April 2, 2015

Shadows is here!

I have spent all day . . .

 

. . . doing STUFF.  You know, stuff.  FINALLY got the laundry from three days ago actually hung up to dry.*  Well.  To finish drying.  It’s mostly dry already and golly is it ever wrinkled.**  I fought my way to the countertop in the kitchen next to the Aga where I sit every morning and have my tea, and where the pile of unread magazines gets taller and taller and taller.  I threw out with a sigh of relief all the catalogues saying Great bargain!  Order on line by midnight 31 March! ***  I swept the floor.†  I took delivery of 1,000,000,000 baby plants ARRRRRRGH THIS FRELLING WINTER IS GOING ON FOREVER WE HAD ANOTHER FROST LAST NIGHT THIS IS THE SOUTH OF BLOODY ENGLAND AND IT’S THE FIRST OF BLOODY APRIL.††  I’ve run out of floor space to bring in tiny geraniums and tiny dahlias and tiny begonias and tiny chocolate cosmos every frelling night††† and that’s before today’s influx of petunias.

It’s been a seriously mad ten days or so.  And I haven’t even got started. . . .  Maybe I can get back to the blog tomorrow and continue the fascinating story.  Or maybe Friday.  Or next Gammelfug day.

* * *

* This involved getting the laundry that’s been hanging for about . . . um . . . a week, down off the airer dangling from the bathroom ceiling and . . . gasp of astonishment . . . folded.  Now let’s say I have four—let’s say pink—socks.  These of necessity comprise two pairs.   You are with me so far?  They were bought at the same time from the same shop and are the same brand and the same size.  So tell me why three of them are a pair and the fourth one is clearly odd?

** I have found that the trick with unhung laundry is to get it out of the washing machine and into my open-weave-with-lots-of-holes-where-the-wicker-has-broken basket and stir it up a couple of times a day and it won’t help the wrinkles but I won’t have to rewash it because it’s started to smell a little peculiar.  If you leave wet laundry in the washing machine for three days it will definitely smell peculiar.   Ask me how I know this.

*** I put into another pile, with a guard rail around it, all the envelopes that say, Do this immediately or the world will end and you will die, love, HM Revenue and Customs.^

^ Now I am not a fan of all those government departments on both sides of the Atlantic that steal+ my money but I FRELLING WELL HATE TECHNOLOGY A WHOLE LOT WORSE.

Okay.  I know I’m a screw up but I so have help.

About twice a year I have to import money.  I earn very little in the country I live in so what there is of it accumulates in America and then I haul it in chunks over here.  First obstacle:  my Maine bank wasn’t answering my emails.  UM.  PEOPLE.  YOU HAVE MY MONEY.  They hadn’t told me my contact of the last twenty-five years had retired nor was anyone watching for rogue emails that might be coming in to her asking for little things like international money transfers.  Gibber gibber gibber gibber gibber.  Okay.  Made contact with some new unfortunate who sounds young so maybe she won’t retire for a while.  And after comparatively few failures I got the necessary fax sent and acknowledged.  Then I had to make confirmatory contact by phone.

This has taken something like ten days.  It’s true I should have smelled a rat sooner but I am used to things going wrong and . . . what was happening never occurred to me.  MY IPHONE IS EDITING THE *&^^%$%$£””!!!!!!! NUMBER.

I’m going to say that again.  POOKA, MY IPHONE, IS EDITING PHONE NUMBERS.  Not satisfied with merely destroying three-quarters of my contacts list, we are MOVING ON TO MORE CREATIVE FORMS OF HARASSMENT.

. . . I had had a comprehensive all-tech-wide meltdown a month or so ago when Raphael had to reinstall nearly everything.  One of the many, many things that went wrong was that Outlook ate most of my contacts which I have since been laboriously reinstalling a few at a time, including some of the oldest, like my American bank, which have been on Outlook since before I had a mobile phone.  And apparently in some fabulous Apple update or other that came with the reinstall the iPhone was told to put in the random British zero . . . even when the address is American and the hapless human has put in the country code because she knows she’ll forget.#  The random British zero appears between the country code and the area code and is not at all conspicuous. 

After several days of ‘this number has not been recognised’ and choruses of beeps, clicks and whistles I finally decided I must have punched the number in wrong so I pulled out my paper address book.  No, it was right (still not noticing the villainous zero because the iPhone also controls the spacing).  So I frelling wiped the number and poked it in again thinking there might be one of those invisible tech bug things that was going HA HA HA HA CHOMP off stage.  And this time I finally SAW the sodding phone adding the zero.  AND IT WON’T LET ME DELETE IT.##

At the frelling moment I have my bank’s phone number memorized.  But after the initial fury wears off I’m not GOING to remember to omit the superfluous ratblasting zero . . . and I can’t hit the auto button at all of course.

