Tuesday 27 July 2021

Cucamelon joy


Although the first four cucamelon seeds all germinated they never grew beyond a couple of leaves and eventually withered (probably overwatered, it seems to be my downfall). Undeterred I planted a couple more seeds and waited. They germinated to much warmer temperatures and they have really taken off in the last week or so, enough that I built them little tripods to climb up. They have cute little tendrils that curl and grip. It says you can plant them out, but I am thinking wait a while to avoid the upcoming thunder storms. I hardly care if they fruit now, I am just so pleased they grew. 

Stay safe. Be kind. Persist in the face of disappointment.

Sunday 25 July 2021

More small joys


Much to my joy the sweet peas have finally flowered ... just these two, but there might be others lurking.
The campanula flowered a month ago and I assumed that was it, but I dead-headed it anyway, and look, it has given me a second display:
The evening primrose continues to delight every evening. Each flower only lasts a day so we have to appreciate them while they last: 
I bought a couple of new things for the shady corner; a Sarcococca confusa by the window, which will grow quite tall and bloom in the winter, and a Brunnera Jack Frost (with the silvery embellished leaves) that will have blue flowers in the spring. The Brunnera has hairy leaves and I thought that might make it less appealing to the slugs (who have demolished the hosta almost completely), but they have already had a nibble:
Going to empty the recycle I found a pile of coloured glass pebbles, so I gathered them up and have made a bee watering bowl:
Now for the sad news: the slugs killed our beautiful passion flower plants, just days before it was going to bloom. I thought it had just wilted in the heat, but when I searched for answers one forum question mentioned slugs eating the stalk coating, and when I looked I realised that is what had happened. So we have swiftly bought a replacement, since dead plants are too depressing:
I have improvised some protection for the new plant, a barrier made from a coke bottle filled with, and surrounded by, crushed egg shells. And the slug patrols will be reinstated, having tried not to worry about them munching on the dahlias:
Stay safe. Be kind ... but not to the slugs.

Tuesday 20 July 2021

International reading


When we go for a charity shop trawl I often find that I am coming across books I have already read, and so I tend to gravitate towards authors with foreign sounding names, and it has been an excellent way to come across some interesting reads (as I have frequently found with translated fiction in the past.) First up 'The Sickness' by Venezuelan writer Alberto Barrera Tyszka, translated by Margaret Jill Costa (who also translated Jose Saramago's 'Death at Intervals'). Illness makes people behave peculiarly sometimes: Dr Miranda cannot bring himself to tell his elderly father that he (the father) is dying. Along side their relationship is his secretary Karina, who starts a correspondence with a very persistent hypochondriac patient that the doctor is attempting to ignore. Having pretended to be the doctor and offered a sympathetic ear she finds herself sucked in deeper than she expected, or can cope with. Both situations meander through the book and resolve themselves with a little honest, human communication, and the whole story is a delightful insight into the human condition, both its strengths and its weaknesses.

"Andrés ought to go to his father, show him the x-rays, tell him the truth, tell him exactly what's happening; he should, moreover, explain that further tests are needed, that from now on, his relationship with medicine will become uncomfortably close, so close he'll grow to loathe it; he should go to his father and tell him that it's hopeless, that there's not a thing they can do about it, that he has cancer and doesn't have much longer to live. How much longer exactly? Medical calendars tend to be vague: not much longer. Which always means less.
But he doesn't do any of these things. Postponing duties, especially when those duties are painful ones, is also a temporary way of surviving. The poet William Carlos Williams was also a doctor. He wrote: 'Many a time a man must watch the patient's mind as it watches him, distrusting him ...' Andrés didn't know how his father would react when he found out the truth. He distrusted both his and his father's minds because he wasn't at all sure about himself, about how he would react once he'd told his father the truth. He'd decided to confront the situation, however tragic, head on and talk to his father; but when the moment came, he didn't know how to, he felt invaded by thousands of tiny fears that raced around his mind like trapped lizards and always led him to postpone that duty yet again: he should talk to his father, but not just then, later." (p.43-44)

'The Panda Theory' by Pascale Garnier (no translator credit), who was apparently a very prolific writer. This is a curious little story about a stranger arriving in a small town, who both resists and invites being befriended by the locals. His presence is not explained explicitly but hints are dropped about a traumatic past. He seems like a lovely but troubled character trying to find solace. The slightly grotesque characters around him become more beautiful under his gaze, they are somewhat enchanted by him. I allowed myself to be sucked in, and then he just drops you in it at the end. Curiously satisfying. 

