Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Landscape at OHSU

Reflecting pool at OHSU

Almost 2 weeks since my last post. I know that's not a great way to start, but even I can't believe it. We are having gorgeous sunny weather and I still have not planted my containers. Look at my post on March 20th, and that is what my deck looks like now. Except my kale is bolting.

My dad's illness has changed my schedule as well as my mom's and my two sisters. Since he went into the rehab facility we've tried to split 'shifts' so that one of us is around and we can schedule things in our own lives. Dad came home last Sunday and despite having 2 weeks to plan for it we were not all that ready. We are still scrambling with food, furniture and our own sloppy emotions. Don't get me wrong, we are accomplishing quite a bit, just not in a streamlined fashion. I don't think my dad expected anything else.

My dad was admitted to OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University) in late March. I've lived in or near Portland, Oregon since the late 80's and had never been there. I counted that as a blessing because OHSU is home to some big deal hospitals for people who are really sick. The one I'm most familiar with is the Doernbecher Children's Hospital, considered one of the best children's hospitals in the US.

My dad couldn't be placed in any of the 3 Kaiser hospitals, so he got a room at OHSU in the bone marrow transplant ward. After walking a series of maze-like hallways, taking different elevators we then had to phone the nurses to get in, then wash hands, then wear a mask into his room. It felt dramatic and scary, and I truly feel for the patients there.

The thing that struck me as odd at OHSU is the lack of landscape or plant material. The campus receives a lot of money, some halls of the Kohler Pavillion were like a museum to different forms of artwork. But, there is no landscaping at the entrance, no open space, and relatively little green space. Dad's building had a 2 story patio with steel chairs and artwork of wildlife.

When we went out onto the 9th floor patio, it seemed that the emphasis was more on the scenic views of Portland. This was the only plant space I could find so I was happy to settle for it.

Chris looking at the before (1851) and after photos of the city.

The campus seemed like a small city unto itself, the people were very nice and the staff were exceptional. I can say that Chris got me to ride the tram - twice (it rocks, literally). After 5 days it felt like an accomplishment to finally figure out my way around there. And, on the day dad was discharged my sister and I finally found the Starbucks (Doernbecher lobby).

My word for the year is Gratitude...
The reason I picked this word is because sometimes it's hard for me to feel grateful.
I put it here at the end of my blog so that I would be consistently thinking about gratitude.
Being at OHSU and the convalescent center where dad went next, gratitude slaps you in the face. 

Today I'm grateful for:
my health and (relative) youth. 
Coming home to my cat and sleeping in my bed each night.
For a social worker's comment on how our family cares and that is not always the case.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Gardening as a Gift

I haven't posted on this blog since March 20th. I'm not sure when I will sit down and do a regular post, but I wanted to check in and let you know why I've been gone, and why I may not post too often.

In January my dad was diagnosed with Leukemia. He is my #1 reader, so I've never mentioned it here, because it's personal. Last week he was admitted to a hospital in Portland, where he stayed for 5 days. Tuesday he was moved to a rehab facility here in Vancouver, WA.

All I can say is that if you've been in this situation, you understand.

If you haven't it's hard to comprehend the emotional, exhausting, and very frustrating roller coaster ride he and my family are on. Any family would struggle with illness, insurance benefits, advocating for a loved one, and let me be frank, dealing with family members you don't even like. But, we are a step-family and that just adds another dimension to it all.

Yesterday I thought I'd try to write a post, opened Blogger and discovered a message from someone on 3/21 (2 weeks ago). She was contacting people who follow Granny's Family Garden blog. Recently "Granny" announced that she had cancer, and wasn't sure she'd continue with her blog or garden. Several people rallied together and came up with "Gardening for Granny". People who follow her blog wanted to give her something back and came up with the idea to share inspiring gardens with her.

I invite you to read the post and join if you like. Just click on the link above or the image in my sidebar. Please share the button on your own page. 

If you'd like to follow "Granny's" blog you can find it here:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Cleaning

It's the first day of Spring, and it was cold. Frost overnight, but sunny. Yesterday I went to the store and forgot my list. I remembered everything from the nursery and about half from the grocery store.

I went to the nursery prepared to fight off any urges for splashy flowers and stick to my list. I got two coco husk liners for my largest hanging baskets, a bag of moisture retention potting soil, and a few veggies. They were even on sale. Lettuce, kale, radish (already growing), peas, and a poppy. The poppy wasn't on my list and I don't have a designated spot for it.

I placed one set of veggies on the upper deck, forgot the other in the garage. When I got up this morning I could see frost on the ground. Luckily the veggies are close to the house, but probably more exposed than at the nursery. We shall see what happens, still have another month before last frost.

Today I carried the bags of potting soil upstairs.  They are small bags so I intend to mix them together and add some compost. Last year I used coco liners that had a plastic sheet for water retention. I realized later that they could serve as a troughs in the rain. This year I bought plain ole coconut liners and I'll try a different soil and see how they do.

I finally placed the new railing basket liners and really wanted to plant them.  These two planters will have the shallow plants like lettuce and kale. The two deeper planters (above) will be used for larger plants in late spring.

But the railings are dirty with black and green mold splotches. Despite wanting to plant I know I need to clean the deck first (great way to kill my initial excitement).

Tomorrow when I visit my parents I plan to get my sprayer and use it with a bleach and water mix. I've lived here for over three years and have tried several products to clean the railing. Every single year. If you see this type of fencing at a potential rental or new house, you can count on cleaning it every single year here in the northwest.

Gratitude is my word of the year.

Today I'm grateful for:
sun (even when it's cold out)
coffee (hot or iced)
my job, even though it can be ridiculous at times
siblings who are more capable than I'd thought
old family photos, funny and thought provoking.