I’m better. That’s the main thing. I’m not frelling enough better but I’m MUCH BETTER. And thank you for all the friendly forum messages to this effect.
So first there was the really bad ME day, as I thought, which was my warning, except I didn’t know it. And then there was the memorable forty-eight hours of twelve-hour bouts with minor hiatuses between of throwing up every time I stood up. This would be an interesting experience anyway but it was made exquisitely more interesting by the fact of a hellmob and no back up plan.
A hellmob, what’s more, who will not crap in their own garden(s). And only Chaos is willing to pee in the cottage courtyard which is, admittedly, small, and he only pees there because he has recently developed prostate problems and HAS TO PEE WHEN HE HAS TO PEE. Which is often. Pav, by the way, is the most supernaturally continent dog I’ve ever even heard of, and this talent is probably worth keeping her entire* through the dramas of fertile season, all questions of beauty and bloodlines aside, even with two entire male hellhounds in the vicinity. Mind you, this talent often causes me additional anxiety when the circumstances are that she has to pee here and now and the locale does not suit her hellladyship, but I’ve given up arguing with her. She knows what the command ‘squat’ means and she’ll piddle like three drops while looking at me out of those bright evil little eyes, and then stop when I know she’s got a full tankload on board . . . arrrgh.
Anyway. The whole staying up till three or four a.m. really comes into its own when you have stomach flu and need to get your hellmob out of their garden so they will frelling well crap, because there’s no one around to notice you heaving in the shrubbery. Sigh. Let’s not discuss how interesting picking up after them has been for several days, and the dizzy spells that go with not eating.** We should perhaps also not discuss Peter’s reaction when he found me (still) sleeping on the floor of the dining room Sunday morning. Lighten up! If I’d wanted a bed-like object I could have lain on the frelling sofa! I was sure I was going to be enough better any minute to amble back to the cottage as usual! And therefore I didn’t want to sleep really! I was just . . . resting in a posture less likely to make my appalling stomach go into another of its cursed paroxysms!
The second forty-eight hours was the beginning to be able to stand upright again phase, or might have been able to stand upright if there were any available calories to provide energy for this surprisingly complicated task.*** Stomach: We’re fine, we’re fine, stand around all you like if you want to, just don’t bother us with any food. Every other cell in my body: We’re starving! We’re STAAAAARVING! Stomach: It’s good for your character. Every other cell in my body: STAAAAAAAAAARVING! Every other cell in my body won, partly because of the passing out in the shrubbery while tottering after hellcritters post-acute-stage thing. Whereupon we entered the subset of the second phase, which is the Large Burning Column Occupying Most of Your Body Especially the Stomach Area subphase.† I’m not quite out of this . . . but that may have as much to do with the last week’s business falling on me as from a height today when I’m finally almost recognisably functional again as it does with the remains of my deplorable lurgi.
Meanwhile, speaking of life catching up with me, I have a Samaritans duty tomorrow††, Street Pastors again Friday, and a meeting with Alfrick on Saturday. From which I hope to come home inspired finally to finish the KES ep that has been dangling around hopefully for a fortnight or more. Oh, I haven’t wasted all my KES time however: it may interest some of you that The Story So Far list is finally up to date.
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* Spaying is notoriously hard on a bitch’s bladder control. Most bitches are fine after, but you still don’t want to press it too hard. Or at least I have always tried not to. Among other things a clean dog hates losing it indoors. He/she will be miserable and ashamed. Which is how I found out Chaos really couldn’t hold it any more. And the miserable-and-ashamed is why you don’t put your critters in a position where they can’t help it . . . if you can help it.^
^ I have mostly managed to put Boskone out of my mind, and going back to America for the first time in a decade. Not. And if never going anywhere starts haunting me I can frelling well sign up for that homeopathy course that I’m going to take, I’m just having a little trouble finding time right now.+ Oh, and money.
+ I’m sure there’s a homeopathic answer to this lurgi, but my usual stalwart in these cases had no effect at all and I was not . . . in much shape for hunting for a better match.
