November 19, 2014

Shadows is here!

Pub day

 

Those ebooks you’ve been waiting for?  Today’s the day. . . . * 

Robin McKinley Ebooks

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY.**  ::Confetti::  Fireworks?  Sure.  Why not.  Also fireworks.  And champagne.  Definitely champagne.

And if you forget, splendid Blogmom has put a permanent link in the right sidebar. ***

* * *

* Not that I want to lower the level from high exquisite thought-provoking literature that provides deep and astonishing insights into the paradoxical mind and authentic heart of humanity^ or anything like that but WE FINALLY HAVE A DISHWASHER AGAIN.  That is, the kind with a door in the front and a mains plug in the rear and lots of SHELVES in between and you PUT YOUR DIRTY DISHES in it and CLOSE THE DOOR and TURN IT ON . . . and go back to your book or your knitting or your piano^^ with a happy sigh.  I AM SO TIRED OF WASHING DISHES BY HAND.  Especially the part about redoing all the ones that Peter thinks he’s already washed.  Arrrrrrrgh.

^ Plus dragons, vampires, sighthounds, rosebushes etc.

^^ Also FINALLY I had a voice lesson today+ THAT WAS NOT A DISASTER.  This is the first non-disaster since the house move, I think, and the gruesomely long summer break during which I FORGOT EVERYTHING I HAD ONCE KNOWN and found myself incapable of relearning any of it in a strange new sitting room++ which was way too SMALL so I was making TOO MUCH NOISE. +++

+ Yes.  It’s usually on Monday only Nadia’s car broke.

++ Except it wasn’t strange!  It wasn’t new!  It is lovely friendly Third House and I am a MORON!#

# This is not news, of course.  Especially when applied to singing, knitting, bell ringing, etc.

^^^ I’m still making too much noise but I’m getting used to making too much noise.#

# Eeep.

**  Also YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY. ^

^ I’m not sure how you go about wrapping ebooks and putting them under the Christmas tree, but please try.

*** YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY BLOGMOM.

Happy Birthday* to Meeeeeeeeee** rererererererererererere[50 more times]visited . . .

 

Peter has asked me, several times and a little anxiously, over the last few days, if I was up for going out on my birthday.  YES.  I MEAN, I DON’T KNOW IF I’M UP OR NOT BUT I’M GOING.***  NEVER MIND THE FOOD, I WANT MY CHAMPAGNE.

The food was good too.†

And the flowers were excellent.

And the flowers were excellent.

That’s our tablecloth because I thought I wouldn’t shoot off my flash in the face of the lively and interesting family party at the next table and waited till I got home where the crashed-out hellmob don’t care.  But  I recognise our table on my birthday because of the flowers waiting for us.  Peter goes in to the florist’s next door and says ‘pink’.  Since we go to this restaurant every year the florist is probably learning to recognise him.

There is an art to taking selfies and it is not one of my arts.

There is an art to taking selfies and it is not one of my arts.

 

Although, speaking of going to the same restaurant, regular blog readers will probably recognise the mirror frame in the ladies’.  [Oops.  I’ve edited it out.  Next year.]  But they have installed an OBNOXIOUS NEW LIGHTING FIXTURE that is unromantic in the extreme and that my peculiar posture is trying to disguise.

 

Mainly what this looks like is a bad case of over-Vaselined lens.

Mainly what this looks like is a bad case of over-Vaselined lens.

 

She’s sixty-two today, you know.  She might want a lot of Vaseline on the lens.

Is this absolutely too frelling adorable or what?

Is this absolutely too frelling adorable or what?

And my favourite present.  Remember I went to a Spectacular Yarn Fair last March with Nina, who felt she wanted to start knitting again?  SHE MADE ME A RUFFLY SCARF.   She is golden.

