Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Chez Pavlov Memorial Gardens: notes towards a theory



I came late to gardening and am still hopeless at it, driven by nothing more than haphazard and short-lived enthusiasms. It's only in the last year or so that I have found myself thinking ahead one or more seasons, about what might look nice come October, come summer, come 2010 if we all make it that far.

Given my ineptitude and the intermittent nature of my dedication, it is the more remarkable that the garden should nonetheless be so rich an inner resource. Of the five senses it is apparently smell that is the most intimately bound up with memory; further, there are things and places in the garden that emanate memory as though it were a scent. Almost without my noticing, the garden has become not only a site of memorialisation but a repository of memory.

This is largely to do with my mother, who was one of the world's great gardeners, and who pruned half a dozen of the larger shrubs here into submission the winter before she died. The pale-pink bignonia along the side fence and the hot-pink fuchsia out the back are still shapely and healthy, eight years on.

It may have been while she was pruning the fuchsia that she somehow lost one of her favourite gold earrings. She never knew how or where she'd lost that earring, and mourned for it, and we all looked for it everywhere. She died the following summer, and five winters after that, my eye was caught by something glittering up at me in the pale sun from the leaf litter near the fuchsia. I gave it to my dad.

One of the two orchids in blue-and-white pots was hers, a small pale-green alien life form with a scarlet-spotted throat. Orchids are buggers and it has flowered only twice so far, by accident I'm sure; I regard it as a triumph that it's still alive at all. So is the bigger specimen in the other pot, a gift from my friend R several springs ago. R is also responsible for the bed of sage, also several years old and still going strong, and for the thriving lime tree in its beautiful big terracotta pot: I look at them and I think of her.

The passionfruit vine was planted in memory of my Nan, who lived on the central coast of New South Wales and with whose memory I associate semi-tropical scents, but it also makes me think of my friend D, who advised me to bury a lamb's fry at its feet every October. (Eye of newt and toe of frog to you too, I said.) The scent of the jasmine currently in blossom at the front door recalls a particular letter from the Bloke that I read sitting in that doorway one evening, and the yellow nasturtiums down the side recall my ma again, showing me when I was very small the way that rain or dew will curl up into a sphere in the cup of a nasturtium leaf.

Also dating from that era is the variety of red climbing rose I've just planted at the foot of a sun-soaked trellis out the back, bought on a whim when I saw its name: if it can live through a Curramulka summer, it can live anywhere at all. A long way further down the back you can just see the remains of a short-lived vegie experiment I conducted with my dad, who did the hard yards with crowbar and hoe; bad luck about the Adelaide heatwave that summer, the one that saw three consecutive days over 43 degrees, when the water turned to dust as it gushed from the hose and the rainbow lorikeets dropped dead out of the sky, and all my lovely ratatouille vegies succumbed to a nasty thing evocatively called Blossom End Rot, so named because the blossom end -- um, well, you know.

And there are two little pots of a strange and apparently unkillable little succulent whose name I don't know, with its origins in my grandfather's funeral wreath from 1970. My mother, a woman who always kept a small pair of scissors in her handbag in case an opportunity to take (translation: steal) a cutting presented itself, had brought home a sprig of this plant on the plane from the funeral and planted it at home. She planted cuttings from it when they moved house, and again when they moved house again; when my father moved house yet again, after she died, my younger sister took more cuttings and potted them and handed them round. It's a 36-year-old, fifth-generation plant and it carries with it the emanations, the reverberations, of several members of my family.

The power of the garden doesn't lie only in this photo-album effect, with its effortless calling-up of old associations and affections and of the strength that can be drawn from those things every day. The garden carries a huge charge in itself, on its own terms, as well. Everything returns and re-grows, relentlessly, and it does it every spring. (If you were a depressed person this would drive you berserk, which explains the opening lines of The Waste Land: 'April is the cruellest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain' and no I'm not going to look it up, I'm sure it's right.)

But for the rest of us, that annual renewal is a kind of literalisation of the garden's power to hold memory, curled up like a bud, ready to open in the warmth of your attention. Everyone you've loved who's ever been in the garden, worked in it, given you things for it, is always already out there. I see them sitting round the outdoor table in big hats, sipping G and Ts, chatting, waving their hands.

Monday, August 28, 2006

What colour is rage?

