I am sitting here staring out the (back) window where the dog blankets are flapping in the rain* on the laundry line whirligig thing—the wind, even in the small walled back garden, spins it around exuberantly, which would dry them quickly if it weren’t for the, you know, rain . . . & wondering why ordinary stupid life upkeep takes so much time?
If I need another reason, besides the everlasting hellfire of technology**, why I am still failing to find & keep a rhythm to posting to my poor stumbling new blog, that’s it. Fifteen, I think plus, years ago, when I started the old blog, life was—a little—simpler.
For example, my hellhounds, beloved & still much missed fruitcakes-with-added-Drambuie-soaked-raisins that they were, were nothing on the insanity level of a several-times-rehomed German Wire Haired Pointer, sweetheart that he is in many ways that don’t have to do with two & a half hours a day of FULL FREAKING TURBO THROTTLE IN AT LEAST NINE DIMENSIONS SIMULTANEOUSLY. The hellhounds got as much time on the ground as he does but they learnt some lead manners which Genghis has signally failed to do in the last nearly-three years, arrrrrrrgh, which means that our two & a half hours are a lot more tiring than the hellhounds’ for the little old lady pelting along behind*** & allow no time or brain focus whatsoever for plotting, which is one of the purposes of having a dog(s) to take you, which is to say me, for long walks.† So I come home both whackeder & crosser, although looking into two large bright brown eyes & listening to the tail swishing across the floor†† as a certain hairy member of the family sits waiting for his we’re-home-&-you’re-taking-my-collar-off-&-I-get-a-BISCUIT-for-sitting-here-so-nicely, cheers me up pretty reliably.††† Still. Twenty one & a half hours a day Genghis is a delightful companion. Two & a half hours a day he is a demon from nine simultaneous hells. Arrrrgh.
. . . & I have now rattled on, with the noble assistance of my footnote pathology, about essentially nothing for quite long enough. More About Ordinary Stupid Life Upkeep in future unbearably thrilling blog posts. Meanwhile
YOU ARE ALL AWARE THAT THE 2023 NEBULA AWARDS WEEKEND EPIC STARTS THIS FRIDAY.
Grandmaster Q&A: Once you’ve joined the Discord, find the #ask-the-grandmaster channel and post any questions that you’d love for our newest SFWA Grand Master Robin McKinley to answer. We will be collecting the questions and sending them on to her to respond to after the conference.
I was originally hoping to have one or two questions before the convention, but that’s apparently not going to happen. I’ll be linking my answers either here or on the also-as-yet-unorganised-&-underused new web site, so anyone who has despaired of getting an answer to questions sent to my Ask Robin McKinley contact form, this is another possibility. Mind you I will make up a list of questions asked through the blog & either pin them to the new FAQ, whenever I get the new FAQ written‡, or turn them into a blog post. Or, conceivably, answer them privately, but until I can afford to hire full-time staff‡‡ everything that isn’t story-writing, dog, organic food prep, rose bushes‡‡‡ . . . & a few other time-expensive things that will probably make it onto the blog some day or other‡‡‡‡ . . . tends to get shoved kind of far down the list. Where it collects dust & dog hair.
* * *
* which isn’t all that bad a thing. I hang my clothes on the indoor overhead airer—have I yet maudlinly praised the great British indoor airer, which you crank up & down on a rope?^ I assume America used to have something like, but so far as I know they died out with the advent of the tumble dryer; over here, where Tradition Is All^^, the overhead airer is perhaps a niche item, but it’s available. I’m probably getting into deep water full of sharks with this comment, but when I moved over here (more than) 30 years ago^^^ part of my culture shock was that ordinary cost of living stuff was, or anyway seemed to be, a lot higher in England. Utilities for example. Peter wouldn’t have an electric dryer, they were too expensive to run. Oh.^^^^ We pegged stuff out on washing lines back at the old house, where we had garden space for a flotilla of laundry lines#. I discovered the reality of the British indoor airer at the cottage in Hampshire where the small back garden was soon wedged ten foot high with untidy rose bushes, which made laundry lines impractical.
ANYWAY.## I hang my own clothing indoors on the overhead airer that wafts gently against the ceiling at the back end of the kitchen.### But while I used to hang dog blankets indoors in Hampshire, it turns out that German Wire Haired Pointers shed in measurable gigalitres, & the kitchen soon had drifts of grey- & liver-coloured medium-length hair, said drifts in size not unlike accumulated snow at the edges of your driveway in Maine in January. Whereupon outside whirligig airer; the back garden is too small & the wrong shape for standard lines. However dog hair is clingy. It works itself diabolically into the weave of the fabric it has been so liberally bestowed upon. I have discovered the hard way that merely hanging out freshly washed dog blankets to dry= is inadequate. They need to be out there several DAYS, preferably pounded by the elements, before I want to risk bringing them indoors again. I’m sure I have a terrible reputation among the occupants of the four?, I think, houses that can see over my back walls, for slovenly housekeeping. They’re right, but not about why my dog blankets spend so much time on the line.
^ Probably. But it’s one of my favourite pieces of Ordinary Life Stuff so I’m going to praise it again.
^^ don’t get me started on the coronation. I used to think the royals were fun to watch when I still lived in the States. When it’s my tax pounds which are going to help fund their outrageous life style, not so much.
