Spending the Last Afternoon in September with Sam in the Garden

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
We had several errands to run this morning, which meant Juniper didn't get her morning nap. It all paid off this afternoon, however, when she slept for a couple of hours, allowing Sam and I to head outside for some more time in the garden. I couldn't have been more proud when the first thing Sam wanted to do was put on his gardening gloves.



Coreopsis is a longtime favorite perennial of mine in the garden that blooms heavily all summer long.



Sam often likes me to cut branches from one of our Salix shrubs, which he endlessly waves around while I work. He must have tired out at some point, because when Landon took this picture, he was laying on the sidewalk with them.



Butterfly bushes, or Buddleja davidii, are pretty, but are classified as a noxious weed in Oregon and Washington. Well, this noxious weed gets much biannual pruning and staking attention from me. Noxious weed or not, it makes a nice addition to the garden, although I do wish it would grow a little less vigorously. Weeds are a state of mind anyway, aren't they?



I enjoy cleaning up the garden for the fall season as much as I enjoy watching all my perennials spring to life after winter. It's a good feeling to clean up after the growing season, spread compost in time for winter, and wait for another cycle of plant life to begin.



I mentioned how much I love Gaura yesterday. Landon took another picture, so I couldn't resist posting it. It looks great with two large Hebe bushes with lavender blooms that are in the same bed.



Another favorite in my garden, and something I'd like to grow more of, is Penstemon, which is a native, evergreen perennial of North America, and, interestingly enough, its roots were used by Native Americans to treat toothaches. Penstemon is a hardy perennial that has long-lasting blooms, which provide a continuous supply of cut flowers. Like Coreopsis, it is good for naturalizing the garden and gives it a woodsy feel.



I have lots of random pots around the yard and in our basement that I try to place around the garden with various plants and groundcovers. This one was in our basement when we moved to this house, and has a curious shape.



There are the gloved hands belonging to my little three year-old gardener, Sam. I hope to spend many more afternoons in the garden with him as time goes by.

Returning to the Garden

Monday, September 29, 2008


Visiting McMenamin's yesterday has given me a renewed interest in my garden, so I've decided to share one of my favorite species in my garden right now: Gaura lindheimeri. The first time I planted Gaura streetside, it didn't make it through the winter due to a freeze that killed the roots. This time around, the two Gaura plants I've put in one of my streetside beds appear to be thriving. It accents the garden nicely, and I love that it blooms in late summer and early fall, making this past sunny September all the more beautiful around here.

I've also got a nice hot compost pile going, a pile I've been working on for a couple months now. It's a good feeling to spread such fine humus around the garden, knowing how good it is for the plants, soil, and the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I'm glad to be back in the garden after a long hiatus--somehow pregnancy, childbirth, and having a newborn and a three-year old didn't seem to go hand-in-hand with gardening. But, I'm back, and it feels good to have returned to a favorite hobby.

On another note, Samuel wants to be a snail for Halloween this year, and I'm thinking Juniper will make a sweet little fairy. Time to order those costumes. This mama hasn't got the time to sew them up herself. Any ideas on where to purchase or order online?

An Afternoon at Edgefield

Sunday, September 28, 2008
Edgefield hosted "Another Portland Oktoberfest" today, and since it not only featured a plant sale (estate-grown plants), but live music with free admission, it sounded like a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.



We stopped for coffee along the way. I still feel sad when I stop at this Starbucks location, because it used to be my favorite coffee shop of all time--Coffee People. Starbucks just isn't the same in so many ways.



After stopping at our friend and artist Jody's house for the Portland Art Open, we arrived at Edgefield, one of my favorite McMenamin's locations. It has been too long since we've been to Edgefield, and I hope to be back soon. Here Sam and I are, sitting in the herb garden.



From the herb garden, a view of the Edgefield Manor and the red water tower. Edgefield was once the Multnomah County Poor Farm, which " . . . was built in 1911, located east of Portland between the towns of Wood Village and Troutdale. It served as a self-sufficient farm operated by the residents. They raised fruits and vegetables as well as all types of farm animals. There was a dairy, a meat packing plant, a cannery, a laundry, kitchen, and hospital. In 1947, it was turned into a nursing home until it closed in 1982. It sat slowly dilapidating until purchased by the McMenamin brothers in 1990 from Multnomah County. Today the 25 acres and the original buildings have been transformed into a European style village which is well worth a visit" (http://www.temple-baptist.com/history/1943_group_ex.htm).



