I don’t like gardening. But this year, in this house, I’m trying to keep a garden alive.
The previous owners of the house clearly got too busy? too bored? to look after the gardens properly. Last year, we spent a week or so basically ripping up everything that looked too dead to survive on it’s own (along with Reiver). We realised, while doing it, that someone at some point had loved those gardens, a lot. They were well planted, well maintained, and then pretty much ignored for a couple of years prior to Tobermory and I moving in. That was all well and good, but then.. well, winter, plus various other things meant that I pretty much completely ignored Outside except for a cursory attack of the lawnmower periodically.
Unsurprisingly, this meant that most of the gardens have been colonised by the lawn, and in fact look better than the ACTUAL lawn right now. For some reason unknown to me, as I don’t speak gardening well enough, the lawns have decided they’d rather be mossy and crap, and the grass has taken up residence where it doesn’t get mowed. Anyway. That’s this summer’s problem, buying some grass seed and trying to get it to look like grass not long moss.
There are three gardens out front. Two of them were very sensibly (by previous owners) covered in weedmat and rocks. The grass has attacked there, which I periodically attack back. I think I need to remove all the rocks, re-mat, and then re-rock to properly solve that one. Again, a job for the summer. The remaining garden is very small, lives by the front door, and (other than the cat poop) mostly contains impatiens (aka, busy lizzy), which I am hoping will completely take over this summer and thereby remove my obligations to weed it.
Finally, there are gardens by our courtyard. As part of last summer’s destruction, we removed a very sad looking shrub from one, pulled out handfuls upon handfuls of impatiens, cut back camellias and ferns, and.. left it alone, pretty much. The busy lizzy have re-colonised one garden, we planted a couple of lavender bushes and a rosemary, which, well, they haven’t died, so I call that a win. The camellias have flowered gloriously, the ferns planted around said camellias mean we can’t see any dirt or weeds, so other than the occasional attack with loppers, I leave them alone.
The garden with the shrub turned out to contain a very tired rosebush (it’s subsequently died), and the remnants of what must have been a wonderful display of bulbs. Someone, at some point, spent a lot of time and care on these gardens; they’d planted bulbs to display over winter*, some to turn up in spring**, and some that hadn’t sprouted when I dug all the grass out of it a month ago.
Of course, I have kittens now, who view a freshly dug garden as a toilet that they must defile as rapidly as possible. Given that I intended it for a herb garden, this is a mild issue.
Today, Tobermory and I built a wee cage around the garden, with netting and garden-edging-stuff and a certain amount of miscommunication, as appears to be a pre-requisite for all DIY projects. I dug over it again, removed all the cat poo, removed more grass and root systems, turned in an enormous bag of something that alleges to be dirt specially designed for growing herbs in, and planted basil, chives, sage, coriander, parsley, and strawberries (with special strawberry fertiliser).
I don’t actually enjoy gardening much. Especially weeding, which I absolutely detest. But there’s something nice about a physical task having a good looking result, and something pleasant about getting my (gloved) hands into rich earth.
This summer, I’m going to try and keep just these few gardens alive. The ones that the lawn has taken over, I’ll cede to grass. I only have so much time available, and it’s easier to shove a lawnmower and line trimmer around than it is to pull handfuls of grass out every weekend. But the newly christened herb garden, that I will try and keep. I’m no green-fingered genius, but I want to try a new challenge.
* I can’t identify the flower, but they’re gorgeously vivid orange in the middle of winter. I’ve replanted the bulbs elsewhere in vague hopes they’ll survive.
** Also unidentifiable by me, but vaguely bell-like white flowers. Probably deadly common, but .. I don’t have green fingers, or a plant-cyclopaedia in my head.
It is Queen’s Birthday weekend, and I have managed to get all three days of it off work. Hooray!
I gave the kittens a hunk of raw beef this morning. It was absolutely adorable. There were little spats of YOU ARE EATING FOOD IN MY PERSONAL SPACE and killing Rrrrrrrrr!! noises. Tigra killed hers before eating it – the full-on toss meat in air to break it’s neck, bat it about the floor, bite down HARD – all while making adorable little GROWLY noises, before she eventually ate it.
