Wednesday, August 30, 2006

menu for a melancholic evening

Sage and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
Buttered Steamed Fresh Green Beans
Fried Egg
Fresh Tomato Salad
Earl Grey Tea and Honey

"melancholy." mel-uhn-kol-ee noun, plural -chol-ies, adjective

1. a gloomy state of mind, esp. when habitual or prolonged; depression.
2. sober thoughtfulness; pensiveness.
a. the condition of having too much black bile, considered in ancient and medieval medicine to cause gloominess and depression.
b. black bile.

4. affected with, characterized by, or showing melancholy; mournful; depressed: a melancholy mood.
5. causing melancholy or sadness; saddening: a melancholy occasion.
6. soberly thoughtful; pensive. Unabridged (v 1.0.1). Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

Some days are just like that, melancholy. No, if I'm honest, I would have to admit that the day itself was just itself, a day: sunny, fairly warm, an occasional pleasant-enough breeze. So that would mean that I am the melancholy one today. Why?

Maybe there is no reason and then there are many.

One of them might be lack of sleep. Chronic pain in my right neck and shoulder again kept me awake most of the night. Not being able to sleep, I gave up and read for a while, light, silly stuff guaranteed to distract me. Then, of course, I slept in very late.

Another thought that made me very melancholy today was that I felt so lonely. Is it a rational thought? Probably not. I could have called on at least half-a-dozen friends who would have been able to cheer me up.

I hesitate to be so brutally honest here, as if talking about one of the temporary moods I am experiencing at this moment, might doom me to being perceived as being in a perpetual melancholy mood. Another reason that I hesitate is because it's difficult to talk about intimate needs that usually are discussed only obliquely and covered with a lot of hilarity in my social circles. Only a couple of my friends, I would say, are completely comfortable with such discussions, and unfortunately, they were not available for a heart-to-heart today. Oh, and another reason that pops into my mind for my hesitation is the dismissal of a mood (a woman's mood only, mind!) with the insulting: "it's hormonal" or "are you pms-ing?" or "it's just menopause" (GRRRRRRRR!@#%$##@*&^!)

Oh, there are a couple of my darling good friends who would 'stand in', as it were, if I were made that way :) . Ah me, but I'm not. No matter how easily I can see and understand others enjoying a sex-buddy, I cannot do it.

That is also part of my melancholy, the longing at times for a real life-partner, someone to love, someone to love me, someone with whom to share my life. And here I almost feel compelled to jump in with all the courageous statements that are also true: that I am happy as I am, that I enjoy being independent and it's so easy to live without having to consider another person, etc., etc. But it's not going to work if I deny that I do long for that special male companion.

You be perfectly you, let me be perfectly me: uniquely and mutually
flawed. And together we can discover what it is to be human, and what
two humans might be capable of being together.
~~Joy Houghton

duchess of albany

Annie in Austin wondered if my clematis is the texensis hybrid "Duchess of Albany". She is absolutely right. I can hardly wait for it to develop as I plan to put an arbour near it (I know, that's working backwards, isn't it -- the arbor should have been built first), to arch over the thyme walk, with a climbing rose on the other side. For more on this clematis check here and here.

One of my favorite Finnish bloggers, MariaJ, has a picture of a clematis that I am lusting after now as well, Paul Farges "Summer Snow". Also here.

Sedum "Matrona". Looks pretty ok here beside an amur maple, although I wish the downspout from the eavestrough would disappear...sigh

Monday, August 28, 2006

identity revealed

Fuchsia triphylla is what I have ( Jenn wanted to know) planted in three hanging baskets along the "back" porch. I think the variety is most likely "Thalia" . It's identified as "Thalia" here too (you might have to click on 'August' to view the Plant of the Month for Aug 2004) even though I think I remember the tags saying "Firecracker". I think "Firecracker" has greener leaves with white. The lobelia got torn up by winds and dried out, but it's trying to make a come-back in the cooler weather.

I was able to over-winter the fuschia by potting them up and keeping them on a table a couple of feet from a west-facing window (indirect light). They did get a bit leggy though -- I just can't bear to cut it back because I'd have to cut off buds and blooms...They will get cut back soon anyhow as they are about to be brought inside.

