September 30, 2011

Giggling, various


Rain.drop7:  You shouldn’t have said the thing about a doodle Mona Lisa, Robin. . . .
You have opened the door to a whole world of new, complicated doodle ideas. Just remember that you brought this upon yourself.


Hi, my name is Muffy


Never tease a doodler.  They are all mentally unbalanced and prone to whimsy.  NOTE THAT IF ANY OF YOU ARE POSSESSED BY THE DEMONIC SPIRT and decide to ask for anything of this sort . . . and I’m aware that I may have made a serious error here . . . there are not necessarily all that many famous paintings that would doodle well, at least not by me.  You need a single, strong, fairly simple, immediately recognisable image—so for example Birth of Venus, yes, Monet’s frelling water lilies, no.  And it still needs to be something I can do—and something, you know, twistable.  Mona Lisa’s smile has of course been cartooned, parodied, lampooned, pastiched, and doodled many many many times.  Just not by me.  Before now. 

 * * *

Meanwhile . . . fourteen hours.  Whimper.* 

Diane in MN:  on the . . . bright side, it’s a wedding, so the happy couple are the main attraction, not the choir, and the crowd should by rights be looking at the bride. 

They’ll be spending the whole rest of the wedding looking at the bride.  For the three and a half minutes of our anthem they’ll be looking at us.  And furthermore the extremely pretty yet restrained blue frock I was planning to wear has long sleeves and it’s going to be another Death Valley scorcher tomorrow. 

Harpergray:  . . .  as a denizen of the front row, you also have the opportunity to watch any shenanigans that happen to occur during the course of the wedding. 

Don’t get my hopes up.  It would be worth it if someone fell down or dropped the ring in the font, or a pew broke or something.  Unfortunately one can’t really wish for these things at a wedding:  it’s too unkind.  Even knowing that it would become their favourite story in thirty years or so . . . it’s still too unkind.  Which means you can’t really enjoy it if it happens.  I hope there are some good frocks.  The one drawback to the excellence of being hidden away as a bell ringer is that you rarely get a good up-close view of the assembled.

            But you know the worst thing?  I won’t be able to knit.  Maybe I should rethink the second sopranos.  The second sopranos are in the second row.  They could knit.     


CathyR: Just deciding where to hang my doodles, once they’re framed …


Well, did you think they were going to be hidden away in a drawer somewhere? 

No, I thought you were going to lay them into the books.  Good grief.  With or without recourse to glue sticks, depending on how you feel about this kind of thing.  But that’s what I’d do.  That or I’d laminate the freller(s) and use them as bookmarks.  

Just think how many sittingroom/bedroom/kitchen walls everywhere are going to be proudly sporting examples of McKinley-iana. 

I’m starting to feel a little squeamish here. . . . 

There will probably be entire episodes of the ‘Antiques Roadshow‘ devoted to it in about 50 years’ time… 

Oh, not entire episodes.  Special drawing episodes.  Phiz, Hogarth, Heath Robinson, Watterson . . . McKinley.

I’m sorry to hear about the ME having another go. I have lots of fingers crossed that it b*ggers off very soon. 



There will probably be entire episodes of the ‘Antiques Roadshow‘ devoted to it in about 50 years’ time…

Specialist: “What we have here are several excellent specimens of a McKinley doodle. McKinley began creating these in 2011, as a fundraiser for her local bell tower. May I ask where your grandmother got these doodles?”

Owner: “Um, well, I think she bought them on an online auction.”

Specialist: “Ah, yes. If so, then these may be some of McKinley’s early doodles. Now let’s look at the composition. This particular doodle here features two sight-hounds, captured in McKinley’s inimitable ‘line’ style. The fact that there are *two* sight-hounds means that this is what McKinley experts call a ‘doodlier doodle.’ The second doodle, which features a fanged and smiling pastry, is also a ‘doodlier doodle.'”

Confused but smiling owner: “Yeah, I never did get why the pastry had fangs.”

Specialist: “Ah, yes. That would be a reference to one of McKinley’s novels, Sunshine. It features vampires and cinnamon rolls as big as your head. Did your grandmother have any of McKinley’s books.”