. . . Although Peter is giving me a sat nav finally if I can frelling figure out which one to order.  I thought I had it all sorted—this is what I belong to WHICH? for, you go to their site, you are driven mad by the pop ups and the repeated demands to log in which you have already done, you read the reviews and you make an informed choice—and then I promptly fell, as into a large vat of ill-set custard, into a lot of customer reviews saying NO NO NOT THAT ONE.  Whimper.  Maybe I could just have Natty Bumppo on retainer.

Oh, and if you suspect you are seeing a knitting bag in the upper left hand corner of the photo, you are.  It says:  come to the Dark Side, we have yarn.  I think Fiona may have given it to me.  It contains the famous 12 mm needle project that I am advised I need a very large crochet hook or possibly a telephone pole with a hole punched in one end to weave in the ends with.

And, speaking of knitting

And, speaking of knitting

 

Notice knitting needles sticking out of fancy leather going-out-to-dinner bag.††  Ahem.  I’m so used to carrying vast swathes of my life around in my ordinary daily knapsack–which as a result weighs a TON AND THREE QUARTERS and people not eternally preoccupied with the terror of being caught somewhere without enough to read/do tend to make remarks–that when I have to wedge myself for a few hours into a Fancy Going Out to Dinner Bag there are AWFUL DECISIONS TO BE MADE.  In fact I don’t usually take my knitting to restaurants because (a) the light isn’t good enough and (b) I’LL PROBABY SPILL SOMETHING ON IT but the iPad goes as standard and it happens that most of what I’m presently reading is on e- and therefore I had space ordinarily taken up by hard copy AND THE KNITTING WON.  Furthermore I now have this deeply cool little (pink) narrow-beam light that Peter gave me for reading the prayer service in the frelling dark at the monks’, which would work just as well clipped to a napkin in a restaurant as to my collar in an abbey.

And now maybe I’ll knit a few rows and go to bed.  If the bed starts whirling when I turn the light off I will turn the light back on and knit a few more rows.  Garter stitch is great when you’ve had too much champagne.†††

* * *

 * I saw Alfrick last night and told him it was my birthday today.  So I got a happy-birthday email from him saying, Glad to see you last night while you were young.  —There’s nothing like^ a monk for that unique and astonishing degree of professional kindness and sympathy and profound insight into the human condition.  I’ve noticed it often with Alfrick.  BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH.

^ Fortunately

** With apologies for another KESless Saturday.  Friday night Street Pastors was . . . stressful.  You know if Hampshire is going to become the latest seething hotbed of excitable youth and popular with the feuding lout faction I’m frelling going to retire.  I didn’t sign on for all this commotion.  I signed on to stroll around passing out hot drinks to the homeless and flipflops to the overly high-heeled.  I can deal with a certain amount of off-the-wallness, both drug- and alcohol-related and/or the results of social-services failures.  I didn’t sign on to get involved in the stuff that the cops are for.  That’s what the cops are for.  Also, of course, I’m still barely frelling walking post-stomach-flu, and this has a certain dispiriting effect.  But yesterday was mostly another lost day, although talking to Alfrick was good in spite of his sense of humour.

*** You come too, like the poem says.  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173534

And seems to be staying where I put it, which is an important point.^

^ Champagne is of course noted for its stomach-soothing effects.+

+ What I want to know is if I start drinking only about eight hours after I got up in the cough-cough morning does that make me a LUSH?  Except this early (cough-cough) in the day approach to sin and heinousness does give you extra time at the other end to take your hellmob out for supernumerary hurtles to wear sin, heinousness and 12% alcohol off again.#

# ::pours a second pot of peppermint tea into the internal cauldron::

†† Some clever helpful person is going to say ‘circulars’.  I HATE CIRCULAR NEEDLES.

 ††† Non, je regrette rien.

Pav

 

IT’S PAV’S BIRTHDAY TODAY.  PAV IS TWO YEARS OLD.  . . . Which basically means she’s a snarky adolescent with a lot of attitude.  Yeah.  That about covers it.  She’s also adorable.  Just by the way.  And she’s been remarkably good-natured about the amount of time she’s been spending in crates the last week.  There are occasional eruptions but she always comes out the open door smiling and ready to have a good time.

