December 31, 2013

Another day bites the dust


So I’m short of sleep (again).  The hellhounds weren’t eating (again) last night so I got to bed later than desirable.  And still had to get up in time to sprint down to the mews for the speech therapist coming at 9:30.*  Which meant that I spent the hours I did have for sleep waking up every half hour and looking anxiously at the clock (which necessitates turning the light on and focusing) in fear that I’d slept through the alarm.  IT’S STILL DARK OUT.  IT’S PROBABLY STILL NIGHT, ALTHOUGH I ADMIT THIS TIME OF YEAR THAT IS NOT GUARANTEED.  I finally got up about twenty minutes before the alarm would have gone off. . . .

AND THEN SHE DIDN’T COME.  THE SPEECH THERAPIST DIDN’T COME.  Between diabolical hospital car parks and the non-arrival of therapists—we haven’t had a new one yet, and at the moment they’re all new, who doesn’t get lost trying to find us.  Yes okay we are modestly tricky to find but don’t you guys TALK to each other???  So even when they arrive they’re always frelling late—THE NHS IS STARTING TO GET ON MY LAST REMAINING NERVE.


Speaking of experience informing writing, I occasionally wish I could grab a ‘High Forsoothly’ author and stick them on a horse for 5 days, see how far they could travel and whether they might start actually cleaning their horse’s hooves occasionally (not that I put Kes in this category.)

And take its tack on and off, and check it and clean it occasionally, and groom the wretched animal (including its feet) and FEED IT.  Good grief.  Horses take a lot of feeding because basic grazing is low-cal.  And you can only carry so much grain/concentrates/what-have-you on your epic journey before this gets counterproductive:  hence your horse needs hours of grazing.**  And, you know, rest.  Like it was a live animal or something.

It never ceases to confound me how clueless, erm, storytellers can be.  What’s their excuse for not having spent two minutes to realise that you don’t turn a live animal on and off like you do a computer or a car?  The other thing I always think of when I am faced with one of these horse-shaped vehicles is, hasn’t the author ever had a pet, to have some clue about the whole care-and-feeding issue?

Not that this is necessarily enough.  When I was a young writer and hadn’t yet realised there is a vast political/hierarchical labyrinth between writers and readers***, I did some falling in with the wrong crowd.  I was immediately made uneasy by the acolyte system† that a few of the big names had allowed to build itself around them.  I also became semi-friends with an acolyte of a writer who had a particularly extensive worshipper cult.  My semi-friend had written a story for her demiurge, and it had a horse in it.  So she asked me if I’d read it before she submitted it.  I said yes.

Erm.  Well, it was a story.  With a horse in it.  The problem that I thought I could address was that she was treating the horse like her pet cat.  She wasn’t quite opening tins of tuna for it but . . . close.  I made a couple of suggestions which she did not take in good part.††  And she made sure to tell me a month or two later that her Most High had rejected the story for her next fanfic anthology, listing weaknesses I had let her down by failing to mention and not alluding to the unchanged horse/cat at all.



. . .  I agree [with CateK], but have found that authors who don’t know diddly about horses and want to use horses will ask for help and then not use it. Because they’ve already decided that a) the horse care doesn’t really matter as it’s only fiction, b) they don’t want to spend words on it, c) they had what they wanted to do with a horse in the story all worked out and you’re just getting in the way. Then sometimes they mention the one who gave them the right information in the acknowledgments, with fulsome thanks, while doing exactly what they were told was impossible, thus making the one who gave them the advice looks really, really incompetent. You can drag a writer to the fount of information, but you cannot make him/her USE it.

YES.  THIS.  Moan, moan, moan.  There are still books out there—but I can hope they’re all OP—with my name on the acknowledgements page.  NOOOOOOOO.  I DIDN’T DO IT.  THAT’S NOT WHAT I SAID.  THAT’S NOT WHAT I MEANTIT’S NOT MY FAULT.†††

(And saying that puts me on a very slippery knife-edge, because heaven knows I don’t know everything about everything I’ve ever put in a book. I try, but…fall short. . . .)

