Sarah Raymond is a writer and artist from Toronto, Ontario. Her young adult novel, Signs of Martha, comes out in spring 2011 with Great Plains Publications. Scroll on down for musings on writing, art and other perils of domestic life. Homemade drawings included.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Brainpicking Children's Author Karen Krossing

Karen Krossing writes novels and short stories for children and teens. Her latest novel, The Yoyo Prophet, will be published in the fall of 2011 with Orca Books. Karen is the current president of CANSCAIP. She volunteers at Red Door Family Shelter and lives in Toronto with her family.

Best time/place to write

I get my best ideas when I’m falling asleep. I repeat them in my head a few times and then write them down once I get to my desk.

Author you wish you had for a high school English teacher

E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web and other books. He could write a mean sentence and explain why it worked so well.

Your thoughts on flossing

The need for flossing should be banned from my world.

Favourite background noise for writing

Absolute silence. Except for birds twittering outside, or the sound of rain and wind.

Bad grammar pet peeve

Life’s too short to get peeved about grammar.

Biggest obstacle to getting the work of writing done

The need for sleep. If I didn’t sleep, I’d have eight more hours each day to write!

Favourite writing tool

I love talking about a writing idea with someone who will listen, nod and inspire.

Do you believe in aliens?

Yup. Life has evolved on Earth. Why not elsewhere?

Literary character you’d like to invite for dinner?

The protagonist from my current work-in-progress so that I could fully explore what he thinks and feels.

Alternate time, place or universe you’d like to visit

The world of my current work-in-progress – to smell, touch, hear and see details that I could then write about.

Current writing project you dare to mention

Eeep! I can’t talk about it yet. It’s too fragile.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Latest Read: Eating Animals

I have an uncomfortable relationship with meat. Chicken is tasty and salmon divine, yet factory farming makes my stomach queasy. Reading Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals (Little, Brown and Co., 2009) didn't ease my discomfort one calorie.

Safran Foer describes his visits to factory farms with the graphic precision of an inspired novelist, which of course he is. He also turns his pen over to meat processors, farmers and activists so they can relate their experiences. He muses on his collective findings and admits to the awkward aspects of going veg, like the difficulty in sitting apart from a communal table. He doesn't mention the issue of time. Me, I covet time, and butchering each haricot vert and stalk of swiss chard takes up a lot of it. Skimming Saran off a styro-pack of chicken parts, in contrast, does not.

Trouble is, I know too much about family farming. I grew up between a dairy farm and an alfalfa field. We carried home unpasteurized milk in old Beckers jugs from the neighbours. We bought beef by the gutsy fraction--a quarter or a half a cow--from the guy down the road. We weren't trying to be ethical or local-eaters. The food was just available, affordable and tasty. Finding the same kind of products seems like a luxury now. Eating animals is complicated and uncomfortable. I can't promise what I'll be eating a year from now, but I'm soaking lentils after I post this entry.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Brainpicking Children's Author Karen Rankin

Karen Rankin is a Toronto teacher and writer of children's stories. She writes for CM ( and is currently working on a young adult novel, Stepping Into Traffic. Delve into Karen's writer-brain here.

Best time and place to write:
Anytime in front of a computer, but I'm happy with a napkin in a coffee shop, too.

Author you wish you had for a high school English teacher:
At the time, Margaret Lawrence. Now: Rohinton Mistry.

Favourite background noise for writing:

Views on flossing:
Deeply religious.

Grammar pet peeve:
None, really. I’ve read too many wonderful stories written by people for whom English is a second, third or fourth language. I can’t get peeved.

Biggest obstacle to getting the writing done:

Favourite writing tool:
Computer, but I'm ashamed. It comes more easily when I use a pen, but I'm too lazy to transcribe.

Literary character you'd like to have for dinner:
Dawsey Adams. I was sorry when the (epistolary) novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (M. A. Shaffer and A. Barrows) ended. I wanted to stay in touch with the characters, especially Dawsey.

