Monday, May 29, 2006

The garden looks pretty good right now. The perennials have filled in finally and everything is full and green. The winter was pretty easy on the plants this year. My Smoke tree and an unidentified broad-leafed vine in the backyard have put out buds earlier than I've ever seen them. One year I thought the Smoke Tree was finished because it was mid-June before I saw signs of life.
The front garden is for my neighbours. The Spice Bush sends fragrant wafts to early-morning pedestrians and I managed to 'plan' the bulbs so they open in relays - there's always something blooming from the moment the Aconites start until the time the annuals kick in.
Many of the seeds I planted 2 to 3 weeks ago are above ground, finally, and look like they'll produce a good showing of flowers in a month or so. Nasturtiums (my favourite), Sunflowers, Cosmos and Morning Glories have put out their first two leaves and I can see a smattering of tiny seedlings where I sowed some wildflower seeds. I'll probably end up with a bed of weeds there, but it's worth a try!
A neighbour had a free load of wood mulch dumped by a tree service. BIG mistake. They couldn't just dump a cubic meter or two, they had to dump the whole truck-load. She was offering her surplus free to whoever wanted it. I've made about 20 trips back and forth with my wheelbarrow and barely made a dent in it. The pile is pretty hot - steam pours out with every shovel-full - so I hope it doesn't ignite on her. She begged me to take more, but I think I've got more than I can use now. Guess she won't make that mistake again!
I ordered mulch from a local company last year and I've regretted it ever since. I've had slime molds, fungus and mushrooms growing everywhere it was applied. Some of them are pretty creepy-looking. I wish I knew my mushrooms better though, because I got an incredible crop of them last week, but I didn't know if they were edible. Pity.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Annual Rant
Every spring, just about the time I'd like to throw open my windows and doors and let the fresh breezes blow away the indoor smog is also just about the time every pesticide truck in town shows up on our street. The acrid pong of a new-sprayed lawn cuts through the delicate scents of lilacs and other flowering bushes like ammonia salts through a dead faint.
Another neighbour succumbed to the siren call of of the Weed Man. He showed up early one a.m., soaked the front and back lawn with liquid death. He tagged it with WARNING signs and sat in his truck filling out forms while the neighbour's dog and a group of kids waiting for the bus, sat, rolled and generally immersed themselves in the poison-soaked grass.
My next-door neighbour also sprays. I had to close my balcony doors last week because he was playing with his Raid - trying to nail some ants. I think he used a whole can on one corner of the house. His wife was playing on the lawn with her baby & told me she was worried about the Gypsy Moth pesticide that was arial-sprayed last week (it was a bacterial spray). I wish I was a braver person and could say what I really thought which was, "Why the hell are you spraying poison on your grass? Don't you know one in two people are getting cancer these days?". The neighbour across the street found 3 ants in her house and called the exterminator in to fumigate the entire house. Since when does 3 ants make an infestation? Ever heard of 'ant traps'? Squishing them with your foot/thumb/hammer? Finding out if they just came in on some clothing?
Five women around the corner are suffering, or have died from breast cancer. Their ages are/were 30 - 70 yrs. Seriously folks - if it kills bugs 'n weeds, it'll kill you.

Sherway Garden Art Auction
Finally it is done! Here is a sneak preview. Our chairs were delivered at the end of April and the deadline is June 1. The display will be set up by June 4, 2006 when bidding starts. This is our third year for participating in the Muskoka Chair Auction at Sherway Gardens to raise funds for Neilson Park Creative Centre. They take a helluva long time to paint, with all the slats you have to get between and all the different angles a 3-D chair has. Everytime you turn it around, you see a spot you missed. Not to mention flying paint blobs, smears & mistaking your teacup for the paint water. Blech.
This year's offerings feature a 'celebrity chair' by Jennifer Valentine of BT (Breakfast Television). Can't compete with that, though it might up the ante (and quality) of the painting. I like doing it, but that's all I do for a month and now the studio is a disaster area (again), but when is it not?
Mother's day was last weekend & A. bought me a 'Niomi' clematis which is begging to get planted. The weather is very cold today and I finally turned the heat on because I'm sitting here freezing my buns off. Gardening is not foremost on my mind...keeping warm is.
This Friday is the opening reception for P.'s first solo show of his Portrait Painting. I said before it will be held at Nostalgia Books, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.. We've invited everyone I can think of, now I have to buy the wine and beer. I hope the place is packed to busting because the bookstore is at the neglected end of the Port Credit stretch and usually all the 'real' action is at the hub of Hurontario & Lakeshore. So it would be good to raise a few blisters down the other way & perhaps draw some attention. We had to laugh when we got our handful of flyers & letter about the Lakeshore Artwalk - they will be sending invitations to the "more affluent neighbourhoods...". Well - we live in a hovel, so I guess that negates the need for art in our lives. Unfortunately 'they' forgot to tell us...we even BUY art occasionally. How about that? Poor AND has a taste for finer things. Some people just don't know when to give up!

Friday, May 05, 2006

or am I being prepped? 'Koans' - a work unfamiliar to me has brought itself to my attention three times in as many days. The first reference was in the Globe & Mail, but I can't remember for what. The second, in Fraser Sutherland's review of Leonard Cohen's new 'Book of Longing': "This can result in archness, or a particularly pointless koan." (G&M, 'Books', April 29,'06)'.
The dictionary had no entry under 'koan' - being a very WASP sorta book, but my 25 cent big blue Columbia Encyclopedia, being a worldly book, says it is a subject for meditation in Zen Buddhism - usually one of the sayings of a great Zen master of the past. Most famous of the collections of koans are Wu-men-kuan, (Gateless Gate) and Pi-yen-lu (Blue Cliff Records). An example? What is the sound of one hand clapping? Conundrums.
And last night as I was looking for a book to take with me this weekend, a thin volume protuded from the shelf in an obvious way - "Koans: the Lessons of Zen"
A book I bought years ago for my father who returned it with "What the bloody hell was that? Have it back!". I should pay more attention.
So what is the message?