And presumably this is affecting ALL MY AMERICAN PHONE NUMBERS????  Somehow I haven’t wanted to check.

So meanwhile I finally successfully rang my bank.  AND THE FAX IS NOW TOO OLD AND I HAVE TO START ALL OVER AGAIN. 

It may be very useful that the hellhounds would rather not eat at all, and I’m a postmenopausal woman, I don’t need food . . . Pav is going to be a little distressed, the next fortnight or so, till I finally get my money transferred and can afford to buy food again.  Maybe Peter will throw Pav a crust from time to time.

# Actually I tried it without the country code and it still puts in a zero.  It’s possibly more conspicuous without the country code but that’s not the point.

## I have, of course, emailed Raphael.  I was HOPING he was going to say, oh, yeah, that’s a known glitch, press the zurgle button and tell it to flamboodle the dorkomart and it’ll be fine.  That’s not what he said.  He said, what?

Kill Steve Jobs.  Oh, wait, phooey, that won’t work.

+ If they put more money into organic farming and non-fossil-fuel energy sources and less into weapons development and finding new ways to avoid letting people have their civil rights I would feel a little better about this.

† I should have washed it, but let’s not get carried away.

†† No fooling.

††† Not to mention scraping hellhounds off the ceiling when the eaves at the cottage insist on wailing like women who have lost their demon lovers.^  One salient difference between hellhounds and hellterror:  hellhounds try to wedge themselves under (or over) the front door to get away from the kitchen door that is making that terrible coming-to-get-us^^ noise.  The hellterror trots interestedly straight for the kitchen door and puts her nose to the corner that is causing the row.  She did me a favour, in fact, because it seemed to me, standing up at human height, that the noise was coming from the top corner, not the bottom one, but wedging the top didn’t do much.  But it turns out I can just about stop the ululation with a well-placed dustcloth around the bottom corner  . . . but try closing the door accurately on said well-placed dustcloth with the wind hammering at the other side.  Without involving fingers and even more noise. 

^ This winter is not only endless, the frelling storm winds come from the wrong direction.

^^  http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B006X0M06I/ref=acr_search_see_all?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints= 1 + The inspiration for Chuck was the previous generation of course, but the hellhounds’ whippet blood is well to the fore when the eaves are howling.

+ It’s on Kindle.  You can download it and read it right now.

Footnote meltdown* and bell ringing

 

Crabbiton, for better or worse, is becoming a fixture of my Thursday nights.**  And I was thinking tonight, as I made a complete squishy overdone dog’s dinner of a touch of St Simons doubles***, that I’m beginning to remember how much fun bell ringing is, even when you’re being hopeless.†  I’m also beginning to brandish a tiny amount of autonomy.  I have a habit of staying off the bigger bells in any tower however light the ring is overall, where even the big bells aren’t very, because I’m such a jerky ringer.  Bells are a lot bigger than you are, even the little ones, and you have to ring with grace and discretion or they will get the better of you.  You can recover from ringing idiocy by violent yanking to some extent on the littler bells.  The heavier the bell, however, the faster it will embarrass a tactless ringer, and genuinely big bells are only rung by good ringers.  I am not a good ringer.  Crabbiton is a light six but I’ve still been cringing around front.††  Last week I decided it was time to stop being quite such a little old lady.  Okay, so I made another mess of ringing up the six tonight†††, I made a dive for it anyway when Wild Robert called for plain hunt on six.  I’d successfully rung a few touches on the five, and plain hunt does require you to move your bell down to the front and back up again but there’s none of that dreadful dodging business, I should be able to do this for pity’s sake.  And while there was a good deal of Wild Robert saying things like ‘keep the six moving along’, ie go faster, which is hard when you over-pull, which I do, because that’s a bigger bell you’re wrestling with the inertia of, I did stay in place.  And it was weirdly exhilarating, tackling another aspect of my less than fabulous ringing skill,‡ and it made me think about handling, which is a good thing to do.‡‡

So I was chirping cheerfully about this at the pub, about what is essentially relearning stuff I used to know, but in my case, possibly because I’m such a slow learner about most things, relearning is usually a good thing because I learn more the second, or third or fourth or seventeenth, time through.

On the learning of bell ringing however there is only one focus of interest for Niall, and I found myself discussing learning frelling handbells again.  He referred to some pronouncement by one of the stars in the handbell-ringing firmament and I made Rude Noises.  He is a nasty man, I said, after you and Colin dragged me through a couple of quarters of bob minor he kept asking when I was going to ring a peal.  I AM NOT GOING TO RING A PEAL.

There was a silence.

You could ring a peal of bob minor dead easy now, said Niall insinuatingly.  Now you’ve rung a couple of quarters of bob major.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

To be continued.  I fear.