** I’ve never particularly bought into the Sensitivity of Your Furry Companions theory. They may lie down beside you on the floor in a friendly and affectionate manner but that’s because you’re on the floor, and if you get up suddenly and abruptly and disturb their slumbers they will look at you reproachfully. My experience is more that they want what they want and when you aren’t providing it they want to know why. They’re not great on compromise either: The hellmob don’t crap in the garden and that means they don’t crap in the garden. And, you know, this around the block at 3 am thing? Where are their hurtles? Also the hellhounds entirely stopped eating the minute I took my eye off the ball/food dish and have probably lost as much weight as I have arrrrrrrrgh. It doesn’t suit any of us. Haggard is not kind to the late middle aged.^ As an ex-fat person I can say authoritatively, There is such a thing as thin enough. I am that thing, or was last week. There is also such a thing as being too thin, which is what I am now. When your frelling belt, required to keep your trousers up^^, gives you frelling pressure sores on your hip bones, you are too thin.^^^ Fortunately you, or anyway I, gain weight lost through illness back pretty fast as soon as I’m eating again, which is still a slightly aggrieved issue.
^ It’s not actually kind to anyone and as an elderly feminist who has been through the whole body image frenzy decade after decade after decade after DECADE, it makes me NUTS that nothing has really changed, including that young women—and, apparently, increasingly, young men—are encouraged, or maybe I mean aggravated or harassed, into thinking that skeletal is attractive. No! It’s not! Not unless you’re a straightedge or a picket fence! It’s just you can get away with it better when you’re young and your skin still has some collagen!+
+ Me? I’m used to the way I look. Do I have body image problems? Sure. I’m still breathing.#
# And food is only the enemy if your digestion is possessed by demons.
^^Interesting Conversations with Your Stomach: Me: Look, you perverse organ, my jeans will fall down. Stomach: No! No! No belt! Can’t stand a belt! No belt! Me: It won’t come anywhere near you, you prat, you’re in direct contact with my backbone.
^^^ I suppose I could take a few penknives, keys, small notebooks with writing implements etc out of my jeans pockets for the moment.
*** I was knitting^ while listening to the radio tonight and there was one of these snippet-science programmes that reported earnestly that eating protein is GOOD for you. Here we go again. Even before I officially had ME I had energy-fluctuation problems and absolutely must have not merely unfashionably high levels of protein but unfashionably high levels of animal protein including red meat. I’ve been fighting this battle for decades too and vegetarians are fine, some of my best friends^^ etc, but the holier-than-thou brigade of [insert superfood of the week here] and pure thoughts really get up my nose. The revelation that more than a minimal level of protein is good for you reminds me of the walking is not weight-bearing exercise allegation a decade or three ago. No, no! Of course it isn’t! We didn’t evolve to walk, we evolved to train in gyms on fancy weight-bearing exercise machinery!
^ Contrary to pathetic tweets earlier in the week I actually have done a fair amount of reading and knitting recently. I can’t remember if I told you that Aloysius loaned me a frelling great brick-like volume which is a commentary on the first four books of the Bible+ and when he was checking up on me earlier in the week he asked how I was getting on with it. It is too heavy to read lying down.
+ With constant irritating references to the Pentateuch.
^^ Including Sunshine
† I managed to eat something very nearly resembling dinner last night which disappeared into the calorie deficit with indecent haste and I was then hungrier than ever. I usually have fruit both first thing in the morning and last thing at night and I WOULD FRELLING KILL FOR AN APPLE, I am an apple junkie and most of the year eat several a day. I was staring at the fruit bowl last night with a savage lust and . . . eventually ate a pear, not because one raw tree fruit is likely to be less provoking than another raw tree fruit, but because I’m so deprived if I ate one apple I’d probably eat six, which I’m sure would not be a good idea right now. But what is it about pears? You can have totally over rotten, hard tasteless grainy meh and DIVINE all in the same pear. Nibble carefully.
†† We are not a secret society: hey look, the hot link among south of England Samaritans^ this month: http://forumpublications.co.uk/hampshire-people/
It seems to me a good interview with a good guy, although I’m seriously, brain-explodingly fried at the interviewer’s suggestion that the deaths of Peaches Geldof and Robin Williams may glamorize addiction and suicide. WHAT? WHAT? Um. No. That would be nooooooooo.
