Sunday, May 25, 2008


The dogwoods are in full, riotous bloom. I have 6 different dogwoods in my yard ranging from shrubby to tree type. Today I have chosen my newest dogwood: Venus Dogwood, to highlight. It's large lime tinged, white blooms, are everything I had hoped for when I planted it last fall. It is the focal point for my 'front yard rejuvenation' project. I purchased 'Venus' from The Plant Farm at Smokey Point, a wonderful (and huge) nursery north of Seattle. Now I am off to weed, weed, weed! Thanks to all of you well wishers, my elbow has improved. I only intend on weeding for a short time.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Folklife 2008

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What a beautiful day to be out and about in Seattle! I took the bus downtown to Folklife at Seattle Center and joined the tie dyed throngs to listen to music made with every conceivable instrument from a jaw bone to a wash tub. Of course the usual fiddles, mandolins, banjos, and dulcimers were also in abundance. I even mustered enough voice to sing with the Sacred Harp singers. It was good to see old friends and join them in harmony. And when I couldn't stand the incessant bagpipes and percussion one minute more I headed into Belltown and got myself a much needed haircut; thanks to the gift certificate I bought at Sanislo's auction a couple weeks back. To see more of my Folklife photos, click on the little slideshow icon above.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

From the Garden

My right elbow is in extreme pain from lots of weeding that I have done over the past two weeks. Has it stopped me? Not completely, but it has slowed me down. Working at the keyboard is more painful than weeding after a day in the yard. I am thinking of you, my gardening / blog friends but I may need to slip out the blog communication for a couple weeks at least due to tennis elbow that is, in my case, gardener's elbow.

Matt's Indeterminate Cherry tomato is in the burlap sack. I got this idea as I was doing my early morning jog last weekend. I lined the sack with cocoa mat before adding soil and the tomato plant.

See the graceful curve of the path of green lawn as it leads to the old apple tree? I am so proud of this path and the beds on either side. They are my design and I think they add so much to our yard.
The wisteria arbor is eye catching but it also smells sweet and enticing; especially to bees. The yellow azalea is also very fragrant .

The shadows of midday are always intriguing. Color seems to fade in the sunlight of hot days but shadows reign, providing interest for sun weary eyes.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Unseasonably Warm

The weather is fool in' with us. Yankin' our chain, as it where: nearly 80 two days in a row. This day has been productive. I awoke at 6:15 drank black coffee and gazed lovingly at my cool expanse of backyard. Gardening called but so did the annual task of summarizing my wardrobe. So I went through boxes and this and that came off of hangars and this and that went into drawers and a little went into bags for Goodwill. Then 'the husband' says, "I am off to roller blade." I say, "Wait, wait, me too!"and we collect our skates and I grab that last cup 'o joe and we scoot into the truck. At Alki by 8:15 on a sunny day, now that IS perfect. After an hour of roller blading we are back at home. I tackle weeds and do arranging of pots. I schlep 9 to the deck: geraniums, miniature roses, peppers and arrangements too obscure to recall. After four hours of gardening in the high heat of the day, I am fried. That midday shower was much needed! Then I make a list and zip off to Trader Joes. $125. later, laden with goodies, I am back at the house putting this into the fridge, that into the freezer. I start browning the chicken thighs for paella (if it were authentic it would be rabbit). I chuck the beginnings of paella into the fridge and jet off to 5:00 mass. Father's homily about the trinity was blessedly short; he took pity on all of his over heated parishioners. Then back home again and I finish the Paella and it is perfect. This is a Spanish 'catch-all' dish: seafood, chicken, and salami with rice, red peppers, onions, and peas. It is NOT low in fat, but OH is it tasty! 'The husband' suggested making sangria which would have made the dinner perfectly Spanish but I nixed the idea. Instead I chose a 2007 Gascon vintners Malbec from Argentina. White wine probably would've been a more understandable pairing but this Malbec with it's blueberry, blackberry, and cherry undertones was very yummy indeed. We also watched (and enjoyed) Charlie Wilson's War on DVD tonight.paella #2

Sunday, May 11, 2008

And For the Encore

If the ornamental cherry tree is our focal point then the apple tree must be the encore. It has an elegant branching system and the blossoms not only look spectacular but they smell just divine too.

The bush peony is starting to bloom. I am not sure it is in the best of locations as you must hunker down a bit to look the flowers in the face.

The pink azealea, even in it's old age, manages to be a 'show off'. In the front of the bed you see three types of lettuce/greens, which we began eating last week. It gives salads a real zing to have mesculun and French sorrel, added to loose leaf red sail and green lettuce.

