I took the hellhounds to Mauncester with us this morning* because the only errands I needed to run were to hellhound-friendly shops where they are much admired**. I won’t say we had a good hurtle. We had, by hellhound standards, a fabulous dawdle. There are clearly too many dogs in Mauncester and EVERY FRELLING BRICK IS WORTHY OF INTENSE CANINE SCRUTINY. EVERY SAPLING, EVERY GATEPOST, EVERY DUST MOTE. ARRRRRRGH. I WANT A HURTLE. I’d settle for, you know, a walk.
Anyway. We got home to the mews finally to a hellterror hanging from the ceiling of her crate*** like a square furry Dracula so, since the hellhounds were sated, I hurtled her back to the cottage because I wanted to get the indoor jungle outdoors for a few hours.† It’s the hellhounds who usually go back to the cottage with me, both because the Off Lead Dog problem is least diabolical if you stick to the middle of town†† and also because hellhounds will GO LIE DOWN when so instructed and not follow me around and attempt to HELP when I’m trying to do things like ferry the indoor jungle outside, repot the frelling dahlia that is insisting on growing and start another load of washing. Here, take this geranium and put it on the second step, okay? And could you bring me a fresh bag of Perlite please? AND STOP STEALING SOCKS.
It seemed unkind, she was so relishing being part of the action†††, to lock her up so I could mop the frelling cottage floor before we returned to the mews for lunch. So I have that to look forward to as soon as I post here and go back to the cottage. IT COULD JUST STOP RAINING SO MY BACK GARDEN AND THE ENTIRE SOUTH OF ENGLAND IS NOT A MUD BATH. . . . And is inevitably (and squishily) tracked across a lot of kitchen floors.
* * *
* Morning! Yes, morning! You know, that thing that happens before noon and after the wee hours and, um, dawn, which this time of year happens even later than I want to stay up for.^ I admit there wasn’t a lot of morning left by the time I picked Peter up BUT IT WAS STILL MORNING.
^ Except after a Street Pastors night when I’m not sure but what dawn serves to remind me that the ordinary world is still there. Maxine and I were talking about this last night while the long-timers were out of earshot: here we are about to go descend on some innocent congregation and hold a Street Pastors pep rally+ and we’re still really both in the Early Gobsmacked stage. We’re what? We’re doing what? If you stop to think/worry about it, all it is, practically speaking, is handing out lollipops and flipflops and hot chocolate—okay, and listening—but it is another world where we’re doing it++ and by putting on your logo—your God-armour—you’re kind of taking leave of this world before you enter that other one.+++ You need new skills—new ways to connect—and neither Maxine nor I really feel we’re getting much of a grip on this. On New Year’s Eve she was watching Jonas engage with our target group the way I was watching Dominic—she was in one team and I was in the other—and thinking how does he do that?! But Jonas and Dom have been doing this for three years and Maxine and I have been doing it for three months.#
+ Give me an S! Give me a T! —Pompoms optional and it’s been a lot of years since I did the splits.
++ ‘The nighttime economy’
+++ Of course all us practising Christians move serenely and gracefully through the ordinary world in perfect awareness of God at all times. Of course. There is never any bad language or any screaming or any dirty dishes in the sink. And all our tulips are planted by the end of November. This is why I turned Christian, you know? Because I wanted to get all my tulips in by the end of November. Ahem.
#Although the fact that I immediately manifested an entirely alien ability to catch strangers’ eyes, smile and say hello proves that the Holy Spirit has a foot in my door. This made Maxine laugh, but then she has a normal job and deals with the public and has colleagues and so on.
** And no one says anything to me about the number of ribs on dramatic show. In some cases because these are fellow sighthound people and they know. As I was moaning to one woman (who has a Labrador/spaniel cross and a pointer puppy but her sister has skinny greyhounds) if the hellhounds were working lurchers in hard condition the ribs wouldn’t matter. Pet dogs just look malnourished with their ribs sticking out.^
^ Note that they have eaten dinner. We say nothing of supper to come. Or what kind of a mood I’ll be in by the time I go to bed.+
+ SERENE of course. PERFECTLY BALANCED in my awareness of God.~
*** She totally has prehensile paws. I’ve told you about her putting her forelegs around your waist to hug you. The current ritual is that last thing at night before I put her finally in her crate with more fooooooood she has a lap for as much time as I think I can get away with for random reading. The moment I put my book down in preparation for putting her down, she sits up, wraps her forelegs around my neck . . . and chews my face off. This tickles something crazy. She makes ridiculous noises while she is performing this liturgy and it is a good idea if I’ve got my earrings and my glasses off first.
