Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Garden Report #38

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

New Zealand by Richard Gustin
• Writers write: The afternoon sun is strong even on a cold, winter’s day. The snow banks in our garden get higher with each passing week. As gardening season is still in the future, I have time to spend on theater. Each year, The Regina Fringe Festival produces a fund raiser. The Festival is truly a shoe string operation, scraping by with minimal funds and any monies raised are appreciated and needed. This year, Jodi Sadowsky will be producing the event, Roberta Nichol will be the musical act and yours truly will be presenting Glory Days. Of my six plays, this one has been the most popular with audiences. It has played to full houses and standing ovations in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Calgary and Regina. I just happen to have some tickets for sale and if you would be willing to support The Regina Fringe, send me an email. The show is Friday, March 25th at 7:30. The venue is The Royal Saskatchewan Museum. Tickets are $30 advance and $35 at the door, if there are any left.

• Readers write: Reader Richard Gustin writes that he is enjoying his trip through New Zealand. Richard was kind enough to forward a few photos of his journey. New reader but old friend Joanne Bonneville writes “I look forward to reading about gardens while ours is still covered with the highest snow banks we have seen in years.” Lyn Goldman writes that she can relate to my dad’s voice reincarnated in my body. Lyn claims that her mother is often channeled through her body when she sees someone wearing inappropriate attire. Regular contributor Cheryl Hutton writes that the bit about cooking bacon in the buff is indeed funny. Sure it’s funny Cheryl, until you get splattered with some grease. Cheryl and her fellow actor/husband Aaron Coates have purchased their first house in Calgary, after living in the same apartment for seven years. I can relate to their enthusiasm. It was February 26th, 1973 when I purchased my first house just across the street from where I am living and writing, today. Nancy Topping writes “Spring will be here one day.” Ah, the voice of faith. Jodi Sadowsky writes that she made the Yorkshire Pudding from the recipe here at The Garden Report and that it was delicious. Roberta Nichol writes that she enjoys all of The Garden Reports but she adds that #37 “is so damn funny and entertaining.” Are we talking Reader’s Digest funny or George Carlin funny? Piet Berkenpas out of Vancouver thinks that #37 was funny as well. Piet wrote “I will probably be found smiling all day.” If my kids are reading this, please note that there are a few people out there who find me entertaining.

Silver Leaf Dogwood
• Fashion police: In 1969, I was a first year student at The University. I had a favorite pair of Levis’ jeans that were threadbare and faded. A real fashion statement for the times as they went with my tie dyed t-shirt. Go ahead and laugh. Every Friday, I would stop into the university cafeteria for lunch because they prepared a decent fish and chip meal. The cashier who would ring up my purchase took me aside one day. She was a woman in her sixties. She said in a quiet voice “I don’t want to embarrass you but I can’t help to notice how poor you are as your jeans are past the rag bag stage. I mean, they are so worn out. My husband died last year and he was about your size. If you don’t’ mind, I will bring his pants to work next week so you can have a decent pair to wear.” I thanked the woman for her kindness but I assured her that I preferred my threadbare Levis’ over her husband’s slacks. She was somewhat surprised by my refusal but life carried on. A few years later, I run into this woman, her name was Jean, and she was with my mother. When my mother introduced me to Jean as her son, Jean turned to my mother and said “this is the boy I told you about. The one too proud to wear my husband’s pants even though his ass was sticking out of his jeans.” My mother responded “I know, I know. I’ve tried to get him to stop wearing those but he won’t. It’s so embarrassing.”

What? I had a recent visit with a long time friend. He is in his seventies and still going strong, but his hearing has diminished. As with many men, he refuses to get a hearing aid. He kept providing me with great answers to questions that I didn’t ask. It was as if we were playing a bizarre game of Jeopardy. He would provide the answer and I had to guess the question. The conversation went something like this: Q. What is the name of your church choir? A. Church? A small Alliance one in Saskatoon. Q. What? A. That’s where the funeral is being held. Q. What funeral? A. Didn’t you ask about Don’s funeral? Q. When did Don die? A. Aren’t you keeping up with the conversation?

• What? A second time: We had a lovely man who worked at Lakeview. His hearing was going and the conversations were getting increasingly bizarre. I had to ask him to get a hearing aid, which is a delicate subject to broach with anyone. I asked him point blank “have you thought about getting a hearing aid?” His response: “Sure. Have you thought that you should quit mumbling.” As far as he was concerned, the problem was solved, once I did my part.

Little Princess Spirea-one of my favourites
 • Garden Tip: For myself and for many people who work in the greenhouse/florist world, alstromeria is a favorite flower. It is a complex flower and yet simple at the same time, if that makes sense to you. They last a long time and their colors are not harsh. A bouquet of alstromeria is a lovely addition to any room, especially at this time of year. Can anyone guess what I got my Mrs. for Valentines?