Owner: “Oh, that explains it. I found the fanged muffin drawing inside this vampire book. The other doodle she had framed and hung next to the picture of her old dog.”

Specialist: “Well, thank you very much for bringing these in. It’s a pleasure to see such excellent specimens of McKinleyana.” 

:: falls down laughing :: **

* * *

* Although I am not unaware of the multitude of contradictions I am displaying here.  One can certainly be a professional writer and a hermit, although one’s publisher is likely to love one less if one refuses to let oneself be publicised^, but one’s pretensions to hermitry are permanently blown the moment one starts keeping a public blog.  Sure, I employ a lot of smoke and mirrors, but the stuff I hang on Days in the Life is genuine, it’s just selective.  And so what do I frequently choose to air on my public blog?  My own crippling stage fright, with lashings of agoraphobia and misanthropy, and including the fact that I keep leaving my comfortable burrow and going out and doing stuff that is going to bring all of this on.  Including writing a blog. 

            Go figure.^^ 

^ Only the books matter, frelling sod it.  The rest is just more or less amusing balderdash. 

^^ Oh, and it gets worse.  I have to miss the New Arcadia Theatre Society’s variety show, which I would have gone to just to hear Oisin play and sing Noel Coward, so I wheedled a private performance out of him this afternoon.+  Later, as I was leaving, I said, okay, next year, you, I and two other people can sing something for your variety show.  Great, said Oisin, much too quickly.

            I think you probably shouldn’t tease music teachers the way you shouldn’t tease doodlers. 

+ Very little wheedling was needed.  Oh, I could use another run-through, he said, and sat down at the piano.# 


~ Okay.  It’s true, I can do There Is A Tavern in the Town.  Sort of.  But it makes me feel like I’m patting my head and rubbing my stomach while doing a quadruple backward somersault without a net and reciting Lepanto.  In Hungarian.   And people do the playing-and-singing-in-public thing for a living?

** Note that there are the plain as well as the doodlier version of the fanged muffin.  The doodlier one includes a glass of champagne.

More Squeakery Freakery. And some auction comments.


Unnh.  Post-viral ME.  Unnnnnh.  I did make it through handbells, during which Gemma reached her crucial handbell epiphany and started ringing entire plain courses of bob minor.  I am torn between admiration and rank jealousy since it took me months and months and MONTHS to reach that stage.  I said as much (in a mild, generous tone) and she says it’s pattern recognition (which it is) and that doctors are drilled in pattern recognition.  But the best thing about it is that ringing your first plain courses of bob minor on handbells is like learning to ring your first method ‘inside’ on tower bells—if you get that far you’re probably hooked.  And we need handbell ringers. 

            I then tied myself together with string and incantations and went off to the Muddlehamptons.  One of the signs of Ravenel’s return is that they started sharp on time . . . which meant I was late.  Oops.  He was already jacking us up with his personal brand of metaphorical air pump.  Gods.  It’s not like Gordon is exactly mild-mannered but Ravenel is Ian McKellen as Magneto, only with more tunes. 

            Okay, the good news is that we’re not singing the Os Justi for the wedding.  The bad news is that the wedding is this Saturday.  I had managed to make myself believe it was next Saturday.  It’s the day after tomorrow.  About thirty-six hours.  Eeeeep.  Somebody, quick, remind me that the purpose of joining a singing group is that you SING?  Like, in PUBLIC?  Whose stupid idea was this?  And furthermore whose stupid idea was it to sing soprano, so I’m in the front frelling row?

            What we are singing is relatively straightforward*, which is to say that while I will be spending a good deal of the next thirty-six hours dragging myself through it on the piano, I can sing it, or anyway I can sing it barring the nasty business about there being an audience**.  But there is a little additional gleep, which is that we’re expected to sing the hymns—and the sopranos have a descant on the last one.***  The names of these were duly read out and everyone was nodding wisely, oh yes, we know all these . . . and I leaned out precariously over the choir rail and said in my rich American accent, pardon me, I haven’t got a clue about Anglican hymns, can you let me borrow the music?†  

*  * *

So.  The auction.  Yaaaay.  You are so fabulous.  F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S.  A few practical points:  those of you who want ordinary for-sale books, please go on ordering them.  I think SWORD is the only one I’m already out of stock on, but I’d rather not reorder till I know how many I’m going to need finally.  And it occurred to me that this is a practical-for-me way of keeping this part of the auction/sale fairly simple—ordering the correct number of extras after the 9th of October.  Even Fiona can only do so much in the keeping-me-sorted-out-and-headed-in-the-right-direction department.

