Saturday, 23 August 2014

Discovering myself in the garden

Today has been a second day of Operation Garden Blitz.  During our recent absence the vegetation appears to have under gone a growth spurt. Much weeding and trimming has been required.  I estimate we have removed sufficient vegetation to fill a small skip! For some reason alpine strawberries love my garden, they smoother the borders and establish outposts in the lawns…Bindweed seems to be at its worst at this time of year - the 'pole dancer' of the horticultural world, wrapping itself intimately around anything stationary and vertical...  The presence of a cherry tree in the adjacent garden ensures a steady supply of saplings that need removing. In contrast the 30 metre oak, which resides 2 doors down, only managed to produce one weedy infiltrator - proving that bird shit is more of a threat to my horticultural ambitions, than the hoarding instincts of the local squirrel population.

Yesterday we attacked the front garden, and I felt dissatisfied with my lack of achievement.  Why?  Because I kept getting distracted by things that needed doing elsewhere. I would spot a weed that MUST be removed, cross the garden to pull it up, before noticing the inroads the aquilegia was making into the gravel, and then encounter a bramble that required urgent removal. Each time I moved on I would leave tools behind and then forget where I had left them, and then find myself unable to proceed, because I had no idea where I had abandoned the tools I now required, and would waste time hunting for them. At one point the secateurs were lost. Totally lost.  Both of us were searching the small front garden for them.  Finally I found them at the back of one of the borders, next to the fence.

Today I was far more focused.  No matter how green the weeds appeared elsewhere, I stayed working on the middle border. In between the showers, I plodded on, resisting the temptations and distractions offered by other parts of the garden. I did manage to complete one border, with the added bonus of not losing anything - a small, if insignificant victory! However, at this rate, by the time I finish weeding the whole garden, I will need to start again! 

When we moved in, most of the flower beds were full of a pink daisy.  To its credit, it was both hardy and low maintenance.  However, it harboured a huge number of snails, which my daughter was very fond of putting in her mouth! Looking at the size of our garden, I can see why they went down that route.  That first year we watched with interest to discover what was in the garden. Imagine our dismay when we realised that 90% of the plants had pink flowers!  I love colour, but I prefer a variety, so gradually the pink daisy was replaced with plants of differing hues.  However, many of our plants have peaked by mid august - the alpines, alliums, perennial wallflowers and lavender have all had their moment of glory. Some autumn colour would be very welcome.  Meanwhile, in order to restore order to my flowerbeds, I am having to reduce the size of some of the plants, which goes against my natural inclination. My husband has no such qualms with his demolition approach to gardening, which is great for ripping out ivy and disposing of shrubs. He is not so hot on plant identification.  While I was removing errant strawberry plants and couch grass from a hydrangea, instead of removing the blue geranium which has spread across the pathway, he attacked both the honeysuckle and blue clematis.  Hopefully they will forgive him and reappear next year.

Inside the house is just as chaotic as the garden, but I am determined to keep focused, and keep sorting and disposing.  Little by little things are getting tidier, inside and out and I continue to discover more about myself in the process.

Friday, 22 August 2014

When the familiar is no longer comfortable

I am light headed
That which I have put off, for weeks, has been accomplished.

Who benefitted from the delay - my bank balance, marginally.

Who suffered?
Me, as I hated my unruly locks.
The hairdresser, who has taken over the business, who needs customers to get her new venture up and running.  
The retiring hairdresser - who needed me to go back, as part of the goodwill she had sold.
The church. The church?
Yes. The hairdressers is situated adjacent to our church.  It is good for them to know that it is not just a building, but also a community. Possible potential customers, but also a place they could turn to.

I was pleased that the previous owner was able to sell her business. She needs to concentrate on her family right now, as they are going though a really, really tough time. 

Change is hard, we get comfortable with the familiar.  However today, I looked in the mirror and the familiar was no longer comfortable. I wanted tidy hair again.  So I reached for the phone, and as I chatted to one of the new owners  I knew it was going to be fine.  It was lovely to walk in and see the changes they have made, and hear their plans for the future. To be able to offer words of encouragement and be pleased with my haircut.

The massive scissors may have gone from the wall, but fashionable black wallpaper flowers are now blooming across the walls, listening to the conversations being woven, while the hairdressers perform their miracles of restoration, and peace reigns

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Who do you see?

It is a trifle disconcerting to lift your eyes up to the bathroom mirror, whilst performing your ablutions, and see…well, what do you expect to see?


A disconcertingly slightly older version of yourself?  Sadly every day takes us down that slippery slope towards old age!

A peron who really ought to get their hair cut?

A person with a scary resemblance to your father or mother?

Maybe you look at the mirror and try to see the person you want to be - smart, sophisticated, successful?  Then you put on your glasses and reality kicks in ;)

Yet, when I look in the mirror this morning I saw someone I had never met!

