August 7, 2016

Conundrum

Here’s a question for you: if you have become a sort of vegan-paleo-alkaline-raw-foodie person, what the jolly doodah do you eat coming off a savage bout of stomach flu?  And I mean savage. It only lasted about six hours, thank you God, but I was a double-ended geysering hellhound in all ways except fur, long pointy nose and long tail for the duration.  I was certainly walking on all fours because I couldn’t stand up:  the world spun quite amazingly, and my heart was going about four hundred beats a minute.  Throwing up always makes my heart race* but it usually slows down again.  In this case it went on trying to shake me off the bed.

I crept downstairs at one point because there was quite a lot of moaning going on: the urgency had come upon me very suddenly and I hadn’t got the hellmob out for any more than a bit of grass on the street corner—my garden has no grass, except the stuff that flies over the wall and colonises my potted plants, and dogs need grass.  Ask any dog.  But I’d been going about indoors briskly doing stuff because I had a friend coming today, Saturday, I am describing the scene from yesterday, Friday, and, okay, I could have done some housework earlier in the week but . . . well, in the first place I didn’t, because I don’t, and in the second place since the floor needs sweeping/hoovering again approximately the minute I unplug the blasted hoover and jam it back into its current corner** because my resident fur factories are never off line, there’s not a lot of point of trying to do it ahead of time.  I’ll just have to do it again.  Which is inefficient, right?  There were still fresh fur eddies in the draft from the door this morning when I brought my friend home  Sigh.

And then, you know, there’s all that other stupid stuff that housework consists of.*** And I’d been hoping to get back out into the garden again—did I tell you I have hauled two entire Wolfgang loads of garden detritus off to the dump?  Chiefly consisting of nettles, but other weeds and some rose-prunings did appear.† This is only the beginning.  And, erm, it’s already frelling August.††  I was going to get my garden sorted this summer.†††  And I had a friend coming!  I didn’t want to lock the kitchen door and hide the key and say offhandedly, oh, you don’t want to go out there!  ANYWAY.  I crept downstairs at one point when the moaning was reaching something of a pitch, opened the garden door, left it open, which I never do unless I’m there to supervise,‡ and crawled back upstairs again.

Well, I didn’t get out into the garden. I also missed my appointment with my estate agent to discuss the Letting of Third House.  I missed Friday afternoon handbells.  When I could finally stand upright again I just about managed to do a quick stiff-brush thing on the stairs, which, due to a little backlist-box problem, won’t really accommodate a hoover at present.  And I hurtled the mob.  Not nearly well enough, according to the mob, but I told them they were lucky to get out at all. And I had COOKED green beans for supper and they stayed down.  Yaay.

And it was great to see my friend today.  This is someone I haven’t seen in years because we’ve both been having adventures—not all of hers have been desirable either—but she’s the kind of friend you just pick up with again like you saw each other last week.  I even ate lunch successfully.  And took her for a hike over gorgeous late summer Hampshire countryside without falling down.‡‡  And drove her back to the train where we promised not to lose touch again.  But I’m way too brain dead to work tonight, so I thought I’d write a blog.

* * *

* Things You Would Be Very Happy Not to Know About Yourself

** I have still not found the perfect storage space for a hoover, which is an awkward, bulky object, in this house with no storage AND covered in bookshelves on all the walls and piles of books in front of all the bookshelves. There’s the attic, of course, but if it disappears into the attic I really WILL never use it again.  Haul it up and down my narrow little rail-free ladder stairs and back up again?  Never happen.

*** As I have often said before, I don’t hate housework^, I hate the time it takes.

^ Except hoovering. I HATE hoovering.  I’d rather be on my knees with a Patented Pet Hair Remover and a stiff brush.  Which is indeed what I usually do.

