I had what passes in my case for a terrific voice lesson.
AND THE REMOVAL BLOKES GOT IT ALL IN.
These two large dazzling items totally outshine the rest which is a good thing because it was very nearly a disaster of a day.
. . . Starting with not getting to bed early enough last night, partly because I really needed to sing and one song leads to another. . . . Staggered out of bed this morning making hopeless croaking noises like an installation of rusty hinges* and started lubricating with caffeine. Took the poor hellterror for the fastest sprint she was capable of** and locked her up again with an extra kong to comfort her in our absence.***
I took hellhounds-of-the-touchy-digestion for a minimal get-it-over-with scamper around the churchyard. Darkness refused to comply with the purpose of this exercise. Arrrgh.
Hellhounds and I were on the road with twenty-five minutes to spare: five minutes to bolt up to Third House and ask Atlas to clear out drawers and move ill-placed piles of [book] boxes in anticipation of removal-men arrival this afternoon and twenty minutes for hurtling at the far end before my lesson.
Atlas wasn’t there.
I could feel my throat closing.
Well, nothing I could do about it; I couldn’t even ask Peter if he knew anything, since, in the first place, he wouldn’t, because he’s been in Gloucestershire all weekend, and in the second place because he was on a train somewhere and I guarantee his phone had no signal, because that’s the way it goes.
So we thundered on to our next scheduled activity.
Frelling Mauncester was backed up from halfway up the hill into town. Stop go (but not very far) stop go stop go stop go stop go stopgostopgostop. Chiefly stop. It was like this all the way through town.
I could feel my throat closing harder.
We arrived at Nadia’s with THREE MINUTES to spare. I took hellhounds for a three minute scuttle and . . . Darkness continued to fail to comply. ARRRGH.
I was pretty nearly barking by the time I burst through Nadia’s door. . . She did make me do some breathing and loosening up exercises before I sang anything, but my throat said, Ooooh! We’re at Nadia’s! We like it here! —And promptly warmed up a dream.†
WE GOT THROUGH THREE SONGS. THREE. IT’S A RECORD. We usually bog down on the first one because I’m doing so many things wrong, not that Nadia would put it that way, but I would. We may occasionally galumph through bits of more than one—indeed even three—but only because I have a specific technical question†† or they’re folk songs I’m singing at home and want a little general input—or scraping back from the brink. But THREE REAL SONGS? It doesn’t happen. And furthermore the third—Vedrai carino from Don Giovanni—I’d only brought because I wanted to go over the frelling Italian before I started really working on it. We’d had a stab††† at it a while ago and it got set aside, but it’s been on my mind and since I now more or less suddenly have more voice it’s one of the ones I snatched back from oblivion.
Oh, go on, let’s just sing it, said Nadia. So I did. Eeeeep. And she made one or two painless comments and told me to go home and work on it.
Then Un moto de gioja and we spent some time on that one. Here’s an example of why I adore Nadia. There’s a place in the middle of Un moto where you hold a note for a very long time and then come off it again with a wordless twiddle before you start the next verse. I hadn’t even registered that you’re supposed to sing the twiddle—when I started work on this song Nadia had told me to hold the note only as long as was comfortable, but to keep time and come in correctly on the new ‘un moto’. Then I ACCIDENTALLY heard Danielle de Niese singing it and she sings the twiddle. Oh. It ties the two halves together better, the twiddle. I can’t sing it up to proper twiddle speed at the end of a long note—which is the part I can do—and as I hurl myself into the next verse. So I sing it at half speed. Nadia said gravely, if you were preparing this for public performance I think I would take issue with your singing it so slowly, but for your purposes at present it works very well. —She takes you seriously. Even when you’re screwing up Do Re Mi or tackling something like someone with a flint axe trying to produce a knock-off of the Sphinx.
Finally we assailed the nightclub proprietress. This is such a fabulous song. There are no fully satisfactory performances of it on YouTube—that I can find anyway—but here’s the poem: http://wonderingminstrels.blogspot.co.uk/2006/05/song-of-nightclub-proprietress-john.html ‡
It needs Lotte Lenya—who may have died before Dring composed it, in which case I excuse her for having failed to record it—or someone else who can put over age and despair. I don’t say you have to be old (despair optional) because in fairness I would then have to give up singing Voi che sapete, say, which is sung by a teenage boy, or Vedrai carino, which is sung by a bouncy village maiden (to her thick plank of a fiancé). But you have to put old and hagged over. I have a chance of this, with lived experience on my side. But the thing that is Very Exciting is that I can hear me beginning to sound like a mezzo: not just the range‡‡ but the resonance. And this is a very resonant song.
