igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)

My Solanum now has little clusters of berries as well as white-and-gold flowers.
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
I went to Ryman's to buy a replacement filler/converter for my 'spare' Parker fountain pen (the one with the stainless-steel barrel that I had at school, and which I use for writing-while-walking, since it survives being dropped better than the coloured barrels do). Those cheap piston fillers are basically disposable items; sooner or later, the gasket perishes and/or pulls out of the rod, and you get left with a filler that goes up and down but doesn't suck up ink. Which is what had happened to this pen, not for the first time.

I was shocked to be told that Parker are no longer manufacturing fillers (despite continuing to sell bottled ink; how do they expect people to use the ink?) and that the shop had now sold out. I was directed to the neighbouring branch, six miles away, which apparently had one left 'in stock'. A week later, when I had business there and had cycled over, I paid a call on the second branch of Ryman's. They had sold their last filler the day before.Read more... )

The Virginia stocks on my windowsill are coming to an end, and I've been weeding them out. I've also been removing the alyssum plants after the first flush of flowers has passed, since I now know that if you leave them they will happily flower from side-shoot after side-shoot and fill the entire tray from a single mature plant... and I had lots of seedlings!

The mysterious plant that looks like basil undoubtedly is basil. And the feathery things that have grown tall but still haven't flowered are suspiciously reminiscent of fennel -- could that packet of "Little Miss" assorted flower seed possibly have got mixed up with their packets of assorted herb seed?more identifications )
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
The first flowers have come out on my windowsill -- and they turn out to be purple Virginia stocks, which are apparently notoriously quick-growing. These were some of the smallest seedlings and have rushed upwards and into flower before many of the other varieties have managed more than a couple of leaves yet. I've been trying to thin them out (they don't have much root to speak of) but there are still far more of them than anything else at the moment. I'm assuming they will die off once they finished flowering.Read more... )
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
Of the late-sown plants that failed to flower last year, one turned out to be another sweet alyssum and flourished mightily, the ageratums died, the wallflower-like things withered and died one by one through winter and spring, the creeping thyme-like stuff with tiny leaves gradually died off, the love-in-the-mist-like frondy thing is still sitting there looking quite vigorous but showing no signs of flowering, and there's another one that has been clinging on underneath the alyssum with its leading shoots looking deformed.

Meanwhile I sowed another packet of random seed from a "Little Miss" flower kit that was date-expired (rescued from bric-à-brac donations).Read more... )
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
More new flowers from the second tray: this one seems to be a nemisia. And this one appears to be some kind of corn-cockle. Possibly. Except that it doesn't have hairy leaves or stems - and those twisted flower-buds with the bulge at the end are very distinctive... I think there may be some more ageratums growing in the first tray, but if so they didn't do nearly so well as the two in the second tray; almost all of them have withered and died at a young stage, one looks as if it has pulled through (though still much smaller than the ones planted later) and one may have a healthy new leaf coming. Otherwise we have some wallflower-like things, and the love-in-the-mist-like things which have been sitting in the understory doing not very much -- I thought they might perk up now that everything above them has died back, but not so far.
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
Finally finished "If I were Vicomte" after all those years; it only took about a week in the end, though it always feels like longer when you're actually in the throes of doing it. There's nothing like actually starting a project for getting it completed!
Read more... )

The first two flowers to emerge out of my smaller second tray were, predictably, yet another daisy and another Jacob's ladder, but I now have two more that didn't germinate in the first batch at all. The big bushy thistle-like thing turns out to be an ageratum:

And the second is heartsease:
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
I've now definitely started my new one-shot story, "There is no Phantom of the Opera", set from Raoul's point of view in the moments between Carlotta's croak and arriving on the roof with Christine.

(Because after all, what did he mean by "there is no Phantom of the Opera"? Presumably not 'what we just saw didn't happen, and neither did the notes signed Opera Ghost' -- however pig-headed you want to believe him, by this point Raoul can scarcely disbelieve that something odd is going on at the Opera. So presumably he is trying to reassure her that whoever is behind this, it's not supernatural -- Buquet's stories of living skulls and the backstage superstitions about all accidents being the agency of the 'Phantom' are just that, superstition. And above all, the Phantom can't really get into her head and influence her actions as she seems to believe; she has nothing to fear but fear itself.

(Unfortunately he isn't quite right on that front, but he has no way of knowing this...)

Since I'm assuming that this one is going to be short, I'm writing it in an unused 2014 pocket diary, which has the merit of being much more portable than the A4 hardback notebooks I've been using. This does mean that I only get a couple of sentences per page, though!

More flowers emerging: these ones seem to be something along the lines of a snapdragon. (As always, click for full-size image -- the thumbnails are a bit useless.)

igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)

I assumed from the leaves that this was another Jacob's Ladder flower, but in fact it turns out to be a poached-egg plant -- now that I know, I can tell the difference in the foliage.

