Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage

My friend, Pat, has an astonishing way of discovering new and wonderful places to visit around Calgary.  My tendency is to always say “YES” when an invitation comes my way from Pat because, in the end, I learn something new and see something fascinating.  So, when I received an e mail to travel south to Nanton and to see the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage, I was keen.  Included in the experience would be a lovely and reasonably-priced brunch served up by Brown’s Catering and live music under a tent (although we all agreed the musician of the day might have turned down the mic…just a little).  As well, we then strolled about and admired the gardens and the buildings.  Delightful!

We could not have had a nicer day…a huge open sky and golden canola fields in full bloom created a backdrop of magic. The drive was filled with our usual enthusiastic banter and that always makes the miles fly by.  Gail, Mary, Pat and I embraced the visit and the views.  It was an exceptional time.  I’ve been digging myself out of a period of sadness, despondency and disconnect.  I am grateful for dear friends who have stuck with me through the malady, and anticipate, as I do, better days.  What can be more healing than amazing sky, flowers and forever-friendship. Thank you, Pat.

Click on individual photographs, in order to have a better look.


Thanks to Gail who hosted a further debrief at her home in High River.  I appreciate the hospitality and it was so wonderful to see you again.

I Drove Up to Didsbury…Laughed with a Friend, Drank Some Wine and Painted on a Drum

I enjoyed overlooking a beautiful garden and listening to my friend speak about magical things while I painted on a drum.  That time of year when canola fields and dramatic skies feed my soul!  I feel grateful.

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July 5, 2014: What’s New in the Backyard Garden?

It’s a hot day.  The lupines have been cut back, to make room for the showy lilies to make their debut very soon.  However, this guy beat them to it.  These poppies are like weeds and reseed at will.  I recommend selecting the areas of your garden where you want colour and let them be, otherwise, you might want to pull them as they appear.  Welcome colour, but so saturated in today’s sunlight, difficult to photograph.  The carrots, beans, onions, radishes, tomatoes and strawberries are all coming along.  Rhubarb needs to be pulled for the third time.  Yummers.  I’m thinking of Pauline as I write.

Not to be confused with an Oriental Poppy.

Not to be confused with an Oriental Poppy.


June 23, 2014: In the Backyard Garden

Looking out the kitchen window, I was witness to a full force magpie attack on the nest of Mr. & Mrs. a few moments ago…ran out to grab the hose, but the predator shot out as soon as I appeared on scene.  Mr. & Mrs. were strategically squawking from the eaves trough across from the nest.  I sat on the front step and watched the entire drama until Mr. tentatively entered to check on the little guys.  It seems all is well because the babes began to shout for snacks shortly after.  I can just imagine the horror of a magpie’s beak pressing in from the outside world.  As I sat, I noticed the magpie’s babe, bopping along on a neighbour’s lawn; the cat from across the street, belly low to the ground, stalking it.  Great patterned fans opened up and the mama, with loud assault-call, swooped down and then up into the safety of a tree branch, dive-bombing the cat over and over again.  Hmmm…tough life out there for the world of birds.

In the garden today…the first Oriental Poppy blooms.  I spot asparagus, finally, sprouting from seed.  The carrots appear and lots of radishes.  The lettuce is looking healthy.  A beautiful afternoon for a little gardening.





More Radish Seed Tape...Like it!

More Radish Seed Tape…Like it!



Yummers!  Lettuce

Yummers! Lettuce

Peonies in full bloom now.

Peonies in full bloom now.



Poppies begin.

Poppies begin.

June 20, 2014 In the Back Yard Garden

The first peony has bloomed. Blooming flowers in the gardens make me so happy, but as one thing stops blooming and another starts, one is reminded again of the passage of time and also the seasons. Anticipating summer, with such enthusiasm this year, causes a sort of hesitation in the gardens.  Beginnings lead to endings…and then new beginnings.  It all moves so fast.

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Oriental Poppies soon to bloom.


Asparagus progressing through a number of years…first harvest, likely next year.


What asparagus looks like as it sprouts from seed…years to establish a strong root system.


Second batch of rhubarb harvested this morning and stewing with strawberries on the stove top right now.


Mary’s strawberry plants blooming…dug four plants up when I attended her funeral in Lethbridge…now have a beautiful patch of plants.


Fresh basil.


The sunshine brought bees to pollinate this morning…a beautiful sight.

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How does your garden grow?

I haven’t planted this year yet…but, these are the beauties that have shown up after a very harsh winter.  The Columbine didn’t do so well…although it looks like I’ve quite a bit of re-seeding that’s occurred, so there is Columbine where I didn’t expect it.  I also lost a couple of Oriental Poppies.  Lupines have come up in several new areas and I’m going to let them go.  They are so showy and last so long.

On their first visit to this particular home in the late 1990s, Mom and Dad fashioned my front yard flower bed.  They traveled all the way from Ontario with iris plants from Mom’s garden.  They are still blooming all of these years later.

P1160992Forget-Me-Nots, while sparse, did appear yet again.  I remember painting a diptych while sitting in Mom and Dad’s Frankford garden…an acrylic piece titled “Forget-Me-Not”.


Forget Me Nots, with Coral Bells coming up behind…surrounded with Iris

The rhubarb is ready to be yanked out… strawberries yet to be photographed, but they are in bloom.  I see rhubarb and strawberries on my toast very very soon!


Pansies 2014

Pansies 2014

I’m going with a complementary colour scheme in the garden…yellow and purple…have been moving things about and thinking about this for years.  It’s such a joy to be creative in the garden.

P1160988These succulents really really like the northwest tip of my flower bed…it’s the dry sandy soil that happens there.  I’ve begun to add other succulents for variety.  Good to learn where things thrive.

