April 11, 2014

Shadows is here!

Kitchen Appliance Triumph

 

So, all this time I’ve clawed back by no longer writing a blog every night?  Has disappeared without trace.  Of course.

Today, for example, it has disappeared without trace by my having spent NEARLY TWO HOURS IN DENTIST FROM R’LYEH’S CHAIR OF DREADFUL TORMENT.  Owwwwwww.*

Yesterday it disappeared because . . . MAJOR TRUMPET FLOURISH . . .

MY NEW WASHING MACHINE FINALLY ARRIVED.

This wasn’t easy.  Even leaving out the amount of time I spent researching** frelling washing machines*** I was so freaked out by the PRICE of the one that was going best to cope with all the hair in this household† that I put off ordering it for most of another fortnight.  Peter had grown a bit testy about my usurping his washing machine so I decided in that non-decision way that I hope most people who read this blog have experienced for themselves, that I would merely accumulate dirty laundry because, after all, I was going to buy a washing machine.  Fortunately I have a lot of clothes†† although the hellpack is down to pretty much its final lot of bedding.†††

I had a four-hour delivery slot booked for Wednesday morning during which I paced the floor and wondered what I was going to do when the delivery persons Viewed the Situation and said they couldn’t do it.  The Winter Table is still up because I’m still fetching recently-arrived-and-potted-up little green things indoors when the temperature starts re-enacting the Pit and the Pendulum.  Plus there’s a hellterror crate since the last time any major kitchen appliances were brought in or out.  Also, washing machines weigh.  My last appliant purchase was the refrigerator—refrigerators weigh nothing.  I can lift a refrigerator‡.  A washing machine I can barely shove back into its corner when it starts walking across the floor.  And they were going to have to wrestle the new marvel up the narrow flight of stairs with the black iron railing from street level to the front door, around the sharp 180 degree bend into the kitchen—and, while they were making that turn, lift it over the puppy gate, which is bolted to the wall.‡‡

They came.  They viewed the situation.  Their eyes got rather large.  They withdrew to the street and muttered between themselves while I wrung my hands and thought dire thoughts about washboards and rocks in rivers.

BUT THEY DID IT.

I tipped them lavishly.  They were, to their credit, startled, and I said:  what was I going to do when you looked at this kitchen and said that getting large heavy camels through eyes of needles one storey up, over Becher’s Brook and at a 180° angle wasn’t in your job description?

I hope they got together and bought their wives a nice bottle of champagne.‡‡‡

* * *

* I won’t tell you what this thrilling^ experience did to my bank balance.  OWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

^ I have told you, haven’t I, that the wonders of scuba diving are Forever Closed to Me on account of the number of hours I have spent in Dentist from R’lyeh’s chair staring at the video loop of tropical fish on the TV screen on the ceiling?  I totally support+ the presence of distracting video on a TV screen on the ceiling.  And I can forfeit scuba diving.  Even though the fish are pretty fabulous.  I’m grateful it’s not opera or BUFFY reruns.

+ And I do.  See main footnote *

**  You have to figure it’s going to be an important member of the family for at least a decade so, especially when it lives in the kitchen of your very small house, which happens also to be the room that (a) you spend the most time in (b) the main beds of your three fur factories^ indwell, which helps to explain (a)^^, you and it had better be good friends. ^^^

^ Note also:  fur factories

^^ Remind me to tell you the Pav’s Bed in My Office story.  Sigh.

^^^ Peter had Radio 4 on recently when it was a programme on psychological problems and the discussion was about hoarding disorder, which is apparently defined as an inability to throw things away to the point where the accumulation gets in the way of normal function.  Hmmmm.  One of the things they mention is when you can’t get into your bed because of all the stuff on it?  Feh.  I can still get in my bed . . . I may have to roll some of the books, knitting magazines and homeopathic journals over a little . . . and it’s true I’m an uncharacteristically quiet sleeper.  But I was really thinking about this after I’d cleared off+ the old washing machine and the refrigerator, which was going to have to move to get it out, and had nowhere to put anything.

+ Mostly the stuff on top, which was in layers.  But I also stripped off all the kitchen magnets . . . which fill a mixing bowl.  A small mixing bowl . . . but still a mixing bowl.  Not a cereal bowl or a soup bowl.  You could definitely get a batch of muffin batter out of this bowl.  I often have.

