Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Garden Report #24

The Garden Report #24

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

The lazy days of summer in old Lakeview

I love my neighborhood: I make no apologies for being a Lakeview lover. I moved into the neighborhood February 26th, 1973 and I have remained here because this is where I want to live. One of the things I enjoy is when we come together as neighbors. Yesterday, Lakeview United Church held their tea and bake sale. I took it in. Hugs from old friends, updates from those I have not seen for a year or two and neighbors at every table. Very much, a coming together of our community. Tea sandwiches and dainties served by school mate and reader Joan Ziffle, who informed me of the arrival of her new granddaughter. Sitting with Freddie Hammond, who I used to work with and sharing a story or two, realizing that Freddy is perhaps one of the kindest people I have ever met. Getting a free kiss from Jenifer Cohen with Bernie looking on and telling a lie or two with Keith Pickets. And the lovely women of Lakeview decided to charge whatever you wanted to give, a collection basket instead of a charge for the tea and lunch. I tossed in a fiver, feeling somewhat guilty knowing that I had eaten more than my share and had way too much fun in the process. One can live anywhere they choose, but not everywhere has a community attached as we have in Lakeview.

Champlain Roses - first year planting

• Readers Write: Jodi Sadowsky wrote “I really enjoyed the tulip photos…so colorful and beautiful.” Noelle Chorney who is the editor for The Gardener for the Prairies thanked us for the plug in #23. Noelle says if anyone wants further information on her wonderful magazine, go to As I wrote last week, it would be a wonderful Christmas gift for many people. Alan Bratt was pleased with the rant regarding store opening on Remembrance Day. He feels that Remembrance Day is more important than another sale. Marsha Kennedy, one of our artist/readers wrote “I love your Garden Reports because they give such a wonderful sense of community history and endearing humor.” Now I am blushing. Don List weighed in for the first time with “I have become fond of your report over the last few months…your report is a reminder to me to take the time for reflection.” Carolyn Morse who is a sister of Ian Cook, received her first blog on Sunday. Her response was “I would love it if you send me more.” Murray Wallace writes “…keep it coming.” The snowman  was constructed by Wills Bessai-Saul whose mother is one of our readers.

• Similar style: Reader Ann Anderson responded to last Sunday’s blog immediately. I have pasted in her reply because I noticed how similar her writing style is to mine. Maybe she will become a guest editorialist. “Hi Rod, thanks for the wonderful break from my own writing! Your message prompted me to look up from my laptop, furl up the blind and take a moment to enjoy the scenery below my window. A family is enjoying the warm sun in Victoria Park, a solitary man is lost in memories beside the Cenotaph, and the contractors are busy making the best of the remaining fair weather to work on the new plaza. Life is good.”

• Similar Style #2: Living in Minneapolis is a writer/performer/blog reader named Amy Salloway. Amy writes plays about body issues, teenage girl angst and growing up Jewish. Obviously, she writes about much different material for the theater than I do. When I take in Amy’s theater work, I am always struck by how similar our styles are, even though our topics are completely different. We shared no similar classes, directors or communities, yet we arrived on the same path with our writing. Whereas writer/performer/blog reader John Huston and I attended the same fine arts program, albeit eight years apart, grew up in the same city and we are both men. But our writing styles are totally different.

• Grocery store humor: I was in the grocery store last Tuesday and a father was shopping with his fourteen year old daughter. Most of us know what drama queens they can be at that age, the daughter that is. Dad wanted to buy some shower soap but his daughter objected. “I can’t stand the smell of that soap Dad! If you buy it, I’ll leave home.” Dad puts the soap into his shopping cart and does not say another word. The girls shouts “Dad!” Dad looks at his girl and says quietly, “you did say you would leave home, right?”

• Garden Tip: I have heard long time gardeners say that the best time to garden is in the winter, when the temperature is cold and there is snow on the ground. Their reasoning is that in January and February, your ‘mind garden’ grows perfect crops. There are few weeds and definitely no insects. The fruit is always sweeter and the tomatoes never have a blight. The hostas never have slugs and the rain is always gentle, just the way you like it. Your back is never sore. Yep. It’s the perfect time to garden.

• The Green Spot: What started as a small booth at The Farmers’ Market selling vegetarian sushi, morphed into a small bistro on 12th Avenue. When Gary and Sunshine had to vacate that spot, they took over the old VIP Clothing location on Hamilton Street. The new location is considerably larger and has a nice feel to it. While I am not a vegetarian, I do love good food of any description. The Green Spot serves up vegetarian and vegan fare with some gluten free products. They have a wide array of in house, fresh roasted coffees and some lovely teas. The baked treats are very tasty, especially the muffins, and the soups are excellent. It is a place more for a lovely lunch than an intimate dinner. One last thing, the staff are real as opposed to the plastic versions I see at the chains.

