Okay, let me get the really embarrassing stuff over with immediately.
I enjoyed it. I had FUN. I am planning on putting myself on the official St Margaret’s rota.*
Whew. That was hard. I enjoyed singing Jesus Is My Boyfriend** music [sic]. In public. How totally humiliating is that.
Sunday, which was sunny and fabulous, passed under my own personal cloud of prospective dread. I did do some singing warm up because I wanted some chance at some voice and I tend to shut down to a tiny rasping squeak like a single lonely cicada when I’m nervous. I didn’t warm up exactly brilliantly.*** And when I crept into St Margaret’s I was not encouraged by the sight of Aloysius ALL BY HIMSELF except for the woman who was going to be running the tech deck helping him lay out the cables. He had said in his email that the names on the rota were a bit thin this week. . . .
Fortunately it wasn’t as bad as that. Samantha appeared deus ex machina, saying that she hadn’t been planning to sing that night but she had realised that I was going to be all alone and she couldn’t do that to a new girl. Eeeeep. Thank you. Eeeeeeeeep. And then Sinead, another rota singer, wandered in and said that she couldn’t do her proper rota day and maybe we could use her tonight? YES. PLEASE. HERE, HAVE A MICROPHONE. Hamish, the church office magician, appeared, spun his spurs and strapped on his six-shooter. Er. Bass. But that was all. No drums. No keyboards. No random woodwinds. No vicar—he’s always there.†
We plunged into practise. I was on the near end with Aloysius just at my right shoulder which is very good because not only does his guitar give me the key I’m scrabbling for but he’s a nice strong tenor and I’d already told him he had to sing the melody. The first couple of songs are a bit of a blur. I was holding the mic as if it was going to morph into something with six heads and forty-seven incisors per as soon as I stopped staring at it like it was going to. The Hammered to Death by Fluffy Bunnies song was substantially less diabolical with the new line-up but we had to go through it several times since I had no clue about what it was supposed to sound like—and of course there was no sheet music. And then Aloysius had to get fancy and bolt a couple of songs together so you slide into the second one without a break and then revert to the previous one for a chorus repeat WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO TO US YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS.
I don’t really know what happened except that I think I can hear God laughing. My voice woke up. And the last couple of songs I actually kind of like††—especially the one which is in a reasonable range, so many of the Jesus Is My Boyfriend songs lie on my voice like bricks on custard, it’s like the aural version of trying to wear someone else’s prescription glasses, and neither singing up an octave or down an octave works. But here were two I could sing.
And I did. And furthermore . . . and this is where I know I was taken over by an alien personality . . . I started singing free harmony. I do not sing free harmony. I can learn a harmonic line, given the sheet music and about six months, but I cannot just frelling riff off a melody. Whoever she was, Sunday night, using my voice, I hope she visits often. That was serious fun. At the end Sinead gave me a hug and said, I can tell you like that song!
And then the live performance—I mean the service—was pretty much falling off a log. Problem? There was supposed to be a problem?
There are one or two things to mention here. First, St Margaret’s evening service is small and informal. It’s not like anyone was going to be nasty to me even if I screwed up big time. And I don’t exactly guarantee I was pitch perfect even while the self-confident alien babe was singing. Second, most of the Jesus Is My Boyfriend stuff is dead easy, especially if you’re used to beating your brains and ripping your own throat out singing stuff that is significantly beyond you because you take voice lessons and your voice teacher needs something to do, right?††† It should be easy: people who don’t take voice lessons should be able to sing their church’s worship music.‡ And third . . . I was just telling someone who asked me how I ‘learnt’ to do public speaking . . . I didn’t. After my BEAUTY was published they sent me out on the road and I discovered I could do public speaking. It’s like one of those James Bond things: the car develops waterwings or the knapsack is also a rocketblaster. I CAN DO PUBLIC SPEAKING? WHAT? WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? Aside from little questions like whether I can sing or not, apparently singing in public doesn’t make this agonising doubt any more agonising.
