May 26, 2013

KES, 80




A third rose-bush.  “Kes,” said Mike.  “You sad hopeless urban southerner.  It won’t matter that they won’t make it through their first winter here, because the deer will have eaten them to toothpicks already.  When your sister comes to visit, make her take them back with her.”

I was staring at my rose-bushes.  What?  That explained the dragon’s-jawbone silhouette but it didn’t explain anything else.  “I don’t have a sister,” I said.

“Your best friend, then,” said Mike, and the thought of Norah, several hours of intense driving away, went through me so sharply I grunted like he’d hit me.  I was used to having her a few minutes away on the subway.  ‘Few’ being somewhat mutable, depending on what kind of a mood the subway was in.

“There are roses growing up the back of the house,” I said.  “It’s called Rose Manor.”

“Sure,” said Mike.  “They could call it anything they liked a hundred years ago when they had full-time gardeners to dig trenches every autumn for the roses and cover ’em up with straw and burlap and dirt.  And maintain the rabbit fences.  And enough hunters and private game wardens to keep the deer population down.  The roses you still got are the mutant briars that even our climate and wildlife can’t kill, and they keep their strength up by eating small children and dogs.  Sid’s okay, but if you adopt a Chihuahua don’t let it out alone.”

He disappeared for a moment, back into the van, there was a thumping and scraping noise and he reappeared carrying a fourth rose-bush.

“How many are there?” I burst out before I thought.

He gave me a look.

I rubbed a hand over my messy hair.  “I don’t know, okay?” I said irritably.  “I admit that my last few days in Manhattan are a bit of blur, but I thought the only rose-bush I brought was the one that was already out sitting in the driveway when you arrived.  That I had put on the van last.  Which has been sitting on the porch of the Friendly Campfire the last two days.”

He put the fourth one down and went back into the van.

“The suspense is killing me,” I muttered.

Mike was heroically carrying two pots this time.  “Last one,” he said, plopping the sixth down next to her five friends.  “Yeah.  Okay.  I was a little off the wall after my divorce, and she’s the one moved out of town.”

I didn’t say anything.  How could I say that I was sure I hadn’t brought five extra rose-bushes because hauling the first one from the roof garden to the parking garage had been a traumatic enough event to have some profile even in my dangerously unreliable memory?  Not to mention wishing to avoid pissing off Mr Diamond-Studded Shoelaces.  Oh, bleep.  He could hardly not notice six missing rose-bushes. . . .

I frowned.  The five dragon’s-jawbone roses’ pots didn’t match the Tiffany knock-off pot my known felony was in—they were smaller, for one thing.  I didn’t think even Mike could carry two of the first one.  I knelt beside the nearest of the new ones.  These roses hadn’t been pruned back quite as hard as mine—er—as the first one—which was perhaps further evidence that they were from a different source.  So maybe Darla and Mr Diamond-Studded Shoelaces’ personal assistant weren’t going to be vying for the pleasure of dismembering me.  (However since Darla was a one-woman vigilante force this was less reassuring than it might have been.)  I concentrated on the flower pot.  Granted my experience of ordinary flower pots was limited, but my mother had geraniums and begonias and the occasional pot of herbs on her windowsills, and Norah had a flower-pot-stuffed balcony—although she wouldn’t appreciate a donation of six rose-bushes if I followed Mike’s advice.  (And the gardener in charge of the garden on her building’s roof was one of the biggest thugs on the planet.  All he needed was a staff made of a dragon’s jawbone and he would be attempting to take over the universe.  And he didn’t like roses.)

I couldn’t even guess what this pot was made of.  It wasn’t plastic or metal or wood.  It wasn’t terracotta and it wasn’t fiberglass.  What else did they make flower pots out of?  It was slightly rough to the touch and slightly—weirdly—warm, although that had to be something to do with sitting next to something hot in the van.  (I paused here to pray to the transport gods that if the van was going to blow up, it wouldn’t do so till JoJo got it back to Manhattan, where Mr Screaming Skull could deal with it.)  And it was too small for a self-respecting rose-bush to live in for long.

