I can’t remember if I told the blog that I’d been blowing off my mouth to Aloysius six weeks or so ago, after the gratuitous extra-fancy swearing-in of my intake of Street Pastors last January, with the forty-seven bishops and a miracle or two*, and which Aloysius and Alfrick had attended. Given the forty-seven bishops and various other bits of high-churchery I was startled by the music, which was the Modern Christian Whatsit we sing at St Margaret’s and which drives me to despair.**
But I sang it, because singing is better than not singing. And what I noticed—and what I imprudently said to Aloysius—is that while it used to be that when I was in a mob and wanted to feel that I was contributing, I dropped down to chest voice and BELLOWED . . . now, after getting on for three years of Nadia’s elegant mercilessness, I make just as much noise in head voice and I suspect it’s more penetrating.*** And Aloysius responded promptly that if I ever felt like singing with the band† I would be more than welcome.
Hmmmmmm . . .
It had occurred to me some time ago that the only way I could, you know, validly try to have some effect on the music at St Margaret’s evening service is to become one of the people who produce it. So I didn’t laugh like a drain or whap Aloysius up longside the head. Or run away. I said, Ah. Er. What an interesting idea.
And he said, If you want to give it a shot, I suggest you try it the next time I’m in charge.
Okay, I said.
. . . Which was last night. AAAAAAAAAUGH.
Where do I BEGIN? For example . . . they don’t even much have sheet music. It doesn’t actually seem to exist for a lot of this Modern Christian doodah?? It is no longer assumed that makers of music can, and might possibly want to, read the line they’re supposed to be performing? Or possibly take it home and nervously pick it out on the piano first? What? And at St Margaret’s, for example, the regular keyboardist†† doesn’t read music—he plays by frelling ear.††† Buckminster doesn’t read music either—he has a chord sheet, as does the church office guru who I think usually plays bass. There’s a rota, and Samantha, who is a volunteer,‡ organizes folders of music for all the regulars, in whatever form the recipient of the folder prefers—so Aloysius gets sheet music (when it’s available) and Buckminster gets chord sheets. Ugly, I think, just gets a playlist and maybe lyric sheets, although the lyrics are also computer-projected on the walls. Samantha was a trifle startled by my vehemence on the subject of sheet music. . . .
Apparently you only get your playlist a few days before you go on. GORBLIMEY GUYS. THIS IS HARD ON A NEWBIE. Aloysius emailed ours out on Thursday in the form of a title list and some YouTube links . . . and there went any possibility of my practising Italian art songs or German lieder for the rest of the week, while I got a lot of knitting done listening, relistening, and re-re-relistening to YouTube, whilst simultaneously moaning and chewing on the furniture.‡‡ St Margaret’s spends quite a lot of the evening service singing, so there were a lot of YouTube links. Long YouTube links. Fortunately about three of the songs are half familiar from regular evening-service use but the one that I’d never heard before in my in-hindsight-privileged ‡‡‡ life also had the worst performance, the one that made me want to stick my knitting needles through my monitor.§ The lead singer was having oral sex with her microphone, the massed electronic instrumentation was making drooly Technicolor-sunset noises which made me feel I was being hammered to death with fluffy bunnies and there was some escapee from the Swan Lake chorus line gambolling at the front of the stage WHAT IS THIS. ALSO, WHY. —I failed to learn this one. I failed to go on trying to learn this one because I don’t really want to buy a new laptop just now.
But I put my time in on the others. God help me, God, you got me into this. And I’m supposed to trust in him, right? Old habits die hard. Because I am a hopeless wet dweeb I didn’t sleep very well Saturday night because I was going to have to sing from the wrong side of the microphone the next evening. And . . .
TO BE CONTINUED.§§
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* I could have sworn I had, because I remember remarking on the plentifulness of bishops, but I can’t find it in the archive. It’s probably in a footnote somewhere.
** Alfrick, given the setting, hadn’t been expecting it either, and commented drily that it was out of his comfort zone. I thought of the antiphonal chanting—and the little square tail-free notes of the music—at the abbey and tried not to laugh. Or possibly cry.
*** I do not say this is a good thing. I merely make note of it.
† Sic. It’s not a choir; the instrumentalists usually outnumber the singers, and said instrumentalists include the vicar on guitar or bass, the curate on guitar—he’s got more than one guitar, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play bass, but he has at least once played ukulele—and various admin and ordinary congregation members on electric keyboard, drums and the occasional woodwind.
