April 25, 2011

I love this time of year, continued

 

First rose:

The Fru

 I do know–or anyway I once knew–that ‘Fru’ is ‘Mrs’ (ref a forum comment)–I’m afraid I just like the word.  Fru.   Dagmar, to my frivolous ear, sounds way too solemn.  Fru I’d have round for a cup of tea and a chat, and we’d probably like the same books.  Dagmar . . . Dagmar would always have clean fingernails, even when she’d been gardening, and she’d keep trying to get me to read books that would be good for me. 

She's already been out several days--the flower in front is already going over.

And . . .

She heard me talking about her and said, Pssst! Hurry up!

Second rose.  Old Blush is also out.  She is frelling covered in buds.  She’ll be amazing in a week or so. 

Don't listen when they tell you you can't grow a proper full sized rose in a pot. She's six years old and doing fine.

Okay, Agnes, you’d better get a move on.  Agnes is also covered in gigantic fat buds however, and will be amazing in due course.  Especially the three-storey stem growing straight up.  Sigh.  I suppose I should get a lasso around her and tie her down.  I think putting her in facing Souvenir [de la Malmaison] has been giving her ideas (ahem) above her station.  Souvenir is also covered in buds, but they aren’t getting ready to pop in the next three and a half minutes.  I can nonetheless tell you exactly when Souvenir’s buds will open:  the moment the current drought ends in a downpour that will last . . . as long as it takes to frell all Souvenir’s rain-allergic flowers. 

But speaking of amazing things in pots. 

Purple spider

No, that’s really her name:  Purple Spider.  She’s a macropetala clematis which means that over the years she will develop into an intense impenetrable tangle . . . but at least you don’t have to prune her.*   She’s also supposed to grow 6 to 8 feet, according to Taylors Clematis where I bought her.  http://www.taylorsclematis.co.uk/clematis-purple-spider.html   I bought her because I like her, and she’ll also take a fair amount of shade.  Usually when some variety of a plant that likes sun is described as willing to tolerate shade, it means she will probably find shade rather quelling.  My purple spider isn’t even in a very big pot . . . and this her third year she’s fifteen feet and going on twenty.**  She is going to be a serious impenetrable jungle. 

One view of Robin's little pot problem

Yes, ha ha ha ha ha ha, come back when you finish laughing.  I have a pot problem.  A flower pot problem.  Pretty much the whole garden looks like this (and you know what the front steps look like) but this particular corner is looking toward my sitting room window with the kitchen door on your left in the wall facing you, and the wall on your right is my neighbour’s kitchen.   You can see Purple Spider on the right and, oh, I almost forgot . . .  

I HAVE A TREE PEONY

I consider tree peonies to be terribly esoteric and exotic and scary, but they’re suddenly all over the plant-fashion landscape, like lurid clematis a few years ago.  I’m guessing that other gardeners find them esoteric and scary however because they suddenly went on major sale toward the end of last season, it was like:  Buy a tin of gardening twine worth £2.99 and get a FREE TREE PEONY WORTH £1,000,000!  So, hey, I bought some twine.   It never occurred to me she’d actually grow up and flower.  Gee.  Also, I forget what her name is (and of course the label has disappeared) but she is supposed to be deep magenta pink, which she isn’t, she’s sort of a fuchsia purple, but it’s still pretty spectacular.  I’ve just wasted about twenty minutes dorking around with my rudimentary and unsatisfactory photo-editing tools trying to get her colour anywhere near reality, and this isn’t it.  It’s just better than what my camera produced unaided.   Some things don’t change much:   most of the reds were a ratbag on film too.

               But speaking of red, aren’t these cute?

I've done far better for tulips this year than I deserve, considering how late most of them went in. Ahem. Cold winters are clearly good for something: keeping your tulips, still in brown paper bags in the greenhouse, in a good mood.

I have a thing for stripes, what can I tell you.

But speaking of red tulips, what about this one? 

Yowzah.

To Be Continued again. . . .