“Is it all coming back to you?” said Mike, grinning again.

“No,” I said.

Placeholder of the continuing bad news variety



The hellhounds have stopped eating again.

I had another four-hours-of-sleep night last night.

The vets had only had some of the lab results back today, not including campylobacter, which is the miscreant both the senior vets like the best.*

It is now the weekend.  It is, furthermore, another bank holiday weekend.  This means we won’t have the rest of the info till Tuesday earliest, and since stuff always backs up over a long weekend, Wednesday is likelier.  Or Thursday.

You’ll forgive me if I don’t feel like writing a proper blog entry tonight.

* * *

* Note that I don’t think it will be this easy.  We tested for all the usual suspects six years ago and came up negative.  And then I took them off cereals, which improved the situation sufficiently that it was possible to believe that what remained was a combination of the notorious sighthound bad attitude toward food and the damage done to their guts from having spent most of their first two years eating something they were fearfully allergic to.



Nothing from the vets yet.  If I haven’t heard from them by tomorrow afternoon I’ll go round and do the Haggard and Hysterical Hellgoddess* at them, just to make sure (a) they haven’t forgotten to tell me because they’re having a busy day and (b) if they haven’t heard from the lab maybe they should do a modicum of checking up.  They could say that their client is a haggard and hysterical hellgoddess** and they’d be grateful to have something to tell her.  That noise in the background, they could say, is the client under discussion gnawing holes in the clinic’s window frames.

Hellhounds have eaten four and three-quarters meals in a row—NOT WITHOUT EFFORT FROM YOURS TRULY—and there was a certain falling-off from Chaos on the subject of dinner, but I am hoping this is just a blip and not the return of a recent much-feared trend.  Crap production is not finest kind either—not that they ever produce finest-kind but what’s happening now is a trifle ominous. . . .  I really hope there are lab results tomorrow and that they are, while probably guaranteed non-definitive, at least suggestive.

Hellterror seems as normal—although ‘normal’ applied to a bullie is a bit of a non sequitur—aside from the continued manifestation of hellhound-type un-finest-kind crap.  I’m telling myself that this is, in its perverse way, a good thing.  It proves there’s something wrong that we can seek till we find.

And I’m basically so tired I could die.  I did finally get some sleep last night, but not enough—‘enough’ at this point would probably be into triple figures—and we didn’t have lunch till teatime*** partly because I let myself lie down for a moment† after breakfast and someone stole two hours like picking my pocket.

Not that the day has been a day anyone would want more of than they could help.  It’s the 23rd of May in the south of England and we’re having sleet and hailOkay, you can get hail any time†† but SLEET?  Sleet on the 23rd of May in the south of England is rude.

I have indeed spent most of the day playing stupid word games on Astarte.  This is all Rima’s fault.  Everybody is cooler than I am so I tend to ask visitors what they’re reading/doing/watching/playing.  She has an iPad too††† so I didn’t even have the minor protection of noncompatibility.  She got me started on Moxie, which I’m not too bad at‡, and What’s My Word? which I’m terrible at, and I discovered Word Abacus for myself which I’m reasonably good at except for the fact that it keeps frelling crashing.  This is less annoying than it might be since it tends to crash at about the point that I’m thinking that I’m tired of being dragged up through the levels just because I have a reasonably good vocabulary and keep failing to fail.  YAAY.  I’VE JUST CRASHED.  I GET TO START OVER.  I am so not a games player.  But the constant pop-up windows asking if I want to SHARE WITH MY FRIENDS make me nuts.  NO.  I’M TIRED AND STRESSED AND BRAIN DEAD AND WASTING TIME.  THE LAST THING I WANT TO DO IS WASTE MY FRIENDS’ TIME TOO.