In the herb garden, overhanging vines provide shade and seclusion.



Another view of the hotel.



The century old water tower.



A room tucked away.



Samuel has lately expressed a genuine interest in gardening and plant names. When we go for walks, he will say, "Mommy, this is what you have in your garden," or ask, "Mommy, what's this one called?" I have been teaching him the Latin names of plants, and he remembers them. Now when we go for walks, he'll say, "Mommy, here's euphorbia!" It warms my heart, and I'm excited to teach him what I know about gardening.



After browsing the plant sale, we listened to Julie McCarl and Friends at the Red Shed while eating lunch.



The music was relaxing, there was a breeze blowing, and the sun was shining. It was a pleasant place to be. I told Landon we should go out and spend the night sometime. We got married at the McMenamin's Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, so I guess the McMenamin's hotels have a special place in my memory.

Sam and I came home and planted a creeping raspberry and sedum we picked up at the plant sale. I love that they were divisions of estate-grown plants. I taught Sam about border plants, and later we planted thirty tulip bulbs. I showed him some bulbs that were already in the ground, and he said the roots growing from the bottom made them look just like octopuses. I had to agree. He later said, "Mommy, the bulbs we planted are first going to become octopuses, then they will become flowers." True, dat.

Blueberry and Apple Picking

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I had a special morning with Sam today at a farm in Canby picking apples and blueberries with a few of our friends from our playgroup. It was such a beautiful morning, and we had a nice time together picking fruit in the morning sun. We later had lunch at New Seasons and stopped by the Obama office for a new yard sign (someone stole ours!), but they were out until Wednesday of next week. Before going home, we stopped at a friend's house who is out of town, to check on her many birds and cats. She had many ripe tomatoes and pears in her garden, so we picked a few and returned home with lots of fruit for the next week. We even treated ourselves to vanilla ice cream topped with blueberry sauce before bed!



And this little girl stayed home with her Daddy, keeping a close eye on Sam's Tinkertoy constructs. I don't think I've been away from her for more than a few hours, and today I was gone for about five hours total. She was super clingy with me for the rest of the day, but I didn't mind too much--I missed her, too!

Go Obama!

Friday, September 26, 2008


I had a few friends over tonight to watch the first Presidential debate. I enjoyed hosting and discussing politics with friends--it was a fun evening. If you are interested in attending a watch party, you can go to either candidate's website, where you will find a link to a list of watch parties in your neighborhood. It's important for people to rally together during this time! There are many environmental, economic, and social issues at stake in this election, not to mention the war in Iraq and the need for renewing American diplomacy and international relations.

This election is an important one. If you aren't registered to vote, you still have a couple weeks to do so at RocktheVote.com. The registration deadline in the state of Oregon is Tuesday, October 14th, and you can register or update your address in person, online, or by mail. If you've had a change of address, this must be updated, because ballots are not forwardable, and in the state of Oregon, voting is done by mail.

Last but not least, be an informed voter. Read about the candidates and their positions on the issues at their websites. Don't believe what you read in e-mail forwards or see on campaign ads. Use primary sources when doing your research on the candidates. To verify anything and everything political during this election season, go to politifact.com.

And because I agree that this was one of Obama's strongest moments in the debate, I've included this video, which was edited for The Huffington Post:

Happy Fall!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I'll be the first to admit--shopping for little girls is so much fun!

"Never Let Me Go"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
My book-club discussed this book for September's meeting, which was this past Monday. Our meeting started at 7PM, we started talking about the book around 7:30PM, and didn't stop talking about the book until after 9:30PM. This book led to quite the discussion!

The premise of the book is tragic and the author examines subject matter which I feel, as horrific as it is to consider, could realistically be in our future. For others in my book-club, it was difficult to imagine or conceive that humans could ever go quite that far. The author's treatment of the characters and the world in which they are forced to exist, having been brainwashed to believe their lives have purpose and meaning, conflates the inhumane with the humane on a level where the reader is able to sympathize and identify with not only the feelings and plight of the protagonists, but the antagonists in the story as well--and that for me was frightening and unsettling.

