April 17, 2014

Shadows is here!

Rant revisited


Didn’t get a lot of sleep last night—so what else is new—last night was however aggravated by shooting awake every time a hellcritter sighed or got up to scratch its bed into a more salubrious shape.  Siiiiiigh.  There have been no further outbreaks today . . . although the night is young* the current digestive miscreant, having eaten his dinner, looks pretty crashed out. . . . That sound you hear is me crossing my fingers till they squeak.

More baby plants showed up in the post today and the Winter Table is full.  There hasn’t been a proper frost in town this month I think, but baby plants, having been intensively reared in massive great commercial greenhouses, are fragile little creatures and you can’t just whack them in potting-on pots and plonk them outdoors.  You have to ‘harden them off’ as they say which in practise, since my greenhouse is full of stuff and I have no earthly room for a cold frame, means that if we’re having a run of chilly nights I have to bring them indoors every evening and back outdoors again every morning.**   Arrrrgh.

So, where was I, in my not-very-good-mood way last night?  Aside from the prospect of a lot of moving of plant trays back frelling indoors while trying not to trip over the hellterror***, there had been a certain supernumerary  force to my rushing outdoors into the garden yesterday afternoon†, aside from the latest stack of baby-plant-containing cardboard boxes arriving in the post, which, yesterday, was pretty well an avalanche. ††

What is it with people.

I regularly receive requests via email for help with the frelling papers people are writing about me and/or my books.†††  The vast, catastrophic, overwhelming majority of them ask me the same blasted questions . . . most of which would be answered far beyond the scope of any seventh or eleventh grader’s term paper requirement‡‡ with only the most cursory glance at my web site, let alone doing a little diving via the ‘search’ facility or the ‘topics’ list on this blog.  I’ve ranted this rant to you before—several times in fact—how can all these jokers even arrive at my public email address WITHOUT HAVING NOTICED THE SUGGESTIONS THAT THEY READ THE FAQ FIRST.  OR THE GENTLE REMINDER THAT I’M, YOU KNOW, BUSY AND THAT ANSWERING QUESTIONS TAKES TIME.  But they do.  In their relentless marching regiments they do.  Yesterday I received a follow up from someone who clearly thinks that saying please and thank you is enough.  Reading the FAQ is not necessary.  This person is capable of writing me a sheaf of long, complicated questions and putting a note in their diary to follow up . . . without ever looking at the FAQ.   First contact in this case included a plug from the kid’s teacher,‡‡‡ telling me how wonderful the kid is—and this kid may very well be wonderful, but they nonetheless need to learn to do their homework—and how (the teacher continued) my thoughtful informed answers were going to help this student chart their course through college and into their chosen career of professional writer.  PLEEEEEEEEEEZ.   This follow up, unannotated by the teacher, generously offers to answer any questions I may have. . . . §

Standard caveat begins here:  Of course I want people to read my books.  I need people to buy my books so the hellpack and I can keep eating.  And I love fan mail:  I looooove it when some reader takes the time, speaking of time, to tell me that they enjoy my books.  A really warm and/or clever and/or funny fan letter (or forum comment or Tweet or dreaded-Facebook post)  makes my day, and sometimes my week.  But I will never learn not to mind that a lot of people out there don’t recognise me as a human being essentially like themselves with a life—and, furthermore, inevitably limited expertise even in my professional domain—and behave accordingly.§§

Today I got a fresh request for help on a school project.  This one addresses me as ‘Mrs McKinley’ so I don’t have to read any farther to know that this person hasn’t made any attempt to do their homework. . . .

* * *

* as I count young.  But how can ‘one’ or ‘two’ or even ‘three’ not be young?^

^ Unless you’re a hamster.+

+ And you’re talking in years, not hours.  A three-hour-old hamster is young.  And one o’clock in the morning is MORNING and last night is dead.  So—wait—‘the night is young’ has to start at like two o’clock in the afternoon. . . .   Nights are never young . . . Hey, I’ve just invented a philosophy.#

# How did I get into this?  And where’s the door?

** Given when I am staggering out of bed lately, they’re going to get distressingly etiolated if the nights don’t warm up soon so that I can leave them outdoors to greet the dawn and all those distasteful hours immediately following.

