Monday, March 31, 2008

Veg plot - day 10, where I actually get to plant stuff!!

Another beautiful day - and I did get up earlier than I thought I might. Still not actually early, but never mind.

I thought I'd show you what the different seeds I planted look like, because there isn't much else to see really. So here are the seeds...


Potatoes (I know they aren't seeds).





Spring onion.


I also sowed a mix of wild edible plants, which I couldn't help including in one of my seed orders. And some companion plants - flax, marigolds and marjoram.

Sayre asked if I'm going to sow direct, or sow indoors then transplant. The answer is, both. Some seeds won't germinate at low temperatures, so can't be sown outside, like tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, squash/pumpkins, aubergines (eggplants) and tomatillos. Sweetcorn will germinate outside once it's warmer, but will grow better if I germinate it indoors. I've also sown leeks, peas, beans and cauliflowers indoors (but without heat), mostly because I wanted to start them but didn't have the beds ready, but also to stop slugs, mice and/or birds getting at the seedlings. Everything else goes straight in the soil.

Tomorrow I'll post pictures of the "indoor" plants - currently squash, pumpkins, melons, beans, peas, tomatillo, huckleberries, aubergines, peppers and chillies. The leeks and cauliflowers might be visible by then too.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Veg plot - day 9, where things really start moving

We couldn't have asked for better weather today - it's been really warm, gorgeous blue sky, and birds singing away like mad. My face has actually tanned a little which is annoying because now I'm pink, but much better than being soaked to the skin like yesterday.

Michael shovelling the last few bits of topsoil. Well, at least the soil for this bed anyway. There's still a ton and a half on the drive. But...

Bed #1 is finished!!

Well, except that we need another bag of compost.

Frame is done, all the topsoil's in there, and a layer of compost on top. And we've used string to mark it out into square feet, leaving narrow strips between the three sections of the bed where I'll grow herbs and companion plants to attract beneficial insects and deter the nasty ones, and generally help the plants grow better.

The bricks are there to hold the compost in, and will be moved as soon as the beds get filled completely. I'm not adding compost to the potato section (the end furthest away) now, I'll use that compost to earth up the plants as they grow. And I know that the bed isn't square, but I don't much care, especially as the ground isn't level anyway. It looks, er, rustic!

I'm now desperate to get some seeds sown in it... perhaps not desperate enough to get up early, but I'm looking forward to getting out there.

Oh I forgot to mention that yesterday we had a couple of helpers. A pair of magpies were wandering around the bed while we were inside drilling, I thought at first they were looking for insects but once I got the binoculars on them I realised that they were collecting weed roots from the soil! Must have been nest-building. Now mags get a bad press, because of silly superstitions and ideas about them being unlucky (obviously not) and stealing shiny things (maybe) and being responsible for the decline in songbird numbers (definitely not, blame pesticides and habitat loss and monoculture), but I've never heard of them gardening! Have to say I do like them, very attractive birds even if they do have a horrible voice.

Anyway, I think that having a project agrees with me, because I've felt pretty good the last week or so, despite not sleeping well. Tonight I'm really tired because we've worked hard today - arms and legs and back and shoulders are all a bit achy, but strangely not in a bad way. Just in an exercised kind of way. I can live with that.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Veg plot - day 8, which was considerably more productive

Well we had fun today. In the rain.

I decided we really needed to get cracking with the sides of the bed, so we called the local timber merchants to get a price on some, er, timber. The price sounded fine.

So I sent Michael off with a list of what we needed, i.e. 6 bits of wood 200cm x 30cm x 25mm to make up the long sides, and 2 bits 120cm x 30cm x 25mm for the short sides.

Apparently that's just too complicated for the timber people. Michael phoned me while I was busy putting soil onto the bed to tell me that the wood comes in 4.8m lengths, 15cm wide. So of course, I then had to work out in my head how to make up the frames from that.