Our evenings are cool already. One night last week, when I stepped outside to let the dogs out for the last time before we all went to bed, I could see my breath. That is a sign of what's to come.

hard work

This grass, growing beside the laneway is so pretty. I have always admired the flowers, and now the seed-heads. No idea what it is however, even though it is quite abundant.

Mowing the lawn today, there was a small moment when I said to myself: I think I'm liking this! But don't go spreading that around, ok? Because for years I have said, I hate mowing the lawn....

Anyhow, I was about 9/10 ths done when I ran out of gas. It was time for a break anyway, so after a big drink of water, I thought for a change of pace, I'd get those weeds between the patio stones.

From there it just kind of progressed to weeding the newly planted English ivy under the big maple. And then I started thinking about the bed in the middle of the grass in the back that has all the tawny daylily in it. The thyme walk will eventually go right past it to the greenhouse. Well, thinking about it, before I knew it, I was moving things around, digging up the daylily and getting rid of it in the compost pile, moving the geraniums to the edge of the patio for now, moving a peony, planting a variegated euonymus and a hosta.

As I got rid of the daylily, I discovered lots of tulip and daffodil bulbs! They never really bloomed all that well there because they were buried awfully deep and competing with the huge daylily.

But there were an awful lot of bulbs to find new homes for. At one point, thinking : oh, here's a nice spot for some tulips, I nearly dug up some tulips that were already in that spot. I had forgotten they were there. Oh dear.

Covered in dust and dirt, sweating, my back aching something awful, I came at supper-time, very pleased with myself. That bed is nowhere near done. Those daylilies and the creeping bellflower still must be dug out of about half of the bed ( as I envision it will be some day). The creeping bellflower is in the lawn too, which might be a problem down the road -- but that's a problem for another day.

In the meantime, a bath and good night's sleep will take care of the back ache -- provided I can sleep what with my imagination going into overdrive picturing how that bed will look someday!

Sunday, August 27, 2006


no, don't make that face. you are not allowed to play with the cows!

ha-ha. I fooled you. I don't want to play with the cows. I want to play with you. ha-ha

oh! you still here? I'm busy: I have to get back to my grazing!

McPersonalities in McHomes

Read here, at ask-the-painting-contractor-chickie, a wickedly funny & accurate observation of a trend in housing development that is all too common in Canada too.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Frog Garden's Ikea ball

Roy at Frog Garden wrote about this project of his that seems wonderful. I remember being fascinated with elkhorn that I saw when I visited the gardens at the Biltmore Estate with my friend Mike last fall. I'll bet that if I were to try Roy's project, I'd have to keep the ball in a heated greenhouse or something as our weather here in Canada is definitely showing signs of getting colder.

a ferny moment

Lady Fern, Athyrium filix-femina var. angustum (but I'll yield to any authority who says otherwise :) )

Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum pedatum.

How is it that ferns growing wild in the woods look so lovely? Here I tried to capture the raindrops on the leaves and I'm not totally satisfied that I did.

farm life

brash or bashful

A while back I read several gardening bloggers who were discussing how they used colour. I think it was Kim who said she used to use a more ethereal colour palette of blues and pinks and has now evolved into a gardener who uses bolder colours. I think she might have even had a link to an online quiz...

Anyway, that thought has been tumbling about in my mind, picking up lots of cobwebs as it rolled around. Today, as I looked at some of the photos I have taken of the garden, it came to me that looking at some of the closeups I have -- they are full of colour, lush, bold -- anyone might be forgiven for thinking that the whole garden is like that.

While I wish it was, wishing don't make it so! No. No, I'm not greedy for bloom, actually, because I love foliage too -- witness the "icecream cone" pots on the back deck, which are mostly foliage. And then, there's the thrill of finding one or two small, delicate, long-awaited blooms, like the blooms of the clematis which bloomed for me for the first time this year. Anybody who sees only big and brash would not see these gems at all!

BTW, the hummingbirds are out there again, their aerial battles so swift that it is almost not possible to follow their flight!


I'm still trying to repair the lost links in my sidebar. There were many I visited regularly that I now can't find because I didn't take the precaution of saving them in my 'favorites' too. Please if you are one of the 'lost ones' send me a comment and I'll be able to update my links that way.
Thanks, everyone.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Here is a link to a great article: "What Great American Gardeners Do Not Do". Substitute "Canadian" or "Finnish" or "English" or whatever you are, but read it. Being a great lazy gardener, I so very glad to find out that the way I garden (mostly), is good for the environment and all of us! can see the hummingbird, right? One of these days, I will get a picture of her when she is eye-ball to eye-ball with me.