*** Who is very interested in people rushing back and forth in a purposeful way.  Hellhounds know to crush themselves in the back of their crate and not stir till it’s all over.

† Well, I’d been outdoors kind of a lot already:  it was such a glorious day I took both critter shifts^ on country walks which was self-indulgent but . . . fun.^^

^ A little old lady said to me yesterday, every time I see you you’re walking a different dog.  There are only three, I said, but I mostly walk them in two shifts.  Oh, said the little old lady, and I could watch the thought process in her expression:  first she accepted the answer to this question that had been puzzling her and then, moving right along, this little old lady being a quick thinker, I could see the woman is mad dawning in her eyes.

^^ And since I won’t leave critters in a car because of the dog-theft problem, it’s also very time consuming.

†† Also aside from the fact that Outlook decided not to let me in yesterday afternoon.  No.  Won’t.  And I don’t like your password any more either.  Bite me.  —ARRRRRRRRGH.

††† We’re already in trouble:  the books are the books, they’re there, you don’t need me, and chances are very good that if you’re going in for literary criticism I’ll think your penetrating insights bear a strong family resemblance to mouldy root vegetables^, and you’ve got no business writing about me at all.^^

^ You know, really mouldy, when they’ve gone all squishy

^^ Yes, I read biographies.  Your point would be?

‡ When’s the last time I got a blog post out of an interesting question from someone writing a paper on me?  Exactly.^

^ Although the kid who wanted to know what it was like growing up with all those half-siblings made me blink a bit.  I wonder who they thought they were writing about?

‡‡ And with luck will so derail under- or post-grad thesis topics that the students will decide to write about something else

‡‡‡ ie an adult with adult responsibilities.  Plugs from teachers aren’t that uncommon, but they always depress me more.

§ The fact that this was the first email Outlook let through after Raphael told me how to make it behave was not destined to improve my attitude.

§§ You don’t walk up to a doctor at the supermarket and ask them to diagnose the rash on your leg.  You don’t write a letter to a lawyer asking them what their daily schedule is and how and why it makes them a better lawyer.  You don’t tell a blacksmith you want to borrow their tools because anyone can shoe a horse if they have the right hammer.




I know.  I don’t do politics.  Well. . . .

I am, I admit, frequently appallingly clueless about the realities of . . . reality.  I know I’m a wet bleeding-heart knee-jerk la-di-dah liberal but I forget how far from the mainstream that sometimes takes me.  Take gay marriage.

I do know there are still rabid homophobic enclaves out there but that’s what I expect them to be . . . enclaves.*  In the modern First World at least I expect anyone my age and younger to behave in a polite and tolerant way;  if they have private caveats about certain intrinsically harmless and productive subgroups of society they keep this to themselves.  That government tends to be butt-heavy with old fogies is one of those sad facts of reality, but I’m rapidly approaching old-fogey status myself so the obvious stuff should be getting dealt with as there are more old fogies like me in Parliament—or Congress, or the Orwellian farmyard, or what-have-you.  So we finally got civil partnerships here in the UK for gays a few years ago—so they can have insurance and inheritance and hospital-visiting rights and so on just like hets, well duh—can gay marriage be far behind?

I don’t keep track of this kind of controversy—I know, bad me—because it makes me too crazy.  I don’t keep track of all the anti-women stuff still relentlessly going on out there** either, for the same reason.  It makes me feel too small and too helpless and too ANGRY:  human rights are human rights are human rights.  There’s nothing to discuss.***  So I’ll just go on writing my stories about Girls Who Do Things—and keep my head (mostly) down out here in rough and ratbagging reality.

