Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Garden Report #103

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Valley River, Manitoba photo by Ingrid Thiessen
• Writers write: Has anyone else looked at the new ward boundaries for the upcoming, civic election? Some genius or perhaps that should be a plural word, decided that wards should be more or less equal in population. Ward Three, which is essentially Cathedral and The General Hospital area, was a little shy on people, so they threw in twelve or so blocks of Lakeview. When you look at the map, and you understand the neighborhoods, we really belong in Ward Two, which is Lakeview and Albert Park.

     Here’s the kick. Our twelve blocks of Lakeview are supposed to go out and vote for one of the candidates in Ward Three. How much attention are we going to get for our issues, when the person elected is in essence, a Cathedral/General Hospital rep. And if we turn to the Ward Two rep, he or she can say “you’re not part of my ward” and we’re not.

     Hopefully we can get some common sense and the ward boundaries will be established by neighborhoods, not just by numbers. South of the creek is a very natural border for Ward Two. Sadly, we are not the silliest of boundaries. If you want to see real stupidity, take a look at the bizarre borders they have established for Ward Six. They really chopped up neighborhoods to create that one. Also Ward One, which is essentially Whitmore Park/Hillsdale, has a tiny bit of Broadway and Douglas Park tucked inside of its boundaries, just to make things interesting. Oh, and here is The City’s explanation for this fiasco. “The Regina Municipal Wards Commission has determined the boundaries of the ten City Wards used during municipal elections to ensure the city’s population is distributed evenly between each ward.”

• Readers write:

     • Marcus Fernando weighs in on the word, ‘thingy’. “In Edition 101 you mentioned a certain Harold Pinter play, and a certain degree of nakedness, and a certain comment from a certain female director about a certain part of the male anatomy. "Thingy", I believe was the term so carelessly bandied about.

Marcus with his boys Sebastian and Pascal
      Of course, you know that I was most intimately involved with said production, being the male actor involved, and therefore possessor of said "thingy". As you also know, I am still in contact with the female director, and showed her where she was quoted in The Garden Report. Of course, she denied everything, but when confronted with the irrefutable argument that "Rod has the memory of an elephant, and never gets it wrong" she confessed. She then tried to blind me with theatrical jargon to get herself off the hook, claiming that her comments were purely from a professional point of view.” 

Pickled watermelon in vinegar with dill-never tried it
     • It is always nice to hear from Ingrid Thiessen. “ Several times this fall, I have found myself reading your Garden Report on the road, while heading to family functions. We have so much to be thankful for including family celebrations, beautiful landscapes and Garden Reports that connect us with our community. One of the events was my parent’s 60th wedding celebration where my sister decorated with my mum’s pickled watermelon. The other photo is on route to the farm, north of Dauphin, Manitoba. Rod’s note: I asked Ingrid about the pickled watermelon and she tells me that it is with vinegar and dill weed.

     • Jean Mackay is concerned about our food supply, as are many readers. She writes “The story of our food /meat supply is well told in a book I am reading now, and would be of interest to The Garden Report readers. It is The Omnivores’ Dilemma by Michael Pollen. It is American information but does anyone know how true the facts are here in Canada? Perhaps we can learn about good sources for meat close to Regina for small families. Marsha Kennedy, can you help us?”

     • Joanne Terry has not been heard from for some time. She has this to say. “I thoroughly enjoyed today’s read, and I definitely will be trying your recipe for souvlaki burgers. I have been shopping for my meat for about the last year at the Butcher Boy on 13th and kudos’s to them for their service and quality of meat. My son noticed the change immediately, and he eats anything that doesn’t move. You can compare the difference in quality and I now wonder, how anyone can put that rubbish in their mouths from the big box stores? Please support your local butchers, you might pay a bit more but you are paying for quality and getting it.”

     • Leanne Carlson is giving away free compliments this week. She writes “I look forward to my Garden Report every Sunday as you make me smile, laugh and sometimes just go aawwwwwww.”

