Our Victorian Farmhouse Home

We have moved, away, as of Dec 2013.  Now it is nostalgia, memories, a decade of memories.  Trying to capture some of it on this page.   I like our new, modern condo duplex, and we have some options of living in city we did not have living rural.  I do look back in affection at the years we spent in our Victorian style Farmhouse, built 1892, with add-on additions over the years.

Our ol' house in a small village off the beaten path. Built 1892 originally in saltbox style and modified by the different owners over the years. Photo taken by daughter, a bit of a photography buff, she worked it in sepia tones. Posted by Hello

One of my favorite photos, taken by Arthur of the beach on the bay where we live. Photo taken at dusk, Bay Center, WA Posted by Hello

Blue Heron Country

Our famous Blue Heron out on the bay. They do stand for hours and hours like that till they catch what it is they are looking to catch. Watching them take off in flight is awesome, they are such big birds. I visited our Willapabay.org and learned that we have164 known bird species out here in our Willapa Estuary on the Willapa Bay. Our home is located in Bay Center on the Willapa Bay where the Pallix river fords into the Bay on one side and the other side is the Willapa Bay that separates our finger of land from Long Beach peninsula. If the Long Beach peninsula, which is a long, thin finger of land not there, Willapa Bay would meet up with the Pacific Ocean. Posted by Hello
by Lietta Ruger

To Buy the Old House or Not

Identifying plus elements and problem issues when considering buying this house. We began our house-hunting in Aug 2002.


-- quiet neighborhood, quiet community, not even one store in the whole village!
-- attractive tiled tin roof (pacific nw rains = cost saver for roofing woes!)
-- upgrades give house old and new decor mix without compromising historical context
-- repetitious bay windows give light and let the outdoors inside
-- structurally sound, initial cost outlay for structurally improvements minimal
-- built on additions in kitchen and master bedroom provide spacious rooms for those areas
-- upstairs rooms haven't been upgraded much, historical feel to the rooms, throwback to early 1900's
-- yard is manageable with some mature focus specimen plantings
-- architecture of house w/ additions gives it unique look
-- wiring updated and up to code
-- plumbing is satisfactory
-- basement = spooky but Arthur finds it fascinating
-- price is right for our budget


-- berber carpet on main floor rooms is beyond salvaging, so badly stained, unlikely can get cleaned = deal w/ flooring.
-- renovations seem structurally sound, little attention to finishing details however, gives it gerry-rigged appearance
-- renovations done in 1970's give seriously dated and tired look = stairs, upstairs flooring like glue down carpeting - 70's restaraunt era; brown shag on stairs -yuck!
-- heating; primary heat is a newly installed wood-burning furnace under the house w/ chimney that screams at me'unsafe'. secondary heating; registers installed in each room, inadequate in some rooms to heat the space.
-- decking on which addition has been builtwill need immediate attention, peeling rubber cement exposes wood to Pacific NW rains.
-- front of house; not welcome, functional, or practical entry. Needs a porch and front door re-do
-- back porch - enclosed and rusticly 'finished' also unwelcome and serves as main entrance to the house due to the impractical front entrance planning.
-- unclear once carpets pulled up, what lies beneath = prepare for cost outlay
-- kitchen could use an update, was updated to 1970's cosmetics, but is more than adequate for years until we have cost outlay $$

Generally speaking, there are about even number of drawbacks as there are positives that make this house worth considering. Biggest drawback is that house would benefit from renovations and improvements w/ cost outlay - not likely in our budget.

Thus, after carefully considering if I could live in the house 'as is' for perhaps years until we could get to renovations/improvements, I honestly wasn't sure and thought we should continue to keep looking.  My dear husband is more of a handyman than he is into renovations or improvements, so unlikely we could knowledgeably take on too many diy projects. My husband became instantly enchanted with the house, and while I was also 'enchanted' by what I could see in my mind as what the house might look like 'someday', I was concerned about what it looks like present day and our capability w/ diy improvements. The diy upgrades and improvements made to the house look like diy .. sometimes gone wrong or unfinished.

We discussed, and discussed, while I fed my fears and Arthur tried to reassure my every concern. We decided to buy the house, inspections came back approved for wiring, plumbing, septic, structure and whatever else gets inspected in mortgage arrangements. Nov 2002 is when we moved into the house. If we had the resources to take care of some of the improvement projects before moving in, might have been a better way to go, but that is why it is an adventure and now in 2006, we both love living in this house!

entry by Lietta Ruger - the woman of the house!

Buying the old house Nov 2002..

We bought the Old house, November 2002. Built in 1886 as a Saltbox style home, in a fishing village on peninsula in the center of Willapa Bay, the village was named Bay Center.

The home was originally built and owned by Miller family; their daughter married Harry Bochau, who was a barge builder. Harry began reconstruction projects on the house to add an upstairs cupola that did not previously exist. He added two sets of bay windows to the main floor living and dining areas. His wife, pleased with the changes called the house her 'chateau' and it became known in the community as the Bochau Chateau. We are assured by the old timers who still are alive here and know the history back to the Bochau family, that the wood and beams used in the construction of the house are without flaw, without knot holes, and would be an enviable commodity should the house be torn down. We wanted to give the house a name, and came up with Ruger's Bay Tower House in Bay Center.

The Bochau family lived their entire lives in the house, and it passed down to their son, who unfortunately was not able to retain possession of the house. The house was originally built on the style of post and board without foundation or basement, without inside bathroom, and without inside water. Purchased by a local enterpreneur, who dug out a basement and built a brick foundation, using brick from the high school torn down in neighboring town. It seems he had enough brick to also build a brick fence around front, and sides of the house.

There came two more owners afterwards and during that period of history, the lower level of the cupola was added, the kitchen expanded, an additional add on to create a bathroom on the main floor and a bathroom upstairs, running water, electrical rewiring up to code, a deck was added and later a room was built, bumping out from the main house structure onto what was the deck area. The back porch was surrounded by rough-in structure to shield from the pacific winds and serves as an enclosed porch now. Additional bay windows came along with the various construction add-on's, so that the house now has 13 different bay window areas on three levels.

By the time we came along and bought the house in Nov 2002, the house could be described as unusual - unique - interesting, or some might politely say 'it's different'. The house was among featured drawings by Earl Thollander in book 'Backroads of Washington'.

We have some ideas of our own to add to this quaint house and look forward to the years ahead living in this great old house in this quiet little fishing village of Bay Center, on Willapa Bay, of the Pacific ocean, with gentle seasonal coastal breezes along with the fierce winter wind and rainstorms. We live in an area where tsunami signs are posted road signs....let's hope no tsunamis in the near future for us.

Link to our website Ruger's Bay Tower House in Bay Center

entry by Lietta Ruger - the woman of the house

(photo of our home is among the featured illustrations in 'Back Roads of Washington', 1992, drawn by illustrator, Earl Thollander)

Saga of our 90 year old Chilean Monkey Puzzle Tree ( Araucaria araucana ) comes to a close. The tree was planted in the front yard of our house, we are given to understand, some 90 years before we ever arrived on the scene. When we bought the house, the tree looked ragged along the lower branches, and the previous home owner told us it was not unusual for this species of tree to look like that when they reached these mature ages. He told us the story of how the species of tree came to be planted in Bay Center, Washington as it is not native to the area, although the climate is conducive to nurturing this species.

When our house was built in 1892, by a barge builder, the house was given to the daughter and her husband - the Bochaus. In those early 1900's there was ship travel on our Willapa Bay and the Willapa River. The ships might harbor in Bay Center and spend a day or night as guests of local residents. Mrs. Bochau would entertain the ship captains in her home and one of the ship captains (Capt. Cook, I believe) gifted her one of the seedlings of the Chilean Monkey Puzzle Tree he had as cargo on his ship.

The tree grew successfully through their lifetime, and on into the life spans of the next two owners of the house. By the time we came along to to buy the house in November 2002, the tree was well into it's maturity. However, these are prehistoric trees and have an incredible lifespan, living well past 100 years. The tree was not beyond it's years, but it did succumb to some infection and it began dying from within.

The first year, we enjoyed the giant tree with it's giant limbs and it swayed gently in the heavy windstorms. It was well rooted and not likely to fall over even with the highest winds. The first spring, I learned how prickly are the 'leaves' if you can call them that on the branches, as I did the yard spring cleaning. As the lower limbs lost their green, I asked a neighbor to cut off the lower limbs in hopes we could save the tree. It seemed to me the logical, compassion, caring and nurturing thing to do to try to save the tree. I neglected to consult my husband on my decision and that was one of the few times I have seen him livid. He was 'not ready' for the mangling of that great gracious tree, no matter that it had dying lower limbs.

Over the years the tree continued to die from within, turning browner and browner with each passing year until there was nothing left of green on the tree limbs even at the pinnacle of it's height. But it continued to stand, testament to the community of it's long history in Bay Center. I pointed out to my husband that there was nothing green left on the tree and it had indeed passed into that place where trees are no longer among the living. He would not be convinced easily. He had been following for a few years the attempt of a new branch shoot trying to grow and what was left at the tip top of the tree that was still green. He would not agree to the reality that the tree was no longer healthy or even living.

When the limbs became dry enough to begin to break off, I grew concerned that one could fall on someone passing beneath and insisted the tree come down. Our neighbor, who has some experience with bringing down trees agreed to take it down. He was able to get all the limbs cut off and the top of the tree when there was an accident kickback with the chainsaw. The kickback went across the top of his hand, and we are all blessed that it grazed his hand with no damage to the nerves or connecting tissue. My husband rushed him to hospital where they attended to his hand, but it did cost him some work on the fishing boats during his time of recovery. He has said he would come finish taking the tree all the way down, but a few years have passed and he has not taken it down. I can completely understand his reluctance! Nor did I really want him to take on the challenge as the county power lines create a tripod quite close to the top of the tree.

I explored having the tree made into a totem pole, asking the person who made the totem pole for our neighbor down the street if he could make one from the remains of the tree. He said the wood is too soft and if he made a totem, the features would split with the wood, ie, the eyes or nose might split causing a caricature image -- not very totem like. So for a couple of years the trunk of the tree has been standing, withstanding our powerful Storm 2007 winds of 140 - 160 mph.

Another neighbor thought perhaps to use the wood from the tree to make unusual wooden crafts as it is a desired wood for such projects. We agreed if he could take it down, he could use the wood. He came, he saw the power line obstacles and changed his mind about taking it down. He suggested that the county might be willing to take it down.

Last week as I was leaving the community heading to town, I saw the county people doing some roadside tree cutting and stopped to inquire if they could take down my trunk of a tree. He said he couldn't do it today as they had full schedule but would come back, to which I said no hurry, the tree will continue to stand. Surprised to find a work crew from the county in front of my house today, he kept his word and did come back to take down our tree.

It was fascinating to watch as with their power equipment and trucks they were able to stabilize the tree while someone else using chainsaw cut through the lower trunk. The truck with the stabilizing equipment held the tree steady, lifted it and gently swung it to the side of our road, laying it down gently.

She lies there in less than all her glory now, having been stripped of her limbs and foliage, a tall trunk of a tree that used to be and is no more. Good bye dear Monkey Puzzle Tree, we did not get to enjoy your heyday and were there at the time of your demise, but we truly respect your tremendous history.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

End Time for Our Monkey Puzzle Tree - dying, no dead and time to take it down

Ahhh, I found someone else who's mature Monkey Puzzle Tree died - like our 90 + yr old tree has died. Big hat tip to blog That and This for providing an account of demise of the tree, decision to take it down (fell it), along with great accompanying photos and links.

Last spring/summer season I knew our Monkey Puzzle Tree was dead beyond dead. Sweetie was unwilling to let go and acknowledge the tree was a goner - no more - the one almost green instead of brown branch just wasn't enough life to save the tree. This spring/summer he acknowledges it is dead and we need to bring it down.

