Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I'M NOT GOING ANYWHERE!

"Of course Pluto seems a long way away. Everywhere seems a long way to you! You even think Hereford is too far."

"It is - "

"I know!" he said. "I know! I know what you're going to say - 'It is if you go in a rickshaw!'!".

Ming was gritting his teeth so hard, sparks flew from the corners of his mouth.

He folded his newspaper and pressed the edges against the kitchen table.

(To emphasise his masculine command?)

"But I'm not suggesting we go anywhere in a rickshaw." (He was shouting.) "Not even Hereford!" (Shouting - louder.) Why would we go in a rickshaw when we've got a spaceship in the shed!"

"I'm not going to Hereford in a spaceship!"

(I was certain of that!)

Ming took my hand.

I smiled.

(I couldn't help it.)

(He has that effect on me.)

Then he sighed, rose, made a pot of coffee.

(They don't have coffee on Mars.)

Worthing came down for breakfast.

"Cranmer carried his wife everywhere in a trunk" he said, pouring milk on his oats. "Miss Young told us."

Ming looked interested.


* * * * *

(The Tudors should be banned from the Curriculum.)

* * * * *

Ming bought a plant for the garden yesterday.

It looks like a tussock of dead grass.

Lots of people round here have them.




_____

Monday, April 28, 2008

PLUTONIANS MAKE AN ENTRANCE

Yesterday, I was thinking so much about snails I forgot to mention things less mundane.

Although I woke quite early, Ming already was downstairs and speaking to someone on the phone - in Martian.

My Martian is elementary.

I can:-

Count to ten.
And

I know the days of the week.
I can say:-

Good Morning
Good Evening
Hello
Goodbye
It's cold
It's hot
I love you
and
Help!.

Also:-

I'm in very great danger of being abducted.
And

A newspaper please.

When he had finished, Ming brought tea.

Why - I asked - hadn't he called me so I could have spoken to Didcott?

But it wasn't Didcott, he said. It was a prison guard - from the bus.

(A prison guard?)

(In Martian?)

Then he said he had to go, dressed quickly - and went.


I spent the rest of the day washing school clothes, agreeing with Worthing that homework is a bind but would he mind doing it anyway? - and throwing buckets of water at the honeysuckle bush in an attempt to wash away aphids.
That kind of thing.
* * * * *
Ming didn't crawl into bed until well after midnight.
"It's Didcott," he said. "We've got to get him off that bus. They're not all human there."
"I know," I said. "I heard you this morning, talking Martian."
"But that was a guard!" he said. "I knew about them."
(He hadn't told me!)
"Not guards, the prisoners. Some are from Pluto."
I was tired. I wasn't thinking properly. It seemed so unlikely - and so ludicrous - that I grinned.
"It's not funny." (He snapped.) "This is serious."
And he rolled to face the window.
So there I was - awake - and staring into darkness.
Thinking.



For Tomorrow

Sunday, April 27, 2008

THE NIGHT SNAILS ALMOST RUINED THE BRANDENBURG CONCERTOS

The weather is uncertain but warm.

Rumbles of thunder.

The young plants spend most hours outdoors. We bring them in at dusk.

Yesterday, we nearly forgot. It was late when we brought them in.

Dark.

I stooped. Picked up a pot.


Rustling.

I could hear rustling!

Loud rustling.

Not far away.

In the garden!


I listened.

I moved towards it.


Nothing.

I could see nothing.

I went back to the young plants.

Stooped for another pot.


Rustling.

Another rustling.

Another direction.

Nothing.

Nothing there.

Torch
.



Snails!


Chomping snails.

Noisily chomping snails.

Recipe for Night-Time Collection.

Listen. Point torch. Collect. Throw over The Rustbridgers' wall.
(The snail.)
Listen. Point torch. Collect. Throw over The Rustbridgers' wall.
Listen. Point torch. Collect. Throw over The Rustbridgers' wall.

Ming says the snails don't mind.
.
Their suspension is good.

(He 'did' snails in engineering.)

But - I wonder.

I also wonder whether Bach would ever have become a composer if he'd tried working at night when snails were eating.

I think he'd have given up.

(Wrong rhythm.)



For Tomorrow

Saturday, April 26, 2008

MARTIAN MATERIALS: AN ARGUMENT

.

Ming complained.

If I'd put the duvets in suitcases under the bed - our clothes wouldn't have been transported to Mars.
So I said - I didn't think of it.
and
I'm frightened of suitcases.
Then I asked why he needed so many skins of the kind we humans wear.

