Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...
Joules, trusted by... dozens... to make a drama out of your crisis...
:: JAT :: WaveWrights :: Publications ::
I live to write. It's not wise to get in my
If you come across any words you don't recognise in this blog, take a look at the Taylorspeke Glossary in the left-hand infopane, you'll usually find a definition there.
Adventures in Orchids
Apparently I am now collecting them...
EO - Everlasting orchid. Phalaenopsis. I've had this orchid for at least 15 years and it just keeps flowering...
AO - Alien face orchid. Phalaenopsis . Bought 2018 - lovely little flowers, all different patterns!
RO - Rescued orchid
TO - Tiny orchid. Phalaenopsis. Bought at Tesco 21.8.20. It just begged to come home with me. How could I say no?
CO - Crimson orchid. Cambria. Another Tesco find. This one may be going to live in Ken's room once we've redecorated and put up the new shelving; it prefers a cooler, less sunny windowsill. If so, I'll need to find another cambrian to keep it company.
GO - Golden orchid. Phalaenopsis. Saw this one when I bought CO and left it behind - then immediately regretted it as soon as I got home. Never seen one like it before. Ken, bless him, went back over to Tesco in the rain and bought it for me...
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Hectic, but fun!
Friday, May 30, 2008
Watch Joules blink and see the day zoom past...
Although it did so reasonably successfully. Got a little client site stuff done this morning before we all took a break in the garden, Kai to weed, Ken to shunt paving slabs around for me (three to extend the paved patch with the blueberries, three at the door end of the greenhouse so I can reach the water safely, and three inside the greenhouse under the high staging, for plants I take inside over night. That's all the paving slabs we bought in Focus' sale now homed) and me to tidy/tend greenhouse (again).
Then Kai and I had to trudge up the hill for dental checkups. Dentist was delighted that the root canal tooth is looking good, and was generally pleased with the state of my mouth. Not so happy for Kai: she's referring him to an orthodontist and he'll probably need braces to shift the misaligned teeth - one on each side - into place. He's less than enthusiastic about it, apparently sprogs with braces are teased (though not as badly as sprogs who wear glasses. What the hell is the matter with this bloody species? Even as a sprog myself I always imagined how I'd feel if I was on the receiving end and refused to do it...) Will report back once we know what's happening.
While at Broadwalk we did the shops, which was moderately successful. It was gone five by the time we got back though, with just enough time for me to organise the netting around the blueberries (a bit makeshift, I'll need to redo it when I have more time) and make dinner before cleaning the bathroom. Then we watched the directors cut of The Abyss. The day was busy, I'm tired, and my legs are killing me!
Folks up tomorrow, though not sure what time. Not having Lee to chivvy along will probably mean an earlier than usual arrival. So I suppose I should try for an early night.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Our 'reward' vouchers arrived from Tesco yesterday, so off I trotted to spend them this morning - and also to compare prices after yesterday's shock at Sainsbug. And indeed, Tesco had their own organic chopped tomato tins at 52p (I bought six) and organic white rice at 76p (I bought four - all they had). It'll keep us going for a couple of weeks at least. But their milk is the same price as Sainsbug and I'm not fond of the taste of Tesco bread, so didn't check the price.
It's quite fun to watch the kits in the garden. They've lost all interest in hunting birds (must be their age) and are now quite content to sit and watch the blackbirds stripping the meadow of worms. (It's actually quite something to see: the female regularly crams so many in she has difficulty taking off, and you can't see her lower beak at all! They must have hungry - and very well fed - nestlings.)
On the subject of the meadow, all the wildflower seeds I planted in seed trays have started coming up. With a bit of luck I'll be able to identify them soon, and we'll be able to plant them in groups in the meadow itself. I know there are poppies and scabious in the cornfield mix, and foxgloves in the woodland one, but really don't know what else we have coming up. Be fun to see!
I'm letting the first batch of Oriental salad leaves run to seed, in the hope I can collect the seed and plant them all separately, because the pak choi (which we all like) is faster growing than the others and will outstrip them if left to its own devices, while the mizuna (mine and Kai's favourite) is so small and delicate it gets swamped.
Right - a little client stuff, then to the loom...
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I went shopping at Sainsbug's...
Last week a packet of organic wholemeal spaghetti was 78p. Today it's 89p. Last week small tub of Yeo Valley organic natural yoghurt was 39p. Today it's 50p. Two weeks ago an organic wholemeal loaf was 89p. Today it was £1.15. A tin of organic chopped tomatoes was 45p a month ago. Today it's 85p. A bag of organic white rice was 78p last week. Today it's £1.3-bloody-9. The same price as organic Basmati (which I bought instead, since we can't do without rice).These are basics for us. These increases are almost criminal. And it's going to go up and up.
Ken suggested turning more of the garden over to growing our own, and I think we'll have to, as with the 30% increase so far this year in our fuel prices, we won't be able to afford to eat...
Labels: cost of living
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
K&K had a good time at the Avon Valley Railway. While they were gone I took the time to watch my latest LoveFilm choice, the Hindi film Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women, which I rented on the offchance that it might be useful research - or at least a foil - for 2AC. Now, I knew it wasn't going to be Bollywood, but I hadn't expected it to be such a hugely depressing and desperately nasty film. Powerful, but raw, very raw, even with the sort of hopeful ending... I had to follow it with something light and fluffy to cheer myself up, so put on Gen X Cops (£1.99 p&p free from play.com) - chop socky at its finest with the pretty boys from 2002, the sort of plot where you lose track of who is on whose side within the first half an hour, a wonderful mix of languages (Cantonese, Japanese and English) and a mildly amusing cameo from Jackie Chan at the end. It certainly had the desired effect!
Kai's staying up to watch Terminator tonight. I know it's an 18, but there's nothing in it he can't cope with and he's loving it!
'alf-inched from Onna's blog:
Monday, May 26, 2008
Everything finished and emailed off! [polishes halo - or perhaps that should be horns...] I'm so efficient sometimes.
