Thursday, March 29, 2012


how I started my day
under cloudy Thunder Bay skies
I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet, that I’m back in a greenhouse planting things in pots. It’s hard to explain how ridiculously happy I am about this. There is no better air to breathe, oh and to have my hands dirty all day, do things - watching things grow. Yeah, this is my gig.

There is a pair of rain boots in the gift shop that I covet. Matching gloves. Susan always understood my fashion sense - er, greenhouse fashion sense (except the orange pants!)..., and soon my new greenhouse will too. I've had to order my sizes in each - now I can't wait for real water days instead of rain days.

Yesterday I was asked if I thought planting was boring; 

the asker thinking it was quite so. 
He went on to say there was too much time to think –
 which is, I think, why I like it so much. 
I like the time it gives me, 
...though I couldn’t tell you what I thought about today, 
other than lines and the order of things.

I thought about Caroline
I thought about lemons
calibrachoa, million bells
on the planting table

at Bill Martin's Nurseryland

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dear Garden Diary,

With three times the garden, I'm trying to carefully plan some perennial edibles - like asparagus, some herbs, - and pre-plan some rotating crops to make the most out of our small space. This year I also want to take advantage of time, with early crops and late ones, so we don't miss out on so much while we're away.

I'm going a little crazy. So many options, so many ways to do this..., and in our over zealous way we have already bought more seeds than we could ever plant & tend. I'll have to share some seeds once I have this year's "plan" in mind.

I have never followed "the plan"...

Working in a greenhouse never helps either, without fail I come home with something, every day.. R already understands this is not an income, more a loss really. Luckily he's not bothered by it. Also, with his "give me plans and I'll build it" ability, we will have a succulent wall by summer's end.

Most of the time spent with my new iPad has been setting up apps for writing and gardening, greenhouses, and note taking. I've already set my iEye on more apps I can't yet afford (the expensive ones are always so clever, damn).
I don't think the iPad is going to take the place of my doodle pad and pencil in the garden, but I don't think it'll be far from reach.

Gah, remember all those days I lugged garden books and notebooks in my backpack, on my bike, to the greenhouse, the university, everywhere. Insane. Books are great home companions, always will be best - but for travel I'm digging this new technology.


First real rain of the year today, spring-like rain, steady,
cleaning the streets, hopefully the sidewalks.
Too bad it's all running off because the City didn't take advantage of the nice weather and get cleaning.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

garden cycle

the front garden
my sweet ride
20 March 2012

fowl-less waterfront habitat

Prince Arthur's Landing
15 March 2012
Considered in the waterfront's rejuvenation was a well considered planting plan, deterring geese naturally: smart and pretty. #TBay

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning swooped into the front garden late Monday afternoon while R was at a meeting. It brought cold beer and a rake, and took about half and hour to make a disaster of it all, and another hour to clean it (ish) before R returned and we went on with our never ending list of things to do.

I feel a huge relief for doing it, but also slight unable to move comfortably - in a good way, bad but good - not sick bad in any way, which if fine by me. My body just wasn't prepared for the sudden session of garden yoga. I cleaned back to the mass of ferns, and broke them down as mulch - that seems to have kept the ferns going thus far, so we shall just continue. Everybody else seems to be returning with enthusiasm.

Lady's Mantle
from Heather's garden
Pulmonaria, Lungwort & Heuchera 'Lime Marmalade
Columbine, 'Songbird Goldfinch'
I planted peas on the weekend: mammoth sugar heirloom, two rows of early snap, one sugar pod, and one sugar daddy. Short rows, but enough to enjoy an early harvest, then move on with the space. They're planted in our micro-climate nook, which has been ready for seeds for weeks. I'm brave enough, are you?
Peas like cool soil, cold even - and can tolerate light frost and snow. Pansies too, and radishes, lettuce too.
We have peas and lettuce coming, radishes soon, just had to find the seeds...

I can not wait to start digging in the new bed.., just a matter of time.