Sigh . . .
†† Who I’m about to name Ugly, because he doesn’t approve of singers—and we are, furthermore, not singers but mere backing singers—and has declared that there are never to be more than three of us cluttering up the stage. THREE? THREE? That is nowhere near enough bodies to hide among when you’re one of them. I had noticed that there weren’t very many, week to week, but I hadn’t caught on that there were EVER only three. I’m going to start putting peanut butter on the keyboard when I know Ugly is playing. Hmmph.
††† Another reason to LOATHE HIM, just by the way.^
^ No it does not count that he probably doesn’t have a clue how to write a novel. Or that he’s kind to his mother, has adopted six stray dogs and has solar panelling all over his roof.
‡ The kind of volunteer without whom a lot of things like churches and underfunded charities would not be able to function: dedicated, competent, intelligent, and mad.
‡‡ Not the knitting needles. Never the knitting needles. TOOTHMARKS ON MY PRECIOUS ASH AND ROSEWOOD KNITTING NEEDLES? ARE YOU KIDDING?^
^ I might chew on bamboo needles if I were desperate. Fortunately the current project is on ash, because Hey God You’re My Bestest Bud, which I describe below, might have driven me to intemperate behaviour with bamboo.
‡‡‡ Ignorance is bliss.
§ Which would be one way of deciding it was time for a new laptop.
§§ Sorry. I have to go to bed. Raphael is coming tomorrow to discuss why Outlook occasionally decides to send a crucial email to perdition instead of to me^ and various other variations on a theme of technological havoc and I may be looking at a new laptop after all. I need to be well rested for the conflict.
^ Maybe the hellgoddess shtick confuses its tiny solid state unmind?
The nice thing about dressage is that there’s LOTS you can do without needing to sit the trot; so if that happens to be a problem, you can still do a ton without dealing with it. . . . your comfort will also probably vary a lot from horse to horse since different horses’ gaits feel so different.
There’s pretty much always something you can do with dressage, given that you have a good trainer, a sound horse, and can get yourself into the saddle. One of the ironies in this skill as in so many is that sometimes what you need is precisely the skill you haven’t got yet: I know I’ve told this blog before that my great breakthrough about sitting the trot was when I realised it was my stomach muscles, not my back or my seat, that were crucial—at which point my back stopped bothering me. But I don’t think it would have done me much good to be told that I would sit the trot with my stomach when I was first starting to learn; I had to be mostly there already and needing only the final thud over the line.* The really counterintuitive thing for me was the way then that those frelling gigantic warmblood trots** became if not precisely easy, then comprehensible . . . and thrilling.
My trainer says jumping is pretty much just dressage where someone left some jumps in the way. . . . That makes some sense to me, but I’m sure it will feel VERY different at least sometimes if I do try some jumping eventually. . . .
But the bottom line about dressage is that it’s about making you and your horse and particularly you-and-your-horse happier, more supple, better balanced and more flexible about anything and everything . . . so jumping is dressage where someone left fences in the way: dressage is the bottom line, whether you call it ‘dressage’ or not. This was really making some good sense with Connie . . . siiiiiiiiigh. . . . and Jenny was a show jumper.*** Jumping was her first love and the years she had suitable horses she even earned money at it. But she absolutely believed that dressage was the necessary basis, for show jumping or anything else. Although she was funny about some of dressage’s little foibles. The point of show dressage is that the horse does exactly what you tell it to† when you tell it to. The last thing I want, Jenny would say, is some animal that waits for me to tell it to perform a flying change. And of course a good show jumper is figuring out the next fence as soon as the rider has settled on their line so it knows where it’s going—which may be about half a stride to spare, depending on the course, so it needs to be able to make some of its own decisions. Connie had lovely flying changes—not that I was necessarily in the right place at the right time, riding her, either to ask her or to let her do them.