How frelling bizarre. I did think it was at least possible that if I didn’t freeze up, singing for purpose—helping to lead the service—would let me like the floppy, soppy music we sing better, and make it feel more like an offering of worship instead of a mortification, ashes and hair shirts optional. And. Yeah. But I wasn’t expecting the harmony—or the high.
* * *
* Unless someone stops me. Noooooo! She’s too loooooooud! She drowns out the keyboard! —Ugly. Mwahahahahahahaha. —slightlyadaptedhellgoddess^
^ I belong to the Love Wins camp, remember, so if you’re asking me, all reigning in all the various hells—ie the nice somewhat confused ones and the really unpleasant ones—is temporary. Which is fine. I’m sure I’ll be ready for a new challenge when my particular corner of hell disintegrates.+
+ There will be chocolate, champagne and critters in heaven, won’t there?#
# Of course there will. And the roses WILL HAVE NO THORNS.
** ::falls down laughing:: Thank you, dhudson. I love this. I’m also glad that it seems to other people that there’s something CREEEEEEEEPY about a lot of this sticky music: I’ve been describing these songs as frelling power ballads only it’s God instead of your boyfriend/girlfriend/groupoffriendswithprivileges. Dhudson’s phrase cuts to the chase.
Although some of the old gospel hymns, which is what I grew up with and are about the only positive memory I have of church as a kid, aren’t exactly faultless in this area. I’ve always loved In the Garden, and it’s one of those I’ve been singing for fifty-odd years and did not have to relearn the lyrics when I started singing while hurtling as a way to shortening the warm-up when I get back to the piano and the Italian art songs etc^, but it’s always struck me as doctrinally a little dubious:
He walks with me, and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known.
^ Also I’m beginning to enjoy the looks on other pedestrians’ faces when I don’t shut up in time and lyrics like ‘On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise’+ register on their unsuspecting ears, which in this modern well-zombied culture may rouse an unfortunate secular response.
+ Which I confess I tend to belt out with all the new Nadia-power within me.
*** I also crack a lot when I’m nervous. How many ways is this going to be a disaster.
† Vicars. They take holidays. Who knew?
†† No, no, not like! Oisin will never speak to me again!
††† HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. And for my latest stupid trick I’m learning Victor Herbert’s I want to be a prima donna—aka Art Is Calling to Me—mainly because it’s silly and I’ve always loved it for being silly. It also has a high Bb. The thing, as I told Nadia, that is really irritating is that I have a high Bb . . . when I’m doing the frelling washing up. As soon as I get near the piano it jumps out the window and runs off to Cornwall. Or Canada. I assume this is common, you can remember a note long enough to check it on the piano? Yes that is a high Bb, but try and do it again suuuuucker. . . . . Nadia says, just rewrite it for now. You can put the Bb back in later.
‡ I don’t have a problem with that; my beloved gospel tunes are pretty much the only music on the planet that I can more or less play on the piano with both hands by sight-reading. Easy. Very, very easy music.
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.
It’s raining again.
Pav is, of course, still in season.
Darkness is driving me bonkers.
Three is not the charm.
Diane in MN
Darkness is seriously lovelorn. Aaaaaaaaand has stopped eating altogether.
Darkness is not unique in this. Lovelorn boys frequently stop eating, so they can concentrate on the only and most wonderful girl in the world that you’ve hidden away somewhere.
Yes, I’ve met anguished canine swains before now, but they were not my problem. Also, NORMAL dogs NORMALLY eat, so if they hit a FOOD IS THE ENEMY patch they don’t go skeletal in forty-eight hours.
. . . I cannot imagine much worse than a bitch in heat . . . and two male dogs inside the house in a spell of rain and flooding. So the sympathy, and the awe that you are still sane dealing with it.
I AM NOT STILL SANE [she screamed]. NOT. Not only is Darkness not eating* but he’s started doing this little tremulous singing thing that makes me want to kill. him.
Diane in MN
Sometimes they start calling for their beloved.
