Thursday, July 27, 2006

back deck

" know the flowering is first of all to know that nothing abides." -- Zeami

The sun
Is blinding
Dizzy golden, dancing green
Through the
park in the afternoon
Wondering where the hell
I have been
~~ from Cracking, by Suzanne Vega

reading myths

I finished Joseph Campbell's "Myths..." while enjoying my morning coffee. Who knew I'd be laughing out loud? Anyway, I found his reaction to the second moon landing very amusing.

Campbell was totally disgusted at the time of the first manned flight around the moon by the reading broadcast down to us. Selected from Genesis ( "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form and void..."), I'd have to agree that it hardly related to what the astronauts were actually seeing! I much preferred the poetry of the Italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti published in Epoca in celebration of the first moon landing. I can see the image still of that photograph of the blue and green earth rising beyond the silent lunar landscape!!
Che fai tu, Terra, in ciel?
Dimmi, che fai, Silenziosa Terra?

Is there anybody who cannot remember where they were at the time of the first lunar landing?
I was fourteen, in Rome with a church youth group on a tour of Europe. We were staying in a hostel on the outskirts of Rome. The hostel was operated by nuns. On that night, we were all in the basement cafeteria, watching television, watching the astronauts landing on the moon, watching Neil Armstrong's foot cautiously touching the dusty surface and then watching the two astronauts' bounding gait as they carried out their tasks, planted the American flag...The nuns in the black and white garb and all of us Canadians were dancing about too, hugging each other.


Somehow, heroine sounds tragic, (or like a Harlequin romance) whereas I actually want to describe myself as heroic -- a hero -- today! I mowed the lawn, all of it, this afternoon, not just one half at a time, as I have before. Anybody who knows me, knows I hate to mow the lawn. Of all the gardening chores, mowing the lawn has to be the one I actually hate. I rather enjoy almost everything (anything!) else in the garden.

-- just kidding! This is not actually the lawn that I mowed. It's one of the hayfields, the one directly opposite my front door, actually.


A lily -- I'm pretty sure it's "Stargazer"-- which was hiding under the Purple-flowering raspberry, Rubus odoratus. A dwarf relative of it, Baked-apple berry or Cloud-berry, R. chamaemorus, only 12" tall, with a solitary white flower and therefore, a single amber-coloured berry, is found from New England northward into Canada. I have fond memories of getting the rare jar of Baked-apple berry jam once in a while, from my ex-mother-in-law, in Newfoundland. It also grows in Finland too. And I believe in Finland it's called lakkamarja.

A heuchera, probably "Purple Palace" with hydrangea and a hosta in the background.

A pretty daylily that was here before I moved in. Anybody have any idea what variety it might be? Help me out.

Isn't this gorgeous? Another daylily that was already here before I moved in. No idea what it is. Can anybody help?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I'm in the middle of Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton, and Myths to Live By, How we re-create ancient legends in our daily lives to release human potential, by Joseph Campbell. Notice, that in contrast, I stayed up into the wee hours of the night, in a couple of sittings, finished Ann-Marie MacDonald's novel Fall On Your Knees.

Novels consume me. I can't put them down. I find reading other types of books is much easier on me. I can dawdle. I can mull them over. Not with novels. I can't take my time with novels. I'm obsessed with finding out what happens next, how it all ends!

screen doors

Last summer, we discovered that our dogs can slide open the light-weight screen door of the sliding doors in the "new addition" part of our house. When they could not slide it open, they persistently scratched at the screen until they tore it and popped into the house through the hole. So, I replaced the torn plastic screen with heavy-duty metal screening.

That was fine, but the dogs persisted at clawing at the screen to the point that by pushing at the screen enough so that the rubbery "piping" that holds the screen in the track pops out, the screen lets go of the frame and the dogs sneak into the house the metal screen has little claw-made holes in it...

The dogs seem particularly eager to come in when a storm is approaching, or in the evening if the mosquitoes are very bad.

When I purchased new screening at our local Home Hardware, the salesperson told me he has a couple of large hunting dogs (I forget the breed now), who routinely charged right through the screen when they spotted some interesting prey in the yard, squirrels, chipmunks, etc, BAM! A big hole in his screen door, again and again. He ended up installing bars across the screen door. That seems like a good idea, but he could not tell me where I could obtain the kit he was talking about, and I have no idea if it would be compatible with the doors I have or if I'm prepared to actually drill holes into this door to install bars which I imagine obstruct the view! Besides, I rent this place, and drilling holes into doors might be going too far, eh?