• I thought I was quicker: It was a hot summer’s day in 1957. I was six years old and bored. My dad was shaving at the kitchen sink. None of my friends were around to play, so I decided I should play with my father. Standing by the back, screen door, I announced “my old man, he’s too old to catch me.” My dad looked over in my direction and he kept shaving. My second foray included “my old man, he’s too old and he’s too fat to catch me.” Again, my father glanced at me, wondering who was this child’s real father. I managed to utter my third attempt “my old man, he’s too old…” That was as far as I got. My dad set down his razor and took off after me. Out the back door I flew, down our Dewdney Avenue and Rae Street alley, with my not ‘too old or too fat’ father in close pursuit. My short little legs were churning up the gravel but he was gaining on me. About sixty yards into my flight from justice, my dad grabbed me by the collar, bringing my forward motion to a complete halt, and he proceeded to give me a whisker rub with the part of his face yet to be shaven.

• Finnegan update: In the spring, I wrote about the lost kitten that wandered into our life. He lived with us for a week. We advertised in several places but no one came forward to claim him. He was an absolute delight. Loving, inquisitive and cuddly. We couldn’t keep him because Mr. Murphy would not tolerate another cat in the house. We did manage to find him a ‘forever home’ and all is well. He is growing into a handsome, young cat and he is still as affectionate as all get out. He is providing much joy to his new ‘daddy’. I love a story with a happy ending.

• The Wok Box: This is a chain store that operates across Canada. I checked out the one on south Albert Street on Sunday and here is what I can tell you. For ten bucks, give or take, you choose between noodles or rice. Then you choose one of their meats or tofu. They add in a few veggies, a sauce and cook it up in front of you. The good news is it is fresh, not pre cooked. The not so good news is that it is rather long on the starch part and short on the veggies and the protein portion. I ordered ‘The Singapore Cashew’ with chicken. It was filling, not long on flavor and I would like know what the salt content was of that meal. All I know was that I drank two tall glasses of water when I arrived home, and that is unusual for me. ( I later discovered that it contained 2247 mg. of sodium. A healthy diet contains no more than 1500 mg. of sodium , daily). The Wok Box is someone’s misguided interpretation of Thai, Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and Korean cuisine operating as a fast food joint. Healthy? Probably not. Tasty? Nope. Filling? Yeah, lots of noodles. Worth going back? No. You can do much better elsewhere.

• Garden Tip: Never, ever, let your trees, shrubs or perennials go into winter dry. Always ensure that everything is well watered, either by Mother Nature or by you.

• Time runs out: There was this young woman I knew, several years ago. In her teens and twenties, she was a real doll. When she went to the bar, the boys were lined up six deep to buy her a drink. Flash forward twenty-five years and I am at a dance at Holy Rosary on 13th. She is now in her late forties and the years have not been kind to her. She is ahead of me in line at the bar. She has one drink ticket. She asks the bar tender if she can have a double and he informs her that she will need two tickets for a double. She flirts with him saying “but for me?” Rest assured, in her past, that worked. The bar tender, a younger man in his twenties, is not impressed with her attempts to charm him. She is embarrassed that that her beguile no longer works. I wanted to tell her “you cannot stay a princess forever”, but I didn’t. I let her scramble to salvage her pride.

     I know something about preparing for the day when we are no longer a princess. As many readers remember, in my youth, I was noted for my rugged good looks. I knew that time would eventually catch up with me, so I developed a sense of humor to compensate. Today, you still see a touch of that handsome young man, but more importantly, you laugh at my jokes. Sadly, in spite of how incredibly funny I am, the bar tender still insisted on a ticket for a drink. Damn! I too, am no longer a princess. Please note: For the humor impaired, this is where a writer lacking the integrity that I possess and bowing down to cheap tricks, would insert a ‘LOL’.

• Community: Neighbor and reader Christ Pasterfield and I held an impromptu block meeting in the middle of Regina Avenue on Tuesday morning. Chris said “where else but this neighborhood, do we hold meetings in the middle of the street?” We solved exactly zero problems but we agreed to meet again. I don’t think anyone took down the minutes of the meeting and neither of us got run over by oncoming traffic.

