July 11, 2014

Shadows is here!

The announcement you’ve been dreading


. . . insofar as ‘dreading’ is a suitable word for anything that happens on a blog.  As I say (regularly) to Blogmom when I’ve screwed up yet again, ‘It’s a blog.  Nobody dies.’

Well, nobody dies, but this is the week when you will not get a KES for the foreseeable future.  This flaming sore throat is showing no sign whatsoever of folding its tents and silently stealing away.  And it’s wearing me down, you know?  It’s no worse than it was on Wednesday, it’s just no better, and the rest of me is following it down into the abyssal pit of lethargy* and brainlessness.**  And I’m not going to post a KES ep until I’ve had a brain available to look it over with first.  As I said last week, the Black Tower interpolations were a late addition, but once one thing has come a bit adrift other things tend to follow.  Story-telling entropy.  Or A Sound of Thunder.***

And you know one of the worst things about this extremely unpleasant lurgy?  Chocolate doesn’t taste good.   How am I supposed to comfort myself in my affliction when I am denied chocolate?

* * *

* Hurtling my two shifts of hellpack is interesting in a losing all your money in Las Vegas, your house just fell down or your beloved just ran off with a fireperson^ and what really hurts is that he/she took the dog^^ kind of way.  As I staggered after them I was thinking it could be worse.  The hellhounds are pretty frelling laid back at the moment possibly because they stopped eating again and there’s a limit to the amount of force feeding I have the morale/energy for, and at the moment I can’t talk to the vet because I can’t talk.  But they don’t require miles across rough country as they have been known to do when they were younger, possibly because at present their bellies are starting to stick to their backbones.^^^   And the hellterror . . . on a long extending lead, I can just mosey along while she hucklebutts her little cotton socks off . . . bringing me especially desirable, well-chewed, sticky and drooly sticks and plastic bottles occasionally so I don’t feel left out.  Gee.  Thanks.

I don’t actually get this sick very often.  I was lying on the floor with my head in the hellhound bed# last night listening to this:   http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b048ngny ##  and thinking, I remember lying on the floor with my head in the hellhound bed listening to that bloke read Paradise Lost on Radio Three and that was several years ago.  Uggggh.  Not nearly long ago enough, if you follow me.  I could have gone on not feeling this bloody for any number more years.

^ My mind seems to run on fire for some reason

^^ And dogs.  For some reason.

^^^ I know they don’t like the taste of the drug they’re on,  because back during some recent era when they were occasionally eating, if one of them missed their drug-laced dinner and the other one didn’t, I was liable to find the one who was facing a rerun of the drugged food trying to eat the drug-free final snack of the other.  They need to be on this *&^%$£””!!!!! drug, it’s working, but it hasn’t worked enough yet.  I am so frelled.

# I changed their bedding Wednesday night.  It’s all nice and clean+ and a good deal softer than the floor.


## This should be Hesperion XXI at the York Early Music Festival.  The BBC web site is such a nightmare I never trust it.  But if it isn’t, you can look it up on the schedule, Thursday night at 7:30 on Radio Three and it’s fabulous.  I think it’s one of those only available for seven days, so get it while it’s there.  I’m going to listen to it again.

** I was supposed to go Street Pastoring tonight.  Not a chance.  Whimper.  I keep wondering where I picked up this particular lurgy.  See previous entry about the downside of interaction with other human beings.  It could have been last Saturday on the street, for example.

*** I’m not a big fan of Wikipedia at the best of times.^  So it’s probably not surprising I feel that the article on ‘the butterfly effect’ might have mentioned the Bradbury story.  I know there’s a difference between the beating of butterfly wings creating major weather and the wrong guy getting elected because your big fat boot stepped on one back in the Cretaceous^^ but . . . the butterfly effect article even mentions that it’s a popular trope in SF&F.

^ And that meatloaf at the head having come out as rantingly, pathologically against homeopathy+ means I will stay not a big fan

+ Let me just say that anyone who thinks homeopathy is nonsense hasn’t done their homework=

= Self-prescribing is not ideal–see above about not posting a KES while I have no discernible brain–but I am walking.  Sometimes a lurgy just has your name on it.  And back in the days when I still believed in standard medicine I got prescribed an awful lot of garbage that did me significant harm.   Whatever this is, it’ll go away . . . eventually.

