Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Of a Lee Valley Origin.

We gardened Sunday and Monday night (after D. got home from work).

I had two days in a row off! The shocker of it all to my system. I was restless Monday morning not knowing what to do with myself so I ran 10k. That settled me down. Fortunately, I went early enough before the wall of heat descended on the city. The heat and then the whoville transit workers were up to some shenanigans stopping all service. People were on roller blades and biking and walking and very grumpy. I'm glad I didn't have to go to work that day.

back to the garden.
It's so easy for me to digress.

After we finished raking the soil, laying down the mulch and pinning it in place, transplanting our seedlings and watering, I started to note how our garden could be a game of "how many L.V. products do you see in this photo?" The photo would be here if I wasn't working with a computer from the last century (or if my sister was back in whoville and I could upload photos ad nauseum on her computer)! How many Lee Valley items can you fit into a small garden, you ask?
Well, try to top this.
*keep in mind that I don't know the exact dimensions of our urban garden, but it is small).

So here's what I've discovered to be of L.V. origin:

The seed starter kit I used to plant a feed seeds in the peat pellets.
When we turned the soil the week prior to planting I couldn't have used the spade without my gripper gloves. We also pruned the mulberry tree quite extensively. D. climbs up the tree with his trusty folding saw that works on the pull strokes. He also took the loppers, although I'm not sure L.V. carries ours anymore. While D. was up in the tree dropping branches onto the ground, I sharpened up my leftie felcos using the sharpening tool that my sister bought a couple of years back. Then I went to work breaking down the branches. We bundled everything up and any loose leaves we collected in our pop up garden bag
We rested a week and then got back at it this Sunday past. After laying down our cedar mulch walkway, we started to plan where we'd place our transplants. We lay out our red mulch that we've used for the last five years for our tomatoes with much success and much less weeding. It even saves on water since we raise the mulch up so the water runs into the plants and doesn't just sit atop the mulch attracting the dreaded mosquito. We pinned the mulch into place using the fabric pins. We transplanted the tomatoes using a wonderful tool that I haven't actually seen in a while for planting bulbs. It cores out a section of soil and holds the soil until you dump it out. It's really quite wonderful. The tool belongs to my sister and looks quite old. i'd love to get one for myself when we move. I also threw in some sunburst zucchini seeds, early white bush scallop zucchini seeds, and mini cucumber seeds that I really enjoyed last year. I covered these areas with the garden cloches. We'll see if this helps the seedlings or not. After carefully placing our transplants into their new homes, we watered generously filling our watering can from the hose with the spray nozzle going and added a little of the Wegener's fertilizer that we've also been using for many years now. Great stuff and lasts a good long time. I also inserted some aqua spikes that I call "carrots" since that's what they look like. I bought some more today to cover as many plants as possible because they really are handy for watering when we seem to be getting more long stretches of these hot humid days. Last year we had blossom rot on our tomatoes and I'm not doing that again.
I continued puttering while D. hooked up the rain barrel, which is actually a discontinued item from L.V. so I'm glad we got it when we did. This year however, I've decided that I'm only going to use collected rain water for the perennial garden and water the veggies with tap water. The reason? Acid rain. Sure we get rainfall, but I'd rather put some "fresher" water into the veg with the Wegeners than add more chemical crap. I know I know it's probably a losing battle living in smogville but...I also like watering with the hose when needed. D. had some trouble with the rain barrel only because the eavestrough was so mucky, no water could get through. He cleaned it out (god bless him) and plopped in the gutter siphon. We've had this for a few years and never used it. Makes no sense I know.

Our final chore for Sunday was to put some copper blocker around the sweet mamoth basil since slug particularly like that plant. However, we only did a small section since I'm waiting to see if the slugs appear since we had so few last year compared to previous years when the decimated the hostas. D. did the ol' beer in a aluminum pan trick so they could die a happy death and boy was D. busy emptying those traps. I sincerely believe that because D. considerably reduced the slug population that year, they haven't been as abundant.

That was Sunday.

Monday we erected our homemade fence that D. made from old hockey sticks (before there were composite sticks) and plastic "chicken wire". We watered again.

Today, I did a little watering after work using the coil hose that we started using last year once we attached the brass quick release couplers. I also noticed how much easier it is to change nozzles now that we have the zinc shut off valve where the two hoses connect. I don't have to go up and down the stairs anymore to shut off the tap. Very handy.

Phew! I'm sure I missed something. Please keep in mind that we've accumulated these things over the last six years of veggie gardening.

