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Boat #2

“The Sailing Boat, Evening Effect”, by Claude Monet, 1885

I’m learning that the process of growing older is an art form, and letting go of some things is part of the artistry. When we create a painting, or take a photograph, it’s the empty spaces that help to define the work, giving it balance and making it beautiful, or at least meaningful!

Life is all about dismantling what’s unimportant. Then you can see what’s really valuable.

–Lilo Raymond, photographer (1923-2009)

lilojug

“Still Life with Pitcher”, photograph by Lilo Raymond

It’s never easy to give up certain activities, people, books or objects that we’ve loved in the past. For example, I’ve had to let go of riding a bike, due to certain physical constraints. But I can still walk, thank goodness! I’m in the process of choosing which activities to hold on to, and which to say goodbye to.

Gardening is a blessing, and I’m hoping to follow in my Dad’s and sister’s footsteps, and putter in my garden for as long as I possibly can, as they did.

The luckiest among us drift into old age within the garden. Bones, muscles and sinews may begin to complain, but the passion’s still there: so much still to do, so many possibilities still to explore.

–Des Kennedy, from The Passionate Gardener–Adventures of an Ardent Green Thumb, (Introduction, page 6)

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Dad’s & Lois’ Geraniums (Pelargoniums) on the deck, summer 2017

Every year, in early autumn, I cut back all fifteen to twenty of my geranium plants (Pelargoniums) and re-pot them, then bring them into the house to overwinter until the spring. Even though some gardeners look disdainfully on these plants, I love them! For one thing, they brighten up the deck, and in my mind, add a little Mediterranean colour to the garden. I inherited some of my geraniums from my Dad, and sister Lois, after they passed away, making my connection to these much-loved plants quite sentimental.  Pelargoniums are among the easiest plants to grow. They just have such a strong will to survive! Cuttings will root easily in a jar of water, with no problem.

As I mentioned in the first post entitled “Beautiful Elders—Sailing on an Uncharted Sea”, acceptance of changes is so important as we age.

Here’s a link to the original post:

https://joiedusoleil.wordpress.com/?s=Beautiful+Elders

Some changes we go through are of our own choosing, and some are forced upon us. Accepting what we are not in control of, or cannot change, is not easy, but does aid us in moving on with our lives. This is a quotation from Albert Einstein which surprised me:

I claim credit for nothing. Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as the star. Human beings, vegetables,or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.

–Albert Einstein, from: The Wisehart Interview, 1930

And Albert was a respected scientist! What a relief to think that we do not have to try to control everything! And what a relief that we can let go of some of the things we used to do.

The above quotation can be seen as stemming from Einstein’s determinism: the philosophical proposition that every event, decision and action is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. See:

http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_determinism.html

Don’t look back, you’re not going that way. (as in the title of this post)

–Mary Engelbreit

Dont Look Back

Illustration by Mary Engelbreit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Above photo is of a lovely & prolific climbing rose, name unknown. Spring, 2017.

The boulevard grass at our daughter’s place is gradually disappearing, being replaced with flowering herbs, perennials and vegetables. The bees love it, and so do we! People walking by on the sidewalk now see a changing “panorama” of greenery and blooms, all year long. Having a boulevard garden helps to create a feeling of community, providing the opportunity to talk with neighbours and others who happen to pass by when the gardener is out there working. And I get my exercise all during the growing season! I’m very grateful for the chance to work (play) in this great little garden!

All my hurts my garden spade can heal.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here’s how the boulevard garden is shaping up:

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Chives, Oregano, & Mint growing by the sidewalk. These easygoing herbs attract a multitude of bees, which are such valuable pollinators!

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Pinks, which have a gorgeous, spicy fragrance, and Creeping Charlie, despised by some gardeners, but appreciated by me for its ability to be a freely spreading ground cover, thus keeping out the weeds! As a bonus, Charlie has tiny mauve flowers in the spring, which to my eye are very pretty.

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Sage, blooming in June. I tucked this plant into a bed near the vegetable patch. Sage is such a strong plant, with amazingly “pungent” leaves!

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Newly built planter boxes…squash plants in this one. It’s surprising, and very gratifying, to see how much food can be grown once the grass is replaced with vegetable beds and boxes.

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Hosta blooms. This one is quite imposing!

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Canterbury Bells. (*see note below)

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Can anyone tell me, is this a butterfly on the Aster flower, or a moth? I’m guessing butterfly. Beautiful, isn’t it?

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And finally, a very welcome bumblebee on the Aster plant. The pollinators (all sorts of bees and butterflies) are attracted to these Asters, and to the flowering herbs, just around the corner of the boulevard.

***Please remember not to use insecticides, herbicides, or any genetically modified seeds or plants in your gardens! GMO’s contain hidden pesticides. All of these toxic products are causing drastic losses in the bee and  butterfly populations.  Without these wonderful insects, our ability to produce food will be greatly reduced.

