|But back-yard mutts can surprise you. The woman who first taught me dressage . . . did wonders with a series of back-yard mutts.|
I’m glad to hear that on a couple different levels. One is that some day I will need to look for another horse for myself, and it’s good to have those stories tucked in my memory to encourage me to look at “any” horse. . . .
Yes—with those quotation marks firmly in place. I was trying to think of what I would say you must absolutely look for in a horse—four sound legs is always a good place to start, and while Grace’s mare always was sound, no, you know, sane person would have risked her, with that crooked leg. In Grace’s defense she was very experienced as well as knew the mare from a foal, had done most of her Heinz 57 mum’s training and was a friend of the original owner who as I recall insisted she’d always have her back as a pasture ornament if she broke down.
I’d say the bottom line non-negotiable in a horse for ordinary—um, rider mutts—like you and me is a kind eye, very visible, I might add, in the photos of Amore. Having established the eye you want something who likes its work—which is a little harder to ascertain in the usual for-sale try-out, but that’s where your secret weapon, Rachel, is deploying herself on your behalf. Rachel will know!
The second reason I’m glad to hear that is because of a big change that’s coming to our barn…it’s time to get my girls their own horse. . . .They are OVER THE MOON about this, naturally!
Snork. Naturally. When are you going to get your husband on a horse?
. . . we can get whatever horse is the best fit for us and worry about getting a next step horse for the girls later. Another thing I love about my trainer is that she is happy to work with ANY kind of horse, which is a great attitude to be working with.
It’s really the only attitude to be working with. Yaaaaay for Rachel.
And if there’s a good story attached to it, I’ll see if Robin wants another horse guest post.
YOU’RE KIDDING, RIGHT? ROBIN ALWAYS WANTS ANOTHER GUEST POST. IF IT’S ABOUT FABULOUS HORSES, SO MUCH THE BETTER.
I’m still assuming—by not thinking about it too clearly—that I’ll ride again some day, but I admit I don’t know how or under what circumstances. The problem is that I went over the casual-hack line decades ago. I don’t want to have the occasional amble on horseback over the countryside, even this countryside*, I want to have a relationship with a specific horse, and contribute to its quality of life, well-being and training as it contributes to mine. And that kind of relationship takes an investment of physical energy I simply haven’t got.
But I still think in horsy terms. My MGB, who is still in the garage at the cottage while I dork around endlessly about selling her, was my little cream-coloured mare from the moment I set eyes on her—the old-car garage who found her for me had actually brought her in from Dorset or Lithuania or something. I’m pretty sure describing her as such still exists on the web site somewhere—and shortly after I’d put that bit up I received a Very Huffy email from a preteen girl who had a horse telling me, more or less, that she had Lost All Respect for me for preferring a car. It wasn’t a question of preference, it was a question of bank balance.
And, about a year later, it began to be a question of ME. Feh. But there are other things. I totally identify bell ringing as a partnership with a live creature with a mind of its own at the other end of a rope/rein. One of the tangential pleasures of Nadia as a voice teacher is that she rides.** I’m not one of her, cough-cough, better students, but I’m easy to get stuff across to, first because I have more imagination than is good for me, and if Nadia tells me to close my eyes and become a tree, I close my eyes and become a tree. . . . And second because I’m another horse crazy and she can tell me to get my weight off my forehand and my hocks under me.
Possibly on account of Bratsche’s horse story I’ve been thinking about singing in horsy terms even more than usual. But I’ve mentioned here that for some time now my voice has begun to feel a lot like another critter, some live thing that is my responsibility, that needs kindness and exercise and attention. Gleep. It no longer feels like my voice—where is all that NOISE coming from??—and ‘I’ feel overhorsed. I don’t know what I was expecting when I got into this voice-lesson shtick but I was not expecting this disconcerting mixture of strength and lack of control. Horsy metaphor: when my voice is warm and full and open I can’t frelling do anything with it, and it reminds me rather a lot of the four-year-old warmblood I exercised for a while many years ago. Four years old can be pretty young in a big horse. This one had barely been backed and had everything to learn, including how to make his legs function in an orderly sequence. Some of you will know about teaching a young horse to canter under saddle and how all over the landscape they can be as they try to figure out how to perform this complex task. This boy was a sweetie—speaking of the kind eye—and totally willing to try, but oh my. Mostly we trotted, which is, of course, what you do with a horse that can’t canter yet. The more stable and rhythmic the trot, the more possible the canter. But he had one of those gigantic warmblood trots as well as being a loose cannon. Actually he was a lot of fun and I hope he grew up to make some nice human rider very happy. But at the time trying to enable him to move in a straight line or a gentle curve even at the trot . . . is a lot like me trying to carry a tune now when my voice is up and running. If I shut down and go all control-freak on myself I can hold that tune, no problem, as I’ve been able to carry a tune fairly reliably all my life . . . but it’s not a sound quality you want to encourage. As soon as you—or more often, Nadia—wakes up my inner young warmblood . . . I’m all over the planet, tune-wise. Arrrrgh. One of the ironies is that at the moment I sing worse for Nadia than I do at home—because she can get the voice out of me whereupon I go to pieces. ARRRRRGH.
