Monday, April 30, 2012

You're welcome

When our street was widened and repaved a few years ago, we ended up with a couple of garden beds around the mailboxes. We live on a driveway that accesses five houses, two of which are rentals. I casually suggested to our friends, Jim and Carol (who live across the driveway from us and have an awesome garden) that we put down weed barrier and rocks. Jim opened his mouth in mock horror and countered with a proposal of planting flowers.

Fine, I conceded, let's do it.
By us, I guess I meant me, although I have cajoled the neighbours into contributing in ways that aren't painful to them. Jim ponied up a boatload of perennial starts that, combined with my own, have made enormous progress over these last few years in filling up the beds. My goal is for the plants to completely cover the area and this just might be the year that it happens.

Another neighbour, who lives next to the street, kindly lets me drag her water hose to the flowers so that I can water them in the heat of the summer. I try to be kind to her water bill by irrigating as minimally as possible.

Other than that, it's usually yours truly doing all the planting, weeding, watering, slug-baiting and soil amendment tasks throughout the year.
So, I figure I get to post as many political signs as I please.
And I do.
Vote for Angel, he's our man!

The beds are filled with a mixture of perennials that grow larger every year and annuals that consistently re-seed, such as cosmos and these pink bachelor's buttons. This clump sprouted in the late fall and somehow survived the cold of winter. It is almost ready to flower.

I love the different shades of huechera. This is one of my favourites.

Also known as coral bells, they attract humming birds and bees. The clumps in the back are shamrocks that will soon be covered in pink flowers.

Hardy pink geraniums are already in flower.

Daniel and I had weeded most of the two beds a few weeks ago. This one was more than our stamina could handle, so the seedy grass was in full reign by last weekend. Jeff kindly asked me what I wanted him to do in the garden on Saturday and I jumped at the chance to have help with this final bit of weeding. Notice that this flowerbed is not technically completely in our jurisdiction, but I take care of it anyway. The far end of it is in front of the next house on the street and houses their mailbox. The house is another rental.

Jeff and I were digging (him) and groaning (me) as we neared the end of the job, when out walked the lady of the rental house. We had never met her before. She kind of chuckled as she collected her mail and made a comment about how all the weeds had grown.
And then she went back into her house.

Seriously, lady?
We are weeding your flowerbed, which we also planted, and you don't even have the grace to say Thank you?

Maybe she thought we were the hired help.
You're welcome, I said quietly, as she closed her door.

Last Christmas, Carol gave me some lovely chocolates and a thank you for taking care of the flowerbeds.

Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality.
                   ~Alfred Painter

Silent gratitude isn't much good to anyone.
             ~G.B. Stern

There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.
                ~Robert Brault

Who have you thanked today?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Well, maybe I won't miss Picnik too much after all

My neighbour has a dogwood tree that I covet.
Wouldn't you covet these deep pink blossoms if you had to look at them every time you went out your front door?

I'm trying out LunaPic, needing a new photo editor after the sad demise of Piknik.
What do you think? I haven't explored the subtleties of the programme yet, but I like these basic effects.

Colour bars
Christmas bulb
Photo spread
Lego Style
3D Cube
Colour pencil sketch

Tilt tile
Transitions animation. For some reason, it won't post as an extra-large picture, but I'm just impressed that I could post it at all!

There are lots of others, especially animations, which I hardly got into at all. This was what I did while having half-an-eye on New Tricks on PBS tonight. Don't ask me what the story was about!
I have high hopes for LunaPic.

In other news, everyone has gone home and Jeff and I are alone again.
Elsie never did warm up to me, but I suspect it was because her Mama was always in sight.
That's okay. I have a very strong sense of delayed gratification and I shall win this battle eventually.
Happy Sabbath to you all.
May you be surrounded by those who love you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Happy Crazy Week

A certain Pirate lovingly berated me for being silent, so this is an appeasement for the people who read this blog because you love me.
If you come here for astounding recipes and fascinating opinion pieces, better come back next week.
If you already saw the one thousand-and-ninety-five photos I posted on facebook, likewise.

It has been a busy few days, but full of love and merriment.
Here are the two youngest babes, checking each other out. They weren't too impressed at first, but have become more interested as the days go by. They are both at the cooing and gurgling stage and are prime targets for motherese. 

Gabriel is a sweet soul. He is a wiggly baby, in contrast to Madelyn, who is very calm. 

Elsie mostly ignores me. I followed her around the garden one morning, trying to get a decent photo, and I didn't manage to get one picture of her looking at me and smiling.
The girl has attitude!

Here she is, trying on new clothes and finding unusual places to park her cute bottom.

Much food was consumed.

Much laughter was heard.

Dolly Parton dropped in for a visit.
Inside joke.

Some of us got to take naps.
And I don't mean Nana.

Charlie and Sam were here for less than three days and were continually surrounded by an entourage of adoring nieces and nephews.

On Monday, we watched soccer games. 
Josh was obviously excited by something.

Daniel got an impressive trophy and a cupcake.

Elsie got a cupcake.
She ate the frosting as Kenzie hovered over her. 
Elsie loves Kenzie more than she loves me.
Which is okay. 

Annie and Edwin are still here and the action continues, so now I'm going to bed to stock up on energy for tomorrow and try to think of a cunning plan to engage Elsie's affection.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's a surprise, stupid!

In a few days, these little darlings will be paying me a visit.

