I had what passes in my case for a terrific voice lesson.
AND THE REMOVAL BLOKES GOT IT ALL IN.
These two large dazzling items totally outshine the rest which is a good thing because it was very nearly a disaster of a day.
. . . Starting with not getting to bed early enough last night, partly because I really needed to sing and one song leads to another. . . . Staggered out of bed this morning making hopeless croaking noises like an installation of rusty hinges* and started lubricating with caffeine. Took the poor hellterror for the fastest sprint she was capable of** and locked her up again with an extra kong to comfort her in our absence.***
I took hellhounds-of-the-touchy-digestion for a minimal get-it-over-with scamper around the churchyard. Darkness refused to comply with the purpose of this exercise. Arrrgh.
Hellhounds and I were on the road with twenty-five minutes to spare: five minutes to bolt up to Third House and ask Atlas to clear out drawers and move ill-placed piles of [book] boxes in anticipation of removal-men arrival this afternoon and twenty minutes for hurtling at the far end before my lesson.
Atlas wasn’t there.
I could feel my throat closing.
Well, nothing I could do about it; I couldn’t even ask Peter if he knew anything, since, in the first place, he wouldn’t, because he’s been in Gloucestershire all weekend, and in the second place because he was on a train somewhere and I guarantee his phone had no signal, because that’s the way it goes.
So we thundered on to our next scheduled activity.
Frelling Mauncester was backed up from halfway up the hill into town. Stop go (but not very far) stop go stop go stop go stop go stopgostopgostop. Chiefly stop. It was like this all the way through town.
I could feel my throat closing harder.
We arrived at Nadia’s with THREE MINUTES to spare. I took hellhounds for a three minute scuttle and . . . Darkness continued to fail to comply. ARRRGH.
I was pretty nearly barking by the time I burst through Nadia’s door. . . She did make me do some breathing and loosening up exercises before I sang anything, but my throat said, Ooooh! We’re at Nadia’s! We like it here! —And promptly warmed up a dream.†
WE GOT THROUGH THREE SONGS. THREE. IT’S A RECORD. We usually bog down on the first one because I’m doing so many things wrong, not that Nadia would put it that way, but I would. We may occasionally galumph through bits of more than one—indeed even three—but only because I have a specific technical question†† or they’re folk songs I’m singing at home and want a little general input—or scraping back from the brink. But THREE REAL SONGS? It doesn’t happen. And furthermore the third—Vedrai carino from Don Giovanni—I’d only brought because I wanted to go over the frelling Italian before I started really working on it. We’d had a stab††† at it a while ago and it got set aside, but it’s been on my mind and since I now more or less suddenly have more voice it’s one of the ones I snatched back from oblivion.
Oh, go on, let’s just sing it, said Nadia. So I did. Eeeeep. And she made one or two painless comments and told me to go home and work on it.
Then Un moto de gioja and we spent some time on that one. Here’s an example of why I adore Nadia. There’s a place in the middle of Un moto where you hold a note for a very long time and then come off it again with a wordless twiddle before you start the next verse. I hadn’t even registered that you’re supposed to sing the twiddle—when I started work on this song Nadia had told me to hold the note only as long as was comfortable, but to keep time and come in correctly on the new ‘un moto’. Then I ACCIDENTALLY heard Danielle de Niese singing it and she sings the twiddle. Oh. It ties the two halves together better, the twiddle. I can’t sing it up to proper twiddle speed at the end of a long note—which is the part I can do—and as I hurl myself into the next verse. So I sing it at half speed. Nadia said gravely, if you were preparing this for public performance I think I would take issue with your singing it so slowly, but for your purposes at present it works very well. —She takes you seriously. Even when you’re screwing up Do Re Mi or tackling something like someone with a flint axe trying to produce a knock-off of the Sphinx.
Finally we assailed the nightclub proprietress. This is such a fabulous song. There are no fully satisfactory performances of it on YouTube—that I can find anyway—but here’s the poem: http://wonderingminstrels.blogspot.co.uk/2006/05/song-of-nightclub-proprietress-john.html ‡
It needs Lotte Lenya—who may have died before Dring composed it, in which case I excuse her for having failed to record it—or someone else who can put over age and despair. I don’t say you have to be old (despair optional) because in fairness I would then have to give up singing Voi che sapete, say, which is sung by a teenage boy, or Vedrai carino, which is sung by a bouncy village maiden (to her thick plank of a fiancé). But you have to put old and hagged over. I have a chance of this, with lived experience on my side. But the thing that is Very Exciting is that I can hear me beginning to sound like a mezzo: not just the range‡‡ but the resonance. And this is a very resonant song.
