23 August 2011

Building a garden and a family

It's debatable whether this summer has been a growing season at all here in the Pacific Northwest.  I have little to show for the summer, garden-wise.  So far, I've picked three zucchini and four padron peppers.  Oh, and there were several half-pints of raspberries.  But when I stop and think about it, those aren't the only things this garden has been yielding this season.

The veggie garden in progress.  The clump of raspberries (on the left) got transplanted to the bed against the fence.
Putting in the garden was a full-family affair that began with my father-in-law single-handedly digging up the sod under the entire garden footprint.  Next, Byron built the garden beds out of untreated 2x4s (yes, we'll have to replace them sooner, but no leaching chemicals in the meantime . . .)  and we set them in place.  Our paths are roughly three-feet wide, give or take.  Byron hauled dozens of wheelbarrows full of dirt around the house to fill the beds, Herman leveled the dirt, and I amended it with a good dose of lime, plus a mixture of cottonseed meal, kelp meal, bone meal, and more lime.  I got the beds planted by the end of June.  Wyatt came along for the ride.

Me and my garden gnome.

We all like the result.  The orderly boxes, straight rows, and leafy plants have made us all feel like we've accomplished something -- together.

The tomatoes had a foliage extravaganza, which, luckily, has turned into a fruit-setting extravaganza.  Although all are indeterminate varieties, no fruit has ripen yet.  And, I'm suspecting that one roma tomato plant has the dreaded tomato blight . . . yellowing leaves.  Argh.  The good news is that I've managed to ward off leaf curl and blossom end rot this year (must be all the lime).

A happy padron pepper plant.
Nasturtiums and garlic chives.

We have onions and peppers that seem to be slowly growing, but growing nonetheless.  The zucchini, cucumbers, and summer squash plants have suffered a bad case of powdery mildew, but with all the rain and dew I'm not surprised.  We have three kinds of string beans growing.  Oddly some of the leaves look quite yellow and others are dark green.  Not sure if it's the sign of a deficiency of some kind or just the variety of bean.  All are blooming and setting beans.

The hubbard squash, which I've never grown before, is growing gangbusters and in three directions.  We chose to grow a hubbard since it's one of Herman's favorite varieties. He assured me that it is superior to all other winter squashes when baked.  We also put in some corn at the suggestion of Byron's dad, who has always grown it in his gardens in British Columbia.  We put in seven corn plants and they tassled and are now filling out with 11 ears.  I'm hoping they will develop into more than those tiny ears you put on your salad . . .  In any case, we might get a family dinner of corn and tomatoes and squash out of all our efforts.  I'm looking forward to it.

The herbs are doing well, and I've managed to successfully grow basil for the first year in a while.  (In previous years it would get all woody and die on me).

Beyond that, we have an entire bed of raspberries -- all of which we transplanted mid-season under the supervision of Byron's dad who was the grower of legendary raspberries when he lived in Smithers, B.C.  We harvested a couple pickings, but generally the plants have been focused on not dying rather than fruit-making.  Hopefully with some pruning and a wet winter, the patch will be wonderful next season.

I must say, too, that the cedar wood chips on the paths look great.  With their fresh smell, soft feel underfoot, and clean look, they they might just be my favorite feature in the garden this year.

The view of the veggie garden from the deck above.
We still have some unplanted dirt in one of the side beds, so next week I'm putting in a fall crop of kale.  I'll teach Herman what to do with it (he still cooks for himself).  Turns out that he hasn't ever eaten it once in his 87 years . . . or so he claims.  Once the beans and squash are finished I'll put in favas to overwinter.

Despite the mediocre performance of our plants this season, we've had solid growth in the way we all work together, share ideas, and enjoy the fruits of our labors.  Turns out garden building is really family building too.  Our beds are built and ready so we can start gardening early next year.  By next summer Wyatt will be eating veggies in a form other than a puree, which could impact what we decide to grow.  And Herman might have some more ideas about what to grow too.  I'm certain potatoes will be high on his list . . . . 

17 August 2011

The rub

I find myself pulled in too many directions.  Mothering this sweet little boy of mine is my first job, but there are many other jobs around here that need doing, too.  I won't list them for you, but aside from the basics of laundry, dishes, meals, cleaning, and bills, there's the two gardens, the father-in-law, a front yard to landscape . . . you get the picture. 

