Thursday, May 29, 2008


'Columbine' is a word that recalls anguish to some folks in Colorado, and yet that school of infamy is named after the beautiful state flower. That same flower, in many shades and hues, is blooming all over my garden and is to me a thing of beauty.
All of this is just a filler for the real purpose for my second posting today. I discovered that Lin, one of my few readers, has "tagged" me in a blog network, which means I am supposed to write a title for my memoirs in six words, and then ask five others to do the same. I don't have five readers that leave comments, and my friend and family network would not really be interested in playing the game. But for Lin, my faithful reader out there in Utah, I will attempt such an exercise.
I just had a fun conversation with my daughter Jill, who is in the process of packing up herself and her two preschool age kids to fly to Seattle tomorrow for a three week visit. We are all very excited. Issac, five years old, is now very experienced at this process and remembers everything. So of course, each year the same people must be seen, the same places must be visited, and everything done the "right" way. Jill and I laughed because this is just how she and her brother were, and we sometimes wished we were those kinds of parents who didn't establish traditions. History repeats itself with my daughter and her children. This is just another of life's lessons. And that brings me to my title: Learning Life's Lessons All Life Long.

Hot Air

My title today is borrowed for the blog of Michelle Malkin. I have spent the last 45 minutes getting up to speed on who the hell this Michelle is, in light of the flap over Rachael Ray's scarf in her Dunkin' Donuts ad. After some study, I discovered why I didn't know who she was. I don't usually read or watch her kind of stuff. What "kind of stuff" is that? Well, the scarf incident should give you some clue. Google the Michelle Malkin Wikipedia site for more. There, among other gems, you will find that she wrote a book titled In Defense of Interment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror. You will also see that she is the daughter of Filipino immigrants. Branded by liberal opposition as the Asian Ann Coulter, she responded that she is "not Asian, I'm an American, and as to the comparison with Ann, I consider that as a sort of compliment. I admire Ann Coulter". Some role model. I also checked out a bit of her blog, where I found again her focus on "jihadists", and the whole campaign of fear mongering. She is also in a running battle with Keith Olbermann of MSNBC's Countdown. Now I watch Keith often, and while I agree that he can get carried away, I find it interesting and amusing that as one of the few openly liberal voices in mainstream ( albeit cable) media, he has become the devil incarnate to the many rabid voices of right wing conservatism, of which Michelle Malkin is a member. Before going on line, I read an editorial in the Seattle PI about the "ambition gap", the reason that there are so few women in elected office. It seems there is a gap in the drive of ambition between men and women. In light of the Scott McClellan book and it's quotes about Bush seeking "greatness" by being a "war president", spare me male ambition. Michelle Malkin seems to have been blessed with a full dose. It would be easy for me to get caught up in all of this political "hot air". I do enjoy a good exchange of ideas. But there is something evil in the hate mongering so prevalent in much of it. I think I need to go out into my garden and let the fresh air clean out my mind.

Monday, May 26, 2008

On Memorial Day

Whether you believe in the rightness of wrongness of war, you must understand it's toll in human terms.
War means killing, war means death, to soldiers, sailors, airmen and civilians. Each death has a ripple effect because that someone was a son or daughter, brother or sister, husband or wife, father or mother, and that death left a hole in a family that impacts the lives of those family members for generations.
Recently I visited battlefields in Holland and France where men fought and died, believing in their cause or following orders, acting with courage or out of fear. Civilian families were destroyed in their farms and villages. As I said then, war creates heroes, but war is hell. Soldiers will do what they are sent to do and make the ultimate sacrifice to do it. We must be very careful of what we ask them to do.
With each war we hope it will be the last. Yet we have potential leaders who tell us that there will be other wars. Why must there be? Europe fought on their homeland. They are not so anxious for more war. Are they wiser for their suffering? Must whole generations be lost to guns and bombs because of a tyrant? Isn't it time to find a new way?
We can remember our war dead best by putting an end to those rows of white crosses. We can find a new way. We must.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rainy Day

Ahh. I didn't think I would be happy when the rain returned, but I am. Everything looks so fresh, so lush and dripping. And I can take the day off. I can enjoy the results of my gardening from the window and not have to get down in the dirt. I am loving being lazy today!
(Photo taken yesterday before the rain)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Spring Beauty

As we say here in western Washington, on a clear day you can see "the mountain". And such a day it was as we traveled to Enumclaw, WA to visit the Anderson Rhodendron Garden. This is a private garden, open only on Sundays in May. We heard about it from a friend who recently went there with her Red Hat group. She said,"You just have to see it." So we did, and she was right!
The garden was started about 30 years ago by the current owner's father. He planted it as a private garden, but had a small nursery business on the side. Now it is maintained as a suburban yard, but it is shared with the public when it is in it's glorious spring bloom.
To know more about it or to see more photos, Google Anderson Garden, Enumclaw, WA.

