Peter and I went to Mottisfont today. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont/*
In the sheeting rain. The sheeting rain. Hey, gardens in the rain: the traditional English experience.**
Between Peter’s bridge playing and my bells and singing*** and, you know, earning a living, there aren’t a lot of free(ish) days in any given week. And we’d planned today, including booking the dog minder to give hellhounds their afternoon hurtle.† Peter said, to the drumming of the rain on the roof, what do you want to do? I said, I’ve booked the dog minder, I’m going somewhere. Fine, said Peter, I’ll come with you.
So we went to Mottisfont. It’s after midsummer: the roses won’t keep.
There are advantages to famous public gardens in the rain: you will probably have them to yourselves. There were half a dozen other stalwarts/crazy people there, but Mottisfont in high summer is usually frelling jammed. I shot off more photos in less time than I probably ever have there, and was feeling quite smug till (a) MY CAMERA’S BATTERY DIED†† and (b) I got home and discovered that despite compulsive lens-wiping better than half my photos have large grey raindrop blobs on them. ARRRRRRRGH.†††
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* And we, or at any rate I, have to go back for the E H Shepherd show.
** I should perhaps officially declare that while I like to complain, I don’t actually mind all that much, barring the immediate sulky-hellhound situation, and that not being able to get into the garden at all due either to imminent drowning or the likelihood of being smothered by very happy, very lush foliage does eventually^ make me CRANKY, as does sinking more than ankle deep on any/all local footpaths. Waiting for me to flounder back out of the latest morass also tends to deepen and enrich wet hellhound sulkiness. This is not a self-aggravating cycle likely to make any of us better human/canine beings.^^
But I will take cold and wet to hot and dry ANY DAY. ANY YEAR. ANY CENTURY.
^ ‘eventually’ being one of those mutable concepts
^^ There is possibly nothing more FUN in this world than getting tangled up with some wet aggressive off lead brute whose so-called owner is slogging on with his/her head sunk between his/her shoulders and his/her hood pulled well down against the grievous misconduct of the weather and the screams of the assaulted.+
+ Pam Adams
Perhaps that’s what you need on your hurtles is a bully-bodyguard to protect the hellhounds and you from idiot owners with off-lead dogs.
::Sighs:: Only if I can hire Southdowner as wrangler.
LOL I understand that the hellhounds were worried. I would be too, even though I know that bully terriers are not dangerous.
Well . . . Alex/Southdowner may want to put me right about this but (a) ALL dogs have the potential to be either sweethearts or dangerous and (b) bull terriers were originally bred to be fighting dogs and it’s unwise to forget this. Bullies were actually on my short list when I was between dogs this last time. They do tend to be people dogs, and I like the twinkle in their eyes, and I told myself that I could cope with one. Alex has 1,000,000# bullies and they all get along fine, so it can be done, but Alex is also a professional dog behaviourist and, as she says herself, socialises the bzrgm out of her critters.
# There are photos
*** Nadia is about to go on maternity leave. As you might say, waaaaaaaaaah.
† In this weather it’s easy to tell she’s been. There are streaming harnesses hooked over the rail in front of the Aga, dripping raincoats hanging over the hellhound gate by the front door, and muddy towels on the floor.
†† My camera’s battery died because I took it into the camera shop on my way to Nadia yesterday, to buy a new lens cap, since I have managed to lose mine.^ Not only did they not have a lens cap that would fit, but the Nice Man behind the counter took about twenty minutes to decide he couldn’t figure out how to de-set some of the weirdnesses that this camera has constructed for my benefit. Siiigh. My beautiful no-longer-new camera has not been the greatest success of my life: it has TOO MANY BUTTONS and trying to deal with the thing and (for example) hellhound leads is a disaster, and as I’m frantically juggling all the buttons go squeeeeeeee and reset themselves in fabulous new patterns . . . unknown even to Nice Men behind the counters of dedicated camera shops. Anyway. There had apparently been severe battery drain as the settings all ran around hiding behind things so the Nice Man couldn’t find them.
^ It’s in the garden. Somewhere. Sigh.
