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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…

and…

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, 18 March 2019

I woke to wind battering the house, sounding like a winter storm.

I so wanted to stay home with Frosty and Skooter.  Frosty wanted nothing to do with the outdoors.

We resolved to try to finish the center parking lot berm in Long Beach, the one that mostly involves just string trimming.

The Veterans Field flags nearby showed the strong east wind.  The temperature was warm and the east wind, usually icy cold, was just a bit cool.

Allan’s photo

I started work a half hour later than Allan because Jenna (Queen La De Da) was taking some items to her new Mermaid Sandcastle just across the parking lot.

 

After Jenna and I put the world to right, I joined Allan on the job.

Some of the mess of the center berm, with more of the miserable-to-weed crocosmia and rugosa rose combination:

Allan’s photo

The wind blew our wheelbarrow right over.

Allan’s photo

string trimmed and tidied (Allan’s photo)

Despite the wind, I wanted so much to erase santolinas AND berms from the work board that we went out to the Bolstad beach approach to trim the santolinas in the planters.

In the westernmost planter, I found that just in the last couple of weeks, someone had removed one of the large old santolinas, a project that would require standing on the bench or the dune wielding a shovel.

 

the hole

Most of the small plants have already been stolen. Now the big ones are the prey.

As I walked along, I found more large plants had been dug out. Up till now, most of the plants stolen could have been removed with hand tools.

This planter is also off balance with a big santolina removed from one side:

trimmed, for what it is worth (Allan’s photos)

Santolinas that size would not even transplant well and so probably the thief ended up with dead plants.  The plants LIKED it out here in the salty wind and open air.  They wanted to be left to live their quiet lives.

windy and fuming

trimming some ground level santolinas

Of course, the many blocks long ground level garden needs weeding….but not in lousy weather of any sort.

finding another planter with large stolen santolina…or rather, without it

Just every OTHER grape hyacinth dug up and stolen…how thoughtful to leave some.

A sea thrift used to be where that hole is.

This poor fella got replanted.

These planters used to all have a lot more plants. Even most of the little sea thrifts that the Basket Case Greenhouse donated last fall have been taken.

gesturing in outrage with The Toy at more holes.

Don’t even ask why there are so very few narcissi out in these planters; they have been dug and stolen batch by batch over the past few years along Bolstad.  I don’t bother to plant them anymore; it would be a waste of time and money.

Another planter, this one with our name on it from volunteer days, had its big old green santolina missing.

We stopped at city hall because I had an urgent need to kvetch and whinge to the city staff while Allan watered the entry ramp garden that gets no rain (being under wide eaves).

One brilliant staffer had the idea that the planters could just have landscape fabric and river rock put down (by the city crew, as if they have time for that….) around the few existing plants.  I said that would be a good solution.  What plants remain would look scree-garden-y and not so annoyingly off balance.  (A layer of small pea gravel would have to go down first and then the larger river rock, so that the underwear did not show).  I just cannot imagine how the city crew could find the time. And I feel too arthritic to haul bucket after bucket of rock at a work pace.   We are 64 and 66 years old, fer-cryin’-out-loud!!

[update: That idea was rejected because people might throw the rocks. Wildflowers were suggested, but they get stolen, too, and they won’t thrive in summer unless someone has time to water them with the Long Beach water truck.)

Regarding another common couple of suggestions: There is nowhere to put cameras, no one to monitor the footage, and thorny plants like barberries have been stolen as readily as plants without thorns.

I told the nice office staffers that once upon a time, I imagined keeping the Long Beach job till I was doddering along with a walker.  Now, I just think “two more years” (what counts as full retirement age for social security), because the thievery has sapped some of the joy out of the job.  The beach approach planters used to be beautiful, before whatever happened that brought on so much thieving.

From the glory days:

one of the beach planters in 2015

Allan weeding one of the western Bolstadt planters in 2015

3 Aug, beach approach; these planters have to be relatively drought tolerant and very salt wind tolerant.

It makes me sad to compare photos of how good they once looked to how they look today.

