I realise this is the second Pav the Heroine story in three days*, but sometimes it happens like that. Also it’s to do with her age**: she’s starting to become a little more reliable about stuff—a LITTLE—or a little more responsive to me as mistress of the known universe or at least the corner that concerns HER and so I’m . . . frelling risking it a little more because life is short and being in a constant state of readiness for the worst is time-consuming and dead boring—and expecting the worst eventually becomes depressing. Six months ago I’d’ve probably gone back and picked her up and carried her past the World Order Threatening Grey Balloons because I wouldn’t have thought my chances of persuading her to come on her own recognizance were worth the time and the likelihood of failure.
When I’m letting her out the front door at the mews to have a pee I don’t bother to put her harness and lead on any more; she likes indoors, indoors has hellhounds and fooooood and toys*** and she’s happy to come in again. I do look around before I let her out, in case of innocent neighbours, exciting delivery vehicles, etc.
This afternoon I looked out. Nothing. I opened the door and a small furry torpedo shot past me . . .
At the moment that two large, off lead Labradors† wandered across the open archway into the mews.
Pav of course instantly set off toward the archway, head and tail up, at full prance. I am not a fluent reader of dog body language, but I would have said she was not expecting trouble but was not going to cringe away from it if it addressed her.
And I’m out there in just my shirt and jeans, because we’re only out for a minute. I carry a little plastic bag of emergency kibble and Thrilling Canine Treats††† in my raincoat [sic] pocket. Not in my jeans.‡
Pav! I call. And I can hear the panic in my voice. If I can, she can too.
One of the Labs notices us. It stops. It raises its tail to the ‘alert’ position. Noooooooooo.
Pav! I shout. Sit! —All you dog people will know this. You have a much greater chance of your escaping hellcritter sitting than turning around, away from the thing it is going toward, and coming back to you, if you foolhardily attempt a recall. If it sits, you can saunter gently up to it, you hope, and GRAB IT.
Pav keeps going. The Lab’s tail goes up another notch or two. I’m already seeing the headlines in the local newspaper: American Woman and Her Ten Stone‡‡ Rabid Pit Bull Attack Perfectly Behaved, Kind to Its Mother Local Labrador. ‡‡‡
PAV! I shriek for the third time.§ SIT!!!
And . . . she stops. She looks over her shoulder at me. She TURNS AROUND, trots back TOWARD ME and SITS. Wagging her tail.
Gibble. Gibble gibble gibble gibble gibble.
* * *
* It’s actually the third Pav the Heroine story in three days but I can’t think how to tell the third one on a public blog. Let’s just say that she was uncharacteristically polite to someone it was extremely advisable, not to say critical, that she be polite to.
** Hellhounds were a little over a year old when I started this blog. Gah. How time flies whether you’re having fun or not, as a friend recently said. However hellhounds have just eaten their dinner immediately and with no fuss at all so the world is bright for the next several hours till I have to feed them supper. Sigh. I’m sure some of my insomniac problems are a result of the throbbing blood-pressure headaches attendant on non-supper-eating hellhounds but I need that third meal for the opportunity to tamp a little more food into them and breakfast is spectacularly a lost cause. I might never get out of bed at all if the prospect included feeding hellhounds breakfast.^ It’s funny, sort of, that they’re so jealous of anything the hellterror is getting that they think they aren’t getting—they don’t want to eat it, you understand, just that they don’t think she should be allowed to eat it either—except at breakfast. At breakfast—and Pav roars out her crate I HAVEN’T EATEN ANYTHING IN OVER SIX HOURS. I’M STARVING TO DEATH. WHERE’S BREAKFAST?—you can see hellhounds turning away and delicately pressing metaphorical handkerchiefs to their noses in a gesture that would not disgrace the Duke of Avon.
^ Although since I take Astarte—with her Kindle app, and a live credit card registered on amazon—to bed with me, who needs to get up?
*** This category includes Peter
† Mrs Redboots
I think bulldozer-headed Labrafrellingdors are a Race Apart. Just not far enough.
