Stale toast. And it wasn’t nice bread to begin with. Is what I feel like. Ugggggh. I’ve been praying [sic] if I can just get through this past weekend before the ME floors me—which it has been going to do, roughly since Ms OTP, but she’s had help—then I’ll try to disintegrate graciously. And I did—get through the weekend, I mean, and I even made it to my voice lesson yesterday*, although to the extent that this is Headquarters interfering with my life that may be because I stopped on the way to take that paperwork to the Street Pastors office,** and Headquarters seems very hot on this idea that I join the SPs.
But today . . . unnnh. I’m not so good at gracious but the disintegration went expeditiously. Well I got another inch of leg warmer knitted. Winter is coming.*** Which means I had maybe better start seaming up the six or eight leg warmers I’ve knitted since last year.
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* Started learning Voi Che Sapete last night. It’s mostly just learning the frelling Italian and slightly about what order the bits come in because I’ve listened to it at least 1,000,000,000 times and ought to know it off by heart first try. The drawback to this is similar to the one about having to sing after Nadia: I have Frederica von Stade and Joyce DiDonato and Cecilia Bartoli in my mind’s ear; following that lot is not good for morale.
** One of the unexpectedly enjoyable things about not having a dog minder any more is that I’ve been taking hellhounds along on Mondays to my voice lesson and stopping somewhere, usually on the way home, to have a hurtle in an unfamiliar area. The usual paranoias apply about other people’s dogs, but Nadia is backed up against some genuine countryside and there are some good footpaths.
The disadvantage to this system is that I can’t stop to do errands, at least not anywhere that doesn’t allow dogs, which unfortunately is most wheres. I am totally, meltdowningly deranged about leaving dogs in cars any more—I’ve told you that dog theft is up by pushing 300%, depending on who you read, since we had the whippets and used to leave them in the car in the shade with the windows cracked open. Ah the innocent days of yore. This meant that leaving hellhounds for the ten minutes necessary to have Maxine’s and my papers examined was TRAUMATIC. I was telling myself, it’s a church! It’s a church car park! I’m sure there are thieves Operating in the Area, but I doubt they bother much on a weekday afternoon when only a few beat-up staff vehicles are on show.^ As it happens there was a huge, extremely beat-up red van parked in a nice shady corner so I parked in its shadow, Wolfgang’s beat-up redness looking a lot like a strange extension, a sort of four-wheel version of a motorcycle and sidecar. There was a hedge behind us and with hellhounds lying down no one would even know they were there. Except for the staying lying down part. They popped up again as soon as I got out of the car leaving them behind.
The point however is that they were still there when I came back out of the church again at a dead run—smelling of the friendly resident dog, to the hellhounds’ great interest when I greeted them.^^ And there were no strange scratches around Wolfgang’s doorlock.^^^
^ Let ’em wait till Sundays when the car park fills up with well-off parishioners. I’ve been to this church; it has ’em.
^^ You could see the thought-bubble forming: we knew you were going off without us to have an interesting time.
^^^ And while I’m still officially on probation till I’ve survived, including that my teammates haven’t killed me, my first four SP patrols, I’ve got my posting: second Fridays. Us fresh post-trainees have also already been added to the mailing list—just received the first general request for a swap by someone who can’t do his usual scheduled night. Eeeep. It’s all getting increasingly real.
Since I haven’t been good for much else today+ I’ve been researching heated waistcoats, heated insoles, waterproof trousers, and . . . something to do with my hands that isn’t gloves and doesn’t involve keeping my hands in my pockets, which isn’t allowed.++ I’ll think about this again one of these days when I have a brain.
+ It’s a very good thing that the hellterror is self-exercising. She’s been out caroming off the walls most of the day. A few toys and the occasional interaction with a hellgoddess# or a hellhound and she’s happy, as well as in perpetual motion. How did anyone survive bull terrier ownership before crates were invented?
# Generally of the No you may not eat the dustpan/brush/All Star/walking boot/mini collapsing snow shovel/feather duster/hellhound blanket/rug/furniture variety of interaction.
++ We’re also required to wear only navy blue and black.# This had better not include All Stars or I’m in serious trouble.
