December 27, 2016

Boiling goose fat, breaking and entering, too many parsnips and no tin foil

 

It probably began with the second delivery of parsnips. I love the winter veg season.  The first Brussels sprouts of the year are cause for celebration every autumn—I mean this was going on even before my eating habits moved to the lunatic fringe*—and all those orange and yellow squashes and rooty things, mmmmmmmm.**  So it’s like, yaaay! Parsnips! I’m also still a little subject to New England holiday habits, even though I bailed on Thanksgiving years ago, and MUST HAVE sweet potatoes and parsnips at Christmas.  MUST.  HAVE.

And then there’s the way my Jewish-mother gene*** bursts into terrifying life as soon as I’m expecting to feed anyone.  Else, I mean, than me, and three variously food-friendly furries.  And we were going to be SIX for Boxing Day.  SIX.†  This is my idea of a GANG.  And I’m seriously out of practise.  When we were still catering for real gangs back at the old house it was mostly Peter’s show and that was the way it was and if you got in the way you would be mown down.††  As a special treat I was occasionally allowed to cut up the Brussels sprouts or produce a platter of New England sweet potatoes.†††  And I think I’m the one who started putting chestnuts in the sprouts.‡

ANYWAY. SIX FOR BOXING DAY LUNCH.  And I may have got a little carried away.  But it was an accident that I ordered parsnips twice. I already had a wall of parsnips at the back of both my little refrigerators‡‡ from the first delivery and then there was a noise like the approach of the 7th Panzer Division and a shout of INCOMING‡‡‡ and I (foolishly) opened the front door to see what was going on . . . AND WAS IMMEDIATELY BURIED IN PARSNIPS.  Ha ha ha, I thought, digging myself out with difficulty, and beginning to weave the excess into fencing panels for when Damien gnaws his way through the current barricades.  Ha ha ha, this’ll make a good blog post.

Ha ha ha.

So Christmas Day here was about cooking. And chopping and chopping and chopping AND CHOPPING because I was not only producing Brussels sprouts with chestnuts (of course) but also a broccoli and pine nut salad and roast root veg which is to say PARSNIPS, PARSNIPS, PARSNIPS and two colours of sweet potatoes, how glamorous is that?  To give my knife-friction blisters a break I went next door to feed Phineas’ cat.  Have I really never given the ex-hellkitten a name?  If I have I can’t find it.  So let’s call him Smilodon.  So I went next door to see if his food dish needing topping up yet, Phineas having left early in the morning.

And I couldn’t get in.

The back door into the conservatory, which is the one I use because that’s where Smiley’s dishes are, is a sticky old so-and-so flaming doohickey doodah general arrrgh. It’s not like I haven’t had trouble with the malingering whatsit before.  But it was resisting very robustly. And furthermore seemed to be stuck in the middle which is not the usual modus operandi of a door with a bad attitude.  I eventually Became Suspicious and with great difficulty since my genetic modifications are very limited and old fashioned, extruded an eyeball on a stalk so I could see around a corner, and, yes . . . the ghastly object WAS BOLTED ON THE INSIDE.

Great. Hey, Smilodon, feel like going FERAL for the weekend?  Pull down a nice mastodon for tea?  . . . I didn’t think so.

I spent about twenty minutes wandering around Phineas’ house looking for a way in. When you want someone to have carelessly left a window open DO THEY?  They do not. And the door between my garden and his conservatory has been nailed shut since before I moved in.  ARRRRRRRGH.

Smiley, meanwhile, is winding around my ankles going MOAN! MOAN! MOAN! HUNGRRRRRRRRY!

I went back and looked at the frelling door again. And then I turned around, since if there were going to be scars I’d rather they were not on my face, took a deep breath . . . and put my foot through one of the glass panes. CRASH.

Having checked that my foot was still fully attached at the ankle (yes), I put my hand carefully through the jagged hole and unbolted the door. And frelling CHASED SMILEY AWAY while I swept up the glass.  ARRRRRRRRRRGH.  I’ve been feeding Smiley when Phineas is away for how many years?  I’ve never had the front door key—I had the kitchen door key when Smiley was a baby—I don’t even know if Phineas has a mobile, let alone its number for emergencies.  There have never been any emergencies!  If Smiley ever needed a vet, I’d just take him to the vet!§

I left him chomping in an enviably carefree manner at his topped-up dish. Never mind, I thought, stalking back to the cottage. It’ll make a good blog post.

Meanwhile the goose was roasting away like anything, by the sound of the fat streaming into the pan.  And you’re supposed to drain off the fat periodically so it doesn’t burn, right?  Well, my little Aga oven actually goes back quite a way even though sideways you could barely squeeze in a wicked witch with an apple in her mouth, so I was, after all the ‘biggest oven in Hampshire’ thing about the Lodge’s ridiculous cooker, roasting my Christmas goose at the cottage.  And this kitchen was small before I added this laptop and two or three piles of books and papers, yes?  I have NO counter space.  So when I take things out of the oven, I balance them on one or the other of the Aga burners.  Whose lids are slightly . . . domed.  Not very.  You can, in fact, balance stuff on them.  I do it all the time.  Not heavy roast goose however, sloshing with fat.

And the pan slid off the burner lid and poured boiling-hot goose fat down my leg.

It’s not a question of having time to react. There wasn’t anything I was going to be able to do before it was too late.  So I stood there feeling it torching its way through my jeans leg and thinking (a) how am I going to hurtle the hellmob with only one functioning leg?  (b) No, it’ll be all right, I will take handfuls of cantharis§§. (c) eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

The important background information here is that when I rolled out of bed that morning I got dressed immediately because I needed to start doing stuff. Usually I hang around in my nightgown till the caffeine starts to work.  It was INSANELY WARM yesterday and I’d known it was going to be, the night before, so I reminded myself that I was not going to put on my long johns because I would be too hot. But I got dressed on autopilot, and the long johns were donned because it’s frelling December. And I was definitely too hot, because the jeans were heavy denim and the long johns were thick, but I couldn’t be bothered to strip off again and remove them.

So I was in fact appropriately accoutred for pouring boiling hot goose fat down my leg. By the time it hit me it was merely unpleasantly warm, and when I examined the damage later my skin is a little reddish, and a little tenderer than usual.§§§  IT’S FINE, I said at the time, shaking with shock—it had not been a delightful half second, while my life thus far as fully bipedal flashed before my eyes, waiting for the third-degree burns—shoving the pan back on top of the Aga and wedging it there, because I still had half a pan of goose fat to drain off.  IT’LL MAKE A GOOD BLOG POST.@

I then successfully drained off the remaining seven buckets of goose fat, and, having distributed these above hellterror reach around the downstairs of the cottage, stood looking at the crispy brown object of my painful exertions.  Hmm, I thought, it’s getting very dark.  I’d better put some tin foil over it.  And you read the title to this post, yes?  ALL of the title, not being distracted by the boiling goose fat and the breaking and entering?

I had no tin foil.

