Wednesday, June 28, 2006

things that please me

Monday, June 26, 2006

peonies shattered


This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open ---
pools of lace,
white and pink ---
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities ---
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again ---
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?
--Mary Oliver

pretty growing things

blossoms of an old mock-orange bush which fills the air right now with sensuous perfume

the little daylily "Siloam June Bug"

shrub rose, "Golden Wings " and geranium "Orion"
early meadow rue, Thalictrum dioicum and maidenhair fern, Adiantum pedatum

adventures in babysitting

June 10, 2006: pick Kaylee from school at 3:30 p.m.. Drop off her back-pack/bookbag/knapsack (Gramma can't remember what Kaylee calls it!) at home, trying not to wake Daddy. Daddy wakes up anyway and comes down to chat. Gramma and Kaylee drive to the Second Marsh on Lake Ontario.

"Hey, Gramma! Are you taking a picture of me?"

"Gramma, is this a good stone for skipping?"

"I have to pee real ba-a-ad! No, I can't wait until we get home. Gramma! I have to go right now!"

"I've never peed in the woods before! Tee-hee-hee! A deer might walk through the forest and step right where I peed, right Gramma? Tee-he-he-hee-heee!"

Daddy couldn't sleep anyway and mowed the lawn and weeded the front flower beds while we were gone! Daddy is going to work his last shift at his old job in Markham tonight. He starts a new job next week. Mommy is in school and has a class to go to after work this evening.


I found this on my walk down the laneway with the dogs one afternoon last week. Imagine my surprise as I drove down the laneway on my way to visit my son yesterday, wondering if I would be lucky enough to catch him home, when I spotted another, a twin to the feather above! I braked, backed up and picked it up, of course. I gave the twin to my son.

black bean salad

Black Bean Salad

This salad evolves from differing ingredients each time I make it, but reportedly ends up tasting the way my kids expect it to each time. I guess it's because I concentrate on the fresh cilantro, hot peppers and garlic as the main notes of flavor.

Roughly, here it is:

Equal amounts of frozen corn niblets and cooked black beans. (I rinse canned black beans but if you like the broth, you can discard only a part of it, or none of it.)

Chopped red onion, celery, tomatoes, red or orange or green sweet pepper. If you want to soften the celery a bit by blanching it in boiling water, it's good too. I sometimes add chopped carrots softened this way. I like making this salad a colourful as I can. I added a few chopped radishes the last time I made this salad.

The dressing is a mixture of chopped fresh or canned hot peppers, or ground hot peppers with a spash or two of a good olive oil and white wine vinegar. The last time I made this, I added lots of President's Choice "Memories of Patagonia Herb & Garlic Chimichurri Sauce" and "Fire Eaters Peppermill Mix", a blend of dried hot peppers by The Cape Herb & Spice Company.

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

After I stir and taste a bit, I stir in last of all, lots of fresh chopped cilantro leaves, a clove or two of fresh garlic, minced fine, and a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Great picnic food with corn chips.


Here's proof that I had a strawberry day-before yesterday, about ready to eat, that was stolen!!

in limbo

I have been having this strange feeling of being in limbo for the last couple of weeks. As Ann's furniture disappears (sold or given away), and the house is taking on a strange new emptiness, I find myself treading water, emotionally and physically unable to take any sensible action. Isn't that odd? It's as if I cannot do anything until I have a blank slate, or at least a slate that isn't in the midst of undergoing radical changes anymore.

This is not referring only to the concrete changes in the configurations of the furnishings of my house. No, I seem to be frozen in motion in almost every other facet of my life. And that is frustrating to me! It would make sense that I cannot start moving my furniture about and finding new decor for my physical surroundings. That is natural, as Ann is still in the process of moving out. But why have other aspects of my life ground to a halt, as if I'm in a holding pattern?

The parts of the vegetable garden that are succeeding, are succeeding wonderfully. It seems everything is early by weeks this year, tomatoes, potatoes, etc. But I have been disappointed by the peas, as already mentioned, and then corn and beans that have failed to sprout...(old seed? dug up by birds and squirrels?) I put up bird netting to try to keep out the raiders, but even then, a little strawberry ripening in my newly planted patch was stolen! Yes, the one in the photo it is taking me about 15 tries to upload here!

Seems to be a happy season for the farmers in our area. A dairy farmer acquaintance said he has already nearly doubled his average annual hay crop from just the first cut thus far! We seem to be getting almost the perfect balance of warm weather and rain.

