Snow. There is snow.
It was so warm last night—several degrees above freezing and it hadn’t started snowing yet—I didn’t think it was going to. I thought it would just rain some more. Hey, we haven’t had to ford anything in several days, it’s clearly time for more rain.
Except it snowed. It’s good snow—fluffy but it packs well: hellhounds and I went the long way around a couple of times so as not to get caught up in any snowball scrimmages—but it’s still snow. When I woke up this morning it was coming down in great fat golfballs. Unnh, I said, and went back to sleep. Later, after wrestling a few falls with the hellterror WHO CERTAINLY DOESN’T WANT TO CRAP IN THIS ALIEN LANDSCAPE, I caught my neighbour, the military bloke whose last away assignment was being seconded to a remote bit of Afghanistan, shovelling out the driveway so he could get into it and I said, How are the roads? He stopped shovelling, straightened up, looked me directly in the eye the way a Commander of Forces should and said, Unpleasant. Ah, the scintillant beauty of British understatement. Another reason to live in this country.*
IT TOOK ME TWO TRIPS TO TRAMP TWO HELLHOUNDS AND A HELLTERROR TO THE MEWS. AND IT’S GOING TO TAKE ME ANOTHER TWO TRIPS TO GET THEM ALL HOME AGAIN.** Whose bright idea was this living in two*** houses anyway?† ARRRRRRGH. If this weather continues—which it’s supposed to—I will experiment in daylight with a troika, but I’m not going to start tonight. The reason I haven’t tried triple hurtling yet already is because I’m still hoping Darkness will get over himself a little more. At the moment he still barks manically when the hellterror is loose and, I acknowledge, behaving like a hellterror. I can usually manage to shut him up when we’re indoors since he has developed some faith that I will prevent her from Assaulting Him in His Bed, or at least that I will remove her with alacrity. But I can imagine what our first attempt at a trichotomous hurtle is going to be like. Peter’s neighbours already don’t like me because of the late hours I keep . . . and I don’t think neighbourly relations would be positively enhanced if Darkness went into Frenzied Barking Mode under their window at mmph o’clock in the morning.
And because two slogs from one end of town to another aren’t enough, and because I feel a trifle guilty about the hellhounds, who are used to more and better . . . we schlepped back to the cottage an extra time so I could go to New Arcadia tower practise. Well, our Friday handbell third cancelled, not surprisingly, since she doesn’t live here, and I was all loose-ends and Whatever Will I Do With Myself?, and I asked Niall if they were having tower practise tonight. Yes, said Niall, Vicky and I are hoping that people who live close by will come.
There were exactly six of us—exactly the six that live walking distance from the tower. And it was fun. There was a slight we-few-we-happy-few-we-band-of-siblings feel about it, braving the elements and all—Fustian cancelled their Friday practise and the abbey has cancelled Sunday afternoon service ring already—and while there’s quite a bit you can ring on five, I was amused that just about everything Niall called required that the sixth person present was a proper method ringer.
I had a few words with Niall as we were leaving. Good practise, said Niall. Yes, I said, and useful too. I can’t remember the last time I’ve rung a touch of Grandsire doubles. And anything I don’t use I lose.
Come on Sunday, said Niall. We ring a lot of Grandsire doubles on Sunday morning.
If the puppy craps in time, I said, I will.
* * *
* Except when it comes under the category of ‘home—drives you crazy’.
** Viva Yaktrax. http://www.yaktrax.co.uk/
*** or three
† Mine. I’ve told you this story. When we were moving out of the big house in the country and looking for a little house in town I knew Peter and I would drive each other round the twist in a little house. Okay, Peter would drive me round the twist. I’d been hoping for a house with an annexe or a granny flat, whither I could retire to fulminate and pile things in heaps my way, but Peter really wanted New Arcadia and so do a lot of other people and we couldn’t find anything here in our price range. I still have I-wonder-what-if thoughts about houses we looked at in Mauncester.
