Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Talk is cheap

Not too long ago I made light here of the whole hair-going-grey thing. And then I noticed that I did not get through the recent Time of Distress entirely unscathed. ACK! It's not a case of turning white overnight but, um, definitely a lot more grey.


Usually my procrastinations are productive. Now, and especially since I met three of the crazed deadlines (leaving just three more for the week, and it's only Tuesday, right?), I am procrastinating in front of the mirror, willing the wiry strands of gray to curl again and be other colours. I am trying to keep this very much in perspective since really, I have so many things to be enormously grateful for... but this is not how I envisioned getting older. You know, looking different than I have for the past 20-odd years. And maybe that's the trouble - usually change is so gradual you accept it as you go along. The sudden shift on the part of my lid, not so much.

All of which is to say that today is the first day of my summer holiday, and I will be spending some of it getting a new haircut, and hoping that it will somehow make the grey look cool, or at least a little bit like it's a natural transition from the old me.

And if it doesn't, I am definitely having ice cream.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rainy day garden surprises

There were some surprises waiting for me in the garden yesterday when I went out in the rain to take outdoor shots of a hat I knit (yes, sometimes silliness is rewarded).

I treated myself to a clematis years ago, when my friend Kris Neri's book Revenge of the Gypsy Queen came out and I spotted this 'Gypsy Queen' variety in my favourite nursery. I thought it would bring Kris good luck to have her title growing in another part of the world, but the plant didn't do so well where it was, so I moved it.

And look!

The biggest bloom I can remember, and just a couple of weeks after Kris wrote to say the book has been reissued! We're both lucky. And so will you be if you order a copy - it's such a fun story.

I didn't give up hope on clematis when the Gypsy Queen didn't work out, so a few years ago I tried this one:

I unraveled it from the rose bush the other day and propped it up where it was supposed to be growing, and I guess it was pleased with me, judging by this nice gift (and more blooms to come!)

The detangling gave me some nice action on the rose front too. I was sure a rose bush wouldn't work for me considering how many other things die in my yard, but I was wrong, at least about this particular plant:

Isn't it lovely? And it blooms all summer, no matter how lousy the winter before. A good thing to remember at the end of a Stressful Time, don't you think?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Scary stories

Lately I've been researching the base elements of story by reading a whole whack of traditional/folk-style scary ones. (no really - research! nothing recreational! ahem.)

There's a reason they recommend these things for boys who aren't interested in books: they are super riveting, appealing to the most basic values we have as human beings. You'd have to be, well, not thinking straight not to be able to relate to somebody trying to escape death, regardless of what form death is taking (like, say, banshees, breath-sucking demons, skeleton ghosts with daggers sticking out of their heads, giant slugs from the grave, and so on) or what part of the world the story comes from.

The storylines boil down to two: Hero/ine strays into lonely territory and is attacked, and Hero/ine doesn't follow instructions and pays the price. Every culture has figured out the important lessons to learn in life - there's safety in numbers, but not in cheating - and how to convey them in the most attention-getting way possible.

Of course, my own part of the world's contribution to the effort includes the urban legend about the couple in the stalled car in the woods near the last reported site of an escaped convicted murderer. You know, the one that tweaks 'safety in numbers' to mean 'cuddle up to the person who's parked on this lonely road to scare the heck out of you with this story for that express purpose'? Ah, we North Americans. So slick.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The busier, the interestinger

What with all the deadline hopping yesterday I totally missed that I ran out of milk (ack, no tea!) and when I went to collect the laundry there was a trail of socks and Ts scattered behind me as I swanned up the stairs with the basket, it was so overfull.

Still, I think it is good that I remembered to eat at all, and actually did some laundry, in the midst of my lovely day knitting and hunting up stitch combinations. This outdoor room business - wow, is it ever effective when you throw a patio set into the mix! My chairs-with-cushion are even more comfy than the one in the living room, and you can't beat the breeze or the dappled shade. I definitely have to make some writing time out there this summer.

