Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Garden Report #72

Sunday, March11th, 2012

Writers write: In Canada, we have two designations for habitual and or dangerous criminals. The more severe of the two is to be convicted as a Dangerous Offender. Once assigned this label, the offender has great difficulty in being released from jail. The second label is that of a Long Time Offender. This labels provides for a long period of jail, plus ongoing supervision. Both are used judiciously.

          Recently, The Crown has made an application for a nineteen year old to be designated one or the other. His defense is his age. The problem is, he has assaulted two women already. The first, when he was seventeen and the second, when he was eighteen. As a society, at what point do we say enough is enough? Should he get a lesser sentence, and upon release, assault again and if so: At what point do we say he has done enough damage? Is the number five, is it ten or do we stop him at two?

         As often occurs in criminal court, the defendant offers up the excuse of having grown up in less than ideal circumstances. Poverty, neglect and addiction are mentioned. I understand that childhoods have been painful. That is tragic. But less than ideal child rearing is an obstacle to be overcome, not used as a rationalization for anti social behavior.

A pink peony in my back garden
         I do not have a problem with The Crown’s attempt. At some point, we as a society have the right to say to those who wage personal wars against others, that they can no longer live amongst us.

Readers write:

         • Alan Bratt weighed in regarding last weeks’ praise of young workers. “I absolutely agree with what you said about young workers. Over the years, the majority of my helpers (at the curling club) have been high school or university students and time and time again, they have stepped up in ways I have neither expected nor asked. They just did what had to be done. In the times when they have fallen short it was usually because I had not instructed them clearly and the fault was mine. I have been fortunate to work with such fine people.”

         • Marcus Fernando had this to say about the phrase ‘stroller mom.’ Marcus writes to us from Birmingham, England. “I guess that Tina is technically a ‘stroller mom’. However, she isn't! Why? Well firstly, because over here they tend to use the word ‘buggy’ rather than ‘stroller’. ‘Pram’ seems to be right out! Somehow the term ‘buggy mom’, or more accurately over here, ‘buggy mum’, doesn't sound quite as pleasant as the Canadian version!

         In any case, Tina isn't even a ‘buggy mum’, and I am not a ‘buggy dad" for that matter because we opted to go with carrying Pascal in a sling. He loves it, we find it much more convenient and it's cheaper. So does that mean she's a ‘sling mum’?

         • Gail Bowen is enthused and she wishes to pass her sentiments along. “Thanks to you and Larry at Sherwood Greenhouses for sending along the gorgeous photo of the ‘Field of Dreams’ corn. It's now the wallpaper on my BlackBerry, so it will be a gift that keeps on giving--the best kind. Could you please add our daughter Hildy and her six and half year old son, Ben, to your list of subscribers? Last summer Hildy and Ben discovered the joy of gardening, and they're eager to begin the next chapter. Last week they started some vegetable seeds and I know that they will enjoy a summer with ‘Field of Dreams’.”

         • Kelly Pierson wrote this: “I just read The Garden Report. Your reports always allow your readers the time to plan, to dream and renew our enthusiasm. Chances are, we’ve all been thinking about gardening for months, which is a benefit of our long winters. For gardeners in Saskatchewan, spring is a race against time! I can’t wait.”

         • Kate Berringer recommends cruising as a winter holiday. She sent this to us after reading The Garden Report on her Blackberry. Read on. “Currently, sitting on the promenade deck of the Caribbean Princess, waiting to disembark here in San Juan, having just completed a seven night cruise around the southern Caribbean. Love the photos you sent. They remind me of the fabulous colors of the Caribbean. I highly recommend cruising and cruising in the Caribbean specifically-excellent food, excellent service and all the permission in the world to be as lazy as you like while enjoying the warmth and easy manner of the islands.”

         • Sandra Rayson enjoys her Sunday morning read: “The Garden Report makes Sunday mornings that much more enjoyable.”

         • Jodi Sadowsky is a fan, as well. “Thanks Rod. Enjoyed reading as always.”

         • Roberta Nichol is still raving over the photos labeled ‘Anne’s garden’. “It's a magazine cover, isn't it? Martha Stewart would run screaming if she saw it, she'd be so threatened!”