. . . I then took hellhounds for another hustle and FINALLY. A CERTAIN PARTY EXCRETED. We then belted back to Third House and arrived with three minutes to spare . . . and the removal blokes were already there. NEVER MIND. I WASN’T LATE. I let them in, pointed out all the Large Objects that had to go, apologised for lack of pre-clearance . . . and bolted back to the cottage to feed hellcritters‡‡‡ and take the hellterror for another mini-hurtle while hellhounds contemplated their bowls with disfavour. I was on my way out the door to flee back to Third House when the phone rang and it was Removal Men saying they were ready. . . .
I looked at their lorry before they shut the gate and my heart plummeted. There was no way they were going to get that lot in. I had the hellhounds with me again—no one had got any kind of a real hurtle thus far today—and we took off across some countryside§ behind the storage warehouse while Valiant Removal Men wrestled with the standard three dimensions of the space-time continuum and when we returned . . .
THEY HAD GOT IT ALL IN.§§
Oh, and did I mention that tonight was the first night of the Alpha course—?
* * *
* On this day that the Turner Prize is announced, this seems like a perfectly valid idea
** All right, the fastest sprint I was capable of
*** I’m sure, if asked, she would prefer the kong
† Please remember, when I say silly things like this that IT’S ALL RELATIVE. I have made a giant leap forward in the last few weeks but it’s still an 11-hand Shetland pony qualifying for prelim at the county show against the odds, not the branded warmblood insured for a gazillion pounds qualifying for the Olympics, okay?
†† Huh, whuh, um, bleaugh?
††† Way too vivid a metaphor, stab. Or maybe I’m just hallucinating KES.
‡ Baby ’pollies is not a mystery: they’re little bottles of a kind of mineral water popular at the time.
‡‡ I’m still putting in petitions to get my high C back. Lots of mezzos have high Cs.
‡‡‡ ‘Feed’ used loosely, which is to say the hellterror eats and the hellhounds do not.
§ And I managed to cut myself on some barbed wire. Frell. There was a normal gate to get in, and then at the other end one of those horrible temporary gate things that anyone who has spent any time wandering over English agricultural landscape will know to their detriment: several strands of barbed wire stretched between two light posts and held apart horizontally by being nailed to a series of short loose lathes. This contraption is usually held at either end by a loop at ground level where you stick the bottom of your post and then at the top by another loop which you have to shove it under, around the post of the real fence it’s being attached to. These things are a menace anyway, and if you lose your hold they collapse on the ground in a grisly tangle of barbed wire. But in this case . . . the frelling loops were made of barbed wire. WHY? Anyone trying either to open or close the evil thing is going to have to handle the loops. I managed to nick a finger and it bled and bled and bled and bled and bled and bled and bled and bled and bled and it was very boring and there are probably a whole series of predators out there tonight hopefully following my blood spoor. Sorry guys.
§§ Of course I still have ninety-six million books to do something with—I don’t mean Peter’s and my backlist, that’s already in its own storage unit—and a few odds and ends. Maybe a few more than a few.
It’s been a beautiful if cold late autumn/early winter day* and since you never know when the English weather is going suddenly to develop unending sleet for the next twelve weeks it seemed like a good idea to get everyone out for a Glorious Country Walk today. Which would explain why I am shattered. One of the rather expensive-in-other-ways aspects of no longer having a dog minder is that not only can I wedge in another Glorious Country Walk at a nonstandard time but I’m motivated to do so because with two shifts of critters seven days a week** it would be easy to go frelling nuts with only the standard local half-dozen hurtle possibilities. I find that I’m using the poor hellterror as a kind of advance scouting party: countryside we’ve fallen out of the habit of using in the last year, since the hellterror, and the second hurtle shift, arrived, I take her first, to look for new bad-tempered Mastiffs having moved into the neighbourhood. Because I can pick her up. And while you still get idiots who are brass-faced enough to tell you as their ****** dog is jumping all over you as you stand there with your critter in your arms that if you’d only put her DOWN you wouldn’t have a PROBLEM, generally speaking the owners of discourteous off-lead dogs are embarrassed if the frelling beast attacks you because you have uplifted your delicate little four-legged furry flower and are clutching her frantically you hope above drool and gnash level.*** Arrrrrrgh.
