Interim Post


I very often have a hellbeast at my feet here at my computer.  This sounds like a perfectly normal situation for a person who works from home and has hellbeasts of one sort or another,* but as I have already mentioned a few dozen times in the last fortnight this is not merely a small house it’s a very small crowded kitchen, and my only remotely sensible stretch of counter bears a laptop computer and a very tall, weavy pile of books, magazines, newspapers and print-outs of Story in Progress.  This leaves the sink and its drainboard and the Aga, and the corner between the two which is jammed with decorative tins containing kibble and jugs of chopsticks and various utensils.  Add a hellbeast on this little square-cornered ‘u’ of floor and AAAAAAAUGH.  Tonight it’s been Chaos who takes up an EXTRAORDINARY amount of space, starting with the fact that he drags all the bedding from the corner between my stool and the Aga, where, when a person is lying there, he/she is only blocking the cupboard that contains all the non-refrigerated food items** including the several gallons of organic extra-virgin olive oil which I get through every few weeks and am therefore constantly referring to***, to the CENTRE of the ‘u’ . . . and then stretches his unnecessarily long limbs in all directions.  Since I can’t do the washing up because I can’t get to the sink I might as well write a blog entry.

. . . But, oops.  I was going to write a first ‘ask me a question’ answer round up tonight and seem to have been . . . distracted.  Some things don’t change.  So let me crank up the suspense a little.  Tomorrow . . . or maybe the next day . . . or maybe the day after that . . . I will answer THE FOUR MOST ASKED QUESTIONS.  Don’t tell me you can’t guess what they are.

* * *

* I passed on seeing the Met’s new Cosi fan tutte^ because I hate the blasted opera.  For all of my worship of Mozart’s music, with the exception of Marriage of Figaro I dislike almost all the characters in all the operas^^, and prefer to cherish my ignorance of the language so I can listen to the ravishing music on CD untroubled by knowing what’s going on.^^^  And Cosi is the worst.  It’s disgusting.  And I was saying the men were every bit as bad as the women^^^^ long before it was fashionable to say that.  But I digress.  I listened to it on Radio 3 however, here in my kitchen at my computer with hellbeasts at foot, and was suddenly sorry I hadn’t paid real money to go see it, when I found out it was laid in Coney Island in the ‘60s with all the carny acts live on stage including a BOA CONSTRICTOR.  The snake charmer was interviewed during the interval and said, go on, you can pet her, she’s very friendly.  I would totally pet her, but someone tell me how you know if a boa constrictor is friendly or just still full of rodent/small elephant?  Or in shock from stage lights and loud noise?

^ In the cinema, I hasten to add

^^ I usually loathe the plots as well

^^^ I didn’t like AMADEUS much either because Mozart is such a jerk.+  I had some sympathy for Salieri even if he took it maybe a little too far.  Except, of course, he didn’t, and at least some of his music is rather good.++

+ But, you know, considering the libretti he chose to set . . . maybe I’d better take him off my ‘who I’d invite to dinner’ list.  The problem is that almost everybody who’d be on it I wouldn’t get along with#:  Tolkien, for example.    Hands down my single most important literary influence.  Of course I want to meet him.  Shudder.  Pushy American woman with opinions, including that there aren’t enough women in LOTR?  I don’t think so.  My career is arguably one long effort to rewrite that bit of history.  But as I keep saying I grew up in the frelling Dark Ages.  I’m eternally grateful to Tolkien.  I have to be.

# One or two I’d enjoy the company of.  Peter Dickinson would be on that dinner party list.  Siiiiiiigh. . . .

+ Speaking of taking historical figures in vain to make a more saleable story, is anyone following Olivia de Havilland trying to sue Hollywood for this series about her and her sister’s feud?  She’s lost the first round, according to Google, but can appeal.  I admit I don’t know enough about it but all my instincts are on de Havilland’s side.  I’m not hugely impressed by the industry’s argument that the people need bread, circuses, and Christians being eaten by lions. I don’t even like it when they mess dead people around.