Friday, May 16, 2008

At Home

As if spending 25 days in Europe wasn't enough gallivantin', we spent Monday through Wednesday of this week at our family owned beach house on Whidbey Island. As the official gardeners there, we had to check in to weed and edit the garden. We managed one afternoon of sun and got the work done before the rains returned. Then Thursday we drove 200 miles each way to go see my mother in Molalla, Oregon. We had a good visit, told her about our trip, shared our photos, and bought and planted petunias and tomatoes for her. Now we are back home to stay for a while. We were expecting weather in the high 80's, but at 3:00 it is a pleasant 76. We're getting the greenhouse emptied out, distributing pots to the neighbor and around the garden. The planting phase is almost done for this year. We hope to do some sitting and enjoying. Thought for the day: When you do all the work to create a beautiful setting, don't forget to find time to sit back and enjoy it, and to share it with others. I've got to get that rhubarb pie party planned!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

On Mother's Day

I've discovered that it takes most of your life to learn how to be a mother and a daughter. Perhaps it's being a grandmother that brings clarity.
I do know that there has been no role in my life more important that being a mother to my children. And it is probably that intensity of feeling that makes the job more difficult. My adult "kids" have told me that I was too controlling. I think that's probably true. You have so much invested in your own children in terms of love, emotion, caring, worry, not to mention food, clothing, shelter and education! They are your major project and you want them to turn out well, for their own happiness but also for your own sense of accomplishment.
As a daughter of an aging mother, I still struggle to relate to her, because our lives, while connected, are so different. This gives me insight into my relationship with my daughter. Her strongest bond moves down the generational chain, to her children, my grandchildren. It is as it should be.
Ah, grandchildren. Here I can experience unconditional love without the burden of "investment". We can just enjoy each other. It's one of the greatest gifts of motherhood.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Giverny - The House Garden

As much as we liked the pond garden, and most people do prefer it, we were blown away by the perennial garden. Now I don't know if old Claude managed to achieve this display, but I know he designed the layout. It's amazing! And from many rooms in the house this is what you look out on. I would love to be able to see it in every month of the year. My camera ate it up, much as painters must have loved it, and still do.

Water Lily Pond at Giverny

Monet spent much of his later life painting in this part of his garden. Even without the water lily blooms, the plants add to the color and texture of the serene setting. Although there were swarms of people, I managed a few photos that denied their existence, but that famous Japanese bridge was never empty!
We were here on May Day, a fitting way to celebrate the bringing of flowers. On May 3rd, our last afternoon in Paris, we decided to leave the holiday throngs flocking to the common sights and explore the little known Musee Marmottan Monet. This is an art museum located in a mansion adjacent to the western park blocks of the city which belonged to a wealthy collector. When Michel Monet sold off his family collection, the museum acquired it. It contains more than 65 works by Claude Monet, including some of his most famous, and many painted in this pond setting. It was a great way to end our European tour in a place of beauty and serenity, much like this garden must have been for Monet.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Holland Has Tulips Too

On April 19th we joined people from all over the world who swarmed to Keukenhof Gardens, west of Amsterdam, to view the bulb displays. This is big business for the Dutch, but for us it was pure pleasure. I even managed to get some photos without the crowds. And as was our luck with most of this trip, no rain.

Monday, May 5, 2008

May in Seattle

For those of you looking for pics of Giverny, do not fret. They will appear when I have had time to process all of my 1500 photos! But it is good to be home! And it seems that while we were gone, we missed the cold and rain and snow and hail of "April showers"and we now get to enjoy the "May flowers". May is glorious in the northwest, with the new greens and flowering trees and shrubs. We are thrilled to find that while enjoying Holland tulips, we did not miss our own.
We arrived home Sunday evening (yesterday) after about 24 hours of getting to airports, waiting at airports, and flying 10 hours with a layover in Minneapolis. We are tired, jet lagged, and I am sort of sick from either a cold or some sort of sinusitus. But it doesn't matter because we are home, and we had a great trip. We have groceries, the bills are paid, everything is unpacked and the laundry is done, so now I'll get back to those photos.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Name Dropping in Normandy

Claude Monet knew how to garden. I’m glad. We spent the afternoon in what used to be his garden, and it may never have looked better. Tom and I had really built Giverny up in our minds. It may have been the most important stop in this 25 day trip. It did not disappoint. Sun came in and out from behind puffy clouds, changing the light. And isn’t it all about the light? Well, maybe it’s equally about the flowers and foliage too. We have many photos to share from our beautiful experience. This morning belonged to Richard The Loin Hearted, the Norman King of England who built a fortress castle, Chateau Gaillard, on the banks of the Seine at Les Andelys. The bus took us up the hillside so we could explore the ruins and enjoy the scene of the village, river and green fields below. Then we walked down into the village, some of which is very old, one building marked with 1470. Today is May Day, and that means a workers holiday here in Europe, so most shops were closed, but I managed to find one to spend euros in, and others on the cruise were enjoying the several pastry shops. This was a great day one we’ll cherish. Yesterday we spent a great morning in wonderful Rouen. This was the scene of the trial and execution of Joan of Arc, but also of two great cathedrals and many old half timbered buildings. We felt like we were walking through history. Tonight we sail through the night to Conflans. Some will go to Versaille, but we will take a slow day to poke around that city. In the afternoon we sail into Paris, and will have a cruise on the Seine in the evening. Our trip is winding down. We are thinking of home, and of spring in our own garden in Seattle. We hope to bring some spring back with us as it appears Seattle is still shivering in the cold. Au revoir.