. . . I then took hellhounds for another hustle and FINALLY. A CERTAIN PARTY EXCRETED. We then belted back to Third House and arrived with three minutes to spare . . . and the removal blokes were already there. NEVER MIND. I WASN’T LATE. I let them in, pointed out all the Large Objects that had to go, apologised for lack of pre-clearance . . . and bolted back to the cottage to feed hellcritters‡‡‡ and take the hellterror for another mini-hurtle while hellhounds contemplated their bowls with disfavour. I was on my way out the door to flee back to Third House when the phone rang and it was Removal Men saying they were ready. . . .
I looked at their lorry before they shut the gate and my heart plummeted. There was no way they were going to get that lot in. I had the hellhounds with me again—no one had got any kind of a real hurtle thus far today—and we took off across some countryside§ behind the storage warehouse while Valiant Removal Men wrestled with the standard three dimensions of the space-time continuum and when we returned . . .
THEY HAD GOT IT ALL IN.§§
Oh, and did I mention that tonight was the first night of the Alpha course—?
* * *
* On this day that the Turner Prize is announced, this seems like a perfectly valid idea
** All right, the fastest sprint I was capable of
*** I’m sure, if asked, she would prefer the kong
† Please remember, when I say silly things like this that IT’S ALL RELATIVE. I have made a giant leap forward in the last few weeks but it’s still an 11-hand Shetland pony qualifying for prelim at the county show against the odds, not the branded warmblood insured for a gazillion pounds qualifying for the Olympics, okay?
†† Huh, whuh, um, bleaugh?
††† Way too vivid a metaphor, stab. Or maybe I’m just hallucinating KES.
‡ Baby ’pollies is not a mystery: they’re little bottles of a kind of mineral water popular at the time.
‡‡ I’m still putting in petitions to get my high C back. Lots of mezzos have high Cs.
‡‡‡ ‘Feed’ used loosely, which is to say the hellterror eats and the hellhounds do not.
§ And I managed to cut myself on some barbed wire. Frell. There was a normal gate to get in, and then at the other end one of those horrible temporary gate things that anyone who has spent any time wandering over English agricultural landscape will know to their detriment: several strands of barbed wire stretched between two light posts and held apart horizontally by being nailed to a series of short loose lathes. This contraption is usually held at either end by a loop at ground level where you stick the bottom of your post and then at the top by another loop which you have to shove it under, around the post of the real fence it’s being attached to. These things are a menace anyway, and if you lose your hold they collapse on the ground in a grisly tangle of barbed wire. But in this case . . . the frelling loops were made of barbed wire. WHY? Anyone trying either to open or close the evil thing is going to have to handle the loops. I managed to nick a finger and it bled and bled and bled and bled and bled and bled and bled and bled and bled and it was very boring and there are probably a whole series of predators out there tonight hopefully following my blood spoor. Sorry guys.
§§ Of course I still have ninety-six million books to do something with—I don’t mean Peter’s and my backlist, that’s already in its own storage unit—and a few odds and ends. Maybe a few more than a few.
Arrrrrrgh. I am not getting on with sorting out Third House for rental as fast as I should through a combination of factors: gremlins, gremlins, ME, native disorganizational genius, deep personal reluctance imperfectly repressed and gremlins. Did I mention gremlins? Originally I was going to start moving [Peter’s and my] backlist to the storage warehouse last week but Atlas and I got our diaries crossed* and he showed up on Thursday when I was going to the dentist.** ARRRRRGH.
