January 27, 2015

Shadows is here!

26 January 2015

Today was Alcestis’ 58th birthday.

Would have been.  She died a little over a week ago.

Peter and I often go out to dinner either the 3rd or the 26th of whatever month it is*;  occasionally both, like this month.  January is frequently a sod;  serious deluges of champagne are often required in January.  Last year, after Peter’s stroke in December, pretty much bathtubs full of the stuff were prescribed and dutifully consumed.  And this year. . . . I’d remembered that Alcestis’ birthday was the end of January somewhere;  I’d forgotten it was today till Admetus reminded me.   Peter and I clinked our glasses tonight and drank to Alcestis.  Who is dancing joyfully in the sunlit fields of the Lord . . . which means fuck-all to me right now.

The funeral is on Friday.

That’s the worst, of course.  I miss her.  Remember I said in the Not a happy new year post to make time for your friends, life is shorter than you think?  It’s not like I didn’t know Alcestis’ time and life were running out all last year, but the habit of ‘oh next week is soon enough’ is hard to sodding break.  I am so glad now for all of those evenings I spent knitting and chatting with her the last few months;  I wouldn’t have not done it for anything, now that it’s all over—now that she’s gone.  But it also makes me miss her worse.  Because I’d FINALLY got in the habit of going round to see her regularly.  And enjoying her company.  And remembering why I liked her so much:  for her dry humour, her empathy, her astonishing breadth of practical knowledge about the world;  if you wanted to know something about pretty much anything, chances were that Alcestis could tell you something you could use and suggest where you might look for more.  She’d been a scientist and a science teacher, and teaching came naturally to her, whether it was basic physics or how to pluck a chicken.**  And yet months would go by, before she fell ill, when we’d run into each other in town and say ‘oh yes we must get together’ and then go our separate ways for more months.  Why are humans so STUPID?  Because I’m far from the only person who treats their friends like this.  There’s always going to be time.  But there isn’t.

So.  Sorry for the long blog silence.  There’s still a lot of staring blankly into space—and several other WHAAAAAAT? unexpected crises, mostly unsuitable for a family-friendly public blog, but I will mention the evening this past week, having just been knocked sideways by one of said crises, I managed to leave my diary in Mauncester I CANNOT LIIIIIIIVE WITHOUT MY DIARY I can barely remember to breathe without checking in my diary first*** and having phoned to be sure that I had left it where I thought I had, and they said they’d keep it safe for me, I leaped into Wolfgang to drive back to fetch it . . .

. . . and Wolfgang wouldn’t start.  AAAAAAAAAAAUGH.  I spent most of the next DAY schlepping in to Mauncester on the frelling BUS and hiking to the far end of town TO PICK UP MY DIARY.  While Wolfgang was towed off to the garage.  I got him back today:  hellhounds and I had a very nice walk over hill and under milkwood to Warm Upford to pick him up, with a shiny new starter motor under his bonnet.†  And all that stumbling over tussocks gave me an appetite for champagne, duck confit and a big fat chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce tonight at the pub.  It was a very good confit, and an excellent brownie.  But the brownie wasn’t as good as Alcestis’.

* * *

The news isn’t all bad, if you will permit me to range now into the frivolous.  Niall, who can smell weakness, and has his own unique ideas about cheering people up, seems to have inveigled me into RINGING FRELLING HANDBELLS AGAIN.  HOW DO I GET INTO THESE THINGS.††  Furthermore I seem to have become a semi-regular fourth with a particular group, Niall, Jillian, who was starting to learn handbells shortly before I more or less stopped, and a gentleman who has not appeared on these virtual pages before, whom we will call Spenser.  I’ve rung tower bells with Jillian many times—although she’s a good ringer and I’m not—I only know Spenser by reputation.  The fact that he’s not only a good tower bell ringer but also an organist and therefore has developed the Extra Brain Lobes for keeping track of several manuals AND a pedal keyboard or whatever you call them means he is beautifully pre-programmed to learn frelling handbells swiftly and accurately and I will HATE HIM SOON.  But right at the moment he and I are about level in the Struggle to Master Bob Major.

