September 5, 2011

There Are Definitely Bats in My Belfry


I am very, very, very, very, very tired.  Very.  Life with hellhounds has been, frequently melodramatically, less than optimum for . . . rather a long time at this point.  This has been the worst, most extended spell of Not Eating, with ever-creative variations on this theme, since I got them off cereal grains three years ago.  I passed my wits’ end about a fortnight ago. . . . *

            This has been part of why it’s taken me so long to come up with a bats in the belfry doodle;  it’s difficult functioning Beyond Wits’ End.  HOWEVER. 


Ding dong. Squeak.

Because I am a twit, I managed to take all my drawing pens back to the cottage, so tonight at the mews, when I wanted to ink in some final lines I frelling couldn’t.  Little doodles I start out in ink and it doesn’t matter, but something this big [sic.  Hey, we’re talking doodles here] where scale and so on do kind of matter** I start in pencil.  Your average ballpoint gets very sulky when asked to go over pencil lines.  And yes, it’s done freehand.  Cough cough.  You noticed.  I realise there are drawbacks to this approach but ruled lines look so awfully . . . ruled. 

            Sigh.  It’s about time to start trying to force some food into hellhounds again.  Sigh.  

* * *

* Yesterday, when I was mostly crawling around on my hands and knees, I was saying to myself, I am going to my voice lesson tomorrow, I AM GOING TO MY VOICE LESSON TOMORROW.  If it had been yesterday, I probably wouldn’t have made it.^  But today has been better, if a trifle marginal.  And while I was going to my voice lesson, it was going to be a disaster:  I was trying to warm up after my lunch^^ while hellhounds were busy scorning theirs and my voice kept frelling cracking.  Whose idea was this singing thing anyway?  Stick to the piano which doesn’t get all traumatised and paralytic.  Too late now.  I like singing, and you can do it in groups, and my group starts up again this Thursday.  Blerg.  So, here I am, with a voice crackling like an old radio and the Italian on the page has reverted to Etruscan and . . . I am GOING to my voice lesson.

            And, as these things can startle the mmgrmph out of you^^^, it went rather well.  Even my Italian has progressed from making Nadia wince to making her grin just a little sardonically.~   I’ve asked her to help me start teaching my chest voice to behave—with the caveat that she not tell Ravenel that I’m actually a contralto.  We’ve been mostly working on the top end because that’s what I’ve wanted to do and because most of the fun stuff is written for sopranos, but I’ve got an entire octave below middle C that is barely getting a look in, and as my top register improves~~ the whole soprano/football hooligan split is becoming embarrassing.

            And—yaaay—I came home with a new song to try out:  another old soprano war horse:  Handel’s Silent Worship, which isn’t what you think, it’s the ‘Did you not hear my lady/Go down the garden singing?’ one.  Except that I should probably be learning the Italian. . . . ~~~ 

^ All that frelling driving.  Plus being expected to stand up to sing.  Feh.  A Zimmer frame is too low:  Nadia insists on my standing up straight to give my lungs room.  No crouching.  Do they make extra-tall Zimmer frames?  I doubt Nadia’s mum would appreciate a suggestion she have a flagpole installed in her music/dining room for the feeble to cling to on bad days.  

^^ I know.  Not ideal.  But all I eat is salad+ so it’s not like it’s lying heavily or anything. 

+ Menopause metabolism.  Sigh.  I need to stockpile available calories for the Green & Black’s. 

^^^ But don’t count on it.  Or fate will drop you in the egg custard. 

~ Thank you Cecilia Bartoli and Unknown Excessively Talented Young Woman singing Sebben Crudele on YouTube.  