I honestly do not know the habit of this tree in it's natural setting when it finally does die and have been trying to find out. Does it fall, does it remain standing and if so how long before it falls of it's own accord. The neighbors seem to think because it is so old, so rooted that it is unlikely to ever fall. I think if it did fall it would take out the entire street corner, and then which way would it fall - on our house - which neighbor's house??

We are talking now about having it felled and leaving enough stump to have a totem carved out of what is left. We are being told that we should think about selling the wood as it is highly valued in some places. We are told the wood is too difficult to carve and the totem pole idea does not have merit. One way or the other though, I think the tree needs to come down.

Which is why the blog account at That and this was such a good find for me... thanks!

photo 2000 of the real estate listing for the house, shows the Monkey Puzzle Tree as it was. We bought the house in Nov 2002, and the lower limbs were already straggly and looking sickly. Our neighbor was willing to cut the lower limbs in early spring 2003 (a decision I made that I didn't consult with Sweetie about first and he was very, very unhappy about it). Because the tree was planted on what over the next 90 years would become a paved intersection in our small fishing village, the largess of the tree caused a blind spot for traffic making turns at that corner. Losing the lower limbs opened up visibility at the intersection. But, and it may or may not be related, the tree seemed to quickly lose what vitality it had and began the process of dying.

2005 spring/summer season photo of our dying (dead) 90 + year old Monkey Puzzle Tree (The Araucaria Family: Araucariaceae)

Winter 2006 photo of what is now clearly a dead monkey puzzle tree - all that is left is trunk and limbs and that green at the very tippy top - the last breath of hope of life for the tree - by spring it was brown.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Quarter Sawn and Petrified wood for floors in this house!

Part 1 of this story and phase; 

Our neighbor, who grew up in this fishing village of Bay Center, stops by from time to time when we are working outside and shares some stories with us about the old days in this community. We know then, that he was a child growing up when the second PO of this house lived here and their son was growing up. So our neighbor knows the son who inherited this old place. Son wasn't able to keep it and it was sold out from under him (sounds more like almost 'stolen'). Son lived his entire life with his parents, and then his mother when the parents divorced late in life. Son was what would be called in this day and age perhaps somewhat developmentally challenged.

We invited neighbor in to take a look at the house and tell us what he remembers about it back in the day - in it's more original condition. Neighbor, btw, is rather shy, and it has taken a few years to build up a neighborly over the fence relationship with him, so we are happy to learn the bits and pieces he is willing to shareof the old history of this community. Remembering that he himself was a child when he visited PO son, and he tells us they were infrequent visits inside this house, he does remember some things about the layout. Neighbor has an interesting adult life history, and is a commercial oyster farmer, knows about boats, the Bay and the River and knows that PO was a barge/boat builder so knows a bit about construction back in that day.

All this is lead up to explain how we learned about the wood floors in our house. Well at least the stairs and upstairs flooring. Since I tore out the horrid decades old 70s era brown shag carpet that covered the stairs and upstairs hall flooring, we are left with some major clean up and I still haven't come up with a decision for how to go; try to restore via sand and stain; paint and forget it or some other variances on either of those plans. After giving our neighbor a tour, I have renewed respect for the wood flooring.

He explains that it is 'quarter sawn' wood. What's that we ask. Wellllll, he says.... and explains that back in those days they cut the hardwood trees, sank them in the mud to let them cure (harden - petrify) and then took them to be sawed for use in building homes, boats, floors, etc.. This process of 'quarter sawn', he explains was considered wasteful since a quarter sawn strip of lumber has no knotholes and is cut in a particular way with the grain of the wood. The process then leaves behind waste pieces of wood. After the wood is given it's mud bath, it has become so hardened that it broke too many saws and in time sawmills refused to cut this kind of wood.

Wow! So guess this wood ain't going anywhere and will probably last another lifetime. Neighbor showed us how to look down the wood planks and notice the grain and no knotholes of any kind the entire length. We did and we noticed what he was pointing out, which we wouldn't have noticed or appreciated if he hadn't shared (with almost a reverence) the nature of the quarter sawn wood process.

He also explained how the nails had to be driven in a most certain way on an angle so as not to split the wood down it's length. Well, guess if they could get nails hammered in, the wood can't be too petrified, or perhaps so petrified, it splits? I don't know, just trying to understand based on neighbor's explanation. He said, btw, that to this day he knows where some of those trees are still sunk in mud, but he's not telling where. Guess he'll go to his grave knowing where they are and not telling.

Part 2 of this story and phase;

Recently, we were invited to give a presentation at a conference in the Eastern part of our state, so we made the 7 hour drive and met up with a colleague who had rented a B&B place to stay for couple of nights. Okay - sounds sweet, eh? The Eastern part of our state is primarily agriculture so it is miles and miles of scenery that can be plateaus of the Columbia Basin, rolling hills of the Palouse, the fruit orchards of the Yakima area, and flat scrub brush in areas located in the neighborhood of Hanford Nuclear Plant. Thus, there are a lot of generational family farmers (and I'd guess a fair amount of new 'corporate' farms).

As it turns out, we got a bit lost trying to locate the B & B. Not lost as in lost in the city, but lost on an old country lane that went from pavement to gravel to no outlet, with only a few fairly run down and delapidated houses along the way. I was feeling fairly insecure that if one of these houses wasto be the B & B, I was going to have a shaky night and we might need to look for a hotel in town. Sweetie made a call to the owners, got directions and then got us on the right road to the B & B. It was still a country road, that went from pavement to gravel, and there were few and far between old farmhouses. But we found 'our' farmhouse, rented out at B & B by the owners, who were Professors at the University and also 'worked' the land, so it was called a working farmhouse B & B. The owners, btw, don't live at the farmhouse, and have a place in town, or maybe they stay in town when the house is rented out, I'm not sure how that works.
But, here is what does work. It is an old farmhouse - and I like what the owners have done with it, partly restored, partly rehabbed and the decor is pretty much strictly antiques and collectibles so it retains a feel of a farmhouse in the late 1800s, early 1900s. Except for the kitchen which retains it's 1970s upgrade....too bad, but it was a big kitchen and with a few restorations or reworking it, could quickly lose it's 1970s identity.
One of the magazines on the coffee table was a big hardback book with lots of great photos about Architecture of Old Farmhouses. I was fascinated and gobbling up the information. It seems that back in the day, what could have started as a humble one or two room dwelling would be added onto as family demands (and family prosperity) grew. So architecturally the style of the day might be added to the style of yesteryear, thereby compromising the definitiveness of architectural style. And 'saltbox' style became quite popular but is not in itself a 'style' as much as it points to an add on to the existing structure thereby altering the roof line.
Well, there you go - our house then, doesn't really don't have any kind of singular architectural style, could be in the classification of a farmhouse, but not exactly, and I tend to call it more the style of the homes of the martimers who lived and fished here. Mr. Bachau, who added elegance to the straightforward style, sheaved the sharp ends at each corner of the roof, added a turret/cupola to the upstairs level, and added bump out bay windows to the street side of the house and the back kitchen. It appears the kitchen is a bump out from the house (an added bump out kitchen was not uncommon, per our neighbor, to the houses built here way back when).
Sheaving the ends of the roof line, our neighbor explained was done to reduce the rotting of the corner ends from the moisture, rains and sea storms that roll in off the Bay, off the Pacific Ocean. I had shown him the photos I have of the original house and the roof line is pitched at both ends. Which is why he explained what he explained about shearing the roofline corners.

After the Bachau's lived their lives in this house, and she died, and Son inherited the house and wound up 'selling' it to the next owner. The house was what is called pier and block, and had no basement. Next PO dug out a basement under the house, bricked up the basement and poured a concrete floor, and added a carport where once were the two beautiful bay windows Mr. Bachau added to the house. We learned that owner lived about 20 years in the house (or less but much longer than we had been given to understand). He sold it and now the next PO added a bump out to the bumped out kitchen, and a bump out on pier and block (no basement) to create a downstairs bathroom. Incidentally, the original house had no bathroom, had an outhouse, and the downstairs bathroom had to be plumbed, there was no upstairs bathroom and the last PO created a room and had plumbing done for upstairs bathroom. 

Definitely then, this house fits the definitions of what constitutes an old farmhouse to the degree that the book I was reading defined architecture styles passing along through the generations. But our great old house no longer has it's front porch. A situation I hope to remedy and have a front porch built and added, because I want the old rocking chairs and to be able to sit out on the porch. 

What else I learned from reading the book (and looking at the photos) was that some homeowners prefer to restore elements of their house to it's original architecture, ie, primitive stairways with high risers, architectural columns, beadboarded walls, heavy wood paneling (no, not the 70s stuff), panel doors, ah, memory fails me here, but the list is lengthy. And glory be, I found a photo of an exact staircase bannister as is in our house. It seems that is a deliberate design, how it curves at the top of the stairs. Also that the newel post at the bottom of the stairs is by design Greek Gothic and all I've ever thought was that is was primitive in look. 

Enough of a post, and some of our next projects I'm considering are to remove the plasterboard that was put up on the walls as part of second owners 'rehab' to get back to original plank walls -- maybe, as I need to do a bit more research before we start tearing out plasterboard. I can see from some of the original closets that were not rehabbed or upgraded the wallpaper (which is linen btw) and a tear shows the plank walls behind the wallpaper. 

Our trip to the Eastern part of the state then brought me home with fresh ideas, renewed love for our old house, and while we went to give a presentation on an entirely different matter, I came home with renewed mental energy to look at this house with fresh eyes or new perspective of it's valued old history. 

Welcome to our Bay Tower Home in Bay Center, Washington on the Willapa Bay.

Arthur, Lietta and Jake

We're the homesteaders in what some residents consider to be "God's Valium" (cause it's so quiet most of the time.)
After years of renting beach houses on weekends and vacations, we finally bought our own beach house as our permanent residence.
Bay Center is an old fishing village on a finger of land that juts out into the center of Willapa Bay on the Washington Coast. We're 45 miles north of the mouth of the Columbia River and about the same distance due south on Hwy 101 from Aberdeen, Washington.
Well, if you drive south east 125 miles you'll be in Portland and to the northeast some 150 miles is Seattle.
Bay Center ain't no city. From our house if you go 4 blocks east or west you'll be in the Willapa Bay. If you head north you'll be in the woods on the tip of Goose Point. If you head due south 4 blocks from our house you'll be at the only dining facility within 15 miles.

Bay Center (the house is inside the small elipse in the center of the foto)

on Goose Point
Entry by Arthur Ruger, I'm half as old as my house.