While I was as appalled as everyone else—everyone on the wet-liberal side anyway—about the C of E blocking women bishops again, there was enough general outrage that the church synod what-you-call-it managed to cram a fresh vote through before time, and there’s at least been progress, although there’s a bit too much havering about what they’re doing to keep the paralytic-tradition fogies from mutinying again.  But I remember—as a separation-of-church-and-state American—being fascinated by the suggestion that if the C of E didn’t get its act together promptly about women bishops Parliament would make them.

So.  Gay marriage.  It’s legal in the UK.  Finally.  But the C of E is saying no, no, a thousand times no, I’d rather diiiiiie than say yes.  WHAT?  You can’t just look for a sympathetic priest—even wet liberals like me will acknowledge that tolerance tends to be a continuum—it’s illegal for a C of E vicar to perform a gay marriage?  This is the Church.  Of.  England.  That’s how it works over here.  And Parliament isn’t going to say, ‘Do it and shut up’?  WHAT?

And—and this was my personal snapping point—the frelling Archbishop of Canterbury is saying gay marriage would be ‘catastrophic’ for Christians in other parts of the world because it would leave them vulnerable to violence by anti-gay mob rule?  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26894133  WHAT?  Where are you drawing the line, mate?  Or what line or you drawing?  Being a Christian at all in certain parts of the world is still dangerous.  The tradition of violence and martyrdom goes back to the beginning—um, the crucifixion, um?—and ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ has always been a crummy policy.  If the early Christians hadn’t been such arrogant little twerps, insisting on going around shooting their mouths off about Jesus being the Offspring of God, they might have believed what they liked in the privacy of their own homes, as long as they didn’t do it on the street and frighten the horses or piss off the local tyrant.  Not to mention that appeasement of bullies and murderers doesn’t have a great track record for success.†  I hope our Most Reverend Justin is being quoted badly out of context.

It was Aloysius who pointed out to me, in a calm, holy way, that gay marriage is very, very controversial in the C of E—and at the moment the traditionalists are winning.††  And I’m a card-carrying, fee-paying member of this organisation?  Aloysius—who admits to being frustrated by the ban himself—says that we’re supposed to pray for change and love those who disagree with us.

ARRRRRRRRRGH.  Personally I’d rather have a flaming sword.

* * *

^ The Samaritans question you-as-applicant pretty closely about your attitude toward homosexuality but I half-thought they were joking.  In my wet-liberal way I can’t imagine wanting to do something like take shifts on a people-in-emotional-extremis phone line and not sympathise with gays who do have more of a struggle with society and expectations and okay and not-okay than hets do.  Not wholly unlike, to my eye, women have more of a struggle with society etc than men do, or non-white people than white people do.  Etc.  Humanity = ratbag.  Sigh.

** http://everydaysexism.com/  Everyone know this one?  Read it and weep.  I don’t read it very often, because of the weeping thing, and the blood-pressure headaches, and the wondering whether anything ever does get better, or whether it just goes round in endless circles.  The early Christian church had women in positions of power, for example, but it didn’t last.  Here’s a bit more about Laura Bates, Everyday Sexism’s founder:  http://www.independent.co.uk/biography/laura-bates

She’s on Twitter too:  @EverydaySexism

Go for it.  I’m glad someone has the grit.

*** Anyone thinking of writing a counter-diatribe on the forum, please take note.  Also, it’s my blog.

† I want to know why these people think that the presence of Christians is going to turn them homosexual?^  Is it something we put in the water?  There’s a word that’s struggling to surface in my aging and forgetful mind—wait for it—EDUCATION.  You know you can educate people about lots of things.  Like that the existence and maintenance of heterosexuality in the Christian church is actually rather common.

^ Which is of course the worst thing that could possibly happen to you.  Worse than gangrene!  Worse than Sarah Palin for president!

†† Scripture!  Yes, I know!  But we don’t cut people’s hands off for stealing any more, or stone people to death for adultery!  And if you’re asking me, which you probably aren’t, as well as welcoming gay marriage, there are a lot of abused kids out there who are let off honouring their fathers and mothers!



