March 28, 2014

Shadows is here!

Regular Forum Day


I should declare a dedicated Regular Forum Day.  I read the comments and think oh, yes, I want to answer that . . . and then I get distracted and the comments I particularly want to answer pile up and pile up and then I can’t find the ones I was thinking about and I fuss about this one or that one which would overlap with what I wanted to say about this other one if I could find it/them and then I stress about the ones I miss out, especially the interesting and amusing ones that I meant to get back to but they didn’t fit with the hare I was pursuing right now and then of course I LOSE THEM . . . .

No, I’m not safe to cross the street alone.*


Or – when the power is out – [smoke alarms] chirp despairingly** at you. Which I figured meant the back up battery was dead. I had presumed that the battery was what they ran on. Turns out that ours must be wired in. And no, the spare, little square battery wasn’t there. Must have used the spare last time.

At the old house we had this diabolical system where whatever you did . . . was wrong.  They were (apparently) BOTH wired in and had batteries, like yours.  There was the additional factor at the old house however that it was LARGE.  You could wander for days through the winding corridors and up and down stairs looking for the particular smoke alarm piping forlornly.  And if it started at two/five a.m., forget it.  Put a pillow over your head.  Put several pillows over your head.  Oxygen shortage will make your heart thud in your ears louder than the frelling smoke alarm.

Although for hysterical-making LOUDNESS, any of you have back-up batteries for your desktop computers?  So if the power goes out you have a few minutes to save and shut down?  I have never heard anything so loud in my entire life as that thing.  An entire chorus line of Wagnerian sopranos couldn’t make so much noise (HOJOTOHO HEIAHA-HA!!!!!!  etc).  AND IT’S A MAJOR RATBAG TO TURN OFF.  MAAAAAAAJOR.  It’s hammering you with that noise and you CAN’T THINK what you did last time to make it stoooooop—no, you can’t think, THAT’S ALL.  YOU CAN’T THINK.  I don’t believe the power has ever gone off while the desktop was on so I haven’t tested the likelihood that I’m incapable of focussing through the cacophony to save and close down which kind of destroys the point, doesn’t it?  The wretched thing is now years and years old so maybe I could replace it.***  No, better not, my even more ancient desktop, which at present is bizarrely rather reliable†, would probably pine.


Your luck is rubbing off–my oven gave up the ghost this morning–sigh.

Oh dear.  Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world . . . Whimper.  Please may my Aga go on working.  Did I tell you that my central heating packed in several weeks . . . um . . . quite a few weeks ago?  Since I spend most of my time crouched by the Aga downstairs it’s not crucial although I should perhaps get it mended in time for next winter, just in case it’s more like winter and less like spring in a rainforest.  But these last two nights when we’ve had frost I do kind of pelt downstairs in a hurry to get dressed by the Aga.  In lots of hairy, fluffy layers.††


I’ll see you a peacefully chirping smoke alarm in need of a battery and raise you a screaming (yes, the dragons reference is accurate) carbon monoxide sensor… which is a plug-in… and the power goes off… and it screams… and you eventually stash it in the garage, under something large, until your husband can come home and eviscerate it temporarily but thoroughly. Or until the power comes back on. Which ever is first.

So at least it’s portable?  My frelling computer back up battery weighs more than a hellterror.  Probably more than a fat hellterror.  Not to mention that little ‘not making your neighbours hate you’ thing.  I have at least one fairly scary neighbour—Phineas, Atlas and I tend to hide when we see her coming.

Carbon monoxide?  Is this something to do with your furnace/boiler?  As I recall when I was still in Maine they were starting to have screaming radon alarms.  I had no need for one, since I had entire weather systems tooling around through my charming, but aged and leaky little house.  Since it sat on granite and had two one-and-a-half storey granite boulders in the back yard I’m sure there was radon around, but it didn’t settle in and get comfy.

Diane in MN

Pooka continues to refuse to pick up the internet when we’re away from our home wifi. I can have all the little ‘signal’ bars that there’s frelling room for dancing the fandango and singing ‘I feel pretty’ and Safari just sits there saying ‘Nope.