Not always red; sometimes it's black; and at the moment what I'm getting is a particular sort of icky purple, shot through with the iridescent and flickering green sheen one associates with rotting meat ...

Ahem. In a post by Tigtog at Larvatus Prodeo and at her own place Hoyden-About-Town, I see that today in Edinburg -- that's Edinburg, Texas, without an H (although apparently, similar sentiments are also being expressed in Scotland) -- parents are solemnly discussing whether or not the protection of their daughters from cervical cancer is a desirable thing, given that, as we all know, having S-E-X would of course be much worse:

' ... several Rio Grande Valley residents appear wary of the Gardasil vaccine, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved to prevent four types of the sexually-transmitted human papillomavirus. Two of those strains cause cervical cancer.

The controversy stems from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to vaccinate females between 11 and 12 years of age.

Doctors and scientists insist the vaccine is best given before a female is sexually active. But some conservative groups — and local parents — worry providing Gardasil to adolescents would encourage sexual experimentation.

"If you’re going to give the vaccine, you could promote the attitude ‘Well, now it’s safe; I can have sex as much as I want,’" said Nancy Balsadua, chairwoman of the sexual subcommittee of the Edinburg School Health Advisory Council.

"It’s giving the attitude sex is carte-blanche," said Balsadua, whose youngest of four children, Rebecca, is 12 years old.'

Damn straight. And if they do get cancer of the cervix, that'll just be God's punishment for having sex, and it will serve them right.

In 1999 I lost a friend to secondary tumours after her initial struggle with cervical cancer the previous year. She was 46 years old, and her kids were fifteen and thirteen. And if I ever get my hands on any of the people who peddle this demented crapola about green lights and cartes blanches and opening floodgates, I won't be responsible for my actions.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

More forgotten memories from last summer


... in which the seasonal-fruit home-made ice creams (fresh cherry and toasted almond; cantaloupe with Kirsch and lemon) ...




... are strangely colour-co-ordinated with the view from the back door at sunset.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Too adorable or not too adorable?

Here's a Quote of the Day that I've pinched from poor bloody Liz at Grannyvibe, on whom I check up most days and who, it seems, may yet have "only" non-Hodgkins lymphoma instead of full-on inoperable lung cancer. She is toughing it out, as you would expect from a woman who weight-trains. Today she offers an assortment of gems from Dorothy Parker, of which this is one:

I'd like to have money. And I'd like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that's too adorable, I'd rather have money.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Prime Minister is quite right ...

... children should be required to learn the dates of Australian history, with all the important battles. For example, say, the events of 1932, as described by Greg Callaghan in today's Weekend Australian colour mag:

'When the Depression peaked in 1932, almost one in three were out of work. Many, unable to pay the rent or mortgage, were forced into "dole camps" such as this one in Sydney's south -- although not before many took part in bloody, anti-eviction street battles.'

There are some choices you just shouldn't have to make

Saturday, 9.42 pm: Stephen Fry on Parkinson or the RockWiz duet with Eddi Reader and Liam from Hothouse Flowers?

Thank God I know how to work the VCR.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Further thoughts on Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth

Of course, if Senator Bishop (see below) had been smarter and faster when asked to name the three first Europeans to cross the Blue Mountains, she would have have replied cheerfully 'Wouldn't have the foggiest. See? I'm a walking, talking, living-doll example of why we need to overhaul the teaching of history.'

Think of the press she would have got. Think of the goodwill that she, and by extension the line she's pushing, would have engendered. But I've never yet seen a pollie who wouldn't sooner be taken away gibbering on a stretcher than say, in answer to a question, 'I don't know.'

Thursday, August 17, 2006

It's Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth, Julie

From the report in today's Age about the history-teaching summit:

'Ms Bishop tried to laugh off the question when asked to name the three explorers who became the first Europeans to cross the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.

"Are we going to play this game, are we?" she chuckled, before launching into rehearsed lines about the summit's aims.

The minister defended state governments' absence from today's summit, saying the meeting was simply an opportunity to gain an insight from experts in the field.'


You'd think she would have been ready for that one, wouldn't you. You really would.

Reminds me of the conservatives who bang on endlessly about the importance of teaching 'the classics' but wouldn't know Pride and Prejudice if it jumped up and bit them on the arse, as is its wont.

Pffft.

Book meme

I've been tagged! Which of course means I have to do it. Any excuse not to get on with the spring-clean.

