One of the unexpected difficulties of writing this only occasionally rather than every day* is that since I live a life so fraught with incident and peril** it’s hard to know what to lead with. I could, for example, tell you that my new blender arrived a few days ago and I’ve been afraid to unpack it in fear that it is not the answer to an elderly hag’s prayers, or possibly that it’s not what I ordered at all but—from the size of the box—thirty or forty more hand-held stick blenders that I don’t want. And I could make a major saga out of finally opening the box today, because I finally got tired of it looming over me, and discovering that it is, indeed, what I ordered, but what I ordered is the size of a railway carriage or seven or eight wolfhounds and it gets bigger as you pry it, gasping with exertion and amazement, out of the box. Which, despite said box being big enough to contain Wolfgang, is barely big enough to contain this dangerous and mighty object, which I am tempted to name Troll or Golem or Ben Grimm. And is requiring that I ENTIRELY REARRANGE MY KITCHEN to accommodate it. ARRRRRRRRGH.***
Or I could tell you that Fiona and I had our first Yarn Adventure in some months this week, and that the proprietor of our chosen shop% RECOGNISED us and said, salivating visibly, that we hadn’t been around in a while and was just saying to his wife, I wonder when we’ll see that American woman from New Arcadia and her friend from Crathie%% again? Well I have to keep going back because I keep forgetting to bring my loyalty card and I have about twelve of them at this point. And then, because sagas are how I live my life, I could tell you, with a lot of shouting and flamboyant metaphor, that it seemed like a perfectly fine thing at the time that the skeins of the [indie] yarn I bought are 400 metres long WINDING THE FRELLERS UP IS DRIVING ME BONKERS BECAUSE IT TAKES HOURS. I try to tell myself that three skeins of 400 metres is no different than 12 skeins of 100 metres BUT THAT’S NOT HOW IT FEELS.%%%
Or I could tell you that the giant bailiff-sending admin giant suing me this week for non-payment is the city council, gleefully informing me that I am to be broken on the wheel as well as my autographed LOTR confiscated$, so I had another of my jolly afternoons going in to the city council offices and sorting that out, carefully sharpened knitting needles optional, which sorting will last for forty-eight hours or so, with plenty of time to go disastrously wrong again by next month’s council tax due date, which is to say that while I have the little paper ‘paid’ stubs in my hot little hand, the email confirmation has failed to arrive.
Well of course it has failed to arrive. I remember, vividly, and without any haze of nostalgia whatsoever, the first time I received one of these billets-doux, a few months after the whole ghastly business of—arrgh, I’m sure I gave my inexpressible bank a blog name, but I was apparently too distracted to preserve it on my dramatis personae list: so we’ll call it Feckless & Calamity for the moment, and I may adjust it later—the whole ghastly business of Feckless & Calamity shutting me down when they shut Peter’s account down, because they somehow misplaced the information that I was still alive and wanted my money available THANK YOU VERY MUCH. The repercussions of which bankly error ARE STILL HAPPENING OVER TWO YEARS LATER$$. Anyway, the first time I received a WE’RE SUING YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE A VILE MALINGERER AND/OR A SECRET OFFSHORE HOARDING THIEF AND AN OOZING CARBUNCLE ON OUR EXQUISITE, AND FAULTLESSLY ADMINISTERED, COUNTY’S FACE from the city council, including an appear-in-court date in heavy red lettering with an official stamp, I spent the afternoon throwing up, fortunately beginning only after I’d successfully managed to ring for a wedding. Which I think I told the old blog. I still get the adrenaline spikes—for which thank you with flourishes because an adrenaline spike means I’m overdone meatloaf for the rest of that day and a super spike will linger in a brain- and energy-destroying meatloafian manner for another day or two after—but I don’t throw up any more. Small mercies. Very, very, very small mercies.
I also really need to have been telling you stuff about the garden, because midsummer is already over and everything is getting AWAAAAAAAAAY FROM MEEEEEEEEE which is, I admit, what happens every year, but the ME has been so bad that there have been a lot of tottering days and tottering around the garden makes me feel like I’m doing something$$$, and you can totter through quite a bit of gardening if you’re just out there a lot, with the result that the garden is having rather a good year.£ I’ve even sat down to admire the view occasionally. Admiring the view gives you an excuse to sit down, when you don’t want to admit to the tottering.
BUT NO. I’M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU ANY OF THAT. I’M GOING TO TELL YOU . . . ::BOUNCES IN A MANNER UNBECOMING TO A WOMAN OF HER ADVANCED YEARS:: . . .££
Tomorrow. Or maybe the day after. Because this is, after all, an occasional blog. Mwa hahahahahahah. And because I’m frelling well over two thousand words, which is not allowed, and I’ll be over three thousand if I keep going. Besides, I like suspense.£££
* * *
* And, believe me, occasionally is the only option available. Three years ago I wasn’t cooking everything from scratch and then turning it into soup. Mind you, I have no memory whatsoever of what I ate the last four months of Peter’s life when he was in hospital and then at Rivendell, and I was going in to spend time with him every day. Presumably I ate something. But I also still had a working, if incomplete, set of teeth three years ago.
** Hellbeasts! Demon computers! Pogosticking blenders! Gordian yarn-stash knots! Bloodthirsty rose-bushes! Abbeys at the End of the Universe! Who needs enchanted swords and evil magicians?
