July 2012

Monthly Archive

Today in the Garden

Posted by on 31 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, housework, Uncategorized

There are little treasures everywhere in the garden now.

One of the dahlias by the driveway, the arrow pointing left in the last post, is finally blooming.

Pink dahlia, Lupin Shiela

The image links to the Dan’s Dahlias page with a full description. This is one of the few surviving plants from the Seattle Flower and Garden Show. I had nine new plants this year, only 5 survived.
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Posted by on 29 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

I spent two hours weeding this morning, and made a dent in the heather bed by the driveway. Tom showed up just as I was about done (physically done, not done with the task) and worked another hour.
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Filling in some gaps

Posted by on 27 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

Here are a few pics in gallery style of the garden from the last couple of days: a pink petunia and other plants in front of the living room, the beginning of the re-emergence of the heather bed (there are five more heathers hiding in the grass and blackberries), the garden chairs, the red, yellow and blue flowers in the center of the veggie garden, and Lucky.
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Two Days in the Garden

Posted by on 25 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: cooking, food, fun, garden, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

More garden progress, and activities, and fun!

Yesterday (Tuesday) we kid-sat for my friend Reyna. Her kids are a LOT of fun. I didn’t take pictures because we were so busy, but trust me. There doesn’t exist a cuter entering kindergartner or a more capable big brother. We played Bocce Ball, “Spy Alley” and watched Rocky & Bullwinkle as well as reading a story, digging in the garden for worms for the turtle and playing with Lucky. And harvesting (and eating immediately) the lovely red huckleberries in the back yard.

We also wandered in the garden a bit. I wrapped the fabric I bought for the chair cushions around two of the smaller forms and safety-pinned them in place. I used an older pillow cover I made for the biggest cushion and put the chairs out in the garden.

[Good pics of the chairs will have to come later, I apparently took pics of everything in the garden but the chairs! For the moment, the chairs are almost visible in the second photo below.]

Today (Wednesday) we harvested enough plums to make jam tomorrow, put a few more sticks through the trellis to help the beans grow into the sun.

Tom going for plums:

Bean trellis:

bean trellises with side view of chairs with cushions

And then, in the evening…


yes! the first carrots of the growing season.

Finally, we got some sugar-pod peas that the deer had spared long enough for them to grow.

And then Tom made stir-fry with our fresh veggies, kale and some left-overs. It was nice and simple. And very, very yummy.

It was a good couple of days.

Today in the Garden: GOOSEBERRIES! (and more)

Posted by on 23 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

I harvested the gooseberries today. A full quart!


This is a pic of the little bush, it’s about two feet tall, after ten years or so. The little white bar is at the base of the plant.

gooseberry bush

What else is happening in the garden? There is a little lily plant that has managed to bloom again this year. It’s genus calochortus, one variety is called Mariposa Lily, but I think these are a different variety. These plants are not doing well, but they are pretty when they bloom. Each bloom lasts less than a day! Here is a series of a red one through the day. From fully open just before noon to starting to fade by five.

In other Lily news, the white “Easter” lily that a friend gave me last year is beginning to bloom under the medlar.

white lily

A pic of Lucky near the gooseberry:

The flower mix I put in the strawberry bed is starting to bloom — orange nasturtium, yellow calendula, bright blue borage.

edible flowers in the veggie garden


cosmos and chickweed

The cosmos are finally blooming!

Grant cleared logs and branches from next to the gooseberry, near the plum, and all over the yard. We have some large but discrete piles now down near the garden and will be sorting into compostable material, campfire material and construction-ready material. With his help, this yard is looking better and better!

More “Lazy Days” (repost from deviantart)

Posted by on 22 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

I wrote this at deviantart on Saturday evening, thought I would post it here as well. Strange how consistent I can be!

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Lazy Days…

Posted by on 21 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: food, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, parenting, Uncategorized

I have been doing things in fits and spurts the last few days. The unsettled, rainy weather doesn’t help my energy levels, but has meant that I am forced to be a little more restrained in the garden. So, the hip that has hurt for over a week has had some time to rest and heal.

