November 18, 2016

Happy Birthday to me. Not.

 

. . . Also, yesterday. I’m now officially even older than I was.  This keeps happening.  You’re just kind of getting used to being twelve or thirty-five or fifty or a hundred and three and zap you have to get used to being thirteen or thirty-six or fifty-one or a hundred and four.  And that’s not good enough either!  Fifty two more weeks and you’re fourteen or thirty seven or fifty two or a hundred and five! No wonder human beings are so insecure.  Stuff keeps changing.  It’s very unsettling.

So yesterday I didn’t ring the garage because I figured if there was any good news they would have rung me and I didn’t want avoidable bad news on my birthday.* But the hellmob and I had a variety of nice walks even if they were perforce in town, I gave myself the day off from hitting myself repeatedly in the head with a brick, I mean, working on story-in-progress, and I had dinner out with a friend.**  We had a really lovely relaxing delectable dinner*** and I don’t think I gave our waiter a nervous breakdown with all my searching questions about ingredients.†  I even had half a half glass of wine.††

And I came home, hurtled the hellmob for the last time, opened all my presents . . . and fell into a deep funk. This time last year Peter was so frail he stayed in bed and didn’t come to the birthday party in one of Rivendell’s little private function rooms.  We took turns ferrying him fizz and dainties. . . .

Life. Birthdays.  Crap.  But I have several excellent new books to read.†††

* * *

* I rang them today. They’re in negotiations with the old VW parts factory in Viti Levu for the pristine 20-year-old VW Golf pedal box kept in a glass case outside the CEO’s office as a particularly fascinating example of last century’s technology^. They will ring me when they have anything to tell me, like whether I’ll get my car back before the frelling end of the frelling year.  At least they’re not saying ‘buy a new car’.  Hey!  He doesn’t even have two hundred thousand miles on him yet!  A diesel VW ought to be worth 200,000 miles!

^ I have no idea why it’s particularly fascinating. I have no idea what a pedal box is.+

+ I mean, why would you keep your pedals in a box? Generally you want them out doing mobile, pedally things.#

# I know, I know. Don’t tell me.

** I think this was the first time I’ve been in a skirt since Peter’s memorial. I’ve almost forgotten how.^

^ Tights. Where do I keep my frelling TIGHTS?

*** I may have knitted between courses

† It seems like a great idea that restaurants post their menus on line these days^ and if you eat like I do you need to check ahead one way or another. It’s easier and less embarrassing to do it via google rather than get into one of those no-win conversations with a phone-answering member of staff who has probably heard of gluten-free and lactose intolerance^^ but by the time you’ve rejected several harmless-sounding possibilities due to the presence of nightshades or cereal grains you can hear the person at the other end of the line wanting to go into another line of work.  Immediately.  So I read up before I go anywhere and then I get there and . . . they’ve changed the menu.  The, one might almost say delicious, irony here is that this is likeliest to happen in the local-seasonal-footprint-conscious restaurants I’m likeliest to opt for.  This happened last night.  It will probably happen again tomorrow night when I’m having dinner with some other friends at another local-seasonal-patient-with-the-deranged restaurant.

^ especially if you’re some frelling import like me who can’t get her head around the idea that traditional British food means meat, stodge and gravy.  There are quite a few old-fashioned pubs in this area who are awarded lots of stars and fulsome acclaim on Trip Advisor where there isn’t a green veg in sight, where the side dishes are all things you can do with potatoes.  What seems to me even more bizarre is that you may be likelier to see aloo masala or onion paratha than a plain mixed green salad or, you know, Brussel sprouts or leeks+ or something you or your neighbour might very well have in your garden.++  I know Britain is now Curry Nation but until global warming gets a better grip we still can’t grow turmeric here.  And personally I’d prefer to go on importing our turmeric and not grow malaria here either.

+ You know, fresh local seasonal veg.  I also prefer to stay away from restaurants whose menus are advertising fresh asparagus in November.

++ It’s not looking good for the five# a day.

