Thrilling, thrilling news*
THE ROBINS’ NEST IN MY GREENHOUSE IS INHABITED. Er. By, you know, robins.
It was time for the day to start improving by then. It had not begun well. It had not begun well several days ago. The old mews laptop has been off line since last Friday, which is a mega frelling pain in the patootie, since while the little knapsack computer is a gigantic patootie-saver, in all other ways it is too dagblaggingly SMALL. Somebody sends you something you want to look at? Forget it. You have to scroll around so much it’s a seven blind persons and the elephant show. The keyboard is almost big enough, so you type on it as usual, only you’re making as many errors as Frodo the Nine Fingered would, playing Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes.
I had emailed the archangels the beginning of the week, and Raphael had responded that he’d be in touch Tuesday or Wednesday to come out Wednesday or Thursday. By last night—Thursday night—I hadn’t heard from him so I sent him a one-word email: whiiiiiiiine.** This morning there was an email back saying that he’d left a message on Pooka on Wednesday. WHIIIIIIINE. In which one’s technology lets one down again. New phone calls or texts are supposed to show up ON THE OPENING SCREEN of your semi-reliable*** iPhone, and I never think to go looking for them as I go looking for email. There it was, sure enough: but Pooka had apparently been having the vapours when it came in, and failed to put it where I could see it. Meanwhile, however, the little laptop was beginning to emit dark smoke and chittering noises—and the mews had been entirely off the air for about three hours one evening and two hours the next AND I was getting very tired of writing the blog on the off-line mews proper-sized laptop and putting it on a memory stick to plug into a live socket somewhere. †
So Raphael, who is a wonderful human being, I mean archangel, rejuggled his Friday and came out anyway. I texted Oisin that I might be a little late . . . I guess maybe. Two and a half hours later I texted Oisin again, saying, cup of tea or do you want to kill me? Raphael had walked in the door, pressed ONE MYSTIC SYMBOL—I mean it’s not even a button or a key it’s a perfectly flat, non-contoured symbol—on the semi-dead†† laptop and LO! it was live again. Kill me.††† However . . . nothing else was the slightest bit straightforward and two and a half hours later he had to leave because he had to leave‡ . . . and while he had convinced the iPad update not to delete everything stored in my library, iPod, photos, etc, he hadn’t convinced it to, you know, update either.
I’m also trailing around at one-quarter speed because I was comprehensively shattered by yesterday’s events. I had slept badly night-before-last in dread of yesterday, and I couldn’t really separate out grief for Gloriana and Gloriana’s family and simple fear of walking into my old ringing chamber. I also wanted to go to the funeral, but where was I supposed to sit? With the ringers because I was ringing or not with the ringers because I’m not a member of the band? I don’t think this is covered by Miss Manners.
I was also, of course, terrified that I was going to put my foot or my head through the frelling rope, or break a stay, or fall down in a fit, or something. . . . But in fact in terms of blood and horror it was a complete failure. I’m pleased to say. Admin was extremely gracious and I was gracious right back. And I’m not a good ringer, and I’m a twitchy, jerky ringer but I’m still a ringer, and the feeling of my hands on a bell rope is automatically steadying. And those bells are—aside from the crucial health and safety stuff that made the work necessary—noticeably easier to ring.‡‡ I had thought it was ‘open’ ringing where everyone who knew how was welcome to come have a pull, but there were only eight of us for the eight bells. We rang. Hands on ropes: bong. Bong. Bong. This is what the bells are for: well, change ringing was invented by Christian bell ringers for Christian churches, but I cast the net wider: for me the sound of the bells is a declaration: there is something beyond us. You want it at a wedding, but—for me—you need it at a funeral.‡‡‡
Admin wanted to try to ring after the funeral too. I had been planning on opting out, but that would have left them with only five—six is a good number, and five isn’t really. So I stayed. The funeral itself was pretty gruelling—the church was packed out; she had a lot of friends, and quite a few of them spoke—and when we got back to our ropes we just rang rounds: one-two-three-four-five-six, one-two-three-four-five-six, the bells in order, smallest to largest, over and over and over and over. Your heart lifts at the same time as you’re trying not to burst into tears. . . .
So. Yes. I went. I faced all those people§. I rang on several of the bells in the ringing chamber that used to be as familiar to me as my own furniture in my own sitting room. It was a bit miserable, but then it was a funeral, and Gloriana will be much missed. And . . . it was still a good decision for me, quitting my tower. I don’t like that it was a good decision, but it was a good decision. And I think I slept fine last night, I just need a month or two of hibernation.§§
. . . So I went along to Oisin’s nearly two hours late this afternoon. And I drank several cups of tea and raved, chiefly about bell ringing and computers§§§ and after I eventually wound down a little Oisin asked if I’d like to sing something? I’d even brought my music. How about that. I must be beginning to believe in the system. So I sang something. And it wasn’t too bad. I may even learn my entries on Dove Sei. It is very confusing having some piano galumphing along with you and throwing you off.
And then I came home and rushed out into the garden because there was a little daylight left and since I don’t dare plant the frellers I’d better pot up the blasted sweet peas . . . and there was a little robin face peering out at me from the shelf in the greenhouse.
* * *
* Books? Why would it be about books? No, it’s not about books.
** He’s used to me. It’s a good thing.
*** This is similar to ‘a little bit pregnant.’
† Diane in MN
On a typewriter. Remember typescript? [ . . .] Nostalgia.
Yes–but it’s tempered nostalgia. I like word processors a whole lot. I think of my mother, going to work out of high school in a lawyer’s office and having to retype entire documents for a single error because corrections weren’t allowed . . . I really really like word processors!
I have also spent time typing contracts that you couldn’t make an error on—and while I’m sure that someone on salary who wasted hours retyping wouldn’t be long for that job, it was immediately critical for a free lancer like me who got paid by the assignment. So. Yes. And I love the internet, but a lot of the frenzy of that love is on account of needing underpinning and maintenance for the sodblasted blog which itself wouldn’t exist . . . without the internet. You didn’t get error messages with typewriters and they broke or blew up only RARELY. You didn’t have to buy a new one every few years . . . and when you did buy a new one you were not legally required to buy with it a new keyboard layout, a new return mechanism, a new brand of error cover-up paint (with a new dispenser), a new dictionary, new encyclopaedia, a new language . . . all of which you would have to LEARN TO USE.
Er. Hurrumph. I like word processors too. But I’m not a whole-hearted fan. Especially not after a week like this one. And if you’re going to go all snippy on me and say that a word processor has nothing to do with internet connection . . . I shall become CRANKY.
†† Very like ‘semi-reliable’ and ‘a little bit pregnant’.
††† Oisin having declined.
‡ I think this may be very like being paid by the assignment.
‡‡ Siiiiiiiigh. Nicest set of bells in the area just got nicer.
‡‡‡ I know this isn’t going to happen, but I wish ringers were on retainer, so more weddings and particularly more funerals had bells. We ring ordinary services as part of our charter, but bells for your individual event are expensive.
§ Most of whom, in a few cases to my surprise, are apparently still talking to me.
§§ And, tension level? I seem to have sprung just about every muscle in my body. Pulling a big, ratbaggy, awkward bell, you may feel it—or anyway I¸ who am not very good at it, may feel it—in my shoulders and stomach. Ordinary ringing on ordinary bells, no.^ But yesterday . . . my chest, shoulders, arms, belly and back . . . all of them were telling me that I had been toting barges and lifting bales all day. Good grief.
^ It’s never about sheer strength. It’s always about (sheer) skill.
§§§ And the continued non-existence of the New Arcadia Singers
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