August 26, 2012

More puppeeeeeeeeeeeeez

blondviolinist

More puppy pics, please!!!! *

This is the little boy. Wooshs woosha woosha awwwwwwwww.

 

The global version. Good of my pink knapsack. And Lavvy. I'm taking a photo of one of the tricolour girls on Lavvy's other side.

Horsehair Braider

They almost remind me of guinea pigs at this age but I’m sure that will change rapidly as they grow. The mother is adorable, she looks like such a sweet dog. 

I think they TOTALLY look like guinea pigs at this stage, and I meant to say so in the last blog and it got left out somehow.  Puppies do have little blunt faces, and they’re all blobs to begin with** but in these guys’ case they’re going to grow up to be bull terriers so they get going early on a unique head shape.***   And Lavvy is a sweetheart, I’d be delighted to have a dog just like . . . er.

Lavvy and hellgoddess

Lavvy, hellgoddess, and little Prince Charming

blondviolinist

THEY’RE ALL TAKEN! I’M GLAD THEY’RE ALL TAKEN!

You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means. 

You are alarming me very much.  There are three women, all of whom have had bullies before, and all of whom are (you should forgive the term) panting for a puppy from southdowner’s line, and the dad’s owners.  THAT’S FOUR, ISN’T IT?  FOUR PUPPIES.  FOUR PEOPLE WHO WANT PUPPIES.  IT’S OKAY IF I JUST WANT TO PLAY WITH THEM A LITTLE.  And if Olivia giggles when she catches my eye . . . well, so what?

Little Prince Charming. Who doesn't have his eyes open. The girls were all getting theirs open. Ah, boys.

Yup. This is him again. This photo makes me laugh and laugh.

 

I could never cook to a recipe either.

Following exact directions is for wussies. 

I have a friend who works in a yarn store, and she says I would be amazed at the number of knitters, both new and experienced, who creep into the shop trembling in fear because they have TAKEN A BREATH THAT WAS NOT IN THE PATTERN and have come to the nearest temple to the goddess† to be sacrificed.††  These must be young people, I said, beyond the rebellious teenage phase, who have settled down to be Contributing Members of Society, and still have a touching faith in the efficacy of rules.

No, she said.  Mostly they’re your age.

What?  How can you get this old and still believe in RULES?

. . . Anyway.  I have finished my first KNITTED OBJECT TO GIVE AWAY!!!!!  The NEW Secret Project #1 is COMPLETE!!!!! And . . . um . . . it doesn’t look much like the picture in the book, aside from my entirely necessary and called-for adaptations.  Siiiiiiiiigh.  I’m trying to decide if it’s the cute end of the ‘oh . . . dear’ scale or the . . .

I hope she doesn’t break anything when she falls down laughing.  †††

 

Yin/yang. Although they're both girls.

Diane in MN

I don’t need a third dog! I couldn’t cope with a third dog!

We’ve had three dogs. Three dogs is exponentially more than two dogs. Two dogs is GOOD. 

Um.  I liked having three dogs.  But all three of our whippets together would make about a third of a Great Dane (aside from the superabundance of legs, tails etc), and Peter was going on walks with me then which meant two more available lead-holding hands.

When we bred a litter years ago, we pretty much did nothing but puppies for two months . . . The operative phrase was “what life?” 

I have the feeling that Olivia is finding it increasingly difficult to speak in complete sentences.  And I’m not sure an expressed willingness to drive across half the country to take your puppies to tea with their dad is the sign of a balanced, rational mind.

And good for you, adapting your knitting patterns to what you want. I love this about knitting. 

Well . . . so do I.  But I’m not entirely convinced that it’s not a character flaw, before you know what you’re doing.  Although you do tend to own the stuff you learn by doing it the hard way in a rich and comprehensive manner that you would just skate over if you were merely following directions.   Then you’d be able to blame the directions.

 

Little open-eyed girl. She looks a little dazed, but she's trying.

 

Love love love. This is the little white girl.

 

AWWWWWWWWWW. This is the other one that makes me laugh and laugh. I guess I like upside down puppies.