Today will be rainy and therefore feature less outside excitement. Plus I will have to fold all that laundry, which is still toppling everywhere. But I've been chipping away at bigger, more longstanding To Do items and by golly, I feel I'm coming to a clearing in the woods where I can regroup a little and make sure I'm headed for open fields. It's been months - literally, months - since I wrote any fiction. I need that back! Even more than I need chocolate, and that is saying something.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Deadlines = Carrot + Inspiration

I don't know why I get so fired up for a deadline - maybe it's some residual effect from my office days (writing! it's like a real job after all!) or maybe the symbol of community in a pretty isolated line of work (writing! hard to do in a room full of people!) but I always write better to a deadline.

Interestingly, I also knit better to a deadline, as I discovered yesterday when a friend sent me a note about a hat design contest.

I will have more of what passes for free time through much of July, and I intended to use it to finish a draft of the newer novel-in-progress, unless lightning struck on the older novel-in-third-revision to help me figure out how to fix it in a fourth. In fact that intention is what got me through the last six months.

Now my end-of-July deadline has shifted. It makes me sad to give up that precious time for anything else, but I've accepted that I may use the month to complete a nonfiction writing project, or take paying work, or knit a lot of hats, apparently. It depends on which opportunities arise.

This is the thing about deadlines. If you have an overall goal, they can act as a sail to carry you forward to a clear destination. If you're more scattered in your dreams and you don't choose your deadlines carefully, you can end up scurrying around and finishing things while staying in the same place. You have to be flexible and allow yourself to see when a new deadline can take priority over another - maybe not forever, but just long enough to put you into a better position to complete the first. A new deadline can even remove the need for the first.

The knitting project I've just added to my list won't remove the need for my original July deadline or my interest in the other two, but it has given me an opportunity to be creatively inspired, and it's hard not to accommodate a bonus like that. Especially when I'll have cold ears again in less than five months!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pens with which to pen things

There is something about these crayons that I like; possibly because, if I did not know them to be wax, I would think they were jumbo fruit-coloured Tootsie Rolls, and attempt to eat them. I love Tootsie Rolls.

Why don't grownup writing instruments have this sort of edible design appeal? I suppose the theory is that it is the ink itself, or possibly the nib of a pen, that matters most. I myself loved for many years a Pilot pen I found in the snow one day that was white on the top and a kind of sky blue on the bottom (you had to untwist the two to get the refill in and out.) You clicked something on the end of it to retract the nib when you were done whatever masterpiece you recorded, which, in my case, was the sort of very serious masterpiece only a very serious 12-year-old can produce. Eventually I stopped being able to find a good refill supplier and moved on to something else with which to not write award-winning, best-selling, or even remotely appealing stories.

My brother, he of the Chinese stamp album, had a gift for calligraphy and so I dabbled in that a little myself, mostly making messes on paper and calling it art. It was the act of drawing letters - choosing the nib's shape, dipping it just enough into whatever ink colour seemed best, pressing hard enough to separate the metal tips of the nib so that more or less ink flowed onto the page where you wanted the line to be wider or thinner - I liked. That and shopping for new nibs, of course.

And now it's a keyboard that I use most. I still have a weakness for clicky things on pens though. Do you think the old Pilot is why?

Monday, June 22, 2009

A stroll through the garden

I put in another few hours sorting the garden this weekend and discovered spider mites eating one of my favourite trees, which I bought full price, ACK.

What a fool I was to plant it in the part of the garden where the little beasts turn up every year, or more likely what a fool I am not to deal with the problem properly, perhaps by introducing predatory mites.

The back yard presents no such difficulties, so let's go there instead.

Here is my favourite flowerpatch, which was here when I moved in. It emerges from the ground early each spring and requires no effort from me whatsoever to look more and more amazing until it finally stops flowering in fall. Also I like this shade of purple.

Here is a plant whose name I don't know, which was marked $5 in the Please Get It Off Our Parking Lot section of my much-loved plant nursery last fall. It was nearly dead then but - $5? I couldn't pass up that challenge. It's doing much better than I expected (which is to say, I was hoping it would stay alive; I hadn't expected it to spread and flower prettily as well.)

And look at this Weigela! another plant that requires zero intervention from me, and does a bang-up job of hiding all the plastic pots I dumped in the corner last fall when I realized there wasn't room in the garage for any of them.

There are even a few strawberries coming along - or there were when I took this picture. In the intervening ten minutes they ripened enough for a local animal to come along and eat them. Still, the leaves are nice and green all summer, and so glossy. And they're never troubled by spider mites (knock wood.)

