May 28, 2014

Shadows is here!

Ow, continued

 

Last night* did not begin well . . . when I shut Wolfgang’s front passenger-side door on my thumb.

I was very good.  It was urble-mumble o’clock in the morning** so I did not scream to make the welkin ring, although there was some fairly dramatic hissing, and the thirty seconds or so it took to hustle the frelling hellhounds into the car—they dork around and dork around looking for THAT ILLUSORY PERFECT PLACE TO PEE—may have been the longest thirty seconds of my life*** before I could pelt back indoors and fish out the arnica bottle—with, you know, my other wounded hand, the one with the slightly cracked finger.  Meanwhile I don’t suppose my thumb had really blown up like a balloon on an electric bicycle pump but . . . close.†  So last night I took the other half of the bottle of arnica I’d started the night before when I semi-broke my finger.  And last night’s insomnia was made more interesting by my thumb going BANG every hour or so necessitating me to sit up, groggily feel around for the arnica bottle, and take another tiny pill.††  Plus a certain amount of hypericum.†††

And today my thumbnail is turquoise.  I think it’s slowly turning black, the way squashed fingernails do, but it was a positively brilliant turquoise this morning.  New experiences.  I could have done without this one.  This is also the first time since my discovery of the wonders of arnica that I’m going to have a black fingernail anyway.  Sigh.  I hate black nails;  it takes a good six months for one to grow out—on me, anyway.  And it makes you look so hopeless.  No one ever got a black nail saving the universe.  It’s always because you’re a dolt and you shut your finger in a door.  I need more sleep.  I’m not usually quite this self-destructive.

Meanwhile . . . at the moment neither hand works very well.  And except for the fact that it’s my left thumb which is superfluous to requirements on a keyboard, it’s a lot more inconvenient than the middle finger on my other hand.  No opposable thumb.  No grasping.  Also I can’t hit the brake on Chaos’ lead—now that’s dangerous—and Pav is usually on that side too, but I can at least make a wild poke with my right thumb.  But it’s REALLY GREAT TIMING that I have two sub-functioning hands when I’m trying to yank us toward readiness to move house.  Which in this case chiefly means BOOKS.  Lots and lots and lots and lots of books.‡

Ow.  Ow.

* * *

* And by night we mean that time at the end of a long evening which reaches well past both the big and the little hand on the tick-tock^ device sticking straight up, and begins with that fell and doom-laden moment I face the necessity of loading sixteen hellcritters and enough kit for an assault on Everest in January into Wolfgang to make our slow bleary way back to the cottage.  Well, that’s how it feels.

^ I’m sorry, but all the best clocks still go tick-tock.  And have hands.

** Which is late even for me.  Well, I’d been having a long semi-unplanned conversation with an across-the-pond friend earlier, not for lack of trying to create something like an advance strategy.  NONE OF MY TECHNOLOGY WORKS.  NONE.  Am I only suffering from aggravated nostalgia, or am I right in thinking that back in the days when street mail and telephones were your only options, they mostly worked pretty well?  TESS OF THE D’URBERVILLES wouldn’t make you crazy if misdelivered letters were a commonplace.^

^  ANGEL CLARE IS A MOULDY DOG TURD.  Just sayin’.

*** Although the rather fewer seconds between bouncing off the side of a caroming car and watching the ground rushing up toward my motorcycle and me also took a surprisingly long time.  I’ve told you this story, right?  Well, I haven’t told you in at least six months and it’s one of my favourites.  I was lying there in the road and someone who’d pulled over and stopped his car came running up to me yelling, Son, son, are you all right?  And I said, Well, you could get this motorcycle off my leg, and he said, Oh my God it’s a girl—and ran away and was never seen again.  Although he was probably responsible for the deluge of fire trucks and ambulances that began to arrive shortly thereafter.  This was—gleep—over forty years ago.  No one, including William Gibson, was entertaining any fantastic notion of mobile phones yet.  You had to go find a phone booth or one of those EMERGENCY PULL/PRESS HERE boxes.

† I want to know—well, I think I want to know, graphic gore is not my thing—what happens if someone who’s shut a toe or a fingertip in a car door^ doesn’t have a source of cold water or arnica to stop the swelling?  Fingernails don’t stretch.