^^ How do we know it wasn’t the microorganisms in the soil?  Just because the butterfly is flashier?

Kitchen Appliance Triumph


So, all this time I’ve clawed back by no longer writing a blog every night?  Has disappeared without trace.  Of course.

Today, for example, it has disappeared without trace by my having spent NEARLY TWO HOURS IN DENTIST FROM R’LYEH’S CHAIR OF DREADFUL TORMENT.  Owwwwwww.*

Yesterday it disappeared because . . . MAJOR TRUMPET FLOURISH . . .


This wasn’t easy.  Even leaving out the amount of time I spent researching** frelling washing machines*** I was so freaked out by the PRICE of the one that was going best to cope with all the hair in this household† that I put off ordering it for most of another fortnight.  Peter had grown a bit testy about my usurping his washing machine so I decided in that non-decision way that I hope most people who read this blog have experienced for themselves, that I would merely accumulate dirty laundry because, after all, I was going to buy a washing machine.  Fortunately I have a lot of clothes†† although the hellpack is down to pretty much its final lot of bedding.†††

I had a four-hour delivery slot booked for Wednesday morning during which I paced the floor and wondered what I was going to do when the delivery persons Viewed the Situation and said they couldn’t do it.  The Winter Table is still up because I’m still fetching recently-arrived-and-potted-up little green things indoors when the temperature starts re-enacting the Pit and the Pendulum.  Plus there’s a hellterror crate since the last time any major kitchen appliances were brought in or out.  Also, washing machines weigh.  My last appliant purchase was the refrigerator—refrigerators weigh nothing.  I can lift a refrigerator‡.  A washing machine I can barely shove back into its corner when it starts walking across the floor.  And they were going to have to wrestle the new marvel up the narrow flight of stairs with the black iron railing from street level to the front door, around the sharp 180 degree bend into the kitchen—and, while they were making that turn, lift it over the puppy gate, which is bolted to the wall.‡‡

They came.  They viewed the situation.  Their eyes got rather large.  They withdrew to the street and muttered between themselves while I wrung my hands and thought dire thoughts about washboards and rocks in rivers.


I tipped them lavishly.  They were, to their credit, startled, and I said:  what was I going to do when you looked at this kitchen and said that getting large heavy camels through eyes of needles one storey up, over Becher’s Brook and at a 180° angle wasn’t in your job description?

I hope they got together and bought their wives a nice bottle of champagne.‡‡‡

* * *

* I won’t tell you what this thrilling^ experience did to my bank balance.  OWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

^ I have told you, haven’t I, that the wonders of scuba diving are Forever Closed to Me on account of the number of hours I have spent in Dentist from R’lyeh’s chair staring at the video loop of tropical fish on the TV screen on the ceiling?  I totally support+ the presence of distracting video on a TV screen on the ceiling.  And I can forfeit scuba diving.  Even though the fish are pretty fabulous.  I’m grateful it’s not opera or BUFFY reruns.

+ And I do.  See main footnote *

**  You have to figure it’s going to be an important member of the family for at least a decade so, especially when it lives in the kitchen of your very small house, which happens also to be the room that (a) you spend the most time in (b) the main beds of your three fur factories^ indwell, which helps to explain (a)^^, you and it had better be good friends. ^^^

^ Note also:  fur factories

^^ Remind me to tell you the Pav’s Bed in My Office story.  Sigh.

^^^ Peter had Radio 4 on recently when it was a programme on psychological problems and the discussion was about hoarding disorder, which is apparently defined as an inability to throw things away to the point where the accumulation gets in the way of normal function.  Hmmmm.  One of the things they mention is when you can’t get into your bed because of all the stuff on it?  Feh.  I can still get in my bed . . . I may have to roll some of the books, knitting magazines and homeopathic journals over a little . . . and it’s true I’m an uncharacteristically quiet sleeper.  But I was really thinking about this after I’d cleared off+ the old washing machine and the refrigerator, which was going to have to move to get it out, and had nowhere to put anything.

+ Mostly the stuff on top, which was in layers.  But I also stripped off all the kitchen magnets . . . which fill a mixing bowl.  A small mixing bowl . . . but still a mixing bowl.  Not a cereal bowl or a soup bowl.  You could definitely get a batch of muffin batter out of this bowl.  I often have.

