the hyphens that define my life

Falling October 28, 2013

Fall leaves are quickly falling.  The temperatures are dropping, the north winds are blowing and fall is in its glory.  Leaves have changed from shades of green to a spectacular rainbow of magentas, reds, oranges, golds and browns.  The air is crisp with the earthy smells of crushed leaves and wet dirt from recent rain.

Today I realized I had not one picture of fall foliage.  At lunch my husband and I walked a couple mile loop, purposely avoiding the bakery and the tap house, to get away from our desks and to enjoy the splendor of our new hometown in autumnal glory.

Then there’s us, the odd couple.  My husband is a skinny white boy from Southern California.  He has spent plenty of time in cold weather, skiing, hunting and living.  Yet, he shows up for our walk wearing waterproof hiking boots, flannel lined jeans, two shirts covered with a lined windbreaker shell, gloves and a hat.  I’m in regular jeans, tennis shoes, a long sleeve t-shirt, a fleece jacket (no hat, no gloves), and my camera.  I asked where he was going because I only had 25 minutes, he said he was prepared.  Good for you.

To his credit, it was 44 degrees and the cold wind was whipping, stinging your skin.  Ok, that was the first block.  Once you got your blood pumping, the weather was perfect.

I took a bunch of photographs but none do justice to the amazing fall colors.  Plus I’m late, I should have done this last week.  This is the best that I could capture:

Our pathway to the park.



At the park, in full golden opulence.

As we walked, I scuffed my feet through the mounds of leaves on the sidewalk, kicking the biggest mounds into the air.  I pointed out every squirrel we saw to avoid attack.  My husband does not believe my squirrel attack story.  I was there.  He wasn’t.  The squirrels and I know what happened.

Fall is upon us.  Halloween is just days away (still not ready but keep feeding me Brach’s candy corn and mallocreme pumpkins for increased endurance!).  The boys came home from school ready to turn in their hoodies for warmer jackets.  They are anxiously awaiting the first snow fall and leaves falling to the ground and dropping temperatures takes them one step closer to snow.

I will be certain to remind them of their snow dreams when they are raking leaves this weekend.


In the Zone September 7, 2013

Today I went to the Friends of Manito Plant Sale.

manito plant sale 

Manito Park is one of the nation’s most beautiful parks and it happens to be a half mile from my front door.  The Friends of Manito are responsible for the spectacular gardens at the park, so when I saw that they were having a plant sale this weekend, I had to go.

The weather was cool, in the high 60’s, when I set out this morning at 9 AM.  The skies were overcast but rain wasn’t in the forecast until late this afternoon.  I really had no business attending the sale as our timeline for the front and back yard projects doesn’t begin until Spring.  I had to seize the opportunity.

A live band greeted my arrival at the sale, then BAM, sensory overload.  Tables spread out from one end of the parking lot to the next and wrapped back around to the front, filled with every type of plant, grass and flower imaginable.  Conveniently and smartly, the Friends of Manito provided shopping carts to load up the potted plants.  I bypassed the entire section of houseplants because my house is nowhere near ready for plant decor yet.

Bypassing house plants was the only time I exercised self-control.  I bought raspberry, blackberry and blueberry bushes, some with berries ready to ripen.  I have a berry patch planned for my front yard next year, but the time is now.  Our backyard is completely unlanscaped with the exception of 2 tall pines, a mountain ash and an original fountain that needs work.  The fences along the property line are low on the east side and the neighbor is against putting in a higher fence, wanting vines and other flora to green screen between the two properties.  Our westerly neighbors have a tall fence with nice architectural detail. 

To accommodate our east side neighbors, my husband and I planned to plant tall shrubs, again, in the spring.  Since I was at the sale and spring will eventually come, I bought a BUNCH of shrubs.  Several butterfly bushes, a mountain variation of hibiscus’, bee balms, hydrangeas, and a variegated elderberry.  I added a couple of dinnerplate peonies (dinnerplate size flowers!!), coneflowers,  Denver and Marmalade Rudbeckia variations of black-eyed susans.

When I was deciding which elderberry to purchase, an elderly gentleman pointed out that, whatever I do, don’t buy zone 5 plants. “Spokane,” he said “is really a zone 3 or 4 and plants from these zones thrive best.”  “Oh, thanks,” I said, totally confused.

Before I left the house, I consulted Sunset Magazines Western Gardening Book, one of the premier resources for western gardening.  Sunset’s book told me that Spokane is in zone 2, the second coldest climate in the west.  Let me inform you that zone 1 is the top of the rocky mountains, the top of the Sierra Nevada mountains and the top of all local mountains.  Brrr.  This zone, it turns out, is only specific to the Western Gardening Book and the plants it references within. 

