Yarrrrrggggh. I promised Blogmom a doodle update today. And I’ve had my head down over stuff today* SECURE in the knowledge that I had a dozen doodle photos to choose from as illustration for the unwelcome news that . . . yes, I’m still turning the poor neglected things out. I mean, no I’m not done, no, I didn’t put the final load in the post today. At the moment Third House is getting in the way of [ever snail-like] doodle production: the sad truth is that doodles are the first thing to be shoved back in a corner when life starts whapping me up longside the head again.**
I know. It’s been two years. Two years. In fact OVER two years.
I’m sorry. Which with £3 or so will buy you a Starbucks Gooey-o-rama with chocolate sprinkles and a paper parasol.
As I have said on more than one occasion on these virtual pages I WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER DO ANYTHING LIKE THIS AGAIN. But I will still ask Blogmom to set up a Doodle Shop when—and only WHEN—I get this ancient hoary backlog cleared. It’s not the doodles that are the problem: doodling, when I’m actually sitting there doing it, is fun. The problem is the doodler’s lack of a sense of time. Or lack of sense full stop.
So . . . I had twelve*** photos from which I would choose eight or ten to DEMONSTRATE that to the extent there was ever any touch to this silly business I haven’t lost it.† And when I stuck my memory card into my computer I discovered that I had had one of my UNUSUALLY CLUELESS MOMENTS, although I admit I have them rather a lot with this camera, and all but two of said doodle photos are dark grey and blurry. AAAAAAAAAUGH.
All right. That leaves two.
Oh. And Happy Thanksgiving.
* * *
* Well, and handbells. One of the many dumb things I feel guilty about is handbells, change ringing on handbells being one of the difficult frelling skills I have no frelling gift for that I’ve somehow managed to let myself get tangled up with.^ Having no (frelling) gift for it means I should spend more time studying and I, um, don’t. I don’t have time or I don’t have brain energy or I have too many dogs or [other explanations insert HERE]. But I like ringing handbells, except that it makes me feel even stupider than usual. So when Niall rings up and is insinuating my brain starts to explode. No! Yes! No! Yes! Noyesnoyesnoyesnoyes!!!! Niall, being Niall, only hears the yes part.
Niall rang up and was insinuating and heard ‘yes’. So we were going to ring handbells tonight. And then Colin’s builder discovered that the dumbleg trumwale^^ had morveldinky, and had to be FORKLED. RIGHT NOW. Which meant Colin wasn’t going to be able to get away early enough for handbells. OH THAT’S REALLY TOO BAD [I had no sleep last night and feel like death not at all well warmed over] I said, trying not to hiccup with delight.
And then I took Pav out for a supernumerary hurtle. She’s so self motivated that it’s rather too easy, when circumstances oppress, to decide that she expends enough energy in a relatively short space of time that merely getting underfoot counts to some extent.^^^
Pooka started barking at me as we were making our zigzag way home from Old Eden. Curses. Who invented mobile phones anyway.
It was Colin. The forkling had gone with unwonted dispatch. He was free for handbells after all.
So we rang handbells. THEY MADE ME CONDUCT. THEY MADE ME CALL THE FRELLING BOBS. AND THE EQUALLY FRELLING SINGLES.
^ Niall, you ratbag.
^^ It’s a particularly large and valuable dumbleg trumwale I believe.
^^^ No you may not eat my slippers. You may nest in the dirty laundry, you may not shred it. No you may not chew the corners of the furniture. No you may not chew any of the corners of any of the furniture. No you may not excavate the Ancient Magazine Pile under the kitchen table.+ No you may not wedge yourself under the tallboy++ to retrieve+++ the dustpan, the assortment of brushes, and Peter’s spare slippers.# No you may not torture hellhounds. No you may not torture me.
. . . At this point I frequently find myself thinking that it would be a lot simpler just to take her for an official hurtle and then feel justified in making her long down for a while.
+ This is a scary one.
++ I was HOPING she would get too big to do this.
+++ Retrieve, cough cough. Retrieve. Well, it starts with the retrieve.
