Category Archives: Roses

Only Child finds a little sunshine between rainstorms

Part of Only Child's rose garden in front by the sidewalk

Part of Only Child’s rose garden in front by the sidewalk

Southern Ontario has been blasted with rain, thunder and lightning from late Sunday evening. The thunderstorms kept me awake with the noise and the worry of possible power outages and basement floods. I even got up once and checked the basement, but no water getting in then. The weather forecast looks very gloomy this week, except for Thursday, parts of Saturday, and Sunday. We don’t need all this rain in a short time – neither do the gardens and lawns.

But we all know the weather is screwed up no matter who or what we think is the cause. And it isn’t going to get any better according to a study from Australia. This Toronto Star story by Raveena Aulakh, from June 8, 2015 “ Risk of flooding rises with global warming, says study” looks at the research on the inner workings of rain storms and some disturbing implications come to light (or dark, which may be more appropriate). The story starts with: “After analyzing data from 40,000 storms, Australian researchers found peak rainfall intensifies when temperatures are higher.”

That is especially true in urban areas. The study was conducted in Sydney, Australia at the University of New South Wales where scientists focused on 40,000 storms that occurred in Australia during three decades. Just that number of storms is terrifying. What the scientists found out is even more terrifying – these warming temperatures (and yes, they used the cop-out cause of “climate change”) are messing up the patterns of the rain within the actual storms. The two researchers – Ashish Sharma, a professor in the university civil engineering and environment school and Conrad Wasko, a PhD candidate there – also figure that this is true for around the world.
While frightened and yes, angry, about all this, I am really not surprised. From what I’ve seen, not just from The Weather Network, but up close and personal, the weather worldwide has been going beyond hell in a hand basket as we entered the 21st. century. There were a few signs in the late 1990s but the situation has escalated a lot since we hit 2000. These bad weather patterns are only the tips of the rainfall (we may not have much in the way of icebergs in the near future) – that show me, the whole world in too many ways is skyrocketing off balance.
The Toronto Star story goes on about a few really bad flooding storms from two years ago in Canada, the June 2013 one in Calgary and southern Alberta, and the July 2013 one in Toronto, Canada. The Alberta one is the most costly in Canada (so far) and the Toronto one beat the 1954 Hurricane Hazel one in amount of rainfall. I said beat a hurricane which the July 2013 one wasn’t. You can read the full article at http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/06/08/risk-of-flooding-rises-with-global-warming-says-study.html
No wonder I am crabby and angry a lot of the time.
But I received a most welcome blessing last evening. Besides not getting the thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon and evening (God listened for a change), the sun was shining, so I decided to go for a walk. As I headed down my driveway a man walking by was verbally admiring my garden.
“I call it my wild garden,” I said. “I’m still catching up with all the weeds.”
“Yes,” he said, “but look at all the colour from the flowers.”
He’s right. The first lot of rosebushes are blooming red and white and they are fragrant; there are pink peonies, even the chives are doing their part with purple flowers.
It made me think. My garden is beautiful. It is also one of the few good things about this climate.
So, go out in your garden and enjoy. If you don’t have a garden, go to a public garden or park with a garden; walk along the street and look at your neighbour’s gardens. Do this while you still can, while all this is still here. Before the rain comes and floods it all away.
Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Extreme rainfall weather, Extreme Weather, Gardening, Only child, Rain, Roses, Weather

Only Child contemplates trees

That juniper tree in front when it was just a child.

That juniper tree in front when it was just a child.

Do we cut down too many trees? I don’t mean dead, dying  or diseased trees, but trees that just “get in our way,” whether “our way” is big developer coming in and building condos, city removal, or homeowner removal. Lately I’ve been noticing that Toronto is not as tree-lined as it used to be back in the 1970s when I could see trees forever to the lake (and the lake too) from my apartment in mid-Toronto. Newspaper articles have been written that Toronto is too much concrete. My walks through different city areas prove this. Don’t get me wrong – there are still many trees in parks and ravines, but downtown Toronto has turned into concrete towered city.

Back even further – in the 1950s and 1960s, my parents did their bit for trees. They got a little maple from the city and it was planted on the front lawn. On their own, my parents planted a snowball tree in back and lots of shrubs – back and front and of course, mother’s rose bushes. We kids used to hide under the big snowball tree; its branches hung so low nobody could find us there. No trees big enough to swing from. I did that up at my godmother’s farm. My uncle had set up a swing – heavy rope holding a wooden seat – for my cousins to swing on. One of my favourite spots. I also did a lot of swinging from swings in the nearby park in east Toronto where my friends and I went to play. Guess I was a swinger of a different sort then. .

