Greetings from Seattle

Thursday, March 22, 2018

What We Learned From Good Old Betsy

I never really named our mini van, but when I did refer to it, it was in the feminine, as Betsy, and in later years, as Good Old Betsy. 
We bought Betsy as a used car in March 1999, nineteen years ago, from Thrifty Car Rentals. It was the district manager's wife's personal car and had just been delivered to the used car sales lot that day.  We were looking to replace our worn out mini van with a newer model, and this one had all of the bells and whistles. We bought it and then waited until it was detailed to drive it home. 

As I described in my last post, Betsy has served us in a variety of ways, including as a cargo truck. It has been a good car, but starting last fall we began having battery issues. Tom had the battery replaced, but it didn't seen to hold a charge. We don't drive Betsy that much anymore, not since I retired. I used to drive her to work every day. Lately, every time we would try to start it, the battery was dead. 

Tom bought a trickle charger to keep the battery going, but then noticed that charger was working most of the time. I went on line to do a bit of research and decided it must be the alternator. That would be a pricey fix, and there was a caution to have a thorough diagnostic work up before buying a new alternator. It could be something simpler. 

We found a well established auto electrical shop and took it in Monday. Turns out there was a phone charger left plugged into the charging port way back by the back seat, most likely left there when we transported the family to the cider bee in October. The thorough diagnostic tests gave the battery and the alternator and the electrical system a clean bill of health. But that charger was drawing a constant electrical current, which didn't allow the battery to "sleep" and drained it over and over. 

So what we learned from Betsy is to not leave phone chargers plugged into charging ports, at least not in older cars. 

And by the way, as soon as we got Betsy back from the repair shop, we began loading her up with yard debris. After three trips to the yard waste transfer station over two days, all of those piles are gone.

Good Old Betsy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Pruning and Planting

We are proud of ourselves. All of those plants we purchased last Monday were in the ground by last Saturday!

We have lived in this house for almost 40 years. We did all of the lot clearing and earth moving and wall building and landscaping ourselves in the first few years after we moved in. Many things have changed over the years, in the house and in the garden. One area that had not changed was the shrubbery along the front walk. 

This photo, taken last October, shows a large mugo pine that is trying to take over the sidewalk. Behind that is a Viburnum davidii that has been hacked back various times and again wants to engulf the new hand rail. Along the front, under the Viburnum burkwoodii that has turned golden,  is a sick azalea and another viburnum that was very scraggly after the winter. 
We took most of it out and cut back the big Viburnum davidii, which regrows back for the base quite well. 

 We'll trim back the scraggly branches on the viburnum when grows new shoots from the base. There are some other viburnums that are also cut back. 
We saved a few layered starts from the old azalea and planted them back farther to see if they will survive. The new plants are in. After the Viburnum burkwoodii finishes blooming, we'll prune off a few of the branches that are reaching forward to give the new plants more light. 
It's looking a bit bare now, but tidy, and we have our sidewalk back. 
 And the pile of prunings and removed shrubs and clipped fern fronds is growing. There's another pile out under a cedar tree. The yard waste bins go out full every two weeks. 
We're thinking it's time to load up the van and make several trips to the yard waste site at the local dump. Cedar Grove Compost Co. will make good use of it. 
Since writing this post on Sunday we have begun the hauling away process. Our 1998 Plymouth mini van  serves as family and field trip transport, furniture and lumber mover, and with the seats removed and the back lined with a  tarp, a landscaper's truck. 

More loads will go out today. Gotta' make hay while the sun shines. :-)

Monday, March 19, 2018

In a Vase on Monday

In a Vase on Monday is a garden blogger's meme that I seldom participate in. I am not officially a "garden blogger", just a gardener who blogs, about all kinds of stuff, and, while I always have something fresh on my kitchen table, Monday is not always the day for a new design. The floral material I use is most often from my garden though, and that's one of the rules for IAVOM.

However, as I sat at the kitchen table after dinner Sunday evening, I got to thinking about the significance of the items in the new arrangement I made this afternoon as I was decorating for Spring and Easter. 

The ceramic bunny belonged to my grandmother. The aqua vase was given to me by my sister, years ago, and is one of my first McCoy pieces. The hellebore is an old one, what my mother referred to as a Lenton Rose. Forsythia and acuba leaves add a framework. 
The McCoy water lily vase is one I collected and it holds a camelia that came from a cutting Tom took from a bush my mother planted on our little farm in Oregon. 

The table mat is one I made a few years back, using scraps from a dress I made for Irene and a mat I made for Jill. It has machine embroidery in the center and applique in the corners. I had fun playing with that little project. 

