Bluebells, like everything else this cold nasty year, are late.** I’ve been out stomping through the critical bit of countryside several times in the last three weeks or so and about ten days ago I thought, okay, next week is touchdown or lift-off or whatever. Of bluebells. And then various things intervened and I thought, if I miss the bluebells this year I am going to be CRANKY. Not to mention the small passionate sub-coterie of bluebell-adoring blog readers who would never forgive me.
And then I thought, wait! Rima is coming! I will MAKE HER WALK THROUGH A BLUEBELL WOOD WITH ME! It’s the sort of thing you should do with your American visitors, if they come at the right time of year.
So today we walked through a bluebell wood. Or two. And it was great, except for my camera battery going dead on me. It started flashing red about two-thirds of the way through our walk so I was agonising over every frelling shot, waiting for it to go BYE BYE. SPLAT. HAHAHAHAHAHA. –ARRRRGH. However Rima took a lot of photos too, and will send them to me when she gets home. RIGHT, RIMA?*** So if I missed anything fabulous I’ll post Rima’s version later.****
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I’d heard of Murano, the Venetian island where the famous glass is produced. I hadn’t, however, heard of Burano, renowned for its lace making. We spent a cloudy (but fortunately dry) few hours there photographing not the lace, but the wonderful brightly coloured houses and their reflections in the canals. Burano is about an hour away from Venice city centre by Vaporetto, the waterborne public transport equivalent of the London tube (subway) but with a much more confusing map!
* Last of the series! Waaaaaah! –ed.
Life is an ugly pond-scum rat-assed bastard and then you die.
This not-eating spell with the hellhounds has been grinding on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on, and they’re moving into serious weight-loss and loss of condition territory. You can see there’s something wrong, especially if you know them from a good patch. Darkness is as bad as I’ve ever seen him. He had another double-ended geysering fit last night, during which he dragged me across half Hampshire; today he had what I call ‘colic’ and what it means is that his guts howl like rabid hyenas and he won’t eat.
Usually we cycle through these spells and come out again without too much damage except to my sanity. Not this time.
Okay, here’s the promised bad news: Pavlova is going the same way. Oh, she eats. But . . .
She’s been having irregularly squishy crap for several weeks. I’ve tentatively put it down to the hormone storms of first heat. But it’s worrying. And I’m a little oversensitive on the subject of critter digestion after almost seven years of the hellhounds.
Then about a week ago she produced a gigantic mucousy thing . . . followed a few hours later with the Yellow Geysers. Noooooooo . . .
I took her to the vet. The vet said ‘colitis’—which is one of those fancy no-help non-diagnosis words, it just means inflammation of the lower gut. We knew that. He gave us some stuff—including some stronger or different or more comprehensive probiotics, in case this was a result of the antibiotics she’d been on for the skin infection on her forehead after the Malign Encounter in the Churchyard.
We went home.* Her output has been better this week, but not that much better. This has made me unhappy. Meanwhile there are the hellhounds. My stress level could fuel the energy grid of Hampshire, and possibly the entire south of England.
This morning, while she is still on what the vet gave us for ‘colitis’, she produced a gigantic mucousy thing . . . followed a few hours later with the Yellow Geysers.
The Yellow Geysers, which is exactly what the hellhounds have. Have had for almost seven years. It’s not just the runs, it’s a specific form of the runs.
I am so going to the vets again tomorrow. This changes the entire game, you know? If the totally-non-related, different-frelling-breed Pavlova is going down with the same damn thing that has haunted hellhounds and me for seven years. Whatever it is. Doesn’t it almost have to be parasites?** But WHAT parasites? Hellhounds were exhaustively tested for everything known to veterinary science—when they were first geysering. As my bank balance still remembers.
Meanwhile . . . you’ll forgive me if I don’t burble on tonight. I’m not feeling very burbly anyway, and immediate circumstances include that I got four hours of sleep last night. Er. ‘Night.’ Starting about 6:40 this morning. . . .
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* I can’t starve her or she eats her bedding.^ She gets a little rice boiled to mush in chicken stock after an acute attack. This week she’s been on chicken as well as chicken stock and rice.
^ She’s in my lap+ as I write this.++ She’s trying to eat the left mid-thigh of my jeans which I appear to have spilled something INTERESTING on.+++
+ It’s okay. Hellhounds had a sofa earlier.
++ One-handed typing oh joy. What price voice recognition software that actually, you know, recognises, rather than expressing its unique creativity?
+++ No, she’s gone to sleep with her nose on the wet spot she’s been licking. Maybe it will give her tasty dreams.
** Unless I’m the vector.^ Toxic hellgoddess. Yellow Geyser Mary. I also don’t see any escape from the articulated lorry-load of GUILT when—that’s when—we finally find out what this is.
^ And in case anyone is trying to think of a tactful way of making an inquiry of a personal nature . . . I was diagnosed with IBS over thirty years ago, before anyone had frelling heard of it, including me. And Digestive Issues are dead common with people with ME. If this is a trans-species parasite I wouldn’t have a clue. I wouldn’t know normal if it bit me.