  • Someone who lives thousands of miles from me.
  • Someone of a different gender!  Now THAT is a scary thought!
  • Someone , bizarrely who likes cats!  Six lots of cat poo removed from the garden this evening - no-one could ever accuse me of being a cat lover!  Grrrrrrrr! 
  • Someone I am unlikely ever to meet.
  • Someone who does not actually exist!  yes, this get's even more bizarre. This persone exists only in cartoon land His name is Jon Arbuckle.
My daughter is currently going through a "Garfield" phase, and Garfield's owner has become her hero.  The knock on effect from this current obsession is that her diet has expanded dramatically to include Lasagne.  All of a sudden eating, and over eating is good!  We are hoping that the overeating element is a passing phase, which will leave a lasting taste for Italian food. It makes eating out so much easier!

For some reason known only to herself my daughter has placed a drawing of Jon over the mirror in the bathroom.  She is most disconcerted that I recognise him from her drawing.  At least while he is there he can keep me posted on the shampoo stocks!

Although the picture has now been there several days, it still surprises me when I lift my eyes to glance in the mirror, and instead of myself, I see Jon, and remember.

Who do you see when you look in the Mirror?

Monday, 18 August 2014

No Smoke Without...

We came back from holiday, and my heart sank.  
I thought I understood, but I could not be certain -  until I have verified my suspicions.  
The opportunity to do this presented itself a few days later, when I encountered one of my neighbours, who can be relied on to know all that there is to know about matters local.
"I notice the house down the road is up for sale, has the lady who lived there gone into sheltered accommodation?" I enquired.
"Oh no, she went into hospital and she died.  105 I think she was…"
105!  Of course, I remember being told that she was over 90 when we moved in in the early days of the century.

I never really had the opportunity to get to know this neighbour, she was elderly and frail when we moved in.  I only remember seeing her a few times. I calculated that she would have been roughly the same age as my maternal grandparents, who died in 1977 and 1984.  The majority of the houses in our street were built after the first world war.  I wonder if she and her husband bought their house when they got married and what memories still remain within those floral patterned rooms.

Despite living a mainly reclusive life in her later years,  I was reminded of her presence every afternoon when she lit her coal fire regardless of the weather, and the sharp scent of smoke drifted over the garden fences, like a familiar friend paying a visit.  Old bones feel the cold and the house had no central heating.   When I saw her house up for sale, I tried to recall when I had last smelt the smoke, and I honestly don't know, but it wasn't that long ago.  No doubt the new owner will install central heating, but they may keep an open fire.  I wonder if there will be a time when I will again smell the familiar scent of a coal  fire. 

This evening as I go out to hang out my washing, I find myself sniffing the evening air, trying to detect some lingering fragrance, but there is none. For there will be no smoke until a heart beats within those walls once more.

Monday, 11 August 2014

The Unfamiliar Familiar

As we pulled up outside the house everything looked the same.  The  first indication I had that anything had changed was the tower of boxed games which greeted me as I stepped into the hall, surprising me, like meeting a friend unexpectedly at the party of a mutual acquaintance.  

The lounge felt cosier than I remembered.  The toolbox, in pride of place in front of the fireplace, made me chuckle - why did we leave that there??? However, when I entered the study I was struck by the relative emptiness - the familiar bookcases were missing and the fish tank, complete with its steady hum, was gone.  The walls, devoid of pictures and ornaments, allowed my voice to echo unnervingly around the walls, reinforcing the unfamiliarity.
The room had not changed in my absence - apart from the bedding, which had been added to the strange tower of curtains, piled on top of the pouffe, which was resting on my husbands chair… 

The room was exactly as I left it, but not as I remembered it.  Yet until I saw it, I had no recollection that this is how it is  This image is not implanted on my brain, because it is a transitory stage.  It is not how the room did look, or how the room should look, it is just how it is, at this stage in the decorating process.  The room is 90% decorated, but the corner where the fish tank stood is still resolutely Lime Green and Water Melon.  The rest of the room is the new much paler Daffodil White, which has lightened and brightened the room, especially when the morning sun comes flooding through.

As we sit here eating breakfast, we pick up the threads of conversations from last month, and into that we add the perspective of two weeks absence:-  
  • Is my husband still comfortable with the idea that he has lost his desk?  
  • Can he embrace life NOT sitting at a desk and take advantage of the mobility his ipad and laptop offer? 
  • Is the upright unit which has replaced his desk sufficient or would he prefer a proper bureau - we look at some on the Ikea website, but they are not available in birch, and they have sharp corners, which challenge my perspective of what a bureau should be...
  • Does he want to keep his old comfy chair?  
  • Is the table staying where it is, or will it go down the other end of the room?  
  • Is my desk too big?  

The questions that were unresolved when we left, remain and now we must define the answers.  As I sit here I ponder on the irony that the space that we lived in as a family for over two weeks, is the roughly the same size as this room.  However, the caravan had been planned to make the best use of the space, and now we must achieve the same.  Now where could I put the kettle…