April 23, 2014

Shadows is here!

Yarn Adventure and maybe some ranting

 

Fiona and I had a Yarn Adventure today.  And about time too:  we haven’t seen each other since November.  Life:  what a ratbag.

Admittedly there is usually a high gremlin count when Fiona and I get together but today they weren’t half trying.  We were going to set off at two, which in our case usually means before 2:30, well, maybe, if we’re lucky.  Fiona usually texts me as she leaves the house*.

No text.  Well, whatever, and we got on with hurtling and then with feeding me**.

Still no text.  Prepare to feed critters, since I was going to put it down as I left.  Sometimes this intrigues hellhounds sufficiently to stimulate them to eat.

Still no text.

Dither.  Feed critters.***

Okay, now I’m worried.  I have checked Pooka several times.  Nothing.

I’ve hung the laundry and washed all the lunch dishes† which is of course nicer to come home to but WHERE IS FIONA?

Pooka barks, and I make a slightly dish-soapy dive for her.  I have the feeling my texts aren’t getting through, says Fiona’s voice.  I HAVEN’T HEARD ANYTHING FROM YOU SINCE LAST NIGHT TILL THIS PHONE CALL.

Well, I’ll be there in three minutes, she said.  And as she rang off, Pooka chirruped and SEVEN MESSAGES POPPED THROUGH.  ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH.

The day improved from there however.  Our chosen yarn shop was having a MOVING TO NEW PREMISES sale and . . .

Fiona, as we know, has a slight Sock Yarn problem.

Fiona, as we know, has a slight Sock Yarn problem.

My problems are perhaps more general.

My problems are perhaps more general.

I’ve been wanting FEARLESS KNITTING for yonks but, you know, it persists in being full price.  The dark auburn yarn is Debbie Bliss Winter Garden which I have also wanted for yonks but it’s too frelling expensive, and the green and gold down front is Louisa Harding Grace Hand Beaded which etc.  And the other stuff is just . . . um . . . shiny?  And when a pattern book only costs £2 you only need to like one pattern in it. . . .

* * *

* This text will read ‘I’m running a little late because . . .’  Mind you, if she’s not running late, I’m in deep trouble.^  Today’s non-arriving text however informed me that her car had broken down and she was negotiating to borrow her parents’.

^ The hellhounds would like this.  It might mean I didn’t have time to FEED them before I left.  The hellterror, of course, would chew her way through the front door and come after me if I tried any such thing but I wouldn’t DARE.  Also feeding the hellterror is easy.  Open nearest tin, throw contents in general hellterror direction, add a handful of kibble if you’re feeling persnickety, and don’t stand too close or she’ll eat the toes off your shoes.  The hellhounds . . . it starts with cutting up the chicken scraps SMALL ENOUGH that Chaos, in particular, who has prehensile lips, can’t just hoover up the chicken, and you need to stir the kibble in really well because any that has not been touched by the magic chicken-stock wand will be instantly rejected as dry and tasteless and beneath delicate hellhound dignity.

Unfortunately for them, however, I had allowed time for the careful creation of appropriate hellhound comestibles.  It didn’t work though.  They still didn’t eat it.+  That look in Chaos’ eyes says:  if you didn’t mix it in so well I’d’ve at least eaten the chicken.

+ Do I have to bother to tell you that the hellterror ate hers?  No?  I didn’t think so.

** Moans of protest from the hellterror who is, furthermore, sitting on my feet, just to make sure I haven’t forgotten her.  YOU JUST ATE BREAKFAST TWO HOURS AGO.  YOU ARE NOT STARVING.  Also, sitting on my feet is counterproductive.  You are heavy.  You are obviously getting plenty to eat.^

^ I was out hurtling hellhounds recently.+   People frequently stop us to be goopy over them.  Mostly their admirers stick to telling me how beautiful they are, but occasionally someone wants to find it funny that we’re all skinny and leggy.  Hellhounds are also now quite grey in the face so we’re all skinny, leggy and old.  But some dork came up to us the other day and was in grave danger of rupturing himself over the sheer hilarity of owners who look like their dogs.++  I stared him in the eye.  I have a bull terrier at home, I said.  I did not mention the ‘mini’ part.  He stopped laughing and edged away prudently.