Spring officially begins on Tuesday. I'm ready!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Tee Shirt Pillows

You may recall the tee shirt quilt I made for Jake for Christmas. I used his old concert shirts that I had stored in the attic for many years. 

I had one shirt front that I used as a sample in the quilt making process, and after I was finished with the quilt, I decided to make a pillow out of it. When I gave it to Jake he said ,"I have more shirts".

He picked out four more that we decided I could make into pillows. It was a good project for the winter months, one that I could work on now and then for an hour or so.
I decided to use the front and the back of the Seahawks Superbowl shirt. I have to sort of hide the NBA pillow because it has to be censored. The NBA is not popular here in Seattle since we lost the SuperSonics. 

I treated each pillow front like a quilt square, with iron on stabilizer, quilt batting and a cotton backing. I used outlining stitching to quilt the layers together. 

Then I used heavy cotton duck fabric for the backs, with an overlapping envelope closure. 
I used the serger to sew all the layers together, inside out, so the finished edge inside won't fray. Then I inserted 16x16 in. pillow forms. 
It's a fun way to use some of a tee shirt collection. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Nursery Touring, Part 2

After leaving Branches, we drove south to a place very familiar to us, Windmill Gardens, in Sumner.

The sun had all of the pretty little flowers opening their faces.

We were disappointed here, because the nursery was still pretty much in winter mode, not yet restocked for spring, with very little shrub selection and a lot of empty plant tables. 

Here's an idea of what to do with an old tool or fishing tackle box. 

Windmill has a pretty good gift shop, with a few good displays. 

We didn't buy any plants at windmill, but we did find some sweet little pots that we thought might be perfect for a project we have in mind.

We went on from there to a stop at a Starbucks for lunch, sitting outside, and then drove on further south to Todd's Nursery and Landscaping.
It was here that my camera battery gave out and, sadly,  I discovered that my back up battery was probably still in the fleece jacket pocket from last Saturday, now hanging in the closet at home. I got out my old iPhone 5c, to take a few more photos. It works OK in good light. 

We had driven past Todd's before, but had never stopped. Today it was on our itinerary. 

We found a rhododendron to replace one we just took out, and while Tom took it to the holding area, I sat on a bench in the shade because we were now in tee shirts and getting very warm. 

There is a small gift shop, but mostly plant related items. I think this is a great nursery for anyone who is just putting in new landscaping, as they have a large selection of shrubs. 
We bought a small Nandina 'Moon Bay", the "Unique" Rhody, and a half price azealia 'Satsuki Higasa'. 

I knew there would be a great shrub collection at our next stop, Alpine Nursery and Landscaping, and we might just find that special pine we were looking for. 
For one day we were plunged into a perfect summer afternoon. 

We looked at everything, and then, in the specialty conifer section, we found that pine!
It's a 'Blue Shag' Eastern White Pine, pricey, but just what we were looking for. 
Tom also bought a Stag-horn Fern, to replace one he used to have in his greenhouse, and a funny little coral pink Aloe. 
We made one more stop, to a place that showed up when I had Googled nurseries near Puyallup, in planning this tour. The Gartenmeister Plant Shop is a small local nursery where the plants are mostly locally grown and I'm sure you can find good value on most things. I did find a white hellebore and euphorbia, 'Ascot Rainbow', for about half the price of a big nursery. 
We came home with a nice little haul. Most of the shrubs will go into an area we are reworking in the front yard.
 And the little pots fit perfectly in the wire rack Tom picked out at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. 
Now we'll have to decide how and where to use it. 

Monday night we had a big windstorm, and Tuesday we had rain.  Today, Wednesday, we got in our walk and then joined a teacher group for lunch. Now we are back to cold sun, and another big mess to clean up out in the yard.

It's time for more picukup sticks. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Day of Nursery Touring, Part 1

We have been working hard in our yard lately, and because Monday was expected to reach 70 degrees, we decided it would be a day off, where we could play in the sunshine.

Playing means different things to different people. For us, it could likely mean visiting gardens or nurseries. Because we are redoing a small section of our garden, we are in the market for some new shrubs. That gave us a purpose. Finding old and new garden haunts gave us a direction. 

Our first stop was Branches Garden Center in Federal Way. 

We just discovered this garden center last year. The best thing about Branches is the wonderful gift shop. It was a delightful way to start the day. 

 They do have plants too, with more fun things mixed in. 

Here we found a dwarf sarcococca 'Fragrant Mountain'.
 And an Easter bunny. I had to have SOMETHING from that great gift shop. 
I'll show you where else we went and what else we came home with in my next post.