Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Still working on the garden

I should take pictures of the garden but I'm going to wait until I'm done planting. I've planted most of the climbing plants now but I still need to plant the hen and chicks (I forgot about them before) and I may have purchased a couple more coneflower plants in shades of red today when I went to get more soil. I love purple coneflowers but I thought the red ones would add a bit more variety.

I've got one of those %&%)@! canker sores again. It's on the left side (of course), in my lower jaw (of course), where the gum meets the cheek (of course) and it's currently about 8mm in diameter. By the looks of things, there's another one forming just to the left of the center along my lower mouth. I wouldn't be surprised if the current one merged with the new one. I'm rinsing with salt water but it isn't helping much. Anbesol (or whatever it's called) does help a bit and I'm putting that stuff on before bed so I won't be woken up by the pain. Because oh my goodness it hurts. Maybe it's time to start brushing with Biotene toothpaste, which is supposed to help with them.

Ian's out tonight and I'm watching this documentary on UFOs and aliens (and the possibility of a coverup). All these people - some of them military - are talking about crafts they've seen and aliens they've seen. The narrator says that people don't want to experience a UFO or alien encounter but I think that would be awesome. Of course there's life out there somewhere although I don't know if (or why) they would be here on our planet. Anyways, if aliens really existed and visited, I'd love to meet them.

Until that day happens, I've got a garden to work on. And a canker sore to heal somehow.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

More about the garden

It turns out that taking a day off of planting wasn't such a bad thing. I rested up and was able to get quite a lot planted yesterday: all of the perennials I'd bought (including asters, which I forgot to mention) as well as the begonias, zinnias, and petunias.

I think I've discovered why we had a bit of a "dead zone" on that hill where I planted all of these plants. When we had the landscaping done, either they didn't add new soil or else it's all just washed away and what's left is mulch on top of clay. And rocks. There's no soil to speak of and so no nutrients - no wonder all the plants were dying in that area!

When I planted these new plants, I added what I thought was lots of soil there so that the plants have a chance. Hopefully I've given them enough; I used some 4-in-1 organic soil so there should be something for them. I'm not totally opposed to the use of fertilizers but I'm concerned about their environmental impact and so I'd like to avoid them if at all possible.

This afternoon we got some of the groundcover plants in the ground and I got the salvia planted as well. I think I've just got vines and things that climb or trail left to plant and I hope to get them done in the next two days.

I also cut my lupine flowers down today as they were starting to go to seed and I have so many now (and seeds) that I don't need more. Say what you will about this winter but it made my lupines thrive and it killed off all of my lupine aphids so they're positively thriving.

Speaking of this past winter, it was very difficult for a number of trees and shrubs in our area. Our cherry tree's central leader has started to die off a bit and at least one of our shrubs barely survived. The buds on our weeping willow started to crack open but then stopped and now all of the branches are breaking off. The root stock is doing just fine; it's trying really hard to send growth out. We think that there's growth in the grafted area so the tree might yet be saved but we don't know. One of our rosebushes that had been doing incredibly well last year had to be cut back almost right to the ground.

All through the neighbourhood, trees and shrubs are dead or dying. I don't know if it was the cold or the ice or the snow or what but it really affected things around here. For all I know, this kind of killing winter is actually good for the trees and shrubs because once the dead stuff is cleared out, they all seem to be thriving.

I'm looking forward to getting everything planted in the garden and spending my afternoons puttering around. It turns out that I don't love the hard work so much as I love just walking around, trimming these flowers or pulling those weeds. It'll be nice to be able to be a bit lazy again.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The garden

This last week as I've been working in the garden, I've developed an appreciation and admiration for my sister who works in a commercial bakery. I spend a couple of hours on successive days working in the garden and I'm achy and stiff and sore and ready to stop, whereas my sister works on her feet lifting and moving and weighing things all day every day and has done for years. I'm in awe of her ability to keep doing this work because I'm quite wiped out.

