A fortnight or so ago a New Friend sidled up to me at St Margaret’s and said that she’d bought a ticket for a charity concert—so she wouldn’t chicken out of going at the last minute, I know that one, on the day you’re too comfortable on the sofa with hellhounds or similar—but she wondered if she could bamboozle me into buying a ticket and coming too? It was a worthy cause and we could hang out. We’ve made half-hearted attempts to hang out previously but they’ve never come off because we never nail one down by saying THIS place and THIS time and putting it in the diary, you know? Modern life. Who has time for spontaneity?*
So despite a qualm or two about the concert itself I said yes. You can put up with a lot in congenial company. And she and I were finally getting somewhere, you know?
And then last week at St Margaret’s when I told her I’d got one of the few remaining tickets** she looked all doleful and woebegone and said she hadn’t rung me because it hadn’t been confirmed yet but for Inarguable Personal Reasons it looked like she wasn’t going to be able to go after all. . . .
Oh. Feh. So I’m now stuck with a ticket to a concert I was only looking forward to because I was going to see her.
But I had the frelling reservation and, at this point, a close personal relationship with the venue’s box office, who had hired a uniformed guard with two Alsatians and a Darth Vader clone to protect my investment till I arrived IN PERSON and offered my palm print as proof I was the correct individual to cede the ticket to, so I’d better go. I went.
Fortunately I took my knitting.
IT WAS UNBELIEVABLY DIRE. UNBELIEVABLY. DIRE. The concert. It was. AAAAAAAAUGH. Words fail. Words need to fail or I will be banned from WordPress for the rest of my life.*** The one minor stroke of good fortune was that I’d arrived early enough it was worth getting my knitting out immediately so it was already on my lap when these jokers got up on stage and started prancing about doing whatever the frell they thought they were doing ARRRRRRRRRRRGH. After the first . . . incident . . . I firmly picked my knitting up again and got QUITE A FEW ROWS done by the time it was over. I swear I would have run away screaming† if I hadn’t had my knitting. . . .
Which leads me to the next thing. I’ve been torturing myself, and some harmless hanks of yarn, trying to make another gift. Me and my frelling Secret Projects. GIVE IT UP, MCKINLEY. I’ve already frogged this one once. This second time it looks a lot better than it did the first time but it’s still what you might call . . . clearly hand made. Does anyone out there have any useful guidelines for when you cut your losses and frog again and when you soldier on on the grounds that your friend will appreciate the effort you’ve gone to even if SHE BURIES THE FINAL OBJECT IN THE BACK GARDEN IN CASE IT’S CONTAGIOUS?
Siiiiiiiigh. . . .
I also got distracted on Etsy the Evil†† from my (relatively) honest quest for a needle roll††† into yarn bowls. And I made the perilous decision to ask Twitter if any of the twitterverse’s knitters use yarn bowls. Am I just being flimflammed by a pretty face? Hand-thrown pottery bowls are very pretty. Or do they help with what I have dubbed the invisible-kitten problem with your wodge of working yarn? In the rush of helpful answers—including plastic bags, yarn cozies [sic], and teapots—I suddenly had a FABULOUS IDEA.
Was this totally sitting on a shelf waiting to be a yarn bowl through the long years of no longer being required for blanc-mange or what? Stay tuned.
* * *
* Hey, I finished the day’s stint early/it’s raining and I don’t feel like gardening/if I hear my neighbour’s extra-loud telephone bell go one more time^ I shall run mad with an axe, want to grab a cup of tea somewhere? No, sorry, I can’t, I’m working a double shift today/it’s raining so I’m sorting out the garage^^/I have to sort out the garage because I need to hide a body fast.^^^
^ They need fewer friends
^^ No friend of mine would ever use that excuse
^^^ Ah. Okay. Need help?+
+ I found a drowned mouse in a bucket today. Ewwwwwwww. I have no truck with the ‘mice are cute’ brigade and am perfectly happy to trap the suckers, using the fastest, lethalest traps available, but drowning in a bucket is a slow, crummy way to die and made me sad.