Now normally my spacial awareness is not great, which is why I have to make little drawings of everything when I plan. But since I was outside in the rain with half the garden stuck to my boots (I took shelter in the greenhouse) I was forced to visualise, and use (gasp!) mental arithmetic.

The answer of course, is to buy 6 pieces, and get 2 of them cut into 4 x 1.2m lengths each. But then the four 4.8m bits had to be cut in half to fit in the car.

So finally he got the bits home and I marked out holes for drilling pilot holes for the screws. Michael drilled, and I screwed. No jokes please.

We got a few bits fastened together before the light dropped and the cordless screwdriver battery died and we had to stop. But we got a lot done today.
By the looks of things we should get bed #1 done tomorrow, soil in and everything, then I can plant asparagus and potatoes and roots! Fennel and carrots and parsnips and beetroot and salsify, along with spring onions to deter carrot flies, and sweetcorn. Yay!!

Summer's worked hard too. It's hard work sniffing everything and walking in my topsoil and chewing stray sticks.

Veg plot - day 7, where nothing at all happens

Weather's been too unpredictable today to do anything outside. I didn't fancy tearing up the lawn with the wheelbarrow, since the ground's really soft with the rain. Bah.

On the plus side, the siskin came back.

Having trouble getting the onion sets I want, I may have to order like 300 of them when I actually want 100. Maybe I could sell the surplus, or keep them for next year, or something.

Hopefully we'll get lots done tomorrow.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Veg plot - day 6, and a pleasant visitor

More seeds arrived today. Beans, peas, winter squash, cabbage, cauliflower, rapini, peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, leeks, corn. Yay! All open-pollinated types so I can save the seed, with instructions on how to save said seeds.

So I was in the utility room this afternoon sowing peas in a module tray and vaguely watching the bird feeders through the window and thinking about moving more topsoil, when I spotted this pretty little chap.

It's a male siskin, small finch, likes coniferous woods. Apparently also likes sunflower seeds, judging by the amount of them it got through.

I've never seen one in my garden before. In fact I've only seen them in Scotland, at RSPB Loch Garten - although they aren't uncommon, they just don't visit gardens much. I remember chatting to the girl on reception and saying I hadn't seen siskins before and she replied, "Oh I like siskins, they're like little highlighter pens." I can see what she meant, although to me they look more like a little brownish-grey streaky bird that someone's used a highlighter on. They are almost fluorescent in the sun. The females are duller.

I hope he sticks around, because then Michael might be able to get something better than my crappy record shots. Especially as the sisk isn't timid. It sat in the apple tree for ages as I trundled backward and forwards with wheelbarrows full of soil, singing a pretty little scratchy wheezy twittery song. I liked him.

And yeah, I shifted more soil. Half a ton, because the muscles still feel rather used, I'll do at least another half ton tomorrow. It's cheaper than going to the gym anyway!

And I'm getting more and more excited about growing stuff. I've drawn out plans of my beds and I know exactly what I'm planting where, because I need to organise myself. Needless to say, it's all colour coded.

And now I need to order onion sets.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Veg plot - day 5

I didn't get to sleep until gone 5am this morning, so didn't get up til a delivery bloke woke me at 1pm.

He delivered... seed potatoes! And garlic! And two wildflower mixes, one for birds/butterflies, the other a woodland mix.

I was a bit worried yesterday that I might have overdone it with the soil - it's so hard to tell with the fibromyalgia because you can feel fine, when in actual fact you've done too much and it'll bite you on the ass a couple of days later. Today I feel okay, some tired and tight muscles in my arms, shoulders and back which are a bit achy, and I decided to have a rest day.

So all I've done is easy stuff. I set out the seed potatoes in trays to "chit" (or "sprut" as my dad would say) - for the uninitiated that means leaving them in the light so they grow little shoots about 4cm long, that way they grow better once you plant them.

There's 1kg each of five different varieties which mature at different times. In order of harvesting - Charlotte, Orla, Ambo, Desiree and Arran Victory. There's probably more there than I want to plant, to be honest, so I might give some away.

