Fiona and I had a Yarn Adventure today. And about time too: we haven’t seen each other since November. Life: what a ratbag.
Admittedly there is usually a high gremlin count when Fiona and I get together but today they weren’t half trying. We were going to set off at two, which in our case usually means before 2:30, well, maybe, if we’re lucky. Fiona usually texts me as she leaves the house*.
No text. Well, whatever, and we got on with hurtling and then with feeding me**.
Still no text. Prepare to feed critters, since I was going to put it down as I left. Sometimes this intrigues hellhounds sufficiently to stimulate them to eat.
Still no text.
Dither. Feed critters.***
Okay, now I’m worried. I have checked Pooka several times. Nothing.
I’ve hung the laundry and washed all the lunch dishes† which is of course nicer to come home to but WHERE IS FIONA?
Pooka barks, and I make a slightly dish-soapy dive for her. I have the feeling my texts aren’t getting through, says Fiona’s voice. I HAVEN’T HEARD ANYTHING FROM YOU SINCE LAST NIGHT TILL THIS PHONE CALL.
Well, I’ll be there in three minutes, she said. And as she rang off, Pooka chirruped and SEVEN MESSAGES POPPED THROUGH. ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH.
The day improved from there however. Our chosen yarn shop was having a MOVING TO NEW PREMISES sale and . . .
I’ve been wanting FEARLESS KNITTING for yonks but, you know, it persists in being full price. The dark auburn yarn is Debbie Bliss Winter Garden which I have also wanted for yonks but it’s too frelling expensive, and the green and gold down front is Louisa Harding Grace Hand Beaded which etc. And the other stuff is just . . . um . . . shiny? And when a pattern book only costs £2 you only need to like one pattern in it. . . .
* * *
* This text will read ‘I’m running a little late because . . .’ Mind you, if she’s not running late, I’m in deep trouble.^ Today’s non-arriving text however informed me that her car had broken down and she was negotiating to borrow her parents’.
^ The hellhounds would like this. It might mean I didn’t have time to FEED them before I left. The hellterror, of course, would chew her way through the front door and come after me if I tried any such thing but I wouldn’t DARE. Also feeding the hellterror is easy. Open nearest tin, throw contents in general hellterror direction, add a handful of kibble if you’re feeling persnickety, and don’t stand too close or she’ll eat the toes off your shoes. The hellhounds . . . it starts with cutting up the chicken scraps SMALL ENOUGH that Chaos, in particular, who has prehensile lips, can’t just hoover up the chicken, and you need to stir the kibble in really well because any that has not been touched by the magic chicken-stock wand will be instantly rejected as dry and tasteless and beneath delicate hellhound dignity.
Unfortunately for them, however, I had allowed time for the careful creation of appropriate hellhound comestibles. It didn’t work though. They still didn’t eat it.+ That look in Chaos’ eyes says: if you didn’t mix it in so well I’d’ve at least eaten the chicken.
+ Do I have to bother to tell you that the hellterror ate hers? No? I didn’t think so.
** Moans of protest from the hellterror who is, furthermore, sitting on my feet, just to make sure I haven’t forgotten her. YOU JUST ATE BREAKFAST TWO HOURS AGO. YOU ARE NOT STARVING. Also, sitting on my feet is counterproductive. You are heavy. You are obviously getting plenty to eat.^
^ I was out hurtling hellhounds recently.+ People frequently stop us to be goopy over them. Mostly their admirers stick to telling me how beautiful they are, but occasionally someone wants to find it funny that we’re all skinny and leggy. Hellhounds are also now quite grey in the face so we’re all skinny, leggy and old. But some dork came up to us the other day and was in grave danger of rupturing himself over the sheer hilarity of owners who look like their dogs.++ I stared him in the eye. I have a bull terrier at home, I said. I did not mention the ‘mini’ part. He stopped laughing and edged away prudently.
+ In my life I can always say I was out hurtling hellhounds recently. And hellterror.