†††As I was leaving the garden, Peter having sloshed on ahead for a cup of tea at the café, I met a bloke coming in, carrying a lot of photography equipment and looking gloomy. The rain had got harder over the course of our visit, and was at this point running down the peak of your hood, caroming off your nose and thundering off your shoulders. Gardens in the rain, I said, at least there’s no one else around. Hmmmmm, he said.
It’s sheeting. I’m not complaining. I MUCH prefer deluges to hot—and the worst of hot and dry is the fact that you’re out there watering your garden constantly. Constantly. Especially if you have a little potted-plant problem. Especially if you have a little potted-plant problem and you’re a snob and prefer terracotta pots to plastic. Although I’m getting over this one by sheer force of . . . wanting to be able to do something besides water the garden in hot weather.
But today it meant we didn’t go to Wisley. Sigh. Wisley is the big flagship R[oyal] H[oticultural] S[ociety] garden in Surrey*, and not impossibly far from here, but far enough that I keep chickening out in case we get there and I realise I can’t drive home. Especially because you have to drive on the motorway**. There has been a rumour about a back way for years but no one has ever found it. And the rescue team sent out after the last expedition also disappeared. Wisley exists in a super-dimensional bubble surrounded by foaming toxic desert. Invisible foaming toxic desert. When we were still a two-driver family and still going up to London fairly often we used to make a loop for Wisley pretty regularly.*** That was a while ago. And now. Unh. But I have been having quite a good patch for driving and their roses will be coming out† so we had made plans to meet friends there today.††
Then the weather, which has not been kind to the four days of the Diamond Jubilee, decided it was going to rain some more today. That’s RAIN. None of the peekaboo doodah we’ve been having here lately††† but serious, sky-opening ‡ RAIN. I might have gone anyway because I was all primed for it, but Peter pointed out there were going to be a lot of people on the fourth day of their four-day holiday saying exactly the same thing, and the tea room, the glasshouse and the plant sales were going to be jammed with these determined-to-have-their-outing-so-we’ll-bring-our-life-preservers-what’s-the-problem? folk. Sigh. So we cancelled.
I was in the throes of a serious sulk‡‡ when Penelope rang and said that if we had cancelled Wisley due to meteorological inclemency she had a small alternative to offer. Very small: about three months old. Their youngest daughter lives in Mauncester and has lately produced her first baby. Possibly due to never having been in a position when I couldn’t give it back, I have retained my fondness for babies, and have expressed an interest in meeting Brunnhilde if the opportunity ever presented itself. Brunnhilde was on her first excursion to New Arcadia this afternoon.
So we went round to inspect. I can report her a very satisfactory baby, which is to say that I held her for quite a while and she (a) smiled and (b) didn’t throw up. ‡‡‡
Meanwhile . . . I’d booked my dogminder for this afternoon and I don’t like messing her around—especially since I seem to end up messing her around anyway—so she was still taking hellhounds out for a (wet) hurtle this afternoon. I got back to the cottage about the time I was expecting her to be returning. I am neurotic and I hate being at any of my/our three houses without my hellhounds.§ Well, Mavis hadn’t come back yet. Whimper. So I washed the dishes and put out some more mealworms for the robins and watered all my indoor plants and folded the laundry and listened to the silence§§ and . . . Mavis still wasn’t back with hellhounds. I started to feel Rather Anxious.
Forty minutes after I’d got back to the cottage I phoned her mobile. We’re on our way home now, she said. I’m only just back in signal range. We’ve been out in the wood beyond the Warm Upford common and I got lost. —This is wholly plausible, by the way. The common wood is mostly plantation, and the tree-harvesters are always rearranging the footpaths and you can find yourself . . . on the mythological back route to Wisley, trying to demaze back out of the wood again.§§§ Furthermore in these days of mobile phones, Warm Upford is a dead zone. It’s pretty interesting how quickly you assume you can rely on can useful technology: Mavis was quite freaked out by the fact that she hadn’t been able to phone for help.
But I have my hellhounds back. Whew.
And Niall and Gemma and I ran late, ringing handbells this evening, because our final touch, which we already didn’t have time for but it would break down in a minute or two anyway, ran twenty minutes and came out to rounds at the end. Yaay.#
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** Any British person who wants to tell me the A3 is not a motorway can stick it in their ear. The A3 is a great big fast ugly scary road and as far as I care it is a motorway.