 

* * *

* There is also a rumour . . . at present merely a rumour . . . that Olivia might be bringing The Four Cutest Puppies in the Universe (and their milk bar) to a location not hopelessly far away from here^, on Bank Holiday Monday, I think to show them off to the dad’s owner, who I think gets pick of the litter, which is to say the day after tomorrow.

If this proves to be the case I may have a little field trip on Monday.

^ I mean by my standards

** I’m sure I’ve told you many times how startling it is to meet your first whippet/sighthound/dramatic undercarriage litter and observe that they too are undifferentiated puppy blobs . . . with little blunt faces and tiny soft triangular ears.

***  http://robinmckinleysblog.com/2012/07/03/visitor/

† Of course there are many lovely male knitters.  The god of knitting is nonetheless a goddess.^

^ She appears to me rather frequently, clutching her forehead and biting the ends of her beautifully decorated ritual needles.+

+ She has many, many sets of these, suitable for all occasions and high holy days.  Many of them have teethmarks in them.

†† And their blood drained off and made into Blood Yarn.  If they can make yarn out of milk they can certainly make it out of blood.^

^ It’s all about the protein solids.  Ewwww.

††† Meanwhile I’ve got started on the second one.  Got halfway through and . . . had to rip the freller back to a heap of rickrack.  ARRRRRRGH.  Some of you may remember my doing exactly the same thing to Secret Knitting Project Number One about a fortnight ago.  I HOPE THIS IS NOT A NECESSARY PART OF THE SYSTEM.  Arrrrrrgh.

Also, even I’m not insane enough to unwind the rest of the skein so I can’t tell by where the rewind ends how much remedial knitting I’m doing . . . but meanwhile being aware that I’m still FRELLING REKNITTING what I’ve already done once is SOMEWHAT FRUSTRATING.

 

Intellectual Rigour. But I never claimed to have it.

 

Okay, enough with the happy Peter Dickinson book news and the adorable puppy photos and all that chirpy stuff.   I am still kind of reeling from a couple of days ago* which may help explain why this evening . . . I am having a CRANKY ATTACK.**

            I’ve been reading a very interesting book, THINKING, FAST AND SLOW by Daniel Kahneman.   It’s had a huge amount of positive press (as in this link:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/dec/13/thinking-fast-slow-daniel-kahneman ) and is a mega best seller and as someone who is even more depressed by the FIFTY SHADES OF GREY phenomenon than she was at the TWILIGHT phenomenon, which was as low as I was expecting the common denominator to get***, I say splendid, and may it sell trillions.  But . . .

            I found the first half a lot more compelling than the second, although I’d been making occasional spluttering noises of disbelief or disagreement from the beginning†.  But he lost me completely near the end.††  He decides to use LA TRAVIATA as a coat hanger to drape some stuff about the irrationality of human emotions over.  And he gets details of the plot wrong.  He says that Violetta’s lover, Alfredo, is an aristocrat.  He is not.  He is bourgeois.  When Papa Germont comes to do the heavy-dad thing at Violetta and convince her to give Alfredo up for the sake of Alfredo’s family and especially his sister, innocent flower that she is, and about to be sold, I mean married, to a man who won’t have her if her brother is shacked up with a whore.  There is no way this scene would work the way it works if Germont were an aristocrat.  It might work some other way, but that’s not the opera Verdi wrote.    

             Kahneman goes on to describe the end:  Violetta is dying surrounded by a few friends.  She is NOT.  She is ALONE, except for her maid, and occasional visits from her doctor, and the fact that the doctor who professionally declares the death sentence††† is treated like a friendly visitor underscores just how terribly alone she is.‡ This makes her last-minute reunion with her bourgeois lover and his thug of a father—who can afford to be generous because she’s going to be dead in a minute—infinitely more poignant.  Someone might have written what Kahneman says Verdi wrote.  But that’s not what Verdi wrote, and what Verdi wrote breaks your heart.  Stuff irrationality. 

            But if Kahneman is this careless over such easily checked details, what else has he been careless about?  

