kaberett: a watercolour of a pale gold/salmon honeysuckle blossom against a background of green leaves (honeysuckle)
I didn't (unsurprisingly) get the greenhouse, but looking at it did substantially clarify my thoughts and the eBays do regularly contain less fancy greenhouses that, actually, probably will perfectly well do the job now I know what I'm after.

In which I ramble about hardware and tell stories about secateurs. )

In terms of my upcoming jobs and planting...

Well, I need to spend some quality time pruning the Ribes bushes various; the plot came with a red dessert gooseberry, a redcurrant, and what-I-think-is-a-jostaberry, all of which are a little neglected and tangled. Tidying them up was on the list for Sunday immediately after the teasels, but a pair of secateurs that couldn't handle a teasel was... erstrecht not going to cope with actual wood. They also need top dressing with manure and then probably mulching, but that can wait until after I've tidied them up a little.

Next door, I've come to the conclusion that what I want to do with my ground-level bed (squash, pak choi, and failed calabrese last year) this season is set some broad beans and peas going down the middle around now, and then sow quinoa down the edges some time later. On the one hand, it's not known that this is a good idea; on the other, intercropping legumes and quinoa is a topic of active research and growing trials, and it looks to me like it ought to be sensible, so no doubt you will collectively get Running Commentary while I experiment.

At home, it's time for me to get the purple chillis and the orange bell peppers started (if I'm going to); that can't really happen until we're back full time, and while I'm happy to heat the house to a temperature that is safe and adequate for me to exist in when I'm actually there most of the time, that is... less the case when I'm away. (I'm attempting to resist the temptation to acquire a heated propagator.) Also the tomatoes, though there the thing I really need to do is work out where I want to put them -- whether I want to grow them on at home again, or if I'll be looking to plant them out at the plot.

Which is a general problem -- the working-out-where-to-plant-things. I'm dithering but probably about to come down on the side of putting the saffron bulbs in around the base of the cherry tree; I think I know where I'm going to put the comfrey once it's established itself a little better; and I'm tentatively leaning towards growing the poppies-for-seed in a patch of mixed wildflowers. (WHERE, though, Alex, you need to work out where you're going to put this. Probably also in the general vicinity of the cherry, if we're honest.)

But. Yes. Priorities: getting misc. seeds started; actually sourcing and constructing my proper raised beds so that I can plant out into them (which will inevitably involve More Weeding); pruning and dressing the Ribes; and working out what I want by way of asparagus, because my mother has offered to buy me some crowns.

So, you know, if you have asparagus cultivar recommendations, please by all means go ahead! I prefer the stems to the tips, and I am resigned to growing at least some purple...
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
Reading. I finished Predators' Gold! It did not redeem itself, to my tastes. I then proceeded to have a bit of a tailspin about "do I object to fiction that portrays people doing bad things without getting 'adequately' punished or without it getting called out in the text? am I secretly an anti?" but the answer is, on reflection, no -- I don't think it's Immoral Art That Should Be Banned, it's just that I've got a very long reading list including a bunch of books I am actually excited (rather than cross) about, and I abruptly Really Don't Care about these characters enough to invest any more time in them at all whatsoever. Meanwhile, I have not been reading much because reasons, but Dreams from My Father reappeared from the library so I'm working slowly on that. Also I finally scraped together the brain to read the most recent shortfic associated with your blue-eyed boys ("shortfic": one of them was 23k words), which was immensely soothing.

Growth. I went to the allotment today! The fennel died back a lot in the frosts but I'm hopeful that 1. it will continue turning into food (it's putting forth new feathery growth) and 2. some if it will get as far as making seeds. I pulled up all the teasels and got as many of them as I could before the cheap shitty secateurs broke, so those are in a neat pile, and did a very little hand-weeding. Happily, though, the combination of manure + weed-suppressant takeaway pizza boxes + wood chip meant that there was really very little weeding as needed done, which impressed me. Spinach is coming along nicely but probably needs thinning (and eating); to my surprise a nontrivial chunk of the remaining pak choi also survived the frosts and are now doing their determined best to flower.

When I got in on Wednesday night, I discovered that my comfrey crowns had finally arrived (on the second attempt) so I've now got those potted up on the patio to establish while I work out where to put them. This means that I also received the last of the seeds currently on order, though I am now seriously considering acquiring two kinds of basil, some caraway and sesame seed, some rocket, and maaaaybe some chickpeas, though chickpeas seem possibly even a step too far for me.

Alas I did not win the greenhouse I had been pining after, but it ended up going for about three times what I was willing or able to pay for it, which means I successfully do not feel bad about having "just missed out" or similar.

