Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Garden Report #146
Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

A bowl of pansies planted for Mothers' Day
Writers write: Sometimes I describe a situation, explaining what I have witnessed.  When I do that, I often use the phrase “I have no dog in this fight” to explain that I don’t have a side to the argument.  Not this time.  I do have a dog in this fight.  I had one forty years ago and I still do today.  In the 1960s, myself, as did many others throughout the world, protested the war in Vietnam.  We said that Kennedy, Johnson and Westmoreland were lying.  We said that they knew they could not win the war in Vietnam, yet they were throwing thousands of young men into a south-east jungle, to die.  Final death toll was over 58,000.  Most were young men around nineteen or twenty, the same age as I was at the time.  Add into the death toll, the wounded, the injured, and the families of those young men and you can now understand why this time frame was the birthplace of the divisions within America and Canada.  This period saw the rise of the generation gap.  It was a time when men who had served their country, bravely and with honour in World War Two, could not fathom that their government, those they had elected, would lie to them and to everyone else.  This was a time of The Great Divide. Families and neighbours would not speak to each other, it was that contentious.
A mandevilla hanging basket by the back door
     Canada saw an influx of one hundred thousand of the draft dodgers and deserters.  All were young men.  One who settled in Regina, told me that his father who had served with distinction in WWII, could not go down to the VFW Hall (the American Legion) because his son was in Canada. The war severed old ties within communities and families.
     There were marches in every city of North America, including Regina. I was there.  I have a dog in this fight.  The RCMP would send out  members in plain clothes to infiltrate the marches and other policemen were assigned to take photographs of the marchers.  They were actively attempting to scare the protesters, nothing less.  It did not work. The marches grew in size.  Newspaper articles, dismissing the protestors, were published.  Stories were promoted, showing the construction workers of New York City attacking the protesters.  The hard hats as they were known, were shouting “my country, right or wrong.”  Their country was wrong, there is no doubt about it.  
    Now, with the reflection of forty and fifty years, we know more to this story.  CNN has been running a documentary for two weeks titled ‘The Sixties’.  I watched it.  Kennedy knew he could not win in Vietnam, but he didn’t know how to get out. He said so, on tape.  So he kept it going.  Johnson also knew that it was not a possibility to win this ungodly war.  He also said so, on tape. He too, did not know how to get out of Vietnam.  So he kept it going. Westmoreland ran the war as a conventional war and he requested and was granted, again and again, more young men for cannon fodder.  He thought that if only he was given more men and more bombs, he could win this war.  He could not.  We were shocked when Johnson reinstated the draft because Westmoreland wanted to increase his contingent from 75,000 to 125,00 young men.  The shock did not end there.  He kept adding men until in the late sixties, there were close to five hundred thousand men, in country and two million stateside to service the chaos of Vietnam.  They lied, each one of those three men.  Then Nixon came along, also a liar. They were captured on tape, lying to the public.  All four knew and shared their knowledge with others, that the war was not winnable.  Not one of these men had the courage to do the right thing.  I had a dog in this fight and I still do. 
     The capture of the voices of Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Westmoreland, lying on tape, only proves that what they said forty and fifty years ago was wrong.  We were right. Yet, there is no glory in being right.  The dead are still dead.  There were 5,000 Canadian boys, enamoured by John Wayne movies, who served with the Americans.  Some of them are dead.  A young man from my neighborhood volunteered.  He came back shot to pieces and for what?
     Today, in any major store, you can purchase garden pots made in Vietnam or eat a bowl of  soup in a Vietnamese restaurant.  Is that why it was invaded?  Is that why a generation was traumatized?  Is that why Vietnam continues to be a contentious issue that divides a generation?  There are those who still hang onto the idea that our leaders would never lie to us or that perhaps they did, but they have learned their lesson and will  never repeat those lies.  I wish that were true. 
Trollius are just about finished blooming
   Readers write: This note came from Rob Van Zanten out of Vancouver.  In the attachment, you can see the program he references. “ Hey Rod: Just doing some house cleaning here in my office and came across this ad on the back of the 1991 Regina Folk Festival program.  You haven't changed a bit...take care.”

