February 24, 2016

Things not to try at home or anywhere else

 

I set fire to my hair the other night. Oops.

It was very exciting for a second or two. I smelled that unmistakable frying-hair smell at the same time as I felt something odd happening on the top of my head—at the same time as Ruby, across the restaurant table from me, screamed, and we were descended on by several staff—at the same time as I jerked upright and away from the innocent candle sitting in its little dish next to the salt and pepper and a random flower in a vase.  I managed to burn my hand too by slapping at my hair while grabbing my heavy linen napkin* and whacking it down over my head a scant inch or two in front of Ruby diving across the table with hers.**

So I have a tiny frizzly patch on the crown of my head. My hair hasn’t been itself since menopause*** and while frizzle is never a good look I haven’t had a good hair day in about a decade and there is no effect† for it to ruin.

Don’t do bereavement, everyone.  It sucks on so many levels.  I’ve broken so much china I’m tempted to buy evil planet-destroying off-gassing melamine and get it over with.  Apparently I’m branching out into self-arson.

However.

Ruby was here nearly a week.†† We hung out.  We talked and talked and talked and talked AND TALKED AND TALKED.  We got through a surprising amount of therapeutic champagne.††† We had high tea at a tea shop that understands proper British high tea. Scones, clotted cream, the lot.  It’s surprising how few self-described tea shops do any more.  We made a special excursion to Winchester Cathedral because of the shop where you can get EVERYTHING branded with the Winchester Cathedral logo:  tea mugs, tea towels, tea bags, candles, pencils, note pads . . .  chocolate.  Ruby had to go home with gifts, after all.  I bought a Winchester Cathedral eraser. It’s shaped like a book and it’s PINK.‡  We went round to Niall’s and made her ring handbells.‡‡  We slogged across a lot of soggy Hampshire countryside with an assortment of hellcritters.  She’s another of my oldest and dearest friends.‡‡‡  And it was GREAT having her here.§  Except for the part about her going away again.  Sigh. . . . .

* * *

* It had never occurred to me before that restaurants provide heavy linen napkins just in case any of their customers are recently bereaved idiots who may set fire to themselves. If I’d done this at home I’d have had to hit myself with a hellhound.

** Staff were presumably approaching with a fire hose or possibly an order for committal to the nearest residential facility. Fortunately they restrained themselves.

*** SOME DAY I MUST change that mini icon photo of me with short hair that appears everywhere. I had short hair for about a year and a half when menopause made so much of it fall out I was seriously thinking about wigs.  But I couldn’t stand being fussed over having it cut every month or so UGGGGGGGH and after a while I just stopped having it cut which meant it . . . er . . . grew long again.  I’ve never had a lot of hair but it has just enough wiggle—I won’t dignify this by calling it curl—that it looks thicker than it is.  If I had any pride now I’d keep it short, but enough of it grew back in, still slightly wiggly, when I stopped having it cut that I’ve let it be long again, which it had been since my sophomore year of high school.  AND AT LEAST THIS MEANS NO ONE BUT ME IS MESSING WITH IT.

† Note however I had gone bolshie earlier in the evening when we were dressing up for our night out. I wore my black denim mini.^  Yes.  I’m sixty-three years old.  Sue me.  With heavy black tights I don’t even scare the horses.  Over Sixties of the World Still Wearing Miniskirts, UNITE.  Cross dressers welcome.  So long as you respect the heavy black tights obligation to society.

^ With the fabulous black and white rhinestone belt Peter gave me. Sigh.

†† I meant to write the official Three Houses blog before she arrived but various things got in the way, things like all the frelling emergencies that have been waiting, till you’re distracted by the final illness and death of your brutally, constantly, stunned-ly missed husband, to rain down on your head like—er—flaming arrows. The letter from the water board, for example, informing me that they have PROOF that I’m Niagara flipping Falls and are charging me accordingly^ and the letter from another brisk and competent branch of local government telling me that the loft conversion at Third House was never properly inspected—HOW MANY YEARS AGO WAS THAT AND THEY’RE ONLY JUST NOTICING?????—and they want all the paperwork I haven’t seen since I wrote the final cheque to the builders LIKE I CAN FIND ANYTHING RIGHT NOW, plus things like the ginormous wodge of paperwork from Her Majesty’s Customs, Revenue and Red Hot Poker^^ Service that arrived a few days ago and starts off saying ‘I am so sorry for the loss of your husband and I understand that there is a lot going on for you right now, including the six-inch-thick stack of paperwork included with this letter which must be filled out in triplicate in the next forty-eight hours or I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog(s) too.’

