June 11, 2014

Shadows is here!

Wolfgang my hero

 

 

Yes.  The hatchback closes too.

Yes. The hatchback closes too.

 

One of the nasty little surprises awaiting me at Third House* was the FRELLING BOXES OF OLD PAPER FILES.  Crushed frelling boxes, just by the way, since they’d got mixed up with the backlist.  But when Atlas was loading up his trailer to take backlist to the storage unit last autumn I asked him to set anything that wasn’t book boxes aside.  And then life happened and the last few months Atlas has seen more of Third House than I have.**

It’s quite amazing how much STUFF is left after you’ve emptied a house.  Curtains.  Rolled up rugs.  Bits of china you never liked and hadn’t decided what to do with.  BOOKS THAT MUST BE SORTED.  It’s also quite amazing how many old files I seem to have.  Speaking of things that need sorting.

Twenty or thirty years ago when I was buying filing cabinets in Maine you could get black ones.  Or grey ones.  Or black.  Or grey.  Or . . . I bought black.  But I did not love them, and I left them behind because standard British paper is longer than standard American paper and it wasn’t going to fit in standard American filing cabinets.  I had a gorgeous old wooden filing cabinet at the old house, its only drawbacks being that it took ten strong men and a team of eight Shire horses to move it and that the drawers kept falling off their rails.  It then declined to fit through the door at Third House.  MORE ARRRGH.  So I sold it, and put the files in cardboard boxes.  Which I was going to deal with.  Later.

Well.  It’s later.  And I have to WEDGE everything I had sprawled all over Third House into the attic because the ground floor is now Peter’s.***

I went on line.  I searched for two-drawer filing cabinets, because they have to fit under the eaves that make the attic a living space for people who like crawling around on their hands and knees.  COLOURED FILING CABINETS.  COLOURED FILING CABINETS.  Be still my heart.  So I bought a PINK one.  Of course I bought a pink one.  Two pink ones is so obvious however so I bought a yellow one.†   Yaaay.

Except that the on line description says ‘self assembly’.  Golly, I thought, nuts and bolts.  But I have my secret weapon, Atlas, so, fine.  I ordered.  And I had them delivered to the cottage because of the whole WHAT DO YOU MEAN DELIVER TO AN ADDRESS NOT ATTACHED TO YOUR CREDIT CARD AND OF COURSE WE AREN’T GOING TO TELL YOU WHEN WE’RE ARRIVING SO YOU CAN GET UP THERE TO ACCEPT DELIVERY.  WHICH WE WON’T LET YOU HAVE ANYWAY BECAUSE IT’S NOT THE ADDRESS ATTACHED TO YOUR CREDIT CARD thing.

I don’t know what the self-assembly part is but two filing cabinets arrived today.  I looked at them and my heart sank.  I wasn’t at all sure even one of them lying on its side would fit in Wolfgang’s boot.

Wolfgang, my hero.

* * *

* That’s aside from the fact that we’re going to have to RIP OUT BOOKSHELVES to get Peter’s desk into his office.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE.  What is wrong with it is that the second, smaller bedroom is now a staircase with a little angular wodge of semi-usable space around it.  Arrrgh.  Building regs^ ARRRRRRRGH.  And Peter is so inconvenient as to have a LARGE desk.  Why can’t he just balance his laptop on his knee?  Feh.  Half a wall of bookshelves has to go.  Misery.

^ For anyone who wasn’t reading the blog then:  I wanted to put a WEIGHT BEARING FLOOR in the attic for all the BACKLIST.  As soon as you put in a weight-bearing floor the Building Regulation Goons are all over you.  A weight-bearing floor means living space, never mind you can’t stand up in it.  Or that it’s going to be full of boxes of books.  Living space means you have to have a proper staircase.  Good bye, second bedroom.

** Mowing the grass, propping up the frelling FRELLING boundary fence so next door’s evil little ratbag terrier doesn’t keep getting through and crapping all over my garden,^ taking over the garden shed with boy tools.

^ Evil little spiky-haired ratbag terriers are an entirely different, monumentally inferior order of being from, you know, bull coughcoughcough terriers.

