Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Well, here we are.

I’ve had a good time, missing you a lot – and also missing exercise and Italian. I’m doing well with the ANC hap – I’m past the centre point of the central square, and since it’s knit corner-to-corner I will soon feel the benefit of the shortening rows. And anyway, in knitting as in life, the return journey always feels shorter.

(That doesn’t apply to the Second Sock – but then, that isn’t a return journey. It’s the outward journey, repeated.)

I have little to report in the way of reading. Mostly I’ve been hunkered down with Ruth Rendell. I’m sure she was a knitter. I suspect much the same of George Eliot.

I think the only mildly serious reading I have done is Alan Bennett: “Untold Stories” and “Writing Home”. One of the few Christmas cards I got – everybody must think I am dead – was from an old friend who told me she has breast cancer and will start chemotherapy next month. That set me to looking up Bennett’s account of his own cancer, “An Average Rock Bun”, published in “Untold Stories”.

It happened in the late 90’s – encouraging for my friend. But I also thought of her because she lives alone (twice a widow). When Bennett had his cancer his partner moved in, to provide essential help after the operation; and they found that they could work out a way to live together:  “Of all the mercies arising from this affliction, this unlooked-for conjunction has been far and away the most blessed”. My friend has children and grandchildren nearby.

Neither knitting nor reading

I have a mysterious plant, now several years old. It grew of its own accord out of a pot of fresh new compost which came in a bag from the supermarket. It has been identified as an avocado – but even I could not have failed to notice an avocado seed as I filled the pot.

Lately it has been looking very poorly. A few days ago I realised to my horror that Perdita has been using it as a litter tray. (There is a tree at Balliol College, Oxford, on which it is traditional for  members of the college to piss. They have to replace the tree every few years. Co-education may have done away with this tradition.) When Rachel and Ed were here on Sunday, I got Ed to re-pot the avocado, again using fresh compost. He does not have much hope for it. I cling to a shred. Here it is:

Needless to say, Perdita is now banned from the sitting room. I’ll keep you posted.

A good new year to you all, when it comes. You’ll be first, Cat.


  1. Happy New Year Jean.

    A few years ago, I lived in a house with a goldfish pond. When the neighbour’s cat took an interest in the fish, I stuck bamboo skewers around the perimeter like a stockade (points downwards into the soil). The cat was prevented from finding a comfortable resting place to observe the fish up close. A similar arrangement may persuade Perdita to abandon the pot.

  2. And a Happy New Year to you too!
    The bamboo skewers idea sounds just the thing.

  3. We have four cats and had the same problem until hubby put chicken wire on top of the pot. Problem completely solved.

    1. Anonymous3:12 PM

      This is my recommended solution, too, as used successfully on a long planter box on our patio.
      -- Gretchen (aka stashdragon)

    2. Agree with this suggestion

    3. Me too; I'm using upturned empty wire hanging baskets to prevent our elderly cats using the raised flowerbed conveniently close to the catflap

      Good to hear from you. I'm persisting with my triangular shawl and wondering if I should start with the long side next time and decrease. But what if I ran out of yarn? There would be no point!

  4. I recall a Ruth Rendell novel where one of the characters was wearing a hand-knit vest with a miscrossed cable, and another character (Inspector Wexford?) observed that the person who knit it didn’t care enough about the wearer to go back and fix it. My husband puts rose bush clippings in the window boxes to discourage squirrels. Skewers and wire should be effective. Best wishes for 2020!

  5. Anonymous2:54 PM

    You might try putting medium sized pebbles on the soil in the plant pot...cover the soil completely. Most cats dislike digging around in rocks!

  6. Happy New Year to you and the kitties! Thanks for letting us into your life … looking forward to more in 2020!

  7. Anonymous5:45 PM

    Happy New Year, Jean and everyone.
    I have a lovely "peace" rose. First my dog started trying to dig it up, then he began knocking it about playing with his ball. I put a protective wigwam of bamboo canes over it, so now of course he wees against it.


  8. I've heard that scattering mothballs on the soil surface makes it unattractive for cats. At least, that remedy has been used to repel outdoor cats.

  9. New Year's or Hogmanay greetings to you too Jean. I hope 2020 is good to you. We are of course in the midst of a heatwave - 42'C forecast again for Friday. All our plants seem to be wilting - without any help from cats!

  10. Happy New Year Jean, and Perdita is adorable.

  11. =Tamar11:34 PM

    Happy New Year to All!

  12. Also, re. Christmas. Adds- I think fewer people send them than ever. I received three or four total. That includes my dentist.

  13. All the best wishes for 2020. Not quite here yet in western NY, but I hold out hope things will be better.
    I need to thank you for introducing me to Olive Kitteridge. Now I need my reader friends to meet her so I have people with whom to discuss the book.
    Thanks for the continuing education through your blog. I miss you when you take time off!

  14. Anonymous12:40 PM

    Happy New Year Jean! Yes, Christmas cards are becoming a thing of the past. Had to change dentists and the new one doesn't send them out! Looking forward to your wonderful posts for 2020. Chloe

  15. Happy 2020 to all of you. I’ve spent the last few days of 2019 sorting my stash, washing yarn, etc., enjoying the darkness.
    I guess it’s now time to use some of that yarn to start a new project. Onward we go.