Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Garden Report #108

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Morden 'Cardinette' Rose

• Writers write:  ‘Black Friday’, the promotional sales event in the United States is finding its ugly way into Canada. Every year, there are videos of long lines outside of stores, south of the border. Added into this mix are the cell phone videos of fights breaking out as consumers argue over whose purchase it really is. Sickening, disgusting, humanity at its worst. We sat back and mocked the Americans for their behavior, taking a false pride in our sense of Canadian civility. Instead of confining this dismal display of depravity to the cultural waste bin where it belongs, we have imported it to our country. No riots yet, but give us time. Here is my kick. We have only so much money to spend. We want to get a good bang for our buck, I get it, but at what cost? Staff from these stores are required to work bizarre hours, opening at three a.m. in some cases. When do they get to sleep or to have a life that approaches normalcy. Boxing Day sales have already taken away something from our family gatherings. People who work in retail now finish up on Christmas Eve. They are exhausted but put on a big smile to participate in Christmas Day, a celebration. Rather than rest their bodies, some have to be in their stores at five and six a.m. to get ready for the ‘Boxing Day Blowout’ or some such named event. We take away from our families and friends so that we can acquire a bigger television? Why? Will a bigger screen TV make me happier than the joy I have from hearing from my readers, visiting with my neighbors and looking at how my kids are now all grown up? At some point, we have to say “enough is enough. We need no more.”

• Readers write:

• Joanne Crofford loved the photo of my six year old friend and her birthday gifts. She writes “If I had known it would produce such spectacular results, I would have come over to your house, a couple of weeks ago to check on the whereabouts of my birthday gift.”

• Georgia Hearn agrees with my stance on Christmas gift giving. “Rod: I loved this issue. Christmas is a time to reflect on our gifts of family and friends and not the biggest gift. Thanks.”

• Rob Van Zanten from the Vancouver area also enjoys family at Christmas. “Loved this week’s Report. I was reading your Christmas segment and have to tell you that it mirrors my ideals to a tee. Nothing better for me than having family together on Christmas morning (with turkey to follow in the evening of course). From our family to yours we wish you all a very Merry Christmas.”

• Marsha Kennedy weighs in on Christmas with a poignant response. “I am beginning to find that your Sunday Garden Reports are very important to begin my week. Your humor, rich and down to earth sharing, and good advice for our plants is quite therapeutic. I very much feel the same way as you do about Christmas. I am one of those who take the time to spell out Christmas rather than using the short hand Xmas. I am not religious in any traditional way but feel that the origins and spirit of Christmas should never be de-captitated. The abolition of the use of the word Christmas in our institutions is saddening as it empties meaning and history from the holiday, leaving us with shopping, over indulging in food and drink, as its only meaning and purpose. This easy path in an attempted move toward 'political correctness' is degrading to me. What would be meaningful is if all religions could come together to celebrate this season and that our children be educated and made aware of the many celebrations that occur around this time of year.”

A closeup shot of a double cherry bloom
 • Roberta Nichol also has her own take on Christmas. “I love your take on Christmas. Connecting with people, small pleasures..... that's where it's at with me, too. It's so easy to get swallowed up in the insanity of it all. I see children, some as young as nine, already getting that attitude. I shudder when I think of the incredibly expensive gifts some of them get. What do they have to look forward to, as they get older?”

• Marg Hryniuk reminds us of the importance of removing the sleeves on poinsettias when they arrive. “Thought of you last night when I saw some glorious ‘points’ that were still wearing, almost enveloped by tall plastic collars. I think it was you who told me during an interview that those tall collars should come off immediately.”

Poinsettia Fund Raiser for The Marian Center

I am organizing a poinsettia fund raiser for The Marian Center, again, this year. We will raise at least a thousand dollars to support their soup kitchen that feeds hungry men in downtown Regina. The poinsettias will be available for pick up at my house on Saturday, December 8th between noon and four p.m. They will be premium poinsettias, in a decorative cover with a touch of silver fairy dust. They are available in three colors. Red, pink, white and if ordered by the case, mixed. They are only available by pre order and payable by cash. Sorry, no credit cards, debit or checks. Also note, there are no greens or wreaths for sale this year. The poinsettia prices are as follows (the same as last year):

Six inch premium $20 each or $14 each in a case of seven (red, white or pink)

Seven inch premium $30 each or $25 each in a case of five (these have two cuttings per pot and are available in red, white or red and white)

I am bringing in the top 10% of this crop
Eight inch premium $40 each (these have three cuttings, are very large as in best displayed on the floor. They are perfect for a store or a large home. Available colors are red, white and tricolor

• No win: My sister worked at the university for many years. Some say that she ran the place without the big salary and fancy office. She was in charge of organizing the Christmas party one year. Does this write itself or not? She started receiving calls and emails regarding live bands versus a DJ, food choices, decoration decisions and so on. When you are a volunteer, there is never a shortage of people willing and able to tell you how to do your job. The ultimate email came from the self anointed professor in charge of political correctness. It sounds as if it should have been a faculty onto its own. She wrote that the name needed to be changed from ‘Christmas Party’ to ‘Seasonal Holiday Party’. In spite of her assertions, she still took the 25th off as a holiday.