*** I think I told you I joined WHICH? http://www.which.co.uk/ just so I could read their washing machine reviews?  They’ve got this clever hook-the-sucker system where you only have to pay £1 for a month of membership, including a copy of the magazine and free access to their gigantic site—and individual phone support for ‘consumer and finance issues’ which bait really attracted me after my recent scary, infuriating and demoralising banking experiences—and at the end of the month if you forget to cancel they quietly make you a full-price member because, after all, you gave them your credit card number for the £1.  Fine.  They got me.  The magazine is full of interesting stuff.  And now I’m researching juicers. ^

^ Everyone see this report?   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10735633/Healthy-diet-means-10-portions-of-fruit-and-vegetables-per-day-not-five.html   Good luck getting this one over to Person in the Street.  But it is one of those Why [mild] ME Is A Good Thing Really moments.  I have evolved, over the past sixty-one years, from a few frozen peas and a leaf of iceberg lettuce style reluctant veg eater to a major rabbit+.  And in the last fourteen years—since the ME felled me—I am eating ten a day++.  It’s a life style, okay?  You get used to it.  And I like broccoli.+++ I’m more inclined to take this report seriously—ten a day does seem like kind of a lot for someone who doesn’t already have chronic health issues—because they make the point that vegetables are more important.  Yes.  A large glass of orange juice with your chocolate croissant is not the same as a large bowl of broccoli . . . er, probably not with your chocolate croissant.  I’d like to hear a little more about ‘juice is worthless’ however.  Out of a carton, maybe.  But I’d’ve said there’s pretty good substantiation for the belief that the Juicer Phenomenon is worthwhile.  Although it’s another life style.  At some point you have to wonder what you’re preserving your life for if you’re spending all your time preserving it.

+ Unfortunately my teeth don’t keep growing.  That would solve a lot of problems, if the cavities just grew out and you could gnaw them off.  Carrots are a lot cheaper than Dentist from R’lyeh.

++ Except occasionally when I’ve been in the Chair of Dreadful Torment and can’t chew.

† There isn’t nearly as much of mine but mine is LONG.  You’d have to line up like fifty-three of Pav’s for an equivalent pilose factor.  Pav, however, has plenty to spare.

†† Which is what happens when you like clothes, have been more or less the same size for nearly forty years, and have hoarding disorder.

††† There is less of this than there might be because the hellterror—like the hellhounds before her—used to eat hers When She Was a Puppy, which, of course, now being almost tw‡‡o years old she is not.  Cough.  Cough.  But she did give up eating her bedding somewhere around her first birthday—which is better than can be said for Chaos.

‡ Well.  I can lift a dwarf under-the-stairs size refrigerator.

‡‡ Because I was tired of it falling over every time Chaos stood up and put his forepaws on it.  Which, being a rather dim sweetheart, he never took advantage of, and Darkness is above that kind of thing.  Pav, however . . . it’s a good thing it was bolted in by the time Pav arrived.

‡‡‡ Or, possibly, husbands.

It’s only Wednesday

 

I’m beginning to feel cursed.  You already know about the temporarily comatose Wolfgang and the definitively dead washing machine*.  Last night/this morning at five a.m. my smoke alarm decided it needed a new battery.  Aaaaaaaugh.  So you’re dragged out of a deep, satisfying sleep (!) by this frelling chirping noise . . . and first you have to decide you’re not imagining it because in fact you weren’t really experiencing deep, satisfying sleep because deep, satisfying sleep is not among your skill set.  Then, having more or less decided that it is a real noise and not the sound of all your brain cells clicking together like billiard balls, and wondering if you need to wake the hellterror and bring her upstairs so she can find the source of this alleged real noise for you**, and you are in the arduous process of getting out of bed*** because one way or another this must stop, it slowly manifests in your sleep-raddled mind that the only thing in your experience that makes a noise like that is a smoke alarm that wants its zonking battery changed.  They programme them to make this decision while you should be asleep, right?  I think possibly they programme them to study the household first so as better to ascertain when horizontal bed time most often occurs:  if you’re a farmer with cows to milk you might well be awake and on your second cup of coffee by five.

