November 25, 2012

Poisonous Toad Day


We were supposed to go to Ashtabula today, to hear one of Peter’s grandsons sing Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance in a rather good local theatre society production.  Ashtabula is pretty much a ratbag to get to from here* and I can’t drive** that far, but one of Peter’s daughters—Frederic’s auntie—was going to provide taxi service, with some trains, planes, buses, Vespas, tandem bicycles and pony traps*** making appearances along the way.

Then it started to rain.  Again.  That would be maybe . . . a week ago.†  It’s been raining a lot.  I might as well spend this autumn having a puppy, working in the garden is not very feasible.††  I think we had one day this week it did not teem with rain.†††  It is therefore pretty soggy around here.  And then it started to rain harder.  Then the wind began.‡

Some time yesterday the radio started announcing local flood warnings.‡‡  By yesterday evening we had a Severe Weather Watch for pretty much the whole of the south of England.  And I started worrying.  By the time I packed up three hellcritters, a computer, a knitting bag and too many books to go back to the cottage, I decided that I’d stay home today.  Feh.  Okay.  Whatever.  I left a note for Peter, who’d gone to bed assuming I’d stay home.  He was still going:  he was continuing on to visit various family in Gloucestershire, I mean Montana.   But if he was stranded and ended up in a hotel overnight, no big.  I have critters I have to get home to.  My dog minder is a sweetheart and I’m sure she’d cope in an emergency—but I would have a nervous breakdown and none of us would be enjoying ourselves.

So I was already staying home, okay?  If some crucial aspect of the maintenance of the universe in its present shape and balance depended on my remaining at home today, this consummation had already been accomplished.

It was therefore TOTALLY UNNECESSARY that Pavlova have diarrhoea too.  It’s been very splendid.  I came downstairs this morning to . . . a crate.  Ahem.  It was not immediately evident that there was anything wrong beyond that Pav had for some reason, after ten days or so straight of perfect control, lost it this morning, so I yelled a lot§, cleaned up, gave her breakfast and put her back in the crate while I had my tea and regained my equanimity.§§  All right, attempted to regain my equanimity.

When I went to put her out for a pee before I took hellhounds for their hurtle, the crate looked . . . more ahem.  Lots more ahem.  Gruesome ahem.§§§  At this point the problem was obvious.  Although I have no idea why we had—and, indeed, still have, although, since she’s not getting anything to eat I don’t know what she’s still-having with—an obvious problem.  But I have thought often today of the poor dog-minder turning up to hurtle everyone according to their various conditions and modes of being and finding . . . because she would have found.  I’d’ve left after the first episode and before the second.

And yes, it’s raining . . .golly is it ever raining.  And the wind is roaring.  I hope the screams of the kitchen door don’t keep me awake.

Someone posted this to the forum:

You know, I have to wonder… if Robin is using her two-person rpg to write KES, then that means *she* may have experienced the same cliffhanger about Sid’s previous owner that she “shared” with us…. 

I am tired and worried and not in a good mood and I recently received a self-righteous email from some twerp who wanted to lambaste me for depriving Cathy of her rightful share of the glory of KES . . .  but I did answer a very similar question on the forum just a few days ago.

          Barring, I think it’s three episodes, last June, KES is all mine.  All.  Mine.  I told you when I first started posting KES that I would tell you when Cathy was involved, and I even posted our Skype chat conversations that produced those episodes.  Because I am a total loose cannon, in the PEGASUS-trilogy-started-out-as-an-AIR-short-story tradition, the original plan for Cathy’s involvement didn’t work, because it was based on Kes getting moved in to Rose Manor a lot sooner in this-world time.  I’m writing her moving-in right now and . . . it won’t appear on the blog before Christmas.‡‡‡

I don’t know how I’ll drop Cathy back into the fray.  We’ve been talking about it.  Because a lot more has happened than we’d figured on—including Sid, although I’d known for a while about the shadow on Kes’ doorstep at the Friendly Campfire, and that she’d be having a dog sooner rather than later—what Cathy can or might want to do as gamesmaster has changed.  I’m thinking we might end up running sort of two streams, Mine and Hers, but we’ll see.