Alternate universe you'd like to visit:
Occasionally I wish to be "beamed up", not that I really want to go anywhere else, I just get fed up with being here.

Thoughts on aliens:

Depends on where they're from. If they're the same kind of aliens as me, then I believe in them.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Latest Read: Watching Jimmy

When I brought home Nancy Hartry's Watching Jimmy (Tundra, 2009), my nine-year-old pounced on it before I could crack open the cover. We agreed to share the novel as a bedtime read-aloud. That worked well, although my daughter wanted to keep reading all night.

In the novel, 11-year-old Carolyn guards an uncomfortable secret about the reason for her next door neighbour's brain damage. The novel's 1958 setting encouraged mother-daughter discussion about terms like "galoshes" and concepts like "washing your mouth out with soap", (seen as horrifically hilarious) and even the beginnings of Canada's health care system. Nancy Hartry's writing is seemingly effortless, powerful and moving. I ended up in tears with my daughter stroking my back. Four thumbs up--two big and two small.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cookbook Goes Public

Printed copies have arrived! Just Add Shoyu is filled with Japanese-Canadian recipes, foodie stories and gorgeous photos.

This hardbound cookbook is a community project, and for us, a family one. Vince shot many of the images including the pour shot at your right, and I co-edited the recipes and especially the stories.

Inspired by our fresh copy, I cooked up okonomiyaki pancakes yesterday, made with a sweet potato and cabbage batter. I'm a sucker for shredded and fried vegetables, and these pancakes went down real nice. Editing a cookbook can make a person extremely hungry, so this week I'm cooking all-Just Add Shoyu recipes all the time. Next up? The kids' favourite: gyoza (pork dumplings).

Copies of Just Add Shoyu are quickly disappearing from the Japanese Cultural Centre ( on Garamond Court in Toronto.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Latest Read: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (Volume 1: The Pox Party)

M.T. Anderson pushes the boundaries of disturbing, fictional settings. In his novel Feed, he pitches himself into a technologically-perverse future. In Octavian Nothing, the author visits the past--the slave trade in 18th century America.

Octavian is a boy who lives with his mother at the College of Lucidity, where his tutors investigate whether their black subject can learn a classical education as well as a white one. When the men aren't lavishing Octavian with Latin and violin lessons, they terrorize him. Deliberately-inflicted smallpox ravages Octavian's home. He rebels against his owners and flees. Octavian Nothing is a coming-of-age horror, a perverse moment in history set to fiction, and a treatise on subjugation.

At my local library, Octavian Nothing is filed under teen fiction, but anyone who can stand the pain will appreciate the antiquated language and powerful story.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Latest Read: Our Lady of the Lost and Found

Carrying a suitcase-on-wheels, the virgin Mary shows up at a middle-aged writer's home. Mary stays a week. The two new friends visit the mall. In the lingerie department, a mannequin models underwire bras. "Not my type," Mary says. "More suited to that other Madonna, the really famous one." Diane Schoemperlen's "Our Lady of the Lost and Found" (Harper Collins) also muses about Life, Time and History. I loved meeting the Virgin Mary, and although we don't have a spare bedroom, I would gladly shift my writing schedule to accommodate a visit, and could offer our Coleman blow-up mattress.

Since I'm working on a novel about a girl who invokes the ghost of Queen Victoria, I'm drawn to authors' anachronistic characters. Or maybe others' renditions only confuse the writing issues. Either way, when I read Our Lady, I felt like the Virgin Mary was in my livingroom--which in a way, she was.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Signpainting and Novelwriting

This week I caught my first glimpse of the book cover design for Signs of Martha, my novel coming out in the spring with Great Plains Publications. I emailed my publisher a scream of delight.

The novel features a misguided signpainter. A few years ago while I was first-drafting the story, I painted a sign for my kids' annual school fall fair. The school needed a sign. I needed an excuse to evoke the smells and actions of signpainting.

