December 31, 2009

New Year’s Eve

 

We were halfway through supper—cabbage and baked squash*—when I realised Peter was drinking beer.  It’s New Year’s Eve! I said.  And you’re drinking beer!

            I’ll be asleep by midnight, Peter said.  But there’s a quarter bottle of champagne in the fridge.

            The man who thinks of everything.**

            I have of course continued hammering and hacking . . . no, no, I mean daintily and gracefully adding the occasional faint brushstroke to the 99.99999% finished PEGASUS today.  Deadlines have no concept of holidays.  And it’s probably a result of the peculiar stresses of a 4 January*** deadline—ewwwww—that is producing in me a strange desire to make New Year’s resolutions.† 

  1. Reverse global warming.††
  2. Find a cure for cancer †††
  3. Pass a law that anyone responsible for an off lead dog who does not immediately come when called and/or stop harassing whoever they’re harassing will be sent permanently to that first experimental colony on Mars.‡  The dog can stay here.   The human miscreant’s assets will be sold to pay for the dog’s rehabilitation and rehoming.   

And.  Ahem. 

  1. Write PEGASUS II.   

Which, I fear, leads us to. . . . 

  1. Do something serious about spending less time on this blog. 

I know, I say this several times a year.  If I knew what to do, I’d be doing it already.  Maybe PEG II will inspire me.  And possibly the practise being short on Twitter and Facebook. 

              Meanwhile . . . Mmmm.  Champagne.  Mmmmm.  Happy New Year. 

* * *

 *  Stop that.  I like cabbage and baked squash. 

** I have been longing for an excuse to show you this, speaking of the man who thinks of everything.  Just in case any of you might have derived the erroneous notion that because Peter is a gentleman of the old school, with the BBC costume-drama accent to go with it, he has no concept of tacky.^IMG_0444

            It’s a tea towel.  It was under the Christmas tree last week.

 ^ You are permitted the obvious remark:  He married me.  And I am proud of my participation in and involvement with the tacky. 

*** Our wedding anniversary is 3 January.^  We’re putting it off.  If I’m recognisably alive and breathing on the evening of the 4th, we’ll have it on the 4th.  If I’m standing in a corner of the room muttering, But now I have to do it all over again, and moaning like a hellhound wearing a raincoat, we may delay it further.  April, perhaps.  Like perhaps . . . April 2012. 

^ Yes, the opportunities for champagne this time of year in this family are remorseless:  Peter’s birthday, Christmas, New Year’s, our anniversary—and one of Peter’s sons has a birthday on 28 December.  Back at the old house we had a few memorable birthday parties for him too, where the bubbly poured like . . . well, like bubbly. 

† I tweeted about this:   I may be trembling on the brink of having a New Year’s resolutions list this year for the 1st time in DECADES.  Yeep.  Am I someone else?  And our Black Bear, who disguises herself ineffectively as waxlion88 on Twitter, voted for me to be Angelina Jolie, who must have some interesting resolutions.

            Angelina Jolie?  For a few minutes I was thrilled.  Gain a quarter-century and several extremely buff inches, and get to majorly kick butt?^  Okay, where do I sign?  —And then I decided to find out exactly how many extremely buff inches I was going to gain and . . . she’s 5’8”!  Five-eight!  I’m 5’8”!  Frell!^^

            Let me think about this. 

^ Am I the only person on the planet to admit to enjoying the first Lara Croft?  Sure, it was utter and complete trash.  And your point would be?  It earned sixty-seven gazsquillion dollars in its first weekend and Jolie is serious eye candy.  I still don’t know anybody else who liked it. 

