Friday, May 20, 2016

runaway raspberries

It's as though they take a deep breath and then go underground as far as they can before coming up for air ...
"Sick.  Only made it half way through the trampoline dungeon of darkness."
"Close... made it under the slide."
"Everyone dive!"  And a clump emerges on the other side of the attempted barricade.  In the sandbox.

Thing is that I like raspberries so much that I don't discourage this behavior.  I intentionally planted them in a place where I thought they might be self contained... but no.  After a few years of acclimatization, they know where the light is.  And bolt for it.

In the battle of mint vs. raspberries, in this "fend for yourself" patch of the garden, raspberries emerge victorious.  There is not an emerging leaf of mint anywhere.  I decided not to let the creeping bellflower engage with raspberries.  Since bellflower stalks had managed to grow THROUGH the logs that attempted to stop the spread of whatever was originally planted in this border, I decided I was not going to make this a level playing field.  Raspberry trumps bellflower.  And now possibly sand box.
Bad idea Darlene.
Maybe I'll just give them a little bit of sandbox.  And see what happens.

Worth it! (last year's crop)

Monday, May 9, 2016

a season of books

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr  
I am fascinated by stories of children in wartime.  

Stony Ground: The making of a Canadian Garden, by Douglas Chambers  

... the making of one Ontario garden.  
Purchased at a Thrift Store somewhere along the road from Bethany to the West Coast on a Bethany Players tour, by invitation of Lisa Braun (her fun encouragement notes to people on tours included instructions like this:  "Buy a used book at a thrift store along the way.").

Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction, by Margaret Guenther
Read this with an online book club, facilitated by singer and songwriter and newly hired Director of Education at Renovaré, Carolyn Arends.  Loved that the author has the same last name as my mom.

The Harry Lehotsky Story, by Paul H. Gobe
The life story of a man who moved his family into the inner city neighborhood where my daughter and her husband lived.  

Ruth, and I & II Samuel
Epic sagas of famine, family, struggles for power, tracing God at work amidst the tides of human history.  Finding David ... shepherd and poet, warrior, and musician, with fierce loves and loyalties.  My perspective of King Saul is shaped significantly by a paper of one of my students.    

The Garden of Eden, by Sharon Butala
Ethiopia, and farming in southern Saskatchewan, and women surviving

When Books went to War: The Stories that Helped us win World War II, by Molly Guptill Manning
A fascinating documentation of the impact of books - burned by the Germans in the early years of WWII, and distributed to the soldiers on the front by the Americans.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
Helpful for understanding some of the wonderful people in my world

Come Back, by Rudy Wiebe
I had to put it down after a couple of chapters.  I will go back, but it is heart wrenching.

Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton ... and The Forgotten Garden, and Distant Hours ...
I enjoy the surprise plots of her historical fiction.

The 100 Year Old Man who Jumped out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson
So unpredictably entertaining ... a man wandering through the historical landscape of our world without an intentional bone in his body. 

The Girl who saved the King of Sweden, also by Jonas Jonasson
Laugh out loudly ridiculous and you just keep reading because it is impossible to know what will happen next.

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein
The opposite of the 100 year old man in it's absolute straining intentionality... with a twist.

The Back of the Turtle, by Thomas King
A classically Kingishly unsettling read.

Louis L'Amour: Hondo, Sitka, Crossfire Trail.  And quite a few more.

Servants of the Map, by Andrea Barrett
Opening up new worlds of mountaineering and exploration and map making with short stories that weave through the Himalayas and characters' lives.

The Book of Hebrews
Clouds of witnesses, and encouragement to keep meeting together as the church, and reminding us of the work of Christ, and knowing that we live forward, anticipating promises fulfilled in the lives of our children and children's children.  Stay with the race set before me.

The Home Children, by Phyllis Harrison
Ways that our attempts to help children in need can go drastically wrong. A book telling the stories of many British children who were sent to Canada in the 18-1900's.

The Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline. Another thread of the same story

Shake Hands with the Devil, by Roméo Dallaire
Such a very awful and tragic account of something that is almost impossible to consider. 

The Definitive Wit of Winston Churchill, by Richard M. Langworth
A fun look at the words and wit of this British leader. Great quotes.

God with Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, Edited by Pennoyer
Prayers, and meditations, paintings and thoughts about this season of the year.  Awaiting Immanuel.  I come back to it every Advent.
AND just now discovered a new follow-up:  God for Us:  Rediscovering the meaning of Lent and Easter compiled by the same editor with many of the same authors.  I think that this will join my friends.

Glimpses of Grace, by Madeline L'Engle
A book with bits and pieces of L'Engle's writings scattered across each day of the year.  I've kept this handy for a few years.

The Shoes of the Fisherman, by Morris West
A compelling novel providing a glimpse into the chambers of religious power in the Catholic Church. Hard to say why I enjoyed this as much as I did. Humanizes the office of the Pope.  

Learning to Walk in the Dark, by Barbara Brown Taylor
One of the "perpetually being read" books ... not finished but keeps it's place on my pile of books currently being read which I carry around from bedroom to living room, to the fireplace and kitchen.  It has been important to learn this skill, of learning to walk in the dark.  
Also Exclusion and Embrace, by Volf.
Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and William H Willimon
slow read - it attempts to undo world views and deep ways of thinking. These things do not easily undo. 

