Sunday, May 18, 2008

Peasant Farmer

My ancestors were farmers. Mom's family were peasant farmers from Germany, via Russia to Canada. They were settlers here on the prairie a century ago. Dad's family also has ties to farming and setting in Saskatchewan. I think its in the blood.

Yesterday, day one of the May long weekend, and the temprature is 29C. Amazing. 29C is a brilliant August day. The May long weekend is the traditional start to summer; the agreed to date at which it is safe to start gardening, and the first big camping weekend of the summer. 29C is lazy, suntanning, sipping frostys kind of weather.

So, despite the call of the local patio for a few cold ones, we stick to the plan to work in the yard. That's two weekends in a row for yardwork. Maybe we will get somewhere this year! This weekends task is to get a large vegetable garden cleaned and planted. The east side of the yardhas been very good to perennials, and to a few veggies that we have tried planting, but not so good for our raspberries. I believe the raspberries were planted far too close to the large aspens and got no nutrients. So we picked a patch further south and further west than the raspberries, marked it off with the former 'container'(sections of chain link fence), and prepped the soil. Our rototiller would not start, so we rented one from Home Depot. Not quite as powerful and not self propelled, but Daryl got the job done for me. I moved several raspberry canes into the garden, but hedged our bets by leaving several outside as well. The raspberries haven't really grown well and have yet to produce fruit. This spring, many more than usual seem to have sent out new suckers, so I am hopeful.

We planted 4 daylilies and 2 iris along the gravel path leading to the garden, and made a plan for the space between the garage and vegetable plot: the new garage will have a south door, and space for the lawn mower, bicycles and other seasonal things at that end. Therefore, we need to keep an access path for the lawn mower to reach the rest of the yard. We will plant another fruit tree (or trees) south of the exisitng apple. Clean out all of the scrub and dead wood on the east side. Replace the dead trees along the east with lilacs and conifers. The space behind the garage, up to the first apple, will be utility space but hopefully not a general junk yard. I think that we should have a small cement pad poured for the dog, dog house and dog run that starts behind the garage and allows him access to the front. He won't be content unless he can guard the front.

We mapped out the shape of the new patio and Daryl's wall. We've agreed to rebuilding the existing patio so that everything is level and there isn't a slope or steps between the portions. It will be a nice, large area and I am looking forward to the finished project.I can see finally hosting the garden parties I had hoped for when we moved here.

I finished planting my annuals but have alot of bulbs to get in yet. We bought two bags of lilies, a bag of iris (120 little bulbs) and a bag of glads at costco. I wasn't prepared for the quantities in each bag, and finding enough free space has been challenging.

I have red potatoes, red onion, white onion, beets, carrots, zucchini, peas, and multiple bags of lettuce seeds to get into the ground.It is currently raining, a nice gentle rain that will be great ofr what I planted yesterday, but would be better if I had all of my seeds in. The forecast is or it to stop by noon, so I will wait.

So my peasant roots really show when I can be happy as the proverbial pig when I spend a day working hard, and getting dirty. I really have a sense of accomplishment and a day well spent. I am a peasant farmer at heart.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Through the Looking Glass

That was the theme for Scona's class of 2008, the 100th graduating class of Strathcona High. Tonight was commencement, and the ceremony was well executed and classy. The key note speaker, Rudy Wiebe, was brilliant. Many positive messages about moving on, taking chances, growing up.

I was amazed at the names called that were in the GHL kindergarten class of 1995! Many of those kids have been in the same school all 13 years.

The ceremony was at the Jubilee, and the seats were assigned. I knew we were in the balcony but wasn't sure how removed from the stage that was. I guessed about which lens to bring, and decided on the 135mmf2. The 70 - 200 may have been a better choice - more reach. But as it was I think I ended up with lots of motion blur at f2, so 2.8 may not have been enough even with the stage lighting. CB agreed to hold still for a couple shots afterward. I missed some great photojournalistic moments. I really have much to learn on that front.

in any case, my first has graduated from high school. He approaches adulthood and all the rights and responsibilities there of. WOW. Time really does fly!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Great Weekend

This weekend had gardening, soccer, photography, family time and good weather. What else could any one ask for? I spent all day Friday, lots of Saturday and some of today gardening. The weather was mild and almost warm. I have a sense of accomplishment and a plan in mind for the next steps for the garden.
Alex's team played an exhibition game yesterday, so I shot that game. CBs first regular season game was today, so I shot some more today. I took garden shots today as well.
We had breaksfast with mom and dad and Rob today too. Dad's cooking has put 12 lb onto mom in 18 days - pretty damn good.

All in all a good weekend, folks!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ahhh, JOY!