+ & the British are still a mystery to me
^^^^ This was perhaps more of an earth-underfoot-agitator to me than to someone whose belief system did not include that you know you’re finally a real grown-up when you stop going to laundromats & have your own washer. & dryer.
# or for the laundry generated by their personnel
## I’ve never been able to stick to a point, & this is one of the things that gets worse as you get older.
### This is more exciting than it was in Hampshire because the rails are twice as long & a trifle skittish. Oh good. Material for another totally silly & pointless blog post about Ordinary Life Stuff. Hanging your laundry as jousting match.
= & then trudging back indoors to start de-clogging the washing machine
** Young Beowulf MAY that’s MAAAAY have found a way around some of the worst of it, but because I scare easily I’m putting him off twiddling with the inside of my laptop till I get the latest round of draggles & snatches^ on DIARY done. Stay tuned. Maybe.
^ You know, minor rewrites
^ Granted I was also younger then, you know, by fifteen years or so+. What I remember now with great hilarity is that when they as puppies had just pulled me over for the 1,000,000th time I used to wonder—& out loud on the old blog—if they were my last puppies. Several years later I brought eight-week-old Pav home. BUT A MANIC FIVE YEAR OLD GERMAN WIRE HAIRED POINTER HAS NO RIVAL IN MAYHEM. Now I’m like, puppies? Sure. Bring ’em on. I’ve learned not to count my bruises. If Genghis ever gets old enough to settle down we will go in search of the next generation of hellhounds, which had been the plan with poor Pav, who was unkind enough to die very young. I figure if I have it/them from PUPPIES again they’ll learn to go on a long extending lead, right? Like all my dogs before Genghis have done.
+ I’m not very good with arithmetic
† I assume other people with other jobs walk their dogs for the stimulated-by-blood-flowing-briskly brain time too, even if plotting isn’t exactly how they’d describe it. Unless they’re inventing creative ways to get rid of a boss they loathe or figuring out how to juggle cash flow to be able to hire a fabulous new employee who can leap tall buildings with a single bound, balance spread sheets with one hand tied behind her back & invent weird tech gizmos that everybody on Facebook, Twitter, Mastodon, TikTok, Grinchify, Shurglump & Doodahwhatsit will find themselves immediately forced by the zeitgeist to purchase^ which will be great till she leaves to start her own business & then you’ll be out there walking the dog & frantically plotting ways to prevent her from driving you out of business.
^ Since I follow none of these pleasing & exquisite on line life enhancements, I shall be spared. But I’ll spend the money on more hard copy books I don’t have shelf space for &/or pair(s) of Converse All Stars, so it’s not like I’ve saved anything.+
+ Although speaking of tech gizmos remind me to tell you about my new Walkperson. Or possibly don’t remind me.
†† This has become one of my favourite noises. Life with a food-obsessed GWHP means I hear it a lot. Not only for the official moments when he knows he has to have his butt on the ground if he’s going to get what he wants, which is to say a thing that is edible, but for all those unofficial moments of hopefulness when I’m messing around in a space where he’s used to dog victuals emerging from, especially when there’s a whiff of something he may not be entirely wrong is sometimes offered at dog-nose level, like cheese rind. I now save even cheese rind I’d be perfectly happy to eat myself for Genghis because I would feel GUILTY if I ate it.^
^ In his favour he knows that if cheese is on a plate on the table—even if he’s sharing the chair with me, which he usually is—it’s MINE. Dog intrusions in these circumstances do not end well for the dog.
††† Unless he’s taken my arm off at the shoulder more often than usual. I HATE SEAGULLS. I HAAAAAAAAAAATE SEAGULLS. I’ve ranted this rant to you already, right?^ According to Natural Idiocy Scotland ™ they’re ENDANGERED & the licenses for town councils to sweep the nests—which is the only legal control presently available—are now so spectacularly expensive & complicated^^ that the hallowed Craigmacaire Town Council which I have the less-than-honour to live in the jurisdiction of^^^, has thrown up its tiny hands & said, Not our problem! —Well thanks ever so. May I have the opportunity to vote you out of existence in the near future.
So I’m in sympathy with Genghis’ attitude^^^^ but I’m not crazy about living with the consequences.
^ As well as mooning about overhead airers
^^1,000,000 pages in triplicate per nest
^^^ LET ME TELL YOU STORIES ABOUT DUSTBINS
^^^^ Along with his attitude toward, let’s say, cats+ which seem to think the pavement belongs to them & rather than moving off to whichever garden they emerged from, do the It’s All About Me!!! cat thing & arch up & fluff out & wave a paw in a threatening manner & say Make Me. Well, I’m not a nice human being & I’m still stronger than Genghis as long as I have my hand through his collar before he sees his legitimate prey++, & I believe that pavements are public rights of way, & we process on & the cat can freaking well move it.+++
+ Any cat lovers out there may wish to brace themselves at this point
++ See: take my arm off at the shoulder
+++ Note that my basic problem with cats is that they’re allowed outdoors without any restraint whatsoever & I sodding well object to cat crap in my garden borders. This makes me cranky about cats generally.
‡ Siiiiiiiiiiiigh. See title of this post.
‡‡ I would hate having full-time staff, so that’s not going to happen either
‡‡‡ & increasingly house plants. There are drawbacks to a four-bedroom house with big windows.
‡‡‡‡ So maybe I should stop wondering why I never have any free time??