April 20, 2015

Shadows is here!

Hi there ::waves::


Sorry everyone.  I’m just so freaking tired.*  It’s been a somewhat action-packed week/ten days/fortnight/century.  The good news is that I haven’t knocked Peter over with the car again recently.  YAAAAAY.  But we’ve had three lots of visitors** and assorted emergencies.***  And Niall and I seem to be teaching more people to ring handbells.

Also, it’s definitively spring.  The weather is still jerking us around† but the primroses are flowering like mad—AND MY SNAKESHEAD FRITILLARIES YAAAAAAAAAY—and the early pansies, and the early tulips and there are daffodils and hellebores everywhere as thick as marmalade on toast and it is unmistakably SPRING.  So I’m out there frantically potting up little things that keep arriving in the post†† . . . and occasionally I’m also potting up things that I stuck in some perlite because I was REALLY IRRITATED that I or a member of the hellmob or some discourteous frelling typhoon broke off a perfectly good branch of something or other and if I sliced it up in pieces and stuck them in perlite . . . well, they’d die, of course, but at least I’d’ve tried.

Occasionally they live.  I now have five abutilon megapotamicum.  If they’re happy, they can get to eight foot.  The original one—the one that got blown off the kitchen window shelf and snapped off a long limb—is getting on for six foot.  It’s a terrific plant—it flowers all year.  But FIVE of them???  This is just possibly superfluous to requirements.

And now, if you’ll excuse me again, I have to go sing something:  voice lesson tomorrow.†††  I’m supposed to be learning Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise . . . but it’s in four sharps, and I don’t like sharps, and it’s all foolhardy lines of unusual intervals—these blasted great composers are so frelling unpredictable—and he keeps flatting and/or double-sharping things that in some cases don’t have a black key there anyway AND YOU HAVE TO KEEP TRACK OF ALL THIS STUFF and . . . my brain hurts.‡  I may be leaning on YouTube a little more than I should be.  Was that a chromatic scale when you strip out all the persiflage or wasn’t it?  No.  It wasn’t.  That would be too easy.  Quack.  Quaver.  But possibly the most annoying thing . . . Nadia told me I can just miss out the line with the high C in it—unless it’s a C flat which would make it some kind of B, and I occasionally have a high B—and I was wibbling along with YouTube and not thinking about it . . . okay, maybe the singer I was yodelling with had knocked it down a semi-tone or so but I got to the end and thought . . . wait a minute.  I sang that line.

Haven’t been able to do it again of course.  Your body is your instrument.  Your instrument is a gibbering neurotic nutso.  Sigh. . . .

* * *

* I’m reading a nice restful book^ in which our heroine winds up briefly hospitalised and is driven mad by having nothing to read, and when a sympathetic nurse loans her a copy of HELLO! magazine . . . she reads it as a desperate alternative to ripping her sheets into long thin strips and using broken clothes-hangers as knitting needles^^.  And I read this with a feeling of cold deep horror and thought again THIS IS WHY MY KNAPSACK WEIGHS MORE THAN A HELLTERROR.  It’s my phobia about being trapped somewhere WITH NOTHING TO READ.^^^  And given the number of times Peter has closed his hand in a door—never mind the serious stuff—and we’ve spent several unscheduled hours in A&E/Emergency, I am not being paranoid I am being practical.

^ THE JANUS STONE by Elly Griffiths which is the second in her murder-mystery series about Ruth Galloway who is a forensic archaeologist.  And which are fabulous.   Ceridwen loaned me the first one and when I read it in about forty-eight hours+ laughed in an evil and knowing manner, and loaned me the second.

+ despite not being able to read it in the bath because it belonged to someone else and IT WOULD NOT BE GOOD IF I DROPPED IT.  I have quite a few paperbacks with curly pages . . . and I barely have a knitting magazine that doesn’t have curly pages.

^^ Okay, I made the extreme knitting alternative up, but personally I might have gone for it over HELLO!