# The official SP kit is all navy blue. And dead boring. Just by the way. I am a frivolous person. But you knew that.
*** I saw my first Brussels sprouts for sale today. Winter is here. I like Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts are reasons to view the coming of winter in a positive frame of mind.
My birthday, and the aquisitive aspect of Christmas, are also good things to remember while the days get shorter and shorter and shorter. I still haven’t chosen my SatNav. Peter has also said he’ll buy me a wristwatch—it is just a trifle tiresome having to fish Pooka out every time I want to know what time it is—but I haven’t seen The Wristwatch yet. I thought, briefly, that I had, flicking through a free magazine bundled with one that I actually, you know, buy. Oh, that’s a really pretty watch! I thought, and looked at the caption. £19,530. WHAT? What’s it made of, roc’s entrails? . . . The search continues.
Mavis was late coming back with Pav today. She takes the hellhounds out first and then Pav. Usually I’m not there—at the cottage—so I wouldn’t notice, but Oisin is on holiday so I was at home doing laundry and scowling at the rain gauge* and shovelling out the sitting room in preparation for handbells. I noticed.
It’s almost worth finding something to do in Dorset or Berkshire so I’m not home counting the minutes before Mavis brings my hellcritters back again. I don’t like cancelling her too often, even on days I don’t need her, because I think I lost my previous dog minder by not using her often or regularly enough and I don’t want this to happen with Mavis.**
My sense of time is mostly pretty rough. Bedtime was two hours ago?*** Oh. Gee. Unfortunately, however, I tend to know how long half an hour is since it’s a standard short hurtle. I don’t mean to turn on the Hurtle Timer on those occasions when I’m home when Mavis leaves, but it turns itself on. I don’t notice that either . . . unless she’s late.
She was nearly fifteen minutes late back. I had gone beyond hysteria and moved into eerie detached calm. I was just putting the finishing touches on my creative and exhaustive list of crises responses when she came burbling through the door saying, oh, I’m sorry we’re late, but we had to stop and talk to so many people who wanted to admire Pav!†
Ah. Oh, well, okay then.
Pav and I were making our way through the crowded pavements of New Arcadia with difficulty a few days ago, the difficulty in part due to Pav’s many fans, when an embroidered cushion for sale in a shop window caught my eye: I don’t do calm, it said. I laughed. I didn’t have time to stop but I went back a day or two later, critterless, and with my newly refurbished and eager for action credit card at the ready†† and asked about the pillow.
Now, aside from the fact that it was clearly meant for me, it’s one of those little rectangular dealies that are half the size of a standard square sofa cushion. I had one that had originally been Peter’s††† and which fit perfectly into the small of my back when I drove Wolfgang. I managed to lose it a few months ago—and I still don’t know how, even if, as I assume is what happened, I managed to brush it out of the car onto the ground, who is going to STEAL a small rather worn and beat up back pillow? But it wasn’t there when I wanted to drive home—and nothing works as well. So I went into the shop totally expecting to buy this shiny new one.
No. Wrong. It cost FORTY FIVE QUID. Are you frelling kidding me? So here’s my question. With my copious free time for handcrafts and all‡ I thought I’ll frelling make my own. In my remote youth, embroidery was my chosen eyestrain. But I mostly attacked clothing and pillow cases—this was also forty and fifty years ago in America. I’ve had a little google and I can’t find a plain, cotton canvas for preference, half-size cushion cover for embroidery purposes. It’s all frelling predesigned kits, or loose swatches of fabric. Does anyone out there reading this in the UK know of a source?
Did you realise you’ve got your pegs in back-to-front? Looks like they should be curved side outwards, to hold the skein better
Sigh. This didn’t occur to me till I was looking at the swift site again before I posted the link. Oh. Yes. I put them curved side in because I thought they looked prettier that way. Duuuuuh.
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* We were supposed to have RAIN last night. We got just about enough that since I’m a lazy slut I managed to convince myself I didn’t have to water the garden today. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow too. I’ll believe it when the hellhounds and I get caught in it. It’ll be the hellhounds because the hellterror doesn’t care.
