August 7, 2016


Here’s a question for you: if you have become a sort of vegan-paleo-alkaline-raw-foodie person, what the jolly doodah do you eat coming off a savage bout of stomach flu?  And I mean savage. It only lasted about six hours, thank you God, but I was a double-ended geysering hellhound in all ways except fur, long pointy nose and long tail for the duration.  I was certainly walking on all fours because I couldn’t stand up:  the world spun quite amazingly, and my heart was going about four hundred beats a minute.  Throwing up always makes my heart race* but it usually slows down again.  In this case it went on trying to shake me off the bed.

I crept downstairs at one point because there was quite a lot of moaning going on: the urgency had come upon me very suddenly and I hadn’t got the hellmob out for any more than a bit of grass on the street corner—my garden has no grass, except the stuff that flies over the wall and colonises my potted plants, and dogs need grass.  Ask any dog.  But I’d been going about indoors briskly doing stuff because I had a friend coming today, Saturday, I am describing the scene from yesterday, Friday, and, okay, I could have done some housework earlier in the week but . . . well, in the first place I didn’t, because I don’t, and in the second place since the floor needs sweeping/hoovering again approximately the minute I unplug the blasted hoover and jam it back into its current corner** because my resident fur factories are never off line, there’s not a lot of point of trying to do it ahead of time.  I’ll just have to do it again.  Which is inefficient, right?  There were still fresh fur eddies in the draft from the door this morning when I brought my friend home  Sigh.

And then, you know, there’s all that other stupid stuff that housework consists of.*** And I’d been hoping to get back out into the garden again—did I tell you I have hauled two entire Wolfgang loads of garden detritus off to the dump?  Chiefly consisting of nettles, but other weeds and some rose-prunings did appear.† This is only the beginning.  And, erm, it’s already frelling August.††  I was going to get my garden sorted this summer.†††  And I had a friend coming!  I didn’t want to lock the kitchen door and hide the key and say offhandedly, oh, you don’t want to go out there!  ANYWAY.  I crept downstairs at one point when the moaning was reaching something of a pitch, opened the garden door, left it open, which I never do unless I’m there to supervise,‡ and crawled back upstairs again.

Well, I didn’t get out into the garden. I also missed my appointment with my estate agent to discuss the Letting of Third House.  I missed Friday afternoon handbells.  When I could finally stand upright again I just about managed to do a quick stiff-brush thing on the stairs, which, due to a little backlist-box problem, won’t really accommodate a hoover at present.  And I hurtled the mob.  Not nearly well enough, according to the mob, but I told them they were lucky to get out at all. And I had COOKED green beans for supper and they stayed down.  Yaay.

And it was great to see my friend today.  This is someone I haven’t seen in years because we’ve both been having adventures—not all of hers have been desirable either—but she’s the kind of friend you just pick up with again like you saw each other last week.  I even ate lunch successfully.  And took her for a hike over gorgeous late summer Hampshire countryside without falling down.‡‡  And drove her back to the train where we promised not to lose touch again.  But I’m way too brain dead to work tonight, so I thought I’d write a blog.

* * *

* Things You Would Be Very Happy Not to Know About Yourself

** I have still not found the perfect storage space for a hoover, which is an awkward, bulky object, in this house with no storage AND covered in bookshelves on all the walls and piles of books in front of all the bookshelves. There’s the attic, of course, but if it disappears into the attic I really WILL never use it again.  Haul it up and down my narrow little rail-free ladder stairs and back up again?  Never happen.

*** As I have often said before, I don’t hate housework^, I hate the time it takes.

^ Except hoovering. I HATE hoovering.  I’d rather be on my knees with a Patented Pet Hair Remover and a stiff brush.  Which is indeed what I usually do.