^^^ Or knit.+  Granted most knitting weighs considerably less than three paperbacks and a fully charged iPad,++ and I don’t think they’ve started commercial production of ununseptium needles, possibly because they would be a trifle unstable as well as heavy, and my knitting doesn’t need any help in instability, but the Scarf as Big as the Universe sure takes up a lot of space.  I keep being tempted to take it OUT of my knapsack and finish it at home where it can have its own room+++ but I know this way madness lies.  I would just have the 1,000,000,000th unfinished woolly object lying around somewhere for me to trip over in the middle of the night.

. . . But starting NEW woolly objects is fun.  Especially during that early halcyon period before you’ve made any really ghastly errors that you can’t figure out how to fix.

+ I actually went to an AGM recently.#  WITH MY KNITTING.  THANK YOU, GOD, FOR KNITTING.

# Reasons not to join things:  the dreadful possibility of an AGM.

++ Note that I take my charging cable with me everywhere too.  Just in case.

+++ Mind you in my house it would be sharing that room with 1,000,000 other yarn projects, 1,000,000,000 books and 1,000,000,000,000 All Stars.  Plus assorted miscellaneous items.#  But the rooms at the cottage, while small, are all larger than a knapsack.

# The miscellaneous-item problem is worse than usual at the moment because the American government in its wisdom~ decided that I had to re-prove that I live here and have lived here for quite some time and so you find salient documentation of ten-plus years ago, especially less than a year after a major house move when everything that CAN be shoved into the back of an attic HAS been shoved into the back of an attic including gruesome old paperwork.  My tribulations began with the question which attic?, but more or less climaxed with insane-even-for-me tottering piles of everything all over my office floor at the cottage.  Sigh.  Which, the adrenaline of panic having worn off, I have no enthusiasm for sorting out and putting away again.~~

~ ????????????????

~~ Putting away WHERE? %

% Er.  ‘Putting away’?

** NECESSARY HOUSEWORK.  NOOOOOOOOO.  Failing this activity would certainly be a way of ensuring that people don’t come back, but unfortunately anyone who gets as far as being invited to stay is probably someone I want to come back which leaves me in a terrible predicament.  I keep trying to teach the hellhounds to pull the hoover.  And the hellterror to mop the floor.  Nobody does much about the cobwebs.  Or the dust.^

^ Ways to Tell What I Am Really Truly Currently Reading:  it’s not dusty.

*** See *, ^^^, +++, # above

† If I put long johns on in the morning^ I will be hot and cranky at 3 pm.  But if I don’t put long johns on^^ I will be cold and cranky at . . . 3 am.

^ Oh all right, when I get dressed.  There are drawbacks to sleeping in something you can answer the door in, because you can also put your gardening apron and your wellies on and do some gardening—just while your tea steeps, you know.  Today this innocent activity led to my realising I was due to ring handbells in an hour while I was still in my nightgown equivalent and hadn’t had breakfast/lunch or hurtled any of the waiting hurtlables in this household.

I was late for handbells.  Never mind.  This fresh victim is catching on way too quickly and will be ringing Surplice Maximillian while I’m still trying to sort out the details of Basic Stupid.  Which I have been for the last . . . decade.  Siiiiiigh.  And Niall is, I fear, only too accustomed to me being late for handbells.  He may have a much-punctured dartboard somewhere with my face on it but . . . he doesn’t let even lumpy, brain-fogged semi-handbellers escape without a struggle.  AND HE’S PUT AN AWFUL LOT OF HOURS INTO ME OVER THE LAST DECADE.  I think I’m doomed.  No, I know I am.  But so is he.  However as he throws darts at my face I’m sure he murmurs to himself, If I can teach her to ring handbells I CAN TEACH ANYONE.

I’m a good thing, really I am.  Really.  I set the standard.  Ahem. . . .

^^ When I get dressed

†† More, or sometimes less, suitably attired.  Hey, what’s wrong with a simple cotton jersey dress with a BLUE HILL MAINE sweatshirt over, a muddy apron and hot pink wellies?

††† Okay, I am now loud.  When do I get to the hits the right notes part?  I went off and stood in a corner and sang into the wall again tonight at church.  I’m assuming God doesn’t mind, but the congregation might.

‡ It’s not just handbells.

A Day of Lows


Wolfgang and I managed to run over Peter today.

No, no, Peter’s fine*.  JESUS GOD AND ALL THE SAINTS.  I’m a freaking hysterical meltdown mess.  Peter seems to have thought it was FUNNY.  He thinks it’s FUNNY to be married to a CRAZY HOMICIDAL** WIFE.