+ In my life I can always say I was out hurtling hellhounds recently.  And hellterror.

++ I wondered what his frelling problem is.  I have no idea, of course, but he was a big flashy maybe forty-ish dork, and looked a bit like someone who was maybe rolling into midlife crisis and in a mood to be snarky about some post-menopausal hag who is refusing to stay home with her TV and her memories but is out cluttering up the pavement wearing jeans, All Stars and long hair, and walking her dogs like she thinks she still has a purpose in life.  I don’t like big flashy forty-ish dorks who think looming over me and being scornful is a fun thing to do.#

# Speaking of testosterone poisoning, yesterday I was creeping up the hill to the mews in Wolfgang, which little journey is another of those absolutes in my life, going at 30 mph which happens to be the speed limit.  And I was passed by five motorcycles.  FIVE.  Streaking past, whing whing whing whing whing.  What the what the what the I can’t even.  And there is all this bushwa about how cars are supposed to be careful of motorcycles.  I don’t know if this is nationwide or just around here, but there are posters all over the landscape saying THINK BIKE.  How about if BIKERS think at all?  I’ve been a motorcyclist, as long-term readers of this blog know, and it is absolutely true that people driving cars can be amazingly stupid and dangerous about bikers and this is a large part of the reason I stopped driving a bike while I still had all my body parts intact . . . but the frelling majority of the motorcycle accidents around here are caused by male bikers being assholes:  yesterday at least I was only going 30.  Being passed by some dinglenut on a 60 mph road that is only just two lanes wide with hedgerows on either side . . . going around a curve?  Yes.  I have.

*** Ecstasy of the Hellterror.

† Except, of course, hellhound bowls, since they haven’t eaten anything.

Surviving Easter

 

Peter’s had another fall.

I went to the Easter Vigil at the monks’ last night and it wasn’t over till after eleven—and then they fed us tea and cakes.*  So I got home late and it took me forever to wind down** and eventually went to bed late even for me.***

I’d left Peter a note that I wasn’t going to make our 11:30 pick up—since the stroke he walks into town to buy a newspaper, he’s old-fashioned like that, and I appear with Wolfgang and a backseat full of hellcritters at the appointed hour and take all of us down to the mews.  My note said that I’d ring him.

I rang him at 11:30, after about half an hour of evolving wakefulness, swearing and caffeine, and said I could be at the pick-up point at 12:30.  I’m not coming, he said.  What? I said.  I’ve had a fall, he said:  It’s okay.

IT’S NOT OKAY.  WHY DIDN’T YOU ******* RING ME.

I knew you went to bed late last night, he said.  I didn’t want to bother you.

AAAAAAAAAAAUGH.  WHY DO I TAKE POOKA TO BED WITH ME?  WHY DOES SHE LIE ON THE EDGE OF THE BOOKSHELF RIGHT BY THE BED HEAD, RIGHT NEXT TO MY ALARM CLOCK, SO I CAN’T POSSIBLY NOT HEAR HER IF SHE RINGS?†  LIKE, IF YOU GET IN TROUBLE AND COULD USE MY HELP?††

It’s okay, said Peter.  I’m fine.

Well . . . as falls in the bath when you’re eighty-six years old go, yes, he’s pretty healthy.  He still looks like an extra from one of the battle scenes in BRAVEHEART.  Meanwhile I was down to sing at St Margaret’s tonight†††, it’s Easter, and—I’ve told you this, haven’t I?—the Master of Music, whom we shall call Mr Bach‡, has decreed that there shall be no more than THREE singers, so if one of us doesn’t show it’s a bit conspicuous.  So I viewed my gory husband‡‡ with disfavour‡‡‡ and declared I was going to church as scheduled.

