Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Nigel's Birfday Adventure

Nigel celebrated a birthday last weekend, on Friday. I won't tell you his age. It's been a couple of years since we celebrated his birthday by going away, so this year we decided to go for an overnight stay at the Clearwater Casino in Suquamish, which is a Native American town in Kitsap County, WA, inside the Port Madison Indian Reservation. Chief Sealth, after whom the city of Seattle is named, was a Suquamish Native American and is buried there. Nigel likes to play blackjack.

We chose the Clearwater Casino because Nigel stayed there this past summer for a work-related off-site meeting, and befriended the manager, who told him if he came again for a personal stay to let her know by email and she would get him a good rate. Well, he did and she did, basically she gave us the same group rate that the work-related off-site received -- $105 for a lovely room!

The hotel is located in back of the casino, and unlike many casino hotels, you don't have to exit and enter through the casino, which is very nice, because it means you don't have to deal with the casino crowds and noise and smoke-filled air. It's also very nicely landscaped, with garden beds that are colorful and well-tended, and right on the water facing Bainbridge Island.

The hotel entrance -- to the left and right behind those pillars is a sweet little water feature

The bar and breakfast area -- breakfast was complimentary

At the back of the hotel is a large garden area, which contains a fire ring where they have a real log fire every evening.

The back of the hotel

The pool and jacuzzi are in the low building on the left

Looking out onto the Agate Pass, the tidal strait that separates Kitsap County and Bainbridge Island

This tall, impressive totem pole was originally part of the Northgate Mall in North Seattle, and was moved here and refurbished a couple of years ago.

I think that sculptural tree against the sky is a Pacific madrona, Arbutus menziesii. The archway leads down some stairs to the very rocky beach.

Colorful Begonias, not exactly cutting edge, but pretty nonetheless.

Can you see Nigel way down there in the distance? This covered walkway leads to the casino.

Instead of driving home down the west side of the Sound, we decided for fun to take the ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle, then pick up I-5 there.

Seattle as we set off from Bainbridge Island

The Seattle skyline as it gets nearer

The Coast Guard and the Space Needle

The Seattle Great Wheel against the skyline

Heading toward the dock

I'm sure you'll never guess what I was doing while Nigel was playing blackjack. Go ahead, guess...Oh, never mind, you know what I was doing. Plant shopping, of course. It was the last hurrah before the end of the gardening season for several small nurseries on the Kitsap Peninsula, and so I was making the rounds, from Far Reaches Farm in Port Townsend to Valley Nursery in Poulsbo to Dragonfly Farms and Celestial Dream Gardens in Kingston, as well as one that was new to me, Bainbridge Gardens on Bainbridge Island. I also visited my friend Debbie Teashon, who created and manages the website, at her new job as garden center manager for a Kingston hardware store called Henery's.

More on that in a future post.

The Plantmobile Junior with my weekend haul

An Endless Summer Hydrangea from Valley Nursery. I had to move the suitcase halfway through the day, onto the back seat, so that I could fit more plants into the hatchback space.

Are you wondering about the misspelling of birthday in my blog post title? That's kind of an in joke between Nigel and me. It refers to the tendency of Cockney speakers to pronounce "th" as "f." In fact, there's an ethnic joke, which Nigel told me many years ago, that depends on that for its humor. If you don't like ethnic jokes, then just skip this next part.

A Cockney fella is applying for a job.

"What's your name?"
 "What's your last name?"
"How old are you?"
"Can you spell that for me?"
"Ye can't, mate, it's a bleeding number."

Nigel himself is from Yorkshire originally, although he grew up all over England. His parents, however, grew up in Yorkshire, and had working class Northern accents, which occasionally was problematic for me, an American. If you're wondering what that sounds like, the actor Christopher Eccleston's natural accent is Northern (although he's from Lancashire.) If you've followed the new incarnation of Doctor Who, you may remember that when Billie Piper's character Rose first meets the Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston, she wonders why he has a Northern accent if he's an alien. He says, "Lots of planets have a North."

Or, if you're Cockney, "Norf."

Friday, September 26, 2014

I Can Art

Now that the rain has made its reappearance, I've started concentrating on a few art projects for the garden. I made four cement stepping stones with colorful tiles from Bedrock Industries, a glass-recycling company in Seattle.

I set them into the gravel in front of the greenhouse, on each side of the concrete pad in front of the door. I'm planning to stencil words onto the open space on the pad.

Oh Baby!

I also bought a ceramic baby doll head and arms when I was at JJ DeSousa's store Digs Inside and Out last time I was in Portland. I decided to paint them blue. And I bought some silly eyeballs to go with it. There's a battery-operated light inside the head that lights up the eyes at night.

Flower Power

I made a second thrift store glass and ceramic flower, complete with a pretty stained glass butterfly, and I added a little cloisonne butterfly to the first one that I made, that has been in the garden all summer.

Rubber Duckie, You're The One!

I bought three rubber duckies to put in the stream. I thought they might stay in the weir at the top of the falls, but the stream is too strong and keeps carrying them down to the opposite end (which is fun to watch). Except for one that the raccoons have moved around. I'm going to have to figure out a way to keep them anchored somewhere.

The Sky's the Limit...

I bought a tall ceramic vase at the thrift store for a couple of bucks, and I'm working on painting it in bright colors for a special spot in the garden. The top is going to be a very soft sky blue.

Where the mad artist (that's me) has been working.

Now, if I can just work up the lung capacity to blow up that inflatable Tyrannosaurus that I bought...

For the origin of the phrase "I Can Art," read Frances's inspirational post at her blog Fairegarden here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

One Last Blast

All four of my Brugmansias are flowering at the same time right now. Yesterday evening when I got home from picking Nigel up at the train station, the driveway smelled like heaven, as well it should, given the common name of these plants -- Angel's Trumpet. They've each flowered off and on over the summer, but never profusely, and not all of them all at once.

It's going to be October in one more week (how did that happen?), and chances are good that we'll have our first frost some time that month. So pretty soon I'm going to have to evict my tomatoes from the greenhouse and move these big babies in. But until then, I'm going to enjoy them outside as long as possible.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Not A Child's Muddy Handprints

The raccoons that dog my attempts to grow plants in my stream have discovered the Folly in the front garden, with its fountain.

And its formerly clean off-white chaise.

Maybe, like children and Santa, I should leave them cookies and milk, or coffee and a book, to keep them entertained at night.