Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Home again

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

We slept in a bit last Friday, the eagerness to get out of bed and visit of the previous week tempered by the knowledge that we’d be leaving first thing in the morning. As we got up, Reid asked if there would be many people coming for breakfast. Small wonder that she’d expect a crowd, given the number of people at supper the night before or even most nights of her visit. Reid asked if I’d call Uncle Roger to come but he was at work already. She asked about Auntie M – also working, I thought – and then about Danielle – at school. “But I want someone from Uncle Roger’s family to come,” Reid said. Before she could switch to another family, I said that Aunt Karin would be coming over in just a few minutes. Reid was happy with the news and we distracted her with preparations for departure. In the end, we left only 45 minutes after Ken’s proposed departure time. This would be 15 minutes before the time he actually thought we’d leave.

The drive home was less eventful than the drive to Wheatley. Reid seemed to have picked up a bug on Wednesday, or at least she had a fever when we got back that didn’t abate until we were back in Ottawa, but that was all the symptoms she had. She watched part of a video on my laptop, typed and used the basic drawing program – maybe Paint – for a while. We read many books and played babies and doctor and whatever else to pass the time. And we both had a nice, long nap.

We arrived in Ottawa about supper time. Reid wanted to go to her daycare to see her friends but I fibbed and said they’d all be gone. I felt a bit bad but Reid bought it without protest and it *had* been a long time since we pet our kitties … Reid next wondered if we could invite someone to our house for supper. Ken offered a definitive “no” in response to that question. With the exception of a 14 hour overnight stint, he’d been away from home for 17 days. He was eager to be in the (relative) quiet of his own home.

On Saturday, Reid and I went to Ritchie’s Feed and Seed to purchase some vegetable plants. Not all of the seeds we started have come up and, quite frankly, I’m not entirely sure what some of the sprouts are. This an effect of having the neighbour boy’s eager assistance, I guess. Anyway, we bought the following plants: tomato; cauliflower; broccoli and yellow pepper.

On the way home, I heard the radio announcer mention that the route of Ottawa’s¬†Motorcycle Ride for Dad would be passing through our neighbourhood. We parked in the mall parking lot and walked to ask the motorcycle police officer at the intersection when the motorcycles would be by. Waiting half an hour seemed reasonable and we settled onto the grass at the corner. The Ottawa version of the Motorcycle Ride for Dad attracted about 1400 motorcycles and even more riders. It took the better part of an hour for them to pass our corner. Reid stayed interested for the first 25 minutes and then played around me, on me, etc. while I tried to draw her attention to motorcycles with side cars, off road bikes and the deluxe touring motorcycles. There were many motorists who hadn’t figured the Motorcycle Ride for Dad into their plans and ended up stuck for the duration. Only a few got out of their cars to watch. One stressed out mom had to hustle her child up the road to a birthday party on foot. I’m not sure if she abandonned her car or if there was another adult there to drive it.

Just after we got home, B stopped by to ask if we wanted some company. I explained that we were going to work in the backyard but that he was welcome to join us. He joined us for a vigorous weeding session and then Reid and I took him inside to have a pop and play a bit. He painted a picture at the easel. And Reid, to my surprise, resisted the urge to join him. She and I drew our own pictures and eventually Bruno sat at the table to draw a clown. He seemed pleased that I asked him to write his name on it and then I put it on my fridge, after obtaining his permission to do so. After spending some time with the puzzles and toys in the living room, we went out to plant the only decorative plant I allowed myself. Then, I told B that Reid needed her lunch and a nap and we’d see him later. I don’t know if I should have invited him to stay for lunch but my cupboard rivalled Old Mother Hubbard’s after our time away.

We planted the vegetables we’d purchased and also some beet seeds. Reid insisted on planting one small tomato plant before I was quite ready for it. I tried to keep track of it, really I did but by the time we were planting cauliflower in the same part of the bed, it was nowhere to be seen. Sigh.

Ken made and barbecued delicious hamburgers for supper. Reid charmed him into agreeing to a “picnic” at the table in the backyard. Eating outdoors is a real treat for her and, while I could have done without the neighbour’s 90′s alternative rock, for me as well. After supper, Ken cleaned up and Reid and I cleared a strip of dead grass from along the fence for a second garden plot. I planned to add soil on Sunday and plant our homegrown seedlings there.