~~   It’s all relative you know 

~~~ Although the business of provenance is messy:

Also, that’s one of the worst song titles ever.  Right up there with If You Can’t Live without Me, Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?^ 

^ No, wait, that’s a great song title. 

** I was about to ask if anyone else out there is old enough to remember Jon Gnagy’s Learn to Draw and bless my watercolour pencils but the kits are still available


Prospective things


Okay, WHEW.  Blogmom, along with scraping me off the ceiling several times today after last night’s small epic of photographic disaster*, keeps reminding me that I still need to produce a bats in the belfry doodle so she can finish the auction-and-oddments list and hang the freller.  Yes.  Well.  This has been one of the pebbles in my All Stars the last few weeks—the kind of pebble that you can’t frelling FIND when you take your shoe off**.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  Bats in a belfry?  All you need is a bell or two and some bats.  The real problem has been my literal mind.  Since this is, after all, an auction/sale to raise money for our Change-Ringing-Bells Restoration Fund I have felt compelled to make some indication that the bat-infested belfry in question is a change ringing belfry.  Also, bells are frelling huge.  And bats are . . . frelling tiny.  I’ve been through more unsatisfactory compromises about all this than all the other doodles combined.  I was getting ready to take a deep breath and pull it:  no bats in the belfry doodle, it’s beyond me.  But I’ve finally done it.  It still needs tidying up and I pretty well guarantee it’s not what you had in mind . . . but it’s a belfry with bats in it.  And given the amount of time I’ve spent figuring it out—including, don’t forget, that it’s something I can reproduce, supposing anyone (after all this) wants it—it may well be tomorrow’s post in its entirety.***  People who aren’t bell ringers are going to say, Huh?  And people who are bell ringers are going to say . . . Huh?

            Hey, it’s a free country.  You can buy some other doodle.

            Meanwhile, I have got to get this photo thing sorted with WordPress.†  There is not only tomorrow’s reveal of a deeply underwhelming bats in the belfry doodle in your immediate future but Aaron a little while back demanded proof that I write in my books†† and so I was thoughtfully looking at a few of the more emphatically vandalised††† and wondering if I could get a blog post out of them . . . hmmmm . . . probably. . . .

            But in the meantime it’s been a long day and I’m feeling too chicken to tackle more photos tonight.  So I will leave you with a small harmless chick doodle.‡


Cheep cheep cheep


* * *

* Thanks to Blue Rose and a couple of emailers on the subject of making my over-my-head camera work better.  I knew I was signing up for the Grand National when I could barely post to the trot^ by buying this hot-blooded steeplechaser disguised as a mild-mannered hybrid^^ point-and-shoot camera but I admit I was not expecting something that just looking at the instructional CD would make me lose the will to live, let alone trying to read some of what’s on it.  I know the thing can do everything I could ever possibly want a camera to do and probably quite a lot more.^^^ It’s figuring out how to ask.  But you’ve made some nice stupid-user-friendly specific suggestions and I will absolutely give them a try.^^^^    

^ But hey, they’ve made the National easier 

^^ That’s my problem.  Too much of that frelling hybrid vigour. 

^^^ I don’t suppose it can do my taxes? 

^^^^Supposing I can figure out the cryptic runes.  

** Probably standing in the middle of a field with dancing hellhounds.  This happened to me recently and shortly before making the decision I was going to have to hop home finally discovered most of an inch of thorn that had driven up through the bottom of the shoe but only revealed itself on the inside when my weight was compressing the insole.  Cheez.  The countryside is dangerous.  

*** Both the post and the doodle in their entireties.  

† I’ve repeatedly suggested motherboards at dawn and WordPress doesn’t even bother to answer.  A programme with no honour.  No wonder civilisation is in decline. 

†† A blog reader with no honour.  No wonder civilisation, etc. 

††† The ones most likely to feel the tip of my pencil—or, when necessary, red pen^—tend to fall in three broad categories:  homeopathy, poetry^^, and All the Rest of Non Fiction.  This last is a little overwhelming, but I want to try and find you something where I get into a really passionate argument with the writer. 

^ Yes!  Pen!  RED pen!  Sometimes nothing less will do!  —Although I am entirely with those of you who feel there is a special circle in hell+ for people who write in library books.  