I got the front garden done over the weekend; I planted some verbana, petunias, begonias, and a New Guinea impatiens (the regular impatiens is not available here because it just keeps dying). The flowers are all very similar shades of pink. Although there were other colours I liked, I chose this pink because it's most visible from far away. Ian thinks it's too much pink that's too similar but the flowers and foliage are all different and there's hostas in there to add colour, too. I think it's going to be lovely when everything fills in.

I spent yesterday working in the vegetable patch digging out some grass that had encroached on the patch, clearing out strawberries that had encroached on the patch and the path, clearing out raspberry runners as I see them, adding new soil to the patch, transplanting peppers, and planting some seeds. And pulling veronica weeds from the lawn; they're starting to flower and go to seed and there's quite enough of it in the lawn, thank you.

I still have quite a lot of work ahead of me. I went into a garden centre the other day just to look around and came out with rather a lot of perennials. We have an area at the back of the property that has been taken over by weeds and we want to put non-grass groundcover there so I bought 60 plants for there: 24 thyme, 12 irish and 12 spanish moss, and 12 of something else. Ian is going to help plant those this weekend.

Today I'd planned to plant the other perennials I bought: some more coneflowers to balance out the black-eyed susans, some stonecrop sedum, and a beardtongue (penstemon). Oh, and some hen-and-chicks sedum, which might go in the front, maybe, or in some rocks by the path by the waterfall in the back. I also need to plant the annuals that Ian's mom gave me, which include some red petunias, some zinnias, different kinds of asarina, and some salvia, as well as some pink begonias left over from the front.

However, I decided that I was physically exhausted and needed to rest more than I needed to plant so I did nothing at all. I keep discovering muscles that hurt - I understand why my back might hurt but how does my stomach get sore? And where did those muscles on my arms come from? I do feel better after getting some more sleep and soaking in a couple of hot baths but I'm nowhere near back to my regular self. The plants will be fine for a few more days before I get them into the ground, I think (hope). If I was my sister my garden would be done by now.

Monday, June 09, 2014

My mom's birthday

It would have been my mom's 66th birthday today and I still find myself missing her terribly. Our lilacs are blooming; they were her favourite flower and they remind me so much of her.

As the years pass I wonder when she would have died had she not killed herself. When would I have had to mourn her anyway, by now? Her mom (my grandmother, or Baba, as we called her) lived until she was 84, but she didn't have COPD like my mom did. And if she had mental illnesses, they weren't like my mom's - Baba had lived on her own for years before she was married and she had lived in her house for years before she moved into the home and later died. I don't think my mom loved being on her own in the same way I think Baba did; I think my mom was most comfortable with my dad and was very lonely. I imagine that she must have thought of all these years stretching out ahead of her and being unable to face them alone and lonely.

So would I be mourning and missing her now this year? If she hadn't killed herself when she did, I expect she'd have done it by now unless things changed dramatically for her. I don't think she'd have stayed alive until she died of natural causes so it's possible that I'd be mourning her now. There's something so sad about that, and also something oddly comforting. It's like time has caught up to me now, if that makes sense.

Although I still love my mom and I miss her, she lives on in my memories and my heart. Happy birthday, mom.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Our trip to the UK

We just got back on Wednesday from our three-week trip to the UK. We made the trip because my youngest sister got (re)married and we wanted to be there to see it. I'm very happy that we went because I really wanted to be a part of the day with my sister.  Also, my sister's new husband has a huge family and they were all there for the wedding (they live in the UK so it was easier for them to get there); our family is really small in comparison and not everyone could make it so we, along with my sister's daughter, represented our entire family.

I cried through the whole wedding. I usually cry at weddings - that's just who I am - but this time I was crying in part because our parents weren't there. I really felt the loss of both my parents that day and even now as I write this, tears are coming to my eyes. I guess it isn't surprising that I'd miss my parents so much during a big life event but it took me by surprise.

The wedding was beautiful. My sister and her groom were radiant in their wedding finery and the ceremony was very touching. It was held at the registry office and they had the most beautiful vows! The reception was at a local pub which was fun because it was relaxed and casual. 