I’ve spent most of my handbell career thus far on six bells, mostly ringing bob minor.  ‘Plain bob’ is where everyone starts.  If you’ve only got three handbell ringers there are a lot of other more complex six-bell methods, but when you first make the step up to major—eight bells, four ringers—you’ll go back to plain bob.  This time plain bob major.  Counting to eight is hard—which you have to do, every dorgleflamming row, to keep yourself in your place in the pattern.  And ‘seven’ has too many syllables in it.  OnetwothreefourfivesixSEVENeight.  Ruins your rhythm.†††

Jillian at the moment is our weak link.  Not her fault, she’s been ringing less time than I have, Spenser is just talented, drat him, and Niall is, well, Niall.  Niall conceived of the daring plan to swap Jillian out some day that isn’t our regular meeting so that Spenser and I can have the thrill [sic] of ringing with two good steady ringers and see how far we get.  I could see the quarter-peal light going off in Niall’s evil little eyes‡.  We were fixed for this past Wednesday, with Melinda as our fourth.  Melinda would be one of my favourite ringers—despite her reprehensible excellence on handbells—if I saw more of her;  she’s the one got me going to the extra tower practise at Fustian, which stopped happening some time this last year when I haven’t been ringing anyway.  After Alcestis died I told Niall I am NOT trying for a quarter peal on Wednesday.  Both my stamina and my focus are zero for the present and the immediate future.  That’s okay, said Niall in his blandest possible manner.

I should frelling know better by now.

You can see where this is going.  We rang a couple of touches and first I and then Spenser—and bless him for not being perfect—crashed and burned.  So we started over.  No big;  we were getting good practise with Melinda there.  But then we started to steady down—Melinda is a lovely, equable, consistent, low-tension-transfer ringer.‡‡  Aaaaaaand we didn’t crash and burn.  For a few minutes.  For a few more minutes.  For . . . that ratbag Niall is going for a quarter.

We rang a quarter.  Spenser’s and my first quarter of bob major.

And that’s for Alcestis too.  Makes a change from glasses of champagne.  ‡‡‡

* * *

* Our wedding anniversary is 3 January;  our lightning-strike meeting anniversary is 26 July.

** She was also an excellent—and self taught—knitter.  She half-blinded herself knitting the Plain Dark Pullovers that are all the Standard British Male will wear, for Admetus.  And the sweater I knitted^ about three-quarters of, those last evenings of knit and chat, is hanging on the back of a chair at Third House and every time I see it I catch my breath.  I should finish it.  I know.  At some deep superstitious level I think I’m still hoping if I don’t finish it I’ll get a few more evenings with Alcestis.  Sigh.

^ which is for me and is about as far from plain and dark as it is possible to get.

*** Drink champagne, yes.  Eat chocolate, yes.  Breathing, I may need reminding.

† He now leaps six feet off the ground when you turn the key in the little hole.  BRAAAAAAANG.  NEXT STOP MARS.

†† A pathetic insufficiency of counter-obstinacy.  There is NOTHING ON THE PLANET as persistent as Niall in pursuit of handbell ringers.  And he’s such a polite, quiet, gentle person . . . most of the time.  Not about handbells.  Be glad you don’t live in New Arcadia.  He’d get you too.

††† One of the additional reasons I will never graduate to twelve on handbells, aside from the spectacular absence of necessary brain support, is because of having to count a row that has a three-syllable number in it.  Seven is bad enough.  ELEVEN?  Are you frelling JOKING?  I can just about manage plain hunt in the tower on twelve, because tower bells go so much slower you have half a chance to squeeze those extra syllables out.  Frelling handbells go a frelling lick.  Well-rung handbells sound like the louder, more musical version of someone running their thumb over the edges of a pack of cards.  That’s how fast it goes.^

^ Not with me however.  Handbells rung with me in the group are . . . stately.  There are people who won’t ring with me because I’m too slow.  Trust me, I don’t want to ring with these people anyway.

‡  If he’s part bull terrier that would explain a lot.

