July 20, 2014

Shadows is here!

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.

NO, I said, I WANT TO GET THIS OVER WITH.  BUT WOULD YOU PLEASE PASS IT ON TO ADMIN THAT YOU SHOULD TELL PEOPLE WHEN THEIR ENGINEERS ARE DELAYED?  I AM, AT THE MOMENT, FEELING EXTREMELY CROSS.  I’m sure she would never have guessed.

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.

Sigh.~~~

* * *

* 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.  http://www.dpd.co.uk/index.jsp  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:   http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b048ngny ##  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.

+ If HAIRY

## 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?

Singing for Sanity

 

There is a person, let’s say Person A, we will call him Abelard, who is doing a Project.  He is canvassing reactions and seeking input from a variety of Other Persons.  I am on this list.  Recently I received an email from Abelard that was to everyone on the list.  I answered.  Most of our answers go to him individually—occasionally one escapes and comes to the entire list—and he then posts round ups about what everyone is saying about this or that.  I noticed that my input had not been acknowledged.  Hmm.  Then there’s an email saying that he hasn’t heard from everyone and he’s hoping the rest of us will get in touch.  !!!!!  So I emailed him again.

Nothing.

Then I emailed asking for acknowledgement that he’s receiving my emails.

Still nothing.

So I emailed his boss, Person B, whom we will call Bozo, saying that Abelard was not receiving my recent emails about his Project.  Bozo did not deign to reply to me, but he copied me forwarding mine to Abelard.  Next round-up email Abelard adds a paragraph saying Robin, I’m not getting your emails.

I forward this back to Bozo and say now what?

There is a pause, and then Bozo emails grandly, well, since you’re not really necessary to this Project why don’t you just let it go?

I stare at this in disbelief for a moment (Bozo and I have had our little differences before—just by the way).  Then I write him again.  Then I take out all the adjectives and I send what I have written, including a copy of my original email to Abelard, to demonstrate that I might conceivably have something to contribute.

There is another pause AND THEN I RECEIVE ANOTHER EMAIL FROM BOZO SAYING THAT ABELARD IS RUNNING THIS PROJECT AND I SHOULD BE CONTACTING HIM DIRECTLY.

DO I GET TO SAY AT THIS POINT THAT BOZO IS AN INCOMPETENT TWIT?

Then I took my two shifts of hellcritters out and sang like crazy.*

I told you last week that I was going to experiment in turning over a new leaf about my singing—well maybe blow on a new leaf or wave it around a little—or maybe turn over just a new petiole—although I suspect if you turn the petiole over the leaf goes with it.  Whatever.  But I was going to stop pretending I didn’t have any voice just because I don’t sound like Nadia or Joyce DiDonato, and I was also going to stop pretending that the only time I had any voice was during my voice lessons after Nadia had done her teacher magic and that it all went away again as soon as I was at home and it was just me and the piano and an assortment of beady-eyed hellcritters.**  And, since I do have a voice, such as it is, I was going to work on developing singing stamina.

And what better exercise aid than very long folk songs?***  I had another little epiphany about singing folk songs too, and this makes me look like even more of a nincompoop† than the ‘oh woe is me I have no voice’ thing.  I’ve taken folk songs in to Nadia off and on right along pretty much from the beginning and she’s even said (repeatedly) ‘find what works for you’ but noooooo I’m not going to let myself get away with it being easy.  So I keep trying to find THE EXACTLY PRECISELY RIGHT VERSION of whatever, which I will then learn slavishly . . .  but folk songs being the slippery little devils that they are I rarely do find the exactly precisely right version which means that . . . I can’t learn them.  No!  Not allowed!  It must be the ultimate perfect rubber-stamped passed-in-triplicate official THE VERSION!!!!!  How pathetic is that.  Very, very, very slightly in my defense, the problem often is that I have the version I like and I want to sing in my head and/or my imagination’s ear, from Maddy Prior or Jean Ritchie or someone, and the available sheet music is never it.  McKinley.  It’s folk music.  Make it upGood grief.

To be continued again. . . .

* * *

* Or, you know, like sanity.  Till I felt better.  Hey, it works.  A good murder ballad. . . .

** At Third House the critter beds will not be slap next to the piano.  WILL.  NOT.

*** I sang for service again this past Sunday.  This clearly counts as vocal press-ups, since over the course of a long evening you’re singing hard for probably an hour and a half.  Riordan, who was music leader for the evening service, sent us the playlist Monday evening.  Usually I’m whining for it Thursday or so and on at least one occasion we got it Saturday afternoon.^

It’s a mixed blessing however, having it that early.  You have so much less excuse for not spending serious time learning the latest rash of driv—I mean, these earnest, committed songs of modern worship.  ARRRRRGH.  What I have found, however, is that power ballads for God have the same effect on me that power ballads about everything else do—which is to say they depress the crap out of me.^^^  It’s all so moany.

So I maybe didn’t get quite as much practise in as I might have done for having had the playlist all week.  But the funny thing was that in the heat of the moment Sunday evening with everyone else singing and twanging and thundering~ . . . it all became quite jolly.  Aside from the whole ‘worshipping God’ aspect.  At the end of service as I was crawling around on my hands and knees coiling up ENDLESS, Midgard-Serpent-length frelling cables, Buck sauntered past nonchalantly and said, if you get too good at that, you know, we’ll put you on the rota permanently.

In six months I’m going to have a voice like iron.

^ People have lives.  Christians too.

^^ I would much rather sing Are you working in the vineyard of the Lord?, which isn’t on YouTube, which is very sad+ or When the roll is called up yonder, of which there are a gazillion versions on YouTube, many of them not fit for much beyond making you a Hindu++, although I rather like this one:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIB0xL-ejQk&index=11&list=PLD747A0359ACA320E  But then I have a weakness for the banjo after a misspent childhood listening to the Kingston Trio.+++

+ ‘From the desert wilds of sin/ Are you bringing lost ones in?’ Gospel lyrics don’t mess around.

++ Although if student performances of Voi Che Sapete can’t put me off Mozart—and they can’t—the Singing Goldfish# of Goodgodville shouldn’t shake my faith.

# Glub glub glub glub

+++ YES.  I AM THAT OLD.

^^^ I had a friend a million years ago in another life+ who used to call the soft rock radio station his wife favoured ‘suicide music’.  This is perhaps a little strong but I know what he meant.++

+ YES.  I AM THAT OLD.

++ Although I like this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0b2GFdxuVk&feature=kp

Wheeeeeeeee SPLASH.

~ Serious drum kit.  Golly.

† Not to say an incompetent twit.

Another frelling Bank Holiday weekend

 

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

* * *

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

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

^ Love copper beeches.  LOVE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

= Rather copper beech coloured, in fact.

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

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