August 16, 2014

Shadows is here!

Ah the continuing arrrgh of a house move

 

 

We have enough frelling cling film to plastic wrap England if not the entire United Kingdom.  Or possibly the planet.  WHY?  We hardly ever use cling film, it’s against my frelling ethical eco doodah principles.  It must be gremlins.  Cleaning out drawers is not my idea of fun at the best of times and at the tail end of a frelling house move it feels like the discovery of a brand-new hitherto unsuspected circle of hell*—and cleaning out cupboards and closets and sheds and garages and attics and crawl spaces and overhead shelves you can’t see into YAAAAAAAAH—for all eternity noooooooo I’m sure I wasn’t that wicked and evil**.  Ahem.  Anyway in the short term there’s still kind of a lot of this vile business LEFT to do*** AND THE GREMLINS HAVE BEEN SHOVING ROLLS OF CLING FILM IN EVERY AVAILABLE INTERSTICE.  And a few that aren’t available.  Peter also has a surprising number of pairs of shoes.†  And you know that stuff-you-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-so-you-shove-it-in-the-back-of-a-cupboard?  Possibly in a box with some of its friends?††  Well, now think about going through all those boxes in all those cupboards for someone else.†††

PamAdams

Yay- piano fits!!!

I’m still having palpitations every time I walk through the sitting room.‡ I measured the garden gate about six times, had Atlas clear off the [clematis] montana jungle [clematis montana are prone to junglifying] and take the latch off the gate so there were no protrusions or attack foliage, even though there was plenty of room.  Never so much as thought of the front door.

and who wouldn’t have a Steinway if that’s the choice??  My university campus has just gone all Steinway.

Steinways at a college?  Golly.  You don’t mean a music school or something?  Juilliard has Steinways.  My liberal arts college had Yamahas.  Major meh.  I’m really tired of people telling me what good pianos Yamahas are.  I wouldn’t give one house room.  And as I’m fond of saying my Steinway cost only a little more than a totally mediocre new piano.  Like maybe a boring plywood Yamaha.

Blondviolinist

Yay! Huzzah for wonderful regular movers, and huzzah again for fabulous piano movers! Being able to play music somewhere makes it ever so much more like home.

I love our regular movers but I hope I never see them again except on the street to say hi to.  And when their frelling bill came I had to sit down and take some deep breaths.  But did I tell you that the grandfather clock case came apart in their hands?  They were worriedly showing me where the wood had cracked and the glue shrivelled up but one of the things about local movers that you know is that you also know they’re careful.  I knew the clock had been held together with a large leather strap since we left the big house but the coming to pieces was a little dramatic.  And then . . . turns out one of the movers likes to repair old furniture in his spare time.  I asked the head guy—who’s the one we’ve known for about twelve years—and he said, yeah, it’s true, and he does beautiful work.  So I said thank you very much, take it away, and give us a shout some time when you think you might get around to it.  He spent that weekend gluing it back together.  It looks fabulous.  It looks better than it has in years.  No, decades.

And as for being able to play music makes somewhere home . . . there speaks the frelling violinist.  My piano tuner is coming next Tuesday.  I can’t wait, although in truth I’ve had no time to think about music . . . although if my poor darling didn’t sound like a shoebox mandolin with a few screws and a fuse of unknown provenance rattling around inside I’d probably at least have had the ritual performance of There Is A Tavern in the Town by now.

Diane in MN

I hope the bulk of the tedious hauling and even more tedious unpacking is done and you can all start to relax a bit.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  You know you crank yourself up for the actual move, and while you know there will be a long, tiring and frustrating aftermath—which will get longer, more tiring and more frustrating as the adrenaline rush from the adventure, however undesirable, of the startling physical relocation wears off—but you tend to forget the way EVERYTHING GOES WRONG.  Doorhandles fall off.  You may be able to prevent the local dogs from crapping in your driveway by keeping the gate shut, but the cats could care less.‡‡  You can’t find a wastebasket for your half loo.  THERE AREN’T ENOUGH SHELVES.‡‡‡  And British Telecom is possessed by demons.

Raphael did provide us with a booster for the feeble router which did what it was supposed to . . . BUT DEMONS ARE VERY RESOURCEFUL.