I've decided that the greenhouse is going to thoroughly consume me this year with dirty green wonderfulness, and I'm just going to let it have its way with me. I'm going to try to photo document as much as I can without being a pain, and getting the job done, and not killing my iPhone ...what a blessed thing the iPhone is.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

spring mornings with Claire

Claire enjoys spring mornings
and the Sleeping Giant at sunsrise

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

seeds 2012

Dear Garden Diary,

I've been Mrs. M for nearly two weeks, and in one week I'll be back standing under the open roof of a greenhouse. These are some pretty good weeks.

With my mother feeling fairly well, a little relief has set in - a chance to catch my breath before the next spin, I feel a positive energy these days that I haven't had for a while. The cabin fever has been unbearable.
We took Claire for a walk through the waterfront on the first evening of day light savings; refreshing and muddy, but it got me even more excited about the coming months. Last year I was still in too much pain to enjoy any of this - I've missed it.

So, with visions of plant tags dancing in my head, I can't help but start to think about what our backyard will bring this year. Claire and I enjoyed Sunday morning on the back balcony, nearly hot with spring sun.

Our little micro climate section of our kitchen garden is already clear of snow with green parsley poking through, next to lavender and rosemary - both of which seem to have sprung back. Amazing. John Davis is embarrassingly out of control and I'm so glad. I need to tidy him up a little before photos, but I can say that he's got more healthy cane than I've ever seen. grin

Sweet Woodruff and the Hardy Geraniums are appearing along the west fence. I can see it own't be long for the rest. Though the area gets mostly afternoon shade because of the Tamarack and the fence, it does get nice warm morning sun, and protected protected from most wind it has it's own climate.

Gromit Wensleydale observed the kitchen garden this morning and has approved the planting of peas and radishes. Maybe even some lettuce. He is ready to snack. (dogs snacking in the garden will be frowned upon this season) I pulled out the seeds and tags from last year, added them to this year's already growing stack and already know that we are running along that yellow bring road to another garden bursting at the seams. Not that I mind too much. R's enthusiasm is great, and after he dug up that whole new bed for our vegetables we're both ready to play with possibilities.

The anticipation for greenhouse season is busting in me. Bring it on!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Daylight Savings

Daylight Savings
11 March 2012
7:37:15 PM

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tree Farming

 MNR Tree Farm
10 March 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

healing, part 1

I'm about to start planting in a greenhouse - a different greenhouse, but to me all the same. Just thinking about it gives me clarity. I love it.

It isn't about the competitive local businesses for me; I'm just there for the plants. Well, the plants and all else that goes with them - which includes the people. There are always stories with plants. I have a bit of a story, there's been a lot of plants in it (Baby Millar's Lady's Mantle, for one). I sort of wish I had written more over the last few years, I think it's a great way to purge emotion, heal.

I've been thinking a lot about a threat read on Facebook a while ago, I wanted to write a rebuttal, but just haven't had the time. ...which is probably a good thing, because I would have likely written hate-mail. Time has allowed me to think about my response(s). The thread began with an abuse on naturopathic medicine and acupuncture - calling them false and such. It was, contrary to the author's own words, a very biased and narrow view. Worse, it showed a complete lack of knowledge on the subject. Simple logic: if you're going to call something out - study both sides of the argument. Make sure you know what you're talking about, remove yourself then throw yourself right back in. (My Dad always said I should have gone to law school...) 

I have trouble with the comparison, the one or the other, all or nothing approach to anything. Broad views take it all in - take my photography, for instance. I like taking panoramas of places I'm in, then I throw on the macro zoom and look at details. There's a lot in between too. It really is impossible to see it all, know it all...but it is possible to try.

I've been sick since the summer of 2009, it's complicated, personal, and still difficult at times. I've been a lot better in recent months, in spite of a second miscarriage..., and feel even better just thinking about being in a greenhouse again. 
I could probably rant on and on about the problematic system that dictates our medical care in Canada - in Thunder Bay, Northern Ontario. Oh yeah, the doctor shortages - the fact my mother can be diagnosed with cancer and still refused a GP. I can complain about wait times, and crack doctors who ask two questions and make assumptions.

My doctor is fabulous. She cares, shows compassion, and is thorough - extremely. Without her I would have never discovered acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. She thinks the way I do, logically about biology, open to ideas, following common sense. She did everything she could for me - and in the end admitted that there are limits to Western Medicine when it comes to healing. 

