July 24, 2014

Shadows is here!

Weather, myalgic encephalomyelitis and hellcritters

 

Glory hallelujah I hate this weather.  And if one more frelling dingdong weather person says, Oh, it’s going to be ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL SUMMER DAY, NOT A DROP OF RAIN IN SIGHT!!!, I am going to hunt them down and kill them.I really don’t get it, about the weather reporters.  Not counting people like me who comprehensively hate the heat** a meteorologist worth a third of his/her salary has to know that land needs rain.  Especially standard western agricultural landscape like southern England.  Endless blue lying-on-the-beach days*** are NOT GOOD FOR ANYONE.†

Okay, there is one semi-advantage to this weather.  It slows even the hellterror down so—especially because I’m too tired and stupid to be doing anything like, you know, writing PEG II or a few more episodes of KES— I’ve been taking the opportunity to oversee having the entire hellmob loose at once.  Usually the hellterror rampages about the place till I get tired of stripping her off the ceiling and prying small pieces of furniture or bits of hellhound out of her mouth, and then she goes back in her crate and, to do the little monster (and her pre-hellgoddess conditioning) credit, she settles down quickly (mostly) and goes to sleep.  She will stop mayheming when she’s told but this doesn’t often last . . . and also, she’s a hellterror.  To some extent they’re built this way.  And if she wants to hucklebutt around table, human, and hellhound legs followed by the end-swapping thing till I get dizzy watching her—and then flip over on her back and repeat her morning ritual††  . . . there’s really no reason she shouldn’t, so long as she (and the hellhounds) get that that’s the deal, and that jumping on the sofa or diving in the garbage is not part of the deal.  Also also, in my enfeebled state, nobody is getting as much hurtling as they’re accustomed to and while in this heat they don’t mind as much as they might, still, basic levels of stimulation should be maintained.†††  And, you know (she says cautiously) it seems to be working reasonably well. . . .

But I will be very, very, very, very glad when the weather persons stop putting the next rain off for at least another forty-eight hours AND THE WET STUFF POURS FROM THE SKY.‡ 

* * *

* There I go again, being a good Christian.

** And hate watering their 1,000,000,000 pot plants.  It’s almost enough to make me pave the frelling garden over.  Not quite.  Besides, if I had a garden-sized patio I’d just HAVE MORE POTTED PLANTS.^

^ After all I have no front garden at the cottage, just brick steps and tarmac, AND IT’S COVERED WITH POT PLANTS.+

+ It’s also looking pretty fabulous if I do say so myself.  My semi-detached neighbour, Phineas, said to me a day or two ago that he loves walking up the little hill past my house to his because he is ENGULFED in the smell of my flowers.  ::Beams::  That’s mostly the sweet peas.  I invariably buy the ones described as having the strongest scent.

*** ::shudder::

† Especially anyone having an unusually severe ME attack.  That BathBot sealant has absolutely done me in.^

^ And of course the hellhounds aren’t eating.  Of course.  I’m not eating very well, myself, but I’m eating, because I know I need food like landscape needs rain.  It’s true that your moral imperative quavers a little about tamping food down your hellhounds’ throats when you’re having to do something very similar to yourself, but.  I’d retweeted something a day or two ago, someone howling at the idiocy of some of the anti-food rhetoric in certain women’s magazines, that FOOD IS NECESSARY TO SURVIVE and I’d added that yes, I’d been thinking about this in the post-flu doldrums of having to force myself to eat.  Someone tweeted, did this make me more sympathetic about the hellhounds?  Basically . . . no.  They’re forcing me to take responsibility for keeping them alive.+  If it were emergency four-hourly dosings and blood transfusions and things, okay, yes, of course.  But this is just bad mental/physical wiring and stupidity and obstinacy and I’m sick to, you should forgive the term, death of it.++

They tend to get all apologetic when they won’t eat.  They flatten their ears and look at me mournfully.+++  That and £3 will buy me a cup of coffee, guys.  And I don’t drink coffee. 

+ The vet said, they don’t usually quite starve themselves to death.  I’m sure usually dogs don’t.  But these are food-indifferent sighthounds with something already wrong with their digestive functions, I know what happens if they don’t eat for twenty four hours and I don’t want to go there.