Maybe later I'll start off some lettuce in fibre pots.

Veg beds - day 4

Michael went back to work today, and 3 tons of topsoil was delivered, at a total cost of £37.50-ish.
Now the topsoil's rubbish, very sandy with some pebbles, but it was very cheap and will improve the clay no end. And it saves us buying gravel.

Unfortunately though, moving three tons of soil from the front of the house to the bed area round the back is no mean feat.

I'd asked my friend Emma if she fancied helping me - we exercise together (well we're supposed to, but we've let it slide a lot recently with one thing or another) and she's going to help with the gardening. But she texted me in the morning to say her car wouldn't start, and her dad was going to see if he could fix it, so I was on my own. The logical next step? Go back to sleep of course!

Anyway, later I set to with the shovel and wheelbarrow, moving the soil something like 30m (maybe 100ft). It took 19 trips with the wheelbarrow, and maybe 3.5 hours including breaks, but I managed to move whole ton of soil! That's 1016kg (2240lb).

Doesn't look like much there, does it? Well you try telling that to my back... which certainly knows I've been working. And in fact aches a fair bit now.

I'm aiming for half a ton tomorrow. Then I'll start building the sides of the bed.

No rest for the wicked...

And I'm intrigued by the idea of square foot gardening. Looks very cool, and shockingly similar to the idea I had of planing in blacks rather than rows to make better use of space.

Veg beds - day 3

We were a little tired after the previous days' exertions, especially me. I was worried about overdoing things and suffering the inevitable fibro backlash, so I took things a little steadier.

But once we got into the rhythm of digging it got easier (I dug out slices of soil with the fork, and Michael broke them up with one of those twisty fork things), and we finished the whole of the first bed.

Summer however, didn't help very much.

Summer just about to bark, after insisting that we get her in the picture.

Veg beds - day 2

And onwards. With slightly better weather and less achy muscles than anticipated, we press on with the digging.
And we finish removing the grass from the whole bed. Which is another afternoon's work, believe it or not.

You can see one of the problems with the clay soil - it doesn't drain. The melted snow from the day before has pooled a little in the bottom of the bed.

Because of this drainage issue, I planned to add gravel to the bottom of the bed before we put the soil back in, then add compost over the top of the soil to make it more fertile.

Veg beds - day 1

First, I planned where the new beds will be - near the greenhouse, on the main lawn.

Then I spent a while scribbling, working out how big an area to cover, how many sections I'd need for a sensible crop rotation system, how high to raise the beds, what to use to build the sides, and so on.

I decided on two long beds, 6m (about 20ft) long and 1.2m (4ft) wide. Each one will be split into 3 sections (one each for the 5 parts of my rotation and a permanent bed for asparagus). My rotation is basically brassicas/legumes/alliums/potatoes/roots. Other crops will fit in wherever they can.

We invested in a new spade and fork, because the cheapo ones we have are really heavy and make digging twice as hard as it needs to be.

And onto the actual physical work.

Typically, the Easter weekend has been somewhat inconsistent weather-wise. We've had everything - cold wind, warm(ish) sunshine, hail, actual rain, and snow. We decided to push on with the prep work anyway, because the beds really need to be done soon so I can start planting.

I marked out the sides of the bed with string and bits of stick. Unfortunately it's hard to see as I used green string, but I actually used trigonometry to create the right angle (using lengths of string in the ratio 3:4:5, because a triangle with sides of those lengths is always right-angled). When I learned it at school I never thought I'd actually use it for anything other than passing exams.

We start removing the grass, which is hard work, and dig 15-20cm (6-8") down, breaking up the soil. The digging's just as hard for several reasons - the soil's heavy clay, it's full of dandelion roots that need to be removed, and if I can see a worm in the soil I have to remove it rather than risk injuring it (if I accidentally kill one because I didn't see it that's okay though) and there are a lot of worms.

