Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Health of Gardens

The week-end weather, inclement as it was, didn't exactly see us idling. Although we did plenty of that too, just hanging out, doing things that pleased us, more than things that we felt required to do. Like delving into the week-end newspapers, diving into magazines, and books we're currently reading. Relaxing, talking endlessly between ourselves, dipping out for a quick errand. And luxuriating in lethargy.

But although Saturday had kept us entirely hermetically sealed in the house throughout a day of incessant rain, Sunday far less so. We did venture out for a ravine walk, and managed to keep reasonably dry, despite some desultory showers. And my husband made use of the afternoon to ream out the garage, which was badly in need of attention.

There was sawdust and wood cuttings galore cluttering up the garage. One half of it, in any event. All of it now nicely swept up, and the rest of the materials required to complete the shed taking up infinitely less room, enabling me now to actually reach over and unroll the garden hose, should I have a wish to do so, without resorting to painful physical contortions. Now this is progress.

And it’s very nice to have more room in the garage to move about without knocking into the building supplies. And then today began the process of actually getting the roof onto the top of the garden shed, over the previously-installed rafters. It’s slow going, because of the requirement to painfully measure and cut everything to perfection, but our builder is nonetheless very pleased with his slow-but-steady progress.

As for me, it was house-cleaning day. Despite which activity I lingered at the glassed doors and windows of this house to look out at the perkiness of the gardens, whenever I passed them. It's always rewarding. Surprise; a furiously wing-beating hummingbird busy sipping nectar from, of all things, the flower-vases of the purple-pink 'wave' petunias outgrowing themselves in the garden pots on the porch.

Which is also where I saw, time and again this day, fabulous iridescent-red dragonflies resting on floral displays in the garden, and butterflies and moths fluttering about the flowers. And bees as well, and hover flies, all of them decorating the gardens as living ornaments. Despite the lateness of the summer season, descending into fall, everything is luminescently beautiful, the garden flourishing.

Therefore, so too do we. We are ravished by the beauty that surrounds us.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Summer Winding Down

We were out of luck yesterday, getting out into the ravine, so we missed our daily jaunt in there. The rain was relentless. Beginning through Friday night, it just continued on into the day and refused to stop. Nature's like that; she seldom considers what people would prefer and simply goes on her way. One supposes she knows best, after all. We actually didn't mind our enforced indoors-stay yesterday, and used it to advantage, turning our attention to other things we may have neglected.

Our little dogs didn't seem to mind all that much, either. It gave them more time to snooze and just laze around the house. One of the fairly good reasons why we rouse them every day, to get them out and about, exercising their little bodies. To keep them and us healthy too. Although the forecast was for showers today, none other than a few quiet ones materialized, so we hied ourselves off into the woods for a perambulation.

For all the rain that fell yesterday throughout the day and well into the night, making it a 24-hour downpour, it was hardly evident as we entered the ravine. The trails seemed dry enough, although droplets yet hung to some of the undergrowth beside the trail. Button and Riley tarried as they're wont to do, at the top of the first hill, as though awaiting our stern injunction to begin the descent; why they have become habituated to that is beyond us.

The first order of business was to begin dispensing peanuts at all the usual places that proffer themselves up so handily to accept the daily offerings. And which have become so familiar to the little black, grey and red denizens of our urban forest. As we ambled along further it became evident enough that the rain had made its impact, although the creek itself showed little evidence of that. The trails, however, assumed an increasingly moist perspective as we advanced.

The wildflowers on their long leggy stems have been well beaten down by the rain, although some have begun their arduous spring-back, shedding moisture. The additional moisture has encouraged some extremely interesting mushrooms and fungi to leap to life. Shelf and floral formations, in eggshell white and pale yellows. The asters are out in full force now, all the various types, with our favourites, those blooming last, in luscious purple-pink, with well formed floral heads.

The staghorn sumacs with their velvety deep crimson floral heads produce a fine counterpoint of texture and colour to the landscape. A bounty of fallen apples litters the trail under the wild apple trees, and blackberries have begun to ripen seriously, along with the thimbleberries. Rain does descent while we're in the ravine, but the canopy does its job well, sheltering us from a soaking.