† Note that you can still be stung by a nettle that has been frelling dead for a frelling week, lying on the ground waiting to be bagged up. I assume I don’t have to tell you how I know this.  Also, nettles hide. As I say, most of eight gigantic bags of green stuff were nettles.^  I TOOK OUT A LOT OF NETTLES.^^  But the minute I go back indoors again and look out my kitchen window THERE ARE NETTLES.  I just blitzed that area! I exclaim in outrage.  No.  You didn’t.  Hahahahahahahaha, say the nettles.^^^

^ Although the last bag or two contained quite a lot of this small variegated-leaf tree put in by my predecessor, so it is no doubt rare and admirable and I don’t appreciate it properly. Phineas, my poor neighbour, came hesitantly up to me about a week ago and explained humbly that this thing had colonised the roof of his conservatory to the extent that he was beginning to worry about said roof maintaining its present desirable state of leakproofness, not to mention that my tree was shutting out the sunlight to the dismay of the huge planters of geraniums that live in the conservatory.  Oops.  Now it’s true that my garden has become even more of a jungle the last year or two but slightly in my defence in this case this is a very enthusiastic tree+ and since it was growing forward over its end of my garden in a very liberal manner and I can’t actually see over the wall to Phineas’ conservatory roof I had no idea that it was doing exactly the same in the other direction.  Arrgh.  I’ve hacked it back some, but more is necessary, and first you have to get THROUGH the stuff on my side to reach the stuff on the other side, which involves being poked in the eye, clawed, strangled, hair-yanked, and the delightful experience of repeated disgorgings of scratchy leaves down the back of the neck.  ARRRRGH.

+ It must be part nettle

^^ And I have the scars to show for it. According to some of the Birkenstocks-and-beards natural medicine sites, nettle stings are good for rheumatism like bee stings are.  I’m allergic to bee stings, so that’s out.  I’ve been on the anti-rheumatism diet for about twelve years because it works, but I was thinking, if I keep a corner of my (tiny) garden sacred to nettles, if I went and rolled in these occasionally could I eat a tomato?  Sigh.  It would have to be a very good tomato.

^ The really bizarre thing is that I’m kind of fond of nettles. All part of my yen for self-torture I suppose.  But a lot of weeds just make me snarl:  creeping buttercup.  SNARL.  Ground elder.  SNARL.  And Japanese anemone. EXTRA SNARL.  You gardeners are about to tell me that Japanese anemones are lovely, graceful and entirely desirable garden plants. No they’re not.  They’re frelling takeover frelling thugs. THEY’RE WEEDS.  Like frelling crocosmia, another so-called desirable garden plant.  Rip out where seen.  I don’t actually want a lot of nettles around—they, you know, sting, and they aren’t exactly beautiful—but maybe I’m just remembering that the presence of nettles means you have a nice healthy garden, that they’re good for butterflies, that you can eat nettles+, or that as an herbal tincture they’re useful for a lot of what ails you.  But whatever.  I kind of like them.  This doesn’t stop me tearing them out.  And getting stung spectacularly because when they’re cross, and pulling them up does tend to make them cross, they will sting you through your clothing.++

+ You can eat ground elder too but I’d rather not. Nettles are pretty reasonable, and I positively like nettle tea.

++ Reasons to be glad you’re wearing glasses instead of contacts: being lashed across the face by the eight-foot nettle you didn’t notice when you were pulling up some little ones at the eight-footer’s ankles. Owwww. Also, nettles across the scalp?  Um, if it’s good for rheumatism, will it make your hair grow?

†† How did that happen? May was last week.

††† I think I say this every summer. This summer, however, I’m here all the time.  On the other hand, this summer, I’m spending a lot more time lying on the floor in a state of ME stasis than usual.  There’s just about enough floor space left in the kitchen for me to lie down on it, if I contort a little.  The problem with lying on the sofa is that the hellmob expects to join me, and there are days when I can’t face being lain on by a hellmob with twenty-four or forty-eight elbows attached.  If I lie on my bed, as previously observed, there will be moaning, but if I lie on the kitchen floor, it’s like, oh, hi, and we can all kind of curl up together.  The hellterror is especially pleased because generally speaking she is expected to keep her attentions to herself since she is very . . . attentive.  But remind me to tell you about my shrinking kitchen floor.

‡ The creativity of dogs, when presented with a garden, is much undervalued.  Especially by the owner of said garden.  Who furthermore will be cleaning up the kitchen floor of uningestables experimentally ingested.

‡‡ Granted I’m perfectly capable of falling down without any help from stomach flu aftermath totteriness.