• Today’s Thought: I have spent the better part of my life believing that happiness was a destination, only to discover that it was a part of the journey.

• A Scottish dream come true: Most of us remember when it was illegal to advertise beer or liquor in this province. Molson’s wanted to thank their customers so they sent out sales reps with an advertising budget of sorts. The reps hung around off sale vendors and if you purchased a Molson’s product, they matched your purchase with additional product. My buddies and I were around twenty or twenty-one and we stopped at The Plains off sale to pick up a dozen Pilsner. In I go and the Molson rep introduces himself after my purchase, thanks me, and he buys me another dozen. So, I asked him had I purchased twenty-four, would he have matched that and he said “yes”. Pushing the point, I asked if I had purchased thirty-six, would he have matched that number and again, he said “yes.” I had to quit asking because that was all of the money I had so I bought my thirty-six and he bought me an additional thirty-six. My buddies were expecting me to come out with a dozen beer under my arm. They were pleasantly surprised, and then overjoyed, when I emerged carrying three cases of twenty-four beer each. There might have been a party that night.

• Garden Tip: Reader Sherri Tutt asks about starting her saved begonias and her tomato seeds. Begonia tubers should be started at the end of February or the beginning of March. If they grow too big for a four inch pot, they can be bumped up to a five or even a six inch container. The key is not to overwater a begonia tuber. In the greenhouse, tomato seeds are started in early April for a four inch finished pot. They need about five to six weeks to look nice at that size. If you are wanting to grow your tomatoes in the conventional six pack size, tomato seeds only need around four weeks growing time. If your tomato seedlings are getting too tall, then pinch them back. I always prefer a short and stocky plant over a tall and lanky one. Also, in a window sill situation, it is always best to rotate your plants with a quarter turn every day. This allows the plant to develop on all sides.

• Germany calling: I have just found out that The Garden Report is now being read more in Germany than in Denmark, which used to occupy third place. I have no idea why it is popular in Germany. I have to assume that there are quite a few people there who read English. Sadly, I know a thousand Dutch jokes, five thousand Scottish jokes and twenty-thousand Canadian jokes, but I don’t know a single Danish or German joke.

• Garden Tip: If you are planning on rebuilding your garden or starting a new one, best to get some decent design advice. Two people who can assist you, though they are booking up quickly, are Heather Lowe at 545-1519 and Ingrid Thiessen at 789-5449.

• The staple of life: Good bread is a very popular topic amongst our readers. When you are in Vancouver, visit La Baguette on Grandville Island. It is an incredible, old school bakery that sells artisan breads. I must confess that I am rarely a big fan of Danishes but at this bakery, they are heavenly. Nothing is more enjoyable than one of their Danishes with a strong cup of coffee, sitting on a wooden bench at dockside during a sunny afternoon.

• Winnipeg too: In Winnipeg, we wander over to The Forks which is located just south of downtown to buy good bread from Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company. They are also known for their whole wheat cinnamon buns which are very popular, though they have never appealed to me.

• More good stuff: I wrote that while I have never been fond of Danishes, I have experienced ecstasy eating one from La Baguette in Vancouver. A similar situation applies to brownies. I rarely eat one even when they appear on a dessert buffet. I am always more tempted by matrimonial cake or a lemon tart. Regardless, when we are in Winnipeg for The Fringe, Maureen and I share a brownie from The Fyxx Coffee Shop in The Exchange District, every day. There is something about their brownies that is highly addictive and better than any others.

New Zealand by Richard Gustin
• Excellent product: We had a loaf of ‘Saskatchewan Sourdough’ from Orange Boot this week. The crust was incredibly chewy, just the way I want it to be. Great taste on the inside as well. We ate it with supper and we never serve bread with supper.

• Saturday Night out: A lovely night at the symphony with readers Jim and Susan Rollins. The title for the concert was ‘The RSO Goes to The Oscars’ and they played a number of scores including ‘The Godfather’, ‘Gone With The Wind’ and ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. What really shone through for me were the oboe and the English horn, two instruments that are not always noticeable, but last night they were given their chance in the spotlight. There is a new oboe player within the orchestra and she has brought a sense of passion with her to the chair. Only the concertmaster provides more character than her.

My garden-photo makes for a great screensaver
• Thank you: With my mother’s passing, our family requested in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to The Care and Share Group. The group is comprised of around sixty seniors from North Central, who meet every Tuesday for lunch and a social at The Albert Scott Community Center. Mom was active in that group for thirty years. Twelve of you took the time and found the generosity to send checks, and we want each of you to know how much that is appreciated. 
 • God’s grace: Many of us believe that God’s grace is available to everyone, even a condemned prisoner standing on the scaffold awaiting execution, yet we find it difficult to accept that it is available for us as well.

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in still cold and snowy Regina.

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