July 17, 2014

Shadows is here!

I Don’t Want Another Week Like This One Please: Relapse

 

You may have to wait another day (or two) for how I got to yesterday, including the two days on the sofa in a coma, the vague realisation* Sunday afternoon that I hadn’t actually eaten anything in about forty-eight hours which might be contributing to my extreme lassitude, etc.**  The point is yesterday I was better.

It’s been hot this week and muggy with it*** but mostly it eases up and cools off in the evenings which have (mostly) been pretty fabulous in the long summer twilight.  So I was attempting to take patient hellhounds† for the first half-decent hurtle they’d had in about six days.  In a light-headed moment of madness I decided to take a look in on the rec grounds, where I never take hellhounds any more because of the other people’s dogs problem.  Lo and behold, fate appeared to be being unnaturally kind:  there was a game on, one of those sports involving men in shorts kicking a ball.††  Hurrah! I thought.  That means people will be keeping their dogs on leads to keep them off the (unfenced) playing field.

You see where this is going.

We were skirting the edge of the game, and I was paying more attention to not getting hit by a wild ball than by what might be coming up on us from the outside.  While the playing field is flat there’s a bunker type slope off it with a few trees marking the boundary and then a gradual hill in its original contours.  So you don’t necessarily see what’s bearing down (or up) on you till it’s much too late for evasive action.  Not that it would have done us any good in this case.

I turned around idly in time to see a brown-and-white torpedo, ahem, surging toward us.  CALL YOUR DOG! I shouted, thus destroying in three syllables what my cheese-grater, broken glass and drawn-dagger sore throat had begun to recover from.

There was no human in sight.

I’ve seen this dog around town with its people.  Joy.  It’s local.  It’s a half grown Staffie cross, I think, and it’s growing up big.  Unless there’s a line of (presumably show) Staffies with longer legs, this one’s got something else in there.  Mastodon possibly.  It’s not aggressive yet, but give it time.  It’s clearly growing up to be a thug.  It sailed into the hellhounds with none of that piffling puppy posturing and Chaos, who is ordinarily happy to play with the most bumptious puppy, was . . . well, at first he was only nonplussed.  I was more worried about Darkness, who is still pretty fragile†††.

A 12- or 13-year-old girl shambles up and makes a couple of ineffectual grabs at the Young Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.  Eventually, and this is now over a minute since this delightful meeting began, some idiot woman who has finally, I don’t know, got off her mobile phone and noticed her dog (and her daughter) have disappeared?, comes streaking up over the bank.  Where has she been?  And she proceeds to tell me that I should stand still so she can grab her dog.  YOU SHOULDN’T LET IT OFF THE LEAD TILL IT’S OBEDIENT! I shrieked, thus setting convalescence and the possibility of my ever singing again‡ back by six weeks or half a millennium.  She realizes, perhaps, that there is no reasoning with me—no, there isn’t—and attempts to concentrate on seizing her miscreant.

The whole episode took probably five minutes.  This is a long time when it involves an off-lead dog out to make as much mayhem as its adolescent brain can yet conceive.  The only bright spot—aside from the fact that it hasn’t fully grown into its obvious gift for malice—was that Darkness, probably because he was still drugged to the gills, was only unhappy, he wasn’t doing his full protective berserker thing thank you God.‡‡  Chaos, however, was increasingly freaked out, so Young Stay-Puft concentrated on him.

I didn’t think about it at the time—I was too busy trying to hang onto my distressed hellhounds in my own not too steady condition, and with this bloody woman telling me to keep still—but I’ve thought about it too much since.  It wasn’t just the torpedo approach or the lack of puppy love-me moves.  All the brute’s hair was up and its head was low and its look intent—and it singled out Chaos because he was providing more fun.  In six months it’s going to be eating small children.

I despair.  And after that adrenaline spike, I’ve been back on the sofa again—you were going to get the first somewhat-post flu bulletin‡‡‡ last night.

And my throat hurts.