Yes.  This too.  When you’re already having a bad night, this is one of the ruts of conscience that will keep you awake indefinitely.  It’s the things you didn’t know you needed to look up that probably haunt me the worst.  I knew I was on shaky ground with Taks’ Japanese, but thought I could just about get away with it since it was only a few words and he’d spoken only English for years.  But . . . I’m sure I’ve told you this story . . . BEAUTY’s canary was originally female.  My copyeditor told me that only male canaries sing much.


* * *

* No, I don’t have to be there.  But while the therapists are still figuring out what Peter needs I don’t want to miss anything.  And the speech therapist is probably the most important.

** Wild horses spend their lives grazing, you know?  We’re interrupting the flow.

*** Some writers and some readers.  Some of my best non-writing friends read me.  Some of my best non-writing friends don’t.  But there is a large social element of weirdness in the corner of genre publishing I know anything about, and while I’ve met people at SF&F cons and book conventions who have gone on to become friends . . . the graphic weirdness that inevitably comes with being a writer at one of these extravaganzas is a major reason why I don’t mind not going to them any more.

† Caveats here too.  Some authors can’t help having groupies;  it’s the way their books are read, or the luck of the draw, or that the media found them in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person and made a groupie-attracting story out of it, or something.  And some authors do a genuine and generous job of mentoring.  But a few of them merely relish being adored, and behave accordingly.

†† The McKinley Learning Curve.  Sigh.

††† It was my evil twin.

Life in the (Very) Slow Lane


I darned a sock this morning.  I’m trying to remember the last time I darned a frelling sock.*  There are advantages to staying home all the time.**  At the moment I’m actually reading*** books faster than I’m buying them.  This won’t last.  But I have TWO NEW BOOK RECS to add to the list just in this last week, and you will remember I am a Very Cranky Reader.  I periodically have fantasies of doing a book rec a week for the blog.  That would press pretty hard on my fundamental CRANKINESS—two rec-able titles in seven days is perhaps not unheard of but supremely unlikely—but it might be an interesting experiment.

After the monsoon, the Nor’easter.  We had a no-nonsense hard frost last night, according to my minimum-maximum thermometer down to 28°(F) and the tropical jungle is all huddled anxiously on the Winter Table indoors.  And it’s slithery outdoors.  I hadn’t tried to go to my monks last night after I got a last-minute email from Alfrick saying that there was no contemplation before the night prayer, which was furthermore early . . . but this morning I was booted, spurred and caffeinated to bolt for Sunday [Anglican] Mass at the monks’, but by the time I had to leave it was still below freezing and I didn’t like the look of the roads.  At.  All.  So I didn’t go.  And I didn’t go to St Margaret’s tonight either for the same reason.†  I’m beginning to feel like an eremite.

But I darned a sock.††

What with the last fortnight’s undesirable adventures, I’ve kind of lost track of where I am rattling through forum comments.  So if I’ve responded to any of these already I hope I’m saying more or less the same things.  This may be boring for you, but anything else would be very disconcerting to me.


Tall, thin, spiky shadow? Like, um, rose bushes? Rosebushes that SALUTE? Well, maybe there’s a breeze in there.

 No, no, it’s the hob. It’s got to be the hob.

 But what’s the hob going to do? They’re not warriors, are they? Maybe it could trip somebody, er, something, er, whatever is coming.

I think rose-bushes of apparently supernatural origin can probably do whatever they put their pointy little minds to.  I wouldn’t trust Rose Manor’s own roses—the ones that can survive anything, even Cold Valley winters, and who eat children and small dogs when they can get them—not to have an agenda.  And hobs . . . now I know I said something like this before . . . hobs protect their homes.  That’s what they’re for.  That’s what they do.


bethanynash wrote on Sat, 07 December 2013 22:18
I hadn’t even considered the idea that the tall spiky shadow could be the   hob… what does a hob look like? Is the hob tall? Would a hob salute?