            I’m also a little startled about some of the bidding.  I’d be willing to lay on (say) one or two more doodle-icious CHALICEs and DRAGONHAVENs at the top bid prices, if either or both runners-up are interested.  If the answer is ‘yes’ please let Blogmom know since she’s the one keeping track.  I will also offer another pre-Newbery first edition HERO if the runner-up felt like paying the top bid price. 

Feye:   Aaaand there goes my paycheck 

Good attitude. 

Rain.drop7:  YAY! I am so excited!!! 

Excellent attitude.

…although my compulsive, overly-competitive alter ego always shows up during auctions, and my bank account suffers for it… 

This is why I stay the ginglefrank away from eBay.  I compete with myself.  Remind me to show you my collection of knitting books some day.  

Oh well. It’s for a good cause. 

I’ve been having this fantasy of ringing a quarter peal for Everyone Who Bid on/Entered My Bell Fund Sale/Auction.  Hmmm.  You may have to wait till I can ring Grandsire Triples inside reliably

Shalea:  Going to be able to knock out a few Christmas presents, I see. 

Speaking of fantasies, this comment roused in me an immediate vision of someone pulling a doodle out of their Christmas card and saying, But . . . that looks like a muffin . . . with fangs?  

CathyR:  Just deciding where to hang my doodles, once they’re framed … 


harpergray:  I have nearly started drooling while looking over the auction and sale page!! 

It’s not a problem.  You just want a handkerchief. 

And Boyfriend has said that he will buy me something for my birthday…oh, Boyfriend…

Good Boyfriend. 

Of course, now I actually have to choose what I’d like most…a pleasant dilemma, one feels. 

Please apply the languishing, the heavy sighs, the eye rolling and the murmured phrase, oh, I just can’t decide. . . . 

abigailmm:  I requested a doodle of a hellhound lying down with head stretched up. What I had in mind . . . is what you described so beautifully earlier this summer —

Although they were in their best Ancient Hellhound God Lying Down Posture when I reappeared, where nothing on this mere mortal earth can maintain the curve of their bellies, their long straight necks have disappeared into the sky, and their bright beaming eyes are in danger of making holes in the walls.

I can probably do this one first because I have an excellent instinctive awareness of hellhounds which will (probably) translate onto paper and second because it’s about line and line, as previously observed, fascinates me.  But this doodle request also makes me realise, and I am therefore warning all of you, that there is a corollary to think simple which is think silly.  I’m a doodler not a, cough cough, artist, you know?  And you can get away with silly when you’re not good enough to bring off, well, art.  Beauty.   The Hellhound God Lying Down Posture is beautiful, at least to those of us susceptible to hellhound beauty.  So be a little careful what you ask.  Or brace yourself for the Doodle Version.  I could do a doodle version of the Mona Lisa, no problem.  But it wouldn’t be art.  And it wouldn’t be beautiful.

As with others, I say, produce these at whatever reasonable schedule lets you have a life. I want my doodle, but not at the expense of other important things. And thank you. 

Life?  LIFE?   I haven’t had a life in years.  I don’t seem to know what to do with one.  

               And you’re welcome.  Thank you all. †† 

* * *

* Faure’s Cantique de Jean Racine, and the first of the three Bruckner Graduals, Locus iste, which is a snip compared to the Os Justi.  They’re going to be singing all three for the Second Concert in a Row I Won’t Be in^ but I seem to have decided while I believed I was still thinking about it that I am going to keep going to practise and learn all this music for laughs.^^.  How am I going to learn to sing-with if I don’t sing-with?  I’m also frelling determined to lick Os Justi.^^^  For laughs. 