But the point is, I’LL TELL YOU.  I enjoy writing KES, but it’s a lot of work.  Credit where credit is due, okay?  Thanks.

* * *

* Three or four thousand miles is a long way to go to hear The Pirates of Penzance, fond as I am of The Big Four of Gilbert and Sullivan, even if your [step]grandson is singing the male lead.

** . . . or swim

*** We wanted a dog sled too, but they’d all been booked already.

† Only thirty-three days and nights to go.

†† It’s very convenient that you’re not supposed to walk on your ground when it’s very wet.  It destroys the soil structure.  Heh heh heh heh heh.^

^ Planks?  Yes, we did planks back at the old house+.  We had room to store planks back at the old house.  Capiche?

+ You put a plank down and stand on that, and it distributes the load so you don’t Destroy the Soil Structure.

††† Thirty-four days then.  Keep hammering.

‡ Yesterday morning I was drinking my tea by the Aga while the kitchen door was possessed by demons.  It was rather exciting.  It dragged at its hinges, it danced, it leaped, it moaned, it shrieked.  I discovered the hellhounds out of their crate, pressed cowering against the puppy gate^ at the opposite end of the kitchen and trembling.

^ I am so glad I decided that puppy gates were helpful containment aids for big dogs too.

‡‡ They were a day late as far as I was concerned.  Wolfgang and I had some quite interesting bow-waves on our way to the abbey Wednesday night.

‡‡‡ Christmas is much too soon.  Just by the way.

§ In a general, nonspecific sort of way, so as not to alarm any hellcritters.  That wayward kitchen door is disturbing enough.

§§ My what?  Say that again, I didn’t catch it the first time.

§§§ And no, she hadn’t made the faintest I-need-to-go-out whimper.  She has meltdown tantrums about ACTION.  I WANT ACTION AND I WANT IT NOW^ but I haven’t learnt to read needing-to-go-out signs.^^

^ Which is why I never got round to opening the bottle of therapeutic cheap fizz I put in the refrigerator earlier:  I don’t know if we’re suffering a Developmental Stage or she’s just ratbagging because she’s hungry or queasy but she’s spent most of the day being Quelled, which is to say on a pillow at my feet being STOOD ON.  She’s really outgrowing my lap big time and furthermore I have come to dislike typing one-handed.  She does acknowledge my right to Quell, so it’s (mostly) not a wrestling match, but I have backache and cramps in both calves from using her as a footstool gently.

^^ You don’t want to train a puppy to ask or it’ll ask every time it’s bored or lonely.  Ask me how I know this.

How do I get myself into these things?


I stopped singing with the Muddlehampton Choir months ago.  I have stamina problems at the best of times because of the ME, and the combination of their marathon two and a half hour rehearsals with the LACK OF A LOO so this postmenopausal woman can’t afford to sip water during practice eventually meant that while I never formally declared I was giving it up, I . . . stopped going.  I can’t remember how much of this I’ve told the blog.  I’d come home not merely exhausted but hoarse, wheezing, coughing and cracking.  Nadia said that I had to drink water, and that I should experiment with when I could start drinking water and still make it home afterward.  Ahem. These experiments were not a resounding [you should forgive the term] success.  Ahem.

I was still dithering and not admitting that I’d quit when I met up with the Muddles’ membership secretary on the street in New Arcadia last summer who asked me hopefully if I was coming back some time.  I moaned about the ME, the lack of a loo* . . . and also about the wheezing, coughing and cracking.  She frowned thoughtfully and said that she’d wondered herself about the actual air in that church:  it’s an old church, and could easily have weird motes and lung-inimical molecules floating around in it.

Oh great.

Well, for whatever assortment of reasons, good, bad and, er, muddled, I’ve slid out of the Muddles.  I think about them from time to time.  I’ve had a fairly cursory look around for other local non-audition choirs with shorter rehearsal times and on-site loos in newer, cleaner buildings, but I pretty much already know what’s available from the trolling I did when I joined the Muddles.  The question of the choir I don’t belong to however has become rather embarrassing again with starting up voice lessons with Nadia:  yes, I take voice lessons for fun, because I enjoy it, but my excuse, such as it is, is that I want to sing in a choir.  I want to sing in a choir to a standard that will make them reasonably glad to have me there—hence voice lessons.  Taking solo voice lessons however you are inevitably singing solo pieces, and Nadia has this entertaining habit of saying ‘Now, if you were singing this to an audience, you would want to . . .’  We both know it’s not going to happen.  And I’m not sure but what singing is another one of those things—for me, that is, solitary crank that I (mostly) am—which I’m supposed to do with other people, like bell-ringing, and finding a church community to belong to**.

