November 21, 2016

The Return of Wolfgang

 

This should have gone up last night, of course—one rarely ransoms cars from garages on Sundays—and today got away from me as my days so often do. I should perhaps adopt an acronym:  TSHGULNOC, which sounds a little like something out of HP Lovecraft says just before it eats you. Some day if I ever get my act together Raphael is going to commute me to another internet provider, and we will see if I spend less time waiting for things to load with my fingers in my ears so I can’t hear myself screaming.  Meanwhile:  TSHGULNOC.

 * * *

I have a car! I have a car! YAAAAAAAAAY!

I got home last night after dinner* to a brief laconic phone message from the garage. ‘Give us a ring when you have a minute.’  ARRRRRRRRGH.  Can’t they just tell me??   But I assumed the not telling me, the terseness and the . . . er . . . what’s the noun form of ‘laconic’? . . . the laconia, the laconitry, were not a good omen.

This morning I left** before even a garage is likely to be open, to go to Mass*** and decided just for laughs to take a detour on the way home, I might as well make them look me in the eye when they told me they could probably get to my car in January.†  So I braced myself not to burst into tears and lie down on the floor and drum my heels . . . and first I couldn’t find anyone to ask and I figured they’d seen me coming and were hiding, and then when I did find someone they still wouldn’t meet my eyes but they said (laconically), oh, it’s all done.  You can have it now.

YAAAAAAAAAY.

Apparently what happened—although garage men tend to be Of Few Words††, I may have a better version from Morag when she’s back in the office next week—is that they were failing to locate a new pedal box††† and on closer examination the pedal box breakage was less drastic than feared and they said oh piffle let’s just weld‡ the sucker, and they did.

YAAAAAAAAAAY.

I was so excited that when I arrived home‡‡ I threw the hellhounds in the back seat and we shot off to . . . somewhere. Anywhere.  We had a proper hurtle over the countryside for the first time in yonks, which has less to do with Wolfgang than with my interesting energy levels or lack thereof.  We were already on the road before I thought about where we were going, and I decided on Ditherington where we used to hurtle frequently and haven’t been . . . all this year, I think, which means over a year, because I pretty much stopped superfluous driving after Peter’s second stroke and I was spending all available time wherever he was.  Ditherington looked pretty good and the hellhounds were thrilled.‡‡‡

And then we came home and the hellterror had her own epic hurtle across more dangerously local countryside, which I’m willing to risk on a nice Saturday afternoon because I can pick her up if there are problems.§

I even did a little gardening.§§  Reclaiming a member of the family is very energizing.§§§  YAAAAAAAY.  WOLFGANG.

* * *

* And while I’m celebrating I also want to celebrate that I’ve eaten in restaurants twice this week^ and I’m still alive. There are no fresh bits falling off that I’ve noticed and I haven’t broken out in a scaly rash that makes me look like a diseased turbot.  There is hope.

^ Where the people in the kitchen may be injecting secret cow feta into the crab salad.+

+ I was talking to someone about the somewhat retro manager of a local food bank—have I told you I’m planning to do Pitch a Foodstuff in a Box Every Day for Advent# and then donate box and contents to a food bank?—whose attitude toward the undeserving poor is that if they’re hungry they’ll eat it.## Uh huh.  Tell that to someone with a peanut allergy.  Hey, tell it to someone who’s allergic to cow feta.  She won’t die, but she will rip your face off.

# You will remember that I have been heaping righteous scorn on the designers, the gift-buyers, and the clueless, superficial and self-indulgent recipients of Advent calendars dedicated to beauty products or whisky or hamsters or something? I have had my comeuppance.  There’s a yarn Advent calendar.  No, no, no, no.  It’s okay though.  It’s way too expensive.  And furthermore the yarn is acrylic. BUT I BET YOU COULD MAKE A REALLY CUTE BABY BLANKET FOR CHARITY OUT OF TWENTY-FOUR SQUARES OF ADVENT CALENDAR YARN.~

~ And someone can explain to me why Advent calendars only have twenty four windows when Advent starts some time before that.  This year apparently on 27 November.  Presumably I start my food box on the 27th even though I don’t have any fun till the 1st of December.=

= Although since I’m planning to do readings out of THE ROADS FROM BETHLEHEM https://www.amazon.co.uk/Roads-Bethlehem-Christmas-Literature-Writers/dp/0664221572/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479600578&sr=8-1&keywords=road+from+bethlehem which Alfrick loaned me his old, well-loved copy of to shut me up about my latest opportunity for outrage, the Shocking Commercialisation of Advent.  What’s next?  Give your sweetheart a dozen chocolate pencils for Punctuation Day? . . . ANYWAY.  Since I’m planning to declaim to the hellmob, the Aga and the indoor jungle I could start that on the 27th too.

## I’m sure there’s a place in the new American cabinet for this moron. Health and human services possibly.  Or education.

