A View Into the Woods Renewing

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson

The view out of my darkened office window on June 6, 2010.


Foxgloves in the Woods


Foxgloves in the Woods 2


These views might be unremarkable except for what happened here not so long ago…


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This is what it looked like after they cut down the trees and ran over and turned their heavy equipment around on a fern covered forest floor immediately behind our house in January, 2009.


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 For more about what happened, read my post:  Toad Lake Logging: Is 80% enough for them?  


I don’t see this kind of logging any differently than I see what is going on in the Gulf of Mexico at the hands of BP and its cronies. What my neighbor’s trustee did to the woods here was only different in scale. It is kind that they have not objected to our cleaning up the mess and encouraging some wildflowers and replanting uprooted ferns to grow where they left carnage, but the woodcutters have not returned to plant trees or to remove the piles of detritus.  It was pretty clear that they would not do that work, even though the state permit requires it. They took the wood and left the debris.  There is no enforcement of rules about cleaning up after the logging process.

With their heavy equipment and giant chain saws they destroyed the gentle slope of the meadow where cattle once grazed and girls rode horses.  The path where joggers ran around the west side of the lake is gone.  They have moved on to pillage elsewhere.


Blackberries have now grown over some of the massive heap of sticks and branches they left behind, and I can only see it from the second story deck, but eventually the brambles will engulf it in berries.  It’s just about to flower and there will be lots of blackberry jams and syrups made this summer.


Foxgloves in the Woods 3

Thoreau

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Living by Toad Lake is a Seasonal Process

We live in a gorgeous brown shingled house with entwined cedars right outside the french doors to our bedroom. We see these beauties when we wake in the morning. These trees serve as a metaphor for how our lives have become involved with the four seasons, the woods and the lake since coming here.

Currently Dan is staining the trim of our house. The fascia boards and rain gutters are being painted an earthy red, the downspouts a rich brown similar to the shingles, the corner boards a dark chocolate and the soffits are a natural cedar color. The shingles wait until next year.  The rain will come again before Dan can get to that task.  We keep picking up large stones to bring back for our gardens.  The house is woodsy and warm looking, a natural for our gorgeous surroundings.  This is how it looked before the painting…

All of what we do as we live here in this lovely house involves living here consciously, appreciating the richness of what we have. Our house is surrounded by gardens  we planted and that are largely perennial.

Teaser on the deck

This is Firecat scratching the post that Dan made for him and his pal Teaser, shown above on the deck.  It’s a pretty cozy life.  My complaints are asinine.

It’s So, So Green at Toad Hollow Today …

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Cuttings (later)

This urge, wrestle, resurrection of dry sticks,
Cut stems struggling to put down feet,
What saint strained so much,
Rose on such lopped limbs to a new life?
I can hear, underground, that sucking and sobbing,
In my veins, in my bones I feel it —
The small waters seeping upward,
The tight grains parting at last.
When sprouts break out,
Slippery as fish,
I quail, lean to beginnings, sheath-wet.

Theodore Roethke


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Teaser loves to check out what’s going on down on ground level…


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While we call our home Toad Hollow, it’s also been called the house of the entwined cedars.  Behind the Aurora Dogwood is an enormous Douglas Fir.  Just beyond them up hill is a Stellar Pink Dogwood, shown in the very next photo.


Entwined Cedars & Aurora Dogwood


There is an Eddies White Wonder Dogwood in the foreground, and to it’s left is the Stellar Pink. Look at that Rhododendron color!

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The Rhododendrons are blooming one by one, we’ve bought different varieties with differing bloom times to extend the time we get to enjoy them.


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The Clematis have been blooming in successive waves and growing and growing and growing like never before up the posts that support our deck.


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My editor demands that I upload a photo of him too…


Firecat the OS Editor


There is so much to do.  This began as 15 square yards of 4-way garden soil.  It seems that we haven’t moved much of it yet …


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“Since childhood, since childhood!

Childhood is a toad in the garden, a

happy toad. All toads are happy

and belong in gardens. A toad to Diana!”

Excerpt from Romance Modern

William Carlos Williams 

Life With an Architect: Our Office is now a Guest Room Too, an Ikea Hacker Chronicle

Testing the common homily my grandmother taught me:

If a task is once begun, 

never leave it till its done. 

Be thy labor great or small, 

do it well or not at all. 

What do you do with a basement room that has retaining walls that interfere with furniture placement?  Hack Ikea’s Expedit shelving to create built in storage, and do a lot of measuring and remeasuring to make sure everything is going to fit!

I don’t have a picture of the room before we lived here, but here is one of the family room before we remodeled it which has the same conditions.

retaining walls

Ugly barely covers how poorly done this space was when be bought it!  About three years ago Dan laid Saltillo tile floors and installed newly hand finished doors in both of these spaces.

Saltillo

First a platform was built over a low retaining wall wide enough to hold the Expedit shelves and mounting strips were installed on the wall and all was painted.  We chose the Expedit size that comes packaged with the desk attached, using one with a desk and two more.  Square Parsons style legs were added to the bottom of the Expedit shelves to create the proper height to add the desk to a lower shelf than usual.

platform

Test fitting the first Expedit unit below.

Test fitting We used the long single five cubby Expedit mounted high enough to leave room for speakers beneath it to create a credenza behind the desk, and added a glass top to the desk. When we have guests, one end of the credenza serves as a nightstand for the Brimnes queen-sized guest bed.

desk completed

On the opposite wall from the office area there is another retaining wall that was about 40″ high.  We used two Lack shelves on either side of a Lack Wall Shelf Unit.  We had to shorten one shelf to make a seamless wall to wall unit.  Because the Lack shelves were mounted on a retaining wall, they were installed up side down to make the mounting brackets work.  A long thin wood shim was also installed along the front bullnosed edge of the retaining wall to keep everything level. We used a small Lack wheeled table as a printer stand and tucked it under the shelf a bit.

Lack Shelves

Now it really is both a lovely office and a comfortable guest room.

Guest room & office

And there is a laptop desk for Dan here too that can double as a dressing table for guests & a secret lair for Honey Boy & Fireboat.

Laptop Desk for Dan

More About Remodeling Toad Hollow

Don Juan Climbing Roses At Toad Hollow

DON JUAN CLIMBING ROSES AT TOAD HOLLOW

Thursday is the Spring Equinox.  In the Pacific Northwest that does not mean that anything you want to grow in your garden is doing much more than producing visible bulges on branches.  These and a few crocus are just the profligates of Spring.

Still, we bought these Don Juans, one for each post on the outside of the pergola, at the end of the Fall season at Garden Spot in Bellingham. And then, we never planted them before the rain started.  This picture was taken before that rain. The Autumn Sedum was blooming profusely.  That means the growing season is one cold snap from over.  Then the snow came and more rain, then more snow, and as always more procrastination.

Today, Dan removed the non climbing roses pink shrub roses from the pots beside the pergola and planted these in their stead.  Now we should have roses climbing up the pergola by Summer.  The older roses will be potted soon and will remain on the deck. They are cheerful and hearty little buggers. The deck is the only reliable place to grow roses where the deer on this mountain think of any rose as one of many tasty snacks. Spring comes slowly and steadily.  And none too soon.

I am looking forward to seeing roses from here.

I hope to be able to see the roses climbing from out here in the yard!