Today was not shaping up well. I went to bed LATE last night partly because I felt so dying-liver-fluke-ish that I couldn’t pull myself together to go to bed, involving, as it does, a house move and two final hurtles. Also, it was raining, and hellhounds are hard work in the rain.
I got out of bed LATE* and [omits gruesome details of a delicate nature indicating that there was a germ involved in yesterday’s oatmeal-brained listlessness and that possibly it is not lingering in the vicinity] was still feeling about one-third alive when I had to assemble four-legged companions in the back of Wolfgang, pick up Peter, and go to our monthly tune-up with Tabitha.
Peter goes first while I hurtle.** Peter has a nap while Tabitha bulldozes me, and I get us all home again hastily before I finish turning into cold peanut-butter noodles.*** It was going to be a near thing today when I was already feeling fairly limp and peanut-buttery.
It was not going to be a good night for bell ringing. I hadn’t wanted to book Tabitha on a Wednesday anyway, but between my ridiculous list of extracurriculars and Peter’s occasional evening playing bridge our choices are limited. It was going to be an even worse evening for bell ringing or anything else after I dropped a half-full box of my favourite olives on the floor and Chaos decided he wasn’t in the MOOD for food† ARRRRRRRRGH.
Scary Man decided he had enough variables in the first touch of Grandsire Triples and did not invite me to ring, I had to watch Gemma ringing a touch of Stedman Triples†† . . . and then as I was standing behind Gemma eavesdropping on the post mortem, Scary Man flipped the rope at me and said, And now Robin is going to treble bob, CAMBRIDGE MAJOR, FILL IN.
Well, I’ve been worrying about this, of course. It has happened before that I did something right first time and then went to pieces for months, like starting over from scratch only worse because you had done it right first time, WHAT HAPPENED? I don’t know what happens, but there is a funny kink in my learning curve, and this happens more than it doesn’t. So I grabbed the rope before it grabbed me††† and . . .
Rang it. Yes. Rang it. Now, I could still go horribly wrong and lose it and have to start over. But the thing that is really exciting is the sense that I’m FINALLY catching on to the MULTIPLY-BLASTED SEVEN-EIGHT BELL RHYTHM, I who am seriously rhythm-challenged. At the beginning of the second lead when I was down front again, I was too fast, and almost missed the bell I was dodging with. But I figured it out and got back on my line. Scary Man came and whispered in my shell-like that I needed to slow up on the lead just a bit, and it was like YESSSSS! I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TELLING ME!!!! rather than, huh?, which is what far too much of most of this last year of struggling with Grandsire Triples in that tower has been. And while last week the rest of the Cambridge band had been nice and solid, tonight we had people going wrong and I still kept my line.
There is hope for me as a bell ringer. Really. Please remind me of this the next time I decide to take up bowling.
* * *
* How UNUSUAL^
^ Had an email from Aloysius today about the Silent Prayer group. They’re moving it to 8:30 Saturday morning—from 8—to make it a little easier. Whimper. I’m resisting writing back, make it 9, and I’ll come.
** Chaos had a crap immediately in front of one of those mysterious locked city-authority boxes that may have to do with electricity or water or some other mod con, and then again may contain gremlins, sharks’ teeth and black chicken feathers, none of us ordinary folk will ever know. But on this particular box was pasted one of those pick up after your dog posters that are among my (many) rant subjects. Has anyone ever picked up dog crap because they read a poster that tells them they’re supposed to? Does anyone not know they’re supposed to pick up any dog crap deposited on pavements and footpaths and people’s front gardens (and CHURCHYARDS)? Are they going to read the poster and think, oh, my, yes, of course, my mind was wandering, I will pick it up at once? I don’t care if the poster warns them about the fine and tells them that furthermore if they don’t pick up after their dog(s) their children will marry unsuitable partners, their garden will be eaten by slugs and their boss will tell the same interminable bad jokes till murder is their only recourse.^ The only excuse for these thrice-blasted posters is if there is a bin in the vicinity. Nobody who isn’t inured to carrying around a pocket or a hand full of (plastic-wrapped) dog crap is going to take a blind bit of notice of a poster telling them to pick up after their dog if it’s going to be miles before they can get rid of it. I guess the posters go up when the city council can’t afford more bins . . . but they could afford one or two more if they stopped wasting money on posters.
