Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The broccolli harvest

My crop of broccolli.

When Henry David Thoreau grew beans, he wrote that he made the ground say "beans" instead of "grass." I made the earth say, "broccolli."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A day in June

The tea rose has some white blooms on it. (In the background, you can just see the top of my dog's head as he peeps out the screen door.) The manneke piss in action.
The first fuschia blooms of the summer.

Gardening progress

Here is my brocolli. Compare that with the earlier picture. Pretty impressive, huh? The herb garden, looking pretty in hues of green.
Peppermint in the foreground, with heliotrope behind.

Monday, June 11, 2007

How does my garden grow?

I do container gardening on a southern deck. One side gets full sun, the other side has an upper deck above and so is quite densely shaded. These are some of my plants. I took pictures partly so later this summer I can see the change when they've grown. I do plan to get more plants in addition to these.

The shady side

On the shady side of the deck, I have two whisky barrels with impatiens, a shade-loving flower, in the middle, and creeping jenny around the circumference.
The creeping jenny will grow over the edges and cascade down the sides. The impatiens will fill in the center. I think these are double-impatiens, with more petals. They look a little more rose-like.

This is a pretty variegated-leaf plant called "burgundy wedding veil," or solenostemon hybrida. I have five pots of these on the wall of the deck. They get a little sunshine, but not too much.

Fuschias. I just love these. They will cascade over the pot, too, and have beautiful flowers. I often buy well-started hanging pots of them, but this year to save money I bought these twiggy hanging pots and three small fuschias to put in each, so they are still pretty small. When they are mature, they attract hummingbirds. I have four pots hanging from the roof of the lower deck (the floor of the upper deck).

At the west end of the deck, I have these hanging pots, two of them. They are lined with coconut matting. I have lobelia on each side, to grow over the edge. In the middle, the red flower is a begonia. This one gets some sun in the late afternoon, but not too much. Lobelia can't take too much sun.

By the "pond"

We have a little "pond," or "water feature," as they call it on HGTV. It is a replica of a famous Belgian statue, the manneke piss. Guess where the water shoots out.

I grow viney plants to cover the plumbing and make him look more natural. In the front pot is some ivy, in the back one, creeping jenny. They already hide the back plumbing; eventually the creeping jenny can cover the pipes from the water. This creeping jenny is some years old. I cut it back every fall, and it comes back every summer.

Tea roses

I almost forgot to include my tea rose. I had four pots of them, but only one came through the winter. Lots of buds are on this one, but it's not blooming yet.

My flower-loving grandma used to grow small roses and cut one or two blooms and put them in a little crystal vase near where she sat indoors. Pretty.

Still on the sunny side

My deck has a sunny, south-facing, side and the herbs and veggies are there, as well as these.

Peppermint. This kind of goes with my love of herbs. Peppermint needs its own pot because it spreads so much.

Heliotrope. Even the name refers to "helios"--the sun. I'm told this was a plant my flower-growing grandma liked. It kind of reminds me of lilac in color and the shape of the flowers--like miniature lilac. It has a sweet scent, too.

And lavender. There's something romantic about the mere idea of lavender. Lovely ladies scenting their wardrobes with it, and so on. These are young ones, so they're taller and skinnier. Ideally lavender plants should be sort of ball-shaped at the leaves, with the flower stalks growing above them. I love, love, love the smell of lavender. These buds are not open yet. I'm an anglophile, so I choose English lavender; there are many other varieties.

Salad bowl plant pot

I put some salad plants in whisky barrel. I like the idea of getting food right outside my door.
Brocolli. I put my hand in to show how small the brocolli "tree" is right now. The leaves are really big, though.

Lettuce. This is Romaine lettuce. My dad says I should hurry up and eat it before it gets "tough." I kind of hate to cut into it and ruin how pretty it is.

I think I probably have too many onions too close together. We'll see what happens. I do like onions.

I actually don't like many vegetables, but I like hot peppers, so I planted two of them.

This is the second pepper plant.


I like to grow herbs because I like plants with fragrance. I like to pick a stem or leaves, rub them in my hands, and then smell them.



Are you going there?

