January 13, 2017

Really bad timing. Really, really, really bad timing

 

I’m supposed to be at a concert. Right now.*

It’s snowing.

It was Mitsuko Uchida. Possibly my favourite living pianist.**  AND THIS IS NOW THE SECOND TIME I’VE HAD TO BAIL ON A BOUGHT-AND-PAID-FOR TICKET TO HEAR HER.  The first time was years ago—it may have even appeared in the blog as another very bad day—she was at the South Bank which is just a hop over the pedestrian bridge from Waterloo Station which is where trains from around here check in.  And I can’t remember now who fell ill—Peter, me, or some hellhound or other, but somebody did.  And I didn’t go.  ARRRRRRRRRGH.  Also, whimper.   Tonight was going to be more or less the high point of my non-opera classical-music season. WHIMPER.

At least I didn’t have a late Sam duty tonight. Well, I wouldn’t have booked one for tonight, because I was going to a concert. However, I do have a Foibles of Transport story for you.  I staggered out onto the street at 3 am or so recently, after one of those late Sam duties.  You’re kind of on autopilot at that hour even if you are a late bird.***  Now when you turn a car on—I assume this is still true even of modern cars—every red light on the dashboard flames on and glares at you while the car checks itself over for presence of working chipmunks† and absence of cacodemons.  And I hauled the brake off, let in the clutch and hit the road . . . because it took me a minute or two to realise THAT ONE OF THE RED LIGHTS HAD NOT TURNED ITSELF OFF BUT WAS IN FACT BLINKING IN A DETERMINED AND OMINOUS MANNER.

I pulled over to the side of the empty, deserted road. I got out my frelling manual. I did at least manage to find the weird little symbol in question, which told me Wolfgang needed coolant. What the frelling doodah is COOLANT?  I mean, something that cools, but WHAT?  Whatever it was, I didn’t have any in the boot or under the seat, and I was twenty minutes from home and tired. I climbed out of the car and felt Wolfgang’s bonnet.  Cold.  I managed to unhook the insanely uncooperative latch†† and had a look under the lid.  Not that I have a clue what I’m looking at, but I’d probably recognise smoke.†††  No smoke.

I thought about it. It was a cold night and a lot of the way home is downhill.  I went home at a cautious 40mph and threw the clutch out when I could, and freewheeled, which may or may not have been a good thing, but we got here. And I felt up his bonnet again and he was still cold.  So.  Yaay.  Tentative okayness.

Next morning I rang the garage.‡ And they said, oh, you need antifreeze.  ANTIFREEZE?  IS COOLANT? DOES NOT FRELLING COMPUTE. Don’t worry about it, said Paxton.  Add some water and we’ll sort out the antifreeze the next time you’re in.

So I added water. And yes, I added it in the right place, witness that the little red flashing light went away.‡‡  Wolfgang has a lot to put up with, with me as his owner.  Herb Robert in the windscreen wiper bed is only the beginning.

. . . It is now later. And it’s stopped snowing. Siiiiiiiiiigh . . . ‡‡‡

* * *

*Instead I’m mournfully eating broccoli in some really excellent goose stock. The hellmob and I finished the stripped-off meat a little while ago^ but since so far as I know you can reboil stock forever to keep evil bacteria at bay, I’ve been keeping it going.  Only about half a serving left, sigh.^^

^ and the hellhounds, having been moved to some slight interest in food containing roast goose, have lapsed back into total apathy.

^^ But that’s okay! I have my first oxtail of the season percolating in the slow cooker!  If you have to be a carnivore you might as well embrace it.  I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions—it seems to me a set up, like the evil concept of ‘will power’, to beat yourself up with about your failure later on—but I have been thinking I am going to make ANOTHER ATTEMPT (a) to talk about other people’s books I have enjoyed more and (b) to use the resource that your forum comments are, by, um, er, like, responding to a few of them?!?!?  Good grief, McKinley.