Ming said - For the prisoners.
It was a late delivery.

It was supposed to have arrived on Monday; Tuesday at the latest.



I shivered.

(Martian White with a Twist of Lime. Is that what Amy said . . . ?)

"So - all the prisoners are from Mars?"

Ming said - Only some. But their disguises are wearing out.

I asked (very unpleasantly - and I apologised later) - why they hadn't been provided with stronger ones?

His reply was long and rambling - and not entirely to the point.

(He got carried away.)

(He thought I was claiming human superiority.)

(!)

It was interesting though.

Human skins are fragile. They tear easily. What right did I (a human) have to criticise Martian textiles?

Humans lose their luggage nearly every time they fly anywhere. Why did I think it would be different in space?

Humans haven't thought of Sock-Power.

Earth has a 'Shoot-To-Kill-If-You-See-An-Alien' policy. That's why Martians have to wear disguises. (Did I want him killed?)


(This was the worst argument we'd had since the one about tomato seeds at the Garden Centre.)
And (finally) if he hadn't chosen such a good disguise I might not have agreed to marry him.

Initially, I thought this was rather romantic - and I smiled.

Afterwards, I wasn't sure.


SHOPPING LIST
Pappadums (three packets)
Washing powder
Eggs
Sharp sand
Onions
Ten five-inch clay pots
A tin of Tuna
Potting compost.

NOTE
Find out if Ming Porcelain Day Lilies (as recommended by Melanie!) can be ordered from the Garden Centre.


The temperature is rising. It's gonna be a hot day.

_____

Friday, April 25, 2008

FEAR IN THE SHED

I must think of something ordinary and reassuring.

I must weed.

I must re-pot my pumpkins.

I must do everything I can to take my mind from yesterday.

Perhaps I should sow beetroot?

* * * * *

It started alright.

(Yesterday.)

Slugs are irritating - but not alarming.

(Unless, as Linda comments, you get one stuck on the end of your finger!)

(But how, I ask, does a woman with the largest known collection of gardening gloves ever - manage to get a slug on the end of her finger?)

* * * * *
It's all the fault of the squash.

Ming wants to 'start off'' so many, I'm beginning to wonder whether the thought of returning to the M.O.D. (and dusting and polishing its nuclear weapons) is getting him down.

Is he thinking of farming instead?

But - he is my husband - 'for better or worse' - and the very 'worst' I was expecting yesterday was only that emptying the airing cupboard would be something of a trial.

But that was precisely where the trouble began.

* * * * *
I must think about knitting.

Or think about pressing some seeds into lichen on top of the garden wall.

(Or do it!)

Perhaps I should go for a long - very long - walk?

* * * * *
What could have possessed me?

A spirit of recklessness may have crept in.

The duvets for winter were heavy and awkward; I failed when I thought of the cupboard downstairs.

So I took all our clothes from the wardrobe, replaced them with bedding and towels; then I carried the shirts, and our knickers and socks, our vests and our trousers and jumpers and hankies and everything else to the shed.

The sensible part of me thought:-

"If the washing machines are needed, our clothes (which were now piled inside) - would be seen . And the person planning to use them (the machines) (Worthing or Ming) would remove them (the clothes) before turning them on (the machines)."

And the sensible part of me took great care to avoid the buttons and dials.

What I didn't consider was they (the machines) could possibly start on their own.

And another part of me thought:-

If something went wrong, our clothes (and the odd sock or two) would be swapped for some 'new' ones. It'd be fun to wear Martian attire for a change.

The wool shop. I think I'll go to the wool shop. I'll buy a pattern and knit.
Perhaps I should make lace. (Already I know how to tat.)
(Are there two 'T's at the end of 'tat' or just the one?)
If only I could dig something!
But - what I hadn't expected (the faint hearted should stop reading here) was a pile of flexible skins!
(For Martians to use.)
(When disguising themselves as humans.)
* * * * *
The parsley hasn't grown much.



For Tomorrow

Thursday, April 24, 2008

RAVENING HOARDS OF SLUGS, CITY DWELLERS AND (POSSIBLY?) MARTIANS

Sam (who grows and delivers our veg.) says the time will come when ravening hoards from cities will descend upon the countryside in search of food - and strip it bare.

There will be famine.

There will be violence.

Last night, it seems, an advance guard came from the ground (disguised as slugs) and ate all the chives in my garden.

There's been a bit of a surge on the Romanesques too - but nothing (neither slug, nor child nor snail) has bothered with the single Globe Artichoke I planted at the front of the house.