When you grow herbs, you might as well get the "Scarborough Fair" references over with right away. So I planted these:




And thyme.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Rainy Day

It's raining today. That's not a complaint, just a statement of fact. If you live in Western Washington, you'd better learn to like rain. I do. I'll admit that in the winter months, from January into March, if we go too many days in row without any sunshine, it can get to be a downer. But then when I lived in San Jose, CA, I used to find it wearing to have too many hot, sunny days in a row with no rain in July, August, and September. The first rainy days in October were a pick-me-up.

In San Jose, it really does not rain in those three months, just not at all. In Lynden, it rains less in July and August than in other months, but it will rain some of the days. The last few years, though, we've had exceptionally hot, dry summers. The Northwest Washington Fair occurs in Lynden in August, and it is proverbial that it always rains at least once during Fair Week. Some years it rains fairly heavily the entire week.

Well, this afternoon I head to Whatcom Community to get advice on registration, and tonight I go to my sister-in-law's for dinner. Sounds like a good day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows predictions

As Rocky the squirrel used to say, Now here's something we hope you'll really like. The final Harry Potter book comes out July 21, and here are my predictions.

1. Of course Dumbledore will NOT come back. He's dead. And in the HP novels, dead is dead. Learning to accept the finality of death is one of the major themes of the books. In Book 1, Harry has to give up staring into the mirror of erised to see his dead parents. He has to give them up. In Book 5, Sirius goes "beyond the veil," and although Harry tries to contact him, he can't, because Sirius is dead, and dead is dead. Dumbledore is dead.

I'll say this for J.K. Rowling, unlike Star Trek or George Lucas, she plays by the rules. Dead characters don't get brought back to life or discovered not really to be dead, nor do they attend parties in transparent form--unless, like the ghosts at Hogwarts, they shrank from the final journey and, essentially, chickened out. It's the sad, pathetic ones, not the heroes, who reappear.

2. I think Harry's chance of still being alive at the end of Book 7 is 51% to a 49% chance of his being dead. Harry is a Christ figure; it's all over him (The Chosen One), and Christ figures sacrifice their lives to save others. So it would be entirely consistent for Rowling to end the book by having him save the world by sacrificing his own life. J.R.R. Tolkien, to name one of Rowling's important influences, went that route with Frodo, ultimately. But C.S. Lewis, another major influence, always ended his Narnia books happily, and I think Rowling resembles Lewis more than Tolkien.

The Lord of the Rings is full of themes of loss and farewell and a vanishing way of life, and Frodo's departure fits in with that. Lewis's books have dangerous adventures, with heroes willing to risk their lives, but in the end coming through safely. Aslan dies, but rises again, not because dead isn't dead but because there is life beyond death. Lewis goes to Easter and even to the consummation of the Kingdom, but Tolkien goes the via dolorosa and stays in the fallen world that is still being redeemed.

Rowling's books are more like the Narnia Chronicles than the Lord of the Rings. They have dark moments, dangerous adventures, and even deaths, but they always end on an upbeat note. If she does kill Harry, she's going to have to show a lot of good results to make it worthwhile when she summarizes all her characters' post-Hogwarts destinies. But I think she just won't have the heart to disappoint her fans by killing Harry. (She seemed to say in an interview once that she wouldn't even consider killing Harry's best friend, Ron.)

But she has to make it plain that he is willing to die, and that is why she's emphasizing that he very well could.

3. Snape will turn out to be loyal to the Order of the Phoenix. When Dumbledore pleaded, "Severus, please," he was asking Snape to save Draco Malfoy, whom Voldemort would kill if Dumbledore survived. They must have had some sort of agreement that if it was necessary Snape would kill Dumbledore to save Malfoy, and that was why Snape was willing to make the unbreakable vow to Malfoy's mother to that effect. Doing so further protected Snape from Voldemort's realizing he was a double-agent.

4. It's very possible that Snape will save Harry's life. He's done so before. It's been a recurring motif that they dislike each other, that Harry mistrusts him, that he's not in fact a nice man, BUT he's not completely evil either, and he keeps saving Harry. Possibly, Snape will die saving Harry. That would prove his loyalty to everyone beyond a doubt.

5. I don't know if it's just on Pemberley's library board or other places too, but I do NOT believe that Snape ever had a crush on or was in love with Harry's mother, Lily. Rowling would not introduce that plot line in Book 7 without dropping hints about it in previous books, and no such hints exist. People holding this theory read the books just as badly as those who thought that Harry and Hermione would fall in love.

