April 8, 2014

Shadows is here!




I know.  I don’t do politics.  Well. . . .

I am, I admit, frequently appallingly clueless about the realities of . . . reality.  I know I’m a wet bleeding-heart knee-jerk la-di-dah liberal but I forget how far from the mainstream that sometimes takes me.  Take gay marriage.

I do know there are still rabid homophobic enclaves out there but that’s what I expect them to be . . . enclaves.*  In the modern First World at least I expect anyone my age and younger to behave in a polite and tolerant way;  if they have private caveats about certain intrinsically harmless and productive subgroups of society they keep this to themselves.  That government tends to be butt-heavy with old fogies is one of those sad facts of reality, but I’m rapidly approaching old-fogey status myself so the obvious stuff should be getting dealt with as there are more old fogies like me in Parliament—or Congress, or the Orwellian farmyard, or what-have-you.  So we finally got civil partnerships here in the UK for gays a few years ago—so they can have insurance and inheritance and hospital-visiting rights and so on just like hets, well duh—can gay marriage be far behind?

I don’t keep track of this kind of controversy—I know, bad me—because it makes me too crazy.  I don’t keep track of all the anti-women stuff still relentlessly going on out there** either, for the same reason.  It makes me feel too small and too helpless and too ANGRY:  human rights are human rights are human rights.  There’s nothing to discuss.***  So I’ll just go on writing my stories about Girls Who Do Things—and keep my head (mostly) down out here in rough and ratbagging reality.

While I was as appalled as everyone else—everyone on the wet-liberal side anyway—about the C of E blocking women bishops again, there was enough general outrage that the church synod what-you-call-it managed to cram a fresh vote through before time, and there’s at least been progress, although there’s a bit too much havering about what they’re doing to keep the paralytic-tradition fogies from mutinying again.  But I remember—as a separation-of-church-and-state American—being fascinated by the suggestion that if the C of E didn’t get its act together promptly about women bishops Parliament would make them.

So.  Gay marriage.  It’s legal in the UK.  Finally.  But the C of E is saying no, no, a thousand times no, I’d rather diiiiiie than say yes.  WHAT?  You can’t just look for a sympathetic priest—even wet liberals like me will acknowledge that tolerance tends to be a continuum—it’s illegal for a C of E vicar to perform a gay marriage?  This is the Church.  Of.  England.  That’s how it works over here.  And Parliament isn’t going to say, ‘Do it and shut up’?  WHAT?

And—and this was my personal snapping point—the frelling Archbishop of Canterbury is saying gay marriage would be ‘catastrophic’ for Christians in other parts of the world because it would leave them vulnerable to violence by anti-gay mob rule?  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26894133  WHAT?  Where are you drawing the line, mate?  Or what line or you drawing?  Being a Christian at all in certain parts of the world is still dangerous.  The tradition of violence and martyrdom goes back to the beginning—um, the crucifixion, um?—and ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ has always been a crummy policy.  If the early Christians hadn’t been such arrogant little twerps, insisting on going around shooting their mouths off about Jesus being the Offspring of God, they might have believed what they liked in the privacy of their own homes, as long as they didn’t do it on the street and frighten the horses or piss off the local tyrant.  Not to mention that appeasement of bullies and murderers doesn’t have a great track record for success.†  I hope our Most Reverend Justin is being quoted badly out of context.

It was Aloysius who pointed out to me, in a calm, holy way, that gay marriage is very, very controversial in the C of E—and at the moment the traditionalists are winning.††  And I’m a card-carrying, fee-paying member of this organisation?  Aloysius—who admits to being frustrated by the ban himself—says that we’re supposed to pray for change and love those who disagree with us.

ARRRRRRRRRGH.  Personally I’d rather have a flaming sword.

