September 25, 2011

When There Are No Words There Are Still Doodles


You’ve still got a fortnight left to buy or bid on something!   The New Arcadia Bell Restoration Fund auction/sale is live 

. . . . Bluuuuuuh, continued.  Service ring this morning was interesting.  I was clinging fuzzily to the treble and then Niall called for frelling Cloisters.  It’s not that it’s difficult—it isn’t—but it does require that the treble wake up and pay attention.  Then I came home and drank tea till I was in danger of rattling off my chair. . . . I am going to my voice lesson tomorrow.  I don’t know what I’ll do once I get there, but I am going.  And, gods save both of us, I have an old friend I haven’t seen in over a decade passing through Mauncester on Tuesday.  It would be nice to be speaking in complete sentences.  I suppose I could just shove doodles at her. . . .

            To all of those anxious people posting to the forum and writing me little apologetic emails:    I am not keeping track.  You won’t be drummed out of the forum if you don’t pony up for my bells.  Bidding in the auction and/or buying a doodle or a book is supposed to be fun.  It’s not required.  Sure, I want to raise funds for my bells, but trust me, I know about being short of money.  If your roof fell off last night, you can buy another shingle for the price of a doodle.  I totally understand.  Also, because I am me, I will probably totally screw something up during the auction/sale—there will be opportunity for any screw-ups or falling into technological chasms to be sorted out because there will be me to sort out.  This is the good side of not being amazon, okay?  Don’t worry.

And now . . . how about an opportunity to win a doodled up book?  All you have to do is spread the word.

Tweet it, Facebook it, blog it! Win a doodle-licious book!

Help us publicize Robin McKinley’s Sale and Auction in support of the New Arcadia Bell Restoration Fund!  Tweet it, Facebook it and blog it and you will be entered in a random drawing for a signed and dedicated doodle-licious Robin McKinley book of your choice with five** doodles to be scattered through the text at the author’s discretion.

Handbell ringer having a Very Bad Day



Tower bell ringer having a Very Bad Day

Please note that this person, while unfortunate, will nonetheless be welcome back next week, because he*** is still following the Tower Bell Ringer’s First Rule which is never let go of the tail end.   

* * *

 * I love it.  Me saying ‘don’t worry.’  hahahahahahahahahahaha  

** Blogmom originally said ten doodles and I said GLEEEEEEP.  Even the auctioned books only start at three.  But you never know, I might be inspired.  

*** I think both these victims of circumstance look rather he-ish.  The main thing is that you can tell by the fact that their shoes have discernable heels on them and are therefore definitively not All Stars that neither of them is me.



Don’t forget.  The New Arcadia Bell Restoration Fund auction/sale is now live:  * 

So, the sale/auction is up** and all I have to do is sit back and watch the orders roll in, right?  WRONG.  In the first place I’m writing my brains out*** and in the second place I have to worry that there won’t be too little/too much response.  Too little will make me look foolish among my bell ringers† and too much will force me to grow an extra pair of hands.††

            And . . . meanwhile . . .  I have FLUHow frelling unfrellingfair is that (frelling)?  I’ve been rather achier and painier this week than usual, and one of the ill-natured afreets that stalk me is the possibility that I’ll get to the point that I can’t control my rheumatism by diet any more so it was a somewhat perverse relief when the headache and the sore throat started, followed by the prickly skin that means ‘fever’.  I left home tower bell practise EARLY last nightShock.  Horror.  I might conceivably not have gone at all, but Vicky was away and I Had the Keys.  I think I’ve told you before that breaking into St Radegund when it’s locked up is an operation like something out of a John Le Carre novel.  It’s even more interesting when you’re seeing double.

            And then because fate is like that I had a wedding to ring today.  I didn’t know I was ill till yesterday, or Niall could have taken charge of the keys for practise last night—and you don’t pull out of a wedding ring the day before unless you’re positively strapped down in an oxygen tent.  And I am still walking, as hellhounds can testify.  I comforted myself, as I tottered down Main Street toward the church this afternoon, that Monty was ringing, which meant we’d stick to call changes.  I could probably manage call changes.  There was a slight exhale of held breath when my head appeared at the top of the ladder into the ringing chamber.†††  I suspect I probably looked like a woman on her way to an oxygen tent last night—and there have been have been wedding rings when we were seven because the eighth was in hospital having the cast put on.  I fear it was another pull-off that went BING BING BING CRASH CLANG CRUNCH.  It wasn’t me!  I was on the two!  That second flawless bing was me!

