June 26, 2013

Shadows is here!

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



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.

Moan, etc



So yesterday I thought I was dying* or at least coming down with combined typhoid and cholera** . . . which might very well have had a sinister effect on my life expectancy.***

Today . . . I am not too bad.  A little wombly, but not too bad.  Despite the arrival of the new refrigerator which . . . remember the good old days when you ripped your appliance out of its cardboard and Styrofoam and plugged it in?  This one is apparently a doctoral thesis in practical engineering ARRRRRRRRGH.  Atlas is coming tomorrow to examine the problem.

* * *

* Or at least losing the will to live.  A new foreign edition of BEAUTY arrived recently.



I’m really delighted when my message of active roles for women successfully crosses the translation/culture barrier.

** As a result of the little adventure with the hellterror the other night.  I can’t have Lady Macbethed hard enough.  Although my hands were positively sore afterwards.  I did try.

*** I spent the day frantically popping homeopathy pills^—I have an assortment of hellcritters to hurtle!  I have a copyedited manuscript to painstakingly de-correct^^ someone else’s idea of standard^^^ punctuation and word usage through 273 pages of in the next I-think-it’s-ten days!  I have Green & Black’s to eat!  I can’t be ill!


I was appalled at the statistics quoted for conventional drugs, particularly the cost of treating the side effects of those drugs. 

Yep.  Iatrogenic—doctor-caused—illnesses are a major killer.  Depending on who you read, the third biggest killer in America, after cancer and heart disease.


I understand the bafflement, though I don’t condone the vitriol, of the establishment. I was trained in cause and effect, and I sure wish somebody could explain to me a mechanism that makes sense. Not to mention how an umpty-umpth dilution of a deadly poisonous heavy metal can help the innards.

 But I agree, if it helps Darkness, it’s not just a placebo.

There’s some fairly well-documented evidence out there about what is usually called ‘the memory of water’—that water that has been succussed, which means whacking your bottle against the palm of your hand or a big heavy book or thereabouts+ has undergone permanent structural changes by the now ex-presence of the remedy base:  white arsenic (Ars Alb) or club moss (Lycopodium) or whatever.  So after you’ve diluted it beyond the likelihood of any atom of the ‘remedy’ remaining . . . the water is still different than it was before it was treated.

And the foundation philosophy is ‘like cures like’.  Ars Alb is likely to help people presenting symptoms similar to arsenic poisoning.  ::HIDEOUS OVERSIMPLIFICATION ALERT::

Placebos are another tool.  The placebo effect is real, and useful.  I’m sure that sometimes it’s placebo causing positive change rather than the drug—homeopathic or allopathic—but homeopathy isn’t placebo, any more than allopathy is.

True skeptics would say that Darkness’ difficulties had merely run their course and it was nothing to do with the homeopathy.  I know better, of course, since it took me four or five years to figure out what worked with least trauma on these occasions—it’s a ratbag having a patient that won’t talk to you—and I remember how protracted these affairs were before I figured it out.

But you only have to see homeopathy work like magic a couple of times to realise there’s something in it.  Some bruises fade as you watch, after you’ve taken your Arnica.  I stopped getting black fingernails AGAIN after I shut my hand in a door AGAIN after I discovered Arnica.  I’ve told you my Cantharis story, haven’t I?  Speaking of being a moron+++.  I’ve been baking for fifty years but I CANNOT learn not to grab a handle . . . even if it’s been sitting in a hot oven for the last hour.  A few years ago I grabbed the handle of an iron skillet that had been in the Aga’s hot oven—really grabbed it, and so couldn’t let loose fast enough, and heard my flesh sizzling.  By the time I let go I already had a big angry red welt . . . and I knew what a burn like this was going to be like.  Among other things I wouldn’t be ringing any bells for weeks.

I ran for the Cantharis with my hand going THROB THROB THROB THROB.  And started popping pills.  In an ‘emergency acute’ situation like this you take them pretty rapidly—say five minutes apart—and you keep taking them till they start working.  Hellhound digestion and a bad burn both take pretty serious application.