Kai's been 'playing with Lego'. At least, that's what the site says, and the floor was covered with the stuff earlier. He's tidied it away now, and seems quite pleased with what he made.
Interesting weather today. Torrential rain this morning, horrendously high winds all day, then half an hour of sun and now it's settled. (At least the water butt is full again!) Supposed to be better tomorrow - Ken's planning on taking Kai to the Avon Valley Railway, always a much enjoyed treat. But the rest of the week the weather forecast isn't that great, so we'll need to do indoor type things. Though since my parents are planning to visit over the weekend, that will involve a certain amount of cleaning and dusting...
On a more sombre note (xposted to the Updates blog)...
Anyone who has visited the (other) Zone in the last month or so will probably have noted the PayPal 'donate' button there - and much as I'd rather not ask, the accompanying blurb basically says it all:
The (other) Zone has well over 400 members with access - not sure how many, might be heading for 500; I gave up counting several years ago when I stopped sending out update emails. If even half of that number donated just £1, or $1, it would be enough to keep the Zone going for almost another two years - and reassure me that people still enjoy the writing there. If there's no interest, unless things pick up (or we win the lottery) when the hosting sub falls due later this year I'll migrate the site to the Supanames server. Supanames do not allow any 'adult' material on their sites, so the (other) Zone will have to go, although a tiny handful of the stories there will still be found on FFNet and Adult FFNet.If you have enjoyed the stories here, please consider making a small donation to help keep The Zone going: this website is expensive to run, and if we have to downsize, unfortunately the password protected section would have to be the first to go. (Also, if I know people are reading here, I will be encouraged to write more stories!)
I can relax tonight! Pity there's nothing on worth watching, but it's probably time to get back to Haadri and 2AC anyway...
Forgot to say I took a little time off to re-read Bradbury's The Silver Locusts, the book on which The Martian Chronicles was based.
It made me cry.
I'd forgotten it did that to me. It's one of those seminal and adored books that stay with you forever, written before Ken and I were born and hence the technology horribly dated, but wholly eclipsed by the sheer poetry and tragedy of the story.
I've handed it to Kai to read, if he feels like it, to see what effect it has on him - though I've had to explain that it was written during the Cold War (which he's touched on in history), influenced by McCarthyism, and at a time when the vile racial injustices of the American south were still suppurating (though from what I read they still are...) It'll be fascinating to hear what he thinks of it.
On the subject of crying... A hiss of air had me looking upwards from the garden a day or so ago, to see a balloon drifting serenely overhead - and I heard the ghost of Quyn's barking as he used to challenge these things that dared to pass over his territory. Then I remembered I'd never hear him guard us again.
I miss him.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
<- dinner. With a tomato bomb. And home made couscous, which we liked but Kai didn't. Tough. He'll have to get used to it, it's what I'm making from now on. Though I admit I need practice at making it a little more flavourful...
Snoozing Raptor ->
Soooo... Actually had a proper lie-in (first in ages: weather cold and wet today so no need to get up at sparrow's fart (as Lutra puts it) to open up the greenhouse). 10.34! Ye gods...
Finished today's work (and making dinner) in time to sit down with all three eps of Tin Man. We've watched the first two eps over the last two Sundays, but it was nice to see the whole thing in one go. I wanted to watch it initially because of Alan Cumming, but got quite into it after about an hour. It's flawed, and the director might just as well have replaced Zooey Deschanel with a lump of wood for all the emotional depth she brought to the rôle, but it was nevertheless a fun way to waste six hours.
Aiming for an early night again: want an early start to get the last bit of research done and the thing sent off.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Hm. Busy but useful...
K&K set off at 7.20 this morning, heading for Wotton-under-Edge: Kai decided he wanted to walk a little of the Cotswold Way. Apparently it was gorgeous - sunny, if decidedly windy. They got as far as Dursley, then Kai decided he fancied a beefburger - from Weston-super-Mare...
[shrugs] Such is the beauty of FirstDay SouthWest bus tickets. They hopped on the Briz bus at Dursley, then changed to the X1 (with me checking timetables online), arriving at Weston about 5.30. Not sure if it's clear here, but that sand in the foreground isn't out of focus, it's loose and blowing in long snaky ribbons across the hard-packed sand underneath. Fascinating effect, although it's best in RL.
Kai had his cheeseburger (he can has cheeseburger. His cheeseburger, he lubs it) and they headed home. Didn't get here 'til quarter to nine, just in time to catch Sleepy Hollow (which Kai hadn't yet seen) on TV. They're both asleep up there now, knackered! Lie in tomorrow.
Ken woke me before they left, and I dozed until 8.30. Then it was up, two machine loads through, tend greenhouse, feed tomatoes and water everything else, clear the scale insect from the orchids and feed and water them (and I have another flower spike coming! I think it might be on the same plant as the last one though - I have two almost identical and can't remember...), a little client site stuff then the rest of the day (and evening) went on more research/writing. Quite pleased with it, though it's taken a very long time. Always the same when it's something I don't know anything about though.
Late spring in Arno's Park - gorgeous.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Remember I said the greenhouse makes a great hide for watching birds in the garden?
It's been a day of general garden stuff and client site updates, which I still haven't finished. Need to get that done now if I'm to have any fun tonight.
Back to the rockface.
[sigh] pisses me off that blogger puts in that bloody awful gap above a table...
Thursday, May 22, 2008
It's no good, I absolutely must have a sixty hour day in order to get everything done. And preferably no need to sleep, as well...
It's been a tad busy. I did manage to tackle the frewtnog pool yesterday - well, less pool, more Bog of Eternal Stench. Took four large bucket loads of grass/weeds/slime for the compost bin and four large watering cans full of water to clear and refill it. It looks much better now though, and is a lot healthier.
More lupins. So pretty!
Kai's poor tree - not a healthy sight...
Most of yesterday evening was spent researching/organising material for the possible new project, tiring but necessary, and approved today by the appropriate people, so keeping fingers crossed.
Today I made a temporary coldframe.