 * * *

* I try to stick with the Group 3 clematis, which you cut off a few inches above ground every winter.  You do have to do it, but at least it’s simple.  I have a few Group 1s, which you allow to become a jungle.  I avoid the Group 2s, which you have to prune and pay attention to what you’re doing, and even so you’ll do it wrong.  Group 2s are the devil’s clematis.  I have Nelly Moser anyway, who is a Group 2, because she was the first of the really in your face lurid ones before lurid clematis became a fashion accessory.   Nelly was vulgar.  http://www.about-garden.com/a/en/1491-clematis-nelly-moser-clematis/  I love her, of course.  I’ll try to remember to take photos of my Nelly this year.

** It’s a popular wall.  It’s the wall where Mme Alfred Carriere is launching herself into space about thirty feet up over my semi-detached neighbour’s rooftree, and Mme Gregoire Staechlin is not far behind.   Lady Hillingdon, only two years old, is gaining . . . and now we have Purple Spider who wasn’t supposed to be a contender.

Roses, Opera and Bells

 

My first roses are out—Fru Dagmar Hastrup*—and it’s still April.  I’ll try to get a photo tomorrow;  I noticed too late today, and she closes up at twilight, like a daisy or a tulip.  I’ve been watching Old Blush, whose buds are starting to crack, and Agnes, who used to be my earliest ‘proper’ rose** at the old house, and forgot that in my little town gardens Fru usually gets there first.  But April? 

            I could have been out in the garden yesterday afternoon instead of going to see that stupid flapdoodling opera.  Good grief.  I am not the world’s biggest Richard Strauss fan—I fail to adore Der Rosenkavalier which I realise is a hanging offense in some counties;  I put up with it (ahem) for some of that creamy, swoony music but the plot makes me tired and the whole third act is repulsive, despite the undoubted gloriousness of the final trio.  This is probably heresy also, but Strauss seems to me to write such great tunes:  you want to leave the theatre humming.***

            I knew what CAPRICCIO was about, of course:  it’s about a bunch of wealthy spoilt brats flouncing at each other.  It’s a lot more annoying when you have to look at them.  Also . . . there are times when you’re much better off not knowing too precisely what they’re saying:  it’s one thing to read the synopsis and then stick the CD in and go about your business† enjoying the tunes.  It’s another thing entirely to be trapped in a small theatre†† watching these people pouting and having tantrums.  There is a good deal of humour and satire in it—gods forbid some worshipping producer doing the whole thing straight—but I believe we are supposed to be taking the central question of Whether Words or Music Is More Important seriously.  The famous final twenty minutes of the Countess alone on stage failing to decide between her two suitors—the poet and the composer—is presumably the answer.†††  Bleaaaaaugh. 

            The airless fatuity of the whole shebang takes a painful turn for the intolerable when this ragbag of narcissists comes up with the charming notion of writing an opera about what is going on right here right now.  The opportunity for limitless and interminable nudge-nudge-wink-wink from this point onward is relentlessly seized.  And Renee Fleming as the Countess . . . Fleming does the self-adoration thing way too well anyway, and that last twenty minutes of her (s)wanking around the stage with a Single Perfect Red Rose was gruesome.  I was telling myself that probably the face-fondling in front of the invisible mirror—the mirror is hanging on the fourth wall—works better if you’re in the proper live audience than watching a wonders-of-modern-technology close-up in a cinema x thousand miles away.‡  But the Met Live is now an established means of transmitting opera to a wider audience—they’d better start thinking about how stuff looks in close up.