# This list pertains to mayhem at the cottage.
** I know. It should be handbells. Although one of the reasons I don’t do my handbell homework is that if I have a few brain cells left at an unexpected time of day I don’t whip out a handbell method line, I whip out a pencil for a doodle.
*** No. Actually I had sixteen.
† Another way of saying this is that you can’t lose what you didn’t have.
The thing that amuses me is that that flowered paper on the far right appeared three times this birthday: people seem to think they know what I like. They would be right about this.
I was going to post birthday photos yesterday and then frelling Niall and his frelling handbells intervened. To put my tiny triumph into perspective, by the way, tonight at tower practise one of Forza’s good ringers was telling me excitedly that she’d rung her first full peal on twelve bells. In the tower, this is, so she was only ringing one bell, but she was standing up for three and a half hours to do it and it was some infernal surprise method—I don’t think anyone bothers to ring anything but Infernal Surprise on higher numbers of bells—so while I don’t think she rings handbells, and I did tell her about my quarter, it was still like telling someone who’s just earned a place in the Horse of the Year show that you won your walk-trot class at the local gymkhana.
Anyway. I wanted to get my NEW WATCH back from the jewellers before I posted photos: I needed about nineteen links taken out of the massive wristband* but I wanted the blog photo of it ON MY WRIST.
This is however slightly a lesson in ordering things on line. As soon as I discovered that pink gold [plate] and rhinestones were in in wristwatches I stopped looking at anything else. And as soon as I noticed this one had a day dial—I haven’t had a watch that told me the day of the week in decades, and I love having a watch that tells me what day it is: us stay at home free lancers can be seriously pathetic that way**—I knew this was the one. Also I love Roman numerals—Roman numerals and it tells me the day of the week?? And rhinestones? Be still my heart. I’ve never had anything half so fabulous.
And it is fabulous. It also weighs four ounces—a quarter of a frelling pound—and is nearly half an inch thick. I knew the face had to be big from the on line photo of everything that’s on it. I did not know wearing it would feel like having a pendant hellterror dangling from that wrist at all times, or that I couldn’t ring [tower] bells in it because it would hook the rope.*** I feel that someone somewhere along the design line absent-mindedly added a zero on the dimensions; and the giant-sized wristband is perfectly in keeping with the watch. It was originally made perhaps for the Brobdingnag market, where pink and rhinestones did not go over.
But it is definitely fabulous. And yes, those are rhinestones in the face as well as around the border: the border ones only look pink because they’re reflecting the pink gold.
You will now see me coming any time I have my sleeves pushed up.
Oh, and my favourite silly present from a friend:
In case I never find that blank needlework pillow I’m still covered. † This is one of the other things that arrived in that rose paper in the first photo. . . .††
* * *
* This was part of my running-around day yesterday. I also did thrilling things like buy vitamins. And puppy toys. There’s a very high rate of attrition in the puppy toy category.^
^ Ignorant, naïve people say to me, she’s not a puppy any more, she’s a year old! Hollow laughter. Whippets (and perforce whippet crosses) and bull terriers are apparently notorious for being slow maturers, but are there any dogs out there who are actually ADULT at a year old? I’ve never met one. I’m not planning to panic about the lifestyle of the adult bull terrier for at least another nine months.+
+ There is a fifteen-month-old puppy having a swell time with a bit of disintegrating sofa cover right now. She has however earned it: she long downed for AN HOUR with only occasional interventions. I can even get out of my chair to pour myself another cup of peppermint tea without her immediately bouncing to her feet to follow me.# Usually. ##
# Because any excuse will do.
## And having spent 90% of that hour stiff with outrage/misery/disbelief/despair, despite the comfy nest of towels at my feet and the fact that all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, if obliged by circumstance she is quite a good sleeper . . . upon release she spent ten minutes racketing around the house like an extra-large rhinoceros in a china shop . . . and is now completely crashed out on my lap, which practically speaking is a lot less comfy than the towel nest.
** Handbells are quite a useful way of keeping track of the passage of the days however because of the texts from Niall.
*** If I wear it for ringing handbells my left arm will become twice as large and muscular as my right. I suppose I could swap wrists to a carefully balanced schedule.
† Whoever said I’d have trouble finding one . . . you’re right. WHY? There must be other people out there who’d like to choose their own Words to Live By.