Good.

We've had a letter from the school.

This term, Year 5 will be learning about light and sound.

At breakfast, Worthing asked Ming if he knows anything about 'velocity'.

Grabbing a piece of charcoal from the cupboard where we keep things for 'Drawing With' Ming leapt onto a kitchen chair and began to fill the wall with equations and diagrams and pictures of spaceships.

(I think The Tudors have been getting him down recently.)

Worthing was entranced.

The post arrived - a paint chart.

Good timing!

Spring Cleaning should already have been under way - but it's such a chore!

It might be quicker (I've been thinking)
- and more entertaining ( I've been thinking) -
to paint over the dirt than to wash it off!

Worthing took hold of the chart. He was angry. He didn't like the idea of Ming's equations being painted over so soon.

"Spaceships and diagrams are more interesting than blankness and whiteness and boring old cleanness!" he said.

My breath caught.

Whiteness?

Cleanness?

Greenness!

According to paint makers, there are many forms of white.

Pale lemon is 'Citrus White'.

Pink is 'Rose White'.

'Polar White' is a very pale blue.

They've got a 'White With a Hint of Oat'. (Porridge.)

They've got a 'Sunset White'. (Pale Orange).

And they've got 'Apple White', 'Mint White' and 'White With Green Banana'.

My thinking was muddled. But a penny had certainly dropped.

Now - I wonder if there's a colour code for the pale, greenishness of aliens who haven't taken enough exercise.

* * * * *


For Tomorrow

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

BIRDCAGE

It was quite festive.

The guards took up positions beside the windows and doors; the driver took a garden chair out to the street so he could keep an eye on the bus; the prisoners settled themselves between the kitchen and living room; and I went round with a tray.

Ming was at school.

The only really difficult moment was when I asked Worthing to change Didcott's nappy.

When they came back from the bathroom, they had swapped places. Didcott now carried Worthing.

No-one thought it odd that I cried when I went to wave goodbye - Worthing looked so much like Ming.

* * * * *
The nasturtium survived the night.

Cats endanger it more than slugs do. They like to bat its leaves.
(The cats.)
So I've put a bird cage over it. I don't usually like garden ornaments - but old cage and new nasturtium look surprisingly good together.

The Romanesque has survived as well - and the hollyhock persists - though it has the same number of leaves as when I planted it two months ago. There's a constant cycle of slug damage and replacement. But it's holding its own. So maybe its roots are strong.

* * * * *

Having semi-submerged a crop of flowerpots yesterday, I'm now pressing inverted ones into the soil.

That makes it harder for cats to dig out my plants.

They like newly turned earth.

(The cats.)

(And some plants.)

(As long as you water them in.)

(The plants.)

(Not the cats.)

(I mean - plants should be watered in newly dug earth. Cats shouldn't.)

(Unless you want to get rid of them.)

(The cats.)

(And even then, it only sometimes works.)

(Watering cats.)

(And sometimes, watering plants gets rid of them.)

(If they don't need to be watered.)

Hm.

* * * * *

Ming spent the evening describing The Tudors so Worthing can be Didcott in lessons at school.

"Now do you see why Bleeding Bowls are useful? They'll remind us of Didcott while he's away,"
said Ming.

"But leeches! Leeches! Do we really need leeches?"

Leeches?
What Leeches?
They've gone.

_____


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

PLANTING FLOWERPOTS

Right.

So.

The house is hoovered and dusted. There are thirty-one mugs on the kitchen table. (For twenty prisoners, ten guards and a driver.) Didcott is nine months old (for the moment) and sitting on my knee.

I can hardly bear it - within a couple of hours, he will be gone.

Strangely, over the last few weeks, I have grown to love him.

His disposition is grim.

He is determined;

solid;

mostly silent;

- and always 'there'.

If I go to the shed, Didcott is 'there' - watching.

When the phone rings, Didcott is 'there' - listening.

When it is time for him to go to school, Didcott is 'there' - with reasons why he shouldn't have to go today!

But - now the moment has arrived for him to take his place in prison - he offers no excuses.

And I will miss him.

I clasp him tight.

I bounce him on my knee.

I wish he didn't have to go
.
* * * * *

To distract myself, I've spent the morning planting flowerpots.

Every day, from now on, I'll gather a good harvest of slugs; one from beneath each.

(Snails cluster;
slugs sleep alone.)

Then, having returned the pots to their semi-submerged places in the earth, I'll fill them with water. It will seep gently and economically only to the roots which need it. Precision gardening!