** And a word here for St Admetus. He’s been letting me drive his car. The only drawback to this fabulous, beyond-my-wildest-imaginings situation is that Fleur is new.^  You will remember that one of the reasons I want to keep my ancient, beat-up car is that any car that lived with me would become ancient and beat-up pretty fast.  It’s very hard on a person trying to behave in a drastically out of character a manner . . . although in my defence a lot of Wolfgang’s more interesting impairments have to do with inadequately maintained back country roads and I wouldn’t DREAM of taking Fleur anywhere but on flawlessly paved roads, or as frelling flawlessly as the frelling Hampshire county council can provide which isn’t blistering very. But there are one or two other variations like the fact that her brakes are DELICATE.  You speak to them sweetly and for pity’s sake don’t actually step on them.  I did eventually stop throwing myself through the windscreen.^^ . . . Which meant that when I got behind the more robust and jolly Wolfgang’s wheel again I was all WHERE ARE THE BRAAAAAAAAAKES.

The other high point was arriving with Fleur at my late-night shift at the Sams and not being able to pull the frelling ignition key out of the frelling ignition.

^ She’s also shiny and WHITE. Admetus washes his car+.  Fancy.  But anything I come in contact with staggers away from the encounter covered in mud and dog hair.  Although I may be doing the hellmob an injustice.  I think I must produce dog hair too.  Hmmmm.

+ Have I mentioned that Wolfgang now has Herb Robert growing in the crack between the windscreen and the hinge of the bonnet?

^^ Fortunately modern flexi-plast windscreens don’t star on impact very easily.

*** Before I realised the extent to which St Admetus is willing to sacrifice himself on the altar of friendship I’d been telling myself that it was not the end of the world^ if I didn’t make it to Mass^^ this week.^^^  The result is this is now the second week in a row that I’ve gone both to morning Mass and the night contemplative service on Saturday, pant, gasp, whiplash, due to circumstances beyond my control.  God likes her little joke.

^ That would have been 8 November

^^ Jonesing for the Eucharist. Go Jesus.

^^^ I’d been trying to figure out the festering bus schedule. The buses between here and Mauncester in one direction and Opprobrium in the other are pretty reliable.  But if you want to peel off in a funny direction from the main route, like, say, Dreepworth, which is a village of about three, plus some monks well back among the trees+, there are rumours of a local bus but no one knows anything about it.  It is not encouraging that it is further rumoured to stop at the ski lodge and the planetarium.  Dreepworth does not have a ski lodge or a planetarium.

+ And a big sign that says WELCOME. I like that sign.

† Since I was there I thought the least I could do was fill up the petrol tank. You have to release the lock, said the helpful petrol-pump man. RELEASE?  THE LOCK??  We had to get the frelling handbook out to find the frelling petrol-tank release latch ARRRRRRRGH.  Admetus thought this was very funny.^  I had to tell him since the first thing he said was, how did you find the petrol tank release?

^ Hey. I’d written down the mileage and the litres because I knew Admetus is the kind of OCD git . . . I mean, the kind of thoughtful, responsible car owner+ who keeps track of such things.  GIVE ME SOME CREDIT HERE.

+ Yes. Admetus usually reads the blog.

†† I should perhaps specify intelligible words.  Paxton is usually happy to explain exactly what happened in great detail, except that I don’t know any of the words he’s using, since they have to do with cars and I pretty much stop with ‘steering wheel’ and ‘rear view mirror’.

††† Those Fijians really like their pristine showcases.

‡ Welding. You youngsters may not have heard of this interesting ploy.  It’s something you can do to old cars which are still mostly made out of metal.^

^ Except the FENDERS. Which are made out of plastic-coated papier mache and fall off at a TOUCH.  There is a humiliating story about this in the archives somewhere.

‡‡ Admetus having given me a lift back out to Warm Upford to fetch Wolfgang

‡‡‡ Although the reason Ditherington began to fall out of favour in the first place is because the local gamekeeper is/was a ratbag sod. He’s the one responsible, for example, for the line of guns across a public footpath one shooting season which is frankly illegal, and which the hellhounds and I walked straight into because you’re coming out of a copse into a field and you have no warning what you’re getting into unless they’re actually firing which I am glad to say they weren’t.  And I grew very tired of him snapping and snarling for no reason but that he was in a nasty mood and didn’t like old women walking their dogs.  If someone could tell me he now has a job wrestling alligators in Florida, and that the new keeper prefers to sit on a hay bale and knit, I would be very happy.

§ We had an absolutely classic run in with an off lead dog. It was coming down the hill on lead to our right as we carried on straight ahead along the footpath. The idiot woman saw us. I saw her seeing us. And the moment we were out of sight behind the fence she let Throgmorton off the lead and he instantly hared after us, coming around the corner on one leg and a tail. CALL YOUR DOG, I said, scooping up the meanest SOB in the valley.  Throgmorton was about the size of an SUV and I was considering climbing the fence—with an armful of Meanest SOB—when Idiot Woman came panting around the corner and did, in fact, catch her abominable dog.

§§ It started to rain as I was putting on my pink wellies. I heard Peter’s voice in my ear saying It’s not wet rain and went out anyway.

§§§ Really I’m on a roll. I bounced through not one but two social occasions last night—first catching up with Ceridwen and Vidhya and the little frumplet^ and then dinner with Nina and Ignatius. Hey, wouldn’t it be great if I were just getting stronger? Yes. It would be great. ^^

^ Who will soon grow out of the fabulous baby blanket he hasn’t received

^^ Maybe I could even get more than three syllables a day of story-in-progress written. That would be GREAT.