Well, I guess I'm just resigned to having to replace the screen again eventually.

septic systems

In the country, or wherever you are not connected to municipal/government sewage systems, many people rely on septic systems. We are having a problem with ours, as I mentioned. For now, the tanks were pumped out. Apparently, the next steps will be, with a Health Department permit, for someone to dig so that a new drain/leach field system can be laid.

what's new in the garden?

space-alien inflorescences of hardneck garlic "Music".

Thai basil "Siam Queen", pimiento pepper "Fire Cracker", and at left, rhubarb. The newspaper mulch I laid in the path to keep weeds down is visible under some hay at the top of the photo.

an unnamed variety of muskmelon: first fruit

garlic harvest, "Inchelium Red", a softneck garlic. I think the all the bulbs might have grown larger if they were all planted in full sun, as only half of them were.


I'm struggling to keep the weeds down. I like wide pathways in the garden so that I can trundle my wheelbarrow around easily. But all that unplanted space invites weeds unless you have some way of suppressing them. Hay as a mulch works, but not 100%. So, my next step -- which probably should have been the first step -- is laying down 6-10 sheets of newspaper in my pathways, then over it, laying the hay.

And you know what's great? Hay, chipped bark, leaf mold and compost can be hard to find, involves time and effort to make, or if you go out and buy it, it's expensive. But newspapers? I'm finding that the local corner store is often very glad to give you yesterdays' old papers. I have obtained stacks and stacks that way!

Monday, July 24, 2006


I visited my son again this weekend, and remembered just before sunset to run out and snap a few pictures of the innovative garden behind his apartment building. I mentioned this garden before; my son pointed it out to me the last time I visited him. (And my son is not a gardening enthusiast -- he just finds the methods and results are impressive.) This guy in the apartment building behind my son's building has simply piled soil right on top of the blacktop in a corner of the parking lot. As you can see, he has quite a productive garden!

My son was a little nervous as I discreetly snapped my pics: "What if he comes out to see what you're up to?"

"I kind of hope he does, so I can talk to this guy. I think this garden is great!"

But, no such luck. I snapped my pics undisturbed.

skein winder/yarn reel

My "new" old skein winder.

Actually, what I have is a skein winder or yarn reel. It would be used once you have spun and plied some yarn. You can then wind a skein of yarn directly from the spinning wheel.

Yarn reels vary in circumference. Most are 2 or 2 1/2 yards around and make a skein of the same size. Some reels have a counter that clicks or marks each revolution so that you can determine your total yardage.

To wind a skein you can simply use your forerm, winding between your elbow and tumb; you can use a niddy-noddy or a skeiner stick (like a niddy-noddy, but with parallel crossbars); you can use a cookie sheet, or board; or you can use a swift (which would more often be used to hold a skein while you wind a ball of yarn.)

thyme walk in progress

Initial direction of the pathway -- it wasn't working for me! The worn grass indicates the path people and dogs take most naturally, so let's go with that instead!

Adjusted path so that the stones fall along the line of the path worn in the grass already.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

cow-paths & thyme-walks

Did I mention that I started constructing a "thyme walk"? I didn't think it through all that thoroughly: initially, I did not realize that I was proceeding in a perpendicular direction from the patio (a left brain approach). Then, the aerial view from an upstairs window showed me the problem with that. The actual path everyone takes when heading from the patio around the back of the greenhouse is not a straight perpendicular path -- it's more like a curving cow-path. And from the upstairs window I could see that the path worn in the grass was not what I was initially following in my building project, but appeared to me to be more user-friendly.

I remember my mother often made the comments when we were driving on any curving, twisting road that it must have been built to follow a cow-path.

My philosophy is that you can't fight the natural inclination of path-walkers; you only end up with worn grass at corners etc where people and dogs take short-cuts. So, I ended up revising the shape of the path, hopefully taking a more intuitive/right brain aproach. I think it's an improvement.

visiting the big city

As I rarely go into the city these days, it was a treat to pop in to IKEA, yesterday. I went in search of several things: inexpensive ideas for window treatments, lamps, tables for the living room, etc. I enjoyed myself immensely. The big solution for a coffee table ended up being one of the little tables which goes very well as a support under this huge piece of glass that I already had.

