May 31, 2011

Navigational Follies

 

Today was Peter’s appointment for his bone-density scan at the St Frumentious hospital. I also had Fiona coming today. I had managed not to notice till about three days ago that both these momentous events were happening on the same day.* I knew next Tuesday was Peter’s bone scan. I knew next Tuesday was Fiona. I hadn’t registered that these were the, you know, same next Tuesday.

And then there was Atlas, who was coming back today** with a tube of crack-sealant suitable for keeping the Titanic afloat, assuming there had been divers in arctic gear standing by for the moment of impact. I was maybe a little preoccupied with thoughts of the cracks and the sealant, and the possibility of premature baby bats scuba-ing in my water tank. So when the hellhounds and I got back to the cottage after the morning hurtle, Fiona having arrived in the meanwhile, I didn’t immediately take note of her rather extraordinary headgear.

Then I took it away from her and made her take a photo of me.

Bats. It's BATS. And what's more, it's SPARKLY bats.

I also (excuses, excuses) had had another rotten night last night and was lurching around trying to remember anything at all,*** let alone details like bats and bone scans. I decided that in fact my lack of organizational skills in this instance was providential, and that Fiona could drive us to the hospital.

Mind you, I thought I was being a wimp. MANY people have told me that the St Frumentious hospital is really easy to find. Even Peter’s next-door neighbour, who, like myself, has the navigational skills of a wet rock, told me it was easy to find. Oh yes, she said. The very first roundabout after you come off the motorway has a sign for the hospital. NO PROBLEM. But I thought hey, Fiona, she’s here, why not. The bookshelves at Third House have been a disaster area for years, another month won’t hurt. If I don’t have to do the driving I might even make it to handbells this evening.

And then—and then!!!!! The next time I see Peter’s neighbour I am—I am—no, I am not, Peter has to live here. But I’m going to think about it. Fiona has a theory to do with the little-acknowledged St Frumentious Triangle. You can drive into it—there may be distant cackling noises, but you think it’s just the traffic—but once you’re there you will spiral endlessly in a mist of orange construction-warning cones† and signs directing you to the Harrumphadilly Household Recycling Centre—which apparently has outposts north, west, south, east, and grumplemow, the grumplemow being the giveaway that you have entered another dimension. I’m still not sure how we made it to the hospital. Maybe we didn’t make it to the hospital, maybe it was all a part of the hallucination . . . no, no, I’m sure we did make it, because we had a sub-Triangle experience, a sort of Hexagonatron, at the hospital, where there were lots and lots of signs, all of them telling us to go in a variety of wrong directions, so that we had paced out a ritual figure of great power by the time we arrived at our oft-deferred destination . . . causing the front desk check in to shut down with a snap moments before we arrived. We were thus left to make our wary way down a long dark deserted corridor to the very end where there was a sign saying bone density over the door, and on the door was another sign that said, Don’t knock. Sit down and shut up. We’ll come out and fetch you when we frelling well feel like it.

To my surprise, they did. Fetch Peter, that is. I assume they also gave him his scan. They at least implanted a memory to that effect. Fiona and I knitted.†† Then we leaped through the force field trying to compel us back the tortuous way we came, dodged the deadly laser blast and the bionic Rottweilers, attained Fiona’s car . . . and then we had to escape St Frumentius.  Preferably heading back toward New Arcadia and not the Aleutian Islands.  I know I saw a sign for the Aleutians.  That was just before we got back off the motorway and turned around.  Again.

Well, we did it. But it wasn’t easy. The next medical field trip that Peter needs, it’s either in Mauncester or I’m demanding the NHS provide us with a helicopter.  And I’ve put in for Fiona’s medal.  Although I imagine the bureaucratic details will be extreme.  They’ll probably try to insist that the St Frumentius Triangle doesn’t exist.

