Quiet Moments in the Garden

Monday, April 30, 2018

I love taking five minutes here and there to wander around my newly planted gardens, inspecting and observing new growth.  It will take a year or two before I decide where I want to place garden benches, resting places where the garden is especially beautiful and worth sitting for a minute or two.

One of the things I have from Barbara is an old 1998 bulletin from the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon (I became a member of HPSO this morning).  In this bulletin, Dorothy Rodal writes about the value of sitting in one's garden:

. . . I like to sit in the garden.  I sit in the morning when we eat breakfast.  The toaster goes outside on a long extension cord to wherever we decide to sit.  You can tell where we have been eating lately because there are fewer weeds than other places.  We try to eat lunch in a different place, to spread around the neatness.  And then there are the mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks.  While I am actually working, I am constantly looking around.  I have a small stool that I sit on while I weed and from that stool I get a constantly-changing view of the plants and note combinations that are probably accidental and that I might not notice if my nose were too busy with the grindstone.  Sometimes I stop for a bit and just sit--presumably to rest my back--but actually just to look.

Rodal, D. (1998, April). Benches in the garden, shame on you? Bulletin: The Hardy Plant Society of Oregon, 14(1), 1-87.
I love to find a quiet moment in the garden where time stands still, and the only thing I hear is the sound of the birds and my own breathing.  Around me are the plants I have lovingly tended, some from friends, others acquired on a day trip to a favorite nursery.  Almost every plant in my garden has a story behind it.  I like to take it all in, and what better place to do that than from one's garden bench?

"Signs of Spring"

Sunday, April 29, 2018
Today I went over to Barbara's house to take home a few of her things.  A lover of cats and Spring (interestingly enough, she passed away in the Spring), I chose this reproduction of a batik she purchased many, many years ago at an art gallery I don't think exists anymore in Marysville, WA called "Whatever Art Works".  A reproduction of a batik designed by Toni Spencer, it is now hanging in our home, and I will fondly remember Barbara when I look at it. 

I also took home many of her native gardening books, potted native plants from Bosky Dell Natives from the last time she was there, and a particularly beautiful specimen of a dwarf lilac that lived on her back patio for probably a decade or more.  I also brought home her beloved set of pots, made at least two decades ago by a potter she met along the way, in which she used to bake quiches weekly.  I feel honored to have these things of hers in our home to remember her by. 

And if this wasn't enough, I had always loved the pods by Denise Krueger she displayed in her garden on bamboo stakes, markers for those plants her gardeners were to water.  Many years ago, Barbara was the one who first told me about the Oregon Potters Association Ceramic Showcase at the Oregon Convention Center each spring.  I had just come from Barbara's when I arrived this afternoon at the Showcase, and who did I meet there?  Denise Krueger!  I introduced myself, and as if Barbara was right there with me, Denise felt moved to send me a few for my garden to remember her by.  Denise's sister had gardened for Barbara, so I think it means a lot to her, too, to have her work displayed as a memory of Barbara.  Denise sells her work locally at Artistic Portland, as well as her Etsy shop.  I was delighted to meet her today, as well as several other "new to me" potters this year.  I love attending every year--it's a spring highlight for me!


Saturday, April 28, 2018

The rain
falls upon the earth
and grass and flowers


into form from its

--william carlos williams

Amazon Prime Will Cost You More

Friday, April 27, 2018
It's hard for me to remember life before Amazon Prime.  I might have to try harder to remember, however, as annual prices will be going up.  What do you think, guys: will it still be worth $119.99/year?  

Image Credit: Amazon.com

New App by iNaturalist Makes Plant Identification Easier

Thursday, April 26, 2018
Seek by iNaturalist is a new app that I am loving for local plant identification and logging pictures of native plants!  Clean, simple user experience that tracks observations by location, not just for plants, but for any species in nature, such as animals, insects, and fungi.  I also use Garden Answers to assist me at times with plant identification.  Neither of these apps are perfect, and a lot depends on how well you are able to photograph the specimen.  I like Seek for logging sightings based on location--it's not perfect, but think it'll improve with increased use--check it out! 

What Am I Allergic To?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018
For the past couple of years, I have been intermittently breaking out into rashes on my lower and upper legs, and it is so painful when it happens, which for the past year has been daily.  They come and go.  Sometimes I am at work, other times I'm trying to go to sleep at night in my bed.  The pain is intense, visceral itching and pain with itching.  The rash is raised.  I saw a dermatologist, but was only given a paper bag of cream samples, a suggestion that I start on Gabapentin (um, no!), and asked to follow up in six weeks.

This morning I got out of the shower and had a rash all over my abdomen--I've only had this happen one other time on the airplane to Australia.  Then I looked in the mirror and saw my forehead had broken out into a red rash.  I have been trying to identify the source of these rashes for a long time, but all of a sudden a light bulb went off and I looked at my bottle of shampoo: Garnier.  It's all I've used for several years now.  Over on Her: Women's Health and Wellness, Garnier is listed as a top-selling shampoo to stay away from due to the chemicals in the product known to cause dermatitis.  I'm going to try eliminating it and see what happens.  We already use natural cleaning products like vinegar and have a pesticide-free yard (we took the pledge, Metro!).  Nothing is working, not even a steroid cream.  I really hope I've found the problem.  Is it Garnier?  Is it something in my work environment?  Help! 