Happy Birthday to me. Not.

 

. . . Also, yesterday. I’m now officially even older than I was.  This keeps happening.  You’re just kind of getting used to being twelve or thirty-five or fifty or a hundred and three and zap you have to get used to being thirteen or thirty-six or fifty-one or a hundred and four.  And that’s not good enough either!  Fifty two more weeks and you’re fourteen or thirty seven or fifty two or a hundred and five! No wonder human beings are so insecure.  Stuff keeps changing.  It’s very unsettling.

So yesterday I didn’t ring the garage because I figured if there was any good news they would have rung me and I didn’t want avoidable bad news on my birthday.* But the hellmob and I had a variety of nice walks even if they were perforce in town, I gave myself the day off from hitting myself repeatedly in the head with a brick, I mean, working on story-in-progress, and I had dinner out with a friend.**  We had a really lovely relaxing delectable dinner*** and I don’t think I gave our waiter a nervous breakdown with all my searching questions about ingredients.†  I even had half a half glass of wine.††

And I came home, hurtled the hellmob for the last time, opened all my presents . . . and fell into a deep funk. This time last year Peter was so frail he stayed in bed and didn’t come to the birthday party in one of Rivendell’s little private function rooms.  We took turns ferrying him fizz and dainties. . . .

Life. Birthdays.  Crap.  But I have several excellent new books to read.†††

* * *

* I rang them today. They’re in negotiations with the old VW parts factory in Viti Levu for the pristine 20-year-old VW Golf pedal box kept in a glass case outside the CEO’s office as a particularly fascinating example of last century’s technology^. They will ring me when they have anything to tell me, like whether I’ll get my car back before the frelling end of the frelling year.  At least they’re not saying ‘buy a new car’.  Hey!  He doesn’t even have two hundred thousand miles on him yet!  A diesel VW ought to be worth 200,000 miles!

^ I have no idea why it’s particularly fascinating. I have no idea what a pedal box is.+

+ I mean, why would you keep your pedals in a box? Generally you want them out doing mobile, pedally things.#

# I know, I know. Don’t tell me.

** I think this was the first time I’ve been in a skirt since Peter’s memorial. I’ve almost forgotten how.^

^ Tights. Where do I keep my frelling TIGHTS?

*** I may have knitted between courses

† It seems like a great idea that restaurants post their menus on line these days^ and if you eat like I do you need to check ahead one way or another. It’s easier and less embarrassing to do it via google rather than get into one of those no-win conversations with a phone-answering member of staff who has probably heard of gluten-free and lactose intolerance^^ but by the time you’ve rejected several harmless-sounding possibilities due to the presence of nightshades or cereal grains you can hear the person at the other end of the line wanting to go into another line of work.  Immediately.  So I read up before I go anywhere and then I get there and . . . they’ve changed the menu.  The, one might almost say delicious, irony here is that this is likeliest to happen in the local-seasonal-footprint-conscious restaurants I’m likeliest to opt for.  This happened last night.  It will probably happen again tomorrow night when I’m having dinner with some other friends at another local-seasonal-patient-with-the-deranged restaurant.

^ especially if you’re some frelling import like me who can’t get her head around the idea that traditional British food means meat, stodge and gravy.  There are quite a few old-fashioned pubs in this area who are awarded lots of stars and fulsome acclaim on Trip Advisor where there isn’t a green veg in sight, where the side dishes are all things you can do with potatoes.  What seems to me even more bizarre is that you may be likelier to see aloo masala or onion paratha than a plain mixed green salad or, you know, Brussel sprouts or leeks+ or something you or your neighbour might very well have in your garden.++  I know Britain is now Curry Nation but until global warming gets a better grip we still can’t grow turmeric here.  And personally I’d prefer to go on importing our turmeric and not grow malaria here either.

+ You know, fresh local seasonal veg.  I also prefer to stay away from restaurants whose menus are advertising fresh asparagus in November.

++ It’s not looking good for the five# a day.

# Or seven. The latest seems to be seven.  And people are still eating at Macdonalds.  Oh but wait, they’re having a bedtime snack of broccoli with their hot milk, right?  And getting up in the morning to a ginormous platter of raw spinach salad with their hot caffeine. Come on guys. Vegetables are good.  Vegetables are friendly.  Vegetables have your best interests at heart.

^^ I haven’t given you the gruesome details of my ‘food poisoning’ the other week, have I? My medical herbalist, whom we will call Gundred, both because she deserves a name and because ‘medical herbalist’ is a daunting phrase, persuaded me that goats’- and sheep-milk products were worth a try.  Non-cow dairy would contribute to Building Me Up and it would be a nice boost to variety in my diet.  Well I like the yogurt and I like kefir a lot+ but the cheeeeeeeese. . . . . I had no idea I loved/missed cheese this much. AHHHHHHHHHH.  Eating cheese again is like the first thing that has made me happy since Peter died.++

So one of my visiting friends and I went to lunch at one of the local pubs who is Used to Me. And lo they had changed their menu—local and seasonal, you know—to include a root-veg salad I could actually eat without asking them to hold half the ingredients and substitute the other half.  The salad included feta cheese.  I adore feta cheese, I (now) eat it at home regularly (wheeeeeee).