Hellhounds and I had a lovely extended hurtle out Jenny’s way and then farther into the sheepy hinterlands—you are slightly less likely to meet off-lead monsters in active sheep country. Slightly. I took Pav for a hurtle over a piece of ground I haven’t been to in yonks . . . and there appear to be no ill-natured Baskervilleans newly installed. Excellent. But it’s a longer stretch than I remembered and we were kind of each holding the other up by the time we got back to Wolfgang. And this might explain why when I let Herself out of her crate after dinner to do her dangling-from-the-chandelier thing at the mews† she trotted around a bit, had an uncharacteristically mild go at a toy or two . . . and then came and nested . . . in EXACTLY the place I LEAST WANT HER. I’ve been putting her long-down ‘bed’ to the other side of where I sit at the kitchen table with my computer because the side next to the bookshelves is also where all the wiring lives, the computer, the telephone, the electric fire, the glibberzinge. And my knapsack(s) with their interesting ends of knitting yarn and lovely velvety-textural laptop sleeve and so on sticking out the tops sit leaning against the bookcase.
So that’s where she wants to curl up like a normal dog instead of a perpetual-motion hellterror and have a snooze. Siiiiiiiigh. She had quite fifteen more minutes of semi-structured pootling before I was going to make her long down. And she went and frelling pre-empted me. Here I am, with a nice quiet well-behaved dozing hellterror in the wrong place so when she woke up enough to ask for a lap, well, clearly this was the easy way out.†† Except of course that she takes up most of the space on the seat of the chair, because I need both hands free to type instead of holding a hellterror in place, and I am hanging by a thread and RATHER UNCOMFORTABLE.
It’ll keep me awake long enough to torture you a little in anticipation of tomorrow.
Robin!! Did you HAVE to do that when I’m spending the night in a hotel room??
When I don’t sleep tonight I’m holding you responsible!
I dooooooo hope you aren’t in a hotel room tomorrow night. Mwa hahahahahahaha.
All RIGHT then…(glancing at the swords in the hall.) NOW we know where we are…(wondering where the dagger is. Yes, that one.)
Sigh. I do have some weaponry: I have a fencing sabre, which . . . well, it looks like something you take fencing lessons with, rather than something you repel burglars or Yog Sothoth or invaders from other dimensions with. And I do have a Blue Sword, I’ve told you this story, haven’t I? How it arrived in the post LOOKING like a sword, with a tactful little label on the obviously sword-shaped parcel-wrapping saying ‘ornamental arme’? (It was from a friend who makes swords in France.) But I envy you being able to say ‘glancing at the swords in the hall’. And ‘wondering where the dagger is . . .’
So how much of this, I wonder, is because Kes has refused to call her agent back (unless I missed that episode somehow while traveling or something.) Or has whatsisface the ex-husband sent trouble after her because of those rosebushes? And do hobs who are happy with their new householders ever go stick a knife in an invader’s ankle?
I am under the impression, although I have often been wrong in stories past, that Mr Wolverine is being held in abeyance for future atrocities. And I don’t actually think Gelasio is a villain. He’s just some dork in midlife crisis with bad taste in relationship hopping. Although I think possibly his second wife outclasses him as much as his first one does. We shall see. I hope. Oh, and the hob! Well . . . um . . . †††
Eeep! I know you are having fun with cliffhangers, but gosh! I don’t know how I’m going to wait a whole week to find out what happens next! You really weren’t kidding yesterday.
It’s only going to get worse, you know. I may have mentioned that it’s only going to get worse?
I wish you many more years of terrorizing your readers with cliff-hangers!
Thank you! Thank you very much! Heh heh heh heh heh.
I’m really hoping KES comes out in a hard-copy version for off-screen reading..
So am I.
I am now very glad that when KES is posted on the blog and I get to read it it is in daylight hours!!