On the Only Child front, the two black walnut trees between my house and Tanya’s next door have already started shedding their leaves. Leaves are blowing and landing all over the place on her side of the fence and mine. The trees are actually on her property and there were once four. Two came down when they added the upper extension to their house.

These trees provide the shade I needed in the patio corner of my garden and arrived serendipitously (read probably squirrels “planting” the seeds) when I cried for shade and privacy. I even had landscapers giving me quotes on lattice dividers but somehow that seemed too ugly and expensive. I did plant the silver lace that now entwines throughout our mutual fence and it grew and grew.

In the front yard I had a landscaper (starting out on his own so cheaper rates) plant two juniper trees in 1999. I have one now – the other one died as a result of the city doing some digging to upgrade sewer pipes in 2000. That upset me at first, but looking at the size of the tree now (see photo at bottom), serendipity again stepped in and fixed the situation. I have some privacy but not a complete block of the big picture window in my living room. And I don’t have to rake any leaves here.

Serendipity has worked a lot in my garden, including the tall red-leaved plant that just grew in the corner by my veranda this year – I’ve had this plant elsewhere other years; it is an annual but the seeds spread.

The city of Toronto now has a bylaw regulating injury or removal of privately-owned large trees with diameters of 30 cm or more. I have seen on some front lawns – the city part –loose orange fencing around big old trees so some tree-cutting nut (any pun intended) doesn’t come along and whack them down. A bylaw also exists for protection of some trees in ravines. And there is a Toronto-based program called LEAF  which promotes trees, gives out info about them, and has a tree-planting program for homeowners.

We’re coming along with the trees in Toronto – just don’t look downtown, especially all those condos by the waterfront.

That juniper tree today standing tall in Only Child's front lawn. Neighbours' walnut trees peak from side back.

That juniper tree today standing tall in Only Child’s front lawn. Neighbours’ walnut trees peak from side back.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Gardening, Home and Garden, Only child, Roses, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child finds solace in her garden

Part of Only Child's rose garden in front by the sidewalk

Part of Only Child’s rose garden in front by the sidewalk

I’ve been seeking solace in my garden to get away from all the crap that has been shoved my way the last month or so. That is when one of these stressors – weather, i.e., heavy rain and winds – hasn’t gotten in the way. And the crap keeps piling up. Now the CRA messed up my tax returns on the notice of assessment and when I called they admitted their mistake and it will be fixed. Meantime, “the system”  won’t know this and so unless it is fixed before early July, the amount the Notice of Assessment says I still owe (but don’t) will come off my GST rebate for July and I won’t get my provincial tax credits (also July) until the situation is fixed. All for some clerical error at CRA. Not fair. I need that little extra to survive, or once the property tax and utility bills are paid, I do without somewhere (read health expenses for one).

My garden is my lifeline to comfort and some food. When I walk out into my garden and see they symmetry of the perennials, the shrubs, the raspberries starting to form, the onions and other vegetables coming up – even the ground where recent seeds were planted – I get some solace. The blend of colours – some white, red, yellow, blue, greens, silvers, and lots of shades of purple – the only spiritual nourishment in my life as I get no spiritual nourishment and help elsewhere such as traditional or non-traditional religion and faith. Faith and trust don’t seem to be in my vocabulary these days and it’s not by choice but from what’s been happening.

So I go out into my garden and absorb – sight, sound (birds), fragrance. I literally smell the roses which are now just beginning to bloom.

But there is a dark side to when I’m in the garden. Pulling weeds and digging are good ways to vent your anger and frustration. Each weed I dig up or yank out symbolizes the people, etc. who make my world worse. The pulled weeds are placed in the yard waste bins for city “garbage” collection to be dumped somewhere to go back to the earth. Appropriate. When we die our bodies disintegrate (if not done for us with cremation) back into the earth. A fit place for my stressors.

Sitting out in the garden in the sun or shade, reading a book, eating meals on the patio, or just taking in all the garden or collecting flowers are (along with writing) how I cling to sanity. Whatever sanity means these days.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Income Taxes, Life demands, Only child, Rain and wind storm, Roses, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child finds problem solver from roses

Only Child finds deadheading roses leads to a new way to deal with problems

I spent more time this morning in my garden than I had planned and I’m glad I did. As I deadheaded the dead roses on my rosebushes, I pretended each dead flower I snipped was a problem. Yes, I did run out of problems and was still clipping away.

But I found a tactic to deal with some of these pesky problems that seem to have no answer.