We’ve had two beautiful spring days in a row.  I’ve been trying to hack out time for frantic gardening:  this is the time of year when I very very briefly believe that maybe THIS year I’m going to have the garden at the cottage in something almost resembling order for more than three seconds the end of April.***  I’m not expecting to attain a very close facsimile of order . . . just, you know, frothy ebullience caused by healthy plants doing what they feel like doing instead of what I had planned for them to do.  This does however require that the plants I planted thrive and the frelling weeds grow less fast than I yank them up.  The back wall is at present a jungle nightmare of last year’s skeletal goose grass, all of which will have seeded and seeded and seeded.

ANYWAY.  Peter and I usually go to the big library on Tuesday afternoon and have a nice cup of tea in the café, usually with two or three or eight books per while we decide what we want to check out and take home with us.  Peter felt that a fancy country garden with a café with outdoor tables was what he wanted today †† . . . and I brought Pav along for her first encounter with Montmorency’s Folly.†††

The last bit of drive is narrow and lumpy.  I wanted to let Peter off as close to the gate as possible, so I’d pulled in pretty hard against the end of the hedge so that other cars heading for the car park could squeeze past me.  He climbed out of Wolfgang and . . .

I know how slowly he moves these days, and I know the way that right foot turns out, and that it’s slower than the left foot.‡  I know these things.  I guess all I can say is that I was worried about getting out of the way before—ahem!—someone ran into us, and that I was preoccupied with cars coming up on my right.  I put Wolfgang into reverse and . . .

There was a colossal thud, and Peter disappeared from view.  AAAAAAAAAUGH.

And some helpful person came rushing over while I was hysterically turning Wolfgang off and slamming on the handbrake.  When I scrambled around to the other side I discovered my husband lying on the ground with his right foot trapped under Wolfgang’s left front wheel.

Not very far.  Peter was saying I’m fine, I’m fine, or words to that effect—I admit my memory is not totally clear on this point—but it was only his shoe, not his foot, that was being lightly crushed.  Now if I’d had any sense whatsoever I’d’ve told him to get his foot OUT of the shoe before I tried to roll forward, but I didn’t, I rushed back to the driver’s side—shaking like an aspen, I might add—while the Helpful Person said, Be careful not to roll backwards!

Ahem.  Do I have to tell you we were on a slight hill so that the moment I took the handbrake off we would roll backwards?  By this time the Helpful Person’s husband had turned up, why didn’t one of these people who wasn’t related to the man on the ground and wasn’t driving the car that had just knocked him over say LET’S GET THE SHOE OFF AND GET HIM OUT OF HARM’S WAY BEFORE WE DO ANYTHING ELSE?

But they didn’t.  And I spent a few seconds taking deep breaths, put Wolfgang into gear and . . . rolled forward perfectly.  Peter said later that the fender had caught him on that weak right leg as I turned the wheel to angle away from the hedge—having not adequately checked first that he was clear—and when he fell his right foot had . . .

I don’t remember much about the garden.  Pav enjoyed herself and thought rolling around on the courtyard gravel outside the café was an adventure, and while she was perhaps a trifle exuberant her only serious breakdown in . . . well, let’s not say manners, let’s say pretence of manners, was when I left her BRIEFLY tied to Peter’s chair to fetch sugar and silverware—Peter having brought me a fresh pot of tea—and you’d have thought I was leaving her in a basket on some convent steps with insufficient provisions.  This has nothing to do with emotional attachment, you realise:  it’s because from her perspective I was going toward a place that smelled more like food than where she was and leaving her behind.  A fine coloratura of protest followed.

I didn’t run over anybody else.  NEXT WEEK WE GO TO THE LIBRARY.

And you may have noticed the title of this post is ‘A Day of Lows’ as in plural?  Yes.  On any other day I would tell you how I spent over an hour on the phone to my American bank and they having confirmed that the wire had been sent, followed up shortly with an email saying it hadn’t, and that I have to do it all over again tomorrow.