Barbara Mendius' Obituary

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
The family of Barbara published a lovely obituary that I would like to share with you this morning.  I will be going over to her house later today to pick up a few plants from her garden, which I will lovingly care for through the years to come.

9-18-49 to 4-03-18 Just as the sun set on April 3, 2018 our bright star sister, Barbara Jane slipped with ease into the amazing COSMOS where her inquiring spirit had so often wandered. Truly free at last. An awesome presence on earth, she met every challenge presented to her. Along the way Barbara fashioned an extraordinary life. She was a passionate environmentalist and a dedicated volunteer programmer for the Oregon Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Land and water conservation, animal welfare, and architectural preservation were all efforts that she fervently supported. As a software engineer at Electro Scientific Industries and as a systems analyst at Kaiser Permanente at the Center for Health Research, she vigorously pursued her commitment to advance science. her academic achievements include: a BS degree and MS in Neurobiology from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Oregon in Eugene. Constellations of friends were drawn to her wide-roaming curiosity, adventurous soul, and indomitable courage. She reciprocated with her deep commitment and caring for others; she fostered significant relationships that spanned her entire lifetime. Her family knew Barbara's generosity was legendary, but she always preferred to remain behind the scenes. With dear childhood friends living nearby, Barbara forged her dream of independence in wheelchair-friendly Portland. She designed a fine home for herself and had it built on the perfect lot. In keeping with her values, all the doors and windows were secondhand (she was quite proud of this achievement.) There followed a garden thoughtfully assembled welcoming birds, butterflies, frogs, and other hopping critters with plants native to Oregon. This garden was awarded with A Silver Star by the Portland Oregon Audubon Society. In her beloved wheelchair, Barbara adored being out in the city and embraced its amazing offerings. You may have seen her accompanied by kindred spirits, riding the bus and Tri-Met in all kinds of weather and at all hours. Barbara was the youngest child of Lee and Ed Mendius of Riverside, Illinois and the sister of Mary Lee Greenfield, Jean Kokes, Larry (Ruth) Mendius. she was a special aunt to Jenni (Tom) Hulsey, Cami Greenfield, Todd (Stacey) Kokes, Matthew Kokes; grand niece and nephews: Luke and Abby Hulsey, Zack and Kyle Kokes.

Published in a Chicago Tribune Media Group Publication on Apr. 22, 2018

Grand Opening of Milieu PDX

Monday, April 23, 2018
A friend of mine told me about her new space at Milieu PDX, a collective of five local artists.  After dropping Adam off at the airport, I stopped by for their grand opening sale to check it out!  What a treat!  I think I have found a NEW FAVORITE shop!  So excited for this business venture!

Amara, Vine & Dandy, Purpose Handmade, Modern Madini, Lucia Handmade, and Chakralot make up Milieu PDX.  Next time you're in Sellwood, do check it out!  I picked up a bar of wonderfully scented anise/lavendar shea butter soap made by local soapmakers of Barnwell Co.  I also purchased a beautiful leather journal, perfect for a cardiac nurse, made by Purpose Handmade Leather Goods.  A new card for Adam, and a geometrically patterned pot to hold my new chocolate lilies from the native plant sale over the weekend completed my selections for the afternoon.  This will be the first of many shopping trips to this lovely place!  I absolutely adore local collectives!

Look for my post tomorrow on my latest gardening projects! 

Autoplay Code

Sunday, April 22, 2018
I learned how to turn off autoplay in my HTML code today!  I find it mildly annoying when autoplay is turned on when you visit a site.  The code is slightly different depending on whether you're linking to Google or Vevo, for example, but the changes to the code are simple.  

I discovered Teleman today over on This Is Glamorous.  I love her Playlist posts!

Teleman have always been intrigued by electronics. The band’s standalone EP ‘Funf’ saw them work with a host of guest producers, adding digital abstraction to their florid psych-pop.

New song ‘Submarine Life’ is online now, and it continues the London four-some’s journey down into abstract digital depths.

It’s a curious concoction, matching their ever-so-English pastoral psych to some delirious electronics, swirling and spiralling into The New.

Read the rest of the article at Clash

Audubon Native Plant Sale 2018

Saturday, April 21, 2018
Amelia and I woke up this morning while Adam got some extra sleep before 30+ hours of travel time and drove up to the Audubon Society for their annual native plant sale!  I had a short list as I had just picked up three flats of native plants at Echo Valley Natives the previous weekend.

Amelia holding Metro's "Native Plants for Willamette Valley Yards" guide at Audubon's Native Plant Sale.
On my list were white fawn lilies (Erythronium oregonum), Henderson's shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii), chocolate lilies (Fritillaria lanceolata), and hairy or pink honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula).  These will fill in nicely around the larger native shrubs we have been planting beneath our evergreen trees in the backyard.

