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!