Friday, May 30, 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
|Our back yard in May 2014|
I discovered the joy of gardening in 1993. We had rented a house that had a rather large perennial garden, and I fell in love.
When baby #4 came along and we had to move, I set about creating a beautiful gardenscape at the new house. In the process, I turned a house with almost no curb appeal into one of the nicest front yards on the block (if I do say so myself). I turned a parched "dead zone" at the south side of the house into something out of an English garden. In the backyard, I grew (among other things) a purple smoke bush that threatened to swallow any of the smaller children wandering near it.
Then we moved to a bigger house, just because, and there, with the help of Steve's sister, we created a true backyard oasis: a pool and patio surrounded by trees and perennials that invited you to take off your shoes, grab a beer and bliss out. [Update: we once again have a pool and a backyard oasis.]
|A shady corner in our 2005 Ottawa garden|
|Blue fescue in Ottawa, 2005|
Even before we moved to the Springs, I bought a book on local gardening, called "Xeriscape Colorado." Xeriscape gardening, (which many pooh-pooh as "zero-scape" gardening because it often uses large swaths of rocks and gravel as part of the landscape design - and some people have been known to take this to the extreme, razing their lawns and blanketing their yards with nothing but gravel) is actually a very responsible approach to landscaping. It espouses micro-climates and putting plants where they will naturally thrive with minimal additional water.
The book made it all sound so easy, and a visit to the local xeriscape demonstration garden made it look quite lush. Here's a picture of the xeriscape demonstration garden (in May 2005). Notice how green all the plants are? (That's Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak in the background.)
|Xeriscape Demonstration Garden with view of|
Garden of the Gods, Colorado
You see it coming, don't you? Fail.
First, the irrigation system failed - but only in the garden areas, not on the lawns, which put my xeriscape approach to the test. Did I mention we were at the tail end of a drought?
Then winter came. A winter where record-breaking blizzards caused chaos at the Colorado airports and alternated with prolonged dry spells. (Our neighbours would actually water their gardens throughout the winter dry spells. I derided them and decided that was coddling.)
All of my shrubs died. Including three purple smoke bushes - specifically described as "quite drought-tolerant, so useful in xeriscaping" - that I had sagely planted along the west side the patio to give us afternoon shade in the summer. I'd had visions of 8-foot-high bushes. Instead I had lots of low-growing (and slow-growing) plants.
Eventually, we got the irrigation system repaired, but I think we were too late. Or we were too stingy with the water. The lawn began to encroach on the gardens - but the supposedly hardy ornamental grasses I'd planted died! This is NOT the way the xeriscapists proclaimed it would be. Kentucky bluegrass, which most lawns are made of, is supposed to be among the thirstiest of the thirsty plants.
|Blue fescue, Colorado|
Today, I put my last token effort into these gardens in this hostile environment. If we owned this house and were staying here, I have to say I'd be inclined to go for a zeroscape garden! Bring on the river stone! (Though, honestly, the lawn even encroaches there!)
In the not-too-distant future, I will be back in the land where planted things actually grow. I'm looking forward to it.
As you can tell from the photo at the top of this post, I am thoroughly enjoying the easier gardening conditions of Ottawa.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
|Goose and goslings on the Ottawa River|
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
|Just before heading into the dining room.|
Let me tell you how it unfolded.
Monday, May 26, 2014
|The Bravo Zulu, circa 1981|
Labels: stories from my youth
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Friday, May 23, 2014
Thursday, May 22, 2014
|My mother (right) with her mother, my oldest brother, Stewart, and her father|
at the Haileybury home. This lawn/meadow is where they pastured their milk cow during the Great Depression.
How many people get the chance to live, even for a short period of time, in their parent's childhood home? I don't think many of my friends have done so, but I -- along with my father and a few of my siblings (Patricia, Harvey, Andrew, and Christine) -- spent a whole summer living in the home where my mother grew up, in Haileybury, Ontario.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
|My siblings and I form a pyramid in front of our childhood home.|
Middle: Wynn Anne, Patricia
Bottom: Andrew, Stewart, Douglas, Harvey
If you had to describe your life in five places, which sites would you choose and why?I've so enjoyed her posts that I've decided to do my own series and I'm going to start with the home I grew up in, in Burlington, Ontario.
Monday, May 19, 2014
|1. Macro shot of a tulip's reproductive parts.|
Friday, May 16, 2014
|The forest floor, May 13, 2014|
And why should I? It brings such joy.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
|This card was NOT given to me!|
Monday, May 12, 2014
Friday, May 9, 2014
|[This picture was staged.]|
A small collection of (my!) nail polish bottles and manicure tools smattered the coffee table, along with an old magazine, some flyers, and an issue of the local free tabloid. An assortment of bowls, plates, glasses, and cups perched precariously among the debris. I dreaded going into the kitchen, where I could be sure there was even more mess - and no signs of dinner being prepared (let alone planned).
"Oh! You're home!" She sounded surprised, as if this hadn't happened every ... single ... day. I keep to a very regular schedule, leaving and returning at roughly the same time every day, Monday to Friday. She was the roommate from hell.
Michael leapt off the couch and hugged me around my thighs and started to regale me with the details of Thomas the Tank Engine, to which I distractedly attended while trying not to pick up a dish and throw it in anger.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
I've recently learned the term mirepoix - I can't recall where. It refers to the medley of celery, onions, and carrots that form the first step of many stews and soups. If you have a food processor, you probably just put them all through that, but ours has been broken for five months now, with parts on indefinite back-order, so I'm re-learning some skills and thought I'd share them with you. Just in case you end up in my situation. Or, you know, camping or at the cottage.
Also because: OCD
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Monday, May 5, 2014
|Inspired by this recipe from Elena's Pantry.|
What looks like a slice of garlic on top is actually a slice of shallot. See below for more about shallots.
I shared this picture of a Greek-influenced recipe (it includes lemon, chicken, and black olives) way back in February, but forgot to share the recipe! So here it is.
Friday, May 2, 2014
The #100happydays project that I, along with several friends, started in January following the death of my friend K.B., has come to a close. I have not yet decided whether I will do a "victory lap," make it a "365 happy days," or move on to something else.
In the meantime, the best way to get the stories behind each of the pictures is to visit my Pinterest board. And here are some collages and a few observations.
Labels: Gratitude Journal
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Have you heard of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)? Probably not. I hadn't until a relative was diagnosed following a suicide attempt. A person with BPD has a suicide rate 400 times greater than the general population.