August 28, 2014

Shadows is here!

The horror, the horror


The attic.  Moan.  The attic.  At Third House.  Moooooan.  The attic . . . moan.  August is almost gone and some time in September I have to bring the frelling backlist home from the last storage unit.  All forty-seven gazillion boxes of it.  And you can already hardly edge around* all the boxes of files** and of books*** that won’t fit† either downstairs or at the cottage††  Moan.



A few years ago I needed a plumber for my small bathroom. I warned the man at the other end of the phone line, “It’s a very small space.” He answered cheerfully, “I’ll send a very small plumber.” She was. And she fixed it. But she’s the only one I’ve ever seen.

For some reason, probably because I am still suffering post-house-move brain-blastedness†††, the reference to size makes me think of the stalwart young men who moved my piano, only one of the three of whom looked at all as if he might lift heavy things for a living.  I was also thinking of Plumbers I Have Known folding themselves up into spaces much too small for them . . . and the tendency among folded-up plumbers to demonstrate builder’s crack to an extreme degree.

All three of my piano movers were wearing the kind of low-slung trouserage prone to builder’s-crackage.  And as they all three bent down the first time to examine the basis of the situation I was treated to . . . a vast triple frontage‡ of LURID COLOURED BOXER SHORTS.  I was delighted.  I also nearly burst out laughing.


These blogs are sooooo making me not want to renovate our house, even though it’s desperately needed…

Oh come on.  It’s romantic having to put buckets out for the drips, and to lie snuggled up in bed listening to the mice playing polo in the walls, and to have tadpoles coming in through the kitchen tap (it’s only for a month or two in the spring, after all), and floorboards so aggressively wavy and unpredictable that if you’ve had a beer in the last twenty-four hours you’d better sleep in the barn (under a tarpaulin).  Where’s your sense of ADVENTURE?

Diane in MN

. . . As it’s a good and very efficient furnace, replacing it never came up: a good thing, as a new furnace would have been even spendier. I feel your pain.

Yes.  One of the—or rather the—clinching argument of Shiny New Plumber about replacing my current boiler is that by the time I bought the parts for the old one I’d be halfway to the new one . . . AND the old one is a piece of crap.  Since I only have Shiny New Plumber at all kind of far out on a limb of semi-unknown recommendations—one would rather hire a new plumber because one’s best friend has used him for twenty years and her entire family loves him including the goldfish, whom he replumbed on an emergency basis one Sunday afternoon when the fishtank exploded—I did look up the boiler he’s recommending and it’s number one by about twenty points in the WHICH? rating which is a good sign.  An even better sign will be if he knows how to put it in.  Mind you according to his web site he’s about third generation in a large family of plumbers . . . although he told me he is failing to interest his thirteen-year-old daughter in carrying on the family tradition.

And, speaking of small, and the state of the cottage‡‡, I hope the extra body he brings to assist him is svelte and bendy.   A thirteen-year-old daughter would be perfect.

But I really want my hot water.

Me too, big time, and so I NEVER TALK ABOUT IT because I don’t want to give the hot water heater any ideas, like thinking it’s reached retirement age. And I don’t know where that sentence came from; I never wrote it.

No, no, of course not, if your hot water heater comes round for confirmation I will stoutly deny everything.  My current object has only to last two more baths.  Please God and St Mermaid-of-the-Flowing-Waters.  I’ve had the uneasy sensation that it’s been getting a little whimsical since Shiny New Plumber condemned it.


Hot water is one of the critical components of civilisation, in my opinion.



Oof. At least you got a very nice individual plumber?

Well he’s certainly very jolly‡‡‡.  He also underwrites a seven-year guarantee on the new diamond-encrusted family member, which is popular.


Wait, stuck on the lavender comment. Was the lady referring to her houseplant as her pet, is there really a dog breed nicknamed lavender, or was she referring to the unmentionably enthusiastic “L” word dogs?

Not exactly.  She was having a little trouble with the English language and maybe Labradors are called lavenders in her mother tongue.  I’m not sure if she was doing that thing of using the word that almost sounds right and assuming it would do, or whether her accent was so strong that ‘Labrador’ was coming out ‘lavender’.  Whatever.