** And my email, possessed by demons as it is, failed to accept the confirmatory email from the venue so I’m all AM I GOING OR NOT. WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO HERE, CONSULT AN ASTROLOGER?
*** Banned—? From WordPress? Um . . . actually . . .
† Most of the people who preach at St Margaret’s I like and find not merely worth listening to but interesting. But there is one . . . I have been trying to decide if it is worth establishing a habit of knitting during the sermons so that the next time this joker stands up I won’t have to gnaw my knuckles till they bleed so as not to run away screaming.^
^ I realise that a Supreme Being needs a sense of humour, but I feel perhaps we might review some of said humour’s minor manifestations? People who have been at this Christian thing a long time keep telling me that God likes engaging with his mortal children on their level. Okay. So let’s discuss the practical jokes.
†† You know I have been complaining about the mess and confusion of Etsy’s so-called search function and have finally realised . . . it’s all a careful plan to entice you in deeper and deeper.
††† The design I like best is only in a bunch of dumb fabrics. ARRRRRGH. Also I object to spending more than £11,872.33 (most of this is the overseas shipping cost from America) for a needle roll. So this is still an open question.
Southdowner was here yesterday. I got an email from her Saturday afternoon saying, YEEEEE-HA. BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY. I could come down tomorrow? —I looked nervously at Pav. You’re not perfect! I said. And it’s all my fault because I’m a BAD OWNER! She wagged her tail. All stimuli lead to tail-wagging in a hellterror.* Also, I added, you’re still TOO THIN according to breed fashion!** She wagged her tail harder. You could see the thought balloon though: FEEEEEEED MEEEEEEEEEE.
Still. It would be nice to see Southdowner. Especially because—hee hee hee hee hee—have I told you she’s ended up with TWO of Pav’s siblings? Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee. Nothing on earth, of course, was going to persuade her to have even ONE because she already has ninety-seven dogs and a small house. But first there was Fruitcake, who has turned out to be rather a stunner***, and Olivia was dithering about him, she’d actually turned down two buyers because she is derang—I mean, because she felt they were going to treat him as an artefact or a Breed Standard Winning Machine instead of a dog. So she still had him, but she didn’t really want to keep an entire dog with an entire bitch . . . at which point Southdowner said she’d have him. I wasn’t there, so I can’t categorically state there was a gleam in her eye, but I bet there was. Southdowner herself has said that the family she’s bred for three generations, and of which Lavvy, Olivia’s bitch, is one, has mostly produced gorgeous girls and reasonably nice boys. There’s been at least one world-beater boy, but most of the world-beaters have been girls. I suspect Southdowner has had her eye on Fruitcake for a long time and Olivia has been pretending she didn’t know it.
So far so . . . almost reasonable. Hey, Southdowner is a bullie breeder, of course she’s going to be interested in a gorgeous scion of her own family. But then Scone, who was recognised as The Handful and Too Clever By Half when the final cut was made and Pav came to me, and who had gone to experienced bullie owners, nonetheless proved to be too much for them. Whereupon poor Olivia teetered on the brink of meltdown because one of HER PRECIOUS PUPPIES was not having the happy life she deserved—but Olivia herself has a full time job and is not a dog behaviourist and . . .
. . . Southdowner said she’d have her.
And Scone is darling. Of course. I’ve seen her twice since Southdowner took her and I can’t see anything wrong with her. She’s just your average mad frantic bullie. But from where I’m standing I’m delighted Southdowner has half of Pav’s litter—and there are plans afoot† for all of us to meet up with Croissant in London. . . .
* * *
* Some stimuli, especially those including fooooooood, lead to other predictable behaviours, screaming, hanging from the rafters, etc, but the beginning of all hellterror activity is tail wagging.
** And slightly under what even I prefer thanks to what I assume was an unobserved snack of something noxious on our FOUR WAY HURTLE at Warm Upford on Saturday afternoon. Well, I needed petrol^ and it was a BEAUTIFUL DAY and . . . who was I going to leave behind? So we all went. And we all lived and I don’t even have rope/lead burns. But it would have been more fun if I hadn’t spent all of it scanning the horizon for other people’s loose dogs. Anyway. Pav was on short rations for about a day and a half after something disagreed with her^^ and was therefore a trifle tucked up even by my standards.^^^ All that tail-wagging takes a lot of energy.