Remember the mini-greenhouse replacement cover GoodTwin gave me as a birthday present? I don't like wasting anything, and have been considering how best to employ it for a couple of months. And I needed a coldframe of some kind for my marrows. So a bit of fineagling around, and this is the result! I've patched the open end with plastic I had left over from the old cover, and made bamboo struts to keep it standing. OK, it's not immensely sturdy, and would blow down in a strong wind, but it's quite well sheltered up at the top of the garden, and will serve the purpose excellently until we can afford a more permanent frame.
This lupin is the most intense indigo and bright yellow - going to look spectacular when it opens completely.
Back to the rockface...
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
That was hectic.
Let's see... Over the last thirty six hours...
1) I've sorted out the plugs (but alas not the spaghetti junction of cabling) under my desk, and now have stack, printer and scanner on an extension board with switches, so I only need to turn them on when I want to use them. The router and modem are permanently on at the board, mainly because K&K occasionally want online access from their machines when I'm not booted up, and if we leave the modem turned off for any length of time it has a tendency to lose the programming, necessitating a reboot/reprogramme from the server, which is a pain in the arse [takes a breath: aren't run on sentences fun?] and, unfortunately, so is the monitor, because the cable lead won't reach the new extension board. But it's not a transformer, so it could be worse. While everything was unplugged I took the opportunity to open the stack and clear out all the dust and gunge inside - far less than I was expecting, but nevertheless the fan is running considerably more quietly now. Will try to schedule it in for once a year, looks like that's all I'll need.
2) K&K joined me in the garden for a concerted weeding of the rockery. It looks much better now, though it still needs a little more work. Tomorrow I'm planning to tackle the frewtnog pond, clear most of the grass around it and see if I can train the native honeysuckle to provide shade instead. Going to be a fiddly and messy job, but not as bad as sorting out Roeg's Pool...
3) Had a phone call from Chelsey. More on that if anything comes of it.
4) Took Kai to see Iron Man (and nearly had a fit when I saw that the tickets are now £5.25 on the cheap day, making this no longer an inexpensive treat for us. We're going to have to be very choosy with what we decide to see there now). I expected, from the first few minutes, that it was going to be yet another jingoistic self-congratulatory American blockbuster, all cg action and bugger all plot or character - so I was startled and very pleased when it turned out to be (reasonably) well acted, with an American villain, fairly decent character development, and a blinkworthily realistic depiction of the current/recent political situation (and for that reason alone I can think of a number of Americans who won't like it at all). Over all it's a damn fine movie, thoroughly enjoyable, and has gone straight on our list of 'to buy's. Great stuff.
5) Was mightily gobsmacked with flabber well and truly gasted when, on hearing a quiet, rhythmic tapping from the garden, I found a woodpecker - one of these - drilling away at the goat willow! So that explains the holes all over the trunk! Ken was only saying yesterday he thought a woodpecker had been at it... It does signal the final days of the tree, alas, as the trunk and lower branches are now in a right state, with the bark cracking away and the branches feeling spongy and unsafe. Kai's not happy about losing his climbing tree, but understands there's nothing we can do about it. The tree must be infested with insects in the wood for it to be attacked like this. Heh, what with hedgehogs and the mole (which we still have), woodpeckers, the pair of blackbirds that have laid claim to the garden, the maggle family, the fine fat healthy slowworms (we know of five so far, but there are probably more), the mice under the compost bins, the frogs, the newts, the bees and the butterflies that visit, we have a proper little nature reserve here!
6) We have blueberries and greengages coming. And tonight we ceremoniously ate the first two fully ripe strawberries of the year (sorry Lutra, forgot the photo). They were wonderful, tart and sweet at the same time, the real thing, nothing like the bland and watery ones you can buy in supermarkets. Just a pity that we won't have all that many of them (the planters don't hold that many plants). Still, we must have a couple of dozen ripening already, so a bigger crop than last year, and bigger berries too.
7) We were all delighted that the Oz garden won gold - we all love it! (Burnham Nursery's orchids won gold too.) Crackin' stuff.
I'm supposed to be writing, but I'm tired (got to bed 1.30am and got up again at 7.30am. And Kai's on holiday!) May try for an early night instead...
Monday, May 19, 2008
Ow. owowowowow. Three hours in the garden this morning - legs aching...
Did well though. Lots of potting on, and I've sown some more cornfield and woodland seed mixes into seedtrays to give them a head start, because we're going to have to weed all the goat willow seedlings out of the meadow pretty soon, and that'll disturb all the germinating wildflower seeds. Planted on the Swiss chard too - and the spinach is almost ready to start being eaten. And we have our first tiny green tomato. There are between fifteen and eighteen flowers on each of the trusses: if they all fruit properly we shall be very happy.
Chelsea Flower Show 2008 starts today!
Saturday, May 17, 2008
So, where were we...?
First day of Kai's holiday is usually chill-out day - so we did. Lie-in, TV, Kai playing online (not sure what he was playing but it crashed Firefox at one point...), Ken making fried shrumps and scrambled duck eggs (was on special at Tesco) on toast for brunch... nice.
Ken customised my favourite jade bracelet(s) this afternoon. I bought the first one many years ago and wore it until the catch broke, at which point we replaced it with a proper spring ring. Then I found another identical bracelet, and thought it would be nice to join the two to make something a little chunkier (not being at all a 'delicate' sort of individual), but we never quite got round to it, and I kind of forgot about it until I found the two bracelets while looking for blue jewellery last month. I'm really pleased with the way it works!
Dr Who... Hmmm. Funny, if daft. I can't work out what they're trying to accomplish with this series - it's very uneven. And it's a Red Dwarf fest on Dave tonight, all the old favourites - Lister playing pool with planets, Ace Rimmer (what a guy!), human Kryten, Lister with space mumps... great fun.
Right. Loom looms...
Friday, May 16, 2008
First, a little foodporn for Lutra, because she likes it...
Tonight's dinner before the chicken and chips were added. The cucumber, sweet pepper and tomatoes were bought, the rest was homegrown - mixed Oriental leaves, baby watercress, radishes and radish sprouts (wonderfully hot and spicy; Kai and I loved them. Must get some more on the go) Absolutely delicious and just disgustingly healthy for us. I must practise the waterlily tomatoes though...
