February 18, 2014

Shadows is here!

Rain. How unusual.


Hellhounds and I took a turn by Soggy Bottom today to see how it’s, um, flowing . . . and the personhole covers over the storm drains have been shoved off by the pressure of the water driving up through the inadequate apertures.  It’s almost as good as a play, or it would be if we didn’t live here:  the little round-headed jets of water boiling up through the holes, and this great wave sluicing out through the gap where the personhole cover has lost its place.  Three of these rush together with the naked overflow from the ditch and, well, hurtle down Soggy Bottom toward the raging torrent that used to be a ford over a quiet little Hampshire stream that the locals call a river.  If I’d been in wellies rather than All Stars* I might have been tempted to leave hellhounds dry-footed in Wolfgang and slosh down in that direction and see how far I could get.  The lake by the Gormless Pettifogger is deep enough that the person approaching as Wolfgang and I paddlewheeled through stopped, apparently aghast, at his shoreline . . . and turned around.  Oh, come on, it’s not like you’re driving a Ferrari with zero-point-four inches clearance.**

It rained today.  Of course.  It’s Tuesday.  It rained yesterday.  Of course.  It was Monday.***  It’s going to rain tomorrow.  Of course.  It’s Wednesday.


* * *

* Well I wouldn’t be in wellies rather than All Stars but I used to have a spare pair of (ordinary black^) wellies that lived in the, ahem, boot.  It occurs to me to wonder what I’ve done with them.  Maybe I’ve just forgotten giving them to the itinerant mage in exchange for . . . for . . . well, I certainly didn’t trade them for a rain stopping charm.

^ From the days when you could only get black or child-of-the-earth green wellies

** I saw an SUV—the kind you need a stepladder to get into—turn around at the edge of a large puddle some time recently.  I laughed so much I nearly ran off the road.^

^ She’d probably heard the rumours that giant squid from the centre of the earth were using southern England’s floods to lurk in wait for their favourite snack, SUVs.  No, no!  Relax!  It’s a ridiculous rumour put about by people who don’t have anything better to do than retweet silly urban myt—SLURP.

*** Monday had even less to recommend it than the rain.  I got to Nadia’s and discovered she wasn’t teaching this week either.  ::Sobs::  I wrote it down wrong in my diary;  I knew she wasn’t teaching last Monday, but this Monday I thought if I didn’t hear it meant she was, when it was if I didn’t hear she wasn’t.

Fortunately I had hellhounds with me so throwing myself off a cliff^ wasn’t a good plan because neither of them can drive Wolfgang to get themselves home.^^  So we went to the farm supply shop and bought compost and fertilizer^^^.  I was wearing singing-lesson-day clothes, not going-to-the-farm-store-in-the-rain-day clothes#.  I considered asking one of the stalwart young men to heave the nasty bags around for me but while, generally speaking, I’ve got over the extreme feminism of my youth when asking a bloke for help was SELF BETRAYAL##, I still occasionally get all tough/stupid  virago with bare-able teeth and (metaphorically) bulging muscles.  I slung the frelling bags myself.  And while I managed to keep my cute little cropped cardi safe, my jeans were goners.

And then I destroyed another pair of jeans today, getting the blasted bags up the stairs### to the greenhouse ARRRRRRRGH.  This shouldn’t happen at home.  I have a lovely pair of gardener’s chaps, which snap over your belt and around your legs and heroically repel mud (and thorns).  But in one of the monsoons of the last few months, when the rain was not only coming in sideways but from a funny direction, EVERYTHING IN THE GREENHOUSE GOT SOAKED.  Which I didn’t realise till later.  I’m still unearthing little quagmires in corners arrrrrrgh.  The chaps are still drying out.  I think they’re resuscitate-able.  Please.  I have no idea where I bought them and google is not forthcoming.

^ Which are in short supply in most of south-central England.  At the old house when circumstances conspired I used to threaten to drown myself in the pond, of which we had two, and both Peter and Third House have ponds here.  But somehow drama-queen drowning doesn’t hold the appeal it does when not drowning is a daily goal and preoccupation.+

+ Dentist from R’lyeh has been driven out of his large glamorous multi-storey office by floodwater.  I’m not laughing ::mrmph:: really I’m not ::MRRRMMFFFF::  Being from R’lyeh and all you’d think he’d be fine with a spot of drowning, wouldn’t you?