# Or seven. The latest seems to be seven.  And people are still eating at Macdonalds.  Oh but wait, they’re having a bedtime snack of broccoli with their hot milk, right?  And getting up in the morning to a ginormous platter of raw spinach salad with their hot caffeine. Come on guys. Vegetables are good.  Vegetables are friendly.  Vegetables have your best interests at heart.

^^ I haven’t given you the gruesome details of my ‘food poisoning’ the other week, have I? My medical herbalist, whom we will call Gundred, both because she deserves a name and because ‘medical herbalist’ is a daunting phrase, persuaded me that goats’- and sheep-milk products were worth a try.  Non-cow dairy would contribute to Building Me Up and it would be a nice boost to variety in my diet.  Well I like the yogurt and I like kefir a lot+ but the cheeeeeeeese. . . . . I had no idea I loved/missed cheese this much. AHHHHHHHHHH.  Eating cheese again is like the first thing that has made me happy since Peter died.++

So one of my visiting friends and I went to lunch at one of the local pubs who is Used to Me. And lo they had changed their menu—local and seasonal, you know—to include a root-veg salad I could actually eat without asking them to hold half the ingredients and substitute the other half.  The salad included feta cheese.  I adore feta cheese, I (now) eat it at home regularly (wheeeeeee).

I put my friend back on the train and went home and felt sicker and sicker and sicker and every bone and muscle in my body turned into one big throbbing ache and I had dancing anvils in my head. And I thought WTF, this is my dairy allergy. I tried to think of anything else that might have done this to me, failed—but the dancing anvils were having a somewhat negative effect on my thought processes—and eventually in despair googled feta.  Where I was informed that it was, indeed, goats’ and/or sheep cheese, but some evil ratbag Northern Europeans sometimes made it out of cows’ milk. Which is pretty clearly what happened to me.

It’s taken me frelling weeks to recover.  Everything hurt and none of the bendy things bent properly, so for example closing my hands on a bell rope or a berserking hellterror who wants that other dog to know that she is the meanest SOB in the valley was both unpleasant and perilous.  But when the frelling eczema started I panicked because this was a good two weeks after the incident and I was afraid my body was rejecting the goats and sheep too. Noooooooo. But the eczema has subsided . . . and I’m still eating cheese (and yogurt and kefir).

But my point is I don’t torture waiters for fun.  I’m pathological for cause.+++

+ And since I have to make my own it had better be worth it. Although making it is kind of fun.  It’s like a school science project.  You mix the weird stuff together and then you put the result in a jar and wait to see what happens.

++ The high doesn’t last, of course, but for the few minutes I’m actually eating cheese the world cannot touch me.#

# Barring the hellterror getting the refrigerator door open~ or one of the hellhounds climbing the garden wall. Because they can.  I hope they can’t, but I wouldn’t put it past them.  Reasons the hellmob are never in the garden unless I’m out there too.  Especially now we’re surrounded by little yappy dogs. Arrrrrrrrrgh. Although the ones we share walls with are fine really.  Damien is on the other side of the cul de sac.  And the hellmob isn’t in the Lodge’s garden without me either.  They probably could get over that wall, but eating Damien would probably give them food poisoning.

~ I Live In Fear

+++ As part of Birthday Celebration Week we were going to go to one of the big national gardens that plants for year round interest as they say, not to mention tourist money.  But we had thunderstorms and horizontal rain today in unpredictable bursts, so we went to a film instead.  I’ve seen three films in the last six months.  I hope you’re impressed.  Hey, I could do a film review post.# Today’s was ARRIVAL.  And never mind what I thought of it—I’ll tell you that in my film review post—it more or less begins with our heroine being told she has ten minutes to pack before the big guy takes her off to a top-secret-clearance military encampment.  This is one of twelve top-secret-clearance military encampments all over the world, pitched next to twelve alien spacecraft which have materialised out of nowhere and seem to want the natives to talk to them.  Our heroine is a hot shot linguist.  But I was thinking, if some big guy knocked on my door and said, I Am Going to Give You the Chance of a Life Time, you have ten minutes to pack, I would say, wait, can you GUARANTEE 100% fresh organic food to a strict schedule, to include barrowloads of dark green leafy things, no cereal grains, no nightshades, a hearty dose of chicken liver every week, ditto oily fish, goats’ and sheep cheese and some funny beverages including green tea, kefir, kombucha and coconut water?##  No?  Well, nice try.  See you round.

