I had started a post about how much I loved gardens in the spring.
And then Darkness came and stared at me meaningfully.
Darkness has had diarrhoea—again—every day for the last four days.* It had been the sudden mid-afternoon eruption schedule: this afternoon’s eruption didn’t happen so I was stupid enough to think that was hopeful—since the hellhounds’ digestion has never made any sense, it’s always just living from one crap to the next. And then tonight we moved into the multiple-geysering-across-Hampshire-at-the-hurtle stage.
I’m not in a good mood.**
* * *
* After a nightmarish fortnight about a month ago with both the hellhounds streaming constantly . . . what the bleeding doodah happens in March: it was last March when everything went horribly, horribly wrong . . . I thought we had settled down again. No. No.
** Also: hysterical. I do need to be able to leave home for more than an hour at a time occasionally. Samaritans training begins next week, for example.
APOLOGIES. I have a lovely guest blog series waiting in the wings . . . which I managed not to send to Blogmom to set up in hangable form. ::Beats head against wall:: All right, it’s the day after KES: let’s catch up on a few comments. Whimper.
Okay, I would feel slightly abashed that my first question after this post has to do with Kes’s choice of sleepwear, but since it’s obviously an issue which intrudes quite frequently into her own thoughts I don’t feel too bad about asking:
Can we expect Kes* to make it a priority to adopt sleeping attire more appropriate for the occasional nocturnal interruption of sword-wielding, thing-hacking, horseback-riding adventure**?
No. She’s going to get home (finally) and TRY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY* HARD TO PRETEND THAT EVERYTHING IS BACK TO NORMAL AND NOTHING HAS CHANGED. Since you posted this question I’m pretty sure Kes has made some remarks about sleeping in black leather and Kevlar but she’s joking. She’s trying, somewhat urgently, to keep her spirits up in a situation rather designed to smash those suckers flat.
*Assuming that she makes it out of this alive and sane^
^This is a McKinley story, after all, and the Hellgoddess, while a lover of cliffhangers, nonetheless would never hang her heroine out to dry
Well, not for very long anyway. This is a McKinley story. I have every intention of bringing Kes safe home**, although she’s going to have to get used to the lack of normal and the disturbing existence of change. I don’t know if the bloodstain in the front room is permanent or not, but Kes is going to have a major problem with funny creaky-old-house noises, you know the kind that you and I say ‘mice’ or ‘hellcritters’ or ‘dream’ and put a pillow over our heads or turn the music up in response to? Kes won’t be able to. Or anyway she probably better not. . . .
**Kes might prefer the term “horror”
And she can start by learning to say ‘adventure’ rather than ‘horror’. Poor woman. I’m so with the hiding-under-the-bed impulse.
. . . the thing that I am MOST enjoying about Kes is that it’s episodic. I remember reading A Tale of Two Cities, my first Dickens, and wishing for that possibility to read something in installments. . . . given that I can, if I want to, read whole new books all in (roughly) one go — the 800-900 word nature of Kes is exciting. . . .
Are you too young to remember the . . . uh oh, this is not an easy google search so we’re going to have to rely on my memory. BAAAAAAAD. Well, when I was a young lass, ANALOG used to run serials. This would have been in the ‘60s, because I was introduced to both ANALOG and their serials by my First Boyfriend in junior high. And they made me crazy.*** I don’t know if ANALOG still runs them—I was just looking at the table of contents of the current issue†—and I don’t see anything that overtly says serial but that’s not definitive. And I can’t remember if F&SF did (or do) serials too? I can’t begin to keep up with my book TBR piles, I stopped subscribing to fiction mags decades ago, the idea of a steady, relentless additional few hundred pages arriving every month makes me cry, although I’m perfectly capable of buying or ordering several hundred more specific-book pages every month, and usually do. And if I’d been alive back when Dickens was publishing HOUSEHOLD WORDS I would totally have had a subscription.
. . . [Kes] doesn’t want her life to go High Forsoothly. YES. In spite of my fondness for fantasy and fae and all that . . . I don’t really believe any of it exists. And I do have a way deep-down fear that someday it will show up and prove me wrong.
