Friday, August 30, 2019


Those of you who have been longtime readers will remember that Dave and I used to live in Notting Hill, in West London. This was the view from our bedroom window. I'm showing you this not because of that lovely (?) building across the street, but because of the plant on the windowsill. It's a dracaena that we bought at the Portobello Road market. This picture was taken on April 29, 2012 -- so, seven-plus years ago.

Here's that same plant today:

It still lives in our bedroom, albeit a different bedroom, and as you can see, it has become a tree. Our ceilings are almost ten feet high, and it's finally bumping up against them. (We have the same problem with our avocado tree in the living room.)

Obviously some pruning is in order, but I'm not sure yet how to do that. I'm thinking I'll cut one stalk at a time -- the tree should then branch out at that point, and once there's some greenery there I can cut another stalk. That way the tree will always have some leaves. But if I get impatient I may just cut it all at once. It's a pretty durable plant.

No doubt you've been reading that Boris Johnson intends to suspend Parliament beginning next month. His proposal has caused a lot of drama, with some people accusing him of subverting democracy. I am no expert in British politics, but from what I can tell, it's not quite as bad as it sounds -- Parliament doesn't normally sit for part of September anyway, for something called "party conferences," and he's extending that time period by about 11 working days. On the other hand, 11 days can make a difference in terms of government action before Brexit, which is scheduled for Oct. 31.

Johnson insists he isn't trying to stifle debate before Brexit, but clearly that's what he's doing. I think he just wants to get it done, with a minimum of further dithering. Problem is, his plan for getting it done -- to the extent that there is one -- could ultimately be fairly harmful. The verdict depends on who you ask, of course.

I think in the interest of public debate it's a mistake for Johnson to make this move, but I'm also not sure it's ultimately going to make much difference. Either way it looks like I'll be getting Brexit for a birthday present. (My birthday is Nov. 2.) If it were up to me I'd send it back, but you just have to make the best of some ghastly gifts, right?


  1. Would you consider a little Brexit lesson on Shadows and Light? I honestly don't quite grasp what it's all about and would appreciate a simple tutorial.

  2. I have a lot of those plants. When they get too tall( I have done this twice now so I know it works !) cut the stems off about 12 inches from the base, thus leaving bare stems..... keep them in a quiet place and water occasionally and they will sprout several new growths from the top. Re the top bits.....cut off about 6 or 9 inches of the top, pull off some of the bottom leaves and pot up in smallish pots.......they will also grow new plants! ( I will take photos to show you how they look afterwards)
    Hope tomorrow goes OK.

  3. Receiving Brexit for your birthday will be like receiving an awful polyester Christmas sweater that does not fit and has gravy stains down the front. Probably picked up from a jumble sale by Mr Mophead - he of the bumbling illogical conversation, hot air balloon-sized ego and Johnny Winter hair.

  4. Let's face it, it's an ugly plant. But we also have two of these. We've cut them back to almost nothing a couple of times and they grow up just as ugly and without a bother.
    I was once promised shiny green leaves, blooms (!!) and dramatic splendour but, nada. And yet, I blame my insufficient care and the dry central heating air in winter and keep on expecting.

    As for explaining Brexit to Elizabeth, here's a good explanation from Ellen Hawley, author, blogger, US migrant living in Cornwall:

  5. A plant that has mirrored the growth of a relationship x

  6. I like what John said.
    Why is the world so insane right now? Just- why?
    What in hell is going on?

  7. We had a similar tree that grew from a smidge of a plant in one of those baskets you send to folks instead of flowers. I don't remember where it came from though - maybe my mother's funeral? In any case, it finally died, probably from being in too small of a pot. But it was fun for many years!

  8. Wow, your plant is gorgeous. I wouldn't know how to trim it. I tried to trim a rose tree one year, and it died. As for the politics, that's not one of my better subjects. Your birthday is almost the same as mine. Mine is the fourth. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  9. Brexit will happen but then what happens after that. There will still be much opposition. the opposition isn't going to go away.

  10. Some plants grow to fill the space above them, I've heard. Ten foot ceilings are nice to have. As for Boris, I read something today--that he has suspended parliament, compared to the US legislature, which has become "a wholly owned subsidiary." At least there is some hue and cry from parliamentarians in Boris' own party. Here, the Republicans are meek as mice. I second Elizabeth's request for a Brexit tutorial. I'm not clear on all the ins and outs, I just know it's something of a disaster.

