Life is an ugly pond-scum rat-assed bastard and then you die.
This not-eating spell with the hellhounds has been grinding on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on, and they’re moving into serious weight-loss and loss of condition territory. You can see there’s something wrong, especially if you know them from a good patch. Darkness is as bad as I’ve ever seen him. He had another double-ended geysering fit last night, during which he dragged me across half Hampshire; today he had what I call ‘colic’ and what it means is that his guts howl like rabid hyenas and he won’t eat.
Usually we cycle through these spells and come out again without too much damage except to my sanity. Not this time.
Okay, here’s the promised bad news: Pavlova is going the same way. Oh, she eats. But . . .
She’s been having irregularly squishy crap for several weeks. I’ve tentatively put it down to the hormone storms of first heat. But it’s worrying. And I’m a little oversensitive on the subject of critter digestion after almost seven years of the hellhounds.
Then about a week ago she produced a gigantic mucousy thing . . . followed a few hours later with the Yellow Geysers. Noooooooo . . .
I took her to the vet. The vet said ‘colitis’—which is one of those fancy no-help non-diagnosis words, it just means inflammation of the lower gut. We knew that. He gave us some stuff—including some stronger or different or more comprehensive probiotics, in case this was a result of the antibiotics she’d been on for the skin infection on her forehead after the Malign Encounter in the Churchyard.
We went home.* Her output has been better this week, but not that much better. This has made me unhappy. Meanwhile there are the hellhounds. My stress level could fuel the energy grid of Hampshire, and possibly the entire south of England.
This morning, while she is still on what the vet gave us for ‘colitis’, she produced a gigantic mucousy thing . . . followed a few hours later with the Yellow Geysers.
The Yellow Geysers, which is exactly what the hellhounds have. Have had for almost seven years. It’s not just the runs, it’s a specific form of the runs.
I am so going to the vets again tomorrow. This changes the entire game, you know? If the totally-non-related, different-frelling-breed Pavlova is going down with the same damn thing that has haunted hellhounds and me for seven years. Whatever it is. Doesn’t it almost have to be parasites?** But WHAT parasites? Hellhounds were exhaustively tested for everything known to veterinary science—when they were first geysering. As my bank balance still remembers.
Meanwhile . . . you’ll forgive me if I don’t burble on tonight. I’m not feeling very burbly anyway, and immediate circumstances include that I got four hours of sleep last night. Er. ‘Night.’ Starting about 6:40 this morning. . . .
* * *
* I can’t starve her or she eats her bedding.^ She gets a little rice boiled to mush in chicken stock after an acute attack. This week she’s been on chicken as well as chicken stock and rice.
^ She’s in my lap+ as I write this.++ She’s trying to eat the left mid-thigh of my jeans which I appear to have spilled something INTERESTING on.+++
+ It’s okay. Hellhounds had a sofa earlier.
++ One-handed typing oh joy. What price voice recognition software that actually, you know, recognises, rather than expressing its unique creativity?
+++ No, she’s gone to sleep with her nose on the wet spot she’s been licking. Maybe it will give her tasty dreams.
** Unless I’m the vector.^ Toxic hellgoddess. Yellow Geyser Mary. I also don’t see any escape from the articulated lorry-load of GUILT when—that’s when—we finally find out what this is.
^ And in case anyone is trying to think of a tactful way of making an inquiry of a personal nature . . . I was diagnosed with IBS over thirty years ago, before anyone had frelling heard of it, including me. And Digestive Issues are dead common with people with ME. If this is a trans-species parasite I wouldn’t have a clue. I wouldn’t know normal if it bit me.
I thought I’d ordered a swift and nostepinne. But two days went by and there was no reply to my email. Whimper. Here you are trying to support local/indie talent and not order from frelling amazon and THEY DON’T ANSWER.
They answered. Today. There was a spam bin involved. WELL OF COURSE THERE WAS A SPAM BIN INVOLVED. THIS IS WHAT SPAM BINS DO, IS EAT GOOD MAIL AND LET THE TOXIC GARBAGE THROUGH.*
I now have a swift and nostepinne coming. But the indie talent are still a business, drat them, and they’re not sending them out till MONDAY. Monday is three days away. And then it still has to get here.
I spent a good deal of the afternoon in the garden again, working off Lack of Swift.*** There’s a rather unfortunate Spending Time in the Garden Syndrome however. You’re not a big bedding plant person—you’ve already let the labour-intensive thing get out of control by having too many roses, you don’t need bedding plants too—you’re a mental case of course, gardeners are, but you have no illusions about ‘tidy’ or ‘design’. Stuff goes in where there’s room† and the weeds are really healthy because the one thing you are usually pretty good about is feeding. So you look at the labyrinthine wilderness out there and you think, all I really need is a few good days.