            . . . Okay.  Bleaugh.  I’m sure blog honour is satisfied.  I’m going to go lie down again.  I can feel the pressure of beady little hellhound gazes going, yes!  Yes!  Sofa!  Yes!‡  

* * *

*I apologise to my regular readers:  you are going to get very tired of this nightly reminder.  But not all of you are regular and I want to make sure that anyone just passing through any time between last night and the 9th of October who might buy or bid on something is prompted to do so.

 ** And there are already bids on the knitted rose dishcloth.  Rats.  That means I’m going to have to make the freller.  Well, okay . . . it means I’ll finally finish something.  Maybe this will inspire me on all those other projects. 

*** When the report with the estimate on our bells came in and I was possessed by this deranged idea to have an auction, I thought the writing end of my life was proceeding according to plan. 

† And the looking foolish is being taken care of more than adequately by ringing at the abbey.  Which I am let off a repeat performance of for a fortnight because next week they’re having a special Gadzooks Gorblimey on Forty-Two practise.  The week after that, however . . .

            There is some comfort in the fact that everyone I’ve told my tale of woe to has said oh, Forzadeldestino, it’s a monster, don’t worry about it.  The only difference is that there are the people who say ‘you get used to it’ and there are the people who say ‘I won’t ring there unless an entire squadron of angels beg me on bended knee’.  

†† And the directions for growing an extra pair of hands are not at all clear.  I don’t think they were translated from their original Betelgeusean very well.  The technology is so old on Betelgeuse they probably don’t feel they have to explain concepts like ‘zork’ and ‘capatootle’ completely. 

††† Roger, whom I would describe as insane, except that that epithet applies to all ringers^, has decided to take it as a Personal Affront that I joined the Muddlehamptons instead of St Radegund’s choir.  Yo, honey, I don’t want the responsibility of being in a regular Sunday-service choir:  it’s bad enough I have to fall out of bed for service ring.  At least I can go home afterward and inject some more caffeine.  The Muddlehamptons are free lance;  they do concerts and special appearances^^;  St Radegund’s choir is nailed to the service year.  Today he said:  We need sopranos!^^^  You could have come early and helped fill out the choir!

            Today I wasn’t singing anything,# thank you very much, unless possibly you needed a croak among the basses, and Roger, you insane person, I don’t know the music.  You could pick it up, he said.  I looked at him.  He looked at me.  Well, I said##, if you ever know you’re going to be short some time, you could phone me.  But you’d have to put me next to someone who knew what she was doing.

            I may regret this.  St Radegund may regret this.  After all, they haven’t heard me yet.

^ Go on, one of you other ringers.  Disagree.  Go on, I dare you.   

^^ For pity’s sake I’m going to have to think about what I’m wearing for that grazdibbled wedding in a fortnight.  Usually, for concerts, I’m told, we wear The Uniform, which is a white blouse and long black skirt for women—men have to wear dark suits, white shirts and conservative ties.  For this wedding I’m told we’re supposed to be Sunday best dressed.  I don’t frelling do Sunday best.  And somehow I don’t think the black leather mini would go over. 

^^^ I’ve said to you already, haven’t I, what’s the deal with sopranos?  Forty-odd years ago they were two a penny.  As soon as you said ‘soprano’ choir directors wilted.  If you wanted not to be invited to join a choir, say, ‘soprano’. 

 # Although I am wondering why, when I’ve clearly spent most of this week coming down with this thing, whatever it is, I had been singing better than usual.  Whatever.  I am going to be singing again by Monday.  For one thing I have another delivery.  I am now apparently the official courier between Oisin—who is also a purveyor of sheet music—and Nadia. 

## Hey, I have flu.  I’m not at my best and crankiest. 

‡ I have to get up tomorrow morning.^  After ringing two last Sunday I certainly have to go to service ring.  

^ This is another of those ‘don’t talk to me about the inherent Wisdom of the Body unless you want to get punched in the nose’ things.  It would be nice if I could sleep.  I’m ill, I need sleep, right?  Tell that to the admin.  Of course my admin is probably permanently torpedoed by the ME, but it’s exactly the same principle.  ME, characterised by permanent exhaustion . . . and chronic insomnia.  GAAAAAAAH.

It’s alive


Okay, here we go.  Knock yourselves out.  Please.

It runs from NOW till 2 pm Chicago USA time* Sunday, 9 October.**

* * *

* Because Blogmom is running the back end, and that’s her time zone

** Doodles may run longer.  We’ll see how it goes.





Meanwhile, back at the maelstrom. . . .