‡‡ There are other handbell ringers I won’t ring with because just being in the same room with them winds me up.  But I suspect they feel the same about me.

‡‡‡ Okay, I should finish that sweater.

Not a happy new year


The friend I’ve been visiting in hospital?

She’s dying.

It won’t be long now.

I hate this.  This is a stupid system, this life thing.  She’s younger than I am, by the way.  And another friend—another good friend—who is also younger than I am—has just been diagnosed with . . . well.  Not with blue skies and happy fluffy bunnies.

Life sucks.  And then, as we know, you die.

So, that’s been my holidays.*  Let’s call her Alcestis—the friend who’s dying—although in the damned myth some god or godling usually comes along at the last minute and saves her, and so far as I know my friend’s Admetus wasn’t in any danger.  She’s been ill for a while, and in and out of hospital, but they’ve known for a while they aren’t going to turn this one around, it’s going to get her, and sooner rather than later.  And she’s been slipping—also for a while—but the last three weeks or so the slope has suddenly got steeper.  Although we knew this was going to happen too.

I’ve been through this before, of course, but it doesn’t get easier, losing people—watching them slide away from you, and you can’t do a bloody thing except sit by their bedside and breathe.  Be there, stunned and clueless and disbelieving.  Everyone who is trying to comfort you says, oh, being there counts!  That is what you can do!  I guess.  But it’s throwing rose petals in the abyss.  Except it’s not even rose petals.  It’s dead toads or dandruff or anthrax or something.

Alcestis is in a specialist unit and it’s too far for me to drive, and I’m dependent on Admetus to give me a lift—but he’s a friend too, and they’re neighbours.  I blast over there five or ten (or fifteen) minutes later than I said I’d get there, and he does the driving.   I like to imagine that having someone in the car with him sometimes—he’s quite the taxi service, is our Admetus, bless him—is maybe a bit comforting, or grounding, or something.  I have really NO IDEA how he’s doing.  He’s a BRITISH MALE.  I assume he’s still eating, although he’s got awfully thin and he wasn’t exactly portly to begin with.  The unit Alcestis is in will feed a spouse or one other designated person for the big holidays, and they came round with the New Year’s Day dinner menus today while I was there doing my sitting and breathing thing—and in my case knitting:  my knitting is not improving with practise—and I was looking at Admetus looking at the menu and wanted to say to the nurses ‘make sure he eats too, okay?’

It’s a nice place, as far as places where people go to die are ever nice.  The nurses are kind and thoughtful and engaged:  they’re all over Admetus as he comes in, and a couple of them even recognise me.  There’s free tea and coffee (okay, and a donation box), and a big lounge-sitting-room-waiting-room space with comfy chairs and tables and books, and a computer with a selection of all-ages games.  They keep Alcestis clean and comfortable.  She’s just barely there any more and . . . drifting . . . farther . . . away.

Today the doctor took Admetus aside and said that hopes/plans to be able to send Alcestis home after the holidays, when they’d be up to full staff strength again for the amount of home care she’d need, were, barring miracles, permanently shelved and that . . . the unit is set up for a spouse or partner to spend the night there:  he might want to know that.  He might want to consider. . . . When we got back to New Arcadia tonight he gave me the domestic fauna care drill and he’ll text me if I need to step in.  There was a little austere hilarity at the outrage the capybaras, sugar gliders and wallabies are going to feel at being put abruptly on my schedule rather than Admetus’.  He gets up at about 6 a.m. most mornings.  I suppose I could go round and feed and do a quick sweep last thing before I go to bed. . . .

They’re rerunning the last night of the Proms on Radio 3 tonight.  Last night of the Proms live was mid September, and Alcestis was still alert and walking (slowly) and interested in the world and having opinions about the books she read.

And to everyone who is reading this:  make time to get together with your friends, and do stuff, or just hang out, drink tea, loan each other books.  Or if geography is against you—and I know a lot about that—talk on the phone, email, text, Skype.   Stay in touch.**  Time is a whole lot shorter than you think.

Tonight’s glass of champagne is to you, honey, Alcestis, my old friend.