. . . I am SO spoiled! I would never in my wildest dreams have thought I could have a guy as great as him! . . . . It does mean, however, that the kind of horse I’ll be wanting for my next one (when Amore can’t be ridden any more — hopefully many years from now) is going to be much different than if my first horse had been a back-yard mutt (so to speak)
Well, add me to the forum chorus of JEEEEAAAAAAAAALOUS. But back-yard mutts can surprise you. The woman who first taught me dressage—and totally did my head in by proving I could learn to ride††—and who had no money, did wonders with a series of back-yard mutts. I learnt the extended trot on her first success story, one of those ‘Quarter Horses’ that has about as much QH bloodline as I do, but they arrive on the East Coast in gigantic truckloads for auction, and the paperwork says ‘QH’ I suppose because they’re from Out West Somewhere and the paperwork has to say something. He had a back as long as a city block and his shoulders and his pasterns were perfectly upright (speaking of the comfort/discomfort of sitting to certain horses’ trots) and he had no business ever so much as coming on the bit and getting his hocks under him . . . but he did it, with Grace training him. It was pretty funny really: his back accordioned about six feet as he came on the bit. Suddenly he was (almost) a normal-looking horse. And his extended trot was amazing.
She had another horse, a mare, she’d (also) got cheap, because she’d broken a foreleg as a yearling and it hadn’t set quite right, and the foot turned out. Eh, she’ll never amount to anything with that leg; and furthermore, as she grew up, her rear end grew more than her front, so she was that disastrous creature, a horse who is ‘higher behind than before’ and will spend its life running downhill. And of course never ever be capable of coming on the bit and getting her hocks under her.
You can see where this is going. The mare loved working and couldn’t wait for Grace to ask her to do something.††† Grace competed her in the New England finals at third or fourth level . . . and I swear every last judge Grace rode for, from her first training show, hissed through his/her teeth and said that the mare would never go any farther because of her conformation and she’d never stay sound on that leg. She retired sound at, I think, sixteen; she had her third and last foal two years later. ‡
And of course my hellhounds are back-yard mutts. . . .
* * *
* Your mileage may vary. I was a very slow learner about riding as about so many things, although some of that was my going into it with the conviction that I was clumsy and stupid and wouldn’t be able to learn. Self confidence? What would that be exactly?
** I don’t know if this is true across the warmblood spectrum—and I’m not going to spend the next frelling hour googling my way through a lot of horse sites, I want to sing tonight—but a lot of warmblood breeding was to produce carriage horses where gigantic sit-at-your-pelvis’-peril trots were a total plus^. The dressage thing under saddle came later.
^ Although I don’t know what the postilions may have thought. In my admittedly limited experience posting to an eighteen-hand warmblood powering over the landscape is even less possible than sitting.
*** Connie was the last horse I rode regularly, before the ME objected. And Jenny was her owner and my teacher.
† Because you and your horse are a PARTNERSHIP. A good horse is never a thousand-pound machine that does the same precise thing every time you flip a lever. I’ve never ridden a true ‘push button’ horse but I’ve ridden several excellent schoolmasters, and they have their ways of getting their point across by doing what you told them, not what you wanted. While your human teacher, standing in the middle of the ring, tries not to laugh.
†† I’d been mostly taught by riders with natural talent who had no idea what to do with someone like me. Grace was herself not naturally talented in that way; she’d worked for her horse skills and had gazillions of approaches to any given horse/rider situation . . . and endless patience. We’ve lost touch, but I hope she’s healthy and thriving, wherever she is.
††† That mare was one of my schoolmasters. And she was . . . a character. Her desire to do stuff was genuine, and she’d try till she exploded—but she loved working because she had a fantastic trainer. She could have been a serious handful for the wrong person—for someone who didn’t allow her to be herself. She didn’t suffer fools gladly, and it was a pretty great compliment that Grace let me ride her.
‡ The downside of this story is that she wasn’t going to get any farther, not because she couldn’t but because she was a back-yard mutt, half thoroughbred, half Heinz 57 and in show dressage, it matters. If a Shetland pony can heave itself over the fences clean in an open jumping class when nobody else has, it’s won. If a Shetland pony does every figure in a Prix St Georges dressage test perfectly, it’s still going to lose to the eighteen-hand warmblood who is perhaps only 98% perfect but is so beautiful you could cry. And Grace’s lovely mare looked like exactly what she was—TB/mutt—and this was also happening right when the dressage fashion was turning away from TBs to warmbloods.
So there’s this major yarn and stuff to do with it, stuff to do it with and accessories like buttons and ribbons show that is not so far from here I can’t toy with the idea of going to it . . . especially if Fiona was driving.
But this is now the second year that Fiona has declined to go on the flimsy grounds that she had to WORK that weekend.* And I was feeling obstinate and cantankerous. And I happened to mention that there was going to be a fabulous yarn show with lots of STUFF to Nina, who said, oh, that sounds like fun. I’ll come.