Lab supplies. So many lab supplies. I got to campus at around 9 on Thursday and... slightly didn't leave again til 2pm on Saturday, though hopefully by the next time I want to do anything of the sort I'll have 24h access enabled on my card so I'll be able to actually kip on the sofa in my head of group's office rather than drowzing underneath the computer table in the Bloody Cold. (I was wearing three jumpers, a scarf, and fingerless gloves, and I still spent most of those three days shivering.)
kaberett: a watercolour of a pale gold/salmon honeysuckle blossom against a background of green leaves (honeysuckle)
Some of you have specifically mentioned being interested in seeing other people's responses to this week's [community profile] thefridayfive, and I'm sitting around nervously watching the mass spec run without the concentration to do anything more useful, so here you go.

Content note: this week's theme is grocery shopping and meal planning. My answers therefore involve mention of sensory issues with food, dietary restrictions, and disordered eating.

Read more... )


Of course, what these questions don't touch on is HAVE I MENTIONED I HAVE AN ALLOTMENT. :D I make choices about what to grow (and where) for convenience; for example, I don't like buying cut herbs because (i) I feel vaguely guilty and (ii) they're never the right quantities, but I do like fresh herbs, so in pots on the verandah I've got mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, chives, and bay. I'm on the verge of buying seeds for two kinds of basil; an honourable mention to the ancestral wild garlic, that springeth green. I also had tomatoes on the patio (... I still haven't decided what to call it; "decking" seems awfully USois, somehow, and isn't quite in my active vocabulary) this summer, which was convenient and enjoyable enough that I'm likely to do it again. (I might also try cucumbers on the patio, depending on how the weather goes and whether I actually buy a greenhouse.)

At the allotment I'm prioritising things it's ridiculously expensive to buy (poppy seed! caraway seed! hopefully, if I get my act together, asparagus! bay leaves! soft fruit! hopefully some saffron, thanks to [personal profile] ewt!), things that come in entirely the wrong amounts always and are awkward to store (spinach!), things I always wince over the cost of and can rarely be persuaded to indulge myself on (fennel! purple sprouting broccoli! pak choi! shallots! interesting salad leaves! hopefully passionfruit!), things that are Brightly Coloured (this season I'm going to be experimenting with Painted Mountain sweetcorn, rainbow quinoa and purple chillis, among others), things it's otherwise tricksy to find (root parsley! :D), and things that are Just Better when they're really ludicrously fresh (hiiiii peas). I'd already been trying to eat seasonally; I'm looking forward to spending more time paying attention to plants, and trying to remind myself that I'm not going to be starting everything off hideously too late even if I am only getting back from Belfast at the end of February.

This is of course my first year with the allotment so I don't... entirely have a sense of how my shopping patterns will actually be affected, but I Am Excited To Find Out: I've already been enjoying working with the rhubarb and beetroot neighbours have desperately fobbed off on me, and with the things I've managed to get going already. So, you know, if compatible with your diet, should you visit me over the summer there's a very high chance that you'll be fed Things What I Grew (That Aren't The Sourdough), and should I visit you you might get brought A Tribute...
kaberett: a watercolour of a pale gold/salmon honeysuckle blossom against a background of green leaves (honeysuckle)
In that I want one! Given a greenhouse I could start things at the allotment off earlier in the year, and probably grow a passionfruit, and have somewhere to actually store my tools a bit more usefully, and actually be able to grow the cucumbers and sweet peppers I'm hoping for, and so on and so forth.

(I'd want one with automatic openers on the roof vents because there is no way I'm actually going to reliably make it to the allotment twice a day, sorry, which is also why I don't get to keep any kind of livestock.)

The specific dither I'm having, though, is that greenhouses are Expensive new. I would probably be able to get one for less than fifty quid off ebay... only then I'd have to dismantle and remantle it myself, and probably hire a van, and have an enormous anxiety about how to transport the glass in a van without breaking it, and also either look pathetic at Adam some more (who has driven A Lot of vans for me) or look pathetic at You Lot for a volunteer who doesn't mind helping to dismantle a greenhouse etc etc etc. And then I get anxious about what kind of footing I'd need to work out putting it on, as well; breeze blocks or concrete paving slabs seem like the obvious options but, also, I'm having a massive executive dysfunction about it.

So probably what's actually going to happen is that I'll keep dithering through the start of this season while keeping appendages crossed that the DWP is going to give me the back-payment I'm theoretically owed, which would let me pay off the last non-mortgage house-purchase debt and hopefully have enough left over that I can, in fact, just Pay To Make The Problem Go Away, which... would be lovely. (Fingers crossed: I've got an upcoming phone call about SMI and my PIP reassessment is on Wednesday, when all else aside I'll be able to tell them that I have in fact recently had a fall while sitting down that resulted in broken bones.)

But! Advice and input and suggestions are very welcome, so. Please feel encouraged to tell me what I'm missing. <3
kaberett: Euphorbia cf. serrata, green crown of leaves/flowers central to image. (spurge)
I'm a cliché, I know, but the fennel I have been growing on the plot ('Colossal') is genuinely the nicest I think I've ever had: it's sweet and aromatic and delicious and I am delighted by it, and in addition to the bulbs I'm eating I'm intending to leave some to go to seed so I can grow More next year.

