Friday, May 30, 2014

Mine. All mine.

How appropriate that this card shows a Victorian image; the sentiment is certainly archaic. And it appalls me, frankly, that it was shared as something humorous. My daughter, as a matter of fact, shared it with the comment:

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Throwback: Reflections on my (failed) attempt at Xeriscape gardening

Our back yard in May 2014
This post is from May 2010 when I was very much looking forward to moving back to Ottawa from Colorado. 

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
Then we came to Colorado Springs: high plains, semi-arid. Dry, dry, dry. Sun, sun, sun. And we were at the tail end of a 3-year drought.

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
So I dug in with zeal. I enriched the soil, I bought sun-loving perennials and hardy ornamental grasses. I planted them, I fertilized them, and I covered them generously with mulch. I even cheated by allowing the built-in irrigation system to nurture them along.

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
This picture shows a section of one of our gardens: an ornamental blue fescue ("drought tolerant" my patootie!) on the left and the blasted Kentucky bluegrass on the right. Xeriscape fail.

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

Pedestrians, keep left.

Pedestrians, keep left. | Wynn Anne's Meanderings
Goose and goslings on the Ottawa River
I love the bicycle paths that run alongside some of Ottawa's beautiful open spaces and shorelines. In winter, the paths were arduous to walk (they weren't plowed), but come spring, they opened up and were a pleasure to navigate. Then came the bicycles.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dining in the Dark

Dining in the Dark | Wynn Anne's Meanderings
Just before heading into the dining room.
Last night, for two and a half hours, Steve and I , and our friends Ron and Heidi, were "blind" as we ate a four-course meal as part of a fundraiser for Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind. Every year, a local restaurant named Chances R invites people to don masks and eat an entire meal in the dark and gain a real appreciation for just one facet of life without eyesight.

Let me tell you how it unfolded.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Five Places: Bravo Zulu

My life in five places: the Bravo Zulu
The Bravo Zulu, circa 1981
The first time I met Steve, was on his sailboat, the Bravo Zulu*, a 20-foot sloop. On his meagre officer-cadet salary, he had managed to save enough shekels to buy his own sailboat. Pretty impressive way to meet women, no?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

True Love

True Love | Wynn Anne's Meanderings
Chris and K.B., May 25, 2013
A year ago I was absolutely thrilled to squeeze in a trip to Regina, SK, so I could be at my friend K.B.'s wedding. Mere months later, I hopped on another plane to attend her funeral service. Today, I am crying for her husband.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fiction Friday: French Toast

When I came downstairs the next morning, Bettany was just serving up French toast and a pot of coffee.

"Morning, Carla! Thought I'd surprise you with a hot breakfast!"

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Five Places: My Mother's Childhood Home

My mother's childhood home | Wynn Anne's Meanderings
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

Five Places: My Childhood Home

My siblings and I form a pyramid in front of our childhood home.
Top: Christine
Middle: Wynn Anne, Patricia
Bottom: Andrew, Stewart, Douglas, Harvey
My friend Bronwyn, of I, MayB, is posting a series based on the question:
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

Moving out of My Comfort Zone

1. Macro shot of a tulip's reproductive parts.
I'm kind of a nut about photography, especially flowers. It isn't cool or edgy, but I just love a pretty flower. And I know I'm not alone in this, judging by the hordes of people who were at the Ottawa Tulip Festival this weekend, taking pictures with their cell phones, iPads, and cameras of every shape and size.

Friday, May 16, 2014


Spring | Wynn Anne's Meanderings
The forest floor, May 13, 2014

According to Lucy Maud Montgomery (through Emily of New Moon's teacher Mr. Carpenter), "spring has been responsible for more trash than anything else in the universe of God." While this is undoubtedly true, I am really quite unwilling to resist its pull.

And why should I? It brings such joy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Do you ever look back on things you did when you were young and just . . . wonder, what was I thinking? Every spring, when I see the tulips burst forth in all their glory, the same thing happens to me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Almost-One-Dish Dinner: Layered Meat Loaf

Layered Meat Loaf | Wynn Anne's Meanderings
This card was NOT given to me!
Meat loaf gets a bad rap. I mean, sure it's really high in fat and kind of has an odd texture . . . but it can also be really tasty. And with this recipe it also holds a hidden surprise and uses up some of your leftovers, which makes it even better.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Oops. I did it again.

Spring in Ottawa | Wynn Anne's Meanderings
Russian Princess
Today was one of those glorious spring days that send a siren call to everyone: come out and play in the sun! So I did. I decided to take Kane for a walk at the Tulip Festival.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fiction Friday: Dead Weight

[This picture was staged.]
I hung my purse on the hook in the front hall and peeked into the living room where Bettany and Michael were draped on the couch watching TV. As expected.

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

Chop-chop! How to chop onions and celery.

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


I am very happy to share that I've needed a lot fewer of these lately, thanks to massage, acupuncture, and rest. The pain in the a$% is getting better!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Monday, May 5, 2014

Lemon Chicken with Roasted Cauliflower

Lemon Chicken with Roasted Cauliflower | Wynn Anne's Meanderings
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

Reflections on One Hundred Happy Days

#100happydays | Wynn Anne's Meanderings

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.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Borderline Personality Disorder

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.

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...