Phoenix didn't have any of the Poltergeist films (though I can get them from play.com, so will have to organise that at some point), so I rented AvP: Requiem for us.
Oh dear. It's dreadful. I don't think it would have been any better had we actually been able to see it - most of it is so bloody dark it's hard to make out what the hell is going on. A real disappointment.
Tired. How can I be tired? It's Friday, I can't be tired on Friday!
Off to see if a little fun writing will wake me up...
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Odd couple of days. A little more gardening was accomplished yesterday, in advance of the cooler wet weather (my strawberries and aubergines (what aubergines? I don't think I'm very good at growing aubergines. Nor roses) are in the greenhouse for the moment, until things improve, and a considerable amount of 'pod slaughtering was done today. I took an hour to watch my ebay-bought Ai no Kusabi DVD last night (mmmmmmmm...), and Shannon-gifted Gantz vol 1 this morning, after the Chelsea show highlights 2005. (It's... unusual. Interesting. Not one to collect, but it's certainly different.)
Kai's last day of school tomorrow before his two-week holiday. Having enjoyed Poltergeist 1, he wants to watch the other two in the series. Ken said they were on Teleport, so we settled down to watch 2 this evening - only to find they were no longer on Teleport. [sigh] Typical. We'll have to check out Phoenix and see if they have them, later. However, we did find Black Sheep which looked amusing - so we watched it...
It's very very funny, though I'd forgotten how amazingly realistic (and gross) Kiwi special effects can be (Weta Workshop. Blows spots off Shaun of the Dead!) We all enjoyed it - and I now think Kai would like Bad Taste, which we still have on video.
[bemused (and very amused)] Kai was holding one of his feet and gazing intently at it. "What's wrong with your foot?" I asked, innocently. "It's my toes." He replied, completely deadpan. "I'm arranging them in order of size and preference..."
Off to the loom. It's safer there. And there's the sushi I made earlier.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I find it strange that I absolutely cannot abide cockchafers but have no problem at all with rosechafers - in fact, I rather like them, they look like little ambulatory jewels...
Yet again, Tuesday was the new Monday, and much shopping was accomplished. And Sainsbug had lots of specials, which is always satisfying. But that took up all of the morning and left me knackered (I really must stop trying to carry so much! It's not good for me any more).
Made an interesting little find in the St Pete's Hospice charity shop though - a pair of avocado bowls. That is, bowls for holding halved avocados, that also look like halved avocados... I have this strange - passion is the wrong word, it's nowhere near as strong as that... urge, perhaps - to have the correct and unique tool for the job at hand. When it comes to crockery, we usually use the black Luminarc octagonal stuff that was a wedding present (not least because it's glass and doesn't make that mind-crunching squeal when cutlery scrapes it that I find most ceramic crockery makes. It's a sound that hurts my teeth) but when appropriate I also have: clear glass corn on the cob plates, shaped like the vegetable but smooth on the inside with the bobbly bits on the outside so the butter doesn't get wasted; a set of melon bowls, decorated like halved melons and with large-serrated edges; a very sharp, very fine tomato knife that is only used for tomatoes; even a different mug for different drinks (Wendy's black-with-purple-unicorn birthday present for ordinary coffee; a glass Bodum mug for 'real' coffee; Sue's 'Bodie moment' Yule present for soups; a small, lidded, blue and white dragon-decorated mug from Simone in Germany for herbal teas; little Indian teapot and yunomi for sencha and jasmine teas; and the Haadri mug for chocolate drinks with skooshy cream and sugar-free marshmallows). [bemused] Am I getting obsessively pernickity in me old age?
The attitude carries over to other things, as well. It's why I don't watch films on my computer - that's what the TV is for, my machine is for work. OK, for fun too, but not for watching films. Except maybe YouTube snippets. And it's why I like my phone and my camera to be separate, even though I freely admit that cameras with phones are a terrific invention.
Does this make me the opposite of a Swiss Army Knife, or its human incarnation?
On a less philosophical note, one of my cacti is flowering! It's the first time for this particular plant. A very pretty colour, I think. If it opens fully (and there have been occasions when they haven't) I'll take another photo.
I can take a break from the garden for a few days - other than tending the greenhouse, of course, and the new plantings - since we've accomplished everything we'd planned for this month. It's a nice feeling. Though I still have to sort out Roeg's Pool, and tackle the somewhat overgrown rockery, but these are less time sensitive, and can be taken at a more leisurely pace.
Speaking of leisurely, I shall try for an earlier night (once I've finished my chamomile tea, served, of course, in Simone's mug!) Lots to do tomorrow...
Monday, May 12, 2008
Morning skies can be beautifully tranquil. (Photo is link to a larger version, if anyone wants to see.)
The apple tree arrived this morning, as arranged, and I was very happy to see it's covered with loads of tiny developing apples. We may have fruit in the first year! We waited 'til Kai was home to plant it on the edge of the meadow: sprog is very happy, and wants me to train it so at least one branch makes an arch over the entrance path to his den. [bemused] I could give it a go I suppose...
All yesterday's transplantees have survived, with the possible exception of the Lady's Smock, but we may still be lucky there. Will have to wait and see. In the greenhouse, my marigolds are sprouting, and I now have six clementine shoots. Oh, and another kiwi, but I don't think I can do anything with them, given how big they grow. Might try to bonsai them instead.
And apparently it's been the hottest start to May since records began in 1766. This is not so good, especially if we get a dry spell over the summer again. I had to use the hosepipe to water tonight, something I don't like doing, but everything is drying out far too quickly. Kai enjoyed it though - was completely soaked by the time I shooed him indoors! It's dry in the greenhouse too: if I don't water the tomatoes at least three times a day they wilt. Still, there's rain forecast later this week, which will, hopefully, fill the water butt again, as well as save me time for a couple of days.