Something I had failed to properly anticipate when sowing it, however, is that fennel fronds are... a thing. A big feathery... thing. On the plot at dusk they almost manage to resemble a tiny forest, and it would be ridiculous to just put all of that straight back in the compost, so I've... been eating it? I've been eating it and working out what on earth to do with it with a certain degree of perplexity.

I also brought a bulb down to Cornwall with me, having stopped off at the allotment to pick up the fabled Phormium tenax, and subsequently have been doing Further Cooking. Adventures in fennel thus far:
  • fronds (and some of the leggier bits of stalk) chopped up fine, in leek-and-potato soup
  • fronds in courgette fritters
  • fronds in potato salad
  • fronds in non-potato salad
  • bulb roasted, in any variety of useful roasted-veg contexts
  • bulb chopped up fine in risotto (yesssssss)
kaberett: a watercolour of a pale gold/salmon honeysuckle blossom against a background of green leaves (honeysuckle)
Health: it's about three months since we last upped my thyroxine dose, and night before last (in a room at 18degC) I ended up under three layers of duvet, plus the weighted blanket, plus two folded fleece blankets, plus a hot water bottle, plus wrapping myself around A... which was just about sufficient warmth that I could relax and Go The Fuck To Sleep. (Three duvets + anger blanket + A was emphatically not sufficient. I was shivering.) Also, I'm sleeping more during the day again. Hurrah for probably-seronegative-autoimmune-hypothyroidism that's going to keep declining. \o/

Growth: first batch of mulch out the bin, and lessons so far appear to be broadly (1) it's all very well to put in enough shredded paper to absorb the liquid from the compost caddy, but I kiiiiiiinda need to also put in enough to absorb the liquid from the weeding; (2) also more wood chip for structure; (3) dried grass needs chopping up really small, no, smaller than that; and (4) while sandwich packaging continues A Nightmare Waitrose are at least... trying?

Squash (unsurprisingly) did not end up ripening before the frosts, so I'll try again next year with an earlier start and a better understanding of powdery mildew. I really need to thin out the spinach (and make some pasta?), and we just ate the first of the fennel, and very nice it was too.

Belfast: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah
kaberett: a watercolour of a pale gold/salmon honeysuckle blossom against a background of green leaves (honeysuckle)
... to the thing that appeared to be grass growing up through my planted-out cut-price live-baby-salad-leaves, when I stepped onto the patio just now -- full moon or thereabouts shining down serenely -- to retrieve something from the garage (we have a garage) and to pick some tomatoes for tomorrow's lunch. (The fact that my patio tomatoes are still happily ripening up, while sat on the patio, in late October, is... Another Matter.)

So I picked it, and I picked another of it, and I was reaching for the third when I thought "... hold on a second, everything suddenly smells of garlic."

I tasted, cautiously, the "grass blades" I had just broken off.

... the wild garlic I brought back from the Mouldering Ancestral Pile way back at the beginning of the year, as I was passing through Plymouth for my pre-op consultation with my top surgeon? That I planted in a trough, watched shrivel up sulkily, and then exasperatedly planted some cut-price live-baby-salad-leaves on top of, in the vague expectation that I would probably actually see them again?

Like wheat that springeth green, indeed.
kaberett: Toph making a rock angel (toph-rockangel)
In my last post about the NHM there was a Good Bat Fact I failed to include: the pitcher plant that has evolved to be a bat roost. It doesn't bother eating insects any more, really, even! It lets the bat catch them for it! It is So Good.


Meanwhile, I am currently in the Peak District; A brought me up this way yesterday. Prior to setting off, however, we had Things To Do in Enfield: we'd been expecting our ex-landlord (!) to come by to pick up his Misc Shite (incl. half a box of Cuban cigars, obviously) from the garage, but by the time he'd come down with a bug on Friday we'd already made plans around existing in Enfield 'til early afternoon, so we stuck with those. First up was a local repair cafe, where I got someone who knew what they were doing to tell me how to fix a slipper sock and also a fabric bottle holder for t'wheelchair; A got talked through mending some trousers in the other half of my slot. (Skill acquistion dates are the Best Dates.)

Following this A very Patiently drove me out to Waltham Abbey so that I could collect some freecycled Phormium tenax clumps; my mother is fond of the stuff and wants to deposit some in the grounds (ha) of the Mouldering Ancestral Pile, so when I saw it going I very cheerfully said "yes please". A had... not quite appreciated that these plant clumps were going to be almost as tall as me, and sort of trailed after me going "... what the fuck, Alex" as I loaded them into the back of the car... before taking me on a tiny single-track road ("not suitable for HGVs") through a tree-tunnel in London, what even, it was an excellent adventure. (And then I heeled the plants in at the allotment, where I also fed the compost bin and went LOOK AT YOU AREN'T YOU A SPINACH, before we went home to eat lunch and feed the tomatoes and actually pack.)