(UPDATE: the person who tagged me was A. Duck, who got it from Kate, who got it from Susoz, and I didn't read Kate's answers till after I'd written this. There are some interesting overlaps.)

The real answer to the first five questions is A. S. Byatt's Possession, but I'm going to try to mix it up a little.

1. One book you have read more than once

I'm a compulsive re-reader, to the bemusement of at least one of my friends, so picking just one is way too hard. Jane Eyre, Judith Butler's Excitable Speech, and all the Harry Potter books are the first things that come to mind.

2. One book you would want on a desert island

A Complete Shakespeare with non-microscopic print (which would make it too heavy to hold), unless I was also allowed to take my reading glasses, which of course I would immediately use for starting a fire on the beach. Has it occurred to anyone that the current airport security situation is making air travel a rather nasty version of Desert Island Possessions? Sorry, Madam, you can take either your glasses or your travel sickness drugs, but not both. Perhaps it would make more sense just to learn all the Shakespeare by heart instead of just little chunks of it. You could sit on the beach and declaim 'Be not afeared, the isle is full of noises / Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not / Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about mine ears, / and sometimes voices.'

Ahem.

3. One book that made you laugh

The Compleet Molesworth -- esp when Molesworth 2 pla Fairy Bells on the skool piano, tinkle plunk zoom.

4. One book that made you cry

There's a book by historian Don Charlwood called The Long Farewell about 19th century emigrants sailing to Australia, a fearful and sometimes unspeakable experience, which includes the texts of three passenger diaries. One of them is by a young shipboard doctor, not yet out of his twenties, called Henry Lightoller. A ship's doctor was second in authority only to the captain, and had to deal with a lot of birth, death, illness and -- most terrifyingly -- outbreaks of things like measles and cholera. This one seems to have been competent, heroic and hilarious, writes a mean sentence, and obviously saved a number of lives aboard the ship he travelled on. Charlwood puts in a note at the end to say he went on to live a long, happy and productive life and for some reason I find this unbearably moving.

'July 18th 1878: Had concert last night. Went off very well. I gave a short address, and then we had a solo on the concertina, one on the flute, and some Lancashire readings by a man from Rockdale, which did my heart good, for when he finished I said "Good lad oud mon, tha's read it greadly well." We then had several songs, one in Welsh, sung by a Welsh collier; it was what corresponds to our "Home Sweet Home". All I can tell you is, that it was as much as many could do to keep from crying. We have a great many Welsh people on board, and there were certain parts where they all joined in. The song seemed to come from the fellow's soul, and it gave the impression that I have often imagined, of a number of people saying a last farewell to a dearly loved country.'

5. One book you wish you had written

Theodore Zeldin's An Intimate History of Humanity, first published in 1994 which was some years before the invention of blogging, but does this not sound prophetic? 'The girl ... who pours out her private thoughts to her pen-friends in other continents, more so than to her own family, is a sign of a worldwide search for soul-mates and confidantes out of which may grow another kind of family ... families of the heart and imagination, freely chosen, unable to impose punishing obligations ... Every individual is slowly building up an international confederacy of personally chosen individuals ... No family, however close-knit, can seal itself off from the thoughts which fly in like bees through the windows, fertilising imaginations and moving pollen from one mind to another ... This is a completely new kind of fraternity, more ephemeral, changeable, accidental, but less likely to be asphyxiating.'

6. One book you wish had never been written

Can't answer this question, but here's one book that made me incapable of wishing any book had never been written: Fahrenheit 451.

7. One book you are currently reading

The Secret Life of E. Robert Pendleton, a rather nasty but oddly compelling academic murder mystery. I doubt if I'd be persevering with this one if I hadn't spent nearly 20 years as an academic and come out of it with a strange fascination for academic novels.

8. One book you have been meaning to read

Robert Fisk's The Great War for Civilisation.

9. One book that changed your life

Christina Stead's For Love Alone, which I read when I was thirteen. The revelation that anyone could feel, think and write so strangely and so intensely about a city with which I was familiar just blew my head off. The book made me want to be a writer, and travel, and fall in love stupidly, all of which I subsequently did.