++ I wondered what his frelling problem is. I have no idea, of course, but he was a big flashy maybe forty-ish dork, and looked a bit like someone who was maybe rolling into midlife crisis and in a mood to be snarky about some post-menopausal hag who is refusing to stay home with her TV and her memories but is out cluttering up the pavement wearing jeans, All Stars and long hair, and walking her dogs like she thinks she still has a purpose in life. I don’t like big flashy forty-ish dorks who think looming over me and being scornful is a fun thing to do.#
# Speaking of testosterone poisoning, yesterday I was creeping up the hill to the mews in Wolfgang, which little journey is another of those absolutes in my life, going at 30 mph which happens to be the speed limit. And I was passed by five motorcycles. FIVE. Streaking past, whing whing whing whing whing. What the what the what the I can’t even. And there is all this bushwa about how cars are supposed to be careful of motorcycles. I don’t know if this is nationwide or just around here, but there are posters all over the landscape saying THINK BIKE. How about if BIKERS think at all? I’ve been a motorcyclist, as long-term readers of this blog know, and it is absolutely true that people driving cars can be amazingly stupid and dangerous about bikers and this is a large part of the reason I stopped driving a bike while I still had all my body parts intact . . . but the frelling majority of the motorcycle accidents around here are caused by male bikers being assholes: yesterday at least I was only going 30. Being passed by some dinglenut on a 60 mph road that is only just two lanes wide with hedgerows on either side . . . going around a curve? Yes. I have.
*** Ecstasy of the Hellterror.
† Except, of course, hellhound bowls, since they haven’t eaten anything.
So, all this time I’ve clawed back by no longer writing a blog every night? Has disappeared without trace. Of course.
Today, for example, it has disappeared without trace by my having spent NEARLY TWO HOURS IN DENTIST FROM R’LYEH’S CHAIR OF DREADFUL TORMENT. Owwwwwww.*
Yesterday it disappeared because . . . MAJOR TRUMPET FLOURISH . . .
MY NEW WASHING MACHINE FINALLY ARRIVED.
This wasn’t easy. Even leaving out the amount of time I spent researching** frelling washing machines*** I was so freaked out by the PRICE of the one that was going best to cope with all the hair in this household† that I put off ordering it for most of another fortnight. Peter had grown a bit testy about my usurping his washing machine so I decided in that non-decision way that I hope most people who read this blog have experienced for themselves, that I would merely accumulate dirty laundry because, after all, I was going to buy a washing machine. Fortunately I have a lot of clothes†† although the hellpack is down to pretty much its final lot of bedding.†††
I had a four-hour delivery slot booked for Wednesday morning during which I paced the floor and wondered what I was going to do when the delivery persons Viewed the Situation and said they couldn’t do it. The Winter Table is still up because I’m still fetching recently-arrived-and-potted-up little green things indoors when the temperature starts re-enacting the Pit and the Pendulum. Plus there’s a hellterror crate since the last time any major kitchen appliances were brought in or out. Also, washing machines weigh. My last appliant purchase was the refrigerator—refrigerators weigh nothing. I can lift a refrigerator‡. A washing machine I can barely shove back into its corner when it starts walking across the floor. And they were going to have to wrestle the new marvel up the narrow flight of stairs with the black iron railing from street level to the front door, around the sharp 180 degree bend into the kitchen—and, while they were making that turn, lift it over the puppy gate, which is bolted to the wall.‡‡
They came. They viewed the situation. Their eyes got rather large. They withdrew to the street and muttered between themselves while I wrung my hands and thought dire thoughts about washboards and rocks in rivers.
BUT THEY DID IT.
I tipped them lavishly. They were, to their credit, startled, and I said: what was I going to do when you looked at this kitchen and said that getting large heavy camels through eyes of needles one storey up, over Becher’s Brook and at a 180° angle wasn’t in your job description?
I hope they got together and bought their wives a nice bottle of champagne.‡‡‡
* * *
* I won’t tell you what this thrilling^ experience did to my bank balance. OWWWWWWWWWWWWW.
^ I have told you, haven’t I, that the wonders of scuba diving are Forever Closed to Me on account of the number of hours I have spent in Dentist from R’lyeh’s chair staring at the video loop of tropical fish on the TV screen on the ceiling? I totally support+ the presence of distracting video on a TV screen on the ceiling. And I can forfeit scuba diving. Even though the fish are pretty fabulous. I’m grateful it’s not opera or BUFFY reruns.