Speaking of which, I may have been losing respect for them before reading the blog because everyone around here has them (or chihuahuas or pit bulls, or mixes of all three), but your anecdotes certainly haven’t helped their case.

Labradors are slime.  Except, occasionally, when they aren’t.  There are two entirely different strains of them any more, at least in England:  the proper old working dog style, and there’s a young bitch of this variety who lives around the corner who is a complete sweetie and I’m happy to see her coming, and the modern SUV-shaped ugly stupid monster, owned by ugly stupid people who let it wreck your temper as well as your gentle, bewildered hellhounds’, and to crap all over the churchyard and possibly your driveway.  I FRELLING WELL HATE LABRADORS.  Except, occasionally, when I don’t.  As above.

Chihuahuas are not a plague around here.  Pit bulls are, but pit bulls, or their ilk, are a plague pretty much everywhere.  It’s what gets popular, you know?  Popular is the death knell for anything nice.

And on that cheerful note . . .

 * * *

* Especially not without hitting your head on one of those where-did-that-come-from interesting ceiling angles.

** Including things like the original manuscript of BEAUTY.  Eeeeeep.  Which I rediscover every few years.  I think it gets more startling every time.  Also the original, equally smudgy, cut-and-pasted, liberally white-outed^ SWORD and HERO.  As I recall OUTLAWS is the worst in this regard.  I still have grisly flashbacks of kneeling on the floor in my little house in Maine, cutting up chapters and paragraphs and trying to tape them together again before I forget what I’m doing, and feverishly scrawling cryptic bridges in the margins, hoping I’ll be able to smooth them out later.  Or possibly OUTLAWS was the worst.  I used to burn a lot of mss in my early typewriter days.  Not so much now:  everything becomes second sheets for the printer.^^  Except occasionally when I revert and do my cutting and pasting in hard copy.  Occasionally this is therapeutic.

And then I burn them.  Sometimes.  Sometimes I just scream and tear them up.  And stomp on them.

^ Have you seen that there are typewriter aps for your iPad?  WHYYYYYYY?

^^ It’s surprisingly confusing having your own words on the back of your freshly printed out draft pages.  Even when you know that’s an old story and you’re working on a new story.

*** Books?  Books?  Never say.  I amaze myself.

† My thirty-six million horse books, fiction and nonfiction.  My nineteen million nonfiction critters of the world books, excluding horses, including a lot of guidebooks and wild critter rescue and management books, the majority being North American, including dozens of standard Audubon and Peterson field guides and so on, but by no means exclusively these—the NA collection expanded exponentially when I was figuring out DRAGONHAVEN and some of these are very small press/audience and peculiar.  The Australian critter books go with the general Australian collection—which considering I’ve only ever spent about five weeks there total is pretty impressive.  But Australia is, you know, mad, as well as instantly irresistible.  There’s nothing else anything like it.^  Including all that let’s-evolve-in-interesting-off-the-wall-ways on a huge freaky water-bound continent fauna, and flora to go with ’em.  WHEEEEEEE.  Also the Aboriginal mythology—that is, what the white invaders managed to write down about it—is fascinating.  And then there’s my British guidebook collection.  Siiiiiigh.  I adore guidebooks.  I buy them everywhere I go.^^  And I have the impassable attic to prove it.  AND PETER’S AND MY BACKLIST STILL HAS TO GO UP THERE.

^ Except maybe New Zealand or Tasmania in a distant-cousin way but I haven’t been to either of these.

^^ Sometimes I buy the same one several times.  Mottisfont, for example.  I must have three or four.  Every time the National Trust trots out a new edition—which is to say there are three more paragraphs of the foreword to the foreword to the foreword about what they’ve been doing since the last edition—I buy it again.  Hey, sometimes there are new rose photos.

†† I was hacking through the between-covers verbiage at the cottage today and thinking gloomily of the 1,000,000,000 fresh, new books I have on various wish lists at various on line emporia, and I know I will eventually add far more of these to my shopping basket(s) than I will delete, which does not address the books bought by opening a three-dimensional door, with or without three-dimensional bell, crossing a three-dimensional threshold, and browsing three-dimensional books on 3D shelves and tables, overseen by a very realistic-ly dimensional clerk who may or may not have a clue about books^ but can run a credit card machine.

