Archive for July 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Be Careful Not To Blink!

Would you just look at this innocent little cherub?! She is the picture of propriety. Her strawberry blonde hair and chubby little cheeks are just scrump-dilly-icious.......but I am afraid they will soon be a thing of the past.

This little creature is just growing up so fast, I can hardly believe it! I barely dare to BLINK because she is up to something new before you know it.

This month's new trick is..........WALKING! Yup, you read that right.......I said WALKING! Not yet a year old and she is walking all by her lonesome. I can hardly believe it. Next thing you know, she's gonna be in kindergarten.

Of course, she will begin VIOLIN lessons with our favorite violin teacher in September......

September 2016, that is!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Danny Boneduce LIVE in Newfoundland

Why is Danny Boneduce sitting in the Vancouver airport waiting for a plane all by his lonesome? What could a young fella like him be doing there? How can his parents consider letting him fly UNCHAPERONED?! He's only 15. That can't be legal, can it?

As a matter of fact, young Danny has been asked to fly all the way out to St John's, Newfoundland to stand in for an American Cellist who had to drop out of the Tuckamore music festival at the last minute. He going to be playing Shostakovich.

I know, CRAZY isn't it? I'm not sure about the wisdom of sending my baby boy across the continent. He's just too young. I mean, he is still in his GROWING phase........
He still thinks sitting in puddles in the rain is the MATURE thing to do.....I mean, I still have to BRIBE him to practice! If he wants to play a little of THIS.....(there he is on the bottom row left side, with his white hair and goofy ears)

he's got to play a little of THIS........That's right, son. NONE of THIS......
(There he is again, second row middle, white haired goofy guy right close to the trophy)

If you don't first do THIS......My other concern is the fact that Danny Boneduce is not that neat or tidy. You should see the state of his music on any given day! The last time he had a competition I had to get out the IRONING BOARD and IRON his music flat! I kid you not!

How on earth is he going to survive without me?!

Oh, well. There's not much we can do about it anymore. The ticket is purchased and the cello is ready for air travel, bubble wrap and all.
Hope you have a wonderful time son! And don't forget, your MOMMA LOVES YA!

Just so none of my blogger peeps feel JIPPED since they can't be at the final concert there in St John's, Newfoundland to hear Danny Boneduce LIVE in concert, here's Danny playing Dvorak with his sisters at a recent event. ENJOY!

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Baby Is Growing Up!

Say it isn't so! This can't be my middle child, all grown up and gradumacated! I just can't believe that my little pumpkin is old enough to go off to UNIVERSITY!

Sure, she's been hangin' around our place for the last 18 years, singing her heart out in the shower, behind the piano, in the garden and anywhere else you can think of but.......a MUSIC MAJOR at UNIVERSITY??!! How can this be?!?!OK, now that I've gotten that SHOCK out of my system, here are a few more pictures of my darling Opera Diva, all decked out in her fancy, schmansy grad dress with her ever so dapper looking boyfriend....

She has been accepted into the Music Program at Trinity Western University and has even raked in a few bucks in scholarship grants as well......$13,000 worth of bucks, if my math serves me correctly. That's a whole lot of BUCKS in scholarships, don't you think?!

It's going to be a long haul though. She's got a ton of work ahead of her. Not just school work but.......REAL work........the kind of work that comes with a paycheck........'cause Trinity is EXPENSIO!

There are a few hurdles she will need to overcome yet, in finding a suitable job. It turns out that she is allergic to:

1. the sun, which causes her to heartily regurgitate her lunch into the closest available pail in the mum field.

2. cold temperatures which cause her to swell up into a giant human sausage.

3. all and any bug bite she might suffer, creating things like gigantic swollen lips, much bigger than Angelina Jolie could never imagine.

But so far she's not allergic to working indoors. That means we've got to find her an office job where she can sit safely protected from any outdoor elements.

It's a good thing that she has chosen VOICE as her major since it's not that often that SINGERS have to perform OUTDOORS. She should be just fine.

Now, we had to commemorate this big occasion with some special pictures in the park and my Little Angel was found more than willing to do a photo shoot for me. She's like that. I call and she is ready on a moment's notice.

The Wee One came along to help out........

and ended up offering us some wonderful BONUS photo opportunities which were quite unexpected.

So, to my precious daughter, Opera Diva, I would just like to say a hearty "Congratulations"! May the Lord bless whatever your endeavours may be. I hope you will always use your wonderful talents to His praise and glory!

And just as an added feature to this post, take a moment to watch Opera Diva in action. ENJOY!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Keepin' Busy!

Even though summer has finally arrived in our neck of the woods, that doesn't mean that work stops at the farm. As a matter of fact, our summer's are looking busier and busier every year. Besides our new venture into growing CUCUMBERS, we have an ENORMOUS crop of outdoor GARDEN MUMS in the field from May to September. More than 100,000 pots are frying out there under the hot sun. They LOVE the sun. The more sun they get, the bigger they grow. But all that sun and all that growing means they need LOTS of water. Keeping them healthy and happy is a full time job for our summer vacation has to be taken in shifts.