^ All those jokes about silly-putty steel in modern vehicles are suddenly not funny.  But then one of the reasons some of us like VWs and Volvos and various not-I-think-exclusively-German four-wheeled bombs is the higher percentage of real steel in their composition.  A headlong juggernaut will still take you out but a careening lorry might not.  I think there could be some research done into rubber door mounts however.

†† Plus the two phone calls and two no-you-don’t-have-to-sign-for-it-but-we’re-still-going-to-knock-on-your-door-and-wake-you-up-again deliveries.  In their defense, both deliveries were after nine a.m.  And I sleep in clothing I can answer the door in.^

^ Kes is telling herself that sleeping in chainmail would be really uncomfortable.

††† Hypericum is another really basic homeopathic first aid remedy.  For injury you always start with arnica, but if it needs some help, hypericum is particularly good for nerve-rich bits like fingers and toes and your coccyx.  Also for injuries that stab you repeatedly.  This one echoed very unpleasantly not just through the rest of my hand but up my arm to my shoulder.  BANG.

‡ The Oxfam bookshop is going to ban me.  No!  Not more classics of English literature that no one reads any more!^

^ I’m keeping Dickens and Faulkner.  And Anthony Trollope.  And Hardy.  And George Eliot.  And Elizabeth Bowen.  Some Conrad.  Some Henry James.  And a ridiculous amount of poetry.  Willa Cather is out.  F Scott Fitzgerald—out.  Madame Bovary—out.  Most of the Russians—out.

Another frelling Bank Holiday weekend

 

It rained in torrents the last two days* and then today, when it was supposed to rain in more torrents, it cleared off and was gorgeous—and everything green** and rooty that had sucked up lake-sized draughts promptly shot up another couple of feet.  Atlas mowed Third House’s lawn last Monday and I swear it’s chest-high again.  But I really have to take some new photos because the ones from a fortnight ago that I still haven’t got round to posting are like last century.  Meanwhile I seem to have got a little distracted by footnotes again.***

* * *

* . . . well I think it was approximately two days.  Between being brain-destroyingly short of sleep and going to bed after dawn, the days kind of smush together.

** Not necessarily green green.  If you’re a copper beech you’re deep maroon.^  If you’re a black-leaved dahlia you’re, um, black.  Or anyway a very dark green.

^ Love copper beeches.  LOVE.

The hellhounds had had a good hurtle around Mauncester Friday morning so I took the hellterror with me to Warm Upford in the afternoon to top up Wolfgang’s fuel tank since it’s a frelling Bank Holiday weekend frelling frelling again FRELLING NO VOICE LESSON TOMORROW FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING.  About two miles beyond Warm Upford on the road to Prinkle-on-Weald there’s a huge old estate that’s been mostly turned into a conference centre or similar.  They’ve left the landscape alone, bless them, and various outbuildings and the astonishing old stable block, which is a kind of miniature palace, are still there pursuing new careers.  When we lived at Warm Upford we used to hurtle the previous generation out there pretty often, and back in my running days my two main loops—one five miles, one seven—began there.  Before I lost my nerve and Darkness his temper about off lead dogs I used to take the hellhounds out there occasionally, but I can’t now remember the last time we hurtled there.

Part of the landscape that the conference centre has left alone is the old avenue to the Big House . . . lined with copper beeches.  There are a lot of copper beeches around here, including the one that hangs over Third House’s garden from the churchyard+, but this is the only proper avenue of them that I can think of.  It is dazzling in its splendour—especially this time of year and especially-especially in a good rain year because beeches are shallow rooted—at least it is if you are crazy about copper beeches.  Friday I parked under the tree I used to park under to go running, about halfway down the avenue, and it was like MY OLD FRIENDS!  HOW YA DOING??

Also, the hellterror was beside herself with delight.  I swear there were about eight hellterrors, all of them HURTLING.  Do all short dogs have pogo-stick legs?  BOING.  BOING.  BOING.  She met her first horse—up close, I mean, being ridden past, not at a distance in a field++.  And she did not bark.  I was very proud.+++

+ Mine mine MINE.  Never mind where the roots are.  MINE.

++ She also met her first horse crap.  Horse crap = dog chocolate.  Ewwww.  Sigh.

