March 27, 2014

Shadows is here!

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.


** 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.



Once upon a time there was a carrier company. . . . Let’s call it Feebledweeb.  It’s been around a long time.  I had a lively and robust, not to say ranting, dislike of it over twenty years ago, before I left the States.  Before I discovered the true range of global carrier-company incompetence, creative perversity and aggressive unhelpfulness.

Feebledweeb made both of us crazy—although Peter bears crazy better than I do—back at the old house, when we were living out in the sticks of the sticks and there was a lot more hard copy in publishing than there is now.  Feebledweeb at the time was, I believe, the only carrier that would pick stuff up in the sticks of the sticks of southern England and deliver it, more or less safely and in one piece, to a Manhattan highrise.  And vice versa.  Maybe.  With a following wind.

They did, however, make their services coughcoughcoughcough as difficult and unservicelike as possible.  They toyed with the concept of timed arrivals, and even at that they could never be pinned down to anything more exacting than before noon or after noon.  But that was still better than ‘some time in April, and if you’re out, we’re going to reschedule you without telling you for some date which may or may not be at least six months in the future, oh, you have a deadline?  You should have thought of that before you took your dogs on that totally gratuitous walk, shouldn’t you?  And what do you mean by being so self-indulgent and unprofessional as having dogs that need walking in the first place?  We may not reschedule you at all, you’re not our type.’  Which system is what they reverted to.  All day, any day, whatever, if you don’t like it you can hitchhike to the coast and swim to Manhattan.  But being cruelly imprisoned by a time frame of before or after noon was giving their drivers palpitations and random crying jags and Feebledweeb are totally committed to employee welfare.


And then Peter and I moved into town.  And there seems to have been rather a boom in carriers, some of whom are no worse than dire and unreliable.  But Feebledweeb, unfortunately, seems still to control the frelling transatlantic routes.

Now it will amaze you to hear this, but I am not the perfect client.  I want to believe that I mostly behave myself with Merrilee, but Merrilee’s subrights department has little cause to love me, and it would not stun me with flabbergastery that there’s a doll hanging by the neck in a corner of the subrights department with a pin through her heart and a banner reading ‘Robin McKinley’.  I lose things.  I don’t remember ever having seen things.  When I send things back it turns out I signed the wrong pages, or didn’t sign enough of them*, or I didn’t put the date on when I should have or did put the date on when I shouldn’t.  And then New Arcadia’s post office exploded and was removed and rebuilt using reject Lego in the back of the village grocery, you’re no longer allowed to bring your critters with you to keep you amused while you wait in the endless queue**, and I, having been a borderline*** post office user since I moved over here†, became, um, pathological.

Re-enter Feebledweeb.  Who will come to my house and fetch my botched, ill-signed documents, and cart them off to a subrights department across the Water, where they will be the cause of screaming and nervous breakdowns—only some of which will be because I screwed up (again).

Recently we’ve been having a nice little extended torment trying to get Feebledweeb to do what it says on the tin/envelope.  Subrights and I got all excited—briefly—because according to Feebledweeb’s web site, subrights could include a prepaid return envelope with the documents I’m supposed to deal with in some way other than the way I will deal with them, and I can just pop them in the return envelope and post them in an ordinary post box, and Feebledweeb will take it from there.

Yes, they will.  They will deliver it back to me again with large red marks and seals all over it declaring that I am a liar and a cheat and that I haven’t paid them and their dog is going to pee on my shoes††.  We gambolled through this amusing cycle, I think, three times.

Okay.  The next plan of action is that we are going to revert to the earlier system of their coming to my house to pick up the envelope of mangled documents.

Feebledweeb were supposed to come last Wednesday between ten and two [sic].

Nothing happened.  Nobody came between ten and two and there were no postcards through my door when I returned after belated gratuitous critter-hurtling [see above].

Subrights emailed me anxiously that they had spoken to Feebledweeb again and Feebledweeb would now come this Wednesday between ten and two.

Monday I received a phone call from a very pleasant, very fluent young man with a very strong Indian accent, confirming that Feebledweeb was going to be fetching a parcel from me today—Tuesday.  Er, I said.  Wednesday.  Tuesday, said the young man firmly.  Okay, I said.  Tuesday.  What time?  Noon to three pm, he said.  Fine, I said, in fact, great, and wrote it down.††

Ten minutes later the phone rang again.  This time it was a woman with an English accent.  Confirming that Feebledweeb is picking up a parcel from you tomorrow, she said.  Yes, I said, between noon and three pm.  Certainly not! said the woman.  You can ring up tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. and they will give you your allocated time slot.  But— I said weakly, I have just been talking to someone at your call centre in India . . .

Ring tomorrow at nine, commanded the woman.  We never give out advance time slots.‡

I was downstairs and putting my tea water on at eight forty five this morning, I hope you’re impressed.  At 8:59 I rang the number the woman had given me.  Another woman answered and asked for my tracking number.  I gave it to her, watching an unmarked white van backing up the cul de sac and stopping in front of the cottage.  We have no record— began the woman, and there was a knock on the door.  Excuse me, I said, hope flaring in a sharp uncomfortable way, there is someone at the door.

I threw the door open . . . and there was a man in a Feebledweeb hoodie.  YAAAAAAAAAY,  I said, and thrust my envelope upon him.  I may have said one or two things . . . particularly because this is a guy I know.  Several of the regular drivers for the various carriers are regular enough that us (regular) customers say hi when we see them on the street.  FEEBLEDWEEB MAKES ME FRELLING NUTS, I may have said.  The guy held up his hands (my envelope in one of them), grinning.  You are not alone, he said.

He departed.  I picked up the phone and discovered . . . the woman had cut me off.  Never mind.  The package had gone.  And she rang back to say that the driver had just confirmed pick up and tracking number and all was well.

Five hours later I received an email from the subrights department saying that they had just got off the phone from Feebledweeb, re-verifying that one of their agents will pick up my envelope tomorrow, Wednesday, some time between ten and two. . . .

* * *

* I start to lose the will to live after about the ninety-third copy.  Why does the president of Dormidalump Multimedia Cupcakes and Related Pastry’s wife’s brother’s assistant’s hamster need a copy of the contract anyway?  I’m not sure I like the idea of CHALICE being turned into singing apple strudel, even if Merrilee did get a paragraph in there about how they had to use honey.  I should have held out for baklava . . . but that still doesn’t explain the hamster.

** It seems to me very sad that Pav may never have the fabulous experience of waiting in an endless post office queue.

*** Borderline as in personality

† THE POSTMISTRESS HATED ME.  SHE DID.  She also retired some years ago, but THE TRAUMA REMAINS.

†† Note that (a) the payment for this interesting process is coming out of the money that passes through Merrilee’s hands on my behalf and (b) apparently even if they believed they had been paid . . . they would still deliver it back to me again.  Because they can’t read.  Or because they can’t design forms that are readable.

††† He then asked me where I was from and acknowledged that he was Indian and calling from India. The thing that interests me though is that these overseas call centres have a very bad rep, which is mostly well earned, but allowing for the fact that Feebledweeb is messing him over as well as messing me over, the phone line was clearer than mine to Peter often is and he was intelligent and articulate and able to answer questions . . . off the sheet of bad info they had given him, but hey.

‡  Of course not.  OF COURSE NOT.

My debut, continued


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.

—Um.  Hmmm.

^ 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.

Wet photos and dry yarn


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.*

Hampshire flood photos 2014

UK weather: Britain braced for more flooding

Scenes from Hampshire village of Emsworth as floods hit

Winchester residents battle against rising flood water

Basingstoke flood photos

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.

More moaning


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?

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