Lightning Strikes Too Close to Home


I have a weird and very frightening story to share, with permission from the victim. It all started with a phone call. I was at the cottage, enjoying a campfire. I went inside momentarily to refresh our beverages, so just happened to be close enough to my phone to hear it ring. When I answered, I heard “I think I’ve been struck by lightning!”

To put it mildly, the next few minutes were intense.

WHAT! Where are you?

I’m fine, not even sore, don’t worry.

I raced down to the firepit with the phone on speaker mode so hubby could hear the details too:

Taking advantage of the fact that his young children were not home to help, he was standing on scaffolding to trim cedars in his backyard. Dark clouds and thunder in the distance alerted him to an approaching storm. It was not yet raining and the clouds were a good distance away, so he assumed that he had a few minutes to get in the house.

Apparently not.

The next thing he knew, he regained consciousness flat on his back, ten feet from the scaffolding, with rain beating down on him. He had no recollection of what happened but his distance from the scaffolding discounted a (simple) fall.

He felt no pain, so like the dedicated employee he is, drove himself to an extra night shift as scheduled. When he called us the job had been canceled, so he had time to share the few details he could recall with us.

Our phone call disconnected a few times, so I started messaging him…

I lost you again. If you feel any symptoms, even mild ones, go to Emerg!!

From Aunt Vickie (a nurse in Texas): When i worked burn unit (for years in Houston) I saw that. No outward signs but messed up electrical conduction of heart.

Maybe tomorrow

Make sure you do. We love you, that’s why we’re (family and friends) bugging you to go.

I know, I just hate hospitals

The next day he went to work but halfway through the day started feeling pain:

My back is killing me now. I’m sore everywhere, but my back’s the worst

Uh oh, all over your back or specific spots?

A dull pain or sharp?

What were you doing today?

Not sharp pain, it’s hard to tell.

Working. My new nickname is White Lightening

If the pain gets worse, go to ER. Wouldn’t hurt you to go get looked at, x-rays etc, make sure no internal injuries

I’ll see how things are tomorrow. I’m not going now

Did I ever tell you you’re as stubborn as your Grandpa?

Lol. I’ll go in the morning. I just hope I don’t have to wait forever. (Like he did a few years ago when he broke his arm at work, waited four hours to be seen, then 24 more for surgery!)

Go early then, the longer you wait, the busier will be. If you tell them you were struck by lightning you shouldn’t have to wait long.

Early (he did listen to something I said) the next morning I got the news he was in the ER at Ottawa’s QCH. He had only good things to say about the staff and was seen right away.

Although his phone was turned off so no one could reach him for updates.

Are you waiting?


I waited a few hours but when no one had heard any updates, (including the coworker that dropped him off) I phoned the hospital. Yes, I pulled the Mom card! His nurse assured me they were doing lots of tests, just waiting for one last result, and that everything looked good.

What a relief!

The Doctor’s Theory

The theory is that, because of the way he was braced against the (metal) posts of the scaffolding, one safety-boot-clad foot on each, the voltage went up one leg to his knee, (at that point both of his knees were swollen) across to the other knee and out the opposite foot. Because he lost consciousness, he was then tossed like a rubber doll across the yard, landing on his back, thankfully on the lawn. The rain most likely brought him around.

Upon release from the hospital, he was picked up and returned to the office (where his truck was) where he promptly fell asleep until the next morning.

What to Do (And Not to Do) in a Thunderstorm

These tips may seem obvious but are critical for safety. In this instance, when you hear thunder (often before you see lightning), drop whatever you’re doing and get inside!

Beyond Grateful

Wow, how lucky could he (and we) get? It certainly could have been much worse. Very few lightning victims walk away. Although still very sore and physically exhausted, he is lucky and grateful to be alive.

We are beyond grateful to everyone that called to check on him and pitched in to take care of him. You know who you are!

Not to make it all about me but it’s a good thing I’ve already got gray hair!

Photo credit:

Gardening on a Budget

gardening on a budget

I like to joke that I tend to spend more money on plants than clothes, especially since retiring. However, with increasing costs around the world, life’s essentials take precedence over plants and flowers. That’s where gardening on a budget comes in.

Propagate Your Own Plants

I have shared several posts on this theme. Propagation is not difficult, it just takes patience. The good news? It is very rewarding when you get the hang of it and it saves you an incredible amount of money.