+ And I do. See main footnote *
** You have to figure it’s going to be an important member of the family for at least a decade so, especially when it lives in the kitchen of your very small house, which happens also to be the room that (a) you spend the most time in (b) the main beds of your three fur factories^ indwell, which helps to explain (a)^^, you and it had better be good friends. ^^^
^ Note also: fur factories
^^ Remind me to tell you the Pav’s Bed in My Office story. Sigh.
^^^ Peter had Radio 4 on recently when it was a programme on psychological problems and the discussion was about hoarding disorder, which is apparently defined as an inability to throw things away to the point where the accumulation gets in the way of normal function. Hmmmm. One of the things they mention is when you can’t get into your bed because of all the stuff on it? Feh. I can still get in my bed . . . I may have to roll some of the books, knitting magazines and homeopathic journals over a little . . . and it’s true I’m an uncharacteristically quiet sleeper. But I was really thinking about this after I’d cleared off+ the old washing machine and the refrigerator, which was going to have to move to get it out, and had nowhere to put anything.
+ Mostly the stuff on top, which was in layers. But I also stripped off all the kitchen magnets . . . which fill a mixing bowl. A small mixing bowl . . . but still a mixing bowl. Not a cereal bowl or a soup bowl. You could definitely get a batch of muffin batter out of this bowl. I often have.
*** I think I told you I joined WHICH? http://www.which.co.uk/ just so I could read their washing machine reviews? They’ve got this clever hook-the-sucker system where you only have to pay £1 for a month of membership, including a copy of the magazine and free access to their gigantic site—and individual phone support for ‘consumer and finance issues’ which bait really attracted me after my recent scary, infuriating and demoralising banking experiences—and at the end of the month if you forget to cancel they quietly make you a full-price member because, after all, you gave them your credit card number for the £1. Fine. They got me. The magazine is full of interesting stuff. And now I’m researching juicers. ^
^ Everyone see this report? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10735633/Healthy-diet-means-10-portions-of-fruit-and-vegetables-per-day-not-five.html Good luck getting this one over to Person in the Street. But it is one of those Why [mild] ME Is A Good Thing Really moments. I have evolved, over the past sixty-one years, from a few frozen peas and a leaf of iceberg lettuce style reluctant veg eater to a major rabbit+. And in the last fourteen years—since the ME felled me—I am eating ten a day++. It’s a life style, okay? You get used to it. And I like broccoli.+++ I’m more inclined to take this report seriously—ten a day does seem like kind of a lot for someone who doesn’t already have chronic health issues—because they make the point that vegetables are more important. Yes. A large glass of orange juice with your chocolate croissant is not the same as a large bowl of broccoli . . . er, probably not with your chocolate croissant. I’d like to hear a little more about ‘juice is worthless’ however. Out of a carton, maybe. But I’d’ve said there’s pretty good substantiation for the belief that the Juicer Phenomenon is worthwhile. Although it’s another life style. At some point you have to wonder what you’re preserving your life for if you’re spending all your time preserving it.
+ Unfortunately my teeth don’t keep growing. That would solve a lot of problems, if the cavities just grew out and you could gnaw them off. Carrots are a lot cheaper than Dentist from R’lyeh.
++ Except occasionally when I’ve been in the Chair of Dreadful Torment and can’t chew.
† There isn’t nearly as much of mine but mine is LONG. You’d have to line up like fifty-three of Pav’s for an equivalent pilose factor. Pav, however, has plenty to spare.
†† Which is what happens when you like clothes, have been more or less the same size for nearly forty years, and have hoarding disorder.
††† There is less of this than there might be because the hellterror—like the hellhounds before her—used to eat hers When She Was a Puppy, which, of course, now being almost tw‡‡o years old she is not. Cough. Cough. But she did give up eating her bedding somewhere around her first birthday—which is better than can be said for Chaos.
‡ Well. I can lift a dwarf under-the-stairs size refrigerator.
‡‡ Because I was tired of it falling over every time Chaos stood up and put his forepaws on it. Which, being a rather dim sweetheart, he never took advantage of, and Darkness is above that kind of thing. Pav, however . . . it’s a good thing it was bolted in by the time Pav arrived.
‡‡‡ Or, possibly, husbands.