On the way home, I stopped off to pick up some groceries in Mount Albert. Tootling along through the aisles, I rounded the corner and nearly collided my cart into the cart of a very handsome man. Ah, me...Maybe I should have been more aggressive....I mean assertive... :)

My little table went together like a dream, like I find most IKEA stuff does, and will serve quite nicely as a handsome base for my glass coffee-table.

Oh! I almost forgot. I stopped off at an antique shop along the way and found a wool winder. It's kinda cute.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

sedum, dust, bats & cats

The mystery sedum is S. alboroseum medio-variegatum (I discovered I had kept the tag after all, when I was weeding that bed the other day), next to Geranium 'Orion'.

There's another sedum all over the place here that has self-seeded, even in the woods. I don't know what that one is -- my guess would be S. spectabile. The only other sedum that I have is S. 'Matrona', a lovely one with purplish leaves.

What am I reading? I'm re-reading The Seven Storey Mountain, by Thomas Merton. Can you tell that I have been moving my books around again? As I said, I'm the world's worst cleaner-upper because I end up fondly reminiscing or re-reading books that, even though I looked at them every day in their previous spot, now look different (?almost new) as I clean up and re-arrange things.

I also found, amongst some sheet music, a small poster that my youngest daughter made in grade school. It's impossible for me to say how old she might have been when she made this, but it gave me a little charge to come across it. Try as I might, I have been unable to upload it here...sometimes a dial-up connection is soo...o.o.o irritating!! So you'll just have to imagine how it looks: the green world in the middle, little people around the perimeter and a rah-rah eco-aware slogan...naw, that's not satisfying at all, is it?

There is a thudding and banging going on in the basement. Somehow, a bat has found it's way into the basement and can't find it's way out...any attempt I make to 'guide' it back outside only results in it hiding itself away in some wee cranny or another. As soon as I give up and go back upstairs, the bat resumes its banging and thudding about against the duct work and windows. That sets the dogs to barking... Great, huh? Suggestions, anyone?

I believe a cat might be helpful here. Speaking of which, a cat would probably help me deal with the chipmunks in the greenhouse too!

An odd wrinkle in timing prevented me from acquiring one, actually. My friend Kim had three kittens to find homes for. They were weaned towards the end of June. I wanted one of them, but I thought it might be a smoother transition if one of the kittens came to live with me after Ann moves out. They were becoming very rambunctious and Kim phoned me to ask if I could take one or more, sooner -- or now! But my phone has started doing funny things after we've had rain...I can't hear anything but the person on the other end can hear me just fine!! By the time I retrieved my messages, Kim had phoned again and left a message to say she just had to find a home now and already did so for all three. Thus, sorry, I am out of luck.

Perhaps it's all for the best, after all, because I am busy planning that trip to Ethiopia with my son. Maybe acquiring a cat is better done after I have returned from my trip. I mean, who ever ends up being kind enough to babysit my animals while I'm gone might appreciate that: a cat is pretty independent, but a kitten is ... very busy playing, usually at night!

One hot summer a few years ago, I was rudely awakened many times from a sound sleep by ten kitten-claws grabbing my feet through the sheets.`Once, I was so startled by the pain that I kicked violently, the kitten went flying and struck the wall across the room! By that time, I was more awake and felt terrible. The kitten however, was none the worse for wear.

Caspar lives with my youngest daughter now. He has always been the most demanding cat, talking and chattering and pushing, until you fed him, or petted him or played with him. He decides if he's awake, everybody else must wake up too. Then he makes a lot of noise until somebody gets up. No point in just checking his food or water, because what he wants is for you to get up and do something interesting, something that will entertain him.

He enjoys being petted so much that he quite forgets himself, rolling onto his back, thoroughly enjoying being massaged and loved, totally blissed out. Once, when Caspar was being scratched and petted by my son, he got so into it, he forgot that he was perched on the piano. As he started to roll over to get a real belly rub, he fell right off. If you could have seen the expression on his face...