*** I think I told you I joined WHICH? http://www.which.co.uk/ just so I could read their washing machine reviews?  They’ve got this clever hook-the-sucker system where you only have to pay £1 for a month of membership, including a copy of the magazine and free access to their gigantic site—and individual phone support for ‘consumer and finance issues’ which bait really attracted me after my recent scary, infuriating and demoralising banking experiences—and at the end of the month if you forget to cancel they quietly make you a full-price member because, after all, you gave them your credit card number for the £1.  Fine.  They got me.  The magazine is full of interesting stuff.  And now I’m researching juicers. ^

^ Everyone see this report?   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10735633/Healthy-diet-means-10-portions-of-fruit-and-vegetables-per-day-not-five.html   Good luck getting this one over to Person in the Street.  But it is one of those Why [mild] ME Is A Good Thing Really moments.  I have evolved, over the past sixty-one years, from a few frozen peas and a leaf of iceberg lettuce style reluctant veg eater to a major rabbit+.  And in the last fourteen years—since the ME felled me—I am eating ten a day++.  It’s a life style, okay?  You get used to it.  And I like broccoli.+++ I’m more inclined to take this report seriously—ten a day does seem like kind of a lot for someone who doesn’t already have chronic health issues—because they make the point that vegetables are more important.  Yes.  A large glass of orange juice with your chocolate croissant is not the same as a large bowl of broccoli . . . er, probably not with your chocolate croissant.  I’d like to hear a little more about ‘juice is worthless’ however.  Out of a carton, maybe.  But I’d’ve said there’s pretty good substantiation for the belief that the Juicer Phenomenon is worthwhile.  Although it’s another life style.  At some point you have to wonder what you’re preserving your life for if you’re spending all your time preserving it.

+ Unfortunately my teeth don’t keep growing.  That would solve a lot of problems, if the cavities just grew out and you could gnaw them off.  Carrots are a lot cheaper than Dentist from R’lyeh.

++ Except occasionally when I’ve been in the Chair of Dreadful Torment and can’t chew.

† There isn’t nearly as much of mine but mine is LONG.  You’d have to line up like fifty-three of Pav’s for an equivalent pilose factor.  Pav, however, has plenty to spare.

†† Which is what happens when you like clothes, have been more or less the same size for nearly forty years, and have hoarding disorder.

††† There is less of this than there might be because the hellterror—like the hellhounds before her—used to eat hers When She Was a Puppy, which, of course, now being almost tw‡‡o years old she is not.  Cough.  Cough.  But she did give up eating her bedding somewhere around her first birthday—which is better than can be said for Chaos.

‡ Well.  I can lift a dwarf under-the-stairs size refrigerator.

‡‡ Because I was tired of it falling over every time Chaos stood up and put his forepaws on it.  Which, being a rather dim sweetheart, he never took advantage of, and Darkness is above that kind of thing.  Pav, however . . . it’s a good thing it was bolted in by the time Pav arrived.

‡‡‡ Or, possibly, husbands.




I know.  I don’t do politics.  Well. . . .

I am, I admit, frequently appallingly clueless about the realities of . . . reality.  I know I’m a wet bleeding-heart knee-jerk la-di-dah liberal but I forget how far from the mainstream that sometimes takes me.  Take gay marriage.

I do know there are still rabid homophobic enclaves out there but that’s what I expect them to be . . . enclaves.*  In the modern First World at least I expect anyone my age and younger to behave in a polite and tolerant way;  if they have private caveats about certain intrinsically harmless and productive subgroups of society they keep this to themselves.  That government tends to be butt-heavy with old fogies is one of those sad facts of reality, but I’m rapidly approaching old-fogey status myself so the obvious stuff should be getting dealt with as there are more old fogies like me in Parliament—or Congress, or the Orwellian farmyard, or what-have-you.  So we finally got civil partnerships here in the UK for gays a few years ago—so they can have insurance and inheritance and hospital-visiting rights and so on just like hets, well duh—can gay marriage be far behind?

I don’t keep track of this kind of controversy—I know, bad me—because it makes me too crazy.  I don’t keep track of all the anti-women stuff still relentlessly going on out there** either, for the same reason.  It makes me feel too small and too helpless and too ANGRY:  human rights are human rights are human rights.  There’s nothing to discuss.***  So I’ll just go on writing my stories about Girls Who Do Things—and keep my head (mostly) down out here in rough and ratbagging reality.