I was supposed to be going to a concert tonight. Well, I was supposed to be going to a concert tomorrow night, only I kept forgetting, because Saturday night is Monk Night* and that there might be something else going on doesn’t register unless you nag me relentlessly**. So by the time I remembered—chiefly because I was going to be seeing the friend who was singing in it and wanted me to come—it had sold out. Never mind, she said, come to the dress rehearsal. Which I would probably have enjoyed more anyway because it’s more of the nuts and bolts of putting on a performance***.
It has not been a brilliant day. I went with Peter when he saw his GP this morning, and the frelling doctor was forty five minutes late without explanation or apology.† Sound of Robin scraping herself off the walls since Peter likes his doctor and I don’t want to disturb this desirable situation by, for example, putting said doctor through the clinic paper shredder.†† Then Peter and I had our usual Friday foray to the farmers’ market, to which I bring the hellhounds so they were okay, but I got back to the cottage finally and very late to an EXTREMELY CRANKY HELLTERROR who had to be soothed by . . . well, give her a dog biscuit and she’s your slave for life, or at least till the next dog biscuit, but I figured I owed her a good walk.†††
Meanwhile I’d had a text from Niall reminding me that the much-neglected-by-me Friday handbells were occurring tonight at 5:30 as usual . . . I’d already texted him back that I was coming, after which I was going to have to rip off to the concert. Good thing I don’t write the blog every night any more, I thought, harnessing up hellhounds for their pre-handbell sprint.
. . . And Darkness has the geysers again. WAAAAAAAAAAAH. ‡
So I stayed home.
And I thought, oh well, I might as well write a blog post. Sigh.
* * *
* Which is a ratbag on your social life, if any. But the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament—which I think I’ve told you before?, is that you stare at the wafers they’re going to use at Mass on Sunday morning, which are suspended in some manner within this golden starburst thing I’m told is called a monstrance^ —is kind of booked to happen Saturday night. Clearly weeks need an eighth day, so you can get your serious acting-out post-work-week over with, or possibly just go to a concert, on that day^^ between Friday and Saturday and be sufficiently clean, upright and awake^^^ for wafer-contemplation on Saturday night.
^ Which I feel is an unfortunate derivation. Like calling angels vampires because one of the origins+ of ‘vampire’ may refer to spirits of the air. And why is a rosary either a rose garden or a loop of prayer beads? I know—garland. But confusing.
+ disputed, but I think they’re all disputed
^^ Which I feel should be called Loki-day or Misrule-day except the world would probably end. So maybe we could call it Dead Sheep day or Dwarf Conifer day.
^^^ I will not say no one has ever fallen asleep during the Exposition. Unless you fall off your chair+ it’s not a big deal in the congregation—all one or two or three of us—because we’re sitting in the dark till the service begins. The black-garbed chappies up on the dais . . . yeah. They’re kinda visible if they start to nod.++ But the Benedictine order is heavily into physical, three-dimensional this-world work, and my monks have probably been rescuing kittens from the tops of two-hundred-foot leylandii cypresses and doing the steel-driving man thing alongside soulless steam drills+++ all day and are tired.
+ NO. I HAVEN’T. THANKS FOR ASKING.
++ Alfrick never falls asleep. He’s my hero.
+++ And winning, of course. Our railroads need a few miracles.
** And even then nothing is guaranteed except that I’ll probably bite your head off.
*** I’m singing again at St Margaret’s on Sunday—AAAAAAAUGH—the nice young man who is leading this week dutifully sent the playlist last night with the video links—AAAAAAAAUGH. I’d far rather be learning The sun whose rays are all ablaze^ or I Want to Be a Prima Donna^^
^ The Mikado. You’d’ve remembered in a minute.
^^ On the spectacular perversity of bodies: my singing practise at home is pretty . . . erratic, both because I’m an erratic kind of person (!) but also because I have an erratic kind of voice, which I gather is pretty standard, it’s just if you’re good and/or professional you learn workarounds. I will warm up a bit, sing a folk song, warm up a bit more, sing another folk song, lie on the floor and do a few breathing exercises, sing another folk song or an old gospel thumper, sing something I’m actually working on to bring to Nadia . . . do a few more warm ups. What I sing and how I sing it is entirely based on the noise I’m making: on a good-noise day I’ll do a lot more than on a bad-and-I-can’t-seem-to-make-it-better-noise day. Most days are in between: if I keep doing warm-ups and vowelly exercises and approaching the intractable from different angles I will at least improve. Probably. I also try not to get too hung up on what specific notes I’m singing—this is on Nadia’s advice—find a range my voice is happy in and sing there.
