August 4, 2014

Shadows is here!

My piano comes home

 

It is tragic the amount of fabulous blog material I’ve missed using the last five days or so.  For example the BT landline engineer on Thursday had just finished telling me that it couldn’t be done because the wiring was too old, or possibly because it had been plastered over irrecoverably when I hired a small army to create an attic out of a large crawl space, or at least it couldn’t be done till 2017 because they were going to have to rewire Hampshire first,* or at very least it couldn’t be done that day, as scheduled, because they were going to have to import a special lorry with a special hoist which was presently in Belgium, or possibly Tanzania, with which to approach sufficiently reverently the overhead wiring from 1878 which was, of course, made out of string,** and, in 2014, can use all the reverence it can get.  So he had just finished telling me this when his phone rang*** and it was his manager saying that his brother had rung from hospital WHERE THEY HAD TAKEN HIS FATHER AND HE SHOULD GO THERE NOW.   Oh dear . . .

They sent me another engineer.  Which is pretty impressive since this meant he would be working past closing time.  And he was a little cranky about this—he says he rarely sees his two-year-old except on weekends—but he was in no way taking it out on me and I have total sympathy with cranky.  And he found a hoist in, I don’t know, Berkshire or Essex or Norway or something, and it came*** and HE GOT THIRD HOUSE PLUGGED IN NOT ONLY TO THE TELEPHONE BUT TO WHAT PASSES FOR THE REAL WORLD ANY MORE, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN . . . well, at all, for the internet, but a number of years for the phone, because Third House had stood empty for quite a while before the heirs put it on the market.  And then it hung around on the market for another while because it was overpriced and I kept walking past and fretting, having been in to the estate agent and discovered that (a) it was WAAAAAAAY out of any semblance of my price range and (b) in the estate agent’s opinion it was overpriced, and I should bide myself in patience.†  And we know how that ended.  And then I got my knickers in a twist about the ‘several hundred pounds to lay new phone line’ thing.  Oh, and the great deal I was getting from BT?  That they’d lay the new line if I’d agree to buy their broadband for two years?  Is anyone amazed that it’s not all that good a deal?  I get one connection.  If I want, you know, extensions, I have to pay for them.  I get one connection with one underfrellingpowered router with built in wireless THAT IS SO FEEBLE IT WON’T REACH TO THE OTHER END OF THIS LITTLE HOUSE, LET ALONE INTO THE ATTIC.  ARRRRRRRRRRGH.  So we have wireless broadband (mostly††) in the sitting room.  Peter can’t even get it in his office which is about eight feet away.  ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH.

BUT I WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT MY PIANO.†††

I had asked Oisin and he’d said I should ask our mutual piano tuner about someone to move my darling, and the piano tuner clucked and said there was the less expensive option and the more expensive option and I said this is an old, heavy Steinway upright and I want her treated gently, and he said Sigurd of the Silver Doohickey was the bee’s knees of piano movers pretty much over the entire south of England but they were not cheap.  I rang Sigurd and they quoted a price that didn’t seem to me, the owner of an old heavy Steinway upright‡, all that remarkable, so I said yes and, furthermore, since what they do is move pianos and are always galloping back and forth across the south of England they managed to find me a slot for today . . . the first working day after the rest of the furniture went.

I will also at present leave out describing the amount of hauling of little stuff, from the mews to Third House, that has been going on both before and since Friday, and the sordid appallingnesses thus implacably revealed‡‡.  TODAY I was at the mews at 2 pm awaiting Cinderella’s coach with the reinforced suspension, the turbo jets and the crane.

This rather mild-mannered van rolled into the courtyard at 2:15.  It was bigger than your average White Van Man van but looking at it you didn’t immediately think panzer division, although it did say SIGURD OF THE SILVER DOOHICKEY SPECIALIST PIANO MOVER on all visible surfaces.  And three young laconic guys dropped out of it and strolled in a deeply cool manner to the front door.  In hindsight I suspect they were waiting to find out if I was going to be a Fainting in Coils type who would need to be managed but my first thirty seconds’ impression was not particularly positive.  Whatever.  Sigurd is the best, these guys must know what they’re doing.