+++ Today every nincompoop with a dog was out with it.  Bank Holiday Sunday the end of May in glorious weather—hopeless.  But us rain-or-shine regulars are grimly out there too.  The hellterror and I were attempting to walk past a bench upon which were two women with dogs and one dog-free bloke.  The dogs were large.  The women were medium.  The bloke was small.  The dogs had that superior look that often goes with largeness, to which the hellterror took exception.  Well I’m kind of with her there.  Walking past quietly on a loose lead was out of the question, but we could at least walk past in a series of short controlled hops with a minimum of sotto voce comments about the heritage and personal habits of the unnecessarily large dogs.  I was bent over with some fingers hooked through her harness the better to continue the conversation—she does listen, the little evil eye rolls back toward me with that but-they’re-LARGE-and-SMUG-you-can’t-expect-me-to-IGNORE-them look—but she has a somewhat non-existent attention span# so I have to keep reminding her that she did agree to be polite.  And the bloke says, you training him?

In the first place HER HARNESS IS PINK.  I’m aware of the cultural dorkiness that says that all dogs are he like all cats are she.  And, okay, never mind the vagina and the prominent nipples.  HER HARNESS IS PINK.  In the second place WHAT DO YOU THINK, POTATO FACE?  I usually walk all bent over with my hand hooked through my short-legged dog’s harness murmuring sweet nothings in her pointed ears for the entertainment of the teeming Bank Holiday hordes.

# I have to tell you again however our late-night training sessions are a hoot.  There are now several things she does pretty well but our default is that she sits and gives me a paw.  Whenever we start getting tangled up in some dumb thing I’ve failed to explain successfully in hellterror language, we revert to sitting and offering a paw.  Because these sessions involve fooooood the lack of attention span disappears under an avalanche of greed, and she has a full-body offering of paw(s) I find hilarious.  What I really want to video however are my attempts to teach her to roll over.  She is, of course, a total ham—I think this is in the bullie gene map—and if I’m laughing, as far as she’s concerned, she’s doing it right.  Especially if she gets chicken/cheese/apple for it.  But I haven’t got enough hands to run a video camera too.~

~ Especially since I think I may have broken a finger.  I can’t even remember what I was diving for, last night, in my clumsy, sleep-deprived state, but my hand slammed into a chair instead and there was this tiny nasty snapping noise.  Oops.  I took about half a bottle of arnica and I can still type—this is not coming to you via voice-recognition software, no—but the finger has turned kind of a funny colour= and it’s (yelp) rather sore and I don’t think I want to hold even a small video recording device in that hand.  If it gets no worse I’ll just let it sort itself out but there may be a hiatus in bell ringing.  How long does it take a small finger bone that is probably cracked, not broken, to heal?

= Rather copper beech coloured, in fact.

*** I keep telling you I need sleep. I.  NEED.  SLEEP.  Sigh . . .

In which Life Sort of Replicates Art

 

. . . wherein dropping your music all over the stage is like not getting killed because your enchanted sword, your equally enchanted bracelet-shield and your mighty war-horse have you covered, not to mention a regiment of Falcons coming to your aid.

Because St Margaret’s is short of musicians cough cough cough cough and are not fussy about the quality of their volunteers and because (almost) Any Fool Can Sing and I’m certainly somewhat less of a fool and more of a singer than I was two or three years ago, I’ve been signing myself up on the rota to sing every other week.  Tonight was one of my microphone nights.

Not till yesterday—there’s kind of a lot going on*—I suddenly thought OH MY NEON STROBING WHATSIT, I HAVEN’T HAD THE PLAYLIST FOR SUNDAY YET.  I scrambled on line to check who the music leader for the evening was—Samantha—and discovered . . . that my name wasn’t on the rota.  It’s there for a fortnight from now but not for tonight.  ARRRRRGH.  SOFTWARE HATES ME.  Not that this is news or anything.**  But they were still short of singers, so I emailed Buck. . . .

I SHOULD HAVE TAKEN MY ABSENCE FROM THE ROTA AS A SIGN.  I SHOULD FRELLING KNOW A FRELLING SIGN WHEN I SEE ONE.***

Buck emailed back that they’d be glad to have me, and forwarded Samantha’s music-leader email from earlier that day—yesterday—saying that SHE HADN’T DECIDED YET.  But that her final choice would PROBABLY be from AMONG THE FOLLOWING 1,000,000,000 possibles. . . .