But the Mare-Crisium-sized blister that was coming up by the time I got the bottle open paused and . . . went down again.  I don’t remember how many pills I took.  But finally all I had to show for the experience was a faint reddish mark.  It didn’t even peel.  I didn’t have to interrupt my bell ringing.  And I am not kidding about hearing my flesh sizzle.

. . . Did I ever tell you how Chaos got his notched ear?  That’s another Arnica story.

(And Diane . . . I bookmarked the anti-bloat stifle acupressure point the last time you posted it.  I don’t mean to discourage you from posting it again++ as the subject comes up again, as it will do, because the hellhounds and I are surrounded by careless idiots who throw sandwiches into the hedgerows, but it hasn’t worked for me.  I don’t know if that’s because the hellhounds’ problems don’t respond or I’m doing it wrong.  I incline to the latter, since I can rarely learn even a simple three-dimensional skill without someone demonstrating in three dimensions.)

+Homeopathic pharmacies have machines to do it of course.

++ http://www.hmgdc.org/Links/It_Simply_Works.pdf

+++ For which so far as I know there is no homeopathic treatment

^^ Under extreme duress, the splitting of infinitives is permitted.

^^^ Well it very well may be standard.  Ask me if standard is likely to be the method I adhere to.

Further Complications of Abbey Ringing


The wedding at the abbey today finished only seven minutes late.*  Shock.**  I hadn’t even got my knitting out yet.  I was busy worrying about parking for New Year’s Eve and applying to long-time abbey ringers for advice.  I don’t fancy the long walk back to my usual edge-of-town car park at midnight-thirty;  the centre-of-town one that casuistically calls itself the abbey car park and which has been full since the middle of November is unpredictably*** full the rest of the year too—and even that one requires an unpleasant saunter down a dark high-walled medieval alley† and an excellent opportunity to fall in an open and magnificently unlit water-channel if you are so inclined.

Now that I’m an actual branded member of the Forza band I’m eligible for a parking permit for the close . . . which has made me fall down laughing so hard that I keep forgetting to apply.  Ulrich gave me the form today†† but even if they decide to overlook my foibles I’m not going to have it by Monday†††.  Don’t worry about it, said the old guard in unison.  Nobody’s going to be checking abbey parking permits at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  So if I don’t post here on the 31st it’s because I’m walking home.

* * *

* Which means you hear it thundering through those vast spaces as you creep along your open gallery on the way to the tower.  This is the down side of that fabulous angle on the choir queued up for their parade through the nave that you have coming down, since the usual service ring is before.  If you’re ringing after something then you’re coming in while it’s going on^ and . . . you want to mind your manners, even if your big feet are out of your control.  You trip over that danglefrabbing break in the stair tread^^ again and you bleed silently.  No language.  The initial thud and gasp will go unremarked:  Forza is over fifteen hundred years old.  Ghosts are inevitable.^^^

^ If the bride isn’t having brunch in Monaco first and got a little held up.  Grrrr.

^^ It hasn’t been mended in six hundred years because Saint Inexorabla narrowly missed being martyred there by tripping over it with her big feet and the ninja archer’s shot whistled through where her head should have been.  She was passing as Dom Inexorable, of course.  This was a monastery.  She was a monk.  History does not record what she had done to rouse someone to sufficient exasperation to hire a ninja to deal with her, nor what a ninja was doing wandering around the back woods of Hampshire in the 1400s and hiring out to kill annoying monks.  The story does say that he laid his bow down forever that day and entered the monastery as a novice and that he and Inexorable later became good friends.

^^^ Including, according to some authorities, Inexorable and the ex-ninja, Dom Goro, having a passionate dispute about a tricky point of theology.