+ The Dante’s INFERNO we get in college is insanely abridged.  There are dozens—hundreds—of circles not in the standard university textbook.   Given the behaviour of many undergraduates you’d think they might want to leave a few more in.  Writing in library books and (say) leaving the dorm kitchen oven incapacitated with pizza-epoxy is only the beginning. 

^^ I had a not very interesting adolescent go at the Grecian Urn,+ for example.  The problem with Keats is that I fell in love with him way too young and the rarefied philosophy he inspired in me was pretty much on an intellectual par with the notorious gnomic revelations you write down when you’re stoned++ and the next morning they say things like ‘oxblood shoe polish’ and ‘fistiblet your glitches’—only more embarrassing.+++   

+ I apologise, sort of, for the other night’s site.  Personally I feel that blue type on black backgrounds should be a criminal offense, punished by being made to wear varifocals while riding up and down an escalator with those barred treads—like in the London tube—which make them look striped.  The stripes are very important to the visual experience.  The malfeasant is to ride the escalator till he/she staggers off one end or the other and falls down.  This is life with varifocals—although in my case I do very well with them pretty much with the only exception of striped escalators—but it’s also how blue type on a black background has always made me feel, even when I was younger and still had excellent vision with my contact lenses.

            I did, however, like the small frenzied prisoner in the upper right-hand corner, and the site is blessedly free of ads for ‘Earn gigantic truckloads of money at home in your spare time only by PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS’ and those really awful¸ speaking of being kind to your eyes, flashing banners that say YOU HAVE WON SOMETHING!  YES YOU HAVE!  CROSS OUR HEARTS AND HOPE TO DIE!  JUST CLICK HERE!  Noooooo I don’t think so.  But I’ve left sites early because I can feel myself about to manifest my latent epilepsy and go off in fits.~  I suppose the internet police have better things to do with their time but . . . 

~ They thought I had epilepsy when I was a kid.  I grew out of it, whatever it was.  But that sense that something is about to leap out of the shadows of your own body/mind and get you lingers in the memory, and flashing lights make me nervous as well as irritated. 

++ Not that I have any direct experience of this.  Of course not.  Old people were always old, you knew that, right? 

+++ Most of us were young once.  No, really. 

‡ Crossing my fingers now. 


Cacti and doodles


This time next week I will be sitting at the kitchen table here at the mews writing a blog post and . . . paralysed with fear by the music for the Muddlehamptons’ Christmas concert.*

            Yes, choir practise starts up again next Thursday, and right at the moment I’m chiefly remembering that Ravenel scares me.  I’m also remembering that I was sufficiently a damn fool to agree to sing for the bishop at Constantinople** in . . . gleep . . . three weeks.  And didn’t I start this doodling*** scam since the Muddlehamptons broke for the summer?  So I’m doing my adding more stuff thing again??†


            Meanwhile, Thursday afternoon handbells having soaked up a couple of perfectly good gardening hours, I have a courtyard at the cottage still full of plants and the hellhounds, while very restrained and tactful most of the time††, do need a place to pee before bed, as do most of us.†††  I cut back another rampant geranium today.  And therefore have about eight more incipient geraniums sitting in a pitcher of water.  Anyone want a geranium?           

Ajlr wrote: 

I still think most of the standard cottage-garden herbaceous cranesbills are a dead bore. 

It’s a big world, there’s room for both our views.
*goes off to admire own collection of cranesbills*

I can’t get rid of mine.  My predecessor, who had Excellent Taste‡, had quite a few of them.  They’re frelling impossible to eradicate.  You hoick up several green-gardening-bags-full and next year . . . there they are again, creeping round the corners and trying to look placatory.  But I make a really poor ruthless tyrant because I start admiring them for their tenacity.  So, I have a few cranesbills.  Feh.  I’ve even got a new little fleck of alchemilla mollis at the cottage—gods know where it came from:  some daring raid over the wall some night when I had a pillow over my head—which I got all soppy over and allowed to live.  I had sworn undying vengeance on alchemilla mollis at the old house.

I like the willingness to flower/grow of pelargoniums but it’s the very distinctive smell of their leaves that puts me off. If someone came up with a smell-free variety I’d be very happy to give them houseroom. Until then, I shall have to stick with my couple of scented-leaves varieties.

