A Good Home, Family, Family birthdays, Family Moments, Flowers, Gratitude, Relationships, Sisters


Today is my younger sister’s birthday, and these flowers are for her.


Blog Photo - Flowers for Sister Yellow Lily

I was the older sister, and for most of our lives, the more accomplished. She looked up to me, as I looked up to our older sisters.

Blog Photo - Garden lace 6

But for some time now, I’ve been the one who’s looked up to her.

My little sister has quietly become one of my heroes.

Blog Photo - Flowers for Sister White Daisy

She’s overcome many painful challenges.

Her marriage dissolved.

She went back to school while the children were still young. Went back to earn new qualifications that would pay the bills.

She raised her three sons, mostly on her own. Three beautiful young men.

Today she’s also a loving grandmother of two.

Blog Photo - flowers for Sister Yellows 1My sister’s faith and optimism are a joy to behold.

I’ve leaned on that strong faith in recent years. Hers and my other siblings’.

Through frequent phone calls from the U. S., where she lives, my younger sister has helped keep me afloat during tough times.

Blog Photo - Flowers for Sister - Single MG

She talked to me at times when I couldn’t even hold a conversation.

Over and over, she called. Encouraging. Assuring me that there would be brighter tomorrows.

Blog Photo - Flowers for Sister Yellow primroses

But it’s what she’s done for others that’s moved me most profoundly over these several years. 

She established scholarships — in our parents’ names — for children from poor families in the Jamaican countryside where we once lived. She started with two – twin girls – providing money for their high school fees and other expenses.

Blog Photo - Flowers for Sister Red Bee Balm

Then she asked the rest of us to contribute if and when we could.

Today, those scholarships have helped 8 young people. All of them are bright children from poor families – much poorer than we were.

My sister delights in their progress.

Blog Photo - Last Orange Lily

And she never lets the rest of us forget that through these scholarships, we are changing lives.

Helping others to get an opportunity that changed our own lives.

An education.

Painting by Muriel Mason
Painting by Muriel Mason

Happy birthday, Jackie.

And thank you. 

God bless.

A Good Home, Flowers, Garden, Homes, Lifestyle, Nature, Photographs


It had all started so innocently.  In the dead of winter — a drab, colourless Canadian winter like this one that drives people to drink, or to think of drink. But what’s a non-drinker to do?

It was then that I bought my first such magazine, and began my days and nights of sin.

Blog Photo - Red Rose 003

And now I have become a dirty old woman, the female version of the dirty old man who hides certain magazines between the mattress and the box spring.

In airports or train stations, I hover in front of magazine racks, feasting my eyes upon luscious centrefolds.

And there it is:  Beauty. Naked to the eye.

Blog Photo - Tomato

My heart beats faster.  When no-one is looking, I grab the magazine and head to the cashier.

If asked, I claim that I buy them for the stories.  And do my best to keep a straight face as I tell this whopper. Truth be told?  I rarely read the stories.  It’s all about the pictures.

But I am a very responsible leader in a very responsible organization. So – if travelling with a  colleague,  I may also buy a camouflage – one of those overly-serious magazines about overly-serious things.

Blog Photo - Daylily Pink

“Pornography for us older fellas”, my friend Les once called it.  Momentarily startled by this blunt assessment, I giggled nervously, sure he could read the guilt on my face.

But I know of what he speaks.  Oh, how well I know.

At home, and afraid of my husband’s scoffing reaction (“Another of those things?”) I hide the magazine under my robe and head to the bathroom.  In the tub,  I open the magazine and am immediately transported — to the land of fantasy.

Blog Photo - Red Poppy

Behold the beauties. The undulating curves representing the hills and valleys of my shameful desire.  Beauties of every shape and colour imaginable, originating in exotic places such as South Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Thailand.

I inhale deeply, imagining myself breathing in their heady perfume.

Blog Photo - Yellow Iris

Now intoxicated, swept away by their beauty, I am drowning, unable or unwilling to put up any resistance. Then someone knocks on the bathroom door.  Before I can hide the magazine, it falls into the soapy warm water.  My disappointment is palpable.

Blog Photo - CU Pink Poppy

In recent years, I have been tempted to break the addiction.   One year, as my resolution for Lent,  I even packed the magazines  in a box and gave them away.

But the path to damnation is littered with good intentions.  As I endure this  Canadian winter — the days of shortened sunlight or none at all,  the feeling of being trapped indoors for months at a time – my good intentions fall by the wayside.

And off I go again, to buy yet another gardening magazine.

These beautiful photographs are by Hamlin Grange.

** N.B. I wrote this many years ago when I was a very serious senior journalist at Canada’s public broadcaster, but never published it.  On this winter day, I’m dedicating it to everyone who’s ever had an addiction to gardens or garden magazines.