Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Asparagus as Theatre

One of my favourite poets is T.S. Eliot and one of my favourite books is Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. I love, love, love everyone one of the poems in the book and yes, I am a cat person!!

Ironically, this weekend one of those magical poems came to mind. It was Gus - The Theatre Cat. Why? Well, I don't always have reasons for why things just pop into my head out of the blue, however, if I really think about it, there was probably a trigger. In fact, the trigger this weekend was an article in the paper about asparagus - not the cat, the plant.

Ho hum - boring old asparagus. Now, it could be less boring, if you came from Europe and were used to white asparagus and then decided to get into an argument about the attributes of white asparagus over green. This might, however, turn into a kind of class warfare, where the upper classes always ate the purer, more refined foods - white asparagus, for example, while the servants ate the stodge.

No, the article wasn't putting anyone down. It was actually praising researchers at Guelph University who, in 2000, developed a kind of super asparagus. I had visions of an aspragus spear in a crusader's cape, slaying the equivalent of vegetable dragons - OK it was a slow day!!

Really, only a gardener can get excited about a plant that grows at twice the speed of its generic equivalent, lives twice as long - about fifteen years and has a significantly higher nutrient value. Throw into the mix the fact that it is frost hardy, can grow in really cold weather, poorer soil and needs very little in the way of pesticides.

I think that it's time to get an asparagus pot!! For those of you who didn't find this very theatrical - did I mention that it grows so fast, that you can almost see it move - here's the poem!!


Gus - The Theatre Cat
by T. S. Eliot

Gus is the Cat at the Theatre Door.
His name, as I ought to have told you before,
Is really Asparagus. That's such a fuss
To pronounce, that we usually call him just Gus.
His coat's very shabby, he's thin as a rake,
And he suffers from palsy that makes his paw shake.
Yet he was, in his youth, quite the smartest of Cats--
But no longer a terror to mice and to rats.
For he isn't the Cat that he was in his prime;
Though his name was quite famous, he says, in its time.
And whenever he joins his friends at their club
(Which takes place at the back of the neighbouring pub)
He loves to regale them, if someone else pays,
With anecdotes drawn from his palmiest days.
For he once was a Star of the highest degree--
He has acted with Irving, he's acted with Tree.
And he likes to relate his success on the Halls,
Where the Gallery once gave him seven cat-calls.
But his grandest creation, as he loves to tell,
Was Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell.

"I have played," so he says, "every possible part,
And I used to know seventy speeches by heart.
I'd extemporize back-chat, I knew how to gag,
And I knew how to let the cat out of the bag.
I knew how to act with my back and my tail;
With an hour of rehearsal, I never could fail.
I'd a voice that would soften the hardest of hearts,
Whether I took the lead, or in character parts.
I have sat by the bedside of poor Little Nell;
When the Curfew was rung, then I swung on the bell.
In the Pantomime season I never fell flat,
And I once understudied Dick Whittington's Cat.
But my grandest creation, as history will tell,
Was Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell."

Then, if someone will give him a toothful of gin,
He will tell how he once played a part in East Lynne.
At a Shakespeare performance he once walked on pat,
When some actor suggested the need for a cat.
He once played a Tiger--could do it again--
Which an Indian Colonel purused down a drain.
And he thinks that he still can, much better than most,
Produce blood-curdling noises to bring on the Ghost.
And he once crossed the stage on a telegraph wire,
To rescue a child when a house was on fire.
And he says: "Now then kittens, they do not get trained
As we did in the days when Victoria reigned.
They never get drilled in a regular troupe,
And they think they are smart, just to jump through a hoop."
And he'll say, as he scratches himself with his claws,
"Well, the Theatre's certainly not what it was.
These modern productions are all very well,
But there's nothing to equal, from what I hear tell,
That moment of mystery
When I made history
As Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell."

How he ever got the name Asparagus, I'll never know. But clearly he was a star and so is Guelph Millennial (crazy name too) that new breed of asparagus, which is producing a little theatre in the garden. Move over Sweet 100s, you've got competition!!

Have an aspiring day!!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Garden Porn...

I just received, with my papers - we still subscribe to both Toronto newspapers -  the Lee Valley flier. Now, most fliers come in the front door and go out the back!! I know I don't need more clothes, or shoes, or furniture etc..etc.. However, I "brake" for gadgets. I don't actually buy them, but I salivate over them, even if they aren't for the kitchen.

