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Weekly links: Pro-PC/Post-Election edition

Surely all of us are feeling suasion whiplash after reading 4000 post-election think pieces. It was the party’s fault, Hillary’s fault, racists’ fault, liberal elites’ fault, fake news on Facebook, Russia and James Comey, and pandering to immigrants… The first few days I felt guilt (alongside crushing despair and grief) for falling into the trap of thinking that Trump was too preposterous to ever win, instead recognizing the power of his various anti-establishment, anti-civil society narratives to the downtrodden white middle class. I tried hard to sympathize and understand how they could feel left behind and angry enough to vote so destructively. But when I found myself potentially nodding along to an article that suggested that it was the Democrats’ focus on “identity politics” that galvanized whites into feeling like minorities and lost all of us the election, and that going forward we should be less focused on diversity messaging, I had to take a step back.

One of the best things about being a liberal elite is that I take “political correctness” (spawn of “identity politics”) as a given among my friends. I love it. I fucking love it. Now more than ever. It makes me feel safe and cared for and caring. It opens spaces for dialogue that provoke insight and push us forwards towards greater empathy and understanding. It means that I have to think hard about value judgments and what my statements might imply. It means that sometimes I realize I am prejudiced and have to address it. It means sometimes my friends call me out for things I say. It means I actually have to work on myself.

Consequently, I struggle to find people who argue against “political correctness,” who say that we’re all too sensitive and it stops people from speaking the “truth” – and let’s be clear that what they’re arguing against is really just making an effort to be inclusive of others and not undermine them based on factors outside their control like gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, etc. – as anything other than lazy and selfish.* Maybe they also lack imagination. Kim and I were discussing this the other night, the lack of imagination issue, since law school collects those lovable white bros who think that we’ve made progress and now it’s going too far, or maybe it’s just not totally necessary you know? … Are they really unable to recognize their privilege? Do they really think women or minorities can go a day without trying to understand the world through the position of a white male? Or maybe the issue is an abundance of imagination and they believe we’ve achieved gender parity and ended racism??

I shouldn’t put white men on the spot like this – Trump’s election is almost assuredly the patriarchy’s fault (and economic inequality didn’t help). We’re all human and hurting and we all need to work together to build a more compassionate, open community. It’s idealistic, but I’m not willing to give it up – especially not in the face of white nationalism. And there is some comfort in knowing that Hillary won the popular vote and there are millions that agree. In my dejection two weeks ago I was scoffing at all the #love posts but I guess that’s what it’s about at the end of the day, although it’s a complex love, that is forced to reckon with personal shortcomings and the challenges of living next to one another.

It feels more imperative to be open and sincere generally (#love). It’s the best we have. “Post-truth” is more terrifying to me than Trump. I don’t know how we recover from it. It gives me no comfort that John Herrman, my favourite writer of the internet dystopian narrative, was predicting fake news years ago and is now saying it misdirects from the real issue, that there is no trust in “real” news. Honestly, I’ve been disappointed with the NYT coverage lately; I don’t want to see a front page article on Hamilton tweets – now is the time for substantial pieces. They hyped their meeting with Trump so much, and for what? He just pandered to them like he panders to everyone else. I have no solutions for coverage, but this clearly is not it. The Washington Post seems to be doing better – doing actual investigative reporting instead of reacting to social media posts. I shouldn’t be so hard on the Times, but like, now is not the time for click bait. Click bait is the problem. Click bait brought us to fake news.

In an effort to intellectually engage in something non-election related this week (ok, ok, it’s election-adjacent), I re-read Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room of One’s Own’ (published 1928), which implores women to put their writing out into the world. I couldn’t have been more delighted by how gently she calls out several centuries worth of mansplaining. So sensitive and yet so firm in her conviction for what women need in order to write and write well. I got to the end though and I couldn’t help but think of Marie Henein’s brilliant op-ed in the Globe (published two weeks ago) regarding the visibility of women needed to ensure we one day get a female Prime Minister or President. Eerily they end the same way. Virginia writes: “As for her coming without that preparation, without that effort on our part, without that determination that when she is born…she shall find it possible to live and write her poetry, that we cannot expect, for that would be impossible. But I maintain that she would come if we worked for her, and that so to work, even in poverty and obscurity, is worth while.” Marie writes: “This is what I would like you to tell your daughters today: engagement on every front is the only answer. It means that young women must participate. I do not care where. I do not care what view you take. I do not care what your political stripes are. I do not care whether I agree with you or not. What I care about is that you are seen. In every boardroom. In every school. In every C-suite. In every political party. Engineer. Artist. Judge. Politician. Doctor. Until you cannot be overlooked. Until seeing you in the highest office anywhere is as normal as breathing. The sky is not falling. It just feels a little darker right now. She is out there. I know it in my core. In some school. On some playground. In some boardroom. She may not even know it yet. And our collective job is to light the path so everyone else can find her.” 90 years and the fight remains.

