January 4, 2017

3 January 2017*

 

It’s our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Even if only one of us is here to celebrate it.

Sigh.*

But I didn’t want you to think that I have been totally unvisited by the Christmas Spirit. Indeed there was an unexpected assault of Christmas Spirit a day or two before Christmas.  We each reeled back from the encounter stunned.  I think the Spirit was misled by the presence of Christmas trees. Yes.

Little bitty Christmas tree.

I think this is your first glimpse of the Lodge? Downstairs it’s a long skinny essentially-one-room, the sitting room, which this is, the narrow end facing the street, and a long skinny added-on-as-civilisation-entered-the-mod-con-era kitchen at the back end, behind me as I take this photo.  I have yet to convince the hellmob that this apparent raceway has not been appended to our regular habitation for the specific purpose of providing them with an indoor exercise arena.  The hellhounds can be suppressed after a minute or two.**  The hellterror, not so much but I’m working on it.*** Yes, that’s my piano, murkily in the background.  Draped with tinsel.†  These are actually the Boxing Day presents for other people, but still, you know, PRESENTS.††  MANIFESTATION OF CHRISTMAS SPIRIT.

Even littler bittier Christmas tree.

And these are MY presents at the cottage. Which if the truth be known I still haven’t opened.†††  See:  Sigh.  I’m thinking maybe on the 7th, when the memorial service anniversary is over with too.

At least the shortest frelling day is PAST for another year. Daylight is GOOD.  I’m looking forward to MORE of it. ‡

* * *

* Yes. This should have gone up last night.  You’re getting used to this dorky new system, aren’t you?  I hope?

* Breathing counts as celebrating^, right? Plus another few kilos of Brussels sprouts?^^

^ Well okay I celebrated.  I bought yarn at one of the gazillion on line New Year’s sales that are happening right now.  I need yarn, of course.  Like I need more books. But it’s PRETTY.+  And I spent less money on new yarn than it would have cost Peter and me to go out for a nice dinner, especially an especially-nice dinner ON OUR TWENTY FIFTH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY.

Siiiiiigh.

+ That’s what yarn is for, right? To be PRETTY?  Oh . . . knitting.  That too.#

# Stash Beyond Life Expectancy.  Ahem.

^^ I have a hellterror at my feet in a daze of bliss. SHE WAS PERMITTED TO LICK THE GOOSE PLATTER.+  I thought she might die of joy.++  She’s asleep now, dreaming, no doubt, of this indescribable peak experience and wondering if it will ever happen again. Well, yes, next year, God willin’ and the crick don’t rise.

+ The really interesting part of the operation was cramming all the frelling bones in my slow cooker. Someone on the forum said she wants to try spatchcocking a goose. Good luck honey.  Let us know how that goes.  I was wrestling the already cooked and stripped carcase and thinking THIS BLOODY BIRD HAS BONES LIKE A RHINOCEROS WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SLENDER HOLLOW BONES OF BIRDS SO THEY CAN FRELLING FLY?  Okay this is a big fat bred-for-the-table domestic goose and maybe it waddled. Maybe there are mini kitchen chainsaws for spatchcocking large fowl.  In a tasteful assortment of decorator colours and a free pack of cocktail sticks with every purchase.  I’m sure Jamie Oliver can spatchcock a goose.  Daniel Craig can spatchcock a condor. With a cocktail stick.

I did eventually attain a sort of splintery origami and got the bones crammed into the crock pot. This should be very intense stock.  Meanwhile the bowl of goose scraps looks pretty fine.  Goose. Mmmmm.

++ Darkness was upstairs crashed out on the only (relatively) clear space of floor in my office, but Chaos was about six inches away in the hellhound crate and so far as I know he didn’t even blink. Any normal dog would, first, recognise the sounds of a plate being put on the floor in dog reach and, second, if he was of two minds whether it was worth investigating, would have further recognised the tiny broken moans of inexpressible ecstasy the hellterror was making.#

# Would she have objected to sharing the bounty? I doubt it.  I’ve told you she’s surprisingly good at maintaining her assigned space at the bottom of the hierarchy and I’ve discovered this year, and while I wouldn’t trust her without my evil eye upon her, when the hellhounds are having a No We’re Not Eating This Week spell she will leave their untouched food alone. I find this nothing short of miraculous.~  But if Chaos had come to join in the goose-platter fun what she would have done is gone into hyperdrive to nail all the good bits before Chaos, in his mild, ambling manner, finished getting his head around the situation.~~

