Sunday, February 28, 2010

Go Canada Go!

Canadians are generally a pretty low key bunch.

But not, I hasten to add, when we've won the gold medal in men's hockey at the Olympics. As well as the gold medal in the women's hockey at the Olympics.

We are a pretty intense group when it comes to hockey (see this if you need further elucidation: it explains a lot even for English Canada).

Even I, scarred by a father who watched every single bloody hockey game when I was a kid thus depriving me of many a National Geographic Special, non-hockey watcher, shrieked out loud when we scored that final, winning goal. And then we all went outside and yelled a lot. With all our neighbours.

Look, even the kids are celebrating in the streets.

My Frankenstein Totoro

I was making a paper Totoro from this site and thinking idly of using this particular picture as my new avatar because I need one that isn't quite so nostalgia-inducing (it's FDPG when she was a wild and crazy 4 year old). I took a few pictures from various angles, thinking each time the camera reflected the glue in a bad light that I am really terrible at gluing (he doesn't look this bad IRL I don't think). I finally came to the conclusion that it's a Totoro Frankenstein and if I were to use it as my new avatar people might think I am either a really crappy crafter or that I have strange necromantic tendencies. As far as I can tell, I am neither, although I do feel rather drawn to The Crappy Crafter as a blog name.

While I was contemplating my Frankensteinic crafting abilities, a friend sent me this picture - from the upcoming Toy Story 3. Look in the back there. It's a stuffed Totoro.

I forget all about nicknaming myself Victor and instead convinced the twins to accompany me to this movie when it comes out. Then we watched My Neighbour Totoro, and daydreamed about one day going to the Studio Ghibli museum.

We all love Totoro here. Well, the teenager pretends not to, but he loved him in his day. He's just too mature to admit to it anymore. If you need some more Totoro, check these out.




The Studio Ghibli museum website, a place we hope to visit one day.

Directions to the Studio Ghibli museum for the directionally challenged, including one of the more strangely compelling phrases I've ever heard (and might now have to adopt as my mantra):

"Less stress means more fun!"

Heck, this one was made for me. I might not ever develop a cheesy giggle, like Satsuki's, but I am not above repeating this to my kids. I can just see the effect this will have on the teen-ager...


The Crappy Crafter

And remember, kids, less stress means more fun!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Next Stop, Little Sister!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Garden Thursday

It's that time again.

No, not Doctor Who time. Honestly.

But while he's here - let's have just one short glance. He was such a good Doctor.


Springtime has to be some of the best time in the garden there is, in my opinion. You get the winter to re-think and re-energize; you can get some distance from projects that might have seemed unfeasible or frustrating, and the idea of digging and carting and turning over sod is once again an exciting prospect. Plus, it's fun seeing all the perennials and bulbs poking their sprouty green tops out of the earth. Oh, look! It's the miniature irises! Oh, look! It's the primroses! Oh, look! It's the forsythia! Oh, look! It's the abeliophyllum! (Which, by the way, was everything I was told it would be: fruity scenty & gorgeous)

I'm still waiting for my fritillarias to make an appearance, sadly. For the last 3 years I've bought one or two only to wait in vain. When I dig up the area I planted them in all I find is a mound of mush. "Ah, yes," said one garden centre employee, "they do tend to do that here on the coast." Bugger those fritillarias. They are expensive. I don't like being teased by expensive exotics.

But, like the plucky Jane Austen Heroine I am, I pressed on with the fritillarias, because I love them. I love the skunky smell of them. I love their weird bulby shape. I love love love how they look when they are flowering. So last fall I bought not one but two, and planted them on a bed of sand. "Go ahead! I dare you! Fox me THIS time!" I might have shrieked really loudly muttered as I covered them up.

As I get older I get mouthier with plants.

So we'll see how they do.

Another thing that's good to do this time of year around these parts is to restructure your garden. I'm edging with the Handy Dandy Edger my neighbour gave me when he moved into his retirement home. Interestingly, edgers of old are much shallower and smaller than the edgers nowadays. Time shall tell me how this new development in the Age of the Edger has fared.

One thing I do know, it makes my edges look much crisper than my shovel did. And I am anal enough to really LIKE this.

Here's another restructuring project I did on the weekend. My garlic bed used to have a big old shade-producing bench in front of it. I moved the bench, ostensibly to put in a lower longer bench - the same height and length as the garlic bed. This photo shows the front area sans bench. Instead it shows a Selection of Tools from Richard, The Lowerer of Potting Tables. He's a wonder, that RTLOPT.

Then, just as I was about to convince RTLOPT that I really needed a long low bench that not only looked super cool, but was also possibly influenced by beach driftwood or Italian Rococo style, I was overtaken by the spirit of the Summer Rock Collector God and ended up putting down some bricks and gravel instead. He's a fickle god, that one. Fortunately Richard is not only a Lowerer of Potting Tables, he's also a benign Worker In The Garden. He retired instead to watch an Olympic hockey game.