Well, there’s a lot of other stuff going on*** and I will worry about the choir thing later.  Meanwhile I am still on the Muddlehampton mailing list.  The beginning of this week there was an all-points email bulletin from our fearless leader, saying that the Muddles were going to be singing the Cantique de Jean Racine for the funeral of a retired Muddle member this coming Monday, at 12:30 in the afternoon, that he was short available singers, and any of us deactivateds who might be able to do it he would be very grateful.

I almost didn’t answer.  Third-rate sopranos are two-a-penny and my acquaintance with the Cantique is not close.  When he said anybody he didn’t mean me.  But I know from bell-ringing what a ratbag trying to scrape together enough bodies for an in-office-hours event is . . . so I did write back, adding that if he wanted me to sing I would need to come to practise.  He answered by return electron saying that he was, in fact, a tiny bit short of sopranos, and they’d be glad to see me on Thursday.

I had way too good a time, singing with the Muddles last night.†  We practised the Cantique first, so us fillers-in could leave afterward.  I was sitting next to Cindy, fearless-leader Gordon’s wife, and as we all put the Cantique down, I said to her, so, what else are you singing?  And she said, oh, stay a little longer, and sing with us.  So I did.  Arrrgh.  A bang-up arrangement of When the Saints Go Marching in and Bruckner’s Locus Iste which is one of my favourite things ever and it was like foie gras and champagne on a platter and I’m all AAAAAUGH.  The rehearsals are still too long, the church is freezing cold and full of Malign Spores, and there is NO LOO.

I did leave at the tea break, but first I went (muttering, as above) up to Gordon to ask about Monday, and the soprano section.  I was still clutching my borrowed copy of the Cantique, because I was going to go home and cram.  Gordon had been doing head-counts at the beginning of practise, and I’d had an uneasy feeling that the sopranos for Monday were, indeed just a tiny bit short.  Just.  A tiny.

I said to Gordon:  There are three of us, right?

He looked at me with the expression of the outflanked general about to earn a posthumous Victoria Cross, and nodded.  But I’m going to call in some favours, he added, bracingly.

Three.  Sopranos.  Including me.  One of them is a perfectly adequate amateur choir soprano.  One of them is a very nice woman who makes virtually no noise audible to the human ear.   I used to sit next to her. There is the occasional distant hum from her general direction, but that might also be the ancient church wiring.

And me.


How do I get myself into these things?

* * *

* It confounds me that the average age of a Muddle is probably the high side of fifty . . . so here are all these menopausal and postmenopausal women and I’m the only one who has trouble keeping her legs crossed for two and a half hours?

** Probably not including monks.

*** Gemma, Niall and I were handbelling tonight, and Gemma was talking about the quarter peal she and I had rung at the abbey last Sunday.  I said that I’d thought it was a bit naughty of them to pitch both of us in together:  yes I’ve rung several quarters of bob minor, but none recently, and I’m a terrible abbey ringer, and the likelihood of my being able to hold my line against someone bumbling through their first quarter^ is not good.  Someone ringing their first quarter should have a good STABLE band around them.  Okay, I worry too much, and we got the quarter, which is all that matters.  And then Gemma, who unlike me picks up methods easily, said cheerfully that she thought that they’d put us in together because they were anxious to bring us on toward strengthening the abbey band.   EEEEEEEEEP.  I think she said this to be encouraging, but it makes me want to run away to sea.

Also, supposing you read the footnotes where they appear in the text, keep reading.  I am running away to sea twice.

^ Remember that Gemma has been successfully shoved into all kinds of fancy methods I haven’t a prayer of ringing, but at the expense of some of the basics.  Like bob minor.  This does mean she’s likelier than a beginner to bumble successfully through a method she’s had insufficient practise on, but it still seems to me a little unfair.