** Fortunately my shock was not so great that I embarrassed myself on the end of a bell rope any more than usual.  We were not a particularly good band, which meant call changes and plain hunt, since the usual rule is that you want as many bells going as you have pairs of hands for, so your worst ringer sets the standard.  But there were twenty-nine of us, which meant twenty-eight ringers and a stand-out, and Scary Man stood out to call the call changes.  Having your conductor standing out works extremely well in that airplane hangar because with umpty-mumble bells going you cannot HEAR a THING but a generalised roar, certainly not some puny little human voice screaming:  SIXTEEN TO FOUR!, THIRTY-THREE TO FIFTY-SEVEN!^ and instead he wanders around the circle standing in front of his chosen victim and screaming directly at them.^^  The only thing that went horribly wrong with the call changes is that I’d moved too slowly when he called us to fill in and all the front bells were taken so I ended up dead centre on the fourteen^^^.  To make the shouting easier Scary Man tends to break call changes into the front and back halves . . . and put me on the lead forever.  I HATE LEADING WHEN IT MATTERS.  Leading ruthlessly exposes your rhythmic shortcomings, of which I have many.  I stood there trying not to twitch, which is one of those things that makes you ring unevenly, and telling myself that if I were doing it too badly he’d get me off the lead even if it messed up his pattern.   Arrrgh.

^ For those of you who know how call changes work, yes, then he has to move briskly to shout at the other person affected, who may or may not have figured it out for themselves.

^^ Did I say twenty-eight bells?

^^^ And most of the front thirteen and Scary Man instantly said, ARE YOU ALL RIGHT THERE? and started offering me alternative ropes, and I derived some backbone from somewhere and said that I was fine.  The middle bells of twenty-eight are not heavy and frelling totally within my capabilities if I weren’t so frelling prone to PAAAAAANIC, especially at the frelling abbey.

*** Weirdly unpredictably.  I think there must be secret global conferences going on underground in the catacombs or something.  I never knew Forza had catacombs^, but then . . . they’re secret.  And any number of those gnarly little medieval doors could lead to crypts and grottos recently refitted with cutting-edge multi-media, infinitely twiddle-able indirect lighting, and coffee makers that look like a bad day on the FARSCAPE set.  And frog graveyards.

^ Except for frogs.  Especially lately.

† With very irregular paving stones.

†† It’s forty-seven pages long and demands your genealogy back to 1066 and the name of your sixth-form sportsmistress, and the vehicle you are wishing permission to possess its being briefly within the shadow of the abbey must present a clean and well-cared-for appearance as will not frighten any passing deans or deacons or ghosts of monks.  Maybe I should buy another motorcycle.   There’s less to keep tidy.

††† Especially because I forgot to put it through the office door on my way out today.

Too Much Information Update:  The hellterror has been crapping her tiny brains out, the last two days.  Every time she sees me waving her lead^ in a meaningful manner she leaps to her feet and says, Oooh!  Are we going outside?  I’m so excited, that means I can crap again!  No, no, I’m not going to stop with a mere pee, I am definitely going to have another CRAP!  It’s such fun!

^ Her inferior substitute back up lead because in the excitement of getting indoors and having lunch after all on Thursday I managed to leave her good one behind.  Georgiana says she’ll bring it back the next time she comes through, which is most weekends.  I hope this doesn’t turn into a Georgiana’s Champagne Stopper situation however:  she sent the rest of the bottle home with Peter on his birthday.  The champagne was finished off in a punctilious manner and the stopper . . . remained sitting on the table when Georgiana stopped for tea here last Sunday and had a nice little ride in the bottom of my knapsack on Thursday.

The Day That Did Not Go as Planned


The phone rang at 7:30 this morning.  This is my idea of an ungodly hour even on Sundays, when I drag myself groaning out of bed at 8 for service ring at 8:45.  In theory I have the upstairs phone unplugged because I do not want to be disturbed by people who lead normal sorts of lives and keep normal sorts of hours.  In practise I can hear the downstairs phone perfectly clearly and the more ungodly the hour the faster I answer it.  I can get the flex jammed back into its connection while my eyes are still glued shut.

            Sorry to trouble you, said Peter’s voice in his best I’m-fine-really tone, but I’ve just fallen down and bashed the back of my head against the bath, and there’s rather a lot of blood.  Can you come?

            This was—just by the way—the second fall in less than two days.  Yesterday afternoon Peter had been hanging a picture I had unearthed at Third House and brought down to the mews . . . and there was this loud thud in the hall and a faint, startled moan . . . and I leaped over the kitchen table and wrenched open the door, and there was Peter, lying on the carpet.  Other than the actual falling down part, he seemed unhurt.

