ALSO. I should begin by saying . . . I’ve been writing, or not writing, this blog post for, ugh, is it ten days? Ugh. Bad me. There’s definitely a certain amount of I’M WRITING A BLOG AGAIN? I WHAT?, involved, decorated with sparkly flashing neon by my total inability to manage my time, um, what is this meaningless phrase ‘to manage time’??, but there’s another thing: I am daily traumatised by this flaming bulltiddly with the new Microsoft Word disappearing every document I reopen. Because it ALWAYS happens. ALWAYS. & sometimes it takes quite a bit of clicking & whizzing around to make it come back, by which time I’m feeling so sick I wonder if I need to run to the loo & throw up. I haven’t yet, but the point is I’m not getting used to this. & having gone through it with book-in-progress every day because I have to, I look at the ‘recent’ list & the poor old blog & think . . . later. Tomorrow. Maybe.
One isn’t allowed, & I get this, to make substantive threats on line. So I’m not going to. But if I could, I could be very creative about what should happen to the nasty, incompetent, irresponsible scumballs at Microsoft.
* * *
It has not been a good week, or ten days, or half an epoch or thereabouts, as anyone who has read . . . um . . . well, almost any of the posts since I had this crazy idea that being gonged with the Grand Matriarchy was a good excuse to restart a blog* may have surmised. Or possibly would-be-loyal readers have had to fight off the claws, teeth & lashing tails screaming out of their computer screen at them when they innocently click on Robin McKinley’s Flying Piano**. The Grand Matriarchy didn’t really attract the Borg’s attention, did it?*** But the amount of bad karma raining down seems disproportionate. It’s only a modest, polite Grand Matriarchy. Isn’t it?
You have already heard, with suitable embellishments, about my (continuing) IT nightmare†. I also, with quite uncharacteristic brevity, made reference to the continuing OUTDOOR nightmare which is the weather.
So, it must a fortnight ago?? by now, we were noodling along in the standard goofy faux-winter weather here, a few degrees above freezing. & then the temperature plunged. Well, this does happen, & I’m still not sure how I survived the first winter I had Genghis, because he takes no prisoners in terms of speed, whatever the footing. His huge whirling paws whirl a little faster on ice, is all, & since he has four of them if one or even two are briefly out of service, he can & does carry on. Me, not so much.
But the last two winters have stayed relatively mild—certainly mild to anyone who used to live in Maine. It does freeze here, & it does snow here, but it doesn’t gang up on you. Much.
Anyway. Two weeks ago the temperature dropped. But we also had snow, & we also had sleet, & we had some more snow & some more sleet—I may have the chronological order wrong, but you get the idea. The first day of this unpleasantness saw me cranky but stoic—also with a hand through Genghis’ collar most of the time; he’s tall enough that he is very useful for keeping me on my feet, & I think the giant paws kind of spread, like, um, well the rather unfortunate metaphor that comes to me is a toilet plunger: you lean on the handle & it obligingly goes gleep & sticks itself to the bowl. I think that may happen with Genghis’ paws on icy pavement. They’re webbed, after all, he being a hunting dog for rough hostile ground that may suddenly become marsh or lake, he is born prepared.†† I don’t hear them ripping loose as he picks each foot up, but then I’m probably muttering imprecations as well as plugged in to something uplifting††† on my iPhone‡ so I don’t hear this. If he were willing to creep along at a slithering-human pace all would be well, but of course he isn’t.
ANYWAY. I was a little surprised that the ploughs weren’t visibly out there—including noisily out there in the middle of the night, as used to happen in Maine—but whatever. But by the second day when apparently nothing had been ploughed—including my street which has a surgery/doctors’ clinic on it farther up the hill—I was feeling a little more than cranky. ‘Outraged’ might be closer to the mark. Particularly because the street immediately behind me, which is the one Genghis & I more often use, was rapidly becoming literally impassable as the snow & the sleet merrily accumulated. Even Genghis’ feet were having trouble getting traction, because as all you out there in country that has winter know, if you stomp down on snow, with feet & wheels, it turns into ice, & particularly if you have sleet landing on top of it, you quickly develop a mirror-gloss surface which probably has a use somewhere in the universe but not on road surfaces you’re trying to walk (or drive) on.
Now here’s the thing.