Aloysius had sent us our list of six—six—songs gallantly early in the week, which chiefly gave me time to freak out.§  Also there have been one or two other things going on.  And then I got there tonight and after having a brisk lesson in being a roadie (‘plug that in there—and that in there—and that in there’§§) I discovered that what we were performing only bore a genetically modified family resemblance to the YouTube links.  Arrrrrgh.  Oh, and I’d’ve made a hole in the line up if I’d cancelled?  There were only two of us singers.  ARRRRRGH.§§§

But there were big handfuls of chocolate eggs on all the little café tables that we gather around at the evening service.  Eat up, said Buck.  I don’t want any left.  Hey, singing in front of an audience burns a lot of calories.#  And there was roast chicken when I got home.

Happy Easter.##

* * *

* Banana coconut cake to die for, just by the way.  I’m going to ask Alfrick if there’s a recipe.^  There was also hot chocolate for anyone who can deal with dairy.  Siiiiiiiigh.

^ Alfrick’s a good cook.  Experienced in producing lavish spreads for mobs with varying dietary requirements.

** Christ is risen, you know.  The Anglicans raise him Saturday night which is fine with me—I’m not invested in the three days thing, I want the Friday part over as fast as possible—plus driving.  That the Saviour lives is exciting enough but driving a car really winds me up.

*** . . . Never mind.

† That is, barks.

†† And it’s worse than that.  He fell in the bath.  The bath apparatus the NHS physios tried to set up didn’t work with him in this bath, so they took it away again.  And he has insisted on going on having his bath in the morning when I’m not here rather than the evening when I am.  It was clear I wasn’t going to win this battle and purposeless bloodshed does not appeal, so I let it go.  Even knowing it was an accident waiting to happen, it’s not like I could lock the bathtub when I left at night.  But  . . . he fell in the bath having spent most of half an hour trying to get out of it first.  He fell in the bath having spent most of half an hour trying to get out of it with HIS phone within easy reach.

I’m running away from home to join a convent.^

^ Also, the Nightmare of Hellhound Digestion continues.+

+ And by current indications Darkness is planning on dragging me all over Hampshire again later tonight.  Joy.

††† I know Easter is supposed to be pretty epic, but . . . it is.  And bouncing between St Margaret’s and the monks for the last few days has rendered me even more la-la-la-la than I would be anyway:  if you’re going to engage with the Easter story, it’s going to rip you up pretty extensively, and I’m old to be learning graphic new skills.

Generally speaking I find St Margaret’s less embarrassing because it’s less formal.  But in the can’t-take-me-anywhere category . . . Good Friday at the monks includes the abbot and some candle-holders and incense-swingers doing an abbreviated Stations of the Cross which finishes with everybody else queuing up to genuflect and kiss the cross that was sequentially unwrapped during the Stations.  My turn:  I managed the genuflection without killing anyone but I misjudged the bending-forward business and managed to impale my face on the sticky-out bits of the cross.  Wounded by God.  Good . . . grief.  Fortunately the cross was being held by two stalwart young men, possibly in expectation of someone like me, so no damage done.  Except to my face, of course.

At least I managed to cross myself a couple of times at more or less the right moment without poking myself in the eye—or in my neighbour’s.  I’ve made a few hopeless attempts to find out what the actual system is at a high-Anglican service but since it apparently varies from church to church and priest to priest anything google might be able to teach me would turn out to be wrong.  It would also be helpful if the actual order of service books produced BY the monks for their attendees were frelling accurate.    And why does everyone else in the congregation seem to know which bits to ignore?

‡ PDQ.  I am not a fan of a Master of Music who limits singers to three.

‡‡ Head wounds BLEED.  Also he’s on Warfarin.  Whimper.

‡‡‡ Georgiana was here this afternoon, and in a family notorious for its bossy women we may be the two bossiest.  And Peter stood up to both of us with aplomb and dispatch^ so he probably is okay.

^ Including things like chaining himself to the railing rather than be taken to A&E.