I refused to let Michael take a picture of me in my work clothes, but he isn't as vain as me.

Now worms are good, but clay.... isn't.

Being unfit and cold and losing the light a little, we decide to call it a day after measuring and digging over that small area.

Good job really, because this happened as soon as we got inside.

Some garden pics

Right, well I'm trying to post some pics, despite the fact that my computer is being an twat.

This is my garden. It comprises three main areas - the bit directly behind the house, the orchard to the side of the house, and the bigger lawn area which kind of joins up the two other areas. Very hard to describe what I mean, but the pics might help.

Satellite pic which I blatently stole from Google Maps, on which I've marked our boundaries in light green. It's pretty big, and weirdly shaped.

Views from the back of the house. There's a small decked area and a square lawn, with a patio, barbeque and another decked area beyond that which has become rather overgrown. You'll notice that the whole garden is a bit of a mess, needing some serious tidying and weeding.

The overgrown area, and the walled patio. I think the patio's silly, and I want to convert the thing into a raised pond. The barbeque can move somewhere else.

The main lawn. The green cage is Basil's pen.

Taken from the far end of the big lawn.

The awful spar-dashed structure is the garage, which true to English tradition houses everything but the car. The awful black thing is Summer. This will eventually be my wildflower area, with plants that will attract bees and butterflies and birds.

The orchard, with its three apple trees, two pear trees, one plum and one greenage. I'm always amused by the leaning trees, which are probably 50 years old and obviously never staked. Guess which way the prevailing wind is around here? ;) I'll be sowing woodland-type plants here, to brighten the place up a bit.

Oh yeah, and the rhubarb's coming up. It'll be small and pathetic, like the last four years, but it's growing.

So that's the garden. We've got a bit of a challenge this year to get it looking good, I think.

First stage is my raised veg beds - more on that later!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

This is what happens...

...when you take one batch of choc chip marzipan cookie dough, one set of alphabet cookie cutters, and two very immature adults.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Stuff I've done meme

Another meme from Sayre! The ones I've done are in bold.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36.Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Gotten flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Passed out cold
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

So I score 59. Which of these have you done?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I'd forgotten, I'm having a mould problem in the propagator.

I sowed seeds in there Monday, and already today there was some unpleasant pale grey filamenty stuff on the surface of the compost. I guess the warm damp environment is exactly right for fungus. Bastards.

It will kill off the seedlings pretty quick if I don't sort it out. But I don't want to use nasty chemicals, as that's kind of against my organic ideals.

So the thought stuck me, that when Rosey and Basil (hedgehogs) had ringworm, which is a fungal infection, I used neem oil which worked impressively well. So can I use it on plants?

The internet says yes. Especially the many sites I found about growing marijuana.

So that's what I've used, just watered the compost with a dilute solution. I figure it can't hurt anyway, and might save me from having to resort to sulphur compounds.

I do NOT need my seedlings dying on me before I've even got the garden started!

Enough negative stuff, let's talk gardens!

I haven't got garden pics yet, sorry. It's on my list for tomorrow, which means there's half a chance it'll get done.

The heated prop's currently full to bursting with seeds, and I have some little plants already. So here's what's happening in Embryo Veg Patch Central (otherwise known as my utility room) at the moment.

Black pumpkins (they look funky), little plants about 3 inches high, just getting their first true leaves.
Yellow patty pan squash, little plants about the same as the pumpkins.
Sweet peppers, two varieties. We probably get through 10 peppers a week, so I figured it was worth growing a few plants.
Chilli peppers, cayenne and jalepeno. I haven't grown them before. I intend to dry some of them for winter use.
Various mixed lettuces, in the greenhouse, which will be harvested for baby leaves or used as "cut-and-come-again" types.
Purple sprouting broccoli, since we love broccoli too.
Watercress, which sounds like fun.
Nasturtiums, as companion plants for cabbages/lettuces - the idea is that the butterflies prefer them so my veg are safe from caterpillars.
Sunflowers, for the birds, and also to attract beneficial insects as companions to the squash.
Marigolds, companions for tomatoes/chillis/peppers as they repel nasty bugs.
Other flowers, such as violas, candytuft, swan river daisies, black-eyed susan, virginia stock, pansies, sweet peas. Will be joined by others as soon as I have room.

