Greetings from Seattle



Monday, January 29, 2018

Discontent

I'm getting cabin fever.
 "This is the winter of our discontent". Well, that might be a little extreme, but I have to tell you that I am very tired of this endless rain. 
Yes, Seattle is known for rain, but we don't really have that much. It's more about the "big gray" that we usually have to put up with, a lack of sunshine. But this January has been WET!
I have finished my REDUCE task of sorting out cupboards and drawers throughout the house. I'm sure I could still find a few things to cull out, but not much. So I need a new project. I'm going to start on some sewing next. I got a few more tee shirts from Jake and I am going to make sofa pillow covers from them. I made one using my sample and scraps from the tee shirt quilt, so I have a process figured out. It should be easy but will keep me occupied. 

I have not made progress on reducing me. That fall I took a week and a half ago torqued my hip, the one that is under attack by arthritis, and I am still not able to do aerobic, distance walking, which is my favored kind of exercise. I have been using my recumbent stationary bike for exercise, hoping I am not making matters worse, since that doesn't make my hip hurt. In this dismal, dark weather I just want to eat potato chips and chocolate and drink lattes. Obviously I can't do that, so I am constantly at odds with myself. 

We saw two more nominated movies this weekend. I wrote about "The Shape of Water" in my last post. We also saw "Lady Bird". We enjoyed this coming of age, mother/daughter relationship story, but I would not put it in the same category as some of the others we've seen. It was just a good movie, not that special. 

Sunday we had brunch with son Jake. He is doing well and we had a great intellectual conversation. He is a very bright guy and very well read. He challenges me and I like that. I love deep, intelligent, thought provoking conversation and don't have that many opportunities for it. 

It's dark now and about time to go finish dinner. I really need to get up, get going, and work on my mood. Maybe counting my blessings will help. I have a home that is much more than shelter, a loving spouse and life partner, healthy kids and grandkids, financial security, and food that I can now go cook. I am very fortunate.

Rain is just an inconvenience when I have the option to not be out in it, to not be cold and hungry and homeless, like so many are here. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

What Was That? (Spoiler Alert)


Those of you who have seen the movie "The Shape of Water" and loved it will have to forgive me. We just saw it tonight and are bewildered. 

When I first read about this movie, I thought, "Oh, a fantasy. Not my thing." But then it kept getting all these rave reviews and awards, so I thought maybe I could suspend belief and go with it and see the magic and beauty others claimed it has. 

It didn't work. At first I was intrigued, but the characters and the setting were confusing. Who were these people, what were their relationships, why were some portrayed as so good, while one in particular was so evil? Were they just caricatures? What was the purpose of the "monster", the aquatic creature from some South American river? Why were the Russians involved? It was a bit of a mess. 

Some of these questions were sort of answered and I was going along with it all until, SPOILER ALERT, the sweet little mute girl falls in love with the "Creature From the Black Lagoon". Yes, I saw this  movie in 1960 when I was in high school and it was being shown in installments in the auditorium at lunch time. It was hokey then. 

OK, fine, she's being sweet to this tortured monster, but ....what?! She steals him, he ends up in her bathtub and they........have sex! Yep. That's where it lost me for sure.

There was a lot of violence after that. Happy ending? I don't know.  Maybe. You have to decide for yourself. I didn't care.

Now, I really need to know. what did I miss? If you saw this  movie and loved it, why? 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Movies


It's movie time!

As you probably know, when the Academy Awards nominations come out, we make an effort to go see as many of the Best Picture nominees as possible. 

There are so many other award organizations now, though, that the Oscar nominations are almost an anti-climax. "Winners" have been announced for weeks already, and there are clear favorites among the movie professionals.  

We hardly ever go to movies the rest of the year, and don't even watch that many at home via cable TV. But we do like good movies, of which there are very few, it seems to me, and January is a good time to get out and visit a local theater. 

Because of all of the movie hype early on, starting with the critic's lists of best movies of the year in December, we have a head start on this year's list. 

Here are the 2018 Oscar Nominations for Best Picture:
"Call Me by Your Name"
"Darkest Hour"
"Dunkirk"
"Get Out"
"Lady Bird"
"Phantom Thread"
"The Post"
"The Shape of Water"
"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

We have seen, and can highly recommend for everyone, "The Post" and "Darkest Hour".  Both are based on historical events. "The Post" is about the release and publication of the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon presidency, and underscores the need for freedom of the press. "Darkest Hour" portrays Winston Churchill's determination to fight Hitler and the Nazis in spite of the current trend in Britain to  appease and capitulate. It takes place as the German army has trapped more than 300,000 British troops on the beach at Dunkirk. 