** Although I may have to take out another mortgage to pay for her covering critter needs while I’m taking my Street Pastor training, which begins next Friday. Supposing that my potential ride and I can stop playing tech-tag^ and figure out if it’s going to work. Oh God I have to get in practise for getting up in the morning. EARLY in the morning. Moan. Am I sure this is worth it?^^
^ Choose your comm gadget
^^ God: Yes. Focus on the fact of having a legitimate reason to stay up till four or five (or six) o’clock in the morning once a month.
*** . . . You see my problem
† I picked her up again today when we were out this morning merely because there were a few too many other critters being hurtled in the immediate vicinity and I didn’t want any setbacks to the recovery of her positive attitude. As we strode past someone with a cocker spaniel, the woman said, Oh, is that Iris? No it’s not frelling Iris, Iris is three times Pav’s size, white, and has a head like the back end of a bus. All bull terriers do not look alike. Grrrr.
†† I don’t think I described in vivid detail what happened in the aftermath of my abortive visit to the yarn store with Fiona the other week. I finally got someone on the phone at the credit card company. He informed me blandly that my direct debit instructions hadn’t gone through till the day after they’d tried to pay themselves and since they wouldn’t try to collect again till next month they’d put a block on the card till I came up with some alternative method of payment. Or until next month happened. THEY COULDN’T HAVE FRELLING TOLD ME THIS? THEY COULDN’T HAVE, FOR EXAMPLE, SENT ME AN EMAIL SAYING THAT MY DIRECT DEBIT WOULD NOT BE IN PLACE TILL NEXT MONTH AND UNLESS I PAID THEM SOME OTHER HOW THE CARD WOULDN’T WORK? THEY COULDN’T HAVE TOLD ME THERE WAS A PROBLEM?
††† A gift from his fond wife. It said: I only play bridge on days ending with y.
‡ It was last Tuesday week that Fiona and I had our latest adventure, wasn’t it? That night I was idly cruising the web for the yarn I hadn’t bought and . . . oops . . . found a cheap final-three-skeins clearance for the one whose absence I was mourning worse. FRELL. One of the iPad’s features is that she saves any and all tabs open on the web when you close down—no muss, no fuss, no bother. So I’ve just left that page open and every time I fire up Astarte I refresh that page. I’ve been refreshing that page for eleven days.
Today I finally said, oh fumblebunny this for a lark, and BOUGHT THE THRICE BLASTED THREE SKEINS.^
^ Meanwhile . . . I’ve now attempted to knit the rose facecloth/potholder/thingy for the third time. It’s still a parallelogram. A sort of wobbly parallelogram. I’m going to have start a new skein. I don’t think this one is going to survive being frogged again.
It looks like a terrifyingly expensive green [sic: my poor camera is once again contending with bad indoor light] suede bag I bought for like a fifth of full price because it was a floor sample but that I’ve always been afraid to use as a handbag. You know, put stuff in it that might STAIN or GOUDGE it? Put it down casually on the FLOOR?
STOP LOOKING AHEAD. That’s cheating. And yes, anyone who was at Forbidden Planet one evening nearly two years ago when someone was wearing a black leather miniskirt on a dare should recognise that pink knitted bag.
. . . That’s a yarn winding thingy to those of you who don’t. It’s also a nostepinne but I bottled out on the nostepinne. One thing at a time. Besides, I can probably get another photo blog out of my first nostepinne attempt.
After I had my last nervous breakdown winding yarn by hand I got serious about looking for a swift. But I wanted one that sat rather than clamped, and I wanted one made out of wood like a proper Lost Country Craft tool. That’s my piano bench it’s sitting on, by the way. And that odd little blue scrap on the floor to the left is a token of the hellterror’s affection.
The yarn is Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend wildflower. http://www.deramores.com/manos-del-uruguay-silk-blend-50g Wildflower is third up from the bottom in the left hand column.
I will spare you a graphic description of the several minutes of vivid language while I untied the blasted hank. Nice yarn makers tie their skeins off with bits of waste yarn, so you can just frelling cut them. These bozos use the live end to wind through and around the hank at several places, twisted into secret Masonic knots that require needle-tipped fingers and a graduate degree in physics to untangle.