How did this happen???  I never use it so I always have it, you know?  It’s one of those basic facts of life, water, air, brassicas, hellmob, dusty roll of tin foil in the back of the cupboard.  NO.  NO TIN FOIL.  AAAAAUGH.@@  And it’s Christmas Day, even the hard core shops are closed.  Well, Peter had had some.  I checked the relevant [sic] drawers at the Lodge.  No.  No tin foil.  Okay, there used to be one of those super-super long rolls of foil@@@—and I have no idea where it came from, we’ve possibly been carrying it around since we left the old house—that lived on the top of the kitchen cupboards at Third House.  I remember seeing it still there after I’d moved (nearly) everything else out, because what was I going to do with/where did I have ROOM for a super-super-super long roll of foil??  So I went up there to see if it was perhaps still there . . . no.  Of course not.  That would be too easy. Meanwhile I was putting the goose back in the oven for fifteen minutes and then taking it out again, again, because I was pretty sure—I thought—maybe—no, I had NO FRELLING IDEA, it probably needed a little more cooking, but I didn’t want that lovely breast skin to burn.  Although all this mad temperature variation couldn’t have been doing the quality of its final presentation any good at all.  So I have NO FRELLING IDEA how long it finally did take to cook—a lot less than the cough-cough roasting instructions said however.  Which is not going to be helpful if I ever do this again.$

ALTOGETHER NOW: IT’S OKAY, IT’LL MAKE A GOOD BLOG POST.

PS: I did eventually find a roll of tin foil, in the bottom of a bag under the sink, full of rubber gloves and washing up liquid, where I was looking for batteries which were also not in the drawer where batteries, if this were a sane, rational world, would be.  The goose was long out of the oven by then.  And there were no batteries.$$

Oh, and?  The goose was pretty good.  Really.  And I was glad to see everyone.  And none of them flinched unduly about the food.

* * *

* The very healthy lunatic fringe, but I’ll spare you any more rants on that subject till the holidays are over.  Maybe I’ll try to make you feel even worse about Detox January.  I am the hellgoddess, after all, even if my brief has changed radically over the years.

** I even look forward to winter cabbage. This is probably certifiable.  My current craze is kale chips.  You shred a lot of kale [sic], spread it out on a baking sheet, shake some olive oil and salt over it, and bake till it gets crunchy.  It’s greasy!  It’s salty!  It’s crunchy!  And yes, okay, it’s still a brassica, but people who turn pale . . . green at the idea of cabbage have been known to like crunchy kale chips.  You can get these commercially—which is how I discovered them—but Large Generic Snack Producers tart things up so they can charge you more money.  They’re way better fresh.  And the recipe is all over the internet.

*** Hannah, who is Jewish, says that of course I have Jewish blood. All the best people do.

† In fact we were only five, but that’s because I kept forgetting the sixth wasn’t coming. She was supposed to come.

†† But I took over the baking. And anyone who got in my way would be mown down.

††† Add brown sugar. No, more.  No, more.  Now butter.  No, more.  No, more.  Now the maple syrup.  YES.  MAPLE SYRUP. MORE. WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU, DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND MORE?  I also used to produce very scary eggnog.  There was a lot of ‘more’ involved.

‡ One of my Boxing Day guests carefully separated hers out and piled them at the edge of her plate. You can’t win them all.

‡‡ Have I told you that I MANAGED TO JAM THE GOOSE IN THE REFRIGERATOR AT THE LODGE? Are you impressed?  I am.  Very.

‡‡‡ Hey, I suck at military history, okay? But James Mason was cute and I watched a lot of MASH because you did, although I was never a Hawkeye fan.

§ Well. ‘Just.’ Cats aren’t as cooperative about this as dogs. Not that Chaos can be called cooperative and the hellterror . . . erm.  But I’ve taken one or two cats to the vet rolled up in emergency bath towels in the absence of anything more appropriate.

§§ I told you this story years ago: homeopathic cantharis is a brilliant burn remedy.^ I had managed to seize, like firmly, the handle of an iron skillet that was and had been in the oven for some time . . . and heard my flesh SIZZLE. I took a few cantharis . . . and ended up with a painless little red mark.

^ I will remind you however that no remedy is 100%. Like arnica for jet lag—works a treat for about 80% of the people who try it.  For the other 20% there are other things to try.  There are other things to try for burns too.

§§§ I also decided that with the day I was having I was not going to change my jeans till the goose was out of the oven permanently and as much else as possible was over with.^ This meant that I had an ecstatic hellterror attached to my leg for the rest of the evening^^. When she wasn’t trying to lick holes in the floor or eat the mat that lives in front of the Aga.  As I fended her off to scrub the floor—the mat went in the washing machine—you could see the agonised thought bubble:  But!  But!  But!  But!

^ In effect five minutes before I had to bolt out the door for late duty at the Sams.  Christmas Eve night had involved bolting out the door at another Christmas-prep-no-NOT-all-the-presents-are-wrapped last minute to go to midnight Mass at the monks’.+  Where it was not a heaving, claustrophobia-inducing mob, but I still ran away from tea and hanging out with monks AND A RELATIVELY SMALL BUNCH OF STRANGERS afterward.  Sigh.

+ The second old folks’ home did eventually get sung to.  And I rang the afternoon Christmas Eve service at Crabbiton.  Have I mentioned lately HOW MUCH I HATE GROUND FLOOR RINGS?  Which Crabbiton is.  And we need a better barricade.  We have just a rope across what I think is the narthex, where the bells are, the opposite (long) end from the apse and altar, which only works with people who acknowledge its purpose as a barrier.  This does not include toddlers who can go STRAIGHT UNDER the rope and see no reason why they shouldn’t.  I was both terrified and angry and am going to discuss with poor Felicity when she gets back from hol.

^^ Since the main strike zone was my thigh I’m afraid I abrogated my obligation as a responsible dog owner because watching her attempt to reach nirvana was too much fun to terminate. Inconvenient, but funny.  And I felt I could use a laugh.

@ Also: less goose fat.  What am I supposed to DO with 1,000,000,000 litres of goose fat?^

^ ROAST A LOT OF PARSNIPS.

@@ If I’m going to make a habit of Christmas goose, which I might, I’ll have a flat tray already wedged in place on the top of the Aga next year. But I need to REMEMBER that goose cooking instructions are never helpful the way I need helpful.  I remember this from when Peter and I were engaging with geese at the old house.  Standard instructions keep trying to make it sound like a goose is kind of a big chicken.  It isn’t.  It cooks differently. That thick fatty skin doesn’t go loose and floppy when it’s done, it locks in place like armour, so wiggling a leg isn’t indicative.  And you don’t get clear juice running out of the leg when you stab it the way you do with a chicken, maybe because there’s too much fat in the way.  I finally decided this one was done because the leg and breast were no longer feeling thickly padded the way they should do, which suggested that most of the fat was now in a bucket on a chair and the goose was about to crinkle up into goose jerky.