. . . is it supposed to connect automatically to any network anywhere? Or do you have to tell it to locate all available networks, then specify which one to use? . . . Another possibility is that the bars you see are for a wifi network that’s password protected, and if you don’t have the password, you’re toast.

No, this seems to be pretty genuinely a FAULT.  The bars are to do with the automatic if-the-default-wifi-is-not-available alternate system.  Raphael has come and wrestled with it twice and all the ‘settings’ say the right things, they just don’t do what they’re told.  Tech.  Arrrgh.  Speaking of default:  tech = arrrrrrgh.  The problem I see slowly and relentlessly coming into focus is that everything except, for the moment, my elderly desktop, is getting increasingly unreliable:  Pooka, Astarte, the laptop.  I can’t replace all of them.  I wish they’d get together and offload all the nonsense on one piece of kit.  But that would be much too easy.

It was the kind of meeting where your fearless leader decides that you should start with something that makes you talk to each other. [ . . . ] The first thing on the list was: ‘knits’.

I’m not a big fan of these exercises, and if this is typical of the list, I wouldn’t be too optimistic about this one. Just as an example, I’ve found that “I knit” might generate a comment or a question, but will only start a conversation with another knitter.

I pretty much detest all pointless social flimflam.  Either let’s do something or let’s go home.  If I’d gone into the kind of career that started developing Team Bonding Seminars and Group Hug Retreats—which were rare when I was a young thing and I’ve watched proliferate alarmingly as I pursue my cranky, fortunately solo way through life—I think I might have had to change careers.  Or, possibly, had them changed out from under me when I failed the Group Hug Weekend.  In this particular instance, however, the list was long enough you didn’t have time for a conversation, you were busy tracking down the next thing on your list.  Anybody who plays a musical instrument/ knits/ likes Marmite/ would like either to DO SOMETHING or go home, please wave your hand.  I, of course, being able to get stuff wrong even when I’m not trying to get stuff wrong managed to strike up a conversation with the wrong people and had to be chivvied back into the central melee.   Sigh.


I think this little fire-movie from Norway is quite funny.

 The geeky person starts by saying “In the beginning it felt really strange. I didn’t understand – why did they want me in their home, when they didn’t respect me at all…?”

::falls down laughing::  Yes.  And while it’s more or less clear in context I’m grateful for the translation.


I did the fire marshall training at my work. It was very entertaining. How often, these days, do you get to let off a fire extinguisher ON PURPOSE?


 Among the other gems that stick in my mind, I remember the trainer saying that he changed the batteries on all his smoke alarms every Christmas. Presents, Queen’s speech, change the batteries. He said that way you remember to do it. He acknowledged that some people might want to do it on their birthday instead.

Oh, feh.  That battery had lasted SEVERAL YEARS.  I’m supposed to WASTE SEVERAL YEARS of battery?  I suppose I could buy a five-year diary for batteries  . . . um, no, I don’t think so.  Although I did write down, and put in Wolfgang’s glovebox, when I was obliged to buy him a new battery two (!) years ago.  So I’d know.   Hmm.  Actually I could put ‘Mar 14’ on a sticky label and tack it to the smoke alarm. . . .  maybe that’s too obvious. . . .



 Grrrr. My husband wants us to continue to have a land line, so we have a phone/answering machine plugged into it. I work from home and no longer answer the land line (anyone I actually want to talk to calls the mobile), and so I wanted to turn the ringer off so I’m not disturbed every time someone calls wanting to sell me something or ask me to donate money to their cause.

Yes.  I am continuing to fail, speaking of failing, to get my act together to finish the process of renting Third House, and one of the obstacles I keep swerving away from is spending the several hundred pounds to force BT to put a landline in, since there isn’t one in this centre-of-town, eighty-year-old house with the phone jack in the kitchen.  Do I have to have a landline?  Unfortunately rental agencies are still kind of traditional about this.