Portland Audubon Native Plant Sale 2018

It was a lovely little sale, though plants were going quickly, so I'm glad I went the first morning.  Everyone was so helpful, and it was a beautiful morning up there.  The forecast says we're in for some beautiful weather this week, so I hope to be in the garden several days--my happy place!

Adam at PDX Airport at Stanford's Restaurant--we always stop in before one of us passes through security before flights.

This good lookin' Australian man caught a flight home to AUS today to visit family and friends.  He's got a long trip ahead of him before he arrives (30+ hours of travel time), but he is heading off on his journey well-rested.  Bon voyage, Adam!  We love you!

Worth Waiting For

Friday, April 20, 2018
I've heard it often said that some things in life are worth waiting for, but when you find yourself in that moment where you realize the wait is over and that thing you have been waiting for has finally arrived, there is nothing that compares.  Today is a special day in my life.  More to come on this!

Last Night Together

Thursday, April 19, 2018
Tonight was our last night together as a family before Adam's flight to Australia Saturday.  I work the next two days, and the kids spend weekends with Dad.  So what better way to celebrate than going out to dinner at one of our all-time favorite restaurants? 

We had a lovely evening out, and, as always, the food was delicious.  Alex and Chom Murrell own Stickers Asian Cafe and I've been dining at their restaurant since the early 2000s.  Love this place!

We love Stickers, and even better, we all got to sit outside tonight.  We've had a beautiful spring so far, with lots of sunshine.  A little slice of sunshine will be leaving Portland Saturday afternoon when Adam departs, but we are so happy that he is able to spend some extended time with family and friends in Australia.

The night at PDX Adam missed his flight back to AUS to stay in Portland and marry me.

On October 22, 2015, I took Adam to PDX for the third time.  I felt heartbroken as I didn't know how I could spend another six months apart.  He was in Portland visiting me for the third time after doing the long distance thing for a little over a year.  One of the happiest moments in my life was when he decided that evening at PDX to miss his flight and stay in Portland to marry me.  He gave up his life in Australia for us, and we love him dearly.

Old Crow Medicine Show: "Volunteer" Now Available for Pre-Order!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Old Crow Medicine Show and was thrilled last year (2017) when they released 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde (Live) as it's also no secret that I'm a big fan of Bob Dylan, and have been for decades.  If you don't have this album already, you must order it, as it's amazing!

And now, Old Crow Medicine Show have announced the release of their new studio album, Volunteer, due out April 20th, 2018 on Columbia Records Nashville.  Rolling Stones has premiered this new album here: Hear Old Crow Medicine Show's Persistent New Song 'Whirlwind'.

Volunteer is now available for pre-order!  I just ordered mine.  So excited, and can't wait for them to announce their Portland, OR show this summer!  It's gonna be so good.

Roxie Nafousi: You Don't Have To Be An Alcoholic To Stop Drinking

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Late last year, I stopped drinking for almost three months, breaking my time on the wagon with my birthday weekend.  Here I am, three-four months later, and I'm ready for a break again.  For the past five years or so, I've annually taken a break from alcohol, and usually nothing but positives come from the experience.  I lose weight, I feel at my best mentally, I am focused, I have more time, I feel happier, and I save a LOT of money.

Today I came across a wonderful blog post "What It's Really Like to Give Up Alcohol at the Age of 27" written by Roxie Nafousi (On Instagram @roxienafousi) written for Byrdie UK that is right in line with how I feel about taking breaks from alcohol.

At the end of last year, I decided I wanted to change my life. I had this feeling that I wasn’t fulfilling my potential and that I wasn’t the best, happiest version of myself. I wanted 2018 to be my year.

I looked back at all the times I’d been my happiest and noticed that one of the main common factors in all those times was that I was living clean, eating well and not drinking alcohol.

I have been increasing the number of motivational wellness Instagrammers and bloggers who inspire me to live a healthier life.  I love wine, cocktails, and a good Pilsner, but I also love a lot of other things in life, and sometimes alcohol gets in the way of me living to my full potential.  When I'm not drinking, I am able to fully engage in self-care and wellness in a consistent, focused way that I am unable to do when I am drinking.

From Roxie's article: 

"You don’t need to be an “alcoholic” to stop drinking. You just have to have a desire to improve your life by removing a toxic substance that you don’t think serves you."

Thank-you, @roxieanfousi for this insightful and honest article!  For the past week, I've tried to stop a few times, but never quite made it for more than two days.  Sometimes, when I stop drinking, my friends ask, "why now?"  Last year, I stopped right before the holidays, a time when drinking typically accelerates for most.  I chose that time because I wanted to see if I could cope with the stress of the holidays and experience them in a deeper, more meaningful way without alcohol.  Now, I'm getting ready to leave on an extended vacation to Australia, so it seems to me that now is not a good time to stop in some ways (hello, VBs!), but it also might be the perfect time.  There are some pretty cool virgin drinks out there, after all.