Another horsy metaphor: I was singing some poor innocent song this Monday at my lesson, soared up to my Big Note and . . . lost my bottle and went flat. I said to Nadia afterward in frustration, this is exactly like coming up to a biggish fence on a horse you know can do it backwards and if you put it up another foot, and at the last minute you bottle out and sit back on her—and she raps it with her feet and brings a rail down. ARRRRRRRGH.
I’m still hoping I’m going to grow up to make some nice human rider very happy.
* * *
* Which at the moment is eyebrow-deep in mud anyway.
** She was a bit of a hot shot in her youth. It wouldn’t surprise me if she dusted off her hot-shot status once her own kids are a little older.
The nice thing about dressage is that there’s LOTS you can do without needing to sit the trot; so if that happens to be a problem, you can still do a ton without dealing with it. . . . your comfort will also probably vary a lot from horse to horse since different horses’ gaits feel so different.
There’s pretty much always something you can do with dressage, given that you have a good trainer, a sound horse, and can get yourself into the saddle. One of the ironies in this skill as in so many is that sometimes what you need is precisely the skill you haven’t got yet: I know I’ve told this blog before that my great breakthrough about sitting the trot was when I realised it was my stomach muscles, not my back or my seat, that were crucial—at which point my back stopped bothering me. But I don’t think it would have done me much good to be told that I would sit the trot with my stomach when I was first starting to learn; I had to be mostly there already and needing only the final thud over the line.* The really counterintuitive thing for me was the way then that those frelling gigantic warmblood trots** became if not precisely easy, then comprehensible . . . and thrilling.
My trainer says jumping is pretty much just dressage where someone left some jumps in the way. . . . That makes some sense to me, but I’m sure it will feel VERY different at least sometimes if I do try some jumping eventually. . . .
But the bottom line about dressage is that it’s about making you and your horse and particularly you-and-your-horse happier, more supple, better balanced and more flexible about anything and everything . . . so jumping is dressage where someone left fences in the way: dressage is the bottom line, whether you call it ‘dressage’ or not. This was really making some good sense with Connie . . . siiiiiiiiigh. . . . and Jenny was a show jumper.*** Jumping was her first love and the years she had suitable horses she even earned money at it. But she absolutely believed that dressage was the necessary basis, for show jumping or anything else. Although she was funny about some of dressage’s little foibles. The point of show dressage is that the horse does exactly what you tell it to† when you tell it to. The last thing I want, Jenny would say, is some animal that waits for me to tell it to perform a flying change. And of course a good show jumper is figuring out the next fence as soon as the rider has settled on their line so it knows where it’s going—which may be about half a stride to spare, depending on the course, so it needs to be able to make some of its own decisions. Connie had lovely flying changes—not that I was necessarily in the right place at the right time, riding her, either to ask her or to let her do them.
