April 14, 2014

Shadows is here!

KES comments revisited

 

APOLOGIES.  I have a lovely guest blog series waiting in the wings . . . which I managed not to send to Blogmom to set up in hangable form.  ::Beats head against wall::  All right, it’s the day after KES:  let’s catch up on a few comments.  Whimper.

TheWoobDog

Okay, I would feel slightly abashed that my first question after this post has to do with Kes’s choice of sleepwear, but since it’s obviously an issue which intrudes quite frequently into her own thoughts I don’t feel too bad about asking:

Can we expect Kes* to make it a priority to adopt sleeping attire more appropriate for the occasional nocturnal interruption of sword-wielding, thing-hacking, horseback-riding adventure**?

No.  She’s going to get home (finally) and TRY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY* HARD TO PRETEND THAT EVERYTHING IS BACK TO NORMAL AND NOTHING HAS CHANGED.  Since you posted this question I’m pretty sure Kes has made some remarks about sleeping in black leather and Kevlar but she’s joking.  She’s trying, somewhat urgently, to keep her spirits up in a situation rather designed to smash those suckers flat.

*Assuming that she makes it out of this alive and sane^

^This is a McKinley story, after all, and the Hellgoddess, while a lover of cliffhangers, nonetheless would never hang her heroine out to dry

Well, not for very long anyway.  This is a McKinley story.  I have every intention of bringing Kes safe home**, although she’s going to have to get used to the lack of normal and the disturbing existence of change.  I don’t know if the bloodstain in the front room is permanent or not, but Kes is going to have a major problem with funny creaky-old-house noises, you know the kind that you and I say ‘mice’ or ‘hellcritters’ or ‘dream’ and put a pillow over our heads or turn the music up in response to?  Kes won’t be able to.  Or anyway she probably better not. . . .

**Kes might prefer the term “horror”

And she can start by learning to say ‘adventure’ rather than ‘horror’.  Poor woman.  I’m so with the hiding-under-the-bed impulse.

Katsheare

. . . the thing that I am MOST enjoying about Kes is that it’s episodic. I remember reading A Tale of Two Cities, my first Dickens, and wishing for that possibility to read something in installments. . . .  given that I can, if I want to, read whole new books all in (roughly) one go — the 800-900 word nature of Kes is exciting. . . .

Are you too young to remember the . . . uh oh, this is not an easy google search so we’re going to have to rely on my memory.  BAAAAAAAD.  Well, when I was a young lass, ANALOG used to run serials.  This would have been in the ‘60s, because I was introduced to both ANALOG and their serials by my First Boyfriend in junior high.  And they made me crazy.***  I don’t know if ANALOG still runs them—I was just looking at the table of contents of the current issue†—and I don’t see anything that overtly says serial but that’s not definitive.  And I can’t remember if F&SF did (or do) serials too?  I can’t begin to keep up with my book TBR piles, I stopped subscribing to fiction mags decades ago, the idea of a steady, relentless additional few hundred pages arriving every month makes me cry, although I’m perfectly capable of buying or ordering several hundred more specific-book pages every month, and usually do.  And if I’d been alive back when Dickens was publishing HOUSEHOLD WORDS I would totally have had a subscription.

. . .  [Kes] doesn’t want her life to go High Forsoothly. YES. In spite of my fondness for fantasy and fae and all that . . .  I don’t really believe any of it exists. And I do have a way deep-down fear that someday it will show up and prove me wrong.

I have a deep-down fear that it won’t show up and prove me . . . um . . . right?  Although if it involves wielding a sword—which I know as little about as Kes does††—and riding to battle in my nightgown I’ll pass.  So would Kes, of course, if she didn’t have a mean author jerking her around.  I’m sitting here wondering what I can safely wish for, in terms of some manifestation of magic in this our real world, you know?  Be careful what you wish for.  Is there anything that is both undeniable and harmless?

I can totally understand the act of closing eyes to force reality to come back. . . . .  But I’ve also dealt with GMs before, and I know full well that you never break in the middle of a mind-frelling (and/or battle) bit.

I’m really worrying about ‘GMs’.  Gastric Mucosa?  Grandiloquent Mayhems?  Giant Metatarsals?  Gorblimey Maelstroms?

Plus which, like TheWoobDog, I’m assuming this will not end with Kes a smear and Murac saying ‘Gah, wenches’

::falls down laughing::

or something of the sort.

I think ‘gah, wenches’ will do nicely.

Ivonava

I *am* worried about Sid. I’m getting close to pulling an entitled reader moment

Hee hee hee hee hee hee.  Try it.  Go on, try it.  Hee hee hee.

and demanding to know where she is! Too many episodes without Sid!!!

Mwa hahahahahaha.  Hint:  there may be barking soon.

And that twisted strap thing? If Kes doesn’t fix it, it’ll turn into a nasty. I’ve been there, and I know.

Mwa hahahahahahahaha.