So then you get to stagger around trying to remember where you might have stashed one of those frelling square batteries that almost nothing else uses but you’re pretty sure you do have one because you’ve been here before, although it’s so long ago you don’t remember where you put the spare battery . . .  but this is one of those super-frellers that if you try to unplug it so you can deal with it in the morning the BACK UP BATTERY kicks in and there’s no courteous, mild little cheeping, it screams death, dragons, disaster, debacle and defeat and the back up battery itself is one of those horrible tiny round things that you need a Special Tool to open the door of and it doesn’t open and it doesn’t open and it doesn’t open possibly because you have no idea where your Special Tool is and are using a 5p piece and then when you finally do wrench it open the battery leaps out and rolls under the table.  Where you have to be sure to retrieve it before the hellterror eats it.  But the whole teeny stuck battery-hatch thing is not going to happen at 5 a.m. since neither my fingers nor my eyes are up to that much focussing so we’re back to finding a new square battery for the main event.

Okay.  I found it.  I reattached the little wires.  I shut the barglegleebing plastic battery door.  Silence fell.† AT WHICH POINT I DECIDED I WAS GOING TO TURN THE RING ON MY NEW PHONE OFF.  So I could, you know, sleep.  I used to do this regularly on the old machine:  unplug the phone from the machine, the machine silently picks up messages, and the phone doesn’t ring.  YOU CAN’T TURN THE RING OFF ON MY NEW PHONE/ANSWERPHONE.  Who the freaking double grasking whatsit argle frell figured that one out?  THAT YOU CAN’T MAKE YOUR PHONE NOT RING?  The ‘base’ unit will allow its ringtone to be turned off.  Not the portable.  You can turn the volume down—which, just by the way, is about as effective as turning a barking hellterror down—but you can’t turn it off.  Eventually I buried the thing under the sofa cushions and (finally) went back to bed. . . .

* * *

* And—just by the way—Pooka continues to refuse to pick up the internet when we’re away from our home wifi.  I can have all the little ‘signal’ bars that there’s frelling room for dancing the fandango and singing ‘I feel pretty’ and Safari just sits there saying ‘Nope.  And you can’t make me.’  Since Astarte doesn’t have a mobile connection THIS IS VERY IRRITATING.  And yes, while it’s true that we’re all overconnected out of our tiny minds, it IS CONVENIENT, while you’re waiting for something to happen, to be able to whip out your tech of choice and check, for example, on the weather.  You are (let’s say) a quarter mile from your car and your umbrella is still in the car.  Frell frell frell frell frell.^

^ I was at a meeting tonight# and I got there about fifteen minutes early because I’d been worried about the traffic and/or getting lost.  So having failed to check the weather I . . . of course . . . got out my knitting.  I think everyone else in the room commented##:  knitting as nonthreatening topic of conversation among a bunch of strangers waiting for something to happen.

It was the kind of meeting where your fearless leader decides that you should start with something that makes you talk to each other.###  So she passed out sheets of paper headed:  Find Someone In the Room Who . . . and it’s a list, like, has moved house in the last year, plays a musical instrument, loves Marmite.  The first thing on the list was:  ‘knits’.  Nine pairs of eyes immediately swivelled to focus on my name tag.

# And no I wasn’t rained on on the way back to Wolfgang.

## But no one else got out their knitting.  Everybody keeps telling me how popular knitting is.  I sure hang out in the wrong crowd.

### NOOOOOOOO.  NOT MORE CONVERSATION WITH STRANGERS.  “IT’S A BIG SQUARE SCARF” AND “YOU JUST KEEP KNITTING—IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GORGEOUS YARN” IS AS FAR AS I GO.

** There’s no use in asking the hellhounds.  They would open one eye, say eh, it’s a noise, and close the eye again.

***. . . while reluctantly deciding that hellterror involvement is a bad idea.  She’s very good at finding and pointing things out, it’s just that a crucial element of the pointing-out process is barking at them and while my semi-detached neighbour is a paragon of tolerance and patience I think a hellterror paroxysm at 5 a.m. might be pushing it.

† Except for hellterror snores.

Gardening. Continued. Indefinitely.

 

So I’m cruising a gardening site because I have no self-control and they’re having a HALF PRICE sale* and I come to the description of something under the ‘cottage garden plants’ category.  The heading describes it as a ‘half hardy annual’.  This means it’ll die if it freezes, but it’ll be toast next winter anyway so your job is only not to plant it out too early now.  And then in the description below the heading you are informed that while it is hardy to 18° F—which is pretty seriously hardy—it would be grateful for a little winter protection which if such is provided it will go on rewarding you with a dazzling floral display for years to come.  Oh?  Yes?  Um.