"A Spool of Blue Thread" in Review

Monday, April 16, 2018
We had a lovely time tonight at Serena's house discussing our April selection, A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler.  A novel focused on the Whitshank family without arguably a protagonist (the family unit may well be the protagonist), it was a pleasant reading experience, but without any real highs or lows.  There wasn't really a central conflict in this novel, so the story line may very well be likened to unraveling a spool of thread.  It was my first novel by Tyler, and I understand she often writes about her characters within the context of family.

Image credit: Bustle
Tyler has a way of capturing a common, relatable experience in one sentence: "The dinner plates were practically touching, with silverware bunched between them, and people kept saying 'I'm sorry; is this your glass or mine?'" (p. 131-132).  I enjoyed Tyler's writing, but as a story, it left me wanting more.  I grew a little tired at points in the book with the weaving of stories from the Whitshank family tree.  I wanted the stories to go deeper, to know more.  The characterizations were top-notch, but it was the story itself that I felt lacked sufficient conflict and depth overall.  I always ask myself, will I remember this story?  Not sure this novel about the Whitshanks was enough to create a lasting impression.

In Constant Warm Sunlight

Sunday, April 15, 2018
Barbara's House on Mount Tabor
I wanted to share a poem that was read Friday night at the gathering of friends and family at Barbara's house by one of her dearest friends, Pam.

You have sailed away
over the horizon
where we can no longer ask
nor hear your answer

All cares and weighty concerns
have been lifted and blown away; 
you travel now
in constant warm sunlight

We gather to speak our memories, 
our good fortune to know you
and I tell of the supreme pleasure felt
every time I brought you to laugh aloud

By Pam for Barbara

Backyard Habitat Native Plant Sale

Saturday, April 14, 2018
What a beautiful morning it was for the Backyard Habitat Native Plant Sale 2018 out at Echo Valley Natives in Oregon City!

Amelia at the entrance of Echo Valley Natives

From the website of Echo Valley Natives:

Echo Valley Natives nursery is located in a quiet little valley on the banks of the Abernethy Creek just outside historic, Oregon City, OR and on the site of the old Abernethy Shingle Mill.  Our close proximity to both woodlands and the Abernethy creek allows us the unique opportunity of having naturally occurring demonstration gardens.  In addition, we have added beds and potted plantings around the nursery in various micro-climates to demonstrate how native plants might be used.  This location offers our customers a more realistic look at how and where native plants grow, their growth habits and size, as well as their relationships to birds, fish, and wildlife.

Sam, Juniper, and Amelia beneath the beautiful arch onsite at Echo Valley Natives.

All three kids tagged along, as well as Adam, and I think everyone had a great time.  The girls helped me select several plants.  I actually think I might have come home with twenty!

Backyard Habitat technicians (including our technician, Antonya) were there to help, as were many volunteers.  Everyone was so friendly and helpful, and I got to meet some other native gardeners as I browsed the amazing selection.  

Juniper shows off a lovely trellis, beneath which grows various native plants.

I'd never been to Echo Valley Natives before, and what a beautiful site it is!  I took away many ideas, such as this shade garden with trellis for native vine.

Nurse or snag logs are so important in the native garden landscape.  This one looks beautiful and natural, and the rotting wood gives the native plants surrounding it a rich humus in which to grow.

Western Trillium
Beneath a fern, I found this lovely Western trillium.  If you remember, I recently planted one in Barbara's Garden.

I can't say enough about this sale--it was so well organized, and the sale itself was amazing--what a deal I got on the twenty or so plants I picked up!  The selection was quite extensive, and all the plants were in good health.  It was so hard to decide!

This is me--Karli--with my first of two wagons full of native plants.

This was the first of two wagon loads we picked up--I selected a couple more evergreen huckleberries for only $8/each.  One of my bare root yellow-flowering currants didn't make it from EMSWCD's native plant sale in February, so I picked up another.  I also got many flowering native perennials to fill in beneath the understory of garden beds that I'm currently working on. 

Backyard Habitat participants picking up native plants at the sale.
I can't recommend the Backyard Habitat program enough--there is always room for possibilities in even an established yard with non-native plants.  It's $35 to join (a one-time fee), which doesn't seem enough for all the program does for someone interested in incorporating natives into their landscape.  I've been blown away by the network of resources I've been connected to by enrolling in the program.  It's incredible to see the work so many are doing to support restoration of our native landscapes.  This particular discounted sale was only open to participants of the Backyard Habitat program, whether certified or in-progress (like me).   I can't say enough about this wonderful program!

Behind Every Thing Is You

Friday, April 13, 2018
Tonight was a lovely gathering of those that were close to Barbara here in Portland.  Many of her caregivers were present, as well as other friends and family.  I was able to take a picture of the picture of Barbara on the beach, when she got to feel the ocean water for the first time on her feet. 

Barbara's on the Beach

As I anticipated, it was sad for me to see Barbara's house without her in it, and I cried a little when I saw her empty wheelchair.  On her bed, where she passed away, sat her beloved cat Miriam, probably unsure where Barbara went.  One of Barbara's caregivers will be adopting her, so she will have a new loving home.  I often wonder if animals "know".  I think they do in their own way. 

