Friday, March 30, 2012

While the sun shines

At first in the morning the sky was rather watery.

Then the sun came out.

I hurried outside to enjoy what sun would be allotted to us. I decided to make use of the time by cleaning up my herb barrel. Here is the before picture:

And here is the after picture:

A lot of my gardening is done in this sort of pottering way, where I'm indoors at my desk or reading and the sights through the windows draw me outside with no plan. I wander around pulling leaves here, pruning twigs there, pulling up the odd weed, and each small piece of work contributes to the whole setting.

Green and tender

On the contorted filbert, the catkins have opened up, and small green buds are forming--baby leaves.

The honeysuckle leaves are further along.

A closer look at the sweet, tender leaves on the honeysuckle.

Dear little leaves on a blueberry bush.

And the contorted willow out in the yard shows soft, pale green growth.

Magnolia blobs

I hope this picture gives some idea of how the magnolia buds and blooms look like different-sized blobs of white. It's like an impressionist painting in real life.

Victoria and Albert

Rain cleaned the air today. I'm reading on my Kindle A Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert, and the Death That Changed the British Monarchy. It describes the relationship between Victoria and Albert and how his death shattered her and drove her into seclusion to the extent that her reluctance to perform the monarch's public duties created a political crisis. I'm enjoying it. I like history and biographies, and I take an interest in the British monarchy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


It's been windy today and even more so tonight. The wind must be putting pollen and other things in the air, and my sinuses are affected. I still am waiting for March to assume lamb-like characteristics, but it continues to exhibit leonine qualities.

Monday, March 26, 2012


My next door neighbor's crocuses were at their perfect peak yesterday, and the sun was shining.

Reminds me of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, that she would talk about how different people have their prime at different ages, and then she would say that she was in her prime now.

My neighbor's magnolia is not yet in its prime, if prime means fully in bloom. I like this stage though, when some buds are still just fuzzy pods, others have just a hint of white petal showing and others are partly open.

Here's the theme song from the move version of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Does cold have a smell?

Tonight is another exceptionally cold night, down into the 20s (Fahrenheit), and both last night and tonight I feel like there's a smell seeping into the house from outside and that smell is ... the smell of cold. Turning up the heat dissipates it. Furthermore, the smell of cold makes my sinuses ache and eventually triggers an allergy attack. Unless I'm just crazy.

These 26- to 28-degree lows are exceptionally cold not just for March in Washington, but for anytime. We usually do get freezing temperatures at some point during the winter, but not much below freezing and not for very long. We are more likely to hover around 30 to 34, which is we we get so much freezing rain, snow mixed with rain, and all that good stuff.

But this is not winter. The thing that is making it cold is the lack of clouds. I don't know how it works in other climes, but around here cloud cover acts like a blanket, holding warmer air down near the earth. With no blanket of clouds, we shiver in the cold, just like someone with no blanket in bed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lovely but cold

It looked like a beautiful spring day outside today, but the temp was a bit cold. Tonight, because there's no cloud cover, it will be well below freezing. March is a month that tries men's souls.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vernal equinox

I didn't realize until I was reading friends' comments on Facebook that today is the spring equinox. We're halfway between winter and summer solstice.

In English novels set in the past, you sometimes see a reference to "Lady Day." Lady Day is March 25, not 20 or 21. It used to be associated with the spring equinox prior to various calendar reforms. It is the Feast of the Annunciation (when the angel Gabriel appeared to the virgin Mary to tell her she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit--notice it is nine months prior to Christmas, the celebration of Jesus' birth).

The novel I am thinking of in particular is Adam Bede. After Mrs. Poyser gives an earful to their landlord, the old squire, her husband keeps mentioning that they'll find out on Lady Day if they can stay on their farm. That was the day leases were renewed. Wikipedia's article has more information.

I had been contemplating the date and the season before realizing it was equinox. My thought was that March had come in like a lion, so it was high time it assumed a lamb-like demeanor. Still wild and roaring, though, I'm afraid. Today has been cloudy and windy, making it feel cold. We had a little rain, too, during the time that I was in Safeway getting groceries.