But by the end of a good practise I’m singing a high B as part of an exercise pattern without any particular effort—my much-desired-for-silly-reasons high C is clearly there I just haven’t quite had the courage to have a stab at it—somebody tell me why, as soon as I’m trying to sing a song, I can’t even hit a frelling G reliably. Because my blasted throat closes up and goes no no no no no! Eeep eeep eeep eeep eeeep!+ I tried to be clever about this the other day, and snaked out a few bars of Prima Donna where you’ve got a G-to-G octave leap, because octave leaps are a gift they’re so nice and obvious, and I use them in exercises all the time. But my voice wasn’t having any of it. I know what you’re trying to do, it said, and went squeaky. ARRRRRRRGH.
Tonight’s concert included a professional soloist singing something that I—theoretically—sing, and I might have found this educational. I might also have come home and burnt my music books, so maybe it’s just as well I didn’t go.
+ What’s even more irritating is when I’m sharp rather than flat. Usually it’s flat—which is losing your nerve at a big fence so your horse raps it with his knees and brings a pole down. Sharp is jumping eight feet over a three-foot fence. But if I give up and sing along with the piano . . . okay, the note’s true enough but it’s got a frelling edge on it you could slice bread with. ARRRRRRRRGH.
† I GOT A LOT OF KNITTING DONE. It’s been a good week for knitting. I got a lot of knitting done at St Margaret’s AGM equivalent earlier in the week too. Gah. Groups of PEOPLE. DISCUSSING things. Nooooooooo. I’m a Street Pastor! I’m going to be a Samaritan! My social conscience is FULLY BOOKED UP! I don’t have to do church-AGM-related things too!
†† No jury would convict me. My barrister or whoever would be sure to load the jury with people who have WASTED HOURS OF THEIR LIVES IN DOCTORS’ WAITING ROOMS.
††† She’s crated if she’s left alone, so if she’s been locked up longer than she thinks she should be she tends to emerge like the Blue Angels/Red Arrows at an air show. WHEEEEEEEEEEEE.
‡ What frelling happens in March? We’ve had a really bad March, that is, the hellhounds have, and I have because I’m responsible. The hellterror, I am delighted to say, seems to be maintaining intestinal integrity this year. I thought we were coming through it. . . . But it all went horribly wrong in March last year . . . what happens in March?
What first struck me about Anette’s post is how surprisingly similar to mine where her garden is in the march into spring. The small skinny trough at the foot of the stairs to the cottage front door, which I recently posted a photo of full of crocuses, is now blindingly yellow with eager, enthusiastic little Tete a tete daffs.* I have primroses everywhere.** I have all those Little Blue Things I can’t keep straight. I have several varieties of lungwort, the pink, the blue, the pink and blue, and the white, with variously interestingly spotted and mottled leaves. My crocuses and snowdrops are mostly going over and my early iris aren’t out yet at the cottage although they are at Third House. And I certainly have the little wild violets which while I don’t want to be without them ARE A TOTAL THUG and I get a little hysterical when I find them colonising another of my pots where if radical action is not taken immediately they’ll have crushed whatever I planted in that pot into a victimised corner with its hands over its face crying for mercy.
Spring. Yes. Spring.
And then last night we had what Nadia’s mum today told me jovially was the coldest night this winter—except that it’s supposed to be spring—and while yes, this is the south of England, and we’re only talking a few degrees of frost, we’re talking a few degrees of frost when everything has been rioting out in relatively warm sunshine for the last fortnight or so ARRRRRRGH. And I have a Winter Table full of potted up dahlias and begonia tubers. ARRRRRRRRGH.