^^ I follow fashion the way I follow sports, which is to say I don’t.  Rugby?  Is that anything like balayage?  But I do know who Kate Moss is, and The Week http://www.the.week.magazine.co.uk/ recently in its famous people saying amusing things column quoted Kate Moss saying ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ and some of the outcry this has caused, that she’s encouraging anorexia, etc.  Uh.  Why is she encouraging anorexia?  Slightly depends on what you want your body for, and I don’t just mean high-fashion modelling.  Rugby, possibly, or balayage.  Now I agree emphatically that the whole fixation on subskeletal is unhealthy, and for that matter nobody needs to be skinny, and the ‘oh I just need to lose 5/10/25 pounds’ thing wastes a lot of time and heartache.  But at the other end of that spectrum there are a lot of very-not-skinny unhappy people who put stuff in their mouths as a way of swallowing down their misery.  It would be a great thing if they could learn ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ as an option.  I stay skinny, for example, first because I don’t want to have to buy a whole new wardrobe and second because I want to keep hurtling, and these knees won’t hold much more than what they’re carrying now.  I agree with Kate, and I’m not encouraging anorexia.+ 

+ And ask me in ten years, when post-menopause I have to eat twenty hard-boiled eggs~ a day and a gallon of tea for the jitter factor and nothing else.   Maybe I’ll have found good knee braces by then. 

~ You remember the old dieter’s chestnut# that hard-boiled eggs cost more calories to digest than they’re worth? 

# No, no!  Not a chestnut!  Chestnuts are fattening!    

†† But only a little.  No ice ages. 

††† I’m working on it.  But it seems to include a lot of broccoli.  

‡ It’s going to be a big colony.

Guest post by blondviolinist

 

 Stories from the Teaching Studio 

            I once taught two sisters from the same family who had wildly different personalities. One sister was extremely sensitive to criticism. Any time I wanted to correct something Becca was doing, I had to couch it in the most delicate of terms to prevent tears and week-long depressions. “So, your third finger was a little low in that passage. Would you please try and get it a bit higher?”

            The other sister was oblivious to any kind of subtlety. If I wanted her to even notice what I was saying, I had to use strong language. “Margee, that passage was horribly out of tune! What are you thinking?!?! Get your third finger back where it belongs!”

            Since I was good friends with the family, I taught the girls at their home. One day during Margee’s lesson—yet another lesson where I was being my usual dramatic self in order to get Margee’s attention—her sister was in the kitchen with the mother. (The house was set up so that the living room, where I gave lessons, was still readily audible from the kitchen.) Becca began to cry. Her mother asked why, and Becca sobbed, “Ms. Blondviolinist is being so mean to Margee!”  The mother (who knew very well how different her two daughters were) kept her own counsel, and asked Margee after her lesson if she had minded the way I had talked to her. “Mind? Nope,” said Margee blithely. 

            One of the standard teaching tools I use with young students is to tell them that their left hand fingers should be “Rainbow Fingers,” arching gracefully over the strings. This simile works well for my many female students. I had one young male student, Matt, however. Matt was eight years old, the youngest in a large family with several bossy older sisters. He was also cursed with beautiful blue eyes and curly golden hair. For the sake of his own survival, he had learned a good deal of independence and pugnacity. He also had a death glare, which he would freely use on anyone, teenager or adult, who dared to say, “Oh, what a cute little man you are!”  or “What adorable curls!” I did manage to avoid making any comments about his cuteness. One day, however, I was trying to get his left-hand fingers in the proper curled position. “Matt, your fingers should look like Rainbow Fingers.” He turned on me The Glare Of Death. Quickly I backtracked, and searched my mind to think of what other image I could use. “Missile Tunnel, Matt! Your fingers should look like a missile tunnel.” Immediately his eyes lit up: “Yeah!” He had beautifully correct left-hand fingers for the rest of the lesson. (Since then, all my male students are told that their left-hand fingers should look like the rocket tunnel from The Incredibles. Sigh.) 

            The ideal window for starting to learn a string instrument is between four and eleven years of age. Adult learners, while perfectly capable of learning to make some nice sounds at a skill level sufficient to play in an amateur community orchestra, will never be able to play with the carefree skill and technical comfort of someone who learned as a young child. I have had several students, however, who began as teenagers and progressed splendidly. One of these students, Sophie, started lessons when she was fourteen. Sophie was quiet, shy, and unsure of herself. She was a fast learner, and had a good ear, but she had a negative attitude towards herself. In lessons, she would apologize to me for every. single. mistake. “Sophie, you don’t have to apologize for all your mistakes,” I would tell her. “Lessons are the times you’re allowed to make mistakes! That’s how I know how to help you!” But she would still stop and apologize repeatedly during her lessons. She would also easily grow discouraged. Time and again, she would stand staring at a recalcitrant line of music, while I would say: “You can do it, Sophie! I know you can do it!” Over the months, her confidence began to grow. Finally, one day at her lesson she made a mistake, took the violin down from her chin, gave the music a meaning stare, and said: “I can do this!” And the heavens opened, and angels sang, and her teacher nearly cried. 