And, speaking of endlessly creative and resourceful demons, I have to go to bed.  I have to ring BT at eight o’clock tomorrow morning.  Unbearable joy.

* * *

* Dante was a bloke.  Very unlikely he knew anything about cleaning out kitchen drawers.^

^ Or about cling film.  Not much cling film in the late thirteenth century.

** Er . . .

*** Whimper.

† Says the woman who owns 1,000,000,000 pairs of All Stars and a few flowered Docs^.  But Peter isn’t like me.

^ And a pair of plain but blinding pink.

†† Although Peter tends to little jars and plastic containers accommodating three unidentifiable screws, a totally recognisable piece of tool except for having no idea what the tool is or whether the piece of it is CRUCIAL or broken-off and dead, and a fuse or a few batteries of unknown provenance.  Arrrgh.  I’m the box girl.  Also I worry about, you know, running out of things.^  Or that I won’t be able to get that kind I like any more, so I’d better buy several while they’re available.^^ This leads to . . . interesting, sometimes rather bulky, agglomerations.  Except for Peter’s UNSPEAKABLY VAST FRELLING TOOL COLLECTION, which is the size of Roumania, my hoards take up more room.

^ Remember that my impressive All Star collection began during that decade when All Stars were only something that old people nostalgic about their distant youth wore.  I bought All Stars in my size on sight.  The habit lingers.  And has, um, spread.  The big house was probably bad for my character.

^^ Like the three Redoute rose teabag tidies, right?  I WISH I’D BOUGHT MORE.

††† Peter:  Where is x?

Me:  I don’t know.  I probably threw it out.

Peter:  Okay, where is y?

Me:  I’m pretty sure I threw it out.

Peter:  Well, where is z?

Me:  I THREW IT OUT.

‡ Although palpitations in the sitting room—where the one lone phone connection is, as well as the piano—could have a variety of causes.  Remember I’d decided to stop hating BT because they were laying the new line for free if I agreed to buy broadband from them for two years?  I’VE CHANGED MY MIND.   We have a saga of epic BT squalor and consummate incompetence spoiling the carpets right now.  I think I’ll let it lurch and drool through another confrontation or two before I tell you about it.  Besides, at the moment, my blood pressure couldn’t stand it.

‡‡ I slipped the hellhounds at a cat standing in the middle of my driveway saying ‘make me’.  Cats never expect the speed of a sighthound and it was so busy running it missed its leap to the top of the fence and cartwheeled over.  Backwards.  I hope it is now considering the possibility of seeking pastures, and latrines, new.

‡‡‡ And there is no hanging space because this is a British house.^

^ Don’t know enough about Wales or Northern Ireland, but my limited experience of old Scottish houses is of another entirely hanging-closet-free society.

Oh hi blog

 

The last three days I’ve said TONIGHT I AM GOING TO BLOG.  And then by evening all my atoms have rolled over to the other side of the room again.  This house move business is not just a bear, it’s a large herd of hairy mammoths on the rampage.  Arrrgh.  And then of course, ducking tusks and coughing in the churned up dust and deafened by all the trumpeting, I get distracted by details like I NEED A WASTEBASKET FOR MY UPSTAIRS LOO.  Third House is significantly smaller than the mews so even having unloaded an entire lorry convoy of STUFF* we’re still kind of wedged in, and while technically the attic is my domain, in practise it’s full of STUUUUUUUUUFFFF** so I’ve got a little obsessive about . . . my half-loo, that is an entire toilet but nothing else but a sink, which is MINE, since no sane person is going to climb those stairs and risk permanent head injury from all the low ceiling angles*** when there’s a perfectly good whole bath which, furthermore, you can stand up in ALL of, downstairs.

But there is a problem.  Long-time blog readers may remember that I had Fun with Tiles when I put in the attic—which involved ripping the doodah out of a lot of the one full bathroom due to structural irregularities, so while I was at it I replaced the bath and put in some fancy tiles.  The fancy tiles I chose for the brand-new upstairs loo, while I adore them, happen to be cream, grey, gold and red.  The wastebasket from the half loo at the mews is pink.  Hot pink.  This clearly will not do.  At the moment there’s a blue and lavender wastebasket because one MUST have somewhere to throw used tissues and dental floss† but it gives me the fantods every time I go in there.  Of such things are obsessions made, at least if you’re at the extreme end of the standard human vision bias with lashings of OCD.