§ Also . . . I rather like one of them.  Oh God I am losing my musical integrity.

§§ I think the church’s bass amp is about as old as I am.

§§§ Tonight’s other singer, Janey, who has been singing at St Margaret’s for many years, said, somewhat grimly, in response to my craven desire for sheet music, that learning any given song is of limited usefulness on the night since every leader performs it differently.  She picked up the lyric-only sheet of our first song.  This one, she said.  Aloysius plays it one way.  Buck does it another.  PDQ does it yet another.  Samantha another.  Are there any other leaders?  They do it differently too.

Oh.

# And my husband seems to have hidden the GIGANTIC chocolate egg another branch of the family brought us on Saturday.  I have to get my ellipsoidal chocolate fix somehow.

## Although the Darkness situation is still outstanding.  And I’m trying to decide if I should wake Peter up before I leave and make sure nothing new has swollen or developed bruising and his pupils are still the same size as each other.

Curses. Foiled again.

 

I was supposed to be going to a concert tonight.  Well, I was supposed to be going to a concert tomorrow night, only I kept forgetting, because Saturday night is Monk Night* and that there might be something else going on doesn’t register unless you nag me relentlessly**.  So by the time I remembered—chiefly because I was going to be seeing the friend who was singing in it and wanted me to come—it had sold out.  Never mind, she said, come to the dress rehearsal.  Which I would probably have enjoyed more anyway because it’s more of the nuts and bolts of putting on a performance***.

It has not been a brilliant day.  I went with Peter when he saw his GP this morning, and the frelling doctor was forty five minutes late without explanation or apology.†  Sound of Robin scraping herself off the walls since Peter likes his doctor and I don’t want to disturb this desirable situation by, for example, putting said doctor through the clinic paper shredder.††   Then Peter and I had our usual Friday foray to the farmers’ market, to which I bring the hellhounds so they were okay, but I got back to the cottage finally and very late to an EXTREMELY CRANKY HELLTERROR who had to be soothed by . . . well, give her a dog biscuit and she’s your slave for life, or at least till the next dog biscuit, but I figured I owed her a good walk.†††

Meanwhile I’d had a text from Niall reminding me that the much-neglected-by-me Friday handbells were occurring tonight at 5:30 as usual . . . I’d already texted him back that I was coming, after which I was going to have to rip off to the concert.   Good thing I don’t write the blog every night any more, I thought, harnessing up hellhounds for their pre-handbell sprint.

. . . And Darkness has the geysers again.  WAAAAAAAAAAAH. ‡

So I stayed home.

And I thought, oh well, I might as well write a blog post.  Sigh.

* * *

* Which is a ratbag on your social life, if any.  But the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament—which I think I’ve told you before?, is that you stare at the wafers they’re going to use at Mass on Sunday morning, which are suspended in some manner within this golden starburst thing I’m told is called a monstrance^ is kind of booked to happen Saturday night.  Clearly weeks need an eighth day, so you can get your serious acting-out post-work-week over with, or possibly just go to a concert, on that day^^ between Friday and Saturday and be sufficiently clean, upright and awake^^^ for wafer-contemplation on Saturday night.

^ Which I feel is an unfortunate derivation.  Like calling angels vampires because one of the origins+ of ‘vampire’ may refer to spirits of the air.  And why is a rosary either a rose garden or a loop of prayer beads?  I know—garland.  But confusing.

+ disputed, but I think they’re all disputed

^^ Which I feel should be called Loki-day or Misrule-day except the world would probably end.  So maybe we could call it Dead Sheep day or Dwarf Conifer day.

^^^ I will not say no one has ever fallen asleep during the Exposition.  Unless you fall off your chair+ it’s not a big deal in the congregation—all one or two or three of us—because we’re sitting in the dark till the service begins.  The black-garbed chappies up on the dais . . . yeah.  They’re kinda visible if they start to nod.++  But the Benedictine order is heavily into physical, three-dimensional this-world work, and my monks have probably been rescuing kittens from the tops of two-hundred-foot leylandii cypresses and doing the steel-driving man thing alongside soulless steam drills+++ all day and are tired.