* * *

* Very vague:  you don’t think well in a coma

** Also, at sixty-one, you don’t have the bounce you did ten or forty years ago.  You can just sleep—or coma—off a lot when you’re twenty, and then get up groggily at a strange hour, make a large platter of scrambled eggs, and be fine.  At sixty-one you need a little more continuing support.

*** Speaking of producers of lassitude

† Let me also say that the hellpack have been brilliant this week.  Granted hellhounds start hating the heat even sooner than I do but they do still like to get outside for a panting, oppressed and put-upon amble, and they’ve only been getting slow groping turns around the block for necessary purposes with me leaning on the trees and stopping at every bench—thank God there are benches both in the churchyard and the wide strip of green alongside the road to the mews.^  And the hellterror, bless her manic little heart, has been amazing.  Now, also granted that she is highly self motivated and you can pretty much just let her out of her crate and stand back while she caroms off the walls, but even overseeing her is exhausting when you’re only about .05% of normal.  I’m not even sure she got fed as often as usual.  But she was always glad to see me and did not take advantage when I tottered outdoors with her—she could have had me over if she’d wanted to—and went cheerfully back into her crate^^ and was quiet for hours without complaint^^^.  Like the man said, You can’t always get what you want/ But if you try sometimes well you just might find/  You get what you need.

^ I’ve had three dog minders, each one more disastrous than the last.  I really don’t want to start the countdown to catastrophe on a fourth.

^^ suitably bribed

^^^ Except of course when someone came to the front door or the wind through the garden door made a funny noise or the dishwasher went click-clump as it changed cycles or the book you had been pretending to read fell out of your nerveless hands to the floor or she objected to the music on the radio+ or . . . whatever.  She’s still a bull terrier.  However she is also a bull terrier who shuts up when requested.++

+ She was right about this.  It was Harrison Birtwhistle.  I managed to assume verticality long enough to turn it off.

++ After only a little grumbling.  Unless it’s clearly pirates and I’m just not taking the threat seriously enough.

†† I have no idea.  Although there are several men in shorts kicking balls sports, I believe.

†††  See:  I do not want another week like this one, and, you may have to wait for the details of how I got to yesterday.

‡ I am really missing singing.  It’s like missing a body part.

‡‡ Yes.  I wish I knew why God doesn’t solve the off-lead dog problem that has very nearly wrecked my pleasure in having dogs.  The hellhounds’ little peculiarity about food pales in comparison.

‡‡‡ Trust me there is plenty of material.

The announcement you’ve been dreading

 

. . . insofar as ‘dreading’ is a suitable word for anything that happens on a blog.  As I say (regularly) to Blogmom when I’ve screwed up yet again, ‘It’s a blog.  Nobody dies.’

Well, nobody dies, but this is the week when you will not get a KES for the foreseeable future.  This flaming sore throat is showing no sign whatsoever of folding its tents and silently stealing away.  And it’s wearing me down, you know?  It’s no worse than it was on Wednesday, it’s just no better, and the rest of me is following it down into the abyssal pit of lethargy* and brainlessness.**  And I’m not going to post a KES ep until I’ve had a brain available to look it over with first.  As I said last week, the Black Tower interpolations were a late addition, but once one thing has come a bit adrift other things tend to follow.  Story-telling entropy.  Or A Sound of Thunder.***

And you know one of the worst things about this extremely unpleasant lurgy?  Chocolate doesn’t taste good.   How am I supposed to comfort myself in my affliction when I am denied chocolate?

* * *

* Hurtling my two shifts of hellpack is interesting in a losing all your money in Las Vegas, your house just fell down or your beloved just ran off with a fireperson^ and what really hurts is that he/she took the dog^^ kind of way.  As I staggered after them I was thinking it could be worse.  The hellhounds are pretty frelling laid back at the moment possibly because they stopped eating again and there’s a limit to the amount of force feeding I have the morale/energy for, and at the moment I can’t talk to the vet because I can’t talk.  But they don’t require miles across rough country as they have been known to do when they were younger, possibly because at present their bellies are starting to stick to their backbones.^^^   And the hellterror . . . on a long extending lead, I can just mosey along while she hucklebutts her little cotton socks off . . . bringing me especially desirable, well-chewed, sticky and drooly sticks and plastic bottles occasionally so I don’t feel left out.  Gee.  Thanks.