I have a deep-down fear that it won’t show up and prove me . . . um . . . right? Although if it involves wielding a sword—which I know as little about as Kes does††—and riding to battle in my nightgown I’ll pass. So would Kes, of course, if she didn’t have a mean author jerking her around. I’m sitting here wondering what I can safely wish for, in terms of some manifestation of magic in this our real world, you know? Be careful what you wish for. Is there anything that is both undeniable and harmless?
I can totally understand the act of closing eyes to force reality to come back. . . . . But I’ve also dealt with GMs before, and I know full well that you never break in the middle of a mind-frelling (and/or battle) bit.
I’m really worrying about ‘GMs’. Gastric Mucosa? Grandiloquent Mayhems? Giant Metatarsals? Gorblimey Maelstroms?
Plus which, like TheWoobDog, I’m assuming this will not end with Kes a smear and Murac saying ‘Gah, wenches’
::falls down laughing::
or something of the sort.
I think ‘gah, wenches’ will do nicely.
I *am* worried about Sid. I’m getting close to pulling an entitled reader moment
Hee hee hee hee hee hee. Try it. Go on, try it. Hee hee hee.
and demanding to know where she is! Too many episodes without Sid!!!
Mwa hahahahahaha. Hint: there may be barking soon.
And that twisted strap thing? If Kes doesn’t fix it, it’ll turn into a nasty. I’ve been there, and I know.
While I am a partisan of Murac . . . I would like to point out that “A man who takes good care of his horse can’t be all bad.” is kind of a bad way to judge him. As a fantasy style mercenary his horse is his very close to his life, livelihood, and continued good health. Taking good care of his horse is an important business/survival practice and (possibly) has nothing to do with goodness or badness.
We-ell. Point taken, but I don’t think really effective partnerships between Person and Horse are made if the person solely looks at the horse as a means to an end. I don’t think the horse is going to put itself out for the person without some kind of, you know, relationship bond, even if the feeding regime and stable management are sound—which as a mercenary’s horse they won’t always be. So you have to be the kind of dude who can fulfill this charge. Which means you have some spark of positive emotional connectedness behind that leathery exterior. Whether or not this has any effect on your attitude toward other human beings is, however . . . unpredictable.
But I can understand how Kes is grasping at straws here after that “at least they’re not going to rape me” moment. (Although I think Flowerhair would not be undecided on the Good vs. Bad issue if Murac were a known rapist there still remains the unknown.)
If Flowerhair knew him to be a rapist she would (excuse me) have cut some salient bits off. But, you know, The McKinley Story thing can be relied on here too. If Murac were that kind of total scumbag, he wouldn’t be getting the air time. Remember that KES is for fun. I don’t say there won’t be some genuine thorough-going villains . . . but Murac isn’t one. Although personally I don’t want to invite him over for a cup of tea and a chat about world politics either.
Somehow the comment about Kes’ younger self “She might even have thought Murac was romantic in a ramshackle sort of way.” made me think of her as an Agatha Christie heroine momentarily.
Snork. Well, I read a lot of Agatha Christie in a very short space of time when I was young and impressionable. Possibly these things Will Out.
So, on another topic, tangential to Katsheare’s comment… I’ve been wondering if there’s a new kinship with serialized authors such as Alexandre Dumas (and others) developing?
Elizabeth Gaskell maybe. Or Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Or Frances Hodgson Burnett. Or George Eliot, if you will allow SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE to count as serialised. Or as a novel.
TO BE CONTINUED. . . .
* * *
* Very to the ten to the whatsit power. Very to the max.
** And if the Story Council should be so indiscreet as to attempt to get in my way I will WHACK THEM.
*** So did he, but that’s another story.
† The internet really is amazing.
†† I took some fencing lessons, but with a modern sabre—nothing like the practical hacking-and-hewing items that Murac and his lot carry, or that Silverheart, for all her superior breeding, is also built for.
ONE TWENTY SIX
My feeling exactly. But I couldn’t open my mouth to say so and I had a small timorous thought that this guy might not go for modern throwaway humor and silence, involuntary or not, might be my best choice.
