Saturday night, again

I finally put in some time in the garden on this fine afternoon, trimming back the yellow-flowered sedum that was growing over the front walk. Before I heaped all the clippings onto the compost pile, I decided I had better see if I could dig up any of the potatoes that had volunteered themselves in said pile. It was hard to tell where the plants were, since the whole patch is a tangle of tomatoes (many volunteers, in addition to four that I planted) and bittersweet nightshade in addition to the potato plants. In other words, lots of nightshade leaves! I pulled up what I thought was a potato plant and scrabbled around a bit, but found nothing till I went and got a spade, and of course my first attempt to dig into the soil split a little potato in two.

In the end, this was my haul:

Still life with pot, spuds, green tomatoes and reflections

I don’t know if those green tomatoes will ripen, but since I accidentally uprooted their plant, I picked them and will give them a shot indoors.

Eventually I remembered that I had planted some potatoes at the opposite corner of the vegetable patch, and went to see what I could find there. The sage is exuberant, the two tomato plants have several green tomatoes apiece, and the rest of the ground is covered with clover and catnip where it isn’t full of not-so-dwarf marigolds. I turned over the soil in several places, but all I came up with in the way of spuds was one very tiny potato about the size of my smallest fingernail, and another slightly larger one that was mostly green.

I may have some small talent, skill, or simply luck with composting, but I’m not much of a gardener, really. I’d look more successful if I just tossed my scraps into the garden and then claimed to be cultivating whatever comes up and blooms (and fruits).

Anyway, that’s the only photo I took today. But there were extras for the last two Six on Saturday posts (hosted by The Propagator!), so it’ll average out.

Still Saturday . . . so, sixish pixish

Once again, I took pictures, this time two weeks ago, and didn’t get a post written. So it’ll be another double-your-fun post, all from the front beds and shade garden. I haven’t been doing much in the garden (not nearly as much as needs doing), because I’ve been grading, and going out with friends (to a restaurant! and then to their house! and brunch with a different friend! and walking with another one!) when I’m not working. Autumn showed up precisely on schedule: we went from summer weather to chilly overnight on the equinox. Funny how that works.

Anyway, up first we have the upper front bed, where I moved a tomato plant that volunteered itself in the veg patch (this is what happens with homemade compost, I think). Alas, bugs have burrowed into the tomatoes, so I’m not going to get anything from this plant. But in the wider view today, the two shades of sedum are very pretty.

#2, the big lump of sedums that I so often reference as a sign of the changing seasons, first two weeks ago and then today, from different perspectives as well:

#3, Honorine Joubert and her companion Rudbeckia (and some columbine seedheads):

#4, the purple aster with more of Honorine:

It really is purple, not pink.

#5, two pink flower pictures from two weeks ago. This little geranium appeared unexpectedly in the shade garden, and also the coneflower cultivar was blooming brightly. It has since gone to seed.

#6, volunteer asters, some of the purple, and then the wild ones in the side yard (popular with the bumblebees):

This is more the color they really are.

So there we are, the state of things in the garden for the last two weeks. Six on Saturday is hosted by the Propagator.

I swear someday I’m going to start posting more often, and on topics that aren’t just the garden, but at least this keeps me showing up once in awhile. I hope my fellow gardeners are enjoying the weekend!

Who should that be but our cousin Scotland?

I don’t think it’s so much that I’m especially interested in the royal family as that I have a hangover from my mother’s interest, which permeated my childhood. She was a few years younger than Elizabeth II, and thanks to her collection of magazine clippings and a few books, such as The Little Princesses, I grew up with the topic. That book combined with James Kenward‘s Prep School (a battered Penguin copy kicked around our bookshelves, surrounded by Scholastic kids’ books; I have no idea who acquired it, or when) to fuel many happy hours of playing school with my dolls and dollhouse when I was small.