It’s no wonder people think gardening is complicated and confusing.

* * *

* I didn’t tell you I ordered another eight roses, did I?  Speaking of sales.  Peter Frelling Beales http://www.classicroses.co.uk/ had a loooooong end-of-bareroot-season sale AND THEY KEPT FRELLING SENDING ME REMINDERS.  I KNOW.  I READ YOUR LAST EMAIL, THANKS.  I WISH YOU’D GO AWAY.  THE SALE WAS FOR FORTY PERCENT OFF.  FORTY PERCENT OFF ROSE BUSHES????  YOU CAN’T EXPECT ME TO RESIST—TO GO ON RESISTING—THAT LEVEL OF TEMPTATION, CAN YOU?  Well, I can’t, and it was my credit card.  Besides, I have at least a half-packet of that help-the-roots-to-grow symbiotic fungus stuff left . . .

The thing is I got all those roses I bought from the (relatively) local rose nursery planted and then discovered . . . I still had perennial-shrub sized gaps left.  ‘Perennial shrub’ is a slightly flexible concept in my garden, of course, as is ‘gap’:  it’s surprising what (and how much) you can get to grow in a too-small pot if you keep it fed and watered.  This—right now—is also the most dangerous time of year for me—I’ve probably (finally^) done a certain amount of clearing out of winter detritus:  of last year’s annuals, last year’s failures, and the pruning you should maybe have done last autumn but I didn’t not only because I’m absent-minded and disorganised but because if you have a hard winter some things, including roses, will probably die back some, so if you have to take the last six inches off a three-foot stem that still leaves two and a half feet of live plant which you can prune later on if you want to for shape and so on.  If you cut it down hard last autumn, six inches of dead wood may leave you come spring with three inches of live plant, which is risky.  But I’m not a hard pruner anyway:  I figure if a rose bush wants to be five foot—or fifteen—you’ll make it unhappy by trying to prune it to be three or six.^^

. . . Anyway.^^^  This time of year there is probably bare earth out there.  Bare.  Earth.  In MY garden.  Somewhere I could PLANT SOMETHING.  Or wedge a pyramid of pots into/onto/around.  This goes badly to my head.  Despite the fact that by the end of March I’ve frelling DONE ALL MY SPRING ORDERING.  I DON’T NEED TO DO ANY MORE.  Except that what I’ve ordered is beginning to fade into the dank dark mists of the previous winter during which you wrote out copious lists of possible plant orders as a gesture of hope and belief in the future and a quelling or at least muffling of cabin fever#. And of course I never get around to printing out the invoices## of my final orders. . . .  And then the frelling sale come-ons start appearing in your email. . . .

Coming up ten (gleeeeeeep) years ago, when I bought the cottage, I looked at the Way Too Gardenery a Garden that the previous owner### was leaving me and thought, I am not going to turn this into a Rose Garden.  I am going to evolve it a little more toward Old Fashioned Messy Cottage Garden and away from Plantsperson’s Educational Display . . . but it’s NOT going to be a rose garden with a few pansies.

Well, it isn’t.  It’s a rose garden with a few pansies, clematis, delphiniums, foxgloves, primroses, fuchsias, begonias, dahlias, hellebores, daffodils, hyacinths, a few tulips, one trillium, snowdrops, crocuses, lungwort, corydalis, epimedium, geraniums/pelargoniums/whatsit, two bleeding hearts, snapdragons, cosmos, one hydrangea, one gardenia, daylilies, irises, dianthus, dwarf Japanese maples, Japanese frelling anemones, camellias, dwarf rhododendrons, peonies . . . some other stuff, including several things I either don’t know the name of or have forgotten the name of . . . and a flowering currant, a corkscrew hazel and an apple tree.%  It’s a rose garden with friends.

. . .  It’s okay though.  You can click on the Peter Beales link, the sale is over.  I don’t recommend you sign up for their email list, however, unless you live somewhere Beales won’t ship to.

^ No, no!  You’re supposed to leave your rubbish alone over the winter!  It gives WILDLIFE SHELTER AND FOOD!  ‘Wildlife’ includes the frelling mice I yesterday animadverted, as well as slugs, snails, vine weevils, lily beetles and black spot fungal spores.  And my incredibly spoilt local bird populations don’t eat seed heads or berries or rose hips.  And the bats are hibernating.