* * *

* The state of this society, in which I was born, grew up and am now growing old in, on the subject of sex, power and women’s rights, APPALS me.  You all know about Todd Akin’s recent, fabulously grotesque remark that a woman’s body will reject rapist sperm so she won’t get pregnant?  Uh-huh.  That alone does my head in, but now read this, any of you who haven’t already, it was a popular retweet on Twitter a couple of days ago:  http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/dear-representative-todd-akin-i-got-pregnant-from-rape  Here’s the paragraph I wish to draw your particular attention to, emphasis mine: 

Today, I am an attorney and the busy single mother of an amazing second grader. My rape is responsible for both of these roles. You see, I enrolled at GeorgetownLawSchoolafter learning, firsthand, that pregnancy from rape creates unimaginable obstacles for women who decide to raise the children they conceive through rape. In the vast majority of states, a rapist has the same custody and visitation rights to a child born through his crime as other fathers enjoy. In 2010, a paper I wrote on this topic was published by the Georgetown Law Journal, and I continue to travel throughout the country speaking on this issue. 

              I despair.  Sometimes . . . I despair.  

** If you want to put your iPad down and go hunt up your hellgoddess SPF 157 dark glasses at this point, that would be a good idea. 

*** I AM BORED TO DEATH BY PORN, BOTH SOFT AND HARD^.  And pretty much always have been.  I went through a phase of watching quite a lot of, ahem, hard commercial porn, because it was all about sexual liberation . . . and is some of where I woke up to the reality of the fact that it isn’t.  And the apparent fact that some form of tie-me-up-tie-me-down^^ is the fantasy du jour of gazillions of women today frelling desolates me.  It makes me wish I was born on the second planet of Tau Ceti, where it’s all about tentacles and there are thirteen genders which are reassigned by blind ballot every other year. 

^ I’m a Scorpio.  We like sex.  We think sex is great.  

^^ No, I haven’t seen the Almodovar film, and I won’t.  Sue me.  I haven’t read FIFTY SHADES either.  Yes, I read TWILIGHT.  Well, most of it.  I tried.  

† I’m willing to entertain the possibility that to run experiments at all the lab coats have to simplify.  But simplifying human beings’ reactions is risky.  I’ve loaned my hard copy of the book to Gemma and have been listening on Audible while hurtling, so I can’t look up chapter and verse.  But one example that sticks in my mind is about an experiment in—let’s call it compassion.  A group of strangers are in a series of little booths, and each in turn has a chance to speak.  A plant by the admin, when it’s his turn, says that he is inclined to fits when he gets stressed, this is stressing him . . . and then apparently goes off in a fit.  The point is that almost none of the genuine guinea pigs attempts to go to his rescue, and this is supposed to prove that we’re less nice than we think we are. 

            Wait a minute.  You mean nobody was screaming for the admin, phoning for an ambulance—okay, I don’t know if this was since mobile phones became ubiquitous—or demanding to know what the hell was the problem that whoever screened experimental candidates didn’t find out that one of their prospects might have a fatal fit from the stress of being in this study?  Nobody either objected to the set up or smelled a gigantic rotting rat here?   No, I don’t want to deal with a stranger having a fit, so, fine, I’m not a nice person.  But I haven’t got a clue about fits^, and there ought to be safety precautions in place.

            And something else I kept thinking over and over as yet another bunch of credulous humans fell in yet another trap laid for them by the devious lab coats, isn’t anyone ever suspicious when they’ve turned up for some kind of unspecified psychological testing and are shown into a booth or handed a page of curiously bland instructions?^^ 

^ Or perhaps I should say that on the blessedly few occasions that I’ve been the conscious human on the spot, the first thing I did was go for expert help.     

^^ One of my terrible secrets is that I do sometimes read amazon reviews for nonfiction.+  THINKING gets mostly good customer buzz too, but the few objectors are instructive.  This one pretty much reflects my feelings.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1846140552/ref=cm_cr_pr_hist_3?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addThreeStar&showViewpoints=0  And since I’m not sure how amazon customer review links work, the one I mean is by M D Holley. 