† Their new musical director, whom I had not met before, gives us warm-ups, which Ravenel never did:  he expected us to arrive ready to go.  This new chap, furthermore, gives us warm-ups I have written down in my notebook from lessons with Nadia.  So he is clearly a Person Who Knows.

KES, 54*




“Hello,” said Jim.  “This is Jim Cuthburt.”  Gibber.  “Yes, I’m the vet.”

The volume at the other end of the line increased.  Jim listened for a few seconds, and then held the phone away from his ear for a few more seconds.  The blood was thudding in my own ears so hard I couldn’t hear any of what was being said.  Jim put the phone back against his ear again and said, “I see.”  Pause.  “I see.”  He glanced at me but I couldn’t read his expression.  “The woman who brought her in —”

Gibber gibber gibber GIBBER.

            “Very well,” said Jim.  “I’ll tell her.”  Gibber.  “Thank you.  You’ve been very informative.  I appreciate your being so—er—explicit.”  He ended the connection and handed the phone back to Callie.

I wanted to say for pity’s sake tell me but my mouth seemed to be glued together.

“Well,” said Jim, looking at Sid.  “Your previous owner seems to have found you a bit of a challenge.”

Previous? I thought, but my mouth still wasn’t working.

Jim looked at me.  “You have a dog, if you want her,” he said.

I breathed a very long tremulous sigh.  Very long.  I didn’t think my lungs were that big.

Sid, as if she’d been waiting the outcome of the phone call also, and assumed that ‘you have a dog if you want her’—or possibly my sigh—was sufficient, stretched out her front legs and lay down.  She put her head on her paws.

“But I did tell Mrs Tornado that I would pass on what she said.  Roughly speaking she—er—seems to feel that the Duchess —”

Duchess? I thought.  No wonder Sid hadn’t been happy.  There were duchess dogs out there.  Sid wasn’t one of them.

“Is—er—incorrigible.  ‘Devil dog’ is—er—the phrase she used.”

I looked at Sid, who had shut her eyes.  She looked like a dog that needed a lot of food and brushing and attention.  She did not look incorrigible.

“It is possible that her—incorrigibility—may return as she regains condition.  But . . .”

I finally got my jaws unstuck.  “I’ll take my chances,” I said.  “It’s also possible that Mrs Tornado and Sid just didn’t get along.”  Duchess I thought.

“Yes,” said Jim.  “That occurred to me also.  And it is also true that a dog who has been through something like the last few months may not be the same dog afterward that she was before.  And adolescence in dogs can be as trying as it sometimes is in humans.  Your Sid will turn two in August.”

“Did she have any specifics about my devil dog?”

“Well, she broke her leg jumping out a second-story window.  Apparently she spent the first year and a half of her life trying to run away—and finally succeeded four months ago.  Mrs Tornado lives in Ohio, so your Sid certainly put some miles in before she decided—er—to settle in New Iceland.  The—er—Duchess was also—er—very resistant to even basic training.”

I thought of holding a piece of cheese in front of her nose and saying ‘sit’.  Sid, just by the way, was a dumb name for a dog, because she’s not going to be able to differentiate ‘Sid’ from ‘sit’.  Fine.  I’d think of something else for ‘sit’.   ‘Flump,’ possibly.  Sid was her name.  Like she was my dog.   If she had resisted learning ‘sit’ from Mrs Tornado she had nothing to unlearn.

“But Mrs T also mentioned that her mother is a Saluki, and Salukis are often—er—resistant to standard training methods.”

Oh, Salukis.  There was a whole fairy-tale mythology about Salukis, which are possibly the oldest breed of domestic dog.  I had been madly in love with the Saluki myth while I was a teenager, and being regularly bitten by the Ghastly Chan Two backstage at dog shows.  “Who—or what—is her dad?”

“Unknown.  Her mother escaped for a night when, as it turned out, she was in season.  Which might suggest that Sid’s wanderlust is in the genes, except that her mother came home again the next day, and proved to have been in season by being pregnant.  Her mother is a championship Saluki, and while I have no excuse for this hypothesis, except that I would like to see Sid in a happy home, it is possible that Mrs Tornado liked the idea of having a cheap half-champion puppy with a mystery father better than she liked the reality.”