Hunter Gatherer

While I am a partisan of Murac . . . I would like to point out that “A man who takes good care of his horse can’t be all bad.” is kind of a bad way to judge him. As a fantasy style mercenary his horse is his very close to his life, livelihood, and continued good health. Taking good care of his horse is an important business/survival practice and (possibly) has nothing to do with goodness or badness.

We-ell.  Point taken, but I don’t think really effective partnerships between Person and Horse are made if the person solely looks at the horse as a means to an end.  I don’t think the horse is going to put itself out for the person without some kind of, you know, relationship bond, even if the feeding regime and stable management are sound—which as a mercenary’s horse they won’t always be.  So you have to be the kind of dude who can fulfill this charge.  Which means you have some spark of positive emotional connectedness behind that leathery exterior.   Whether or not this has any effect on your attitude toward other human beings is, however . . . unpredictable.

But I can understand how Kes is grasping at straws here after that “at least they’re not going to rape me” moment. (Although I think Flowerhair would not be undecided on the Good vs. Bad issue if Murac were a known rapist there still remains the unknown.)

If Flowerhair knew him to be a rapist she would (excuse me) have cut some salient bits off.  But, you know, The McKinley Story thing can be relied on here too.  If Murac were that kind of total scumbag, he wouldn’t be getting the air time.  Remember that KES is for fun.  I don’t say there won’t be some genuine thorough-going villains . . . but Murac isn’t one.  Although personally I don’t want to invite him over for a cup of tea and a chat about world politics either.

Somehow the comment about Kes’ younger self “She might even have thought Murac was romantic in a ramshackle sort of way.” made me think of her as an Agatha Christie heroine momentarily.

Snork.  Well, I read a lot of Agatha Christie in a very short space of time when I was young and impressionable.  Possibly these things Will Out.

So, on another topic, tangential to Katsheare’s comment… I’ve been wondering if there’s a new kinship with serialized authors such as Alexandre Dumas (and others) developing?

Elizabeth Gaskell maybe.  Or Mary Elizabeth Braddon.  Or Frances Hodgson Burnett.  Or George Eliot, if you will allow SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE to count as serialised.  Or as a novel.

TO BE CONTINUED. . . .

* * *

* Very to the ten to the whatsit power.  Very to the max.

** And if the Story Council should be so indiscreet as to attempt to get in my way I will WHACK THEM.

*** So did he, but that’s another story.

† The internet really is amazing.

†† I took some fencing lessons, but with a modern sabre—nothing like the practical hacking-and-hewing items that Murac and his lot carry, or that Silverheart, for all her superior breeding, is also built for.

If it works, do it again*

 

B_twin

. . . to force BT to put a landline in, since there isn’t one in this centre-of-town, eighty-year-old house with the phone jack in the kitchen.
This is so eye-wateringly insane for me as an outsider that I can only imagine

No, no, you don’t want to imagine.  Really you don’t.

how you can manage to prevent yourself tearing strips off the wall and frothing at the mouth over it.

Hey, I’m not going damage my walls.  But the hellhounds and I do hunt down carelessly parked BT vans and write things like BT DOES NOT RULE on the windscreen in blood-red lipstick.

What did the electricians find behind the phone jack in the kitchen?? (presuming that it is the same system there in that the phone jack has a plastic plate and socket over the hole in the wall where the wires come in to)

Oh you poor creature, hampered by rational intelligence and an assumption of logic.  There has been no electrician/BT technician.  They’re making all these pronouncements by reading their computer screen and making patronising noises at me down the, er, phone.  If they sent a BT operative to Third House it would cost me over £100.  Just to say hi and let him/her in the door.  It costs extra if he/she actually looks at plate and socket . . . and I’d probably have to get a second mortgage if they took the illusory phone-jack plate off the wall and examined whatever is behind it, before declaring that it’s all a fever dream and I should try to get more sleep, sign here, the invoice will follow.

. . but eventually I managed to find the very small print in the handbook that SAYS you can’t turn the ring off the portable handset. It does not, however, tell you why.

There is a radical solution. Next time you want to turn the ringer off (like at night etc) – take the battery out of the handset….          

MESS with the thing?  Give it MORE EXCUSE to misbehave?  And besides, dropping it on the sofa and then flattening a heavy blanket*** over its face is strangely satisfying.

Gwyn_sully

Although for hysterical-making LOUDNESS, any of you have back-up batteries for your desktop computers?

Mrph. We have a whole office full of them. I have insufficient words to explain the delight of them all going off at once.

Oh . . . my.  Sympathies.

