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November Calendar Picture

November 1, 2014


A picture from Kew Gardens, and phew, was that a difficult one to find an ID for! Because googling for white passionflowers leads to lots and lots of pure white ones, and googling for passionflowers at Kew Gardens, I found out there is actually a variety called ‘Kew Gardens’  (and I want to have it). But now I’m pretty certain it’s Passiflora coriacea.

New and Old

October 27, 2014

I think at this point, I’ve spent years grumbling about my camera, and about how I should buy a new one… and now I finally have. It kind of does bother me to buy a new one while the old one still works, but I just don’t want to lug that old, slow brick around on my upcoming trip, and then come home and discover that half my pictures look like crap.

If you’ll excuse the terrible webcam picture, I just want to show you the size difference between my new camera (a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX350, if anyone’s interested in that) and the old one (Kodak EasyShare Z710):


And now I’ll get to what Peter – who has put a lot of time into researching and comparing cameras for me, and absolutely deserves some cake or something – has been asking me for: pictures!


Here’s what it looked like with the old camera:



And old:

(That’s the picture on the wall in the previous picture, by the way.)

New (the flash might even be a little too bright):

And old:

New (I’m neeming plants again. That’s the bathroom with no light other than the flash):

And old:


And old:

I have a couple more pictures, but those are the ones where I have direct comparisons, and I really need to go to bed.

Harvest Monday – October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014

I haven’t been harvesting so much as cleaning up my gardens – the one on the balcony and the one in the community garden – and occasionally finding something edible.


A few beans I must have missed when I picked what I thought were the last beans, and a pepper that suddenly landed in front of my feet.

Last year, I had the brilliant idea to plant my surplus Oxalis tetraphylla (Four-leaf Sorrel, “lucky clover”) bulbs in the community garden, since they have fleshy, edible roots. But then I was too lazy to harvest them, and already had so many bulbs from what I’d grown on the balcony that I didn’t know what to do with them… so I decided to just leave the Oxalis in the ground to freeze to death.

Only, the weather didn’t play along, and all the Oxalis came back in the spring. I picked out every single bulb I could find when I dug over the plot (and later, because I didn’t know what else to do with them, planted them, a handful to a pot, and took them in to sell at work) and still missed so many. The ground under my sweetcorn was so full of Oxalis, you couldn’t tell I had removed any at all.

So, the same thing all over again when I pulled up the corn and the weeds… diggging up all the Oxalis. This time, at least, it was a bit easier to find, since they still had leaves. I came home with a whole bucket of bulbs, and then spent the evening sorting them into bulbs for replanting and roots to eat.


(Oh, and I found a last tiny zucchini, too.)

I even sorted the bulbs into the ones with big roots, which I’ll plant again next year, and the ones with small or no storage roots, which I’ll sell at work again. Although I don’t know if the size of the roots actually has to do with genetics, or just with how much space and sunlight the plants had. But I suppose it can’t hurt to select for large roots…

And apparently, those were all of my harvests. Mostly, I have been eating the tomatoes I harvested a week ago. And I have no idea what is going on with these tomatoes… I have had siamese twin tomatoes before, but never one growing on top of the other like that. Makes me wonder what the flower looked like!


Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – October 2014

October 15, 2014

This time I even remembered to take pictures before it got dark. Although there’s not much to take pictures of this month…

Indoors, the begonia that never stops blooming…


On the balcony, nasturtiums:




Violas waiting to be planted:


And lots of Abutilons:





It may not be much, but for October, it’s still plenty.


Harvest Monday – October 13, 2014

October 13, 2014

Last week was the week for a lot of last harvests:

Last beans, last corn:


Last tomatoes (the green ones can ripen indoors):


And one sad-looking little endive:


And some ivy, which obviously I didn’t eat. I just needed it for this:



But that is a matter for another post, which I’ll hopefully write soon.

Treading Water, Swimming to Shore

October 12, 2014

s100_6173.jpg ferry

It’s been a weird year. I keep saying I’ve been lazy, but sometimes I don’t know if it’s been just that, with how unmotivated and uncreative and disinterested in all my passions I’ve been.

For months now, I’ve been feeling like I’m just keeping my head above water in a sea of chaos, but not getting anywhere.