^ That’s why there are locked metal boxes full of specially-trained gremlins all over town.
*** Speaking of recipes. There are zillions of peanut-butter noodle recipes out there but most of them are All Wrong.
† While Pavlova flings herself at the front of her crate, shouting, I CAN MAKE IT ALL GO AWAY! HAVE I MENTIONED IN THE LAST THREE SECONDS THAT I’M STAAAAAAAARVING?
†† And yes, she needed her minder, but she rang it.
††† Bell ropes are heavy hawser-y things, and you treat them respectfully aside from the several hundredweight or more of metal on their other ends.
Never mind KHANS and SHADOWS and outtake stories to PEGASUS* . . . I may FINALLY have found a puppy for Pavlova to play with. I feel as if the pavements are usually crawling with puppies . . . till I brought my clearly dangerous ENGLISH BULL TERRIER puppy home and now of course anyone sees us coming picks up precious Poopsie and runs in the opposite direction.** Of the two puppies I had hoped I kind of had lined up for Pav duty, one of them is, thanks to less than resolute handling by his humans, turning into the brand of terror that gives terrors a bad name to people like me, and the other one . . . is twice Pav’s size and a WIMP. Sigh. He’s apparently heard that bullies inherited the biological niche vacated by sabre-toothed tigers a few millennia ago and is taking no chances.
But TODAY we met . . . well, it’s a Labrador, but it’s a cute Labrador, and not all Labs are ghastly, just most of them,*** and the one these people had before this one was smallish and gentle and looked like a Labrador instead of like a mutant Mack truck. I’ve seen it around a few times previously but never when I had Pavlova with me. But TODAY . . . it was pretty much a joke since we were in the churchyard and couldn’t let them off lead, although Pav at least was on her (baby-length) extending lead which gave her a little space for hucklebutting, which she desperately wanted to do. The woman with the Lab kept saying, she’s so tolerant!, which may be the first time in the history of domesticated canines that that adjective has ever been applied to a bullie, although all it seemed to me was happening was that two puppies were having a heck of a time with each other. The Lab’s a little bigger, but I think she’s also a little younger. I said, hopefully, on parting, that perhaps we could get together in a garden with a gate and let them go for it some time. Oh yes, said the woman.
* * *
* And thank you for all the suggestions, including all you renegades contacting me by email.^ Thank you in particular for adhering to the spirit of the ‘twenty words or less’. Of course as I write this I will hear an email ‘ping’ and when I check on it in the middle of some sentence I can’t think of how to end it will turn out to be a 3500-word outline of PEG II (since I’m obviously having trouble left to myself) including a choice of three possible outtake short stories, each painstakingly described in 500 words per, and including characters I’ve never heard of with odd names like Mary and John and a disco in the Caves.
But it seems to me one of the good things that has come out of the internet is some loss of the bad sort of innocence. I get fewer we-are-twin-souls letters than I used to—and fewer suggestions that if I write up your great idea you’ll split it 60/40 with me—I get the 40%, which is generous really because of course the idea is the hard part and writing it up is just clerical. Or maybe it’s that this blog radiates CRANKY and other, sweeter-natured authors are getting all the undesirables who used to mistake me for a kindly, compassionate human being.^^
^ Which is fine, by the way. So long as you’re not telling me you’re coming to England to discuss the details of your fabulous ideas with me in person and can I put you up?, since you’re short of funds till DreamWorks buys our project, oh, and you’re allergic to dogs.