Cmarschner

… There aren’t bluebells yet, are there? My mom and I carefully planned our late April/early May England trip to try to intersect with bluebells somewhere – south or north, we’re not fussy.  ::chews nails::   But we’ll be happy with whatever we get. I bet there will be, you know, flowers. Maybe even roses by then…

There will certainly be flowers.  I’m interested that Rachel recommends Gloucestershire for bluebells the beginning of May, but they are that little bit more north than us—ours are mostly going over by then.  But for breathtakingly fabulous spring gardens down here in the south I recommend Wisley http://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley . . . camellias . . . mmmmmm . . . camellias.  And also Savill Gardens and Windsor Great Park http://www.theroyallandscape.co.uk/gardens-and-landscape/the-savill-garden which will certainly have bluebells although I’m not sure what stage of out or over they’ll be in.  Unless April is 80°F all month—which I pray most earnestly it will not be—you’re unlikely to see roses yet:  a few of the first species or species-type roses maybe.  Oh, you may have them in London!  London is crazily early—all that ambient fossil-fuel heat brings stuff on.  You can get roses flowering all winter too sometimes.

But have a spectacular trip.  It’s rather a nice country, England†, I’m very fond of it . . . and it’s pretty frelling amazing for gardens.

And in small personal garden news:  my snakeshead fritillaries are coming out.   http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/sep/07/plant-offer-snakes-head-fritillary  Yaaaaaaaay.  It doesn’t get much better for a fumbling amateur gardener in the south of England:  now if only my mysteriously-alive meconopsises stay alive and produce flowers . . . oh yes and all my roses rush out dazzlingly. . . . It’s hard to remember sometimes that I’d only put stuff in the ground for the first time that very last summer in Maine before Peter happened.  Nostalgia?  Not really.  I’d rather be here.

* * *

* Also, I am tired.  For various reasons I’ve been in Wolfgang way too much today but I found myself in Mauncester before the bookshops closed.  And as if sleepwalking I discovered I was striding through a doorway surrounded by bookshelves.  I was looking for something frivolous . . . or possibly knitting.  Which is, of course, not frivolous.    THEIR KNITTING SECTION WAS TERRIBLE.  But I was already upstairs in nonfiction so I caromed from ‘hobbies’^ to ‘music’ where I picked up, not without effort, Michael Steen’s nearly a thousand pages of LIVES AND TIMES OF THE GREAT COMPOSERS and from there, all bent over from the weight, lurched to ‘religion and philosophy’ where I picked up over a thousand pages of Diarmid MacCulloch’s A HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY . . . for balance.  I then fell downstairs, paid, and crawled out the door.  GET REAL, MCKINLEY.  Oh, okay  . . . so I stopped at the yarn shop on my way back to the car park and bought TWO KNITTING BOOKS . . . but they were on sale.^^

. . . Also, in my defense, I’ve been listening to the MacCulloch on Pooka and really need a hard copy crib.  The subtitle is ‘the first three thousand [sic] years’ and a thousand pages isn’t enough.  The stuff just streams by and you’re staring either at your knitting or some assortment of hurtling hellcritter butts and thinking, What?  Who?  When?  Where?  . . . What?

^ I should have realised that any bookshop that categorizes knitting as a hobby will have no clue.

^^ I narrowly escaped buying some yarn also on sale . . . I gave up CATALOGUES+ for Lent, I didn’t give up yarn, books or sales.  Maybe I need to draw the contract up more carefully next year.

+ Yes.  I did this last year.  I need to do it again.  It’s the negotiating that’s so frelling slippery:  a lot of us, myself included, live by catalogues and the internet, and if you’re buying dog food or black cotton socks or The Art of Song Grade Seven for High Voice so you can give your teacher her copy back, it’s fine and great and a time saver and all that.  But browsing . . . especially because I hate paying full postage on only one item . . . which of course the evil red-eyed drooling site proprietors are counting on.  The latest development, or at least I’ve only just begun seeing it, is these frelling little pop-up boxes that say, Only £1,000,000.06 more and you’ll get not only free postage but an aircraft of World War I tea towel and a stuffed penguin!  —GO AWAY. . . . no, wait, I can always use another tea towel . . . STOP THAT.

*** The heavy blanket, in fact, that is still going with me to the monks’ every Saturday night.  You know it’s supposed to get up to SEVENTY DEGREES [F] tomorrow?  I wonder if I dare . . . noooo, the chapel will still be freezing. . . .

† Barring the politicians, the road signs, the broadband availability, and all the other usual things that are wrong with first-world countries in the twenty-first century.

Regular Forum Day

 

I should declare a dedicated Regular Forum Day.  I read the comments and think oh, yes, I want to answer that . . . and then I get distracted and the comments I particularly want to answer pile up and pile up and then I can’t find the ones I was thinking about and I fuss about this one or that one which would overlap with what I wanted to say about this other one if I could find it/them and then I stress about the ones I miss out, especially the interesting and amusing ones that I meant to get back to but they didn’t fit with the hare I was pursuing right now and then of course I LOSE THEM . . . .

No, I’m not safe to cross the street alone.*

B_twin

Or – when the power is out – [smoke alarms] chirp despairingly** at you. Which I figured meant the back up battery was dead. I had presumed that the battery was what they ran on. Turns out that ours must be wired in. And no, the spare, little square battery wasn’t there. Must have used the spare last time.