~ Mind you there is a lot of yearning. She will also, when it gets to be Too Much, go stand by the bar stool that is my desk chair in the kitchen, under which is where, when by some arcane magic the hellhounds have deigned to eat after all, I put their bowls because this is where and ONLY where she is allowed to slurp out the crumbs.@  We arrived at this compromise after some nerve racking experimentation.  She feels that the state of ‘crumbs’ begins at about two-thirds of a full bowl.  THEY’VE HAD THEIR CHANCE.  IT MUST BE HER TURN. Um.  No.  To give her credit, she took my strictures about this in good part.  She was pretty sure it was too good to be true. . . . But for a stomach on legs she does very well.

@ There are always crumbs with the hellhounds.

~~However. The latest development in inter-critter relations and hazards to hellgoddess sanity is that Chaos has developed a taste for cheese rind.  I’ve been saving these from the beginning because I knew the hellterror would totally get off on cheese rind (yes).  But I’ve told you that Chaos occasionally checks that I’m not dropping anything too interesting on the floor for the hellterror.@  So a few days ago I tried him on a bit of cheese rind.  You could see the synapses fire and the eyes focus. Yes. So now when Chaos gets under my feet—and just by the way THERE IS NOT ENOUGH ROOM for both a hellhound and a hellterror to mill around me in the chopping-board corner between the sink and the Aga—I have the interesting challenge of trying to provide cheese rind for both participants.@@  That is, each participant.  I know, I know, I could frelling train her to sit and wait—because she does both sit and wait, as when I’m putting food in her crate, the drooling and the trembling are her permissible artistic augmentations to this scenario—but that takes it to a whole new frelling level, and meanwhile Chaos would lose interest and there would be language. So at the moment—remember that Pav can count to four?—I sprinkle hers at a tiny distance and make the fourth one just a little harder to find and while SHE’S LOOKING FOR THAT FOURTH SCRAP SHE KNOWS THERE IS A FOURTH SCRAP, I formally offer Chaos his single, larger scrap which he accepts and chews thoughtfully.  When I get it right, he swallows just as Pav races back round the counter-corner and slams into my leg.

REMIND ME WHY I HAVE DOGS.

Because they make me fun to watch.

@ He just wasn’t in the MOOD for a goose platter. He hadn’t eaten his supper, of course, but when I went to bed—the hellterror safely crated for the night—he was busy extracting the tiny shreds of goose buried among the kibble and tinned food.=  Darkness usually goes along with the schmooze of human-food scraps mixed in with the dog food although you can see him doing the canine equivalent of eye-rolling.  Not Chaos.  Prehensile lips, that dog.

= Yes I know the old dog-training chestnut that you only leave the food down half an hour and if the dog doesn’t eat it you pick it up again and it thus learns that it must eat when you say so.  And I reply to this: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  Whoever this joker was, he never dealt with sighthounds.

@@ With reference to how inconvenient critter intelligence can be, I’m waiting for her to figure out that I stop dropping apple, carrot and broccoli stem and start dropping cheese rind if Chaos is there too.  I can imagine the conversation:

Pav: Pssst. She’s chopping stuff. If we go hang out we can get cheese rind.

Chaos: I’m sleeping.

Pav: No you’re not. Cheese rind.  You LIKE cheese rind.

Chaos: Mmmm . . . zzzzzzzzzzz.

Pav: CHEEEEEEEEESE RIIIIIIIIIIIND.

Chaos: [Does the hellhound opening one eye thing]   Hmmm?

Pav: CHEEEEEEEEEESE RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIND.

Chaos: Oh.  Oh.  Yeah.  Okay.  [Floats to feet because, since he doesn’t eat, he doesn’t weigh anything, and drifts after earthbound hellterror toward resigned hellgoddess]

** And yes, you are also glimpsing a tangled riot of dog bedding blankets at the foot of all those boxes of backlist.

*** The additional complexity of the situation is provided by the fact that Damien lives next door and the hellmob tend to give voice when they are freaking out, and I don’t want to add to the already sulphuric fires about critter vocalese at the Lodge.  At the cottage, while racing back and forth from kitchen and sitting room does occur with the occasional hunting cry^, I allow one or two audible manifestations of having a good time before I tell them to shut up.  I can afford to allow a little brief indulgence at the cottage, where the only next-door critter in residence is Smiley, who doesn’t take my mob seriously.^^

^ It’s a huge red mark against any hunting dog, including sighthounds, that they bark on track of quarry.  Just by the way.