            At least CAPRICCIO is short.  But they ran it without an intermission—so I didn’t get any knitting done.‡‡ 

            I didn’t sleep yet frelling again last night‡‡‡ which means service ring this morning was less than brilliant.  There were seven of us and one of us was a beginner so we rang a lot of call changes leaving the number two bell out—which harmonically makes sense, but it means that bell three is bell two and what is usually bell four is three, and so on.  You would not believe how confusing this is§ (especially on no sleep).  And then, it being Easter, Niall and Penelope and I had a second service to ring at another church short of locals:§§  Sox Episcopi§§§, to be precise, where the bells are flower-pots and the wheels are about six inches across andeverythinghappensincrediblyfastDingdingdingdingdingdingding.  Colin’s true flower-pot# mini-ring you at least ring in an adapted manner in deference to the fact that there’s nothing really there to pull.  Sox Episcopi you’re still ringing with both hands as if they were proper bells while trying to get your hands to move fast enough and your arms not to pull too hard and yank the poor little thing right out of its tiny clangy tower.  I suppose this is kind of flattering, because everybody who isn’t used to them has trouble with these bells because they’re so small but Amy put me on the treble, which is to say the littlest bittiest of the little bitty bells and . . . the ropes are not much thicker than, um, yarn, and little-bitty gauge yarn at that, say twenty-two stitches for four inches, and my left hand—the one on the tail end:  the handstroke is at least round the sally, which is a big(ger) fluffy handle thing—kept cramping trying to keep hold, and the rope nonetheless started creeping through leaving me with less and less tail end and the perishing bell whips around so fast on its infinitesimal wheel that I was failing to have time to crawl back up the rope again.  GAAAAAAAH.  Penelope, who hadn’t rung there before, was on the five, lucky sod, and Amy’s beginner was on the six (tenor), which is nearly a real bell.   Niall was on the three and when I was whining afterward about my trials he said I’m glad she didn’t put me on the treble. . . .

            And I did spend this afternoon in the garden.

* * *

* http://www.davidaustinroses.com/english/showrose.asp?showr=374  Not a brilliant photo but Peter Beales’ is worse.  This is another one however like my lavender-white pansy that you can’t really catch the almost etherealness of the colour—it’s both a shiny and a misty silver-pink—in a photo.  Also she doesn’t have no scent, as declared here, although she doesn’t have much.  Her great virtues are first her beauty—I like singles anyway, and her silver-pink is fabulous—and second she is genuinely tough, healthy and generally bomb-proof.  A lot of roses with claims for robustness are merely less whimsical and diva-ish than their colleagues.  I don’t agree that roses are a sport for masochists, but they do have their little ways.  Not Fru.  Fru is always in a good mood.  And she flowers early, she flowers late, and she flowers pretty steadily in between too.

** Some of the so-called ‘species’ are earlier.  I’ll have to check on cantabrigiensis^ at Third House tomorrow.

^^  http://www.davidaustinroses.com/english/showrose.asp?showr=148   This is a terrible photo.  But Peter Beales’ is still worse. 

*** If you can.  They’re not exactly three-basic-chord thumpers.^

^ I have a similar reaction to Stephen Sondheim.  It took me a good half-dozen SWEENEYs before I was leaving the theatre humming relatively accurately.  Eventually it occurred to me to buy the recording.

† Possibly knitting.  Knitting while listening to music is excellent. 

†† Or even a large theatre

††† I think it varies, myself.  And in opera the music is clearly the more important.  The vast majority of libretti are pathetic, embarrassing, or both, and as a story-teller who loves the noise I’ve learnt to put my professional eye/ear firmly aside for the duration.  Peter can’t do this, which is a big reason why he doesn’t go to many operas, and I don’t try to make him.

‡ Just as the Biggest Snot I Have Ever Seen hanging out of a famous tenor’s nose earlier this season wouldn’t have been visible even from the front row of the live audience.  Well.  Maybe the front row.  It was amazingly enormous.

‡‡ I did however have fabulous feet. 

Excellent feet

‡‡‡ Due possibly to a surfeit of asininity.  I tell myself, hey, it’s not all bad:  at least I know I never want to see this opera again. 

§ Call changes are, erm, called.  There’s no set pattern:  the conductor says things like ‘three to four’ and ‘five to seven’, which means bell three should start following bell four and bell five should follow bell seven.  That means bell three has to know it is bell three and not be in an insomniac haze having reverted to believing it’s bell four, which it usually is.

§§ This happens every year at the high holy seasons, Christmas and Easter, because too many people, including ringers, are elsewhere on holiday and every church, understandably, wants its bells rung.  We could probably have rung at half a dozen churches today which were short of ringers, barring the pesky business that most services are held some time within the same two- or three-hour period.