August 2003 - First summer in our 'new' home - garden journal entry

August 2003

Our first summer in the house we are buying. It comes with some already mature landscaping. Noteably the front yard has the 90 + year old Monkey Puzzle Tree. But it is showing it's age now, and appears more brown than green.
The first year here I asked our neighbor to cut off the lower branches. Since the tree was planted on a corner where 2 streets intersect, it made for poor visibility and our neighbor was happy to open up that space to help prevent accidents for cars trying to make the turn. I learned something though; dear hubby was heartbroken at the trim job on that tree. Seems he had already developed a fondness and ownership of that historical tree.
Next is the raised bricked garden areas at the front of the cupola. While a bit overgrown, the mixtures of small trees, evergreens, and a well developed and aged rhodedendrom give a calming, relaxed feel to that area. Sweetie just had to do some serious pruning to the overgrowth of the ivy and straggling blackberry shoots. For the most part, I have no plans for this area except maintenance, as it works well in it's present design.
I do need to learn the names of the spreading evergreen. It's an expensive variety, low growing with primary branche that grow outwards horizontally on one side. I believe the orange flowering small tree is a type of rhodendrom. It looks also like a rare and exotic species. And there is a yellow flowering tree that is prickly. Maybe a type of holly but the yellow blooms are gorgeous.
Future plans for this area include taking out the small area of grass as it is impossible to get in there and mow it. And there is a small patio area in need of some refining, maintenance, attendance and planting to sparkle it up.
There is no 'back yard' to speak of, rather a strip of what is a pathway to get to the side yard. While there is a nice, sunny spot in a square shape at the juncture of the original house and the added on section, someday it will make a nice wildflower garden. For now, it needs nutrients, attention and a plan.
The side yard, which really serves as our back yard has the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree. That is also an expensive variety with twisty limbs and curled leaves. Initially, it looks like the leaves are withering, but it is the nature of the leaves and limbs. I had to look it up to learn what kind of tree it is and have developed an immediate fondness for it already. My mother thought it was a sadly neglected tree and I had to explain to her it was a rare type of tree and is supposed to look that way.
There is a mature lilac which is old enough to be more of a tree than a bush; another very mature bush grows next to it and that one is a wild fushia bush. There is an overgown cluster of camellia close by so it looks like a concentration of plantings that have matured now are a bit too close together and growing into each other.
Someone put in a raised bed next to part of the brick wall that lines the yard. It has left over yarrow, I believe, still growing in it. Probably I will start with this raised bed and work my way outward as I decide what to do with this yard.
The yard has a small hill so that it appears to be an upper and a lower section. The lower section is the septic tank and drain field and I've heard it is not a good idea to plant in the drain field area. There is a brick wall at the back of this drain field area. Along that wall are several trees. Tall natural growing evergreen, and then 2-3 other natural evergreens. Not sure if they were already there and part of the original land or if they were planted deliberately years and years ago.
A couple of rhodedendroms are also along the brick wall. Sparse and hanging in there but not flourishing. There is a maturing maple tree at the corner where the brick wall forms the right angle. And it looks like big rocks were brought in to hold the bank of the hill or for decor or....and I can envision a rock garden there easily.
And it looks like someone planted what might have been a christmas tree or perhaps a forestry tree at the corner of the rock garden right under the very mature evergreen. The branches of the mature evergreen are growing into this planting and affecting it's shape and growth. So a serious cutting of the lower branches of that old evergreen will become a project.
At the back porch area of the house are 3 too mature rhodedendroms which will need some serious cutting back. They look to be the variety that grows naturally in Washington, so they will get too large for the spots where they have been planted and will be some annual pruning work to keep them in control.
Well that is it; the lay of the place when we bought it in November 2002. This is our first summer here and we are without yard and garden tools, so some must buy items.
Projects accomplished in the first summer here;
-- pruning back the front yard raised beds and shaping the mature rhodendrom. I will call this area the front oasis for lack of knowing what else to call it, due to it's serene setting.
-- pruning back the over mature rhodendroms at back porch area.
-- serious limb removal of the Monkey Puzzle tree
-- generally just removing weeds and overgrowth all around the house
-- hoeing and planting the raised bed in back yard along the brick wall. Biggest accomplishment with that was the massive Russian Sunflowers that I planted.
-- with no garden, tried the split the top soil bag and grow vegetables directly from the bags. This worked out fairly well. I got squash, and cucumbers, and a sprinkling of tomatoes. The rest was container gardening and container flowers. Not a too bad first effort, but I will want a true garden space in the back yard. And over time, I will want wildflower garden and a herb garden.
posted by Lietta Ruger

An Autumn sunset. This photo captures only a percentage of the great sky and even though it's a snapshot, that's one spectacular paintbrush.

We have some beautiful sunrises and sunsets here, but there are those days when it is more breathtaking than other days. It registers on us here living in the village. While this photo was taken in Sept 2006 from our stairway window, and it is now Feb 2007, we had the most amazing sunset in Jan 2007 that it had all of us coming out of our homes and trying to snap photos of the sky.

It was kind of funny to watch us humans trying to dare to capture the fullness of what we were seeing. People running up the road chasing the skyline before it faded into the bay. People jumping into their cars to hurry down to the beach to capture the skyline, knowing it would most certainly end it's journey at the waterline of the bay. I was among those running around with my digital camera trying to capture the shots. In my drawstring pajama bottoms still (hey they're comfortable), and without a jacket, me and the neighbors out there trying to be photo journalists to catch those great sunset pictures. My digital camera decided not to work, low batteries, and the elusive skyline would have been gone by the time I changed the batteries. Hopefully, a neighbor will share their photo shots with me.

And here is a couple of photos of Autumn and the changing colors. Not so spectacular, there are far more spectacular photos of fall, landscapes that show off the painted colors of the season. I always feel a tug on my heartstrings, melancholy at seeing the summer season leave, and energized that it will be the season of color and cooler temperatures, but knowing winter stretches out after that and spring will be a ways away.

posted by Lietta Ruger

Thursday, June 21, 2007

May 4, 2005 - Vegetable Garden, Barn Swallows - Garden Journal entry

May 4, 2005

Iris is blooming and gorgeous.
 My mother gave me these from her garden after she thinned hers last season and I got them planted in my yard last year. It was not the season for them to bloom, and they were fairly straggly. I cut them in fan shape as my mother recommended and sort of just crossed my fingers and hoped they might take to their new home.

This year, they have done beautifully with healthy leaves and almost every one of them has blossoms. It is as I envisioned it when I planted them along the fence-line. A row of beautiful iris which would bloom in the spring. I can look out my kitchen window and see them and I am very pleased. It has been my plan to be able to look out my kitchen window at my garden and to expand the lawn area there to have varieties of flowers in a flower garden. The row of iris along the fence-line is the beginning back of the row of my future flower garden.

My plan is to add a row as I can each year, with the barrier being having to dig out sod to create the flower garden. I can only do so much digging and carrying off sod as my body permits, so it is slow work which I knew would take years to realize. But I'm delighted that the iris row is looking so well, and it will be the beginning of many more varieties of wildflowers for my wildflower garden.

When the years pass, I will one day be able to look out my kitchen window and see a wildflower habitat next to my vegetable garden. But this is also a fairly well manicured yard with some most special showcase type bushes, trees, and plantings deliberately placed by the previous owner(s). I have to go slowly so as not to detract from the natural flow or give the appearance of clutter where there is now some orderly appearance.

Vegetable garden started now. I planted some vegetable seeds into starter pots last week and some are beginning to show plants. It was a sunny day yesterday and good time to work on planting the rest of the vegetable seeds.

I just don't have the will, room, energy to work all the seeds into starter pots, so I sowed the seeds directly into the garden soil. It's a risky thing to do as there are birds galore here, and not sure if the seeds will survive bird feedings. But that is what I did and I marked the rows so I would remember what was what. I also made a map of the garden and what was planted so that I could remember and watch for little plants to sprout.

I know what some vegetable plants look like so know what to expect from those, but others I do not know and need a map to help me out. So here is what is planted now in this years garden:

Sunflowers to line the entire back of the garden by the fence.

Sweet Corn in front of the sunflower line on the left side of garden.

Sweet Peas in front of the corn on left side of garden.

Beets in front of the sweet peas on left side of garden. These are seeds in starter pots and I plan to transplant when they show plantlings.

Turnips in a semi-circle planting will butt up against the beets and the hill I made at garden corner for zucchini.

Zucchini in a mound I made at left corner of garden.
Onions from last year which are returning this year. Another small semi-circle of turnips planted around the onions.
Cucumbers in another mound I made at front center of garden
-- break --
Carrots at right angle to the corn and peas, in a half row.
Green Beans will be in front of the sunflowers on the left side of garden. I forgot to check to see if these will need trellis or pole.
Lima Beans will be in front of green beans on the left side of the garden. I haven't grown these before.
Carrots along the right border edge of garden. Figured I could easily get to these and do a second planting.
Lettuce, iceberg, alongside the carrots.
Radishes row alongside the carrots. Again, figured I could easily get to it for second planting.
Tomatoes, cherry, alongside the radishes
Tomatoes, full size, alongside the cherry tomatoes.
Green Peppers in a teardrop shaped section next to tomatoes.
Well that fills the garden space that I have, yet I have more seeds. So, will also do either the split topsoil bag and grow direct from bag or containers for some of the other seeds. Other seeds, like radishes, carrots, lettuce are reserved for second plantings.
Now, let's see if this garden can be grown from seeds and if the seeds survive the birds around here who know where to find seeds! My back up plan is that if the seeds don't take is to purchase small starter plants from local nursery.
On a side note, the barn swallows are back again this year (3rd year running) in the carport/garage area. Already they have their new nest. I really like those birds making their home where I can enjoy them, but they do create a real mess with their droppings which are directly atop where the vehicles are parked.
This seems to have been an ongoing situation at this house as we can see evidence of the previous owner trying to discourage these birds in as friendly a way possible. Last year, Sweetie printed out some ferocious looking owl photos and hung them around to discourage the barn swallows. It didn't work!
When I told him I heard the birds there today and found a new nest on the light socket, not the same place as last year, but again, above where he parks his truck, he said he'd take the nest down. I said No, we can't do that now as they already have their nest and maybe eggs already. So we will have more adventures with our friends in the carport/garage this year. They naturally, by their nature, understand it to be their home, not ours.
Actually, I need to do a bit more research on what type of bird they are, as last year, I determined they were barn swallows via accidentally internet exploration. I'm glad they are back though, I like how they look and sound. Kind of a delicate small bird with some color and a very pleasant bird song.

June 8, 2004

Well here goes my new journal for my gardening efforts. Like Pinocchio, I want to be a "real" gardener some day. I've had a hand at growing some vegetables in container pots. Last year I tried the split open top soil bags and planting the vegetables directly in the bags. Hey that worked! I had nice amount of summer squash, zucchini, pickling cucumbers, and even a hint of cherry tomatoes.

This year my husband cleared a garden space for me, I don't know the dimensions, will ask him and post it here later. The grandkidlets are staying temporarily with us and took over the newly turned garden space into their own personal sandbox.

We had a family medical situation so I got a late start on the gardening this year. I claimed back 1/3rd of the garden space, laid down newspaper then dumped all the old last year's potting soil from containers on top of the newspaper. Well, of course that was not near enough.

I asked my sweetie to buy some more potting soil, and he obliged me by purchasing 10 bags plus the 3 bags of topsoil I already had. Was enough to partially fill the newly claimed back garden space.
With such a late start, I didn't think seeds would work out, so bought some starter vegetables and planted those. Okay, so now I have a tiny little wee garden woo hoo... and I thought I'd keep a journal of things that go wrong, and things that go right and things I learn along the way.

What I learned from last year, planting seeds is that it's not wise to use cheap seeds, cause they are exactly that..cheap and don't grow too well. So I'll upgrade to better quality seeds. I did save the seeds from my mammoth russian sunflowers last year and planted them again this year. They seem to be sprouting again for 2nd year ..woo hoo for me.
See photos here

(Sidebar note from summer 2004 - my sis (sil), Cinda, came out to spend a summer week with us and brought me a sweet birthday gift - a retro, 1950s, pink mixmaster to go with some of the other retro, 1950s pink items in my kitchen. When we were renting, I had a great kitchen with flowered wallpaper with pink flowers, and I was capitalizing on the Craftsman house era of the house, so I started a kind of retro era kitchen. Bought a chrome and copper formica table with pink chairs; a pink breadkeeper; a pink square cake taker and a pink Bauer chafing bowl.

We bought this house and the layout and decor just doesn't fit well with my retro pink effort, but I haven't the heart yet to give it up. So sis brought me an addition for the 'pink'.

birthday gift - retro,1950s, pink mixmaster

entry posted by Lietta Ruger

June 10, 2004

I'm a frugal gardener, by that I mean whatever I can do on the cheap, by innovation, as close to free as possible. We reduced last year by choice to one income living and of necessity now, I look for the most inexpensive ways to enhance my yard and garden.

