Archive November 2013

Secret Garden: Bruce Springsteen Live

Posted by on Nov 27, 2013 in My Blog | Leave a comment

Back in August, I posted about Bruce Springsteen’s incredible song, Secret Garden.  This included a somewhat complicated summary of where to get a recording of this song.  You can still refer to that, or you can watch this recent pro-shot release of a live version of one of my favourite songs.  Here it is … Secret Garden


Click here  for the original post, which includes lyrics and buying options or go to

Can a plant be thanked? : A Book Review

Posted by on Nov 22, 2013 in My Blog | Leave a comment

Can a plant be thanked?  With this question, Merilyn Simonds distills her book, A New Leaf, down to its essence – a gardener’s love for her garden, which shines through in every page of this book.

A New Leaf is a collection of essays from Merilyn Simonds‘s blog the Frugalista Gardener.   The book chronicles a year in her garden, starting with her Spring-time impatience to begin another year of planting and ending with winter dreams and plans for next year’s garden.




The bounty and the disappointments.

Life at The Leaf, the 200-year-old stone house near Kingston, Ontario revolves around the ever-evolving garden.  There are the advisors: the Rosarian, the Humanist, the Frisian and the Garden Guru.  There are the visitors: The Grand Girls, the Elder and Younger sons, the Poet, the Carpenter.  But in the end, there is just Merilyn and her husband who she lovingly, and sometimes ironically, calls My Beloved.  Together, they tell the story of their home through the plants and flowers that they plant, care for, and harvest.  Merilyn translates it all into her own lyrical and insightful essays in A New Leaf.

Not only do we enjoy seeing gardening through new eyes, but reading the book enriches both our souls and our minds as we grow to understand not just the how’s of the garden, but the why’s and the why not’s.  We share in the both the bounty and in the profound disappointments.

Pleasure is the only rule.

If you’re only going to have one rule, Merilyn nailed it.

“Pleasure is the only rule.  The exhuberant sweep of colour, the sweet scents and sharp tastes, the upthrust trailing shapes, the accidental pairings that make me laugh or weep with their unlikely beauty – we’re bound together, my garden and me, in an ecstacy of growth.”

Hers is no ordinary garden and she is no ordinary gardener.  While she says she’s not a serious gardener, she only means that she doesn’t follow all the rules and that “no bus tour will ever traipse across my white-clover lawn”.  Perhaps not, but she has certainly piqued my curiousity for what feels like a few acres of paradise.


“Can a plant be thanked?  What’s the point, you might say, but even so, it is the plants I want to acknowledge, for their endless inspiration, the joy they bring and the frustrations that make me question why I do what I do.”



The Paradise Project.

book-cover-and-insideThe Paradise Project is a limited-edition flash-fiction book by Merilyn Simonds that was designed, typeset and letterpress printed by book artist, Hugh Barclay at Thee Hellbox Press.  It includes art images from Merilyn’s son, Erik Mohr, and handmade paper by Emily Cook.

So, so beautiful.



Poetry and Art.

Posted by on Nov 19, 2013 in My Blog | Leave a comment


“Poetry and Art:  One of the biggest detriments to poetry and art is that we have cast them in society as entertainment when they’re air to breathe.  We need art and poetry to help us express who we are and to stay in relationship with what matters.”

 ~ Mark Nepo



Photoplus Expo: Stay in the Race

Posted by on Nov 15, 2013 in My Blog | Leave a comment

It’s photography.  Where is everyone running to?

Everyone is a photographer these days.  The internet, our phones, the world – we are inundated with photos.  Who needs more?  Why worry about being an expert, when good is good enough?  Click, share, done.

But like anything, if you take a peek behind the curtain of photography there’s a whole world of experts and passionate artists who are diving deep into nooks and crannies that you didn’t even know existed. That’s how I feel every October when I walk onto the exhibition floor of PhotoPlus Expo in New York City. It’s a dazzling football-field-sized floor crammed with both the expected and the unexpected in the world of photography.  Big names like Nikon and Epson share the floor with smaller guys, all of them hocking the latest gear and ideas.

Why run?  Because it’s fun.  Just as importantly, in the hyper-changing world of photography, you need to keep up or you will be left behind.



