February 18

Yet another glorious sunny February day at the bed and breakfast here in Victoria BC. Boy are we getting spoiled. It’s February! The first photo below is of the oak tree on the boulevard at the front of the house.

Obviously the oaks aren’t to be fooled by the weather, but the second photo is of one of the many Japanese maples at the corner. All the flowering trees in the city are in full flower. It is glorious. Here’s hoping that we don’t get any rain in the next little while. Rain is always the end of the flowering trees.

Trees in Full Bloosom

Ray and I went to see Where the Blood Mixes at the Belfry theatre last night. It’s a new play by Kevin Loring and has been nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award. The show deals not so much with Residential Schools as with the aftermath of Residential Schools. The characters, in some way or other, are all dealing with the effects of the Residential Schools. It’s beautifully written, well acted, great set and lighting. The story is about a native man whose wife committed suicide just after the birth of their daughter. The daughter is then taken away by the ‘authorities’. The show starts years later. His daughter has found him and has arranged to meet him for the first time- in the bar that is his usual hangout. It’s heart wrenching.

What the play doesn’t deal with is hypocrisy. I mean the hypocrisy of the white society. We have just celebrated the opening of the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. In the front row were the Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Premier Gordon Campbell. Surrounding them was a phalanx of native people all in the traditional costumes. And all around the centre of the stadium, natives danced while the athletes paraded in. It was all so bright and loving and colourful and it is so nice that they let us use them when we want to put on a show and add some colour and come curiosity. However at any other time, we wouldn’t give these people the time of day. We certainly wouldn’t want them to live next door to us or marry out daughters. We prefer to have them living in their foul communities, in mould infested houses- houses that none of us would live in. What we resolutely refuse to do is deal with their social problems in a meaningful way or honestly deal with their land claims. But we have not problem celebrating their culture when it suits us, when it makes us look good to the world. As I say, we need a good play about hypocrisy.

I am concerned about the hypocrisy of the audience as well.  Will seeing this show inspire any of us to actions on behalf of Native People.  Probably not.  The show is very cathartic.  It takes you on a dark journey but the end is happy for the father and daughter.  There is a reconciliation of sorts, a reconciliation with an acknowledgement that there are problems that still have to be dealt with but at least they are happily talking to each other at the end.  And so we feel good.  All that pain and suffering that we had just experienced is going.  Whew, I feel so much better, let’s go and have dinner.  It was just a play after all.

And that’s what you think about when you are out in the garden.

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Drum and Bugle Corp

It’s interesting what can wake you up in the middle of the night.  I hadn’t thought about it before but I guess it is possible to have a Drum and Bugle Corp of only 2. There should only be 2 because only 2 checked in but I think there might be 3 of them or even more.  The reason I’m thinking about this now is that there is definitely a rehearsal of some sort going on in room number 4.

I don’t remember seeing them take instruments into their room.  A bugle of course you could have in a suitcase, but I’m sure I would have noticed a bass drum, and they seem to be banging on the walls too and there they go again, really slow, too … boom … slow … boom, now speeding up again faster faster boom boom boom that penetrating boom, too fast, too fast, they must know there’s a bit of trouble with that part because they keep rehearsing it over and over and over again, really slow, boom… boom, speeding up, good grief you can’t march to that tempo for heaven’s sake everyone will be tripping all over themselves, boom boom boom, maybe there is a full Corps in there, then slowing down, good grief, no, no, too slow, too slow, everyone will get bored and wander off, speed it up, yes, better, much better, good grief no, too fast again.  I can’t imagine a full Corp of 110 members marching to that tempo it’s impossible.  Must be just two of them I don’t hear the lyricist anymore and something wrong with the bugle, some pretty clear top notes, but some strange low rumbling along with them, almost like a gurgling, sounds like purring.

Hey, did they have a cat?  It’s nice the way they stop every once in a while, usually right after some fast passage, must be talking over some really hard part, just long enough for you to doze off.  Holy smokes here we go again, jumped right in at the fast bit, I didn’t know you could beat a drum that fast, heavens the chandelier is shaking.  Oh, nice high ‘C’, yes, very good, very good, definite improvement.   Much much better.  Hmmm, and now a lot of purring.  They’re going to have to pay for that cat.  Pets are extra you know.  I’ll talk to them about it in the morning.  Hmmm.