* * * * *

I've been out at the front too, pulling the last teasles and checking on the clover.

(Bright, green - and spreading!)

I've planted the first Romanesque.

I've planted the first nasturtium.

(If they are still there tomorrow, I'll plant more.)

(If they aren't; I won't.)

I hear someone mowing grass.

I HEAR THE BUS.


* * * * *

_____

Monday, April 21, 2008

SUSPICIONS ABOUT RUNNER BEANS AND COFFEE WITH VP

Gosh! I'm lucky. VP didn't bring her axe with her.

I'm not sure whether this was in deference to the genteel ambience of Poundbury Garden Centre, or whether she forgot. But, for whatever reason, her axe wasn't to be seen and I escaped with my life.

Indeed, there was nothing to suggest she was anything other than a charming, interesting, gardener from Chippenham.

She didn't mention Saturn once.

And while I put my foot in it over and over again by saying what I don't like about other people's gardens - and what I find funny about other people's blogs - and how marvellous my own garden is even though most of it has fallen apart in the wind - VP spoke only warmly about everyone and everything.

I passed on Wilb's good wishes from Rach.

And, just as I was about to leave, I did as Karen suggested - and asked probing questions about Skimbleshanks and Jess. Are they really cats - or alien beings - disguised?

VP laughed - in an off hand 'I-know-you're-only-joking' sort of way.

(That in itself was suspicious!)

I grew apprehensive.

Suddenly - I realised!

If VP is from Saturn, would she risk meeting me on her own?

I took a quick glance round the room.

Could her cats be 'shape-shifters'?

Were Skimbles and Jess here? Disguised as humans?

The waiter?

The woman at the cash till?

I ran from the coffee shop.

Heart beating.

And bought seeds.

(Some people turn to drink - some to seeds.)

Marigolds. (Ha! Mr Subjunctive!)

Californian Poppies. (Hello Rosa Sinensis!)

Wild flowers that are supposed to grow where nothing else will. (Take that you bit of trodden ground outside my living room window!)

More Runner Beans.

(Though I'm not sure these were the right ones to chose.)

Indeed, I'm more afraid of them than I am of aliens from Saturn. (Saturnians?)

(Saturnalians? - No! That can't be right!)

According to the packet, 'Wisley Magic Beans' give 'the heaviest yields of any garden variety'.

They have 'Long, smooth, straight pods with a delicious flavour'. They have a 'long picking season'.

So - what's the catch?

If these runner beans are that good, why grow any other variety?

Will Scarlet Runners be run out of town? Forced from shops? Removed from catalogues?

Obliterated from tradition?

Did VP, Skimbles and Jess bring them from Saturn?

Will the packet explode when I open it?

Will the chicken soup be ready in time for Didcott to drink when he returns from the Mary Rose?

- Who knows?

_____

Sunday, April 20, 2008

PLANS FOR THE WEEK

Monday - Coffee with VP at Poundbury.

Tuesday - Visit Worthing in prison.

Wednesday - Rest.

Thursday - Clear everything from the airing cupboard - towels, sheets, spare pillows, clothes - everything. (Ming is planning to grow a large crop of squash and needs extra space for seed trays.)

Friday - Something's bound to come up.

Ming says Didcott must swap places with Worthing.

The prison bus is now being taken on long trips down European motorways. The experience, says Ming, will advance Didcott's education.

I protest.

But Didcott is keen to go.

He says it's his 'Family Responsibility'.

This, I think, means he's heard enough about The Tudors for the moment.

"We've all felt like that from time to time," I assure him, "but," I say, "going to prison is not honourable means of escape."

(He's looking forward to the Mary Rose visit though - probably because there'll be crisps in his picnic box.)

To make sure the plan runs smoothly, Didcott has been practising 'nine months'.

The difference between eight and nine months in a baby is subtle but discernible. If he gets it wrong, we may all end up in prison.

(Then, who will do the watering?)

Ming suggested I practise looking 'Not Guilty' in front of the mirror.

I think I'm beginning to get the hang of it.

(When the exchange was effected last time, I was lucky enough to have had a fit. I didn't have to 'LOOK' anything. I was too busy lying on the floor being frightened and worrying how we'd get home.)

At least we won't need the rickshaw this time. The bus is coming to us.

I've bought a crate full of cheap mugs so we can offer everyone tea.

And several packets of chocolate digestives.

Indeed, the kitchen is beginning to look quite festive!