+ NO.  I HAVEN’T.  THANKS FOR ASKING.

++ Alfrick never falls asleep.  He’s my hero.

+++ And winning, of course.  Our railroads need a few miracles.

** And even then nothing is guaranteed except that I’ll probably bite your head off.

*** I’m singing again at St Margaret’s on Sunday—AAAAAAAUGH—the nice young man who is leading this week dutifully sent the playlist last night with the video links—AAAAAAAAUGH.  I’d far rather be learning The sun whose rays are all ablaze^ or I Want to Be a Prima Donna^^

^ The Mikado.  You’d’ve remembered in a minute.

^^ On the spectacular perversity of bodies:  my singing practise at home is pretty . . . erratic, both because I’m an erratic kind of person (!) but also because I have an erratic kind of voice, which I gather is pretty standard, it’s just if you’re good and/or professional you learn workarounds.  I will warm up a bit, sing a folk song, warm up a bit more, sing another folk song, lie on the floor and do a few breathing exercises, sing another folk song or an old gospel thumper, sing something I’m actually working on to bring to Nadia . . . do a few more warm ups.  What I sing and how I sing it is entirely based on the noise I’m making:  on a good-noise day I’ll do a lot more than on a bad-and-I-can’t-seem-to-make-it-better-noise day.  Most days are in between:  if I keep doing warm-ups and vowelly exercises and approaching the intractable from different angles I will at least improve.  Probably.  I also try not to get too hung up on what specific notes I’m singing—this is on Nadia’s advice—find a range my voice is happy in and sing there.

But by the end of a good practise I’m singing a high B as part of an exercise pattern without any particular effort—my much-desired-for-silly-reasons high C is clearly there I just haven’t quite had the courage to have a stab at it—somebody tell me why, as soon as I’m trying to sing a song, I can’t even hit a frelling G reliably.  Because my blasted throat closes up and goes no no no no no!  Eeep eeep eeep eeep eeeep!+  I tried to be clever about this the other day, and snaked out a few bars of Prima Donna where you’ve got a G-to-G octave leap, because octave leaps are a gift they’re so nice and obvious, and I use them in exercises all the time.  But my voice wasn’t having any of it.  I know what you’re trying to do, it said, and went squeaky.  ARRRRRRRGH.

Tonight’s concert included a professional soloist singing something that I—theoretically—sing, and I might have found this educational.  I might also have come home and burnt my music books, so maybe it’s just as well I didn’t go.

+ What’s even more irritating is when I’m sharp rather than flat.  Usually it’s flat—which is losing your nerve at a big fence so your horse raps it with his knees and brings a pole down.  Sharp is jumping eight feet over a three-foot fence.  But if I give up and sing along with the piano . . . okay, the note’s true enough but it’s got a frelling edge on it you could slice bread with.  ARRRRRRRRGH.

† I GOT A LOT OF KNITTING DONE.  It’s been a good week for knitting.  I got a lot of knitting done at St Margaret’s AGM equivalent earlier in the week too.  Gah.  Groups of PEOPLE.  DISCUSSING things.  Nooooooooo.  I’m a Street Pastor!  I’m going to be a Samaritan!  My social conscience is FULLY BOOKED UP!  I don’t have to do church-AGM-related things too!

†† No jury would convict me.  My barrister or whoever would be sure to load the jury with people who have WASTED HOURS OF THEIR LIVES IN DOCTORS’ WAITING ROOMS.

†††  She’s crated if she’s left alone, so if she’s been locked up longer than she thinks she should be she tends to emerge like the Blue Angels/Red Arrows at an air show.  WHEEEEEEEEEEEE.

What frelling happens in March?  We’ve had a really bad March, that is, the hellhounds have, and I have because I’m responsible.  The hellterror, I am delighted to say, seems to be maintaining intestinal integrity this year.  I thought we were coming through it. . . . But it all went horribly wrong in March last year . . . what happens in March? 