I spent all day in the garden.It was glorious. There is still enough to do that I can spend all day tomorrow in the garden too.
The sound of bird chatter is almost deafening here! I am so glad. It's really important to just be outside for a while, not rushing back and forth, but observing and listening. A robin marched along the planter after I had cleaned it up - oblivious to me, finding seeds and treasure. I saw at least a dozen species of bird in my yard today. Many squirrels too.

Today accomplishments:
The planter on the front veranda cleaned up and planted with pansies, nasturtium seeds and basil seeds. The whole works are edible, though I've never eaten pansies or nasturtiums.
The dog debris under the pine and around the front step has been cleaned up.
The new planters in the front yard have been weeded and inspected. Looks like most of the roses made it,some of the perennials(transplants from my yard better than new ones, it seems).
Daryl moved planter #1 and filled it with garden soil. I planted peas, carrots, beets and mesclun mix in it. Too much for the space but I'll deal with that later.

I weeded the new planter under the family room window. I absorbed alot of heat from the sun doing so, so decided that we needed to buy more tender plants for that location. If they are going to survive anywhere in this yard, i will be there. So we planned a trip to the garden center.

Marty the vac truck driver was here and told D that NGT has gone out of business again. Daryl was telling me this as he was backing the van off the drive, and for whatever reason, he backed into the car! Huge scrape along the passanger side of the car. Scrape on the back end of the van. A two-fer! Oh, heartbreak - the van has made it 18 months scratch free. The car is cursed. Maybe it's a good thing it didn't end up as the kids car. So, a call to the insurance company and off to Holes.

We bought some perennials, and a few annuals but prices are way up. Not surprisingly, since utilities and wages are way up.

Tomorrow, assuming I can move, I will finish cleaning the front drive and the back deck. Alex has soccer all day, including an exhibition game in the afternoon. CB has his first league game Sunday.

Next week will be very busy, with soccer, soccer, soccer, and Colin's grad.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Garden Time

Well, my favorite time of year is here. Tomorrow is a day off of work for me and my plan is to garden! All day long. I have a significant amount of clean up to do: a winters worth of dog debris, blown around garbage, dead plant matter. Then I have two large planters and a compost bin to get D to make for me. And then comes the fun stuff! I've just been reading NatureScape Alberta again, and can't wait to get out there and design and plant food gardens for me and for the critters that live nearby.
This winter, inspired by advice on dgrin, I've been eating a diet much higher in vegetables (especially raw) than ever before. I've had mixed results in terms of weight loss, but in general I have felt much better, especially wrt joint pain.I read Michael Pollan The Omnivores Dilema, and quite enjoyed it. He describes things about industrial farming that I 'knew' about, but really didn't think hard about. He makes a very strong case for growing ones own veggies. I've read other stats that claim that eliminating meat from your diet would reduce your carbon footprint by 25% and that growing your own veg reduces it by 20%. Don't know if those things are cumulative, but I think its worth doing. And gardening is fun!
Garden seasoon is very short here. I usually get stuck waiting for the May long to plant, and then encounter delays. And have had pretty mediocre results gardening here, without the ability to water at will. This year, I am going to risk planting before the magic frost free date and hopefully will get good results. We intend to buy a couple rain barrels so that should help with the water problem (maybe we will have services next summer!)
This summer I have big plans for garden design: veg gardens, flower gardens, the beginnings of an outdoor portrait studio, and features to attract birds, bugs, butterflies and bigger species in to the yard. Photo subject matter! I'll try to diarize the progress here, through words and photos! Fun, fun, fun.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Family and Friends

So I've been doing a bit of traveling for work. I've been to Boston twice, once in February and once in early April. I am very impressed with Boston and hope I can continue to visit. It is a beautiful, historic city with fantastic brain power. On my second trip I tried to arrange a shoot with locals, and ended up with something bigger an better. I met 12 other dgrinners in D.C. for a shoot on April 12th! What a great day!! I was graciously hosted by Christina, who had joined the preshoot trip last fall. We started early and met a whole bunch of grinners over the course of the day. Some we had known from the Montana shootout (schmoo & zwiebluemen, davev & katev, grimace & kendal), others were new to us(visualxpressions & cassisp, eorin1). It was one of the best days that I've had the pleasure of experiencing, and I hope that I can wrangle many more like that.

Last week I went to Vancouver on a course, then to Seattle area to visit a customer and friends and relations. Unlike the DC trip, this one had very little photography. It was about touching base, getting to be face to face, catching up, rekindling and building relationships. It was very, very good and really reinforced the message that, whether one is talking about business relationships or friendships old or new, nothing - absolutely nothing works as well as being together!