Speaking of kitchens, Lee Valley - garden and maybe kitchen supplier to the world - had a universal blade sharpener listed. I struggled hard to find a need for it, after all it was only $23.50. Now all the knives in my kitchen are dull - maybe even duller than the cooks :). However, I know that if you don't sharpen a knife at the right angle, you actually do more harm then good. My life is a testament to the fact that, I could do more harm then good in most departments, so I skipped the sharpener.



I was intrigued, though, by the potato pot that lets you grow potatoes in a small area, then lift them, temporarily, out of the soil to see if they are "ready." The pot was only $17.90. Yes, I know, I could buy several pounds of small potatoes for the price of one pot. However, it's not about the savings. It's about the entertainment, the drama, the fun! There I go, I've almost talked myself into one!!

I also liked the glass and surface cleaner kit that's ideal for car windows and their dusty dashboards. I have, though, given up on cleaning my 19-year-old Honda Civic. It's too bad, because the tool came with 3 removable and washable cleaning pads and an extra "foot" for a quick change of pace (I couldn't resist) - no that should be a quick change of the bottom of the tool for some extra cleaning, maybe. Did I mention that when I was driving my son to work one day, he pulled down the sun visor and decided that he really ought to go home and change - he was covered in dust. For a mere $26.50, I could, at least, have a clean conscience.



I couldn't even find a use for four very colourful Bottle-Top Waterers. These are tops that you screw onto a water bottle to give you either 1. a fine spray, 2. a drencher, 3. a weeder tip - whatever that entails! At a price of $7.50 for all four, I should just buy them for their brilliant colours.

The pictures - my garden porn.

Have a colourful day!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Sheltered Life....

A friend posted this to my wall on FB and I thought that it was fun. I realized, however, that I had too many "no"s - so I guess I have to get out and do a little more!! Here it is, with comments

✍ Tattoos - 0
Your (my) skin is an organ and when given the choice, years ago of "clean mind or clean body - take your pick." I opted for a clean body - so no inking inside or out!!

😷 Surgeries -2
Such is the stuff of life. For a clean body, some dirty Cancer had to be taken out 16 years ago.

🏥Broken Bones - 0
Clearly, I haven't played hard enough!!

🔫 Shot a gun - no
I'm so opposed to guns, I can't even look at them, let alone shoot one. I'd rather shoot off my mouth - oops!!

😕 Quit a job - yes
But I had taken a three year leave of absence from it - teaching - before I decided to quit. I've never regretted it - except for the pension!!

✈️ Flown on a plane - yes
At first I thought this read "Flown a plane" so I said no. I'm not sure that I know anyone who hasn't flown on a plane.

🚙💨 Driven 100mph - yes
Yes, when I was young, careless and always in a hurry. Now I keep it about 120 KPH. I get stopped at 130.

🚁 Rode in a helicopter - no
I could actually pay for one of those rides over niagara. Then again I have never ridden in an air balloon either. I have a fear of heights. That did not stop me walking the Caminito Del Rey.



⛑ Gone zip lining - no
Again the heights, but I may, at one point :)

🍼 Watched someone give birth - no
No, I've never had the opportunity and then I view this as a private event.

😯 Watched someone dying - yes
My mother, on the dance floor. She went out in style - in a sparkly dress and silver shoes, dancing the Tango. It was very sad, but amazing!!

🏈 Been to an NFL game - No
Not a sport I enjoy, but I've been to hockey games - another sport I don't enjoy, and countless baseball games, many in iconic stadiums - obviously a game I enjoy!!

🍁 Been to Canada - yep, live here
I not only live here, I was born here. However, I am always homesick for places I have never been.

🚑 Ridden in an ambulance - no
...and I hope I never have to, unless it's to save a life!!

🏦 Visited Washington D.C - yes
Next to the Victoria and Albert, the Smithsonian is my second home!!

🌞 Visited Florida - yes
I have gone most often in summer. I hate crowds.

🗻 Visited Colorado - not sure
I have changed planes a few times in Denver, does that count?

🎉 Visited Mexico - no
I have avoided Mexico - too violent.

🎲 Visited Vegas - no
I'm not a gambler. I would also hate the Disneyesque nature of the place. Give me a cute European village and I'm happy :)



🍔 Eaten alone at a restaurant - Yes
Why not. I meet people that way.

🎤 Sang karaoke - No
I sing off key, so I avoid performing, unless I'm alone in my car and then I get weird looks at stop lights!!

🎿 Been downhill skiing- yes
I took it up again about 15 years ago. It's the only "thing" that gets me through winter!!

🎼 Ability to read music - yes
I am currently looking for a small piano or keyboard. I don't play well, but I can read music.

🚵 Rode a motorcycle - no
I might have liked to when I was younger. I ride a bike, though, all the time!!