*** This happens to involve carrying all 1,098 crushed boxes of files up the stairs to the attic again.

† I probably need three or four.  I’ll worry about that LATER.

Sweet peas and singing

 

I’ve been planting sweet peas and singing.  My poor neighbours.  Theodora is very usefully deaf* and Phineas seems to think I’m fun to watch and possibly even listen to.**  I do keep it down a little when I’m out front;  I don’t want the military chappie over the road to decide to test the army’s new long-range assault weapon at home.***  This is the time of year when my garden suddenly gets away from me.  There’s usually a misleadingly serene several weeks in early-mid spring when I think I’m finally going to get it together this summer . . . and I have managed to keep throwing out the ever-better this-season’s plant sales BUY BUY BUY BARGAINS TOO GOOD TO MISS catalogues which is where I usually lose it drastically†, especially during those disorienting few weeks in spring when there are gaps where I can see actual bare dirt,†† and the careful, all-at-once-so-I-can-remember-what-I’m-doing orders of the previous winter have faded perilously in my memory.  Despite this unnatural restraint I still seem to have an awful lot of thriving baby and adolescent plants out there.

So it’s been a beautiful day and there are all these trays of no-longer-so-little plants gasping to go into something a little more permanent.  The sweet peas have indeed rioted on to a degree I wasn’t expecting and have all plunged through their crumbly pressed-paper plant-as-is pots and reached little white roots into the surrounding compost . . . oops.  Sweet peas hate root disturbance and these will now sulk for weeks††† . . . and if any of them does send out a questing tendril, you can be sure it will snake along the ground and then twist up the wrong frelling thing.  Bamboo stakes?  Boring.  Garden wire run through eye-bolts in the house wall?  Vulgar.  Iron railing uprights?  Feh.  Other plants?  . . . Possibly.  But only things like snapdragons and petunias, not sensible things like roses and my little corkscrew hazel.

Gardening.  It’s still critters, just more green and less fur.

* * *

* Her daughter isn’t, but she gets home latish . . . although not late enough this time of year when the sunlight goes on and on and you can be in the garden till nine.  I admit that by 8:30 if you’re not noticing it’s getting dark you’re really determined not to pay attention^, but this can be arranged.

^ You probably don’t want to be weeding at this stage:  all little green things look alike in twilight.  You can certainly be potting on however.  Some day I will get electricity put into my greenhouse . . . and then I can stay out there all night.+

+ With the bug zapper on high.  ZZZZZZZSST. #

# Why are bugs so STUPID?  And this includes nice bugs~ like bees.  I know that house flies exist to be annoying and mosquitoes are after you, but bees, say, they fly into your dark house and make a pass through your kitchen and rather than saying, oh, wow, bad choice, and turning around and flying back out through the door again, they fly straight past the open door, duck around the frame, and bash themselves against a window.  I had one of those small-dog-sized bumblebees~~ fly into the cottage kitchen this afternoon and mosey around like a medium-sized zeppelin.  And she would not leave.  I finally put a glass over her and took her outdoors like a bouncer dealing with the last partygoers.~~~  From the names she called me through the glass she was not amused.

~ A generic term for chitinous critters.  Because I say so.=

= Back, taxonomists!  You’re not wanted!  Back, back!