* * *
* They smell good too, although there are other daffs with more scent: Cheerfulness, for example, or Erlicheer, which are probably my two favourites for fragrance, but they don’t keep on and on the way that trough of Tete a tete does. Maybe the cursed mice are getting them. I can’t keep bulbs going at all in the back garden because of the sodblasted mice: I net a few pots every year and am getting better about remembering to take the gorblimey netting off before it strangles the bulbs trying to come up through it^ and that’s nearly it for spring bulbs. The local field mice, frustrated of their once rich banquets of tulips, may be indulging their grievance by eating daffs instead, although they’re not supposed to—daffs are one of the bulbs you’re supposed to plant if you have a mouse problem. Ha ha. But my garden ought to be jammed full of daffs and it’s not. The one bulb the local vermin seem pretty reliably not to like is hyacinths and I do keep a few pots of crocuses going by storing the pots in relatively inaccessible areas the mice can’t be bothered to hire a helicopter and a rope ladder to attack. Mostly I resign myself to replanting crocuses. Or netting them. They’re tiny enough they can usually scramble through the netting even if I forget to take it off. Ahem.
I keep the plastic half barrel by the kitchen door that I use as a waterbutt covered so nothing is tempted to drown itself. But the pink bucket also by the kitchen door which is my kitchen-waste compost bucket, in the weather we’ve had this winter fills up with rain because since it’s been always raining I haven’t often felt like going outside to empty it into the compost bag that the city council carts away every fortnight and turns into, you know, compost.^^ As a result I have twice found a drowned mouse floating among the apple cores. I do not mourn—if they stay out of the house I’m grudgingly more or less willing to take a ‘it’s their planet too’ attitude, but they’re still evil bulb-eating marauders—but, yo, dufflebrain, why? You’ve got an entire garden full of fresh tasty plant life and you’re diving for apple cores and slimy vegetable peelings? Unfortunately the hellterror discovered the second cadaver at the same moment I did NOOOOOOOOOO —providentially I nailed her before anything irretrievable happened but she now carefully examines that frelling bucket every time she goes into the back garden.
^ It can take hours to cut a lot of half-grown shoots out of heavy plastic small-gauge mouse-proof netting. You don’t have to ask me how I know this, do you?
^^ I’m more than happy to buy it back as realio-trulio plant-stuff-in-it compost for the privilege of not having to take up the space in my handkerchief-garden for my own compost heap or heaps,+ since to do it right you have to have more than one. But I do get broody about a wormery occasionally. You can get quite little ones and, you know, it’s critters.
+ I have THREE compost heaps at Third House. Which must be appropriate.
** With reference to a conversation about nomenclature on the forum I haven’t a clue about what’s correct. I think of what I grow as primroses—both the double ones I think I’ve posted photos of^ and the little wild-type ones like in Anette’s photos which also lurk in corners of my garden.^^ The fancy ‘laced’ and all the other exotic-looking ones are, to me, primulas.
Cowslips come out a little later—I have a fabulous rust-red one just beginning to unfurl now. I have no idea where it came from, and I don’t think I knew they existed in any colour but the basic species yellow. It’s in a pot which I clearly planted, so I must have rescued it from somewhere, recognising the leaves as primrose/cowslip and therefore worthy of rescue—is it a volunteer? I don’t know. Gibble. But when I said that cowslips, theoretically endangered in the wild, are weeds in my garden, and someone told me loftily that weeds are only plants in the wrong place—yes, I know that one, thanks—I was referring to the way they grew, not that I didn’t like them. I think they’re darling. I’ve been known to hoick out a few of my surplus, put them and a trowel in a plastic bag, and take some hellcritters for a stroll over suitable countryside and whack them in in a bank somewhere—since they’re endangered in the wild. This is probably illegal or something and since I know it’s desperately illegal to pluck wildflowers or to dig them up I live in fear of someone catching me at my guerrilla gardening and jumping to the wrong conclusion. But if I didn’t, um, weed them, I’d have a garden with nothing but cowslips in it.
^ If not I will.
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I HAVE A CAR
I. HAVE. A. CAR.
I HAVE A CAR
I! HAVE! A! CAR!
. . . Erm. Wolfgang’s home. It’s been a long nine days.* And, as I write this, it is sheeting out there. I mean, yes, again, but while ground water levels will take months to settle down and there’s still serious water on the road in a few places around here**, we’d not had rain in over a week and I was reduced to watering plant pots yesterday. It rained a little last night, tactfully between the time of the last hurtle and when we had to roll out for the walk*** home, but at the moment we’re back to the End of Days.