But the thing that really freaks me out is that Abacus says Hi hellgoddess! every time I open it up again.  Where did it pick hellgoddess up from?  I sure didn’t invite it to share that particular joke.  I do use ‘hellgoddess’ when some blasted impertinent site‡‡ wants a user name other than my email address and I actually am planning on hanging around long enough that it’s not an unreasonable request. ‡‡‡  But some frelling games company?  Arrrgh.  The permeability of the loose information out there in internet land seriously squicks me out.

* * *

* with optional thunderbolts.  Hunderbolts.  Hmmm.  I think I like hunderbolts.  That would be what a hellgoddess hurls.

** with hunderbolts

*** We literally fell through the door at the mews as Peter was making himself a cuppa, the ginger biscuits already out on the table.

† Note to self:  when very tired, don’t get dressed in the bedroom.  Where the bed is.

†† As any gardener who has ever opened their private garden to the public the day after a major hailstorm will have no trouble remembering forever.  You’re scheduled in the Yellow Book^, it’s not like you can say, tra la la, I’ve changed my mind.  Delphiniums?  What delphiniums?  Roses put up with being thrashed better than most so we had some garden left.  It’s still horrible.

^  There are plenty of other private-garden-openings for charity, but this is the big famous organization.  We used to open at the old house.

††† Although her cover for hers is orange.  With mine in blistering pink on the same table it was kind of War of the Kindergarten Colours.  Anybody out there with a lime-green cover for their iPad?  Come play with us.

‡ Also I like it when it says twaddle which is a trifle counterproductive since this costs you thirty points.

‡‡ I was trying to buy cheap fleece blankets on line tonight—during breaks from Word Abacus—because with three hellcritters I find I run out of bedding as soon as there is any extra strain on the system—a hellterror bitch in heat, say.^  This frelling site wanted my birth date ‘for added security’.  What the bleep does that mean?  They lost that sale.  Now I need an alternative source of cheap fleece blankets for critter bedding.

^ Ref Diane in MN’s comment on the forum, you have Great Danes.  I’m not expecting to need to put pants on something that weighs less than thirty pounds and presumably has appropriately teeny ooze-producing female parts.  Ask me next autumn or thereabouts when she comes in season again.  At the moment I couldn’t keep pants on her if I wanted to:  she’d chew them off.  She’s still in a collar rather than a harness because she still doesn’t sit particularly still for having same put on, and I therefore leave it on all day (it comes off after the last brief night hurtle).  She can’t reach the collar.  She’d chew the body band of a harness off with great dispatch.  Which is another reason—aside from her present interesting condition—that I’m not pursuing my experiments in having her clipped into the seatbelt next to the hellhound box in Wolfgang.

‡‡‡ Ravelry, for example, as some of you know.  Also the Rowan yarn site.  This for some reason amuses me.  Probably because Rowan is so earnestly fashionable.  Did I tell you that my Big Wool arrived, for my heart jumper?  It is very pretty.  And the yarn is deliciously soft.  If any of you are considering a similar purchase.


Critter Update


And to add to the joy of nations* Pav has done a u-turn and decided to finish being on heat after all.  And is dripping thick gooey blood all over the landscape. ** What a good thing she stays in the kitchen at the cottage—on the lino.  And for the moment there is No Rioting at the mews.  For more than merely the sake of the carpets.  Rioting might create excitement.  At the moment while hellhounds are VERY VERY INDEED VERY interested in her rear end, they’ve always been far too interested in her rear end and this interest doesn’t seem to have mutated into anything alarming.  Yet.  There has been no singing in the small hours*** and no manifestations of Mr Hyde from either of my Dr Jekylls.  Nor are Pav and I being followed around town by drooling swains . . . yet.†

The good news is . . . hellhounds have eaten three meals in a row.††  This is a first in some time.†††  Last two days there has been some really epic melting down by the hellgoddess—not that it does any good.‡  It’s still not like three meals in a row means we’re headed back up out of the pit of despond and self-starvation again—the reason this bout has been so appalling is because every time they look they are coming out of it they slide back in again—but I will take what I can get.

