We Moved to Santa Fe


This was the photo of our home posted to the real estate websites. Sometimes the sky does look like this in Sante Fe, particularly in late Fall.

It was a daring, if geriatric, adventure to sell our gorgeous Bellingham home, move to Whidbey Island & come to realize we had made a very expensive mistake. I turns out that I wasn’t cut out to get along with some folks, particularly those whose politics remain unexamined & reflect a lazy acceptance of the dogma of our youth. I don’t feel like schooling any more men or their codependents. Given the conditions in our current culture, I just don’t have the nerve for getting along with recalcitrant men. One man who is occasionally recalcitrant is enough pressure for me. The adventure got even more daring when we decided we wouldn’t build a home in cohousing after all & we soon discovered that we couldn’t afford the good homes on the island.

So we patiently waited to sell our building lot & went through the extra requirements that such a choice entailed. It was simply more complicated than selling our house. In February we flew to Albuquerque & rented a car. We stayed with our much beloved friends in Placitas & took their recommendation of a real estate agent, Rose. We met up at Java Joe’s in Santa Fe & at the end of the day after looking at little traditional Santa Fe houses with flipper upgrades we didn’t like & townhomes, a couple of modern loft condos, Rose took us to see the house we bought. But first we went to eat & I got a Navajo Taco with Christmas chile.  Delicious!  While we were sitting there everything we would have to do to make this house work occurred to me. So we made an offer that was about 96% of asking price & it was quickly accepted. It under appraised & we revised our offer to the appraisal & that was accepted too.

That is when the adventure began really. How were we going to schlepp all this stuff, including about 1000 square feet of stone tile & a 1963 Airstream Globe Trotter?


One big rented Penske truck


My sister Sharon’s great Dodge (which also pulled the Globe Trotter)

We were exhausted but drove North to Oak Harbor for a bite to eat at an Applebee’s where we could park these beasts.

We didn’t get all that far, we were too tired to trek across I-90 in the dark. So we stayed in Bothell.  Three people, two cats & one dog.

The next day was a nail biter. Blizzards & fog interrupted momentarily by a drive through farmland on the way to cross the Columbia River into Oregon. Once we gassed up in Pendleton we drove up the side of a mountain into darkness & much worse conditions. There are no photos from that leg. We couldn’t see reflectors or stripes & we knew that there were many huge crevices alongside the highway. When we stopped at a rest area on the other side of the pass we were all so shaken & relieved. We decided to stop in Boise & get the heck off the road for a while. Not one of us wanted to go further.

This meant that we had to book another hotel because we wouldn’t reach the one we had arranged. We never caught up with our prebooked & paid accommodations & spent more than we budgeted. Still, who knows how crazy such a trek will be? We had a 79 year old driving Penske’s biggest rental truck & he did a pretty good job once he got away from our storage facility in Freeland, Washington, where he tapped a wall. Everybody was relieved to get to the hotel, which was quite a few more miles.


The back of the Highlander was a traveling kitty condo


Jack was so happy to see Mom


The kitty boys & Dan relax & those are my legs under the blankets.

We stayed another day in Boise to untangle our nerves & then we hit the road again. We ate wonderful Thai food in Sandy, Utah & then stayed in a terrible hotel later that night in Green River, Utah. The next day we had a bite to eat in Bernalillo, New Mexico before driving up to Santa Fe to meet Rose at the house to get the keys. We slept on the floor and in a few days the house looked like this:


There is a kitchen in there somewhere!


GOOD NEWS! I found my Adopted Kitty Boy Firecat’s Grampa!

Here are a few shots of Firecat, the first one was napping in a new place:



You’re really going to make me wake up?  Are you kidding me?
 He likes to sleep in really convenient places, like on the 2′ x 3′ rug in front of the food preparation area:
While he is a sleepy guy, he has a taste for fine sculpture…
He is a beautiful, big 23 pounds of fur and cat spirit and he is lots bigger than his buddy Teaser.
Teaser & Firecat
But when we saw this photo, we knew we had finally learned who was  Firecat’s Grampa.
Grampa Cat
Here’s his cousin:
Thing they all have in common, they are big, red and floppy when you hold them.

