Greetings from Seattle



Friday, May 29, 2009

The Kids Are Coming!

Irene just called Grandpa to tell him she is coming to his house "right now!" They are in the van, headed for the Denver airport. They are scheduled to arrive at SeaTac at 7:51 this evening. We'll be there. Jake texted me a couple of hours ago to say he was waiting for the ferry at Nanimo, Vancouver Island. He is completing a week long adventure with his 1977 VW Camper van, Gus-the-bus. He will be back in Seattle tonight. We have a teacher BBQ function to go to at 5:00 today, and then we'll head for the airport. Tomorrow we'll have a family BBQ here before we all head off. Sunday Tom and I will go with Jill and the kids to Oregon, to see my mother, and then to the little red cabin on the Oregon Coast. We'll be back in Seattle next Thursday night. It's 80 degrees in Seattle today! Let the fun begin!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Time to Enjoy

I finally got through my list today and I got some time off, so I spent it here, out on the wisteria draped garden deck. I finally took the time to read my May English Gardening magazine. As I read about and studied the photos of the beautiful English gardens, a light breeze carried the fragrance of the flowers and the melodic tinkle of a wind chime. I decided my right here, right now could match anything the magazine had to offer.
It is often the plight of gardeners that they are so busy creating and maintaining a garden that they have little time to sit and enjoy it.
It was nice to soak in the beauty of this part of the garden, now at it's best, and enjoy what we have created.
Click on photos to enlarge for details.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chance and Happenstance

Why do people end up where they do? We found ourselves in Oakville Tuesday morning because we were ready for a day off from our list of chores and we wanted to get out of the city. We don't traditionally visit graves on Memorial Day, but we decided a good way to get out into the countryside would be to go look up some ancestors. We had been to these cemeteries before, but it had been a long time, and now we could take digital photos of the grave markers for Tom's files. Oakville is a little old town out on the prairie south of Olympia, about a 90 minute drive from Seattle. Not much is left there now, but they do have a post office and a grocery store. Tom's great grandfather, John Vandervort, came here about 1897. We're not really sure why. Maybe friends or family from Pennsylvania had come here first. He was a widower with children, and he had a harness and cobbler shop in town, while doing logging on the side to support his family. He and three of his four sons are buried in the Oakville Cemetery. Tom is descended from one of his three daughters. We found the graves and some of their other relatives as well. We were getting ready to leave when a car arrived and two men got out. They walked toward the same graves. I told Tom that we should wait and see where they were headed. There were no other people in the cemetery. Sure enough they stopped at the grave of one of the sons of John Vandervort. So of course we went over to talk to them. Well, chance and happenstance placed us there together. The older man was the grandson of John Vandervoort and the son of James Vandervoort. His name was Jim ( James) and so was his son's, the man who had brought him to the cemetery that day, because they couldn't make it on Memorial Day and the younger Jim had business in the area. We had never met them and didn't really know anything about them. The cousins stood and talked for quite a while. It was a special opportunity that could only have happened by chance.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering Why

-from the wisdom of Andy Rooney For too many Americans, Memorial Day has become just another day off. There's only so much time any of us can spend remembering those we loved who have died, but the men, boys really, who died in our wars deserve at least a few moments of reflection during which we consider what they did for us. They died. We use the phrase "gave their lives," but they didn’t give their lives. Their lives were taken from them. There is more bravery at war than in peace, and it seems wrong that we have so often saved this virtue to use for our least noble activity - war. The goal of war is to cause death to other people.

Remembering doesn’t do the remembered any good, of course. It's for ourselves, the living. I wish we could dedicate Memorial Day, not to the memory of those who have died at war, but to the idea of saving the lives of the young people who are going to die in the future if we don’t find some new way - some new religion maybe - that takes war out of our lives.

That would be a Memorial Day worth celebrating.

-excerpts from the editorial by Andy Rooney, CBS 60 Minutes, May 25, 2008

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I Guess I Should Post Something?

