Rubber Boots and Marigolds

Spring is trying to get here on the prairies without much success. I think we may have had summer because we had one day where it was 26 C. Then the snow came and it the weather is struggling to stay in the teens. I have been watching the overnight temperatures very closely and decided to risk it. I planted my garden.

There are people who won’t plant until the full moon after the last frost but honestly that is mid June and then stuff stops growing mid August. I don’t know about you, but I am not spending $$$ for two months worth of flowers. I typically plant Mother’s Day weekend, but held off this year. I am glad I did. The snow gave a deep soaking drink to my shrubs and trees. This weekend they came to life. I figured it was a good as time as any to get the show on the road.

I took Friday off and went to my favourite greenhouse – Wallish – and shopped INSIDE THE GREENHOUSE. This is big for me. I am starting to feel comfortable in public again. I masked up and in I went. Now don’t get me wrong, I would not have gone near the place if there was a line up to get in. There wasn’t and the place wasn’t very crowed with the busiest day of the year being Saturday. I came armed with my list and began the delightful pattern of shopping row by row.

I wanted Stocks in the worst way, and they were sold out. I wanted Calendula and they didn’t plant any this year. I wanted Teddy Bear Sunflowers and there were no sunflowers of any variety. Okay – plan B.

I saw Portulaca and thought why not? I will tell you why not, I got home and realized I no longer have a yard that supports full sun plants. So we will see how those poor devils do on my deck. I saw Dianthus and remembered planting in years ago in the best garden of all time behind the worst house of all time. I moved – I wish I could have brought my garden with me. I bought a few more perennials like Creeping Phlox and Carpathian Bells and then cruised the annual section for sweetpeas, petunias, violets and marigolds.

Marigolds have been a favourite of mine since I was a kid. My mom planted them along the south side of the house in full sun and there was a mass of marigolds. It was lovely. I have always had in them in my garden since. My son feels the same way.

When my son (25) was three, he had a pair of Tonka Truck boots that he loved more than anything. He wore them everywhere. When he finally outgrew them, he would not let me give them away so we kept them on a shelf under the stairs.

Often we would go to different greenhouses for ‘field trips’ and Hole’s Greenhouse in St. Albert was a destination one day. I was looking at planters feeling depressed about the cost – because we were poor. I mean struggling so I sometimes took after my great aunt Sister Dominica (yes she was a nun) and pinch bits off of plants to root them or pop a seed head off and take that home to propagate. This one particular day, Lois Hole (greenhouse owner and former Lieutenant Governor of Alberta) came over to me and started chatting about planters. I confessed my inability to purchase any and she smiled at me and said, ‘any container that can hold soil can be a planter.” I thought about what I might have at home that would work. Before we left, I let my kids each pick out a six pack for their garden at home. My son picked marigolds for his garden.

When we got home I was putting things away and I thought of my son’s rubber boots. I drilled holes for drainage, stuffed the toes with broken plant packs and had my son fill the boots with soil. Then we planted the marigolds. I showed him how to water the flowers and deadhead them so they would continue to bloom all summer then in the fall we let the flowers go to seed and carefully save the seeds for the spring.

This year as I was planning my garden, I asked my son what he wanted in his garden (the rubber boots) and did he want to try something new. “Marigolds, and don’t put anything else in there or you can’t use them.” Marigolds it is. We have moved from the first house with the amazing garden but the boots came with us. Every year for the past 22 years, they have stood on the step of my porch filled with marigolds. I imagine one day I will have a few more boots from future grandkids sitting there with marigolds too.

Stay healthy friends.

Endless time

How is everyone doing? I am on day 30 of being safe at home. That is a lot of days and it doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime soon. Summer festivals are dropping like dominos. My favourite ones are done so there’s that. But I am looking forward to summer anyways. With endless time on my hands, I’ve planned a couple of vegetable garden beds using insanely large plastic storage containers, I have a couple of six foot and four foot bins. The plan is to grow root vegetables, so we will see how that goes. At the side of my house I grow sweet peas, I think I will grow green peas and beans instead. I just hope the snowing will stop because I long to sit on my deck and enjoy flowers.

As it warms up I think my baking will slow down. Hot houses and hot stoves are not a good match. Meanwhile, I have been a machine with little projects. I have made green onion cakes, pasta, pizza dough, cookies and cinnamon buns. I am loving it! It has opened up new friend chats as we talk about proving dough and weighing flour. It is weird what I find fun now.

Speaking of fun… Beverly Clearly turned 104 on the weekend. I read a lot of her books when I was in elementary and jr. high. In grade six I read The Luckiest Girl of hers and passed it around the class for others to read. I must have read it a dozen times before I went to high school. I have thought about the characters in the story a lot over the years, so I decided to borrow it from the local library (online because the EPL is currently closed). Can I just say, I was still enthralled with this story and surprised at how well it stood up. The story takes place in the 1950’s but aside from clothing, telephones and hanging laundry, the rest felt pretty current, or at least current enough. The big takeaway is the character development and archs. I think Clearly was an under-appreciated author and was lumped into the children’s category as if that was a slight on her work. It has made me seek out other books I read way back then and see how they hold up.

I am quite impressed with 11 year old me. 11 year old me had an argument with the Mrs. Erickson, the librarian, about how I should diversify my reading repertoire and read new authors and finish what I start. I said why do I have to finish books I don’t like? I still won’t finish a bad or boring book. With the millions of great books out there, why spend time on something that won’t hold my interest? I am looking for more books from my youth like Mom, the Wolfman and me by Norma Klein and Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater to see if they can still capture my attention.

I overheard my son chatting with his girlfriend about how his parents (me and hubs) read to him and his sister every night. AND BIG BOOKS TOO! (Big books?) He mentioned some of the ones that stood out, like Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B.White, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Holes by Louis Sachar and the Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling. We read to them long after they could read to themselves for a couple of reasons. Obviously emotional connection was the number one reason, but critical thinking had to be number two. We would discuss books at dinner and talk about why characters made certain choices or why the author did. When my kids were reading on their own, I would also read the same story so I could talk to them about what they were reading and thinking. These were some of the greatest conversations. It’s why I want to join book clubs and why I am always disappointed in the book clubs I join. People tend to want to go to book clubs for socialization. I want intellectual conversation. I don’t tend to last long especially when people don’t even read the book before the meeting.

So far I have read 11 books for the year. (It’s funny how the number 11 still shows up daily for me). My goal is 40 by December. I will likely reach that goal. But I am looking for a book that hooks me as soon as I read the first page. Any suggestions? I don’t want to have to slog through 100+ pages before I get into it. So don’t suggest those books. I like family generational epics like the Rice Mother by Rani Manicka or Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I like a good memoir too like Educated by Tara Westover or Spoiler Alert the Hero Dies by Michael Ausiello. Bonus points if it is available in the EPL (Edmonton Public Library) data base. I am in a bit of a fragile state so sad or scary really need to be left on the shelf.

Let me know what you are reading and stay healthy friends!