When we finally ascend back up the long last hill to the street above, it's abundantly clear that out there the rain was serious enough to impact the landscape, though we were hardly inconvenienced by it.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Oh Well, That's How It Is

I suppose, in the interests of full disclosure, which is the purpose of writing these observations and comments, I should reveal fully how I feel about finally taking my shopping leave of the supermarket I've been a faithful shopper at for at least fifteen years. Having been driven to that decision by my dissatisfaction with their lack of due diligence in presenting their clients with produce in good condition.

The Food Basics store, in addition, was always too small for comfort, too limited in its space to adequately store and shelve all the items that most supermarkets offer. Its aisles were always crowded, and shoppers always bumped into one another, decrying in the process, the inadequate space. On the other hand, its limited size meant it couldn't indulge, as most other supermarkets did, in displaying and selling non-food items to quite the same extent.

It bothered me too that, despite that I'd made a point of asking, on several occasions, that management wouldn't agree to having an area set aside for the collection of voluntary food staples to benefit the local food cupboard; they were simply not interested. Citing lack of adequate space as reason for their disinterest. Which 'lack of space' did not deter them from finding space for the sale of non-food items.

And the store was notorious for the too-frequent lack of freshness of produce. Which simply meant that one had to carefully select the best that was available there. And feel good about those times when fresh fruits and vegetables, whether imported or representing produce from the province in season, were available in outstanding condition. Worse than that, however, was the lack of care in handling perishable foodstuffs. Or the lazy misidentification of sources.

It has since been brought home to me anew that virtually all supermarkets have a problem when it comes to proper and adequate warehousing, delivery and handling of perishable goods. So that, now that we're shopping, both of us together, my husband and me, at one of the large 'super stores' that advertises unbeatable prices for first quality products, we still have to exercise due caution in selection our purchases; simply not to the same extent.

And the truth of it is, I miss the limited aisle space of the old store. You knew where everything was located. At this new superstore everything is spread out in long, wide aisles, hosting so many choices so many of which I have no interest in whatever, that perusing the shelves to find those items that are basic and of interest to me is more of a chore, taking far more energy and time expended, and it's downright irritating.

Certainly it takes time to become intimate with a store's layout, and I've credited that. And we've been able to take advantage of some very good buys in areas that we appreciate. But the truth is, the enjoyment of food shopping has been enhanced largely by the fact that we now share it, with my husband agreeing to accompany me to a venue he appreciates whereas before his detestation of the disarray and crowded conditions in the former supermarket kept him from participating.

Although prices are fairly comparable, they're still not as 'basic' at the super store as they were at the Food Basics store, with the exception of specials, although there are many specials to take advantage of. So it's the quality of the products for a decent price that has us agreed we've made the right choice. The wider choice, advantageous in that regard.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Shopper Loyalty Is Earned

There, it's done. Or rather done with. The habit of almost twenty years of shopping at one supermarket. Sometimes an experience requires more than one element. If a chain like Food Basics prides itself on its pricing, and figures that this is enough to keep people coming, to ensure that its clients are ready to return week after week, when only the prices beckon, and the quality of the produce is miserable, they're in line for feeling the pinch of shopper rejection. It took long enough with me, to be certain.

The location is convenient to our house, but then there are a whole lot of other options as far as handy location is concerned. I always balked at paying the higher prices for goods of similar value, or even brand names that sold for far more at a so-called conventional supermarket than Food Basics that prides itself on its 'basics' quotient. Somehow, over the years, they succumbed to the realization that people appreciated the opportunity to buy more pre-prepared foods, so there goes the 'basics' label.

On the other hand they also contended that the 'basics' referred to fewer choices, but quality ones. But then they could very well find the shelf space to display a greater number of choices if they were consistent in that claim, and bypassed the opportunity to stock and sell non-food items like apparel and gadgets and just stick to comestibles. But they, like all other supermarkets, find it enhanced their bottom line to give consumers these options, absurd as they seem to be.

I had written to the chain, expressing my disgust over the lack of care in stocking shelves, where rotten fruits and vegetables were too often in evidence, and stale-dated products, and a lack of availability of advertised specials on occasion. It all came together on one memorable occasion when in a space of two weeks' time, I had to discard food that expired before their expiration date, so to speak, and advertised specials of fruit on display were all in a state of gentle decomposition.

My dissatisfaction was passed on to the manager of the store. And he dutifully telephoned me the following day. To express his personal exasperation that I had emailed my discontent to the chain management, rather than go directly to him. To which I responded that I had spoken with him directly on occasion when I felt there was a need to. And on those occasions I had the distinct impression that he was disinterested. I had not been favourably impressed with his bin-side manner, to put it mildly.