            I can be a fairly rough teacher, apparently, even when I’m not trying to be. A student of mine came to his lesson the other day with only his orchestra music from school, having forgotten all of his solo music and viola exercises. This particular student is a hard worker, and a student I enjoy working with quite a bit, so I didn’t really scold him for forgetting his music. I still had to fill up forty-five minutes with quality instruction (especially considering how much his mother pays for the lessons.) We started working on one of his pieces from orchestra, and I started working on his bow arm. For those of you who aren’t string players, that means I was changing the way he bent his elbow. A lot. You know those clips of ice skating coachings you sometimes see? The ones where the coach is giving arcane instructions about exactly which body part is supposed to go exactly where? Yep. That’s what I was doing to this innocent teenager. He’d only been taking lessons for a little over a year, so he was challenged, to say the least, if not a little bit scared to discover that merely bending his arm at the elbow was no longer good enough. Even bow-arm reworking, however, can’t take up forty-five whole minutes. So I pulled out the sight reading. Except… I had forgotten to bring my viola sight reading books, and he was going to have to read in treble clef. (Some of you might remember Robin complaining that she couldn’t compose for the viola just yet because she didn’t want to deal with the strange clef. Well, that strange clef was home base for this kid.) I didn’t feel too guilty at springing this on him, because he is in high school orchestra, and he will have to be reading treble clef now. However, it was rather confusing for him. To know how he felt, pretend that your computer has just decided to type a different letter of the alphabet for every keystroke of yours. So to write “I play viola,” you have to type “N uqfd antqf.” His poor eyes were crossing by the end of the lesson. As he left his lesson, he said: “I’m never forgetting my music again. I’ll walk home to get it if I have to.”

            Sometimes I discover that my students learn as much about me as I learn about them. This fall, I came into a student’s lesson drinking a coffee. The previous week, I had had a difficult week without much sleep, and had been rather spacey in her lesson. Kristen looked at my coffee and asked: “So, you’re going to be alert for my lesson?”

            “Yes, aren’t you glad you’ll have an alert teacher?” I reply chirpily.

             Kristen hemmed a little, and doodled on the floor with the point of her bow. “Well, I like seeing the random happy faces you draw in my notebook when you’re tired.”

             “I only draw happy faces when I’m tired?”

              “Yep.”

               It’s frightening, really, realizing that my students know more about me than I do.

The lights are on but nobody’s home

 

Brain dead . . . brain dead . . . la la la la la la la la . . . BRAAAAAAAIN DEAD.

            I did a gigantic thwacking glomerage* of PEGASUS today.

            I also hurtled hellhounds in a teeming downpour of clearly pre-refrigerated rain.**  Now I am ready to be grateful that it is and is supposed to be no worse than rain for the immediate future . . . but I’m still not happy.  The thermometer is hanging sullenly around 34-35°F and that’s just nasty.  I wasted nearly two hours this morning doing stupid stuff like paying bills and sweeping the floor*** waiting for the weather to get a grip, but no.  Finally I took a deep breath and . . .

            . . . put raincoats on the hellhounds.†  Gods.  They really hate their raincoats.††  Two years ago when they and the blog were young and Chaos was so ill over Peter’s 80th birthday party which I paid £1,000,000,000 to have in a function room at a country-house hotel and then nearly missed because I was at home holding Chaos’ paw, when I started taking Chaos for walks again after he recovered, he wore his coat whether he wanted to or not for the rest of the winter.  He’s never hated it as much as Darkness hates his, possibly because Chaos gets cold easier, or because I started stuffing him into it regularly then, when he was still a little wombly and below par.  Anyway, Chaos will eventually stop trotting along all humped up as if someone has him by the bellyband and is dragging him relentlessly upward, and start behaving in what passes for normal in his case.  Not Darkness.  Darkness is having a really bad time and he is going to adhere himself to your leg and moan for the duration of the walk to ensure that you do not miss a moment of his extreme misery.  He also is not going to Do Any of the Things you generally want dogs to do when you walk them, and for which you have brought plastic bags.†††   No, no, he couldn’t possibly, the bellyband is cutting him in half, his whole back end is going numb.  He can barely pee.  Look.  Three drops at a time.‡  He can barely lift his leg.  The Laurence Olivier of his generation.  If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, Absent thee from felicity awhile, And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain, To tell my story.   —I swear, by the way, that he blows himself up, like a horse that doesn’t like the girth.  Come on, privatepartshead, function, or I’ll make you wear the frelling thing indoors.