@@@ suitable only to persons roasting boars’ heads in restaurant-sized ovens, maybe I’ll try that next year at the Lodge. Ha ha ha ha ha.

$ I am planning to streamline this process somewhat for next year.  Including checking for the presence of tin foil while the shops are still open.

$$ THE UTTERLY NITWITTY THINGS THAT GET TO YOU. I was looking for batteries because I needed a kitchen timer and the one at the Lodge I wanted to use was dead.  When I finally managed to pry the back open the old battery had started leaking, which is never a good sign about whether the gizmo in question is recoverable.  I fetched a new battery from the cottage and plugged it in and . . . the timer still didn’t work.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.  This is The Kitchen Timer I remember from the old house—the one that was there when I arrived twenty-five years ago, the one with the brain-piercing SHRIEK which while I frequently wanted to stomp it for this, is exactly what you WANT in a kitchen timer and the modern wimpy ones, the ones that murmur politely, ahem, you perhaps wanted to be told when x number of minutes had passed?, which the new ones mostly are, are not nearly as satisfactory.  If I could remember to look at a clock when approximately the right amount of time has passed I wouldn’t need a timer, would I?  I need a timer that says:  YO. YOU.   YES YOOOOOOU.  OR ELSE.  This one is not a beautiful object—it’s what I suspect used to be white plastic, faded to dirty cream, with a black plastic face.  It doesn’t look like anything that would have lasted—with its shattering klaxon intact—for a quarter century.  But it has.  And as a tiny integral background VERY LOUD NOISE it’s part of my old life. The one that’s gone forever.  . . . And I had a complete, totally unexpected, frelling MELTDOWN about the fact that the timer that Peter had set 1,000,000,000 times over the last quarter century HAD DIED.^

Turns out I had put the battery in the wrong way around.^^ I put it in the other way around and IT LIVES.  I was making myself crazy last night—having brought it back to the cottage for a little bonding—using it timing making a batch of kale chips.  Every time it went off CLANG CLANG CLANG BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEEEP I went AAAAAAAUGH THAT WRETCHED THING HAS BEEN MAKING ME CRAZY FOR TWENTY FIVE YEARS . . . thanks, honey.  Nuts?  Moi?  Brazil, cashew, hazel, almond, walnut and Robin.^^^

^ I can’t discard scraps of paper he’s written on either. Grocery list?  Keeper.  Labels on folders of tax papers that are now old enough I can throw them out? I shred the papers.  I save the folders.

^^ Not entirely my fault. Battery beds are almost as maddeningly variable as those blasted button batteries, although the battery itself is an ordinary one.

^^^ Someone on FB told me that her husband developed claustrophobia after their daughter died.+ I’ve now heard from a few other people who’ve had claustrophobia as part of the grieving process.  This is a comfort—a cold one, but still a comfort.  I’m ‘okay’ with the fact that grief sucks sucks SUCKS and I am not surprised it keeps knocking me over and making me bleed.  But I’m still capable of worrying—a little—that my perhaps somewhat eccentric mental balance, cough cough cough, could be genuinely overset.  I don’t believe in ‘misery loves company’, I’ve said this before—misery wants to know the world is chirping along without her, so she has something to hope for, that she can rejoin it some day.  But misery occasionally is grateful to hear that other people have reacted to misery in similar ways.

+ This is almost more awful than I can grasp. In fact it is more awful than I can grasp.  Note that one of the things major trauma does to you is make you aware of the limits of your imagination.  We ‘knew’ Peter was due to die before me.  It didn’t make it any easier, but it doesn’t feel like the order of the universe has been breached.~  No parent should have to see a child die.  I know it happens.  I know people it has happened to.  It’s still inconceivable.

~ Yes it does. It’s still different.  It’s your personal universe.

 

Carol Service Season

 

I rang for the carol service yesterday at Old Eden* and ran away from the evening (carol) service at St Margaret’s.**  Today I’d signed up to SING*** at two old-folks’ homes, overslept†, went haring around like . . . someone with a hellhound after her††. . . made it to the first engagement with at least a minute to spare AND DISCOVERED A SIGN ON THE DOOR SAYING THE CAROL SERVICE WAS CANCELLED BECAUSE THE RESIDENTS ALL HAD FLU. ARRRRRRRRRGH. And, you know, no one told me.†††  Although poor Buck was very apologetic when I rang up to ask if THE SECOND ONE WAS STILL ON.  It was.  So I sang.‡  And we’re rescheduled for the first one on Friday, if enough of the denizens are capable of being propped up in chairs by then.  Tonight I was sidled up to by one of my fellow singers, who said, You are coming to sing in town on Saturday morning‡‡, aren’t you?  Um.

It’s been a gigantically hideous week. Today’s the first day I haven’t felt like pease porridge cold, ninety days old, and rejected by rats in favour of tea leaves and old tyres.  I’m not going to give you the gruesome details because it’s too depressing and I prefer not to drag myself back into pease porridge cold mood, but Third House went nova in a particularly local-solar-system-destroying way last Monday and, speaking of solar systems, I am so signing up for that first generational planet-ship to Alpha Centauri, AWAAAAAAAAY FROM HEEEEEEEEERE, assuming they want a few old hags for variety.  And then of course there was last Friday.  Siiiiiiiiiiiigh. Siiiiiiiiiiiigh. I went to Mass three times last week because I needed all the help I could get, but the most important one was Friday, of course, because Peter’s in the monks’ death book, what-you-call-it, liber mortuorum, something, that won’t be it because I haven’t got a clue, anyway, on the anniversary of death they read out the names at morning Mass, and I was going to be there, see:  need all the help I could get.

AND THEN MY ALARM CLOCK EXPLODED THE NIGHT BEFORE ARRRRRRRGH.  Well, my 24-hour kitchen timer, which I use for an alarm clock, because it turns out I’m slightly more reliable about deciding when to get up by having to add up the hours.  And I was just setting it and it went HICCUP GLEEP BLAAAAAH, did a little palm-of-hand dance and died.  And of course I didn’t have the right spare batteries.‡‡‡  Fortunately, and perhaps ironically, as a result of clearing out Third House I have more clocks than I know what to do with and not all of them are at the Lodge.  So I had three lined up on my shelf because I had no idea if any of them were the least bit accurate and climbed into bed wondering when any of them would go off.  As it happens it didn’t matter because I didn’t sleep, which was a good thing WHEN THE FIRST ONE WENT OFF TWO HOURS EARLY.  No, stop laughing, I had set it correctly.  It just had its own ideas.  And the one that worked beautifully?  Peter’s old bedside alarm clock. Whimper.