~~ Pav and I met the Yorkshire terrier lady this afternoon while we were out for some hurtling.  I made the mistake of telling a friend a few days ago what a nice dog Pav has turned into and she’s been possessed by forty demons ever since.  It was by email!  It’s not like Pav heard me!  The Yorkie lady is a big Pav fan although on days like today that takes some concentration.  Anyway I swear my bumblebee was larger than either of the Yorkie lady’s little bundles of fluff.

~~~ I suppose I should make exceptions for bees that I find climbing into my indoor flowers.  I wouldn’t have thought there was anything to have off your average windowsill geraniums, but I’ve seen bees trying.   Also popular are cut garden flowers—as opposed to florists’ flowers—bees appear to believe that nectar and pollen go on being viable even in a vase.=

= These are deadheading accidents, you realise.  CUT flowers for the house??  Cut them OFF THE PLANT?  Are you KIDDING?

** Also I feed his cat for him—the orange ex-hellkitten^—when he’s away.  He wants to stay on my good side.

^ He’s so little.  He’s not huge even as ordinary domestic cats go—he’s probably the small side of average—but if you’re used to dogs, if you have dogs twining up your ankles most of your life+, cats are such delicate little things.  I realise this is an illusion but in terms of sheer weight even Pav is about three cats’ worth.

+ Nat on the forum asked if the hellhounds are whippets.  I thought this was in ‘about’# but apparently it isn’t.  Surely I’ve told you that they’re seven-eighths whippet and one eighth deerhound##?  Well, it ought to be in ‘about.’  Furthermore I’ve forgotten all about putting poor Pav in.  Not to mention Christianity, Street Pastoring and the Samaritans—or even voice lessons.  So one of these nights I’m not writing a blog post I’d better update ‘about’.

Oh, and hellhounds are also ‘entire’ as they call it over here—they still have their testicles—which entirety also makes them a little bigger and sturdier than most whippets.  The whippets and whippety dogs that look like they’re made out of pipe cleaners were often neutered too young.

# Top bar of the opening page of the blog

## Sighthounds are notoriously bad eaters.  Of sighthounds, deerhounds and Salukis are notoriously notoriously bad eaters.  SID EATS.  Wish fulfilment?  Sure.  That and cliff hangers are why I enjoy KES.

*** And the evil vargleglunger over the back wall, the one with the shed with the tarpaper^ roof that sticks up over the wall and ruins my view, I should spend more time on that back border and learn the Queen of the Night to accompany my efforts.  Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen!  Hört, Rachegötter!!

^ Well it looks like tarpaper, which is to say ugly

† Speaking of windowsill geraniums, I have spent YEARS telling myself I will get all the geraniums^ off the windowsills and outdoors^^ this summer to be pruned and repotted and given some real sunlight, which geraniums usually like, before that irritating fellow Winter shows up again and spoils it.   THIS YEAR I’m going to get . . . at least some of them outdoors.  I am.

^ And begonias, poinsettias, spiky cacti, and various random houseplants

^^ the Christmas cacti and the hibiscus can stay indoors since they’ll have palpitations if I try and persuade them that photosynthesis is good and the sun is their friend

†† Or in my garden, I-just-frelling-cleared-there weeds, self-propelling courtyard gravel, and glimpses of all the plumbing in Hampshire.^

^ But you know I could use a few more petunias.  And maybe begonias.  I seem to have underordered.+ And I need to get back to the garden centre, I’m still waiting for my snapdragons.  Snapdragons are necessary.

+ HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

††† IN MY DEFENSE I’ve gone on bringing them in at night off and on till this week, and I’m still bringing the basil^ and the recently-arrived chocolate cosmos indoors overnight.

^ Basil always says, England?  England?  Are you kidding me?  You’re expecting me to burgeon and produce fragrant Mediterranean leaves here?  YES.  I DO.  AND HERE’S A NICE HOT SUNNY KITCHEN WINDOW LEDGE.  SHUT UP AND GROW.

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 . . .

MY NEW WASHING MACHINE FINALLY ARRIVED.

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.

BUT THEY DID IT.

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.

It’s only Wednesday

 

I’m beginning to feel cursed.  You already know about the temporarily comatose Wolfgang and the definitively dead washing machine*.  Last night/this morning at five a.m. my smoke alarm decided it needed a new battery.  Aaaaaaaugh.  So you’re dragged out of a deep, satisfying sleep (!) by this frelling chirping noise . . . and first you have to decide you’re not imagining it because in fact you weren’t really experiencing deep, satisfying sleep because deep, satisfying sleep is not among your skill set.  Then, having more or less decided that it is a real noise and not the sound of all your brain cells clicking together like billiard balls, and wondering if you need to wake the hellterror and bring her upstairs so she can find the source of this alleged real noise for you**, and you are in the arduous process of getting out of bed*** because one way or another this must stop, it slowly manifests in your sleep-raddled mind that the only thing in your experience that makes a noise like that is a smoke alarm that wants its zonking battery changed.  They programme them to make this decision while you should be asleep, right?  I think possibly they programme them to study the household first so as better to ascertain when horizontal bed time most often occurs:  if you’re a farmer with cows to milk you might well be awake and on your second cup of coffee by five.