^ It fascinates me that in the increasingly, or do I mean decreasingly, tiny beleaguered cult world of the high street bookstore, you do get clerks who seem to be there only because the gift shop didn’t have a grunt-level staff opening.

††† Or, even more likely, current attic complete mental breakdown

‡ Or backage, if you prefer

‡‡ You are reading the footnotes in order, aren’t you?

‡‡‡ He also, in the grand British working-man tradition, calls me ‘luv’.  I know I’m supposed to object to this, but it always makes me fall down laughing.  Increasingly so as they get younger and younger as I get older and older.  I know I’m twice his age because he mentioned being thirty-two.^

^ Which means, to have a thirteen-year-old daughter, he started young.

Weather, myalgic encephalomyelitis and hellcritters


Glory hallelujah I hate this weather.  And if one more frelling dingdong weather person says, Oh, it’s going to be ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL SUMMER DAY, NOT A DROP OF RAIN IN SIGHT!!!, I am going to hunt them down and kill them.I really don’t get it, about the weather reporters.  Not counting people like me who comprehensively hate the heat** a meteorologist worth a third of his/her salary has to know that land needs rain.  Especially standard western agricultural landscape like southern England.  Endless blue lying-on-the-beach days*** are NOT GOOD FOR ANYONE.†

Okay, there is one semi-advantage to this weather.  It slows even the hellterror down so—especially because I’m too tired and stupid to be doing anything like, you know, writing PEG II or a few more episodes of KES— I’ve been taking the opportunity to oversee having the entire hellmob loose at once.  Usually the hellterror rampages about the place till I get tired of stripping her off the ceiling and prying small pieces of furniture or bits of hellhound out of her mouth, and then she goes back in her crate and, to do the little monster (and her pre-hellgoddess conditioning) credit, she settles down quickly (mostly) and goes to sleep.  She will stop mayheming when she’s told but this doesn’t often last . . . and also, she’s a hellterror.  To some extent they’re built this way.  And if she wants to hucklebutt around table, human, and hellhound legs followed by the end-swapping thing till I get dizzy watching her—and then flip over on her back and repeat her morning ritual††  . . . there’s really no reason she shouldn’t, so long as she (and the hellhounds) get that that’s the deal, and that jumping on the sofa or diving in the garbage is not part of the deal.  Also also, in my enfeebled state, nobody is getting as much hurtling as they’re accustomed to and while in this heat they don’t mind as much as they might, still, basic levels of stimulation should be maintained.†††  And, you know (she says cautiously) it seems to be working reasonably well. . . .

But I will be very, very, very, very glad when the weather persons stop putting the next rain off for at least another forty-eight hours AND THE WET STUFF POURS FROM THE SKY.‡ 

* * *

* There I go again, being a good Christian.

** And hate watering their 1,000,000,000 pot plants.  It’s almost enough to make me pave the frelling garden over.  Not quite.  Besides, if I had a garden-sized patio I’d just HAVE MORE POTTED PLANTS.^

^ After all I have no front garden at the cottage, just brick steps and tarmac, AND IT’S COVERED WITH POT PLANTS.+

+ It’s also looking pretty fabulous if I do say so myself.  My semi-detached neighbour, Phineas, said to me a day or two ago that he loves walking up the little hill past my house to his because he is ENGULFED in the smell of my flowers.  ::Beams::  That’s mostly the sweet peas.  I invariably buy the ones described as having the strongest scent.

