December 26, 2010

A Merry Mod Christmas

So a couple of months ago I found this great t shirt.  (Actually I found it about six months ago, only they were all sold out.  So I went huh, I didn’t want it anyway, stupid old t shirt.  And then in the next catalogue there it was again and I said you evil ratbags you are teasing me in an evil ratbaggy way!!!!  But then I went on line and it was available again.)  And I said HA HA HA HA HA HA I will buy one for each of my mods as a CHRISTMAS PRESENT, sort of, and I will then ask if they could each pleeeeeease model their excellent mod-type t shirt and I would then have an INSTANT CHRISTMAS POST.  It didn’t work out quite as planned.  But hey.  And since it didn’t work out quite as planned, keep scrolling, there will be a kind of Double Seventh as a gap-filler.

The team t-shirt which, given the reading habits of the mods, should read, "Whence might I procure one?"

Maren with Lola. Unites States.

Tabbs napping, oblivious to Amanda's (AJLR) cool t-shirt. England.

Southdowner with the gorgeous Louie. England.

Find the hidden ferret! jmeadows, United States.

That'll do, Bramble. b_twin_1, Australia.

Black Bear sporting sporty bear hat minus cats plus giraffes. United States.

So, like, Merry/Happy Christmas, slightly late solstice, slightly early standard new year, whatever, I’m sure you can find an excuse to open a bottle of champagne.  I mean, we’re all celebrating, and you’re reading this blog, aren’t you?

I’ve Already Told You I Was Not Dreaming of a White Christmas. But Did Anyone Consult Me? No, They Did Not.


Well of course I bought one for me.

If I'd realised I'd've bought the super extra large.


It’s been kind of a long day, one way and another.  And I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.  Probably.  Including the Strange Anti-Magic of Memory Cards.

We haz presents.

Lotsa presents. And kind of a lot of tinsel. I did tell you about my tinsel fetish.


And with a semi-bah Ho Ho Ho I will wish you all a very good night. . . .

Grinch Eve


I'm a winter flowering pansy. So I'm flowering. What's your problem?

Please note snow and ice in the pot.  I have no idea.  This heroic object has been sitting exactly where you see it through this last month of snow, ice, snow, ice, snow, and ice, on the front stair at the cottage.  The reason the pot’s at an angle is because it’s sitting in a miniature snowbank.*

           Two of Peter’s presents still haven’t arrived** so I was out sprinting through the town this morning, knocking little old ladies aside and trampling small children underfoot, in search of replacement gifts for The Man Who Is Impossible to Buy Gifts for and Whose Birthday Was Only Eight Days Ago.  I was modestly successful.***

            But as I was bolting from shop x to shop y I had to pass by ye olde gifte shoppe which ordinarily does not see a great deal of me unless I need another New Arcadia tea towel/mug/postcard to frighten some American friend.  And my hand reached for the latch and my feet had taken me over the sill before you could say I’m TIRED of waiting for all our missing Christmas ornaments to reappear.  

Oooh! Shiny!

Yup. Bells.

Yes they have teeny clappers and they make a funny ghostly almost-ringing noise.

As you’re wrestling with the little *&^%$£”!!!! which are all possessed by demons (like some tower bells I could name).  They’re on a stretchy gold cord and what they love best is going SPROING and then knotting themselves into a yellow-tin-foil rat king.

I had ASSUMED they're plastic but they kinda feel like . . . veneered gingerbread.



But . . . but . . . they're the wrong shape! They're the right hand hooks--the left hand one is an old one. Boo hoo! Waaaah!

I haven’t decided if I can bring myself to use the new ones.  They look so . . . insecure.   Of course I do have a pair of needle-nose pliers. . . .

* * *

* I keep worrying about how much garden I’m going to have left by spring.  I also wonder if I’m going to have any pots left.  I’m resigned to the terra cotta ones all being brick dust by April but plastic—witness my ex-dustpan^—doesn’t like getting this cold either, and what I’m really worrying about are the fancy lightweight fibreglass pots that I loooove madly but that cost. a. bomb. and if all of them have gone I may take up ferrocement^^ sculpture or something instead of more plants.^^^  

^ Which I’m still using because I haven’t remembered to buy a new one yet.   The dirt tends to fall back out again through the cracks so you have to slide a piece of cardboard under it and then get it to the trash really fast. . . . 