_____

Saturday, April 19, 2008

IS VP A MAD, AXE-WIELDING ALIEN FROM SATURN?

This is fun!

I'll be meeting VP for the first time on Monday.

She's coming to Dorset and suggests we have coffee together.

I'll find out if she really exists!

(If she is who she says she is.)

I'll ask hard questions.

(Suggestions?)

Poundbury Garden Centre is pretty upmarket.

(Not quite Austin, Texas - but getting there.)

Sofas in the café and home-made cakes. (No muddy boots or putting our feet up on chairs!)

Ming will take a day off school.

(He insists.)

(Didcott will be at the 'Mary Rose' with the rest of their class.)

(More Tudors!)

Ming will lurk in town.

(Different café.)

He'll be playing 'GO' (boring, ancient Japanese Game) - with a rural clergyman friend who has a very large beard.
(False?)
(Beard; not friendship.)
I don't play it.
(GO.)
(Actually, I'm not bright enough. I don't know where to put the pieces and I cry if I lose.)
(And I do.)
(Lose.)
(Always.)
But if VP turns out to be a mad, axe wielding alien from Saturn instead of a respectable gardening lady from Chippenham (which seems to be Ming's main concern) - he'll be there in a flash.
So I'm safe.
(Probably - it's a fifteen minute walk up hill.)
(But he's got long legs.)
(Green.)

_____

Friday, April 18, 2008

FOSSILISED ROSES AND THE RUNNER BEAN RACE

I've picked a rose.

It sits (with petals distorted and stunted and crumpled in on themselves) in a glass tumbler in the kitchen.

(Next to the Bleeding Bowls.)

Short stemmed.

These ones (Madame Alfred Carriere) usually fall apart in an afternoon.

But this - it simply 'exists'. Nothing droops. Nothing drops. It's an 'immobile' rose.

Mrs Rustbridger called round; looking for tea.

Her roses are distorted.

Her roses have Blackspot.

Mine don't.

(Ha!)

It's the wind.

Blackspot is irrelevant.

The buds are fossilised.

(Hope the Rambling Rector isn't a fossil too!)


* * * * *
Miss Martin came round - for Ming.

Ming was at school.

I showed her my runner beans.

(They are healthy. Inspiring.)

(Some already need canes!)

Then I showed her the ones planted according to her instructions (ha!) - row upon row of empty looking pots.

"What's the point," I asked (bitterly) of having them sit outside the door; in the way; in the cold; doing nothing - when I could have put them in the airing cupboard?"

She told me not to worry. They'll come up 'in the end'.

. . . . . Meanwhile . . .

Ming arrived home from school.

He looked at her and ran upstairs to change.

Miss Martin left.

Abruptly.

(I thought.)

I followed her to the door.

Her chauffeur was waiting in the car outside.

He raised an eyebrow in a friendly way and Ming waved from an upstairs window.

(?)


* * * * *
The Globe Artichoke plants are doing fine.

They are tough.

They are strong.

They are unblemished and green.

Thriving.


This morning, I asked Ming if he is really male.

He laughed - and asked how I could possibly doubt it!

"On Mars," he added, "we don't approach gender as you earth-people do."

Then he smiled again.

Oh.

The parsley doesn't seem to be getting anywhere

_____

Thursday, April 17, 2008

OH HOW BLEAK LIFE IS - THE BUDS ARE SHRIVELLING AND THE HEADMASTER'S COMPLAINING

The Madame Alfred Carriere Rose knows English.

I wish I'd been warned!

Its blooms are oversized - I said. (And droopy!)

I complained of its pinkish tinge.

But I didn't know it was listening!

Perhaps I should have phrased it better?

For now, it mopes.

The buds are opening too soon (before they have properly swelled). The petals are small and their edges are dulled with brown.

To dislike pinkish and large - should not be taken to mean I like small, discoloured and distorted.

So -
I must be polite; grovel; explain.

I'm glad it speaks English - cos I don't know 'Rose'.


* * * * *
PLANTS OUTSIDE OUR LIVING ROOM WINDOW
(THE LAST, EXCITING EPISODE)
PLANT IN WAITING:-
BLACKCURRANT BUSH
My allotment is now a housing estate.
(And I don't trust Ming's to last.)
So until we find one 'for ever and aye' I keep our fruit bushes in 'holding bays' - with a blackcurrant one (by our window) between the nettles and mint.
(Mint? Did I list Mint in the 'Plants That Are Meant To Be There'?)
Hidden in the shrubbery and down by the apple tree there are more.
1.) Two Blackcurrant bushes.
2.) One Whitecurrant bush which I thought was dead but which suddenly has leaves on.
3.) One dead Red Cob Nut. (Which might be a dead Red Hazel.)
4.) One green Hazel that Ming says isn't a hazel at all.
Witch Hazel? - Wych Hazel? - NUT BUSH!
END OF INVENTORY
POM!
* * * * *
Letter from Headmaster.
Ming's hair is too short and too green.
* * * * *
North East wind.
* * * * *
Need to buy tea.