The garden at the cottage is tiny. All I need is a few not-freezing, not-raining afternoons—!
Wrong. The more you do the more you see. And the more you see the more you DESPAIR. Having got most of the urgent stuff potted up or potted on††, the most hostile of the roses tied ferociously back††† and (semi) pruned as necessary, I was reduced to WEEDING today. I actually like weeding‡ but when the forest of ground elder closes over your head and the enchanters’ nightshade twines up your ankles and pulls you down—and enchanters’ nightshade grows fast enough to do this, if you stay somewhere too long, levering up wild poppies or creeping buttercup or those black-leaved pansies that look so cute and innocent and have long almost-invisible roots reaching to China or possibly Mars—AAAAAAAUGH. I’d rather be winding hanks of yarn.
What’s the weather this weekend? I should probably hoover the floor indoors before my friend arrives on Monday. Just don’t let me notice how much else I should be doing. . . .
* * *
* Griselda is in Pago Pago and all her money has been stolen and would I please transfer the entire contents of my bank account to the Evil Scam Holding Syndicate so she can get a glass of water?^ But . . . but . . . I had a cup of tea with her yesterday afternoon and she didn’t say anything about Pago Pago. There must be some mistake. . . .
^ Which is about what the entire contents of my bank account would be worth. Tourist traps are expensive.
** NOW. NOW. I WANT THEM NOW. —You know I’m expecting a mere eight-months’-old puppy to calm down and stop being a manic git. Clearly we were made for each other.^
^ Hellhounds open one eye. Possibly one eye each. Does whatever this thing is run? Can we chase it? —I think a swift on end given a push downhill might canter a bit.
*** Stop laughing. Hmmph.
† And sometimes when there isn’t. That’s where the tiered effect comes in handy.
†† Although it’s been a bad season for mail-order errors. The usual response of big on-line gardening sites is ‘keep it and we’ll send you the right one.’ Or ones. I didn’t actually want four hundred and twelve osteospermums or nine hundred and sixty apple blossom geraniums, some of which actually are apple blossom geraniums, and which are all going like thunder and will need somewhere to put their roots down soon. I was poised to send the sellers photos of their errors as evidence but they must have a certain percentage of goofs built into the system. Do they keep track of who protests? Do they put tick marks against your name? Or merely fry in oil the staff responsible for the blip that caused Hampshire to be carpeted in non-apple-blossom geraniums?
And of course, like every other year, I am waiting breathlessly to see how many of my dahlia cuttings grow up to be what I ordered. I go on ordering them because they’re so much cheaper than tubers—and the awful truth is that I rarely have a cutting failure, while my tubers rather too often decide that the accommodations don’t suit them, they were looking for something a little more up market, with designer chocolate on the pillow and free wifi. But cuttings are wildly unreliable in their own fabulous way. Up to about a quarter of the frellers are anything but what you ordered. It does make you wonder, speaking of staff, what the staff are, you know, smoking.
††† That faint unfriendly humming noise you hear, like a nest of wasps in a bad mood, is the sound of various whippy-stemmed roses with known violent tendencies gnawing through their restraints.^
^ I am still sad I didn’t get around to buying the ‘some days it’s not worth gnawing through the restraints’ t shirt before they inexplicably cut it. There are still cheap knock offs available—and one of these days when it’s not worth gnawing through the restraints I will probably buy one—but this one was a QUALITY t shirt.
‡ There’s a quote out there somewhere that I am failing to google into confirmation, that says something like ‘No one is a gardener who doesn’t like weeding’ which is just a specific-object version of one of the quotes on the blog’s quote thingy: ‘The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.’ Yep. You don’t like rewriting, don’t be a writer. Anthony Trollope may have got away with turning in his beautiful copperplate handwritten first drafts to his publisher, but you and I won’t. Aside from the beautiful copperplate part.
The very last thing I do every night is put Pav out for a final pee*. When this happens EVEN LATER THAN USUAL because, say, I’ve been reading something and HAD TO KNOW HOW IT ENDED**, it may no longer be awfully dark outdoors by the time we get out there for this ritual moment. Hey, it’s barely a month to the longest day, it gets light really really REALLY early, okay? So it was like twilight out there this morning, and I was standing there in my nightgown ready to fend the little varmint*** off the rose bushes and my peripheral vision was caught by movement where no movement should be. . . .
