Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Hermit Crab

A few months back, while exploring on the beach with one of my nephews, I was teaching him to leave the whole shells that could become hermit crab homes.  He caught on really quick and only collected the broken shells to give to his Grammy.  Every time he found a whole shell he would carry it to the waters edge to leave it for hermit crabs to find.  I was pleased with the success of that lesson.

Today, the Hermit Crab taught me a lesson.  I was on the beach at Discovery Park leading a Tot Walk.  I had seven toddlers, their adults and even a couple infants along for adventure.  We had already seen a lot of hermit crabs, some big, some small, some who liked to hide and others who wanted to make a dash for it as fast as they could.  In one of the little pools I picked up a small broken Dogwinkle shell, to move it out of the way.  When surprise of surprises, there inside the little cup of the broken shell, a space not even a quarter inch in diameter was the tiniest hermit crab I'd ever seen.  In a broken shell.  Well, darn.  Time to change that lesson, maybe.  Tiny hermit crabs need homes too, I guess.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Maurie, Maurie...How Does Your Garden Grow?

It's been a while since I mentioned our Lincoln P-patch plot.  I wrote about it back in February.  We didn't start work on it until this last weekend.  And what work there was to do!  It had gotten pretty weedy since the above picture was taken in February, but it will give you an idea as to how much change really happened over the weekend.

I wanted a design that would be really comfortable to work in, one where I could plop my ample tush down in a path and comfortably work in the beds.  Wide paths aren't that common in p-patch plots because we only get a little bit of land (ours is 10X11 or so) and people want to use all that space for plants.  I have a war with myself over this every time I design a new p-patch.  But I know the way I garden.  I like to be comfortable, not cramped and that can make a huge difference in how much time I end up wanting to spend at the garden.  So with Mark's encouragement we designed a garden plot with ample path space and a layout to be able to let some of my artsy nature have room to play.

We also had a serious slope to deal with and it was essential to build up the garden space, level it out and makes sure that we did a design that would not allow our soil and seeds to wash away down the hill.  We ended up putting 12 inch tall boards in on the west and north sides to help with that issue and then went with raised beds with in that, to help even more.

There are four triangular beds one for each of the four directions, something I like because of the tie to some Native American beliefs and lore.  Each direction is also connected to one of the elements, earth, air, fire and water.  I can have fun with that by incorporating colors and little artistic touches to represent each.  This was done in more formal herbal gardens in times past and really the garden plot does have an herb garden look to it, though very few herbs will be grown in it - I am trying to find spots at home to put my herbs where they will be more handy.  On the East side we put a bamboo trellis up to discourage the dogs that run down the path above the garden from running straight into a garden bed.  When we saw that we would have some taller bamboo support poles on either side we thought it would be fun to put a string of colorful prayer flags between them.  Mark picked out the larger sized flags from the garden center and we ended up stringing them along three sides of the garden.  East, South and West.  It makes the garden really colorful and pleasant, and yes, unique!  Here are some pictures of the process:

After those pictures were taken we got to planting some starts.  Golden beets edge the perimeter of the south bed (in the above picture that's the one to the right).  Red scallions edge the west bed.  Broccoli fills the center of the north bed and the edges have two different lettuce starts along them.  The east bed has Russian Banana Fingerling potatoes and a few left over scallions.  I have some shelling pea starts that will go along the trellis.  The rest will be left for some summer crops to be put in after the May Tilth Plant Sale.  I have two spots where I plan on putting flowers either in planters or by creating more raised bed spots at the ends of the paths on the NW and SW corners.  We still have to figure out what we are going to do for the paths.

We have an 8X4 raised bed in our backyard where it gets at least half a days sunshine or a bit more and we will have more food plants in there.  I have pictures of that process but I'll save that for another time and another post.  It's sunny outside and I think I may just head over to the garden and get those peas in while the weather is cooperating!

Happy Spring and Gardening to everyone!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Catching Up

I saw the above on one of my favorite blogs that always perks me up.  I felt like it about said it - except the cute shoes part.  Cute's great, but Comfy is what's really important!

I had a few moments today to take a look at some of the blogs I love reading and realized that I wasn't the only one missing in action in the blog world or the only one thinking about blogging and wondering where to go from here.  That was a real comfort.  I'm hard on myself when I can't or don't get to everything.  So I'm hard on myself most of the time.  Now, I'm thinking maybe it wasn't just me and something universal was going on and several people were being effected in similar ways.  I feel better now.

I'm so behind on sharing what has been going on that it can be really overwhelming to even start to try and figure out where to begin.  I realized yesterday I hadn't been very communicative all around, not just on the blogs.  Guess I was in some introverted stage for a bit.  But I know that there are at least two people out there that would like to know what I've been up to.  So here ya go, Aunt Billy and Uncle Jim - your my best fans.

Weekend before last Mark was busy drying the dishes when my antique glass citrus juicer slipped from his hands and crashed into a million pieces on the kitchen floor.  So when a sunny day came the following week I walked on up the hill and did a little shopping.  The first order of business was to find another antique glass citrus juicer.  This went with our efforts to not bring new plastic into our house and to buy used whenever possible.  Not to mention it was a damn good excuse to go browse an antique store.  The ladies were super helpful at the antique store and I soon had three citrus juicers to chose from.  I went the smallest which was the mid-range in price and the cutest.  It has this little extra feature that really sold me on it - a primary ring with little slits that let the juice out but hold the seeds back.  It was also extra pointy and sharp so I was hoping it would be easier to use than my last one.  It is!  With out further ado - meet the new citrus juicer:

While I was up on the hill I stopped in at a consignment shop and was pleasantly surprised by what they had in there.  So often consignment shops are either focused towards teeny-boppers or old ladies.  I'm somewhere in between and I discovered that the shop was too.  There were several things to try on and I found a couple wonderful spring items.  Including this fun bright green dress.

And this beautiful cardigan.  Check out the detail!

And those are what I wore for our date on Sunday.

Mark surprised me with homemade whole wheat sticky buns for breakfast.  They were sticky gooey wonderful!

Then we caught the bus to downtown and went to the Seattle Art Museum to see the Calder exhibit which was fantastic.  This had to have been the best special exhibit in a while and the entry was the most spectacular I had ever seen with a huge Calder mobile sculpture turning in  the air.  I was so inspired by his creativity and use of random objects  and metal and color.  I walked away with lots of crazy art ideas in my head and I look forward to bringing them to life over time.  If you aren't aware of Calder and his art you can check it out here.

After we left the museum we walked through a fairly quiet Pike Place Market where most everything was closed due to the holiday but Mark did manage to get me a single daffodil, which was really sweet.  Then we stopped at a small coffee shop that is also a local roaster and had a some excellent cups o' bean juice.  

It was time to catch the bus and head back to our little Alki neighborhood with a quick stop for pictures at the beach.

The cats were happy to have us home and sitting still for a little while.

We finished the evening with a light and delicious Japanese meal of Miso soup with tofu, shitake and green onion, brown rice, cucumbers and onions with rice vinegar and a surprise attempt at little cucumber and avocado sushi rolls by Mark.  Great day.  Great Guy.  Lucky Me!

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