Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

Footless and sunny

We have had two consecutive days of sunshine & I’ve had two consecutive days of operating on one foot temporarily. I’m growing accustomed to both.

I failed to report the generous digging of my community garden patch by Helen & Earl. Collectively we have 182 + years between us. It took approx 117 of those years to finally remove that other pesky half of the granny geranium plant. It takes a village to dig out a stubborn geranium. Happy June to you all.

Weather score

There is a most tuneful wind happening outside at this hour that is interspersed with a tinkling of light rain against the window. Sometimes the weather is so melodious despite its dour visuals. Today overcast beyond overcast after yesterday’s beloved bright blue.

I had a major gardening expedition yesterday with the prompting and assistance of G — another gardener at our community garden. G suggested we cut back my nuclear granny of a geranium and transplant her to the borders of our larger garden. Granny Geranium is a massive bird of a plant. She’s the size of a peacock with its feathers spanning out.

After at least 25 minutes of serious navvy activity with a fork and a spade each we finally managed to remove about a half of said granny geranium. Then we carried her to the border. I can attest she was the weight of a man. I remarked to G it was like hauling a dead body, although I have no experience of such to be clear.

What was stunning was her roots had gone so far down, which G pointed out is precisely what the plant is meant to do. She is doing exactly what she should, she kept warmly observing. I left with mud in my eye, muddy arms and fantastically muddy legs. It was exhilarating I confess and I admitted to G … you know I don’t think I ever truly gardened until this moment.

In minor but worthy of note excitement, the first potato is making his presence felt. I already killed the fennel (who kills fennel?) but it may yet reincarnate.

On the road with Malarky: Malarky roadie

I have been away on the road with Malarky, so apologies for the interrupted weather forecasts and meanderings. Thank you so much to everyone who came out to Bolen Books in Victoria, Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle and Village Books in Bellingham.

The highlight for me was at the Seattle launch when 10-yr-old Willie Bays, on his flute, played traditional Irish music (trad) with his mother Susan on fiddle. A mighty player and together they played a mighty set. Go raibh mile to them both.

Also, am enormously grateful for the enthusiasm and warmth of booksellers Robert, Casey and Claire (in store order respectively). Most impressed with the woodwork in many of these shops and the array of jigsaw puzzles that surrounded the reading area at Bolen Books. (including one of a teapot)


What about the weather event at Union Station in Toronto yesterday? A bathtub rainfall event! We were grim on this coast around the same time, but I had to shift my overcast sulking when I saw what had been dealt to the floor at Union. A spot I stood but two weeks ago and imagined doing a cozy waltz around (if I could manage such a thing).


In gardening news I am a disgrace. Officially flagged a green one. Some mysterious objecter has plunged a bamboo pole into my plot with green masking tape on it to alert … I am not sure whom. Not the Mason Bees who were happily mining in my strawberry patch today. Thank you to the gardeners who offered help for my beleagured plot and added soil to it in my absence.

The Flowerman has the most magnificent Pink Poppies. They have to be capitalized they are such stunners. He also generously added some manure to my plot and consequently the purple geranium has gone nuclear in size and I think has made for happy bees.


Profuse thanks to all who have read/are reading Malarky and have tweeted or written about it. Lovely to hear of this happening. A book is nothing without readers. I have great faith in readers and it grows deeper by the day.

The rest of the West Coast world audaciously announced yesterday as the last day of summer, whereas here at Literature et Folie the Autumn season is already four days underway.

A CBC report (what-do-they-know-wha?) declared the summer passed a “bummer summer”. What a ludicrous assertion, on what basis? On the basis of assumption. The assumption of what summer must be. It was certainly not a “bummer summer” rather it was a moody summer season with pronounced independent thinking and bouts of non conformity and an impressive last minute “up do”. The only mildly inconvenient aspect of it was the late start to the growing season, but my garden was suffering from drowning by peat so I think my peat flooding was more of a problem than the lack of sun.

I have to check the winter forecasts, the last time I looked they were predicting colder than normal temperatures for the Wesssst and warmer than normal elsewhere.

I am heartened by the arrival of our atmospheric rains. They are so temperate thus far. I am awaiting the first fog eagerly.

A footnote on the aforemention three brothers house with the former hatchy looking garden I used to so delight in. Passed it again the other soiree and noted that the new lottery looking house, with the overindulgence in gravel in the front garden, also wrapped the entire place in a tall fence so you can actually see nowt whatsoever of the back garden.