There was a big fat mouse lowering the bird-seed level in the feeder by a rate of knots. ARRRRRRRGH.†
This is my fabulous squirrel proof bird feeder, you know? The one with the integral cage that only little birds can get through. Little birds and the occasional frelling mouse—who was soon going to be too frelling bulgy to get out again. I picked up a stake that didn’t happen to be propping anything important and gave the feeder a move-or-die whack. Mouse leaped out into the shadows—Geronimoooooooooo!—and disappeared.††
The real ratbag about this is that I’ve pretty much decided that the birds don’t like this feeder. I have lots of birds in the garden, and the suet block in the other feeder is eaten down pretty reliably. Er. By birds: I see them doing it. This one—nope. I assume they don’t like the cage.
So today, which was a lovely day†††, I spent a good bit of in the garden. ‡ And one of the things I did was tie the clematis and the rose-bush that are the likeliest mouse-access-providing culprits away from the seed feeder.
* * *
* Hellhounds scorn such wimpery. Pav is extremely continent^ but she’s also always delighted to be allowed to burst out of her crate and attack something. If the price for this indulgence is that she stop attacking things^^ long enough to have a pee, she will do that with reasonable grace.
^ Barring the standard canine disasters. My latest trial is that she’s decided that sheep crap is a delicacy. ARRRRRRRRGH. Even if I hold her upside down and shake, the stuff is kind of friable, you know? It doesn’t all hold together neatly and pop out in a nice cohesive lump.
^^ Dirty laundry, nightgown hems+, feet, towels hanging on the Aga rail, etc. If she’s desperate, dog toys.
+ She has, relatively recently, discovered the joys of rocket-launching her solid little furry self upward inside the circle of hem of the nightgown you’re wearing YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.
** I’ll tell you all about it. Some day.
*** With the little glistening varminty eyes
† Speaking of ARRRRRRRRGH. ARRRRRRRRRGH.
†† Pav was sure she’d missed something. I’m glad to say the mouse leaped into the shadows on the far side of the little courtyard fence. I don’t like mice, but I didn’t in the least want my hellterror catching one.^ Or diving through a rose-bush to try.
^ Either she’d eat it—and its unknown but guaranteed undesirable parasites—or she’d just mangle it a little. They scream, you know. Like bunnies. Bunnies scream. Dog owners need to know how to kill things. Whimper.
††† After we got down to a NEAR FROST last night. One of my pathetic and ridiculous excuses for staying up reading was so that I could keep an eye on the frelling thermometer. The temperature had turned around and was going up again by the time I turned the light off. I get to do this again tonight. Or not, of course.
‡ Have I told you I have two lots of American visitors coming next week? I have maybe half a dozen overnight-staying, pond-crossing visitors in an average year . . . and I have THREE of them NEXT WEEK? WHAT? One of them is an old friend, and if the house(s) is a tip and the garden(s) is a jungle, eh, she’s seen it all before. The other one—and her husband—I’m a little afraid of. Sigh. But nothing is going to turn me into a magnificent housekeeper, a sublime gardener and a superlative hostess in the next ten days, so we’ll just have to muddle along somehow.
Somebody tell me why a bull terrier counts as a mastiff type? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mastiff_Type_Breeds *
Is this the Funny Face category or something? Although I was interested that part of the description is that while these dogs have been put to a variety of purposes, they are most often used for guarding because they generally have a strong guarding instinct. Pav is a surprisingly good guard dog, not something I was expecting.** The hellhounds are hopeless guard dogs.*** And on the one hand you think, if it came to that, how seriously is anyone going to take something about fourteen inches high at the shoulder and weighing not quite thirty pounds? And on the other hand you look at that bull terrier head, even the small, streamlined version, so clearly built for biting, and, having bitten, holding on, and possibly you think . . . uh. I quite like my shins in their current configuration, and having feet on the ends of my ankles. Maybe I’ll go burgle someone else.
