Archive for the ‘Diario’ Category

Cornstalks on the Gate for Halloween

November 16th, 2011 No comments

Here at House of Blues, we have only a few Halloween visitors each year, but it’s always fun for me (Margaret) to dress as the Grim Reaper in a long hooded black coat and hand out candy to any “little monsters” that show up.  Our visitors range in number from zero to 10, and this year they were zero.

We have better luck if we put out a jack-o-lantern and decorate the front gate with lights, but this year we both had the flu and weren’t up to it.

Today I gathered up our old corn stalks and sunflower canes (previously removed from the garden by Mike) and tied them in two mixed bundles using 19-gauge wire.  Fastened on either side of the front gate, these enormous bouquets make a graceful decoration. They would have been fine for Halloween, but now they pay tribute to Thanksgiving and let you know we are here and thinking about this fine old holiday.


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Our Gorgeous Neighbor

June 17th, 2010 No comments

The cherry tree in April.

Four doors up from us, in front of the Patricia Anne Apartments, the queen of “C.D.” cherry trees juts skyward, her branches laden with a thousand green, puissant pellets.

This gorgeous neighbor is a double tree, one trunk about five feet in circumference, the other, about four.  She towers over the Patricia Anne.

In April she bloomed– billows of white flowers.  Now, in June, she canopies the sidewalk.  Soon she will be raining fruit.

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2010 Running Log

January 13th, 2010 No comments
Feet of
(Chemo Week)
01/06 Genesee -/0.7m -/Loop 50ft
01/08 Volunteer -/0.7m -/Loop -/Tower 150ft
01/11 Lincoln -/1.0m -/1-3-2 200ft
01/13 Genesee 21:52/1.4m 10:55/Loop 10:57/Loop 100ft
01/15 Woodland 12:14+rests/4 x 0.25m 3:06/Lap 2:59/Lap 3:04/Lap 3:05/Lap 0ft
01/18 Woodland 11:43+rests/4 x 0.25m 3:02/Lap 2:54/Lap 2:54/Lap 2:53/Lap 0ft
(Chemo Week)
01/27 Woodland 13:03+rests/4 x 0.25m 3:19/Lap 3:15/Lap 3:18/Lap 3:11/Lap 0ft
(Knee Problem)
02/08 Woodland ~13:26+rests/4 x 0.25m ~4:00/Lap 3:04/Lap 3:20/Lap ~3:02/Lap 0ft 1:51/0.25m
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Sunday Lunch in the Cotswolds in Seattle

August 10th, 2009 No comments
"The ambiance remained..."

"The ambiance remained..."

It was our first “garden party,” and we served seven different offerings from the vegetable patch and two herbs, as we enjoyed a get-together with the “Other M and M’s.”  It was wonderful to see these dear people and to enjoy an afternoon in the back garden.  On the menu: garden peas, turnips, radishes, lettuce, mesclun, Swiss chard, snap peas, mint, and rosemary.  Also: mashed potatoes, Ann’s Essential Meatloaf, “gnarly” carrots,  homemade biscuits, and a lovely fruit plate– the latter contributed by the OMM’s.  We thought the day and the table setting vaguely suggested the terrace of some pub in the Cotswolds– but it would be some pub indeed that served such healthy foods, as was pointed out.  It was great fun “catching up” and exchanging opinions on the mad state of the world with our dear ones.  After they left, the ambience remained, and for a few minutes the table and the garden seemed to register their presence and hold the memory of a very happy first “garden party.”

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A Whirlwind in Seattle

July 7th, 2009 2 comments

It’s been such a whirlwind since we arrived in Seattle that blogging has taken a backseat, but let me try to bring you up to date.  You already know about our garden from other postings, so you know that whenever we have a chance we are either haunting the garden stores (of which the area has an amazing number and variety) or tending our veggies in the backyard.  In addition to the gardening we’ve done a bit of sailing, Mike has kept his professional work going, I have gotten the household up and running, and we’ve renewed ties with some darling people.