*Like foragers! Tragedy of the commons is real y’all and this time we’re talking about collective human dignity and casual acts which diminish it!

Other links:

From the London Review of Books: Is this how democracy ends?

From Foreign Affairs: The globalization of rage

From Mother Jones: Van Jones: “Hope for the Best, Expect and Prepare for the Worst”

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Dewy

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A few weeks ago we had one of those perfect, misting rains where the drops cling to everything. I rushed outside when it slowed up to take pictures. I love the way they draw attention to the form of the plants.

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The garden has been good to me this year – more successes than failures. I have a lot of bulbs on order which I’m hoping will arrive in the next few weeks. And I’m starting to take notes and reflect on the season. I had a lot of dahlia failures, but mail-order roses were generally a win. Amaranth and ‘Frosted Explosion’ grass were outsized performers and popular with everyone. I had beautiful cornflowers and some nice zinnias – next year I will give both more room and hopefully will be rewarded with even more blooms. Feverfew got destroyed by bugs so I probably won’t bother with it again. Sweet peas – can’t grow enough.

I continue to be inspired by garden designers and I see their influence sneaking into my floral design. I think as I become a better gardener I will also become a better designer. Both require spacial awareness, and a good sense of colour and texture. Both require so much knowledge of plants – knowledge that I try and absorb every day as I walk the garden.

Links:

Dan Pearson’s Old Rectory at Naunton and related – Pearson’s journal post on visits to Sissinghurst and Great Dixter

Ginger Peach Rum Punch

The work of Marianna Kennedy from Pentreath and Hall

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Already August

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August comes with a certain sense of melancholy – the garden has exploded with flowers, weeds, thrips, ripening apples, fluffy seed heads, you name it – but the geese are already flying over, and the nights are starting to cool down. We haven’t had near enough rain but steady watering has kept most things going. Now I wonder if the dahlias and cobea vine will actually bloom before the first frosts hit. I start contemplating what it will mean to make flowers in early October. I place bulb orders. I think about winter.

When the End of Civilization Is Your Day Job

And another piece on climate change from Rolling Stone

The Strategists podcast – if you like discussing Canadian campaign strategy here’s some guys who can elevate your conversation, particularly if you live in Alberta

Sky ladder made of fireworks

Selfie with Sunflowers

Gorgeous cover of ‘Yellow’ and my favourite song of the summer

 

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Love Calendula ‘Bronzed Beauty’

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Nigella – probably ‘Delft Blue’ but potentially just a random from a Chiltern Seeds mix

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Zinnia ‘Queen Red Lime’

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A non-trifling amount of trifle

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Summer means trifle in our house. I made two huge ones for my grandparents’ 60th anniversary, and also a chocolate and vanilla layer cake with swiss buttercream. I was so delighted by the flowers I put together on the top – phlox, sweet peas, oregano and geranium leaves. Ignore my super crooked writing though! And the little raspberry cake pictured below we ended up eating the next day with some unexpected guests. Always fun to share cake! I used the sour cream chocolate cake from Sky High which you can find on Smitten Kitchen, and then two different vanilla cake recipes also from Sky High. I still prefer the buttermilk one that I’ve posted here. To punch up Smitten’s swiss buttercream I added raspberry jam.

The garden continues to explode with flowers and I’m so excited that the roses have started! All except Poseidon I’ve never seen in person so it’s been fun to study them as they open. Incidentally Poseidon has the most immature buds of the 7 bushes but it’s also the most shaded so perhaps that’s why it’s slower. It’s gotten overwhelmed by the cobea vine which I am contemplating butchering if it doesn’t bloom in the next two weeks.