The school fall fair happens tomorrow, so the sign went back up and reminded me of the novel's early beginnings.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Writers' Retreat

Five writers of fiction-for-kids-and-other immature-people converged in a cosy chalet on Georgian Bay this weekend.

We could do that because of a Very Nice Woman who let us write, eat and sleep at her place. Thank you to her. Merci. Danke. You rock.

We are all women. We are mothers. We don't roar (much) but we like writing and oh the luxury of waking up, swinging one's Apple onto one's lap and putting in a few hours of tapping chapter 3 before breakfast.

We five covered almost every genre: historical fiction, fantasy, dystopian sci-fi and quirky realism. (Two of us were needed to cover that one.) At last year's retreat I outlined a new novel and this year I launched into its second major draft. The book starts starts like this at the moment:

The first time I'm haunted by the ghost of Queen Victoria is on the day of my boyfriend's funeral.

and goes on from there.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thinking Inside the Box

What's up with this "thinking outside the box" business?

I like boxes. Boundaries. Edges. Challenges within limits.

Kids are back in school. Ask any teacher how much they'll get out of their students when they suggest working without limits. A few students will run free with their brilliant minds. The rest will stare blankly. Sigh and scratch their noses.

At the Toronto Ex recently, a performer folded herself into a box. Just look at her thumbs-up happiness. She likes boxes. The crowd went wild. They liked the limits too.

My current box is time. I'm combing through the final edits of Signs of Martha, due to my editor ridiculously soon. Like, this week. Soon I'll see a cover design. An image in a box. I'm nervously waiting.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Full Force Harvest

The Young Urban Farmers' garden is bearing fruit galore. I love this program. In review: I give my backyard land; the Young Urban Farmers do the work. The result? Fresh (and I mean fresh) local veggies in dishes like last night's tomato, basil and feta salad.

Those small green lanterns pictured are ground cherries. My uber-farmer niece makes them into pies. I just peel off the shells and pop the little morsels in my mouth whenever the urge strikes, which is frequently.

Sadly, we were struck with powdery mildew and the vine crops have suffered. You can see some residual sadness in the tomato plants. But we're not going hungry and my earlier concern about winding up an unwilling host to a family racoon reunion hasn't happened. Amazing.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Best Read of the Summer: How I Live Now

Let's get one thing straight: I rarely succumb to tears when I read a novel, but Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now left me aching, weeping and glad for my sunglasses. I was in public for God's sake.
I also laughed at this book and stewed in my own bitter envy for the woman's gorgeous writing.

Funny. Just a few months ago, I was happily blogging about Markus Zuzak 's short, bittersweet sentences. Here I am excited about Rosoff's long, meandering ones. That's how protagonist Daisy's voice starts off, anyway. She goes to live with her cousins in England. Oh, sure there's a war imminent and everything but that's for people in other countries, right? Daisy has her own problems.

A terrorist-style war strikes, which is of the author's imagination. Or exaggeration. As with her later novel Just in Case, Meg Rosoff creates her own paradigm. If her writing was painting, it might be cubist--realistic but on its own set of planes. In a recent Globe and Mail article, novelist Jonathan Franzen dismisses research-based writing as limiting for character development. Characters get too squished in my the constraints of fact. The premise is as good as any. At least it justifies his writing, (which needs no justification anyway) and Rosoff's too.

Fortunately, I have Meg Rosoff's second novel by my bed, and awaiting consumption. Then I might have to do what my 9-year-old daughter did, and write my beloved author. Stomp my little foot and demand another novel. It worked for my kid. If it doesn't work for me, I'm not beneath begging.

Or crying.

Another Great Read: The Uninvited by Tim Wynne-Jones

What's not to love about Mimi? The potty-mouthed NYU sophomore in The Uninvited carries mace in a hand-knit holster and has a bad habit of lusting after men who turn out to be blood relatives. Oops. Mimi sojourns in remote Ontario to write a screenplay, but her retreat leads her into a deeper and creepier wilderness than she bargained for. A misbehaving script is the least of her problems.