I started to come round to them when they viewed the situation calmly, and the mews is not exactly set up for the easy moving of old heavy upright pianos, and there had been a fair amount of drama from the gang who had brought her.  One of these guys fetched one little skateboardy rolling thing and the other two started edging my darling out of her corner.  The one with the most tats—who fetched the skateboard—acknowledged that he was a hired gun and the other two were the Real Piano Movers.  They looked so, you know, normal.  Until the bigger of the two simply LIFTED one end of my piano a good eighteen frelling inches off the floor so they could start working the skateboard under.‡‡‡  Eeeeeep.

Well, they loaded her up and slid her across the floor and DOWN THE HORRIBLE LITTLE STEEP FRONT STEPS with only a titanium alloy ramp and the two blokes to keep her where she belonged, and the third guy scampering around adding stability where requested.  And while the two blokes waited for the third one to lower the tailgate ramp lift thing I said, I know there’s this mythology about heavy upright pianos and everybody thinks theirs is the heaviest, so, tell me, on a scale of upright pianos, where does this one go?  And they laughed—a little breathlessly, I’m happy to say—and replied, this model is the heaviest upright Steinway ever built which is to say this is the heaviest upright piano ever built.  A lot of full size concert grands weigh less than this piano, they said.

Oh.  This probably explains why Sigurd was so careful to ask for model number . . . and why they had the third bloke along today.  And I guess the van is the extra super reinforced concrete suspension Cinderella’s carriage.

So we trundled down to Third House and I, fool that I am, assumed that the worst was over, except for the part about how the sitting room would suddenly be Very Full of Piano once she was in.  NEVER MIND.  Atlas had cut back the clematis montana over the garden gate so you can actually get through without bending double and/or being strangled, and my piano and attendants came through with a flourish and swooped around to get a straight shot at the front door.  My hero looked at the door, looked at me and said, you did measure the door, didn’t you?

MEASURE THE DOOR?  IT’S A DOOR.  LIKE ANY OTHER DOOR . . . I was literally clutching my head at this point.

My hero looked at the door again, shook his head and said, I don’t think it’s going to go through.  They didn’t even use the ramp this time, they just kept picking her up over the steps.  What do they feed these boys?

AND SHE DIDN’T FIT THROUGH THE DOOR.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHH

They were still so calm.  Well, this must happen all the time.  Stupid clueless people who assume that one ordinary front door is like another ordinary front door.  So they looked at the new situation—calmly—while I tried not to fall down in fits (or coils) and start gnawing on the outdoor furniture which looks very nice on the lawn here, by the way.

We’ll take the door off, said my hero.  I think if we just take the bottom off§ we can bring the piano in backwards and swing it around inside.

Which is what happened.  It was still a terrifyingly tight squeeze, and while they had her padded with blankets the frelling plastic door frame squealed unnervingly.  BUT SHE CAME THROUGH THE DOOR THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.  And they swung her around like doing the do-si-so—the so-called fitted carpet didn’t cooperate with this manoeuvre but along with the screwdriver as standard equipment for removing doors they’re also accustomed to what they call correcting the carpet—stood her up against the wall and . . . the sitting room is a trifle full of piano but it’s not actually as FRELLING SQUASHED LOOKING as I was afraid it would be.  And the really great thing?  Both the inner sitting room door and the outer door—the one that came off and that they put back on again because they are polite young gentlemen as well as major beefcake—into the garden OPEN ALL THE WAY.  With like three-quarters of an inch to spare, both sides.  Three quarters of an inch is all we need.

MY PIANO IS HOME.§§

* * *

* Which is probably true.  There’s all this bluster about getting Hampshire super-fast broadband and the first swathe happens next year.  Uh-huh.  We’re in the swathe for 2017.  And have I mentioned they’re building houses in this town faster than a hammer can fall on a nail?^  And that the broadband we have is grinding slowly to a dead halt as more and more people sign up?  And let’s not even talk about traffic and parking and the way you sometimes can’t get through the centre of town on foot.^^

^Possibly because they don’t use hammers and nails in house-building any more.  That’s so two centuries ago.+

+ Also because England deforested itself of suitable house-building trees more centuries ago than that.  They may still use hammers and nails in Maine.

^^ Especially not with totally clueless four-legged companions.  You’d think the hellhounds would have learnt to look both ways by now.  Pav, eh.

