June 30, 2008

Life Enhancing Activities

 I need fewer.

            And don’t anyone say to me, for example, fencing*, knitting**, drawing*** or studying French†, all of which I’ve done and then let slip through my buttery fingers.

            But I don’t want to give anything up!  No, no, no, that is not the answer!

            Maybe I should start keeping a list.  Okay, today I . . . shot out of bed at 8 to hustle hellhounds out for their morning walk before I met Vicky on the top of the bell tower, her to take St George’s flag down†† and me to take advantage of her going up on the roof to take photos.  Yes!  Photos!  Stay tuned!  Then I ran home again to change into britches and hare off to my riding lesson, a day early this week because Jenny is playing a tennis tournament tomorrow.  The riding lesson itself is only half an hour††† and Jenny’s yard is about five minutes away.  Tell me why Connie always takes at least an hour and a half?‡

            I had maybe two hours at my desk, one doing boring stuff and one doing homeopathy, and then I came down to the mews for lunch, bringing the paperback proofs of DRAGONHAVEN with me . . . and promptly spent an hour trying to figure out the best fingering for Song II . . . and I’m not even finished!  I’m also still dubbing around with the introduction!  Oisin, drat him, suggested that the ‘drumming’ chords would be better two-note rather than three-note, but that gives an entirely different rhythm (duh) and I keep changing my mind about how to fit it back into the rest.

            Then I read far too few pages of proofs.

            Then I went up to Third House, where, yaaaaaaay!, either Garden Man had finally been there or the elves had, and the great swathe of the long border‡‡ that was a malevolent jungle of ground elder and bindweed is all magically clear and beautiful.‡‡‡  So I whomped in three delphiniums which were exceedingly unhappy in their pots, despite the fact I had potted them on not that many weeks ago, waiting for Garden Man to get to me and Third House on his list.

            At which point I had spent more than enough time in the healthy invigorating outdoors§ and I could barely totter after hellhounds for their final walk, although they, having spent my delphinium-planting time playing Tyrannosaurus Rex vs Godzilla, were uncharacteristically willing to totter with me. 

            Then I went back to the cottage and watered a lot of pots.§§

            Then I came back down to the mews for supper, and I seem to be blogging.  Now I am going to read proofs.

            Although I bet you I go play the piano some more. . . .

* * *

* There’s a sign I drive by at least once a week that says Southern Fencing.  I’ve lived in this area for eighteen years and I still, fractionally, startle, every time I see it, while my mind leaps delightedly to the wrong conclusion.  Thank the gods it’s the wrong conclusion.  See:  I need fewer.

** I so get the yarn thing.  I so get the yarn thing I don’t dare read, for example, http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/


http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/archives/2007/08/01/kauni_questions.html   (Note:  eeeeek.)


because there are all these photos and she writes so well and it’s about knitting.  When I was first musing (if you call banging your head against a wall and screaming ‘musing’) on the possibility of starting a blog a knitting friend recommended yarnharlot as a really good example of what can be done with a blog, and it is.  It’s just . . . knitting.  If I had a second pair of hands I could knit while I blogged, but . . . hmm . . . Ah ha!  The Moment for Voice Recognition Software!  —Snork!

And even our own jmeadows is dangerous:


(I have a pink thing)


She has a yarn blog for pity’s sake.  How . . . uh . . . committed is that.

            Scroll down and look at her spindle.  Oh gods!  It’s not just knitting!  You have to spin too!  Now I want a spindle!  It’s so pretty!  I just barely learnt to use a drop spindle when I was writing SPINDLE’S END, to find out what you did with your hands, how it felt.  What I thought I was going to use this for fell out of the finished book of course–almost all my so-called research always does, book after book, like all the bee reading I did for CHALICE.  It’s all gone.  Feh.

            And speaking of thready handwork, I also used to embroider.  I believe my first project may have been ‘Burt Lancaster’ in purple satin stitch on a pillow case.  (I think I only did one.  Memory, perhaps mercifully, fails to record what I did with its pair.)  I was, uh, thirteen maybe?  Everybody else I knew was mad for the Beatles.  Ah well.  But I have lately somehow managed to get on the mailing list of these people:



Want!  Want want want want want want



These are even on sale!

(Oh . . . ratbags.  I’ve just been trying these links, and they’re a little hinky.  Once you’ve chosen your monetary unit you should be able to click through.  Or the home page opens okay, if you’re interested, and the other three, if they don’t open for you directly, are Rosa Gallica, Illuminated Manuscript, and Renaissance Heart.)

*** I always thought it would be drawing I got back to, not music!  I can’t sing, I can’t play the piano, and until about six months ago I was in happy ignorance of the fact that I would love composing, if I ever tried it!  Also, drawing is quiet!  I don’t have to worry about annoying the neighbours!  And I can draw a little!  Well, maybe sort of!

† I took years of French in school.  Years and years.  I started in junior high, laboured with it through high school, and took it as my foreign language distribution requirement in college.  And I still cannot write, speak, or read it, although I can read it a little.  I am embarrassed to be one of those ugly, up my own wazoo Americans who can only speak English because English is the only language anyone needs to bother with, and I also hate waste:  all those classroom hours!  All that hideous homework!  I had to write papers in French!  Once when Peter and I were in Paris, quite a few years ago, I bought four or half a dozen children’s books that I knew really really well–THE BLACK STALLION and A LITTLE PRINCESS among them–and settled grimly down back home with my French dictionary, to read them, which still seems to me a rather sensible way to go about it. . . .  Um.  I think I made them Go Away when we moved out of the old house.  They may be lurking horribly in the attic of Third House, waiting to pounce.  One of the ways I managed to bond with Jake, writing DRAGONHAVEN, is that neither of us is good at languages.

†† There’s a whole complex church calendar of when you fly whatever, mostly St George

††† A very intense half hour

‡ Have I told you that someone wants to buy Horse-for-sale?  His vetting was last week.  No it wasn’t.  He came in from the field lame, and Jenny scowled at his feet and decided that one of his shoes had slipped.  Ah, thoroughbred feet.  So delightful.  Show me a thoroughbred with good, big, sound, regular feet, and I’ll show you a crossbred.  So the farrier came, Jenny put off the vetting, he has been perfectly square and sound the last several days, the buyer rang up and said the vetting was rescheduled for Thursday, and he promptly came in from the field a little ‘ouchy’ again.  And there’s no nonsense about Jenny:  if he fails he fails, and if he passes and then goes lame a fortnight later, she’ll take him back.  I think she’s about to have a nice school horse. Heh heh heh heh heh.  Because he’ll stay absolutely sound the minute he knows he’s not for sale.

‡‡ I have a Long Border too, just like the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship garden, or Sissinghurst, or Great Dixter, or Famous Garden of Choice.  Long is relative.

‡‡‡ Although it will be again, because you can’t get rid of either merely by digging.  You can beat them back a little is all.  And the situation is complicated by the fact that they’re both coming through in vast Gordian knots under the fence from next door’s garden.  I took another bucketful of evil twisty roots out just in the process of digging three holes.  The bindweed roots are especially evil:  up near the surface they’re little wee things and break easily.  A few inches down they turn into hawsers.  And the hawsers will go on sending up bindweed till the sun goes nova.

§ How do farmers stand all that fresh air?

§§ It’s finally supposed to rain tomorrow night.  We live in hope.

What’s the hold up?

whats-the-hold-up-small-019.jpgYo, you with the funny flat little black and silver box you keep holding up in this pointless way (we could see it if you’d like throw it for us), we’re talking to you.  Are we walking, or are we standing around?

the other side of the field


The standard view


Walking hellhounds


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