Oh did I mention that I did all of my gardening in my holey soles?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A born cater waiter?

More double shifts. As the week wears on I'm starting to feel a little...well you know.

LV in the morning and until late afternoon. Then I was on my bike to the next shift in someone's massive home in Who-dale. The cocktail parties at this time of year seem to be for an older crowd, a more elderly group. Working so frequently, they seem to blur together and I'm constantly reminded of my grandmother's parties at her house in Fredericton. She seemed to have many parties for whatever reason. I was a shy child and I dreaded these events because I would be expected to take coats and pass hors d'ouevres. How little things have changed. Her guests were conservatively dressed, the men in suits and the women in pant suits or sensible skirts with blouses, decorated with a simple brooch. Most guests would interact with me and ask about my school or my visit with Grandmother.
Up the stairs I would heft men's overcoats and perfumed furs. I'd lay them out on the bed and then would take direction from Grandmother on what to do next. There was always a table full of food, but some of the food had to be passed. I hated passing hors d'ouevres because of my shyness. The women thought it cute to see me with a plate of sandwiches making the rounds in the living room and would comment or say something sweet to me. Anything that drew more attention to me made it worse.
Just as I love the end of a party now, I loved it then. I felt free when the last coat was returned to a guest and I feel that way now.
I wonder what Grandmother would think of the work I'm doing now. She'd be proud. She was always proud of whatever I chose to do.
I'm glad she got to meet D. We made a point of going to Fredericton to visit her. It was a wonderful visit. I'm sure I've written about it before. I have such fond memories of my grandmother and especially of that visit with her.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Gnocchi Verde & Coming Attractions

From Nonna's Italian Kitchen Cookbook we successfully made gnocchi verde. While I made the Tofu ricotta (silken tofu, ground raw cashews, and lemon juice), D. prepped the spinach that was finely chopped and added to the tofu ricotta with some flour and blended together. The dough is pretty sticky so you have to refrigerate it for a bit before working with it again. We made the dumplings. D. cooked them in boiling water and then you bake them for 15 minutes with some oil before serving. D. made a classic Sunday tomato sauce with mushrooms and topped the gnocchi. I felt spoiled. It was very delicious.

It's been a food fantastic long weekend. This morning after my run we had a large brunch. Needing to fuel up with a hearty meal prior to gardening, I made potato latkes to go with our beans in tomato sauce, toast and D. had vegan sausage. The latkes turned out pretty well. It was a nice change. The breakfast gave us all we needed to finish pruning the mulberry tree, weed, and till the soil. I also cleaned up one side of the stone pathway that was starting to look like a lawn it was so overgrown. The mulberry tree was quite a feat. D. climbs up into the tree (a good 8 - 10 feet off the ground) and saws away at the larger branches. It was a successful year for pruning and D. feels like he finally got to get at some of those branches that have been plaguing him for years. Now our tomatoes will get more hours of sunshine. Yay!

The Upcoming Week in Whoville:
More days at L.V.
Catering on my day off from L.V.
Run, run, run.
I'm also reading a script and preparing a report for the writer. For those of you that don't know screenwriting and film is the reason I came to whoville. I studied at Who U for five years. I spent one year as a teaching assistant reading scripts and working with student writers. This education culminated in my completion of my own feature length script/thesis. It's one of the things I love to do. So I am more than happy to have been "hired" to do what I love to do.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Vegan Delights -- Asparagus & Lemon Risotto

It comes as no surprise that I have food on the brain. It's the free time I've had this week that gives rise to my urge to create, cook and bake.

The catering slowed to a mere one gig this past week. I suspect this is due to the long weekend and people heading out of town to open up their "cottages" (quotes here are referring to the misuse of the noun since many of these rural dwellings are luxury homes with more amenities than most homes in whoville). The one catering job I did work further inspired me to cook because of the sad state of the food I had to serve. What a pleasure to come home and have a beautifully cooked meal full of flavour and made with care.

So...when i did have a little extra time I took a browse through my new veg slow cooker book (even though I told myself I was going to wait until I got my own slow cooker. I've been using my sister's occasionally mostly to do cereals. I had boxed it up again to return to her, but I pulled it out once more when I came across a chili recipe with corn and chive dumplings cooked in the last 40 minutes of the process. I was really pleased with how it turned out. D. was concerned that it couldn't be chili without ground round or tofu, but I assured him that many of my previous chilis had neither. However, in a last minute feeling of uncertainty I added a bit of Yves veggie ground round to bulk up the chili.