Whimper.

I arrived tonight already beginning to hyperventilate and found Buck and Samantha arguing about key signatures.  Samantha is an alto and always wants stuff pitched extra low.  Okay, I can bellow, but there are two or three notes in the middle where I can’t get much noise either from chest or head voice . . . and of course those are the two or three notes most used in tonight’s selection . . . which Samantha was still swapping around.  Fortunately Janey was there too;  I might very well have been reduced to making fish mouths if I hadn’t been standing next to someone singing what I was supposed to sing—Samantha is up at the front of the stage as leader, she’s no use.  Practise started late and got bogged down in key signature changes and esoterica like bridges.  Hey, you sing one verse, and then you sing another verse, and then you go on to the next song, okay?  It’s not like it’s Mozart or something.†

But because we kept coming adrift over superfluities like what the guitar or the keyboard was supposed to be playing we didn’t get to sing everything and raced over two songs saying oh we don’t have to practise those, we know those and I’m saying NO WE DON’T.  I DON’T KNOW THEM and they’re saying OH YES YOU DO.  YOU’LL REMEMBER AS SOON AS WE START.  And I’m saying GLEEEEEEEEP.

So I’m in a weakened condition when I totter off the stage to fetch my standard cup of Crimson Glory tea†† and then sit down for a moment before the service begins, and on my way to the kitchen I am WAYLAID by the Greeter Steward Person who (among other tasks) usually has the perhaps less than happy duty of ensnaring readers:  there are two (Bible) readings per service and therefore two readers are necessary.  Wouldn’t you like to do a READING tonight? she said.  Erm.  Well, I don’t mind, and—as mentioned on these virtual pages several times previously—the thing about getting involved with a church community is that you want to be careful to pitch in on the stuff you don’t mind doing or sure as eggs is eggs [sic] you’ll get nailed for stuff you do mind.  So I said yes.

I managed to miss the band intro because I was still staring at the floor from my chair during opening prayers and I look up and everybody else is on stage and they’d already begun by the time I stumbled up the frelling stair and grabbed my microphone.  Since the first song is one of the ones I don’t know nobody was missing much.†††

Janey and I were sharing a music stand which would be okay except for the part about how it’s not quite wide enough.  Our sheet music is in plastic covers, and three-pagers fold out, and the music stand is only two pages wide, and the plastic covers are floppy.  So I cleverly borrowed a stiff notebook to widen the music stand a bit so we could see all three pages at the same time, since sometimes you go back to the beginning for the next verse, you know?  Arrrgh.‡  And for the last song, which was a three-pager, I was delicately arranging it and then twisting the stand slightly so Janey could see it too and I managed to drop all the rest of the music all over the stage in a snowstorm of pages AAAAAAAUUGH KILL ME NOW.   So we finish the final song of the set and I’m on my hands and knees frantically scrabbling up pages . . . have I mentioned that the Bible readings come immediately after the singing?  And that I was doing the first reading?

I flung the music back on the stand, fled for my chair—usually sitting in the back of the congregation is fine—and Bible, and shot for the front again where Buck, who did not know who was doing tonight’s readings, was fiddling with the microphone stand and said laconically, in typical Buckminster manner, Hey, I was getting worried.

I read.  I didn’t drop the Bible or get my tongue twisted and say ‘—-’ or ‘—-’ inadvertently.

Not a whole lot else happened.‡‡  I didn’t fall down or throw up or knock over anybody else’s music stand for the final song at the end of the service.  I even got up on stage more or less on time.  But I don’t think the Falcons would have bothered rescuing me.

* * *

* I’ve told you Fiona is coming back this Tuesday to help me further whack Third House into inhabitable condition.  The problem with this is that I need a clue what to ask her to doAside from the standard Oxfam run with the several million more slightly used books in the boot, making her car hunker down like an American moonshine runner.

** And this programme in particular has decided that I am devilspawn and every time I open it it assigns me a Small Blue Flashing Escort Box with Special Powers that follows me around and messes with what I’m doing.  Because you can’t be too careful with devilspawn.  What I want to know is if as we approach Sunday fortnight my name will disappear from that rota too.