It’s a good thing I had lots of adventures when I was younger.

# And while I’m at it, remind me to rant at you about the new ROH staging of NORMA. Snarl.

## And adequate accommodation for three hellcritters.

†† They didn’t have organic fizz so I had to settle for organic red. Never mind.  The novelty was shocking enough.  And after nine dry months three sips was about my limit.  But hey, I wasn’t driving.

††† And a box of vegan organic chocolate. How fabulous is that?  Except for the fact that I don’t eat sugar. Drat.  Okay.  Wait.  I figure on the three-sips-of-organic-wine standard these will last till my birthday next year

Tragedy

[This was supposed to go up last night, of course. Technology is so not my friend.  And today has been complex.]

Wolfgang died.* Waaaaaaaaaaaah.

And it’s Saturday night, I can’t ring the garage till Monday.** I’m wild-eyed, hair-sticking-out terrified that it’s the kind of serious that means ‘not worth mending in a twenty year old car’. I DON’T WANT A NEW CAR. And that’s aside from my interesting cash flow problem, which is to say lack of flow.  I own three blinging blanging doodah frelling houses, but keeping the hellmob and me fed*** is much more unpleasantly exciting than nourishing and jolly.  I like my excitement in stories. I like food† just to be there.††  NEW CAR???  Not in this reality.  So, okay, after last Tuesday I wouldn’t at all mind being transferred to some other reality. . . .

I finally got some sleep last night.††† I hadn’t had anything even close to resembling sleep since the beginning of the week—I’d had a late Sam shift and then I stayed up watching the returns ohGodohGodohGodohGod when the world as I thought I knew it ended Tuesday night.  It’s very hard to sleep when the world is a suddenly stranger and scarier place—I’d never thought it was exactly safe, but I thought there were some limits—and there’s an evil asshole about to destroy the country of your birth.‡  Friday I even blew off handbells. Shock.  Horror.  I did go, but I fell apart at the tea break and spent the rest of the evening knitting.‡  And scowling.‡‡  Hey, there were four ringers without me, and major (eight) is a lot easier than royal (ten).  I WAS DOING THEM A FAVOUR.  Especially because Niall makes me ring inside.‡‡‡  So maybe it was the handbells that broke me.  Whatever.  I came home and slept.

And so managed to scrape myself out of bed in time to go to morning Mass. I had decided that God was just going to have to forgive me for a week I didn’t make it to morning Mass, if she wanted me at morning Mass she could have made Hillary win.§  The problem with Saturday morning Mass is that I will then turn around and hare back out to the abbey for the Saturday night prayer service with the half hour silent sit beforehand§§.  Twice in a day and it’s like I can begin to discern tatty black robes swishing around my ankles.§§§  But Wolfgang and I toodled home after the night service, and I was feeling as mellow as I ever do, especially since last Tuesday, and I had just backed into our parking space and I was throwing the clutch out to roll forward a few inches so that I could still get at my bins and my garden shed and the clutch pedal shot into the floor and stayed there.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaah.£

* * *

* It has so not been a good week.

** Okay, I could ring the garage.  But no one would answer.

*** Especially since all of us but the bullie have stringent dietary constraints. Pav only requires that she be able to get her mouth around it.  When this proves to be an item of hellgoddess clothing there is domestic drama.

† and books. And yarn

†† The bullie is with me on this. The hellhounds would much prefer food not to be there.

††† Meanwhile I have another half done post, this one about my Realio Trulio Finished Knitting Project^, but the project will stay finished so I can come back to my unfinished blog about it later.^^

^ It’s about as dead boring as a Knitting Project can be but it is finished. Which makes it automatically glorious and fascinating within my knitting life.+

+ I have now reverted to the feltable wool that is going to become a series of grotty little bags, the important one being destined to carry super long knitting needles. Does anyone else have needles that are too long to fit in any standard knitting needle containers?#   I suppose I could just stick them in a vase but most of my vases are full of dried roses from various occasions.##   But between needing a bag pole-vaulting pole length and not being sure how much the thing is going to shrink when I felt it, people keep mistaking the long thin item coiling off my lap for a scarf.  Several scarves.  Several Doctor Who scarves.