• No win #2: At every Fringe Festival, there are very few paid employees. Most people that you see taking tickets, handing out programs and ushering audiences in and out, are volunteers. At every festival we have attended, there has been an occasional outburst directed at these volunteers. People demanding that the published rules of the festival be reinterpreted to suit their needs. Looming large on the complaint list are people wanting to enter a theater after the show has begun, which in Fringe culture is an absolute no-no. Also on the list is watching adults throw temper tantrums because the show they wanted to see is sold out. They yell at the volunteers, thinking in some other world logic that if they are loud enough, the volunteer will find two more tickets, just for them.

• Two distinct versions: There are two parts to every conversation, what is said and what is heard. Several years ago, I told a fellow “you are wasting your life”. His side, that he repeated to many people, was that I had told him “you would be better off dead.”

• Garden Tip: The following comes from Les Vanderveen who has grown millions of poinsettias in his life time. This is why you should take the sleeve off plants. “When poinsettias are sleeved there is a buildup of ethylene in the sleeve. So it is best to remove the sleeve as soon as possible. If the sleeve stays on for extended periods, the plants upon immediate removal of the sleeve can appear droopy as if dry, but they are not. Usually the droopiness disappears in a day or two. The older varieties, years ago, really suffered from this droopiness call epinasty. This epinasty can also be worse if the plants are in an enclosed box for days being shipped long distances. With the newer varieties this does not happen as often, but there are varieties that package and ship better than others. Ultimately does this kill the plant? No, but it is definitely best to unsleeve as soon as possible when receiving it.”

Another shot of the Morden 'Cardinette' rose
• La Bodega: Reader CJ Katz has told us that the best fish and chips are at La Bodega. Bobby Sue, are resident President of The Good Eaters Club tried it out. Here is her report. “Hello, President of the Good Eaters' Club here. I am here to report that a friend and I went to La Bodega today for lunch, to sample the'  fish and chips CJ Katz raves about. Here is the final answer: Oh Lord, save me ..... truly the best in town and possibly surrounding areas! I wanted to fall off my chair, get silly, and let my eyes roll back in my head. Rod, I'm telling you, they're good! The batter is so delicately thin and really tasty and the cod is delightful. The chips are excellent as well. This was my splurge for the rest of my life. I likely could have fed a family of three with it.”

• Just park it: I was driving down Albert Street after our snow storm on Thursday. There was a young man driving a hot car. Lots of horsepower under the hood and fancy looking wheels. He was busy spinning his wheels back and forth with the result that he was digging himself deeper into the snow pack. Traffic was backed up. At what point does he realize his ‘go fast car’ is not designed to be driven on the snow?

• Garden Tip: Again, if you have a live Christmas tree, you must provide a fresh cut before installing it into the stand. Better yet, fresh cut the base with a two inch cut and let the tree stand in a bucket of water overnight to allow it to absorb a good amount of water. Trees that are in stands where the reservoir of water is allowed to fall below the base of the tree will seal over with sap. Once that has occurred, they will no longer drink and the drying out process begins.

• Two taps and a question: When we had our Retriever, McIvor, living with us, two taps on the side of my thigh meant motion. If we were upstairs, it meant we were going down. If we were at home, two taps meant we were heading outside and vice versa. That was our signal. One night, I turned off the television and was heading upstairs to bed. I gave my two taps to signal the dog that it was bedtime. Maureen was having tea and reading at the time. She said “those taps better not be for me.”

• Odd you say: I invited any and all of our readers to join us at The Liver Lovers Supper at Greko’s this past Monday. To my great surprise and dismay, none of you begged to be included in the outing. Yet, close to forty of our club members arrived in time to join a wonderful feast. They do a decent job of cooking liver there.

A photo of a cherry blosson, probably a 'Nanking'
 • The gift of life: The head of The Saskatchewan Transplant Clinic was in town this week. He told me that they have not had a donation for two months now. This is always a delicate subject to raise but the proverbial head in the sand attitude does not make it disappear. If you are comfortable with the idea of donating organs or tissue after you pass away, then you need to do two things: a) sign your donor card and b) tell your family of your wishes. If you are not willing to donate, I understand. It is a difficult subject to think about for many. On the other side, there are over a hundred people waiting for the gift of life in Saskatchewan and more than three thousand in Canada.

• Garden Tip: Never curse the snow, though my back is a little sore from shoveling. Okay, you can curse it quietly, but for no more than fifteen seconds. This lovely amount of snow is a God send for gardeners and farmers. There was actually a shortage of rain from September onwards this year, leaving some fields and gardens wanting for moisture. This snow will not only alleviate that dryness in the soil but it will protect garden plants and fall seeded crops such as winter wheat.

Our house at sunset
• Everything you wanted to know: This week’s ‘Q Magazine’ which accompanies The Leader Post on Thursdays, had a lovely bio on our reader and frequent writer, Jean Freeman. If you don’t know Jean and all the wonderful things she has done in her life, then take a gander at the magazine article. She is fine lady.

Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in a snow covered Regina!

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