I hope he has an indoor job too. Bookbinding or something.
YAAAAAAAAAAY. And I am LONGING to get the greenhouse put back together. It’s not like it’s ever tidy but for example I’m planting roses and my bone meal [fertilizer] has disappeared. The greenhouse may not be tidy but I can find stuff.* And if I don’t get my potting table back soon I’m going to need a kidney belt.
But I need Atlas to put the shelf back up, re-line the wall that is shared with Theodora’s summerhouse, and heave the table back into place—at the moment it’s sitting next to/under Souvenir de la Malmaison, who is beginning to stir out of her winter sleep and will engulf the thing if it doesn’t get moved soon.**
So what happens? That selfish ratbag Atlas chose to get FLU this week. How thoughtless can a man be?
Meanwhile, in another part of the forest. . . .
Cottage front steps. And the daffs are Tete a tete and they smell. It’s like, you know, spring.
And those adorable purple and orange pansies . . . spent the winter in the plastic trays I originally bought them in. Bad me. I fed them a couple of times–clearly–but only potted them up last week and they’ve all gone like WOW. Now, speaking of my bad luck with pansies, these are just common-or-garden variety garden centre pansies–and spent the winter in their shop trays. What are we betting that they’ll have taken over the front of the house by next year?
In the stair picture, if you were standing on the left of the photo facing the house, the fritillaries are in a little mostly-empty planter (which will have a great throbbing dahlia in it later on if all goes well) to the right of the daffodils.
Maybe I’ve got it all wrong about pansies. Maybe they like being neglected and left to cope in heinous conditions and all this careful soil mix and good drainage thing is inaccurate and misguided.
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** She’s already practising for atrocities to come by making small dangerous snatches at me as I try to sneak past her.
So. We finally have some SPRING WEATHER. You know, sunlight. Remember SUNLIGHT [you other British* people]? Yes. Also, it’s warm enough to need only one woolly layer under your coat and longjohns are optional.** And my sweet pea seedlings aren’t dead yet although they’re a little paler than desirable, since I don’t get up early and it’s still too cold to put them out even after I become capable of carrying a tray of plants outdoors (probably) without dropping them.
. . . And it’s the WEEKEND. Which most people would find a DESIRABLE TIME to have some spring weather. But WALL MEN DO NOT WORK ON WEEKENDS.
I cannot WAIT to have a greenhouse again. Under my guardianship the greenhouse has always looked as if someone fought a duel to the death in it recently*** but I could find stuff. I was out there today, trying to pot stuff on and snarling because I can’t find anything. I’m also worrying about my robins. Where are they nesting, this brutally cold year? † I hope they’ve found a greenhouse that less resembles Waterloo Station at rush hour.
It’s a nice modest travelling sized cement mixer. It reminds me of the stepping-stone moulds I bought at/for the old house, in the implementation of which a modest travelling sized cement mixer would have been a necessary adjunct. It’s probably just as well I never tangled with a cement mixer.
* Okay, okay. British resident people. Happy?
** Less optional now the sun has been down for a while. I still have the evening double hurtle to look forward to, I’m wearing mine.
*** Everyone lost. But the rubble remains. Rather like having your wall fall down.
† Some little fluffy feathery thing was trying to get in through the kitchen window this morning while I was sitting close to the Aga to eat breakfast. It kept coming back, clinging to one or another of the wooden pane frames, and staring inside. Was it hoping its reflection was a potential romantic attachment? Or did it just want to sit by the Aga too?
Pav is cycling, or gyrating, through another phase of, Jeans legs and shoelaces, pulling on; and I mean PULLING. ON. —which is interesting when Mavis is walking her because Mavis tends to wear leggings. I happened to be there today when Mavis was trying to get her out the door and . . . it was pretty funny. Anyway. I am a silly person, I consider dogs to be entertaining companions with a slightly unfortunate take on acceptable social behaviour, and I seem to like the ones who don’t pop out of the womb dying to be trained to DO SOMETHING. One of my theories of surviving puppyhood is that puppies do in fact grow out of a surprising amount of their most appalling behaviour*, and you keep mildly insisting they learn where the end of their frelling extending lead is, that they come when called**, and that they sit when you tell them to***, and hey, you let as much of the rest of it go by as you can without losing any major body parts or pieces of architecture. So when Pav decided to take me for a walk this morning by my right pants leg I said fine, whatever. She in fact divided her attentions between the jeans-hem and the shoelace on that side. I didn’t think a lot about this because I knot my laces several times and a wodge that size resists being compressed past being untied again. Oh. Woe. When I got home again I discovered that she’d managed somehow to subvert the laws of physics and created a Whole New Category of Gordian knot, this one with eleven dimensions and a chorus line. I tucked the frayed dangling ends together somehow and pelted off in pursuit of the rest of my day . . .