Oh yes and Feebledweeb made a third attempt this morning. They will stop now, right?
* * *
* And I’m running out of underwear. Tomorrow I am bringing a lot of dirty laundry to Peter’s about-to-be-very-tired washing machine. I was not looking forward to ferrying dirty or clean but damp laundry back and forth by gigantic knapsack.
Meanwhile I will have a full car going back to the cottage tonight with the nine hundred and eleven apples from this week’s organic grocery delivery yesterday—I get through a lot of apples, and the hellterror is not averse to offering modest assistance—the fifty-six knitting magazines I’m keeping from this month’s haul—I am a knitting magazine junkie, and I read a lot of them on the sofa at the mews—the several additional knapsacks, sweaters, pairs of gloves and socks that have accumulated down here for some reason, and the hundred and twelve books that did not make the Book Rec cut and need to go into the Oxfam Box by the door at the cottage.
** Including one stretch that is incredibly badly semi-marked and on a dark corner, and why no one has taken out the invisible barrier like Grond at the gates of Gondor for simply not being able to see it and possibly for the character flaw of not being local and therefore being unaware of neighbourhood booby traps, I cannot imagine. Fortunately it’s only a little back road—although it’s one of those little back roads that is your only plausible choice from point A to point B—so wild veering into the centre of the road and into the path of oncoming traffic . . . can mostly be accomplished in the absence of oncoming traffic. Even so. I think I tweeted a county headline that the latest guesstimate about repairing Hampshire’s roads after the floods is that the price tag is going to hit £36K. I believe it too: not only are there potholes the size of Zeppelins but a lot of roads are simply narrower than they used to be, aside from invisible barriers protecting deep water, because the shoulders have disintegrated. And what’s left of the road surface is like driving on stucco. I bet tyre- and shocks-manufacturer shareholders are holding champagne parties. I hope the list of urgently-needed mending is comprehensive.
*** Between the frelling thirty-pound knapsack and the fact that there are three of them it is a walk, although the hellterror does a fair amount of hurtling on her own recognizance. Which brings me to a moral dilemma. The hellterror adores the late-night strolls back to the cottage, and is, for her, surprisingly well-mannered.^ The hellhounds slouch along doing passive-aggressive sulking^^ but it’s been a year and a half, guys, get over yourselves. And late at night is the only time it’s worth the risk taking all three out together. I wonder if . . . it’s a pity Wolfgang can’t get himself home and the thirty-pound knapsack, and let the rest of us amble after.
^ I am really really really hoping it’s not all the frelling false pregnancy. Which I keep hoping isn’t happening but—moan—her breasts are slightly swollen, yesterday and today, so it probably is. Only someone who spends a lot of time rubbing her tummy would notice, but I do and I have. She hasn’t started shredding newspapers and hiding under the sofa—she doesn’t really fit under the sofa any more—so maybe she can have the imaginary puppies imaginarily and get on with life?? But it’s been pleasant having an only semi-manic imp of the perverse about the place. I’ve been thinking I need to take her training slightly more seriously . . . no, no, not the walking quietly on heel and the perfect recall: the paw-offering and the playing dead. The useful stuff. The stuff, it must be admitted, that happens on the kitchen floor at the cottage last thing before closing her down for the night and I go upstairs for a nice hot bath and a dropping of reading material in it. This is not, I realise, optimum training timing, but it has two things going for it: (a) it happens at all and (b) I get a good laugh at the end of the day and on bad days this is very welcome.
^^ I am very, very, very tired of sibling rivalry, or whatever the doodah it is. Chaos would rather be friends but Darkness is convinced she’s the antichrist and Chaos, for all his buffoonery and in-your-faceness, when in doubt, defers to Darkness. Night before last Chaos forgot himself so far as to play tug of war with Pav and the stick she was prancing around flourishing. There was much mock-growling and tail-wagging and I was thrilled . . . till Darkness, who had been lagging behind at the very end of his extending lead, suddenly leaped into full sprint and went past me like a cheetah after a gazelle. I realised a third of a second before he bloody well had me over that he wasn’t going to stop, which gave me just enough instinctive time to yell and hit the end of the lead going the other way. You colossal little ratbag. Arrrrrgh.