I put my friend back on the train and went home and felt sicker and sicker and sicker and every bone and muscle in my body turned into one big throbbing ache and I had dancing anvils in my head. And I thought WTF, this is my dairy allergy. I tried to think of anything else that might have done this to me, failed—but the dancing anvils were having a somewhat negative effect on my thought processes—and eventually in despair googled feta.  Where I was informed that it was, indeed, goats’ and/or sheep cheese, but some evil ratbag Northern Europeans sometimes made it out of cows’ milk. Which is pretty clearly what happened to me.

It’s taken me frelling weeks to recover.  Everything hurt and none of the bendy things bent properly, so for example closing my hands on a bell rope or a berserking hellterror who wants that other dog to know that she is the meanest SOB in the valley was both unpleasant and perilous.  But when the frelling eczema started I panicked because this was a good two weeks after the incident and I was afraid my body was rejecting the goats and sheep too. Noooooooo. But the eczema has subsided . . . and I’m still eating cheese (and yogurt and kefir).

But my point is I don’t torture waiters for fun.  I’m pathological for cause.+++

+ And since I have to make my own it had better be worth it. Although making it is kind of fun.  It’s like a school science project.  You mix the weird stuff together and then you put the result in a jar and wait to see what happens.

++ The high doesn’t last, of course, but for the few minutes I’m actually eating cheese the world cannot touch me.#

# Barring the hellterror getting the refrigerator door open~ or one of the hellhounds climbing the garden wall. Because they can.  I hope they can’t, but I wouldn’t put it past them.  Reasons the hellmob are never in the garden unless I’m out there too.  Especially now we’re surrounded by little yappy dogs. Arrrrrrrrrgh. Although the ones we share walls with are fine really.  Damien is on the other side of the cul de sac.  And the hellmob isn’t in the Lodge’s garden without me either.  They probably could get over that wall, but eating Damien would probably give them food poisoning.

~ I Live In Fear

+++ As part of Birthday Celebration Week we were going to go to one of the big national gardens that plants for year round interest as they say, not to mention tourist money.  But we had thunderstorms and horizontal rain today in unpredictable bursts, so we went to a film instead.  I’ve seen three films in the last six months.  I hope you’re impressed.  Hey, I could do a film review post.# Today’s was ARRIVAL.  And never mind what I thought of it—I’ll tell you that in my film review post—it more or less begins with our heroine being told she has ten minutes to pack before the big guy takes her off to a top-secret-clearance military encampment.  This is one of twelve top-secret-clearance military encampments all over the world, pitched next to twelve alien spacecraft which have materialised out of nowhere and seem to want the natives to talk to them.  Our heroine is a hot shot linguist.  But I was thinking, if some big guy knocked on my door and said, I Am Going to Give You the Chance of a Life Time, you have ten minutes to pack, I would say, wait, can you GUARANTEE 100% fresh organic food to a strict schedule, to include barrowloads of dark green leafy things, no cereal grains, no nightshades, a hearty dose of chicken liver every week, ditto oily fish, goats’ and sheep cheese and some funny beverages including green tea, kefir, kombucha and coconut water?##  No?  Well, nice try.  See you round.

It’s a good thing I had lots of adventures when I was younger.

# And while I’m at it, remind me to rant at you about the new ROH staging of NORMA. Snarl.

## And adequate accommodation for three hellcritters.

†† They didn’t have organic fizz so I had to settle for organic red. Never mind.  The novelty was shocking enough.  And after nine dry months three sips was about my limit.  But hey, I wasn’t driving.

††† And a box of vegan organic chocolate. How fabulous is that?  Except for the fact that I don’t eat sugar. Drat.  Okay.  Wait.  I figure on the three-sips-of-organic-wine standard these will last till my birthday next year

Tragedy

[This was supposed to go up last night, of course. Technology is so not my friend.  And today has been complex.]

Wolfgang died.* Waaaaaaaaaaaah.

And it’s Saturday night, I can’t ring the garage till Monday.** I’m wild-eyed, hair-sticking-out terrified that it’s the kind of serious that means ‘not worth mending in a twenty year old car’. I DON’T WANT A NEW CAR. And that’s aside from my interesting cash flow problem, which is to say lack of flow.  I own three blinging blanging doodah frelling houses, but keeping the hellmob and me fed*** is much more unpleasantly exciting than nourishing and jolly.  I like my excitement in stories. I like food† just to be there.††  NEW CAR???  Not in this reality.  So, okay, after last Tuesday I wouldn’t at all mind being transferred to some other reality. . . .

I finally got some sleep last night.††† I hadn’t had anything even close to resembling sleep since the beginning of the week—I’d had a late Sam shift and then I stayed up watching the returns ohGodohGodohGodohGod when the world as I thought I knew it ended Tuesday night.  It’s very hard to sleep when the world is a suddenly stranger and scarier place—I’d never thought it was exactly safe, but I thought there were some limits—and there’s an evil asshole about to destroy the country of your birth.‡  Friday I even blew off handbells. Shock.  Horror.  I did go, but I fell apart at the tea break and spent the rest of the evening knitting.‡  And scowling.‡‡  Hey, there were four ringers without me, and major (eight) is a lot easier than royal (ten).  I WAS DOING THEM A FAVOUR.  Especially because Niall makes me ring inside.‡‡‡  So maybe it was the handbells that broke me.  Whatever.  I came home and slept.