First opportunity for a reschedule was today. I am not sleeping well*** and I have all these CRITTERS to hurtle and Peter and Atlas are detestably early risers so they played pinochle or something till I pantingly arrived, having run the hellterror 6,728 times around the (tiny) kitchen at the cottage, including over the island and across the ceiling† while I mainlined black tea, then locked her back in her crate with her breakfast†† and threw the hellhounds in the back of Wolfgang for ballast. We convoyed to Hrothgar’s Hall††† with Atlas going uphill at about twelve miles an hour with all that backlist dragging him down, and Peter noted lugubriously that it was too far for him to come on his bicycle. !!!!!!!*&^%$£”!!!!!!!! YES, IT IS.
We fell out of our various vehicles and I made a horse’s ass of myself trying to break into . . . I mean, use my honestly-acquired keys and instructions to get us into the flipping warehouse and open the loading gate. I’d still be there‡ if Atlas hadn’t cleared his throat and indicated salient features a couple of times. How does he KNOW? These frelling mechanical people. It’s like being able to do maths in your head or fly by flapping your arms. You’re either born with the gift or you aren’t.
I took hellhounds for a sprint around the perimeter while Atlas and Peter got on with unloading. There were sheep, white-winged doves that made me come all over Emmylou Harris and make a nice change from pigeons, and horses. This may have possibilities: I’ll have to look at the local footpath map. I quite like the idea of going for six copies of THE SUNSHINE ROSE HERO AND THE OUTLAW BLUE PEGASUS CHALICE END and having a nice country hurtle with some critters while I’m at it.‡‡
I looked at the space remaining in the tiny cubicle—the barely-more-than-a-cupboard—after Atlas and Peter had made tidy box-piles against one wall, and thought dark, evil thoughts. Then we all went home for lunch‡‡‡ . . . after which I crept, bent and oppressed with woe,§ back up to Third House and squinted, with the other eye squeezed shut, at the remaining boxes of backlist and 4,341 other people’s books still on shelves. . . .
Bottom line. I haven’t got a prayer of getting all those books in that space.§§ Never mind the odd box of towels§§§ and maybe kitchen china too.#
So Atlas brought the next load, this time of my backlist, along since that’s what he was there for and we weren’t going to burst out of the confines of the cupboard till the third load, and I applied to the Nice Man## who runs Hrothgar’s Hall and . . . of course he’s just rented the last remaining next-size-up cupboard and only has small airplane hangar—sort of helicopter hanger—sized units left. So I am faced with ENTIRELY READJUSTING my plans for only having stuff like backlist that we need to have available in this place and storing the big stuff in the very-slightly-cheaper, but-your-stuff-goes-away-and-you-can’t-get-at-it warehouse.
I’m so happy. Not.
* * *
* A little like pistols at dawn, but not very
** That whole side of my head is still irregularly flaring and snarling and saying DON’T DO THAT AGAIN, OKAY? Whimper. But he’s not done yet.
*** I am still breathing = I am not sleeping well
† The pans hanging from the ceiling rack making a musical noise as she weaves among them like a barrel-racing Quarter horse
†† She is now getting most of her food via kong. http://www.kongcompany.com/en-uk/
This is supposed to help keep her amused. Rather than just chowing down the contents of her bowl faster than the speed of light^ she has to work for her meals. Well, yes, but trust the hellcritter that belongs to me to find an alternative application. Your dog is supposed to chew the thing: Pav mainly throws it around. She does some chewing . . . but mostly she throws it around. Whang. Whang. WHOP. Whang. As musical accompaniments go I prefer the ting-tong of clashing pans.
^ This is totally true, you know. Scientists should investigate the physics of bullie food-inhalation. I’m sure the resulting warp drive would be better than dilithium crystals. We might make it to the stars after all.
††† Big storage facilities are creepy. I’m sure there are some really excellent horror stories about big storage facilities. Don’t bother to tell me: there’s no way I’m going to read any of them.
‡ And the hellterror would be very cross and HUNGRY.
‡‡ ::Urgently looking for reasons not to hate everything about renting Third House::
‡‡‡ Variously. The lunch part did not include the hellhounds. Siiiiiiiigh. Hellterror says, Put me in, coach. I can handle it. I’ll even play with that dumb rubber thing if it makes you happy.
§ Including non-eating hellhounds
§§ Also I think there’s a Pit and the Pendulum vibe and with every box you deposit in the space the walls move a little closer together.