Got late start this year. But that didn't stop me, no I bought some starter vegetables and reclaimed 1/3rd of my garden space from the grandkidlets who had homesteaded the space for a sandbox.

My husband, not much for the outdoor work, but very willing when I ask him had hand dug out the sod and lined out the space with railroad ties that he hauled from the neighbors yard across the street (it's okay, they gifted them to us). I was sooo pleased and proud of him so couldn't possibly let this garden space go to waste after his hard work.

I let my grandson have ownership of the tomato plants. I staked them using the aluminum prongs on an old antennae that came with the house when we bought it. My husband took that down last fall, and we figured if we saved it, the prongs might be useful as stakes in the garden. I used my mother's tip for tying the tomato plants using old discarded pantyhose. Well it's not very pretty, but hey, I'm practicing to be a "real" gardener so following wise gardening tips that I learn along the way.

To get the garden space ready, I put down newspapers, let the little ones hose them down (we have that breeze here ya know) so they wouldn't blow away until I could take the next step. I went and collected all my old container pots that didn't offer up any return plants after last year, dumped the used soil on the newspapers and that was the beginning.

I asked my husband, who I call Sweetie, to purchase some potting soil, (10 bags worth), then dumped that all into the space, bordered it off with concrete blocks and topped it with some top soil (only 3 bags, so thin layering). The concrete blocks are recycled from Sweetie's brick and board bookcases. We got him a new bookcase for Fathers Day and I had said at 57 he was a little too old for bricks and boards concept of bookcases, that was better left to college students and aging hippies (lol).

So the little garden space has begun. I hope to claim another 1/3rd of it from the grandkidlets and convert them to caring for the garden plants, but I'm not real sure they are ready for that, as the corn plant already got stepped on.

The garden, begun in June when the plantings were just buds is growing and growing and growing. Lots of leafy plants, but few vegetables...yet! There will be vegetables, and I'm watching now daily for the plants that grew, produced flowering buds to now transform the buds to vegetables. Ah, the chance to examine how faith works, when not being scientific about the process of gardening, it boils down to trusting, following obediently the seasons' and natures' cues, and acting, in faith, that if you act (plant, nurture, water, protect, fertilize) the garden will grow.
posted by Lietta Ruger

June 14, 2004

It has rained all week here and actually, I got a lot done in the yard (see previous posts). Saturday, and I tackled another section of the yard, edging and shovelling out another flower bed. My daughter came to my rescue and helped me with the heavy manual work of hauling off the sod.
I planted the rest of last year's iris bulbs and maybe they will take and maybe not as they sat in a black garbage bag through the winter. I saw green on the bulbs though, so planted those...we'll see what we get. I had made a row of iris last fall from donations and they bloomed nicely this spring. I did not have beds enough to plant all the donations, so hopefully, I "wintered" them to salvage...as I said we will see.
I'm excited about planting my new Calla Lilly (discounted plant in container that I planted in the ground) and hope it will grow well. The local hardware store had bulbs on sale 1/2 price, so I bought 2 more Calla Lillies, in pink and yellow. I was too fearful of planting them directly in the ground, so put them in pots to see if they will grow.
I also got 4 varieties of gladiola bulbs, which I did plant directly in the ground, and have my fingers crossed they will grow, looking forward to seeing gladiolas in the yard.
I put the cosmos flowers in a grouping and tossed out some baby's breath seeds. Forming a little beginning of a flower bed which I hope to expand. The foundation will be the gladiolas, then will gradually add differing heights of flowers. I realized though, I didn't know what was an annual, what was a perennial, so I went to google on internet and created a list of perennials. I want to scout for them at the nurseries around here (not too many, maybe 3 within 50 mile radius). I hope to plant perennials and create a kind of wildflower garden.
I'm staying small here and keeping with the green grassed yard, don't want to overwhelm my husband (or me for the that matter) but in years to come I'm looking forward to gradually claiming more to the beds I am creating and growing this project to have larger and larger beds of wildflowers and perennials.
The grandchildren (ages 3 and 4) helped me to plant all the vegetable seeds so we have little pots now all lined up with vegetables waiting to grow.

We have:
green peppers
tomatoes full size
cherry tomatoes
wax beans
oh, I've forgotten the rest.

My daughter gave me several packages of seeds this year and we made a grandmother, grandchildren project out of planting them all.
That about wraps up this week in the yard. Got so much done this year. I'm taking a break from the garden and yard for a bit. This week we will be doing some errands and driving around for my daughter's family trying to get to Germany to be with her husband. Now that is another very long story of a different topic altogether.

see more photos here

The Harvest - August 2004.

The harvest in August. Now it's September and the chill is in the morning air. Not sure how much more of my garden is going to grow to maturation...but, hey, the pumpkins are growing, and the cucumbers are producing, and some late squash are growing.

Ahhh, more produce from the garden. Look at that, I've got corn, eh! Not so easy to get a full season to grow corn where I live.

June 10, 2004

Yesterday I got the rock garden planted. There is a rock formation in the yard separating the upper from the lower section. I had thought it would make nice rock garden for succulents and some wildflowers. Well, it's of course, more adept at growing weeds, so I put the black plastic on it, held it down with bricks (laying around the yard from the gradually crumbling brick wall) and wouldn't you just know it, No Sun to bake the weeds. Two rainy weeks, not fair.

Impatient, I planted the succulents anyway. Tossed some potting soil on top of the plastic, dug out squares of the plastic and into the soil underneath and planted all the plants. Now grow dang it, after all, supposedly, you can't go wrong with succulents...we'll see.

Around the base of the rock garden I have planted some of my lavendar, one big one and a couple of little ones. There are few more lavendar plants yet to be planted. I will also plant the rosemary around the rock base. Over in the sun/shade corner the lillies from last year are sprouting beautiful red flowers (I think they are tiger lillies). I will try planting those 3 potted Easter lillies I was given at Easter and Mother's Day. There will be a lilly corner then at the base of the rock garden.

Oh, and I planted my Calla Lilly. My so far, one and only plant. I think these are so beautiful, and hope to acquire more plants. Then I planted some annuals in the flower beds. My daughter gave me a hand edging and weeding the vegetable garden outside the railroad ties. She wanted to get the weeds underneath (I told ya, my husband isn't big on yard work, he got the railroad ties moved and just set them down on top of existing sod), so she heaved those railroad ties around, and I know I'm getting old, cause I can't budge em.

Had to go into town today, which gave me the excuse to get some more potting soil, cause I used up the 6 bags yesterday. And of course, had to pick up a few more annuals, But, the store had bulbs on sale 1/2 price, so I bought 2 more Calla Lillies, and some Gladiolas. Oh, but I wanted one of everything there and watching my budget ..... well I didn't, I overspent a bit.

So, for now, I have new this year the start of a) vegetable garden b) rock garden c) flower beds d) hosta beds and e) bulb bed. I still have a rose bed I want to make to plant the 3 rose bushes I bought. I still want to make a herb garden (I love herbs!) and haven't figured out a home for where that will be yet. And I just Have to get some tulip and daffodil bulbs in the Fall. Anyway, I've made a lot of progress this year compared to last year's efforts. I'm becoming a "real" gardener bit by bit.

The Rock Garden, planted just this year is doing well. And there is our special dog, TurnerJake. He's our real wiggle-butt Australian Shepherd and a joy to us

Harry Lauder Walking Stick Tree (bush) or Contorted Hazelnut - Corylus avellana L. 'Contorta'

2005 - Our Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree - mature specimen - 15-20 yrs old

Harry Lauder Walking Stick

Corylus avellana L. 'Contorta'

This unusual European hazelnut was found around 1850 growing in a hedgerow in England. It has been propagated by cuttings and grafting ever since. The plant has become commonly known as "Harry Lauder's Walking Stick" or "Contorted Hazelnut."
The stems and leaves naturally twist and turn as they grow. The plant would normally grow as a sprawling bush, but if it is grafted onto a 4 ft. tall upright stock (Corylus colurna L. is a good non-suckering rootstock) it forms a very ornamental specimen tree.
Walking Stick : This shrub reaches a height of 8'-10', with a similar spread. The flowers of Harry Lauder's walking stick are yellowish-brown "catkins," as on pussy willows. The blooms appear in early to middle spring. However, this shrub is not grown primarily for its blooms but for its unusual branching pattern, which is indicated by its other common names: corkscrew filbert and contorted hazelnut. For as you can see from the picture, its branches contort themselves in every which way, resembing corkscrews.

Sun and Soil Requirements for Harry Lauder's Walking Stick : Grow Harry Lauder's walking stick in well-drained soil, in full sun to part shade.

Care of Harry Lauder's Walking Stick: Being a grafted shrub, Harry Lauder's walking stick does require some special care. The rootstock is Corylus colurna. As often happens with grafted plants, there is a tendency for suckers to shoot up from the rootstock. You must prune off these suckers so that the plant does not revert to the characteristics of its rootstock.

How Harry Lauder's Walking Stick Got Its Name: According to Adele Kleine of "Flower and Garden Magazine," the shrub's "appealing common name derives from the old Scottish comedian Harry Lauder who performed using a crooked branch as a cane."

Uses for Harry Lauder's Walking Stick in Landscape Design: Harry Lauder's walking stick is a specimen plant. The corkscrew shape of its branches lends much-needed visual interest to the winter landscape.

More on Harry Lauder's Walking Stick: Harry Lauder's walking stick is a case in which one may rightly claim that a deciduous shrub truly comes into its own only after its leaves have fallen. Not that the shrub isn't attractive when fully leafed out. But the eye is especially drawn to this curious specimen in winter, when many other deciduous trees and shrubs are little better than sad reminders of a defunct fall and summer.

our dog, Jake (an Australian shepherd - collie mix),
lays under our Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree - 2005

What is Harry Lauder's walking stick?

By Chelsie Vandaveer

March 11, 2005

At one time, shrubs and trees were planted to separate fields or fields from roads. These hedgerows divided land in a gracious, idyllic way. They were a mix of useful plants neighbors could share—willows for basketry, berries and nuts. A modicum of maintenance kept the hedgerow, a hedgerow. Wildflowers grew there; birds and small animals had refuge in the midst of cultivated lands. The hedgerow stayed the same and yet it changed with the seasons and the passing of the years.

Sometime in the early 1860s, a curious shrub was noticed growing in a hedgerow in Gloucestershire. It was hazel like the hazels (Corylus avellana Linnaeus) that people had cultivated for hundreds of years. But it was different, its branches twisted and corkscrewed and wept. Not many years after the discovery of the contorted hazel, a boy was born at the north

His father died when Harry Lauder was twelve. He helped his mother support his seven siblings by working in a flax mill while he went to school. Later he worked in a coal mine and it must have been difficult to see the stars when one is in 'the pit'. But he clung to his dream—someday he would be a music hall entertainer.

Harry mixed comedy with music and made laughable, yet touchingly lovable characters for his songs—the stodgy Dame, the red-nosed slovenly Calligan, the kilted tight-fisted Roderick McSwankay.

By 1912, Harry was at the top. He was elected to the Rotary Club of Glasgow and his fame spread beyond England. In 1913, he entertained in America; in 1914, he was in Australia. While in Melbourne, the British Empire entered World War I. Harry's son, John left his father's tour and went to war.

Harry, too old to be a soldier, mobilized to do what he could do best, entertain. And entertain he did. Realizing that those soldiers and sailors maimed by the war would be left in poverty, Harry raised huge sums of money for their pensions. Then Harry did something crazy and the war office fought him on the very idea of it all. He took entertainment to the trenches and battlefields of France.

Harry and Ann never saw their son John alive again. In 1919, Harry was knighted for his charitable works. When World War II broke out, he launched himself into another round of entertaining the troops and raising funds. Harry Lauder died in 1950. Few alive today have even heard his name, but entertainers have kept alive the tradition he started—laughter and songs for soldiers and sailors far from home.