Life goes on for us the living. One way or another.  And tonight, coming home from singing at the old folks’ home, I was even gladder than usual to be fallen on by a hellmob.§

* * *

* Seven blokes and me. Which felt very odd.  I think in the upper echelons of bell ringing it’s still more guys than gals—gender-specific nerdism—but at my level of semi-competence I’d’ve said the male-female ratio is relatively level, although it varies from tower to tower.  When I was a kid I totally wanted to hang out with the boys because, barring all the frelling sports stuff, they had much more interesting adventures than the girls.^  See any of my rants about reading books about boys because they’re the ones who went out and did things while the girls stayed home and pined beautifully.  Nice for some.  Arrrrrgh.  Anyway.  The world has changed somewhat in some of the right directions^^ or maybe I’ve just learnt better ways of finding people to hang out with, but I now feel like an alien species when I’m stranded with a lot of men.^^^  Even nice bell-ringing men.

^ Make up and fashion, for example. Except for a few years in college of way too much eye make up+ I’ve never been able to give a flying figment about what Hannah calls products although the fact that I’m allergic to most of them contributes to the aversion.  And having been a skinny tomboy kid I boiled out to serious overweight during most of my adolescence and about halfway through my twenties.  This was also back in the days before any manufacturer paid attention to clothing in the larger sizes, you were more or less expected to wear a tent and shut up.  Furthermore I was an inconvenient shape:  none of that lush, sexy female hips and breasts and thighs thing, I was a beach ball on little toothpick legs.  ::Shudder::  So, fashion?  I wore a tent and shut up.

+ It was the era, okay? You had to look like you ran into doorways with your face a lot.  Plus major eyelashes.  I had an unexpected epiphany when I got out of spectacles and into contact lenses and my eyelashes grew about a sixteenth of an inch, which is a lot for eyelashes.  I’m now back in glasses and my eyelashes have reverted to stubby.#  But they keep the insides of the lenses dust free.

# I wonder if eyelashes can have split ends?

^^ Except for the voting in of presidents and one or two other negligible things. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.

^^^ Although speaking of fashion . . . I know there are men who not only pay attention to what they’re wearing but can bring themselves and their virility+ to wear COLOURS++ but I don’t think any of them are bell ringers.

+ which is a sexual-orientation-bias neutral word, okay?

++ Black, brown, grey and navy blue ARE NOT COLOURS. I wear all of them myself# but ONLY WITH COLOURS.

# I learnt to wear brown because Peter used to keep giving me brown stuff.  He eventually learnt about black and pink but he got the ‘sparkle’ part before he got the ‘black and PINK’ part and I’m going to wear it if it’s sparkly, you know?

** Which was PACKED OUT again. I knew—well, I could predict—that it would be—if it was full to the rafters for a mere confirmation with a presiding bishop, what chance a carol service having elbow room to knit in?  I suppose I was hoping for the best because there had been two carol services already.^  I don’t know if this is one of weirdnesses of grief or merely advancing age and crankiness but I really am into the genuinely claustrophobic range.  Pressure headache, sweaty palms, racing heart, creeping terror.  Ugh.  Also my usual props were absent.  I don’t know if the choir would have had me, they have a few people who can actually sing and may have standards, but I didn’t try to join because I knew I didn’t have time or driving-Wolfgang energy to make it to rehearsals.  So I wasn’t singing with the band/choir and not only was the church wedged with bodies—I could have always sat on the floor in the aisle—but it was too dark to knit.

^ No. I wasn’t hoping for the best.  I wanted to be able to say I had tried.

*** I still had my knitting in my pocket. There are occasional virtues to having the pocket linings in your ancient black leather jacket shredded out.  Means you can get fourteen-inch needles in a six-inch pocket, because the pocket now plunges to the seams.  Okay, they stick out a little at the top.  Not that much.

† I’ve been having a bad go with insomnia, even for me.

†† Hurtle! Hurtle!  We want our HURTLE!!!  We don’t CARE about little old people or Christmas carols!

††† Given that I’ve been saying for four years now that I was going to come carolling^ it’s not entirely surprising that I was either not even on the official list or if anyone saw my name there, laughed hollowly and passed on.

^ Hey. It’s not a good time of year.  Peter had his first stroke three years ago as well as shaking the dust of this earth off permanently this time last year.  The other two years’ absence were probably the ME.  That it’s the ME is always a good guess.  Sigh.  It’s amazing I have any friends left.  Three of us, including Fiona, made it to Maddy Prior and her Carnival Band’s regular Christmas show last week, and Fiona said proudly that we’d finally defeated the gremlin, since this was the third+ time we’d tried and the first time we made it. Never tease the ME gremlin.  I cancelled seeing the National Theatre’s live-cinema broadcast of NO MAN’S LAND the next night because I could barely stand up.

+ Possibly fourth. I’m holding out for it only being the third.

‡‡ Old people’s homes. Oh dear.  I remember, I remember.  I was chiefly reminded of how much Peter hated Rivendell. I did wonder if it was such a great idea to sign up for this duty, but I figured I’m singing in the band and it would be okay. It just about was . . . and a few of our audience smiled. And there were mince pies, even if I couldn’t eat any.^  Also I was helpful. Uziel had brought his keyboard but various bits of wiring at the home didn’t work as planned so he had a Heath Robinson arrangement which involved him chasing his footpedal around the floor to the detriment of keeping us on pitch.  So I stood in front of it and was jabbed by an ill-mannered extension-cord housing for the duration . . . but it was worth it.

^ It’s funny what nails you. I’ve been off sugar most of a year now and have been fascinated to discover that things like the little inner leaves of cabbages are sweet. CABBAGE?  Who knew?  Well, you’re not going to know if you’re still putting 1,000,000,000 spoonsful of sugar in your pitch-black morning tea, and while sweet little green leaves are very nice, it’s a fairly stiff price to pay.  Most of the time I genuinely don’t notice the price—I like all the brassica family, and I’m wholly converted to green tea—and while there’s certain stuff I miss, I don’t have CRAAAAAAAAAAVINGS, and trust me, I know what cravings are+, so I must be doing something right.  But I am shaken every week at the moment, making up the order for one of my organic grocers, by the presence of a particular variety of gooey, teeth-achingly sweet, several-chocolate brownies, that I hadn’t yet figured out how to duplicate at home the celestial heights of the commercial ones, when I Stopped All That. Fortunately they’re seasonal, so they’ll go away again after New Year’s.  I can perhaps remind myself at this point that I like COLOUR and cabbages are green.

+ Cravings are chemical, you know? Like my chocolate craving got a whole lot worse with menopause.  It’s worth remembering that if you’re having a rough time with one—it also gives you something to research on Google, if you want to.  The amount of health stuff out there is dazzling—a lot of it is crap, of course, but I think you kind of learn who to believe or at least to try the advice of, eventually, although developing that kind of instinct or grounding takes a spectacular investment of time.  I assume you don’t have to ask me how I know this.

‡‡ MORNING??

‡‡‡ GLORY GLORY BUT I HATE THE PROLIFERATION OF BUTTON BATTERIES.  There are 1,000,000,000,000,000 different kinds and every gizmo you owns that wants them wants a different kind.

§ Pet me!^ Feeeeeeed me!^^ HURTLE me!!!!^^^

^ All.

^^ Hellterror.

^^^ Hellhounds.