That is the HAPPY LOT of the farmer. Finally the sun comes out and now the he has to stay home to keep the crop alive.

But let's get back to the subject of GARDEN MUMS. Every year, as soon as we start setting them out in the field our neighbor starts having issues. You see, our neighbor HATES garden mums. As soon as he sees us start to prepare the field for plants he starts to get irritated with us. He calls anyone who will listen to his complaints. He even yells at our employees working out in the fields. Calls to the office, cussing and swearing at whoever picks up the phone, happen as well. All these complaints to the various government offices lead to a whole bunch of official visits. I think we may have to start up a Tim Horton's coffee shop here soon. We could make a killing on selling coffee and donuts to all our visitors.

The crop is only out in the field for about 8 to 10 weeks. They grow big and fast! But they are also not a RISK FREE crop. Every year we worry about White Rust, a chrysanthemum virus that can wipe out the crop if we don't treat them carefully. A number of years ago we had to deal with an outbreak. Not much fun, I can tell you from experience.

Sometimes I wonder........WHY do we have to grow PLANTS?! They are all to produce. Maybe we should consider getting into the FASHION industry instead. That's less risky, isn't it? And my closet would be full of couture samples of every color, shape and size. I'd need to build myself a second closet........

And then I shake my head and realize that I've got WORK to do. I've got to get planning for Spring 2011. There are numbers to compile and graphs to analyze........plants to order...........container designs to consider.

This past week I really pushed my peeps hard on getting our catalogue ready for next year. My darling Little Angel and her Photographer friend pulled an all-night work session just to finalize the whole thing! I ADORE my Darvonda peeps........they go to great lengths to help me get the sale.

Now that the catalogue is done, I've got to start planning our trips to the Orient to get our designs put into production. Can it all be organized on time? Will we be able to meet the budget? Will the quality be up to standard? Is this really what FARMING is all about?!


Monday, July 26, 2010

Greenhouse Metamorphosis - Cucumbers by the Acre

For those of you who are not that familiar with us, Darvonda has been exclusively a FLOWERING POT PLANT GROWER for the past 25 years. Our production includes Spring Bedding plants, Fall Garden Mums and Christmas Poinsettias. We grow these crops out of 3 different locations here in the Fraser Valley, encompassing a full 15 acres of indoor growing and another 15 acres of outdoor production.

But this year we are doing things a little different! We have decided to go into CUCUMBER production. It's a METAMORPHOSIS on a great big scale. Going from flowers to veggies is total shift in focus for us but......we are MASTER'S OF CHANGE at Darvonda!

It all began last year when we had to rent a greenhouse for our spring production. Our own facilities are just not big enough to hold everything we need to grow for April and May. We are always BURSTING at the seams with our bedding plant crop. So we found a rose grower who was shutting down and willing to rent his facility to us. The trouble is, once May is over........those greenhouses were going to stand EMPTY! We don't need all that space again until next February. What's a grower to DO with all that EMPTY GREENHOUSE???

Well, grow CUCUMBERS of course!

Good thing is, Junior had a little background training in the art of veggie growing. He learned all about it at Kwantlen University waaaaay back when he was only 19 years old. Now, at 23, he suggested that the Big Guy let him try his hand at growing a crop of cucumbers in the rental greenhouse. He figured it should be EASY AS PIE!

That brings us today. After months of preparation, including an application for cucumber quota, food safe courses, and retro-fitting 5 acres of old greenhouses to suit a crop of veggies, we find ourselves sitting on a whole TON OF CUCUMBERS. Harvest should begin soon.

But don't get me wrong, cucumber production has it's risks. Someone has to be in the crop at all times, making sure the plants grow upwards along the strings, removing unwanted shoots, keeping the PH levels at exactly the right level, ensuring healthy biological controls, watching the humidity and the wind direction. "Leeward" winds are good and "Windward" winds are bad.......or is it the other way around?

There is even the risk of complete crop failure due to a nasty VIRUS that attacks cucumbers without mercy. Should the facility get the virus, our crop is TOAST. Visitors are not welcome, just to keep a bio-hazard security blanket around the greenhouse as tight as possible.

Another VERY IMPORTANT thing about cucumber growing that I just learned last week, only the STRAIGHT cucumbers are saleable cucumbers. Unfortunately, not ALL cucumbers grow straight. If they are curved too much, they have to be composted.........or, you could eat every one of them if you're really hungry!

Poor Junior has been working up a BIG appetite these days due to the fact that this crop has not been quite as EASY as he was anticipating. Just last night he spent a sleepless 4 hours, starting at 1 in the morning, trying to get the boiler up and running. It's old and cantankerous and just didn't want to cooperate.

Then there are days when it's SOOOO HOT that the watering system just can't keep up with the liquid requirements of the plants......Or the days when the broken down old shading system just won't close like it's supposed too.......

Poor Junior is in great need of a VACATION!