🏇 Rode a horse -yes
I'm not a large animal person. The idea is romantic, but horses need a lot of care. My father had several and I have a sister who rides!!

🏥 Stayed in a hospital - Yes
Sadly, yes. For myself and members of my family. We (Canadians) have the best health care in the world and it's all FREE!!

💉 Donated blood - no
I'm very queasy.

🏕 Slept outside - Yes
I was a girl guide. What's not to love about camping. I've slept on beaches in Greece, in a car in Portugal and Yugoslavia, on the floor in Cornwall. I have never slept in the snow!!

🚗 Driven a stick shift - yes. 
I learned to drive on a stick shift. My father thought that automatics were for the weak. It's still my favourite!!

🚓 Rode in a Police Car - no
Never and if I have to, I hope it's only to save a life.

😇 Grandkids - no
I started late and adopted my youngest at 49. Now my father is 102, so there is still hope!!  P.S. My younger sister is a great grandmother.

🚤 Driven a Boat - yes
I'm not very fond of motorboats. I would kayak to the edges of the world, though!!

🐌 Eaten Escargot - yes
..and winkles, and eel, and lots of sardines - fresh or canned. I am an adventurous eater, when I'm in the mood, although, I don't eat liver!!



👽 Seen a UFO - maybe :)
I have seen weird things in the sky, that are not stars, planets or planes. And if they were supermen, they didn't come to the rescue!!

🛳 Been on a cruise - no
....and I never plan to either. There is something about crowds and being marshalled about here and there that I dislike. There is also something very artificial about hanging out in a floating hotel and being dropped at a port for a few hours, every few days. I much prefer overland travel. One of my regrets in life is never to have taken the London bus from Earlscourt to Katmandu!!

⛽️ Run out of gas - yes
....Well almost. I have a guardian angel and I have coasted into a few gas stations, when I was younger!!

🍣 Eat Sushi - yes
Not my favourite. I dislike the taste of seaweed. As kids we had to take cod liver oil on a tablespoon in winter. I hated it!!

👻 Seen a Ghost- maybe
I'm one of those photographers who has pictures with weird, ghostlike shapes in them, that weren't there when I took the picture. I see people on the street that I swear are people from my past, who have died. The other day I saw a video on FB of a woman dancing and it could have been my mother.

🎅🏻Still believe in Santa Claus- Yes
I believe in magic. I believe that wishes and dreams come true!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

On the sex life of the Holly

Most gardeners know that Ilex or holly needs a partner - another holly tree or bush, to have them both produce those gorgeous red berries so popular in winter, when everything else is bland and grey.

Several years ago, a horrific ice storm took one of our holly bushes, not to mention many limbs from our maple tree and a few other arboreal casualties. OK, the maple is self pollinating, and I made sure that the fruit trees, I planted, were as well. However, the hollies weren't.  I wasn't sure which holly had died. Yes, it was the one on the right, but was that the male or the female or as they are known at the garden centre - the prince or the princess.



Every spring when a few blossom would appear on a couple of twigs, I promised myself that I would find time to take a cutting to the garden centre and find out if my bush was either male or female. I needed to know whether to buy a prince or a princess to replace the one lost. Time, of course, was never found and the mystery of the sexual identity of my holly bush was never solved, even though, I was sure it was female, because of the blossoms.

This year to everyone's surprise, we have red berries on the mystery bush!! Eureka, a transgendered holly or at least, a bi-sexual one.

I never cease to marvel at the inventiveness of nature. It makes its own rules and is never swayed by mores imposed upon it. It changes, as needed, to accommodate the situation and it gives us pleasure in the most infinitesimal ways.

Holly, by the way, is sacred to the fairies and is said to protect man from evil. It is an ancient plant with mystical powers. Well, it magically transformed itself in our garden. Please share any holly stories you may have.

The picture - a holly sprig from the sacred bush. We place a piece of holly at everyone's place setting on Christmas day. I prefer it to tinsel. The picture doesn't do it justice, but you get the idea!!

Have a jolly, holly day!!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Amo, Amas, Amat...

...I love, you love, he/she loves....Well, it is that time of year, when everything else fades in the magic of lights, music, family, friends and good cheer.

I couldn't resist posting, on another knitters thread, this link to a site that lists the conjugation of the latin verb, amare - to love, in all its many tenses - intense. Here it is -

http://latindictionary.wikidot.com/verb:amare

Just in case you needed a bit more of that love or another variation, be it - conditional, subjunctive, pluperfect or yes, future perfect :)

I always marvel at the fact that some languages have very few or no tenses at all, for their verbs. They live, for the most part, in the eternal present. On the other hand the English language has one of the most complicated, dare I say twisted, network of verb structures known to man.