So then you get to stagger around trying to remember where you might have stashed one of those frelling square batteries that almost nothing else uses but you’re pretty sure you do have one because you’ve been here before, although it’s so long ago you don’t remember where you put the spare battery . . .  but this is one of those super-frellers that if you try to unplug it so you can deal with it in the morning the BACK UP BATTERY kicks in and there’s no courteous, mild little cheeping, it screams death, dragons, disaster, debacle and defeat and the back up battery itself is one of those horrible tiny round things that you need a Special Tool to open the door of and it doesn’t open and it doesn’t open and it doesn’t open possibly because you have no idea where your Special Tool is and are using a 5p piece and then when you finally do wrench it open the battery leaps out and rolls under the table.  Where you have to be sure to retrieve it before the hellterror eats it.  But the whole teeny stuck battery-hatch thing is not going to happen at 5 a.m. since neither my fingers nor my eyes are up to that much focussing so we’re back to finding a new square battery for the main event.

Okay.  I found it.  I reattached the little wires.  I shut the barglegleebing plastic battery door.  Silence fell.† AT WHICH POINT I DECIDED I WAS GOING TO TURN THE RING ON MY NEW PHONE OFF.  So I could, you know, sleep.  I used to do this regularly on the old machine:  unplug the phone from the machine, the machine silently picks up messages, and the phone doesn’t ring.  YOU CAN’T TURN THE RING OFF ON MY NEW PHONE/ANSWERPHONE.  Who the freaking double grasking whatsit argle frell figured that one out?  THAT YOU CAN’T MAKE YOUR PHONE NOT RING?  The ‘base’ unit will allow its ringtone to be turned off.  Not the portable.  You can turn the volume down—which, just by the way, is about as effective as turning a barking hellterror down—but you can’t turn it off.  Eventually I buried the thing under the sofa cushions and (finally) went back to bed. . . .

* * *

* And—just by the way—Pooka continues to refuse to pick up the internet when we’re away from our home wifi.  I can have all the little ‘signal’ bars that there’s frelling room for dancing the fandango and singing ‘I feel pretty’ and Safari just sits there saying ‘Nope.  And you can’t make me.’  Since Astarte doesn’t have a mobile connection THIS IS VERY IRRITATING.  And yes, while it’s true that we’re all overconnected out of our tiny minds, it IS CONVENIENT, while you’re waiting for something to happen, to be able to whip out your tech of choice and check, for example, on the weather.  You are (let’s say) a quarter mile from your car and your umbrella is still in the car.  Frell frell frell frell frell.^

^ I was at a meeting tonight# and I got there about fifteen minutes early because I’d been worried about the traffic and/or getting lost.  So having failed to check the weather I . . . of course . . . got out my knitting.  I think everyone else in the room commented##:  knitting as nonthreatening topic of conversation among a bunch of strangers waiting for something to happen.

It was the kind of meeting where your fearless leader decides that you should start with something that makes you talk to each other.###  So she passed out sheets of paper headed:  Find Someone In the Room Who . . . and it’s a list, like, has moved house in the last year, plays a musical instrument, loves Marmite.  The first thing on the list was:  ‘knits’.  Nine pairs of eyes immediately swivelled to focus on my name tag.

# And no I wasn’t rained on on the way back to Wolfgang.

## But no one else got out their knitting.  Everybody keeps telling me how popular knitting is.  I sure hang out in the wrong crowd.

### NOOOOOOOO.  NOT MORE CONVERSATION WITH STRANGERS.  “IT’S A BIG SQUARE SCARF” AND “YOU JUST KEEP KNITTING—IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GORGEOUS YARN” IS AS FAR AS I GO.

** There’s no use in asking the hellhounds.  They would open one eye, say eh, it’s a noise, and close the eye again.

***. . . while reluctantly deciding that hellterror involvement is a bad idea.  She’s very good at finding and pointing things out, it’s just that a crucial element of the pointing-out process is barking at them and while my semi-detached neighbour is a paragon of tolerance and patience I think a hellterror paroxysm at 5 a.m. might be pushing it.

† Except for hellterror snores.

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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