* * *

* It’s because I’m ringing too many handbells.  TOO MANY HANDBELLS.  MY BRAIN CAN’T TAKE THE STRAIN.  AAAAAAAAUGH.

** I drive.  Niall buys the beer at the pub after.  HE FORGOT HIS MONEY TONIGHT.  I HAD TO DRIVE AND BUY THE BEER. ^

^ As I told him however, having first exercised my inner cow by doing shock-horror-flounce, given the amount of driving he’s done in support of my ringing progress+ I probably owe him a few beers.  1,000,000 or so.

+ A few weeks ago, for example, handbells at Gillian’s house, I didn’t know Hampshire had that much back of beyond, and little twisty confusingly-mapped# roads that always have tractors coming at you around blind, one-car-wide corners.  Of course this was for handbells.  If it weren’t for the whips and chains## I could have stayed home.###

# It would almost be worth finally making up my tiny mind~ and buying a satnav~~ to take it out there and watch it weep.  I could be wrong, but I bet it would say TURN AROUND!  TURN AROUND!  GIVE ME STREET LIGHTS AND MOBILE PHONE MASTS!  AAAAAAAAAUGH! 

~ The money Peter gave me to buy one is long gone on books/music/yarn/All Stars/chocolate

~~Niall doesn’t need satnav in pursuit of handbells.  He can smell a handbell ringer two counties over.

## Don’t let that mild-mannered exterior fool you.  Niall is FIERCE in pursuit of handbells.  FIERCE.  Tigers have nothing on Niall when he has his handbell bag out.  And it’s always out.~  I have an American friend coming through next week and I’m going to take her tower ringing.  It’s so, you know, exotic, and she reads the blog.  I told Niall about her since I’m hoping to, ahem, rope him into this adventure and his immediate reaction was, is there time to start her on handbells?

~ There are rumours of mysterious disappearances in his part of town and the sound of handbells and moaning at strange hours.=

= Of course in my part of town there are stories of an elderly woman with wild hair and All Stars carrying a series of large lumpy pink knapsacks and accompanied by a series of furry four-legged creatures of the night whom she cajoles with such phrases as, I don’t care if you are a stomach on four short little legs you may not eat that . . . ewwww . . . whatever it is, and, I don’t care if you’re entire males you do not have to pee every five feet I want to get home before dawn.%

% Preferably.  This doesn’t always happen.  Especially lately with, you know, spring looming and longer days and everything.  Street Pastors and Sams£ are really ruining my ability to get back out of bed in the morning.

£ Although no one’s holding a gun to my head and making me sign up for late shifts.  I have a Dr Strangelove hand.  It . . . must . . . press . . . late shift buttons.

###  Gillian must have a private helicopter pad~.  I can’t believe she drives everywhere.

~ And one doodah of a private income

*** The frelling bobs are the same simple-minded bobs as for plain bob doubles, the frelling method you frelling started with!!  What is my FRELLING PROBLEM!!!!^

^ My frelling problem is that it’s a different basic method, so the bobs are stuck into the course line slightly differently.  Just enough to derail someone like me who doesn’t actually count to five+ very reliably.

+ ‘Doubles’ means five working bells.  ONLY FIVE.  Amazing the amount of mayhem a mere five bells can get up to.  Apparently there are a lot of us numerically challenged ringers who can’t count to five.

† Mind you I’d just successfully called my baby touch of Grandsire doubles and for the second week in a row like I actually knew it or something.^  There are drawbacks to success with Wild Robert around.  Hmm, he said, we’ll have to teach you another touch.

^ Last week everyone just tied up their ropes and wandered away which is what usually happens at the end of a touch.  I WANTED PRAISE.  I WANTED PEOPLE TO TELL ME HOW CLEVER I AM.  I said this to Niall over our beer afterward.  This week there was applause.  Led by Niall.

†† Although I don’t much like Crabbiton’s treble—the littlest bell—either because it’s so little I tend inadvertently to try and spring it out of the tower.  See:  jerky ringer.

††† I GOT MY HAND THROUGH A LOOP OF THE ROPE AND COULDN’T GET IT OUT AGAIN.  You can’t finish ringing up unless you let all your loops out.  So I either had to sort it or undergo the utter humiliation of ringing back down again, extricating myself, and ringing up in Grisly Solitude.  I did get my hand out without ringing down, but I was still late getting up with the other bells.  Arrrrrgh.  Wasn’t I saying something about fun?  What was I saying about fun?

‡ I survived two plain courses of Stedman doubles with two of the other bells going adrift.  This may count more than calling a touch of Grandsire.