Noooooooo – they’re LOVELY! Best dogs in the universe! Intelligent, obedient, loving…. what’s not to like?
Well, I’m not going to agree that they’re the best dogs in the universe, but you mistake me. I’m not damning all Labs, just the huge stupid—um, bulldozer-headed—ones which invariably belong to people who don’t have a clue or they’d have bought a real Lab. The old-fashioned working-style Labs are still around and while occasionally they too are rowdy fractious pains in the patootie, generally the old-fashioned ones have manners because they belong to people who teach their dogs manners. I’ve even known one or two this-kind of Lab I’d have been happy to have stretched out on my sofa.
But I think it’s true I’m more drawn to the hard-graft dogs. Neither sighthounds nor bull terriers are terribly interested in the finer points of the human ideas of training. If I were going to get a super-trainable dog it would probably still be a border collie . . . because I like the manic.^ Gun dog breeds tend to be the exact opposite of manic. You don’t see many Labs who’ve been taught to dance. . . . Although Pav’s latest somewhat-on-command trick is standing on her hind legs and she’s good enough at it she could probably learn to dance if I put the time (and the fooooooood) into it.
^ Possibly not all border collies are manic. All the ones I’ve known are, however, including the ones who can speak seven languages and have advanced degrees in quantum physics.
†† These dogs are a *&^%$£”!!!!! sore point. They belong to regular visitors—a bit like me, then—and while they aren’t exactly thrown out and left to their own devices, their people don’t stand there and watch them the way I do mine. And when there is unpicked up dog crap in the mews courtyard, it is not my dogs who are responsible. Or I who am irresponsible.
††† None of which work on the hellhounds. Just by the way.
‡ Clearly I should start carrying Emergency Hellterror Retrieval Rations in my jeans pocket too.
‡‡ A stone is fourteen pounds. I have no idea why. Pav, who is a mini bull terrier, not a pit bull, weighs a little over two stone.
‡‡‡ Who never ever craps in inappropriate places. Its people are not included in the attack, by the way, because they are nowhere around.
§ ‘Never repeat a command. You are teaching your dog to ignore you.’
And no jury would convict me.
I still feel like death on stale toast* and while I was up by nine this morning two hours later I was still having trouble trying to figure out how to get out of my dressing gown and into my jeans. So I rang Peter to tell him that I was, once again, going to be late for taking him shopping.
He didn’t answer.
I muttered to myself a little but he’d call back in a few minutes. I returned to figuring out which part of my jeans went over my shoulders.
He didn’t ring back.
I’d got my jeans on by this time, having wasted a certain amount of time shoving everything that had fallen out back into the pockets**. I rang him again.
He didn’t answer again.
At this point I was getting worried. Very worried. In fact VERY worried. I’m usually pretty good in emergencies but it takes me a while to find the ‘adrenaline’ button when the ME is weighing on me this heavily. I decided to whip the hellhounds round the churchyard for immediate-relief purposes—Pav goes out first thing—and then I could haul everyone down to the mews and find out what was going on.
I rang Peter a third time. He still didn’t answer.
As I loaded up Wolfgang I knew I was heading for a ring-the-ambulance situation. The only question was how bad it was. He might have got up for a pee ten minutes after I left last night, had a fall, and spent the last twelve hours wedged against the bathroom door. He could have hit his head and bled out. . . .
I was also sort of testing my own spongy boundaries: yes I could get him to A&E myself if the ambulance was going to take too long, but I was also going to pay for this later. The ME is a usurer, and there are no regulatory bodies it listens to.
The mews front door was unlocked when I arrived. This is a tentatively good sign: whatever happened had happened after he got up this morning and got dressed. He has not spent twelve hours wedged against the bathroom door. Probably.
I burst in. And there was Peter standing in the middle of the kitchen floor, holding his knapsack and looking a little startled at my precipitate arrival.
He had decided to walk into town and do his own shopping—for the first time today since his stroke, so yaay, hurrah blah blah blah etc —without telling me.
I nearly freaking killed him.