It was Harry's wild character, Roderick McSwankay that made the hazel famous. The decked-out Scotsman leaned on an equally crazy hazelwood cane. The shrub became known as Harry Lauder's walking stick.

our Harry Lauder Walking Stick Tree

April 3, 2006

We have sad news this week. Lance, the cat, died last night, in my arms. We don't know the cause; our guess is old age, something wrong inside like a tumor or cancer or he got around something outside that wasn't good for him. There was little warning that something was wrong, except the night before he was moving slowly. I had just this past week put his cat box back on the porch as we had him inside all winter, and it was warm enough for him to be on the porch again. Yesterday morning, when Arthur left for work, Jake was there as usual, but Lance wasn't and I called for him. He came (very slowly) from across the street but wouldn't come inside. I called him all through the morning, as he was walking (so slowly) back and forth across the side yard. I went out to round him up and bring him in, and he was nowhere I could find him. Finally, he was just sitting at the bottom of the stairs, and I don't think he had the energy to come up the stairs.

I went and got him, brought him upstairs, bundled him up to dry him off, and put him on the couch. He came in the kitchen where his food and water are and tried to drink his water, but was too weak to manage it. I took away his water bowl and put a flat saucer of water down for him, he took a few sips and his head rather lolled in the saucer dish. It was too late in the day to take him to the Vet, and I called Arthur to tell him that I think Lance is dying. I took Lance, all bundled up and just sat on the couch with him till Arthur got home. Arthur took him, still bundled, upstairs and held him to say his good-byes. I took him back and kept him on couch with me, stroking him, petting him, but he could no longer purr. He tried but it was more a vibration than a purr, and then he gave a couple of small gasp sounds, and there was no more vibration. We had been checking his breathing and when he gave those last gasps, there was no more movemet. He had died in my arms.

Today, I'm so sad because I feel like I lost a friend - really. Lance took to me and went everywhere with me, upstairs, downstairs, outside, kitchen, basement. Every morning Arthur and I turn on our computers in upstairs room, and Lance is right there ready to jump up in my lap. It was part of our morning routine. I used to say 'not yet Lance, it's too early' but he'd jump up anyway. He'd sit and stretch out across my shoulder and purr like crazy. If I went downstairs for another cup of coffee, I'd give him to Arthur and he'd stretch out across Arthur's comfortable sitting spot on his belly and stretch out across his shoulder. When I came back, Lance would come back over to me and do some more sitting, stretching out, purring, sleeping. Whenever I sat down to watch tv, Lance would always come and jump on me, do that kneading motion on whatever blanket I was using to keep warm, then curl up when he got comfortable and stay with me till we went to bed.

I can't believe how much a friend a cat can be, and I never wanted a cat, took in Lance, and he took me in is more like it and became good companions. I will miss him much, every single day. We will bury him by the Harry Lauder tree, so he can always be with me in the yard when I am doing gardening and yard work.

Lance lived for about 7 yrs with Bree's family, and when her family moved to Germany, after Woody returned from Iraq, Lance was fostered out to us. We fostered him to Lica's family where he was intimidated by her family cats, so back to us. We have had Lance for almost 2 yrs, and he became part of our family in strong way.

Lance, our family cat passed away. I miss him as he was constant companion as I went about my daily routines. Posted by Picasa

by Lietta Ruger

Summer's End 2006

There's no pretentions to this home, it's pretty much salt of the earth kind of house and we live in pretty much as salt of the earth kind of people. Now, I'm not saying there haven't been efforts to get the house more upscale and we're grateful to PO who invested in giving the house more than a cosmetic face lift as the PO before them had done.  As you read our blog and see our pics, you kinda see the down and dirty along with what we hope are some of the pretty.

Haven't done much 'remodeling' since we started this blog, and there is good reason for that, but moving on...end of summer 2006. We spent many happy, contented hours of the spring and summer months working on yard and garden.

End of summer 2006, and sad to see the season come to a close, but there will be another summer in 2007 and we look forward to watching all the new plantings grow next year. Planted a hybrid 3 kinds of apples on one tree - that should be interesting. Planted an ornamental Mt Fuji Japanese white flowering cherry tree.

We ordered ten bare root trees from National Arbor the second year we lived here and planted them per instructions. Bare root trees are really just twigs sticking out of the ground. Dear husband ran over several of them with the lawn mower - more than once. Accident, of course, not intentional. But they must be hardy because only about 5 didn't make it and 5 are still with us. We replanted them in 2006 season to their new permanent homes.

We planted two Eucalyptus trees, one is potted in whiskey barrell and the other in the front yard. That about does it for the trees I can plant in our limited yard space. And it's too bad, because I wasn't done with trees for our yard yet. I learned this year that where we live, we have a mini planting zone that permits some plantings that don't do as well in the regional climate zone shown on the climate zone maps as our 'zone'. We live on a northern bay on the Pacific Coast which creates a maritime climate zone for us. That can be good and not so good, but it does help me to realize that what my inland neighbors can grow is not the same thing I can as easily grow. Now, it seems in addition to apples (Washington - apples, you know), I can also grow peaches and apricots. Really! Okay, but sigh - no room in our yard. I'll just have to fit it in some way cause I intend to have one of each.

entry by Lietta Ruger - green thumb is shaping up

Lietta at home with her loveable aussie Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 25, 2006

Indiana Jones lives in Bay Center? Pic of Arthur with his hat and whip Posted by Hello

And the photo that tears at my heart.. Let's go home, son... after 15 long months at war, yes, take your family home, soldier. I will continue to do my tiny bit to help turn the tide so you don't find yourself back in Iraq in a 2nd deployment. I will do my tiny bit so the soldiers fighting there now can be brought home Now.  Posted by Hello

Christmas at Home 2006

Wow, it was April 2006 we made the last entry to this blog! No way to 'catch up' 10 months of no posts. Life has certainly moved on for us, but not this blog.

Okay, so Christmas 2006. We purchased (at seriously reduced price) a new artificial Christmas tree. We already have a huge 6 foot tree that completely takes up either the upstairs or downstairs cupola if that is where we place it. Or takes up the whole front of the living room if that is where we place it. It certainly holds all the decades of Christmas ornaments back to when the children were, in fact, children. Now, they are grown with children of their own.

It's kind of sad in a nostalgic kind of way to put up the big tree with all the years of ornaments unless the kids and grandkids are going to come for Christmas visit. For now they are scattered about, and sometimes they can do the travel, sometimes not. I wanted instead a smaller more compact tree that I could tuck in a corner and I'm quite satisfied with the size of this smaller tree.

Our Christmas gift to ourselves this year. A nice double recliner loveseat. We have for several years now been discussing getting either couch or loveseat that has dual recliners. It was still years in the future for us as a purchase. When we were out and about taking in Christmas bazaars and such like, we came across a garage sale that we almost didn't stop at and found this great dual recliner at a price too good to pass on.

Nope, not telling, but we knew we would not likely come across such an affordable price for this kind of piece of furniture again and it was in such good, cared for shape. We left, both yearning and wishing we hadn't committed to dental work and $$ cost to us. Somehow we managed to talk ourselves into believing we could tighten the budget belt, squeezing hard, eat beans and rice, and doing so could manage to pay the dentist $$ and treat ourselves to this Christmas present. Now, it's February and we are recovering but recliner is paid for and so is the dentist $$.

posted entry by Lietta Ruger

Dear Previous Owners:

We so appreciate the earnest remodelling you did to update this house and it's understandable that as you remodelled it was, in fact, in the 1970s so you were 'cutting edge' at the time BUT ---

did you have to use brown shag on the wood staircase?

tearing off the brown shag carpet reveals beadboard - what were they thinking! Admit it, we've probably got close to the worse staircase project restoration, right?

peeking under the brown shag reveals wood stairs and a jillion nails holding all that brown shag in place. Arghh, groan, huge project just ahead.

Now to the floors in the two rooms on main level (living and dining room).
Dear Previous Owner,

We think your use of expensive wall to wall berber carpeting was probably a good idea, but when you let other family live in the house in your absence, they must have repaired motorcycles or some such kind of thing in the two main rooms. I never could quite understand how such great carpeting could get so badly soiled and stained, that it was beyond salvage. So we finally took up all the carpeting and now I understand why you chose to do carpet overlay to the unfinished wood floor project we found beneath ..... why did you leave the wood floors in the living and dining room unfinished? Now what do we do once we took up the spoiled carpeting and have this patchwork project confronting us?

two rooms, two particle board unfinished floor areas where large persian carpets were once upon a time...

taking up the wall to wall carpet reveals the unfinished wood floor project beneath -- that's right, just cover the whole thing up with carpet - guess it's our project now

Okay, we're taking suggestions. Essentially, once upon a time, very large persian carpets adorned the two rooms, and someone came along later, we guess, to lay wood flooring 'around the persian carpet area rugs' -- ??? Why go to the trouble of laying out a beautiful wood floor and not do it completely? Sigh, okay so we've thought of a few ideas and would love to take more suggestions. We'd prefer to keep the existing wood flooring cause we like the look of what's already down, so what do we do to compliment the existing flooring to fill up two very, very large nailed down particle board rectangles in the middle of each room where persian carpets once laid?

Oh yes, please do comment, we'd love to hear about it .... believe me, my Sweetie and I have had more than a few comments between us, and now we have to 'move on' to more constructive ideas .. ha!

entry by Lietta Ruger - the woman of the house

Thrifting Finds!

I love the chase of 'thrifting'. Those splendid finds at thrift stores, vintage anything, and those quality made items at affordable prices just not so easily found in today's department stores. Along my years of thrifting, I've picked up items that I still treasure. What was more a budget necessity back in the day when I was a young wife and mother, has now become less of necessity and more one of my all time favorite 'hobbies'. Today though, with recycling, refashioning, green living, sustainable living, meaningful living, or just plain stretching the budget, thrifting has become popular in it's own right.

My recent 'thrifting' finds:

Above - a version of the 'Northern Exposure' cannisters with my friend the Moose keeping watch. I have always liked that old tv show 'Northern Exposure'. For a short time there was a decor motif that included Northern Exposure type symbols, ie, the Moose (one of my favorites!), the Northern evergreen trees, bears, rustic cabin decor, canoes, and such like. Decor and motifs seem to change quite rapidly now and no sooner does one get on board with the latest colors, schemes, styles and motifs and it changes. Pretty good strategy to keep consumers consuming, don't you think?

above and below - My growing hat collection - an array of assorted hats. For all occasions, gardening, casual wear, and even for those times when my Sweetie is 'Driving Miss Daisy' in our ancient 1984 Cadillac the size of a boat with something like 400 horsepower - inherited from my mother - and it still is roadworthy, oh and doesn't use any more gas mph than our other vehicle. One day Sweetie drove me over the Megler Bridge to Astoria, and I was wearing a hat I'd bought in Hawaii when visiting daughter there for her graduation. I commented that I felt like I was being chaueffered in this big car - and said I feel like 'Driving Miss Daisy'. That became one of those jokes between us.

Another find which is not that hard to find is colorful scarves (for crafting and decor) -- photos below -

I picked up a load of placemats at the thrift store - mostly to use in my crafting projects, but this set with the vintage pattern cherries (not vintage placemat set) was just perfect for my kitchen table as it is arranged now. I change the arrangements on my tables, kitchen and dining frequently. Not as frequently as some, but once I get tired of a 'look' then it's time for something new on the table.

Holidays are over and the 'Company's Coming' size dining room table not needed now, so shortened it and added lighter table dressing for that fresher summer look.

I think I got some pretty good thrift deals on these plates.

-- a dozen Anchor Hocking Peach Lustre plates. While I'm not collecting these, I see the peach lustre pieces everywhere I find a collectible shop. This time, the price was just too good for me to pass up. I don't need more dishes, but hey, this is how collections get started, eh?