I’d like to say I fed her steak for her birthday.  Um.  I didn’t feed her steak.  But we had a very good Long Yellow Thing game this morning and a faaaaabulous tear around Third House’s garden this afternoon followed by a long lap.

 

Subduing the Long Yellow Thing in a significant manner.  Hellgoddess is tiresomely finishing doing the washing-up.

Subduing the Long Yellow Thing in a significant manner. Hellgoddess is tiresomely finishing doing the washing-up.

 

Note leg-clutching action.  This is all part of essential hellterror strategy.

Note leg-clutching action. This is all part of essential hellterror strategy.

 

 

I've got it.  No, I've got it.  No, I've got it.  NO.  I'VE GOT IT.

I’ve got it. No, I’ve got it. No, I’ve got it. NO. I’VE GOT IT.

 

 

 

Jaws of death.  And to make sure I'm properly intimidated, she puts one heavy little foot on my foot.

Jaws of death. And to make sure I’m properly intimidated, she puts one heavy little foot on my foot.

 

 

Faster than a speeding hellterror.  One of these days I have to remind myself where the fast-action button on my camera is BEFORE I need it.

Faster than a speeding hellterror. One of these days I have to remind myself where the fast-action button on my camera is BEFORE I need it.

 

 

Look at her leaning into her corners.  What a relay racer she'd make.  Of course she'd have bitten the baton on half.

Look at her leaning into her corners. What a relay racer she’d make. Of course she’d have bitten the baton in half.

 

 

I'm not sure even the speed button on a pretty good camera could cope with a hellterror in full hucklebutt.  This is the spinning round and round phase.

I’m not sure even the speed button on a pretty good camera could cope with a hellterror in full hucklebutt. This is the spinning round and round phase.

 

There’s running around like a mad thing, and there’s hucklebutting.  These are two separate and distinct activities.  Hucklebutting frequently evolves from running around like a mad thing with the addition of certain agility feats including end-swapping, spinning round and round and rolling over and over and over.   The interesting thing about this last aspect is that it tends to happen an inch or two above the ground.  I have no idea.  I only report what I see.

Little badger-face streak.

Little badger-face streak.

 

Mistress of all she surveys.  With maybe a little input from two hellhounds and a hellgoddess.  But that nasty noisy little terrier object next door doesn't have a chance.

Mistress of all she surveys. With maybe a little input from two hellhounds and a hellgoddess. But that nasty noisy little terrier object next door doesn’t have a chance.

It RAINED last night.  Just in time for the greenish stuff that we mow as if it were grass to take a deep happy breath and . . . turn more or less green again.  Third House’s garden really is triangular, that’s not an optical illusion.   It’ll be a really nice garden again as soon as we get the house a little more under control.  Well not as soon as but you know what I mean.  At the moment the willowherb is winning.

If I didn't know better I'd think she stood on my foot at every opportunity because one of her legs is shorter than the other three.

If I didn’t know better I’d think she stood on my foot at every opportunity because one of her legs is shorter than the other three.

This in fact is the moment when Peter came out to join the fray, I mean fun, and she wanted to make sure I’d noticed.  Unfortunately all the photos of her and him are either hopelessly blurry or I’ve cut his head off.  You’ll just have to assume that a good time was had by all.  Bruises optional.

My piano comes home

 

It is tragic the amount of fabulous blog material I’ve missed using the last five days or so.  For example the BT landline engineer on Thursday had just finished telling me that it couldn’t be done because the wiring was too old, or possibly because it had been plastered over irrecoverably when I hired a small army to create an attic out of a large crawl space, or at least it couldn’t be done till 2017 because they were going to have to rewire Hampshire first,* or at very least it couldn’t be done that day, as scheduled, because they were going to have to import a special lorry with a special hoist which was presently in Belgium, or possibly Tanzania, with which to approach sufficiently reverently the overhead wiring from 1878 which was, of course, made out of string,** and, in 2014, can use all the reverence it can get.  So he had just finished telling me this when his phone rang*** and it was his manager saying that his brother had rung from hospital WHERE THEY HAD TAKEN HIS FATHER AND HE SHOULD GO THERE NOW.   Oh dear . . .