I even made it to handbells. Niall had told me that his Tuesday gang were meeting at his house tonight. He told me this somewhat emphatically, in the quiet, relentless, tunnel-vision Niall-about-handbells way, which is to say that even after I made a TOTAL rat’s ass of tower practise last night††† he reminded me brightly that there were handbells tonight. I emailed him this morning during one of my breaks for more caffeine that I was probably not going to make it AND that this was the correct decision, and he emailed back by return electron, Glad we’ll be seeing you tonight! Have a look at bob royal, since there will be FIVE of us!

Fortunately, however, I was not alone in my incapacity, and we stuck to plain hunt on ten. And—if I do say so myself—I was one of the steadier pairs.

*  *  *

* This is surprisingly easy to do, possibly even for people with relatively normal brains but a certain tendency to offhandedness. My stuff goes in my diary^. Peter’s stuff goes on the calendar on the kitchen wall at the mews. Since Peter cannot be expected to grope around in my knapsack for my diary—and furthermore I can rarely read his handwriting—it is up to me to do more than keep glancing at the wall calendar and thinking, yes, next Tuesday, I won’t forget, but I really should write it into my diary. . . .

^ My RINGING WORLD pocket diary. http://www.ringingworld.co.uk/purchase/diary-calendar-other/diary.html

This is so pathetically geeky. Nearly half the silly thing is nonsense about bells—early learning, method lines, touches, tips for ringing touches, guilds, associations, biggest bells BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH . . . there’s even a diagram at the front of what a change-ringing bell and its frame look like, which is not for you because you already know, and therefore it is there clearly so you can whip it out and bore the socks off your non-ringing friends.

I love it. I wouldn’t be without mine. I’ve been buying them for as many years as I’ve been in New Arcadia and started ringing again, and I try to order early because the idea of being without one some year is too appalling to contemplate. And this has nothing to do with my loathing for electronic diaries. I’m sure I could find a nice paper diary with roses on it, say.

** Yesterday was ANOTHER FRELLING BANK HOLIDAY. There have been WAY TOO MANY FRELLING BANK HOLIDAYS lately. The UK economy is going to finish going down the tubes if something isn’t done about all these promiscuous holidays. And I have bats in my attic. Have I mentioned the BATS IN MY ATTIC lately? Bats don’t take holidays.^

^ Or maybe they do.  Maybe I’m going to go up there tonight to see how things are going and find them playing poker and eating salted peanuts and popcorn.

*** I can remember how to make a cup of tea and/or unwrap a bar of chocolate under any circumstances.

† No workpersons of course. Just the cones.

†† Fiona is making a shawl of great beauty and . . . neatness.

Look at all those TINY LITTLE EVEN STITCHES! AAAAAAAAAAUGH!

I am still sewing up Secret Project #1 in . . . increasing despair.

††† VERY VERY SLIGHTLY in my defense, it wasn’t at a tower, it was at Colin’s evil flower-pot mini-ring. I keep telling myself that I’ve got used to these wretched tiny bell-things. I’m lying.

GRAVEMINDER by Melissa Marr

 

Because I am a MORON—also because I don’t keep track even when I should and mean to, and furthermore this time of year my head is full of roses, but chiefly because I’m a moron—I’ve managed to miss that Melissa Marr’s GRAVEMINDER came out . . . um . . . well, I hope it was recently.* My attention was finally caught when I was half-attentively scrabbling through old tweets and saw that Melissa** herself had posted that USA TODAY had liked GRAVEMINDER. Woohoo Melissa!

http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/reviews/2011-05-26-Graveminder-by-Melissa-Marr_n.htm  ***

I read it a while ago, when it was still only in pages. In my slow elderly way I don’t get the business about creating ‘buzz’ by blogging and reviewing and talking about a book long before pub date, so unless I have a publicist nagging me I will probably wait till the book’s available and I can tell you that you should check it out. The problem with that system is the likelihood that I will forget. . . .