While I was as appalled as everyone else—everyone on the wet-liberal side anyway—about the C of E blocking women bishops again, there was enough general outrage that the church synod what-you-call-it managed to cram a fresh vote through before time, and there’s at least been progress, although there’s a bit too much havering about what they’re doing to keep the paralytic-tradition fogies from mutinying again.  But I remember—as a separation-of-church-and-state American—being fascinated by the suggestion that if the C of E didn’t get its act together promptly about women bishops Parliament would make them.

So.  Gay marriage.  It’s legal in the UK.  Finally.  But the C of E is saying no, no, a thousand times no, I’d rather diiiiiie than say yes.  WHAT?  You can’t just look for a sympathetic priest—even wet liberals like me will acknowledge that tolerance tends to be a continuum—it’s illegal for a C of E vicar to perform a gay marriage?  This is the Church.  Of.  England.  That’s how it works over here.  And Parliament isn’t going to say, ‘Do it and shut up’?  WHAT?

And—and this was my personal snapping point—the frelling Archbishop of Canterbury is saying gay marriage would be ‘catastrophic’ for Christians in other parts of the world because it would leave them vulnerable to violence by anti-gay mob rule?  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26894133  WHAT?  Where are you drawing the line, mate?  Or what line or you drawing?  Being a Christian at all in certain parts of the world is still dangerous.  The tradition of violence and martyrdom goes back to the beginning—um, the crucifixion, um?—and ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ has always been a crummy policy.  If the early Christians hadn’t been such arrogant little twerps, insisting on going around shooting their mouths off about Jesus being the Offspring of God, they might have believed what they liked in the privacy of their own homes, as long as they didn’t do it on the street and frighten the horses or piss off the local tyrant.  Not to mention that appeasement of bullies and murderers doesn’t have a great track record for success.†  I hope our Most Reverend Justin is being quoted badly out of context.

It was Aloysius who pointed out to me, in a calm, holy way, that gay marriage is very, very controversial in the C of E—and at the moment the traditionalists are winning.††  And I’m a card-carrying, fee-paying member of this organisation?  Aloysius—who admits to being frustrated by the ban himself—says that we’re supposed to pray for change and love those who disagree with us.

ARRRRRRRRRGH.  Personally I’d rather have a flaming sword.

* * *

^ The Samaritans question you-as-applicant pretty closely about your attitude toward homosexuality but I half-thought they were joking.  In my wet-liberal way I can’t imagine wanting to do something like take shifts on a people-in-emotional-extremis phone line and not sympathise with gays who do have more of a struggle with society and expectations and okay and not-okay than hets do.  Not wholly unlike, to my eye, women have more of a struggle with society etc than men do, or non-white people than white people do.  Etc.  Humanity = ratbag.  Sigh.

** http://everydaysexism.com/  Everyone know this one?  Read it and weep.  I don’t read it very often, because of the weeping thing, and the blood-pressure headaches, and the wondering whether anything ever does get better, or whether it just goes round in endless circles.  The early Christian church had women in positions of power, for example, but it didn’t last.  Here’s a bit more about Laura Bates, Everyday Sexism’s founder:  http://www.independent.co.uk/biography/laura-bates

She’s on Twitter too:  @EverydaySexism

Go for it.  I’m glad someone has the grit.

*** Anyone thinking of writing a counter-diatribe on the forum, please take note.  Also, it’s my blog.

† I want to know why these people think that the presence of Christians is going to turn them homosexual?^  Is it something we put in the water?  There’s a word that’s struggling to surface in my aging and forgetful mind—wait for it—EDUCATION.  You know you can educate people about lots of things.  Like that the existence and maintenance of heterosexuality in the Christian church is actually rather common.

^ Which is of course the worst thing that could possibly happen to you.  Worse than gangrene!  Worse than Sarah Palin for president!

†† Scripture!  Yes, I know!  But we don’t cut people’s hands off for stealing any more, or stone people to death for adultery!  And if you’re asking me, which you probably aren’t, as well as welcoming gay marriage, there are a lot of abused kids out there who are let off honouring their fathers and mothers!