___





Wednesday, April 16, 2008

BLEEDING BOWLS - AND THAT CHAUFFEUR AGAIN

I was right about the Tudors.

Ming and Didcott came home from school yesterday with bleeding bowls - they'd made them from aluminium foil.

There was a pool of blood in each one.

- Flour, oil, salt and food colouring - mixed and cooked.

Both bowls are on display in the middle of the kitchen table.

I wish we had a dining room.

I wish they hadn't made leeches.

* * * * *

Last night, the moon was two-thirds full - and bright.

With two stars above it - in an otherwise empty sky.

One to the left; one to the right.

Equidistant.

(Where its ear-tips would be if the moon had ears.)

(Cat's ears.)

Later, by chance, I woke (unusual!) and went to look at those stars.

Clouds came across the moon but there was light - light enough to see into the garden.

Miss Martin's chauffeur was coming out of our shed, carrying a large, striped, laundry bag.

I thought of waking Ming.

(At night, he goes back to his usual age.)

But he looked so peaceful (so luminously green) I hesitated to wake him.

When I returned to the window - the chauffeur was gone.





._____

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

AGE AND IRISES

I know how to change Ming's age.

He showed me!

Under his skin, between his shoulder blades - is a dial.

Rub clockwise - he gets older.

Rub anti-clockwise - he grows younger.

Ming says humans have dials too.

He's seen parents rub the backs of their babies.

(That proves it?)

Martians are fascinated by humans. Humans seem only to grow older.

Why?

One of his missions is to learn whether this is because our dials don't function properly or whether we never think of rubbing in the opposite direction.

(!)

Diffidently, he asked if he might rub my back widdershins as an experiment.

No!

I'm nervous.

I still am.

What if he creeps secretly from behind and rubs my dial?

Before I know it, I'll be three!

(Do left-handed people rub widdershins? I expect so. And the children of left-handed people grow older - don't they?)


AND NOW FOR - TODAY'S THRILLING INSTALMENT OF PLANTS OUTSIDE MY LIVING ROOM WINDOW!
-
PLANTS WHICH ARE SORT OF THERE - BUT NOT QUITE:-

FLAG IRISES

Every spring, they rise valiantly from the ground.

Every spring. I show them to Robert, Ceres and Caddis.

"Look. These are plants," I say.

"I want them to grow," I say.

(Trying not to sound patronising.)

"Please don't tread on them!"

(I say.)

Robert, Caddis and Ceres smile.

Forget.

And tread on them the next time they need an eighteen inch short-cut.

* * * * *

Caddis says she's not named after cherries - but a planet.

(?)

_____

Monday, April 14, 2008

I START AN INVENTORY OF GARDEN PLANTS. I TRY TO USE LATIN NAMES. BRIEFLY, I CONSIDER A CAREER AS A CRIMINAL. MELANIE BRINGS ME BACK TO EARTH.

White Sage:-
To me, it's a lumpy old plant with woody stems that split - grow top heavy - and fall over sideways - revealing dull and dusty underskirts with spiders in.

But, suddenly, I am tantalised by the idea that White Sage might be a dangerous hallucinogen! (Californian!) I could pack it in bundles and sell it to shady characters! They would give me lots of money for it! I'd be rich!

Would the lady in the back street bookshop be my agent? (I wondered.)

If she were my agent, would she stop threatening me with flattened geranium flowers? (I wondered.)

I'll never find out.

My Sage is boring old cottage-garden sage with woody stems and dusty underskirts and spiders - and the man who comes to read the gas metre says it gets in his way. (Huh!)

I'll have to look for another way to make a fortune.


INVENTORY CONTINUED:-
PLANTS WHICH WERE THERE UNTIL THEY WERE STEPPED ON:-

1. More Hollyhocks

2. Californian Poppies

3. The beginnings of a Holly Hedge

4. Mock Orange.

I remember making a fuss at the garden centre; insisting they find me a Philadelphus Coronarius Aureus because I liked the golden leaves.