*** I write fantasy for a living, you know.  Lots of signs and portents in fantasy.  I like signs and portents.  In fantasy.

† Singing from the front does help my attitude toward Modern Christian Worship Flapdoodle I Mean Music but it hasn’t exactly revolutionised it.

†† http://www.hambledenherbs.com/teainfusions/blends.aspx?p=5706

When I started going there, St Margaret’s didn’t have any herb tea bags.  What is the MATTER with these people?!  So I brought them a box of Crimson Glory.  Nobody seems to drink it but me.  I brought them a second box a while back.  The tea ladies see me coming and bring out The Red Box.

††† I should perhaps elucidate that there are two kinds of songs I don’t know.  The ones we practised—not enough—and the ones we didn’t practise.  At all.  Tonight’s first song falls into the first category.

‡ Also one of the songs I half know is too much like another song and it’s one of those with no music at all, just a lyric page so I kept trying to sing the other melody and . . .

‡‡ Except one of the admin—one I don’t usually have much occasion to talk to—made a point of coming up to tell me how well I’d read.  Snork.  It’s Paul, hectoring the Corinthians for immorality.  I can do ranting.

Surviving Easter

 

Peter’s had another fall.

I went to the Easter Vigil at the monks’ last night and it wasn’t over till after eleven—and then they fed us tea and cakes.*  So I got home late and it took me forever to wind down** and eventually went to bed late even for me.***

I’d left Peter a note that I wasn’t going to make our 11:30 pick up—since the stroke he walks into town to buy a newspaper, he’s old-fashioned like that, and I appear with Wolfgang and a backseat full of hellcritters at the appointed hour and take all of us down to the mews.  My note said that I’d ring him.

I rang him at 11:30, after about half an hour of evolving wakefulness, swearing and caffeine, and said I could be at the pick-up point at 12:30.  I’m not coming, he said.  What? I said.  I’ve had a fall, he said:  It’s okay.

IT’S NOT OKAY.  WHY DIDN’T YOU ******* RING ME.

I knew you went to bed late last night, he said.  I didn’t want to bother you.

AAAAAAAAAAAUGH.  WHY DO I TAKE POOKA TO BED WITH ME?  WHY DOES SHE LIE ON THE EDGE OF THE BOOKSHELF RIGHT BY THE BED HEAD, RIGHT NEXT TO MY ALARM CLOCK, SO I CAN’T POSSIBLY NOT HEAR HER IF SHE RINGS?†  LIKE, IF YOU GET IN TROUBLE AND COULD USE MY HELP?††

It’s okay, said Peter.  I’m fine.

Well . . . as falls in the bath when you’re eighty-six years old go, yes, he’s pretty healthy.  He still looks like an extra from one of the battle scenes in BRAVEHEART.  Meanwhile I was down to sing at St Margaret’s tonight†††, it’s Easter, and—I’ve told you this, haven’t I?—the Master of Music, whom we shall call Mr Bach‡, has decreed that there shall be no more than THREE singers, so if one of us doesn’t show it’s a bit conspicuous.  So I viewed my gory husband‡‡ with disfavour‡‡‡ and declared I was going to church as scheduled.

Aloysius had sent us our list of six—six—songs gallantly early in the week, which chiefly gave me time to freak out.§  Also there have been one or two other things going on.  And then I got there tonight and after having a brisk lesson in being a roadie (‘plug that in there—and that in there—and that in there’§§) I discovered that what we were performing only bore a genetically modified family resemblance to the YouTube links.  Arrrrrgh.  Oh, and I’d’ve made a hole in the line up if I’d cancelled?  There were only two of us singers.  ARRRRRGH.§§§

But there were big handfuls of chocolate eggs on all the little café tables that we gather around at the evening service.  Eat up, said Buck.  I don’t want any left.  Hey, singing in front of an audience burns a lot of calories.#  And there was roast chicken when I got home.

Happy Easter.##

* * *

* Banana coconut cake to die for, just by the way.  I’m going to ask Alfrick if there’s a recipe.^  There was also hot chocolate for anyone who can deal with dairy.  Siiiiiiiigh.