-- seven Homer Laughlin plates - rose edge design. This was at an estate sale, owner passed, and I am told these were her favorite dishes. They show years of use, wear and tear. But I am a nostalgia, vintage buff, and again price was too good to pass up...but I don't need dishes!!

Spring time - reshaping the front entrance yard area

We figured it out! The front area of our front yard (entrance to the house) that has been elevated and rocked with bricks laid for pathway, concrete poured for a patio and three concrete steps to walk up to the elevated 'gardens'. Nice idea, but makes no sense to the lay of the land and we have been trying to figure out if PO intended it to be decorative or why it was installed the way it was.
Work in progress as Sweetie has dug out the 'elevated' bed (translated to big pile of dirt, lined by boulders, overgrown with ivy and other assorted unasked for and undesireable volunteer growth). It is hard to make out in this photo, but the wall he has lined with boulders is the heighth of the dirt mound (elevated bed). The neighbor's yard right behind is about level with the bottom layer of the boulder wall. Sweetie has begun digging away and in a matter of a couple of days will haul most of that dirt away. While we weren't able to do away with the 'elevated' beds, he was able to seriously dent it and push it back away from the front door entrance leaving enough room for us to do a bit of landscaping and comfortably walk around to the back (more literally, the side) of the house.

The brick path that leads from the elevated bed to the front door is so steep that surely anyone attempting to walk it would easily slip and fall so it's not useful as a footpath, in fact, flat out dangerous. Nixed that by blocking off the brick pathway to avoid having visitors use it at all. But that was a bandaid fix.

The Weeping Spruce that spreads out horizontally across the top of the brick wall is a 'Must Save' so unlikely we would tamper with this element and will leave it as it is...

As I once again try to figure out the minds of the PO with some of their modifications to this house that make no sense to me, like adding a lower turret/cupola to the main level as an extension of the top floor cupola but in so doing, opening the whole side of the house to what amounts to the air flow of a front porch without the barrier of housefront or front door. So, I wander around that area looking at the historic photos trying to figure out where the front door orignally was and what did they do to the architecture that caused removal of the porch, the front entry door and secured the house from winter seastorm winds.

I digress, (as I usually do). So oila, as we are reviewing the historic photos of the house, and realizing that second PO dug out the basement, since there was no basement and the house was post and pier (sat on pier blocks) ---- wait a minute ---- PO dug out basement and what did he do with all the dirt he dug out?

We think we know. Now we think we know. Historic photos of this house show the front yard to be flat and in countour lines with the neighboring proprety. These two elevated mounds of dirt that have been landscaped with boulders and rocks and plantings, and brick pathway and concrete patio and steps --- was this all just to disguise two huge mounds of dirt removed from under the house when the basement was added?

The elevated 'bed' is so close to the front of the downstairs cupola, that it makes no sense when looking at the contour of the land. Now, with this 'aha' moment, perhaps it makes sense. Surely, I think to myself, with the amount of labor to dig out the basement, install bricks and concrete floor, you'd think there were funds or labor to haul away the dirt??
Did PO think this would provide some kind of water table drainage barrier or .....

Sweetie is doing what amounts to construction type labor in disassembling the boulders, digging out the dirt and hauling it away as he carves into this hill of dirt that makes the 'elevated' garden bed. I respect him for doing the labor, and taking on the project.
posted by Lietta Ruger

Poor terrain behind the house caused drainage and runoff problems from the start

You're looking at a rhododendron "tree" two stories high.
But that's a story for another time.

Our lot has the house more or less in the southwest corner of the property with the "back" of the house a mere 4-5 feet wide before encountering the hurricane fence of our neighbor and their huge treeless grassy yard. Some time in the future perhaps we'll attempt a purchase of a little more room, but I'm not optimistic.

That narrow 4-5 foot corridor that consitutes the back of the house was a problem. The house next door with its huge grass lawn sits on what is the summit of a small but wide ridge which leaves our lot slightly downhill with a gentle slope toward the street which would be off to the right in the photo below.

Consequently, that "back yard" was not really attended to over what looks like the past ten years and when purchased, that back yard was nothing more than a dirt incline that left the house about a foot and a half lower than the ground at the fence line ... basically a dirt "ditch behind the house."

Whenever it rains, that ditch filled got very wet and drained slowly into a late basement addition directly below the kitchen which was apparently added sometime in the last 30 years. The basement room has a concrete floor, concrete-block walls and one small window. Would presumably make a good wine cellar or cool storage area of some kind - even a root cellar since the only floor-level door accessing that part of this tri-level house is the "basement" door from the carport.

However, the drainage seeps through the walls when rain is heavy leaving anything in there subject to both mold and rust. I had to put a ply-board floor on 2-inch decorative bricks to allow the water to flow on the floor and out the other side (remember, the ground into which that basement room was built reflects a slightly downward slope which causes the water to flow  toward the house.) The neighbor's lawn is vast and does absorb the majority part of the rain uphill from the house. But the little dirt path on the other hand, couldn't handle hardly any downflowing drainage and  merely acted like a leaky canal, collecting the water at the foundation of the house and forcing it to drain down at that spot directly opposite the basement cold room.

My solution was not something we plotted or planned. Once we started new landscaping, digging up a garden, expanding the rock garden, building a red-rock walkway ... any project that caused us to dig up the lawn, we dug out turf squares which we then carried to the back of the house. We eventually over the course of working and reworking our landscaping, laid out enough turf squares to first level the dirt path  and then raise it over two-three layers to get it to the same even height of the neighbor's lawn. We're still not there yet (even with neighbor's lawn) but we're getting there.

Decorative "trellises" made from sidebars from a
wrought iron bed frame that we stuck in the ground to
"train" the vegetables in how to grow up.

We're after a "leveled look" that makes the transition from neighbor's lawn to our "back yard" seamless. In addition, 2-3 layers of turf squares created a greatly enhanced absorption capability and now we've just passed thru our second winter without any significant flooding through that basement room. This allows us now to look at some sort of concrete sealing of the walls and floors that would allow us the use of that room which is ... oh ... maybe a 25-36 square foot space. Would also make a wonderful place to store dry and canned food and get it  food off the shelving elsewhere in the basement.

You can see the first layer of sod we're now starting at the base of the tower. We're pleased with our back yard because each year the sod settles and the grass grows. I used to could only mow that sod after raising the blade to maximum height.

I can now mow it at the same height as the rest of the lawn which means that when mowing and I get to the back of the house, I just keep going without stopping to adjust the blades. That's meaningful to an impatient old lawnmower. Oh ... and I don't have or like a riding mower which would be too big for mowing the yard in this lot anyway. Mine is a front wheel pulling mower that also mulches and only if I've negelected the mowing will I bag or rake when cutting. I'll be 60 this summer and I like the exercise mowing gives me

Entry by Arthur Ruger, I'm half as old as my house.

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Before; what the back looked like when we bought the house, Nov 2002.

We did take photos of the house when we first bought it, on digital camera, stored in our computer, which crashed and since we didn't 'save' or back up, regrettably lost those pics. There are a hand few left from online activities. This pic is one my mother took of the back side of our house, shortly after we moved into it. I place it here to show the add-on structures that have altered the original salt box structure.

Since I've found housebloggers.net and begun this blog, I've been seeing our house through slightly new eyes. It occurs to me then, that when Mr. Bochau made the first modifications, perhaps he added three bay windows; two on side of the house and one in the back where kitchen area exists. Perhaps not. Perhaps the later owners added the bay window area to the kitchen. We do know that the previous owner, John Joseph, who did much of the improvements and upgrades to this house, added onto the kitchen. He met with us and gave us a run-down of the work he'd done to the house over the 26 yrs his family lived in the house.

The added on kitchen sports an unusual style 'bay window' which is literally panes of glass glued together in some kind of super duper window glue. Scary, huh? Well I thought so, knowing to expect Pacific maritime wind and rain storms. But in this area where we live, this same glass glueing project to create bay window effect has been used in one of the historic buildings in nearby town (small town but it actually has a grocery store and some other stores that qualify it as more than a village or a hamlet, I guess). We've been in the house now since Nov 2002, weathered 4 winters of rain and windstorms and that kitchen window is virtually im-moveable so it must be some great glue holding the panes together.

Asthetically, it's not attractive as it is, in fact, a bead of glue running vertically along the panes, which bugs me when I'm looking out the window at the kitchen sink. An interim solution is to cover the two seams with two fabric curtains so that it looks like I'm right there on the cutting edge of designer use of curtains and fabric. I don't want traditional curtains at the window as it detracts from the idea of the all glass bay window Mr Jospeh installed. I tried a couple of different curtained ideas at that window and decided it was counter productive to why those windows were there in the first place.

Outside, you can see the over-mature shrubs and lilac tree. We didn't do much with cutting anything back the first year, and were cautious in the second year, and last year we took the plunge and generously pruned back all the mature shrubs and trees.

More pics coming of the back side of the house, primarily in the changing yard. Structurally, we are unlikely to be changing anything about the house except to add front porch and re-work the back enclosed porch. I'm not sure about the original property lines for this house, but the lot now has a small front yard, a larger back yard, no side yards on either side. Since the 'back yard' runs parallel to the street, it really seems more like a side yard, than a back yard to me.

Notice the mature lilac tree; fullness of the camelia bush and wild fushia bush. They pretty much dominate this upper section of the yard.



Seriously cutting back the camelia opened up the yard. It also revealed the bay window in the basement level of the house. Gave me area for flower bed and I plan to continue to work that into a showpiece flower bed. I cut back the wild fushia bush somewhat but not knowing the nature of how it grows, and it is the primary home to hummingbirds who lived here before we did, I pruned cautiously to perserve the numerous fuschia blooms for the hummingbirds.

We did light pruning to the Lilac bush (now tree size), which had four mature trunks. Two of the trunks leaned so far to the ground in the 2005 winter storms, we pulled them out, and actually preferred how much that opened up the yard. A new shoot is coming up between the two trunks, and has hardened now to become the newest trunk of the lilac. I'm relieved because if we lose the last two mature trunks, we would have lost the lilac tree.

Spring Time Tulips; my small bed at home and the grand fields and fields of beautiful tulips

First year for the tulips in my yard that I planted last Fall. I'm so pleased!

I have to toss in a photo of the Money Tree plants growing at the side of the house. I mention, because I planted the seeds last spring and they grew all winter and really sprouted flowers by early spring this year. I'm astonished since I planted seeds, didn't see harvest and thought it was a lost cause. Apparantly not! I was also astonished to still be pulling up turnips in December in my garden. I say astonished because I'm not a knowledgeable gardener and so I'm thrilled when anything I plant works - in other words, lives, flourishes and yields produce, flowers or just lives at all.

When we took our recent trip from our digs on the shoreline edge of Western WA to Eastern WA, we didn't get very far East when we encountered these tulip fields belonging to a Nursery in Mossypoint. These give Mount Vernon in Skagit County a bit of a run for the money. Mount Vernon is known for the amazing daffodil and tulip fields the farmers grow there and in approximately April every year people travel to Skagit County to see the daffodil and tulip displays.

Our weekend out of town; The Story.

