Thursday, April 24, 2008


Another donation, from Texas – wonderfully cheering on a grey day. I’ve matched it. However this thing ends, we’ll all remember that we were here for the Presidential campaign of Ought Eight.

I saw a little clip of Mrs Clinton offering to nuke Iran on the BBC early evening news on Tuesday (normally devoted to paedophiles and Gordon Brown’s problems). I have acquired a grudging admiration for her energy and stamina as this thing has gone on, but on Tuesday I thought she looked terrible, like Elizabeth Tudor towards the end, a mask of make-up with the face crumbling behind.


A much more cheerful topic. Thank you for the question, Mary Lou. (That link is worth following, for an account of a Franklin photo-session.) This year I’m growing Pink Fir Apple, Picasso, Red Duke of York, and Rocket. I buy them from Alan Romans – the link will do you no good at all, but it might amuse you to see the richness of choice. But I really wonder if it matters: you may have fewer to choose from, but they’ll be the right ones for the area.

Alexander wrote yesterday to ask which way up to plant his potatoes. It is rare that I am asked a question I can answer with such confidence.

I have tenderly packed mine and we hope to be off to Strathardle this morning. The Red Dukes of York have much bigger sprouts than the other varieties. Pink Fir Apple is a salad potato much fancied by the sort of people who fancy arugula (poor Mr Obama). I grew it when we lived in Leicester 40 years ago (yikes!) and the harvest was full of worm holes. I thought it was time to try again.


Pleasant and productive as sock-knitting is, it doesn’t provide much in the way of conversation. I finished the dreaded ribbing of Rachel’s second sock yesterday. Kate, I loved your analogy of the yarn looking like jasmine tea. Once I am well embarked on the next pair, for Thomas-the-Elder, I’ll ask Cathy in Beijing whether she’d prefer soothing (from my collection of back Yarn Yard sock club editions) or electrifying (KF stripes).


This is perhaps too gloomy: there was one of those uplifting articles in the Sunday papers last week about overcoming anxiety. I read it, or part of it, just after a bad night, and I thought, but what if what you’re anxious about is really happening? What if you’re Annie and Gerry Modesitt and Gerry has multiple myloma? What if you’re Jean and What’s-His-Name Miles and you’re getting old and wonder how much longer you can go on looking after yourselves, let alone two houses? What if you’re going to be hanged next week?

The answer in all three cases, I suspect, is that today is happening and I can probably manage today.

Back next Wednesday.


  1. Yea and verily, thou didst provoke a laughter in my heart.

    Oh, I'm tired. I love your husband's name. Thanks for a smile, Jean.

  2. Carpe diem. That's our approach.

  3. As one who faces my own bouts of anxiety, I do think about these things, too. I had a dinner recently with some friends (women) and we talked about that middle of the night sleep-stealing anxiety, one woman called the hour of the wolf. Another had spent many years in a spiritual community, and said they rose at 3 am to meditate because it is the time when your mind is most out of control. Not suggesting that, but interesting that across cultures that middle of the night anxiety (problems real or not) is universal.

    And thanks for the potato link. I wonder if it is too late for me to find a mail order wonderland like that here...

  4. Liked the "hour of the wolf." A friend passed on a comment from the Dali Lama when he was in Rochester MN recently, "“If there’s no solution why worry, if there is a solution, why worry?” He doesn’t worry and sleeps well!"

    Liked your focus on today!

    Gerrie in MN

  5. Anonymous10:02 PM

    Things you can and can't change "...and the wisdom to know the difference." If being all tense will help (as in keeping alert while driving), go for it. But if being tense won't help, and may actually make matters worse by increasing stress, then get a tiny dose of fatalism and let it be, while planning how to cope with several options. Options because things rarely work out exactly as expected.

    There used to be a catalog that sold everything odd in gardening, including two kinds of blue potatoes.

  6. The hour of the wolf - how appropriate.

    And your insight into Hillary - VERY interesting. Makes me think of the Betty Davis movie when she played Elizabeth Tudor.

    I'm not in your position - yet. But I will be - and have seen grandparents and now parents entering that phase of worry, of how-long-can-we-keep-it-up. I guess the answer is as long as you're willing and the pleasure continues to outweigh the burden. Tasks may take longer - but that can be solved by staying for a few days longer than usual and doing a bit less than usual on each day.

  7. The hour of the wolf - how apt. Reminds me of the Spartan boy whose stomach was eaten by a wolf puppy. 3am anxieties are the pit-of-the-stomach gnawers.

    I'm with Tamar and Mary Lou only I'll add: 'suck it and see', advice I was very usefully given. If you do want to make a change in your lifestyle, eg. getting a housecleaner, try it for a while and see what happens. From all that you and your husband do, I'd suggest that your independence is still very intact but it doesn't mean that you have to do *everything* yourselves. My mother used to be a housecleaner for elderly people until her arthritis made it too difficult. Now she enjoys having someone else to clean once a fortnight. Likewise, give yourselves a little holiday from TCOTU, perhaps by leasing it to folks for the autumn, and see if it makes a difference in your energy levels. Nothing that you do has to be set in concrete...

  8. I wonder what in particular brought on the anxiety about coping. Was it your experience trying to leave there after Christmas, which would have been alarming for anyone?
    I don't have any words of wisdom to impart, but you seem very much on top of things to me.
    I did enjoy that catalogue of potatoes. As we get older we value more the turning of the year, and the planting of seed.

  9. Thinking about potatoes (not in the hour of the wolf!) - I read in today's Irish Times (May 1) that this is the International Year of the Potato. Are you celebrating this in any special way?? Incidentally, the varieties on offer at our weekly co-operative market last Saturday were Golden Wonders, Ker Pinks, and Roosters. Most customers seem to prefer Golden Wonders.