What a perfectly lovely day! A pair of hummingbirds spent more time chasing each other off than feeding. For such pretty feathered jewels, they sure are aggressive! I seem to have only the females of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris, here. But, as my Peterson guide-book describes them, they are pugnacious. Trying to catch a photo of them is something else, however, even though at times they are hovering only 2-3 feet from me in the garden, often buzzing right in my ear!

Once I spy one outside my office window, tiptoe out camera ready, the humming bird often comes up to about a metre and a half from me right at eye level and hovers there, looking right at me, as if it is quite ready to chase me off too. But clumsy me, by the time I fiddle with the camera and am ready to take its picture, the hummingbird has whirred off and away at lightning speed.

berries: delicious, not, & poisonous

One of the types of wild grape growing here.
A tasty version of wild grapes along the laneway. This on almost reminds me of a table grape, juicy with small seeds. Most of the grapes are of the previous variety, very seedy with a sharp after-taste.Rose hips on one of the wild roses along the laneway. As there seem to be several species of wild rose that grow here, I cannot say which one this might be.
White Baneberry, Actaea pachypoda. Sometimes called "doll's eyes", the berries are very poisonous.
The red form of baneberry, Actaea rubra, here the berries oddly pink.

Trying to upload a photo of Blue Cohosh fruit, I've given up in frustration. Blue Cohosh, Caulophyllum thalictroides, seed is reportedly used as a coffee substitute, but according to the Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, the mature fruit and roots are poisonous.

Maybe it's my cynical nature, but I believe if most people are doing something -- like in our part of the world, the socially acceptable and official message is do not use herbal remedies -- that bears questioning. Most of the world actually still has to rely on home remedies and tradional ways of healing, where the knowledge has not been lost or suppressed as 'western' and 'modern scientific' ways are adopted willy-nilly. But I have to confess, I very, very rarely use any remedy, having a very healthy respect for the power of both herbs and conventional drugs to harm or heal. I tend to enjoy herbs in their mildest formulation: in teas for enjoyment and relaxation, and in cooking to add to the flavour to the foods!

I'm just as sceptical of herbal/ big-pharma preparations as I am of drug/pharmaceuticals! I think the best preparations are really fresh, local herbal preparations made by an herbalist who really knows their herbs and their actions on the body, keeping in mind that I think Mother Nature created herbs with an appropriate cloud of beneficial boosters and buffers built in. The best medicine of all is a good varied diet of the freshest foods possible!

All that aside, I learned to be quite specific about what part of wild plants are edible or not after reading the book Into the Wild, by Jon Krauker. The author's theory in this book is that this young man died, not because he was naive and unprepared for living in the wilderness of Alaska, as many thought, but because he relied on misinformation regarding the part of a wild plant that was edible vs the parts that were poisonous on the same plant!

Several herbal/ecclectic/alternative experts do use Blue Cohosh.
(*CAULOPHYLLUM (Blue Cohosh)Any uterine conditions characterized by asthenic, flaccid uterine muscles, with heavy, bearing-down sensations or cervical
venosities.RHIZOME / ROOT. Tincture [1:5, 60% alcohol] 5-20 drops, usually in
formula context.CONTRA: Pregnancy; sometimes useful in birthing but also very
Usually a tincture of the root, a few drops in a formula with other herbal derivatives is recommended. It might be most often used to ameliorate conditions such as amenorrhea, cervicitis, dysmenorrhea, endometritis, menopausal difficulties, uterine inflammation, delayed labour due to fatigue, a weak uterus or a history of inflammation of the uterus. A contraindication would be that it is an oxytocin synergist. Googling "N-methylcytisine", one of the toxic substances in Blue Cohosh, took me to this page at HerbMed.

It becomes pretty apparent, the more research that one does, that herbal remedies are quite complex. That should not dissuade one from using herbal remedies, however, any more than I would dissuade anyone from using a conventional pharmaceutical drug. Any powerful substance in large quantities, taken with substances that might enhance its effects, taken over a long period of time, or taken unbuffered by other compounds, if of course dangerous. That would be true of any "drug" as well.