. . . I am SO spoiled! I would never in my wildest dreams have thought I could have a guy as great as him! . . . . It does mean, however, that the kind of horse I’ll be wanting for my next one (when Amore can’t be ridden any more — hopefully many years from now) is going to be much different than if my first horse had been a back-yard mutt (so to speak)
Well, add me to the forum chorus of JEEEEAAAAAAAAALOUS. But back-yard mutts can surprise you. The woman who first taught me dressage—and totally did my head in by proving I could learn to ride††—and who had no money, did wonders with a series of back-yard mutts. I learnt the extended trot on her first success story, one of those ‘Quarter Horses’ that has about as much QH bloodline as I do, but they arrive on the East Coast in gigantic truckloads for auction, and the paperwork says ‘QH’ I suppose because they’re from Out West Somewhere and the paperwork has to say something. He had a back as long as a city block and his shoulders and his pasterns were perfectly upright (speaking of the comfort/discomfort of sitting to certain horses’ trots) and he had no business ever so much as coming on the bit and getting his hocks under him . . . but he did it, with Grace training him. It was pretty funny really: his back accordioned about six feet as he came on the bit. Suddenly he was (almost) a normal-looking horse. And his extended trot was amazing.
She had another horse, a mare, she’d (also) got cheap, because she’d broken a foreleg as a yearling and it hadn’t set quite right, and the foot turned out. Eh, she’ll never amount to anything with that leg; and furthermore, as she grew up, her rear end grew more than her front, so she was that disastrous creature, a horse who is ‘higher behind than before’ and will spend its life running downhill. And of course never ever be capable of coming on the bit and getting her hocks under her.
You can see where this is going. The mare loved working and couldn’t wait for Grace to ask her to do something.††† Grace competed her in the New England finals at third or fourth level . . . and I swear every last judge Grace rode for, from her first training show, hissed through his/her teeth and said that the mare would never go any farther because of her conformation and she’d never stay sound on that leg. She retired sound at, I think, sixteen; she had her third and last foal two years later. ‡
And of course my hellhounds are back-yard mutts. . . .
* * *
* Your mileage may vary. I was a very slow learner about riding as about so many things, although some of that was my going into it with the conviction that I was clumsy and stupid and wouldn’t be able to learn. Self confidence? What would that be exactly?
** I don’t know if this is true across the warmblood spectrum—and I’m not going to spend the next frelling hour googling my way through a lot of horse sites, I want to sing tonight—but a lot of warmblood breeding was to produce carriage horses where gigantic sit-at-your-pelvis’-peril trots were a total plus^. The dressage thing under saddle came later.
^ Although I don’t know what the postilions may have thought. In my admittedly limited experience posting to an eighteen-hand warmblood powering over the landscape is even less possible than sitting.
*** Connie was the last horse I rode regularly, before the ME objected. And Jenny was her owner and my teacher.
† Because you and your horse are a PARTNERSHIP. A good horse is never a thousand-pound machine that does the same precise thing every time you flip a lever. I’ve never ridden a true ‘push button’ horse but I’ve ridden several excellent schoolmasters, and they have their ways of getting their point across by doing what you told them, not what you wanted. While your human teacher, standing in the middle of the ring, tries not to laugh.
†† I’d been mostly taught by riders with natural talent who had no idea what to do with someone like me. Grace was herself not naturally talented in that way; she’d worked for her horse skills and had gazillions of approaches to any given horse/rider situation . . . and endless patience. We’ve lost touch, but I hope she’s healthy and thriving, wherever she is.
††† That mare was one of my schoolmasters. And she was . . . a character. Her desire to do stuff was genuine, and she’d try till she exploded—but she loved working because she had a fantastic trainer. She could have been a serious handful for the wrong person—for someone who didn’t allow her to be herself. She didn’t suffer fools gladly, and it was a pretty great compliment that Grace let me ride her.
‡ The downside of this story is that she wasn’t going to get any farther, not because she couldn’t but because she was a back-yard mutt, half thoroughbred, half Heinz 57 and in show dressage, it matters. If a Shetland pony can heave itself over the fences clean in an open jumping class when nobody else has, it’s won. If a Shetland pony does every figure in a Prix St Georges dressage test perfectly, it’s still going to lose to the eighteen-hand warmblood who is perhaps only 98% perfect but is so beautiful you could cry. And Grace’s lovely mare looked like exactly what she was—TB/mutt—and this was also happening right when the dressage fashion was turning away from TBs to warmbloods.
Merrilee will want to try to make a book out of it at some point
We’ve all mentioned how thrilled we’d be to have this in book form at some point and that touches on another thing I’m really looking forward to. I’m under the impression that you’re ‘writing without a net’ right now; in other words, I’m thinking that we’re getting to see what a first pass through a story looks like. I assume that in the process of turning this into a book, you’ll go through your normal re-read and ‘oh *that’s* why that was important – I’d better add this detail in, in light of that’ process of re-writing and editing. I’m looking to and hoping to see who/what gets emphasized/de-emphasized/deleted/added as part of the process. This is potentially a fascinating sneak peek behind the curtain and I’m really enjoying it.