§§§ There’s nothing the hellterror enjoys more than a nice towel shredding, so I can use the back-up
# We don’t need any hellterror help for breakages. Although she did take out the plate glass window of my ex-glass-fronted bookcase about a week ago. I spent hours sweeping, scrubbing and patting the floor for splinters. Also moaning. Moaning goes with this kind of work. The kitchen floor hasn’t been that clean in years.
## He probably needs a name. He will probably appear on these pages again. Also, he has two adorable spaniels. One of them wags her tail in her sleep.
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!*
. . . I went bell ringing.
It does amuse me that there were eight native-British Fustian ringers who would rather ring bells than watch any of the gazillion firework parties laid on by every two-dog village in the entire country. New Arcadia has a good one every year—viewable from either Peter’s spare bedroom window or my attic**—and if I’m not doing anything else I will give a cursory glance out of the appropriate window at the end of the show when they throw everything they’ve got left into the sky at once.*** But it’s not important. Bell ringing is important.
I’d spent too much time today rushing around†; Penelope rang up out of the blue this morning, suggesting we get together for a cup of tea†† and since I hadn’t exactly got out of bed early that kind of was the morning and the rest of the day has been an up the down escalator experience. The hellterror has had the semi-squirts††† so that cancelled the training visit to the vet’s waiting room since I don’t want to stuff a dodgy tummy with treats. But that is somewhat counterintuitively a further drain on time because she’s not the slightest fussed by lower intestinal irregularities and still needs hurtling: ten intense minutes doing sit-down-stand-paw-otherpaw are worth at least twenty merely barrelling through the hedgerows.
Having no sense, and also because it was a beautiful day I wanted the excuse to go for a country hurtle, I pursued another fruitless scheme. The Undesirable Repercussions of Running Out of Money, subparagraph seven: by renting your second house with the bigger garden, you no longer have anywhere all three of your hellcritters can riot properly, including room for Darkness to run away. I think it was Southdowner who suggested a riding school‡; so I went out to see Jenny. Remember Jenny, you long-time readers? Who has a yard‡‡ in Ditherington? Who let me ride her fabulous Connie? Before the ME got so erratic (again) that I had to stop. I know I could go back just to hang out and hug a few horses and even though I miss horses more than I miss riding . . . it’s still really too discouraging. So I don’t go.
Well, the riding school/ hellcritter thing isn’t going to work; the footing’s all wrong and the door doesn’t close properly against something the size of a hellterror. The space doesn’t have to be critter proof because even the hellterror has a not-bad recall and they’ll only be there, supposing we ever find a there for them to be, with me in full supervisory mode. But the fencing has to be recognisable as fencing from a hellcritter perspective. And none of Jenny’s fencing is. Rats. But I did get to meet a few of the current yard residents. . . . Siiiiiiiigh.
But we had a lovely hurtle.
And I came home and sang. Mozart is necessary: see previous entry.
I was too tired to go bell-ringing. But what was I going to do, stay home and watch the fireworks? I went. I think I am going to learn to ring Cambridge before it kills me but I admit I’m not sure. And Fustian’s tower secretary came up to me at the end and said that I was invited to the tower Christmas dinner, that he’d send me the info, and did I want to bring my husband?
Whimper. This is really very nice of them; it’s generally only worthwhile regular non-member visitors who are invited to the Christmas dinner, and I’m only taking advantage of their twice a month extra practise for the [extra] stupid. But I wasn’t even planning to go to Forza’s dinner—and a whole evening of being sociable? Two whole evenings if I go to both?‡‡‡ And that eating in public thing? Whimper.
I’m sure it’ll be good for my character. Both dinners. Maybe I’ll just bring some carrots§ in a bag.
* * *
* For any Americans out there who think that the 4th of July is the only legitimate day for fireworks: http://www.potw.org/archive/potw405.html
** If Third House’s future tenants want fireworks, they’ll have to buy a ticket and go.
*** But I’ve never seen a dragon. Let alone one that rips overhead like an express train and bursts over Old Eden. Okay, is anyone else bothered by the express-train-like firework dragon in the first chapter of THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING? I remember noticing it for the first time on my approximately 1008th reading when I was probably about twelve. Shock horror. I’m totally unpersuaded by the theory that this is an aside to the modern reader; personally I think Tolkien screwed up. But he was a notorious control freak—could he possibly have missed it? Can he, his family, friends and other readers and his publisher have missed it? Alternatively, can a meticulous Anglo-Saxon scholar have deliberately stuck a plonking great anachronism in his own story-telling?^ I don’t like either answer.
