Summer Season

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Amelia's in a morning day-camp down the street three days this week. I drop her off and water the garden. Today I filled the bird feeders. Then I emptied the dishwasher, made myself a bagel with avocado, cleaned up, answered emails, and now I'm sitting down for an hour to write here before I go back and pick her up and we go up to the library. I'm having groceries delivered in time for dinner. In between things, I ship orders, etc. I'm working on a new cross stitch pattern. My mom was here yesterday afternoon and I got to work on it a lot, and I love it. My mom took Amelia to the grocery store and then made dinner for us (chicken and dumplings, my favorite) and then Mimi and I read all our library books for the last time and then I put her to bed, and then I got to play with my cross stitch pattern (it's for Christmas) for several hours before Andy got home and then I went up to bed. The days are busy. They just are. They're wonderfully busy, but they're busy.

Thank you so, so much for the Scarborough Fair skirt pattern orders and the fabric orders! I'm so excited that people are going to make that skirt. Please send me photos when you do, or tag them on Instagram (#scarboroughfairskirt, maybe?). I've heard from several people who've made it already and, I don't know, it's thrilling. I haven't heard of any problems with the pattern but if I do I'll correct it right away and send out a corrected version automatically. Please let me know if you have any questions about it, or comments, or anything.

Standing by the veggie garden, Amelia is posing as a flower. We watch our squash and pumpkins and cucumbers take over the raised bed. It's been fun and also mildly heartbreaking. So far there are only two cucumbers and two big tomatoes, and two pea pods and about seven strawberries. There are some Roma tomatoes coming, and hopefully an eggplant. The broccoli and cabbage look terrible today. Tiny, tiny white bugs all over the cabbage. I blasted them off with the hose. Need the soap spray there, I guess. It's shocking how much money and how many hours I've spent to get two cucumbers, two tomatoes, two pea pods, and seven strawberries. Sigh. Well, as they say, it keeps me out of trouble. Having a little chair to sit on between the beds sort of changes everything down there. I mean, it's just a little gardener's bench, and I don't keep it down there or anything because it would get ripped off in about five minutes (our beds are about a foot away from the street), but I drag it down there from the porch every day and sit and contemplate the squash blossoms. It's a completely different experience sitting than standing. I know I keep saying this but it's true.

This year we need 1) railings on our front stairs down to the sidewalk (if anybody has recommendations for iron railing installation, let me know) and 2) a new tree to replace the half-dead plum tree in the parkway, which has just begun its yearly assault on me personally by dropping inedible plums by the millions all over the sidewalk and stairs and making me shriek with frustration daily. The thing is so gnarly and bad. It's listing so hard it looks like it's about to fall over. It never does, but one by one its big branches just stop producing leaves and get covered with some kind of lichen and completely die off. This doesn't stop plum production, however, and they are the sourest, darkest purple plums in the world. The tree is probably original to the house, which was built in 1928. We've had several arborist dudes come out and look at it and they trim it and charge us a ton of money and it basically just looks worse and worse, not through any fault of theirs, I don't think, but it's just a troubled tree. I'm loathe to lose the shade it provides so we've been dragging our feet on this. One guy recommended we plant a Katsura tree, and that is a gorgeous tree. He also said there was a book that lists where a bunch of different trees are planted around Portland so that you can drive around and go and see them in neighborhoods and stuff but I can't remember the name of the book. Anyway, these things are on my list of stuff to get done this fall, among forty-five other things. Plant new tree and install railings. Who has the time? Insert chin-scratching emoji guy here.

Anybody reading any good library books lately? I need a page-turner that's not depressing. Anybody watching Grantchester on Masterpiece? We're only halfway through season 2 (it's on Prime, FYI) so don't tell me anything, but man. I love that show. I got the first book but I didn't like it as much as the show. The show is so good. I watched season 1 when it first came out and then I lost track of it, but recently found it again. I keep thinking about it during the day.

136 comments

That snoozing squirrel!!!

I really liked Katherine Heiney's Standard Deviation.

I can't wait to read everyone else's book suggestions!

Ask about the tree book when you go to the library.
Two recent reads that I thoroughly enjoyed:
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towle
News of the World by Paul eternal Jiles

I second A Gentleman in Moscow.

I really liked the book A Gentleman in Moscow. Subtle humor, wonderful story. I'm loving Grantchester also.

Have you ever read The Nightingale Nurses series by Donna Douglas? It is about a group of women training to be nurses beginning in 1936 London. These nurses come from all different backgrounds and the ideas of class & medical challenges weave together to create a very rich plot.

