Saturday, 21 June 2014

The Little Red Hen Garden

The Little Red Hen Garden

      If you have been following my blog, you know that I spend a great deal of time at my ancestral home in Long Reach.  That is where you find my rhubarb patch, my cottage, my garden and the bulk of my extended family.  I mean OUR rhubarb patch, OUR cottage, OUR garden and the bulk of MY extended family. 
Long Reach on the N.B. Map (Blue Dot)
Ancestral Home Complete with Ancestors circa 1920
     My sister Kathy lives in the family homestead and our cottage is over the hill, on the shore of the St. John River. 
Family Homestead (present day)
Cottage on the St. John River

Between the homestead and the cottage is the garden.  DMZ. 
 Garden in Early Spring
      Last year Kathy asked if she could share my garden as her plot was temporarily disrupted by a construction zone.  She Face-Booked me her request and assured me that it would NOT be a "Little Red Hen" garden.  You know the story of the Little Red Hen? 
      The Little Red Hen found a few grains of wheat and decided to plant them in her garden. 
       "Who will help me plant the wheat?" asked the Little Red Hen.
       "Not I," said the pig. 
       "Not I," said the cow. 
       "Not I," said the sheep. 
       "Then I will do it myself," said the Little Red Hen.

 A few weeks later....
       "Who will help me weed the garden?" asked the Little Red Hen. 
       "Not I," said the pig. 
       "Not I," said the cow. 
       "Not I," said the sheep. 
       "Then I will do it myself," said the Little Red Hen.
 And, several weeks later....
       "Who will help me harvest the wheat?" asked the Little Red Hen. 
       "Not I," said the pig. 
       "Not I," said the cow. 
       "Not I," said the sheep. 
       "Then I will do it myself," said the Little Red Hen.
And a few days later.....
       "Who will help me bake the bread?" asked the Little Red Hen. 
       "Not I," said the pig. 
       "Not I," said the cow. 
       "Not I," said the sheep. 
       "Then I will do it myself," said the Little Red Hen.
And a few hours later....
        "Who will help me eat the bread?" asked the Little Red Hen. 
       "I will!" said the pig. 
       "I will!" said the cow. 
       "I will!" said the sheep. 
       "No, I will eat it myself!"  said the Little Red Hen.  And she did. 

The Little Red Hen Phenomenon
      I have experienced the Little Red Hen phenomenon a few times in my life so Kathy's promise that this would not happen with the garden was somewhat re-assuring.   I cautiously agreed to share my garden plot with her. 
     Our first fight was over the cardboard.  I had read that using cardboard as mulch between the rows would cut down on weeds.  Kathy, no shrinking violet, disagreed and put up a fight.  She holds an undergraduate degree in Green Thumb and an MBA in Bossing.  I held my ground, however, and the cardboard was laid.  Neither one of the Little Red Hen Sisters is talented in bending over so anything that might reduce weeds was worth a try.  The cardboard experiment turned out to be a success.  
      We got through the garden season with minimal disagreements.  The crop was mediocre.  We harvested in October, counting every single carrot and beet and dividing them exactly evenly.  (37.5 carrots each; 28 beets each)  She did not fight me for the kale. 
 The Future of the Little Red Hen Garden
     In early May of this year I got a phone call from my sister Gail who wanted to get in on the Little Red Hen Garden.  Her soil was not up to par and the black flies and mosquitos had threatened to carry her away last year.  Well, what could I say?  Her thumb really is green and she can still bend over.  I saw an opportunity before me so I admitted her to the field-fold.  Now we are looking for a new name to reflect the new configuration. 
The Three Bears' Garden?
The Three Little Pigs' Garden?
Three Blind Mice 's Garden?
 The Three Hags' Garden? 
The Three Sirens' Garden?
Charlie's Angels' Garden?
 The Three Stooges' Garden?
The Three Wise Men's Garden?
      What do you think?  I know there are gender issues with some of these trios but we are open-minded.  Clearly, we most closely resemble Charlie's Angels as is evident in the action shot below.   
Little Red Hen as Mentor 
      I have grown to love the Little Red Hen and all she stands for.  You can see that the Little Red Hen and I have a lot in common.  We are both wheelbarrow-operators and we both wear stylish bonnets with flair.  Both smiling....

We are both avid knitters.

We both love bib aprons. 

And we both like to bake for our young'uns.

Until Next Time....


Thursday, 12 June 2014

Father Knows Best: Happy Father's Day: Dedicated to Tom

      Happy Father's Day.  This blog post is devoted to Tom, the father of my children. 