^ There are at least a couple of others, I think, but my memory is doing its vague and mushy thing again. If they all concern the hobbits, then there is reasonable support for the theory of hobbit society as a satire on English society sharp enough to contain a few anachronisms successfully. I think I remember that the Shire has umbrellas and pocket-watches. But they’re smaller and less obtrusive. Express trains are large and noisy.
† I should be packing boxes at Third House. Don’ wanna. Sigh.
†† What wins, a cup of tea with a friend or packing boxes? Guess.
††† My life with hellcritters. Well, at least it was only semi.
‡ I can no longer keep my Yank/Brit jargon straight. I think I mean riding ring in American. The place, probably with a fence around it, where you do your training/schooling.
‡‡‡ Peter would only go if I put him in chains and hired a forklift. There are some advantages to being 86: you can just say ‘I’m/he’s 86’ and everyone gives you lots of lovely slack.
§ Yes, I eat carrots. Whinny.
I was fording raging torrents coming back from church again tonight. I’m frelling learning where, if it’s been raining with undesirable enthusiasm, there are going to be raging torrents on that stretch of road: I could do without being obliged to acquire this aqueous information. There are one or two especially raging torrents that I’m going to give names to if this keeps happening. Arrrgh.
It hasn’t been a totally satisfactory day in other ways. Got to Forza* and found Vicky on the step, waiting for someone with a key. We waited. We chatted. We waited some more. We chatted some more. I finally got Pooka out and checked the tower diary: it said ringing this afternoon. We were getting cold. It’s kind of a wind tunnel, where you wait for Someone with a Key. Also, no one else was showing up, which was suspicious.
Finally I checked my email, and there was a note from Albert, saying ‘oh, in case you didn’t know, there’s no ringing this afternoon. . . .’ ARRRRRGH. It had been sent about an hour and a half before. I was hurtling and feeding hellcreatures at that point. I was not looking at my email. I did take a last quick glance at the tower diary when I climbed into Wolfgang.
However the hellterror’s first experience of a training class yesterday went very well. Neither of us died.
I did get up at the dingleblasted crack of dawn**, hurtled hounds, ate something not because I was frelling hungry at that savage hour but because I was going to have to function.*** And then the hellterror (who was delighted by early breakfast) and I leaped into Wolfgang and . . . away.
We didn’t get lost.† Until we got there, that is. This is a two-speck village: it’s not even a wide place in the road. How can you MISS something when it should be all there is?
We managed.†† Fortunately a man wearing the sort of clothing you might expect of someone about to stand in a field shouting orders wandered past and proved to be the bloke we wanted. I explained that while there were and had been many dogs in my life, this was my first hellterror; and that while I’d never had anything to do with dog shows when the breeder of the family Pav’s mum had come from saw how pretty Pav was turning out, wanted to show her. I’d blithely agreed, not engaging brain about the likelihood that a hellterror who thinks an exciting night on the town is a stroll around a silent churchyard at one or two o’clock in the morning and an exciting night in is three people in the sitting room for handbells and tea, was not going to cope with a dog show. A large dog show. Which is what duly occurred. But Pav has turned out very pretty indeed, and Southdowner is not willing to give up without a struggle.
Hence my attempts to gear up for Operation Super Socialisation.††† Our new trainer did warn me that some dogs just never take to showing, however well-bred and well-trained they are, but I said I’d worry about that later. At the moment I just wanted her to get used to more input than she got at home with me.‡
We had by this time arrived at the training field, while Pav was busy proving that she never, ever walks politely on a short lead or pays any attention to me whatsoever. Sigh. And at about this interesting juncture the largest dog I have ever seen entered the ring . . . on its hind legs, with its handler grabbing for the extra-strength back-up harness.‡‡
Ah yes, said the training bloke calmly. Jezebel is a little nervous of other dogs.
And Pav did not like Jezebel, who made Wellington look like a Pomeranian. There was barking. There was pogosticking on little short legs.