* * *

^ The Samaritans question you-as-applicant pretty closely about your attitude toward homosexuality but I half-thought they were joking.  In my wet-liberal way I can’t imagine wanting to do something like take shifts on a people-in-emotional-extremis phone line and not sympathise with gays who do have more of a struggle with society and expectations and okay and not-okay than hets do.  Not wholly unlike, to my eye, women have more of a struggle with society etc than men do, or non-white people than white people do.  Etc.  Humanity = ratbag.  Sigh.

** http://everydaysexism.com/  Everyone know this one?  Read it and weep.  I don’t read it very often, because of the weeping thing, and the blood-pressure headaches, and the wondering whether anything ever does get better, or whether it just goes round in endless circles.  The early Christian church had women in positions of power, for example, but it didn’t last.  Here’s a bit more about Laura Bates, Everyday Sexism’s founder:  http://www.independent.co.uk/biography/laura-bates

She’s on Twitter too:  @EverydaySexism

Go for it.  I’m glad someone has the grit.

*** Anyone thinking of writing a counter-diatribe on the forum, please take note.  Also, it’s my blog.

† I want to know why these people think that the presence of Christians is going to turn them homosexual?^  Is it something we put in the water?  There’s a word that’s struggling to surface in my aging and forgetful mind—wait for it—EDUCATION.  You know you can educate people about lots of things.  Like that the existence and maintenance of heterosexuality in the Christian church is actually rather common.

^ Which is of course the worst thing that could possibly happen to you.  Worse than gangrene!  Worse than Sarah Palin for president!

†† Scripture!  Yes, I know!  But we don’t cut people’s hands off for stealing any more, or stone people to death for adultery!  And if you’re asking me, which you probably aren’t, as well as welcoming gay marriage, there are a lot of abused kids out there who are let off honouring their fathers and mothers!



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.

In medias res


Let me see, where were we?  Well, where was I . . .

I still have a dead car.  I rang up the garage this afternoon and most of the parts have arrived . . . but not all of them.  Of course.  This is how it goes.  The flusterdamitter is still en route from Enceladus* and won’t be here till Wednesday.  Or Thursday.  Whimper.

The hellpack and I stream** up and down main street on foot, pitter patter pitter patter, to and from the mews.***  I am poised to try to rent a car if Peter wants me to . . . but I’m not going to unless he does.  The worst of the week is over:  I’ve already missed my singing lesson.

And I have a definitively dead washing machine.  The repairman’s wife, who is also his secretary and office manager, rang back today to say that the necessary part is obsolete.  Sigh.  Meanwhile I had had a look on line for washing machines and there aren’t any that say HAS EXTRA-STRENGTH FILTER.†  CAN STAND UP TO THREE HAIRY DOGS.  I have asked Mrs Repairman to ask her husband if he can recommend one.  Meanwhile when I contemplate the likelihood of my carrying large knapsacks of dirty/clean laundry up and down main street in the near future the idea of a rental car starts to look pretty good.

* * *

* They relocated the factory because those cold water jets make cooling all that molten steel^ a snap.  Also native labour is cheap.

^ As if they made cars out of steel any more.  HAhahahahahahahahaha.  But Enceladus’ surface contains substantial deposits of rmmfglorple, which makes really great Car Plastic.

** New Arcadia is mostly not streaming any more, but down by the river there are great chunks of the path missing where the water has undermined it till it collapsed.  There’s at least one spot where you have to leap, and for some reason you don’t see as many pushchairs^ on that path as you used to.  The river is still really high all along its length and at the most exciting point it’s broken up through actual paving slabs, where an overstressed tributary is joining the main flow and it’s gushing out across the path and torrenting down the little hill built over the confluence.  It’s strong enough to wash away small children and unwary dogs, and the hellterror, who is a bit of a delicate flower for a bullie, doesn’t like it much.  You might have thought legs that short couldn’t do a decent passage^^, but you’d be wrong.  But the look I get nearly burns through denim.