Are you sure it’s not Friday the 13th?


I have a DEAD CAR.


I am SUPPOSED TO BE STREET PASTORING TONIGHT*, but I can’t, because I have a DEAD CAR.  This means I’ve missed TWO MONTHS IN A ROW.**

I probably won’t get Wolfgang back till the end of next week . . . which among other things means I WILL MISS MY VOICE LESSON ON MONDAY.***


And the DEAD CAR means I have no way to schlep my dirty laundry to Peter’s washing machine—and New Arcadia is way too small for a Laundromat, aside from the question of how many machines one person with three hairy dogs can blow up in a single application.††

AND I—finally—bought a new phone answering machine†††.  Which I spent two hours over this afternoon, trying to figure out how to make the sucker work.  I HATE TECHNOLOGY.‡  This object is such a piece of rubbish in so many ways.  You have 1,000,000,000,000 frelling menus of obscure acronyms and impenetrable icons . . . and an ‘instruction book’ that fails to instruct.  For example:  it keeps saying, you press this little arrow till you get the listing you want, and then you hit ‘okay’.  IT NEVER TELLS YOU WHERE YOU’RE GOING TO FIND THE OKAY, AND OKAY DOESN’T APPEAR UNTIL YOU’VE DONE SOMETHING RIGHT ALREADY WHICH YOU WON’T HAVE BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO CLUE WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR.  Frelling icons are frelling Rorschach blots, every one of them meaning:  YOU’RE TOTALLY SCREWED HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.‡‡

I think I finally got the date and time set up‡‡‡ and a basic message recorded . . . although that I am speaking through clenched teeth is pretty obvious.  Leave.  A.  Message.  After.  The.  Beep.   I have no idea what most of the superfluous crap on all those menus is . . . but this frzzzzzblggggng thing has only TWO ringtones, both of them nasty.  And this thing cost money!  It cost real money!  I’ve been putting off buying a new phone machine because BT stopped making the cut-rate plastic toy model that I used to use, which was not a total loss because they were SO cruddy they only lasted about a year before disintegrating like one of those cornstarch shopping bags . . . but they were simple.  I could use one.  Mind you, if you’re asking, I’d say they were overspecified too:  all I want is something I can record my voice on, so people ringing me know they’ve got my phone number—among my many, many pet hates is robot-voice answering machines so you have no idea if you’ve reached the right person/number or not—and that will record any messages.  I don’t want a phone machine that can make hollandaise sauce and tutor me in Russian and mechanical engineering!  I ONLY WANT TO RECORD MESSAGES, PLAY THEM BACK, AND THEN ERASE THEM.

. . . And now I have to shoulder my heavy knapsack§ and hike home . . . with three hellcritters gambolling delightedly in my wake.§§

* * *

* So this entry was supposed to be a stub.  It may yet be when a crevasse opens at my feet and the table falls into the centre of the earth, which would be about par for this day’s course.  I may or may not catch the laptop before it disappears forever, but my four knitting books from the library, at present lying on the table, will be goners.  Even knitting books are out to get me:  there is ONE pattern out of all FOUR of them that I can imagine knitting, and this includes two books by a designer I usually like.^

^ There’s also a yarn sale going on on a Web Site Near You where one of the listings is for £17 skeins of luxury yarn . . . at eight pence off the usual price.  Be still my heart.

** Last month was The Night of the Tempestuous Tempest, when the cops were telling us to stay home unless we HAD to be out.  And I was looking at all the raging torrents that used to be roads and gardens and sitting rooms and so on and thought, staying home, above the flood line, that’s a good idea.

*** I may end up hiring a car—NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO—but not till I’ve talked to the garage again on Monday, which will be too late for my lesson.  They’re ordering parts tomorrow, so some of my fate is riding on whether the gloppendorkenflurgetruder^ arrives on Monday.