I’d say it varies kind of a lot.  The standard bedding geraniums are the ones with the real geranium reek.  The fancy schmancy ones, not so much.  Appleblossom does have the smell, but it’s pretty restrained.  Depends on how much you loathe it, I suppose.  Many, many, many, many years ago I used to house-sit at a house with a conservatory that was nothing but racks of geraniums and I could barely stand to stay in there long enough to water them all.  PONG.  Maybe the experience inoculated me. 

Mrs Redboots wrote:  I love cacti, and I especially love Christmas cactuses, and I really, really want a new one this year.

I realized, reading yesterday’s post this morning, that any not-a-plant-person will have been confused by my use of the word ‘cactus’.  I didn’t think Christmas cacti actually were cacti—I thought they were succulents—but apparently they are:  The, er, point is that the spiny prickly barbed ones are flesh-eating monsters.‡‡  Succulents, and cacti like Christmas cacti, are soft little things, they just have a funny approach to leaves and stems.  And flowers.   I think my original pink Christmas cactus is one I took over back at the old house, which had been hanging on by a neglected thread for some time—which would make it over twenty years old.  You can keep them under some control by sheer abuse, but eventually your conscience will get the better of you and you will pot them on . . . and then they grow to the size of small rooms and all the cuttings root too.  Quite like geraniums.  ‡‡‡  

Mrs Redboots also wrote:  Amazon—and its minions, including, lately, audible—has no trouble keeping me permanently logged in.

I wish this forum did! Does anybody else find they need to log in afresh at least once a week, or have I done something peculiar? 

A lot of people have answered this already.  I will just add . . . me too.  Being admin is no help at all.   This is why I ALWAYS write posts in Word before cautiously copying and pasting in WordPress.                                

 * * * 

* Unfortunately they just did Handel’s Messiah.  I want to sing the Messiah.  I know it’s a low taste.  I DON’T CARE.  There are some old war horses that, for some people, just go on being transcendent however often you play/hear them.  Messiah—and La Traviata, and several of Beethoven’s symphonies—are that for me.^

            And speaking of Beethoven’s symphonies, I want to sing in the Ninth too. 

^ Ravel’s Bolero, however, should have been drowned at birth.  I probably wouldn’t have gone to see ‘10’ in the first place—the plot irritates me profoundly—but anything featuring Bolero is a Must to Avoid.

            How pleasing not to have to dither about it.  Not to have gone around wringing my hands and murmuring, Oh, gods!  It’s the greatest film ever made!  Only it has Bolero in it!  What shall I doooo? 

** Constantinople Hampshire you understand.  I assume the Orient Express has wifi but I doubt it takes hellhounds. 

*** Pam Adams wrote:  But it would be nice to differentiate a Fast doodle from a Tsornin doodle, wouldn’t it?

Clearly, Fast is the one without a hellcat (Narknon) lolling at his feet. 

Well . . . probably not.  People who don’t themselves sketch or doodle^ mostly don’t realise how surprisingly complicated a few scrawly lines on a page is.  The reason the bats in the belfry doodle is going to have its own higher-price category is because it’s complicated.  The $10 doodle is basically One Thing.  The $15 doodle is either a repeat of the One Thing or a sort of . . . one and a half things.  A horse and a folstza is inescapably two things.  Bats plus bells in a belfry is at least two things.

            If I could get my ass in gear to tidy up a bats in the belfry doodle^^ enough for Blogmom to post it we could finally get this show on the road.  But . . . I’m hoping to leave the doodle option up for a while longer after the straight auction and the, er, not quite so straight book sale, finish.  If it turns out that doodles continue being popular with a small mad^^^ segment of the blog-reading population, after the bell fund is wound up, we’ll just choose a permanent charity^^^^ for doodle profits and keep on. 

            At which point, although I’ll have to check with Blogmom about all of this, I assume we could widen the intake a bit.  I don’t imagine the small blessed-with-sardonic-humour faction will keep me all that busy, you know?  So you could ask for a horse and a hunting cat (Two Things) for $20.  And the sad truth is I like being asked to draw stuff.  This self-motivation thing is a ratbag, it’s not one of my long suits, and it gets used pretty frelling hard elsewhere.

            Also, every new doodle is blog material.  And you know how I feel about blog material.^^^^^ 

^ Apologies if I’m doing anyone in injustice here.  Please remember, as you read on, I’m a very low grade doodler, and be merciful. 

^^ It has not been a good few weeks for much of anything but keeping my head down.  Sorry about that. 

