August 31, 2008

Shadows is here!

The poor old Wedding-Guest

 

The new web site was supposed to have been turned on by tonight at midnight and . . . doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.*  So I was going to post my FAQ answer to this question:

 

Q: What do you do with your spare time? Do you have any hobbies?

 

. . . as an explanation why the web site wasn’t going to get turned on by tonight at midnight (Blog/Webmom can only set up what I send her), and I did know this particular answer was kind of long, even in a FAQ full of rather long answers, but I’ve just copied and pasted it now and it’s . . . uh . . .

 It’s nine pages long. 

I’m not sure, can you get arrested for this kind of excessive behaviour?  I am reminded of the poor old Wedding-Guest:

 

He holds him with his glittering eye—

The Wedding-Guest stood still,

And listens like a three years’ child:

The Mariner hath his will.

 

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone: 

He cannot choose but hear;

And thus spake on that ancient man,

The bright-eyed Mariner

 

. . . For about 200 stanzas.

 

Me Mariner.  You Jan—I mean Wedding-Guest.

 

So, hey, I’m going to get two entries out of it.  Tonight.  Tomorrow.  Having tomorrow more or less off will give me a little more time to get on with the rest of the FAQ.**

 

I admit that a lot of the following will look pretty familiar.  You can read me ranting about Not Enough Time and Doing Too Much nearly every flapdoodling day here on the blog, and furthermore all I’ve done is rewrite the out of date bits of the old FAQ answer.  But for anyone goofy enough to have read the old, shorter FAQ answer all the way through, the changes may prove instructive.  Somewhat depending on your definition of ‘instructive.’

 

* * *

 

Enter this answer at your own risk.  In fact it would be quite a good idea, before you come one word farther in, to leave a letter propped on the mantelpiece telling your nearest and dearest where to come looking for you if you get lost.  Not only do I do too much, I like talking about it. 

 

So the basic deal is, I don’t have any spare time, probably because I don’t have hobbies, I have obsessions. I don’t much like the word ‘hobby’ — as soon as you call something a ‘hobby’ it seems to me it loses all substance, all value, and becomes just something that sucks up some hours. Eating chocolate chip cookies or (re)watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a hobby (not simultaneously however: the human nervous system can only bear so much stimulation); cooking and gardening and bell-ringing and riding horses and playing the piano and practising homeopathy — and reading — are something else. (I’ve even been known to embroider pillow-cases and shirt- and cushion-fronts.) But can you have more than one, say, avocation? That sounds a little pretentious. So does Personal Enrichment Programme.  I do a lot of stuff with my time besides write books. A lot of the voluntary stuff (ie paying bills or going to the dentist are both necessary I suppose but not what I would call voluntary) also… feeds me. Feeds the person I am, which includes the writer who writes books and has a web site with a FAQ, and now an endlessly hungry blog.

 

(The last time I updated this, the list of obsessions included running and fencing:  if I have to choose, I’ll take homeopathy and the piano over running and fencing.  But I don’t have to like making these exclusionary choices.   My fencing teacher now lives in Burma or Singapore or some other exotic elsewhere, which helps, although I’m sure there’s a fencing club around here.   And I still have fantasies of running again—aside from every Sunday morning on the way to service ring at the church—although even if the ME let me, my knees probably wouldn’t.)

 

I feel however that my main problem isn’t that I’m an obsessive, it’s that the stupid day refuses to be any longer than twenty-four hours, week after week and year after year.  (What are our scientists doing, that they haven’t knocked a hole in this wall yet?)  There are quite a few other things I would be obsessive about too if someone would invent the tesseract soon, please. Photography. Rose breeding (as opposed to just growing phalanxes of the things). I’d probably breed carnivorous plants too, just because they are weird and fascinating. I have several waterproof cachepots of carnivorous plants big enough to take on house flies—the tallest sarracenia is as long as my arm, with pitcher-mouths as big around as a 50p piece, and a bright lime green—and one of my favourite sounds is that of trapped flies buzzing furiously in the throats of my beautiful pitcher plants as I walk past the kitchen window sill at the cottage.  I’m an ‘all critters are siblings’ wuss about most things—yes, of course I fish spiders out of the bath—but houseflies, mosquitoes (and rats) are the enemy. I rotate my carnivores, so none has to stay indoors too long.  They’re sun lovers.  (I also have a Venus flytrap so small it probably has to ask the pansies it usually sits next to for help when it tackles a gnat.  But it’s three years old and still producing infinitesimal fringed dumpling-shaped traps, so it’s eating something.)           