A reader of my instagram had a suggestion that had already crossed my mind, that each hole could have a sign that said “This empty space courtesy of a plant thief.”  That wouldn’t look appealing to the tourists.

Now….I will keep my focus on the downtown planters and parks.  I am done with even trying to replant on Bolstad. I have to stop my blood from boiling about this or I won’t make another two years of living, much less working.

We went home early because the wind was unbearable at 35 mph.

A block and a bit away from home, we applied some water from big green jugs (formerly kitty litter containers) to our newly planted bed at the fire station, under a wide eave so not getting much rain.

not much going on yet (Allan’s photo)

Frosty was thrilled to have me home early.

I calmed down by making about fifty santolina cuttings (feeling just like Carol Klein!), potting up some plant sale starts, and writing four blog posts.

Berms and santolinas got erased from the work board. Sweet peas and poppies have appeared as the next round of tasks. The beach approach weeding will have to wait.

Next day I realized I must add Boreas Inn to both sweet peas and poppy lists. Susie hasn’t had sweet peas since we passed the job to someone else two years ago. One of the reasons I took it back. I hope I can have sweet pea success like I used to there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday, 9 February 2019

The weather was too darn cold, almost freezing, to play around the pond today. All we managed to do was move a viewing bench into place before light snow began to fall.

The wheelbarrow ice has still not melted! I’ve never seen cold last so long here.

Most of the snow left the garden in last night’s rain.

Here is the view from our front porch today…

And here is our old cat, Maddie, in that same garden eight years ago, a memory brought up by Facebook today.

The front garden

Hebe and crocus

Prevented from ponding, we drove three blocks east to the River City Playhouse to see local singing trio The Oyster Crackers, including our friend Christl, who manages the Wiegardt Gallery (one of our former gardening jobs).

This benefit for the local food bank was a full house, with cookies.

Allan’s photos (Rita Smith, Christl Mack, Bette Lu Krause):

Back at home, I found on YouTube some episodes of the Chelsea Flower Show 2018 to enjoy, followed by the first two episodes of Monty Don’s Around the World in 80 Gardens.

Meanwhile…

Sunday, 9 February 2019

Bitter cold and cutting wind did not stop us from finishing the liner-hiding driftwood edge at the back of the bigger pond.

Allan got such a good collection of driftwood on Friday!

Allan aboard the good ship Ann Lovejoy

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

The ponds were both lightly iced over.

The wheelbarrow ice has still not melted.

My plant sale plants are putting up with the cold surprisingly well.

Before going back indoors to write these four ponding posts (on my iPad because I am too lazy to boot up the computer), I took some photos of our project. Other than adding some more river rock around the edges, I must wait for a thaw till the next stage, planting.

I’ve always felt intimidated to make a pond. Monty Don’s shows told me how to do it, and he inspired me to try by saying that even if you fail at a project, you’ll have learned something.

How I long for the day when some frogs move in!

Allan finished a blog post of his own about boating in late January. If you missed it, you can read it here.

We were planning to go back to work on Tuesday, February 12th, to get Long Beach’s Fifth Street Park and Street planters and The Shelburne Hotel garden looking tidy for Presidents Day weekend four days later. With temperatures predicted to be in the 30s and very low 40s all week, I think not. Surely the tourists will not be shocked to see weeds and the ornamental grasses still standing. After all, Monty does not cut his grasses back till Gardeners’ World starts broadcasting in March. And I have many episodes of old GW, Love Your Garden, Garden Rescues, and Chelsea Flower Show to pass the time.

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Friday, 8 February 2019

Note: While on staycation, I mostly take photos with my phone, leading to photos that are a bit softer, unfortunately.)

We still have snow.

Front window view:

The temperature was still so cold that in the back garden, not even in the shade, wheelbarrow ice had not melted.

First, I gave biscuits to my friends next door.

I’d had a brainstorm before rising this morning: plastic window boxes would work well for plants on the pond shelves.