You’d think, in three, even small, houses full of rooms with wastebaskets, there would be one, somewhere, that I could swap out.  You’d be wrong.††  They’re all pink (!), rust or green.  And one blue and lavender.  Arrrgh.  You can find anything on line, right?  Again wrong.  You can’t find a non-boring, preferably floral-ish††† red based wastebasket . . . at least not if you don’t want to pay hundreds of pounds.  Did you know you could pay hundreds of pounds on a wastebasket?  Are you going to throw used tissues and dental floss‡ in something you paid HUNDREDS OF POUNDS FOR?  Not me.  But then I’m not going to spend the hundreds of pounds on a functionless wastebasket-shaped objet d’art either.  Where was a frelling Redoute-print plastic bin when I wanted one?‡‡

I was in DESPAIR.  I was wondering if I was going to be forced to buy one of those little basketry bins, which are fine, I guess, but not if what you want is red and decorative and worthy of those tiles. ‡‡‡

And then as a final throw I googled William Morris.  Sigh.  I have an awful lot of cheap knock-off William Morris because for those of us florally-fixated that’s often all there frelling is.§  AND LO.  One of the chief miscreants . . . I mean purveyors of housewares targeted at the people who want the have-nothing-in-your-house-you-do-not-know-to-be-useful-or-believe-to-be-beautiful§§ look without having to work at it or stray out of their comfort zone . . . have brought out a new line:  Morris’ strawberry thief . . . IN RED.§§§  INCLUDING WASTEBASKETS.

It’s on its way.  Maybe now I’ll get some sleep.#

* * *

* Including more books than I can bear to estimate.  Estate-wagon-full after estate-wagon-full after estate-wagon-full I can tell you because most of them got hauled away during those weeks the ME was stopping me driving, and whose silent uncomplaining removal is yet another star in the heavenly crowns of Nina and Ignatius, who are the ones with the estate wagon.

My poor cottage is nonetheless pretty well impassable with stuff . . . including dangerously towering piles of books.^  Sigh.  The kitchen, being the hellpack’s domain, only has books on shelves.  It’s the only room in the house that does.^^  One of these days there’s going to be an almighty roar as all the piles on the stairs domino themselves to the foot . . . and/or one morning [sic] I’m not going to be able to get out of bed when all the piles in the bedroom and the upstairs hall—and the bathroom and the ladder-stair to the attic—get caught in a crosswind, which till the weather turns cold and I start closing windows is unpleasantly likely.

^ Despite all the estate-wagon-fulls.  Nina did tell me that two of the (I think) four Oxfam book shops they were frequenting began to blanch when they saw them coming.

^^ Yes.  Including the bathroom.  And they can’t stay for long since between laundry drying on the overhead airer and a HOT bath in which to fall asleep+ every night it’s pretty steamy in there kind of a lot of the time.

+ Which means I’m getting at least a little sleep.

** And some time before the end of September I have to have it forced back into corners, against walls, in the under-eaves crawl spaces, under the gigantic but conveniently long thin table from the old house’s kitchen^ and my old small-double bed from Maine . . .so I can bring the frelling backlist home^^ after which influx I will probably only be able to get to the top of the attic stairs and stop, and the wastebasket in the then-unapproachable loo will become irrelevant.

^ Which is worth about £2.57 in real-world terms BUT I AM NOT GIVING IT UP.+

+ Hey.  It’s useful in the circs.  Which are of a long low wall.  And if you’re sleeping in the bed, shoved up against one narrow attic end, try not to sit up suddenly.

^^ We cleared out the big storage unit on Moving Day.  But I kept the little unit with the BOXES OF BOOKS in it to give us breathing and manoeuvring space.

*** The one dormer window, while I’m glad to have it, also confuses the issue.  If you’re in a simple triangular attic where the ceiling is a long narrow steeply pitched tunnel you know where you are.  I had to go and get fancy with a nice dormer window.  And a half loo.  Which means you never know when the ceiling is going to leap out and whack you.