I think we’re in anything-can-happen territory here.

Yep.  Got it in one.  For a storyteller like me the fun is in taking a tradition or a fairy tale or a bit of folklore  . . . and giving it a pink feather boa and a pair of All Stars, so to speak.  Again, as I keep saying, I don’t do this deliberately, but when a story—or a hob or a dragon or a vampire or whatever—speaks to me, speaks to me rather than some other storyteller, it’s because THEY WANT THE BOA.


I learned a new word: “deliquescing”!

It’s a good one, isn’t it?  It’s been one of My Words for some time.  Vellicating, however, I’d forgotten about, till I saw it somewhere recently and thought, oh!  I should use that!—especially since I’m twitchy myself.


What I’m wondering is, how will this experience affect Kes’ next volume of ‘Flowerhair’? As in, personal experience (blood, the sheer physicality and awfulness of violent death, which is expressed so well here) informing her writing.

We-ell . . . your life and your fiction have a strange relationship to each other.  It’s as I’ve ranted in other contexts:  yes, readers know a lot about me, the author of the story, but they don’t know what they know.  I’ve never written about being a military brat, living five years in Japan where I clearly did not belong, and then coming back to America and finding that it wasn’t home any more . . . anywhere but here in the blog.  But my particular experience of being an outsider—most authors feel like outsiders in one form or another, I think;  it helps channel the storytelling—entirely informs my writing.  But you can’t tell from my stories that I lived five years in Japan when I was a kid.

And . . . my own experience of extreme situations is that the last thing I want to do is stuff them in my fiction†††—which is what Kes says:  nightmares that she doesn’t put in her stories.  Flowerhair might retire and . . . er . . . open a florist’s. ‡

* * *

* Your average cotton-with-a-little-spandex or equivalent isn’t worth the bother unless they’re really favourite socks, especially since they’re probably going thin all over at the same time.  But nice heavy socks, like the wool oversocks I wear this time of year—they deserve respect, and darning when necessary.^  I used to have a darning basket but it got kind of intimidating.

^ Not least in my case when I find some wool socks I can bear to wear, even over one or two pairs of cotton socks+, I want to keep them as long as possible.

+ Yes.  My shoe size goes up in the winter.

** Somewhat depending on how you feel about things like darning socks.  Or washing the kitchen floor which I did a couple of days ago.^  I actually kind of like all that fussy domestic stuff.  It’s the time it takes I object to.  And as I have said frequently, if I have an urge to tidy I’m unlike to waste it on the mere house^^:  I’ll go out in the garden and thrash around there.  Unless, of course, it’s zero degrees out there.  In which case I may wash the kitchen floor.

^ You’d never know it.  I have three dogs.  Sigh.

^^ The house with three dogs

*** This includes throwing some of them violently across the room and then picking them up and putting them in the ‘Oxfam’ bag.  Hey, they have been processed, and they’re now ready to depart my living space.

† Driving is always kind of a marginal activity for me, because of the ME.  And although Peter stopped driving several years ago, he blocks the cold wind of reality in other ways.  With him mostly out of action I’m feeling even less heroic (and more cold) than usual.

†† Life in the very very slow lane:  I’ve forgotten how to do fiddly daily shopping—partly because Peter likes doing it^ and partly because I grew up in a culture that does once a week mega-shops.  So I went to mini-grocery number one for lettuce and Peter’s GUARDIAN, and they had the lettuce but not the GUARDIAN.  So I heaved a deep sigh, but I’ve already failed Peter once in the newspaper category this week, and a GUARDIAN man can only read the TIMES so often before he starts throwing silverware at the wall, and I walked to the far end of town^^ to mini-grocery number two where I bought the last Sunday GUARDIAN^^^ . . . but it wouldn’t have done me any good to go there first because they didn’t have any lettuce.  Store managers get together to plan this kind of thing, right?

