Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sibling Assignment #169: Keep the Obsession Strong!

Brother Bill gave the sibling assignment this week. "We all have our little obsessions.  What are you currently obsessed with?  A book? A movie? An idea? A song? A project? An activity?  Write all about it ." I will post links to the other siblings' assignment upon completion.

Having a new home and yards to landscape creates lots of opportunity for obsessions. Right now inside decorating is a low priority. The walls are decent colors. They have recently been painted. There are new wood floors and carpet so we are content with the inside of the house for now.

The outside is a different story. The yard looks similar to how our yard look next door in the sixties when we were growing up. A few lilacs, the original cement patio and sidewalks, the original long clothesline in front of the lilacs, and mostly grass. JEJ's obsession has been to get the grass green, which he has succeeded in doing. His obsession will continue as he maintains it. 

My obsession is plant choices. I went from over a half acre of gardens to a back yard that is 100x100. ( I do have flower beds in front of the house also). The main obsession is choosing plants for the backyard. I mentioned in a recent post the lessons I learned and plants I have grown to love from 18 years of creating gardens at my former house. You can find that here.
Somebody recently asked me what I was going to plant here.  I couldn't even answer. I am obsessed with revisiting garden plants from the past, studying successful flowers in Mom's gardens next door, remembering plants I loved that never made it in my last garden, and what color schemes I want. We love roses, but don't have good locations for roses here. We may have to narrow our choices to roses. Everett loves the Iceberg Climbing Rose above,  so we may try two of those the ends of the shed. We have one I brought to fill in also.

Right now the burning decision I must make with this obsession is which spring bulbs I want since they need to be planted soon. I love all of them, but don't have the room to plant them. I think tulips may win out. They are showstoppers in the spring. Somewhere I must find room for some lilies also.
The two sunflowers that just emerged on their own before we arrived inspired me to keep sunflowers in that corner at the end of the patio. Whew! One easy decision. We want vines again, but will wait until the fence is built to see how that will work. The Silver Lace Vine will definitely find a place in our back yard, plus we love honeysuckle, trumpet vines, and hops.

I want to try again my list of "plants I have never been able to grow".  This list includes lupines, delphiniums, bee balm, and foxglove. Alas, another obsession. 

Obsessing over all these plants is timely because now is the time to buy perennials at garden stores. They are marked down for quick sale. It is also a good time to get starts from other gardens. Cooler weather makes replanting much more successful. Creating gardens isn't a cheap hobby so this project will be spread out over a period of time. Obsessing over all these plants is also exciting, energizing, and it keeps my head full. Now off to the magazines, catalogs, articles, pictures, and notes I surround myself with. Keep the Obsession Strong. 

Stay tuned for a follow-up of what I decided. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Things We Leave Behind: Farewell Tour of Martin Creek.

I knew the time would come when I would say my last goodbyes to the home I have lived in for nineteen years. My home at Martin Creek was like a  gardening classroom. I learned from trial and error everything I know about working with the soil. I learned what to grow and what to get rid of. What to do, what not to do. I will use that wisdom as we plan our next gardens. A lesson to remember-always throw your fruit pits and seeds in the yard. We raised peach, cherry, plum, and apple trees from seeds.

Someone asked me recently what I would miss the most at Martin Creek. At first I thought the view and then I realized it will be the gazebo. We spent so many wonderful hours talking, dreaming, warming by the fire, and appreciating the beauty around us in that gazebo. I loved what JEJ created.

I hope to once again grow Oakleaf Hydrangeas. They were beautiful blooming shrubs that took on color and provided colorful foliage all through the year. The blooms were always a surprise, and when they dried, you never knew the color the may become.

If you are ever looking for a hardy vine, purchase a silver lace vine. We will certainly get another one at this house. The are green and hardy, and the white flowers add to the display through at least two seasons of the year.

 Autumn Joy Sedum are the hardiest flower you can grow that looks beautiful in September. They require little water and little care. Perfect for the sandy soil I just left. I will miss them, but did bring a few to start again in my new garden.