Good thing our new lake front property is only 3 hours drive from home. The Big Guy phoned him as soon as our new land line telephone was installed.


"Son, you need to take a break. You're gonna burn yourself out, working like this! Get in your car and drive out here TOUT SUITE......that's an ORDER!"

Junior has always been a very obedient son. He came right away.

We had breakfast on the terrace together.
Junior insisted on doing the cooking........

We got in a few great games of Volleyball.......
That's the Big Guy leaping up to block a shot. He was unsuccessful. Point goes to Junior's team.

He snoozed in the tire tube......
while the Big Guy snoozed on land.
Here's to hoping that all that snoozing gives the guys the rest they need before they get back to work again.

Now, don't forget to check out all the other great METAMORPHOSIS going on out there today. Just click on over to Between Naps on the Porch to check them all out!

AN UPDATE ON OUR CUCUMBER HARVEST: Just in time for FERTILIZER FRIDAY over at Tootsie Time. Junior just picked his FIRST BATCH of CUCUMBERS yesterday! In total, we picked 2000 straight, juicy cukes fresh off the vine. And it only took 21 days to grow them from baby to edible, believe it or not.

Hope everyone's harvest is a success out there this summer because it makes gardening so much more fun. Check out all the other great gardens over at Tootsie Time today to see how things are progressing this summer!


Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Sharp Sound Rings Out Like A Shot......

The kids are all off at String Camp in Ontario this week where they are having a whale of a fun time at my cousin Chandra's house when not busy playing their instruments along 70 other young people who are attending. Chandra happens to be an amazing photographer (see photos above or visit her photoblog ) as well as a wonderful hostess to my darling girls and their friend.

Although, I would like it to go on record herewith that I question the wisdom of giving Opera Diva the keys to a pick up truck for the duration of their visit. Certainly not because I think that Opera Diva would be anything but perfectly well behaved and courteous on the road. Her driving is impeccable, somewhat cautious but always law abiding.

No, my concern has much more to do with her passengers. These two young ladies, Mini Me and her best friend, are not to be trusted. These ladies are TROUBLE! Mini Me has recently posted the following description of said pick up truck on her Facebook page:

"having tooonnnsss of fun!! you should see us driving our pimpin farm truck, music full blast, windows down"

Oh my. This is not good.

NOTE TO SELF: Send Chandra a very, VERY LARGE bouquet of flowers and offer to send her on an all expenses paid vacation to the Carribbean. She's gonna need it by the time my girls leave!

Mind you........I haven't heard a WHISPER from Danny Boneduce ALL WEEK LONG! I hope he has been minding his manners. Here he is in the green shirt, for all intents and purposes, very studious and serious about his Cello playing. But.......beneath that mature looking facade lies a teenager.

"Danny? Danny are you out there? Behave yourself son. And don't forget, just because I haven't heard a PEEP out of you, doesn't mean I don't know your every MOVE! I have eyes in the back of my head and blogger peeps in every city! They are keeping me informed so WATCH YOUR STEP"

"Oh yah, and I MISS YOU like crazy!"

So, seeing as our household was completely empty this week, we decided to take a vacation and go to the lake.
The peace and quiet is a little disconcerting at first. Without the sounds of the city to fill our thoughts, no train to disturb our reveries, at times the quiet is seriously deafening!
Our morning cup of coffee has never tasted better. Mind you, I took along a can of Tim Horton's fine grind blend, so I wouldn't have a complete absence of all my city luxuries......

The empty chairs around us remind us of how solitary we are in this little piece of paradise. Not a single responsibility or care in the world......

We can EAT when we want..........

We can sit by the fire and look deeply into each others eyes lovingly for hours on end.......Please do not think too deeply about WHO may have taken the photo seen here above since it will ruin the theme of my blog post regarding our SOLITARY vacation. I will flatly deny that my father-in-law and mother-in-law and my 2 nephews were at the lake as well since it just doesn't seem quite as poignantly carefree and romantic as the spirit of this post was meant to be!

Rather, imagine if you will, complete serenity and peace as the lawn mower leisurely cuts its way through the soft, new green grass......until a SHARP sound rings out like a shot.........

The newly installed telephone is calling us back from our lazy reveries and back to the real world.

It's Junior on the other line. He has stayed behind to keep things running at the farm since Arnold Schwarzenegger and Fifi are off in the Peat Bogs of Quebec this week and we are having our second honeymoon at the lake. SOMEONE has to water the flowers!

"Dad, we have just had a drive-by shooting at the Brown Park greenhouse location. At 2 o'clock in the morning, the front of the house was sprayed with bullets. The Mexicans were sleeping in their bunks and the bullets missed their heads by just 12 inches! The police have the whole road blocked off and the K-9's are out hunting for clues to who did it."

"Don't worry Dad. Everything's under control. It's just a couple of holes in the house."
Yup, that's my life. EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL! What's a few holes in the wall here or there?


(Crime Scene Photo credits of the bullet ridden house and police presence go to GROWER GIRL. Thanks for sending those. What would I do without you?)