Our cousins from Canada have just departed after a lovely six-day visit, which unfortunately coincided with a heat wave that made their upstairs bedroom here a bit of an oven on some nights.  They were darling guests and gamely carried on in spite of the unseasonable heat.  We visited the Pike Place Market of course, attended the Fourth of July fireworks in Bellevue, had a joyous and interesting sail around Bainbridge Island on Bella Luna, shopped the bookstores, and enjoyed casual dinners out and at home.  They and we were amazed by the amount of traffic on the streets here at certain hours, as well as by the crowds lined up at restaurants.  We’d have loved to go to Ray’s Boathouse at Shilshole but abandoned that idea when we cased the place twice and discovered the parking lot jammed both times.

In a way that I can’t explain,  Seattle seems quiet and sterile to me when we first arrive, in contrast to the bustle of small-town life in Mariposa.  I miss our friends there, and the cluttered old house on Bullion Street, and the weekly routine.  But then the magic of being here kicks in– the water, the mountains, the garden, boats, bookshops, and family ties.  Besides the visit from the beloved Canadian cousins, we’ve been in touch by phone or in person with other dears as well.  We spoke by phone to Mike’s parents in England and also made contact with a brother and sister-in-law, nieces, a nephew, a Seattle cousin, and even a former sister-in-law.  To top it off, one evening we had a phone call from an in-law of Mike’s, a delightful woman who lives in Selma, California.  And I’ve resumed my cherished weekly get-togethers at Borracchini’s Bakery (more about that another time).

After the Canadian cousins left, the weather cooled so much that we had to close all the windows to try to retain some heat.  It was too cold to eat outside and almost too cold to work in the garden.  I noticed the front path was damp from a few spots of rain.  Strong winds came in and whipped the trees.

Welcome as it was, this natural air-conditioning would have been a godsend had it arrived a few days earlier, to cool our cousins at night as they valiantly made do upstairs with a fan and a slight cross-breeze.

We only hope the adventures of their whirlwind visit made up for the heat and left them with pleasant memories of magical Seattle.

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Long Day’s Journey

June 25th, 2009 No comments

We’ve been in Seattle a little over a week, getting settled and getting the new garden in.  Let me tell you a little about our road-trip getting here.

After one false attempt– I had forgotten something– we started down the road at 1:18 p.m. on June 15.  An hour later we were on the southern edge of Turlock, approaching the rest stop.  At 6:52 p.m., Mike glimpsed Mt. Shasta.  After seven hours on the road, at 8:18 p.m., we were on the southern edge of Ashland, Oregon.  By about 5:18 a.m., June 16  (and I omit the details of hours and hours of road-pounding) we had arrived at our home in Seattle.  Total hours, sixteen; driving hours, fourteen and one-half.  Total miles: 899.1.

Mike did by far the majority of the driving, though I took the wheel for about 100 miles in the northern great California Valley.  Our stops were quick and to-the-point: for gas, rest, and quick meals.  These latter were from the picnic basket and cooler in the trunk, which we had filled with home-made sandwiches at Mariposa.

The house had been serenely waiting for us.  Mike restored the water service and hot water supply, and we tumbled into bed in the room we call the “cave,” our basement bedroom.

Another oasis for the “Nomads.”

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Luncheon in Provençe at Blackberry Cottage

June 17th, 2009 No comments
A table in "Provençe"

A table in "Provençe"

We said farewell to friends with a picnic at Blackberry Cottage on Sunday afternoon.  We’ll miss these dear people during our five-month stay in Seattle.  Since we had been extremely busy preparing for the trip, we knew our menu for the picnic would have to be simple.  Mike thought a French country theme might suit a menu of tomato soup, bread, cheese, and fruit.

