So, all this time I’ve clawed back by no longer writing a blog every night? Has disappeared without trace. Of course.
Today, for example, it has disappeared without trace by my having spent NEARLY TWO HOURS IN DENTIST FROM R’LYEH’S CHAIR OF DREADFUL TORMENT. Owwwwwww.*
Yesterday it disappeared because . . . MAJOR TRUMPET FLOURISH . . .
MY NEW WASHING MACHINE FINALLY ARRIVED.
This wasn’t easy. Even leaving out the amount of time I spent researching** frelling washing machines*** I was so freaked out by the PRICE of the one that was going best to cope with all the hair in this household† that I put off ordering it for most of another fortnight. Peter had grown a bit testy about my usurping his washing machine so I decided in that non-decision way that I hope most people who read this blog have experienced for themselves, that I would merely accumulate dirty laundry because, after all, I was going to buy a washing machine. Fortunately I have a lot of clothes†† although the hellpack is down to pretty much its final lot of bedding.†††
I had a four-hour delivery slot booked for Wednesday morning during which I paced the floor and wondered what I was going to do when the delivery persons Viewed the Situation and said they couldn’t do it. The Winter Table is still up because I’m still fetching recently-arrived-and-potted-up little green things indoors when the temperature starts re-enacting the Pit and the Pendulum. Plus there’s a hellterror crate since the last time any major kitchen appliances were brought in or out. Also, washing machines weigh. My last appliant purchase was the refrigerator—refrigerators weigh nothing. I can lift a refrigerator‡. A washing machine I can barely shove back into its corner when it starts walking across the floor. And they were going to have to wrestle the new marvel up the narrow flight of stairs with the black iron railing from street level to the front door, around the sharp 180 degree bend into the kitchen—and, while they were making that turn, lift it over the puppy gate, which is bolted to the wall.‡‡
They came. They viewed the situation. Their eyes got rather large. They withdrew to the street and muttered between themselves while I wrung my hands and thought dire thoughts about washboards and rocks in rivers.
BUT THEY DID IT.
I tipped them lavishly. They were, to their credit, startled, and I said: what was I going to do when you looked at this kitchen and said that getting large heavy camels through eyes of needles one storey up, over Becher’s Brook and at a 180° angle wasn’t in your job description?
I hope they got together and bought their wives a nice bottle of champagne.‡‡‡
* * *
* I won’t tell you what this thrilling^ experience did to my bank balance. OWWWWWWWWWWWWW.
^ I have told you, haven’t I, that the wonders of scuba diving are Forever Closed to Me on account of the number of hours I have spent in Dentist from R’lyeh’s chair staring at the video loop of tropical fish on the TV screen on the ceiling? I totally support+ the presence of distracting video on a TV screen on the ceiling. And I can forfeit scuba diving. Even though the fish are pretty fabulous. I’m grateful it’s not opera or BUFFY reruns.
+ And I do. See main footnote *
** You have to figure it’s going to be an important member of the family for at least a decade so, especially when it lives in the kitchen of your very small house, which happens also to be the room that (a) you spend the most time in (b) the main beds of your three fur factories^ indwell, which helps to explain (a)^^, you and it had better be good friends. ^^^
^ Note also: fur factories
^^ Remind me to tell you the Pav’s Bed in My Office story. Sigh.
^^^ Peter had Radio 4 on recently when it was a programme on psychological problems and the discussion was about hoarding disorder, which is apparently defined as an inability to throw things away to the point where the accumulation gets in the way of normal function. Hmmmm. One of the things they mention is when you can’t get into your bed because of all the stuff on it? Feh. I can still get in my bed . . . I may have to roll some of the books, knitting magazines and homeopathic journals over a little . . . and it’s true I’m an uncharacteristically quiet sleeper. But I was really thinking about this after I’d cleared off+ the old washing machine and the refrigerator, which was going to have to move to get it out, and had nowhere to put anything.
+ Mostly the stuff on top, which was in layers. But I also stripped off all the kitchen magnets . . . which fill a mixing bowl. A small mixing bowl . . . but still a mixing bowl. Not a cereal bowl or a soup bowl. You could definitely get a batch of muffin batter out of this bowl. I often have.