As usual, Tim Wynne-Jones's voices are pitch-perfect. He nails Jay, the smart and thoughtful musician who thinks too much, and an unstable, paint-spattered artist who thinks too little. Then there's hillbilly codger--ready? Get this: Stooley Peters, a turd indeed. I adore Tim Wynne-Jones's writing and his windows into the way humans work. A Thief in the House of Memory is also great, but The Uninvited is pure creepy fun.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Latest Read: The Book of Negroes

Lawrence Hill, Harper and Collins, 2007

Don't even try to get this book at the library unless you're willing to wait in line a couple of years. Too many people know it's a book you have to read.

The Book of Negroes journeys into black slavery in America, to the 13 colonies to Nova Scotia and back to Africa, to Sierra Leone. You travel with Aminata, superheroine of sorts, whose sharp mind and relentless labour allow her to rise above the plight of her people. Just above, but not much. The novel, history-turned-fiction, notes who we used to get where we are.

The novel made me think of East of Berlin, the Tarragon play we saw this year, where a guy tries to live with the guilt from his ancestors' atrocities--to live in a world so fouled that even the attempted reparations are hopeless and crippled. I longed for Aminata's captors to truly make good but they never do or can because the community is too far gone.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Craft Supply Lust

Gotta cut back on sewing beasts, I'd been thinking. Too distracting. Too labour-intensive. Too ... well, goofy.

Then my good neighbour Jocelyn pranced over with a score from Value Village: a heap of candy-coloured embroidery floss, just for me. A few days later, an art teacher gifted me old buttons to die for. And worst of all--she gave me a sumptuous mohair jacket, too. It's furry even. Yellow. (See photo.) For some reason, wool items in good yellows are rare. I covet them.

I sorted floss and buttons. After a speedy laundering, I chopped up the jacket into ready pieces for sewing new beasts. I'm so done for.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Nice, uh, Vegetable Garden You've Got There

Look what the Ontario Science Centre grew this year!

The harvest will be back-breaking, and oh, the canning and preserving! Does anyone have Mason jars we can offer them? Come on. Let's all roll up our sleeves and help these poor, overburdened farmers.

Talk about biting off more than you can chew ....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Latest Read: I am the Messenger

I love Markus Zusak's sentences. His paragraphs, too.



I am the Messager is a young adult novel I enjoyed even as a middle-aged adult. Ed, 20-ish year old cab driver, receives playing cards. Aces. With hand-written names of people he is chosen to rescue, whether from fully loaded oppression or from lack of icecream.

Ed is great but his dog Doorman is spectacular. Doorman drinks coffee and stinks. He's the opposite of Audrey, Ed's female objet de longing. You're supposed to read the novel to find out who sends Ed the messages. I read on to find out whether Ed and Audrey unite. He's a self-professed sexual midget after all. Go ahead. Find out for yourself. The novel was published by Knopf in 2002 and has a big silver stamp of approval on the cover.

I'm aching to post the book's cover image but new concerns about copyright infringement are holding me back. Instead, here's an illustration of me chirping book recommendations to you.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mystery Vegetables

Guess what kind of vegetables these are. No, really. Guess.

Not melons.

Not bald kiwis.

Give up?

They're lemon cucumbers. Lemony in shape, and cucumbery in other qualities. And you never have to deal with English cucumber leftovers. They're just the right size for a salad.

Lemon cukes are growing in my backyard garden, lovingly tended by the Young Urban Farmers. Given the cucumber-growing protagonist in my novel, I have a tender spot for these vegetables. She tries to ditch her dirty drudgery--crazy girl. Who could leave behind these summery-cool, crispy vegetables?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Freedom Clothing Collective Delivery

I made a bunch of drawings and took them to Freedom Clothing Collective on Monday. Drawings as products, I figure, housed in retail-style packaging. I also brought in beasts now up for adoption and made from upcycled materials. The owners were great and friendly, and cooed happily over their new pieces. The store shows work from independent designers who like re-use materials.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Harvest Updates

I always thought zucchinis were long and green. Ha! Check out this bounty of pear shapes and flying saucers ("patty pans"). I think the green orbs are called "eight balls". As you can imagine, I'm searching for ways to cook up these guys. They've snuck into cake, pizza, lasagne and stir fries.