^ Well, Wolfgang is German.

† Buckminster thinks he can find me a ride to St Margaret’s Sunday evening.  He hasn’t said anything about ‘if you promise not to sing’.^

^ I will miss my monks worse.  I like their music better.

†† I think I’ve told you that the hellterror is an astonishing producer of loose hair.  No wonder she eats so much.  Has to keep her strength up for all that intensive fur growing.

††† Delivered by an unusually delightful carrier, who put a postcard through my door after a failed first attempt, saying that they would try again the next day, any time from seven a.m. to six p.m., and upon a third failure the item would be returned to the warehouse and I would be issued a refund.  WHAT?  How does the seller stay in business with a system like that?  And as I’ve said—often—before, any blasted carrier who puts a postcard through my door saying they tried to leave my package with a neighbour is either lying or terminally lazy.  My neighbours are all either retired or work from home.

As it happens I was waiting in, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for the washing-machine man—the appointment was for ‘after nine’.  Well, it was certainly after nine:  in fact it was after noon—and I was therefore available at 11:45 when Delivery Attempt #2 happened—and I ran after him and pulled him down and snatched my parcel away from him before he could get back to his truck and lock the doors. . . . I should have let him keep it.

‡ The favour is, of course, mutual.

‡‡ I am reminded of the old joke which I’ve seen somewhere very recently, did someone post it on the forum?  Having no car and no washing machine is having an unfortunate suppressive effect on my brain.  So, this shrink shows a patient a Rorschach blot and says, what do you see?  And the patient says, a man and a woman making love.  The shrink shows the patient another blot and the patient says, that’s a man and a man really getting it on.  And looking at the third blot the patient says, and that’s two women having a very, very hot time.  The shrink says, I see that you are obsessed with sex.  The patient says in possibly justifiable outrage, that’s rich, coming from you.  You’re the one with all the dirty pictures.

‡‡‡ Which I will have to reset every time there is a power outage, and we have brief, settings-blowing power outages kind of a lot.  My old el frelling cheapo phone machine, you put a BATTERY in it and it HELD its settings through power cuts.

§ Having seriously damaged my back and shoulders hauling dog food in the other direction

§§ This is a rant for another day, but I’ve basically given up taking all three of them out together—the Off Lead Dog problem is too severe, and I’m at just too much of a disadvantage with three of my own.  The only time I’ll risk it is after midnight, like now. . . .

I wish I’d never learnt even the concept of dogs


Pav is still in full bloody streaming heat and I want to run away from home.  Except I can’t because Darkness is trying to starve himself to death and my severely chapped hands* and I are the only thing(s) between him and the ultimate whatever.**  At that we’re not doing a great job.  He’s lost so much weight that he disappears behind his final pair of ribs:  there’s just spine and a tail.  Chaos is eating badly*** but he does occasionally eat a few mouthfuls that I haven’t had to pry his jaws open and stab down his throat.  A few.  He’s also pretty awesomely ribby—but Darkness is worse.  I have the radio turned up REALLY LOUD which goes a little way toward drowning out the incessant moaning.  I do frelling separate them for some hours during the day, usually taking the hellhounds back to the cottage and leaving Pav at the mews.  This doesn’t work as well as you might think.  There is less moaning, but it doesn’t stop altogether, and there is a lot of pacing and anguish.  She’ll be kidnapped by aliens, their agonised looks declare.  She’ll run off with a mongrel.†  And I feel like a bigamist, trying to satisfy two families.  And failing, of course.

I usually have a voice lesson on Mondays.  Ordinarily both voice lessons or the prospect of a voice lesson cheers me up but I feel that this week is a good week for Nadia not to have been teaching.  In the discouraging annals of Things That Squash My Voice Down Flat the present circumstances rank rather high.  Peter and I decided to have an excursion, this Monday afternoon without a voice lesson, but since neither of us is feeling exactly lively and enthusiastic†† we kept thinking smaller and smaller and . . . smaller. . . .

