Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Garden Report #92

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Murphy having a cat nap in the garden
• Writers write: The Kidney Foundation has an online newsletter that they send out once a month to patients, families, caregivers and friends. At the bottom of this month’s newsletter, there was this statement: “Just forty-five years ago, kidney disease was a death sentence. Today it’s not. Research is the hope for the future.” For obvious reasons, it resonated with me.

     Maureen tells the story of how, as a student nurse, they were called in to a room to look at the brand new, never seen before, dialysis machine. The year was 1965. I asked her what they were doing prior to that for us patients. She said “we gave you a shot of morphine to help you pass over to the other side and we gave your family a box of Kleenex. Families would plead with us, asking us to do something to save their loved ones and there was nothing we could do.” I think about that story as I head up to my bedroom, where the health district has installed my own dialysis suite. I think about how some things have gotten better.

     I get to dialyze at home with my wife and my cat wandering in and out of my bedroom, with my computer, my television and my cup of tea. No longer do I have to go to The General Hospital, three times a week and sit there with thirty-six others, watching the clock tick down on our four hour treatments.

     One day, sometime in the future, they will be able to clone our kidneys. There will be no need for anti rejection drugs as the new kidney will be compatible with our bodies. Dialysis will be viewed as the dark ages of renal failure. Until that time comes, most of us patients have a lot of gratitude for the people who worked so hard to invent, develop and improve the dialysis machines we have today.

• Readers write:

     • We received this from Randa, Judy Burlock’s daughter. “Dad forwarded this week's Garden Report to me and we wanted to send you a note. Dad says to thank you for your beautiful tribute to our Judy. We both enjoyed your cute little story about her. Not only was she a smart, kind and sexy 40 year old then, she was a smart, kind and sexy 70 year old too! Thank you for continuing to send your Garden Report to Mom's email. We are looking forward to your next issue.”

     • Terena Murphy Bannerman has an opinion about my ability to speak French. Here it is: “Your story about speaking French took me back. After growing up in Ireland, I spent a couple of years in France, then after being back in Ireland for a month, moved to Canada. In Toronto airport, waiting for the plane that would bring me to the prairies, I got chatting to two Quebecoise’s. When they heard that I was bilingual, they happily started chatting in French and to my horror I could only understand about half of what they said! Happily, I had not lost all my French during that month in Ireland, but was having problems understanding the accent and all the slang. So, perhaps that's why people don't understand your perfect Grade 9/10 French? Maybe you speak ‘French French’? Gardening happily in the lush valley.” Rod’s clarification: Terena, I was too subtle with my words. My perfect French is anything but perfect and that is why French speakers always respond in English. They can’t understand my pronunciation. Even my nephew, Ryan McDonald, when he was a French immersion student in Grade Three, would say “Uncle Rod, that is not how you pronounce those words.”.

      • CJ Katz loves great food and coffee. I wrote that The Broadway in Saskatoon makes a wonderful latte and she has another tip. “If anyone is in Minneapolis, they must try Caribou Coffee. They beat any coffee shop, hands down. It's exceptional, full bodied but not bitter, complex with layers of flavor and a lovely nutty round finish. I haven't had a cappuccino like that in years. By the way, my cookbook, Taste: Seasonal Dishes from a Prairie Table will be out at the end of August and it will be available at Chapter's, McNally Robinson's, Amazon, Safeway and Co-op.”

     • This from Georgia Hearn. “Wow! Thanks Rod. A wonderful start to my Sunday. I agree that the Farmers Market is a treat to visit and you cannot rush. There is so much to see and do and meeting friends. Have you tried the Russian Cafe and Deli? Plain and simple, good food in a lively Russian theme. Nice change.”

     • Kate Berringer is a big fan of The Farmers’ Market. Read on. “Great Garden Report again, Rod. Just thought I'd jump in on the produce price discussion. I am only too happy to pay more for produce at The Farmers’ Market. Not only do we pay for superior quality, I consider it a privilege to live where produce can be grown so readily. So I am happy to support local folks who make their living this way! I think of buying locally as a way of donating to support the economy of this fantastic place in which we live.”