At the old house we had this diabolical system where whatever you did . . . was wrong.  They were (apparently) BOTH wired in and had batteries, like yours.  There was the additional factor at the old house however that it was LARGE.  You could wander for days through the winding corridors and up and down stairs looking for the particular smoke alarm piping forlornly.  And if it started at two/five a.m., forget it.  Put a pillow over your head.  Put several pillows over your head.  Oxygen shortage will make your heart thud in your ears louder than the frelling smoke alarm.

Although for hysterical-making LOUDNESS, any of you have back-up batteries for your desktop computers?  So if the power goes out you have a few minutes to save and shut down?  I have never heard anything so loud in my entire life as that thing.  An entire chorus line of Wagnerian sopranos couldn’t make so much noise (HOJOTOHO HEIAHA-HA!!!!!!  etc).  AND IT’S A MAJOR RATBAG TO TURN OFF.  MAAAAAAAJOR.  It’s hammering you with that noise and you CAN’T THINK what you did last time to make it stoooooop—no, you can’t think, THAT’S ALL.  YOU CAN’T THINK.  I don’t believe the power has ever gone off while the desktop was on so I haven’t tested the likelihood that I’m incapable of focussing through the cacophony to save and close down which kind of destroys the point, doesn’t it?  The wretched thing is now years and years old so maybe I could replace it.***  No, better not, my even more ancient desktop, which at present is bizarrely rather reliable†, would probably pine.

Angelia

Your luck is rubbing off–my oven gave up the ghost this morning–sigh.

Oh dear.  Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world . . . Whimper.  Please may my Aga go on working.  Did I tell you that my central heating packed in several weeks . . . um . . . quite a few weeks ago?  Since I spend most of my time crouched by the Aga downstairs it’s not crucial although I should perhaps get it mended in time for next winter, just in case it’s more like winter and less like spring in a rainforest.  But these last two nights when we’ve had frost I do kind of pelt downstairs in a hurry to get dressed by the Aga.  In lots of hairy, fluffy layers.††

Hearthrose

I’ll see you a peacefully chirping smoke alarm in need of a battery and raise you a screaming (yes, the dragons reference is accurate) carbon monoxide sensor… which is a plug-in… and the power goes off… and it screams… and you eventually stash it in the garage, under something large, until your husband can come home and eviscerate it temporarily but thoroughly. Or until the power comes back on. Which ever is first.

So at least it’s portable?  My frelling computer back up battery weighs more than a hellterror.  Probably more than a fat hellterror.  Not to mention that little ‘not making your neighbours hate you’ thing.  I have at least one fairly scary neighbour—Phineas, Atlas and I tend to hide when we see her coming.

Carbon monoxide?  Is this something to do with your furnace/boiler?  As I recall when I was still in Maine they were starting to have screaming radon alarms.  I had no need for one, since I had entire weather systems tooling around through my charming, but aged and leaky little house.  Since it sat on granite and had two one-and-a-half storey granite boulders in the back yard I’m sure there was radon around, but it didn’t settle in and get comfy.

Diane in MN

Pooka continues to refuse to pick up the internet when we’re away from our home wifi. I can have all the little ‘signal’ bars that there’s frelling room for dancing the fandango and singing ‘I feel pretty’ and Safari just sits there saying ‘Nope.

. . . is it supposed to connect automatically to any network anywhere? Or do you have to tell it to locate all available networks, then specify which one to use? . . . Another possibility is that the bars you see are for a wifi network that’s password protected, and if you don’t have the password, you’re toast.

No, this seems to be pretty genuinely a FAULT.  The bars are to do with the automatic if-the-default-wifi-is-not-available alternate system.  Raphael has come and wrestled with it twice and all the ‘settings’ say the right things, they just don’t do what they’re told.  Tech.  Arrrgh.  Speaking of default:  tech = arrrrrrgh.  The problem I see slowly and relentlessly coming into focus is that everything except, for the moment, my elderly desktop, is getting increasingly unreliable:  Pooka, Astarte, the laptop.  I can’t replace all of them.  I wish they’d get together and offload all the nonsense on one piece of kit.  But that would be much too easy.

It was the kind of meeting where your fearless leader decides that you should start with something that makes you talk to each other. [ . . . ] The first thing on the list was: ‘knits’.

I’m not a big fan of these exercises, and if this is typical of the list, I wouldn’t be too optimistic about this one. Just as an example, I’ve found that “I knit” might generate a comment or a question, but will only start a conversation with another knitter.

I pretty much detest all pointless social flimflam.  Either let’s do something or let’s go home.  If I’d gone into the kind of career that started developing Team Bonding Seminars and Group Hug Retreats—which were rare when I was a young thing and I’ve watched proliferate alarmingly as I pursue my cranky, fortunately solo way through life—I think I might have had to change careers.  Or, possibly, had them changed out from under me when I failed the Group Hug Weekend.  In this particular instance, however, the list was long enough you didn’t have time for a conversation, you were busy tracking down the next thing on your list.  Anybody who plays a musical instrument/ knits/ likes Marmite/ would like either to DO SOMETHING or go home, please wave your hand.  I, of course, being able to get stuff wrong even when I’m not trying to get stuff wrong managed to strike up a conversation with the wrong people and had to be chivvied back into the central melee.   Sigh.