^ Yes. I’m metered.  Life in town.  I remind myself that Peter has a point about being walking distance of the shops and that I need to shut up and deal.  But I am not Niagara Falls.  Unless the hellterror has learnt to turn the taps on when I’m not at home.  I wouldn’t put it past her.

^^ There seems to be a slightly fiery theme to this post. Hmmm.

††† I said therapeutic and I meant THERAPEUTIC. Yes.^

^ And it was the BEGINNING of the evening when I set fire to my hair. I was still ABSOLUTELY SOBER.  Which I admit is not comforting, but not much is at the moment.  Comforting, I mean.

‡ I went into Idle Browse Mode the way you do in a shop when you’re there mostly for the person you’re with, and I saw something—I don’t even remember what it was any more—and thought, oh, that’ll amuse Peter!, and I had my hand out to pick it up when I remembered. . . .

‡‡ Hee hee hee hee. Well, she liked Niall’s brownies.

‡‡‡ Oldest is relative. She’s younger than I am.  But the friendship is old.

§ I took her to the monks last Saturday. Even by the monks’ standards last Saturday was AMAZINGLY COLD. AMAZINGLY. She got in Wolfgang^ afterward looking like someone who had been found under an ice floe in Antarctica having lost all hope of being found before the ice worms got her. She’s now very impressed with my commitment to my faith.^^  And she’s known for decades that I’m in the top category of dangerously nutso so no surprises there.

^ Who has a new bumper. I was carless for a week, RIGHT BEFORE RUBY ARRIVED+, after he SPECTACULARLY failed his road test—more oops—like I didn’t know he was going to, since Her Majesty’s Division of Road Rage has no sense of humour or practical reality and was going to object to the bumper tied on with wire.  And they did object, or at least the bloke with the clipboard did.  IT WORKS FINE, TIED ON WITH WIRE.  I think I told you some creepazoid slammed into me in the hospital car park early last autumn and my only thin wispy comfort (although comfort is not the word here either) was the thought that they were probably as crazy and frantic and clueless as I was myself at that point.

But the bumper, unfortunately, was only the beginning. And they wouldn’t let me have him back till they’d mended him.  And it wasn’t till they finally DID let me have him back and the mechanic was going through the list with me that I realised it was all little stupid crap. Expensive little stupid crap, but still little and stupid.  WOLFGANG LIVES.++

+ Hellhounds and I walked out to Warm Upford the evening before the morning I was picking Ruby up at 11:30, to fetch the car I needed to pick her up with. We didn’t know till the day before that if the final obscure replacement parts would arrive in time.  And I hate suspense.

++ He’s also officially 20 years old this year.  I know I tend to exaggerate& about things but calling him my 20-year-old car for the last couple of years hasn’t been exaggerating.  I’ve just been rounding up.&&

& ::hums a little tune::

&& Warning: I’ve started saying that I was with Peter for a quarter century.  That’s less of a round-up than you think:  we missed our 24th wedding anniversary by a few days under a fortnight.  But if you count from the end of July—the famous weekend in Maine—and which we tended to count from, he died five months after our 24th.#

# I said to Alfrick at some point~ when I was at the abbey weeping wildly~~ that while I had told Peter I wanted our 25th wedding anniversary together~~~ if I wasn’t going to have that, 23 years (and eleven and a half months) was somehow more interesting than 24 years.  Alfrick said immediately, of course.  Twenty-three is a prime number.  —Which is what Peter would have said.  And agreed with.

~ I don’t think I’ve told you this before.   But when I say that my memory, always pretty dire, is into the seriously frightening category@, believe me.

@ I broke yet another plate a day or two ago.  Maybe I’m manifesting some three-dimensional metaphor about having a broken cash flow?  Or maybe I’m just trying to cut down on the amount of STUFF I need to deal with?%  I feel there are better ways to perform this latter function.