^ Takes all kinds

^^ Which takes about thirty seconds.  It is, however, uphill going home.

^^^ Which is to say OBSERVER, for those of you who care.  I have no idea why the Sunday GUARDIAN is called the OBSERVER.

††† Maybe in a decade or two.  Or three.

‡ . . . although I doubt it.

KES, 111


Okay.  Notes from a life.  It’s a whole lot easier to describe a lot of stuff, especially scary stuff, happening all at once when you’re not in the middle of it.  It’s a lot easier when you’re sitting at your computer (mostly) staring into space and drinking too much tea, and experimenting with a phrase or a paragraph and if it doesn’t work deleting it and plucking another one out of your thesaurus and your overcaffeinated brain.

It’s especially easier to see anything at all when there’s light to see by.

You’re at a big disadvantage, description-wise, when a lot of monsters and bad guys from your worst nightmares—the nightmares that freak you out so much you haven’t tried to put them in your fiction—materialise, out of the caliginous malevolent non-air that has been corkscrewing unpleasantly in the vicinity and messing both with your sight and your increasingly besieged sense of well-being, inches from your nose, and immediately attempt to eat you or behead you or burn your house down.  Although it did seem to me, insofar as I was noticing anything past the immediate business of trying to stay alive for another few seconds, that the fire was mostly on our side.  I saw it take out a couple of guys, or guy-like things with swords, with a kind of flaming butterfly-net effect.  Then there was a mouth-thing, this sort of giant maggot with a hole at one end full of teeth, that really was about to swallow me, as I pretty much stood there paralysed (again), except some kind of fireball blew over my shoulder and down its throat and it exploded instead, flinging wet gobbets of . . . never mind.  That was pretty ghastly.  No, it was very ghastly.

But I didn’t have time to go off in fits or throw up or any of the normal reactions to this kind of experience because I was busy swinging Silverheart up to block some new ugly scumbag with a sword.  I say swing, but it was mostly her getting in the way of danger and me trying not to fall over.  This kept happening.  Watermelon Shoulders was right:  Silverheart knew her business.  My increasingly sore and aching arm just followed along where it was led.  The rose bracelet’s focus was maybe even better.  The widest part of the band, the rose medallion itself, was only about three inches long, and yet every time I raised my other arm against some other sword or set of teeth, while Silverheart was occupied elsewhere, the rose bracelet took the blow—which is to say I still have two arms, thank you.   The contact was often dizzying;  not just the force of a blow that is trying to kill or maim you, but as if the medallion was defusing that deadly momentum by transforming it into some other force.  As my body juddered and staggered, visions burst behind my eyes as violently as claps of thunder, as dazzling as lightning striking at my feet.  I saw a castle on a hill and, because visions don’t care about the reality of eyesight, I saw the banner flying from its topmost tower very plainly:  two sword blades crossed to divide it into quarters, and in the quarters were a horse, a hawk, a sighthound and a rose.  I saw a company on horseback galloping, galloping and—again thanks to vision-sight—I saw one of the riders in the lead raise an arm to point, and the pointing arm was wearing a rose bracelet identical to the one on my arm.

I saw a woman kneeling by a stream.  Her long hair trailed in the water with the leaves of the willow that bowed beside her.  She held her arms out toward the water in a gesture that looked like pleading;  she drew her fingers across the water’s surface as if it were an animal she was stroking.  She looked up fearfully, toward but past me, wherever it was that I was.  When she turned back to the water, although I couldn’t hear her, I felt that I knew she had caught her breath on a little sob, and as she breathed out again she murmured, Please.  She let her hands drop beneath the water’s surface—and then she dived, fast and suddenly—or had she been drawn into the water by something I could not see?