They sent me another engineer.  Which is pretty impressive since this meant he would be working past closing time.  And he was a little cranky about this—he says he rarely sees his two-year-old except on weekends—but he was in no way taking it out on me and I have total sympathy with cranky.  And he found a hoist in, I don’t know, Berkshire or Essex or Norway or something, and it came*** and HE GOT THIRD HOUSE PLUGGED IN NOT ONLY TO THE TELEPHONE BUT TO WHAT PASSES FOR THE REAL WORLD ANY MORE, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN . . . well, at all, for the internet, but a number of years for the phone, because Third House had stood empty for quite a while before the heirs put it on the market.  And then it hung around on the market for another while because it was overpriced and I kept walking past and fretting, having been in to the estate agent and discovered that (a) it was WAAAAAAAY out of any semblance of my price range and (b) in the estate agent’s opinion it was overpriced, and I should bide myself in patience.†  And we know how that ended.  And then I got my knickers in a twist about the ‘several hundred pounds to lay new phone line’ thing.  Oh, and the great deal I was getting from BT?  That they’d lay the new line if I’d agree to buy their broadband for two years?  Is anyone amazed that it’s not all that good a deal?  I get one connection.  If I want, you know, extensions, I have to pay for them.  I get one connection with one underfrellingpowered router with built in wireless THAT IS SO FEEBLE IT WON’T REACH TO THE OTHER END OF THIS LITTLE HOUSE, LET ALONE INTO THE ATTIC.  ARRRRRRRRRRGH.  So we have wireless broadband (mostly††) in the sitting room.  Peter can’t even get it in his office which is about eight feet away.  ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH.

BUT I WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT MY PIANO.†††

I had asked Oisin and he’d said I should ask our mutual piano tuner about someone to move my darling, and the piano tuner clucked and said there was the less expensive option and the more expensive option and I said this is an old, heavy Steinway upright and I want her treated gently, and he said Sigurd of the Silver Doohickey was the bee’s knees of piano movers pretty much over the entire south of England but they were not cheap.  I rang Sigurd and they quoted a price that didn’t seem to me, the owner of an old heavy Steinway upright‡, all that remarkable, so I said yes and, furthermore, since what they do is move pianos and are always galloping back and forth across the south of England they managed to find me a slot for today . . . the first working day after the rest of the furniture went.

I will also at present leave out describing the amount of hauling of little stuff, from the mews to Third House, that has been going on both before and since Friday, and the sordid appallingnesses thus implacably revealed‡‡.  TODAY I was at the mews at 2 pm awaiting Cinderella’s coach with the reinforced suspension, the turbo jets and the crane.

This rather mild-mannered van rolled into the courtyard at 2:15.  It was bigger than your average White Van Man van but looking at it you didn’t immediately think panzer division, although it did say SIGURD OF THE SILVER DOOHICKEY SPECIALIST PIANO MOVER on all visible surfaces.  And three young laconic guys dropped out of it and strolled in a deeply cool manner to the front door.  In hindsight I suspect they were waiting to find out if I was going to be a Fainting in Coils type who would need to be managed but my first thirty seconds’ impression was not particularly positive.  Whatever.  Sigurd is the best, these guys must know what they’re doing.

I started to come round to them when they viewed the situation calmly, and the mews is not exactly set up for the easy moving of old heavy upright pianos, and there had been a fair amount of drama from the gang who had brought her.  One of these guys fetched one little skateboardy rolling thing and the other two started edging my darling out of her corner.  The one with the most tats—who fetched the skateboard—acknowledged that he was a hired gun and the other two were the Real Piano Movers.  They looked so, you know, normal.  Until the bigger of the two simply LIFTED one end of my piano a good eighteen frelling inches off the floor so they could start working the skateboard under.‡‡‡  Eeeeeep.