* * *

* Believe me if he wasn’t I would not be writing this blog report of the incident.  I would either be in jail or throwing myself off a bridge.^

^ Having first left the hellmob in a series of baskets on the steps of the local . . . um.  We don’t actually have a local convent and I’m not sure how the monks feel about foundlings.+  I think really it’s a good thing I didn’t run over Peter very hard.

+ I do know that Alfrick does not like dogs.#  Which is his only major character flaw now that he’s given up smoking.

# Shocking.  Oh, no, wait, it’s probably the Franciscans who have to be soppy about animals.  I don’t remember if Benedict says anything about critters being your brothers and sisters.~

~ ‘Sister Death’ is pretty well known but apparently Francis also called his various illnesses and disabilities his brothers and sisters, which casts a slight shadow on his attitude toward our animal brethren and sistren.  This also makes the ME my evil twin, but I knew that already.

** Homicidal and incompetent.  Fortunately.

*** We are not facing the reality of the garden at Third House at all.^  Nina recently was saying kindly that she could come round some weekend afternoon and help me get the stuff out of its overgrown pots and into the ground.  Politely failing to point out that some of it has been in its (overgrown) pots for years.  I do usually manage to get the pots-in-waiting stuff fed, which is of course part of the reason some of it is quite so overgrown.  I’m sure garden centres sell their plants in flimsy plastic pots for reasons of price control, but if you have to CUT the plant out of its pot by the time you get round to putting it in the ground, flimsy is good.

^ I still haven’t got the attic any more sorted than ‘can fight way through from stairs to back wall’.+

+ Worse, I keep looking around and wondering if there’s ANY CHANCE I could bash out space for the green horsehair sofa, which is the one remaining oversized piece of furniture at the mews.  We’re supposed to be selling it.  It’s not grand, it’ll only fetch a ‘just about worth it to hire the van’ price, but it’s another of the old Dickinson family pieces and we got it restuffed and recovered as part of the New Wife thing when I first moved over here into the old house, and I am a sentimental cow.  Also I chose the green velvet it is now covered with, and the hellhounds and I have spent many happy hours on it.  Some of the upholstered old family furniture had seen a few more generations than was good for it, and as I recall I blanched and trembled at it in its earlier state.

† It will be worth it, trying to catch up with the wretched stuff^ if it has seeded really enthusiastically in my neighbour-over-the-back-wall’s garden, whose ugly shed roof ruins my view.  The problem with this plan is that the neighbour won’t care.  He’ll just hire another gardener.

^ At least it’s easy to pull up unlike most of the worst perennial weeds.  However because it is, as Peter used to call it, nature’s Velcro, you also come away from a weeding session looking like the Abominable Goose Grass Person and needing frelling hedge trimmers and possibly a flamethrower to get it off you again.  Also, however many huge green garden bags you have satisfyingly tamped full of the stuff, by the time you’ve squashed as many of these as you can fit into Wolfgang to haul off to the dump, and possibly sat down to have a cup of tea, it will all have grown back again.

†† It’s not like we don’t have plenty to read. 

††† Hellhounds have been round the edges of Montmorency’s Folly many, many times, but the rules about dogs inside the garden are discouraging^ and they would be miserable lying in the courtyard while we had our tea.  Pav, on the other hand . . .

^ And with the number of uncontrolled dogs and quantity of unpicked-up crap there is in this country I am not going to argue about this ruling.

‡ You Americans must remember we have right-hand drive in this country, so my passenger is getting out on the left, with his right side nearer the side of the car.

Summer is icumen in, continued*



I had planned to post more photos today.  Stuff is rioting out**, most of it several weeks early.  I’ve got a sheaf of photos I haven’t posted yet and I should have taken more photos today except I was buying a potting bench.***  Also, it was raining.

But then I got distracted by footnotes. . . . †

* * *

* Rikke posted to the forum about having to look up this reference.  I sometimes have trouble remembering that not everyone is an American Eng lit major^ of a certain age.  I am generally so awful about quotes and references and cultural benchmarks and so on that I assume that if I know it, everyone knows it.  Apologies for apparently wilful obscurity, yesterday, tomorrow, last week, next year, whenever.^^

^ Ie went to an American uni/college and read/studied English literature

^^ Personally I prefer jokes I can understand.