AAAAAUGH. This noise doesn’t even sound like a dog. It sounds more like something hiding in the whooshing pine trees while Kes hides under the covers in her friend’s Adirondack cabin. Unfortunately I know that it is a dog. A dog that desperately wants to be TURNED INTO A HEARTHRUG. He also just whines, of course. I hate whining dogs.
(Sometimes she calls back. ::shudder::)
Well, Pav has occasional tantrums, but I think that’s about being locked up more than usual rather than about a woman wailing for her demon lover. So to, um, speak. But she’s not pushing at the boundaries of canine articulation the way (*&^%$££”!!!!!! Darkness is**. I’ve ordered the bitch pants, rather after the fact, but this is only the second week and while with the luck I haven’t been having much of lately things will start to calm down the third week, if the pants*** arrive promptly I’ll still give ’em a try.† It’s not like I don’t think I could stop anything happening before it finished happening—sometimes the size differential is your friend††—but I would expect the pants to muffle the effect somewhat, including [graphic description omitted because this is a family-friendly blog†††].
Meanwhile . . . I said it was RAINING? It’s hammering it down out there again now—as I know because I’ve just been ferrying [sic] my assortment of hellish creatures back to the cottage in it, because I have a few more management choices at the cottage. Hellterror has a brief sprint outside as a final opportunity for eliminatory functions; hellhounds expect a ten-minute to quarter-hour stroll around the churchyard. We are going to die.
We actually had a few hours of that random and not-entirely-persuasive phenomenon, sunlight, again earlier. I took Peter to the farmer’s market and the hellhounds and I went on into Mauncester for a city walk. Golly. Egmont Street, pretty much at the bottom of the river valley, is sandbagged: everybody’s gates and doorjambs are barricaded. The river’s exploded its banks and sprawled across the road; people in wellies briskly step over the sandbags at the doors and go about their business. The river footpath that has been officially closed for some time now—that I have reported previously people are walking on anyway, self and hellhounds included, and splashing through the places where the river has climbed up to play with us—is now genuinely closed: the footpath is a frelling millrace, and I am not exaggerating: white water rafting at your doorstep. You can’t even get to the red dedicated-dog-crap bin; you have to go on to the next one.
And, speaking of dog crap. . . . If I don’t post tomorrow it’s because we never got back from the churchyard tonight. . . . ‡
* * *
* We had a brief exciting moment at lunch when, the hellgoddess having stuffed the first two mouthfuls down each of them, Darkness ate the last two by himself.^ And therefore Chaos refused his, because we can’t have two hellhounds eating at the same time.
^ A four-mouthful lunch. Yes. We’re pretty much on starvation rations because as previously observed there’s a LIMIT to the amount of force feeding I’m willing to do. If B_twin were here this week she might think about it a little longer before she said she’d seen skinnier dogs.
** I’ve tried singing (*&^%$££”!!!!!! Daaaaaarkness but it’s a little . . . screechy.
*** I went for their best-selling black with pink spots. You did click through on that link the other night, didn’t you?
† And there’s always next time.^ Yes I’ve thought of stowing her up at Third House but by next time that option shouldn’t be available . . . and I don’t actually like leaving a dog all by herself for long, especially one who isn’t used to it—especially one, furthermore, who is already being stressed out by her hormones—dogs are pack animals and some of the other three or four of us are pretty much always around in Pav’s life. Also she has a rather majestic bark for something that weighs thirty pounds and I don’t want her making any unfortunate impressions on Third House’s neighbours.
But I’m certainly going to have to come up with A Plan. But not until after the current epic is over: I have no brain. I’m as strung out as frelling Darkness.^^
^ I know I look like a clueless wonder not to have expected something like this . . . but dogs and bitches vary. Sighthounds are often just not very engaged, as I have said, with things of the flesh, and the hellhounds’ attitude toward food might have led me to false hopes. And I know dog people who have both genders entire in the same household and hair does not turn white overnight and nobody sleeps in a dustbin+. Of my three Darkness is the problem. Pav is such a trollop anyway I can’t see a lot of difference, and when she protests her incarceration she just sounds CRANKY. Chaos is certainly interested, and I wouldn’t leave him and Pav alone together (!!!!!!!!!!) but he’s not ruining anyone’s life over it. Darkness is. Mine.
