I recently wrote an article about shade. That one too was a bit poetic and certainly not very technical. That is the way of it.  When you work with nature you cannot help working on the purposes and the joys behind it all. Since it is World Poetry Day I thought I would share some of that inspiration nature gives.  


under the dogwoods

I prune

the shade


This is a lone haiku written two years ago.  It is a favourite because of the different way that understanding can refract through these words.  The most beautiful spectrum was that it was not the Dogwoods being pruned but the shade.  The criteria was simply to divvy up the light fairly so the shrubs and other ground covers below could share the wealth.  When we prune that is one of the goals.  When you lead and take charge it should be one of our goals.

The next poem expands on the concepts of this haiku, drawing parallels that frankly are kinda cool….but shade is like that, kinda cool.  


Bonsai Yew


Shadows do not vie.

Without complaint they lay;

a covering for spilled blood.

They give up of their space,

move willing through time,

and always cede to light.


A shadow master

created a dark refuge.

In the center lay a crypt

made of granite so grey.

Inside on the ground,

a secret to it all.


At summer Solstice

the guests arrived

treading on shadows

that never had seen man.

Subdued in the darkness

there stoic they stood.


The beam as promised

did spread across dark

highlighting words

long ago set down.

The crowd together leaned

a dark shadow on spot.


Me and the master alone,

for I had not moved,

the shadow master smiled

and whispered so quiet

in voice of deepest shade

light words at solstice.


“Do not covet the light,

golden though it be,

Study other’s fractals

and grow towards their holes.

Become the lee for their winds

and a touch of dappled shade”


Yew and me

wind and light






How many jars of jams do you eat in a year? Not knowing seems silly. I say this for two reasons; to remind you where jams come from and to encourage people to budget.

Jams are one of those tiny joys for so many people and yet they have no idea just how few they really need to have enough. Take the time to budget not so that you can save money but so you can know. Start by budgeting jams. In our case we have 10 jars of jams prepared for the year. Looking at our consumption we will have two left over by next canning season. We neither conserve nor splurge; knowing this information just brings us peace.

I am a gardener though and do not intend to teach budgeting and forecasting so take from the latter what you will. Oddly enough this post is not about the need to prune properly or garden intensely either. Sure I think it is worth reading but it’s intent is only to give an inkling and to spurn an idea in the reader. There is morals to my tale but no curriculum will come of it.

For years I stewed about the neighbour’s crab apple tree destroying my pond and littering my lawn. I filled in my pond, pruned my side and gave him back what apples I could without breaking his windows. There were no mumbled comments made to him and I did not become that guy who grumbled to his wife (not too much but you should see if she agrees.) Frankly I handled myself quite well.

In the back of all this was Crab Apple Jam. Every year I was going to make a jam and not waste the resources. Well this year my granddaughter and I did it. There is nothing like showing off to her that brings out the best in me. Oh the talking that took place as we picked, chopped and prepared. In the end there were ten little jars of jam which were shared; canned translucent Rubies are valuable. We also made translucent Amethyst grapes and pondered what fruit will make translucent gold so our shelves would be complete.

Just because many people reading will forget what to get from this I will point you in the right direction.

In business and life there are granddaughters and waste. Both are as important as the bottom line. Be wise.

There are existing resources all around to draw from that you are likely not accounting for. Maybe next year?

There are abilities and a sense in you that you can draw from. Maybe next year?

Follow the easiest recipes. There are too many made up by pedantic people that forget simple.

Do not get carried away. It only took about two quart baskets to get more than enough. When you start picking apples it is very easy to try to think you can do the whole tree. That is likely 20 bushel baskets. Think calluses, a bored granddaughter and the smell of rotten apples.


Mike’s first bike trailer November 1976


I found this picture and decided to share it for throw back Thursday. It really only feels like yesterday but this shot was taken in 1975 or 1976. This was my first trailer that I built and I can say with confidence that it was the first one in Guelph. It was designed to hold the 72 Saturday Stars that I delivered(40 weekly). I was 15.

I have included some later shots of trailers and three wheel bikes which were used for Schepers Property Maintenance and, for a few years, as our only form of transportation. There are some I have missed including shots of when we ran the Dickie Dee business in Guelph.

Things have of course progressed. Trailers are inefficient in winter, (in the shot above I am actually working at putting skis on the trailer) they are dangerous and there is no way I could still be doing what I did then. Ideas and overcoming, industry and the simple joy of accomplishment are never old though and this is what I remembered most on finding this picture.  

Master Servant Bike

The Master Servant Bike Christmas parade 1986 (old Dickie Dee Bike)

Master Servant Bike

Master Servant Bike on Vacation 1986

130722 bike 2


130510 bike


A favourite story of administration is of the Shepherd. So simple! There were two bins next to the sheep pen. One was empty and the other was full of rocks. As each sheep left the pen one person would throw a rock from the full bin into the empty bin. At the end of the day as the sheep returned to the pen the rocks were returned to the full bin. If there were any rocks left over there was a sheep missing and they could know to look for it.

I was dying for a chance to use this stone age technology one day and viola the sun rose on an opportunity. We had to move 16 yards of mulch. The question was how many 6 cubic feet wheel barrows loads would it take? It should have taken 72 if they were full but ended up taking 82.  We know this because we counted. This actually is more intriguing than critical of course but it does help. The main point is the latter system of rocks is what worked best to work this out. From a full bag of clear stone came 82 pebbles. There was no way I was going to pay people to get their smart device out for each load, the stones were smarter.