* * *
* Although I’ve started learning A Bay in Anglesey, another of the Five Betjeman Songs by Madeline Dring, she of the Nightclub Proprietress^. I’ve been hiding in other languages, the last few weeks. With the occasional exception like Che Faro,^^ which is very nearly tattooed on my heart, even when I know the English translation pretty well it’s easier to stay safely aloof when it’s in Italian or German.
^ Which in my present state of negligible energy and mood to match I’m not going to touch with a barge pole (‘ . . . But I’m dying now and done for, What on earth was all the fun for? I am ill and old and terrified and tight’) except that I found myself singing it to the hellhounds today. They were fine. Dunno about the neighbours.
This is one of those base-line WHY AM I BOTHERING?? performances for me. I’ve posted it here before. But speaking of things I’ve posted here before, I’ve posted the why before here too, which is that grappling with a beloved piece of music as a performer transforms your relationship with it, I mean TRANSFORMS. It’s like going from two dimensions to three. Or eleven. It’s worth it in a Where There Is Joy There Is Paaaaain kind of way . . . but it also serves to make me crazy, because I am in such need of extra things to be made crazy by, that schools keep calling stuff like art and music optional or superfluous or frivolous. We should be taught/given/forced into some kind of personal engagement with music the way we’re taught/given/forced into relationship with the alphabet and with (shudder) numbers. Do we want two-dimensional humans or eleven-dimensional humans?+
Also, just how does Janet Baker sing ‘ben’ in that gorgeous open way??? —This is at the very end when she’s rising to her final despair. The lyric is pretty simple and you keep repeating most of it, including ‘where will I go without my beloved’. But it’s only at the end that you’re expected to soar up to ‘Dove andro senza il mio ben’. It’s only a frelling F, but try singing ‘ben’ on a high F without sounding like a goat overdue to be milked, standing at the gate, going behn. Behn. Behn. Eff eff eff eff. Both Blondel and Nadia have told me to bag the syllable and concentrate on getting a nice full throbbing F.++ But some day I’m going to get ‘ben’ back in there. On a good day I almost can, not that I’m ever going to sound like Janet Baker. But if you listen very closely you’ll notice that even Baker is cheating a little: her high-F ‘ben’ is a lot more like ‘bain’+++ than it is ‘ben’. It becomes ‘ben’ again when she drops down to C.
Now all I have to do is get the ‘pre’ back onto the high G in Un moto di gioja. At the moment I’m just singing pah. Mozart is usually pretty singer-friendly but this may be one of the pieces he wrote for a friend he wanted to tease. For this music, you put up with the teasing. Pah.
+ It’s a new term and All Change. I usually have my voice lesson after Boris, the baritone who could have been professional and decided to be a doctor instead. He’s pretty intimidating. HE’S VERY FRELLING INTIMIDATING. Very nice man but VERY INTIMIDATING SINGER. I’ve told Nadia she’s not allowed to schedule him right after me, when he might HEAR. ME. She thinks I’m having my little joke.# But yesterday I was right after one of her new beginners. Yet another woman probably nearly as old as I am deciding that if she’s ever going to do it the time is now . . . and taking voice lessons. She’s not as bad as I was two years ago but listening to her sure brings it all back, that little tight thin giving-nothing-away sound. Oh my. Honey, wait’ll the first time you open your mouth and a REAL NOISE comes out. You’ll scare yourself silly.
# Although she’s afraid I’m not having my little joke. Yep. I’m not.
++ Thus sounding more like a sheep who has lost her lamb. BAAAA. BAAAA.
+++ Nadia says, think ‘bairn’ and leave the ‘r’ out.
** This is a seriously hellterror-compromised pair of jeans so a certain amount of creativity may be necessary in tying them on.
Since SP teams are a minimum of three, we were going to have to meet up before I peeled* off to my second commitment.** We gathered at the massive great front of Forza and discovered . . . that the door into the close was locked. The door to the bell tower is off the close. Oh. Hmm.