§§§ And yes—as per some thread on the forum—I am going to give you the thus-far list of Hampshire (and a few Environs) According to McKinley the next time I want a fast entry to plug in.  I’m leaving the actual map up to you however.

# All right, they’re not really flower pots.  But as buckets go, they’re little buckets.

Steps on the way to bee-keeping II, guest post by ajlr

 

The theory of bee-keeping is fascinating but, of course, bees aren’t that interested in theory. If one wants to be a bee-keeper one has (from time to time) to get up-close-and-personal with a hive full of 20,000 to 60,000 suspicious bees who are not immediately convinced that one’s motives are benign…

Moving on from the theory we’d acquired, I and R, my husband, went along on a recent Saturday to have our practical day. This was held at the home of our bee-keeping tutor, where she has five hives and a starter colony set in her (and husband’s) three acres of land – a setup we were immediately envious of! Sitting around outside her summerhouse on a fine day, with the other five novice bee-keepers who had done the theory days besides ourselves, we looked over the array of equipment that was on view. Yes, there were the ‘Porter bee escapes’ we’d learned about, one-way inserts that slot into the crownboard when one wants to clear a ‘super’ (a box with frames where excess honey has been stored by the bees) of bees in order to remove it and extract the honey. The bees can come down through the bee escape into the layer beneath but not get back up again, so after a period of about 24 hours one can remove the entire super while being fairly confident that one isn’t picking up any bees with the honey frames. There also were the ‘hive tools’, of both shapes, essential for gently levering apart boxes and frames that over-conscientious (!) bees will have stuck together with propolis.

A key part of any bee-keeper’s equipment is the smoker. This is a can with a small bellows attached and a (usually) bent-nosed top. Before opening a hive one always puffs a little smoke around the entrance and also into the top layer, and then each successive layer in turn as one works down through them. The theory is that when the bees smell smoke their instinct is to fill their stomachs with honey in case the hive is in danger from a fire and they need, along with the queen, to leave it and get to a safe place. The honey in their stomachs would then be used as temporary supplies to keep them all going. However, in the context of opening a hive, a honey-filled bee is apparently less likely to attack the nearest human. As I say, that’s the theory behind using the smoker… To get a smoker going one puts some scrumpled newspaper or similar in the bottom of the can, sets light to it, and then quickly adds either a handful of cardboard shreds, or bits of dry and partly rotted wood, or dry hay, in on top. (All bee-keepers seem to have their own idea about what mixture of materials works best.) The lid is then closed and several puffs given on the attached bellows to get things to the right stage. The idea is to have a stream of cool (white) smoke* coming out of the nozzle. The art, not easy, is to judge things so that you have enough of the right sort of fuel in the smoker that it will stay smouldering, with a bit of judicious extra puffing on the bellows from time to time,  the entire time you’re working with the bees in a session. And we were warned never to fasten face-veils or head-gear on until after we’d closed up our smoker, just in case a sudden stumble or other accident of enthusiasm allowed actual flames to emerge from the open can and reach up towards one’s eagerly peering face. No-one wants to be enveloped in head-gear if it catches fire!

For working on a hive one needs to be kitted-out in protective garments – preferably an all-in-one bee-suit, with integral headgear and veil, or perhaps separate trousers and top (with the headgear). Most people will have seen pictures of these outfits, I’m sure, but you can see some examples here and here. They’re not cheap, those garments, but anyone interested in working with bees does (if they have any instinct for self-preservation**) need one. All the bee-keepers I’ve met so far recommend the complete bee-suits*** rather than separate trousers and a top, given bees’ propensity for finding their way into, and moving around in, small, dark, enclosed spaces… One also needs Wellington boots or similar on the feet and some sort of gloves on the hands. The type of rubber gloves one wears for washing-up are suitable – bees can still sting through them if provoked enough but they do give some protection and are easy to clean.