Time, time

 

Yes, two days, um, nights, in a row, posting to the blog.  It won’t last.  But I don’t want to leave that evil asshole on the opening screen of my blog for any longer than necessary:  Twenty-four hours is plenty.  But . . . having just mentioned him, here on what will now become the opening page, does that mean I have to write again tomorrow?  Hmmmm.

Time, time, was one of Peter’s phrases.  I cannot believe how much time time TIME TIIIIIIME it takes just adding one thing back into your weekly schedule.  Um.  Maybe two.  Well, maybe three.  Trying to wake the blog up counts, or counted, till the malnutrition and bronchitis splintered me, and it will count again.*  I wasn’t committed to going to Mass with my monks once a week when I was last having weekly voice lessons and Samaritan shifts either.  If Nadia insists on keeping me in a late-morning slot it makes the juggling act even more extreme because I can’t go to morning Mass and make it to the other end of the frelling country** for a voice lesson and the drive would wreck the fragile post-Mass serenity*** although it might have been interesting to discover what effect chanting penitential rites would have as warm-up to singing Mozart.  However all such questions have been set aside as I croaked through recent weeks.  I need to hustle Nadia now however in the hopes of a lesson or two before Christmas shuts all such trifles and fripperies down†:  I would like to be able to scare people on the other side of a small room with my carol singing, and all stresses, including trivialities like legal suits by the local crown court and bronchitis, make my voice go into hiding-behind-the-parapet-and-squeaking mode.

But how to begin to catch up, or slot back in, with the blog and any readers who haven’t given me up as a lost cause? The daily adventure of the hellmob?  Singing dismal and maudlin folk songs whilst hurtling?  Conversations with Peter?††  KNITTING?†††  Bell ringing?‡  The failure of Third House to sell and the oh-God-details-I-hate-details of trying to prep it to let for a year or two and see where the foaming tides of Brexit may have left us by then?  I think I need to slip into the blogging business again gently.

* * *

* IT CERTAINLY DOES. I’D FORGOTTEN HOW LONG WRITING A POST TAKES.^  Also I may have an ulterior motive.  Mwa hahahahahaha.

^ And I’m out of practise trying to herd footnotes. Which make cats or bell ringers or Sam volunteers+ or hellmobs look like a doddle.

+ Or St Margaret’s band members for the evening service. At least summer is over#, when there were Sundays we were getting by with three. When one of the three is you it’s a lot harder to pretend that strange background keening noise isn’t you singing.

# Aaaaaaaand . . . still no probate.~ Less than a month to the first anniversary of Peter’s death.  Just by the way.~~

~ The latest interesting development from my delightful bank’s closing my private nothing-to-do-with-my-husband account and stealing all my money last May is that some of the direct debits that they killed and then reinstated . . . re-died, to coin a term. Only about a third of them did reinstate, and I’m still struggling to keep up with all the stuff I haven’t had to think about every frelling ratblasted month, because I can’t INAUGURATE ANY NEW DIRECT DEBITS TILL I’M OUT OF PROBATE but I assumed those that had successfully reconnected would STAY reconnected?  Noooooooo.  That would be too simple.

~~ THIS IS ONLY THE FIRST FOOTNOTE AND I’M ALREADY OUT OF CONTROL.

** Anything over five miles is my idea of the other end of the frelling country, and this would be nearly thirty miles. I’m pretty used to the commute to my monks but Nadia has moved to Somerset.  Nearly.  The Somerset that is the opposite direction from my monks, if you follow me, so if I were pelting from monks to Nadia I’d have to squeal back through New Arcadia on the way.  Feh.

*** IF I WEREN’T WIRED OUT OF MY TINY MIND it might not be quite so fragile. Remember that the area court in Greater Footling wanted to sue me for non-payment of council tax?  And that I had sorted this out?  You didn’t think that was the end of it, did you?  No, of course not, you are intelligent grown ups with your own stories to tell about local government.  I then received another letter from the Greater Footling court system thanking me for paying up till 1 October, but that they still want me to pay up to the end of the year or they were going to sue me anyway.  Point one:  all three houses were, as of my at that time most recent conversation with the local council, paid up to 1 September. Greater Footling, for reasons best known to itself, is only suing me for the Lodge.  The local clerk in theory had removed the whole court-case thing because my situation is unusual, and she explained that if you fall behind on your council tax they will demand you pay up to the end of the year. What? Whose bright idea was that?  Most people fall behind because they’re having cash flow problems, not because they’re in probate, their bank is heli-skiing with their money, and all real-world business admin makes them cry.  So you sue someone for more money because they’ve already graphically demonstrated they don’t have enough money?  Is the government trying to make people homeless?  Or oblige them to feed their children out of the dustbins behind Macdonalds?

But perhaps I digress. I have already referred (repeatedly) to the fact that the last two or so months have been prey to a broad spectrum of diversions, and one of the results of this is that I didn’t pay the October house tax instalments on the first of the month like a good little anal-retentive control-freak stooge would.^  Midway through the month when my legs were working better and I was coughing less and I really was going to go tackle the city council AGAIN because I’d had NO paperwork yet and according to the clerks, this being one of the few things that, over the months, everybody I saw agreed on, I should receive individual monthly invoices reminding me in the politest possible way^^ that I was due to open a vein for the benefit of the council office again, and specifying the quantity they planned to tap. . . . Now I repeat that midway through the month I had had NO PAPERWORK concerning my monthly council tax bills.

Then I received three envelopes from the city council on the same day.  Declaring that I was in arrears.  And for the three houses that all come due on the same date, remember the SAME DATE thing, organised to make it easier for me, a bear of very, very little brain?  Yes?  You remember? . . . for these three simultaneously-due houses I received two first reminders and one second reminder. So with the mind-bendiness of the simultaneity situation I can also remark that the paperwork I hadn’t received included the first reminder for the third house.  Except it wasn’t for Third House, it was . . . oh, never mind.

^ My biases may be showing. But what would you rather expend your even-more-than-usually frustratingly limited energy on, friends you don’t see often enough or possibly haven’t seen in years, OR paying your frelling council tax?  Anyone who says, oooh, I’d pay my tax, of course, is banned forever from this blog.  I’d further suggest that I’m going to sneak into your house and hide your chequebook, except that nobody but the elderly hopeless like me uses cheques any more.

^^ HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

† With my voice, voice lessons are unequivocally trifling fripperies

†† I’m becoming pretty shameless about this. The locals can just get used to the scraggy old lady chatting away hard to a rose stuck in the ground in a corner between two sarcophagi.  The hellmob has.

††† I certainly must tell you about THE THING I ACTUALLY FINISHED.

† I’m still all in black. I got up this morning, late, having once again watched the dawn come up before I got to sleep, stared at the clean laundry I haven’t put away yet^, and reached for the black jeans and cardi I’d been wearing yesterday.  I went bell ringing at Crabbiton tonight and the other American eyed me and said, so, are you in mourning?  Yes, I said.  And then we did some wailing and bitching about the evil asshole before we got down to the serious business of trying to weasel out of ringing at Madhatterington on Sunday morning, Madhatterington’s bells being not only possessed by demons but they sound like a train wreck, so the ringers’ agonies aren’t even worthwhile.