Today I harvested some of my rhubarb and made a Rhubarb Custard Pie. I used my mom's recipe (the 1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg and the 3 eggs are the special ingredients). However, I did decide to use brown sugar instead of white and I used less sugar overall. It looks scrumptious! Time to 'dig in'. If you all were here I would share, REALLY, I would!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Puttering with Pictures


Becomes this:

when you enjoy puttering with pictures. No, it wasn't done in Photoshop. I used which is a new creative online service for editing photos and much MUCH more. If you want an invitation to the site just ask; I have 5 invitations to give away. I'll warn you, it's addictive. Here it is, after midnight, and I still am puttering away.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Easy as Apple Pie

So, our classroom phone rings about 5:00 this afternoon and I answer, "Hello, Sanislo Elementary, Kindergarten."
The response, "Hello, this is your daughter....." and I grin ear to ear. These rare spontaneous phone calls from my 20 year old daughter melt my heart. "How many apples do you put in an apple pie? I don't have much time on my phone."
I respond theatrically, "Oh so I have a daughter!" and I smile informatively at my team teaching partner. "Well, a gentle mound." (I'm moving my hand in the air above an imaginary pie.) as I respond to Honey Girl. "And don't forget to vent the crust! And why no time on the phone?"
The Honey Girl sighs, "It's scav weekend and I made, oh, like 20 phone calls to friends driving to Kansas."
Me, momentarily befuddled says, "HUH?" and then it dawns, this is the annual scavenger hunt at U of Chicago.
Contrast that with:
I'm at the gym in the early morning (I work out at 5:30am, almost religiously). In the shower room is a mother and teen aged daughter. This is a VERY small gym; only two shower heads. I am out of the shower, they go in. I am dressing, the young girl and her mom go into the shower, the water turns on but it does not drown out the conversation.
The Mom says, "Open your eyes, you can't shower in your sleep!"
The daughter mumbles, groans and says with increasing volume "I HATE this! It is NEVER, NEVER going to happen again!"
The Mom begins shushing her in a panicked voice, "Shh, shh, shh, get it together! You help with the bills and it won't happen."
It dawns on me; bills, showers...they must have had a water shut off. Dignity, they must have dignity. I want to be invisible; especially for the daughter. I manage the usual pleasantry of "Bye, have a good day." as the mom enters the locker room and I am making my exit. I feel hypocritical saying those words, knowing that their day is probably nowhere near 'good'.
This Mother's Day weekend enjoy time with your daughters and time with your mother but think too of the women who struggle and let's do what we can to give them our support.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Here it is!

Taken from the deck it is somewhat hidden but we have decided that is o.k. After all, many of my garden treasures need a 'walk around' to be noticed.

Taken from about mid-yard and looking quite striking, don't you think?

Right in front of the Sanislo kindergarten masterpiece; don't you love it? I know I do! My husband replaced the existing chain with a thicker gauge chain. We both agreed that it makes peace with the old gate to the 'way back'. It gives the gate a purpose. It is a place for me to hang a reminder of my 'other passion', teaching kindergarten.

One Lucky Teacher

This was one of the kindergarten items at last night's 'Sanisoul Train' Auction for Sanislo Elementary where I teach. Today it is MINE and I did not have to so much as lift my bidding paddle. I am grateful beyond words! Before the auction begins they have a raffle with $25. a pop tickets. The winner of the raffle gets to choose any one item from the live auction to keep before any bidding begins. Susan K., the parent of one of my students had the lucky ticket. Up she jumps from her table and she trots over to me and tosses the ticket in my direction! I'm sure I looked totally confused (as I was) "It's yours," she smiles. Well, you can't imagine, the shock, the elation, the shaky knees and teary eyes; I was SO touched by her generosity and by the words of congratulations from parents of students both past and present. Even this morning I get emotional as I look at the window. It is my plan to hang it in the trellis of our garden gate, the gate that used to go to the 'way back' which is what we called the vacant lot behind us, the lot which now has the elephantine gray house five feet from the lot line. It will hang there in summer and it will hang in the window behind our computer during the winter. I am one lucky teacher!

Another Sunday in the Garden

trillums by 2

The Trilliums are up, looking very pristine in this photo and a bit tattered in the photo below. It seems that the slugs and snails know they are up too! Last year I moved foxglove to the most slug infested area of my gardens and that acted as a buffer to the plants I favored. Well, this year only ONE foxglove showed up in my yard. Fortunately my friend Christine had plenty of 'volunteer' foxglove to share with me.
See the teensy fly on the burgundy Trillium? Do you know what it is or why it likes my Trilliums? Every year they come and they stick to this one plant. The blooms last along time but it never fully opens like the white one above. I don't get it; could it be some symbiotic relationship?



The wisteria is none the worse for my pruning. Before long we will be greeted by the drone of bees 'working' the wisteria arbor.

Honey Daddy's here!

This is my newest hydrangea, Honey Daddy, purchased last fall. It sure brightens up this corner of the garden.

Across the Fence


The neighbor's lilacs are just starting to bloom. This huge old bush will be drooping to scrape the roof of our garden shed which is my excuse to pick big bouquets for us. The smell of lilacs is so heavy, so robust. In the way of associations, lilacs are always linked with hymns of 'Mary' in my mind. Bringing bouquets of lilacs and tulips to place before the statue of Mary was (and is)a May ritual in Catholic schools.


This is the view I get when looking across our fence to the east. The Sequoias are lovely, I believe there are 3 of them. The flowering cherry is also bright and beautiful at this time of year (although the pruning done on it by the neighbors is atrocious). The many dandelions and weeds that blow their seed into our yard, are NOT as welcome. But for now, it is vacant and I like that additional buffer of space around our yard.