We went to the library.  Or what used to be the big regional library and is now the Random Media Centre full of random media.†††  And a few books. ‡  And a rather nice café.‡‡  So we hit the cheezy SF&F section first and then I took a detour to the knitting shelf ‡‡‡ on our way to the café.  And then we sat and read like a couple of old married folks out on an excursion.§

Of course then I had to go home to the hellpack. . . .

* * *

* My hands now smell permanently of dog food no matter how much I wash them^.  This is kind of off-putting when you’re eating chocolate.

^ Ow.  Yes, I’ve thought of one-use gloves.  But force-feeding is a delicate operation and even latex gloves are clumsy.  I suppose if I thought I was going to be doing this the rest of my life I’d learn to use the gloves.  But I’m not going to be doing this the rest of my life.  Pav is going to come out of season any minute.  And hellhounds will revert to being ordinarily crappy eaters rather than pathologically crappy eaters.  SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH.

** Yes.  Critters go to heaven too.  I say so.^

^ Although some of them may have quite a lot of repenting to do first.

*** But then Chaos never eats well.  He’s secretly convinced that he could live on air, if only I’d let him try it out properly.

† I don’t know if this is because Aroma of Bitch in Season hangs heavy on the air, despite frequent changes of hellterror bedding and mopping of crate and kitchen floor, or whether they’re just, you know, not stupid.  I have frequently noticed that dogs are not stupid at just the times when you wish they were.

†† Also there are these, you know, floods.  They do get in the way.  The uni campus on the outskirts of Zigguraton is impressively under water.

††† And men with beards.  HUGE beards.  Long thick massive losing-small-animals-your-iPhone-and-the-tickets-to-tonight’s-concert-in type beards.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many gigantic beards in a smallish area before—and they weren’t with each other for the Southern England Beard Festival either.  So what is it about beards and random media?  Not all geeks have face hair and only one of these guys really looked geeky.

Snarl.  It’s a bit of a vicious circle.  Us book people are proportionately less likely to hang out at libraries the fewer books the new random media centres contain.  But libraries are morphed into random media centres because fewer people seem to be reading books—in hard copy anyway, she adds hastily.  Also . . . how many of us Book People suffer from Too High a Percentage of Disposable Income Is Spent on Books-itis, plus Life Is Short and the TBR Pile is Tall?  Although in my case what eventually killed off most of my go-to-the-library instinct is that the centralised Hampshire library computer system stank and I got tired of wasting my time.

‡‡ Not only did they have acceptable weedwash—I mean herb tea—THEY HAD SOMETHING I COULD EAT. ^

^  https://www.tyrrellscrisps.co.uk/vegetable/beetroot-parsnip-carrot-with-sea-salt

In case you’re wondering.

‡‡‡ The knitting half a dozen beat up old books quarter-shelf, speaking of snarl.  Knitting is popular and fashionable, you not-paying-attention random media people.  BUY MORE KNITTING BOOKS.

§ Okay, now here’s the philosophical debate.  I brought two of the knitting books home with me.  They’re both out of print.  One of them only has two patterns I’m interested in;  the other one has several, plus some useful-looking general how-to-design-your-own-version stuff.  Neither of these books appears on ravelry, and while the author of the book that appeals to me more has a lot of individual patterns from other books available for individual purchase, I don’t see any from this book.  I’ve wasted some time on google looking either for a used copy or for non-ravelry knitting sites where this author might also hang out.  Nada.

Now I’m a little touchy about copyright, since I myself earn my living thereby^—you can also insert a terse rant here on the subject of secondhand book sales kicking back nothing to living authors^^, so looking for a secondhand copy of the book I liked is just a kind of twitch, rather than any courtesy to the author.  But these books are OP and I’ve made a genuine attempt to find the patterns I’m interested in for sale somewhere.  Do I now brashly make photocopies?  Or not?  And if I do am I a bad person?  And if I don’t . . . why don’t I?  Presumably it’s legal, moral and non-fattening to knit something from a pattern from a library book?  Does it remain legal and moral as well as non-fattening only so long as you are doing it directly from the book?