Starting Plants from Seeds

Probably the most rewarding adventure, growing plants from seeds takes the most time, effort, and paraphernalia. Pots, heating mats, and grow lights all add up. Without those things, your success rate will inevitably be low and frustrating.

You also need space to set up your nursery. I am an empty nester so have spare rooms in my home that I easily convert in the winter months for the propagation of all types.

Using Leaves to Create New Plants

I’ve had great success with propagating succulents with little to no work or failures.

Simply remove a few leaves from a mature succulent and lay them (horizontally) on top of a shallow bowl of chunky, made-for-cactus/succulents, soil. Light spritz with water every day until a baby develops. That’s it!

I grew over thirty new succulents last winter for my niece’s wedding decor. I started with four succulents (I had two and purchased two others for variety), two large saucer-like pots, succulent soil, and a sunny window. Although I had great success without a heating mat, I did add one part way through the process to speed it up. That was my impatience kicking in, I would have been better off keeping them smaller for the driftwood project I had in mind.

Divide Perennials When Gardening on a Budget

This is by far the easiest way to increase your plants if gardening on a budget. Many perennials thrive when divided every few years too. Some will divide easily, others might require the use of a sharp spade or fork.

Simply place the severed chunk in a new pot with fresh soil or straight into a new spot in your garden. Either way, water well after the split.

I also used lots of divided perennials for the recent wedding I put together floral displays for.

Share with Neighbours, Family, and Friends

The best (and most economical) thing about propagating is the fact that you will have lots of baby plants to share, trade with, or sell. Markets on Facebook or other forms of social media are full of plants every spring.

Houseplants can be Propagated as well

I’ve also extended my collection of houseplants over the years with various propagation methods and success rates.

The bottom line? Gardening on a budget is easier than you think!

DIY Wedding Flowers

DIY wedding flowers

Well, my third wedding is in the books. Not my own personal third wedding but the third one that I arranged floral decorations for. I must say I absolutely love this creative side of my business. DIY wedding flowers can be a bit stressful but I use lists, lots of lists, to keep myself organized and on schedule.

This last wedding was my niece’s. The venue was in my brother’s backyard, located a little over an hour from my home. That meant everything was created here, then transported there. That’s always a challenge, especially when fresh flowers are best just that…fresh. I do love a challenge!

Succulent and Driftwood Planters for DIY Wedding Flowers

I know that my niece loves succulents. Way back last fall when perusing Pinterest for succulent wedding decor, I fell in love with some succulent driftwood planters viewed there. I had a feeling she would love them too; they made the to-do list.

Propagating Succulents

Propagating (producing new plants from old ones) succulents is very easy to do and can save tons of money. Simply lay a petal from an old plant on a shallow bowl of soil (the chunky kind made especially for cacti and succulents), spritz it with water daily and it will sprout baby plants! When they develop a few petals each, transplant each new baby plant (very gently) to a tiny pot of its own. At this stage, water much less frequently, once every 2 weeks should be plenty.

These were started last fall and took about six months to get to this size. These grew almost too big (heavy) and were difficult to keep them attached to the driftwood in the later stage, more on that later.

DIY wedding flowers

Of course, if you don’t want to try your hand at propagating succulents, you can purchase them instead.

Driftwood Planters

Last month I went in search of driftwood pieces. A kind stranger answered my request on Kijiji informing me of a great place to find lots of it, for free. I just had to collect it.

This driftwood collection became an outing with my adventure-loving, 6-year-old grandson, although he was upset that I might be stealing the home of a frog, snake, toad, or other creature. Point taken, we did make sure nothing was inhabiting my selections before we loaded them into my van. We did have to work around a thunderstorm passing through the area.

After the driftwood sat on my back deck drying out for a week, I drilled holes in it, spaces for the succulents to root (quite a messy procedure) then added moss and various shapes and sizes of succulents.

Two weeks later, with frequent spritzes of water to keep the moss wet, the succulents had perked up and rooted into the drilled holes. They looked awesome on the tables around the wedding venue and were a huge hit. We ended up giving the driftwood pieces to guests to take home.

Large Planters for DIY Wedding Flowers

The original plan was to hollow out several logs for me to fill with plants but that proved to be too difficult. Instead, I filled inserts that fit into fake birch bark containers (from my houseplants) and tall black planters that my son had stored in his garage.