‡‡ I was also feeling a little self-conscious because one of the Forza ringers was there and gazed at me as you might say inquiringly, because in theory I belong to the Forza band and haven’t been there I think by now over a year.  Erm, I squeaked, I’ve been ringing here lately because it’s, you know, casual, and, um, low key.  Lots of Grandsire doubles.  Only six bells.  Rather than forty-seven.  Aglovale nodded gravely.  Arrrgh.  Eeep.  I suppose I could turn up at Forza practise some week. . . .

Maybe I should just go bell ringing more often

 

Wasn’t I saying something not all that long ago about having been sort of half-planning without thinking about it, because thinking about it would make me sad, to slip unofficially out of bell ringing?  It’s not like I’m good at it or, even if I practised eight hours a day every day as if I were in training for the Olympics or Norma for the Metropolitan Opera, would I get good at it.*  Nobody is going to miss me beyond method bell ringing’s chronic shortage of hands on ropes.**

Okay.  That was then.  Now has gone rogue and bolted in another direction.  I seem to have rung some kind of frelling bells five days out of the last eight.  If you wanted to be cruel you could say I’ve rung bells nine days out of the last twelve.  I wonder if heroin addicts feel like this after they’ve been clean for a while?  The old buzz?  That fluttering feeling*** behind the eyes† or in the base of the throat?††  The sense of being helplessly ensnared by a grinning, many-clawed obsession.  Going har har har har har GOTCHA.  Look on the bright side.  I don’t have to worry about finding a reliable source of clean needles.

I can’t even (entirely) blame Niall†††.  I went to South Desuetude entirely on my own recognisance.  Sonar Fweep was my idea.‡  And I’m sure Old Eden was good for my character as well as my muscular redevelopment, tonight‡‡, after tinkling carelessly on the little light well-mannered bells at Crabbiton for . . . ahem . . . several weeks in a row now.  Ringing at Old Eden is ploughing rough tussocky ground.  Ah yes, plain bearings.  Joy.  Creak.‡‡‡

I’M NOT RINGING ANY BELLS TOMORROW.  OR WEDNESDAY.  Er.  I think I will maintain a tactful silence about Thursday.  And Friday.  And I forget if I’m ringing on Saturday. . . .

* * *

* Any more than singing eight hours a day would make me a Norma.  Sigh.  At the moment I would probably settle for NOT being late for my voice lesson every frinkblasted week.  I was supposed to predict that everyone on my end of Main Street was going to be getting their bathrooms replaced today and there would be epic numbers of OPULENT PERSONAL CARE SPACE REFIT lorries casually half-parked on the margins on BOTH sides of the road so unless you were a very thin bicycle you COULDN’T GET THROUGH?

I am also finally beginning to realise that I have a new(ish) tactical problem.  I think I told you^ that as this horrible winter started dragging itself toward spring I let Aloysius^^ put me back on the singing rota at St Margaret’s.  This means that on my service-singing weeks I’ll have spent the last two or three days of that week frantically cramming for service singing, since that week’s music director won’t have sent out the playlist till Thursday if we’re lucky.  As it happens I was down to sing this week—that is last night—which was a special service and there were going to be LOTS OF PEOPLE THERE^^^ so I was a tiny bit more anxious than usual that I should have SOME clue about the stuff^^^^ we were performing.

This means however that by late Sunday night, when, even on a non-special-service singing Sunday, I’m exhausted and my mind is full of the detritus that results from classical training coming in explosive contact with Jesus Is My Boyfriend, and I’m trying to reengage with the former the results can be a bit bizarre.  Even aberrant.  And my voice lesson is on MONDAY.  I was singing Panis Angelicus^^^^^ better on Wednesday than I was today.  Sigh.

^ ?? One of the things about blogging every day was that I probably had told you things and therefore didn’t have to try to remember if I had.  Remembering comes under the ‘Norma’ and ‘bell ringing’ category of personal excellence, ie Not Going to Happen.

^^ Aloysius is LEAVINGWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.  . . . Okay, pulling myself together now.  I know this happens with curates and I even knew it was due to happen to Aloysius soon but . . . WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.  I may be a grown up as a human being+ but I’m a baby as a Christian and Aloysius has been First Contact++ about a lot of stuff.+++

+ And a grown-up twice Aloysius’ age, as I may have mentioned before because it haunts me.~  At least I’m only seven years older than Alfrick.

~ I told him not long ago that it was hard sometimes learning stuff from children.#  He took this in good part.  I’m trying not to believe that he took this in good part because he’s a priest, and priests are obliged to take cranky remarks from elderly parishioners kindly and tolerantly.  It’s in the small print in the Priest Contract:  Be nice to the grouches God has blessed you with.  You can afford to be nice because you’re a priest and you know God will sort them out later.##

# I suspect it’s even worse for those of us who were precocious in our own youth.  Don’t be precocious.  It will just make you crankier later on.