We are eating the rest of the meat in a mystery stew – I knew the age of the contents of the freezer, but not exactly what cut all the dead cow in there was. Stew seemed to be the answer.
We have been busy, the last two days. Friday night, we emptied the spa pool and took out the filter for a clean. Tobermory managed to bash his head on the framing of the crawlspace door, and gave himself a concussion so bad I insisted we go to A&E. He turned out to be fine, but the doctor did say that I was right to bring him in. So, that was Friday.
Saturday, with Pstyken and Thaqui (well, fairly obviously Thaqui owing to the fact he lives here), we scrubbed the hell out of the spa with meths, then refilled it. It’s actually quite hard work, not to mention that all those alcohol fumes floating around the air aren’t much fun.
Tobermory and I also managed to have a rather vicious spat (during which I was a horrible harpy, and subsequently managed to cry so hard that I’ve burst blood vessels under my eyes, d’oh). I should note we were both in various different ways wrong, and frankly it boils down to the usual couply issue of communication-fail. Such is life.
Today, I committed acts of violence against the front gardens. I had kitten assistance! They were shut inside while we cleaned the spa, so that they didn’t decide to drink the chemicals, so of course today they went absolutely bananas outside. Boomer kept standing in the middle of the plants that I was trying to hack, leading to a couple of moments where it was chop, chop, cho-AUGH KITTEN TAIL. He is a lovely affectionate cat, which is wonderful except when he insists on Helping with Everything.
Tigra and Boomer also had several wonderful games of … you know, I have no idea what it actually was, except it appeared to involve chasing each other up and down trees at opposite sides of the section. Presumably it made sense to them.
It has been a pleasant couple of days, either despite of because of working hard. And I intend to spend the holiday Monday sitting on my backside, doing as little as possible.
Moose threw a birthday party on Saturday. The theme was “Game characters”, and I went as Carmen Sandiego.
It was a fantastic night, there were loads of awesome costumes, lots of good people, an amazing cake, and Tobermory and I took home the Best Dressed Male (Hitman*) and Best Dressed Female prizes.
I wrote a seven page letter of burble to my grandmother tonight. I’m going to send it to her along with photos of the party, so that she feels like she’s included. The burble isn’t just about the party, it’s about the house and the kittens and … everything. Well, a cheerful everything, I don’t include the bad bits, just a nice positive chatty natter that she can read and re-read, and photos she can show the nurses, and so on.
There was more I wanted to write about the party, but after talking to Mum tonight, I am feeling somewhat melancholic.
Nana is 80 now. She’s not going to last too much longer. She’s had her second major bowel obstruction in a few years (she is on some amazing drugs for it right now), and she’s far too frail for surgery. Assuming she would actually submit to going to hospital at all, which is far from certain.
She’s had a good innings, and honestly her quality of life is slowly going down hill.
But I’ll still miss Nana when she goes.
* I know I’m biased and all, but damn he looked good.
The kittens were allowed their first (supervised) explore outside today. Turns out, Boomer’s a tree climber. Fortunately, he knows how to get down on his own.
Turns out we didn’t need to be concerned about the spa pool. Tigra went exploring, and sat on the covers of it quite happily. Didn’t even get her little paws wet.
We also have a flatmate now – Thaqui has moved in for a bit. He’s got the downstairs bedroom and bathroom to himself, and I have one less toilet to clean.
It’s been a pleasant couple of days, so far. I’ve taken the time to do some various chores that I keep not-managing during work weeks. I have yet to mow the lawns, though.
I fell over in the carpark at the mall. Landed square on my knee, rolled with it, and sat on the ground wanting to swear most mightily. I didn’t, because there was a lovely elderly couple nearby, who hobbled over to check that I was OK.
