I have turkey gravy on my bright green solid coloured shirt. It shows.
We finished the gravy* last night.
This is a clean shirt, put on gravy-free this morning.**
Do you suppose quantum physics can answer this one?
* * *
It’s December 31st, for about an hour and a half longer, as I write this. So, what have I done with my 2011?
FAILED to write PEG II. Sigh.
2012 is going to be better. Starting with getting some relatively readable the-end-is-in-sight form of SHADOWS sent in by the end of January.***
So, other prognostications?
By this time next year I will be halfway through the NEW PEG II.
I will also be ringing touches of Cambridge minor.†
And on handbells.††
And, this time next year, the New Arcadia Singers will be hurling impassioned emails at each other about the spring concert, because (after our unexpected success earlier in the year) we haven’t quite nailed the playlist yet and practise starts again the first week of January.
Fantasy, much? Oh . . . well . . .
HAPPY NEW YEAR
* * *
1. And gods don’t they stare.
2. I left my jumper on. No one knows.††† And a good thing too. I was introduced to someone who reads me.
3. Those are my Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse All Stars. It seemed suitable.
4. I am now drinking my champagne.
5. I have to ring more bells in seven hours. Feh.
* * *
* Peter had to make more, of course. Next on the list: More brandy butter. Next on the list: living on lettuce for the entire month of January. Oh, well, in the circumstances I’d better have some protein too. Fried liver of rival publisher. Incompetent copyeditor roast.
** And I have to go ring bells in a few minutes^, and it’s so warm I’m going to have to take my jumper off and stand revealed as a slob. It’s also so warm that I didn’t have tricky winter weather as an excuse not to go ring bells at midnight. Which is to say yes, when I rang Felicity back this morning, having still not quite decided what I was going to say to her, she was so delighted to hear from me I heard myself agreeing to come along tonight. It’s now sheeting. Ugh. Also very unseasonable of it. But maybe all the staring villagers will stay home and watch Singin’ in the Rain or something. Much better value.
^ And sulking, since I want my champagne now.
† With what band and in what tower, I have no idea. I’ll worry about that next year. In an hour and a half.
††† Except you, of course.
The auction winner of IMAGINARY LANDS requested a doodle: ’author’s choice’. EEEEEEEEEP. This sort of thing makes my mind spin out of control. A symphony orchestra dressed as Santa Clauses! The flat earth balanced on the back of an infinity of turtles!* Gotterdammerung! However, after clawing myself off the ceiling, I decided on a sheepdog. But then (I believe the winner to be a blog reader) I thought it might be a good idea to pin it up here and say IT’S A SHEEPDOG. You know, from The Stone Fey. Well, maybe you don’t know, if you haven’t read the story. Anyway. I was originally going to draw the whole serious, head-down sheepdog in full focussed herd mode, but it occurred to me that if you don’t know that’s what sheepdogs look like on the job you might think it was a mad wolf. So we did lying down and looking harmless but alert.
I’ve been doodling and I am BRAIN DEAD (again). SHADOWS. Gaah. Blog post. Gaaah. Sing . . . VOICE LESSON TOMORROW. AAAAAIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEE**.
Believe me, of the few students I’ve wanted to kick out of my studio, none of them had ever doubted their own talent. Not liking what’s coming out of your instrument is the foundation of being able to change it.
. . . Wait, wait, are you SERIOUS? Not about the foundation for change—that makes sense***, but about the undesirable students?? Really? I totally understand the lack of charm of a lazy egoist†, with or without talent, but what about the PATHETIC?†† —I have to keep reminding myself that all I’m aiming at is to get into a slightly better choir than the Muddles†††, which means sight-singing and surviving an audition. And I make a perfectly adequate choir ‡ noise so long as I’m not trying to get into The Sixteen or the Tallis Scholars or something. And Nadia needs to eat. So okay, no, she’s probably not going to fire me. . . . But are you serious? It’s thinking Your Talent Is Enough that pushes patient teachers over the edge? I know that Oisin fires people who don’t practise.‡‡
. . . It didn’t help that I was wrapping the yarn backwards on purl rows for the first, oh, two years I knit. And I wondered why my knitting looked funny.
SAME. Not with the purls, but knits. I wrapped my yarn the other way, so all my knits looked like “through the back loop” knits. I was always really confused why, when I followed the instructions to knit through the back loop, it looked like my normal knitting. And why my purls and my knits looked SO different on the knit side of stockinette.