Rikke

I think this little fire-movie from Norway is quite funny.

 The geeky person starts by saying “In the beginning it felt really strange. I didn’t understand – why did they want me in their home, when they didn’t respect me at all…?”

http://www.forglemmegeifilm.no/

::falls down laughing::  Yes.  And while it’s more or less clear in context I’m grateful for the translation.

Rachel

I did the fire marshall training at my work. It was very entertaining. How often, these days, do you get to let off a fire extinguisher ON PURPOSE?

::ENVY::

 Among the other gems that stick in my mind, I remember the trainer saying that he changed the batteries on all his smoke alarms every Christmas. Presents, Queen’s speech, change the batteries. He said that way you remember to do it. He acknowledged that some people might want to do it on their birthday instead.

Oh, feh.  That battery had lasted SEVERAL YEARS.  I’m supposed to WASTE SEVERAL YEARS of battery?  I suppose I could buy a five-year diary for batteries  . . . um, no, I don’t think so.  Although I did write down, and put in Wolfgang’s glovebox, when I was obliged to buy him a new battery two (!) years ago.  So I’d know.   Hmm.  Actually I could put ‘Mar 14’ on a sticky label and tack it to the smoke alarm. . . .  maybe that’s too obvious. . . .

Shalea

YOU CAN’T TURN THE RING OFF ON MY NEW PHONE/ANSWERPHONE. . . .

 Grrrr. My husband wants us to continue to have a land line, so we have a phone/answering machine plugged into it. I work from home and no longer answer the land line (anyone I actually want to talk to calls the mobile), and so I wanted to turn the ringer off so I’m not disturbed every time someone calls wanting to sell me something or ask me to donate money to their cause.

Yes.  I am continuing to fail, speaking of failing, to get my act together to finish the process of renting Third House, and one of the obstacles I keep swerving away from is spending the several hundred pounds to force BT to put a landline in, since there isn’t one in this centre-of-town, eighty-year-old house with the phone jack in the kitchen.  Do I have to have a landline?  Unfortunately rental agencies are still kind of traditional about this.

 There is no “ringer off” button on our machine. Or on either handset.

 I think we figured out that for ours, at least, we can silence the ring on the handset but it took some digging and poking in the menus (and I’m usually good at figuring this stuff out).

Well I feel better that the insanity is general.  I am NOT usually good at figuring this stuff out . . . but eventually I managed to find the very small print in the handbook that SAYS you can’t turn the ring off the portable handset.  It does not, however, tell you why.

* * *

* Fortunately I rarely am crossing the street alone.  Usually I am accompanied by hellcritters.

** Just by the way I am interested that Australian smoke alarms make the same dying-battery noises as British smoke alarms.

*** First I have to buy a washing machine.  I’m still whining and wincing.  I need to get on with it though.  The extra-years’ guarantee deal is only till the end of the month.  Not to mention that Peter is threatening to divorce me if I don’t get my stuff out of his washing machine.

† No, no!  I didn’t say that!  Never use the “r” word about computers, it makes them nasty!

†† No, the hellcritters come after the dressing.  Although some of the hairy-and-fluffy kind of migrates.

Ongoing

 

Yes.  Feebledweeb came back this morning.  There was a postcard through my door about my missing my scheduled pick-up.  I’m probably imagining the petulance.  I am not imagining, however, the incredibly long, annoying, would-be mollifying robot email from a critter-supply site I have ordered from for the first time because they sell a Critter Fur Bag that is supposed to protect your (possibly new) washing machine from the extremes of critter hair production.*   Cosy Paws and Fuzzy Tummies Ltd is using one of the shiny new carrier companies . . . which I’ve already had several emails from informing me that my order is creeping inexorably nearer but they’re not going to tell me how fast or anything . . . I have to be AT HOME to SIGN FOR IT and they will only make TWO attempts to deliver before it’s returned to sender, etc.  HOW THE FREAKING ARGLEBLARGING FRELL DO THESE COMPANIES STAY IN BUSINESS?  Apparently I’m supposed to be able to track it tomorrow, when it’s (maybe**) due for Delivery Attempt #1 but I don’t even know what that means.  If I sign on tonight/tomorrow morning at midnight oh one, will it tell me that the driver is at home having a beer in front of the Late Show?***  Will Astarte chirrup at me at 6 a.m.† when the parcel is loaded into the lorry?  Will tracking include a klaxon when the lorry passes the New Arcadia town limits?  Arrrrrgh.  And the Seriously Irritating Robot letter from the critter-supply site says, ooooooh please be nice to us, we’re trying really hard.††  Sure you are.  Change delivery companies.  Change to one that when you say ‘LEAVE THE SODBLASTED PACKET BEHIND THE GATE’ they leave it behind the gate and don’t require me to poke a touchscreen with a plastic stylus in a manner that not only looks nothing like my signature, but doesn’t look like anything remotely resembling anyone’s signature.