It might seem too obvious to mention, but just as much consideration, knowledge and judgment(aka common sense!) should be invested in the decision to use or not use an herbal remedy as any conventional pharmaceutical preparation. Or should I say, the reverse is too true: too many people use conventional pharmaceutical preparations without due consideration, no knowledge of what a drug actually is meant to do, how it might do this and what the contraindications might be.

I'm not kidding! Recently, I encountered several women seriously addicted to Percocet. One of the women quite seriously said she didn't believe she was addicted because she couldn't believe that her doctor would have prescribed it to her if she could become addicted to it! Honestly! One of the women claimed she actually asked her doctor if it was addicting and he said no. Humph! Yeah, right! And to top it all off, these women were generously sharing their prescription drug with anybody who complained of the least little ache. "Here. Try my Percocet. I bet it will work for you....Ask your doctor to give you a prescription to Percocet." Did any of these women check to see what this drug actually is? is it a controlled drug? why is it controlled? And we worry about drunks on the road! As if these women weren't all driving under the influence.

When did we all sign an agreement to stop thinking, to allow someone else to do ALL our thinking for us? It seems we don't do anything these days without the authorization of "experts". Any MY! Aren't we upset when we get hurt after getting the 'ok from an expert' to do something stupid! Do we take no responsibility for ourselves anymore?

Again I return to my favorite quote from Michael Moore, an herbalist in the Southwest U.S.

I have developed the libertarian attitude that permeated 19th and early 20th
century pharmacy: 'Let them take what they want's a Free Country. If
they don't know any better, let's thin the herd!'.

If only they wouldn't endanger others on their way to extinction.

aaahh ! rain

After many days of hot, dry weather, the last couple of days have given us rain. The gardens appreciate it. Even such tough customers as the black-eyed Susans looked quite bedraggled for lack of water. However, I notice that the black-eyed Susans under the maple have not bounced back all that well. And we had plenty of rain. The cistern got topped up pretty nicely!

Progress on my thyme-walk goes slowly. Weeds are again threatening to take over the vegetable garden. I harvested lots of green beans and tomatoes. I was pleased to have my daughter relay a message from my son-in-law (he considers himself the official cook in their family) that any time I could send down some more vegetables to the city would be fine!

That intense pleasure that I derived from that remark made me wonder about myself and why I grow all this stuff. I can't seem to help myself. I always grow far more than I could ever need. Really, I should organize myself and see if there is a food bank or some such organization locally that could benefit from all my surplus! But not even that could please me the way it did to know that my children are enjoying what I've grown! It's not even conceit (although I will admit I am conceited). It's deeper, more primal than conceit.

Maybe it's the same reason my mother-in-law always used to press her delicious home-made bread on us when we were leaving after a visit. Even after all these years, I wouldn't mind some of that bread, simply toasted on it's own with little butter....Something of herself is in that bread. Her hands kneaded it and shaped it. Her love is in it.

Does it sound crazy to say my love is in my garden? in the flowers and vegetable that grow for me? love for the soil, the air, the sunshine, the water? love for this place, the sky, the landscape, the lake? Actually, I confess I'm always amazed when things grow for me, every single time. I think it's a wonderful thing, a miracle. I actually, even after all the sweat, sore muscles and calluses, I think I'm just a by-stander, watching in wonder how things grow, as if in spite of my clumsy interference!!

Did I not tell you that gardeners are crazy? Oh. Well this should prove it.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

silence of Sunday

Monarch butterfly, resting on some grasses.

The day was chilly -- relatively speaking, of course. Cloudy for most of the day, it never felt really warm. A rainshower or two also cooled things off. As a result, boaters pretty much stayed off the lake. Today was a preview of the peace and quiet of fall and winter that will arrive with the departure of the boaters, cottagers and summer people.

Keeping with the theme of Sundays, here is a picture of one of the most unique churches in my area, the Sturgeon Point Union Church. It is independent and welcomes worshipers of any faith. Services are held on Sundays at 10:30 a.m..

Saturday, August 19, 2006

oh dear

At my paying job the other day, I heard a story about "ugly Americans" that made me cringe. While I was in university, I made some very great friendships among the American contingent and feel they would be insulted by the behavior of some of their compatriots. Unfortunately, it is a larger story than the misbehavior of a few individuals. The parallels of these boorish individuals and the behavior of Bush et al these days was just too easy a leap for my mind to make.

