Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Garden Report #97

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

The fall canopy along Regina Avenue
• Writers write: I read in the paper, I hear in conversation, anyone who has experienced some difficulties, that they wish to turn their lives around and to “become a role model.” Okay. Fair enough. All of us, any of us, when facing difficulty, want to turn things around, me included. The ‘role model’ quote is what gets me. Those two words are overused and misused, repeatedly. Let me spell it out, in clear, concise language what a role model is for those who don’t quite understand the job. I write from the male perspective, without apology.

     A role model is not a hero or anything spectacular. Chances are that he will never get to save someone from a burning building or score a touchdown to win the game in overtime. He goes to work every day, and doesn’t complain when he comes home. He attends his kids soccer games and their dance recitals, even when he is tired. He shovels his walk in the winter and he mows his lawn in the summer. He doesn’t shop lift and he tells his kids why they should not. He tells his kids when he doesn’t know the answer, but he also tries to find out what it is they are inquiring about. He treats his wife with respect. He doesn’t ask for others to fix his problems. He works for everything he has and he appreciates what he has earned. He is grateful for life itself. He tells his kids that life is not always fair, but you have to learn to deal with the cards that are dealt to you. He doesn’t let his past interfere with his present or his future. That is a role model. Boring but consistent. His claim to fame is that he is there every morning and every night, for his kids. That’s a role model.

• Readers write:

     • We have not heard from author and neighbor, Gail Bowen for some time. She writes “Happy Labor Day weekend! It occurred to me I've never thanked you and your readers for the garden photos they send in. Quite a few of the photos have ended up as Wallpaper on my BlackBerry. At the moment, the Langen' glorious dahlia has pride of place.”

     • Trevor Langen appreciated that I played matchmaker, pairing him up with an experienced dahlia grower. He writes “Morning Rod, loved your Report. Thanks for showing our dahlia. Stu and I chatted last Sunday. Thanks so much for putting us together. I wrote copious notes on how to plant, nurture and store the dahlia but more importantly, I got his phone number.”

     • From The Ninth Street Bed and Breakfast, an absolutely wonderful establishment in Saskatoon, Lola writes “Hi Rod: Even though I don't often write, you should know that I enjoy your Sunday Garden Report and I thank you for sharing your stories and knowledge. Your story about Obed Ramirez was so sad! Will he and his family have to leave Canada? Can we help in any way?”

     • Georgia Hearn is also concerned over Obed’s impending deportation. “Another great issue. So sorry to hear about Obed. He is such a nice man...immigration is frustrating. I work with a girl from Germany who is facing a similar situation. Thanks again for the gardening advice.”

     • May Blois was upset with the pending deportation of Obed and his family. She writes “I have never written before but the piece you wrote on Obed Ramirez just makes me very upset. Someone like this upstanding person comes to our country and wants to work so he and his family can live a decent life and Immigration gets all snotty. Why can't they help him fix their papers instead of being imbeciles?”

Tina Hoffman with her new born, Sebastian
     • Marcus Fernando writes from Birmingham, England. “It may not make great theatre, but I'm afraid I'm just going to have to agree with you again. Your story about Obed being sent back to Mexico is a familiar one, and not just in Canada. All over the world we have got so tied up and hidebound by inflexible rules, which should actually be guidelines. The trouble is, the bureaucrats are just looking for a box-ticking exercise to keep their lives simple. It's good that you're bringing the plight of Obed to a wider audience. If only ordinary people like us could shake the monolith.”

Sandra's garden
     • Sandra Rayson passes out more compliments than most of us. She writes “Congratulations on getting The Garden Report out ahead of schedule, despite having Patrick & Lisa home. The shots you picked for The Garden Report were lovely.”

     • Roberta Nichol is responding to the dismantling of our film industry. “I feel the same way about the CBC music programs being taken away from Saskatchewan. I can't stress enough how much those programs helped the likes of local entertainers get off the ground, so to speak. Bonnie Austring and Shawn were always there at the Folk Festivals, with their CBC truck, recording all of us including Bob Evans, Connie Kaldor, Don Freed, and me. I honestly don't know what our provincial and federal governments are trying to do. I really don't. It makes me sick.”