+ If you’re looking for a basic Japanese grammar or a knitting reference book, your means of making even a semi-informed choice are limited.  

†† Which I just listened to this evening and had to explain to the hellhounds since there was no one else around.  Possibly because I was trying to explain it to the hellhounds. 

††† The ridiculousness of the doctor declaring ‘she has only a few hours to live’ almost wrecks it.  But not quite.  Especially if you don’t speak Italian.  

‡ Maybe Kahneman is confusing it with the end of La Boheme.  Another heroine dying of tuberculosis in Italian, la la la la, who cares?  I care.

Peter Dickinson stories

 

Peter’s TROLL BLOOD is the above-the-title headline story in the Sept/Oct issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/ *

            You definitely want to read it.  Here’s the beginning: 

                                                                          
TROLL BLOOD


Mari was a seventh child, by some distance — an afterthoughtlessness, her father was fond of remarking.  Moreover she had the changeling look, as if she had come from utterly different stock from her parents and siblings, with their traditonally Nordic features, coarsely handsome, with strong bones, blonde hair and winter-blue eyes.  Mari was dark-haired, slight, with a fine, almost pearly skin that burnt in the mildest sun.  Her face seemed never quite to have lost the crumpled, simian, look of the new born baby.  Her mouth was wide, and her eyes, which might more suitably have been brown to go with her colouring, were of an unusual slaty grey.

This look, though only occasionally manifesting itself, ran in the family as persistently as the more normal one.  There were likely to be one or two examples in any group photograph in the old albums — a grandmother, a great uncle killed in the resistance in the Second World War, somebody unidentified in a skiing party way back in the ‘twenties. 

There was a story to go with the look.  Thirty-odd generations ago a young woman was bathing in a lake when a troll saw her and took her to his underwater cave.  Her handmaiden, hiding among the trees, saw what happened and carried the news to the young woman’s father.  Her mother was dead, and she was his only child.  He at once ran to the place and dived into the lake carrying an inflated goatskin weighted down with his armour and weapons.  Breathing from the bag through a straw he found the cave, armed himself and fought the monster until it fled howling.  Then he brought his daughter safely home.  Nine months later, while her father was away, the young woman bore a son. . . . 

 

TROLL BLOOD will also appear in 

http://smallbeerpress.com/forthcoming/2012/05/15/earth-and-air/ which is available for preorder now 

. . . with several other excellent stories.  For example:

 

TALARIA 

Varro escaped into the desert, as many, many slaves had done before him, whose bones now bleached among the dunes.  Not his, though, or possibly not.  It depended on the star maps. 

Six weeks earlier, as part of the seven-yearly ritual cleansing of the household, he had been switched from his normal job in the stables and told to go and fetch and carry in the library, and there he had found the book.  It was in Latin, a language few of these barbarians had bothered to learn – even Prince Fo’s librarian had little more than a smattering.  He hid it aside, and in snatched moments – the librarian evidently detested the cleansing and kept no discipline – he read it.

It purported to be a geography of Timbuktu and the region around it, compiled from travellers’ accounts.  Of course it was full of nonsense about Sphinxes and Sciopods and such, but here and there were patches of realism, details of trade routes and currency, descriptions of customs that Varro knew well from his five years in the city, and so on.  The trade routes were no use to him.  They were efficiently watched.  The only hope was the desert.  If you got a good enough start the bounty-hunters wouldn’t come up with you before they needed, for their own safety, to turn back.  You could plod on, until the desert killed you.

To his astonishment and terror he found what he wanted, details of a forgotten route across the desert, far shorter than the still-used route around it, to one of Timbuktu’s distant trading partners, Dassun.  Most of the account was sensible, apart from the odd absurdity about a demon-guarded spring.  There were neat little star maps. Varro studied the pages, his throat dry, his heart pumping, his palms chilly with sweat.  He was a saddler by profession.  Five years ago he had come to Timbuktu to explore the possibilities of trading his wares in the city, to the displeasure of the local guild, who had had him arrested on a false accusation of debt.  Not only all his stock but his own person had been sold to pay the imaginary sum, the judge openly pocketing a third of it.  As he had stood in the slave market he had vowed to Mercury, god of travellers, that if the opportunity to escape came he would take it.  This was his first true chance. 