The movie "Dunkirk", which is now available for streaming or Comcast On Demand, is the story of what happened on the beach at Dunkirk. An armada of fishing and pleasure craft were sent across the channel to rescue the soldiers. You will have to determine your tolerance for war movie violence before seeing this one.  

All three of these movies are very well done and wonderfully acted. Gary Oldman as Churchill and Meryl Streep as Katherine Graham are definitely Oscar contenders. 

The other movie we have seen so far is "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri". Frances McDormand is great as a mother whose daughter was raped and murdered and left on the roadside, and who stirs up the small town when she takes on the beloved sheriff to get someone to solve this nine month old murder. Be forewarned. This is not a polite movie. The language is foul. The movie is by turns racist and accepting, hateful and loving, violent and kind, funny and sad, vengeful and redemptive. I liked it very much. 

Now I'll be checking to see when and where we can watch the next one on the list. I think I'll go for "The Shape of Water". 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

For the Birds

The rain was endless today. Only the birds seemed to not mind the weather. (The photos are a bit fuzzy, taken through windows that have been rain splattered.) 

From morning till dusk they have stationed themselves in the vicinity of the feeders outside our windows. 

Dark-eyed Juncos flitted everywhere. Usually ground birds, they have taken to the sunflower chips and the peanut suet in the feeders. I think we're making them lazy, as it is so much easier than scratching in the leaf litter on the ground, although they still do that too. 
They fill the maple tree, waiting for their turn. 
Others come too, like the lovely little Townsend's Warbler. 

And today, the rosy colored House Finches. 

The little Bewick's wrens are frequent visitors and usually nest nearby. 

Chickadees, black-capped and chestnut-backed, take turns with the Juncos, but they grab one beak-full and are off, hard to capture in a photo on a dark day. 


Flocks of tiny bush tits arrived late in the day. By 3:00 very little light was left to capture them in the dimness of the day. 


And yet they all still came flitting and flocking to the feeders. At least it was easy to for them get a drink today. And they supplied me with entertainment. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Monday after the Anniversary.

Today turned out to be a pretty day -surprise! - but I didn't take much advantage of it.

I slept in and then got a very slow start to the day. I enjoyed looking at all of the posts of the Women's Marches around the country. We didn't participate in the anniversary march this year. We had a garden club meeting scheduled for Saturday morning, a planning session for the rest of the year, and we needed to be there. Also, my leg is not ready for that much standing around and slow walking. I also couldn't identify what my purpose would be in marching this year.  I am not jumping on the "Me Too" bandwagon. It's going strong without me. 

This morning Facebook reminded me of my post of a year ago, to be found here, and so I went back and read Why I Marched. I like what I wrote there and those are still my issues, but in the interim I have focused my causes to a few: the need for TRUTH as found in real journalism, freedom of the press, and the sanctity of our voting rights. Therefore I have subscribed to the online Washington Post and the New York Times, as well as the actual delivered,  daily Seattle Times.  In order to support these investigative journalists I believe I need to pay for their services. 

I have selected "Let America Vote" as my cause for monthly donations in the political realm. This organization is working to combat voter suppression, something all too common in many of our states. I am also watching the gerrymandering issues going through the courts. We really need to make some changes before the elections this fall if possible. In that regard, I have contributed to Hillary Clinton's new political organization, "Onward Together", which gives financial aid and support to activist groups focused on electing Democrats. 

I am no longer angry, like I was a year ago. but I find plenty of reasons to be disgusted these days. We must persist. 

I did get out and walk about two miles yesterday, and then did ten miles on the stationary bike. That was too much, and today I am hobbling around a bit again. 

So what did I do with this "pretty day"? Well, between the two of us we got the house work and laundry done, I went grocery shopping, took care of some business communication, and Tom spent several hours outside in the yard and in his greenhouse. Tomorrow the rain is due to return, and I think I have a couple more areas in the house where I can sort and reduce stuff. That goal is on going, for my house and for me too. 


Friday, January 19, 2018

More garden photos

It's dark and chilly and drippy today, a good day to be inside. I was able to do my stretching exercises this morning after going to our usual Friday morning breakfast and then stopping by the eyeglass center to have my glasses straightened after their little fling yesterday. This afternoon I tentatively mounted the stationary bike in the garage to see how that would feel, and was pleased to be able to do the whole ten mile session. I think that will be my rehab exercise until I can get back to walking. I am better with each day. 


Here are more photo I took yesterday of our mid-January garden. 

