. . . weather. So yeah. We’ve been having a hurricane. All the official news sites & forecasters & blah blah were calling it a storm but that inadequately describes the experience of living through it, especially on the top of a hill, yeep. Also, we had an eye on Friday, so I’m calling it a hurricane because it, you know, came back, which I don’t think ordinary run-of-the-mill storms are supposed to. We’re not even in Kansas.* We’re in SCOTLAND. We don’t have big horrible lashing hammering storms with eyes here.**
I have periodic attacks of Not Sleeping without any external assistance, thank you very much, & all the banging, whooshing, banshee-shrieks & aggressive splattering made the three nights in question undesirably interesting. I lay rigidly awake staring into the darkness & reminding myself that this noble house has stood here for over 150 years & is probably good for a few more. Thursday morning also began interestingly when I was sitting here at my laptop going click-click-click with the radio on low & a dog snoring gently to my left & I could still hear a weird sort of rushing?? noise, & I suddenly trampolined out of my not-very-concentrating concentration*** & raced across the hall & . . . yes, I had water cascading down the inside yes that’s what I said INSIDE of the sitting-room window. JOY. NOT.†
Never get into serious house renovation. It will make you crazy. & I, as we all know, was crazy before. However, as I keep reminding myself††, if this house hadn’t needed major renovations†††, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it—&‡ I still don’t know why it wasn’t bought out from under me by the Scottish equivalent of the bankers from London who had ruined New Arcadia by the time I left. But they didn’t, & here I am, GAZILLIONS of renovations later‡‡, & I love the house & I’m glad I’m here BUT THERE ARE A FEW THINGS . . .
One of them is that the new sitting-room window leaks. I’ve told you this is a standard double-fronted Scottish Victorian, so the front windows are big & bay, which is to say bulgy. All the windows were replaced, I having been advised by all the EXPERTS‡‡‡ that this was necessary, but they didn’t mention that they were going to destroy my windowsillsɸ . . . or that some supposed builder person was going to have a Bad Day & the sitting-room window would be installed in a less than optimum manner with the result that it would leak catastrophically from day one. It’s been mended twice, as I recall. That would be ‘mended’. & while the aftereffects of covid come into it, let me not get started on a rant about builders who keep losing your email address & phone number as soon as you’ve paid them.
So. Life in a hurricane. First you mop the floor.ɸɸ Next there is getting your hyperactive canine companion out.ɸɸɸ I used to call it hurtling with the hellhounds, & hurtling will certainly do, but it doesn’t really fully encompass the multi-dimensional substantiality of HURTLING a GWHP.Ω
Ambergris-shire had red, purple & polka-dot warnings for extreme weather all over its council pages, & when I called up my weather app on the iPhone I was nearly dazzled by all the in your face WHATEVER IT IS DON’T DO IT, WE DON’T CARE YOU HAVE A GWHP, STAY INDOORS banners. So I did try to be cautious. Genghis & I usually use the back door, which has level access to a side street; the front door not only leads you down the garden, with the hurricane screaming off the ocean at you & trying to rip your eyelids off, but there is a long staircase from the bottom of the garden to the street, not very negotiable with a small, staircase-sized vortex gnashing at you hungrily. & I DID edge out cautiously at the end of the narrow, level-access pedestrian alley . . . I was still very nearly lifted off my feet & thrown to the intersection at the top of the street. Dogs are so much better designed for this kind of activity. Low to the ground & four legs. Well, the weather warnings had included that wind gusts were up to 70 mph. So, greatly to the GWHP’s disgust, since he loves melodrama in all things including weather, we kind of crept through our outdoor adventure, & I had my hand through his collar kind of a lot, even more greatly to his disgust, so he could help keep me on the blasted ground. I had thought to plait my hair, but I still couldn’t see through the smash of rain on my glasses, & I kept being knocked into walls, or after gingerly picking one foot up that leg would be snatched & slammed violently into the other one. I don’t like hurricanes. We also both came home DRENCHED. Fortunately Converse invented Gore-Tex high tops a few years ago, although the colour selection leaves a lot to be desired, & I have one of those raincoats that are supposed to be inclement-weather-on-Everest-proof, although I hadn’t bought it expecting to test it for withstanding equivalent immoderate meteorological conduct. & GWHP fur is designed to shed water.
During the EYE on Friday we ventured down to the shore to see what havoc had been wreaked there. In the first place you couldn’t get to the shore because all the paths, roads, boardwalks, bridges, etc were jammed solid with detritus, & most of them were seriously under water as well. We figured out a way through at lastΩΩ & . . . it was pretty impressive in a I-didn’t-move-to-Scotland-for-this way. & the sea was still crashing up the shingle in great foamy waves higher than your head. You could see snickering kelpies riding the crests. I did get a few photos, but since this required coping with a maniacal dogΩΩΩ they are probably not that awesome. Never mind. What I did notice is that while the river is in frantic spate & there are a lot of deployed sandbags, this town looks to be in pretty good shape, at least the downtown bits Genghis & I regularly cruise. The boulders, tree trunks & rhinoceros-sized clots of seaweed seem to have fallen short of human habitation. Although a couple of the shore-side cafes look more than a bit worse for wear.
. . . & Saturday night? STARS. VISIBLE STARS OVERHEAD?!? I’d almost forgotten. & the wind wasn’t trying to take my head off.
* * *
. . . & today? Uh, sunlight?? SUNLIGHT. I remember sunlight. Enjoy it while it lasts. It’s supposed to start raining again tomorrow. I hope without the hurricane part.
