mercredi 4 mars 2009

When the thieves come home to crow

Evening, both lindens are done

No, it's good; I still have partial use of my hands. Both of them. I can't get my rings off, but my mother-on-law wouldn't like it if I went without them, anyway. I should take that as a compliment. I do.

My timing, if not my hands, was exquisite. My hands look like they belong to someone much, much older and coarser than I.


The weather was beautiful for several days, before the clouds scuttled in yesterday afternoon, and a chill wind blew, bringing rain last night and again this afternoon. I don't remember when it started, only that the sun shone. Sunday, I worked outside and cleaned out the daylily border on the right intermediate terrace. For those of you who haven't been reading me -- doggedly; I'm sorry -- since last year, I provide the link to the plan. It will help you to understand that the house sits on the top of five terraces. For the complete description, see that post, but for our purposes, it will suffice to know that the two linden trees are the big rounds on the house terrace. They look -- please excuse me -- like breasts (the guys just ran to check it out). The other circle, the one between them and a little higher, is the old fountain that Audouin turned into the pond-in-a-fountain, or basin (full account of his efforts in the same post).

You'll notice that there is a stair that cuts down the "center" of the garden, on axis with the French door into the main living space of the house, and that the garden is approximately symmetrical about that axis.

Descending the first few stairs, you arrive on the shallow second terrace. The raised planting borders on the southern side (downhill slope) contain the lavender bushes, the two weeping roses, and several very old, woody tea rose bushes. Roses are not particularly compatible with lavender, preferring a moister, heavier soil, but they manage. I cut them back exceptionally vigorously this year, and to my chagrin, I later realized that I left nothing but a single overly large woody stem from the first white one on the right. I'll have to replace it. It did quite well, too. That will teach me to cut back with such vigor before I have adequately pruned the lavender and can see what I am doing.

At one end, there is an enormous bay, and at the other end, there is a set of stairs, leading to the perpetually humid and moss-covered guest room terrace. It doesn't get sun. If I cut out the overgrown ivy and the ancient, lichen-covered unrecognizable apple tree, that should help. Beside the stairs is the dogwood I planted a couple years back, and behind that, the suffering rhododendron Victor and Tony gave me the firesale price for last summer, with a wink. They knew I'd get it to thrive. It's doing well, and Chloé lies just beyond its roots now. She'll have many beautiful spring flowers. Perhaps I'll plant her a new apple tree. A crab. We'll see.

From this point, three stairs lead to three different areas. The stair along the axis leads to the bottom of the garden, half civilized, with a pool, and half overgrown and waiting for my administrations, and a garage.

The shorter stair to the right leads to what I refer to as the right intermediate terrace, and the same stair to the left leads, most sensibly, to the left intermediate terrace, and a farther one, somewhat lower, where the garden widens at its lower levels, behind the France Telecom utility building at street level. We'll get to that one. It's just above the side of the bottom garden that has the pool, and the birch and tulip tree cluster.

The right and left intermediate terraces each terminate on the downhill side with a very tall -- 9-10' -- retaining walls. Each terrace is made of banks of St. John's Wort, which tumble from the roses and lavender to the paths at the borders, daylilies on the right and sage and oregano (not a particularly good idea) on the left side. The retaining wall is topped on the right with a series of 7 urns that punctuate the daylilies with cascades of petunias in the summer. The right side being larger, a niche is cut into the center of the sloped bank of St. John's Wort with a small retaining wall, against which is placed a bench.

The remaining terrace to the left, off the left intermediate terrace, contains an octagonal gazebo, called a "gloriette", and a barbecue. Both need rebuilding. Another project.

Very little of this was visible -- practically -- 8 years ago, when I saw it for the first time. The garden had not had a caretaker, a gardener, for many years, although some of the structures appear to date from 1991. While they knew how to build an ugly barbecue, they seemed unaware that plants require pruning, borders weeding, everything care.

The daylily border rid of the dead leaves from last year, left to protect the roots and help mulch against weeds, and the paths rid of the several tons of leaves the wisteria on the arch over the central stair is capable of dropping, I decided to undertake the biannual pruning of the linden trees, described yesterday and the day before. I have already exhausted two chains, after just these two trees. I did cut out a fair number of extraneous main branches that were growing into each other and making the canopies too dense. I hope that with them gone, more light will filter down to the ground below and give us some mottled sun, rather than deep shadow. Audouin lay in his sickbed, offering, "Tu travailles bien," and a weak smile every time I came up to see how he was faring.

In 6 1/2 years, I have never seen him not go to the hospital 2 days in a row. I avoided our room like the plague it promised, delivering glasses of water, Coca-Cola, orange-mango juice that went undrunk until yesterday, when the cortisone opened his swollen, angry throat enough to let him get some sips down. Before that, most everything came back up, the unpleasant way. I guess there is only one way it can, and it is unpleasant. I stood and watched him, waiting to see a sign that there was hope for a full recovery. It came yesterday with his first real smile.

The one that makes me wonder why I think I need to divorce him half the time, when I am really furious for one reason or another, and why suddenly seems frivolous.

I know it's time to get out of there and back to whatever I am doing, wherever there is, and whatever I am doing, when he smiles it.

He does deserve better, doesn't he?


We're all lovin' him

It looks like taking my advice to keep talking to the American people, which you have been so good at doing, and not to their elected representatives in Washington (for now), which no president is so good at doing (it's their job, as they see it, to resist you), is working, Mr. President.

OK, so I wasn't the one to whom he was listening, but I did say it, somewhere in here, back in January. Today's Wall Street Journal online article "Obama Gets Strong Support in Poll" shows that it's the way to go:

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama enjoys widespread backing from a frightened American public for his ambitious, front-loaded agenda, a new poll indicates.

He is more popular than ever, Americans are hopeful about his leadership, and opposition Republicans are getting drubbed in public opinion, the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests.

Which is one piece of good news as we have to swallow another less than palatible one, which is that the ex-leadership of Countrywide is profiting from the bad loans they offered that catapulted the global economy into catastrophic free-fall.

“It is sort of like the arsonist who sets fire to the house and then buys up the charred remains and resells it,” said Margot Saunders, a lawyer with the National Consumer Law Center, which for years has sought to place limits on what it calls abusive lending practices by Countrywide and other companies.
It figures. Win on the upside, and win again as it's all coming down around everyone else.

Is it that this requires a special talent, or merely the overriding of all personal ethics, which some of us seem unable to do?

Oh, it's nice to hear that this is at least helping some be able to hold onto their homes, with 50% decreases in their mortgage interest rates making their payments affordable again.

Of frogs and fish

Audouin was most certainly mistaken. It must have been his own voice croaking weakly in his feverish head that he heard because there is no sign from the frogs, somewhere in all that siltish muck.

I'm waiting.

The fish, on the other hand, appear to be taking courage in their little public housing project temporary residence in trash can and concrete block. I pulled one of the Eric Tabarlys over, the ones that have been sitting in pots, waiting for the house to be finished for replanting in their newly christened planting beds below the balcony (I hope they are as patient as I have to be, and Job), and let its oddly horizontally growing stem hang down over their concrete block and water. It makes a little reflection and gives them something to look at, like a crib toy.

It's raining. I won't be burning all of this pruned wood today. I guess I'll clean our bedroom and save the walk with the dogs for later. I missed our window of opportunity.

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