^^ Which I assume you can frost-proof, since they make houses out of it. 

^^^ Ajlr tweeted this today:

Go away!  Frell dranglefabbing off!  I don’t want to hear about it!  They’ve been wrong before!  They can be wrong again.  They can be wrong again now.  I object to the idea that I’m still living in Maine.  In Maine with an hour less winter daylight.  . . .Okay.  An hour less daylight but better footpaths.  At the moment the footpaths are a good deal more negotiable than the [pedestrian] pavements in town, where the unshovelled snow has been beaten into a hard, glossy lonsdaleite-like surface that makes even those of us equipped with yaktrax a little nervous.

 ** We may have to do something radical this year like celebrate Valentine’s Day.   Or maybe I’ll just save them till next year.  Assuming that they do eventually arrive.   The frelling interwebz are really magnificently unreliable just at the minute.  Since I rarely get anything much sent out in time for the actual 25th of December I sign up for those ‘email me when the life size plastic reindeer are back in stock’ alerts and re-order when I can.   I’ve had two count ’em two web sites crash fatally on me in the last twenty-four hours—I mean big national mail-order companies, both of which I’ve used several times before—after I’d already struggled through to the end of the check-out process.  In one case to the end of the check-out process twice.  This is enough to turn Santa Claus into Super Grinch.  As I have pointed out in a crisp and brutal fashion to both of them.  I actually got a nice email back from the first one saying that they’ve decided to change their money-extracting software because what they’re using is so unstable.  YOU DIDN’T WANT TO DO THAT BEFORE CHRISTMAS??? 

*** Thank the gods for mmmph.^  Also for grzzzf.  Which latter I admit is at least half for me, but when you’re dealing with the Impossible Man you snatch frantically at any prospect, even the dubious ones.  And I’ll be glad to see it. 

^ Remember:  Peter reads the blog.

Melbourne PRC – guest blog from B_Twin & Ithilien

Melbourne, Australia, PRC

On a pleasant summer afternoon, eleven Australian McKinley book-lovers gathered together in the grounds of a grand old Melbourne mansion for a picnic to celebrate the release of PEGASUS. The group consisted of bellringers, librarians, software engineers and an odd farmer^. Although dark clouds threatened nearby, there were only a few drops of rain during the afternoon.

The mansion in the gardens

Attendees (except for the late-comers)

Some of the attendees had already read PEGASUS, others were very excited by the prospect of a new Robin McKinley book. There was also much admiration of the gorgeous PEGASUS covers. After the posters were drooled over, the two mods – B-twin and Ithilien – conducted the official raffles for the 2 posters and copy of PEGASUS. All three items were won by excited fans.

A very happy librarian (wearing PINK!) with her prize copy of PEGASUS

The festivities continued with a feast inspired by SUNSHINE. There was blueberry pie, apricot pie, caramel mud cupcakes, sandwiches, vegies with crackers & dip, lemon bars, two types of choc-chip cookies, fruit & custard tarts and a huge punnet of fresh cherries! The drinks table groaned under the weight of the thermos for tea & coffee, water & grapefruit juice, ginger beer and cordial. No one left hungry!

Mmmmm. Thanks for the fruit tarts Audrey! :)

Conversation was non-stop and covered many Robin McKinley novels as well as libraries, e-readers, fantasy books and bellringing.

The afternoon was rounded off when 3 attendees went across the road from the park to ring bells^^ at St James, Gardenvale.

Thanks to forum members Audrey and Susan in Melbourne who worked hard to make this a success. :)


^ 5am start… cooking, check sheep, more cooking, drive for 3 hours, PICNIC. ;)

^^ A highly unusual activity for readers of this blog… ;)

The Grinch Gets Her Tree Up


There are two Grinches in this household, two Grinches out of two members* which makes the Christmas thing kinda hard.  So, yesterday, I said to the other Grinch, it’s the 21st of December.  I want our tree stuff OUT of the attic and IN the sitting room and I want it TODAY.