But it turned out okay. It also turned out there were only the two of us—well, it was raining—so we just worked on calming our respective mad furry things down. The Mastiff did very well—as soon as her owner got the sausage rolls out. Jezebel was walking on a short loose lead and sitting—facing away from miniature mayhem on the other side of the ring—for her sausage rolls by the end. I had had the forethought to have a couple of packets of treats in my pocket so we did the turning away and gobbling treats too, although I only got about three steps of loose lead out of her in the entire hour. Siiiiiigh. Well, room for improvement. She was sitting on request by the end of the hour—and we’d slowly spiralled in to within eight or ten feet of Nemesis without either of them reacting.
So. Small cautious yaaaaay.
* * *
* This is about to be the season when I wish violently that my home tower was still a one-minute sprint down the street from the cottage. Forza will be trapped in Christmas shopper gridlock from . . . any time now.
** An interesting image, the crack of dawn. I tend to think in terms of thunder and doom rather than widening lines of light.
*** I can mostly hurtle, or at least womble, even when I’m sub-functional. Driving . . . I’m afraid I certainly have driven when I’m doing my river-bottom-slime imitation but I try to avoid it.
† I even didn’t go the way he told me. I looked at it on the map and thought, Why? That’s the long long way around. Apparently the owners of dogs in need of training/socialising/exposure to more other dogs all lack satnav and have back road phobias. But this is my briar patch and we went the back way.
†† And satnav would have been no help. We were in the right post code, what more did we want? Miracles? No, the village hall.
††† This week’s agenda includes using the vets’ out of hours waiting room as a training area^ and going to a dog-friendly pub for lunch.
^ The point being that a vets’ waiting room even out of hours is full of critter smells and activities, and Southdowner suggested this as a good socialisation focus months ago.+ I was careful about the vet I talked to about this so the answer would be ‘yes’.++
+ I like the idea of a whole stream of us cranky no-social-life types with volatile puppies using the vets’ waiting room for life-exposure purposes. They’ll have to post a schedule, and we can all sign up for our slots.
++ Also, the vets’ waiting room floor is the largest piece of floor space I have available. Especially when Third House is about to go off limits.
‡ An additional reason why I was a clueless twerp about how much socialisation I am giving Pav is because it has seemed to me she’s jerked up a developmental stage—especially noticeable this week, unfortunately, after our spectacular groundwork failure at the show, but, dunno, maybe the show itself had some positive effect?^
Part of Operation SS has been taking her for hurtles over landscape she hasn’t been on before. Last week and out in the middle of nowhere, one of these blasted bungalow-sized Labradors came roaring out of the shadows at us. Fortunately I saw him coming in time to pick her up first, while I was myself roaring CALL YOUR DOG. CALL YOUR FLAMING DOG. It was a good minute, maybe more, before I finally heard a frantic little voice calling Welly! Wellington! Come! —which Welly the Wellington totally ignored, of course, and two minutes before the wretched woman appeared, and chased Welly off—since he certainly wasn’t going to let her catch him. Now, granted Welly wasn’t vicious—just huge—but I’d’ve expected Pav to react, and she didn’t. She watched with interest from her perch on my arms—which were clamped to my body so Welly’s gigantic nose couldn’t dislodge them—but she wasn’t bothered. I was bothered.
Second time, worse, was today, when another bloody terror—scraggily-haired Jack Russell type—came shooting around a corner at us, paused only long enough to adjust its attack mode and FLEW at Pav. I didn’t have a chance to pick her up in time, and she just stood there looking regal, to the other terror’s consternation. It was disconcerted enough that it backed off—which gave me a chance to grab her. At this point the useless owner appeared.
But a month ago I’d’ve expected her to go ballistic, barking, and I wouldn’t have blamed her either. But she didn’t. I want to believe this is progress and not just that she happened to have her mind on other things at those moments.
^ Never mind. I can hear Southdowner laughing from here.
‡‡ As I realised in retrospect. At the time I just thought we were both going to die. But it had an ordinary collar and lead plus one of those no-pull things, and her owner was shifting her grip from the snaffle to the curb, so to speak.