*** ::shudder::

† Especially anyone having an unusually severe ME attack.  That BathBot sealant has absolutely done me in.^

^ And of course the hellhounds aren’t eating.  Of course.  I’m not eating very well, myself, but I’m eating, because I know I need food like landscape needs rain.  It’s true that your moral imperative quavers a little about tamping food down your hellhounds’ throats when you’re having to do something very similar to yourself, but.  I’d retweeted something a day or two ago, someone howling at the idiocy of some of the anti-food rhetoric in certain women’s magazines, that FOOD IS NECESSARY TO SURVIVE and I’d added that yes, I’d been thinking about this in the post-flu doldrums of having to force myself to eat.  Someone tweeted, did this make me more sympathetic about the hellhounds?  Basically . . . no.  They’re forcing me to take responsibility for keeping them alive.+  If it were emergency four-hourly dosings and blood transfusions and things, okay, yes, of course.  But this is just bad mental/physical wiring and stupidity and obstinacy and I’m sick to, you should forgive the term, death of it.++

They tend to get all apologetic when they won’t eat.  They flatten their ears and look at me mournfully.+++  That and £3 will buy me a cup of coffee, guys.  And I don’t drink coffee. 

+ The vet said, they don’t usually quite starve themselves to death.  I’m sure usually dogs don’t.  But these are food-indifferent sighthounds with something already wrong with their digestive functions, I know what happens if they don’t eat for twenty four hours and I don’t want to go there.

++ Also I’m coming out of it now, but it was interesting for about five days trying to figure out what I could feed myself that I would actually EAT.  If you really really really don’t want to eat something, your throat closes and if you try to swallow it anyway you’ll gag.  It was like arguing with a two year old in a tantrum.  Well, will you eat A—?  No.  Well, will you eat B—?  No.  C?  No.  D?  No.  Well, what WILL you eat?  I DON’T WANT TO EAT ANYTHING!  WAAAAAAAAAH!  And, you know, vegetables?  I who am about 80% rabbit, only taller and with a nastier temper?  Bleeeeeaugh.

I lost weight.  I didn’t like losing weight.  I’m thin enough, and at my age you lose weight you get haggard, and the sympathy you attract isn’t the good kind because you’re too old to get haggard interestingly.  Also, post-flu and with the ME lying on me like a very, very, very, very, very large hellterror~ and as a person of relatively advanced years I need not only calories I need good calories.  Arrrgh.

~ Hellhounds lie much more delicately.  The fact they weigh—speaking of weight—a third again as much as she does, each, is utterly beside the point.

++ And then a little while later they get all jolly and want to prance around and play.  That’s the fresh calories coursing through your systems, you morons. 

†† This usually involves ferocious growling for some reason.  If you check on her just to make sure nothing is troubling her she won’t stop growling, but the tail starts going lickety split.

††† And the hellterror is maniacally willing—nay, eager—for lap time even in this weather.  After she’s hucklebutted, destroyed a few toys, pestered Peter, rolled around on her back and growled, been yelled at a few times for garbage/sofa/hellhound misbehaviour, she starts trying to climb into my lap.  She can just about do it too, with those pogo-stick legs.  First time I thought she was kidding, so I fished her up, draped her over my legs, and waited for her to get down again.  Wrong.  Half an hour later she was dead asleep and I was sweating.

Hellhounds and I still lie on the sofa together.  But we leave gaps for air circulation.

‡ At which point we will find out if hellterrors can generalise from somewhat better behaviour mostly on account of the heat to somewhat better behaviour learnt while the heat was helping press home the lesson.^

^ I am of course naively assuming this welcome rain will be the kind of extra-welcome rain that drags the temperature down drastically as well as watering your garden.

Further anecdotes of an imperfect week*: relapse two


Before I went down with this lurgy I had booked Peter’s BathBot** for delivery and installation this past week.  This meant lying on the floor*** festooned with hellhounds for an hour last Monday† waiting for this large heavy box†† to arrive.

Friday was installation day.  I had a booking slot for noon to two.  I was beginning to feel a little bit alive again by Friday, so having chased the hellterror around the churchyard and locked her up with a fresh chew toy the hellhounds and I went up to Third House where I re-embarked on that tired old house-move cliché of attempting to get too many books on too few shelves. †††

It occurred to me that time was passing in a lacking-installer kind of way.

At quarter to two I rang customer service‡ and said, um, I had a date with a toolkit and a drill for noon to two and neither hide, hair nor drill-bit had I seen thus far?  Ooooh? she said.  She took my post code and said she’d ring the engineer and get back to me.

She didn’t.