 There is no “ringer off” button on our machine. Or on either handset.

 I think we figured out that for ours, at least, we can silence the ring on the handset but it took some digging and poking in the menus (and I’m usually good at figuring this stuff out).

Well I feel better that the insanity is general.  I am NOT usually good at figuring this stuff out . . . but eventually I managed to find the very small print in the handbook that SAYS you can’t turn the ring off the portable handset.  It does not, however, tell you why.

* * *

* Fortunately I rarely am crossing the street alone.  Usually I am accompanied by hellcritters.

** Just by the way I am interested that Australian smoke alarms make the same dying-battery noises as British smoke alarms.

*** First I have to buy a washing machine.  I’m still whining and wincing.  I need to get on with it though.  The extra-years’ guarantee deal is only till the end of the month.  Not to mention that Peter is threatening to divorce me if I don’t get my stuff out of his washing machine.

† No, no!  I didn’t say that!  Never use the “r” word about computers, it makes them nasty!

†† No, the hellcritters come after the dressing.  Although some of the hairy-and-fluffy kind of migrates.

Yarn Porn, Part One



No, no, said Nina, I’ve only just got here myself; I misread the bus   schedule and. . . .     TO BE CONTINUED.

A certain renowned author and GOH at 2015 Boskone is getting entirely too fond of cliffhangers!

Snork.  It wasn’t meant to be a cliffhanger.  It was ‘okay, that’s 1000 words, I can get at least a second post out of all the photos, YAAAAAAAY.’  No, I found my way out of the car park without happening across more than one or two bottomless ravines and/or person-eating tigers . . . and having stood at a total loss on the pavement outside the exit for about thirty seconds while the traffic swirled by* the very first passing pedestrian I applied to pointed over his shoulder and said, your Ancient Building—and your yarn show—is that way.

And it was.  And Nina was waiting in the entrance.**  And we spent the next three hours in a daze of colour, texture and naked desire.***

The Welcome Pigeon.  And it doesn't eat your seedlings or crap on your windscreen.

The Welcome Pigeon. And it doesn’t eat your seedlings or crap on your windscreen.



SOME DAY I am going to buy one of those amazingly long skeins of laceweight and knit a shawl on big needles so it's all, you know, lacy, without having to learn a frelling lace pattern.  But not today.

SOME DAY I am going to buy one of those amazingly long skeins of laceweight and knit a shawl on big needles so it’s all, you know, lacy, without having to learn a frelling lace pattern. But not today.

And it won’t be nearly as droolworthy as any of these.  But it’ll be a shawl.




TO BE CONTINUED.  Again.  Hey, it worked last time. . . . †

* * *

* And I’m sure I saw that stricken look of No!  Not Sainsbury’s again! on several of the drivers’ faces

** Having had a slightly fascinating time watching all the painstakingly handmade knitwear marching through the doorway.  This reminds me more than a trifle of costuming at cons.  The majority of it is pretty fabulous and you think if all that love, care, creativity and skill could be more widely applied we’d have the world’s problems sorted instanter.  Unfortunately there tend to be governments and special-interest groups in the way.

And then there’s a little of it that, ahem, isn’t fabulous.  At least not on this planet.   There were a few items in this category at the yarn show.

*** Well, I did.  Nina is made of sterner stuff, although she admitted she began to feel a trifle overwhelmed.  But she came for a project and she found a project, and she bought a pattern and took advice about suitable yarn and bought that AND THAT’S ALL SHE BOUGHT.  Gaaaaaaah.  I bought an ENTIRELY UNSUITABLE VERY LARGE BOOK OF PATTERNS for the extremely pathetic reason that I fell wildly, hopelessly in love with one of the knitted-up samples.  I have about as much chance of knitting the freller^ for myself as I do of riding dressage in the next Olympics—in fact I have a better chance at the Olympics—but maybe I can turn the book into a coffee table.  It’s big enough.^^

Now most of this is just my embarrassing lack of self-control.  But it’s also because the stall-holders were nice.  I could imagine ringing them up and saying WHAT DO I DO NOW?  I can even imagine them answering.^^^  Most of the stall-holders made a point of saying that they were happy to take phone calls and offer advice, and pressed their business cards on you, and most of these are small independents producing their own yarn and/or their own patterns.   Although there were a few franchises there, they were friendly too.  Knitting seems to be a pretty welcoming world.