The dog-encounter stories just keep on however, and we’re trapped in town at present.  Saw what is possibly the nastiest of our local dogs again a few days ago—off lead of course—this thing is totally known to be dog aggressive.  I was out with Pav, fortunately, not the hellhounds, saw dog and murder-worthy owner.  No-jury-would-convict-me owner looked at us, glanced around for his vicious off lead brute . . . and then kept on coming!  ARRRRRRRRRRGH!  —Pav and I crossed the road.

My most recent meltdown, however, was a day or two before that.  I’m not the only near relation with dogs at the mews.  We’ve had mostly minor encounters with the worst offenders but one of these is a border collie type—it’s either a crossbred or a very badly bred border collie—who is the kind of aggressive-manic that gives border collies a bad name^^^.  It’s frequently loose, of course.  Arrrrrrgh.  The other day Pav and I were coming back from our afternoon hurtle, came through the gate, and there was that criminally idiot owner surrounded by her three dogs, one harmless Lab, one semi-harmless Lab . . . and this border collie.  To give her what little credit she’s due, she saw us and did put them all on lead, and they trailed her across the drive and into the big garden that belongs to her father/mother/uncle/halfsister/secondcousintwiceremoved . . . and then she deliberately dropped the leads.

And as Pav and I walked past the wide, entirely open mouth of that garden, the border collie just went for us—trailing its useless lead.  I had time to pick Pav up—just.  The no-jury-would-convict-me-for-this-one-either is screaming her head off and the dog is, of course, ignoring her.  It’s growling and snapping and making little leaps at Pav, who is comfortably folded up chest-high in my arms~ and even allowing for the situation this is a mean looking dog.  It ran away as its owner came after it—she didn’t say a word to me of course—and have I mentioned that a lot of what used to be the parkland around the Big Pink Blot has sheep on it?

But we were even more of a draw than the sheep.  Once it had lost its owner it came after us again.  It was not willing, fortunately, to attack a human, so we strolled the rest of the way back to Peter’s—I’m not quite up to walking briskly clutching thirty pounds of hellterror awkwardly to my chest~~ —with it circling and snarling. . . .

And there’s not a thing I can do about it, not really.  The police don’t care.  The dog warden has most of southern England to patrol.  And the family the idiot is visiting . . . well, let’s simplify the politics of cooperative ownership and say they have seniority.  Which I assume is why no one else has ever complained . . . about the dog crap that loose unsupervised dogs tend to leave about the place, for example.

::is beyond words:: ~~~

^ Strollers

^^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqaQ6SnqAtI

^^^ I know that Cocker spaniels are supposed to be the top of the bitey dogs list, but I and several generations of my dogs have been nipped by far more border collies.  It’s not frelling all herding instinct.

~ There are advantages to the little short legs.  She weighs nearly twice what Hazel did, but Hazel was a whippet with legs that went on and on.  Upon similar occasions it would have been better if I could have hung her around my neck, but there was never quite time.