†† Bratsche, I’ll post a photo of my dress TOMORROW.^
^ If I forget, nag me.
. . . It’s that communication problem again. . . . I thought the comment about engineering texts was funny. But I did feel dumb about my shock over the empty dish. Of course I knew the hob was there. . . .
It must have been good writing.
YES. DEFINITELY. IT WAS DEFINITELY THE GOOD WRITING. Also may I say you’re reading it in the spirit in which it was intended. If you give a story its head and let it run away with you, you will be surprised at the things the story wants you to be surprised about. It doesn’t have to be a big surprised. Just a little ‘you’re the boss’ surprised. When you close the book (or the ereader-of-choice case) you think, why was I surprised about that? Of course the villain was going to tie the hopelessly wet heroine-facsimile to the railroad tracks. And of course her dishy true love is going to arrive in time and untie her . . . and whap the villain up longside the head while she’s at it, and then order her hopelessly wet girlfriend to take those frelling self-defense classes. Of course. You’d have seen it a mile away, if you hadn’t been letting the story have its way with you. Which is a very nice thing in a reader. Just by the way.
As for ‘seventy is the new fifty,’ a cousin blithely emailed that to me. A much younger cousin. I growled back at him, via email. I’ve spent seventy years growing up. I’ve left a number of difficulties behind and collected more that I’ll never leave behind. I want to now say, “I’m 70, I can’t/don’t want to/won’t do that anymore.” Don’t tell me now I have to wait another twenty years.
YES. I COULDN’T AGREE MORE.* Granted I’m only sixty (-one) but the principle has been manifesting itself in my life for some time. I’m not crazy about the wrinkles and the horrible squidgy sagging skin—I’m especially not crazy about the skin, but I’ve had awful skin all my life**, why should it change for the better now—and the memory that makes a snapped rubber band look like the much-desired steel trap, and the stealthily accumulating assortment of aches and pains. But they absolutely beat being young and clueless and having all those frelling mistakes yet to make. Granted some people make fewer mistakes than others . . . some of us make LOTS AND LOTS MORE than others . . . but everybody makes some. And I made a few that it’s worth being thirty or forty years older to be thirty or forty years away from. And a lot of that thirty or forty years has been pretty interesting in its own right.
When I have ‘What the?’ moments, I just think, why SHOULD I expect to understand everything?
Everything? I don’t want to understand everything because then I’d be God and I have enough trouble being responsible for three hellcritters. I wouldn’t like reigning over all of creation at all. But it would be nice to understand one or two things occasionally. And I feel the labelling and signposting system could be expanded a good deal.
. . . BTW- are there publishing rules on having the same exact title as another author?
Ah yet another query about my life’s work that I can’t answer. Generally speaking, however, no. I imagine that if you named your book Qzhhgorgum because it was about a race of creatures called qzhhgorgum which you invented, you’d have some kind of copyright protection against someone else calling their book Qzhhgorgum: the Doodah, or possibly even Qzzhhgorgim: the Semi-Original, as well as the line of merchandise including the fuzzy earmuffs (qzhhgorgum have four ears) in a range of exciting decorator colours and the frying-pans with the specially adapted handles (qzhhgorgum have four fingers and four thumbs) and . . .
. . . Ahem. But—still generally speaking—you’re going to avoid, if at all possible, having the same title as somebody’s else book for all the obvious sales and marketing reasons. It happened to me once: ROSE DAUGHTER started life as ROSE COTTAGE. And then Mary Stewart came along in the same frelling year and from the same frelling publishing house. I grant you that ROSE DAUGHTER is a much better title for my book*** than ROSE COTTAGE would have been, but at the time I was not at all happy when my publisher told me I had to change it.
. . . I feel I need to stand up for linoleum. It is not anything to do with vinyl, but a wonderful floor covering made from naturally occurring substances. (The lino bit of the name is from linseed oil.)
I actually knew that about linseed oil. But I didn’t google it first, and would have said if I were asked that it was probably one of those things that originally had linseed oil in it and the name was still being used, like ‘knitting wool’ may in fact be acrylic. And I wouldn’t have been surprised if the linseed oil part was an urban myth and people who knew better fell down laughing if you said there was a floor covering with linseed oil in it.