MAY I JUST REITERATE HOW MUCH I FRELLING HATE FRELLING WORDPRESS? IT JUST LOGGED ME OUT AS I PRESSED THE ‘PUBLISH’ BUTTON FOR TONIGHT’S KES. WHICH IT THEN ATE. GULP. NO TRACE. YES, OF COURSE I HAVE THE ORIGINAL AS A WORD DOCUMENT, BUT I DO FINAL TWEAKING IN THE ADMIN WINDOW, WHICH I THEN HAD TO GO TO THE BIG STUPID FAFF OF DOING ALL OVER AGAIN BECAUSE WORDPRESS SUCKS DEAD BEARS. THANKS A LOT, YOU PIECE OF CRAP, WORDPRESS. THANKS EVER EVER EVER SO.
I trudged up the steps and met Mike scampering down. I wasn’t sure I approved of a man who might have already turned forty who still scampered. He grinned at me, misreading my expression. “Don’t worry. We’ll have you back in New Iceland in plenty of time.”
Yes, that’s exactly what I’m afraid of, I didn’t say because I was out of breath—less from the climb than from borrowing trouble. Borrowing trouble is very tiring, trouble being such a nimble and protean beast. Through the pounding in my head I couldn’t remember how long my lease was for: was it month to month, or had I agreed to three months—six—a year? What would constitute a valid reason for breaking my lease? A madwoman in the attic? Swamp water on the floor and tentacle marks on the walls? If I left where would I go? With too many book boxes and a tall black dog?
I left the kibble on the top of a pile of those book boxes and walked through the parlour to dump my plastic bags at the foot of the stairs. I was going to have to face the upstairs soon. I groped for a light switch and (miraculously) found one. The hall jumped into existence. I hadn’t noticed, yesterday with Hayley, that the stair risers had leaves and little round flowers like Tudor roses carved on them. Gelasio’s penthouse hadn’t had any Tudor roses. It hadn’t had any stairs either, except the ones to the roof garden, which either were or were pretending to be white marble. I had tried not to pay attention when some minor domestic arrangement cost more than I earned in a year.
I stared up. I was going to have to go upstairs and face down those beds some time soon. But not now. I turned the light off again. Coming back through I paused to look out through the big parlour windows. I had always loved that long low golden afternoon light, when the weather and work deadlines cooperated. The light was especially lush today—or maybe I was just acclimating to the jungle. What was out there? Could be anything. Cold lakes. Burgundy velvet and golden hounds. Big black men riding big black horses. My memory lingered on that one. The man rode so beautifully I might have thought he was a centaur—it was as likely as anything else that had been happening right then—except I didn’t think centaurs usually had their human bodies growing out of the middle of their backs. But it wouldn’t have to be cosmic horror and deinonychus in my gone-to-wild garden. There might even be more rose-bushes, tangled up in their tougher neighbours for some protection against the elements. A girl can dream.
I sighed, and turned again to face the parlour, and more boxes than I was sure had been in the van in the first place. That was another good reason to stay here: once I got the books out of their boxes I did not want to have to load them back in again. Bookshelves. Oh help. My lease undoubtedly denied me permission to screw things into the walls, free-standing bookcases cost, and those kit things were sagging in the middle before you finished loading the last shelf. And at almost-forty years old I refused to go the cement-blocks-and-planks, poverty-stricken student route. Refused. Refused. Well, maybe if I used attractive vintage bricks. . . .
I went through the kitchen on my way to the front door. Anything to delay carrying any more boxes. I wondered again about the weird jaggedy row of something at the very back of the van. Maybe my trophy dragon’s jawbone had got left on the last row of boxes. Ha ha. One of the magicians Flowerhair had worked for had had a dragon’s jawbone as a staff. It had not been a happy collaboration.
Sid was stretched out in front of Caedmon looking utterly comfortable and at ease. After the winter she had just had I couldn’t begrudge her. I even stifled uttering the threat to find panniers that would fit her. (Although it was an interesting thought. I might consult Susanna. My mother usually had a Ghastly or two who would pull a tiny cart, which was a big hit at kids’ birthday parties in our neighborhood.)
The van was rocking slightly as I reluctantly descended the stairs, refusing to admit to myself that it wasn’t box avoidance that was troubling me, it was facing that the unloading stage was over with . . . and I would shortly be forced on to the next stage. Mike emerged from the back of the van, carrying something. What? I didn’t have anything that looked like that. My eyes were involuntarily drawn to my rose-bush in her pot, attempting all by herself to be a rose-hedge lining the driveway to Rose Manor.
Mike set what he was carrying down beside her, and climbed back into the van. I got to the bottom of the stairs and was standing beside my rose-bush and her companion by the time Mike stepped gingerly down from the back of the van, carrying . . .
. . . a third rose-bush, which he set beside the first two.