Speaking of which... I'd better go water the afflicted tree. Word on the street is that spider mites don't like humidity.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Exactly how much of too much?

Coming from a long line of people with blood pressure issues, I've always been sodium-conscious. I never add salt to anything I'm eating, and only a little when I'm cooking (which I admit made me unpopular as a soup-maker in the days before I realized you have to start with stock, not just water. Ahem.)

But wowza, did this article ever give me a wakeup call:

The Globe and Mail writes about Salt

I'm about 1000 mg over on an average non-chocolate or ice-cream day, if it's possible for there to be enough of those to get an average.

Time to revamp the pantry. But on the upside: procrastination opps!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Life lessons from people who write about rodents

Didn't I write just the other day about Little Grey Rabbit?

Well, here we are with more proof that great talent is not given only to those with a gift for happiness and satisfaction with one's own life.

Diaries reveal dark side to Little Grey Rabbit's creator

This article reminded me so much of Blossom Dearie, whose music I love - yet she was bitter about never achieving financial success (and who wouldn't be, I'd like to know?) and was a Difficult Person later in life.

When I grow up I'd love to be half as talented as either of these ladies, but not at that price. Still, it's interesting - does disappointment seep in when the work isn't recognized as truly great in its time? or is success stunted by the emotional difficulties of the artist? And why wouldn't the beauty and simplicity of the work that flows out to others show benefit to the person from whom it came?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Atomic flowers

I guess we finally got enough heat after a long string of cool rainy days, because the monster plants that looked so cute and tiny when I planted them have finally started to kick out some rockin' blossoms. They look like bells bursting out at right angles to the long stalks, and I like them, even though they are not at all what I expected.

You can practically hide behind them, they're so big and leafy. When I have to weed along the little path that trails along one side of one patch, I might as well be in a real English garden in a too-quiet village; passers-by can't see me, and I barely notice them, and I'm surrounded by the kind of insects that look interesting and aren't there simply to bite me.

According to the planting cards I found during the weekend's big garage clearout, the plants are bellflowers, they flower through June, they need full sun, and they grow 3' tall.

I think these top that by another 12 inches, maybe. I've recognized other bellflowers in other gardens since I learned what mine look like, and they look like half-starved relations by comparison - shorter, less bloomy, smaller flowers.

It has to be a difference in the strain - I haven't seen other white ones yet - or the soil - is the limestone that spread when I did the base for the flagstone good for bellflowers? - because there's no way it's me being a good gardener.

A good knitter, yes; a good writer, I hope so. A good gardener? I doubt it - if I'm a triple threat, my talent list would have to include baking. But you don't need to hear about yesterday's butterscotch brownies, I'm sure. Heh heh heh.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Getting the lead out

I may never get the hang of the complexitites of the Interweb

(or the correct use of the Delete button.)

On Monday I wrote a brilliant mini essay on the state of my garage, a scintillating topic I'm sure many readers will be sorry to have missed, and on Tuesday I deleted it by accident. No matter. Suffice it to say that it is summer, and I am wanting to be outside in an elegant lounge-y space, in spite of hayfever and an aversion to weeding, combined with an aversion to sitting still and enjoying the breeze when there is weeding to be done. Plus a lot of weeds I didn't have time to pull in May.

What I keep forgetting in my longing for a peaceful outdoor room is that I built one, pretty much singlehandedly, last year:

But here's a funny thing. Apparently two years ago my city broke the news that any house built before 1950 is still being serviced with water fed through lead pipes. Isn't that a hoot? But they did it so quietly, I only heard about it this winter - after I laid the ton of flagstone - when a neighbour down the block talked to another neighbour a bit further down and heard that that neighbour's water was three times over the safe limit for lead content. Hilariouser and hilariouser!

My nearer neighbour's water tested at only .4 or .6 parts per million over the safe limit, so perhaps my water won't be so bad. I bought a pitcher-based water filter just in case, and am waiting to have my water tested too. But the bottom line is, the city will be replacing the pipe along my street and given that the pipe leading between it and my house is also lead, (surprise!), I should arrange to have it replaced at the same time. Which means paying a great deal for the privilege of watching a digger cut open my peaceful outdoor room and make a pit deep enough for a man to stand in and shunt a new pipe through, somewhere along this swathe:

Though really, the most likely dig zone will be precisely here:

Oh, I could laugh till I cry, I really could. And then I might cop out and get a proper filter for my kitchen tap and skip the digging altogether.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Giving thanks

During the recent Time Of Distress (during which, I am proud to say, I was able to post a blog entry here almost daily) I received assistance from many a person (which assistance was a big contributor to my having sufficient brain and time space to write a blog entry almost daily).