^There are quite a few of us around:
Behind is good. Farther away from the FRONT is GOOD. Also, it turns out, good is the awful spotlights that frelling BLIND YOU. It means you can’t really see the congregation.
Yes. Never underestimate the calming power of bright lights in your eyes. Congregation? What congregation?
Yay for having fun with singing!!! And when you do write that power ballad, I want to hear it.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha. And here I thought you were going to say something all helpful* and knows-way-more-about-music-than-I-do. Fie.
But . . . I’m pretty sure it was you, a long time ago now, posted to the forum asking about Maggie’s mom’s chicken, apples and cream recipe.** I TORE MY KITCHEN APART*** looking for the frelling recipe and had just about decided that it must have been in one of the cookbooks I’d got rid of when I went off dairy—probably one of the Shaker cookbooks. You know all these clean pure lines of Shaker furniture and houses and how they dressed simply and were celibate and so on? THEY MAKE UP FOR IT IN THE FOOD. If there was ever massive sublimation going on Shaker food is it. Or anyway the several Shaker cookbooks I had in my twenties and thirties† were ALL cream and butter and thick gooey sauces and . . . glorious.†† Although it helps if you have a really fast metabolism and/or regularly save the world which is usually a high-calorie undertaking.††† The rest of us have to have a week’s detox on lettuce and water after every foray. Even if I hadn’t gone off dairy twenty years ago I’d’ve had to get rid of my Shaker cookbooks when I hit menopause and my metabolism said, nice knowing you. Going to sleep now for several decades.
BUT I FOUND IT. CHICKEN, APPLES AND CREAM. YAAAAAAY. From the notes in the margins there was at least one other recipe I had already tried—which probably was in one of those lost Shaker cookbooks—but I know I used this one too. It’s been so long since I’ve made it I can’t remember much about it except that it’s good. The original is from COUNTRY SUPPERS by Ruth Cousineau which I’ve praised in these virtual pages before. I think it’s a lovely cookbook and it should have been a fabulous best-seller and still in print. But it’s not—still in print, anyway.
2-3 T slightly salted butter
1 large sweet onion
2 medium-sized sour/cooking apples: popularity was busy ruining Granny Smiths when I moved over here: when they first hit the ground running they were the perfect all-purpose apple, not too sour to eat if you like brisk but excellent in pies and so on too. So I’m not sure what you Americans use now. I used Bramleys when I first moved over here‡ but they are VERY SOUR. Also, Bramleys tend to HUGE. You’ll probably only want one Bramley. Anyway. Choose your weapon. Then core, peel, slice. You know the drill.
3 T flour
1 c good strong chicken stock. Either make it yourself or buy proper stock in the refrigerator section of your grocery.
½ c heavy cream‡‡
4 c chopped cooked chicken‡‡‡
Melt the butter, gently fry your fine-chopped onion. Add apples and go on cooking gently. If you’re using Bramleys be aware that they get fluffy if they’re cooked too enthusiastically. Sprinkle on the flour and stir till you get something resembling a lumpy roux—all those apples and onions in the way. Then slowly add the stock and cream. As I recall I added it alternately in bits—so half the stock, stir till it’s all taken up, then the cream, stir etc, then the final stock. It’ll be much thinner, obviously, but it should still be a proper thick sauce.
Add the chicken and heat through.
You’ll need some salt: add how you like it. You may want pepper. I don’t but then I’m not eating this, am I? You can think of me and feel superior.§
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* I need to learn how to change key signatures and how to write a descant. Okay?
** SHADOWS. For those of you still waiting in the loan queue at your library.^
^ Suggest they buy more copies.
*** It did not, in fact, look a great deal different than before I started the tearing process.
† Before I went off everything that was fun besides tea, chocolate and champagne
†† I was just googling Shaker recipes and there seems to be some revisionism going on. Simple pure lines of Shaker cooking. Hmm. Okay.
††† Ask Kes.
‡ I sashayed back and forth over the ‘no dairy’ line for a while till my body convinced me that it meant NO DAIRY.