Today I have mostly been attempting to build LineageOS for the new kitchen tablet (it has been An Adventure but is now almost 25% done), along with cooking some of the quince (quince and rhubarb cobbler, using allotment-rhubarb that I dragged up with us) and A Lot of roast dinner for seven. I am shortly to curl up in a sleepy pile, and Lo, It Will Be Good, and there are Rocks and Pointy Bits and Sheep and I am very contented.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
Food: I am now within hailing distance of Usefully Achieving The Effect I Want with both profiteroles and sourdough. All hail Leiths How To books, which include explanations of why the various steps are important, in terms of what they actually do. (I suspect I am also, therefore, going to achieve Actually Neat Shortcrust Pastry Cases, which has been a vague goal for a while now, which will make me feel very smug about culinary skill acquisition this year.)

Unwise purchase decisions: the Waitrose bargain bin contained... quince. At two-thirds off. And A enabled me. Which is why the fruit bowl now contains seventeen quince, which with I am going to have to do Something. (Yes, yes, quince jelly and membrillo, I know -- but I've already got some of each made by my mother, so really I'm going to have to poach them or make sorbet or something.)

Allotment: bin continues merrily creeping its way back up to 50degC and making space for me to put more things in the top, thank goodness, and I've got some of the first Actually Nice compost out of it (while dragging out some more of the undigested first base layer) in order to repot the lavender A bought for 50p from an unmanned stall on the seafront on the south coast, the day we went down to pick up a friend's wheelchair. (Dear friend: he didn't have 50p in change so actually put in a quid... which is going to support the local gang show. In a delightful moment of serendipity.) Additionally and furthermore, the squash look no worse (and tentatively a little better); more of the spinach are showing true leaves; and I'm making more substantive new progress on weeding again (i.e. clearing more beds, rather than "just" doing maintenance weeding).

Movement: as of tomorrow I am going to be at three sets of six reps each on gym stuff, and I'm up to five minutes of stationary bike at both beginning and end (and get to up the resistance another notch, I think). [personal profile] cesy is also very kindly physio-buddying with me via the magic of IM, so I'm getting a bit more dopamine out of doing various exercises (because they are Seen and Recognised, etc etc etc).
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
  1. A combination of Terrible Bus Journeys and Piccadilly Line Strikes meant that I ended up in Ikea on Wednesday afternoon, where I made a friend, because, um, I don't believe anyone who has ever met me expects me to meet a small round white glowy hedgehog and not bring it home to cuddle.
  2. We have been very much enjoying the cherry tomatoes off the plants I bought from a charity shop with zero identification; when they're full-sized but haven't started ripening up yet they do this fantastic two-tone thing with dark green tops and light green bottoms and a sort of striped or streaky fade between the two. They're great (and also pretty tasty); I've tentatively identified them as maybe being Gardener's Delight, but I've also saved a bunch of seeds from them so we get to have more next year regardless.
  3. I have spent a lot of the last few days curled up in the evenings with the Guilt Knitting and fic or advice columns or the Watergate Documentary (thanks to [personal profile] rydra_wong, who was sufficiently enthusiastic that I subdued my intense suspicion of unfamiliar audiovisual media and watched the full four hours), and it has been very pleasant and soothing and I am making great progress.
  4. First actually-all-my-fault food from the allotment as part of last night's dinner (and today's lunch, and today's dinner)!!! The pak choi I planted out directly into one bed (and then mulched, and then mulched some more) recovered from the slugs after the second mulching and are now sufficiently productive that I can start pulling bits off them without endangering their life. All the other allotment-food we've eaten has been pre-existing stuff that I wasn't Directly Responsible For All Stages Of, so I am proper delighted about this.
  5. I finally have confirmation from my wheelchair dealership about pricing and part numbers various, and to my very great relief they're happy for me to fit the parts myself rather than needing to slog down to Farnborough to see them, so with any luck by this time next month I will have two fewer wheelchairs in the house (well -- net one fewer, because one of mine is currently on loan to the person whose chair I currently have here waiting for me to finish tuning it up, but hush).
  6. I stumbled upon some of the small Leiths How To cookbooks in a shop last week, skimmed all of them, learned a lot, promptly acquired one of them that had an ex-library copy going cheap on eBay (which turned out to be from the Dublin public library system, ha), and very tentatively managed a slightly more convincing (in some respects) sourdough than I have previously, in a way I sort of feel I understand. I am looking into getting myself an oval banneton, and am feeling a lot more confident about maybe meeting this year's culinary goal of "maybe??? learn to make a convincing sourdough???" So I'm excited about that!
  7. Other allotment news about which I am excited: the fennel (even the ones I rudely transplanted and did not expect to survive, but which I couldn't quite bear to just thin out and dump directly in the compost) are looking increasingly like a recognisable vegetable! My three rows of spinach have come up and are starting to produce recognisable spinach leaves in addition to their seedling leaves!
  8. Orchestra has started up again and I'm doing much less badly than I expected for not reaaaaaaally having played much in about six months. My tone isn't great but I've mostly actually got enough stamina to play for a rehearsal? I can roughly remember where the notes are? I have yet to manage to take the horn out of its case between rehearsals to practice at home, but I have Secret Plans And Clever Tricks aimed at making that more manageable (to do with having rearranged space inside the house).
  9. I keep remembering the Elementary season 6 finale and having More Feelings. People who love each other.
  10. Cough-suppressant drugs I can safely take, which are enabling me to get to sleep at all, are Really Good and I am Very Grateful.
kaberett: Toph making a rock angel (toph-rockangel)