I planned to do that right up until I rolled over while lying on the floor with Reid at bedtime and the room spun madly. I’d thought my vertigo had passed until that happened but it was clearly back with a vengeance. We spent part of Sunday watching tv (terrible, I know) and reading. Ken built puzzles and played with Reid while I lounged and felt sorry for myself. He followed her to the park, Reid riding her bike part way and Ken carrying it the other part for while in the morning and, in the afternoon, they went to the Aviation Museum.

In the quiet talking time that follows Reid’s nap, she told me that she wanted to go to Wheatley to Grandma Joyce. Apparently the 9 hour car drive of 2 days earlier hadn’t troubled her at all. To be honest, I’m pretty sure that *I* could manage the trip again but our chaffeur might object. It’s always good to be wishing for more time away when you get home. We’ll not have trouble going back.

Gearing up for gardening

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Reid and I went to Lee Valley on Saturday in search of a vermicomposter but they don’t sell them. The fellow next to me recommended the rolling compost bin but since we have one that is full, I stuck to my guns (for now). We also stopped at the Ritchie’s Feed and Seed where I asked about them as well. The fellow referred me to Arbour Environmental in the Glebe. Reid and I needed to purchase some seeds as well. There were many, many beautiful seed packages to choose from and Reid wanted to put most of them into our cart. Okay, that is a slight exaggeration but only slight. We chose corn, squash and beans (the 3 sisters) to plant together and carrots, cantaloupe, cauliflower, pumpkin and tomatoes. We also picked up some broccoli sprouts and cow beans so that we could watch them germinate. We chose some cat nip seeds; we didn’t want Clio and Leo to feel left out. I chose 3 kinds of seed potatoes, including some that produce a blue-purple potato while Reid picked some elephant garlic bulbs. Finally, we picked up soil and sheep poop, the latter was the highlight of the trip for Reid, and we headed home discussing the other sorts of animal poop that could be used in gardens and if there was any kind on animal poop that couldn’t be. At the time, I couldn’t think of any but I was thinking of farm and zoo animals. Thinking about it now, I imagine domestic cat poop would be off limits. Not that I’d thought of sorting the litterboxes or anything.

We took our seed packets with us to Eddie’s for breakfast on Sunday so that we could admire them and plan our planting. It’s hard to plan with a kid who is more interested in gathering her favourite seeds in front of her than in reading the packets to see if they need to be started indoors or if they go straight in the ground. Reid was kept busy while we waited for our food to arrive and that was even more important than planning.

Once home, we brought the soil, sheep manure, seeds, pots, and tools to the driveway and began our work. Reid was most interested in playing with R again. I suggested that he might like to ride on her John Deere pedal-less tricycle or the John Deere ATV, if Reid was willing to share. She was and we brought both up from the basement. Then, Reid waited for R to appear while I mixed the soil and put it into pots. I expected Reid to want to be the planter-in-chief but she came over only when I commented on how small the cauliflower seed was compared to how large cauliflowers grow to be.

R and his mom came out to play and Reid’s interest in me and what I was doing waned further. A boy from a couple of doors down stopped to see what we were doing. He introduced himself as “B”, asked me, “Parlez-vous francais” (Do you speak French?) and told me with a grin, “Je parle franglais tres bien.” (I speak franglais – the blend of English and French common in bilingual places – very well.) He didn’t speak any English or franglais to me, though, only beautiful French. His parents are diplomats from I don’t know where but his accent was the sort I heard on the cassette tapes in elementary school. (How is that for dating myself ?+)

B asked if I was planting flowers or vegetables and did I need any help. I said his help would be welcome and then he put down his soccer ball and got to work. We planted many more seeds than I needed but B’s enthusiasm was contagious. Once finished with the planting, B told me that he had to leave once he’d watered the seeds. Ken had tried to patch the hose but there were too many holes and so he was still swapping out the hose. I went inside for water because, really, B had earned the right to water his work.

Throughout the planting, Reid wandered over now and again to plant a few seeds, quiz me on what B and I were planting or just check on things. She pretended to go camping, lying on the driveway with Eeyore and a blanket. At one point, she and R played with umbrellas. Reid really loves umbrellas and can pretend it’s raining with great enthusiasm and realism. It’s much better to play *rain* than to play *in* the rain. I’m sure that if you asked Reid she would tell you that *we* planted seeds on Sunday. I tell Reid often that simply by behaving, she is helping me with a task and so I would agree that we had completed the task together. I’m looking forward to more warm and sunny days in the driveway and front yard, getting to know the neighbour kids and playing with Reid.