Um, okay, they're visiting Papa too. And Aunty Bethany and Aunty Jenny and maybe the uncles and all the cousins who dote on them as well.
Oh, and their mommy and daddy are coming along for the ride.

One day earlier, these little darlings will also arrive for the weekend.

They weren't going to come, but my motherly heart couldn't stand the thought of them not being here with the rest of us, so we bribed them with free tickets. 
Free to them, that is!

Now, the idea was that these 

would not know that these 

were coming.

Don't tell Annie, I told everyone. 
I wanted it to be a surprise.
I love surprising people.

One time, when my Mum came for a visit from New Zealand, she was expecting to arrive and then witness Annie's birth within a few days. Which, to be honest, I don't think she was anticipating with relish, but I thought it would be good for her. Only Annie came early, so Jeff and the kids went to pick Mum up at the airport and told her I was resting. We swore the kids to secrecy, a bit of a risky undertaking with a three-and a two-year-old. When she walked into the bedroom she didn't notice Annie in the crib and nearly had a heart attack when she saw I had no pregnant tummy.
True story.
The next time she came to visit, we had just moved into our house and didn't tell her. She couldn't figure out why we pulled into this nice new house instead of the crappy old rental. Annie was four at the time and was not happy about sharing her room with Nana. Of course, she wasn't happy about moving into the new house either. She used to cry and ask to go back to the "yellow house".
True story.
I love surprising people.

Last Sunday, Jonnie asked me why I wanted to surprise Annie.
Because I like surprising people! I exclaimed. Surprises are fun!

Some people just don't get it.

So today I was talking to Annie about a musical number our family will sing in church next week. Be Still My Soul, if you're interested. We were discussing who would sing which part, with Bethany on flute and me on piano. It leaves us a little short on girls voices. She said something like Well Sa.. and then stopped short.
What did you say?
What? Oh, I don't know, something about singing.
Who let the cat out of the bag?
What are you talking about? Did you get a cat?

And then the conversation just got stupid. I couldn't figure out how to nail Annie down without giving away the secret, if indeed she hadn't figured it out. As soon as I got off the phone with Annie I called Bethany.

Does Annie know about Charlie and Sam coming?
I don't think so, I haven't talked to her for a while.

I called Charlie, then Sam.
No answer came the stern reply.

I called Jon. 
Did you tell Annie about Charlie?
 He tried to act as if he didn't understand  what I was talking about, but then he was sheepish.
I talked to her a couple of hours ago and we were planning Saturday stuff and I said "Mum wants us to all go out to dinner while Charlie's still here". And then I remembered I wasn't supposed to tell.
After I lovingly berated him for being such a stupid son, he suggested that I not tell Annie that I know that she knows so that she can act all surprised.
I said that is just stupid and rejected the idea.

I called Annie back and told her that I know she knows. 
She said What? He told you? I told him not to tell you!

Good grief. 

It promises to be an intriguing week, don't you think?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Botanica exotica

It occurred to me yesterday, as I was creeping stealthily around my vegetable garden, hoping to catch my vegetables in the act of growing, that I do not grow many of your average horticulturals.
Sure, tomatoes take over a large part of the raised bed every summer, but right now, it's the unusual that rules the compost heap.

In their third year, the asparagus tips are springing up with abandon.

Blueberry flowers are gamely blooming in spite of the hail and rain. 
Everything in the garden is bedecked with droplets of intermittent precipitation.

Will this be the year that the kiwis finally give us fruit?
Oh, I hope so. Last year, the female flowered, so all we need now is for the male to do the same and we are in business.

The ruby red rhubarb plant has such pretty leaves this year and I just figured out why.
No slug holes.
Way to go, little rhubarb plant!

Now, as soon as temperatures warm up, maybe my milk-bottle seeds will have something to show.
Until then, happy gardening to you.
And may the odds be ever in your favour.

Sorry. Couldn't resist a little Hunger Games quote, for some reason!

Friday, April 13, 2012

My new cunning plan (shhhh, don't tell the kids!)

A couple of Sundays ago, after Jeff's birthday celebration (including the usual dinner and cake) and feeling quite exhausted, I nonchalantly said, Oh, it's Easter next Sunday. Who's hosting dinner?
Jon volunteered. 
So Sunday afternoon found us all at Jon and Jenny's house. 
I did not have to clean.
I made a few of the dishes, but Bethany has become roll-baker extraordinaire and Jon and Jenny took care of most of the dinner.
Here is Jenny, sauteeing sauteing (okay, that spelling was unexpected) cauliflower. 
In bacon fat. Yummmm.

Jon, adventurously stir-frying green beans and red peppers.
Not sure what the baleful look was about.
Notice Thomy at the piano in the background.

The little darling was tickling the ivories as we cooked. 

Squeaker was often to be found underfoot or being cuddled...

...or trying to nibble baby Madelyn's toes.
What is it with small dogs and their fascination with small people?

I love men in the kitchen, don't you?

Jon was suffering from sleep deprivation, as usual. 
I think he did smile a couple of times, but I never managed to catch it on camera.

Our angel's mother (who shall remain nameless at this time) forgot about the connection between sun exposure and sunburn and sunstroke. The unexpected sunshine on Saturday was the babe's undoing. Our fair skin has caused a case of sunstroke for almost every child at one time or another.

Jenny and Madelyn having a good conversation. This baby loves to babble.

Bethany and Chris managed the Easter egg hunt.
Chris was very innovative in his choices of hiding places.

I'm afraid that this has set a dangerous precedent.
Thanksgiving, anyone?