% And the little/Daughter of Third/Gwendolyn house’s name is the Lodge. Niall, who if he weren’t a polite reserved British bloke would fall down laughing every time I refer to the difficulties and disadvantages of owning THREE houses, especially about having no money and getting really bad deals when you try to trade bricks or light fixtures for dog food=, said a week or two ago, so what does that make it?  The gate house, the lodge?  YES.  THE LODGE.  IT IS THE LODGE HOUSE.  It does, after all, front on the main road;  the cottage is tucked away up the cul de sac behind.

= ESPECIALLY the light fixtures at Third House that I never got round to replacing. Remember the plastic baronial hall candelabra? Brrrrrrrrrr.

~~ The real purpose of a spiritual adviser is to provide the box of tissues since the advisee will have already used all of hers up. There have been meetings with Alfrick recently when I got through most of a loo roll.  The abbey tissue boxes are ridiculously small.  Yo, Central Ecclesiastical Supply Co Ltd, LARGER TISSUE BOXES.

~~~ It’s not like I’m not going to remember, next 3 January, even if I meanwhile have been kidnapped by some beefcake pasha out of an early Mozart opera.  I’ll remember, and Peter won’t be there.

^^ So am I. I am generally speaking the modern first world’s coldest human.+  I am cold all the time except briefly during heat waves when I’m too hot.  Ruby is not in my league.  But she does live in New York City++, Town of Large Overheated Buildings, and it amused me a lot the way she clung to the Aga.

+ I’m known colloquially at the monks’ as The Blanket Lady.

++ One of the reasons I am not planning to move back to the States#, aside from the fact that Hampshire is home and that only moving out of Third House is already making me feel like I’m trying to obliterate Peter, is because the highest population density of my old friends is in New York City and I don’t want to live in a big city again.

# I am carefully not saying ‘I will never move back to the States, I can’t IMAGINE moving back to the States again’ because that kind of thing attracts undesirable attention.  Turning Christian maybe should wipe out your commitment to negotiating with fate and subcontractor gremlins, but it probably won’t.  My own feeling about this is that God is essentially unknowable so why take chances about where the lines are?  There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio etc.

La Traviata rules, or, Relief of the Lifelong Easily Offended Verdi Fan*

[THE ASTERISK IN THE TITLE SHOULD BE PINK.  BUT THE TITLE BOX APPARENTLY DOESN’T HAVE COLOURS.]

I’ve been having an unusually bad ME day. The ME has been surprisingly well-behaved the last six months*;  not that I haven’t had ME days but they haven’t been as severe or as frequent as recent stress/despair/grief levels might predict.  Today it decided to slug me with several at once.**  Unnnnh.  But I had tickets to the live-streaming LA TRAVIATA and Admetus to do the driving*** AND I WAS GOING ANYWAY.†

And we did. And this is a good one.††  If the Royal Opera House reruns it at a Theatre Near You and you have ANY finer musical feelings††† go. I didn’t know any of this cast—and the tenor took a little while to warm up—but they were splendid.  Violetta is a gift of a role, if you are a supernaturally dazzling soprano with a timbre richer than 85% dark organic chocolate who can furthermore out-act Ellen Terry‡, because you get such a range with her, from the resplendent but cynical courtesan at the beginning to the fragilely joyous woman in love at the beginning of the second act, just before it all comes crashing down, which is when you see what a real heroine she is, to the final act of loss, resignation, despair and a tiny flame of reunited rejoicing to make it more tragic.  But you have to respond to her as magnificent in the scene with the lumpen prig who is her (wet, puerile) lover’s dad or you’ll be frelling overcome by the blazing misogyny of the plot—I don’t mean that Verdi is the bad guy‡‡, but the story he’s telling‡‡‡ is major ARRRRRGH from start to finish.§  You need a Violetta that will make you love her anyway.

I could produce a few caveats about this production. But I won’t.  Much. §§  One of the dangers of La Trav is that if the tenor and the baritone are  too lifelike you’ll be so busy hating them you won’t thrill properly.  In this production the guys are actually sympathetic which is a good trick in the circs but it’s what you want so you can revel.  This is a very, very good show.  Go see it if you can.

* * *