I tried it two or three times, the way you do, feeling a fool. It went on being locked. Emphatically. I don’t know that Forza’s big outside doors are original—since the first abbey was knocked down by William the Conqueror so his bishops could put up something new and flashy, I doubt it. But they’re built to look like they were salvaged when the rest of the old abbey went under the wrecking ball equivalent in the late eleventh century and rehung in the new build for that quaint traditional look. You kind of expect ‘Aethelstan was here’ to be carved into the lintel.
I noticed a group of bellringers striding purposefully toward us. Er, I said, the door’s locked. We know, said Conall. So are all the other doors.
I think most of the other SPs were trying not to fall into fits of helpless giggles. Eventually there was a rumour that the farthest-away and most inconvenient close door was still open, so five SPs went one way and I hared off after the other bellringers, struggling out of my coat and hat as I went. Sic. We’re not supposed to wear our SP gear, flamboyantly logo’d as it is, anywhere or any time under any conditions but when we’re on the beat with our team being Street Pastors. I knew this, and when the possibility had first come up of ringing and pastoring I’d remembered that I was going to have to have something to drape over my coat, but I’ve been so focussed both on Peter and on the fact that I had not to focus on Peter while I was SPing***, that this little detail had kind of dropped out. Fortunately it was not raining. I turned my coat inside out and . . . it’s a big heavy bulky furry thing, bless it, and it didn’t want to turn inside out and there was no question of my putting it back on that way, so I stumbled along carrying a small Navy-blue polar bear cub in my arms.
The rumour was true and we got in through the Strait of Gibraltar gate, picking up hangers-on as we went, since on New Year’s Eve traditionally a lot of people with more sense the rest of the year† struggle up all those stairs to watch us ring in the new year.
We attempted, with mixed results, to scamper up all those stairs. All. Those. Stairs. I haven’t been up them in a while and they’ve got longer again. And then our first hasty pull-off was somewhat marred by the fact that my bell was frelling locked and wouldn’t.†† Meanwhile more and more people were coming up to watch us so we stood around whistling little tunes with our hands in our pockets pretending that this is all part of the New Year’s Eve tradition while someone belted up that last flight of stairs to the belfry and unlocked my bell.
We did finally ring. And I thought about how sad I’d feel if I were out on the street listening instead of in the bell tower trying to tell myself that I haven’t forgotten everything, and mere rounds on eighty-six or four hundred and twelve bells is no big deal even if you do have to hold up and wait about ten minutes before it’s your turn again while everyone else rings—especially those last few bells which range in size and weight from Thomas the Tank Engine through nuclear submarine to aircraft carrier. Bong. The mayor was there. The bishop was there. The Folies Bergere were there. No no I made that up. Although they might have been. It was a frelling crush. And I’ve told you before the ringing chamber is the size of a ballroom. Two ballrooms.
It was a real crush going back down those stairs again. Anorexic Chihuahuas have been known to have claustrophobia on that final staircase. I’d tried to blitz for the head of the queue and I almost made it. But immediately ahead of me were a family consisting of a tall gentleman in a very long coat whose tails trailed up the stairs behind him a remarkably long way, and ahead of him two frelling women who . . . really I have no idea what they were doing, barring whining. Look, you can SEE what the stairs are like, if you are helpless screaming cows, why didn’t you change your minds and go to a nice ground-level party somewhere? Oh, right, you don’t have minds. I am not joking that the rest of us were standing at the top for a good two or three minutes while Barbie and Midge totally failed to negotiate that admittedly challenging last flight of stairs. And I was failing to channel the Holy Spirit about this situation. FAILING. FAAAAAAAILING.†††
Spilled out onto the street at last. Pelted for the one open door out of the close to attempt to rejoin my team before it was time to go home and . . .
The one open door was shut and locked. Noooooooooooo.‡
TO BE CONTINUED.‡‡
* * *
* Pealed. Ha ha ha.
** Maxine^ kept saying, It is so cool that you are doing both.^^
^ Three of the four of us SPs from St Margaret’s were on the job last night.+ Are we the superbest or what.
+ And Eleanor was at home feeling guilty.
^^ I think I told you there was some administrative stress about this initially, but our overall team leader was fine with it, so I got to do my double act.