Nomatter all the things to start or finish, I find myself drawn into the moment when I'm with Wyatt.  It's his rub that stops me -- and by that I mean Wyatt's habit of rubbing everything.

He rubs my side when he nurses.  And wakes me in the night to eat by rubbing his feet on my side. When I rock him, he rubs his hand up and down my arm.  I catch him tickling his own face with strands of my hair.  Then there are the times he reaches out and not-so-gently rubs my face with his fingers when we play together on the floor.  When he wants to be goofy while nursing, he rubs his hand against my mouth and then I kiss and nibble on his fingers, which always makes him giggle.  These days Wyatt explores all surfaces, people, and objects he can reach by rubbing and scratching them.  Oh, and then there's his expert ability to rub his feet together so to rid them of all socks (annoying but clever).

I am grateful to this round, smiley little boy for the way he is teaching me to pay attention, to feel what it is to love, and to be in the moment.  Before him, I was always thinking ahead, using the moment to plan for tomorrow or making long to do lists so I wouldn't forget anything.

Now I work away at the things that need doing, but I stop, often, to be with him.  Sometimes we play.  Other times we nap.  We nurse and laugh and sing.  Sometimes I just want to hold him.  And most days we even get a few chores accomplished:  he hangs out in the garden with me and when it comes to folding laundry, he's a big fan of the socks.

I get less done than I used to yet I know my time is more wisely spent.  Today his face changed.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring.  It's all going so fast . . .

16 August 2011

Friends in the Olympics

This weekend we met up with our friends Sam, Debbie, Layla, and Rachel, on the Olympic Peninsula for a beautiful hike at Hurricane Ridge and camping at Lake Crescent.  We had a gorgeous day in Olympic National Park -- above the clouds that have lurked over Seattle for most of the summer.  Plus, we got to hang out with graduate-school friends we rarely see (they live in San Diego) and talk about books and food and travel and all kinds of interesting things. 

It was Wyatt's first hike and camp out and he seemed to really enjoy it.  Of course, he is happier outdoors than in, and by all indications he really liked riding in the backpack for the hike.  Byron got his workout lugging our 20-plus-pound baby a mile and a half up about 1,000 feet to the top of Hurricane Hill at 5,757 feet elevation.  I just had to haul myself, which was work enough.  But it was all worth it because from the top we could see Vancouver Island, the Olympic Range, and Mt. Baker and the Cascades.  Byron took the panoramic photo, above, of the Olympics.  All of us but Wyatt came home with lots of mosquito bites.  Go figure.

We joined our friends at their Lake Crescent camp site for the night and enjoyed an evening of good food and conversation.  I even got to make s'mores over the campfire. Wy, Byron and I all slept pretty well, and we stayed warm and dry, making it an unqualified success in my book.
Sam, Debbie, Rachel, and Layla

Wy riding in the backpack under his blanket for shade

Alpine lupine and snow-in-the-summer blooming on Hurricane Hill

Wy, staying warm in his smart wool socks, etc.

Tent with a view of the lake
Hanging in the tent
New buddies: Rachel and Wyatt

09 August 2011

42 is the answer

I had a birthday back in July.  Some years my birthday seems harder to get through than others.  This one wasn't one of those.  I'm 42.  And as we all know, 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. (See Douglas Adams,  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.)  It's also just been a good year for me.  This year I'm happy to be who I am.  I'm comfortable in my skin.  I love the roles I play in the lives of my family, friends, and community.  And I really like not working outside our home -- a surprise, I must admit.  Happiness seems to make all the difference.

I had a lovely birthday with flowers, friends with babies, a few thoughtful gifts, and pizza at a local spot for dinner with my sister and her beau. Low key and just right.

We managed to keep the celebration going with dinner and homemade cookies a few days later as well, courtesy of Darcy, Ryan, and Arlo.  I'm trying to get the recipe.  If I do, I'll share.

08 August 2011

The wedding of the summer

Our friends Dawn and Jeremy were married in late July surrounded by their family and close friends at picturesque Triplebrook Farm on Vashon Island.  We were privileged to join the festivities and share in their happiness.  And they couldn't have ordered a better day from the weather gods.  It was a beautiful celebration.  We wish them a long and happy walk through life together.  Congratulations you two!

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