+ That would be the human in supposed charge. A well-padded dustbin with a soundproofed lid.
^^ Although I’m a little curious about the mechanism in my case. Is it just that the situation is MY PROBLEM? Am I picking up their stress level? Are the pheromones—and to my dull human nose Pav only smells a little more strongly like she always does+—winding me up in an unconscious UH OH TROUBLE way? I would have thought excited mammalian hormones might have a generalised effect.
+ which just by the way isn’t much like the standard dog smell. Maybe bullies are a different species.#
# Known, however, unfortunately, to breed successfully with dogs.
†† Diane in MN
Mind you, she’d have to stand on the sofa.
Maybe not. Two minds with but a single thought can perform surprising feats of cooperation, alas.
True. I’m sure there are dachshund/Mastiff crosses out there. But one has also seen, for example, a pony stallion giving his all between the tall thoroughbred mare’s thighs, and not where it’s going to do the job. The point is that there is a sofa here, and I don’t want my reprobates figuring it out.
††† Although I was very impressed at the woman who tweeted me that she and her eight year old had enjoyed the Oatmeal link I posted the other night.
‡ I know, tomorrow is KES night, but you can’t murder me if I’ve been washed away now can you?
It’s raining. Whiiiiiiine. It held off long enough this morning that I managed to hurtle everyone, including myself of course, extra hard, against the forecasted likelihood that by afternoon we’d need water wings. Or a helicopter. And, those being the choices* would elect to remain indoors. Hellhounds are major wusses about rain** so I took them out first***. It was beginning to leak increasingly by the time the hellterror and I were on our way out but she’s, you know, a dog, and she shakes herself and gets on with it rather than turning hopeless and pitiful.† Although hopeless and pitiful is to be preferred when you get home again and are trying to towel off a whirling dervish.
I’m trying to remember the last time we had a proper country hurtle. We skirt the town perimeter occasionally but real countryside is all eyebrow-deep in mud and washing everything you’re wearing again gets old very quickly as well as reusing already muddy critter towels because you’ve only got 1,000,000 and they’re all wet, including the recently-washed ones steaming off as fast as possible on the plug-in heated-airer rails.†† And there’s no amelioration to needing several raincoats which you wear in rotation, to give them a chance to dry out. Not to mention the permanent aroma of wet hellcritter. †††
Sigh. And to add to the joy of the assembled the hellterror, as previously observed, is in season. The last few days I’ve been determinedly getting her out for an extra walk(s) so I can have the excuse of keeping her locked up in her crate more indoors. I know the smell of lurrrrrve is pervasive but the hellhounds seem to cope reasonably well so long as she’s not, you know, swinging her booty in the immediate vicinity—which she does whether she’s in season or not. Aside from longer crate hours she’s not having a good time, poor thing, she throws herself around like that swollen thing sticking out behind her is uncomfortable, which it probably is and FORTUNATELY she and the hellhounds don’t seem to have any clue that together they possess an answer to this situation. Mind you, I’m patrolling the bzzrgrmph out of any time they’re loose together, so they do not have the opportunity to experiment. The kitchen floor at the cottage is never so clean as when there’s a dripping hellterror occupant: she’s worst in the morning, for some reason, maybe just because overnight is her longest stretch shut up. But she also doesn’t understand why I don’t seem to want her in my lap at the moment—you can see the thought bubble: All This And No Lap??—so we have sacrificed a clean dry towel toward rectifying this sad situation. Now an ex-clean towel.‡
We’re going to a concert‡‡ tomorrow night when I usually go to my monks, so I went to the evening prayer service tonight. There is water everywhere. When it started chucking it down again after B_twin left we were back to standing water that made the landscape dazzle when the sun managed to come out for a quarter hour or so. By now we’ve got above-ground water torrenting down the roads and drowning the pedestrian pavements. I was thinking as I sloshed after the hellhounds this evening on a brief pee run that I’m going to have to start wearing my hiking boots in town: the water sluicing over the pavements is higher than the rubber edges of my All Stars.