Wearing this collection of high fashion gear is not exactly cooling on warm days in spring and summer, particularly as one is recommended to wear trousers and a long-sleeved top under it all. As I hopped from one foot to the other and twisted myself into strange shapes, trying to insert myself into everything without leaving any bits of me outside, I was forcibly reminded of the need to remain supple as middle-age advances! With everything on we were then advised to pick a ‘bee-buddy’ and each check that the other was fully enclosed, with no little gaps around zips ends or at the wrists/ankles where a bee intent on mayhem might get in.

And then it was time for some action. When we were almost fully suited, and before fastening our head-gear, we had a practical lesson in how to light, and keep lit, the smoker. We then checked that all the tools (most bee-keepers seem to have a set of tools similar in weight and extent to that of an electrician or plumber) were in the holdall – no-one wants to find they’ve left something critical behind and so have to close up an opened hive and trek off to get something, come back and start all over with by-then disturbed bees – it was time to for us to walk the 100 yards to the hives. The adrenaline was starting to run…

*****************************
*  One definitely wants cool smoke – no-one wants crispy bees!

** Although in the BBKA’s leaflet on the equipment needed by beginner bee-keepers, I noticed the following comforting words:

“Too much protection can isolate you from the mood of your bees and you may continue doing things when the bees are telling you to stop and go away! It is very important to remember that you may be well protected, but your neighbours are not and are likely to be attacked by very angry bees. If your bees always require you to wear battledress, then get rid of them and replace them with a more docile strain.”
*** I have found the sizing on these garments to be less than helpful, however. They seem to come in small (36” chest), medium (40” chest), and large (44” chest). They don’t say anything about height, or what the, er…configuration of the chest area is, or what to go for if you’re short-ish (5’ 4”) and stout-ish like me. I don’t want to have excess trouser length dragging on the ground round my boots but neither do I want to wear – nor could I work in – something that restricts my breathing or bending. I suspect I may be trying a variety of these things on, with a view to getting something like the one I was lent for our hands-on day. Glamorous they are not.

I love this time of year

 

LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.  From the end of the snowdrops, the first roar of the daffodils and the beginning of the tulips, through the bluebells and lilacs and up through the early roses to the (in my gardens rather terrifying) explosion of midsummer, is my favourite time of year.    YESSSSSSSS.  The days are suddenly long and there’s COLOUR everywhere again, not just the gallant flag-waving of a few stubborn pansies and my glorious little bright-yellow witch hazel.

             I was trying to decide whether to give you more bluebells or what’s going on in my gardens.  And since you had bluebells the last time* I decided on garden flash. 

Speaking of pansies. The greeny-browny one is Irish Molly, and one of my all time favourites.

Knock your eyes out fringed yellow tulips.  It doesn’t get any better.  And note one of my unexpected plethora of fritillaries.  I thought this one was dead.  It didn’t come up last year!  It’s sheer laziness that I hadn’t grubbed out that planter and started over. ** 

I'm failing to get the subtle gorgeousness of this one in a photo. The lavender is so pale you're not sure it isn't white.

 Its name is MYFAWNNY.  I had to go look it up.  http://www.elizabethmacgregornursery.co.uk/index.php   She has fabulous plants, just by the way, any of you gardeners in the UK, with a specialty in violas, although I’ve bought a lot of other stuff from her over the years.  

Apricot Beauty. One of the fine old classics.

Don't know what these are. Well, yes I do. These are: Ohmigods I'VE JUST FOUND ANOTHER PAPER BAG WITH UNPLANTED TULIP BULBS IN IT. DO SOMETHING FAST.

Continuing on a theme of yellow. . . .

paeonia mlokosewitschii. Blerg. Yes, I had to look it up also.

This was put in by my predecessor.   It takes up WAY TOO MUCH SPACE in the cottage’s table-mat-sized garden for something that is in flower about three weeks out of fifty-two . . . but I wouldn’t be without it.  If she hadn’t put it in, I’d’ve had to.  It’s funny what you find you can’t live without.  

This is probably the best year it's had with me too. (Hmm. I wonder what I fed it last year.)

Yellow and orange . . .