 

SCOPS 

. . . “Look.”

He brought his hand out, moved to the lamp and cradled the fluffy scrap of life between his palms.  It gaped up at them, blinking, apparently unalarmed.  Euphanie craned over and studied it.

“A little scops owl, I think,” she said.  “Where did you find it?”

“In the House of the Wise One.”

“You went there!  And on a new-moon night, almost!  Are you crazy?”

“I don’t know how I got there.  I was drunk, remember.  I’d no idea where I was.  It was blind dark and I just finished throwing up and there was a flash of lightning and I saw this bird.  It was only afterwards that I realised I was in the House, and I’d been leaning on the Bloodstone to throw up.  Look, it’s hungry, what do owls eat?”

“Mice and voles and beetles and things,” she muttered, not thinking about it.  “They swallow them when they’re hunting and cough them up for the babies when they get back to the nest.”

And then, after a pause, and more slowly, but still in a hushed voice, “Yanni, the owl, the scops owl, is the Wise One’s own bird.  I think she brought you to her House.  I think you were meant to find it.  And look.”

She showed him the thing she had been about to throw into the dark when he had come home.  It was a dead mouse, one the cat must have brought in, as it often did. . . .

He waited till Euphanie had lined a small bowl with bits of rag and then settled the owl into it . . . he sharpened a knife and with still trembling fingers skinned and gutted the mouse, filleted out the larger bones and chopped up what was left what was left.  Not good enough, he decided.  He didn’t think he could actually swallow and regurgitate the food, but he spooned some of it into his mouth, chewed it up bones and all, spat the mess into his palm, took a morsel between finger and thumb and eased it into the gaping beak.  The owl simply looked at him, waiting, so with the tip of his little finger he poked the mess as far as he could down the gullet.  Now the owl closed its eyes and its beak and with a look of extraordinary blissful smugness gulped the mess down and gaped again.  When it had eaten all his first chewings he repeated the process.  Euphanie, normally fastidious about everything they ate, watched without protest.

“Do you think it will live?” he asked her.

“If the Wise One sent it,” she said, broodingly.  “Yanni, Nana Procephalos kept an owl.”

“Lots of people do.”

“Not any longer.  Not since . . .Yanni, don’t tell anyone you’ve got it.  If they find out, don’t tell them where you found it.  Say the cat brought it in.”

Yanni was scared. . . .

He was thinking about Nana Procephalos, and what had been done to her.

 

I will post a few more seductive snippets when the book is available.** 

* * *

* As I link this, the July/Aug issue is showing.  Be sure to order the right one.  Or buy both, of course.

** Ditto as the backlist starts being reissued.  Yaaaaaaay.  

KES, 37

 

THIRTY SEVEN

 

Serena took the tin foil off the top of a dish sitting on the counter and slid it into the oven.

“Hummus is good on most things,” I said.  “Including spoons and fingers.”  There was a bowl of apples on the table.  “Certainly including apples.”  I picked one up, groped in my pocket for my jackknife, and cut it up.  I put the four quarters on a plate from the dish drainer, found the trash and dumped the core.  I picked up the spoon, dolloped hummus on the apple pieces, and pushed the plate into the center of the table.  “Hummus is one of my comfort foods,” I said.  I picked up the quarter nearest me and bit into it.  Gus hastily grabbed another one and jammed the whole thing in his mouth.  I could see his face relax as he discovered it was pretty good.  “I once ate hummus on a brownie for a dare,” I said.  “This was not wholly successful but it wasn’t terrible either.”

Serena picked up a quarter and bit into it thoughtfully.  “Hmm,” she said.  She looked at the remaining quarter on the plate.  “Nice texture.”

Mom,” said Gus.  He looked at me.  “Texture is one of her art words.”

“I never waste food,” said Serena.  “But.  Yeah.  I like the rough pale grain of the hummus against the white of the inside of the apple.  And I like the smooth-smooth and the rough-smooth in your mouth, like smooth is the blind touch equivalent of color. . . .”