Basically, the U.A.'s in this incident wanted something done, done their way, and done right now, regardless of the serious legal and ethical reasons my peers at my paying job could not give the U.A's what they wanted; and the U.A's would not take the time to listen to any reason. (And I know that asking for the same thing in a similar institution in the U.S. would probably have given them the same reasons to be frustrated.) Then followed a series of insults about Canada and Canadians in general, that made my blood boil.

It really had nothing to do with national differences between the U.S. and Canada. It was a bullying personality encountering a block to their desires, trying to yell and bluster their way to getting what they want, damn everybody else: like a kid yelling at his mother "I HATE you!!" I could easily picture these U.A's lying down on the floor and having a kicking-screaming temper tantrum. (naked too--that would have been funny)

It's too bad that such a personality is in charge of a great nation like the U.S., making people in most other parts of the world shake their heads at the stupidity of it. The anger of many in the Middle East and many, many other parts of the world, towards the U.S., is understandable.

I'm rude

I'm rude!

A news item on cbc radio this morning said that Ontario Hydro has said that office workers prefer to let the elevator doors close, even when they know that someone is approaching the elevators and wants to get on. Ontario Hydro said that it would be more efficient to hold the elevator doors open until the elevator is full.

...All right, it should be said that there may be a lot of reasons that people let the doors close on someone. Maybe they don't like the person who is about to get on, maybe it's someone with whom they have an issue.

In any case, I'm one of those people! And what would my reasons be?

Sometimes it has been because I was running late and I wanted the elevator to make no stops, thinking that way, I'd arrive on my floor just a little sooner. Sometimes, I see the people who are about to get on, and (I know, I know, I know -- I'm being really really rude) these people are grubby, behaving oddly, or look like they might ask me questions I don't want to bother answering. Then, sometimes, I just feel antisocial. I want the elevator to myself. Or, sometimes, I feel nasty. Ha-ha, I got on the elevator and you didn't!

And all along, here I was thinking it was my dirty little secret--that nobody would ever know. It was my own quiet corner of wickedness that I could indulge in without seriously hurting anyone...I think I'm mad at Ontario Hydro for outing me!!

Friday, August 18, 2006

hmnn-n-n, I'm thinking...

One of my hibiscus plants is enjoying the summer out on the back deck. The first flush of blooms after a trim consists of single blooms. Then, the subsequent blooms are these double/triple blooms which are extremely decadent. A few years ago, my Filipino housekeeper laughed at my nursing this plant along because back home for her, hibiscus is very common, to the extent that it is used as hedging. Imagine!

Some black-eyed susans, shasta daisies, ozark sundrops, artemisia and pinks fight for moisture at the edge of the dripline of a large maple. In the spring there are tulips here which have escaped the notice of squirrels...or perhaps there were so many tulips here originally that the depredations of the squirrels didn't make a big dent in the display. The squirrels then replanted them in their own haphazard fashion about the woods and hedgerows. I have tulips appearing singly in the strangest places around here! Because of the shade of the maple and the dryness, I plan to rework this bed and move some things elsewhere. But the little combination above has its own charms, I think: artemisia, bugle weed, a pink I don't know the name of and the foliage of the ozark sundrops in the background.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


an unnamed muskmelon that turned out to be delicious; seven more, at last count, ripening in the garden

Granddaughter showing Misty the green beans she picked for her Mommy and Daddy

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

handsome critters

First of all, I have to declare I know nothing about cattle, but I think they are rather handsome creatures! I took these pictures on Saturday when my Granddaughter was visiting. They came immediately to the electrified wire when I whistled, as curious about us as we were about them. I was a bit intimidated by their size, considering that the only thing separating us was that thin wire...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

a little girl and butterflies

The corn is sooo-o-o-oo tall!

Granddaughter came for a long-awaited visit this past weekend. We had so many items on our Things To Do List, we were forced to conclude that Granddaughter has to visit again, soon! We couldn't even get to half of the things Granddaughter wanted to do.

Of course, on the list was "dressing up" in Auntie Alli's old dance-recital costumes. Also on the list was watching several movies, favorites of Granddaughter, who never seems to tire of watching them again and again. Playing the piano was a must-do and was done a lot. Swinging on the tire-swing and the "big swing" was done. Swimming in the pool was done too. Playing with Misty was done. (Granddaughter is afraid of Molly.)