Apparently I have multiple different colours of Livingstone daisy in the packet; if I'd known, I might have been less ruthless about weeding out duplicates! But I really don't have room for more than a few plants of each, and luckily the survivors seem to cover a range of possibilities. This third colour is particularly striking.
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
One of the big cranesbill-like buds finally opened... and it turns out to be a delicate mauve cup-shaped flower, and not a cranesbill after all!

The big fleshy-leaved ones are definitely Livingstone daisies, in two colours - yellow and white -- although it's taken me a week to catch the flowers actually open! Apparently they only open in direct sunlight, which we haven't had a lot of recently, and which only hits my windowsill for a few hours in the morning at best...

The tall ball-shaped buds are something else again, a handsome purple-hearted flower (seen here with 'white buttercups' and daisies in background)

Interestingly, all of these close at night, but the daisies don't.

And another one this morning; a blue bell-shaped flower that popped out unexpectedly from a single plant with long stalks and pinnate leaves that is sprawling all over the tray.

Judging by the leaves it is not a campanula.
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)

I thought the purple one with the ball-shaped buds might be some kind of fleabane, but it isn't.

And the other one has multiple small flowers like little white buttercups...

igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
So the first flower on the tallest and most vigorous plant came out, and... it's a daisy. Or something of the sort! Lots more to come, though: there are cranesbill-shaped buds dropping on the very long and straggly plants, fleur-de-lis ones on the tips of the big fleshy kind, little round balls on the ones like forget-me-nots and a spray of small buds on the ones with long thin leaves. Interestingly, there is sporadic damping-off visible among the seedlings in the second tray, which is something I didn't have at all on the first sowing despite the colder temperatures. The container isn't so well-drained, so maybe it really is related to dampness.
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
(testing blog image hosting)

Happy, healthy young apple seedlings... and the ink-bottle for my fountain-pens!

A tangled tray of 'salad' waiting to form flower-buds (believe it or not, I did do some thinning-out, by the unorthodox route of removing the stronger specimens of each species!)

Results from the fine-as-dust seed that was left in the bottom of the packet, which I suspect will produce a different species mix

In further news, I have finished typing "A Family Man" and started work on the provisionally-titled "Meg Shoots the Phantom" -- which is definitely going to need a better title at some point!
It looks as if the latter story really is going to be a short one for once, which I think is partly due to the script-like presentation I've consciously adopted (present tense and third-person 'objective', hence no long digressions into backstory or characters' thoughts about other characters) and partly due to the constraints of the original model: as an alternate finale, my version needs to fit more or less back into the space occupied by the current scene. Even as it is, it's going to be a bit longer, I suspect...
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
Finally — while taping up boxes — found the connecting link for the elevated 'turn' of thought I wanted in order to serve as an ending for "A Family Man": Christine, of course :-)
(Though I'm not yet sure if the title for this story should have the indefinite article, the definite article, or neither...)

Immediately after writing the ending I suddenly recalled a whole segment of unused material that was in the original development (while I was sitting on the bus... I even remember which road we were going along at the time), in which it is mentioned that Raoul as a child used to smuggle food to Christine and her father, and Christine now admits for the first time that it wasn't actually very suitable food for an invalid, and that her father didn't eat it! But I no longer remember what the line of thought that led to this exchange was (possibly Raoul comparing his wife's figure favourably to the scrawny girl of their childhood?) or how it fitted into the rest, so my subconscious was probably right to omit it.

We have initial germination on the second sowing of seed; a little more quickly than the original batch, I think, possibly because it's now later in the season and/or a lot warmer.
The orange ones are coming up first, which I think I remember.

Unfortunately the first batch got quite bashed about by the billowing curtains when I left the door of my room open with the curtains shut; I do try not to do that because the through draught sends my papers everywhere, but this is a new hazard :-(
I think they'll recover...
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
I've planted the rest of the packet of £3 mystery seeds, having deliberately saved some back for a second, mid-May, sowing in the knowledge that there were too many for one tray. Of course, it turns out that the ones that were left in the bottom of the packet were mostly the ones like fine dust (the largest of them are the black-and-white sticks), so it will presumably come out as a somewhat different species balance from the previous one!

I've been thinning out the largest and most vigorous varieties identifiable in the first batch to only two or three specimens each. I hope the small sorts manage to struggle through in between. The extremely fleshy fuzzy ones are odd (and very weak-necked; they tend to straggle sideways across the soil rather than grow upwards).

The fate of the apple pips has been instructive. Of the three that were most developed when I planted them, one was (I think) dug up and eaten by a squirrel while the pot was outside on the coal-bunker -- a better environment for it than my windowsill, but clearly not safe, at least not for seeds with bits of apple core still wedged around them, and the other two, which had well-developed shoots and roots before earthing-in, never really established and eventually rotted away before ever working out which way was up.
One that was less advanced before planting managed to come up with its neck bent in the approved fashion and open out its leaves, but it only made a very short seedling and now seems to be dying too.
Three more germinated much later from seed that had barely started to move, or not started at all, and have produced fine tall seedlings that are just producing their first true leaves. Obviously premature germination out of the ground is not healthy for apple seed.
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
I've just spent most of the evening applying my twenty years' rusty Russian to an online article about the Hamburg staging of "Love Never Dies", having been tempted into it from Tumblr on glimpsing the tantalising statement "мне показалось, что она не любит Призрака" (I get the impression that Christine doesn't love the Phantom)
It's wonderful what a bit of motivation can do...