The verdict? D's brother arrived in town and joined us for dinner. Everyone enjoyed the chili. So I'd say it is a keeper. I also enjoyed making dinner in the afternoon when I got home from work and then having the rest of my evening to enjoy. The dumplings were awesome. They're a simple recipe of cornmeal, flour, chives, frozen thawed corn, baking powder and soy milk that you mix until just combined and then drop into the slow cooked chili to cook. Delicious.

Next in the slow cooker: tamari almonds. I've tried various methods of oven cooking tamari almonds, and with some success. This is a shorter timed slow cooked recipe and I needed to be around in order to stir every now and then. The result on this one is very tasty almonds but next time I would omit the tbls of oil since I don't like oily nuts. They're not super oily, but there is enough of a sheen to bother me. So next time I'll play with the recipe.

While the almonds were slow cooking in another part of the kitchen, I made my favorite risotto dish: asparagus and lemon risotto. We got some local asparagus in our organic fresh box this week. Usually D. puts it on the pizza but the stalks were too large for pizza so we saved it for another dish. Here's my recipe (which I essentially got from Linda McCartney's cookbook and made it my own).

Asparagus & Lemon Risotto

1 tbls ex virg. olive oil
1 1/2 cups of carnaroli rice (I prefer this over arborio -- it seems to be creamier)
1 bunch of asparagus cleaned, ends broken off, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
zest and juice of 1 organic lemon.
4 cups of veggie stock (or more as needed -- I find this does depend on the rice)
1/4 cup of white wine or white vermouth for deglazing.
salt and pepper.

In a medium sized pot keep the veggie stock warm over a low heat. Add the discarded aparagus ends to the stock for extra asp. flavour.
In another medium sized pot (one with a heavy bottom) heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the rice and stir, cooking the rice slightly (about 2-3 minutes).
Add the wine or vermouth and continue stirring until the wine cooks off (it evaporates and lifts any of the stuck rice and starches from the bottom of the pot).
Add 1 cup of the warmed veggie stock (keep the discarded asparagus ends out of the rice --this was just to flavour the stock afterall -- and continue stirring until the liquid is absorbed.
Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time and continue stirring. Keep stirring.
After 10 minutes of total cooking time, add the asparagus pieces and the lemon zest.
Guess what? Continue stirring.
Continue adding the stock. Test your rice for doneness (it will be al dente and have a very creamy consistency). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice.
Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped basil if you like or another herb of your choice.

Tonight we're making spinach gnocchi with tofu ricotta from Nonna's Kitchen another new vegan cookbook we're delving into.

I'll take pictures, but until I have an update browser that can load them onto my blog I won't be able to post for now. You'll just have to use your imagination and wait for future posts when I can put up the photos.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Run Vegan Run part two

6:30 am
We leave the house. D. wears his 98.4% chimp shirt. We're fifteen minutes later than we'd aimed for, but I think we'd aime for 6:15 because I'm notoriously late. I sip my water.

7:00 am
D. turns the car around because we've overshot our desitination in Mississauga. After turning around and driving all of 500 meters we're at a standstill. Now what? I sip my water.

7:15 am
We're still waiting. We've barely moved. A driver in the next lane motions to us to roll down the window. When D. does, he says "where are we going to park once we get in there?" D. says "We're new at this too. I'm not worried about parking right now." I can see the start line from the car, but I can't see any movement of traffic. Runners are walking along the street, across the overpass for the 403 highway. Should I do the same? I also need the port-o-johnny after all that hydrating.

7:20 am
I've attached my timing chip to my shoe and my bib to my Fauna Sanctuary shirt. D. and I both think it's best that I get out now and run to the start line. I zip up my jacket (it's a bit chilly and windy out there) and kiss D. goodbye. We'll see each other again along the route somewhere. I'm glad that I've gotten out am am now jogging over the highway to the parking lot near the start line. It feels good to run a little and get some of the jitters out.

7:35 am
I take off my warm up clothes and tag them for the baggage check. The volunteers are abundant and extremely helpful. There are runners everywhere. There must be thousands.

7:40 am
I get in the longest line ever for a port-o-jonny. Runners are scattered over the adjacent field, bypassing the port-o-jonnies, choosing instead to water anywhere they can. This is tempting and I hear the woman behind me tell her partner that she's going to head behind that brick building. She hops the fence and wades through the tall grass. Should I head for the field? How long will I be in line? The field seems so open. I'm such a shy person. I can see the backends of women crouching under trees. I decide to keep waiting.