Staying up late in the hopes of catching the meteor shower was done. (We were disapppointed by how the light from the lingering afterglow of sunset and then the moonrise obliterated the stars.)Reading bed-time poetry was done

... and Gramma was so tired she fell asleep with Granddaughter, instead of staying up a bit later and reading, as Gramma usually does!

Granddaughter helped Gramma capture a few photos of butterflies -- something Gramma has had trouble doing. We even almost got a photo of a tiny red sparkly dragonfly.
You will notice that this butterfly, an Eastern Comma, Polygonia comma, that Granddaughter understandably first thought was a Monarch, almost disappears when it folds up its wings, looking very much like an ordinary dry leaf. Granddaughter's sharp eyes helped Gramma re-locate it whenever the butterfly moved off and landed in a new place.
ongoing...still repairing/restoring my links in the sidebar...

technical difficulties!!

Aaargh! I have goofed and am trying to fix my links to blogs I visit...bear with me!

Monday, August 14, 2006

how to be lucky

At humanyms you will find some information on a experiment on human behaviors which are most likely to make you more lucky, based on the book by Richard Wiseman, called The Luck Factor, Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life - The Four Essential Principles.

So, go out there today and be lucky. Have a marvelous, bountiful day!

Friday, August 11, 2006

celebrity look-alike

Which celebrity do you look like? By going to My Heritage, I found I look most like Annie Lennox, Valentina Tereshkova, Renee Zellweger and Christina Applegate! LOL

a la Jackson Pollock?

I found this site via Laurent (qui dessine et ca m'amuse!) and started drawing with glee. Try it. Just move your mouse over the screen and voila!

sit outside tonight

If granddaughter and I are not in tomorrow evening, it may be because we will be sitting outside wrapped in blankets to ward off the evening chill and watching for meteors! The Perseid meteor shower is to peak this weekend!


The old and outdated dried herbs & spices got cleaned out today. The jars got scrubbed. The shelves in the kitchen got overhauled and washed down as well.

I must have had a touch of sunstroke because I decided to paper the shelves; not having any shelf paper, I made some out of craft paper that I happened to have lying around.

The recycling went out to the garage, the plants in the greenhouse, the plants in the pots and hanging baskets outside got watered.

My 'new' office is now nearly functional.

My next big project is to go through my accumulated files and papers, sort, purge and reorganize. Nothing is allowed to move down to my 'new' office unless it really belongs there...

It's August. I think I get the bug every year at this time, when traditionally it's the big push to get ready for school and new beginnings. I feel the urge for new resolutions more at this time of year than I ever do at the New Year!

I feel incredibly satisfied with what I have accomplished so far. Big plans are in motion! Hurray for me!

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I love these hot lingering afternoons of August.

A visit to Lugar do Olhar Feliz, also took me to Alentejo Terra Mae...

Il n’y a pas de cigales en Alentejo.
Quand vient la chaleur, vient
aussi le silence.
...ici la suffocante chaleur des après-midi d’été se
dit « calma » : le calme.
I would have to say that one of the reasons I garden is just that: calma! Even when I'm head down, pulling up endless weeds, wondering why I bother because I'm sure the weeds will all bounce back by tomorrow, I always end up feeling some sense of meditative calm about it all. This is the cycle of life. We work, plants grow, we eat some, the seasons change, we reminisce during the winter about the summer...

At this moment, my gaze is drawn outside by the flicking movements of the hummingbird, hovering to drink the nectar from the tubular flowers of the sinningia 'Apricot Bouquet' in the pots on the patio. A cicada is buzzing its song somewhere in the orchard. The grass is getting long. I should have mowed it two days ago. Ah well. One just can't do it all: calma.


I need volunteers upon whom I can practice the ancient art of mehndi, or henna body art. I'm not ambidextrous so my right hand must remain unadorned. Anyone?

I wish I lived in California

Just for this paparazzi contest alone, I wish I lived in California. Too Funny! (via defective yeti via The Factory Floor )

pretty cousins

More on portulaca. Sandy at Garden Path posted these photos of the prettier portulaca.

regrets & tomatoes

Ah, yes. The search for the perfect tomatoes.