* * *
* & Genghis most definitely is not Toto
** Yes we do.
*** I do not do CONCENTRATION in the morning.
† That’s one way to get the plants on the windowsill watered. Not, perhaps, the best way.
†† with the occasional self-applied whack up longside the head for emphasis
††† I have told you, haven’t I, it’s one of those scary little loops that runs around my brain, that the house wiring dated from the 1950s?? I was told this up front, it’s not that the very nice lady who sold the house to me was trying to get away with anything. But THE NINETEEN FIFTIES?? British frelling electricity is freaking dangerous even when it’s new.^ I was surprised she could sleep at night with all the hissing & sizzling noises.^^
^ It’s twice the something-or-other—let’s call it potency—of American electricity, so your average wall plug is the size of Mike Tyson’s fist, & has its own snarling, double-strength fuse.
^^ Maybe she couldn’t. Maybe that’s why she decided to sell up & move into a pleasant, tidy, new, up-to-the-minute, dimmer-switches-in-every-room, retirement flat. I don’t like dimmer switches+ & I LIKE all my stuff, I don’t WANT to move into anything smaller. If I don’t sweep the floor anyway, who cares how much of it there is? What I WANT is more bookshelves.++
+ ONE MORE FREAKING COMPLICATION. Like social media. They may be very nice in their way, but I have 1,000,000,000,000 books to read & a dog to walk,= my life is complicated enough.
= & a few more stories to write, God willin’ & the crick don’t rise
++ As it happens her shiny beautiful retirement flat is part of a new build complex down on the shore. Where you haven’t wanted to be, the last few days.
‡ Another loop that keeps running in my tiny mad brain. If you blog readers last long enough this will probably wear off, or at least I’ll start remembering I’ve told you this before. Maybe several times. Maybe several several times. Maybe . . .
‡‡ I may also have mentioned that the next book REALLY needs to sell if Genghis & I are going to keep eating, in our fabulous hilltop house with only a FEW—few few FEW if I keep saying that maybe it’ll be true FEW—little renovatory^ GLITCHES that still need solving
^ Microsucky, which has no sense of humour, insists this is not a word. I use not-words all the time, but sometimes maybe they are not as clear in context as I think they are? Renovation-related, okay?
ɸ Another epic saga. Tell you later.
ɸɸ When I’ve got a big enough puddle that it’s running gaily over the slanting^ better-than-150-year-old floor, threatening the legs of my old wooden furniture & possibly getting involved with that dangerous British electricity^^, yes, even I mop.
^ May I just say that I do not buy cylindrical dog kibble. I do a certain amount of free feeding as part of keeping him amused, but it does not amuse me to be chasing runaway dog kibble into the cracks under the cupboards. There should not be cracks under the cupboards, of course. See: do not get into serious house renovations, it will make you crazy.
^^ The house has been rewired, & my electrician is one of the good guys. Some of my present selection of lamps & electric fires, however, were old when I moved here. To the UK, I mean, over 30 years ago, not Scotland, a little less than 5 years ago.
ɸɸɸ I’m kind of worried about most of the other dogs in this town. We saw barely anybody else. Granted German Wire Haired Pointer perpetual frenzied motion machines are uncommon, which demonstrates very good sense among the dog-owning population, but if you have a dog or dogs, you walk them, even the mellow, laid-back ones, even in the middle of a hurricane.
Ω Perhaps I will work on a nice non-word for the experience. I like winding Microfrellinguglydoodah up, since it so often winds me up.
ΩΩ I was thinking, this is where I get to count myself as a local. I’m certainly not, nor ever will be, a native, & I will always be an incomer. But when you can think, okay, I can’t get through here, where can I get through? & you come up with an answer, you get to be a local. I’ve probably already told you that one of my Favourite Things is when people with heavy Scottish accents ask me for directions. Hee hee hee hee hee. This used to amuse me back in Hampshire too—I mean, people with English accents—but somehow it’s a richer, more fulfilling experience up here. I also seem to get asked more often than I did in Hampshire; I wouldn’t have said this was a particularly complicated town or layout, but I suppose it’s more out in the middle of nowhere than anywhere in Hampshire, & if you’re trying to find some other town you will probably have gone farther before you figure out you’re going wrong here than you would in Hampshire, where the next village or town starts nearly at the edge of the one you’re standing in. Which is also to say that GPS hasn’t quite taken over the universe yet, any more than social media has stopped people from getting together for cups of tea in real time & real space.^
^ or on Zoom.+ I’m old enough to remember when a trans-Atlantic phone call included pauses while what you’ve said swims across the pond & what the person you’re talking to says has to swim back to you. Zoom is still virtual reality, I know, but it’s kind of realistic virtual reality.
+ or the latest face-to-face thing, which probably doesn’t work on my tech, because my tech is like that.
ΩΩΩ & with one or two Serious Photographers who didn’t feel that a cranky old woman with an iPhone & a maniacal dog had to be considered as they set up their next fabulous award-winning shot. Genghis will sit for a dog biscuit, but this process takes two hands, whereupon while he’s digesting I have to free up one hand, get the blasted phone out, line up the shot & TAKE IT before the dog biscuit wears off & he needs another one to stay sitting. This doesn’t allow for a lot of adjustment in either time or positioning, & several of what would have been my best shots have a jerk with a long lens in them. I tell myself the jerk provides perspective. I feel that the tipped-over bins, the benches with water halfway to their seats & the cracked & splintery tree trunks that are a good half the height of the ground floor windows they’re sprawled in front of would provide enough perspective.