^^ and I’m CAREFUL to keep it that way.

† One of the things about going from a Very Large House to a series of ever-smaller houses is that you have PLENTY OF THINGS LIKE TINSEL FROM WHEN YOU HAD 1,000,000 OF HALLS TO FESTOON.^  I am busy promising myself^^ that when I take the trees down again^^^ I will sort through the 1,000,000,000 boxes of Christmas decorations that I still seem to have although I SWEAR I had a good clear out at the mews.  I. SWEAR.

^ I had a bad moment winding tinsel up the stair uprights however. I have a short stretch of open stair railings at the cottage—and we had them at the mews, not really at Third House—but not since the old house has the stair been centrally located, and the railings at the cottage are pretty much invisible under a heavy infestation of knitting project bags. Winding tinsel up the balusters at the Lodge I had one of those flashbacks. . . .

^^ Ha hahahahahahaha

^^^ February? May?

†† And the worst? The absolutely, unbelievably WORST?  Signing the gift cards ‘love, Robin’.  Just Robin.  Robin, all by herself.

††† Friends who delivered gifts in person, I opened these, sure. Because the friends were there. Also one or two utterly mysterious parcels in the post.  Some of these ‘deliver to another address’ web sites need to work on their gift card supply programme.

‡ I could do without this winter weather. Or I could do with a town council that takes its responsibilities seriously. You know, like gritting the frelling ROADS?  I made the mistake of coming home from morning Mass by the back way last week—and this was past ten-thirty, for pity’s sake, because I’d stuck around after to pester monks—and was fishtailing all over the flipping doodah road.  And I didn’t make it to Mass at all yesterday because my cul de sac was black ice and getting the hellmob hurtled was quite challenging enough, Wolfgang stayed in his stall.  So to speak.  And while the furries and I are out slithering^ I keep seeing sand trucks speeding by with large signs attached to their rear ends declaring SPREADING.  I have yet to see them doing anything but ripping about the landscape promulgating misinformation.

So far the main roads are not too awful. I have a lot of late shifts at the Sams to get to and from safely, thank you.  And while Wolfgang is a noble fellow, they don’t make yaktrax for tyres.  And snow tyres in southern England should be overdoing it.  I hope.

^ This weather makes it harder to convince them that the Lodge is not their private gym.

 

Ten four

 

It’s the hellhounds’ tenth birthday today.  TEN YEARS OLD.  DOUBLE DIGITS.  How time flies whether you’re having fun or not.

Family portrait

Family portrait

That’s a cat, off to the right.  Which is why their leads are still on.  They (conveniently) really dislike running with their leads bumbling along behind them.*  The churchyard has two resident cats:  the nice one and the troll.  This is the troll.  Also Chaos is lame and has the brain of a burrito, and if the troll started doing his evil troll dance Chaos would be after him and those of us who live with him are already frelling hostage to his drama queen performances–I’m sure he is genuinely lame, but how lame might be open to interpretation–I do not want to live with him after he’s done himself in worse by chasing an evil troll who, having achieved his nefarious aim, has gone over the churchyard wall.

And, because I managed to miss Pav’s fourth birthday earlier in the month, here is an exemplary photo of a hellterror sunbathing:

She might like a tummy rub

She might like a tummy rub

Extra chicken jerky all round tonight.  Chicken jerky because it’s about the only thing in the known universe that the hellhounds consider an exciting edible.

* * *

* The hellterror does not care.  CAT!  CAT!  CATCATCATCATCAT!  There’s a lead with a big fat plastic handle that is almost as big as I am dragging after me because the hellgoddess lost the plot for two seconds?^  NEVER MIND.  I SHALL LEVITATE.

^ Possibly because she was pursuing some other plot, and that hand was flexing in a sword-holding, reins-grasping, steering-wheel gripping, spell-casting or villain-strangling manner.

Talking to my husband

Maybe they thought I was talking to the rose.