6. Aberforth Dumbledore will do something important. Some people who read the books far more obsessively than I ever did figured out that the barkeep at the Hog's Head is Albus Dumbledore's brother Aberforth, and J.K. Rowling confirmed that they are right, but the books themselves have not yet revealed this. They figured it out by remembering Dumbledore's remark that his brother got in trouble for doing illegal experiments with goats and noticing a book or so later that the Hog's Head barroom smelled like goats. I'm guessing that Aberforth's part in the story will involve a bezoar, the stone from a goat's stomach that is an antidote to many poisons.

7. I'm stretching here, but somehow socks will be important. The story mentions socks a lot. In Book 1, Dumbledore says that his strongest desire is for a nice warm pair of socks. People are always wrapping precious or fragile objects in socks. Harry and Ron give socks to Dobby. Fred and George tell their mom they appreciate her now that they have to wash their own socks. So either socks are important or they are a running gag/motif. At the very least, the references to socks will continue.

For now that's it for what I came up with on my own. Rowling has given some other hints, and I'm less sure what to make of those.

1. She said the fact that Harry, though in every other way he looks like his father, "has his mother's eyes" is important.

2. She said we'd learn something important about Lily (Harry's mom).

3. She said someone who had not had any magical ability all his/her life would finally do some. She has said this person will NOT be Lily's sister, Harry's Aunt Petunia. The two squibs (non-magical children of magical parents) we know of are Arabella Figg and Argus Filch. It seems likely it will be one of those, and I'm betting on A. Figg, who is a member of the Order of the Phoenix.

4. She told her readers to ask themselves why Dumbledore had James Potter's (Harry's father's) invisibility cloak when James died. (Dumbledore handed it on to Harry in Book 1.) Dumbledore himself would not have needed the cloak as he knows how to make himself invisible without one. I'm guessing James asked him to pass it on, probably as a loan for a specific situation, to a particular person, but Dumbledore never got the chance. I don't know to whom he was meant to give it.

5. She said she relented and saved one character she thought would die, but she killed two others to make it happen. I don't think she ever meant Harry, Ron, Hermione, or even Ginny, to die. Maybe it was one of the Weasley parents (Harry keeps losing parental figures) and she sacrificed some more minor characters instead, like Bill or Charlie Weasley. Or maybe it was Hagrid she saved. I just don't know.

6. I think she has said that Aunt Petunia would do something surprising or important. I think Petunia will in some way act to shelter or protect Harry, out of blood loyalty, if not love.

A minor prediction, not based on clues Rowling has given in interviews: I think that Harry and his friends will each use their unique magical gifts in the war against Voldemort. Ron has already used his talent for chess in Book 1; other than that, I'm not actually sure what his talents are. Maybe he'll just overcome his sense of inferiority and act with confidence. Hermione will use her knowledge of runes and/or arithmancy; Ginny will use a really good hex (would it be too frivolous for her to use the bat-bogey hex?); Neville will use his knowledge of herbology; and the Weasley twins will use weapons/merchandise from their shop.

So those are my predictions. Oh, yeah, and people more observant than myself have noticed that the likeliest candidate to be R.A.B. is Sirius Blacks brother, Regulus (?). I agree that it's probably him, and that the locket Horcrux is probably the same locket they saw in a cabinet in the Black house, Grimmauld Place. Ah, and one more prediction: I think that the locket horcrux will be harder to find because Mundungus Fletcher will have stolen and possibly sold it.

Long Time, No Blog

I should never end an entry by promising to complete the topic in my next entry. That inhibits making the next entry. So I may come back to these thoughts on Christ's anointing at a future date, but meanwhile I've had some other things on my mind. One was a church issue, that I don't want to talk about here. The other was the closing of my store. Creative Borders Framing and Art Supplies is no more, and I will shortly remove the link to its site as I have taken the site down.

Why did I close the store? Because I was losing money. Now I'm about to embark on a paralegal certificate course at Whatcom Community College. It should take me a year, after which I hope to get a job where I'll make money instead of losing it. But I'll never blog about my job or workplace, I promise, future employers. Instead I'll blog about important literature, as in my next post. (New topic, new post.)