I found what I’ve needed all this time under the house, when we were fossicking for junk for Moxham’s barge – which still hasn’t come back, so the jetty is lettered with rubbish, and we have a hard time checking the fish traps. But there it was – a seed germinating box! complete with a perspex lid so inside, there’s a little eco-system! I carried it home from Aldi three years ago, guilty charmed, for I’ve had a secret longing for ages to become a gardener, though I’d sworn since a child never to be, for my beautiful, violent mother was one and I revolted against it, as i revolted against scrubbing, for she did little else.”It’s a woman’s achievement” she’d say of a line of washing that took three days – one day boiling in the copper, one day limp on the dipping line, one day ironing. So it was quite an achievement. And how I didn’t want to be a woman, if it was only to eradicate dirt. I was a monstrous grub in any house of my early years and no plants were allowed, not even a bunch of carnations! But I have come to love order, and began to scrub a little. You have to, incasing a child. Now the plague has completed my taming. I’ll become a farmer, with this little perspex box. I’ll be able to tell when the seeds germinate, what a spinach crop looks like.
So I dug up from a bare bit of the veggie garden- there’s quite a lot of bare bits – some nice chocolatey soil- there was even a worm in it!- I think that’s a good sign! -poured it first onto newspaper (kept for fires in winter) and checked through its richness for weeds, stones, roots, bulbs of weeds. Then I poured that into the bottom of the box an index-finger deep, and poked little holes with my finger for seeds. On the right-hand side, I popped spinach seeds in, on the left, cherry tomatoes. I hosed it well with the sprinkler setting- damp, not water-logged, as my students said. Then I put on its perspex lid and now it’s in the veggie garden to put the recalcitrant seeds to shame. Now I’ll have a crop! Two cropsI can hardly wait!
Also under the house,scouring for rubbish, we came upon a prawn net, left there by past owners. We gazed at each other in astonishment and horror. It’s made from wonderful dark blue thick meeting, like the proper fishermen’s nets I’ve seen in Greece, and it’s fashioned with a long funnel but with long trailing bits that we never knew what to do with. Tie them in a huge bow? Tie a rope around them? We put it away for when B came to cut trees again. He’s as agile as cat, as strong as an athlete, and full of bush and fish know how. He know-how to fish. He’d know how to use it, we’d said. And then, under the house, we forgot it.
We’ll figure it out, but not today, for Gordon’s poor shoulder is sore – he softly groans as he walks, that shoulder that’s meant to be mended in May but won’t be, not t least now for a year. We’ll need two people, one driving the boat, the other somehow managing the net. I When we’ve solved the puzzle of the trailing bits. I can’t imagine talking K into coming with us- its’ just too outdoorsy a thing to do. She’s terrified that the sun will burn her and end her days, and no amount of rationality, hers or mine, can change her mind. It’s part of autism, I suppose, this fixity of belief.
It rained again this morning, so we have lots of water, and I’ve done the washing. The washing machine is in a cubicle like a cave under the house, hung with spider webs and plugs. In all our fixing of the house, we’ve never got around to the laundry. We live as writers, and on so little money, it had to be spent on the necessities, and true to form, I never considered washing as one. Besides, even getting into the cave of a laundry is daunting. It takes all my skills as a dancer. To get into this cave, you must walk down a dirt track, careful not to bang your head on the frame of the house and careful not to slide because the path is steep, a with loose dirt. Then, pausing, you must do a dancer’s throw forward of one foot to land firmly onto the edge of a rock that otherwise holds up a house foundation, pause to recover your balance, throw your weight forward and at the right second, swing around the foundation in a pirouette and land on the other foot on the bricked in floor, at the same time, ducking under more spider webs that have been woven there since your last visit . All this holding a basket of dirty clothes on the jut of your hip. You activate the machine by plugging one cord into another but since there’s a choice of four cords, you can easily get it wrong and conclude that the machine machine is dead- as i did yesterday.
There’s another entry to the laundry by the back steps of the house – these steps are all of one piece of concrete and have taken lately to rocking with your weight- I must steady them by mixing enough cement into a bucket- not too little or it won’t work, and not too much since wet cement can’t be thrown out -tomorrow’s task. Or the day after. Anyway, down the rocking steps you go, and under the house- ducking your head under the frame of the house- and here’s the hard part, for you must jump over a hole made by an animal- a knee-high animal and as wide as me. I’ve tried to fill it in, but I’ve never found the right shoe rocks. But if you can negotiate that hole, this is an easier route to the washing machine. Again, holding at the jut of your hip, the washing.
And now I’ve hung the washing,using a stand and the rails of the deck.
Tonight K held a surprise zoom party for her friend Z. Surprise parties are treacherous events at the best of times, for the birthday person may not turn up, having decided not to come home from work but to visit their lover, grandmother or the shops. K waited all afternoon for it, fussing about whether zoom would work, fussing about whether her fellow party holders, Z’s friends, would be at their appointed spots on the appointed time, fussing about this, fussing about that. She was so worried, she’d only zoom from my computer because i’d zoomed before though only for teaching- she didn’t even trust her computer. Mum’s had done it once so it was trustworthy. She’d artfully texted Z and asked what was she doing for her birthday night, and Z replied she was having pasta at home with her housemates. The time between the zoomers was fixed for 6, then for 7, then for 7.30.
But the birthday girl didn’t turn up.
It was no good GG and I recounting stories of past surprise party disasters.She went to bed sad and I fear she’ll be very sad tomorrow.