‡ Oh frell. US/UK translation problems. I think if you’re in the UK you want what’s called ‘whipping cream’. I’ve just been pestering google and that seems to be the consensus. I too fell into the ‘double cream’ trap. The UK is just cream mad. Which is why I started falling off the no-dairy wagon when I moved over here. Clotted cream. Be still my heart. SIIIIIIIIGH. I’m old and mean now though. I’m used to my bitter privation.
‡‡‡ The original recipe calls for shredded chicken. Ugh. You can also just joint your chicken. It makes quite a nice presentation if you arrange your chicken pieces on a platter, pour the sauce over and artfully arrange a few slices of raw apple on top—not Bramley. People die of intense shrivelling by eating raw Bramleys. This method also saves all that chopping time. You could knit several rows in the time you didn’t spend chopping.
§ I CAN STILL EAT BUTTER. With black tea, champagne, chocolate and BUTTER, my life is not a desert.
Fiona and I had a Yarn Adventure today. And about time too: we haven’t seen each other since November. Life: what a ratbag.
Admittedly there is usually a high gremlin count when Fiona and I get together but today they weren’t half trying. We were going to set off at two, which in our case usually means before 2:30, well, maybe, if we’re lucky. Fiona usually texts me as she leaves the house*.
No text. Well, whatever, and we got on with hurtling and then with feeding me**.
Still no text. Prepare to feed critters, since I was going to put it down as I left. Sometimes this intrigues hellhounds sufficiently to stimulate them to eat.
Still no text.
Dither. Feed critters.***
Okay, now I’m worried. I have checked Pooka several times. Nothing.
I’ve hung the laundry and washed all the lunch dishes† which is of course nicer to come home to but WHERE IS FIONA?
Pooka barks, and I make a slightly dish-soapy dive for her. I have the feeling my texts aren’t getting through, says Fiona’s voice. I HAVEN’T HEARD ANYTHING FROM YOU SINCE LAST NIGHT TILL THIS PHONE CALL.
Well, I’ll be there in three minutes, she said. And as she rang off, Pooka chirruped and SEVEN MESSAGES POPPED THROUGH. ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH.
The day improved from there however. Our chosen yarn shop was having a MOVING TO NEW PREMISES sale and . . .
I’ve been wanting FEARLESS KNITTING for yonks but, you know, it persists in being full price. The dark auburn yarn is Debbie Bliss Winter Garden which I have also wanted for yonks but it’s too frelling expensive, and the green and gold down front is Louisa Harding Grace Hand Beaded which etc. And the other stuff is just . . . um . . . shiny? And when a pattern book only costs £2 you only need to like one pattern in it. . . .
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* This text will read ‘I’m running a little late because . . .’ Mind you, if she’s not running late, I’m in deep trouble.^ Today’s non-arriving text however informed me that her car had broken down and she was negotiating to borrow her parents’.
^ The hellhounds would like this. It might mean I didn’t have time to FEED them before I left. The hellterror, of course, would chew her way through the front door and come after me if I tried any such thing but I wouldn’t DARE. Also feeding the hellterror is easy. Open nearest tin, throw contents in general hellterror direction, add a handful of kibble if you’re feeling persnickety, and don’t stand too close or she’ll eat the toes off your shoes. The hellhounds . . . it starts with cutting up the chicken scraps SMALL ENOUGH that Chaos, in particular, who has prehensile lips, can’t just hoover up the chicken, and you need to stir the kibble in really well because any that has not been touched by the magic chicken-stock wand will be instantly rejected as dry and tasteless and beneath delicate hellhound dignity.
Unfortunately for them, however, I had allowed time for the careful creation of appropriate hellhound comestibles. It didn’t work though. They still didn’t eat it.+ That look in Chaos’ eyes says: if you didn’t mix it in so well I’d’ve at least eaten the chicken.
+ Do I have to bother to tell you that the hellterror ate hers? No? I didn’t think so.