And now that the Distress has died down to mostly just a palm-sweat-inducing memory I want to show my gratitude by giving each of them a little something to mark their kindness.

Isn't it amazing to see all these lilies together in one place? And that's just a representation of the people who brought a meal over, never mind all the other nice ways friends and family showed their love and support.

There is something so elemental about feeding a friend - and something very restful about accepting being fed. Even though it does seem like everybody in my neighbourhood is officially a better cook than me.

Or perhaps I mean 'especially since'?

Friday, June 12, 2009

My plan to keep Canada Post in business

I've been getting so many nice things in the mail lately, and not always because I've been treating myself to little presents. This time, though... well, yes. I did send away for this.

The outside wrapping was sadly torn in transit, but inside the package was this enticing little bundle with a lovely card on top:

and when I untied the pretty purple string and unfolded it, it was this enormous thrill of a bag:

I bought it at tinyhappy, an Etsy shop which is Closed For Moving until perhaps July. But you can still read the blog, which, as the name implies, is full of tinyhappy moments and a lovely way to begin the day.

And now that I have a nice soft bag to carry things in, I think I will plan some weekend excursions. Hope you have some nice ones too!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Where more of my ideas come from

Every so often I have to take a trip through the local cemetery. This is less morbid than it sounds: it serves also as a lovely vast garden with trees and hedges and bike paths and trails and runners and speed walkers, and makes a direct route from my house to one of my favourite shopping areas; you get about 40 minutes of up-close nature time just getting from A to B. Still, it's a cemetery.

Of course, I'm always looking at names and dates in there, the better to name characters. But it's hard to go that far without reflecting on the lives of the people whose loved ones gathered when the stones were new. I noticed this time that one man lived about 50 years after his wife died without remarrying, or perhaps a second wife was denied the connection and buried elsewhere. I wondered why another man was buried under a tire-shaped stone. I also wondered whether the man buried under a cube perched on one corner atop a stack of boulders - in 1898 - was an artist.

One man seemed to have married late in life, and was buried with his mother, who died in 1945. As I walked on from his grave I pictured a single mom working hard to give her son a good start at a time when even fewer social supports were available for that situation. I saw her struggling to let go, making it nearly impossible for him to step away make a life of his own. In my imagination, his marriage was a love match, but his wife could never quite get her footing until after her mother-in-law passed.

I know, it's far from a fresh story - it happens a lot in real life, if not actually to this man. But I did find it interesting that my sympathies were with the young wife rather than the clinging mother in my story. I wonder whether I would feel differently if I retold it to myself from the perspective of the latter, or from the man... were his loyalties torn? was he oblivious to both women's needs? Or maybe he just looked at his mother's life and wanted to give his future wife a better one, while easing his mother's final years, and chose to work longer and save more before taking on that kind of responsibility. And in that case - how long did he make his girlfriend wait for him?

Something to think about while I'm still not writing. And maybe while I'm having more blood orange creamsicle ice cream, to which I treated myself yesterday on my way back from B.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Photos from the Chinese stamp book

Kathi asked whether I still have the Chinese stamp book I described in yesterday's post. Of course I do! Along with many other cute things my brother gave me, like the wooden monkey I may share pictures of some day when I am fresh out of scintillating prose. Meanwhile, if you want to see anything more closely, just click on it.

Here is the cover:

And here are some overexposed cuddly panda stamps from the inside:

Here are the athletes performing feats of athletic prowess:

And here are some buildings. I have always liked houses and this page got filled up all the way, as you can see:

I also liked these dancers:

And these landscape-y scenes:

I did not like this trio of stamps as much, but I couldn't take my eyes off it either:

There were more that didn't make it into either of my stamp books before I lost interest (believe it or not, the one at the top, with merging circles on a blue background just left of centre there, is a U.S. stamp commemorating Collective Bargaining):

And still more that never made it off their paper backings:

But to return to my point, take a look at Chinese stamps from the early 70s versus Canadian ones from the same period. No contest, folks!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Inspiration from abroad

The outside of any mail I get from another country often makes me just as happy as the inside:

I love the relief effect here, don't you?