* It’s February. I can no longer say ‘my husband died last month’.  However ‘my husband died just before Christmas’ still presents some faintest echo of how I’m feeling.

** I broke another plate today.  That makes five since Peter died, I who do not break things ( . . . very often).  With thanks to Gomoto, however, who suggested it, I did manage to replace the irreplaceable one by risking life and sanity on eBay.  The only drawback, that’s DRAWBACK, to this is that I had to join frelling eBay which I had thus far AVOIDED—yes, all these years, I have resisted eBay^ but apparently you can’t buy anything unless you join???  Big Brother isn’t just watching you, he has a slave torc around your neck.  And I suppose if I ‘desubscribe’ from the welter of emails encouraging me to BUY MORE and to SET UP AS A SELLER I’ll just have to rejoin all over again if I ever break another irreplaceable plate, which on present form I probably will.

^ I hate auctions, for one thing. All that SUSPENSE.+  Just tell me the price and I’ll pay it or I won’t, okay?  I also hate having to learn a whole new dadblatted system for some dadblatted web mogul.  Blogmom could tell you I have a meltdown every time WordPress has an update and Yet More Weird New Things happen back in the admin when I’m just trying to hang a blog post, you hyperactive creeps, will you LEAVE ME ALONE.

+ I just read a really, really annoying thriller. If I’d realised it was a thriller I probably wouldn’t have bothered, but it got all these FABULOUS REVIEWS and I acknowledge that it is stylishly written, it doesn’t just rudely go for your throat and sink its teeth in, it nibbles tenderly on your ankles a bit first, leaving dainty little lacy patterns.  But . . . SO ANNOYING.  Nothing and no one is ever what it or he or she seems to be, and several times in succeeding chapters.  Now, I hate suspense, all that waiting for which villain is going to leap out of which cupboard and in what order and bearing what weapons and what sordid tales of ancient wrongs or culpable desires, but in this particular case the agonisingly slow revelation of the true story through the endless lies, betrayals and labyrinthine motivations of all the characters stopped winding me up and just made me want it to be over with. I don’t think I followed the last sixty-seven monstrous discoveries anyway so when I finally got to the last shocking plot twist it was like, um, what?  Can I go now?

*** Peter was supposed to come too. Whimper.  That is, when I’d first brought it up when the tickets came available yonks ago, he’d rolled his eyes at the idea of another La Trav—I’ve told you before that he is not a natural opera lover—but I was planning to have a final assault on his artistic sensibilities/unreasonable obstinacy nearer time.

† Also despite the predictable waterworks at the end when she dies.  But lots of people cry at the end of La Trav.  Not so many for Beethoven’s Fifth.

†† I’ve seen this production at least twice before, both times live, really live, before cinema streaming. The first time when the production itself was new . . . with Peter.  The second time when I went up to London alone on the train to see Renee Fleming . . . which I’m afraid was more notable for spectacularly doing my back in in my unaccustomed high heels than for Renee Fleming whom I found brilliant but cold.^ I’ve never worn high heels since.^^  Just by the way.  And rarely have back trouble any more.^^^

^ She makes a great courtesan: not so much the dying heroine you’re going to cry over when she takes the final dive.  Which, for me, brings the essential appallingness of the plot into snarling feminist focus and kind of wrecks the cathartic wallow aspect.  You want the wallow.  That smug middle-class boys are a right pain you can get elsewhere.

^^ I wore my fabulously floral Docs to the funeral and memorial service.

^^^ She says nervously. Since there’s a lot of Hauling of Boxes of Books during a house move.

††† !!!!!! NOT THAT I’M PREJUDICED ABOUT THE ESSENTIAL SUPREMACY OF OPERA OVER ALL OTHER MUSICAL ART FORMS OR ANYTHING.

‡ Or possibly Tessa Gratton. Any of you who don’t follow me on Twitter

@tessagratton I performed some Shakespeare in honor of Peter Dickinson, for @robinmckinley, who asked for grief and despair: http://tmblr.co/ZVrdrw20wWkL5 

Or, since I’m having my usual trouble with links, the original Twitter one opens but this one seems to open better:

http://tessagratton.tumblr.com/post/138420610373/this-is-dedicated-to-peter-dickinson-kidlit-and

‡‡ I very much doubt Verdi was a modern feminist. Ha ha.  But he did live with and eventually marry a woman with a background a bit similar to Violetta’s but much better health.  And they took stick for it from the lumpen prigs.