I will miss the maple trees.  Every season of the year they provide beauty, but autumn is when they really show their stuff.
There is nothing like apple trees to fill in a orchard. I was so tempted to pick the little apples that were on the branches, but decided to leave them for the next owners.

The experiences, the photos, the family memories, and the various images I have stuffed in my head will help me remember this place fondly. It was a learning place in so many ways. I hope to take that learning and use it for our next garden projects and life itself. I'm so glad we had this time together.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Ten Things I Love About Returning To My Hometown

At the early part of July I moved back to my hometown of Kellogg, Idaho. Any of you that have moved know that part isn't fun. It can be a lot of work when the weather is hot and there is lots of heavy furniture and tubs of holiday decor.

The transition from our house in Kettle Falls to the house we are purchasing in Kellogg has been draining also. My life has been consumed with paperwork, flood inspections, insurance research, repairs on the house in Kettle Falls, bank business, and appraisals. I am sure this will all end soon.

I do love living in Kellogg, Idaho and here are just ten reasons:

1. I live next door to my mother. 
It is so nice to check in with Mom over coffee in the morning, over the fence while we are gardening, or even by phone when we are lazy. Meals are sometimes shared and Mom outdoes herself with her signature dishes that I love to eat... like her potato salad today.

2. I live five minutes from my sister and her family.
What a joy to be able to see my sister and her family more. We can enjoy dinner in her beautiful back yard, have a movie night, or just catch up on what is going on. My nieces are gone or will soon be gone again for the school year, but it was a joy to spend time with them also.

3. People in Kellogg are friendly. 
Every place I go, people are so friendly. They go out of their way to help at stores, parking lots, and around the neighborhood. We feel so welcome here.

4. Sunsets.
This may seem a silly reason to some of you, but where I lived before we never had a sunset. The sun disappeared early behind Bangs Mountain and we missed the enjoyment of sunsets. Here they are spectacular and daily.

5. I am three minutes from a grocery store, espresso stand, and hardware store.
 During the last twenty years I have had to drive thirty minutes or more to get anything at a store. Coffee drinks were a big treat. I don't have to fill my trunk with food and paper products to last me for weeks. I can buy when I need things. Wow.... a big change.

6. Good restaurants. 
 If we choose, we can eat at a good restaurant any time of the day and only have to drive five to ten minutes. For many of you that is a given. It hasn't been for us for a long, long time. It is such a luxury now. We are enjoying it.

7. I have lifelong friends here. 
I haven't had time yet to really connect with many friends, but I love that two showed up at my door to welcome me home, many joined me up the river to celebrate our birthdays, and I have reconnected with others at places I have gone in the valley.

8. We don't have to take out a second mortgage to pay for gas.
That is an exaggeration, but I can't believe the difference in our gas bill since we relocated. We don't have to drive fifteen to thirty miles each time we went  to work, to shop, play, or eat. Awesome.

9. I get a real newspaper. 
When they stopped delivering the Spokesman Review to my rural route in Ferry County I was devastated. It is just not the same reading it online. It is a simple pleasure to wake up, make coffee, and have two real newspapers to read in the morning. Just call me Old School.

10. JEJ likes it also.
It was quite a change for my husband to make, leaving an area he had lived for many years, but he was ready for a new adventure. I am so pleased we are on this adventure together and he likes it also. We have many more adventures ahead that I will share.

Besides, where else can I be the descendant of a jackass?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sibling Assignment #168: Seeing the Pacific Ocean With New Eyes

Sister Carol gave the assignment this week. "Write about some of the memories you have when we all gathered at the Oregon Coast and share those memories and stories in your next post." I will link the siblings' posts when completed. 

This was very difficult because every trip to the Oregon Coast held its own set of memories. Even though I wrote about this trip on Sibling Assignment #104 which you can find here, I am going to write again about our 2009 trip to Rockaway Beach, Oregon. We rented a house close to town and the ocean. It housed all of us, but some beds/couches were a bit awkward and uncomfortable, but we survived with laughter.