         • Morag Armbruster, a good Scottish girl as if there is any other type, is enjoying the read. “Thank you for this week’s Garden Report. I am glad you are feeling well enough to continue on. So, thank you Rod for giving me those few moments to sit, ponder and always…have a giggle!”

         • Mike Liske from The Classic Landscape Company wrote to say “Something else that has come to my attention this year, is the amount of people that I see, that have read The Garden Report from “that guy that had that garden center, you know the one by the airport”…”

         • Joana Cook is living in Africa at the present time and reads The Garden Report on that continent. She sent this very interesting piece of geography along. “I just got back from Namibia and let me tell you, the coastline of the country is absolutely incredible. You see the dunes of the Kalahari desert run right into the Atlantic ocean.”

         • Sandy Thiessen had a job watering plants in a greenhouse. She understands the importance of good watering habits. “I just completed reading the latest blog! I identify with the watering misconception! When I worked at the greenhouse, I was delegated to watering because I was more reliable than the other employees! It is most definitely not the mindless job that people think it is!”

The Pike sisters off to buy groceries in Canada
         • This short and sweet from Penney Pike out of Calgary. “Just got back from a sojourn in the sun and was delighted to find a few Garden Reports waiting for me!” 

          • Susan Rollins has been enjoying the birds of winter. “I was happy to see your comments on Snowy Owls. Most days, as you drive along Highway 11 from Regina to Lumsden/Craven, you can see between one and four beautiful Snowy Owls sitting on top of the power poles. Parliaments (what a wonderful word) of Snowy Owls have been seen around The SIAAST campus and south of Regina, in the fields. They are having a great year whereas last year was not a good year for Snowy Owls. Their numbers were down and you had to look far and wide to find one.”

Best chips in town: We had supper at Nicky’s last week. They purchase their potatoes from one of the many growers at Craven. They wash and cut them at the café. What a difference it makes versus the frozen, bagged ones. First rate chips!

What separates comedy from the news: We were watching The National. Feature story, the robo call scandal. Many of the calls were orchestrated by a cell phone listed as belonging to a Pierre Poutine who lives on Separatist Street in Joliet, Quebec. Maureen says “have you noticed that The National sounds more and more as if it were written by Rick Mercer?”

Sharon Wallace's garden features clematis
 Garden Tip: I was buying groceries last week and I bumped into Ursula and Karl, who own U and K Greenhouse. They have their plugs (baby plants) in and have begun growing their hanging baskets. U and K are well known for growing some wonderful hangers and pots. They are located about seven miles north of Indian Head.

Recipe time: I love breakfast. Nothing gets me out of bed faster (other than the need to pee) than the smell of bacon, coffee, cornbread, waffles or pancakes. I do not understand purchasing a pancake and waffle mix from the grocery store because they are so easy to make from scratch. Here is an excellent pancake recipe that I enjoy.

         • Mix together one cup of flour, half a cup of corn meal, half a teaspoon of salt (optional), half a teaspoon of baking soda, one teaspoon of baking powder and half a teaspoon of nutmeg-fresh ground if you have that available.

         • Form a hole in the center of your dry ingredients. Take two eggs and separate the whites from the yolks. Add the two yolk, unbeaten, into the center of the bowl. Beat the two egg whites until they froth. This helps to make the pancakes a bit lighter.

         • Add in the whipped whites, one cup of milk and a teaspoon of vanilla. Mix together, but don’t over mix.

         • If you wish to add fruit such as banana slices or blueberries, I find it best not to add them into the mix. I like to pour the batter into the pan and then sprinkle in my fruit or walnuts.

         • I find it best if my pan is preheated on a medium heat. If it is a regular pan, I put in a tablespoon of canola oil just before adding in the pancake batter. If it is Teflon, I don’t use any oil. This recipe makes six pancakes, enough for two, especially if the other person does not show up. I always eat mine with a pat of butter and real, Canadian maple syrup. Can you say eh?

Free tickets: Every publication offers up something free for the readers now and again and at The Garden Report, we are no different. If you are interested in attending The Battle for the Prairies, which is an evening of Olympic style boxing, then send me an email. The event is Friday, March 30th at The Connexus Arts Center. The first bout begins at eight p.m. I have half a dozen tickets to give away. The boxing is presented by The Londsdale Boxing Club on Dewdney Avenue.

