October 23, 2013

It’s nearly 2 a.m. and I still have to write the blog


It has not been a good day.  I overslept—which at least has the advantage that I got some sleep—but I was racing around tripping over a puppy very anxious to be helpful trying to catch up with myself and failing, of course, does anyone ever catch up?*, and one of my split-second decisions was to leave the GIGANTIC HOUSE SPIDER perched precariously on a skirting board near the front door—he was too big and he didn’t fit, and was having to extend some of his supernumerary limbs around the corner and grasp the front of the bookcase—and finish throwing the last six animals and twenty-two knapsacks in Wolfgang and get down to the mews before sunset.

Which means he’s still at the cottage.  Somewhere.  Waiting for me.  Unless of course he’s found his beloved and they are experiencing marital bliss . . . somewhere.  You don’t seem to find pairs of spiders so I’m ASSUMING I don’t have to worry about the happy couple(s) once they are.  But it’s now definitively nighttime and by the time we all** get back to the cottage I’ll be tired and . . . I know it looks like a really dumb decision.  But there’s the additional factoid that neither of my spider catchers are actually up to the job of autumn-sized house spiders, the ones that are as big as your hand.  That Godzilla I posted photos of a couple of years ago is still a personal worst, but this time of year there are always several jolly little pony-sized arachnids that, like the cockroaches outside Charlie’s Coffeehouse, you can hear as they clatter across the lino’d*** floor.  Ugggh.  But I wonder what spider-catcher-inventors are thinking about when they design something big and strong enough to tackle a somewhat undernourished daddy-long-legs?  I have never used the box one on anything bigger than my thumbnail because I dislike cutting legs off, even of spiders . . . and I’m probably not going to bother with a spider that small anyway—I’m a sort of mutable arachnophobe—and the box-catcher, while it was sold to me for spiders, is useful for wasps and Other Things That Sting.

I have been put off forever using the bristle-brush catcher, where you plop the business end of this bushy broom thing over your spider and then run the handle down toward it so the bristles close over it, TRAPPING IT SECURELY.  Yes.  Indeed.  An autumn-sized spider says ‘hmm, indoor hedgerow, don’t like it’, bursts through the plastic bristles without breaking a sweat AND RUNS UP THE HANDLE TOWARD MY ARM.  Exit screaming.†  I may have told you this story before.  The memory lingers.


. . . I thought this early story-arc of the hob was dead obvious. Dead obvious isn’t necessarily bad—see previous response: OF COURSE I’m going to feed a friendly hob—but it’s usually, erm, obvious. You must read too many engineering texts or something and your eye has got out for fiction.

Well, yes, looking back, it was obvious. **defensively** I’d just turned 70 the day before. I was rather shaken by the idea that my extended middle age is over. 70 is undeniably old.

I seem to have left a piece of my brain behind. But, hey, I’m 70; I have an excuse. Right?

I’m sorry!  ::Grovels::  I meant to be teasing you.  —It goes on being a problem, this communication thing, even after 1,000,000,000,000,000 years of evolution from space dust or sea-bottom slime or whatever††, and email and the internet have just super-extended it into eleventy-seven new dimensions.  You get so used to talking with your fingers that you forget how many of the traditional social cues you’re not picking up.

Er . . . happy birthday?  I had a friend commenting when she turned seventy several years ago that everyone was telling her that ‘seventy is the new fifty’.  No it isn’t, she said.  That would make sixty the new forty, and I can vouch that sixty is not forty, new or otherwise.


. . . Best insomnia cure for Christians: Read Leviticus.

::Shudder::  Not for me.  Leviticus is too full of horrors.  You’re supposed to do what because of what?  Noooooooo.  Not to mention killing all those poor critters and splashing their blood around.†††


I cook for my home group regularly, and we have some people with very restrictive diets. I would always rather know as much as possible as soon as possible (within limits of what they are comfortable telling me, of course). For me, hospitality is a big deal. So if someone does have a limitation and they don’t tell me, I always feel bad that I wasn’t allowed to provide them what I provided everyone else with (or at least the equivalent). It makes my hospitality feel incomplete. I would say I do feel like you would be ministering to me by telling me because it would relieve me of the guilt I would feel for being inconsiderate of someone else’s needs, even if it was unintentional. . . .