^^^ No, wait, I don’t mean mad, exactly.  Um.  Er.  Yes.  Possessing a rich and sardonic sense of humour is what I mean. 

^^^^ Something to do with either critters or books, I think.  They haven’t started teaching Seeing Eye dogs to read aloud, have they? 

^^^^^ So don’t ask for anything embarrassing. 

Not to mention Treasures of Montezuma.  

ajlr wrote:  I don’t think that Montezuma 2 and 3 are available for the iPad yet. Probably just as well.

I looked it up and you’re right.  I have just sufficient self-control not to poke around any farther and see if there’s a prospective release date yet.  Stop looking at me like that.  2 is available on the iPhone, and it’s clearly going to be better on the iPad.  Ergo.  And speaking of better on the iPad, I’ve just downloaded Osmos for iPad.  I have it on Pooka, and it will clearly be better on the bigger screen. . . . Clearly.

            Anybody know anything about Master of Alchemy?  Spirit?  Fruit Ninja? 

            . . . I’ll get over this craze in a minute, really I will.  I got over Angry Birds.  I did eventually have to install an adult-proof lock on Fingerzilla till the addiction waned, but it did wane.  It only took [gnzzzngt mumble] supplementary Green & Black’s. 

†† Usually.  I tweeted earlier about Darkness throwing up on the carpet.  Usually I get him onto the kitchen lino in time.  ARRRRGH. 

††† They’re BOYS.  It never ceases to amaze me how bad male aim is with those things^.   I am not going to attempt to teach hellhounds to use the toilet. 

^ Ever since I was introduced to Freud at an unnecessarily young age I have said that it is not penis envy it is directional pee envy. 


‡‡ shalea wrote: 

I gave up cacti, because they bite. First thing this one did was bite me. Second thing it did was bite the clerk. Sigh.

Sounds like my cactus. I don’t do cacti anymore, but this one is, at lowest possible calculation, 30 years old and I grew it from a seed (so I have a responsibility to it, of course). 

Yes.  Things do have a way of weaselling themselves into one’s life, if not precisely affections. 

 I am more than a little afraid of it because not only does it bite, the spines have seem to have nasty, tiny little barbed tips that embed themselves and then break off.

Some of them are mildly poisonous as well, or maybe I’m just allergic.  Cacti.  Charming.  The problem is that I do find them charming, I just got tired of the pain.  I had an entire little forest of the things in a sink at the old house which I eventually managed to kill off by not getting them indoors fast enough one winter.  Whew.  The one I have left from that era is now this deranged clump of tiny but dangerous bristly nodules all rising off one flimsy stem . . . which I have to keep propped up on the pot edge.  It appears to be thriving in its peculiar way:  it even flowers occasionally just to unnerve me. 

I have neither excuse nor explanation for buying the New Vicious Beast yesterday.  Except that secretly I like cacti.  I just wish I had iron skin.  I swear the NVB hisses when I walk by.

I had come to a conclusion about a year ago that it probably needed repotting and spent a lot of time contemplating how I might do that with a minimum of blood and pain, but was much relieved when a reliable plant nursery employee told me that I probably shouldn’t try unless I really wanted to (cacti not only have very minimal root systems so it’s not root-bound, and apparently expect very, very poor soil). 

YAAAAY.  Thank you.  Meanwhile, however, I did finally buy some orchid compost yesterday.  I have two orchids that keep refusing to die.  

‡‡‡ Anybody want a Christmas cactus?

Aspects of the Magnificence of Hellhounds


Hellhounds are such ridiculous creatures.  But cute.  Fortunately.  When we were out on our morning hurtle today we met Penelope walking home with her Saturday shopping.*   We began to discuss bell ringing personalities** and what it is to be a bell ringer and have a life.  Penelope is better about the having-a-life than I am:  she’s not an obsessive.  She has perspective.***  She even made the shocking remark that while she likes ringing some of what she does is only to Support Niall.†  She does not lie awake nights wondering why she can’t ring Stedman Triples yet.†† 

            Anyway.  There was so much to say about ringing and personalities that hellhounds and I accompanied her the rest of the way, and she invited us in for a cup of tea.  Well, the hellhounds got water.  I got tea.†††  Niall was home so we all sat round drinking tea.  I sat on the floor, the better to suppress hellhounds, who are not accustomed to the excitement of visiting other people’s houses, but they’re reasonably willing to collapse in heaps as long as I’m there too.  And in fact I often do sit on the floor:  as long as there’s a carpet between me and the cruel reality of floorboards or tile I may very well prefer sitting on the floor.  It gives you a better excuse to fidget, and I’m a fidget.‡ 

