Saturday, July 14, 2018


I loved my Henryi clematis and when it disappeared from the garden, I missed it!

I tried planting it again on the fence but it just didn't take. Henry the 1st made a brief reappearance, and then vanished altogether. 

Now I've dedicated a trellis to Henryi the 3rd  in the garden, hoping he likes his new home. A few buds on the new vine show promise for fall.

I've also found some vigorous growers for along the fence and hope these white clematis thrive. There are some for early summer flowers and late bloomers for fall.

All white, for petals in the moonlight.

Jackmani Alba:  For the fence, closest to the red Japanese maple. Flowers June to September. This is fully hardy; flowers on last year's growth. It prefers to be facing south or west; I've placed north and east, hopefully its vigorous nature will adapt nicely. Large open single or semi-double blooms. Group 2, prune light. In early spring:
  • Yr 1: Cut back all stems to 30 cm (12") 
  • Yr 2: Cut back all stems to 1 m (3')
  • Yr 3: Cut back all stems to a pair of buds
Sweet Autumn Clematis (clematis terniflora): For the fence, above the chocolate boneset, which has plumes of white in fall. Vigorous twining deciduous vine produces fragrant creamy white panicles of flowers from late August to October followed by silvery seed heads. Ideal for fences or ground cover; considered invasive by some but when properly maintained, the vine can be a well-behaved asset to the garden at a time of year when pretty much everything else has stopped blooming. Prune back to 12" from ground in late fall to keep in check. 

Henryi: Group 2 clematis; blooms in late spring/early summer and again in fall. 6' - 10'. Deciduous climber. Prune in late winter or early spring; then prune again after the first flush of flowers.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Book Babes AGM

Life's circumstances shortened my participation at this year's AGM from a weekend to one day (June 25), but it was definitely one fine day, despite the rain and cool temperatures.

Nicolette picked up Debra and I, and on the drive up we listened to Louise Penny's The Brutal Telling on audio. I had also just started reading the book the book Still Life, by the same author. What an interesting experience! Reading the first in series, while listening to the fifth, as Chief Inspector Gamache solves the murder while in the Quebecois village of Three Pines. The same characters had grown and changed by the fifth, their lives evolving in the not-so-quiet town.

We arrived at Nicki's and walked over the stone road, past the pond with the singing bullfrogs, around the curve and down the hill to Louise's, where we discussed the first book over brunch with mimosas, quiche, limoncello mousse, and fresh fruit. Nicki, Louise, Linda, Laura, Virginia, Nicolette, Debra, and me.

A quick trip into town and then back to Nicki's. As he has done over the years, while her husband Tim was hosting his radio show he played two different versions of "Fever," teasing us for hot and cold flashes and afternoon naps.

A rainy afternoon, while we picked the books for the coming year. A tasty meal, and then back to the car for the long drive home.

Booklist 2018-2019

Sept 5, 2018- Diane: Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman

Oct 3, 2018- Nicolette: Enlightenment Now by Stephen Pinker

Nov 7, 2018- Laura: Sixty, A Diary of my Sixty first year by Ian Brown

Dec 5, 2018- Virginia: Unearthed - Love, Acceptance, and Other lessons from an Abandoned Garden by Alexandra Risen

Jan 9, 2019- Debra: The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal JourneyInto the Dark Side by James Fallon

Feb 6 2019- Pat: The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

March 6 2019- Nicki: Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate

April 3 2019 Liz :Republic of Love by Carol Shields

May 1 2019-Miriam: The Nest by Kenneth Oppel

June 22 2019 -AGM Louise: Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn

Honourable Mentions
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Mistakes Were Made but Not by Me by Carol Tavris
The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison
Barkskins by Annie Proulx
Consumption by Kevin Patterson
The World As it Is by Ben Rhodes
The Break by Katherena Vermette
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
The Japanese Lover by Isabelle Allende
Stranger the Dream by Laini Taylor
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Full Strawberry Moon - June 2018

In honour of the full strawberry moon, I propose a toast with a Strawberry Pimm's Cup.

Ontario strawberries are in season! Luscious and intensely flavourful - so superior to the imported cardboard fruit trucked from afar.

- 1.5 oz of Pimm's Cup #1
- .5 oz of London Dry gin
- 2 oz of tonic or gingerale
- 1/4 cup fresh strawberries
- dash of balsalmic vinegar reduction
- ice!