It has not been a good day. I overslept—which at least has the advantage that I got some sleep—but I was racing around tripping over a puppy very anxious to be helpful trying to catch up with myself and failing, of course, does anyone ever catch up?*, and one of my split-second decisions was to leave the GIGANTIC HOUSE SPIDER perched precariously on a skirting board near the front door—he was too big and he didn’t fit, and was having to extend some of his supernumerary limbs around the corner and grasp the front of the bookcase—and finish throwing the last six animals and twenty-two knapsacks in Wolfgang and get down to the mews before sunset.
Which means he’s still at the cottage. Somewhere. Waiting for me. Unless of course he’s found his beloved and they are experiencing marital bliss . . . somewhere. You don’t seem to find pairs of spiders so I’m ASSUMING I don’t have to worry about the happy couple(s) once they are. But it’s now definitively nighttime and by the time we all** get back to the cottage I’ll be tired and . . . I know it looks like a really dumb decision. But there’s the additional factoid that neither of my spider catchers are actually up to the job of autumn-sized house spiders, the ones that are as big as your hand. That Godzilla I posted photos of a couple of years ago is still a personal worst, but this time of year there are always several jolly little pony-sized arachnids that, like the cockroaches outside Charlie’s Coffeehouse, you can hear as they clatter across the lino’d*** floor. Ugggh. But I wonder what spider-catcher-inventors are thinking about when they design something big and strong enough to tackle a somewhat undernourished daddy-long-legs? I have never used the box one on anything bigger than my thumbnail because I dislike cutting legs off, even of spiders . . . and I’m probably not going to bother with a spider that small anyway—I’m a sort of mutable arachnophobe—and the box-catcher, while it was sold to me for spiders, is useful for wasps and Other Things That Sting.
I have been put off forever using the bristle-brush catcher, where you plop the business end of this bushy broom thing over your spider and then run the handle down toward it so the bristles close over it, TRAPPING IT SECURELY. Yes. Indeed. An autumn-sized spider says ‘hmm, indoor hedgerow, don’t like it’, bursts through the plastic bristles without breaking a sweat AND RUNS UP THE HANDLE TOWARD MY ARM. Exit screaming.† I may have told you this story before. The memory lingers.
. . . I thought this early story-arc of the hob was dead obvious. Dead obvious isn’t necessarily bad—see previous response: OF COURSE I’m going to feed a friendly hob—but it’s usually, erm, obvious. You must read too many engineering texts or something and your eye has got out for fiction.
Well, yes, looking back, it was obvious. **defensively** I’d just turned 70 the day before. I was rather shaken by the idea that my extended middle age is over. 70 is undeniably old.
I seem to have left a piece of my brain behind. But, hey, I’m 70; I have an excuse. Right?
I’m sorry! ::Grovels:: I meant to be teasing you. —It goes on being a problem, this communication thing, even after 1,000,000,000,000,000 years of evolution from space dust or sea-bottom slime or whatever††, and email and the internet have just super-extended it into eleventy-seven new dimensions. You get so used to talking with your fingers that you forget how many of the traditional social cues you’re not picking up.
Er . . . happy birthday? I had a friend commenting when she turned seventy several years ago that everyone was telling her that ‘seventy is the new fifty’. No it isn’t, she said. That would make sixty the new forty, and I can vouch that sixty is not forty, new or otherwise.
. . . Best insomnia cure for Christians: Read Leviticus.
::Shudder:: Not for me. Leviticus is too full of horrors. You’re supposed to do what because of what? Noooooooo. Not to mention killing all those poor critters and splashing their blood around.†††
I cook for my home group regularly, and we have some people with very restrictive diets. I would always rather know as much as possible as soon as possible (within limits of what they are comfortable telling me, of course). For me, hospitality is a big deal. So if someone does have a limitation and they don’t tell me, I always feel bad that I wasn’t allowed to provide them what I provided everyone else with (or at least the equivalent). It makes my hospitality feel incomplete. I would say I do feel like you would be ministering to me by telling me because it would relieve me of the guilt I would feel for being inconsiderate of someone else’s needs, even if it was unintentional. . . .
Sure. And I have emailed the organiser. But I don’t like eating in a group and I resent being forced to do so. I wouldn’t join a home group that required me to accept the food hospitality of the organizer as part of the regular meetings: if this Alpha course began every meeting, instead of just the first one, with a group meal, I wouldn’t sign up. Hospitality, and providing for your guests, is your big deal. What if one of your guests has a big deal of being able to eat in private without someone’s need to be hospitable looming over them?