Yeah, okay, so I'm a recovering stamp collector. The mere idea of a bag of mixed stamps for $1 can still give me chills. Whenever I stumble across the Ziploc bag of bits left over from childhood, I can remember steaming stamp after stamp and meticulously peeling away pesky envelope or postcard backs. I can practically taste the glue on the little hinge papers you used then to fix the back of the stamp to the page of your stamp collecting book, too. I can still remember the book, come to that, though it's long since lost. It had a spiral binding and a blue card stock cover.

I was still collecting in 1976 when my oldest brother moved to China, and for my birthday one year he sent me a book with a brown silk cover that was embroidered with flowers. Inside, long rows of thin plastic pockets held stamps in place - no more glue, and you could rearrange your collection at will, making room as you needed it for more in a particular run you were building up.

But I didn't like to put my Canadian stamps into the book from China, where I kept the stamps from his letters, and the unmarked ones he bought for me and tucked into waxy clear pockets and blue air mail envelopes to send home. Those ones were painted with fine brushes in bright colours and showed men and women in pyjama-like costumes performing athletic feats, or people in shining uniforms, their faces upraised, or clean new trucks and trains. They seemed out of place next to the line drawings of Queen Elizabeth (priced both 10 cents and 12; were we too cheap to update the artwork when postage went up?)

Maybe it was stretching the collection across two books that killed my stamp-sorting obsession, but I kind of think it was Lego. That's what stamp-collection-aged kids do to fill non-soccer-playing or TV-watching time even now, isn't it? Lego and Pokemon and video games? It's gotta be hard to sell sitting over a steaming kettle to a kid with a video game controller in hand, no matter how cool the stamp or how far away it was made.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Desk candy

A present for my friend Helena, who is pained by my weakness for oh-so-sensible Tupperware:

I have upgraded my desk storage bucket!

And to be fair, I do like this planter better. I bought it years ago, seriously discounted owing to a minor chip in the finish at the top on one side, from a very posh home decorating store in which I should not even have been browsing. Ever since, it's been a symbol of the casually elegant home in the formally elegant neighbourhood in which I dreamed of one day living. And though the dream is pretty much gone now owing to a recovery of my senses - do you realize how far you have to walk to the nearest chocolate when you live in a formally elegant neighbourhood? - I still like the reference to my younger self.

Bonus: it takes up less real estate and even fits into a niche on the bookshelf when I need to spread out my papers. Of course, this means less book space, but that was never not going to be a problem. And it will look like absolute Ew if I try stuffing papers or mail in it, should I ever stop wanting to have some knitting at hand at all times. Might just encourage me to stay tidy, don't you think?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Life lessons from rodents

I've been watching a delightful video collection lately about Little Grey Rabbit, based on the adventures of the title character, Squirrel, and Hare by Alison Uttley that I completely missed when I was a child. Honestly. Kate Greenaway got resurrected, and Peter Rabbit, but not Little Grey Rabbit? So unfair. You can't even buy these videos now - mine is a Reader's Digest set purchased years ago by a late and distant aunt.

I suppose I should get a grip on myself and read the actual books (also out of print) but the character of Hare is voiced by Hugh Laurie, people. Also, it's much easier to knit in front of the TV than it is while reading a book.

Here's the great thing about LGR episodes, apart from the really awesome traditional music performed by highly skilled players my niece recognized immediately by ear (and to whom I apologize for forgetting their names):

They've got all the simplicity and resourcefulness of the Little Women-style books that fed my childhood and calm and energize me even today. The stories are about close friends - rodents included - who face down trials together and make the most of what little is available to create a richness lacking in the material sort of life we're expected by most of today's shampoo and electronics manufacturers to desire above all else.

Seriously, if you spend an hour watching LGR you emerge a new person, eager to make supper from scratch or build a door wreath out of the tiny pine cones and needles blowing around in the back yard.

And Hare is voiced by Hugh Laurie. I ask you!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ice cream's influence on intelligence

Some of you may recall my experiments with ice cream (specifically, this kind) and the astonishing weight loss that results from eating nothing but that all day. In, you know, portion-controlled sizes (i.e. a fixed number of tubs.)