*** Meanwhile I used the little old counter-jumper again today. There may have been moaning. Also I have to learn to USE the new thing and it has a dashboard like a frelling 747. I think I probably need an experienced copilot. There doesn’t seem to be one folded up^ with the instructions.
^Just Add Water
% And my favourite shop because of the frelling indie yarns; you can always buy Rowan or Malabrigo on the internet, so you can put it back on a shop shelf. Except of course when you can’t, which is what happened to me this time, because apparently Rowan’s Brushed Fleece is going out of production, so the colours I decided, having seen them in person, I MUST HAVE, are gone ARRRRRRGH. Also, while one is TRYING to keep real-world shops open^, the point of going to an indie-specialist yarn shop is that you’re keeping both a yarn shop and some indie producers going,^^ So put the frelling Rowan back. And think of all the money you’ll save when you can’t find it later on the internet.
^ WHICH?’s cover story this month is, Is it all over for the high street? As a knitter who likes to squish yarn before she buys it occasionally, or flip actual paper pages of a book and read a bit in the middle before she decides whether or not to buy it+, I hope not.
+ As opposed to ‘look inside’ on amazon which not infrequently consists of the acknowledgements, the dedication, the list of chapters, three lines of the prologue and nothing else. Although if it’s a murder mystery and the first three lines tell me that I am going to be expected to read about the last few minutes/hours/days of the soon to be corpse, especially if this brief, as one might say bleed-on, role is a kid or a young woman, and we’re going to hear in detail about everything that now isn’t going to happen in their life and how horrible their death is and how ill and frightened they are and how they wish they hadn’t done whatever, then that’s as much as I need and I do not want the book. I want the murder victim as a plot device, okay? I don’t want a character.
^^ So double your virtue, which perhaps covers the days when your latest organic whole-foods order in user-friendly cardboard boxes is so frelling swathed in heavy plastic tape you can’t face peeling it all off and so shove everything in the non-recycle bin. I want to have a little chat with the ‘reuse’ people. If the cardboard is as limp as a Basset hound’s ears, aren’t you better off recycling it NOW rather than making it carry another load which will require the above swathing in PLASTIC? Not to mention potentially losing a cranky customer.
%% Hey, Fiona is a Scots name. So it’s a long drive.
%%% Indies never, ever sell you balls of pre-wound yarn. They like to share the pain.
$ And for those of you fainting and/or fanning and/or fanning after fainting over the idea of an autographed LORD OF THE RINGS, yes, and it’s the Pauline Baynes single-volume edition so, if I may say so, very desirable. I also bought it yonks and yonks ago when it was still Very Expensive for the time and for my pocketbook, but I wouldn’t even think about looking at the price tag of such an item now so I’m glad I don’t have to. However, the jolly fellow who sold it to me, while I was doing the fainting-and-fanning thing over the fact that I was going to BUY IT and be able to HOLD IT IN MY HANDS ANY TIME I WANTED TO^, said to me bracingly, you realise that Tolkien only leaned on it for ten seconds while he wrote his name and then did the same to the next book in the stack?, and I said THANKS SO MUCH THAT’S VERY KIND, I HOPE YOUR HAIR EXPLODES. You will notice that forty or so years later I still remember this. I can’t remember why I went upstairs a minute ago—I get a lot of exercise going upstairs, finding I’ve forgotten why, going downstairs again, remembering, going UPSTAIRS again, forgetting . . . this can go on quite a while . . . but I remember without any difficulty whatsoever that the old book dealer who sold me my beloved signed LOTR was a jerk about it.
^ I’m certainly not going to risk its continued health and safety by reading it, but since I have 1,000,000,000 other editions of LOTR+, this is not a big problem.
+ Including my very first ebook purchase
$$ As described in the previous post. I told Alfrick about this, about the way it keeps on and on and on, and he said that this happened to the abbey some years ago, that when Feckless & Calamity has shut you down once, even when its their frelling error, it will go on shutting you down at erratic intervals la-la-la-la whenever it doesn’t have anything else to amuse it. He solved the problem by going in and thundering, which worked for him and the abbey, but I suspect that being seven feet tall and looking like an Old Testament prophet, and accoutred in the long black flowing monkly robes, helped. These attributes are not available to me. ^
^ Yes I could hire long black twirly stuff and something to wrinkle up as a wimple, try to arrange my visage in nunnish lineaments, and go in and quaver at them, but I don’t think it would have same effect.
$$$ Even if it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing, like ringing bells, singing in the band at St Margaret’s, meeting a friend I haven’t seen in thirty years for the day—that one, I tell you, really hurt—or even working to some length on DIARY. However when everything else falls away, let me reassure you, hurtling hellbeasts and writing at least one or two words in DIARY remain.
£ And I’d much rather be loomed over by ten-foot rose-bushes that the catalogue said grew to four foot^, than by cardboard boxes containing blenders with jugs big enough to produce soup for the annual dinner of the Worshipful Company of Farriers, and farriers have big appetites.
^ Despite the blood loss aspect. And yes, a ten-foot rose bush does obligate better than twice the blood loss of a four-foot rose bush.
££ And no it’s nothing like turning DIARY in and having it scheduled for publication by a delighted editor who furthermore wants to pay me a shocking amount of money for it. Believe me, mere bouncing would be an inadequate reaction to that news.
£££ THE HELL I LIKE SUSPENSE. I only like it when I’m causing it.^ ‘Suspense’ is one of those words on a book cover that make me put it down.
^ So an alternative reading is that I really am an evil carbuncle, just like the city council says, although the secret offshore hoarding? I wish.