A Garden as a Metaphor (Part Two)

Mohandas K. Gandhi:   To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.

Welcome to My Garden!

Bronson Alcott:      Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps,
Perennial pleasures plants, and wholesome harvest reaps. 

Nothing like living on a dead end that arrives at a lake

Henry David Thoreau:   Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw.

Dan the Man is the Garden King

Ralph Waldo Emerson:  Presently we pass to some other object which rounds itself into a whole as did the first; for example, a well-laid garden; and nothing seems worth doing but the laying-out of gardens.

  From the shady side of the yard...

Thomas Jefferson:  Though an old man I am but a young gardener.

Limelight begins to bloom...

Vita Sackville-West:   Every garden-maker should be an artist along his own lines. That is the only possible way to create a garden, irespective of size or wealth.

The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before.

  The Wondeful Deck

William Wordsworth:  Laying out grounds may be considered a liberal art, in some sort like poetry and painting.

The Clematis climb the posts toward the trellis

May Sarton:  A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself.

Look at this amazing clematis!

Luis Barragán:  In the creation of a garden, the architect invites the partnership of the Kingdom of Nature.  In a beautiful garden the majesty of nature is ever present, but it is nature reduced to human proportions and thus transformed into the most efficient haven against the aggressiveness of contemporary life.

Garden 21

Colin Neenan :  Life just seems so full of connections.  Most of the time we don’t even pay attention to the depth of life. We only see flat surfaces.

Looking back toward the corner along the row

Herman Melville:  The eyes are the gateway to the soul.

The vegetable garden

Benjamin Disraeli: How fair is a garden amid the toils and passions of existence.


Henry David Thoreau: Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself.

Garden 8

David S. Slawson: Poets and novelists are often moved to put into words the subtle qualities of the landscape, sometime purely for the beauty of it, and sometimes as a way of alluding to certain human feelings.  Landscape design can translate such literary landscapes into three-dimensional form in the garden.   Like the poet, the garden designer may allude to human feelings in his portrayals of nature.
Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens, 1987, p. 131

Garden 9

Ruth R. Blodgett:  We have learned that more of the “earth-earthiness” would solve our social problems, remove many isms from our vocabulary, and purify our art.  And so we often wish that those who interpret life for us by pen or brush would buy a trowel and pack of seeds.
The House Beautiful (March 1918)

Toto Rudbekia - Cuties, aren't they!

Marcel Proust:  The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking
new landscapes but in having new eyes.

Garden 13

Rosemary Verey:  Colours change: in the morning light, red shines out bright and clear and the blues merge into heir surroundings, melting into the greens; but by the evening the reds loose their piquancy,
embracing a quieter tone and shifting toward the blues in the rainbow. Yellow flowers remain right, and white ones become luminous, shining like ghostly figures against a darkening green background.

The Scented Garden, 1981

Garden 15

Let me arise and open the gate,
to breathe the wild warm air of the heath,
And to let in Love, and to let out Hate,
And anger at living and scorn of Fate,
To let in Life, and to let out Death.
–  Violet Fane

Garden 16Epictitus:  He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. 

Our garden is GORGEOUS!

The creation and sustaining of this garden says something about the conditions and possibilities that exist within our marriage more than any words.  I take this garden as Dan the Man’s declaration of love.  He doesn’t talk much about his feelings, he does demonstrate them powerfully.

XOX Susanne

Frederich Nietzsche:  Precisely the least, the softest, lightest, a lizard’s rustling, a breath, a flash, a moment – a little makes the way of the best happiness.
Thus Spake Zarathustra

Part One (Earlier Garden Post)

For Dan, who gave me the one thing that I could hang on to, two versions: 


Expression of a Marriage in the garden… (Part One)

If there is anything in my life I feel grateful for, its my garden and my chief shoveler, stump puller, rock hauler, digger, planter & builder extraordinaire, Dan the Man, who makes all things gardeney possible.   Here is what he deserves a great deal more of, but hasn’t gotten since May 2003 outside Cortona, Italy:

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I dedicate this post to him and his lovely, stubborn gardeney curmudgeonliness.