[A very small snail crawls along the edge of a blue bucket, in three-quarters profile with one eyestalk elegantly extended.]
kaberett: Toph making a rock angel (toph-rockangel)
On Saturday afternoon I met a slow worm. Ridiculous little what-the-fuck shoelacey noodle of a not-snake. I think it is the first time in my adult life I have knowingly met one? I shifted some composty bits to move them into the bin and there it was, doing a startle-freeze of SUDDENLY A SKY PREDATOR, and I stared at it and it stared at me and after a while it decided that Fuck Alla This and slithered further down into the pile to eat more woodlice, and I very gently replaced the top bundle of grass etc that I'd lifted up and backed away. A. just about caught a glimpse of its tail as it finished vanishing.

I then had a certain amount of confusion when looking it up to confirm that I really had seen a real-life actual slow worm, because I was very certain that the thing I'd seen was bright yellow with a black stripe down its back, but all the sources were describing female slow worms (THERE MIGHT BE BABIES) as "golden-grey". It took me A While to work out that I needed to translate from "ordinary people" to "geologist", i.e., yes, the fucker was bright yellow, we're all good.


On the vague topic: having fed the ridiculously extravagant compost bin a relatively parsimonious amount over that preceding week, I was a little alarmed when I showed up to feed it on Wednesday (with packing peanuts, thank you relevant friend) and found it was only at an internal temperature of 40degC. I was therefore very relieved on Thursday to find that, having got started digesting a lot of dandelion leaves and bindweed and paper and cardboard in addition to the packing peanuts, the internal temperature had risen to 50dgeC again.

It is a ridiculous extravagance and I'm still delighted about it. I haven't actually tested the "mulch out in 30 days, mature compost out in 90" yet -- it hasn't been in situ that long -- but I can feed it pizza boxes! I can feed it my moulted hair! I can feed it actual perennial weeds and it will just cook them yea verily unto death and turn them into compost for me! It will eat compostable kitchen bags that you can't cold-compost! I don't have to turn the heap! It's warm and you can hug it! The local cat has not yet quite worked out whether it is A Good Warm or A Kitten-Eating Monster!


Also my fennel looks increasingly like incredibly weedy fennel, and one of my butternut squash vines has an actual flower. Given how late I got them germinated I'm not holding my breath for actually getting any fruit off them before we get frost, but hey, it is An Adventure, and they're growing a flower.
kaberett: a watercolour of a pale gold/salmon honeysuckle blossom against a background of green leaves (honeysuckle)
A very overgrown allotment, with a weeded raised bed in the foreground.

A landscape photograph of an allotment


Image the first: allotment circa June. Image the second: allotment as of last week, with all of the foreground raised beds cleared -- I've since made further progress clearing the next bed back in the second row from the right, and today I dumped a bunch more woodchip mulch on my squash and around my pak choi. (Maybe it will help with the slugs! Maybe it won't. Who knows.)

Of very great excitement to me is the compost bin, in the middle at the back, being large and black and looming. It is a hot bin, made of expanded polypropylene, that I can put pretty much everything in (including perennial weeds and "compostable" kitchen caddy liners), because it's running at a cheerful 60degC and quite happily steams things. I don't get mulch out of it for another 2-3 weeks, but it will give me fully matured compost after 90 days with no turning.

Currently in the ground are four butternut squash plants (on the right, receding into the distance) behind which are some white-stemmed pak choi (which the slugs are greatly enjoying); behind that the grape vine has actual grapes on, but who knows if they'll ripen. In the adjacent bed to the left I have some fennel growing, somewhat experimentally; this crop I intend to just eat all of, but next year I intend to additionally harvest copious amounts of seed, some for cooking as-is and some for saving and planting again.