^ Alfrick’s a good cook.  Experienced in producing lavish spreads for mobs with varying dietary requirements.

** Christ is risen, you know.  The Anglicans raise him Saturday night which is fine with me—I’m not invested in the three days thing, I want the Friday part over as fast as possible—plus driving.  That the Saviour lives is exciting enough but driving a car really winds me up.

*** . . . Never mind.

† That is, barks.

†† And it’s worse than that.  He fell in the bath.  The bath apparatus the NHS physios tried to set up didn’t work with him in this bath, so they took it away again.  And he has insisted on going on having his bath in the morning when I’m not here rather than the evening when I am.  It was clear I wasn’t going to win this battle and purposeless bloodshed does not appeal, so I let it go.  Even knowing it was an accident waiting to happen, it’s not like I could lock the bathtub when I left at night.  But  . . . he fell in the bath having spent most of half an hour trying to get out of it first.  He fell in the bath having spent most of half an hour trying to get out of it with HIS phone within easy reach.

I’m running away from home to join a convent.^

^ Also, the Nightmare of Hellhound Digestion continues.+

+ And by current indications Darkness is planning on dragging me all over Hampshire again later tonight.  Joy.

††† I know Easter is supposed to be pretty epic, but . . . it is.  And bouncing between St Margaret’s and the monks for the last few days has rendered me even more la-la-la-la than I would be anyway:  if you’re going to engage with the Easter story, it’s going to rip you up pretty extensively, and I’m old to be learning graphic new skills.

Generally speaking I find St Margaret’s less embarrassing because it’s less formal.  But in the can’t-take-me-anywhere category . . . Good Friday at the monks includes the abbot and some candle-holders and incense-swingers doing an abbreviated Stations of the Cross which finishes with everybody else queuing up to genuflect and kiss the cross that was sequentially unwrapped during the Stations.  My turn:  I managed the genuflection without killing anyone but I misjudged the bending-forward business and managed to impale my face on the sticky-out bits of the cross.  Wounded by God.  Good . . . grief.  Fortunately the cross was being held by two stalwart young men, possibly in expectation of someone like me, so no damage done.  Except to my face, of course.

At least I managed to cross myself a couple of times at more or less the right moment without poking myself in the eye—or in my neighbour’s.  I’ve made a few hopeless attempts to find out what the actual system is at a high-Anglican service but since it apparently varies from church to church and priest to priest anything google might be able to teach me would turn out to be wrong.  It would also be helpful if the actual order of service books produced BY the monks for their attendees were frelling accurate.    And why does everyone else in the congregation seem to know which bits to ignore?

‡ PDQ.  I am not a fan of a Master of Music who limits singers to three.

‡‡ Head wounds BLEED.  Also he’s on Warfarin.  Whimper.

‡‡‡ Georgiana was here this afternoon, and in a family notorious for its bossy women we may be the two bossiest.  And Peter stood up to both of us with aplomb and dispatch^ so he probably is okay.

^ Including things like chaining himself to the railing rather than be taken to A&E.

§ Also . . . I rather like one of them.  Oh God I am losing my musical integrity.

§§ I think the church’s bass amp is about as old as I am.

§§§ Tonight’s other singer, Janey, who has been singing at St Margaret’s for many years, said, somewhat grimly, in response to my craven desire for sheet music, that learning any given song is of limited usefulness on the night since every leader performs it differently.  She picked up the lyric-only sheet of our first song.  This one, she said.  Aloysius plays it one way.  Buck does it another.  PDQ does it yet another.  Samantha another.  Are there any other leaders?  They do it differently too.

Oh.

# And my husband seems to have hidden the GIGANTIC chocolate egg another branch of the family brought us on Saturday.  I have to get my ellipsoidal chocolate fix somehow.

## Although the Darkness situation is still outstanding.  And I’m trying to decide if I should wake Peter up before I leave and make sure nothing new has swollen or developed bruising and his pupils are still the same size as each other.

I was going to write about something else entirely and then . . .

 

STOP PRESS.  THERE’S A SLUG IN MY TEA POT. 