† Note that you can still be stung by a nettle that has been frelling dead for a frelling week, lying on the ground waiting to be bagged up. I assume I don’t have to tell you how I know this.  Also, nettles hide. As I say, most of eight gigantic bags of green stuff were nettles.^  I TOOK OUT A LOT OF NETTLES.^^  But the minute I go back indoors again and look out my kitchen window THERE ARE NETTLES.  I just blitzed that area! I exclaim in outrage.  No.  You didn’t.  Hahahahahahahaha, say the nettles.^^^

^ Although the last bag or two contained quite a lot of this small variegated-leaf tree put in by my predecessor, so it is no doubt rare and admirable and I don’t appreciate it properly. Phineas, my poor neighbour, came hesitantly up to me about a week ago and explained humbly that this thing had colonised the roof of his conservatory to the extent that he was beginning to worry about said roof maintaining its present desirable state of leakproofness, not to mention that my tree was shutting out the sunlight to the dismay of the huge planters of geraniums that live in the conservatory.  Oops.  Now it’s true that my garden has become even more of a jungle the last year or two but slightly in my defence in this case this is a very enthusiastic tree+ and since it was growing forward over its end of my garden in a very liberal manner and I can’t actually see over the wall to Phineas’ conservatory roof I had no idea that it was doing exactly the same in the other direction.  Arrgh.  I’ve hacked it back some, but more is necessary, and first you have to get THROUGH the stuff on my side to reach the stuff on the other side, which involves being poked in the eye, clawed, strangled, hair-yanked, and the delightful experience of repeated disgorgings of scratchy leaves down the back of the neck.  ARRRRGH.

+ It must be part nettle

^^ And I have the scars to show for it. According to some of the Birkenstocks-and-beards natural medicine sites, nettle stings are good for rheumatism like bee stings are.  I’m allergic to bee stings, so that’s out.  I’ve been on the anti-rheumatism diet for about twelve years because it works, but I was thinking, if I keep a corner of my (tiny) garden sacred to nettles, if I went and rolled in these occasionally could I eat a tomato?  Sigh.  It would have to be a very good tomato.

^ The really bizarre thing is that I’m kind of fond of nettles. All part of my yen for self-torture I suppose.  But a lot of weeds just make me snarl:  creeping buttercup.  SNARL.  Ground elder.  SNARL.  And Japanese anemone. EXTRA SNARL.  You gardeners are about to tell me that Japanese anemones are lovely, graceful and entirely desirable garden plants. No they’re not.  They’re frelling takeover frelling thugs. THEY’RE WEEDS.  Like frelling crocosmia, another so-called desirable garden plant.  Rip out where seen.  I don’t actually want a lot of nettles around—they, you know, sting, and they aren’t exactly beautiful—but maybe I’m just remembering that the presence of nettles means you have a nice healthy garden, that they’re good for butterflies, that you can eat nettles+, or that as an herbal tincture they’re useful for a lot of what ails you.  But whatever.  I kind of like them.  This doesn’t stop me tearing them out.  And getting stung spectacularly because when they’re cross, and pulling them up does tend to make them cross, they will sting you through your clothing.++

+ You can eat ground elder too but I’d rather not. Nettles are pretty reasonable, and I positively like nettle tea.

++ Reasons to be glad you’re wearing glasses instead of contacts: being lashed across the face by the eight-foot nettle you didn’t notice when you were pulling up some little ones at the eight-footer’s ankles. Owwww. Also, nettles across the scalp?  Um, if it’s good for rheumatism, will it make your hair grow?

†† How did that happen? May was last week.

††† I think I say this every summer. This summer, however, I’m here all the time.  On the other hand, this summer, I’m spending a lot more time lying on the floor in a state of ME stasis than usual.  There’s just about enough floor space left in the kitchen for me to lie down on it, if I contort a little.  The problem with lying on the sofa is that the hellmob expects to join me, and there are days when I can’t face being lain on by a hellmob with twenty-four or forty-eight elbows attached.  If I lie on my bed, as previously observed, there will be moaning, but if I lie on the kitchen floor, it’s like, oh, hi, and we can all kind of curl up together.  The hellterror is especially pleased because generally speaking she is expected to keep her attentions to herself since she is very . . . attentive.  But remind me to tell you about my shrinking kitchen floor.

‡ The creativity of dogs, when presented with a garden, is much undervalued.  Especially by the owner of said garden.  Who furthermore will be cleaning up the kitchen floor of uningestables experimentally ingested.

‡‡ Granted I’m perfectly capable of falling down without any help from stomach flu aftermath totteriness.