            I also went to that party.  I tried to fail.  Penelope was going to be picking me up at the mews, so I had to take my party clothes with me from the cottage.  First I left my shoes behind.  Then I left my raincoat behind.‡‡  And I did leave my (clean) socks behind, but I was wearing tights too so that wasn’t sufficient excuse.  (In this weather you wear boots.  Even to parties.)  We went.  And Penelope mingled and had compelling conversations and I . . . stayed near the table and ate raw carrot sticks.‡‡‡  Ah, thank the gods for raw carrot sticks, and the sort of party-givers who recognise that there may be people like me at their parties.§  Eventually Penelope took pity on me and took me home.§§  But I did want to tell you about a Signal Encounter I had . . . with a teenager who is not on Facebook.  Neither she nor any of her friends has a Facebook page!§§§  They don’t Twitter either!  Okay, you publishers, you industry pundits and know-alls!   You lied to me, poor credulous fantasy-writing fool that I am!  Not all teenagers are on Facebook!

            . . . lalalalalalalalalalalala.  I’m going to  bed.           

* * *

 *  See?  Brain dead.  I told you. 

** Hey, you sky gods!  Morons!  Don’t you know fossil fuels are the source of all evil?  Stop with the refrigeration already!  You haven’t got nearly enough wind farms^ to support all this cold rain, don’t give me your nonsense! 

^ Although, come to that, don’t get me started on wind farms which are a hot eco-buzz at the moment and let’s not spoil anybody’s fun by discussing practicality or efficiency

*** And telling my indoor begonias that they are the last of a once-proud race and they have a heritage to carry on so no slacking.  

† I tweeted about this earlier and was promptly—er—soaked in demands for photos.  You guys.  And the raincoats aren’t at all interesting, you know:  plain olive drab with fake fleece inside.  Sorry, but they’re what I could get, okay?  At the time I needed raincoats and I needed them now.  Yes, there are gorgeous whippet and greyhound fashion accessories out there . . . but I am NOT going to explore this fascinating new avenue of retail debt until the olive-drab ones explode or get rolled in something I’m NOT going to put in my washing machine.

            I admit if this generation were girls I’d say the hell with it and buy new pink coats.  But they’re not.  I further admit I keep thinking how good Darkness would look in pink.  But I’m STILL NOT. 

†† This is another excellent reason not to invest in fancy new expensive coats.  Except of course for the little voice in the back of my head saying, ‘It’s not the coats!  They hate olive drab!  You hate olive drab!  Darkness would cheer right up if he had a flattering pink coat, you cruel thoughtless miserly^ owner!’ 

^ broke till the money for PEGASUS comes through 

††† Biodegradable and too small, so you can moan too 

‡ Although, male dogs, three drops at a time is normal.  You never know what may need peeing on another five feet along the road.  Okay, four drops. 

‡‡  Well.  The raincoat I could go to somebody’s house in, as opposed to the raincoat I walk hellhounds and fall down in. 

‡‡‡ I also eyed the champagne punchbowl closely but I had to come home and face PEGASUS.  So I ate a lot of carrot sticks.  I like carrot sticks but I like champagne punch better.

§ I also asked for a cup of tea.  I explained pathetically that I had to go home and go back to work.  It was even good tea.  I bet it wasn’t as good as the champagne punch though. 

§§ It was her idea we go together!  I think she thinks I need socialising.  Well, she’s right, but . . . 

§§§ They do text a lot, she admitted.

