My back aches.
I have been (willingly) chained to my desk for the past few weeks creating an index for my Far East POW book. It’s an occupation for the obsessive list-maker and one I didn’t expect to enjoy, but it has its satisfactions. It has also raised multiple research questions. I hang my head with embarrassment over the number of tiny textual errors I have discovered in the process. Yet everything discovered is one less error in the published version.
On Thursday the sun came out and I played truant from my desk for several hours to plant up my nursery of seedling maples – all offspring of Matsukaze or Sengokaku. I started with a pot or two and some compost…and then I needed the big cutters for some roots and more leaf mould and, and, and… By the time I started to clear up, the sun was going down.I know it all looks very dull now but there are eight Japanese maple seedlings between one and three years old in pots or in the ground, and in a couple of months they will be trembling with new leaves.
As I left a Robin circled over my working area and sat in the nearby tree to assess the changes to his territory.
Back to my desk, much refreshed.
It’s amazing how some time outside can clear our heads and get us primed for the next work session. 🙂
You are right. I always forget this, and hammer away at my desk thinking I’m going to finish stuff and then get out.
Gardening is good for so many things in life! I’m amazed at how green your world is in February.
Yes the best restoration available. The UK stays pretty green in winter, but this year we haven’t really had a winter (though it may yet come) and it has also rained MUCH more than normal for the last two months.
Hello Hilary, I just found your blog (I am a new blogger on WordPress). Sitting in my New York City apartment on a gloomy, rainy day it was truly a breath of fresh air! I am also very interested in your Far East WWII POW project. In case you haven’t already read “The Jungle is Neutral” by F. Spenser Chapman you might glean some background for your index. It was first published in 1949 about his 4 years spent as a guerilla in the Japanese occupied Malaysian jungle.
Thanks for the very early spring escape!
Hello Florence, I could see your comment on my dashboard but I have only just found it here! my proofs and index went to the publishers on Thursday, but I have ordered the book and shall read it with interest. The book is confined to the POW experience and to the families back in Britain, but as you might imagine, my reading has taken me further afield.
Did you start the little trees from seeds? I wish I knew how to do that with Japanese maples.
This is just luck. For some reason, about three years ago, two of the Japanese maples set seed in the ground around them (a layer of small bark chips), there were also a couple of seedlings from Japanese maples elsewhere in the garden in pots or ordinary soil. Ever since then, I have come across new miniature seedlings in the spring, though they don’t all survive and they grow VERY slowly.
Aha. I was just feeling envious because my J. maples never gave me seedlings….
Always good to garden. I get the same benefits with some cooking.
Cooking is OK, but I prefer gardening, you can use more energy and you get to see the results for a little longer.
Such opposite endeavors…..opposites are good for each other!
Absolutely! I wrote my first novel while writing up my PhD and I was amazed at how much each one was a rest cure and a stimulus for the other.
I am glad you are getting garden visitation rights. I’m pretty sure that’s in the Geneva Convention.
It was in my marriage lines!
Happy looking garden, Hilary. And it seems that Robin approves. Always important to have pet approval. Glad you were able to work in a break. –Curt
Thanks, the proportions don’t feel right at the moment, I’m lucky to get a few hours a week. I shouldn’t complain, at least the major work will be complete by the end of winter… winter? um we still haven’t had one.
We are lucky here. So far we are at about 130% for the snow in the surrounding mountains. Another storm of two should take us out of the drought category, at least for this year. –Curt
I cannot imagine how demanding creating your index must be, and knowing how to format the entries. No wonder you escaped to the outside world.
It is a challenge, but do-able. My extremely patient husband is now helping to check every single entry (13 pages and multiple entries for every person or place indexed). We will arrive one day.
I’ve seen photos of your garden in full bloom and it’s nice to see it starting over again. Isn’t it somewhat like writing. Our style is our garden but there’s always something new to add to it. You are blessed to be surrounded by two great passions.
Indeed, I’m extremely lucky to have both a garden and a lovely workroom and the freedom to use both. I am dreaming of getting back to the novel started a couple of years ago and set aside for this project. So I have plenty to look forward to.
You are quite ambitious with your garden but I am sure the results will be worth it. Digging in the dirt can do wonders for you and provide a needed break from the desk. All the best for the gardening and writing! My writing is more limited and my gardening is confined mostly to herbs and flowers in pots in the back yard.
You are right, getting out, even for an hour or so and working with nature makes a great antidote to desk work. It is amazing that, however big or small our ambitions, they fill all the hours.
Hilary, from where do you get such energy??? Wow!!!
Energy? I am running a little short of it sometimes. Actually, it’s not the energy, so much as the time, that is in short supply… no cure for that, I’m afraid.
Your weather looks rather nice, Hilary. The poor trees and green-life here are so confused. The young saplings in our backyard are budding already, despite it being in the single-digits (Fahrenheit) overnight, with 25-mph wind gusts and snow on the ground, with a dusting expected tonight [owing to a handful of 60- and 70-degree days a week or three ago]. Climate change is really doing a number on life here in the Midwest. It looks lovely what you’re doing, though.
Oh, I well remember indexing for the journals (medical) I worked on, once upon a time. We had really good indexers associated with “my” journals; still, the perfectionist proofreader in me loved catching the rare error in those. I hope the proofreading and indexing and all are proceeding well; best wishes for that part of the process!
Thanks for understanding. I have just checked every entry with my husband (over several days) and I am now working through the annotations. I slipped out earlier to cover a tree peony the thinks new leaves and fat buds are a good idea in February – we are due to drop to freezing point tonight. Poor confused gardens, we are going to have to learn new ways to look after them (and to cut our energy consumption).
I have to stop reading your blog from my own desk. Your lovely photographs and garden are making me despondent. All I can see are trains, umbrellas and concrete. I must poster over the windows. Having said that, I still loved your post. I suppose I’m complicated like that.
Yes, I’m sickeningly lucky… but I served my time in concrete surroundings in the back ends of Brixton and Deptford (a studio in the ex-strip bar of a rough pub) in the 70s. Stay complicated.
How is your back now?
Um, worse, but I am about 48 hours from sending in the finished index and second proofs and it will survive that far. My back and I have an agreement about how far it I can push it. Thanks for asking.
Have you ever tried a chiropractor, I hurt my neck overdoing a dance move and a few tweeks here and there and I recovered really quickly, before I saw him I couldn’t move my head. He also recommended sitting on a large exercise ball at my desk (not sure I felt the benefit of that one).
Got an A3 for my ballet module today, so happy I haven’t completely lost my technique but it was hard work getting back up to fitness 😊. I could do with some of your organisational skills my latest module is Historical Italian Operas.
I am thinking of getting a Swedish exercise ball, my future son-in-law uses one and I like it very much. My back is fine, but I need more garden and less desk for sure. Well done on the ballet module. I really know about the hard work that involves as I did it very seriously through school and my twenties. Enjoy the Italian operas. Personally I prefer the period from Donizetti onwards, but he does plenty of historical ones.
Glad about your back being better. Just started on bel canto and Donizetti for the first time loving it. I didn’t choose the Italian module it chose me 😳 heavy first lecture!
A day in the yard is better than any writing class.
Outdoors is good, but I find it works both ways, so if I have too much of one, then the other feels like a holiday.
Hilary, hope you are well. I’ve actually been working as of recent. In the meantime, I thought you may be interested: Nagasaki: It was simply astounding, nothing left standing for miles, everything flat and burnt out. – http://wp.me/p2jwcG-6W