“Uh oh,” said Gus.  “Multi-media.”

Serena smiled and shook her head.  And ate the rest of her piece of apple.  And picked my sticky jackknife up off the table, cut the last quarter into thirds, and passed them around.

“Multi-media?” I said tentatively.

Gus said, “She does everything.  She draws and paints and does stuff with clay and wire and fabric and wood and stone.  If she’d let me make her a web site she’d sell more of it.”

Serena said, “It’s not that simple.”

“What’s not simple?” said Gus.  “You make something.  We take a photo of it.  You tell me a price.  I put the photo and the price on your web site and then someone buys it.”

“My agent,” said Serena, “back in the callow and credulous days when I had an agent, used to say that you needed to build a recognisable brand.  I’m very bad at this.  I’ve always been very bad at this.  I’m always going off in some new, wrong, uncommercial direction with some new, wrong, uncommercial material.  Which is why my agent fired me.”

“He fired you because he is an asshole,” said Gus.

“Language,” said Serena, but without heat.

Gus turned to me.  “My uncle Broderick says that my mom’s agent stopped representing her because she refused to sleep with him and that he’s the kind of arrogant prick that can’t stand to be turned down.”

Serena’s head snapped up.  “What?” she said.  “Brod said that?  He knows so much about the east coast art scene from the sheriff’s office of a town that makes New Iceland look metropolitan?  When did he tell you this massive load of bu—hogwash?”

“Last time I was there.  He said I was old enough to know the truth and he was tired of you pretending it was because you weren’t good enough.”

“What makes Brod think he knows Caravaggio from Elvis on velvet?  His idea of great art begins with The Oatmeal and ends with xkcd. Oh gods,” said Serena.  She turned to me.  “I’m so sorry.  You must be longing for a nice quiet hamburger at McDonald’s.”

“Are you kidding?  This is the best time I’ve had in months.  Who is Broderick?”

“One of my brothers,” said Serena grimly.  “One of the adopted ones.  Different gene pool.”

“He thinks it’s bad for me to grow up thinking that my mom sacrificed her career to bury herself in the country and raise me.”

“I hope this doesn’t mean he thinks I should have slept with Russ, who is an asshole, and who, I admit, did seem to find more placements for his bedmates than for those of us whom he only knew by portfolio.  Did you ever think I buried myself in the country to raise you?”

“No,” said Gus.  “I thought you buried us in the country because you didn’t have any money.”

“Good boy,” said Serena. 

“But you’d have more money now if you let me build you a web site.”

“No,” said Serena. 

“Why do you have to have a brand if you’re selling one-offs on your very own web site?” I said.

“Hey, Mom, listen to her,” said Gus.  “If she lets me start a web site, I’ll give you a free mow.”

“Better wait and check how big the lawn is first,” I said. 

“It would be totally worth it,” Gus said.  “Want to see some of my mom’s stuff?”

“I’m dying to see some of your mom’s stuff,” I said.  “But I thought asking might be counterproductive.  I need a ride back to the motel.  If I have to walk when your mom throws me out I’ll get lost and then the giant wilderness crickets will eat me.”

Serena snorted.  “Come on.”  She stood up, went back into the hallway, and opened a door.

 

August puppies

 

Mockorange

Happy Birthday Hellhounds! They really are incredibly beautiful. 

Thank you!  As I tell other people regularly—and myself even oftener*—eye candy is one of the things they’re for.            

And have so much leg! I’ve been trying to trace how they have folded it all up in order to lie down successfully in the dog beds and on the sofa. I think an extra hellhound leg dimension must be in play. 

That would explain it.  I have often wondered.  The previous generation, while whippets, and smaller, used to curl up into incredibly tiny little parcels.  Hazel, the smallest of the three and who weighed about nineteen pounds but was slightly above (my) knee height at the shoulder, used to sleep on my chest, and Chaos, the smaller hellhound, fits on my lap, more or less, except I can’t stand the weight for long.

            August seems to be a popular time to have puppies.   Not only hellhounds and bullies, but Holly, of the previous generation, was also an August baby.  I mean puppy. 