** Including terrifying numbers of dahlias.  And glads.  Gladioli do not survive winter!^  It’s in the contract!  You get used to buying more, and complaining!  Well, they don’t survive winter except when they do, and when they do they tend to reproduce.  Since I frequently put glads into dahlia pots^^ there’s a certain struggle for supremacy going on.  May the best triffid win.

^ The extra-weird thing is that the books and articles all hammer you with the fact that it’s not frost kills things like glad bulbs and dahlia tubers but wet:  they sit in sodden soil and rot.  Excuse me guys.  We’ve just had the wettest winter since the Palaeolithic.  What gives?

^^ They can all fall down together.  Glads will mostly stand up without staking—mostly—but not when an inadequately-staked dahlia crashes over on one.

*** For Third House.  Atlas has pretty well taken over the shed, including the potting table, and I’ve done the throwing-hands-up-in-despair routine about this and declared that I’m leaving the shed to the boys, and will buy a tiny garden storage doodad and a cheap potting table for me which can all go under the minimal overhang in the corridor between Third House and its neighbour.

This gave Fiona and me the excuse to go look at garden sheds on Tuesday instead of attending to business.   I was pretty well incapable of attending to business on Tuesday.^  And we saw some very nice sheds.  Fiona thought I should buy the climbing frame/slide/sandpit for Pav.  Hahahahahaha you’re so funny.  The littlest cheapest shed will do nicely thank you very much, good grief, people apparently get a little carried away with their back-garden empire building.  The shed I have in mind doesn’t even get to call itself a shed, it’s a ‘garden tidy’.  If you’re a shed you have to have windows, a portcullis and a concierge.  No.  And I don’t want the purple Alice house that I can’t stand up in anyway, Fiona, I’m looking at you.

Today however since I had to blaze into Mauncester for a meeting with a bank official^^ I went via the Extra Large Everything for the Domestic Empire Builder store in one of those industrial estates that make you suspect you’ve wandered into an alternate universe^^^.  Their minimal selection of sheds was nasty—I think you’re supposed to build your own:  you’re letting the side down by buying something that someone else has already cut crooked and drilled the holes in the wrong places—but they did have a cheap potting table that looked possible.

Now here is where I began to think I really had wandered into an alternate universe.  The British are polite.~  They’re vaccinated for it when they’re half an hour old.  Of course you get rude ones but then people who’ve had the vaccination get measles too.  The potting table, even in its inelegant flat pack, is large~~ and I’m neither very little nor very old but I’m a whole lot older and skinnier than the half dozen stalwart young men in store uniforms I went past toting the blasted thing to the tills.  I then went back for a bag of the right-sized gravel~~~ which weighed even more than the flabberjabbing table, and went past a different assortment of stalwart young men in store uniforms . . . and not one of them offered aid to my frail grey-haired= self.==  The woman at the till was obviously not having a good day and when she’d rung me up with a lot of slamming and pinging she snarled, would you like help to the car with that?  Er—no thanks, I said, sidling away clutching my gravel.  When I came back for the potting bench she was immersed in making some other hapless customer’s life a little more miserable.  Feh.

^ Smoke and mirrors update:  I’m not telling you how bad it’s been with the hellhounds lately, or how much sleep I’m not getting or how much morale I’ve lost or how a properly tightened harp/violin/guitar string has nothing on me.  Hellhounds are not having a good time either of course.  The decision to stop being a daily blog probably has less to do with the Samaritans+ than about hellhound management.  I finally talked to the vet again today who has recently cured two hopeless cases of digestive mayhem and wants to try the same protocol on my hellhounds—but it’s a little experimental and I have to sign a release form.  Yes.  Whatever.  Pleeeease.  We reached the end of the line a while back.

+ Which continues to be brilliant even if I feel like the stupidest person on the planet at least three times per training evening.#  We’re halfway through the first module.##  Eeeeeep. 

# Which may have something to do with stress levels and lack of sleep, of course, but the truth is that the idea of being able to do something for someone when you can’t do shitfuck for various members of your own family is very appealing.

## At the end of which is when you start taking duty shifts.  There’s a second (required) module in the autumn but it’s not as intensive.