Well, yesterday I stumbled across another fascinating property of ice cream. I raided the freezer for the last Oreo ice cream sandwich and sat down with my copy of The Self-Made Tapestry and

- you're sitting down, right? -

I was able to comprehend every word about fluid flow and the patterns occurring in convective cells!

Then I tried the same experiment except while knitting instead of while eating ice cream, and I couldn't figure out anything in the section on pentagonal symmetry. Great pictures though.

Ice cream is awesome.
Knitting is also awesome especially if you can read while doing it though probably science type books are not the best choice.
My gums hurt from all these experiments - time to double up on veg intake.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hair today

Trivia for the top of your head:

Hair flipping is the international signal for Hello Sailor! and not, as I always thought, Help! I need a barrette or a ponytail holder!

When hair goes grey, it uses a kind of Morse Code of dots and dashes as the colour signal peters out. You might see a grey hair and want to pull it out, and then be sorry when you find it's got a good inch of colour up there at the top.

Even if this person is actually younger than you, a grey-haired companion is going to make you look younger. Use this to your advantage by bringing along a chic grey-haired friend (who will make you look chic by association) to parties and restaurants frequented by old acquaintances you wish to impress. If you have gone grey yourself, use that to your advantage by scoring cake at said venues.

As your hair goes grey, you may seek colouring advice. Be cautious, especially if you are now in your 40s: asking a friend whether s/he's considered colouring when s/he starts to go grey and if so, how to go about it, can backfire if said friend has been colouring since s/he was 22.

A good litmus test for a new hairstylist is to ask about colour. If said stylist can cut a straight line and says your hair will be silvery white and look cool without colour and frosting, you've found your partner for life.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

That's more like it

Last week I decided to accept that I am not a natural when it comes to anything related to science, and I went to the children's section of the local library to get a handle on basic concepts. I have to wonder though - how did I miss so much when I was a kid? I know I took science classes. I distinctly remember:

calling in sick on frog dissection day and getting 100% on the subsequent test using my then-boyfriend's notes

another girl in my physics class sniggering Every. Single. Time I asked a question in physics

having a science class for home room one year and being seated next to a really cute boy

Okay, so maybe there is a logical explanation. All that stuff plus I never took phys. ed. because I haaaaaate sports and a lot of basic anatomy type content was left for the Health component of physical education. (Fun fact: my school changed the loophole that allowed me to not take phys. ed. after I opted out - nobody had ever thought to refuse that class before.)

I'm being punished for my sins with The Usborne Complete Book of the Human Body, and all I can say is Bring it on! It covers everything I care to know in sentences I can understand, with large colourful pictures and internet links to boot. And when I'm finished, who knows? Maybe I'll graduate to high-school level coverage of mitochondria.

Monday, June 1, 2009

There's nothing minimal about mini-putt

I got to play mini-putt on the weekend, which I love: I'm good at it in ways I am very much not good at actual golf.

I do get the allure of a proper golf game, and I even feel it when I put on my cute saddle-shoe style soft spike footwear and step out on to a pristine green. I enjoy teeing off each new hole, really letting loose on the ball to see how far I can make it skid across the grass - you know, will it actually make it as far as my height this time? - and changing my club with every stroke in step with my score. I play my best when nobody's rushing me, which is why I usually choose an unpopular course and show up at the clubhouse to pay my fees in the midst of a good steady rain. I appreciate all the green things growing around me, especially if they don't set off my hayfever.

Mini-putt, on the other hand, brings out my competitive side. I beat people at mini-putt. Real golfers, even. In mini-putt, being an aggressive putter can be an advantage, and even when you play badly you have comforting distractions, like shooting through the feet sticking out the door of the outhouse, or driving the ball up a slope, or aiming into one of three cups each leading to tubes that will drop your ball into a more or less advantageous position near the hole.

I suppose I'm good at mini-putt because I'm good at details. I don't know why I'm not good at real golf though, because I'm also good at the big picture, and commitment, and stamina. Maybe it's because I'm too good at those things to want to spend four hours outside sneezing and accomplishing next to nothing? or maybe it's because I don't have a sufficiently strong swing. In which case I should try again, because that must have changed since I hauled all a literal ton of flagstone last year.