Life is like that*

It started raining in the five minutes between bringing hellhounds in, taking my raincoat off because it’s HOT and it’s not raining, and furthermore it’s not SUPPOSED to rain, this slender pause including hastily checking that my next organic-grocery delivery is not too deranged, because my deadline was midnight and I tend to get a little carried away about how much I’m going to put through my juicer* this week and probably needed to halve my beet order and quarter my carrot order**, and taking the hellterror out.  I was so not expecting it to be raining we were halfway to the main road before I realised I couldn’t see out of my glasses*** and my hair was sticking to my scalp.  By which time I couldn’t be frelling arsed to go back† so we went on:  the hellterror doesn’t like the rain any more than the hellhounds do, and as soon as nature’s demands were satisfied I’d be dragging her on for a bit of exercise for exercise’s sake while she tried to head for home††.  We were in no danger of drowning.  In an increasingly sodden state we passed under an awning where another damp, un-raincoated figure was addressing himself to his smartphone.  Calling a friend for a lift in bad weather doesn’t work when you’re hurtling your domestic fauna.  Hey, great weather, he said.  It started raining in the five minutes between taking the first dog shift indoors and taking the second shift out, I said.  He grinned (maybe his friend had with the car had said yes.  Maybe he was placating the crazy old lady with too many dogs).  Life is like that, he said.

* * *

*This should have gone up last night but I am having Extreme Computer Problems, to the extent that I really don’t know what to do.  Raphael was just here today, bringing my supposedly-mended ultrabook back and taking away the seriously insane old laptop that I’d been using in its absence and I can still barely make this one do anything.  If this post is not up to standard I can plead extenuating circumstances. –disintegrating ed

* My juicer and I are no longer best friends. When Alcestis first demonstrated hers she gave me beet, apple and carrot juice, and her juicer, which is the same one I then went home and bought^, calmly and elegantly chomped the doodah out of what she put through it, and produced a sparkling cascade of perfect juice. Mine, when presented with a series of hard things like apples and beets and carrots and sweet potatoes^^ has a tendency to buck like a rodeo bronc and spew a thin spray of juice through its not-quite-blast-proof joins. Beet juice STAINS. The bucking also tends to slam it backwards into the row of books which adorn the edge of my one ex-usable countertop, which has become my desk, which is not popular either.  I now wrap the freller in dishtowels and hold on while it’s juicing.   There tends to be language.

^ This was three or so years ago, when Alcestis was still walking and doing things like her own juicing, and I still thought my money problems were no worse than usual.

^^ Yes of course I cut them up. Am cutting them up in smaller and smaller pieces too.

** I’m still experimenting with how much raw cabbage I can hide inside the (raw) beets, the (raw) carrots and the (raw) sweet potatoes. I get a little lip-curly at these shiny fashion-conscious smoothies for health!!!! sites that suggest you slip in two or three raw spinach leaves with your mango, your banana, your pineapple, your yogurt and your half a cup of honey and you’ll never know they’re there! I like raw spinach.  All rational people like raw spinach.^  You want hard core, I suggest raw cabbage.  I, one of whose food groups is broccoli, still prefer it steamed long enough to get rid of the brassica bite. And cabbage . . . I’m not sure how this works out in terms of comparative quantities and proportions^^ but I can make one medium-sized cabbage disappear in a quart of juice—I drink a pint and put the other pint in the refrigerator for the next day.  According to the purists you should juice every day because all the freshiest freshness goes away almost immediately.  I think these people have staff.  I could use a second pair of hands to keep the frelling juicer under control.

^ All right, all right, most rational people.  I say nothing about cooked spinach.#

# And yes, spinach can be cooked in ways that are not slimy and disgusting. But what a waste.

^^ I spent way too much time this afternoon, when I should have been writing MMMPH or MMMMPH or AAAAAAAAUGGGGHHHHH, trying to put together a hellmob food order, now that I have made a thing of beauty# of the canine larder corner and discovered that I’m all out of stuff I thought I had lots of and have tins and bags and bales and boxes of stuff I keep buying because I can’t find it so I think I’ve run out.  Arrrgh.##  I use several different critter-supply sites because I really get off on making myself a drooling psycho hag, and because any faint quiver of interest from the hellhounds in a food or food-related substance and I’m on line researching.  And every site lists its quantities and comparative cost rates differently AND every frelling brand of frelling critter food lists its quantities and comparative cost rates differently I HATE MATHS I HATE MATHS and let’s not even approach the extremely embattled topic of INGREDIENTS LISTS.###  But Pooka was smoking from iPhone calculator overuse, and that’s only the numbers I think I can translate enough to plug them in to see how or if they talk to each other.