At home I've got nine or ten green calabrese working on getting big enough to plant out, and I've started sowing onion seed and my walking onion sets in modules where I can keep an eye on them. (WALKING ONIONS: instead of growing a sensible allium flower, they... grow tiny little bubils where their flower should be, and then eventually they fall over and self-seed a foot away. They're absolutely an indulgence BUT ALSO I do like spring/bunching onions and they'll make me smile, so.)

At some point when A isn't Death Of Flu I'm going to induce him to drive me down to a nearishby builders' merchant so I can buy some cheap scaffold board so I can actually reconstruct the raised beds with an edging other than cheap plywood, in a more useful shape. Once that job is Sorted Out, I am intending to give one bed over to allium various and one (half of?) one bed over to winter spinach, and then the rest is going to get green manured and possibly mulched and left to think about what it's done until spring.

In the meantime, I have begun plotting with U to spend some time at the allotment social next week cornering the site manager and establishing from her whether the plot in the very back corner, that's neck-deep in brambles and nettles, is actually as abandoned as it looks. Because if it is our next question is "great, can we have it?" -- the plum tree on it is magnificent (I've been scrumping them, as nobody else seems to be), we've both got less than a 10-pole plot each (in that we've got a 10-pole plot in total, as far as I can tell), and we'd quite like somewhere away from our main growing beds to put in the lovage and the comfrey and the chamomile. As a bonus, U is successfully persuading me that we probably do actually want to grow quinoa, and between the two of us I expect we'd actually manage a large enough harvest to be worthwhile...
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
1. I've been complaining a fair old bit, over the past few months, that I've been feeling very resistant to writing up therapy notes but I couldn't tell whyyyyyyy and it didn't make any seeeeeeeeeense. It turns out that, as ever, brains are sneaky little buggers, particularly in self-defence, and the reason I was so reluctant to engage with therapy notes is in fact exactly the reason I go to therapy. Which is: I want to have a responsible adult around to spot me while I do a bunch of emotional heavy lifting, and as it happens part of why I find writing up therapy notes so useful is that it makes more stuff cohere, i.e., it's more emotional heavy lifting. Only I try to do it all in one chunk without a spotter. And over the past few months, when the reluctance has really set in, I've by-and-large been stable enough that I've actually been digging into long-term change, which is much more intimidiating than short-term fire-fighting when it comes to looking at it solo. Well done, that brain, but it's okay, I promise, we got this.

They get less ambivalently positive! )
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
Eating: dinner last night involved the first tomatoes off the plants on the patio. Lunch today was soup & houmous I found reduced in the shop on the way home from the gym, the latter topped with smoked paprika hurrah, plus a pitta. I am now feeling somewhat less grouchy.

Drinking: a lot of angry water + some simple syrup + some lime wedges + some mint + some cold squares.

Reading: ybeb, again, and it is immensely soothing.

Listening: Soldiers - Matt Fishel, on repeat, content note: reference to suicide & discussion of death. I keep remembering it on the bus and crying some more. (Though it seems we're living in easier times/there are still soldiers out on the front lines...)

Growing: tomatoes!!! Pak choi and calabrese are sprouting. Fennel about to go in the ground, and onions for overwintering in another fortnight or so.

Post: thank you to [personal profile] vass and [personal profile] divulge, not that I'm managing to e-mail you -- Vass, I suddenly understand the point of washi tape, THANK YOU for the stegosaurs, and at the point that I scraped together the brain to actually open it I spent fifteen minutes spreading the stickers around on the sofa (and picking them up from where they'd ...exploded) and giggling. divulge, I am drawing plans of the allotment and working out crop rotations in the DINOSAURS BOOK and I am inevitably delighted by the 'osaurs + the succulents. Thank you <333