So I’ve been meaning for months now, because it dates back to the last days of trying inadvertently to kill myself by malnutrition, I mean, the last days of being vegan+, to say to whomever it was posted about this, I’ve never had a philosophical problem with meat eating. When I was a kid I ate what I was given++, and by the time I got old enough to think about making choices I’d been hanging out with people who bagged their deer or their moose every year because that was how their families got through the winter.  Not everyone can afford enough supermarket food.  I’ve tried being vegetarian three times now, for various complicated reasons including I like the airhead buzz it gives me, but it doesn’t suit me. And I’m not going to try it again unless I get an air mail letter from God, and it’s going to have to have bulletproof provenance.

+ People who do well as vegetarians or vegans, that’s great.  But if you are really trying to do the meat-free thing and are being careful about your vitamins and your proteins and all that stuff, and you’re not doing well, remember that not everybody is built to live that way, okay?  If for example your hair is falling out and your legs barely work any more . . . um.  A steak or a large platter of chicken liver may be the answer.#

# And my hair is growing back in.  At least somewhat.  It has to grow in a little more before I find out how much there is.~  But meanwhile I am in a Permanent Bad Hair day and probably should not be allowed out in public.  It is a symptom of how badly St Margaret’s needs singers that they let me on stage without a bag over my head.

~ Fingers crossed. I know I’m old and haggy and it doesn’t really matter, but I would really like to go on having hair.  I feel you can be a much more interesting hag with hair.

++ Remember how old I am. Fast food hadn’t really been invented# when I was a kid, although we did have ‘family restaurants’, which by mostly being cheap and nasty were precursors to fast food.  Microwaves weren’t even a fairy tale unless there was a tame dragon involved, or a fire witch.  I mean, we didn’t invent microwaves, but someone invented a box that cooked food by microwave.##

# although McDonald’s was spreading insidiously like a virus.

## And I still won’t have one in my house. They seem like a spectacularly bad idea to me.  I’m old and cranky. I’d consider a tame dragon though.

** Although Joanna MacGregor is close

*** Robins sing all night, you know.^

^ I was talking a friend recently about ways to deal with anxiety. With Turnip and Penis due into the White House any minute now us wet knee-jerk liberals are having palpitations and panic attacks.  The conversation had been through hard drugs (no) and meditation and yoga (yes) and I said that something I found weirdly calming, dead easy, and always available is singing.  Granted you have to be careful when you’re out in public+ but I find just singing under my breath works better than not.  My friend said dubiously, well it’s probably different for you, you’re a trained singer.

::falls down laughing::

Okay, technically, yes, I am.  I am a trained singer.

::falls down laughing some more::

+ Especially when you’re suffering from Permanent Bad Hair Day. I sing a lot when I’m out with the hellhounds#, and, you know, hag with hellhounds = nuts.  Avoid.  Mostly I do manage to keep an eye out and shut up when anyone comes in what is probably earshot.  I missed today, and swung round a corner to see a woman I know slightly grinning from ear to ear, who said, Someone’s happy.  Well, I wasn’t too bad this morning.##  Before the snow started.

# Herself not so much. She needs more supervising.  Not to say dominating.~

~ I AM THE HELLGODDESS. AND I FEED YOU. YOU MIGHT WANT TO REMEMBER THAT.

## At least I managed to shoot off to Mass at the abbey this morning since it’s going to be yaktrax only tomorrow morning. But I was still hoping the rough stuff wouldn’t settle in till after the concert.  More whimpering.

† I’m not sure what small furry creatures they use over here to run the crucial machinery. Voles?

†† I’m sardonically a bit pleased that even proper garage persons have trouble with Wolfgang’s bonnet latch

††† We had the engine catch fire on the old car once. Belting down the M whatever at 70mph and suddenly there is black smoke billowing asphyxiatingly out of the front of your car.  Garage person had failed to put the oil cap back on when they added oil.  Oops.