^ Even the pet shop owner thinks I need a new car. Isn’t that moss growing on the roof? she said. WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH IT? WOLFGANG FRELLING LIVES OUT. HE FRELLING LIVES OUT, UNDER A TREE. OF COURSE HE’S GOT MOSS GROWING ON HIS ROOF, BECAUSE I DON’T WASH IT OFF.+ What is the matter with people? He RUNS. The bottom line is that he RUNS. We’ve had two bad, expensive moments with Wolfgang, one several years ago when we put eight hundred frelling quid into the steering at which point the end had better not have been nigh and, fortunately, wasn’t, and then a year or so ago when they finally figured out what was causing the extremely unnerving and demoralising not-starting thing, which was after all the drama relatively cheap to put right. The expensive part was the effect on my peace of mind and stomach lining. Not that I would know peace of mind if it bit me ++ but there are better seasons and worse seasons for not sleeping or for waking up and going AAAAAAUGH.
+ And at this point can’t. Who knew that moss could get its roots through hard-finish automobile paint? Feh. Bad design somewhere.
++ This is another reason my road to Damascus moment last 12 September was so indisputable. I don’t do the peace that passeth all understanding, even in fiction. If someone was standing there shining with it . . . it wasn’t anything I was making up.
^^ MINOR SQUICK WARNING. Well, I think minor. But then I’m a critter owner and we have to be tough. So READ ON AT YOUR OWN RISK. I keep telling you that Pav isn’t a bull terrier really, she just looks like one. One of the tricks both Olivia and Southdowner warned me about is the extra-dimensional pouches bullies have in their cheeks, to hide things you’re trying to take away from them. Even if you have a bullie that lets you open its mouth it’s not guaranteed you’re going to find what you’re looking for. Now, very often what you’re looking for is not something you want to fish around for with your bare hands.+ I discovered, quite by accident, and as part of the whole astonishing another-poor-sad-deluded-creature-accepts-me-as-hellgoddess business++, that if I hold Pav’s head nose down while keeping her jaws well open and give it a shake, the offending object/substance may fly out. In fact surprisingly often does. Even when it’s . . . you know, squishy. Sometimes it helps to clamp the entire hellterror vertically upside down between my legs and then shaking the open-jawed head. . . . Yes, she puts up with this. I’m convinced however that this has very little to do with my status as Alpha+++ and everything to do with the well-developed and one might even say notorious bullie sense of humour.
+ Some of you will remember South Desuetude Cemetery Adventure. Ewwwwwwwww.
++ BUT THIS ONE EATS.#
# I mean wow, does she ever eat. Still.
+++ We all know that the whole Alpha business is pretty much bogus, right? It has limited usefulness—yes you are the boss, or you’d better be—but Alpha? Nah.
^^^ I think it is my destiny to be awarded digestively-challenged critters. I can’t starve the hellhounds when they have the rivers because empty stomachs make them worse. I can’t starve the hellterror when she has the purees because she eats her bedding.
*** Not of course as stunning as Pavlova.
† Or apaw, if you prefer.
Last night at St Margaret’s the vicar, fresh from a ‘retreat’ with his Leadership Group, attempted to light a fire under the rest of us—possibly slouched down in our seats praying for the strength to keep our eyes open*—about what one thing we were going to start doing this week to deepen our relationship with God, make the world a better place, or generally become a bigger, gobblier holier-than-thou turkey. And in our groups people were talking soberly about being more organised** about time for prayer and volunteer work and this or that course they have been meaning to go on*** and when it was my turn I said, Go to bed earlier. So I don’t hit the floor already in a panic of lateness the next morning. It’s a whole lot harder to do the contemplative prayer routine when the monkey mind is gibbering like a whole treeful of monkeys.