I don’t even know where to begin to respond to this one.
Do you realise that by calling KES as she appears on the blog a ‘first pass’ and assuming that I’m going to rewrite the whole thing from the beginning when Merrilee and I turn it into a book-like object, you are implying that it, you know, needs it? Unless you’re Anthony Trollope, first versions of a story are rough. You rewrite because you have to. Because the story doesn’t make sense after the villain turns out only to be misunderstood, because the main character doesn’t come into focus till page four hundred and twelve because you were trying to write about an enchanted lemur and it turns out she’s a fruit bat. Because you fell in love with the word crepuscular and used it forty-seven times in the first chapter and, as anyone who has done any serious writing knows, you can rarely merely swap one word out for another, usually you have to change the phrase or the sentence which then bodges up the paragraph or the scene and you have to rewrite that . . . because on page two you thought Bathsheba was going to stick David with a hat-pin, steal his second-best armour, and run off to battle to fight at her husband’s side. Oops.
You rewrite in the hope that you will eventually produce something that you could give strangers to read.
At what point you start soliciting other people’s opinions varies. I hear terrifying rumours that some writers hang rough drafts on line and invite comments. I’d become a ditchdigger or a linesperson before I did that—and I don’t think they hire sixty-one-year old women to dig ditches, and retraining to be a linesperson wouldn’t be a good choice since I left my head for heights somewhere back in my thirties. Before I married Peter—who does now see early drafts of my stories—NOBODY saw ANYTHING till I’d got as close to finished with a story as I could. Even I acknowledge that you need an outside eye eventually, to tell you the elisions that don’t work because nobody else knows the story as well as you do, and Gibbervig and Sorfrella got up to what together*, or because you so can’t see the forest for the trees any more that while (ahem) you may just be a prone-to-tangents storyteller, the chapter about the history of interspecies harness** really slows the action down. My current editor prefers to see things a little sooner rather than a little later—although I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I’m almost always laaaaaaate turning stuff in and she wants some reassurance that the story exists and she’s not trying to hold a place on the next list but twelve for a will-o-the-wisp—and I acknowledge her right, as the woman whose butt is on the publishing line on my behalf. But I don’t like it.
Once I’d got properly into KES I let myself acknowledge that it was a real story—as real as any of the ones that were first read by strangers in paper covers in their entirety—or that existed in their entirety before they were excerpted on line. I’m writing without a net, yes, because I’m hanging bits of the story for strangers to read before I’ve got to the end of writing it. But I’m writing it as well as I can as I go. I rewrite the individual eps before I post them. What I post is NOT first pass.
Yes. I’m giving away for free what is just as much work as what I write for money. But it’s a slightly different kind of work; different harness—speaking of comparative tack—different pressure points. I wouldn’t have had the chutzpah to invent a genre-fantasy-writing heroine who gets embroiled in offcuts from her own stories for a book I was expecting Merrilee to pitch to my—or any other—editor. I’m aware that messing around with the boundaries between reality-reality and book-reality is very popular just now*** but KES is not something I would have risked doing. Except as a kind-of-joke-but-then-again-not-a-joke on my blog. And yes, I’m hoping to recoup some of that writing time by turning KES into a book that people will pay money for a copy of, hard or e-.† But . . .
But I’m not going to rewrite her. Bottom line: I can’t. The story arc is very very very VERY VERY VERY VERY different, doing it in 800-900 words a shot and usually ending with something more or less cliffhangery. The story is the story: but KES has let me mould her into 800-900 word chunks, and you—or anyway I, this writer, Robin McKinley—doesn’t get a second chance. If I tried, I’d wreck her. I’m not going to try.
I’ll fix errors, when I shuffle her together into one file to send to Merrilee. And I will scream and hurl myself out windows and so on when I discover the howlers I know are there even if I don’t at present know what they are—and I just hope there aren’t any I can’t fix without tearing up the foundations. I’ve silently fixed I think three easily-tweaked ones already; I keep notes—inadequate notes and always of the wrong things—but I mostly don’t reread, except specific snippets (when I can find them) for specific purposes of stumbling accuracy. I’ll try to swap out the superfluous uses of crepuscular without rewriting any scenes. But that’s all. Tidy up—although there will be more of this, and it will be more of a struggle, than I’m going to like. But I am not going to rewrite. Not.
