Sunday, July 29, 2012

Safely back.

Little gardening got done, less knitting. We had a good time. The weather was fairly kind, considering what 2012 has been up to so far. St Swithin is trying.

My vegetables appeared worse than ever – the deer had been back. Their pretty legs, sinking into soft soil, make footprints which the most obtuse naturalist could not confuse with slugs or rabbits. They have even eaten the growing tops off the autumn raspberries.

By the end, I felt a bit better. If the weather stays clement and the deer stay away – two major suppositions – the mange-tout peas might manage a late crop. Alexander and his family came over last weekend, to see James and his family. Alexander says my vegetables look better than his (hard to believe) and that he is ready to give up and just grow fruit.

I am going to stick to my plan of perennial vegetables. Jerusalem artichokes (the gift of the Fishwife, now in their third season), Good King Henry (repulsive alike to slugs, rabbits, deer, and people), and sorrel are doing fine. Harriet’s gift of Welsh onions and garlic chives have settled in happily. I planted the Babington leeks she gave me (sources vary as to how many “B’s”) in a large flower pot so that I can keep a close maternal eye on their early stages.

And the summer pudding bush produced an astonishing crop. I had netted it very carefully, pegging the netting down all around. We must have picked close to six pounds of berries. The pudding was delicious, and I have frozen more than enough to make another one for Helen’s family. The white current bushes, on the other hand, which birds have previously ignored, were nearly stripped before I got to them. They’ll have to be netted next year.

Good King Henry made another appearance as “saag” in a curry, and again acquitted itself well. The potatoes look fine. The vegetable cage has resisted attack.

But I am increasingly anxious about the prospect of being there alone with my husband. He is nearly 87; no joke. We had a low-blood-sugar episode which was almost trivial because James was there. Next month we’ll have Helen. But after that…


I gave Alexander his Bedroom at Arles socks. Ketki was wearing her Restaurant de la Sirene ones. I knit a few long rows of the Japenese shirt.

Here, I am binding off the first of our niece’s socks. I find I can (I think) do the Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off without looking it up again. So today I’ll have to do another Magic Cast-On.

Pictures of many of the excitements just mentioned will be on view soon.


  1. JennyS9:30 AM

    Very glad you're safely back.

  2. I checked in at our blog almost every day just in case you came back early. Glad to see you back up in the world of veggies and blog land.

  3. Welcome back, Jean. I do miss reading you when you are gone. The gardening news is as interesting, I got no ble berries this year and must think of netting or chicken wire next.

  4. Anonymous2:21 PM

    So glad you are back. It sounds like a wonderful time was had, despite the veggie disasters.

    I feel very bad that you are so worried about life with your husband there. Would hiring a home health aide to stay with you in Strathardle make you feel more comfortable? You seem to love it there so much that it seems a shame to ruin it with worry about your husband.

    Beverly in NJ

  5. Welcome home! (Although I am never sure which you consider to be your home - Edinburgh or Strathardle!) I am so happy you had a nice visit with your family. I'm sorry to hear your garden has suffered so much this year. If it is any consolation every gardener friend of mine here in BC, along with myself, have had horrible gardens this year. A few successes and a lot of epic failures.

    My mom is diabetic and she has the occasional bout of low blood sugar. I am concerned for her now that she lives on her own. I think there is some sort of device that can be worn that continually monitors the blood sugar so the person is alerted before they get horribly low. I will ask my mom about it next time I talk to her. It might be a solution for both your husband and my mom. If those horrible, scary lows could somehow be avoided it would be worth the cost of the device.

  6. =Tamar5:54 PM

    Ruth Stout had a complete, six-sided cage built to protect maize from marauding deer and burrowing animals. Nothing else worked.
    It even had a key-operated lock, to foil raccoons.

  7. Anonymous7:16 PM

    Welcome back! While you were away, my old computer died, and I think my new one may actually allow me to comment, for the first time, instead of emailing you.

    About your husband's low blood sugar -- I live with severe hypoglycemia (I produce enough insulin for several people), and can go into shock with very little warning, so I keep little 6-ounce cans of 100% pineapple juice handy for emergencies. It gives me enough natural sugar that I won't go into shock, but not so much that I will crash again, and also gives a few minutes' time in which I can eat something (usually protein) that will help stabilize my blood sugar. I don't know if this little trick would work as well for your husband, but it has saved me on many occasions.

    Again, welcome back. You have been sorely missed. Reading your blog -- and your readers' comments -- is always a highlight of my day.

    Sharon N

  8. AnnP in NY8:57 PM

    I hadn't realized you planned to be away for so many days and was getting a bit anxious when no posts appeared. Welcome back, you were missed.
    My garden is not bothered by any wildlife but the unusual heat, humidity and heavy downpours have been a challenge this year. Always something...

  9. I'm very glad you're back, too, Jean. I read your blog in the morning with my first cup of tea, and I missed it.

    I have a close friend who's a type I diabetic who just started using an insulin pump with a built-in monitor this past year. She says it has stabilized her blood sugar amazingly, and I notice that she can check it easily to adjust as necessary. I wonder if that would work for your husband?

    I would hate to see you give up Strathardle. I live in the city now but grew up in (and intend to return to) rural Vermont, and I love to read about your sojourns there.

  10. I'm so glad you two are safely back in Edinburgh. I was growing concerned for you when we didn't hear from you.