*** We had stopped for lunch and a stroll at Wisley the day we came home and discovered the World Trade Center going down in flames. Just by the way.
† You know the real reason it’s raining just now. My Souvenir de la Malmaison is trying to bloom. She’s in the cottage garden now cackling maniacally and turning into wet grey-brown wodges of mouldy, matted tissue paper. Sigh.
†† So Peter will have someone to talk to while I take notes on the roses.^
^ No, of course I’m not finished yet. Can’t you go have a cup of tea or something? What? Well, go have another cup of tea then.
††† If they’d had the Jubilee flotilla on our river they wouldn’t have got nearly so wet. Although it would have pissed the swans off. But almost everything pisses the New Arcadia swans off.
‡‡ Although it was not at all a bad thing that I was not doing extreme driving today. Siiiiiiigh. I’ve been pushing it the last couple of days and the quality of last night’s shatteredness was ominous, as was the getting out of bed this morning. Getting . . . what? Out . . . what? Unnnnnh.
‡‡‡ I don’t mind screaming tinies so much. The whole birth thing is a ratbag, I understand it takes a long time to become accustomed to the new system. It’s when they get old enough to look at you, and their faces break into an expression of disbelief and outrage before they start screaming, then I start feeling that boarding school till they’re about twenty-five is an optimal plan.
§ The positive way of looking at this is, you have your domestic fauna for company, right? So why shouldn’t you want them around? It’s what they’re for.
§§ Relative silence. There’s an awful lot of chirping going on in the garden. Mealworms! More mealworms! We want mealworms!
§§§ In one of my prior lives as a horse rider I used to get lost in these woods on horseback too.
# We wasted some time over tea and biscuits discussing how we’re supposed to pick up more tower recruits. The arcane-secrets-and-you-have-to-be-crazy aspect of bell ringing is amusing, but in the present day when we need more ringers I think it does us more disservice than service. But we’re at least one up in the recruit department. Katsheare from our very own forum has finally succumbed . . . to being belted about the head and ears with this very blog going on and on and on about bell ringing and is going to give it a yank herself. Yaaaaaaaay. And here is a really good debunking page that she posted the link to: http://allsaintswokinghambells.org.uk/AbRinging/Myths/Myths.html ^
^ Although I like the British understatement of ‘. . . even become quite addictive’. Snork. Also note: ‘The modern Church supports many activities that involve the community outside its own members.’ Yes. There are churches, and probably some of them have bell towers, which are only concerned with their own tithe-paying members, and there may even be some towers that only allow, which is also to say can afford only to allow, church members to ring the bells. Generally speaking it’s a much wider remit. I’m not a Christian, but I do believe in community.
I wouldn’t say that having a stay break, the bell topple over the wrong way and the ringer hanging on to the other end of the rope carried briskly toward the ceiling is vanishingly rare. It happened to me. (Urgent cries of: Let go! Let go!) I’d say that the important point is that while bells are big heavy objects and must be treated with complete and unvarying respect, accidents where anyone gets hurt really are vanishingly rare. (I was not hurt. A little startled, but not hurt. And someone else had broken the stay. But I was enough of a beginner still to need a stay—and the bell fell over backward through the cracked stay.)
And if you’re ringing down slightly faster than you can, it’s quite useful to allow yourself to be lifted tactfully off the floor by the weight of the swinging-down bell . . .
Somewhere on the forum some evil person says ‘if there’s no photo it didn’t happen’. THANKS A LOT, WHOEVER YOU ARE. I thought it was about the leg warmers, but I have just looked through that thread, and if it’s there, it’s hiding, no doubt to escape the wrath of the hellgoddess.* So here are some photos of a Confused Early Summer Garden. From a plant’s perspective, first it was warm, and then it was cold, and then it was warm, and then it was cold, and then it was cold and wet, and then it was very very warm and dry. What’s a poor leafy thing with incipient flowers to do?
Yes, she really is that colour. (Long time readers–and rose growers–already know this. I’ve posted photos of her pretty much every year, I think, because she’s kind of spectacular.) She’s another example of a ridiculously large rose that is very happy in her pot. She’s doing a whole lot better in her pot than she did in the ground back at the old house. She was also about five feet, in the ground at the old house, and easily eight or nine here, the better to embrace me lovingly as I try to get into the greenhouse.
