Three things: Penny Lane, music, and more music!


We’ve all been sticking our noses into these roses everytime we walk past them this week. I planted this climber, ‘Penny Lane’ (it makes me want to hum too), a few weeks ago and already have a few flowers to enjoy.

Preparing for winter again by thinking of outdoor things we want to do (the suggestion of making boats out of leaves and sailing them down the kerbside rivers has come from my 4 old year old more than once)  and indoor activities when it is too wet and cold to be outside.  For this, we are beginning a soundtrack and, as per the 4 year old’s request, Penny Lane is there, and so is this, and this (what can I say–the kid’s got passion)… suggestions received gratefully!

And this wicked track (with its amazing video) got me through a hard winter once before, and I am hoping it will be there for me again.  Oh Aberdeen winter, you shall not defeat me this time.


Challenge 2: A tight budget (Part II)


Many of these herbs–in a strip of garden beneath my kitchen window–I inherited from friends when they left Aberdeen.

This continues the series I have been doing on the three challenges of my garden.  This is Part II of the second challenge.  You can read Part I of the challenge of a tight budget here where I explain how narrow constraints (like a tight budget), are often helpful for the creative process.

Another “upside” I have found to having a tight budget is that the most cost-effective option has often bought with it the added bonus of friendship or community, not to mention a sense of legacy.  The other day I was on the bus with my two kids and we had a few short but pleasant interactions with an elderly couple sitting behind us.  When they went to get off the bus, I realised that they belonged to a garden we walked by almost daily.  I quickly confirmed, “you have the beautiful garden on the corner, don’t you?”  She replied, “well, I don’t know about beautiful, but it certainly gives us a lot of pleasure”.  The bus door was almost open when she walked back to say to me, “you must come and get some plants from us”.

Like other making/creative communities, the gardening world is full of people who simply can’t stop sharing information or resources.  Gardening is often a solitary and meditative activity, but I have also found connection with many people who have the same passion–this is why community gardens and allotments are so wonderful.  And, ahem, gardening blogs.  I am looking forward to visiting this couple soon, not just for the plants (in many ways, that is secondary), but because getting to know them, even to a small degree, will “lively up” our regularly walk down the hill.

I like to think that many gardeners are generous with their information and resources because their gardens have taught them to be.  Gardens often provide for us without stinginess.  When a plant does well, it can be prolific and in many cases, it pays for a gardener to share the love.  Plant division needs to happen to maintain plant health, and if there is no room or place for the divided extras, why not just give them away?  Our gardens are living, breathing organisms, and there is nothing to be gained when we hoard or stockpile plants and seeds when we don’t have room or the right spot for them.  They will die, go to waste, or require more work than what they return.

I have clear memories of the journey home from my grandparents’ place, tucking my feet up above a bucket of root cuttings and divided plants from their garden, to be replanted in my parents’ garden.  Years after my grandparents’ deaths, a couple of these plants remain.  If I lived in New Zealand, I wonder if cuttings from these would be in my garden too?  There is something beautiful about looking out to your garden and remembering the legacy that is out there.  I have a similar feeling when I look out over the plants I have bought inexpensively from plant sales at the Botanic Gardens or at church fairs, or when I have been able to share with others.  There is a place and a people behind those plants and it helps me to feel a little more grounded in this land.  Indeed, the most memory-rich plants are the ones I have received most inexpensively.

So I am going to write one more part on this challenge of having a tight budget.  You can read about the first challenge (one of design) here and here.



Three things: craft love, birds, and Stephen King

I am really enjoying the comments on this post at The Craft Sessions (one of my favourite blogs).

A beautiful wee film to help kids identify river birds.

He’s probably right, but I have only recently discovered The Gilmore Girls and I will wait until I have finished all seasons before I do this (besides which, doing this would mean actually blowing up my computer on which I write):  If you’re just starting out as a writer, you could do worse than strip your television’s electric plug-wire, wrap a spike around it, and then stick it back into the wall. See what blows, and how far. Just an idea.  From Stephen King, ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’.  I am listening to the audio version which he narrates, and it’s great.

The locket

That night I pulled out the locket.  I opened it up and looked at the picture.  We’d studied Greek myths in school that year.  In our book, the goddess of crops and the earth had a sad mouth and flowers around her, just like the girl in the locket.  I scraped off the rust with our dish scrubber and shined up that locket as bright as I could get it.  Then I opened it up, just a crack.  Then I whispered, “Save our lettuce,” to the girl. 

Paul Fleischman, Seedfolks