So I hauled out all my prized green & white rocks (from a 2008 Green & White Rock Collecting Phase) and laid them on top of the gravel, along with some blue glass bits (the ones you always see in net bags at Michaels). In the foreground you can see my Honeyblue Honeysuckle, which is blooming as we speak. I bought it for the birds, but now that we've all tasted the blue berries it produces, we all have our beady little eyes on it rather intensely.

Another angle of the new rock area. If you squint rather hard you can see the Summer Rock Collector God, squatting obsequiously at the end there.

Yes, methinks it's edging towards springtime here. Not full blown, mind you. But a taste. The OMG WHAT WAS I THINKING part will come in April, when the weather always gets wet and horrible. And I? I will be glad I did all this work now, before the plants get their full on spring roots.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

We See Differently

We spent most of yesterday outside, because it was so beautiful and sunny and the coming forecast is for rain, sob. I used the edger my neighbour gave me when he moved and had a lot of fun making crisp edges along the beds (simple pleasures for simple minds, right?).

Then I repositioned the bird bath, making sure it was settled and surrounded by ample avian seating. This way the birds won't have Toffee the Cat of Very Little Brain But Excellent Birding Skills able to get at them very easily. In fact, I would be willing to bet that Toffee won't be able to negotiate this at all. He's not called Toffee the Cat of Little Brain for nothing, you know. Very nice, our Toffee, and an excellent hunter, but not very swift off the mark. These sticks will, to use Richard's vernacular:

freak him out!

If it sounds like we derive a lot of amusement mocking our cat, well, you're right. We do.

Then I contemplated some planters. Last summer I developed a mild passion for all the different grasses that seemed to be in vogue at the garden centres, and bought a few that survived the winter in style (and one or two that did not). Here is a planter that did well, even though it was in some exposed shade. This particular grass has a really graceful swoop to it. It is interplanted with Corsican mint (something that doesn't overwinter for me ever but I love it so much I don't care anymore) and Baby's Tears (this is my first year and it seems pretty hardy).

In contrast the twins played on the willow tree swings, taking enormous pleasure in swinging so hard that the root on one side lifted slightly out of the ground. We all observed the tree do this several times. It looked highly unstable, a fact that pleased some of us and alarmed others. I warned them once then decided to look the other way. Who am I to stand in the way of foolhardiness?

Max took advantage of my Potted Grass Perusing and snuck off with the camera, intent on his own Garden Exploits. But I found the Evidence later...

Storm Trooper infiltrates Max's Mother's garden on a mission of extreme secrecy.
Storm Trooper is briefly menaced by a sharp pointy object.

Storm Trooper realizes that it's better to sneak through the jungle, even if he is very poorly camouflaged.

His Mission? To divert giant rock in bird bath. He does not realize the imminent danger of Unstable Bird Bath Ornament behind him, unfortunately.

Foolish Storm Trooper. Tsk tsk tsk. Good thing you are made of hard plastic.

On the way back Storm Trooper surveys the territory for more potential enemies (like Mothers or Unstable Bird Bath Ornaments or Cats With Very Little Brain).

Oops. A cat. Fortunately this is the Cat of Very Little Brain he's heard tell of. No worries. One poke with his curved gloved hand and that cat will be out of there so quick Storm Trooper will be on his way home in no time at all.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Some Things Just Crack Me Up

Saw these on our trip down to Seattle and had to take a picture of them, just because.

If you are ever wondering why Canadians differ from Americans, let me just show you these, and let you extrapolate from them what you will.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Garden Thursday

The weather this week has been so warm it has me worrying about a March freeze or something. I mean, look at those nectarine buds! Pink! Full! Burgeoning! If a freeze comes along my plan of eating fresh nectarines while lolling on the lawn will come to naught. And if that happens I might be forced to use my Doctor Who In Your Pocket Talking Voice Keychain. It might not do anything but still. One can pretend.

The sorrel is out and tasting very lemony this time of year. I like spring sorrel: soft leaves, thin ribs, and no seed heads to continually pinch off. Sorrel makes for good soup and even better chopped fine over a salad. We like to roll it up around hummus.

This was such a VERDANTLY provocative shot I couldn't resist. And no, it's not all my yard. You can't see the chicken wire fencing I put up to remind Oliver the Idiot Lab about where his boundaries end and mine begin, but it's there. Trust me.

Here is a terracotta pot, upended to show how it's been 'forcing' the rhubarb. I learned this trick from a local gardener and it's a remarkably effective one, too. My one regret is that here I am typing this gem of information for you all while simultaneously remembering that I forgot to replace the terracotta pot afterwards. And here it is late at night. Cold weather is no doubt enveloping my tender rhubarb. Sigh. The perils of my life...