She starts out crimson, and as the flowers get older they turn this amazing purple. And you might notice what, if I were a tacky and vulgar person, I might describe as rose hickeys on my arm. Speaking of loving embraces.
It’s still mostly green. Early and confused, as I said. That big fat pink bud a little to left of centre is Lady of Megginch (who is also happy in her pot, although this is only her third year and the Baron has been there since the beginning, which is seven? Eight? years now), and the stem of little white buds just coming out slightly to her right is what is supposed to be a pink delphinium. Stay tuned.
She’s in a really terrible position (and a pot) without nearly enough sunlight and if she were going to flower at all she should at least do it late and sparingly to drive it home to the gardener that she is being hard done by. But no. She flowers early and lavishly, although there’s not a lot of flowers later. She supposed to be a sort of repeat-flowering version of gallica offinalis. Well, sort of. But with flowers like these and a positive attitude, I am not complaining.
Frelling. Frelling flowering a good eight foot overhead. Arrrgh. She did this at the old house too, but the garden was A LOT BIGGER and you could, you know, stand back away far enough to see all of her. Although one of the reasons I wanted her in this little garden is that she smells divine. Supposing you can drag her down far enough to enjoy it. I’m so cross about the eight-foot main stem with the posy on the end I’m considering lopping it off and bringing it indoors and putting it in a vase. (I am one of these peculiar people who mostly can’t bear to cut flowers.) I got this photo via . . . extreme blood loss. She’s also diabolically thorny, even as roses go.
Having a go at trying to fool you into thinking she’s Queenie. She’s not. (Besides, Queenie always comes out late. Queenie likes coming on with a last-minute burst just when I’m really starting to worry about her.) But she’s pretty fabulous. And like several of her friends and relations, she’s doing better at the cottage than she did at the old house–although she is drastically in the ground here. She’s also reputed to have the strongest scent of any modern-bred rose. I can’t vouch for a lot of roses (no, I haven’t grown them all) but it wouldn’t surprise me.
You can see a small outbreak of my pot mania here. And yes, several of those pots are empty. There are still roses waiting to go in. Ahem. And dahlias waiting to come on enough not to be utterly swamped in a big pot. There’s the last of a pink rhododendron in the lower middle, Sophie’s Perpetual (rose) just coming out slightly above and to the left, the white spots to the right are nicotiana and that small blaze of pink and pale green perched on the yellow pot (waiting to be planted in it) is a variegated fuchsia. The flowers are standard little red and purple dangly things but the leaves are fabulous, and year-round. So long as you remember to take it indoors in winter.
Tell me again that you can’t grow a big rose in a pot? What’s that you say? I can’t hear you. Old Blush also went in my first year here at the cottage. I will say, however, that roses are even hungrier than you realise. I’m sure you can overfeed a rose, but it’s hard. Poor Old Blush took a good bit of the brunt of my learning curve about roses in pots, those first few years. But she seems to have forgiven me.
And she is poised to be fabulous, for the first time since I put her in three years ago, in the next few days. I’ll tell you all about it soon. . . .
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* Who isn’t as young as she used to be, and her mind wanders, even when she’s doing deeply interesting/provoking things like reading forum comments.^
^ She finds herself wondering what Kes and Maggie would think of each other.+
+ Or the Silent Wonder Dog and Mongo. Snork.
** I’m a little worried about Mme Alfred Carriere. Atlas and I hacked her back hard last autumn^ because she was taking over the town, and I think she may be feeling put-upon. But she’s usually one of the early ones, and I can see one flower, hiding behind my neighbour’s chimney.
^ I did the stuff from ground level. Atlas did the twenty foot ladder.
IT IS TOO HOT.* I didn’t sleep particularly well last night and I woke up when Pooka chirruped at me in that ‘text message incoming’ way, which I will sleep through—if I’m asleep.** It was a friend telling me that I’d just been mentioned on Radio Four as an author who had used a hedge as something fairies come through. The things Radio Four thinks of to create programmes around.*** Also, THE DOOR IN THE HEDGE is thirty years old—and sold about thirty copies. However. Whoever that person with a deep and surprising interest in obscure fantasy literature is, thank you.