Jana's first red peppers
     • Local artist Jana Kartarna likes to garden and she is pretty excited about something new in her veggie patch. “Hi Rod, this is the first time I've had bell peppers turn red on the plant and I just thought I would share. I bought these wonderful peppers as bedding plants from the Plant Ranch this spring. Also, if I send this picture to you, then I will have a record if my hard drive crashes!”

• Good gardeners share #813: I have four good sized Boston Ferns, a couple of large peace lilies and some smaller dieffenbachia to give away. I used them in my summer, flower pots and I don’t want to overwinter them. They are yours for the asking and you do not have to return them. I do ask that you bring over an appropriate size pot so they can be repotted. You are welcome to use my Pro Mix potting soil. You can pick them up somewhere around the first frost, whenever that might be. Let me know who is interested and I will form a list of people to contact when it is the right time.

• Garden Tip: A few people have been confused over the timing of what needs to be done right now. You can prune your elm trees. You should be banding your trees against the fall cankerworms. You should not be fertilizing anything except your annuals and baskets. You should be getting ready to plant your tulips, anytime after the 15th is okay. Hope this clarifies things.

• Points of view: I am often surprised how two people you love can describe the same person from opposite viewpoints. My father described my grandfather as being hardnosed, tough, and strict. My dad’s sister described the same man as being soft, a real pushover and easy to get along with. My father was the eldest son and no doubt, subjected to a young, strict father. My aunt was the youngest and the only girl, and no doubt she had her dad wrapped around her baby finger. With maturity, I have realized that they were describing the same man but many years apart. All of us change, and thank God we do.

• Good eats: I stopped into visit my kid sister. She lives at one of the beaches adjoining Long Lake. She loves to cook with fresh veggies, just like her handsome, older brother. She fed me. Two types of corn, boiled beets, spinach and strawberry salad, fresh pickled carrots, pickled green beans and a garden relish. She said it best: “It is the best time of year with the harvest coming to the table”. I hope you are enjoying the freshness of God’s bounty this week.

• God’s bounty: I stopped by Jim and Lynn Tomkins’ garden. Jim, at one time was a math professor and then the President of The University. Today, he is a gardener. It doesn’t pay near as well but he doesn’t have students demanding a better mark. I helped myself to one of their many fine carrots. It measured two inches across which while no means a record, was impressive. Jim should astound us with his math skills and tell us how many cubic inches or centimeters were inside this root. I’ll give him a hint. Pi = 3.14.

• Transplant clinic back in Saskatoon: You might have heard on the news, or read in the paper, that the transplant clinic in Saskatoon is back up and running. They now have two transplant surgeons on staff, able to perform the surgeries. Several of you have contacted me, thinking that this improves my chances. Here is what has been happening. The last three years, with the closure of the clinic, the province has been airlifting both the patients and the kidneys to Edmonton, for transplantation. The clinic here has assured me that every available kidney was utilized in those years, albeit in Edmonton. This problem still remains: There is a shortage of donor kidneys, both from living sources and from cadaveric donors. Living donors can donate one, changing the recipients life. Cadaveric donors donate both their kidneys, increasing the gift of life to two people. How does a recipient feel about their transplant? I know quite a few, and one of my friends who received her new kidney in March said to me: “Night and day, Rod, night and day.”

• Garden Tip: Do you still water into the fall? Yes, unless it is raining enough to provide an inch or two each week. Do not let your baskets and containers dry out. Once or twice a week, depending on the weather should be enough. With your lawn, once a week should be fine but do give it a good soaking. There are people who will tell you to let your lawn go into the winter dry. They are wrong. Ensure your lawn goes into the winter wet.