^ Although given my attitude toward my first wedding sing I find that I am not entirely sorry about this.  Also by the time they manage to schedule a concert I don’t have an ironclad excuse to get out of I will have caught up with my learning curve.  I will be not only singing-with nonchalantly, while the altos, tenors, basses and second sopranos are doing gods know what in other parts of the universe, I will also be beginning to assimilate this at practise instead of having to race home and pick out all the tricky bits on the piano—and being disastrously thrown off by all those other voices singing all those other lines at next practise. 

                Goals.  Everyone needs goals.  

^^ I can hum during the intervals of GOTTERDAMMERUNG.  While I knit.  

^^^ Maybe I’ll even manage Nadia’s suggestion, that I make them want me.  When Griselda isn’t there—as tonight—the first sopranos can use all the help they can get. 

** In thirty-eight hours.       

***  Two hundred wedding guests vs. eight sopranos.  Great.  No problem.  

† Since I don’t really read music—yet—I would need to borrow it anyway but one of the peculiarities of many—most?  Or just the ones I’ve seen?—Anglican hymnals and so far as I can tell all programmes, bulletins and orders of service^ is that they only give you the lyrics.  Do Anglican babies get a jab at birth with the vitamin K for basic hymn tunes?  How the frell are the rest of us supposed to know them?  

^ with reference to an earlier conversation about what you call the piece of paper they hand you at the church door that tells you what’s going to happen, ‘order of service’ to me has only ever meant special services, like weddings and funerals, not ordinary Sunday meetings. 

†† More tomorrow.

Oh, the usual. Bells.* Hellhounds. Singing.


The main thing to say six days into the New Arcadia Bell Restoration Fund auction/sale [see SIDEBAR—yes!  Yes!  It’s right there] is . . . THANK YOU.  You’re amazing and wonderful and I’m very grateful.**  I was going to try to do a bit of a round-up about comments and the view from here and future projects and so on tonight but I’m too frelling brain dead.  So I hope I’ll do it tomorrow.  Meanwhile . . . THANK YOU.

 * * *

It’s been another one of those days that started last night . . .  in this case when the hellhounds did NOT eat supper.  Again.   They do this to confound.  Also because I have been talking about them on the blog.  We’re just going to have to come to terms about this:  I can’t afford to lose such great blog material.  Even if it’s not always such good great material. 

Diane in MN:  It’s just a good thing they’re cute.

Puppies are cute so we won’t kill them before they grow up and turn into dogs. Obviously being cute has survival value for dogs as well.

Sometimes when there are so many things I should be thinking about that the brain overheats, and waving the smoke*** of burning transmitters and plastic shielding away from my eyes I search urgently for some intellectual cul de sac . . . and I wonder what dogs think they’re doing when they’re trying to charm you into doing something you don’t want to do.  They know they are using the persuasive tools available to them, but what does it mean in dog terms? 

if I ever find myself in the dreadful position of not having a hellhound of my own

Bad thought, don’t go there. I get as far as “If I ever had to size down . . .” and then shut the door on it.

Yes, the problem with Great Danes is that there is nothing but more Great Danes in that category.  Sighthounds offer a few more possibilities.  Clearly I’m a whippet specialist, and they’re small.  But if I got desperate—the dog-tenacious among you may remember that I found this area rather a sighthound-puppy desert when I was in the market—I could be happy with some of the retired greyhounds I’ve seen†, retired greyhounds being famously known as 40 mph couch potatoes.  But the Joe Gores remark on the blog’s quote thingy keeps obtruding here:  Old age means realizing you will never own all the dogs you wanted to.  Yes.  But given that Salukis are notorious for being both the most stubborn and the most resistant to eating of the sighthound group, it’s probably just as well I’m already old.

 * * *

Anyway.  The day got off to another stupid start because I so wasn’t expecting hellhounds not to eat supper, and this startled me into staying up later than planned waiting for them to recover their senses . . . dumb, McKinley, really dumb.  And the truth is that I’m still a whole lot thinner on the ground semi-post-flu than I want to admit to so today has been a little blurry and I seem to be seeing things from a lower vantage point than usual, like maybe I haven’t noticed I’m on my hands and knees. 