I don’t actually get this sick very often.  I was lying on the floor with my head in the hellhound bed# last night listening to this:   http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b048ngny ##  and thinking, I remember lying on the floor with my head in the hellhound bed listening to that bloke read Paradise Lost on Radio Three and that was several years ago.  Uggggh.  Not nearly long ago enough, if you follow me.  I could have gone on not feeling this bloody for any number more years.

^ My mind seems to run on fire for some reason

^^ And dogs.  For some reason.

^^^ I know they don’t like the taste of the drug they’re on,  because back during some recent era when they were occasionally eating, if one of them missed their drug-laced dinner and the other one didn’t, I was liable to find the one who was facing a rerun of the drugged food trying to eat the drug-free final snack of the other.  They need to be on this *&^%$£””!!!!! drug, it’s working, but it hasn’t worked enough yet.  I am so frelled.

# I changed their bedding Wednesday night.  It’s all nice and clean+ and a good deal softer than the floor.

+ If HAIRY

## This should be Hesperion XXI at the York Early Music Festival.  The BBC web site is such a nightmare I never trust it.  But if it isn’t, you can look it up on the schedule, Thursday night at 7:30 on Radio Three and it’s fabulous.  I think it’s one of those only available for seven days, so get it while it’s there.  I’m going to listen to it again.

** I was supposed to go Street Pastoring tonight.  Not a chance.  Whimper.  I keep wondering where I picked up this particular lurgy.  See previous entry about the downside of interaction with other human beings.  It could have been last Saturday on the street, for example.

*** I’m not a big fan of Wikipedia at the best of times.^  So it’s probably not surprising I feel that the article on ‘the butterfly effect’ might have mentioned the Bradbury story.  I know there’s a difference between the beating of butterfly wings creating major weather and the wrong guy getting elected because your big fat boot stepped on one back in the Cretaceous^^ but . . . the butterfly effect article even mentions that it’s a popular trope in SF&F.

^ And that meatloaf at the head having come out as rantingly, pathologically against homeopathy+ means I will stay not a big fan

+ Let me just say that anyone who thinks homeopathy is nonsense hasn’t done their homework=

= Self-prescribing is not ideal–see above about not posting a KES while I have no discernible brain–but I am walking.  Sometimes a lurgy just has your name on it.  And back in the days when I still believed in standard medicine I got prescribed an awful lot of garbage that did me significant harm.   Whatever this is, it’ll go away . . . eventually.

^^ How do we know it wasn’t the microorganisms in the soil?  Just because the butterfly is flashier?

Summer. Ugh.

 

We’re having summer.  Eh.  I hope it goes away soon.  I like daylight fine—us old people need our vitamin D—but HOT HOT HOT FRELLING DAZZLING SUNSHINE IS OVERRATED.*  And it’s thunderstorm weather so for even those of you (strange) people who like hot-hot-hot-frelling it’s not good hot-hot-hot-frelling, it’s oppressive and headachy.  I always get up in the morning [sic] feeling like the slurry in the bottom of your dishwasher but days like today it’s all I can do to play tug-of-war with the hellterror.**

Or by evening be capable of writing a blog post.***

Unnnnnngh. . . . †

* * *

* A certain heroine of a certain book might disagree with me.   Although I don’t think even Sunshine wants her tyres—tires—melting into the pavement.

** This is an IMPORTANT PART OF THE MORNING RITUAL.  I stagger downstairs in my semi-decomposed state and get my tea and the hellterror’s breakfast^ started.  Then I brace myself and let her out of her crate while the hellhounds cower in the back of theirs.  She goes out for a pee in the courtyard and then comes indoors and checks all the corners for escaped kibble.^^  And then at some point while I’m peacefully mincing leftovers to make her tinned food a little more exciting^^^ she will trot up purposefully carrying her long yellow rubber toy and if I don’t notice quickly enough she will whack me with it, smartly across the calves.#

Let me just say that any woman who worries about her upper arms## . . . consider purchasing a hellterror, or other square, solid critter with jaws that could chomp for England, and spend serious time playing tug of war with it.  It will adore you, and you will have beautifully toned upper arms.

