February 29, 2012

Another day, another frenzy


I am now officially putting in for a day that ISN’T another of those FRELLING DAYS.  I had a friend coming for the afternoon so the first thing was, of course . . . I overslept.  I woke up to the sound of the Delivery Man giving up banging on the door and carrying the FORTY FRELLING TONS of gold-dust dog kibble* up the steep half-flight of stairs beside the house to leave it behind the gate, which is where I ask for things to be left, but that means I have to wrestle the wretched thing back DOWN the (steep) steps and then back UP the steps to the front door . . . and then womanhandle it through the maze of doors, puppy gates, hellhounds, etc to get the freller into the far corner of the sitting room which is where it lives because I have ZERO storage space on the ground floor of the cottage.**  ZERO.***

            Then I failed to learn today’s Japanese vocabulary because the pdf print out simply doesn’t contain this lesson and my memory is nowhere near good enough to assimilate much from someone chirping it at me two or three times while hellhounds and I are out hurtling†.  I’m starting to get a little cranky about the shortcomings of this package.  Also I’m back to the squeaky, breathy Ashley-san section again.  Maybe it’s time I loaded up the Japanese for Dummies CD.

            So hellhounds and I finally got down to the mews with about an hour before I had to go meet a train.  I was outdoors with a bucket, rubber gloves and a sponge, peeling a few layers off Wolfgang’s exterior†† when Peter appeared at the front door and said, You are seeking to impress?  Seeking to impress? I said.  No, I am seeking not to horrify.  I’ve also got the two pairs of muddy hiking boots and two and a half pairs of muddy gaiters out of the front footwell, had a quick—very quick—swipe with the dustcloth at the dashboard, and refolded the hellhound-rubdown towels so that the dirtiest bits are inside.††† 

            I came indoors again, both Wolfgang and I a good bit damper than we’d been half an hour ago, but Wolfgang isn’t dripping on the floor.  I glance at the clock and start on hellhound lunch.  Don’t forget to get some food into you, says Peter.  Menopause metabolism, I reply, I don’t need food, and weren’t you going upstairs to have a nice lie down from which distancy and horizontality you can’t make unwelcome remarks?

            Hellhounds won’t eat their lunch.  AAAAAAAAUGH.


            When I tried to text Clotilda that I was going to be late I kept getting the ‘this phone number does not exist, you call that a clean car you filthy slut, your computer hates you and your dogs are weird’ error message.

            I was half an hour late to the train station.  Clotilda was, I think, so relieved to see me at all that her initial reaction to Wolfgang was muted.‡  I think the afternoon went okay otherwise.  Barring the extremely nasty cup of tea I subjected her to.  Ambience is not all and next time I have a tea-drinking friend visiting we are going to penetrate into the unambient end of town where there is a rumour of a tea-shop that serves the stuff I drink at home.‡‡  Then I forced her to hurtle hellhounds with me.  Oh dear.  Poor Clotilda. . . . 

I’ve been following your discussion of the research you do for your books with a lot of interest. Just this week you’ve mentioned how you’re brushing up on your Japanese‡‡‡ for Shadows and the studying on bees you did for Chalice. As a dog person, I’ve always loved Deerskin for how dog-smart it is, particularly what Lissar learns and observes as she tries to raise the orphan litter of fleethound puppies. Having raised pups myself, there are so many little details in there that ring true to me. I always smile when Lissar uses the straw to get milk into the pups, because it reminds me of the way modern breeders tube feed (though with different equipment, of course). You even captured the fear of what might happen if milk gets in those little lungs. In fact, it reads so realistically that I have to wonder if your research for this part of the book involved more than just reading about puppy raising. Did this scene come from a real-life experience? 