This is the last trip we took as a family anywhere.   It is hard to manage schedules with busy family members, people moving, and other events that get in the way. I hope we are able to schedule another trip some time that includes everyone. 
The most significant thing for me about this trip was Everett seeing the Oregon coast for the first time. It was like seeing it with new eyes . The northern half of the Oregon coast is the most beautiful to me. Rockaway was a new place to explore. As I said in the first post, what I loved the most about it was the ocean beach. It was crammed with people, it was easy to navigate, and Mom with her new hip could even take a walk on the beach. The dogs loved their first trip to the ocean and if Paul hadn't caught her, I think Annie would have chased a seagull all the way to Seaside. Everett appreciated the beauty of the ocean and the scenic views on our drives.

We stopped along the way at  these scenic points so Everett could grasp new information about the Oregon Coast and I could take lots and lots of pictures. Of course there are always outings. If you can blend a trip to the Tillamook Cheese factory and a winery in the same outing, that is a good thing. It is always fun to take site seeing trips with my family. Everyone finds little treasures or a good bottle of wine or fine cheese to try upon returning to the beach home. Often, sweatshirts or jackets from the place are a perfect remembrance of the trip. 

The other thing I remember about this trip is every was relaxed and had fun. There were no schedules, no things that had to be done, no agenda. Everyone felt comfortable choosing some of their own activities. We divided up the chores and cooking. It was another family gathering that bonded us closer together and created memories that are always brought up when speaking of the trip. We will always remember  Mom's wisecrack crossword clues, board game playing that made us all laugh, spectacular sunsets, sandcastles, photo opts, Bill singing to the iPod, and family. I was pleased Everett got to experience one of these trips with all of us. It was a perfect set of memories. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sibling Assignment #167: Images of Summer

I gave the assignment this week. 
"Pick a series of photos from your collection that symbolizes summer to you. Write a reflection on the summer photo choices." I will share the siblings' links when they are posted.

In our adult lives we three siblings have never lived in the same town, or even within a couple hours of each other. Our early adult time was occupied with building, rebuilding, and ending marriages, raising children and pets, continuing with studies, and a focus on the work of our professions. We each had a house to keep up, gardens to grow, and friends to see.  We worked on trying to see each other during a small window of time when we were free in the summer at the same time. Sometimes it helped if there was a special family event like a wedding. It helped also when we weren't all doing extra jobs in the summer like Shakespeare Camp for Bill, the 6th St. Theater for Carol, or the Writing Project at U. of Idaho for me. In recent years we began to plan more intentially to spend time together. We called our time sibling outings. Sometimes we went somewhere together, sometimes we just had lunch and toured a park to take pictures, other times we all gathered at my house or Carol's. They weren't always in the summer either. The summer ones have good memories though.

 I created a collage of photos that shows the love, laughter, and the happiness we feel and were able to demonstrate in these pictures. Often Mom is part of our shenanigans. What I do know is that whenever we are together I can guarantee it will be a blast. We can laugh at just about anything. We can talk about serious things, and make family decisions and suggestions that impact the care of our mother.  We prepare meals together. Our sharp memories bring up stories that keep the laughter going. We love good food, Inland Empire places of interest, good drinks, and time. We appreciate simple beauty and are awestuck often by the beauty of northern Idaho and eastern Washington.  We aren't too fussy. We stayed in  a rustic cabin with no wifi where the Lochsa and the Selway merge and had fun even when we got a bit lost trying to find falls that were a bit dried up. 

In the picture of my sister in the middle at the top she was taking a series of photos on the ferry crossing Kootenay Lake in BC. It is memorable because she is in her zone not realizing I was trapped in the car on the ferry because I couldn't squeeze out of the small space provided. I still laugh when I see that picture. By the way, she got great photos.

We have phrases and words that make us laugh. In the picture with our mother Carol said one of those childhood words that nobody else would see as funny. We did. I couldn't even hold my head up I was laughing so hard. Not fussy... just three people that have made a point to put family first in planning events at least twice a year. Things have shifted now. I am living in the same town as my sister and mother. Brother Bill plans longer trips to spend here with the family. I am sure the sibling outings will continue.

 I have shared the quote below before. It is a favorite one that speaks to the relationship of siblings. 

 "To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters.
We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes.
We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time." - Clara Ortega