## ::ducks::

++ You can’t have a father figure half your age, right?

+++ My monks, for example, speaking of Alfrick.  I could still be going ‘oooooh . . . monks . . . . scary’ and driving hastily past the monks’ gate, which has a large sign by the turn-in that says WELCOME, if it weren’t for Aloysius.

^^^ MAJOR EEEK.  Till it occurred to me, hey, the more of them there are the less likely any of them can hear me. +

+ Also we had a drummer last night.  Our usual drummer is actually a good drummer which might be considered regrettable in our usual raggedy-andy line up.  But any drummer will be wildly over-miked so the rest of us can pretty much do anything we like and no one will know.  Maybe I should try singing Bellini.

^^^^ Sic.  I am still not a fan of Modern Christian Worship Music.

^^^^^ Corny?  Sure.  The good kind of corny.

** Or on short leather straps if you happen to ring handbells.  I don’t know anyone who rings methods on handbells, do you?  Especially no one who rings frelling quarter peals on frelling handbells.  Which I may have done for a second time recently.  On one of those nine days out of twelve.  But then I don’t know me.  I don’t want to know me.  Crazy obsessed people make me nervous.

*** Which is not about getting your out-of-practise hands tangled in a bell rope.

† No, that’s your brain going NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

†† Which is a matching AAAAAAAAAAAUGH trying to get out.

††† I may try.

‡ It was one of Wild Robert’s erratic seminars.  And I needed Niall to drive that far.  There was a motorway involved.

‡‡ Fortunately in terms of mental integrity it was mostly plain hunt for beginners.  Nadia just about killed me today.^  In the nicest possible way of course.  But Monday is not usually my best evening for an optimum bell ringing experience.  And story-in-progress tonight?  After, furthermore, last night’s heroic service sing?  Not a hope.  Might as well write another blog post.

^ Niall is not the ONLY Master of Mwa hahahahaha in my life.

‡‡‡ My shoulders.  Not the bell frames.

Tech rules. Not okay! Not okay!!!

 

It’s bad enough that I have a brain that . . . well, if you put my brain at one end of the Spectrum of Deadly Danger and a berserker regiment in a nasty temper all bearing freshly-sharpened weapons of individual destruction at the other end, and then tried to decide where a peanut butter sandwich on Wonder bread should be placed . . . it would go nearer the berserker regiment end than the my-brain end, all right?  Which this paragraph goes some considerable way toward proving.

So if I forget something important it’s ALWAYS likely that it’s my own stupid disintegrating fault because I am a frelling nincompoop and I drop things constantly* and my brain is made of guacamole.**  Which is to say I DO NOT NEED ANY HELP FROM MY TECHNOLOGY ABOUT SCREWING STUFF UP.

Which of course has no impact on present circumstances whatsoever.  Pooka keeps insisting that she hasn’t been backed up to The Cloud in years***, so much so that pretty much everything I do on her—text, for example—suffers from extreme pop-up-box-itis, something like this:  Hi, are you—BACK ME UP! BACK ME UP! BACK ME UP!—free for the dinosaur safari—BACK ME UP! BACK ME UP! BACK ME UP NOW!—next week?  If we—BACK MEEEEEEE UUUUUUUUUP—book now we get a free slushie and a Tyrannosaurus Rex—AREN’T YOU PAYING ATTENTION?  I NEED TO BE BACKED UP BEFORE THE HELLTERROR EATS YOUR LAPTOP†—hatband—YOU’LL BE SORRRRREEEEEE ABOUT ALL THOSE UPDATED FILE EMAILS YOU FORGOT TO SEND YOURSELF†† IF YOU DON’T BACK ME UP.†††

Interspersed in these merry japes also are sporadic demands for my Apple ID password.  I’m really tired of Apple’s The World Is At Risk By Our Greatness attitude which means they won’t let you reuse a password because WE ALL MIGHT GET HACKED BY PURPLE TENTACLES FROM BETELGEUSE but I would put up with this better if they didn’t periodically decide they don’t like my password and demand I come up with a new one.  I used to think this was just my idiot fingers typing ‘Agamemnon’ when I meant ‘Clytemnestra’ but no.  Apple clearly produces ALGORITHMS demanding new passwords at intervals that sure come across as random to people like me.

A new low in my tech relationships was reached this past week.  One of the things the Sams don’t go out of their way to warn you about when you sign up is that they will be requiring certain admin duties out of you as well as all those hours on telephones.  I had an Admin Duty spell this last week which necessitated the sending of emails to massed ranks of Sams.  I had laboured particularly over one such email, bent over the Aga and a cup of very strong tea with the iPad on my knee, hit ‘send’ and . . . NOTHING HAPPENED.  AAAAAAAAUGH.  The iPad gets lonely if it doesn’t get to keep a few emails all to itself.  And it likes to collect unsent emails.  You the helpless suffering human get the ‘server failure’ notice, the email disappears, the little box at the bottom of your email screen adds one to the ‘unsent’ total . . . but you can’t rescue the email and, I don’t know, resend or anything, because it doesn’t get stashed anywhere sensible like your outbox.  IT’S PROBABLY LURKING IN THE CLOUD.