* * *

* Another thing about holidays is the way people go on them leaving their social-welfare charities short-handed.  And falling prey to the common philosophy of wretchedness that if you can’t do anything for you and yours maybe you can do some damn thing for a stranger, I’ve picked up a few extra shifts here and there to the extent that I’ve had one or two lectures from older hands about taking care of myself.  OH SHUT UP.  Okay, yes, I know, and I appreciate the concern and understand why they’re having a word, but I’m at least conscious of what I’m doing and as soon as the holidays are over with I’ll revert to being the volunteer-organisation version of assistant bottle-washer.  But whatever your flavour of belief^ or disbelief, the end of year holiday season and all the jolly consumerism, I mean family and friendship and togetherness, tend to magnify anything that’s less than fabulous in your individual life, so social services get a bit strained.  The less than fabulous would include me and mine of course.  But being a do gooder at least means you have somewhere to put some of the sorrow and frustration.

^ Although just by the way the tendency for Christmas to be presented in Christian churches in all its blue-skies-and-fluffy-bunnies splendour MAKES ME CRAZY.  YO.  THAT KID YOU’RE WORSHIPPING IS GOING TO DIE HORRIBLY IN THIRTY-THREE YEARS+ AND THERE’S A CRUCIFIX HANGING OVER THE ALTAR, YES, EVEN AT CHRISTMAS, POSSIBLY TO REMIND YOU OF THIS TINY FACTOID??  As one might say, Jesus.  There’s a dark despairing edge even at Christmas, a shadow behind the joy.  Welcoming this baby should break your heart, and if it doesn’t you’re not paying attention.++

+ Or about four months, depending on how you’re counting.  This is only my third Easter coming up and I already want a year off.#

# I think I said that last year.  Easter is hard.~

~ And it has nothing to do with fluffy bunnies, chocolate or otherwise.

++ Some of the carols get this right.  When I’m experiencing a worse than usual brain failure day, the verse I can never forget is from We Three Kings:  Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume/ breathes a life of gathering gloom/  Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying/ Sealed in a stone-cold tomb.  Elsewhere it refers to King and God and sacrifice.  Um, yeah.  Stay with it.   And Christmases like this one for me, it’s exactly like my monk said:  he died also so none of us ever has to suffer alone.

I still think it’s a total fucker of a system.  When I get to heaven# I’m going to start a petition.

# And remember we all do, eventually, whatever ‘heaven’ turns out to be and whatever petitioning options there are.

** Which I’m doing a lousy job of with everyone else in my life.  Because I’m too sunk in being bad company.  Sigh.  Do as I say, not as I do, okay?



It’s only another placeholder


Okay, I’ve got some stories for you, but no time to tell them.  But as a placeholder you might find the email I just wrote to Worthy Charity #74,821,333 mildly entertaining:

Your web designer is a MORON.  Please pass on my lack of respect.  In the first place, why is a title required?  Many people—myself included—prefer not to use one if we’re given the option.  Then, if the standard short list of titles your site provides does not apply and one is so foolhardy as to tick ‘other’, one is presented with a drop-down list of epic proportions, offering ever wilder opportunities, Death Star Commander, Harvest Goddess, Sixth Degree of Kevin Bacon . . . and lo and behold tucked away in there is ‘Family’.  My sponsorship is a gift to four members of a family, and so with a somewhat wary relief, I ticked ‘family’.  BUT A FIRST NAME IS STILL REQUIRED.  Um.  Xxxx?  Ja-Sa-Sa-An?  What?  This is to a family.  There is no single ‘first name.’  And the four of them are going to have to look at whatever inanity I come up with for the duration of the sponsorship.  Thanks ever so. 

If you’re lucky, your other would-be sponsors are less volatile.  I am fed up to here with web sites that have been designed by lobotomised beavers with hangovers.  This time of year I do a lot of on line ordering and there are a lot of worthy charities out there, some of whose web sites function more or less straightforwardly.  I could have sponsored another [furry critter worth keeping alive and well fed] for half the price of one of your [glorified superwhatsits]:  but it wouldn’t [grow up to make the world a better place].  So here I am.  Fuming.