*The next full moon will be overnight on Wednesday and Thursday of June 27 and June 28. That's because the full moon occurs at 12:53 a.m. EDT (0453 GMT), so depending on which time zone you live in, the full moon will be at its best late Wednesday (June 27) or in the wee hours of Thursday (June 28).Jun 4, 2018

Monday, June 25, 2018


Missed a few of the lectures this year, but was also able to take in a Thursday night when Cheryl had an extra ticket to spare.
Although I hadn't read some of the books I was still able to enjoy insights into the writers' creative process or approach to their work. Many of the books I hadn't read were added to my 'must read' list. 
Next year, it is the Thursday night series!
Tuesday, Sept. 5 Alexandra Reisen: Unearthed Love, Acceptance, and Other Lessons from an Abandoned Garden
Thursday, Sept. 14 Gary Barwin: Yiddish for Pirates
Tuesday, Oct. 24 Kevin Patterson: News From the Red Desert
Tuesday, Nov. 7 Wayne Johnston: First Snow, Last Light
Tuesday, Jan. 9 Zoe Whittall: The Best Kind of People
Tuesday, Feb. 27 Iain Reid: I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Tuesday, March 6 Janie Cheng: Dragon Springs Road
Tuesday, April 10 Rachel Cusk (Speaker Sandra Martin): Outline; Transit
Tuesday, May 8 Anosh Irani: The Parcel
Tuesday, June 5 Moshid Hamid (Speaker Suanne Kelman): Exit West

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Thank you, Andy!

Andy and I worked together 30+ years ago and would often share stories over lunch. He was 15 years older than me and was a great source of advice early in my career, and a ballast for some early turbulent days on the job.

He also introduced me to Iyengar yoga on a few of those lunches, where we went to a nearby gym and he taught me the virtues of tadasana, finding balance on the heels and balls of my feet, holding my shoulders back and lifting my chest  Those lunchtime lessons had a profound effect, and although we lost touch, when I was looking to find a yoga teacher, I sought out someone who specialized in the Iyengar method.

We bumped into each other fifteen years later at the Yoga Centre, when I went to buy some wooden yoga blocks for home practice. He was looking forward to retiring from his government job so he could go into teaching yoga full time. And when life's turns brought me back to YCT as a student, I sought out his classes. On many Thursday nights I appreciated his acerbic wit and irreverent approach, and took a few workshops with him. When he decided to retire from teaching I asked for his phone number so I could take him out for a beer.

That little slip of paper stayed in my wallet for a number of years, and I came close to calling the number but never did. At the gala this year, I asked Stephanie how he was, because I knew they kept in touch. He was not doing well. In fact, he was battling cancer and in palliative care, but was taking visitors.

When I visited him, I was happy to see the Andy I remembered - wearing a long white beard, looking for all the world like a yogi reclined in a hospital bed. We caught up with each other, and swapped stories. Patricia, his wife, in their back garden, peeked from behind an arbour and raised a glass of wine in a photo. She had died a few years before and he still missed her. He talked about travels with his nieces and nephews.

I visited a few more times. I asked him for advice about preparing for retirement, and he talked about Steven Covey and 7 Habits and how a holistic view of all dimensions of a person - physical, spiritual, intellectual, social should all be taken into account, and not to neglect those dimensions. What is work giving you, beyond the pay check, that may need to be fulfilled?

There were always visitors in Andy's room. Family, friends. I bumped into people from the yoga centre. Andy didn't complain and spoke highly of everyone at the hospital, but he did say although the food wasn't bad, it wasn't great either. He enjoyed sushi and it was often in the room or on order, and I even brought some it along once, in lieu of flowers.

Treatment continued. Weeks went by. He learned he would never have full mobility and would be paralyzed from the waist down. He tried to plan ahead for the day he would be released from palliative care, and then realized that day wouldn't come.

Jane told me on a Friday, the last day of a yoga workshop, that Andy had made the decision to end his life the following Monday. I went to visit him that afternoon. I brought an audio speaker so I could play him a Monty Python song I thought would suit his irreverent spirit - "Always look on the Bright Side of Life." He smiled when I played it, and closed his eyes and listened, and when the words of the song came to, "Always look on the bright side of death, just before you draw your terminal breath," I realized that really was Andy, an eternal optimist. I put my hand over his and said, 'thank you.'

He died of natural causes the following day, lethal injection not necessary.

His funeral was the following week. There were many of us there from the yoga studio as he taught and mentored both students and teachers. There were also his family, his neighbours, his friends, people from the train club, wood workshop buddies, and someone from the Bladder Cancer Society. People got up to speak and tell stories of the time they spent with Andy and what a difference he had made in their lives. As they spoke I came to know more aspects of his person.

He was a man of many dimensions and led a full life. For his train buddies, he had become President of their association for a number of years. For nieces and nephews, he had introduced them to travel, ideas, and good food. For neighbours, he had provided a place to come together and share stories and drinks. He had become a spokesperson and ambassador for the Bladder Cancer Society and helped inspire and support others.

I am grateful we had a chance to connect again and I was able to learn more about his world and passions.

He introduced me to Iyengar yoga, and I will always be grateful I had a chance to let him know it made such a strong and lasting impact, and to thank him in person.