I got to bed early enough last night to be talking in nearly complete sentences by the time Atlas showed up to finish nailing the shelf up in my greenhouse this morning. And I totally have to go to bed early tonight because Fiona and I are going to have a YARN ADVENTURE tomorrow.†
* * *
* Fortunately I’d caught a ride with Minnie. Even Wolfgang might have found it a bit challenging keeping me on the road by yesterday evening: I’d had a rotten night for sleep even for me, worrying. It wasn’t all bad: I finished another book for the Book Recs list.^
^ I kind of wasted that last hundred pages of LOCKWOOD by reading it in the bath, with all the lights and the radio on, hellhounds snorting in their sleep round the corner in my office and the hellterror moaning about injustice downstairs+. It would have been much more effective if I’d been reading it Saturday night tucked up in bed with everything turned off but the bedside light and the demented robin singing to the streetlight outdoors.
+ As soon as ‘go lie down’ conveys meaning, the hellterror will be allowed upstairs. It will be a while. It will be a much longer while before she’s allowed upstairs while I’m in the bath and at a disadvantage. It is interesting, however, watching the Development of Relationship. Puppies are adorable, as we all know, so we don’t kill them, and you have to hope that you develop a relationship before they stop being murder-resistingly adorable. Ahem. I’m also not so hot on the formal training thing—I can get away with this (mostly) because I’m home all the time and can encourage or mercilessly crush certain behaviours. An awful lot of relationship is just being there. And sometimes you get a break you not only didn’t earn, you had no idea what you were going to do if the problem didn’t just magically disappear. I had no idea how I was going to oblige hellhounds—hellpuppies at the time—to LIE DOWN in their box in the car. When we’d had the three whippets# both of us were still driving, and Peter drove and I Suppressed, till they got the idea. Hellhounds just . . . lay down. It was never an issue. I have no idea. Thank You God.
Hellterror is either going to learn not to gnaw the short strap that attaches her to the seatbelt or I will buy a few short lengths of chain. I’m not, perhaps foolishly, anticipating a huge problem about this. She’s not actually a big chewer, although she likes her thighbone of mammoth.##
But she is still the possessor of hellterror jaws. And when you need to get something away from a puppy you generally need to do it fast, and unless you are carrying desiccated liver in your mouth, which I am NOT,### you don’t have time for fancy swapping routines, or let’s be blunt, I don’t have the coordination.% So I was getting bitten and IT HURT. Not to mention being bad for hellgoddess/hellterror relations. Speaking of relationship.
Well, I did get a bit cleverer about tactics for getting stuff away from her, and, when there’s time, she is ALWAYS open to a bribe—and once she’s learnt that bribery is a possibility, she will often meet you halfway. But I realised recently that she seems to have decided that I’m allowed to take stuff away from her. There is sometimes a trifle of resistance. And she can stab you with a look out of those little beady eyes that would bore through cement. But if I am wearisomely DETERMINED to get something away from her . . . she lets me.
THANK YOU GOD.%%
# Which were, all three together, small enough to fit in the box. That was sixty-maybe-slightly-plus pounds of dog. Two hellhounds are eighty-definitely-plus pounds of dog. Even if the hellterror were a model of decorum~ there isn’t room for her in the box.
~ And not in season
## All those fancy expensive guaranteed-your-dog-will-LOVE-them Kong toys? She spurns them.
### All other things being equal, which they are not, I need my mouth immediately available for yelling, which I suppose is not a show-dog-handler’s first priority.
% I’m frantically fishing in the wrong pocket anyway
%% It’s probably connected that she’s a surprisingly tactful accepter of treats from your bare hand. You can give her a tiny fragment of kibble and she nails the kibble but not your fingers. I hadn’t thought about this till I was giving her infinitesimal scraps of chicken the other night, having misjudged the amount of chicken available—all three hellcritters get a bit of neat chicken as dessert—and despite the significantly higher frenzy level for chicken as opposed to mere kibble—she was snatching the chicken without nicking my fingers.