I have a dog, I thought.  I have a dog.  I felt my face blooming in an enormous smile.  I looked at Jim and discovered that he was looking at me.  He smiled back.

“Whatever,” I said.  “I have a dog.”  The words tasted like champagne and chocolate in my mouth.  I stood up and Sid stood up at once too.  Jim got more slowly to his feet.  “Oof,” he said.  “Now that her future is assured, shall we see if she’ll come and stand on the scales?”

* * *

Happy Thanksgiving.  As a hellgoddess, I am a wuss.

Triumph. Itty bitty teeny weeny . . . triumph.


It hadn’t been a total toad of a day before bell practise, despite getting to bed later than later than later than later . . . because the point about Remedial Holding, which you wouldn’t need to be doing if you hadn’t taken your eye off the ball/puppy, is that you’d better be absotively flangbastedly sure that the hellterror in question has, in fact, yielded the point and isn’t waiting to spring back into sedition and anarchy the moment you put her back in her crate.

This took a while.

Today when I flomped her on my lap again* keeping her there was somewhat less of a Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant situation than it had been yesterday and I thought, first/rough draft is such a nightmarishly slow process anyway typing with one hand probably won’t slow me down that much.**  And I don’t think it did.  The hellterror erupted only rarely and broke my concentration no oftener than I break it myself anyway.***

So I went off to tower practise at the abbey tonight feeling that I had almost earned an hour and a half away from my computer.  This faint glow of positivity had, of course, departed for parts unknown by the time I got to the top of those consarning stairs and fell out into that vast gloomy ballroom of a ringing chamber. †  Besides, I was convinced that there would have to be a backlash from Sunday’s success and tonight I would probably ring with the grace of a hellterror presented with knife and fork.††

And then . . . we had a visitor who is trying to learn Grandsire Triples††† and Scary Man let me ring inside too, which was pretty foolhardy of him . . . and nobody died.  I really am getting the hang of this, I thought in astonishment.  No, no, don’t even think that, the Bad Fairies will hear you.  But one of the crucial stages of learning a method is being able to keep ringing the freller when someone else is going wrong, and learners are always with us.‡

Various other things were rung and I got some knitting done.‡‡  And then Scary Man called for bob major.  I put my knitting down.  Hopefully.  This was the method we had the half-day seminar in a little while ago.  That I was labouring under the delusion I had learnt a bit of.  Robin, you take the two, said Scary Man.  Excellent:  the two is inside (ringing the method), but it’s next to the treble (the first bell, ringing simple plain hunt).  I’m still totally ropesight challenged in the abbey because of this ringing queue thing instead of a ringing circle where you can see everybody and therefore have half a prayer of seeing the bell you should be striking after.  Learning a method usually includes learning when you pass the treble, which doesn’t change when the rest of the bells get mixed up, so if you’re ringing in a queue, and you’re lucky enough to be on the two, you can ignore the treble on your right and just keep looking left.‡‡‡

We got through this, despite the fact that the eight-bell rhythm is still dangerous alien territory for me.  And then Scary Man swapped people around, called for bob major again, put a learner on the two . . . and put me on the three.  Rope sight ahoy.  YEEEEEEEEEP.

And the learner on the two went wrong.

And the ringer on the five had a senior moment and also went wrong.

I did it.  I did not go wrong.§  I am learning both the eight-bell rhythm§§ AND ROPESIGHT AT THE ABBEY.§§§

* * *

* Which she only fits on any more when she’s cooperating, which makes the remedial aspect presently rather thrilling.  I have picked up the intensity of our lessons in down, since when we get to the stage where she won’t fit on my lap any more even if I wodge her together first, like trussing a turkey for a too-small pan, we will need the long down available.  The Long Down saved my sanity with Holly of the previous generation, who thought ricocheting off the walls was perfectly reasonable behaviour.  If I’d known the word ‘hucklebutting’ I would have applied it to Holly.  Whippets hucklebutt too.  Some whippets.  Hazel was much too well-bred^ and Rowan didn’t believe in fun.^^

^ Although she went like hellblazers outdoors.

^^ Much too undignified.