^^ There are fashions in pruning as in most things.  Some years I’m in fashion.  Some years I’m not in fashion.  Feh.

^^^ Buckminster, our vicar, gets quite a lot of stick for being easily distracted.  Church services when our vicar is preaching+ have been known to run on quite a while over time because Buck has been chasing hares (again).  I was thinking this Sunday while everyone was giggling that it’s a good thing no one at St Margaret’s—so far as I know—reads Robin McKinley’s Days in the Life.++  Especially Buck himself.  It might give him ideas.

+ You want to get home on time, pray Buck is not preaching.

++ With footnotes.

#  Yes, you can get a cabin-fever equivalent even in the south of England, although in my case anyway the lack of daylight is almost as claustrophobi-fying as not being able to get out the door because of the snowdrifts.+  This winter, of course, the solid wall of falling water that went on for about three months accentuated that shut-in feeling.

+ Pay the guy with the bulldozer scoop on the front of his muscle pick-up who clears your driveway for you promptly.  Never mess with a guy with a bulldozer scoop on the front of his muscle pick-up, especially not in a winter with a lot of snow.

## I’d only lose them.  So why bother.

### Trained horticulturists.  Double feh.

% And I’m TRYING AGAIN with the witchhazel and the magnolia stellata, drat them anyway.  And does anyone know how to get a frelling foxtail lily to FLOWER?  The beastly thing is coming up for the third year in a row but I’ve yet to get a flower out of it.  But three of my meconopsis are alive.  YAAAAAAAY.

Car

 

I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR  HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR

I HAVE A CAR

I. HAVE. A. CAR.

I HAVE A CAR

I! HAVE! A! CAR!

. . . Erm.  Wolfgang’s home.  It’s been a long nine days.*  And, as I write this, it is sheeting out there.  I mean, yes, again, but while ground water levels will take months to settle down and there’s still serious water on the road in a few places around here**, we’d not had rain in over a week and I was reduced to watering plant pots yesterday.  It rained a little last night, tactfully between the time of the last hurtle and when we had to roll out for the walk*** home, but at the moment we’re back to the End of Days.

Oh yes and Feebledweeb made a third attempt this morning.   They will stop now, right?

* * *

* And I’m running out of underwear.  Tomorrow I am bringing a lot of dirty laundry to Peter’s about-to-be-very-tired washing machine.  I was not looking forward to ferrying dirty or clean but damp laundry back and forth by gigantic knapsack.

Meanwhile I will have a full car going back to the cottage tonight with the nine hundred and eleven apples from this week’s organic grocery delivery yesterday—I get through a lot of apples, and the hellterror is not averse to offering modest assistance—the fifty-six knitting magazines I’m keeping from this month’s haul—I am a knitting magazine junkie, and I read a lot of them on the sofa at the mews—the several additional knapsacks, sweaters, pairs of gloves and socks that have accumulated down here for some reason, and the hundred and twelve books that did not make the Book Rec cut and need to go into the Oxfam Box by the door at the cottage.

** Including one stretch that is incredibly badly semi-marked and on a dark corner, and why no one has taken out the invisible barrier like Grond at the gates of Gondor for simply not being able to see it and possibly for the character flaw of not being local and therefore being unaware of neighbourhood booby traps, I cannot imagine.  Fortunately it’s only a little back road—although it’s one of those little back roads that is your only plausible choice from point A to point B—so wild veering into the centre of the road and into the path of oncoming traffic . . . can mostly be accomplished in the absence of oncoming traffic.  Even so.  I think I tweeted a county headline that the latest guesstimate about repairing Hampshire’s roads after the floods is that the price tag is going to hit £36K.    I believe it too:  not only are there potholes the size of Zeppelins but a lot of roads are simply narrower than they used to be, aside from invisible barriers protecting deep water, because the shoulders have disintegrated.  And what’s left of the road surface is like driving on stucco.  I bet tyre- and shocks-manufacturer shareholders are holding champagne parties.  I hope the list of urgently-needed mending is comprehensive.