P1170013These are so easy…and so successful!  Get some!

Lupines begin...I've got the coral and the purple.

Lupines begin…I’ve got the coral and the purple.


Poppies…oriental and other perennial mix.


Very showy shrub thingy…but, I forget what it’s called. Early bloomer.


Filling in under my Catoni Aster with Lily of the Valley…these came from Pat’s garden years ago.



What I Learned in the Garden

When I spend time in gardens (reflecting and pulling weeds), I learn something.  Last night, as I revisited, in my heart, the garden of Gethsemane with Jesus, I also expected to learn something new.  I’m consistently blessed that way on Holy Thursday and so grateful for the time of meditation and adoration with our Lord.

First of all, as happens each year, a former student slipped into the seat next to me.  He is a man in his fourth year of University now, but at the time that he was my student, he was in grade seven.  Every Holy Thursday since that year, we’ve taken pause together, with gratitude for the Son of Man.  Last year we missed one another because I had slipped out to go home and return in my track pants and comfie clothes…but, apart from that, we’ve connected each year to pray that ‘one hour’ in the garden with our Lord.

All of that wonder aside, what did I learn in the garden?  I was really focused on how I felt, sitting and kneeling and sitting again.  I mean, I was exploring how my head was hurting and my eyes were weary.  I knew that when I knelt, my knees were sore and when I slumped, my back was sore.  I just couldn’t get comfortable…but I remained, struggling to be with our Lord.  I contemplated his passion.  I had tears at times.  I wrote a little, in order not to lose focus.  My mind wandered about my children…the loss of my mother…the sounds of people entering into and leaving the space.

And then I entered into my lesson.  I moved away from thinking about the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus, but really focused on his time in the garden.  I know that he likely experienced the same sort of physical discomfort in his body as I did.  As well as experiencing huge fear and anxiety around the events that were to come, I know that he must have felt so weary!  I know that before the first kiss of betrayal…the humiliation…the abandonment by his friends, he would have ALREADY felt exhausted.  So much more ahead for him…all the way to the cross, but without rest, refreshment or shelter of any kind.  I guess I learned about the humanity of Jesus even more last night.  I felt sad for him and truly wondered how he endured so much for the sake of people like me…for all of us.

I know. I know.  Most of my readers may not be on the same page as me on any of this…but, this afternoon, as I head over for the observance of Good Friday, I claim the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour.  I spill over with humble gratitude for all of his discomfort for the sake of our salvation.  I claim his love.




David & John & Prince Edward County Lavender

Oh my gosh…my readers must appreciate the glory of the smell of lavender as much as I do!  While visiting the Prince Edward County Lavender farm, I purchased a deep purple bunch of fresh lavender to place next to Mom’s urn.  I also purchased a plant of the medium purple to leave alongside Mom’s violets in the dining room window.  It was a glorious day for such a visit as this one.

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David and John…thank you for the magic of that afternoon…for showing me the Glenwood Cemetery…for the exploring of stone walls…and slow drivers up ahead.  Laughter…exploring…conversation…all so precious to me!

Corby Park, Belleville, Ontario

P1110245A short walking distance from my Dad’s apartment on Bridge Street, is Corby Park, a beautiful rose garden.  I have discovered that plants do not grow anywhere like they do in Belleville.  They enjoy the humidity and the heat, resulting in huge blooms and such a variety of lush gardens throughout the city. This particular garden and existing fountain are presently in a redevelopment phase and  because I was in Belleville earlier in the season this summer, there were many more plants in full bloom.  It was spectacular.

Lesson learned…paradise can be discovered by taking pause and really experiencing the world…or even a small part of the world.  It is a bit of a cliche or ‘corny’ to suggest that one take the time to ‘really’ look at a blossom, but it is so!  Looking at a single bloom, a person may discover a little bit of heaven.

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Paradise by Coldplay

When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach
So she ran away in her sleep
Dreamed of para- para- paradise
Para- para- paradise
Para- para- paradise
Every time she closed her eyes
Whoa-oh-oh oh-oooh oh-oh-oh

When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach
And the bullets catch in her teeth

Life goes on
It gets so heavy
The wheel breaks the butterfly
Every tear, a waterfall
In the night, the stormy night
She closed her eyes
In the night, the stormy night
Away she’d fly.

And dreamed of para- para- paradise
Para- para- paradise
Para- para- paradise
Whoa-oh-oh oh-oooh oh-oh-oh

She dreamed of para- para- paradise
Para- para- paradise
Para- para- paradise
Whoa-oh-oh oh-oooh oh-oh-oh.

So lying underneath those stormy skies.
She said oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh.
I know the sun must set to rise.

This Morning In the Garden

Before attending karate last evening, I managed to get the garden implements tucked away in the shed and pulled out the snow shovels.  I also hung four strings of white sparkle lights into the arms of May, for some winter light in the back yard gardens.  This morning, however, I didn’t feel like walking through the 8 cm blanket of snow, in order to plug them in.  I’m opting to stay home this morning while so many others don’t have that choice.  I feel blessed that on a morning like this, I can put on the coffee and stay warm and off those roads!

The Snowbound City

By John Haines

I believe in this stalled magnificence,
this churning chaos of traffic,
a beast with broken spine,
its hoarse voice hooded in feathers
and mist; the baffled eyes
wink amber and slowly darken.

Of men and women suddenly walking,
tumbling with little sleighs
in search of Tibetan houses —
dust from a far-off mountain
already whitens their shoulders.

When evening falls in blurred heaps,
a man losing his way among churches
and schoolyards feels under his cold hand
the stone thoughts of that city,

impassable to all but a few children
who went on into the hidden life
of caves and winter fires,
their faces glowing with disaster.

Kathleen’s Back Yard

Doug’s Front Yard