Tom, the Father of my Children.  Stylin'

"He's a Very Good Father"
     One Easter weekend while visiting the "old family homestead" with my husband and children, my sister Kathy decided to invite the visiting minister for Sunday dinner.  I agreed to prepare and serve the dinner and my sister agreed to go to church and then do the chatting with the minister when she brought her home.  You all remember the Biblical story of the sisters Martha and Mary???  Well, that's what it was like.
Martha and Mary and Jesus (Vermeer; 1654)

     Our mother was still living at home and although vision impairment and arthritis restricted  her mobility, she still enjoyed social interaction.  And although she could not do the cooking and the laying of the table with her bone china and silverware and pickle dishes and gravy boats and lace tablecloths, it still gave her pleasure when Martha and Mary prepared a grand meal and set a fine table.  And our mother never lost the art of being a gracious hostess.
Our Table in 2014: Oliver's and Guy's Birthday
       That Easter Sunday, when the 10 of us were seated around the beautifully-appointed table, our mother went around the group to ensure that the visiting minister knew everybody.  When she got to Tom, she said, "And this is Tom.  He's a very good father."  This struck me and I later learned that it struck Tom too.  Mom did not say, "This is Tom, Barbara's husband."  Or, "This is Tom, a mechanical engineer."  Or, "This is Tom, a financial wizard."  She narrowed right in on the most important thing in Tom's life, being a good father.  And not only did she recognize that fatherhood was Tom's top priority, but she was also valuing that role as top priority in her books, too.
Tom, Being a Good Father in Montreal
     Tom lost his father at the age of 8 and his mother at the age of 18.  When Tom and I met in our 20s, you could say he was an orphan.  Many years later, when Julia was about 6 years old, she came to the realization that Tom had no parents.  That upset the deep-thinking Julia so she asked my mother if she could adopt her daddy so he could have parents.  My mother agreed to do so of course. 
Grammy and some of her grandchildren around the time she adopted Tom.
     Mom spent the last 2 years of her life in a nursing home.  Tom and I often visited her there on Sundays.  One Sunday Mom wanted to sort through her clothes to organize them and get rid of some.  Because of her vision impairment, she needed help.  For some reason, Tom sprang to the job.  I remember sitting in the chair watching Tom, wearing a black Metallica T-shirt, going through Mom's undergarments with her as he stood by her bed.  That's just the kind of adoptive son he was.  
Tom's Metallica T-Shirt
     Another day at the nursing home, Mom introduced Tom to her friend, Myrna.  It went like this:  "This is my son-in-law, Tom.  He's quite handsome."  Tom quotes that to me almost daily.  Did I mention Mom's vision impairment? 
Mom and Emily in the nursing home, 2010.
     Tom and his daughters have strong relationships, sharing varied interests such as beets,
and leisurely days in Central Park.

     Tom finds father-son companionship through countless opportunities:
Slinky Tournaments
Eating Marathons
Afternoon Tea Parties
      Tom's diverse interests are part of what makes him a good father.  He is an avid reader,
The Finest of Literature
a seasoned Scrabble player,
He usually wins, I'm sorry to say.
a budding musician,

Multiple Instruments
an innovative handy-man,
Snow Blower Repair using Hockey Stick
Garage Door Opener Repair using Metal Bed Frame
a devoted rhubarb intern,
Macho in the Field
a passionate gourmand,
 Whoever said the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, knew exactly what they were talking about. 


Daddy Stories from the Mother Journals:
      In my recent rediscovery of my Mother Journals, I found a few Daddy stories to give further insight into the man of the hour. 
Emma, age 8:  February 1996
     Tom and Emma had gone to the Coop for groceries.  I had specified a certain type of yogurt and margarine on the list.  When they got home and I was unpacking the food, I noticed that Tom had gotten the wrong brand of yogurt and margarine.
      "Oh no, he got the wrong yogurt and margarine."  My voice was rather perturbed, on edge. 
      " Mom," Emma responded, "don't say anything to Daddy, ok?  He did a pretty good job getting groceries.  It doesn't really matter about the yogurt and margarine does it?"
      "Well, I guess not,"  I acquiesced, wondering just how much I picked on Tom in front of the kids.
Julia, age 6:  October, 1997
        One evening at supper there was just Julia and me at the table.  Tom was working in Moncton and Emma was at a friend's house.  Out of the blue, Julia said, "It's kind of nice not having a man around."
       "Oh," I responded, rather surprised as I thought Julia really missed Tom when he was away.  "Why do you say that, Julia?"
      "Oh, you know, grumpy and a beard and stuff." 
Beard, indeed!

Happy Father's Day, Daddy....

From the Ingalls Sisters, Emma and Julia.  

Until next time....