous tickle in my throat.)

Skooter, hours later

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Monday, 13 November 2017

Even though the storm lived up to its advance reputation, it did us no harm.  The lights flickered but did not go out.  It was perfect reading weather, except for missing a certain cat cuddled under my chin.  The remaining three cats are nice, and they like me, but they do not dote on me.

There was some excitement to watch on the local Facebook feed:

The wind speeds were dramatic.

The 89 mph was up at Radar Ridge, a high hill south of the Astoria Bridge.

From the Chinook Observer, late Tuesday:

Overnight wind gusts Tuesday-Wednesday:
Megler Mountain: 76 mph
Naselle Radar Ridge: 70 mph
Cape Disappointment: 60 mph  [that’s just across the Ilwaco marina from us]
Sustained wind speeds around 50 mph at times

Skooter watching the weather

Meanwhile, I read.

This history of the Dust Bowl enlightened me in a gripping can’t put it down way about the harshness of the drought and sky blackening, lung choking dust storms of the 1930s.  I’d learned a bit about it in school, where the idea that contour plowing could heal the land impressed me.  But I had no idea till now how bad the dust had been.

How beautiful the land once was:

The advice of using dust to mulch!!

“The best side is up”:

“We Americans have been the greatest destroyers of land…”

“You are filled with dirt.”

Static electricity from the dust storms made barbed wire fences spark and burned kitchen gardens.

This book will stick with me.  Because I love diaries, I was especially pleased with diary excerpts of a farmer, Dan Hartwell, that were woven into the story.

A man of poetic thought in a dying land:

Mr. Hartwell just plain broke my heart.  The diary just ends, with no idea of what became of him.

I had read the book straight through with nary a pause.  I have ordered a documentary movie that includes Bam White, one of the people whose story figures large in it: The Plow that Broke the Plains.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

When I woke up, I looked out the south window and the skyline had changed.  What was that big grey thing? My view had never included a big grey….building?  I was disconcerted.

When I figured it out, I asked Allan to have a look. “Is that the river?” he asked, mystified for a moment also, until he also realized….”It’s a truck!”

It moved and my normal view returned.

It would have been a pretty exciting day if the river had suddenly returned to right outside our back gate.

The full gale flag still flew at the port, and another wind front battered the house.  Good, another reading day.

Calvin now waits for cereal milk.

I read another book straight through without a pause.  I had just acquired my own copy of the best book about the loss of of a pet, one that I had read twice before when my extra good cats Orson, and later Dumbles, had died.

reading with Smoky’s brother, Frosty

I thought that this time, I wouldn’t cry my way through the book. But I did, in a cathartic way.  Virginia Ironside had collected poetry and essays along with the most heartfelt stories that were written in to her in her job as a British “Agony Aunt’ (like Dear Abby).

And this:

And the inscription on a pet’s gravestone: “Here lies love.”

Orson sunning himself on the sidewalk, round 1991

Dumbles, 1999-2011


I was pleased to find that Virginia Ironside has a Facebook page, along with several new books that I immediately ordered through interlibrary loan.  I’ve read her basic letters to an agony aunt book and one called “No, I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club“, about “aging disgracefully”, so I know I like her style.

Meanwhile, I had been inspired by The Worst Hard Time to finally read The Grapes of Wrath.  I had tried it last night, and just flicking through it made me think it was going to be a ponderous read.  Today, within seven pages I was mesmerized.  How had I missed this?  Allan has all of Steinbeck, a gift from his Grandma, Beulah Fones, who lived in Steinbeck country.  The only one I have read is The Red Pony, forced to in school and did not like it.  I have some catching up to do.

Allan’s Grandma Beulah

I read through half the book and finally had to sleep. I just needed a good rainy Wednesday to finish it.  That was not to be as the weather permitted work on the next day, and so I am still worried about the Joads, who just made it (well, some of them) across the desert into California.  I do not think their dreams are going to come true.

The moment I fell in love with The Grapes of Wrath, page 7, when young Tom Joad hitches a ride:

The refugees, trying to decide which possessions can go with them to California:

human kindness:

If I see someone traveling with a vehicle overloaded with possessions, and I have seen some vehicles that remind me of the Joads (because we know about the Joads even if we haven’t read the book), my immediate response is compassion and help, not turning away and contempt.  I fear for them and am going to get back to my reading the very minute I get this post scheduled.

(Allan has been busy working on a project involving his boating blog posts.  More on this later.)

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