                                                                                                                Maybe they thought I was talking to the rose.*

I got caught talking to Peter for the first time the other day. That I know of, I mean.  I’ve been talking to him in the churchyard, of course, since the unnecessarily grand ashes box went into the ground, what, is it three weeks ago now?  Even if it’s no more than hey, how’s it going, as some hurtle-shift or other passes at speed because I’m late, as usual, for the next thing, whatever it is, I still take a loop off the main path to say hello and check how the current rose is doing.*  So half the town may already be aware that the Dickinson widow chats to her husband, but then, she’s a little loony, maybe it’s being an American?**

But the first time I noticed being caught talking to Peter was a few days ago.  When I told this to a friend she said drily, who was more embarrassed?  Well, at the time, I would have said the honours were about even *** but by the time I was taking the hellhounds and my red face briskly in the opposite direction I was thinking wait a minute.  This is a churchyard. This must happen all the time!  People talking to their departed beloveds† in cemeteries!††  Meanwhile I’d better get used to being caught because it’s going to happen again.  And again.  My friend suggested that part of my discoverers’ shock was just that this was happening immediately off the main, well travelled, path through the churchyard—there’s perhaps an unconscious assumption that people who are going to speak to the dead are going to do it in the tucked-away parts of churchyards.  And this churchyard has tucked-away places.  I originally thought I’d want to have him in one of those, but I changed my mind.†††  I like him where I’m going to walk past him every day.  And my friend—who knew Peter—agreed.  That’s the path he walked on every day to go buy his newspaper.‡  And he was always interested in what was going on, what people were doing.  It’s a good spot.

Sigh.

* * *

* This is supposed to be a CAPTION.

* Some day it will NOT be a rose. Some day.  Not today.  Not tomorrow.  Probably not next week either.  Although if our little village florist ever had really fabulous sunflowers the day the current rose needs replacing I might well go for a fabulous sunflower . . . which would probably look very peculiar in the plastic spike-vase . . . eh.  The unexpected confusions of looking after a grave.  But it’s not like it’s something you think ahead about.  What I Will Do If I Ever Have An Important Grave to Look After.  We even knew that the statistical probability was very strong that I would be looking after his grave some day.  Did we think about it?  No.^  Also, you don’t get cut clematis the way you get cut roses—clematis are just not a cut-flower plant.  And Peter being a clematis man leaves me free to do my worst.  Which means roses.  And maybe a sunflower once a year.

^ There is an argument that Peter knew perfectly well that I would buy a spike-vase and put roses in it, and didn’t see the need to say anything.

** The country that has elected Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for the presidency, greater, hair-tearing, teeth-grinding, shrieking proof of national looniness is not possible.

I’m also a fantasy writer of course, but I don’t think most of the locals pay this any attention. My being an American is in your face—or your ear—the minute I say anything.  Most of them don’t task me with Trump, however.  Maybe they can see the blood in my eye if they unwarily attempt to bring politics into the conversation.  Maybe they just realise I must be a liberal, I wear All Stars.

People are funny though.^ There are people I would have expected to phone me occasionally or put a postcard through the door or something, saying ‘thinking of you, hope you’re doing okay’ or thereabouts.  I don’t need casseroles^^ and I don’t go to parties^^^ but contact might have been nice.  Which in some cases isn’t happening.  Oh.  Okay.  It’s not like I don’t have friends who are keeping a close eye on me^^^^.  The cold draught I constantly feel is about absence of Peter, not absence of friends and friendly support.^^^^^  And some people I would not have expected to take an interest, do.  Still.  Odd.

^ Make a note.

^^ Which would almost certainly be full of things I can’t eat anyway

^^^ Except I am going to one on Wednesday. A cocktail party. A large cocktail party.  I have clearly taken leave of my few remaining senses.  But it’s being held at the beautiful old country house where we had Peter’s memorial and I want to go back there for the first time since then and get it over with.  And it is a beautiful old country house with glorious parkland, and I shall wear All Stars and having had my token glass of . . . mineral water and said hello to at least three people, I shall go for a walk before Wolfgang takes me home.

^^^^ YES I’M EATING. But as I’ve said before, eliminate meat, sugar and alcohol—and butter, my one remaining dairy product—and it suddenly becomes surprisingly difficult not to lose weight.  Especially if you were a serious sugar junkie, which I was.+  Aggravated in my case by the fact that I’m an ex-fat person who learnt to deal with the fact that I gain weight easily and had what I thought was an ineradicable addiction to chocolate and other sweet things, including remarkable amounts of sugar in my remarkably strong black tea, AND champagne.  So my mindset for the last forty years has been the ‘push yourself away from the table while you’re still hungry I mean NOW’ thing to make room for the sugar and the chocolate and the butter and the champagne, and a cemented-in for additional security mindset is HARD to change after forty years.  So I keep having these conversations with myself that go, wait, you’re not going to eat ALL those nuts, are you?  Nuts are VERY HIGH CALORIE.  —YES. EAT THE NUTS.  EAT ALL THE NUTS.  YOU CAN FRELLING USE THE CALORIES.  Wait, no, no, you aren’t going to eat an entire avocado, are you?  YES.  I AM.  I AM GOING TO EAT AN ENTIRE AVOCADO.