R McKinley Dickinson

I’m going to be at the hospital a lot of tomorrow again and then I have somehow allowed myself to get ensorcelled into frelling handbells in the evening.  ARRRRGH.  I’ve warned Niall I will have No Brain after all that knitting* but he seems to think this is not as relevant as the Body in the Chair with Outstretched Hands Holding Handbells part of it.  He may live to regret this.  Meanwhile I’m missing deadlines right and left** but if I have the kind of limbo-brain later tomorrow night that is utterly incapable of work*** but could probably splodge out a blog post as an alternative to cruising end-of-year knitting sale sites . . . I’ll give splodging a try.

PS:  Thanks for all the nice supportive words, all you readers, both on the forum and in my email inbox.  The kindness of strangers–or semi-strangers–is more of a comfort than perhaps most of you guess.

 * * *

* Just as an aside, thank God for knitting as a way of not driving the ill person you’re visiting crazy.  Also the nurses would probably throw me out after I picked the second chair to pieces.  Not that God is my favourite person recently with all the depressing mayhem in my life, but my monk ruthlessly pointed out that the bloke whose birthday we’re celebrating next week suffered^  so that none of us need ever suffer alone AND THERE’S A CYCLICAL NON-LOGIC TO THIS THAT I DON’T LIKE AT ALL but . . . yeah.  I have no idea how it works but the thing is that it does work.  It doesn’t work ENOUGH.  But . . . Jesus and knitting.  Okay.  Whatever.

^ among other reasons to do with life everlasting where it’s never too cold to sit still and contemplate higher things and eating too much chocolate never makes you fat

** No, nothing to do with EBON, I’m afraid.  EBON doesn’t even have a deadline to miss at the moment, sigh.  No, things like interviews for Open Road who are trying valiantly to publicise all those shiny new ebooks, and house insurance.  HOUSE INSURANCE??  I’M OVERDUE ON THE HOUSE INSURANCE?  Fortunately an insurance company that has had you by the short hairs for a number of years tends to come after you pretty robustly.  MONEY.  WE WANT MONEY.  WE WANT YOUR MONEY.  WE WANT IT NOOOOOOOW.  I put the cheque in the post today.  That only leaves 1,000,000,000 deadlines of a moderately life-threatening nature to go.

*** This includes looking at columns of figures with slightly more understanding than if I were staring at the Voynich manuscript, and writing my signature on the bottom of cheques that the bank won’t return as forgeries^. 

^ Tear splotches and bloodstains, of course, are majestically ignored.  Banks have seen that all before.


[Ringing] two funerals and a wedding


Although the wedding isn’t till Saturday I didn’t want to waste an opportunity to rip off a title.*  I haven’t rung a funeral in over a year, I think—not since Gloriana’s**—and then I’ve rung two in a row:  yesterday and today.***  I really don’t like this bit about how as you get older more and more people that you know seem to be popping off around you.  Yesterday’s funeral was at least someone I only knew very vaguely but today’s . . . well.  I’m not sure the whole ‘we’ll see her again in heaven’ thing works all that well in the first instance.†  She’s been terminally ill for months.  It’s not like we didn’t know.  But. . . .

. . . Well.  I’m still tired, although I did get some sleep last night.  Maybe I could get some sleep two nights in a row?  Now there’s an exciting thought.

* * *

* Even if the film is where I developed my profound aversion to Hugh Grant.

** I’ve said before I wish we rang more funerals.  I think people mostly just don’t think of bells for funerals—plus that funerals tend to happen during the working week and it’s hard to put bands together.  Vicky pulled us in today from about six different towers—she and Roger were the only locals.