I love you. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I am so grateful. I feel so much better. And I’m not sure it shows in the photo, but I am getting the little ‘v’s so I ASSUME I’m purling. You will notice that I can’t count worth stale peanuts however—this was supposed to be two rows, switch, two rows, switch, two rows. The gleeps are ad hoc.
I like ribbing! Well, ok, maybe it’s not my favorite thing to do ever, but I don’t mind it at all.
Sigh. I’m planning not to mind ribbing. But then I was planning not to mind sewing up. Very slightly in my defense, I don’t think it’s the sewing up per se that’s the problem—it’s the SPACE to lay the freller out and, even more, what you see when you lay it out‡‡‡, ie, it’s NOT supposed to look like THAT. I will probably have a similar reaction to ribbing. Siiiiiigh. But both Penelope§ and Fiona have said that you only have to pay attention, as in ATTENTION attention, for the first few rows, and then you can do it either by feel or at least by looking at it. Penelope is knitting AN ENTIRE SWEATER in ribbing§§ which she does WHILE SHE WATCHES FILMS.§§§
As one of the people who won an auction square, I have to say that a small but significant part of bidding on it was to have something that was going to hang over your head for a good while.
Books are good. Doodles are awesome. Having something owed me by one of my favourite authors? Priceless. This is a state of affairs that can continue indefinitely.
I may love you even more than I love blondviolinist and jmeadows. I am delighted to indulge you in this matter. . . . . Maybe I’ll learn to do edging to make the situation last even longer. . . .
Now I desperately want Robin to have a pink motorcycle with sidecar for the hellhounds.
Oh, so do I. You can run the charity auction this time. Vikkik will help.
* * *
* Hawking, not Pratchett
** Not in a good way.
*** Even to me
† These are, I guess, the same people who come up to a professional writer at a party and say with a smirk, Oh yes, I’ve always wanted to write a novel, I just don’t have time. Urge. To. Kill.^
^ If they got that ‘jury of your peers’ right, I would be shot out of the courtroom and back onto the street so fast the speed of my passage would blow out the windows.
†† And possibly neurotic
††† Eventually. First I have to get back to the poor Muddles. But believe it or not I’m still having throat problems and I really really really don’t want to have to start all over after I go to choir practise and promptly oversing myself to splinters. Last few days—since, ahem, Wednesday—I’ve been breaking up practise time into two official whacks^. I found out some time ago if I warm up and then go away and come back later to sing properly, it works a whole lot better. But I’ve been kind of pushing it since Wednesday—I AM GOING TO SING DOVE SEI^^ TOMORROW AND IT IS NOT GOING TO BE ANY MORE EMBARRASSING THAN MY SINGING EVER IS—and intelligent pushing means not much more than about half an hour at a time. I can do an hour with Nadia because there’s always a lot of talking and I don’t talk to myself ( . . . much. When I sing).
^ Ah, the joys of working at home, six feet from your piano.
^^ The first two pages. I’ve started learning the third and last, but I want Nadia to go over it with me before I do anything too . . . daft.
‡ I want to respond to some of what you’ve said about Rodelinda, but I did want to say . . . that was a joke, about Blythe being the best alto your little local choir ever had. She’s not my cup of overcaffeinated beverage, but if I sounded one sixteenth that good I would probably die of joy, so maybe it’s just as well I don’t. The truth is merely that I don’t find her voice all that interesting when compared to the Mezzos of Yore.
‡‡ Or, alternatively, plays the organ for them, and then gives them cups of tea. Sigh. SOME DAY when . . . gods, when they perfect the life-extension thing and/or the thirty-six hours in a day thing . . . I’m going to get back to the piano properly. It’s just . . . there’s no POINT to performing music if you can’t perform it with other people somehow, and a choir is a better bet for those of us with more nerves than talent.
‡‡‡ AAAAAAAAAAAUGH, etc
§ Who was clearly trying not to laugh when I was telling her my purling problems.
§§ It’s even two kinds of ribbing: it’s fitted through the body and then flares out in a sort of peplum. It’s really cute. In twenty years or so I may ask her where she got the pattern.
§§§ I might have liked AKIRA better if I’d been knitting. Of course, I have to look at what I’m knitting . . .