At quarter past two I rang again‡‡ and this time, when some other woman took my post code she said, ooooh, there’s a message for you.  The message said:  the engineer has been delayed and will be with you at THREE THIRTY.

First I checked that they did, in fact, have Pooka’s correct number—Pooka, who had been lying open on the table for the last two and three quarters hours‡‡‡ so I would be ABSOLUTELY SURE to hear any incoming calls§.  Yes.  They read it back to me faultlessly.  THEN WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE TELL ME THE ENGINEER WAS DELAYED?  I said, thinking of the poor hellterror back at the cottage wondering where the rest of her hurtle (not to mention lunch) was.  I MIGHT HAVE ONE OR TWO OTHER THINGS I NEED TO DO TODAY.  ASIDE FROM THE SHEER INFURIATINGNESS OF HANGING AROUND WAITING FOR SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T ARRIVE.

Do you want to reschedule? said the woman in a placatory manner.


So I sprinted back to the cottage§§, pelted Pav around a bit§§§, hauled everyone down to the mews, produced lunch in which only Pav was interested, and the hellhounds and I were just about to leap into Wolfgang and return to Third House when Pooka started barking AND IT WAS THE ENGINEER WHO WAS TEN MINUTES EARLY.

::Snarling noises::

He viewed me a little warily, I think, but I wanted the frelling BathBot installed, didn’t I?  So I was as glacially polite as possible in this weather.  And then I went back to my books on shelves and he got on.#

He was there over two hours## and I was feeling rougher and rougher, but I put it down to FURY, lack of lunch, and trying to keep any of the discarded books on the discarded pile.###  And then he called me in to see what he’d done~ and as he said ‘the sealant will need a couple of hours to settle’ the smell hit me and I felt dizzy, queasy—well, queasier—and my returning sore throat started to swell.  FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING I’VE BEEN OFFGASSED.  If I’d actually been able to smell it before I was in the same room with it I might have had the sense to open some windows. . . . ~~

So I’m back on the sofa again.  Still.   Forever.  Not.  I hope.

And I feel like rubbish.


* * *

* or fortnight

** Since I’m about to be rude I will give them a belated alias

*** There are a few chairs at Third House but nothing to lie on, and chairs have mostly not been my best trick recently.

† An hour.  One hour.  Let me tell you about the wonders of DPD.  First you get an email from your seller, telling you that your parcel has been dispatched to DPD and what day it will arrive.^  And then on the day YOU WILL RECEIVE A TEXT WITH AT LEAST AN HOUR’S WARNING OF THE SINGLE HOUR YOU NEED TO WAIT IN FOR DELIVERY.  I adore DPD.

^ This for ordinary shopping like, ahem, say, dog food, when you haven’t booked a delivery day, as well as hideously expensive one-offs like BathBots when you have.

†† I’m not going to touch it, I said to Mr Delivery Man with his handcart.  You just plonk it down there, and thanks.

††† Episode 76.  Episodes 77 through 1,003 to come.

‡ Which was pretty much an event of its own since their 800 number apparently bounces from local office to local office to local office till—at last!—it finds someone not on a coffee break^ who could actually bear to pick up a ringing telephone and every time it bounces to the next office first you hear that little jerk in the ringing tone AND THEN YOU GET THE SAME FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING ROBOT VOICE ABOUT HOW CALLS MAY BE RECORDED FOR TRAINING PURPOSES AND YOUR CALL IS IMPORTANT TO THEM FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING DOODAH FRELLING.

^ Not in a good mood here.

‡‡ Undergoing the same lively and engaging experience as last time.

‡‡‡ Because I’d got there early poor eager fool that I was, so I wouldn’t miss anything.

§ Absorbed as I might be in the books-on-shelves question.  And its corollary, the I have here one hundred books and have space for fifty, therefore I must divest myself of fifty books conundrum.  And the sub-corollary which says you will comb carefully through your hundred books and divest yourself of . . . three.

§§ Which is a really bad idea when you’re struggling with the end of flu and the familiar recidivist weight of the ME.

