Friday, 9 May 2014

Up and Down and Round and Round We Go

well. I was just sort of getting used to all the new things (new country, new unemployment, new spouse) when everything looks to be changing again, big-time. No idea how this will all pan out or where we'll end up - although I suppose that is nothing new really. On the plus side, this time I have a companion in uncertainty and a little bit of a nest egg set aside (!)

So yeah, it's been a rough week. I had a tough interview on Tuesday at Oxford. Two mini-talks and LOTS of tough questions. It went relatively well, but I found out after that I had a touch of a flu-like substance (stomach problems and fever). I had it on Sunday and Monday as well, but had chalked it up to nerves/anxiety about the interview. Anyway, it made answering the tough questions - even tougher. Still, they had me critique their grant and (by the looks on their faces) I DEFINITELY came up with a few points they hadn't thought of, even though I didn't have any substantial critiques - it was more adding/checking measures and more practical questions about actually running it.

Anyway. It's all about resilience, I guess. I think doing so much travelling and trying new things in the last fifteen years, although it is not a recipe for a settled life and money in the bank, has definitely given me the ability to take largish life changes more or less in stride.

I did, however, get my biometics and working papers back - and more importantly MY PASSPORT. Trip to Alberta has been booked May 17-June 4, with the end of that in Regina, because my friends are Westjetting me there so wasn't going to turn it down! Never been to Regina, so should be interesting. Looking forward to seeing everyone at Tim's wedding.

In other news, I have been busily planting an extensive container garden in the back of the house. There's quite a bit of yard available, including a patch that used to be a flower bed anyway (which now inconveniently has a cat buried in it so I would feel weird planting my veg there). Besides which, if we have to up and move I don't want to leave my garden! So the plan at the moment is to keep it more or less portable, except for one sunburst squash plant because those tend to go mad, and even if it grew well in a pot I don't think it would be very easy to move. I also planted a bunch of carrot troughs, and a herb Rubbermaid (working with what I've got available here!) plus a bunch of lettuce and rocket (arugula) and spinach for salads. I've improvised a mini-greenhouse with plastic sheeting I found in the shed and it all looks great so far.

Been continuing to help out at the churchyard and got some great photos at the beginning of April that I keep meaning to post. I really need to go back and take some more now that everything's starting to bloom. The butterfly garden (wildflowers etc) is starting to look really great. When I showed up a couple of weeks ago, one of the Ruths (for some reason most people involved with this project are called Ruth) cleared her throat in a very businesslike manner and barked, "Right! Everyone grab a spade: today we are digging up graves."

There was a long pause until I realised that we were only excavating the top layer, not the full six feet, as it were.

It appears as though there was a bit of a fad for putting a stone mini-fence around one's final resting place, circa 1898-1926 or so. There will usually be the gravestone proper on one end, with a small stone wall about three inches wide and maybe six inches tall around the remaining perimeter of the grave. Most of this time this wall is inscribed with the name of the dearly beloved and maybe a nice scripture verse (most faded by this point). Anyway, the point is that they look exactly like raised garden beds and function very well as such. As it's the centenary of the start of the First World War, the church committee decided to scrape the weeds out of a bunch of these that no longer have families around and plant poppies (both red and white). They got some cheap topsoil from somewhere and we have been busily scraping out, filling and planting these most macabre of raised beds.

Here are some photos of the blackbird in the toolshed (since gently convinced to move her nest up away from the rakes) and the churchyard from WAY back when:

 I love her cute little beady eyes and nest carefully constructed on tops of the rakes and brooms.

Didn't even have to use the zoom - she's cool with humans (the gardening type anyway) and let us get as close as we wanted. 

 Had more photos of my fave gravestones but must have deleted them before downloading. Whoops. But you get the idea...