I very much enjoyed your photos in this post. Relaxing to see the river and Mimi enjoying playing in the sand.. and Dad helping. I get you on the cost of the garden.. but it does make a pretty picture in the front of your house. I'm listening to the painter on the roof putting barn red paint on the old cedar shakes up there. Our house was built in 1908 and there are like 5 different kinds of siding on it from additions over the years to the original house.. kinda funny. I look forward to seeing the different skirts your sewers are making. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Happiness for beginners by Kathrine Center. It's lighthearted yet deep.

Oh, thank you for this new (to us) series to watch! We have been looking for another British mystery to watch while we wait for more Midsomer Murders to come out. Have you watched them? SO GOOD! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midsomer_Murders

My 12 year old son and I are reading (I'm re-reading) the "Wrinkle in Time" series. I read it in 5th grade and have wanted to read the whole series and now I am!

That girl seems more & more grown up! Looks like some good family times by the water!!
About the plum tree - I know exactly what you mean. We got rid of one last year, nasty & knarly, sent suckers up all around. The plums would never get ripe enough to make anything and they were a mushy mess at leaf raking time. I don't miss it at all. Easy to cut down but have a stump removal guy get rid of the underground root ball too.
As for picking a new one - there is a list of 'approved street trees' that some cities have, you should be able to find online. What this means is they have good habits like more upright growth, the roots won't heave the ground & sidewalks, they're not known to be as messy, etc. Good Luck!
In my garden this year I just have green beans, peas, lettuce, and green peppers, chives & parsley (my carrots didn't come up at all). After summers of trying this and that, I now just stick with what grows for me and what my kiddos will eat. I love that you're experimenting with more unusual veggies!
How did you ever get that squirrel photo? You are the animal whisperer this summer!

Yes, my husband and I love Grantchester as well. I love my skirt pattern I bought from you!

Katsura trees also smell really nice and sweet in the fall. I'm thinking about planting one to replace a magnolia in our parking strip that just died from verticulum wilt :( Hopefully Friends of Trees offers katsuras...

Cynthia Potts says: July 18, 2017 at 02:15 PM

Loved "The Time In Between". Also a miniseries on Netflix, subtitled in Spanish.

As a fellow PDXer I recommend getting someone scheduled for your railing right now. We've been trying to have some work done on the house and people are just booked solid! An electrician told us recently that he's scheduled out into September right now and we can't get concrete people (people who do concrete I mean, not people who are anti-ephemeral or something) to return our calls. I feel like I'm standing here shouting "somebody take our money!"

I love the skirt pattern! Do you think it would work well sewn out of something lighter weight than quilting cotton? I'm wondering specifically about a cotton lawn.

The squirrel! Are you kidding me?

I'm enjoying reading the Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. Thank you for sharing about your garden! I always think it's just me who can't seem to get a bountiful harvest!

I am kind of convinced that you live in a mythical magic kingdom. Oh, the pictures!

Will second The Gentleman From Moscow as a book choice. And I also loved The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie. (If you read what it's about, you might not read the book--I didn't for a long, long time. But it was delightful.) And yes, Grantchester is a good one.

I just started watching Grantchester. I always like the period British shows with the charming villages & countryside..I don't know why I forget about this channel all the time (except for the great British baking show). I really liked Foyle's War.

You should read Saints for All Occasions, by J. Courtney Sullivan. It was so good. All her books are good. This one wasn't exactly upbeat at every turn, but I wouldn't call it depressing, either. Just a good story with believable characters and family relationships.

Could the tre book be "Trees of Greater Portland"? You'll find it on Amazon.

Try The Beekeepers Apprentice. It is a Sherlock Holmes spin-off with a female protagonist and I am quite enjoying it. Just ordered the next three in the series to get me through August. Do you think the skirt pattern would work in wool for winter? I love it and am looking forward to trying the pattern. :)

Grantchester is so lovely! I also recommend Endeavor.

I just finished reading Arundhati Roy's new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. It is a great story, and wonderful to immerse yourself in.

Have you ever read Dracula (yes, the 1897 one)? I weirdly freaking loved that book. I am currently reading 1491, which is non-fiction and IS sort of depressing in a lot of ways, but also really fascinating so far.

I really love to look at cities' "approved street tree" lists. They really are intended for street trees, which have different constraints than front yard trees (wait, what is a parkway?), but they tend to be well thought out and climate-appropriate and pest-resistant. Here is Portland's page - the lists are interesting and indicate features like "showy flowers" and "fall color" - https://www.portlandoregon.gov/trees/66682. Right now I cannot get enough of crape myrtles, which go crazy in the Bay Area in the summer.

I really like the Grantchester series as well. It's refreshing to watch a British series where a vicar is complex and compelling (and very handsome!)

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About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.