** Copper-impregnated galvanized string.  They don’t make string like they used to.

*** I’m beginning to forget what life was like before mobile phones.  Not in a good way.  I still consider Pooka back up not the main event.  And maybe in retaliation she decided the end of last week TO BE UNRELIABLE FOR A FEW DAYS.^  So I’m leaving messages all over the landscape DON’T USE MY MOBILE USE MY LANDLINE and . . . I have two messages on my landline, neither of them important, and about twenty seven on Pooka, most of which won’t pick up.  What is the MATTER with people?^^

My very best example however of the profound basic demon-possessed infuriatingness of mobile phones happened only this morning.  I was out with hellhounds.  Chaos had just Assumed the Position to have a crap at the edge of the pedestrian pavement.  Mildly embarrassing, with people streaming by, but not a big deal.  Not like it hasn’t happened before:  we frelling live in the centre of town.  I was focussed on him, getting my little black plastic bag out and so on, and glanced over my shoulder to check that Darkness wasn’t doing anything he shouldn’t.  AND DISCOVERED THAT HE HAD ASSUMED THE POSITION IMMEDIATELY IN FRONT OF THE DOOR OF THE BARD AND OPHARION.

And Pooka started barking.

And Peter’s favourite bridge partner’s wife walked by, started to say hello and burst out laughing.

Oh, and the person who was ringing?  WAS SOMEONE I HAD TOLD TO USE MY LANDLINE.  I told her I’d ring her back.  That’s fine, she chirruped.  I’ve rung her five? six? seven? times over the course of the rest of the day . . . and she’s never at her desk, in her office or on the radar.  Possibly because her digital exchange says, ooooh, landline, how retro, and her assistant says, landline?  We don’t want to talk to any clumsy vulgar landline, we don’t do string anyway.

^ Or more than a few.  We don’t know yet.  Raphael remonstrated with her briefly today but he had his hands full trying to bring the frelling BT frelling broadband frelling crap router to heel.  Note:  he failed.

^^ I’m not going to ask what’s the matter with Pooka.  That way madness lies.

*** The driver doesn’t see his kids except on weekends either.

PATIENCE?  YOU’RE KIDDING, RIGHT?

†† I’m not even going to start on this epic.  Raphael is coming back later in the week.  Maybe then.

††† There were epics on Friday, of course, but our loyal movers—this is now the third or fourth, depending on how you’re counting, time they’ve moved us.  We all call each other by name and say ‘hi’ in the street, you know?  Small local family firms.  Salt of the earth.  Adore, adore—were fabulous.  As they have always been fabulous.

‡ People go all faint when they see she’s a Steinway.^  As I keep saying, she was cheaper than a lot of mediocre new pianos and who wouldn’t have a Steinway if that’s the choice??  I’ve told you the story of how I bought her, haven’t I?  Another of my epics.

^ The logo is usually covered up by my music rack.

‡‡ And that the chief reason I haven’t blogged before today is that I’ve either been racing around like a crazy woman or collapsed in a weepy little puddle of ME on the nearest horizontal surface, floor, ground, hellhound bed, hellhound(s), whatever.  The ME is not exactly behaving itself, but I’m getting a certain amount of stuff done . . . and Nina and Ignatius are so golden.  I don’t know what we’d be doing without them.  They were here a couple of days earlier last week, they were here Friday, they had the temerity to take the weekend off^, were here again today and are coming back tomorrow.

^ Nina, who is clearly insane, booked some holiday to help her dad move and Ignatius has one of these all or nothing jobs and he’s in a mostly nothing phase at the moment.

‡‡‡ Let me say that I am glad to admit that I stopped finding young guys hot some years ago.  They’re so . . . you know, young.  I like the old beat-up ones that look like we might have stuff in common to, ahem, talk about.   But I might make an exception for this chap.  He is not that big and he’s not that bulky although you look at him and guess you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side in a pub brawl . . . but I’ve never liked the ripped gym-bunny look even when I was young.  I had a serious case of the hots for my blacksmith, many years ago when I had a horse, because he had major muscles from USE, you know?  The definition wasn’t much because he wasn’t doing gazillions of specialist curls but he was strong and I’ve always kind of swooned for strong, especially the easy-going, almost careless, strong-because-it’s-part-of-the-job-description kind of strong.  Also, turned out, once I apparently wasn’t going to turn into a Fainting in Coils, today’s hero has a really nice smile.  I hope his main squeeze appreciates him.