Now Nina, once you bash past her British self-deprecation, is good at kind of a lot of stuff; she plays the violin, she cooks, she gardens, she sews, she embroiders, she does long-distance bicycling, and her end of the charity she works for runs very well. But I didn’t know she knitted.
I used to, she said. But a friend has started me crocheting, and I’ve been thinking about picking up knitting again. What I need is a project to inspire me.
So we arranged to meet at the venue, which is one of these Ancient Buildings Repurposed, and half the experience is about going the wrong way through the wrong end of the wrong aggregation of corridors and small crooked well-raftered rooms, and seeing the proud civic collection of sealing-wax stamps and the sepia photos of Prince Edward at the opening of the new railroad in 1887, but failing to find what you were looking for.
Which was a lot like my experience of getting there at all.
There was actual sunlight [sic] that morning [sic] and I set off in a hopeful and positive manner/deeply guilty that I wasn’t staying home and working in the garden**, and about the first third of the way is pretty familiar and the last two-thirds used to be pretty familiar before age, decrepitude and ME set in. I had my Google map print-out taped to the dashboard and just before the stoplight where I was going to have to turn off the modern roads, built for fast-moving fossil-fuel-propelled vehicles, and into the frelling medieval frelling maze . . . they changed the road layout. AAAAAAAAAUGH.***
So I made one of those hasty decisions, the way you do at fifty miles an hour with lorries the size of WWII blockhouses bearing down on you, and shot off toward the centre of town a lot sooner than I meant to and I was now in the wrong end of town† without a clue how to get to the right end. Whimper.
I think I saw the small town-centre Sainsburys six times as the one-way system kept chewing me up and spitting me out and I kept stubbornly turning around and coming back for more pinballing, ka-chung, ka-chung! There was ONE sign for the dratblasted yarn show with one of those ambiguous directional arrows that could have meant anything including finding a flagpole to climb and looking around from the top of it; and one overhead banner stretched from one side of the (narrow medieval) street to the other proclaiming the existence of the yarn show but failing to say anything about where to find it. Some of the surrounding melee was, in fact, on my Google map, but Google does not feel the need to include any street names but the ones immediately relevant to your journey. Haven’t these people ever driven anywhere?†† Have they no sense of the clue, the hint, the landmark, the burning need for the adjacent street sign?†††
By the time I got to a car park somewhere near the centre of town, feeling that if I couldn’t find the yarn show I could at least go to Sainsburys and bury my sorrows in chocolate, which said car park would actually let me in rather than telling me that the apparent gate-like aperture with a clear view of parked cars beyond it was nothing of the kind and I had to enter by another gate-like aperture that a car could not, in fact, approach on account of the cemented-in bollards in the way . . . the car park was full of cars driven by people who had sacrificed virgin black goats to the appropriate gods earlier in the day.
But—! There was a brief lapse in the forces of anarchy and bedlam! THERE WAS A PARKING SPACE!!!! I hurtled into it, had only just bought my ticket and displayed it prominently on the dashboard‡ and was beginning to worry about where, exactly, Ancient Building Repurposed was in relation to Car Park that Will Let Cars In, when Pooka started barking at me‡‡. I knew it was Nina: I was thirty-five minutes late. I’m sorry, I said . . . No, no, said Nina, I’ve only just got here myself; I misread the bus schedule and. . . .
TO BE CONTINUED.
* * *
* She says she’s blocking out that weekend in her diary for next year NOW.^
^ Like all you Americans—at least all you east coast Americans, and there’d better be a few schlepping in from at least the Midwest and the southeast or I’ll feel underappreciated—are blocking out 13-15 February for Boskone next year. There will be a certain irony if Fiona has to go alone next year because I’m in Boston.
** The hellpack would also have preferred this latter option
*** I didn’t even have Fiona’s satnav to abuse.
† I would start seeing sepia photos of Prince Edward at any moment
†† No they were born with a silver computer in their mouths and the only time they venture outside is to go jogging, well wired up to their iPods and wearing dark glasses, or to pick up Chinese food/pizza when the delivery Vespa is broken.
††† Or the not so adjacent. At one point I found myself passing the hospital, which meant that I had gone from the wrong end of town to the right end of town but hadn’t noticed, and instead barrelled on through and out the other side and was now approaching . . . Wales.