            Peter was amused.  Never mind.  He got the stuff down from the attic.

            And then I seem to have spent an unconscionable time last night writing the second part of my dissertation on JANE EYRE.  With a little help from other people.

              So I didn’t get to the tree till tonight. 

tree. Ta da.

              Yes, it’s fake.   I’ve told you about the two-storey trees we used to have at the old house, which stood in the elbow of the stairs to the first floor.  This is one of the things we gave up when we moved into two small houses.  So, since we’d never liked killing trees–and I think because we had made a secret pact to become Grinches–the first year in town Peter went out and bought a fake tree.  Peter puts it together every year–all the branches pull out for storage and have, therefore, to be jammed back in for use–so he’s allowed to have nasty, irritated, negative feelings about it.  I think it’s great.  It is a correctly shaped, somewhat furry green object that you can hang stuff on, it doesn’t prickle your hands to death, shed needles all over the house**, or make you feel horribly guilty for killing a live thing. 

               First stage.  Wrapping the stem in sparkly.

several colours of sparkly

               A fair amount of general house-decking will occur also;  I’ve got swathes of the stuff.  I’ve shown you our matched Mythopoeic Society lions, haven’t I?  Probably last year at this time, when I did the same thing.***  Peter won the kiddie for THE ROPEMAKER and I won the adult for SUNSHINE. 

Lions in bondage. Sparkly bondage.

               The first ornaments to go up every year since I bought them:  two reds and a white.  Of course now I wish I’d bought more.

Yep. Rose. Of course.



                 Hooks.  Relief.  Although dumping them on the floor was a big mistake, since they don’t pick up against a slippery flat surface.   More ARRRRRRRRRGH.#

These also move around of their own accord of course. You can tell that by looking at them. Never trust an S curve.

                  Decorated tree. 

All over sparkly.

               Every year since we moved into town we have the same conversation:  Peter, I say, we’re missing some ornaments.  In fact we’re missing a lot of ornaments.  Blrrgh mmmbl grah, says Peter.  Peter, I say, we had a two storey tree.  Where are all those ornaments?   It’s a mystery.  It’s a mystery this year too.  I’m still hoping they’ll turn up.  It’ll be one of the things I mutter on my deathbed:  I wonder where all those nice Christmas ornaments went.  You know, the glass icicles and those William Morrisy gold things from the Met Museum, and is that a white light I see shining at the end of a long tunnel and people waving?  And what about the really nice horse ornaments that Kathy gave us?  Or the reindeer?  Oh, all right, I’m coming, I’m coming.##

But there are enough to decorate both sides of a little tree at the same time.

                 I think it’s a nice touch, the top of the tree bent over with the weight of its angel.  I feel a little like that myself–always supposing that that’s a good angel weighing down my shoulder.  But I think it is.  Good angels are so earnest.

Angel on a mission. Very earnest.

                 Happy Day After the Winter Solstice.  Hey!  The days are getting longer!  If you had a minimicromeasureymonitor you could probably demonstrate it!

* * *

* The hellhounds don’t count in this case.  They don’t buy people presents.  They don’t agonise over buying people presents.  They aren’t cruising the web at 3 am looking for that perfect t shirt they saw last July and IT’S GOTTA BE HERE SOMEWHERE.  They say, is it chicken?  If it’s not chicken, we’re not interested.^

^ Sometimes they aren’t interested even when it is chicken.  I love this weather we’re having, you know?  I love it so much.   I love it even more for the fact that the hellhounds like to eat snow and then they get stomachaches and won’t eat.   This enhances my pleasure in winter no end.  Just . . . No.  End. 

** Christmas tree needles are, of course, self-motile.  Don’t give me any nonsense about clinging to your jeans-hems and the bottoms of your house shoes.  They move by themselves.

*** No imagination.  It’s very sad.

# Remember metal hooks, she says wistfully?  That you could stretch and pinch and so on?  The plastic ones just lie there, or break.

##Actually I’m still hoping they’ll turn up when I FINALLY get Third House sorted.  FINALLY.

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