Free in return: Reader Cheryl Geiger-Paul delivered a zip lock bag of green leaves to me. The delivery appeared to casual observers to be an illicit exchange of euphoria inducing plants and that interpretation is correct. Cheryl is growing her own herbs, hydroponically and with grow lights, this winter. She gave me a taste of three varieties of basil, all organically grown. What a treat! Cheryl also recommends the marakesh stew at the 13th Avenue Coffee House. She says it is one of the best dishes she has ever eaten.

Garden Tip: For starting plants and containers, I find it best to use a quality potting soil such as Premiers Pro Mix. I know that I have mentioned this tip before, but a few of you have been phoning me to ask “what is that potting soil I should buy?” So, I know you didn’t write it down the first time.

Yea!: Reader CJ Katz of ‘Savor Life’ fame has a new gig. She is writing restaurant reviews for The Leader Post. She will do a good job as CJ loves to eat and to write. I think we are either related or soul mates.

Garden Tip: For most seedlings, there is not enough oomph from the sun in east facing windows at this time of year. I moved mine to a south window and they are showing signs of improvement.

Poison pen: I have not yet received a ‘poison pen’ response to The Garden Report, but that day will come. When I wrote for The Regina Free Press, I would get letters that either agreed or disagreed with my view point. No problem. Both types were published. Every now and again, a letter would arrive without a signature. Need I write that the letters were usually filled with some sort of rubbish? My publisher would always say the same thing about these nutcases: “It means we have arrived.” One in particular, took exception to me referencing my friend Ernie Wurm as “a good Catholic boy from the old neighborhood.” The writer who hid their beliefs behind their anonymity, assured me that there was a Catholic conspiracy to take over the world. Any reader can peruse one hundred of these type of letters, and the only difference is the target group. The rest of the language and intent remains the same.

         When I operated my garden center, I would receive complaints, now and again. Something that is normal to all businesses and had to be dealt with, and usually it could be. I was open eighty hours a week and some would still complain that I was not open enough hours. I would receive an anonymous letter about once every two years. Not an alarming rate but anecdotally, noteworthy. The writer would inform me of some grievance and usually end with a vague threat. On occasion, the writer would scribble their name in the signatory spot, but in an non legible style. I suppose their thinking was that they had the courage of their convictions, but not so much as to include a readable name or return address. My favorite anonymous letter assured me that the writer was a member of a very large law firm and that the firm would no longer be spending their thousands of dollars at my place. I have never in my life, received a letter from a lawyer that was not on letterhead and without a signature. Too funny, in a sad way.

A clay pot filled with flowers from last' summer's garden
 Garden Tip: When watering seedlings and other types of newly started plants, it is always best to use room temperature water. Cold water often shocks younger plants and sets them back.

Good news: I was just reviewing the crime stats for Regina. Lakeview continues to be one of the safest areas of the city. Our biggest concern is garage break ins and some residences are being hit. We still feel perfectly safe going for a walk after dark.

Liver Lovers’ Club: There will be a supper for those people so inclined to pay good money for liver and onions. We are so inclined. The supper will be at Ricky’s this Thursday. You have to pre register for the meal. If you are interested, let me know and I will hook you up with the man organizing this event. If you hate liver and onions, please leave your snarky remarks unspoken.

Great symphony: We were at The Regina Symphony Orchestra last evening and they had The South Saskatchewan Youth Symphony on stage with them for the opening overture. What power The RSO has when their numbers double with the added young people. The sound was so much fuller and layered with one hundred and ten musicians on stage. I would love to hear more of this format, much more.

Whoops: I received an email from the website of The Garden Report. The writer chastised me for not giving proper credit for the use of the photo of the ‘Bill Reid’ Canadian Artist Rose. I received the photo from a regular reader who grows many roses and I assumed, incorrectly, it was one of his. It was not. The photo of the ‘Bill Reid’ rose actually belongs to a gentleman named Peter Harris. He deserves the credit for that beautiful shot.

My sister with her baby, 'Timber'
My father did not lie to me: When I was a little boy, my father told me that I should always eat my molasses as it would put hair on my chest. I followed my father’s instructions. I will testify today, that I do have much hair on my chest. I have never asked my sister if she ate her molasses and how that turned out for her.

Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in a beautiful, spring like Regina.

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