Barbara's Wheelchair
I discovered tonight that Barbara had published an article in Sunset Magazine years ago, and wanted to share it here:

Fifty-one years ago the polio virus traveled up my spinal cord and halted my breathing for a while.  At the age of three I lay in an iron lung.

I remember virtually nothing of the time when my body was normal, and I'm sure this has made adapting to wheelchair life much easier.  I was one of those fiercely independent polio survivors: went to public school, college, graduate school; drove convertibles for two decades; lived alone; moved across the country by myself; built a house and grew a garden around it.

I've been mostly happy, and aware of my many blessings.  Still, there is always something that's just out of reach: That lentil soup at the back of the freezer.  The home-canned tomatoes two feet above my head.  The shut-off valves for my water and gas supplies.  (I pray I'll never need to get to them in an emergency.)  The center seat in a theater.  A winding wilderness trail.  The surf at sunset.  

My most unattainable goal has been finding a mate.  There have been lovers, even some I felt were in love with me, but none ever discussed a lifelong commitment.  Was it me, or was it my body?  I still keep an eye out for the right person.

Stargazing is my favorite pastime.  It's best done lying on the ground in my sleeping bag on a moonless night, far from any town.  In a good year, I'll sleep under the stars seven or eight times.  On those nights, I understand that "out of reach" is a state of mind.  The Milky Way spills brightly across my view and appears firmly within my grasp.

Barbara J. Mendius
Portland, Oregon

At the end of the night, I drove home thinking about how much I appreciated seeing Barbara's things one last time, but it was also with great sadness.  I think I know why.  Behind each of those things is the memory of Barbara, who was dear to so many.  And now Barbara is gone, so each time I would see something of hers that she loved and protected, I would feel sadness as I remembered that she is no longer living here on Earth.  Her clothes in the closet, several sleeves of which were still rolled up the way she preferred, her ear cuffs, still hooked around the little glass that lived on her geometrically tiled bathroom counter, and her favorite wine glass, which I selected to use last night from a number of wine glass choices on the countertop.  Her baskets of things within easy reach of her wheelchair, her computer, frozen jars of pesto still in the freezer from friends, and the little hose she used for watering her plants on her back porch, still with the wood tied to the end for better stability when watering.  

I will always be so grateful to have one last night in her house, before things were boxed up and shipped away.  I am even more grateful to have known her.  I hope to be able to take home one of her potted plants in a few weeks--that would be lovely.  Throughout my life, I will keep alive the memories I shared with her, talking about her life and the impact she had on me whenever an opportunity arises.  Behind every thing is you. 

Looking Ahead to Tomorrow

Thursday, April 12, 2018
I switched my work schedule around so I am able to attend a gathering of caregivers at Barbara's house tomorrow.  I'm reading A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler for book club, so am going to hang out at Caldera Public House, a favorite pub of Barbara's just down the road from her house, and read until 4PM, when we are going to meet.  I will try to take as many pictures of her house and garden as I am able, and will post them tomorrow.

Juniper and Amelia posing by a cool gate in Portland, OR, designed by Gary Hirsch of BotJoy #botjoy #botpdx

Meanwhile, we're off to Backyard Habitat's Spring 2018 Native Plant Sale at Echo Valley Natives this morning.  The kids have the day off school, and I'm looking forward to spending the morning with Adam and the kids doing something I love: native plant shopping!

P.S.  Here's a picture of me on the unit today:

I hope everyone is having a lovely Spring.  See you next time . . . x o, Karli

What Is A Nurse Log?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018
What is a nurse log?  It is simply a decomposing log that "nurses" multiple forms of life on the forest floor.   Parhad (2017) states trees can live up to 500 years and can take up to the same amount of time to decompose fully.  When trees fall, they allow a bit more light into the forest, and the dead tree on the forest floor then becomes a host for many forms of life, providing a rich humus on which they thrive.

Nurse logs and snags sustaining life at Bosky Dell Nursery

 Eileen Stark (2014) has this to say about the topic:

" . . . a single, slowly decomposing log in your backyard . . . provides nutrients and homes for countless invertebrates, microbes, and budding plants.  It includes the type of terrain preferred by the species, plus food, water, and cover, as well as special resources needed by some animals, such as snags or rocky rocky outcrops" (p. 37).

Nurse log found near Oak's Bottom Wildlife Refuge in Sellwood, OR

We have several nurse logs in our garden.  In fact, we have a retaining wall made from birch logs.  We have other logs that licorice ferns and red huckleberry are growing on, near, and around.  