            But after we’d discussed ringing, books, film‡‡, opera, food, gardening, the state of the global economy and chickens‡‡‡, I needed a pee before hellhounds and I started home.  This meant hellhounds had to stay where they were for the sixty seconds or so it would take me to bolt to the loo and back again.

            They stayed.  Although they were in their best Ancient Hellhound God Lying Down Posture when I reappeared, where nothing on this mere mortal earth can maintain the curve of their bellies, their long straight necks have disappeared into the sky, and their bright beaming eyes are in danger of making holes in the walls.  They are so cute.§  Of course when I said what good dogs, they broke and threw themselves at me.  But that’s okay.  They’re my hellhounds. 

* * *

* Er, wow.  I’m willing to lug a certain amount in a backpack, but even aside from the fact that if I’m on foot I probably have leads in both hands I hate carrying shopping bags farther than to a nice, nearby car park. 

** MMMPHRRRGGGLMMMMPH.   The stories I could tell. . . .  But I won’t.^ 

^ No.  I’m going to tell one story because it presses my buttons.  One of our teenage learners pretty much only shows up when he doesn’t have a better offer.  This is disappointing but fairly standard, and kids are worth putting the time in on because if they come back to it later, when their kids are half grown and they start having the occasional free evening, they pick it up so much faster+—also, simply having ringing registered in their minds as something that is out there to do, so they might come back to it, is worth some effort. 

            Last night our, um, Bad Frederick appeared for the first time in months.  He rang some perfectly respectable call changes and we were all telling him how glad we were to see him and how if he’d just keep coming we’d get him started again on plain hunt . . . and then he pulled out some papers he wanted Niall to fill out and sign for him.  I didn’t register if it was school or scouting or the Duke of Edinburgh or what, but the point was that he’d shown up merely to get his certification from the ringing master that he does, in fact, ring bells.  We all blinked a bit at the blatancy of it and Vicky said encouragingly, you should come on Sunday mornings, you’ll get more time on a rope because we always need ringers on Sunday mornings and it’s time on a rope you need to consolidate what you can do.  (Bad Frederick is a walking-distance local, like Niall and Penelope and Vicky and me—and Monty, who is Bad Frederick’s age, but still manages to show up most Friday nights and Sunday mornings.).

            Oh, I’m never awake that early, said Bad Frederick, and disappeared down the ladder.

            Vicky knows Bad Frederick’s dad.  In this particular case I jolly well hope the brat catches some heat. 

+ Insert the grinding of teeth here of a 59-year-old woman whose early experience of ringing when she started again six years ago was from when she was 48.  

*** You’ll notice that even my doodles are low on perspective. 

† Penelope is also Niall’s not-so-secret weapon when he’s so desperate to scrape together another handbell evening at his house that he tries to put the persuaders on me.  Penelope is making a cake, he says.  I’ll be there, I reply.  

†† Because we haven’t got the band.  Next question. 

††† And the winner of the free doodle is . . . blondviolinist, who clearly knows me better than I realised, for ‘where there is tea there is hope’.  The funny thing is that Annagail’s guess, which is the very next one on the forum thread, was the followup:  ‘Ever try. Ever fail. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’  Annagail said:  I’ve never been able to decide if that quote is depressing or inspiring. Or both. But it’s a good one for days when it just Ain’t Workin.  Yes.  Agree.  Which is probably why ‘where there is tea’ won.^  But as words I do live by, ‘fail better’ are probably nearer the mark, I’m just not sure I want my iPad reminding me every time I pick it up to play Montezuma or Fingerzilla.  Which is also why ‘I love deadlines, I love the whooshing sound . . .’ didn’t get chosen:  I really don’t need that one reinforced every time I pick it^^  up to play Montezuma or Fingerzilla.

            It’s funny about ‘fit’ because all your guesses were good ones.^^^   But I have an anxious enough relationship with my ability to write my stories down, I don’t want to bring going after things with clubs into it, although he’s right.  And ‘people say life is the thing, but I prefer reading’ has been true all my, er, life, and is the personal entropy I have to resist.^^^^  Of course I wouldn’t put any quotes up that I don’t like, but you lot seem to have figured out which ones are close to my bone.  Hmmmm.  I wonder if I should worry . . .

            Now then, blondviolinist, if you would be so kind as to tell me what doodle you would prefer?  A knitting violin?^^^^^