If it works, do it again*



. . . to force BT to put a landline in, since there isn’t one in this centre-of-town, eighty-year-old house with the phone jack in the kitchen.
This is so eye-wateringly insane for me as an outsider that I can only imagine

No, no, you don’t want to imagine.  Really you don’t.

how you can manage to prevent yourself tearing strips off the wall and frothing at the mouth over it.

Hey, I’m not going damage my walls.  But the hellhounds and I do hunt down carelessly parked BT vans and write things like BT DOES NOT RULE on the windscreen in blood-red lipstick.

What did the electricians find behind the phone jack in the kitchen?? (presuming that it is the same system there in that the phone jack has a plastic plate and socket over the hole in the wall where the wires come in to)

Oh you poor creature, hampered by rational intelligence and an assumption of logic.  There has been no electrician/BT technician.  They’re making all these pronouncements by reading their computer screen and making patronising noises at me down the, er, phone.  If they sent a BT operative to Third House it would cost me over £100.  Just to say hi and let him/her in the door.  It costs extra if he/she actually looks at plate and socket . . . and I’d probably have to get a second mortgage if they took the illusory phone-jack plate off the wall and examined whatever is behind it, before declaring that it’s all a fever dream and I should try to get more sleep, sign here, the invoice will follow.

. . but eventually I managed to find the very small print in the handbook that SAYS you can’t turn the ring off the portable handset. It does not, however, tell you why.

There is a radical solution. Next time you want to turn the ringer off (like at night etc) – take the battery out of the handset….          

MESS with the thing?  Give it MORE EXCUSE to misbehave?  And besides, dropping it on the sofa and then flattening a heavy blanket*** over its face is strangely satisfying.


Although for hysterical-making LOUDNESS, any of you have back-up batteries for your desktop computers?

Mrph. We have a whole office full of them. I have insufficient words to explain the delight of them all going off at once.

Oh . . . my.  Sympathies.


… There aren’t bluebells yet, are there? My mom and I carefully planned our late April/early May England trip to try to intersect with bluebells somewhere – south or north, we’re not fussy.  ::chews nails::   But we’ll be happy with whatever we get. I bet there will be, you know, flowers. Maybe even roses by then…

There will certainly be flowers.  I’m interested that Rachel recommends Gloucestershire for bluebells the beginning of May, but they are that little bit more north than us—ours are mostly going over by then.  But for breathtakingly fabulous spring gardens down here in the south I recommend Wisley http://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley . . . camellias . . . mmmmmm . . . camellias.  And also Savill Gardens and Windsor Great Park http://www.theroyallandscape.co.uk/gardens-and-landscape/the-savill-garden which will certainly have bluebells although I’m not sure what stage of out or over they’ll be in.  Unless April is 80°F all month—which I pray most earnestly it will not be—you’re unlikely to see roses yet:  a few of the first species or species-type roses maybe.  Oh, you may have them in London!  London is crazily early—all that ambient fossil-fuel heat brings stuff on.  You can get roses flowering all winter too sometimes.

But have a spectacular trip.  It’s rather a nice country, England†, I’m very fond of it . . . and it’s pretty frelling amazing for gardens.

And in small personal garden news:  my snakeshead fritillaries are coming out.   http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/sep/07/plant-offer-snakes-head-fritillary  Yaaaaaaaay.  It doesn’t get much better for a fumbling amateur gardener in the south of England:  now if only my mysteriously-alive meconopsises stay alive and produce flowers . . . oh yes and all my roses rush out dazzlingly. . . . It’s hard to remember sometimes that I’d only put stuff in the ground for the first time that very last summer in Maine before Peter happened.  Nostalgia?  Not really.  I’d rather be here.