Dominic's purple sprouting broccoli is doing well. Even if it is surrounded by that dratted Bishop's Weed.

I know I always include shots of this plant, but it's so lovely I can't resist. Pulmonaria - lungwort. Beautiful blues this time of year.

These burst out of the ground while we were away. We came back to swathes of purple gems across the front lawn. Sometimes I think I am under the sea, because they open and close according to the sunlight that hits them. It's like living with glistening sea anemones.

My neighbour moved away and gave me these two large rocks. I've been coveting these rocks for the past 2 years, sneaking glances at them every time I walked past the side of the house where they lay, buried somewhat under piles of concrete and mud. Fortunately R. the Long Suffering and Super Strong pushed them up the hill to the front garden for me, because I sure wouldn't have been able to. Now they lounge with the cottage primroses and scented violets.

It only took close to 3 years but the Harry Lauder's Walking finally looks quite cool and atmospheric in the garden. Who says I'm not patient?


That piece of wood, which looks strikingly like a narwhale, was carried in our very inadequate van from our summer place up island all the way down to this garden. It was tucked rather tightly in between the kids, who all voiced their displeasure at having to share such awkward quarters with a large log. No imagination, these kids. It's a narwhale, I told them. And here it is, before the summer blackberries envelopes it.

The garlic is looking robust. As is the tape around my crumbling compost bin. Why do compost bins never survive in my care? Why must I always resort to such ridiculous tactics in order to keep these things intact? It's mildly humiliating.

So there you have it: Garden Thursday around these parts.

Wandering Around Other Towns

We just got back from a trip to Seattle, which was kind of amazing because we haven't really been very nomadic of late, but what was even more amazing was that we planned the trip around a visit to a Lego store.

Yes, Gentle Reader, we planned a trip to a Lego store. A Lego store! If the me that I am now suddenly appeared in front of the me from 1995 and said "Guess what? You're going to be spending a good chunk of money you could be ploughing into the garden or your Doctor Who memorabilia collection cash taking your THREE kids to a Lego store in the USA in a few years!" I would have laughed like that kid on the Simpsons (you know, the one who sounds like a human donkey). Three kids? Lego store? Ha. Good one.

Heeee hawwwww.

How the mighty fall, when faced with the thing that is the Lego-obsessed child.

Here they are before they went into the Lego store. Note the tautly excited expressions on the faces of the twins. Even Max is having difficulty restraining his inner WOW!

Here they are after they went into the Lego store. Note the tautly excited expressions on the faces of the twins. Even Max is having difficulty restraining his inner WOW!

In fact, under that toque his hair is on fire.

And in between we did a bunch of other cool stuff.

Here we are at 6 am, driving to the ferry, because we, Gentle Reader, live on an island and have to take a ferry to get off it. I was expecting more of a rebellion from the troupes but the idea of the aforementioned Lego store as an Effective Lure was too big to withstand. Look - even the teenager is smiling. At 6 am.

Here is a sign that Dominic interpreted to mean NO KEYS ALLOWED. We all pointed out that he could have read the accompanying words but I think he likes to maintain his position here as the Family Clown and eschew all print if it serves his purpose. As this obviously did.

Here is the Teenager, discovering the Free Breakfast at the motel. He was deeply enthusiastic about being able to eat all the bread-like items, juices, yogurts, and bananas he could stuff into his craw. And yes, it was like watching a baby bird inhale worms, come to think of it. I think what he liked best of all was not having me say things like "Max, do you REALLY need to eat all that food in one sitting?" or "Max, do you really need to eat 8 waffles, 4 sausages, 3 muffins, and 2 glasses of juice?"

Here is another place everyone was enthusiastic about. I think you can all guess what went on here.

And here are some random images of the area around Pike Place Market, in between going on an Underground Tour and gushing over all that creative action...

ALL tens? Impressive.

This was a guy the kids were particularly taken with: The Cat Whisperer. At the risk of sounding too jaded, I will say that he was a fairly typical post-hippie nutjob on a peculiar mission of sorts, with some really mellow cats. FDPG gave him some of her cash, she loved him so.

I loved these chilies. They were so incredibly colourful. We stood here for a while as I took photo after photo, until R finally said "Why don't you buy one if you love them so much?" I was tempted, but the Doctor Who In Your Pocket won out. Chilies are nice but having the noise of the Tardis is nicer, somehow.

The window fronts were amazing everywhere I looked. I actually have 132 window front shots, so be thankful I am only inflicting 1 on you at this time.

There were also a lot of tall buildings, even if it seems mundanely redundant to say so. We all felt dizzy looking up at this one.
Who doesn't love a good cobblestone?
I look up, I look down.
It's all good.