I imagine the answer is that I don’t make copies, because the rights still belong to the author and there’s always a chance she’ll resell them somewhere—or hang them on ravelry or similar.  There’s also that feeling that instructions to make something are somehow different in kind to, say, fiction, but that’s probably illusory.  Creative rights are still creative rights.^^^

^ And so long as society still uses money, piracy is bad and evil and just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s free or that you’re not making some creator of something’s life unfairly harder and punching them in the morale they need to maintain to go on creating stuff you want.

^^ Paperback exchange and ‘reading copies’ for a few dollars/pounds, no blame, no harm.  But the signed first editions that go for a lot of money?  That’s stealing.  Full stop.

^^^ Please note that I write the blog last thing anyway and at the moment I’m even more chronically short of sleep than usual.   But it does seem to me that on-line knitting sites, chiefly ravelry but there are others, are a game-changer about knitting patterns.  Maybe I write to the author(s) on ravelry and ask her/them if any of these patterns are going to be reissued in a new book or possibly hung on ravelry?

More moaning


It’s raining again.

Pav is, of course, still in season.

Darkness is driving me bonkers.

Three is not the charm.

Diane in MN

Darkness is seriously lovelorn. Aaaaaaaaand has stopped eating altogether.

Darkness is not unique in this. Lovelorn boys frequently stop eating, so they can concentrate on the only and most wonderful girl in the world that you’ve hidden away somewhere.

Yes, I’ve met anguished canine swains before now, but they were not my problem.  Also, NORMAL dogs NORMALLY eat, so if they hit a FOOD IS THE ENEMY patch they don’t go skeletal in forty-eight hours.


. . . I cannot imagine much worse than a bitch in heat . . . and two male dogs inside the house in a spell of rain and flooding. So the sympathy, and the awe that you are still sane dealing with it.

I AM NOT STILL SANE [she screamed].  NOT.  Not only is Darkness not eating* but he’s started doing this little tremulous singing thing that makes me want to kill.  him.

Diane in MN

Sometimes they start calling for their beloved.

AAAAAUGH.  This noise doesn’t even sound like a dog.  It sounds more like something hiding in the whooshing pine trees while Kes hides under the covers in her friend’s Adirondack cabin.  Unfortunately I know that it is a dog.  A dog that desperately wants to be TURNED INTO A HEARTHRUG.  He also just whines, of course.  I hate whining dogs.

(Sometimes she calls back. ::shudder::)

Well, Pav has occasional tantrums, but I think that’s about being locked up more than usual rather than about a woman wailing for her demon lover.  So to, um, speak.  But she’s not pushing at the boundaries of canine articulation the way (*&^%$££”!!!!!! Darkness is**.  I’ve ordered the bitch pants, rather after the fact, but this is only the second week and while with the luck I haven’t been having much of lately things will start to calm down the third week, if the pants*** arrive promptly I’ll still give ’em a try.†  It’s not like I don’t think I could stop anything happening before it finished happening—sometimes the size differential is your friend††—but I would expect the pants to muffle the effect somewhat, including [graphic description omitted because this is a family-friendly blog†††].

Meanwhile . . . I said it was RAINING?  It’s hammering it down out there again now—as I know because I’ve just been ferrying [sic] my assortment of hellish creatures back to the cottage in it, because I have a few more management choices at the cottage.  Hellterror has a brief sprint outside as a final opportunity for eliminatory functions;  hellhounds expect a ten-minute to quarter-hour stroll around the churchyard.   We are going to die.

