Greetings from Seattle



Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ten Thousand Steps

So many of you out there in blogger land have been posting about healthy life styles. I agree it's important, but I like to take a more casual attitude. That's probably why I'm overweight! Anyway, walking has long been my choice of exercise, and now that I'm in a battle with arthritis, I know the importance of keeping moving. 10,000 steps seems to be a target that is commonly written about. Also, this week I'm getting back to a normal routine, including exercise walking, so I decided to see how I measure up. I found my pedometer, dusted it off, and bought and loaded a new battery. Yes, it has been that long since I used it. I hooked it to my waistband about noon on Monday. By bedtime I had over 6,000 steps. That included a 4,000 + step walk. Good, I thought, I can do this. Yesterday I wore it all day. Here are the results. Total steps by 8:22 - 11,327! This is the equivalent of approximately 5.18 miles. This is based on a measure of my stride and has a error factor. 5,150 of those steps were aerobic, which account for my exercise walk. That means if I get up and move regularly around the house and then go for a 40 minute walk, I can easily hit my target! But today will be more of a challenge. So far today, by 9:15, I only have 779 steps. I had a haircut appointment at 8:00 but parked right in front of the shop. I have a retired teacher lunch at noon today, so I'll be sitting for several hours. This evening I have a Sounders match on TV. So excuse me, but I need to start moving!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wedding Gifts

We will be attending a wedding July 10th, when the granddaughter of a good teacher friend is married. Of course, that means buying a wedding gift. Today's couples register at their choice of stores by going around with a scan gun and zapping anything they would like to have. Some lists are just amazing. This young couple has quite a practical list. They are registered at JC Penny and Target. She has just graduated from college and he is in the Navy. He is being reassigned to Hawaii, where he will go after the wedding and arrange housing before she goes to join him. The Navy will pack and ship household goods. So of course I went on line to check out the gift registry lists. While the choices were all commonsensical and practical, they left me uninspired. So when I purchased the gift this morning, I did not buy it from their registry. I don't know if there was or will be a bridal shower, but many of the items seemed appropriate for a shower gift. And I know most people will shop off the registry. But when I give a gift I like it to be something special and I just have this old fashioned idea that a wedding gift should be something you have a long time and treasure. So, I shopped at Macy's. I went on line to find what I wanted, and then went to the store this morning and bought the Marquis by Waterford crystal candle sticks; classic, elegant and timeless, to me a true wedding gift. So I'm wondering, do you give only from a registry? Do you give a gift because someone wants it, even if you don't really enjoy giving it? What do you do?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Partly Productive

I can cross one more seasonal chore off my list today. We have an old freezer in the garage that is not frost free, so once a year it has to be defrosted. It's really quite easy. I just take everything out, drape the stuff with towels, turn off the freezer, put pans of boiling water on the shelves, leave the door ajar, and go off and leave it. In about two hours I come back, wipe it out and dry it with old towels, and load it back up again. Because it's in the garage I don't have to worry too much about making a mess on the floor. Once again old towels do the mopping up. I know it's time to clean the freezer when I see the raspberries getting ripe. They are slow this year, and maybe not as heavily fruited, but they're coming. I had a handful for lunch with my yogurt yesterday. I also picked some more lettuce from the garden. Here's where I should comment that I truly love my salad spinner! We have a second crop of radishes, but even though it has been cool, the darn things must know it's summer and not spring because they are bolting and getting woody right away. I salvaged a few to add to our salad.
Then I went grocery shopping. After a quick lunch in front of the TV, keeping track of the World Cup, I was off to a sewing group called SewFun, where we get demonstrations of new products and techniques. When it wasn't over by three o'clock, I left so I could get home to have my time on the patio with coffee, chocolate and my book.
Now, dinner done, Tom and I will go for a short walk before settling in for the evening.
Not a totally lazy day yet, but quite enjoyable as it was. It's the luxury of having time and choices.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Finding My Lazy Bone

The work of spring is done. The USA is out of the world cup, so the agony and ecstasy of winning and losing is done. It's time to even out and enjoy some leisure. Our Open Garden had a disappointing turn out, but that isn't new. Most of our members live on the east side of Lake Washington, where the average income is decidedly higher, and where coming out to the south end is a trip to the wilderness. The twelve who did come enjoyed it very much. The good thing is that the garden is in great shape and now we just have to do the maintenance, which means some mowing and edging now and then, and going around with a bucket and snippers once in a while. As we settle into summer mode, we usually spend an hour or so in the morning doing something yard related and then have the rest of the day off. Tom does have the hedge pruning to do, but we'll hire son Jake to help with that after July 4th. Some of you asked for pics of the garden. By the time I got to taking any, the sun was out, which I can't complain about, but it makes for more difficult photography. I thought my snacks were pretty cool - nuts and jelly bellies and dark chocolate M&Ms and dried cranberries, served up in collectible flower pots enclosed in an old berry picking carrier. Just fill up you little cup with your choice of mix. I'm ready to spend some time here. My favorite rose, Gertrude Jekyll, was at her best. This area is full of early spring color, mostly from bulbs, so the summer show comes on gradually and a bit at a time.
The peony was late, so still pretty.
Poppies are just about pooped.
The vegetable garden is finally beginning to grow.
The deck was inviting.
My new concrete flower, purchased last weekend at an open garden, with Sum and Substance hosta.
A clematis opened just in time.
So after the open garden closed, we picked up and put away, and then opened a bottle of wine and toasted summer, and the beginning of our days of complete freedom ahead. We had a fresh salad dinner with lettuce from the garden, went for a neighborhood walk, had a conversation with a neighbor we found working in her yard, and then settled in front of the TV to watch a movie, "It's Complicated". It was the perfect light entertainment.
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Today I arose from a good night's sleep, finally! I've watched a bit of the England-Germany World cup match (England's loss made ours look not so bad at all), sort of watched This Week on ABC, read the light stuff in the Sunday paper, and now posted this blog. I will probably go for a short walk before watching the Sounders match at 2:00 this afternoon.
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Who knows? I can do whatever I want. I have books to read, walks to take, puttering to do, or I can just sit in the garden and listen to the birds.
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I'm finding my lazy bone.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Beautiful Game