Hmm. Now that is something I hadn’t planned on. Yo, Blogmom, is there any way to delay posting the blog in Australia till NIGHT TIME? ‡
As for KES – where do I even begin to comment on this? The world is ending! Hoofbeats and candlelight and Sid barking (and Sid’s collar change)
Well observed. Extra points.
and Caedmon rousing himself and Rose Manor shuddering and the driveway-rut universe descending and then… ?!?!?!?!
Yep. Definitely ?!?!?!?!
In true hellgoddess form, that was a frelling ratbag of a cliffhanger!
Can’t wait til Saturday – will there be resolution? Will our heroine finally find herself irretrievably swallowed up by the alternate reality that has been shadowing her?
We-ell . . .
(I should just mention, by the way, that if Murac and all the scaries get horses, Kes better be given a magnificent, swift and sure-of-foot steed PDQ. Maybe Merry transforms into a glorious fleet-footed steed? I wonder if Caedmon will play an alternate-reality part? Protector, maybe? Although Sid seems to be covering that part pretty well…)
Hee hee hee hee hee . . .
Halfway through the week now. Only 72 hours left until KES tightens the rack on us…
::falls down laughing:: Only twenty four hours now. . . . Is that the creak of rack-screws I hear—?
* * *
* Summer is in many ways to be preferred, because in the first place there are roses, and in the second place there is A LOT MORE DAYLIGHT^. But there is nothing like the long golden afternoon light of this time of year, especially when you are fortunate enough to be watching it lying over countryside—Hampshire’s, for example—that is pretty fabulous to begin with.
^ You will observe I have my priorities clearly in order. Even if perhaps the latter has a critical effect on the former.+
+ Note also that latitude has a lot to do with it. You do get more sensitive to daylight, and lack of it, as you get older, and I was still relatively (!) young when I left Maine. But the south of England, despite the friendlier climate#, is a LOT farther north and the swings of daylight-plus to daylight-minus are extreme. My fantasy of the castle in Scotland didn’t founder so much on the standard questions of money and so on, but on the realisation that Scotland has even less daylight in the winter. I don’t know how people in, oh, say, Lapland, or Barrow, Alaska bear it.
# Thank you, Gulf Stream, please don’t go away
** Which is twenty-eight hurtles a week, plus tiny round-the-block/churchyard/park sprints of about another two a day . . . this does not bear thinking about. What a good thing my arithmetic is really bad.
*** Cough cough cough. I like to think that it is a development of trust in my goddessy abilities that appears to make Pav enjoy these confrontations.
† The mews does not have chandeliers. I have the chandelier(s).
†† Clever little ratbags, hellterrors.
††† Mwa hahahahahahaha.
‡ No, I’m not a nice person. You knew that.
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!*
. . . I went bell ringing.
It does amuse me that there were eight native-British Fustian ringers who would rather ring bells than watch any of the gazillion firework parties laid on by every two-dog village in the entire country. New Arcadia has a good one every year—viewable from either Peter’s spare bedroom window or my attic**—and if I’m not doing anything else I will give a cursory glance out of the appropriate window at the end of the show when they throw everything they’ve got left into the sky at once.*** But it’s not important. Bell ringing is important.
I’d spent too much time today rushing around†; Penelope rang up out of the blue this morning, suggesting we get together for a cup of tea†† and since I hadn’t exactly got out of bed early that kind of was the morning and the rest of the day has been an up the down escalator experience. The hellterror has had the semi-squirts††† so that cancelled the training visit to the vet’s waiting room since I don’t want to stuff a dodgy tummy with treats. But that is somewhat counterintuitively a further drain on time because she’s not the slightest fussed by lower intestinal irregularities and still needs hurtling: ten intense minutes doing sit-down-stand-paw-otherpaw are worth at least twenty merely barrelling through the hedgerows.
Having no sense, and also because it was a beautiful day I wanted the excuse to go for a country hurtle, I pursued another fruitless scheme. The Undesirable Repercussions of Running Out of Money, subparagraph seven: by renting your second house with the bigger garden, you no longer have anywhere all three of your hellcritters can riot properly, including room for Darkness to run away. I think it was Southdowner who suggested a riding school‡; so I went out to see Jenny. Remember Jenny, you long-time readers? Who has a yard‡‡ in Ditherington? Who let me ride her fabulous Connie? Before the ME got so erratic (again) that I had to stop. I know I could go back just to hang out and hug a few horses and even though I miss horses more than I miss riding . . . it’s still really too discouraging. So I don’t go.