The bad news is that I had (maybe) four hours of sleep last night, mainly due to Night Horrors‡‡ but also because Pav took exception to the herd of rhinoceroses trotting up the cul de sac at about seven a.m.‡‡‡ and barked her frelling little head off.  SHUT. UP.  I COULD USE A NICE FURRY HEARTHRUG YOU KNOW.  For someone with ME my adrenals can sure spike it out there, given the (unfortunate) chance.

So . . . we’re waiting for the first lot of lab results.  I took several unpleasant little bags and bottles to the clinic on Monday and ranted at length to one of the two senior vets.  Who listened.§  I was told they should hear something by the end of this week, but I’m resigned to the almost certain fact that this is only the beginning.  After all, we did all this six years ago with the hellhounds.

. . . I was planning to answer some of the comments on the Bad News thread plus respond to some suggestions I’ve had by email but I am so tired I’m not sure how many sentences I have left in me tonight.  Water, which several of you have mentioned:  I’m putting us back on bottled water, although water was about the first thing I thought of six years ago, and bottled water didn’t make any difference then§§, although if it’s a parasite that’s closing the door after the horse has hit the high road.  It still gives me a faint spurious sense that I’m doing something.  Electro/environmental sensitivity:  I’ve thought of that too because I’ve wondered for thirteen years now what relationship that may have with the mutable beast that is ME.§§§  I’m hoping this is something they can see under a microscope.

The vet said they’d test for ‘everything’.  I’m compiling a list and will measure his ‘everything’ with mine after we get these first results.  And then I’ll try to decide what to do next.  I agree that we’re probably looking at specialist diagnosticians here but . . .

. . . I’ll think about it tomorrow.

* * *

* This is one of Peter’s phrases.  As, he says, is the one about you can’t call yourself a gardener unless you like to weed.  I certainly remember first hearing that more or less the moment I moved over here—I’ve told you that his first official fiancé’s gift to me was a pair of secateurs, haven’t I?—and by extension then from Peter.  But I hadn’t realised it originated with Peter.

I spent nearly three hours today weeding.  Yes.  It was good.  Except for the standing on the plants you’re trying to save and the being clawed to pieces by your roses.  As Peter also says, Roses don’t know who their friends are.

** Ah, nature.  What a dratblasted dinglebrained system.  This comes of creating a world in six days instead of taking your time in the planning stages and thinking things through carefully.

*** Except by me.

† Right now is when I REALLY REALLY REALLY don’t want to meet up with Toxic Purulence Dog.  We last saw him the day before Pav started dripping.  Eeep.

†† Pav has eaten a small airplane hangar and a Honda Civic.

††† See this grey hair?

‡ If I threw thunderbolts like Zeus, this entire town would look like the surface of the moon.

‡‡ The kind where if you shut your eyes everybody dies.  Ordinarily I sleep very badly in daylight and it’s a nuisance it gets light so early this time of year but lately I don’t think about turning my reading light off till the sun has taken over outdoors and is leaking through the curtains.^

^ Or the curtain-equivalents, as the case may be, as it is in my bedroom.

‡‡‡ This would be approximately an hour after I got to sleep in the first place.

§ More than one of my animal-oriented friends don’t like my vets, and it’s perfectly true they’ve got some stuff spectacularly wrong.  But they have virtues.  One of them is demonstrated here:  they listen.  There’s no nonsense about they’re the experts and they know best and stop complicating matters by trying to tell them about your individual knowledge about your individual critter^.   They’re also always available.  Their emergency out of office hours phone answering system WORKS as I have way too much occasion to know.  Rowan of the previous generation was accident prone, but her accidents only happened out of office hours and on weekends.  And when you come to the end of the line and need to have someone put down—they come to you so your critter can die at home.  And if this needs to happen on a Sunday afternoon, that’s okay too.