·           Reader Jean McNeil from Ottawa is challenging my haggis story.  Jean writes “Just reading your June 8th Garden Report this morning. Always a shock to see one's name in some publication.  Belated Happy Birthday, Maureen. With Rod's description of your meal, we could celebrate the 'heat' (we were at Siam) right along with you. Haggis just for tourists? Are you serious Rod? I haven't had the opportunity to try it so can't really pass judgement, though I'm dying to try it.  Could you enlarge on why you hold your opinion?”
·           Sherry Tutt lives in my neighbourhood and she has a strong opinion about people who text while driving.  She writes: “Just weighing in on the cell phone debacle. Look out for the intersection of Regina Avenue and Albert Street at the south end of the Albert Street Bridge. Last winter, both my daughter and I were almost killed by drivers going blithely onto the bridge through a red light. On each occasion we were in the passenger seat of a cab and we were saved only by  the alertness of the driver who saw the texter and did not proceed.”
·           Bob Roy sent along a nice compliment.  I am never opposed to nice compliments.  “Joan and I are delighted to find your blog back in our e-mail box, even if on an irregular basis, as your hopefully improving health allows. Recovery from such operations is not always of the speedy type ... hence we wish you slow and steady gains.”
·              Doug Gummeson is from Moose Jaw and he has an alternative view point regarding cell phone users.  This is quite funny and I only reprinted the first part.  If a reader wants the entire description, I will forward it to you.  “The saddest thing to see, I think is when a  couple, usually older but not always, sits down in a restaurant and the husband either brings or buys a paper and she sits there and looks at it opened, in front of her, as this kind of guy will not sit beside her, always across.  It is usually too far away to read and the angle is wrong anyway.  She fidgets, asks him a question.  Rarely two.  He ceremonially semi crumples the paper and lowers it just enough to see her, gazes over it, gives a one or two word answer and uncrumples the paper back to the local news.  She fidgets , looks around the room and perhaps catches a waiter or two to ask a question she already knew the answer to. Finally, she succumbs and gingerly picks up one of the remaining sections and begins to look through it. They sit there, both with their paper towers separating them into personal self gratification.”
·         Gail Bowen is very kind as she writes “Thank you for the rants,  the restaurant reviews, the gardening advice and the beautiful photos of flowers, Rod.  To paraphrase that old chestnut from Hello Dolly. "It's good to have you back where you belong."
·           Neil Slater took in the pavilion of my people at Mosaic (written somewhat tongue in cheek by a guy who grew up on Dewdney Avenue).  Neil shares “I was also at the Scottish pavilion, for the Society for Creative Anachronism. I tried the Shepherd's pie, too, but I thought it a bit bland. It was good; it just didn't come with much spice built into it. The scone I had was very good, though, as was the fly cemetery. I've only been to Siam for the lunch buffet. Give an excuse, any excuse to go back and I'll be there instantly.  We're looking forward to the Fringe Festival; we already have a date with John Huston for a barbecue.”
Blue Onion (allium) flowered these past two weeks
·      Garden Tip:  The old timers, who lived through the 1930s, tell us never to complain about moisture, of any kind.  So, I am not complaining, but have we ever had the rain.  My plants, as no doubt yours are as well, are getting washed out. The next time you water,  stop your giggling, ensure that you add some 10 30 20 or 15 30 15 to your watering can and some iron chelate.  Many plants are starting to turn a bit yellow which means the available iron has been washed away with this much rain.  You should notice an improvement within seven to ten days.
·      Yes! The Fringe is coming:  From around the world and from across the street, The Regina International Fringe Festival will be here, soon.  This year, it is happening July 9th to the 13th.  I know there are some outstanding performers who are booked and without the audience, actors will be speaking to an empty room.  That means, get out there and see as many shows as you can.  It is a great price at only ten bucks a show.  If you take in a few shows, I guarantee that you will be a witness to some of the finest theater in the world.  Our collective hats off to Jodi Sadowsky who runs The Fringe for our benefit.