Hi there ::waves::


Sorry everyone.  I’m just so freaking tired.*  It’s been a somewhat action-packed week/ten days/fortnight/century.  The good news is that I haven’t knocked Peter over with the car again recently.  YAAAAAY.  But we’ve had three lots of visitors** and assorted emergencies.***  And Niall and I seem to be teaching more people to ring handbells.

Also, it’s definitively spring.  The weather is still jerking us around† but the primroses are flowering like mad—AND MY SNAKESHEAD FRITILLARIES YAAAAAAAAAY—and the early pansies, and the early tulips and there are daffodils and hellebores everywhere as thick as marmalade on toast and it is unmistakably SPRING.  So I’m out there frantically potting up little things that keep arriving in the post†† . . . and occasionally I’m also potting up things that I stuck in some perlite because I was REALLY IRRITATED that I or a member of the hellmob or some discourteous frelling typhoon broke off a perfectly good branch of something or other and if I sliced it up in pieces and stuck them in perlite . . . well, they’d die, of course, but at least I’d’ve tried.

Occasionally they live.  I now have five abutilon megapotamicum.  If they’re happy, they can get to eight foot.  The original one—the one that got blown off the kitchen window shelf and snapped off a long limb—is getting on for six foot.  It’s a terrific plant—it flowers all year.  But FIVE of them???  This is just possibly superfluous to requirements.

And now, if you’ll excuse me again, I have to go sing something:  voice lesson tomorrow.†††  I’m supposed to be learning Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise . . . but it’s in four sharps, and I don’t like sharps, and it’s all foolhardy lines of unusual intervals—these blasted great composers are so frelling unpredictable—and he keeps flatting and/or double-sharping things that in some cases don’t have a black key there anyway AND YOU HAVE TO KEEP TRACK OF ALL THIS STUFF and . . . my brain hurts.‡  I may be leaning on YouTube a little more than I should be.  Was that a chromatic scale when you strip out all the persiflage or wasn’t it?  No.  It wasn’t.  That would be too easy.  Quack.  Quaver.  But possibly the most annoying thing . . . Nadia told me I can just miss out the line with the high C in it—unless it’s a C flat which would make it some kind of B, and I occasionally have a high B—and I was wibbling along with YouTube and not thinking about it . . . okay, maybe the singer I was yodelling with had knocked it down a semi-tone or so but I got to the end and thought . . . wait a minute.  I sang that line.

Haven’t been able to do it again of course.  Your body is your instrument.  Your instrument is a gibbering neurotic nutso.  Sigh. . . .

* * *

* I’m reading a nice restful book^ in which our heroine winds up briefly hospitalised and is driven mad by having nothing to read, and when a sympathetic nurse loans her a copy of HELLO! magazine . . . she reads it as a desperate alternative to ripping her sheets into long thin strips and using broken clothes-hangers as knitting needles^^.  And I read this with a feeling of cold deep horror and thought again THIS IS WHY MY KNAPSACK WEIGHS MORE THAN A HELLTERROR.  It’s my phobia about being trapped somewhere WITH NOTHING TO READ.^^^  And given the number of times Peter has closed his hand in a door—never mind the serious stuff—and we’ve spent several unscheduled hours in A&E/Emergency, I am not being paranoid I am being practical.

^ THE JANUS STONE by Elly Griffiths which is the second in her murder-mystery series about Ruth Galloway who is a forensic archaeologist.  And which are fabulous.   Ceridwen loaned me the first one and when I read it in about forty-eight hours+ laughed in an evil and knowing manner, and loaned me the second.

+ despite not being able to read it in the bath because it belonged to someone else and IT WOULD NOT BE GOOD IF I DROPPED IT.  I have quite a few paperbacks with curly pages . . . and I barely have a knitting magazine that doesn’t have curly pages.

^^ Okay, I made the extreme knitting alternative up, but personally I might have gone for it over HELLO!

^^^ Or knit.+  Granted most knitting weighs considerably less than three paperbacks and a fully charged iPad,++ and I don’t think they’ve started commercial production of ununseptium needles, possibly because they would be a trifle unstable as well as heavy, and my knitting doesn’t need any help in instability, but the Scarf as Big as the Universe sure takes up a lot of space.  I keep being tempted to take it OUT of my knapsack and finish it at home where it can have its own room+++ but I know this way madness lies.  I would just have the 1,000,000,000th unfinished woolly object lying around somewhere for me to trip over in the middle of the night.