     Readers have asked, “how do you create a strong community?” The answer is quite simple. All that is required is for one person to start the ball rolling and the rest will follow suit. We are in and out of each other’s homes, we have neighborhood parties, barbecues and most importantly, we do what we can for each other. When one of our elderly neighbors could no longer look after his snowy sidewalks, neighbors stepped into deal with that issue. Seldom do homes come up for sale in our area as people tend to live here for many, many years. When one of the neighbors needed to sell her home as she had a new job in Calgary, she said it best: “The street will sell itself.” We actually have people waiting to purchase a home in our area because of that sense of community, which is not a cliché, if you live here.

• Garden Tip: How important is it to remove the leaves from your lawn in the fall? Very. Leaves left over the winter decay to a certain extent and they also smother the lawn. Lawns need air along with sun, food and water to thrive. Also, leaves promote snow mould on lawns and that is not a good thing. Of course, you can use your leaves as a mulch in your perennial and shrub beds and composting leaves are wonderful for the garden.

• No looking a gift horse in the mouth: From time to time, readers drop off gifts as a thank you for The Garden Report. While not expected, they are definitely appreciated, especially anything to eat. Does that give readers a hint or I am I being too subtle? Recently, readers have been quite kind to me. Jean Mackay was in Edinburgh for the grand daddy of all The Fringe Festivals this summer. She brought me back a t-shirt, as she knows my love of The Fringe. Sandy Thiessen has been on a grand adventure this year, working on a fruit farm in the Okanagan Valley. She sent me, via her sister Becky, the finest of fresh squeezed apple juice and a jar of mixed berry jam. Without any hyperbole, I could actually taste the freshness of the fruit in both. Wow! I have never tasted anything better. Denise Cook dropped off a delicious banana loaf and John C. comes over almost every week to restock my dialysis chemicals. The boxes are stored in the basement and are quite heavy. John brings them up to my bedroom so they are accessible as I set up. A big thank you to all.

'Winnipeg Park's' Morden Rose
• Garden Tip: To protect tender plants, it is always a good idea to provide a layer of peat moss as a mulch around them. This will act as an insulation buffer, reducing the extremes of hot and cold. It is a good idea to mulch new perennials as well, until they are well rooted.

 • It can’t be done: When I started building Lakeview Gardens, there was no shortage of people who told me that I was on the wrong track. With my glass greenhouses and paved pathways and railway station store, one fellow told me that no one would shop at my place because I was “too fancy, too New York.” I heard with great regularity, that I didn’t know what I was doing and each time, I just said “is that right” and carried on. I reached a conclusion. There are critics and then there builders. Builders build and critics tell builders why they can’t build. What is really delicious about this scenario is: Each of us get to choose which one we want to be in life.

Brad has been covering his new greenhouse this week

• Garden Tip: In spite of seeing large displays of fall fertilizer in the chain stores such as Rona, Home Depot and Wal Mart, good gardeners know that this is fool’s gold. Lawns should not be fertilized after August 15th in our area. Why do they sell this stuff? Here’s a better question. How many people do they have who know anything about gardening, working at the chain stores? For example, at Home Depot, they were selling apple trees this spring that were not hardy here at all. Again, ask why? If you want good information, shop at the independent garden centers and greenhouses.

Poinsettia season starts in a few weeks time
 • Friday night gala: I wrote a few weeks ago about the gala being staged by The Kidney Foundation. It was their first time with this project and I suspect it will happen again, next year. The highlight of the night was the fashion show of Halloween costumes prepared by local fashion designers. Wow! Were they ever good. The fund raiser came about as the costumes were auctioned off, as well as some incredible masks, created by local artists. I bid on and acquired the petite, lion’s costume from The Wizard of Oz Collection. That costume will be heading up to Edmonton, for my soon to arrive granddaughter. She can wear it out for her first Halloween when she is two or three. Accompanying me to the gala were seven of our Garden Report readers including Jack and Linda Lyster, Bob and Lorelle Anderson, Freddy Hammond and Brad and Sandy Crassweller. Reading The Garden Report has its benefits, just like American Express.

• Thanks for reading….Rod McDonald in a little bit of the sun, Regina.

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