And so managed to scrape myself out of bed in time to go to morning Mass. I had decided that God was just going to have to forgive me for a week I didn’t make it to morning Mass, if she wanted me at morning Mass she could have made Hillary win.§  The problem with Saturday morning Mass is that I will then turn around and hare back out to the abbey for the Saturday night prayer service with the half hour silent sit beforehand§§.  Twice in a day and it’s like I can begin to discern tatty black robes swishing around my ankles.§§§  But Wolfgang and I toodled home after the night service, and I was feeling as mellow as I ever do, especially since last Tuesday, and I had just backed into our parking space and I was throwing the clutch out to roll forward a few inches so that I could still get at my bins and my garden shed and the clutch pedal shot into the floor and stayed there.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaah.£

* * *

* It has so not been a good week.

** Okay, I could ring the garage.  But no one would answer.

*** Especially since all of us but the bullie have stringent dietary constraints. Pav only requires that she be able to get her mouth around it.  When this proves to be an item of hellgoddess clothing there is domestic drama.

† and books. And yarn

†† The bullie is with me on this. The hellhounds would much prefer food not to be there.

††† Meanwhile I have another half done post, this one about my Realio Trulio Finished Knitting Project^, but the project will stay finished so I can come back to my unfinished blog about it later.^^

^ It’s about as dead boring as a Knitting Project can be but it is finished. Which makes it automatically glorious and fascinating within my knitting life.+

+ I have now reverted to the feltable wool that is going to become a series of grotty little bags, the important one being destined to carry super long knitting needles. Does anyone else have needles that are too long to fit in any standard knitting needle containers?#   I suppose I could just stick them in a vase but most of my vases are full of dried roses from various occasions.##   But between needing a bag pole-vaulting pole length and not being sure how much the thing is going to shrink when I felt it, people keep mistaking the long thin item coiling off my lap for a scarf.  Several scarves.  Several Doctor Who scarves.

There are two reasons I’m back to my felting-in-their-future bags over all the other unfinished knitting projects lying about the place.  The first one is that I really like rectangles. I really, really like rectangles. You know, no shaping, no frelling counting. You just knit.  And knit.  And knit.###

The other reason is that I do a lot of knitting after morning Mass, when you can sit around with a cup of tea and chat with monks and anyone else from the congregation desirous of caffeine and possibly a little time to slot back into normal life.#### And, aside from all the jokes about knitting long johns for monks#####, one of the monks, whom we will call Aloysius, has decided that I never finish anything and demands proof that this is not true.  Uh oh.  So, I figured, felting might disguise some of my inevitable irregularities, if I’m going to have to pass the object in question around to an assembly.  An assembly of jocular monks. I mean, I’m not exactly reliable, even on rectangles.

# No, of course not. Everyone but me knits on circulars. Uggggggh.  SOMEBODY (else) must knit on super-long straights OR THEY WOULDN’T SELL THEM, right?

## Yes. I save empty champagne bottles too~.  And one or three bottles that once contained spectacular reds.  Including my first experience of Vieux Telegraph, which put Peter’s beloved strong, leathery French reds~~ on my, you should forgive the term, radar.  That was on our honeymoon in Cornwall.  Sigh.

~ Some of these are also full of dried roses.

~~ I AM NOT GOING TO TOUCH the whole Rhone/Bordeaux/Burgundy/claret thing. Among other reasons because I don’t understand it.  But Peter could pick out one of these gorgeous items from the brambly, brain-stabbing boscage of a wine list while I sat back contentedly and waited for my glass to be filled.

### Yes. I’m a process knitter.  More finished objects would be nice, but it’s the knitting that’s important.  Although the fact that my finished objects tend to be pathetic may have something to do with my attachment to process.

#### If going to Mass doesn’t rattle your cage, you’re not paying attention.

##### Which would be a VERY GOOD THING in that chapel, but it would be kind of a pity to cover up the orange, yellow, pink, purple, blue, scarlet and lime green wool I’m using. If they’d agree to raise their hemlines an inch or two . . . it doesn’t have to be a lot . . .

^^ With dead boring photos.

‡ [with vast reluctance this rude and ribald footnote concerning a prominent evil asshole has been excised for fear of legal reprisals SIIIIIIIIIIIGH.]

‡‡ Knitting when I’m brain dead could have some impact on why my FOs tend to be pathetic.  I’M A PROCESS KNITTER.  SO WHATEVER.

‡‡ I’m still in black. I could do this for quite a while.  When I was younger and less haggard I wore a lot of black, and I Never Throw Anything Out.  So I still have . . . a lot of black.  I’d forgotten.  I’m quite glad to see some of it.  Perhaps not all at once.

‡‡‡ All right, ringing ‘inside’ is more fun. You know, like walking across Niagara on dental floss is fun.  The first pair (. . . of bells) and the last pair are usually the easiest of any method—‘easiest’ being relative, there is NOTHING ABOUT handbells that is easy, except maybe the sitting down in the warm part, which is the single thing that handbells have over tower bells, which tend to occur in gelid towers—and the inside pairs are the ones that dance the hokey cokey with your brain and leave you with footprints on your grey matter.

§ I have a great idea! Let’s all pray that the electoral college vote to DO AWAY WITH THEMSELVES, AND HILLARY WINS RETROACTIVELY ON THE POPULAR VOTE.

§§ It’s a ratbag that Saturday night tends to be popular for live entertainment. Three of us went to KISS ME KATE last Saturday and it was very, very well done . . . and I’d forgotten how frelling ANNOYING it is because I only remember how great the tunes are.  I should have stayed home and gone to the monks.

§§§ Okay. Black is good.

£ Also, who wants a new car when their old one is kind and thoughtful enough to break down in his own driveway? Aside from . . . £££££££££££

* * *

SUNDAY NIGHT UPDATE: I spent an hour on the phone to the RAC^ this afternoon trying to extricate myself from being the add-on to Peter’s membership, siiiiiiigh, the things that frelling ambush you, I hadn’t wasted a single thought on the likely status of my RAC membership all this year, till last night.  And as so often this year dealing with Corporate Great Britain, the individual human beings were friendly and helpful^^ BUT THE ADMIN IS A NIGHTMARE.  But they eventually beat their data base into submission and sent me a person. The person was about seven feet tall, eight feet wide, covered with tattoos, and looked like he probably juggled blue whales before breakfast. EEEEEEEEEEEEEK.  He was also very nice.  He said ‘broken pedal box’, whatever the doodah that means, but it sounds less threatening than ‘whole new clutch assembly’ which was what I was afraid of, because that was going to be the moment when everyone, beginning with the guys at the Warm Upford garage who have kept Wolfgang on the road the last twenty years, tell me helpfully that it’s not worth it for a twenty year old car.  LET ME GO ON THINKING THAT ‘BROKEN PEDAL BOX’ IS NOT THE END OF THE LINE. And Mr Tattoo DROVE Wolfgang out to Warm Upford with a note from me to stick through the garage office door for Monday morning.  He DROVE Wolfgang without a clutch.  Gibber gibber gibber, I said . . . and then it occurred to me that once in days very, very much gone by, I knew how to drive an elderly, persnickety vehicle without a working clutch.  And the person who taught me this interesting skill—this being about thirty years before internet searches—may be reading this blog.  ::Waves::

Stay tuned. And anyone of a praying persuasion, pray for Warm Upford to say ‘no problem.’  I’ll worry later about the six weeks that it’s going to take to import the last in existence new pedal box for a twenty-year-old Golf from Viti Levu.  I might have to start taking daytime Sam duties, when the buses are running.  No!  No!  Anything but daytime duties!

^ I have no idea what RAC stands for, but they’re the UK Ghostbusters+ of broken-down cars.

+ Who you gonna call?

^^ Um, mostly. I think one of them had had a late Samaritan shift last night and hadn’t had enough sleep.

 

Time, time

 

Yes, two days, um, nights, in a row, posting to the blog.  It won’t last.  But I don’t want to leave that evil asshole on the opening screen of my blog for any longer than necessary:  Twenty-four hours is plenty.  But . . . having just mentioned him, here on what will now become the opening page, does that mean I have to write again tomorrow?  Hmmmm.

Time, time, was one of Peter’s phrases.  I cannot believe how much time time TIME TIIIIIIME it takes just adding one thing back into your weekly schedule.  Um.  Maybe two.  Well, maybe three.  Trying to wake the blog up counts, or counted, till the malnutrition and bronchitis splintered me, and it will count again.*  I wasn’t committed to going to Mass with my monks once a week when I was last having weekly voice lessons and Samaritan shifts either.  If Nadia insists on keeping me in a late-morning slot it makes the juggling act even more extreme because I can’t go to morning Mass and make it to the other end of the frelling country** for a voice lesson and the drive would wreck the fragile post-Mass serenity*** although it might have been interesting to discover what effect chanting penitential rites would have as warm-up to singing Mozart.  However all such questions have been set aside as I croaked through recent weeks.  I need to hustle Nadia now however in the hopes of a lesson or two before Christmas shuts all such trifles and fripperies down†:  I would like to be able to scare people on the other side of a small room with my carol singing, and all stresses, including trivialities like legal suits by the local crown court and bronchitis, make my voice go into hiding-behind-the-parapet-and-squeaking mode.

But how to begin to catch up, or slot back in, with the blog and any readers who haven’t given me up as a lost cause? The daily adventure of the hellmob?  Singing dismal and maudlin folk songs whilst hurtling?  Conversations with Peter?††  KNITTING?†††  Bell ringing?‡  The failure of Third House to sell and the oh-God-details-I-hate-details of trying to prep it to let for a year or two and see where the foaming tides of Brexit may have left us by then?  I think I need to slip into the blogging business again gently.

* * *

* IT CERTAINLY DOES. I’D FORGOTTEN HOW LONG WRITING A POST TAKES.^  Also I may have an ulterior motive.  Mwa hahahahahaha.

^ And I’m out of practise trying to herd footnotes. Which make cats or bell ringers or Sam volunteers+ or hellmobs look like a doddle.

+ Or St Margaret’s band members for the evening service. At least summer is over#, when there were Sundays we were getting by with three. When one of the three is you it’s a lot harder to pretend that strange background keening noise isn’t you singing.