^ I usually only bother to put away stuff I don’t wear that often. Something I’m going to wear again in the next day or three, why waste the time?  I only need half the bed to sleep in.

Life as a 21st century semivegan*

[This should have gone up last night, of course. This may be the New System.  Time is merely a concept, not a reality, right?  But I’ve been talking to other people in the area and I Am Not Alone.  There are too many of us on line and not enough bandwidth.  Why this means the malign minders of supply CLOSE bandwidth after midnight to a thread, a wisp, a spool of spider silk belonging to a microdot sized spider, I have no idea.   I realise my technological understanding is . . . ahem . . . is such that calling it ‘understanding’ is a blunder, but they can’t frelling stockpile bandwidth from the wee smalls and bolt it on to the bandwidth during the day, or the evening when everyone rushes home to see if anyone has posted to their Facebook page, can they?  CAN THEY?  —ed]

. . . with a small refrigerator. Two small refrigerators.  Today I took delivery of The Largest Green** Cauliflower I Have Ever Seen in My Life and . . . it wouldn’t fit in either refrigerator, unless I took one of the frelling shelves out which I can’t because I’m short of shelf space already ALL THAT FRELLING VEG TAKES UP AMAZING AMOUNTS OF ROOM.  So the green cauliflower the size of a medium-sized asteroid sat in my sink—and sort of drizzled out around the edges, and may have patted a hellhound with a prehensile tendril—till I had time to hack it up and steam it and then crush it into a series of bowls and WEDGE it into the cottage refrigerator.  The trials of being veganish.

And it’s not like I had budgeted time for inconvenient vegetables. Let me tell you what a splendid and thrilling few days I have had.***  Now—see footnotes—I am a disorganised twit, but I have kind of a lot going on, including trying to write some saleable fiction before I run out of money†, and when I manage to beat some teeming disaster back to stuff-under-the-table proportions I do tend to stuff it under the table and turn to the next looming vorticose abyss trying to swallow me††, the hellmob, and several small houses.†††

I was [bell] ringing a wedding on Saturday. I’d just got back from hurtling and had about five minutes before I had to leave for the tower.  The post had come while the hellhounds and I were out checking the continued viability of a certain rose in the churchyard and I noticed that one of the envelopes was from the local city council.  Uh oh.  This is one of the abysses I had (I thought) slapped a personhole cover over, after Ordure, Funk and Weltschmerz closed my account and stole all my money for about ten days about three months ago, the repercussions of which are still wrecking my peace‡ of mind and causing a lot of extra work for a disorganised twit who hates all business admin at the best of times. But even I recognise, in my blurry, dragon-biased way‡‡, that the Tax Gods Rule. Which is why I’d been round the local office and made sure that I was caught up on all frelling three frelling houses.

I admit that was two months ago. BUT ONLY TWO MONTHS.  So imagine my . . . adrenaline surge when I opened the envelope and discovered I was being SUMMONSED FOR NONPAYMENT OF COUNCIL TAX.   They were going to DRAG ME TO COURT AND PROSECUTE me for not having paid any council tax ALL YEAR.  Now even I in the outer reaches of synapse-bursting panic could see that this had to be at least partly an administrative error‡‡‡ . . . it’s still a summons and it’s horrible, and it’s also SATURDAY so I can’t do anything about it till Monday.

I staggered off to ring bells. I got through the bell ringing part with all my insides jangling worse than the bells and my blood-pressure headache getting worse with every dong.

I came home and spent the next five hours throwing up out of sheer beastly stress.

Saturday was wonderful. Really a high point.§

Sunday I spent trying to figure out what the flaming doodah I could eat—I know, I’ve been here before, recently, but that was stomach flu. The rules are different.§§

And today I spent 1,000,000 hours on the phone§§§, mostly knitting and nursing another blood-pressure headache while I waited For the Next Customer Service Representative. Monday, you know?  The city council woman was polite, laid back, and even a little sympathetic, which was a bonus.  I am no longer on the FBI/MI5 top ten wanted list.  Yaay.  The most interesting thing is that what this woman said BORE VERY LITTLE RESEMBLANCE to what the woman I’d spoken to in June had said, or had led me to believe that she had set up for me for the immediate future involving juggling three houses.  And of course neither of them said anything that might lead me to believe that I was going to be prosecuted for non-payment of council tax any time soon.  So I’ve given them a lot more money and I BELIEVE I am to be allowed to live.  But remember what believing got me last time.

Then I made a few other phone calls—although it was still MONDAY—looking for monsters.  I couldn’t find any.  I must not have been making the right phone calls.

I can hardly wait to find out what goes wrong next.§§§§

* * *

* I was reading yet another of these Live Green and Free and Absolute and Right and We’re So Pure and Wonderful We Will Make You Sick what-to-eat health sites. There are amazing numbers of these bozos out there and only some of them have a sense of humour.  This one’s bias was vegan but finally, foot-draggingly, in this I’m-so-disappointed-in-you headmistress voice, they said And if you feel you must eat a little fish occasionally . . . and I’m sitting here thinking, yet again, HOW do these people live in the world? Somebody, I think in the forum, was talking about this too.  I don’t spend a lot of time with Macdonald’s clientele and still I’m a joke in my social circle^.  GIVE ME A CUP OF GREEN TEA/ROOIBUS/GINGER AND LEMONGRASS AND SHUT UP, I’LL EAT WHEN I GET HOME.^^  I still like fish but it’s not necessary to happiness and if pure veganism were a little more rampant in the land I might give it up too^^^ since fish have eyes and agency and I assume little proto-thoughts^^^^.  There’s a whole whacked out mind/body thing as soon as you start seriously messing with what you eat and if you find yourself at the sharp end of immaculateness while you may be willing to risk the proto-thoughts of green cauliflower^^^^^, your singing teacher’s goldfish are beginning to give you a guilty conscience.  But until they start building vegan shtetls for us to hang out in . . . I will probably keep eating fish.

^ I’m not sure about circle. A lumpy trapezoid.  Or an irregular nonagon perhaps.

^^ Anyone else out there remember the term ‘crunchy granola’ for health food junkies in Birkenstocks in the 80’s or thereabouts? No earnest seeker after nutritional truth now would eat GRANOLA.  CEREAL GRAINS. NOOOOOO.  WE DID NOT EVOLVE TO EAT CEREAL GRAINS.  And my Birkenstocks are either pink or have rhinestones.  I’d have pink and rhinestones if I could find them.

^^^ And then again I might not. The trusty tin of mackerel or tuna is very useful to a disorganised twit who finds herself needing to rush out the door in five minutes and doesn’t have time to produce the healthy green salad with the protein-based dressing, let alone eat the sucker.+  Fresh veg takes an appalling amount of chewing.

+ Vegan shtetls will have vegan corner stores that offer hearty organic vegan snacks for disorganised twits.

