A much belated Wednesday Vignette

I did it again! Forgot what day it is, that is. I guess there is still an hour and thirty five minutes left of Wednesday, so I’m squeaking in under midnight’s deadline…

My husband always complains that he can’t trust me to reliably use a calendar. That may be partially true, but I also think it’s because I’m such a creature of habit. When things change, I get all discombobulated, until new routines take form, and I can enjoy the luxury of being on autopilot again.

Anyway, sorry for the confusion. There have been some changes lately, and I’m still working on finding a new rhythm. I think this shot of a Passiflora tendril can serve to adequately illustrate the lost state of my mind. Round and round we go…


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Wednesday Vignette – 11 random things to be thankful for

We might be dry, but we’re not on fire.

Democratic women with the guts to run.

Fresh clean sheets and cold pillows.

Kind and patient people.

Investigative journalists.


A vivid imagination.

Crunchy apples.



The golden oblique rays of November.


If ever you can’t sleep, try counting your blessings. Most of us find that we have more than we ever imagined. And, they are ours every day. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!




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Wednesday Vignette – fire power


What a week, huh? Soooo much drama… And so much of it centered on the many uses of the element of fire, and the stretchy flexibility of the various uses of the word “fire”. Sometimes, there really CAN be too much of a good thing…

First and foremost, aside from such secular concepts as “fired-up bases”, “fiery rhetoric” and fired State Department officials, my thoughts go to primarily to southern California, and to those who have lost both family, friends and their homes – in other words just about everything – to fire. I’m sending thoughts of profound gratitude for folks like fire fighters who chose to face daunting dangers in order to save lives, and make life safer and better for the rest of us – those of us lacking their courage. Their brave, selfless actions stand in stark contrast to some of our elected legislators, who in sheer, power-hungry desperation are all too happy to cowardly throw the cornerstones of our democracy on a giant bonfire of political vanity, in order to protect their own and their corporate sponsors’ interests. Along with the rest of the world, I’m watching and waiting…


Detail of the felted works of my friend Judy Rush – which I thought looked appropriately fiery for today’s post.

My own personal drama centered on euthanizing our beloved kitty this past Saturday. Tears are flowing, emotions are raw, but there is no doubt that we did the right thing. He is in a better place, and out of pain. The rest of us aren’t quite there yet – we all miss him terribly. At some point, I will probably write him a well deserved tribute (after all, he was my gardening buddy for over 12 years), but right now, I just can’t. In about a week, we will receive his ashes back – yet another use of the power of fire. For now, living without him is so new that I’m still haunted by the ghosts of habitual expectations. I hear the familiar thump of him jumping off his perch where there is none; I make an almost unconscious little sidestep when opening the door, so as not to trip over him as he charges past me; I walk around the place where his bowl used to be; I “hear” him scratching on the door to be let back in; I start asking the kids if he’s inside, before going to bed at night; I “see” him moving around in the garden – even if it turns out, it’s just the wind blowing. Please forgive – the events of this week distorted my sense of time and space to such a degree that I didn’t even realize it was Wednesday. (Thanks to my friend Loree for the gentle reminder!)

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Wednesday Vignette – pets, plants, and politics

Those are a few of my favorite things, and today I got a lot of all three. It’s of course Election Day, so I started my day (as usual) checking the news and political websites to see if anything essential had changed overnight. It hadn’t. I spent a lot of cuddling time with my sick kitty, and found courage enough to call a vet who specializes in home euthanizing. It will happen this weekend, after our youngest family member returns from coaching sixth graders at Outdoor School. I hope we can hold on that long – poor Manneman is not doing well, but hanging in there. It hurts my heart to see the deterioration of my steadfast gardening buddy.

I eventually went outside (without my cat) and started working on sorting out the mess in the side yard. It is my primary dumping ground for homeless plants. Today, many of them found homes, I’m happy to say, even if I didn’t yet get to build that planned table garden for random sun plants. The west side is where I try to cram in anything that needs sun. Thus the table garden – I learned with the fern tables that each table can hold 20-25 plants. I think you know where I’m going with this. Yup – cramscaping! I will likely keep tweaking, but that is my way of gardening – musical chairs with plants until happy. And then, the music starts again…

Side yard project

This is what that crazy mess looks like as of this afternoon.