† And possibly bloody bandages.  I don’t deal with STRESSSSSSS all that well and at the moment one of the manifestations is that I keep nicking myself when I’m cutting up chicken for the hellhounds possibly due to the prospect, hanging gibbering fantasmagorically in front of me, of their not eating it anyway.   I took a tiny—TINY—slip of skin off the top of my thumb a few nights ago and it bled and bled and bled and BLED AND BLED AND BLED and I thought the cops would probably arrest me because I had clearly murdered someone even if they couldn’t find the body.  I finally ended up with this giant egg-sized lump of every clean, absorbent, discardable bandage-like substance in the house first-aid-taped on the end of my thumb—what Penelope calls a Tom and Jerry bandage, and yes, I looked like a cartoon character who’d just hit her thumb with a hammer.  Fortunately it was my left thumb so I could still type.

†† Or you may be normal and not overly preoccupied with the colour-coding of wastebaskets.

††† Yes, all right, I have roses on the brain, but the tiles are stylised flower-ish.

‡ And hundreds of bloody bandages after you murder that really annoying neighbour.

‡‡  These would be perfect, for example, on the side of a nice small sturdy bathroom-sized bin.

The Royal Horticultural Society has occasional spasms into home decoration.  You can usually get tea towels but everything else is subject to the whim of . . . I don’t know who, but whoever they are, they need counselling.  They were offering (pink) Redoute print ‘teabag tidies’ as they’re generally called a few years ago—which I use to put my large strainer of loose tea in after it’s steeped my morning cuppa to an opaque black—these lasted a season and then ran away and have never been seen again.^  On the very off chance the RHS was currently having a bin spasm I typed ‘wastebasket’ in the search box on the gift shop site.  I promptly received the information that there were no results for ‘wastebasket’ but maybe I’d be interested in ‘russetbarked’?  Snork.^^

^ Fortunately I bought three.

^^ in ‘Broadleaved Evergreens for Temperate Climates’.  Not today, thanks.

§ Don’t speak to me of Cath Kidston.  My everyday knapsack is one of hers—with roses all over it—and I have the denim-blue pullover from a year or two ago with the roses on the front that sold out first go in about TWO SECONDS^ and I got one on reorder fast.

^ Because there are a lot of us pathetic retro types around, which is why Cath Kidston is now worth £1,000,000,000,000 and as multi-gazillion dollar/pound success stories go I like this one better than most, especially the part about how she was repeatedly laughed out of town when she was first trying to sell this girlie vintage-style stuff.

But she doesn’t have wastebaskets.  Of course I checked.

§§ I’ve always liked that believe.  You’re still out there in the cold making up your own minds, guys.

§§§ Totally inauthentic, as well as a total retread, although not recently that I’ve seen.  Never mind.

# Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.  Oh well.

My piano comes home

 

It is tragic the amount of fabulous blog material I’ve missed using the last five days or so.  For example the BT landline engineer on Thursday had just finished telling me that it couldn’t be done because the wiring was too old, or possibly because it had been plastered over irrecoverably when I hired a small army to create an attic out of a large crawl space, or at least it couldn’t be done till 2017 because they were going to have to rewire Hampshire first,* or at very least it couldn’t be done that day, as scheduled, because they were going to have to import a special lorry with a special hoist which was presently in Belgium, or possibly Tanzania, with which to approach sufficiently reverently the overhead wiring from 1878 which was, of course, made out of string,** and, in 2014, can use all the reverence it can get.  So he had just finished telling me this when his phone rang*** and it was his manager saying that his brother had rung from hospital WHERE THEY HAD TAKEN HIS FATHER AND HE SHOULD GO THERE NOW.   Oh dear . . .