+ And yes, I thought I was going to endure the tortures of the damned, eliminating sugar. I didn’t.  I get a little WISTFUL# sometimes but major cravings and all that?  Nope.  My body I guess was just ready.  It’s a lot more of a grown-up than the rest of me.

# You know what I really miss? Being able to treat myself.  A hard afternoon sweating through the ‘two for one’ table at Waterstones and I want a sit-down and a cup of tea before I go home.  Green tea is now fashionable enough that it’s usually not too difficult finding a tea shop that serves green.  But I can’t do the sticky cake any more.  And it’s not the cake I miss nearly so much, it’s the treat. If you follow me.  At least if I go with someone they can have the sticky cake and the shop needn’t feel it’s wasting its table on me.

^^^^^ WHICH I TOTALLY, ABSOLUTELY, GROVELLINGLY APPRECIATE.  This directed at anyone reading this blog who is wondering sadly if I’m ever going to acknowledge their card/letter/email.  Yes.  You’re on the list.   Eight months is nothing, I’m afraid, to a disorganised, ME-riddled loony.+

+ I probably shouldn’t admit this, but speaking of disorganised loonies, yesterday I discovered a little cache of letters I wrote in . . . March.  That ahem didn’t get sent ahem.  Sigh.

*** I don’t know whether it’s a good or a bad thing that I’ve never seen them before. It’s tourist season and it’s a pretty churchyard.  I was adding local colour. And the hellhounds are very decorative.  If I want an actual chat I take the hellhounds.  Pav isn’t so great at hanging out.  Although she has recently taken to hucklebutting like a dervish in the little clear space in front of Peter’s grave, which I hope he is finding entertaining.

† Of whatever kind, variety, relationship or flavour

†† It happens in the graveyard where Miri’s grandfather is buried, in Hellhound.

††† And fortunately the vicar agreed.  Thank you, God.  Thank you, lovely vicar.

‡ My little cul de sac is kind of around the corner from the churchyard, although it’s a short corner. Third House really is slap on the other side of the churchyard from the centre of town.  Have I told you that one of the weirder comments from a potential house buyer was that she really liked the house ‘but it was too near the churchyard’? What? She reads too much Stephen King or something?

Today

P1070093

 

Not counting poor Third House I now have three gardens:  the four-burner Aga size behind the cottage, the hall cupboard large enough for one unlined raincoat and a pair of All Stars if you pile one on top of the other size behind the Lodge, and a ragged grassy square about the size of the palm of my hand* in a corner between two ancient, falling-down sarcophagi in the churchyard twenty seconds from my front door.   Since Peter was a clematis man I’m eyeing  the sarcophagi and wondering if anyone would mind if I planted a clematis next to the gravestone–there will be a gravestone eventually–and tossed it over them as it got going.  One each possibly.  I’m afraid to ask what the rules about churchyard planting are since I’m sure I won’t like them.

I do have photos from yesterday but I think they may be maudlin.  If I decide they aren’t maudlin I’ll think about posting them next 26 July.  This one is probably maudlin too but I’m incapable of believing that a photo of a red rose is ever inappropriate**.   Something I didn’t tell you yesterday because I was already too deranged is that I threw my wedding bouquet in the bottom of the hole before the box went in.***  My bouquet was the one a-little-bit sad thing about our wedding:  we left for London almost immediately after the registrar finished declaring us husband and wife so I only had it about two hours;  we’d only picked it up on our way to the registrar’s office.  But I knew I wanted to dry it so I could keep it, so I hung it upside-down in the kitchen before we left, and it was toast by the time we got back.†   It’s been sitting in a particular china pitcher for the last twenty four and a half years but I knew I wanted to bury it with him.††  Although that empty pitcher is now very eye-catching.