And as for a sneak peek behind the curtain—that’s not what you’re getting. That’s not anything you’ll ever get from me. There’s a reason I don’t blog much about my writing process. I’m a privacy fetishist. And it’s a lot easier to do the smoke and mirrors thing about my life than about my writing.
* * *
* And furthermore when did they have the opportunity to do it? Didn’t the Siege of Mormormorungal crack up straight into the Battle for the Nineteen Dozyhazes and the Sentient Orchid? —I’ve never been good at time, in reality or out of it.
** Horse tack was a relatively late invention; domestic horses were a doddle after dragons and flurdlelumps. Horses are smaller and more persuadable than dragons, and at least you can sit on a horse; there’s the whole suspended-cage business with flurdlelumps because of all those legs.
*** Thank you, Jasper Fforde. He may not have started the trend single-handed, but he’s where I first met it.
† KES does tap into my real writing energy. The blog doesn’t. The problem with the blog is time. I’m a slow writer, even of the blog. But I don’t come away from the blog thinking MUST HAVE BREAK FROM WRITING STUFF. The main reason I’ve cut KES back to once a week is because if I spend any more time on her she will cut into . . . well, PEG II, for example.
sputter sputter sputter… eeep.
Oh dear oh dear oh dear.
That’s the cliffiest cliffhanger yet. Eeep.
Now this interests me. This is in response to Kes #15, “Keep it together, tha useless mare”. I thought the cliffiest cliffhanger was #14, the ep before, “By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me”. Granted my view is a trifle different than readers’.
It is also interesting—to me anyway—that plucking Kes up and plonking her down In Another Part of the Forest when the reader is getting the story only in 800-900 word snatches with looooong gaps between, must produce a much bigger HUH? factor than it would if the reader could turn/fingersweep the page and keep going. Yes? Or am I over-interpreting? I was thinking that you could, not unreasonably, suspect me of cheating. I’m not—or I don’t think I am—by the somewhat elastic rules of storytelling—and the somewhat differently elastic rules of fantasy storytelling*—it’s allowed, not to tell your readers stuff. Till you feel like getting around to it. Till the story insists.
I look forward to Sunday mornings – make a pot of green tea, settle down with my tablet, check Kes’s latest predicament. But these blog posts need to be much longer if they’re to last 2 cups of tea.
I have a great idea! Only read KES every fortnight! Then you’ll have an ep per cup! That works!
So thank you for today’s episode. And thank you for a heroine who is only 10-plus-some years older than me. I read and enjoy YA fantasy but I do occasionally wish for more stories with protagonists who have a little more life experience.
You’re welcome. And also thank you. The apparent near take-over of YA in this end of fantasy storytelling does discourage me a trifle sometimes, despite the fact that I have substantially contributed to it.** Some day I am going to write a story with a kick-ass heroine who is over sixty. We can still kick ass, you know. It just hurts more afterward.***
. . . if I were in Kes’s place I’d just get furiously angry. Look, it’s not my fault no one told me to go into heroine training!!!
Furiously angry keeps you moving forward, though, and so is very probably a useful reaction.
Yep. Adrenaline-rage, which allows slender willowy people to sling large sacks of (wet) compost around. For example. It’s a very useful tool and I wouldn’t want to be without it but I possibly overuse it a trifle. If what you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Kes does adrenaline-rage too. For better and worse.
1) Everyone in Kes’s world(s), stop being mean to her already & give her a freaking break!!!
Everyone? We need a few villains and persons of dubious motives for story tension.
2) Her horse!!!! There’s a horse for her!!!! Yaaayyyy!!!! . . .
Of course there is a horse for her. There was always going to be a horse for her. Remember she’s an even-more-blatant-than-usual wish-fulfilment for me.
3) (And not to be forgotten): HOW ON EARTH DID KES ESCAPE THE BLACK GIGANTIC SWORD-WIELDING THING??????
