Saturday, 24 August 2013

Training the Jasmine

The Jasmine (J. officinale) has gotten big, but it's been growing towards a point.  I want it to spread; so I've strung my remaining wire over the arbour, untangled the plant from itself, separated the larger vines and threaded them around the arbour framework with the support of the wire.

It looks overwired right now, but you look again in a year from now...

I've got some wire running to the frontpiece, which should promote curtaining (which is awesome!)

Cuteness happened.  Bloody annoying that he's dug up my garlic, but cute all the same.  

I borrowed a brazier.  Ten minutes later I was going "I HAVE GOT TO GET ME ONE OF THESE!"

And I've been getting equipped for college.  I'm weak on maths so I've been reading this a lot

Lastly then: I saw a caterpillar in the garden; big hairy bugger.  Caterpillars are unique to the butterfly or moth they become, but I've not found a match.  Any ideas?

Later.  Jx

Friday, 23 August 2013


Audre Lorde famously said "the Master's tools will never dismantle the Master's house".  Well...

Division is the master's tool.
Misunderstanding is the master's tool.
Ignorance is the master's tool.
Confusion and anxiety is the master's tool.
Fear is the master's tool.
Having more hate for those below us than for those above us is the master's tool.

And all of these are forged in the minds of (some) cis people when we say fuck cis people.

Shit, the master has enough damn tools as it is!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Various updates

Here's where we're at:

The front garden has a new fence.  It's five foot high with the trellis topper and provides nice screening.  I'll be planting a row of dwarf trees behind it in the Autumn, in-between the fence and the ramp.

My peas are ready.  

George has squashed my maincrop potatoes in his paranoid bids to bark madly at the big Maple.  I'm not convinced I can save the spuds.  He's already trampled my Thyme to death.  

The Jasmine has now grown to the top of the arbour, and will soon be trained across the front.  

The lawn survived the heatwave mostly intact.  I'll give it a reseed in March ready for next Summer.  

And almost all the books I ordered have come.  I'm still waiting on Wheater's Functional Histology.  The Gray's Anatomy and the Stryer's Biochemistry I already had from donkeys' back.  The rest, including the Histology book, came to £28 on ebay.  Kerching!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Preparing for college

  So I think tomorrow I'll be ordering a lot of textbooks. For £9 all-in I'm getting Principles of Genetics, Functional Histology, and Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. I'd best clear off a shelf in my room for all this (or build another shelf if I can't clear one), and fetch my Gray's Anatomy and Striker's Biochemistry down from the loft, though I prefer Lehninger's Biochemistry and will be getting a copy at my earliest convenience.  

  Getting Bioscience Laboratory Techniques next week, along with as many box files and as much lined paper as I can scrape together.  A friend has offered to lend me her copy of Essential Cell Biology.  

  The advance legwork I need to put in ahead of my practicals is well in hand.  So much so that Julia now has an entire folder of emails titled "Jo's crabs".  Yep, I'm looking at mitten crabs.  I'm also intending to look at bees and holly.  Two subjects of great environmental significance and one subject of personal curiosity.  If I get the green light for the holly study then I may find myself doing carpentry in the lab: the study will need a rig that I don't think we have, but that I can build for next to nowt.  

In 69 days' time I will be a biologist-in-training!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

One of those hot days...

  It's a glorious Saturday morning, the sun is shining, no chance of rain, so you think right, I'm gonna go out and strim the lawn.  You throw on your DIY trousers (the ones covered in fifty shades of vinyl matt), plug in the strimmer, whack on Springsteen's greatest hits and set to work.

  First verse of Born To Run is barely done and already your armpits and boxer shorts are sodden with sweat, I'm a Celt, we do pissing rain, we do permanently overcast, what the hell am I doing out here?  You get to the end of the track, you're getting those V-shapes down your chest and back, and the bloke five doors down who spends his weekends on the xbox in his bedroom has turned off his techno and is looking out his window, raising a cider at you for working on so hot a day as this.  Shit.  You give him a wave and get back to strimming.  Shit, he's even turned the techno off, you can't go indoors now! 

  You're halfway through Hungry Heart before the lawn's done, you've had to put on boots after you strimmed your toe and now the boots are full of sweat, but no, come on, he turned the techno off.  You've gotta at least prune some shit!  So you train the Jasmine and get out the hose to water the lawn.

Damnit, I swear I've been microwaved today!

Monday, 1 July 2013

On Chinese Flying Lanterns

Don't buy Chinese flying lanterns.  They look pretty, but there comes a point where the flame is no longer hot enough to sustain flight but is still hot enough to set things on fire. What you then have is a source of ignition dropping from the sky onto a random location. This one fell onto a stack of plastic and injured nine firefighters. They're also known to injure owls, cows and sheep. You cannot control where they land so please don't use them.


Thursday, 27 June 2013

Jo's Strimmer!

Because if I'm gonna be cracking puns anyway then they might as well be about the frontman of my favourite band.

So happy about this right now!  A) new toy, B) flat lawn, C) cut grass smell, D) NEW TOY!  
I found a ton of dessicated dog poo that had fallen below the horizon.  Now that the lawn is flat I should have no problems spotting it early.  

  Other things: the potatoes were overlapping the thyme and alliums, so I've put in some bamboo.  

I now have red strawberries!

The runner beans have gotten as tall as the bamboo.  

And tarred most of the roof of the shed.  The bit I've missed I'll get with a long-handled roller on the next dry day we get.  The stuff stinks and it goes on like Marmite, but that's bitumen for ya.  

And lastly I've given the lawn a good feed to help it recover from its first mowing.  

It looks so much neater for a good mowing, but more than that, doing something that's a visible change for the better has lifted me right out of the blues.  