Diane in MN

Belated happy birthday to the beautiful boys. Their expressions–especially Chaos, looking a little worried–remind me of Teddy’s. Not Tasha’s–she’s either looking at something with intent or has her eyes closed. Teddy will just LOOK. Must be a boy thing. 

It certainly seems to be more of a boy thing.   Both the hellhounds have it, although in the previous generation, Hazel could worry for England. 

semi-nostalgic** puppy pictures

I absolutely agree with the “semi.” I’m a sucker for a puppy, but would much rather live with a dog!

Fortunately ALL FOUR of those adorable bullies are taken.  I don’t need a third dog!  I couldn’t cope with a third dog!**  And furthermore the puppy thing is only six years ago in this household!  The memory has not faded sufficiently!***

skatinglibrarian

And did you notice that the pink puppy paws go with the pink All Stars? 

Actually I hadn’t.  But you’re right.  Of course.  And I admit I was wearing pink All Stars in their honour.  And the pink coral rose round my neck.   The violently pink knapsack was mere serendipity.

. . . I was given on book on knitting cats which I think will hold me for a while. I understand there is a companion volume for dogs … maybe it can keep you safe from the temptation of darling puppies. 

THEY’RE ALL TAKEN!  I’M GLAD THEY’RE ALL TAKEN!  And . . . yes.

 http://www.amazon.com/Knit-Your-Own-Easy—Follow/dp/1579128742/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345588392&sr=8-1&keywords=best+in+show+knit+your+own+dog

Diane in MN is (shockingly) correct, there is no Great Dane.  Perhaps we should organise a letter-writing campaign toward the second edition?  But it does have quite a good whippet.  Which, some day, when I’ve overcome my automatic abject terror of the mere idea of 2.25 mm needles and rows that go:  cast on 2, knit 3 rows, increase to 20 . . . WHAT?  HOW DO YOU INCREASE SEVENTEEN STITCHES FROM THREE?  No, no, don’t tell me, I’m not ready. 

            Also . . . the whippet’s neck is too short.  It may just be the photo, and the fact that there’s a little knitted collar over the little knitted neck.  But when I get around to attempting this I will be poised to try adding a row to the neck.† 

blondviolinist

More puppy pics, please!!!! 

There will certainly be more puppy pics.  Both southdowner and Olivia have promised to send me some of the ones they took, so it may be a day or two (since they have lives, although, at the moment, Olivia, not so much). ††

I retreated to one of those old fat square objects with actual paper pages that you turn by grasping them individually with your fingers.
It’s a good thing you had one along! (I suppose the Heaviest Knapsack in England is heavy for a reason.) 

ONE?  I had TWO.  And that was even when I thought all half-gazillion ebooks on Astarte would be readily available.  I was also carrying almost 300 pages of SHADOWS print out. . . . 

* * *

* THEY DIDN’T EAT THEIR FRIGBLATTING LUNCH YESTERDAY.  They’ve been better, recently, and it’s not a bad idea if someone else feeds them occasionally just so this tight little hellgoddess/hellhound vortex doesn’t disappear up its own fundament.  I assumed it would be okay—I told the dogminder to leave it down if they didn’t eat it at once.  I didn’t discover the Awful Truth till we got back to the cottage very very late last night/morning.  Peter had told me they had eaten dinner (at the mews), but did not add (till I tackled him this morning) that they’d been dubious about it.  ARRRRRRRRGH.  Meanwhile I was up till an even sillier hour than usual last night because they were NOT going to miss supper, if I had to stay awake till noon.^

            And then today they needed what, by our somewhat unusual standards, was only a mild level of fuss:  One Scene Change, from Bed to Kitchen Floor, and One Plumping Up of Food by Hellgoddess Fingers with Perhaps a Few Extra Crumbs of Chicken for Interest.^^  I was expecting something much more exotic and drawn out.  You still can’t really tell your dogminder to wait five minutes, move the bowls, and then stir up the food with her fingers and sprinkle a little more chicken on top.  THIS IS WHY I NEVER GO ANYWHERE.