‡ Ever had your Pay and Display ticket blow off the dash in the backdraft (presumably) of you closing the car door and be found several hours later in the footwell upon your return? I have. I am very happy to say that the Parking Enforcement Officer didn’t come to my end of the garage that day. Either that, or PEOs are specially trained to see through the dark of footwells to the honestly obtained ticket that may be lying there.
‡‡ Er. New Blog Reader Alert: my iPhone’s name is Pooka, and her default ring tone is a barking dog.
I was putting Pav’s harness and lead on for a hurtle late this afternoon while listening to the weather report on the radio. Dry for the rest of the evening and overnight, said the radio. Pav and I stepped out the door. It was raining.
I’ve spent way too much time looking for good Hampshire-flood photos for you. Is it because flooding, managing or trying to manage the floods and beginning in some cases to clean up after floods which may yet return is still very actively going on that the photo record of all the hoo-ha is such a mess? You google for ‘Hampshire’ and you get Gloucestershire, Dorset, Somerset and Wales, with a little Kent and Surrey thrown in. Not that Gloucestershire, Dorset, Somerset, Wales, Kent and Surrey haven’t been flooded too—poor old Somerset is in a bad way—but I wanted to show you Hampshire. Anyway you can troll through here—or not. These are all at least 2013-14—I think—although with the occasional disconcerting ‘historical’ flood photo, which may or may not be in Hampshire either. I found a really good Hampshire flood photo gallery but before I got too happy fortunately I noticed it was from two years ago. I don’t even remember flooding two years ago.*
Anyway. It’s already too late for Short Wednesday. Maybe we’ll have Short Thursday.
. . . bad weather IS claustrophobic, and inside with three hellcritters, one in heat and a bit too interesting to the others is definitely a major trial.
It was a lot more histrionic than a BIT too interesting. But she’s now OUT of heat and . . . Chaos doesn’t believe it. Darkness, while still inspecting her carefully every time she reappears, is reverting to his previous attitude, which is, Bark! There’s an interloper! Bark! Remove her at once! Bark! —Siiiiiiiigh. I was HOPING that there might be some positive long-lasting effect on their relationship as a result of that hideous recent ninety-four year stretch when she was on high spectacular heat and Darkness was her slave . . . but I guess not. Siiiiiiiigh. Meanwhile there is an effect on her relationship with Chaos . . . he doesn’t believe she’s off heat and keeps trying to hump her. Mind you, he’s humping the wrong end and he’s never got his—ahem—tackle out, so it’s not exactly Sex As We Know It Jim but it still must frelling stop. Arrrrrrrgh. The slightly funny thing, if I were in a mood to be amused which I am NOT, is that Chaos was a lot less bothered by the whole situation than Darkness was. Darkness was out of his tiny furry mind. Chaos was la-la-la-la Chaos, although he was happy to stop eating to keep his brother company. ARRRRRRRGH.
We convinced our old cat to come in during severe weather and she’s now convinced that–if she’s indoors–someone should be . . . paying attention to her anytime she’s not dozing. . . . Yowwwwwwl. Yowwwwwwl. Yowwwwwl. One critter is driving me frantic several times a day . . . I cannot even imagine three critters sharing the house with me.
Three critters keep each other company. This is why I brought two puppies home seven years ago. This does not always work out perfectly to plan (see: happy to stop eating to keep his brother company) and introducing a new one to an established hierarchy is always tricky, even if you’re not bringing a girl into a household with two entire males. But for a human prone to guilt resisting the huge mournful puppy-dog eyes is easier when your single dog is not alooooooooone every time you go out for a cup of tea with a friend.
Diane in MN
There probably is a way to adapt a bigger gauge pattern to a smaller gauge—isn’t there?—but in the first place it would require MATHS and would be beyond me and in the second place . . . I’d run out of yarn.
I do this kind of a lot because I knit tight and I substitute yarn, so getting gauge is not guaranteed for me. The arithmetic doesn’t go beyond multiplication and division, but you can find knitting calculators online that will do it for you. Here‘s a pattern conversion form that should do what you want.
Oh, cool. Thank you. I think.** I like the part about how all you do is fill in the first bit and it does all the rest, but I haven’t finished my swatch yet so I don’t know what unexpected tentacles may lie in wait. I have found the needles that make the right fabric however: 8 mm, so a whole two (or four, depending on how you’re counting) down from the recommended 10 mm. Hmmph. Yarn manufacturers. They know nothing.***
Deep v neck. Less yarn. Three quarter sleeves! Less yarn! Cropped!