• September, my favorite month: The air is crisp. It smells just right. The sun is strong but it does not burn. My sweaters come out of their drawer. I look in the mirror and say “This one looks nice and it still fits.” The tomatoes, the beets, the carrots, the apples are all in abundance in the gardens. There is no snow to shovel. The weeds have slowed down to a snail’s pace and are easy to control. The school bus has returned from its summer siesta, picking up the kids in the neighborhood for another day of learning. The sun does not wake me at four a.m. It is now respectful and lets me sleep until a half past six. The night air that permeates my bedroom is so cool and comfortable, often filled with a hint of smoke from the neighborhood fireplaces. September is my favorite month of all.

'Power Surge' Mums-hardy for our area
• Garden Tip: There are lots of fall mums on the market right now. Gorgeous colors. They are mostly annuals but go ahead and give your garden a tickle of color and plant a few of them. We purchased ten of the fall mums in smaller pots, four inches, and we planted them into our flower boxes. Sure gives the old house a sprucing up with the yellows, golden browns and purples.

• Too funny: Reader Chris Dodd shared this bon mot. “When I was younger, some people who were trying to decide whether I was important or not would ask me what my father did. I would either tell them he was a mime or a one-man band. Discussion over.”

• In a pear tree: There is a pear tree, absolutely laden with fruit, growing over at the old fire hall/new EMT building at Hill Avenue and Kings Road. I have had readers mention this tree to me as it is very much on public display. Here is an interesting back story. In 1987, the fire hall was having an open house. You could bring your kids and they got to sit in a real, red fire engine. I took Max who was ten and Patrick, who was seven at the time. We also took along a pear tree. I asked the captain if we could plant it as gift to the firefighters and as a remembrance of our visit. He said “sure” and the boys and I did the deed, planting the tree. We gave it a bucket of water and left. Twenty-five years later, that tree is gorgeous, and proudly bearing hundreds of pounds of pears. And if you go to pick some of those pears, stop to remember two young boys looking at a pear tree as their dad tells them “one day, this tree will be bigger than you.”

• Garden Tip: For those homeowners and gardeners who are planning on purchasing a new lawn mower, snow blower or rototiller soon, consider this: Take it from someone with thirty-five years in the trade, any power equipment with a Honda motor is worthwhile. Over the years, I have worked with many pieces of equipment and Honda motors were always the most reliable. They start when they are hot and they start when they are cold and that’s what you want your motor to do. When I get together with the guys from the landscaping trade, all of us agree that Honda powered equipment is the only route to go. Gee, for a plug like this, you would think they should send me over something, like a fruit basket.

• Too funny #2: A friend was applying to join The Ukrainian Coop over on Winnipeg Street, at 11th Avenue. You have to be of Ukrainian descent to be a member. The woman taking Ken’s application asked “can you prove that you are Ukrainian?” Ken had a great answer. “Why would I lie about being Ukrainian?”

• A good story worth repeating: I was at a wedding in 2006. A fellow comes up to me, he has had a few drinks. He tells me that he has seen my posters around town and he knows I am an actor. He then tells me that to be an actor, “all you have to do is get up on stage and let it all hang out.” I responded: “Really? You don’t have to take classes, study other actors, work with a coach or a director? Just get up there and ‘let it all hang out’.”

     I asked our fellow what he did for a living and he told me that he was an architect. I couldn’t resist. “You know, I have some paper, a pencil and a ruler at home, I think I will become an architect, too.” He insisted that much more was required. “Training, experience, guidance, and study. Not everyone can be an architect, you know.” That’s good to know that there are a few professions left where you can’t just ‘let it all hang out’ to get the job done.

The fall  colors of a Linden Tree
• And in conclusion: My friend, Gary Robbins, the photographer, posted this at a show of his work: “Just because you own a camera does not mean you are a photographic artist any more than owning a typewriter makes you a Hemingway writer.”

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald from sun laden September, Regina, Saskatchewan!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rod - great post as always! Do you know if the fruit from the pear tree is all picked and used? I volunteer with Fruit for Thought - we gather unused fruit from trees throughout the city and share the harvest amongst tree owners, volunteers and charities in the city. If there are any extra pears, we'd love to come harvest the tree for donations!