They sent me another engineer.  Which is pretty impressive since this meant he would be working past closing time.  And he was a little cranky about this—he says he rarely sees his two-year-old except on weekends—but he was in no way taking it out on me and I have total sympathy with cranky.  And he found a hoist in, I don’t know, Berkshire or Essex or Norway or something, and it came*** and HE GOT THIRD HOUSE PLUGGED IN NOT ONLY TO THE TELEPHONE BUT TO WHAT PASSES FOR THE REAL WORLD ANY MORE, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN . . . well, at all, for the internet, but a number of years for the phone, because Third House had stood empty for quite a while before the heirs put it on the market.  And then it hung around on the market for another while because it was overpriced and I kept walking past and fretting, having been in to the estate agent and discovered that (a) it was WAAAAAAAY out of any semblance of my price range and (b) in the estate agent’s opinion it was overpriced, and I should bide myself in patience.†  And we know how that ended.  And then I got my knickers in a twist about the ‘several hundred pounds to lay new phone line’ thing.  Oh, and the great deal I was getting from BT?  That they’d lay the new line if I’d agree to buy their broadband for two years?  Is anyone amazed that it’s not all that good a deal?  I get one connection.  If I want, you know, extensions, I have to pay for them.  I get one connection with one underfrellingpowered router with built in wireless THAT IS SO FEEBLE IT WON’T REACH TO THE OTHER END OF THIS LITTLE HOUSE, LET ALONE INTO THE ATTIC.  ARRRRRRRRRRGH.  So we have wireless broadband (mostly††) in the sitting room.  Peter can’t even get it in his office which is about eight feet away.  ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH.

BUT I WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT MY PIANO.†††

I had asked Oisin and he’d said I should ask our mutual piano tuner about someone to move my darling, and the piano tuner clucked and said there was the less expensive option and the more expensive option and I said this is an old, heavy Steinway upright and I want her treated gently, and he said Sigurd of the Silver Doohickey was the bee’s knees of piano movers pretty much over the entire south of England but they were not cheap.  I rang Sigurd and they quoted a price that didn’t seem to me, the owner of an old heavy Steinway upright‡, all that remarkable, so I said yes and, furthermore, since what they do is move pianos and are always galloping back and forth across the south of England they managed to find me a slot for today . . . the first working day after the rest of the furniture went.

I will also at present leave out describing the amount of hauling of little stuff, from the mews to Third House, that has been going on both before and since Friday, and the sordid appallingnesses thus implacably revealed‡‡.  TODAY I was at the mews at 2 pm awaiting Cinderella’s coach with the reinforced suspension, the turbo jets and the crane.

This rather mild-mannered van rolled into the courtyard at 2:15.  It was bigger than your average White Van Man van but looking at it you didn’t immediately think panzer division, although it did say SIGURD OF THE SILVER DOOHICKEY SPECIALIST PIANO MOVER on all visible surfaces.  And three young laconic guys dropped out of it and strolled in a deeply cool manner to the front door.  In hindsight I suspect they were waiting to find out if I was going to be a Fainting in Coils type who would need to be managed but my first thirty seconds’ impression was not particularly positive.  Whatever.  Sigurd is the best, these guys must know what they’re doing.

I started to come round to them when they viewed the situation calmly, and the mews is not exactly set up for the easy moving of old heavy upright pianos, and there had been a fair amount of drama from the gang who had brought her.  One of these guys fetched one little skateboardy rolling thing and the other two started edging my darling out of her corner.  The one with the most tats—who fetched the skateboard—acknowledged that he was a hired gun and the other two were the Real Piano Movers.  They looked so, you know, normal.  Until the bigger of the two simply LIFTED one end of my piano a good eighteen frelling inches off the floor so they could start working the skateboard under.‡‡‡  Eeeeeep.

Well, they loaded her up and slid her across the floor and DOWN THE HORRIBLE LITTLE STEEP FRONT STEPS with only a titanium alloy ramp and the two blokes to keep her where she belonged, and the third guy scampering around adding stability where requested.  And while the two blokes waited for the third one to lower the tailgate ramp lift thing I said, I know there’s this mythology about heavy upright pianos and everybody thinks theirs is the heaviest, so, tell me, on a scale of upright pianos, where does this one go?  And they laughed—a little breathlessly, I’m happy to say—and replied, this model is the heaviest upright Steinway ever built which is to say this is the heaviest upright piano ever built.  A lot of full size concert grands weigh less than this piano, they said.

Oh.  This probably explains why Sigurd was so careful to ask for model number . . . and why they had the third bloke along today.  And I guess the van is the extra super reinforced concrete suspension Cinderella’s carriage.