It must have something to do with the angst of the English. Or as Macbeth said -

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly;



Well, maybe not that quickly, when you consider all the time taken to ponder the nuances of what's to be done. Would the deed or event, be done imperfectly, never quite finishing or would it be done so completely that it would be considered pluperfect, a sort of uber perfect. Then again, would it be done conditionally or horror of horrors, subjunctively - whatever that may entail!!


No wonder the Brits are often considered a somewhat sedentary culture. Yes, they have produced prodigious writers and scholars, but they aren't really know for their actions - very little, beyond a few wars, actually "got done" over there. However, a lot got pondered!!

But I digress. Let's get back to the Love - amore, amores, which is a masculine noun - surprise, surprise and the ablative plural is amoribus - it is also the dative plural. So it begs the question did all love really start with a date on a bus?

I'll leave you to ponder that. The picture? Just cooking up a bit of silliness for the holiday :)





Monday, December 19, 2016

Behold......

.....The Ugly Christmas Sweater!! Please, let me explain!!



Sometime in mid-November, my youngest was telling us about a planned Christmas party at his work. There was to be a "Secret Santa" gift exchange and an "Ugly Christmas Sweater" contest. He loved the concept of the ugly Christmas Sweater!! (In my heart, I wept - how did beautiful Fair Isle motifs, in red and green come to this, sigh!)

Nicholas (Yes, named after St. Nicholas) also loves clothes, in all their finery. He has taste, I might add, and the ugly Christmas sweater is the antithesis of this taste. He mentioned the "ugly Christmas sweater" last year, as well. To him it's a clothing joke and he wanted to have one, just for the fun of it!! This year, he started describing, what he considered ugly - "I just want to put a mess of something right in the middle of the sweater!!"



I rose to the occasion. Yes, there are things in knitting that some consider ugly - chunky acrylic yarn comes to mind. I knew I had inherited some chunky acrylic from my mother's stash, and it was actually in red and green - what could be more perfect. Clearly someone else had started and then abandoned an ugly Christmas something, a long time ago.

On 8mm needles the project would be quick. It would not only feed my need to design "costume," but it would also be a challenge, to make something "ugly" in an amazing way, if you know what I mean!!





Together, we decided on a Christmas tree in the centre of the sweater, which could be decorated with jingle bells and flashing lights - I love song and dance!! Somehow ugly was starting to be a lot of fun!!


I found the yarn, which was still bright and cheery and I also found my 8mm circular needles. A quick read of the yarn label gave me the gauge and a measurement from an old sweater gave me the width. I cast on in red. After the first skein, something didn't look right - It was way too big. I am a loose knitter, but really.


I ripped it out and started again. This time I had done front and back and grafted the shoulders together. Nicholas tried it on - too small. Ugh. The journey was becoming ugly as well. However, this time I had gone too far. I wasn't ripping it out again, so I decided to cut a steek from the underarm to the bottom of the ribbing on both sides of the sweater and insert two green panels. It worked - sort of. I attached the panels with red saddle stitching to make them look, as though they were an intended aspect of the design - more lies that knitters tell themselves!!

The sweater finally fit in the body, but it was now too short. Well, it might have always been too short, but I hadn't noticed, in my horror of its being too small in the first place.

I could add some tabs that tapered and held a jingle bell, maybe. No, not fancy enough. Finally I picked up the bottom edge and knit another band of ribbing, this time in green and added tabs of red with gold jingle bells attached. Ugly is starting to come together!!


I added epaulets in green at the shoulders to give the side panels a little more presence and I decorated the epaulets, giving them a little more presence, because of the highly decorated ribbing. It never fails. Somehow you can't just add a little something here and there - you have to add a lot of everything everywhere to make it all work!!

Several trips to the dollar store netted lots of tiny, gaudy Christmas decorations and my husband found some flashing lights at another dollar store near his work. I love family projects.

I knit a Christmas tree in garter stitch, sewed on a dozen or so decorations and stitched the tree to the front of the sweater. The battery for the flashing lights could be slipped into the bottom of the tree and activated later. I've got my fingers crossed that the battery actually works and the lights will flash!!



Finally an "Ugly Christmas Sweater" tastefully executed such that all the mistakes were incorporated into the design, ;) the design works, the sweater fits and my out of pocket expenses were less than $10.00. My son will now go to his Christmas party as a cross between one of Santa's elves, the nutcracker and maybe the little drummer boy.

I'll let you know if he wins!!

Have a Merry Christmas!!