However there was one stall where I would certainly have bought one and probably two patterns, both of which were really interesting and looked more clever than complicated . . . but a little complicated.  And I looked at the proprietors and thought, well, no, I can’t imagine ringing these people up and asking for advice.#  So I didn’t buy the patterns.  Sigh.  Not like I don’t have 467,912 patterns already.

^ No I’m not telling you what it is.  It’s an item of clothing and it has roses on it.

^^ Speaking of large books full of gorgeous patterns I have no hope of knitting:

I even have a Kaffe Fassett book from another, similar occasion of tragic longing.  It’s an art book, okay?  Never mind those pattern instructions in the back.

^^^ The likelihood of my being able to follow their instructions however. . . .

# Nina, by the way, in her calm, clear, rational manner, had the same reaction to them that I did.  So it’s not just me being the raging loony faction.  She also liked the patterns.  Maybe I’ll buy one on line and ask Fiona to help me.

†  I’ve also just spent fifteen minutes frelling arguing with this laptop, which may be moving toward retirement^, about posting that last photo, which it insisted was Fully Occupied Having Illicit Relations with Another Programme.  IT FRELLING ISN’T YOU FRELLING FRELLING.  I don’t want to do that any more tonight and I have no idea what it might have in mind for my next attempt at loading a photo.  The yarn porn is obviously disturbing its moral and professional values.

^ I can’t AFFORD a new computer!  I need to BUY MORE YARN!!


The horror of email



I had an email a few days ago from my host or whatever the arglebargle jerkface, saying that my email was migrating.  Quack quack quack or similar.  I had no idea that email was of a nomadic bent.   And that when this process was complete and it was contentedly nest-building in its new neighbourhood I was going to have to mrffjjjx darblefhha gormblad, being extra-careful with the tuvuprk so that it doesn’t hipplycritz.  I leaped back with a cry as if I’d been burnt, and forwarded this dreadful memorandum to Raphael.  Who replied laconically that he would come out and reconfigure, and that he’d bring restraints for the tuvuprk , which was prone to bolting.

Migration was supposed to occur on Monday.  How was I supposed to know if it’s happened or not?  My email continued to behave as normal, which is to say as if possessed by demons, but no better or worse than it ever does.

Raphael came today on the assumption that my email must have moved into its new home by now and was ready for him to hang the pictures on the walls and fix the leaky tap and the sticky door.

Nope.  Still migrating.  Maybe it has a lot of boxes of books.

So he can’t reconfigure.  And therefore he took his departure*** and I went about my (slow†) business

This evening, firing up the laptop for the first time since about an hour after Raphael left . . . MY EMAIL IS DEAD.  I sent a suitably outraged text to Raphael who rang me from home, trying not to laugh, but it’s so dead he can’t talk me through a patch.

He’s coming again tomorrow, poor man.  The hellterror will be delighted.

* * *

* So is the dishwasher.^  This is a CALAMITY.  Peter, while admirably domestic in theory, and goes through the motions beautifully, belongs to that quaint British philosophy which holds that most household chores are performed for their ritual function, in which gesture, posture and the type and quality of your ceremonial objects are the crucial aspects, and hygiene has nothing to do with it.^^  AAAAAAAAAUGH.^^^

^ I mean the electric appliance.  Calm down.

^^ Yes.  British.  Sue me.  We have slobs in America—lots of slobs, in fact—but this business of faithfully and energetically applying the dish mop# to no discernable effect is British.