·      The Caraway Grill:  Maureen glared.  “I am not cooking tonight!”  I got the hint, after all of these years of marriage. I am catching on.  She had never been to The Caraway Grill, which has been reviewed here in another edition, and she loved it.  It was a culinary adventure because what we thought we had ordered and what arrived at our table was a pleasant surprise.  The tastes were wonderful and she is now, as are many of you, a true convert.
'Bridal Wreath' spirea
Garden Tip: The white blooming plant, about three feet high and cascading over, is probably a ‘Three Lobe’ spirea.  Lots of blooms this year.  If it is a bit bigger, chances are it is a ‘Bridal Wreath’ spirea.  Both are great plants and both enjoy more sun than shade.  Another great choice for gardeners is the ‘Little Princess’ spirea.  I have one of those in my own garden and I love it.  In the attachments, I have included photos. 
'Little Princess' spirea
·      New Dance Horizons Secret Garden Tour:  This year will feature several of Regina’s finest gardens.  Have you ever been a snoop?  Come on.  Admit it.  Now you can pay a fee of $40 to NDH, get a passport, and check out how other people garden.  Make sure you look in their tool shed to check if they have been sweeping.  What?  Isn’t that what snoops do? This year, the dates are June 11th to the 13th
This garden will be on the NDH tour
·      Steak Nights:  There are many of these nights available to us, as fundraisers and all for worthy causes.  I always buy at least two or more tickets for these things.  Usually, I give the tickets to folks who don’t get much of an opportunity to go out to eat.  They appreciate the tickets, as do the fund raisers.  A few weeks ago, we took in one of those steak nights at The Tap.  We don’t get too many occasions when we are in their neighbourhood and when we arrived, it felt as if we were in another city.  In the north west part of the city, they have everything from all the banks, the grocery stores, the chains and the independents.  After being there, I feel that my world is too shallow.  Comfortable, but shallow. 
     This review contains two distinct elements.  One that reads “everything was perfect” and the other part that reads “no it wasn't.” Maureen had one of their ales, the garden salad, the steak and a baked potato.  All was “excellent” she declared to no one but me.  I don’t drink (I am the neighbourhood designated driver) so I ordered a ginger ale.  It was 5% ginger ale and 95% carbonated water.  Only the slightest hint of ginger ale was ascertained.  Maureen tasted it, suggested that I send it back and my reply was “this is God protecting me from too much sugar” and I let it ride.  I asked that my baked potato be French fries instead.  Our server said she would check.  It couldn't be done.  I said, again, “this is God protecting me from cholesterol.”  I wondered why God let the guy across from me have French fries? Perhaps his cholesterol  was better than mine?  They do check when you enter the restaurant, but you already knew that.  I found out it was because he was not a  part of the steak night. My food arrived.  I didn't eat the baked potato, just not my thing.  I didn't order the garden salad.  I had ordered the Caesar, which was available to me in spite of it being steak night.  It was flat and wilted, prepared at least one hour prior to my serving.  Here is the kicker, the steak was amongst the best I have ever had.  It put a few other establishments to shame, especially The Diplomat.  We have not eaten at The Diplomat for four or five years, because their idea of a rib eye was so disappointing.  The Tap’s  steak was charred on the outside and succulent on the inside.  Absolute perfection.  Now, the other three components of my meal left me wanting but I have to give it to them for grilling a steak properly.  I would visit it again and who knows, this time, they might let me order fries with my steak, instead of the baked potato.  One can only hope.
Tulips at Night-photo by Maureen Hawley
·      Garden Tip:  Even though June has been a difficult month to garden and it is normally one of the favourites, you can and should keep gardening.  My own bedding plants were mostly in the ground and it started to rain.  This was early June.  No problem.  Let it rain for a night and the next day, carry on.  The plants still sit, waiting for a dry day to get out there.  I don’t like that I have not finished planting, but I also don’t give up.·
This 'Morden Sunrise' rose appeared dead, this spring
  Garden Tip:  Speaking of not giving up, many of you have shared about not giving up.  This winter was hard on our plants, no argument there.  Many plants appeared to be dead this spring.  Many people dug out their supposed dead plants but most still had life in them.  I had in the gardens I care for, thirty two rose plants.  Most appeared dead.  All but two are doing fine today.  This story is repeating itself over the city.  I am getting emails and conversations from many people that what appeared to be finished is now a ‘Lazarus’ plant.  It has come back to life.  Faith and patience has been rewarded, numerous times this season.