            Today . . . there was rather a lot of blood, trailing thrillingly all over the (dry) bath.*  I’ll never feel the same about raspberry coulis.**  I’m taking you to A&E***, I said.

            No, said Peter.  I’m fine.  But thanks for coming down. 

            You are not fine, I said, having checked for things like pupils the same size and eyes tracking together.  He’s already demonstrated that he can speak in complete sentences, he’s got his dressing-gown on right-side-up and is walking around.  —The back of your head looks like someone hit it with a hammer.

            I’m fine, said Peter.  It’s just a graze.  Here, feel it.

            I am not touching anything, I said.  I know sod-all about concussion, but I do know that scalp wounds bleed like the levee breaking, and there’s a bathtub in the vicinity that supports this view.  I am taking you to A&E.†  

            We compromised.  Peter rang the out-of-office-hours emergency-doctor service—the one I got quite chummy with last spring—who of course immediately said, tell your wife to bring you in to A&E.  I want my breakfast, said Peter, sullenly:  you do not get between this man and his three and a half square meals a day.  So we compromised again.  I took very alarmed hellhounds†† for a quick placatory hurtle while Peter had breakfast.†††   I then bundled still very alarmed but no longer suffering internal urgencies hellhounds back to the cottage, and Peter and I set out for A&E.‡

            . . . Where they told us it would be at least two hours—Sunday morning after Saturday night, what can I tell you, although there were a lot of little kids who probably hadn’t been in bar brawls—and Peter sent me home. ‡‡  Hellhounds were not the least bit deflected/propitiated by a second abridged walk by a clearly distracted hellgoddess, but at least it lowered my guilt level somewhat—and when I drove back to the hospital, there was Peter sitting on a wall in the sunshine, dubiously pressing buttons on his mobile and failing to make Pooka ring, to tell me to come fetch him.

            Peter is officially fine.  They didn’t even put in any stitches.  But he’s about as sore as you’d expect, if you were 83 and had had two heavy falls in less than two days, and he’s written a letter to his doctor that I put through the clinic door on our afternoon hurtle, and his doctor is pretty good about making contact.‡‡‡  Falling down has already got old, and we would like some alternatives.

            Meanwhile, I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I go to bed early.  Gods help me, I’m supposed to have a voice lesson tomorrow. . . . 

* * *

* When we were first married, we used to shout, We be of one blood, thou and I! a lot.  —Speaking of blood.  But tripping over your own feet and into an empty bathtub is the sort of thing Peter and I do.  No, I only got a few bruises, last time I tried it.

** And I’ve never liked the modern art approach to culinary performance anyway.

*** ER 

† Let me tell you about living in a country with a national health service.  There are several crucial aspects to arguments with one’s bleeding spouse when you live in a country with a national health service, to wit: 

  1. It exists.
  2. It exists.
  3. It exists.
  4. One’s obstinate ratbag of a bleeding spouse cannot put forward the argument that you cannot afford to go to a doctor.
  5. One can, however, put forward the argument that if the bleeding spouse doesn’t come quietly to A&E, one will ring for an ambulance.  83-year-old man had a fall in the bath, blood everywhere?  I could have an ambulance here in minutes. ^
  6. It exists.  Did I mention that it EXISTS? 

^ Probably.  But response rate is pretty good in this area. 

†† Dogs are funny.  Warning:  too much information follows.  I’ve had about six cups of tea today, partly because I’m badly short of sleep^, partly in response to the horrible grey aftermath of a major adrenaline spike, and partly out of anxiety, something-to-do-with-my-hands, comfortable-familiar-ritual . . . and I wonder why I twitch at small noises . . . and as a result I’m peeing about every five minutes.  Every time I get out of my chair to go have another pee . . . hellhounds bounce out of their bed and follow me.  They know something’s up and they’re sure it’s not a good thing.  They’re right, of course.

^ There was the little matter of lying in the (full) bath to read another chapter last night 

††† Peter also phoned his second cousin once removed and apologised for not coming to the party.  And I phoned Niall and said I wasn’t going to make service ring. 