Orange. The little tulips, which are going over, because I kept forgetting to take their picture, are a hot scarlet when open.

And, not orange at all, just AMAZING:

Its name is Quark. No, really.

I generally don’t do very well with iris.  They produce long green leaves and that’s about it.  But this one was so amazing in the catalogue I thought, oh well it’s only money. 

And my photos are better than the catalogue's.***

If you look closely, there’s a bleeding heart peering through the green leaves at the top centre.  I’ve got a white one too and they’re both going like runaway trains.  I love this time of year.

To Be Continued. 

* * *

* Not to worry.  There will be more.

** My gardening slapdashery is so often reinforced by this kind of thing there is no way I will ever reform. 

*** Broadleigh Gardens, but get their paper catalogue if you’re interested.  Their web site is a nightmare.

Unexpected Pleasures

 

As I poured lumpily (a sort of bad-gruel consistency) out of bed this morning I thought snarlily that I’m forgetting what it feels like not to be tired all the time.  Grrrrr.   Even a new knitting book through the mail slot barely shook my glutinous mood.  Second hot day* today so at least the hellhounds were nearly as floppy as I was, and we took turns grumbling on the ends of our leads and trying to lean on the other two.  It was not going to be a great day.  I already knew that.  So while it was disappointing that I’m still totally frelling failing to get through the sodding second lead to Cambridge minor—practising at lunch on Pooka for handbells this afternoon—it wasn’t exactly surprising.

            I’m also sulking under a cloud because Peter’s Falling Down Clinic got cancelled—or rather it never was a Falling Down Clinic and therefore Peter got cancelled.  But I decided I was going to make a fast bolt into Mauncester anyway—I need more yarn for my hellhound blanket.**  And you don’t seriously expect me to go to a yarn shop without cruising, do you?  No, I didn’t buy any more yarn*** but I did buy another book.†  And . . . mmmm.††

            I then realised that my handbell deadline was dangerously near and I was not going to have time for another quick assault on that second godsblasted lead of Cambridge, frell frell frell frell, so I leaped into the Batmobile††† and rocketlaunched for home.  And, of course, narrowly missed running down Niall who was strolling up my cul de sac when I arrived.  Colin also arrived with distressing promptness so we had to . . . ring something.‡

            What do you want to ring? said Niall.  —This is always a loaded question.

            Well, we could have a nice little burst of bob minor just to warm up, I said hopefully.  Or, I suppose . . . that first lead of Cambridge.

            Cambridge, Niall said instantly.

            Sigh.

            I’m still totally failing to get through the second lead, I said.  I’ll ring it off the page, if you like, I added (glumly).  And fetched my Ringing Circles‡‡ and (siiiiighing) turned it to the appropriate page. 

            So we drilled through the first and second leads a few times . . . and since it was frelling Niall and frelling Colin, we rang through the entire plain course a few times, just because they can, although my brain shut down‡‡‡ beyond the second lead.  After a few more goes of just the first two leads, Colin said, in his ghastly jovial way, take the book away from her!

            And, you know . . . I was ringing the second lead.  I wasn’t ringing it very well—I was ringing it a good deal worse than I was ringing the first lead last week—but there were certain signs of cognitive connection, even if I did need kind of a lot of prompting.  Yes.  I was ringing it.  In spite of the horrible places.§

            Third lead next week, Niall said brightly:  And then you just turn around and do the whole thing backwards. 

             AAAAAAUGH. 

* * *

* Way too much pasty bare flesh on display.  Ewwwwww.  Takes me a few weeks every year to readjust, let alone contribute.  No, no!  I want my long sleeves!  And shorts are mostly more trouble than they’re worth because wearing ’em requires changing every time I want to take hellhounds for a proper hurtle.  We can tittup daintly around town in shorts, but as soon as the least hint of countryside appears—and this includes some of the wilder and woollier gardens, where the brambles reach over fences, driveways and parked cars and the nettles burst out of the cracks in the pavement under your feet—I need my denim.  I’ve been stung through ‘light summer trousers’ and the whole cropped/pedal-pusher thing is for Casual Friday at the corporate highrise.   I look at these jokers in their cool edgy street cred threads and . . . snicker.  I suppose it all depends on your definition of the real world.  I also garden in long denim jeans, but that is not merely because my excellent, healthy, well fed soil produces a fine crop of nettles every season, but also the fact that I never know what I’m going to be allergic to this year/week/afternoon and the huge itchy red weals get boring.  