Which culminated tonight in a FREEZING COLD CATHEDRAL† listening to Harry Christophers’ The Sixteen being unbelievable.†† If you like this kind of music, it doesn’t get better.††† But because of my little shoelace problem I couldn’t wear my sheepskin boots tonight: I was stuck with my drafty canvas All-Stars. I took my knitting, of course. And my hands were perfectly happy, knitting, and wearing a pair of Jodi Meadows’ fingerless mitts.‡
My feet are still cold.
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* Sometimes several times
** The audible jingle of kibble in the hand is a perfectly acceptable training aid, including that when your hellcritter is too far away to hear it any more^ she will still respond to the sight of your wildly shaking hand. Which is only shaking to make the kibble rattle together, okay? Right.
^Well, I think. I have no idea how spectacularly acute dog hearing is.
*** I am really not doing this right because she so makes me laugh. Our ‘walk’ command which is to say walking on a short loose lead as opposed to official ‘heeling’^ is not one of our best tricks but unless the weather is unspeakably dire and/or the Wild Hunt is bearing down on us from behind I do make her ‘sit’ before she’s officially released . . . to practise learning where the end of her frelling extending lead is. Sometimes she sits beautifully—I think I’ve told you that she’s got it that ‘sit’ usually does get her something she wants, so she has started sitting spontaneously and hopefully when she thinks something desirable may be impending, like, you know, FOOOOOOOD—and sometimes she does not sit beautifully. Sometimes she just stands there and stares at me—because by this time I’ve got her chin in my hand and we are looking at each other. There’s nothing quite like being stared at by the miniature Mack truck which is a hellterror. We could be here a while, I say, at which point she usually does sit.^^
^ For some reason my fingers just typed helling
^^ She is so not the spirit and essence of obstinacy, the way the bull-terrier mythology runs. She’d much rather have a good time than demand her own way. You can see the wheels turning behind the little beady eyes: Oh drat the woman, she’s going to insist.
But, you know, obstinacy? I have grown up in a hard dog-ownership school. I have sighthounds. Although I don’t think it’s exactly obstinacy. When Pav stares at me and considers not sitting, she is thinking about laying her will against mine, she just decides against it because life is short. Sighthounds are all la-la-la did you say something? Sighthounds, as opposed to being born LONGING TO BE TRAINED TO DO SOMETHING are born autonomous. Which, as many working sighthound owners have pointed out, makes perfect sense in terms of the job they were bred to do: run things down and kill them. To do this successfully they have to be able to use their own judgement: their human may be miles away at the kill.
I SO NEED A SIGHTHOUND. The Border Collies can’t catch the little sods. (Unless a hare was very very unlucky where it was situated).
Well, what are you waiting for? GET A SIGHTHOUND. You are going to have to train it to come back to you—there is a lot of rather dreadfully amusing training text out there about getting a sighthound’s attention and convincing it that obeying you is a good thing to do. (Mine are perhaps the extreme end, but they are not at all unusual in being totally resistant to food as bribes, I mean, training rewards.) You want something from a good working line, but you’d know that. And for the rest . . . hares are tricky, but a (good working) sighthound will figure out a strategy. You build its confidence first by letting it catch lots of stupid bunnies. Chaos frelling caught the first (stupid) bunny he ever went after. Well weren’t we all very startled (especially the bunny).
And Mrs Redboots, this area is rotten with brown hares. This time of year you just about have to knock them out of the way with sticks, as well as have your hellhounds on short lead more than either you or the hellhounds appreciate when you’re out in the countryside where you’re supposed to be able to run around. We have thickets of hares, skylarks, and bluebells— and it’s been like this for the twenty-one-and-a-half years I’ve lived here—but all of them are endangered, so they say. We’ve also got dormice, water rats and otters, and I think some rather nice little wild orchids. I mean, I know we have little wild orchids, but I think they’re considered nice ones. It’s a good area. I like living here. I’ll like it better when the weather warms up.