Sure.  And I have emailed the organiser.  But I don’t like eating in a group and I resent being forced to do so.  I wouldn’t join a home group that required me to accept the food hospitality of the organizer as part of the regular meetings:  if this Alpha course began every meeting, instead of just the first one, with a group meal, I wouldn’t sign up.  Hospitality, and providing for your guests, is your big deal.  What if one of your guests has a big deal of being able to eat in private without someone’s need to be hospitable looming over them?

Diane in MN

. . . hellhounds are, erm, undesirably reactive to rabbit and venison and they won’t eat any of the other within-my-price-range options.

If you haven’t already tried it, you might look at turkey as an alternative to chicken. The taste is similar but the proteins are different (I was allergic to chicken, but not to turkey), and if it’s a new food they might not be sensitive to it. That’s assuming turkey is as commonplace in your markets as it is here, of course.

Turkey is available over here at Christmas, at £1,000,000,000 per carat.  If there are other turkey options I haven’t found them, although I admit my google-fu is poor.  I’ve had other Americans suggest turkey—and duck, which is nearly as expensive although available most of the year in case anyone wins the lottery—and I’ve tried the dog-food turkey and duck, either 100% or at least grain-free, and hellhounds, of course, won’t touch it.  Fortunately Pav will so all those frelling tins aren’t going to be wasted.


. . . I adore Bendicks Bittermints, they are not thin and squidgy but thick and solid with a really intense mint hit.

Yes, I remember those.  Before I discovered G&B, and before I was clobbered by the ME, I got through a lot of Bendicks Bittermints which are, as you say, excellent.  But the ME comes with a lorryload of chemical/environmental sensitivities/intolerances as well as the straightforward food issues and I’m pretty paranoid about organic.  And Bendicks, unfortunately, is not organic.  I admit that I wonder what kind of corners G&B may be cutting behind their behemoth corporate front, now they’re no longer independent.  And do things like disguise inferior new product in a superior old product’s packaging.

3rd dragon

Yeah, I’ve been VERY lactose intolerant for about a year now, and the thing that I hate most is how difficult it makes communal food (especially dessert). My church is making efforts to be better about labeling . . . but mostly in the direction of being accommodating to people with gluten sensitivities. . . .

Food allergies and intolerances are so common now—and commonly known about—it amazes me, not in a good way, how slow how many providers of public or communal food, including restaurants, are to respond in any useful way.  One of the things that used to make me crazy when I first moved over here is that any vegetarian option WAS UP TO ITS ARMPITS IN CHEESE.  It’s like the entire country had got stuck in the early Moosewood Cookbook stage.  It’s better now, but it’s still not uncommon to find the one ::trumpet fanfare:: vegetarian option on a restaurant menu to be three kinds of LOCALLY SOURCED!!!! cheese artfully woven through some risotto rice.  And if you’re dairy- tomato/potato/eggplant/etc- and gluten-intolerant HAVE A NICE LIFE.  Somewhere else.  If you can.  Fortunately I do—and can—eat meat‡, or I’d’ve starved to death years ago.

Restaurants are fun, too. Last night, for example, I found myself dragged along to an Italian place. And it’s not that I don’t like Italian food. But ALL ITALIAN FOOD IS BETTER WITH CHEESE. . . . If anyone has suggestions for what Italian food I should be ordering that would still be interesting without cheese or milk, I’m open to ideas.

Okay, I may be able to help here.  Back in the days when I was only lactose intolerant I discovered harlot’s sauce.  Most Italian restaurants have it and I never had a bad one—famous last words I daresay.  I can’t immediately find my recipe since it’s been retired and while I’m used to being dairy-free I still suffer lingering sulkiness about being tomato-free, but this one looks like the right stuff:


* * *

* Don’t answer that

** The thirty-seven animals and ninety-eight knapsacks

*** We’re not supposed to call it lino any more.  Lino is scruffy and low-class.  I think it’s now vinyl.  I have a very nice floor, whatever it calls itself, except for the muddy spider footprints.  The hellcritters and I all wipe our feet carefully.  Yes.

† Pav is extremely fond of the bristle-brush spider-catcher, although not for the use for which it was intended.

†† And the hand of God, but in one of his obscurer moments.  Although on a bad day I think the entire Bible is one long, gruesomely over-extended obscurer moment.

††† Definitely an obscurer moment.

‡ AND LOTS AND LOTS OF (mostly raw) VEGETABLES AND FRUIT.  I’m so Paleo.  I’m probably healthy as **** and will live forever.^

^ Well, if I am healthy as **** it’s nice idea. . . .


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