Since last year’s changes at the cottage, I have no idea where the picnic supplies, such as table cloths, have been stored, and there is little temptation to search for them in the over-stuffed garage.  At home, though, I found a striped blue and white sheet and laundered it to make a cover for the venerable picnic table.  Over that I placed blue-and-white tea towels as “place mats.”  The picnic china was culled from the cupboards at Bullion Street: light blue Italian soup bowls with a sort of peasant look to them, and some substantial old plates acquired in thrift shops.  Grape leaves from the trellis and plates of fruit were the table decorations. If you squinted as you looked at the table, you might see a French Impressionist still life there.

While I set the table Mike was at Bullion Street warming up the soup (see “Recipes” category).  He carried it over in a “straw box,”  actually a wicker basket insulated with an old blanket.  The swaddled soup stayed nicely warm.  One of our friends surprised us with a fantastic coconut dessert, an ice “cream” made of coconut milk, an ambrosia of purest essence of coconut.

We stayed at table for more than two hours.  Our friends enjoyed the soup and we raved over the coconut dessert.  I don’t know if anybody saw Paul Cezanne in the table decorations, but I know that Mike and I savored this get-together with dear friends in “Provençe.”

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Magical Week, Magical Day

June 7th, 2009 No comments
It was a magical week, and now, a magical day.

The week: early on, I visited the building department at county headquarters down the street and found out that the permit for the cottage is NOT in danger of being canceled.  A burden was lifted from my shoulders!  On Tuesday we planted four more trays of seeds for our future vegetable garden in Seattle.  Toward the end of the week we had cooling temperatures and a wonderful rain that soaked the ground, making watering unnecessary in the garden here on Bullion Street.

Yesterday Mike spoke by phone with his parents in England and found them and all the family to be well.

And magical today: we drove out into the country to visit our nonagenarian friend Doi at her ranch.  Just past Doi’s mail box, we glanced off to the right and saw what seems to have been a mountain lion slouching toward a shade tree to drink from Doi’s pond.  (Our first time seeing a wildcat in the wild.)

We found Doi working in her garden beside the octagonal house where she now lives, on a hill overlooking her old ranch house.  She took us on a moderately long walk down to the old house and the original garden there (still beautiful!) and out to a shed where her husband’s imaginative, free-spirited ceramic work is stored. (Bob passed away two years ago at the age of 94).

Later Doi made tea and we chatted a while.  It was a joy to see this dear friend.

As we drove out across the ranch toward home, a coyote loped across the road in front of us.  The mountain lion, possibly lolling somewhere nearby, was hidden from view.

Mtn lion drinking at pond

Mtn lion drinking at pond

False color enlargement

False color enlargement

She was hard to see when not moving

She was hard to see when not moving

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A Perfect Walk

May 27th, 2009 1 comment

Two blocks beyond our house lies a road with the apt name “Old Highway,” a remnant of  an earlier route between Mariposa and Yosemite.  Mike and I took an afternoon walk of two and one-half miles on Monday, part of it along Old Highway, past the Sheriff’s Office and up a hill of moderate height.  We saw a fine gopher snake moving in a seamless flow, on the road and then up a steep bank.  We heard wild turkeys calling, from the brush to the west.  And we saw innumerable lush and healthy stands of poison oak, the plant that is the bane of foresters and miners everywhere.  The walk seemed like the perfect distance.  The heat and the grade made it sufficiently challenging, for me at any rate.  And the natural wonders–  the way the snake seemed to pour itself across the road and up the bank– and the bird sounds, and even the poison oak, gave us much to reflect upon as we made our way.

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A New Week

May 12th, 2009 No comments

The sunshine this morning in our tiny valley bodes hot, and since 9:00 a.m. the front porch has been an oven.  Yesterday was another of those sweet days that sound so sugary in the writing– sunshine, breezes, lunch on the deck.  Mike working at his computer, myself doing domestic things.  I took one of the cars down to Blackberry Cottage to wash with the abundant well water.  Mike did some serious pruning.  We resumed our rigorous testing of homemade Jaffa cakes and tarts.  Late in the night I wrote for a while and read an old paperback about “Camelot.”  –MJH.

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