Its trendy new name is marmoleum.
. . . And I did not know it still existed. I do know that my floor-installers got very huffy when I said lino, and insisted that theirs was the much superior . . . um, vinyl.
Vinyl is a much easier material to install and is waterproof, but all the eco credentials are with lino.
Yes. Sadly the vinyl pongs. I want to believe that you stop smelling it not because human noses aren’t very good but because it stops off-gassing SOON after it fulfils its purpose and becomes a floor.
To find out more, can I recommend the fabulous linoleum museum at Kirkcaldy. (If you are not a lino fan, it also has an amazing collection of Scottish colourist paintings.)
Okay, now I am going to fall down laughing. A small Scottish museum specialising in . . . lino and the Scottish Colourists. I wonder if there’s a B&B in the area that takes hellcritters. Several hellcritters.
But I don’t like eating in a group and I resent being forced to do so…
Ah, my mistake. I misconstrued the problem. Preferring not to eat in groups is totally a different deal than dietary requirements. I can’t say for sure how I would deal with it, since we’ve always been upfront that dinner is part of what we do and I assume that people who don’t like to eat in groups join a group that is a better fit for them. . . .
It’s the Curse of the Talking Fingers thing again I think: if we’d been speaking face to face we’d’ve had this sorted before we knew there was anything to sort. I’ve never been a happy social eater but I’ve grown worse about eating in groups as I’ve got older and have less slack for making bad guesses about food—both what’s in it and if I’ll get away with eating it. And I used to do a lot of cooking ESPECIALLY BAKING and I used to like feeding people, a select few at a time. Any more, eh, well, putting together one of my gigantic mixing-bowl-ful lunch salads takes a surprising amount of time, even after Peter washes the lettuce. Before I sound too pathetic, I miss communal food philosophically more than literally: my life abhors a vacuum at least as passionately as Mother Nature ever did, and time that I might once have filled with baking brownies tends to silt up with other activities.†
There’s another thing to keep in mind: I’m not at my best and brightest at (usually) mmph o’clock in the morning when I’m writing this thing and I hope none of you are at your best and brightest when you’re reading it and, if I’m lucky, making amusing/interesting/engaged comments on the forum. It’s a blog. It’s only a blog. So we’re all going to misstate ourselves from not being awake yet/enough or because our minds are on the funny noise upstairs/the funny noise from the dog bed/whether or not to ask the cute cop for his phone number/whether or not to ask the cute cop for her phone number/etc. It happens. I hope we’ll all live. Especially me, since odds are overwhelmingly that I screw up the most.
* * *
* Except about the good writing. I agree even more about the good writing.
** Although if anyone had ever heard of dairy allergies forty-eight years ago I might have been able to miss out both the pizza-faced stage and a lot of by-the-time-I-figured-it-out, lifetime-established digestive mayhem, and focussed on the stunning variety of rogue rashes. Yes I know I’m oversimplifying.
*** Thank you Peter
† Handbells, perhaps. It was to laugh, tonight. Gemma had brought her husband, who claims for some inexplicable reason to want to learn to ring handbells. There were FIVE of us which was pretty amazing—especially wedged into my tiny cottage sitting-room—and trying to get five people properly rung in takes a while. Niall finally had to leave in something of a hurry to go be ringing-master at the tower and didn’t have a chance to do his Diary Trick and browbeat all of us into another meeting. The four of us remaining all sat around chatting^ instead of dutifully going along to tower practise. . . . hee hee hee hee hee.
^ And eating brownies. Just by the way.
Niall so has your number.
Yep. I expect the insinuating texts to start up any minute.