[sigh] And it's bloody bumble bug - cockchafer - season again. I really really cannot bear these buggers. They're big, loud, nasty, and they always target me. Vile creatures. For some completely inexplicable reason Ken doesn't like me killing them...
Taking evening off: Chelsea Flower Show highlights have reached 2003, and I'm going to sit and watch. It will be nice to do nothing for an hour or so.
And the Jangyu fic - Diner - is finished. First draft, anyway.
I'm really rather pleased with it.
Will decide where it's going to be published later. I probably need to fall over now.
Labels: Haadri short stories
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Well, apart from a little trimming under the plants on the bank, we've finished everything we set out to do this weekend. (In the garden anyway.) Cowslips, primula, white archangel, the yellow frilly tulips that always get eaten before they've had a chance to flower, and a handful of white violets now moved from front to back - along with our one lone Lady's Smock plant. We used to have quite a few of them, but they gradually died back and we haven't had any appear for years. They're gorgeous little native wildflowers, so please keep your fingers crossed it survives... Ken mowed the front, Kai and I managed some general tidying up, I made the cucumber frame in the greenhouse and performed some major snail slaughter amongst the lupins (which have come along splendidly this year, and have some sturdy flower spikes already). Not quite as knackering as yesterday, though still very hot, and I'm having to water the toms and the greenhouse courgette three times a day or they wilt. It gets up to 40° in there.
We had a moment's anxiety when the male blackbird managed to hop in there - and then tried to fly out. After a few seconds battering himself against the glass - I'm glad it's not a very high greenhouse, he didn't have enough space to build up any speed, or he could have hurt himself. Or cracked the panes - he found the door and flew off to the fence, complaining loudly about the indignity...
Other observations - last night's Dr Who... what a maudlin, hurried mess! Not as bad as it could have been, fortunately, but still a pretty poor showing, distinctly reminiscent of a Mary Sue fanfic. I wonder when we can expect the spinoff series?
Right - back to the loom.
Edit - [bemused] there's a recipe here for horseradish and lady's smock ice cream with hot summer jam. Whoever said British food was boring?
Saturday, May 10, 2008
A little battered, but this year my lily of the valley has not only come up, but actually flowered! They were one of my grandmother's favourite flowers. I love the scent.
And another busy day in the garden. K&K continued working on the goat willow, with Kai up in the branches guiding Ken's telescopic lopper, while I cut the offcuts into disposable pieces (trying to stop the seeds from dispersing). Then Kai hoed and weeded in the veg beds, and helped me trim round the edges. He found a tiny plant growing in a snailshell. (Ken took the pic: it's a little out of focus, but the batteries ran out before we could take any more.)
It doesn't sound like much, but it took hours and my legs and back and shoulders and neck are aching.
It's fun to watch the blackbirds from inside the greenhouse. They've been hunting worms for days: they do a little jump forward and stamp their feet, then jump backwards and prod at the ground with their beaks. If they're lucky (and they usually are) this results in another worm hanging from their beak. I assume they have nestlings...
Poltergeist is on at the moment, and Kai has special dispensation to stay up to watch it (it doesn't finish 'til 23.05). A good film, but very distracting. I'll plug myself into the musekicks, when my hair's dried, and try to get some work done...
Friday, May 09, 2008
And down came the rain... And the lightning is spectacular.
Thunder! And lightning! Not in the mountains - right overhead! (whoah, that was a big flash!) Kai helped me move the delicate things into the greenhouse and is now watching from Ken's study window. And I've shut the catflap, as knowing Argent he'd be out there playing with the storm cats if I let him, stoopit kit...
Oddly busy day, client site stuff, then a whole load of gardening. Then dinner and whole load more gardening, as my T&M seed order arrived and I wanted to get the marigolds (to fend off any possible pests) on the go as quickly as possible. The rest are for next year - including this interesting little thing, the pepino. Assuming I can get them to work, there will be pictures...
Storm's still hovering noisily, but no rain - yet, anyway. And I must away back to the loom.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Hot. Hot hot hot. So hot we have all the upstairs windows wide open and I'm using the organza 'insect curtain' in my room (finally put the hooks onto the skirting board and made the loops so it holds taut against the door jamb. Well, sort of tight. Enough to keep most insects out, anyway, though not the most determined) with the patio doors open to make it cool enough to work (because it's only May and faaaar too early to start using the tower fan).
Though I'm not sure how long I'll be here - I'm knackered. And it's been busy. Yesterday Ken and I had to spend several hours trimming the goat willow, which this year has produced a bumper crop of millions of tiny seed that are so light they get everywhere. I mean, the first time it happened it was kind of pretty, like something out of Legend, and only lasted about a week, but last year that grew to two weeks and was a lot heavier, and this year it became unbearable. We managed to strip the tree of about half of the damned things, which will no doubt help, and while Kai's on holiday (two weeks wef next Friday) I'm going to see if he can safely lop off some of the higher branches. He's also been told that it has to be kept under control, and he has to help, since it's his tree. I'd rather not lose it - it's native, and the bees love it - but we can't have this hassle every year...
'course, that really helped my hayfever. Though actually it was the breathing in of the things that was worse (ended up wrapping a scarf over my nose and mouth and looping it around the top of my head: looked like a pale blue ninja gardener!) However, I'm very pleased to say the tea-with-honey is really working (Gary, thanks for the suggestion, but I don't take pills unless I absolutely have to, and I'm not sure we have Benadryl over here. If it ever gets really bad, I keep Piriton anti-histamines in the house, in case anything stings me, since I seem to react badly to insect bites. Heh - allergic to insects and adore (working in) my garden: can't not write even though I have teno. It's not deliberate, honest. Where was I? Oh yes...)
And we have an apple tree coming, from Almondsbury Garden Centre - this one, in fact (though not this nursery, obviously!) Sue and GoodTwin may remember I was havering over the patio version when we were there: the one we have coming is full size, to plant on the edge of the meadow. Strictly speaking it's as a replacement for the goat willow, because I suspect that we'll have to take the thing down in a couple of years or so (the bark at the base has been attacked by something and is peeling away a little alarmingly. The tree is still sturdy enough for Kai to climb, but I'm keeping an eye on it.) This particular apple seems to have good disease resistance, so will be ideal for us since we prefer not to use chemicals.