^^^ My willingness to continue to eat fish has nothing to do with the fact that the video screen on my dentist’s ceiling always shows underwater sea life, mostly but not exclusively fish.  There is NO causative connection in my subconscious between fish and pain which might arouse a (subconscious) desire for vengeance on the piscine world.  NO.  NONE.

^^^^ Bottom line: YOU DO HAVE TO EAT SOMETHING.

** AKA Romanesco. I love the green ones and find the white ones eh.  I’m told there’s no difference but the colour.  Okay.  I’m very vision-led.  I know this.  I still think they taste different.  So my retinas are wired to my taste buds.  I have stranger characteristics.

*** Spoiler alert: ARRRRRRRRRRRGH.

† Oh that old whine again

†† Did I tell you that Damien got out twice, weekend before last, and had a go at me both times?  I being so outrageous as to be outdoors at the time(s).  His garden now looks like a stage set for Les Miz and every time I have the unjustified temerity to emerge from some door or other I can hear him flinging himself passionately against the barricades whilst barking hysterically.  It’s surprising how beleaguered something that weighs about twenty pounds can make you feel.  I have to call the dog warden.  I keep putting it off.

††† I told you, didn’t I, that I had THREE supposed buyers ready to put in a bid I couldn’t possibly resist and wouldn’t want to, for Third House? And that I was perhaps cynical about this prospect?  Yep.  Not one of them showed.  Meanwhile I have—theoretically—a fourth. I’m not holding my breath.  I am getting on with clearing out the sheds^ so I can let^^ the freller.  Thank you God for Atlas^^^ and his trailer.

^ We’d done a first cut of most of the obvious stuff months ago. This was the stuff we didn’t know what to do with plus all the little bins and tins and boxes of gubbins that all of us accumulate in some area of our lives or other+:  for Peter it was tools and the toolshed.  So there are all these labels to collections of enigmatic bits in his handwriting.  Whimper.

+ Perhaps in some cases more than one area.  ::Whistles::

^^ rent

^^^ Who also could translate some of the labels. This was less useful than you might think since he didn’t want to throw anything out either.  ‘Oh, that’s a 1948 glimmigerthinggimerdoodah!  Haven’t seen one of those in decades! You can’t throw that out!’

‡ Um, ‘peace’?

‡‡ Popular fantasies include watching a nice fleet of dragons eating HM Revenue & Customs^ in its morbid entirety. Salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce optional.

^ Remember this is a governmental department that levies custom charges on postage. And you know what overseas postage is like now?  If Abebooks doesn’t list it in the UK, forget it.

‡‡‡ I have perhaps mentioned how much I hate business admin of all varieties?

§ And the poor hellmob were downstairs howling to go for a hurtle. I crept down a couple of times and let them out into the garden for any urgencies. They didn’t want the garden, they wanted the hurtles they can usually depend on when I come home from having been AWAY FROM THEM FOR MORE THAN FIVE MINUTES.

§§ I did manage both my second ringing gig Sunday afternoon and singing for service Sunday evening. Because bodies are perverse, I was in what in my unfortunate case passes for good voice which amused me enough to cheer me up a little. Usually your throat says nooooooooo after a lot of unnecessary stomach acid has geysered through it.

§§§ But at least after this I got to sprint off and SEE MY MONK. I was supposed to meet him Saturday evening before the Saturday contemplative night prayer service but since I couldn’t stand up, um. My email telling him I couldn’t make it was probably the tersest of my entire life but at that point focussing my eyes on something like a computer screen WAS A VERY VERY BAD IDEA.

§§§§ I can wait! I CAN WAIT! I CAN WAAAAAAAAAIT!

Something to hurrah about in a cautious, low-key, not-attracting-fate sort of way

 

I had the best working morning today—you know, story-words on computer screen type working morning—that I’ve had in yonks.*  So I thought I’d write a blog post to celebrate.

A lot of my long silences here are just . . . long silences. One foot after the other days** when getting the hellmob even semi-hurtled is the height of my ambition or capacity.***  But some of it, on evenings when brain function is still just about discernible, is not knowing where to start. I’m still programmed to be doing this every night, I just haven’t the time, the energy, or the morale.  And I don’t do the graceful summary thing.†  I’m missing the wetware interface for graceful summary.  So, ahem and apologies, Footnote Delirium ahoy.

But, you know, a good writing day? This deserves some banner-waving affirmation.  Maybe I’ll even do it again tomorrow.  The story-writing that is.  I’d probably break if I wrote a blog post two nights in a row.

Meanwhile . . . hello and whatever and I hope you’re all well and thriving and reading great books out there in on-line land.

* * *

* I’ve been working for a while now, but an awful lot of days it’s more, um, ‘working’. I have lots of days where I write three words and delete seventeen.  You have too many days like this you have a bigger problem than when you weren’t ‘working’ at all.

** Sometimes no farther than the sofa, where the feet stop one-after-anothering and cross themselves on the armrest, the hellmob pummels the inert human body into some less than satisfactory semblance of comfy rumpled bedding^, and silence reigns. Except for the soggy pop of gloomy human thoughts exploding, and the hellterror snoring.

^ Fortunately they are mostly tolerant of badly-placed knees and ribcages.

*** Also the way I eat now takes AMAZING amounts of preparation. GOOD GRIEF.  Anyone trying to maintain a mostly fresh-organic-fruit-and-veg diet had just better bring her laptop into the kitchen and get it over with because she’s going to be in the kitchen most of the time anyway.  In my case this is even more challenging than for someone who has, bless them grrrrrr, a real kitchen rather than a blip with a few cupboards.  My only half decent countertop is now my desk.  Arrrgh.  It’s quite useful to have a sink full of dirty dishes:  balance your chopping board on top of it and, lo, counterspace. Arrrrgh. And? And? Why has the British Appliance Agglutination decreed that all electric flexes on countertop appliances should be no more than three inches long^ ??!!???  In this kitchen this means that every time I decide to get my juicer^^ out it’s a major schlep of STUFF . . . mostly onto the floor, so it’s a very good thing that the hellterror has decided that stuff on the floor is not automatically interesting, unless, of course, it smells of foooooood. Chaos, who likes to lie near the Aga occasionally, will sometimes lay his head delicately on a well-placed and –balanced pile of books, magazines, rough drafts, notebooks shedding Notes to Self, prayer plans and private, idiosyncratic modernisations of applicable Psalms+++ and business letters I’m trying to forget.  Disturbing a sleeping dog is, of course, not to be thought of, so on these occasions I get a stiff neck, a warped shoulder and a crick in my spine leaning over the sleeping dog to get at the frelling juicer, three inches away from the wall. You’d think the noise of the thing would wake him up and move him on but . . . nooooooooo.