Well, they loaded her up and slid her across the floor and DOWN THE HORRIBLE LITTLE STEEP FRONT STEPS with only a titanium alloy ramp and the two blokes to keep her where she belonged, and the third guy scampering around adding stability where requested.  And while the two blokes waited for the third one to lower the tailgate ramp lift thing I said, I know there’s this mythology about heavy upright pianos and everybody thinks theirs is the heaviest, so, tell me, on a scale of upright pianos, where does this one go?  And they laughed—a little breathlessly, I’m happy to say—and replied, this model is the heaviest upright Steinway ever built which is to say this is the heaviest upright piano ever built.  A lot of full size concert grands weigh less than this piano, they said.

Oh.  This probably explains why Sigurd was so careful to ask for model number . . . and why they had the third bloke along today.  And I guess the van is the extra super reinforced concrete suspension Cinderella’s carriage.

So we trundled down to Third House and I, fool that I am, assumed that the worst was over, except for the part about how the sitting room would suddenly be Very Full of Piano once she was in.  NEVER MIND.  Atlas had cut back the clematis montana over the garden gate so you can actually get through without bending double and/or being strangled, and my piano and attendants came through with a flourish and swooped around to get a straight shot at the front door.  My hero looked at the door, looked at me and said, you did measure the door, didn’t you?

MEASURE THE DOOR?  IT’S A DOOR.  LIKE ANY OTHER DOOR . . . I was literally clutching my head at this point.

My hero looked at the door again, shook his head and said, I don’t think it’s going to go through.  They didn’t even use the ramp this time, they just kept picking her up over the steps.  What do they feed these boys?

AND SHE DIDN’T FIT THROUGH THE DOOR.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHH

They were still so calm.  Well, this must happen all the time.  Stupid clueless people who assume that one ordinary front door is like another ordinary front door.  So they looked at the new situation—calmly—while I tried not to fall down in fits (or coils) and start gnawing on the outdoor furniture which looks very nice on the lawn here, by the way.

We’ll take the door off, said my hero.  I think if we just take the bottom off§ we can bring the piano in backwards and swing it around inside.

Which is what happened.  It was still a terrifyingly tight squeeze, and while they had her padded with blankets the frelling plastic door frame squealed unnervingly.  BUT SHE CAME THROUGH THE DOOR THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.  And they swung her around like doing the do-si-so—the so-called fitted carpet didn’t cooperate with this manoeuvre but along with the screwdriver as standard equipment for removing doors they’re also accustomed to what they call correcting the carpet—stood her up against the wall and . . . the sitting room is a trifle full of piano but it’s not actually as FRELLING SQUASHED LOOKING as I was afraid it would be.  And the really great thing?  Both the inner sitting room door and the outer door—the one that came off and that they put back on again because they are polite young gentlemen as well as major beefcake—into the garden OPEN ALL THE WAY.  With like three-quarters of an inch to spare, both sides.  Three quarters of an inch is all we need.

MY PIANO IS HOME.§§

* * *

* Which is probably true.  There’s all this bluster about getting Hampshire super-fast broadband and the first swathe happens next year.  Uh-huh.  We’re in the swathe for 2017.  And have I mentioned they’re building houses in this town faster than a hammer can fall on a nail?^  And that the broadband we have is grinding slowly to a dead halt as more and more people sign up?  And let’s not even talk about traffic and parking and the way you sometimes can’t get through the centre of town on foot.^^

^Possibly because they don’t use hammers and nails in house-building any more.  That’s so two centuries ago.+

+ Also because England deforested itself of suitable house-building trees more centuries ago than that.  They may still use hammers and nails in Maine.

^^ Especially not with totally clueless four-legged companions.  You’d think the hellhounds would have learnt to look both ways by now.  Pav, eh.