In the greenhouse, I now have another batch of dragonfruit seedlings sprouting, and several of my clementine pips have germinated. Whether anything will come of them we'll have to see, but they're beautiful plants anyway. The first flowers on my big tomatoes are opening, the peppers - both organic and non - are almost visibly growing as I watch, and the cherry tomato seedlings are now in the big trough and looking happy. And the Swiss chard has sprouted. Oh, and my paeony is twice the size it was last year (though it still only has one flower bud. Maybe next year.)
And I'm running out of space.
Ken thought that would happen. [rolls eyes] Eh well, I'll manage.
We all went out after dark last night to see if we could see Mercury (we could. I spotted it first, in fact, which rather surprised everyone!) As a bonus, our bat is now awake and patrolling the garden every night (and is a bit confused by the greenhouse, I think; it wasn't there last year), and the flamewings are back. We are very fond of our flamewings. We know summer's almost here once we hear their high-pitched skreeeeing.
Kai's class earned 250 gold credits this year (so far) and their form tutor took them to Laser Fusion at Aspect Leisure Centre after school this evening. I was going to go and collect him, but after getting the Sainsbug's shop done and FirstDaying it into town to pick up a skoosh cylinder (Robert Dyas are now the only people who stock them anywhere near us, which is a bloody pain in the arse), and finding Wilkinson's are selling little acers for £2.99 (and of course buying one. No guarantee it'll be a success, but I'm keeping fingers crossed. It's a beautiful spring green with pale red bark), I struggled home and Ken volunteered to go instead. It's annoying in a way, as the place is only about a mile as the crow flies, or perhaps two in a car, out to Hick's Gate then around on the ring road, but it's two buses and over an hour for us... But one of Kai's form mates' mum offered them a lift back, which was very kind of her and cut almost an hour off the trip. I think Kai had fun, though laser quest isn't his favourite pastime...
The UK Gardens channel is showing highlights of previous years' Chelsea Flower Shows at the moment, in the run up to this year's I assume, and I'm thoroughly enjoying the programmes. 2001 is on at the moment - before I got hooked, so it's fun to see what I missed.
And it's started raining, only light, but it'll do the seedlings good, and has cooled everything down nicely. Unfortunately it'll also bring the thrice-damnèd 'pods out of hiding, and I should really go out there with torch and scissors, but I'm too tired and aching. I'll just have to deal with any damage tomorrow.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
[snuffle] Well, it looks like it's hayfever, not a cold, for which I am grateful. I think. Though a cold would clear up faster... A mug of peppermint and eucalyptus tea with a laaarge teaspoon of local honey mixed in it has helped the itching sinuses, but my eyes are gritty and tearing, which is a blasted nuisance.
Eh well. It's finite. Off to plant on cucumbers - and try to devise support for them...
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
[sigh] With it being bank holiday yesterday, this week Tuesday is the new Monday.
Which meant shopping - two loads of it. Since I needed to check out Proper Job for a couple more large troughs (for the organic peppers), I opted to shop at Tesco this time (the two are quite close to each other, as opposed to Sainsbug's, which is in the opposite direction). I prefer Sainsbug's - not at all impressed by Tesco's ethics and business practises - but unfortunately they stock a handful of things I can't get at Sainsbug's: organic apple sauce; economy diced turkey; Koka brand ramen, as I discovered today, not many varieties but better than nothing, as I don't get into town and the Chinese supermarket that much these days; and at the moment senior catfood that's nearly £1 cheaper than the same one at Sainsbug's, hence the second trip, as I couldn't carry everything in the first.
Proper Job only had very large troughs. I bought one, which will have to home the cherry tomatoes I think. But they did have natural pine TV tables (the sort you eat dinner from, that fold flat for storage) for £5.99 each (that's £2 cheaper than the ones I saw at The Range before they sold out!) So I picked up two on the second trip - and buggered my hands carrying them home. Will have to be careful for a couple of days...
Tesco had their Finest sweet peppers at half price. We'd never tried them (usually a bit pricey) so I picked some up. Used one in tonight's spagbol and it was delicious - I've panted some of the seeds to see if I can get them to grow (if the plant isn't hybrid, anyway. They don't tell you on the label, as far as I could see). Finest speciality yoghurts were on special too - bought wild blueberry, Devonshire fudge (Kai loved it!), hazelnut for Ken, and a Sweet William pear in butterscotch sauce (for me. Truly amazing). I mean, how can you resist (and then feel horribly guilty about, because of the airmiles) a label that says 'West Country yoghurt mixed with Channel Islands cream: wild blueberries from select Canadian fruit farms'? It's so thick the spoon stands upright...
Gorgeous day today, perfect drying weather (so I did. And we now have the summer downie on the bed). Temperature in the greenhouse got up close to 40°, which is OK if I'm on hand to water several times a day. I really must make the shade for it.
Had a letter from Guerilla Gardening when I finally struggled home, basically a press release for Richard's new book on the subject, and accompanied by a packet of Russian Giant sunflower seeds (apparently they can grow to nine foot high!) Will give those a go next year, I think: we'll need to organise a special bed for them.
Kai and I have been watching Twelve Kingdoms over the last few nights (we're up to episode 13 now) and loving it. It really is an incredibly beautiful and complex anime.
'ooray! My weather pixie has some new clothes - including a pair of baggy jeans when the weather's in the teens. I don't like the new boots though - they look like wellies! (Lutra's has changed too - she's now wearing glasses...)
Right, anything else?... Probably, but it doesn't spring immediately to mind. Except that I feel like I'm getting a cold. Keeping fingers crossed it's just hayfever - apparently the tree pollen is particularly heavy at the moment. Better have some local honey tomorrow...
Back to the rockface before I try for an early night, very tired and legs are aching like hell!
Monday, May 05, 2008
I'm almost afraid to blog this, in case I jinx it (no, I'm not normally superstitious, but read the story...)