^^ They like the central heating+ and the soft bed out of the rain.  THE FOOD DOESN’T INTEREST THEM AT ALL.

+ Or the Aga

^^^ Which is to say cow crap.  Organic cow crap.  I prefer it to chicken—which is the other common commercially-available one+—because it smells less.  I admit I don’t know how the plants feel about it.  They’d probably say they were missing an essential element without the pong.  Like dogs adore tripe.  TOO BAD.  I don’t know how long I can go on with Pav’s dried pigs’ ears either.  She doesn’t eat them fast enough.

+ When I had a horse we made our own critter-crap fertilizer and it was lovely.

# I have enough trouble fighting with my wardrobe every morning.  I get dressed once.  I do not change for anything less than serious festivities that include Taittinger’s or the Widow, and not merely Prosecco.

## I don’t entirely fault my young self for this attitude.  Back in the early 1800s or whenever it was I was young, blokes offering, or responding to requests for help tended to do it with a gloss of patronage.+  Men have died for less.  I would know.

+ Not that this doesn’t happen now.  But either it happens less, or I hang out with a better class of bloke than I used to.

### The only young man who lives on my cul de sac is slenderer and more willowy than I am and so far as I can tell he doesn’t do the adrenaline-rage thing that enables slender willowy people to do things they can’t.  I wouldn’t be so unkind as to ask him to help me with large muddy bags of compost and other even less salubrious substances.

And with the storm winds howling, continued


Morale is not high.  I won’t say it’s at an all time low but it is not high.  I am not, as you will have surmised, Street Pastoring tonight;  I’ve been obsessively following Hampshire weather reports all day—those of you who follow me on Twitter will have seen a few RTs on the subject*—and when the wind started up mid-afternoon right on gindlefarbing schedule** I sighed a heavy sigh and emailed Fearless Leader that I was staying home tonight.  I’m being a good responsible citizen, ratblast it, the cops keep tweeting ‘if you don’t HAVE to go anywhere STAY HOME.’***  I don’t even know if there was enough of a team left to go out;  I know we’d lost more than just me.

I’m not quite sure what I have done today besides get wet to the skin† in the company of various (wet) hellcritters and feverishly look for more weather reports.††

And listen to the wind.  I am not looking forward to the last hurtles of the evening.†††  The rain is coming in sideways, in this wind, like spears, and I swear the points have been sharpened.  May we at least continue to have electricity.  And hot water.  And an Aga to dry and re-dry and re-re-re-dry wet critter towels.

I hope we don’t lose any more trees.

* * *

* And anyone who hasn’t seen the photo of the Winchester Cathedral crypt ISN’T PAYING ATTENTION since it’s a big favourite with the media at the moment for a symbol of South England Under Water:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-26186875 ^

^ Mind you, the cathedral was built on a marsh, so there’s a certain amount of hoisting by own petard going on, as it has gone on for the last thousand years.  Very sturdy marsh, that one.  And surprisingly forgiving of large piles of stone.  Maybe it was less of a marsh in the eleventh century.+

But we in New Arcadia are NOT built on a marsh and we object to all this superfluous water cluttering up the place.  There’s nowhere to put anything down.  Like a dog, for example.

+ The cathedral was also a good deal smaller to begin with.  They kept adding bits on.

** Why can’t the frelling meteorologists be wrong about something you’d LIKE them to be wrong about?  How many times have you got caught in rain/sleet/hail/yeti invasion because the weather report was for clear and mild and since you wanted it to be clear and mild you were a little foolish?  Arrrrrrgh.^

^ Of course over here it’s a major piece of cultural history that the meteorologists—and one TV presenter in particular—missed the Great Storm of 1987, worst in three centuries, and forecast a little wet weather and some wind.  La la la la la.   Hope everyone had their small dogs and children on short leads.