^^ On whom I walked out after twenty minutes+ sitting on an uncomfortable chair in the waiting area slap next to the entrance which must be a total thrill in cold weather with the wind turning your pages for you every time someone comes through the front door.  Tomorrow I go back to my branch office and ask for the frelling customer complaints address again.

+ Also on the wall opposite the door was a digital gizmo (presumably) displaying today’s date.  It read ‘21 May’.  This was not reassuring.

^^^ But then Atlas’ shed kind of makes me feel that way, which is where we came in.

~ Last night one of our Sams trainers, in discussing dealing with our occasional aggressive male client, made reference to ‘the gentle sex’.  I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.  This bloke is probably my age.  I can’t imagine any American under the age of about a hundred and twelve using that phrase.

~~ I had a bad moment when I finally got it out to Wolfgang.  But it went in.  Just.

~~~ The invisible gravel-eating dragon at the cottage is particular about the size of his gravel, and apparently particular invisible gravel-eating dragons are common in this area because it’s hard finding the right size.

= All right, not very grey yet.  But getting there.

== You may be aware that it is one of the laws of the greater universe, not just our small subiverse, that the carts available at Large DIY Stores are made out of tin foil and coat hanger wire and, furthermore, all drive at weird angles so you’re always urgently trying to keep them from ploughing into the two-storey begonia display, and that if you dropped a potting bench flat pack on one, let alone a bag of invisible-dragon fodder, its axles would disintegrate and its wheels explode and the store detective would arrest you for vandalism.

† Also, as mentioned above/below, depending on how you read your footnotes, I’m just a trifle demented from lack of sleep.

Summer is icumen in*


Poor Nadia emailed yesterday that she had tonsillitis**,  so I phoned Atlas and asked him to bring his trailer today, Monday being his usual McKinley-Dickinson day, and I’m usually having a voice lesson.***  But now that I’m NOT letting Third House, the garden is again mine.#  So I thought I might send some of the botanical overflow from the cottage to Third House, whose borders are nothing like full since the awful truth is that living in three houses is Not Really Practical.  Ahem.  At least not unless you have staff which is not one of the options here.  And while Atlas to cut the grass is great## if you have a garden because you like gardening you don’t really want someone else doing all the fun stuff, which is basically everything but mowing lawns.###

The trailer is about eight foot by four, if you're wondering.

The trailer is about eight foot by four, if you’re wondering.

Atlas, grinning hugely, said, So, Robin, what are you going to do with all the SPACE?  –SPACE?  WHAT SPACE?  You can still only get out the kitchen door at the cottage carefully.  You can barely tell anything’s changed.  Especially after I spent the remainder of the afternoon at the cottage, potting up and potting on.~  Things race out so, this time of year, with summer icumen and all.  I also found, not to say unearthed, a good Wolfgang’s boot-load of plants that should have gone up in the trailer.  Except there wasn’t room.  Tomorrow.  I can take them up tomorrow ~~.  Tomorrow I may teach Fiona the basics of gardening.~~~

* * *

* And I wish the cuckoo would sing, they’re getting rarer and rarer.  When I moved over here twenty-odd years ago they were dead common.  They’re now dead rare.  I hope they don’t finish this progression to dead dead.

** It’ll be good when everyone’s immune system adjusts to kids-in-school germs.  Stella still goes down with everything on offer and generously passes about half of it on to her mother.  And there’s Renfrew to add to the germ-factory joy in a couple of years.

*** It is really very annoying that the world does not revolve around me, so I could schedule everything to suit my convenience.

# All right, I’m going to have to share it with Peter.  Our garden.  Not some random rent-paying stranger’s garden.

## I used to the mow the little lawns–ie with a hand mower, not some snarling sit-on behemoth–in the walled garden at the old house AND IT’S ABOUT THE MOST BORING THING EVER.

### Almost everything.  Battling perennial weeds with roots to China is also a major ratbag since I won’t use chemical -icides.

~ I need more potting compost.  Sigh.

~~ Okay, so I buy too many plants like I buy too much yarn and too many books and music and . . . but I have a serious dahlia problem this year. Which is that I think all of last year’s are still alive.  And of course I ordered more, because attrition can be expected to run anywhere from about 60% to 100%.  Little green dahlia leaves in one of last year’s pots are usually cause for excitement and celebration not a blank look of disbelief and a muttered, another one?