. . . But starting NEW woolly objects is fun.  Especially during that early halcyon period before you’ve made any really ghastly errors that you can’t figure out how to fix.

+ I actually went to an AGM recently.#  WITH MY KNITTING.  THANK YOU, GOD, FOR KNITTING.

# Reasons not to join things:  the dreadful possibility of an AGM.

++ Note that I take my charging cable with me everywhere too.  Just in case.

+++ Mind you in my house it would be sharing that room with 1,000,000 other yarn projects, 1,000,000,000 books and 1,000,000,000,000 All Stars.  Plus assorted miscellaneous items.#  But the rooms at the cottage, while small, are all larger than a knapsack.

# The miscellaneous-item problem is worse than usual at the moment because the American government in its wisdom~ decided that I had to re-prove that I live here and have lived here for quite some time and so you find salient documentation of ten-plus years ago, especially less than a year after a major house move when everything that CAN be shoved into the back of an attic HAS been shoved into the back of an attic including gruesome old paperwork.  My tribulations began with the question which attic?, but more or less climaxed with insane-even-for-me tottering piles of everything all over my office floor at the cottage.  Sigh.  Which, the adrenaline of panic having worn off, I have no enthusiasm for sorting out and putting away again.~~

~ ????????????????

~~ Putting away WHERE? %

% Er.  ‘Putting away’?

** NECESSARY HOUSEWORK.  NOOOOOOOOO.  Failing this activity would certainly be a way of ensuring that people don’t come back, but unfortunately anyone who gets as far as being invited to stay is probably someone I want to come back which leaves me in a terrible predicament.  I keep trying to teach the hellhounds to pull the hoover.  And the hellterror to mop the floor.  Nobody does much about the cobwebs.  Or the dust.^

^ Ways to Tell What I Am Really Truly Currently Reading:  it’s not dusty.

*** See *, ^^^, +++, # above

† If I put long johns on in the morning^ I will be hot and cranky at 3 pm.  But if I don’t put long johns on^^ I will be cold and cranky at . . . 3 am.

^ Oh all right, when I get dressed.  There are drawbacks to sleeping in something you can answer the door in, because you can also put your gardening apron and your wellies on and do some gardening—just while your tea steeps, you know.  Today this innocent activity led to my realising I was due to ring handbells in an hour while I was still in my nightgown equivalent and hadn’t had breakfast/lunch or hurtled any of the waiting hurtlables in this household.

I was late for handbells.  Never mind.  This fresh victim is catching on way too quickly and will be ringing Surplice Maximillian while I’m still trying to sort out the details of Basic Stupid.  Which I have been for the last . . . decade.  Siiiiiigh.  And Niall is, I fear, only too accustomed to me being late for handbells.  He may have a much-punctured dartboard somewhere with my face on it but . . . he doesn’t let even lumpy, brain-fogged semi-handbellers escape without a struggle.  AND HE’S PUT AN AWFUL LOT OF HOURS INTO ME OVER THE LAST DECADE.  I think I’m doomed.  No, I know I am.  But so is he.  However as he throws darts at my face I’m sure he murmurs to himself, If I can teach her to ring handbells I CAN TEACH ANYONE.

I’m a good thing, really I am.  Really.  I set the standard.  Ahem. . . .

^^ When I get dressed

†† More, or sometimes less, suitably attired.  Hey, what’s wrong with a simple cotton jersey dress with a BLUE HILL MAINE sweatshirt over, a muddy apron and hot pink wellies?

††† Okay, I am now loud.  When do I get to the hits the right notes part?  I went off and stood in a corner and sang into the wall again tonight at church.  I’m assuming God doesn’t mind, but the congregation might.

‡ It’s not just handbells.

Another frelling Bank Holiday weekend


It rained in torrents the last two days* and then today, when it was supposed to rain in more torrents, it cleared off and was gorgeous—and everything green** and rooty that had sucked up lake-sized draughts promptly shot up another couple of feet.  Atlas mowed Third House’s lawn last Monday and I swear it’s chest-high again.  But I really have to take some new photos because the ones from a fortnight ago that I still haven’t got round to posting are like last century.  Meanwhile I seem to have got a little distracted by footnotes again.***

* * *

* . . . well I think it was approximately two days.  Between being brain-destroyingly short of sleep and going to bed after dawn, the days kind of smush together.