I fretted for awhile on whether green or brown would be hidden better under the water. (I can’t plant these up with marginal plants yet because my plants are still frozen into their pots.)

Our friend Mark, a pond owner, reminded me later that algae will hide either color!

The cold water felt painful on our hands. Nevertheless, Allan redid the driftwood edge on the back of the little pond that has gotten dislodged while making the big pond; he inserted blue broken pottery to hide the liner.

I worked on placing rocks and broken pottery “waves”. Just using the rocks we have makes for a rather jumbled effect which I hope to improve on later.

This time, I added some green broken pottery. A friend’s photos of waves at nearby Cape Disappointment State Park have enlightened me that ocean waves contain a lot of green.

Photo by Donna McKinley

Icy cold rain sent me indoors. Allan decided to go, despite the rain, to a secret driftwood collecting spot; we needed some to hide the liner that is tucked up against the boat at the back of the big pond.

On his quest:

Before he returned, the rain stopped and I went back out for more pond edging.

Allan unloaded his excellent collection of driftwood and went into the pond like Monty Don.

He had found the perfect very thin piece of wood to screw into the boat in order to hide and secure the top of the liner.

The long pieces of driftwood will further hide the liner and make good shade for frogs…but not today because daylight ended.

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Thursday, 7 February 2019

Predicted snow did not arrive and so we were able to continue on with the bigger pond. A small land bridge divides the two ponds for several reasons. It will allow me to get to the boat for boat gardening. It lets us avoid a weird L shaped liner fold. And it isolates problems so a leak would be easier to find and fix.

The back garden still had considerable snow.

I raked all around our new work area to remove packed ice.

Those hoses from yesterday were lightly frozen into the smaller pond. When I tossed little smooth rocks on top (to go to the bottom and hide the liner), they just sat.

Allan’s photo:

The second pond had more little rocks to remove (the results of having been a scree garden). Allan deepened the bottom a bit and we sculpted the edges.

Allan’s photos:

Allan is able to hop in and out of the pond more easily than I could.

We siphoned water out of our faucetless rain barrels, bucketed out of others, used every bucket of water we’d had sitting around and every green jug Allan had filled up last week…

…and we still had to use metered water to fill up the last few inches. I could not wait for more rain to see how it looked full.

While the pond filled, I found some marginal pond plants reseeded into the patio (from the water boxes) and potted them up in plain bagged soil, not potting soil, put little rocks on top, and placed the plants at the back of the small pond.  I had hidden the liner there  with some driftwood

There was a sudden crisis when I realized that we had not used the board and level method of making sure the sides were even. The west edge was deliberately higher, but the land bridge was too low for the pond to fill high enough to cover up my pond planters. Fortunately, I had saved a wheelbarrow of the brown sand for just such an emergency. Much rushing about, squabbling, and swearing (mine) ensued but we averted catastrophe and got the land bridge built up and tamped down so that the pond could fill by dark.

I even had time to add just a few rocks.

Snow is again predicted for tomorrow. I hope to have time to work on hiding the liner. We ended up with enough leftover liner and underlayment to make me question our measuring skills. If the extra liner does not have enough of a wide part to make another mini pond or stream, I can use it to make a bog garden. Allan measured it and put it tidily into boxes.

Frosty (age 14) had wanted nothing to do with this icy and challenging project.

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6 Feb: ponding

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

The pond materials arrived from The Pond Guy a day early.

Allan’s photo

We were determined to get the small pond done.

Snow had melted in Allan’s garden on the east side of the house.

Some plants have been laid flat.

Between the house and shed, snow still lingered, blanketing some of my plant sale plants. Even the plants without the protective white blanket appear to have survived the cold, down to 26 F at night.

I’d feel more secure if I had been able to fit all of them into the greenhouse.

I recently learned from Gardeners’ World that I could have put winter dormant plants under the greenhouse shelving. Too late for this year. Next year, that will make more room.