With the rain pouring off my leather jacket as well as my umbrella I met Alfrick on my way into the abbey—trying to shake off the worst on the mat by the door before I left trailing-wet footprints down the corridor—who raised his eyebrows and said, Where did you park the ark?
On the way home again the long queue of traffic on the 60-mph bypass was going 35, because of the amount of water on the road. And I haven’t even told you about how the main road into New Arcadia has been dug up by the water company, and we all have to take the back way which involves sliding off the hardtop into the sticky trough that is what the shoulder has become, every time you meet a car coming in the other direction. . . .
* * *
* And helicopters are expensive
** I’ve never decided if they hate their raincoats because they hate their raincoats or because they only ever wear them when it’s, you know, raining. And I, as Putter On of Hated Raincoats, am doomed either way. Nor have I ever managed to convince them that the hellgoddess’ remit does not include the weather.^ Today I decided to cut my losses and not put raincoats on.
^ Hellgoddess: Guys . . . you really think THIS is the weather I would conjure if I could conjure weather? COLD? WET? HORRIBLE?
Hellhounds: Well, you make us eat.
Hellgoddess: AAAAAAAAAUGH AAAAAAAAUGH
Hellhounds: ::blank innocent looks::
*** They came with us to the farmers’ market and had a wonderful time moseying through the back streets with me while Peter negotiated with vendors for emeralds from Samarkand and so on. But when we got home and I took them out again immediately you could see them giving each other the hairy eyeball and wondering what my problem was.
† Hellgoddess: Guys. You won’t melt. I promise.
Hellhounds [faintly]: Oh you can’t possibly be sure. [Hellhound delicately raises paw. Delicately raises second paw. Attempts delicately to raise third paw. Other hellhound is trying to hide under a hedgerow.] This is particularly . . . penetrating rain.
Hellgoddess: It’s been seven years. You haven’t melted yet.
Hellhounds turn two pairs of huge golden eyes^ reproachfully on their goddess: Today is today. The last seven years have been the last seven years.
^ Dark They Were and Golden Eyed. If hellhounds are part Martian it could explain a lot.
†† I might almost be thinking about a proper electric tumble dryer if I had anywhere to put it.
††† I actually rather like the smell of clean wet dog. Just not all the time.
‡ Which I have to keep folded up and out of hellhound reach. LIFE AND PROCREATION ARE SO RATBLASTED GRUBBY.
‡‡ That is Peter and Nina and Ignatius and I, not the hellpack and I.
Joy. Not only are we having the wettest January since records began* but the month has decided to go out roaring like a lion** and tomorrow, according to the local doomsayers, is going to be a big fat drooling ratbag with fangs, high winds and thunder. And Peter and I will be heading for the farmer’s market just as it’s working itself up to landscape-trashing mode.***
The stroke unit appointment today was nonthreatening but a bit anticlimactic—at least after we (a) found a parking space and (b) found the correct frelling building. I’d allowed approximately twice the time we should need and very little of that is to do with the fact that Peter walks slower than he used to—most of it is to do with the whole assailing-Tartarus aspect of any close encounter with that labyrinthine epic of a hospital. Gah. They’ve managed to change the road lay-out—again—for the approach to the main car park. I don’t even understand how they can keep doing this, which they do, I think some of the more peculiar outbuildings must be plastic or papier mache or something and periodically the largest, hulkingest members of staff on duty go out in the dead of night—having forethoughtfully prepared a small distracting emergency at the other end of the conurbation—and move them around.
Then, of course, because the car park facilities are wholly inadequate, we couldn’t find an empty spot. Adrenaline spike. Peter would miss his appointment and it would be all my fault and the prime minister would sign an anti-Robin sanction forcing me to give up my secret yarn of mass destruction stash.