      • Penney Pike always makes me laugh. Enjoy this bit from her: “Just got The Garden Report. A nice break from watching the Olympics. I love the Olympics. All those different sports with exceptional athletes. Every four years I always get inspired to maybe stop laying on the couch, eating bon bons and actually move every now and then...maybe this year.”

      • Roberta Nichol checks in with us. “Being the President of the Good Eaters' Club, I'm feeling a little bitter about your gastronomical experience at Calories and The Broadway Roastery. I should have been there. But I'm happy that you reported back to all of us. I'm glad to read The Good Eaters' Club has a growing membership! It's wonderful that Cheryl Geiger-Paul reports her culinary findings while in Budapest. I guess that would make her a Member-at-Large. Talk about an allegiance to the Club! Good on you, Cheryl!”

     • Jana Kutarna is a well known artist within our community and she has discovered the online version of The Garden Report. She writes “Rod, I enjoy your jokes in The Garden Report. Hope you enjoy the summer.”

A small part of my container garden
     • Robert Stedwill is a first rate member of The Liver Lovers Club. I am not making this up. I am a member, he is a member, and there is actually a club that goes out to eat liver and onions. Now stop your griping. It’s our money. Robert sent along short but sweet kudos. “Also, thank you for Thje Garden Report.”

Sebastian and Pascal - officially our youngest fans
     • Happy papa, Marcus Fernando, sent along a photo of new born son Sebastian. Accompanying the new born boy is his big brother, Pascal, who has been regularly featured here. Exhausted mother is Tina Hoffman. Many readers will know Marcus and Tina from The Fringe Festivals.

• Garden Tip: As the summer progresses, it is best for most gardeners to enter the garden with a pair of garden scissors in hand. Hanging baskets, potted plants and others can benefit from a bit of a clean up or haircut to be metaphorical. I also take my scissors to my herbs as cutting them back makes them stronger. Of course, I bring in the cuttings for my kitchen.

• Brian’s Crop Report: Reader Brian Lowe has been farming north of town for over fifty years. He has clarified my crop report from last week by adding more detail. Here it is: “Peas weren’t paying squat in the spring when seeding plans were put together. They’re paying better now, about 8.50 per bushel. Flax pays about the same per bushel as canola, but doesn’t yield as well on average and straw management can be a challenge. That’s all for now!” This explains why I only saw two quarters of flax on my trip to Saskatoon.

• Neighborhood barbeque: Several of the neighbors got together last Sunday evening for a barbecue/pot luck supper in Rotary Park. A great time with a good bunch of people. Three deadly desserts to choose from including June Blau’ rhubarb crisp. This dessert would be on my last meal request, prior to execution. Interesting to note that while all of us are growing older, none of us are talking about selling. As I have written before, this is a ‘feet first neighborhood.’ You raise your kids, your kids leave home, you grow old, one day the hearse comes along and picks you up. A feet first neighborhood.

A bit of lamium
• Garden Tip: I was out and about this week. The Rusty Shovel, located behind Toy ‘R’ Us, has a nice selection of pots and fountains. I also had a moment to visit with Larry over at Sherwood Greenhouses. Larry has some bedding plants left and they are looking nice. So, if you need to fix up an area for an upcoming wedding or reunion, he still has what you need. Larry is also selling some veggies, grown in the Qu’Appelle Valley. I bought a pound of young carrots from him for three bucks and they were very tasty.

• The Ex versus The Folk: When I was a kid, The Regina Exhibition could not come quick enough. We lived only a couple of blocks away and we were ever, so aware of its ominous presence. Scotsman’s’ Sunday was set up day and there was no charge to enter the grounds. Monday morning started out with The Children’s Day Parade and we participated most years, through The Dewdney Playground. I loved the midway, the carnival atmosphere, the junk food and the grandstand entertainment. That was then. This is now. The Ex no longer does it for me. I am apathetic at best, annoyed more often by what it represents in our culture. It’s lure has been lost and its siren call no longer seduces me.