Long-time readers might remember me mentioning this, my jade fang earring ->
It's an inch and a half long, and I bought it when I was seventeen (or maybe eighteen, you know me and numbers) when I was in my first year of sixth form college: I've had it for almost as long as I've known Wendy and a little longer than I've known Ken. It was originally a pendant, but I converted it into an earring when I had my ear pierced for the first time, and since then have worn it almost non-stop, only taking it out to clean it. It's been everywhere with me - Scotland, Wales, France, Denmark, Italy, US... In the last ten years it's developed the irritating habit of getting 'lost', usually when my hair pulls it out. GoodTwin might remember me talking about this, as it happened once when she was staying over, and she pointed out (at Weston-super-Mare beach) that it was hanging from my plait. It has always come back to me though, usually between an hour and several days later, and almost always without me searching for it. (Looking for it has usually proved counter-productive, as I've not been able to find it and that in itself has proved stressful.)
About a month ago I suddenly realised it was missing again. I made a cursory search indoors - very occasionally it pulls out when I'm asleep and I find it in the bed, usually by lying on it! - but as usual there was no sign. My greatest fear was that it had dropped in the garden while I was working out there: given the size of the garden the chances of it turning up were pretty slim. I've been wondering, unhappily, about what I could find to replace it since then, though not taken any steps to look, hope springing eternal and all that.
Today I decided to plant the snowdrops (which are in a very sad state, somewhat waterlogged and snail-nibbled) in front of my jasmine in the newly dug meadow. Two small pots' worth of potting compost and corms, in one precise part of what is a rather large area of bare earth. As I troweled a small hole for the snowdrops, something green caught my eye...
Yes, it was the fang. Unbroken, undamaged, perfectly fine. It had escaped Ken's thorough digging, forking and raking, and had I been planting a few inches to the right I'd never have known it was there. To say I'm gobsmacked and overjoyed is putting it mildly!
Hence my reluctance to jinx the peculiar luck associated with the charm. When Ken gets home (he's out on a walk to Stockwood with Kai) I'll see if he can bend the hook end a little closer to the bead, make it more difficult to pull out. (Ideally I'd love it on a sealed hoop so it wouldn't ever come out, but I don't think the tech exists to do that safely yet.)
Other news in brief: I've shunted things around in the greenhouse a little, after finding out how much room cucumbers need! The tomatoes have recovered from having the side-shoots pinched out and are looking very happy, as are the peppers, and the melons... ah hell, everything's looking good out there! And the Jangyu story is rather fun. Should be able to finish it tonight.
Off to make dinner - K&K are on their way back.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
At 4.30, half an hour before Sainsbug's closed, Ken volunteered to go shopping (Kai was out of milk), and as he closed the gate I was moved to... um... sing "Ticking away the moments that make up the dull day, fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way..." (In response to something Ken said, which now entirely escapes me.) As I closed the front door Kai turned to me and said, "You're very good at improv."
"Oh, it's not improv," I replied. "It's from my favourite Pink Floyd track, Time..."
This naturally led to a search for said track on YouTube (found it first try) - which led to me listening to it, then having Kai listen to it. Not too surprisingly, while he liked it, it didn't have quite the same impact on him as me, but he was fascinated when I explained that it means so much to me because, in my late twenties, this track, of all the music I've loved over the years, was the one that kicked me into actually getting my arse in gear and start writing the things I lived in my head...
For anyone who doesn't know it, this version (with tribute video) is very good quality for YouTube (but check the volume):
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way. Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town Waiting for someone or something to show you the way. Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain. You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today... And then one day you find ten years have got behind you, No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun. So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking Racing around to come up behind you again, The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older, Shorter of breath and one day closer to death. Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time, Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines; Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way The time is gone, the song is over, Thought I'd something more to say...My song. I still use it as a musekick when I'm falling behind.
K&K managed to get down to the park for the dawn chorus - they say it was very loud and very tuneful.
I had a lie-in. 'til 8.30, anyway. Then we all went out (in the intermittent rain) to try to get the rest of the meadow organised...
I've also pinched out the maincrop tomato sideshoots, potted on the cherry tomatoes and tidied up the greenhouse a little. And in hunting for advice on growing cucumbers, I came across this wonderful site, which I shall use next year for the year after's seed supplies.
To my relief, my acer is in fine form this year.
The Jangyu Haadri short story isn't too far off being finished. Hoping to get that done before Wednesday.
Back to the loom.
Saturday, May 03, 2008
I am very, very unimpressed. Blogger have now removed the BST setting from the formatting option, which has thrown out all the times on all my preceding posts. Why can't the buggers leave things alone? It was working perfectly fine before...
Busy day, but a satisfying one. I've now pruned the ivy-covered dead tree and trained my jasmine in the space, using bare ivy branches as supports. Of course I'll have to keep the ivy under control, but that shouldn't be too difficult now. And the jasmine should look gorgeous once it's settled and flowering.
Ken has finished digging over and extending the old meadow in preparation for raking/edging/seeding the new - a lot of work, but it'll be worth it to provide a native haven for the mini-bugs. I'll probably have to buy a few more seed packets though: it's quite a big space. But first we need to transplant the white archangel and cowslips from the front garden.
Kai alternated between helping me (weeding the new veg bed - sort of...) and helping Ken (pulling up ivy roots from the new meadow) - he's done very well today. I now have Swiss chard on the go, and will need to start the cauliflowers soon (not expecting too much from the caulis. Never tried growing them before, but the seeds aren't hugely expensive, whereas organic caulis are, so it's worth giving them a go).
Disappointing Dr Who. And I was horrified by the trailer for next week's. I'm really hoping there's a twist, making it not true... Is it me or is this series going downhill fast?
Legs are aching. K&K are planning to go down to the park at 5 tomorrow morning for International Dawn Chorus Day. Too early for me: the only way I'd manage that is if I stay up, and tonight I'm just a little too tired.
[meanders back to the loom...]