# That’s part of the problem right there.  Dish mop?

^^^ Also something previously living has taken its final departure from this mortal coil somewhere rather too nearby and we have the invasion of big fat bluebottle flies at the mews to prove it.  Yuck.#  The only thing to be said for having them in the middle of winter is that they’re really slow and you can just about whap them out of the air, should you want to, and not bother waiting for them to light somewhere.  I HAVE THREE DOGS AND NOT ONE OF THEM IS INTERESTED IN CATCHING FLIES.  It’s not a rabbit, say the hellhounds.  It’s not a hedgehog.  IT’S TOO HIGH UP, says the hellterror, whose pogosticking is not an exact science.##

# Peter, at the far end of the mews, which is very nice for those of us who sing a lot louder than we used to and don’t want to be heard by the neighbours, is slap up against farmland, and the farmer in this case is a slob, speaking of slobs.  Peter’s too nice to take her to court.  He could.

## I think I’ve told you—? the story of one of Peter’s in laws ringing us up in a panic, many years ago now, while we were still at the old house, because she was having a sudden invasion of bluebottles and was assuming The World Was Ending?  I happened to answer the phone.  Nah, I said, it’s just that something’s died in your vicinity.  If you have any closed-up chimneys or similar—especially if there’s a funny smell—it’s worth trying to find and dispose of it.  If not, buy an extra fly swatter and hunker down.  It’ll be over pretty soon—a few days, a week.   Oh thank you, she said.  I knew you’d know.


** Yes, Peter is still alive and breathing and his body parts remain in conformance to the standard arrangement.  Although he went to his Wednesday bridge club today and confessed when he came home that he had faded badly by the end.  You had a stroke a month ago.  Lighten up.^

^ I’m still not in a very good mood.  I’m being vouchsafed the honour of giving him a ride home from town tomorrow morning+ because he has to climb up the long hill to my end of town.  I’ll get the palanquin dusted off.++

+ Sic.  Late morning.

++ Hey.  We have four bearers.  Two hellhounds, a hellterror, and me.  I admit the height differential is tricky#, but we’ll figure something out.

# Not to mention hellterror directional control

*** After a brief frustrating conversation about Android tablets, because the tablet-sized homeopathic software I want is only on Android.  Fie.^

^ And while Astarte is a wonderful machine in many ways+, even Raphael has never managed to make her play nicely with PC-based email.  Speaking of frelling email.

+ I am presently reading another cheap ebook that I again bought for the author’s name when it appeared in one of the weekly Kindle come-ons and . . . . arrrrrrgh.  FOR PITY’S SAKE GET ON WITH IT.  It’s alternate history and they want you to know they have DONE THEIR HOMEWORK.  If this were hard copy I’d’ve thrown it across the room by now.  As it is the skimming swipe-finger is so seductive I may even finish it.  If reading one page in five counts as finishing.

† I’m due to go Street Pastoring this Friday and I’m going.  ME, are you listening?  You can knock me around two more days.  Friday night I have plans.

Easy Ways a Day Can Go Wrong Really Fast


I got to bed too late.*  I had Raphael coming in the morning so I had to get out of bed before the middle of the afternoon.**

I had a list for Raphael.  I always have a list.

There is apparently no way to turn OFF the wretched monster photos that have taken over everyone’s Twitter feed.  I’ll click on the photos I want to see, you know?  Stop frelling trying to make clawing my way through the last twenty-four hours even more of a ratbag.***

There is apparently no way to tell Windows 7 NO I FRELLING DO NOT WANT TO HANG AROUND ANOTHER TWENTY MINUTES WHILE YOU DO A FRELLING UPDATE, I WANT TO CLOSE DOWN, PUT MY LAPTOP IN MY KNAPSACK AND GO HOME.  You could on XP.  You could tell it, no, later, and it said, okay, you’re the boss, and shut down.

My email is a NIGHTMARE and there isn’t much Raphael can do about it.†  The settings all sit there sniggering behind their half-eaten address books and whimsical spam filters  saying, We’re all optimally configured!  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

When I finally got the poor patient hellhounds out†† there was not one but two off lead dogs in the churchyard, being ignored by two different irresponsible humanoid-shaped ratbags.  And the middle of town was jammed solid††† because Father Bloody Christmas had arrived and his grotto was open for business.

