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On Thanksgiving day, I tackled a project that I’d put off for months: Making jam. Mind you, I didn’t wake up that morning thinking, “Today, I’ll make jam.” Rather, as I stood in my living room and watched the gusty, nor’westerlies pluck wavetops from the channel and parade them, sandstorm-li…

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Thanksgiving is around the corner and since cooler weather has driven us indoors, many of us are noticing our houseplants for the first time. So it’s time to talk about one of Kodiak’s favorite indoor plants: The Christmas cactus.

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My apologies. Little did I know that last week’s column, which began with, “Since winter is tippy-toeing ever closer with each passing day,” that I might have been responsible for the recent dump of fluffy white stuff.

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Since winter is tippy-toeing ever closer with each passing day, in today’s column I’ll be touching on an outdoor topic and an indoor gardening one. The outdoor topic will be a teaser in that I’ll talk about it more fully as I gain experience.

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Last week I listed seven remarkable qualities of compost. And then, while standing at my desk (which I can hand-crank up and down, thank you, Marty!) typing on my keyboard, I admitted that I don’t mind sounding like an evangelist. It’s easy to be a cheerleader for something that does so much.

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During last weekend’s ruffling gale, I awoke at 4 a.m. to the sound of snapping leaves outside our bedroom window. It meant the wind was whipping through the cherry tree, sucking the still-green leaves off the limbs and into the night.

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I decided to try something different this year: Bring the outdoors in. For starters, I placed a pot of red, cayenne peppers on the kitchen windowsill. Then I dug up a few clumps of Iceland poppies and re-potted them in potting soil. They now have a front-row seat in a south-facing window.

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During these times of world conflicts, climate change, and COVID, it’s easy to take life too seriously. So, I often look for excuses to giggle, laugh and smile.

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Finding a nice-sized zucchini was a pleasant surprise, what with our up and down summer. I leaned in closer (feeling a little proud), when my balloon burst. I saw a gray color — not normal for a green zucchini. It was my first clue that something was in the air. 

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Mid-summer gardening has its challenges: Weeds double in height when your back is turned. Baby crows have fledged so mom and dad dive-bomb in a protective, parenting sort of way, and armies of baby slugs have invaded the hoophouse.

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When the weather man predicts that the sun will come out, my camera often stays in. Why? Bright, sunny days are great for picnics, hiking and putzing in the garden. But they’re not so great for taking pictures of plants and people outside. Give me an overcast day and my camera and I are happ…

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“It’s been said that gardens and children need the same things — patience, love and someone who will never give up on them.” — Nicolette Sowder

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You’d think that riding your bike across the country would be a trip riddled with trials, tribulations and fears. For example: running out of water, fierce headwinds, hail, diarrhea, voracious dogs, getting run over by a truck ...

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The other day I was walking home from the Hana restaurant, where I met with friends over lunch. The trip home took me along a gravel road, houses on the left side and a steep embankment on the right.

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What can be better than the smell of cinnamon and a bowl of hot fruit topped with the right amount of crunch?

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Last week’s span of warm, clear days found island gardeners scrambling outside, perched on bended knee pulling weeds, transplanting seedlings and slaying slugs. It was a flurry of activity that reminded me of a children’s story called “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury.

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I built my first compost pile around 1986. Give or take a year. Over the years (decades — yikes!), I consider myself on intimate terms with dozens of materials, from toilet paper rolls to pineapple rinds (not recommended for the compost pile. Corncobs, either).

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You know the expression, “busy as a bee?” After watching eagles fly back and forth past our living room window from dawn to dusk, I’m more likely to say, “energetic as an eagle.”

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It was a cool day in March when I donned a warm jacket and walked up Ole Johnson Street to the Kodiak Daily Mirror office for my appointment with then-publisher Nancy Freeman.

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In the 1980s my brother Alby was the manager for the Robert Cray Band, the Grammy-Award-winning blues ensemble that started in 1974 in Eugene, Oregon. Over the years, Robert (who’s actually a bit on the shy side) and his band played with giants like Chuck Berry, Keith Richards and Eric Clapt…

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For the first time in a few weeks, the temperature climbed above 40 degrees. I don’t know about you, but my spirit climbed, too. The ground relaxed and softened, ice melted and even the crows seemed happy. With all the activity and celebration, I want to slow things down a bit. You know, tak…

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When spring arrives, gardeners take on a different posture: a slight bend at the waist and leaning forward as if hurrying away from winter. Eventually, they’ll pull out one foot, and then the other from winter’s grasp, like stepping onto hard gravel after slogging through the sulfur-smelling…

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With the equinox behind us, I like to think that spring can’t be far behind. The sun tells us so, what with it rising more to the north each day. And then you have crocus blossoms tentatively poking their heads above the ground.

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In case you missed last week’s column, I covered the basics of starting your own seedlings, beginning with containers, soil and temperature. 

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Now it’s time to get down to business. The business of starting seeds, that is. Seed-starting is not only a timely topic — as people plan ahead for the growing season — but it’s a popular one as well.

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Growing up in the rainy Pacific Northwest, I thought spring and summer couldn’t come too quickly. I often tagged along with my mother on grocery shopping trips. As we wheeled the cart around the larger-than-life bins in the produce section, Mom would pull up to the display of oranges like a …

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Now that we’re well into winter (as mild as it is), have you ever wondered how to compost during the winter, even if don’t have compost bins or a tumbler?

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Last week’s assault on our nation’s Capitol by an angry mob left me feeling shocked, ashamed and sad. For a time I, like many people, were glued to their TV sets, radios or devices. But before long I couldn’t take it anymore.

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Snow does more than brighten the landscape and encourage us to prepare for spring gardening. Snow can yield some great benefits to your soil.

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Across the nation, gardening grew by leaps and bounds in 2020. And it’s not slowing down. In fact, more than 20 million new growers picked up the trowel and pitchfork in response to the pandemic. The good news is that many newbies had such a good experience, they will be back in 2021.

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I am teaching myself how to play a 26-string harp. It’s a challenge and it’s not always pretty: My fingers aren’t as young and nimble as they used to be and I’m learning how to read music at the same time.

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For today’s column I dipped into my archives, mostly out of curiosity to see what I was writing about back in 2000. 

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When I think of holiday dinners of my youth, two things come to mind: oyster casserole (topped with crushed saltines) and a jiggling red tower of cranberry sauce. Following the example set by the grownups, I loaded my fork with what looked like an oyster and, with extreme trepidation, put it…

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As we enter Thanksgiving week in this world of COVID, I’d like to focus on a few ways we can shed a little light for ourselves, our neighbors, our community and, since this column is mostly about gardening — our gardens. So for today, I want to cover a few indoor and outdoor projects, includ…

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Can you think of a silver lining to COVID-19? It’s a challenge, what with the US continuing to set records for daily coronavirus infections. … Then, one of my newsletter subscribers from Switzerland offered a positive bent to the pandemic in this morning’s email: 

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Now that the elections are behind us, the topic of “what’s next?” is on the front burner of many tongues. I’ll let those who polish crystal balls get to work. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at what’s next in the world of ... weather. At least for the rest of 2020.