^ Have I mentioned that my local bird population is nuts?  I’ve spent all this frelling money on bird feeders and bird food and THEY DON’T EAT IT.  By the end of the winter I was tired of dumping out (expensive) mouldy bird food and scrubbing the frelling bird feeders so I . . . stopped.  I took the one most prone to morphing its contents into sticky black sludge down altogether—it’s still around here somewhere all cleaned out and innocent-looking—and left the other three up.  The wire fat-ball container in the apple tree does have some turnover, but I can’t see it that well from the kitchen window so I’m not absolutely sure it’s not mice, there being a vibrant mouse population in my garden.  The suet block and seed feeders sway gently in the airy zephyrs and . . . over the months their fardels have become pretty disgusting-looking but I have other tasks ahead of dealing with superfluous feeders for ungrateful avian passers-by.

About a month ago I noticed that the by now black suet block was . . . diminishing.  Eh.  It was probably struck by lightning when I wasn’t noticing.

Nope.  Birds.  They ate the whole thing.  Ewwwww.  And, furthermore, the day that I noticed it had disappeared entirely there was also a crabby looking bird sitting on top of the feeder, swapping ends occasionally the better to keep watch for whoever was in charge of REPLACEMENT and also occasionally bending down to peer, in a significant manner, into the still offensively empty feeder.  Just in case the bungling factotum was nearby and could be brought to awareness of her failings.

I bought a suet block that day.  I put it in the feeder.

That was, I think, three suet blocks ago.  I assume this is the Hungry Gap—which is always later in the year than I expect it to be—so I’ll be interested to see if the little feathered ratbags have now got into the habit, or if they’ll drop me again as soon as something better comes along.

^^ Since the hellhounds have stopped eating altogether and force-feeding+ is not an exact science++, this tends to be worth her while.

+ Aside from little matters like starving to death or the fact that the hellhounds’ unique internal economy goes haywire if they miss more than one meal, this new drug they’re on has to be given with food.

++ Not when I do it anyway.  Siiiiiiiigh.

^^^ Given that it’s ORGANIC the PRICE is quite EXCITING ENOUGH FOR ME.

# Speaking of the somewhat uncontrolled exuberance of youth . . . there’s been a great spreading glob of building work near here since last winter.  They were supposed to be finished by the end of March.  Anyone with experience of Great Globs of Building Work will not be surprised to hear that they are still not finished.  The most annoying thing about this particular glob is that it’s closed off a footpath that everybody in this town uses, including the youff.  Now generally speaking teenage anarchy holds no charms for me but occasionally I do enjoy watching it take on self-righteous adult admin.

The glob admin reopened the footpath briefly about a month ago and then—no, no, mustn’t have that!—changed their minds and closed it off again.  They closed it off by sticking a big gate panel in the gap in the fence they were now regretting.

Over the first weekend, the local youff knocked it down.

Next weekend, the admin attached it to the gateposts with these little plastic loop things like the builders’ version of the plastic loops that hold price tags on clothing.

The youff cut the loops and knocked the gate down again.

This weekend just past, the admin chained the panel to the posts.

The youff dug out the bottom of the panel and shoved it back far enough that they and, possibly, a cranky old lady and her ebb and flow of hellcritters could get through.

The admin have now lowered and tightened the loops of chain.

Stay tuned.

## And doesn’t have a change-ringing bell tower available^

^ With my usual caveat that good ringers do not use brute strength.  I am not a good ringer.  But I have unembarrassing upper arms.

*** Maybe I’ll tell you about my voice lesson tomorrow.

† Fortunately we have a oscillating fan so both Darkness and I can get some churned-up air.  Neither Pav nor Chaos seems to mind that much.

