A Good Home, Cold weather dreams of gardening, Garden

Ciaran’s Irish Garden

It’s February and a gardener’s thoughts turn to spring.

Not because we expect it any time soon – this is Ontario, Canada, after all — but because it’s at least another two months before flowers start popping up from the soil.

So – courtesy of Twitter — I head to Ciaran de Buitlear’s garden in the south of Ireland where flowers are already blooming.

Blog Photo - Ciaran garden - Hellebores spotted

In fact, Ciaran’s first crocus bloomed weeks ago, while we in the frozen north were enjoying snowdrifts, and I got a serious case of garden envy. 

Blog Story - Ciaran first Crocus - Spring has officially sprung

Then came the daffodils and hellebores.

Blog Story - Ciaran Daffodils blooming

Ciaran says he loves gardening in part because it’s “very different to the day job of working with databases in the cloud for large insurance companies.  I think gardening is very Zen.   It is like a meditation but without the stillness, and also gets you fit (and there are flowers).”

Blog Story - Ciaran Early Spring flowers

His love of gardening began in childhood.

“I gardened as a small child with my mother.  I only recalled this recently when I saw episodes of BBC ‘Gardeners World’ nearly 50 years old.  I remembered watching them with my parents as a small child.”  

Ciaran is passing on his garden love to his own children. While his partner Fiona “does not have green fingers”, sons Zack and Sam love to help out in the garden. 

Blog Story - Ciaran's son Zack will grow sunflowers, carrots etc

“They do weeding, grow plants from seed, like to make things out of wood for the garden.  Zack can spend hours in the garden helping me. Sam is 11 now and can get more stuck into computer games than the garden sometimes but he still does help from time to time.”

Blog Story - Ciaran and Fiona sons reading 

The family’s garden is not huge, but it’s prolific. Last fall alone, Ciaran planted 500 bulbs around this tree.

Blog Story - Ciaran garden - just planted 500 bulbs

He grows many favourite plants.

Blog Story - Ciaran ferns

“I love ferns — freshness, greenness, kind of other worldliness, they are so magnificent in spring.

Blog Story - Ciaran Japanese maples

“Japanese maples – they look great from up close and far away.  The leaf detail, different colours and textures of foliage, the way they act as foils for other plants.”

Pots are also filled with spring flowers:

Blog Story - Ciaran Spring flowers in 3 pots

And there’s a greenhouse to help protect tender plants till it’s time to put them out in the garden.

Blog Story - Ciaran Greenhouse 2

As gardeners know, it all takes work, but a garden is a gift that keeps on giving.

Blog Story - Ciaran and garden supplies

The hellebores are blooming in different colours.

Blog Photo - Ciaran garden - Hellebores deep red

But in the weeks ahead,  hosta will unfurl, hardy geranium will bloom, flowering vines will put on a  show, as will the roses in the de Buitlears’ garden.

“You can never have enough roses, all kinds (but not the ones you have to spray).  I treat them well, feed the soil with well-rotted manure every year. If they do not thrive, I yank them out (this rarely happens).  Long flowering season, lovely blooms, use as cut flowers, colours!

“Then there are coneflowers, rudbeckia, agapanthus, allium… I could go on and on and on…   I guess I am a plantaholic.”

Aren’t we all? Thanks for sharing your garden, Ciaran. It brightens up a northern gardener’s soul. 

 

 

A Good Home, Author Interview, Authors

Taking Control – Stephanie Guerilus

I’d like you to meet American writer Stephanie Guerilus.

I enjoyed her articles online but didn’t know she was also a novelist till I came across her book cover. So, being a nosy person, I asked her some questions! 

Q1: Are novels your main form of writing?

As a journalist, I’m always writing and editing. It’s second nature at this point but my novels allow me the freedom to let my imagination soar.

In the era of “fake news”, I’m more aware than ever that credibility can easily be lost and so I try to always present the best possible work. 

Blog Photo - Stephanie Guerilus' book cover

Q2: What inspired this story?

I’m a big fan of Mariah Carey and so I decided to write a story about a biracial singer, Theresa Marie Jenkins. Aspects of my life began to form around that idea.

I’m a survivor of sexual abuse and I really wanted others who have experienced the same, especially girls and teenagers, to know that there’s no such thing as the perfect victim. Your body is yours alone.

Speaking of Mariah Carey, I was able to meet the elusive chanteuse and place Control in her hands. In the immortal words of Whitney Houston, that was a moment quite pleasing. I waited in the cold for almost six hours and was sick for almost two months later but I met her.

