Garden Glance

Thanks to sunny days & persistent watering my garden is doing nicely this year. I rarely post pictures of it as so many people do better flower pictures no one needs a stunning rose with a single raindrop on a petal picture from me 🙂 So there’ll be nothing of that sort in this glimpse. Beside the soil in the yard, thanks to the towering fir tree, is too acidic for roses.

On my back steps I have herbs along with standard petunias, marigolds & several varieties of morning glory. As you see by the photo I’ve been ‘training’ the vines to grow along the eaves. These will be mainly heavenly blue. They are climbing string that I’ve put up for the, they do need to be reminded to follow the string though.

Along the shady side the back porch I have moonflower vines being trained in the same way. The twine loops across the window so I hope to enjoy themwhen This is the first year these here. Moonflower blooms at night & too much sunlight slows them down! In the basket with them are some coleus, which also prefer shade & they are doing very well here.

Not everything in the garden was planted by me, or anyone else! These petunias self-seeded along the back steps – the seeds are from the ones I had in a planter box last summer. The morning glories beside them are also self-seeded from last year. There’s even one, at the top of the photo, growing out of a crack in the steps. The will to live.

I ordered my elephant ear bulbs (Colocasia) on line as I didn’t find a nursery that had the bulbs. I’ve had them in the past but digging them up every fall was too much work. These I put in a pot about eight weeks ago. Once sprouted they grew quickly & will continue to grow to about 6 ft with huge ears. It’ll winter inside & next spring I’ll consider planting in the ground to see if I can get them to their full height & size.

This is only a portion of the garden. The rest can be seen by appointment only lol.

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Recap May 2022

They wouldn’t let me try it on 😦

The TOpoet.ca following blog grew to ! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. That Canada tops the list is unusual. That Poland (Witaj Polsko) & Ecuador (Hola lectores en ecuador) are in the top 10 is a surprise. Hello to my fans in Morocco (مرحباً أيها القراء في المغرب)!

Picture Perfect -119 sections, about 169,000 words posted so far with  20,000 approx to be edited then posted. These last sections took a fair amount editing, fresh writing & even some minor side plot development as I inch closer to the final big scenes now that the remains of the abducted children have been found. 

Watched an amazing documentary ‘Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra’ which starts as history of the Australian aboriginal dance company & becomes a powerful mediation on the cost of creativity. The dancing is stunning, the music is incredible & the cost of creativity is heartbreaking. A must see that is streaming on TVO.

Watched Midsommar, bound to be come a season favourite. The depth of research was gratifying & the ritual aspects of the story were spot on & thought totally imaginary felt authentic. When I watch it again I will skip to when they arrive in Sweden as the first act is dreary & quickly drained my sympathy for any of the characters. By the time they got to the commune I was happy with all of them dying. 

The extras on our edition of the DVD were banal though I was surprised that only one, of all the leads was American, as I assumed they all were until I heard their actual accents: Irish, Scottish, & that weird accent that is sort of Manx-African-Aussie. Sadly the soundtrack lp contains none of the Swedish chanting – so I didn’t buy it.

Read an excellent set of short stories: 13 Views of the Suicide Woods by Bracken MacLeod. Eerie, scary, inventive well-written tales that are Twilight Zone extreme with explicit gore & violence. Highly recommended for any horror fans.

May has been a month full of of activity, of breaking routines & getting dirty. Dirty digging in the dirt to get my garden ready for the summer. Some hostas were split & halves replanted else where in the garden. All the perennials returned, some worse for winter wear mind you. Loads of annuals planted – asters, alyssum, begonia, marigolds, snap dragons, impatiens, daisies, pansies, petunias, coleus, plus seeds are sprouting for four kinds of morning glory. It will a colourful garden for sure. 

a side & b side 🙂 bluer than they appear here

Getting back to my roots by adding some Stonehenge Preseli bluestone to my rock/crystal collection. Part of Stonehenge is a ring of standing stones made of bluestone that is only found is & was quarried from Preseli, Wales. I did an esty search & ordered some. 

