Monday, July 5, 2010

July Brights

My Garden Shimmers in the Sun
of a July Heatwave




The bees especially love this little "Patch of Provence" with its wonderful scent

Monday, June 21, 2010

The South March Highlands: Ottawa's Fragile Urban Wilderness

The South March Highlands: Ottawa's Fragile Urban Wilderness: Narration: Paul Renaud Video & Editing: Gord Stephen Photos: Sherry Leavitt and other local residents

I thought that I would share this video as it provides an excellent summary of the situation previously blogged in Saving Beaver Pond Forest in Kanata, Ontario and termed by some to be the "largest ecological disaster to ever hit the city."

The effort to save this land is still gaining momentum including City of Ottawa to appear in court over west-end construction . You can help by spread the word and contacting the government officials listed at the end of the video.

Join the Facebook group at:
I want to save the land North of Beaver Pond Park in Kanata Ontario .

Follow on Twitter at: South March

Friday, June 11, 2010

Saving Beaver Pond Forest in Kanata, Ontario

Beaver Pond Woods - Just thought you should know by Gord Stephen

My family and I have always felt incredibly fortunate to have this old growth forest in our "backyard".  It's horrible to think that 182 hectacres of it will soon be cleared for a subdivision of 3,200 homes.  Too sad to think about the fate of  the 17 at risk species that currently make their home here, not to mention the other 637 species and 164 species of birds.  Too sad to think that the nature paths we've walked, biked, skied and snowshowed will be no more.

It was zoned for development in 1981 pre-dating the Endangered Species Act of 1998 which apparently does not void its zoning.  Developers Urbandale and Richcraft are looking at a start date of mid-July to begin cutting.  How could this have happened?

The Kanata Kourier-Standard just published Community takes last stand on its front page.  Its Editorial, Memories at the Beaver Pond, sums up the situation:
Saturday, June 5, over 400 residents gathered at the Beaver Pond to show the city they don't want a new subdivision choking out a precious natural sanctuary.
Hopefully, the developers and the city will take notice, the way they did back in 1999.  It's not impossible.

So get out there and make some memories.  In a few months, it may be all you have left.
Efforts are still being made to save this land.  You can join the Facebook group at:
I want to save the land North of Beaver Pond Park in Kanata Ontario .

New Post: The South March Highlands: Ottawa's Fragile Urban Wilderness is an excellent summary of the situation.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Shades of May

In celebration of Victoria Day
some vignettes from my garden






Enjoy the long weekend!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Elizabeth Woodville: A Queen of the May

Elizabeth Woodville, artist unknown

On May 1, 1464 the beautiful Elizabeth Woodville secretly married the newly crowned Edward IV of England.  Contemporary rumour suggests that Elizabeth managed to bring this wedding about by her calculated refusal of the young king's amorous advances, the same tactic so famously used by Anne Boleyn sixty years later on Elizabeth's grandson, Henry VIII.  Talk about women who managed to change history.

Following her coronation on May 26, 1465, Elizabeth lived an extraordinary life at the centre of medieval England.  Ambitious and intelligent she saw the fall and rise of her family fortunes during the reigns of Richard III and Henry VII; her descendants rule over Great Britian to this day.  A powerful woman, she definitely evoked strong, conflicting feelings and was said to be both a witch and the inspiration for the Queen of Hearts playing card.

I have often come across brief, tantalizing glimpses of Elizabeth in tales of the Tudors and the Plantagenets so I was delighted to find Phillipa Gregory's new novel The White Queen which allowed me to spend a bit more time with this fascinating personage.

This novel manages to deliver a lot of historical fact wrapped up as pure entertainment with liberal doses of romance and mysticism thrown in for good measure.

After thoroughly enjoying Gregory's story, I dug up an old favourite to act as a scholarly companion,  Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes by Bertram Fields.  Fields, a lawyer by trade, tackles the mystery of Elizabeth's two sons, Edward and Richard who were in line for the throne and disappeared under mysterious circumstances from the Tower of London. 