‡‡‡ And for anyone who isn’t a regular Days in the Life reader or opera goer^, La Trav tells the story of a high-end Parisian courtesan who is dying of consumption, and knows it.  She lets herself fall in love with a callow young twerp who adores her and they retire to the country where they’re busy burning through all her money when his dad shows up to dispose of this trollop who is not merely ruining his son’s life but preventing his virginal daughter from marrying her fiancé because the fiance’s parents will call it off if the son doesn’t throw the whore back in the ditch where he found her and return to polite society.  Well, she gives him up, but doesn’t tell him why, and he has a meltdown and insults her publicly at a demi-monde party back in Paris where they met.  Last act is her dying, broke^^^ and lonely, rereading the letter from the prig saying that he and his disgusting son, whom he has told the true story of her leaving, are going to come see her now that she’s dying and won’t embarrass them much longer, presumably they aren’t going to tell the sister’s husband’s family about this little departure from the straight and narrow?, although the letter says, oh, take care of yourself, you wonderful woman, you should have a happier future ARRRRRRRRRRGH.#  And then she dies in the wet twit’s arms, and the curtain comes down.  Before dad and son exchange the look of relief and the ‘well that’s that then.  I wonder what’s for supper back home?’

If you’ve got a Violetta worth the diamonds she sold to keep her country villa## you won’t care. You’ll be slurping up all the melodrama with a large shiny spoon.  It’s only later when you’re stuffing the wet tissues in your pocket to leave the theatre tidy that your intellect catches up with events and starts wrecking your fun.

^ Do we want to know each other?

^^ Note: ARRRRRRGH.

^^^ It also makes me crazy, every time+, when she tells her faithful maid to divide up her tiny remaining store of money and give half of it to the poor.  WHAT IS THE MAID GOING TO LIVE ON AFTER VIOLETTA GOES?  I don’t think a glowing rec from a dying penniless prostitute is going to get her a good place right away.

+ Also the doctor saying authoritatively that Violetta only has ‘hours’ to live. Unless of course modern medicine has lost the amazing predictive powers of Italian docs of Verdi’s day.

# That’s an editorial ARRRRRRRRRGH, you understand.

## If they were so enamoured of the rural life why didn’t they just buy a COTTAGE?

§ Although if you’re a modern humour-challenged feminist cow like me, you couldn’t enjoy La Trav nearly so much if you didn’t know it was all going to go horribly wrong. If Violetta had a sudden deathbed recovery and she and the wet went back to their villa^ and the prig and the rest of their family, including the sister’s in-laws, realised that Violetta had a Beautiful Soul whatever her background, and had them over to tea on high days and holidays . . . nooooooo. Ewwwwwwww.

^ or cottage

§§ The last act is a particular ratbag to stage. She’s dying of consumption so she shouldn’t be flitting lightly around the stage, which Violettas usually are. There’s a famous, or possibly infamous, staging where she spends the entire act in bed, which is more realistic, and which makes the last moments of her sudden sense of joy and strength much more dramatic, when she finally does stand up and walk—just before she falls over for the last time—but it also makes the act static and (apparently) directors shy away from this. This particular staging has gruesome blood spatters on her pillows and the maid’s apron—but not on Violetta’s snowy white nightgown—which doesn’t make me think ‘ah yes consumption’ it makes me think ‘the devoted maid wouldn’t allow this NOR would Violetta be carelessly dragging her snowy white nightgown or her long luxuriant locks^ across these besmirched pillows.’  Personally I think they’re missing a trick during the orchestral doodah by not having her notice the stains and react.  But hey.

^ Also unlikely in a woman dying of consumption. And while opera companies are getting better about remembering the effects of close-up cameras for cinema transmissions YOU COULD SEE THE JOINS where Violetta’s hair extensions were attached to her real hair which is the sort of thing I find distracting.

* * *

* This should have gone up last night, of course, but the ME got me before I could proofread, especially since that involves, as it so often does, sorting out the footnotes. Which I’m not always successful at even when the ME isn’t eating my brain.  Which it still is today although not as badly.

