Friday, May 26, 2006


Here are Ketki’s gansey, standing on its own in traditional fashion; and my sister’s shawl, finished but untidied and unblocked. More on both in days to come.

May in Strathardle -- the good news

May is astounding, even when you’ve seen it 72 times before. All those fresh and separate greens. On the left, blackthorn blooming down the den, artistically photographed through the branches of an abies grandis. Blackthorn is a given, indeed something of a weed, the rest of the year. We planted the tree. On the right, my vegetables, yesterday.

The weather wasn’t terribly helpful, but I got almost all the grass cut, between showers, and will enjoy art in London next week all the more for knowing it has been done.

Lots of the seeds I planted, have come up.

-- and the bad

We had frost, on Monday night. This is a picture of a frosted potato, taken Tuesday morning, but it doesn’t give much idea of the extent of the damage. Frost damage is like a burn – indeed, it is a burn – and goes on for quite a while revealing itself to be worse than you thought at first.

The little nasturtiums which were to have grown up that tepee with the runner beans, finally to provide seeds to use as capers, are completely done for. I hoped on both Tuesday and Wednesday that they might pull through. By yesterday, though, there was clearly no hope. And nasturtiums are listed in my books as a Hardy Annual – poof to that.

I earthed the potatoes up on Tuesday, which may or may not have been the right thing to do. That first earthing is meant to protect the foliage from spring frosts, not to inter the mushy results after the angel of death has passed by. I have some hope, however. The loss of the entire potato crop is too dreadful to contemplate, so I won’t contemplate it.

It’s been wet, and there are lots of slugs about. They may account for the non-appearance of the lettuce I’ve put in, and one or two other absentees. I planted more lettuce, and more nasturtiums, and courgettes under those plastic bottles, and runner beans with the nasturtiums, and some other things. The sooner we put art behind us and get back there, the better.


There’s more to say on that score, too, but for now I will only remark on how glad I was to meet a fellow pedant as revealed by your comment, Joe. The one that really used to bug me was a similar mistake in some ways, the constant misuse of “infamous” on the old Knitlist to mean something like “very famous”.

Non-knit, non-vegetable

There is an ad in a recent New Yorker for a book in the Barnes and Noble "classics" series -- "You always meant to read it", or some such slogan. The book is "Vanity Fair" and on the cover is the chef d'oeuvre of the artist my husband knows all about -- printed in reverse. It's not a simple matter of someone appearing to be left-handed when you know he's right-handed, either. It's a complicated picture with many figures, very carefully composed, and meant, like most art if not all, to be read from left to right.

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