Meanwhile, it’s too hot. We were promised a Cooling Breeze and what we’ve got is a sirocco. It ripped out the velcroed-on piece of screen in my bedroom window and threw geranium petals gleefully all over the upstairs.† I daresay I should be grateful it wasn’t the geraniums themselves. But everything I laboriously watered this morning wants watering again because hot dry violent winds are . . . violently drying. Various long whippy green things needed tying up NOW before they beat themselves to death and I have a novel to finish in between the handbells and the singing for Oisin. At the end of the singing for Oisin he said mildly, I think it’s time for Phase Two. PHASE TWO? WHAT DOES HE MEAN, PHASE TWO? Seeing me starting to panic, he hurried on: you need to face me instead of facing away.
Ugh. Unfortunately he’s got me on this one. I face away so I’m not flapdoodling overwhelmed both by the fact that he’s the real thing and I’m not and because the piano is so much LOUDER than I am. I’ve got louder, and while a Steinway baby grand is still a whole lot louder, he doesn’t pound the freller, you know? But the crucial thing is that I keep going on in my weedy way about making music with. Making music, if you’re a soloist by neither ability nor personality, is about doing it with someone else. In a choir there’s a lot of you. But when it’s a singer and an ‘accompanist’, the accompanist counts, you know? And of the stuff I sing with/for Oisin, one of my big favourites, and I want to work on it more when I’ve got more to work with,†† is Britten’s arrangement of The Ash Grove, because the accompaniment is so perverse.††† And . . . I just like doing it with. Even when I come in wrong. As I often do.
Okay. Face him. I can do this. I can.‡
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* And I have a non-eating hellhound. Arrrrrrgh. Although I think in this case it has more to do with the ingestion of cat crap than it does with undesirably elevated temperature. This is why I frelling hate cats. I keep trying to tell myself it’s not the cats, it’s their owners—and the frickfracking law that allows people to dump their cats outdoors and let ’em fend however they like.^ And while, yes, most dogs have disgusting habits and the fact that my hellhounds think cat crap is a delicacy is also not the cats’ fault . . . but I don’t want cat crap ALL OVER MY GARDEN. Which is where I have it, at Third House. And so far as I can tell, they have crap rivalries where every neighbourhood cat strains to outdo all the others. The chosen arena is, as it has ever been, Third House. When we went up there this evening about six cats leaped for the fence as hellhounds and I came through the gate—the frelling fence trembled. ARRRRRRGH.^^
Meanwhile, back on the cottage cul de sac, the hellcat has started targeting me. When I’m out front, fussing with my pots^^^, he sits in his driveway, stares at me, and howls. His people are home! I am not necessary to happiness (and food)!
^ If I had a two-pound coin for every person who’s told me complacently that they don’t even have a litter box because that’s what outdoors is for, I could buy the Isle of Wight.
^^ Some forum person said that while if she had to choose, she’d choose cats, but she considers herself a critter person—sure. Me too. And, I suspect, most people who come out for any critter at all. I think it’s that first yes/no that’s the most important—yes I want domestic fauna, yes I want something else in the house that breathes besides my human family+, if any, or no, I don’t. I come down on the dog side, obviously, but I’m anti-cat because they are effectively vermin in this area. I’ve told you, haven’t I, that the black cat that used to live on the corner of the cul de sac used to run under Wolfgang’s wheels, as we came home at mmph o’clock in the morning, so often than I had an actual plan for what I was going to do when I ran over it? ARRRRGH. Fortunately it moved house with its people—but a few weeks ago, coming home at mmph o’clock, a frelling black cat ran under Wolfgang’s wheels at the other end of town, which is where our nemesis moved, and I thought I KNOW YOU.++
+ This does of course also include plant life, even if they’re quieter about it.#
# Someone tweeted me today that she’d love to have a dog but her significant other says that fish are less messy. Hmmm. Okay, you don’t have to sweep every day, but I’d rather sweep every day than clean out a fish tank ever. It’s not just the enormous faff—and the way filters seem to exist to clog up or misbehave in some manner that involves gallons of water all over the floor and/or hidden invidious leaks that suddenly make the ceiling fall in downstairs—it’s the enigmatic quality of fish. Other mammals are hard enough to read. Dogs may wag their tails when they’re happy. Cats may purr. Fish? The clue that a fish is happy is that it’s not dead.