I can enjoy flowers quite happily without translating them into Latin.

–Cornelia Otis Skinner

*Note: Me too, Cornelia! However, the Latin name for the Canterbury Bells pictured above, in case anyone wonders, is:

Campanula poscharskyana, (Serbian bellflower, trailing bellflower), a semi-evergreen trailing perennial. Native to the Dinaric Alps in former Yugoslavia, along the Western edge of the Balkan Peninsula.

Here it is, December 21st, 2017, the Winter Solstice, also known as Midwinter. And that’s a wrap for the 2017 Boulevard Garden Highlights!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Above Photo: Sea Kale (Crambe maritima), flowering in the Spring of 2017.

Sea Kale is a beautiful, hardy perennial which grows in poor soils, and is a commonly seen plant on the shingle beaches of southern England. On the coast of Kent (where my father’s family were market gardeners), it grows in the meager, sandy soil which lies underneath the “shingle”, or rocks, covering the beach. In our daughter’s front garden, the above plant provided an abundance of large, edible leaves all summer long. Similar in flavour to curly kale, the leaves are delicious and full of vitamins and minerals. Sea kale leaves can be torn up and added to soups and sauces,  gently stir fried with onion and garlic and a bit of added water, or simply steamed. Sea Kale is one of my very favourite plants!

In the garden beds, where the front lawn used to be, Nonno (Grandpa) grew a great variety of vegetables this past year. (see my previous blog post about the beginnings of this lawn conversion: “Urban Garden Harvest”, posted on October 6th, 2016):

https://joiedusoleil.wordpress.com/2016/10/06/urban-garden-harvest/

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Above photo: Spring 2017 Organic vegetable beds, where the front lawn used to be.

For all things produced in a garden, whether of salads or fruits, a poor man will eat better that has one of his own, than a rich man that has none.

–J.C. Loudon, 1783-1843, Scottish botanist and garden designer.

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Above: Snow Pea flower, Spring, 2017

This gardening adventure is taking place in our daughter’s front yard, and along the outer boulevard. She discovered the materials for this up-cycled greenhouse for free,  online and in the back lane. Our husbands designed and built it, with her input.

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Building this little greenhouse prevented the vintage windows from ending up in the landfill. Now that’s “sustainability”! Besides, I think it’s cute, and so original!

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Garlic Bed…we do use a lot of garlic in our family!

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Summer ’17 Vegetable Beds

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Raised veggie beds…no bending required here! Easier on the back.

During the summer of ’17, a neighbour walked by and asked, “Are you farming here?”

I laughed and replied, “Well yes we are, actually!” Organic farming all the way. No chemical fertilizers, no pesticides or herbicides, but lots of composted soil and good old-fashioned hand-watering, weeding and regular care by Nonno. What a bounty of delicious vegetables were harvested all summer long, and well into autumn as well.

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Veggies in afternoon shade.

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Tomatoes and Basil.

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Garden tomatoes & lettuce, (with dried cranberries added…:)

He who shares the joy in what he’s grown spreads joy abroad and doubles his own.

–Anonymous

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On Sunday, September 24th, 2017 my friend and I joined in with thousands of other people to take part in the Walk for Reconciliation, here in Vancouver. What an amazing, positive experience that was! And the sun shone, making it all the more amazing here on the “Wet Coast,” aka the West Coast of Canada.

For over 500 years the Indigenous People of North and South America (and all over the world, actually) have been shoved aside, downtrodden, frowned upon, stolen from, mistreated, and on goes the list of abuses they have suffered. Colonizers tried to make Indigenous People invisible, tried to actually get rid of them entirely, but they failed. The original people of these lands have not only survived, but they have kept their cultures alive and are working on keeping their languages alive as well. In fact, they are gaining in strength. Just look at these wonderful photographs of the Walk, from Reconciliation Canada:

http://reconciliationcanada.ca/walk-for-reconciliation-2017/thank-you-merci/

Two definitions for the word Reconciliation:

—the restoration of friendly relations;

—the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.

Here’s a link explaining more about Reconciliation Canada:

http://reconciliationcanada.ca/about/about-us/

The time has finally come for the true history of Canada to be taught in schools and learned by everyone. “Truth and Reconciliation,” the truth, that is, about residential schools, about what actually happened to the Indigenous People of Canada and about the loss of their lands. As Chief Robert Joseph, a survivor of the residential school system (where he spent eleven years away from his family as a child), said:

“Our future, and the well-being of all our children rests with the kind of relationships we build today.”—Chief Robert Joseph, Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation, and Co-founder of Reconciliation Canada.

Along with the Reconciliation process, there are so many complex and ongoing issues for all of us to learn about and try to understand: land claims, court cases, treaties, human rights, and questions around social justice.

RESPECT is key here, and learning to listen with open minds!