The garage started work on Wolfgang today.  I’m supposed to ring late tomorrow afternoon and see how they’re getting on.  The suspense is killing me.  I WANT MY MONKS.  I WANT MY MONKS.  I also have an appointment to talk to Alfrick before service Saturday night.  If I started walking Saturday morning I might get there in time, maybe they’d let me sleep in the porch . . . after all I’d have to bring the hellpack, they can’t keep their legs crossed for thirty six hours, we could keep each other warm. . . .

And I’ve probably decided on my new washing machine.  ::Gasp::  It’s a Miele.  You know what Mieles COST?!  But if you ask six random critter owners what washing machine will best stand up to the depredations of critter fur, they will speak in one voice:  IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT, GET A MIELE.†††

Um.  Ratbags.  Well, the hellhounds don’t eat much . . . and I could maybe buy fewer books and less yarn . . . .

And in other techie news:  My new phone machine appears to be working.‡  I can call out on it.  I can receive calls on it, even if the dargletching ring tone sounds like a drowning pigeon.  I can even pick up messages.  That’s all I can do.  At some point I will have to find out how to erase messages before the sorbligging Message Space fills up.  For some reason a number of people, having read the Are you sure it’s not Friday the 13th? blog post, starting with lecuyerv on the forum and for which thank you, have sent me a link to this:  http://xkcd.com/1343/   Yes.  Exactly.

* * *

* This:  http://www.washingnet.co.uk/en/animal-hair-filter-bag.html

But I didn’t buy it here.  If I’m going to be rude about the seller I’m not going to hang a link on the blog.  But I’ve heard of the site I ordered from, it has a good rep in critter-supply circles, and it had some happy customers reporting on the Fur Bag.

** There is some question about the depot being stolen by deranged djinns.  A little-known prediction of Nostradamus.

*** If there have been any djinn sightings?

† The drawbacks of taking your iPad to bed with you.  Remember to turn it off?  Are you kidding?

†† If we roll over will you rub our tummy?  —No.  I get enough tummy rubbing demands already.^  Humans have alarm clocks to get them up in the morning.  Hellcritters have tummy rubbing.  GUYS.  I’VE ONLY GOT TWO HANDS.  Darkness, who is his generation’s major tummy rubbee, however, does not acknowledge that this creates any sort of common ground with the hellterror.  You call that a tummy? he says.  At which point Chaos, who isn’t totally committed to tummy rubbing but does not want to be left out of anything, ducks under one of my arms, as I kneel blearily on the kitchen floor rubbing tummies while waiting for the frelling kettle to frelling boil, and knocks me over.

^ Also, I don’t like you.

††† Also, who knew that reading about washing machines could be fun?  http://www.whitegoodshelp.co.uk/about-whitegoodshelp-andy-trigg/

Miele is also, siiiiiiiigh, the top of the list by a margin of about seventy-three leagues at WHICH?

http://www.which.co.uk/

Although you have to join.  I’ve joined.  But nothing on earth will make me read an entire article on George Osborne.^ 

^ This comment will become obscure+ as soon as they put some other headline on their opening page.

+ I have a strange reluctance to use the word ‘obsolete’.  I think it’s very unfriendly of Bosch to stop making parts for a mere twenty-plus-year-old washing machine.  I bet Miele is still making parts for twenty-plus-year-old machines.^

^ At these prices, better had.

‡ Mrs Redboots

Um, I’m not quite sure why anybody buys an answering machine in this day and age – can’t you just record your message on 1571, which is what I do? . . . Of course, the huge downside is you have to remember to check the frelling thing, which I never do . . .

Um . . . pathological loathing of BT?^  BT, who, when applied to to turn the landline phone on at Third House declared that there was no cable to the house—the eighty-year-old house in the middle of town with the phone jack in the kitchen—and I would have to pay several hundred pounds to get one installed.  BT, who has insisted for nearly a decade that my problem with the upstairs phone at the cottage is to do with the house wiring and it will cost me several hundred pounds if they send an engineer, even though their own frelling linemen, laughing like drains at the state of the cul-de-sac’s common wiring, says that it is BT.  Yes, it’s true that my series of cheap, simple-minded previous phone machines were BT, but in the first place they were crap and they never pretended to be anything other than crap and in the second place a phone machine is a discrete thing that sits on your desk/table/electric keyboard/floor, it has a beginning and an ending, it has edges, and for that matter you can smudge it with burning sage if you want to drive the BT demons out.  I’m not going to use 1571.  It’s too personal.

Oh, and Peter uses 1571.  And never remembers to pick up his messages.

^ That postmistress didn’t retire.  She went to work for BT.

Conversations about music

 

I am wallowing, as if reclining in a hot bath*, in the forum conversations about music.