*** Alternating with a tweet saying PLEASE DON’T TAKE CLOSED ROAD SIGNS DOWN THEY’RE THERE FOR A REASON.  Duh.  Good grief.  I will certainly go have a look down a closed footpath^ but in daylight at walking speed you can see before you get into any difficulties, and you also won’t stall out if water gets up your tailpipe.  You may have to carry your short-legged companion through the swirly bits.^^  But take closed road signs down?!  At very least, if you’re going to be a sovereign idiot, put the sign back after you’ve driven through it toward your fate.^^^

^ Although Pav and I had an epic hurtle this morning because we went down to the river and turned the other direction and it never occurred to me we’d be able to keep going. . . .  I now have a pair of yellow All Stars that will take a week to dry out.  At least I remembered the plastic bags over my socks today.  Practise makes perfect.

^^ I do know that currents can be dangerous.  Trust me, I’m timid.

^^^ Oh yes and when you have to ring up to be rescued be sure and mention that you drove through a closed road sign so they can put you at the bottom of their list.

† I have two raincoats and they’re both sheeting wet.

†† Well I’ve done some knitting.  Got some lovely big fat gauge 100% merino wool on insanely cheap sale and then bought a set of 10 mm needles when I discovered that that is approximately the ONLY size I haven’t already got, 10 mm being the recommended needle size for this yarn, and I was already trying to decide whether I was going to make this pullover or that pullover out of it^ since I’d bought this book on sale a little while ago, as I settled down to make my swatch.  I like making swatches.  It doesn’t matter if something goes wrong, it’s just a swatch.  Which is why my swatches never go wrong.  I save going wrong for the pattern.


So now I get to start over with 9 mm and 8 mm and . . . just by the way . . . with finding a new pattern.  There probably is a way to adapt a bigger gauge pattern to a smaller gauge—isn’t there?—but in the first place it would require MATHS and would be beyond me and in the second place . . . I’d run out of yarn.  SIIIIIIIIIIGH.^^

^ I’m really good at starting projects.

^^ Furthermore I think I have to make a cardigan.+  I was just thinking this morning that my two woolly brown cardigans are the sand end of brown and I need a chestnut end of brown.  This yarn happens to be chestnut.

+ Deep v neck.  Less yarn.  Three quarter sleeves!  Less yarn!  Cropped!

††† I have a cranky hellterror underfoot as I (try to) write this blog.  She’s forgotten our epic hurtle early today and WANTS MORE ACTION.  She couldn’t get back indoors fast enough however when I took her out for eliminatory functions and indoor action is limited.^

^ Especially since she’s still a little too interesting to hellhounds+ so I am forced to stimulate her brain by long down which tends to need fairly regular upkeep.++

+ Who still are not eating enough to keep one-third of a slow elderly hamster alive.

++ No, lie down.  No.  Lie down.  No.  Lie DOWN.#

# She actually is at the moment.  Don’t anyone breathe loudly or make any sudden gestures.

Valentine’s Day prospects


In theory I’m supposed to be Street Pastoring tomorrow but . . . I doubt it.  Increasing amounts of Hampshire are under water and we’re due to have not only more torrential rain tomorrow but possibly the worst gales yet.  Even uni students, one hopes, will have the sense to stay home.  They may not have a choice:  most of the campus is a lake.  I’ve already told Fearless Leader that if the driving looks iffy I’m not coming, and there have been various emails among the team about who can and can’t get out through the current floods;  not everyone can;  and it’ll be worse by tomorrow night.

Another of the big old trees—that used to be part of the fancy drive to the Big Pink Blot and are now a strip of parkland running beside the main road through New Arcadia—went over in the latest windstorm.  That’s three this winter.  It’s a longish strip but it’s not that long;  the gaps show.  There have been big branches down too, making more gaps, including in the old wall where they struck.  But the ground the trees are standing in has become marsh.  One of the short leg-stretch-and-a-pee hurtles from the mews is down one side of the trees, next to the old park wall, and back on the pedestrian pavement next to the road.  We stay on the pavement lately;  even Pav, the smallest and lightest of us, squelches;  and some great hulking human like me, and with only two feet to spread the weight, forget it, I need a diving bell.  Hellcritters are willing to venture onto the quaking bog in pursuit of smells;  but they tend to prance back to me and the pavement shaking their feet and looking disgusted.   I wouldn’t have expected a hellterror to care about mud and while the hellhounds with their longer legs have a more impressive prance, Pav’s message is the same:  ugggh.

If it doesn’t dry out soonish—which it shows no sign of doing—the trees are going to rot where they stand, and then they’ll all come down.   The civic daffodils are trying to come up—it rather amazes me they’ve got this far—but a lot of them are blind.