Return of the Frelling Indoor Jungle

 

What first struck me about Anette’s post is how surprisingly similar to mine where her garden is in the march into spring.  The small skinny trough at the foot of the stairs to the cottage front door, which I recently posted a photo of full of crocuses, is now blindingly yellow with eager, enthusiastic little Tete a tete daffs.*  I have primroses everywhere.**  I have all those Little Blue Things I can’t keep straight.  I have several varieties of lungwort, the pink, the blue, the pink and blue, and the white, with variously interestingly spotted and mottled leaves.  My crocuses and snowdrops are mostly going over and my early iris aren’t out yet at the cottage although they are at Third House.  And I certainly have the little wild violets which while I don’t want to be without them ARE A TOTAL THUG and I get a little hysterical when I find them colonising another of my pots where if radical action is not taken immediately they’ll have crushed whatever I planted in that pot into a victimised corner with its hands over its face crying for mercy.

Spring.  Yes.  Spring.

And then last night we had what Nadia’s mum today told me jovially was the coldest night this winter—except that it’s supposed to be spring—and while yes, this is the south of England, and we’re only talking a few degrees of frost, we’re talking a few degrees of frost when everything has been rioting out in relatively warm sunshine for the last fortnight or so ARRRRRRGH.  And I have a Winter Table full of potted up dahlias and begonia tubers.  ARRRRRRRRGH.

* * *

* They smell good too, although there are other daffs with more scent:  Cheerfulness, for example, or Erlicheer, which are probably my two favourites for fragrance, but they don’t keep on and on the way that trough of Tete a tete does.  Maybe the cursed mice are getting them.  I can’t keep bulbs going at all in the back garden because of the sodblasted mice:  I net a few pots every year and am getting better about remembering to take the gorblimey netting off before it strangles the bulbs trying to come up through it^ and that’s nearly it for spring bulbs.  The local field mice, frustrated of their once rich banquets of tulips, may be indulging their grievance by eating daffs instead, although they’re not supposed to—daffs are one of the bulbs you’re supposed to plant if you have a mouse problem.  Ha ha.  But my garden ought to be jammed full of daffs and it’s not.  The one bulb the local vermin seem pretty reliably not to like is hyacinths and I do keep a few pots of crocuses going by storing the pots in relatively inaccessible areas the mice can’t be bothered to hire a helicopter and a rope ladder to attack.  Mostly I resign myself to replanting crocuses.  Or netting them.  They’re tiny enough they can usually scramble through the netting even if I forget to take it off.  Ahem.

I keep the plastic half barrel by the kitchen door that I use as a waterbutt covered so nothing is tempted to drown itself.  But the pink bucket also by the kitchen door which is my kitchen-waste compost bucket, in the weather we’ve had this winter fills up with rain because since it’s been always raining I haven’t often felt like going outside to empty it into the compost bag that the city council carts away every fortnight and turns into, you know, compost.^^   As a result I have twice found a drowned mouse floating among the apple cores.  I do not mourn—if they stay out of the house I’m grudgingly more or less willing to take a ‘it’s their planet too’ attitude, but they’re still evil bulb-eating marauders—but, yo, dufflebrain, why?  You’ve got an entire garden full of fresh tasty plant life and you’re diving for apple cores and slimy vegetable peelings?  Unfortunately the hellterror discovered the second cadaver at the same moment I did NOOOOOOOOOO —providentially I nailed her before anything irretrievable happened but she now carefully examines that frelling bucket every time she goes into the back garden.

^ It can take hours to cut a lot of half-grown shoots out of heavy plastic small-gauge mouse-proof netting.  You don’t have to ask me how I know this, do you?

^^ I’m more than happy to buy it back as realio-trulio plant-stuff-in-it compost for the privilege of not having to take up the space in my handkerchief-garden for my own compost heap or heaps,+ since to do it right you have to have more than one.  But I do get broody about a wormery occasionally.  You can get quite little ones and, you know, it’s critters.

