Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Improvise, Adapt and Overcome


"Improvise, adapt and overcome", a fetching quote which I've always admired.  Clint Eastwood made it popular in the movie Heartbreak Ridge and it speaks of possibilities, particularly how we can apply it to our own lives.
A few readers are friends on FaceBook; the social media platform that can be helpful to learn of family, friends and church news. It can also be a frustrating exercise in exasperation.
It's happened before - someone replicating my FB account but the grandchildren took care of that and I never saw the 'fake' page. Last week a couple of people messaged me to say it had happened (again) and so this time I searched for my replication and was disappointed that someone would go to the trouble of impersonating me, a grandmother.
After reporting said person's impersonation to FB, I have to admit they were on the ball and had the page removed within an hour or so. This is when I decided to improvise and replace a profile photo of myself with my Avatar from Bitmoji. If you haven't tried this app, it's a lot of fun as you make an Avatar to look like yourself. Haha, mine even has wrinkles. (note: only for ios systems)
Before the whole thing was cleared up though, the impersonator contacted a few friends with political  or other  ulterior motives, one being my pastor. He knew it wasn't me right away as I would never address him by his first name. Pastor C asked the fake me pertinent questions and received dodgy answers after which he typed HACKER! I was shown the conversation at church on his phone. A tad embarrassing but that concern has been adapted and overcome.
Here is the second issue that required my attention. I was walking past the large kitchen window that faces the backyard and saw something disappearing into the pond. 


Yikes.... this is where FB comes in handy with knowledgeable gardening associates and wildlife enthusiasts. Identified as a mink which are known to inhabit the areas around our inland lake but obviously travel within subdivisions in search of food. Google helped with their diet of fish, frogs, squirrels and birds so we assume all 40 plus of our goldfish are now gone. Maybe the frogs that hibernate in the mud at the bottom of the pond too. What action should we take?
Lets go back to last summer when I realized there were too many goldfish in our size of pond (like rabbits they multiply quickly) and would have to remove some - but what to do with them? I didn't to anything and now...problem overcome. However, a note to self.... be careful what you wish for and perhaps improvise something to discourage the return of the mink?
Sometimes it is hard to honour the commitment to have a certified wildlife habitat which means ALL wildlife and to let nature take its course. By eating our pond inhabitants maybe the babies of this mink will have a chance at life...  Previously a blue heron and kingfisher have also eaten from our pond.
Life hasn't been all challenges, above I went for high tea with a friend. I didn't realize my glasses had picked up the sunlight from the window and were dark but I had asked a fellow if he would take a shot with my phone and I wasn't about to ask for a retake.  There's something special about having dainty sandwiches, scones, petite sweets and drinking tea from a teacup while having good conversation.
Spring is in the air and a pair of cardinals have been in the backyard every day, staking out their territory and eating from the feeders. Imagine the improvising and adaptation birds and wildlife have to make to overcome losing their natural habitat. With the return of quite a few foxes to our area members of the community have said they've taken to building dens in backyards, having learned to coexist with humans. I hope the backyard habitat we've created will be found suitable as it would be fun to see little foxes scampering about.
I'll leave you with a small countertop spring display I put together which now sits on the windowsill over the sink. The hyacinth has opened to perfume the air, the weather has warmed and it feels like spring has finally arrived.
Take time for tea!

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Well-Tended Perennial Garden ~ A Book Review

Do you manipulate the perennials in your garden? Learning to do so with ease and precision is one of the things I have always liked about The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust.
 On the left is my original copy from 1998 which was constantly on my desk as a resource when writing my weekly newspaper gardening column or for other publications. On the right is the latest, completely revised and expanded edition of 2017 which I was offered to review.
Gardening at Hiddenhaven, her property in Ohio, DiSabato-Aust is the type of writer who not only gives the facts but also her own testimony to cultivars she has used, and why.
The 2017 edition book has new plants listed, new projects and best of all - colour photos!
As with the previous editions of the Well-Tended Perennial Garden, design is addressed and what constitutes low maintenance plants and gardening. On the other hand, one is also advised of high maintenance and invasive plants.
Gardeners will appreciate the organic updates for fertilizer and pest control along with personal tips to deter critters in the garden.
The usual site, soil conditions, importance of organic matter and how it affects different soil types is covered again. There's also a good section on dividing perennials.
Figure out your gardening hardiness zone. Since the book is written by an American, US zones are applied and Canadians generally subtract one to arrive at theirs. Each country has based their hardiness zones on different criteria.
And now we come to my favourite part; the manipulation. (which is my descriptive word, by the way) This is achieved with pruning, pinching, disbudding and dead leafing. An impressive list wouldn't you say? Each technique is explained in detail and the fun task of deadheading is demystified.
Manipulation, can produce thicker, more compact plants, a stepped appearance, even later bloom.
In my Canadian Z5b garden, I've learned that mums can be pinched back on Mother's Day and again on Father's day to produce a compact, later flowering plant that won't flop in the middle.
Flower show participants know the benefits of disbudding, particularly for peonies and this is explained for the everyone.
 A hint: notice the little buds on the side of this peony in my garden?
If you have lady's mantle, then you'll want to know how to dead leaf it when the pretty chartreuse flowers are spent and the leaves become scraggly.
Lady's mantle in my garden
The encyclopedia with wonderful colour photos of many perennials has flower description with bloom time, US zone, how to prune, other maintenance and related plants. 
Finally, at the back of the book are perennials listed by maintenance needs, planting and maintenance schedule. I'm always amazed at the number of perennials listed in 'short-lived' as we tend to think they live forever but unless allowed to self seed, many disappear and we wonder what happened to them.
I wish to thank Thomas Allen & Son for providing me with a copy of The Well-Tended Perennial Garden to review and to Tracy DiSabato-Aust for updating her book which I highly recommend.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