 

I’d take up sailing again.  (The tesseract has to bring a larger bank balance with it.) I’d have learnt to work on the MG myself, instead of girding my loins to sell her (sob).   I’d like more time for drawing—I’d like any time for drawing—and I’d like the excuse to buy some new watercolours;  I suspect the last lot have shrivelled up solid. I might conceivably take French lessons, since it’s French I theoretically learnt in school, and I am deeply embarrassed at being another of these self-centred English speakers who don’t feel they have to learn anybody else’s language. But I’ve never gotten very far doing anything on guilt and good intentions alone, so I’d have to turn out to like it, and I can’t do grammar and conjugations (shuuudder) in my own language.

 

I’d like to finish learning to knit. I’d like to learn to make clothes, with buttonholes and zippers and belt loops and all those exciting things, but my inherited sewing machine was previously owned by someone who did know how, and I was so demoralised knowing it despised me that I gave it away when we left the old house to someone with whom I hope it has a rich and happy relationship. I’d like to be able to make an origami crane that didn’t fall over. (Origami is very obsessive.) I’d like to learn pottery-making and silver-smithing and how to polish and set stones. I’d like to learn blacksmithing—swordsmithing!—and farriery, but my back wouldn’t take it even if my tesseract would.  And I would ride every day.  Twice a day.  I would start doing yoga again.  Once upon a long-ago time I could do headstands and the splits (not together).  I could also do a Sun Salutation that didn’t change every time I did it because I kept forgetting how it went. 

 

I would certainly read more. A lot more.

 

However I am taking piano lessons again.  I wasn’t going to.  I absolutely wasn’t going to.  The piano wasn’t just on but was indestructibly welded, with auxiliary bolts, onto the ‘I’m not going to get round to it this life, it’ll have to be the next life’ list.  (The list itself is made out of case-hardened steel, to make it both highly resistant to tampering, and utterly impervious to sad, bitter tears.)  When we moved out of the old house I gave my baby grand piano to a local school with a pang more of lost dreams and opportunities than of any practical reality.  I even thought I was more or less resigned to not having a piano around the place any more, reminding me that I’m not playing it. 

 

Then I started bell ringing again, because what is now my home tower is a relatively short stone’s throw from my cottage, and I’d lasted about six weeks after the house move, listening to the bells, before I was on the phone to the tower secretary asking if they’d take a recidivist ex-beginner.  I’d had to give bell-ringing up when the ME knocked me down and sat on me, and one of the things that’s never quite come right again is a tendency to RSI.  Starting bell ringing again made my hands hurt.  I’m just not going to sit around squeezing a tennis ball, which is one of those physiotherapeutic clichés.  (Boooooooooooring.  I know.  I did it after I broke my hand.)  Hmm, I thought, piano players have strong hands.  So I went out and bought a cheap electric keyboard and started playing scales.  One thing led to another.  I’m now the insufferably proud owner of an 1897 Steinway upright, and composing, gods help me, which wasn’t even on the long life list.

 

I’d take voice lessons again if I could find a teacher with a fabulous enough sense of humour to take me on:  that really was on the long list (with the drawing, the knitting, the French, the fencing . . . ) but it has developed a certain painful irony lately.  My favoured form of composing is setting poems or reworking folk songs, which involve, you know, words.  (The word proclivity carries through apparently.)  And both my piano teacher and my husband insist that if I’m going to write songs I have to sing as well as play them.  There’s perhaps some excuse for my piano teacher, who is a self-confessed sadist anyway, but the poems I’m setting tend to be Peter’s, and he should have a sufficient sense of self-preservation to say Okay, if you must set them, very well, but for pity’s sake don’t sing them.