I couldn't stop thinking about this book many days after I'd finally finished it. When I first picked it up, I assumed it was a love story based on the title, but, like usual, judging a book by its title is seldom ever an accurate assumption. I was captivated by the characters and the imagery of their world, and couldn't put it down until I'd finished reading the story to its end.

To make this story even more impacting, while I was reading the scene in which the meaning of the title became apparent (spoiler: it's the name of a song), I realized that an American song by the same name was playing in the coffee shop in which I was reading. The timing was so perfect it was a little unnerving. It would have been incredible enough to have it play while I happened to be reading the book, but to have it come on as I read the scene where the meaning of the title is revealed made it particularly chilling. That particular scene in the book, which I won't describe here, will now be forever etched in my memory, and even without the song playing in the background, the scene was so efficaciously written that it moved me beyond words.

This book will make you think about limitation, morality, acceptance, justification, loss, forgiveness, purpose, and depravity. Read when you're in the mood to contemplate, but not in the mood to be entertained with warm, fuzzy feelings. I'll keep my copy on my book-shelf, which I save for books that I've enjoyed so much I can't part with them. This was one of those books.

Cleaning Gutters

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I worked on our gutters for awhile this evening, as our gutters overflowed quite a bit during our recent downpour. Even though the leaves have only just begun to fall, our gutters are already full. Usually, we clean them about three times in the fall, with the final cleaning being in December, once the last leaves have fallen from their branches. I need to call and get a professional roof cleaner out here as well. We have two overhanging oak trees, so we now have moss on our roof which needs to be treated. The pitch on our roof is too steep for us to get up there safely. I already get nervous enough around the power lines with our ladder. The last two estimates I got on our roof were several hundred dollars, and that seems a bit high to me. I must shop around--one more thing to add to my growing list of chores to accomplish this week.

Two Kids, Two Colds

Monday, September 22, 2008


Today is the beginning of fall, and with its entrance, both of the kids have come down with new colds. Sam especially doesn't seem to notice, and his activity level remains the same, despite that I'm sure he doesn't feel well. Here's a photo of his friend and neighbor riding bikes together in our neighborhood.



Juniper's cold is a different story. She's restless during naps, which only last 20 to 30 minutes, and restless at night, then she's cranky because she hasn't been able to sleep like she needs to. Poor little one.

A Sunday with our Family

Sunday, September 21, 2008
After you read this post, you might feel as though you spent your Sunday with us. Now wouldn't that have been fun?



It all started around 7AM this morning, when Juni stirred, and within minutes, the house was awake and another day had begun. I hopped into the shower before even drinking down a cup of coffee, and headed out the door to spend a few hours in Lake Oswego at a favorite coffee shop to get caught up on reading for book-club on Monday. While I was away, and while little Miss Juniper slept for over two hours during her morning nap, Sam and Landon pulled out the Sculpey supplies and got to work on creating some new characters for his collection.



After spending some time with Sculpey, and while they baked in the oven, Landon and Sam played a game of Candyland.



Before they knew it, I was home from reading, and we all got into the car and drove to New Seasons for lunch.



We were so tired after eating that we decided we needed to get our blood flowing, so we parked the car in the Goosehollow neighborhood, and set out for a walk. This old Portland home made me think of this neighborhood's history, the tree made me wonder how many children have played in this yard and how many pedestrian's have admired its beauty, and the leaves in the yard made me feel happy about welcoming fall.



Samuel shouted, "Wait, Mommy!" Landon stopped frequently to take pictures, and Sam was rather zealous about keeping our family together on this walk.



This Portland home makes me think of the many places there must be inside to escape to. I like spacious houses with places to escape to. Must be all those years of growing up as the oldest of five children, always sharing a room, even to this day . . .



Old Portland neighborhood, old American car.



Sam and I ran up these steps to see where they led. The steps to nowhere, just like the bridge to nowhere. Just kidding. They led to a small green space, but there wasn't even a bench there to sit on. Since there wasn't a merry-go-round, Sam turned around and headed back down, but not before Landon snapped this photo.



These two houses stand so close that their gutters touch at one point towards the back. I always loved the idea of opening a window and chatting with a neighbor from their own window. Makes me think of old movies. Of course, touching gutters might be a little too close for comfort.



As I mentioned, we walked around in the Goosehollow neighborhood, and here we are, heading back to our car already.



We parked near this building, which has two condos for sale for $999,999.00, if you're interested.