^^ I do still get the occasional You Arrogant Slime, I Have Never Read Anything So Heinously Self Absorbed as your blog/web site/that interview with Terminal Geek Knitting Magazine and I Will Never Read Any of Your Books Again,+ but I’m getting fewer of them. ++
+ Okay. Whatever, but I think you should get out more. Terminal Geek Knitting is pretty extreme.
++ I’m even getting fewer of the You Should Be Grateful to Your Readers (ie Instead of Making Them Pay for What You Do) to which my response has for some time been, very nice for those of you with a trust fund. But these people have fallen silent probably only because they’re downloading pirate copies. Sigh.
** Every time I’ve had a puppy—since the monster Alsatian of my childhood—I’ve wondered how people with giant-breed puppies cope. Puppies aren’t supposed to go up and down stairs, for example.^ So, you have a Mastiff or a Great Dane and you live at the top of a flight of stairs? On a cul de sac in a small town in Hampshire, England, say. Does this mean I can only have small-to-medium, carryable dogs unless I move house?^^ I really don’t want to think about a flight-long ramp, although Atlas could probably figure one out. And due to the natural frenzy level of a hellterror and the delicate sensibilities of hellhounds and hellgoddess, Pavlova spends a lot of her time crated^^^ and when I let her out I tend first to tuck her under my arm# and get her to the door as quickly as possible just in case the fervour of freedom puts undue pressure on her bladder. Also, the initial joy-of-life hucklebutting is perhaps better worn off outdoors leaping tall buildings at a single bound. When she comes indoors again she is less likely to jump on the kitchen table—but she’s a lot shorter than a Great Dane. There’s less of her to have to repel. And we’re having some altercations about STAYING OFF THE SOFA.
^ Southdowner or Olivia, WHEN CAN PAV FRELLING DO HER OWN STAIRS? She can already get up a few stairs if I don’t nail her fast enough, especially if there’s a hellhound looking down at her from the top, although she still doesn’t like going down stairs and there’s enough of a hesitation for me to nab her.
^^ Or relocate headquarters to Third House.
^^^ Although the crate sits literally between the hellhounds and me, so she’s in the thick of things, and I’m sure there’s great entertainment value in watching me struggle for dominance over my laptop. That could indeed explain a lot. Hellcritters are all exchanging glances that mean ‘She can’t even control her laptop. We certainly don’t have to pay a lot of attention.’+
+ Although having said that . . . I was starting to worry about getting NOWHERE with the walking quietly on loose lead trick, which is one of those necessary bits of training to have a dog that’s nice to have around, and Southdowner suggested a ‘halti’ harness http://www.petplanet.co.uk/product.asp?dept_id=483&pf_id=4454&co=fr&gclid=CKWsseXwrLQCFcbLtAodSWgALg
So yesterday we went into the pet shop and ordered one, and coming away from the pet shop yesterday . . . I got my first few steps of loose lead ‘walk’. Today we shared a few more. YAAAAAAAY. Of course the moment I cancel my order she’ll revert to mini-bull-dozer.
But the thing that absolutely boggles my tiny mind is that she now almost reliably sits AND WAITS TO BE RELEASED while I scatter food on the floor in front of her. We’re still negotiating ‘down’ a bit. She lies down pretty well, but is inclined to slither around on her belly after bits of kibble that may have escaped.
# Yup. I can still do that. But it gets more exciting every day. She has a spine like a bungie cord. She can beat you to death with her tail while wrapping her forelegs around your neck the better to cover your face with kisses.
*** I don’t like terrors either.
The other kind of dog days: the COLD dog days, where you lie around in a stupor of semi-congealed blood and frost-bitten brain cells rather than crushed to your hammock by sultriness and the weight of your chiffon Mother Hubbard. It was seriously below zero last night, but the temperature creaked up enough* this afternoon for it to start raining, and the hellcritters and I were at the mews and all our rain kit was at the cottage arrrrrgh. And the temperature is re-plunging even now, and at about the time hellcritters and I want to go home all horizontal surfaces between there and here will be sporting a jazzy veneer of smooth tranquil ice. Maybe I’ll try to go home early tonight. . . .