*** I think I told you I joined WHICH? http://www.which.co.uk/ just so I could read their washing machine reviews? They’ve got this clever hook-the-sucker system where you only have to pay £1 for a month of membership, including a copy of the magazine and free access to their gigantic site—and individual phone support for ‘consumer and finance issues’ which bait really attracted me after my recent scary, infuriating and demoralising banking experiences—and at the end of the month if you forget to cancel they quietly make you a full-price member because, after all, you gave them your credit card number for the £1. Fine. They got me. The magazine is full of interesting stuff. And now I’m researching juicers. ^
^ Everyone see this report? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10735633/Healthy-diet-means-10-portions-of-fruit-and-vegetables-per-day-not-five.html Good luck getting this one over to Person in the Street. But it is one of those Why [mild] ME Is A Good Thing Really moments. I have evolved, over the past sixty-one years, from a few frozen peas and a leaf of iceberg lettuce style reluctant veg eater to a major rabbit+. And in the last fourteen years—since the ME felled me—I am eating ten a day++. It’s a life style, okay? You get used to it. And I like broccoli.+++ I’m more inclined to take this report seriously—ten a day does seem like kind of a lot for someone who doesn’t already have chronic health issues—because they make the point that vegetables are more important. Yes. A large glass of orange juice with your chocolate croissant is not the same as a large bowl of broccoli . . . er, probably not with your chocolate croissant. I’d like to hear a little more about ‘juice is worthless’ however. Out of a carton, maybe. But I’d’ve said there’s pretty good substantiation for the belief that the Juicer Phenomenon is worthwhile. Although it’s another life style. At some point you have to wonder what you’re preserving your life for if you’re spending all your time preserving it.
+ Unfortunately my teeth don’t keep growing. That would solve a lot of problems, if the cavities just grew out and you could gnaw them off. Carrots are a lot cheaper than Dentist from R’lyeh.
++ Except occasionally when I’ve been in the Chair of Dreadful Torment and can’t chew.
† There isn’t nearly as much of mine but mine is LONG. You’d have to line up like fifty-three of Pav’s for an equivalent pilose factor. Pav, however, has plenty to spare.
†† Which is what happens when you like clothes, have been more or less the same size for nearly forty years, and have hoarding disorder.
††† There is less of this than there might be because the hellterror—like the hellhounds before her—used to eat hers When She Was a Puppy, which, of course, now being almost tw‡‡o years old she is not. Cough. Cough. But she did give up eating her bedding somewhere around her first birthday—which is better than can be said for Chaos.
‡ Well. I can lift a dwarf under-the-stairs size refrigerator.
‡‡ Because I was tired of it falling over every time Chaos stood up and put his forepaws on it. Which, being a rather dim sweetheart, he never took advantage of, and Darkness is above that kind of thing. Pav, however . . . it’s a good thing it was bolted in by the time Pav arrived.
‡‡‡ Or, possibly, husbands.
Okay, let me get the really embarrassing stuff over with immediately.
I enjoyed it. I had FUN. I am planning on putting myself on the official St Margaret’s rota.*
Whew. That was hard. I enjoyed singing Jesus Is My Boyfriend** music [sic]. In public. How totally humiliating is that.
Sunday, which was sunny and fabulous, passed under my own personal cloud of prospective dread. I did do some singing warm up because I wanted some chance at some voice and I tend to shut down to a tiny rasping squeak like a single lonely cicada when I’m nervous. I didn’t warm up exactly brilliantly.*** And when I crept into St Margaret’s I was not encouraged by the sight of Aloysius ALL BY HIMSELF except for the woman who was going to be running the tech deck helping him lay out the cables. He had said in his email that the names on the rota were a bit thin this week. . . .
Fortunately it wasn’t as bad as that. Samantha appeared deus ex machina, saying that she hadn’t been planning to sing that night but she had realised that I was going to be all alone and she couldn’t do that to a new girl. Eeeeep. Thank you. Eeeeeeeeep. And then Sinead, another rota singer, wandered in and said that she couldn’t do her proper rota day and maybe we could use her tonight? YES. PLEASE. HERE, HAVE A MICROPHONE. Hamish, the church office magician, appeared, spun his spurs and strapped on his six-shooter. Er. Bass. But that was all. No drums. No keyboards. No random woodwinds. No vicar—he’s always there.†
We plunged into practise. I was on the near end with Aloysius just at my right shoulder which is very good because not only does his guitar give me the key I’m scrabbling for but he’s a nice strong tenor and I’d already told him he had to sing the melody. The first couple of songs are a bit of a blur. I was holding the mic as if it was going to morph into something with six heads and forty-seven incisors per as soon as I stopped staring at it like it was going to. The Hammered to Death by Fluffy Bunnies song was substantially less diabolical with the new line-up but we had to go through it several times since I had no clue about what it was supposed to sound like—and of course there was no sheet music. And then Aloysius had to get fancy and bolt a couple of songs together so you slide into the second one without a break and then revert to the previous one for a chorus repeat WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO TO US YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS.