Running to Stand Still

These days a lot of  effort goes into understanding, purchasing, and getting confused by technology.  (Maybe the confused part is just me.)  In fact, it’s been said that photography has changed more in the past five years than it changed in the previous fifty years.  That’s a lot of change.  And it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down.

So, what does that mean? It means that it’s a good idea to keep up.  Even if you don’t plan to lead the race, it’s a good idea to decide where you want to be.  Maybe you’re happy being a middle-packer, or maybe you like to be out in front.  Either way, it’s good to be aware because in this time of fast change, even standing still requires effort.

Follow the Leaders

One of my favourite things is the speaker series — two and three hour seminars on a wide variety of topics.  Unfortunately, there were no celebrity floral photographers this year (what?), so I had to settle for technology and music.  This year, these were my picks:

John Paul Caponigro – Fine Art Digital Printing

I saw John Paul Caponigro‘s seminar last year and signed up for it again this year.  While ‘Fine Art Digital Printing’ sounds like it would be artsy, it’s not.  It’s all about technology, mostly the frustrating world of color mangement, soft proofing, printer drivers.  If you’re yawning, spend some time trying to figure all this out on your own.  It’s worth the price of admission to gain a couple of tips and to know that you’re not the only one struggling to get the image on your computer screen to look like the one that comes out of your printer.


Sign up to John’s newsletter to gain access to this wealth of information for free.


Mark Seliger – Keynote Presentation

Photography and music go arm in arm, and Mark Seliger’s presentation wound them even tighter together.  There’s something about a master photographer presenting incredible photography videos while his band Rusty Truck plays the live soundtrack to the video.  A vivid visual and audio performance.

Lynn Goldsmith – Rock and Roll Photography

Lynn Goldsmith is a fantastic speaker whose career spans several decades of rock and roll.  While showing us great images, she told us her vision for the artist and how she helped that come alive in a time before stylists and entourages.  Two hours flew by.  Wish we had more time.

Stephen Johnson – 12 Steps to Better Photography

Knowing that the morning session would cover a lot of technology, I still wanted more.  Not really, but it’s kind of like spinach.  It’s not your favourite, but it’s good for you.  Every time I go to these seminars I learn something new, sometimes big, sometimes small that makes my photography better.  This seminar was no exception.  Great tips and reinforcement of other things I’d learned.  More great information at his website.

Mary Virginia Swanson

I didn’t go to this seminar this year, but it’s definitely worth a mention because I’ve seen her speak in previous years. Always an interesting presentation on the moving target that is the photography market.  It’s amazing how much it changes from year to year.  I’m sorry I missed it this year … a scheduling issue.  It’s worth checking out her web site.

Run Your Own Race

When you’re doing what you love, the majority of your time is spent on your craft and doing the work that needs doing.  Sometimes that means that your nose is pretty close to the grind stone.  That’s not a bad thing, but it’s also important to get away from that, gain some perspective, learn from some experts, see what’s new, stay current, find new things, let older things go, gain confirmation of some conclusions you came to on your own, gain new insights.

Every fall for the past 30 years, Photoplus Expo, in some form or other, has provided the opportunity to do just that.  Throw in a trip to New York City and it’s a wonderful, informative, way to spend a day.  Or two.  Or three.





Monkey Balls: Yup, that’s right.

Posted by on Nov 8, 2013 in My Blog | Leave a comment

I don’t know how this got past the plant-naming authorities, but Monkey Balls it is.












I’d never heard of them, but I came across them twice in the past week — once in my floral design class and another at my sister’s house.  So, I stopped and took notice of these decorative seed pods.


Otherwise known as Asclepias physocarpa, balloon plant, family jewels tree, or swan plant these conversation starters are part of the milkweed family, with milky sap in the plant’s stems and leaves.  Like other milkweed plants, they serve as excellent butterfly attracters, particularly monarch butterflies.


This fall ornamental is native to Southeast Africa, but grows in North America — it is a perennial in warmer climes and an annual in cooler ones.  It grows up to six feet tall and four feet wide. While the flowers are white and inverted, it is the seed pods that are showy.  These seeds spread easily, so it has weed potential.












Very interesting decorative plant!



Check out what happened to the Monkey Balls!



Definitely from the Milkweed family.








%d bloggers like this: