December 19, 2014

Shadows is here!

It’s only another placeholder

 

Okay, I’ve got some stories for you, but no time to tell them.  But as a placeholder you might find the email I just wrote to Worthy Charity #74,821,333 mildly entertaining:

Your web designer is a MORON.  Please pass on my lack of respect.  In the first place, why is a title required?  Many people—myself included—prefer not to use one if we’re given the option.  Then, if the standard short list of titles your site provides does not apply and one is so foolhardy as to tick ‘other’, one is presented with a drop-down list of epic proportions, offering ever wilder opportunities, Death Star Commander, Harvest Goddess, Sixth Degree of Kevin Bacon . . . and lo and behold tucked away in there is ‘Family’.  My sponsorship is a gift to four members of a family, and so with a somewhat wary relief, I ticked ‘family’.  BUT A FIRST NAME IS STILL REQUIRED.  Um.  Xxxx?  Ja-Sa-Sa-An?  What?  This is to a family.  There is no single ‘first name.’  And the four of them are going to have to look at whatever inanity I come up with for the duration of the sponsorship.  Thanks ever so. 

If you’re lucky, your other would-be sponsors are less volatile.  I am fed up to here with web sites that have been designed by lobotomised beavers with hangovers.  This time of year I do a lot of on line ordering and there are a lot of worthy charities out there, some of whose web sites function more or less straightforwardly.  I could have sponsored another [furry critter worth keeping alive and well fed] for half the price of one of your [glorified superwhatsits]:  but it wouldn’t [grow up to make the world a better place].  So here I am.  Fuming.

R McKinley Dickinson

I’m going to be at the hospital a lot of tomorrow again and then I have somehow allowed myself to get ensorcelled into frelling handbells in the evening.  ARRRRGH.  I’ve warned Niall I will have No Brain after all that knitting* but he seems to think this is not as relevant as the Body in the Chair with Outstretched Hands Holding Handbells part of it.  He may live to regret this.  Meanwhile I’m missing deadlines right and left** but if I have the kind of limbo-brain later tomorrow night that is utterly incapable of work*** but could probably splodge out a blog post as an alternative to cruising end-of-year knitting sale sites . . . I’ll give splodging a try.

PS:  Thanks for all the nice supportive words, all you readers, both on the forum and in my email inbox.  The kindness of strangers–or semi-strangers–is more of a comfort than perhaps most of you guess.

 * * *

* Just as an aside, thank God for knitting as a way of not driving the ill person you’re visiting crazy.  Also the nurses would probably throw me out after I picked the second chair to pieces.  Not that God is my favourite person recently with all the depressing mayhem in my life, but my monk ruthlessly pointed out that the bloke whose birthday we’re celebrating next week suffered^  so that none of us need ever suffer alone AND THERE’S A CYCLICAL NON-LOGIC TO THIS THAT I DON’T LIKE AT ALL but . . . yeah.  I have no idea how it works but the thing is that it does work.  It doesn’t work ENOUGH.  But . . . Jesus and knitting.  Okay.  Whatever.

^ among other reasons to do with life everlasting where it’s never too cold to sit still and contemplate higher things and eating too much chocolate never makes you fat

** No, nothing to do with EBON, I’m afraid.  EBON doesn’t even have a deadline to miss at the moment, sigh.  No, things like interviews for Open Road who are trying valiantly to publicise all those shiny new ebooks, and house insurance.  HOUSE INSURANCE??  I’M OVERDUE ON THE HOUSE INSURANCE?  Fortunately an insurance company that has had you by the short hairs for a number of years tends to come after you pretty robustly.  MONEY.  WE WANT MONEY.  WE WANT YOUR MONEY.  WE WANT IT NOOOOOOOW.  I put the cheque in the post today.  That only leaves 1,000,000,000 deadlines of a moderately life-threatening nature to go.

*** This includes looking at columns of figures with slightly more understanding than if I were staring at the Voynich manuscript, and writing my signature on the bottom of cheques that the bank won’t return as forgeries^. 

^ Tear splotches and bloodstains, of course, are majestically ignored.  Banks have seen that all before.

 

A wide glittering variety of arrrrrrrgh

 

We’ve got three or four degrees of frost out there* AND THE FRELLING MONKS HAVEN’T TURNED THE FRELLING HEATING ON IN THEIR FRELLING CHAPEL. I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO COLD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.** At least when you’re Street Pastoring you can, you know, fidget.*** Although the big problem with SPing in the COOOOOOLD is that you’re supposed to stroll, so you can catch people’s eyes and check for passed-out drunks in alleyways and things. The Street Pastor Amble. It’s a skill. I haven’t got it. When I walk slowly I tend to fall over. My sense of balance—which used to be pretty good; I was one of those people who could run on Maine so-called beaches, springing gazelle-like from rock to rock†—has been programmed for speed since I first waveringly clambered up a coffee-table leg and launched out into the perilous unknown of the living-room floor at the age, I believe, of eleven months. About most things I’m the slowest person on the planet†† but it’s like walking is trying to make up for deficits elsewhere. I WALK FAST. I ONLY KNOW HOW TO WALK FAST. And falling over when you’re a Street Pastor does not look good. I’m working on my amble.

Anyway. Street Pastoring can be very, very, very cold. BUT NOT AS COLD AS SITTING STILL IN A FRELLING CHAPEL WATCHING YOUR BREATH SMOKE AND TRYING TO THINK ABOUT GOD.††† You kind of get distracted by thoughts of When Is This Torture Going to End and It’s Only December. I spent November telling myself that it wasn’t that cold yet‡ and that I’d start bringing a blanket again in December. And then I missed last week because the monks were having a doodah that crude amateur members of the public were not invited to and so tonight . . . well, I brought a blanket, and it’s a good thing or I’d have FRELLING DIED OF EXPOSURE. It was a near thing anyway.‡‡

But I also saw my monk beforehand, and as I said to him as he let me in, just seeing him cheers me up ‡‡‡  so I can’t moan properly.  Listen, all you loyal blog readers, a little of why I haven’t posted in yonks-frelling-plus is a little bit the thing about how if I stop posting every night I’ll stop posting altogether, but it’s mostly because my life has taken a violent turn for the absolutely shitty, and I’m not coping too brilliantly. There are days when I’m not coping at all. This blog has always been Days in the Life . . . but that’s been mostly predicated on the idea that I can find something in the daily round that is modestly amusing and can be amped up for public consumption, and the opportunities for funny are sodblasted thin on the barren, meteorite-crater-pocked ground lately. As is my energy level for spin doctoring.

The one contrariety I am admitting to, and which I tweeted about a few days ago, is that THIS IS A NEW COMPUTER. AND DO I HAVE TO BOTHER TELLING YOU THAT IT IS DRIVING ME BANANA NUT TWIST SUPERLATIVE SUPREME BONKERS WITH EXTRA FROSTING. No, I didn’t think I had to tell you that.§ And my old laptop died SPECTACULARLY about twenty-six minutes—okay, maybe it was twenty-six hours, but it was also a Saturday—after I took delivery of this one, holding to its aged and flaming bosom as it crashed burning, a certain amount of stuff that hadn’t been transferred yet, and while in theory YES EVERYTHING IS BACKED UP, um, WHERE??????

And at this interesting juncture I’m going to leave you, because I have to get up what passes in my world for early tomorrow, I have a friend to visit in hospital. . . .

I hope I will post again some time this week. It’ll be a good sign if I do. Prayers, positive thoughts, well-disposed corn dollies or anything else of a spiritually uplifting nature, most welcome. §§

* * *

 * ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH. Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. HOLD THAT ARRRRRRRRRRRGH. Meanwhile, we have three or four degrees of frost out there and any geraniums I missed in the dark are toast.^

^ ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH continued.

** More ARRRRGH. As above.

*** EVEN MORE ARRRRGH. Maybe I’ll go knit, I mean knit, something.

† Well maybe not precisely gazelle like

†† WRITING BOOKS, for example. Whimper.

††† I’m sure I saw ice crystals on the Host we were supposed to be contemplating. I really hope heaven is warm.^ 

^ Hey. We all get to heaven. It just takes some of us a few more millennia+ than others.++

+ Possibly spent in small rooms with large blackboards writing something like ‘I will not murder people who misuse “lie” and “lay”’ six hundred and forty-seven gazillion times.

++ And I said warm. I didn’t say fiery inferno and demons with pitchforks and nasty laughs.

‡ And it wasn’t. I just don’t sit still any better than I walk slowly. My blood goes gelid and viscous and stops circulating. Both my congenital fidgets and walking speed may merely be the result of having lazy blood that has to be PRODDED to keep circulating.^

^ Don’t I feed you enough VITAMINS? I feed you SHEDLOADS of vitamins. Grrrrr. +

+ I hate taking pills. But supplements are one of the things that got me off the sofa again after the ME stomped me flat, and keep me off the sofa# now. I know supplements are controversial. But I’ve proved their usefulness to my own satisfaction many times by the simple expedient of running out of something occasionally and working backwards when the symptoms the thing I’ve run out of is holding off start coming back. I haven’t found the vitamin or vitamins that will plug the gaps in my memory—although the idea that this is the shiny improved supplement-supported memory is pretty terrifying.

# Mournful looks from hellhounds~

~ Smug look from hellterror, who can fit on my lap in a chair when there isn’t time for a proper sofa.

‡‡ In spite of the two turtlenecks, two wool cardigans, heavy leather jacket, wool gloves, heavy long johns under the 501 Levis, two pairs of socks and wool inserts in my All Stars. COLD. COOOOOOLD.

‡‡‡ Go with it, he said, grinning.

§ All those earlier ARRRRRGHS? Well, for example, the ‘function’ and the ‘control’ key have swapped places. I use flapbloodydoodling control all the time. For example you hit control-i for italic, okay? You hit function-i and NOTHING HAPPENS, except to your blood pressure. For another example, Raphael, in theory, gave me a PINK FONT option in the drop-down menu here in Word. If you start a new document . . . it’s in pink. Which I probably don’t want.^^^ But if you look in the drop-down menu for pink . . . it isn’t there. You have to go frelling dive^ for it in the Colour Hexagram, which is not^^ user-friendly.

^ CONTROL-I NOT FUNCTION-I ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH 

^^ ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH 

^^^ I’m in pink now because I had to copy and paste format-free into a fresh document to get rid of some SODITDOODAHANDTHEHORSEITRODEINON hard line breaks that I have no+ idea about where they came from or anything else, and having just spent about twenty minutes GETTING RID OF AUTO-BULLETING EVERY TIME I WANTED TO INSERT A FOOTNOTE++ I’m feeling a little harassed. +++ I’ve also had to reinstate the shortcuts for my footnote icons and let’s not even APPROACH the interesting time I’m having with IE.

+ ARRRRRRRRRRGH

++ ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH

+++ ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH

§§ And I apologise about KES. But you don’t want me doing any final tweaking to half-finished eps at the moment, trust me. It would not end well.

Another Monday* blah blah blah

 

I’ve fallen into the habit of spending some of Monday evening with Penelope and yarn.**  I usually try and feed the frelling-frelling argling-bargling hellhounds—and the perfect, adorable, food friendly hellterror—before I leave.  One of the things that sometimes works with the [muttermuttermutter] hellhounds is that if you get them STARTED and they think, oh, right, food, it’s not sooo bad . . . they will keep eating.  So I’m always on the lookout for dog-treat type things that might tempt them and are free of all the things they can’t have SIIIIGH.  There’s a relatively recent line of tinned dog food that costs more than fresh frelling caviar*** that they will sometimes open one eye and look at thoughtfully.  And there’s a new flavour of it that I gave them a big chunk of the other day which they ate with what passes in their case for alacrity and enthusiasm.†  So today I chopped more of it up in smallish globs and shoved it into their proper food . . . put the bowls down and turned my back on them since they don’t like being watched . . . but there were terrific gobbling noises proceeding from the hellhound corner and I was weak and permitted myself to be hopeful. . . . Nah.  Chaos had merely done his Prehensile Tongue thing which I’ve noticed before makes a remarkable amount of noise, and precision-instrument extracted every small globule of Consecrated Canine Comestible Flavour of the Month, leaving an interestingly pock-marked bowl like an artist’s rendition of the surface of the moon in . . . dog food.  Darkness had decided that this operation was too much like work, and having opened the one eye and looked thoughtfully at his bowl, closed the eye again without moving.

Sigh.

But the day has been not without its small sheepish victories.  I’ve previously referred to the fact that my singing lessons have not been going splendidly since we started up again after summer break . . . there have been goodish lessons and there have been I’M RUNNING AWAY AND JOINING THE CIRCUS lessons of traumatising disaster, but while I haven’t quite got to the point of thinking I should start investigating another outlet for my frustrated musical non-talent†† I have occasionally wondered if I should be thinking about it.  Meanwhile I keep missing church because I’m too blasted tired to get in Wolfgang again and drive—yo, God, why did you plop someone with ME down a forty-minute commute from the church she’s happy in?  I’m sure I’m supposed to be learning something from this tedious piece of reality but, um, I’m too tired—which means I’ve also been missing service singing.  I was signed up to sing this Sunday—yesterday—and I’ve been in unusually-bad-even-for-recently voice the last fortnight BUT I WANTED TO SING and . . . I think I’ve said this before, the awful Jesus Is My Boyfriend stuff does give me a certain amount of freedom from worrying about Mozart or Handel getting special permission to come back and haunt me, and I can just sing, and offer it as part of my service to the church.  I like to think that God hears it the way it’s supposed to sound, like Handel or Mozart sung by Marilyn Horne or Renee Fleming.

I started out last night sounding like a bowl of rice krispies.  If you’re into breakfast cereal that crackling noise is fine in the morning as Morse code for EAT ME but not so much later on in the day with a microphone in your hand.  But something happened:  God, or team spirit††† or alien mind probe or whatever but . . . I started singing.  Indeed I was making so much noise I decided to dispense with the microphone.‡

And I went in to Nadia today and sang How Beautiful Are the Feet, which is the horse that threw me violently something like two months ago and that I have been afraid to go near.‡‡  And I didn’t sound like Marilyn Horne or Renee Fleming‡‡‡ but it was recognisable.§  So I’m putting off running away and joining the circus for at least another week.

* * *

* NOOOOOOOO IT’S DECEMBER NOOOOOOOOOOOO

** Penelope used to knit . . . and stopped for some unfathomable reason.  I’ve been spending even more than my usual amount of time lately hanging from the chandelier^ and screaming ^^ and have therefore had even greater than usual need to knit as a coping mechanism^^^ and Penelope has got re-interested by relentless exposure.#  We even went to one of my favourite yarn shops the other week so she could squodge what she was buying.  But the best part was that WE TOOK NIALL WITH US.  SO HE COULD DO THE DRIVING.  Hee hee hee hee hee hee.  Hey, he’s retired.  He doesn’t have anything better to do, does he?##  I don’t think he’s going to learn to knit however.  He looked kind of stunned in the yarn shop.  Of course I wasn’t paying that much attention because I was on my knees digging through the sale bins.

^ Although I no longer need a chandelier.  Excess of . . . um, excess . . . has caused me to grow little super-glue pads on the ends of my fingers and toes so I can stick to the ceiling like a very large gecko.  THIS MAKES TYPING AND WALKING ON THE FLOOR VERY INTERESTING.  It’s also hard on the finger joints.  Which I need limber and flexible for knitting.

^^ Those of you who know me off line will be aware that I have reason, and that most of the reason(s) don’t get on the blog.+  I am hoping this is merely a phase and what I used to think of as a life will return.  Meanwhile . . . thank God for knitting.  Even if at this rate—as I was telling some friend or other recently—I may never get past garter-stitch scarves and ditto pullover jumpers, the square kind where the body is two big rectangles and the sleeves are two littler skinnier rectangles and you leave a gap in the sewing-up for your head to poke through.  HEY.  IT’S ALL ABOUT THE YARN.  I’ve been saying this for, um, is it getting to be three years now?  It’s all about the yarn.  Cables?  Pfffft.  Lace?  Are you frelling joking?  On a good day with a following wind I can manage simple increases and decreases.  SIMPLE ONES.  ON A GOOD DAY.  But I buy nice yarn.

+ It is now MONDAY night and my new computer gear HAS STILL NOT ARRIVED.

# She is remarkably calm in the face of a ranting madwoman waving pointy sticks in her face.  She raised four children.  Nothing flaps her.

## Remodelling the kitchen.  It will look really flash when he finishes.  That’s when.

*** But I’m pretty sure Darkness wouldn’t like caviar.  He’s not a big fish person.

† If the hellterror ever approached a meal like that however I’d think she was seriously ill.

†† Triangle?  Washboard?  Plastic kiddie piano, the kind with the keys that don’t work?

††† I know about having one’s little ways and so on^ but sometimes my own blinding ridiculousness amazes me.  Last night the one other singer asked me where I wanted to stand.  In the back, I said.  She looked at me pityingly.  There is no back, she said.  There are only four of us.^^  I know, I said, but we can stand farther back on the stage.

And this does it for me.  I have no idea why.  We’re still face to face with the frelling congregation—there is nothing between us and them—but we stand about a foot farther back than—last night—the keyboardist and the guitarist.  I can look at the back of someone’s head if I want to.^^^

^ !!!!!!

^^ Guitar, keyboard, us.  Plus a bass player and a drummer who somehow or other get not to be on the stage with the rest of us.

^^^ Although since the leader is usually on guitar, you kind of want to be able to see his face to pick up your cues more easily.  And yes, so far as I’m aware, all our guitarists are blokes.  Any female Christian guitarists with a high tolerance for fatally maudlin Christian worship music moving to the south of England, I know a church that needs you.

‡ In kindness to the assembled.  The more my life is kicking me in the head the flatter I sing.  Nadia says this is dead common but . . . I don’t want to be expelled from St Margaret’s, or even the band.

‡‡ Nice horsie.  Nice horsie.

‡‡‡ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

§ I was, I believe, even occasionally on pitch.

Just a day like any other . . .

 

. . . only more annoying.  Thanksgiving in England.  Feh.  COMPUTERS.  GINORMOUS ERUPTING ARRRRRGH WITH LOTS OF BOILING LAVA.  And maybe a fire-god or two.  And Boadicea—she’s supposed to have flaming red hair, right?—and the scything knives on her chariot.*  What’s the computer version of a red-haired warrior queen with whizzing chopper blades on her war-chariot’s wheels and a really really bad attitude toward her overlords?  I NEED THIS.  WHATEVER IT IS.   I NEED IT BADLY.  I NEED IT NOW.

Peter and I did manage to go out for dinner—I know, we should have been at home slaving over a whole series of hot, speaking of hot, cooking aids, including the wooden spoon you accidentally left in the whatever and which is beginning to give off a pleasant fragrance of charring wood, but—why?  Christmas will be here soon enough.**  Never mind my confusingly American-sounding accent, my passport, and my place of birth:  I’m British.  I find Thanksgiving quaint, and, with my digestion, superfluous.  Another good reason to live in England.  Tick that box.