^^^^ The title translates, roughly, as ‘All Women Are Evil Cows’.

** Some bozo on Twitter is starting a series of ‘writer’s refrigerators’.  ::falls down laughing:: You open my refrigerator at your peril:  you will be immediately assaulted by a picked regiment of kohlrabi, supported by bristling broccoli, speared asparagus and fat carrot clubs.  You may also drown in vats of home-made stock.  It’s scary in there.

*** You know the more or less current theory about Good Fats?  I’m not walking proof, but I’m certainly walking evidence, that you can glug down olive oil like you glug down pots of tea^, and yet maintain your broomstick-like figure without a moment’s consternation.^^  All calories are not equal.  Just like those goofball extreme diet people on line keep telling you.

^ Olive oil is also a crucial part of what passes for my cough cough skin beautifying treatment cough cough.  I use coconut oil or shea butter, both of which are solid at room temperature and are in fact like granite in the winter.  But they melt really easily.  I put them on a cake rack over the Aga till they go liquid, stir in a little olive oil, take the resulting so-good-for-you-it-hurts goo off the Aga and let it cool, and hey presto.  Skin cream.  If you want to get carried away you can add a few drops of rose oil, but then I start feeling like one of those And Live Green! goofball extreme-diet people on line, so I don’t.

^^ Although I suppose all that olive oil might be contributing to the mattress-factory-explosion hair.  I don’t care.  I like having hair, which, as I said recently, has been an issue twice in the last decade.  Although the curly thing . . . Merrilee has been trying to explain to me that you don’t brush it madly like normal hair, because that just makes it frizz.  Oh really.  I think maybe I already knew that.  But she uses products, and I’m not going to use products because there’s sure to be something in them I’m allergic to.  And I don’t think applied olive oil is the answer here.  But the other morning, attempting to not-brush brush I discovered a frelling dreadlock starting.  No.  Arrrgh.

28 thoughts on “Interim Post”

  1. Actually, I knew someone who took a bit of olive oil, rubbed it between her hands, and applied it to the lower 2/3rds of her curly hair. Shea butter is used that way, too.

    This Cosi emphasized different beats than the others I’ve seen. This one mostly worked: Don Alfonso was getting the boys to not take women for granted. And this Despina was a maid at the small motel the girls were staying in. Or possibly the owner as well.

    So it wasn’t mean and stupid like the first one I saw. And Coney Island lends to the suspension of reality. (The boys really did look different — going from sharp Navy captains (3 stripes anyway) to 1950s Fonzarelli types with pompadours and moustaches and gold chains.

    Now the sisters would beat up their guys for making out with each other’s sister, and after the opera events finish that’s probably what they did.

    It worked.

    1. Pav? Pav! With pictures? Please? I’m going through withdrawal.
      (She, umm, may or may not, erm, be the subconscious reason I came home from the shelter with a black and white dog a few years back. I was getting a dog anyway, but pics of an adorable hellterror didn’t help. So now I’m chief of tummy rubbing and food procurment for a black and white beagle/rat terrier. His name is Gus. He’s worth every bit of trouble.)

  2. I will answer THE FOUR MOST ASKED QUESTIONS. Don’t tell me you can’t guess what they are.

    I could guess, but I’m not going to. I don’t want to incur the wrath of the thing high atop the other thing.

    Olivia De H was made out to be a snarky gossip in a movie, and she (for some totally strange and weird reason) disliked her character being assassinated for the sake of a plot device. Sue em good I say!!!!

    1. I was going to venture a guess, and in the process of typing spilled coffee all down my front. Apparently, we are none of us meant to Ask the Questions…

      1. Ooh, in that case I’m not even going to try because this is a new sweater and I’ve already had one Tea Related Incident earlier today and I don’t want to risk it.