THIS TOWN DOESN’T PLOUGH. THE ADMIN CLAIMS THEY DON’T HAVE THE MONEY FOR IT. THEY DOODAH FRELLING WHATSIT ARRRGH ARRRGH ARRRGH WHAT? THEY’RE TRYING TO UPGRADE THE GYM & ADD FANCY NEW EQUIPMENT TO MAKE IT MORE ATTRACTIVE & ENGAGING & PULL IN MORE PAYING MEMBERS. WHO AREN’T GOING TO BE USING IT IF THEY’RE BREAKING THEIR LIMBS FALLING DOWN ON THE ICE GETTING THERE & WILL PROBABLY CANCEL THEIR SUBSCRIPTIONS, YOU KNOW?? WHICH IS A TRIFLE COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. THEY’RE TRYING TO BUILD A NEW SCHOOL, WHICH IS FINE & DANDY & AN INVESTMENT IN OUR FUTURE EXCEPT IT’S NOT GOING TO DO US A BLIND BIT OF GOOD IF WE CAN’T GET THE KIDS TO & FROM THIS OR ANY SCHOOL SAFELY.
I could go on. But here’s the bottom line: THIS IS A TOWN IN NORTH EAST SCOTLAND. & THEY DON’T HAVE A CONTINGENCY FUND FOR WHEN BAD WEATHER LASTS LONGER THAN, LET’S SAY, 48 HOURS.
Neither of my organic grocery orders arrived last week.‡‡ I ran out of fresh veg on Sunday. I’m not going to die of starvation or anything—I have a freezer & a pantry & I’m a card-carrying Number One Crazy hoarder, but not only do I like my fresh veg, this is also the dreaded Run Up to Christmas season, & so I was theoretically laying in for January, when all delivery systems in the Christmas-celebrating world go to pieces, so my HOARDS ARE DOWN & of course being a Number One Crazy type, I’m convinced I am going to starve to death. One of the boxes finally fell limply on my doorstep on Monday, having clearly been through the Dominion Wars, & while the fresh veg were mostly only good for the stock pot, hey, I make stock, so that’s better than nothing.‡‡ & last week I was also due FINALLY to get the admin sign-off on the house renovation work—which came to some kind of end over a year ago‡‡‡—which was cancelled when the admin guy ran off the unploughed & unsanded road & crashed his car.§
Fun times. Not. . . . Meanwhile I had better post this§§. & I’ll tell you about losing my internet for half a day because email nonproviders & Microsoft are not enough, & nearly dying of exposure when the lock on the back gate froze & I had no way to get into the house because the front door was bolted . . . next time.
Cliff hangers ‘r’ us.§§§
* * *
* I’m reading a murder mystery where the heroine gets in trouble for writing a blog post. She keeps saying, No one reads blogs any more! They’re so vintage! They’re so hopelessly creaky! Okay maybe three people over the age of 85 read them but no one takes them seriously! No one pays attention!^
Yeah. Bite me.
^ I may have made up the ‘three people over the age of 85’+ part.
+ Peter should have turned 95 a few days ago. Sigh. Well, he did turn 95, he just wasn’t around for the Prosecco.#
# I take that ‘as long as you’re alive in someone’s memory you’re still alive’ thing with utmost dedication.
** It’s not her fault! Really! She is a kind, forgiving creature, as you will understand better when I can post the FLYING PIANO photos! Any lesser instrumental being would have arranged to fall on me as soon as the (exhausted) removal men left. Several hundred of them. Limping. Their arms all at least two inches longer than they were that morning.^
^ Readers of the old blog may recall the story of my asking the official specialist piano movers about my darling, when they moved her from the mews to Third House back in Hampshire. I said, everybody says their piano is the heaviest piano ever made. Where does this one actually appear on the list? & the very large, subtly muscled young man who had been lifting one end or the other of my beautiful piano as if it was no big deal, looked me in the eye with a faint smile & said, this one really is the heaviest piano ever made. 1897 Steinway upright. Built to last. Yow.