Coming up in June is a day trip to Stratford to see Hamlet – after the excellent Richard III we saw in May I’m looking forward to this season’s take on Hamlet.

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Best Buds

What’s up? Tiger lilies & more in my front & back gardens. The first four are in my back yard, the fifth is of tiger lilies in the backlane. The last three are in my front yard.

lilac leaf buds
poppy leaves popping up
wisteria leaf buds
rhubarb nubs
tiger lilies shooting up the laneway
tulips breaking through
boxwood flower buds
forsythia leaf buds
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2021 Recap

Over the past year by TOpoet.ca following blog grew from 445 to 468! Doesn’t sound like much but I did a cull of followers who are no longer active on WordPress. The WordPress map show my hits have come from over 70 countries around the world. USA still tops the list but that China & Bangladesh are in the top 10 is a surprise. Nigeria in the top 20 – but behind Malawi! Kazakhstan! Still no hits from North Korea 😦 My Tumblr is at 346 followers. 229 Twitter followers.

My top ten posts of the year include 2 out of the archives! Born To Be Blown – from 2014 – https://topoet.ca/2014/01/24/born-to-be-blown/; & Sydney Academy 2 from 2019 https://topoet.ca/2019/08/12/sydney-academy-2/.

I made a few changes in my blogging routine to give me more time for actual writing 🙂 At the start of the pandemic blogging daily was an excellent way to get through the lockdown. Then it became work I had to keep up with & was no longer fun, so I cut way back.

In 2020 I did 322 posts; in 2021 I only 260 blog posts – of course having no live poetry readings or Stratford show to review reduced the quantity. Though on of the highlights of 21 was seeing Three Tall Women on stage in Stratford. Martha Henry’s tour de force final production.

Picture Perfect: Picture Perfect:  98 sections, about 142,000 words posted so far with approximately 45,000 to be edited then posted. I’ve been enjoying the slow process of edits & have made some major cuts in the final set of rough drafts. As usual my biggest issue is keeping names straight – what did I call that rcmp constable a hundred pages ago? I’m really enjoying creating the weekly graphic for each section. I do have an endless supply of frame & paintings that people have thrown out.

Like many people I’m weary of the pandemic, of people’s reactions, of the roller-coaster of restrictions, & now the paranoia. Is it allergies? A cold or covid? How ‘sick’ does one have to be to get tested? Who pays for it? By the time you get tested, have the results, early onset treatment is too late. How long before neo-citron markets a neo-covid hot lemon drink?

Highlights of the year: contributing a forward to Philip Cairns book Hollywood Poems; having some pieces of mine included in Pandemic Poetry. Extensive work on my garden. Deep house cleaning in a lock-down pandemic purge of the house top to bottom, in particular a basement full of stuff – some not touched since we moved into the house some 40 years ago. 

I did get used to zoom recovery meetings & now seriously doubt if I’ll go back to face-to-face. I do meet up with fellow recoveries for face-to-face conversations & sharing. Going up to my room for a zoom is much easier than getting ready an hour or so in advance to get there with the hope the TTC hasn’t shut down. 

What am I looking forward to in 2022? Good question. Travel out of the country is out of the question. Even for travel within Canada testing rules can change while I am landing so I might never get off the plane or end up living in a tent on the runway until I can get an appointment for the right test. But I am considering another week or so in Cape Breton if pandemic travel rules loosen up enough. Stratford has a tentative season with a couple of shows we’re interested in seeing but will it end up a repeat of last season’s open air productions?

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Euonymus

euonymus over an invasion of lilies of the valley

The big garden job this past month was clearing the weeds & grass that had invaded one of the garden beds. By weeds I mean things like violet, lily of the valley, ferns, crab grass & euonymus. Some of which are considered, by many, weeds but they are sure & steady infiltrators that can push out other plants.  They all spread with underground root systems which are virtually impossible to dig up completely. 

