If I could play outside…

So, we’re now in the middle of April and it’s still f*$%ing winter.

I’m beyond my usual seasonal blues. I’m now bitter and angry as we’re hunkered down during what the news is calling a “potentially historic ice storm.” I tired of being cold all the time and I am completely out of ideas as to how to entertain a busy almost 3-year-old inside (she doesn’t like the cold either and loses her shit if you try to get her into a snowsuit).

My seedings in the window yesterday while my daffodils are were getting pelted with ice and snow outside below.

I want to go outside and play in the backyard.

I need sunshine.

I’m withering and wilting!

Right now, all I can do is pin gardening ideas and make plans for better days, if they ever come.

Here are my backyard goals for this summer:

1. Grow more flowers.

Last year I was focused on growing food and will be again this year. I’ve been feeling like we need a bit more colour in our yard though. We don’t have many flower beds that are in full sun so that means I’ll need to cut a bed somewhere in the middle of the yard and I can’t quite decide where to do it.

2. Grow more squash.

I was so excited about my starship squash last summer, I’ve picked up a few more varieties and the seeds are germinating as I write this. I have the same dilemma here as I do with growing sun-loving flowers though. I need to find a sufficiently sunny spot for them. I should also build a structure to grow them vertically too. Maybe something like this arch?

This photo is from Get Busy Gardening)

3. Make our deck cozy and hospitable.

Our deck could be lovely, it’s just unusable at the times we want to be on it. There are three main issues that prevent us from fully enjoying this space.

First, our cushions are usually packed away, either in the garage or somewhere in the house and I’m often too lazy to get them when I want to sit outside. The deck isn’t covered, so I don’t like leaving them exposed to the elements, but we need somewhere to store them on the deck so they’re readily available.

Another problem is our deck is positioned so that the setting sun beats down on it right at dinner time so we can’t enjoy dinner out there. We tried curtains a few years ago but they were destroyed in a windstorm and never replaced. We need something to shield us from the sunset that is sturdy enough to leave out but not permanently in place, as I would like to be able to look out over the yard throughout the rest of the day. I’m currently at a loss as to what I’m going to do there.

This is the deck on a much nicer day than today.

My last barrier to fully enjoying the deck is that when the sun goes down it gets too buggy to sit outside. I’m one of those people with whatever blood type mosquitoes love so I get swarmed at dusk. Aside from planting more repelling herbs and flowers and buying more citronella candles, I’d like to get some kind of a chair that I could cover with mosquito netting at night, if need be, as I want nothing more to than to spend my summer nights reading outside with a glass of wine.

I currently have my eye on this as a solution:

It’s from Wayfair

But for now, all I can do sit inside and sulk.

What are your gardening plans for this summer?

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Public Service Announcements

Here are a few fantastic things you need to know about if you don’t already:

The other day I was scrolling through YouTube trying to find some music to play for Little B. I’m trying to expose her to a variety of songs and genres. Somehow, I stumbled upon a cover of Olivia Newton John’s Physical by Juliana Hatfield. We loved it, and upon further investigation, it turns out she’s made an entire album of Olivia Newton-John songs!

I was such a big fan of Juliana Hatfield in the 90s – remember that time that she played the Christmas angel on My So-Called Life? Ya, that was awesome. Coupled with the fact that as a child I absolutely worshipped Olivia Newton-John, this combination is musical heaven for me.

Speaking of amazing women:

Have you heard the Unladylike podcast?

It’s a wonderfully sensible approach to feminism hosted by two very likeable and relatable women. They tackle a variety of issues and feature real stories from women who have faced adversity. Each episode has left me feeling informed, empowered and slightly outraged.

And, completely unrelated:

Dill pickle crunchy toppers!

A friend recommended these last week and I’m hooked. I guess you’re supposed to put them on burgers or casseroles but I don’t really make either of those things so I’ve just been eating them by the handful. They’re delicious and they’re made with real cucumber!

Seriously though, it always irks me a little when a company has to boast about the fact that a product actually contains the thing for which the foodstuff is named. How is that a selling feature when you’re reminding people that your products are mostly processed crap? Just let me assume I’m eating something akin to food, even if I’m not, thank you very much! Anyway, despite this, I can’t seem to keep my paws out of the container whenever I pass through the kitchen.

What are you excited about this week?

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What I Read This Winter – Part 2

No One Is Coming to Save Us, Stephanie Powell Watts

This book touted as a modern version of The Great Gatsby but having read it, I think it’s a bit of a stretch. This is not to say this isn’t a good book though. I did enjoy reading it. It just wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.

Set in a small economically depressed American town in the south, the story mainly focuses on busybody matriarch Sylvia, who despite having her own apartment, spends most of her time at her former house, now owned and occupied by her middle-aged married daughter, Ava. Ava’s marriage was troubled at best and then further complicated when her childhood friend JJ shows up after a long absence. Now that he’s achieved some degree of success, he’s back to win her heart.

There are a few common themes and moments that loosely connected it to The Great Gatsby but the characters are far more endearing despite their flaws. It was really more about regular people struggling to get what they want out of life. I supposed though, had it not been blurbed with the comparison, I may not have picked it up so I guess from a marketing perspective, it worked.

My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout

This was such a random book selection for me. I needed to download something to my eReader right away and this one was the first one that was available in the “recommended” section from our local library. I didn’t even read a synopsis before I began and had no clue what it was about or what to expect.

Most of the story takes place over a few days when Lucy is laying in a hospital bed while fighting an infection after a surgery. Her mother had come from rural Illinois to visit and as they talk about some of the folks from her hometown, she reflects on her upbringing. She is very subtle in her revelations so that, as a reader, you really have to stop and consider her implications.

It reminded me a tiny bit of The Glass Castle in that the (in this case, fictional) protagonist grew up in abject poverty and has moved on to a much different life while maintaining a complicated relationship with her family.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson

I can’t remember the last time I’ve read a novel that had such palpable tension right from the start.

The story is narrated by Mary Katherine, a teenager who lives with her older sister and feeble Uncle on a large familial estate. The rest of their family had perished in a tragedy many years before and they live in isolation from the locals who seem to fear and loathe them. As the story unfolds you begin to understand the events that occurred years before.

It was fantastically bizarre, and apparently, there’s a movie version coming out sometime this year.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Heather O’Neill

When I started reading this book I found something oddly familiar about it. The theme of being young, poor and exploited in Montreal reminded me of Lullabies for Little Criminals and then I realized they were authored by the same person. Lullabies for Little Criminals is one of those books that just haunts you years later. That gave me a bit of an idea of what to prepare for as I read on.

The novel is about Perriot and Rose who met when they were orphaned babies. Both talented and charismatic, as teenagers they fell in love as they toured the city performing on behalf of their orphanage. They were separated when they were sent out to work as servants, but spent their early adult years trying to find each other while they tried to stay afloat in the city during the depression.

Overall, it was a bit weird. The prose is unique and visceral. At times I could almost feel the grit and hunger of depression era Montreal coming off the pages. It wasn’t as upsetting as Lullabies though. It read more like an early 20th-century fairy tale, but without a conventional happily ever after.

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