*** Maybe I should conduct a poll of other winners?^
^ Nah. Half of them I’m afraid of, about a quarter of them I wouldn’t cross the road to spit on, fortunately most of these are dead+, & unfortunately several of those I would run across the road to embrace the feet of are also dead, & the rest of them probably wouldn’t answer.++
+ but not all. Ahem.#
# I’m a harsh, opinionated & unforgiving reader.= This is not news. However one of my airy GOALS for the new blog is to post book recs more often. When I was given the story-writing gene, &, arguably, the blog-writing gene, the book-review-writing gene got left out of the package. Drat. But even I can say ‘READ THIS IT’S FABULOUS’ &, you know, since the New Blog is going to include my learning to write short, hey.==
= Misogyny gets you spat on. Just sayin’.
== Also I just finished something that is TOOOOOOTALLY FABULOUS. TOTALLY. It’s mrggghffmmm, um, no, I’m not wasting a blog post, I’ll tell you tomorrow. Or the day after. Or . . . But one of the knock-on effects of the Borg meddling in Grand Matriarchal lives is that Young Beowulf is presently run off his feet, or his keyboard fingers, in both his aspects, YB & Blogdad, & furthermore blasted Christmas is coming & he has a family%. I don’t know when this blog will finally come to rest somewhere I can frelling use it.%% No, you’re quite right, the need to have a post ready for someone else merely to hang it should not be this enormous issue, but I derange easily. Which is also not news.%%%
% Silly, time-wasting things, families$
$ Genghis opens one eye in a mildly affronted way & all my house plants sit up & flap their leaves aggrievedly.
%% & a FORUM
%%% If it turns out I’m an alien from another universe, it would explain a lot.
++ Who is this crazy person? Oh. The 2022 winner. Well, they can’t always get it right.
† Further ref the Disappearing Document Slough of Despond with Attendant Demons? It’s started happening in Outlook. Joy. JOY.
†† He also sheds more than any other dog or company of dogs I have ever lived with. He doesn’t have what I think of as a real undercoat, like Arctic-prepared dogs, that fluffy bouncy duvet-filler. But the ‘wire’ coat is at least two different lengths, the basic short-ish hair & the longer guard, if you call them guard in this case, hairs, although the long harsh stuff is really a second coat in itself.^ But in the past two years of Genghis I could have stuffed an entire three-piece living-room suite with dog hair. A big fat three-piece suite.
^ His ears are the silkiest things ever. Just by the way.
††† This may be Verdi or Donizetti or Steve Earle or Emmylou Harris or Stick in the Wheel or Lady Maisery, depending on my mood. Or a few others.^ HOWEVER the album on heavy repeat is Rhiannon Giddens’ THERE IS NO OTHER.
^ One of these aeons I’ll post about using Audible.
‡ If I’m renaming everything for the new blog, it should be called Possessed by Demons, but that’s probably asking for trouble.
‡‡ Yes, I’m an organic junkie. I’m not going to argue about this. It’s simply one of the things that keeps me upright, functioning, banging on my keyboard, & running after my dog. Full stop.
‡‡‡ SORE POINT ALERT. Yes, covid screwed everyone up including the building industry, & fallout & knock-on continues, I get that. But a lot of the stuff that hasn’t happened about finishing off work on this house is down to responsible human beings being replaced by meatloaf & Play Dough banged roughly into bipedal shapes & propped at desks & behind the steering wheels of vans with things like ALL BUILDING WORK SWIFTLY & COMPETENTLY PERFORMED painted on their sides. Saying YOU’RE NOT A HUMAN BEING PLEASE FIND ME A HUMAN BEING when confronted with one or more of these objects doesn’t seem to work.
§ He’s okay. His car is not.
§§ Or rather ask the long-suffering Blogdad to post it for me. Speaking of ongoing tech misery & grimitude^, I have already played the world’s tiniest violin about how SOME DAY the blog will have a nice permanent home. But I begin to harbour the unwelcome suspicion that the reason Blogdad is having trouble finding that permanent home which will suit my exacting requirements is because footnote * is actually right. Well, bite me anyway. I want an old-fashioned blog because I’m a cranky old-fashioned blog writer.^^
^ yeah, I know, the noun form is grimness. Grimness doesn’t cover it in this case.
^^ WHO REMEMBERS WHEN THE INTERNET DIDN’T EXIST, LET ALONE BLOGS.
§§§ Postscript: in the time it has taken me to both write this blog & REMEMBER to put it somewhere Blogdad will find & post it for me, the temperature has risen back above freezing & I’m out of steel-tread mountain boots & back in All Stars.