Sunday, April 23, 2006

Digging in

I’m writing this from the porch; it’s been a beautiful sunny day, the temperature in the high sixties, a gentle breeze motivating the variegated shrubbery of the front yard which continues to flourish quite despite us. I have absolutely no idea what most of these plants are in fact, save the lavender, rosemary and a Japanese Maple which is apparently a tangible asset. I thought I had killed it off through neglect last autumn, but it’s somehow rejuvenated itself.

I believe we have been "nesting", this being the euphemistic term for the rapid reorganisation of one’s environment for the imminent arrival of chaos. “Digging in,” “shoring up,” or “entrenching” are all perhaps more accurate. The “office” (personally I prefer the functionally inaccurate term “study,” but have found myself bowing ever more frequently to local custom on such matters; not so much because I am “going native” but rather the reverse – I no longer fear the possibility of going native or the belief that adopting such terminology will compromise my identity… I suppose it would be heartening to think I no longer have an identity, like David Bowie in that film, but then again I’m a bit old for such Nietzchian puffery; yes, I said “puffery” - be grateful I didn’t say “applesauce”)… as I was saying, the office has become the “nursery,” transformed from pistachio green to ice blue and currently awaiting a Winnie-the-Pooh trim for which I displayed mild disapproval, as I have always held it wrong to patronise children with mawkish sentimentality. However I am clearly outgunned by the establishment on this point. We have also been donated a crib by my ex-colleague and ongoing "drinking buddy" Chris… a loan whose overwhelming generosity took several weeks to sink in as I had it in my mind that a crib was a cradle (i.e. a shoebox on runners type of affair) whereas it is in fact a “cot”.

Meanwhile the “bonus” room behind the dining room has become the new office. This I painted white to match the ceiling, only to discover on completion of the task was that the ceiling was not in fact white after all, but a sort of mushroom grey. Still, it is churlish to complain about these machinations; at least we have the space to repurpose, I have no idea how we could have coped at Green Wall.

Thanks to the wonder of the internet, specifically, we have recently come in contact with a group of fellow expats, who we joined last night for a curry downtown. As you might imagine from a group formed on such a random pretext, we’re a pretty mixed bunch, with more than enough characters to consolidate the reputation of English eccentricity amongst the altogether more civilised native populace. The standout has to be Tamara, however, who can only be described as Portland’s answer to Domino Harvey. Expelled from boarding school, divorced three times “from a black man, a white man and a woman… I am now looking for a Latino paraplegic,” she now works as a deputy sheriff for Multnomah County, because "it pays very well and I get to point a gun at people." The evening gradually metamorphisised from the sublime to the ridiculous when American britophile Nelson produced a cake to celebrate St George's Day (who knew?) and Bob, the event's organiser, duly toasted the Queen. I chorused in with "...and her fascist regime". I vetoed a move to the Horsebrass (only good to remind me of what I don't miss) and instead found myself at the far superior Belmont Inn, where the White Russians are served in pint glasses. Try getting that at the Lewes Arms. Go on, I dare you. In the front bar.

Horticultural quiztime

This is just to get you warmed up. Nestled to the left of the rosemary and lavender like a lime-green Cousin It is the Japanese Maple. Worth $$$ according to Dr Leon. Tougher than it looks.

Cute little flowers, but what are they? Stems look a bit tulip like. I s'pect this is an easy one. Comment on this post and let me know.

This might be a bit trickier. I call it the triffid, but that is unlikely to be the case as triffids are ficticious. Seems to be composed primarily of sinister looking pods and may be of extra terrestrial origin. Or perhaps it's just a foxglove or somesuch. If you know the truth, don't hold back.