I spent a couple of days last week trying to weed, then mulch my vege gardens with hay. It's not nearly done, but I'll get to the rest of it in the next few days.

This morning, coffee mug in hand, I strolled out to check up on the vege-garden goings-on--my routine after yoga and breakfast. As I passed the big old beauty bush, a pair of blackbird parents set up a scolding alarm. That of course, drew my attention to their ugly child in the branches of the shrub. Really! The little one was so very, very ugly, I thought: it's true, only a mother could love it. It looked like it had tufts of fungus sprouting from it's head as it looked at me wildly, wondering if I was the cause of its parents' panic.

"Don't worry," I said to the squawking and crackling parents. "I won't hurt your baby, as damn butt-ugly as he is! Really. Whatever would I want him for!" They didn't believe me at all.

I visited my own son yesterday (a hell of a lot more handsome than the blackbird-baby). With options as limited as they are for warning him of my impending arrival, I was pleased to find him at home. He was very excited about his recent promotion at work so our discussions re the tasks at hand in our preparations for our upcoming trip to Ethiopia were hilariously interrupted by his preoccupation with his new position. Not that he was unaware of his preoccupations and his inability to focus on anything else. His mind kept returning to his new job so frequently that he feared he would not be able to sleep.

As it turned out, he slept the sleep of the dead while I slept very lightly, aware that I must wake up so much earlier than I usually do because my son had to rise early to go to work. I heard someone showering in another apartment in his building. I heard a midnight cat-brawl outside. I heard the robins wake up. But I was very pleased to find my son's vibrations at such a high frequency and enjoyed my visit immensely.

One of my son's neighbours has a very fine vegetable garden in soil piled up right on top of an unused corner of a paved parking lot. I wish I had taken a photograph -- I guess that is on my to-do list the next time I visit! Even my non-gardener son is impressed. He thinks that guy is "cool" and certainly very inventive.

One thing struck me as funny. While he seems to expect that his mom should accept that he is a young man enjoying the dating scene and naturally, a sex life too, my son seems surprised that his mom might want a man in her life and some hot sex too! Oooh, my. That's too much for my son! Cute, eh?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


The big news is that Ann, according to her previously mentioned plan, has announced that she will be leaving for California at the beginning of July. Sharing this house with Ann has been a great experience. Through her, I have been exposed to so many new writers and thinkers, particularly around the topic of money, wealth and creativity. Thanks, Ann for so generously sharing those great finds with me!

New changes are coming. I will either have to find a new house-mate to share the expenses with, or decide if I can afford to stay on by myself.

And as Ann has no interest in the vegetable garden this year, I have expanded my operation!

So, on the left, the new asparagus is coming along, and on the right, in front, the lovage towering higher than my head already. Beside it the lemon balm. Next beds, on the left, garlic and French tarragon. Behind the lovage, pinks, coriander, clary sage. Third bed, from the left was seeded with a couple varieties of mesclun (mixed seeds of salad greens), dill, coriander, beets and on the right end are more garlic. Behind that from the right was supposed to have climbing peas and onions. I've popped some extra pepper plants in there under the plastic bags. Beyond that, from the right, half the bed is empty and the other half has garlic. Beyond that is the New Part (see below).
OK. So here we have on the left, the lemon balm (Melissa officinalis); pinks, clary sage and coriander in the bed behind it; garlic in the third bed; onions, (what I had hoped would be peas) and peppers in the fourth; and more garlic beyond that. (That was repetitive, I know. )

On the right, in front are the new rhubarb plants; a cutting bed of cosmos and zinnias is behind that; zucchini and cantaloupe (will they crossbreed as I have heard???); then everbearing strawberries in the fourth bed; beoynd the strawberries are lots of gladioli. On the right, I have managed to tidy up the raspberry bed a bit. I still need some sturdy stakes and wire to keep the canes upright. This is the first half of the garden, the part we cultivated last year. Beyond that is the New Part.

The New Part starts where the garden hose jigs to the left to avoid the bed of leeks and peas at the end of the path. The New Part is a square arranged into four quarters on a diamond-shaped centre. The water barrel stands in the middle of the diamond-centre. Some part of me loves geometric quilt-like shapes to the beds and paths in a vegetable garden!