§ Here’s one of those big fat juicy ironies.  I hated the old plastic door and have rarely been as happy as when Atlas finally got around to putting the wooden stable-style door in that I’d bought yonks ago but there’s only one of Atlas and Peter or I keep pulling him off one thing to do something else.  But finally . . . YAAAAAAAY.  NICE DOOR IMPROVING GARDEN SIDE VIEW OF NICE HOUSE not to mention Aura of Sitting Room Within.  But if it had been the nasty old plastic door today the piano would have fit through it.  Because of the frame that the old door left behind—and which would have been an expensive ratbag to replace—Atlas had to install the new door slightly, um, in.  Thus narrowing the entrance/egress part of the deal.  Which I’d never really registered.  My bad.  Uggggh.  Disaster narrowly averted.

§§ And if this blog is a little less coherent than usual, well, forgive me, it’s been a rough week. . . .

News

 

PETER HAS AGREED TO MOVE TO THIRD HOUSE*

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY

* * *

* He said, When I sell the mews we can buy a new car!  I said, I don’t want a new car!  I’ll just run it into things!  I’m dangerous at less than 5 mph!^

^ Hate those frelling pillars at the Mauncester multilevel car park–the ones with the bulges below the driver’s line of vision!  HATE!

LA CENERENTOLA etc*

 

I think I haven’t been to any of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s live-streaming cinema broadcasts this season, for a variety of reasons, including being fired by my dog minder, but also . . . and I realise how pathetic and lame this sounds . . . because Saturday night is my favourite frelling church service, sitting silently in the dark with monks.  Saturday night is the only service all week that has the silent-sitting thing.  I’ll try to catch an extra service at the abbey, I hope tomorrow night**, but if I want to sit silently in the dark I’ll have to do it by myself.  Whiiiiiiine.

But this run at the Met is probably Joyce DiDonato’s last performance of La Cenerentola, and last night was the broadcast.  And Radio 3, which would be airing it only without the eye-candy part, has been advertising it pretty hard.  And there are, in fact, limits to my dedication to God (and monks).***  Joyce DiDonato, you know?†  Not to mention Juan Diego Florez, who is adorable aside from the high Cs††.

Because I bought my ticket at the last minute I had a choice between being at the extreme end of one of the back rows and thus seeing the screen as if reflected in an unfunhouse mirror . . . or the aisle of the second row and thus needing a neck like a giraffe to tip my head far enough back to see the screen at all.  I went for the second row.  And brought a large tote bag with two big fat pillows in it—much to the hilarity of the guy behind me in row three†††—and lay down for the show.‡  Worked a treat, thanks.

AND THE OPERA WAS FABULOUS.  STAGGERINGLY, GORGEOUSLY, JAW-DROPPINGLY FABULOUS.  If they rerun it—which they sometimes do, and I would expect DiDonato’s final go at one of her signature roles would be a good candidate—and you have the FAINTEST interest in opera or classical singing or music—GO.  GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO.

And . . . just by the way . . . not that this has anything to do with anything . . . but there are three cute guys in it.  This doesn’t happen in opera.  You’re lucky if you have one who, compared with a dead fish, comes out slightly ahead.  Florez, as previously observed, is darling.‡‡  Dandini is also pretty frelling cute.‡‡‡  And Alidoro . . . ::fans self::§  I mean, gleep.§§

. . . . Anyway.  I have now spent over an hour sifting through YouTube clips§§§ because I am so devoted to the welfare of my blog readers, and I HAVE TO GO TO BED.  Maybe I’ll get back to CENERENTOLA in a footnote sometime. . . .

* * *

* The etc is chiefly that we went to a National Garden Scheme garden today . . . and took Pav.  I’ve been wanting to take her to an open garden but there aren’t that many that allow dogs—fewer than there used to be, I would have said, but maybe it’s just around here, or we want to go to the wrong gardens.^

This one was gorgeous, mellow old stone house on the bank^^ of one of England’s pencil-thick so-called rivers, but winding romantically, with waterfowl and reeds.^^^  The garden then extended back across fields with vistas and benches and the occasional outburst of perennial border.  And the weather, which was forecast to be grouchy and streaming by turns, was glorious, bright blue sky and big fat scudding clouds.#  I barely saw any of it, since Pav was trying to see, respond, engage, EAT all of it simultaneously and you couldn’t see those little short legs, they were churning so fast.  ADVENTURE!  WE’RE HAVING AN ADVENTURE!  Pantpantpantpantpantpantpant.  She did not seem to be sorry to sit in my lap for tea, however, where she was more easily suppressed than if I tried to make her lie down under my chair##, although I did have to keep a sharp eye on the cakes.  NO.  NOT FOR DOGS.  NOT EVEN FOR HELLTERRORS.  Cute is not enough.  —She was much admired by several aficionados of the breed, however, as well as cringed away from by several people who think they know that all bull terriers are evil biting machines.  Sigh.  We saw Labs (of frelling course), Goldens, poodles, gazillions of ordinary boring hairy terrier terriers . . . but we were the Supreme Only Bull Terrier present.