But dog days should concern dogs. Hellhounds and I had three classic encounters today. The first was with the little old lady with the King Charles spaniel, who screams if it gets too close to the hellhounds. The little old lady screams, that is. First time this happened it totally freaked me out but we’ve got mostly used to each other and it hasn’t been bad in a while. She even smiles (the little old lady, not the spaniel). From a safe distance. But I’m pretty sure I can guess what’s going on: she’s lived in her house and walked her dog all her life and she’s not going to give it up without a struggle, even if she’s getting tottery and one good yank from an excited King Charles spaniel could have her over. My original thought was that if she can’t keep her blasted dog under control she shouldn’t be out there with it . . . but as my sixtieth birthday recedes on the horizon behind me my view of the infirmities of age is evolving. When I’m 103 I’ll be out there with leads looped around my Zimmer frame. I may have moved on to Yorkies and Italian greyhounds by then.
Second encounter**. You know you get tired of knowing what’s going to happen. We came around a curve in the path and there, still at a little distance, was one of the big black thug-type Labradors, the kind with a head like a Volkswagen camper van or a small lorry, and it was in classic dog-thug stance. I promptly got hellhounds on short leads and dragged them onto an alternate path that there happened to be one of at that point—this bloody dog was emerging from the end of a long narrow fenced piece of footpath . . . and do I have to bother telling you it was off lead? Hellhounds and I were moving briskly (but not too briskly) at an angle away from where dog-thug was trying out its range of Mean SOB postures . . . and eventually—EVENTUALLY—some irresponsible twit of a woman strolled into view, casually took in the scene and called her dog. Who ignored her. Of course. It made to turn off the path it was on and come after us. The twit grew loud and angry. The dog continued to ignore her.*** At which point the twit’s voice changed and she shouted gaily at us, Oh he’s friendly! One of these days I’m to shout back, Oh I’m not!
We got away—because we had that alternative path to walk down as if we’d meant to all along and couldn’t care less that Conan the Labrador was flexing his muscles from the other side of the hedgerow. I was still shaking with fury and adrenaline when we SAW ANOTHER DOG . . . also off lead, and we were by now onto that narrow fenced stretch, with nowhere to get away. But while this is not something I’d ever rely on, I also knew at first glance—as I’d known that the Lab was trouble—that this dog was not. It saw us, but it wasn’t fussed, and it also kept checking back with its person—which is something I always look for† but hadn’t identified as such till Southdowner pointed it out—it’s one of the ways you know instantly if a dog’s under any kind of control or not. If it’s obviously in a relationship with its person, you’re probably not about to die. If it obviously isn’t. . . .
This one actually went on heel—still off lead—when we got closer. I hoicked my sagging jaw back where it belonged to enable me to exchange pleasantries about the blasted weather with the bloke. I wish well-trained dogs weren’t the exception rather than the rule. SIIIIIIGH. In another couple of months Pavlova will be old enough to do the short form of the river walk—which means starting to meet up with the local canine thug population. She’ll probably still be small enough for me to pick up†† at that point. But she won’t stay that small. And mutant or no, she is a bull terrier. And my hellhounds, nonconfrontational non-hierarchical friendly sighthounds that they are, apparently permanently hate the half-dozen or so dogs that finally pushed them too far.
* * *
* I can’t quite bring myself to say ‘warmed’
** After I had to carry Chaos across the minor lake caused by the riverbank breaking at one of the low places in the path. Darkness waded stoically through. Not Chaos. Chaos is delicate. Darkness leaps twenty feet in the air straight up, shrieking, if the puppy gets anywhere near him, but he can cope with hostile terrain.