So although I can’t say I feel particularly bereft by the death of Elizabeth II, it does feel a smidge like some distant friend of my mother’s finally passed on, someone I used to hear about; and it does feel like the end of an era. Being what I am, I immediately tried to link this to what people might have felt when Elizabeth I died, people like the chap I once spent years researching. In both cases, for many people the queen was The queen, the person who had always been on the throne. Only when the first one died, there was also the question of who would inherit, which worried a lot of people. Now that’s not an issue. I have to admit that I would have advised against taking on the name Charles (not particularly well-omened), but I guess it’s a good thing for a monarch not to be superstitious.

Some inner child in me would like to get out the dolls’ house and sew little black costumes for the dolls who were sometimes little princesses (and sometimes children from Swallows and Amazons), then find the old plastic horses (where in the world did those go?) and make them suitably funereal draperies for the cortege.

But I’ll probably mark the occasion only by checking out a few M. C. Beaton books for a re-read, even though historical fiction (or biography) might seem like a more appropriate choice.

Twelve on Saturday

Last week I took pictures, downloaded and saved them, and then went to do the cats’ lunch before writing the post. One thing led to another, and the post never happened. This week, therefore, we’ll do a time-elapsed set (mostly), so you can see developments in the past week.

Here’s #1, the coneflowers and coreopsis in one of the front-stairs beds; this week, the coneflowers look a little worse for wear, but the pink sedum clump is starting to bloom:

The round blue object is a dog toy that turned up in our yard when the snow melted last spring. We do not have a dog. I keep meaning to offer it to one of our neighbors when I see him.

#2, on the other side of the steps, the coneflower cultivar. I like this color very much! This week it looks a little faded.

#3, Honorine Joubert has been spreading. As with #1, this week’s photo is from a different angle, so you can see more of the bed, including a volunteer coneflower on the right that I’m happy to have.

#4 is the flowerbed in the middle of the lawn. Last week, the scabiosa was doing well. This week it’s mostly over, so you get the Russian (can I call it Ukrainian, instead?) Sage. This is a purple bed.

#5, over in the ditch, we’ve been seeing dayflowers (the small bright blue spots) and baby’s thumb (pink). Also assorted grasses and dandelion-like weeds. Apparently the bee who was enjoying this patch flew off rather than having her picture taken.

And #6, the side-of-house clematis that I tend to forget about is putting out a few flowers for a second bloom, though it blooms most generously in June. Maybe next year I’ll manage to photograph its first glorious color.

Wouldn’t you know it, the day I manage to get a Six on Saturday post done before it’s no longer Saturday in our host’s time zone, the Propagator is away doing some crazy endurance race instead of hanging about in the garden! Nonetheless he got a placeholder post up so the rest of us can compare notes as usual, so check it out if you like garden blogs. If you’re still hoping for academic content or at least cat pictures, well, so am I . . . my intentions are good but we all know what the road to hell is paved with.

Six for Saturday the 13th

Summer feels pretty much over, as I’m on-contract as of Monday. Boo. Still, the equinox is more than a month off, and it looks like we’ll have some very decent summery weather for at least the next week, pleasantly hot rather than excruciatingly so. I look forward to that. And today I even got out to take pictures (and do some weeding: fake strawberry keeps popping up in more places in the lawn). I’ll be arriving late at the Propagator’s party, as I so often do, but that’s better than not getting around to a post at all.

My first photo is of the sedum lump and its company in the front bed, a sign of the approaching autumn:

#2, another such sign is the buds on Honorine Joubert the Japanese anemone:honorine-joubert-2022-08-13

#3, near Honorine the purple aster is well-leafed-out, though not yet in bud:aster-2022-08-13

#4, the wild bit is also starting to look autumnal (in person, those rusty leaves are really a very bright red):wild-bit-2022-08-13

#5, it is very obvious that one of the deck tomatoes was mislabeled (I believed it to be a cherry tomato), and I feel I ought to dig it a nice hole somewhere, but I’m not sure where I could put it now:deck-tomatoes-2022-08-13

veg-patch-2022-08-13#6, The vegetable patch is rather full; I picked and cooked a whole lot of chard before I went away for a week, but that only seems to have encouraged it, and the tomatoes there are going rather wild:

Six on Saturday is hosted by the Propagator, who is suffering from drought. Sympathies! It’s been a bit dry here, but not nearly so bad as the UK has it.