Licorice ferns growing from nurse log in Oak's Bottom Wildlife Refuge

Elisa Parhad (2017) writes in her blog post about a greenhouse feature at Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park, where you can see a nurse log in action:

As a child growing up in Seattle, I played on these crumbling giants, used the humus in mud soups and eagerly hunted decomposed tree stumps to find red huckleberries. Since 2007, the city has been home to a unique art installation called Neukom Vivarium, which gives visitors in an insider’s view into the fascinating process of nurse logs. Under a Sleeping Beauty-esque glass enclosure, a 150-year-old Western hemlock lays teeming with life in a special chamber made to mimic the unique environment of the forest. Scientifically-engineered green glass protects the growth from harmful wavelengths that are not filtered out in the city. Moist air and water is pumped in through a visible system of pipes and mechanical devices. Microscopes and magnifying glasses allow guests to examine the process of decomposition and growth. Porcelain tiles lining the bed of soil illustrate the various living elements you might see: evergreen violets, banana slugs, fungi, lung liverwort, western sword fern, folding door spiders and red centipedes, among so many others (Parhead, 2017).

Image Credit: Paul Macapia

Consider adding a nurse log to your garden--it will greatly enhance your backyard habitat, and looks beautiful at the same time.  Resources like Bosky Dell Natives and Eileen Stark's book (cited below) can offer support and ideas in making this happen!

 Works Cited
Parhad, Elisa. “Understanding the Magic of Nurse Logs.” Garden Collage Magazine, 21 June 2017, gardencollage.com/inspire/wild-earth/understanding-magic-nurse-logs/. 
Stark, Eileen M. Real Gardens Grow Natives: Design, Plant & Enjoy a Healthy Northwest Garden. Skipstone, 2014.

The Work of Laura Garcia Serventi

Tuesday, April 10, 2018
After yesterday's beautiful day, we are back to overcast skies and rain today.  I'm catching things up in my office, and found a new Etsy shop that caught my eye right away!

On Bliss' I ♡ Monday, she linked to artandpeople and it's now on my top-five all time favorite art shops on Etsy.  Born and raised in Argentina, Laura Garcia Serventi has a fine arts degree and paints cacti and succulents, as well as other tropical flora.  A few of her paintings are "night gardens" and look beautiful on a black background.  Her choice of color scheme is lovely.  I love botanical art, and always have.  I plan to order prints from Laura for our new house--I think this one would look lovely in our downstairs bathroom in 13x19.  You can follow her on Instagram at art_n_people.

By Laura Garcia Serventi of artandpeople on Etsy

Being Present

Monday, April 09, 2018
I am working on trying to be more present in the moment with my children, my husband, and all other aspects to my life, but some days fly by so quickly and I struggle to find concrete memories when I reflect back on the week.  I work full time as a nurse, so my days off are valuable to me.  I am working to make each day count as much as possible, all while taking time for self-care and rest.

Juniper captured this photo of herself the other day and selected this filter for it--her photo made me think of the importance in being present with each moment, as hard as it is sometimes, and to keep the long perspective, knowing that life is short and the joy is in the journey.

Image Credit: Juniper

Color Combinations: Teal and Citron

Sunday, April 08, 2018
We moved into this 1955 Ranch house in August, and I'm still feeling out color combinations as eventually, we need to repaint the entire interior room by room.  Apartment Therapy's 3 Completely Perfect Color Combinations We Don't See Nearly Enough by Cara Gibbs and the teal and citron combination especially caught my eye.

Image Credit: Katie Ridder
I just love these colors--makes me think of the South and cooler color schemes I noticed when I was in New Orleans.  I wish I knew where Katie Ridder found that white plush chair--I LOVE it!   

Barbara's Garden

Saturday, April 07, 2018
I wanted to post a short video of the garden I made for Barbara yesterday:

It will be several years before this garden begins to mature, but it will be beautiful one day.  Oregon grape, trillium, garry oak, western azalea, and bear grass, as well as other natives from the forest floor that were planted from a mix near the trillium make up this garden.  A handmade sign "Barbara's Garden" is coming from The Wilson Family--check out their Etsy store!  The garry oak has been upgraded to a pot about 20x larger than the one it was previously planted in, and I am holding off on putting it into the ground, as I don't have the right space for it yet.  We have several power lines in our backyard, as well as six mature evergreens, so until we have the right spot for it, I will leave it potted.

May you rest in peace, Barbara--love you dearly.

A Dear Friend Passed Away This Week: Memories of Barbara Mendius

Friday, April 06, 2018
I lost someone close to me this past week, and her death has hit me hard.  You know the expression "you don't know what you have until it's gone"?  I have a deeper understanding of that now.  I had let some time pass since last visiting Barbara, and when I heard the news she had passed away on Tuesday (April 3rd), I lost it.  I cried long into the night, unable to go to work the following day.  When the tears finally stopped, I spent the day creating a special garden for her with plants and rocks I know she would have loved. 

Barbara and I at my graduation from OHSU's School of Nursing

I met Barbara in 2012, while I was a nursing student at Clackamas Community College.  She needed a new caregiver, so we met for coffee, hit it off, and I accepted a part-time job taking care of her a few mornings and evenings a week.  This job lasted almost two years, only stopping when I started working as a nurse in The Dalles.  Barbara had poliomyelitis, contracted when she was just three years old.  She told me her parents thought she might have been exposed from an orange that was being passed around when she was at another family's house one day.  She went through multiple orthopedic surgeries as a child, but never let her disability stop her.  She earned a Masters of Science in Biology from the University of Illinois in October, 1977.  Aside from my husband Adam, she has been one of the most inspirational people I have ever met.