† Hard frost last night, and the January sun has no strength to it so it takes forever to warm up in the morning. In the MOOOOOORNING.
†† It’s not undiabolical, it’s just least.
††† BOING BOING BOING
I AM SO TIRED OF WATERING. TIRED. WATERING. OF. ARRRRRRRRGH. We were supposed to have thunderstorms over the weekend. We were supposed to have TORRENTIAL RAIN! We were supposed to have sporadic downpours, some of them heavy, today!
WE HAVE HAD NONE OF THESE THINGS. We had two minor bursts of real rain which according to my rain gauge total a little under a quarter inch. This is not entirely negligible . . . but NEARLY. I heard some distant thunder while I was at the monks’ Saturday evening. Nothing else happened. And we do really, really, really need rain—anything that isn’t a garden tended by a (possibly) obsessive and irascible gardener is brown. I HATE WATERING. WATERING ISN’T GARDENING. WATERING IS A BORING BORING BOOOOOOOORING TIME SUCK. And while you’re wasting all your gardening time lugging cans of water* around the jungle that you had so laboriously somewhat brought under control is rioting freely again.
Snarl. I took advantage of a rose sale last winter. I wrote all over my order NO SUBSTITUTIONS. They sent me a sub anyway**. This one. Grrrrrrr. So, okay, climbing pink rose. I’ll live.
I do splash some water around and there’s a little trash soil from crumbling mortar and what falls out of my pots, but they’re basically growing out of ROCK.
And they’re all frelling thriving, in their miniature way. Ordinary garden snapdragons, which are a lot bigger of course, are also thirsty. Geraniums will put up with a surprising amount of drought: snapdragons won’t. First they wilt and then they develop mildew. And this year’s astonishing crop of volunteers must be all garden offspring, and first generation so far as I know, unless snapdragon seed lies in the ground/mortar/flint shelf until suitable conditions occur, like decades-old poppies waiting for the plough.
It’s certainly enough to make you a really untidy gardener for the rest of your (gardening) life. Especially if you’re that way inclined anyway. But this one is clinging to the few grains of soil in the unswept-out whorl of the rubber stair treads.
But I’m not exactly wasting my time with all that dratblasted watering, am I?
* * *
* The problems of Hosepipe Management in something the size and intensity of planting of the cottage garden are debatably worse than just gritting my teeth and bowing to the inevitability of can haulage.^ I do use a sprinkler occasionally but by the time I’m thinking about it we’re probably into drought conditions and it feels illegal even if it isn’t.
^ I can do a fair amount of damage with my big feet when I stagger in the wrong direction, but on the whole I leave fewer swathes of destruction carrying watering-cans than when I’m trying to cope with a frelling+ hose. Also with a dingleframping++ hellterror about the place you have to roll and/or hoick the thing out of reach every time you’re finished using it or at least before the hellterror is loose again.
+ Didn’t some polite newcomer on the forum recently ask where ‘frelling’ came from, that she’d used it in company and got stared at? RAISE YOUR CHIN AND TELL THEM IT’S A PERFECTLY LEGITIMATE COINAGE FROM FARSCAPE. You can google it. And I should pick up ‘dren’ while I’m at it.
++ And sometimes, when I’m feeling somewhat pent and fraught I just make something up. The presence of a hellterror can make one feel pent and fraught rather easily. Ask Darkness.