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When we first moved to our home it was January 2005, in the middle of Winter.  The ground was hard, it was cold.  There was mossy grass and lots of trees and a funny little red Japanese maple tree.  There were two trees planted right in front of the front deck.  When Spring came, we planned to cut them down.  Then the Robins built their nests and there was a natural delay in our plans.  Here are some of the babies.

The funny part of this delay is that I got a chance to see what other folks in my new neighborhood had in their gardens that grew well and  that I liked.  Since I had moved from Northern California 1000+/- miles north, I was unfamiliar and could use the input.  But I was so anxious to get going that I am sure I would have planted things that I didn’t have enough sunlight to grow successfully.  Mine is not a rose garden kind of yard.  It is not warm or sunny enough for anything but certain old wild types, or decendants of Rugosa roses, like this one, called Hansa.  Fragrant and magenta in color, but I don’t really want that as the dominant color in my yard, so I planted just the one.  It’s huge.  Thank you little robin babies for making me take my time and look around more before I got crazy in the yard planting all the wrong things.  

Grasping at straws, the last Hansa Rose. by arrowlakelass.

Rhododendrons & Azaleas

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I lived in Takoma Park, Maryland for a long time and had a wonderful Azalea garden.  So, nostalgically I was more than a little happy to have a yard that was cut out of a forested mountain and perfect for Rhododendrons of infinite varieties…

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We also continue to plant Columbine near our largest Azaleas & Rhododendron bed, at the front of the bed.  The bushes are growing and becoming taller than the Columbine, but is was a race the first two Springs here.

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We intend someday for the entire big bed to be all Rhododendrons & Columbine, but this year some Forget-Me-Nots made their way into the mix and the blue was kind of nice.  Now I will probably never get rid of them, either because they will come back naturally, or because I see something I like in it.  It’s easier to be flexible and accept a happy accident.

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We have another area where we have planted shorter Azaleas, a few different Hydrangeas (Wow, Limelight is gorgeous), Taller Elderberry plants in the back to screen the neighbors yard and more Heuchera varieties in the front.  We are also integrating some Spring flowering bulbs here and there.  It’s a work in progress and some other interesting things sometimes come up there in the weeds, which we are constantly after.  There is something that grows around here that is kind of fern like and has delicate little pink flowers and a root system that will choke the life out of anything nearby.  Don’t be fooled by the appearance of delicacy, it too can be a terrible illusion.

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We have a wonderful large deck off of our kitchen.  I grow herbs right next to the door so I can grab what I want when I am cooking.

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I also grow a collection of cocktail tomatoes in a barrel there.  I have to plant early to have any success at all.  The growing season is short here and I am better off starting with hothouse plants than seedlings.  This year, Dan painted the deck in the early fall and extended the pergola to support a sunshade on the far side.  I love it out here.

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This is a view of an area that Dan cleared with a little help from me.  There were trees, abandoned stumps, blackberries that had to be ripped out, and  native ferns, which we cut back and kept.  We planted a bag of 100 daffodils where we could see them from the windows and companion planted wildflowers, way to thickly it turns out.  We got an enormous truckload of 4-way topsoil mix and it was a job spreading that stuff out.  We keep doing that as we progress through the yard.  Everything in life needs fertilizer and healthy soil or an equivalent.  I love my red wheel barrow.  It makes me think of Dr. Williams:

The Red Wheelbarrow

William Carlos Williams

so much depends
upona red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

The Perennial Garden

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This is my favorite part of the garden.  I love how these plants demonstrate seasonality so clearly.  The red Bee Balm in the front of this picture I started with a small three inch pot.  I planted it the first year I moved here by the walk, and we have since divided it numerous times, planting it in a mixed row with Ribbon Grass and varieties of Lavender: right next to a dusty road that goes down to the lake.  It catches the dust and draws lots of buzzing bees and hummingbirds.  Behind it here are Irish Eyes Rudbeckia and Black Eyed Susans, next to it Catmint and Day Lilies in a variety of pinks, mauve, peach.  Love them!  There are also lambs ears.  I found one variety I adore that has prehistoric looking huge leaves.  I also have a very green type that has gorgeous coral bell like flowers.  I have scattered a few of these here and there.