Yet again, independent confirmation that Raoul (whom the reviewer concludes this Christine no longer loves in the romantic sense either) comes across in LND despite the author's intentions as a far more interesting and sympathetic character in his relationship with Christine than the one-note Phantom does, and indeed that Lloyd Webber has in effect written the piece as Raoul's tragedy and not, as he supposes, as that of the Phantom. How did the composer manage to do this without noticing?

The late-coming anemone is now dying as well without ever having reached full growth, the one with the damaged stem has withered, and the others have not only failed to bloom but aren't looking all that vigorous either. I'm afraid that as house-plants (and as a gift) they were a complete and utter failure.
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
Oops. I forgot that Raoul's nostalgic associations with the "Little Lotte" verse are likely to have shifted considerably after the events of the musical -- however fondly he remembers the actual picnics in the attic, etc :-( Fortunately that section took place as the precursor to a shift into protective mode anyway, so it's easy enough to shade it in a darker direction...

Still not finished, though I must be very near the end now; I've put the Countess in. Maybe another page? I should finish before the end of the notebook, anyway, although I certainly shan't get the 'family' fic in as well, as I had originally fondly imagined.
should I cheat on the FFnet tagging? )

One of my anemones has fallen flat and seems to have snapped off from its root at ground level. Probably mechanical damage from drawing the curtain, I think, rather than rot or insect damage.
Oh well. I have four others and it wasn't doing anything interesting anyway -- just sitting there with its single leaf on a long stalk...
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
Somewhat to my surprise, the fifth and final anemone has now shown its head, looking very smuch smaller and weedier than the others; we now have a 100% survival rate over the winter. However, not only were they a long way behind the ones growing outside, they have yet to show any signs of flowering or doing anything beyond producing one leaf each. They may have been given to me as suitable windowsill plants last autumn, but as forced flowers they are obviously a complete non-starter: if they had been put into the cold earth outside they would probably have done better!

On the other hand, my £3 mystery seed has germinated with great enthusiasm. in consecutive order according to its variety. I still have no idea what any of them are, though the first seedlings are just begining to show their true leaves (something pinnate). There are some tiny ones that were the latest to germinate and must have come from seed like dust, some with a round cupped seed like a miniature poppy head (but different), some from long thin black and white sticks, some that came up with seed leaves so pale as to be almost white and are now showing intriguing signs of blushing pink, some with bright orange seed husks, and probably more....

I have also planted some apple pips in the hopes of creating 'pippins' for a 'native woodland hedge' in a year or two, which are currently in fashion. If and when they fruit in five years' time, the fruits will be small sour throwbacks, as the vast majority of randomly sprouted hedgerow pippins are, but the wildlife doesn't mind :-)
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
I now have four shoots on my window-sill; the packet says that there were originally five bulbs, but presumably one of them failed to survive the winter. (Weirdly, all four are in a cluster over one side of the pot -- I certainly wouldn't have planted them that way! They must have migrated through the soil by pushing their roots.)

And I bought myself a £3 packet of flower seeds as an Easter present, having finally decided to throw out the remnants of the 'wildflower seed tag' that I planted a couple of years back from my Lush bubble-bath wand. By this point it had turned into a pot of rushes and sweet alyssum, the sole vigorous survivor of the poppies and field flowers originally included. It seemed a bit cruel to put the alyssum on the compost heap when it was growing so vigorously and still flowering, but it was getting extremely straggly and messy (shedding flowers and leaves all over the place), and I was distinctly tired of it on my windowsill :-(

So now I have a fresh tray of mystery seed, of which I know nothing save that none of the flowers are supposed to grow more than 12" high and that they are expected to start flowering within six weeks and germinating within five days -- billed as a quick flush of changing colour throughout the summer as different plants come into bloom. They don't actually tell you which species are in there!

I shall have to harden my heart and try to thin it out a bit, since there will be rather more than five separate individual seeds in there this time...
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
The anemones that I planted on the second of October (and that were given to me as a present to bloom indoors within two months) have finally bent their heads and thrust up two little purplish shoots. Oddly enough this is at exactly the same time as the bulbs growing outside in the garden: it is clearly Springtime for Anemones!
igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
So much for shoots should appear in approximately eight weeks - the bulbs are still there, apparently rooted and still unrotted, but showing no signs whatsoever of greenery, let alone flowers, after four months...


igenlode: The pirate sloop 'Horizon' from "Treasures of the Indies" (Default)
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