April 30, 2014

KES comments continued and so on and so on and doobie doobie do


Speaking of excellent stories, you’re all Octavia E Butler readers, I hope?*  Well, looky here:  http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4976-0137-6

And now let the frivolity roll. . . .


I hope Kes gets home soon, poor soul. I’m beginning to get quite concerned that she’ll catch a chill out there in her nightie.

Yes I’ve been worrying about that too.  It’s the sort of thing I won’t know till I get there.  Of course I often know things that still turn out to be wrong when I get there.**  But so far as I know she isn’t sneezing at the end of Part One.  Whether or not she wakes up the next morning (?) at the beginning of Part Two with a major fever that is trying to convince her she imagined most of Part One. . . . There will be one or two momentos of her experiences which will lobby rather forcefully against this ridiculous enterprise  however.***  Aside from the dead guy in the front hall.  I imagine Mr WS, being a gentleman, will do something about the body when the mayhem level subsides a bit† but I don’t think bloodstains on wooden floors is within his remit.  Maybe the hob will have some ideas. ††


I’m reminded of certain scenes in Sunshine which I reread recently…

I think this is a good thing . . . †††

. . . for the scripturally inclined: the second verse of Genesis, part of which is commonly translated “And darkness covered over the land,” could be trying to convey the sensation you’re describing [when Kes locates the Gate]. If you go back to the Hebrew, the word translated as ‘darkness’ could be translated as ‘seething unfathomable chaos.’

Darkness and Chaos being my natural state, of course.  This does give me the edge for certain descriptive passages.‡


You didn’t know who shouted, only that it sounded like it came from someone standing with you, some Falcon, and that the voice was rough with both joy and terror. “Defender!”

Wait. Are these soldiers allies? Or enemies? Who are they fighting against? Who’s the Lady?

I realise you are expressing impatience, but if they were enemies, would the voice be rough with joy?

I take back what I said about wanting this story to go on forever. I want some answers.

You do?  Gee.  That’s too bad.


The twisted strap on the saddle–I’ve had big nasty blisters from that. One of which got infected and…oh, wait, nobody wants to know about that. It’s just that I was taking a microbiology class at the time and I recognized…NO. (Smacks self on head, several times.)

Any time you want to write a guest blog on the interesting real-life applications of taking a microbiology class . . . we can just put a GROSS ALERT at the beginning.  And yeah, about blisters.  It is AMAZING how quickly a stupid little rubbing thing turns into a MAJOR WEEPING WOUND.  It’s why I’m so paranoid about shoes, since I spend so much of my time walking.  All Stars Rule.

But I miss Sid. I really, really want to know that Sid is OK back where Sid is (wherever that is…) and that the hob is dealing with the home invasion, and so on.

Well, I miss Sid too.  I can hear the barking.  You will too soon, I promise.  I don’t even think ‘soon’ is very relative in this instance.


I love that the guards are still ordinary people with mundane concerns. I think that’s one of your greatest strengths, building solid ground under the fantasy so that it’s even more real.

Thank you.  THANK YOU.  As I’ve said before when I’m doing a comment-answering post, I tend to cut out the compliments‡‡ because leaving them in makes me look like such a prat, but since this is one of my major preoccupations about the writing of fantasy, my own and everyone else’s, I’m leaving it in.  Yes.   Grounding is crucial.  People are people, even if they’re nine feet tall and have seven arm-like appendages, and if they live in a landscape with purple trees I want to know what the trees look like, what the shape of the leaves is, what the flowers smell like in spring and what alcoholic beverages you can make from the fruit.  As I keep saying, the great thing about fantasy is that you can make up your own rules . . . the ratbag about fantasy is that you then have to stick to the rules you made up.  And sometimes your rules are less great than you thought, and sometimes you’re so far into the story when you realise you made a mistake there’s nothing you can do but live with it.‡‡‡  But as soon as you think, okay, what’s it like for these guys, whoever they are, whether they’re human or not, they’re going to have upkeep issues, whether that means sewing on buttons and boiling water for tea, or gliffermying the vrumpetty and doogling the brezzer.  And if the latter you need to explain for your presumably mostly human audience so that the human reader totally feels the zogle pressing into the mrilf and kind of wants to have a go at gliffermying themselves, and when they close the book§ are startled to discover they’re short and have only two arms.