** And a few other tedious incidentals.  Velcro, for example.  Do you remember my telling you last year about buying a Window Invader-Repellent Protection Kit which is basically a roll of fine netting and some stick-on Velcro, and you cut to size?  Except for the fact that they don’t supply anything like enough Velcro, which means that your netting tends to blow off, with a lot of eager bees^, wasps, mosquitoes and further assorted undesirable flying evil-doers in a sharp regimental pattern close behind.  ARRRGH. 

^ Peter finally rehung his door-netting yesterday.  I don’t know what it is, but the moment he comes indoors after lunch—if there is sunlight, he’s out in it—and goes upstairs for his snooze, the buzzing hordes start divebombing me, wimpishly at the kitchen table.  I rescue bees, of course, but I’d rather not have to.  And there’s the whole monotonous business of waiting for her to stop on a clear bit of window so I can get my wineglass over her, and then imploring her to climb up the side dranglefab you you wretched insect so I can get the piece of cardboard over the mouth of the glass without pinching any of her legs, and then taking her out the front door which is kept shut, figuring out which way the wind is blowing and tossing her downwind.  She is usually not happy during this business, even I do manage not to pinch her legs, and there is usually language inside the glass as well as out.  Yesterday another of the fat-thumb-sized bumblebees came in and I addressed her as one addresses an old friend:  (*&^%$£”!!!! what are you doing here again???  She flew quietly around the room once or twice—I’ve told you the way you actually feel the draught of a bumblebee’s wings if she flies near you—and then landed on the window, crept to the centre of a pane and stopped.  I slapped the wineglass over her and . . . she immediately crawled up the side and settled against the hollow of the bottom.  I whipped the cardboard under/over the glass and took her outside;  she was brrrring gently, but there were no tantrums.  I took the cardboard off and she . . . flew away. 

             I think she was an old friend.  I think she knows the drill. 

*** I know.  I’m letting the side down.  But let me finish something and thus prove that I can and then . . . stand back. 

† Two in a day.  That’s baaaaad.  I have, in fact, and believe it or not, developed some resistance to the General Diabolical Appealingness of All Knitting Books, chiefly by way of only wanting, supposing I could or had the time, to knit one or two of the projects on offer, even if I find three-quarters or so of them interesting as concepts.  But this book, not only is it cushions, so, you know, square, none of this fitting nonsense, but I want to knit nearly everything in it.  

†† Yes, yes, okay, the book comes under the ooh!  Shiny! reflex.  But you know there’s a curious satisfaction to having to buy more yarn for a specific project.^  It may only be a (raggedy, ice-cream-cone-squared) hellhound blanket . . . but you’re knitting it.  You’re FRELLING KNITTING IT.  It counts. 

^ Given, that is, that it’s cheezy acrylic and you don’t have to worry about dye lots. 

††† Did Robin ever get to drive the Batmobile—on his lonesome?  I sure don’t remember it. 

‡ I could have tried distracting them with knitting books.  But I don’t think it would have worked. 

‡‡ http://www.cccbr.org.uk/pubs/images/ringingCircles.jpg  Probably the best-known of the how-to-ring books.  My copy is so drawn-in, marginal-noted and falling to pieces I’ve been thinking about (gasp) buying a new copy.  You’ll notice from the plain bob minor (Yes!  That’s the notorious bob minor!) on the page behind that the lines for both the treble and the two are marked, so if you’re ringing the 1-2 in hand you’re all set. 

‡‡‡ With a sound like a handful of mud hitting the floor, splat.  

§ I’ll post a picture of the diagram one of these days.^ 

^ Oh, and of the knitting books. . . .

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