~~~ First you buy your Royal Horticultural Society/Victoria & Albert Museum kneeler, with the fabulous William Morris or Redoubte rose print, and then you need your pink gloves^. . . .

^ They’ve started making pink hand tools but so far the ones I’ve seen appear to be for people who don’t actually . . . plan to use them.  Hmmph.  Who wants tools that don’t do the job??  Decorative tools?  Spare me.  Although I’m just as happy not to spend top-end prices on another pair of secateurs.  If Felco comes out with pink secateurs I’m in trouble.



I think I haven’t been to any of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s live-streaming cinema broadcasts this season, for a variety of reasons, including being fired by my dog minder, but also . . . and I realise how pathetic and lame this sounds . . . because Saturday night is my favourite frelling church service, sitting silently in the dark with monks.  Saturday night is the only service all week that has the silent-sitting thing.  I’ll try to catch an extra service at the abbey, I hope tomorrow night**, but if I want to sit silently in the dark I’ll have to do it by myself.  Whiiiiiiine.

But this run at the Met is probably Joyce DiDonato’s last performance of La Cenerentola, and last night was the broadcast.  And Radio 3, which would be airing it only without the eye-candy part, has been advertising it pretty hard.  And there are, in fact, limits to my dedication to God (and monks).***  Joyce DiDonato, you know?†  Not to mention Juan Diego Florez, who is adorable aside from the high Cs††.

Because I bought my ticket at the last minute I had a choice between being at the extreme end of one of the back rows and thus seeing the screen as if reflected in an unfunhouse mirror . . . or the aisle of the second row and thus needing a neck like a giraffe to tip my head far enough back to see the screen at all.  I went for the second row.  And brought a large tote bag with two big fat pillows in it—much to the hilarity of the guy behind me in row three†††—and lay down for the show.‡  Worked a treat, thanks.

AND THE OPERA WAS FABULOUS.  STAGGERINGLY, GORGEOUSLY, JAW-DROPPINGLY FABULOUS.  If they rerun it—which they sometimes do, and I would expect DiDonato’s final go at one of her signature roles would be a good candidate—and you have the FAINTEST interest in opera or classical singing or music—GO.  GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO.

And . . . just by the way . . . not that this has anything to do with anything . . . but there are three cute guys in it.  This doesn’t happen in opera.  You’re lucky if you have one who, compared with a dead fish, comes out slightly ahead.  Florez, as previously observed, is darling.‡‡  Dandini is also pretty frelling cute.‡‡‡  And Alidoro . . . ::fans self::§  I mean, gleep.§§

. . . . Anyway.  I have now spent over an hour sifting through YouTube clips§§§ because I am so devoted to the welfare of my blog readers, and I HAVE TO GO TO BED.  Maybe I’ll get back to CENERENTOLA in a footnote sometime. . . .

* * *

* The etc is chiefly that we went to a National Garden Scheme garden today . . . and took Pav.  I’ve been wanting to take her to an open garden but there aren’t that many that allow dogs—fewer than there used to be, I would have said, but maybe it’s just around here, or we want to go to the wrong gardens.^

This one was gorgeous, mellow old stone house on the bank^^ of one of England’s pencil-thick so-called rivers, but winding romantically, with waterfowl and reeds.^^^  The garden then extended back across fields with vistas and benches and the occasional outburst of perennial border.  And the weather, which was forecast to be grouchy and streaming by turns, was glorious, bright blue sky and big fat scudding clouds.#  I barely saw any of it, since Pav was trying to see, respond, engage, EAT all of it simultaneously and you couldn’t see those little short legs, they were churning so fast.  ADVENTURE!  WE’RE HAVING AN ADVENTURE!  Pantpantpantpantpantpantpant.  She did not seem to be sorry to sit in my lap for tea, however, where she was more easily suppressed than if I tried to make her lie down under my chair##, although I did have to keep a sharp eye on the cakes.  NO.  NOT FOR DOGS.  NOT EVEN FOR HELLTERRORS.  Cute is not enough.  —She was much admired by several aficionados of the breed, however, as well as cringed away from by several people who think they know that all bull terriers are evil biting machines.  Sigh.  We saw Labs (of frelling course), Goldens, poodles, gazillions of ordinary boring hairy terrier terriers . . . but we were the Supreme Only Bull Terrier present.