'Morden Belle' rose- a good one for Regina

·      Hats off to Jean:  I proof read and I proof read, and still something sneaks by.  Everyone who edits knows this to be true.
In the last edition, I wrote that Justin Trudeau was “stocking me”.  The word seemed so right. Jean Freeman was kind enough to point out that the word ‘stalking’ was a much better choice.  Mea culpa.
·      A tale of two genders:  I distinctly heard Maureen say to me this morning, “have a piece of my home made chocolate cake for breakfast.”  She claims that she said “touch the chocolate cake and you’re dead!”  I really wish you guys would make yourself more clear in what it is you really want from us men.
·      Garden Tip:  With the outbreak, again, of forest tent caterpillar, a great choice and still within the organic family, is any product with pyrethrums.  I have found them in Ambush and I have mixed that with a bit of Trounce in my sprayer and it was effective.  
·      Garden Tip: With the pooled water, we can expect one of the worst years of mosquitoes.  Either 1991 or 1992, the mosquitoes were so severe that when bike riding, I quit stopping at Stop signs and red lights.  That is a pretty big admission for a guy who doesn't jay walk.  In my defence, the moment you stopped, they swarmed and ate you alive.  As long as you kept the bike moving, you were okay.  To settle the mosquitoes down for the better part of a day, I spray my garden with Trounce.  The soap makes them sleepy and they become rare for the rest of the gardening day.
·      Great movie:  I am not a big movie buff but I do enjoy them.  Saturday, we took in Clint Eastwood’s ‘Jersey Boys’.  After his history with spaghetti westerns and winning an Oscar for ‘Million Dollar Baby’ this movie appeared to be an odd choice, for him.  He had such a soft touch with this movie, not milking a scene and yet pulling back when needed, that if he doesn’t win an Oscar, his editor should.  It’s a great movie.   Tell Clint I sent you.
·      The Farmers’ Market:  I haven’t been getting there as often as I should or at least, not as often as I used to do so.  I did make it out on Saturday and I had a good time.  I have written before that going to the market is as much about being social as it is about commerce.  Two readers, Gwen Barschel and Debbie Cameron visited with me, thus the social part.  I bought a great jar of bread and butter pickles as well.  Brad grew some strawberries in his greenhouse that were amongst the finest I have ever eaten.  Go early.  He has been selling  out within an hour.  My life is so simple and not complicated, just the way I like it.
Brad Crasweller built this gazebo
Nice: Outdoor Expressions finished off a pergola, with brick work, that they stared for a customer last year.  It looks lovely and thought it should be shared with the readers. 
·      Some have it harder:  My heart goes out to all the readers who have had their basements damaged either by the rain water or by sewer back up.  Each night on the news, there is another person who has been hit hard.  In some communities, people have even had to leave their homes and move in with relatives or the community safe spots.   This has not been easy on them. 
·      Credit is due: The photos of the tulips, New Guineas, hibiscus and pansies were all taken by Maureen Hawley who has turned into the official photographer of this blog.  It was a very sought after job because while it pays nothing, the glory is immense.
'Thunderchild' in bloom
·      Thought for the day:  Even if you have pains, you are not allowed to be one.
·      The last word:  This week, it goes to Alan Bratt and his opinion of drivers who use handicap spaces and don’t need them.  “I think you are looking at the fellow who parked in the handicap spot in the wrong way. He, too, is handicapped but in a more profound way. He is both stupid and arrogant. Imagine what it is like to be him. In his mind the whole world revolves around him and his needs of the moment. It is his belief that no truly handicapped person is going to appear and need that space because if they needed it they would already be there. That lack of reasoning indicates his stupidity and the careless use of the spot his arrogance.” 
A 'Baby Blue' grafted spruce
Thanks for reading...Rod McDonald in the heart of the rain forest of Regina, Canada.

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