Hellhounds and I went down to look at the river today.  The river path has been impassable for a while and we’d already stopped going there as often as we used to because I’d got very very tired of being mugged by off lead idiots.  I mean their dogs.  But your average off lead idiot doesn’t want to get his/her designer wellies dirty so I thought it was probably worth the risk, seeing how far we could go.

Well the ducks are sure happy.  The bit of river we were splashing along beside isn’t running amok so we forded the feeder streams* and kept on.  There are some houses on the river bottom, poor things**, and I don’t think the sandbags are going to save their fitted*** carpets.

And then hellhounds and I rounded a corner and came to the shores of The Sea.  When Peter and I first moved to New Arcadia there was a stretch of the river path that was outrageously badly kept—for a town two of whose important constituents are wealthy retired Tories and businesses dependent on visitors—and EVENTUALLY the town council stopped whining and ordered enough hard core and blokes to shovel it that the path became quite serviceable, thank you very much.

Well.  It’ll all be to do again when—when, I’m assuming, not if—The Sea retreats.  I don’t know how deep it is but from my memory of what it used to look like . . . Pav, at least, would have to swim, and I think you’d need waders, not wellies.

We took the footbridge past one of the sandbagged houses† and looped around by the road.  When we got back to the river we had a really exciting ford to cross, with the water crashing over the path, and Chaos wanted me to believe that it would carry him away†† but I heartlessly pointed out the stout fence preventing this happenstance and we gained the far side without incident††† and toiled back up the hill toward town.  That roaring sound you hear . . . is the new New Arcadia Victoria Falls, another smoke that thunders.  Golly.  And standing on the far side of the river the spray still fogs up your glasses.  It used to be a picturesque little local millrace.

I’d better get back to the cottage.  We’re going to try to make a sprint for the farmer’s market tomorrow morning before Armageddon returns.  Which means I should go to bed, you know, cough cough, early.

* * *

* To Chaos’ horror.  I’M NOT CARRYING YOU.  COME ON.

** We actually looked at one when it was up for sale some few years ago, before I bought Third House.  Brrrr.

*** Wall to wall

† And were divebombed by a black cocker spaniel . . . a friendly black cocker spaniel, fortunately, and while it looked full-grown it was presenting as a puppy and couldn’t get enough of the hellhounds who were happy to return the compliment.  Modified arrrgh.  I thought it was going to follow us back onto the main road ARRRRRRGH whereupon in good conscience I’d’ve had to go back, knock on the door, and say something between clenched teeth to whatever off lead idiot answered, but it got timid at the end of its stretch of path.  I looked back worriedly a lot though.

†† If you’d eat you’d weigh more and be harder to wash away.

††† When they dry out, my pink All Stars will probably be a lot cleaner.  Choosing footgear for this kind of expedition is problematic.  I can’t walk any distance in wellies—they’re perfect for clomping around gardening or mucking out stalls but not hurtling—and hiking boots have their uses in wet grass and ordinary mud but fording foaming rivers is not their thing and once they get soaked they stay soaked.  All Stars are actually my footgear of choice for this, although I put plastic bags over my socks first when I remember.  When I remember.  I didn’t remember today.

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?



It’s raining.  Whiiiiiiine.  It held off long enough this morning that I managed to hurtle everyone, including myself of course, extra hard, against the forecasted likelihood that by afternoon we’d need water wings.  Or a helicopter.  And, those being the choices* would elect to remain indoors.  Hellhounds are major wusses about rain** so I took them out first***.  It was beginning to leak increasingly by the time the hellterror and I were on our way out but she’s, you know, a dog, and she shakes herself and gets on with it rather than turning hopeless and pitiful.†  Although hopeless and pitiful is to be preferred when you get home again and are trying to towel off a whirling dervish.