‡ And rang and rang and rang AND RANG AND RANG. I was late to see Alfrick because I couldn’t go anywhere till someone told me what COOLANT is.

‡‡ And we bolted off to see Alfrick. Because I’d wasted so much time ringing the arglebargling garage the hellhounds hadn’t had a proper hurtle so I took them with me and afterward we had a fabulous hurtle in the dark under the biggest moon you ever saw.  A snow moon, of course.  Sigh.

‡‡‡ I have been nursing a small venal hope that perhaps the concert was cancelled, but apparently not.  SIIIIIIIIIIIGH.

99% content-free blog, or, so long as I have footnotes I can apparently witter on alarmingly at the least provocation

 

I received a parcel in the post yesterday.* It rejoiced in a more than usually generous quantity of instruction stickers scattered artistically over its stolid cardboard exterior.  One of them said ‘hold tab firmly and pull to open’.  This is only helpful if there’s a tab.  There is no tab.  There are some vaguely luminescent white stripes in approximately the area where you might have expected a tab, but these are a snare and a delusion.  The chimerical and fallacious factor is enhanced by the shiny whiteness of these unprofitable stripes, which produces a slight, bogus, 3D effect.   I took my glasses off and peered at the confusing article at a distance of two microns from the end of my nose.  My near vision, that is my very very near vision is pretty good.**  I thus confirmed to my dissatisfaction that there were no tabs.

Elsewhere on the parcel there is an even more splendidly helpful ILLUSTRATION of pulling the non-existent tab. Apparently you should use two fingers and the thumb.  I’ll commit this to memory for the next time I see a tab.  This illuminated edification is further (helpfully) described as ‘step one’.  There follows another splendidly tutelary illustration to accompany ‘step one’ and its illustration, ‘step two’, which suggests ‘Lift flaps to tear perforations.’  I was busy committing step one to memory at this point and failed to take note of how many fingers, before I gave a roar of frustrated rage and TORE INTO THE SUCKER.  The flap-lifting may indeed have been competently possible if there had been a tab to pull, but since there wasn’t, by the time you’ve HACKED INTO THE THING although the perforations do exist, they have slipped, or been savagely rent, into the collateral damage category.***

But my favourite instruction appears under my address for the guidance of the delivery person†: LEAVE UNDER COVER, DO NOT FLY.

Pause for contemplation.

Okay.  I will not attempt to cross the Channel in it, which is probably just as well, as it is a rather small box, and the hellmob and myself, plus snacks for those of us who eat, would render it rather crowded.  There are also no instructions for the piloting of a small cardboard box.  And furthermore the missing tab is probably a critical airflow spoiler, and what if, having soared magnificently over the length of Kent, we hit a nasty head wind/tail wind/ wind wind over the Channel and had to land unexpectedly on the back of a dolphin?  The dolphin wouldn’t like it either.††

So I guess I will stay home and enjoy the contents of my parcel. What were they, you ask?  Two tiny packets of sewing needles.†††  I told you it was a small box.‡

* * *

* This happens kind of a lot. Usually it has YARN or BOOKS inside.

** It’s a good thing my nose isn’t any longer. I’m sure monocular peering would be less efficacious.

*** And, as revealed below^ the contents, by the time I had got there, having forgotten what I was going to find in the stress and anxiety of ersatz tabs and unproductive perforations, was not YARN or BOOKS. Clearly I should stick to YARN or BOOKS.^^

^ IF YOU’RE READING THIS IN THE PROPER ORDER. YOU ARE READING THIS IN THE PROPER ORDER, AREN’T YOU?

^^ Or music. My favourite on-line music shop UNFORTUNATELY will hold your basket for you apparently forever.  I have about £1,000,000,000 worth of CDs and a few DVDs waiting for me at present.+  Occasionally I sift out a few and order them.++

+ Yes. I still prefer hard copy.  I’m old.  You’ll have to forgive me.~

~ And don’t say ‘Netflix’ to me. Until small ignored cul de sacs in forgotten villages of Hampshire get superfast broadband, which as far as I’m concerned is a myth, streaming is not an option.