Of what is visible of the New Part, on the right, is a narrow hedge of lavender and a Bronze Fennel. Then the corn, climbing beans and squash (as per Native American legend). The bed that dead-ends the path in the center of the photo has leeks and peas, as I already mentioned. Behind that are more beans, for fresh picking and drying. Beyond the water barrel are eggplant, peppers, potatoes. The tomatoes (surrounded with plastic grocery bags for now) at the far right end are interplanted with a purple basil, carrots, bunching onions and a lemon basil. I left a spectacular golden rod in place at the edge of the garden, the large bunch of green growth you see behind the potatoes!

puttering about

After all the rain, the grasses in the meadows are tall and lush.

I've spent the last two days blissfully puttering about in the garden.

You know what it's like: you don't bother getting very pretty in the morning. It would be a waste of time, because you know you'll be dusty and sweaty by the end of the day with all kinds of dirt under your fingernails. You'll be scratched, you might have a thorn or two in a finger to irritate you, your back may ache, a fingernail or two might be broken, you will have a fine case of hat-head from wearing your favorite garden-headgear all day, you might have a smudge or two of dirt on you face and your knees and feet will be black with dust as well. You might even have a mosquito bite or two to top things off! But despite all that, if you have the disease (if you've been bitten by the gardening bug, that is), you will be very, very happy.

I always have good intentions of keeping track of what exactly I have planted out when, and I do start to make lists, I honestly I am again, with really no idea when I planted what. Oh, when I'm in the garden, I know what's what. The garden is laid out on paper, the tags go in the garden as I plant, but....then the fairies of the garden lead me astray. I have no interest in keeping a record on paper of what I've have done today, even though I have a big old garden-diary just for that purpose! The garden imps even beguile me to the extent that I neglect my blog! The best I can manage at the end of the day, as I lie in my bed, is to daydream with satisfaction over the piece of paper on which I graphed out my garden during the depths of winter. Minor adjustments have been made and the paper has been refolded and put into my pocket so many times that it is becoming a bit hard to read, what with the odd dirty fingerprint and creases wearing thin.

With no rhyme or reason, the garden is sort of going in willy-nilly. As I obtained seedling plants from here or there ( I didn't bother starting seeds in the greenhouse after all because I discovered that anything I put in the greenhouse was turned up and tunneled out by a chipmunk who has squatters rights there for now), I managed to turn up this part of the garden or that, eliminating some of the weeds that had gone wild in it as I went, and the plants went in. Or I seeded rows of this or that. A wheelbarrow-full or two of composted manure from the pile in the barnyard has gone into the garden as well. The garden will probably grow willy-nilly too, with erratic gluts and excesses of harvest (that I try to preserve or give away to lucky friends and family) but it's my garden and I like it like that.

I did tell you, didn't I, how unlucky I have been with my peas. I even resowed the peas...I even tried soaking the peas first...Another piece of bad luck: a tomato plant was snapped off by the wind, I presume. I don't know if it will grow from the bottom part that was left behind seeing as it has no leaves...oh dear.... this even though I had put plastic grocery bags around the seedlings to protect them until the weather improved.

The other night, arriving home late at night as I do from my paying job, I happened to look out my window and spied a raccoon calmly wandering through the garden! How do they know the dogs are in the house and so coons are free to walk the garden without fear? The raccoons have never bothered my gardens much before, ... but I wonder why my peas are not making an appearance. No signs of digging. Oooh...I hope the raccoons are will be confused later in the season by the squash vines I planted between the corn...!!

I have noticed that unlike last year, Misty seems to respect the paths in the garden. Most of the time, anyway. Maybe she notices that people stay out of the beds, walking on the paths, so she does too. Here's hoping. When I'm working in the garden, Misty will often be near me, lying in the sun. She has such a hard life! (Tasha tends to stay in the shade or near Ann, and Molly is most often tied to her tree because of her unrelenting car-chasing.)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

lady's slippers

To lift my spirits, I'm sure, the fairies planted a BIG patch of yellow lady's slippers in the woods right beside the drive so that I was sure to spot them yesterday when I drove by in the rain.

Whenever I've had a little window of opportunity between all the rain we have been having, I've been planting: beets, parsnips, radish, the glad bulbs, strawberries, beans, corn, squash, etc. Bit by bit, I'm conquering the weedy part of the vegetable garden which we did not plant last summer, and bit by bit, the weeds are marching in behind me ...