Green Thumbs and Well-Thumbed Books

This morning I was sitting in my bed. It is situated in a position that lets me see out to the balcony while a well-placed mirror allows me to see the birds who grace me with their songs and their joyful little natures. It is a delightful view and a wonderful distraction to the ramblings of my currently rather tired mind. Activity is an occupation I shall not be indulging in for some weeks to come and although I have never craved 100-mile hikes, I would be happy right now if I could just make it to the laundry room without feeling the three flights of stairs getting there and back possesses the same attributes as climbing Kanchenjunga.
Before my readers puzzle over my cryptic writing, I shall be open enough to admit I have recently undergone surgery to remove an organ which chose to misbehave and was causing me enough misery for me to agree with the medical profession that removal was the best course of action. As hysterectomies are quite common and a thoroughly run of the mill procedure everyone is familiar with, I shall not bore you any further. What the literature and all the learned pundits neglect to mention is what it actually means to rest for 6 weeks. Easier said than done, my friends.

Of course, a chair does not a balcony make. Though I do admit, these are quite comfortable particularly as they require no effort to turn into a lounge chair.

What makes a balcony is the plants.

And my little visitors.

It was initially for them, that I decided to grow my own green vale. With habitats disappearing and with so many people choosing concrete over greenery while resorting to the excuse “I don’t have a green thumb,” I decided I would do something to change a little piece of the planet, namely the patch I occupy. Now before anyone asks, which they might, my balcony is west facing. However, I grow lavender, marigolds, nasturtiums and morning glories without any problems. Even north-facing balconies have a whole plethora of plants which will be perfectly happy with more shade. With a little thought and consideration, even the smallest balcony in the least desirable direction can be turned into a refuge, not just for birds and bees but for you.
I feed the birds year-round. Yes, that might seem accessive but they do get a reduced diet in the summer. There are many schools of thought on this. Most people believe birds find enough food in their general environs, which is essentially true but…

Switzerland is the land of beautiful scenery and lovely cheese but it is also the home to ridiculous weather. We can have 28°C today and snow tomorrow, as we did last year when it snowed in June. It is erratic, to say the least, and no, it did not start when everyone started calling it global warming. Switzerland has a rather interesting geography and much of what happens is thanks to those glorious mountains, everyone marvels at.’s%20climate%20is%20heavily%20influenced,winter%20falls%20mainly%20as%20snow.

It is in fact so interesting our meteorological department calls it the “Specialities of the Swiss Climate”.
Swiss climate is characterised by a number of regularly occurring weather patterns and other routinely occurring phenomena: They range from snowfall during spring, a cold snap in June to fog and Indian summer in autumn. The weather service MeteoSchweiz is analysing these events and putting them into longer-term climatological context.

Or as those of us who live here, just call it “psycho weather”.

With such bizarre climactic behaviour, it is even more important to be vigilant of the effects it has on the little creatures who do not have comfy heated houses and full fridges. There is nothing sadder than watching a bird pecking a bone dry earth in the vain hope of finding breakfast. I populate my flower pots with earthworms as often as possible – good for my plants and a larder for my birds. As for the bees, the bee hotel is a new venture. I did not expect it to be populated but decided I would give it a try anyway. What I have learned thus far – place it in a quiet, sunny, sheltered spot and in your life, no matter how curious you are, leave it alone. You don’t like people peeping in your windows either.
It is not a “no maintenance family fun project” as my neighbours believe, who have stuck their bee home next to the kiddy sandpit in the garden and sadly close to the outside barbecue. They haven’t had any success with theirs. Bees and insects are what give us our flowers and essentially our food too. They need the right environment to live and they deserve as much respect as you would give your four-legged friends. An insect home requires a little work. I would like to thank the Entomologist Lounge for giving me the tools to start my own.

Now I am not militant nor radical even though my words might appear so. I just feel sad that with so little you can do so much more. A pot of lavender on your windowsill isn’t much effort. And it looks pretty. Sucks to not having a green thumb. I don’t believe you. You learn about plants and if you listen, they will teach you.

Geranium himalayense
Lavendula angustifolia

The Books

Of course, I now have plenty of time to read. However, tiredness does not permit me to do any severe research at the moment so my poor site, currently sitting quietly. I will try to put something up in the next few days just so my readers do not walk away from despair. However, I am also finicky enough to not put up a substandard post, but that is me. So please have a little patience with this humble writer.

What do I read? I alluded in my last post to my papered friends.
I will not give you my booklist, instead, I shall show you my books.

Bedside reading

I can hear the bibliophiles howling in a rage – my books are not in order! They are stacked haphazardly in inadequate cubbyholes! Dewy decimal has been abandoned for wanton randomness. Well, I can find what I am looking for. And before you ask, yes I have read all of them, some of them several times. You don’t just invite your friends for dinner once in a lifetime either. I keep books I know I will read again. Please note there is a singular lack of modern Western literature. I simply can’t get my head around most of it. Besides Anita Desai is a better writer of characters than E.L. James ever will be. And I don’t have to be ashamed to own Desai’s books. Unfortunately, I believe what people read says a lot about who they are. I know my collection puts me squarely in the “antiquated, old dear who likes a little fantasy on the side,” if that is a category – if it isn’t, I just invented it. I won’t tell you what I think of people who staunchly declare 50 Shades of Grey is a fine piece of literature. This is, after all, a friendly post. Have I read that book? Someone left a copy on the train once. I browsed through it and if I had been born with no manners I would have laughed hysterically. I especially enjoyed reading

“And from a very tiny, underused part of my brain – probably located at the base of my medulla oblongata near where my subconscious dwells – comes the thought: He’s here to see you.”

Very tiny and underused indeed.
I was thinking of keeping the copy to style a drinking game from it – find the most rubbish quote and take a very large drink. Instead, I threw it in the bin. So no, I have not read the whole book.

If I want raw realism, I will take Shasthi Brata. When I am homesick, I have Ruskin Bond. When it rains, I can turn to W.Somerset Maugham. I have Kipling when I want to travel and Neil Gaiman when I want to go away. G.W.Dalqhust takes me on wonderous penny dreadful journies of harrowing adventures. Richard Holmes feeds my historical moments, and Charles Allen fills in the gaps. Victorian ghost stories hold more horror than anything on Elm Street. There are books for joy, for tears and for rage. My well-thumbed friends to whom I owe the very salvation of my soul for solace for any occasion. Many of these I have carted around the world and shall continue to do so as long as life permits.

I also own encyclopedias and various dictionaries.

Cylcopedias in hand, I believe I can weather the most boring of days. After all, who can resist the wonders of encyclopedias? From the time I could read, encyclopedias have been my favoured literature, next to dictionaries. Yes, I can read the old German script. It made learning German far more interesting.

The multifaceted umbrella, Der neue Brockenhaus, 1938.
Earth and our place in the universe, Pears Cyclopaedia, October 1930

So I shall now return to my bed, Today, I shall have Tigers for Dinner.

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