# Aaaaaaaand . . . still no probate.~ Less than a month to the first anniversary of Peter’s death.  Just by the way.~~

~ The latest interesting development from my delightful bank’s closing my private nothing-to-do-with-my-husband account and stealing all my money last May is that some of the direct debits that they killed and then reinstated . . . re-died, to coin a term. Only about a third of them did reinstate, and I’m still struggling to keep up with all the stuff I haven’t had to think about every frelling ratblasted month, because I can’t INAUGURATE ANY NEW DIRECT DEBITS TILL I’M OUT OF PROBATE but I assumed those that had successfully reconnected would STAY reconnected?  Noooooooo.  That would be too simple.

~~ THIS IS ONLY THE FIRST FOOTNOTE AND I’M ALREADY OUT OF CONTROL.

** Anything over five miles is my idea of the other end of the frelling country, and this would be nearly thirty miles. I’m pretty used to the commute to my monks but Nadia has moved to Somerset.  Nearly.  The Somerset that is the opposite direction from my monks, if you follow me, so if I were pelting from monks to Nadia I’d have to squeal back through New Arcadia on the way.  Feh.

*** IF I WEREN’T WIRED OUT OF MY TINY MIND it might not be quite so fragile. Remember that the area court in Greater Footling wanted to sue me for non-payment of council tax?  And that I had sorted this out?  You didn’t think that was the end of it, did you?  No, of course not, you are intelligent grown ups with your own stories to tell about local government.  I then received another letter from the Greater Footling court system thanking me for paying up till 1 October, but that they still want me to pay up to the end of the year or they were going to sue me anyway.  Point one:  all three houses were, as of my at that time most recent conversation with the local council, paid up to 1 September. Greater Footling, for reasons best known to itself, is only suing me for the Lodge.  The local clerk in theory had removed the whole court-case thing because my situation is unusual, and she explained that if you fall behind on your council tax they will demand you pay up to the end of the year. What? Whose bright idea was that?  Most people fall behind because they’re having cash flow problems, not because they’re in probate, their bank is heli-skiing with their money, and all real-world business admin makes them cry.  So you sue someone for more money because they’ve already graphically demonstrated they don’t have enough money?  Is the government trying to make people homeless?  Or oblige them to feed their children out of the dustbins behind Macdonalds?

But perhaps I digress. I have already referred (repeatedly) to the fact that the last two or so months have been prey to a broad spectrum of diversions, and one of the results of this is that I didn’t pay the October house tax instalments on the first of the month like a good little anal-retentive control-freak stooge would.^  Midway through the month when my legs were working better and I was coughing less and I really was going to go tackle the city council AGAIN because I’d had NO paperwork yet and according to the clerks, this being one of the few things that, over the months, everybody I saw agreed on, I should receive individual monthly invoices reminding me in the politest possible way^^ that I was due to open a vein for the benefit of the council office again, and specifying the quantity they planned to tap. . . . Now I repeat that midway through the month I had had NO PAPERWORK concerning my monthly council tax bills.

Then I received three envelopes from the city council on the same day.  Declaring that I was in arrears.  And for the three houses that all come due on the same date, remember the SAME DATE thing, organised to make it easier for me, a bear of very, very little brain?  Yes?  You remember? . . . for these three simultaneously-due houses I received two first reminders and one second reminder. So with the mind-bendiness of the simultaneity situation I can also remark that the paperwork I hadn’t received included the first reminder for the third house.  Except it wasn’t for Third House, it was . . . oh, never mind.

^ My biases may be showing. But what would you rather expend your even-more-than-usually frustratingly limited energy on, friends you don’t see often enough or possibly haven’t seen in years, OR paying your frelling council tax?  Anyone who says, oooh, I’d pay my tax, of course, is banned forever from this blog.  I’d further suggest that I’m going to sneak into your house and hide your chequebook, except that nobody but the elderly hopeless like me uses cheques any more.

^^ HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

† With my voice, voice lessons are unequivocally trifling fripperies

†† I’m becoming pretty shameless about this. The locals can just get used to the scraggy old lady chatting away hard to a rose stuck in the ground in a corner between two sarcophagi.  The hellmob has.

††† I certainly must tell you about THE THING I ACTUALLY FINISHED.

† I’m still all in black. I got up this morning, late, having once again watched the dawn come up before I got to sleep, stared at the clean laundry I haven’t put away yet^, and reached for the black jeans and cardi I’d been wearing yesterday.  I went bell ringing at Crabbiton tonight and the other American eyed me and said, so, are you in mourning?  Yes, I said.  And then we did some wailing and bitching about the evil asshole before we got down to the serious business of trying to weasel out of ringing at Madhatterington on Sunday morning, Madhatterington’s bells being not only possessed by demons but they sound like a train wreck, so the ringers’ agonies aren’t even worthwhile.

^ I usually only bother to put away stuff I don’t wear that often. Something I’m going to wear again in the next day or three, why waste the time?  I only need half the bed to sleep in.

I can’t . . .

 

I can’t believe he won. I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT BELIEVE THAT DONALD TRUMP IS AMERICA’S NEXT PRESIDENT.