Midget

. . . the flute DOES take a colossal amount of air. My woodwind methods teacher maintained that it didn’t really take that much air if you knew how to manage it correctly. Us students listened attentively, agreed that you probably did learn how to manage your air after 40+ years of playing at a professional level on Broadway and with symphonies, and then put our heads between our knees to avoid passing out.

Yes.  I took approximately two flute lessons in my youth because, as a really bad piano student, I was greatly attracted to the idea of a single line of music to have to read, and I think the flute goes on using the standard treble clef?**  Your first two lessons are in treble clef anyway, at least if you’re a known piano drop-out.  I was so hilariously incapable of keeping my fingers on the right little holes–hole covers–buttons–something that the question of air supply didn’t present itself but I had a faint premonition that it eventually would.  Oisin plays the flute.  There was a cotton-wadding-brained scheme at one point that when he bought himself a new flute I’d adopt his old one, and take a few more flute lessons.  In our copious spare time.

But I like the noise a flute makes, it doesn’t have reeds, and all those brass things and strings look waaaaaay too hard.  In my fantasies I still take a few flute lessons eventually.***   I hurtle many, many hellcritters† on a daily basis.  My lungs would probably say nooooooooo, not a flute too, what next, a frelling marathon?

Blondviolinist

(Uh oh. Does the forum’s Pollyanna Principle apply to composers who’ve been dead over one hundred years?)

Not when it’s Wagner.  Stab away.  I have come round to Wagner a fair distance but . . . in the first place I’m one of these wet liberal dweebs who believe that who you are matters, not just how talented you are.  I guess Wagner was a genius—I guess—but he was a redolently nasty piece of work†† and I will never love him, and I will never not somehow resist his music because at some level I think you can hear that however fabulous it is it was written by someone who was, at heart, an evil creep.

Now, please, we will stand back to back to defend ourselves against the ravening pro-Wagner hordes.

Jmeadows

[The beginner flautist] needs to learn to take small, quick breaths, staggered with when the other flutists are taking theirs. (So there’s not a gap in the sound.) She can make breath marks on her sheet music. Even if she doesn’t need a breath in some of those places, she should take it because there will likely be somewhere coming up that she should not inhale.

This is just like singing.  Just like.  Nadia was making me put fresh breath marks on a piece just this Monday, so I would take a breath I didn’t need so I could sing through the place I needed the breath and shouldn’t take it.  I suppose the whole frelling line thing is true across all music?  Sometimes just going thud, thud, thud according to the beat or time signature or what-have-you results in . . . well, in thud-thud-thud.  Music requires a line.  Sometimes taking a breath in what seems like an obvious place—like the end of a phrase—results in the whole thing going flump.

Maybe especially when I’m doing it, of course.  Someone with a high flump tendency can be somewhat ameliorated by being buried in a group however.  ::Looks around nervously::  Three isn’t really a big enough group.  I told Nadia about my thrilling Sunday-evening debut, including that I was audible.  Most of the rota of evening-service backing singers have ordinary-congregation-member voices, not three-years-of-Nadia voices. ††† THANK YOU, I said.  Just doing my job, said Nadia.

Midget

My husband . . . plays the trombone. . . . It . . . helps that he has the longest arms on the planet. I was whining one day about how I had to nearly dislocate my shoulder to get the slide out to 7th position (as far out as you can go without taking the slide off the instrument) and he smirked and said, “You just have to unbend your elbow.” No, that’s what YOU have to do, Mr. Orangutang Arms.

My long-lost twin brother.  At last!  I have found him!  —Maybe I should take trombone lessons.  It would be nice to get some practical use out of the length of these arms that stick inches out of every shirt on the planet except Men’s Extra Large with the Knuckle Chamois for protection from rough ground.  Although I admit that being able to reach the top shelves of a kitchen built of offcuts rescued from the tip by a 6’2” bloke was a bonus.  And Peter’s arms aren’t short.

I never got . . . far in my string workshop classes. I was too busy being appalled that I had to move my fingers AND my arm at the SAME TIME. Nope. Not happening. That’s far too many appendages to coordinate simultaneously.

Yup.  Big problem with the piano, that organization of too many appendages thing.  You mean your fingers have to act INDEPENDENTLY?  Like maybe ALL TEN OF THEM [all right, all eight of them and two thumbs] AT THE SAME TIME?  AND YOUR ARMS MAY BE GOING IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS?  AND YOU MAY BE PLAYING TWO DIFFERENT TIME SIGNATURES SIMULTANEOUSLY???  AND YOU MAY BE DOING THIS AT SPEED?

I more or less eventually plumped for voice because the piano is such an abominably solo instrument, and if I’m ever going to do stuff with other people—at least without them running away screaming—I need to be in a group.  But the great thing about the piano is that the noises you make are FIXED.  You have a key, and you whack it, and a little hammer hits a little wire or wires and PLINK you have produced a note, no muss, no fuss, no bother and, barring psychotic piano tuners, no doubt.

The problem with the human voice, similar to the problem with strings and most or all of the brass, is the margin for error in the actual note.  There are days I long for the frelling security of the piano, even a piano that needs tuning.  In some ways singing is worse than trying to organize all those arms and fingers . . . whiiiiiiiiiiine. . . . .

I was also distracted by the thin strands of razor wire that pass for strings slicing my fingertips to bits. Ow ow ow ow ow.

Yes.  I had exactly one guitar lesson, for this reason.‡‡

Glinda

Muscle and physical memory etc. are required for organ, as well… sometimes both feet (and legs, therefore) doing simultaneous different things, as well as both hands and arms… but at least we have keys and pedals and they stay in the same place!

Yes, as above, about the piano only more so.  I can just about do the ten-fingers thing on a good day and a not too demanding piece, some nice little item by Scarlatti or Clementi or one of those late baroque/early classical guys who wrote a lot of stuff for their rather slow students.  I can’t get my head around the idea of DOING IT WITH YOUR FEET TOO.  I watch Oisin skating back and forth on his organ bench while his feet are skipping the light fantastic and have to remember to shut my mouth, which has a tendency to drop open. . . .

Stardancer

Midget

I was too busy being appalled that I had to move my fingers AND my arm   at the SAME TIME.

This is not dissimilar my experience in basic piano class. “Right hand on…C major. Left hand on the…C major…no wait that’s bass clef… Whole note in the left hand, half notes in the right…OH NO I HAVE TO CHANGE WHOLE NOTES!”

Yes.  Different ones with every finger.

I also did the classic (?) thing where I finally learned to read bass clef, and then BOTH of my hands wanted to play in bass clef. It was funny in a seriously discordant kind of way.

Oh, I can do the two clefs thing (she says airily).  It’s doing them together I have a slight problem with.

. . . And now I have to go SING, you know, officially, with the piano keeping score.  Blondviolinist—who is violinknitter on Twitter—tweeted that she now has I Want to Be a Prima Donna [donna, donna, donna, I long to shine upon the stage;  I have the embonpoint to become a queen of song . . . ] stuck in her head.  Yes.  It’s a real earworm.  I was singing it out hurtling earlier.  I do try to be a little circumspect under people’s windows at gleep o’clock in the morning however which would be, you know, now, so I need to get it out of my system.

* * *

* I finally gave up feeling hard done by because I’m pretty well allergic to all known amusing bath supplements, bubbles and oils and so on^, with the realisation that reading in your hot bath is not enhanced by the presence of bubbles.^^  Okay.  Fine.  I will adjust my resentful envy to focus on people who can play the piano with both hands and sing at the same time and people with really long thick hair.^^^  And if you miss the hot-bath-oil smell you can always burn a suitably fragranced candle.  Feh.

^ I Was Betrayed by Crabtree and Evelyn.  I got through a lot of it before my skin said, okay, we’ve had enough of that.  You don’t believe it?  ::RASH::   Ah, the fabulous rashes of my life.  I have been the Incredible Lobster Girl on several occasions and have enjoyed none of them.

^^ Although the damp sticky exploded-bubble marks on the pages would not be a problem if you’re reading your iPad in its little plastic jacket.

^^^There’s a poster in a hairdressers’ window that I hurtle past, dragged by an assortment of critters, that says, Instantly hydrate dry hair by 41%.  It’s been there for months and it makes me crazy.  FORTY-ONE PERCENT?  NOT FORTY-TWO?  OR THIRTY-NINE?  WHAT THE FRELL DOES THIS MEAN?  WHAT DO THEY THINK IT MEANS??

** I’ve just tried to look this up and became embroiled in a whole series of these graphic-heavy sites that furthermore won’t let you out again.  What’s so difficult about telling me what clef a flute uses? 

*** In the fantasies of my fantasies, I take a few violin lessons.  Since that day, what, two or three years ago, when one of those unaccompanied Bach violin things came on the car radio—and I’ve heard them before, you know?  But somehow the heavens opened and the angels sang that day, and I had to pull over to the side of the road and listen.

† Twelve churning little legs several times every day.  That’s a lot.

†† And in my end of the playground, so was Dickens.  So was Tolstoy.

††† There were some nice ones in the scratch choir for the carol service, but none of them come to evening service apparently.

‡ About halfway through rehearsal I realised I was hearing myself through the microphone, not just because I’m very close to my own ears.  And one of my friends—who sits at the back where I usually sit—said afterward, it was really nice to hear you up there.  You could hear me? I said.  Oh yes, she said.

‡‡ I also had two or three bagpipe lessons.  There, your cheeks give out from blowing up the frelling bag all the time.  When you stop your entire face rattles and shakes like a train going over a really bad patch of track.  Rubbuddyrubbuddyrubbuddyrubbuddy.  

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Sometimes I think a writer should make up his mind whether he's going to be a writer or a reader. There isn't time for both. -- Jessamyn West