Grumpy e-mails: this morning's highlight boiled down to "so is this Compulsory Active Bystander Training actually compulsory given I'm on interruption and also I'm an activist of over a decade's standing, PS why EXACTLY did college end up picking an overpaid white man to deliver this material".
kaberett: a watercolour of a pale gold/salmon honeysuckle blossom against a background of green leaves (honeysuckle)
  1. A couple of weeks ago, The Indelicates' latest project: Paradise Lost, reimagined as a rock musical set in a racist 1950s US holiday resort. I was lucky enough to be part of one of the initial readthroughs several years ago now, in the top room of a Brighton pub, and was absolutely delighted to see how it had changed and developed. It contains the Indelicates' first (I think) proper love-song-to-rock-music, which is a subgenre I have a very deep fondness for.
  2. Yesterday I went to see Fun Home at the Young Vic, with the usual suspects (i.e. [personal profile] me_and, [personal profile] shortcipher, and [personal profile] sebastienne), having booked it when its run was first announced sometime... last year; it's been something in the far far future that I've been vaguely looking forward to for a long time. (P got me the book while I was living in the Coniston Coppermines youth hostel lo these many years ago for my third-year mapping project; I read Are You My Mother? earlier this year, from the library.) I started crying when Baby Alison stood up on stage and sang a song about Seeing Her First Butch: here, here is this kid, who can stand on stage and sing that song and it's okay and it gets better and, yeah, I... did not stop crying until sometime after the end. I loved loved loved so many of the things they did with it. I... might try to write a proper review? But I loved it, and I'm so glad I went, and it's not just because the way Bechdel draws herself looks eerily similar to my therapist so I've mentally amalgamated the two of them into Queer Elder Who Gets It And Wants Me To Be Okay.
  3. Following that we wandered along the Thames a little and I ended up being approached by an older Irish woman and asked for mobility aid recommendations on the strength of being out and about with power-assist wheels. I eventually persuaded her to try them. She is a convert, she is the latest person to insist that I should be getting commission on them, and she has my phone number so she can text me if she has questions.
  4. This morning I actually froze the probably-jostaberry sorbet made up with allotment fruit according to the Ruby Violet recipe (give or take my intense suspicion that 15g of lemon zest was a good idea). It is beautifully coloured and a bit more cronch than intended because we went off for board games in the middle, but basically AAAAAAH SKILL ACQUISITION. (It took me an embarrassingly long time, on Friday, to realise that given that it was for blackcurrant sorbet it really didn't matter if I couldn't find glucose powder without added vitamin C.)
  5. When [personal profile] jack posted about the boardgame Photosynthesis earlier this week I looked at his review, thought "ooh that maybe sounds like [personal profile] me_and's kind of thing? maybe I should get it for him?", and then dithered a lot over how thoroughly to check with him before buying it as, potentially, a Surprise Present. So I was mightily amused when we rocked up at a boardgame social organised by a friend this afternoon that... it was out on the table waiting to be played as our host's first pick. I screwed up the final two moves through misunderstanding and vagueness (and, frankly, the pineapple/raspberry margharita) so lost instead of winning, but, like, I played a new game? Without reading the rules through thoroughly and obsessively first? In semi-public? So I continue deeply impressed with myself, and A is in fact interested in getting a present of Trees Are Mean And Also Bullies. I, meanwile, was just very amused by Growing A Plant. (Also played Dixit for the first time, with people I don't know terribly well, and didn't lose abjectly and did mostly enjoy myself! So that's a thing.)
  6. Pottered off to the allotment this evening, confirmed that the gooseberry is spiky and a gooseberry, checked on the squash that didn't really need watering and watered them anyway, constructed a scaffold for the grape (which has actual proto-grapes on, what even is this), and picked A Lot of blackberries.


A cone of bamboo tied together with grass, with a grape enthusiastically attaching itself with great haste.
kaberett: a watercolour of a pale gold/salmon honeysuckle blossom against a background of green leaves (honeysuckle)
Item the first: the squash, in the process of hatching. Two and a half (of six seeds, in an egg carton repurposed for the growing of plants) baby butternut squash, with their seedling leaves only.

A six-egg carton, repurposed for germinating squash seeds. Two have germinated.

+6 )

Plans for next steps: finish weeding the current bed. Plant squash #4 in it. Germinate some brassica and pak choi and plant those in at the very end (have conveniently just finished a pack of eggs, so repurposing that carton too...). And then move on to the other small raised bed, nick some chamomile and some dubious borage from the abandoned plot at the end and stick them in there, and then ???????

Not pictured: the brambles I've hacked down and left to dry, and the extraordinary quantity of bindweed I've removed from the probably-a-jostaberry.
kaberett: a watercolour of a pale gold/salmon honeysuckle blossom against a background of green leaves (honeysuckle)
  • On Monday, as I was getting my act together to head over to the allotment for a little, a robin came within about a foot of me on the verandah. I am very excited about this and have high hopes that it will continue deciding I am shaped like a friend.
  • Also on Monday, while actually at the allotmennt, I rounded the corner (picking blackberries) and there was A Fox! The fox did... not think I was a friend, alas.
  • Brought home on Monday: blackberries, an odd black currant, and pile of bamboo nicked from the abandoned allotment next door with the site manager's blessing. The bamboo was promptly used to conduct a scaffold for the patio tomatoes, which are starting to think about turning yellow and definitely needed more support than my existing stakes were giving them.
  • Brought home yesterday: dwarf sunflowers in a terracotta pot from M&S, reduced to £2.80. If I am going to panic-buy anything I'm reasonably happy for it to be sunflowers.
  • Today at the allotment: I sorted through all the various bits of loose wood that had been set aside for Eventual Beds, determined that most of it is well on the way to being partially-composted woodchips, sorted it into piles, and determined to come back with a mallet at the point that my compost bin has actually arrived. (Relatedly, I have spent a fair amount of time looking at hardware websites and have more-or-less convinced myself that pulling out all the rotting plywood and building new raised bed edges is a Better Bet.) I also discovered Another Bed, this one not raised, and was pleasantly surprised by the soil quality when I started weeding; I intend to alternate Awful Paperwork and continuing to weed it tomorrow, whereupon I will put the other two butternut squash in it.
  • I think there is then ooooooone more level bed that looks plausibly weedable, which I propose to put pak choi and calabrese in if I can get to it in time, following which Growing Season Will Be Over (for my purposes, in the short term) and it will be time to Seriously Start Reworking The Raised Beds, plus or minus late beetroot and carrots.
  • I have pretty well convinced myself that the mystery black currants are probably jostaberries. They are very tasty and I am very fond. What is less clear to me is what exactly the actual gooseberry is; it's a sweet red variety, but I'm pretty much at ???English Red Jacket??? and... who knows. Regardless, it's not going to crop terribly heavily this year, but I'll keep nibbling at the fruit anyway and once it's done I'll see about weeding, pruning and fertilising.
  • ... the grape vine has at least two bunches of honest-to-goodness immature grapes on it. I'm extremely suspicious and nonetheless considering building it a support structure of bamboo.
  • Can you tell I'm really enjoying getting to spend time grubbing around in the dirt? I really am. Even though I do now have an entertaining variety of Comedy Insect Bites.
kaberett: a watercolour of a pale gold/salmon honeysuckle blossom against a background of green leaves (honeysuckle)
The other two were clearly not going to, and indeed had made no moves towards so doing, and have been relegated to the compost.