It's intriguing to get a feel for the political motives and propoganda that have shaped our perception of some major players in history.  Richard III certainly appears to be a much better man than was ever portrayed by Shakespeare, Henry VII and the Duke of Buckingham emerge as suspects and Elizabeth's actions are analyzed for clues.

After 500 years, we will probably never know the full truth of Elizabeth Woodville's life.  She remains an enchanting mystery but maybe that's exactly how it should be for a Queen of the May.

Update September 8, 2013: For more of my musings on Anne Boleyn see Anne Boleyn: The French Connection on Tatiana's Tea Room.

Find Tatiana Dokuchic on Google+

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Queen of the May

Flore by Jan Massys (1559)

I've always considered May Day to be one of the most magical days of the year.

The thought of it certainly evokes a jumble of ideas and images in my head. Pagan rituals celebrating the growing season; the absolute relief of making it through another winter; Flora the goddess of flowers; the May Queen; the Maypole; Mayday (as in "help me" or "m'aider");
Anne Boleyn's world crashing down around her at a May Day Tournament;
Elizabeth Woodville's secret marriage to the newly crowned Edward VI of England.

Did they really put the Queen of the May to death after the celebrations were over?

Perhaps May Magic is so powerful because of both the dark and the light but at this time of year it is so easy to believe that the light is in ascendance!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Time for Trilliums

As a child I was taken on many an excursion through the woods of Northwestern Ontario by my intrepid Auntie Annie.  Armed with copies of Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America plus A Field Guide to Wildflowers : Northeastern and North-Central North America (Peterson Field Guides) and two salami sandwiches we would make our way through the underbrush.  Auntie Annie firmly maintained that the sandwiches were for our lunch but I always suspected that they were part of the backup plan, just in case we got lost and had to survive until rescued.

Sometimes we had a destination in mind and one of my favourites was "Oh My Golly Jungle".  Timing was everything with this place (they didn't call it "Oh My Golly" for nothing).  Too soon and we had to make our way through a bog that could suck the sneakers right off of our feet.  Too late and the going was easy but there was no reward at the end.  Just right and you found yourself in a amazing clearing full of Lady's Slippers (Cypripedioideae).  It was magic!

Sometimes we just set out to "see what we could see" taking our time, enjoying the moment and developing an appreciation for our Canadian flora and fauna.   This, I was taught, should remain where/how you found it and should NEVER EVER be picked, plucked or otherwise tampered with.

Many years later I started creating a tiny bit of forest garden in my own yard, slowly adding shade loving ferns and hardy hostas.  Of course, what I really lusted after were wildflowers, Trilliums being at the top of the list.  One of the first spring wildflowers, they taunted me with their jaunty white flowers blooming in profusion and yet so unattainable.  Though I discovered that it is actually legal to pick them in Ontario (as long as they aren't in a provincial park) I just couldn't do it.  It seemed like a horrible betrayal, especially if they did not survive the transplant which is prone to happen.  The wrath of Auntie Annie echoed across the years.  She may be 95 now but she's still fiesty!

Imagine my delight when I discovered that Trilliums are now being cultivated and that the good people at  Make It Green could provide me with some.  Of course, they are only available in rather limited quantities and only at the right time of the year, illusive little devils that they are. So due to one thing and another (read a life that was way too busy to take time for Trilliums) it took me five years to actually bring my first batch home.  I tucked them into my garden this week and then celebrated by taking a few photos of their "wild" siblings who live just on the other side of our fence.

I will be keeping an eye on their progress while I ponder my next gardening move.  Any idea where I could find cultivated Lady's Slippers?

Photos: Trilliums 10-04-14 by Tatiana Dokuchic, PinkSlipper,  T. grandiflorum

Update May 5, 2012:  It took two years, but these Trilliums are now flowering in my garden!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Tudors: The Final Seduction

Grab some popcorn, the final season of The Tudors starts tonight.
 Henry VIII only has two wives left to go!

Sit back, relax, forget about historical accuracy (note to self) and just enjoy!