** When I protested they told me I could send it back. Uh huh. Sure. That’s totally practical.
It’s been an unnecessarily insane couple of days AND IN THIS FRELLING HEAT. I do not do heat. Heat makes me STUPID.* Heat also makes planning and schedules and stuff so dratblasted difficult—because we’re not used to it, here in England. We’re used to being out in the middle of the day. We’re used to the afternoon being an appropriate time for doing things other than staying indoors with the curtains drawn and moaning weakly. I know hot countries figure this out but historically this is not a hot country.** And I personally don’t have any hot-country genes.*** I’m Scandinavian, Inuit and polar bear, mostly.†
And of course as previously observed, there is precious little air-conditioning anywhere on this ruddy island. TELL YOURSELF AIR-CON IS BAD FOR THE PLANET. KEEP TELLING YOURSELF THAT.
Yesterday in a wealthy high-Tory town not far from here they were opening ten private gardens that are never open to the public for some specific charity that one (wincingly) assumes has a particular meaning for some one of those families, and I hope they took in thousands. Hellhounds and I have hurtled down their main street any number of times and in my case peered through gates and wondered what was back there. Peter and I were going to this garden-open day and Nina was coming too. I had frelling afternoon service ring at Forza to squeeze in so we decided to go early—which meant I had to get out of bed,†† absorb caffeine, hurtle critters and do some frelling watering since the local plant life isn’t any more used to HEAT than we are and tends to die in about six hours if you don’t, first.
So I was late, of course. I got there as Peter and Nina were coming out of their third garden—and Peter’s back was giving out. Nina, gallant woman, took him home while I caught up on the gardens, and then Nina and I finished going round together. Some of those gardens are AMAZING. A M A Z I N G. We parted making ‘amazing’ noises at each other—and I informed Peter that I was going to loop past on my way home from ringing at the abbey and take him back to garden-open day and therefore he was to be prepared. No, no, it’s not necessary, he said. I didn’t say anything about necessary, I said: I said, have your shoes on. We’ll have nearly an hour if I don’t hang about after ringing, and I’ll only make you go to the amazing ones.
There were six of us at Forza. Six is the minimum. If you’re a major historical landmark possessing ninety-seven bells, you don’t ring uncovered doubles (five bells) or minimus (four bells). If there aren’t six of you, you go home.
Have I mentioned the ‘no discernible sleep since this frelling heat offensive began’? I did very well. I whinge a lot about how few methods I can ring for the unblessed number of years I’ve been doing it, but this does mean I’ve had the time to develop automatic pilot for the methods I can ring . . . it’s nothing like perfectly reliable†††, but it can get me through rings like yesterday’s, when the air in the ringing chamber is so heavy it’s hard to poke your arms up through it to grab your rope and everything sounds strangely muffled because the air is much too heavy to, you know, vibrate. And you’ve had no sleep.
Then I pelted home, stuffed Peter protesting in the passenger seat, and we went back to the gardens-open town. And Peter agreed that the gardens I was prodding, not to say frog-marching, him to were pretty amazing. Marital harmony restored.
Then I had to race home, get hellcritters out, finish the bloody watering,‡ and . . . go to church.‡‡
Today I had to do more watering, not least because I’d slightly skimped yesterday‡‡‡. I was late to my voice lesson when I realised I’d missed the washing machine man and had to rend my garments§ and then ring up and grovel so he’d rebook me.§§
My voice lesson . . . we’re into some interesting territory. I’ve made a kind of frustrating breakthrough in that I’ve pretty suddenly become much more aware of my tension level§§§ but appear to be as unable to do anything about it as I ever have—although I did have one day this week when it was like I could sing anything. Where did THAT come from? I have no idea. And it went away again, of course. Nadia says it came from all these frelling exercises I’m doing even when they don’t seem to be doing anything and to keep doing them and I’ll start having more free days. Nadia winkled me into making a noise that she said was the sort of noise that if I were a member of an eight-soprano choir they’d miss me if I weren’t there.# That’s the goal, I said. And then I butchered poor old Linden Lea arrrrrrrgh.
I came home again and spent a good half-hour on the floor of the kitchen at the cottage–it was still too hot for hurtling–using the slightly dampening effect of the HEAT to help persuade the hellterror that if she wants to hang out with the hellhounds and me she has to be calm and quiet.
And it was about at this point that I remembered that I’d promised Niall that I’d ring at Old Eden tonight. . . . ##
May I sit down now?
* * *
* I missed THE WASHING MACHINE REPAIR MAN TODAY!!! How tragic is that??
