Gardening Grannies and Magnificent Mom

Redesigning Rose’s dedication is:

“To my Mom, Granny and Granny, the three strongest women I’ve known.”

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Left to right – Granny at the Lake, Me, Mom, Granny Down the Street

There are thousands of ways these three women have influenced my life, and I can’t even begin to think of who I would have become without them. And one such way is with gardening so I shouldn’t have been so surprised when Redesigning Rose ended up having such a heavy gardening theme.

Granny at the Lake (read this post for the Granny/Granny explanation) was the heaviest gardener of us all. She was president of her local horticultural society and had at least eight garden beds – none of them small. And when my brothers and I spent what we hoped would be lazy summer days at her house on Lake Simcoe every summer, we were always out of luck. She woke us up at 6:00am to weed her gardens. I kid you not. Every morning unless there was a storm brewing we were out there batting away mosquitoes and yanking out as much clover, dandelions and creeping Charlie as our tiny hands could grasp. And her gardens were somehow continuously clustered with weeds no matter how much we clutched and clawed at them. All we wanted to do was go fishing. It’s a bit miraculous that I ended up loving gardening after all that. Weeding the gardens though is another story altogether though. It’s a fond memory now (mostly) and I’d give anything to be able to plop down beside her in the garden and yank out some weeds while chatting.

Granny Down the Street also had her own beautiful gardens that we plodded around in and plucked flowers from. We also watched as her and my grandfather cultivated a large vegetable garden at the “farm” – not a real farm, but a second property they spent summers at an hour away from the city. Grandpa also tended to apple trees, a cherry tree and dozens of fruit bearing bushes containing gooseberries, raspberries, black and red currants. I grew up watching the satisfaction of growing your own fruits and vegetables and have carried that forward through years of growing my own vegetable gardens.

My mom also had elaborate gardens lush with colour and scent for every season. She gave us each a little patch when we were small to plant something and take care of it. I grew strawberries and loved watching them sprout off another shoot and root and grow. Her gardens were luscious and gorgeous to look at, and we helped her along the way, but I think it was her sanctuary, a slice of peace each summer which must have been rare raising three young children.

Right now my own garden grows slowly one year at a time. The house my husband and I currently reside in is a temporary home, and we are reluctant to throw a lot of money and energy into something we may leave soon. This makes me sad sometimes, but I still love puttering around outside, planting small seedlings in the spring and watching them grow. I love the peace I feel in the garden and the creativity it sparks in me. At the cottage things are a little different as we do have a large vegetable garden and nothing brings me more satisfaction than walking outside and gathering everything we need for a meal.

Here are a few photos of our vegetable garden and its bounty and one of an interesting cucumber we managed to grow… and if you love gardening, or even just like it a bit or are thinking about giving it a whirl, check out Redesigning Rose.

 

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Cottage Garden

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One of our more interesting accidental creations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inappropriate Writer Brain Moments

I can’t turn it off. My Writer Brain that is. And was I ever grateful when I learned that there are others out there like me, writers whose brains are constantly churning and creating stories.

Writers on Vacation by Debbie Ohi

This cartoon by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (who is also responsible for some of Judy Blume’s gorgeous new covers – how awesome is that!) is so accurate it’s frightening. A writer truly never gets a holiday. And that’s because we’re at Writer Brain’s beck and call. Even sleeping, I can’t catch a break. I dream about my current project or wake up with a thought or idea I have to write down.

Here are a few of my inappropriate Writer Brain moments.

  1. Any moment where I don’t have a pen and paper or my phone to write/type it out!
  2. In the middle of a conversation. Yes, this happens often. Sorry everyone.
  3. At a funeral. I can’t help myself. Thoughts of character and life swirl through my brain.
  4. When my husband is saying something profound. Sorry, honey. In my defense, he’s a creative brain too, always inventing things, so I’m sure he doesn’t listen to me all of the time either.
  5. When my husband and I are disagreeing and one of us says something that triggers a moment where I think “Oh, that should be in a book.”At yoga when I’m supposed to not think. Yeah, right.
  6. At yoga when I’m supposed to not think. Yeah, right.
  7. During an intimate moment.
  8. Cooking! I’ve almost killed dinner numerous times while stopping to ponder an idea or jot a thought down.
  9. When I’m supposed to be working or focusing at a meeting.
  10. After a couple of cocktails after which I can’t remember what my spark of creative genius even was.
  11. At the beach when I’m supposed to be relaxing, see above cartoon.
  12. Pretty much all the time.

When does your Writer-Brain jab you with an inappropriate idea or thought?

 

A Creative Jump Start

Last weekend Mr. Z and I wandered up north for a few days of relaxation and a unexpected marathon of Downton Abbey (Seasons 1 & 2), and when Saturday turned into the loveliest November day ever, we wandered outside. Thankfully he remembered the camera and I wandered along behind him, mostly not watching for moose. Or bobcats. Or cougars. Or wolves. I was happily snapping photos instead.

I had begun to worry in the weeks prior that my writing mojo had evapourated and that my first novel was a fluke. I couldn’t seem to get into Book Two. But that afternoon it came roaring back. Sometimes it takes a little something different to jump start us, so now I know to grab my camera and head out for a long walk when I’m feeling blocked. Here are a few of my finds.

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And for all you doubters, we’d just had rain so were lucky enough to find some evidence of the creatures surrounding us…that wasn’t always in dung form.

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