The Unruly Garden

In any book club comprised of people of a certain age, eccentricity and eclecticism are a given but the folks in the club I belong to could out-quirk all other clubs, even on our worst day. Our assorted idiosyncrasies are truly exceptional.

Not to be coy about the whole certain age thing; I turned sixty in December and I am the youngest in the club. So… We’re old! We despise the terms “older woman” and “older man”… Older than whom, exactly? Old is perfectly respectable. We own it.


We have a new director. I’m calling her Hibiscus because she is equally beautiful and exotic. Hibiscus is a retired physics professor, a new Canadian, a new member of our club and she immediately parachuted into the top spot – unrivalled, I might add. She abhors tradition and is planning a massive shake-up for our group.


Our outgoing director is her polar opposite; he loathes change and is so incensed over this newcomer and her changes he has quit the club. He has been growing ever more cantankerous, uncooperative with the book selection committee and censorious over comments made (in person and on-line) so I’ve heard that many are thinking if not actually saying, “good riddance”. Mr. Wish is a retired lawyer. I’m calling him Wish because, like these seeds, he’s about to blow away on the wind. I always found his dry humour amusing, he was always very kind to me and he put my blog on his platform where I have acquired an additional 500+ subscribers. I will absolutely miss Mr. Wish and I am sure – given time – the rest of the club will miss him as well.


We have (have always had, according to the inaugural members) a constant but unofficial director. She is bossy, demanding, opinionated, super self-confident and I’m sure the word “collaborative” is as foreign to her as Hibiscus’ native language. Ginger is a retired high school teacher, principal and superintendent. I’m calling her Ginger because she is spicy and has the same hot, sharp bite. Ginger is a driving force, she gets things done. Her words and thoughts became the basis for Hibiscus’ shake-up. She cautioned that we need a sharper focus, said that as venerables, we must use proairesis. Ginger wants our club to be more discerning; to choose the books we’ll read and the conversations we’ll have very carefully and fastidiously. Prioritize and work the plan.

The Roses

We have three retired professors of literature, all from esteemed universities – one in the UK, one in the USA and one here in Canada. They are absolutely the brain trust, they have the helm and nothing happens without their support and approval. Even though two are men, I am calling them the roses because despite their apparent beauty and perfection, their tongues are as sharp as the rose’s thorns. This trio introduced and fostered our study of the Greeks. You have a good mental image now, don’t you? I’ll bet their skin was fair crawling at the thought of what Hibiscus might introduce and recommend, but… Her initial project was met with the greatest enthusiasm I’ve ever seen these three dragons display, so, good omen?


I love flower meanings and symbolism. I use that information in the production of my cards. Although we aren’t especially close, I’m calling my favourite book club friend Cosmos. Cosmos means peacefulness, wholeness and modesty and that perfectly describes my friend. Cosmos is a nurse. She is always the one pouring oil on troubled waters. Plus she is very hard-working for us – she seems to be a life-member of the reading committee and she never fails to provide that group with astute observations, and recommendations that apply to us all, not just the Roses. Cosmos wants us to read about, talk about and celebrate trailblazing women – women who break the rules. She made a comment to the group about her idea, and except for me, the only one seemingly in favour was Hibiscus. At the following meeting, though, this happened…

The Peonies

We also have a group of self-professed a-listers; a sextet always dressed in the height of designer fashion, always with perfectly coifed hair, never without full makeup which always seems expertly applied, always with fresh and pretty manis and pedis, and adorned with elegant jewellery. Yikesabee!!! What a herculean effort this must take! I call them the Peonies – showiest flowers in the garden. I’m never accepted by this group because, well, just look at me! I’ve always been a bit neutral towards them – nought to like or dislike in my mind. But, the week after Cosmos made her suggestion, the head Peony stood up and announced she thought it was a great idea, and that our club should emphasize this study throughout the coming year. Shazam! To quote Buck, We got ourselves a ballgame folks.

Peony four then got to her feet and advocated for a specific book to use in our pursuit of extraordinary women: Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman. With very little discussion, the group agreed that, in addition to our monthly book, we’d use a chapter a month from this book, to be discussed at each meeting. First up: Serena Williams. Squee!!! This is going to be a fantastic project. Thanks Peonies – this would never have happened without your endorsement!

Love In The Mist

I’ll just bet you’re wondering how on earth I got into this group of rarified blossoms… I was nominated by one of my doctors at a time when I was struggling badly. She recognized the need for a distraction, for some interaction with like-minded women, she knew of my love of reading and knew I’d love belonging to this particular book club (and I do). I’m calling her Ms Love-In-The-Mist because, well, she was exactly that for me. She still is!

Poor Mr. Wish often compared leading this group to herding cats; we are, indeed, an unruly garden. The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman then, is perfect for us – men and women alike, and should generate some wonderful discussions. I can’t wait.


To eclaircise, I’m the Daisy in this crowd – plain, common and uncomplicated.

‘Til next time, y’all…



2 thoughts on “The Unruly Garden

  1. Sorry everyone. It took six tries before I could make it accept “Serena” – autocorrect badly wanted it to be “Selena”. Sincerest apologies to the divine Ms W as well.

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