• Fringe Story: When we started touring with The Fringe, we learned that many of the performers move to a vegetarian diet for the tour, even if they do not practice vegetarianism the rest of the year. The reason? It stops them from eating what they refer to as ‘the gut bombs’ that are so readily available from the fast food joints. It forces them to seek out places that provide healthier eating alternatives. We tried it and it was just fine though after a week or so, I would sneak in a bacon and tomato sandwich. I am not a fanatic.

• Fringe Story #2: The top performers on the tour can and usually do pull out some decent money. They live well, if not expensive lives. But the circuit can be as equally cruel as it is rewarding. We were in Edmonton in 2003 and a young couple had a good show. They got a glowing, four star review from a very picky reviewer at The Journal. But their show did not draw a large audience. This sometimes happens. We were in line with them for our final payout. They got their money and the young woman started to cry. We asked what the problem was. Their next festival was in Victoria and after expenses, they only had enough money for either gas or food, but not both. Ever since that day, whenever Fringe performers stay with us, we always load them up with lots of food.

Will act for food: On Tuesday when I was grocery shopping, I ran into one of my friends who is a well known professional actor in our community. He was stocking shelves at the grocery store, just to feed himself. His phone has not rung for a year. There has been a real drought for the film community in the last year. SCN closed and while no one got rich from SCN’s money, at least some people got fed. Corner Gas wrapped up their filming and Little Mosque does a lot of shooting in Toronto. Now there appears to be a problem with the film tax credit program and so I am told, a lot of shows are now being shot in Winnipeg. What was a very active and vibrant collection of film makers, actors, writers and producers is quickly disappearing. It took years to develop a set of well trained film people in this province, and in the last two years, it has shrunk. People need to eat and they have gone on to other things in order to get a paycheck. Potash is important to this province, but so is culture. We will now have many of our stories either left untold or told by people who are not from the land. This is sad. Someone needs to fix it. Hopefully, Mr. Wall will read this.

• The Last Days of Good Time Charlie’s: Don List from Birdsong Productions got some funding from CBC and is having a screening of his documentary, on Saturday, November the 20th at 3:30. The screening will occur at The Exchange on 8th Avenue. There will be a musical jam before and after the screening. This is one of our stories that needed to be told.

• Garden Tip: With the arrival of the snow on Wednesday, it is a good idea to shovel lots of it on top of or around your more tender plants. Snow is a wonderful insulator. In years of good snow, plant survival is always increased even with extreme temperatures. Whereas, in moderate temperature years, when there is no snow cover, damage can be quite severe.

• Garden Tip: While snow can be a wonderful insulator, wet snow hanging on tree and shrub branches can be detrimental. Best to give the branches a light shake to drop the snow off than to have uncontrolled breakage. Back in the late nineties, we had a snow storm in October when the leaves were still in full force. The weight of snow broke off a limb on my Dolgo Crab. The limb was somewhere around twenty-five years old and in good shape, yet the snow destroyed it quite quickly.

• Life Lessons: It has often been said that God places people into our lives at critical junctions, to teach us lessons that we need to learn. When we like those people placed in our lives, the experience can be described as enjoyable. More often than naught, our lesson teachers are very irritating people. We do not like those people. They challenge our concept of self. These people show us that while we proclaim we have patience, understanding and empathy, that when pushed, we have very little. And the lesson is that we need to grow and to change. But who wants to change? That requires work.

• Life Lessons continued: I had one of these lesson teachers inserted into my life a few years back. He and I came into conflict on a regular basis. I found my reaction to him so upsetting that finally, I sought the counsel of three different friends who are from the clergy. After all, the clergy deal with human frailty on a regular basis. That is their specialty. What did I learn from my journey? Nothing that would be described as an epiphany. Nothing that will ever be used in a book of famous quotes. What I did learn is that my journey is not complete. That I have to actively partake in it to grow. That patience and understanding have to be acquired and practiced on a daily basis, rarely do they occur naturally. And finally, I learned that I cannot change another person, but I can change how I accept that person and the role they play in my life. It was not an easy lesson to learn, but obviously one that I needed.

• Gender wars: When a husband and a wife are having breakfast, the husband assumes his wife is thinking that he is ‘it’, everything she ever wanted in a mate. In reality, the wife is usually thinking of how many compromises she had to make to arrive at this junction.

• My own breakfast: One morning my beloved looked across the table as I read the news paper, unshaven I was, and in my underwear. She spoke: “You have no idea how many of my feminist ideals I had to set aside to be involved with you.” What could I say but “thank you, I think.”

Snowman by Wills Bessai-Saul
Talk to you in a week’s time…Rod McDonald in Regina

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