We'd always shopped together, for our food, my husband and me. But for those almost-two decades when I was a reliable Food Basics shopper, I shopped alone; my husband detested the place. Witnessing my distress, and taking into account the many times he would shop on his own at alternate supermarkets for quality products, he recommended that I give up shopping at the disappointing venue, and we would henceforth shop together at another supermarket.

We began to do just that. And the fun has returned to food shopping. I'll not look back. It's nice to have confidence restored in the quality of the food I put on the table. And having a far larger choice of products is just fine with me. We're paying more, but we can afford it, and we don't mind. Canadians, in fact, pay relatively little, compared to those in other countries, for their food. We are extremely fortunate.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Garden Surprise

There are still lilies in bloom in various parts of various garden beds. Hostas are still in bloom. Clematis and roses are still happily sending out buds and flowering beautifully in a range of colours, all delighting the eye with their collective arras catching the eye with their grace and lovely presence. Astilbes are sending up their floral spires, very nicely. I've cut back bee's balm and bellflower. But shasta daisies and black-eyed Susan, and purple loosestrife and echinacea are blooming beautifully.

Turtle heads have begun their delicate bloom, and they're an absolute delight. I've discovered that the yucca that I was so certain was finished, is not, at all. Despite that in early summer I had dug it out, dead and pulpy, and replaced it with a rose. Now a yucca has located itself right beside the rose. The rose is blooming wonderfully well. Its space is not quite dislocated by the surprise presence of a new yucca. But I am amazed that the yucca managed to survive, given the fact that I had taken care to remove it, or rather what was left of it.

I quite admire the texture of Adams Needles, they're exotic, with their long tapered spears. And when they send up their huge stalk of multiple white flowers, they are quite amazing. This was an old plant, I had had it in the garden for at least fifteen years. It grew pups on occasion, and I would carefully separate the pups and place them elsewhere in the garden. The pups would grow for awhile, then fail, and finally disappear. The parent yucca often disappointed, and a summer would go by without its blooming.

One winter it had got chewed by a hungry rabbit, and the stress caused by that appeared to encourage the yucca to finally send up a wonderful flower stalk. After that it would flower every other year, in July. This spring it looked quite intact, nice and green and alert, coming through winter. I cut back a few of the lower spears that looked bedraggled and it seemed prepared to rally into summer. But it did not; it gradually wilted, its spears drying out, turning brown, and brittle.

Finally, with great regret, I had to admit my yucca had given up the ghost. Which was when I dug it out of the soil, and replaced it with the rose, now blooming lustily. Only to have the yucca mysteriously return. I am grateful for its return.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer's Waning

August is nearing its end. And with that, the atmosphere is beginning its inexorable change. It's cooling down, we're losing that stifling humidity. Refreshing breezes have picked up. The mosquitoes are almost - not quite yet, but almost - defeated. Skies are a glorious azure, clear and clean; no hovering smog levels to be aware of. The UV levels remain high, but that's all right.

Dipping into the ravine for our daily perambulation, we're comfortable, and Button and Riley engage in their usual peculiar behaviour; standing atop the first hill, as though awaiting our command to descend. We, halfway down the hill, turn back to call them to continue on, to join us on our downward trajectory, into the ravine proper. As though on cue, each begins to descend, to join us, seemingly reluctantly. That'll change as we get further into the ravine.

Riley likes to stand at a higher elevation, to peruse the landscape, as far as he can see, which cannot be all that distant, to ensure that there are none others in the near vicinity, taking liberties with this, his very personal wilderness area. Should someone happen by, they will be challenged, in a sense, vetted by little Riley, before being permitted to continue.

He loves people, but still demands they seek and receive his blessing to use his ravine. As it were. As for Button, she's easy; disinterested to a degree in what other people do, happy to go along at her own speed, doing what she's comfortable with, demanding little of anyone.

In the ravine proper, the trill of cardinals follow us, picked up later by the cooing of doves. Robins scatter on the ground, scratching, searching for some elusive edible treats. They too are aware that the times they are a-changing. They will begin to assemble in family groups, the juveniles rambunctious, the adults cautioning them. They will begin, all too soon, their seasonal migration.