I need to heal my heart, which relies heavily on healing my body. Which I think relies even more on Sarah, my acupuncturist, coming back (she's been adventuring, learning, photographing, and I can't wait to hear her stories). She is healing. It's difficult to put into words - I've referred a number of people to her recently and have tried to explain what she does (beyond the obvious), though it really just needs to be experienced.
I've seen other acupuncturists both here and in Australia (and he was one of the world's best!) and they don't compare. Sarah's knowledge far exceeds theirs, obvious by her treatment. "Sometimes I think she floats when she walks," She said that to me once about someone else, but I think it applies as much to her. (And I am lucky enough to know them both!)

I went reluctantly at first. Both my doctor and R were encouraging me to go, to try - see if it helped. I did feel quite desperate at the time, but wasn't convinced that anything would help - so why bother. In two years I had been diagnosed with everything under the sun, put on all kinds of wild pills, no one knew what it all meant, my symptoms worsened, the pain, the confusion. 
I didn't even realize how unclear my head was until it started to get better - which was one of the first symptoms that acupuncture healed. My short term memory was suddenly becoming stronger - noticeably to me, and I found that amazing. Months later - and after adding Tracey and her combinations of naturopathic supplements, I started feeling more steady on my feet, stronger when I walked - when I hadn't even realized I was unsteady.

I do remember back when the symptoms first began being at work one day - walking through the tunnels at LU from the Registrar's Office back to mine, and feeling the need to steady myself along the wall as I walked. It wasn't light-headedness as much as it was whole body lightness, tension, and pain. If that makes any sense.

But, when doctor and doctor (as in Western Medicine doctor) tell you their tests came back negative - I was forced to ignore my symptoms, convince myself as much as others that I was okay. I really wasn't, and I don't think I realised how sick I was becoming. Last summer's trip to Australia gave us a pretty strong indication that something was wrong, it was scary, and I never want to feel like that again. The pain was immeasurable. 
I sought acupuncture in Australia before anything else. Why? Because I knew it would help. I haven't been looking for a diagnosis for a long time - more than a year now...just relief. I want to feel like myself again, that's all I ask. No Western Medical doctor can help me with relief - unless I want to take pills for the rest of my life (and not just any pills, lifelong scripts for, no thanks.). That is not the answer for me.
Look what happened when I did end up in hospital in Australia: valium. And that is why I couldn't climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge and I am still pissed off about that.

If I could have packed Sarah in my suitcase I wouldn't have needed valium. I don't know how to explain it, Jay, but it works - acupuncture, that is. The acupuncturist I saw in Leura clearly diagnosed an infection - where, what, he didn't know - for that we do need blood tests provided by Western Medicine. My point being: it isn't a matter of one or the other, it's about what each can bring to the table. The potluck of care. The acupuncturist can heal and even cure my symptoms, the pain, and more, while the Western Med can be used diagnostically.

It was my Western Medicine doctor who sent me to see an acupuncturist in the first place. She herself had seen her, and been healed by the treatments. She recognised that she had reached her limit in treating me, and with my resistance to take narcotics, she suggested a solution. That, to me, is how medicine should work. Include with them chiropractors, massage therapists (Oh, Jo-Lynn you work magic!), naturopathic doctors, and of course Chinese Medicine. It's not a competition people.

My naturopathic doctor and I have a great relationship, wonderful conversations - which in themselves are healing, I think because I spend so much time thinking about how I'm feeling these days - she and R are really the only people I purge my thoughts too. Poor souls. ;) Again, like and including acupuncture, the naturopathic perspective is one that totally makes sense to me, viewing the body as a system - like a clock that needs every part in sync to keep perfect time. I found that with Western Medicine I wasted a lot of time seeing one doctor for this, another for that, no body knowing who was testing for what, waiting months for results. The naturopathic approach is simple, gently winds that clock.

What is the difference between the witch-doctoring involved with pharmaceutical companies, and the witch-doctoring of a Chinese Medicine doctor's herbs? Are they not the same thing, really..c'mon. I don't want to argue this silly point.

The difference I can tell you, from my personal experiences, is that the pills given to me from the Western Medicine doctors had strange names and no indication of what they are made up of. They made me fuzzy, woozy, probably hurt my liver, caused a lot of indigestion, and ultimately - did nothing to take away the pain and numbness. 
A week after starting herbal supplements from Tracey, I sat in front of Sarah nearly bouncing out of the chair, feeling great - awake again, alert, steady. We were both encouraged. For the first time in two years I thought, okay good - I am going to get back to me again. I think the worry over not ever feeling like myself again has overwhelmed a lot of the healing. I have had a few set backs...but, which each we (with Tracey and Sarah) try more herbs, more points, and with each I feel a little better, a little more like me. 

I'm not there yet, but I know I'm on the flip side of illness now. It took a long time for it to get me down so I don't expect to bounce right back - but lately, the bike rides, the fresh winter walks..I can feel it. I am steady again, and the pain is manageable. My emotional self will enjoy the greenhouse as much as my physical self. I have a broken heart and out of shape body. Two miscarriages in two years will do that to a woman my age.

There is nothing Western Medicine can offer a woman after a miscarriage that can, even in the slightest, compare to what acupuncture can do. Nothing. I struggled, it was horrible - in 2010, my body was so out of control, I felt out of control, estrogen surged, my blood was weak, my cycle was off. I have never in my life felt worse all over, inside, inside my heart, outside myself. It went on for months. ...until I started acupuncture. Without even expecting it, or knowing it could really help, within a couple months of acupuncture my cycle was back on track, my emotions were calmed, my blood was stronger, ..Western Medicine could offer me nothing - other than fertility drugs, surgical exploration, and anti-depressants.

I've met, and read the stories of many other women who have miscarried, we've all taken similar and different routes through healing, and trying to get pregnant again. There is no doubt that acupuncture is a widely used and highly respected treatment. Sometimes it has been a solution, sometimes it has been used in combination with Western Medicine (IVF) and been successful - either way, it has been soothing to the women who have used it, which is so important after such a physical and emotional trauma. Now, still recovering from a second miscarriage, Tracey and I have been on top of it, to get my system in order as quickly as possible, to not have to go through what I did last time, - by strengthening my blood by encouraging my liver and spleen to work a little harder, feeding them better, supplementing with herbs and vitamins in conjunction with acupuncture points...and it's working, already..and I feel in control of it. I highly doubt any fertility drug or anti-depressant could do the same.

It's about recognising each treatment for what it is, what it can offer - how different approaches to medicine and healing can work together to help an individual. Acupuncture can't heal my terminally ill mother, but it can heal her symptoms - which, to me, is what's really important. Western Medicine cures cancer with poison - acupuncture treats the symptoms of those poisons, and the cancer, and encourages the healthy systems in the body to give a hand to the parts not working properly. I don't understand how someone could confuse these two approaches.

I have that wonderful sense of nervous excitement; it's great. Excited to get things started, to get back into it, to breathe that wonderful greenhouse air. I just know that this is the next step in healing - there's just something therapeutic about greenhouse work, for both body and soul.

greenhouse scenes 
at Trevisanutto's

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

greenhouse season

It's easy to let life's hand get the better of me, to get me down, to stop taking care..but, I have plans, and no cloudy day is going to get in my way now. I'll thank what ever Flying Spaghetti Monster I have to for greenhouse season. Thank you. Hello spring-ish. I can't wait. I'm determined to absorb every healthy, beautiful benefit I can this year - to let it heal me, take away all the pains, physically, emotionally. Bring on the smells of soil and seedlings. Bring. it. on.


Tulips, day five

tulip bouquets
Nearly a week after the wedding and 
my tulips bouquets are still going strong. 
They're so beautiful, simple, elegant. 
From the Heart Florist did a fabulous job!

Monday, March 5, 2012

daffodils and dogs

There are so many fresh flowers on the main floor of our house that it smells like a florist's shop down there. Impressive for a house with three dog kennels in the kitchen. grin
It's lovely, - a little over powering - but, it's difficult to complain about daffodils when it's -30C outside.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wedding Tulips (for you, Dad)

photo by
M Richardson
white tulips for me
pink for the girls
our beautiful bouquets
From the Heart Florist
Thunder Bay, Ontario