§§§ And aside from flu and ME the weather for the past week SUCKS DEAD BEARS.  It is that gruesome hot-sticky-humid that makes you feel as if you had ME even if you don’t.  We’ve had several nights of thunderstorms but all they provide is son et lumiere.  There’ve been cloudbursts that wouldn’t fill a birdbath, and the water continues to hang in the air.

# Because the frelling Brits won’t allow ANYTHING ELECTRICAL in a bathroom you have to go through all these acrobatics any time you want . . . oh, a light switch installed, say, let alone a BathBot.  So he looked at the ground and made some sensible suggestions and then let me decide—this was something he was good at, as opposed to the ‘keeping abreast of scheduling problems’ thing—and we now have wiring holes in the airing cupboard and some curious tech in a corner of the dining room.  Feh.

## You can see how he could fall behind, because of having to fit everything but the Bot itself outside the bathroom and finding a remotely suitable location for this;  I briefly wondered about putting some of it through to the attic but decided that was just too Cyberiad.  We don’t give a lot of formal dinner parties anyway.

### The moment you turn your back, they hop back on the keepers pile.  This is another well-known house-move phenomenon.

~ And to give the chronologically careless ratbag his due, he had done an extremely neat and well-disguised job in the dining room.  The BathBot itself is the BathBot but it’s supposed to be, you know?

~~ In this weather it tends to be cooler inside than out so you don’t frivolously open windows.^