Life saving

 

The truth is that the news about Luke knocked me for six* a week ago, and the aging brain just has not been willing to settle down and focus on PEGASUS.  Today’s the first good working day I’ve had since the accident.

            Which means in this case that at the end of a long unravelling day I have no brain left, and, worse, nothing to write a blog entry about.**

            So I thought I’d amuse you with a page of my notes.IMG_0296

            I assume every writer keeps cheat sheets*** of one sort of another.  The memory-challenged complex-other-world fantasy writer keeps long, harrowing, explicit, emergency intraosseous-access sheets.  And it’s worse even than usual with PEGASUS because, aside from the fact that I get older and crumblier-brained with every book, I have to have notes accurate and complete enough to zimmer-frame me through the second half of the story, AND as if that weren’t enough, I have great swathes of the pegasus language to deal with.  It contains way too many frelling vowels, and an almost complete lack of word breaks.  Pegasi, with the lungs they’ve developed for flying, don’t need to breathe very often.

            So here is the retrograde intubation sheet for a mere five and a half pages of manuscript.  Double-spaced manuscript.  I admit that the prospect of having to read the frellers when I’m lost and drowning in part two is making me take more time and care to write fully and legibly than . . . ahem . . . usual.   No, you’d better not think about this. 

 31

hnd gesture Alliance

drw hnd o t 1 sd, mean.g topic of convers or study.g

stylzd replica Balsin’s sig on Treaty, officl mrk regn.g monrch 

Sylvi is having (or trying to have:  remember that humans and pegasi historically don’t communicate very well) a conversation with her dad the human king and his bound pegasus, Lrrianay, king of the pegasi.  She’s just made the hand gesture for the Alliance, ie between humans and pegasi, and drawn her hand out to one side, which indicates (to Lrrianay) that this is the topic under discussion, although this gesture can also mean something you’re studying or working on.  She’s in her dad’s office at all because she’s brought a library slip for her father to sign, which he does using the stylized replica of Balsin’s signature on the treaty (of Alliance), which has been the official mark of the reigning monarch ever since.

            All of this is the kind of detail I will have forgotten by ten pages later, and may need again.

 34

Great Aunt Moira

Senator Barnum

Garren, nxt-eldr bro

Inner Great Court

peg sigils & pictograms

unknown rec of treaty

mostly thy told stories 

Great Aunt Moira and Senator Barnum are big pains in the neck.  They turn up occasionally later.

Garren is Sylvi’s next-older brother.  Farley is the next-older yet, and Danacor is the eldest, and the king’s heir.

Inner Great Court.  The palace has way too complicated a floor plan.  I’m not even going to try to decipher the notes on the right margin for you because I haven’t figured them out yet.

The pegasi don’t have much of a written language.  They have their mysteriously sculpted Caves, which are mostly kind of bas-relief, and which are presumed to contain an unknown-to-humans record of the treaty, and they have some sigils and pictograms.  Mostly they tell stories.  There’s a lot of oral history among the pegasi. 

35

Orthumber cousins

The queen is from Orthumber

36

best-birthdy-evr

Farley

Poih, Garren’s peg

salute sh’d nvr sn: w.gs swpt frwrd, alula hnds clasp.d 

Best-birthday-ever is what you say, instead of happy birthday, but especially on your twelfth birthday if you’re due to be bound to a pegasus

I told you about Farley.  He’s the second brother.

Poih is Garren’s pegasus

Salute she’d never seen:  wings swept forward, alula hands clasped.  Poih is also wishing Sylvi a best-birthday-ever.  I’ve got ‘alula’ in red because it’s a FUNNY WORD and I keep forgetting it.  (Gah.)  Mostly I cheat (speaking of cheating) and say feather hands.

 37

Oyry, Farley’s peg

brush bk of hand w w.gtip:  d nt quite defy ban on phys contct 

Oyry is Farley’s pegasus, and he’s best-birthday-evering Sylvi too, with another unfamiliar salute:  brush back of  (human) hand with a wingtip, which does not quite defy the ban on physical contact between humans and pegasi.  Yes, there is one—a ban on physical contact.  You may start to guess why, but you won’t get told till PEG II. 