Well . . . escape is maybe putting it a little strongly. She side-slipped worlds at a very good moment. As to why she side-slipped worlds at that moment. . . . ::whistles::
But…where’s Sid? Is this Sid morphed into a horse?
Nope. Very different personality.
(No, Kes needs Sid as Sid, the faithful hound. This has to be the faithful steed, yhight…Star? Socks? Brownie? Bay..um…Bayeux? Bayberry? Eli?)
Snork. I like Bayeux.
Horse. Horse is good. Good horse is good. Evil horse…I don’t even want to think about it.
No, no! Good horse! Very good horse! Brave noble patient horse!† Cheez. These frelling supple professional-fiction-producing minds.
Yay, the horse. I’m wondering if this is Merry? Otherwise, how will Merry fit into this? or has the story council let that slip out yet?
Hmm. This might be the moment to warn you all that I’m not a big fan of the parallel worlds thing. Connected overlapping similar-in-weird-ways containing-confusing-parallels worlds, yes. Parallel worlds, no. Nothing—except frelling algebra—is x = y in this world; why should reason and logic suddenly reign just because we’ve breached a few walls between one messed-up and inconsistent world and a few more of the same? Although it wouldn’t surprise me if Monster and Merry became very good friends.
Also, I will be very relieved when Sid shows back up in the picture.
Sid’s okay. Although she may be having her own adventures. And she has a very important part to play in the coming . . . ::whistles some more:: . . . well, whatever.
Didn’t the kitchen table start making horse-like motions a few episodes ago?
Yup. But remember what I said about parallel. Here’s another suggestion for how not to make yourselves crazy trying to figure out how the pieces fit together: you can dye your hair orange this week and purple next week. It’s sunny today†† but it will rain tomorrow.††† A table that stamps its feet today may be a table next week. And an octopus the week after that.
I too am curious what happened to the big black monster. And everything else.
You’d better also remember that I don’t tie things up neatly or give full, exquisite explanations. Curiosity is good. It keeps you awake. You’ll know more about most things before END OF PART ONE scrolls up on your computer screens.
I’m thinking some hybrid between
[photo of Shire horse—or anyway it should be a Shire and it could be a Shire]
[photo of Andalusian horse—and I know it is an Andalusian because it’s on the Wiki page for Andalusian horse, although I keep wondering if the lad is a midget or the horse is standing on a box, because Andalusians are not huge]
what’s your image of the biggest horse?
I’ve had an enormous [sic] crush on Andalusians forever. Talat, although somewhat inspired‡ by an Arab stallion I used to know, is really more an Andalusian. The only heavy horses I’ve had a chance to know up close and personal are Shires and Clydesdales—and Suffolk Punches to a very limited extent—and Shires win hands down. I adore Shires. I know it’s not as easy to get a good cross as to take one Andalusian stallion and put him to one Shire mare‡‡, but it’s like Sid being (probably) Saluki/Deerhound. Monster is probably Andalusian/Shire. And they’re each a really excellent cross with only the BEST features of both bloodlines. Hey. I write fantasy.
Even if for a newyorker that has never seen a cow any horse in that stressful situation and while not standing properly would look big or bigger.
Ahem. Kes doesn’t know from cows, true, but she went to horse camp for several years in her teens. She’s not totally clueless.‡‡‡ We’re going to say it was a good horse camp too, which I realise is pushing the reality connection pretty hard—but Kes does know the basics of how to ride. Probably not to battle in her nightgown however.
|Two of my all-time favorite fantasy novels featured a cavalry that rode without either bridle or stirrups.|
Haven’t even finished reading the episode…had to come say I LOVE that grin at a couple of my favorite fantasy novels too! (Go Aerin & Hari!!)
I’ve known from the beginning that Kes must have read McKinley. I was going to have to refer to this some time.
|I looked back at Monster.|
I know I asked for a name, but now I’m hoping there is a chance he gets renamed along the way; although Monster will be an affectionate name before long, I suppose.
Well hmmph. Personally I think Monster is a very good name for a huge horse, but in fact I think it’s like Sid is also the Phantom. Give poor Kes some slack here: she’s a bit pressed. She’ll name Monster when things quiet down a little.§ No one was trying to kill her when she gave Sid a name.