To begin with, I finally did the revised cartoon for the tower—the membership drive* one. Vicky has asked after its potential existence a few times over the last several months and last night sidled up to me at practise and said that it would be very nice to have it in time for the Christmas concert, when we can expect a pretty fair turnout of the local riffraff, and I winced and said yes, yes, certainly. I have tended to claim that I’ve forgotten about it—and with Vicky staring at me I’m quite likely to have a blank about almost anything**—but the truth is that when it has crossed my mind I instantly order it back into its corner. Later. I’ll do it later.*** It’s going to be complicated, it’s for a public purpose†, and the reason I was having to do it over in the first place, instead of merely tidying up the original, is because it had to be smaller—A5 rather than A4††. I don’t do smaller. I especially don’t do complicated smaller. So I’ve been putting it off.
BUT I FINALLY DID IT.†††
And then, not content to rest on my laurels, chiefly because resting on laurels doesn’t pay very well, I ripped off a good two hundred and thirty-seven thousand words of THE ATTACK OF THE ZORGS—THE SCARLET PANJANDRUM—CHOLMONDELEY AND THE GOBLET OF RUM PUNCH‡—wait—I’ll get it in a minute—SHADOWS. Well, nearly 237,000 words. What, in my world of writing, where every letter must be chipped out of the granite cliff face with a blunt piton‡‡, counts as 237,000 words.
So I’ve earned being brain dead.
But I still need to sing. And go to bed early it being Sunday tomorrow and service ring is earlier every week.‡‡‡ Saturday nights tend to be when I hang guest posts, supposing I have any available. Not that I’m complaining or anything . . . §
* * *
* Um . . . the membership amble. The membership blindfold donkey-tail-pinning.
** Name? Name? Do I have a name?
*** I’ve had to learn to resist this impulse when I’m doing bell-fund doodles. I’ll pull an order form out and it says ‘a Bactrian camel playing pinochle with a white rhinoceros’ and I go AAAAAAUGH^ and look for something less challenging. I’ll come back to this one later.^^ As I keep saying, the odd ones are fun—it’s that frelling TIME ELEMENT^^^ again. I don’t have to think about fanged muffins. +
^ ONE hump and ONE horn are ENOUGH
^^ Speaking of unusual requests, danceswithpahis has posted to the forum where the hellcat with platypus comes from. And I forgot to mention when I hung the doodle that the hellcat was specified as fuzzy, which is why the hellcat in question is so . . . well, fuzzy.
. . . Those are just my observations: that goats will pick up and chew on things, even though they don’t actually regard it as food.
I’ve only known friends’ goats, never, unlike you, had any of my own, and what little I used to semi-know is decades old. Different breeds of goats are—er—more and less robust in their ideas about food, yes? And with reference to the poor goat you mention who died of eating baling twine, I did wonder about the shingle-eating goats of my acquaintance if they were getting a balanced diet. Eating non-food makes most critter-owners think ‘deficiency’.
^^^ which does not appear on the periodic table because no one has figured out where it fits.
+ Please do not read this sentence out of context.
† I know that doodle-buyers are more or less free to do as they like with their doodles, but I doubt anyone is going to make up several hundred copies and pass them out as flyers. At least I hope not. Furthermore, I’m very unlikely to meet any of you on the streets of New Arcadia.
††† Not without language.
‡ Name, name, does it have a name?
‡‡ Which process is so laborious it is not unusual to have forgotten what the word is by the time I get to the end of it. This is one of my better excuses for embarrassing spelling mistakes.
‡‡‡ I swear. One of these Sundays soon I’ll be able to ring before I go to bed. . . .
§ I never know, when someone promises a guest post and then I never hear from them again, if they have fled the country, leaving all credit cards, passwords and internet facilities behind, or if they did send it and Outlook ate it. This is on my mind a little more than usual—not that my email and I are ever on what you would want to call good terms—because a friend and I have just been emailing back and forth: Did you get mine about —? No, I didn’t, did you get mine about —? Silence.
If we’ve discussed it and you send me a guest post and I don’t answer, SEND IT AGAIN. I love guest posts. Even if I don’t think I can use it or if I want to ask you to make changes I’m pretty sure you won’t want to make, I wouldn’t have ignored it, okay? But since this is my blog and my problem I don’t feel I can chase the no-shows. Very sensible of you, not wanting to write a guest blog, don’t blame you at all. . . .
And yes, ENORMOUS QUANTITIES of sale/auction stuff was parcelled up and hauled off to the post office by the gallant Fiona. Or rather . . . toward the post office. Fiona was here nearly eight hours–and so far as I can tell she never bothers with the frivolities lesser humans enjoy, like tea breaks and food–and was STILL stuffing things in envelopes and justifying my untidy heaps when I took her by the hair* and ordered her to go home. So she’s actually bundled up the bundles and is going to take them–in batches, she says, so they don’t lock the door the next time they see her coming–to her post office.