And the seeds I sowed the other day:
More summer squash - green and gold courgettes/zucchini, green patty pans, little round ones, and very pale ones. Because they're pretty and tasty and I bought a pack of six different varieties pretty cheap.
Melons - watermelon and honeydew. Because they taste a million times better than supermarket ones.
Tomatillos, an experiment, because they sound cool.
Huckleberries, as above.
Basil, companion for tomatoes both in the greenhouse and the kitchen!

And on order, or yet to be sown:
Tomatoes, cordon and bush types. Some will go in the greenhouse, some outside in pots.
Sugarsnap peas, which I've never grown either.
Sweetcorn, a type which copes well with our awful summers.
Strawberries - I've only just started liking them again after being put off by eating too many as a kid. These will go in hanging baskets.
Garlic, essential in my kitchen.
Onions, all three colours. My dad used to grow them on his allotment, and prided himself on growing HUGE ones. I never saw the point, as they didn't taste of much. But he enjoyed it.
Carrots and parsnips, if I can get the soil sorted out enough for a decent crop. If not I'll probably just grow baby ones.
Salsify, which I've never even tasted but keep hearing about on food programmes.
Cabbages - what's a veg garden without cabbages?
Cauliflowers, some pretty spirally green romanesco ones.
Rhubarb, as the stuff already in the garden's exhausted. I'll add loads of manure this year and dig it up and separate it next spring if it isn't any better, and use the new stuff if not.
Various types of beans, including kidney, dwarf french, Cherokee.
Asparagus, which I've been meaning to grow for ages. It will be a few years before I can harvest though.
Asparagus peas, another thing which looked cool.
Potatoes, five different types, cropping at different times. Should help with the nasty clay soil.
Artichokes, never tried them but they look so funky, and therefore must taste good!
Leeks, as they're tasty. My surname would suggest that I have some Welsh ancestry somewhere.
More melons, very early ripening small ones, in case we have a really dodgy sumer and the normal ones don't ripen.
Two other peppers, also early ripening.
Herbs, too many to list.
Fruits, which I won't list either.
Wildflowers, for my wildlife area.

And of course more flowers. And I'd like at least one type of winter squash, either acorn or butternut probably.

Looks like I'd better get on with the digging...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Difficult not to feel a little bit disappointed, and passed over

Sometimes I see a side of people that I don't like.

Bitching. Taking the piss out of someone who isn't there to defend themselves. Not supporting friends who need their help. Neglecting other friends who simply aren't as obvious. Thinking they know best when actually they know nothing.

I'm aware that often when these things happen, I'm not aware of the full story - maybe their actions are justified. Maybe not.

It still disappoints me.

I used to pride myself on being a good judge of character. Either people change for the worse, or I'm not as good a judge as I thought I was.

And before anyone assumes, I'm not having a dig at anyone - I'm not that petty. But if you think I am, that means you're probably guilty anyway, even though I'm not talking about you. Have a think about it.

Probably I should sleep, because I'm not convinced that this makes much sense. Who's still with me?

Oh, and the post title's from an APC song. Here you are.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Feeling better now

I usually see feeling/being depressed as my brain's way to telling me I need to to make some changes.

So Thursday night I made the decision to get my life sorted out.

True to form, I haven't worked out how I'm going to do it yet, or what I need to do, but just making that decision has made me feel better.

Probably a good way to start is to be healthier. More fruit and veg (I already eat loads but more can't hurt, right?) and less cake/biscuits/sweets, more exercise, more "quick reward" type tasks that don't require too much mental energy to get my brain back into work mode.