I suspect by his bearing that the elderly gentleman was ex-military. He looked me over, after I had assured them that I was OK, and noted with a smile that rolling probably didn’t make it hurt much less, and that I looked by my face as if I really wanted to swear…
My kneecap is purple. I am sitting with my feet up, with a Boomercat beside me kneading my leg, and my laptop, watching a movie after some excellent takeaway, with a drink beside me.
Life is good.
Like any crazy cat lady with new cats, my conversation revolves around Boomer and Tigra much more than it should. It’s been a fortnight now, and they are shaping up into lovely cats. No litter tray accidents yet, no actual squabbles, nothing broken furniture-wise, nothing broken kitten-wise (although Tigra has lemminged through the banisters twice…)
However, they are in my black books this morning. It is 8.19am on Easter Sunday, and I would like to be asleep, especially as I have to work this afternoon. The kittens woke up well before 7am, demanding breakfast and PLAAAY and breakfast and PLAAY and purr, purr, why aren’t you getting up, ooh, lets chase each other!! runrunrun POUNCE beat up other kitten violently FLEEE runrunrun POUNCE roll around LEAP ON HUMAN BED AND CHASE THEIR TOES runrunrun up the hallway down the hallway LEAP ON THE BED AND ATTACK HUMAN LEGS, run off..
I gave up trying to sleep eventually. I’ve had six hours, that will have to do. The kittens are now in the lounge with me, Tobermory is presumably still snoring, Boomer is trying to kill the kitten climber thing (scratching post with platforms) and Tigra is chasing balls.
It has in all other respects been a good weekend. Friday we had people over for dinner*, Pstyken and Colitis stayed over in order to be able to kill zombies until stupid a.m. Last night, Thaqui arrived with the makings of Long Island Iced Tea, and being sensible adults, no-one drove after that, so some amazingly dire movies were watched, and Thaqui and Pstyken are crashed out in various spare rooms. I’d gone to bed about 1am, what with work the next morning. I believe Tobermory crawled in to join me about four… Colitis is pondering joining us again tonight, and probably some more zombie killing is planned.
Growing up, there was a couple in Mum’s congregation who always seemed to have revolving guests. MrsM became a by-word for her hospitality; there was always plentiful food, probably a few guests, and you knew if you were stuck for somewhere to stay in an emergency, she’d always, always help you out. Their children’s friends were welcome to stay over (with reasonable warning, of course), and it was a rare weekend that at least two random extras weren’t staying at their home.
Mum has commented a couple of times that I seem to be the MrsM of our group. I always loved being at MrsM’s house, even when I grew up enough to acknowledge that it wasn’t all sweetness and light. She was sometimes taken for granted and forced to accommodate people she didn’t like; being expected to feed a load of extras at short notice can be expensive; sometimes you need space to yourself; laundry for endless spare beds takes forever; and so on and so forth. I remember asking Mum, once, if MrsM had always been snarky, or if I’d simply grown up enough to register the existence of sarcasm where previously it flew right over my head. (It was age related, she’d always had the sarcastic streak and I hadn’t been old enough to tell.) This didn’t alter my liking for her, really – even with the snark, she was good company. (For that matter, my sense of humour has always leaned towards the snarky, where Mum’s doesn’t.) She still asks after me via Mum, and unlike many in the congregation I left, seems genuinely pleased that I’m happy.
I might not be the MrsM of my generation, but it’s something I always wanted the chance to be. Admittedly, the fact that everyone gathers here is largely due to the fact we have an actual house with spare rooms, where the majority of our friends are flatting, so we’re the obvious choice of location for any gathering. That doesn’t alter my enjoyment of it. As far as I can tell, our friends are happy to invite themselves over, secure in the knowledge that there will probably be excessive amounts of dinner anyway. I tend to leave the beds made up (the sheets go straight back on the beds they came off once they’re clean and dry), so it’s no hassle for someone to stay over unexpectedly. And I like it that way.
* And I was informed by all present that I didn’t make enough cheese/herb naan bread – it was really REALLY good and vanished rapidly.