I saw a stand of young trees, moving restlessly in a wind I could neither see nor feel.  It took me a moment—clang, and the bracelet defeated another my-life-threatening wallop—to realise that they were not behaving like ordinary trees in an ordinary wind, for they were lashing in different directions.  And then my vision-sight kicked in, and I saw that only a few of them were trees, and the others were young women—dryads?  Under the circumstances this seemed quite likely.  They were dressed in green and brown, in long strange ribbon-like wrappings that didn’t look at all good for walking in, but then perhaps dryads didn’t walk much.  One of them seemed to see me, and stretched her hands out toward me, but whether she was saying come here or go away I couldn’t tell, and then the vision ended. . . .

Our Unnecessarily Exciting Life


Peter had a fall today.  It was not, as falls go, a serious one.  He is nonetheless indubitably eighty-six and had a stroke less than a fortnight ago.  He tripped over the dog bed while reaching for GHOST BRIGADES on the table behind the sofa.  And hit his head on the way to the floor.  I was all of about a foot away—on the wrong side of the sofa, and covered in hellhounds and he was falling in the wrong direction, away from me.  But this at least meant I could say firmly to the A&E doctor that he had not blacked out.

He lay there looking mildly surprised while I erupted off the sofa, saying something intelligent like, Oh!  You fell!  He put his hand to the back of his head.  There’s rather a lot of blood, he said, as if apologetically.

THERE WAS BLOOD EVERYWHERE.  I do know that scalp wounds bleed like the very dickens* even when they’re totally minor** and superficial, but he had fallen down and cracked his head on the edge of a chair AND HE’S ON BLOOD THINNERS BECAUSE OF THE STROKE.  As well as the eighty-six years old part.  He got up without trouble (!) and sat in a chair, and I attempted to view (and staunch) the damage.

He was busy saying he was fine.  I was busy saying You are going to A&E.  You can either go quietly in Wolfgang with me or I’m ringing for an ambulance.  He went quietly.  I did agree to ring the out-of-office-hours thingy again just to prove I was right and we should go to A&E.  I was right.***

*&^%$£”!!!!! hospital &^%$)*~#@!!!!!!  You’re not at your best when you’re bringing someone to A&E, you know?  Even when you’re fairly sure it’s not a life-threatening situation†.  I should find out if they have a side door somewhere to let people down who aren’t walking too well:  the main entrance is only really theoretically accessible by anyone but ambulances††;  where pedestrians who are willing to hike in from the car park are allowed to walk is merely a swathe of red paint along the ambulance lane, and God help you if an ambulance in a hurry takes a slightly wide corner.  Because I didn’t know any better I frelling drove up to the ambulance-only door so I could put Peter down as near to the intake desk as possible.  I parked behind a pillar and put my flashers on, I was not blocking anyone or anything, and I hustled Peter in.  I was gone maybe two minutes.  When I came out some ambulance guy wanted to give me a hard time—he and his mate were ambling toward an empty parked ambulance with an empty made-up bed-on-wheels.  I said, I’m dropping off someone who is very tottery, what am I supposed to do?  And he said, charmingly, well, that’s your problem, innit?†††  Add him to the rotting dog turd list.

Because Peter is okay, I will further digress by remarking that I HATE THE HOSPITAL CAR PARK FACILITIES WITH INCREASING ARDOUR.  One of the few things going for the wretched coin machines is that they’ll take 5p pieces, which very few car parks will any more.  So the freller I was addressing rejected four 5p pieces before I found two that would work.  And a good thing too since they were the only two remaining and I was, of course, nearly out of change.  You don’t think in terms of necessary change any more:  it’s all plastic and the occasional bank note, especially at hospital-car-park prices.  Aside from the fact that when you’re bringing someone to A&E you may not be in a position to top up your change before you arrive, even supposing you remembered this was an issue.