And in that vein, the garden is my big project this year. I want a pond, a wildflower meadow/wildlife area, and an organic veg plot/herb garden. I've bought a healted propagator, in which seeds are germinating, and I've ordered a shedload more seeds. I've concentrated on non-hybrid varieties so I can collect the seeds to sow for next year, because I hate the idea of paying a vast amout to seed companies every single year.

There's a fair bit of room for me to play with - for an English suburban garden mine is pretty big (something like 1/4 of an acre), with an orchard (three full-sized apples and two full-sized pears, one young plum and one young greengage). Unfortunately we do have heavy clay soil which isn't ideal, but just means I need to only grow certain veggies, or buy loads of manure.

I'd love to keep ducks and/or ex-battery chickens for eggs, but Michael isn't keen. I'll have to persuade him, they don't seem to need much looking after - I'd fence off the whole orchard for them and build them a house (and a paddling-pool pond for ducks), and they'd just need feeding and shutting in at night and cleaning every so often. Easy.

Anyway, apart from the fact that I actually like gardening, I like the idea of knowing exactly where my food has come from, what chemicals have been used on it, whatever. I'd rather get my hands dirty and produce my own food than pay silly prices for tasteless, uniform veg that's been flown halfway across the world, which the poor farmer has been paid a pittance for so that supermarkets can make vast profits.

I'll take some pictures so you can see what the garden is like now.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Not having fun

So I felt like shit all yesterday.

Tired, mopey, couldn't persuade myself to do anything, couldn't think of anything I actually wanted to do. Couldn't concentrate. Got pissed off at little things.

I didn't even feel like cooking or eating, which means I must have been bad.

And after a less-than-satisfactory conversation with Michael in the phone last night (he's coming back tonight), I ended up in tears because I felt so fucking miserable.

Haven't been there for a while.

And although I don't feel quite as bad today, I'm definitely not well, and the old fibro pain's kicked in. I guess it's the weekend catching up with me - bastard fibromyalgia can do that. That's why I'm depressed and "out of it".

So I texted Harriet to ask if I can audition another time. Sounds pathetic, but I can't cope with it today. In this mood I won't sing as well as I can, and if I do that I'll cry. I'm not auditioning if I can't be me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Not sleeping again

Mostly because I slept in disgracefully late, but possibly also because I'm nervous about tomorrow.

Because I'm auditioning for a solo part.


It's kind of a generic audition for one of the many solo parts in Dido and Aeneas, or the Vivaldi Gloria that we're doing with Socii. I'll have to sing the Sorceress's "Wayward Sisters" bit, and one of the alto solos from Gloria.

I can't say I'm entirely comfortable with the whole thing - I haven't done an audition since I was 16, and this will be only my second singing audition. Nervous would be the word.

Realistically, I won't get the Sorceress - even if I was better than I actually am, there's another alto who has the perfect voice for it, in my not-at-all-knowing-anything-about-it-opinion. In fact I can't see myself with any of the Dido parts - I could do some of them, but not as well as some of the other auditionees. Neither am I very hopeful about the Gloria solos -I'm only slightly encouraged by the fact that there are two alto solos in it, and only three altos auditioning, which makes the odds a little better.

Not that I mind if I don't get anything. It's just as usual, I'm so scared of looking stupid. Even worse, of looking stupid but also looking like I don't realise how bad I am. You know like those people we all laugh at on Pop Idol or whatever, the one who are convinced they are the next Whitney or whoever, but are so awful that even the kind judges just say "No!" without hesitation? The ones who cry or shout or tell the judges they don't know what they're talking about. The ones we all pity.

It's a bad character flaw, but I'd rather not try at all than look like I think I'm good enough to do something when I'm not. Better to not try than to fail - but it really isn't the failing that I fear so much.

It's aiming for the lead if it's painfully obvious to everyone but me that I'm forever destined to just be a member of the chorus.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Please describe me

Something reminded me of this, so I'd like you all to go here and tell me what you think!!