Our weekend;   The Story.  I have a peridontist appointment about every three months, in a town about 2 + hours from where we live.  So we have turned it into a weekend getaway, and a visit with my mother who lives in a nearby town to the town where my peridontist is located.
Had my peridontist appt Friday and the report was good - some small improvement actually.  Not much improvement, but far better than deterioration.    Then we went to my mother's home, spent the weekend. and then came home to our animals.   Our cat and dog remain at home, and so our time away is limited to a safe duration for the cat and dog to fend for themselves.  Now that my cat bite is healing and the cat is healing, life is returning to normal.   (A couple weeks earlier the cat was bitten by an animal, and in not knowing she was bitten, I picked her up, more rather tugged her out of her hiding place and she bit me…not at all her usual behavior, she is a very loving cat.   We didn’t see her wound at the time, but knew something was wrong with her.  Arthur spotted her wound, and we took her to the vet, who gave her a vaccine, and told me was more concerned that I get myself to hospital to treat the cat bite.  I did, was vaccinated and given antibiotics, the incident reported to County Health, the cat quarantined at our home for 10 days and we are both mending without incident, the primary concern being exposure to rabies).   When we returned home, our dog Jake resumed eating again.  He misses us when we are gone and gets sad - depressed.  Dogs have feelings.  Oh, and our cat too, she has feelings, misses us and glad when we return home.
After my peridontist visit on Friday afternoon we drove to my mother’s home, picked her up and went out to eat.  We live in a rural town, and there aren’t a lot of restaurants or places to eat, so we enjoy the opportunity of eating out at different restaurants on the days of  my peridontist appointments.  It’s an eating out together date we look relish.  Choosing a restaurant in the town where my mother lives proved not to be as obvious as it might seem.  We kind of scoured what we knew to be restaurants in her neighborhood, opted to go further away, settled on Black Angus, since I was hankering for a nice steak lunch.  We got there and it no longer has lunch, open for dinner only.  Must be the economy.  The hour was growing late into the afternoon, I was hungry now, and we had not eaten breakfast that day,  or at all, so we wound up at (oh yuck!) Old Country Buffet.   Arthur likes the many choices of buffet restaurants, and sometimes so do I, but Old Country Buffet is not one of my favorites.  We both really enjoy the buffet variety of primarily healthy choices at  Sweet Tomatoes restaurant, but there were none the town where my Mom lives.
Saturday Arthur spent the day home, defrosted Mom’s freezer for her because it had become so full of ice that the ice on all the shelves were touching each other, no room for food.   He took care of some other taskings for her, then spent the rest of the day fooling around with installing stuff in  his old fashioned computer.  Not the laptop kind, the big bulky kind.  Some guy he knows had given him some Linus software to download or told him about it.  Anyway, it was a dead computer (not working) and when Arthur finished the download it sprung back to life, installed Windows XP and is sort of functional again.  He was delighted.  Still needs an audio driver and something else that would permit it to link to internet.  He was just intrigued that it started working again...kind of like a guy tinkering in his garage with his power tools, only Arthur likes to tinker with puter.
Saturday I took Mom to Farmers Market in Proctor area of Tacoma.  That is a district that more resembles Portland or some Seattle districts; organic, green living, conscientious choices - that sort of thing, and an amazingly cool, fun grocery store with very upscale item choices.  For a mere $309.00 you can purchase a wheel of gourmet cheese!  An experience in itself.  (I’m being a bit snarky – it would be very unlikely we would ever spend that kind of  money on cheese.)  We visited a new consignment shop in her immediate neighborhood – delightful items, colorful, fun, upbeat, cheerful.  I liked it.   But I didn’t buy anything, because in truth, neither of us need another thing!
And more for the hunt of treasure than because either of us need anything more in our homes, we went to a few garage sales. What was being offered wasn’t the kind of garage sales we were looking for - more like junk sales.  We had fun anyway because we toured many of the University Place neighborhoods, the million + $$ homes with breathtaking views of the Narrows water, Narrows Bridge, the outlying island.  And alongside the million + $$ homes, are more modest ranch style homes.  You can be on a ‘house of dreams’ street and turn to go down the the next street which could well be a quiet and modest street of different ranch style homes.    University Place neighborhoods are in interesting mix of income levels.   After our tour of neighborhoods,  I took her to visit Charlie at cemetary where his ashes are placed.  It is a beautiful, peaceful cemetary, a place of quiet serenity amidst the hubbub of getting from here to there.  Nice place to quietly reflect on life.  I know, it may sound like a strange juxtaposition to reflect on life when at a cemetary where the dead are buried…..but that is how it works for me.
We went back to Proctor district that evening to have dinner at a niche Mexican restaurant (not a restaurant chain) because Mom said she heard good things about the food and atmosphere there.  Lively atmosphere with mix of old and young people dining.    I had a Taste Assault dish called Chicken Mole, although it would be better named Chicken in Mole (prounounced molay)  Sauce, because the sauce was Outrageous -  6 ingredients, and I can remember plums, almonds, mole (an unsweetened chocolate), and some other ingredients.  It wakes up your taste buds like wowza!   Not hot or even spicy, flavorful would be the word I would use to describe it.  Flavorful with each bite.  Arthur took a menu and will experiment at home with making the mole sauce because I liked it so well.
Sunday we took Mom to her church (St Andrews Episcopal Church).   A bit of history here; my mom lost half her sightedness recently and is vision impaired now.  Mom had been saying she felt she needed something inspirational amidst all the doctor appointments and bad news.  Along the way, I decided to call the Priest at St Andrews to talk to him about Mom.  When she was a child, she attended Episcopal church in Spokane.  I explained to him her childhood church exposure, and her current medical condition with being sight impaired, being told by her doctors not to drive anymore. He agreed to visit Mom immediately and arranged for someone to pick her up and take her to church on Sundays.
She has been to St Andrews now, a few times, and wanted us to visit her church.  We wanted to visit it also, as I enjoyed the upbeat conversation with the Priest - he was energetically young, even though he isn't young.    That Sunday they had special guests, a singing group who livened up the entire worship service with renditions of the hymns done to foot tapping music.  Guitars, tambourines, horns, and one of the gals playing guitar was barefoot!   Felt like we were at a campfire gathering!  Geesh!  But the worship service having a combination of traditional liturgy, the laying on of hands for healing, the Eucharist, and the lively music with a welcome invitation to all does reflect ‘The Emerging Church’.
We loved the church, it had accommodations our little church building isn’t equipped to have, and if we lived in that area, we would likely attend that church.   Afterwards we ate at a restaurant in her immediate neighborhood that she is fond of - an old fashioned restaurant left over from approximately the 1950’s era.     So lots of eating this weekend, way too many calories, and Mom had a nice weekend.  So did we.
Oh and at the Farmer's Market I bought some snow peas that were priced below what is usually charged for snow peas, so I bought enough to freeze.  Bought a couple of tomato plants already bearing tomatoes, and a basil plant.   I didn’t plant a vegetable garden this year, and haven’t spent much time outside with the herb and flower gardens, so keeping it light this year.   Weather hasn’t been too cooperative where we live – cold, rainy, then unseasonably blistering hot, then cold again.   At the market, I found a growing salad bowl planter that I wanted and Mom bought it for me for my birthday gift.  The planter has growing  lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro plants  - salad ingredients, and that is the extent of my vegetable garden this year.   Except all the herbs I have been growing for a few years now.
And I was delighted to learn about a lovely tasty sauce called Chimichurri?  Oh, I tasted some at the market, and just had to buy one - lime Chimichurri.  Great to use as braising sauce for grilled vegetables, on meats, or just straight on healthy chips or fresh veggies.   Taste delight!
It was a rather sweet weekend.  Last year around this time, we had visited Mom and she and I went to Lavender Festival on Vashon Island, ferry ride over and back, a beautiful, clear, sunny day, making the waters deep blue and picturesque. There was a Farmer’s Market there too, and we visited that Farmer’s Market

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fighting slugs in our container veggie gardens

Last year I had no produce from my gardening efforts. Why? Because mostly the slugs, native to our Pacific Northwest, ate, usually in one overnight, anything tender that tried to grow. This year I was determined not to grow my vegetable garden for the slugs to eat.

This year, though, the weather decided to not to be spring when it was spring, to be only sort of summer with a periodic warm day, and here it is August and I can pretty much say there wasn't much of a spring and summer this year where I live. So growing the vegetables was not going to be easy with neither the weather cooperating nor the voracious eaters - those slugs!

Determined to persevere against the odds, I so thoroughly reasearched slugs, that I felt ready to take aim and do serious battle with the critters. And even with the delayed to non-existent spring weather, I was equally determined to grow a veggie garden this year.

For the slugs; used several methods - bait traps, beer traps, copper pennies laid out along the top edge of the container boards, going out at dusk and spearing them. My knight contemplated the problem and came up with a unique solution. He built the container beds and then he nailed the 'slug gutters' to the outside of the container boards. I could fill the slug gutters with salt and any slugs daring to cross would not make it to the vegetables. That seemed to work quite well. I still set the beer traps - just in case. Result - we have growing vegetables which haven't been eaten by the slugs. I think my knight has been very knightly about saving me and my vegetables from the slug eaters!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

My wee garden, fighting the slugs and snails

I haven't tried this yet - hmmm, we'll see. Pacific Northwest and slugs are native, I think, so it has become a losing battle for me. My gardening started with no slugs or none that I could see the first couple of years. And in the last three years they have become 'progressive' slugs. So does that mean they are democratic slugs? I don't know, but I do know they can consume in one night more than I can nurture and grow all season. I don't like to kill them, but dang, I am not growing my kitchen produce garden to feed the slugs.

Another good riddance to slugs remedy; 

I was told -- and it worked like a charm -- to save my egg shells, dry them out (I throw them in my dehydrator, of if in a bigger hurry, my oven for a few minutes), and run through the food processor. Then scatter them on the yard or garden. The snails and slugs eat them and die as it acts like eating glass on them.

During the 11 years I lived in that home, I did it like clock work
every month and we never had problem again.

Oh, and here's a different take on the egg shell remedy;
Keep your egg shells and fragment them. Don't crush them too fine; each
piece of shell should be about the size of a coin, no smaller than a dime.
Scatter the shells around your vegetable plants. Snails and slugs will
scratch themselves on the shells and die.

(I already do this and my slugs - you know the progressive ones - must be egg shell resistant!)

And my neighbor insists on the beer remedy;

Place containers of beer around perimeter of garden and/or plants. Slugs will be drawn to the beer, fall in and drown.

A complete list of supposedly 'proven' methods to control (or get rid of) slugs
No, I'm not going to put the whole list here - how about a link to Garden Advicethough, and go read for yourself.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Wow, a store opened in our village!

I told you we had no stores in our little fishing village community, just the one tavern and a KOA campground, the oyster farms and 2 processing plants, and a county campground park. Welllllll ... three days ago the one and only store opened and we, of course, went to the grand opening..lol.

Actually, I'm tickled at what the 'store' has to offer and it will make daily living in our village a bit more convenient. The new owner is from Long Beach area (highly tourist draw on the WA coastline) so she brought with her a bit of the flavor of Long Beach in conceptualizing our store in Bay Center. The store offers a pizza, deli and dessert bar; necessary grocery items, the beginnings of a gift line (oh we do get the ocassional tourists here) and a cozy relax sitting area with new polished wood burning stove, couch and chairs, newspapers and magazines, and this nifty reproduction record player that actual plays LPs (I want one!).

So now, instead of going the 12 miles into the nearest 'town' for the daily needs like milk, bread, eggs, cheese and such, we can go the 1/2 block to our own little store in Bay Center. Woo hoo!
Oh, and she even introduced a new line of coffee blend = Bay Center blend. My, my aren't we upscale now? No espresso though, not yet anyway. (Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are known to drink a lot of espresso .. you know, the latte although I prefer a vanilla breve.) Me and the dog, Jake, can take a stroll down to the store and have a morning coffee and cinnamon roll while listening to some great vintage music LP playing on the record player. And yes, my dog can go into the store with me, cause it's that kind of laid back community here.