Down the path to the garden deck, a large Douglas fir and an old Western Red Cedar frame the side yard. 
 Hydrangeas are yet to be clipped of old blooms. 
 Camellias and rhododendrons anchor the space with year round green, as does the variegated fetid iris. 
 It looks like we may be losing one of our recently planted arborvitae hedge trees. They were replacements for the fir hedge we finally took out several years ago. 

 Native oxalis bubbles up out of the ground almost as soon as the old plants die back. 
 Following the path up to the front yard. 
 Evergreen heucheras fill the porch planter box. 
 In front of the living room window the witch hazel is opening its fringy blooms. 




 A fancy fatsia adds winter interest on the front property line. After we removed the 15 foot high hedge, we exposed the little wood lot on the neighbor's property in front of us and added plants for color and texture. 

 Near the witch hazel, a large clump of sarcococca is in bloom, sending out its intense and wonderful fragrance from its tiny blooms.  

 Pots on the porch are still stuffed with clippings from the garden. 
 Tom's collection of hardy cyclamen includes both spring and winter flowering varieties. The foliage is as lovely as the little blooms. 

 Snow drops are up and ready to pop open. 
 Our resident hummingbirds come to the winter jasmine right outside the family room window. 
 Abelia Kaleidoscope was planted just two years ago where we removed an overgrown box wood. The non-hardy echeverias have not yet succumbed to the cold and the wet. They are usually melted by now. 
 Non- native mahonia. I wish it would bloom, as it is a winter blooming variety that hummingbirds love. 
 There's just a touch of gold along the driveway. 
 And from the inside we can see most of these little early bloomers in our winter garden. 

Another weekend is upon us. Have  good one, everyone!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Grounded


I couldn't go for my exercise walk today because I had a bit of a mishap yesterday.  But since we had a gap between rain storms I took my camera out into the yard instead. 

Ironically, yesterday Facebook reminded me that it was just four years ago on that day that I slipped and fell while out walking and face planted on the blacktop with a well placed piece of gravel that created a bloody lump right in the middle of my forehead. The resultant black eyes were quite dramatic, and it took months for the lump to go away. 

Well, yesterday I got an early start on my floor exercise routine, and then Tom and I went for our walk. So far, so good. At 11:15 I was ready to go work in the yard until 1:00. Boots on, snippers and bin in hand, I started on the driveway, clipping crocosmia and picking up debris. 

Then I moved on to the back yard where Tom was pruning a shrub on the wall. 
Scene of the crime.
We still had some fencing wire on the lawn as raccoon defense and I stepped over the first section but didn't realize there was another hidden in the grass. I tripped and in what seemed like slow motion, descended to the ground, body first,  and motion propelled into another face plant into the grass. My glasses went flying, but remained intact, and my face survived with only a slight bruise from one of the nose pieces. But I apparently torqued my right thigh muscles and my arthritic hip. 

Tom noticed me from his step stool when he heard the "G.. D....t" I expressed from the ground. After letting him know in no uncertain terms that it was time to pick up that damn wire, I got up with a hand up from Tom, collected my glasses, sat for a few minutes and then went back to work. However I was hobbling pretty good by the time we quit for lunch at 1:00. I had to go grocery shopping in the afternoon, so I had Tom go with me so all I had to do was push the cart.

Today I am much better, but it will be a few days before I can set an aerobic pace for 3 plus miles. I might have to work back up to that gradually. 

One of you asked about our raccoon saga. They still come back, and I checked, and we still have live Japanese Beetle grubs that they are after. We will have to wait until the first of March to start another grub eradication campaign.  I don't know what we will do about the raccoons when we try to replant grass. 

 Others of you have made comments about " gardening now?!"  Yes, here in the mild climate of the coastal Pacific Northwest there is always something to do in the garden if you can get out on dry days. There is mulch to spread, beds to dig or clear of debris, or perennials to clip, or shrubs and trees to prune. 

And there is always color and something blooming. 


 The patio pots are dressed for winter, but that geranium still not yet destroyed is a surprise. 

Yesterday we got the beds around the upper lawn clipped and cleaned out.

 We found daffodils emerging, with fat buds. 

 In the secret garden the moss carpet has come back. 
 Rain drops from last night's drenching bejewel branches. 
 We do grow moss well here. 

 Evergreen ferns ring the secret garden. 


 Big fat leaves still linger on the oak leaf hydrangea. 

 Native mahonia (Oregon Grape), sword ferns, and acuba fill in under the fir and maple trees. 
And the native red flowering current buds are teasing us and the hummingbirds as they wait to burst. 
There are more photos, but those can wait for another post. This one is quite long enough.  I have plenty of time on my hands, since I am grounded.