I don’t really know what happened except that I think I can hear God laughing. My voice woke up. And the last couple of songs I actually kind of like††—especially the one which is in a reasonable range, so many of the Jesus Is My Boyfriend songs lie on my voice like bricks on custard, it’s like the aural version of trying to wear someone else’s prescription glasses, and neither singing up an octave or down an octave works. But here were two I could sing.
And I did. And furthermore . . . and this is where I know I was taken over by an alien personality . . . I started singing free harmony. I do not sing free harmony. I can learn a harmonic line, given the sheet music and about six months, but I cannot just frelling riff off a melody. Whoever she was, Sunday night, using my voice, I hope she visits often. That was serious fun. At the end Sinead gave me a hug and said, I can tell you like that song!
And then the live performance—I mean the service—was pretty much falling off a log. Problem? There was supposed to be a problem?
There are one or two things to mention here. First, St Margaret’s evening service is small and informal. It’s not like anyone was going to be nasty to me even if I screwed up big time. And I don’t exactly guarantee I was pitch perfect even while the self-confident alien babe was singing. Second, most of the Jesus Is My Boyfriend stuff is dead easy, especially if you’re used to beating your brains and ripping your own throat out singing stuff that is significantly beyond you because you take voice lessons and your voice teacher needs something to do, right?††† It should be easy: people who don’t take voice lessons should be able to sing their church’s worship music.‡ And third . . . I was just telling someone who asked me how I ‘learnt’ to do public speaking . . . I didn’t. After my BEAUTY was published they sent me out on the road and I discovered I could do public speaking. It’s like one of those James Bond things: the car develops waterwings or the knapsack is also a rocketblaster. I CAN DO PUBLIC SPEAKING? WHAT? WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? Aside from little questions like whether I can sing or not, apparently singing in public doesn’t make this agonising doubt any more agonising.
How frelling bizarre. I did think it was at least possible that if I didn’t freeze up, singing for purpose—helping to lead the service—would let me like the floppy, soppy music we sing better, and make it feel more like an offering of worship instead of a mortification, ashes and hair shirts optional. And. Yeah. But I wasn’t expecting the harmony—or the high.
* * *
* Unless someone stops me. Noooooo! She’s too loooooooud! She drowns out the keyboard! —Ugly. Mwahahahahahahaha. —slightlyadaptedhellgoddess^
^ I belong to the Love Wins camp, remember, so if you’re asking me, all reigning in all the various hells—ie the nice somewhat confused ones and the really unpleasant ones—is temporary. Which is fine. I’m sure I’ll be ready for a new challenge when my particular corner of hell disintegrates.+
+ There will be chocolate, champagne and critters in heaven, won’t there?#
# Of course there will. And the roses WILL HAVE NO THORNS.
** ::falls down laughing:: Thank you, dhudson. I love this. I’m also glad that it seems to other people that there’s something CREEEEEEEEPY about a lot of this sticky music: I’ve been describing these songs as frelling power ballads only it’s God instead of your boyfriend/girlfriend/groupoffriendswithprivileges. Dhudson’s phrase cuts to the chase.
Although some of the old gospel hymns, which is what I grew up with and are about the only positive memory I have of church as a kid, aren’t exactly faultless in this area. I’ve always loved In the Garden, and it’s one of those I’ve been singing for fifty-odd years and did not have to relearn the lyrics when I started singing while hurtling as a way to shortening the warm-up when I get back to the piano and the Italian art songs etc^, but it’s always struck me as doctrinally a little dubious:
He walks with me, and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known.
^ Also I’m beginning to enjoy the looks on other pedestrians’ faces when I don’t shut up in time and lyrics like ‘On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise’+ register on their unsuspecting ears, which in this modern well-zombied culture may rouse an unfortunate secular response.
+ Which I confess I tend to belt out with all the new Nadia-power within me.
*** I also crack a lot when I’m nervous. How many ways is this going to be a disaster.
† Vicars. They take holidays. Who knew?
†† No, no, not like! Oisin will never speak to me again!
††† HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. And for my latest stupid trick I’m learning Victor Herbert’s I want to be a prima donna—aka Art Is Calling to Me—mainly because it’s silly and I’ve always loved it for being silly. It also has a high Bb. The thing, as I told Nadia, that is really irritating is that I have a high Bb . . . when I’m doing the frelling washing up. As soon as I get near the piano it jumps out the window and runs off to Cornwall. Or Canada. I assume this is common, you can remember a note long enough to check it on the piano? Yes that is a high Bb, but try and do it again suuuuucker. . . . . Nadia says, just rewrite it for now. You can put the Bb back in later.
‡ I don’t have a problem with that; my beloved gospel tunes are pretty much the only music on the planet that I can more or less play on the piano with both hands by sight-reading. Easy. Very, very easy music.
I bought nine roses last week.* AND I PLANTED THE LAST TWO OF THEM TODAY. It’s only been a WEEK.** And I’ve already got ALL OF THEM them in the ground.*** Are you impressed? Trust me, you should be impressed.
So I thought I’d give myself a Slightly Short Blog Day to celebrate.† And maybe I’ll do a little work. Or go to bed early.†† Or something.
* * *
* Hey. I need more roses.
** I can’t remember if I told you this story or not^. I’d ordered from a rose nursery that isn’t impossibly far from here and said I would pick them up. When they rang me that my roses were ready I suggested to Peter that he come too and we’d go on afterward to the big public garden nearby and have a wander. So that’s what we did. Except that by the time we got to the big public garden . . . we were too tired.^^ So we didn’t walk around it. Ho hum. Life in the Slow Lane. But I did get my roses.
^ And the Footnote Labyrinth makes trying to look back and check somewhat challenging.
^^ In my case all that frelling driving was aggravated by a long conversation I had with one of the rose-nursery proprietors about, how surprising, roses. She was full of embarrassing information I should have known.+ I have, for example, never had any luck with the symbiotic fungus stuff that you put in the hole when you plant your rose, and it colonises the roots which then develop like crazy in all directions and your rose is very, very happy. Except it didn’t and it wasn’t. I thought it was another fashionable scam. Nobody told me that root fungi don’t like blood-fish-and-bone which is the traditional rose and general perennial shrub food. You ALWAYS put BFB in the hole you’re planting a rose in. Not when you’re using mycorrhizal fungi. Oh. –So I bought some more of the frelling stuff and have used it. Except I’ve only used about half the packet and it only keeps for about a year and it’s stupidly expensive, you wouldn’t want to waste it nooooooooooo. . . . .
+ Although we did a little mutual howling about people who don’t get it that roses are, you know, living things. I told her a story I know I’ve told you, from when we were still at the old house and opened our garden on the National Gardens Scheme. I had someone at least once every open day saying, your roses are amazing, how do you get your roses to be so amazing? My roses are barely struggling along. And I would say, well, what do you feed them? And they would look at me blankly and say, Feed them? FOR PITY’S SAKE, GUYS. HOW DO YOU THINK ROSES PRODUCE ALL THOSE FLOWERS? MAGIC? How can anyone look at a modern, repeat-flowering rose, frelling bowed down by the weight of its flowers, not least because it’s been overbred for flower production at the expense of everything else like leaves and stems and good health, and not realise it’s going to need a little more help than scratching a hole in the ground and plonking it in?? That’s like buying a racehorse and feeding it straw. GOOD GRIEF.
*** Well. Mostly not in the ground. Not in the All the Plumbing in Hampshire cottage garden. Most of them are in pots. I suspect I have rather good drainage, between the builder’s rubble and all the plumbing in Hampshire, but most roses that aren’t major thugs, in this garden, do better in pots, possibly just because they don’t have to fight off the thugs. But I lost a few this wet winter that I don’t think I should have lost so . . . more pots. A few of the new intake are in pots smaller than they’ll stay in forever . . . but they’ll do for a year or two. Or three. Just keep feeding them.
† Also because I took Peter to the ex-library again today and we battered our way through all the other media and went and hung out in the small dark corner where the books now live. I found a little trove of knitting books . . . and then read one of Peter’s thrillers over tea. During which I absent-mindedly ate a Very Nasty gluten-free pistachio cookie. I think I object to a book so absorbing that you can eat nasty food without noticing till it’s too late. That’s the problem with thrillers: they make you forsake all rationality and keep turning pages.