GROOOSSSSSSSSSSS.  How the (*&^%$£”!!!! did a slug get in my TEA POT?!?  I make a pot of peppermint tea every evening at approximately blog-writing time.  The salad stage of the day—when, I acknowledge, unfortunate encounters may occur, the whole organic thing does have its downside—is long over.  I am not programmed for slugs when I’m getting my tea pot down from its shelf and scooping two heaping teaspoons of loose peppermint tea from a tin.  WHAT IF I HADN’T NOTICED?  WHAT IF I HADN’T NOTICED THERE WAS A SLUG IN MY TEA POT AND JUST WENT AHEAD AND . . . I mean, do you usually check your tea pot for slugs?  Is this standard defensive behaviour as described in one of those rule books I missed, like checking your shoes for scorpions if you live in scorpion country, if you live in slug country CHECK YOUR TEA POTS?  AAAAAAAAAAUGH.*  I may give up peppermint tea.  I may give up drinking.  I may give up EATING.  The hellhounds can teach me how.**

. . .  Well, that threw me the flipping doodah off my stride.  Where was I?  Um . . . so I hope everyone was outdoors last night admiring the supermoon?  http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/gallery/2013/jun/23/supermoon-elliptical-orbit-world-in-pictures **  I wanted to add that on midsummer night, the 24th of frelling June in the south of England, I had to put my coat on to take hellterror and hellhounds for their last nominal hurtle(s), it was 48 degrees when I went to bed and my highest/lowest thermometer informs me it got down to 45.  That’s 7 to you moderns.  I remind myself that I’d much rather have it too cold than too hot, and that’s still true, but it is disconcerting to be wearing thermals and a woolly jumper when it’s daylight at nine p.m.

And can we have some rain, please?  It’s too cold to be sloshing water over your feet when you miss the pot or the plant or whack the side of the barrel as you’re lifting your refilled watering-can out of it.†  I’m also wondering if it’s this bizarre weather that is filling my meconopsis(es) with the joy of living?  I’ve got a second one flowering now and there’s going to be at least one more—and there are at least three further pots that I just hadn’t got round to throwing out the contents of yet that are now eagerly putting out hairy meconopsis leaves and thinking about stems.††  One of them, I’m embarrassed to say, has four meconopsis in it because when they arrived as plugs a year or, cough-cough, maybe two years ago, they sat there and sulked and didn’t come on at all so when the time came that I should have potted them on again, I snarled inarticulately and slammed all four of them in a pot that should have held one of them, if any of them had bothered to grow.  They’re growing now.  Maybe next year I should bring all four hundred and twelve of my meconopsis forest††† indoors in March and put them in the REFRIGERATOR for a few weeks??

 * * *

* During which Robin hits that elusive high C, the hellterror barks, and the hellhounds sprint for cover.

** There are people who claim to live on air, on chi or prana or what have you.  I admit I’ve always suspected this to be a trifle bogus . . . but maybe your metabolism can be SHOCKED into plugging into ethereal nutrition by . . . oh, something like finding a slug in your tea pot.

If I find a slug in my Green & Black’s stash, it’s air from that moment on.

***  I am frequently confused by the difference between the on-line version and the hard-copy version—this happens most often with the GUARDIAN since it’s the only thing I read regularly in hard copy that lets you link full-content stuff for free.^  But I liked the selection of photos in the paper paper better.  Is there some additional selection process going on, what is deemed to look better on a computer screen?

^ I know they’re supposed to have a financial survival plan but I really don’t understand why they haven’t crashed and burned—or aren’t going to, tomorrow or the next day.  I would love a system that allows more media to do what they’re doing+ but . . . it just looks like the Charge of the Light Brigade from where I’m sitting.

+ Says the fiction writer who would like to worry less about where the next bag of gold-standard hellcritter food is coming from, and is freaked out all over again by every instance of piracy.

† Sigh.  If clumsy idiocy were an Olympic sport, I’d’ve found my niche at last.

†† You can’t have everything however.  My eremurus robustus is GIGANTIC . . . but there is no sign of a flower stem.  Sigh.

††† I’m not surprised I have bought so many—they’re so pretty, and they frelling die so briskly—I’m a little surprised I haven’t thrown more of them out.  The labels are, of course, long gone but there are always kind of a lot of maybe-empty maybe-not pots lurking in corners in the cottage garden.  A surprising number of them evidently contain meconopsis, who is a lurky kind of plant even when it’s happy.

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