scrabulous surprises

30 07 2008

Not everyone goes for surprises, but I LOVE them. So, a few weeks ago on my birthday, my beloved handed me six Scrabble tiles and, with a mischievous grin, he said “Happy birthday.”

I stared at the tiles… T P O C N I

Hmm, my present was somehow hidden in the tiles. I started to play with them while I chatted with my brother and sister-in-law, who were with us. But frustration got the better of me and I focussed all of my energy on the tiles. Pocnit… Coiptn… Nicpot… Tipcon… then finally… PICTON!!! We were going to Picton!!!

I had been wanting to visit Picton and Prince Edward County for months, ever since I heard about their Taste Trail. The Taste Trail is exactly what the name implies… a marked trail through the county where you go from one decadent taste experience to the next. And that’s exactly what we did for our weekend getaway. In two days we managed to fit in several wineries, some fantastic restaurants, lots of farmer’s markets and more! I really can’t do all of them justice but my mouth waters at the very memory of them all. A few of the highlights included:

Prince Edward County is such a great example of a region that supports its farmers and producers. Everywhere we went, we saw places advertising local products. And they weren’t just greenwashing us, everyone knew the local farms, producers and other businesses and they happily directed us to them whenever we asked. We came back from our weekend piled high with local goodies.

It was a FABULOUS surprise weekend.


it never rains, but…

12 07 2008

…it certainly does pour sometimes.

I remember it was about this time two weeks ago when I started to feel a little stressed out. My beloved and I had just a week to prepare for our own belated wedding reception. After a small family wedding last fall, we were finally going to host a big party to celebrate with everyone else. We’d planned a barbecue in our backyard for over 100 of our closest friends… and we’d decided to do most of the preparation ourselves. So yes, this time two weeks ago I was starting to feel a little stressed.

Thankfully, my beloved is pretty good at recognizing my stress and he calmed me down. We talked about what needed to be done, who was going to do it and when. A week seemed like enough time between the two of us to check off all the items on our list. And it likely would have been… if we’d had the chance.

Instead, the following morning I picked up a pile of records and threw my back out something wicked. And this was in the middle of a holiday weekend – there wasn’t a single chiropractor within 100 miles who was working that weekend. So my beloved proved once again why he is so beloved as he worked tirelessly day and night – cleaning the house, shopping for groceries, and starting 40 lbs of potato salad. I lay on the floor and watched.

A few days later, when I got an appointment to see my lovely chiropractor, he told me that this wasn’t the same easily-fixed problem that I’ve had in the past. A week to ten days, he told me. I blinked back a few tears, trying not to think about how I was going to greet 130 people while lying on the floor. Then I scheduled daily adjustments and massages leading up to the party. Each day, it was marginally better and I thought that I just might manage to make my own wedding reception.

So , the big day arrived. Imagine a party with everyone invited from two-week old babies to little old “I-don’t-tell-my-age” ladies. Beautiful sunny skies, lots of laughter and everyone relaxed and smiling. Thankfully I was able to enjoy almost all of it, and my beloved and I celebrated exactly how we wanted.

gardeners are givers

18 06 2008

There’s something about gardening that makes people want to give. A year ago when my beloved and I moved into our current home, I quickly attacked the overgrown front flower bed with zeal. My neighbours, many of them gardeners as well, would stop by and comment on my progress. They divided perennials and brought them over for me to plant. And it wasn’t just perennials that they shared – as harvests came in, they brought us fresh vegetables like cucumbers and garlic scapes, saying that they had too much. I thought we had hit the jackpot and moved to the best street in town.

But you know… it’s not just my street, I think all gardeners are givers. Last night, I got an urgent message from Kathy over at I Wet My Plants, saying that she had a tomato emergency. She had 40 extra tomato plants and no homes for any of them. I called her and happily agreed to take several off her hands. I knew I could find SOMEWHERE to plant tomato plants with divine names like Red Lightning, Black Pear, and Hawaiian Pineapple. Kathy even dropped them off at my office while I was working – how sweet is that?!?

Gardeners and their generosity always amaze me. I think they appreciate how much the Earth gives to us, and feel compelled to share it with others. So I say here’s to generosity – may we always share our gardens.

bookworm update

16 06 2008

Time to update on my slow read through Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet by Jeffrey Sachs. And to make sure that you don’t get the wrong idea, my speed is NOT a reflection of the readability of this book. Sure, it’s not quite the page turner that many people want before bedtime, but for me this book has changed the way I understand my surroundings. Listening to the news has become bearable, choosing which actions to take is easier, and I feel connections with people I have never met from around the world. This is a book for someone who is trying to make sense of the world we live in today.

That’s not to say that I have completely made sense of the world. (I still have a quarter of the book left to go… maybe it will become clear as I polish off this last section.) While I was familiar with many of the environmental challenges that Sachs outlines, I hadn’t understood how demographic issues link to them, and how global prosperity is tied in. Sachs brings it home with his message that ultimately we will experience successes and failures with all of these issues together as a planet.

Sachs demonstrates his ability to think BIG time and time again through the book. I’d like to sit down with him and pick his brain. Right now I’m stuck on a question about fertilizer… stay with me. Sachs talks about the potential for the world to reach a population of 10.6 billion by 2050 (we’re currently hovering around 6.8). Now, if you’re like me and you put 2 and 2 together, then you’re probably wondering HTF can the planet handle THAT? We’re having food crises now, trying to feed our current population.

Sachs has a couple of solutions to our population problems. One is to encourage a voluntary reduction in population growth so that we don’t hit 10.6 by 2050. The highest total fertility rates are in developing countries around the world, and he points out that this is not a coincidence. One of the reasons parents procreate is to ensure their own security. For a voluntary reduction to occur, Sachs says that these countries need to experience economic security. When parents no longer see children as the only commodity and security available to them, the total fertility rate will begin to decline.

Okay, so here’s the fertilizer question. Sachs says that part of promoting economic security in developing countries is to improve agricultural productivity. He recommends fertilizers as one way to do this. This stumps me. While I’m guilty of having used them from time to time, recently I’ve come to think of widespread use of fertilizers to be bad for the environment… bad for our water system, and bad for the overall nutrition of the soil. Does Sachs know what he’s talking about here? I wonder… especially when he seems so darn smart with the rest of the book.