The last few weeks . . . months . . . have not been splendid in every way. You hear about most of the bloggable stuff*; I assume it will not surprise you that quite a lot of screaming, throwing things and hiding under the bed happens off line and stays off line. Arrrgh. I also make periodic attempts to yank my life into something more nearly resembling order** which always involves . . . less. Less doing stuff. Less running around. Less overbooking myself because there seems to be white space in the diary.*** Less signing up for new stuff.† Less acquiring stuff.†† Less less less less less.†††
However. In the scrum of failing to become organised, things get lost.‡ I’ve barely been ringing handbells all summer. Initially I had made a laudable attempt to cut back on how much handbell ringing I did, not least because it’s seriously brain-draining and I do need to reserve a few of my easily-tapped-out brains for other purposes: earning a living, for example. But cutting back on handbells went a bit wrong. Colin kept frelling going on frelling holiday‡‡ and then Gemma kept going on holiday‡‡‡ and then, I don’t know, I lost the plot. I had some ME days, I had various eruptions like Ms OTP, my dogminder quit/fired me, and the Street Pastor training was rather involving.
And then we rang handbells for that wedding on Saturday and I was thinking, eh, handbells, and I looked in my diary and there was a small timid handbells?, with a question mark after in this week’s diary for today. Thursday is the Colin-and-Niall day: Colin and Niall who can ring anything, or at least anything I’ve ever heard of. So on Monday I texted Niall. And for some reason he thought handbells on Thursday was a good idea. And—even more amazing—Colin wasn’t on holiday.
I haven’t rung anything but frelling bob minor and some teaching-type methods in yonks and here was my opportunity. I decided I had three options: I could brush up on my St Clements, my Kent, or my Cambridge.§ I threw Cambridge out at once. It’s way the hardest, although it’s also the one I’ve spent the most time trying to learn and I was nearly there when life started happening in a handbell-unfriendly way. I was a little wistful about Cambridge but I was sure this was the right choice for starting up again.
That left St Clements, which is really only a bob minor variation§§, and Kent, which is kind of the gentle approach to Cambridge.§§§ It was going to be fine. I half-knew them both already, I just had to drag that half-knowledge out of the shadows#, dust it off, and start sticking it to its other half.
Or halves. And therein lies my TERRIBLE MISTAKE. I didn’t look at them together. I did not look at them in relation to each other—a method is a method; it doesn’t matter what some other method is—and I therefore didn’t notice that the beginnings of these two methods are as if malignly meant to confuse the living doodah-whatsit out of you. Can I explain this in a way a non-handbell-ringer will understand?## Three people ring six bells. Each row consists of all six bells ringing once each. Each bell can move only one place from one row of six to the next row of six. So if in row one you rang in thirds and fourths place, your third-place bell can ONLY ring in either second or fourths next row and your fourth-place bell can ONLY ring in either thirds or fifths. Or stay in the same place, which is also permitted.
I’m ringing the trebles, the first pair, which are the easiest pair in most ordinary methods because the no.1 bell has the easiest path through the method, so when you start ringing touches where the pattern gets messed up by the conductor’s calls, only your second bell is affected. The first bell toils on doing what it always does and never mind how explosive the other five may become.
The problem for me was the first frelling leads of Kent and St Clements are like the evil antipathetic twins of each other. Like that extremely subtle Star Trek The Original episode where these two guys really hate each other because one of them is black down the right side and white down the left and the other one is black down the left side and white down the right. Kent is a treble-bobbing method which means the treble has a different basic unaffected line through the diagram than St Clements does. And furthermore bell no.2 in both methods hangs around the front for a long time before it heads out to the back, but in St Clements its location in the row goes: 1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2 and in Kent it goes 1-1-2-2-1-1-2-2-1-1-2-2.
Okay, you have no idea what I’m talking about. Let me be succinct: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH.
By the time Colin and Niall arrived this afternoon I couldn’t ring anything.
But by the end of the afternoon I was ringing little tiny, and perhaps somewhat lumpy, TOUCHES of St Clements. We even essayed a small bit of spliced, which is where you change frelling METHODS in the middle of a touch, and we did not crash and burn, which is to say I did not crash and burn.
It was fun.
Whereupon Niall got his diary out and said, well, we can ring major [eight bells] tomorrow, because Gemma and Jillian are both available.
I can’t do tomorrow, I said.
Can we meet here again? said Niall, staring at his diary.
I told Gemma at tower practise on Wednesday that I couldn’t do this Friday, I said.
I’ll text her, said Niall. We start at 5:30, okay?