** Ask us in a decade.
*** Buckminster, the vicar at St Margaret’s, was loathsomely jolly and bouncy last night, talking about how much he loooooves the heat. He’s been out chopping things down in the garden and feeling holy and connected to life and nature while his family were all indoors watching a film. What’s the film? Do you have room for one more?
† I got my temper from the polar bear. You may have guessed.
†† The getting out of bed part is not really the issue. It’s not like you’re enjoying having a hot mattress pressed against one entire side of your body. It’s the moving at all aspect when you have had no discernible sleep in several days that is the problem.
‡ The gardens we were looking at had staff, irrigation systems, or both.
‡‡ And be bounced at by my frelling vicar.
‡‡‡ This is more of the flapdoodle about planning. The back garden is a barbeque pit in the afternoon, so I need to get the watering done in the morning. The house shadow falls over the front in the afternoon, so I tend to do the front watering then, except that I have to hit a few of the pots that won’t last all day both morning and afternoon/evening, and the front is more sensitive generally because it’s road and house walls, not dirt and gravel and lots more plants.
§ I’m not wearing enough garments for really top-flight rending, so I had to supplement out of a drawer.
§§ Wednesday. DON’T LET ME FORGET.
§§§ Singing is FREE! Nadia says. You can be a stressed-out control freak in the rest of your life! Singing is FREE!
# In a good way, okay?
## Old Eden practises tend to be heavy on the beginner end, and to need the ballast of even dweeb-level ringers like me who can ring Grandsire doubles in their sleep. The situation tonight was so pathetic I was even doing some minding.
Treasure Trove officially added to a (short, so far) list of house-eating roses I NEED.
Excellent choice. I would have had to have her if Peter didn’t. I’m presently trying to decide if I could figure out a flight path for Paul’s Himalayan Musk up at Third House. Rosa banksiae lutea is a house-eater, and, ironically, is getting going comparatively slowly. I hadn’t planned for either Mme Alfred or Mme Gregoire at the cottage to turn into house-eaters—or Ghislaine—they just did. I actually did know I was being silly about Souvenir de la Malmaison. She’s not a house-eater, she’s just PERVERSE AND DANGEROUS.* But the only house-eater at Third House at present is Bobbie James, who is cooperatively climbing the copper beech that hangs over from the cemetery. Hmmm.
I wonder how I would keep the deer from eating them until they were big enough not to mind?
Ahem. Have you read SUNSHINE? Yolande’s peanut-butter-baited electric deer-repelling fence is not only for a world with Others in it. Go google peanut butter deer fence. Nothing works perfectly—and it’s a huge faff to set up and maintain—but it is pretty much your best bet. The problem with all the repellents is that deer get used to them. Oh, yeah, lion dung, big deal, have you seen any lions? No, I haven’t either. –And they’re apparently capable of developing a taste for hot chillis. Electricity goes on working.
My Ghislaine de Feligonde is veryvery pale yellow, aging to white. Even though orange is my least favorite color, I think that Morris is beautiful–does it have a scent? I always try to have an Abraham Darby, even though here it is always a less-than-beautiful beige color because I think it has the most wonderful scent of any rose I have ever grown!
Proof of the whole variable thing. My Ghislaine comes out a deep orange gold and pales to primrose yellow—eventually, sometimes, almost white. William Morris isn’t really orange, more peach, but she looks ORANGE next to the vivid, very lavender-pink James Galway. Yes, she has a good scent. But if Abraham Darby is a dull beige in your area William Morris will probably be grey. One of the best rose photos I’ve ever taken was of my old Abraham Darby back at the old house. She’s another of these gold-peach roses, but with a lot of deep salmon-pink as well. And the flowers are HUGE. This photo of Morris is a particularly romantic one: if you like that style you should go cruise the ‘English roses’ aisles of whatever nursery you bought Abraham Darby from. There are other choices, most of them not orange.
Thanks for the lovely photos…they have me wondering if I couldn’t fit just a few more roses in my yard.
Mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Diane in MN
Deer, at least in my neighborhood, are quite used to dogs and not put off by them (or their scent) at all. Especially since they usually do their roaming and devouring when dogs are in the house and asleep.