++ The other end of town is closer to the vet. But the middle of the night emergency calls may happen pretty much anywhere in Hampshire depending on who’s on duty.
^^^ And on the subject of the ‘I don’t live here and therefore these people and these people’s property don’t count’ tourist, one of my favourite examples of this behaviour was the day I heard loud voices under my sitting room window and saw one of my rose-bushes lashing back and forth as if it were in the grip of a sirocco, and when I went outdoors to see what the frell was going on . . . discovered some d—— yanking at the bottom of it. There was an extremely anxious-looking woman with the d——. I don’t think I managed to say, What the hell do you think you are doing?: the d—— volunteered brightly, Oh, I’m just taking a cutting. YOU F—— WHAT? I said.+
He was offended. He didn’t like my language. )]#(*&^%£$”!”!!!!! It’s not just cats, you know. I hate people worse.
+ Even aside from questions of courtesy, this is illegal. Most modern roses—although I admit in this case it was not a modern rose, but I doubt this bloke had said to himself or his anxious companion, oh this is an old rose so it’s okay!—have what is effectively copyright on them. I can grow the one I bought, but I can’t clone it and give it away. And he’s stealing.
** Yes, I sleep with my technology. But remember Pooka is the phone number for the emergency button Peter wears around his neck.
*** Although Oliver Rackham’s HISTORY OF THE COUNTRYSIDE is a fabulous book, and has a lot of hedges and hedgerows in it. http://thedabbler.co.uk/2011/08/oliver-rackham-the-history-of-the-countryside/
† And speaking of undesirable indoor behaviour, and in answer to a number of people’s inquiries, I have no idea how my bats are doing. I haven’t seen or heard a whisker of them this year. And while every night I go back to the cottage and there aren’t any small furry frightened exhausted things with wings smashing themselves into the corners^ is a good night, still, I’d like to know they’re all right.^^ I haven’t made a dedicated effort to be, not merely in the garden, but paying attention to the significant corner of the eaves, some twilight, but when they’re in force you don’t have to be paying attention, and I haven’t seen them ducking and diving around either. Maybe they’re just late—because of the funny weather. I had them in April last year, which was early. They’re supposed to reoccupy their nurseries in May.
^ Or unfrightened, unexhausted things swooping around my chandelier.
^^ Speaking of being a critter person.
†† . . . I live in hope. I will run to the end of Nadia’s miracles sooner or later, but I hope it’s later.
††† Mind you, Oisin can provide perverse. When my voice is in a funny mood, which it is in this heat, we often start with a simple, unBrittened folk song. Oisin looks at the accompaniment that even I can almost play, and launches into the ad lib Stockhausen version.
‡ WARNING: TOO MUCH INFORMATION FOLLOWS.
Chaos threw up the extremely unlovely contents of his stomach and then . . . ate his dinner.
That fish tank is suddenly looking pretty good.
Summer arrived like a brick to the head two days ago. WHAM. It is now SUMMER. We have SUNLIGHT.* We have HOT. Don’t we frelling ever have hot. The temperature went from borderline frostbite to borderline heatstroke in about eighteen hours. Hellhounds are cross. I’m cross.** The garden says, Whooooa, finally, and is rushing out pretty much visibly. It (or they) also say: WATER. WATER ME. WATER ME NOW. WATER ME AGAIN. WATER ME MORE.*** It’s been such a peculiar year, with a mild winter and then suddenly weeks of frost and then no rain for weeks and then nothing but rain for weeks . . . punctuated by the occasional decorative little further frost how charming. This year’s geraniums, for example, which usually get on with it with great dispatch, have done nothing, and a lot of my annuals have done so poorly I’ve gone so far as to reorder some of them.† Meanwhile, even in a garden the size of mine at the cottage there are areas that are working and areas that have clearly gone over to the dark side.†† Most of the edges at the moment look rather pleasing††† but the centre is . . . the sort of place you need Flowerhair and Doomblade‡ to cut you a swathe through first. Rules to live by: I don’t care how hot it is, do not garden in shorts in a very small garden that is TOO FULL of roses. The phrase ‘bleeding from every pore’ occurs to me here. OWWWWW.‡‡
Which totally explains why I finally finished sewing up my first pair of leg warmers a couple of nights ago, pretty much simultaneously with the temperature soaring like a . . . raptor on an updraft.‡‡‡ I FINISHED SOMETHING! I HAVE FINISHED MY FIRST KNITTING PROJECT! YAAAAAAAAAAY! —And we’re not going to get into the ‘leg warmers? You know it’s summer, don’t you?’ thing, are we? Hey. In the first place . . . And your point would be? In the second place, anyone who knits knows that things take time, and autumn is coming, and I need at least two pairs by September. In the third place . . . I get these people saying things like, oh, I’m sure you’re ready to tackle something more challenging, you should knit a cardigan. Actually, since you ask, I am knitting a cardigan.§ But I am not going to carry a cardigan around with me, and leg warmers are small and fit into even a small, discreet knapsack. Some people knit socks. Some people knit leg warmers.