But we didn’t go out to dinner to celebrate, if in a non-traditional way, because it was Thanksgiving.  We went out to dinner because we were supposed to go out for tea, only I missed.  I got to bed late even for me*** thanks to one of my duty shifts running over time, and when I finally staggered out of bed again I ENTIRELY FORGOT that I was supposed to be ringing Raphael so he could do his Remote Meddling and yank the latest diabolical computer miseries† back into some temporary but functional alignment†† . . . until I’d already had the first necessary injection of caffeine, and had tried to turn a computer on . . . ARRRRRGH.

By the time Raphael had returned from rappelling down the side of the Post Office Tower††† I was too late to go out for tea.  But we went out for dinner.   Which was really better anyway since you don’t usually get champagne at tea time.

* * *

* I could have put Kes in a chariot . . . maybe in book twelve or sixteen or something.

There is a surprising paucity of really satisfactory images of Boadicea, considering she’s one of the few major historical heroines around.   I was looking for one with impressive, you know, gauntlets, which might conceivably be magical bracelets, with or without rose embellishments.  There aren’t any that I can find after poking around in the usual places via Google:

http://www.magnoliabox.com/art/552566/will-you-follow-me-men-c61-ad

Hey, lady, anything you say, if you stop waving that kitchen knife at me.

http://www.magnoliabox.com/art/567252/westminster-bridge-monument-london

Um, how are they steering those horses?  Telepathy?

** I spent one ENTIRE EVENING this week when I could have been, I don’t know, writing a blog post or something, on-line ordering frelling they-deliver pot plants to go to the members of the Dickinson clan it would be the most embarrassing if I forgot entirely (again) . . . I mean, I don’t forget, I just don’t get around to, you know, organising the final dash to the holiday finish line . . .  including having got so far as buying things like calendars and tins of biscuits WHICH WILL HAVE GONE OUT OF DATE by the time I unearth them next year because I didn’t get them WRAPPED AND SENT LAST YEAR.  Anybody want a decorative tin of stale biscuits?  I can occasionally recycle the calendar photos which are often . . . oh, roses or something.  And may I just remark that that venerable British manufacturing icon, Blu Frelling Tack^, is not worth its reputation.  Sure, it’s reusable.  It’s reusable up to and including the 1,000,000,000th time something has fallen off the wall/the back of the refrigerator^^/the side of the cupboard/the edge of the bookshelf, etc, that it was supposedly glomped onto by Blu Tack.  I have other things to do with my time than resticking. ^^^

^ Why not Blue Tack or Blu Tak?   Blu Tack merely looks confused and indecisive. +

+ Hums an old American folk song and does not make any obvious remarks about British politicians.

^^ which is much more attractive covered in calendar cut-out photos of roses

^^^ Laundry, for example.  The INSUFFICIENT advantage of washing hellmob bedding every two or three days is that the critter hair problem is much reduced+.  Well, sort of.  The ambient hair level is definitely lower, as is the amount I claw out of the washing machine after every critter load.  But it means that EVERYTHING I OWN that gets washed in the machine now has some critter hair in it.  Yes, I run a quick cold wash after the mob stuff comes out, but that’s like using a broom to sweep off snow-laden steps that you’ve already tramped up and down several times.  I used to be able to sort of stagger post-critter-washes so the jeans took the worst, and then the sweatshirts and outer layers and finally . . . hmmm.  I’m here to tell you that I haven’t found a clothes brush yet—including those disposable sticky-tape ones and the little pads that are like a cross between velvet and Velcro—that works worth a damn on your underwear.

Meanwhile . . . I began Flea Protocol #7,243,006 today.  SIIIIIIIIGH.  One of the reasons I’m posting less often lately is that I’m frelling reading everything I can get my gnarly hands on about . . . well, about parasites generally, at this point, and about immune system strengtheners and blah blah blah, to give me more ideas about what else to try for fleas.  The fact that there’s a huge amount of controversy and conflict and contradictory PROOF [sic] about what is safe to use is not helping.  Maybe I could just bore the ugly little sods into going somewhere else?  . . . Oh God guys here she comes again.  I just want to suck blood in peace, what is her PROBLEM? We’re so tiny—she’d never have to know we’re here—all 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 of us.  Okay mates we’re gonna hide behind this ear—NO NO SHE’S GOING FOR THE EARS.  One of the advantages of naturally comatose++, plasticine+++ hellhounds is that you can roll them around and rub whatever into their fur, including all their private bits, any way you like.  As long as it doesn’t involve swallowing anything it’s all attention, and it’s all good.  The hellterror is also perfectly happy to be rolled around, but she tends to want to engage with the game WILL YOU HOLD STILL YOU THING.  ARR-ARR-ARR-ARR, says happy engaged hellterror.

+ I still want to know whose brilliant idea it was to design the front-loader part of a front-loading washing machine to accumulate dirty water, critter hair, tiny shreds of unidentifiable gubbins and really unpleasant semi-dissolved yuck, in the un-get-at-able bottom of the door, defended by several heavy, uncooperative folds of rubber tubing.  Which is apparently still standard over here, including the greater European Union, since both my last was and my current washing machine is, German#.  My not-very-new-any-more washing machine gets very mixed reviews from me;   not only is the front-loading door familiar in all the wrong ways,  its filter is emergency only and you must approach it by precision serial usage of several Special Tools and the manual suggests sacrificing a black cockerel at the new moon as well, although advice about how to predict which new moon is the one heralding more-than-the-usual filter anguish does not seem to be included.

# Different brands.  I try to make different mistakes.

++ Except, of course, outdoors, if there is a prospect of SOMETHING TO CHASE.  Although Chaos did manage to slam into a cupboard once back at the mews because he saw a mouse amble across the floor.

+++ Or possibly Fawn, Charcoal and Tri-Colour Tack

*** I bring the hellmob back to the cottage from Third House sequentially, hellhounds first and hellterror second.  I looooove the new system, by the way, because the Last Hurtle of the Day is built in, without recourse to Wolfgang, and can be any length I/we choose, depending on energy levels, the way the day/night has gone thus far, what is going to jump on me from a dark corner in the day to come, and a variety of other factors, lately chiefly the heaviness of the RAIN.^  Wednesday night I was coming back, as mentioned above, um, rather spectacularly late, which is to say, um, dawn, and noodling along not paying attention to anything much while Pav investigated every leaf, shadow and discarded crisp packet . . . and WE SUDDENLY MET ANOTHER WOMAN AND HER DOG.  OOOOOOPS.  The other woman and I looked at each other in amazement.  I never see anyone else out at this hour! she said.  Erm, I said, neither do I—failing to mention that I hadn’t been to bed yet.  She had all the irritating glitter of the early riser about her.

^ Have I mentioned that fleas like warm and wet and that one of the things that haunts me is the possibility that this unprecedented invasion is a front runner of global warming?  And I’m really looking forward to the return of malaria to southern England.  Not.

† The beginning of the week I had no email for nearly two days.  The middle of the week I had no internet for nearly two days.  I’ve been doing a lot of knitting.^

And my new kit—ultrabook and iPad Air—was supposed to be here by the end of this week so Raphael could install it next week AND GUESS WHAT IT’S FRIDAY NIGHT AND I HAVEN’T HEARD ANYTHING.

^ Which I promise or, if you prefer, threaten, will be the topic of a blog post soon.

†† This process is seriously disconcerting.  I turn on the gizmo programme from my end, it goes SHAZZAM!!!, my screen turns midnight-blue and suddenly Raphael, from however many miles away, is invisibly moving my mouse around and opening and shutting my files and my browser(s) and . . . eeeeep.

††† See, there was this peregrine nest dangling over the gruntzenjam ventilator of the main computer scorbovarg, and the operators all cried in one voice, RAPHAEL!^

^ He used a rope to keep up appearances.  An archangel hovering beside the Post Office Tower in central London would definitely cause a traffic jam.

 

 

KES, 146

ONE FORTY SIX

 

“But we need her!” cried the big man with the bloody sword.  “I—we—cannot hold without her!”  The tall, scruffy, scrawny black dog beside him sat down, pointed her nose at the ceiling and howled.  “Indeed we are not holding!” continued the man.  He rubbed his hand over his face;  the palm came away wet.  Dispassionately he looked at the smears of blood and sweat.  He scraped his hand down his filthy leather cuisse.  He was so tired he could barely raise his sword;  he who had held the way single-handed against the enemy at Dree for near to two hours. “This is not my world and I am weak here;  perilously weak.  Were it not for my two doughty companions this portal would be broken ere now;  broken past even your mending, Lady, till she could not come back.”

“You are not to such an awful pass yet,” said the Lady, not without sympathy;  but he thought she sounded grim and tired.  But all sounds grim and tired to me at this ill time, for grim and tired are what I myself am.

The dog beside him lifted her head again and howled.

I wish to howl too, he thought, but I may not, for it is not seemly.  Aloud he said:  “No, Lady, we are not, or ye and I could not thus speak.  But we who stand before ye”—and he was aware of a splintering, bobbing shadow somewhere behind him and the dog, making gestures, he guessed, not respectful of the Lady.  A little louder he went on:  “We do not hold;  we only deflect—a little.  There are things that should not be here, that have slipped by me—us—because there are too many of them and too few of us.”  And because the air in this place lies like lead upon my chest, and my eyes blur and tear, and my thoughts move slowly, and my arm slower yet.  “I fail, Lady.  I am failing thee.”

The Lady’s laughter was harsh and startling.  “You are nothing like failing, you great dolt.  Your strength and courage amaze me still, for all that I have known you so long.  No one else could hold this way;  I did not know if you could either—or if I were signing your death warrant by giving you charge to try.  I would send you aid if I could—I would send you her if I could—but I cannot.  I know that by cause of our strait there are things let loose in this world that should not be here;  we must hope that they will not thrive, like a water snake in a desert, or a bird of the tropics in a blizzard.”

She stood up, away from her desk, still holding the pen she had been writing with, restlessly drawing its speckled feather through her fingers.  The long elegant dog sleeping at her feet had been hidden by her skirts;  it looked up as she moved away.  The black dog at his side stiffened.  He looked down in surprise;  he would not have expected a dog of this world to be able to see into the Lady’s.  The seeing was hard enough for him, and he’d been trained to it, as he had been trained to ride and to use his sword.  “Tis only Topaz,” he said to the slender black head.  Topaz, as the Lady’s sighthound, could see anywhere the Lady saw;  she glanced at him at the sound of her name and her gaze was immediately caught by the bony, bedraggled sighthound beside him.  The two exchanged a long enigmatic look as the Lady turned back to him.

“We have had a few pieces of good fortune in this dire turmoil.  Murac is not the disaster I expected;  I could not believe the stones when they chose him—or,” she added drily, “that he did not run away when the fire and water and earth were brought to him.  But he did not.  And he now serves her voluntarily;  and unfortunately I think we have need of his—acumen.”

Guile, he thought, scowling.  Murac!  Deceit.  Dishonesty.  Dishonor. 

“And when she took her necessary wound, twas the Falcons at the Tower.”

He looked up at that, distracted from thoughts of the vile Murac.  “The Falcons?” he said, and he heard the unexpected hope in his voice.

“Indeed,” said the Lady.

“Is—” he began, not sure how to continue.

“She is,” said the Lady.  “But she believes no one has recognised her—recognised what she is.  Her colonel certainly has her eye on her, but only because she is a superb soldier, and rides that mad little mare of hers like a centaur.”

He found himself smiling.  The Lady smiled back.  “This moment is soon over,” she said.  “But our situation is desperate—not hopeless.  And your hob is welcome to be as rude to me as he wishes, so long as he stands by you and the path you guard.  He shall have a bowl of dragon milk at the end, if he desires, if I am still Lady at the completion of this affair, and can ask so hazardous a favour.

“And Sid . . .” she paused.  “Sid, my dear love, my darling, we are counting on you.  Our victory—or our defeat—depends, finally, on you.”

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