And did I tell you that the last time I actually managed to hang a blog post, this from the ultralapbooktop, Microsoft in its infinite unwise bad attitude informed me that it wanted to do an update, and it wanted to do it now, but I could postpone if I wanted . . . so I postponed AND IT SHUT ME DOWN ANYWAY WITHOUT WARNING ABOUT TEN MINUTES LATER.  I HAD TIME TO EAT A LOT OF WALLPAPER BEFORE IT TURNED ITSELF BACK ON AGAIN, AND WHEN I CLIMBED BACK INTO THE ADMIN SIDE OF THE BLOG, SNAPPING AND SNARLING, I DISCOVERED THAT ABOUT A TENTH OF THE TEXT HAD LEFT FOR PARTS UNKNOWN TAKING WITH IT MOST OF THE PUNCTUATION AND ALL THE FORMATTING.

I may not have told you.  I was too busy trying to prevent my head from exploding.

Maybe I should just go bell ringing more often. . . .

* * *

* Ask the hellterror.  Fortunately she thinks it’s a game.  —Oooh!, she says, leaping up on her little bedspring legs and punching me enthusiastically in the gut with her forepaws.^  Do that AGAIN!

^ I know.  I am a Bad Owner.  I permit this.  But I think having her pogosticking about the place is amusing.  She does know ‘off’ but she hears it relatively rarely and it doesn’t slow her down much.   When I try to enforce it she looks at me with an expression of ‘I have to long sit before my last PALTRY snack of the evening+ and now THIS?’  Bullies’ faces aren’t built for looking long-suffering but she has a really good try.

+ She does too.  Three to five minutes depending on how patient I’m feeling#.  She’s got her harness and lead off and the gate is open and NOTHING BUT SELF RESTRAINT is preventing her from bolting into her crate and snarfing like crazy.  ::haphazard owner beams with pride::

There really is a lot to be said for food oriented hellcritters.  They are so . . . trainable.  Said training may be a long, bloody, and hoarse-making process but it’s POSSIBLE.  I get bombarded with a variety of Dog Media because I contribute tiny sums to a number of critter charities and they’re always frenziedly updating you as a flimsy disguise for begging for more money, and they frequently offer you clever suggestions for Training Interactions with Your Resident Hellcritter(s).   And they’re ALL frelling based on FOOD REWARDS.  I was particularly offended by one that fell through the mail slot just a day or two ago, since the illustrations included a whippet clearly getting into the whole food-treat thing.  It was a bull terrier with leg extensions and a mask.

# And/or how many knots I’ve got in the laces of my All Stars.  There is a rant to be ranted about the varying LENGTHS of the laces that over the years come with your pretty much standard-shaped All Stars.  Some seasons they’re so frelling long I could tie the hellmob to them and dispense with leads.  Some seasons they’re so dranglefabbing short you have to omit the last two or three pairs of holes to get them tied at all.

** I perceive a theme.^  I didn’t realise I was hungry.  MORE CHOCOLATE.  More chocolate is the answer.  More chocolate usually is the answer.  As the kitchen magnet says, Chocolate is the answer.  What was the question?

^ Also:  guacamole is far less dangerous than peanut butter.  You might want to make a note.

*** Do I want to be backed up to The Cloud?  The thing about little pieces of paper is that you’re pretty sure they’re here somewhere.  Explanations about what The Cloud is or how it works or where anything in it actually is involves the dreaded word ‘algorithms’.  I am allergic to the ‘a’ word.  Just frelling typing it makes my fingertips hurt.^

^ Although that may also have something to do with recent close encounters of an unfortunate kind with hellmob-comestible-chopping implements.

† Ultrabook.  It’s not ultra and it’s not a book.  Grrrrrr.

†† Although anything I’ve actually done on Pooka’s Lilliputian keyboard will be illegible anyway^ so the backing up of gibberish is perhaps more of a matter of principle than practicality.

^ Note that being in a texting relationship with me is not all joy.  Not only can’t I type what I mean to be typing, but I have a sometimes unique McKinley take on acceptable abbreviations.