~~ The funny thing, if I’d been in a mood to appreciate it, is how laid back Pav was about the whole thing.  Maybe because she was already out of reach by the time the marauder arrived?  But she peered down with interest and no alarm whatsoever.  At least having her relaxed made her easier to hang onto.  She can be quite challenging in this regard when she’s in LEMME AT ’EM mode.

~~~ Which is a bad thing in a professional writer.

*** During the day we go down to the mews in shifts—I was bringing Pav down at lunchtime when we met Mr Notorious Evil Ratbag—but we do all go home collectively after midnight.  Speaking of challenging, trying to pick up crap when you have not merely three leads to deal with but a heavy knapsack throwing your blasted balance off . . . and last night Pav’s extending-lead spring failed.  I’m a little amazed we all got home in one piece.  There may have been language.

† Preferably one that does not exist suspended in a reservoir of dirty water two inches from the floor which you have to bail out spoonful by spoonful because you can’t get a container of any size under the frelling hatch.

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?

Whose idea was dogs?*


YAAAAAAH.  The balance of household horror has shifted:  the hellterror’s Swollen Bits have become less engorged and appear to be giving her less discomfort . . . but they have become ominously spongy and by the ratcheting up of the hellhounds’ concentration I would say The Time Is Now.  She’s easy—so to speak—she’s always been a shameless flirt** and now that she no longer wants to rip off the offending personal protuberance she seems to have reverted to her usual attitude which includes assuming there is the customary fun to be had caroming about the place and bouncing off hellhounds and furniture and why won’t I let her pursue this splendid and familiar course??  Furthermore Darkness, long proof against hellterror charms, is finally falling into line and I WON’T LET HER PLAY WITH HIM?  WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??  A powerful aversion to the prospect of puppies is what’s wrong with me.  Chaos is still fairly la-la-la about the whole situation—Chaos, as previously observed, is chiefly interested in Chaos***—but Darkness is seriously lovelorn.  Aaaaaaaaand has stopped eating altogether.†

AND IT’S RAINING.  And raining and raining and raining AND RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINING and rainingandrainingandrainingandrainingandraining and. . . .  Okay, it has been raining (and raining and raining) but I have MOSTLY been able to bolt out during brief cessations of the wet stuff whomping down from the scary-looking overhead and get my assortment of furry disasters hurtled.  I’ve mentioned here before that I’ve been mostly keeping (feeble) control of The Situation by making sure everyone is well hurtled,†† especially the hellterror, because she doesn’t get to riot around indoors as much as she’s used to.  Today I haven’t been able to get the multitudes out nearly enough.  YAAAAAAAAAAH.†††  Furthermore Pav’s even worse than the hellhounds about rain—come on you little madam, you’ve got fur dense as Goretex††† you are not going to melt—and there gets to be a limit to how far you’re willing to drag a four-legged breeze block that is causing further crater-like potholes with every resentful, resistant step.  She’d far rather go back indoors and RUN AROUND WITH THE HELLHOUNDS.  NOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Tomorrow has to be better.  Although the flood warnings are proliferating and getting closer and closer and closer and closer and we have a fresh prediction of gales tonight . . . .

* * *

* Whose idea was rain?^

^ God, you ratbag.  Don’t you know about subsurface irrigation systems?+

+ You ought to.  Presumably you invented them.

** Motto:  ‘whatever it is, flaunt it’

*** The reason he’s so stuck on me is because I am the Source of All Good Things as well as a few bad ones that he’s always trying to talk me out of.  Eating, for example.

† My hands are frelling chapped from the need to wash them thoroughly after each mouthful I stuff down a hellhound throat.  I only do one mouthful per hellhound at a time and go away—sometimes they eventually get bored and finish on their own.  But this makes for a lot of hand-washing.  Sigh.

†† As a result I’m a lot more thoroughly hurtled than seems to me at all necessary, especially when I’m a little dubious in the rude health department^ to begin with.  I tell myself that the more superfluous calories I burn off tottering after critters the more chocolate I can eat.

^ Rude, yes.  Health, no.

††† It’s funny, although with little ha-ha-ing to be had from it, we’re actually not that far off the standard daily hours of hurtling.  But there’s something very claustrophobic about the continuous thudding of the rain on the roof and the streaming of water down the windows and a louring grey sky so very low that you feel if you stretched your arm over your head you could poke a hole in it with your finger^.  Maybe it’s just watching the flood warnings creeping nearer and nearer—Warm Upford is already under water, for example, where we used to live—and wondering if the dog-food and chocolate delivery lorries are going to be able to keep to schedule.

^ Thus no doubt releasing a bruising cascade of additional rain

‡ AND FRELLING FRELLING FRELL DOES SHE SHED.  She sheds significantly more than both hellhounds together.  Wash hellhound blankets:  clean washing machine filter after.  Wash hellterror blanket:  pry open filter door^ wearing your flak jacket and shatterproof goggles and stand back.

^ I have raved here previously about the design idiocy involved but at least there is a filter:  most average UK-available washing machines don’t have them.

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Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Where have I gone wrong?" Then a voice says to me, "This is going to take more than one night." -- Charles M. Schulz