But this gives me the opportunity for a GARDEN UPDATE! I had TWO robins in my garden this morning [sic]!!^  Maybe they’ll finally forgive me the Epic of the Falling-Down Wall and nest in my greenhouse again??! There’s been a determinedly kept-clear nook^^ just waiting for a nest, the last what’s it been, two years?  Three?  Since the Epic of the Wall.

^ Anyone not acquainted with British robins, they’re very territorial and the only time you see more than one—unless they’re fighting+—is when they’re breeding and raising the next generation.

+ And they aren’t kidding: they’re exacto knives with little round feathered handles

^^ And that’s not easy in my greenhouse

 

The Ambush of Memory

 

When I started writing this Radio 3 was playing Beethoven’s Fifth. About a week ago a bunch of us handbell ringers sloped off after practise to go hear some fire-breathing orchestra detonate Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.  They played some other stuff first—very well too—and I noticed that two of the six double bass players were small, slight women* but mostly I had my head down over my knitting.  Knitting is my default these days.**  And it was (mostly) okay.  Change of air.  Change of scenery.  Change of people.  All good things (mostly).  My three companions were chatting away cheerfully about music during the pauses while I went loop-wrap-pull, loop-wrap-pull.***

And then the orchestra went dah dah dah DAAAAAAAH and I . . . lost it.  WHAM.  Small intimate train wreck.  Wept copiously all over my knitting.  Swallowed one hand and half a box of tissues in an attempt not to sob cacophonously .  Wanted a bag to put over my head so as not to blind everybody else in the theatre with the dazzling redness of my eyes.

I don’t even know why Beethoven’s Fifth.  It wasn’t Peter’s favourite or anything.  But (several of) Beethoven’s symphonies have been somewhat guilty pleasures for me for most of my life.  Beethoven’s symphonies—maybe especially the Fifth—are so . . . obvious. I love, oh, say, Messiaen, but I have to be feeling like a grown-up to listen to him.  Small children and dogs like Beethoven’s Fifth.†  I first fell under its spell when I was a small child†† And I think what happened is that I found myself staring down the long††† unravelling skein of years during which I have listened many, many times to Beethoven’s Fifth and . . .

I know this is a Stage of Grief. I hope it will be over soon. The grief won’t be over soon—you don’t get over the loss of someone you loved, that’s a no-brainer—but this not being able to go out in public without being frelling likely to make a scene is a colossal bore as well as a vicious circle since the more you don’t go out the more likely you are to melt down when you do . . . and the more likely the depths you will plumb while you’re sitting at home staring at the walls will get depthier.‡

So I do go out.  I’m going to see a live-streaming LA TRAVIATA this Thursday.  It’ll be great.  I can cry when she dies . . . .

This is a Stage of Grief. I know this.

* * *

* I assume they have finger, and possibly arm, extensions to get around the half a mile of those strings.

** It’s certainly my default in public.^ My default at home is mostly a milling hellmob wanting to know when something interesting is going to happen.  Now that we’re spending all our time at the cottage^^ which has very limited floor space due both to original square footage and the whole Things in Corners When There Are No Corners and the Rooms Are a Lot Smaller Than They Were Before There Were Bookshelves on All the Walls etc, this question is more urgent than it used to be.

^ WHAT AM I GOING TO DO about that frelling frelling FRELLING Jesus is my totally creepy boyfriend Modern Christian Worship NOISE?  I got through church this past Sunday for the first time without suffering comprehensive disintegration followed by bolting for the door and sitting in Wolfgang in the dark till I could frelling drive.+  But it wasn’t a good or a holy uplifting time.  GAAAAAAAH.  Sermons about the glory and beauty of life are bad enough but the singing . . . .  The long view is that I want to get back on the singing rota—St Margaret’s have no standards, fortunately and would be happy to have me back—because even before 16 December++ I’ve found the power ballad to God thing a trifle testing, and up on stage ‘leading’ cough cough cough turns it into a performance and I can flip the ‘performance’ switch+++ and the emotional manipulation factor is thereby dimmed.  BUT I need to reach a tipping point of self-control before I risk it.  The performance apparatus will stretch, gouge and support only so far.  It’s  maybe like a hammer to thud a few nails further in.  But it won’t abracadabra a frame to clamp you together.  ++++