            IT’S JUST A VERY GOOD THING HELLHOUNDS ARE CUTE.    

            I did look on rather wistfully yesterday when Olivia put Lavvy’s supper down and it disappeared at almost supernatural speed.  Siiiiigh.  I know she’s a nursing mum and everything but . . . ^^^ 

^ I would have failed to stay awake till noon.  But I might have been curled up in crate with hellhounds by about eight-thirty.  

^^ Since there are upper limits about the NUMBER OF ROASTING CHICKENS I’M WILLING TO BUY, and because I’m not entirely stupid, I now hold back a few crumbs of chicken for these purposes.  I wouldn’t put it past hellhounds to count, but I only started doing this after they began their latest incursion of nonsense so they have only themselves to blame. 

            Like we’re playing by the same rules.

            Sigh. 

^^^ ALL RIGHT.  I’LL SAY IT.  IT WOULD BE VERY NICE TO HAVE A DOG THAT EATS.  SIIIIIIIIIIGH. 

            I was thinking, last night, at mmph o’clock, as we had our Late Hurtle, that this would be the answer to having . . . a dog, rrrrmph, like a bull terrier, like any of the fighting breeds.  I love bullies and Staffies, but I wouldn’t dare have one because I’d be too worried about its bred-in-the-bone fighting instincts:   I imagine I could get my point across about who gets to tell whom to sit and pick its feet up to have its harness put on, but what about all the morons out there with their aggressive off lead dogs?  It’s like I had to drive slower in my little red MGB+ because if you’re driving a red sportscar you’re an automatic malfeasant and the copper will be writing the ticket before he even looks at the radar read out.  If the hellhounds do some snapping and snarling (at a dog that attacked them first) they’re just being testy.  If a bull terrier snaps and snarls it’s a dangerous brute because everyone knows bull terriers are vicious killers. 

            So the obvious answer is hurtles after midnight when there’s no one else around.++

            What a good thing all four of the puppies are ALREADY SOLD.   

+ This was in Maine in the days of 55 mph.  

++ Although even this is not a perfect system, especially Friday and Saturday nights.  We were ambling gently homewards this past Saturday, and a group of three young people who clearly Had the Drink Taken were ambling, also gently, toward us.  I wouldn’t want to risk my life on it, but generally speaking I feel I can tell when a group of drunks is menacing, and these were not.  I was, however, amused, when the one nearest me swerved away from his mates to walk toward me (and hellhounds) with his arms outstretched, saying, “I’m ready!”  “No, you’re not,” I said, not breaking stride, and neglected to add that the paucity of illumination from the streetlights was preserving his dignity from the revelation that he was making overtures to a woman old enough to be his grandmother.  

** I retweeted this earlier^, and it made me laugh and laugh:  @DwightGarner: Hard to walk three dogs without looking as if you’re training for the Doofus Iditarod.

            And speaking of the joys of Twitter, this:  http://exp.lore.com/post/29915445613/dog-topography-from-the-1973-childrens from @brainpicker 

 ^ This is a Twitter verb, for those of you sensible people who stay far, far away from the silliness. 

*** Of course this particular puppy thing included extensive doubled-ended geysering from both hellhounds, which is more traumatic—as well as more expensive—than the standard. 

† Begin as You Mean to Go On.  I have finished two pairs of leg-warmers and am—astonishingly—about to finish my first Secret Project.  I produced the first pair of leg warmers more or less per the recipe, I mean the pattern.  The second pair is adapted to the fact that it’s the wrong gauge wool (and they came out fine).  The first Secret Project is adapted (I hope) to its eventual possessor.  First Cardi is adapted to me, because I want it short not long—except for the sleeves, which I want longer, and (on advice from some wise friend or other) I’m knitting the first few cuff rows on smaller needles so they don’t frelling bell the way they do in the photo.

            I could never cook to a recipe either.  

†† And I suppose it’s JUST CONCEIVABLE I might go up again . . . when more of their eyes are open and walking involves getting the belly off the ground . . . with a spare battery for Pooka so I can listen on the train while I knit.

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