I thought about it. When I cut back on my handbells, I said I was going to ring only once a week. If I rang Thursday, I wasn’t going to ring Friday. This Friday . . . I was supposed to go to a dog show. Southdowner is still trying to convince me that it would be fun to take the hellterror to some breed classes.###
But I can’t go because I don’t have a dogminder to cosset hellhounds in my absence.
Okay, I said. Five-thirty.
Niall smiled. Evilly.
* * *
* Occasionally there’s so frelling much of it I don’t get around to all of it.
** Not very nearly resembling order. In fact not nearly at all. Just slightly resembling order.
*** Very misleading, white space in the diary.
† First Street Pastors duty night in a fortnight. Eeep.
†† Fewer hellcritters, say. Oops^.
^ And we’re not even going to discuss bookshelves.
††† More sleep would be nice however. Which is to say when I manage to be in bed with the lights out and my eyes shut I should be ASLEEP.
‡ Just had an email from Merrilee reminding me of something I’d promised for a fortnight ago. Something on deadline. AAAAAAAUGH. I don’t even remember which catastrophe derailed this, I emailed to her. I know, she replied. That’s why I’m here.
‡‡ What did he think it was, summer? What did he think he was, retired?
‡‡‡ Who did she think she is? A woman with a big family she wants to spend time with?
§ They’re METHOD NAMES, okay?
§§ You know, like the Hammerklavier Sonata is only a variation of Chopsticks.
§§§ And a partridge in a pear tree is the gentle approach to sending your true love round the twist by day twelve.
# I have a serious word-usage problem any more, with a hellhound named Darkness and a book named SHADOWS.
## Let alone care.
### Probably closely related to the fun of destroying your brain with handbells.
If you’d asked me a month ago I’d have said KES PART ONE won’t make it to episode 120. If you’d asked me a fortnight ago I’d’ve said it would be over by ep one-twenty.
I’m writing one-nineteen now. It’s not going to be over by one-twenty.
IS ANYONE SURPRISED IT’S RUNNING LONG? ANYONE?
I didn’t think so.
Perhaps it’s still a bit too early to say this, but I was rather fearful that Kes wouldn’t actually make it inside Rose Manor, and that she’d instead end up elsewhere.
IT’S TOO EARLY TO SAY THIS. Mwa hahahahahahahaha.
It’s only her first night. They’re letting her off the hook (sorta). Second night… anything could happen (and probably will at this rate. LOL)
The SECOND night?!? Are you kidding? The first night has barely BEGUN.**
Besides, the poor hob needs his milk. (Her milk? Its milk? Are hobs generally male?)
The only ones I’ve felt a personal connection to (chiefly William Mayne’s and Katherine Briggs’) have been male. That said . . . erm . . . and some day I have to dig my Tam Lin retelling out again. That has a hob in it too. Of (currently) unknown gender.
…I’ll be on pins and needles for poor Kes till the next chapter!
Depending on how you’re defining ‘chapter’, I suggest you figure out a way to get comfortable. . . .
When I moved here, I moved alone because my husband was still working where I’d come from . . . Slept on the floor. Woke up the next morning to the town-wide news that the town had, overnight, its second murder in its entire existence.
SNORK. Sorry. One shouldn’t laugh at murder but . . . only you, EMoon, would have a story like that about a first night in a new house. Have you ever considered writing fiction?
The hob’s milk was gone.
(I’ve only been worrying about the poor hob getting fed since he (or she) first helped out with the faucet.)
Hey. This is a MCKINLEY story. What did you THINK would happen?!
The hob’s milk was gone.
This isn’t a cliffhanger. I feel like I came right up to the cliff and dropped over it.
You do? Golly. I thought this early story-arc of the hob was dead obvious. Dead obvious isn’t necessarily bad—see previous response: OF COURSE I’m going to feed a friendly hob—but it’s usually, erm, obvious. You must read too many engineering texts or something and your eye has got out for fiction.
I love this story. I don’t think I want it to go any faster. I don’t want it to end.
OH GOOD. Since we seem to be headed in that direction.*** Pacing and storytelling speed are funny things. I like leisurely, filling-in-the-background storytelling as a reader† so it’s not surprising that those are the kinds of stories I tell as a writer. But there are people out there who would rather things happened a little faster. Sorry.