^ ‘eight centimetres’ doesn’t even sound that much longer

^^ Juicing. The faffiest flapdoodling faff of all GOOD FREAKING DOODAH GRIEF.  And the FOOTPRINT of your average juicer?!  Sixteen hellterrors or a small bus.  Unfortunately I’m developing a, you should forgive the term, taste for juicing.  Not only, if you get it right, is a barrowload of fresh raw juice an amazing hit+, but if you got a little carried away at the chance-found organic farmer’s market stall or the offers from your on-line organic grocery delivery gang that week, you can always juice your superfluity.++

+ Especially for those of us who can barely remember what chocolate is any more.# Your taste buds really do change.  A few months AC## and raw carrot-apple-beetroot-sweet-potato### juice is so frelling sweet you’re sure it must be bad for you.

# In case of accidents, I’ve passed my stash on to the monks.

## After Chocolate

### Raw sweet potato. Yes.  Parsnip is supposed to be good too but it was out of season by the time I started getting goofy over juicing.

++ Also there are now worms. Hungry worms.  I’ve been threatening a wormery for a while now, as I’ve probably mentioned here:  I don’t have room for a compost heap, or several compost heaps, since you have to rotate them#, at either the cottage or the Lodge or the cottage plus Lodge, and I’ve always had a veg-trimmings problem, even before I went doolally in the alkaline-paleo-vegan direction, and with juicing I now REALLY have a problem, and our local recycle guys get cranky if there’s too much kitchen detritus among the rich plunder of triffid-lash nettles, evil creeping buttercup and taking-over-the-universe ground elder.##

BUT I’ve been saying, I’ll buy a wormery later. I’ve got enough going on and besides I can’t afford it, I’ve got all these vegetables I have to buy every week plus lorryloads of hellmob food.###

Meanwhile I am mysteriously on the hot list for ringing weddings this summer.  Stay with me here, this is not a non sequitur.  My energy levels, including the number of neurons firing in my brain, at any given day/hour/frozen stalactite of time, are both unpredictable and unreliable, and while I haven’t yet missed a wedding by being too wombly to drive to the tower, there have been weddings when I prayed for the rest of the band to be beginners so no one would expect me to ring methods.####  I made a bristling . . . um, compost heap . . . of a couple of pathetically basic methods at a couple of weddings and was totally ready to fall on my sword, except that ringers who are willing to ring weddings must be in short supply around here at the moment or they wouldn’t be asking me in the first place.

So there was a wedding at Crabbiton##### a few weeks ago. And Wild Robert was running the band.  And I should be used to his taking-no-prisoners habits by now, but IT’S A WEDDING.  Feh.  He drove us through methods I can’t ring recognisably on practise nights and I crawled home that night brainlessly high with my preposterous success###### and too exhausted to be sensible.  So I bought a wormery.  Of course.  As you do.#######  I’ve even rung enough weddings to cover the cost.

Hey. It’s PINK.  No, really.  I might not have bought it if it had been a subdued, business-like colour.  But PINK?  It looks very cute sitting next to the kitchen sink, except for the tripping-over-it, the-kitchen-door-only-opens-halfway part.  I also have no idea whether it’s working or not, except for the fact that it smells nice when I open it to throw in some more apple cores and herb stems and armfuls of post-juicing sludge.

# SIGH for the beautiful, built-by-Atlas wood-framed compost heaps at Third House. SIIIIIIIGH.~

~ Note that Brexit is a catastrophe. Including that the real estate market just hit bottom and frelling splattered.  You may remember I am trying—I wildly and hysterically need—to sell Third House?  But that’s a post for another day.  Preferably when I’m feeling stronger.  Preferably after the time machine unspools us back to the Wednesday before Really, Really Bad Thursday and this time we stay in the EU, thank you very much.  And I’ll think of something else to write a blog post about.=

= No a female Prime Minster is NOT worth it. Especially when she’s another thrice-blasted Tory.%

% I’m also having one of my American moments about the speed at which we acquired a new PM.  I’m sure this must be illegal somehow.  And the Queen is in on it.

## I almost forgive enchanter’s nightshade for being an ineradicable festering-festering ratbag weed for the excellence of its name.

### What I want to know is why, when the hellhounds don’t eat, we seem to get through SO MUCH dog food.  ::Eyes the hellterror::

#### Also, stage fright. If you bollix it up on practise night, eh, it’s practise night.  If you bollix it up for a wedding EVERYONE HATES YOU, except the bride, the groom, and the wedding party, who don’t notice.  But how many frelling weddings have I rung over the years? I still get stage fright. And open ground floor rings are my deepest, bursting-galaxies nightmare, because everyone comes down to your end and leans on the barrier rope and stares at you and PROBABLY TAKES PICTURES.  WITHOUT ASKING, OF COURSE, BECAUSE YOU’RE PART OF THE MULTI-MEDIA ENTERTAINMENT.  Crabbiton is a ground floor ring.

##### See: ground floor ring.  See:  stage fright.

###### Wild Robert is a sorcerer. It’s the only explanation.

#######  In the old days I’d’ve had to wait till the shops opened the next day, by which time I might have reclaimed my common sense, or cast an eye over my bank balance.  On line shopping is also a Borg invention.  Or possibly a critical factor in turning the human population into mush-minded proto-slaves, primed and ready for the return of Cthulhu.

+++ The ranting, miserable-sod ones of course.  ‘Heal me, o God, for my bones are troubled.’

† The WHAT?  What was that word before ‘summary’?  Keep it away from me, I have sensitive skin, I’m sure it would burn.^

^ And, not speaking [of] the e-word, it’s also guaranteed that the day I put on clean jeans will be the day the hellterror and I have the kind of adventure which requires I pick her up and rest her muddy feet on my hip to ensure our best odds for survival.  ARRRRRRGH.  We met two women with five loose dogs—five large loose dogs—on the barely-one-thin-person-wide river path a few days ago, and the women were so profoundly engaged in their conversation that the hellterror and I had pied-pipered their flock of hairy, oversized rats some considerable distance before they even NOTICED. Arrrrrrrrrrgh.#

# And two days ago the hellhounds and I were walking across one of the little rec grounds in town when an idiot woman with a terrier on a lead and a spaniel off lead came through the gate.  Hellhounds and I, a good thirty feet away, paused warily . . . and the gorblimey spaniel came hell-for-leather at us, barking and snarling, and circling closer and closer and closer . . . CALL YOUR [*******] DOG, I said, and Ms Porridge-Brain said something like, oh now, Sweetbuns, that’s not necessary, in this placatory voice, and Sweetbuns of course ignored her entirely, making little rushes and snatches at my dogs and me.

So I kicked the bugger.

Ms Porridge-Brain melted down. I melted down right back at her. He was only protecting me! she yelled in outrage. PROTECTING YOU?  YOU ARE THIRTY FEET AWAY AND HE WAS [*******] THREATENING MY DOGS, I yelled back.  HE IS OFF LEAD AND MINE ARE ON LEAD. The exchange may have deteriorated from that high point of communicatory clarity.  And I’m still angry.

. . . Um. Not a good way to end a blog post.  Um?  La la la la la la la. . . . I’ve just memorised the lyrics to ‘Lord of the Dance’, I could sing . . .

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