*** Of course.
† I have a gigantic advantage as a dilatory dog trainer—that I work from home, and hellcritters are under my feet all the time. I met another woman who wanted to talk to me about whippets and whippet crosses because she’s looking for a puppy and as I know there aren’t a lot of sighthounds in this area, barring adopted ex-racing greyhounds. She wanted to know where I let them run, and I told her, and she said, Do they catch rabbits? And I said yes. And she said, And do they come back to you? Sighthounds being a trifle notorious for not. And I said . . . yes. Well, they do. But it’s not because I’m such a fabulous trainer: it’s because they’re used to having me as a fixed and constant reference point. When they’re off lead, they check to see where I am—and I don’t push this. Mostly they’re on lead, which is safer all round.
We’ll see if this system works with hellterrors. I’m not counting on it.
†† I can carry Chaos across a lake, after all.
††† The rest of the day mostly sucked pond scum too. And I went off to choir practise tonight hysterically convinced that there would be crap in Pav’s crate by the time I got back, since she had declined to have her late afternoon/early evening crap before I went.
There was no crap in the crate. And my high A was still there. So I guess it hasn’t been that awful a day.
IT HAS BEEN AN ABSOLUTE FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING RATBAG OF A DAY. FRELLING.*
It was sunny and gorgeous and around noon positively shirtsleeve weather, which is confusing the summer annuals—most of which are still flowering, and while the fuchsias and begonias are slowing down the snapdragons and geraniums seem to think it’s still August**—and Mortimer Sackler*** is rolling into what I think is her fourth flush. I decided that sanity demanded hellhounds and I have a proper country walk, so we launched ourselves in a brave and forthright manner.
About fifty feet from the last house at the edge of Old Eden, as we set off gallantly along the footpath. . . . I saw a Moron with a Dog. I was not absolutely sure he was a Moron, but the signs were there. Especially the large off lead dog sign. Hellhounds and I veered out into the field. The large dog observed us. The large dog became interested. The large dog began to move in our direction in an interested manner.
Hellhounds and I veered farther out into the field.
The large dog adapted its course accordingly.
The Moron finally noticed and began calling the large dog in feeble and apathetic tones. The large dog, of course, ignored him. The large dog was getting quite close to us by now. It was one of those fashionable Godzillas that was a Labrador a few generations back. Its head was about the size of a V8 engine. Arrrrrgh. I could nearly feel its hot breath on my face. The Moron, having signally failed to get his rotten dog UNDER CONTROL now shouts, He’s very friendly! ARRRRRRGH. His blasted frelling dog is not very friendly: its body language didn’t say I am going to eat you for lunch, but it did say, I am the biggest, meanest SOB in the valley, and I’m going to make sure you acknowledge this fact.
I do not answer the Moron, whereupon the Moron starts shouting in this offended voice, Excuse me? Excuse me? —Excuse you? May I excuse you from living? I shouted back in a voice I did not try too hard to eliminate the fury from, MY DOGS ARE ON LEAD. YOUR DOG IS OFF LEAD.
Oh all right, flounced the Moron, and went so far as to leave the footpath to pursue his wretched dog, and I hope the mud ruined his city shoes. His dog allowed itself to be deflected—he hadn’t caught it by the time we turned through the gap in the hedgerow, but it was having more fun eluding him than it had been chasing us. ARRRRRRRRRGH.
As it happens, on our way home we met up with two friends† who dogsit their daughter’s terrier. They were walking it in Old Eden a few months ago and were attacked by two dogs hanging out unsupervised in their owner’s front garden . . . with the gate left open. The terrier is now so nervous it doesn’t want to go for walks . . . and those two dogs still hang out in that garden with the gate open. Have I mentioned that the police just shrug when you tell them stories like this?
We went home. The washing machine poured water all over the floor of the kitchen. Twice. I wasted ten minutes trying to persuade the frelling hellterror to have her crap in the churchyard†† rather than waiting, with what I can see from behind is increasingly pressing urgency, to get back to Her Spot at the foot of the cottage steps. I failed. And when I finally gave up on the hellterror’s bowel function and we went to the cobbler . . . the cobbler had closed about five minutes before, while we were hanging around POINTLESSLY beside a tombstone.