You probably know The Serenity Prayer – God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the ones I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

While in my rosebushes I thought of fourth and fifth options…”the courage to know which ones I can delay and the courage to delay them.” For me this applies to answering email whose content is imposing on my time now and in the future – I have to answer them sometime, but I don’t know what to say; waiting for answers to important emails I sent; and waiting for payments for work I’ve done. With the latter I seem to be getting screwed by the powers that be. Two cheques from clients, already processed and sent out, have not arrived. A few months ago a client from a city not far from me mailed me a cheque. It took a month to arrive by regular mail. But the one that may take the stupidity cake is a money Interac transfer that got lost in cyberspace. The sender had to redo it and resend it. That second one arrived. At least with Interac transfers, the money doesn’t come out of the sender’s account until the recipient correctly answers the sender’s question.

For the money delays, my hairdresser says there is something in the energy worldwide with money. Probably true, but I have other ideas for the personal level. No matter, I’m trying to put this one in the “delay option.” Not easy.

Does anybody else follow the ideas in the Serenity Prayer for all the stuff coming at them? Or does anyone have another way to deal with these roadblocks to getting on with your life?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Decision Making, Decisions, email overload, Gardening, Home and Garden, Horticultural Therapy, Life learning, Only child, Overwhelm, Problem solving, Problems, Roses, Sharon Crawford

Only Child muses on raspberries and roses

Burgundy Iris among the white roses in Only Child’s front garden

I’m discovering new ways to relax in my garden. I don’t have to just sit out in the garden, looking and reading. I can relax while I’m doing. Just as well because my raspberries have appeared two weeks early this year because of our early summer weather. So for the next few weeks I’ll be out there almost daily picking raspberries.

Then there are the roses. The white ones in front were spreading their branches and flowers all over the place including over my driveway. I don’t drive but some of my friends do, so to avoid any vehicles brushes against the roses, I cut the bushes back.

It hurt me to do so. But as I trimmed them back, the process turned into almost a meditation, a ritual. And this morning when I went out in full raspberry-picking gear (long pants, long sleeves and wide-brimmed hat to avoid getting scratches from the branches) much the same thing happened. Instead of rushing through it all like I was battling time, it turned relaxing – even when I dropped a berry; I thought, “That’s one for the birds.”

I’m not sure my late mother actually sat and relaxed in her garden, except when I was a toddler –and here the photos tell that story. Mom was always out in the garden picking red raspberries, beans, and currants, until she persuaded me to do so. I loved picking beans and raspberries, but not the currants. They don’t taste good raw and they seem to attract bees. Mother’s busyness in her garden paid off in the many fresh raspberries, plus her own version of canned currant jam and jelly and mustard beans – the latter I’ve never been able to find since. And unlike me, she pruned her raspberry bushes properly so she didn’t have to pick in a maze the next season. I use the “hit or miss” procedure although I do keep in the new shoots for next year’s berries and cut back the deadwood – what I can reach. Somehow I don’t get it as smooth and clean as Mom did.

Maybe, Mom did relax in her garden after all – by picking berries and trimming the bushes.

Then there were her rose bushes – but that’s for another post.

For now, those of you in Canada, enjoy the July 1 Canada Day holiday weekend coming up and those in the United States, enjoy your July 4 holiday…in a garden, if possible. Next week I’ll get more serious. Meantime, I’ve added a few more pictures of my garden.

Enjoy.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

Fushia pink roses by the sidewalk of Only Child’s house

Poppies popping up among the chives by Only Child’s veranda

Front view by steps to veranda shows yarrow, coral bells, chives under the boxwood. Raggedy Annie among the rosebushes is in the background.

Only Child as a toddler in the backyard with her late Mom who is sitting in the Muskoka chair.

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Filed under black raspberries, Fruit, Gardening, Home and Garden, Memoir writing, Mother, Mother and Child, Muskoka Chair, Only child, Raspberries, Roses, Sharon Crawford

Only Child reboots and relaxes in the heat

Longshot of Only Child’s front garden where she now lives  and that Muskoka chair on the front veranda.

It’s getting hot and humid outside but I love it. When I was growing up I would sit outside in the backyard shade or sometimes the front veranda in the mornings. As I write in my memoir You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons:

On sunny summer mornings, she [my late mother] parks me outside with my colouring book and crayons at the card table on the front veranda. I sit there in the slowly receding shade from the house and carefully pick out crayons to colour in the trees, flowers, people, and cartoon characters of my vast colouring book collection. Boxes holding only eight crayons are not good enough; I prefer at least 24 crayons because then I can pick out different browns for the hair and different greens for the grass and trees. I pull out a crayon, lift it to my nose to inhale the waxy smell, then apply it to the drawings of people and places. I make sure my crayon stays within the outline and that I shade evenly. No wisps or coloured lines scattered all over the page. Already I am realizing that I need some order in my life. But not without the spontaneous sweetness of nature. Often I lift my head from my shading to stare at the green grass and trees along the block and listen to the birds tweeting. Occasionally, a neighbour strolls by. We don’t wave or say “hello,” but I sense the peacefulness, not just between us, but overall. The neighbourhood is quiet now and I need to absorb this. It is more than just breathing – it is my reboot into living after confrontations with the Bully. Of course, I don’t figure this all out then. I am just content to soak up the moment without any angry outbursts.