7:50 am
Still in line. The main line breaks into mini line ups for each port-o-jonny. I try to pick one with the most men in line, but it's mostly women. I guess the men went for the field. I strike up a conversation with two women ahead of me running the half marathon as well. They've been running together for five years and do a race every year together. Their sons started kindergarten together and that's how they met. They have run this race before. One woman tells me that the finish line is deceptive. It looks closer than it is because you actually weave around the lake before getting to the finish line. I make a mental note.

7:55 am
The women and I wish each other good luck and I'm one person away from my port-o-jonny turn.

7:59 am
I run away from the port-o-jonny's. I can hear the end of the national anthem as I run across the grass to the road that is cordoned off with fenced in runners. I'm about midway down the pack when the gun goes off. I pick an opening and wait to join the walk through the start.

8:03 am
There's a friendly jack russell terrier in his owner's arms. The dog tries to kiss all those that pass him. He's very cute. I'm in the pack and we walk forward. As I near the start line I begin to trot a little. I can see the tsn cameras overhead and I wave as I go through the start line. I forget to look up and check the time of my start.

8:05 am
I remember to start my stop watch. I must already be a minute into my run. I go slow. Everyone is passing me and I have to resist the urge to bolt and run as fast as my adrenalin wants me to go.

The first water station is an indication that I've already gone 2 km. I decide not to stop at every water station. I tell myself that I don't train this way so why should I slow down now to drink? I do need the port-o-jonny again though. I'm okay for a bit. There's the 2:10 pace bunny! I don't want anything to do with her. I want to finish in 2 hours. She's running a good pace though. She stops to walk for a minute. I pick up a little pace, but I really want to keep my first hour slow because I know how hard the end will be. Or do I?

Running along the big stretch of Burnhamthorpe road is not as inclined as I thought. D. was right again. I worried for nothing. My achilles aches a little, but it's like a memory pain, faint, familiar. Crossing over the Credit River is beautiful. It's lush everywhere. I move to the outside so I can see the water rushing below. The tree tops are swaying quite a bit. I try not to think about the big hill after Dundas on Mississauga road. I try not to think about how windy the Lakeshore will be today. I try not to think about how much I want to run faster and tell myself it's the adrenalin. My achilles has stopped hurting and I feel completely warmed up. I decide to leave the cotton Fauna shirt on until the halfway mark. I've got a moisture wick shirt on underneath. I am warm though.

Mostly I hear voices of people conversing and lots of breathing rhythms. We round the corner onto Mississauga road. There is a gentle incline and we're mostly downhill again. I stop for water. I grab gatorade by mistake and then find the water, but only sip a little. I check my time because I'm eager for the 45 minute mark when I can have my first energy gel. I'm all nerves so I focus on my 3:2 breathing with each footstep. I take in the scenery as much as possible. I people watch. Conversation snippiets I hear, "I'm sorry to hear about all your troubles, but look you're hear now and racing." "How'd you get ahead of us, Dave?" "I saw you stop at the last water station, but I kept going." "Happy Mother's day all you mothers. You're looking great!" "Just keep your pace and you'll be fine."

The varying strides, paces and styles are astounding. I can pick out the marathoners. They're leaner with muscle defined calves that just stand out in the pack. There's a woman who has been biking ahead on her bike and then stopping to cheer us on with a small cow bell. I'm glad to see her. She's really encouraging. All the spectators are encourgaing with their homemade signs, pom poms, noise makers, boom boxes and shouts of encouragement.

We're already at the U of T Mississauga campus loop. It's lovely. It's downhill through a tree-lined narrow stretch of road. I can't wait and reach in my back pocket for the enegy gel. I have picked the strawberry. It's very warm from my body heat, but it's really good too. Up a slight hill and we turn to the campus exit. A woman marathoner walks along the side with her family. I wonder what has happened to her. She doesn't look in any sort of pain. Then, I see D. He's got his L.V. hat on and is waving. I wave. I'm so happy to see him and he's one of the few people in this stretch. He asks how I am and I slow a little. He runs a little ways with me. He takes photos. I give him my empty gel package and wave farewell. He's motivated me to get through to the end. I can't wait to see him at the end.

I reach the 10 km mark just at the top of a small hill. I'm over the time I wanted, but I'm okay. I stop at the port-o-jonny and wait with two other women. There's music playing, "I Will Survive." We dance and sing along. One woman ducks behind the port-o-jonny foregoing the wait. I don't wait long. I tuck my Fauna shirt in my shorts and I'm back on the road with a cup of water rehydrating. There's that 2:10 pace bunny. She must have passed me while I took my break. I pass her and pick up my pace. There's no way I'm doing 2:10. Where is the 2 hour pace bunny? I haven't seen him since the start. I can't worry about that now though. I've got a ways to go.