            I did make it to Wild Robert’s Occasional Wandering Bell Practise tonight.  Every now and then you get a mysterious email saying something like ‘Crabbiton. 28 Sept. W.R.’  Us acolytes live in a state of permanent yearning for the next such Delphic instruction and it’s another of those cases where you go unless you are positively chained to the wall with a guard at the door and barbed wire around the perimeter.  It was not one of our more brilliant nights however:  to give you one trenchant example we tried to ring Cambridge minor and I counted as one of the people who knew what she was doing.††

            It was not all bad however.  I tackled several of the other middling ringers about going to the Forzadeldestino practise on Wednesdays, and, you know, lowering the level.  Most of them made ‘avert’ signs and retired hastily to the other end of the nave.  Forza does have a bit of a reputation.  But one of my fellow middlers said why yes, I keep meaning to go.  I’ll see you there next Wednesday.  Um . . . okay. 

* * *

And now, brain dead or bright, lively and ready to tackle a cure for malaria or an internal noncombustion engine or the creation of a dog food hellhounds will always eat, I need to sing.  Os Justi with Ravenel and without Griselda is now only about eighteen hours away.  I was thinking this afternoon as I was doing a few vocal exercises in a scrap of time before the predicted collision between the irresistible force and the immovable object and making what in my case is the rafters ring, that there is a serious drawback to developing your voice.  More people can hear you.  Possibly I should have thought of this before I started voice lessons. 

* * *

 * And knitting.  I knitted while I sat out.  Of course.  

** So are the bells grateful.  Bong.  However I am also grateful for a fact beyond x amount more money to buy gudgeons and headstocks and things, which is that my auction and I are on the list of how bell ringers are contributing to the effort to raise money, which Vicky presented to the church council ten days or so ago—shortly before the auction actually went live here and you lot had the opportunity to begin proving what magnificent, open-walleted human beings you are.  Whew. 

*** At the abbey last week, at the end of practise, as we were pulling ourselves together—some of us needing quite substantial pulling together^—to escape and go home, I smelled burning.  It was unnervingly strong.  Especially unnerving when you’re in the ringing chamber of an ancient building the size of a small country, said ringing chamber reached by a route labyrinthine enough to rouse unwelcome thoughts of minotaurs.  Bronwen smelled it too.  So I asked Albert, acting ringing master that week, and he said, oh, don’t worry, it’s just the bug zappers.  Bug zappers?  By the smell they were frying squirrels.  Not that I have any objection to fewer grey rats with fluffy tails in the world, but it makes me worry if a stricken ringer, staggering back from a touch of Grandsire triples that more closely resembled a burning squirrel, stumbled a little too near one of these high-performance sizzlers. . . . 

^ I wonder if anyone has suggested an official abbey ringing chamber dustpan and broom, to live in a clearly marked cupboard—and bring your own heavy duty tote bag? 

† The smaller, whippet-shaped ones 

†† I was moaning to one of the other ringers that I frelling know the frelling line.  Frelling frelling gods I know the frelling line.  I just can’t ring it.

Lurchers and lurgies


Look, look!  Blogmom has been CLEVER and put the auction/sale in a sidebar –>

So anyone who has been out saving the world or discovering faster-than-light travel or a cure for vampires* and hasn’t been round to Days in the Life recently **, please go check out the Preserve the New Arcadia Bells Sale/Auction!  Please!

 * * *

Hellhounds ate their supper last night too although Chaos had to skulk and slink and act like he wasn’t going to—and for all I know he was seriously weighing the alternatives and ultimately might not have, because he is, as we know, a fruit loop, and the fact that he is still demanding lunch and dinner EARLY, and this despite the fact that he has eaten supper two nights in a row now, has nothing to do with anything.  And if you found that sentence hard to follow, welcome to the world of living with hellhounds.  It’s just a good thing they’re cute.