I got beetroot juice on a favourite sweater. †††
. . . And how badly was bell practise at the abbey going to go tonight? It began with my having to park three towns over and hike because the Christmas Village is going up all over the close and the centre of town and every parking space for miles is occupied either by a chalet or by the car that usually parks where the chalet is. The temperature has also dropped by about seventy-five degrees and I was underdressed. There were ninety-seven or a hundred and twelve of us at practise, and two-thirds of us were at the lower end of ability, so while the comparatively few good ringers rang all night, the rest of us only got put in by ones and twos and spent a very frustrating time standing around a lot.‡
Eventually it was my turn. What would you like to ring? said Scary Man.‡‡ Er um, I said. Bob major? Stedman triples? Stedman triples, said Scary Man. A touch? —My little heart beat faster. I know what’s supposed to happen, I said, I’ve read it up. But I’ve never rung an affected touch and I doubt I can count that high.‡‡‡ Stedman triples! called Scary Man. Albert, will you call a touch?
I did it. I only did it because Scary Man stood at my shoulder and helped me count, but I knew what was happening (except for the counting) and once I escaped the multiplicity of dodges I slotted back into the line again, including seeing which bells I was striking over (the order changes when a call is made), and since ropesight (which is seeing what bells you’re striking over) is probably my worst nightmare at the abbey, this is very good. Yaay me. This is, sadly, undoubtedly beginner’s luck, and next time reality and terrible crashing noises will ensue, but today . . . I will take what I can get. And maybe if I go to bed fast enough nothing else will go wrong. . . .
* * *
* Jack Kornfield, who is a Buddhist, has written a lot of books, most of which I’ve read at one time or another. What I have always liked and been drawn to about a certain style or stream of Buddhism is the awareness of the practical side of life, including that what inevitably happens after a high is that you come down.^ The title of one of his books is AFTER THE ECSTACY, THE LAUNDRY. http://www.jackkornfield.com/books/ Yes. And a real ratbag day includes, speaking of laundry, getting beetroot juice on a favourite sweater. Beetroot juice has been used as a red dye for thousands of frelling years. . . . I do seem to have got it out again, but there was SCREAMING.
^ Making a little hole in the ground and a lot of dust optional.
** Yes, I know. These are all tender perennials, not annuals. But they’re mostly grown as annuals. In my garden the frost will come and they will die. With a hellterror sucking hours out of my anaemic days this winter not to mention a total lack of surface space above puppy-reach level^ it doesn’t look good for the indoor jungle.
^ And she keeps getting TALLER. —You’re a mini, honey. Don’t forget you’re a mini.
† He rings bells. Ninety-five percent of my English acquaintances are bell ringers.^
^ The other five percent are Dickinsons.
†† INSERT STANDARD RANT HERE ABOUT THE MORE-THAN-MORONS THAT LET THEIR DOGS CRAP IN CHURCHYARDS. In this particular case, the churchyard is the only piece of grass in downtown New Arcadia, and if the church admin loses its temper and gets the churchyard closed us with dogs are going to be very unhappy. WHAT DESPICABLE MUTANT TOAD SLIME LETS ITS DOGS CRAP IN CHURCHYARDS???
††† See previous footnote.
‡ And, in some cases, knit.
‡‡ After I fell down laughing hearing someone else refer to Scary Man as Scary Man, someone posted that there were lots of other Scary Men in ringing. Yes, of course. What I hadn’t heard before was it being used as a name, as I use it: Scary Man, rather than a scary man or the scary man, or Blistering tower’s Scary Man.
‡‡‡ There’s a lot of dodging in Stedman anyway: in triples you double dodge on the way up and the way down as well as twice at the back. If the conductor calls a bob while you’re at the back you have to dodge three more times. This is a challenge to my maths skills, especially at the speed that method bells ring.