But I’m still not done. I’m nothing like done. Fiona comes again on the 9th** and then we’ll see where we are. Meanwhile I’m so frelling tired I’m having trouble finding the keyboard.*** Okay, it’s a funny flat thing with bobbles . . . I know it’s around here somewhere. . . .
And I was PLANNING on doing a doodle blog . . . and then discovered that I’d USED the last of my extra-special Blogmom Photo Templates and, you know, she might have been taking her evening off . . . fortunately she was still reading her emails and Took Pity. But it’s a lot later than I meant it to be either.
So anyway. Here are a few more recent highlights.
There are a lot of Mystery Doodle Requests. Why does anyone want a velociraptor on PEGASUS?
And you know what I’ve been DOING while all these photos load? Starting a new knitting project.
* * *
* Having slacked off for several hours to work on SHADOWS.
** Steeleye Span concert. Ahem. –Fiona was playing Steeleye today and Cold Haily came on. QUIET! I said (I believe we were discussing bubblewrap for the illustrated ROSE DAUGHTERs^). I have to LISTEN! They make it sound so easy.
^ One of the insane people who has spent excessive amounts of money for her very own personalised copy of this huge glamorous art book illustrated by a genuine fine artist WANTED A DOODLE. (*&^%$£”!!!!!!!!! I also nearly had a heart attack from nerves. What if I BOTCHED IT? I would have to fall on my (sharpened) drawing pencil.
*** Oh gods, I haven’t sung yet. Speaking of keyboards.
Voice lesson tomorrow. How can it be TOMORROW again already?* I’ve been putting my practise time in and I’m still nowhere as far along as I meant to be.** I’ve been reminding myself again that you can’t have a breakthrough every week or you’ll be trying out for the Met[ropolitan Opera] by the end of the year.*** I can have a nice, supportive, ordinary voice lesson tomorrow and it will be fine.
Except of course that I’m convinced that I’ll sound underprepared—as if I’ve been lying around admiring myself all week instead of practising. It’s exactly the same arc of non-triomphe as all the rest, about having something to lose. When you are first learning something—okay, when I am first learning something—I have nothing to lose. Everything is a huge fascinating wonderful exciting adventure.† And then . . . suddenly . . . you’ve learnt something . . . and now you have something to lose. I remember vividly this happening the first time I tried to learn bell ringing—when I went from being a very mildly precocious learner-handler†† to being someone who was supposed to be able to ring call changes reliably enough to ring Sunday service. I had something to lose. I don’t think I seriously considered dropping out at that point††† but I was glumly aware that ringing had gone from being the best fun ever to a responsibility.‡ Feh. Thanks to bell ringing however ‡‡ when the something-to-lose line was crossed in my voice lessons, first singing for Blondel, and now, more emphatically, because whether I like it or not I’m farther along with Nadia than I had the chance to get to with Blondel, it was like oh, frelling gods, you again, and wasn’t a huge crisis. Only a moderate sized crisis. I live to make life hard for myself. And I’m good at it. SIIIIIIGH. ‡‡‡
One of the singing things I haven’t been getting on with this week is learning Dove Sei§ because I’ve got hung up on various other things instead—the new warm-up exercise with the consonant clumps, fitting the frelling words to the frelling tune of Se Tu M’Ami, and ditto Cold Haily Windy Night—which last is embarrassing since not only is Cold Haily my own whim, it’s in English and it’s a folk song. How hard can it be? HA.§§
Dove Sei turns out to be one of these madly famous arias that I don’t happen to know. So of course I turned to YouTube.§§§ There are a lot of countertenors but I wanted a mezzo if I could get her. And there, lo and behold, was Marilyn Horne, one of my idols.
LISTEN JUST TO THE FIRST TWO BARS. I AM SO OUT OF HERE.#
* * *
* This, you realise, from a woman who regularly wishes she had more money than sense^ and could have another voice lesson midweek.
^ Not that this would, in fact, take a great deal of money.
** Rather similar to where I am on SHADOWS and doodles. Sigh.
*** Not with this voice. I suppose I could try out for Singing Stagehand.
† This is assuming you’re learning something you want to be learning. Although the first week of a new year of school often had this effect on me. This was the year I was really going to learn stuff. As well as get all As. Then reality struck.