The sleepy neighbourhood is lovely. There are spectators along the way, but it's mostly treelined and quiet. I see a young boy running with headphones on. He must be no more than 13 years old. The back of his t-shirt reads "Happy Mothers Day." He's on his own and looks in good form. In one spot all I can hear is the foot pacing rhythms of all the runners around me. There's no one talking, or breathing too heavily. We seem to be moving together.

The hill I worried about is over before I know it or have time to really feel it. All those hills in my High Park training pay off again. I focus on form, keeping my head up on par with the incline, lifting my knees and relaxing my upper body. Then it's over and we're headed downhill again.

When we reach the QEW the wind gusts are huge and I feel myself being blown around on the road. It's a struggle. Soon we are in the old part of Mississauga. The marathoners turn right and we go straight. The streets narrow, the achitecture changes and is more urban looking. There are more people here. There's bands and dancing. I know we're near the lakeshore and I'm almost there.

As we approach the lakeshore trail, I have my second energy gel, GU Espresso Love. It's delicious and I take my time. The waves splash up against the rocks along the shore and the wind whips at us. I start to dig deep because I know I've still got at least 5 km to go. There are lots of people now cheering us on. The path is very narrow and it's difficult to manoevre around people but I manage. My legs are starting to ache. A siren is behind us. I step up onto the grass to let it pass. It's a golf cart ambulance with two paramedics. That's not a good sign.

We run into a heavily forested area and I start going over the names of the chimps at the Fauna foundation. I ask the ones who have recently passed away to help me find strength to get through the rest of the race. I place my hands over the chimp picture of Billy Jo on the front of my shirt and dig deep. I remind myself that this little bit of pain is nothing compared to what they endured every day of their lives in research labs or in the entertainment industry. I look up at the trees and imagine them having such a place to live out the rest of their lives, a place like Fauna.

We jog through a street and then back onto the lakeshore path. I see a kid on the stretcher with the paramedics. It's the boy with the mother's day t-shirt. He has an oxygen mask on and is being tended to.

I can hear the finish line. I'm almost there. Am I 3 km or 2 km? I can't tell anymore. My watch is no help because I'm so focused on just trying to finish. People cheer me on, calling out my name that they can read on my racing bib.

Around the beach, I can see the finish now. Someone calls out "C'mon, S. you're looking good you just need to open it up a bit." Whoever that stranger was was right. I let loose and open up my stride to the end. I'm really sprinting for the finish and see the clock at 2:08 as I pass under and finish.

I get my foil blanket and then D. is there. He congratulates me. There's foil wrapped runners everywhere. I get my chip removed. Someone puts a medal over my head. I'd almost forgotten. I get changed, stretch, eat my homemade vega bar from red jane and my pretzels. D. has brought me a banana. We snap photos. I ask a woman to take our photo wearing our Fauna shirts. I'm so happy to have run for this cause. I help myself to a orange from the fruit station and then wait forever for a massage, but it's worth it and then we finally head home.

My official time was 2:03. I'm proud. I can't wait for the next one.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

10 hours to go

Only ten hours until race time. Shouldn't I be asleep?

I picked up my race kit, toured the expo with D., saw some fun stuff and picked up my freebies. They were giving out nice moisture wicking shirts for those who early registered (which I did).

I've got a spectacular vegan lasagna to keep me going tomorrow. Layers of grilled veg and a tofu/spinach "ricotta" filling. D. is the best pre-race cook ever!

I'll post results tomorrow. Thanks again to all of you who donated or are donating. Much appreciated from me and everyone at Fauna.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Vegan Crispy Rice Squares

Yum. I can't wait to try them. They're in the pan cooling as I write. I put in some lemon zest for fun, using my rasp to give a fine zest and I sprinkled some vegan, organic chocolate sprinkles on top just for D. (he loves chocolate). I bought the vegan marshmallows from Vegan Essentials with the gift certificate I won from Animal Voices in December. I used the gift certificate to buy my cruelty free contact lens cleaner that I can only find in the States and added on some extras such as: the vegan marshmallows, and make-up brushes from Ecco Bella. I thought I should try something fun with the gift certificate. They're a bit smaller than the regular sized gelatinized marshmallows, but they taste pretty close to the real thing. They're not as fluffy, but they worked great for the Rice Squares. I'll let you know how they taste. Wish I could post a picture but....old computer and no photo op buttons in this old browser.