Find out more at the Official Site.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wiki's Wicked Ways

John William Waterhouse: Pandora (detail) - 1896

I became a wiki editor way back in the summer of 2006.  Now it wasn't Wikipedia that first caught my attention, but a small, "hobby" wiki open to anyone and everyone who was interested in that particular pastime.  It was clean, simple, easy to use & absolutely bursting with potential.

I loved it!

And so began my affair with "the wiki way".  I brought it into my GoC department, aided & abetted by a wonderful band of WikiElves who were as enamoured of it as I was.  Though it started as solution to a specific business requirement we KNEW it would grow to be so much more.  And so it did, but not without a lot of drama.

Having spent more than twenty years in the GoC, I really should have seen it coming.  After my first presentation to management one of the directors took me aside and told me that the wiki would be viewed as "subversive".  At the time, I thought this was an amusing comment but it became less so as the years went on.  Because here's the thing; collaboration, knowledge sharing and knowledge transfer are not part of the GoC culture and any attempt to shift in that direction is bound to be met with resistance.  This opposition views knowledge sharing in the same light as Eve eating the apple or Pandora opening the box, i.e. evil, wicked and the end of the world as we know it.

So when I come across discussions like "Let's give 'em something to talk about:" Discussions of GCpedia on the Internet or GCpedia: Will it be More Than a Place for Geeks in Government? I feel a strange compulsion to share my hard-earned two cents worth.   Here it goes ....

The opposition is going to use any excuse not to participate.  They are thrilled to talk about the shortcomings of MediaWiki, its lack of a WYSIWYG editor etc. etc. but it's all just a smokescreen, one that tech  people seem particularly blinded by.  Don't be fooled!  MediaWiki sans WYSIWYG editor works just fine for those interested in communicating, whether they be newbies or not.  Honestly, I've seen "little old ladies" take to a wiki in a matter of minutes because they saw value in it.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for improving on the basics but keep in mind that there are some people that are never going to be satisfied.

Speaking of improvement, no matter how hard you try a wiki is never going to be capable of performing the "Vulcan Mind Meld" so it's a sure bet that institutional memory and knowledge is going to be lost.  It's just a question of how much and how fast.  Those public servants that are reluctant to share are certainly not going to be giving interviews to "wiki farmers" with the intent of transfering their thoughts into GCPEDIA.  Remember, it's the sharing that is the problem not the tool facilitating it.  On the other hand, those that find a wiki helpful in their day-to-day life can now embark on a relatively pain free path of knowledge management which, I suspect, will be more palatable in the form of departmental wikis as a first step towards the government wide GCPEIDA.

I do believe that GoC wikis are becoming less "wicked" over time.  Maybe I'm delusional but the signs are promising and I take comfort in the knowledge that  after all was said and done even Pandora still had Hope ;)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

enChanted Easter Notes

Easter has given me an excuse to enjoy some "illumination" which I'm delighted to share with you. 

These pages are from a 17th century Antiphonary created by the "ateliers de l'hôtel des Invalides", Paris. 

Think of soothing Gregorian chants while you look at them; relax & immerse yourself in the marvelous details.

~ Happy Easter ~ Happy Spring ~

enChanted Easter Notes by  on 2010-04-03 Illuminated pages from a 17th century Antiphonary created by the "ateliers de l'hôtel des Invalides", Paris.

Find Tatiana Dokuchic on Google+

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April 1st - April Fool's - FY2010-2011

John William Waterhouse: Penelope and the Suitors - 1912

Wow, where does the time go?  April 1st already and a new fiscal year is starting for the GoC.  Does anyone else ever find it amusing that the fiscal year starts on April Fool's Day?

I thought I would celebrate this new beginning with a reference to an epic journey, Homer's The Odyssey.  So here's Penelope, the clever spouse of Odysseus, keeping her odious suitors at bay by weaving a burial shroud by day, only to unravel it by night.  And why would this remind me of the new fiscal year?

To everyone working today, keep your heads down until at least noon!  I do hope you get to enjoy a bit of a fresh start and bonus, tomorrow is a statutory holiday.  Take Care!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sarah's Style

From the moment I saw Sarah Richardson selecting this wonderful fabric with its flowers, butterflies & scrumptious yellow, I was hooked on the latest season of HGTV's Sarah's House.  I had caught a glimpse of it in the show’s teaser and it was well worth waiting until the third episode of the season (episode 30 of the series) to see how it inspired the creation of the Main Bathroom.