‡ You better believe the Mobile Knitting Unit came with me.  When things calm down a little I will have to introduce you to the new range of Mobile Knitting Units.  A Unit for Every Mobility!  —I also brought four books.^  And Pooka, of course, although the intricacies of learning a new handbell method were wildly beyond me today.^^ 

^ . . . waiting for the iPad 2 to be released in the UK . . . waiting . . . 

^^ It’s been a very good day for knitting.  I knew I wanted a nice friendly obsession that you can do sitting down in the warm and brain dead, if you’re careful about your choice of enterprise.  I can just about slash off a hellhound blanket square these days without—er—very noticeable error.  Don’t ask me about the error rate of Secret Project #1.  Siiiiigh.  

‡‡ He tried to tell me he’d take the bus home whereupon I threatened not to leave in the first place.  Marriage.  The art of compromise. 

‡‡‡ If he fails in this case I will hunt him down and suck the marrow out of his bones.

More . . . um . . . knitting


I’ve had my FIRST KNITTING PHONE CALL.  It was LOVELY.  Oh, and I can knit and listen, if I’m interested.  I don’t even have to stop to wave my hands around.*  I’m not sure that being interested is good for the knitting, however.  This second square** is emerging a lot lumpier than the first one. 

Lumpy. But still knitting.

And progress was halted for a while yesterday while I ripped the first few rows out.  Twice.  Despair was narrowly averted.  Well, more to the point, not knitting any more till Fiona comes back next month was narrowly averted.***  I am now grimly soldiering on†, but Fiona did teach me to count my stitches, so if I get to the end of a row and seem to have fifteen instead of fourteen, I choose the flimsiest of them and knit it firmly to its fellow next row.  Whereupon some other wisp of yarn will have got itself separated off . . .  And although I am being careful to finish a row before I put it down, there seems also to be some kind of flow to knitting row after row—or at least there is when you’re a beginner who still has to remember things like . . . uh, everything.  Every time I put it down and pick it back up again my yarn persona seems to have drifted slightly in some alarming new direction.  It’s only a hellhound blanket. 

            Since there was plenty of other stuff to tell you about on Monday I didn’t get to the knitting bag.   How cool is this.††  

Knitting bag. With honest-to-goodness knitting in it.

I was looking for a needle case:  I’m willing to risk the occasional snappage of a standard bamboo needle††† but I became globally paranoid with the arrival of my beautiful rose-ended needles and keeping them in a floppy tote bag with the yarn and the books‡ just wasn’t on.  So:  needle case.  Clearly I therefore also need more needles.  More beautiful needles that need to be kept in a needle case.   But while I was fondling needle cases‡‡ I saw this knitting bag.   I had to have it not because I urgently need a specific made-for-the-purpose bag to keep my yarn in, although dedicated kit is always attractive and desirable, but because of that totally cool little hole for the yarn to feed through.  It is pretty cool too, although the first thing that happened was that I couldn’t get the yarn through it and skinned the outer twist of the yarn back about eight inches which I then had to cut off and start again.  GAAAAAAH.  And what happens now is that the yarn jams inside the knitting bag instead of outside, but . . . it’s still cool, having a knitting bag.  With knitting in it.


            I am deranged.  This is not news.

 * * *

Hole. For the yarn to come through. If you do it right.

* So, do us flagrant gesturers do it just because we’re hopeless fidgets?  I always thought we were expressing our largeness of soul and passion for life.  Okay, and that we’re hopeless fidgets.    

** YES I AM STILL ONLY ON MY SECOND SQUARE.   There is way too much other nonsen—I mean, fascinating pursuits, not to mention hellhounds, speaking of pursuits, and a living to earn, in my life.   At the moment my evenings, already under permanent strain by the blog, are relentlessly further bent and confined by the double glinty-eyed demons of Handbells and Voice.  Last time I was having voice lessons there were still only three of us for Thursday handbells.  And I made some wild claim about learning my last pair, the 5-6, the other inside pair, for bob major this week.  Nobody told me the 5-6 were the worst.  Niall—who usually rings the 5-6, just sits there smiling.  They’re worse than the 3-4.  Waaah.