We amble along, desultorily pick ripe blackberries, thimble-berries, pop them into our mouths, recalling other, younger selves when the ripe sweetness blasted our still evolving taste-buds. Red, ripe apples decorate their host trees like glowing ornaments. We select a few fallen apples, ripe and acidic, yet sweetly juicy and inviting to sink teeth into.

Button and Riley politely reject our offers of tiny bits; unappealing to their taste, although Button, when she was very young, used to love bits of apples, and even on occasion picked her own low-growing blueberries. Myriads of small, red-bright dragonflies flit busily about on shafts of sunlight. A grey squirrel rushes hurried diagonally across the trail, inches from our feet; doubtless startled at its rashness.

A wild rabbit, tawny-brown, hops down the trail, stops, then gathers itself again into a trotting hop, doubtless aware of our oncoming presence and that of our little dogs. We are invigorated by the coolness of the temperature, the effect of the soothing breeze. As is Button, forgetting to keep pace with us; instead hurrying along while we're in no mood to quicken our pace.

Riley lags as usual, and we stop from time to time, to encourage him to hurry up a bit. Trouble is, there are odours he must tarry for, and sounds he must investigate, and there is a certain drama to his daily passage through the ravine that must be observed and respected. Button stops occasionally, waiting for me, so she can cadge a few peanuts.

As we approach the usual places where we leave peanuts - tree crotches or the tops of stumps, or holes in trees, the usual suspects reveal themselves, lingering where they know the offerings will be left, anxious to snatch their treats. And we enjoy their antics, and the knowledge that their intelligence informs them of our arrival. We watch a furious little red squirrel in hot pursuit of a black squirrel, four times its size.

The freshness has abandoned the field wildflowers, their colours now muted in a monochromatic landscape of white Queen Anne's lace, white asters and clover, with a spark of gold from the goldenrod insinuated amongst the white. Crickets sound in the long grasses. As we approach one of the exits toward the street level there are Himalayan orchids in bloom.

These are tall, leggy plants with bright pink flower heads, cousins to jewelweed, of the balsam family, like impatiens. They are also invasive pests with their tiny floral offerings on long stalks, proliferating in gardens where incautious gardeners plant them, then rue the day they did.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Arrested Adolescence

Well, perhaps not quite arrested adolescence. Perhaps it's more like re-discovered adolescence.

The growing proclivity, identified by what has been termed 'the latest market intelligence', revealing that grey-haired adults well into their dotage have discovered once again what fun it is to let it all hang loose, and feel like a kid again. Not that adults ever lose certain childish behaviours; we're petulant, pleasure-seeking, self-absorbed, and fret about our appearance, just like adolescents do.

We're simply more discreet about these emotions, tamp them down, and just let them rise to the fore on occasion. That used to be the way it was exercised. Evidently it no longer is. People old enough to be someone's grandparent now exercise juvenile options to extend their enjoyment of life, it would appear. And people in their mid-30s and upwards are contending with kids for their traditional recreational games and playthings.

A study, it would appear, by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (what's up with that, one wonders?) appears to indicate that the average age of video-gamers is now 35. The addiction to video games is termed by them "digital self-medication". Really? Medicating ourselves, as it were, against boredom, as children are wont to do? The kind of endless boredom that kids wail about, searching for relief?

Serving themselves up helpings of electronic diversions from the sameness of everyday life?

The study also reveals that (gag me with a cucumber) Wii stations are now common sights in seniors' centres. Wheelchairs and walkers won't stop the elderly from their fun and games, evidently. Migod, is that not sad? Whatever happened with the leisurely pursuit of socializing and spirited, intelligent discussions? And card-playing, and simply tucking oneself away in a nice quiet spot, and reading to one's heart's content?

Wii stations? Sad waste!

"The boundaries between childhood and adulthood have become increasingly blurred", according to sociologist Barbara Mitchell, professor of gerontology at Simon Fraser University, in British Columbia. Well, in a sense, there's nothing startlingly new about that apprehension. Isn't it often held that children and the elderly have much in common, and understand one another quite well?

As adolescents slide forward into their future adulthood, the elderly slip back to their childish past, assuming some of the emotional characteristics of childhood, never quite forgotten, nor laid away for permanent rest. Now this little factoid is quite painful: One third of SpongeBob Squarepants' audiences is comprised of people 18 and older.

Ugh, and more ugh! Rock-paper scissors, double-Dutch, Frisbee, Kickball and dodge ball have bred adult leagues. Downtown Toronto boasts an adult fun park. To heal the hurt of adulthood, no doubt.