+ I have THREE compost heaps at Third House.  Which must be appropriate.

** With reference to a conversation about nomenclature on the forum I haven’t a clue about what’s correct.  I think of what I grow as primroses—both the double ones I think I’ve posted photos of^ and the little wild-type ones like in Anette’s photos which also lurk in corners of my garden.^^  The fancy ‘laced’ and all the other exotic-looking ones are, to me, primulas.

Cowslips come out a little later—I have a fabulous rust-red one just beginning to unfurl now. I have no idea where it came from, and I don’t think I knew they existed in any colour but the basic species yellow.  It’s in a pot which I clearly planted, so I must have rescued it from somewhere, recognising the leaves as primrose/cowslip and therefore worthy of rescue—is it a volunteer?  I don’t know.  Gibble.  But when I said that cowslips, theoretically endangered in the wild, are weeds in my garden, and someone told me loftily that weeds are only plants in the wrong place—yes, I know that one, thanks—I was referring to the way they grew, not that I didn’t like them.  I think they’re darling.  I’ve been known to hoick out a few of my surplus, put them and a trowel in a plastic bag, and take some hellcritters for a stroll over suitable countryside and whack them in in a bank somewhere—since they’re endangered in the wild.  This is probably illegal or something and since I know it’s desperately illegal to pluck wildflowers or to dig them up I live in fear of someone catching me at my guerrilla gardening and jumping to the wrong conclusion.  But if I didn’t, um, weed them, I’d have a garden with nothing but cowslips in it.

^ If not I will.

 

Ongoing

 

Yes.  Feebledweeb came back this morning.  There was a postcard through my door about my missing my scheduled pick-up.  I’m probably imagining the petulance.  I am not imagining, however, the incredibly long, annoying, would-be mollifying robot email from a critter-supply site I have ordered from for the first time because they sell a Critter Fur Bag that is supposed to protect your (possibly new) washing machine from the extremes of critter hair production.*   Cosy Paws and Fuzzy Tummies Ltd is using one of the shiny new carrier companies . . . which I’ve already had several emails from informing me that my order is creeping inexorably nearer but they’re not going to tell me how fast or anything . . . I have to be AT HOME to SIGN FOR IT and they will only make TWO attempts to deliver before it’s returned to sender, etc.  HOW THE FREAKING ARGLEBLARGING FRELL DO THESE COMPANIES STAY IN BUSINESS?  Apparently I’m supposed to be able to track it tomorrow, when it’s (maybe**) due for Delivery Attempt #1 but I don’t even know what that means.  If I sign on tonight/tomorrow morning at midnight oh one, will it tell me that the driver is at home having a beer in front of the Late Show?***  Will Astarte chirrup at me at 6 a.m.† when the parcel is loaded into the lorry?  Will tracking include a klaxon when the lorry passes the New Arcadia town limits?  Arrrrrgh.  And the Seriously Irritating Robot letter from the critter-supply site says, ooooooh please be nice to us, we’re trying really hard.††  Sure you are.  Change delivery companies.  Change to one that when you say ‘LEAVE THE SODBLASTED PACKET BEHIND THE GATE’ they leave it behind the gate and don’t require me to poke a touchscreen with a plastic stylus in a manner that not only looks nothing like my signature, but doesn’t look like anything remotely resembling anyone’s signature.

The garage started work on Wolfgang today.  I’m supposed to ring late tomorrow afternoon and see how they’re getting on.  The suspense is killing me.  I WANT MY MONKS.  I WANT MY MONKS.  I also have an appointment to talk to Alfrick before service Saturday night.  If I started walking Saturday morning I might get there in time, maybe they’d let me sleep in the porch . . . after all I’d have to bring the hellpack, they can’t keep their legs crossed for thirty six hours, we could keep each other warm. . . .