And then I went bell ringing at Crabbiton for the second week in a row. I haven’t been ringing, I’m too tired, and the idea of facing eighty-six bells and a ringing chamber the size of a ballroom at Forza is too much for me. Crabbiton has six bells, and a pretty laid-back and low-level band, and I found out by accident that Wild Robert has started teaching there pretty regularly again. So I went along last week and made bob minor possible—they generally only have four inside ringers, and bob minor requires five—and so this week they were really glad to see me. It’s a hoot being one of the big kids. Although Felicity had to go and wreck my feeble glow of self-satisfaction by inquiring if I wouldn’t like to make up the number at Madhatterington on Mothering Sunday. Nooooooooooooo.
So . . . after all this febrile self indulgence . . . work would be good.
†† No! No! Not that!
GREAT BIG FAT HAIRY DROOLING WE-INTERRUPT-OUR-REGULARLY-SCHEDULED-PROGRAMME-TO-BRING-YOU-THIS-IMPORTANT-ANNOUNCEMENT NEWS
Tra la la la la la la . . .
I’m going to be Guest of Honor at Boskone next year.
Boskone, I hear some of you saying? I think it’s one of the oldest and most regularly annual of the (American) SF&F conventions* but I’m afraid I don’t pay any more attention to the fan-run end of the book world than I do to the professional publisher end** so I could be wrong. But it was my first big SF&F con, back when BEAUTY was new, and I was living next door in Boston. I attended sporadically for some years before I got kind of burnt out about the public-author thing generally*** but I’ve retained a soft spot for Boskone.
I had an email from next year’s chairperson about a fortnight ago inviting me to be next year’s GOH and I thought BOSKONE? I WOULD LOVE TO BE GUEST OF HONOR AT BOSKONE . . . and have since been in agonies not so much of indecision but of trying to figure out what the frell I could do about the hellpack if I said yes.† Pav isn’t a problem; given the basic facts of bull terriers she’s, you know, normal. The hellhounds, now. . . .
But a friend dropped round for a cup of tea this afternoon and in the process of trying to force said hellhounds to eat their lunch I found myself moaning to her about the situation. She, having extracted the salient facts that (a) YES I WOULD LIKE TO BE GOH AT BOSKONE NEXT YEAR and (b) no I haven’t been anywhere in the last seven years because I have these bizarrely-constituted hellhounds†† . . . said, FOR PITY’S SAKE SAY YES. GO. GO. You’ve got a year: we’ll figure something out.†††
So I said yes. ::Beams::
I asked the chair to let me know when they announced it so I could time it to go up more or less simultaneously on this blog. That was about seven hours ago and she answered by return electron that they were going to be putting it up on NESFA’s web site by the end of the day and I could go ahead as soon as I liked. I don’t think it’s up yet—although as I say Google does not love me—I’ll add a link when it does.
BUT HERE’S YOUR OPPORTUNITY. SEE AND HEAR MCKINLEY LIVE IN PERSON. Although you want to remember that I’ll be sixty-two by next February, so don’t expect much: I’m old, wizened and EVEN CRANKIER THAN YOU REALIZE. But I’ll be there. Smiling in a dangerous manner.
BE THERE OR BE SQUARE.
* * *
* Here’s Wiki’s stub about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boskone The New England Science Fiction Association has a web site but it’s kind of full of this year’s Boskone at the moment, which is only just over and also, I am stupid, and Google doesn’t love me.
** That sound you hear is Merrilee banging her head against a wall
*** That sound you hear is Merrilee banging her head against a wall harder
† I’ve spent a fair portion of the last fortnight making phone calls toward this end.
†† Remember that in my life this isn’t as appalling as it sounds. I like staying home and hurtling and ringing bells and planting rose-bushes and so on. But it would be nice to go back to America SOME TIME and not be a foreigner the minute I open my mouth^, and while day to day I don’t think about it, and year to year the idea of author touring is about as appealing as going into battle in your nightgown^^ . . . the invitation from Boskone made me fall over the edge immediately.
^ Except that I will be because while my accent hasn’t drifted east much my usage sure has
^^ Now I wonder why that image occurs to me
††† Peter said exactly the same thing, only faster. And his kids will keep an eye on him in my absence.
In theory I’m supposed to be Street Pastoring tomorrow but . . . I doubt it. Increasing amounts of Hampshire are under water and we’re due to have not only more torrential rain tomorrow but possibly the worst gales yet. Even uni students, one hopes, will have the sense to stay home. They may not have a choice: most of the campus is a lake. I’ve already told Fearless Leader that if the driving looks iffy I’m not coming, and there have been various emails among the team about who can and can’t get out through the current floods; not everyone can; and it’ll be worse by tomorrow night.