You can read a plot summary and cover fluff on line, as well as some very nice reviews, both blog and (gasp!) other media. What’s important to me is that Melissa’s gift for ordinary people shines in this book too. There isn’t anyone out there who doesn’t know her WICKED LOVELY series, is there?† One of the pleasures of it is that ordinary-people-rising-to-extraordinary-circumstances thing that I’m so fond of, both as a reader and a writer. †† GRAVEMINDER is very different from WICKED LOVELY, but its main characters have a not-dissimilar ordinary familiar reality to them†††—including an obstinate determination to remain ordinary when they clearly are nothing of the kind. Part of the way Marr’s books draw you in is that sense that these are people you might know, who might live down the street from you. You might even be one yourself. Eeep.

Big eeep in this case. Byron has long known what is ahead of him; Bek ran away from finding out what was ahead of her. But she comes back to Claysville when her grandmother dies, her grandmother who used to attend all—repeat, all—the funerals in town, and perform an odd little ritual: three sips from a silver flask and the words: Sleep well, and stay where I put you. Another of the pleasures of Marr’s stories is her feel for folklore: I totally believe in something called a graveminder, and who must, as part of her job description, attend all the funerals in her town, take three sips from a flask and say these particular words.

This is a horror novel, of course‡: the dead walk, and do horrible things, the way the walking dead usually do. But it’s an old-fashioned horror novel—I say that cheering and waving banners—in that the horrors are in the atmosphere, in what isn’t told, in the aftermath of those untold horrors—in the choices that the characters have to make—in the choices the characters have taken away from them. I’ve said often enough that I don’t do graphic horror—it squicks me out—I find it both gross and boring. But GRAVEMINDER is a page-turner—the kind of sneaky, understated creepy that gets you by the ankle and won’t let you go. There are a lot of best frisson bits: the chief ‘villain’ is probably my favourite of these, and one scene involving her is one of the most macabre I’ve read anywhere—while not really telling you a thing. Also, her part in the denouement is . . . splendid. Icky and splendid.

I think there are rumours of a sequel?, although with my standard flimsy Google-fu I’m failing to find anything I can provide a link to.‡‡ There is certainly plenty in this story Marr could go on with, if she (or the story) is so, ahem, minded. I think I read GRAVEMINDER before it was final-final-final; there may be more (or fewer) loose ends in the finished book. I plan to reread it and find out.

* * *

*Very slightly in my defense, it’s apparently not available over here yet. The Book Depository is supposed to tell me when I can buy it, and when I checked today they seem to be saying the hardback passed silently and invisibly through availability a week or two ago and may or may not be obtainable again some time in this dimension, and the paperback is coming out in July. I am in this case going to attempt to hold out for the hardback which from what my computer screen is telling me has a killer cover

http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Graveminder-Melissa-Marr/?isbn=9780061826870

Although the paperback looks pretty cool too

 http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Graveminder-Melissa-Marr/9780007349272

** Yes, I even follow her on Twitter and I still hadn’t noticed. Twitter is a little . . . overwhelming, you know? I only follow 40-odd people, places and things and I still can’t keep up.^ And the real people tend to get lost among the I-should-be-paying-attention-but-I-don’t-want-to stuff from all the what’s-happening-in-publishing sites.

^ I can’t even begin to imagine what the people who are following 100s or even 1000s of other twitterers are getting out of it. And how they’re getting anything out of it at all, except stress saturation.

*** It’s an unnecessarily weird photo though. Try

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/175855.Melissa_Marr

http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/31765/Melissa_Marr/index.aspx

† I admit I haven’t finished it, but that’s because it’s fallen into the Saving For Later category. I’m both a slow reader and someone who likes to look forward to something she’s going to enjoy. Also coming to the end of a complex, engrossing series is sad. Then there won’t be anything to do but read it again! —Plus my slight cowardly fear that she may not do absolutely everything the way I want her to^ and I’ll come to the end of DARKEST MERCY going noooooooo! I mean, it’s not the most reassuring title, is it?