A good read from Wired on the DNA editing technique Crispr

The best of Poppies and Posies’ bouquets

A review of Hidcote

I always appreciate the sneak peek at Molly’s cookbook shelf

The raspberries are almost done but I might try and make these fresh raspberry scones

Fascinating article on two sets of fraternal twins who were actually identical twins

A quick recipe for zucchini

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Doing summer things

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Summer snowflakes (Leucojum) with summer snowflakes (elm seeds… bane of my existence after thrips, stinkbugs, and drought)

Hard to believe it is already June. Since I’ve gotten back into garden blogging I instinctively want to start each post about the weather, but that’s lame, especially in Alberta. Suffice it to say that the weather gods did not rejoice at my return and grant us a gentle transition from spring to summer.

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The irises were done in 3 days due to the heat

No matter. I have been diligently spraying things with insecticidal soap and patiently spending hours watering. It’s hard to remember what the point of it all is right now, when everything looks kind of small and straggly. What does look good are the older perennials – epimediums, thalictrums, astilbe, etc. A few years of settling and they are starting to increase in size. I’m kind of excited to see how everything looks in another three years after my little seedlings develop and I have a chance to move things around.

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I would like more of these Thalictrum aquilegifolium – only thing really blooming in the border right now and is about 2 1/2 ft tall!

In other news I made several Smitten Kitchen recipes. I would heartily recommend the Chocolate-Hazelnut Macaroon Torte, but everyone really liked the Key Lime Pie as well. I was less excited about the key lime pie because it required zesting and juicing way more than the suggested one dozen key limes but apparently the recipe also works with regular limes. Other things I have made: microwave oat bars. Breakfast of champions.

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From bottom left: Chocolate-Hazelnut Macaroon Torte, Key Lime Pie and Best Cocoa Brownies

– an omelette for a crowd

– already ordered Hummelo, the new book by Piet Oudolf, reviewed here

fascinating visit to a historic dock yard

– would have loved to see Dan Pearson’s Chelsea garden – am contemplating buying tickets for next year

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Muscari

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I’m in love with these Muscari ‘Artist’ as well as some unnamed Muscari armeniacum.  Muscari are easy to force – or at least I’ve had no trouble with them. I just potted them up and left them in the fridge for 10-12 weeks (watering only when they appeared dry). I will say the bulbs chilled longer have been much more productive bloomers.

‘Tykus, Tykus’ – A Lithuanian folk song Oran sang at today’s concert which I loved.

Food52’s Piglet Tournament is back with some great cookbook reviews!

As much as my palette is perplexed by high end dining, I’m extremely taken by the visual presentation of it – see these dishes from Noma’s pop-up in Japan.

I’ve been doing a bit of reading on irises and lilies lately. I’m not sure I want to commit to either at this time because I’m not sure how long I’ll be here, but they are genera with a lot of possibility for our zone. One story I enjoyed coming across was that of the Benton irises bred by the painter Cedric Morris Cedric Morris (who is credited with breeding one of the first pink irises and a subsequent pink ’Strathmore’ that won some accolades at Chelsea in 1948). Apparently he dedicated a field to growing over a 1,000 of his own crosses. You can see some beautiful photos on Dan Pearson’s site and read a detailed catalogue entry of the painting ‘Iris Seedlings’ about the connection between Morris’ art and irises.

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Weekly Links: A tulip endorsement

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I’ve always said that when in doubt about what flowers to get for someone, buy tulips. They’re generally cheerful and they keep growing in the vase so that every day the arrangement is slightly different. The Dutch grow hundreds of varieties of tulips, from weird parrots to dainty frills. These are double tulips called ‘Flaming Evita,’ which I’m pretty fond of. I love how full the doubles get.

Right now you can even find tulips that haven’t flown across the ocean. BC tulips are everywhere and at the Strathcona Market you can buy some from Red Deer! So for Valentine’s Day, skip the roses and grab some tulips instead. A fresh and dynamic choice – much like your relationship, right?

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Links:

Humans of New York has done some great work but it doesn’t get much better than helping a student and his school principle raise over a million dollars, visit the Ellen show and sit with the President in the Oval Office

 Stile Antico sings ‘Agnus Dei’ from William Byrd’s ‘Mass for Five Voices’

Snowdrops of the Chelsea Physic Garden (Love the idea of a snowdrop theatre!)

High End Dumpster Diving – mom didn’t seem too keen when I told her you could make $100,000+ doing this

Orange glazed polenta cake (for some reason I have a cornmeal craving)

Saipua florals in Mexico

The perfect tea shop, Bellocq

A make-ahead potato gratin

I’m really sad that Gardenimport has closed right when I need an exotic bulb source in Canada, but happy to have stumbled across this article on growing summer bulbs in pots

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