** Handwriting on paper sounds like the obvious answer but it somehow isn’t.  I seem to do more paper-adjusting with my left hand than I realised.

*** Isn’t it time for another cup of tea?  What is that funny noise?^  What is that funny smell?^^  My nose itches.  There’s a smudge on my glasses.  And salad dressing on the monitor.  Also, the world is going to end.  In about half an hour.  THIS IS A STUPID STORY.  WHAT WAS I THINKING OF, TRYING TO TELL THIS REALLY STUPID STORY?^^^

^ Is it vampires?

^^ Please let it not be a dead rodent under the floor.

^^^ Further break for hilarity when Pavlova starts furiously wagging her tail in her sleep.

† All 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 of them, especially the final flight, which is in a spiral tighter than your average wine-opening corkscrew and the treads are too small for my gigantic feet.  Not to mention the strange angles they have subsided into^ and the interesting surface wear produced by several hundred years of toiling ringers.   I’ve been ringing there pretty regularly for what, nearly ten months?  And I still can’t climb those frelling stairs.  It’s worse going down, when I seem to be stepping on both of my own feet at the same time.

^ The stair treads, not my feet.  Although my feet maintain some pretty strange angles too, especially when there’s a hellterror hanging off one of them.

†† She’d probably eat them.

††† I feel for her.

‡ Or they’d better be, or bell ringing is in big trouble.

‡‡ Halfway through first leg of fourth pair of leg warmers.

‡‡‡ Equally good from a ropesight angle is the last bell, but the eighth bell at the abbey, even if we’re ringing round the front, is going to be heavier than I can make dodge neatly, not because in an absolute sense I can’t handle a medium-sized bell, but because I’m a frelling clumsy ringer who gets worse when she’s anxious, and it shows more on a bigger bell.

§  Well, not very. When things got a little confused I was certainly not striking with brilliant accuracy where I should have been, but I did keep going in the right direction, and when things settled down again I popped back onto the line pretty much where I should be.

§§ Let me just add here that bob major is BY FAR THE EASIEST EIGHT BELL METHOD not least because the basic pattern is REALLY STRAIGHTFORWARD so the old ringer’s ‘oh it’s JUST LIKE bob doubles/minor/triples except THERE’S ANOTHER WORKING BELL’ thing that with most methods will make the learner fall down in hysterical laughter and then go off in spasms of despair, has some validity here.

§§§ Which is not the same thing as saying I will ring well next time, but it’s a start.

Dogs. Whose idea was dogs?


I have HOW many of these creatures?  I did what recently (on the subject of creature accumulation)?  WHY?  Why didn’t someone STOP ME?

I’m one-handed again and CRANKY, which makes two of us:  little miss madam is extremely cranky.  Sigh.  This shouldn’t have crept up on me but it did.  Puppies have good days and bad days just like absent-minded human dog-food-buyers do and there’s been a lot going on.*  But it didn’t occur to me till yesterday that eruptions from madam’s crate were on the increase.  She’s got through the night clean pretty consistently for a while now so for example it has seemed to me reasonable that she gets a little excitable in the mornings, and new people** and new experiences can be a little overstimulating*** . . . but I think what has tipped furry adorableness incarnate into ravening red-eyed hellterror is that she and Chaos positively have a relationship lately—that was unmistakably playing going on in the sitting room at the mews† the last few days.  Even Darkness emerges from the—er—darkness of the bigdog bed occasionally and views the proceedings.  Dubiously, but (I choose to believe) with a slow increase of resignation to the inevitable.  All four of us were on the sofa for about half an hour the other night.  Pavlova was being suppressed like crazy†† but when she briefly came in contact with one of Darkness’ feet he did NOT leap off the sofa and run away.  This is major progress.

But I think bonding with the hellhounds, with whom she is obsessed, has given the hellterror airs above her station.  We are therefore into our fourth hour of Remedial Holding today and I am VERY BORED with being one-handed.†††  I am GETTING A LOT OF READING DONE.

However the best part of a day that has needed a best part?‡  FIRST BRUSSELS SPROUTS OF THE SEASON.  No, really.  I love Brussels sprouts.  I’m also a poor sad thing with no life and too many dogs, but I absolutely do love Brussels sprouts.