We came home and Juni and Landon laid down for a nap. I turned on a movie for Sam, and dozed off myself for a few minutes. Within forty minutes, Landon came back downstairs with Juniper and was off to play his fiddle at a session in Sellwood. While he was away, the kids played and I caught up on many loads of laundry. While folding laundry, I was impressed with Juniper's skills with this toy. She moved it back and forth with her hands. What a smart little girl.



Doing laundry means packing both kids down to the basement. I strap Juniper in an extra umbrella stroller down there, and Sam hides in this laundry basket, which I picked up many years ago in Seattle at Folk Life. He never tires of the game, where I ask loudly and with a little panic in my voice, "Where's Samuel?" to which he pops up and says, "Here I am!"



Then it's back down for another round. Oh, it's such a fun and interesting game, and one which I always participate in but inwardly wish we didn't have to play quite so many times in a row.



The laundry was done, Landon came home, Sam and Juniper fell asleep, and we watched an episode of "The Wire" before I also fell asleep. Tomorrow night is book-club, I only have sixty more pages to read of Never Let Me Go and I plan to finish reading those tomorrow while Juniper takes her morning nap and Sam is at preschool. It's such a good book with such beautiful imagery. I haven't been able to put it down, which is good, because I waited until the last minute to read it, and technically, if I want to get it read, I can't really put it down.

And so another weekend has come to a close and a new week is about to begin. I can't really end this blog post without mentioning the incredible downpour we experienced here in Portland this afternoon. It was like a mini flash flood, and because our gutters are full of leaves right now, we had quite the river of dirt and barkdust flowing down our banks and onto the sidewalk from overflowing gutters, which I must clean up tomorrow at some point. The laundry might be caught up, but there are still other chores to attend to. I've long since given up on attempting to feel like my work here at home is ever complete.

This blog post doesn't seem to want to end, so because it's time to go pick up Sam from preschool, I must place a period at the end of this sentence, hit publish, and walk away--there will be time for blogging later.

Portland Pirate Festival

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I've heard about the Portland Pirate Festival off and on over the years, so we decided to buy tickets and attend after realizing we didn't have anything planned for this weekend. Since it was so last-minute, all my little boy had to wear was a sole eye patch, which I soon discovered was hardly adequate after seeing the elaborate pirate costumes. I never knew there was a thriving pirate subculture in Portland, but after attending this festival, it became evident that we have pirates in our midst.



Dragon Theater Puppets put on some great puppet shows. Samuel was transfixed on the characters, and sat (well, stood) in the front row. He wanted to make sure he didn't miss anything, and it was difficult to keep him seated.



The music at the festival was good, but there could have been more! This band was called Golden Bough. I enjoyed this band. We were excited to see Captain Bogg and Salty again after seeing them perform at Pickathon, but unfortunately, the sound was much too loud to the point where it was uncomfortable to listen to the band even from a distance.



As I said, the pirate costumes were quite elaborate. During one of the musical performances, one of the band members asked the crowd for a show of hands for those that dress like pirates every day. When I checked out some of the people that raised their hands (it was scary how many people raised their hands to that question), I could tell that those people probably did dress like that every day.



There was a cannon battle show that stopped my heart a couple of times.



There was a strange attraction where you could pay $40.00 for a haircut from a pirate, and there was seating for an audience.



I haven't seen Earl and the Reggae Allstars since my days of hanging out at Biddy McGraw's, but here they were, performing at the Portland Pirate Festival. Looks like they had quite the audience.



Belly dancers on stage with Earl.



Jim Rich, professional blacksmith, who " . . . provided the tools in the blacksmith shop scene from "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl" and forged the knives carried by the pirates, including Jack Sparrow, for all three films." Read more about him on the Portland Pirate Festival website.



Loved these lovely ladies' costumes, although I wasn't quite able to get the picture I was hoping for. Landon and I still haven't quite figured out how to take pictures of strangers without feeling awkward about it.



Some young pirates listening to music at the Crow's Nest Stage.



More costumes. Wish I could have taken more pictures. They were all pretty amazing.



Here is a picture of Jason Ropp, professional puppeteer and owner of Dragon Theater Puppets. Hire him to do a puppet show for your child's next birthday party!



There's my boy, standing up in the front row. He loved those puppets. Maybe we'll attend again next year. Meanwhile, I'll be on the lookout for pirates in our midst.
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