Ow, continued

 

Last night* did not begin well . . . when I shut Wolfgang’s front passenger-side door on my thumb.

I was very good.  It was urble-mumble o’clock in the morning** so I did not scream to make the welkin ring, although there was some fairly dramatic hissing, and the thirty seconds or so it took to hustle the frelling hellhounds into the car—they dork around and dork around looking for THAT ILLUSORY PERFECT PLACE TO PEE—may have been the longest thirty seconds of my life*** before I could pelt back indoors and fish out the arnica bottle—with, you know, my other wounded hand, the one with the slightly cracked finger.  Meanwhile I don’t suppose my thumb had really blown up like a balloon on an electric bicycle pump but . . . close.†  So last night I took the other half of the bottle of arnica I’d started the night before when I semi-broke my finger.  And last night’s insomnia was made more interesting by my thumb going BANG every hour or so necessitating me to sit up, groggily feel around for the arnica bottle, and take another tiny pill.††  Plus a certain amount of hypericum.†††

And today my thumbnail is turquoise.  I think it’s slowly turning black, the way squashed fingernails do, but it was a positively brilliant turquoise this morning.  New experiences.  I could have done without this one.  This is also the first time since my discovery of the wonders of arnica that I’m going to have a black fingernail anyway.  Sigh.  I hate black nails;  it takes a good six months for one to grow out—on me, anyway.  And it makes you look so hopeless.  No one ever got a black nail saving the universe.  It’s always because you’re a dolt and you shut your finger in a door.  I need more sleep.  I’m not usually quite this self-destructive.

Meanwhile . . . at the moment neither hand works very well.  And except for the fact that it’s my left thumb which is superfluous to requirements on a keyboard, it’s a lot more inconvenient than the middle finger on my other hand.  No opposable thumb.  No grasping.  Also I can’t hit the brake on Chaos’ lead—now that’s dangerous—and Pav is usually on that side too, but I can at least make a wild poke with my right thumb.  But it’s REALLY GREAT TIMING that I have two sub-functioning hands when I’m trying to yank us toward readiness to move house.  Which in this case chiefly means BOOKS.  Lots and lots and lots and lots of books.‡

Ow.  Ow.

* * *

* And by night we mean that time at the end of a long evening which reaches well past both the big and the little hand on the tick-tock^ device sticking straight up, and begins with that fell and doom-laden moment I face the necessity of loading sixteen hellcritters and enough kit for an assault on Everest in January into Wolfgang to make our slow bleary way back to the cottage.  Well, that’s how it feels.

^ I’m sorry, but all the best clocks still go tick-tock.  And have hands.

** Which is late even for me.  Well, I’d been having a long semi-unplanned conversation with an across-the-pond friend earlier, not for lack of trying to create something like an advance strategy.  NONE OF MY TECHNOLOGY WORKS.  NONE.  Am I only suffering from aggravated nostalgia, or am I right in thinking that back in the days when street mail and telephones were your only options, they mostly worked pretty well?  TESS OF THE D’URBERVILLES wouldn’t make you crazy if misdelivered letters were a commonplace.^

^  ANGEL CLARE IS A MOULDY DOG TURD.  Just sayin’.

*** Although the rather fewer seconds between bouncing off the side of a caroming car and watching the ground rushing up toward my motorcycle and me also took a surprisingly long time.  I’ve told you this story, right?  Well, I haven’t told you in at least six months and it’s one of my favourites.  I was lying there in the road and someone who’d pulled over and stopped his car came running up to me yelling, Son, son, are you all right?  And I said, Well, you could get this motorcycle off my leg, and he said, Oh my God it’s a girl—and ran away and was never seen again.  Although he was probably responsible for the deluge of fire trucks and ambulances that began to arrive shortly thereafter.  This was—gleep—over forty years ago.  No one, including William Gibson, was entertaining any fantastic notion of mobile phones yet.  You had to go find a phone booth or one of those EMERGENCY PULL/PRESS HERE boxes.