Thank you!  I’ve never raised puppies from first infancy, no, but I did raise the litter of puppies which contained my very first dog, a white German Shepherd, when I was a teenager.  They were not quite two weeks old when their mum decided she wasn’t cut out for motherhood and bolted, and I was in that la-la-la adolescent phase when anything to do with a subject you love is good so I was like, raise eight tiny unweaned puppies by hand?  Sure!  Arrrrgh.  Well, all eight of the little frellers lived, so obviously the learning curve wasn’t too steep.  The owner did keep half an eye on me, but she was already way over her head with other duties—she ran a riding stable as well as a kennels—and I was the kind of over-responsible tool who would sit up all night if that was what was required.  If you’ve been through it, then you know about the very real danger of diarrhea in puppies—it doesn’t take much to tax them past what their tiny little metabolisms can cope with.  Eight hours for a full night’s sleep is way too long, even with vet’s drugs (although the drugs may be better and faster-acting these days).  I never used straws, but I wielded a mean eyedropper.  I can’t now remember where I learnt about foreign matter in the lungs—but I’d survived pneumonia myself only about two years before this, so the fragility of lungs was probably still a vividly disturbing subject. 


Fostered a litter of kittens. All four kittens (and mama) found homes. One kitten’s home didn’t work out. I don’t even like tuxedo cats, I said, nearly crying with happiness as he leaped back into my arms.

He’s doing his best impersonation of a fuzzy ball right now in my lap, purring and dozing with ears the size of bat wings. Speaking of bats. 

I love stories like this.  I therefore forgive you for the reference to bats. 


If I am not mistaken [Haro] is a very well formed wire haired fox terrier puppy. At which point I melt and go SQUEEE! I love my terriers. 

He does look like one, doesn’t he?  And far more this week than last—if I’d got photos of him last week you’d’ve known he wasn’t.  He’s really come into his own as diabolically cute.  No, he’s a Jack Russell/Border cross, and while they are all frelling little terriers he looks like he’s going to grow up to be a very handsome scion of the genre.


* * *

* Yes, it’s a lot of gold dust.  Priced accordingly.  But if you want free postage—and at these prices you certainly do want free postage—you have to order it in upper tonnage. 

** I have lots of bookshelves, of course.  But bookshelves aren’t storage.   They’re bookshelves.  They’re a basic necessity, like tea, chocolate and champagne.   And books.  Oh, and there are never enough of them.  Like tea, chocolate, champagne and books. 

*** Did I ever do you my tapdance-with-added-arrrgh about my little row of dwarf appliances under the stairs?  Most people have an under-stair cupboard.  I have to keep my refrigerator, freezer and washing machine under there, and I swear the spice rack on the wall above the washing machine sticks a corner out, like someone putting a foot out in a slapstick comedy, every time I straighten up from doing something with laundry.  At least I can employ language.  It’s worse on handbell evenings, when the spice rack nails me as I’m getting the milk out of the refrigerator for everybody else’s tea.  And they’re all right in the next room, and they’re all British.  MMppphggggrhrhrhrhrhGGGH. 


†† Hey!  He’s red

††† I have also decided I am not letting her indoors at the cottage, where I haven’t hoovered since approximately . . . when I turned the second draft of SHADOWS in.  Furthermore I suspect her of being a neat freak and never having dirty dishes in the sink. 

‡ And I haven’t even mentioned his vibrant array of dents which might cause a feeling of insecurity in the timid. 

‡‡ http://www.charteas.com/ 

Since I nearly always order on line I don’t worry about this interesting factoid from their opening page:  ‘ We are open seven days a week from 10.00am to 5.30pm, and Sundays from 11.00am to 3.00pm.’ 

‡‡‡ ‘Brushing up on my Japanese’ HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  I now remember . . . maybe twelve kanji, although always for the wrong reasons.  For example, the kanji for ‘father’ is described as ‘regrettably, hands wielding a stick’.   Or, to my eye, two sticks.  Or, how about this, from my lovely if over-optimistic READ JAPANESE TODAY:  ‘The character for evening [squiggle] combined with the divining rod [squiggle], used by shamans and necromancers who worked at night to bring their customers news from the spirit world, made the composite kanji [double squiggle], meaning other or outside of.  [previous double squiggle plus squiggle for person], gaijin, other-person, is a foreigner.’


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