There are two reasons I’m back to my felting-in-their-future bags over all the other unfinished knitting projects lying about the place.  The first one is that I really like rectangles. I really, really like rectangles. You know, no shaping, no frelling counting. You just knit.  And knit.  And knit.###

The other reason is that I do a lot of knitting after morning Mass, when you can sit around with a cup of tea and chat with monks and anyone else from the congregation desirous of caffeine and possibly a little time to slot back into normal life.#### And, aside from all the jokes about knitting long johns for monks#####, one of the monks, whom we will call Aloysius, has decided that I never finish anything and demands proof that this is not true.  Uh oh.  So, I figured, felting might disguise some of my inevitable irregularities, if I’m going to have to pass the object in question around to an assembly.  An assembly of jocular monks. I mean, I’m not exactly reliable, even on rectangles.

# No, of course not. Everyone but me knits on circulars. Uggggggh.  SOMEBODY (else) must knit on super-long straights OR THEY WOULDN’T SELL THEM, right?

## Yes. I save empty champagne bottles too~.  And one or three bottles that once contained spectacular reds.  Including my first experience of Vieux Telegraph, which put Peter’s beloved strong, leathery French reds~~ on my, you should forgive the term, radar.  That was on our honeymoon in Cornwall.  Sigh.

~ Some of these are also full of dried roses.

~~ I AM NOT GOING TO TOUCH the whole Rhone/Bordeaux/Burgundy/claret thing. Among other reasons because I don’t understand it.  But Peter could pick out one of these gorgeous items from the brambly, brain-stabbing boscage of a wine list while I sat back contentedly and waited for my glass to be filled.

### Yes. I’m a process knitter.  More finished objects would be nice, but it’s the knitting that’s important.  Although the fact that my finished objects tend to be pathetic may have something to do with my attachment to process.

#### If going to Mass doesn’t rattle your cage, you’re not paying attention.

##### Which would be a VERY GOOD THING in that chapel, but it would be kind of a pity to cover up the orange, yellow, pink, purple, blue, scarlet and lime green wool I’m using. If they’d agree to raise their hemlines an inch or two . . . it doesn’t have to be a lot . . .

^^ With dead boring photos.

‡ [with vast reluctance this rude and ribald footnote concerning a prominent evil asshole has been excised for fear of legal reprisals SIIIIIIIIIIIGH.]

‡‡ Knitting when I’m brain dead could have some impact on why my FOs tend to be pathetic.  I’M A PROCESS KNITTER.  SO WHATEVER.

‡‡ I’m still in black. I could do this for quite a while.  When I was younger and less haggard I wore a lot of black, and I Never Throw Anything Out.  So I still have . . . a lot of black.  I’d forgotten.  I’m quite glad to see some of it.  Perhaps not all at once.

‡‡‡ All right, ringing ‘inside’ is more fun. You know, like walking across Niagara on dental floss is fun.  The first pair (. . . of bells) and the last pair are usually the easiest of any method—‘easiest’ being relative, there is NOTHING ABOUT handbells that is easy, except maybe the sitting down in the warm part, which is the single thing that handbells have over tower bells, which tend to occur in gelid towers—and the inside pairs are the ones that dance the hokey cokey with your brain and leave you with footprints on your grey matter.

§ I have a great idea! Let’s all pray that the electoral college vote to DO AWAY WITH THEMSELVES, AND HILLARY WINS RETROACTIVELY ON THE POPULAR VOTE.

§§ It’s a ratbag that Saturday night tends to be popular for live entertainment. Three of us went to KISS ME KATE last Saturday and it was very, very well done . . . and I’d forgotten how frelling ANNOYING it is because I only remember how great the tunes are.  I should have stayed home and gone to the monks.

§§§ Okay. Black is good.

