March 26, 2014

Shadows is here!

Gardening. Continued. Indefinitely.


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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

++ With footnotes.

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

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

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

### Trained horticulturists.  Double feh.

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

My debut


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 THISALSO, 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 . . .


* * *

* 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?

Behind the headlines it was an exciting weekend


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. . . .


* * *

* 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.

Long range forecast: continued sucky


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.


I wish I’d never learnt even the concept of dogs


Pav is still in full bloody streaming heat and I want to run away from home.  Except I can’t because Darkness is trying to starve himself to death and my severely chapped hands* and I are the only thing(s) between him and the ultimate whatever.**  At that we’re not doing a great job.  He’s lost so much weight that he disappears behind his final pair of ribs:  there’s just spine and a tail.  Chaos is eating badly*** but he does occasionally eat a few mouthfuls that I haven’t had to pry his jaws open and stab down his throat.  A few.  He’s also pretty awesomely ribby—but Darkness is worse.  I have the radio turned up REALLY LOUD which goes a little way toward drowning out the incessant moaning.  I do frelling separate them for some hours during the day, usually taking the hellhounds back to the cottage and leaving Pav at the mews.  This doesn’t work as well as you might think.  There is less moaning, but it doesn’t stop altogether, and there is a lot of pacing and anguish.  She’ll be kidnapped by aliens, their agonised looks declare.  She’ll run off with a mongrel.†  And I feel like a bigamist, trying to satisfy two families.  And failing, of course.

I usually have a voice lesson on Mondays.  Ordinarily both voice lessons or the prospect of a voice lesson cheers me up but I feel that this week is a good week for Nadia not to have been teaching.  In the discouraging annals of Things That Squash My Voice Down Flat the present circumstances rank rather high.  Peter and I decided to have an excursion, this Monday afternoon without a voice lesson, but since neither of us is feeling exactly lively and enthusiastic†† we kept thinking smaller and smaller and . . . smaller. . . .

We went to the library.  Or what used to be the big regional library and is now the Random Media Centre full of random media.†††  And a few books. ‡  And a rather nice café.‡‡  So we hit the cheezy SF&F section first and then I took a detour to the knitting shelf ‡‡‡ on our way to the café.  And then we sat and read like a couple of old married folks out on an excursion.§

Of course then I had to go home to the hellpack. . . .

* * *

* My hands now smell permanently of dog food no matter how much I wash them^.  This is kind of off-putting when you’re eating chocolate.

^ Ow.  Yes, I’ve thought of one-use gloves.  But force-feeding is a delicate operation and even latex gloves are clumsy.  I suppose if I thought I was going to be doing this the rest of my life I’d learn to use the gloves.  But I’m not going to be doing this the rest of my life.  Pav is going to come out of season any minute.  And hellhounds will revert to being ordinarily crappy eaters rather than pathologically crappy eaters.  SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH.

** Yes.  Critters go to heaven too.  I say so.^

^ Although some of them may have quite a lot of repenting to do first.

*** But then Chaos never eats well.  He’s secretly convinced that he could live on air, if only I’d let him try it out properly.

† I don’t know if this is because Aroma of Bitch in Season hangs heavy on the air, despite frequent changes of hellterror bedding and mopping of crate and kitchen floor, or whether they’re just, you know, not stupid.  I have frequently noticed that dogs are not stupid at just the times when you wish they were.

†† Also there are these, you know, floods.  They do get in the way.  The uni campus on the outskirts of Zigguraton is impressively under water.

††† And men with beards.  HUGE beards.  Long thick massive losing-small-animals-your-iPhone-and-the-tickets-to-tonight’s-concert-in type beards.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many gigantic beards in a smallish area before—and they weren’t with each other for the Southern England Beard Festival either.  So what is it about beards and random media?  Not all geeks have face hair and only one of these guys really looked geeky.

Snarl.  It’s a bit of a vicious circle.  Us book people are proportionately less likely to hang out at libraries the fewer books the new random media centres contain.  But libraries are morphed into random media centres because fewer people seem to be reading books—in hard copy anyway, she adds hastily.  Also . . . how many of us Book People suffer from Too High a Percentage of Disposable Income Is Spent on Books-itis, plus Life Is Short and the TBR Pile is Tall?  Although in my case what eventually killed off most of my go-to-the-library instinct is that the centralised Hampshire library computer system stank and I got tired of wasting my time.

‡‡ Not only did they have acceptable weedwash—I mean herb tea—THEY HAD SOMETHING I COULD EAT. ^


In case you’re wondering.

‡‡‡ The knitting half a dozen beat up old books quarter-shelf, speaking of snarl.  Knitting is popular and fashionable, you not-paying-attention random media people.  BUY MORE KNITTING BOOKS.

§ Okay, now here’s the philosophical debate.  I brought two of the knitting books home with me.  They’re both out of print.  One of them only has two patterns I’m interested in;  the other one has several, plus some useful-looking general how-to-design-your-own-version stuff.  Neither of these books appears on ravelry, and while the author of the book that appeals to me more has a lot of individual patterns from other books available for individual purchase, I don’t see any from this book.  I’ve wasted some time on google looking either for a used copy or for non-ravelry knitting sites where this author might also hang out.  Nada.

Now I’m a little touchy about copyright, since I myself earn my living thereby^—you can also insert a terse rant here on the subject of secondhand book sales kicking back nothing to living authors^^, so looking for a secondhand copy of the book I liked is just a kind of twitch, rather than any courtesy to the author.  But these books are OP and I’ve made a genuine attempt to find the patterns I’m interested in for sale somewhere.  Do I now brashly make photocopies?  Or not?  And if I do am I a bad person?  And if I don’t . . . why don’t I?  Presumably it’s legal, moral and non-fattening to knit something from a pattern from a library book?  Does it remain legal and moral as well as non-fattening only so long as you are doing it directly from the book?

I imagine the answer is that I don’t make copies, because the rights still belong to the author and there’s always a chance she’ll resell them somewhere—or hang them on ravelry or similar.  There’s also that feeling that instructions to make something are somehow different in kind to, say, fiction, but that’s probably illusory.  Creative rights are still creative rights.^^^

^ And so long as society still uses money, piracy is bad and evil and just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s free or that you’re not making some creator of something’s life unfairly harder and punching them in the morale they need to maintain to go on creating stuff you want.

^^ Paperback exchange and ‘reading copies’ for a few dollars/pounds, no blame, no harm.  But the signed first editions that go for a lot of money?  That’s stealing.  Full stop.

^^^ Please note that I write the blog last thing anyway and at the moment I’m even more chronically short of sleep than usual.   But it does seem to me that on-line knitting sites, chiefly ravelry but there are others, are a game-changer about knitting patterns.  Maybe I write to the author(s) on ravelry and ask her/them if any of these patterns are going to be reissued in a new book or possibly hung on ravelry?

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