The last time I filled large containers for wedding decor I used annuals only. This time, the center of the inserts were planted with ferns for the shade and ornamental grasses for sunny spots a month before the wedding. This enabled the “thrillers” to fill out. Ground covers like sweet woodruff, lamium, periwinkle, sedge, and perennial geraniums were added to the perimeter of each container for the spillers. Next, annuals within the bride’s bohemian-themed colour palette were added for the fillers. Tall, spiky blue lyme grass seed heads (that faded obligingly to a wheat colour) as well as branches of euonymus and smoke tree, were added next. The final touch was fresh flowers in plastic water tubes. Gorgeous!


Two days prior to the wedding I put together the boutineers. They too were created from succulents which survive longer out of water, so could be made earlier than the corsages and bouquet.

Using succulents was a bit tricky as they have no stem. I removed the roots, then stuck a piece of floral wire through the base of the succulent, creating a stem. Then I played around with various leaves for a backdrop to the succulent. When I was satisfied with the arrangement, I wrapped the wire with floral tape. The easiest way to do this is to hold the boutineer upside down and spin it with one hand while stretching and applying the tape with the other. Floral tape is only sticky when it is stretched.

After the boutineers were assembled, each one was placed in a ziplock baggie, filled with air, sealed, then stored in my basement where they can chill for a few days.

Corsages and Bouquet

The corsages and bouquet were assembled the day before the wedding. Fresh flowers and foliage were collected in the morning (not too early so flowers no longer had dew on them) and then sat in water for three hours before the assembling began. Both the corsages and bouquet were simply in style and design as requested by the bride, so fairly easy to create.

For both the corsages and bouquet, it is easier to start with the foliage. Arrange it according to size, colour, texture, and shape in your hand. It helps to do this in front of a mirror so you can see what they will look like, especially the bouquet.

When you are happy with the arrangement of the foliage, start adding the flowers. These DIY wedding flowers were easy to make as they contained just a few flowers each. Again, arrange the flowers so the shape, texture, colour etc is spread out. For example, don’t place all the spiky flowers together, intersperse them between the rounder ones. When you are happy with their arrangement, attach an elastic at the base of the flower heads to hold them together. Then add ribbon, winding from top to bottom as explained with the boutineers. (One hand spins the bouquet while the other hand guides the ribbon). You can leave the stems bare too with a small piece of ribbon where it will be held.

Late to the Party

Much like the predicament when arranging flowers for my son’s wedding, several of my planned options did not pan out. I started dahlias indoors in plenty of time but our frosty spring delayed their transition to outdoors. As a result, they bloomed two weeks late.

Unfortunately, the pale pink and peachy beauties in my rose garden suffered the same fate.

Thank heavens for generous neighbours and clients who were willing to let me choose other options from their gardens. These were stunning in tiny green vases on cocktail tables as well as larger vases around the event. Several were also tucked into water tubes within the large containers, and others were used in the bride’s bouquet and mothers’ corsages.

Hits and Misses

As mentioned, I let the succulents grow too large, so they were sufficient to secure in place. I used greening pins“>greening pins and hot glue on the surrounding moss to try to hold them in place. These efforts were somewhat successful but the project would have been easier with smaller succulents. Deeper holes in the driftwood would require thicker, sturdier pieces. Lessons learned!

I did have some tinier succulents from my cottage garden that worked well.

DIY wedding flowers

The perennials and annuals I planted early (grasses, ferns, sedge, lamium, sweet woodruff, periwinkle, chrysanthemums, dusty miller) all filled out nicely.

The unrooted euonymus branches survived for several weeks but the smoke tree ones barely lasted through the wedding weekend, and sadly the Black lace elderberry did not last more than an hour. This was disappointing as it was so pretty on my shrub.

Black Lace Elderberry

As mentioned above, the seed heads of the Blue Lyme grass were awesome and still going strong (on my front veranda) three weeks later, even though the stems are just poked into the soil with no roots. Impressive

Amazing Peony Hack

I learned of a clever trick for peonies just a few days before the wedding. Pick the unopened blooms when the size of a marshmallow, (I tried smaller buds but they were not as successful) remove the bottom leaves, wrap them in newspaper individually, and store them in a sealed plastic baggy in the fridge. Remove as many as you need a few hours before you want them to open, put them in water and wait for the magic….amazing! Apparently, you can store unopened peonies this way for months! Who knew?

I think that’s it for this episode of DIY wedding flowers. These endeavors were definitely labours of love that I would not take on for just anyone. All three brides are easy-going, and not in the least bit fussy. In other words, I could not handle the pressure of creating anything for a bridezilla.

I would though be happy to answer any questions for any of you willing to give any of these DIY projects a try.