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Childs
A Christmas gift from my son after we enjoyed the movie "Julia and Julia".  I started reading this again after the bombings in France.  This is also a slow read - an attempt at a change in your worldview.  For that is what changes in ways of cooking require. 

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
Oh I loved this... title and all.  I first borrowed it from the library only because I loved the title, and loved the technique of telling a story with letters between various characters.  Also touches on children in the war.  After reading it, found it at Sam's place in Winnipeg (hello Andy and Joanna!) and brought it home.

Bone & Bread, by Saleema Nawaz.
A 2016 selection for Canada Reads.  I am tempted to write out the final paragraph for you.  It wouldn't be a spoiler, would it? It is such a beautiful last paragraph.

Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline

Mudhouse Sabbath, by Lauren Winner
A book with a complicated history in my life.  Deeply valuable lessons learned.

259320Mister Good Morning:  stories of flesh, blood, and holy spirit, by Murray Pura
I only lend this one out to people whom I know will love it, and it needs to come back to me.  
Short stories, parables ... glimpses into lives, and wrestling with God, and gardens, and wealth, and a whole lot more.  

Thursday, May 5, 2016

spring weeds and seeds ... and a successful astilbe

I have fought against quack grass in almost every garden.  I recognize the hearty thick blades of grass growing obstinately through cracks in the sidewalk, slipping around iris bulbs to disguise their roots, sliding under fences, squeezing between slabs of concrete, running roots back and forth along a reliable black barrier to eventually find a way under and emerge triumphantly on the flower garden side of the no longer reliable barrier.

I discovered too late the wiles of the creeping bellflower.  By late summer, or early fall when we moved to Saskatoon, I'd see an occasional beautiful stalk of a blue bellflower'ish thing growing.  I didn't pay it much attention till I had dug up most of the day lilies, and yellow iris, and there was this plant that kept coming up.  By the time I started digging around to discover the root system of this thing, I discovered that repeated picking of the stalk just strengthed the thick tap roots a few inches down.  It would bide its time, and just send out innocent looking heart-shaped leaves, and thread-like roots and keep growing.  You'd only THINK you were successful in pulling it out as the stem stretches a bit and then breaks off at the surface. and the tap root just grins and keeps growing.  Sends out innocent looking leaves regularly knowing that eventually one clump will get away on you and grow into a give away bell flower stalk.  And if you try to uproot the tap, you will always have small threads ready to start up again.  Anytime.  Anywhere.    I tried roundup but it came back just as happy as before.  Now it has crept into all sorts of beds, as I constantly move soil around.  Apparently smothering it with newspaper may work.  I'm trying it on one patch.  I'll let you know how that works.

So, defining a weed: a plant that makes itself at home in a place where you'd prefer it did not.
Like an African daisy.  It began as one plant in my wildflower garden -  the year before it had been a flower in my neighbor's front yard.  ok.  that's fine.  I enjoy plants that need little encouragement to grow.  But it seeded out into the lawn, and crossed over into another bed and began to compete with the lilies and  iris.  and lawn.  Who does that?  Pulling them out relentlessly this year.

Bleeding hearts are naturalizing in my yard.  NOT a weed.  They are very well behaved, and grow in places where nothing else is happy, competing with some plants that look like forget me nots in bloom but turn into little burrs that ride on socks and pants all around the yard.  sneaky things.  but I digress.  Bleeding hearts.  They seed out in moderation, easy to uproot if I don't like the home they have chosen.  I planted one pink one in our first year, and a friend gave me another one a year or so later.  In the meantime, some white ones found their way into the yard, and are multiplying nicely.

What else is growing spontaneously ... I pulled out a rogue clematis this spring.  Well, not really rogue but old and woody and roots infested with that creeping bellflower.  A friend gave it to me years ago and told me that it would seed out all over the place.  In all its years in my front yard it never did. Till this year.  I dug it out, and now I'm finding babies everywhere.  Not sure what I will do with them.

Columbines are some of my favorite spring flowers, and growing them seems a bit like herding kittens.  They don't really pay attention to where you plant them.  They just meander over to a place they like and hang out there for a season or two.  I planted a pink and white one, and it lasted a year or two before disappearing.  Then a purple one showed up under the spruce tree.  And had a family.  a group of them show up most years.  One sturdy plant decided to grow in the north shade of the house under my white swinging bench.  It gets stepped on and side swept and generally treated badly by accident but it stubbornly decided that this was home. Kind of like my cat on my lap when I'm trying to work on the computer.  There was a group of purple and white ones growing among the bleeding hearts for a couple of years too, but they seem to have permanently disappeared.  or migrated.

And after years of trying to satisfy the persnickety astilbe, it seems to have found a place where it is happy.  It came with a friend who found dappled sunlight in my yard, and told me that it might like it there.  Well.  It has emerged on time and healthy... as opposed to the reluctant and late and passively resistant behavior of other astilbes I've tried to welcome.  I have purchased and borrowed, planted and transplanted ... and killed many astilbes.  (What is the plural of astilbe?  Astilbi?  Astilibus?)  You know that you taste success when you are going for two.
Apparently it likes dappled sunlight.  I know.  

Ladybugs everywhere