Monday, June 20, 2011

Square Foot Garden Update - First day of summer

It definitely hasn't been the year to begin a garden adventure in the Pacific Northwest so far.  However, with the beginning of summer, we are actually looking at days that get to a normal high and a few days of sunshine in a row. 

Everything is late this year.  As we near the end of June, I still have irises that haven't bloomed.  The ones that are blooming are beautiful though.  My square foot garden that was built in the mini-snow storm of late April, has been struggling along.  I have replanted the beans and squash twice already.  The peas came up well, but then a slug got in and wiped out several, so I replanted them about two weeks ago.  To say gardening is a challenge in the Pacific NW is a masterpiece of understatement.
The peas I originally planted are about 18" tall.
The cabbage look great - but this may be a "Cabbage Year" where all that does well is cabbage.
Fortunately, the spinach is doing well - it is my favorite garden vegetable.
Broccoli, like cabbage, does well in a cool wet year.
Carrots and beans are struggling.
Beets and squash are barely up.

I gave everything a new dose of diatamaceous earth (which has kept out the bugs, but hasn't been totally effective on slugs) and steer manure compost, and am hoping the sunny days of summer will kick everything into high gear.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Carving School

First Step - lay out the sign on a paper the size of the wood.
Our grandchildren, Sara and Jesse, came to visit for a couple of days after school got out.  Since swimming weather hasn't quite gotten to us we decided to work on a project.  Ron and I used to carve signs, but haven't done any for several years.  We still have all the tools and the wood, and Jesse had just shown an interest in carving, so we set up a carving school. 
Second Step - Small bit to outline the art work
3rd step - use larger bit to go around art work
 4th Step - sculpt out extra wood around art
 Finished product!

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Baby's Birthday Party

 Oh Yikes, where have the years gone?  I can remember so clearly the day my now 32-year old daughter was born.  I still count that day as one of the happiest of my life.  Her cousins, Johanna and Brianna, planned a birthday party at Amy and Dan's house in Seattle for Saturday evening.  The weather gods gave us a break from the constant clouds and rain that we have endured for the past two months and we were able to enjoy the evening mostly outside.
 It was fun watching the toddlers find each other and get acquainted.  The bossy little girls told the one little boy exactly what he was allowed to do and where he could go in their game.  The game mostly consisted of digging up the plants Amy and Dan had planted between stepping stones in the back yard and collecting and hoarding all the strategically placed rocks from the flower beds.
It was an evening full of good friends, good family, cute kids, and good food.  Happy Birthday, Amy!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Our Friends on Vashon Island

The sun woke us up again this morning.  Ron got the bike out and we were contemplating which way to ride - clouds were rumored to be rolling in from the south, so we were thinking north or east when the phone rang.  We hadn't seen our friends Dick and Lora for over a year, so we were happy to change our plans, put the bike away, and head out in the car to visit them on Vashon Island when Dick invited us to come out for lunch.
 Dick and Lora have collected an amazing array of antiques -  everything from bureaus to slot machines to all kinds of car paraphernalia.  For the past 25 years they have been building a house on their beautiful Vashon Island property.  Sometimes it seemed like they would never finish the house.  Three years ago, the original roof had reached its life span and had to be replaced before they ever moved into the house. But they never wavered from their attention to detail and never just rushed to complete it.  Finally, last summer, it was complete enough for them to move in.  
The home feels more like a work of art than a house.  A massive fireplace extends from the first floor through to the third floor, opening up to a different masterpiece of brickwork on each level.  The elevator also runs from the first floor to the third.

I have never seen copper gutters and downspouts before.  Stamped concrete covers the driveway under the portico at the entrance.
Oh, the collectibles!
Lots of garages to house all the car collection.  It really is an amazing place.  Of course, a 6,000 sq ft one-bedroom house might not appeal to anyone but a true artist.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Motorcyle Riding in Washington

We have motorcycle buddies in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Washington.  Everyone always asks us where it is better to go riding.  It is kind of a hard question - for scenery, Washington is the best place we have found.  For weather, sometimes we have to wait a long time between rides.  Maybe it is the waiting that makes us appreciate the Washington rides more.  Today was a stellar day for a ride.

 From our home in Granite Falls, we took Jordan Road, that winds along the river between Granite Falls and Arlington. Hills and pastures and Christmas tree farms line the road on the north, with the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River on the south.
 After breakfast at Island Crossing, we continued toward Silvana, taking a detour to follow the ridge up and over to Marine View Drive.
The view of the Olympics and Puget Sound was quite clear from Marine View Drive.

I wish we had the white fence franchise for the ridge!

I fight buttercups all the time in my garden, but they really are pretty when a whole field of them pops into bloom.  
Between Conway and Mount Vernon, every farm has a view of Mt. Baker.  I couldn't decide if I should concentrate on barn pictures or flower pictures.  There are many picturesque barns, but the flowers are absolutely stunning right now, so I ended up with a lot of flower pictures.
Anyone know what this tree is?  It is just gorgeous.  We asked a woman out walking and she said she thought it was dogwood.  I am certain it isn't dogwood.  The blossoms look like fruit blossoms, but it doesn't have the right shape for an apple tree.
Golden chain?  We saw several of these.
Iris are blooming in a wonderful array of colors.
Scotch broom - love it or hate it - it is the Wisteria of the north.  Very pervasive if allowed to spread, but beautiful to behold.
I can't mention spring flowers in Washington without including the state flower, Rhododendron.  Now blooming white, yellow, pink, orange, purple, red, and lots of combinations of colors.
I had to include one last barn - this unique wood silo in the Skagit Valley.