^ I do love reading other writers’ calm, gentle, polite rebuffs to importunate readers. I often wonder if it costs them anything, the calm, gentle, polite thing. But it is reassuring that other writers have importunate readers too.

†† We’re all kings, queens, pegasi and dragons really.^

^ If you’re a vampire, don’t tell me about it.

††† It’s being billed as ‘Melissa Marr’s first adult novel’. Yaaaaaawn. Okay, the main characters are out of school and earning a living but—so? Teenagers will read GRAVEMINDER and adults are reading WICKED LOVELY. Let’s all take a deep breath and read what we want to read.

‡ Well, it’s an ‘of course’ to me. Those more learned in genre may disagree.

‡‡ Here we go.

http://melissa-writing.livejournal.com/369137.html

Give up and be looking for something else and then you’ll find it.

My Jungle

 

The view from the hellhound courtyard at the kitchen door. Enter at your peril.

It’s not absolutely all roses.  There are a few freshly planted dahlias that you can’t see unless you’re really good at differentiating one green leaf from another.*  And how about a nice poppy?

Poppy in MORNING sunlight. That's MORNING sunlight.

She’s just off screen to the left.  Or a nice miniature clematis in a hanging basket: 

Yes, I should PLANT her in her hanging basket. But this is the famous hanging-basket pole that BOWS under the weight of a, er, hanging basket. I found this out AFTER I had Atlas cement it into place so it would stop taking out the rose that climbs up it every time it levered itself out of the ground. If I planted her she'd weigh more.

She’s just out of sight on the right hand side.  Her name is Filigree . . . and in the process of scampering through the Taylors Clematis site http://www.taylorsclematis.co.uk/ to rediscover this since of course her label has been eaten by wolves, I’ve compiled quite the little list of new clematis I’m sure I need.  **

But I admit there are a lot of roses.  That dark red babe on the right is Tess of the D’Urbervilles, which has–heretofore–always been a total flimsy fainting heroine–she even died on me at the old house.  I’m not even sure why I bothered to try again at the cottage when I have NO space for flimsy and fainting.  But–when she produces them–she really does have flowers to swoon over.

Mmmmmm. She also smells divine. It is perverse how many red roses there are that have no smell.

Her first couple of years at the cottage she tried the feeble thing and I was like yeah, yeah, get on with it, either pull yourself together or croak so I can put something else in there.   I do keep feeding her.  Last year she was pretty good and this year she’s amazing.

Amazing.

She grows in a great tangle with Mme Isaac [Periere], who also likes to bow and lean, but of course I have completely failed to get a persuasive photo of this phenomenon.  This is one of those things about photographing gardens that many of you will know:  your eye picks out the flowers.  The camera relentlessly points out that actually the view is mostly green

And the combined scent--Mme Isaac has a notoriously powerful fragrance--will make you drunk. Or at least a little giggly.

The flowers are unmistakably different as soon as you have the chance to compare them.  Mme Isaac is a deep raspberry pink;  Tess is rich dark red.  Mme Isaac is a genuine old rose and Tess is one of David Austin’s little darlings,  and clearly modern.  But hey.  With roses this superb, whatever. 

Roses. Mmmmmmmm. Roses.

To Be Continued. 

* * *

*Plants.  Gaaah.  I have [rmmph] dahlias to plant out, standing in little rows in their little pots.   They arrived as cuttings, and you whap them into small pots to give them a chance to develop a root system, and then you put them where you want them to grow and be dazzling.  You watch them–well, theoretically you watch them–so you can get them out of their little pots before they get cramped and cranky.^   So I’m trying to plant them out as they’re ready.  I have one that’s already a good two foot high so I thought, yeep, get that one planted.  So I Prepared the Hole and tipped her out and . . . she has no visible root system yet.  The faintest of white threads.  GAAAAAAAH.  I planted her anyway.

^ Although I’ve grown some astonishingly large dahlias in astonishingly small pots when I’ve not been paying attention.  Oh, gods, I’d say, and dump a little more flower food on it, and stab in another bamboo pole for it to lean on.