** Moans of protest from the hellterror who is, furthermore, sitting on my feet, just to make sure I haven’t forgotten her. YOU JUST ATE BREAKFAST TWO HOURS AGO. YOU ARE NOT STARVING. Also, sitting on my feet is counterproductive. You are heavy. You are obviously getting plenty to eat.^
^ I was out hurtling hellhounds recently.+ People frequently stop us to be goopy over them. Mostly their admirers stick to telling me how beautiful they are, but occasionally someone wants to find it funny that we’re all skinny and leggy. Hellhounds are also now quite grey in the face so we’re all skinny, leggy and old. But some dork came up to us the other day and was in grave danger of rupturing himself over the sheer hilarity of owners who look like their dogs.++ I stared him in the eye. I have a bull terrier at home, I said. I did not mention the ‘mini’ part. He stopped laughing and edged away prudently.
+ In my life I can always say I was out hurtling hellhounds recently. And hellterror.
++ I wondered what his frelling problem is. I have no idea, of course, but he was a big flashy maybe forty-ish dork, and looked a bit like someone who was maybe rolling into midlife crisis and in a mood to be snarky about some post-menopausal hag who is refusing to stay home with her TV and her memories but is out cluttering up the pavement wearing jeans, All Stars and long hair, and walking her dogs like she thinks she still has a purpose in life. I don’t like big flashy forty-ish dorks who think looming over me and being scornful is a fun thing to do.#
# Speaking of testosterone poisoning, yesterday I was creeping up the hill to the mews in Wolfgang, which little journey is another of those absolutes in my life, going at 30 mph which happens to be the speed limit. And I was passed by five motorcycles. FIVE. Streaking past, whing whing whing whing whing. What the what the what the I can’t even. And there is all this bushwa about how cars are supposed to be careful of motorcycles. I don’t know if this is nationwide or just around here, but there are posters all over the landscape saying THINK BIKE. How about if BIKERS think at all? I’ve been a motorcyclist, as long-term readers of this blog know, and it is absolutely true that people driving cars can be amazingly stupid and dangerous about bikers and this is a large part of the reason I stopped driving a bike while I still had all my body parts intact . . . but the frelling majority of the motorcycle accidents around here are caused by male bikers being assholes: yesterday at least I was only going 30. Being passed by some dinglenut on a 60 mph road that is only just two lanes wide with hedgerows on either side . . . going around a curve? Yes. I have.
*** Ecstasy of the Hellterror.
† Except, of course, hellhound bowls, since they haven’t eaten anything.
Peter and I went out to dinner tonight. Just because. To the Bard and Orpharion which tends to be our default. And they were out of half bottles of champagne and weren’t offering it by the glass.* We didn’t quite get up and stamp out the door but we thought about it. Peter, in best loyal-husband mode, suggested this drastic course of action. We could go back to the Bulgy Loaf, which was our great find a fortnight ago when the electricity went phut at Peter’s end of town: they had teeny-weeny individual bottles of Freixenet** available, thank you very much, and they’re probably not heaving on a Monday evening in early March. But one doesn’t really want to burn one’s bridges too spectacularly in a small town***. So we stayed. There may have been muttering.
And then I thought, well, okay, I have a minor thing for killer dessert wines—the kind you might mistake for treacle if you weren’t paying close attention, till the alcohol aftershock makes your hair stand on end and your socks pop off†—I’ll have a glass of dessert wine with my brownie. THEY DON’T DO DESSERT WINE BY THE GLASS EITHER.
But at least the brownie was serious.
. . . And yes, we’d been playing bridge, where Peter fiddles the cards first so we have (a) more fun (b) a better Teaching Experience and I actually sort of almost understood what was happening some of the time. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or not.
So we came home and Peter got one of our emergency quarter bottles of champagne out of the cupboard and put it in the freezer for twenty minutes AND I’M DRINKING IT NOW.
* * *
*Their pathetically feeble excuse is that they’d had a wedding which had drunk it all. A wedding that drank all the HALF BOTTLES? What kind of a cheap cheezy wedding is that? With only three people at the reception and two of them are teetotallers?^ We’ll have more in on Wednesday, said the lightly sweating waiter. WEDNESDAY? WHAT GOOD IS WEDNESDAY? IT’S MONDAY AND I WANT CHAMPAGNE.^^
. . . and maybe the Bulgy Loaf had a wedding last week too where teetotalism was rampant and they’re all out of little bottles too.