# Pink, purple and turquoise plastic beauty. There’s also a rather nice table half buried in there which I keep thinking I should extract and put somewhere it can be admired, instead of ruining its delicate profile by making its legs into a pen for 15-mg bags of kibble, which are, you know, dumpy. But when I say put somewhere, where, exactly, do I mean?, put somewhere.

## Next time: goldfish.

### I don’t want to know how fabulous and wonderful your flaming whatsit dog food is! I want to know WHAT’S IN IT!  I want to know EXACTLY what’s in it!!!  One hellcritter’s hypoallergenic is another hellcritter’s owner getting up three times in the night and it should have been four times! It also pitches me into rabid meltdown mode when I’m looking at an ingredients list and it has fu—fugging CORN SYRUP and/or SALT in it.  WHAT THE FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING FRELL.   Let’s force our dependent critters to develop the same stupid harmful addictions that we’ve given ourselves.  Dogs don’t know from sugar! Don’t freaking TEACH THEM. Also . . . WHY???  Neither the corn syrup nor the salt is going to be a substantial enough part of the treat, since it’s usually treats that are toxic-ified up this way, to make a profit difference to the manufacturer, so WHY???  I get it, kind of, that baby food is often spiced and sweetened and salted up because mums taste it and might think it’s too bland for their precious darlings who are going to grow up to rule the world and need to get a head start on the corporate dining thing, but DOG FOOD?  Okay, I tried Alpo when I was a kid~, but generally speaking we DON’T taste our dog food, do we?  DO WE?  Especially (let’s say) the dried, smoked, salted and sugared . . . um, leftover innards and genitalia of critters whose more-admissible-in-polite-society parts do mostly land on human dinner plates?  ARRRRRRRRRRGH.

~ This could perhaps explain a lot. How many of you out there tried Alpo when you were kids and have grown up Strange?

*** My new glasses, just by the way.  I’ve needed a new prescription since I got the first ‘come in for your eye test and discover you’re turning into an octopus’^ reminder letter last autumn but there were other things going on, and after Peter died my eyes went completely doolally and I didn’t want to buy new glasses and need another new prescription a fortnight later.  Especially not at these prices.  But by this summer I could barely see out of the old ones and there were some Terrifying Moments when I’d ripped my glasses off and laid them down somewhere while I got on with something held immediately under my nose because my close, I mean very close, I mean very very close, vision is still pretty good . . . and then couldn’t find them again.  My glasses, I mean.  And I am definitely in the category of not being able to see well enough to look for my glasses unless I’m already wearing them.  More Interesting Reasons Why I’m Always Late for Almost Everything,^^ Franticly Patting the Floor for Possibly Fallen Spectacles.^^^  However, this being able to see again thing takes some getting used to.  I keep making little jerks at my face every time I get the knitting out or open a book, because of course I need to take my glasses off. Erm.  No, I don’t.  I also keep trying to peer over them when the new, functional close-work strip is at the bottom of the lens, resulting in some very interesting neck-cracking up-and-down comportment.

^ Well, I’ve always had very light-sensitive skin, and lots of stuff gets worse as you get older.

^^ Except Mass with the monks. I may tear in seconds before the priest and server process . . . but I’m there.

^^^ Also, Another Excellent Reason for Having a Small House, although in These Circumstances Not Small Enough.

† Plus a dispiriting replay of the huge tragic eyes from Chaos, who has recently decided that every time I take the hellterror out it’s a personal betrayal. SHE’S LIVED WITH US FOUR YEARS AND YOU ALWAYS GO OUT FIRST.  WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM.

†† FOOOOOOOOOD.  She only gets fed immediately on return occasionally, but she doesn’t want to make a mistake if it’s one of those days.

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