I don't think I can do the tagging thing. Everyone I'd likely tag has probably already been tagged. But do feel free if you've not done this one already -- if you give it some real thought, it's quite a revealing exercise in self-knowledge.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

So much to blog about, so little time ... or, Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

As I type there are seven boxes of books in the hall, waiting for a courier to come and take them away. These seven boxes represent a major archaeological dig currently being undertaken in the room I laughingly call my study. The carpet, I have (re)discovered, is a sort of pebble-dash bobble in fetching shades of brown. I hadn't seen it for some time.

Then there are the deadlines.

Then there is the washing.

There are at least five things I would rather be writing about here: Dancing on Ice; Christopher Hitchens; aging and memory; Mandy Patinkin; the Prime Minister's last few days and the idiotic media use of the word 'backflip' to mean 'he thought better of it and made the correct decision'.

But they will all have to wait .. except maybe Ampersand Duck's Twelve Things That Keep You Going meme. That I can do. Despair is always a danger for anyone, and here are twelve things (not counting assorted beloveds, who go without saying) that move me away from it, or it away from me:

* Music. For the bottom of the pit, Beethoven's late string quartets, which collude with the despair after the fashion of a chemical reaction and transform it into something else.



* Any cat, but particularly my own two, who must, no matter what, be fed, and warm, and have clean litter.

* The garden, which like the cats must be looked after and kept alive, and rewards me with some new and miraculous development every day. (I have made a radical breakthrough discovery regarding the science of gardening, which is that a garden will thrive if you feed and water it on a regular basis. Sometimes I astonish myself.)

* Making things: unnecessary cooking, an ambitious piece of knitting, collages.

* Puzzles -- word, number, visual, duzzen matter. Acrostics, sudoku or a jigsaw will all take you out of yourself.

* The sight of the sea, any sea in any weather.

* Semi-precious stones and rocks, which make brilliant meditative objects.



* Hot chocolate, made with Haigh's Gourmet Drinking Chocolate and a spoonful of Kangaroo Island honey from the only pure strain of Ligurian bees left in the world.

* The Zoo. ('I recommend a course of the larger animals. Don't let him think he is taking them medicinally.')

* Photo albums, though this can be a double-edged sword and is not recommended for the severely depressed or the truly desperate.

* Rainbow lorikeets, which my back garden is full of.

* Rainbows.

Friday, August 11, 2006

It's the little things

You get home from a hard day in retail (eight hours on your feet, and you never realised one could get so filthy just selling books) and the house is in a mess. It's a really cold night and there's something wrong with the heating and you're going to have to get the instruction book out, if you can find it. You are very hungry, but too tired to cook.

Dispiritedly, you wonder what's on the teeve. You find the liftout from The Advertiser and scan across the channels. And suddenly the world goes all pink.

Because Wire in the Blood is back.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

The best thing for being sad

Over at Ampersand Duck's place there is a wonderful post, with illustrations, about the TAFE course in bookbinding that she has taken up. Those familiar with AD's work know that as a letterpress printer and visual artist she often writes these intriguing posts about making things, with photos of the beautiful, sometimes magical things that she has made.

But this one, the one about learning bookbinding, has sparked some connection with my own ideas about writing. Sometimes when I find myself talking at cross-purposes with friends, with students or indeed with fellow-bloggers about writing, I know that the problem is the different ideas we're beginning from about how writing emerges -- what writing is.

Because I think of a piece of writing, any piece of writing, even a shopping list, as something I've made. I don't think of it as an extension of my self. I don't think of it as only something I've got to say, or as a persuasive lure, or as a weapon in some war, an attack, a defence, or any other kind of mere means to some other end.

Rather, I think of writing as essentially an expressive thing; a thing made for the purpose of communicating, naturally, but a thing nonetheless, an object, made lovingly and with everything I know of craft. I tinker -- with rhythms, sounds, grammar, images, stages of an argument -- until they fit, like a mitred corner or a resolving chord, as closely and neatly as I know how to make them, and look right to me when I'm finished and sit back to take them in.

By now this tinkering is second nature; I do it on the fly, as it were, and it's the reason I write very slowly. There's a capital-R Romantic notion that writing is some kind of inspired, unmediated form of pure self-expression that comes gushing unimpeded out of one, not unlike vomit, as I have often pointed out to resistant if not hostile students of creative writing who do not want what I am saying to be true.