Because it's interesting to find out how people see you.

I need your input, oh culinary people

I'm tired now. And lonely, because Michael's away for two nights with work. Generally feeling a bit sorry for myself.

Due to kitchen panicking, I ended up with some food left over from the formal. Like 4kg of onions, which should have gone in the fennel/orange salad and saffron rice. I made the executive decision that they'd be fine without onions (and they were). Similar decisions were made with other dishes.

So now I have...

2 big bunches of flat-leafed parsley, 1 small bunch of chives, a little coriander/cilantro
900g of mild cheese
3kg onions
20 oranges
15+ limes
5 bulbs of garlic
4 fennel bulbs
1 litre + of olive oil
Other stuff in more manageable amounts, such as chillies, various spices, butter, soured cream, sugar, eggs, concentrated vegetable stock.

.. which of course I'd rather not waste.

I've already made orange cake for Ladies' Choir (which dealt with some oranges, eggs, sugar and butter), and tonight a big pot of onion soup (which used, well, onions) which I'll eat some of and freeze the rest.

Any ideas what else I could make?? Assume I have common ingredients, including pretty much every type of herbs and spices it's possible to buy in Sainsbury's, and usual store cupboard stuff. Preferably something I can freeze.

Oh yeah, I'll be adding some of the formal recipes soon as well. Starting with the salmon in Canary Island green sauce, which Kim requested.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Just two things, because I'm off to make cake

A selection of us at the formal - I think this was all the Small Groups girlies that were there... I stole the picture from Harriet. I'm at the back in red, with straight hair and glasses.

1) Formal was AWESOME last night. Had people telling me I was wonderful all night, that the food was better (and cheaper, lol) than a proper tapas place, and a couple of people even told me that I should open a restaurant myself! Made all the hard work worth it - and it was hard work. At least I remained mostly calm. But couldn't have done it without all the lovely people who helped.

I might post in a bit more detail about it later.

2) I'm not needing a second pregnancy test. Yes, I have finally been visited by the period fairy. After making me worry all week (especially after I spoke to my friend Emma on Friday who told me that my last period was 5 weeks ago - she remembers because it was the week before hers), my little "friend" decides to show up the weekend of the formal. Thanks for that.

And yet again, on that note, I'm touting the Mooncup. I love my 'cup. I love not having to worry about whether I have enough tampons or towels, and the tell-tale carrying my bag to the loo with me. No more dilemma time with tampons - you know that thing where you're not sure if you need to change it yet, you don't want to wait too long in case you leak but if you take it out too soon it's rather uncomfortable? And definitely no more sleeping with a small mattress between my legs which invariably ends up out of place by morning - I generally sleep more than 8 hours so tampons at night are not an option. And I've saved money already, even with my actually-I-can't-be-bothered-this-month cycle.

Sorry, but the cup is so awesome that I feel compelled to tell everyone how great it is! There are a couple of negatives - you have to wash it out which isn't terribly convenient in a public loo but you can just wipe it out and wash it the next time, you do have to look at your own blood, and there's a certain amount of "bodily contact" required to insert and remove it but nowhere near as much as with a non-applicator tampon. But I can't say I mind any of that.

So yeah. Now I'm off to make some sort of orange cake because I have maybe 20 oranges left from the formal.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

What if...?

Okay, so after the negative test, it's pretty damn likely that I'm not "otherwise occupied" as my friend Kaz so eloquently put it.

Of course I'd thought about the options if the result was positive - but hadn't come to any sort of conclusion. Michael and I had decided not to discuss it until we knew what was going on, and now there doesn't seem to be any point in discussing it. I firmly believe that you can't know how you'll feel until event actually happens, especially as you may well be in a different situation by the time it happens.

But here are my thoughts from yesterday, when I didn't know. Otherwise entitled, "What the hell do I do if I am actually pregnant?"

