January 28, 2011

One of those twenty-four hour things


 I don’t know why it’s been a day, but it has.  I mean, aside from the twenty-four hour group aspect of dayness.  It’s been one of those days that from the moment your feet hit the floor* you’re not moving fast enough.  Blah glub.**  Because they are threatening us with snow again I was determined to get out of town for our morning hurtle in case we can’t tomorrow.  On our way back to Wolfgang after a ramp and wander relatively free of untoward incident*** we saw emerging from the crossroad ahead of us, a dog.  And then a second dog.  They milled around for about thirty seconds—were presently joined by a third dog—while hellhounds and I slowed down . . . and down . . . to a dead halt, and I started muttering imprecations.  There were eventually four dogs at the crossroads before the human appeared.  She saw us all right, but did she make any move toward the collection of leads round her neck?  She did not.  She wandered off down the path we were on . . . and we walk a lot faster than almost anyone else in Dodge City.  She looked over her shoulder at us a couple of times—yes, lady, we’re gaining on you:  I’d have to get down on my hands and knees to walk as slowly as you’re going—and started calling in that bright chirpy voice you know means that her dogs will ignore her completely.  Which of course they did.  She managed to get a lead on one of them . . . the other three sallied back up the path, tails high, to interact with the hellhounds.  At this point, still calling what I assume was their names†, she broke into a run.  I guess this was out of some dog training manual.  It’s quite a good ruse with puppies, who usually will follow you:  full grown, undertrained dogs for whom your newness wore off long ago, not so much.

            She disappeared around a corner of the path, with her single dog on a lead.  The other three accompanied us jovially back to Wolfgang.  Good job about the jovially.  I waited till they had dispersed before I drove away.  I have no idea.

            The rest of the day has been taken up by reading contracts††, talking to Merrilee about contracts†††, and ringing frelling handbells.‡  I’m starting to worry that Niall is going to think that our plain courses of bob major are becoming not too bad and we should start thinking about ringing a touch.  He was getting all excited about touches of bob major on the way home on Tuesday. They’re much easier than you think! he cried.  All you do is—ungle mungle blah blah blitherump drool!  And my answer to that is:  Noooooooo.     

           Ratbags—what with all the other excitements‡‡ I forgot to ask Niall about his car.  Never mind.  I can ask him tomorrow, while we’re gearing up for our assault on Vicky, officially our tower secretary but more accurately our Great High Panjandrum in Charge of Everything.  We have a cunning plan. . . . ‡‡‡ 

* * *

 * Possibly because the phone rang before you were ready to get up. 

** Never did get the floor hoovered which in my presently dustpan-challenged state is a more critical activity than usual.  One of these Thursdays my handbellers are going to show up in precautionary diving suits.  

*** I’ve had it drummed into me by Jackie Drakeford and Penny Taylor, my sighthound, lurcher and longdog goddesses, that your sprinting-into-the-next-county hellhound will come back looking for you at exactly the place he left you, so it behoves you to stay there, unless you’re absolutely dead sure you’re following him accurately.^  My guys—so far, please all the gods, goddesses, gremlins and imps of the perverse—have always come back to me pretty quickly.  But it is interesting, not necessarily in a good way, just how strongly they mark where they left you and are expecting to find you.  If the three of us are walking/hurtling along the edge of a field where they can have an eye on me (‘we keep her for the roast chicken but she is so slow’) they track me just fine.  But if I’ve been out of their line of sight for only a minute or so, they can’t immediately find me again if I’ve moved.  Chaos gaily reemerged from the hedgerow the other day and looked for me—but I’d walked on a dozen steps and had then stopped and turned around to look for him—and he couldn’t see me.  I know all dogs see motion much better than they identify anything standing still, and I’m under the impression sighthounds are particularly extreme this way.  I felt I was standing there in plain sight—but he was staring at the spot I had been, and I could just see him starting to worry when I realised—and waved and shouted his name.  Hellhound joy.  Darkness trotted up alertly at this point:  Problem?  Was there a problem?

^ And you’d probably be wrong. 

† I admit my hearing is deficient, especially on a cold day while wearing a bright pink balaclava and a double-wound scarf, and with Emmylou Harris pouring into the single earphone I have in one ear, so for all I know she was invoking the ravine goddess to open a crack in the earth and swallow all pursuit.  In which case I am pleased to report she was not doing it at all well. 

†† Uggggh.  I hate contracts.  They’re full of publisherese which is sort of upside down and backwards Sanskrit with occasional Pictish in mirror writing and the bits you manage to decipher despite their best efforts only make you hate publishers.^  Every time I read a contract I wistfully contemplate all those happy, carefree authors who figure that’s what their agents are for, flick through the pages thinking of something else^^ and sign obediently on the dotted line.  I’m sure Merrilee wistfully contemplates those authors too, as she’s answering my 1,000,000 still-clueless-after-all-these-years and anal-retentive questions.  I suspect she goes home, restrains herself from kicking the dog, and says to her husband, Have you ever thought about running a B&B in Schenectady? 

^ There’s a quote I’m failing to find on Google which I have on a wall in my office back at the cottage which says something like:  Contract:  a document legally binding only to the weaker party.  


††† See previous footnote 

‡ On one of the new knitting threads on the forum^ some experienced knitter has said soothingly that I and any other beginners following the New Dark Side story should remember that acquisition of a new skill is always slow, laborious, and containing great swathes of going backwards.  I RING HANDBELLS.  I KNOW HOW TO FAIL.  REPEATEDLY.  IT DOESN’T GET ANY MORE HUMILIATING THAN HANDBELLS. 

^ Not that I meant to start knitting, er, threads on the forum 

‡‡ Hellhounds wouldn’t eat their lunch and handbells were starting early.  When I got back to the cottage all three of the others were already there. 

‡‡‡ You’re all Blackadder aficionados, I trust?


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