  3. Regarding the boa, there are several ways. Boa’s can be quite affectionate and will have favorite perches on their human. If scared or grouchy,they will be sinking their teeth in anything that gets close. Usually, they dont hang on if not eating. When I worked at Wildlife Education place. there was a red tail boa,named Columbo. Initially when Id take him to even, he’d keep a nice even hug on my waist. ( I was the safe tree), but as he got comfortable he’d go limp, and the time for him to go limp shortened significantly. Try carrying 25 lbs of limp python, Id shift him and try to get him to help hold his weight and he’d be like :”naw I trust you” and go limp noodle. Also for pettings we usually offer the tail/back while the handler controls the head. that way if even the snake got scared, the only person who would get nipped would be the handler. PS if you come across the pond, to Atlanta, GA I could help introduce you to a whole range of reptiles 🙂

    1. I hit the Post button too quickly. As for the lights and sounds, if the boa doesnt like it, they will be hugging extra tightly and a handler will know the snake’s moods and put it back into its nice soft pillowcase and bin. (Boas love having a round den/hidding spot that they completely fit into.) As for the 4 most common questions -I can guess! Ive tons of questions but I the FAQs before and the archives and I found many of the answers. 🙂

  4. You take a wide tooth comb into the bath or shower with you and whrn you do whatever passes for conditioning your hair, you comb the conditioner through. And, depending on hair texture, you should only WASH your hair 1x weekly, and every couple days apply conditioner to the ends.

    For brand, idk if you get it in the UK, but Shea Moisture is a pretty okay brand for limited ingredients. (Sorry for any wrong assumptions about your hair washing routine!) After you get out, as said above, you can spread olive oil (a very little) on the bottom third of your hair.

    You can also gently comb throigh your hair when dry with a very wide tooth comb if your curls are not tight.

  5. I’ve never understood how Dorabella and Fiordiligi DIDN’T RECOGNIZE their boyfriends. Seriously? You don’t recognize their body posture and the way they move? Yes, I know, it’s an *allegory* and you’re supposed to suspend disbelief. I’ve never been able to get past that bit.

    I have always been a Despina fan, though. She’s got proper sass.

    1. This Met Opera version made it work, not recognizing the boys. But that incredibly rare.

      1. Grrrr. And the only reruns are in US/Canada. GRRRRRR. Maybe they’ll release on DVD?

  6. I don’t have particularly frizzy hair – though I can do a good Albert Einstein impersonation when I’ve just got out of bed! – but I’ve found that a good thing for controlling the floofiness is actually Argan Oil. You can get shampoos and conditioners with it in, but I buy the plain oil from my local chemist’s shop, and a bit, about enough to cover a penny, rubbed between the palms and then into the hair, after washing, sleeks it down beautifully, and makes it more brushable/combable. Though I rarely comb, and when I do it’s with a large-tooth one; and my brushes are both small rubber ones with widely-spaced ‘bristles’.

  7. For winter static control I use Argan oil – which I was using before it became a ‘thing’. Its also handy to soften the nasty hard scar tissue that foot blisters can form.

  8. Robin – I have the most incredible vision of you as a pre-Raphelite beauty in flowing robes, under a waterfall shower head, with a pearl encrusted comb, pulling it through your Interestingly Textured hair with various olive oil concoctions until it flows past your knees in glorious waves! Us here on your blog want to reveal your Inner Harimad! There will of course be a Hellhound gazing up at you adoringly, and a Hellterror lying on its back just outside the shower, waiting to be tripped over and bring you back to earth with a bump….

    Lovely to have you back.

  9. I came here to post what others have said about olive oil being good for hair (I normally read the blog posts in email), but apparently others have beat me to it. I had to learn all about this when I adopted a daughter whose thick and curly hair makes my limp, straight hair look even more stringy and flat than usual. And brushing her hair makes her look a bit like Diana Ross. Not a bad thing to me, but not cool when you’re 13.