I wonder if all that screaming when she play-bit me when she was tiny has an effect here? It was a different situation with the hellhounds—they mostly taught each other how hard (not) to bite, and sighthounds are bred to bring things down, not to mangle them, as a fighting dog is (presumably) encouraged to do. I also don’t have a problem with a dog mouthing me so long as there’s no pressure behind it, so all my hellcritters are somewhat accustomed to having bits of me casually in their mouths.
** ::weeps:: I was so standing behind the door when they passed out organizational skills.
*** Minnie’s taking one on teaching Sunday School to the tinies
† God created everything. Therefore he created yarn.
It’s been another beautiful spring day . . . we’ve had an actual SPRING WEEKEND, what’s gone wrong?* The gods of anarchy must be off playing golf on Betelgeuse or something. I hurtled hellhounds over to Old Eden and there were lots of dazed, blinking people on the footpaths wondering what had hit them and like feeling the air for, I don’t know, incipient sleet or something. Nobody except official card-carrying Ramblers** actually carry maps any more—the dazed and blinking are all carrying their smartphones. Some things don’t change however: I was asked for directions three times*** by people staring bewilderedly at their smartphones, and my directions in each case began with some version of ‘first you turn around’.
* * *
My greenhouse is also full of small green things yearning to be outside in the ground. I keep telling them to wait a bit yet or they’ll get a nasty chill and then it would be tears before bedtime!
Also? Also? My greenhouse is full of buckets of sand and teetering pre-avalanches of all the stuff that used to be on shelves on the other wall which are not only a cataclysm waiting to happen in their own right but I can’t find anything that I know used to be there and I can’t REACH anything on the shelves behind which (theoretically) should be still more or less as they were before the Wall Trauma began. Not to mention the risk to life and unbroken limbs that negotiating passing through the greenhouse is at present. And furthermore I haven’t heard from Atlas. If he doesn’t come tomorrow and put my shelves back up I may move to an eighth-floor flat.^
But because I am smarting from the jolly description of your splendid greenhouse with its rows and rows of nurtured and pampered seedlings I will just mention in passing that I’ve been tying up the Three Evil Sisters and a short person could probably now walk down that path unmolested.^^ I do not lose gracefully. It behoves everyone to remember this.
^ And teach the hellcritters to use litter boxes.
Argh, you are making me want to garden. Stop making me want to garden! My poor apartment has nowhere for plants to go!
Windowsills. Window boxes. You’re getting no sympathy from me. There’s a gizmo out there I almost bought a couple of years ago that was called something like Indoor Garden and it was a big tray thing with a grow-light built in over it so the whole deal was free-standing and you could put it anywhere you could plug it in. They were advertising it for short veg—lettuce and herbs, say—you could probably grow some prone tomatoes. Or you could just buy a grow-light and hang it over your kitchen/dining table.+ This option is no longer available to me because I have a hellterror (and only one table).++
Right outside my door gets pretty much no sunlight,
Begonias. Fuchsias. Camellias. Foxgloves. Ferns. Hostas. Heucheras. I could go on a long time, you know.
and all the usable garden space has been claimed by tenants who have been there longer than I. All I have managed is to wodge in a few pots for tomatoes in the front lawn, and I know one of my neighbors at least is quite resentful of them.
Offer him/her a tomato?
+ There may be fancy (read: expensive) grow-lights out there but the ones in my price range have to hang close to what they’re shining on. Hence a table. This also prevents you from walking on your seedlings and constantly clanging into the wretched grow-light. The winter I had mine in the sitting-room at the cottage I had bruises. Okay, more bruises than usual.
++ Although I have moved the hellterror crate off the table# onto the floor . . . neither she nor I is totally happy with the new arrangement. Her view isn’t nearly as good down there, and it’s a small dark kitchen anyway—and she is still Mayhem on four little furry feet so she has to spend any time I can’t keep an eye on her in her crate. When the Winter Table comes down## I’m going to try shoving the hellhounds’ crate around a little and see if there is any alternative. I have already blocked off two cupboards in my small kitchen by the fact of having the first frelling critter crate. Siiiiiiigh.