To bring some clarity to the situation, and relieve the stress from my brain at the thought of changing out all of the plants I already selected, I consulted with a couple of Friends of Manito working the sale.  The Friends all concurred that Spokane is Zone 5 and all plantings at Manito Park are Zone 5.  Phew.  Living only a few blocks from the park, my zone 5 plant selections were safe. 

Aside from the momentary zone delirium, I was so happy, in my element, looking at plants, touching their leaves, smelling their flowers.  At checkout, I became a card-carrying member of  the Friends of Manito and look forward to participating in upcoming meetings and events.  Washington State University’s Master Gardener program had a table set up and I look forward to engaging with them soon too.

After paying for my plants, I asked the cashier if I could leave my cart behind the checkout table while I pulled my car into the loading zone.  Many people were doing the same and it was no issue that I followed suit.  When I came back with my car, my cart was gone.  I asked the checker if he knew what happened, but he didn’t know and was stunned.  I was on the verge of tears.  Tears!  I was so sad my plants were gone, not that they couldn’t be replaced, just that they were mine for a fleeting bit of time, then gone.  Sadness.

Two women walked up and said, we grabbed the wrong cart.  They had my cart!  My plants were back!  I quickly loaded up my car and brought my treasures home.  The boys unloaded the car and my husband and I plotted and planned our plantings for tomorrow.  The rain fell at 5 PM just as we were done for the day.  The photo of my plants may not look like much but they have huge growth potential, the bushes will grow up to 8 feet tall, and the elderberry can be 13 feet tall.

manito carload

In case you’re wondering, we’re in the zone, and that would be zone 5.  Know your zone!


Your Junk is Someone Else’s Treasure June 23, 2013

We’re still in moving mode.  On Saturday we managed to unload the trailer and unpack all of the boxes.  We had two casualties, a broken vase, a broken dinner plate. We were spent by the end of the day.  None of our boxes have arrived via Amtrak yet so we today we took on the project of going through all the stuff the previous owner left in the basement storage, the attic and garage.  We knew she was leaving things behind, stuff specific to the house and stuff she didn’t feel like dealing with and today we learned why.

I truly believe that someone’s elses junk is another person’s treasure.  I love some of the treasures we found today.  Franciscan ware china, McCoy pottery, vintage tablecloths and a bunch of other awesome stuff.  Our youngest has given up eating meals with a fork, opting instead to eat with the sword serving picks.  He hasn’t stabbed himself in the back of the throat, yet.  On the flip side, a lot of someone else’s treasures were left too, things that didn’t suit our taste, style or need.  We spent out Sunday loading the trailer with trash and debris.  The car was completely filled from passenger seat to trunk with reusable treasures to Goodwill.

On Saturday we did take a break and went to Manito Park.  The park is beautiful and we just rode bikes around and checked out the sights.  One thing we have never seen in ALL of Southern California that we saw yesterday was a group of at least twenty people, dressed in medieval/martial art attire playing some sort of sword fight. The swords and shields were fake but they were whacking each other.  There seemed to be some sort of structure to the game but I couldn’t decipher the play.  Fascinating none the less.  The sword fight added to our son’s eating with swords.  We avoided swords and opted for watching hockey and eating burgers at Waddell’s, which we found thanks to Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, for dinner.

No breaks for the weary today which is why my post is so late.  I have visited my local Trader Joe’s twice this weekend and staked my claim as a regular.  Each visit, the cashier asked what I’ve done this weekend.  My reply was honest, “My family and I just moved from Southern California on Friday” which spurred big welcomes and lengthy conversation about the weather, the great city of Spokane and convincing declarations that we’ll love it here.  Trader Joe’s wins Spokane Ambassador awards for being so welcoming and friendly.  Here’s something interesting to ponder, in Orange County Trader Joe’s will give kids a lollipop if they find the hidden Angels Baseball Rally Monkey.  In Spokane, a stuffed Sasquatch is hidden.  Kids tell the cashier they found the stuffed beast and the cashier yells “Sassy!”, which spurs all of the cashiers to yell out “Sasquatch”!  The Trader Joe’s mostly have the same foodstuffs available, with the only really noticeable difference was the bread section.  No more sprouted sesame bagels, 8 plus 2 bread or buttermilk bread.  As if I need any of it, but I was fascinated by the new bread options.  Hawaiian bagels, sour rye, local baked breads and pastries.  YUM!

Tonight, with the help of Trader Joe’s, we had our first home cooked meal.  A simple, chicken-veggie-pasta creation that was somewhat of a challenge to cook since my breakables have arrived but our unbreakables – like my pans and cooking utensils – have note arrived.  Thanks to the good fortune of some camping pots and cast iron pans left behind, I was able to pull together a meal.  We ate on dinner plates with plastic utensils.  Classy it was not, but the meal, thanks to our hard work and other’s cast-offs, was delicious.

No boxes yet today, but internet is installed tomorrow…progress!