    I’m not sure if it’s in the top 4 questions, but I’d like to hear what’s happening with your multiple house situation. Or did I miss that somewhere along the line?

    Also, it’s supposed to snow in Boston on Friday, so even if you were still over this side of the pond, you’d be dealing with the @#$! Winter That Wouldn’t End.

  10. We should compare photos of kitchens and commiserate sometime; mine is just wide enough for one person to edge through at a time. God help you if you need to throw something in the trash can, at the far end of the galley, while someone is washing their hands in the middle.

    You mentioned your curly hair problems. Ah! A subject I know very much about! I inherited curls from my mother and have had to deal with them for my entire life, so let me try and ease your transition if I can!

    First, it’s very common to have more than one type of curl on the same head. Usually the kind you like is someplace it won’t be seen (the bottom half of my head in my case) and the visible part is the kind of curl you don’t like. Curly hair has its own perverse sense of humor. Sometimes this means addressing the two types differently, but I can’t be bothered and I’m guessing you don’t have the time for it either.

    Second, a wide-tooth comb is your best friend. It’s true that I sometimes skip combing my hair one day if I’ll only be out to walk Calantha, but I try to do it every day to prevent knots. Start at the bottom of your hair and work up to the top. Most snarls can be eased out this way, but I do keep scissors in every room for the occasional knot I find. (Or create because I’m a life-long hair-twirler; my mom tells me I would even do it as a baby while nursing. It’s a nice nervous/bored habit as they come, but I do sometimes end up tying tiny little knots in there which need to be cut out. It’s ok though; you could hack a chunk out of my hair and the curls would just rearrange themselves and you wouldn’t see a hole.)

    Third, do you have a conditioner that your hair and body agrees with? You can try using just a bit if that to style/tame it. And curls never spent time with conditioner that was wasted. 😉 There are also numerous styling sprays, lotions and creams that you can diy and find recipes for online, especially from people who are EXTREMELY MINDFUL of what they put on/in their body. But, if you want a very, very, very simple recipe that’s 100% natural, here you go: get an old metal tea strainer that you no longer use (or get a cheap one just for this purpose). Fill it with whole flax seeds, say a couple tablespoons, and put it in a pot with a couple cups of water. Boil both. As you boil them, the flax makes the water turn into a gel, very much like what you’d buy at a store. It’s going to be a little thinner while it’s hot, but you can play around and make it the texture you like. Less time would give you less hold, more time would give you a firmer hold. I used to use this exclusively on my hair and it never felt crunchy or interferes with my hair-twirling pleasures. I kept mine in a little squeeze bottle in the fridge, where it will keep forever. You can add a scent to it if you like, it has a very faintly nutty smell but nothing bad, but it’s perfectly fine to use just on its own. The bad thing is that it is always going to be cold when you put it on your head, but if you warm it in your hands for a few seconds, it’s not too bad. Apply this to damp hair, ideally, but it might work on dry too. I only stopped using it because I got tired of cleaning up gooey pots and tea strainers, but it is really as natural as you can get. Something about the flax seed is REALLY tasty to cats though. I was working with cats when I started using it and they would grab pawfulls if my hair and shove it in their mouths. When I added a couple drops of sweet orange oil to my mixture, that stopped them; cats generally don’t like citrus. (Which is not WHY I always put lemon in my water, I just like it, but it does mean my glass gets drunk out of by cats much less often than my husband’s.)

    Lastly, water resets curls. Sometimes all I have to do in the morning (if I’m bothering) is spritz it with a little water until slightly damp, then the curls go from mushed-up, slept-on ick to lovely things. Or at least semi-lovely things. Just remember to comb it with your wide-tooth comb while it’s dry. If you want bigger curls, leave it alone, if you want smaller curls, you can comb it after it’s damp as long as it’s not snagging anywhere.