++ Also I’m coming out of it now, but it was interesting for about five days trying to figure out what I could feed myself that I would actually EAT.  If you really really really don’t want to eat something, your throat closes and if you try to swallow it anyway you’ll gag.  It was like arguing with a two year old in a tantrum.  Well, will you eat A—?  No.  Well, will you eat B—?  No.  C?  No.  D?  No.  Well, what WILL you eat?  I DON’T WANT TO EAT ANYTHING!  WAAAAAAAAAH!  And, you know, vegetables?  I who am about 80% rabbit, only taller and with a nastier temper?  Bleeeeeaugh.

I lost weight.  I didn’t like losing weight.  I’m thin enough, and at my age you lose weight you get haggard, and the sympathy you attract isn’t the good kind because you’re too old to get haggard interestingly.  Also, post-flu and with the ME lying on me like a very, very, very, very, very large hellterror~ and as a person of relatively advanced years I need not only calories I need good calories.  Arrrgh.

~ Hellhounds lie much more delicately.  The fact they weigh—speaking of weight—a third again as much as she does, each, is utterly beside the point.

++ And then a little while later they get all jolly and want to prance around and play.  That’s the fresh calories coursing through your systems, you morons. 

†† This usually involves ferocious growling for some reason.  If you check on her just to make sure nothing is troubling her she won’t stop growling, but the tail starts going lickety split.

††† And the hellterror is maniacally willing—nay, eager—for lap time even in this weather.  After she’s hucklebutted, destroyed a few toys, pestered Peter, rolled around on her back and growled, been yelled at a few times for garbage/sofa/hellhound misbehaviour, she starts trying to climb into my lap.  She can just about do it too, with those pogo-stick legs.  First time I thought she was kidding, so I fished her up, draped her over my legs, and waited for her to get down again.  Wrong.  Half an hour later she was dead asleep and I was sweating.

Hellhounds and I still lie on the sofa together.  But we leave gaps for air circulation.

‡ At which point we will find out if hellterrors can generalise from somewhat better behaviour mostly on account of the heat to somewhat better behaviour learnt while the heat was helping press home the lesson.^

^ I am of course naively assuming this welcome rain will be the kind of extra-welcome rain that drags the temperature down drastically as well as watering your garden.

Further anecdotes of an imperfect week*: relapse two

 

Before I went down with this lurgy I had booked Peter’s BathBot** for delivery and installation this past week.  This meant lying on the floor*** festooned with hellhounds for an hour last Monday† waiting for this large heavy box†† to arrive.

Friday was installation day.  I had a booking slot for noon to two.  I was beginning to feel a little bit alive again by Friday, so having chased the hellterror around the churchyard and locked her up with a fresh chew toy the hellhounds and I went up to Third House where I re-embarked on that tired old house-move cliché of attempting to get too many books on too few shelves. †††

It occurred to me that time was passing in a lacking-installer kind of way.

At quarter to two I rang customer service‡ and said, um, I had a date with a toolkit and a drill for noon to two and neither hide, hair nor drill-bit had I seen thus far?  Ooooh? she said.  She took my post code and said she’d ring the engineer and get back to me.

She didn’t.

At quarter past two I rang again‡‡ and this time, when some other woman took my post code she said, ooooh, there’s a message for you.  The message said:  the engineer has been delayed and will be with you at THREE THIRTY.

First I checked that they did, in fact, have Pooka’s correct number—Pooka, who had been lying open on the table for the last two and three quarters hours‡‡‡ so I would be ABSOLUTELY SURE to hear any incoming calls§.  Yes.  They read it back to me faultlessly.  THEN WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE TELL ME THE ENGINEER WAS DELAYED?  I said, thinking of the poor hellterror back at the cottage wondering where the rest of her hurtle (not to mention lunch) was.  I MIGHT HAVE ONE OR TWO OTHER THINGS I NEED TO DO TODAY.  ASIDE FROM THE SHEER INFURIATINGNESS OF HANGING AROUND WAITING FOR SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T ARRIVE.

Do you want to reschedule? said the woman in a placatory manner.