† I want to know—well, I think I want to know, graphic gore is not my thing—what happens if someone who’s shut a toe or a fingertip in a car door^ doesn’t have a source of cold water or arnica to stop the swelling?  Fingernails don’t stretch.

^ All those jokes about silly-putty steel in modern vehicles are suddenly not funny.  But then one of the reasons some of us like VWs and Volvos and various not-I-think-exclusively-German four-wheeled bombs is the higher percentage of real steel in their composition.  A headlong juggernaut will still take you out but a careening lorry might not.  I think there could be some research done into rubber door mounts however.

†† Plus the two phone calls and two no-you-don’t-have-to-sign-for-it-but-we’re-still-going-to-knock-on-your-door-and-wake-you-up-again deliveries.  In their defense, both deliveries were after nine a.m.  And I sleep in clothing I can answer the door in.^

^ Kes is telling herself that sleeping in chainmail would be really uncomfortable.

††† Hypericum is another really basic homeopathic first aid remedy.  For injury you always start with arnica, but if it needs some help, hypericum is particularly good for nerve-rich bits like fingers and toes and your coccyx.  Also for injuries that stab you repeatedly.  This one echoed very unpleasantly not just through the rest of my hand but up my arm to my shoulder.  BANG.

‡ The Oxfam bookshop is going to ban me.  No!  Not more classics of English literature that no one reads any more!^

^ I’m keeping Dickens and Faulkner.  And Anthony Trollope.  And Hardy.  And George Eliot.  And Elizabeth Bowen.  Some Conrad.  Some Henry James.  And a ridiculous amount of poetry.  Willa Cather is out.  F Scott Fitzgerald—out.  Madame Bovary—out.  Most of the Russians—out.

Rant revisited

 

Didn’t get a lot of sleep last night—so what else is new—last night was however aggravated by shooting awake every time a hellcritter sighed or got up to scratch its bed into a more salubrious shape.  Siiiiiigh.  There have been no further outbreaks today . . . although the night is young* the current digestive miscreant, having eaten his dinner, looks pretty crashed out. . . . That sound you hear is me crossing my fingers till they squeak.

More baby plants showed up in the post today and the Winter Table is full.  There hasn’t been a proper frost in town this month I think, but baby plants, having been intensively reared in massive great commercial greenhouses, are fragile little creatures and you can’t just whack them in potting-on pots and plonk them outdoors.  You have to ‘harden them off’ as they say which in practise, since my greenhouse is full of stuff and I have no earthly room for a cold frame, means that if we’re having a run of chilly nights I have to bring them indoors every evening and back outdoors again every morning.**   Arrrrgh.

So, where was I, in my not-very-good-mood way last night?  Aside from the prospect of a lot of moving of plant trays back frelling indoors while trying not to trip over the hellterror***, there had been a certain supernumerary  force to my rushing outdoors into the garden yesterday afternoon†, aside from the latest stack of baby-plant-containing cardboard boxes arriving in the post, which, yesterday, was pretty well an avalanche. ††

What is it with people.

I regularly receive requests via email for help with the frelling papers people are writing about me and/or my books.†††  The vast, catastrophic, overwhelming majority of them ask me the same blasted questions . . . most of which would be answered far beyond the scope of any seventh or eleventh grader’s term paper requirement‡‡ with only the most cursory glance at my web site, let alone doing a little diving via the ‘search’ facility or the ‘topics’ list on this blog.  I’ve ranted this rant to you before—several times in fact—how can all these jokers even arrive at my public email address WITHOUT HAVING NOTICED THE SUGGESTIONS THAT THEY READ THE FAQ FIRST.  OR THE GENTLE REMINDER THAT I’M, YOU KNOW, BUSY AND THAT ANSWERING QUESTIONS TAKES TIME.  But they do.  In their relentless marching regiments they do.  Yesterday I received a follow up from someone who clearly thinks that saying please and thank you is enough.  Reading the FAQ is not necessary.  This person is capable of writing me a sheaf of long, complicated questions and putting a note in their diary to follow up . . . without ever looking at the FAQ.   First contact in this case included a plug from the kid’s teacher,‡‡‡ telling me how wonderful the kid is—and this kid may very well be wonderful, but they nonetheless need to learn to do their homework—and how (the teacher continued) my thoughtful informed answers were going to help this student chart their course through college and into their chosen career of professional writer.  PLEEEEEEEEEEZ.   This follow up, unannotated by the teacher, generously offers to answer any questions I may have. . . . §