++ AND LET’S NOT TALK ABOUT SHEET MUSIC.

† Shall I mention that they got my name wrong? I have had periods, in the last twenty-five years, of feeling it’s more trouble than it’s worth to share a name with your husband^, and you might think that if there are x ways of misspelling McKinley and y ways of misspelling Dickinson, there would be x + y ways of misspelling McKinley Dickinson.  WRONG.  It’s x + y to the 87th power ways.^^   Now, of course, being McKinley Dickinson is part of the old life gone forever, and if I can’t even throw out shopping lists in his handwriting I’m certainly not going to throw out his name.

^ He did offer to take on ‘McKinley’ but I decided one martyr in the family was enough.

^^ There may be a clue here why the larger the corporation, the more drastically screwed up and one-department-doesn’t-talk-to-any-other-department it is. The latest megacorp trying to sue me is BT, but I think I convinced them to cancel the bailiffs.  Exciting times. Ugggggh.

†† I did however love the instruction so much that I cut out the address label to use as a bookmark. It is presently gracing my new Sally Melville book on knitting design, which is WILDLY over my head^, speaking of competency levels, but a girl^^ can dream, also, I like Sally Melville.^^^  It is not precisely a new Sally Melville.  It is an old, out of print Sally Melville, which I bought on Abebooks, on my way^^^^ to ordering two slender and lovely books about Christian meditation by John Main# which are also out of print.  These also arrived yesterday.##

^ like a cardboard box flying toward the white cliffs of Dover

^^ Or an elderly hag

^^^ Whose principles to live by include—maybe I’ve already told you this?—‘If it’s not a place I can knit, it’s probably not a place I want to be.’ YES.

^^^^ don’t ask. ‘On my way’ is perhaps a more symbolic than accurate description of route and method.

# Who was a Benedictine monk, so I’m obliged to be partial. Now he was a Catholic Benedictine and my monks are Anglican, but the welcome thing is commodious and all-embracing.

## Sort of. Instead of the second John Main I received a guidebook to ‘Rhone-Alpes’.  Which might be useful if the box or the dolphin got us across the Channel.  Although it would be a long walk.

††† And a lot of bubble wrap.

‡ Not that small.  It was large enough for a lot of instructions.  Now I will plead guilty to being an internet shopping addict^ but in this case New Arcadia, Mauncester and Zigguraton seem all to be out of ordinary sewing needles.  And what’s a girl^^ to do when most of her woollens have holes in them because she refuses to use the industrial-strength anti-moth stuff?^^^  Now we can discuss the apparent impossibility of finding tapestry wool or equivalent fine enough to mend 2-ply.#  I use cotton embroidery thread because it’s what I can find in enough colours but if you need to put more than three or four stitches in a single hole it shows because of the difference in drape and elasticity.  Sigh.  With three dogs, two gardens and a bad attitude the lumpiness of my surface covering## doesn’t really matter.  But bad darns matter to me.

^ See: YARN SALES.  I also keep buying Land’s End WHITE cotton-modal turtleneck jerseys because they are my favourite base layer and no matter how many I buy I run out of clean ones before I have enough to make up a white wash.  Arrrrgh.  I think they must be running off with the black Aran pullover that lives down the road.  Don’t believe his fulsome promises, honey. He will discard you the moment you turn streaky grey with hot sweaty friction.

^^ Or elderly hag. See above.

^^^ Lavender is not useless, and cedar oil works pretty well, but concentrated cedar oil is also a frelling poison, and I don’t want either to breathe it or to have it in contact with my known-overreactive skin. I do spot it around so all my wooden shelves have little round cedar-oil marks on their edges but you have to do this a lot to be effective and I’m always going to do it tomorrow.  Like I’m always going to repot all my geraniums.  Tomorrow.