Monday, July 10, 2006


One of the treats I look forward to in our northern lakes is the appearance of the Fragrant Water Lily, Nymphea odorata. Even as a kid, splashing about in the lakes during our all-too brief summers, these lilies, glistening white on the surface of the dark boggy waters, with their luxurious perfume warmed by the sun, tugged at mysterious places in my heart. Chances are the waxy white blossoms and the heavy scent had transported me from my familiar banged up canoe to some amazonian jungle as I watched dancing shafts of sunshine slicing through the murky waters around the lilypads. Of all the wild-flowers of my memory, perhaps these waterlilies seem the most exuberantly flamboyant, even exotic. Most of the other northern wildflowers of my memory seem to be much more modest and retiring.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

what's going on

One of my pots on the back deck.

Here's a group of greatly contrasting foliage: a golden hops vine, a lovely lemony creeping thyme, and the spiky foliage of a purple bearded iris, the name of which I don't know, that I moved from another spot in the garden. I bought several more thymes, yesterday, to extend the plantings into the pathway from the patio around the greenhouse.

A nice variegated sedum and geranium "Orion", which here looks a little too blue. I think it's a bit more purple in real life.

reading & cheesecake

As Ann's stuff is being sold, given away or packed, the house is developing new empty spaces and I'm gradually moving most of my library downstairs.

I'm the silliest of tidy-uppers there ever was. As I come across things I haven't seen, or really looked at, in a while (things look different, fresh in a way, when you re-arrange them), I am compelled to re-read some of the books I have owned for many years.

So there I was, re-reading Finding Flow In Everyday Life, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 1997, already enjoying myself immensely, when in comes Ann, returning from her supper out with friends, bearing a plate with a slice of cheesecake on it for me! Surrounded with slivered almonds, topped with whipped cream and a fresh strawberry dipped in chocolate....need I say more?

daydreaming about travel

I spent several hours in the last couple of days, happily reading the posts on the message boards from people who have recently traveled to Ethiopia. It's a very helpful pastime, actually. I found out all sorts of things, like how long it takes for the yellow fever vaccine, to "take "-- 10 days -- and suggestions on why giving things to the kids who surround one and beg in many third world countries isn't the best idea (and what to do instead).

There are still a million details to work out. But I trust we'll get them done.


Weeds are going mad in the garden. I'm hunting up all the old newspaper we have lying around to try to keep the weeds in the pathways down. I plan to lay it under the hay that is there now.

Lots of tomatoes and peppers have set fruit and are ripening nicely. No, not one sign of the corn or squash or some of the beans. ( Did I tell you I think I was robbed?)

Putting bird netting up saved the newly emerging stalks and leaves of the climbing beans from being eaten, however, for which I'm glad!

I'm also harvesting the garlic, zucchini and herbs (thai basil, lemon balm, cilantro).

There was a time I used to swear that I hated mowing the lawn....well, maybe I don't exactly hate it, but it's still not one of my favorite things to do. The lawn does look better this evening, pretty cool, I do say! I was able to do all of the front bit, but ran out of gas when I was about to do the back. Feeling too lazy to run out to get the gas, I helped Ann bring in the stuff that didn't sell in her yard sale, instead.

After a nice hot shower, my favorite (easy) supper and a couple cups of coffee , I have revived a bit. I might even get that back bit mowed tomorrow.

Easy veggie taco salad:

Crush a handful of corn chips or nacho chips on a plate. Top with several spoonfuls of canned red kidney beans or black beans (or chili, if you prefer). Sprinkle with grated cheese. Pop into the microwave until cheese melts. (youngest daughter prefers to heat beans with taco spice-mix in small saucepan and ladles that over the chips.)

Top with shredded lettuce, chopped red onions, tomatoes, cilantro, avacado, slices of jalapeno pepper, etc. (here you do whatever you like).

A few dollops of your favorite salsa, sour cream and ... enjoy!

stinky dog!

Look at that innocent sleepy face. Hard to believe that this little girl loves to find the most disgusting piles of (whatever...) and roll in it. Remember that our landlords rent out fields to a guy who has beef cattle here. And remember that our septic recently developed problems too, so the top of the tanks and the vent were exposed and there was a little black goo to be seen around the vent.