Maybe I’ll go to bed what passes for me as early with a good book or twelve.  Maybe I’ll even sleep.  That would make a change.

* * *

* Duuh.  In this case partly because I had loaded up my FABULOUS NEW EFFECTIVELY-IF-NOT-LITERALLY WIRELESS PRINTER with second-side paper and ran off a lot of knitting patterns.^  And when I pulled them out, having enjoyed the sound of a printer printing—no pings, no dings, no mysterious stoppages, no flashing lights, no screaming.  Just printing—I discovered that my new printer wants paper loaded with the already used side up.  Rather than down.  Oh.  My last several printers have wanted one-sided paper loaded BLANK side UP.

There was screaming after all.

And of course I had to do it all over again right then.  It couldn’t wait till morning^^.  A dozen knitting patterns I may never get to at all and certainly not any time soon since I have . . . um . . . several projects on needles already.  BUT I HAD TO PRINT THEM OFF LAST NIGHT.  YES.

^ Can some clever knitter person tell me if I could knit these on circular needles rather than DPNs?

I don’t do circulars+ but I really REALLY don’t do DPNs.  Just looking at them makes me think of deep puncture wounds and the TOTAL FAILURE I was at cat’s-cradle.

+ Have I told you this story?  After I started my big plain square JUST KEEP KNITTING winter scarf out of mind-blowingly gorgeous wool and silk yarn on circulars, thinking that it would be easier to manage that way and in less danger of spilling off too-short needles—broomstick-length needles don’t fit in your knapsack, and they probably won’t let you on public transport or in the bell tower where you’re a hazard to the already somewhat risky flying ropes—AND INSTEAD the wretched rows jammed every time they had to come back off the cable again and onto the working needle tips.  The needle tips also needed screwing back on every time I got the fabric shoved onto the cable again.  AND THEN, ONE DAY, ONE OF THE NEEDLE TIPS UNSCREWED ANYWAY.  MID ROW.  KNITTING ALL OVER THE LANDSCAPE.  There was screaming.

I gave up circulars forever that day.#  Interchangeable ones anyway.  I still have a few basic bamboo-and-plastic fixed ones that Fiona gave me early on, saying to me in soothing tones that I would like circulars once I’d tried them.  HA.  HA.  I’m sure the Romans told the Christians that the lions they were about to throw them to were pussycats really.  But I could try knitting a glove on fixed circulars.  You only cast on forty stitches, instead of a hundred and forty.##  And I’d quite like to try this seamless deal.

The interchangeables came as a Yaaay!  You SUBSCRIBED!### bonus from a knitting magazine.  Moral:  don’t subscribe to knitting magazines.

# And yes, I lost the two and a half or so inches of knitting I’d managed to wrench out of those ratblasted needles.  Which is when I found out that my beautiful yarn doesn’t rip back very well.

## Arrrrrrgh.

### Suckerrrrrrrrrrr.

^^ Or, you know, afternoon.

** I sent him a text at umph-plus o’clock asking him if he could please Not Be Early.  I hope he turns his phone off when he goes to bed.  Although he has three little kids:  he may never sleep at all.  Nadia has only two little kids and she never sleeps at all.

*** On the other hand I asked Twitter if there was a programme that would let me have more than one Twitter account open simultaneously and lovely Twitter people answered and I am now the more or less proud owner of a copy of Tweetdeck, which is already massively to be preferred in all the ways I can figure out. 

