A Good Home

Early July

I always say the best time in my garden is early-mid June. That’s when everything is lush and green, and the peonies, iris and other spring flowers are at their best.

But how could I forget the garden gifts of early July? The red bee balm, several shades of phlox, the clematis and hydrangea?

It’s a lovely time in our neck of the woods. As I sit on our back deck among the trees, overlooking the garden, I give thanks to God and Mother Nature for the privilege of the good weather (for a girl born and raised in Jamaica, I can’t stand blistering hot weather or pepper!), the Earth’s bounty and the privilege of living here.

And, of course, to my wonderful partner who also does the heavier gardening chores.

And for those of you who know my bad ways – yes, I am wearing my ragged old ivory-colour house robe and equally ragged Christmas slippers as I write this – honestly, I’m a disgrace to my stylish relatives and friends.

I hope the month is off to a good start and that you are keeping your spirits up despite all the bad news.

These days I have returned to a good habit from my worst post-accident years by counting and giving thanks for every blessing in my life, from family and friends to the ability to wash my hair and clean my kitchen. Nothing is taken for granted. Nothing.

My best wishes to you and yours,


A Good Home

Life’s Like That

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Life’s like that.

Luckily, most of those things have been good. Even the amaryllis bulbs I forgot in the cold room are now blooming, 6 months after their intended bloom date at Christmas.

But let’s just get the bad thing out of the way then move on, shall we? Renewing my insurance policy, I learned that my rate would be almost double again (translation: several thousand dollars more a year starting shortly), because of the injuries from the car accident well over a decade ago.

The great irony is that the other insurance company has yet to compensate me for those injuries, pain and a huge loss of income caused by the accident.

But here’s the good news, the kind I add to the list of blessings to thank God for:

First, we are enjoying a period where my immediate family members are fairly healthy. With four generations, that’s not to be taken for granted.

Speaking of 4 generations, my mother-in-law came to spend a couple days with us – a rare treat since the Covid pandemic started. At my request, she showed me how she makes Jamaican Ackee and Codfish. It tasted way better than my version – of course!

My husband – who likely got his talent from her – is the chef in the family. So there he was, complaining (though secretly pleased) that we were crowding him in his kitchen, because everyone decided to help to make supper. Even The GrandToddler, on the floor with her dad, made a dish with eggplant slices and “sprinkles” – her word for seasoning.

Co-author Lauren and I took part in an authors festival and met such lovely children, parents, educators and librarians. Conversations were interesting and fun too.

Our friends invited us along to the annual Port Hope Garden Tour, which was a pleasure. We saw only a few of the gardens because of my limpy right leg, but what a thrill it was to see other people’s gardens!

Early June is also a great time in my own garden. As you may notice, we have only perennials because I’m too lazy to plant annuals or dig many weeds. Planting them close together also blocks out weeds – either that, or they’re hidden from my view!


And as I write, a rose-breasted grosbeak is trying to get in through my closed window – s/he is pecking at it, mouth open, as if trying to speak. (They see their reflection and think it’s another bird invading their territory, the experts say.)

I like these birds. They make such a beautiful sound. Unfortunately, it flew away when I grabbed my camera.

Wherever you are, I wish you good health and peace.


A Good Home

Does a Bear Poo in the Woods?

As you know, I try to hold on to a shred or two of dignity. I’m not claiming it works all the time, but my self-image is of a woman with a fair amount of well-behavedness.

But as you may recall, I also have a grandtoddler. And therein lies an ever developing tale, as I am reminded – daily – of the ways in which children develop, and what is required of parents and grandparents.

Why did no-one remind me of the small undignified acts required of a good grandmother? Take the matter of poo-ing.

A very private matter, as you well know. Most people pretend we don’t do it, and they definitely don’t talk about it. So pooing is not the kind of thing one invites others to partake in.

Unless you’re a toddler.

I have lost count of the many times in recent weeks I have been invited to “poo” alongside The GrandToddler. Worse, sometimes I have to pretend that I am actually doing so.

The first time she asked, I sat on the floor beside her, at a complete loss. But you should have seen the sweet, innocent little face, looking up to mine as if this was the most natural thing to ask her grandmother.

So what was I to do?

I felt embarrassed, and my first efforts didn’t impress her at all. In fact, each time, she regarded me as if to say: “Is this the best you can do?” I could see she was running out of patience.

Nothing worked till I came up with an exaggerated version of a bear lumbering toward her then stopping suddenly to stoop and poo in the woods.

That did it. She laughed, happy as all get-out.

But you see my dilemma. Today it’s the pooing thing. Tomorrow? Who knows?

As you can guess (indignities aside), I am fully enjoying the experience of grandparenting. I understand that besotted look on other grandparents’ faces, the giggles that sometimes burst out as they describe the little ones’ antics.

But no-one warned me about the pooing part. What else are my parent and grandparent friends hiding from me, I wonder?

A Good Home

The Unpredictable Jelly

The thing about making jelly is

It’s a risky thing.

The experience is unpredictable.

Blog Photo - Jelly Currants in Pot

One minute you have a spoon in your hand

Stirring the sticky liquid in the pot

Staring at the smooth surface

Wondering when it will gel


Without warning, you find yourself 

Thinking about your worries

Worrying about your thoughts

Forgetting the jelly

Blog Photo - Jelly in Pot

Frothing to the rim of the pot

Gathering strength and density

Liquid thoughts like a substance

Which may or may not gel


Next, you’re in a meditation room

Listening to a voice say:

Don’t analyze your thoughts

Let them go. Let them pass

Blog Photo - Jelly Jar Double Mint

Thoughts are thoughts, not facts

Do not stop to judge them

Or be worried by them

Let them float out of your mind


If your back or arm aches

Or someone has hurt you

Don’t dwell on those thoughts

Let them pass, and float away


I return to the liquid on the stove

Just before the jelly boils over

Because making jelly requires this much:

My total attention.

Blog Photo - Jelly pouring into jars

Making jelly is a meditation

On the liquid in the pot, swirling

As my thoughts darken and thicken

And bubble and froth their way to the top


Did I say thoughts? I meant jelly

But maybe I meant thoughts

Thoughts are not facts! the jelly says

Let them go while you stay here

Blog Photo - Jelly Jars many

Watch me boil and swirl and stir, and boil

And swirl and swell, making bubbles.

You are here, the jelly says

So be here. Be present with me


So you stir and watch and wait

For that final moment

When the liquid becomes

That thick,  sweet, slow-moving gel.

Blog - Red Current Jelly in Jars

The thing about making jelly is

It’s a strange thing

The journey is unpredictable.