Perhaps a dickey?
Yes, yes! A dickey! What a good idea! There will be enough left over for at least one mitten!
Deep v neck. Less yarn. Three quarter sleeves! Less yarn! Cropped!
At this point, I’m not sure there’d be much point left to knitting a bulky-weight pullover…
Snork. It must be hard, living a life of such strict rationality. Not one of my challenges.
There’s a very good Lion Brand pattern for a top-down raglan-sleeved cardigan, knitted in one piece (the sleeves are knitted downwards later), which is pretty much infinitely adjustable. Cast on enough stitches to go round your neck (high- or low-line), increase at the raglan points till big enough to fit round your chest at armhole level, put sleeve stitches onto holders and join up the gaps, knit downwards till long enough. Put sleeve stitches back on needle and knit till, er, long enough. Add a button band, either knitted separately and sewn on, or picked up along the front edges, if you want buttons.
So you leave yourself a ball, or two, for the sleeves (depending on how long you want them), allow another one for button bands, and you can knit the cardi till you run out of yarn!
Yes, I was thinking I’d look for a top-down for that reason—that, in fact, I need to overcome my circular phobia and learn to love some basic top-down thingy because I am a relatively small narrow person and short waisted with it and I’m pretty sure I could learn to squeeze a basic top-down thingy out of slightly too little yarn, which would be very nice. Do you have a link for the Lion Brand pattern? There are a million gazillion Lion Brand patterns and I tend to lose the will to live on their site pretty quickly. Also so many of their patterns are extra-large and up. When it’s some ordinary person on Ravelry who has created a pattern and she’s a 48” chest and her pattern is for 46-50” this seems perfectly reasonable. When it’s a frelling commercial yarn site, even though the patterns are free, it seems to me perverse that when you look at what they mean by ‘small’ it says 44”. Um. No. That’s not small.
Now you’re going to tell me there are pattern converters for this problem too.
. . . Meanwhile. It’s raining again/still. What a good thing wool stays warm when it’s wet.
* * *
* I remember five-foot-of-water-in-the-cellar 2000-01 very clearly.
** But I also knit tight and . . . substitute yarn? You mean there’s some other way to do it? You mean some people actually USE THE RECOMMENDED YARN? ::stops to fan herself::^ This comes up with me perhaps more than with better knitters: for some reason easy patterns tend to assume you’re going to use cheap acrylic or acrylic-mix-but-mostly-acrylic yarn. Noooooo.^^ You do get fancy yarns that suggest a simple pattern that will leave the effect up to the yarn, but not so much the other way around. Or maybe I just read the wrong magazines.^^^
^ Although that may just be another frelling hot flush
^^ The hellhound blanket is acrylic but they’re allergic to wool AND I AM NOT GOING TO WASTE MERINO ON CREATURES WHO ROUTINELY CLAW UP THEIR BED TO MAKE IT FLUFFY.
^^^ And so far as I can tell it’s a publishing rule that a knitting book shall not be issued till all its recommended yarns have been discontinued.
*** Nothing in comparison to someone who has been knitting erratically for about three years and hasn’t FINISHED anything but a few leg warmers and some baby bibs.
The expert bozos and the news-dispensing people are already saying that even if it stops raining we’re going to have excess-of-water troubles, including some increased flooding, for the next few weeks and possibly the next few months, because of saturation and groundwater levels and so on. And it hasn’t stopped raining. It rained yesterday. It rained today. It’s raining now.
According to the five-day it’s going to rain every day this week. It’s (maybe) going to rain less on Wednesday . . . but it’s still going to rain. ‘Sometimes heavy. Sometimes with thunder.’ Sometimes with three hellcritters linking arms/legs and bracing themselves against whatever is available* and thus preventing the hellgoddess from dragging any of them outdoors for a hurtle.**
It’s been sucky recently for other meteorologically inaugurated reasons. I didn’t make it to silent prayer Wednesday afternoon because the ME and the weather linked arms/legs and prevented me from dragging myself out the door and going anywhere.*** I cancelled going Street Pastoring on Friday, as I told you at the time. †
Saturday . . . I got to the monks’ a little early because I’d been worrying about water on the roads—one of the intersections not far from them is on the official list of closed roads, and I wouldn’t have said it was the lowest patch of country in the area—and then sailed (so to speak) through with minimal splashing. I noticed the monks were blacked out (also so to speak) more than usual—the abbey is often really dark when I turn up for Saturday night prayer†† but there’s usually a light shining somewhere. No light. As I walked down the path to the chapel the security light failed to come on. Power cut, I thought, but I kept going. They’re monks. Monks have been doing this for almost two thousand years. They’ve been doing it without electricity for most of that time. I assumed they’d break out the candles and get on with it. Maybe some of them would have blankets too, in the circumstances.