^ I mean, not cheap. Half bottles are ridiculously expensive per glass—you only do it because You. Must. Have. Champagne and there’s only one of you, or maybe two, you’re both nearly teetotallers and one of you doesn’t like champagne much.+
+ There’s no accounting. Maybe it’s that Y chromosome.
^^ Peter, who can sometimes be noble beyond all measure+, offered to buy a REAL bottle of champagne. Even I quailed at the magnificence of this sacrifice.++
+ Which helps to balance out the times THAT HE’S SPILT MARMALADE IN THE SILVERWARE DRAWER AGAIN AND I WANT TO KILL HIM.
++ I’ll try to remember this moment the next time he spills marmalade in the silverware drawer. Or unloads the dishwasher and puts everything tidily away having not run it first. AAAAAAUUUUUGH.
** I’ve said this before, haven’t I? That Freixenet has come a long way in the last thirty years or so? There was a time when I wouldn’t drink it because it was nasty. It’s still not the Widow, but it doesn’t cost like the Widow either.
. . . I was just looking it up on line so I could spell it correctly and . . . you have to be of legal drinking age in the country you’re in to look at their site? What? Why? Is looking at virtual bottles of B-list fizz really going to tip you over the edge into picking the lock on your parents’ liquor cabinet and getting pootered on Harvey’s?^ I did not, in fact, penetrate past the are you of legal drinking age click here pop up because the site background is all dark and creepy and there is ominous icky music like one of those computer games where stuff starts jumping out at you before I’ve got my finger off the ‘start’ button and I never live long enough to get out of the first level.
^ I feel that a hangover from Harvey’s Bristol Cream would probably cure you of drinking alcohol for life, but maybe that’s just me.
*** Besides, one possibly has a habit of doing it inadvertently and had better mind one’s ps and qs when one notices before it’s too late that they’re milling around in a dangerous manner^ and really need minding.^^
^ like bull terrier puppies. All smiles and little evil eyes . . . and remarkably fast on those little short legs.
^^ Sit! Sit! That’s not sitting!+
+ I’m not sure what it is, but it’s not sitting.
† In my early drinking days I’ve even been known to enjoy a glass of Harvey’s. But I wouldn’t want to make a habit of it.
I was laughing so hard* I could barely take the shot.** But one must commit to one’s inspiration.***
It has been sheeting with rain much of the day, in evil sneaky sudden outbursts, but barring mad dimming and flickering of the lights, the occasional irritated bleep out of some tech item or other and Radio Three taking a nosedive off the air for several hours Monday night we’ve escaped the worst of the weather as well as the worst of the results of the weather. I had a few top heavy camellias in their pots go over but no walls fell down. It was sleeting last night so I didn’t make it to midnight mass, sigh–and I’ve managed to wedge so much of the indoor jungle onto windowsills that it only takes about ten minutes to get everything remaining in/out again. When you have brandy butter to make you don’t want to be spending a lot of time on botanical airlift rescue.
There was turkey and champagne and Brussels sprouts with chestnuts . . . and mince pies with brandy butter. I seem to have eaten four of these.† Well, they were small. And Peter went to bed at nearly midnight and promises to sleep in tomorrow so I don’t have to get down here EARLY. I don’t think early is an option.
Oh yes and . . . Jesus is born. For those of us that way inclined, yaaay. ††
* * *
* Which is a great improvement on this time last week.
** Actually I took several. Once he got up again it was going to be all over. He’d said originally did I want him standing up or sitting down? Sitting down, I said, this may take a while. In case anyone is interested, I’ve tied the star on by looping garden twine through the tag inside the collar of his shirt. Great stuff, garden twine. It’s stringing the baubles too. And yes, I’ve been wondering about the length of those canines for twenty-two years. Alternative and Little Discussed Origins of ME/CFS.
*** . . . for an easy blog post.
† The hellterror says, hey, boss, I could help you with that.
†† Also probably the only day of the year I don’t feel silly singing in public. People who object to the plangent tones of The First Nowell, The Cherry Tree Carol, etc, can just leave town for the day.