Yes. Suburban deer get totally blasé about all the usual human things. It’s genuine countryside around here, but English villages are organised on a different pattern—houses tend to be squashed together in a relatively small area surrounded by swathes of farmland. ** There are lots of deer—Roe, around here, mostly—and don’t they just love people’s gardens. And they get so frelling tame you can’t trust them to run away even if they see you shouting and throwing things. Or to not panic and try to self-immolate under your car’s tyres.
Here are some suggestions: original scent Irish Spring soap, hung around the plants (temporary if you get much rain); blood meal-based commercial repellent (kept them out of my hostas for a long time); hot pepper spray (also temporary with rain). I’ve ordered a new repellent based on citrus that gets fairly good reviews; I figure if I put out a variety of stuff, they won’t get too accustomed to any of it.
No repellent ever worked for me or anyone I ever talked to for more than a year, and often less than that. Maybe your MN deer have enough more options to be more amenable to being repelled. One of the few clear benefits of a move into town is we no longer have a deer problem. I’m still kind of half-expecting them to figure out Third House. It’s only one block over from farmland and the fencing is inadequate even for keeping next door’s frelling terrier from crapping in the drive and the entire neighbourhood of cats from crapping everywhere. It wouldn’t slow a hungry deer down for a moment. Arrrrgh.
|If you’re not a rose person, what are you doing on this blog?|
I do wonder that sometimes, especially since I also dislike pink.
Snork. The funny thing to me is that while I like pink I’m not the pink obsessive that the blog persona is. It’s a handy hook to hang silliness on—and it’s true that if the colour choices are black, white and pink—I’ll take pink. This is a rant for some other evening, but I spent most of my life bucking against my inner girlie girl, because when I was a kid and a teenager forty and fifty-plus years ago being a girlie girl—especially with a girl-next-door face like mine—was death to any kind of being taken seriously. I professionally hated pink for decades—and burst out of my parents’ house into jeans, Frye boots and black leather. I revel in pink—and pearls—now partly as a nanny nanny boo boo to all those jerks who tried to make me believe that frilly and trad feminine equals stupid and wet doormat.
I do feel awfully ignorant sometimes when looking at the rose pictures. I’d never guess that some of those flowers were roses. If I were walking through a garden with a rose person, I’d embarrass myself saying, “Oh, look at those peony beds!” And, “Aren’t those great carnations!” I think I referred to the (hydrangeas? I forget) in my yard in front of an expert once as “snowballs”, but the expert never blinked an eye. Someone else later told me what they were, but I then later forgot again…
Well. There are roses bred to look like peonies and peonies bred to look like roses. Ditto carnations. There are begonias and geraniums that look enough like roses that if you aren’t paying attention to the leaves you’ll think they are roses. And there is a perfectly good category of hydrangea called snowball so the expert probably did blink, in appreciation of your terminology.
I know petunias, and crocuses, and daffodils, and tulips, and lilacs, and (my favorite) lilies of the valley, and daisies, and black-eyed susans, and poinsettias, and marigolds, and sunflowers, and forsythias…and that’s probably about it!
There are pink lilies of the valley you know . . . the cottage garden is OVERRUN with them. I like them, but I also rip them up by the bucketfuls. Not my fault, by the way: my predecessor put them in. I also suspect there are petunias, crocuses, daffs, tulips, lilacs, sunflowers and marigolds that you wouldn’t recognize as such, because that’s the way plant breeders are—oooh, they say, let’s see if we can breed something that doesn’t look like what it is. I personally think trailing snapdragons, which usually have weird little turned-up faces that look more like roses than like snapdragons, for example, are a mistake. And black-eyed susans . . . there are a million daisy-ish things that get called black-eyed susans: the rudbeckia family is GINORMOUS.
Oh, yeah, and another favorite: Morning Glories.
Ah yes, bindweed by any other name . . . bindweed has the prettiest little morning-glory flowers. It’s the same family. Here’s another rant for another night: how narrow the line is between fabulously desirable garden plant and migraine-inducing detestable weed.
Gardening. Eh. Another of those pursuits of the mad. . . .