Once more:  NEW TOY!!!

Good times.  

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Cool Organism of the Month, June 2013: Puya chilensis

I've previously been doing Cool Animal of the Month, but this Summer it's a plant that takes the prize for the most amazing organism I've seen.  It's a fucking huge bromeliad - like a pineapple on steroids - and it traps and eats animals up to the size of a sheep!  A SHEEP-EATING PINEAPPLE!  The world is a strange and wonderful place.  I guess now I'm doing Cool Organism of the Month instead.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

When Shuck gets ironic

Yesterday I got an official, confirmed offer of a place to study Biology.  I've been depressed these past couple weeks, but for some reason the prospect of furthering my education is something Shuck can't touch.  It's nice to have that, it's comforting.  Still, my furry friend has been biting down hard, with the unfortunate consequence that I've spent too much of my time moping and not enough time attending to my responsibilities.  Well, my family pointed this out today (the responsibilities thing; I already knew about Shuck) and now, well, things are getting cleaned right enough, but I feel worse for letting things slide.

In essence I am now depressed over things I did when I was depressed.  Life does work in funny ways.  Were it not so fubar it'd be fucking hilarious.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Strawberry news

  Last night a fox got into the Strawbrary by climbing over Kelly's shed and scratching in through the netting.  George, predictably, went berserk.  He couldn't get through his usual corner at first because there was a trellis in the way, so he just nutted his way through the trellis!

Give it up for canine skullmanship!

  I hear it was a hell of a fight, though I myself slept through it.  George came away unharmed while the fox was apparently quite injured, so I guess that fox won't be back in our garden any time soon.  I'll be making modifications to the Strawbrary over the next few days.  Sadly, a couple of plants didn't survive the fight.  

Meanwhile, strawberries!

Sunday, 9 June 2013


A bottle garden that has been sealed for forty years and still thrives!

On the EDL

I've just seen this article on Facebook.

  Persons unknown - but safely presumed in the present climate to be members or supporters of the EDL - have torched a boarding school with 128 kids sleeping inside.  Everybody was evacuated and nobody died, but this could well have become one of Britain's worst ever domestic acts of mass murder.

Is this who the EDL are defending us from?  Children?

  They like to think of themselves as soldiers in some kind of war for England.  A white, straight, mildly obese England where your plumber definitely isn't Polish.  Fair enough, each to their own, but do you know what?

Attacking a soldier is an act of war.
Attacking the politicians who gave that soldier his orders is an act of war.
Attacking innocent children is not an act of war.
Attacking innocent children is something else, something far worse: it is a crime against humanity.  It is genocide.  It is terrorism.

  We have this idea that today's terrorists are brown.  This is a fallacy that our politicians and journalists are extremely keen to propagate.  Terrorism however does not depend on race or religion.  Terrorism is defined by a person's actions.  The recent spate of arson attacks - which have now escalated to attempted mass murder, attempted crimes against humanity - make the EDL the most prolific terrorist organisation in Britain today.  Certainly there have been as many attacks in the news with some tenuous, alleged link to the EDL as there were bombings on the Mainland by the IRA.

  It is high time we shamed these white terrorists and rejected them from our communities!

Fuckin'... fuckin' shite!

  I have sensitive skin.  It isn't normally an issue these days because I wear all cotton and know which chemicals to avoid.  The trouble with sensitive skin though is that once it's been triggered massively by something you're then left pretty much allergic to the world until it recovers.  Sometimes though you have no choice but to suck it up for the greater good.  Loft insulation is my kryptonite but I ended up spending a couple of hours in the loft yesterday.

This is me today:

  It's on my arms, legs, and back.  My chest and neck are itching and they're gonna go in the next few days.  It's creeping in around my eyes and I'll be lucky if my face doesn't end up covered.  I've also got an airway full of shite.

  As you can imagine, everything's irritating my skin right now and I'm feeling thoroughly depressed about it.  I've decontaminated myself, covered myself in aqueous cream, changed all my sheets, excluded all pets from my room and holed up in bed with a pint of Ben and Jerry's, watching reruns of Mythbusters while I pick a movie to put on.

I had been planning to get some serious weeding done today.  FML.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Ambling around Kew again

More pics:


Bromeliad flowering
Passiflora coriacea - the Bat-Leaved Passion Flower


Goslings!  BABY GEESES!
Go near these two with a packet of crisps and they're fast on the cadge!
Albino Cichlid
Many bees on an Allium flower
Dendrobates leucomelas - poison dart frog

Pervy Names

Finally then, I've finished the long box: 

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Borders and builds

Good news first: I got an interview to study Biology!

The back border is in place.

I've included a slab there so that Bill and George can still access the social hole without trampling the bed.  Hopefully they catch on.  On the right we have Heathers behind, Coleus in front:

And on the left we have another Heather/Coleus pairing, followed by Borage, Bergamot, Tarragon and two varieties of Rosemary.  I've left gaps of a foot each side of each fencepost; these gaps will be filled by Jasmines and later trellis.  

I've put a few planks on the shed walls and put nails in.  Saying I built racks is giving it a lot more than it is, but they do the job.  

I'm also halfway through building a long box with a lid, akin to a footlocker.  It'll sit along the back of the shed and house things like paints, fertilisers, my sledgehammer and other dangerous items; hence the timber being two inches thick.  It'll also double as a seat, though I'll be sure to mark it boldly with "NO DRINKS, NO LIQUIDS".  You could mix up half the shit in a gardener's shed and make dynamite, and I like having windows.  

It's purple for the pretty.  Meanwhile, the grass is getting unruly.  Dammit, I want a strimmer!