Begin Again

Exactly three weeks ago, gentle readers, this scene of carnage met your tender, unshielded eyes:

First corridor made.

First corridor made.

How times have changed! As the s**w has retreated, I’ve been out raking bits of lawn on three separate occasions. The frontest of the front yard is now cleared of sticks and autumn-leaf mulch, the upper backyard is swept of sticks and deep-freeze doggy-doos, and…

It's, um, it's opaque rain, that's what it is.

It’s, um, it’s opaque rain, that’s what it is.


It’S SNOWING???!!!

Well, never mind. If the plants can rise above this morning’s flurry with dignified calm, so can –

THAT DOES IT! THE NEXT ONE OF YOU CLOWNS TO SING “I’M DREAMING OF A WHITE EASTER” LOSES YOUR BEER TICKETS!

Ahem.

Greeting the (now admittedly half-over) Spring are perennials located at three spots in the following photo: in the corner where the public walk meets the front walk; in a patch framed by the wrought-iron diamond; and along the stepping-stone path between the stones and the house. Say hello, plantlets!

"Hello!"

“Hello!”

First. When the rest of the front yard had been laid bare, the corner where the sidewalks meet still had a slab of ice over it, making it a less fortunate spot for spring bulbs than I had imagined when I planted them here last fall. At last, though, a quarter-inch spike of greenery appeared yesterday.

A-one, ...

A-one, …

When I went out for a photo op this morning, two of its buddies had joined it. Scoobly-doobly-bop-de-woo-woo…

... and a-two!

… and a-two!

Next. A few years ago, E.g.’s childhood friend Gordon and his husband Martin came for a visit. Gordon brought several plants, one of which was a Great Blue Lobelia in an itty-bitty pot. I’m happy to announce that not only have I managed not to kill it, it gave a nice show last year and is raring to go for this year.

A native plant, Lobelia siphilitica. Don't worry, it's sposta be a cure, not a cause.

A native plant, Lobelia siphilitica. Don’t worry, it’s sposta be a cure, not a cause.


This is how it looked in September.

This is how it looked in September.


Finally. As part of last year’s “gardening rewards program” freebies, I brought home some out-of-place foxglove seedlings in late summer from E.g.’s parents’ place. On the understanding that they like to reside on the edge between shade and sun, I set them along the stepping stones that run between the front walk and the parking pad. And look, here they are now!
Two of the foxglove seedlings that made it. Upper-right corner shows some woolly thyme, still blue with cold.

Two of the foxglove seedlings that made it. Upper-right corner shows some woolly thyme, still blue with cold.


Welcome, Spring!

Tempo Fudge It

How music should sound: glowing, ethereal, beautiful but ungraspable.

How music should sound: glowing, ethereal, beautiful but ungraspable.


Having awakened several times between twenty-to-two and three-fifteen this morning, I finally got up and stayed up. I checked my watch when letting Fergus out, because there were robins singing. Three-seventeen. Robins must be vermivores, all right.

Thinking a bit of math would coax me back to sleep in our still-relatively-new easy chair, I tackled the troubles of tempo. All common tempos begin with either “a” or “l”, and so I can never remember which one is faster or slower than which other.

So I studied tempo definitions.

And I made a chart.

This oughta help.

This oughta help.


And I’m still up.

And it’s now ten to seven.

Home sweet hovel.

Home sweet hovel.


But maybe now that today’s blog entry is out of the way, I can drift off… the dog-stomach alarms aren’t ringing yet… Ta-ta.

What a musician needs to know to produce the sound the listener hears in the first photo.

What a musician needs to know to produce the sound the listener hears in the first photo.

Two Words

At our last rehearsal before putting on Monday’s skit, Tucker gave staging directions and Merrilee offered the use of a Loyalist cap that she had made for some previous theatrical occasion. Having never seen me wearing anything remotely feminine, the two of them approached the subject of the cap with delicacy and trepidation.

The truth is, however, that I’m quite happy to dress up for play-acting. A trip to the Salvation Army store down the street on Saturday scored a Jane-Austenesque costume — I only had to cut and restitch the throw — for $16, oversized lace handkerchief and all. After preparing the shawl thingamy, I dressed up, took pictures with the iPad in front of the mirror, and sent Merrilee two photos in an e-mail with the subject line “Two words”.

Below I’ve exchanged the home photo for one from the performance, so that the cap — an essential element considering the length of my hair — could be included, but kept the two captions as they were. The joke was borrowed from an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess.

Have a good weekend!

Thespian

Thespian

Lesbian

Lesbian

Playing to a packed house

This afternoon, I had the privilege to perform alongside two outstanding members of the Saint John music community. Merrilee played piano while Tucker and I sang a duet. Just this once, I’m going to let you have a peek at my two heroes as we perform our piece for the church ladies’ tea.

Merrilee decided on the piece, I took care of costuming and some lyrics editing, and Tucker came up with the stage directions, which aren’t all captured in the photos below.

We enter the parlour hand in hand. When he suggests speaking to my mother, he takes both my hands. When he takes the tack of speaking to my father, he holds only one of my hands. When he gives up, he doesn’t take any of my hands and turns aside in gloom.

I just couldn’t memorize my part, no matter how hard I tried. I think now it was partly my fear of letting down these two people in whom I stand in awe — these wonderful people who love music and love me too — that my own anxiety was getting in my way.

In the end, I only tripped over one line, and since it was the last line and merely added an extra triplet to the six-eight rhythm, it added to the comic effect without detracting from the illusion of the scene.

Okay, enough blibbity. Here we are, singing our 1903 ditty.

Tucker: "Oh, 'tis time I should talk to your mother, sweet Mary, says I." Dandyknife: "Oh, don't talk to my mother, dear Patrick, or sure now I'll cry. For my mother says men are deceivers, And I know she will never consent; She says girls in a hurry to marry...