* * *

* Also, I am tired.  For various reasons I’ve been in Wolfgang way too much today but I found myself in Mauncester before the bookshops closed.  And as if sleepwalking I discovered I was striding through a doorway surrounded by bookshelves.  I was looking for something frivolous . . . or possibly knitting.  Which is, of course, not frivolous.    THEIR KNITTING SECTION WAS TERRIBLE.  But I was already upstairs in nonfiction so I caromed from ‘hobbies’^ to ‘music’ where I picked up, not without effort, Michael Steen’s nearly a thousand pages of LIVES AND TIMES OF THE GREAT COMPOSERS and from there, all bent over from the weight, lurched to ‘religion and philosophy’ where I picked up over a thousand pages of Diarmid MacCulloch’s A HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY . . . for balance.  I then fell downstairs, paid, and crawled out the door.  GET REAL, MCKINLEY.  Oh, okay  . . . so I stopped at the yarn shop on my way back to the car park and bought TWO KNITTING BOOKS . . . but they were on sale.^^

. . . Also, in my defense, I’ve been listening to the MacCulloch on Pooka and really need a hard copy crib.  The subtitle is ‘the first three thousand [sic] years’ and a thousand pages isn’t enough.  The stuff just streams by and you’re staring either at your knitting or some assortment of hurtling hellcritter butts and thinking, What?  Who?  When?  Where?  . . . What?

^ I should have realised that any bookshop that categorizes knitting as a hobby will have no clue.

^^ I narrowly escaped buying some yarn also on sale . . . I gave up CATALOGUES+ for Lent, I didn’t give up yarn, books or sales.  Maybe I need to draw the contract up more carefully next year.

+ Yes.  I did this last year.  I need to do it again.  It’s the negotiating that’s so frelling slippery:  a lot of us, myself included, live by catalogues and the internet, and if you’re buying dog food or black cotton socks or The Art of Song Grade Seven for High Voice so you can give your teacher her copy back, it’s fine and great and a time saver and all that.  But browsing . . . especially because I hate paying full postage on only one item . . . which of course the evil red-eyed drooling site proprietors are counting on.  The latest development, or at least I’ve only just begun seeing it, is these frelling little pop-up boxes that say, Only £1,000,000.06 more and you’ll get not only free postage but an aircraft of World War I tea towel and a stuffed penguin!  —GO AWAY. . . . no, wait, I can always use another tea towel . . . STOP THAT.

*** The heavy blanket, in fact, that is still going with me to the monks’ every Saturday night.  You know it’s supposed to get up to SEVENTY DEGREES [F] tomorrow?  I wonder if I dare . . . noooo, the chapel will still be freezing. . . .

† Barring the politicians, the road signs, the broadband availability, and all the other usual things that are wrong with first-world countries in the twenty-first century.

Gardening. Continued. Indefinitely.


So I’m cruising a gardening site because I have no self-control and they’re having a HALF PRICE sale* and I come to the description of something under the ‘cottage garden plants’ category.  The heading describes it as a ‘half hardy annual’.  This means it’ll die if it freezes, but it’ll be toast next winter anyway so your job is only not to plant it out too early now.  And then in the description below the heading you are informed that while it is hardy to 18° F—which is pretty seriously hardy—it would be grateful for a little winter protection which if such is provided it will go on rewarding you with a dazzling floral display for years to come.  Oh?  Yes?  Um.

It’s no wonder people think gardening is complicated and confusing.

* * *

* I didn’t tell you I ordered another eight roses, did I?  Speaking of sales.  Peter Frelling Beales http://www.classicroses.co.uk/ had a loooooong end-of-bareroot-season sale AND THEY KEPT FRELLING SENDING ME REMINDERS.  I KNOW.  I READ YOUR LAST EMAIL, THANKS.  I WISH YOU’D GO AWAY.  THE SALE WAS FOR FORTY PERCENT OFF.  FORTY PERCENT OFF ROSE BUSHES????  YOU CAN’T EXPECT ME TO RESIST—TO GO ON RESISTING—THAT LEVEL OF TEMPTATION, CAN YOU?  Well, I can’t, and it was my credit card.  Besides, I have at least a half-packet of that help-the-roots-to-grow symbiotic fungus stuff left . . .

The thing is I got all those roses I bought from the (relatively) local rose nursery planted and then discovered . . . I still had perennial-shrub sized gaps left.  ‘Perennial shrub’ is a slightly flexible concept in my garden, of course, as is ‘gap’:  it’s surprising what (and how much) you can get to grow in a too-small pot if you keep it fed and watered.  This—right now—is also the most dangerous time of year for me—I’ve probably (finally^) done a certain amount of clearing out of winter detritus:  of last year’s annuals, last year’s failures, and the pruning you should maybe have done last autumn but I didn’t not only because I’m absent-minded and disorganised but because if you have a hard winter some things, including roses, will probably die back some, so if you have to take the last six inches off a three-foot stem that still leaves two and a half feet of live plant which you can prune later on if you want to for shape and so on.  If you cut it down hard last autumn, six inches of dead wood may leave you come spring with three inches of live plant, which is risky.  But I’m not a hard pruner anyway:  I figure if a rose bush wants to be five foot—or fifteen—you’ll make it unhappy by trying to prune it to be three or six.^^