* * *
* Insert standard rant here about how you do get to make up your own rules, writing fantasy, but then you have to follow them. No Mr-Spock-reveals-new-skill-after-the-commercial-break.^ Also no all-powerful mages throwing lightning-bolts of awesome power at one another while making mean faces.
^ Spock ex machina, one might almost say.
** When I first told Hannah what I was doing, a year and a half ago, after she stopped laughing, she said, Make her younger. Merrilee will want to try to make a book out of it at some point^. It’ll sell better if she’s younger.
I remind myself that at least there are quite a few strong heroines in fantasy around now. Some of the books they’re in even receive a certain amount of advertising. EMoon and I can remember when this was not the case. Especially the advertising part.
^ Great publishing minds think alike
*** Ow! My foot!
† This is still a McKinley story, after all.
†† Wrong. No.
‡ ‘Inspired’ isn’t quite right; it’s like as Talat blooms into his own self, it turns out some of Binni’s tack fits.
‡‡ And the stallion would have to stand on a box. But I’d be afraid to do it the other way around: she might break.
‡‡‡ Another pet peeve is characters in books who never learn to ride, they just get on a horse and hey presto. It’s not like that.
§ Unless it turns out he’s already got a—er—Abernathy’s Elegant Mythology by Abernathy’s Hyperborean Mystique out of Plutonium Farms Bethany-by-Night name already. In which case we’ll have to shorten it. To Abe. Or Myth. Or Pluto. Or Fred.
I was putting Pav’s harness and lead on for a hurtle late this afternoon while listening to the weather report on the radio. Dry for the rest of the evening and overnight, said the radio. Pav and I stepped out the door. It was raining.
I’ve spent way too much time looking for good Hampshire-flood photos for you. Is it because flooding, managing or trying to manage the floods and beginning in some cases to clean up after floods which may yet return is still very actively going on that the photo record of all the hoo-ha is such a mess? You google for ‘Hampshire’ and you get Gloucestershire, Dorset, Somerset and Wales, with a little Kent and Surrey thrown in. Not that Gloucestershire, Dorset, Somerset, Wales, Kent and Surrey haven’t been flooded too—poor old Somerset is in a bad way—but I wanted to show you Hampshire. Anyway you can troll through here—or not. These are all at least 2013-14—I think—although with the occasional disconcerting ‘historical’ flood photo, which may or may not be in Hampshire either. I found a really good Hampshire flood photo gallery but before I got too happy fortunately I noticed it was from two years ago. I don’t even remember flooding two years ago.*
Anyway. It’s already too late for Short Wednesday. Maybe we’ll have Short Thursday.
. . . bad weather IS claustrophobic, and inside with three hellcritters, one in heat and a bit too interesting to the others is definitely a major trial.
It was a lot more histrionic than a BIT too interesting. But she’s now OUT of heat and . . . Chaos doesn’t believe it. Darkness, while still inspecting her carefully every time she reappears, is reverting to his previous attitude, which is, Bark! There’s an interloper! Bark! Remove her at once! Bark! —Siiiiiiiigh. I was HOPING that there might be some positive long-lasting effect on their relationship as a result of that hideous recent ninety-four year stretch when she was on high spectacular heat and Darkness was her slave . . . but I guess not. Siiiiiiiigh. Meanwhile there is an effect on her relationship with Chaos . . . he doesn’t believe she’s off heat and keeps trying to hump her. Mind you, he’s humping the wrong end and he’s never got his—ahem—tackle out, so it’s not exactly Sex As We Know It Jim but it still must frelling stop. Arrrrrrrgh. The slightly funny thing, if I were in a mood to be amused which I am NOT, is that Chaos was a lot less bothered by the whole situation than Darkness was. Darkness was out of his tiny furry mind. Chaos was la-la-la-la Chaos, although he was happy to stop eating to keep his brother company. ARRRRRRRGH.
We convinced our old cat to come in during severe weather and she’s now convinced that–if she’s indoors–someone should be . . . paying attention to her anytime she’s not dozing. . . . Yowwwwwwl. Yowwwwwwl. Yowwwwwl. One critter is driving me frantic several times a day . . . I cannot even imagine three critters sharing the house with me.