The euonymus was the last to go. It had climbed the fence &  had gone from ground cover, to vine, to insidious eyesore. I remember it was a freebie decades ago, a shoot that took quickly. The green & yellow leaves are pretty & the area of the garden I put it in was in need of colour. I let grow unimpeded for decades.

Late this spring I cut back the lily of the valley & violets & the various root systems of both were so intertwined I thought it was time to let go of the euonymus. It was impossible to plant in the area without dealing with the roots. Like the pandemic house purge, in which I let go of stuff: books, scrap paper, lumber, screws, clothes – that were all perfectly good but no longer served a purpose. So it was to do a garden purge too. 

The house purge resulted in empty spaces that I probably won’t fill. The garden purge doesn’t quite do the same thing as nature will constantly sprout things in empty spaces. The euonymus will be back – the will to live is unstoppable. It, & the violets, ferns & lilies of the valley will pop up were I least expect them to appear. In future I may be less tolerant.

In purging my writing archives I found many old poems, short stories whose roots are still resurfacing in my writing today. Those old hurts, old attitudes, old frustrations have grown, taken on new shapes. In the process of inputting some of those pieces I saw where I had changed for the ‘better’, where I had moved on, where I had let idolized teenage romantic fantasies continue unimpeded for decades.

euonymus bites the dust

My Back Yard

<>

I dig in my back yard

not a farmer tilling soil

to replenish the food supply

or even a fancy gardener

putting the exact right plant

into the perfect alkaline soil 

for maximum growth

<>

I dig

shove in whatever 

selective only as to color

I know a bit about shade plants

verses those that require full sun

but sometimes even then

I don’t care

let the plant do what it can

I’ve given it all the help I can

found a spot 

keep weeds at bay for a few weeks

<>

I dig

maybe a foot deep

you want that in metric

forget it

I’m not that deep

never deeper than a foot

sometimes

I come across 

roots of trees

sometimes bits of shale

rocks sand

once pieces of blue willow china

<>

I dig I plant

I water when necessary

but count on the sky

to provide rain

for his plant children

I stop to marvel at how deep they dig

at construction sites

centuries of strata revealed 

there is no bottom

glad 

when it gets covered over

tar the shameful flesh of the dirt

concrete the private parts

to keep them safe 

from further plundering lunging 

greedy construction

<>

I dig I plant

I enjoy washing the dirt off my hands

clean my finger nails

I feel connected

I even feel connected 

through concrete 

on the 20th floor

it doesn’t matter

the force of this earth

reaches to me

I feel safe surrounded in touch

yet when I am in a forest

any forest

I feel alien unwelcome 

hunted haunted

wondering 

if I dig here

what can I plant 

I dig I plant

eventually

I purge

July 2008

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Ontario Lockdown May Update

The covid pandemic is now well into year 2 & its grip has tightened despite various lockdown restrictions & even the fairly rapid distribution of various vaccines, while the distribution of conspiracy theories has been even faster. Is there an end in sight? That depends on the profit margins, right.

Not only do the living have to bury the dead but they have to shoulder the burden of the cost – a burden that increases as the tax base shrinks thanks to covid deaths & lockdown bankruptcies.  Like poverty, the pandemic will stick around as long as someone is making big bucks off it – I should have invested in pharmaceuticals when I had the chance 🙂 Or undertakers.

Emotionally I have remained relatively even-keeled. Sharing my house means my social bubble has never been one of total isolation. Zoom has been a boon for recovery meetings & I generally log on to six a week. Each with a slightly different format & different people. I am one of those doesn’t go on camera & usual I minimize to audio only to spare my wifi connection. Not seeing all those faces eating, pulling at split ends, playing with pets lets me focus on the sharing.

I have maintained an active social bubble within the stipulated limits. Socially distant walks with a couple of recovery friends has been important. Also sending time with some non-recovery buddies has kept them for being too isolated. I’ve had a a good friend drop over a few times to help with the garden. 

Blogging & taking pictures have been vital to maintaining emotional & spiritual balance. Sharing things about various aspects of my life with complete strangers around world, most of whom I’ll never meet, makes me feel more connected. 