# No, untwisting the individual plies of hawser-strength tapestry wool does not work.

## Or coverings since I specialise in layers. See:  Land’s End jerseys.  I have friends who fall down laughing after they count (say) five layers.  All in different colours of course, and pulled up and over and around so all are visible.  I like playing with colour.+

+If I were a better knitter I’d be dangerous.

 

 

3 January 2017*

 

It’s our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Even if only one of us is here to celebrate it.

Sigh.*

But I didn’t want you to think that I have been totally unvisited by the Christmas Spirit. Indeed there was an unexpected assault of Christmas Spirit a day or two before Christmas.  We each reeled back from the encounter stunned.  I think the Spirit was misled by the presence of Christmas trees. Yes.

Little bitty Christmas tree.

I think this is your first glimpse of the Lodge? Downstairs it’s a long skinny essentially-one-room, the sitting room, which this is, the narrow end facing the street, and a long skinny added-on-as-civilisation-entered-the-mod-con-era kitchen at the back end, behind me as I take this photo.  I have yet to convince the hellmob that this apparent raceway has not been appended to our regular habitation for the specific purpose of providing them with an indoor exercise arena.  The hellhounds can be suppressed after a minute or two.**  The hellterror, not so much but I’m working on it.*** Yes, that’s my piano, murkily in the background.  Draped with tinsel.†  These are actually the Boxing Day presents for other people, but still, you know, PRESENTS.††  MANIFESTATION OF CHRISTMAS SPIRIT.

Even littler bittier Christmas tree.

And these are MY presents at the cottage. Which if the truth be known I still haven’t opened.†††  See:  Sigh.  I’m thinking maybe on the 7th, when the memorial service anniversary is over with too.

At least the shortest frelling day is PAST for another year. Daylight is GOOD.  I’m looking forward to MORE of it. ‡

* * *

* Yes. This should have gone up last night.  You’re getting used to this dorky new system, aren’t you?  I hope?

* Breathing counts as celebrating^, right? Plus another few kilos of Brussels sprouts?^^

^ Well okay I celebrated.  I bought yarn at one of the gazillion on line New Year’s sales that are happening right now.  I need yarn, of course.  Like I need more books. But it’s PRETTY.+  And I spent less money on new yarn than it would have cost Peter and me to go out for a nice dinner, especially an especially-nice dinner ON OUR TWENTY FIFTH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY.

Siiiiiigh.

+ That’s what yarn is for, right? To be PRETTY?  Oh . . . knitting.  That too.#

# Stash Beyond Life Expectancy.  Ahem.

^^ I have a hellterror at my feet in a daze of bliss. SHE WAS PERMITTED TO LICK THE GOOSE PLATTER.+  I thought she might die of joy.++  She’s asleep now, dreaming, no doubt, of this indescribable peak experience and wondering if it will ever happen again. Well, yes, next year, God willin’ and the crick don’t rise.

+ The really interesting part of the operation was cramming all the frelling bones in my slow cooker. Someone on the forum said she wants to try spatchcocking a goose. Good luck honey.  Let us know how that goes.  I was wrestling the already cooked and stripped carcase and thinking THIS BLOODY BIRD HAS BONES LIKE A RHINOCEROS WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SLENDER HOLLOW BONES OF BIRDS SO THEY CAN FRELLING FLY?  Okay this is a big fat bred-for-the-table domestic goose and maybe it waddled. Maybe there are mini kitchen chainsaws for spatchcocking large fowl.  In a tasteful assortment of decorator colours and a free pack of cocktail sticks with every purchase.  I’m sure Jamie Oliver can spatchcock a goose.  Daniel Craig can spatchcock a condor. With a cocktail stick.

I did eventually attain a sort of splintery origami and got the bones crammed into the crock pot. This should be very intense stock.  Meanwhile the bowl of goose scraps looks pretty fine.  Goose. Mmmmm.

