blogging in the rain

Life was going to be titled: hitting the reset button…or…I’m not cranky, I’m just wet…or…a lot of what isn’t happening (namely sunshine and landscaping)…

But instead, it gets to be a bit random, as life can be.

1). Landscaping is not done. Not even close to done. Forty-five yards of soil delivered and spread, and a granite-graveled fire pit area. Then, rain for what feels like three weeks straight. Maybe more. Of course, there have been lovely, sunny days in between. Just not long enough to dry out the mud…

2). Since the rain is irritating the heck out of me, I have started a quilt. The logic in this is that you can’t sew outside even if it is sunny.

3). I am absolutely loving the independence that has come with Sonja’s drivers license.

4). The latest knitting project thrilled me when I learned intarsia. Up until now, I had only known how to do colourwork in the round. I was thrilled until I realized that I have made a gross miscalculation in yardage, and would have to buy three more balls of Rowan baby alpaca to finish. But I like it, a lot. So off to the yarn store I go.

5). It’s time to start a project that I can’t screw up.

6). I am going to the Manitoba Fibre Festival today!

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my sweet, crazy loki

We’ve got some serious sweetness going on here.

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We are at the six week mark.

And I’m at a loss for words. I love that tiny scrap of hound so much. “Tiny scrap” that is eating really well now, loving all the extra food coming his way. He’s gotten bigger, and looks so good now. So proud, I am, that he looks like a hound again. (How can someone not care to feed a dog? I’m still a bit haunted by the lack.)

Loves his walks. Heck, he understands what a walk is, now; and every time we say walk, he wags his tail. And we are constantly working on the social skills…to reduce the barking and pulling on the leash like a crazy thing every time he sees another dog. Loves meeting other dogs so much that he almost works himself into a lather. Not a good look. This is a recent thing, though, and sometimes he is sweet and social. I’m learning that he is in a constant learning/adapting/changing phase at the moment as he experiences all the new, wonderful, doggy things that he didn’t have before.

Including house training. Working on that one, let me tell you, and it’s the most stressful part of having a new dog. (Not that much different from potty-training a human, and I didn’t like that much, either!). Loki had to get used to food, first of all, then what happens after the food. It’s a process of constant vigilance and constant praise. And constant vigilance. It’s exactly like puppy watch, only with hardwood floor this time.

And then there’s Odin. Odin thinks the new kid is great, but please, let’s get one thing straight. They are not best friends. They are brothers, and Odin is the big one. Period.

Yes, he’s fitting in just fine. He is just so sweet.

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almost tomorrow

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The bees have been having a field day, quite literally, in the clover in the back yard. Since there was only dirt, we decided to let whatever was green, grow. Because my landscape guy was going to come in May. No, wait, June. How about July?

Now, I am very sure my landscaper is coming on Wednesday. This Wednesday! There will be grading, and flower beds, and a retaining wall, and boulders! I can’t wait!

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our Folklorama week

I don’t usually mention it…but we do it every year. It’s a big deal, it’s a lot of fun, and it is absolutely exhausting.

It’s our Folklorama week. We’ve been participating in the Scandinavian pavilion for years, starting with Sonja dancing in the children’s dance group when she was about five years old. Since then, we’ve all had a chance to sing, dance and act our way through many performances. All week long, at least three performances a night, dressed in period (woolen) costume. (In August!)

Our Scandinavian pavilion; it’s quite the amazing event, with so very many wonderful volunteers. The pavilion has been active in Folklorama since the start, forty-five years ago. It’s a huge commitment from so very many people. We are proud to be part of it (even though by the end of the week, we question our commitment to next year!)

The last two links go back to my posts from 2010, which was the one and only year I took the camera.

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the norm

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Yes, that is how bassets have fun. And it starts as soon as they wake up.

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Every morning begins with a wrestling session, one before breakfast, and one after. There are frequent matches during the day, interspersed with races and games of tug-of-war. It looks wild, to see the big basset teeth, but bassets are built with a lot (a lot!) of extra skin, so when Odin has Loki by the throat, he really doesn’t. It’s so funny to see Odin actually roll onto his back, to let Loki attack from above, and Loki has discovered that a really great place to sink his teeth into is the base of Odin’s fat tail, as he races up at him from behind.

Then, of course, are the marathon naps that follow play time. I think Loki really likes it here; I caught him wagging his tail in his sleep.

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yes, this is my garden; no, I’m not apologizing

Sometimes, it crosses my mind that I’m not supposed to be a vegetable gardener.