I wanted to say one more thing about all of this.  I’m not mythologizing–much.  I’m telling you the truth–my truth–about death and grief the way I have always tried to tell you the truth about anything I write here:  but all public blog truths are consciously selective truths and I’m a professional writer.  Peter was not a perfect human being and you already know with knobs on that I’m not a perfect human being.  In some very important ways we were a gloriously, life-enhancingly, ridiculously well-matched couple.  In some other very important ways we didn’t get on at all.  Everyone is a control freak about something, and our control freakeries did not integrate well.  And I’m stubborn, but I have nothing on Peter;  I keep remembering that I called him ‘monolithic’ in my memorial piece.  Yes.  I’m (ahem) volatile and (ahem) reactive, not to say overreactive, um, yes, let’s say overreactive, and Peter was a proper British gentleman who reverted to type under stress.  As I grieve I am not remembering a halcyon, glittering marriage with twinkling stars and fluffy bunnies–NO BUNNIES–with twinkling stars and dancing centaurs with rhinestone-studded hooves††† that went on and on in days full of unbroken golden sunlight‡ and the smell of roses, even in January.  And the last two years were grim.  But we loved each other and we did our best.  And I miss him horribly.

* * *

* I have big hands.

** Or a pink rose, or a white rose, or . . .

*** I’d been expecting some little cardboard number, just something to transport the ashes to the ground where they could become one with tree roots and earthworms, but it was this disturbingly classy wooden box with a plaque with his name on it.  Eeep.  It looks like the kind of thing you keep on the mantelpiece to discourage visitors.  If ash receptacles were discussed when we were first arranging the funeral, including indecorous details like the practical disposal of a dead body, I completely spaced on it, but I’m doing a lot of that.  We got the British-made woven-willow coffin right, and the flowers, and that’s what counts to me.

† We had dinner at a blisteringly grand restaurant in Knightsbridge that doesn’t seem to exist any more and I kept looking across the table and thinking, you mean I get to keep him?, spent the night at the Ritz, yah hoo whammy^, spent another night in London to go to the opera^^ and then drove to Cornwall for the rest of our honeymoon.  I’ve told you this story, right?  Peter said, so, where would you like to go for the honeymoon?  France?  Italy?  Japan?  Er, I said.  Cornwall?

^ They give you a bottle of complementary champagne if you say you’ve just got married.^  I still have the bottle.  You’re not surprised, I hope.

^ I assume they check?  Otherwise this system seems to me rife with possibility of misuse by the champagne-loving crowd who can afford the Ritz’s prices.  Spend £1,000,000,000 on a room and get a £50 bottle of champagne FREE!

^^ Turandot, because that’s what was on, not because I wanted to see Turandot, the plot of which makes me chew the wallpaper particularly hard.  I’m reasonably sure I’ve done a Turandot rant on these pages.  But, you know, opera, on your honeymoon.  Yessssssss.  Hey, it wasn’t me!  Peter suggested it!  Because he was lovely and adorable and kind and thoughtful when he wasn’t being totally frelling impossible.

†† Note that dried flowers as they get older and frailer, because I didn’t treat these with anything that would make them last, become increasingly undustable, and removing sticky cobwebs?  Forget it.

††† You may have guessed I didn’t get enough sleep last night.

‡ This was happening in England after all.

Happy Birthday* to Meeeeeeeeee** rererererererererererere[50 more times]visited . . .

 

Peter has asked me, several times and a little anxiously, over the last few days, if I was up for going out on my birthday.  YES.  I MEAN, I DON’T KNOW IF I’M UP OR NOT BUT I’M GOING.***  NEVER MIND THE FOOD, I WANT MY CHAMPAGNE.

The food was good too.†

And the flowers were excellent.

And the flowers were excellent.

That’s our tablecloth because I thought I wouldn’t shoot off my flash in the face of the lively and interesting family party at the next table and waited till I got home where the crashed-out hellmob don’t care.  But  I recognise our table on my birthday because of the flowers waiting for us.  Peter goes in to the florist’s next door and says ‘pink’.  Since we go to this restaurant every year the florist is probably learning to recognise him.

There is an art to taking selfies and it is not one of my arts.

There is an art to taking selfies and it is not one of my arts.

 

Although, speaking of going to the same restaurant, regular blog readers will probably recognise the mirror frame in the ladies’.  [Oops.  I’ve edited it out.  Next year.]  But they have installed an OBNOXIOUS NEW LIGHTING FIXTURE that is unromantic in the extreme and that my peculiar posture is trying to disguise.