Oooh. Not that I don’t enjoy Kes’ narration and her ties to the ordinary world, but there’s something about the mix of fairy tale and ordinary people (who get nervous and drop things and such) that I love.

::Beams::  This is part of the grounding thing I’m talking about.  Denouements between super-wizards tend to be kinda boring.  Denouements between more or less ordinary people who may fumble the universe-commanding wand at a critical moment are much more interesting.  Also super-wizards are already out there because of their superness.  There’s a steep climb for an ordinary Jo(e) to get to the super-level where the universe-commanding wand needs to be wielded.  This is more interesting and also a lot more sympathetic for ordinary-Jo(e) readers.  Say I.

It amuses me that their first sight of Kes isn’t much like what Kes herself has been thinking.

Well of course not.  That’s the deal.  Yes.§§

They see “a pale slender woman, with long tangled hair, riding bare-legged and barefoot.” Whereas Kes has been thinking things like “How did I get in this story?”, “Why didn’t I wear pajamas with pants?” and “Oh gods I’m going to cut my own leg off.” I find myself wondering what the Falcons will think when she gets closer.

There are three answers to this:  (a) Mwa hahahahahahaha (b) I wonder too (c) There’s going to be some Hayley action:  ohmigod it’s the Defender she’s real that’s not really a tatty pink nightgown is it?  All three of these answers are true.  Stories and writing are often confusing.  It’s why writers are often nuts.  Or that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

* * *

* And that she died way too young several years ago?

** I wasn’t expecting Sid to show up nearly so soon, for example, when Kes sticks her pin in a map in Manhattan and contemplates the possibility of getting a dog.

*** Mwa hahahahahaha

† Or bodies, as the case may be

††  Mrrrrmph.  ::Not giving anything away.  Not.::

††† I’m extremely fond of SUNSHINE.  Just so you know.

‡ Snoring optional.  Darkness, who has disdained his dinner^, in his efforts to elude the nasty thing, has buried his head under a blanket from which posture he is having some trouble breathing.

^ Siiiiiiiiigh

‡‡ Having read them over slowly and carefully several times first

‡‡‡ This may be less true for people who rewrite better than I do.  I certainly do a lot of rewriting, but the basic shape of the thing has to be more or less right the first time or I lose it, I lose my ability to hear the story.  Rewriting is more about expanding, tidying up and pursuing implications^ than deciding in the second draft that the heroine is nine feet tall and has seven arms and likes hot spiced blurdge from the purple yikyak trees’ bojally fruit, although she was human in the first draft and liked maple syrup on her blueberry pancakes.

^ Which do, I admit, cause collision disasters upon occasion.  NOOOOOOO.  JUST BECAUSE SHE WAS ON THE TOP OF A MOUNTAIN TALKING TO A DRAGON DOESN’T MEAN SHE ISN’T AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA TALKING TO A MERMAID.  Wait, wait, I’m inventing teleportation . . . or cloning . . . give me a minute I’LL THINK OF SOMETHING.

§ Or click the ereader off

§§ Also, most of my major characters think less well of themselves than perhaps they should.  Ahem.  The Story Council does usually try to send you stuff you can feel your way into.  Writing is hard enough work without making it harder.

First Roses?!


We have roses.  We’re not supposed to have roses—it’s only the end of frelling April—and we don’t have many, but we do have roses.  And they’re not even the so-called species* roses which are often the early ones, but proper overbred garden roses.  Peter’s is even an Austin for pity’s sake, although she is on the front wall of the mews, and that courtyard is a heat sink, but I’m used to Austins in Hampshire starting up in June.  My two, Sophie’s Perpetual and my beloved Old Blush, AKA (among other things) Parson’s Monthly, are certainly human bred roses, but they are also known for starting early and going on and on.**  But THIS early?***  Never mind . . . I’m not complaining.


William Morris.  Personally I think the original WM would have spasms at the idea of an apricot-pink rose named after him but hey.

William Morris. Personally I think the original WM would have spasms at the idea of an apricot-pink rose named after him but hey.

Sophie's Perpetual.  If she goes on being a healthy and reliable bloomer I'll forgive her but she has a tendency to grow sideways rather than up.

Sophie’s Perpetual. If she goes on being a healthy and reliable bloomer I’ll forgive her but she has a tendency to grow sideways rather than up.


Old Blush.  If you are the last rose of summer in my garden you are CHERISHED.

Old Blush. If you are the last rose of summer in my garden you are CHERISHED.

* Botanical nomenclature makes me lose the will to live really fast.  I acknowledge the need for precision, including that everyone talking about this plant rather than that plant can feel sure they’re all on the same page blah blah blah blah blah blah blah BLAH BLAH BLAH but I don’t want to hear about it.  I have one perfectly practical, working response to plants, in a catalogue, on a web site or at a nursery:  (a) roses = want^;  (b) shiny = want;  (c) meh = don’t want.  I don’t care what you call them^^.  ‘Species’ roses, or ‘species’ most things that have a large cultivated-garden presence, are, for my money, and you purists out there look away now, the ones that haven’t been endlessly messed with by plant breeders and look more or less as they did when some stalwart explorer first found them growing out of a hillside or a cliff top or a river margin or the roof of the local priestess’ temple and brought them home in the hopes of material gain.

^ This being why I have to chain myself to Wolfgang’s steering wheel when we drive past the one semi-local rose nursery:  when you have a small garden you can do a lot of damage in a rose nursery even if you only go there once a year.+

+ Penelope, Harriet and I are planning a field trip that will involve passing that nursery but Harriet is driving.  This is ostensibly because Harriet of the three of us minds driving the least and she has a much nicer cleaner car than Wolfgang.#  But I haven’t told them about the chaining myself to the steering wheel tactic or they might insist on my driving for the entertainment value.##

# People given the choice of firing squad or death by dog hair inhalation will probably choose the firing squad.  Even if I remove the dog beds and sweep out the back seat it’s still a Guinness Book of World Records situation back there.

## Most of my friends have a strange sense of humour, yes.  That’s why we get along, innit?

^^ Except insofar as it pertains to whether or not I can grow the sucker.  If it’s going to get eight foot tall and is frost tender, no, I can’t.+

+ Which is why the one fabulously successful stephanotis floribunda# I once grew in my office at the old house and which was significantly bigger than I am when I had to move it into town, croaked the first winter.  Both of us couldn’t fit in the cottage kitchen at the same time, and I didn’t get it indoors soon enough one night.##

# Botanical nomenclature AAAAAAAUGH.  It’s a lot harder to avoid in England, however.  You Americans can call it Madagascar jasmine, I think.

## I killed another little one this winter I have no idea why.  It had been doing pretty well, I thought, on the kitchen windowsill, and then it suddenly said, bored now, and died.  I’ll probably get another one. . . . ~

~ And I think I haven’t told you about the Hibiscus Forest.  Peter had a very, very, very, very badly neglected hibiscus houseplant that I tried to kind of fatten up for the chop so I could get some cuttings off it before/when I pruned it because I suspected the pruning would kill it.  It did.  I had about eight viable cuttings which to my total astonishment struck= which I therefore had to pot on and figure out what to do with.  First winter they all fit on the same windowsill, no problem.  And then the gardening books always tell you to put your houseplants outdoors for the summer because all indoor plants are ipso facto dying== and this will make them happy and strong to survive another winter on your windowsill.

The hibiscus cuttings hated being outdoors.  I kept trying to find the hibiscus sweet spot and they kept saying, no, this isn’t it, waaaaaaah, we want murky daylight through glass, we want house spiders and dust, we want dog hair.  I lost three of them.  I thought I was going to lose a fourth, but it was still semi-clinging to life by early last autumn when I gave up and brought them indoors long before frost would become an issue.  All five of them have shot up and out over the winter and I’m going to have to pot them on and . . . you know, common-or-garden-variety hibiscus get kind of large.

= Ie grew roots and looked like living.

== Although if you want to get technical about it everything alive is dying.

** I’ve told you before that in a mild winter Old Blush will have a flower out for Christmas.^  I haven’t had Sophie in town long enough, and at the old house she was in a dumb place and shut down flowering with the majority.