Very glad there seem to be enough of you dilatory types to keep me and the hellcritters in munchies. Very glad.
* * *
* Also, speaking of siiiiiiiigh, this being so tired I could die thing HAS GOT VERY OLD. VERY, VERY, VERY OLD. Also the insomnia, which probably has a little something to do with the tired.^ Also the thrice-frelling aches and pains.^^ I can see all you other victims of chronic auto-immune syndrome ratbaggery nodding sympathetically. Arrrrrrrgh. You only get one life, why do you have to mess with—or be messed with by—this kind of superfluous crap?
^ I know I’ve ranted this rant to you before but it continues to be so flapdoodling apposite. I’m an alternative-medicine adherent and barring broken bones and/or bleeding to death I’m pretty much a keep-away-from-me-with-that-thing anti-adherent of conventional medicine. But as I read my alt books—chiefly but not exclusively homeopathy—I keep tripping over some form or other of the ‘wisdom of the body’ philosophy. SNARL. If the frelling body were so frelling wise it wouldn’t wind itself up into paroxysms of insomnia when it really really really needs sleep.+
+ Valerian doesn’t help me sleep and gives me a vicious hangover. Chamomile tea tastes pleasant but doesn’t do anything, and I’m rather conscious of the fact that ODing on chamomile makes you crankier. There’s only so much cranky one mortal frame can contain. I’m allergic to milk, warm or otherwise. I’ve been through meditation and yoga, and while that was before the ME took up residence, I’ve had spells of insomnia all my life and neither technique did anything about it.# When the insomnia is bad I am rather prone to nodding off in the prayer-space however, which shares certain things in common with the meditation-space. At the monks’ this is embarrassing and at home I just wake up again.
# Although I’ve been meaning for twenty-two years to start doing yoga again, since that’s one of the things that got (inadvertently) left behind in America.
^^ Since you ask, ringing handbells for the wedding yesterday went very well, thank you. I think ringing the wedding party out of the church with the organ blasting away was probably mostly a wasted effort+ but they had a sort of pre-reception reception in the big glamorous church hall after, so Gemma, Niall and I went and stood in a corner and were the romantic string quartet substitute. We were a little more audible in a corner of the hall++ and this was a startlingly polite and/or intelligent group. People only asked questions when we weren’t ringing. Gemma has very classy friends. Gemma, by the way, did amazingly well. She had a bad five-second brain blank at the very beginning and after that, except for worrying—and some nods and winks from Niall—she was fine. I saw her today at afternoon service ring at Forza and she said she had lots of very nice comments about us.+++
As were my stupid hands and arms fine, more or less. I was thinking about this, as one does, that my arms and hands were hurting when we started and the first thing that happened was that they instantly got worse, and I was standing there gritting my teeth and thinking shut up and COPE . . . and they did. By the end they were very little worse than when we’d started, and half an hour ringing Sunshine’s-cinnamon-rolls-sized handbells is a lot of big handbell ringing. This is the kind of thing that gives a lot of the murky auto-immune, poorly defined and even more poorly understood diseases/syndromes a bad name. If whatever is wrong with me is plain ordinary straightforward strain/inflammation/doodah it should get worse from rapidly raising and lowering several pounds of bells—with enough of a wiggle every stroke to make them sound crisply—for half an hour. Mind over matter is film at eleven, Elvis Ate My Dead Alien Baby, stuff. It’s not that it doesn’t happen, but it doesn’t happen like this.
+ Although Oisin keeps saying that organ is underpowered for the size of the church, and having now heard it in full roar I’m inclined to agree. It’s still a lot louder than six handbells. Even six big handbells.
++ Although not as audible as a string quartet would have been. We were also what passes in the bell-ringing community for well paid . . . although still not in the string-quartet category.
+++ Great. Hire us. We’re cheaper than a string quartet. We’d still be cheaper even if there were four of us.
** Mwa hahahahahahahaha, etc.
*** Muffled siiiiiiiiiiiigh.
† Especially in F&SF. Both because you can’t make assumptions and because it’s interesting. Or it better be.