** Not necessarily green green.  If you’re a copper beech you’re deep maroon.^  If you’re a black-leaved dahlia you’re, um, black.  Or anyway a very dark green.

^ Love copper beeches.  LOVE.

The hellhounds had had a good hurtle around Mauncester Friday morning so I took the hellterror with me to Warm Upford in the afternoon to top up Wolfgang’s fuel tank since it’s a frelling Bank Holiday weekend frelling frelling again FRELLING NO VOICE LESSON TOMORROW FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING.  About two miles beyond Warm Upford on the road to Prinkle-on-Weald there’s a huge old estate that’s been mostly turned into a conference centre or similar.  They’ve left the landscape alone, bless them, and various outbuildings and the astonishing old stable block, which is a kind of miniature palace, are still there pursuing new careers.  When we lived at Warm Upford we used to hurtle the previous generation out there pretty often, and back in my running days my two main loops—one five miles, one seven—began there.  Before I lost my nerve and Darkness his temper about off lead dogs I used to take the hellhounds out there occasionally, but I can’t now remember the last time we hurtled there.

Part of the landscape that the conference centre has left alone is the old avenue to the Big House . . . lined with copper beeches.  There are a lot of copper beeches around here, including the one that hangs over Third House’s garden from the churchyard+, but this is the only proper avenue of them that I can think of.  It is dazzling in its splendour—especially this time of year and especially-especially in a good rain year because beeches are shallow rooted—at least it is if you are crazy about copper beeches.  Friday I parked under the tree I used to park under to go running, about halfway down the avenue, and it was like MY OLD FRIENDS!  HOW YA DOING??

Also, the hellterror was beside herself with delight.  I swear there were about eight hellterrors, all of them HURTLING.  Do all short dogs have pogo-stick legs?  BOING.  BOING.  BOING.  She met her first horse—up close, I mean, being ridden past, not at a distance in a field++.  And she did not bark.  I was very proud.+++

+ Mine mine MINE.  Never mind where the roots are.  MINE.

++ She also met her first horse crap.  Horse crap = dog chocolate.  Ewwww.  Sigh.

+++ Today every nincompoop with a dog was out with it.  Bank Holiday Sunday the end of May in glorious weather—hopeless.  But us rain-or-shine regulars are grimly out there too.  The hellterror and I were attempting to walk past a bench upon which were two women with dogs and one dog-free bloke.  The dogs were large.  The women were medium.  The bloke was small.  The dogs had that superior look that often goes with largeness, to which the hellterror took exception.  Well I’m kind of with her there.  Walking past quietly on a loose lead was out of the question, but we could at least walk past in a series of short controlled hops with a minimum of sotto voce comments about the heritage and personal habits of the unnecessarily large dogs.  I was bent over with some fingers hooked through her harness the better to continue the conversation—she does listen, the little evil eye rolls back toward me with that but-they’re-LARGE-and-SMUG-you-can’t-expect-me-to-IGNORE-them look—but she has a somewhat non-existent attention span# so I have to keep reminding her that she did agree to be polite.  And the bloke says, you training him?

In the first place HER HARNESS IS PINK.  I’m aware of the cultural dorkiness that says that all dogs are he like all cats are she.  And, okay, never mind the vagina and the prominent nipples.  HER HARNESS IS PINK.  In the second place WHAT DO YOU THINK, POTATO FACE?  I usually walk all bent over with my hand hooked through my short-legged dog’s harness murmuring sweet nothings in her pointed ears for the entertainment of the teeming Bank Holiday hordes.