 

Sigh.

 

My first serious discovery of life outside books had been horses and horseback riding, when I was nine years old and living in Japan where my military father was posted. (Of course I’d been reading about horses for years.) I took my first riding lessons from some Japanese ex-cavalrymen who had set up a riding school for us occupying round eyes; in hindsight I wonder about this, since this was the very early sixties and WWII wasn’t all that long ago, but at the time it all seemed friendly enough, at least until your horse refused the fence again because he knew you weren’t so sure about it yourself, whereupon the air got, I think, pretty blue, but since it was in Japanese you didn’t know for sure. The ex-cavalrymen belonged to the ‘put them on a horse and make them jump things until they fall off and then put them back on and make them do it again’ school of learning to ride, which was exciting, but rather alarming, and I was a nervy, easily frightened child. Obstinate (I did keep getting back on) but nervy and easily frightened. (I am a nervy, easily frightened, obstinate adult). I do still have a blown-up photo poster of me at eleven jumping a horse named Shadow over a decent sized fence — which is to say I am somewhere on top of him and he is going over the fence and my hands could have released better and my hard hat is sitting on the back of my head and wouldn’t have done me much good if I’d fallen off — which proves I got that far anyway. I didn’t actually learn to ride until twenty years later, taking dressage lessons, but that’s another story.

 

I hesitate to mention this because after years of stumbling into philosophical and/or financial holes and making wrong choices I feel rather superstitious about it, but I am presently riding at a very nice yard indeed, with nice normal (well, not too normal) people and a terrific owner who also gives riding lessons.  Deep in the Hampshire countryside too, so if you don’t feel like schooling that day you can just go out on a hack.  Divine.  This is what all those pony books when I read when I was a kid were about (no, not the BLACK STALLION, but all the Monica Edwards and Pullein-Thompsons), and here I am in one at last.

 

I started cooking pretty young too. I have always liked to eat, and once you figure out how, you can have exactly what you want by making it yourself (one of my better memories of an extremely unpleasant adolescence is making cakes and pies to Saturday morning cartoons), and you may find that half the fun is diddling around with a series of recipes till you achieve your aim via your own adaptations and evolving marginal commentary. Although despite the Betty Crockers and Joys of Cooking and Julia Childs and Delia Smiths and so on it still seems to me there’s a huge credibility gap between the pages of most cookbooks and the hasn’t-a-clue, um, boil water?, learner. Knead your bread till it’s the texture of an ear lobe? A vivid image but not one I can recommend as practical. Bread making books go on too much about kneading anyway. (They can’t all be in the pay of the bread-making machine industry.) Almost nobody points out that if you let your sponge do most of the work you don’t have to. (Although I actually enjoy beating the bejeezus out of bread dough. It’s an excellent counterpoint to long hours at your desk.) I love baking generally. My husband and I observe a strict turn and turn about in the bread making but all the cookies and desserts and puddings and sweets are my territory (he does usually make the Christmas pudding but then I’m busy making acres of Christmas cookies and moaning).

 

Gardening was an accident of circumstance. The last summer I lived in Maine it had sort of semi occurred to me that there was, you know, um, earth out there and I could probably grow something in it. My little house was pretty heavily shaded by lilac hedges and an enormous maple tree, and the soil was the standard Maine granite bedrock with a few crumbly bits on top to mislead the unwary, but it still could be done. I put in a few snapdragons and carnations, bought from the straggly on-sale table at the local garden centre, and watched in fascination while it took them really quite a surprisingly long time to die. Maybe I was on to something here. Then Peter, my gardening-mad husband, happened unexpectedly, and I found myself plonked down over here in southern England in the middle of a two-and-a-quarter-acre southern English jungle. The longer version of this story is somewhere else on this web site — the essay on how I wrote Rose Daughter [link to come], which is a longer version of the afterword in the book itself (both leave out the fact that Peter’s first fiance’s gift to me was a pair of secateurs, so his protests about my not having to take on gardening to please him may perhaps be viewed with a certain benign suspicion) — but the point is, there I was, sink or swim. I swam.

