June 30, 2014

Weather drama – guest postlet by Blogmom

Fuzzy weather drama photo courtesy of our neighbor’s iPhone. Fortunately it wasn’t as close as it looks.

Prairie weather is never boring. We call it the Sky Show.

KES, 137

ONE THIRTY SEVEN

 

If you google ‘fainting’ you’ll get a lot of stuff about blood pressure and dehydration and low blood sugar.  Nobody seems interested in whether your visual-pathway neurons are still firing or not, or, if they are, what your brain thinks it’s seeing, even if your eyes have rolled up in your head and your body is doing an excellent wet-cardboard imitation.  I haven’t fainted often, but the few times have been memorable.  My cerebral cortex apparently says, Hey!  We’re free of stupid reality!  Let’s party!

There was a scrubby grey wilderness and a little hissing wind.  This wasn’t the uncanny desert of the black thing and its behemothic sword;  there were trees, and a path through the trees, but the trees were grey and tired and the path looked like it was kept open only because it was being regularly used;  it was rough and crooked as if whoever had first knocked a hole in the undergrowth had been stumbling in the dark and nobody following had had the time or the concentration to make better choices.  It wasn’t a path or a landscape that anyone would be on or in if they didn’t have to be.

Your POV when you’ve fainted and your parietal lobe is doing the hokey pokey with your cerebellum and your Brodmann areas is kind of peculiar.  Or mine is anyway.  It’s not wholly unlike the mind frame I get in when I’m deep in a story, and I’m wherever the story wants me to be, which may be several places at once:  Character A is avoiding getting hacked to death on the battlefield (very funny my mind producing that image just now ha ha ha), Character B is frantically trying to come up with a bribe that will make the evil magician release his sweetheart, the evil magician isn’t terribly interested in any bribes Character B is likely to have on offer because he’s preoccupied with how the battle is going and the sweetheart is gnawing through her manacles having first sung the guard dragon to sleep, because the poor helpless fragile little virgin thing is all an act, and Character B may have a shock coming.  This is rather more than the standard 360-degree view, trust me.  And if the story drops you in it and you’re not absolutely on form, writing your way out of all the flap and fluster may get a little ragtag.  This is why rewrites were invented.

I could see the trees and the path, and I could feel that they were out in the middle of nowhere although I had a sense of farms and towns over . . . there, somewhere.  And as the farms and towns drew closer together, and the towns grew larger and larger till a few enterprising businesspersons discovered it was worth their while to start haulage companies, there was a castle.  And in a room high in a tower at one end of the castle there was a gorgeously-dressed woman sitting at a desk, writing.  At her feet was a silky golden sighthound.  She was writing as if her life depended on it.  I hoped she was on form.

I was not sorry not to be writing whatever story was causing her such anxiety and apprehension, but if it had meant I could sit at a desk instead of being passed out in the arms of a middle-aged mercenary of dubious reliability while some torturer repeatedly sank a dagger-sized needle in my leg, I’d have a go.  Although the goose quill and inkwell were outside my skill set.

Her castle looked like it might have been designed by the same architect who had designed the tower in the middle of the tired grey forest, although if it was the same architect, he or she hadn’t been getting enough sleep and had been hitting the illegal substances a little too hard while the tower had been on the drafting table.  There was something ever so slightly wrong about its proportions, although that might have been the oppressive effect of the dull sooty-black stone it was made of, a dullness so determinedly nonreflective that the tower gave the impression that it was sucking up the light around it;  as if it was the tower’s fault that the landscape was grey, that the trees were grey rather than green and brown, that where the crooked path had worn deep into the ground the exposed tree-roots and shoulders of stone and bare earth were grey.

The black tower was huge.  Why had it been built out here in a wilderness?  The narrow bumpy path that led to it now would never have taken carts big enough to carry the stones it was made out of, so unless there was some grisly yoked slave transport involved, or a four-lane highway on the far side that I’d missed, the tower was old enough for some pretty serious trees to have grown up to crowd in on the path.

I did something that if I’d been in my body would have counted as squinting.  There was a bird flying—no, soaring—no, hovering—over the black tower.  It had that raptor look to it.

And if it was hovering it might be a kestrel.

Ever new vistas of arrrrrrrgh

 

You were due to get a blog post tonight and I have stomach flu.  As these things go it’s mild* but it’s knocked my energy level over and squashed it flat, because that’s what happens when you have ME and some blasted interfering ‘acute’ comes along and joins the party.

Meanwhile I had my observation duty at the Samaritans last night—and was aware of feeling a little peaky** but that might have been tension level***—and I have my first official duty shift tomorrow.  And I’m going.  So let’s hope I can sit in a chair and speak in complete sentences, okay?  I want to do this.  And I don’t want my mentor to have to do it for me because I’m convulsing on the floor.  Arrrrrrrgh.

* * *

* May it stay mild, thank you very much

** I’ve actually been peaky most of this week, the kind of peaky that makes me think ‘oh help the ME is getting worse I’m not going to be able to keep on floundering through as much stuff as I do if this is settling in to be the new system’—also PAIN.  Golly.  I really do not like pain and it makes me CRANKY^ and at my age it also makes me feel dangerously old.  Having the intensification of the ME coalesce into something like stomach flu, which can reasonably be presumed will go away again, is actually a relief.^^

^ I would have been such a bad martyr.  I wouldn’t have forgiven anybody.

^^ This is how acutes tend to manifest with me, that the ME gets worse and then as if spits out the acute.+  But of course during the run up I don’t think ‘oh I must be coming down with something’ I think OH WOE MY LIFE IS OVER.

+ Not everyone with ME follows this pattern but it is a common one.

*** There weren’t any ordinary people who just wanted a chat last night—yes the Sams get those although that’s not what they’re for—YEEEEP.  The Sams really are the sharp end.  Yeeeeeep.  I was there mid-shift so I could watch the handover, the point being that there’s always someone available to answer a ringing phone and there’s always a debrief every shift with the admin^, so I had a chance to speak to four duty-shift Sams plus my mentor^^ plus yesterday’s admin head and I was saying yeeeeep and they were all saying sympathetically, well, yes.  That’s what we do.

It has come up constantly from the first information evening when you’re still deciding whether to apply or not that the Sams support their people.  What the Samaritans do is rough.  And you can’t take it home with you or you won’t be able to do the job for long.  Hence constant, structured checking from admin and colleagues that you’re okay.

The other crucial aspect of this is the Sams’ rule of ABSOLUTE CONFIDENTIALITY.  The only people you’re allowed to discuss Sams’ callers with is other Sams.  And I had a little taste of what this is going to mean in practise last night.  Intellectually I totally get it and totally agree with it too—that’s what makes the Sams such a great resource.  Have something that’s eating holes in you that you either have no one to discuss it with or you just can’t discuss it with friends and family?  Ring the Sams.  You can tell them anything, they’ll not only listen, it won’t go any farther.  Terminally ill and want to talk about death but your family are all in denial?  Ring the Sams.  Suicidal from the break-up that everyone thinks is your fault because they won’t hear the truth about your ex-partner?  Ring the Sams.  Your dog died and nobody gets it that it matters?  Ring the Sams.

But to engage, to empathise, as a Sam you do have to get alongside whoever you’re talking to.  And you also have to put it down again when you put the phone down.

I’ll learn to do this—as I told my mentor I’m reasonably confident about the long term:  short term is the yeeeeeep—but the new skill is not being able to talk about it.  I’m a girl.  When stuff gets to me I find a friend to talk it through with.  It’s what girls do.  I wrote a couple of emails to friends last night and I probably sounded pretty distracted because what I was chiefly thinking about was what I couldn’t say. ^^^  Grim stuff is undoubtedly more of a burden when you can’t ask a trusted friend to help you lever it off and lay it down.

^ The admin are all practising Sams too.  They know what you’re doing, what life on the, ahem, line is.

^^ Whom I like a lot, by the way.  I feel in safe hands with her:  that she’ll catch me if I screw up but she won’t make me feel like a retarded liver fluke for screwing up.

^^^ It’ll be easier once I’ve made some friends in the Sams.  The Street Pastors keep schtum too but since most of what we do happens in public and out on the street the lockdown isn’t as absolute.  And I went into the SPs as one of four from St Margaret’s, the other three of whom were already my friends by the time I started doing duty shifts.  Clearly I need to send that email to the other five trainees of my Sams intake saying, so what about meeting up for that beer then?

† What you guys really want to be hoping/praying/dancing around bonfires for however is that I’m sufficiently alive and functioning to tweak another chapter of KES and release her to the world Saturday night.

Missed photo ops and other critter interactions

 

So my pale blue and white floral cotton jeans are in the washing machine.  Today I’m wearing a pair of pale khaki light cotton jeans.  Why do clothing manufacturers seem to think that small children stop being sticky and dogs stop having muddy feet and we all stop being clumsy just because it’s SUMMER?  Pastels are overrated.  At least below the waist.  I even used a proper mop on the kitchen floor this morning before I let the menagerie out on the theory that at least I won’t get dirty knees from kneeling on it.  Until everybody has gone out into the courtyard and tramped what they find there indoors again which is why kneeling on my kitchen floor generally produces dirty knees.  I was playing our standard morning maniacal tug of war with the hellterror* AND DISCOVERED A SPOT OF BLOOD ON MY PALE KHAKI LEG.  . . . And could find no trace of bloodshed on either the hellterror** or me.  So clearly it was just a random drop of blood coalescing out of nothingness by the irresistible attraction of a pair of clean pale khaki trousers.  Sigh.  Washing machine and spot remover.

Then while I was chopping veg for the hellterror’s breakfast*** I was gazing out the window while the hellterror in question twined around my ankles like a cat, hoping for dropsies.  And lo and behold there was daddy robin and two fledglings variously perched on the suet feeder.  Daddy robin can just stretch his neck through the squirrel-discouraging wiring to reach the fat-with-dead-bugs slab, yum—I think I’ve told you before that the wire cage is supposed to let small birds through but my resident robin is about half the size of a hellterror.  Of course by the time I got the hellterror fed—once you are clearly getting a hellterror meal you had better not stop till this task is completed†—and could fetch my camera the robins had left the feeder and were sprinting about the garden, but I’m glad to see that there was some baby-robin action here this year, and the way they were behaving I suspect the nest is tucked into my jungle somewhere.  The parents scorned my greenhouse after all the excitement last year with the wall falling down and the weeks of strange men and barrowfuls of mortar.  Enough to put any reproductively-minded robin off I’m sure.  Maybe next year.  I have a bit of greenhouse shelf permanently sacrificed to the possibility of a bird’s nest.

But the truly tragic photo op miss was a couple of days ago at the mews.  Wolfgang and I drove in to discover Peter’s next door neighbours staring fixedly at the brick wall the mews, and Peter’s cottage as number one, is built against and out of, and which is covered in roses.  Wolves? I inquired hopefully.  No, no, they said, a song thrush is shepherding her just-fledged babies on an excursion.

Sure enough there were three little floppy-fluttery things and mum having a shrieking meltdown.  And as I stopped to watch, one of them took waveringly to the air, zigzagged vaguely for a second or two, decided that I had a safe, tree-like look about me . . . and landed on my butt.  A baby bird weighs zilch but I felt its wings, and I could feel the faint scrabbling as it got at least one foot in my hip pocket.††  Mum was having a total heart attack in the shrubbery and the neighbours were going off in conniptions.  Har de har har.  The fledgling got its breath back and decided a spot of mountaineering was in order and started clambering up my back.  I bent over because I’m a very nice, cooperative tree.  It was a hot day and I was wearing a very thin cotton tee shirt and the tiny claws prickle.  Peter heard the commotion and opened the door, Fledgling A launched a dive off my back . . . and Fledgling B, not to be outdone, took to the air in its turn and flew through Peter’s door.

Whereupon we had shrieking mum in the shrubbery and shrieking baby frantically boomeranging around the front hall and trying to cram itself into nonexistent cracks in the stairs.  You know how you’re always afraid of hurting them?†††  So it took me several tries to get hold of it in a way I thought wouldn’t damage the little idiot—and I remember Penelope, who was a bird ringer in her day, saying that if you get them gently but firmly around the body with their wings trapped and just their heads sticking out, they’ll quiet down.  WHY?  But this one did just that—teeny heart going so fast it was nearly a buzz—and I’m muttering, Don’t die of shock!  Don’t die of shock!, and I put it carefully down on the top of the water butt, which is quite a substantial space if you’re not much bigger than a bumblebee, and mum yelled at it to stop messing about and come home, and it did.  The third fledgling had spent all this time staying obediently put in the shrubbery and it’s not going to have any stories to tell its grandchildren.

However nobody whipped out their smartphone and took a picture.  But I can at least tell you about it.

* * *

* Speaking of photo ops.  I should figure out a miner’s-helmet camera deal so as to get a close-up shot of bull terrier playing tug of war, with the little pointed ears flat back in intensity, the little forehead furrowed in concentration, the little evil eyes gleaming and the jaws of death clamped for glory around the Yellow Rubber Thing.  It is an awesome sight.

** Who was of course happy to be rolled around for examination.  All rolling and rubbing is good to a hellterror.

*** She gets veg in her meals because it means more food.  If I was just giving her wet food and kibble there would be less food.  More food is always good, like rolling and rubbing is always good.  Rules of life if you’re a hellterror are blissfully simple.

† Hellhounds of course would be saying, mount an expedition to the Antarctic before we get fed?  Great.  Don’t hurry back.

†† Usefully pre-flattened by hellterror hind feet.

††† I’ve told you about trying to catch an escaped lamb, haven’t I?  This was out in the wilderness with no obvious farmer to apply to.  I tied the hellhounds up at one end of the fence and started driving it toward them, assuming that it would not want to go that way and I could get hold of it.  I did get hold of it—mum on the other side of the fence having an ovine heart attack, which seems to be the fate of mums—but lamb skin is vastly bigger than the lamb, like puppy skin, I was afraid of hurting it . . . and it got away.  I did find a farmer to tell however.