Major purging has given me a sense of accomplishment – one of the benefits of a house is that I have things to purge 🙂 I’ve suggested to a couple of friends maybe they should clear out their apartment storage spaces rather than gripe about not being able to do things. The purge also stepped into my writing archive – unearthing artifacts that go back to high school days. Poetry, short stories, plays, even a couple of novels. Inputting them & getting the paper into the recycle bin. 

I sure hope this lockdown paranoia soon has an end in sight though. My basement is clean enough, thanks.

Ballad of a Translucent Man

I would be happy

if someone greeted & invited me

as opposed to a nod

from the group clumped together

at their noisy chatty table 

drinks all around

guys slipping outside

in two or threes

for a quick smoke of bonding

<>

I remain unbondable

I’m not sure what underlies 

all that camaraderie 

I have never penetrated it

never been apart of an inner circle

a pal amongst pals

but I no longer seek that

content in this cool distance

<>

doubt if that’ll change at any time

won’t work at changing that

won’t make my words invite 

any more than they do

in fact I take a somewhat 

more challenging stance

a gentle fuck you

<>

no one there 

I need approval from

don’t have to please anyone but myself

the audience will respond regardless

in fact it seems 

the more indifferent I am to them

the more they listen

<>

though this sense of apartness

is something everyone carries

perhaps I am as much of this scene

as they are

as much of the under structure 

as any of them are

each of us looking for attention

for acceptance without 

wanting to surrender 

much of the self to get it

to get it for the self

for whatever that means 

to anyone else

bored and distant warm 

and in the middle of things

<>

each piece has a place 

in how things work

how things continue to work

fellowship is that the word

friendship maybe

companionship championship

a steady climb up some little ladder 

to a bugger bigger stage

the wow of applause

then the stride of celebration

that leads to 

who does he think he is

who was that translucent man

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Yellow Haze

All of these, except the sunflower, are from my garden – most as I experimented with the camera’s close up function

I love the pollen heavy legs of these bees

unknown small bush in my front yard
orange marigold – orange is almost yellow
zinnia on my front steps
rose begonia
marigold in same basket as the orange
portulaca in my back garden
dusty miller – no petals
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Roadblocks

Will there be roadblocks in & out of the Golden Horseshoe while it remains in phase one as the rest of Ontario moves on to phase two? How else can the rest of the province be protect from possible contagion? If I go to, say Cambridge, will I have to spend 14 days in quarantine before I can even get out of the car? At least I’m not worried about getting a hair cut 🙂

I have used Zoom this past week more than usual by attending the launch for Heather Babcock’s Dirty Sugar. The launch was smoothly run & well-attended. I’ll wait for the eBook before ordering it though. (https://www.inanna.ca/product/filthy-sugar/) Purging books the past month has reinforced my desire for empty shelves & to simplify 🙂

I have been attending recovery meetings via Zoom & enjoy them more now that I’ve learned how to ‘control’ Zoom. At first I loved seeing all those faces but I quickly became distracted by people’s actions while they were listening to others share. Not that they were deliberately distracting but their eating, grooming, stretching etc isn’t what I’m there for. So I minimize Zoom to audio.

I also only turn my camera on if I’m participating, the same with sound. No one needs to hear the TV, the kids, the dogs in the other room while someone is sharing. Maybe I have control issues but the sounds of people shuffling pages, cutting fingernails or humming to themselves is annoying. Some groups only allow mikes on when participating – which does cut down on that extraneous sound. Zoom Etiquette ebooks on their way 🙂

I’ve been posting a photo series of Ghosts. Places that have closed but some trace of them remains, usually the outline of a store name. Walking along the Danforth I’ve been many ghosts of the future. Restaurants with new ‘for lease’ signs in the window. At least one that had started to change to a fast-food chain back in February now changing to different fast-food chain. I guess takeout hasn’t created sufficient cash flow – though only doing take-out between 4 – 7 may not be that profitable. I’m have my camera eye on you ghosts of the future.

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee & donuts

– sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet