October 31, 2014

Modern life

 

There is a law of the universe that says that any house you move out of always has at least one final carload of stuff left in it.  However many times you’ve been back for The Last Load–and whether or not there’s a new owner tapping his/her foot and holding his/her hand out for the key, which, fortunately, in this case, there is not.  But this is sort of the large economy size of the Sock Planet theorem, about where all those odd socks that ought to be in the bottom of the washing machine but aren’t, go.*  You’d need a galaxy at least for all those The House Is Empty It’s Empty I Tell You nooooooo there is nothing in those cupboards** carloads.  And there wasn’t anything in those cupboards when you frelling doodah frelling CLEARED THEM OUT THE LAST TIME.***

However. I finally went round to the estate agent to discuss getting the mews on the market and I have his recommendation of a Ruby-equivalent† coming in to do the hardcore houseclean before I let him in.

Real world progress. Hey golly wow.  I thought the house move might have been my real-world-engagement allocation for this century.

* * *

* Every time a sock DISAPPEARS^ I go into Sock Fetish^^ Overdrive.^^^ This happened recently^^^^ at the same time that a line of really nice socks went on SALE on a web site I am unfortunately on the email list of.  I don’t have to tell you I bought 1,000,000 of each colour, do I?  What do I do when they arrive?  Under the bed is already full of boxes full of yarn.~

^ I try to remember to check the back of Pav’s crate first. But trophy socks in the back of Pav’s crate are not always socks any more, although she rearranges the stitch patterns less than she used to.  She nestles more now.  This would be more awwwwww if it weren’t for the little evil eye twinkling at you.

^^ It’s not all that surprising I have a sock fetish. If I didn’t, my All Star fetish might get lonely.

^^^ I also have this silly habit of not throwing out the perfectly good twin of the sock that has disimproved into bad macramé.  After all, it’s a perfectly good sock.  So it goes into a tote bag+ with all the other single socks and occasionally I find two that amuse me as a pair . . . but then when they go in the laundry THERE ARE TWO ODD SOCKS. Now, I am not completely lost to logical thought and when there are two of them—especially when I put them together and they are AMUSING—I can probably figure out that it’s not a Sock Planet raid++ this time.

BUT SOMETIMES THE SOCKS IN THE TOTE BAG ESCAPE. AND THEN THERE ARE SINGLE ODD SOCKS EVERYWHERE. AAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH.  Of such things are nervous breakdowns made.+++

+ Which says something like ‘she is too fond of books and it has addled her brain’ or ‘keep calm and eat chocolate’.

++ Although I’d better check the back of Pav’s crate again. And possibly the hellhounds’.  Chaos is occasionally forced by inner disquietude to steal socks, although he usually steals the clean ones that I’m trying to put on to take hellhounds for a hurtle.  I have tried to explain to him that this is counterproductive but he just does the Dog Cute Head-Cocking Thing to prove that he is listening to me very intently and then steals my socks again the next time he’s feeling interiorly disquieted.  Darkness, who has different neuroses, looks in another direction wearing a long-suffering expression.  I have, however, explained to Chaos with great care that if he steals another Steeleye Span t shirt# he will die.

# Not that I don’t have, you know, several. The collection hasn’t reached the epic All Star proportions yet, but it’s moving in that direction.  Fiona and I went to a Steeleye Span concert recently and Steeleye’s regular merchandise man recognised me. Um . . .

+++ Some of us are more fragile than others.

^^^^ I think. See ^^^.

~ AND FURTHERMORE my tied-for-first-favourite on-line yarn shop is having another flaming dingdong sale. I mean, they do this a lot, which is why they are tied-for-first-favourite and evil drooling demons from the deepest regions of the really nasty end of hell+, but a fair number of these I can pass over, the eyelash and fake fur sale, yuck, the baby and kid stuff, life is too short, you get a bib when you’re born and then you’re on your own, the person-made fibres since I’m mostly a natural-fibre snob unless the colours are really insane or the glitter is really fabulous, anything to do with Kaffe Fassett whose patterns are the knitting and needlework version of eighty-seven bell change-ringing patterns that just looking at the line in the method book makes my head explode, and so on.  There are really quite a few yarn come ons that don’t make me sit up and whine.  Aaaaand then there are the ones that do . . . make me sit up and whine. Well, I ESCAPED a really hazardous offer just last week, for one of the heavier-weight wools so you’d be using bigger, fatter needles, which is good for slow clumsy knitters like me, and I did it by simply letting the time run out.  Of course I had to chain my credit card to a stake in the back garden and take the hellmob for a run for the last three hours but it worked. And then, the fiends in marketing pulled together a Halloween sale this week of a heterogeneous selection of yarns, needles, books and patterns . . . INCLUDING ALL THREE OF THE YARNS THAT HAD BEEN IN MY BASKET LAST WEEK AND THEY HAD SAVED MY BASKET.

The internet is way more dangerous than an alligator-infested swamp. God, give me simple temptations like another puppy++ or a new car+++ or a new computer++++ and simple perils like a herd of stampeding wildebeest or one of the middle treads of the stairs to the first floor of either the cottage or Third House dissolving into a wormhole gateway to another universe# or an alligator and boa-constrictor-infested swamp. Deliver me from the internet.##

+ Not the, you know, frelling end where the hellmob and I hang out.

++ NO.

+++ NO.

++++ Well . . . yes. Which is a rant for another evening.

# It needs to be a middle tread so after you’ve found the first step and you think you can go to sleep while your feet grind up to the top step where you’ll have to pay attention again.  If you don’t fall into an alternate universe.

## You know ‘What would Jesus do?’ Jesus would not have an iPhone. Or a Twitter account.~  Or a bedroom stuffed with tote bags full of yarn and so many more books than bookshelves he can only leap onto the bed from a narrow rift that was once a doorway before it kind of silted up.

~ He might have a blog, I suppose. You know, to tell parables in and so on.=

= And if you’re wondering why my mind seems to be running on the interesting challenges of modern-day Christianity HAVE I MENTIONED THAT MY STREET PASTOR TEAM GOT THE SHORT STRAW FOR THE FIFTH FRIDAY THIS MONTH AND WE’RE OUT TOMORROW NIGHT FOR HALLOWEEN. Eeep.

** Not to mention all the stuff you don’t see any more because it’s been where it is so long.  Oh, that table? . . . TABLE?

*** What?  I haven’t seen that^ in at least fifteen years.  And three house moves.  Speaking of alternate universes.

^ Vase, casserole dish, pair of socks, fossilised panettone+, large swirly marble preserved from childhood, antique doorknob, book that you have since replaced three times, significant-occasion-souvenir empty champagne bottle.++

+ Note date on bottom of package

++ Yes. I collect these too.  You aren’t surprised, are you?

† Although I don’t think there is a giant lethal marauding creature problem at the mews. But Charlie’s doesn’t have dog hair embedded in all the corners and serving as a felt-equivalent under the kitchen lino.

KES, 145

 

ONE FORTY FIVE

I didn’t see who led Monster up to me this time because I was busy panicking. Yes, I had survived my introduction to up-close-and-personal,  the-bad-guys-really-will-kill-you-if-they-can battle, and I’d survived it wearing nothing but a nightgown, but I’d gone into it having absolutely no clue what I was getting into.  Oh, sure, I’d written any number of tumultuous battle scenes, with blood and swords flying and dazzling feats of heroism and villainy on all sides, and if you’re going to do this well . . . never mind literary merit, let’s say evocatively or in a way to make your reader buy the next in the series you do need to engage with it, sitting in your comfortable apartment with the central heating and the air con and the well-stocked refrigerator, and Joe the Doorman downstairs stopping anything remotely resembling a bad guy before he (or she) has come three steps across the threshold.

However—big duh moment here—it’s different when it’s you having the interesting time amid the whirling havoc. Also, I’m like this about first attempts, although I’d never been through such a spectacular example before:  I’ll dare all kinds of things that first time, before my over-vivid imagination has a chance to catch up with the rest of me.  Once it does, look for me under the bed.  You can figure out which bed by following the whimpering noises.  My riding career was studded with these moments:  first time off the lunge rein, trotting free around the ring I was thrilled, and I did it pretty well too.  Second time I was a nervous wreck and upset not only my horse but my riding instructor.  First time jumping over something bigger than a pole on the ground?  Best moment of my life thus far, except I didn’t sleep at all that night and almost gave up riding forever.

Just as well I hadn’t, I thought fatalistically, as Monster stopped in front of me and Murac moved beside me, ready to throw me into the saddle again. I’d weigh more this time, with the chain mail, maybe flying through the air would be a little less like being shot out of a cannon, a little less alarming.  I’d be grateful for something being less alarming the second time.  Maybe he’d forget to allow for the mail and toss me like a skinny broad in a nightgown, I’d hit my head on Monster’s saddle and knock myself out.  And then I wouldn’t have to ride back into battle with all these morons yelling Defender at me.