 

I’m still swimming, although we left the old house and the two and a quarter acres several years ago.  Peter suddenly began feeling his age, and decided that his idea of growing old gracefully was living within walking distance of the shops.  So we moved into town, into (ahem) a range of little houses with little gardens.  I’m now conducting a scientific experiment in growing the optimum number of roses in the minimum amount of space.  (Pots as a layering device.)

 

As you will have gathered by now I am a dilettante obsessive, which is probably the worst kind. I didn’t need any more interesting occupations to bore my friends and loved ones with (Peter, so far as I can tell, cannot be bored with conversation about gardening and gardens, although I’m still trying) but my butterfly mind will keep flapping.

 

To Be Continued . . .

 

* * *

 

*Soon though!  Soon!  Really!

 

** Tonight I’m going to play hooky and compose something. 

comments

Please join the discussion at Robin McKinley's Web Forum.

Comment by jmeadows

Hee. I love when you get all rambly about your many obsessions. You’re so…obsessive! And it’s contagious. You make me want to take on ten million more non-hobbies.

Looking forward to the conclusion tomorrow. (But I’m sure if you really try, you can fit in another day of things you like to do…or just things you do. Does sweeping up dog hair count as one of your obsessions?)

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Comment by Robin

Snork! No, it’s an anti-obsession! :)

 
 
Comment by Southdowner

****** There are quite a few other things I would be obsessive about too if someone would invent the tesseract soon, please.

I can’t understand how people can say that they are bored. There’s so much to do, books, friends, family, animals, sports, oh all sorts of things that line up in the wings. How great that you’re managing to do some of the things you love and in ways that exhilarate you – way to go!

(Is 9 pages the condensed version? ;p

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Comment by Robin

Yes! TERRIBLY, WOEFULLY condensed!!! :)

 
 
Comment by AJLR

“Enter this answer at your own risk. In fact it would be quite a good idea, before you come one word farther in, to leave a letter propped on the mantelpiece telling your nearest and dearest where to come looking for you if you get lost. ”

I take it that this is the McKinley version of ‘Abandon hope, all ye who enter here’? :)

And long may you continue to write stories, garden, bake, write stories, ring bells, ride horses, play piano, write stories, compose music, talk to Peter, wrestle hellhounds…and write stories! (..and sleep long and soundly in between all this.)

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Comment by Q

Yes! Take voice lessons.

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Comment by Robin

LOL! Why, of course!

 
 
Comment by Vikkik

LOL!!!
NINE PAGES????
Honestly Robin! Was that all you could manage?
*shakes head in disappointment* ;-)

Out of curiosity, how many pages does the entire FAQ run to?

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Comment by Robin

Out of curiosity, how many pages does the entire FAQ run to?

I DON’T KNOW! I DON’T WANT TO KNOW! I HAVEN’T COUNTED! I HAVEN’T ***FINISHED***!!! GO AWAY! :)

Comment by Vikkik

**Out of curiosity, how many pages does the entire FAQ run to?

I DON’T KNOW! I DON’T WANT TO KNOW! I HAVEN’T COUNTED! I HAVEN’T ***FINISHED***!!! GO AWAY! :)**

*pats Robin on the head soothingly, and feeds her chocolate*

*digs in back of cupboard and finds bottle of champagne*

Comment by Robin

Thanks. Then we’re friends again. :)

 
 
Comment by Vikkik

**Thanks. Then we’re friends again. :)**

Phew!!
(Who said bribery doesn’t work? ;-))

Comment by Robin
 
 
 
 
Comment by Susan from Athens

Oooh, I loved this. It echoes so many thoughts of my own. So many things to do, so many passions to follow, so little time. I agree with southdowner: How can you be bored? Take a breath and dive in and live… And you seem to be doing very well indeed. I hold you and this blog community responsible for re-igniting a few of my obsessions too. Thanks to Jodi I am now again the proud possessor of yarn and looking into knitting projects. The cooking entries are pushing me in the direction of more, luscious and calorie-ridden baking and the Pollyanna book list has added several layers to my piles, although having actually had a vacation this year, I have read my way through one pile.

Thanks, for the bottom of my heart for sharing your obsessions, your precious time and nurturing this community. It is a shining beacon in my life at least.

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Comment by ChrisW

9 pages… YEAH!!! I’m surprised, I thought it would be more ;o)

Maybe some day someone will invent a way reset your brain without sleep. Ahh it’s my dream to not need sleep. There are so many things to do.

My mother and I are anxiously awaiting Chalice and now the new website with more info.

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Comment by Julia

BIG smile at this.
Laughter, Happiness, Hugs and All Sorts of Wonderful Things,
–Julia

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Comment by Ithilien

My roses have arrived! Only three, mind you, but with the drought and not living in this house permanently and all, I decided to start small. (We will NOT be discussing the amazing accumulation of random pots that I picked up from the annual hard rubbish collection over the weekend.)

Two prickly Papa Meilland – inspired by the description of The Rose in ROSE DAUGHTER – one for me to go in a pot and one to leave behind for the landlady (well, she’s a gardener too, and everyone deserves beautiful roses) and an Amoretto, which my Other Half picked.

I’ve never bought roses before. I’ve never bought bare rooted roses before. These look suspiciously like the retailer sold me a prickly bunch of twigs…

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Comment by Robin

Prickly bunch of twigs, that’s right. :) I’ll be interested in how you get on with Papa Meilland–she’s pretty hopeless in UK climate. You should do better.

Comment by b_twin_1

Papa Meilland should do fine. One of the best roses in Oz. :) And the smell ….. ::dies::

Comment by Robin

And the smell

******** Yes. You realise I’m handing you ammo for your 2010 plot. :)

 
 
Comment by Ithilien

Robin said about Papa Meilland:

I’ll be interested in how you get on with Papa Meilland–she’s pretty hopeless in UK climate. You should do better.

You realise I’m handing you ammo for your 2010 plot. :)

*** Oh yes. And I’m certain that she’ll be large and flowering beautifully when you and the hellhounds have arrived on the large cruise ship… hang on, September? Well, large and well pruned, perhaps… I shall have to dry some petals for you, unless we have another particularly mild and dry winter. (That would not be entirely surprising, we’ve had mild and bone-dry winters for about the last five years. It’s a DROUGHT.)

Of course, you could always stay until November and dress up fabulously for Melbourne Cup Day. She’ll be blooming by then. And I hear that the roses at Flemington Racecourse are amazing.

Comment by Robin
 
 
Comment by b_twin_1

******** Yes. You realise I’m handing you ammo for your 2010 plot. :)>/i>

Oh? Golly!

::smugly locks away the ammo in the gun cabinet::

::keeps the whippet contacts locked in the *other* cabinet…. just in case::

 
Comment by b_twin_1

::googles::

Hmmmm … To arrive on a cruise ship in 2010 in time for WorldCon you would have to get a ship to Sydney as the Melbourne ones finish in Mar and start in Oct. In fact the Pacific Dawn arrives in Sydney on Aug 27…..

Helpful?? ;)

 
Comment by Ithilien

b_twin_1 said:
…you would have to get a ship to Sydney as the Melbourne ones finish in Mar and start in Oct. In fact the Pacific Dawn arrives in Sydney on Aug 27…..

*** Oh that would work well. Stay until November (b_twin_1 will have gorgeous cute baby lambs in September and October!) and then leave on a ship from Melbourne then.

Besides, I’m sure that cruising for a quarter of the year would be lovely. Sunshine, catered food, room service… what could be a better for writing? You could possibly even have some plants if you had a private balcony. The bells may be difficult thogh…

 
 
 
Comment by Judith

*****the soil was the standard Maine granite bedrock with a few crumbly bits on top to mislead the unwary*****

(*LAUGH!*)

I think a lot of us here share some of your obsessive dilettantism. I always say that maybe some day I’ll learn to play the cello, but I know it will never happen. Sigh. Maybe when the new piano is in the new house and I am too I’ll get back to the piano, at least.

Judith

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Comment by Robin

Learning to play the cello is one of the few things NOT on my list. The fiddle end of violin, yes . . .

Comment by Judith

*****Learning to play the cello is one of the few things NOT on my list. The fiddle end of violin, yes . . .*****

Actually, the viola is my favorite instrument. I played the violin for a number of years in elementary school, but the way my arms and shoulders are conformed, it’s difficult for me to do vibrato on a violin or viola. Much easier for me on a cello, so that would be the instrument of choice.

Judith

Comment by Robin

Well, you have a music room in your new house, yes? It can INSPIRE you. :)

 
 
 
 
Comment by b_twin_1

For those days when ME is nibbling too strongly on your toes …
Scrambled Eggs with Champagne http://www.abc.net.au/tv/cookandchef/txt/s2023832.htm

And please note this is NOT just “scrambled eggs + a glass of bubbles”! Oh no. It’s scrambled eggs *with* sparkly stuff THEN with the glass of bubbles… ::grins:: With optional truffle garnish.

The things I pay attention too now!! LOL

(PS. I now make scrambled eggs your way and it has been a happy family ever since LOL)

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Comment by Robin

Good gods. Well, I don’t think scrambled eggs with chocolate is a good idea, and that’s all that’s left. . . .

Comment by b_twin_1

Errr… not a *chocolate* truffle. A TRUFFLE. As in the fungus variety.

Comment by Robin

Snork, no, sorry, I got that. I’ve actually even HAD scrambled eggs with truffles–not champagne though. Or chocolate. My mistake. **Snork.**

 
 
Comment by Susan from Athens

Well one of my fairly frequent additions to omelettes is a tablespoon of brandy. It takes away some of the “egginess”. Of course there are some who would argue that the whole point of omelettes is “egginess”, but that seems to me to be narrow minded and not to the point. The point of cooking is enjoyment and experimentation (and a good meal at the end of it). So brandy omelettes with homemade strawberry jam, yum!

Comment by Robin

Well, I do want to try the champagne. More excuses, I mean uses for champagne! Yesss!

 
 
Comment by sarah;cincinnati

Well, if you make some of the more complicated patisserie, you get egg-yolk- thickened chocolate creams which will turn into chocolate scrambled egg with minimal provocation. (Time out to whine; I had a lot of spare time hanging round the house as a teen which allowed me to learn needlepoint, make petit-fours from scratch, read a lot and get fat. It wasn’t that I was grounded, just not allowed out. Wouldn’t be a teen again for anything.)

Comment by Robin

Wouldn’t be a teen again for anything.)

*********** I’m with you there.

 
 
 
 
Comment by b_twin_1

Q: What do you do with your spare time?

BHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ::helpless laughter on the floor::

::SNORK::

Short answer: “Visit my blog and you will find out!”

(PS. I don’t think you HAVE any spare time….. And even if you do why would you spend it answering THAT question?!)

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Comment by Stella

“The ex-cavalrymen belonged to the ‘put them on a horse and make them jump things until they fall off and then put them back on and make them do it again’ school of learning to ride”
My mom, who grew up in a tiny East Texas town, learned to ride by her first pony being trained as a cart horse. It had never been ridden. Its name was Lollipop, and he broke both her legs, threw her off at every opportunity, dragged her along barbed-wire fences, and was generally VERY MEAN. After her legs healed, she broke both her her arms being tossed off her bike, and the (tiny, Texas town) newspaper featured a sick little article with a picture of her on the front lawn kicking a football with both her arms in casts, saying she wanted to be a line backer when she grew up. This is not made up. I have the article in a scrapbook. I also have pictures of the pony, who eventually let her ride him without many difficulties. She could stay on pretty much anything after that (except her bike, apparently).

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Comment by Robin

Um . . . why were her parents ALLOWING all this?