Next - those developers trying to cultivate a high-end housing development around the 'lake'. The plan is for 70 lots, selling at about $400,000 for the lot alone. So it's not hard to imagine what kind of houses will eventually go up on those lots. I worry some, cause we moved here to get away from those insta-grow developments and the cookie cutter shop malls that go with them. I wanted to find a place that didn't yet have a McDonalds or Super grocery store or Super any store and not likely to get such in near future. We're not in jeorpardy yet.....but, still I worry some that our sleepy little paradise village, not more than a road sign on the state highway, will be 'found' and transformed. I like the identity this community already has and has had for the past century. Developers - stay away from here - and people, don't come to Bay Center except as a drive through tourist.

The locals aren't as concerned as I am, cause they've seen high hope developers come into this community before and try to develop a not quite gated community, but one of those development 'estates' with a fancy name like Rialto Beach or Meadow Woods or some such similar type name. But, I'm still concerned and time will tell.

photo of the 'lake' area which developers hope to turn into McMega House estates.

awww....don't mow it down. photo of the first swatch of lake area being mowed down, next comes the sale of the lots, then comes the mega-mansions dotted all around the lake.

posted by Lietta Ruger

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Survived the hurricane-force winds; Pacific Northwest storm, December 2007

Pacific Northwest Storm of the Decade, Dec 2007. Declared disaster area in Southwest Washington, Washington coast and Northern Oregon coast. We live in Bay Center, WA, Pacific County, and had hurricane strength winds for 2 days - 119 mph with gusts of 145 mph. Photo slideshow below.

Can read more at my account of our experience in Pacific County at Washblogstory. Also at my blog 'Life in Bay Center on Willapa Bay' and the special page I made at the blog 'Storm of the Decade, Pacific Northwest, December 2007' 

posted by Lietta Ruger

Monday, May 25, 2009

Handkerchiefs - my latest fun thing to do..

I don't have those lovely vintage type handkerchiefs, and am at the mercy of finding them at thrift stores, collectibles and such like. So I went and found some because I found a few fun ideas for how to use and wanted to give some of the projects a try.

In my painting/sewing room, the upstairs cupola, I used the handkerchiefs to create a window treatment. The view outside to peek views I have from the cuploa of Willapa Bay will inspire the paintings, while the breeze will softly blow the handkerchiefs, creating a lazy, billowy effect.

The back door, which leads out to a not so nice mud room, is an old fashioned French Door set up, that leaves a few things to be desired. For Summer look, I want to add handkerchief curtains. Can seam sew the handkerchiefs together, or hand sew the corners together, adding columns and rows of handkerchiefs. Can pin them together, ie safety pins. Can add lengths of string and clip on with cafe curtain clips, clothespins. Lots of different approaches. Right now I'm hand sewing the corners together and have one column on each window. Will add additional columns to fill the window spaces, depending on how many handkerchiefs I have available to use.

About a year after we bought the house, we made both upstairs rooms into bedrooms. My sister came on a visit from Utah and slept upstairs in the bedroom where in the photo below shows a red circle around the window to that room.

About a year after that visit she was out here again and we were talking about the Tokeland Hotel which - as the seagull flies - is less than 5 miles across Willapa Bay from our house. However, we have always driven there which is almost 40 miles one way going out to Hwy 101, up the coast thru South Bend and Raymond and West on State Route 105 to Tokeland. The Tokeland Hotel has some rooms that are haunted. As we talked about that, Sis looked at me and told me the following ...

"Arthur, one morning after getting up, I came in from the bathroom and sat at the chair there to put my shoes on. Something drew my attention to the bed (she'd just slept in) and I looked up. I saw a woman sitting there on the bed and somehow knew that she used to live here."

Yeah, yeah yeah ..... and I soon forgot about it.

Yesterday at work I was interviewing a woman - I'll call her Dot - who was a pre-teen in the late 1960's and knew the elderly lady, June Bochau, who'd lived most of her life in this house. Born in 1877, June Bochau died in 1970 at the age of 93 and was still living in the house with her son.
Dot remembered for me how she used to brush the old lady's hair, telling me that she remembered mostly how long it was.

Dot then told me that later on, when she was older, she was back in the house helping another owner do some clean up. She said that June's presence was still in the home even though she had died a few years earlier and that June's presence was most strongly felt in the bedroom where the window is circled below.

I then remembered my sister's story. I'm sitting in that room as I write this since it is now the room where Lietta and I spend probably half of every day while on our computers.
I came home last night thinking about June Bochau, a character about whom I've heard many stories in the 3 1/2 years we've lived here.
Lietta is not here right now but down the road some 40 miles this week in Long Beach with her mother so I'm home alone. I moved Lietta's computer chair with it's arm rests and high back out from her desk and turned it to face me last night.
Every so often I'd turn and look at that chair which is the only place left in her former bedroom where June Bochau could sit down right now.
No, the chair did not move and although the window is open, the curtains did not rustle.

Nevertheless, I think about Dot who told me that she got chills up and down her spine when I told her what house we had purchased and were now living in.

I think about my sister who is not prone to telling ghost stories ....

I look at that empty chair, look out the door to the upper tower room where I can see above the houses in the immediate nearbye streets ... and think some more about June Bochau.

This is the room behind that window in the other picture. That's me at my computer and immediately to my left is my clothes closet.
Lietta's computer is separated from mine by that waist-high cabinet to my immediate right.
Her computer module is in the corner and the window looking out would be to her right if this were a panoramic view.
In the bottom right corner, Lietta's desk chair with a red sweater draped over the back sits empty.
I turn and look at it and just smile.

Flooding at Willapa - the river is up high enough to cause the statue to look like it is rowing in the water   

more flooding of the Willapa river and this steel statue looks a bit more surreal...are they really paddling down the river? Raymond, WA, Feb 2006 Posted by Picasa

Raymond, WA with it's well known steel statues along the main Hwy 101 corridor when the river floods over. Feb 2006.  Posted by Picasa

We had a bit of flooding; enough that the steel statues on the ajutman land walk by the side of the road appear now to be installed in the river. Raymond, WA, Feb 06 Posted by Picasa

Rising to the morning routine, simple pleasures

It is one of those crisp winter days this morning. We wake up, immediately turn on our respective computers, catch up on what's new or better said, more of the same, and as the sun comes up, we are drawn like a magnet to beginning the day. Husband goes about the business of morning preparations to go to work. I, on the other hand, mentally lay out the plans for my day. I send him off in our usual morning routine. What that looks like is stepping out on the porch into the bracing chill, calling for our dog Jake, to make sure he is around and not off chasing an adventure somewhere in the neighborhood, and locating our cat, Lance.

Jake, as usual, comes trotting out of where-ever he chose to sleep for the night, sometimes on the porch, sometimes outside. Lance is either inside, curled up someplace or outside and ready to come in. I give Jake his morning "treat" and he waits patiently, wagging his tail. He knows the routine...Daddy will go get in the truck and Mommy will give the dog a bone.

Our little entourage then waves Daddy off as he heads down the street and I take in the morning sights. I take a look at the sunrise to see what kind of day we will have, look over to the bay water to see what color it is this morning and how the water is moving or not moving. I look to the neighbors' houses to see who is up and about, who has left for the day. I check to make sure the cat has food in his dish and then am reminded to remember whether I fed the two beta fish last night. I often forget to remember to feed those two, as it's hard to have a relationship with a couple of fish swimming in vases. The two beta fish and the cat are inheritances, acquired when my daughter's family was finally able to move to Germany.

So quietly my own day begins. Which is exactly the way I like it to be, for the most part. I used to be part of that morning preparations to get ready for work and remember well that "morning rush" which I rarely enjoyed. The hair, the grooming, the make-up, choosing the clothes, putting on what I called the "uniform" constricting the flow to focus on the taskings as set forth by employer/employment. Rushing to the car, checking the time, flying down the road so we wouldn't be "late" and then arriving, stepping into the office, and that whole aura of 9 + hours and this place owns me.

This quiet and leisurely way to start the day is a contrast which I still relish and savor. As the sun finishes it's rise, I now know the tone of the weather for the day. I decide if I will open the blinds and curtains or let it remain awakening time a bit longer. Today it is sunshine, and light streams in, so the blinds and curtains are opened. We get a fair amount of rainy days here and sometimes I like to open the blinds where I sit at the computer to watch the rain fall and listen to it hitting the metal roof.

Lance isn't sure what he wants to do, and Jake has a strange gift to attend to outside. I closed up the porch last night, meaning to keep him in only long enough to eat his food, since he likes to share it with all the neighborhood dogs, and forgot to open the porch door last night before going to sleep. Jake then was rather locked in then last night, not his usual routine. So I know he could not have brought that hooved deer leg into the yard, yet there it is this morning. Where did it come from? Which dog brought it and now, of course, Jake is seriously interested.

Meantime the birds are busy on the metal roof making a racket and doing whatever they do on the roof. I take Lance outside to do his bird-monitoring thing and he is busy now prowling on the deck railing trying to keep up with the movement of the birds. And I thought I'd just blog about how our mornings begin. I'm so weary of blogging my other blogs and the war and the politics which have highjacked my daily life simple wonders in my own consuming focus to try to influence getting our troops home, thus hopefully ending some of the carnage and destruction that go on daily in Iraq. See how those thoughts creep in even as I write to the simple pleasures of my morning wake-up routine.Well time to start the day..............

The Glory Days of Bay Center --- then

What Bay Center (where we live) looked like back in the days when it formed. The dock is no longer there and many of the houses on the shoreline are no longer there. We are told often of the days when the ships sailed in and activity was done on the bay by boat. There was not yet roads built to travel into the small towns that dot the bay. Travel was done by boat to various communities on the bay, and the atmosphere was of community dwellers on the bay, what bay-life used to be all about. We have Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What is Bay Center Association?

We do have in our little community what is called Bay Center Association.  It is a service-oriented group comprised of willing volunteers from among the community of Bay Center.  Residents of Bay Center are automatically members of the Association.  The Association goes back to the early origins of the formation of Bay Center.
I’ve seen documents in the Association records that show the sense of community in advocating that males in the community donate one day a month towards helping with the heavy work in making improvements within the community.   I’ve seen an old photo at the Dock of The Bay which shows what looks like a community dinner with long tables set up for a shared meal.
Since we moved here to Bay Center, in Nov 2002, my husband agreed to hold the office of President, when a neighbor was telling us as newcomers about the Association and the timing was such that it was time for a new slate of officers.  We were too new to the community then to know much of anything about how the community works together.  Both of us were employed at the time and I helped him where I could and we rather bumbled our way through that first year of holding office.   At that time it was called Bay Center Improvement Association.
By March 2003, our country had invaded Iraq, and two from our immediate family who were active military deployed to Iraq; my son-in-law and my nephew.  I left my employment to be more available to my daughter and  her three children  (my grandchildren) while her husband was deployed.  Spending intense years in activism from 2003 through 2008 as a military family speaking out against the Iraq war, I did not get much involved in local region community, nor in my immediate community of Bay Center.  (Not wanting this to be a blog post about Iraq war, you can see more about my activities if you are interested at my blog; Dying to Preserve the Lies).
With the winter windstorm (hurricane) in Dec 2007, my attention quickly was turned to the immediacy of living in our small community within this sparsely populated county.  I began attending the different meetings of the different groups that are at work in our unincorporated village to get a stronger sense of how we interact as a community, especially in times of severe weather crisis situations and other crisis situations.  I did attend some of the Bay Center Association meetings and like many groups or organizations, the heavy lifting is handled by the few who do volunteer for as long as they are willling to lift or until they say no more.  Then the hunt is on for who else would be a willing volunteer.
And that is how I came to agree to take on the function of president for the Bay Center Association for this next year (May 2009 – April 2010). I agreed when two other new to the Association meeting attendees agreed to take on some of the other offices, which gives the Association a slate of ‘new’ and probably green officers.  So it should be interesting to see what develops over the next months, and if nothing else, it will make for some material for blog posts here.
First thing I do is create a website for Bay Center Association… check it out!  Content will likely be developed from the monthly meetings.

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