^ We used to allow dogs when we opened our garden at the old house.  Just by the way.  We also offered free plastic bags.  Ahem.  Today this aspect of the presence of dogs was pretty funny.  Pav in the heat of excitement had an unscheduled defecatory moment which—since I always have plastic bags secreted about my person in several places in case I forget and run out in the standard coat pocket location—I recovered.  But there wasn’t anything like a bin to deposit the securely wrapped morsel in.  I can’t now remember what we did when we had our garden open;  did we expect people to carry canine excreta home with them?  Surely not.  Anyway.  No bin.  So Pav and I went back to the gate while Peter bought tea+, and inquired there if there was a public bin nearby?  The car park this private garden was using for their open day was attached to some public wildlife preserve, you’d frelling expect there’d be a bin.

You’d’ve thought I’d made an improper suggestion++.  Both ladies looked alarmed and revolted and the nearer one edged her chair away from Pav doing her I-am-a-lunatic-and-I-have-no-manners shtick but clearly secured by a thick+++, heavy, short lead.  No-no-no-no-no, quavered one of them, clutching her twinset to her bosom.

I was tempted to make little dashes at them—like the bully in the playground waving a poor confused harmless snake at the wusses, although I would not describe Pav as poor or confused, or harmless if you’re wearing clean jeans—but I didn’t want to be told to go away before I’d had my tea.  So I restrained myself (and Pav).

And took our parcel back to the car.  Which was kind of a frelling walk.  Next year the owner, whom I heard saying jollily that they’d had a lot of dogs today, should consider both the suitability of the volunteers on the gate and the provision of a small bin with a lid.

+ Including the all-important Cake Selection process

++ Live in a yurt!  Buy an armadillo!  Get legless on a night you’re wearing stacked stilettos and make the Street Pastors give you a pair of flipflops!

+++ and spectacularly gaudy.  So gaudy I had a pair of meek little English men creep up to me and ask softly where I’d bought it.  Oh, the States somewhere, I said loudly in my rich American accent.  I forget.

So maybe it was the (pink) harness and rainbow-dazzle lead that the ladies on the gate were disturbed by, and the drooling hellterror exhibiting them was incidental.

^^ High enough, I guess, that they did not have water in their cellar this winter.

^^^ Rushes?  Tall strappy-leaved edge-of-river plants.

# The best thing of all was how easy it was to find.  It looked in the directions like it should be easy.  But that doesn’t mean anything.

## HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  But she lies down very well if there’s cheese or chicken involved.  And I did have chicken jerky in my pocket in case of emergencies.

** As I wrote to Alfrick, emailing to warn him I wasn’t coming last night, I start jonesing for monks if I go much over a week without a hit.

*** I’m a Street Pastor!  I’m about to become a frelling (nonreligious, but God still told me to) Samaritan!  Cut me some slack here!

†  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3damaS03KgY wowzah

†† https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD1Cq2T5veI gonzo

††† And I wager my neck was in better shape than his at the end of the four hours

‡ Leg stowage I admit can be a problem in these situations, but as it happens there was no one in the front row, so I could rest my raised knees against the seat without anyone objecting.

‡‡ In the interviews I’ve heard with him he sounds like a decent human being too.  I refuse to find darling people who are clearly major creepazoids.^

^ I’m old.  My hormones are under control.+

+ Except for the ones involved in hot flushes.  I thought you STOPPED HAVING hot flushes/flashes after a few years.  I’m waiting. . . .

‡‡‡ https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=pietro+spagnoli

§ Hot flush.  No, really.

§§ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pr2LBjN7K10 Gah.  I have wasted a lot of time trying to find a clip where you can not merely hear but see him.  There’s also quite a good one of him singing poor Cherubino off to battle but you don’t get a close up.  This one is fairly explicit.  He’s the one doing most of the singing, making up to the girl in the grey dress.  ::fans self more::  Oh, Dmitri [Hvoroskovsky], you may have a rival.^

^ I’M OLD.  MY HORMONES ARE UNDER CONTROL.