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Here are Blue Salvia, Iris, & a closer look at the Irish Eyes.  I think these pictures are from 2006, from the looks of the tiny rocks beside the bed above.  Those have been somewhat improved with rocks I collect when we go to Lummi Island.  All kinds of amazing rocks wash up on the shore there.  We also dig some up as we develop our beds.  We have found some one and two man sized rocks.  We are collecting and sorting the rocks and using them in the landscape where we can.

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2006 – A view over the crazy assed Cosmos in the wild flower garden.

2008 Fall Front Deck

The deck was reworked and stained along with the trim on the house this Fall.  I love the new color palette.  The Huechera along the walk is a gorgeous mix of dark exemplars and looks amazing in bloom and is colorful most of the year.


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This Dahlia blew my mind.  The blooms were as big as my husband’s noggin!  I have to cut them when it begins to rain because the stems can’t support the weight of the flowers wet.

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Here are a few more Dahlias with the Cosmos that were on steriods in 2006.

Drunk Driver Intervenes in Our Garden Plan

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We are gardening away this grass little by little.  That is our overall plan.  No grass unless decorative in nature.  No lawn mowing someday.  The apple tree is no longer in the yard.  A drunk driver took it out in the middle of the night.  It had gorgeous green pie apples.  There is always a certain amount of violence involved in gardening, one might say, but this is not the way to go about it!

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In September 2006, just after the bottom floor of our house flooded with hot water for four days while we were away, a drunk driver careened through the garden and hits a tree, digging up the onions, murdering acorn squash & cucumbers, & misses the pole beans on the right.  We were in the midst of figuring out what we had lost in the flood when this happened.  It was stunning, to say the least.

Note the apple tree he took down to the ground on his way over to hit the much larger fir tree.  We got $1500 from the insurance company and kept on gardening.  If you look at the grass you can see the tracks where the vehicle exited our yard between the trees.  We now have a Gala Apple, a grafted Plum tree that includes Satsuma and some kind of pollinator,  and an Australian Bartlett Pear.  No fruit yet.

This Is Just To Say

by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

and which

you were probably


for breakfast

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

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This is my favorite lawn ornament, no not the hummingbird feeder, Dan the Man!  The man takes out stumps for God’s sake!

Future Meditation Garden Area

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Someday I hope to have  meditation garden amidst these trees…in the meantime we keep it clean and natural forest.

Shade Garden

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This is my grandson standing in front of our shade garden  in 2006.  This area has been developed quite a bit more since this picture was taken.

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We added a Cornus ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ Dogwood to the shade garden this year.   This is the classic white-flowering dogwood you see in gardens and parks everywhere in the Pacific Northwest in Spring.   ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ grows to about 25 feet by about 20 feet wide, so this will give us a bit of privacy in our back yard too.   So beautiful, and I can look out of my bathroom window or from the deck to see it.  There are a mixed collection of small Azaleas such as impeditum variety, Geraniums, Jacob’s Ladder, native ferns, varieties of Astilbe, varieties of Hosta, and some lime green Winter blooming Helleborus.

I will end this post here because it has gone on so much longer than I ever meant it to go.  Life is like that in the garden, time disappears when you work in a garden doing things that you love, the work is challenging and worthwhile, it reveals so much about life, and yet, life still remains a mystery  no matter how much you learn.  Like some of the things that volunteer in the garden here and there, mysteries.  Some are gifts, some are weeds.   In the Winter, there are catalogs and so much that can be learned in preparation for the next growing season.  I love it all.

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