We pause here a moment to contemplate the joy that is WordPress, that piece of insufficiently composted crap. I’ve been saving-draft like anything, composing this post, because I know it’ll frell me if it can, and if it can’t, it will anyway. Which it has just done. I wanted to get to bed tonight.
. . . I was trying to say something about the fabulousness of not getting enmeshed in your half-wound skein when the invisible cat squiggles it into anarchy between one eye-blink and the next. Also that I don’t know if this is a particularly fabulous swift or if fabulousness is the basic swiftian nature: but this one is very nice indeed. If you want this exact swift or one of its cousins, I bought it here: http://www.sunflowerswifts.co.uk/ My timing is not great, the home page says they’re closed till the end of September. But you can still poke around and admire what will be on offer again in a few weeks. There are also some rather more descriptive photos of this swift.
And now, rather later than planned, I am going to bed. I may knit a little to calm down. . . .
* * *
* Well that was the plan anyway.
You might want to disinfect your computer after you read tonight’s blog. Clearly I am a Gremlin Plague Vector* and you can’t be too careful.
The day began badly as it so often does by not getting to sleep last night/this morning. Circumstances probably did assist in conspiring because Fiona and I had some time ago rescheduled to have a Yarn Adventure today—we’d had to cancel during the Extreme Streaming stage a couple of months back and I was not going to cancel again. Meanwhile however the Bank Bust exploded a fortnight or something ago and I’m getting nowhere fast and meanwhile I’m also getting more and more wound up about it** as I am stonewalled by the bank while letters are still coming in from people who didn’t get paid.*** I should have gone into the bank again this morning and demanded a HUMAN BEING TO TALK TO . . . after I hand delivered my letter of complaint to the branch manager the beginning of last week and was told they didn’t have a branch manager and that my letter would be forwarded to the Complaints Department.
On Friday . . . I got a phone call from someone with a heavy non-English accent who clearly didn’t know a thing but what was in front of him on his computer screen and who asked me a lot of ‘security’ questions that I didn’t want to answer over the phone to—who was this person? He could be some joker with his ear to the virtual wire for people in bank trouble who are likely not to be thinking too clearly and are only too anxious to be helped. So, since I wasn’t cooperating, he told me he would send me questions by post next Tuesday. Which would be today. Whatever he’s sending me only started on its journey today.† Which means that absolutely nothing has happened so far except that my bank doesn’t give a sh*t. Oh yes, and the overseas call centre racket? My bank has made a great fuss a little while ago about how its customer service departments are all in the UK. Okay, my guy could have been born in Manchester and be working in London—if there’s a large ethnic population around you presumably you may grow up and retain your parents’ and grandparents’ speech patterns—but that’s not the first thing you think of when someone who sounds like he’s calling from an overseas call centre, complete with semi-subdued racket of other people and other computers in the background, calls you.
It was Bank Holiday Monday yesterday. Today I should have been first in the queue at my local managerless branch office. But I didn’t sleep last night and I was staggering around trying to get my eyes unstuck and the hellpack hurtled because Fiona and I were going to make what passes in our case for an early start and not only did I not get to the bank but I broke my favourite jar†† instead of putting freshly roasted mixed nuts, heavy on the cashews and Brazil nuts, in it which is what I meant to be doing, and spent twenty minutes sweeping up broken glass, patting around for the bits I missed, bleeding, and worrying about the bits I had still missed that the hellcritters would find.
What with one thing and another Fiona and I got off about an hour late. Then things seemed to go right for a while: we didn’t get lost on the way to the yarn shop and we settled in for the duration and I hadn’t even noticed what time it had got to be till Fiona pointed out the shop was closing in ten minutes. So I took my really very conservative purchases, or would-be purchases, up to the counter.
While I’m waiting for my financial life to calm down I am only using one credit card. A brand shiny new one, and attached by direct debit to the new account that is causing all the problems—but which should have all my money in it. I’m still a little twitchy about having learnt the PIN number on the new card. But the PIN went through fine.
The card was declined.
Robin goes into grey slightly hallucinatory dissociative shock. †††
We drove home in a somewhat subdued mood. Over Peter’s roast chicken I tried the card again, on line.‡
It was declined again.
The customer service phone number on the card wasted five minutes of my time jumping me through robot menu hoops before they decided THE OFFICE HAD CLOSED FORTY FIVE MINUTES AGO.