Well, the riding school/ hellcritter thing isn’t going to work; the footing’s all wrong and the door doesn’t close properly against something the size of a hellterror. The space doesn’t have to be critter proof because even the hellterror has a not-bad recall and they’ll only be there, supposing we ever find a there for them to be, with me in full supervisory mode. But the fencing has to be recognisable as fencing from a hellcritter perspective. And none of Jenny’s fencing is. Rats. But I did get to meet a few of the current yard residents. . . . Siiiiiiiigh.
But we had a lovely hurtle.
And I came home and sang. Mozart is necessary: see previous entry.
I was too tired to go bell-ringing. But what was I going to do, stay home and watch the fireworks? I went. I think I am going to learn to ring Cambridge before it kills me but I admit I’m not sure. And Fustian’s tower secretary came up to me at the end and said that I was invited to the tower Christmas dinner, that he’d send me the info, and did I want to bring my husband?
Whimper. This is really very nice of them; it’s generally only worthwhile regular non-member visitors who are invited to the Christmas dinner, and I’m only taking advantage of their twice a month extra practise for the [extra] stupid. But I wasn’t even planning to go to Forza’s dinner—and a whole evening of being sociable? Two whole evenings if I go to both?‡‡‡ And that eating in public thing? Whimper.
I’m sure it’ll be good for my character. Both dinners. Maybe I’ll just bring some carrots§ in a bag.
* * *
* For any Americans out there who think that the 4th of July is the only legitimate day for fireworks: http://www.potw.org/archive/potw405.html
** If Third House’s future tenants want fireworks, they’ll have to buy a ticket and go.
*** But I’ve never seen a dragon. Let alone one that rips overhead like an express train and bursts over Old Eden. Okay, is anyone else bothered by the express-train-like firework dragon in the first chapter of THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING? I remember noticing it for the first time on my approximately 1008th reading when I was probably about twelve. Shock horror. I’m totally unpersuaded by the theory that this is an aside to the modern reader; personally I think Tolkien screwed up. But he was a notorious control freak—could he possibly have missed it? Can he, his family, friends and other readers and his publisher have missed it? Alternatively, can a meticulous Anglo-Saxon scholar have deliberately stuck a plonking great anachronism in his own story-telling?^ I don’t like either answer.
^ There are at least a couple of others, I think, but my memory is doing its vague and mushy thing again. If they all concern the hobbits, then there is reasonable support for the theory of hobbit society as a satire on English society sharp enough to contain a few anachronisms successfully. I think I remember that the Shire has umbrellas and pocket-watches. But they’re smaller and less obtrusive. Express trains are large and noisy.
† I should be packing boxes at Third House. Don’ wanna. Sigh.
†† What wins, a cup of tea with a friend or packing boxes? Guess.
††† My life with hellcritters. Well, at least it was only semi.
‡ I can no longer keep my Yank/Brit jargon straight. I think I mean riding ring in American. The place, probably with a fence around it, where you do your training/schooling.
‡‡‡ Peter would only go if I put him in chains and hired a forklift. There are some advantages to being 86: you can just say ‘I’m/he’s 86’ and everyone gives you lots of lovely slack.
§ Yes, I eat carrots. Whinny.
Last night I turned the Aga back on*, closed the kitchen and attic windows for the first time in months and ate my first apples of the season off my little tree**. I also wore gloves to take hellhounds for their last hurtle at glurp o’clock in the morning. And it was dark tonight at eight o’clock. Trying to get everybody hurtled at least occasionally in daylight is going to be more challenging this year, since the dream of a regular three-way hurtle isn’t looking too good.***
Good-bye summer, I guess. But I’d like to keep my dahlias till November, okay?
* * *
* It’s been off long enough that I’d got used to being able to put stuff on it. What with the bowls of fruit, small decorative jars of (decanted) dog food, caddies of (also decanted) bird food^, piles of magazines and knitting there is no counter, you know, space, and I have to decide what to put my computer on.^^ At least I managed to remember to take the plug-in single electric burner off the top of one of the Aga burner lids. I forgot last time and the little rubber pads on the ends of the legs of the electric burner melted.