Sarah is also inspiring a long overdue transition of my decorating style from the ‘80’s (1780’s in the case of my Second Life® design & decorating work!) to something now referred to as the New Classic Style, a mix of modern & traditional that is absolutely fresh. Of course it probably helped that she wooed me with a fabric from Sanderson, a company currently celebrating “150 years of English Decoration” that began in 1860 as an importer of French wallpaper.

There are seven episodes remaining this year and I’m intending to savor every one of them. Tomorrow she tackles the kitchen. What could be better!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Every Day in Tuscany

I have to admit I'm shocked to learn that Frances Mayes will soon be celebrating her 20th anniversary at Bramasole!

Where has the time gone?  It seems like only yesterday I discovered her first book celebrating the good life in Italy, Under the Tuscan Sun.  No wonder that her latest installment, Every Day in Tuscany, feels just like catching up with an old friend.  After all, I've been spending time with her for almost 14 years now and during all of that time she has been reminding me to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. 

I've always admired the guts this woman had, to take the dare, cash out her savings, renovate her house and her life all at the same time.  The risk paid off and perhaps her success enables me to be a bit braver in my own life. 

So while it's entirely possible that I will never get closer to Tuscany than the local Fratelli's restaurant, I will keep in mind her words written for Every Day in Tuscany:
"If you read it, I hope that it’s a reminder of life-in-the-moment, wherever you are. Tuscany is a state of mind; you can have that state of mind anywhere."
Congratulations on the new book and on your 20th anniversary, Frances. May you & yours enjoy many more happy years!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Channeling "Paris in the Spring"

Seems like today is the perfect day to be channeling "Paris in the Spring" from Ottawa!

Seeing that it was Saturday, I indulged myself with a little reading before I got out of bed this morning. As it happens, I am currently enjoying A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle and so I greeted the day with March:

“The almond tree was in tentative bloom. The days were longer, often ending with magnificent evenings of corrugated pink skies …. The People of Provence greeted spring with uncharacteristic briskness, as if nature had given everyone an injection of sap.”
I wandered down to breakfast, images of those blooms in my head and found the Ottawa Citizen’s “style” magazine waiting for me on the kitchen table. I was immediately drawn to the article Paris on the Rideau by Charles Enman.
“It may not have the same ring as “Paris in the Spring.” But Parisians who live in Canada’s capital say it has its own virtues."
Sure it does, excluding days like yesterday when the temperature dropped overnight from 15c to -18c sending all the budding crocuses back into hiding.

Over to the computer with my morning coffee where I mentioned to a friend that I wanted to go to the Ottawa Home & Garden Show today prompting him to mention the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show with the theme of, you guessed it, Springtime in Paris.

I topped off the morning with the latest post (March 26th, 2010) from Barod in Blue My Cherry Blossom Tree  with its beautiful images.

Yes, it’s warming up out there in Ottawa, -2c with a high of 6c predicted for today so I’m off to Landsdowne Park where I’m sure to reinforce my daydreams of springtime in Paris.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

So You Think You Can Garden? (Canadian Edition)

Even in my current "bedazzled" state I'm not so far gone as to think that I stand a chance in So You Think You Can Dance (seniors' division of course) but is it possible I could compete in So You Think You Can Garden?

Here's the story.  Last week I picked up the 20th Anniversary Issue of Canadian Gardening.  Now I'm a long suffering magazine junkie and since the Ottawa weather was exceptional for the month of March (sun shining, birds singing, snow melting) I NEEDED a gardening magazine.

Imagine my delight when I came across the magical phrase "Do you have what it takes to blog for"  Prizes include a $500 cash prize plus goodies from Canadian Tire & Lee Valley Tools.  So far so good. 

Among the rules "The winner will be required to post one blog entry (minimum of 100 words) at least once per week between April 15, 2010 and September 30, 2010."  No Sweat.  I could blog 100 words in the blink of an eye. 