†† This means I was ringing both strokes together by the end of my first lesson. Which for anyone who has tried to learn to ring may sound pretty good. But in the first place the two of us learners^ were told to come half an hour before proper practise started, so we were the only ones ringing—most beginners have to put up with the scrum of the general practise—in the second place we had a very good teacher, and in the third place . . . I caught up with the being stupid part as soon as I tried to learn to ring inside.
^ The other one, a bloke, dropped out after the first few weeks. He wasn’t getting over being afraid of the bells. It happens.
††† That would come later, with the arrival of the ME.
‡ I don’t know if most of the rest of the adult world negotiated the ‘growing up’ thing better than I did, but I still arbitrate the responsibility/fun boundary with much angst and second-guessing. I’m not sure I ever quite regained the ‘fun’ of bell-ringing that first time, much as I loved it, but some of that was my stupid health getting stealthily worse while I tried to ignore the whole situation.^ But that was also the first time I’d tried to learn a wildly, spectacularly, visibly brand-new thing in a lot of years. I’d started learning gardening when I moved over here and married a gardener but gardening happens a lot more slowly, you’re much less likely to be ruining five or seven other people’s day and the tower’s local reputation if you screw up, and generally speaking you can whip your failures out and fling them on the compost heap before anyone else (but your husband) notices. I was ready for the something-to-lose phase when I started ringing again this second time at New Arcadia—and in fact almost didn’t notice, because I was so busy panicking about the approaching learning-to-ring-inside phase.
I was thinking about this today, ringing Grandsire doubles and bob minor for service and lurching successfully through both the Evil Long Thirds Grandsire Single and the Dreaded Three Four Down Bob Minor Single^^ despite being half awake at best. I’m a mediocre ringer but . . . I am a mediocre ringer. I’m not a beginner or a drop-out or someone who only turns up when she has nothing better on. I aspire to being the same kind of mediocre singer . . . which is where I came in.
^ Speaking of responsibility. But I’ve told you, haven’t I, that I started bell ringing the first time during the two-year period before the ME floored me, when I had Regularly Recurring Glandular Fever+ and had had to give up riding horses (again) because of stamina and reliability, neither of which I possessed. Bells don’t need regular exercise.++ And if you can’t come some week because you’re horizontal, someone else will fill in.+++
++ Actually, they do. Which is why we keep grimly ringing at Old Eden.
+++ Theoretically. We need more ringers. I’d like to start with a band for Old Eden. And another one for Ditherington. And a third for Madhatterington. Sigh.
^^ Which is just the luck of what bell you’re on and what touch your conductor is calling, but it still feels very unfair.
‡‡ See all the above footnotes
‡‡‡ One of the things I’m whacking myself around about presently is my having ADMITTED TO YOU that if I’m really unhappy with a doodle I’ll do it over. This has roused my perfectionism to a shrieking hysterical froth. I can’t redo every doodle I’m not 150% delighted with, because if I did I would still be redrawing the first one for the 1,000,000,000th time. The ones in books are especially traumatic because they’re in BOOOOOOKS. BOOKS are SERIOUS. Also expensive, if I really have to do one over because I spilled tea on it or something.
Have I mentioned that the doodle-icious books are VERY LABOUR INTENSIVE? Yes. Very. This is the something-to-lose thing with great toxic Lovecraftian knobs on: on the short list of practical definitions of pure fun, one of them is getting to DRAW in your own books. How fabulous is that? And I’m busy trying to ruin it for myself. ARRRRGH.
§ Handel. Rodelinda.
§§ I’ve also wasted a certain amount of time riffling through the rest of the book, which is on loan from Nadia, and I have to give it back. But hey. This counts, right? It’s Familiarising Myself with the Repertoire.^
^ Like hell. It’s reading THE THIRTEENTH CHILD in the bath instead of ALGEBRA I FOR DUMMIES.
§§§ Where I’ve been bolstering Se Tu M’Ami with a lot of Cecilia Bartoli. Funny the way she agrees with Nadia.
# After I finished lying on the floor and sobbing, however, I found a student recital performance that I really liked: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhTEvKX–xc It’s not perfect—there are a few rogue moments with the tune—but she’s got a gorgeous voice and she’s so obviously into it. I can’t aspire to the voice, but I can aspire to the into-it-ness. And the idea that you can not be perfect. Which assists in putting aside the desolation of not being Marilyn Horne. Or Janet Baker. Or Cecilia Bartoli. Or . . .