++ Darkness was upstairs crashed out on the only (relatively) clear space of floor in my office, but Chaos was about six inches away in the hellhound crate and so far as I know he didn’t even blink. Any normal dog would, first, recognise the sounds of a plate being put on the floor in dog reach and, second, if he was of two minds whether it was worth investigating, would have further recognised the tiny broken moans of inexpressible ecstasy the hellterror was making.#

# Would she have objected to sharing the bounty? I doubt it.  I’ve told you she’s surprisingly good at maintaining her assigned space at the bottom of the hierarchy and I’ve discovered this year, and while I wouldn’t trust her without my evil eye upon her, when the hellhounds are having a No We’re Not Eating This Week spell she will leave their untouched food alone. I find this nothing short of miraculous.~  But if Chaos had come to join in the goose-platter fun what she would have done is gone into hyperdrive to nail all the good bits before Chaos, in his mild, ambling manner, finished getting his head around the situation.~~

~ Mind you there is a lot of yearning. She will also, when it gets to be Too Much, go stand by the bar stool that is my desk chair in the kitchen, under which is where, when by some arcane magic the hellhounds have deigned to eat after all, I put their bowls because this is where and ONLY where she is allowed to slurp out the crumbs.@  We arrived at this compromise after some nerve racking experimentation.  She feels that the state of ‘crumbs’ begins at about two-thirds of a full bowl.  THEY’VE HAD THEIR CHANCE.  IT MUST BE HER TURN. Um.  No.  To give her credit, she took my strictures about this in good part.  She was pretty sure it was too good to be true. . . . But for a stomach on legs she does very well.

@ There are always crumbs with the hellhounds.

~~However. The latest development in inter-critter relations and hazards to hellgoddess sanity is that Chaos has developed a taste for cheese rind.  I’ve been saving these from the beginning because I knew the hellterror would totally get off on cheese rind (yes).  But I’ve told you that Chaos occasionally checks that I’m not dropping anything too interesting on the floor for the hellterror.@  So a few days ago I tried him on a bit of cheese rind.  You could see the synapses fire and the eyes focus. Yes. So now when Chaos gets under my feet—and just by the way THERE IS NOT ENOUGH ROOM for both a hellhound and a hellterror to mill around me in the chopping-board corner between the sink and the Aga—I have the interesting challenge of trying to provide cheese rind for both participants.@@  That is, each participant.  I know, I know, I could frelling train her to sit and wait—because she does both sit and wait, as when I’m putting food in her crate, the drooling and the trembling are her permissible artistic augmentations to this scenario—but that takes it to a whole new frelling level, and meanwhile Chaos would lose interest and there would be language. So at the moment—remember that Pav can count to four?—I sprinkle hers at a tiny distance and make the fourth one just a little harder to find and while SHE’S LOOKING FOR THAT FOURTH SCRAP SHE KNOWS THERE IS A FOURTH SCRAP, I formally offer Chaos his single, larger scrap which he accepts and chews thoughtfully.  When I get it right, he swallows just as Pav races back round the counter-corner and slams into my leg.

REMIND ME WHY I HAVE DOGS.

Because they make me fun to watch.

@ He just wasn’t in the MOOD for a goose platter. He hadn’t eaten his supper, of course, but when I went to bed—the hellterror safely crated for the night—he was busy extracting the tiny shreds of goose buried among the kibble and tinned food.=  Darkness usually goes along with the schmooze of human-food scraps mixed in with the dog food although you can see him doing the canine equivalent of eye-rolling.  Not Chaos.  Prehensile lips, that dog.

= Yes I know the old dog-training chestnut that you only leave the food down half an hour and if the dog doesn’t eat it you pick it up again and it thus learns that it must eat when you say so.  And I reply to this: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  Whoever this joker was, he never dealt with sighthounds.