+ I can’t remember now if it was last week or the week before that it was helpfully raining so I could sit in Wolfgang with the wipers going and nobody could see me chewing on the steering wheel.

++ Although I effectively stopped going to church after 7 September.  I was at Rivendell on Sunday evenings, like every other evening, and I still can’t get out of bed in the mornings when most people go to church.  Well, I can get up, but I can’t get sane and plugged together enough to drive a car, even a very well-mannered# car like Wolfgang before noon.  Two or three in the afternoon is preferable.

# which is to say lacking in youthful pizzazz and top end precipitancy

+++ Just so long as there’s at least one guitarist to hide behind

++++ MIXED METAPHOR ALERT. And now I’m going make it worse by telling you how the necessary planks are still holding up bird’s nests back in the forest somewhere.  I am trying to tell you I am nowhere near the tipping-back-into-prudence-and-rationality# point.

# Not perhaps that prudence or rationality were strong points before.

^^ Oh, and?, she tosses off lightly, have I mentioned that I’ve bought another house? A . . . you should forgive the term . . . third house?  I have spectacular cash flow problems that may result in a failure to buy dog food soon+ BUT I OWN THREE HOUSES.++  Briefly.  Poor Third House goes on the market as soon as I can finish getting it cleared out.  New House needs a name.  Second Third House? Fourth House Minus Two?  Daughter of Third House?  Seventh Cousin Twice Removed of Third House House? Numerical Confusion I Never Could Count House?  Gwendolyn?

+ This will delight the hellhounds of course. The hellterror, not so much.

++ It’s a long story. Next blog post.

*** I’m not going to say clickety-clack because I don’t clickety-clack.  I use wooden needles, not metal, and I’m slow so I might as well be silent too.

^ Not that this saves me from, for example, the stitch I dropped and then picked up again incompetently when I was knitting in bed one night and heard . . . the unmistakable sounds of a member of the hellmob downstairs throwing up. There is now a HOLE.+  I will sew it up during the seaming stage which, as we all know with McKinley knitting productions, never happens.++

+ In the knitting. Not the hellmob.  Or the kitchen floor.  The hellmob are all remarkably resistant to being left in a box by the side of the road.  They tend to climb out and follow me home again.

++ Which will be embarrassing in this case because it’s the latest in my attempts at a baby blanket. ONE OF THESE DAYS I’LL ACTUALLY FINISH ONE. Before the kid goes off to uni.#

# All right. Before the kid goes off to uni may be too much to ask.  By the time its first baby is born perhaps.~

~ But I still won’t have seamed it up and woven the ends in.

† The hellmob prefer LA TRAVIATA. But they’re okay with Beethoven’s symphonies.

†† And doubtless I was a dog in a previous life.^

^ I know Christianity doesn’t do reincarnation.  WE DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING.

††† Long long long. One of the tangential horrors of the current presidential-election follies is that these bozos are my age.^  These scary creeps are my generation. Forty years ago my generation were going to SAVE THE WORLD, especially from the politicians—and the politicians’ policies—of our parents’ generation.  Same old same old same old I DON’T NEED ANY ADDITIONAL REASONS TO BE UTTERLY DEPRESSED.

^ Ted Cruz is an infant.

‡ Also you are so unlike the self you used to be or thought you knew, blither blither quackety quack quack, and this current self is so exasperating and unseemly and difficult to manage^ that you, or anyway I, do find myself trying to ‘manage’ it/me like you might manage any other intractable problem.  What frelling works? Avoidance?  Confrontation?  Drugs?  Handcuffs and a soundproof dungeon?  Chocolate?  I haven’t found what works yet.

^ And liable to mood changes so supersonically fast, as you might say breakneck, you give yourself whiplash.+

+ It’s not that there aren’t good minutes#. There are just so many more bad ones.

# Getting sworn in as an ornamental laic doohickey by my monks was a good minute. Actually it was several good minutes in a row.  Even if they did occur at EIGHT FORTY FIVE FRELLING O’CLOCK IN THE SUPER-FRELLING MORNING.