     What I look forward to now during our summer is The Fringe Festival in early July and the upcoming Folk Festival, August 10th to the 12th. Why? Laid back people. No all encompassing consumerism. Great music from genres that I am not familiar with. There are no night crawlers at The Folk Festival or rigged games of chance. Just decent people, sitting in lawn chairs, tapping their feet to the beat of the drummer on stage. You can talk to the people sitting beside you. You have something in common. The music has brought you together. Last year, I bought a couple of large popcorns and passed them amongst those of us sitting close by. It was a great way to say “Hello there. I’m okay. You’re okay. We’re having a great time.” If you go to The Folk Festival, I suspect you will experience something that has occurred for me, every year for forty years. While I enjoy and appreciate the headliners, there will always be at least one group who I have never heard of, who will knock my proverbial socks off. Talent and passion from a sleeper group.

• Back in the old days: When The Regina Folk Festival was first getting going, back in 1968 through the seventies, you could expect to hear some local talent up on stage, in between the imports. Our regular reader/responder, Roberta Nichol was one of those performers and what a talent she had. She was such a mainstay of The Folk Festival that some referenced her as ‘The Mother of The Folk Guild’ and as time progressed, she was promoted to ‘The Grandma’. You have not experienced folk music until you have listened to Roberta sing about her favorite foods and the enduring love of her grandparents. Of course, they are two separate songs, just thought I should clarify that one.

• Back in the old days, Part #2: Forty years ago, there were joints being passed all over The Folk Festival. Now that my mother has passed away, I can acknowledge that I just might have been one of those doing the passing. You didn’t need to smoke a joint to get high. All you had to do was take a deep breath and there was enough cannabis sativa mixed with the oxygen that you were eating Cheezies until your fingers turned orange. Today, we are much older and hopefully, mature. If someone lights up a doobie, we are a self policing group. We turn on the offender and point out that there are many children present and that he should not set a bad example for the kids. With age comes a degree of self righteousness and a bit of sanctimonious behavior. How the times have changed. Who knew it was going to change in this direction.

• Some didn’t leave the sixties: We were invited to a friend’s birthday party. He is an artist so it was not surprising that there were many artists in attendance. A group of five of them were in a corner, chatting away, smoking dope. They called me over. “Hey Rod! Come on over and get high with us.” I walked over, but not to smoke. I bawled them out. I said “Come on guys. At our age we are supposed to be having a group discussion about our prostates, not smoking dope.” They stared at me. They didn’t know what to say. I guess I shouldn’t have used my ‘dad’s voice’ to bawl them out. I wonder if I will be invited to this year’s party? With any luck, they were so stoned that no one will remember what I said.

• Garden Tip: Now that our tomatoes are starting to ripen on the vine every day, here is a great way to serve them. I slice them fairly thick, dust them with a bit of Montreal Steak Spice, a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Then I chop up some freshly harvested basil, and sprinkle that on. For my grand finale, I take a bit of goat cheese from The Farmers’ Market and place little smears on each tomato slice. I serve that as an appetizer or a side dish with our meal. There are never any leftovers from that plate.

I know how to use chopsticks but no awards
• Flavors of India: This place, east on Victoria Avenue, has won a number of ‘Best of Awards’ from Prairie Dog over the last few years, and deservedly so. The food is decent, served hot from the kitchen and filled with flavor. The naan bread, baked in a clay oven, is very special, served hot and crisp. We were there Tuesday night and enjoyed our supper. The meal with two chai teas and one dessert came to fifty-six bucks, tax and tip included.

• Garden Tip: When working with rocks as with plants, work in groups. I drove by a front yard this week that had utilized some larger rocks in their front yard. It appears as if they had used a tape measure and evenly distributed a dozen of them. The best way to landscape with rocks is to do so in groupings with perhaps one larger one, isolated as a feature. The same should apply with office tropical plants. In many a office, they will have a small budget of two hundred bucks and purchase five good sized trops. Then they will spread out the five trops, evenly across the space. Doing that ensures the plants get lost. What would look much finer, is to place all five plants in one area, creating a focal point. Almost an oasis affect. Gardening with rocks. I am indeed appealing to three per cent of my readership. “Sigh” is the sound he makes, unheard, due to the nature of the written word.

'Autumn Joy' Sedum-a great bloomer in September
• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in sunny Regina

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