"Madeleine's face appeared through a fog of cigarette smoke. She had changed her hair, which was now held back on either side with combs. It suited her, made her look younger. Just behind her stood Rita, her badly lipsticked lips stretched in a crooked, timid smile.
'You look like you've seen a ghost. Shall we get a table? The bar's too busy.'
Rita instinctively headed over to the same table that she had shared with Marc two days earlier. Force of habit. The three of them sat down and José served each of them a glass of champagne.
'It's on the house! And there's more where that came from. Gabriel's like a brother to me. Just tell him whatever you want and I'll be right over.'
The women sat side by side, the curly little hairs on the backs of their necks visible in the mirror behind them. Madeleine raised her glass.
'I'm not sure what we're celebrating, but cheers!'
They clinked glasses. People are fragile. Hard and fragile, like glass." (p.86)

Rania Mamoun is a Sudanese writer, and 'Thirteen Months of Sunrise' (translated by Elizabeth Jaquette) is a delicate little collection of stories. I say stories, but it feels like anecdotes would be a more accurate description. It is like you are sitting beside her on the bus and she is just recounting something that happened to her, or to her friend. Nothing much happens in any of them, life is just happening, they are little windows on life. Here, 'A woman asleep on her bundle' describes a young girl's fascination with a homeless woman:

"She was always clean, never smelled bad and often glistened from the way she oiled her legs and hands. I often saw her moisturise, and sometimes I glimpsed her washing her clothes at the tap in the mosque before hanging them in some Good Samaritan's courtyard, either inside or in the open air. Opposite the mosque's eastern door, there was a walled-off area covered with hessian and plastic sheeting that was home to two scraggly neem trees that spread scant shade beneath them.
The woman changed her position as the sun moved. In the morning she sat on the north side of the wall, in the neem tree's shade, and in the afternoon she sat at the base of the wall on the east side, where shadows of the trees and building advanced towards her. At night she sometimes curled up there, while other times she disappeared. Some people supposed that she slept in the mosque, while others guessed that she went to a courtyard across the street, to shelter from the rain like anyone would. Either way, she always reappeared shortly afterwards like a rainbow." (p.43-44)

Stay safe. Be kind. Read something foreign.

Monday 19 July 2021

Evening Primrose Delight


Evening primrose, doing its thing, delightfully.

New View


From my bedroom window; next door has some geraniums and lilies but mostly there is concrete.
The other way there are a couple of overgrown shrubs, but again mostly concrete.
But it is lovely to look straight down and see another view of what I have created.

Stay safe. Be kind. Try and see things from a different angle.

Wednesday 14 July 2021

leaf delight


Just browsing round the plants and came across this delight yesterday. Leaf above, and tiny leaf concertina below before it has opened:
Also, white cornflower:
different kind of sunflower:
now a whole forest of persicara spikes;
I rehomed this tomato plant from Heaton road yesterday, abandoned by students moving out:
And last week I brought home more student orphan plants; a venus fly trap (now munching on a big fat house fly):
and this, that just looks like a tiny tree:
My second batch of basil seedlings are giving much joy, simply by growing. Am muchly anticipating a chicken, mayo and basil bagel in my near future:
Stay safe. Be kind. Save an abandoned houseplant.

Friday 9 July 2021

Delights in the garden in July

Well, I thought I had a post about my tumbling composter, but it seems not, so I can't remember how long this batch of compost has been cooking, but at most 3 or 4 months. I emptied it out yesterday and mulched pretty much the entire garden... Monty would be proud of me. One avocado stone has a root coming out so that was put in a pot, but another dozen went back in the bin for another go around. 

So many things giving me joy right now, every time I go out something else is adding to the lushness.
The big pot of wildflowers is looking wonderful, wishing I could turn it into a meadow:
The sunflowers are gradually flowering, not what I anticipated but lovely all the same:
Second batch of spinach, a little nibbled by the slugs but I will try and look after these better:
The pink oxalis has come right back, it was definitely the right call to cut it back, no sign of the mildew:
This curious mystery flower is in another wildflower pot, left after I pulled out the campion:
The violas go from strength to strength. I keep dead-heading them and more just come, they have been my second favourite after the cornflowers:
This is a persicara that Tish chose last year. It has come on a storm and has loads of flower spikes, a splash of red in out mostly purple garden:
The sweet peas have been a major disappointment! Look how big they are ... not a single flower. I have no idea what I am doing wrong:
Cornflowers give me much joy:
These tiny things are bunny tails, hopefully they will get bigger but aren't they adorable:
And the buddleia finally flowered too:

Stay safe. Be kind. Smell the flowers.

Tuesday 6 July 2021

Sunshine and rain


To remind me that the sun did shine for part of June. I meant to post more photos of the tree at the end of the road, I even took quite a few, and to my shame I have yet to establish what kind of tree it is.
And the up-side to all the rain is that both water buttts are full, though of course the garden does not need watering when the water buttts are full, one of life's conundrums.
Stay safe. Be kind. Walk in the rain.
Post script 7th July. Prompted by silly internet thingy Monkey and I splashed in all the puddles back and forth to the shop. It cheered us up, and gave us wet feet:

Sunday 4 July 2021

Baby Delight


Holding my granddaughter for the first time was, by definition, indescribable. 
I am overwhelmed. 
And I know all babies look the same but I can see a resemblance (Lewis at a week or so old):
though I have not seen any baby photos of Rachel, and Lewis tells me they think Ady may have ginger hair:
And because it makes you feel nostalgic, here are Tish and Jacob:
and my favourite baby photo of Monkey:

Stay safe. Be kind. Cuddle a baby.