^ I need yet another new bird feeder. I have two of those squirrel-repelling cage ones, the theory being that the mesh is big enough only to let small birds through. I discovered, by the simple expedient of doing the washing-up while the assault on Everest was being performed in my back garden, that the mesh is too small to let the (fat) resident robin through.+
+ The size differential among British robins is pretty extreme. Of the breeding pair a year ago who raised two broods in my greenhouse# one was nearly twice the size of the other one and easily differentiated even when there was only one visible. And it’s the bigger one that did most of the nest sitting and who disappeared as soon as the babies were half fledged, leaving the other to finish the job—which ought to mean she was mum. But according to on line the male robin is slightly bigger. Well, on line isn’t always correct, and maybe this robin has the short-man-likes-big-women complex.
# I have my fingers crossed for next year. This year my greenhouse was full of the results of a fallen-down wall which is to say first a shortage of walls and shelves to put nests on and second a Strange Man wielding wall-building materials and a trowel.
^^ Fruit is a bad choice: too knobbly.+
+ I am so looking forward to the hellterror being old enough to learn ‘go lie down [and stay there for more than ten seconds]’ so that I can START USING MY OFFICE AGAIN. At the moment it’s just a bridge too far. I can’t exactly work with her underfoot in the cottage kitchen but certain things are possible.# And she has to spend enough time in her crate: hellhounds and I don’t have to go upstairs. Hellhounds flee occasionally## but I stay in the kitchen, providing her with a Focus for Existence, and balancing my computer on tall piles of mostly magazines. It’s not a bad thing to have the computer higher than usual if I end up with a hellterror in my lap, which I mostly do. This wouldn’t work at all at a desk, by the way. My knees against the cupboard door and her butt tucked under the edge of the counter is what keeps her in position and I can still type.
# Chiefly fishing her out of the hellhound crate for the 1,000,000,000,000th time this hour.
## Although Chaos usually creeps down again and crouches on the stairs peering through the railing and waiting for me to notice and open the gate. Then he quickly plasters his cranky-uncle expression on and bolts for the hellhound crate.
** Not so little really. I’m still saying it has to get through its first winter after the wall fell down and was rebuilt around it before I stop worrying about the state of its roots, but the fact that it is producing lovely apples despite the gaspingly dry summer is a good sign. I have been watering it—and I don’t usually water anything that is both well-established and in the ground since I have way way WAAAAAAY too many dratblasted pots to keep up with—but even a middling-sized apple tree is still a tree.
*** All five of us went to see Tabitha today. Tabitha lives on the edge of one of the suburbs of Mauncester, with farmland starting at the end of her drive. I hurtle while Peter is getting thumped.^ And the hellterror so loooooongs to be One of Us I can’t quite give up on the three-way hurtle idea^^. So we all three/four went up the road and then turned to come back across the stubble fields. I had a pocket full of kibble and half an insane plan to try and let them all off lead again.
Only the field was full of frelling game birds. Even aside from the fact that they’ve no doubt been raised for shooting and the local keeper would not be pleased to have them exploded off the territory by havoc-running dogs, I’m not going to slip hellcritters when there’s wildlife in view. Hellhounds are used to this unreasonableness from the hellgoddess. Hellterror is used to nothing. I thought (a) the frelling birds would fly when they realised that slowly ambling group behind them was going to keep coming and (b) that the FRELLING HELLTERROR would eventually give up when the birds didn’t fly but the hellgoddess didn’t let go either.
Wrong on both counts. I think the blasted birds were enjoying the show. They kept looking back over their shoulders, clacking, and then going back to winnowing through the stubble. ARRRRRRRRGH. Fortunately I am the arthritic sixty-year-old skinny white girl version of Watermelon Shoulders and she didn’t have a chance.^^^ But by the time we got back to the car I was ready to give her away. I remind myself that I spent YEARS threatening to leave hellhounds in a box by the side of the road with a sign saying FREE HELLHOUNDS.
^ Peter then falls asleep on Tabitha’s sofa while I get thumped. When we get home again I fall asleep on Peter’s sofa. It’s the Tabitha Effect and is why I try to book on days I am not ringing bells in the evening.