Tucker: “Oh, ’tis time I should talk to your mother, sweet Mary, says I.”
Dandyknife: “Oh, don’t talk to my mother, dear Patrick, or sure now I’ll cry.
For my mother says men are deceivers,
And I know she will never consent;
She says girls in a hurry to marry…

...at leisure repent." Tucker: "Then suppose I should talk to your father, sweet Mary, says I."

…at leisure repent.”
Tucker: “Then suppose I should talk to your father, sweet Mary, says I.”

Dandyknife: "Oh, don't talk to my father, dear Patrick, or sure now I'll cry. For my father he loves me so dearly, He'll never consent I should go; If you talk to my father, my darling...

Dandyknife: “Oh, don’t talk to my father, dear Patrick, or sure now I’ll cry.
For my father he loves me so dearly,
He’ll never consent I should go;
If you talk to my father, my darling…

...he'll surely say no." Tucker: "Then how shall I get you, my jewel, sweet Mary, says I?

…he’ll surely say no.”
Tucker: “Then how shall I get you, my jewel, sweet Mary, says I?

If your father and mother's so cruel, most surely I'll die."

If your father and mother’s so cruel, most surely I’ll die.”

[Sweet Mary receives bolt of inspiration.]

[Sweet Mary receives bolt of inspiration.]

Dandyknife: "Oh never say die, my dear Patrick, A way now to save you I see:

Dandyknife: “Oh never say die, my dear Patrick,
A way now to save you I see:

Since my father and mother are both so contrary...

Since my father and mother are both so contrary…

...you'd better ask ME!

…you’d better ask ME!

The end.

The end.

(Tucker: There, that wasn't so bad, was it?) (Dandyknife: It was fine.)

(Tucker: There, that wasn’t so bad, was it?)
(Dandyknife: It was fine. Thanks.)

PS #1. The song was called “You’d Better Ask Me” — a bit of a plot spoiler, so it wasn’t introduced by name.

PS #2. If you squint a little, in one of the photos you’ll see the hardest-to-memorize words written on my palms.

Cutting Remarks

The sham Dandyknife. Ho, d'Artagnan!

The sham Dandyknife. Ho, d’Artagnan!


Following are two paragraphs from a blog draft begun on December 13, 2013:

Yesterday, I took a moment to rearrange some indoor plants. White flies never got my fuchsias, but alas, spider mites did, and feasted on the mints while they were at it. Time for action.

Snip, snip, snip, thirty-three cuttings joined the three New Guinea Impatiens slips that haven’t yet slipped into oblivion. Yank, yank, yank, two mint plants and the lemon balm inherited individual pots, and the big black planter has been emptied into the herb garden and banished to the garage. Now the stairwell no longer smells of stagnant pond.

Days of yore: Mints and fuchsias.

Days of yore: Mints and fuchsias.


Well, boys and girls, the charade is over. A standard joke in the gardening world features the indestructiblility of mint plants, but I’m here to tell you, I can kill ‘em faster than you can say Mentha spicata.

From an entire planter of promise has devolved one sprig of mint and one dead lemon-balm plant.

Just turn your head. That's all you can do.

Just turn your head. That’s all you can do.


Of two New Guinea Impatiens autumn pot-ups, when the first succumbed to spider mites I sprayed it with horticultural insecticide. This thorough wetting caused the spider mite webs, the only things holding the remaining leaves in place, to loose their grip. And so good-bye. When the second one became overrun a month or so later, I left it unsprayed. It looks like hell, but the blossoms are nice.
Second place tries harder.

Second place tries harder.


The three impatiens cuttings mentioned in the December draft have miraculously survived, although unfortunately on Friday they fried in the spring sunshine. After picking off the largest, most shriveled leaves, I potted them up on Saturday. They’ve been placed in the shadier front row of a tray that otherwise holds fuchsia cuttings.
Graduating class, Winter of '14.

Graduating class, Winter of ’14.


The fuchsia cuttings have done surprisingly well (i.e. they’re not dead). That is, eight of the original thirty-three cuttings have done well. And I suspect, despite sub-par labeling efforts, that the survivors all come from only one of December’s three snipped-up varieties.

And this concludes Dandyknife’s indoor gardening journal for Winter, 2014.

The real Dandyknife. Hey, stilton!

The real Dandyknife. Hey, stilton!

A Guide To Angels

Angels take many forms. The Seraph, as we all know, is a flying, fiery snake, while the Cherub is a human-headed flying bull. The Greeting-card Angel tends to be fluffier, having exchanged the awe-inspiring boa-constrictor look for an aw-how-cute feather-boa fashion sense.

Then there is the species of angel we have all personally encountered, the Good Neighbour. Here follows a photo essay of one I had the fortune of seeing this morning, just before breakfast.

First corridor made.

First corridor made.

Good Neighbours don’t announce themselves with clarion blasts or blinding garments. If you’re not paying attention, you may miss noticing one altogether.

Pulling the snow-blower back through the first pass.

Pulling the snow-blower back through the first pass.

Good Neighbours see a need, and do something about it. They use their strengths to compensate for their neighbours’ weaknesses.

Halfway done.

Halfway done.

Good Neighbours dress for the occasion, from sturdy coat and waterproof boots…

Heading back along the public walk.

Heading back along the public walk.

…to wind-cutting scarf and donkey-head mittens.

Nearly done. She even passed right behind the cars; compare with first photo.

Nearly done. She even passed right behind the cars; compare with first photo.

Good neighbours finish what they set out to do. They don’t ask for thanks; they might even feel embarrassed by praise. They think they have “just done what anyone would do.”

E.g. and I are so lucky that the house next door on our south side was chosen as suitable habitat for a Good Neighbour.