Three critters keep each other company. This is why I brought two puppies home seven years ago. This does not always work out perfectly to plan (see: happy to stop eating to keep his brother company) and introducing a new one to an established hierarchy is always tricky, even if you’re not bringing a girl into a household with two entire males. But for a human prone to guilt resisting the huge mournful puppy-dog eyes is easier when your single dog is not alooooooooone every time you go out for a cup of tea with a friend.
Diane in MN
There probably is a way to adapt a bigger gauge pattern to a smaller gauge—isn’t there?—but in the first place it would require MATHS and would be beyond me and in the second place . . . I’d run out of yarn.
I do this kind of a lot because I knit tight and I substitute yarn, so getting gauge is not guaranteed for me. The arithmetic doesn’t go beyond multiplication and division, but you can find knitting calculators online that will do it for you. Here‘s a pattern conversion form that should do what you want.
Oh, cool. Thank you. I think.** I like the part about how all you do is fill in the first bit and it does all the rest, but I haven’t finished my swatch yet so I don’t know what unexpected tentacles may lie in wait. I have found the needles that make the right fabric however: 8 mm, so a whole two (or four, depending on how you’re counting) down from the recommended 10 mm. Hmmph. Yarn manufacturers. They know nothing.***
Deep v neck. Less yarn. Three quarter sleeves! Less yarn! Cropped!
Perhaps a dickey?
Yes, yes! A dickey! What a good idea! There will be enough left over for at least one mitten!
Deep v neck. Less yarn. Three quarter sleeves! Less yarn! Cropped!
At this point, I’m not sure there’d be much point left to knitting a bulky-weight pullover…
Snork. It must be hard, living a life of such strict rationality. Not one of my challenges.
There’s a very good Lion Brand pattern for a top-down raglan-sleeved cardigan, knitted in one piece (the sleeves are knitted downwards later), which is pretty much infinitely adjustable. Cast on enough stitches to go round your neck (high- or low-line), increase at the raglan points till big enough to fit round your chest at armhole level, put sleeve stitches onto holders and join up the gaps, knit downwards till long enough. Put sleeve stitches back on needle and knit till, er, long enough. Add a button band, either knitted separately and sewn on, or picked up along the front edges, if you want buttons.
So you leave yourself a ball, or two, for the sleeves (depending on how long you want them), allow another one for button bands, and you can knit the cardi till you run out of yarn!
Yes, I was thinking I’d look for a top-down for that reason—that, in fact, I need to overcome my circular phobia and learn to love some basic top-down thingy because I am a relatively small narrow person and short waisted with it and I’m pretty sure I could learn to squeeze a basic top-down thingy out of slightly too little yarn, which would be very nice. Do you have a link for the Lion Brand pattern? There are a million gazillion Lion Brand patterns and I tend to lose the will to live on their site pretty quickly. Also so many of their patterns are extra-large and up. When it’s some ordinary person on Ravelry who has created a pattern and she’s a 48” chest and her pattern is for 46-50” this seems perfectly reasonable. When it’s a frelling commercial yarn site, even though the patterns are free, it seems to me perverse that when you look at what they mean by ‘small’ it says 44”. Um. No. That’s not small.
Now you’re going to tell me there are pattern converters for this problem too.
. . . Meanwhile. It’s raining again/still. What a good thing wool stays warm when it’s wet.
* * *
* I remember five-foot-of-water-in-the-cellar 2000-01 very clearly.
** But I also knit tight and . . . substitute yarn? You mean there’s some other way to do it? You mean some people actually USE THE RECOMMENDED YARN? ::stops to fan herself::^ This comes up with me perhaps more than with better knitters: for some reason easy patterns tend to assume you’re going to use cheap acrylic or acrylic-mix-but-mostly-acrylic yarn. Noooooo.^^ You do get fancy yarns that suggest a simple pattern that will leave the effect up to the yarn, but not so much the other way around. Or maybe I just read the wrong magazines.^^^
^ Although that may just be another frelling hot flush
^^ The hellhound blanket is acrylic but they’re allergic to wool AND I AM NOT GOING TO WASTE MERINO ON CREATURES WHO ROUTINELY CLAW UP THEIR BED TO MAKE IT FLUFFY.
^^^ And so far as I can tell it’s a publishing rule that a knitting book shall not be issued till all its recommended yarns have been discontinued.
*** Nothing in comparison to someone who has been knitting erratically for about three years and hasn’t FINISHED anything but a few leg warmers and some baby bibs.