But why? The ground would have been too dry. If Robert, Ceres and Caddis hadn't landed on the poor little plant when they swung off the lamp-post, it would have died anyway.
* * * * *
Ming wants to visit Hereford.

I said - "It's too far. We'd never get there and back in a day."

Ming said - "Surely Hereford isn't more distant than Mars?"

I said - "It is in a rickshaw!"

* * * * *
The Melanie that knows about Salvias - has a blog at Old Country Gardens

_____

Sunday, April 13, 2008

MISS MARTIN (UNFORTUNATELY) - SCALE INSECTS AND JAM

Bright start to the day. Rain falling straight down in silver lines through the sunshine. (Instead of being pushed earthwards and shoved to the side by the wind.)

* * * * *
Miss Martin phoned.

She asked if Ming would be at the M.O.D. for work tomorrow.

I said this is unlikely because he's still in prison.

She said "Oh yes!", paused, and rang off.

(She's good at pauses.)

It strikes me that she takes an unusually close interest in her cleaning staff.

INVENTORY OF PLANTS GROWING OUTSIDE MY LIVING ROOM WINDOW CONT.
(Further!)

CONDITIONS
Done them!

Today:-
PLANTS WHICH ARE OUTSIDE MY HOUSE BECAUSE I PUT THEM THERE AND BECAUSE I LIKE THEM AND BECAUSE I THINK THEY LOOK GOOD IN THAT SITUATION AND WHICH ARE STILL THERE BECAUSE NO-ONE HAS TRODDEN ON THEM (YET):-

One hollyhock - over-wintered in situ. - home to scale insects. (It doesn't seem to ming - I mean mind.)

Daffodils - there are two pretty ones still in bloom (four, pale, double-blooms to a stem).

(I think Robert, Ceres and Caddis saw me talking to their mum after they'd pulled the heads off the last lot - and their apprehension protected my flowers.)

I was asking her why she'd called Ceres 'Ceres'.

Answer - 'She was pink and round when she was born'.

Eh?

* * * * *

I've been looking through jam books.

Lucy says it's a waste of time making jam when you can buy it.

I say it's a waste of time eating - if it's shop bought jam.

Lucy tells me it comes from the W.I. market.

- Well, that's different. She should have said so in the first place!

(Sometimes, people simply don't make the effort to be clear.)

_____

Saturday, April 12, 2008

INVENTORY OF PLANTS GROWING OUTSIDE MY LIVING ROOM WINDOW CONTINUED

CONDITIONS
(Same as yesterday - only wetter.)
Sheltered.
East facing.
Very poor soil.
Very, very dry.

PLANTS OF SENTIMENT:-

1. Sage - because I was given it and it's nice to have a herb, even if you don't like it (which I don't).
.
2. A purple clematis - an elderly friend asked me to look after it; then she died. How could I do anything other than plant it?

* * * * *
Worthing phoned.

He's missing us.

I cried and said I'm missing him too.

I've been seized by a multi-faceted and awful thought!

a.) I don't understand how age works on Mars.
b.) Could my children be older than me?
c.) Very old men?
d.) Could Ming be younger than I have assumed?
e.) A baby?

I'll have to ask.
* * * * *
To take my mind off things, I've drawn a rough diagram of the garden in front of the living room window; complete with clover patch and lampost.


This gives the impression my house consists of one room only.

It doesn't.

More hail. .
More rain. .
More April.

_____

Friday, April 11, 2008

DEFENSIVE GARDENING AND THE UNRELIABILITY OF WASHING MACHINES

INVENTORY OF PLANTS GROWING OUTSIDE MY LIVING ROOM WINDOW.

CONDITIONS
Sheltered.
East facing.
Very poor soil.
Very, very dry.

(I'll divide the plants into categories.)

Today:-
PLANTS FOR SELF DEFENCE

1. Nettles

2. Teasles.

(Not a long list - but an important one!)

Nettles and teasles prevent Robert, Caddis and Ceres from leaning in through my open window to ask why:-

a.) I've left books on the living-room floor
b.) I haven't done the hoovering
c.) I don't have a television.

PLANS FOR LATER THIS YEAR:-

1. Plant lemon balm in among the nettles.

2. Replace teasles with Globe Artichokes.

(Aren't lists satisfying!)
.

* * * * *

Ming and Didcott looked very smart yesterday in their navy blue uniforms.

Grey trousers.
Blazers with gold embroidered emblems on their breast pockets.
White shirts.
Navy ties with thin gold stripes slanting down at 45 degrees.
Black shoes.

