she who keeps this diary

26 January 2004 - 12:45 PM


Many many great-grandmothers, I'm sure, Rosine. The first of my Swedish ancestors to hit American shores was my great-great-grandfather, a shipwright from Göteborg, who arrived in the US in the late 1860s. Well, the first of my Swedish ancestors on Daddy's side. Maman has turned over a Swedish ancestor on her own -- a cavalry officer and veteran of the 30 Years War who was posted to the Christiana colony in the 17th century. He took his whole family with him, and when the assignment was up he took them back to Sweden, but not before one of his daughters married the son of an English settler in Pennsylvania.

As for being lured over to the dark side permanently, don't count on it. I love my big Burgundian hats and gowns too much, and I have too much invested, in money and time and emotion, in the fifteenth-century persona.

I sympathise with the houseplant problem. People tend to assume that because I garden, I must want my house full of green growing things too. I don't.

I have an African violet, which I like because it is neat and tidy and, given a favourable window, low-maintenance. I have a small variegated ivy, a tiny Laurel tree (my totem shrub) and a jade plant which a coworker gave me as a housewarming present. The jade plant would not normally have a claim to my heart, but it has gotten quite large, and except for remembering to water it once a month in the winter, I don't have to take care of it. During the summer I put it out on the deck and let the rains fall on it as they will.

The other potted plants around the house are waiting either to be planted out or humanely destroyed. One of my students gave me a huge pot of poinsettias at Christmas, and they've been locked up in the (dark, cold, unused) front bedroom where the cats can't nibble at them, but they obstinately refuse to die. The small sedum I took as a cutting from the one at my sister's house should be large enough to plant out in the spring. The miniature rose bush shouldn't even still be alive, but since it is tenacious, I will find it a home in the border when the weather warms.

I bought the miniature rose to be a centrepiece for Easter dinner last spring. I paid all of $5 for it at the supermarket and all I wanted it to do was last through Easter Sunday. After the family had departed, I put it out on the deck where the cats wouldn't eat it and left it to its own devices.

Sometime in late May I bothered to look at it again, and it was covered in powdery mildew. I was not surprised; May was unusually wet and modern rose breeders do not, in general, select for disease resistance. I suspect a secret collaboration between them and the people who sell pesticidal and fungicidal sprays, and I refuse to take part in their evil plot. Any rose that cannot survive without spraying is a demmed weakling, a waste of space and money, and I'll have no truck with it.

Imagine my surprise, then, in July when I looked again, and not only had it fought off the mildew, but was actually blooming. It looked ... healthy.

It still looks healthy. I have it on one of my kitchen windowsills, and it has fine glossy foliage. No flowers, but the windowsill is cold, so I don't really expect it to bloom. Nevertheless, it clearly wants to live, and I have a soft spot in my heart for scrappy little creatures.

Happy snow day, everyone. Stay home, drink warm things, and nap.

verso - recto

The WeatherPixie

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