Yes we are

 

. . . moving house.  Removal men with rippling muscles and a large lorry are coming 1 AugustYessssssss.  Any of you of a praying persuasion please pray it goes no more catastrophically than these things usually do.  And more important that Peter finds he positively likes it there at Third House once he’s in.  Any of you not of a praying persuasion are nonetheless welcome to dance supplicatorily around bonfires dedicated to minor deities who ease tiresome mortal rites of passage like house moves.  I personally prefer Jesus, but I’ll take any good will on offer.

And minions of British Telecom, that delightfully efficient and customer-oriented corporation, are coming the day before to install necessary wiring because, as regular blog readers may recall, BT declares that there are no lines to Third House, that eighty or ninety year old cottage in the centre of town and with a phone jack in the kitchen which you might think BT would find a little embarrassing.  HOWEVER we have got round my bootless fury on this topic first by the fact that we’re going to want wireless broadband and the connections for that probably do need to be updated from whenever . . . and second I just caved when the very loud, relentlessly cheerful woman who was brokering the deal rushed past the part about how they’d do all this for free if we bought their broadband.  So we’re buying their broadband.  And I am a weak, cringing worm.  Yes.  I just want it over with.

Eleanor finished cleaning Third House’s kitchen today.*

Jonas, who is a builder by trade and can do anything, is plumbing in the dishwasher because all the local plumbers are booked until Christmas 2017.

Atlas is getting on with carving out the Desk Aperture.**

Nina and Ignatius are coming twice this week to do anything someone else hasn’t got to first.  They may make a start on clearing the space for my shed.  And I may ask Ignatius to put up some shelves, since there is only one of Atlas and he only has two hands.  Fie.  You’d think someone who works in three dimensions for a living would have at least four.

And the hellhounds ate lunch for the first time in weeks.***

But too much stuff working might go to my head.  So the ME gallantly stepped in at this point and slapped me down.†  ARRRRRRGH.††  Therefore I think I’ll make one of my hilarious attempts to go to bed early.††† Night night.

* * *

* She has been giving me a very hard time about all the things I won’t let her throw away.  That’s a perfectly usable jar!  Leave it alone!  She even thinks I have too many books.  Friendships have been lost over comments like these.  But not when someone is cleaning your kitchen for free.

** I’m failing to get on with finding somewhere to put all the books thus made homeless.  See previous footnote.

*** Don’t get too excited.  They didn’t eat dinner.

† Do I really need the ME too?  It’s not like the next few weeks are going to be arid with ease and perfection.   In the first place I still have 1,000,000 phone calls to make to/about various which will be quite lowering enough when 60% or so produce the equivalent of all the local plumbers being booked till Christmas 2017.  I’m reminding myself we already own the house, no one can gazump us, that medieval torture device that has somehow been allowed to live on in the laws of England, Third House is in the same town and only half of us are moving anyway.  Hey, my piano is moving!  That counts!  Also the hellhounds are sure to Faint in Coils which will fail to be edifying.   But it could be a lot worse.  Hold that thought.

†† It’s The Little Things.  My last clean white shirt this morning had a big black spot at the centre of the neckline WHAAAAAAT??  I got the worst of it out with a sponge and wore it anyway.  Then I put on my pale blue white floral cotton jeans which are automatically a calamity magnet because of the colour.  And I was out in the garden this morning examining something or other while Pav had her morning pee and she galloped up to me and sprang . . . leaving giant muddy footprints all over my pale blue with white flowers jeans ARRRRRRRRGH.  There was language.  Pav ignored this, of course, because it had nothing to do with her.  She usually does jump on me first thing in the morning . . . but this usually happens indoors, I’ve never taught her not to^, and the only reason the garden was muddy is because I’ve been WATERING because we haven’t had any rain in yonks.^^  ARRRRRRRRGH.  Well I’m wearing the blotched up jeans anyway too, but everything goes in the washing machine tonight.

^ Theoretically she knows ‘off’.  She doesn’t know ‘don’t jump up in the first place you muddy-footed monster’.  Usually I find being jumped on by a thrilled-I-exist bull terrier ridiculously charming.

^^ It’s been long enough that a few Souvenir de la Malmaison roses have been unable to contain themselves to wait to go brown and mouldy in the next major downpour and have popped out properly.  It only takes a few to make my entire tiny walled garden smell divine.

††† HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  I kill myself, I really do.

It’s too hot to sleep anyway.  It’s not hot hot but it’s that kind of hot that sits on your chest like an incubus and won’t let you breathe.

 

Next Page »