^^ As well that three-way would be saving me a little time and wear. I am NOT THINKING about the possibility that—chiefly thanks to other people’s dogs#—it will never be really safe or practical to harness the troika.
# I believe I said recently that I had mostly sorted out the neighbour’s terrier crapping in the drive at Third House by keeping the gate shut? Next time I went up there . . . there was a fresh pile of dog crap immediately outside the gate. Very funny. Very, very, very funny.
^^^ Fortunately she was in her shiny new padded harness after she ate her pink one. Ten minutes unsupervised in the car and one of the crucial connecting straps was hanging by a shred. This happened Saturday afternoon, of course, so I spent a day and a half threading the long lead through the bits of the harness that were still harness so that when the shred gave way I would still have a hellterror on the end of the lead.
The new padded harness is very flash. And sturdy. But it’s only red. Sigh.
Treasure Trove officially added to a (short, so far) list of house-eating roses I NEED.
Excellent choice. I would have had to have her if Peter didn’t. I’m presently trying to decide if I could figure out a flight path for Paul’s Himalayan Musk up at Third House. Rosa banksiae lutea is a house-eater, and, ironically, is getting going comparatively slowly. I hadn’t planned for either Mme Alfred or Mme Gregoire at the cottage to turn into house-eaters—or Ghislaine—they just did. I actually did know I was being silly about Souvenir de la Malmaison. She’s not a house-eater, she’s just PERVERSE AND DANGEROUS.* But the only house-eater at Third House at present is Bobbie James, who is cooperatively climbing the copper beech that hangs over from the cemetery. Hmmm.
I wonder how I would keep the deer from eating them until they were big enough not to mind?
Ahem. Have you read SUNSHINE? Yolande’s peanut-butter-baited electric deer-repelling fence is not only for a world with Others in it. Go google peanut butter deer fence. Nothing works perfectly—and it’s a huge faff to set up and maintain—but it is pretty much your best bet. The problem with all the repellents is that deer get used to them. Oh, yeah, lion dung, big deal, have you seen any lions? No, I haven’t either. –And they’re apparently capable of developing a taste for hot chillis. Electricity goes on working.
My Ghislaine de Feligonde is veryvery pale yellow, aging to white. Even though orange is my least favorite color, I think that Morris is beautiful–does it have a scent? I always try to have an Abraham Darby, even though here it is always a less-than-beautiful beige color because I think it has the most wonderful scent of any rose I have ever grown!
Proof of the whole variable thing. My Ghislaine comes out a deep orange gold and pales to primrose yellow—eventually, sometimes, almost white. William Morris isn’t really orange, more peach, but she looks ORANGE next to the vivid, very lavender-pink James Galway. Yes, she has a good scent. But if Abraham Darby is a dull beige in your area William Morris will probably be grey. One of the best rose photos I’ve ever taken was of my old Abraham Darby back at the old house. She’s another of these gold-peach roses, but with a lot of deep salmon-pink as well. And the flowers are HUGE. This photo of Morris is a particularly romantic one: if you like that style you should go cruise the ‘English roses’ aisles of whatever nursery you bought Abraham Darby from. There are other choices, most of them not orange.
Thanks for the lovely photos…they have me wondering if I couldn’t fit just a few more roses in my yard.
Mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Diane in MN
Deer, at least in my neighborhood, are quite used to dogs and not put off by them (or their scent) at all. Especially since they usually do their roaming and devouring when dogs are in the house and asleep.
Yes. Suburban deer get totally blasé about all the usual human things. It’s genuine countryside around here, but English villages are organised on a different pattern—houses tend to be squashed together in a relatively small area surrounded by swathes of farmland. ** There are lots of deer—Roe, around here, mostly—and don’t they just love people’s gardens. And they get so frelling tame you can’t trust them to run away even if they see you shouting and throwing things. Or to not panic and try to self-immolate under your car’s tyres.
Here are some suggestions: original scent Irish Spring soap, hung around the plants (temporary if you get much rain); blood meal-based commercial repellent (kept them out of my hostas for a long time); hot pepper spray (also temporary with rain). I’ve ordered a new repellent based on citrus that gets fairly good reviews; I figure if I put out a variety of stuff, they won’t get too accustomed to any of it.