There is still a lot to do! But in between extended sessions of Babble and reading lots of news articles, Grant and I managed to do a lot.

Pitting and freezing pie cherries (ten pounds!) on Tuesday and hanging out with teens, quick trip to Mt. St. Helens on Wednesday (more teens), recovering on Thursday, canning on Friday and today spray painting three more chairs. We did a quick — and somewhat sloppy job on the chairs, but it’s good enough for this year and will extend the life of the chairs considerably. You can see the missing slats on two of the chairs, which will be covered with cushions anyway.

Here are a few pictures.

Mt. St. Helens: the mountain showed only briefly that day, while I was driving so I got no pictures of it, but I did get one of the kids and Grant took one of me.

me, sitting overlooking the parking lot

In the picture above, you can see how low the clouds were at the Johnston Ridge parking lot! Occasionally they would lift enough to see the tree line looking the other way (at the mountain), but never enough to see the crater.

CHAIRS! Same colors as the wicker chair, but we decided to give each one its own flavor.

For reference, the wicker chair:

The two plain chairs:

yellow and blue … there is a theme going on here!

And finally, the one painted when we knew we were running out of paint…


Or, sort of — the four chairs are all different in personality, and will all look good together in the yard, whether in the veggie garden or up near the house.

And then, to make things nice, Tom baked a peach and marionberry pie last night which I am enjoying as the pictures upload. The peaches were last-minute purchases at our favorite farm/fruit stand, Madrona Grove which is at Building Earth Farm and the marionberries (as well as the raspberries yesterday) are from our local Spooner’s stand. There are also Spooner’s farms in places like Puyallup — kin to the local family!

I think I am teaching Grant a lot about just getting things done. He is a great worker and does things to the best of his ability. He naturally has a strong work ethic and follows directions well. He is learning to make jams, to clean, to work in the yard and garden and to find a balance between work and play (he is still very much about play, of course!). Part of parenting is helping your children learn how to do things. I have discovered that not all children are coachable — our other son does not take direction from me at all — but all children seem to learn by example. So… when I can, I am up and “doing” and when I can’t I try to model patience and how to make the most of whatever the day offers.

Wednesday I was not able to walk very far at all, and you can just see the top of one my crutches in the picture of me. But I was able to drive, to walk a little ways on paved paths, and to visit with our friends. What do I hope Grant learns from that? That one should be honest about limitations and still do as much as possible!

By the way, one last plug for someone else: On the way home, we stopped at the 19-mile House on Highway 504. It is a wonderful, home-style restaurant with good food. We stopped just for the cobbler, which I was told was very good, and to take a break from the car. The service was friendly, refills on coffee and cocoa were free, and the view was beautiful. If you are headed to or from the mountain, it’s a good place!

Monday Musings: Cluttered Lives

Posted by on 16 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, housework, Uncategorized

I have been trying for months (years, actually) to get rid of some of the extra things that have accumulated over the years. Today TEN boxes left the house. Most were “book size” boxes, the fairly small ones from U-Haul. One box held the old blender, another had a wok, there were clothes, a few books, some toys…

Boxes waiting for pickup

The office still has too much in it, but as you can see from the two pictures below, some of it is empty boxes (some is packing material). Before the boxes in the above picture went out… there was NO clear path to the tall bookshelf! Now I can get all the way there again.

With ten boxes already removed...

Many empty boxes removed, still 2/3 to sort through!

It’s a start. But… where did it all come from?

Some of the boxes hold old computer parts (Tom), some of them hold old kid memories (boys, and me), some of them hold materials from grad school, student teaching and left-overs from sewing/knitting/crochet projects (definitely me). It has taken four years to fill the office… AND a storage locker that is twice as big as the office (which is, admittedly, a small room). The tendency I have to hold on to “things” I believe comes from a history of moving. Never knowing what will be there at the next place, you hang on to things. Having had to leave things behind many times it’s hard to leave them now. Who knows when you might need this? Or that?