^ Mythology states that Thomas Moore’s Last Rose of Summer was an Old Blush.  Mind you, what exactly is going on in that poem is, perhaps fortunately, a trifle obscure.  If he’s really tearing up a rose so it doesn’t have to be alooone, he’s a dipstick with a tendency to vandalism and it’s no wonder he doesn’t have any friends.

*** Apologies to the forum member whom I told quellingly she would not see roses when she was over here the end of April.  I hope there are banks, walls and gazebos of blooming roses wherever you are.

KES, 128


I thought at the idiots pouring down the slope after me, you guys.  Wasn’t the nightgown enough?  Don’t you know cluelessness when you see it?  Why don’t you just let me get killed?  (My stomach tried to turn over at this point, but that might have been from trying to sit on a galloping horse for the first time in twenty years.)  Wouldn’t—whoever—whatever—provide you with another Defender?  Possibly one who had held a sword once or twice in his or her previous life?  Maybe had some concept of practical strategy?  Knew some good soldier jokes?

But in the stories I knew that involved things like enchanted swords and seriously unlikely heroines, there was this whole honor shtick going on too.  Tulamaro had liked the look of me even less than I’d liked the look of him, but when the Gate opened he’d dropped back to rally his lot to follow me.  Because following the Defender, even if she is wearing a pink nightgown, can barely hold her sword, and is hurtling toward disaster because she has no idea what else to do, is what the set-up demands.

I’d have to remember, the next time I had a meeting with an editor who wasn’t doing what my agent and I wanted, that my scintillating glare could open interdimensional gates.  Surely an assault on a mere publicity budget would be child’s play in comparison?

Supposing I ever had a meeting with an editor again.  All the editors I knew were on the other side of that Gate, where more and more things with swords were coming through toward me and the gang trapped by tradition behind me.   Trying to find a bright side to look on, I considered the fact that also on the far side of the Gate was the dangerously over-extended deadline for FLOWERHAIR FOUR, which story I still had no idea how to pump up into implacable page-turning thrillingness.  And presumably Darla couldn’t get to me on this side of the Gate either.  Although I wouldn’t want to lay money (supposing I had any, till FF was written, accepted and paid for) on Darla not being able to do something.

But Sid was on the other side of the Gate.  So was Norah.  So were Serena and Hayley and Bridget and Mike and Susannah and JoJo.

So were Rose Manor and a dead guy in a pool of blood by the front door.  And unknown, but given the way this story was going, probably extensive quantities of further mayhem.

She holds Silverheart, Murac had said, Murac, who’d begun our association by calling me a useless mare.

Okay, I thought.  Why?  That’s the sixty-four gazillion-dollar question.  Why did Silverheart come to me?  Why am I the seriously unlikely enchanted-sword-holding heroine in this particular story?

Watermelon Shoulders, long long ago when I still believed I had some faint handle on the real world, had said something about how there had not been a Defender for some time and that the situation had deteriorated as a result.  That hadn’t been how Mr Forsoothly had put it, of course.  I seemed to remember the word ‘calamity’ had been employed.  But I had been distracted by that dead guy in a spreading pool of his own blood in my front hall. . . . and by my panic-arousing loosening grasp of reality.

Why me?

Most of the time, if you’re not too old yet, and you’re reasonably healthy, and you live (for example) in a city with a (mostly) reliable electricity and water supply, a (mostly) working subway system, the best opera house in the world and some really great bagel shops, your own death seems so theoretical.  Dead guys in your front hall shake this comfortable abstraction.

Forests of swords being waved at you meaningfully shake it even more.

I was pretty sure the things with swords had mouths they were opening and closing.  Singing their battle song, no doubt.  Something with lots of eviscerations and dismemberment in it.  There seemed to be more roaring in my ears than just wind and terror could account for.

Monster was still galloping.  He ran like a racehorse;  that moment every stride when all four feet were off the ground was like flying.   If I hadn’t been waiting for death I might have been enjoying it.  Except for that twisted strap—drat—and I couldn’t fix it now—I was going to have a blister soon and I doubted Murac had Band-Aids in his saddle bags.  Fortunately Monster’s gallop was as smooth as spreading butter on hot toast;  I was having enough trouble staying in the saddle on account of the stupid holding naked sword over my head situation.  Not only my shoulder but my back hurt, there were various muscles trying to cramp, and I was pretty sure the only reason I hadn’t dropped her was because she didn’t want to be dropped.  Don’t try this the next time you’re trying to lead an army into battle in your nightgown:  put your sword back in its blasted scabbard before you ask your horse to gallop.  It’s not just the weight, it’s the wind resistance.

Thunder of hooves.  Thunder of enemy’s battle song.  Thunder of your own team shouting at your back.

Defender, I heard.


Spring, springing


I never finished my earlier spring-in-the-garden post and everything has moved on, the way everything does this time of year.   Including the frelling indoor jungle which I am still hauling in overnight occasionally THANK YOU WEATHER GREMLINS.  THANK YOU SO MUCH.  And I went to the ironmonger’s* yesterday for silver polish and came home with a tray of snapdragons.   Which will have to be brought indoors if it turns cold again.  And the sweet peas are getting to the twining-up-your-arms PLANT ME PLANT ME stage.   Arrrrgh.  Also I’m waiting for the early bulb greenery to die back a little more before the (tender) summer bedding goes in.  Even daffodils will lose the will to live if you don’t let them soak up some rays after they’ve flowered.  I am having a daffodil tragedy however–the only daffs I had this spring were the ones in pots.  Not a single one of what is usually the stealthily expanding army of daffs in the ground came up.  With the cottage garden’s all-the-plumbing-in-Hampshire drainage system I doubt they rotted, even in the winter we’ve just had;  I think I must have some extremely fat mice.  Whose mutant gene allows them to eat daffodils which they are not supposed to do.

Minimalist and tidy are not my forte indoors or out.

Minimalist and tidy are not my forte indoors or out.

Anyway you have to imagine everything in this photo about a foot taller.  And a couple of the hippeastrums are in ginormous flower.  They were supposed to flower at Christmas, of course, but I . . . forgot to plant them.  The bulbs are surprisingly hardy;  I’ve rescued two or three from secret corners of the garden where they were having a nice summer outdoors from last year which, having been fed and apologised to, are good-naturedly producing leaves.  I have no idea when they might flower again.  The flowers, however, are fantastically tender.  It gets below about 50 degrees and they shrivel up and fall over.  Sigh.  Live and learn.


Pots.  I haz em.

Pots. I haz em.

This will, I hope, look a little more artistic later in the year when things start coming up and being themselves and I can move stuff around for maximum impact.**  And just by the way there are a good twenty roses in this shot.  Maybe twenty-five.   The [mumble-mumble] new ones are still heeled in in a single big pot just out of frame at the front.



Well, it is very exciting.  I didn’t have any for a couple of years–they can be fiddly to convince to settle down and be happy and grow, and the Evil Red Lily Beetle eats them.  I’ve turfed out my remaining lilies and the ERLB have apparently gone looking for better accommodation.

Well, they are very exciting to those of us who love them.

Well, they are very exciting to those of us who love them.


Okay, I've already done FRITILLARIES!!!!!  So I suppose it would be vulgar to do CAMELLIAS!!!!!

Okay, I’ve already done FRITILLARIES!!!!! So I suppose it would be boring and repetitive to do CAMELLIAS!!!!!

As regular readers of this blog know, in my pantheon roses are the business.  But I’m amassing kind of a lot of camellias.  If they ever invent a repeat-flowering camellia I’ll be lost.  As it is the fact that they’re only fairly briefly in flower–and tend to be biggish to GIGANTIC shrubs–keeps me a little under control.  One of their great virtues however is that they’re pretty trouble free.  Anything in a pot you do have to be pretty faithful about feeding and watering, but beyond that you can stuff them in any corner–including dark corners–and they’ll just get on with it.***

And furthermore a pink camellia.  How surprising.

And furthermore a pink camellia. How surprising.


And the mythical rust-red cowslip.

And the mythical rust-red cowslip.

After mentioning here that I didn’t even know there was such a thing I received an email from a friend saying, er . . . those might be the cuttings of my rust-red cowslip that I gave you when I was there last year?  Oh.  Well, they’re doing really well.  Turns out I planted another little tuft of them in the dark narrow bed beside Wolfgang’s space where the standard yellow cowslips do very well, and it’s rioting away there too.