Also . . . when I had her on the table, she used to BURST out the door and fly into my arms, oof. And . . . she misses being carried. Especially in the mornings when we haven’t SEEN EACH OTHER FOR AT LEAST SIX HOURS. She’d launch herself out of the floor-level crate and immediately start scrabbling up my leg and crying. So now I get down on the floor when I open the crate in the morning, she bounds gladly into my arms . . . AND THEN I HAVE TO STAND UP CARRYING A FRELLING HEAVY HELLTERROR. She’s very happy. She hooks her front paws over my forearms, licks my face, and beats my ribs with her tail. It’s interesting about tails. The hellhounds’ tails are long and whippy and they sting if they whack you. The hellterror’s tail is short and muscular and it’s like being thumped with a truncheon.
But you only have critters at all if you’re demented, so superfluous carriage of wriggly twenty-eight pound parcels is all in the day’s adventures.###
# I didn’t do it sooner because I WAS WAITING FOR SPRING. She’s only a puppy, she’s not large, there’s only one of her and there are DRAFTS down there.
## Which is apparently not going to be any time soon. I had everything and its best friend indoors again last night . . . and I believe we are going to repeat this delightful cotillion tonight. ARRRRRRGH. When my [tender] dahlia cuttings arrive I am so dead. ~
~ I always order way too many dahlia cuttings. Even years I’m being pretty good about plant orders . . . I order too many dahlia cuttings.
### Feh etc.
^^ Alicia is not short. But she’s shorter than I am.
Yes, I am, because they lobby for stuff like keeping footpaths open, but I’ve never been on a group walk. I’m thinking about it now however because I think the hellterror would enjoy it, as the hellhounds would not.
*** Person walking dogs is usually a good bet for local pedestrian directions, by the time I open my mouth and my American accent falls out it’s too late, and before they start edging away I’m usually already giving them quite decent (local pedestrian) directions. It’s when they say things like ‘London’ or ‘the Taj Mahal’ that I have to stop and think about it first.
I’m still pretty haunted by yesterday’s news* but it’s been another mild spring day, remember those?, we used to have ’em, and I’ve been out in the garden for the second day in a row.** It completely baffles me why some things live and some die. Take pansies. I adore pansies and I can usually rely on getting one good season out of them . . . but my record on keeping them going is PATHETIC and only slowly improving. I’ve finally got a mat of those ‘wild’ pansies with big heart-shaped leaves and little toothy faces growing in a big pot in a corner whose main element has died, and I’m afraid to disturb the frelling pansies by putting something else in. It took me about three tries to get these things going—and they’re supposed to be tough as old boots and will grow and thrive anywhere. No. Wrong. This lot is dark pink which is, of course, excellent, but I’d have their pale-pink sisters too . . . but I think I’ve given up. Rebecca*** is a big favourite. I have four of her in a big pot. One of them is insanely hearty. One of them is not too bad. One of them is a weedy little thing. One of them is dead. WHY? IT’S THE SAME POT.
On the other hand my eremurus robustus† is still alive. WHY? They’re frelling tricky plants†† and I was out of my tiny mind to buy it in the first place—they’re also not cheap. I did try to plant it correctly but, eh, I can’t even get four of the same pansies in a pot to flourish simultaneously, why should a notorious ratbag do anything but croak at the earliest opportunity? It didn’t flower last year but it grew. And then it disappeared over the winter and I thought yup, right—and was thinking about putting a rose in that big pot††† when today . . . IT’S ALIVE. And I was absolutely thrilled to discover that my clematis Arctic Queen‡ IS STILL ALIVE. She has kept getting buried by the frelling gigantic Fantin Latour‡‡ which I moved up to Third House this winter, but Fantin wasn’t delighted with the experience and the ground she came out of got pretty torn up. I wasn’t expecting Arctic Queen to have survived. BUT SHE DID. So I fed her and put a copper ring around her to discourage slugs, which adore young clematis stems above almost anything but your lettuces and strawberries, and did a small not-ground-disturbing dance of joy on what passes for the path between the beds.