^ We used to allow dogs when we opened our garden at the old house.  Just by the way.  We also offered free plastic bags.  Ahem.  Today this aspect of the presence of dogs was pretty funny.  Pav in the heat of excitement had an unscheduled defecatory moment which—since I always have plastic bags secreted about my person in several places in case I forget and run out in the standard coat pocket location—I recovered.  But there wasn’t anything like a bin to deposit the securely wrapped morsel in.  I can’t now remember what we did when we had our garden open;  did we expect people to carry canine excreta home with them?  Surely not.  Anyway.  No bin.  So Pav and I went back to the gate while Peter bought tea+, and inquired there if there was a public bin nearby?  The car park this private garden was using for their open day was attached to some public wildlife preserve, you’d frelling expect there’d be a bin.

You’d’ve thought I’d made an improper suggestion++.  Both ladies looked alarmed and revolted and the nearer one edged her chair away from Pav doing her I-am-a-lunatic-and-I-have-no-manners shtick but clearly secured by a thick+++, heavy, short lead.  No-no-no-no-no, quavered one of them, clutching her twinset to her bosom.

I was tempted to make little dashes at them—like the bully in the playground waving a poor confused harmless snake at the wusses, although I would not describe Pav as poor or confused, or harmless if you’re wearing clean jeans—but I didn’t want to be told to go away before I’d had my tea.  So I restrained myself (and Pav).

And took our parcel back to the car.  Which was kind of a frelling walk.  Next year the owner, whom I heard saying jollily that they’d had a lot of dogs today, should consider both the suitability of the volunteers on the gate and the provision of a small bin with a lid.

+ Including the all-important Cake Selection process

++ Live in a yurt!  Buy an armadillo!  Get legless on a night you’re wearing stacked stilettos and make the Street Pastors give you a pair of flipflops!

+++ and spectacularly gaudy.  So gaudy I had a pair of meek little English men creep up to me and ask softly where I’d bought it.  Oh, the States somewhere, I said loudly in my rich American accent.  I forget.

So maybe it was the (pink) harness and rainbow-dazzle lead that the ladies on the gate were disturbed by, and the drooling hellterror exhibiting them was incidental.

^^ High enough, I guess, that they did not have water in their cellar this winter.

^^^ Rushes?  Tall strappy-leaved edge-of-river plants.

# The best thing of all was how easy it was to find.  It looked in the directions like it should be easy.  But that doesn’t mean anything.

## HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  But she lies down very well if there’s cheese or chicken involved.  And I did have chicken jerky in my pocket in case of emergencies.

** As I wrote to Alfrick, emailing to warn him I wasn’t coming last night, I start jonesing for monks if I go much over a week without a hit.

*** I’m a Street Pastor!  I’m about to become a frelling (nonreligious, but God still told me to) Samaritan!  Cut me some slack here!

†  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3damaS03KgY wowzah

†† https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD1Cq2T5veI gonzo

††† And I wager my neck was in better shape than his at the end of the four hours

‡ Leg stowage I admit can be a problem in these situations, but as it happens there was no one in the front row, so I could rest my raised knees against the seat without anyone objecting.

‡‡ In the interviews I’ve heard with him he sounds like a decent human being too.  I refuse to find darling people who are clearly major creepazoids.^

^ I’m old.  My hormones are under control.+

+ Except for the ones involved in hot flushes.  I thought you STOPPED HAVING hot flushes/flashes after a few years.  I’m waiting. . . .

‡‡‡ https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=pietro+spagnoli

§ Hot flush.  No, really.

§§ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pr2LBjN7K10 Gah.  I have wasted a lot of time trying to find a clip where you can not merely hear but see him.  There’s also quite a good one of him singing poor Cherubino off to battle but you don’t get a close up.  This one is fairly explicit.  He’s the one doing most of the singing, making up to the girl in the grey dress.  ::fans self more::  Oh, Dmitri [Hvoroskovsky], you may have a rival.^


§§§ Okay.  Some knitting also occurred.

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