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I like to sleep late in the morning…

Here at 27th Street, we get up very early. At about 5:37 every morning, the lions start a demolition derby, crashing around the house, jumping on each other, jumping on us, bouncing off walls. If we want to sleep in, one of us has to stagger out of bed, go downstairs and put down some kibble. Then all is right with the world. Here is David Bromberg…

Maybe Mr. Bromberg doesn’t have cats.

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The coldest weekend of the winter….

….and I’m thinking about gardening.

Last year I wasn’t able to do much at all in the garden due to my¬† injured ankle. I hope to make up for it this coming season. My ankle and leg are doing great. I’ve stopped going to physiotherapy and so far I just keep getting stronger. As well, I’m retiring from my job at Canada Post in April, and part of the plan is to schedule daily gardening time, an activity which can only refresh body and soul.

Thanks to hard work by Tuffy P, our front gardens have been doing very well, and so this season my focus will be on improving the gardens out back. I have some plans in mind and hope to accomplish at least some of them this season.

Our yard is pretty deep and we have a woodland area at the back. This includes a number of mature spruce trees around the perimeter, a path, and some old shrubs. The shrubs have grown away from their original planting, trying to seek some sun away from the spruces which grew up around them. The result is a lot of scrawny woody shrubs with greenery on the west side facing the yard. I’m going to think about ways to renew this area. I want to keep a woodland feel, but I think it’s time to replace some of the old shrubbery with some new things. I haven’t figured out what will work best yet, but it is after all just mid-February so I have some time to think about it.

I’m also thinking about building a platform in the midst of the woodland area – not a big one, just big enough to hold a bench, a place to sit in our little urban forest. This is still in the idea stage. I’m not sure yet if it is something I will construct or carve or something I stumble across and re-purpose. In the fall I planted two wooden pillars as an entry point to the woodland area. These are screaming for a mosaic treatment. There is also an opportunity to add to the tops of these pillars with sculptural elements or maybe more fun birdhouses. Lots of possibilities there.


Garden Pillars

Then there are the imagination stations – there are three of them back there. Really there are two and a half as the most recent one isn’t so well developed yet.


Imagination Station #2

Imagination Station #2 is doing very well. Some vines from our neighbour’s yard have crept over and found it and made the structure appear naturalized. The first station is in danger of collapse and needs some structural and dimensional stability, so I’ll have to see what I have around the yard to help with that. The most recent one will benefit from the work I plan on doing with the woodland shrubs as I can build it up with any plant material I take away during that effort.

Eventually I want to make a modest flagstone patio area in front of the deck, a more defined area for our old green egg bbq. Since we use a charcoal bbq, I’m reluctant to put it up on a wooden deck, and prefer it in the yard area. I’d like to give that area some shape and its own character.

We have a round garden with a birdhouse on a flagpole out back which I’d like to expand. Some time ago my friend Dena posted a link on Facebook about an African Style keyhole garden. These area both functional and attractive and I thought something like this might be an interesting addition in our yard. This is actually the sunniest part of the yard, and I want to plant a number of veggies there. At best our yard isn’t sunny enough for tomatoes or peppers to thrive, but it does pretty well for greens and herbs and carrots and onions and this year I intend to plant quite a few things. In fact I’ve already ordered up some quality seeds to start off on the right foot.

My first two shade gardens both need some work. One is in danger of being overtaken by the woodsy area and I have to decide if I want to go with that flow or fight against it. The other perennial garden needs a good clean-up job and maybe a little replanting. Two seasons ago I planted some shrubs on the north side in an area with some old tree stumps and roots. This is doing pretty well and is becoming an anchor in that area of the yard.

All this is just the tip of the iceberg. I imagine I’ll be adding to the back gardens for years to come. Meanwhile, I heard on the radio this will be the coldest weekend of the winter, a trend expected to break by Tuesday next week.

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Long Branch is getting a Garden Tour…

….and Tuffy P and her friend Nadia are behind it. Tuffy P (AKA Sheila Gregory in the real world) started a Garden Tour blog. Check it out. I’ll be providing the banjo music here at 27th Street.

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Banjo Tramp

Here’s a tune called Banjo Tramp. I don’t know anything about the history of this one – if you know, please comment. It’s performed here by Dave Landreth – I found this on the YouTube machine. Mr. Landreth is an excellent player. I think he lives in St. Louis.

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Storytime: Jerzy the Rounder

I’ve published the 8th story in my series of short-short stories – The Lazy Allen Stories – over at my story site. If you enjoy short fiction, please head on over and give Jerzy the Rounder and my other stories a read. I’d love to hear what you think of them (don’t worry, I have a thick skin). Like the others, this is a work of fiction; I made it up.

My goal is to publish a new edition of The Lazy Allen Stories each month. If you like these stories, please tell your friends. If you’re head over heels crazy about these stories, and you want to support this project, please visit my Patreon page.

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The 16th Annual Banjo Special at Hugh’s Room


Arnie Naiman


Chris Coole with the Lonesome Ace Stringband

My friend Arno and I went out to Hugh’s Room tonight for the 16th Annual Banjo Special. I think Arno and I have now been to 3 of them. This show features Chris Coole, Chris Quinn, Arnie Naiman and Brian Taheny along with a number of their musical friends. These guys and their various bands are all top drawer players in the banjo universe. It’s a treat to see them perform together, showing off various styles of banjo playing.

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Tim Noonan at Yumart



Yesterday afternoon we were at the opening of Tim Noonan’s show of new paintings. That’s Tim in the picture with his painting, Turtle Island. Check out Tim’s work at Yumart Gallery. With this exhibition, Tim continues to bring his exuberant, sometimes jarring, expressionist palette to the landscape, including the urban landscape. It’s a very enjoyable show.

We’ve known Tim for a long time – in fact we studied together at York University in the early 80s. At some point a few years after that, Tim, me, Sheila Gregory, and Ron Bloore used to go out “Sunday Painting” together. We would drive out of the city and look for interesting landscape to paint and draw. We never knew where we would end up. I recall Tim would often rush off on his own and come back with some of the most stunning watercolour paintings. Bloore would usually find a comfortable spot and do pencil drawings of the forest floor at his feet. There was usually a picnic lunch involved.

I loved those painting and drawing trips, which we did off and on for a number of seasons. Once we drove up to the Sundridge area for a weekend of painting and drawing. We rented cabins by a lovely lake. I recall when we booked the cabins, we told the folks there we were painters. They assumed that meant house painters. I guess they figured there was a house painting convention in the area.



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The Ladybug

The Ladybug is becoming increasingly comfortable with the other cats and the dogs. This morning for the first time she had breakfast with the others. IMG_5403.jpg

She has a great spirit and she loves to play and to be around us humans.