* * *

* The frelling synod voted against women bishops?  AGAIN?  Last time, of course, I didn’t care, beyond the distant barely-relevant fact that the C of E was thus reconfirmed as nowhere, barring bell towers, I’d ever find myself.  But . . . this makes me feel like I’m still living in the 1950s or so.  I really don’t want to live in the 50s, you know, again.  June Cleaver gave me the creeps even at the time.  ARRRRRGH.  I realise that everyone is saying that the change has to come eventually but . . . except that the last two and a bit months have not been the most fabulous time I’ve ever had, and I’ll be very grateful when the general level of tempest-tossing and major destruction of self and belief systems begin to subside because I am a little old^ for this level of upheaval, I could almost wish that I hadn’t had my conversion-zapping till tomorrow or next week, after the women-bishops question was done and dusted for another five years.^^

^ See: first-run memories of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.  I’d hate to think that’s where my pearl fetish started.  No, no!  Audrey Hepburn!  Ingrid Bergman!  Even Grace Kelly!  Not Barbara Billingsley!

^^ FIVE YEARS!  FIVE YEARS!  We have to hang around getting older for another five years before they can put it to the vote again!!

** It continues to confuzzle me, the reactions Pav and I receive.  It still amazes me, the besotted owner, the number of people—have I mentioned recently that the whole ‘Britain is a nation of animal-lovers’ is a load of old cobblers?—who dont want to talk to my puppy.  But of the ones that register her, and (mostly) stop to say hello, the majority are the generic ooooh-puppy sort, but at either end of reaction range, and about evenly balanced, are the Do you know what you’re getting into, those dogs are savage brutes^, which Olivia and Southdowner both did warn me about, and the They are the most beautiful dog and so charming.  I had one woman telling me how intelligent they are and while you have heard me on the subject of ‘intelligence’ as opposed to ‘easy trainability from the wanting-it-all-their-own-way human standpoint’, still, bullies are not the most trainable, and I wondered if perhaps she was very short-sighted and had confused Pavlova with a border collie.

^ I feel like I’m being accused of not doing my homework.  I wasn’t going to have a bullie because it’s not a breed you want to make a mistake about.  That was before I met Southdowner—and her bullies.  But do I look stupid?  No, don’t answer that.^

^ I’ve had the dangerous-dog savage-brute reaction several times in various bell towers when I’ve told people about her . . . where, okay, I do look stupid.+

+ Trying to readjust to the energy drain of a voice lesson in the afternoon and still go ringing that night IS GOING TO TAKE SOME DOING.  I was very stupid last night at Colin’s . . . in front of two visitors, siiiiiiiigh, one of whom has recently moved back to this area and rings at the abbey, where they are all over her because she is very good, and the other one who hasn’t rung in ten years but had remembered her Cambridge minor by the end of the evening as well as successfully turning in South Desuetude’s heavy, bad-tempered tenor for a touch of bob minor.  SIIIIIIIIGH.  Maybe I should hire out as a Remedial Canine Holding Agent in the evenings, which would keep me out of bell towers.

The voice lesson went pretty well, within the limits of what Nadia can do with me.  I AM SO HAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPY to be singing again.  She had her arms full of baby this week, so rather than playing the piano she sang with me to give me a little support—also because it’s very easy to slide off pitch with frelling Purcell, and she said if I got the tone and the ‘lift’ right the pitch would come, but the piano would just keep reminding me of what I was doing wrong.  I really like singing with Nadia, despite the fact that she has a voice and I don’t, and even with her barely humming along this is obvious, because I am a masochi—because I still have it in mind that eventually I will find other people to sing with.  But it’ll be good next week when the baby has done a little studying and can join in on the bass line.

*** I went to evensong again tonight.  I went alone.  Unless you count the knitting.

† I’d have to put up a mezzanine at the cottage to create equivalent floor space.  The walls are tall—taller than average—but they’re not that tall.  And I don’t feel like spending the rest of my life walking on all fours because of headroom problems.

†† I could get tendonitis.

††† Even though Peter nobly suppresses her so I can go have a pee occasionally.  And then make more tea, of course.

‡ Which has signally failed to include the weather.  Torrential rain at least means bottoms of hiking boots get REALLY CLEAN.^


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