 

Mainly what this looks like is a bad case of over-Vaselined lens.

Mainly what this looks like is a bad case of over-Vaselined lens.

 

She’s sixty-two today, you know.  She might want a lot of Vaseline on the lens.

Is this absolutely too frelling adorable or what?

Is this absolutely too frelling adorable or what?

And my favourite present.  Remember I went to a Spectacular Yarn Fair last March with Nina, who felt she wanted to start knitting again?  SHE MADE ME A RUFFLY SCARF.   She is golden.

. . . Although Peter is giving me a sat nav finally if I can frelling figure out which one to order.  I thought I had it all sorted—this is what I belong to WHICH? for, you go to their site, you are driven mad by the pop ups and the repeated demands to log in which you have already done, you read the reviews and you make an informed choice—and then I promptly fell, as into a large vat of ill-set custard, into a lot of customer reviews saying NO NO NOT THAT ONE.  Whimper.  Maybe I could just have Natty Bumppo on retainer.

Oh, and if you suspect you are seeing a knitting bag in the upper left hand corner of the photo, you are.  It says:  come to the Dark Side, we have yarn.  I think Fiona may have given it to me.  It contains the famous 12 mm needle project that I am advised I need a very large crochet hook or possibly a telephone pole with a hole punched in one end to weave in the ends with.

And, speaking of knitting

And, speaking of knitting

 

Notice knitting needles sticking out of fancy leather going-out-to-dinner bag.††  Ahem.  I’m so used to carrying vast swathes of my life around in my ordinary daily knapsack–which as a result weighs a TON AND THREE QUARTERS and people not eternally preoccupied with the terror of being caught somewhere without enough to read/do tend to make remarks–that when I have to wedge myself for a few hours into a Fancy Going Out to Dinner Bag there are AWFUL DECISIONS TO BE MADE.  In fact I don’t usually take my knitting to restaurants because (a) the light isn’t good enough and (b) I’LL PROBABY SPILL SOMETHING ON IT but the iPad goes as standard and it happens that most of what I’m presently reading is on e- and therefore I had space ordinarily taken up by hard copy AND THE KNITTING WON.  Furthermore I now have this deeply cool little (pink) narrow-beam light that Peter gave me for reading the prayer service in the frelling dark at the monks’, which would work just as well clipped to a napkin in a restaurant as to my collar in an abbey.

And now maybe I’ll knit a few rows and go to bed.  If the bed starts whirling when I turn the light off I will turn the light back on and knit a few more rows.  Garter stitch is great when you’ve had too much champagne.†††

* * *

 * I saw Alfrick last night and told him it was my birthday today.  So I got a happy-birthday email from him saying, Glad to see you last night while you were young.  —There’s nothing like^ a monk for that unique and astonishing degree of professional kindness and sympathy and profound insight into the human condition.  I’ve noticed it often with Alfrick.  BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH.

^ Fortunately

** With apologies for another KESless Saturday.  Friday night Street Pastors was . . . stressful.  You know if Hampshire is going to become the latest seething hotbed of excitable youth and popular with the feuding lout faction I’m frelling going to retire.  I didn’t sign on for all this commotion.  I signed on to stroll around passing out hot drinks to the homeless and flipflops to the overly high-heeled.  I can deal with a certain amount of off-the-wallness, both drug- and alcohol-related and/or the results of social-services failures.  I didn’t sign on to get involved in the stuff that the cops are for.  That’s what the cops are for.  Also, of course, I’m still barely frelling walking post-stomach-flu, and this has a certain dispiriting effect.  But yesterday was mostly another lost day, although talking to Alfrick was good in spite of his sense of humour.

*** You come too, like the poem says.  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173534

And seems to be staying where I put it, which is an important point.^

^ Champagne is of course noted for its stomach-soothing effects.+

+ What I want to know is if I start drinking only about eight hours after I got up in the cough-cough morning does that make me a LUSH?  Except this early (cough-cough) in the day approach to sin and heinousness does give you extra time at the other end to take your hellmob out for supernumerary hurtles to wear sin, heinousness and 12% alcohol off again.#

# ::pours a second pot of peppermint tea into the internal cauldron::

†† Some clever helpful person is going to say ‘circulars’.  I HATE CIRCULAR NEEDLES.

 ††† Non, je regrette rien.

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