big plant daddy

Hello my poppets – I hope you will forgive my recent neglect.  I’m told Mercury is retrograde, for you astrology buffs, which apparently causes everything to go to hell in a hand basket, and it has been the god’s honest truth around here.  Supposed to clear out in 10 days or so – keep your fingers crossed!

Looking forward to this weekend, because it is the king daddy weekend of plant sales!  The Lovely Miss Z and I have tickets to the fancy pants preview sale for the Master Gardener program – they get you drunk so you buy more plants, which is pretty brilliant!

Then Saturday morning the family and I will be heading for Kubota Gardens’ annual sale, where I’m told you can get some excellent bamboo, Japanese maples and other cool Asian plants.  According to Ciscoe Morris, local garden guru, the selection will be even better this year since the Parks department donated plants from one of its closed parks.

I doubt we’ll make it to the Tilth sale, since Miss Z and I hit the early one in March and I have NO room for more edibles, unless I take over some of the beds, which may happen.

The weather looks promising for both yard work and cocktails.  I am also seriously considering finally replacing the camera so I can get some photos of the new baby plants!  And I WILL get those plants labels done, I swear.

And now, apropos of nothing (and because I can’t take new photos yet), here is a photo of Jack, the day we brought him home.

girl child

12 years ago today, at 8:20 in the morning after 8 hours of labor, out came the girl child.  She had a ton of hair the nurses coiffed tall and high so they could show her off.  Named after a sassy 60’s star and her grandmother, she has been the bane and joy of my existence ever since.

We brought her home from the hospital, set her on the floor in her car seat next to the bewildered cat, and wondered what to do next.  She turned out to be a cranky little thing for the first few months, and just as we were starting to think we’d made a big mistake, she smiled (and it wasn’t a gassy smile).  Game over.   So we kept her.

Kept her even when she had meltdowns in the middle of stores, necessitating the swift abandonment of any items and prompt removal from the premises.  Kept her even when she would pee on the floor 20 seconds after saying she didn’t have to go.  Kept her even after she cut a big, fat chunk out of her baby brother’s hair and locked him in the bedroom. Alone.   Requiring the assistance of a locksmith to the tune of $100.

Keeping her meant I could tickle the beejesus out of her and hear that chortle that makes my skin tingle.  Meant I could see that hair turn the color of the palest gold and turn grown ladies jealous.  Meant I gritted my teeth and said nothing when she was creating her latest concoction of food and science, which would be rediscovered in the freezer months later.  Meant I could hear her teachers say what a pleasure she was to have in class, despite the talking.  Meant I could watch her discover a joy of writing and making things I would never think of.

This is a new era we’re about to begin – the teenage era.  So far we’ve had our share of hormonal episodes and we’ve still got some years to go.  But there’s also been some blossoming into the person she will become – the one who hears her own music and is rocking her own style, the one who writes stories about her classmates and teachers that circulate the school, whose science teacher says she is full of creativity and originality (despite the talking).  The one who is kind and full of big ideas.  The one whose shine and magic grows ever brighter.

Being her mom can be a challenge for sure, but I’m the lucky one to have ended up with her.  Especially if she makes a ton of money as a writer and gets that mansion with a room for me like she promised.  Happy birthday, baby girl.


Until I get a new camera (hopefully soon!), photos are hard to come by, so instead I offer you this lovely recipe, dear readers.  From Gourmet, March 1997, and The Sundried Tomato Café and Catering Company in Whittier, California.  Prepare yourselves on Sunday for dispatches from ANOTHER PLANT SALE, and the first meeting of the North Seattle Garden Alliance!

Chocolate Espresso Cookies (like little pockets of heaven)

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons finely ground dark-roast coffee beans, such as Italian-roast
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease 2 large heavy baking sheets.

In a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup chocolate chips, and butter, stirring until smooth, and remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs, sugar, and ground coffee on high speed until very thick and pale and mixture forms a ribbon when beaters are lifted, about 3 minutes, and beat in chocolate mixture. Into mixture sift in flour, baking powder, and salt and stir until just combined. Stir in remaining chocolate chips and walnuts.

Drop batter by heaping tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto baking sheets and bake in batched in middle of oven 8 to 10 minutes, or until puffed and cracked on top. Cool cookies in baking sheets 1 minute and transfer to racks to cool completely.

Makes about 30 cookies.


strong features

I was told (or accused, depending on how you look at it) while in college that I am “brutally honest”.  I can’t even remember the reason for it or who said it.  It went along with the “intimidating bitch” description.  I always found that a bit mystifying and slightly amusing, for it was usually put forth by someone who didn’t know me very well.  I’m a pushover! A giant teddy bear!

Unless.  Unless you happen to be an unkind person, or especially stupid, or two-faced.  For those types, I have no patience, and probably do deserve those other descriptions.    If calling it like I see it is “brutally honest”, then yes, guilty on all counts.   If you think I am an “intimidating bitch”, you either don’t know me very well, or you are an unkind person, especially stupid or two-faced.  Half-joking.