NO, I said, I WANT TO GET THIS OVER WITH.  BUT WOULD YOU PLEASE PASS IT ON TO ADMIN THAT YOU SHOULD TELL PEOPLE WHEN THEIR ENGINEERS ARE DELAYED?  I AM, AT THE MOMENT, FEELING EXTREMELY CROSS.  I’m sure she would never have guessed.

So I sprinted back to the cottage§§, pelted Pav around a bit§§§, hauled everyone down to the mews, produced lunch in which only Pav was interested, and the hellhounds and I were just about to leap into Wolfgang and return to Third House when Pooka started barking AND IT WAS THE ENGINEER WHO WAS TEN MINUTES EARLY.

::Snarling noises::

He viewed me a little warily, I think, but I wanted the frelling BathBot installed, didn’t I?  So I was as glacially polite as possible in this weather.  And then I went back to my books on shelves and he got on.#

He was there over two hours## and I was feeling rougher and rougher, but I put it down to FURY, lack of lunch, and trying to keep any of the discarded books on the discarded pile.###  And then he called me in to see what he’d done~ and as he said ‘the sealant will need a couple of hours to settle’ the smell hit me and I felt dizzy, queasy—well, queasier—and my returning sore throat started to swell.  FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING I’VE BEEN OFFGASSED.  If I’d actually been able to smell it before I was in the same room with it I might have had the sense to open some windows. . . . ~~

So I’m back on the sofa again.  Still.   Forever.  Not.  I hope.

And I feel like rubbish.

Sigh.~~~

* * *

* or fortnight

** Since I’m about to be rude I will give them a belated alias

*** There are a few chairs at Third House but nothing to lie on, and chairs have mostly not been my best trick recently.

† An hour.  One hour.  Let me tell you about the wonders of DPD.  http://www.dpd.co.uk/index.jsp  First you get an email from your seller, telling you that your parcel has been dispatched to DPD and what day it will arrive.^  And then on the day YOU WILL RECEIVE A TEXT WITH AT LEAST AN HOUR’S WARNING OF THE SINGLE HOUR YOU NEED TO WAIT IN FOR DELIVERY.  I adore DPD.

^ This for ordinary shopping like, ahem, say, dog food, when you haven’t booked a delivery day, as well as hideously expensive one-offs like BathBots when you have.

†† I’m not going to touch it, I said to Mr Delivery Man with his handcart.  You just plonk it down there, and thanks.

††† Episode 76.  Episodes 77 through 1,003 to come.

‡ Which was pretty much an event of its own since their 800 number apparently bounces from local office to local office to local office till—at last!—it finds someone not on a coffee break^ who could actually bear to pick up a ringing telephone and every time it bounces to the next office first you hear that little jerk in the ringing tone AND THEN YOU GET THE SAME FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING ROBOT VOICE ABOUT HOW CALLS MAY BE RECORDED FOR TRAINING PURPOSES AND YOUR CALL IS IMPORTANT TO THEM FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING DOODAH FRELLING.

^ Not in a good mood here.

‡‡ Undergoing the same lively and engaging experience as last time.

‡‡‡ Because I’d got there early poor eager fool that I was, so I wouldn’t miss anything.

§ Absorbed as I might be in the books-on-shelves question.  And its corollary, the I have here one hundred books and have space for fifty, therefore I must divest myself of fifty books conundrum.  And the sub-corollary which says you will comb carefully through your hundred books and divest yourself of . . . three.

§§ Which is a really bad idea when you’re struggling with the end of flu and the familiar recidivist weight of the ME.

§§§ And aside from flu and ME the weather for the past week SUCKS DEAD BEARS.  It is that gruesome hot-sticky-humid that makes you feel as if you had ME even if you don’t.  We’ve had several nights of thunderstorms but all they provide is son et lumiere.  There’ve been cloudbursts that wouldn’t fill a birdbath, and the water continues to hang in the air.

# Because the frelling Brits won’t allow ANYTHING ELECTRICAL in a bathroom you have to go through all these acrobatics any time you want . . . oh, a light switch installed, say, let alone a BathBot.  So he looked at the ground and made some sensible suggestions and then let me decide—this was something he was good at, as opposed to the ‘keeping abreast of scheduling problems’ thing—and we now have wiring holes in the airing cupboard and some curious tech in a corner of the dining room.  Feh.