. . . p 37 of the ms. continues on the next page of my dysrhythmia recognition pages, but this is enough for one night.  Or it certainly is for me. 

PS:  If you blow up the photo so you can actually read what’s on the page (this should probably come with a health warning itself) you may think you notice a bit of bleed-through.  Yup.  Second sides rule in this household.  Here the first side is a page of the mass-market CHALICE.

* * *

 * For no as-the-world-recognises-as-valid reason.  He’s not my father/son/brother/husband/best friend.  But you don’t necessarily choose who really matters to you, nor does everyone who matters come with a formally endorsed label. 

** Unless you’d like to hear more about vitamins.  Or about trying to return a pair of the wrong-size All-Stars bought through amazon . . . no, that probably is a blog entry.  For which I may have to invent more language.  I’m not sure UNGLEBLARGING  RODENT-DUNG-RESEMBLING FRELLER OF A DRANGLEFAB will quite cover it. 

*** They need a better name though.  Cheating is not what they are.  Life preserving is what they are.  Heimlich manoeuvre sheets.  O-positive plasma sheets.   CPR sheets.

Environmentally Correct Scrooge

A few hours ago I posted this on Twitter:  

I need more sleep.* Moan. There’s always so much to fit in during, erm, holidays. 

This is true, but it suggests a very misleading image.  The only party I’ve been to lately was Peter’s OBE.**  I have for the umpteenth day in a row forgotten to RSVP Edward and Alex’s Christmas party, which is now the day after tomorrow.  The invite has been lying on the kitchen counter for weeks.***  Penelope, this morning at service ring, was asking me if I were going, since Niall, in typical trainspotter . . . I mean handbell ringer fashion has other things to do, and Peter feels about parties the way I feel about reading my amazon reviews†, as she knows, so she and I could go together.  Yes.  We could.  We did this once a couple of years ago.  Penelope, as I recall, mingled, and had interesting, invigorating conversations both with other known local bell ringers†† and also with utter strangers who happen to know Edward and Alex from some other source than the New Arcadia bell tower.†††

            I lurked.  No lurker was ever more lurky than myself at a . . . party.  I hid round the corner of the fireplace at this particular party and drank too much punch, in that way that you do when you’re nervous and need something to do with your hands and it tastes good.  But as is the way with holiday—ahem—punches, it was stronger than it looked/tasted with the result that I was frelling legless by the time Penelope was ready to leave.  Why does she want to go with me again?  Maybe the fact I missed last year‡ has softened the sharp edges of her memory, even if it hasn’t done a lot for mine.  And meanwhile I didn’t get back to either her or Edward and Alex today about going to the party which will soon be tomorrow. . . . But on the other hand, who needs to talk with that punch around . . . ?

            But I’ve nonetheless been busy.‡‡  I’ve been ordering crucial things.  First I thought I’d be clever and hit a few Christmas sales before all the good stuff is gone . . . and come to find out that most of the on line community hasn’t got its virtual act together to open their post holiday sales yet.  I think this is pretty funny:  there are more 26th-December-opening-day sales happening on the high street, apparently, than virtually.  I was specifically looking for Christmas tree ornaments:  some of Peter’s mice apparently eat them, because I swear every year when the boxes come out there are fewer.  I’m still hoping there will be a Lost Christmas Ornament Box revealed in the rubble of unopened-for-years cardboard aggregations at Third House . . . but SIIIIIIGH that is now a quest for next year.‡‡‡  And somehow I’m just not going to pay full price for tree decorations on the 27th of December.  So that was a bust.

            And then there were the doggy bin bags.  I use these biodegradable ones, right?  I’m so frelling holy.  And they’re a royal pain, frankly, because they aren’t big enough.  It’s not the depth so much as the width.  I’ll spare you the gruesome details, but let me remark that anybody with anything larger than a hellhound is just not going to be able to cope unless there’s some trick of the wrist I haven’t got.  Ewww.  So I use them, carefully, but I grumble.  And then, lo!  What should appear on the pages of a paper catalogue I am idly flicking through to get to the women’s knitwear, since I have a permanent weakness for little layery things in the sorts of colours that are usually in the sales, but a different brand of doggy bin bag.  Bigger.  With proper tie handles.  Gods, I’m so excited.  Yes, it’s true, we’re sad folk, us environmentally conscious dog owners. 