The door was locked. Nooooooo. Robin bursts into tears. It’s been a crummy week.
I’ve emailed Alfrick, but I have no idea when, or if, he’ll get it. I assume what’s happened is that they did have a power cut, but that they have no back-up for things like heat and cooking—they live on a frayed shoestring, so while I might have expected oil lamps, a camping stove and a substantial log pile for the fireplace(s), I’m not at all surprised at the lack of a generator—and most of them are, you know, old.††† The average temperature of their chapel is challenging enough. So I further assume they’ve evacuated themselves to somewhere that the central heating still works.‡ Or maybe I should say that has central heating. I just hope they don’t decide they like it and refuse to come back.
And then last night . . . I was going to go to church. I have three services I go to pretty faithfully every week, and I’d already missed two of them, due to circumstances beyond my control. I really had to get to church Sunday night because otherwise I’d’ve had no official public worship all week and would instantly become a heathen. And it shouldn’t be a problem; there was nothing too exciting going on with the weather. I mean, sure, it was raining, but the Pope is Catholic, isn’t he?
I need to leave at about 6:45 so at about 5:30 I stood up—from laptop on kitchen table at the mews—to perform evening hurtles.
And the lights went out.
We hung around, the way you do, waiting for them to come on again. I shut down and unplugged the laptop. Eventually Peter went off to have a nap and I took the first critter-shift out. It was only Peter’s end of town; I had power at the cottage. But the cottage is (still) full of stuff from Third House and my steep, narrow twisty stairs are not ideal for someone who had a stroke a few months ago and whose right leg still doesn’t work too well. Hellhounds and I hurtled back down to the mews, where the lights were still out. I took the second critter shift for her hurtle.
We returned. The lights were still out.
I didn’t go to church. We found a pub that (a) had power and (b) served dinner on a Sunday night. I dropped Peter off while I schlepped hellcritters, hellcritter dinner, laptop etc back to the cottage. I was very glad to see the glass of champagne Peter had ordered for me when I finally got back to the pub. And the food was really good: add that pub to our list for future reference. So I may be a heathen but I’m a well-fed heathen.
And Pav is definitely coming off heat. Yaaaaaaay.
* * *
* This is really easy at the cottage. Finding one’s way through is the hard one.
** I’m not cleaning any litterboxes.^ You’re going out. I admit that I’m a little disheartened that Pav the Thunderer, Pav the Riotous, dislikes rain as much as the hellhounds.
^ Cats are small. Maintaining litterboxes for a hundred and fifteen pounds of critter(s)? NO THANK YOU. Aside from where I would put this yacht+.
+ I seem to be preoccupied with watery things. I wonder why.
*** Also the village next door was under water and the way around is not only longer, it involves the kind of fast ‘A’ road I try to avoid when the ME is whacking me.
† The weather was plenty dire enough for me to be glad to be staying home, but not as dire as it might have been so I was enabled to feel horribly guilty for not going. But there was enough wind from an unfriendly direction that my eaves at the cottage started doing their banshee imitation, whereupon Darkness shot out of the hellhound crate and cowered trembling by the front door. Arrrrrrgh.
†† One of the minor pleasures of driving in in the dark is that while they’ve got a big official VISITORS WELCOME sign out by the road, there’s another small sign that just says WELCOME as you trundle down the little drive to the (unlit) car park—it’s like ‘just in case you thought we didn’t really mean it’—but if you’re coming in after dark your headlights pick it up and it’s like a smile from a friend.
††† Alfrick is nearly as old as I am.
‡ Have I mentioned that my central heating at the cottage crapped out about three weeks ago? Feh. But while my hateful bank is hanging onto my brought-over-from-America money for Bank Reasons that for some reason the government and judicial system let them get away with I can’t afford to hire someone to mend it. Fortunately I have an Aga, it’s a small house, and the weather is only really fierce in terms of precipifrellingtation, not temperature.^
^ Although being helped to dress by a hellterror, as I shiver by the Aga, is not ideal.