"Are you a savvy gardener who loves to share growing tips and advice with fellow green thumb?"  Hmmmm ... what exactly is the definition of "savvy gardener" and how "green" are we talking?  Best to investigate further and check out the competition. Let's see, you can provide your own picture.  That would certainly help to make your entry stand out!

Photography by Virginia MacDonald, illustration by KC Rasmussen

Now it seems to me that the last time I looked, my garden was somewhat similar to the Folmer Gardens featured in the April 2010 Issue.  Let's see what's out there now ...

Sadly, reality doesn't measure up to memory ;) 

At least it's not still looking like this!

So I guess I'll be giving up my chance at that dream blog (for now anyway).  I wonder if my truly "savvy gardener" friends would be interested?  Wade ... Amie ... are you listening?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Beginning a Blog: Horton Hears a Who!

Horton Hears a Who!I was having a wonderful time putting this new blog together and then it happened ... 

I was busy, working on the blog design, getting connected to Twitter (and subsequently working on that design), planning articles, looking at all my favourite blogs for inspiration, reviewing code & widgets and then it struck me ... the connection between starting a new blog and the Dr Seuss classic Horton Hears a Who!

I admit that it may be a case of too much pixel editing in one day, but as I started blogging & tweeting I kept thinking of those Whos yelling "We are here, We are here, WE ARE HERE".

Too funny!!  So before I pack it in this evening, I decided to blog a little tribute to kind hearted Horton the Elephant who helped the Whos get connected.  This example of networking was a truly a life saver (fictional as it may be).  Making connections through my blog to a greater community is nowhere near as dramatic but I'm thinking it will be just as much fun!

Monday, March 22, 2010

L'Illustre Théâtre

When it comes to attending French theatre productions, I have to admit I'm always a bit nervous.

Thanks to the Canadian Federal Government, my French comprehension isn’t that bad but then again, my speaking isn’t that good. I always imagine myself being singled out for “audience participation” and the resulting nightmare of standing on stage stammering “Je parle comme une vache espagnole” (I speak like a Spanish cow). Scary!

Seeing the Théâtre de l'Île for the first time did nothing to allay my fears. It’s a beautiful venue, small, intimate; the perfect setting for  improvisation. Much to my delight, however, it turns out my qualms were the perfect seasoning for Marie-Louise Nadeau’s comedy L'Illustre Théâtre, the story of three hapless souls who find themselves forced to stage a “work in progress” to a sold-out audience without the benefit of cast, costumes, props, or, in one case, professional training.

I literally laughed until I cried as the leading lady tap danced her way through one “scene” wearing rubber boots and a mixed expression of confusion & dread overlaid with the perfect “show must go on” smile.  Boy, could I relate to that.

L'Illustre Théâtre runs until April 11, 2010 so there's still time to see it.  I promise that you won't find yourself on stage but you will thoroughly enjoy the tribulations of the people that do.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Renaissance Daze/Days

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” ~ Basho ~

ren·ais·sance ~ noun ~ A rebirth or revival. 
daze ~ noun ~ A stunned or bewildered condition.
daze ~ verb ~ To dazzle, as with strong light.

I love good renovation stories. I love how they seduce me with their whispered promises, endless energy, optimism and, of course, their humour. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes is a classic renovation story. Classified as Travel/Memoir, it tells a tale of a woman that manages to renovate her life along with her beloved Bramasole.

Much to my surprise, I find myself embarking on just such a renovation or renaissance. No, I’m not packing up and moving to Italy but I did find the nerve to quit a job that I had held (or had increasingly held me ever tighter) for twenty seven years. And, no I don’t have something else lined up to take its place but I do have a sense that life is short and I had better get back to enjoying my journey through it before it’s too late. You can imagine that for a “risk adverse” person, this has left me a bit dazed!

Now that I can view both my home and my life with a fresh eye, I see all the ingredients of a great renovation story. Things appear a bit tired & run down but the “bones” are still good and potential abounds. I’m looking forward to my journey from Renaissance Daze to Renaissance Days and I would love to share the tale with you. Please come along for the adventure!