## You can see how he could fall behind, because of having to fit everything but the Bot itself outside the bathroom and finding a remotely suitable location for this;  I briefly wondered about putting some of it through to the attic but decided that was just too Cyberiad.  We don’t give a lot of formal dinner parties anyway.

### The moment you turn your back, they hop back on the keepers pile.  This is another well-known house-move phenomenon.

~ And to give the chronologically careless ratbag his due, he had done an extremely neat and well-disguised job in the dining room.  The BathBot itself is the BathBot but it’s supposed to be, you know?

~~ In this weather it tends to be cooler inside than out so you don’t frivolously open windows.^

^ And while the well-being of the twit who stole six hours out of my day is perhaps not high on my list of priorities, and I’m prone to environmental allergies, which goes with the whole auto-immune ME-and-other-things spectrum, I do kind of wonder what breathing that stuff day after day is doing to him, however robust his constitution.

~~~ I know.  KES.  Some day.

Wolfgang my hero

 

 

Yes.  The hatchback closes too.

Yes. The hatchback closes too.

 

One of the nasty little surprises awaiting me at Third House* was the FRELLING BOXES OF OLD PAPER FILES.  Crushed frelling boxes, just by the way, since they’d got mixed up with the backlist.  But when Atlas was loading up his trailer to take backlist to the storage unit last autumn I asked him to set anything that wasn’t book boxes aside.  And then life happened and the last few months Atlas has seen more of Third House than I have.**

It’s quite amazing how much STUFF is left after you’ve emptied a house.  Curtains.  Rolled up rugs.  Bits of china you never liked and hadn’t decided what to do with.  BOOKS THAT MUST BE SORTED.  It’s also quite amazing how many old files I seem to have.  Speaking of things that need sorting.

Twenty or thirty years ago when I was buying filing cabinets in Maine you could get black ones.  Or grey ones.  Or black.  Or grey.  Or . . . I bought black.  But I did not love them, and I left them behind because standard British paper is longer than standard American paper and it wasn’t going to fit in standard American filing cabinets.  I had a gorgeous old wooden filing cabinet at the old house, its only drawbacks being that it took ten strong men and a team of eight Shire horses to move it and that the drawers kept falling off their rails.  It then declined to fit through the door at Third House.  MORE ARRRGH.  So I sold it, and put the files in cardboard boxes.  Which I was going to deal with.  Later.

Well.  It’s later.  And I have to WEDGE everything I had sprawled all over Third House into the attic because the ground floor is now Peter’s.***

I went on line.  I searched for two-drawer filing cabinets, because they have to fit under the eaves that make the attic a living space for people who like crawling around on their hands and knees.  COLOURED FILING CABINETS.  COLOURED FILING CABINETS.  Be still my heart.  So I bought a PINK one.  Of course I bought a pink one.  Two pink ones is so obvious however so I bought a yellow one.†   Yaaay.

Except that the on line description says ‘self assembly’.  Golly, I thought, nuts and bolts.  But I have my secret weapon, Atlas, so, fine.  I ordered.  And I had them delivered to the cottage because of the whole WHAT DO YOU MEAN DELIVER TO AN ADDRESS NOT ATTACHED TO YOUR CREDIT CARD AND OF COURSE WE AREN’T GOING TO TELL YOU WHEN WE’RE ARRIVING SO YOU CAN GET UP THERE TO ACCEPT DELIVERY.  WHICH WE WON’T LET YOU HAVE ANYWAY BECAUSE IT’S NOT THE ADDRESS ATTACHED TO YOUR CREDIT CARD thing.

I don’t know what the self-assembly part is but two filing cabinets arrived today.  I looked at them and my heart sank.  I wasn’t at all sure even one of them lying on its side would fit in Wolfgang’s boot.

Wolfgang, my hero.

* * *

* That’s aside from the fact that we’re going to have to RIP OUT BOOKSHELVES to get Peter’s desk into his office.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE.  What is wrong with it is that the second, smaller bedroom is now a staircase with a little angular wodge of semi-usable space around it.  Arrrgh.  Building regs^ ARRRRRRRGH.  And Peter is so inconvenient as to have a LARGE desk.  Why can’t he just balance his laptop on his knee?  Feh.  Half a wall of bookshelves has to go.  Misery.