In general
I'm not maternal particularly. I'm not the sort that gets broody if they see a baby - I've never had a real desire to have babies of my own. They just don't interest me.

However I do like kids. Kids are fun once they can talk and are potty trained and you can sort of reason with them and teach them and do fun stuff. Hours of peek-a-boo and smelly nappies is not my idea of a fun afternoon, but a trip to the park, or even just watching kids TV sounds pretty cool.

I also have worries about my ability to cope with a child, when I'm not even very good at looking after myself.

Plus, Michael doesn't want kids. Doesn't want the change his lifestyle and be responsible for something, and I'm with him on that.

But I would love to experience a pregnancy. And yeah, even giving birth. And in a sort of related and entirely selfish way, I'd love the attention that pregnant women and new mothers get.

So here are the options, should I get pregnant in the future. Or if I am actually pregnant now, in defiance of the test.

Keep the baby
Not sure I want children. Michael definitely doesn't, but I do think he'd feel differently if his child was a reality. Still, it's a massive life change. Don't know how it would affect uni. Although we're relatively financially stable, we'd have to make sacrifices with money, as kids are expensive. Plus the health issues, with my fibromyalgia and high blood pressure and diabetes/insulin resistance/whatever the hell I've got.

Now I'm a bit weird about killing things. In general I'm for abortion, because in some situations having the baby would ruin both the baby and the mother's life. 5 years ago I believe I would have had an abortion and not felt too guilty about it, but now I'm pretty sure I couldn't go through with it. Kill a person that could have a perfectly happy life just because their arrival would be inconvenient? How would I live with myself? I feel guilty if I step on a snail in the garden, for God's sake (not guilty enough to stop eating meat, but that's another issue).

Sounds idea. All the experience of pregnancy and birth, but none of the expense, and no responsibility afterwards. But I'm not convinced that I could give up a baby after carrying it for nine months. How can you help thinking of it as "your baby", especially if you're in a situation where you could perfectly well raise it yourself? And also, hearing the experiences of adoptees like Attila and my ex-boyfriend (who was devastated when he found at the age of 16, and I don't think ever really got over it) - I wouldn't want to do that to a child.

And my family wouldn't understand and would never forgive me. I'd be taking the baby away from them too. With termination, I wouldn't even have to tell them, but how can you hide a pregnancy? (My aunt Liz did, but that's also another issue.)

So yeah. I don't see that any of them are good options. Fingers crossed that I don't have to make that decision anytime soon.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Just had a test done...



So plan now is to see if this breast thing goes away, and if not I'll make an appointment to see the doc.

How do I feel about the result? Don't feel very much really, which is kind of weird. Just tired, and slightly relieved that there's only maybe a 5% chance I need to make a massive life-changing decision.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Girl stuff, bit worrying

So last night when I went to bed I noticed some discomfort when I turned over onto my right side (I usually settle down on my side, almost on my tummy, leaning on my opposite arm). My right breast hurt.

Now as I'm bigger than average (DD cup), sometimes if I lay on them wrong my breasts can hurt, but I'd only just turned over.

An bit of an experimental prod revealed that both breasts are swollen (especially the right one, which is bigger anyway). They feel firmer, bigger, and quite tender. They ache, like I've been hit with something. They hurt more if I touch them.

Also my stomach is bloated and a little crampy. Like a cross between mild period pain and wind really.

I've never had tender breasts before. I'm not sure when my period is due, because I'm not in the slightest bit regular, but it's been at least a month. And I don't usually get stomach cramps until I actually start bleeding.

So this has lead me to the obvious worry.

Could me and my dodgy hormones be pregnant?

We had sex 12 or 13 days ago. With a condom. And nothing for months before that, because I'm always tired and not feeling in the least bit sexy, so if I am pregnant it's from then.

Is 12 days too early to start showing symptoms? Do I need to get a test?

And more importantly, what if I am?? How the hell does that fit in to my "don't really want kids right now, if ever" lifeplan?