** Copper-impregnated galvanized string.  They don’t make string like they used to.

*** I’m beginning to forget what life was like before mobile phones.  Not in a good way.  I still consider Pooka back up not the main event.  And maybe in retaliation she decided the end of last week TO BE UNRELIABLE FOR A FEW DAYS.^  So I’m leaving messages all over the landscape DON’T USE MY MOBILE USE MY LANDLINE and . . . I have two messages on my landline, neither of them important, and about twenty seven on Pooka, most of which won’t pick up.  What is the MATTER with people?^^

My very best example however of the profound basic demon-possessed infuriatingness of mobile phones happened only this morning.  I was out with hellhounds.  Chaos had just Assumed the Position to have a crap at the edge of the pedestrian pavement.  Mildly embarrassing, with people streaming by, but not a big deal.  Not like it hasn’t happened before:  we frelling live in the centre of town.  I was focussed on him, getting my little black plastic bag out and so on, and glanced over my shoulder to check that Darkness wasn’t doing anything he shouldn’t.  AND DISCOVERED THAT HE HAD ASSUMED THE POSITION IMMEDIATELY IN FRONT OF THE DOOR OF THE BARD AND OPHARION.

And Pooka started barking.

And Peter’s favourite bridge partner’s wife walked by, started to say hello and burst out laughing.

Oh, and the person who was ringing?  WAS SOMEONE I HAD TOLD TO USE MY LANDLINE.  I told her I’d ring her back.  That’s fine, she chirruped.  I’ve rung her five? six? seven? times over the course of the rest of the day . . . and she’s never at her desk, in her office or on the radar.  Possibly because her digital exchange says, ooooh, landline, how retro, and her assistant says, landline?  We don’t want to talk to any clumsy vulgar landline, we don’t do string anyway.

^ Or more than a few.  We don’t know yet.  Raphael remonstrated with her briefly today but he had his hands full trying to bring the frelling BT frelling broadband frelling crap router to heel.  Note:  he failed.

^^ I’m not going to ask what’s the matter with Pooka.  That way madness lies.

*** The driver doesn’t see his kids except on weekends either.

PATIENCE?  YOU’RE KIDDING, RIGHT?

†† I’m not even going to start on this epic.  Raphael is coming back later in the week.  Maybe then.

††† There were epics on Friday, of course, but our loyal movers—this is now the third or fourth, depending on how you’re counting, time they’ve moved us.  We all call each other by name and say ‘hi’ in the street, you know?  Small local family firms.  Salt of the earth.  Adore, adore—were fabulous.  As they have always been fabulous.

‡ People go all faint when they see she’s a Steinway.^  As I keep saying, she was cheaper than a lot of mediocre new pianos and who wouldn’t have a Steinway if that’s the choice??  I’ve told you the story of how I bought her, haven’t I?  Another of my epics.

^ The logo is usually covered up by my music rack.

‡‡ And that the chief reason I haven’t blogged before today is that I’ve either been racing around like a crazy woman or collapsed in a weepy little puddle of ME on the nearest horizontal surface, floor, ground, hellhound bed, hellhound(s), whatever.  The ME is not exactly behaving itself, but I’m getting a certain amount of stuff done . . . and Nina and Ignatius are so golden.  I don’t know what we’d be doing without them.  They were here a couple of days earlier last week, they were here Friday, they had the temerity to take the weekend off^, were here again today and are coming back tomorrow.

^ Nina, who is clearly insane, booked some holiday to help her dad move and Ignatius has one of these all or nothing jobs and he’s in a mostly nothing phase at the moment.

‡‡‡ Let me say that I am glad to admit that I stopped finding young guys hot some years ago.  They’re so . . . you know, young.  I like the old beat-up ones that look like we might have stuff in common to, ahem, talk about.   But I might make an exception for this chap.  He is not that big and he’s not that bulky although you look at him and guess you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side in a pub brawl . . . but I’ve never liked the ripped gym-bunny look even when I was young.  I had a serious case of the hots for my blacksmith, many years ago when I had a horse, because he had major muscles from USE, you know?  The definition wasn’t much because he wasn’t doing gazillions of specialist curls but he was strong and I’ve always kind of swooned for strong, especially the easy-going, almost careless, strong-because-it’s-part-of-the-job-description kind of strong.  Also, turned out, once I apparently wasn’t going to turn into a Fainting in Coils, today’s hero has a really nice smile.  I hope his main squeeze appreciates him.