I like the word "vernal." I will go look it up, but I think it just means having to do with spring. I am correct. A line came to me, something like, "an urge in a vernal wood." I googled it and it was "One impulse from a vernal wood," from William Wordsworth's poem The Tables Turned: An Evening Scene on the Same Subject. He says:

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

I'm not sure I agree with that. In fact, I know I don't, but later when he says:

Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous form of things;—
We murder to dissect.

I am in sympathy with that. I think the scientific mind is necessary and good, so sometimes it is worthwhile to tear apart a beautiful flower, to kill an animal and cut it up, and even to cut open dead people to see what's inside and to learn how things work, but it's sad, too. And dissection is a means to an end; it is something you have to do in order to accomplish something better, namely, knowledge. But appreciation of beauty is an end in itself. Isn't there some other poem about pulling a flower out of a rock to study it, but not understanding it as a result? Ah, here it is, Flower in the Crannied Wall, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It's short enough to reproduce here in its entirety:

Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies;—
Hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

Wordsworth and Tennyson were contemporaries, Wordsworth a bit earlier than Tennyson, but their life spans overlap. They both lived in Nineteenth Century England and saw the growth and results, for better and worse, of the Industrial Revolution.

Monday, March 19, 2012


I had no intention of not blogging here while my sister visited me, but that's what I did without intention. I hope to get back in the swing of things now.

We continue to have a cold spring. The leaves bud and the bulbs send up their shoots and blooms on schedule, but the temperature stays chilly. The last few days we had rainy mornings with sunbreaks in the afternoon. This morning, there is no rain, but I see by my google gadget that the temperature may be at about the freezing point.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sister stuff

Good day. My sister came last night for an upcoming family event and we hung out and did stuff.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Who killed cock robin?

I've been seeing robins the last couple weeks, but yesterday I came across a dead one. I remembered that I had more irises at the top of the steps on the west side of the house where I had forgotten to apply Sluggo. So I ran up there with the product and on the top step was a robin that had died by violent means. I suppose one of the neighborhood cats is the killer. I left it there, hoping the predator will return to claim its prey. If it's still there next time I look, I guess I'll have to get a shovel and bury it.

The western steps a week ago, when we had a dusting of snow.

The steps last spring, when I had just planted some veronica.
The veronica, aka speedwell, has spread nicely since then.
The nursery rhyme "Who Killed Cock Robin?" Probably not in many of today's children's books, as it might be considered too violent -- murder and capital punishment!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring is Marching in

Five signs of spring at my sister-in-law's place in the county.

1. Forsythia showing.

2. Daffodils coming up.
3. Pansies blooming.

4. Miniature rhododendron budding.

5. Iris leaves shooting up.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pet peeve

I hate to "spring" ahead an hour! The Washington Post supports my view: Daylight saving time -- still mostly a scam.

Rainy Saturday

A rather dark rainy day. In yet another sign of spring, I saw a few snails and slugs on the sidewalks when I walked the dog this morning. So when we got back, after I brought the dog inside and wiped his paws, I went back outside and threw a bunch of Sluggo down among the irises that are coming up on the west side of the house.

Last year one of my irises was first slimed and then destroyed by a slug. This year, I hope to get the slugs before they get my flowers. A pre-emptive strike, as it were.

Friday, March 9, 2012

News Flash!

It rained in Western Washington today!

Oh, wait. That happens all the time.

Never mind.

Also, in a move I may live to regret, I started a separate blog of my political opinions. It's called "If we must."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Labor saving

Some mornings I pour two cups of coffee so that when I finish the first cup, I can just start the second cup without getting up to pour a refill. Does that make me lazy or smart?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Winter's last hurrah

At least I hope it's the last. The sun was shining through the leaded glass window this morning when I got up.

A very light snow fell overnight. Here is St. Francis in the morning sun.

The morning sun on the snowy yard.

Not quite ready for sitting and sipping a gin and tonic.

The contorted filbert with snow.