So I was sitting at my desk trying to get my blasted pen to work properly when Ken appeared at the kitchen door... Ken: "Before breakfast this morning Kai calculated the value of a half of a third to six decimal places. Me, bemused and confused: "Why?" Little voice from the other room: "He made me do it!"
In brief: Review finished and emailed off (while listening to Lutra's compilation CD, which I ripped earlier, and talking to Ken via ICQ. [bemused] I know carrying on a relationship via the 'tubes these days is nothing unusual, but with your partner, in the same house? Kinda cute, I think. Where was I? Oh yes...) Kai's brought home his end of term report, which is pretty much the same as the last one, except for his Satisfactorys for PE, nothing less than Good, and lots of Excellents and Outstandings. And he loved the mosquito trap.
I must have done more than that today, but I can't think what...
Now listening to The Dissociatives (no, I'm not linking to the official site, the intro screen opens with EXTREMELY LOUD MUSIC that nearly bust my eardrums). Hm. Interesting. Very... emo. So far anyway (first two tracks) [edit: then it picked up..]. Beautiful vocal harmonies, not something you hear much these days (well, I don't anyway). I can't see it becoming a firm favourite, but I do think it deserves more than one listen.
Right - loom...
(This is really pissing me off. The blogger software is refusing to post this update, telling me it'll be posted automatically when the time hits 00.01 am. Except it's now 00.11 and nothing's happening...)
And from Lutra's blog...
Friday, May 02, 2008
A parcel arrived twenty minutes ago, from Australia...
[happy grin] Now have 12 Kingdoms volumes 2 and 3, the director's cut of Alexander (which I knew was on its way so have resisted renting), a copy of Ock von Fiend to add to my vampire collection (I'm only collecting very specific titles these days, but this one is a treat!), three CDs of music (including White Rabbit! You found it! [GLOMPS]), a bag of wasabi roasted peas (I was going to say that the cooking instructions are in Japanese, then I realised it's a snack, not to cook...), a gorgeous 1980 book of Australian orchids (and having flicked through it I can see why Lutra always claims she thinks orchids are out to eat her: Aussie orchids do tend to have a somewhat... predatory appearance...), a handful of lovely postcards, and a bag of bits: a red leather squid keyring with googley eyes (and 'I'm Fresh!' embossed on its shell), a harmonica phone dangley (blurb says, "This petite auspicious red harmonica symbolises the joy of music, times of happiness and celebration. Our air is required to elicit the sweet sounds. Air is also associated with Chi, the life source... a symbol of the Phoenix..." See - music! I can't live without it!), a very neat squid pen, a heavy pewter (I think) tropical leaf that reminds me of the LotR mallorn leaf brooches and which I think I'll wear as a necklace - it's definitely different - and lastly, an Australian mosquito trap. Yes, really. The packet says - Catch them alive. For the novice trapper. Trap your own mosquito fur and make a fur coat.
It had us chortling aloud!
Absolutely brilliant, the lot of it! Hours of fun! [GLOMPS] Many thanks, Lutra!
In other news... Thompson and Morgan are having a half-price sale on all their veg seeds, so I've put in an order (all sorted for next year now!).
My current fics are coming along nicely. Hoping to post the Jangyu story this weekend.
I hurt my back yesterday. The greenhouse staging is just a tad too low for me to use it comfortably (which is why I'm looking for a stool for the greenhouse - did I say? Can't remember...) so back was aching when I finished work out there. And then Raptor tried to trip me up, and in twisting to avoid 1) hurting her 2) injuring myself, I wrenched something. Couldn't move last night. It's a lot better today, though I'm having to be careful not to put too much strain on it (no potting on for me today) as I can feel it wouldn't take much for it to go again. Hopefully it'll be fine again tomorrow.
Right. Back to the review I'm writing. Then tonight, it being Friday, I shall have fun...
Later edit: This is the leaf. Lutra tells me it came from a fair, and was handmade by a blacksmith - she thinks by these people. Isn't it amazing? (Ken's decided it's a good luck charm. That'd be nice, we could use some of that...)
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Happy Beltaine, All!And it's a beautiful start to the day, high light cloud and brilliant sunshine. There have been no casualties to my plantings yesterday (so far, at any rate), my courgettes now have flower buds, my cucumbers have tendrils, the peppers in the greenhouse (from non-organic fruit) have their second leaves while the ones on the kitchen window-shelf (organic) have now all sprouted - as have four of the galia melon seeds in the greenhouse. The strawberry plants are covered with flowers, the leek seedlings are now an inch long, and the watercress has sprouted and is filling its pot. All in all everything is looking wonderful out there! (Now I just have to keep the pests under control. Keeping fingers crossed for our hedgehog - there's been no sign of it yet this year...)
The only things I'm not sure about are the blueberries and the greengages: although we've had a lot of bees in the garden, I haven't seen that many around the fruit, and the greengages in particular don't looks as though there are many coming. But it may be too early to really tell.
[bemused] We've come to the conclusion that Argent isn't really a cat. Oh yes, physically he's in a cat's body, but inside... who knows? He's taken to lying out in the garden, on wet grass - not on the dry paving stones, or the rockery rocks, or the table - to sleep in the sun. And he comes out with me at night, like Quyn used to. And he talks. No, no idea what he's trying to say, but he gets quite frustrated when we don't understand, and whaps Raptor across the head - which we really don't want him to do as she's too frail to fight back. [shakes head] Strange little beastlie...
Kai has designed a model railway. No, not a Hornby one, this one is for the garden. He's found a site that sells all the kit, and has worked out that it would cost him £2,016 to buy everything he wants (wants, that is, not needs. The basics would come out at slightly less). He can get a starter kit (3 metres of track plus sleepers) for £50, apparently, and Ken tells me he's keen to order it. And he plans to have the engine shed where his log scramble is at the moment...
A miniature railway in the garden. Not sure how I feel about that...
Right - wash through and hung out (sun's really warm, it might all dry before the forecast rain arrives...): time for a cup of nettle tea and then back to work. To the
Later edit: I should have said that the miniature railway is for him and friends to ride on - a narrow gauge track with a little engine and some sort of small carriage, presumably...