    Good luck. It’s taken me many years to figure out how to manage my hair and I was BORN with it. I’m sure having it suddenly thrust on you must be quite unsettling. If you have any other questions, I’d be more than happy to try and answer them for you! And I’m sure there are other curly-haired blog members as well who can help!

  11. I have very long and wavy hair and so use conditioner in large quantities. Recently, I’ve had good luck using something called BioSilk, which is a leave-in conditioner you use while combing hair post-shower. It doesn’t take much and seems to help (when used on top of regular conditioner).

  12. The snake part made me laugh!

    Back in the Stone Age, my first career was in the movie biz doing international film sales. I got paid to watch movies; it was great. I went to a screening in NYC once where the basic plot was about a guy going undercover in a Hell’s Angels type biker gang to avenge the death of his brother. The producers had rented out a cinema for the event which was attended by the cast and crew as well as industry people like myself.

    Afterward, there was a reception and I found myself standing next to a man that very much fit the Central Casting gnarly biker dude prototype: enormous, bald, tattooed, booted and clad head-to-toe in leather and chains (…in contrast to me, in business attire and heels – those days are gone!) Making conversation I asked, “So, were you in the movie?”

    He sweetly replied, “No, but my snake was…it’s his third picture!”

    (My second career has been teaching people to ride motorcycles…no snakes, though!)

  13. I just finished catching up on the blog. Thank you…I am so happy to add reading about your life to the end of my day. Your voice means a lot to me…so glad you are at a point where blogging is a thing you want to do.

    My hair is currently doing the opposite…after my 3rd child was born a few years ago it has lost all it’s curl. It is now “meh”…not curly enough to leave alone and not straight enough to leave alone. So it mostly ends up in a braid.

    My daughter’s hair is curly though. We don’t use product and we only comb it when it is wet. I only shampoo her hair once a week or so, all other times we just use conditioner…We Don’t even rinse it out…just a small amount of conditioner combed thru her hair and then we let it air dry. It works well for us.

  14. ? “Wouldn’t get along with Tolkien” Made me laugh. I think he wouldn’t get along with many people, he seems too much a opinionated introvert.

  15. I’m so excited you’re back! And I can’t wait for your answers to the top questions.

    I also look forward to hearing more about how you deal with curly hair. Mine has been straight all my life and once I hit 30 it started curling and hasn’t stopped!

  16. I am simply thrilled that there even IS a story in progress, despite the snow and the cramped kitchen and the -1 hellhound 🙁 and all. I would desperately like to know which story it is and how soon your adoring audience can read it, but I won’t yell too loudly for answers. Authors are precious beings and should not be shouted at to divulge information. Though I suppose this does rather count for the top four questions competition: when will we see your name on a new release?
    Also thrilled that your blog is back on the computerverse!!! At least while we wait for the Story in Progress we have your footnotes to keep us entertained.

  17. Google won’t let me see the next post titled “An Event”. Something seems to be linking to a malicious site of some sort.

    I think you have to bother your Blog Wizard about it.

    I also want to add to the chorus of folks happy to see you posting again! I’ve loved your work since I first read The Blue Sword, back when it was first published in paperback and have always liked your footnotes.

  18. Use a pick for your hair. Shades of th e60s and all those young men with wild hair going around with a “pick” stuck in their hair. But, it will get the knots out without hurting you. Much. But it feels heaps better than brushes or combs.

  19. as a possessor of stick straight hair, I only have this on hearsay, but a college roommate of mine had gorgeous curls and told me her (Malaysian) mother used to cook coconut oil and comb through it. Since you seem to keep it around anyway!

  20. I suggest just detangling with a wide-tooth comb or a hair pick. Rub some olive oil or coconut into it (upper third to tip, not the roots) the night before you wash it. If styling is what you’re after, then no, it’s no replacement for “products”–but you will have wickedly happy, healthy hair.

    And yes, my first comment ever on the blog is about haircare. I’m frivolous. Takes all kinds.

Comments are closed.