Most of it was gone later in the day, except in shady areas.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Much like yesterday: cold, rainy, yet with signs of spring. I gather it snowed in Bellingham this evening. I looked at the Lynden Webcam but didn't see snow. I could look out my own window, but if there is snow, I don't want to see it.

"Re-run" made me think of "Da Doo Ron Ron."

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spring's progress

Even though the temperature is chilly today--the high was about 45 degrees Fahrenheit--and it has been raining most of the day--and therefore was rather dark--still spring is making progress in the north county. Forsythia were starting to bloom and so were crocus. O frabjous day!

Yesterday at the Home & Garden Show I took a little journey into the future of spring. The south wing, I think it was, of the Jansen building was the garden section of the show. Local nurseries and landscape designers had set up their booths as gardens, complete with stone paths, fountains, shrubs and trees, and, of course, flowers.

The air was cool, fresh, and fragrant, beautifully fragrant. It did your heart good just to walk in and breathe. In the Bakerview Nursery display I found at least one source of the fragrance, and that was this hyacinth:

I delighted my eyes by walking through the displays several times looking at the bright, colorful flowers.

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Home Show

This afternoon I went to the Home and Garden Show put on by the The Building Industry Association of Whatcom County at our local fairgrounds.

Walking from where I parked towards the Jansen Building at the
fairgrounds.  To the left is the water tank, painted to resemble the
local landscape.

Today's weather.
I went there to see Ciscoe Morris, the Pacific Northwest's favorite gardening expert. I didn't want to use a flash while he was talking, so my pictures of him mostly came out kind of blurry.

I did ask him a question: When is the best time to prune a contorted filbert? His answer was that the best time is winter or mid-summer, but really anytime is okay. He also advised to be sure to prune away any suckers because they might be a completely different kind of filbert and take over the contorted filbert.

A recent picture of my contorted filbert.
So I'll  have to get on that.

Friday, March 2, 2012


Well, so many mornings when I had to go to work I would rather have stayed home, but it's a strange feeling when it comes true. I tried to think of and accomplish some useful things. I called my state's unemployment department to talk about my status and get some questions answered. A very nice lady gave me good information, helped me out, and also told me what was required of me, which I then fulfilled.

I ran a quick errand to the bank.

I did a load of laundry--which reminds me, I need to put it in the dryer and hang up those items that I don't put through the dryer. I own a lot of cotton clothes because I have highly sensitive skin. It's all part of being the delicate flower that I am. I generally don't put cotton clothes in the dryer for fear they'll shrink. I may be delicate but my build is (ahem) sturdy, and I can't afford to have my clothes shrink.

I did some work on my needlepoint/cross-stitch pillow while watching two episodes of "House." That Hugh Laurie is a good actor. I saw a commercial for a drug that is supposed to help you quit smoking, but the side effects seemed to include mental illness and a heart attack. As Dave Barry says, "So basically, the message of these drug commercials is: 1. You need this drug. 2. This drug might kill you."

I drank some coffee.

I finished reading The Woman in Whiteand began reading The Moonstone. I tend to get on author tracks; however, those are the only two novels I own by Wilkie Collins.

I made a reservation at a local restaurant for my family to celebrate a family birthday.

And I realized I didn't have to wait until late at night to blog.

And now it's the moment my dog has been waiting for since 3:00 p.m.: time to feed him. Oh, what an exhibition of delirious joy is in store for me as soon as I stand up and walk toward his bowl. Then will come a walk in the cold rain, also a subject for delirious joy on his part, less thrilling for me.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

R & R

A day of rest and recovery. Today is my first day "between jobs." The conclusion of the job I held through February 29th was as amicable as a parting can be between employer and employee, but the final days still subjected me to considerable stress. I felt last night that I had slept the whole night, but this afternoon I still felt the need for a nap wherein I slept deeply. My spirit is exhausted, my mind is worn, and my body is fatigued from the tension I went through.

It's like the weather outside. Winter is ending. Spring will be here in just a few weeks, but it snowed on February 29th, and the snow is melting slowly and messily, and the temperature is still cold. Nevertheless, spring will be here in a few weeks.