Speaking of the kindness of computer nerd strangers, has anyone reading this ever had their Word 7 randomly turn blocks of text into italic?  IT DRIVES ME FRELLING BANANACAKES.  ALSO CREAM PIES.  AND SOME COCONUT ONES WHILE WE’RE AT IT.  COCONUT IS RELIABLY BONKERS.  Sometimes it won’t turn off again:  you highlight it, click, and it judders sideways and back and . . . stays italic.  Sometimes it turns normal again as soon as you highlight it.  Sometimes this block goes normal and then you flick up a page and discover a different block of text has gone italic.  You tend to need a biggish block of text to set off whatever this is:  it doesn’t happen (yet) to individual blog entries, but it’s really REALLY bad with KES, which I keep in files of a dozen or so eps per, because single words of italic seem to set off the gremlin and there’s kind of a lot of italic in KES.^

Anyone else seen this?  Raphael looks at me warily when I tell him about it since (of course) I’ve never managed to reproduce it for him.

^ For some reason.

† Except maybe help me look at real estate ads for houses in areas with better broadband.

†† They don’t want to use the courtyard any more, even if they’re DESPERATE.  WE’RE NOT THAT DESPERATE, they say, crossing their legs harder.  The courtyard now belongs to the hellterror.

And, speaking of things going wrong, Raphael showed up before she was finished with her breakfast kong.  By the time she is finished, she, her bedding, the crate and the kong are METICULOUSLY FREE OF ANY SUBATOMIC PARTICLE OF FOOD.  But it’s a little messy on the journey.  I don’t like keeping her crated when there are Exciting Visitors, it doesn’t seem to me fair, so I got her out and clutched her frantically to my bosom as I let Raphael in and shooed him (and hellhounds) hastily upstairs.  I didn’t quite need a bath by the time I shut her back up with the remains of her breakfast.  Quite.

Hellterror has had a good day however.  After poor Raphael finally left to go attend to some normal, corporate client, we all went out to Warm Upford to put petrol in Wolfgang, and had a sprint around an empty sheep field before we came home.  Hellterror doesn’t get out to deep country all that often and she was ECSTATIC.  And I have two dislocated shoulders.  One from an ecstatic hellterror, and one from two hellhounds trying to elude the ecstatic hellterror.^

^ The next field over was not empty so I didn’t dare let them off lead to sort it out among themselves.

††† Mind you this is easy to do in a town this size



Darkness made it through the night* without further incident** and today (thus far) has been normal.***  Life with hellhounds:  a dizzying head trip with gruesome outbreaks of reality.  Fortunately my hellhounds are cute.  Warm and furry does me in every time, especially if there are wagging tails involved.

But I was on the phone to my vet at what passes in my case for an extremely early hour this morning.†  And, wonder of wonders he was not only there—he has a nasty habit of volunteering to do marsupial field surgery in Venezuela or chiroptera rehabilitation in Romania—but he took my call.  And I certainly had stuff to tell him.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief and cautious optimism †† when I hung up, and took my assortment of hellcritters on brisk brief hurtles because Raphael was coming to scold Astarte and tell her to stop jerking me around and losing or refusing to recognise my email . . . and of course she behaved faultlessly the moment his authoritative tread was heard BUT . . .

I’ve been moaning about my current printer for months if not years.  There are days when I can’t get it to print at all . . . and at this point it’s become one of the things that is making PEG II such a struggle.  But I can’t frelling afford a new printer.  Raphael had mentioned the new printer again when he booked to come out here and he just happened to have the one he was recommending in the boot of his car when he arrived.  Ha ha ha I’ve heard that one before.

Oh, I said.  Is it wireless?

It’s better than wireless, he said.  It’s on nice stable cable, but [blah blah blah, something to do with the wireless picking up the signal from any given computer—and including Astarte, who I haven’t been able to print from at all without the idiot faff of sending myself an email attachment—and translating it to the printer].  So as far as I’m concerned it’s wireless:  I don’t have to plug anything in I just HIT THE PRINTER BUTTON.


Of course I don’t know how long this blessed state of affairs will last††† but . . . maybe long enough to get PEGs II and III done.  Please. . . .

* * *

* How poetic, if you don’t know what I’m talking about

** Unless there’s a crack-to-the-next-universe, like the ruts in Kes’ driveway, in the bottom of the hellhound crate which they are careful to use in extremis.  On the whole I doubt this.  Although it might explain the occasional apparent disappearance of old dog blankets.