The countdown to the run. I'm excited, nervous and hoping the rainy weather is kind to me Sunday morning. They're forecasting rain. I don't mind running in the rain for a race, but it sure is nice to run in good weather. At least I have a great motivator (the Fauna Foundation) to keep me going!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I can actually do this!

With the Mississauga half marathon less than two weeks away I've been very concerned about my fitness level and if I'm trained enough for the run. I don't want to struggle through a run. Okay there is always some struggle, I don't want to suffer through a run. Also, if I'm not going to have fun then there's no point in doing it. Right?
after being sick and delaying my long runs, missing training sessions here and there, and working double shifts recently, I started to suspect that I was unfit, untrained, and unmotivated. I wasn't sure I could finish. Today I've changed my mind. I'm 3 days late doing my long 19.2 km run (my last long run before the race), but I set out with a route mapped out and lots of quick exit routes just in case my body or mind gave up and couldn't go further. However, I did it! I feel great and I now believe I can run the half marathon and finish as long as I keep the same attitude (have fun, run with specific goals, and allow myself an exit route if necessary).

I'll have fun because I love running and I love racing (I don't really "race", but they are called that). This morning during the first half of my run I decided to try and raise money for the Fauna Chimps (see the sidebar link for more info) because I want a goal beyond my desire to finish. As for the exit route? I just have to listen to my body to know if I can finish or not.

Now I just hope for good weather, a good night's sleep and a good run.

Oh, another important discovery I made...
I realized those last 3 kms that were killing me the last couple of weeks were due in part to refueling. Last year prior to racing, at the 45 minute mark I had GU. Gu is an energy gel that helped me through a long run and recoup better at the end. That helped today too. I also like the Clif Razzberry Sorbet shot. Pretty tasty for a gel and I've tried a few icky ones.

I'm just about to start another series of double shift days so if I'm gone for a while that's why.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Cold in Whoville

Well I suppose you can only work so much before your body shuts down on you and says, "No more." That's what my body did. I didn't even know it was coming. Usually I can tell I'm getting sick and take the appropriate amounts of zinc and vit. C to ward off any illness. This time it snuck up on me. I thought my allergies were worsening and contributing to me feeling tired. By ten o'clock that night I knew I was done for. My planned 19 k run would have to be postponed, but maybe I could still make the catering shift if I just got enough sleep. Nope. The cold settled in. So, I missed a shift for each job and am home until Thursday when I go back to double shifts. Whee!

The cats are happy to have me home. Svetlana spent much of yesterday on my lap. We cat napped all day together. While Prima roamed around trying out different spots, following D. around and napping on her chair. From time to time she attempted to disrupt Svetlana's spot on the couch with me. D. and I did our best to let poor old Sve (she's 17 afterall) remain content where she was. As always though, Prima won in the end. Sve got up for a snack and Prima promptly positioned herself on the very spot Sve had abandoned. I was too down to really change the situation so I napped with Prima.

* * *

As always I miss the cast of characters and their mum. I just looked at pictures of them to remind me of how sweet they all are. True they are bad and get into trouble, but each one of them is very loving as well. I miss their antics and their love.

* * *

The garden looks quite beautiful. The front yard is full of tulips and hyacinth. All the small bushes are filling in green and red (in the case of the Sandcherry). The most spectacular discovery today is the blooms on the peach tree. Last year we only got leaves and I suspected it was due to the heavy trimming D. and i had performed on it. This year it is full of pink blooms which means we should get peaches again. I missed them last year. How nice for our final year with the peach tree!

Also in the back is a row of daffodils and a small flock of miniature red tulips. The rhododendron is also stunning once again. It's pale pink blossoms have exploded on the bush. The stout leaves can barely be seen beneath the hardy blooms. I am always amazed by this plant. I'm hoping I will be able to take it with me when we move, but that may not be the best thing for it. Everything is doing really well in the garden. Once we get our veggies in we'll have greenery everywhere. Red jane dropped off some compost from the rescue farm where she volunteers her time to help out. So we have plenty of compost. Normally, I would never use animal compost because who knows the source? These animals have all been rescued from slaughter or bad homes and are now living their live peacefully as it should be so I don't object to using compost from such a source.

I'd better get back to taking it easy. I don't want to overdo it. It's absolutely gorgeous out too and I'm missing out. I'll venture to the mailbox and back. That will be enough. Maybe i'll even poke around the garden a little.