The purple hanging things are peas--a prettier colour off-screen. I don't find them as sweet as green peas, but they're easier to find. Once again, thanks to the Young Urban Farmers for growing cool veggies in our back yard. Did you hear Chris on CBC radio on Friday, spreading the word about city growing?

As the harvest comes in, I wait for results from the macro edit of my novel. The latest draft is with my editor at Great Plains Publications. Unless I have major work to do, we'll move on to the fussier micro edit soon. Growing a vegetable garden is a year-long project. The novel has taken five!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More than Great Food at Terroni

Woman cannot survive on homegrown vegetables alone. She needs restaurants too, and we love Terroni on Balmore Ave, Toronto. The pizza was a thin-crusted expanse of cheesy terrain. It had hunks of basil that could point and laugh at the prim garnishes of less confident dishes.

But that's just the pizza. The menu at Terroni opens with a foodie comic. True love.

Someone cares.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Veggie Gardens in other Weird Places

Alternate title: Is that a banana plant in your garden or are you just happy to see me?

My kids and I happened upon yet another unusual spot for a veggie garden. (The other was on the rooftop of the Royal Fairmont Hotel.) This little food group grows at the Toronto Zoo, and includes tropical plants. Coffee, too. Forget "Meet the Zookeeper". I wanted to attend a "Meet the Zoogardener", but alas, the zoo wasn't offering. And for some reason, my silly children were pulling at my sleeve and dragging me off to the monkeys.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


No cheerful garden posts this week.

Over the fence on Saturday--a horror. A life disappeared suddenly and tragically. Our 2 1/2 year-old neighbour, the little scurrying golden-haired girl, is gone. Rest in peace, little one. May your family gather strength. Somehow. And to hell with that swimming pool.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Carrot Fiesta

Aaack! (Shriek of delight.) These gorgeous beauties erupted from our garden plot. Crazy Elaine (Young Urban Farmers) planted not only seeds for orange carrots, but for red, yellow and white ones, too.

Peeling skims off the redness, I discovered. Or--if you want to get silly--you can peel only occasionally for striped carrots. Regardless of carrot colour or goofy peeling, all the varieties taste equally sweet.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Their Basil; My Basil

We took a field trip to the rooftop gardens and apiary on the Royal Fairmont Hotel, Toronto. We passed guarding stone lions on the ground floor to reach the Fairmont's basil. At our place, you trip over the garden house to get to the herbs. Still. Basil is basil. My basil plants grow happily in pots but keel over and die when I plant them the ground. I have no idea why.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sewing Frenzy

Last week I noticed this woman at a dry cleaning shop on Yonge. I'm her evil sewing twin. An order for wooldebeasts just came in, so I've been stitching like crazy. New plush beasts are under construction for Freedom Clothing Collective on Bloor St. in Toronto.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Before and After the Zucchini Harvest

What better place to add vegetables than to a cake? A chocolate one, no less.

Yesterday we celebrated a belated birthday for a friend. Sunday's harvest from the Young Urban Farmers was still fresh on the counter, so I shredded a zucchini into the batter.

The entire cake disappeared down various throats within hours. I told the kids about the zucchini during their final bites.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Harnessing the Power of Literary Heroines

I'm in the throes of editing my novel now, to be launched in the spring of 2011 with Great Plains Publications in their teen fiction series.

To help me edit, I stitched up Anne of Green Gables. She's been whispering all sorts of wise and encouraging thoughts in my ear as I work through the chapters.

Ann-with-an-e has a rather Mona Lisa-esque, enigmatic smile, don't you think?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Squash Leaves Dominate Veggie Garden

If Adam returned to the Garden of Eden, I wouldn't recommend a fig leaf. One of these squash leaves would cover him up like boxer shorts.