No repellent ever worked for me or anyone I ever talked to for more than a year, and often less than that. Maybe your MN deer have enough more options to be more amenable to being repelled. One of the few clear benefits of a move into town is we no longer have a deer problem. I’m still kind of half-expecting them to figure out Third House. It’s only one block over from farmland and the fencing is inadequate even for keeping next door’s frelling terrier from crapping in the drive and the entire neighbourhood of cats from crapping everywhere. It wouldn’t slow a hungry deer down for a moment. Arrrrgh.
|If you’re not a rose person, what are you doing on this blog?|
I do wonder that sometimes, especially since I also dislike pink.
Snork. The funny thing to me is that while I like pink I’m not the pink obsessive that the blog persona is. It’s a handy hook to hang silliness on—and it’s true that if the colour choices are black, white and pink—I’ll take pink. This is a rant for some other evening, but I spent most of my life bucking against my inner girlie girl, because when I was a kid and a teenager forty and fifty-plus years ago being a girlie girl—especially with a girl-next-door face like mine—was death to any kind of being taken seriously. I professionally hated pink for decades—and burst out of my parents’ house into jeans, Frye boots and black leather. I revel in pink—and pearls—now partly as a nanny nanny boo boo to all those jerks who tried to make me believe that frilly and trad feminine equals stupid and wet doormat.
I do feel awfully ignorant sometimes when looking at the rose pictures. I’d never guess that some of those flowers were roses. If I were walking through a garden with a rose person, I’d embarrass myself saying, “Oh, look at those peony beds!” And, “Aren’t those great carnations!” I think I referred to the (hydrangeas? I forget) in my yard in front of an expert once as “snowballs”, but the expert never blinked an eye. Someone else later told me what they were, but I then later forgot again…
Well. There are roses bred to look like peonies and peonies bred to look like roses. Ditto carnations. There are begonias and geraniums that look enough like roses that if you aren’t paying attention to the leaves you’ll think they are roses. And there is a perfectly good category of hydrangea called snowball so the expert probably did blink, in appreciation of your terminology.
I know petunias, and crocuses, and daffodils, and tulips, and lilacs, and (my favorite) lilies of the valley, and daisies, and black-eyed susans, and poinsettias, and marigolds, and sunflowers, and forsythias…and that’s probably about it!
There are pink lilies of the valley you know . . . the cottage garden is OVERRUN with them. I like them, but I also rip them up by the bucketfuls. Not my fault, by the way: my predecessor put them in. I also suspect there are petunias, crocuses, daffs, tulips, lilacs, sunflowers and marigolds that you wouldn’t recognize as such, because that’s the way plant breeders are—oooh, they say, let’s see if we can breed something that doesn’t look like what it is. I personally think trailing snapdragons, which usually have weird little turned-up faces that look more like roses than like snapdragons, for example, are a mistake. And black-eyed susans . . . there are a million daisy-ish things that get called black-eyed susans: the rudbeckia family is GINORMOUS.
Oh, yeah, and another favorite: Morning Glories.
Ah yes, bindweed by any other name . . . bindweed has the prettiest little morning-glory flowers. It’s the same family. Here’s another rant for another night: how narrow the line is between fabulously desirable garden plant and migraine-inducing detestable weed.
Gardening. Eh. Another of those pursuits of the mad. . . .
* * *
* It’s been drizzling just enough for frelling Souvenir to say YAAAAAAAAH!!!!! and ball like crazy. No proper RAIN just Souvenir dis-enhancing mist. Note that I am ALREADY sick to death of watering. It is my least favourite garden activity: I like weeding and pruning and tying up and tying down and swearing and all that: I HATE WATERING^. And apparently we’re about to have a hot dry stretch^^ like what the rest of the world calls summer, I can do without it. I like a little light complaining about not having the opportunity to wear my more amusing t shirts, since it kills the purpose if you cover them up with a sweater. And sunlight is nice. But we don’t need it all the time. Grey and miserable! YESSSSSS! That’s what I moved to England for!^^^
^ The woman whose garden is full of pots. Whose pots are full of pots. Whose pots’ pots occasionally have pots in them.
^^ The moment the last of Souvenir’s gigantic midsummer flush has gone GREY-BROWN AND MOULDY.
^^^ Oh, and Peter.
** Although this is changing. Not in a good way.