But Ampersand Duck's beautiful, intricate books and boxes are much closer to my ideal of a piece of writing: something made with loving, infinite care, with the maker constantly changing the scale of her vision to make sure everything looks right up close and also from a distance, and everything fitting in with everything else just so, with neat even stitches and satisfying colours and all the corners lined up and tucked in.

Making something and learning something are my two fall-back activities to be invoked when one is at the end of one's rope, precisely because they both do take you out of, away from, your raving, needy, sorry self. One reason I liked this post of A. Duck's so much is because it combines the two: learning to make something. Quite apart from its intrinsic value and pleasure, learning bookbinding must be the ultimate therapy. Virginia Woolf knew this, as indeed she knew it about the precision and intricacy of letterpress.

So here is my answer, or coda, to Ampersand Duck and her lovely post: my one all-time favourite quotation from any book anywhere, Merlyn to the very depressed Wart in T. H. White's The Sword in the Stone:

'The best thing for being sad,' replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, 'is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then -- to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.'

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Liveblogging the census form

6.08 pm (CST): I pour myself a big glass of 2004 Fox Creek Sauvignon Blanc and reflect that it would be irresponsible to have more than about two of these while I'm filling in the form.

6.09 pm: Maybe three.

6.10: I wonder what stats they've already got by now on the number of people who are too stupid or inattentive to realise that they are supposed to do it TONIGHT, NOT LAST WEEK OR THE WEEK BEFORE, YOU MORONS.

6.11: The wine is not quite what it should be. I re-think my position on screw caps and switch to a pinot grigio that suggests a combination of not-quite-ripe-pears and granite, which is more like it.

6.13: Online or paper? Paper. Blue or black? Blue.

6.15: I make a mistake with the very first question, writing my street number in the 'Flat or apartment number' box. I take back what I said about morons at 6.10. Also, two glasses of wine might be better.

6.29: I'm bored, and only up to page 12. It would be more fun if I made up the answers, but the cumulative effect of ratbags making up the answers is that people who definitely need all kinds of services may not get them. Back to it.

6.31: I have now written down my name and address twice and it was no fun either time. There are boxes for the name (if any) of one's house. I consider giving my house a name. Emoh Ruo? Avalon? Chez Furball?

6.41: Is that all there is?

I'm sure I remember it being more interesting than that. Oh well. But I still like the idea that all over the country tonight, everyone is doing the same thing, working in these divisive times on what is, for once, a common endeavour. I imagine a kind of Google Earth point of view where I can look with my X-ray vision down through people's roofs and see them sitting at the computer or the desk or the kitchen table, sweltering in Broome or shivering in Launceston, calling out things like Oi, Person 2, how many hours of unpaid housework and gardening did you do this week?

*.....*

Oh, you did not.

*....., ....., ....., ....., ....., ....., ..... and ......*

Oh. Right. I'll put that then.

The idea of home

Yesterday I went to a funeral with my father. He will be 80 in February and I didn't completely fancy the idea of him driving the 200-odd kilometres and back in his elderly little Holden Astra by himself. I had also met the deceased -- a man called Michael who went to school with my father in the 1930s -- a few times and liked him very much. And I do these things because, being my own boss, I can.

We had an uneventful drive north to Port Wakefield near the apex of St Vincent's Gulf and then back south down the coast of Yorke Peninsula. Past Ardrossan you turn off the southbound coast road and angle southwest, inland, and that's when the hair on the back of my neck starts to stir, less because of the spine-jarring road than because we are getting closer and closer to the place where I was born and raised. We have already crossed the land that my great-great-grandfather first farmed in 1855, before moving a few miles south and west to settle down properly.

We're early so we go to the home-town cemetery, a little oasis of sighing trees -- new acacia, middle-aged eucalypt and ancient pine -- out in the middle of nowhere, more than a mile from the town. If you go to a burial here in the summer, you can turn around a full 360 degrees and the only possible phrase at any point in the circle is 'fields of gold'. My great-great-grandfather seems to have been one of the first white people buried here, with his wife beside him: theirs are the first gravestones you see as you walk in, rather modest and delicate late-Victorian designs in white marble. My great-grandparents, both born in South Australia, are one row across and back.