            I had a friend, let’s call her Luna, visiting today.  This is someone I’ve known for about twenty years—which is to say more or less from the moment I moved over here.  And she’s from Maine.  Irony Alert.  But we had friends in common and she has taught the odd McKinley novel*** and one thing led to another, even if the leading is made more complex by the 3000 or so additional miles my emigrating appended.  Still.  We have managed to meet up a few times.†  I picked her up at the Mauncester train station today and then we drove to the edge of town for a walk by the river.  And there, as hellhounds and I often do when we’re walking ways frequented by other human beings, we met a Hellhound Fanatic.  First she spoke to the hellhounds, which was all good to them††, and then she spoke to Luna and me, telling us about the hellhound she had once been possessed by, and how friendly and charming and affectionate and beeeeeeeoooouuuuuutiful it was . . . and how hellhounds are among the most ancient of dog breeds and we know this because they show up on medieval tapestries and so on, no doubt because their beauty catches the eye of many artists.†††  Yes.  It is very nice talking to you, madam, and you clearly have the right idea about hellhounds, even if you seem to have forgotten that they are also nightmares in fur with enigmatic attitudes toward food and a perfection of obstinacy that Plato would admire.  And I thought:  if I ever find myself in the dreadful position of not having a hellhound of my own . . . I will be exactly like this, stopp(eth)ing one in three and holding them with a skinny hand.‡   I often imagine having more critters‡‡ but . . . I really don’t want to imagine the assembled multitude not including at least one gorgeous, long-legged tuck-bellied large-eyed hellhound.  But ask me again the next time the current crew go comprehensively off their food.‡‡

 * * *

The lurgy continues to ebb‡‡‡ although I am disgracefully hoarse as a result of catching up on about a decade’s conversation with Luna and I’m not sure singing tonight is on.§  I can feel the ME tapping its fingers thoughtfully but at the moment it’s not making any hostile moves.§§  CathyR tweeted me this a few days ago: :  ‘Chronic Fatigue, Surrounded by Uncertainty’.  Yep.  That’s about it.  I appreciate the low-key tone of the article—it’s a big improvement on most of the stuff that was circulating when I first went down with ME/CFS, shrieking and name-calling about wimps and yuppie flu—and I particularly appreciate the suggestion that ‘there is an emerging consensus that CFS/ME is not a single illness’.  Don’t mind me, I’ve been saying that for over a decade. 

            But as long as that is the case, I think CFS/ME (or ME/CFS) is rather a good name for it:  apple/banana like the man says, because at the moment we can’t be clearer about what we’re talking about.  And I wish they would stop suggesting that a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy and graded exercise is good for everyone.  It isn’t I’d already had a lot of (psycho)therapy by the time I went down with ME, so the concept of as it were handling yourself rather than just living your life as if all your bits, physical, mental and emotional were reliable, was old news.  Once I began accepting that I had ME and that I was going to have to learn to cope with it—and it was the acceptance that was the big bad deal—the learning to cope was grim, nasty and infuriating but relatively straightforward.  I didn’t try cognitive therapy§§§ and I’m sure it can be very useful for someone who hasn’t before had to look at themselves as a Rube Goldberg contraption.  But the graded exercise thing MAKES ME NUTS.  And as a long-term and more-or-less public sufferer of ME I feel responsible for repeating that graded exercise presented as a treatment for ME makes me nuts.  As a rule it is a frelling frelling bad idea.  ME is all about learning NOT to drive yourself, for pity’s sake—it’s about listening to what your body wants, not what your intellect (or your boss, or your doctor) tells you you’re supposed to want.  Cognitive therapy is about coping.  Graded exercise is essentially about forcing.  Do not go there.   Or if you insist on going there . . . go very very cautiously, and the moment your body or your energy level says um, I’m not really liking this very much, LISTEN.  NEVER MIND THE EXPERT OR THE CHART OR THE PROFILE OR THE WHATSIT.  IT’S YOUR BODY.  IT IS, FURTHERMORE, YOUR UNIQUE BODY.

            Okay.  Stopping now.  And I’m going to go very delicately over to the piano, and if my still rather lurgy-ridden body says no I’ll go to bed early.  

* * *

* This last could be taken a number of ways 

** And for anyone who is new to this blog, that’s a muffin with fangs.  You figure it out. 

*** shock horror, yes, very odd 

† Once at Dysart’s Truck Stop which is where I first encountered the concept of cinnamon rolls as big as your head.  