And I’ve probably decided on my new washing machine.  ::Gasp::  It’s a Miele.  You know what Mieles COST?!  But if you ask six random critter owners what washing machine will best stand up to the depredations of critter fur, they will speak in one voice:  IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT, GET A MIELE.†††

Um.  Ratbags.  Well, the hellhounds don’t eat much . . . and I could maybe buy fewer books and less yarn . . . .

And in other techie news:  My new phone machine appears to be working.‡  I can call out on it.  I can receive calls on it, even if the dargletching ring tone sounds like a drowning pigeon.  I can even pick up messages.  That’s all I can do.  At some point I will have to find out how to erase messages before the sorbligging Message Space fills up.  For some reason a number of people, having read the Are you sure it’s not Friday the 13th? blog post, starting with lecuyerv on the forum and for which thank you, have sent me a link to this:  http://xkcd.com/1343/   Yes.  Exactly.

* * *

* This:  http://www.washingnet.co.uk/en/animal-hair-filter-bag.html

But I didn’t buy it here.  If I’m going to be rude about the seller I’m not going to hang a link on the blog.  But I’ve heard of the site I ordered from, it has a good rep in critter-supply circles, and it had some happy customers reporting on the Fur Bag.

** There is some question about the depot being stolen by deranged djinns.  A little-known prediction of Nostradamus.

*** If there have been any djinn sightings?

† The drawbacks of taking your iPad to bed with you.  Remember to turn it off?  Are you kidding?

†† If we roll over will you rub our tummy?  —No.  I get enough tummy rubbing demands already.^  Humans have alarm clocks to get them up in the morning.  Hellcritters have tummy rubbing.  GUYS.  I’VE ONLY GOT TWO HANDS.  Darkness, who is his generation’s major tummy rubbee, however, does not acknowledge that this creates any sort of common ground with the hellterror.  You call that a tummy? he says.  At which point Chaos, who isn’t totally committed to tummy rubbing but does not want to be left out of anything, ducks under one of my arms, as I kneel blearily on the kitchen floor rubbing tummies while waiting for the frelling kettle to frelling boil, and knocks me over.

^ Also, I don’t like you.

††† Also, who knew that reading about washing machines could be fun?  http://www.whitegoodshelp.co.uk/about-whitegoodshelp-andy-trigg/

Miele is also, siiiiiiiigh, the top of the list by a margin of about seventy-three leagues at WHICH?

http://www.which.co.uk/

Although you have to join.  I’ve joined.  But nothing on earth will make me read an entire article on George Osborne.^ 

^ This comment will become obscure+ as soon as they put some other headline on their opening page.

+ I have a strange reluctance to use the word ‘obsolete’.  I think it’s very unfriendly of Bosch to stop making parts for a mere twenty-plus-year-old washing machine.  I bet Miele is still making parts for twenty-plus-year-old machines.^

^ At these prices, better had.

‡ Mrs Redboots

Um, I’m not quite sure why anybody buys an answering machine in this day and age – can’t you just record your message on 1571, which is what I do? . . . Of course, the huge downside is you have to remember to check the frelling thing, which I never do . . .

Um . . . pathological loathing of BT?^  BT, who, when applied to to turn the landline phone on at Third House declared that there was no cable to the house—the eighty-year-old house in the middle of town with the phone jack in the kitchen—and I would have to pay several hundred pounds to get one installed.  BT, who has insisted for nearly a decade that my problem with the upstairs phone at the cottage is to do with the house wiring and it will cost me several hundred pounds if they send an engineer, even though their own frelling linemen, laughing like drains at the state of the cul-de-sac’s common wiring, says that it is BT.  Yes, it’s true that my series of cheap, simple-minded previous phone machines were BT, but in the first place they were crap and they never pretended to be anything other than crap and in the second place a phone machine is a discrete thing that sits on your desk/table/electric keyboard/floor, it has a beginning and an ending, it has edges, and for that matter you can smudge it with burning sage if you want to drive the BT demons out.  I’m not going to use 1571.  It’s too personal.

Oh, and Peter uses 1571.  And never remembers to pick up his messages.

^ That postmistress didn’t retire.  She went to work for BT.

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