It's hard to summarize a three-week trip to another place, especially since we spent time in so many places, but I'll try. We spent our first few days in London near Westminster Bridge and the London Eye. We didn't ride the Eye but I did see Westminster Abbey (it's old and full of the dead), the British Museum (Vikings!!! the actual Rosetta Stone!!!), the V&A museum (beautiful jewellery and clothes and ironwork), the Tower of London (Crown Jewels and old buildings), and parts of central London (full of more tourists than Londoners).

From there we went to Manchester to spend a few days there for the wedding. It reminded me very much of Edmonton for some reason. We didn't do as much touristy stuff there because we spent a lot of time with my sister, her daughter (and I wouldn't have it any other way), and her new husband. I hadn't met my sister's husband before this trip so it was good to spend time with him. He's a very nice guy (with musical talent!) and it's clear that he and my sister love each other very much and are happy together. We spent some time shopping in the central part of the city and around where my sister lives and spending time at her flat. We did see the Manchester Cathedral, which was neat. On one of the days we went to Hope in Peak's Park where we tramped through sheep fields to a couple of caverns (Treak and Speedwell).

Then we were on our way to Scotland: a night in Glasgow and then up to Fort William, where we took the Jacobite train (aka the Harry Potter train) to Mallaig. This was a steam train (they provided the trains used in the Harry Potter movies) and it went over a famous viaduct. At Mallaig we saw seagulls nesting! 

After the steam train we headed down to Edinburgh. I took a day off there, which I shouldn't have done, because it meant that we couldn't go back to Glasgow. We did see Edinburgh castle (very old, lovely crown jewels - called Honours, and lots of people), the outside of the Scott Monument (I didn't want to climb the 286 steps to the top), and we hiked up Arthur's seat

We spent some time in nearby North Berwick at the Scottish Seabird Centre. That was an amazing place! They have cameras set up on the nearby nesting islands so that visitors can look around and see the birds. We also took a boat out near the islands to see the birds up-close. It smelled really bad but it was so amazing to see these nesting birds (mostly gannets but also a variety of gulls as well as puffins!!!!) cover these islands. On our last day there we went over to Falkirk to see the Falkirk Wheel, which is a super-cool replacement for a series of canal locks.

We spent our last night back in London and did absolutely nothing of note because we were tired and it was raining. And then we came home.

A word about our flights: they were both delayed. On the way out, we were delayed about an hour because one of the doors wasn't showing that it was closed. Just after we took off there was a medical emergency on board and we diverted to Halifax so that the person could get proper medical treatment. We ended up landing about an hour and a half late which worked out well because we got into our hotel room right away.

On the way home, the flight was also late. At some point the plane type was changed from a 63-row 777 to a 40-something-row 777 but no one knew that until they got to the gate... and the intercom system wasn't working. So the passengers would get in line to board but about 20% of them discovered that their seat assignments weren't valid, so they had to go and stand in another line to get reassigned and then they had to stand in line to board again. It was a major mess that could have been avoided. We flew Air Canada both ways and I can't help but think that they'd have been able to handle this situation so much better.

We traveled throughout the UK on the train, which gave us a chance to see much of the countryside. It was beautiful. I had no idea that rhododendrons grow wild in the UK, but they do, and they were blooming while we were there. Bluebells were also blooming, as were gorse (related to broom plants), and ferns were unfurling. It was really beautiful countryside. 

This trip, like the one we took to Atlantic Canada, could only be like a tasting menu; we had to pick and choose what we saw. We couldn't possibly have seen everything because there's thousands of years of history there and it would take years to see it all. I guess we did see a lot but I wanted to see more. In my head I could do more but it turns out that I can't do that much. It seems that I have a fairly strict two-hour limit on activities that involve being on my feet and that I need at least two (and preferably four) hours of recovery time after that. This meant that I just couldn't do as much as I wanted to; fortunately, Ian did end up seeing a few things without me so he wasn't completely held back by me. 

We had a wonderful time on our trip but we were very happy to come home. I missed Gozer very much (she was with Ian's parents while we were gone and was happy there after an initial settling-in period) and I get tired of being away from home. I'm thrilled we could go and spend the time there and that we were able see my sister get married. I'm very happy for her and my new brother-in-law.