^ My loathing of most standard doctors is leaking through here

§§ I filter our drinking water at the cottage although it’s just one of the basic little charcoal dealies, and it wouldn’t protect us from anything serious.  It’s doing something, because I like the taste better than what comes raw out of the tap.  Peter doesn’t filter the water at the mews but he’s the only one of the five of us who does not have intestinal strangenesses.

§§§ I was nearly the last person I knew to go over to wifi, because I worried about all that extra signal washing around.  But when everyone in your neighbourhood has wifi you’re swimming in the stuff anyway, so you might as well join the fun.

The Annual Bluebell Wood Photo Album*


Bluebells, like everything else this cold nasty year, are late.**  I’ve been out stomping through the critical bit of countryside several times in the last three weeks or so and about ten days ago I thought, okay, next week is touchdown or lift-off or whatever.  Of bluebells.  And then various things intervened and I thought, if I miss the bluebells this year I am going to be CRANKY.  Not to mention the small passionate sub-coterie of bluebell-adoring blog readers who would never forgive me.

And then I thought, wait!  Rima is coming!  I will MAKE HER WALK THROUGH A BLUEBELL WOOD WITH ME!  It’s the sort of thing you should do with your American visitors, if they come at the right time of year.

So today we walked through a bluebell wood.  Or two.  And it was great, except for my camera battery going dead on me.  It started flashing red about two-thirds of the way through our walk so I was agonising over every frelling shot, waiting for it to go BYE BYE.  SPLAT.  HAHAHAHAHAHA.  –ARRRRGH.  However Rima took a lot of photos too, and will send them to me when she gets home.  RIGHT, RIMA?***  So if I missed anything fabulous I’ll post Rima’s version later.****


And a few random sheep. Bluebell wood #1 is to the right and over the crest of the hill.


I love that gleaming blue in the distance, telling you that what you want is right here, waiting for you.


Yep. Right here. Mmmmm.


And the occasional white one. There are occasional pink ones too but I didn’t see any this year. (Except in town which doesn’t count.)


Sigh. I love bluebells. AND they smell good.



WordPress, the ever delightful, first time I hit ‘insert photo’, responded Hi, we’re not uploading that photo BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET. Have I mentioned RECENTLY how much I hate WordPress?? Let’s see what it does this time . . . pressing button NOW . . .


::pressing the button really FAST this time::


And if anyone is so churlish as to check the numbers on these photos and observe that they’re going backwards, that’s because we parked Wolfgang in a funny spot and came to Bluebell Wood #1 SECOND.


They really are magical. If you’ve seen a bluebell wood, you know that magic exists in this world.


Another random sheep photo. As Rima said, it’s a magical gate through the hedgerow into another world . . . Sheepworld! Or it’s an alternate door through the hedge . . . won’t Linadel be surprised that it’s all SHEEP! Oh that Rima. I keep letting her come back because she’s so funny. Ha ha ha ha ha.

* * *

* There will be a hellcritter update tomorrow.  THANK YOU for all your support, including your suggestions for ways forward.
** My sweet peas are finally getting going.  FINALLY.  I stuffed their little white anxiously waving plug-seedling what’s-going-on-here-I-want-dirt roots into compostable pots the minute they arrived in the post but they did not like the several weeks they spent being brought in every flipping night because we were going to have another FROST and not getting out early enough the next morning because I don’t get up early.  And even after I put them in the ground over a fortnight ago now they have been sulking.  But they appear to be getting over it.   Yaay.  Whew.
*** Well, she said she would.  I can remind her.
**** The thing that is really infuriating is that I remembered to clear the memory card, so I went sashaying into the first wood saying over my shoulder at Rima that I could take THOUSANDS of photos, no worries.  Except that I had forgotten to check the battery.

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