*** Also that I had to have suitable-for-sharing food to bring for the break. I have my priorities.
† So far as I know theoretically anyone can come watch us any time we’re ringing. But any time but New Year’s Eve you have to ask a ringer first. And possibly hire a Sherpa.
†† When you’ve got eighty-seven bells you don’t want to haul them up and down^ every time you want to ring, especially when the biggest half-dozen of them weigh in total almost as much as the Isle of Wight. Forza has a fancy locking system that bolts the bells in place, mouth up, ready for ringing. But you do have to unbolt them.
^ Ringing up and down: bells are normally left mouth down because it’s safer. Therefore to do method ringing you have to drag each bell by pulling on the rope so it swings higher and higher till it’s ready to stand upright mouth up on its beam. At which point you’re ready for full-circle ringing.
††† I am still failing. In the first place, why didn’t they wait and let the rest of us get out first? In the second place, there is a perfectly good tiny cul de sac at the bottom of that first stair: having held us all up for probably five minutes total while they minced and tittuped and whatever the galflibbet, why didn’t they draw aside at that point—I’ll let them off the profuse apologizing—and let the rest of us by THEN? But noooooooo. They waddled^ on down. And it’s not like Mr Coat-tails didn’t know there was a press of numbers behind him: he looked over his shoulder several times. Maybe he mistook me for a Street Pastor and thought that I was channelling the Holy Spirit at him. These are not Holy Spirit vibes, honey.
^ This is not a weightist remark. I know plenty of people whose doctors wish they were thinner who are neat and nippy on their feet. Both these bimbos were, in fact, slim and slight.
‡‡ I didn’t mean for it to run to three. Well, I didn’t mean for it to run more than one post, last night. This is sort of the KES/PEGASUS New Year’s Eve post.
So I’m short of sleep (again). The hellhounds weren’t eating (again) last night so I got to bed later than desirable. And still had to get up in time to sprint down to the mews for the speech therapist coming at 9:30.* Which meant that I spent the hours I did have for sleep waking up every half hour and looking anxiously at the clock (which necessitates turning the light on and focusing) in fear that I’d slept through the alarm. IT’S STILL DARK OUT. IT’S PROBABLY STILL NIGHT, ALTHOUGH I ADMIT THIS TIME OF YEAR THAT IS NOT GUARANTEED. I finally got up about twenty minutes before the alarm would have gone off. . . .
AND THEN SHE DIDN’T COME. THE SPEECH THERAPIST DIDN’T COME. Between diabolical hospital car parks and the non-arrival of therapists—we haven’t had a new one yet, and at the moment they’re all new, who doesn’t get lost trying to find us. Yes okay we are modestly tricky to find but don’t you guys TALK to each other??? So even when they arrive they’re always frelling late—THE NHS IS STARTING TO GET ON MY LAST REMAINING NERVE.
Speaking of experience informing writing, I occasionally wish I could grab a ‘High Forsoothly’ author and stick them on a horse for 5 days, see how far they could travel and whether they might start actually cleaning their horse’s hooves occasionally (not that I put Kes in this category.)
And take its tack on and off, and check it and clean it occasionally, and groom the wretched animal (including its feet) and FEED IT. Good grief. Horses take a lot of feeding because basic grazing is low-cal. And you can only carry so much grain/concentrates/what-have-you on your epic journey before this gets counterproductive: hence your horse needs hours of grazing.** And, you know, rest. Like it was a live animal or something.
It never ceases to confound me how clueless, erm, storytellers can be. What’s their excuse for not having spent two minutes to realise that you don’t turn a live animal on and off like you do a computer or a car? The other thing I always think of when I am faced with one of these horse-shaped vehicles is, hasn’t the author ever had a pet, to have some clue about the whole care-and-feeding issue?
Not that this is necessarily enough. When I was a young writer and hadn’t yet realised there is a vast political/hierarchical labyrinth between writers and readers***, I did some falling in with the wrong crowd. I was immediately made uneasy by the acolyte system† that a few of the big names had allowed to build itself around them. I also became semi-friends with an acolyte of a writer who had a particularly extensive worshipper cult. My semi-friend had written a story for her demiurge, and it had a horse in it. So she asked me if I’d read it before she submitted it. I said yes.