@@ With reference to how inconvenient critter intelligence can be, I’m waiting for her to figure out that I stop dropping apple, carrot and broccoli stem and start dropping cheese rind if Chaos is there too.  I can imagine the conversation:

Pav: Pssst. She’s chopping stuff. If we go hang out we can get cheese rind.

Chaos: I’m sleeping.

Pav: No you’re not. Cheese rind.  You LIKE cheese rind.

Chaos: Mmmm . . . zzzzzzzzzzz.

Pav: CHEEEEEEEEESE RIIIIIIIIIIIND.

Chaos: [Does the hellhound opening one eye thing]   Hmmm?

Pav: CHEEEEEEEEEESE RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIND.

Chaos: Oh.  Oh.  Yeah.  Okay.  [Floats to feet because, since he doesn’t eat, he doesn’t weigh anything, and drifts after earthbound hellterror toward resigned hellgoddess]

** And yes, you are also glimpsing a tangled riot of dog bedding blankets at the foot of all those boxes of backlist.

*** The additional complexity of the situation is provided by the fact that Damien lives next door and the hellmob tend to give voice when they are freaking out, and I don’t want to add to the already sulphuric fires about critter vocalese at the Lodge.  At the cottage, while racing back and forth from kitchen and sitting room does occur with the occasional hunting cry^, I allow one or two audible manifestations of having a good time before I tell them to shut up.  I can afford to allow a little brief indulgence at the cottage, where the only next-door critter in residence is Smiley, who doesn’t take my mob seriously.^^

^ It’s a huge red mark against any hunting dog, including sighthounds, that they bark on track of quarry.  Just by the way.

^^ and I’m CAREFUL to keep it that way.

† One of the things about going from a Very Large House to a series of ever-smaller houses is that you have PLENTY OF THINGS LIKE TINSEL FROM WHEN YOU HAD 1,000,000 OF HALLS TO FESTOON.^  I am busy promising myself^^ that when I take the trees down again^^^ I will sort through the 1,000,000,000 boxes of Christmas decorations that I still seem to have although I SWEAR I had a good clear out at the mews.  I. SWEAR.

^ I had a bad moment winding tinsel up the stair uprights however. I have a short stretch of open stair railings at the cottage—and we had them at the mews, not really at Third House—but not since the old house has the stair been centrally located, and the railings at the cottage are pretty much invisible under a heavy infestation of knitting project bags. Winding tinsel up the balusters at the Lodge I had one of those flashbacks. . . .

^^ Ha hahahahahahaha

^^^ February? May?

†† And the worst? The absolutely, unbelievably WORST?  Signing the gift cards ‘love, Robin’.  Just Robin.  Robin, all by herself.

††† Friends who delivered gifts in person, I opened these, sure. Because the friends were there. Also one or two utterly mysterious parcels in the post.  Some of these ‘deliver to another address’ web sites need to work on their gift card supply programme.

‡ I could do without this winter weather. Or I could do with a town council that takes its responsibilities seriously. You know, like gritting the frelling ROADS?  I made the mistake of coming home from morning Mass by the back way last week—and this was past ten-thirty, for pity’s sake, because I’d stuck around after to pester monks—and was fishtailing all over the flipping doodah road.  And I didn’t make it to Mass at all yesterday because my cul de sac was black ice and getting the hellmob hurtled was quite challenging enough, Wolfgang stayed in his stall.  So to speak.  And while the furries and I are out slithering^ I keep seeing sand trucks speeding by with large signs attached to their rear ends declaring SPREADING.  I have yet to see them doing anything but ripping about the landscape promulgating misinformation.

So far the main roads are not too awful. I have a lot of late shifts at the Sams to get to and from safely, thank you.  And while Wolfgang is a noble fellow, they don’t make yaktrax for tyres.  And snow tyres in southern England should be overdoing it.  I hope.

^ This weather makes it harder to convince them that the Lodge is not their private gym.