I’m trying to remember the last time we had a proper country hurtle.  We skirt the town perimeter occasionally but real countryside is all eyebrow-deep in mud and washing everything you’re wearing again gets old very quickly as well as reusing already muddy critter towels because you’ve only got 1,000,000 and they’re all wet, including the recently-washed ones steaming off as fast as possible on the plug-in heated-airer rails.††  And there’s no amelioration to needing several raincoats which you wear in rotation, to give them a chance to dry out.  Not to mention the permanent aroma of wet hellcritter. †††

Sigh.  And to add to the joy of the assembled the hellterror, as previously observed, is in season.  The last few days I’ve been determinedly getting her out for an extra walk(s) so I can have the excuse of keeping her locked up in her crate more indoors.  I know the smell of lurrrrrve is pervasive but the hellhounds seem to cope reasonably well so long as she’s not, you know, swinging her booty in the immediate vicinity—which she does whether she’s in season or not.  Aside from longer crate hours she’s not having a good time, poor thing, she throws herself around like that swollen thing sticking out behind her is uncomfortable, which it probably is and FORTUNATELY she and the hellhounds don’t seem to have any clue that together they possess an answer to this situation.  Mind you, I’m patrolling the bzzrgrmph out of any time they’re loose together, so they do not have the opportunity to experiment.  The kitchen floor at the cottage is never so clean as when there’s a dripping hellterror occupant:  she’s worst in the morning, for some reason, maybe just because overnight is her longest stretch shut up.  But she also doesn’t understand why I don’t seem to want her in my lap at the moment—you can see the thought bubble:  All This And No Lap??—so we have sacrificed a clean dry towel toward rectifying this sad situation.  Now an ex-clean towel.‡

We’re going to a concert‡‡ tomorrow night when I usually go to my monks, so I went to the evening prayer service tonight.  There is water everywhere.  When it started chucking it down again after B_twin left we were back to standing water that made the landscape dazzle when the sun managed to come out for a quarter hour or so.  By now we’ve got above-ground water torrenting down the roads and drowning the pedestrian pavements.  I was thinking as I sloshed after the hellhounds this evening on a brief pee run that I’m going to have to start wearing my hiking boots in town:  the water sluicing over the pavements is higher than the rubber edges of my All Stars.

With the rain pouring off my leather jacket as well as my umbrella I met Alfrick on my way into the abbey—trying to shake off the worst on the mat by the door before I left trailing-wet footprints down the corridor—who raised his eyebrows and said, Where did you park the ark?

On the way home again the long queue of traffic on the 60-mph bypass was going 35, because of the amount of water on the road.  And I haven’t even told you about how the main road into New Arcadia has been dug up by the water company, and we all have to take the back way which involves sliding off the hardtop into the sticky trough that is what the shoulder has become, every time you meet a car coming in the other direction. . . .

* * *

* And helicopters are expensive

** I’ve never decided if they hate their raincoats because they hate their raincoats or because they only ever wear them when it’s, you know, raining.  And I, as Putter On of Hated Raincoats, am doomed either way.  Nor have I ever managed to convince them that the hellgoddess’ remit does not include the weather.^  Today I decided to cut my losses and not put raincoats on.

^ Hellgoddess:  Guys . . . you really think THIS is the weather I would conjure if I could conjure weather?  COLD?  WET?  HORRIBLE?

Hellhounds:  Well, you make us eat.


Hellhounds:  ::blank innocent looks::

*** They came with us to the farmers’ market and had a wonderful time moseying through the back streets with me while Peter negotiated with vendors for emeralds from Samarkand and so on.  But when we got home and I took them out again immediately you could see them giving each other the hairy eyeball and wondering what my problem was.

† Hellgoddess:  Guys.  You won’t melt.  I promise.

Hellhounds [faintly]:  Oh you can’t possibly be sure.  [Hellhound delicately raises paw.  Delicately raises second paw.  Attempts delicately to raise third paw.  Other hellhound is trying to hide under a hedgerow.]  This is particularly . . . penetrating rain.

Hellgoddess:  It’s been seven years.  You haven’t melted yet.

Hellhounds turn two pairs of huge golden eyes^ reproachfully on their goddess:  Today is today.  The last seven years have been the last seven years. 

^ Dark They Were and Golden Eyed.  If hellhounds are part Martian it could explain a lot.

†† I might almost be thinking about a proper electric tumble dryer if I had anywhere to put it.

††† I actually rather like the smell of clean wet dog.  Just not all the time.

‡ Which I have to keep folded up and out of hellhound reach.  LIFE AND PROCREATION ARE SO RATBLASTED GRUBBY.

‡‡ That is Peter and Nina and Ignatius and I, not the hellpack and I.

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The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself. -- Albert Camus