Actually, these monster leaves are hiding lettuce plants in their cool shade. Maybe you can spot the nasturtium too. I grew up in rural Ontario, where no one needed space-saving tricks. This lettuce-under-the-squash-leaf trick is my new favourite. It came from Elaine of the Young Urban Farmers.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Comfort Doll

On the sidewalk last year, my neighbour told me about comfort dolls--small dolls you make and send to ICROSS in B.C. The organization sends the dolls as packaging for donated medical supplies and also for gifts for kids in countries ravaged my war and poverty.

Most dolls are knitted. I wanted to make a doll, but knitting makes me so sleepy and frustrated because the job never seems to end. So I designed a pattern for a sewn, hand-embroidered doll. This girlie is made from upcycled, wool sweaters and Ecofill. I made about half a dozen. Time to kiss this baby goodbye.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

First Harvest: Garlic Scapes

If I waited a week, these garlic tips would have burst out in purple flowers. Instead, I snipped them, chopped them, and whirred them in the blender with olive oil and parmesan. Presto pesto. The scapes tasted milder than full-fledged bulb garlic.

Thanks to Farmer Elaine (Young Urban Farmers) for the tips on dealing with scapes. Dinner was yum, and now our garlic plants can work harder to beam energy to the bulbs in the ground instead of those perky but useless flowers.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Favourite Book about Writing

A blue ribbon to Anne Lamott. Bird by Bird is a warm and intimate conversation about the craft of writing and about daring to be honest.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

1st Runner Up for Fave Book about Writing

I adore any drip of ink that falls from Lynda Barry's pen.

What it is
(Drawn and Quarterly, 2008) is jam-packed with illustrations, anecdotes, memories and clips of philosophy about writing. It's a celebration of image and word-making in a full-colour mix of watercolour, ink and collage.

In the last pages, Ms. Barry gets down to business and distills some of her workshop exercises. I tend to suck at exercises from books. I rebelliously nestle into the pillows and refuse to be bossed around, but Ms. Barry tweaked my interest. Her 7-minute writing exercise turned into an hour-and-a-half long sketchbook/writing trip down memory lane. What it is makes you want to write.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2nd Runner-up for Fave Book About Writing

I picked up On Writing by Stephen King book for next-to-nothing in the lower level of Union Station in Toronto. I almost died of happiness. Almost missed my train, too.

This book traces the journey (challenging, but not at all frightening) though a writer's process. Don't get me wrong. I can't watch more than five minutes of a Stephen King movie without running from the room and singing "Oh Susannah" with my fingers stuck in my ears. But I was gratefully absorbed by Mr. King's frank discussion of how he writes, lets his draft percolate, and edits.

Even if you can't swing a deal in Union Station, I'd recommend this book for anyone who loves to write and is curious about how a prolific scribbler works through a novel.

First runner-up coming soon.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Seed Sorting and Possible Menaces

Here's Farmer Elaine (not her official title, but I like it) at her insta-veggie lab on our back step.

Friends and neighbours stopped by on the weekend and let me gush about my vitamin-rich paradise sponsored by the Young Urban Farmers. A few visitors sounded skeptical about opening one's yard to "strangers", but tapping on my laptop to the music of Elaine and Rosie's backyard laughter is the least of my fears.

Other, darker perils do concern me. Bet you a bushel of tomatoes that this very minute a raccoon is sitting in our silver maple, emailing her four thousand best friends about an upcoming all-you-can-eat buffet at, oh, say about peak-harvest time.

Doubt I'll get an evite.

Farmer Elaine, with tricks up her slightly-soiled sleeve, isn't worried. I'm keeping an eye on strange movements in the silver maple.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Latest Fun Read: Glister and the Haunted Teapot

A mysterious package lands on Glister's doorstep. What is it, Daddy? A haunted teapot? Yikes! From his teapot-grave, a ghostly author-wannabe emerges to finish his first novel. Is perky Glister up for the job? She’s got exceptional typing skills, and she’s a natural with plot development, but the teapot’s wordy ghost is sucking her life away. What’s a girl to do?