Kim, aka Blackswamp Girl, asked me about the yellow banana tomatoes. I bought the seedlings from Richter's Herbs in Goodwood, Ontario. As they concentrate on herbs, they have a limited selection of vegetable seeds and seedlings. The last time I had some great tomatoes was a couple of years ago when I bought a whole bunch of interesting seeds for heirloom tomatoes from David Ackerman, of Upper Canada Seeds. His email address is

I have in the past received great seeds from Cook's Garden , & Salt Spring Seeds is also wonderful, but no longer ship to the US. Seeds of Change , based in New Mexico, West Coast Seeds, in BC , and Johnny's Selected Seeds in Maine have been very good.

At Seeds of Diversity, Canada,, you can find all sorts of information about suppliers and growers of heirloom vegetables, fruits, and other plants.

And on an eccentric note: (not tomatoes, but garlic -- which I adore)
Fish Lake Garlic Man
RR#2, Demorestville, Ontario K0K 1W0 (Canada) 613-476-8030
Ted Maczka's goal is to make Canada self-sufficient in garlic. He offers several selected cultivars, all organically grown, and a list packed with informative tidbits. He attends Garlic festivals and is available as a speaker. Catalog $3 with SASE. Well worth meeting this man, a real colourful character. He will arrive wearing, as likely as not, a wide brimmed black hat. Sitting on the brim of this enormous black hat are any number of heads of garlic. He loves to talk and expounds enthusiastically and with many amusing jokes on the virtues of garlic. Love this guy!

I hope that helps.

be careful what you ask for

Living out in the country you get lots of opportunities for experiences you might not get as often in the city: 1) the desire to eat your words 2) the chance to see a great variety of fearsome and ferocious bugs!

The other day, admiring the photos on another blog featuring jewel-like dragon flies and may flies, I commented that bugs don't stay still enough for me to photograph. I was thinking pretty butterflies, elegant & twinkly dragon flies...

This morning, I stepped out my back door to see this. Touching it with my toe, I was rewarded with a rather loud noise like "cheech! screetch!". I have no idea what it is, thinking at first it was shaped rather like a cockroach -- which we don't see much of here. From wing-tip to tip-of-antennae, it must be over 4 cm long.

Anyone? (please tell me it's not a cockroach -- that's it's a catydid or something)
Speaking of bugs, I've been noticing a lot of tent-caterpillars on the wild cherries and apple trees. And I've noticed frass around the tomatoes, but found none of the dreaded horn-worms. There was also a lot of frass around the bronze fennel. I was on my hands and knees, weeding, so when I looked up, I saw the fennel has been ravaged!! Funny, the tomato horn-worms give me the shudders, but caterpillars like the monarch's on milkweed don't bother me at all. In fact, I kind of feel 'motherly' toward them, thinking: "oh good. more away. get nice and fat..."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

sensual vegetables

My little crop of potatoes and a couple of my Japanese eggplant.

Maybe the Shiite extremists have this one thing right: vegetables are sensuous. Good god, you don't know what those vegetable might get up to! Poor vegetables, innocently enjoying being themselves, beautiful, earthy... Robin Andrea says it better.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

abundance soup

Inspired bygardenpath to make soup, I gathered my ingredients, most of them from my own garden:

No, the lemons (not, regrettably, from my garden) and the hops flowers did not end up in my soup! I confess I snacked on the little baby tomatoes as I prepared my meal. Yellow banana tomatoes, a couple red tomatoes (I forget the variety), green peppers, lovage, oregano, sage tricolor, Italian flatleaf parsley, purple and green basil, carrots, zucchini...

Oh, yes! I also threw in a couple of my small potatoes from the garden.

And a couple of onions from the garden...No, not that whole lot above, just 2-3 large ones. I also threw in some store-bought celery stalks. Then a branch or two of my potted rosemary and a couple bay leaves:

Everything was chopped up (except the herbs), thrown into a large pot and browned a bit in olive oil. Then I added some water, threw in the lovage, rosemary and bay leaves, and let it bubble away. I tossed in some beef flavored tempeh, chopped. When everything was cooked soft and tender, I added salt and pepper and the rest of the herbs (oregano, sage, parsley, basils) and turned down the heat to let the soup simmer while I prepared the rest of my meal. To serve it, I simply fished out the rosemary and the bay leaves, and checked for enough salt and pepper, then ladled it out into a big bowl. The yellow tomatoes are quite mild in flavor. Next time, I'd add more red tomatoes if I had some around.

Oh my yes. I have a lot left over. Into the freezer for another day!