We found a parking space. Then we had to find the right building, and while we’ve been to the Reignac-sur-Indre wing before, when they move the rubber buildings around of course they screw up your landmark system as well.† The hospital is generously bestrewn with signposts, but they rarely tell you what you want to know: Tiger pits this way. Overflow car park, guaranteed full, that way. Exobiology unit this way: warning possible contamination issues. Finally we found one for Reignac-sur-Indre. Or rather we found two: the external route and the internal route. What? I don’t want to have to make frelling decisions. Just tell me how to get there. I opted for the external route. Mistake, of course. It was probably twice as long.†† When we finally arrived I was confounded by the lift. Fortunately Peter pointed to a button I hadn’t noticed and said, try that one.
We were on time. Just.
Peter’s stroke doc is a ridiculously young Scot who does the jolly upbeat routine rather well. And he didn’t have a magic wand††† (oh well) but he did emphasize that the road back from a stroke is long but—if you’re lucky—pretty open-ended. He also had Peter’s scans up on his computer and when I asked he ran through them, explaining what we were looking at and that was fascinating. Much rather not be in the position for this kind of fascinating, but . . .
We went back to the car park the short way. And while it’s too late for me to go to bed early††† I could go to bed no later than usual and maybe shave a few minutes off 11 a.m. tomorrow . . . maybe.
* * *
** That’s March, you know, the lion thing, although the entire set up seems to me bogus. Or at least personally I would say that lamb-like is not a description I would usually apply to any part of March.
*** We could go earlier, Peter said hopefully. Eleven a.m. is early, I replied.^
^ Hey. Not only does the caffeine need time to work+ I have an assortment of critters to hurtle.
+ I’ve tried getting dressed first. It’s pretty funny in a why-can’t-humans-be-covered-in-fur-like-most-mammals way. Although in terms of necessary clothing there’s also the several-times-daily melodrama of getting the hellpack’s harnesses on, which is at least as diabolical as trying to find two matching socks from the unsorted heap of clean laundry on the bed#, and which mere caffeine is not really sufficient defense. The hellhounds’ either play cat’s-cradle with each other in ways only comprehensible to life forms more flexible than thick stolid humans or they have a rich, complex sex life that thick stolid humans can only dream of.## The hellterror’s harness, marooned in solitude, has instead developed a speciality of always being too small when I try to snap it around her chest. Once it is snapped . . . it fits fine. But getting the two bits of the buckle within closing distance of each other? I’d suspect her of holding her breath, like a horse that doesn’t like the girth tightened, but she’s too busy snorkelling for kibble bits, which requires a good deal of huffing and grunting.
# Or two matching All Stars from the heap under the shelves by the front door.~
~ All right, they don’t have to match. But they have to relate to each other in an interesting way.
## Straps. Strap guards. D-rings. Buckles. Oooooh.
† Also, they repaint them. The buildings. When they move them around. So you look ahead and think, wasn’t there a green shed somewhere about there—? Yes. There was. It’s now yellow, and behind you.
†† Peter would miss his appointment and it would be all my fault and . . .
††† What he did have was two medical students sitting in, both women and both non-Anglo which is very pleasing in a world where a good deal less than my lifetime ago^ any doc that wasn’t white and a bloke was exotic if not downright bizarre. You did see the occasional white woman but I think I was a twenty-something in Manhattan before I saw either a black woman or a Middle Easterner of either gender any higher up in the medical hierarchy than nurse.
But the really interesting thing is that one of them today was taking her notes with a ballpoint pen on lined notebook paper. (The other one had an iPad, but its cover was not pink.) I was fascinated by this, and said something to her. Oh yes, she said, of course she has and uses a computer, but for note taking she still prefers paper.
Golly. Hard copy is not dead, even at the individual level.
^ Let me just insert here that the medical students were RIDICULOUSLY YOUNG. I’m sure they’re too young to be in medical school.
†† Two hours on the phone to Hannah may have something to do with this.