December 29, 2010

Weather and other circumstances*


IT’S MELTING.  One inexperienced with winter could be forgiven for leaping to the distressing conclusion that the entire countryside is melting, the way it goes from ice to MUD in one easy step.  But the temperature dragged itself above freezing yesterday and has been marching doggedly** up that hill since, to the point I shifted down a gear (so to speak) when I got dressed this morning:  I was becoming kind of tired of my few heavy woollies because I had got rid of most of my old Maine paraphernalia when we moved out of the old house, since in thirteen years I’d hardly worn any of it.***  So today I’m wearing nice little mild, temperate English layers.  And am not weighed down to the chair.  There are all kinds of things I’d forgotten about withstanding winter.  Which will be back in a week or so I guess, but meanwhile . . . maybe Peter and I should make a bolt to Wisley† while the bolting is good.

            Because most of the hellhounds and my favourite walks†† involve tiny back roads and Wolfgang we haven’t been on any much recently.†††  The last three days we’ve finally been getting back out of town again and it’s quite ridiculously thrilling.  Distant horizon with a crest of tall trees, wind in your face, rabbits dancing in the furrows, hellhounds trying to yank your shoulders out of their sockets on account of the dancing rabbits‡.  Now if I only had a camera to take pictures. 

* * *

* I’m still reading camera reviews.  AAAAAAUGH.  I had pretty much decided on one because it seemed to me the best compromise of the things I wanted:  excellent picture quality, speed of reaction for chasing hellhounds, macro for getting into my roses’ faces, low-light cope-withableness for indoor nonsense including being able to turn the flash OFF and jiggle with manual settings, relative idiot-proofness on the surface but with Hidden Depths tucked away safely in menus and things for some day I’m feeling brave.  And size.  Geez Louise, the things that get labelled compact and pocket sized.  If you’re a kangaroo or a pelican, possibly.   I also flatly deny that anything with interchangeable lenses IS A COMPACT.  If you have more than one lens, you have to have a camera bag.  This is not compact.  This is not compact.^

            So.  Anyway.  There was a clear winner^^ on all fronts . . . until I looked at the specs again and realised that the site that likes my choice best, and which I’ve therefore been using for that one as I play cut-and-compare with my Internet Explorer tabs, lists physical dimensions in a different order than the sites for the other contenders—height before length.  So in fact my front-runner isn’t the smallest but the largest.


^ Also, my inner geek is showing, and despite my well-known weakness for pink, but I’m gobsmacked at the idea of buying a camera for the colour.  Yes, certainly if the model I chose came in pink, I’d get the pink.  And one or two of the runners-up may have stayed on the short list slightly longer than they might’ve on strictly their photographic merits because they did come in pink.  But I am not going to buy a camera for the colour. 

^^ I’m not giving you names and model numbers not to be cute, but because I’m still dithering, and I’m starting to suffer the freaked-out, hair-standing-on-end involuntary-wailing symptoms of information overload. 

** I’m trying to think what dogs are actually dogged.  Not hellhounds certainly. 

*** This is not the same thing as not complaining bitterly about the seriously frigid indoor temperatures.  55F/12C is positively balmy outdoors in January.  55F/12C is never balmy indoors.  I wore blankets indoors.  Mere jumpers and longjohns were gravely inadequate while you’re sitting quietly at your desk.

            I was considering leaving aside my longjohns tomorrow, when it may soar to 50F/10C.  But no.  That would be foolhardy.  I have a wedding to ring tomorrow at South Desuetude, and that tower is going to be opulently, awe-inspiringly cold.  I’m trying not to think what the ropes and the plain-bearing bells are going to be like.  Where we were going for Peter’s birthday a fortnight ago, only both a funeral and winter got in the way. 

†† All right, my favourite walks.  But hellhounds are quite capable of expressing BOREDOM if the weather has been insalubrious for too long and they’re seeing an awful lot of the same patch.  Spoilt?  My hellhounds?  Tut tut.  Although the cluelessness of dogs is one of their many charms.  They may worry about stuff—and both mine are worriers—but some things are given.  Like chicken.^  And daily hurtles.  They may begin to approach crankiness if I’m taking way too long to hang the laundry/beat into submission one of the piles on my desk/write three syllables of PEG II but it clearly never occurs to them that I’m not going to take them out for a hurtle.  If the pacing indoors seems to be becoming a mite feverish I will offer them the garden door.  They go out for a final pee every night^^ perfectly contentedly but if I try to put them out in the morning they look at me in outrage.  Waste good marking pee on the garden?  I must be joking.  Now if I will please put my shoes on and get on with things. 

^ Including when they don’t want any.   

^^ Or not.  I think Chaos fancies himself an astronomer. 

††† One of the many things against winter is the amount of time it takes to kit yourself and your hellhounds out to face the elements.  Good frelling grief.  And yaktrax, passionately as I adore them, become a yes-no-yes-no agonising decision to be made before every excursion as soon as winter starts getting worn through in a few places.  You feel a bit foolish looking for the bad patches to give your yaktrax something to bite into, but if you wear them on pavement they start breaking.  My first pair are still working, but they’ve snapped in enough places that I have to wind the little steel spirals back on the rubber straps before I go out again.  Gaah.  Meanwhile the worst stretch of road in this entire ungleblarging town has been the exasperatingly looong driveway to the Big Pink Blot of which Peter’s cottage is a part of the mews.  The drive was carved languorously out of the landscape in the days when the owners of the Big Pink Blot would, of course, have had servants’ attics full of peons suitable for applying to snow-accumulation difficulties as necessary.  Wolfgang, being four-wheeled rather as the hellhounds are four-legged, can slide majestically round the corner into the courtyard with occasional directional corrections rather like astronauts applying retrorocket bursts.  Me . . . not so much.  So to get in and out of my cul de sac and in and out of the mews on foot I have to wear my yaktrax even as most of the pedestrian pavement elsewhere is beginning to re-emerge.  Thus reality.  Fantasy is so to be preferred. 

NOOOO.  Hellhounds have a sad inability to recognise the difference between cultivated and uncultivated ground.  I’ve explained to them that rabbits have generally not been well brought up, and just because they play in a planted field or a standing crop doesn’t mean that we should.


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