Keeping the Nettle Nest acceptably clean, but never getting to things like organizing the bookcases or cleaning out the storage room in the cellar.

Meeting my reading goals, but never managing to make my TBR pile any smaller, or review any books.

Keeping my plants watered, but not propagating any of them or doing any other interesting thing with them.

Posting for Harvest Monday and Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, but not writing anything interesting.

Keeping up with my laundry, but not doing any of the mending that keeps piling up, let alone any sewing or knitting.

Doing my job, but not learning any new things that might be useful at work – or, really, learning anything new at all.

Living my life in comfortable, familiar places, at home, at work, hardly ever going anywhere but the grocery store, my mother’s and my best friend’s homes, never challenging myself with new places or experiences.

Just treading water, keeping from drowing, but not getting any closer to shore.

s100_9775.jpg Netherlands

I’ve always had phases where I got caught up in stupid online timesucks, sometimes games and quizzes and idiotic personality tests, sometimes silly youtube videos, sometimes fanfiction of everything I’ve ever read or watched (and sometimes even of things I don’t know at all), sometimes blogs that range from actually educative to mindlessly entertaining…

But I don’t think it has ever gone on as long as this, and it has never felt like this before, like everything was too much, too many things to do and each of them too much work. So I hid from them, doing only the most pressing things, letting the big stuff pile up. Just treading water, drifting further and further out to sea.

s100_9006.jpg Brighton

And it was such a shock to realize I have been drifting like this for months. Just drifting, not creating anything, not learning anything, not doing anything beyond work, stupid online timesucks, a little bit of cooking and cleaning, and sleep (and never enough of that).

It was books, really, that woke me up, a week of tearing through one good book after another and then thinking, “I haven’t done this in a long time.” And then realising there are so many things I haven’t done in a long time.

s100_2941.jpg Worthing

And it’s like that realisation was all I needed to want to do better, to start swimming again. And even if I don’t know where the shore is, or what this metaphorical shore is, at least I’m swimming again, repairing things, writing things, growing things, knitting things. Soaking up all the knowledge I come across, even if I’m still not actively seeking it out.

And sometimes, there are storms that blow me back out to sea, and it takes me days just to get back to where I was (like having a decent bicycle). But at least I feel well enough to start swimming again right away, to immediately start looking for solutions instead of moping for days (even if it was tempting.)

It’s still hard to shake the bad habits I’ve gained over the last few months – it’s difficult to do all the things I want to do when my brain is still craving silly, mindless entertainment. But I’m cutting back on it at least, an working on strategies to keep me swimming.

I still don’t know how far away the shore is, or what it’s going to look like, but I’ll get closer to it every day.

s100_0830.jpg Cervia

(Swimming was always the only exercise I enjoyed, anyway, and the only one I was kind of good at.)

And it’s only occurred to me while writing this post that I’ve been to quite a few seas already. The Mediterranean more times than I can count (because I don’t remember how often I was there as a child) (pictures 1 and 5), the North Sea twice (picture 2 and 6), the English Channel twice (pictures 3 and 4) and the Atlantic once as a child (and I don’t have any pictures of that here). And one of the things I’m swimming towards is crossing the Atlantic in just a few weeks to get to the World Fantasy Convention in Washinton, D.C., and then on to the Pacific to visit a friend in the Bay Area.

s100_6257.jpg Netherlands

I Feel a Little Threatened

October 8, 2014

Do you remember my Tetrastigma voinierianum that took over the curtain wire in the living room?

Well. It grew all the way across the room, past the balcony door and the big window (about 3 m) and then started growing back. First I had to pry it out from where it was trying to grow behind the crown molding, and then it lost its grip on the wire and is now doing this:


And since it’s a Tetrastigma, and they drop pieces when they aren’t happy, I often come home to this:



And this is a little worrying, because it sometimes drops a foot-long piece when it’s especially happy, and it’s hanging down right above the armchair where I prefer to sit, with my laptop, my books, my knitting and my food, and this what I see when I look up:


In fact, in a few days, it will probably brush the top of my head when I sit here. Unless it needs to declare its unhappiness with my watering before then, and falls down on my head. It’s already doing this (the blue thing is my shoulder):



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