As autumn approached this year I was looking forward to splashing photos of my beloved Japanese maples all over the blog. Then there was too much going on at home and in the world; they seemed out of place and the moment passed. So I will send all of you – the happy, the sad, the politically bruised, the new parents, the newly bereaved, the travellers and the homebodies, the ordinary and extraordinary people who drop into my blog – some maples for Christmas.
Below one of the nine maples that have seeded over the years beginning to grow in beauty.
And the alternative Christmas tree…
Have a wonderful holiday season, and see you next year.
Old shed. It has done 27 years and the roof and floor are slowly being chewed up. The new one has arrived and will be assembled on Friday. Meanwhile, I have become very thin in order to dig out a sludge of earth, stones and roots from the narrow passage at the back of the shed.Some of my beloved maples are coming into leaf and all my transplanted seedlings seem to be thriving. This is Sango Kaku. The one below may not look much yet, but I’ll post another photo in a couple of weeks time.
And then there’s the ivy. We have taken three loads to the dump and filled four of the big green bins, and there’s still plenty left. In between these activities, I’ve been trying to finish setting the text of the private family version of Surviving the Death Railway: A POW’s Memoir and Letters from Home, and organising the launch party for the published version.
Oh, and feeding the hedgehog. That’s spring for you.
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.
I’ve been away from my blog for a few days saying a final goodbye to my 102-year-old uncle. He was indomitable, subversively funny, and energetic beyond imagining – for instance he celebrated his eightieth birthday by climbing eight Munros (Scottish mountains over 3000 feet). He was the last living close family member of my parent’s generation, and with his death we are now the front line. So be it.
We travelled up to the Highlands of Scotland, through a beautiful autumnal England and said goodbye in brilliant sunshine. I meant to take photos, but was too involved talking to the family. As we left yesterday it rained and I took one photo. This road leads up a steep hill to the house that he and my aunt built in the 1970s, and where we spent many happy holidays walking in the Cairngorms.
Here, instead, are some images of autumn from further south.
It seems I will never get used to the sight of the new leaves on Japanese maples. Lucky me. Going around and checking the young leaves for black-fly is one of my hopeless antidotes at the moment for my depression over the election results.
Acer palmatum Sango-kaku
Acer palmatum Matsukaze
And biggest excitement of the maple year – a new baby.
Every May there is another excitement – the return of the martins. We were a little apprehensive about their reactions, as we had knocked out two of their three regular nests in order to paint the bargeboards round the house. However they are back and seem to be sharing the one nest while building next door. This is a pair.
If you thought the photos of the martins were poor, try my ‘art house’ video of frogs. Actually, best shut your eyes and listen. It is only 9 seconds. It expresses some of my censored comments at the moment.
Or Threadgold Press up the creek with not much more than a couple of lollipop sticks.
When you decide to self-publish it’s a good idea to remember that what you are taking on is at least six people’s jobs. You have to park the fact that you are the author and settle down at your desk. First you become a typesetter, an editor, a designer and a proofreader. Then your Office Manager gets down to the practical stuff of commissioning the printing, and getting it sorted and delivered (and hiring heavies to persuade everyone you know to proofread… again), then the Catering Manager organises the launch party and the Publicity Manager takes care of the press releases and the local newspapers and talks. The Marketing Manager emails every person you have ever met and persuades them to buy an advance copy. At which point the office supply personnel get busy with the packaging, the stamps, while the Accountant keeps records of sales and the paperwork to go with the orders. The IT Advisor sorts out (or fails to sort out) the glitches with the Amazon system for uploading e-books and images.
What have I left out?
The office staff let the author out this morning for a ten minute run around the garden. She got a little over-excited by her ‘Maple nursery’ (seedlings of Matzsukaze and Sengokaku) in autumn glory. And some brave autumn crocus mixed with primroses (!) But she is back at her desk now, happily parcelling up an order for three more books (and worrying about whether the print run will last until publication day).
It’s even more DIY than last time round. The City newspaper, has asked the author to provide her own article ‘From the Author’s Mouth’ and supply book-cover image and author photo. The local farm shop is kindly allowing her to sign books in their cafe on the release date. Ah well, she can now drink the ginger wine – a thank you yesterday from the group at the sheltered housing in the village who, in spite of multiple challenges, listened sweetly to her babbling on about the joys of writing.