            Niall emailed me, How did it go at Forzadeldestino last night?  I told him.  He answered:  Don’t worry – the rope-sight problems of ringing in an aircraft hangar are prone to inducing paranoid sensations of agoraphobia.  When we foregathered in a handbellish way this afternoon Colin added, plain hunt on forty-seven is more complicated than just counting the same old pattern on higher numbers.**  And Gemma, whose home tower is Forzadeldestino***, said, oh, it would be great if you kept coming.  You get used to it!  Really!  —If you get used to it, I said suspiciously, why were you the only other middling-level ringer there, besides Bronwen and me?

            Erm, said Gemma, looking shifty.†  Come anyway.  It will be good for your character.


            But the good news is . . . my high B is back.  Whoa, howdy, nice to see you.  I seem to have taken one of those weird lurches forward that every learner in every activity does;†††  last week was a Despair Week when singing was next thing from strangling myself with my own hands.  This week . . . well, all these things are relative, especially when applied to my singing, but I’ve noticed that I’m warming up more easily and the stretch-and-relax aspect is more like dealing with bread dough than cement.  I admit I’ve been working on the top end because I want to stay a first soprano for a while longer, and the Muddlehamptons aren’t quite as tin-pot as I had been counting on.  I need that A.  Today the A came without my having to get a broom to prod it, snapping and snarling, out from under the bed, and I thought oh, ha ha ha ha, I wonder if there’s a B above it?  And there was.  Golly.  So I’m now on to be a more or less functional three octaves again, although as I keep saying, and speaking of bread dough, I wish there was a way to kind of fold it over and . . . I don’t know, add cinnamon or something . . . I mean, I’d be happy to have fewer notes that sounded better. 

            But I did go to choir practise tonight feeling like slightly less of a fraud than I have been.  And . . . frell and double frell, that damn A is the least of my problems.  Major sodgangblanging learning curve.  And Griselda is going to be away for the next fortnight—while the alarming Ravenel is going to be back next week.  And when I asked Gordon about extra sopranos for this wedding—the wedding we’re learning Os Justi for, with the high A and some kitten-and-yarn harmonies‡—he looked surprised and said oh, yes please. . . . so despite my skill in missing concerts, I seem to have just booked myself for a Public Performance.  A visible public performance.  With your audience sitting there looking at you.  Why didn’t I stick to ringing bells.  Anthea even asked if I could ring a wedding that same day and now I have to go and tell her no.  

* * *

 * And Saturday’s blog will be all the caveats.  

BurgundyIce wrote:  I’m so excited!! 

Oh good. 

I have been dreaming about whether I could ask for a Tsornin w/ Narknon sitting under lashing her tail as if they just leapt the Outlander station wall and startled everyone and were smug about it. A smug Tsornin and Narknon. Doesn’t that sound worth dreaming about? But the teapot… NICE!! And that clock!! I think I will be happy asking for something completely random, like a Surprise Me Thingame. 

The Surprise Me Thingame I can certainly do. ^  A smug Tsornin and Narknon?  Probably not.  I can do a Narknon^^, and I can certainly do a Tsornin, but together is too complicated for the doodle levels I’m offering here, and I’m not sure I could lay on smugness at all.  Other amateur doodlers out there will understand that you need to think simple.  The rest of you will have to take it on faith—that you need to think simple.  Any professional artists out there, please don’t break any ribs laughing.

            Mind you, I’m enjoying doodling, and having the excuse to spend the time on it.  And I am nursing a little fantasy that if doodles do prove to be popular we might choose a nice charity for the loot if any, and make them available indefinitely. ^^^ Whereupon complexity, and price, would become negotiable. 

^ I’m a little anxious that anyone in receipt of one of my actual, real-live, smudgy piece of paper in your hand, doodles, is going to find it . . . surprising.  Not necessarily in a good way.  Those of you who grew up with your fingers glued to a computer keyboard mostly won’t know about the astonishing credibility that your lame, fumbling words develop when you type up your handwritten scrawl.  I have the sinking feeling that the computer screen does something similar with doodles.    

^^ Any comments on her resemblance to Tsornin with a cat’s head, feet and tail will not be appreciated. 

^^^ Which might also help assuage my guilt over refusing to sign books by post.  You can buy a doodle!   Given the cost of postage it will be cheaper!

** He ruined this comforting effect however by adding that it takes him a good thirty minutes into a peal attempt to feel really comfortable on a strange bell in a twelve (or more) bell tower he’s never rung at before.  Thanks.  That makes me feel a lot better. 