As they say around the world, it is the Beautiful Game, and it can break your heart. Oh, the agony, and the ecstasy, .....and the agony. The USA is out of the World cup on a 2-1 extra time loss to Ghana. The only African team left lives on. And here the sun is shining. And tomorrow our beloved Seattle Sounders return to action.

Saturday Morning

It's Saturday morning. Today is the day. Our garden will be open from 10:00 to 4:00 for Northwest Perennial Alliance members and friends that might stop by. After three days of primping, we're ready. I have no idea if anyone will come. It's cloudy this morning, but it's not raining, and we are promised sun this afternoon. Actually I would be happy if no one came between the hours of 11:30 and 1:30, because today is also the day of the next USA World Cup match. Yes, we'll be decked out in red, white and blue again as we cheer on our lads. This time there can be no tie. This time it's do or die. ABC, 11:30 PDT, on your TV machine. USA!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Afghanistan

For those of you who don't care to read about political issues, you might just want to skip this posting. I have had the whole Afghanistan/Pakistan dilemma on my mind as a result of the latest news cycles, and because of reading Greg Mortenson's books. I know enough to know I don't know enough. But what I do know is that as long as we keep killing people, us and them, we will not "win". The Taliban is determined and will not give up. And it's their turf. The innocents that die or are horribly injured cause their families to turn against us. Our soldier death tolls are mounting again as predicted. And yet we here in the US are paying less attention to the war, a point that is leading to the frustration of the troops and their leaders. That was a major part of the cause of the fall of General McChrystal. I just read No good answers in Afghanistan by Thomas Friedman in our morning paper. You can find it at: Opinion The generals and the president have no good answers in Afghanistan Seattle Times Newspaper What it tells me is that we don't really know what we're doing over there. We don't have good answers to some key questions. Most important are these two: Do our interests merit such an escalation, and do we have the allies to achieve victory? Other questions that lead to those answers include: Why do we have to recruit and train Afghans to fight? They are very good at it when they want to be and have been fighting for 30 years. We don't train the Taliban, and they are holding us off. It's not about the way, it's the will. Any lasting action must start with them. The Afghans must have ownership in any lasting solution. We cannot impose order. The Afghan president stole the election and is corrupt. He will take care of himself and his cohorts before giving any thought to his people. If we "win", what do we get? Afghanistan has never been a principal player in the region. And what is "winning"? I have come to the conclusion, at least today, that we need to hold to our time line of beginning withdrawal a year from now, and we need to get the hell out of there! There are many humanitarian concerns that arise if we leave. But let humanitarians deal with those, not soldiers. Soldiers are trained to shoot people.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

USA! USA! USA!

We were up early this morning to get a front row table at the Azteca bar to join other soccer fans in watching the USA World Cup match, and to keep track of the England game on the other TVs. When England scored, we knew the USA team could only advance if we won our match. But it took an agonizing 90 minutes to achieve our GOAL! The US scored in stoppage time, in the 91st minute, to win over Algeria 1-0, and put us in first place in our group! We have been back home about an hour now, still full of nervous energy. We'll be heading outside to work in the yard. We have an open garden here on Saturday and we have to spiff up the place. Turns out the USA also plays their next match on Saturday, so our guests might not get much attention. We'll be recording the match in case we get interrupted. USA! USA!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

To Whidbey Island and Back

By the time we finished the last day of garden touring Monday we were in Edmonds and not far from the Mukilteo ferry. We had to wait for a second boat, but by 5:00 we were settled in and having wine and cheese on the deck.
We could see the neighbor's little patch of beauty across the street.
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It was solstice, the longest day of the year, and after a salad dinner, we used the light to weed and edit our cabin garden, which has gotten a bit exuberant.
Then we had today to play and relax.
We came back so soon because we are really into the World Cup, and we have no cable TV or Internet at the cabin. Tomorrow morning the USA plays their third and decisive match, and their group will be decided to see which two teams advance.
Gotta see it!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More Garden Touring

As part of the continuing Hardy Plant Study Weekend, we had another morning of seminars and an amazing afternoon of garden touring.
Today's gardens were in West Seattle, after which we met Jake and Tad for a Father's Day dinner together in west Seattle. It was a great chance to both catch up, and slow down.
Tomorrow we finish up the garden tours with six gardens in North Seattle, after which we will head to Whidbey Island for an overnight, returning home Tuesday evening.
Here are just a few of the pics I took over the last two days. Enjoy.
This chicken coop, home to three hens, sits in the middle of an elegant Bellevue garden.
And this is the vegetable garden in the same yard.
Moving on.
This special "training pot" has an actual, working train!
We saw so many amazing pots and containers.
There were many wonderful water features.
Including, today, a water feature leaking from the sky. Dodging umbrellas was a bit dodgy, but photos are so much better in the diffused light of a cloudy day.
The view out over the sound from a garden deck. Water and sky were a study in gray.
So many amazing color combinations.
And interesting plant choices.