 
 
Comment by Louiz

About knitting: I don’t think it’s possible to finish learning about knitting. And it is a thing about which I am obsessive. And I will say now – if you don’t want to get sucked into more knitting than you though possible (I’ve gone to bed at 2am before now due to knitting) don’t try to finish learning to knit!

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Comment by Lissla

“Dilettante obsessive”. Yes. Me too. That’s perfect.

And, oh, dear, last week it occured to me (after a whole lifetime of killing plants by neglect) that if we ever move anywhere with any outdoor space, I might, MIGHT be able to further my obsession with food by growing things. Really easy things. Zuchinni, for instance. And rosemary. Rosemary looks easy. Mint. It’s nearly impossible to kill mint.

Sigh.

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Comment by Robin

Mint is the most awful thug. Plant it in a POT.

Comment by librarykat

HAH! In Hawaii we couldn’t get mint to grow, no matter how much we tried. So, when we moved to Indiana and bought a house with a large back yard and TWO raised beds, we went crazy with planting. Then Wes found some mint growing among the bearded irises and went “Ooh, mint DOES grow here!” And he transferred some of it to another plant bed. Oy oy oy! A couple of years later, we had mint growing like weeds EVERYWHERE! They managed to spread on their own throughout all the flower beds surrounding our patio. I spent the next couple of years trying to kill the mint! And we harvested a lot of it, made mint tea, used it in our Vietnamese dishes, you name it. And if Wes dared to complain about all the mint, I would growl at him, “It’s your fault! You decided to spread it all over the yard!”

Comment by Robin

LOL! Yes. I used to attack alchemilla mollis (sp? lady’s mantle) on sight in the old garden, and one of our neighbours was always taking big hearty pots of it to her mum in Yorkshire where it would promptly die.

 
 
 
Comment by Susan from Athens

It depends on your climate. Rosemary is very easy in Greece. We have a bush, a big bush, and I have an acquaintance who has a wonderfully aromatic rosemary hedge. Mint isn’t impossible to kill (I have killed mint in a pot) but like bamboo, if not severely restrained will spread and spread and spread. If it’s dry oregano and thyme are OK. I can profer no advice for wetter climates. Oh, I think runner beans are relatively easy.

Comment by Robin

Rosemary shouldn’t do here but it does. We have it at both little houses and had it at the big house. You just stick it in and it grows. As I say, it shouldn’t.

 
Comment by b_twin_1

If it’s dry oregano and thyme are OK.

Mint spreads beautifully here also. I’ve seen thyme spread all over the garden and also pennyroyal out in the paddock. Oregano seems to be well behaved. Rosemary does well as does lavender.

 
 
 
Comment by Heidi

I know what you mean about finding a good place to ride. It’s increasingly hard here in any metropolitan area in the US, where insurance and development are driving everything up. And hard to just RIDE ride, rather than promising the stable that you want to learn how to do shows and wear jodphurs and what not.

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Comment by Diane in MN

****Not only do I do too much, I like talking about it.****

Of course you do, that’s part of the fun of having enthusiasms.

****I don’t much like the word ‘hobby’****

No, but it has its uses. When I have to get up at gods-blasted four in the morning to go to a dog show, I can answer the question “Why do I do this to myself?” by repeating “This is a hobby, we do it for fun.” Any sarcasm is entirely intentional.

****As you will have gathered by now I am a dilettante obsessive, which is probably the worst kind.****

No, no, this is the best kind to be! Think how dull to be a monomaniac!

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Comment by Robin

we do it for fun

******* Yes. Exactly my point about handbells. :)

Think how dull to be a monomaniac

******* Maybe. But wouldn’t it be fun to know really EVERYTHING about SOMETHING? And scare small children and old ladies? :)

 
 
Comment by JM

I loved reading all of this.

And for some reason, it is reminding me that I can plant my Fall sweet peas — yessssss!!!!

Oh, the plans we have! I have a binder full of them. My excuse right now is “children.” I love them to pieces but they are not conducive to drawing or painting. Actually, I’d like to sketch them, but it’s rather like trying to sketch my cats. Cannot be done for more than 10 minutes …

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