 She had this to say about education and disability, excerpts of which were published in The art of teaching science: Inquiry and innovation in middle school and high school by Hassard (2004):

I acquired my entire formal education while in a wheelchair. Since sixth grade my major academic interest has been science; this culminated with a M.S. of Biology from the University of Illinois in October, 1977. 

In considering my own education, I firmly believe that my laboratory experience was most important in shaping my scientific ability. The first major obstacle for the handicapped student of science is getting the hands-on laboratory experience so important to engender scientific expertise.

I feel lucky indeed as I recall the variety of lab work which I performed in school. I have thought carefully about the factors which contributed to my successful scientific education; it all comes down to people---parents, administrators, teachers---willing to cooperate in my behalf. Realizing the value of scholarship, my parents took an active interest in my education. Active, but not pushy. Beginning in fourth grade I attended the local public school. for class field trips, mom would drive one of the groups to the museum, or to the nature center---for laboratories are not only found in schools. Dad went to all the parent's nights, talked with my teachers, and came home glowing about my progress. Impressed with my parents' interest and my ability, school administrators were wonderfully cooperative. For some of the administrators, I was their first and only handicapped student.

That all changed in high school. There, all of my parents' interest, and all of the administrators' cooperation would have been wasted were it not for enthusiastic science teachers who gave me the freedom to do as much as I could of what everyone else was doing. Sometimes it only meant putting the microscope or analytic balance on a low table. Sometimes it meant rearranging the greenhouse so I could get down the overgrown isles. In one case it meant encouraging this shy student to enter the state science fair and helping me choose an appropriate experiment which I could carry out myself. My teachers were the ones who ultimately placed science within my reach. 

But we worked together, so my stubbornness and perseverance deserve some credit also. Science had piqued my brain; I was determined to learn as much as I could, actually doing as much as I could. I realized that if I wanted to do the acid/base experiments I would have to show that i could carry solutions around in my lap without spilling. If I wanted to fire-polish my own glassware I had to show I could use a Bunsen burner without setting myself aflame. If I needed to move a microscope to a lower table, I had to show that I could do that without smashing it to smithereens. I had to prove myself all along the way, but my teachers accepted my physical abilities and, although I often caught a watchful eye on me, they did not stifle my enthusiastic investigations.

In summary, my major recommendation for science education is to involve the orthopedically disabled student in laboratory experiments. Visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory clues can elucidate scientific principles; ingenuity and perhaps some extra work are all that are required.
She loved Portland International Film Festival, Portland Art Museum, The Joinery (her dining table and sideboard were made by them--absolutely beautiful!), Powell's Books, Backyard Bird Shop, Portland Nursery, Lovejoy Bakers, local restaurants like Caldera Public House and The Observatory, the Audubon Society of Portland, Oregon Community Foundation, and supported local native plant sales.  She also loved Bonnie Rait--I always think of her when I hear her songs.  She was a charitable donor to several non-profits supporting environment and the arts, and when she passed away, she left her house and property to the Nature Conservancy.  I love her for that.

Juniper and Barbara at my graduation from OHSU School of Nursing
She loved my kids, and we'd often go visit her, even after I stopped working for her.  She'd let Juniper pick out her necklace for her to wear for the day from her jewelry hook, and she'd listen while Juniper told her about her day.  She loved children, though never had any of her own.  When she heard Juniper was performing in Classical Ballet Academy's The Children's Nutcracker, she bought a ticket and attended--this production delighted her--she said she couldn't imagine enjoying any other ballet production more than the children's production.  She also attended my graduation at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall from OHSU School of Nursing in 2014.  I loved her for coming that day  I couldn't find her before or after the ceremony, but as I was leaving with my family, I saw her on the sidewalk in her wheelchair, waiting for public transportation, and I made my family stop the car.  I ran up to her and hugged her, thanked her so much for being there, and we snapped the photos above.  She was the sweetest woman ever, and a friend to me.


For Christmas one year, she gave me a copy of Molly Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook, earmarking one of her favorite quiche recipes, Chilean Squash, with movie tickets for our family to a favorite local theater of hers, The Academy.  She taught me a lot about cooking, and had an eclectic collection of pottery in which she baked her delicious quiches and from which she drank her morning stovetop espresso.  She introduced me to the Oregon Potters Association and the Ceramic Showcase at the Oregon Convention Center, as I admired her pottery and always asked about it.  I now attend every year.  If it wasn't for Barbara, I wouldn't have discovered Natalie Warrens' beautiful work.