*** And he’s just had dinner and is curled up and crashed out, so we have crossed our fingers and are typing with great difficulty.

† It takes me a good hour of caffeine and deep breathing to be sufficiently re-engaged with modern life to be able to find a phone number and then punch it into some machine which includes telephony in its repertoire.  I usually try to get dressed before I do anything drastic like use a phone, since modern phones all have eight hundred and ninety-five options . . . and that’s just the preloaded ringtones.  I remember when making a phone call involved a phone or address book made of paper and a low-key lump of plastic that only made telephone calls.  Gone are the days etc.  Levi’s frelling button flies—the problem being that I like the jeans—are a big fat nuisance when you’re trying to have a quick pee in a hedgerow but doing them up first time in the morning is a useful station on the way to contemporary functionality.^  I don’t try to put any jewellery on^^ till much later:  all those horrible little clasps.^^^

^ It fascinates me, these people who allegedly reach for their iPhone or equivalent before they get out of bed.  Presumably this means they can, even in an unawake, precaffeinated state, turn the thing on, since there can’t be a lot of point to grappling with it if you’re not turning it on.+  The ridiculous truth is that Pooka usually does sit on a shelf by my bed (except when I forget) but if Peter ever did ring me in an emergency I’d be all is-this-a-dagger-which-I-see-before-me-the-handle-toward-my-hand-come-let-me-clutch-thee-I-have-thee-not-and-yet-I-see-thee-still.++

+ Okay, good luck charm maybe?  I’ve always thought rabbits’ feet totally ewwww and creepy.  A nice shiny piece of tech is to be preferred.

++ That was all one word.  Microsoft believes hyphens are sacred.

^^ And I’m a jewellery kind of girl, although I stopped wearing long ropey things that hellcritters can get their legs through years ago.

^^^ It’s nice to think that all those people who lived before the internet was invented didn’t have it all their own way.

† The problem with homeopathy for animals is that they don’t talk, and homeopathy depends on the sufferer’s individual experience of what is wrong with them which means that the homeopath needs to know what that is.  I’ve told you this before:  if three people come to a homeopath with ‘flu’ involving aches and pains and fever but one of them says that the worst is the headache, and one says the worst is the nausea and one says the worst is the sore throat, they’ll get three different remedies.  Although my hellhounds’ digestion is the presenting problem, ‘unpredictable outbreaks of double-ended geysering’ is of limited diagnostic usefulness^ and what Aethelstan was interested in is the ‘mentals’ in response to the first remedy, which were basically that Chaos got gloomy and lugubrious and Darkness got chirpy and cheerful, which is pretty much the opposite of their normal selves.

So that’s the hellhounds sorted with two fresh remedies.^^  Whereupon we came to the hellterror, and I told him depressedly about the disastrous show, and that Olivia had suggested that I might want to look for a behaviourist within my reach in the south of England.  And he said mildly, I don’t think you have a problem dog and I don’t think you need a behaviourist at this point.  I think you have a year-old puppy, a terrier, and an ordinary pet dog that had never seen anything like a big dog show before.  Aethelstan is a terrier person himself, so he has more of a clue than most of the other people I’ve spoken to about what happened.  You mean I’m not a bad person?  That would be wonderful.   I told him what I was doing off the long list of suggestions Southdowner made for giving Pav a wider experience of the world and he said he thought that sounded fine—while agreeing that we do need to address what he tactfully calls the ‘residual fear’ from her more important meltdown at the local vets’ last spring when she was so ill and miserable.  So she’s got a new remedy too . . . and I feel so much better about the whole situation I may venture on the perilous course of testing her long down at the dog-friendly pub soon.

^  There are pages and pages and PAGES of diarrhoea remedies in any homeopathic textbook.

^^ I wish.

†† I don’t think we’re at the end of any roads or anything, but at least I feel we’re moving again.

††† Or how I’m going to pay for it.

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