Snow still lay firmly over the back garden, despite sunshine.

I was pleased to find that my special Dan Hinkley plant that I bought at last summer’s Hardy Plant Weekend, now in a pot too heavy to move, seems ok with the cold. I had asked him what plant I should buy that would make other gardeners envy me and he said this one. (I should look up the name. The pond is distracting me.)

Also on the patio

I eagerly went to the little pond, only to find that the ground was frozen solid so that the edge could not be sculpted. Happily, after an hour indoors, the temperature warmed enough so that we were able to carve out the plant shelf edge in a different spot (the thawed side!) than I had planned. The frozen side will be the gentle slope that frogs (and I hope not raccoons) are said to like.

I almost forgot to be like Monty Don and use a board and level.

It was perfect.

I raked the snow from around the pond to avoid working on a mat of ice.

Allan was glad to have the Nora House driveway for laying out the underlayment and liner. Later, I saw a hint on Gardeners’ World: Monty said to lay out the liner in the sun for an hour to warm up. I don’t think that would have helped today. He uses a butyl liner. Our is heavy but not that heavy. (I think we could have bought butyl liner from Firestone…but Pond Guy has a good reputation so we went with his, which is, by the way, heavier and cheaper than Home Depot’s liners).

I was glad the underlayment is dark, not white.

Skooter helped (Allan’s photo)

We were able to run hoses from two faceted water barrels to fill it up.

After helping

I wanted to put rocks all around…but the temperature had dropped so much and dusk was fast approaching.

That’s as far as we got today.

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Friday, 1 February 2019

We had a day of chilly rain, which meant a wonderful binge of Gardeners’ World 2018 on BritBox. I am watching on my iPad and making many screenshots and notes.

Allan filled the jugs so that we will have more rain water for filling our pond after the liner comes.

He went to the library and found this hellebore being admired by patrons.

He also had a look where a handsome sailboat had sunk down at the port, we know not why.

Here it is the summer before last:

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Surprisingly good weather meant I had to tear myself away from Gardeners’ World and turn and sift a bin and a half of compost.

rain in the pond hole

bin three

my audience

You can hear the crows in a short video, here.

I got halfway through sifting bin four before near dusk.  All the siftings went into the garden beds where I had added sand.

After my compost frenzy, I picked some flowers for Jenna’s sneak peek Mermaid Sandcastle party.

We attended the party for of all of fifteen minutes but did bring the bouquet and chocolate chip cookies made by Allan.  (I have to confess, I was anxious to have time in the  evening to watch Gardeners’ World.)

IMG_0308.JPG

The cute house behind the giant fry pan.

Jenna’s photo

The hellebores might be wilted by tomorrow, but the other parts of the bouquet will stay for awhile.

I was amazed at how Jenna had pulled the house together since we had been there eight days before.

treats

IMG_0292.JPG

and more treats

Jenna’s spouse, Don, doing caricatures.

Jenna and one of her mermaids

Sunday, 3 February 2019

I am pleased to report that Sunday was cold enough to be an all Gardeners’ World day for me.  I also finished this supremely enjoyable book.

…..

I’d like to see those surveys. I am skeptical that gardening leads to longevity. I know of too many wonderful gardeners who have died before 70, even before 60, of cancer and ALS.

I rather share the author’s thoughts about death:

I, on the ….

I remember clearly my moment of realizing I was going to die someday. I knew it, of course, but late one night, as a teenager staying overnight at my grandma’s house, the realization struck me that someday I will just not be here at all. I’d never given it much thought before that moment. I can still remember the way the dark polished wooden headboard gleamed in the lamplight as I noticed my blurred reflection.

Even if gardening won’t let us all live to 100, the happiness and interest that it brings to life make it a worthwhile pursuit anyway.

………………………………………..

Before bedtime on Sunday night, Allan looked out the window and saw an unusual sight which he proceeded to photograph in an unearthly white glow at midnight.

the water boxes

 

 

 

Compost bins

achillea

Frosty on the front porch

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