# I have to tell you again however our late-night training sessions are a hoot.  There are now several things she does pretty well but our default is that she sits and gives me a paw.  Whenever we start getting tangled up in some dumb thing I’ve failed to explain successfully in hellterror language, we revert to sitting and offering a paw.  Because these sessions involve fooooood the lack of attention span disappears under an avalanche of greed, and she has a full-body offering of paw(s) I find hilarious.  What I really want to video however are my attempts to teach her to roll over.  She is, of course, a total ham—I think this is in the bullie gene map—and if I’m laughing, as far as she’s concerned, she’s doing it right.  Especially if she gets chicken/cheese/apple for it.  But I haven’t got enough hands to run a video camera too.~

~ Especially since I think I may have broken a finger.  I can’t even remember what I was diving for, last night, in my clumsy, sleep-deprived state, but my hand slammed into a chair instead and there was this tiny nasty snapping noise.  Oops.  I took about half a bottle of arnica and I can still type—this is not coming to you via voice-recognition software, no—but the finger has turned kind of a funny colour= and it’s (yelp) rather sore and I don’t think I want to hold even a small video recording device in that hand.  If it gets no worse I’ll just let it sort itself out but there may be a hiatus in bell ringing.  How long does it take a small finger bone that is probably cracked, not broken, to heal?

= Rather copper beech coloured, in fact.

*** I keep telling you I need sleep. I.  NEED.  SLEEP.  Sigh . . .

Summer is icumen in*


Poor Nadia emailed yesterday that she had tonsillitis**,  so I phoned Atlas and asked him to bring his trailer today, Monday being his usual McKinley-Dickinson day, and I’m usually having a voice lesson.***  But now that I’m NOT letting Third House, the garden is again mine.#  So I thought I might send some of the botanical overflow from the cottage to Third House, whose borders are nothing like full since the awful truth is that living in three houses is Not Really Practical.  Ahem.  At least not unless you have staff which is not one of the options here.  And while Atlas to cut the grass is great## if you have a garden because you like gardening you don’t really want someone else doing all the fun stuff, which is basically everything but mowing lawns.###

The trailer is about eight foot by four, if you're wondering.

The trailer is about eight foot by four, if you’re wondering.

Atlas, grinning hugely, said, So, Robin, what are you going to do with all the SPACE?  –SPACE?  WHAT SPACE?  You can still only get out the kitchen door at the cottage carefully.  You can barely tell anything’s changed.  Especially after I spent the remainder of the afternoon at the cottage, potting up and potting on.~  Things race out so, this time of year, with summer icumen and all.  I also found, not to say unearthed, a good Wolfgang’s boot-load of plants that should have gone up in the trailer.  Except there wasn’t room.  Tomorrow.  I can take them up tomorrow ~~.  Tomorrow I may teach Fiona the basics of gardening.~~~

* * *

* And I wish the cuckoo would sing, they’re getting rarer and rarer.  When I moved over here twenty-odd years ago they were dead common.  They’re now dead rare.  I hope they don’t finish this progression to dead dead.

** It’ll be good when everyone’s immune system adjusts to kids-in-school germs.  Stella still goes down with everything on offer and generously passes about half of it on to her mother.  And there’s Renfrew to add to the germ-factory joy in a couple of years.

*** It is really very annoying that the world does not revolve around me, so I could schedule everything to suit my convenience.

# All right, I’m going to have to share it with Peter.  Our garden.  Not some random rent-paying stranger’s garden.

## I used to the mow the little lawns–ie with a hand mower, not some snarling sit-on behemoth–in the walled garden at the old house AND IT’S ABOUT THE MOST BORING THING EVER.

### Almost everything.  Battling perennial weeds with roots to China is also a major ratbag since I won’t use chemical -icides.

~ I need more potting compost.  Sigh.

~~ Okay, so I buy too many plants like I buy too much yarn and too many books and music and . . . but I have a serious dahlia problem this year. Which is that I think all of last year’s are still alive.  And of course I ordered more, because attrition can be expected to run anywhere from about 60% to 100%.  Little green dahlia leaves in one of last year’s pots are usually cause for excitement and celebration not a blank look of disbelief and a muttered, another one?

~~~ First you buy your Royal Horticultural Society/Victoria & Albert Museum kneeler, with the fabulous William Morris or Redoubte rose print, and then you need your pink gloves^. . . .

^ They’ve started making pink hand tools but so far the ones I’ve seen appear to be for people who don’t actually . . . plan to use them.  Hmmph.  Who wants tools that don’t do the job??  Decorative tools?  Spare me.  Although I’m just as happy not to spend top-end prices on another pair of secateurs.  If Felco comes out with pink secateurs I’m in trouble.

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.


††† 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.

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