* * *
* It’s been drizzling just enough for frelling Souvenir to say YAAAAAAAAH!!!!! and ball like crazy. No proper RAIN just Souvenir dis-enhancing mist. Note that I am ALREADY sick to death of watering. It is my least favourite garden activity: I like weeding and pruning and tying up and tying down and swearing and all that: I HATE WATERING^. And apparently we’re about to have a hot dry stretch^^ like what the rest of the world calls summer, I can do without it. I like a little light complaining about not having the opportunity to wear my more amusing t shirts, since it kills the purpose if you cover them up with a sweater. And sunlight is nice. But we don’t need it all the time. Grey and miserable! YESSSSSS! That’s what I moved to England for!^^^
^ The woman whose garden is full of pots. Whose pots are full of pots. Whose pots’ pots occasionally have pots in them.
^^ The moment the last of Souvenir’s gigantic midsummer flush has gone GREY-BROWN AND MOULDY.
^^^ Oh, and Peter.
** Although this is changing. Not in a good way.
In this case, Peter’s.
That riot in the centre and left is all one rose, you know. The bigger, more intensely coloured but rather overshadowed roses on the right are James Galway and William Morris.
Some annual events are really eventful. Treasure Trove in bloom is one of them. Also, speaking of house-eaters.
We actually see her better here than we did at the old house. At the old house she was busy raging through the treetops, forty or fifty feet up. She did drop a few stems downward so we could appreciate what we were missing, but mostly you had to stand under the original tree where her trunk, which was a clump of stems easily as big around as my thigh and of a toughness that would not have disgraced teak or ironwood, soared out of the mere earth, and look up. She’s usually described as ‘thirty foot’. Sure. For the first year or two. Peter was afraid she’d take over the universe with only a small end-of-mews cottage and garden shed to overwhelm but I was all PUT HER IN! PUT HER IN!!! I bought her–I’m the rose buyer in this family–and THRUST her upon him. Well, it was his idea. I was only abetting.
I say all this every year, right? Eh. Some stories are worth retelling. If you’re not a rose person, what are you doing on this blog? –Fantasy novels? What?*
It was taken with the same camera on the same memory card as all the others. BUT NOOOOOOOOO. THIS ONE IS POSSESSED BY DEMONS. Okay, let’s see what fascinations await when I try to load the next one. The screen will go black except for a fiery ring and a mysterious voice that is not coming from the speakers will intone: One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them . . . Or it will be a photo of the B&B from someone’s holiday in Blackpool. There will not be a neon campfire in the window.
I personally think Morris would be spinning in his grave if he knew that they named an orange ‘old fashioned’ rose after him. I like orange in begonias, dahlias, gazanias, osteospermums, cardigans and topaz rings. I find it varyingly problematical in roses. And a rose bred to look old and ORANGE is like Queen Victoria in Jimmy Choos. NOOOOOOOOO.**
This is Westerland. You get a burning intense ORANGE bud . . .
She also smells fabulous, repeats well and is spectacularly tough. I’m surprised she’s not more popular. Relatively trouble-free roses are not thick on the ground (ha ha ha ha ha). Maybe it’s something to do with the colour. . . . But I always loathed ‘Just Joey’ which for years kept being voted ‘Britain’s favourite rose’. Whyyyyyyy? The flowers are stupidly big–too big–and floppy and shapeless, and a creepy orangey-bilious-jaundiced-Caucasian-flesh colour on a revoltingly feeble bush that keeps falling over every time it produces one of its unpleasant blooms. UGGGH. Sue me, I’m American.
Love love love.
Although she is the pink end of orange.*** I’m going to make my usual caveat about colour varying with that year’s weather and what you’ve been feeding her and where you and she live. Westerland can be a lot more in your face OOOOOORANGE, and Rachel can be more orange than pink.
I’ll post photos of my (orange) Ghislaine de Feligonde as soon as she’s out a little more. . . .
* * *
* There’s a joke here somewhere about retelling fairy tales, but I haven’t got it quite worked out.
** I should explain that Galway and Morris are artefacts of Peter’s predecessor. Even if you like orange old-fashioned roses, the strong pink Galway is a perverse pairing. Maybe the photos looked different in the catalogue. As they so often do.
*** Did someone say PINK?