Glister and the Haunted Teapot is charmingly written and illustrated by Brit andi watson (Image Comics Inc.).

Rating: !!!!! (5 exclamation marks for fun-ness.)

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Garden is ALIVE!!!

Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, peas, beans, carrots, lettuce, basil ... the seeds are in the plants are taking root.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Making the Beds

After dispersing 3 cubic yards of triple mix (thanks for the supply, Homeland of Scarborough), we have beds for our veggies. The Young Urban Farmers are nursing seedlings, and soon our back yard will be teeming with tomato plants, eggplants, pepper and tomato, basil, peas, beans, basil, zucchini .... and I'm not just dreaming. The plants have already arrived. Photos to follow.

Friday, May 14, 2010

And Then There Were Peas

Our veggie garden adventure (sponsored by the Young Urban Farmers and their fearless/ slightly sodden leader Elaine) continues.

The first cold crop is up. This pea plant is a particularly handsome and jaunty fellow, n'est-ce pas?

Today, a load of triple mix arrives from Homeland Garden. Soon, Elaine will truck in seedlings for the back acreage. Okay, fine. The back footage.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Spring and Popsicles

The icecream truck is singing in our neighbourhood, and requests are flying for popsicles and snow cones. This is a ceramic tile I made and ornamented a few years ago. It reminds me of spring.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Trouble in VeggieGarden Paradise

It's amazing dandelions could grow in this space. Not only is the soil dense and hard, it's riddled with gravel. (Blogger pauses to wipe sweat off forehead with back of dirty hand.)

If you read an earlier post, you'll know I've joined forces with the Young Urban Farmers , an organization of energetic garden go-getters that promises "backyard vegetables without the work". Trouble is, you can't have vegetables without good soil and lots of it.

Current stresses in paradise:

1) Did we bite off more lawn than we can chew?

2) How much triple mix does our lifeless gray stratum need? How about costs in time? Cash? Blisters? (All are under review.)

3) A local gardener suggested using part of our space to grow green cover for rejuvenating the soil. He suggested hairy vetch.

Does hairy vetch look as nasty as it sounds?

Stay tuned.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What 9-Year-Old Birthday Partiers are Talking About

Hosting a t-shirt painting party for nine year olds is a definite domestic hazard, but at least I learned what the girls are talking, yelling and singing about. In summary:

1) Justin Bieber (A Canadian pop star, for those of you over fourteen.)

2) Anti-pink protests Pink is dead. Offensive. Insulting, even. My apologies to the poor kid who got stuck with the pink t-shirt.

3) Did I mention Justin Bieber? One girl insisted he was ugly. I suggested the judgement was in fact a veiled admission of her interest in his cuteness. She wasn't listening.

4)Advanced skipping techniques

5) We Are The World Because schoolkids in our area will soon be singing the Haiti tribute in unison, the girls suddenly broke out in swaying song. Michael Jackson would be proud. Maybe.

At least no t-shirts were damaged during the impromptu chorus.

6) Earth Rangers, the website.

7) Selena Gomez My pre-pubescent gang revered boy pop stars. A shift to equality is better, right?

and of course
8)a screaming rendition of Happy Birthday.

Will the girls be yelling and singing at next year's party, or will their tones hush? Will pink return, or are little-girly, childish hues gone forever? Don't even answer that one.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dwarf Knitting Needles

I'm no knitting queen, but to prepare kids for Life, they need to know the basics: how to make change, hand signal on a bike and how to knit. So when my friend Kyra (9 years old) told me about kid-sized knitting needles, I ran out and bought a pair. You can't get them everywhere. The woman at my local yarn shop insisted they weren't available in Canada, but Romni Wools on Queen street in Toronto has the ones made by Susan Bates. My daughter loves her new needles. I like to think the shorter, chopstick length makes them less appealing for poking her brother.