Hopefully, someday the First Nations of Canada will be on an equal footing with the Canadian government and the governments of other countries. Undoubtedly this will take time and a lot of work!

PLEASE NOTE: the photographs in the above link were not taken by me, but by:

reconciliationcanada.ca

 

 

 

 

 

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Lichen & Moss on Sycamore Maple tree branch, VanDusen Garden…July, 2017

(Sycamore Maple: Acer pseudoplatanus cv Atropurpureum)

About Lichens:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lichen

http://www.lichen.com/biology.html

Mosses & Lichens:

https://www.google.ca/search?q=Mosses+with+Lichens&lr=&as_qdr=all&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjotrCtlrLVAhXollQKHZ0HDeQQsAQIQg&biw=1247&bih=641#imgrc=qDdAtuP6nymVUM:

All of the above information for such a simple photograph! It is interesting to me, though, the symbiotic relationship between the tree, the lichens, and the mosses. All of them co-operating and supporting each other! If only humans could learn that lesson.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

—Albert Einstein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One of the places we love to visit on our “Urban Trekking” outings in Vancouver is the wonderful VanDusen Botanical Garden, located on Oak St., at West 37th Avenue.

At one time, all of what is now Vancouver was a rain forest, part of the Indigenous Musqueam Nation’s land. Then “the settlers” came, in the mid to late 1800’s, and the logging began. What is now the VanDusen “property” was turned into a golf course, but in 1975 the Vancouver Park Board took it over and created this beautiful 55 acre (22 hectare) botanical garden.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VanDusen_Botanical_Garden

http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/vandusen-botanical-garden.aspx

Recently we “trekked” there, and focused on trees and greenery, rather than specifically on flowers. Here are a few photos from that day:

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Sedums in bloom at entrance to gardens.

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Grasses blowing in the wind….

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Sedums growing on a huge boulder, with no soil! Beautiful.

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Golden Japanese Cedar tree. (Cryptomeria japonica “Sekkan-sugi”)

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Lilies…the white ones seem to have the loveliest fragrance…

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Trident Maple tree. (Acer buergerianum)

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Giant Sequoia tree, (Sequoiadendron giganteum), with Western Sword Fern (fern native to this area)

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Dalmatian Cranesbill (Geranium dalmaticum)

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Masterwort (Astrantia)

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Succulents in concrete containers on the patio.

“What was Paradise but a Garden?”

—William Coles

 

 

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sailboat

“Sailing Boat with Two Passengers”  (La Barque), 1900, Odilon Redon

Whoever said, “Old age is not for sissies” was certainly right! It struck me recently that living each day, especially during one’s senior years, is like sailing on an uncharted sea. This state of affairs makes life challenging, to say the least. And there’s nothing wrong with facing challenges!

I’ve decided to create a navigational story for myself, and am happy to share it with any of you (no matter what age you are) who are interested. This will be an ongoing project, appearing on my blog from time to time. The navigational entries will always be titled Beautiful Elders: Sailing on an Uncharted Sea.

“As we advance in life, it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.”

—Vincent van Gogh

van gogh

“Vincent van Gogh–Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat”, 1887

Each blog post will contain encouraging, sometimes humorous, and always positive ideas for those of us who are sailing on occasionally stormy seas, occasionally calm ones, and mostly uncharted waters.

For the past few years I have noticed that older people like me are seldom to be seen in much of the media, or even on the streets of my city. Many retirees, (including five of my friends!) have moved away from the city and over to Vancouver Island or to the Sunshine Coast. Living in those places is more peaceful and less expensive than it is in Vancouver.

As for the media, it is full of young stories, young faces, and young bodies. Is this what we are meant to aspire to? Or must we, as elders, become invisible? Must we try to appear younger than our actual years? So it appears!  Of course, keeping fit and healthy, and having good muscle tone is great. But, grey hair is beautiful. Accepting our ageing bodies with grace is wise and positive. And hopefully, our graceful acceptance sends a reassuring message to younger generations.

NOTE TO SELF: KEEP MOVING!

AND: “DON’T LET YESTERDAY OR TOMORROW TAKE UP TOO MUCH OF TODAY”. In other words, try to LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT. Easy to say, more difficult to practice!

“There is no peace that cannot be found in the present moment.”

—Tasha Tudor

Tasha Tudor

Tasha Tudor canoeing

In our present-day North American culture, whatever has happened to the concept of respecting the elders? In some cultures (bless them!), such as those of North and South American indigenous people, elders are revered even to this day. It used to be the norm to learn from the wisdom of older people, but in present day Western society, this idea seems to be rare.

However, there is hope! Here’s a quotation from a thirteen-year-old girl I know:

“In another time, being an elder would mean that you had survived. This society has become obsessed with a misconception of beauty that doesn’t include what is real.”

And remember:

“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.”

—Albert Einstein

Until next time, Pleasant Sailing!

 

 

 

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