            Meanwhile I’m slightly frantically trying to remember what I used to know about singing and warm-up exercises and so on.  And trying not to remember how neurotic I am about anyone hearing me.^  Are you sure you can’t hear me after you go to bed? I have said (several times) to Peter.  I’m asleep three minutes after I lie down, he replies.  Not to worry.  —I’m also wondering when I used to find time for this. 

Needle case. With a more tactful selection of flowers. And more to the point, hardback. Like a book. Only with a zipper.

          Also meanwhile I have a friend who with press of career and life and so on has let her drawing and painting slip, and has been emailing me about how good it feels to have started it up again, and her experiments with painting media she hasn’t tried before.  I wrote back to her, sigh:  Drawing is probably the top of my list of things I’m Really Not Going to Get Back To This Life^^, and that forty and fifty years ago I had far more discernable talent for drawing than I did for anything musical^^^ . . . which doubtless explains why I’ve ended up plunging so heavily into music.

            My friend, who clearly falls into the glinty-eyed demon category, replied, and I quote:  You do know that drawing would take you no time at all to get back into, right?   Unlike music, which requires an instrument, a teacher, and unbroken slots of time, a drawing takes a pencil and a notebook and whatever 5-10 minutes you’ve got to spare here and there.  I see no reason why you shouldn’t do both.  Perhaps we should sketch together when next I visit.  Sleeping dogs are a good subject.

            Emphasis mine.  SPARE?  I just filled the 5-10 minute spare slot with knitting.  I also wish to point out, on the subject of only needing a notebook and a pencil, most people just open their mouths and sing, with their built-in instrument, if they feel like a little musical self-expression.  Noooooo, I get all excited and start taking voice lessons and harassing poor innocent music teachers into starting brand new singing groups.^^^^  I’m not good at casual.  Although it’s true, I’ve still got a sketchbook or two around somewhere. . . . 

Needle case cradling precious rosy needles. Which need friends.

^ Okay, the required number of New Arcadia Singers has just gone up again.

^^ Which puts it at the head of the queue for my next life

^^^ When I was very small I was one of those notorious children who sang everything on one note. 

^^^^ Large ones.

*** All the knitters out there are telling me chirpily that the books will make sense to me now.   Sure.  Like geometry makes sense to me because I can plant up a flower-bed.  Although there might be some frightening truth there about my gardening technique.

† New mantra:  It’s a hellhound blanket. It’s only a hellhound blanket.  The hellhounds won’t care.

†† This was the moment that Fiona mentions in her forum comment.  I turned away for a moment—just a moment—to look at needle cases.  She was moseying around the yarn shelves carrying one skein and looking mild and meditative and totally in control.  When I turned back again the clerk had just carolled a sum that would almost buy me a new car^ and Fiona has her arms around enough yarn to bomb New Arcadia.

^ Wolfgang’s yearly road test is coming up in about a fortnight and . . . he’s sixteen years old.  And they haven’t been an easy sixteen years.

††† Although Fiona says they’re tougher than you think.  Mmm.  Tougher than she thinks, maybe.  She’s smaller than I am.  She has no hellhounds.  She lives in only one house.^

^ Although she did fall off her chair for no discernable reason (also mentioned in the forum).  This is hopeful from a standpoint of the reliability of fellow klutzim reportage. 

‡ Increasing numbers of.  I’d better learn to understand them.  And the yarn?  Feh.  I’m going to develop a stash.  I’m not even trying to resist this inevitability.

‡‡ There was one that was more emphatically rosy than this one, but I discarded it regretfully because it had a lot of white fabric background.  I tend to think in terms of bloodstains for most things.  And those whacking great darning needles you use to sew up look absolutely like major blood-letting to me.  Although there’s another seventy-eight and a half squares (or so) before I have to think about this.  The needle case will have worn out by then.  Of course I’m not going to finish one project before I start on the next.  How would I develop my stash with that ridiculous attitude?

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When in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns. -- Raymond Chandler