^ And while the well-being of the twit who stole six hours out of my day is perhaps not high on my list of priorities, and I’m prone to environmental allergies, which goes with the whole auto-immune ME-and-other-things spectrum, I do kind of wonder what breathing that stuff day after day is doing to him, however robust his constitution.

~~~ I know.  KES.  Some day.

I Don’t Want Another Week Like This One Please: Relapse


You may have to wait another day (or two) for how I got to yesterday, including the two days on the sofa in a coma, the vague realisation* Sunday afternoon that I hadn’t actually eaten anything in about forty-eight hours which might be contributing to my extreme lassitude, etc.**  The point is yesterday I was better.

It’s been hot this week and muggy with it*** but mostly it eases up and cools off in the evenings which have (mostly) been pretty fabulous in the long summer twilight.  So I was attempting to take patient hellhounds† for the first half-decent hurtle they’d had in about six days.  In a light-headed moment of madness I decided to take a look in on the rec grounds, where I never take hellhounds any more because of the other people’s dogs problem.  Lo and behold, fate appeared to be being unnaturally kind:  there was a game on, one of those sports involving men in shorts kicking a ball.††  Hurrah! I thought.  That means people will be keeping their dogs on leads to keep them off the (unfenced) playing field.

You see where this is going.

We were skirting the edge of the game, and I was paying more attention to not getting hit by a wild ball than by what might be coming up on us from the outside.  While the playing field is flat there’s a bunker type slope off it with a few trees marking the boundary and then a gradual hill in its original contours.  So you don’t necessarily see what’s bearing down (or up) on you till it’s much too late for evasive action.  Not that it would have done us any good in this case.

I turned around idly in time to see a brown-and-white torpedo, ahem, surging toward us.  CALL YOUR DOG! I shouted, thus destroying in three syllables what my cheese-grater, broken glass and drawn-dagger sore throat had begun to recover from.

There was no human in sight.

I’ve seen this dog around town with its people.  Joy.  It’s local.  It’s a half grown Staffie cross, I think, and it’s growing up big.  Unless there’s a line of (presumably show) Staffies with longer legs, this one’s got something else in there.  Mastodon possibly.  It’s not aggressive yet, but give it time.  It’s clearly growing up to be a thug.  It sailed into the hellhounds with none of that piffling puppy posturing and Chaos, who is ordinarily happy to play with the most bumptious puppy, was . . . well, at first he was only nonplussed.  I was more worried about Darkness, who is still pretty fragile†††.

A 12- or 13-year-old girl shambles up and makes a couple of ineffectual grabs at the Young Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.  Eventually, and this is now over a minute since this delightful meeting began, some idiot woman who has finally, I don’t know, got off her mobile phone and noticed her dog (and her daughter) have disappeared?, comes streaking up over the bank.  Where has she been?  And she proceeds to tell me that I should stand still so she can grab her dog.  YOU SHOULDN’T LET IT OFF THE LEAD TILL IT’S OBEDIENT! I shrieked, thus setting convalescence and the possibility of my ever singing again‡ back by six weeks or half a millennium.  She realizes, perhaps, that there is no reasoning with me—no, there isn’t—and attempts to concentrate on seizing her miscreant.

The whole episode took probably five minutes.  This is a long time when it involves an off-lead dog out to make as much mayhem as its adolescent brain can yet conceive.  The only bright spot—aside from the fact that it hasn’t fully grown into its obvious gift for malice—was that Darkness, probably because he was still drugged to the gills, was only unhappy, he wasn’t doing his full protective berserker thing thank you God.‡‡  Chaos, however, was increasingly freaked out, so Young Stay-Puft concentrated on him.

I didn’t think about it at the time—I was too busy trying to hang onto my distressed hellhounds in my own not too steady condition, and with this bloody woman telling me to keep still—but I’ve thought about it too much since.  It wasn’t just the torpedo approach or the lack of puppy love-me moves.  All the brute’s hair was up and its head was low and its look intent—and it singled out Chaos because he was providing more fun.  In six months it’s going to be eating small children.

I despair.  And after that adrenaline spike, I’ve been back on the sofa again—you were going to get the first somewhat-post flu bulletin‡‡‡ last night.

And my throat hurts.

* * *

* Very vague:  you don’t think well in a coma

** Also, at sixty-one, you don’t have the bounce you did ten or forty years ago.  You can just sleep—or coma—off a lot when you’re twenty, and then get up groggily at a strange hour, make a large platter of scrambled eggs, and be fine.  At sixty-one you need a little more continuing support.

*** Speaking of producers of lassitude

† Let me also say that the hellpack have been brilliant this week.  Granted hellhounds start hating the heat even sooner than I do but they do still like to get outside for a panting, oppressed and put-upon amble, and they’ve only been getting slow groping turns around the block for necessary purposes with me leaning on the trees and stopping at every bench—thank God there are benches both in the churchyard and the wide strip of green alongside the road to the mews.^  And the hellterror, bless her manic little heart, has been amazing.  Now, also granted that she is highly self motivated and you can pretty much just let her out of her crate and stand back while she caroms off the walls, but even overseeing her is exhausting when you’re only about .05% of normal.  I’m not even sure she got fed as often as usual.  But she was always glad to see me and did not take advantage when I tottered outdoors with her—she could have had me over if she’d wanted to—and went cheerfully back into her crate^^ and was quiet for hours without complaint^^^.  Like the man said, You can’t always get what you want/ But if you try sometimes well you just might find/  You get what you need.