A San Diego-held Comic-Con convention had a sold-out crowd of 125,000 with adults in superhero costumes - the better to engage in the funtime fantasy of childhood.

Forty-one percent of children in their twenties now opt to live at home, according to Statistics Canada. I'd call that a successful sales job, all of it.

As much as electronic messaging has infiltrated children's consciousness fitting them out to be ardent consumers of all manner of products, in a market economy that strives to grow and grow and grow, adults too have been assailed with the marketing of youth.

And so, many adults have succumbed to the allure of believing that they are maturing into youthful playtime, not staid adulthood. The medium of moderation has been converted to the radicalization of maturity, refusing to accept the long journey into end-of-life.

Instead, embracing agelessness and the kind of longevity that the search for a magical elixir that would extend life indefinitely once enraptured an earlier society with its possibilities. Ah, the Fountain of Youth is attainable!

We've become impulse-driven, youth worshipping, pleasure-seeking drones of tamped-down desperation.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

A Public Bearing

Couples feel they would like to have a child, or a number of children and raise a family. Natural enough. Enough children are brought into this world with no thought of what it takes to raise a child; pregnancies ensue frequently as a result of people having sex with no thought of the consequences when insufficient care is taken to avoid pregnancy.

These accidental births result in a myriad of scenarios, from children who are cherished and well cared for, to children whose presence is considered an unavoidable nuisance, and whose needs are neglected. Not that even planned pregnancies cannot result in children within a family having their basic needs neglected, for that too occurs.

It's infinitely more impressive when people give sound thought to having a child, and decide that they are prepared for the responsibility.

And then, sadly enough, many discover that although they feel their time has come to assume parenthood, biology deems otherwise. Their personal biology that is, when women discover that they are infertile, or when men are informed that their sperm production is faulty - or any number of reasons in between, all of which mitigate against normal conception.

There are alternative actions that can be taken, remedial physical protocols that can prove helpful. They represent costly procedures, with no guarantee of success.

Mind, there are enough men and women in secure relationships with one another who have no wish to raise a family. These couples feel their relationship with one another comprises all that they wish to be responsible for. The yearning of other couples to be able to bear children, even while their biological ability to do so has been impaired is not shared by all.

And while it is true that women; for example, with blocked fallopian tubes or other physical impediments to conceiving can be said to have a 'medical condition', and the same can be said for men with low sperm counts or an inability to produce viable sperm, their medical conditions are not such that could be construed as an impairment to their physical quality of life.

They wish to bear children, but are unable to, without the intervention of medical science.

A universal health care system is a wonderful thing. It is there to ensure that people who fall ill, who succumb to dread diseases, who suffer accidental impairment, can be given medical treatment, paid for by universal taxes through a public health program. There are countless reasons why such a universal health care system has value to a population.

Among them is not necessarily to offer childless couples the opportunity to take advantage of a costly therapeutic intervention that has a middling success rate.

Personal sacrifices are made in the process of child-bearing. Years of emotional and physical surrender to the needs of infants and children who require constant care. That kind of commitment is total - or it should be - in ensuring that children's needs are met in every conceivable way.

In the final analysis, it is true that society gains when children are raised in emotionally well-balanced homes where parents spare no efforts to give all the emotional and practical support their children require, to see them grow into responsible and emotionally mature adults.

Our social support systems aid and assist parents in their role. Through the health care system, the education system, public libraries, and public parks, along with community centres. Society does its utmost to help families raise children.

But society, through public taxes, does not have the obligation to step one: medical intervention to assist a couple toward a successful pregnancy. We have an obligation as a society to fund medically necessary health services. Full stop.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009


We've been weather-boomeranging of late, from hot and sunny to humid and hot and windy, to cooler and wetter, and everything in between. But it's clear, however relatively late in the season this represents, summer finally decided to move in and to stay awhile. Gifting us with just about everything in Nature's summer arsenal. There've even been some more unusual weather systems scooting through this province, such as tornadoes. But we've been spared that type of weather, although we've shared atmospheric conditions with the tornado-receiving zones.

Everyone basks in the sun and the heat, and grouses about the humidity and the rain, but we love it, us gardeners. No worries about the gardens dying out, no need to spend too much time carefully watering our gardens and our garden pots. Nature has kindly consented to do all of that for us, and much, much more. The coddling sun, and the gentle breezes included. So garden-time can be spent doing other things. Not the least of which is standing back, and admiring what Nature has wrought on our behalf, with a few tweaks for us, in the background.