£ Also, who wants a new car when their old one is kind and thoughtful enough to break down in his own driveway? Aside from . . . £££££££££££

* * *

SUNDAY NIGHT UPDATE: I spent an hour on the phone to the RAC^ this afternoon trying to extricate myself from being the add-on to Peter’s membership, siiiiiiigh, the things that frelling ambush you, I hadn’t wasted a single thought on the likely status of my RAC membership all this year, till last night.  And as so often this year dealing with Corporate Great Britain, the individual human beings were friendly and helpful^^ BUT THE ADMIN IS A NIGHTMARE.  But they eventually beat their data base into submission and sent me a person. The person was about seven feet tall, eight feet wide, covered with tattoos, and looked like he probably juggled blue whales before breakfast. EEEEEEEEEEEEEK.  He was also very nice.  He said ‘broken pedal box’, whatever the doodah that means, but it sounds less threatening than ‘whole new clutch assembly’ which was what I was afraid of, because that was going to be the moment when everyone, beginning with the guys at the Warm Upford garage who have kept Wolfgang on the road the last twenty years, tell me helpfully that it’s not worth it for a twenty year old car.  LET ME GO ON THINKING THAT ‘BROKEN PEDAL BOX’ IS NOT THE END OF THE LINE. And Mr Tattoo DROVE Wolfgang out to Warm Upford with a note from me to stick through the garage office door for Monday morning.  He DROVE Wolfgang without a clutch.  Gibber gibber gibber, I said . . . and then it occurred to me that once in days very, very much gone by, I knew how to drive an elderly, persnickety vehicle without a working clutch.  And the person who taught me this interesting skill—this being about thirty years before internet searches—may be reading this blog.  ::Waves::

Stay tuned. And anyone of a praying persuasion, pray for Warm Upford to say ‘no problem.’  I’ll worry later about the six weeks that it’s going to take to import the last in existence new pedal box for a twenty-year-old Golf from Viti Levu.  I might have to start taking daytime Sam duties, when the buses are running.  No!  No!  Anything but daytime duties!

^ I have no idea what RAC stands for, but they’re the UK Ghostbusters+ of broken-down cars.

+ Who you gonna call?

^^ Um, mostly. I think one of them had had a late Samaritan shift last night and hadn’t had enough sleep.

 

Time, time

 

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

^^ HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

† With my voice, voice lessons are unequivocally trifling fripperies

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

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

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

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

Life as a 21st century semivegan*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday was wonderful. Really a high point.§

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*** Spoiler alert: ARRRRRRRRRRRGH.

† Oh that old whine again

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

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

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

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

^^ rent

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

‡ Um, ‘peace’?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten four

 

It’s the hellhounds’ tenth birthday today.  TEN YEARS OLD.  DOUBLE DIGITS.  How time flies whether you’re having fun or not.

Family portrait

Family portrait

That’s a cat, off to the right.  Which is why their leads are still on.  They (conveniently) really dislike running with their leads bumbling along behind them.*  The churchyard has two resident cats:  the nice one and the troll.  This is the troll.  Also Chaos is lame and has the brain of a burrito, and if the troll started doing his evil troll dance Chaos would be after him and those of us who live with him are already frelling hostage to his drama queen performances–I’m sure he is genuinely lame, but how lame might be open to interpretation–I do not want to live with him after he’s done himself in worse by chasing an evil troll who, having achieved his nefarious aim, has gone over the churchyard wall.

And, because I managed to miss Pav’s fourth birthday earlier in the month, here is an exemplary photo of a hellterror sunbathing:

She might like a tummy rub

She might like a tummy rub

Extra chicken jerky all round tonight.  Chicken jerky because it’s about the only thing in the known universe that the hellhounds consider an exciting edible.

* * *

* The hellterror does not care.  CAT!  CAT!  CATCATCATCATCAT!  There’s a lead with a big fat plastic handle that is almost as big as I am dragging after me because the hellgoddess lost the plot for two seconds?^  NEVER MIND.  I SHALL LEVITATE.

^ Possibly because she was pursuing some other plot, and that hand was flexing in a sword-holding, reins-grasping, steering-wheel gripping, spell-casting or villain-strangling manner.

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