And the hellhounds didn’t eat supper.
I don’t think I’m getting much sleep tonight either.
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* Fiona’s coinage [so to speak]. She was trying to blame it on her. Gallant but mistaken.
** This might just conceivably have some input to the way the ME is behaving lately.
*** Most of these are automatic about stuff I think I have already dealt with and have either been switched or resubmitted, but every one of them still freaks me out big time and requires another phone call . . . which may or may not be (eventually) answered by a human being I can talk to and who may be able to look my details up and reassure me that the changes have gone through. But . . . I don’t yet know if what I’ve changed is going to work since most of the regular stuff—utilities and so on—is only presented once a month and it hasn’t been another month yet. Not to mention the fines I will be liable for for missing a payment. Which I want the sodding bank to reimburse.
† This is of course assuming he is legit.
†† Thirty or forty years old and from Maine. It’s not like I’m going to go on line and find a replacement straight off.
††† Fiona offered to put it on her card and we could sort it out later but I was way too freaked out. Although I admit I’m still thinking about those orphan skeins of Manos del Uruguay and Artesano. They had ‘cowl’ written all over them. Two cowls. One per skein. Sigh. And cheap leg warmer yarn on sale. . . .
‡ Ordering small folding scissors. Why doesn’t every yarn store/yarn site in existence have these as standard equipment? Tape measure, stitch counter, scissors that don’t stab holes in your project bag. I found these on a cross stitch site.
I have, as regular readers know, been making another of my ATTEMPTS to cut down on the ridiculous amount of stuff I keep trying to jam into my life and the twenty-four crummy little hours in an entire day.* Well I’m declaring Wednesday to be an Official Short Blog Day, because it’s the only regular double-drama weekday: the matinee is the silent prayer service at St Margaret’s with Aloysius** and the evening performance is tower practise at Forza.*** This week however we also have a major invasion of family arriving on Friday so I may exercise my new short-blog skills again soon.†
But for tonight I will leave you with a pretty amazing advance review of SHADOWS from a blogger who tweeted the link:
And yes, I think Hix is pretty cute too. . . . ††
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* I’m not even counting cruising on-line yarn sales and cross-referencing with Ravelry about both the yarn and what I might be able to do with it. I needed another time-waster. I don’t fritter away enough time reading book reviews and sample chapters and making lists. The latest variation on that theme is sheet music.
** Although he and I are the only ones sitting on the floor on zafus. It fascinates me who with advancing age and ME has an increasing number and amount of stupid aches and pains that I can sit cross-legged and more or less motionless for more than forty-seven seconds. I can’t sit on a chair without fidgeting, but plop me down on my meditation or, in this case, prayer cushion and I subside into a surprisingly convincing facsimile of calm. Unfortunately this goes away again as soon as I stand up, and I suspect trying to introduce a laptop to the situation would not go well.
Those old Zen masters were clearly onto something about human anatomy however. If any of you want to try it, I bought mine—on Aloysius’ recommendation—from http://bluebanyan.co.uk/meditation-cushions.html Mine is the bog-standard buckwheat zafu.
*** Not too bad, thank you. But I went to the twice-a-month additional practise for the slow and dim at Fustian last night and was told to go home and learn the calls for Cambridge minor. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I can’t ring a plain course reliably. They seem to think learning what happens in a touch is going to help. Good ringers have no clue what it’s like being a not good ringer.
† I’m also really enjoying Guest Post Sundays. I have two left in the queue and then. . . . Any of you who have either promised guest posts and then run away apparently forever, or who are contemplating all those fabulous photos you took of the Inca trail and dawn over Machu Picchu and wondering what you want to do with them . . . ahem. Allow me to make you feel welcome and desirable.
†† And yes—sigh—I’m aware that my ‘slow to get going’ is one of the reasons I’m not a fabulous best seller and not worrying about money all the time. But I don’t seem to be able to help it. It’s the way my stories go. Aggravated, I’m sure, by the fact that I tend to like this approach in other people’s books. The story is the story, but it is inevitably shaped and coloured by you the teller. Which is one of the things that keeps us tellers awake at night.