^ For anyone who wasn’t reading the blog then:  I wanted to put a WEIGHT BEARING FLOOR in the attic for all the BACKLIST.  As soon as you put in a weight-bearing floor the Building Regulation Goons are all over you.  A weight-bearing floor means living space, never mind you can’t stand up in it.  Or that it’s going to be full of boxes of books.  Living space means you have to have a proper staircase.  Good bye, second bedroom.

** Mowing the grass, propping up the frelling FRELLING boundary fence so next door’s evil little ratbag terrier doesn’t keep getting through and crapping all over my garden,^ taking over the garden shed with boy tools.

^ Evil little spiky-haired ratbag terriers are an entirely different, monumentally inferior order of being from, you know, bull coughcoughcough terriers.

*** This happens to involve carrying all 1,098 crushed boxes of files up the stairs to the attic again.

† I probably need three or four.  I’ll worry about that LATER.

Summer. Ugh.

 

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

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

Unnnnnngh. . . . †

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

++ Not when I do it anyway.  Siiiiiiiigh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned.

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

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

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

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

Mindfulness

 

 

Samaritans training was Tuesday this week* so I made it to Aloysius’ Wednesday afternoon silent prayer for the first time since . . . the last time Sams training was on a Tuesday.  And Aloysius wasn’t there.  Feh.  I knew this, and I’d said I’d come hold the floor down in his absence.  There were actually a few other people there—slight gleep from yours truly—but I lit the tea-light, read out a bit of psalm and hit my temple-bell timer.**

Catlady

I’ve found, myself, that it’s not that I’m not praying when I lead/ sing for services, it’s just that I’m praying differently. I’ve always felt that prayer has to be a verb — for me, it’s prayer when I set up the sanctuary . . .  it’s prayer when I’m whispering directions to those joining me in front of the congregation. . . .  It’s even prayer when I’m singing the Mi Chamocha by rote and trying to figure out who would be moved by the next reading . . . don’t give this one to that person, because it always makes her cry, which is best done if you’re not trying to read aloud . . . it’s just not the Mi Chamocha that I’m, you know, praying. Occasionally, when it’s a solo, and there’s nothing left to coordinate, and everything goes right, I get to lose myself in the actual prayer that I’m actually praying, which is holy in a different way. But it’s all prayer to me…

Thank you for this, and for your previous on the same subject.  It’s a mindfulness thing, isn’t it?  I think part of what has helped me about the headspace for performing worship is that I got put on the prayer chain at St Margaret’s really quickly*** and floundered rather trying to figure out how to cope with all this praying for people when I was new to praying at all.  I’ve told the blog that I ‘sat’ at a [Buddhist] zendo back in Maine during a year I was finding very rough, and the silent mindful daily sitting made a huge difference in my ability to cope.  I fell out of the habit of daily mindful sitting when I moved over here but I didn’t forget that that space existed and was accessible.  And then hey-presto I became a Christian and . . . gleep.  The silent-sitting space is both utterly transformed by the presence of God and also strangely—reassuringly—familiar.

The sitting-space became the prayer-space and having God to orient myself toward makes me feel as if I have an idea where I’m going, even if I don’t always fully arrive.  You have to leave your stuff at the door and sometimes I . . . can’t.  But I take my prayer-list there—or as close to there as I can get—and I go to Aloysius’ Wednesday afternoon silent prayer when Samaritans’ training doesn’t get in the way, and the high point of my practising-Christian week is half an hour sitting silently in the dark with some monks, Saturday evening, during the ‘Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament’, before night prayer starts.  The more often you go to the prayer-space the plainer the track becomes.†