*** Between the frelling thirty-pound knapsack and the fact that there are three of them it is a walk, although the hellterror does a fair amount of hurtling on her own recognizance.  Which brings me to a moral dilemma.  The hellterror adores the late-night strolls back to the cottage, and is, for her, surprisingly well-mannered.^  The hellhounds slouch along doing passive-aggressive sulking^^ but it’s been a year and a half, guys, get over yourselves.  And late at night is the only time it’s worth the risk taking all three out together.  I wonder if . . . it’s a pity Wolfgang can’t get himself home and the thirty-pound knapsack, and let the rest of us amble after.

^ I am really really really hoping it’s not all the frelling false pregnancy.  Which I keep hoping isn’t happening but—moan—her breasts are slightly swollen, yesterday and today, so it probably is.  Only someone who spends a lot of time rubbing her tummy would notice, but I do and I have.  She hasn’t started shredding newspapers and hiding under the sofa—she doesn’t really fit under the sofa any more—so maybe she can have the imaginary puppies imaginarily and get on with life??  But it’s been pleasant having an only semi-manic imp of the perverse about the place.  I’ve been thinking I need to take her training slightly more seriously . . . no, no, not the walking quietly on heel and the perfect recall:  the paw-offering and the playing dead.  The useful stuff.  The stuff, it must be admitted, that happens on the kitchen floor at the cottage last thing before closing her down for the night and I go upstairs for a nice hot bath and a dropping of reading material in it.  This is not, I realise, optimum training timing, but it has two things going for it:  (a) it happens at all and (b) I get a good laugh at the end of the day and on bad days this is very welcome.

^^ I am very, very, very tired of sibling rivalry, or whatever the doodah it is.  Chaos would rather be friends but Darkness is convinced she’s the antichrist and Chaos, for all his buffoonery and in-your-faceness, when in doubt, defers to Darkness.  Night before last Chaos forgot himself so far as to play tug of war with Pav and the stick she was prancing around flourishing.  There was much mock-growling and tail-wagging and I was thrilled . . . till Darkness, who had been lagging behind at the very end of his extending lead, suddenly leaped into full sprint and went past me like a cheetah after a gazelle.  I realised a third of a second before he bloody well had me over that he wasn’t going to stop, which gave me just enough instinctive time to yell and hit the end of the lead going the other way.  You colossal little ratbag.  Arrrrrgh.

Ongoing

 

Yes.  Feebledweeb came back this morning.  There was a postcard through my door about my missing my scheduled pick-up.  I’m probably imagining the petulance.  I am not imagining, however, the incredibly long, annoying, would-be mollifying robot email from a critter-supply site I have ordered from for the first time because they sell a Critter Fur Bag that is supposed to protect your (possibly new) washing machine from the extremes of critter hair production.*   Cosy Paws and Fuzzy Tummies Ltd is using one of the shiny new carrier companies . . . which I’ve already had several emails from informing me that my order is creeping inexorably nearer but they’re not going to tell me how fast or anything . . . I have to be AT HOME to SIGN FOR IT and they will only make TWO attempts to deliver before it’s returned to sender, etc.  HOW THE FREAKING ARGLEBLARGING FRELL DO THESE COMPANIES STAY IN BUSINESS?  Apparently I’m supposed to be able to track it tomorrow, when it’s (maybe**) due for Delivery Attempt #1 but I don’t even know what that means.  If I sign on tonight/tomorrow morning at midnight oh one, will it tell me that the driver is at home having a beer in front of the Late Show?***  Will Astarte chirrup at me at 6 a.m.† when the parcel is loaded into the lorry?  Will tracking include a klaxon when the lorry passes the New Arcadia town limits?  Arrrrrgh.  And the Seriously Irritating Robot letter from the critter-supply site says, ooooooh please be nice to us, we’re trying really hard.††  Sure you are.  Change delivery companies.  Change to one that when you say ‘LEAVE THE SODBLASTED PACKET BEHIND THE GATE’ they leave it behind the gate and don’t require me to poke a touchscreen with a plastic stylus in a manner that not only looks nothing like my signature, but doesn’t look like anything remotely resembling anyone’s signature.

The garage started work on Wolfgang today.  I’m supposed to ring late tomorrow afternoon and see how they’re getting on.  The suspense is killing me.  I WANT MY MONKS.  I WANT MY MONKS.  I also have an appointment to talk to Alfrick before service Saturday night.  If I started walking Saturday morning I might get there in time, maybe they’d let me sleep in the porch . . . after all I’d have to bring the hellpack, they can’t keep their legs crossed for thirty six hours, we could keep each other warm. . . .