I can’t believe he won.  I can’t believe he won.  I can’t believe he won.  I can’t BELIEVE he won.  I can’t believe he won.  I can’t believe he won.  I can’t believe he won.  I can’t believe he won.  I can’t believe he won.  I can’t believe he won.  I can’t believe he won.  I can’t believe he won.  I can’t believe he won.  I cannot, cannot, cannot, cannot, cannot cannot cannot cannotcannotcannot cannot believe he won.

I can’t believe it.

I can’t believe it.

I can’t believe it.

I went to bed at about 5 am stunned and staggered and wretched with what was obviously happening in America, watching the states turn red and the little lines crawling toward ‘win’, Hillary’s much too slowly and Donald’s much too fast. When I finally got up again very late in the morning I did not race to my computer or turn on the radio because I didn’t want to hear it.  As long as I didn’t know it officially maybe it hadn’t happened.  But I had a day’s appointments to confirm and when I turned Pooka on and hit the text button, the condolences and expressions of horror and despair scrolled well past what I could read on the opening screen.

I can’t believe he won. I can’t believe it. I’m wearing all black for the death of my country.  My ex-country.  I don’t want to be an American any more.  If Brexit throws me out of England I’m moving to Australia.  I want to lose this accent.  I don’t want to sound like an American.  I don’t want to be identifiable as a member of the country that voted Donald Trump into the White House, even if I’m not one of the guilty.  I remember the heady rush after Obama was voted in the first time—that after cringing through the George Dubya era as an American in England it was okay to be an American—it was something to be proud of, being an American, where we’d just voted in an intelligent man with principles and ideals and oh-by-the-way his dad was a black Kenyan and his wife could punch her own weight as a career woman and his partner.

I can’t believe Donald Trump got anywhere near the Republican nomination, let alone the presidency.  I kept waiting for someone to pull it together to push back.

I’m an on-line GUARDIAN subscriber, and I hope there are enough of us to keep the GUARDIAN going. This arrived in our inboxes today from Katherine Viner, the editor-in-chief:

It was a terrible night for women, for Muslims, for Hispanic Americans, for people who believe climate change is a real and present danger, for people who believe women have a right to abortion, for men and women who object to sexual harassment of the most brutal and obvious kind, for disabled people, for black people, for Jewish people, for gay people, for progressives, for liberals, for people who believe Barack Obama was born in the USA, for a free and independent media working in the public interest.

There’s no doubt that the election of Donald Trump as US president is one of the biggest events of our lifetimes, and like the outcome of the Brexit referendum, could be one of the most important stories in the history of the Guardian. Our [people] in the US and around the world have been working round-the-clock to bring you the fastest updates, engaged reporting and video, deep analysis and thoughtful commentary. We will redouble these efforts in the coming weeks and months. We want to understand why America voted for Donald Trump, and hold him to account for his words and actions.

What she said.

However. With caveats.  There will be no forum thread for this post.  I don’t want to talk about it.  I wouldn’t expect there to be a lot of Trump voters reading this blog but if there are any I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know. Please do not, as has happened before when I’ve explicitly said that I don’t want to discuss something, rush to explain, because if only I’d listen to you . . . I’m not going to listen to any excuses for voting for Donald Trump.  Full stop.  If you email me I’ll delete you.  I’ll be reading TIME magazine and the GUARDIAN—yes, I’m a wet liberal, so what else is new?—for all they can tell me about the potential global catastrophe that is Donald Trump in the White House, but I want my information at barge-pole-length distance, with journalists doing the dirty work.

And of all the possible reasons for ending a long blog silence, this has got to be one of the worst. But I couldn’t not say that I’m utterly, utterly, utterly shaken and shocked and appalled.  And to say to all you other Hillary-ites out there, oh, God, I’m so sorry. Hands across the water, tears of blood, etc.  Hannah and I have been texting all day—I mean all day, starting at 2 am GMT.

Knitting has become such a refuge for me—even if, when things feel painfully worse than usual, like now, I keep having flashbacks to knitting at Peter’s bedside. And [insert banner-waving here] I finished something for one of these Christmas charities that give hand-made stuff to poor kiddies.  And so today—when I’m not texting Hannah again—I keep defaulting helplessly to um, wait, what can I KNIT to make it better?  Then my mind goes blank and I look wistfully at my empty, twitching hands.  However the hellmob is always happy to go for another hurtle, and since I sing a lot of mournful songs anyway I’m not sure they notice that I’m sounding even more dirge-like than normal today.

I have a half-done post from . . . yonks and eras ago. Before—oh, let’s see—visitors, bronchitis, visitors, food poisoning and visitors.  And how when what there is left of my hair post-menopause started falling out in handfuls, my fingernails were breaking past the quick, and my legs went all funny, that I realised that possibly I had taken the detox thing too far.  And?  I’m no longer a vegetarian.  Sigh.  I should have recognised the warning signs—I’ve crashed and burned as a semi-vegan twice before;  third time is not the charm—but it’s so easy to blame everything on the ME.  As a slavering carnivore my energy levels are picking up again nicely, thank you.  My fingernails need cutting again and my hair is starting to grow back in, although whether it grows back in enough remains to be seen.  And as I’ve said several times during this gruesome and miserable year, I have no intention of giving the blog up, I’m just having a few interim motivational problems.

I can’t believe he won.

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