Another of the big old trees—that used to be part of the fancy drive to the Big Pink Blot and are now a strip of parkland running beside the main road through New Arcadia—went over in the latest windstorm. That’s three this winter. It’s a longish strip but it’s not that long; the gaps show. There have been big branches down too, making more gaps, including in the old wall where they struck. But the ground the trees are standing in has become marsh. One of the short leg-stretch-and-a-pee hurtles from the mews is down one side of the trees, next to the old park wall, and back on the pedestrian pavement next to the road. We stay on the pavement lately; even Pav, the smallest and lightest of us, squelches; and some great hulking human like me, and with only two feet to spread the weight, forget it, I need a diving bell. Hellcritters are willing to venture onto the quaking bog in pursuit of smells; but they tend to prance back to me and the pavement shaking their feet and looking disgusted. I wouldn’t have expected a hellterror to care about mud and while the hellhounds with their longer legs have a more impressive prance, Pav’s message is the same: ugggh.
If it doesn’t dry out soonish—which it shows no sign of doing—the trees are going to rot where they stand, and then they’ll all come down. The civic daffodils are trying to come up—it rather amazes me they’ve got this far—but a lot of them are blind.
Hellhounds and I went down to look at the river today. The river path has been impassable for a while and we’d already stopped going there as often as we used to because I’d got very very tired of being mugged by off lead idiots. I mean their dogs. But your average off lead idiot doesn’t want to get his/her designer wellies dirty so I thought it was probably worth the risk, seeing how far we could go.
Well the ducks are sure happy. The bit of river we were splashing along beside isn’t running amok so we forded the feeder streams* and kept on. There are some houses on the river bottom, poor things**, and I don’t think the sandbags are going to save their fitted*** carpets.
And then hellhounds and I rounded a corner and came to the shores of The Sea. When Peter and I first moved to New Arcadia there was a stretch of the river path that was outrageously badly kept—for a town two of whose important constituents are wealthy retired Tories and businesses dependent on visitors—and EVENTUALLY the town council stopped whining and ordered enough hard core and blokes to shovel it that the path became quite serviceable, thank you very much.
Well. It’ll all be to do again when—when, I’m assuming, not if—The Sea retreats. I don’t know how deep it is but from my memory of what it used to look like . . . Pav, at least, would have to swim, and I think you’d need waders, not wellies.
We took the footbridge past one of the sandbagged houses† and looped around by the road. When we got back to the river we had a really exciting ford to cross, with the water crashing over the path, and Chaos wanted me to believe that it would carry him away†† but I heartlessly pointed out the stout fence preventing this happenstance and we gained the far side without incident††† and toiled back up the hill toward town. That roaring sound you hear . . . is the new New Arcadia Victoria Falls, another smoke that thunders. Golly. And standing on the far side of the river the spray still fogs up your glasses. It used to be a picturesque little local millrace.
I’d better get back to the cottage. We’re going to try to make a sprint for the farmer’s market tomorrow morning before Armageddon returns. Which means I should go to bed, you know, cough cough, early.
* * *
* To Chaos’ horror. I’M NOT CARRYING YOU. COME ON.
** We actually looked at one when it was up for sale some few years ago, before I bought Third House. Brrrr.
*** Wall to wall
† And were divebombed by a black cocker spaniel . . . a friendly black cocker spaniel, fortunately, and while it looked full-grown it was presenting as a puppy and couldn’t get enough of the hellhounds who were happy to return the compliment. Modified arrrgh. I thought it was going to follow us back onto the main road ARRRRRRGH whereupon in good conscience I’d’ve had to go back, knock on the door, and say something between clenched teeth to whatever off lead idiot answered, but it got timid at the end of its stretch of path. I looked back worriedly a lot though.
†† If you’d eat you’d weigh more and be harder to wash away.
††† When they dry out, my pink All Stars will probably be a lot cleaner. Choosing footgear for this kind of expedition is problematic. I can’t walk any distance in wellies—they’re perfect for clomping around gardening or mucking out stalls but not hurtling—and hiking boots have their uses in wet grass and ordinary mud but fording foaming rivers is not their thing and once they get soaked they stay soaked. All Stars are actually my footgear of choice for this, although I put plastic bags over my socks first when I remember. When I remember. I didn’t remember today.