** I also seem to have lost most of an hour.  Hmmm.

Post-recital guest post by Bratsche

 

A long time ago, I promised Robin a post-recital guest post to share pictures from my viola recital. Better late than never, I hope.

These are some of the ingredients that went into the recital.*

My viola, made by Mark Moreland

Since I spent a long time practicing for my recital (very diligently for the 4 months prior to it, and fairly diligently the 4 months prior to those), here is the view from my studio window, which was an integral part of my preparation.

David Malki ! generously agreed to let me use his picture and idea from his poison paper card, which I turned into my recital invitations.

As with any big event, the closer it gets the more it becomes the main focus of attention. It had been long enough since my last recital (12 years), that I had forgotten what kind of a goofball I become in the days right before a recital (a mixture of sillyness and being a worry-wart). I am fortunate that my husband is patient and kind and willing to be reassuring over and over again (yes, people will come, yes, they will enjoy it, yes, you will play well).** I split my dress rehearsal up into two days so I wouldn’t tire my arms out too much right before the recital. Both parts of it went fine and were a good reminder of the intensity*** that comes during a performance.

We got to the church in plenty of time to get set up and for me to change clothes and get warmed up, and then I got to practice the “fun” part of the recital….waiting while the audience showed up and the clock ticked out the minutes until it was time to start. I played enough to keep warmed up but didn’t want to play too much, so I twirled in my twirly skirt and chatted with my pianist and stuck my tongue out at my husband when he came to check on us. I was, however, quite delighted to see some audience members showing up and know I wouldn’t be playing for just my family.^

Warming up before the audience arrived

I had chosen to start with some short, easy pieces (with piano) to get into the swing of things. They went well, although the adrenaline was stronger than I expected (note to self, don’t wait so long for the next recital). One of the advantages to having performed a fair bit, though, is that an adrenaline surge is not a new and unknown (and therefore possibly frightening or disrupting) feeling. So, I used all the tools I have learned over the years and keep fresh in my mind by teaching to my students,^^ and things settled in pretty well.

Then it was time for the big challenge of my recital — playing the Bach Suite from memory. I knew if I accomplished that, the second half of the recital would be just fine. I did have a memory slip during the first of the six movements, which made me start wondering if I was going to have to go get my music. I covered it well enough that I doubt most people even noticed it. It stands out to me when I listen to it on the CD, of course, but I don’t think it actually got in the way of the music for the audience. There was one other small slip in one of the later movements, but it was even less of a bump. I was really glad I had gone for the gusto and played it from memory for my own sake (knowing I could still do it); and I had several people comment afterwards about how much they had enjoyed hearing the piece without the music stand in the way (so to speak).

The second half of the recital also went well. There were a few places here and there where my pianist and I would have been happy to have another run at it; but that is quite often how a performance goes, so I was not bothered by that.

My pianist and I sharing a “we’re done and it went well!” smile.

And then the hard work was over and I got to chat with my friends and family and enjoy knowing that I had added some pleasure (and good music) to their day. Once most people had left, I continued winding down with further twirling, which I have always found very satisfying!

Twirling with my older daughter

Twirling with my younger daughter

I found it interesting that the strong sense of “wow, it’s done (and it went well)” did not hit until the next day. I am definitely pleased with how my recital went and am planning to do another one sometime in the next few years. I am already working on the piece I will memorize for that one.^^^

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

* You can find my earlier posts about recital preparations here: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, if you are curious to read more about what led up to it.

** One of the pieces I played was the Scottish Border Ballad “I’ll Bid My Heart Be Still” which Rebecca Clarke arranged for her husband. I dedicated it to my husband right before I played it at the recital, which was a complete surprise to him and is one of his cherished memories of the recital.

*** Yes, words other than “intensity” might immediately spring to mind if you are not fond of being in front of people; but I have never had stage “fright” and have performed enough that I wasn’t too worried about how the adrenaline would affect me.