Indiana Jones was going over a waterfall when I caught up with Peter.‡  And the day after Boxing Day and four days before New Year’s Eve is apparently the dead zone;  we were seen quickly and calmly.  The doctor was probably all of twenty-five;  I think the nice young (male) nurse she gave us to for the disinfecting and wound-glue-applying was about sixteen.  But they looked him over, asked the obvious questions, and told us to be careful going home.  Indeed.  We walked out to the beastly car park . . . and had a difficult time of it, okay?  It’s INSANELY badly laid out.  Well, it’s not laid out, that’s exactly the problem.  And I’m not frail, but I am sixty-one and a lot smaller than Peter, and when I can’t frelling see in the frelling dark and don’t know the best way for someone unsteady on their feet to go, the whole thing becomes a trifle traumatic.

However.  We got home in one piece.  Well, two pieces, one each:  Peter.  Me.  And had cold turkey [sic] for supper.  And tomorrow’s physio comes at NINE FRELLING THIRTY IN THE MORNING.  I’m waiting for my tea to steep at 9:30 and I’m probably still in my dressing gown.  So I’d better get my gratuitously whacked-out self‡‡ to bed.  Maybe I’ll ask the physio about navigating the frelling A&E labyrinth.  I don’t know what we do about tripping over the dog bed.  Hellhounds need somewhere to sleep.  Arrrgh.

* * *

* . . . the very Dickinson

** If falling on your head is ever totally minor.

*** They did however seriously put the wind up me by the 1,001 questions they wanted answers to as soon as I admitted it was a head injury.^  And finished off by telling me to take him to A&E anyway.  What a good thing I hadn’t been lying on the sofa with hellhounds^^ and the last glass of champagne.^^^

^ The one about diving the gentleman on the phone acknowledged was probably irrelevant.  Yes, I said, it happened in our sitting room, which is, despite local flooding, beautifully dry, thank you.

^^ No, no hellterror.  Hellterror had had a looooong lap this morning while the physio was here.+    And hellhounds unfortunately still find it more relaxing when she’s not around.

+Hellterror has decided she likes physios.

^^^ . . . and reading a book on the anthropology of the Bible, if you want to know.

† Which is what ambulances are for

†† Speaking of ambulances

††† It’s a funny thing about ambulance staff.  I’ve never had anything but good to excellent experiences with them when it’s me or mine who are the objects of their attention.  I think it may be the case that I’ve never not had crummy experiences with them when they’re nothing to do with me.  WTF.  If this is how they deal with the stress of their job I think there needs to be another training module, Dealings with the General Public, Who Have Lives, Genuine Urgencies, and Decisions of Their Own.

‡ Ah the wonders of modern technology.  Your hospital A&E has large-screen entertainment for the sick, feverish, mad and bleeding.

‡‡ Peter said drily on the way home, well, it got us through the evening.



I was cleaning bird feeders this morning.  Hey, you feathered guys, you’re supposed to eat the stuff I put out, instead of getting bored and flying away to Tahiti for the poisson cru or next door for the sunflower hearts* and leaving the nutritious, carefully balanced by the wild-bird-food company accountants but probably not very exciting seed-with-bits-in** to curdle into what eventually sets into a substance remarkably like concrete.***  The stubbly kind.  Arrrgh.  And while the Second Wave of bird feeders is more satisfactory than the first they’re still diabolical little frellers to clean.

It’s been a clear bright day today after all the rain and wind† and it’s Boxing Day so EVERYONE and his/her aunt/uncle, third cousin twice removed and their large ill-mannered off lead dogs are out having jolly walks over the countryside.  Which means we did not have any jolly walks over the countryside because it wasn’t going to be worth the stress level.  I have enough stress in my life just now, you know?  Worrying about the three-bedroom-cottage-sized†† four-legged thug(s) bounding up to the crest of the hill from the other side wasn’t going to be a fun relaxing time.