So we trundled down to Third House and I, fool that I am, assumed that the worst was over, except for the part about how the sitting room would suddenly be Very Full of Piano once she was in.  NEVER MIND.  Atlas had cut back the clematis montana over the garden gate so you can actually get through without bending double and/or being strangled, and my piano and attendants came through with a flourish and swooped around to get a straight shot at the front door.  My hero looked at the door, looked at me and said, you did measure the door, didn’t you?

MEASURE THE DOOR?  IT’S A DOOR.  LIKE ANY OTHER DOOR . . . I was literally clutching my head at this point.

My hero looked at the door again, shook his head and said, I don’t think it’s going to go through.  They didn’t even use the ramp this time, they just kept picking her up over the steps.  What do they feed these boys?

AND SHE DIDN’T FIT THROUGH THE DOOR.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHH

They were still so calm.  Well, this must happen all the time.  Stupid clueless people who assume that one ordinary front door is like another ordinary front door.  So they looked at the new situation—calmly—while I tried not to fall down in fits (or coils) and start gnawing on the outdoor furniture which looks very nice on the lawn here, by the way.

We’ll take the door off, said my hero.  I think if we just take the bottom off§ we can bring the piano in backwards and swing it around inside.

Which is what happened.  It was still a terrifyingly tight squeeze, and while they had her padded with blankets the frelling plastic door frame squealed unnervingly.  BUT SHE CAME THROUGH THE DOOR THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.  And they swung her around like doing the do-si-so—the so-called fitted carpet didn’t cooperate with this manoeuvre but along with the screwdriver as standard equipment for removing doors they’re also accustomed to what they call correcting the carpet—stood her up against the wall and . . . the sitting room is a trifle full of piano but it’s not actually as FRELLING SQUASHED LOOKING as I was afraid it would be.  And the really great thing?  Both the inner sitting room door and the outer door—the one that came off and that they put back on again because they are polite young gentlemen as well as major beefcake—into the garden OPEN ALL THE WAY.  With like three-quarters of an inch to spare, both sides.  Three quarters of an inch is all we need.

MY PIANO IS HOME.§§

* * *

* Which is probably true.  There’s all this bluster about getting Hampshire super-fast broadband and the first swathe happens next year.  Uh-huh.  We’re in the swathe for 2017.  And have I mentioned they’re building houses in this town faster than a hammer can fall on a nail?^  And that the broadband we have is grinding slowly to a dead halt as more and more people sign up?  And let’s not even talk about traffic and parking and the way you sometimes can’t get through the centre of town on foot.^^

^Possibly because they don’t use hammers and nails in house-building any more.  That’s so two centuries ago.+

+ Also because England deforested itself of suitable house-building trees more centuries ago than that.  They may still use hammers and nails in Maine.

^^ Especially not with totally clueless four-legged companions.  You’d think the hellhounds would have learnt to look both ways by now.  Pav, eh.

** Copper-impregnated galvanized string.  They don’t make string like they used to.

*** I’m beginning to forget what life was like before mobile phones.  Not in a good way.  I still consider Pooka back up not the main event.  And maybe in retaliation she decided the end of last week TO BE UNRELIABLE FOR A FEW DAYS.^  So I’m leaving messages all over the landscape DON’T USE MY MOBILE USE MY LANDLINE and . . . I have two messages on my landline, neither of them important, and about twenty seven on Pooka, most of which won’t pick up.  What is the MATTER with people?^^

My very best example however of the profound basic demon-possessed infuriatingness of mobile phones happened only this morning.  I was out with hellhounds.  Chaos had just Assumed the Position to have a crap at the edge of the pedestrian pavement.  Mildly embarrassing, with people streaming by, but not a big deal.  Not like it hasn’t happened before:  we frelling live in the centre of town.  I was focussed on him, getting my little black plastic bag out and so on, and glanced over my shoulder to check that Darkness wasn’t doing anything he shouldn’t.  AND DISCOVERED THAT HE HAD ASSUMED THE POSITION IMMEDIATELY IN FRONT OF THE DOOR OF THE BARD AND OPHARION.

And Pooka started barking.

And Peter’s favourite bridge partner’s wife walked by, started to say hello and burst out laughing.