*** Sometimes I even think there’s hope for me as a ringer.  Two of our eight today don’t ring a lot, so the six of us bell junkies rang a touch of Grandsire doubles while the two normal people had a sit down between slabs of call changes.  I tend not to ring my best for occasions—Sunday service is bad enough, but one-offs like weddings and funerals . . . anguish, anguish . . . and funerals, it’s worse, because weddings are supposed to be happy occasions and can absorb a little screwing up.  It’ll make a good story later that you could hear the conductor yelling at his/her band where you were standing in the receiving line:  DODGE WITH THE FOUR, PASS THE TREBLE AND LEAD!^—and you can hear the ‘YOU MORON’ even if this remains unuttered.  Funerals, even when you’re trying to celebrate rather than mourn, it’s an edgier sort of thing, and it’s harder to laugh if you gerfarkle it—especially if you knew the person you’re ringing for.  But I was the dubious sixth ringing with five good ringers, and when it’s five to one they’ll carry you if need be.  But you know . . . it was pretty good.  It was at least not bad.  And they weren’t carrying me.  And Grandsire doubles, eh, I frelling well ought to be able to ring Grandsire doubles—but ringing is one of those really discouraging skills where you never reach the ‘ah ha—got it’ stage:  there’s always another ignis fatuus sneering at you out there in the bog somewhere.  Learning the frelling method line is only the beginning.^^

^ You’re all going, ha ha ha ha, I don’t know much about bell ringing but I know bells are noisy.  Yes.  Very true.  Which means that a conductor has to bellow like sixty devils+ to be heard over the row.   Now think about a ground floor ring, where the ringers are at street level with the peons, and the bells are making their racket some distance overhead.  It of course depends on your ground floor ring—occasionally they are tucked away from the hurly burly, madding crowd, etc—but generally you ground-floor ringers are depressingly visible++, which means you can’t wear your oldest jeans and your favourite t shirt which says ‘Miskatonic University, Necromancy Department, bringing dead things back to life since 1690’, although I will be wearing All Stars and if they don’t like it they can not ask me to ring there again.  Anyway.  If your conductor loses it when the person on the two goes AWOL yet again and said conductor starts addressing the problem in a possibly over-emphatic manner, especially a conductor who is used to ringing in a tower . . . yeah.  It’ll make a good a good story to tell over the anniversary dinner.  If the conductor is lucky, he’s the hired gun, and will never be seen in those parts again.

+ Most conductors.  There are a few that just make themselves heard.  I have no idea how they manage this.

++ For only about one wedding in three does some intrepid becamera’d person struggle up to the bell tower to take photos.  A ground floor ring, there’ll be at least six cameras firing every wedding.  Maybe twenty-six.  If you’re particularly unlucky, someone will want to pose with the ringers.

^^ Also worth noticing is that all the ghastly struggle of ringing at the abbey becomes suddenly dazzlingly worth it when you find yourself ringing at an easier tower.  Yesterday’s funeral was at the abbey and I was hanging on a bell rope and thinking WHAT IS GOING ON? and I only didn’t go wrong because the touch came round+ soon enough to save me from myself.

+ ie back to rounds, ie finished

† I was sitting there in the congregation thinking, I’m a frelling CHRISTIAN now.  I’m supposed to BELIEVE that I’ll see her again in heaven, and catch up, because as Life Got Complicated (again) I’d let myself fall out of touch.  And all that’s happening is that I’m sitting there thinking, she’s dead.  I’m never going to see her in her garden/walking her dogs/outside the bell tower ready to tell us how much she’d enjoyed the bells again.

It was also a little, ahem, deadly, that the readings and hymns were so well chosen—by her.  Including Lord of the Dance^ which has made me cry pretty much every time I’ve sung it for the last thirty or forty years, and that wonderful Joyce Grenfell poem:  http://www.funeralhelper.org/popular-if-i-should-go-joyce-grenfell.html

^ Good grief there are a lot of really bad covers of Lord of the Dance out there.  I’m not generally a fan of unmitigated kiddie cathedral choirs, but this version is at least not embarrassing:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRpaxb6dP7k

Or if you prefer the folkie version:


Good heavens.  And here’s John Langstaff.