At the allotment this evening I/we:
  • unloaded all the topsoil from Freecycle from the car
  • picked a few handfuls of raspberries and pulled up a bunch of bindweed as I went
  • positively identified the blackcurrants, which are getting on ready for harvesting
  • established that the redcurrants have mostly gone over
  • found that there??? is an apple tree???
  • confirmed that the raised bed does not have weeds growing back through it
  • cheerfully met some more of the plot holders, and won some lettuce and some bay leaves out of it (in addition to some garlic from U)
  • ate some of the first blackberries to be coming ripe


The various Ribes bushes are, I think, not quite where I'd have chosen to put them, but so it goes (and the blackcurrant is not the cultivar I'm used to, which will be an adventure in itself). I'm still trying to get a sense of where, underneath all the teasels, the raised beds are (and how disintegrating they are). I can't work out if the Stuff under the pile of carpet is topsoil or compost. My fancy compost bin, it tetches, Has Not Yet Arrived, and I want to PLAY with it.

At home, I rotated the tomato growbag to persuade them to behave a bit better, and I only need to oil the bottom of the picnic bench once more (possibly tomorrow but possibly Friday, depending on whether I feel up to supporting a friend in court tomorrow). Thereafter all we have to do (... all!) is, er, extricate the remaining bolt that wouldn't come; fill the holes with wood filler; drill the wood filler out to sit the housings in it; turn it back over; and reattach the benches.

(The mortgage application is, or very nearly, at a point where all we can do is hurry up and wait.)
kaberett: Toph making a rock angel (toph-rockangel)
  1. So far, three of the butternut squash (of six) have hatched (i.e. the sprouts are clearly visible above the soil), and a fourth is On Its Way. Two of those are already growing through the egg carton, so I brought a bucket of manure home from the allotment just now and I'll be transplanting them into bigger pots once I have finished this additional pint of water and recovered a little more.
  2. At the allotment, I further characterised the extent of the decay of the smallest raised bed; I scraped eight buckets of manure through it; I watered it Extensively; and I topped it with wood chippings to inhibit weeds. (The council provides both manure and wood chippings, which is helpful.) I think I'll probably struggle to fit more than two of the squash plants in it so I had best get cracking with another bed (... not that I actually have confirmation that it's My Plot yet, but it's not like I'm doing any harm by weeding it and planting some crops out...). Alas, all the remaining beds are larger, and so far this small one has taken me about three hours including breaks-for-lying-down...
  3. Having got that bed finished (for now), I staggered around the rest of the plot (tripping over a fence along the way), established that I Cannot face doing anything to encourage the artichoke to be edible this year (it's seven foot tall, okay), and toward the back of the plot found my own redcurrant bushes as well as Even More Raspberries, many of which were actually ripe. So! I ate a couple of handfuls of those, and It Was Good.
  4. I thiiiiink my poor sad jade plant (rescued from a shrivelled-up stem someone else had broken off at Kew about four years ago, shhh, nobody dob me in) has finally (once again) recovered from the trauma of repeated house moves and is contemplating actually growing new leaves in addition to its more enthusiastic root system. Fingers crossed for it.
  5. Parsley and mint have achieved a second wind.
  6. ... I am enjoying my grobag tomatoes so much, people. So much. They keep making more flowers! And tomatoes! None of them are even thinking about ripening yet, but give it another two weeks and we should be well on our way to Home-Grown Tomatoes for the rest of the season.

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