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February 17

A few clouds this morning although all signs are that it is going to be another bright sunny day here in Victoria and at the bed and breakfast. There was a frost last night, the usual result of having clear skies the day before. Not a heavy frost, but there is frost on the roofs this morning. I’m currently working on the new stained glass panels for room 8 but still hope to get to cleaning some of the beds later today- all the stuff that I didn’t get done last fall. When I stand back and look at it, but garden is looking a bit ragged at the moment. I noticed this morning that the muscari are up in front of the cottage. I think I planted a couple of hundred of them so I’m looking forward to seeing them in full bloom soon.

Viburnum Timus Thrives in the Side Garden

Viburnum tinus is a flowering shrub that starts with  pink buds which turn to white blooms in the late winter and early spring, as in right now.  These blossoms then develop into a dramatic, clumping fruit that is a deep, nearly iridescent, blue-black. It seems to be thriving in the side garden where it really only gets sun in the afternoon.  This beautiful bush is right beside the lower entrance. It is in full bloom right now, the middle of February and fills the entry with a heavenly scent .

Today is the scheduled day for pruning and fertilizing the roses. The roses were very successful last year after a very heavy pruning in the spring so I am attempting to do this now every year. Especially the rambler that is right by the front door. I pruned it really severely last year and it was beautiful by late spring.

Go to Albion Manor Bed and Breakfast in Victoria home page.

February 16

I can’t get over how far along the plants are in the garden this year.  The city was doing some work on the mains on the street before Christmas and they had to dig a big trench into the yard so the lawn is looking considerably unkempt, but there are shoots coming up all over the place.  Does this mean that it is going to be a really bad summer?  You see how catholic I am- guilt: you have to pay for any good that comes your way.

I have just returned last week from 3 weeks in Spain and then, on the way home, 1 week in London.  Seville was, as it always is, amazing.  I did however manage to maintain my record.  For the past 3 years, it has snowed in Spain on the first day that we arrived.  This year was no different except that this year it even snowed in Seville.  This is unheard of.  The last time it snowed in Seville was 50 years ago.  So while southern Spain is getting the worst weather in 50 years (at least all the dams are filling up).

Showdrops in the Garden at Albion Manor

Daffodils Growing in the Front Lawn of Albion Manor

Victoria is basking in beautiful warm sunshine. And I have a chance to get some of the work done that I didn’t get done in the fall- cleaning and getting rid of the old leaves and branches. Just a general spring clean up in other words.

Daffodils at Albion Manor

Daffodils at Albion Manor

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February 15

This is the first entry in what I hope will be a daily addition to the blog- mostly about the garden and things that are happening there but also some of the things that I think about while working in the garden, good thoughts, negative thoughts, good ideas and not so good idea.  Let’s see what happens.

Last year we had a lot of snow and freezing (everything being relative of course: lots of snow in Victoria is not the same as lots of snow in Calgary. At the bed and breakfast, and throughout the city, this resulted in some strange and wonderful combinations when the regularly scheduled blossoms came up. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos.  For one thing I didn’t think at the time that this was such a wonderful event.  It was only after the fact that I realized what an opportunity I had missed.  Oh well.  I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again (especially now that I have a new camera as well.)

This year is the complete opposite: it has been a very mild winter and everything is very early. Today we have daffodils, crocuses, snowdrops and lots of the trees are in blossom- not the fruit trees thank goodness. The roses are in bud as are the tulips. The cantab lilies by the lower entry are in full bloom.

Showdrops in the Garden at Albion Manor

Daffodils at the front of the Manor

While a lot of the daffs are in bloom, there are hundreds just coming. I am noticing thought that there are some empty spots in the daffodil beds, a sure sign of narcissus bulb fly which was the bane of the daffodils, and me, in the garden in Burnaby. I am going to try this year to catch the moths, or butterflies, or whichever they are, using a net. If I make a concerted effort to do this it certainly can’t hurt and any that I catch will certainly help the bulbs for next year. There is nothing more frustrating that planting something and having it eaten under the ground where you can’t even see the little buggers. Yes there is- having slugs eat everything above the ground!