What an odd conclusion to a home whose garden was, for so many years (if not generations?) a place to feast one’s eyes on. I can recall small children standing there pointing at the objects poking up out of it, foaming with begonias instead of bathwater.

Does wealth really need to be this unimaginative?! I wonder what the patterns are on fencing and whether as house prices have soared there is any difference in the height of fences people border their properties with?  It would be great to examine and record how gardens have changed in relation to other historical changes in the city. My friend Lori Weidenhammer recently did some workshops around garden memories and bookmaking. Blogs are also forming excellent records and documentation in this area.

In the process of ousting 32 slugs from my vegetable haven, it reminded me of a writer friend who recently began drawing intensely and described these epic 12 hr marathons drawing an egg. I scanned the soil today so intently, cm par cm for any sight of any sized or version of the blighters. The recent Peat Moss disaster helped matters enormously, it’s so much easier to see anything in peat moss compared to compost or clay.

And much did I see. I couldn’t believe the tribes of creatures who inhabit my little box there. Esp. impressive are the small fellas who can curl up in an instant ball. They look like wood lice but have to be something more complicated than wood lice. Weevils?

It was a very satisfying excavation, defending my stems and emerging beans and I bagged 32 of them away to a salty end. The guinea pigs are benefiting from the Community Garden as they get to scoff down much of last year’s carrots that have been left over winter by my fellow gardeners and now lie hurled into the compost patch smothered in seeded yellow kale. Into my bucket they go and Alfie-Cyril and his brother plough through them.

Today again the Mason Bees had a chat with me. At first nothing, but then as I stared at the soil they began warming up and then moved into quite curving soliloquies. My ears tune into them as I hunt the soil for the unwanted. It is quite gorgeous their chatter and travels quite an auditory distance once you tune it in. I wonder how they sound during the rain.


Volcano: An inquiry into the life and death of Malcolm Lowry was an NFB funded documentary made about Malcolm Lowry in 1976 by Donald Brittain and John Kramer.  (it’s viewable at the NFB site, along with a plethora of other documentaries, films, animation)

I was listening to the audio of this film while I worked today and the part that captivated my attention was the description related to the jetty that Lowry built by his shack in Dollerton, that withstood the weather and storms in the area. He was overcome with great sadness when he later heard it was no more.

Curiously he appeared numb or in the process of constant numbing to just about everything else.  (Except when his shack burnt down, did he also build the shack? I can’t remember)

My ears also piqued at his early mention of gardening, how if or when he had a garden he’d grow nothing in it etc. and the latter description of gardening that came up in the final fragment before his life ended.

Plants vs…

It is the time of year when people start to think about and plan their gardens, or garden plots. I love to read about them thumbing through the seed catalogues and visualizing how and where the plants may sit in relation to the weather, light and so on.

In contrast I don’t feel the same buzz when I read the endless articles and interviews with writers on “why or how they write…” What they write concerns me, the ideas around what they write perhaps, the research, in someways what they fail to write or don’t write concerns me more than why they write.

In the garden, one armed digging, with a small implement. Removed some of the patchwork of blighted tomatoes which had dropped into the soil And hark! The soil, 4 years later and a chip shop of rubble churned up, is finally looking like soil of some sincerity. Had a rummage and found teeny, ickle potatoes as Helen said I would. The much doted upon arugula plant looks happy and certain in there. I have ambitions to be a winter gardener, but  since I cannot ever recall the code to the communal shed it’s a challenge.

Winter gardening is akin to wrestling match. I have removed the decaying tomato plants — quelle roots!

I also picked a cucumber — not bad given it is Oct. 2, 2010.

There are bound to be more gratifying moments than getting your arms ripped up by the departing scratchers.

And the slugs are back in session with avengence.

In the matter of winter gardening things are not looking mighty.

I am a damned disgrace.

But I do have some green beans in my greenhouse! Three! Yahoy!

And cucumbers with blooms on them. Yahoy! Yahoy!

I have killed the lavender. Nobody kills lavender. I am seed saving as penance.

A woman at the garden taught me about the particular smell of sweet peas today. I never knew they smelt! I have purple and red ones and they smell gorgeous now that I know to smell them. I clipped them and put them on the blue kitchen table.

Friday treat

Serious Friday treat, blast from me past, secret guilty pleasure!

Yup, it’s Gardeners Question Time … even has archive, so you can hear repeats.

I loved the man who wanted to grow an olive tree. Man after my own heart, here chez the second floor mad poly tunnel..