Again, thanks for all the fish . . . I mean, thanks for all the ‘welcome back’s and ‘we’ve missed you!s’ and the ‘we’re so glad you’re all right’s.* But the last one I’m afraid I need to take some issue with. Define ‘all right’.
2017 was another shitty year. I said shitty.
Peter died the end of 2015.
I spent most of 2016 falling apart. That’s the bottom line about why the blog dwindled away as much as it did. It was just too sodding difficult to keep the blog voice going, and there’s a limit to the amount of crying and throwing up in public that I’m willing to do.**
2017 had some other sucky issues*** and current ongoing dramas include that Peter’s will has still not yet proved/cleared/exploded in the faces of all the idiot bureaucrats who are endlessly holding up the show.
But . . .
Let’s get this over with.
I have three dogs: two hellhounds and a hellterror. The hellhounds are litter brothers, Darkness and Chaos, seven-eighths whippet and one-eighth deerhound. They look like slightly bigger, slightly sturdier whippets—they’re also entire—unneutered—which also contributes to their being a little bigger and heavier. Darkness is steel grey, not quite black; Chaos is fawn. Pavlova, known as Pav, is a mini bull terrier. She looks just like a bull terrier, which is not surprising because that’s what she is, but she’s a tri-colour and little, and so nobody recognises her. Except as a force to be reckoned with.
I have three dogs. One of them is a ghost.
Darkness died the end of last September.
And no, I’m not all right. The hellhounds to a great extent got me through Peter’s last horrible months in the care home after the second stroke. I took them with me any day that I wasn’t taking Peter out somewhere, and they developed quite a following among both staff and residents.% And . . . five years ago we were a family of five. Now we’re a family of three: or three and two ghosts. I was so not ready to lose anybody else so soon.
Darkness had cancer, but that’s not what killed him. That’s part of what made it quite so awful. He was diagnosed last winter: an ‘ulcerating mast cell tumour’ which the vet said doesn’t usually metastasize, so what you see is probably what there is. So after the vet more or less wrote him off I pulled all my homeopathic and alt-health books off the shelves and bolted together a Heath-Robinson contraption of a protocol. . . .
The thing is, the tumour shrank. Darkness was still an old dog with cancer, but he was getting some of his strength and interest in life back. Some of his twinkle. Some of his sense of humour. He had never lost his pleasure in lying in a many-legged heap on the sofa, so we did a lot of that. We went for a country walk every day, not just boring town pavement, even if it was only fifteen minutes at an amble. Just before the end he was up to half an hour, occasionally forty minutes, at an amble-plus. A brisk amble. And then, suddenly, he hit the wall and was dead in two days. Renal failure.%%
Shock. Shock. Shock. Grief.
I’ve been afraid Chaos would pine and follow him—they were inseparable for a little over eleven years, and Darkness was boss dog, although he wore it lightly. But the vet says that usually only happens when the grieving dog doesn’t have a strong connection to the owner . . . which is not the case here. I’m not sure who is attached to whose hip. But I think Chaos is okay. As okay as either of us is in the circumstances. Of course every time he sighs or moves from one bed to another%%% I catch my breath. Whereupon Pav rolls out and does cartwheels.
And yes, I still have friends and stuff to do with my life—including getting the blog shtick going again.$ I still have two hellbeasts to hurtle. But I miss my Darkness. And my Peter.
* * *
* I can seriously do without the on line pharmacies—there’s one that’s posting me about 1,000,000 times a day and doesn’t take being binned or spammed as a valid request to GO AWAY. And I’m absolutely not interested in the beautiful Asian ladies with small feet [sic] or the double-penetration sex toys^. ARRRRRRRGH. Something else for poor Blogdad to sort out next week.
^ I’m not interested in single penetration sex toys either, just to be clear about this.
** For which you are grateful, whether you know it or not.
*** Including technological ones which is why I now have a Blogdad instead of a Blogmom. Blogmom had been pointing out for some time in her best patient voice, a necessary attribute when dealing with me unfortunately, that the current state and structure of the blog was increasingly unsafe and unwieldy, and Changes Needed to Be Made which meant that I had to, ugh, make decisions, ugh, and eventually it became clear that it would be easier if the whole screaming enterprise was tied up in bedsheets and stabilised with heavy gardening twine and a few padlocks and hauled over here. So much for the global neighbourhood internet thing.^ Migrating me across the Atlantic became a plan especially when it turned out that Raphael, our Computer Angel for twenty years^^, is DANGEROUSLY INSANE, I mean, was willing to take over my on line life.^^^
^ Which is so bogus. In the first place . . . BLAH. I have just deleted my rant on economic equality, ie the—global—lack of it+, and how internet providers only provide in areas where people are going to pay them for it. So let’s just say that even in crassly well-off areas like here++ if someone lives on a tiny cul de sac with only four houses on it—plus the two corners, but they face the main road—BT can’t be frelling bothered updating the wiring, and while this town has SUPERFAST BROADBAND!!!!!!, we’re that tiny black hole in the map of the area.
+ Aggravated by reading TALKING TO MY DAUGHTER ABOUT THE ECONOMY, even if I have the chutzpah to doubt some of his premises LIKE I KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE ECONOMY. Well, but . . .
++ I am proud to lower the level. But I spend all the money my neighbours spend on Louis XIII de Remy Martin Black Pearl Grand Champagne Cognac and new cars on organic food, so it’s not like I don’t know I’m one of the lucky ones.#
# At least if I finally get a book+ done before my money runs out. I try not to think about this.
+ And yes, it has occurred to me that I need to get some information up on the opening screen of the New Blog about the fact that I write books, for any passing stranger who stumbles onto it and thinks, Robin McKinley’s Blog? And I should care why? Yes, it should have occurred to me BEFORE. Well, it didn’t. I’m like this.
^^ Nearly. His first job out of school was with the firm that was catering to Peter’s and my first essays into computer ownership.# And when the firm split up, Peter and I may have been/may be clueless about computers but we weren’t/aren’t## stupid, and we went with Raphael. The rest is history.
# AAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH. I know, you could see that coming.
## You will have to get used to the idea that Peter is still a live presence in my life, even if his mortal remains are buried in the churchyard around the corner. I’m not going to go on with the weren’t/aren’t.
^^^ There’s no accounting. I assume—have been assuming for twenty years—that he thinks I’m fun to watch. Shtick I can do.# It’s technology that defeats me.
% I was always going to take Pav in one day, and never quite did.^ I was a mess, and she was too volatile—not her fault—indeed as I’ve come to recognise, and knew even then, the whole manic bullie thing is laid on partly to cheer the locals up. Chaos and I have cause to be grateful lately, although she also feels we need protecting in our weakened state, which means offering to ingest any and all other dogs that dare to cross our path. Except other sighthounds, of course, who are invited home for tea and biscuits.
^ Peter left so soon.
%% Which if I’d been a vet I might have seen coming . . . ? I knew about the muscle wastage, and how hard it was to keep any weight on him, but I thought that was old dog with cancer. Hindsight is always 20/20.
%%% The kitchen floor of this tiny cottage is basically all dog bedding. But this is where we spend all our time, at least in the winter, because that’s where the lovely warm Aga is.
$ I hope. And yes, I know, many many people have it much worse than I do. And if any of them are reading this blog post . . . I am very very sorry, and I hope you climb out of it, and back into the sunlight again.