§ Here’s one of those big fat juicy ironies.  I hated the old plastic door and have rarely been as happy as when Atlas finally got around to putting the wooden stable-style door in that I’d bought yonks ago but there’s only one of Atlas and Peter or I keep pulling him off one thing to do something else.  But finally . . . YAAAAAAAY.  NICE DOOR IMPROVING GARDEN SIDE VIEW OF NICE HOUSE not to mention Aura of Sitting Room Within.  But if it had been the nasty old plastic door today the piano would have fit through it.  Because of the frame that the old door left behind—and which would have been an expensive ratbag to replace—Atlas had to install the new door slightly, um, in.  Thus narrowing the entrance/egress part of the deal.  Which I’d never really registered.  My bad.  Uggggh.  Disaster narrowly averted.

§§ And if this blog is a little less coherent than usual, well, forgive me, it’s been a rough week. . . .

Chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp*

 

It was going to be a really bad day.**  The ME is using me as a punching-bag again*** and I got out of bed in stages, saying, it is Monday, and I am going to my voice lesson.  I am going to my voice lesson.  All I have to do is crawl to the car, unlock the door, and put the key in the little hole.  Wolfgang knows the way.

It has been a really bad week for—not for singing, see previous about singing for sanity, but for attentive practise, so that I don’t feel a total fool going to sing for Nadia.†  After my voice slammed shut on me last Monday—which was actually rather alarming—I gave it two days off anything but folk songs and Leonard Cohen†† . . . and then I had stomach flu and all those deep breaths and gut-disturbing diaphragm action for singing seemed like a pretty bad idea, although I could (maybe) stop worrying about the slamming shut, which was probably germ related. †††

I did sing over the weekend—a little—and I noticed at church last night that I was making a noise.‡  But this morning, warming up, I felt like I’d Never Seen Any of This Music Before in My Life‡‡ and did not set out for my lesson in a very positive frame of mind.‡‡‡

But fate and body parts are often perverse little creatures.  I don’t even know how to explain what happened;  if I try it’ll sound like gibberish to non-singers and will probably make those of you who would understand what I was talking about if I could explain it properly fall down laughing.  The point is I made what Nadia herself called a Technical Leap Forward having to do with waking up the ‘mask’ sinuses and persuading all the various bits and pieces—tongue and soft palate in particular—to clear out of the way and let the sound resonate.   Gleep.  And she took me up to the high B-flat I need for both Batti, Batti§ and I Want to Be a Prima Donna—I didn’t know it, of course, although I knew we were getting up there—and which I do erratically have at home when I’m focussed on not paying attention and shutting myself down because I Can’t Possibly Do That, so I know the frelling thing exists.  And as she pointed out, grinning, I sang it with no strain and no muscle tension.  It’s the lack of tension that was so astonishing—she said, yes, your support has come a little adrift, but we can fix that.§§  You’ve made real progress today.

And . . . golly . . .  you know . . . I may yet make a singer.

* * *

* Although everything is relative.  See next footnote.

** It’s been a bad hellhound day for weeks.  With the very, very occasional exception, Darkness more often than Chaos, neither of them is eating.  The only reason they haven’t starved themselves to death by now is because I keep force feeding them.  They haven’t eaten a scrap of anything today, voluntarily, for example.  This is utterly demoralising for me even when the ME isn’t bad.  It’s not the taste of the drug;  they get three meals and only two of them are dosed.  If they are having a unique nauseous reaction to this stuff—nausea which lasts through the third meal—that would explain it, but I doubt it’s that simple, and neither the vet nor I can ask them how they feel or why they’ve decided food is the enemy.^  Meanwhile although their output is improved it’s still far from . . . um . . . a neat pick-up so we persevere.  Wearily.