  11. Wow, that plant is unbelievable. That is a lot of growth.
    As for Boris, it was all over the news here two days ago with lots of speculation and a lot of comparisons of him with Trump. I'm not sure what to think. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I'm with you, the whole thing seems to be a bad idea.

  12. That is quite a plant. It obviously loves being with you and Dave.
    Thank you for explanation of Boris Johnson's political maneuverings. I don't really understand politics there (parliaments and royalty), so it helps to read your perspective.

  13. I don't think you can hurt a dracena no matter how you prune it. and what a great bank of windows in your bedroom! I have no opinion of Brexit, only what my host said the day after the vote when I was in Scotland for the symposium...stupid stupid people.

  14. I'm wondering if, in those 11 days, Parliament could pass a vote of no confidence, forcing
    Johnson to call yet another election.

  15. How bad do you think a no-deal Brexit will be?

  16. exchange that BD present! Or get store credit, a no deal is horrific. Anyway, plants don't seem to care, they just grow and grow. Our ficus is taking up half of the room, what to do?

  17. Wow -- to think that plant is that tall and it's just growing in a pot! Good luck with the pruning. Sounds like Frances has the answer to the "how".

    Too bad you can't re-gift this particular birthday present. Considering the far-reaching effects, I really think there should have been a second referendum, preceded by a massive educational campaign. I've read that many who voted to leave regretted it, and say they didn't really understand the consequences. There should have been a concerted effort to educate folks before the FIRST vote, but better late than never. An uneducated vote undercuts the true democratic process.

  18. The plant problem is solved - or it will be when you get the saw to work... I like John Gray's comment.
    As for a Brexit tutorial - excuse me while I double up with hysterical laughter. Not, I add hastily, at your inability to put your take on it into an easily understood piece of writing, but who the hell has any idea what's really going on?
    It's like following a really bad B grade serial. And some of the posts and comments written by British people make me want to scream. They seem to have no idea about the basics of their political system.
    Ah, the joys of the internet.

  19. Elizabeth: The problem is, no one is quite sure how it's going to shake out. I'll definitely write more about it as it happens! See Sabine's link -- I haven't looked at it yet but it looks promising and I trust her recommendation!

    Frances: Glad to know you've found them so easy to deal with! I'm not sure I want to root those upper parts. How many of these crazy plants do we really need?! LOL

    YP: I'd much rather have the sweater. :/

    Sabine: Blooms?! I've never heard of one of these plants blooming, though I suppose they must, eventually. I actually like them, though this particular variety has very stiff, pointy leaves. I like the ones with looser, curved leaves (like the one to the left in the picture of the tree).

    John: Indeed! What a nice observation. Maybe I shouldn't prune it! LOL

    Ms Moon: It does sometimes seem like the world is insane. I don't want to sound paranoid but Russia really has helped foment all this crazy nationalism throughout Europe and the Americas.

    Bug: That's the thing about being an indoor tree. There's only so much you can grow!

    Edna: A fellow Scorpio!

    Red: Who knows. It's all such a crazy roller-coaster. Some people say we'll have terrible food and medicine shortages; other people say nothing much will be different in our day to day lives. And you're right, the ill effects will drag on for years.

    37P: That's an interesting observation and a valid criticism!

    Sharon: The jury's still out on Boris, as far as I'm concerned. I don't think he's quite as bad as Trump. I think he's more skilled and capable, but of course that could be a bad thing, depending on his objectives!

    Robin: Well, it wasn't much of an explanation, and there's a lot I don't understand, too!

    Ellen: Your host was right, IMHO! And yes, we love our windows.

    Catalyst: They could, but the fear is that Johnson would then schedule an election AFTER the Brexit deadline -- effectively forcing us out of the EU anyway.

    Allison: I honestly have no idea. I don't take any special medicines or have any strict dietary requirements, so I think I'll personally cope OK. But I have no idea what it will do to prices or travel or that kind of thing.

    Linda Sue: Enjoy that big ficus! I'm approaching Brexit like a plant. I'll coexist with it no matter what.

    Jenny-O: Way too many people took that first vote too lightly, or as you said, didn't understand the ramifications.

    Alphie: Exactly! A tutorial is hard to write because NO ONE KNOWS what's going to happen. How will Northern Ireland cope, for example? I honestly have no idea.

  20. I am a Libra full and true. If my scales are not balanced then the realm of Beth is nothing but emotion and chaos. But you have the same birthday as my Daughter In Law. How awesome. Me, I am October 11th. Just in time for a cool down I hope.

    I still have no idea about Brexit and I am lost every time I read about it.

    I love your plant. I hope you have success in trimming it up..