†† Mostly I am glad they believe that All People Are Good People.  Mostly. 

††† And a few doodlers. 

‡ There will certainly be a glittering eye.  I hope to escape the long grey beard. 

‡‡  No, no!  Nooooooooo!   

‡‡‡ Hey, you know, maybe they won’t.  Maybe one of these times will be the last time.  Maybe . . . maybe this was the last time!

^ If you want to live with hellhounds, I recommend indestructible naïveté as a coping mechanism.+ 

+ See below.  I’m good at coping mechanisms.  


§ I can still play Os Frelling Justi over on the piano a few hundred million times in preparation for Thursday.  Not to mention that Nadia is expecting to sing it with me helpfully next Monday.  I think I’ll run away to Spain.  I want to see Gaudi’s Barcelona. 

§§ It usually does boomerang after I get over something like flu or a head cold.  This assault is often worse than the original ailment.  Such fun. 

§§§ Although I did go back in to straight psychotherapy to learn to ‘forgive’ myself for having ME.  I have told you many, many times that self confidence is not one of my strong suits, and even while I knew the lazy whinger who can’t pull herself together view of ME was bollocks it was still dismayingly hard to resist.

Singing, Croaking and Crunching


So, you may remember something about this:  there’s an auction/sale going on for the benefit of the New Arcadia Bell Restoration Fund:

 * * *


            It’s been maybe a fortnight since I found a homeopathic remedy that stopped Darkness from having a (noisy) bellyache the next morning if he missed supper and therefore refusing his next meal.*  At which point since I was by then extremely as it were tired of staying up till dawn waiting for hellhounds to eat, I said sod this for a lark, started giving them half a square of knitting, three games of Montezuma or twenty pages of revising/studying-what-I’ve-just-been-listening-to of DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY** to eat or not eat . . . and then turning the lights out and going to bed.***

            By last night I was so accustomed to the new system—which increasingly has involved starving to death hellhounds at lunch and dinner, which is fine, and I’m delighted they’re eating at all, but I’m not going to risk giving them as much in two meals as their delicate guts are used to receiving in three, which also means that I’ve been watching them go on losing weight the last few weeks, although this has at least slowed†—that I was ringing handbell bob major on Pooka, confident that I wasn’t going to be interrupted by a hellhound wanting another handful of kibble††.  I nearly dropped Pooka when I heard the crunch of teeth.  What?  What?  They’re eating supper???

            Can’t wait to find out what happens tonight.  No, I take that back.  I can wait.  I would rather wait.

 * * *

Meanwhile . . . I did go to my voice lesson today.  I’m better.  I’m still kind of pathetic††† but I’m better.  I had tried singing last night and it was pretty grim, but I could at least ask Nadia how to think about learning Os Justi, which you may remember I am dreading extremely this Thursday, with Ravenel back and Griselda gone and not only way too much frelling counterpoint but only two of us squeakers for those dreadful top As.  Also I had my next courier delivery.‡  So I went.

            Today when I did a few exercises beforehand it was still like trying to stretch tempered steel but at least I was making some noise.  The funny thing was that the iron-bar sensation seemed to have to do with having missed three days rather than about the current affliction.  Nadia said, yes, that’s right.  Sopranos and tenors in particular can often sing over a head cold.  If your throat doesn’t hurt or tighten or feel dry or tickly . . . you might as well sing.  So I sang at Silent Worship which I am getting used to in the Italian . . . and about Os Justi Nadia gave me all kinds of excellent advice which I will/will not be able to use at my level of thud and blunder but still made me go oh! and grope for a pen to write it down . . . about keeping my line through the frelling counterpoint she said briskly, we can practise.  Do you want me to sing the alto or the tenor line?  EEEEEEEEP, I said.  So we’re saving that for next week . . . after I have mortified myself this Thursday. . . . 