Oh, and the person who was ringing?  WAS SOMEONE I HAD TOLD TO USE MY LANDLINE.  I told her I’d ring her back.  That’s fine, she chirruped.  I’ve rung her five? six? seven? times over the course of the rest of the day . . . and she’s never at her desk, in her office or on the radar.  Possibly because her digital exchange says, ooooh, landline, how retro, and her assistant says, landline?  We don’t want to talk to any clumsy vulgar landline, we don’t do string anyway.

^ Or more than a few.  We don’t know yet.  Raphael remonstrated with her briefly today but he had his hands full trying to bring the frelling BT frelling broadband frelling crap router to heel.  Note:  he failed.

^^ I’m not going to ask what’s the matter with Pooka.  That way madness lies.

*** The driver doesn’t see his kids except on weekends either.

PATIENCE?  YOU’RE KIDDING, RIGHT?

†† I’m not even going to start on this epic.  Raphael is coming back later in the week.  Maybe then.

††† There were epics on Friday, of course, but our loyal movers—this is now the third or fourth, depending on how you’re counting, time they’ve moved us.  We all call each other by name and say ‘hi’ in the street, you know?  Small local family firms.  Salt of the earth.  Adore, adore—were fabulous.  As they have always been fabulous.

‡ People go all faint when they see she’s a Steinway.^  As I keep saying, she was cheaper than a lot of mediocre new pianos and who wouldn’t have a Steinway if that’s the choice??  I’ve told you the story of how I bought her, haven’t I?  Another of my epics.

^ The logo is usually covered up by my music rack.

‡‡ And that the chief reason I haven’t blogged before today is that I’ve either been racing around like a crazy woman or collapsed in a weepy little puddle of ME on the nearest horizontal surface, floor, ground, hellhound bed, hellhound(s), whatever.  The ME is not exactly behaving itself, but I’m getting a certain amount of stuff done . . . and Nina and Ignatius are so golden.  I don’t know what we’d be doing without them.  They were here a couple of days earlier last week, they were here Friday, they had the temerity to take the weekend off^, were here again today and are coming back tomorrow.

^ Nina, who is clearly insane, booked some holiday to help her dad move and Ignatius has one of these all or nothing jobs and he’s in a mostly nothing phase at the moment.

‡‡‡ Let me say that I am glad to admit that I stopped finding young guys hot some years ago.  They’re so . . . you know, young.  I like the old beat-up ones that look like we might have stuff in common to, ahem, talk about.   But I might make an exception for this chap.  He is not that big and he’s not that bulky although you look at him and guess you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side in a pub brawl . . . but I’ve never liked the ripped gym-bunny look even when I was young.  I had a serious case of the hots for my blacksmith, many years ago when I had a horse, because he had major muscles from USE, you know?  The definition wasn’t much because he wasn’t doing gazillions of specialist curls but he was strong and I’ve always kind of swooned for strong, especially the easy-going, almost careless, strong-because-it’s-part-of-the-job-description kind of strong.  Also, turned out, once I apparently wasn’t going to turn into a Fainting in Coils, today’s hero has a really nice smile.  I hope his main squeeze appreciates him.

§ Here’s one of those big fat juicy ironies.  I hated the old plastic door and have rarely been as happy as when Atlas finally got around to putting the wooden stable-style door in that I’d bought yonks ago but there’s only one of Atlas and Peter or I keep pulling him off one thing to do something else.  But finally . . . YAAAAAAAY.  NICE DOOR IMPROVING GARDEN SIDE VIEW OF NICE HOUSE not to mention Aura of Sitting Room Within.  But if it had been the nasty old plastic door today the piano would have fit through it.  Because of the frame that the old door left behind—and which would have been an expensive ratbag to replace—Atlas had to install the new door slightly, um, in.  Thus narrowing the entrance/egress part of the deal.  Which I’d never really registered.  My bad.  Uggggh.  Disaster narrowly averted.

§§ And if this blog is a little less coherent than usual, well, forgive me, it’s been a rough week. . . .

Weather, myalgic encephalomyelitis and hellcritters

 

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

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

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

* * *

* There I go again, being a good Christian.

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

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

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

*** ::shudder::

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further anecdotes of an imperfect week*: relapse two

 

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

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

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

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

She didn’t.

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

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

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

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.

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