††† Speaking of the hellterror, texting on Pooka lately is a lot like trying to do anything with a hellterror in my lap.^  HI.  I’M HERE.  I’M IN YOUR LAP.  Yes.  I had noticed.  LET’S PLAY A GAME.  No, let’s not.  You’re supposed to lie there quietly.  That’s the deal about laps.  Lying quietly.  SURE.  I’LL LIE QUIETLY.  LET’S PLAY A LYING QUIETLY GAME.  YOU DON’T MIND IF I PUT MY FOREPAWS ON YOUR SHOULDERS AND LICK YOUR GLASSES, DO YOU?  I’LL DO IT QUIETLY.

^ And anyone who thinks there is perhaps a hellterror bias going on?  Well, yes.  This month it will be a year since the hellhounds went on this drug that more or less holds back the chronic geysering but also stops them eating pretty much altogether.  I don’t know if it destroys their appetite or makes them queasy but the truth is I don’t care.  I’ve been forcefeeding them, oh, 85-100% of the time for a year and you could say our relationship has suffered.  You could say that.  Yes, you could say that with some energy.

Sigh.

Crazy Singing Lady

 

. . . NO NO NO NO I CAN’T POSSIBLY START WITH THAT FIRST LINE, SOMETHING MIGHT BE LISTENING. . . .  ::DANCES THE FANDANGO IN A DISTRACTING MANNER::* . . . It’s been a pretty crappy almost everything lately, you can hardly blame me for being paranoid.  So, what I was risking saying was, I’ve had two surprisingly okay, engaged, useful, whatever, voice lessons in a row . . . just in time however for a three-week holiday break during which I will doubtless go to flat, unrhythmic little splinters again.  So the powers of entropy don’t have to be paying attention.  The gremlins can just lie back and giggle.  Throw the occasional brickbat if they feel inspired.  Although I may dare to hope for metaphorical brickbats.**

My attitude = not great.

I managed to whomp the whatsit out of myself with a not-very-metaphorical brickbat just before last week’s voice lesson and I mean whomp.  The gremlins would have been proud of me.  You may recall that this is A New Computer.***  I was rummaging a fortnight ago, in the scary dark interstices of the EVERYTHING folder, where files you haven’t seen since before you had a computer may lurk undetected for centuries, or at least till they make the next gazillion storage media redundant.†   And, lo and behold, I unearthed a couple of the recordings I’d made of voice lessons YEARS ago, or at least I hope it was years.  And I made the very nearly fatal mistake of listening to one of them.††

DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN I KNEW I WAS BAD BUT I HAD NO IDEA I WAS THAT BAD.†††  I also remember that when I played them back at the time I was a little discouraged‡—also I had some other great emotional drama playing out in my life at the time and I’m learning that this always has a Florence-Foster-Jenkins-izing‡‡ effect on my singing—but I don’t think I wanted to find a bridge to jump off of.  I should have wanted to find a bridge to jump off of, or at least to stop singing forever and let Nadia fill my slot with someone she can teach to SING.  AAAAAAAAAAAAUGH.

About the only thing to say for this utterly demoralising experience is that I didn’t consider giving up singing forever.  It’s too late.  I sing for sanity.‡‡‡  But I pretty much went in for my lesson on my hands and knees last week and Nadia, bless her, said I FORBID YOU TO LISTEN TO THAT RECORDING.  EITHER BURY IT IN THE BACK GARDEN OR—RECOMMENDEDDELETE IT.  YOU’RE JUST HURTING YOURSELF LISTENING TO IT NOW.  . . . The real point being she did NOT say, actually, I’ve been meaning to discuss giving your slot to someone I can teach to sing. . . .  She did say that I’ve improved.  WELL I COULD HARDLY HAVE GOT WORSE.

I came out of this at last week’s lesson like a bull terrier going for her supper Kong and SANG.§  It may not have been pretty but it was energetic.  And this is the time of year when you can probably even sing (audibly) on the street without people thinking you’re the Crazy Singing Lady§§ and I’m having my annual frenzy of learning all the rest of the verses to my top favourite 1,000,000 Christmas carols§§§—which I admit is cutting into proper practise time but it does mean I’m singing.#

And . . . (re)learning Christmas carols## this year, I came to In the Bleak Midwinter and . . . hmmm.   It hadn’t really registered with me till I moved over here, but it’s (perhaps) Peter’s favourite and has become one of mine.  But this year, singing it, I thought, this isn’t a carol, this is a song that happens to be about Christmas.  So I’m going to learn it properly—I took it in to Nadia today—and sing it all year.  And become the Crazy Singing Lady who sings carols in midsummer.   If I’m going to become the Florence Foster Jenkins of the 21st century I might as well do it with some flourish and swagger.

* * *

* And me dancing the fandango would be very distracting.^  Not in a good way.