And yet, when I have too much stuff, I can’t remember what I already have, where I might have put it (if I still have it), or how much is left. When I have too many projects (unfinished) it’s difficult to focus or concentrate.

Getting rid of some things frees me up to focus on what’s left.

At the same time, I come from a family that has roots — just not around here. The only connection I have to my heritage (especially now that my grandparents’ generation is passing on) is through the artifacts I retain. A copy of my mother’s Master’s thesis. A doll given to my grandmother by her uncle, dolls given to my aunt by her grandparents. A piano. An encyclopedia from a dear, departed family friend. A set of Heinlein books given to me during high school. My children’s first baby blanket, dolls, favorite childhood books from several generations.

“Clutter” to someone else is not always clutter. But, as I let go of the things that really don’t matter, the things that do can shine.

Today, once I had a clear path to the bookcase, I put several binders of teaching materials on the top shelf. This is progress!

Sunday: Garden furniture

Posted by on 15 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: fun, garden, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

These are pics of the wicker rocking chair that I painted this weekend. I ended up using Rustoleum “Ultra Cover 2X” spray paint, because that is what the store I went to carried. Colors: Satin Strawflower and Satin Lagoon.

After the yellow was on, I masked off those areas.

Grant starts to apply the blue paint

Then applied the blue:

Finished chair

Not bad, eh?

There are a couple things that I could have done better, but to be honest this is “good enough” for now. I want to put at least one coat of weather-proofing sealer on it and make a comfy outdoor cushion for the seat, too. Meantime, trying to decide where it should go. I think it would be really comfy in the little (former) sitting area in the orchard…

Now that this chair looks so good, I think I will re-surface some of the other chairs. There are several that are barely useable that can have their lives extended with some careful thought. There are two that have “slats” missing (they are resin chairs, so can’t just replace them) that with a coat of paint, some superglue and seat cushions would be quite cute. And a couple others that might see a few extra years if I can protect them from the sun.

Garden: A week of progress

Posted by on 14 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, good things, health, hope, Uncategorized

Almost every day this week we made significant progress somewhere in the garden.

Yesterday, it was finishing the flowerbed that defines the parking space in front of the house. It holds a variegated St. John’s Wort, a Japanese Maple (which appears to be dwarf), and a Witchhazel, along with a few flowers (glads and a geranium) in the ground and more in pots.

Now, the pots need some attention. And the driveway needs a lot of hot water poured over weeds.

I have brought the wicker rocking chair home from the storage locker, with the intent of spray-painting it with some pretty color, along the lines of this project at the Krylon webpage.

It rained last night — rather a lot, between the lightning and thunder — so I don’t have to water anything today (yay). But I will spend some time in the garden, trying to pick some of the dainty native blackberries that we uncovered the other day. And maybe the currants that I didn’t get to pick earlier in the week.

Yesterday, I actually spent most of my time indoors, canning. I bought two flats of strawberries and one of raspberries from our local growers, Spooner’s. I canned four batches of strawberry jam and one of raspberry jelly. I froze half a flat of whole raspberries and half a flat of whole strawberries. I made strawberry puree and froze that… and Tom came home and made a strawberry pie out of the quart I had set aside for him. Between measuring, stirring, and washing up, it was a lot of standing! Glad I bought a couple lovely gel mats for the kitchen.

And Grant helped me get the living room in better order. Not quite as nice as the dining room, but good enough that we can have people come visit and not have to spend ten minutes making space for sitting!

All week long, it has been a series of small steps, little progresses at a time. I am not a patient person, as those who know me in real life can attest! But I am becoming more patient with myself and with others. I am learning to look, not at how far I have yet to go, but at how far I have come.

So today, small things. A little bit here, and a little bit there. And tomorrow, more of the same.

I know that, when I need to, I can push to do a lot in a short time; and I know that I can do more over a longer period of time if I pace myself.

The garden, like the rest of life, needs constant upkeep and occasional large surges of energy. And Life, like the garden, blooms in its own time, and sometimes has moments of excruciating beauty in the middle of what seems to be an impossible tangle.

Next week… who knows?

Happy Gardening!

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