^ Also, Raphael voted for ‘tea’.  I was holding up ORDERING MY iPAD by my indecisiveness. 

^^ She’ll need a name.  But I’ll wait till she arrives. 

^^^ I’m a little surprised no one suggested ‘On the internet no one knows you’re a dog.’ 

^^^^ There are weeks when entropy wins.  Herein lies the magnificence of hellhounds.  Peter understands the need to disappear out of reality.  Hellhounds don’t.  Hellhounds think that a few hours on the sofa are excellent and should happen more often.  But they then want to get up and do something.  Hurtle.  Interact.+  Stare at the food in their bowls.  Enough with the reading, say hellhounds. 

+ An interaction:  Seen coming toward us a black-and-white streak of border collie, head low and ready for business.  I hate low-headed streaking border collies:  they bite.  They don’t bite hard, but they can nip hell out of your ankles and cause distress and consternation among hellhounds.  FRELL, I said, and left the path, hoping she would decide that honour is satisfied and streak past.  Forlorn hope:  border collies are all about herding.  Sheep substitutes that leave the path are all part of the day’s work.  She shot up to us . . . and flung herself at the hellhounds’ feet, tail wagging furiously.  Oh, her owner did eventually show up.  Gah.  

^^^^^ Caveat.  If you want something outré, you have to let me post it first.  Always Looking for Blog Material. 

‡ This may be one of the reasons I like handbells.  Organised fidgeting.   I can sit in a chair if my hands get to twitch and wriggle.  Handbell tea breaks at Niall’s house . . . I sit on the floor.  Very nice carpet they have. 

‡‡ Including Penelope’s new film society, which starts up this autumn.  Stay tuned.  She’s another one who has a little trouble with the ‘copious free time’ concept.  

‡‡‡ Penelope has chickens.  And one of them is sitting on eggs that are due to hatch in about a fortnight.  Little cute fluffy yellow cheeping things with wings!^  Yaaaay! 

^ Except for the yellow part, you might mistake them for bats. 

§ Speaking of little, way too cute, and bats, abigailmm posted this:   Is it possible to be any cuter?  Awwwwwww.


Aaaugh, chirp, clank, etc


Sooooooo . . . last night we went back to the cottage with me humming a little tune* and thinking no harm, like the lady going downstairs with Long Lankin standing behind the door.**  And then Chaos wouldn’t eat his final meal.***  Would.  Not.  He’s missed so many meals this last hot week that he’s visibly lost weight, and yeah, I’m hyper, but I have reason to be hyper, you know?  And this wasn’t anything about the weather, which has eased, and was equally visibly all about that cheese strudel† he calls a brain.  Which is when his not-eating gets dangerous.  AAAAAAUGH.  Adrenaline spike. 

            He did eat.  Finally.  It took about an hour.  By which time—since we started kind of late—there was quite a lot of light coming through the curtains†† and the blasted birdies were out there chirping away.  OH SHUT UP.  And I was so turbo-charged I couldn’t sleep.  Of course.  So I lay in bed staring at the canopy††† and thinking cranky thoughts . . . and then I sat up in bed, reached for Pooka, and downloaded The Treasures of Montezuma‡ from the frelling ap store and started blowing things up.‡‡  This is all Alicia’s fault.‡‡‡  She has an iPad, and I requested a tour.  It’s lovely.  I want one.  I knew that.  I have to say they do kind of weigh, and my knapsack is already violating the Geneva Convention on how much a 59-year-old hellgoddess with bad knees can be expected to carry around on a daily basis . . . but I want one anyway.  She has Treasures of Montezuma.§  It looks better on the big screen.  And . . . this just in.  Raphael rang me this afternoon, and: 



With a pink fold-back cover.  And a motto to live by,§§ which is one of the sillier extras available on the 2s.  And I will finally have an ereader.  And we’ll see if I use it, and what for.  I think I probably will use Montezuma.§§§

            And then, at tower practise tonight# 


            Unfortunately I can see the light in Niall’s eye from here.  He’s going to expect me to do it on handbells.  

* * *

* Not in Italian.  Sigh.  I’m pretty good on Sebben Ratbag so long as I don’t have to sing the words.  Can’t I go back to Vaughan Williams—?  No, no, I want Italian.   I can stop here^ but I want Italian.   

^ I can certainly stop here 


. . . There was blood all in the kitchen
There was blood all in the hall
There was blood all in the parlour. . . . tra la la la la