I’m so old I remember his Revels when they were starting out, and how amazing and like nothing else they were—that was my living-in-Boston era so I was on the spot.  All of us who loved early music and the rougher end of folk music and where they got mixed up together kind of thing—but there was hardly any of this around, I didn’t and really still don’t quite know what to call it—totally thought we . . . er . . . had died and gone to heaven.  This clip doesn’t anything like do justice to the experience of being in the audience for one of them—my first experience of a Langstaff Revel ended with the players fishing members of the audience out of their chairs to snake, hand in hand, outside and dance on the green.  The hall emptied:  we were all outside, singing and dancing.  It pleases me that people still remember Langstaff.



Bad news


Life is an ugly pond-scum rat-assed bastard and then you die.

This not-eating spell with the hellhounds has been grinding on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on, and they’re moving into serious weight-loss and loss of condition territory.  You can see there’s something wrong, especially if you know them from a good patch.  Darkness is as bad as I’ve ever seen him.  He had another double-ended geysering fit last night, during which he dragged me across half Hampshire;  today he had what I call ‘colic’ and what it means is that his guts howl like rabid hyenas and he won’t eat.

Usually we cycle through these spells and come out again without too much damage except to my sanity.  Not this time.

Okay, here’s the promised bad news:  Pavlova is going the same way.  Oh, she eats.  But . . .

She’s been having irregularly squishy crap for several weeks.  I’ve tentatively put it down to the hormone storms of first heat.  But it’s worrying.  And I’m a little oversensitive on the subject of critter digestion after almost seven years of the hellhounds.

Then about a week ago she produced a gigantic mucousy thing . . . followed a few hours later with the Yellow Geysers.  Noooooooo . . .

I took her to the vet.  The vet said ‘colitis’—which is one of those fancy no-help non-diagnosis words, it just means inflammation of the lower gut.  We knew that.  He gave us some stuff—including some stronger or different or more comprehensive probiotics, in case this was a result of the antibiotics she’d been on for the skin infection on her forehead after the Malign Encounter in the Churchyard.

We went home.*  Her output has been better this week, but not that much better.  This has made me unhappy.  Meanwhile there are the hellhounds.  My stress level could fuel the energy grid of Hampshire, and possibly the entire south of England.

This morning, while she is still on what the vet gave us for ‘colitis’, she produced a gigantic mucousy thing . . . followed a few hours later with the Yellow Geysers.

The Yellow Geysers, which is exactly what the hellhounds have.  Have had for almost seven years.   It’s not just the runs, it’s a specific form of the runs.

I am so going to the vets again tomorrow.   This changes the entire game, you know?  If the totally-non-related, different-frelling-breed Pavlova is going down with the same damn thing that has haunted hellhounds and me for seven years.  Whatever it is.  Doesn’t it almost have to be parasites?**  But WHAT parasites?  Hellhounds were exhaustively tested for everything known to veterinary science—when they were first geysering.  As my bank balance still remembers.

Meanwhile . . . you’ll forgive me if I don’t burble on tonight.  I’m not feeling very burbly anyway, and immediate circumstances include that I got four hours of sleep last night.  Er.  ‘Night.’  Starting about 6:40 this morning. . . .

* * *

* I can’t starve her or she eats her bedding.^  She gets a little rice boiled to mush in chicken stock after an acute attack.  This week she’s been on chicken as well as chicken stock and rice.

^ She’s in my lap+ as I write this.++  She’s trying to eat the left mid-thigh of my jeans which I appear to have spilled something INTERESTING on.+++

+  It’s okay.  Hellhounds had a sofa earlier.

++ One-handed typing oh joy.  What price voice recognition software that actually, you know, recognises, rather than expressing its unique creativity?

+++ No, she’s gone to sleep with her nose on the wet spot she’s been licking.  Maybe it will give her tasty dreams.

** Unless I’m the vector.^  Toxic hellgoddess.  Yellow Geyser Mary.   I also don’t see any escape from the articulated lorry-load of GUILT when—that’s when—we finally find out what this is.

^ And in case anyone is trying to think of a tactful way of making an inquiry of a personal nature . . . I was diagnosed with IBS over thirty years ago, before anyone had frelling heard of it, including me.  And Digestive Issues are dead common with people with ME.  If this is a trans-species parasite I wouldn’t have a clue.  I wouldn’t know normal if it bit me.


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