Meanwhile: there is a small earnest explosion in response to All Suspicious Noises,† which, if it happens in her crate, is all very well, but if she’s in your lap at the time it can be a trifle disconcerting. She means it too: most of the time there’s a twinkle in that sweet, evil little eye††, especially when she’s having a go at the slippers you foolishly left in the middle of the floor or the shopping bag you’re trying to carry in your non-lead-holding hand††† but she is all business when she’s Responding to a Threat, and if I tell her to shut up too soon she will remain on alert, giving me a brief pitying look because I am not taking her professional assessment seriously enough.‡ I write fantasy so I may be imagining some of this‡‡, but it sure seems to me that the best way to get her to shut up is to appear to be listening intently to whatever it is she’s hearing, and then relax. Oh, she says. Well, if you say so. And she stands down.‡‡‡ Of course if it’s some legitimate disruption, like, say, the delivery man bringing my latest consignment of on-sale yarn,§ or Raphael the archangel come to sort out the latest 4,715 little peculiarities across my range of demon-possessed technology§§, there is an interesting metamorphosis from Red alert! Red Alert! Woop woop woop woop woof! to, Hey! There’s something going on! The hellhounds are having FUN and I’m NOT! Let me OUT OF HERE!§§§
* * *
* But when I tried to click on an outside link I got this:
You don’t have permission to access /m/articles/view/Molosser-and-Rare-Breeds-List-Part-1 on this server.
Additionally, a 403 Forbidden error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
Cheez. What is this, the secret Homeland Security site about the creation of a new breed of anti-terrorist dogs which can leap tall buildings with a single bound and when stressed put out a pheromone that neutralises all explosive material in a 30-foot radius? The FBI has had worse ideas.
** I will now receive a cross email from Olivia saying that she told me. Well, she may well have done, but she hasn’t hit menopause yet and doesn’t know about Menopause Brain.
*** Is it a friend? Is it fun? Can we chase it? . . . Never mind, we’re asleep.
† Some of them inaudible to the third-rate human ear. I will not demean my noble, responsible watchcritter by suspecting that some of them may be imaginary.
†† Southdowner sent me a quote from someone on her bullie list: ‘Flipping through the BTCA Record for 2012. How can you resist a breed praised by judges for “a wonderfully evil expression” and “stunning varminty eyes”?! Somehow I don’t think Labradors or beagles are prized for rottenness…’
††† It has fascinated me for over five decades the way dogs figure out some of what pisses you off but not all. Pav knows perfectly well I’ll come down on her if she bites her lead, for example, or if she runs off with one of those slippers—indeed she runs off with a slipper looking over her shoulder with a wonderfully evil expression in her stunning varminty eyes and she doesn’t just run, she bounds, which is ‘nanny nanny boo boo’ in dog language. But she will not get it about the dirty laundry. When I take a slipper away from her she’s all heh heh heh heh heh. When I take my knickers or my socks away from her she’s all sad and disappointed and it takes her a good two seconds to recover her spirits and find something else to destroy.
‡ The hellhounds may half-open an eye at this point and murmur, You sort her out, Pav, we’re holding the floor down. We need to conserve our strength toward resisting our next meal.^
^ Snarl. —hellgoddess
‡‡ Also I am critter soppy.
‡‡‡ I am not imagining it that she lets me take stuff away from her however. I can put up with a lot of torn knickers and scalloped slippers for the fact that she doesn’t gulp down whatever it is in the two-thirds of a very long second it takes me to reach her end of the long extending lead. In fact chances are she’s just standing there looking resigned. She let me take what proved to be most of half a sandwich away from her today. How amazing is that?^
^ She’s not a bull terrier. She just looks like one. As I keep saying.
§ This is my favourite delivery man. Not only does he actually LEAVE STUFF BEHIND THE GATE THE WAY I ASK DELIVERYPERSONS TO DO^ but he has a dog that rides around in the van with him.
^ Has anyone ever seen a female deliveryperson? Female postpersons are totally common, but I’ve never seen a woman deliveryperson. It can’t just be brute strength; some of the blokes look like they have trouble lifting a medium-sized yarn shipment.
§§ It’s been a long day.
§§§ ‘Here’ may include my long wiry tower-bell-ringing-toned spider-monkey arms clamping her to my chest.
I am beginning to feel—irritably—that I am forgetting what it feels like not to feel shattered. I did go to my Bowen lady today* which always whacks me out and then went to Fustian open practise tonight siiiiiiiiiiigh. The problem with going even to the dummies add-on practise at Fustian—their real practise is about as far over my head as I am over Pav’s**—is that even the dummy advice is to a level and precision that I only aspire to when I imagine being someone else with a good sense of rhythm and fewer nerves. Arrrrgh. I was also the only beginner there tonight—which is another aspect of the problem—I am not a beginner—but compared to everyone else at Fustian I am. I’m not sure this isn’t more demoralising than inspiring—why am I BOTHERING??—and then just to finish the job of deciding that I’m going to devote myself single-mindedly to knitting for the rest of my life I made a complete compound hodgepodge botch of poor old Grandsire Triples which I should have developed some kind of auto-pilot for by now, for those days when you’ve recently been to your Bowen lady and are still feeling a trifle rubbery and glutinous about the brain cells. ARRRRRGH.*** Nobody threw me out of the tower window or laughed nastily or anything, and they still let me ring a touch—a touch!—of Stedman Triples† and a plain course of Cambridge Minor, neither of which I did perfectly but I didn’t do too badly either so I didn’t have to rush out to the car park afterward and order Wolfgang to run over me, in the absence of a sword to fall on. They’re even going to continue to let me come back. And I got some knitting done while they rang spliced Demmelhemmeldrigglefarthing Doodah.