My father prowls around his grandparents' graves, looking at a crumbly bit and saying he must come back to fix it. Henry has lost a bit of the W in his surname. The youngest child, Henry was the near-contemporary of a Narungga man called George Button who lived with my family almost all his life, who as an old man saved my toddler father from being savaged to death by a feral sheepdog in 1929 (he still has the scars on his arm to prove it), and who may or may not have been, but probably was, Henry's half-brother. There are stories of their inseparability as children, playing on the beach at Black Point in the 1860s. I think, not for the first time, that the genius of B. Dylan lies in his ability to nail a timeless image: 'I can still see the shells falling out of their hands / as they follow each other back up the hill.' They died within months of each other in 1935. George is buried in the city, and it occurs to me for the first time that it might be possible to bring him home.

This cemetery is full of my father's friends. For a few years now it has been the resting place of two or three of the tragically-dead kids of the kids I went to primary school with. This year, with a nasty jolt, I see a little memorial to a baby who must have been the granddaughter of a boy in my class. There are a lot of tiny ancient mounds with no markers. Itinerant farm-workers' children have lived and died cheaply for a century and a half.

We drive slowly past the land that my dad and his dad and these two in the cemetery used to own (you know, 'own') and farm, and past the farmhouse I grew up in and the ruins of the house where he was born. Everything is in order. The trees have grown. The wheat and barley look better than he was expecting. We arrive in the township, where we could fire a gun down the main street, if we had a gun. 'Not even a brown dog,' says my father, in a satisfied sort of way.

The funeral is in the next town down the highway. It's a cloudless day and the country church is full of the effect you get when sunlight shines through blue and yellow stained-glass and the colours land on the whitewashed walls. The church is full of projected, reflected and refracted light: sun, candles and slides. There's a lovely shot of Michael, still tall, handsome and upright at about 70, being projected onto a screen at the front of the church. When the Anglican priest gets up and begins to speak we realise he is in fact Michael's own nephew and has been named for him. His family, too, has lived around here since the middle of the 19th century.

I love hearing about Michael's life. I didn't know he'd got the state's top mark for Geology in the 1940 public exams. I didn't know he was in the RAAF. I didn't know that, at 78, after he'd been widowed by cancer for the second time, he became a solitary world traveller, first to Alaska and then to China.

The slender, soft-featured, well-dressed woman sitting next to me in the church turns out to be someone my mum used to visit, youngest child in tow, for cups of tea after she'd dropped me and my older sister off at school. 'The baby was so good, she'd just sit there happily and play with her toys while I talked to your mother.'

There are at least twenty people here who knew my mother. At one point after the service I realise that one little group is looking at me and talking in undertones; I hear ' ... so much like Auntie Kerrie!' I catch an eye and raise a brow, and the bloke calls me over. 'I was just saying to Stephen, you look exactly like your mother.' Stephen, a distant cousin, was named for the great-great-granpa we have in common, the one who was the father of Henry and probably of George.

On the way out of the church we'd done the receiving-line thing with several of Michael's nephews and grandchildren who'd spoken during the service. The last of these was a grandson not yet out of his teens, a slender boy in black who fronted at the lectern, straightened his great-great-grandmother's family Bible in a pedantic sort of way, looked up, and began in a clear young man's voice to read from the Gospel of St John. 'Let not your heart be troubled.'

The Cost of Things

Last night in my local supermarket I paid $7.30 for three bananas.

Why? you moron, I hear you cry, and, Reader, you have a point. I'm not sure why. But they are three perfect bananas, and unlike any banana I have ever bought in my whole life before, they can be absolutely 100% certain that I will eat them at the peak of their perfection, rather than end up using them for banana bread or compost. I may be trying to teach myself some kind of lesson about waste.

Over at Sarsaparilla, however, someone has just posted a comment about a second-hand bookshop that was (during its closing-down sale; wouldn't you know) selling classic paperbacks for 70c. And I have been musing on whether the consumption of three perfect bananas, as quality of experience goes, could in any way be stacked up against reading, oh, say, Middlemarch, David Copperfield, Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, The Waves, Ulysses, Catch-22, and half -- the Peace half -- of War and Peace.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Plotting for spring

Today I planted seedlings of these ...









... and one of these ...









... and some very late clumps of these:










If I were a real gardener's bootlace, I would have planted them all in the proper way at the proper time, in carefully considered positions with carefully prepared soil. As it is, I just whacked them in anywhere I thought they'd look good, gave them a water, and will bung on some fertiliser later on if I remember. By the time they flower, I plan to have got me a digital camera, and will report back.

If they flower.