^ And my husband said “I told you so!”

^^ Breathe! Let your arms relax so your bow sinks into the strings. Focus on the specific goals you have set before hand. Breathe! Remember that you like this music. Project your sound. Breathe!

^^^ The second Suite for Solo Viola by Max Reger.

Yet more high drama (and bats)

 

Another day bursting with incident and suitable for bullet points. Again I will restrain myself. I’ve never used bullet points yet and when frelling Word tries to insert them for me I grow wroth. But now that I am singing in a choir I need to stop screaming so much. Hard on the voice.

We had another Roarer and Gnasher today at the cottage—an even bigger one. I would be grateful if this one did the job, so that our cul de sac will stop ponging of sewage: today’s overflow of dirty water overflowed kind of a lot. Ewwwww. I’m wondering if I could persuade either of my uphill neighbours with outdoor taps to hose the remains down a bit. The Roarer and Gnasher’s inescapable presence meant I needed extra caffeine to get going this morning, and I still got off late, although this has something to do with how late choir rehearsal runs.* I then complicated my life by finding some idiot child’s expensive bus pass, presumably fallen out of a pocket or knapsack**, on the river path during the morning hurtle. I did ring the school without much hope and they said oh, yes, pleeeease return it. So I was then late to Oisin because I had to fight my way through the crowds, as it turned out, of school leavers’ last day, getting emotional all over the landscape. GAAAAH. I am so glad to be old.

I went to Muddlehampton choir rehearsal last night, I said to Oisin. Oh, did you, said Oisin, showing more teeth than was absolutely necessary. Yes, I said. Tell me about Ravenel, I added—our fearless choir director. Whom Oisin had rung up a fortnight or so ago to inquire why Muddlehampton wasn’t answering emails from faint-hearted potential new singers, and who had replied, just tell the little wet to come along. Urp. Well, I did, didn’t I? Anyway.

Why are you asking? said Oisin. Because he gives the impression of being fierce and dangerous, I said, masquerading as kind and friendly.

He was a teacher for many years, said Oisin, head of the music department at Klangfarbenmelodie Academy. And how do you think you get results?

Oh, I said. Good point.

I had also brought all my music. I’m being dropped in it at Muddlehampton, because they’re already about a third of the way through rehearsal for their summer concert AAAAAUUGH, my own fault for not pursuing those unanswered emails sooner, but most of the playlist is fancy arrangements of folk songs with which I have some acquaintance, so learning the music at a dead run is at least possible. But this is also why I went for the sopranos: there weren’t enough of us to hide behind, but at least we were mostly doing the melody, and the little descants and things are pretty straightforward. But I’m rhythm challenged—see: learning to change-ring—so all that fancy cutting around among the different lines that choral composers are so enamoured of and, worse, constant frelling changing of time signatures, make me crazy. There was a lot of fast off-the-beat stuff in one of the songs that I just stood there looking like a dope for because I couldn’t even count it, let alone have a crash at coming it at the right place. So I brought that along for Oisin to tell me how to COUNT IT. Now let’s see if I remember till tomorrow. . . .

But the fun was that I’d also brought the book of Britten folk-song arrangements that I’m using for lessons with Nadia. But Nadia doesn’t play the piano; when I sing she plays the melody plus an occasional chord with one and a half hands, approximately, to give me something to, you know, hang around with, so I don’t have to be all alone out there. And while I was Not in Good Voice Even As My Voice Goes—and bad singing with a good accompanist kind of makes it worse—singing O Waly Waly and The Ash Grove with Oisin doing the real piano thing was enormous fun. I at least knew what O Waly Waly ought to sound like; it seems to be a favourite concert encore with certain classical singers. But Ash Grove, I had no idea . . . it starts out sounding fairly straightforward and then goes off the rails in a big way. What a, you should forgive the term, hoot. I wish I sang better. SIIIIIIGH.