§§§ Okay.  Some knitting also occurred.

The Annual Bluebell Post

You thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?  Anyone who lives in bluebell country, however, can tell you that it’s pretty difficult to miss bluebell season—if your bluebells are happy they spread enthusiastically.  The wood I took most of this year’s photos in was drastically cleared out at one end some few years ago—they were dorking around with pylons and super-cables and things.  The bluebells had only started colonising that area and that stopped them flat.  But except for a narrow chop-through most of the trees were left standing and the bluebells regrouped and made another sortie . . . and they are now dazzlingly winning. That bluebell wood is a good, I don’t know, my sense of size is about as reliable as my sense of direction, sixty or eighty foot longer than it was twenty years ago.

I know bluebells are generally endangered or at least under pressure by deer, hikers, global warming and the Spanish invader, but as I’ve said before (at least once a year), not around here.*  Around here they are ebullient and thriving—and may they remain that way—even if they are total thugs in your garden.  One of my rose-beds at the old house was taken over by bluebells.  It was a tending-to-be-dry border in strong sunlight, for pity’s sake, a few bluebells couldn’t possibly hurt, they’ll be too busy struggling to survive.  You’ll be sorry, said Peter.  He was right.  I went through and dug out buckets of the wretches** one year and I had bluebells in that bed the next year anyway.

I have bluebells in my garden(s) now.  But I guess I’d better be nice to them.  Just in case.

Mmmm.  Bluebells.

Mmmm. Bluebells.

 

Random hellhounds.

Random hellhounds.

 

More bluebells.  Fancy that.

More bluebells. Fancy that.

 

There must be bluebells in the Shire, right?  For some reason they just slipped Tolkien's mind, midlander that he was.

There must be bluebells in the Shire, right? For some reason they just slipped Tolkien’s mind, midlander that he was.

 

Breeeeeeeeathe.  I don't think they've ever made a bluebell perfume, have they?

Breeeeeeeeathe. I don’t think they’ve ever made a bluebell perfume, have they?

 

Hi guys.

Hi guys.

 

Those paler, appley-green, also bowing-over stems in the foreground are Solomon's Seal.  If you enlarge you can probably see the little white bells.  When not overwhelmed by bluebells they're a very nice plant.

Those paler, appley-green, also bowing-over stems in the foreground are Solomon’s Seal. If you enlarge you can probably see the little white bells. When not overwhelmed by bluebells they’re a very nice plant.

 

Paths through bluebell woods are magical by definition.

Paths through bluebell woods are magical by definition.

 

. . . Till next year.

. . . Till next year.

* With the possible exception of the Spanish bluebell.  But I’m not sure I can decisively tell the one from the other:  proper English bluebells bow over farther and farther as their flowers open.  A very rounded-over bluebell is definitively English, but a more sticky-up one may still be English if it’s early in its flowering.  The Spanish bluebell photos I’ve seen look more like Scilla than like bluebells:  proper bluebell flowers are graphically and unmistakably tubular.^  The bluebell woods around here are (a) fairly out in the sticks, to the extent that Hampshire is ever out in the sticks^^ and (b) old, so they have a good chance of being pure;  also Spanish bluebells apparently don’t have much smell, and our bluebell woods are nearly eye-wateringly fragrant.  Particularly strong this year too, I think, possibly because of all the winter rain.

^ How can I tell whether bluebells are native ones or Spanish ones?

^^  which to a Maine girl isn’t very

** I couldn’t face hauling the lot up to the ridge, but I couldn’t face putting them all on the compost heap^ or the bonfire either, so I took some away and threw them around in the wild where they had a chance to engulf more woodland.  I’ve told you this story, haven’t I?  This blog is too old.  I’ve told most of my stories at least once.^^  Since it’s illegal to pick wildflowers or dig up bluebells bulbs I was terrified I’d be discovered and someone would leap to the wrong conclusion.

^ Yep.  We had bluebells growing in the compost too.

^^ Except KES, of course.

Kitchen Appliance Triumph

 

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.

Next Page »

I like the exact word, and clarity of statement, and here and there a touch of good grammar for picturesqueness. -- Mark Twain