. . . Anyway.^^^  This time of year there is probably bare earth out there.  Bare.  Earth.  In MY garden.  Somewhere I could PLANT SOMETHING.  Or wedge a pyramid of pots into/onto/around.  This goes badly to my head.  Despite the fact that by the end of March I’ve frelling DONE ALL MY SPRING ORDERING.  I DON’T NEED TO DO ANY MORE.  Except that what I’ve ordered is beginning to fade into the dank dark mists of the previous winter during which you wrote out copious lists of possible plant orders as a gesture of hope and belief in the future and a quelling or at least muffling of cabin fever#. And of course I never get around to printing out the invoices## of my final orders. . . .  And then the frelling sale come-ons start appearing in your email. . . .

Coming up ten (gleeeeeeep) years ago, when I bought the cottage, I looked at the Way Too Gardenery a Garden that the previous owner### was leaving me and thought, I am not going to turn this into a Rose Garden.  I am going to evolve it a little more toward Old Fashioned Messy Cottage Garden and away from Plantsperson’s Educational Display . . . but it’s NOT going to be a rose garden with a few pansies.

Well, it isn’t.  It’s a rose garden with a few pansies, clematis, delphiniums, foxgloves, primroses, fuchsias, begonias, dahlias, hellebores, daffodils, hyacinths, a few tulips, one trillium, snowdrops, crocuses, lungwort, corydalis, epimedium, geraniums/pelargoniums/whatsit, two bleeding hearts, snapdragons, cosmos, one hydrangea, one gardenia, daylilies, irises, dianthus, dwarf Japanese maples, Japanese frelling anemones, camellias, dwarf rhododendrons, peonies . . . some other stuff, including several things I either don’t know the name of or have forgotten the name of . . . and a flowering currant, a corkscrew hazel and an apple tree.%  It’s a rose garden with friends.

. . .  It’s okay though.  You can click on the Peter Beales link, the sale is over.  I don’t recommend you sign up for their email list, however, unless you live somewhere Beales won’t ship to.

^ No, no!  You’re supposed to leave your rubbish alone over the winter!  It gives WILDLIFE SHELTER AND FOOD!  ‘Wildlife’ includes the frelling mice I yesterday animadverted, as well as slugs, snails, vine weevils, lily beetles and black spot fungal spores.  And my incredibly spoilt local bird populations don’t eat seed heads or berries or rose hips.  And the bats are hibernating.

^^ There are fashions in pruning as in most things.  Some years I’m in fashion.  Some years I’m not in fashion.  Feh.

^^^ Buckminster, our vicar, gets quite a lot of stick for being easily distracted.  Church services when our vicar is preaching+ have been known to run on quite a while over time because Buck has been chasing hares (again).  I was thinking this Sunday while everyone was giggling that it’s a good thing no one at St Margaret’s—so far as I know—reads Robin McKinley’s Days in the Life.++  Especially Buck himself.  It might give him ideas.

+ You want to get home on time, pray Buck is not preaching.

++ With footnotes.

#  Yes, you can get a cabin-fever equivalent even in the south of England, although in my case anyway the lack of daylight is almost as claustrophobi-fying as not being able to get out the door because of the snowdrifts.+  This winter, of course, the solid wall of falling water that went on for about three months accentuated that shut-in feeling.

+ Pay the guy with the bulldozer scoop on the front of his muscle pick-up who clears your driveway for you promptly.  Never mess with a guy with a bulldozer scoop on the front of his muscle pick-up, especially not in a winter with a lot of snow.

## I’d only lose them.  So why bother.

### Trained horticulturists.  Double feh.

% And I’m TRYING AGAIN with the witchhazel and the magnolia stellata, drat them anyway.  And does anyone know how to get a frelling foxtail lily to FLOWER?  The beastly thing is coming up for the third year in a row but I’ve yet to get a flower out of it.  But three of my meconopsis are alive.  YAAAAAAAY.

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