Bob . . . !

Yesterday’s stage was probably the best I’ve ever watched. Chapeau, tout le monde.

But Bob, listen, the Pic du Midi is not nor ever was an “astrological station.” I suppose a portmanteau of “meteorological” and “astronomical” is what popped out, but might I suggest “meteoronomical,” instead? Astrological gives the wrong impression.

Bob Roll does it again

Along yesterday’s route is the Chateau de Saissac (see also here, at km 163.8, if you don’t get distracted by some of the earlier sites), which Bob described as “elegant shambolic architecture.” The Shambolic is an architectural period I never heard of before. Is it before or after Romanesque?

(I do know the word. It’s the oxymoronic phrase that gave me pause. For more Bob Roll-isms, you can search his name on my blog or the internet at large.)

Sad sad six on Saturday

Let’s just be clear; I’m not sad, I’m buzzed on Prosecco and pretending that I’m watching today’s Tour stage from somewhere in France instead of from our basement. But the garden needs a lot more time than I have.

#1, the heaps of weeds to prove that I wasn’t just sitting on my butt in the damp grass for the hour and a half I was out this afternoon:

#2: I’m planning to rip out these poor sunburned hostas and replace them with something native that likes sun. Some year. As for the weeds between the pavers, I’ve been spraying them with homemade weedkiller (vinegar, salt, drop of dish detergent) but it seems this is just giving the rabbits some salad dressing on their greens.

#3, the wild bit. I need to figure out how much of this is welcome natives and how much is non-natives I should try to get rid of. My husband gets a little antsy about what he perceives as weeds. I know the day lilies aren’t natives but I do love them.

#4. Speaking of wild bits, what the heck is this growing through the lilacs? There’s another one in the back under the magnolia tree.

#5. I can’t stand the sadness any more, so here is my thriving vegetable patch.

And #6, here are those deck tomatoes. I’m not so sure these are cherry tomatoes, though that’s what I thought I was getting.

Six on Saturday is hosted by the Propagator. He has some very nice flowers, and reminds me that I keep forgetting to go round the other side of the house and photograph the clematis there. It’s probably finished blooming by now. Sad, sad gardener here, greatly distracted by cycling and my only gradually improving insomnia.

What was I going to say?

I logged in awhile ago, and opened up the New Post page, and then got distracted. Possibly I had some really brilliant idea, but on the other hand, maybe I was just going to whine.

It’s mid-July, and past the middle of the year, and more than past the middle of the summer. Boo. I have not done those things I ought to have done. We are contemplating a road trip before the summer is truly over, and I feel (a) that I’m not sure I want all the hassle of driving and sleeping in strange beds and figuring out how to feed both of us with our different finicky diets in unfamiliar places, not to mention the struggle to find a suitable cat-sitter* and also (b) that I really want to do this because it will be a very Summer Thing To Do, nice to look back on, and great to see friends we haven’t seen in years (and years, in one case, due not only to The Covids but also to these friends’ normally very international lifestyle, as in, it’s difficult to be in the same country as them without going to another hemisphere).

Things I have done this summer: visited family, painted the guest room, cleaned my closet, planted a vegetable garden**, wrote a conference paper, drove to conference and delivered it (and stayed in swanky hotel and saw Real! Live! People!), accepted an invitation to expand it for publication, did at least a few hours’ worth of planning for all of the classes I will teach next year***, recycled literally years’ worth of Brita filters, made a date with a retired colleague, watched a lot of cycling and read a lot of trash. I’m negotiating with Queen Joan about a January trip to somewhere sunny, and hope to get reservations nailed down before I settle into the winter gloom in which I just endure circumstances rather than finding the wherewithal to do anything about them (aside from SAD light and pretending to be an iguana).

Things I have not (yet) done: nope, not going there, too depressing! The list is long. Let’s just say it contains various items that should have happened a year ago, and that really all my electronic items need updating.