***  I’ve told you this, right?  Sighthound digestion is peculiar anyway because of that aerodynamic body which doesn’t leave a lot of room for guts, and of course my guys are on the extreme end of digestive mayhem anyway.  I feed them three times a day because small and often is better than one or two big meals—and also because I feel, somewhat hysterically, that it gives me a better chance to help them maintain a habit of eating.  Breakfast is not worth the struggle—I still wish to have some life of my own—so they get lunch, dinner and supper, or lunch, supper and a final snack, the last some time in the wee hours. 

† You know that ‘strudel’ comes from the German word for ‘whirlpool’?  The Dog with the Wet Spinning Brain. 

†† Very early morning light is weird.  I love that long golden afternoon light, but dawn has an end-of-the-world-as-you-know-it, this-is-not-the-world-it-was-at-sunset-yesterday quality to it.  Maybe that’s just the effect of coming at it from the wrong end.  Many, many years ago when I lived on the horse farm I used to like summer dawn.  

††† And not listening to the miniature pegasi^ colony that lives in my walls.  I think—I think—they may have broken up early this year, and gone their various ways.^^  But I need mosquito netting by next May. 

^ One of the tangential things I love so much about that NPR story I posted last night is the oddness of the ‘group’ of moles, cows and horses.  And bats.  I keep saying pegasi are not flying horses.  But they may be cousins to bats.  Like we’re cousins to chimpanzees.+ 

+ Apparently bats and primates have a common ancestor near enough to, you know, count.  After the we-all-crawled-out-of-the-primeval-ooze stage where we’re all related to everything. 

^^ Which may explain why I’m seeing my first blackfly of the year.  Which seems to me rather ungrateful.  They could have left a squad to keep my garden patrolled. 

‡‡ What? you say.  Has Fingerzilla been supplanted?  Well, aside from the endless stream of updates that refuse to download, my city-razing finger is out of action and it’s just not the same with a different finger. 

Mrs Redboots wrote: 

I don’t think I knew you’d damaged your finger, did I? Poor you, fingers hurt worse than most things. Hope it heals fast. 

            This is from last Sunday when I Fell Down and lacerated the landscape with language, of which Ajlr wrote: 

“I was in no mood to appreciate it at the time, but when we got to the top of the hill there was a woman with three small children attempting to hide in the shrubbery. I think she heard me. . . .”

O.O Seeing/hearing a hellgoddess manifesting only 100 metres or so away would alarm most of us.

I keep forgetting that when my true avatar emerges the forked pink lightning tends to frighten the natives.  But the really annoying thing is that having had precious little to show for my adventures^, today my ex-eggplant knee turned bright daffodil yellow.   I knew there was something still going on because I still can’t kneel^^ but really the arnica may have done too good a job:  the eggplant stage lasted less than a day.  How am I supposed to wring pity from bystanders like this? 

            Meanwhile, I have no idea what the Treasures of Montezuma is supposed to, you know, be about.  There’s a female archaeologist and a mystery.  I don’t care.  I just want to line up the artefacts and watch them explode.  Mmmmmm.

^ Fiona was ill-considered enough to remark that she was expecting something more spectacular.  I forgave her because of the New Project Bag.  

^^ . . . without screaming 

‡‡‡ MomPaula wrote:

I think Alicia should give us a guest blog on disastrous handbells evenings! I think I would have loved to be a bat peering through a crack that night!

 Alicia replied:


YESSSSSSSSSSS.  I will put up with (almost) any indignity for a guest post!^ 

^ I am forwarding a list under separate cover of all the things you are not allowed to mention.  You didn’t get down on your hands and knees and look under the furniture, did you?  Or measure the depth of the heaps on/around my desk?  And you’re really not going to sue me for acts of violence perpetrated by certain rosebushes? 

§ She also has Cut the Rope but I have enough guilt.  I can’t deal with it when I miss, and the monster doesn’t get his candy and goes all sad.^  Besides, I’m sure it’s really bad for his teeth.^^ 

^ And I usually miss.  I’m a really hopeless gamesplayer.  

^^ Yes.  I think it’s a boy.  

§§ Hee hee hee hee.  It’s one of the quotes that circulate through the blog’s quote box.  Free doodle to the first person who guesses which one.  Hee hee hee hee hee.  

§§§ And Fingerzilla on the big screen??!  Be still my heart. 

# Which generally speaking was not one of the great ones in recent memory.  It’s still way too hot to be wedged into a small ringing chamber with too many other people—and we were heaving tonight—and I haven’t had any sleep to speak of in most of a week and it shows. 

## For the sake of full veracity let me add that it was not a beautiful full course.  I can follow the blasted line and count my places accurately, but that doesn’t mean I can ring my accurately counted places accurately.  If you follow me.  Clank.

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