Putting off the inevitable a moment longer, I put my hand on Monster’s shoulder.  All the whinnying stuff you get in movies is Hollywood, it’s not horses.  Horses are mostly pretty quiet.  It’s a big deal if your horse whinnies at you, and it’s probably because he’s hungry and hoping for food.  But Monster turned his head—whoever was leading him was hidden on his far side, I could just see an arm through a loop of rein—and while he didn’t whinny, he put his ears forward and his nostrils flickered in an almost-whinny.  Defender and Defender’s horse having a bonding moment.  Monster clearly didn’t know that he outclassed his rider by about half a gazillion parsecs.

My hand still on Monster’s shoulder I turned, desperately, to Murac. He was standing way too close because he was waiting to toss me up.  Way too close.  His hair was still wet.  His eyes were too steady on mine.  “I—don’t know what I’m doing,” I said.  I was conscious of the weight of the mail across my shoulders, draped several inches down my arms.  It was heavy enough it would slow my own paltry strength, dull what physical instincts I had.  Well it was Silverheart’s—and Glosinda’s—game anyway.  They’d know how to adapt.  Or this gang were going to need a new Defender really soon.

“I know,” said Murac, and stooped for my leg. My good leg, fortunately.  He grabbed and heaved.  I shot up into the air again but to the perfect height this time—the perfect height for managing to clear my bad leg before I came down with a thump.  Monster stood like a rock, of course, his ears now tipped back toward me, although presumably war horses were trained to put up with being mounted from either side, in expectation of certain of the unpredictable exigencies of warfare.   One of Flowerhair’s more exciting escapes had been dependent on her horse staying steady as she came blasting out of the shadows and dived for the saddle—from the wrong side.  He did, but she didn’t wait to be fully astride—she seized a handful of mane and yelled Go! and he went.  Circus pony stuff, with her dangling from his off side.  But she and the Gentleman had been together a long time.

It wasn’t exactly news that Murac knew that I didn’t know what I was doing.  It shouldn’t hurt.  It didn’t hurt.

I rubbed a hand down Monster’s neck, feeling for the cut.  There it was . . . it hadn’t been sewn, it had been glued together somehow.  I sniffed my fingers:  there was a strong green smell, like plant sap.  Why couldn’t they have done that with my leg?

I was finally ready to look back at Murac who was waiting, apparently, for me to look at him. “We follow tha anyway,” he said.

Last flash

 

I almost wrote ‘slash’ and remembered that this could be misinterpreted in Today’s Internet . . . I just now had a last crash, then, through last night’s reddit AMA, answering most of the latecomers and adding a few twirly bits to earlier conversations.  If anyone’s interested.  The Nice Man sent me some figures today and said that it was a good AMA and I’m glad he thought so because it seemed pretty good to me but then most of the posters wanted to tell me how great my books are and that does kind of sway a writer’s attitude. . . . Thanks again to everyone who posted, I enjoyed it too.   But I’m also glad to be back to my footnotes.*  The reddit formatting didn’t ALLOW footnotes.  It’s about the only complaint I have.

I did say once or twice, questions I wasn’t answering during the AMA because my brain was melting under the strain, feel free to post them to the forum here–or for that matter Twitter or Facebook although I’m even less reliable** on both of those virtual-social real-timewasters than I am here.  But if anyone reading this has a BURNING question, whether or not they’ve asked it 1,000,000 times before in a wide variety of media, you can try asking it again saying ‘the reddit AMA reminded me that I’ve always wondered blah blah blah’ or thereabouts and I’ll try to pay attention.  Of course it’s always possible that I keep blowing you off because I don’t want to–or can’t–answer your question, but you might finally get that much out of me.***  Maybe.  I’m really world class in the disorganised and absent-minded**** stakes.

Anyway.  So long.  And THANKS for all the fish. . . .

* * *

*  YAAAAAAY.

** I realise this is slightly mind-boggling.  My unreliability pretty much starts in the negative numbers and approaches absolute zero with breathtaking speed.

***  I don’t know!  You don’t want to know!  Mercury is in retrograde!  Please go away!

**** And whimsical.  Or you could say cranky, but that would be unkind after I’ve just spent ALL THAT TIME answering questions.

AMA link is live

 

Anyone in England who doesn’t stay up late, or anyone in America who has other plans for the evening, or anyone in [insert other part of the world] who can’t make the official AMA live time for whatever reason good and  significant to you, you can post questions NOW.

Reddit – Robin McKinley AMA

Niall has convinced me I really need to go bell ringing tonight, but as the AMA intro says I’ll be back later to answer questions.  Having a look at the ones already up . . . I may have blog material for the next several years . . . .

THANKS, ALL YOU ASKERS.

PS:  And for those of you unaccustomed to internet society wailing brokenly about the need to create a reddit account to post a question–and I am totally with you on this:  I only joined up because I’d agreed to the gig–the Nice Man says:

There is a link towards the upper-right corner of the page that says “login or register.” All they need to do is pick a username and password, and fill in the text thing to prove they’re not a robot. No personal information is needed; even an email address is optional. 

 

Italics mine. Hey, I did the register thing.  You can too.

 

 

Ask me anything*

 

I’m doing one of reddit fantasy’s Ask Me Anything, AMA, sessions this Thursday, the day after tomorrow [as I write during what is to me still Tuesday night]. The poor suck—the nice man who originally invited me and is attempting to shepherd me through the technical aspects of this gig** says that if you go here:  http://www.reddit.com/r/fantasy

. . . while you’re waiting you can poke around*** and when the AMA session goes ‘live’ at approximately noon (American) Central Time on Thursday the link will go up on that page. The game plan seems to be that I (or rather the Nice Man, which means I have to have written it in advance for him to deal with) post(s) a brief introductory doodah at noon as part of the going-live process, and people post questions then if they feel like it.  Perhaps I drift in during reddit’s idea of afternoon (my idea of evening) and answer any of these there are and maybe I don’t, but I do show up for live-ish keyboard interaction around 6 pm Central time which I think is midnight mine, and respond—I do not say answer—any and all questions then.  I admit midnight is not particularly late by my standards [hey it’s past 4 am where I’m sitting] but it is late to be articulate to/with a bunch of strangers.†  If I were living in the same part of the galaxy as the reddit fantasy admin the AMAs usually go live at about 8 pm—as some of you, who’ve been to talk to other authors, already know—but it’s going to be early with me.  If the conversation suddenly heats up at 2 am I’ll stay on, but the alternative, if people are absent-mindedly expecting it to have begun at 8 pm reddit time and show up after I’ve left to give the hellmob its final hurtle††, is to post questions anyway and I’ll come back on the far side of sleep and caffeine and answer them then.

One or two guidelines: I can’t tell you when PEG II or III will be out because I don’t know.  I said pretty much all I have to say on that burdensome topic in the ebook-announcement post: I’m working on the rest of the PEGASUS story, sure, and believe me I’d finish it yesterday if I could. But I can’t.  I am finding the writing experience lately like cleaning the Houses of Parliament with a toothbrush or watering the Sahara with a teacup.  I’d rather prune Souvenir de la Malmaison††† without full body armour and a face mask than face the PEG II file.  I’m getting calluses and tendonitis from clutching my forehead/chair/nearest hellcritter.  So you can ask when PEG II and III will be out, but don’t expect a useful answer.

And, speaking of useful answers, there’s still no sequel to SUNSHINE. And there are at last count approximately three hundred and twelve Third Damar Novels, but I haven’t written any of them.‡

Some authors are more perverse than others. You might want to embroider that on a sampler.  But do come round on Thursday at whatever o’clock and ask me about roses or dogs or bell ringing or life as an American expat in England or knitting (badly) or singing (worse) or even about suddenly and involuntarily converting to Christianity two years ago and coming all over social-welfare volunteering like a bad case of measles.‡‡  I’m still cranky though.

* * *

* . . . answers not guaranteed. But then you blog readers know that already.

** AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH.

*** It’s frelling HUGE. I keep getting lost.

† So, you know, please come hang out so it’s not all strangers.

†† And wave at passing patrol cars

††† Which in my tiny garden is presently about twenty feet by twenty feet and putting on a rather amazing autumn show for a rose known for not repeating in this climate. She is also implicated in the disappearance of several annoying small children and neighbourhood cats which insist on crapping in Third House’s flowerbeds, but we don’t know anything about that, except to say that a rose responds well to generous feeding and I’m delighted she has settled in so happily.

‡ Please try to remember that I can only write what I am given to write.   The Damar stories are there—like PEG II and III are there—like the frelling sequel to SUNSHINE is there—but I can’t write them because they haven’t come to me in writable form.  It’s like one of those scenes out of Dickens—or Frances Hodgson Burnett—when the main character is standing on the wrong side of a window watching other people having a good time.  You can see what everybody is wearing and eating, you can see the champagne sparkling in the glasses, you can see who’s flirting with whom, you can maybe even hear a faint echo of the live music.  But you can’t go in because you weren’t invited.  And besides there doesn’t seem to be a door.

‡‡ Which also makes a change occasionally from staring at the frelling blank page . The eleventh commandment:  Do what you can.

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