He turned on Murac like a firing squad and spat out some words like streaking bullets. Or arrows, possibly, if I wanted to keep the contemporary feel. I didn’t hear either azogging or giztimi but I didn’t think what I was hearing was the local version of ‘good job, well done’ either.
“She holds Silverheart,” said Murac—slowly. As if making sure I’d understand him.
Thanks, friend, I thought, I know named swords are bad news—at least for anyone who doesn’t find the death-and-glory route appealing. It was freaky enough when Mr WS addressed by name the large shining pointy thing that had suddenly appeared in Rose Manor’s hallway. A lot had happened since then, very little of it desirable, and I was willing to bet a full suit of armor against a tattered pink nightgown that it was seriously worse than bad news that the name of my sword was known by a scruffy adventurer. Possibly a scruffy azogging, giztimi-type adventurer. Trying to find a bright side to look on I thought okay, wielding, or trying not to wield, something called Silverheart is a little less discouraging than finding oneself lumbered with something named Doomblade that has a curse on it and hates you.
At least Flowerhair was still alive. Yes. I was keeping her alive. What—or who—was keeping me alive? Hello?
Mr Torpedo Shoulders turned back to me. He brought his horse alongside and I did not flinch, although Monster had turned to stone—and a very handsome statue he would have made with some other rider—and I wasn’t sure he’d’ve moved even if I’d asked. Mr TS pointed peremptorily at my scabbard and said, “See.”
Assuming this meant he wanted to see her, I fumbled for the hilt to draw her out. My hand was shaking so badly it took me a couple of tries but once I had my fingers wrapped around the handle shaft they stopped trembling and I drew her almost smoothly. The torch-bearer moved closer and . . . Silverheart blazed up like a torch herself. Eeeek. There was a collective sigh from the retinue. I briefly closed my eyes. No, my hand was not burning up. I opened my eyes again. I could see rows and rows of grim, grubby, worn-looking people staring at my presently flaming-gold sword, which was throwing some major lumens into the surrounding murk. Most of the people I could see were on horseback, but not all of them. I hoped a few of the beardless ones were women.
The scene could have been the subject of a Pre-Raphaelite painting: the Revelation of the Whatsit. Only the babe holding the sword should be more authoritatively attired. Also I wasn’t sure how long my unaccustomed arm muscles were going to be able to hold the Whatsit up and at this romantic if impractical angle. I hoped Millais or Burne-Jones or whoever was painting fast.
But as if in response to some stray beam of Silverheart’s light, the Gate now blazed up too, the side pillars falling away like curtains being yanked aside, the lintel exploding upward, the carving seeming to organise itself into tiers or sequences of what looked like runes. . . It’s a spell, I thought, and for one terrifying fragment of a moment I felt that I could read it, that I almost knew what it said. . . . But the lava-lamp bubbles, now as bright as tiny teardrop-shaped suns, streamed upwards as if the lintel had been a lid that they had shoved aside like floodwater bursting up through a broken storm-drain—and the runes crumbled and disappeared.
The confusion at the sill heaved wildly, throwing off splashes of streaky darkness like storm-seas on a moonless night crashing over a rocky shore. I could almost hear it as a distant broken roar . . . although it was probably just the horses around me restlessly snorting and stamping and their riders murmuring to them and each other. Did I hear someone say Silverheart? The wildness at the Gate’s threshold steadied . . . settled . . . solidified. My eyes tried to turn it into landscape: were those trees? A ridge of bumpy hills? . . . Fence posts? Steles? Monoliths? It was impossible to guess size or perspective. They could have been thumb sized, garbage-can sized, Empire-State-Building sized. I was pretty sure they weren’t thumb sized. It wasn’t that kind of story.
The Gate had now swallowed up most of the horizon; you could still just about see—or imagine—the demarcation between there and here, a shadowy suggestion of upright jambs—which made me feel sick and dizzy if I let my eyes rest on one or the other—aggravated by the upright lurching things in the Gateway.
Which became . . . rank upon rank of . . . figures, growing taller and taller as if they were walking up a slope toward the Gate . . . and then walking through it. . . .
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.
::POLITICAL RANT ALERT::
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!