And I want you to know that it is only my extreme sense of blog duty that compelled me to put LEG WARMERS ON IN THIS WEATHER. Not to mention ripping a couple of the afternoon’s fresh scabs off in the process. Arrgh.
* Gosh. Sunlight.
** But then I’m always cross. Hellhounds are mostly not cross.
*** A bit like robins and mealworms. And the first nest produced at least two fledglings who have grown to full size (although they’re still stripey: stripey is good, though, the moment they show any red their parents will revert to territorial little despots, and run them off) because two of them were in the courtyard yesterday having adolescent tantrums at the kitchen door because the Mealworm Lady owes them. I don’t know why it’s so funny—or at least I find it funny—seeing adolescents acting like nestlings. From their perspective, they learnt that this is the behaviour that got them fed when they were babies, why shouldn’t they go on using something that works? Although if they’re doing it at me, it may mean that dad is now fully occupied with the Second Nest, and it’s not working so well any more. Wherever the Second Nest is. Hmmph. My nose is out of joint too.
† In the hope that this will inspire the current tenants to pull themselves together and thrive. Best trick of the season is that I have one snapdragon that came through this winter outdoors. Snapdragons, while tender, hate being indoors, either the indoor jungle thing at the cottage, or the green/summer/house/shed at Third House. This one is on the shelf in front of the kitchen window at the cottage where it should be getting a fair amount of heat leakage and it’s tucked in behind one of my you-don’t-mean-you’re-growing-that-in-a-pot roses^ which is probably as effective as bubble wrap. Whatever. It survived. And it’s blooming, the gallant thing. Pink. Yaaaay.
^ Phyllis Bide. http://www.davidaustinroses.com/english/showrose.asp?showr=685 She really likes her pot. She was more modest and tactful growing up a pillar at the old house.
†† And Third House . . . . aaaaaaaugh. AAAAAAAUGH.
I have limited time for gardening because I have a novel to finish. So that I can have more backlist in the attic.
††† Because I’m seriously potbound in the cottage garden anyway I’ve indulged myself in a few of the acid-lovers I can only grow in pots—camellias, for example, and little rhododendrons/azaleas^, and while I probably shouldn’t say this out loud at the moment I have several live meconopsis^^—and my latest insanity is little Japanese maples.^^^ I’ve had one since I moved into the cottage but they’ve become fashionable so I keep seeing them everywhere and I already had a tendresse, not to say weakness. I bought two tiny fronds of things this winter#, and they’re now busy putting out leaves and becoming tiny ebullient fronds of things. One of them has deeply cut dark red leaves and is beautiful and elegant . . . and the other one has hot pink young leaves with an emerald green edge and is about the cutest thing I have ever seen in my life.
^ But don’t tell Peter, because he hates them.
^^ Blue Himalayan poppy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meconopsis They are amazing in person. They are also a mega-mega-mega sod to grow.
^^^ There is a rumour they don’t need acid soil. I suppose if I’m going to start collecting the frellers I should find out.
‡ ::MAJOR SELF-REFLEXIVE ALERT::
‡‡ This is not assisted by frelling Chaos coming out and looking at me interestedly every time I make an unseemly noise. It’s so hot the kitchen door is open, of course, but the courtyard is full of little green things in process during a gardening afternoon, and hellhounds are extremely de trop.
‡‡‡ There are probably important boundaries about self-reflexivity. So you don’t fall up your own fundament.
§ Give me a minute. I’m not going to tell you everything all at once.