Erm. Well, it was a story. With a horse in it. The problem that I thought I could address was that she was treating the horse like her pet cat. She wasn’t quite opening tins of tuna for it but . . . close. I made a couple of suggestions which she did not take in good part.†† And she made sure to tell me a month or two later that her Most High had rejected the story for her next fanfic anthology, listing weaknesses I had let her down by failing to mention and not alluding to the unchanged horse/cat at all.
. . . I agree [with CateK], but have found that authors who don’t know diddly about horses and want to use horses will ask for help and then not use it. Because they’ve already decided that a) the horse care doesn’t really matter as it’s only fiction, b) they don’t want to spend words on it, c) they had what they wanted to do with a horse in the story all worked out and you’re just getting in the way. Then sometimes they mention the one who gave them the right information in the acknowledgments, with fulsome thanks, while doing exactly what they were told was impossible, thus making the one who gave them the advice looks really, really incompetent. You can drag a writer to the fount of information, but you cannot make him/her USE it.
YES. THIS. Moan, moan, moan. There are still books out there—but I can hope they’re all OP—with my name on the acknowledgements page. NOOOOOOOO. I DIDN’T DO IT. THAT’S NOT WHAT I SAID. THAT’S NOT WHAT I MEANT. IT’S NOT MY FAULT.†††
(And saying that puts me on a very slippery knife-edge, because heaven knows I don’t know everything about everything I’ve ever put in a book. I try, but…fall short. . . .)
Yes. This too. When you’re already having a bad night, this is one of the ruts of conscience that will keep you awake indefinitely. It’s the things you didn’t know you needed to look up that probably haunt me the worst. I knew I was on shaky ground with Taks’ Japanese, but thought I could just about get away with it since it was only a few words and he’d spoken only English for years. But . . . I’m sure I’ve told you this story . . . BEAUTY’s canary was originally female. My copyeditor told me that only male canaries sing much.
* * *
* No, I don’t have to be there. But while the therapists are still figuring out what Peter needs I don’t want to miss anything. And the speech therapist is probably the most important.
** Wild horses spend their lives grazing, you know? We’re interrupting the flow.
*** Some writers and some readers. Some of my best non-writing friends read me. Some of my best non-writing friends don’t. But there is a large social element of weirdness in the corner of genre publishing I know anything about, and while I’ve met people at SF&F cons and book conventions who have gone on to become friends . . . the graphic weirdness that inevitably comes with being a writer at one of these extravaganzas is a major reason why I don’t mind not going to them any more.
† Caveats here too. Some authors can’t help having groupies; it’s the way their books are read, or the luck of the draw, or that the media found them in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person and made a groupie-attracting story out of it, or something. And some authors do a genuine and generous job of mentoring. But a few of them merely relish being adored, and behave accordingly.
†† The McKinley Learning Curve. Sigh.
††† It was my evil twin.
I was cleaning bird feeders this morning. Hey, you feathered guys, you’re supposed to eat the stuff I put out, instead of getting bored and flying away to Tahiti for the poisson cru or next door for the sunflower hearts* and leaving the nutritious, carefully balanced by the wild-bird-food company accountants but probably not very exciting seed-with-bits-in** to curdle into what eventually sets into a substance remarkably like concrete.*** The stubbly kind. Arrrgh. And while the Second Wave of bird feeders is more satisfactory than the first they’re still diabolical little frellers to clean.
It’s been a clear bright day today after all the rain and wind† and it’s Boxing Day so EVERYONE and his/her aunt/uncle, third cousin twice removed and their large ill-mannered off lead dogs are out having jolly walks over the countryside. Which means we did not have any jolly walks over the countryside because it wasn’t going to be worth the stress level. I have enough stress in my life just now, you know? Worrying about the three-bedroom-cottage-sized†† four-legged thug(s) bounding up to the crest of the hill from the other side wasn’t going to be a fun relaxing time.