When the Cat's Away

You all know the saying 'when the cat's away, the mice will play?' Well this was the case while we were in Florida for the month of February. We have a dog though, not a cat, and he was away with us.
 Every year, even with the traps set the mice get into my cutlery drawer and everything has to be sanitized. However, this year they were really naughty and climbed in the top drawer of a dresser to open my microwave neck warmers and eat the seeds. Fortunately the lavender one on top was barely damaged as it was full of something they didn't like but another one must have filled little tummies for days. I washed the lavender casing in bleach and had to give it a few drops of essential oil again.
In my craft studio things were knocked over and my spools of ribbon rolled every which way. Luckily nothing was damaged and no sign of chewing anywhere. I think these little rodents are smarter than we give them credit for. 
We came back to almost no snow on the ground but two days of the white stuff coming down like the dickens remedied that. Ah well, it will soon be spring and the sun rising through the trees is a pretty sight. Not to mention I've seen a few robins in the dwarf crab apple tree.
My neighbour welcomed me back with a bouquet of tulips for my birthday in a lovely shade of purple. Thank you for all the nice comments on my last post when I had bragging rights about becoming a senior. And as Forrest Gump said, "and that's all I'm going to say about that."
Murchie's released a Canada 150 blend of tea in honour of Canada's 150th anniversary this year and I tried it yesterday afternoon. Here's their description: A mosaic of black, green and oolong teas, blended with a hint of maple to celebrate our nation’s history and diversity. Doesn't it sound good? It did make a pleasant pot of tea.
The clocks move ahead this Sunday, the days are getting warmer and I have been reading an awesome updated gardening book to share for a review. It got me itching to get outside and get my hands dirty. 
I plan to get around and visit everyone in the next few days, have a good week!
Take time for tea.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Birthdays are Ordinary Days Sprinkled with Stardust

Birthday celebrations have been ongoing for me during our Florida vacation for a couple of weeks and I'm proud to say that as of today, I am officially a senior! Sixty-five, and proud of it... but I wonder where the time has gone? 
The celebration started on February 15 with an afternoon tea at The Wisteria Tea Room in Fort Myers with our youngest daughter and granddaughter.
Birthdays are filled with yesterday’s memories, today’s joys and tomorrow’s dreams.
Hubby gifted me with a ruby necklace and a cross for my Valentine's/birthday gift.
The weather in Florida this February has been better than any other year - in the 80s almost every day producing gorgeous sunsets like this one on the canal at the back of our rental house.
Hubby and I came home from our after dinner walk with the dog one night to excited whispers from the grands and a party table set up.
We put on our party hats.. (granddaughter Alexandra on reading week)
and had a decadent chocolate fudge cake with chocolate dipped strawberries on top.
Birthdays are ordinary days sprinkled with stardust.
Sometimes the guests at a party have too much fun! lol Above is our grandson Sam with 6 hats on, there's one sticking out the back too. 
Decadent macarons from Le Macaron were picked up for tea one day.
Lavender and pistachio were my selections with a cup of Earl Grey tea.
After filling in a temporary form for the US mail, I received a birthday card with a dishcloth and new variety of tea to try from my sweet blogging sister Kitty in Texas. The cloth is perfect for a doily on my teacart back at home, so pretty in my colours. 
Tonight we're getting dressed up to go out for a nice dinner as Alexandra heads back to northern Ontario tomorrow. I'll have the birthday cards from our card and tea exchange group to look forward to when we go back home next week and other surprises that have been hinted at.
A few other bloggers have their birthday this month and a shout out to them for best wishes.
My lavender sis Diane at Lavender Dreams has already celebrated, as has Phyllis at The Relevant Tea Leaf.
Kitty at Kitty's Kozy Kitchen celebrates tomorrow. 
I'm sure there are many more, please include in your comment if you are a February woman.
Each birthday is a new beginning, full of promise and opportunity 
and the chance to make dreams come true.
Take time for tea.
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