Oh yes! I came home from work last Thursday night, looking forward to several days of great weather for gardening. However, whatever she had been into, I could not sleep with that stinky mutt before washing her first. I thought it was a little better, but kept getting whiffs of oooooh boy! all night long.

So, I thought laundering my quilt, sheets and pillowcases would solve that problem, thinking maybe she had already gotten the stink into the bed, etc before I got home.

Then, yesterday, she went for a little swim and visited the cows again! She came home smelling very high. Always around the neck and behind the ears, isn't it? A really thorough bath this time and then I realized that her collar was Stin-Ky beyond repair. Into the garbage with that! Now....maybe...I'll be able to tolerate her warm little body snuggled against me again.

Friday, July 07, 2006

hurting men

Chris Kreussling of who writes about gardening at the Flatbush Gardener blog, kindly pointed out that what I set up on my computer, may not look the same on your computer -- hopefully I have fixed that problem!

So I had to satisfy my curiosity as to who Chris Kreussling was, of course, and visited his very interesting and informative blog. It seems many of his concerns are similar to mine, particularly as to how we can live (and garden) without making too much of a detrimental impact on the natural world around us.

I was also very interested in Chris' website.

It wrenches my heart that we as human beings can inflict so much pain on each other. Although not directly related to the abuse of men/boys, I couldn't help but marvel at the coincidence that I have just been re-reading Stiffed, The Betrayal of the American Man, by Susan Faludi (William Morrow and Co., Inc., New York, 1999). Very well documented, this book points out the many ways in which both men and women, but particularly men, feel cheated by their world and its economic and historical forces. Both men and women have been pushed into roles which have very little to do with what they might have been able to contribute if their society allowed.

Faludi points out ways in which nearly everyone feels disempowered in our society today in some way. Like a cornered animal, often the greatest cruelties are perpetrated upon others by those who are the most fearful and insecure, and are therefore unaware and have a diminished capacity for empathy. Yet Faludi argues that the paradigm of confrontation that disempowered groups coopted from men has limitations, particularly in dealing with what men themselves are feeling! That's why there is such a great deal at stake " in the liberation of the one population uniquely poised to discover and employ a new paradigm -- men." It's a fascinating book!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


I just posted on my other blog where I don't go as often, if you're interested in reading another rant from me on sexually (and otherwise) limited thinking in our society :)
See "spirit doors" under my thoughts on dharma in the sidebar on the right.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Last Friday evening, I came home from grocery shopping to find this 'porker' (aka porcupine) crossing the laneway. Thanking the fairies that Molly was tied to her special tree, I got out of the car to have a closer look.

The porker scurried to the largest tree in it's path, only to discover that it was merely a stump which put him eye to eye with his pursuer -- ie, ME! I could have reached out and touched it. Shaking with fear, you can see he/she is not too happy with me.

So, it had to back down and keeping the stump between us, it ran off to the next closest trees.

By the time I stumbled over some fallen trees and nearly brained myself with a standing dead sapling that I thought I could grab to balance myself, I caught only the retreating view of the porker, escaping up the tree.

We had a guest this past weekend, Julie Coombs, an old friend of my housemate's. Ann very correctly describes her as a dynamic, 'connected' person, on the leading-edge of creative abundance and technology. Check out some of her photos of our old farm-house next door to Millionaire Row on Sturgeon Point and the Fenelon Falls locks on the Trent Severn waterway!

Julie mentions good conversation, wine, self-aware and self-empowered women. I was privileged to participate, share and listen in on that on Friday evening! Just a little heads up: be ready, because I'm sure you will be hearing more from each one of us, very soon!

thrilling gifts of Nature

Here are some of the thrilling things I've seen recently in my travels in this region of Canada. I intentionally do not reveal the exact locations because picking/collecting beautiful wild flowers must be done responsibly and some of these plants are in danger of disappearing forever.

Tall meadow rue, Thalictrum polugamum, grows in swamps, streamsides and meadows. Here, virgin's bower, Clematis virginiana, is twining itself up and through the tall stemps of the meadow rue.
Showy lady's slipper, Cypripedium reginae, growing in a swampy, moist, woodsy area near Fenelon Falls is the tallest and most beautiful of our northern native orchids.

Yellow pond lily, Nuphar variegatum, in a stream. In the far background, the Fragrant water lily, Nymphata odorata, is barely visible.