*** If Forzadeldestino were my closest tower, I’d move.  And being two garden walls over from it^, as I am from New Arcadia’s tower, would not have irresistibly started me ringing again. 

^ Aside from the fact that this would put me in the serious high rent/low square footage district of the little medieval town it used to be.  A terraced house there would make my cottage look generously proportioned . . . but the taps would be gold and the counters palladium.+  And the hellhound crate diamond-studded teak.   

+ Platinum is so last century.  

† Gemma is one of these annoying people who learnt ringing as a teenager and then stopped when her life filled up with other things.  Now her kids are mostly grown she’s taken it up again.  This is a common pattern.  The problem with this common pattern from the perspective of someone like me is that these people suddenly get their feet under them and soar off into the empyrean, knocking off full peals of Dictum Sapienti Vigesimal with their mates on slow Sunday afternoons when there’s nothing on TV. 

†† Further on the subject of feh:  It was just yesterday, right?, that I was telling you how great audiobooks are and how I’ve joined audible^ and my first download is fabulous and thrilling and so on?  Did I mention that one of the great things about all this is that it’s surprisingly SIMPLE?  EVEN I CAN DO IT?

            Today, out hurtling, I ran to the end of part three.  And part four refused to play.  It claimed to need downloading.  I downloaded it when I downloaded three, which picked up at the end of part two without my having to do ANYTHING.

            I have no idea.  After screaming and throwing things for a while, I emailed audible.  And to give them credit, they emailed me back promptly.  I’m under the impression I had already done everything they suggested.  But I did it all over again—possibly in a slightly different order—and I believe I have Part Four to fascinate and horrify me during tomorrow’s morning hurtle.

            Never Praise Technology.  It makes stuff short out and go gleep.  


††† Some of us, of course, are lurchier than others. 

‡ I didn’t know Bruckner had it in him.  It’s really really pretty.  I just can’t sing it.




            It’s all Bronwen’s fault.  Hear that, Bronwen?  IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT.

            I haven’t been to Forzadeldestino in years because it intimidates the gorblimey out of me.  Also in previous eras it was not always welcoming to ringers of a less than a Gadzooks Pentathlon level and you were made to feel it if you asked for plain bob doubles.  Also it’s stonking huge.  I’d kind of forgotten how huge.   The abbey itself is the size of a small country*** and to get to the tower and then into the ringing chamber requires you take a tour.  Now here is the capital city, and here are the major seaports, and here is the palace of the queen and the exchequer.  And the llama farm.  The queen is very fond of llamas, and her breeding programme is  . . . Where was I?  I have no idea.  But there are mountains.  Look, I think that’s snow. 

            There are mountains.  And the steps that have been hacked into them are short, curly, and uneven.  And they keep switching back on themselves till you’re pretty sure your heading is one of the more obscure of the wind’s twelve quarters, and with every twist the corridor you’re no longer walking along but climbing through gets smaller.  You’re already hauling yourself hand over hand up the rope helpfully looped along the wall—now the ceiling is pressing in on you till you have to take your knapsack off and carry it the last few steps in your teeth.  Where is a llama when you need one?

            And then you creep out of the claustrophobic tunnel into a ringing chamber . . . the size of a ballroom.  Or possibly a llama farm.  And have I mentioned Forzadeldestino has forty-six bells?  Well, maybe thirty-eight.  Lots.  You grab a rope and you have no idea where you are.  You can pick out the tenor(s) because they’re the ones with massive boxes under the ropes but . . . towers with more than six bells (at New Arcadia, for example, where we have eight bells total) may ring the ‘front six’ or the ‘back six’.  At Forzadeldestino they have the front eight, the back ten, the second-front six, the second-back fourteen, the middle eighteen, and the King Olaf Memorial Twelve and a Half.  We rang plain hunt—plain hunt!  One miserable frelling step beyond call changes!—on eight hundred and ninety six and I couldn’t count that high.  I know the pattern—that’s one of the things about plain hunt, it’s EXACTLY the same pattern if you’re on four bells or four hundred.  I had a minder for plain hunt and I still couldn’t do it.†

            Did I say ‘humiliating’?  Humiliating.