I’ve also been described as having  “strong features”, and not just physically.  This scares some people.  Apparently they don’t like it when you don’t put up with their bullshit.  This can be a problem in situations like elementary school, where parental politics reign supreme.  At first, you try to fit in and give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but really, not everyone deserves that.  Maybe that’s brutally honest – doesn’t make it any less true.

Lately the “strong features” have been getting a work out.  Crazy landlords with no grasp on reality had to be given a large dose – still waiting to see if they realize the error of their ways.  Children and friends need to be protected- I’ve got their back.  Some might consider this a personality flaw.  Maybe so.  But I’d rather know that what I’m saying and doing is the truth, even if it’s not always soft and pretty.


Back to spring in Seattle today, shocking my poor lettuces AGAIN, since they woke up cold and crispy on Saturday morning.   We bought some little lovelies at the Arboretum Early Bloomer sale Saturday, and spent a good chunk of the day weeding (mostly the Geek) and planting here and there.  Still some things left to plant, and at this point in the spring, it can be hard to tell what’s a weed and what might actually be a plant making its return.  Especially when we’re removed and rearranged and added so much in the three years since we bought this place.  Here it is while we were still doing interior work, hadn’t even had the windows replaced yet…

The only thing still standing in this shot is the Japanese maple.  And I am STILL pulling those god foresaken  bluebells out.  I hate them with a white hot heat.

The windows go in!  Added the flower box and some sweet peas under the railing, and decided one day that those shrubberies were getting on my last nerve and had to COME OUT RIGHT NOW.  Damn near killed me trying to get it all out.

Below, we brought the lychnis (the pinks) with us from the Green Lake place, and left the azalea on the far corner.  The rest is gone.  And those freaking yellow flowers whose name I don’t know are still popping up everywhere!

This the same space from two years ago.  The area under the window by the railing was planted with Irish moss, brass buttons and blue star creeper, so we could have a place to sit out front (see me and Miss Z before the tilth sale!)

Then last spring/summer I pulled out that climbing rose and the heathers.  Put in the star of the show, “Ukigumo” maple. Added some echinaccea, hollyhock, poppies, grasses, daisies, nine bark, sunflowers…

Dusty miller, crocosmia…some of which I might have pulled today if I hadn’t had these pictures to remind me of what was where last year!  That liatris was almost a  goner today!  This space is only a sliver of the yard – we’ve also made some pretty big changes to the front border and under the rhodie “tree”, and on the south side of the house.  The north side and the backyard, well, let’s just say those are ongoing.  And going. And going.  At least I have a good spot in the front yard.  Just need one of those standing hammocks now…and a mojito…

and then

So as it turns out, the whole “offering it up” thing doesn’t always turn out so hot.  Sometimes, you’re faced with the kind of challenge that ages you ten years in five minutes, makes you want to throw up and feel like you’re having a heart attack all at the same time.  And then what?  It would be awfully nice just to crawl back into bed and come out when it’s over.  Or wait for a real grown-up to handle it.  Neither are viable options, of course.

So you swallow the fear and panic and try to find a way out.  You try to control the shaking of the hands and pounding of the head.  You put one foot in front of the other, over and over, until a tiny bit of progress is made.  The deep breaths get a little bit shallower, the eyes a little less glazed, til you can see what must be done. You do that, and begin the hoping with everything you’ve got that it’s enough.  You remind yourself that in the grand scheme of things, it’s not the worst possible situation. And keep on hoping.

fresh booty

Yesterday on my doorstep was a box of treasures, fresh from Annie’s Annuals in California.

It’s been awhile since I ordered plants through the mail, so I was a little scared of what condition they would be in.  Luckily, they were in pretty decent shape.  Several broken leaves, and only one that may need replacing.

Since my camera is on its last legs and won’t be replaced til payday, I thought I’d post the photos from Annie’s site. Of course this isn’t what they look like YET, but hopefully someday soon!

Fragaria vesca ‘Golden Alexandria’


Agrostemma githago ‘Ocean Pearls’


Papaver ‘Pink Heirloom’ “Pink Heirloom Poppy”


Claytonia sibirica “Candyflower”


Delphinium elatum ‘Double Innocence’


Hesperis matronalis ‘White’ “White Sweet Rocket”


easter feaster

The last few Easters we’ve done up right, despite the fact that I don’t really consider it a holiday.  I do, however, like me some ham and any excuse to have a party.  When I was introduced to Ramos Gin Fizzes, well, all bets were off.  Even boys like these!  Sadly we have opted out of Easter Feaster this year – don’t feel like cleaning the house and parties are expensive!

Instead, my poppets, I offer you this recipe for leftover hammy bits.  Not sure where I got it originally.  Tasty, and you can alter it to your heart’s content.  Mushrooms, broccoli, etc., even chicken instead of ham.  For spring I think asparagus and ham would be extra delish.

Baked Rigatoni with Ham, Tomatoes and Feta

12 ounces rigatoni
1 1/2 cups diced ham (about 8 ounces)
4 large plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup (packed) grated mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Place in prepared baking dish. Mix in ham, tomatoes, feta cheese, mozzarella cheese and thyme. Pour cream over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to blend. Cover with foil.

Bake pasta 15 minutes. Uncover and stir to coat pasta evenly with melted cheeses. Cover again. Bake until heated through, about 30 minutes longer.