I was gratuitously right about this: Wolfgang coughed a bit in a sad neglected way when he started this morning and I was struck by a pang of conscience as well as the standard anxiety anyone with a getting-on-for-twenty-years-old car is going to have about such things, so we sauntered down to the mews the ridiculously long way to get his arthritic joints warmed up and all his meters reading normal. We could barely thrash our way down any road††† for all the trippers out there in their coloured wellies‡ grimly appreciating nature and hoping that all this frelling fresh air is helping them wear off the excesses of yesterday.‡‡
Accompanied by their formidable battalions of drooling, superfluously-fanged off-lead dogs. Arrrgh. One of the (over-populated) roads we ventured down today cut across the path I did at least briefly consider taking Pav along because I can pick her up and . . . galumphing toward us as part of a well-wellied family party were two, I dunno, Golden Retrievers crossed with polar bear possibly? Picking Pav up wouldn’t have been enough. And I suspect I would not climb a tree efficiently with only one arm and a struggling thirty-pound hellterror under the other.
Eh. I’m about to eat Christmas pudding. Flour two days in a row. I’m really dicing with death here.
* * *
* I’m cheap. I spend enough on gold-standard frelling dog kibble.^
^ You’d think I’d be grateful the hellhounds don’t like eating.
** Mealworms, chiefly, because robins like mealworms, but I’ve already told you that my resident robin is TOO LARGE to fit through the squirrel-resistant cage. I still haven’t addressed this problem. Buying bird feeders gets old too, and as soon as you do your St Francis thing on the ground you get rats. St Francis probably managed to love rats too but then he didn’t stay in one place much, did he? Rats in the garden weren’t an issue.
*** I’ve been meaning to deal with the bird feeders since . . . oh, October or so.
† My focus has been a little narrow of late and I was apparently unduly off hand about the effects of the storms in this area; there are people around here who have been and are still without power. None of my neighbours has knocked on the door begging for a shower^ but then most of them are away for the holidays and aren’t noticing if they’ve got power or not. I’m used to coming home in the small hours to a dark street but it’s disconcerting to come back at teatime to bring the indoor jungle in for the night and close the curtains, to a dark street.^^ Because I have more imagination than is good for me, and possibly because I read THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS at an impressionable age, there’s always a whiff of Last Woman on Earth about it. And if Phineas doesn’t come back because a triffid got him I’ll have to start buying cat food.
^ And a good thing too since I don’t have a shower. Took my first shower(s) in years when I was overnighting at Peter’s. It was interesting. Oh. Yes. I remember this. Big waste of hot water. No reading.+
+ Okay, you could read in the shower with—say—your iPad in her little waterproof jacket. But it would be hell on your hot water bills and don’t you usually like to sit down when you read?
^^ The shortest day of the year is over. We’re officially rolling on toward spring. Yaaay.
†† Ie bigger than mine, which is one and a half bedrooms. I’ve told you, haven’t I, that my predecessor used the big room as her bedroom and the medium-sized cupboard as her office? Ah, priorities. I ripped out the closet in the big room for more bookshelves in my office.
††† Except the main street, of course, which is beautifully empty because all the shops are closed. Holiday traffic is funny.
‡ All right, my wellies are pink. But they’re real wellies, and they have the real gouges and claw marks from working in a garden with a lot of rose bushes in it. Some of the rubber boots out there look like the wellie version of those designer jodhpurs made for women who get no closer to a horse than the valuable antique horsehair sofa in their sitting room. Jodhpurs are stupid unless there’s a horse involved.^ Wellies are stupid unless you have a garden or a lot of horses to muck out. There were two little girls today with especially fabulous flash wellies in forty-seven decorator colours between them . . . and faces like the return of local thunderstorms. I thought ‘blisters’.
^ Personally I think they’re pretty stupid even with a horse involved. Nice pair of stretch breeches with reinforced fanny and inside-of-leg, thanks.
‡‡ Or possibly looking forward to further excesses today that all the fresh air is going to make justifiable.