† I seem to specialise in freezing-cold places of worship. This was not in the plan.
†† http://www.thesixteen.com/page/the-choral-pilgrimage-2013 I don’t get to their choral-pilgrimage tour every year, but more often than not. And now that Nina and Ignatius live in the area we can sometimes hoick Peter by the armpits and make him come along. As tonight.
††† I’ll take a grown-up soprano over a kiddie soprano any day. I realise this is heretical, but I don’t much like child sopranos. They sound sort of squishy and creepy. You need some weight of both years and size to bring it off—to my ear.
‡ http://www.jodimeadows.com/?page_id=804 No, Jodi made mine. I am an unadvanced beginner, and I don’t do cables.
The big courtyard at the mews is almost never empty. The car jigsaw usually runs to about nine, and if some resident is so imprudent as to desire the attendance of someone who drives a van or (horrors) a lorry, negotiations of the most delicate nature are required, and probably the services of an astrologer are hired as well. So yesterday when IT WAS EMPTY I couldn’t resist. You didn’t get these photos yesterday, however, because the one of herself and Chaos sparring made the Funny Patch* on her head look like a remake of Attack of the Mushroom People, so I asked Blogmom to fuzz it over a little**, and she couldn’t do it right away.
You can also see a shadow of the cranky, supercilious uncle face on Chaos.
Although it creeps up on you, that your puppy is growing. I mean, of course you know she’s growing, it’s what puppies do. Also she WEIGHS MORE than she used to, when you snatch her up away from the ravening jaws of some off lead thug. Oh, he just wants to play! says the BRAINLESS IRRESPONSIBLE owner. I know what playful dog body language looks like. This isn’t it. Although the snatching up in such cases is made dazzlingly easy because your adrenaline level just rocketed. Which means that five minutes from now you’re going to have to find something to sit down on–draping your gigantic hellterror over your knees, so she can’t find any distressing substances to eat while you’re seeing stars.
Also note snarky uncle face.
There isn’t a mean bone in her entire hyperactive little body (also the hellhounds simply have the legs on her, although she has an impressive sudden-little-dashes facility) and mostly she plays with Chaos because he will play with her. But it has not escaped her attention that Darkness is fun to tease.
But I don’t think they care.
Fortunately hellhounds are pretty good about turning around and coming back when the hellgoddess hastily sucks in her breath and SCREAMS.
You could maybe give it a try some time.
Woosilly woosilly woosilly woosilly. Or thereabouts.
Maybe he’s worrying about how gigantic she’s getting.
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* Which is diminishing nicely, and should be gone in another week or so.
** No, of course I don’t know how to do it myself. I can crop. That’s ALL I can do.
It lives. I hope.
The low curved brick wall you can see isn’t the new wall, it’s the remains of the flowerbed Theodora had against the back wall of her garden. The beginning of The Wall is the lower brick work this side of it.
USUALLY there’s about a foot and a half of sand in the gap between the little low front wall and the back wall of the greenhouse. This is the second time poor Atlas has had to dig it all out. My predecessor put in the greenhouse, and this was a plunge bed–where you put plants in pots up to their brims (hence plunge) to give them more insulation than just their pots provide. But she didn’t line it, and the part of the wall that is the back wall of Theodora’s summerhouse started coming through black mould on her side from damp sand on my side. Charming. So Atlas dug it all out, lined the trench, and put it all back again. And the lining did stop the plunge-bed sand from being part of the merry frolic in poor Theodora’s garden when the wall exploded.
The tiny sliver of salmon pink in the upper left hand corner peering over Theodora’s summerhouse is my cottage. I BOUGHT IT THAT COLOUR. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH IT BEING PINK.*
And just out of the frame in the lower left-hand corner I have double hellebores and snowdrops flowering like mad. I’ll try and get some photos of them too.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to bed early. In theory I’m getting up at unearthly o’clock tomorrow morning to make another run at Aloysius’ once a month EARLY silent prayer service. Aren’t there any Cults of Night I could join?
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* Of course I didn’t immediately have it repainted either. Eight years later however it needs repainting. Somehow I think it’ll probably stay pink, although I might make the depth of colour a little more intense. . . . ^
^ Also: token footnote. So no one complains about the lack of footnotes.