Markham's Pink (clematis).  Another important harbinger of spring in my life.

Markham’s Pink (clematis). Another important harbinger of spring in my life.

I’m pretty sure I post a photo of Markham’s Pink every year#.  It grew up the shed outside our bedroom window at the old house and was one of those things that I had to have even in a tiny town garden.  But the one at the old house was a delicate little item;  Peter muttered every year that it was in a very bad place, poor thing, and it was surprising that it kept coming up.  Well, I have it in a medium-sized pot and it gets fed every year AND IT’S FRELLING HUGE.  I have several clematis throwing themselves around over the little low picket fence around the Hellcritter Relief Station Courtyard and I keep having to be creative about where to twine the extra 1,000,000 feet of clinging-tendril stems.

Frilly pansies.

Frilly pansies.

I don’t ordinarily like the big frilly vulgar## garden centre pansies but I think these are a hoot.  They’re in a hanging basket because . . . because.  Stuff goes in where I’ve got a gap at the time that whatever it is is ERUPTING out of whatever it’s been in.  Plants grow.  Plants are supposed to grow.  You’re happy that they’re happy and growing.  But . . .

And two random old people caught walking through someone else's garden a while back.

And two random old people caught walking through someone else’s garden a while back.

This was another garden post I didn’t get around to organising . . .


* * *

* Which is more of a general store than just hardware.  You can buy teapots, tourist tat, slug bait, batteries and pet food at our ironmongers’.  And silver polish.  And for a few weeks in spring, snapdragons.  I may have bought those frilly pansies (see below) there too, last autumn.

** Metaphorical impact.

*** Although for your sanity’s sake, WATER THEM A LOT the end of summer.  Or all the flower buds will drop off . . . not at the time, so at least you know immediately you’ve screwed up, but just before they would have flowered, the following spring.  This is deeply traumatic.  It happened to me once or twice at the old house because the garden was so frelling huge it was easy to forget stuff, but I’ve had flowering camellias every year so far in my tiny town garden(s).  ::Pours a libation over the compost heap to the Camellia Gods::

Also, if they ever do invent a repeat-flowering camellia, it’ll probably need more sunlight to crank itself up for the second flush.  I have as many as I do because they’ll thrive in shadowy recesses where roses wouldn’t.

# . . . Probably including the following story . . .

## Since when did vulgar ever bother me?  ::Looks at feet, wearing black and brown sequin tiger striped All Stars::

Yarn Adventure and maybe some ranting


Fiona and I had a Yarn Adventure today.  And about time too:  we haven’t seen each other since November.  Life:  what a ratbag.

Admittedly there is usually a high gremlin count when Fiona and I get together but today they weren’t half trying.  We were going to set off at two, which in our case usually means before 2:30, well, maybe, if we’re lucky.  Fiona usually texts me as she leaves the house*.

No text.  Well, whatever, and we got on with hurtling and then with feeding me**.

Still no text.  Prepare to feed critters, since I was going to put it down as I left.  Sometimes this intrigues hellhounds sufficiently to stimulate them to eat.

Still no text.

Dither.  Feed critters.***

Okay, now I’m worried.  I have checked Pooka several times.  Nothing.

I’ve hung the laundry and washed all the lunch dishes† which is of course nicer to come home to but WHERE IS FIONA?

Pooka barks, and I make a slightly dish-soapy dive for her.  I have the feeling my texts aren’t getting through, says Fiona’s voice.  I HAVEN’T HEARD ANYTHING FROM YOU SINCE LAST NIGHT TILL THIS PHONE CALL.

Well, I’ll be there in three minutes, she said.  And as she rang off, Pooka chirruped and SEVEN MESSAGES POPPED THROUGH.  ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH.

The day improved from there however.  Our chosen yarn shop was having a MOVING TO NEW PREMISES sale and . . .

Fiona, as we know, has a slight Sock Yarn problem.

Fiona, as we know, has a slight Sock Yarn problem.

My problems are perhaps more general.

My problems are perhaps more general.

I’ve been wanting FEARLESS KNITTING for yonks but, you know, it persists in being full price.  The dark auburn yarn is Debbie Bliss Winter Garden which I have also wanted for yonks but it’s too frelling expensive, and the green and gold down front is Louisa Harding Grace Hand Beaded which etc.  And the other stuff is just . . . um . . . shiny?  And when a pattern book only costs £2 you only need to like one pattern in it. . . .

* * *

* This text will read ‘I’m running a little late because . . .’  Mind you, if she’s not running late, I’m in deep trouble.^  Today’s non-arriving text however informed me that her car had broken down and she was negotiating to borrow her parents’.

^ The hellhounds would like this.  It might mean I didn’t have time to FEED them before I left.  The hellterror, of course, would chew her way through the front door and come after me if I tried any such thing but I wouldn’t DARE.  Also feeding the hellterror is easy.  Open nearest tin, throw contents in general hellterror direction, add a handful of kibble if you’re feeling persnickety, and don’t stand too close or she’ll eat the toes off your shoes.  The hellhounds . . . it starts with cutting up the chicken scraps SMALL ENOUGH that Chaos, in particular, who has prehensile lips, can’t just hoover up the chicken, and you need to stir the kibble in really well because any that has not been touched by the magic chicken-stock wand will be instantly rejected as dry and tasteless and beneath delicate hellhound dignity.

Unfortunately for them, however, I had allowed time for the careful creation of appropriate hellhound comestibles.  It didn’t work though.  They still didn’t eat it.+  That look in Chaos’ eyes says:  if you didn’t mix it in so well I’d’ve at least eaten the chicken.

+ Do I have to bother to tell you that the hellterror ate hers?  No?  I didn’t think so.

** Moans of protest from the hellterror who is, furthermore, sitting on my feet, just to make sure I haven’t forgotten her.  YOU JUST ATE BREAKFAST TWO HOURS AGO.  YOU ARE NOT STARVING.  Also, sitting on my feet is counterproductive.  You are heavy.  You are obviously getting plenty to eat.^

^ I was out hurtling hellhounds recently.+   People frequently stop us to be goopy over them.  Mostly their admirers stick to telling me how beautiful they are, but occasionally someone wants to find it funny that we’re all skinny and leggy.  Hellhounds are also now quite grey in the face so we’re all skinny, leggy and old.  But some dork came up to us the other day and was in grave danger of rupturing himself over the sheer hilarity of owners who look like their dogs.++  I stared him in the eye.  I have a bull terrier at home, I said.  I did not mention the ‘mini’ part.  He stopped laughing and edged away prudently.

+ In my life I can always say I was out hurtling hellhounds recently.  And hellterror.

++ I wondered what his frelling problem is.  I have no idea, of course, but he was a big flashy maybe forty-ish dork, and looked a bit like someone who was maybe rolling into midlife crisis and in a mood to be snarky about some post-menopausal hag who is refusing to stay home with her TV and her memories but is out cluttering up the pavement wearing jeans, All Stars and long hair, and walking her dogs like she thinks she still has a purpose in life.  I don’t like big flashy forty-ish dorks who think looming over me and being scornful is a fun thing to do.#

# Speaking of testosterone poisoning, yesterday I was creeping up the hill to the mews in Wolfgang, which little journey is another of those absolutes in my life, going at 30 mph which happens to be the speed limit.  And I was passed by five motorcycles.  FIVE.  Streaking past, whing whing whing whing whing.  What the what the what the I can’t even.  And there is all this bushwa about how cars are supposed to be careful of motorcycles.  I don’t know if this is nationwide or just around here, but there are posters all over the landscape saying THINK BIKE.  How about if BIKERS think at all?  I’ve been a motorcyclist, as long-term readers of this blog know, and it is absolutely true that people driving cars can be amazingly stupid and dangerous about bikers and this is a large part of the reason I stopped driving a bike while I still had all my body parts intact . . . but the frelling majority of the motorcycle accidents around here are caused by male bikers being assholes:  yesterday at least I was only going 30.  Being passed by some dinglenut on a 60 mph road that is only just two lanes wide with hedgerows on either side . . . going around a curve?  Yes.  I have.

*** Ecstasy of the Hellterror.

† Except, of course, hellhound bowls, since they haven’t eaten anything.

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