^ Although if it were that simple, anorexia in humans would be less scary and less difficult to treat.  I remind myself of this sometimes, on my knees beside the dog bed, stuffing cold sticky food down recoiling hellhounds.

*** I did survive^ my first official Samaritan duty shift, thank you for asking.  It was a relatively quiet night which given that I was not at my best is probably just as well,^^ although I need some demanding shifts to get through the list of things your mentor has to support you through before you’re turned loose to function mentor-less.  I did write a few texts^^^—and I hope you eventually get over that initial shock of, oh, you poor thing, let me give you a cup of tea and a biscuit.#

The next fortnight is going to be a little unnecessarily exciting however since I’m still at the tremulous beginning of learning Sam weekly duty-shift stamina and I’ve got Street Pastor shifts two weeks in a row too.  This is from the swap with Eleanor—she took my Friday night before a Saturday-morning Sam training in June and I’m taking her Saturday in July while she’s touring great swathes of America with her husband.  Meanwhile the ME needs to clear off.

^ . . . I’m here.  I’m writing a blog entry.  This is not the new Zombie McKinley.  Breath on the mirror and everything.

^^ And I’m going to assume that hang-ups are not in response to my American accent.

^^^ My mentor, whom we will call Pythia, has a very good line:  if you had written what this person has written, is this the response you’d want to read?  —Since ‘I have a magic wand and I’m about to make it all go away’ is ineligible, like the cup of tea, if for different reasons.

# Tricky, of course, since they could be texting you from anywhere.  New Guinea.  Mars.+

+ A CUP OF TEA AND A BISCUIT??  I’M SO BRITISH.~

~ I have no idea what the cup-of-tea-and-a-biscuit equivalent is in either New Guinea or Mars.

† Although I continue to be tempted to take . . . probably Matty Groves in to Nadia.  Some folk song with drama.  I told you, didn’t I, that I asked her how you sing a maddened nobleman who is about to off both his wife and her lover when you’re a soprano?  And she said it’s all in how you release the consonants.  And.  Glory.  Yes.^

I may not have told you since I don’t remember admitting that I’m not a big Sandy Denny fan^^.  I know.  Heresy.  I am, indeed, so lost to all finer feelings that I wonder if the Sandy Denny cult might be somewhat based on the fact that she died young.  Nice enough voice but . . . eh.  Give me Maddy Prior or June Tabor or Norma Waterson.  The Matty Groves take that makes my blood beat hard and my hair stand on end is Fairport Convention after Sandy Denny, with the blokes singing.  And they can roar, which is not an option available to a soprano.

But I think I’m still not quite up to eating the scenery for Nadia.  Maybe a few more weeks.  Months.  Years. . . .

^ ‘ . . . And I shall Strike the very next blow, and I will Kill you if I Can.’

^^ But when the ME is this bad I don’t have any memory either.

†† Famous on twenty-three continents^ for having a vocal range of two and a half notes, and tends to write songs accordingly.

^ This includes Mars

††† Your Body Is Your Instrument.  Why didn’t I stick with the piano?

‡ I mean . . . singing.  Melodic.  More or less.  Probably.  I wasn’t in the band this week so it didn’t matter.

‡‡ Mozart?  And he was—?

‡‡‡ Although the presence of non-eating hellhounds in the back seat, looking forward to their Monday afternoon post-lesson walk somewhere interesting, probably was not helping.  They like me wrecked by ME:  I’m much more willing to noodle along while they investigate every clump of grass for the recent presence of other dogs and/or fascinating pieces of litter.

§ Oh—that Mozart

§§ She also said that if I can’t do this free resonating thing at home this week—don’t panic.  But that I should only sing new music—stuff I’m working on for the first time now—if I break out Che Faro, for example, which is absolutely my longing and desire, I’ll just revert to old habits.  Wait a little now, she said.  We’ll go back to Che Faro later, I promise.

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