Still on the point of stones. Galileo’s wife is reported to have thrown stones into the back pond and counted the heartbeats it took for them to hit bottom. In the end it took on average 3 heartbeats from kerplunk to that tiny explosion of dust on the bottom. This information is really important to note. Whether the world is round or flat and how it orbits is not always as important as we think. Smelling the roses and counting the heartbeats matter too. (At least I stayed on the topic of stones eh?)

In the last few weeks I have loved my own simple solution to keeping track of the sheep. For years I have worked out new systems of what should work best for me. They never worked and the electronic ones were the worst. Finally, in exasperation, I went to Gary at the UPS and ordered my very own book for tracking my business activity. What kept me from doing this earlier was perhaps embarrassment. It seemed like failure on my part to never be able to make the boxed solutions work and my way seemed to be from the stone age. Today, while taking a rush order for one tiny space heater for a tenant the system again showed its nettle. Take call and do…then invoice. That is our process. I needed something as simple to record it. A blank book of duplicate sheets does the trick nicely. With my own custom cover I can doodle and make notes all I want. At the end of the month it looks a little like a fridge door or my desk top but neither of the latter are unpleasant. In fact it is great for notes about liability concerns and contact info too. Best yet? The record of the day from each of us is tracked in a way that can not be disputed easily; this again for insurance reasons. If anyone is interested I get mine from Gary from the UPS on Valu Village mall. Hey…I bet if you order the “Mike” book he will know what you mean.cropped-Untitled-11.jpg

People are a garden. Sometimes things just go together right and you get many plants blooming at once. Like a garden there is the scheming. It is necessary to notice moments when the yellow Four O’clocks and the Purple Cone Flower are out together and from there move things around to make it work better. It takes noticing what is off.  It takes coaxing and effort. This story is about one of those beautiful moments with people. and a we bit of coaxing.

When we bought our house on Regent Street in 1996 we allowed ourselves a month to move everything, including some plants from our old garden. The first night in the new home we packed only the TV set, some movies, some blankets and some snacks. We then spent the night exploring the rooms and looking for things the original owners would have missed. We ran and yelled through the echoey emptiness and introduced ourselves to the rawness of this beautiful home. The next day began our progressive move and we retrieved beds and essentials to start filling the space. This work was done as a family with occasional help from a worker. I used my diesel garden tractor and a trailer. People in the neighbourhood would have seen a fridge go by and a trailer full of plants. It was quite difficult actually but I could not see myself affording a mover.  The new house was only 6 blocks away from the old so it was not so bad.

Towards the end of the month there were still a few larger items to get. The one I could not do on my own was the upright piano. Giving in out of need I booked a local mover, Swan Moving and Storage, and arranged for the piano to be picked up. When they got there they suggested I get them to move the rest of the heavy furniture as my quoted price was for four hours and they could easily get all of it in in that time. Of course this was most agreeable. Here really is where the sweet memory begins, while the men were moving the piano. There were four of them to do the work. They gathered around the piano and then called out. “One, two three…lift.” My ears listened and each time they did it there was a disappointment because something was not finished.  I could imagine the rest. Vikings rowing boats and crusaders marching came to mind. When all was packed up from the old house I teased them about their unfinished song. Breakfast would be on me if they would have the decency to finish the song as they brought the piano in. To my surprise they agreed.

The new house is on top of a hill. Though the movers would not have to bring the piano up all of this house’s stairs it is important to note there are 72. There was another difference to this house. For sound it is like having the best seats in an amphitheater. Downtown Guelph is 4-6 blocks away and yet we can hear so many of the sounds that come from there. Skateboarders’ wheels scratching on the pavement, trucks idling and people at the bar laughing. People who walk up the hill in front of our place can be clearly heard as they whisper to each other. It is so precise how the sound carries. In fact, on one of the three nights I have ever been drunk since married, I was walking home from a Christmas party with some of Jordan’s friends. I phoned Sandra to tell her that I was coming and that I was going to make these friends peanut butter and pineapple sandwiches, a delicacy I had just concocted. Sandra asked why I had phoned since she could hear me discussing everything ever since we started our walk home. I guess for once I was loud. The point is that this house has marvelous acoustics.

When the movers got around to the front stage of the house they had to lift and drop up on each step to the front porch. I know I should remember the words to their chant and be able to describe it better but all those details escape me. It was so beautiful the tones of the words. These four men, in perfect harmony and as loud as was necessary belted out a chant at each stair.  The chant that began and ended as it should. It was amazing to see these men enjoyed it too and put their whole heart into it. It is doubtful if there was a more beautiful sound echoing over the hill since that day. How do you describe the hum of it, how each note lingered and seemed to have the power to help lift the piano? It was surreal really and I wished I had the foresight to tape it. That is the point though I suppose. Memories like this that arise out of the seemingly mundane. The memory of building up the nerve to ask, of being almost embarrassed at the beauty, like I should turn my head, and the memory of the breakfast with four burly men and myself. It simply is a memory and each time I think of it it cheers me and makes me think of heaven. Why? …Who knows.