The roses are captivating and fragrant. As are the garden phlox, the petunias spilling out of their pots; the latter not the former. Astilbe is in bloom, delphiniums are re-blooming; and geraniums are outstretching themselves and blooming lustily. I've had to cut back the flowering portions of the hens'n chicks, the hostas. Liatris and mallow are blooming fit to beat the band. And Ladies Mantle has been replicating itself all over the rock gardens. Somewhat like the fecundity of the coral bells, whose babies await transplanting where they've fallen and are growing, on the walkway.

Morning glories are twisting on their vines, blooming blue, purple, bright and perky, then closing up for the afternoon, their glory momentarily abated. The Big Ben roses seen against the perky white of the lace-cap hydrangeas present the perfect picturesque foil. We yet await the bloom of alpine aster and chrysanthemum. I peek around the base of our large old pine, through to the stone Japanese lantern, to relish, as always, the hidden landscape that reveals itself - thrilling to its view, as I invariably do.

The bounty of texture and colour tumbling around and down along the rim of the garden pots are a glowing treat for the eyes; truly eye candy. Wax begonias, ever-blooming, exquisite in their paper-thin and glowing petaldom, in lush yellows, oranges, whites and pinks are enthralling. Million bells, lobelia, New Guinea impatiens and geraniums, bacopa and ipomea, vinca and gazania, hold us spellbound in their miniature landscapes.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Handsomely Provisioned

People do have a tendency to feel they are entitled in a way that so many others could never begin to dream of. It is very true that when two adults, a man and a woman decide to live together as a couple in a household as man and wife without the social and legal sanction of a marriage ceremony the woman is all too often done ill by upon separation. In many jurisdictions the cessation of a common-law partnership will honour the woman's role in the partnership as equal to that of a legally-married woman.

Ironically, in Canada, in the Province of Quebec, where more couples opt to live without the benefit of marriage vows than elsewhere in the country - whether because of a mutual aversion to 'entrapment' within a covenant neither wish to have a part of, or whether because one of the partners is unwilling to harness himself or herself to a marriage vow - division of property is not automatic. Regardless, a larger percentage of couples opt for a common-law arrangement in Quebec than elsewhere within Canada.

It surely is time for the province to re-visit their law on the sharing of property to reflect that of married couples, when a common-law marriage fails. It has long been held that the province's law governing common-law marriages requires updating. To at least match the provisions under the law to uphold the rights of women in separation after failure of a common-law marriage that obtains in other provinces with a lesser percentage of such marriages.

However, a recent case brought before a judge of the Quebec Superior Court where a woman who separated from her common-law spouse after seven years of marriage, where the common-law wife is requesting alimony from a billionaire, hardly represents as a template for a 'test case' that would serve to overturn an antiquated law and bring in a new one. This instance of lavish wealth serving to illustrate the dire poverty of some single mothers is hardly appropriate as an example.

This common-law couple separated after seven years of domestic bliss and blast. There are children involved, resulting from the partnership. The former common-law husband currently discharges his obligation as father of his former common-law wife's children by providing her with $35,000 monthly in child support. He pays for their school fees, and he provides for two nannies and a cook for his former family, living in a $2.5-million home in a posh Montreal neighbourhood.

The former common-law wife insists she is entitled to far more, to enable her to continue to "live according to her means". Given that she has no "means", other than the decidedly generous provisions her former husband feels she is entitled to, and he is obligated to provide, her request for an adjudication giving her a separation settlement of $50-million sounds like a bit much. But of course that's her privilege to demand, and it's also his, at the very moment, to deny.

Oh yes, aside from the lump sum cash $50-million, she also seeks an additional $58,000 on a monthly basis. Living in a sumptuous home, with nannies and a generous stipend is clearly inadequate to this woman's aspirations, for this does not give her the opportunity she requires to buy a helicopter, while the $50,000-million sought clearly would. A most unsatisfactory situation to be sure.

Her lawyer contends that the judge's determination in this matter should be to overlook the wealth of the couple involved, and think instead of the close-to one million Quebec couples who choose to live in common-law relationships. "In this case, this woman has no right to ask for anything, no matter how economically dependent she is", her lawyer points out. "So what this case is about is the right to ask."