Every time I look at the night skies, I will imagine her out there in the Universe, free as a bird.  She loved astronomy, and got to see the solar eclipse last summer, something she was anticipating for years.   She lived her life to the fullest.  One of my favorite photos of her was a look of sheer delight on her face--someone had carried her wheelchair down to the beach, and there, her toes got to feel the ocean water for the first time.  Over the years, she had lovers and many close friends.  She was a hippy at heart.  She never married, but had a longtime close friend, Jay, and the two went out most Friday nights for dinner and a movie.  Her house, located on Mount Tabor, was built by her design on a lot she purchased after seeing it for sale one day.  Many renewable materials were used in its construction, and it was built to perfectly accommodate her wheelchair within the house--it had ground level entry so a wheelchair ramp was unnecessary.  She had a worm compost bin, and believed flower petals had special properties for the garden, so all the flowers that wilted inside her house were thrown off her back porch balcony into the garden below.  She lived an independent and empowered life in the way she wanted to.  

One year, she bought me a $50 gift card for Christmas to Portland Nursery, and I bought a Callicarpa Beauty Berry bush just like the one she had in her own garden.  The berries are purple and vibrant during the winter months.  She often had one of her caregivers bring inside small cuttings from her garden to beautify her house during the winter.  She always had vases of fresh flowers sitting around from her garden throughout her house.  A couple of her caregivers gardened with her, and she had a beautiful garden that I admired every time I came over.  She had an extensive knowledge of gardening.  One way Barbara supported local businesses was buying gift cards as gifts for friends and for her caregivers.

Barbara told me she had worked with OHSU in the past (1990s) to help improve language around disability.  One time when I was caring for her, I described her as being "confined to a wheelchair" and she lovingly told me that she liked to say she "uses a wheelchair".  She taught me a lot about respectful disability language and empowerment with disability.  Later that afternoon, I e-mailed her to say that I was sorry again for using the word confined and that I had heard Bonnie Raitt on the radio, and it made me think of her.  She wrote back,

Karli, I love that you thought of me while listening to Bonnie Raitt; she's one of my favorites. And no worries, you said something about language and I simply brought up that word confined, because I do feel it's not a good use of the word. I'm very glad you don't view me as confined - that makes me feel very, very good. I hope you realize that your role in my life is most enabling because of your competence, positive manner and intellect!

 Another time, I e-mailed: 

Taxes done, and they were pretty easy this year.  So grateful to be working for you in more ways than one!  Earning income now has helped me immensely in terms of earned income credits for childcare expenses.  You cannot use those deductions with income from alimony, child support, or scholarships, but the income I earned by working from you set me up nicely this year to maximize all my deductions.  And working for you is more than a job to me anyways, though it has helped a lot over the past year . . . you are one special lady to me!  --Karli

She replied:
This was so sweet of you to write, and made me feel very good. I'm so happy that having earned income helped you with taxes, because your pay seems incomparable to what you're worth. Truly, the nicest thing you can say to me is that I'm not just a job... And you are certainly not just an employee. I hope you realize how much you empower me to live the life I want. That is priceless.

Since Barbara had shared my love of gardening, I wanted to create a space in my garden just for her, "Barbara's Garden".  The Wilson Family is going to make me a cedar sign with "Barbara's Garden" burned into the cedar garden sign.  I planted Oregon grape, trillium, garry oak, western azalea, and bear grass (all purchased from Bosky Dell Natives--thank you for all your help, Lory Duralia!).  I placed a solar garden light from Backyard Bird Shop, a place she introduced me to--I have grown to love it as much as she did!  I also purchased a large lace rock, as well as an Indian feather rock, from Smith Rock, Inc. that look lovely--Barbara loved geology and rocks.  It was sunny all day when I created the space, but when the sun went down at the end of the day, the solar light came on, signifying to me that Barbara lives on . . . somewhere out there.  And now I have a place in my garden to remind me of her, a place to keep her memory alive. 

I will never forget Barbara--I loved her dearly, and love her still.  x o, Karli

The Morning After

Thursday, April 05, 2018
My muscles are sore this morning after working in the yard all day (see my post from yesterday Taking Out the Arborvitaes).  It was a beautiful day, though, and we finished it off with a campfire before going out to dinner at King Curry, one of our favorite local restaurants.  Here's a clip of how serene our backyard was last evening.  Adam and I enjoyed a drink in the corner of the yard, admiring all of our work at the end of the day:

Today is a rainy day, and I've spent most of the day indoors after allowing myself just an hour or so of gardening this morning.  I don't mind gardening in the rain, in fact, I find it quite pleasant.

It's about time we pick up more Montana cobble from Smith Rock, Inc.  At some point, I'll order a whole pallet of them, but for now, I prefer to pick out the ones I like the best.

Blue Wildrye, native to North America.
 Blue wildrye and blue-eyed grass will join the other water-loving natives along our rain garden.  It's hard going from the old arborvitae root systems that are pervasive along the bank of our rain garden, but slowly, I am amending the soil and working them out.

Blue-eyed grass, an iris relative, and Western North American native
 I hope this blue-eyed grass propagates, as I am excited to have these in my garden.  They should do well along our rain garden, as they thrive in moist conditions.  Thank-you for reading!  x o , Karli

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