There are a few advantages to ghastly cold springs. The slug population is not what it should be in mid-April. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY. But my real triumph, not that it has anything to do with me, it’s just the luck of circumstance: I haven’t seen a single horrid red disgusting lily beetle AND MY GARDEN IS FULL OF FRITILLARIES.‡‡‡ Pretty much for the first time ever, in the eight years I’ve been at the cottage. First I had to get them established—which in this case was not that difficult—and then the lily beetle scourge settled in. But apparently lily beetles don’t like the cold. Now that’s worth disturbing a little ground to dance for.
* * *
You know one of those three people who died was an eight-year-old boy who was there to watch his dad run? And that his mother and his six-year-old sister are ‘seriously’ injured, which probably means they had bits blown off. Imagine what it’s going to be like for that family now.
I was sitting sadly on my stool by the Aga this morning, which is where I usually do my first praying (as well as tea-drinking) of the day, and thinking about Boston, and feeling useless. Ask me in six months or ten years, but it seems to me that prayer comforts the pray-er partly because if you manage to make contact with the prayer-space (and it’s not a given that you’re going to, every time: sometimes all you can do is go through the motions—and I’ve been told this by people who’ve been doing it a long time, so it’s not just my inexperience) you know it’s all one, that the great mystical Oneness is true. Because you’re there. It’s like walking into a tree. Wham. Yup. Tree. Bark. Leaves. Feet in the dirt, head in the sky. You’re not going to argue about it. And your praying itself—my praying anyway—becomes less a doing something^ than a being there, another witnessing, I suppose, as you might sit by the bedside of someone who’s ill or hurt or dying, or walk the dog and pick up the post and bring cups of tea and not say useless things to someone who’s grieving. Which is a doing without doing, if you like. What you want is to be able to fix it, whatever it is. You can’t. But you can be there.
Still. Being there for hundreds of people you don’t know who are three thousand miles away feels like a fairly tall order. And then I remembered that St Margaret’s has a prayer chain. You can ask for stuff to be prayed for. So I rang Lotte and she wrote it down and then said, in the same gentle voice she’d used when she’d pointed out I’d be eligible to become a member of St Margaret’s if I wanted to, Would I like to become a member of the prayer chain myself?
Oh. Yeep. Yes. Yeep, but yes.
Well, that’s going to make me frelling focus. . . .
^ Although that’s another big plus for the pray-er. When you want to do something and there isn’t anything you can do, for whatever reason . . . yes there is. You can pray. And while I realise this in itself isn’t going to convert anybody this is a very great thing—as every member of every religion that includes prayer knows. Helplessness, uselessness is totally the worst.
** AND THERE IS PROGRESS ON THE WALL. I forgot to bring my frelling camera with me today when I went back to the cottage from the mews after lunch. Arrrrrrgh. But there WILL BE PHOTOS.
*** Who looks like this: http://www.perryhillnurseries.co.uk/Catalogue/Perennials/images/Resized_ViolaRebecca.jpg
They’re big magnificent-looking things. But these look white which they aren’t. Here’s a close up that gives you a better idea of the colour:
†† If you read the gardenersworld.com description you’ll notice it says ‘skill level—experienced’. Chiefly I’m experienced in being ripped to shreds by roses^, and watching things die.
^ I was thinking again today, while bleeding freely, why do we DO it? Why do we grow frelling roses? Why is it WORTH THE PAIN? Dunno. But I wouldn’t be without them. I just scream a lot.
††† I seem to have more roses to find places for.
‘Skill level experienced’? Piffle. Most clematis are easy. They like their feet in the shade and their heads in the sun, and you must not muck about with their roots, but beyond that if you keep them fed and watered they’ll do fine. We won’t, however, get into the, you should forgive the term, thorny question of pruning categories.
Here’s a better idea of the bush
All the Fantins I’ve ever seen have been substantially bigger than what they tell you on the rose sites. Mine had easily six and a half foot stems . . . in several directions.
‡‡‡ http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens/Rosemoor/About-Rosemoor/Plant-of-the-month/April/Fritillaria-meleagris Love love love. I have a few white ones too. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/sep/07/plant-offer-snakes-head-fritillary