Friday, September 28, 2007

Harvest Moon in the Garden

In addition to the scent which fills the air, we know that fall is fast approaching as the morning lazily awakens and the sky's color makes it known.

During our early evening walk we realize these blossoms will soon fade as the rain will surely pay us a visit here in the Pacific northwest.
We know it's coming, for the local weather folks have forecast it for weeks, but the blue skies have clearly stated, "not yet".

Now only a memory, two nights ago the Harvest Moon in all its glory, held us captive! I cannot begin to describe the magic, but will only say, 'If you didn't get the chance to see it, the experience was far greater than this photo, although it gives you an idea.'

The butterscotch face of the man in the moon watched over the city as we had one last glimpse.

Hey. Have you ever wondered if it might be a woman in the moon? I think she's laughing.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Trade for a Gazebo

While sitting in the gazebo this morning and having a morning cup of coffee, our discussion centered around making choices. We make them every moment of every day, and over the long haul everything seems to work out for the best, at least in our minds.

Some time ago my husband and I were introduced to timeshares by very dear friends of over thirty years. Joe and Ann asked us to join them for a week at one which they owned, a two bedroom en suite with kitchen-dining-living room that overlooked the golf course. Since we are in the Pacific northwest and they in Florida, we did not get to see them often, so it was a week of great enjoyment, catching up so to speak, and in such beautiful and spacious surroundings.

After we returned home, they sent us an email indicating they had found a week of a timeshare we could purchase on the secondary market and it was a bargain. We bought it, in fact, we purchased two more after that, and over the past 10+ years have taken advantage of escaping the pacific northwest rain for California sunshine, and have always had family and friends come along and share it with us. Wonderful times and memories!

But as rates have continued to increase, special assessments and taxes, we had to reassess whether this was still a good value. When annual fees seemed fairly reasonable per week of ownership, "yes, it is worth having", but as the three year special fees became part of the permanent structure and as we could see the weekly cost per unit nearly doubling, we had to reevaluate.

We have often spoken of building 'a screened room off our kitchen'. Having researched the cost of one versus a gazebo, the latter proved to be more cost effective while serving our purpose. We so enjoy being outdoors, working in the garden and dining there. One of the beauties of the northwest is despite high summer daytime temperatures, the shade offers shelter and enjoyment of the cool breezes. Unbelievably and unfortunately, bees (yellow jackets) flock our way at the slightest scent of food, thus our eating has been restricted to indoors. Fortunately, the resort asked if we were interested in selling our timeshare.

A week in our timeshare or months of outdoor enjoyment in a gazebo overlooking the peaceful valley and mountains? Hmm. Let us think about that for a moment. OK!

We walk from the kitchen door directly into a lovely screened in area. Trade for a gazebo... great deal!

If you happen to be passing by, join us for lunch.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

It's Almost Here

Step outside. A slow deep inhalation while closing ones eyes, tells me it's here. Not only do you smell it, but you can feel... fall is in the air, and a welcoming time of year for me.

August was the usual warm month in the Pacific northwest, and happily we had a few days with some rain, but our standard fare is generally hot and dry. In years past we have gone as long as three months without a drop of rain in the summer, so an occasional bit of moisture is an absolute welcome, and because of this climate, our garden has been transformed over the years from 'oh, let's plant this beautiful specimen' to 'how drought tolerant is this one?' (An interesting factoid from the site of historical local climate data shows that in 1939 the temperature in mid September was a high of 91 and a 53 degree low. Sixty-eight years ago, it was about the same. Hmm.)

Daytime temperatures hit 90 just the other day and 50 for the nightly low, a 40 point differential, which is normal. Thankfully we have had some overcast days this past week, allowing our summer sun-stressed garden to enjoy a bit of a respite. And despite no watering on our part for several weeks, the plants look pretty dang good this evening.

As we walk along the garden paths, the Cupressus sempervirens 'Swane's Golden' puts on its best display with this evenings light.

Remember when I wrote about the dogwood on June 29? Seems it just won't quit. Even as the berries have formed throughout the tree, we still have some blossoms appearing.

The Datura flourishes on a gravel path, and the beauty of this no water required species stops me in my tracks as I explore the remarkable green throat within the beautiful and distinctive trumpet shaped blossom...

and the delicate flowers of Nicotiana sylvestris await at the paths end and point us back into the garden proper once again, where the electric color of the Fuchia presents itself so eloquently in the coolness of the shade.

This evening bids us adieu as we look out over the valley, and we are filled with thoughts of a wonderful day, a pleasurable experience of which we are proud to have been a part, and thankfulness... for we are blessed.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


Persicaria orientale (aka Polygonum orientale) or the more delightful name of Kiss-Me-Over-The-Garden-Gate appears in our garden after having been absent for several years.

I have read that these were grown by Thomas Jefferson in his garden at Monticello. An annual and an old-fashioned heirloom seed, I thought it would be fun to have them as part of the English cottage style section of our garden, so I purchased a packet of seeds years ago.

They grew, self seeded, and then for several years only an occasional one would yield a tiny version. But this year they stand a proud 6 feet tall at the edge of the patio and path, a place where no one ever planted the seed, and we must bend as we go around this fun specimen in nature.

The brightly colored magenta catkins dangle and bounce freely with the breeze, nodding and arching and touching like two young lovers sneaking a kiss over-the-garden-gate.

It brings a smile and a sense of wonderment to consider what brought it to this place. And how could I say it cannot be here?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Outside My Studio Window

While working at my computer, this weekend morning is as most. I scan the headlines, read that which is of interest and then I may bring up a blank Word sheet and begin to type as I do now.

The quiet atop this hillside offers an opportunity for uninterrupted projects and wonderful moments of meditation and silent introspection. Thoughts tend to flow more freely here, and while trying to compose those, I generally glance out one of the windows and rather than think of all these trees and plants which we placed in the ground, one by one over the course of some thirteen years, I am mindful of what is before me while thoughts continue in the direction of the writing.

The breeze gracefully lifts the lower lying branches of the Tri-colored beech, which circulate the space within its reach, then gently lays them back into position. Suddenly the Steller's Jays (the west's cousin to the Blue Jay) glide playfully from tree to tree announcing their station with that cacophonous "bark", and occasionally one will appear at the gutter above my window and give it a peck or two, as if to alert me back to work. Almost as quickly as these arrive, they depart. And there is silence once again.

Lo and behold! From nowhere appears this unexpected visitor, a giant monster eerily scaling, peering, appearing up over the towering 100 foot Douglas Fir trees and is heading towards our house! "Hurry, come quickly", I yelled to my husband, for I was uncertain as what difficulty may lay ahead. Had they gotten off course? Were they in trouble? Grab the camera, remove the screen, open the window and snap!

In a matter of moments my fear was allayed. As I ran to the deck, I realized this was a unique opportunity, a Kodak moment, for I saw the giant monster being gently ushered away from the house and garden ...

and was just in time to turn back around into the early morning light to see another approaching.
How quickly it slid above me. I imagined how perfectly the complementary colors of blue and yellow were mixed on the sky's palette to yield the balloon's green stripe.

All was silent until the whoosssh of the ignited gas sent warmth into the balloon. The air became calmer as we stood and watched the sun caress the morning tree tops and the two visitors hover calmly, balancing the framed sky and allowing its passengers one last glimpse of the valley and coastal range prior to their descent.

What a magnificent way to start a day, and I just happened to be "thinking" outside my studio window. Isn't the unexpected wonderful?