We actually had a few hours of that random and not-entirely-persuasive phenomenon, sunlight, again earlier.  I took Peter to the farmer’s market and the hellhounds and I went on into Mauncester for a city walk.  Golly.  Egmont Street, pretty much at the bottom of the river valley, is sandbagged:  everybody’s gates and doorjambs are barricaded.  The river’s exploded its banks and sprawled across the road;  people in wellies briskly step over the sandbags at the doors and go about their business.  The river footpath that has been officially closed for some time now—that I have reported previously people are walking on anyway, self and hellhounds included, and splashing through the places where the river has climbed up to play with us—is now genuinely closed:  the footpath is a frelling millrace, and I am not exaggerating:  white water rafting at your doorstep.  You can’t even get to the red dedicated-dog-crap bin;  you have to go on to the next one.

And, speaking of dog crap. . . . If I don’t post tomorrow it’s because we never got back from the churchyard tonight. . . . ‡

* * *

* We had a brief exciting moment at lunch when, the hellgoddess having stuffed the first two mouthfuls down each of them, Darkness ate the last two by himself.^  And  therefore Chaos refused his, because we can’t have two hellhounds eating at the same time.

^ A four-mouthful lunch.  Yes.  We’re pretty much on starvation rations because as previously observed there’s a LIMIT to the amount of force feeding I’m willing to do.  If B_twin were here this week she might think about it a little longer before she said she’d seen skinnier dogs.

** I’ve tried singing (*&^%$££”!!!!!! Daaaaaarkness but it’s a little . . . screechy.

*** I went for their best-selling black with pink spots.  You did click through on that link the other night, didn’t you?

†  And there’s always next time.^  Yes I’ve thought of stowing her up at Third House but by next time that option shouldn’t be available . . . and I don’t actually like leaving a dog all by herself for long, especially one who isn’t used to it—especially one, furthermore, who is already being stressed out by her hormones—dogs are pack animals and some of the other three or four of us are pretty much always around in Pav’s life.  Also she has a rather majestic bark for something that weighs thirty pounds and I don’t want her making any unfortunate impressions on Third House’s neighbours.

But I’m certainly going to have to come up with A Plan.  But not until after the current epic is over:  I have no brain.  I’m as strung out as frelling Darkness.^^

^ I know I look like a clueless wonder not to have expected something like this . . . but dogs and bitches vary.  Sighthounds are often just not very engaged, as I have said, with things of the flesh, and the hellhounds’ attitude toward food might have led me to false hopes.  And I know dog people who have both genders entire in the same household and hair does not turn white overnight and nobody sleeps in a dustbin+.  Of my three Darkness is the problem.  Pav is such a trollop anyway I can’t see a lot of difference, and when she protests her incarceration she just sounds CRANKY.  Chaos is certainly interested, and I wouldn’t leave him and Pav alone together (!!!!!!!!!!) but he’s not ruining anyone’s life over it.  Darkness is.  Mine.

+ That would be the human in supposed charge.  A well-padded dustbin with a soundproofed lid.

^^ Although I’m a little curious about the mechanism in my case.  Is it just that the situation is MY PROBLEM?  Am I picking up their stress level?  Are the pheromones—and to my dull human nose Pav only smells a little more strongly like she always does+—winding me up in an unconscious UH OH TROUBLE way?  I would have thought excited mammalian hormones might have a generalised effect.

+ which just by the way isn’t much like the standard dog smell.  Maybe bullies are a different species.#

# Known, however, unfortunately, to breed successfully with dogs.

†† Diane in MN

Mind you, she’d have to stand on the sofa.

Maybe not. Two minds with but a single thought can perform surprising feats of cooperation, alas.

True.  I’m sure there are dachshund/Mastiff crosses out there.  But one has also seen, for example, a pony stallion giving his all between the tall thoroughbred mare’s thighs, and not where it’s going to do the job.  The point is that there is a sofa here, and I don’t want my reprobates figuring it out.

††† Although I was very impressed at the woman who tweeted me that she and her eight year old had enjoyed the Oatmeal link I posted the other night.

‡ I know, tomorrow is KES night, but you can’t murder me if I’ve been washed away now can you?

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