I was gratuitously right about this:  Wolfgang coughed a bit in a sad neglected way when he started this morning and I was struck by a pang of conscience as well as the standard anxiety anyone with a getting-on-for-twenty-years-old car is going to have about such things, so we sauntered down to the mews the ridiculously long way to get his arthritic joints warmed up and all his meters reading normal.  We could barely thrash our way down any road††† for all the trippers out there in their coloured wellies‡ grimly appreciating nature and hoping that all this frelling fresh air is helping them wear off the excesses of yesterday.‡‡

Accompanied by their formidable battalions of drooling, superfluously-fanged off-lead dogs.  Arrrgh.  One of the (over-populated) roads we ventured down today cut across the path I did at least briefly consider taking Pav along because I can pick her up and . . . galumphing toward us as part of a well-wellied family party were two, I dunno, Golden Retrievers crossed with polar bear possibly?  Picking Pav up wouldn’t have been enough.  And I suspect I would not climb a tree efficiently with only one arm and a struggling thirty-pound hellterror under the other.

Eh.  I’m about to eat Christmas pudding.  Flour two days in a row.  I’m really dicing with death here.

* * *

* I’m cheap.  I spend enough on gold-standard frelling dog kibble.^

^ You’d think I’d be grateful the hellhounds don’t like eating.

** Mealworms, chiefly, because robins like mealworms, but I’ve already told you that my resident robin is TOO LARGE to fit through the squirrel-resistant cage.  I still haven’t addressed this problem.  Buying bird feeders gets old too, and as soon as you do your St Francis thing on the ground you get rats.  St Francis probably managed to love rats too but then he didn’t stay in one place much, did he?  Rats in the garden weren’t an issue.

*** I’ve been meaning to deal with the bird feeders since . . . oh, October or so.

† My focus has been a little narrow of late and I was apparently unduly off hand about the effects of the storms in this area;  there are people around here who have been and are still without power.  None of my neighbours has knocked on the door begging for a shower^ but then most of them are away for the holidays and aren’t noticing if they’ve got power or not.  I’m used to coming home in the small hours to a dark street but it’s disconcerting to come back at teatime to bring the indoor jungle in for the night and close the curtains, to a dark street.^^  Because I have more imagination than is good for me, and possibly because I read THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS at an impressionable age, there’s always a whiff of Last Woman on Earth about it.  And if Phineas doesn’t come back because a triffid got him I’ll have to start buying cat food.

^ And a good thing too since I don’t have a shower.  Took my first shower(s) in years when I was overnighting at Peter’s.  It was interesting.  Oh.  Yes.  I remember this.  Big waste of hot water.  No reading.+

+ Okay, you could read in the shower with—say—your iPad in her little waterproof jacket.  But it would be hell on your hot water bills and don’t you usually like to sit down when you read?

^^ The shortest day of the year is over.  We’re officially rolling on toward spring.  Yaaay.

†† Ie bigger than mine, which is one and a half bedrooms.  I’ve told you, haven’t I, that my predecessor used the big room as her bedroom and the medium-sized cupboard as her office?  Ah, priorities.  I ripped out the closet in the big room for more bookshelves in my office.

††† Except the main street, of course, which is beautifully empty because all the shops are closed.  Holiday traffic is funny.

‡ All right, my wellies are pink.  But they’re real wellies, and they have the real gouges and claw marks from working in a garden with a lot of rose bushes in it.  Some of the rubber boots out there look like the wellie version of those designer jodhpurs made for women who get no closer to a horse than the valuable antique horsehair sofa in their sitting room.  Jodhpurs are stupid unless there’s a horse involved.^  Wellies are stupid unless you have a garden or a lot of horses to muck out.  There were two little girls today with especially fabulous flash wellies in forty-seven decorator colours between them . . . and faces like the return of local thunderstorms.  I thought ‘blisters’.

^ Personally I think they’re pretty stupid even with a horse involved.  Nice pair of stretch breeches with reinforced fanny and inside-of-leg, thanks.

‡‡ Or possibly looking forward to further excesses today that all the fresh air is going to make justifiable.

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