Blog Photo - Stephanie Guerilus - on meeting Mariah Carey

I’d love to meet Janet Jackson since her song Control inspired the title and overall theme of the novel. Reesa Jenkins is 17 years old, battling for control of her life and agency.

Q3: How did you become a writer and what do you hope readers will take away from your novel?

I’ve been writing ever since I was a kid. I had my dolls, notebook and would create stories for them. Sometimes, I’d spy on the arguments in the house and write a report on it as if I were Lois Lane on deadline. That same energy is present in my novel.

It may not be perfect and in many ways, I don’t even want it to be. You always struggle with your first baby and learn. I hope that each word written makes people think, not just about the plot but how it mirrors real life and if they can make a difference.

Q4: Is the protagonist at all like the younger you?

I sprinkled parts of my personality into the four central characters and fleshed them out.

Reesa is a dreamer, marches forward, ready to be a trailblazer and has that Aries fire in her. She’s a creative creature like I am.  Stephanie is woke, small but has the power of dynamite and is a writer. (Yeah, I blatantly put myself in the novel).

Candy is sweet and ready to be the first person to help out a friend. Chanté loves her gossip and is just trying to figure it out. 

Blog Photo - Stephanie Guerilus

Q5: What kind of writing or topics are you most passionate about?

I’m very passionate about marginalized communities being given a voice and (about) diversity in newsrooms. It’s important that stories of African Americans and other groups are told by those who have lived experiences.

It angers me to see women, especially Black women, cast aside in narratives. I’m one of the daughters of Ida B. Wells and have the blood of Haitians who fought for their independence. It’s just not in my spirit to not become animated when I see injustice unfolding. We’re not free until everyone is.

Q.6: What are your hopes and dreams as a writer?

I want to be able to know that I made an impact, that my words helped make a difference. Of course, I want to be a best selling author and create a literary empire that allows me a greater platform. Everyday, I’m working towards that goal.

For now, iron sharpens iron. Whatever I’ve been through has fortified me in this moment. There used to be a time I couldn’t even talk about my abuse, much less put that scar into words.

I’ve taken control of my own story.

~~

Brava, Stephanie! Thank you.

~~

To buy “Control” or learn more about Stephanie:

Paperback:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/198091592X

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HYGFLV8

Website:  https://stephanieguerilus.com/

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/sguerilus/

 

A Good Home

The Planet of Baby

It’s a whole new planet.

Blog Photo - Baby swing2

Baby Land.

A land where Grandbaby rules supreme.

Blog Photo - Baby bassinet and car seat in dining room

A land of baby bassinets, bibs and bouncers —

Yes, bouncers. As I write, I’m using my left foot to gently rock the grandbaby in a ‘bouncer’. 

My foot and I practiced beforehand. You need to be gentle.

Blog Photo - Baby bouncer and my left foot2

Now, you may remember that I’m an un-domestic goddess – ghastly at all the fine arts of homemaking and mistress of the messy home office. But one thing gave me pride: the rest of my house was usually tidy.

Blog Photo - Baby story tidy living room

Well, not anymore! 

Every room of our house – including this once-gleaming glass-topped coffee table — is punctuated with baby things!

Blog Photo - Baby mat and mobile on coffee table

Bedroom, livingroom, kitchen, bathroom, everywhere…

Blog Photo - Baby bath in bathroom

Stuff the parents bought (like the activity mat 2 photos above), but mostly stuff they were given by kind family and friends (like this baby bathtub above and the high chair, below).

Blog Photo - Baby high chair in kitchen

Stuff she won’t use for another few months.

And stuff I didn’t even know existed.

Goodbye, tidy house! Hello, sweet baby!  

Blog photo - Baby read a story by mother

Our family couldn’t be happier.

A Good Home

Stereotyping Streams

 

We talk about rushing rivers

Torrential downpours

Majestic waterfalls

~~

Big weighty words, shouting

Their heft and might

Announcing powerful actions

Blog Photo - Creek longshot
Credit: L Reyes-Grange

And then there’s the stream

And its usual adjectives

Timid, tepid, placid words

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Meandering

Winding

Gurgling

Lapping

Blog Photo - Stream closest

As if time has no meaning

To streams; no urgency

No agency or power

~~

Blog Photo - Creek CU 2020

Come into my garden now

Behold the churning water below

Torrential, fast-moving, loud

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Blog Photo - Stream furious 2

Save your gentle words, writer

Bring out the fierce and furious ones

My stream deserves no less.

~~