(Copyright 2012 Sharon Crawford; excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons)

In the above, I am cooling off from much more than hot weather but from yet another encounter with The Bully.  However, on these hot humid summer days, we are more concerned with keeping our cool in another way. You’ve probably all seen those newscasts of parents leaving kids in steaming hot cars while they went inside an air-conditioned mall to shop. Or someone left a dog in an overheated car. Are these people stupid, careless, or has the heat gotten to them?

You never leave anyone or any animal in a hot car in the summer if you will be away from the car for more than the time it takes to fill the car up at a gas station (and then you are right there). If your car has air conditioning, it goes off when you turn off the ignition. Just think hot seat when you return to your car and sit down.

In fact, if you leave your car in the heat, take your children and dogs with you.

The mortality rate from heat exposure (not just in cars) is higher than dying from a lightning strike or a flood. In the United States, the average fatality rate for death from heat wave exposure is 400 a year. And during the Chicago heat wave of 1995, about 600 people died from heat exposure within five days. Check out the Wikipedia article and its references at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_wave#Mortality for more information about the perils of heat waves.

Today, tomorrow and Thursday, I am going to restrain myself from excess walking and even heavy gardening. When I see a weed (or two, or three, or…) I will say “on the weekend.” Instead I will sit in the shade and enjoy my garden or sit on the veranda, as I do most mornings with my coffee, now that I have a Muskoka chair – shades (pun intended) of my childhood. After an intense session of editing or writing (rewriting more likely) inside (air conditioning on when necessary, although I try to use open windows, fresh air and ceiling fans only, when possible) I need the change to absorbing beauty, calm, peace.

If that doesn’t motivate me, the Wikipedia article will. And yes, I’ll be dressing cool in shorts and tank top and using sunscreen and wearing my big sunglasses and a hat. For more information on protecting yourself from the heat check out http://triblocal.com/gurnee/community/stories/2012/06/health-department-provides-hot-weather-health-tips/

More garden photos from this month are posted below. Enjoy.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

Blue sea of Forget-me-nots which popped up in May – now finished for this season.

Raggedy Annie swings among the roses of the comeback rosebush (died, then resurrected itself in 2009)

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Filed under Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Health, Heat summer, Home and Garden, Muskoka Chair, Only child, Only child memoir, Peace and quiet, Reboot, Roses

Only child goes out into the garden

Only Child and her late Mom in the backyard garden. Mom is sitting in a Muskoka chair.

This morning before starting work I went out into the garden. I do this every day to relieve the stress before it gets to me. The plan was to transplant some basil, nasturtium and a coleus, and put the hose away because we are supposed to finally get some rain. Then I planned to sit out on the patio and eat breakfast.

Instead I stared at some of the many weeds and started yanking them. I know weeding is therapeutic (especially when you pretend the weeds are your problems and/or the problematic people in your life). However, weeding is turning into a routine almost every time I head out into the garden. This helps with decreasing the weed population – for now. But there is more to gardening than pulling weeds.

I am enjoying the lush early display of roses thanks to our early hot weather and snapped a few photos this morning. I do “tour” the garden (and snatch up weeds as I walk around) and I do sit out in the garden and actually do nothing but drink wine or water and read a book. And eat my meals out on the patio or on the veranda while sitting in my new Muskoka chair (a holdover from my childhood when that’s what you sat on in the backyard or on the veranda).  Maybe the weed yanking is also a family holdover. My mother was a gardener and she did a lot of weeding. She also grew beautiful rose bushes, including red roses climbing around an archway.

Still, I can’t help thinking that I need an attitude change here. I need to go into the garden to enjoy it – whether I am weeding or reading or planting or touring. This is my escape from the harsh realities of my life. Heck, most of the time I don’t even take the cordless phone outside. If anyone wants me they can leave a message – unless they are telemarketers – they can go, to put it politely, where the sun doesn’t shine.

And speaking of gardening and reading. A study at Wageningen University and Research Center, The Netherlands featuring people spending time in the garden and spending time reading shows that gardening relieves stress more than reading. I wonder if reading in the garden would relieve stress even more. Check out the study published in 2010 at http://hpq.sagepub.com/content/16/1/3.abstract

I did transplant the nasturtium and basil but left the hose lying in the driveway. We’ve had so many wrong forecasts of rain in the past two weeks. I’ll believe it’s raining today, when it actually rains.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

Only Child’s late Dad under Mom’s rose archway

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Filed under Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Home first memoir, Mom and Dad, Muskoka Chair, Only child memoir, Problems, Reading, Roses, Shopping