            So I leap on line to order them and discover . . . a disastrous discrepancy in price.  What they say in the catalogue is disgraceful enough but it’s a lot worse on line:  140 bags for £15.  Are you bloody joking?  On a bad day I’ll use four.  And cereal-free dog food already costs Rolls-Royce-hire prices.  This particular catalogue happens to have a Live Chat Room! option.  You can chat with a customer representative!  This is getting really too sad to describe, isn’t it?  It’s two days after Christmas and I’m only just killing off the end of the Christmas champagne while in a chat room with a customer representative discussing the price of biodegradable dog bin bags.  Which no, I didn’t buy, because she said the 140 for £15 was the correct description.

            But wait, let me tell you about my much more successful attempt to buy vitamins. . . .  

 * * *

* Edited for italics.  Since I guess we’re pretending to be all rough and ready with this 140 characters thing, we don’t get wussy stuff like fancy type on Twitter and have to revert to asterisks for emphasis.  Feh.  It makes footnoting more confusing too.^ 

^ Yes of course I could start with something other than an asterisk, but that’s so impure.

+ I could also just . . . emphasize less.  You’re laughing, right?  You’re supposed to be laughing. 

** And I’ve already sheepishly admitted that that was more fun than I was expecting.  People!  Gah!  Conversation!  Gaaah! 

*** Which unfortunately suggests quite an accurate image of my kitchen counters.  There are a lot of Christmas cards I haven’t answered on the same counter.  One of the slightly more peculiar drawbacks of this blasted blog is that it completely destroys you for those round-up letters you used to write at Christmas or twice a year to the people that you feel bad about neglecting.  And so far as I know it’s still not done to send out a list of links to a few representative blog entries. . . . 

† See yesterday’s entry.  ‘If someone held a gun to my head’ is a phrase that occurs.

†† You haven’t forgotten that Edward is ringing master at my home tower, have you? 

††† For example, from other bell towers around the country. 

‡ Can’t remember why.  Probably we had visitors.  Shudder.  Driven from pillar to post^ by superfluous humanity, that’s me, during the festive season.^^ 

^ Disaster.  The disaster part is very important.  http://www.usingenglish.com/reference/idioms/from+pillar+to+post.html  

^^ There were zillions of people out walking their frelling dogs and churning the sodden countryside to ever deeper mud today+.  We met a friendly Rhodesian Ridgeback.  Cost me ten years’ growth when I saw that thing barrelling toward us.  And an extremely friendly three-quarters-grown yellow Lab, whose owners finally nailed her and dragged her away . . . and about two minutes later there was uproar behind us and bang:  three-quarters-grown-yellow-Lab bullet, did not want to continue with slow boring humans when there were hellhounds nearby. 

+ It’s going to freeze again tonight which means that tomorrow the landscape will be a low but deadly massif of sharpened mud-stakes, like an iron maiden lying on its back.  Tuesday it starts snowing again.  I know that global warming is a complicated issue but . . . maybe this is Gaia saying GAAAAAH to the pig’s ear that useless lot in Copenhagen made of setting up a schedule for humanity to stop destroying itself.~ 

~ I tend to the theory that Gaia herself will survive, but she may have to get rid of us and put her energy into developing intelligence in axolotls and fruit bats.  Or she may decide that intelligence was a mistake, and leave the axolotls and fruit bats alone. 

‡‡ First I had to get up and go ring again.  Any week that includes two mornings of getting up before 8 a.m. is not a good week.  Although presents and champagne do help

‡‡‡ And speaking of Third House . . . I need a greenhouse heater.  I thought with the walls, the bubble wrap, the grow light, and the foliar mass, that I wasn’t going to need a greenhouse heater too, which make me a little twitchy although most of ’em have failsafes up the wazoo any more.  It hasn’t even been that cold!  25°F!  Big frelling deal!  But my begonias have said, nope, not doing this, and croaked.  Damn.  I still have quite a few in the cottage windowsills but . . . damn.  Everything else still looks alive.  Cranky, maybe, but alive.

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