^  Eh.  You need a partner for the fandango.  ::Eyes the hellmob+::  Hellhounds get that ‘oh help and glory she’s not going to shove FOOD at us again is she???  But we just ate last week’ look on their faces, delicately rearrange themselves to face the wall and appear to be deeply preoccupied with going to sleep.  Hellterror throws herself up on her hind legs and starts demonstrating her idea of a fandango, shouting, ME, COACH!  PUT ME IN!  I CAN FANDANGO!  ALL I NEED IS A CARMEN MIRANDA HAT!

+ Or hellhorde, as some enterprising forum poster suggested.

** You probably think gremlins are metaphorical.  NOT IN MY LIFE.

*** The old one is still in a box under Raphael’s desk because he’s going to find time to resuscitate it any minute.^  You know, like maybe March.  2016.  Not that I feel that I’m not getting my contract support hours out of him however:  it’s a good day when I have texted/emailed/screamed-so-they-could-hear-me-in-Dorset him about the ultrabook’s^^ latest little ways fewer than 4,612 times.

^ Yes, since you ask.  There’s still stuff on it that I’m missing.+  And you’re totally up to date with your back ups, your files are flawlessly labelled and you’re all ready for Christmas, right?  GOAWAY.

+ Besides the remnants of my sanity.  Sanity, computers and I are really not an integrated whole.  We’re kind of this universe, the anti-universe, and a third thing nobody’s discovered yet but it makes an even bigger bang. 

^^ I’ve already complained to you about how you can’t say LAPTOP any more?  That’s just so turn of the century.  No, it’s ULTRABOOKS now.  Ewww.  I thought ‘laptops’ was naff, but ultrabooks has that Marketing Genius pong about it.  Go away.+  Go shed your fuzzy, asthma-inducing fashionability on someone else’s carpets.  I just want a computer that will fit in my knapsack.

+ I probably shouldn’t be repeating ‘Go away’ so often three days before Christmas, right?  . . . GO AWAY.~

~ I know.  You saw that coming.  Sorry.  It’s been a hard year.

† So, how about all those cassette tapes and floppy discs?

†† Well, I had a row of knitting to finish.  And then about a skein and a half of rows after that.

††† May I grovel in apology here to the two or three people I’ve taken along to my voice lessons.  In my pathetic defense I took them because I wanted them to meet Nadia and see/hear how totally cool and interesting and exact and responsive she is, and the way she can adjust what she says to what the student can take on.^  It’s true that part of the experience is that they have to hear me sing, but . . . well, I knew I wasn’t good, but . . . GROVELS EXTENSIVELY.  I’LL NEVER DO IT AGAIN.  NEVER EVER.  I PROMISE.

^ I get a lot of horse riding metaphors.

‡ I also remember I blogged about it, but I don’t want to go back and read what I said.

‡‡ One of the things I might have found interesting if I hadn’t been having a nervous breakdown is what Nadia has been telling me for years about what she tactfully calls my ‘tuning’ issues which is to say that I spend most of my time going flat, not because I have no ear^ but from nerves.  No no I can’t possibly do that whatever it is!  FLAT!!!!  And she’s right.  It’s the exposed notes that go flat;  it’s got pretty much nothing to do with pitch.  I’ll go flat on a frelling C if it’s the top note of the bar;  in the next bar I’ll sing an F on pitch if there’s a G above it I can go flat on instead.  Why don’t I stick to knitting?^^

^ I haven’t got much ear but I generally recognise flat when I hear it.  Except when I’m deaf from the throbbing in both ears.

^^ Because I’m also a lousy knitter?  Sigh.  Although until my life placids out a little I’m not even interested in doing anything more exciting than stocking or garter stitch with maybe the odd bit of ribbing for variety.  I knit for tranquillity+.  But then I sing for sanity.++

+  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

++ Um.  Yes.  And I’d be even less tranquil without my error-liable knitting.  SIGH.

‡‡‡ Yes.  As previous footnote.  Also, for some inexplicable reason, my church likes my singing.  They are even more desperate and/or tone deaf than I realised.

§ Any of you know Brother James’ Air? It is so pretty.

§§ Which they think the rest of the year. Crazy Singing Lady with a Variety of Dogs.

§§§ Every year they come back a little quicker. How long have I been taking voice lessons, and singing increasingly shamelessly on the street?^ By the time I die of extreme old age I’ll probably be quavering my way through all sixteen verses of everything at Christmas.

^ It’s done me serious good the last few months, I think, despite what the neighbours think, because of the adjusting-to-new-sitting-room-with-new-acoustics thing which was a much bigger issue than I’d expected.  Silly me.  Of course it was going to be an issue.  In a little tiny sitting room I can—and do—make the blasted lamps rattle, because I have so little frelling control.  I’m either loud or shut down to a faint creak.  Sigh.

# Singing for sanity.  As I keep saying.  Thank God for singing (if badly) and knitting (if badly).

## There’s also the ever-interesting topic of the way the British keep jerking the tunes around.  An exploration for some other evening.

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