Diane in MN
. . . hellhounds are, erm, undesirably reactive to rabbit and venison and they won’t eat any of the other within-my-price-range options.
If you haven’t already tried it, you might look at turkey as an alternative to chicken. The taste is similar but the proteins are different (I was allergic to chicken, but not to turkey), and if it’s a new food they might not be sensitive to it. That’s assuming turkey is as commonplace in your markets as it is here, of course.
Turkey is available over here at Christmas, at £1,000,000,000 per carat. If there are other turkey options I haven’t found them, although I admit my google-fu is poor. I’ve had other Americans suggest turkey—and duck, which is nearly as expensive although available most of the year in case anyone wins the lottery—and I’ve tried the dog-food turkey and duck, either 100% or at least grain-free, and hellhounds, of course, won’t touch it. Fortunately Pav will so all those frelling tins aren’t going to be wasted.
. . . I adore Bendicks Bittermints, they are not thin and squidgy but thick and solid with a really intense mint hit.
Yes, I remember those. Before I discovered G&B, and before I was clobbered by the ME, I got through a lot of Bendicks Bittermints which are, as you say, excellent. But the ME comes with a lorryload of chemical/environmental sensitivities/intolerances as well as the straightforward food issues and I’m pretty paranoid about organic. And Bendicks, unfortunately, is not organic. I admit that I wonder what kind of corners G&B may be cutting behind their behemoth corporate front, now they’re no longer independent. And do things like disguise inferior new product in a superior old product’s packaging.
Yeah, I’ve been VERY lactose intolerant for about a year now, and the thing that I hate most is how difficult it makes communal food (especially dessert). My church is making efforts to be better about labeling . . . but mostly in the direction of being accommodating to people with gluten sensitivities. . . .
Food allergies and intolerances are so common now—and commonly known about—it amazes me, not in a good way, how slow how many providers of public or communal food, including restaurants, are to respond in any useful way. One of the things that used to make me crazy when I first moved over here is that any vegetarian option WAS UP TO ITS ARMPITS IN CHEESE. It’s like the entire country had got stuck in the early Moosewood Cookbook stage. It’s better now, but it’s still not uncommon to find the one ::trumpet fanfare:: vegetarian option on a restaurant menu to be three kinds of LOCALLY SOURCED!!!! cheese artfully woven through some risotto rice. And if you’re dairy- tomato/potato/eggplant/etc- and gluten-intolerant HAVE A NICE LIFE. Somewhere else. If you can. Fortunately I do—and can—eat meat‡, or I’d’ve starved to death years ago.
Restaurants are fun, too. Last night, for example, I found myself dragged along to an Italian place. And it’s not that I don’t like Italian food. But ALL ITALIAN FOOD IS BETTER WITH CHEESE. . . . If anyone has suggestions for what Italian food I should be ordering that would still be interesting without cheese or milk, I’m open to ideas.
Okay, I may be able to help here. Back in the days when I was only lactose intolerant I discovered harlot’s sauce. Most Italian restaurants have it and I never had a bad one—famous last words I daresay. I can’t immediately find my recipe since it’s been retired and while I’m used to being dairy-free I still suffer lingering sulkiness about being tomato-free, but this one looks like the right stuff:
* * *
* Don’t answer that
** The thirty-seven animals and ninety-eight knapsacks
*** We’re not supposed to call it lino any more. Lino is scruffy and low-class. I think it’s now vinyl. I have a very nice floor, whatever it calls itself, except for the muddy spider footprints. The hellcritters and I all wipe our feet carefully. Yes.
† Pav is extremely fond of the bristle-brush spider-catcher, although not for the use for which it was intended.
†† And the hand of God, but in one of his obscurer moments. Although on a bad day I think the entire Bible is one long, gruesomely over-extended obscurer moment.
††† Definitely an obscurer moment.
‡ AND LOTS AND LOTS OF (mostly raw) VEGETABLES AND FRUIT. I’m so Paleo. I’m probably healthy as **** and will live forever.^
^ Well, if I am healthy as **** it’s nice idea. . . .