^ I’ve had three dog minders, each one more disastrous than the last.  I really don’t want to start the countdown to catastrophe on a fourth.

^^ suitably bribed

^^^ Except of course when someone came to the front door or the wind through the garden door made a funny noise or the dishwasher went click-clump as it changed cycles or the book you had been pretending to read fell out of your nerveless hands to the floor or she objected to the music on the radio+ or . . . whatever.  She’s still a bull terrier.  However she is also a bull terrier who shuts up when requested.++

+ She was right about this.  It was Harrison Birtwhistle.  I managed to assume verticality long enough to turn it off.

++ After only a little grumbling.  Unless it’s clearly pirates and I’m just not taking the threat seriously enough.

†† I have no idea.  Although there are several men in shorts kicking balls sports, I believe.

†††  See:  I do not want another week like this one, and, you may have to wait for the details of how I got to yesterday.

‡ I am really missing singing.  It’s like missing a body part.

‡‡ Yes.  I wish I knew why God doesn’t solve the off-lead dog problem that has very nearly wrecked my pleasure in having dogs.  The hellhounds’ little peculiarity about food pales in comparison.

‡‡‡ Trust me there is plenty of material.

The announcement you’ve been dreading


. . . insofar as ‘dreading’ is a suitable word for anything that happens on a blog.  As I say (regularly) to Blogmom when I’ve screwed up yet again, ‘It’s a blog.  Nobody dies.’

Well, nobody dies, but this is the week when you will not get a KES for the foreseeable future.  This flaming sore throat is showing no sign whatsoever of folding its tents and silently stealing away.  And it’s wearing me down, you know?  It’s no worse than it was on Wednesday, it’s just no better, and the rest of me is following it down into the abyssal pit of lethargy* and brainlessness.**  And I’m not going to post a KES ep until I’ve had a brain available to look it over with first.  As I said last week, the Black Tower interpolations were a late addition, but once one thing has come a bit adrift other things tend to follow.  Story-telling entropy.  Or A Sound of Thunder.***

And you know one of the worst things about this extremely unpleasant lurgy?  Chocolate doesn’t taste good.   How am I supposed to comfort myself in my affliction when I am denied chocolate?

* * *

* Hurtling my two shifts of hellpack is interesting in a losing all your money in Las Vegas, your house just fell down or your beloved just ran off with a fireperson^ and what really hurts is that he/she took the dog^^ kind of way.  As I staggered after them I was thinking it could be worse.  The hellhounds are pretty frelling laid back at the moment possibly because they stopped eating again and there’s a limit to the amount of force feeding I have the morale/energy for, and at the moment I can’t talk to the vet because I can’t talk.  But they don’t require miles across rough country as they have been known to do when they were younger, possibly because at present their bellies are starting to stick to their backbones.^^^   And the hellterror . . . on a long extending lead, I can just mosey along while she hucklebutts her little cotton socks off . . . bringing me especially desirable, well-chewed, sticky and drooly sticks and plastic bottles occasionally so I don’t feel left out.  Gee.  Thanks.

I don’t actually get this sick very often.  I was lying on the floor with my head in the hellhound bed# last night listening to this: ##  and thinking, I remember lying on the floor with my head in the hellhound bed listening to that bloke read Paradise Lost on Radio Three and that was several years ago.  Uggggh.  Not nearly long ago enough, if you follow me.  I could have gone on not feeling this bloody for any number more years.

^ My mind seems to run on fire for some reason

^^ And dogs.  For some reason.

^^^ I know they don’t like the taste of the drug they’re on,  because back during some recent era when they were occasionally eating, if one of them missed their drug-laced dinner and the other one didn’t, I was liable to find the one who was facing a rerun of the drugged food trying to eat the drug-free final snack of the other.  They need to be on this *&^%$£””!!!!! drug, it’s working, but it hasn’t worked enough yet.  I am so frelled.

# I changed their bedding Wednesday night.  It’s all nice and clean+ and a good deal softer than the floor.


## This should be Hesperion XXI at the York Early Music Festival.  The BBC web site is such a nightmare I never trust it.  But if it isn’t, you can look it up on the schedule, Thursday night at 7:30 on Radio Three and it’s fabulous.  I think it’s one of those only available for seven days, so get it while it’s there.  I’m going to listen to it again.

** I was supposed to go Street Pastoring tonight.  Not a chance.  Whimper.  I keep wondering where I picked up this particular lurgy.  See previous entry about the downside of interaction with other human beings.  It could have been last Saturday on the street, for example.

*** I’m not a big fan of Wikipedia at the best of times.^  So it’s probably not surprising I feel that the article on ‘the butterfly effect’ might have mentioned the Bradbury story.  I know there’s a difference between the beating of butterfly wings creating major weather and the wrong guy getting elected because your big fat boot stepped on one back in the Cretaceous^^ but . . . the butterfly effect article even mentions that it’s a popular trope in SF&F.

^ And that meatloaf at the head having come out as rantingly, pathologically against homeopathy+ means I will stay not a big fan

+ Let me just say that anyone who thinks homeopathy is nonsense hasn’t done their homework=

= Self-prescribing is not ideal–see above about not posting a KES while I have no discernible brain–but I am walking.  Sometimes a lurgy just has your name on it.  And back in the days when I still believed in standard medicine I got prescribed an awful lot of garbage that did me significant harm.   Whatever this is, it’ll go away . . . eventually.

^^ How do we know it wasn’t the microorganisms in the soil?  Just because the butterfly is flashier?

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I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual. -- Virginia Woolf