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I’ve been renewing my allotment contract with the city since 2008. In the very first year, I was so excited. I hadn’t thought that I would ever have a garden in the city. There were eight brand new lots that the city marked and tilled, and I couldn’t wait to set up my rows and start planting. Then, I met my neighbour to the left of me. She was a complete newbie to vegetable gardening, and had spent all winter reading up on all the exciting ways to grow your own food naturally. There were carrots planted in a neat triangle, and squash that was attempting to trellis. Lots of artfully planted flowers. If, by chance, she said, that her cucumbers vined their way onto my lot, I was welcome to pick and eat. She talked to me constantly; about her teenagers that didn’t understand her new-found passion, her hundred-and-one ailments, her lack of income, and her need for everything organic.

The gentleman to the right of me planted potatoes. And said hello.

There was a lot of fighting that year. The lady beside the potato planting gentleman got mad because his potato went onto her lot. She called the police. Everyone else was mad at the newbie gardener for using coyote urine to deter the bunnies.

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The next year, the city turned the eight lots into four, declaring that it had been a mistake to make the lots so small. The newbie gardener never came back, and the police calling lady didn’t, either. It was me, the potato man, and two other happy gardeners. Since then, Mr. Jean the potato farmer has been my right hand neighbour. The ditch is on my left. He has been witness to all my gardening exploits. The tomatoes that outgrew their cages and fell over. The snap peas that I never got around to trellising, the corn that stunted from lack of water, the flea beetle infestation on the kale, and the potatoes that I planted so, so deep. The wet, the dry. The ongoing saga of the weeds he witnessed year after year. And year after year, I apologized for the mess, as he offered to mow the quack grass on my three sides, and hoe the side that bordered his.

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Last summer was particularly difficult. I had no time. None. It had been a frantic planting. I cringed at the weeds that reached my knees. Whenever I would see Mr. Jean at the garden, I would joke about how the weeds were a decoy so the bunnies and deer couldn’t find the food, and then I would apologize. I was so embarrassed and overwhelmed.

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In spite of all this, I love gardening. I plant and I dig in the dirt, I weed and I am so happy. I give all those little sprouts care, and they reward me with gorgeous growth and produce. This summer, I have time to tend it properly, and I am in heaven. Two hours goes by like ten minutes. And this summer, I am not apologizing. Because something unexpected happened this year. (Something that makes me think the gardening gods are laughing at me behind my back.)

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Early in the season, I decided to spread straw between the rows, and around the plants. This would be the solution to the weeding, and the watering. This would look tidy, and nothing would get out of hand. What wasn’t supposed to happen, was that the straw was full (FULL!) of wheat seeds. Those wheat seeds germinated. I was now a wheat farmer. No matter how much I ripped out all those little wheat grass sprouts, more came, and more. Instead of weeds, I had wheat. (The gardening gods are now rolling on the floor, howling with laughter. I am sure of it.)

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So, no…I am not apologizing any more. I am not feeling guilty, or embarrassed. I am still weeding out the wheat. I will find a way to appease the gardening gods; and in the meantime, we just enjoyed a lovely dinner of fresh green beans, grilled zucchini, snap peas, roasted baby beets and a salad of beet tops.

It’s a good summer to be a gardener. It’s good to be a gardener.

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glorious gardens

This is a Manitoba summer, and this was a nice way to appreciate it; the Master Gardener Garden Tour.  Only the second year running, I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity and aspects of garden. 

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You know the feeling, where the garden you have, or hope to have, cannot possibly live up to the idea of the perfect garden.  As much as you try, or hope, there is so many variables to gardening.  Something does not survive the winter, or another plant is not performing the way it was advertised on the tag.  Or, one plant “takes off” and the others are struggling.  So frustrating.  This inevitably makes me feel like I haven’t lived up to the standard that I have set for my garden.

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This garden tour, which took place in my city, was a real revelation.  I came to the realization that my garden, my simple garden at my old house, was a treat.  It was pretty and colourful, and interesting in all seasons.  It may have been plagued with powdery mildew from time to time, and the miniature delphiniums did not stand up straight, but it the Thunderchild crabapple bloomed magnificently in May, and the raised bed was full of peonies in June.  There was one year where the roses made a magnificent show, even as the leaves on the Hope for Humanity rose turned to lace from tiny green worms.  The year the orange and the purple Echinacea bloomed in tandem was the year that I realized orange and purple are glorious together.  (The next year, the orange died, but that’s gardening for you.) 

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This garden tour made me realize that gardening is a brilliant work in progress that is therapeutic and beautiful, all at the same time.  Gardening is not perfection, it is flashes of seasonal brilliance.  It is a labour of love, and knowledge, and enjoyment (even as we hope for a stellar performance…bloom, dammit, bloom!) 

In the garden, I have (inadvertently) planted the invasive…and the prone to aphids…and at times the absolutely clueless as to what it actually was.  Gardening has always been fun. It’s been such a learning experience, and sometimes (most times) I can take absolutely no credit for it. 

I just love it. 

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