The judge was not enamoured of the argument, pointing out that should the law give recognition of all partnerships as being that of a "marriage" under the law, it would clearly infringe on the rights of all those people who prefer their relationship to be common-law, outside of the marriage contract. Which should not, on the other hand, serve to deny women in common-law situations rights and privileges given to married women.

All women, under specific circumstances such as long-term relationships which collapse, and which have resulted in children being born within the legally-tenuous relationship, should be guaranteed some source of legal redress, rather than permit the former common-law husband and father to walk away from the results of the relationship with no further associative obligations to his family.

But using this particular couple as the stepping stone to justice for all women is patently absurd.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Our Enchanted Garden

Every day in every way, whatever the season, the garden never disappoints, always delights. A saunter through the garden reveals ongoing surprises, new discoveries, for ardent garden lovers. And I most certainly am one of those types; people for whom gardens represent beauty, vigour, anticipation and repose.

Sustained searches through the glassed front door every morning soothes the eyes and the mind. Revealing unsuspected miniature landscapes, suddenly springing to attention. Unmindful, passing looks out windows bring to the fore the glory that is the garden.

From spring to early summer the perennials take their turn in revealing to us the bounty of nature's voluptuous treasures, ours to admire and gloat over; residing within the very precincts of our personal gardens.

Eventually these treasures fade, become background to emerging displays which, in their turn, grant us pleasure and occasionally comic relief, permitting us to also laugh with joy over the unexpected.

The huge ligularia plant, admired for the shape, size and structure of its foliage, for example, is now thrusting out its absurd and unbeautiful flower heads. Somewhat like the bountiful and beautiful foliage of the many kinds of hostas that send up not absurd and quite lovely floral masts.

The echinacea are everywhere in vibrant bloom now; pale pink to bright pink, and white flowers as well, with their cone-shaped seed heads. The spurge is in bloom in the rock garden, with its small yellow flower heads. Liatris, mallow, astilbe, gypsophilia are all on show, in their sequential bloom cycles. Chrysanthemums, alpine asters are yet to show themselves, and purple loosestrife is on the cusp of ripening into purple-pink whips.

The annuals too have been hard at work, from the New Guinea impatiens to the petunias, the ipomea to the marigolds, the pinks and the dahlias, the snapdragons and the godetia and above all, the splendidly glorious begonias, lush and gorgeous, filling out the garden urns and pots, delighting us constantly with their fresh perkiness, their indefatigable insistence on constantly blooming.

The essence of delight.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Photo-Mania

Last night cooled down very nicely. The bowl of the dark night sky was velvety black-blue, and there were bright stars overhead, just waiting to be identified and admired. With patience, one could witness satellites slowly rounding the Earth. With patience, the occasional shooting star could be seen.

Lacking patience, I determined to shoot photographs instead. Finding it an absolute thrill to take photographs of our gardens at night. Who might ever have imagined such a possibility before the advent of fail-proof digital photography?

White flowers glow at night in the garden, and we've ample white in the huge globular hydrangea blossoms. Oddly enough, the bright yellow marigold flower heads appear pink at night. And the pink-reds of the wax and fibrous begonias and the phlox appear to glow in the night light cast by the light standard sitting beside the deck.

Oddly enough the grouping of the Three Graces and that of Discobolus appear chalk-white in the contrast between the light and the dark, and the flash of the camera. I experience excited anticipation, taking those photographs, anxious and eager to see the results, to feast on the vision of the garden at night.

In my nightgown and dressing gown, I prowl about the gardens, front and back of the house, snapping photographs, delighted at the prospect of the resulting photos.

There's a magic-like, fairytale quality about the gardens, quite unlike the manner in which they appear during the day, when everything seems sturdier, more real, although no less alive than they appear at night.

It's the mysterious night-time apparition of colour and form and texture that is so appealing. After all, at night we should not be able to to do this; prowl about and admire anything at all, so hidden in the deep of night.

But here are our gardens, proudly alive and fragrantly blooming, hiding nothing whatever from our gaze, and the probing directness of the camera, intent on capturing the essence of the night-enhanced glory of floral displays in all manifestations of plume and bloom.

I feel like a night-sprite drifting among the plants and the urns, the walkways and the trees and shrubs, all offering their beauty despite the absence of sun and light.

My camera's eye pays homage to the structure, grace and beauty of the garden, and I exult.

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