I can gather a few little wisps of prayer-space when I stumble†† up on stage to sing for service.  I’m not much of a singer or a musician—I have to work at making what I hope is a half-decent noise—I have to focus.  It is, at this point in my dubious development, relatively straightforward to focus on the prayer side rather than the music side.  The less kind way of putting it is to say it rates as prayer because intentionality counts.  It does not rate as music because intentionality only gets you a pat on the head and a bellow of NEXT from the bloke running the auditions.†††

But . . . where we came in.  If you can hold your feeble, wavering, mortal focus on prayer . . . what you’re doing is praying.  It’s a bit like deciding to run a marathon when you’re over sixty and have bad knees, but hey.

* * *

* Last night was writing emails and texts.  I was expecting this to be shocking and dislocating, like a watercolourist being handed a block of granite and a chisel, but in fact it was a whole lot like . . . writing.  In this case, emails and texts.  The texting was funny.  I’ve told you that I’m older by a good fifteen years than the next-oldest of the trainees, and probably thirty-five years older than the youngest.^  And I’m like, texting, fine, okay, I can do texting, and all these kiddies were saying TEXTING?  We have to TEXT as Samaritans?  And we’re supposed to understand all those nasty text abbreviations?^^  And I’m going, oh, cool.  Txtspk!  <3 !^^^  The Samaritans’ text software limits texts to 160 characters, so my fellow trainees were saying, we’re supposed to compose something EMPATHETIC and SUBSTANTIVE in 160 characters??  And I’m saying, oh, it’s like a slightly stretched tweet—you know, Twitter.  Sure, I can do that.  And they all recoiled as if from a slavering Rottweiler and said, TWITTER?  We have nothing to do with Twitter.  —Snicker.  Us do-gooders are so straight.#

^ How did I get this OLD?  I was supposed to just kind of stay forty.

^^ Which we’re allowed to use, cautiously, trying to take our cue from the texter.  We get a lot of texts and emails from overseas and from people whose first language is not English and we do have to communicate.

^^^ Which, not very long ago, when, I think it was Jodi, used it, I had to ask her for a translation.

# I’m talking to Merrilee tomorrow night and I will have to remember to tell her, since she’s the one dragged me kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century, including both this blog and Twitter.+

+ I don’t count Facebook, which I don’t use.  I post the blog links there and if FB is in a good mood and lets me, I read any comments.  But about the seven millionth throw-it-all-up-in-the-air-and-stick-the-bits-to-the-wall-as-they-fall-down-again revision, I mean upgrade, I lost the will to live about all of it.

** And went home with Eleanor after and spent an hour and a half wringing our hands and rending our garments over an incomprehensible political situation that has recently arisen in St Margaret’s.  THIS IS WHY I HATE GROUPS.  THEY’RE FULL OF CRAZY PEOPLE BY DEFINITION.

*** ref comments about saying ‘yes’ to things you think you can do so you don’t get ploughed under with things you can’t, it being the function of a community, including a religious one, to extract as much practical value out of its members as it can.^  St Margaret’s is thriving in a general society where a lot of churches are struggling, and I’m sure one of the reasons why is the bloodhound look in the eyes of the admin as soon as a fresh victim crosses the threshold.  When you sign up to be an official mailing-list member you are doomed.

^ See previous footnote.  Sigh.

† More or less.  Some frelling day I will be able to sit properly at home.  The old Zen-Buddhist, and Zen-Christian, thing is just that every time you’re distracted you bring your mind gently back to your breath, or whatever you’re using as a focus.  If I’m sitting with monks I need to bring my mind back, oh, no more often than thirty-seven times a minute.  At home alone, relying solely on my own resources . . . it’s like trying to whack a manic fly with a flyswatter.  LAND SOMEWHERE YOU DEVILSPAWN SO I CAN NAIL YOU.  Sigh.

†† FRELLING CABLES EVERYWHERE.  MICROPHONES, KEYBOARDS, GUITARS, BASS GUITARS, DRUMS^.  I DON’T THINK THE FLUTE IS ELECTRIC YET BUT I’M SURE IT WILL BE.

^ Or drum accessories.  I don’t think the drums themselves are electrified (? Like I have any idea), but there are certainly cables running (perilously) to the drum kit.

††† This is aside from questions of the quality of the actual music we’re attempting to perform.

 

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