Letter from headmaster.

Please would I provide my children with the correct uniform?

What?

I looked at the emblem.

Ming looked sheepish.

'HEREFORD COUNTY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS'
(!)
(?)
"Ming!" I said. "We must go to a proper school outfitters! You can't expect Martian washing machines to know the difference between Dorset and Herefordshire!"

* * * * *
(I think I'm using too many exclamation marks.)
_____


Thursday, April 10, 2008

ASTRO-PHYSICS , THE TUDOR DYNASTY AND CLOVER

Ming and Didcott went to school today - aged ten.

"Don't worry about Worthing," he said, as I kissed them goodbye. "I won't let him down, I promise. I'm good at astro-physics."

I said - 'Astro-physics' isn't on the Year Five curriculum.

He wanted to know what they might be doing instead.

I knew the answer. Lucy told me the other day when we were discussing 'modern education'.

"The Tudors."

"What are they?" he whispered (alarmed). "I don't think we have them on Mars!"

Explaining didn't help.

"Don't worry," I said. "That's what schools are for - learning things!"


* * * * *

There's an arc of bare earth round the street lamp - where the children gather and 'hang'.

And they've stamped out a path at a tangent - a 'short cut' for when they play 'It'.

The Philadelphus (Coronarius?) I planted there, lasted for less than a week.

And though that was more than three years ago now, there's a hollow still marking the spot.

. . . . . . . . . . Clover?

(That's what Melissa suggests.)

I went to the front of the house and thought.

I looked at the circle - the tangent - the bare, dusty earth, the clover.

Clover?

It's found it's own home!

Already it's lush in the hollow - and reaching into the grass!

(What's left of it!)

I don't need to worry about growing conditions!

I won't need to buy seed!

Ha! I've got a new lawn!

(Total area - about three square feet.)

* * * * *
I made packed lunches for Didcott and Ming.

I hope no-one asks why they're green!

(Didcott and Ming.)

_____

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

FORSYTHIA

One-track conversation:-

Is it morally acceptable to escape prison by swapping identities with your eight month old son?

Ming says Worthing wanted to do it. He chose to be eight-months old. It was perfect cover!

(No wonder Worthing suddenly seemed to like Syllabubs!)

True; no-one noticed the baby that left in the Head Guard's arms was Ming.

The Head Guard even changed his nappy!

(I'll send three pumpkins, I think!)

Until yesterday, I didn't feel like a mother.

Didcott fed and clothed Worthing.

I dug the garden.

But, now, he's in prison - and I want him back!

Ming is sorrowful.

"Didn't you want to see me?" he asks (as he follows me mournfully round the house).

I've invented a repost -

'Oh! Go pull a weed!'

Good that, eh?

(Not that I say it out loud!)

Of course I was wanting to see him! Every minute!

"We'll just swap around," he says consolingly. "Me, Didcott and Worthing. We'll go to prison in turns."

* * * * *

(He's given me Forsythia cuttings. Leaned over a neighbour's wall and . . . )

* * * * *

(Now he's at the Horticultural Society buying Rooting Powder.)

* * * * *

(He's alright really!)

(Even if he has left our youngest son incarcerated on an M.O.D. bus!)

(!)

_____

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

PLANTING BAYCORNS

Weary.

Staying in bed today!

* * * * *

Didcott came to my room and asked if he could take Worthing to the allotment so they could count Syllabubs.

I said I didn't think Worthing is likely even to be faintly interested in Syllabubs!

Didcott said, "You never know.".

As it turned out, I didn't.

* * * * *
Had a brief potter round the garden.

Found a bay-tree berry on the path - beside some fallen-over flower-pots.

Mice (or birds) had gnawed (or pecked) away the flesh; leaving a pale brown nut; smooth; tactile.

I looked around - and found more.

Planted them.

They were very light.; maybe they've dried out.

Perhaps they were ones a squirrel didn't want?

Maybe they won't grow.

Interesting though.

I'm calling them 'Bay-corns'.

Back to bed.

* * * * *
Later:-

Didcott's just called up the stairs. There are nine shoots from seven tubers on the Jerusalem Artichokes at the allotment.
He's putting the kettle on.

* * * * *
Later still:-

Didcott didn't bring tea.

Ming did.

A mug in each hand.

He wanted to know why Didcott wasn't at school.

I fainted.

* * * * *

(No, I didn't. I don't faint. I wish I could have fainted though. It would have been so expressive!)