And then there was the election. I guess I’m mostly happy about it, but still upset about the archaic voter regulations in so many states whose only purpose seems to be voter obstruction and targeting those who might threaten the GOP stronghold on those states. Will that EVER be dealt with? You’d think THAT would be something for State Supreme Courts everywhere to examine closer… Anyway, it’s more or less over, and it wasn’t a complete disaster, even if there were several instances that were disappointing. But, overall, I think the number of seats they won were amazing considering every gerrymandered map in every red state, was drawn to Democrats’ disadvantage back in 2010. I hope this was the crack in the wall… And I love that there were so many women that won – that’s huge! Stephen Colbert made me laugh when he so aptly quipped: “It means the Democrats have captured half of one of the three branches of government”. In other words, it could be worse. A lot worse.

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Wednesday Vignette – pain

After a week of news containing so much excruciating sorrow and raw pain it feels almost disrespectful to bring this up, but as of 4:30 today, this is what has been on my mind. Thinking that our beloved Manneman had a toothache, we took him to the vet today. He’s lost some weight over the past year, but then again, he’s an aging cat (probably about 15 if he truly was 2 when we adopted him) and might be forgiven for not having the appetite of his youth. Turns out, our furry ball of love has bone cancer. We’re aghast – the prognosis is not good. Which kind of bone cancer is impossible to know without a biopsy, but here I’m starting to balk. Do I really want to know? The outcome won’t change, so do we really want to put him through all that?


What we’d like to know is how much pain he is in, but of course neither he, nor the vet can really tell us. While silently scoffing at myself for asking, I asked the stupid question if she could tell us how long he’d have left. Stupid, because who can give a definite answer to something like that? She kindly humored me, and estimated 6-8 weeks.

My mother, whose father was a vet, and who spent many years working as a nurse, wisely says that we often treat our pets better than our humans, in that we allow them to die when they need to, preserving at least some shred of their dignity. I hope their humane approach has rubbed off on us. We will keep Manneman as comfortable as we can, for as long as we can. But, I also hope we will find the strength to not selfishly string him along when his suffering becomes too great. But when that is… well, who knows.

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Wednesday Vignette – yellow

Outside, on my window, I hear rain drops. I wonder if that means we’re done for this year… weather-wise, I mean. We’ve had a phenomenal October so far, and are almost at the end of it. Crisp, deep blue skies for the explosion of colorfully turning foliage to silhouette spectacularly against, and the kind of exhilarating air clarity we haven’t felt or smelled for months. And, so many living things have turned some kind of yellow. Or brown. (Which, I guess, technically IS yellow, only at the lower end of the value scale.)

Our mornings have been wrapped in deep, dense fog – the kind of fog that makes you feel like you’re living in a dream world, where softness abounds and contours fade. Only the sound of gravel crunching underneath your feet, is distinct enough to snap your sleepy morning mind back into reality. The fog makes discerning shapes difficult, but they emerge stronger as you move closer. The colors too, brighten. But still, as yellows go, they are subtle and sweet, as the fading Asparagus foliage you see here.


The harsh, all-consuming glare of high summer has faded, and some garden fare, like Rudbeckia angustifolia command center stage. It was even more foggy when I snapped the photo below, but you wouldn’t know it… It could have stayed foggy all day long for all I care – this intense, earthbound sunshine burned through the murkiness faster than the actual sun did. Why some folks don’t like yellow in their gardens,  I never quite understood. These Helianthemums, positioned against the purple berries of a Callicarpa and flanked by that bright green, dramatic Cardoon, put some bounce in my step. Sadly, my own garden is far too shady for these mid-autumn marvels. Today’s shots are from the gardens at Joy Creek, where, as you can imagine, I enjoy them tremendously. What makes you happy this time of year?



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Wednesday Vignette – planes, trains, and automobiles

My best beloved and I took an impromptu trip outside of the city this past weekend. Got in the car on Sunday morning, and said “Where to?” We ended up heading east – out to the Gorge. It was one of those leisurely excursions where you take the time to explore – follow little roads just to see where they lead. The magnificent Columbia River Gorge is an eyeful at almost any time, but especially so on a crisp autumn day, when the sky is so blue it almost hurts, and leaves all around are turning all kinds of colors. I lazily turned the camera every which way, during our exploration.

As anyone who has experienced it can attest – the scale of the enormous Gorge has the capability to make you feel appropriately dwarfed. It looks big, it feels big, and it IS big. But everywhere we looked, there were little humans just like us, crawling about in their own vessels of choice. Barreling through high up above, floating on the water, trudging on along the tracks, and in shiny metal cans called cars. Our collective bustle seemed so at odds with the ancient serene enormity of the landscape itself. It was an interesting contrast to observe.



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