It's one of those times when I think,"I guess I should post something on my blog, but I have nothing to say. I should take the time to read all of your postings and make comments, but I'm busy, or my foot is telling me I need to sit in my recliner, or I'd rather be outside." But I need to keep up contact with my cyber friends.
Just now Tom has plopped down beside me in his work clothes. He's ready for my help. Be back soon....
OK, I'm back. I had to hold a board so Tom could screw it into place. The last little job on the front porch that got put off.
We have had a long list of jobs to get done this week, and while we're making good progress, we keep adding to the list as we think of them. Yesterday Tom got the boards from the old porch cut up and stacked on the wood pile. That led to some projects today that he could use some of the wood for. I cleaned out the storage shed and turned it into a play house. Today I thoroughly cleaned and refreshed the bedding in the guest bedrooms. Jill and the grandchildren arrive Friday for a three week stay.
We are very excited that they will soon be here, but we really want to get everything done so we can declare a lazy day of rest before they arrive. Once they're here, it will be very busy!
About five weeks ago I started physical therapy for my back condition, spondylolisthesis, which is a slipped vertebra, which causes nerve compression. I have been faithfully doing my core strengthening exercises, and I was doing very well until this week. I guess I bent over too much while tending garden at Whidbey, or something. I'm not sure, and that's the problem. When my foot starts burning, I know the nerve compression is back, but I don't know why, so I'm not sure what not to do, and since gardening is what I do, along with cleaning house and holding boards and moving things and setting up playhouses, I just do what I need to do, but all the time wondering if I'll pay for it later. (Don't you just love that last sentence?! I once wrote a paper for a college English class that had, as required, a good conclusion, but the Prof. had written in the margin "Wow! All one sentence!" Obviously by the time I got to that point in the writing, I was ready to wrap it up in a hurry!)
So I guess I'd better wrap this up, too, or you'll look at it and say "Too much to read!" and move on. I think I'll go see if I can cross something off of the list.
Oh, add to the list - buy new play dough to stock the shelves.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gardening On Whidbey Island

Four years ago this May our family cabin construction was complete. This new structure replaced an old cabin that the family had owned for forty years but that dated back to 1928.
That summer of 2005 Tom and I, being the family gardeners, began the landscaping process. We moved and hauled dirt, built retaining walls and a boardwalk, and began collecting plants from our home garden.
Since the soil is mostly sand, and the water is limited, we looked at Mediterranean style plants as well as what we could get free from our Seattle garden. In the late fall and early winter we planted. But because we used plants and compost from our own garden, things showed up that we didn't expect. Other things have seeded from first bloom. The result is that we are always pleasantly surprised by what we find each time we visit.
This pacific coast iris is doing much better here than at home.
We brought up old tulip bulbs that don't perform more than one year in our Seattle garden, but like the sand and low water here. We're not sure where the double orange poppy came from.
Foliage contrast is a feature here too, since flowers are short lived.
This is a garden for sitting and enjoying, and we get lots of compliments from the other beach folk as they stroll by.
Driftwood adds texture and form. This old stump was completely buried in ivy in the old cabin yard.
Columbine flowers are so exotic, and seem to thrive here. You never know what you'll get when they seed themselves.
A front corner is reserved for our sedum tapestry, an idea we saw in a book called "Shocking Beauty". It's coming along.
The back yard is just planted in grass and clover, with a fire circle. It's where the action is, on the shore of Deer Lagoon.
And of course Sunlight Beach on Useless Bay is just across the road.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sea Hawk

We often watch the Osprey hover over the bay, plunge in a full speed dive, splash, and regain the air with a catch in it's long, strong talons. Osprey are sometimes called Sea Hawks because they feed predominately on fish. In Seattle we especially like this common name. Tuesday we had the privilege of watching a sea hawk perch on that nearby piling in the lagoon where last time I showed you a heron preening. This amazing fisher took his time ripping into his fish dinner.
We're back home from our island retreat. We had more rain than sun, but some good walks, a trip to Langley, a bit of gardening and lots of reading.
More later.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thoughtless

That's me - no thoughts, empty headed, with nothing to say. We planted our vegetable garden today and finished up some other outside jobs, so we're tired. We're heading for Whidbey Island in the morning for a few days of rest and relaxation. I don't promise to have anything brilliant to say when I get back either, but I might have some cool pics. Thinking of you, Kay.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gardening - It's All About the Foliage

I do love flowers, but I find what draws my eye in gardens is most often the foliage.
I tend to fill my pots with perennials and annuals that have interesting leaf form and color.
In the ground I like to layer with different colors and textures of foliage.
While there will be a few blooms in these containers as the summer progresses, they are just an accessory to the plants themselves.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Green World

If anyone were to ask me my favorite color, I would automatically say "blue". But really, it's green. Green in all of its shades and forms and textures, from deep dark pine green to raving chartreuse. This time of the year we celebrate flowers, and rightly so. But April (and May) showers also bring the glowing greens of spring, which will mellow into summer, lasting as flowers fade. It rained most of the day, and it's still drippy and sodden, but I took a stroll around my garden just to appreciate the way a cloudy sky and rain drops make the greens pop.
Not all foliage is green, and it is that contrast with reds and golds and creams that sets off the green.
Rain drops on Lady's Mantle - nature's jewels.