Standard caveat begins here:  Of course I want people to read my books.  I need people to buy my books so the hellpack and I can keep eating.  And I love fan mail:  I looooove it when some reader takes the time, speaking of time, to tell me that they enjoy my books.  A really warm and/or clever and/or funny fan letter (or forum comment or Tweet or dreaded-Facebook post)  makes my day, and sometimes my week.  But I will never learn not to mind that a lot of people out there don’t recognise me as a human being essentially like themselves with a life—and, furthermore, inevitably limited expertise even in my professional domain—and behave accordingly.§§

Today I got a fresh request for help on a school project.  This one addresses me as ‘Mrs McKinley’ so I don’t have to read any farther to know that this person hasn’t made any attempt to do their homework. . . .

* * *

* as I count young.  But how can ‘one’ or ‘two’ or even ‘three’ not be young?^

^ Unless you’re a hamster.+

+ And you’re talking in years, not hours.  A three-hour-old hamster is young.  And one o’clock in the morning is MORNING and last night is dead.  So—wait—‘the night is young’ has to start at like two o’clock in the afternoon. . . .   Nights are never young . . . Hey, I’ve just invented a philosophy.#

# How did I get into this?  And where’s the door?

** Given when I am staggering out of bed lately, they’re going to get distressingly etiolated if the nights don’t warm up soon so that I can leave them outdoors to greet the dawn and all those distasteful hours immediately following.

*** Who is very interested in people rushing back and forth in a purposeful way.  Hellhounds know to crush themselves in the back of their crate and not stir till it’s all over.

† Well, I’d been outdoors kind of a lot already:  it was such a glorious day I took both critter shifts^ on country walks which was self-indulgent but . . . fun.^^

^ A little old lady said to me yesterday, every time I see you you’re walking a different dog.  There are only three, I said, but I mostly walk them in two shifts.  Oh, said the little old lady, and I could watch the thought process in her expression:  first she accepted the answer to this question that had been puzzling her and then, moving right along, this little old lady being a quick thinker, I could see the woman is mad dawning in her eyes.

^^ And since I won’t leave critters in a car because of the dog-theft problem, it’s also very time consuming.

†† Also aside from the fact that Outlook decided not to let me in yesterday afternoon.  No.  Won’t.  And I don’t like your password any more either.  Bite me.  —ARRRRRRRRGH.

††† We’re already in trouble:  the books are the books, they’re there, you don’t need me, and chances are very good that if you’re going in for literary criticism I’ll think your penetrating insights bear a strong family resemblance to mouldy root vegetables^, and you’ve got no business writing about me at all.^^

^ You know, really mouldy, when they’ve gone all squishy

^^ Yes, I read biographies.  Your point would be?

‡ When’s the last time I got a blog post out of an interesting question from someone writing a paper on me?  Exactly.^

^ Although the kid who wanted to know what it was like growing up with all those half-siblings made me blink a bit.  I wonder who they thought they were writing about?

‡‡ And with luck will so derail under- or post-grad thesis topics that the students will decide to write about something else

‡‡‡ ie an adult with adult responsibilities.  Plugs from teachers aren’t that uncommon, but they always depress me more.

§ The fact that this was the first email Outlook let through after Raphael told me how to make it behave was not destined to improve my attitude.

§§ You don’t walk up to a doctor at the supermarket and ask them to diagnose the rash on your leg.  You don’t write a letter to a lawyer asking them what their daily schedule is and how and why it makes them a better lawyer.  You don’t tell a blacksmith you want to borrow their tools because anyone can shoe a horse if they have the right hammer.

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