I liked the Bat Lady. She’s really young—and Goth***. And clearly loves her bats. She was brisk about my attic, however, and said that there are still lots of cracks a bat could get through; what you could poke a pencil through is still too large. Bats can turn themselves into sheets of paper and slip under draught-proof doors; bats can turn themselves into .5 mm knitting needles and extrude themselves through invisible holes. The good news is that while you can’t use expanding foam (which I’d already been told by somebody or other) you can use ordinary polyfilla to block bat-holes. So. I have a few more nights of the attic bat-blizzard, as I think ajlr put it, and Monday I will arm Atlas with the biggest tub of polyfilla the local builders’ merchants can provide and . . .

The Bat Lady also suggested that the reason they chose this year to come through into my attic—since the cracks have been there since the cowboy plumber performed his botch some time during my predecessor’s tenancy—may be because of the drought. They can smell the water in the attic tanks. This makes perfect sense and I like it a lot better than the idea that this year’s 1246 bats are looking to expand their territory. She says that a nursery as big as this is likelier to be soprano pipistrelles than the common ones; it’s the sopranos that go for the huge groups.† She also runs a bat hospital and orphanage††—in Mauncester. And I’m wondering if she ever gives, you know, tours. . . .

All right, this is already too long, you’ll just have to guess about bell practise.

* * *

* I will have to get used to this.

** The child in question may in fact be a paragon of studiousness and responsibility and be in an agony of self-reproach for having lost its bus pass. But I doubt it.

*** Speaking of the dangerous possibilities of the manifestations of hellgoddess energy, how suitable is that? She was dressed down, I assume, for her professional appearances: I want to see her on a Saturday night. Except that on Saturday night she’ll probably be in a loft somewhere with a lot of bat-measuring equipment and a lot of bats. She keeps worse hours than I do: she has a bat gig beginning at 3 am tonight. 

Diane in MN wrote:

Tabitha gave me a stern lecture on Creating Your Own Reality/Positive Thinking, and the downward spiral of fretting.

No doubt fretting can lead to a downward spiral, but I would not myself hold out much hope for creating your own reality, and positive thinking will, alas, probably not produce a bat-free attic. (And all the positive thinking in the world would not resign me to the prospect of bat guano on my cashmere sweaters.)

CathyR added: I’m afraid that’s also my view entirely.

I was being slightly tongue in cheek, but I may also believe more strongly in the effect the mind has than you do. I hate hate HATE the self-righteous morons who declaim about how Thinking the Right Thoughts Will Keep You Healthy—that’s just another form of blaming the victim, which makes me froth at the mouth. The last thing someone suffering from x, y or z needs to hear is that they brought it on themselves: illness is enough of a ratbag—you don’t need any help wondering about what you should have done differently, or feeling down and depressed. But I’m a homeopath, and in homeopathy mind and body are all the same critter: treat or affect one and you treat and affect the other, not that the lines are ever clear, that would be much too easy. While constructive worry can do useful work, what I’m calling fretting does only pull you down. And creating your own reality in my view is to do with finding a good recipe for lemonade when all you’ve got is lemons, not giving yourself a headache trying to turn them into pomegranates by mind-waves.

But I may be just a little shrill when I laugh about a hellgoddess and her hellhounds clearly having attracted attendant bats, and I think it’s too delicious that the Bat Lady is a (tactful) Goth.

—And remember that my bats’ crap is relatively benign. The Bat Lady says that it’ll look rather like mouse droppings, but it’s very dry and crumbles into dust. The ‘crumbles into dust and doesn’t mark your cashmere sweaters’ is the part I knew.

†Speaking of strange energies. Why was I compelled to join the sopranos last night? Hee hee hee hee hee. Oh, and soprano pipistrelles are common too, it’s just that the Common Pipistrelle is the original one’s name. They didn’t figure out that the sopranos existed as a separate beastie until fairly recently.

†† I DO NOT WANT TO FIND ANY ABANDONED BABY BATS, OKAY?

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