            I’m not going to expound upon the touch of Grandsire triples that I only failed to derail because everyone kept ringing around me like stepping over a dead rat in the road.  Except to say that . . . when you have so frelling over-many scrangblatted bells, if you’re only ringing eight of them, you aren’t ringing in a circle, you’re ringing in a line.  This is HORRIBLY CONFUSING (to the tiny easily-confused mind).  Also, having just been ringing on sixty-seven (plus tenor-behind) there didn’t seem to be enough of them, when under ordinary circumstances, eight bells all going at once seems like a lot. 

            I wanted to go home long before the practise was over.  And the real problem is . . . shut up Bronwen, you’ve caused enough trouble for one evening†† . . . I have to go back.  I mostly can’t be bothered having stuff to prove any more—this is one of the advantages of getting old:  not having to care about so much dumb stuff—but tonight was real getting back on the horse that threw you territory.  I have to go back. 


            Oh, and the banana?  Next time I’m going to eat a banana first.  Very grounding, bananas.  Plus a few calories to give the panicking mind something to chomp on.  Unless I manage to find a convent between now and next Wednesday.

* * *

* Where I will take up origami and scrimshaw.  I will also knit.  And it has to be a convent that takes hellhounds.  The Convent of the Goofy Little Friends of St Francis.  

** Okay, wait.  If I’m giving up ringing, I won’t have ringing humiliation stories to tell.  I don’t have to join a convent.  Although . . . no internet connection . . . hmmmmmm.  It’s not that I don’t spend way too much time cruising.  Or rather, it is because I spend way too much time cruising.  Think of all the knitting I can get done without an internet connection.^   I might even, you know, finally finish something. 

            Which reminds me that I never got round to responding to some of the comments about audiobooks.^^  It is very much a yes-it-works-for-me/NO-IT-DOESN’T-WORK-AT-ALL thing but I am having that late-convert’s where have you been all my life reaction.  At the moment I’m listening to the 20th-anniversary revised edition of DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY, Everything You Need to Know about American History But Never Learned, by Kenneth C. Davis^^^ and am finding it absolutely riveting.  He’s getting all of American history in 600-odd pages though so it does kind of careen past, with the concentrating listener going, Wait, wait, what happened because of what?  Didn’t we miss out a president or two here?#  I am a little testy, however, because I found out within the first chapter or so that I need the hard copy to go over after I’ve listened to the audio version, to fill in those moments when my mind wandered or I got stuck at the ‘wait wait’ point and didn’t hear what happened, or when something I was so sure I knew turns out to be wrong that the new version just bounces off the hard smooth well-muscled skin of my bum steer and disappears.  I have the original book, and I’ve been reading along in that, but it ends twenty years ago.  And it turns out that the new version is so frelling new it’s only available in hardback.  The total sum I’ve spent on this book—which I now have in two paper editions and an audible download—it might as well be frelling Kelmscott’s frelling Chaucer.  But my American history is probably the best it’s ever been, not that this is saying much.##  ### This is the full 30-hour version—there’s an abridged six hour version and I can’t even imagine.  

            But on the subject of the mind wandering:  I’m listening to an audiobook either when I’m knitting or hurtling hellhounds in town.  And there are horrible knots, lumps and dropped stitches in the one or sudden encounters of a drooling pugnacious canine kind on the other that are overpoweringly distracting.  

^ I know I’ve told you that I only bought my first computer because I could no longer get replacement parts for my IBM Selectric I typewriter of hallowed memory.  

^^ And I now can’t remember which thread they’re on. 

^^^ Who is now a brand name.  Don’t Know Much about Geography, the [American] Civil War, the Bible, the Universe . . . and Anything Else.  No, really. 

# Yes.  I do think it’s brilliant—and a medal as well to the reader-aloud who I think gets it just right—which is not to say that I don’t sometimes disagree with Davis’ choice of emphasis and what to leave out.  But that’s inevitable in a book like this, and it’s got a massive bibliography as well as a scattering of ‘must-reads’ in the text. 

## And not as if I’ll retain more than about 2.03% of it. 

### I don’t know if the link is going to take you to or inside my account to my own personal page, where it says ‘your rating is’.  But yes, the single-as-I-write-this five-star rating is mine. 

***Luxembourg, say.  It’s definitely bigger than Monaco. 

† Not in my defense—there is no defense—but further confusion is caused by the fact that the rhythm of lots and lots of bells is different from the rhythm of fewer bells.  When there are so many of the wretched things clanging away you pretty well have to hold up and wait every stroke . . . and this, to those of us who already have trouble with both rhythm and ropesight, is diabolical. 

 †† She was having some trouble too.  Nothing like as much as I was having.  Stop talking to me in that kind, patient, sympathetic voice. 

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