And I’ve probably decided on my new washing machine.  ::Gasp::  It’s a Miele.  You know what Mieles COST?!  But if you ask six random critter owners what washing machine will best stand up to the depredations of critter fur, they will speak in one voice:  IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT, GET A MIELE.†††

Um.  Ratbags.  Well, the hellhounds don’t eat much . . . and I could maybe buy fewer books and less yarn . . . .

And in other techie news:  My new phone machine appears to be working.‡  I can call out on it.  I can receive calls on it, even if the dargletching ring tone sounds like a drowning pigeon.  I can even pick up messages.  That’s all I can do.  At some point I will have to find out how to erase messages before the sorbligging Message Space fills up.  For some reason a number of people, having read the Are you sure it’s not Friday the 13th? blog post, starting with lecuyerv on the forum and for which thank you, have sent me a link to this:  http://xkcd.com/1343/   Yes.  Exactly.

* * *

* This:  http://www.washingnet.co.uk/en/animal-hair-filter-bag.html

But I didn’t buy it here.  If I’m going to be rude about the seller I’m not going to hang a link on the blog.  But I’ve heard of the site I ordered from, it has a good rep in critter-supply circles, and it had some happy customers reporting on the Fur Bag.

** There is some question about the depot being stolen by deranged djinns.  A little-known prediction of Nostradamus.

*** If there have been any djinn sightings?

† The drawbacks of taking your iPad to bed with you.  Remember to turn it off?  Are you kidding?

†† If we roll over will you rub our tummy?  —No.  I get enough tummy rubbing demands already.^  Humans have alarm clocks to get them up in the morning.  Hellcritters have tummy rubbing.  GUYS.  I’VE ONLY GOT TWO HANDS.  Darkness, who is his generation’s major tummy rubbee, however, does not acknowledge that this creates any sort of common ground with the hellterror.  You call that a tummy? he says.  At which point Chaos, who isn’t totally committed to tummy rubbing but does not want to be left out of anything, ducks under one of my arms, as I kneel blearily on the kitchen floor rubbing tummies while waiting for the frelling kettle to frelling boil, and knocks me over.

^ Also, I don’t like you.

††† Also, who knew that reading about washing machines could be fun?  http://www.whitegoodshelp.co.uk/about-whitegoodshelp-andy-trigg/

Miele is also, siiiiiiiigh, the top of the list by a margin of about seventy-three leagues at WHICH?

http://www.which.co.uk/

Although you have to join.  I’ve joined.  But nothing on earth will make me read an entire article on George Osborne.^ 

^ This comment will become obscure+ as soon as they put some other headline on their opening page.

+ I have a strange reluctance to use the word ‘obsolete’.  I think it’s very unfriendly of Bosch to stop making parts for a mere twenty-plus-year-old washing machine.  I bet Miele is still making parts for twenty-plus-year-old machines.^

^ At these prices, better had.

‡ Mrs Redboots

Um, I’m not quite sure why anybody buys an answering machine in this day and age – can’t you just record your message on 1571, which is what I do? . . . Of course, the huge downside is you have to remember to check the frelling thing, which I never do . . .

Um . . . pathological loathing of BT?^  BT, who, when applied to to turn the landline phone on at Third House declared that there was no cable to the house—the eighty-year-old house in the middle of town with the phone jack in the kitchen—and I would have to pay several hundred pounds to get one installed.  BT, who has insisted for nearly a decade that my problem with the upstairs phone at the cottage is to do with the house wiring and it will cost me several hundred pounds if they send an engineer, even though their own frelling linemen, laughing like drains at the state of the cul-de-sac’s common wiring, says that it is BT.  Yes, it’s true that my series of cheap, simple-minded previous phone machines were BT, but in the first place they were crap and they never pretended to be anything other than crap and in the second place a phone machine is a discrete thing that sits on your desk/table/electric keyboard/floor, it has a beginning and an ending, it has edges, and for that matter you can smudge it with burning sage if you want to drive the BT demons out.  I’m not going to use 1571.  It’s too personal.

Oh, and Peter uses 1571.  And never remembers to pick up his messages.

^ That postmistress didn’t retire.  She went to work for BT.

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Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. -- Thomas A. Edison