* * *
* We. We went. I hurtle critters while Peter is on the table and then Peter gets tea while Tabitha goes after me.^ Just because he’s eighty-five years old he gets tea! And biscuits! However I’ve made the system work. Tabitha usually gives him two biscuits—beautiful crisp chewy homemade biscuits!—and he only wants one. I nail the second biscuit. Well, I need the strength to drive home, right? After all the hurtling and everything.
^ And critters, strenuously hurtled, flop in the car. I now feel guilty every month for pleating Pav up in that too-small travelling crate for that hour I’m on Tabitha’s table but she actually does curl up in it without looking like Alice after she follows the instructions on the cake to Eat Me. Although, speaking of eating, as long as there is foooooood involved, I’m pretty sure the hellterror would figure out a way to fold herself up like a handkerchief in a pocket, and she goes eagerly into that mingy crate in pursuit of the kibble I have thoughtfully thrown into the back—even if I have to kind of wedge the gate shut behind her.
Did I tell you she’s smaller than Southdowner’s two? They initially looked HUGE to me, but that may just be the effect of the Delighted Bullie’s Response to Getting Out of the Car—Pav tends to get larger under these circumstances also—and they can’t be that much bigger because I managed to lift each of them in turn+ and they are less svelte than Pav. Anyway. I think it is really very sweet and cooperative of Pav to stay small enough to fit in that thrice-blasted piece-of-junk crate—because it’s the biggest that will fit in the space available. Meanwhile she seems to be coming back out of her heat without having ever quite fully gone into it, which means I should probably re-experiment with the fasten-your-critter-to-the-seatbelt harness, except that that will be the moment when her hormones do a u-turn and she PLUNGES into her proper season . . . and there could be Terrible Things Done in the back seat before I frantically pull over to the side of the road and break it up.
Besides, she still chews on any harness I put on her. One of the reasons she’s still wearing her nasty little nylon collar is that she chews harnesses because she can reach them. She’ll shift over to a harness as soon as she either (a) sits quietly to have the beastly thing fastened on or (b) doesn’t CHEW the sucker. Southdowner was expressing the professional dog trainer and behaviourist’s horror at my admission that I allow Pav to take me for a walk occasionally by a pant leg.++ And I daresay I should be obliging her to sit quietly to have a harness put on (and taken off). But . . . puppies do calm down. Well, sort of. But the hellhounds used to eat pant legs and do airs above the ground while their harnesses were put on. They grew out of it. Choose your battles, I say, not being a professional dog trainer or behaviourist, and contain the battles you aren’t engaging with at the moment. I can live with slightly gnawed pant legs and a nasty little nylon collar for the fact that she lets me pry her jaws open. And I’m not doing everything wrong: she checks back pretty often when we’re out, and Southdowner says that checking back is not a big bullie trait. As I keep saying, Pavlova isn’t a bullie really, she just looks like one. . . .
+ It was DARK and I couldn’t SEE PROPERLY beyond that there was a very happy out-of-the-car bullie somewhere in my immediate vicinity and lifting seemed the better choice than falling down, even if it was rather like clutching the Large Hadron Collider only with legs and fur. Both Fruitcake and Scone are white which does make them glow in the dark rather#, but that only adds to the effect of size and several dozen titanium-piston legs and tails.
# Probably something to do with Particle Acceleration
++ There are disadvantages to a public blog. But I knew that.
** Farther. She boings quite a ways, straight up, on those steel-spring hind legs.^
^ And the hellhounds don’t even have to try. They can jump over me. Standing up. Ask me how I know this. I have the scars that are the result of lack of faith.
*** In hindsight I do kind of know why. I haven’t rung there in some time due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unnerved by being the only beginner and I was on the wrong bell. Still. The bottom line is still that I’m a moron.
† It’s a bit depressing ringing with a band who rings Stedman frelling Triples as an indulgence to the feeble. At a normal tower ringing Stedman (frelling) Triples is mostly kind of a big deal.