If we go on this trip, I have about two weeks left (give or take depending on friends’ schedules) in which to do any work, and then another week (or so) after it, and then I’ll be on contract again, though classes don’t actually start till a little later in August. Ack. Ack! Will this realization make me buckle down and do some of the things I ought to have done? Or will I stick my head firmly in the sand and pretend that summer really is endless****?

*We no longer live near the vet-assistant person to whom Basement Cat objected here. I’m sure he’d rather have her than someone completely new. The cats think their normal human servants should never even have days off, let alone extended holidays.

**Have not yet re-planted lettuce and spinach seedlings after the wretched squirrels destroyed the last batch. Must do that.

***Any time now I’m going to have to concentrate on those for the fall, but I hope that January Self will be grateful to Summer Self for doing some advance work on next spring’s classes. I fear she will just wonder what the hell Summer Self was thinking.

****People who have retired (see my last post) might suggest that it is like having endless summer, but unless I can move somewhere with a decent climate, it’s no such thing. If I have to live with snow, I’d rather be working, because it’s a distraction and give me something to do that isn’t sulking at home in my iguana-cage, and Sir John actually likes it Here and does not want to move to Mexico or the Southwest, let alone Morocco, so here we are. My husband may be a winter-loving nut-job but I’m quite fond of him and would rather be with him than alone in a warm dry climate, even if I have to remind myself of that frequently from November to March.

On blogs, research, and not-retiring

Once again, blogging because I logged in to leave a comment elsewhere. JLiedl is back! Yay!

I read people’s archives not only because I miss their voices but because old blogs are so hopeful. Most of the academic bloggers who blogged back in the golden age of academic blogs were young, newly minted assistant profs or grad students, who wrote about turning their dissertations into books, about finding and decorating new apartments or houses, about relationships and babies: building their lives. Of course there were the cases of people who couldn’t find jobs, like Sisyphus, or didn’t get tenure, like New Kid, or, in a few cases, tragically early deaths of spouses. But mostly people were on the upswing, and it’s pleasurable to read the stories of how they got to be tenured, married, happily settled.

I wonder if one reason for the death of blogging (in addition to the Book of Face, the Realm of Twits, etc) is that there’s no more plot after that point. Getting to Full is often a bit of an anti-climax, after the tenure drama. People who become administrators generally have to stop blogging from a combination of lack of time and real confidentiality issues. I doubt anyone wants to read about the late-career person who could retire but doesn’t want to, who fears becoming irrelevant, bored and boring, out of touch.

I ask recently-retired friends what they spend time on (when they’re healthy, though in some cases there are a lot of medical appointments). The answers: look after grandchildren, take music lessons, art lessons, language lessons, wood-working, spend more time exercising and gardening, volunteer, run for local office. My (usually unspoken) reaction: shoot me now, don’t wait till you get home. The things from that list that I enjoy are things I already do, and which I do not want to do full-time. I like my job. I have a good teaching schedule, a nice office, and mostly nice students. If I retired, I would need to find something else that gave me contact with people while not requiring that I be really friendly with them (I am very introverted but need some interaction with other humans). People suggest volunteer tutoring, but why teach subjects I don’t care about for free when I can get paid to teach things that really interest me? I have one friend who wants to retire so she can ramp up a second career that combines sales and scholarship. I understand that. That’s retiring-to, not retiring-from.

I’ve been asked to prepare for publication the conference paper I gave last month, on a fairly tight turn-around. I said yes. I intended that paper to be part of the book, and it still will be. I haven’t published any other pieces of the book in progress, just given conference papers, so I’m not saturating the market; given the venue and editor, I don’t anticipate any problem with permissions when the time comes. I’m glad to be asked, and even for the timeline: it gives a clear shape to research for the next few months, a bit of local plot, so to speak. Can our heroine clear the hurdle? Even if the answer appears obvious, a goal with an outside arbiter helps to create narrative tension.

So this site will not turn into all garden-blogging all the time, not yet. I should do more cat-blogging, I suppose. After all, the internet is all about cats, right?