* * *

* Or rather two remedies, one of which enhances the other.  The homeopathic grail is always the One Single Perfect Remedy which solves EVERYTHING.  There are people who claim to find it regularly for a wide assortment of clients, but that holy group would not include me.  Down here in the mud and the snarling and the imperfections I pursue Anything That Works at all, which may be a foot in the door of cure.  And then again it may not.  I’ve probably said this to you before:  I honestly do believe that homeopathy has an answer for everything.  The problem with the package is the delivery system.  And the biggest problem with the delivery system is the poor sweating homeopath.  Which clues should you be paying attention to^, in both the symptoms of what needs to be cured or ameliorated and the basic character of the client?  And in what order of importance should you be paying attention to them?  Hint:  if the client knew, they wouldn’t be there.  That the client believes this or that is the most important does not mean it is the most important.  And then, of course, when you have a client that doesn’t talk^^. . . .  So with Darkness, the only clear physical symptoms I had were ‘borborygmi = refuses food’.   There are THOUSANDS of remedies out there and a lot of them include growling guts and loss of appetite in their ‘picture’.  Whimper.^^^  Homeopathy is a fascinating study, and you do develop an ear/eye for which bits of the individual presentation you need to prescribe accurately#—but it’s not a skill like learning to read music that improves with practise and once you can do it you can keep doing it.  Homeopathy is always a best guess, a calculated leap in the dark (although the guess may be very good indeed and the leap reckoned to a fare-thee-well).  Anyone who says otherwise . . . um.  They are not the teachers at whose feet I sit. 

^ This seems to me a particularly rich and fulsome example of the idiocy of the Word grammar check, which I keep turned on because mostly it amuses me and there are working days when any humour is welcome.  In the previous phrase, ‘Which clues should you be paying attention to’, ‘be’ is highlighted, and the suggestion is ‘is’.  

^^ Although it may be another clue.  Why is your client obsessed with the cut on his finger when he has gallstones, migraines, and two broken legs?  Note, however, that it’s totally unethical to treat what you think needs fixing without involving your client in the decision.  —I’ll give you something that promotes wound healing, sure, but could we look into the migraines a little more? 

^^^ And on the subject of how specific a remedy has to be:  that it works on Darkness if he misses the last meal of the day does not necessarily mean it would work on him if he missed the first meal of the day.  Nor that if it works now, or in early autumn, it would work midwinter, midsummer, or exactly this same time next year.  Or that it would work on anyone else, including Chaos, who has a different assortment of won’t-eat fetishes anyway. 

# And a client who talks is not necessarily to be preferred.  Although when you’re staring into the steady eyes of your more-obstinate-than-an-army-supply-train-of-mules hellhound you may, at that moment, think so. 

** Remember ‘don’t praise technology’?  By yesterday second hurtle I was feeling enough more like a human being than a bowl of cracked mayonnaise^ that I decided to go on listening to DON’T.  Turned Pooka on . . . plugged in the earphones . . . pressed ‘play’ . . . AND THE BLACK SCREEN OF APPLE MACINTOSH DEATH APPEARED.  AAAAAAAAUGH.  I was in sufficiently rough shape that it was taking me a long time to do anything so I hadn’t actually finished my meltdown when Pooka coughed a couple of times and came back to life again.  I looked at her.  She looked at me.  I flicked to DON’T part four and pressed ‘play’.  ERROR, it said. NO DATA. 

            Oh, and the other fabulous thing?  That crash rattled most of my aps back to their default position.  Which I therefore have to RESET.  Which is not only a big pain in the ass but involves REMEMBERING HOW. 

^ Yesterday was singing-for-the-bishop day.  I hope it went well . . . but golly am I glad I’d dropped out weeks ago. 

*** Hellhounds never eat if I just put it down and leave it.  I need to be there, cheering them on. 

† It has also involved a good deal of muttering along the lines of ‘if you’re so hungry, why don’t you eat supper?’ 

†† I know.  But you weren’t here for their first two traumatic years.  Supper goes in cautious, one at a time handfuls because it’s supposed to top them off, with picky eaters it’s usually a good thing if you can arrange it that they clean their plates, and even when hellhounds are in an eating mood their appetite varies EXTREMELY. 

††† And I am not looking forward to the ME rolling in like the Blob over Phoenixville which is the usual denouement to an ‘acute’ like flu, or Head Cold with Full Body Involvement, which I think is what this is/was. 

‡ Oisin and Nadia’s husband are clearly outfitting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for a world tour.

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