The occasional blog

One of the unexpected difficulties of writing this only occasionally rather than every day* is that since I live a life so fraught with incident and peril** it’s hard to know what to lead with.  I could, for example, tell you that my new blender arrived a few days ago and I’ve been afraid to unpack it in fear that it is not the answer to an elderly hag’s prayers, or possibly that it’s not what I ordered at all but—from the size of the box—thirty or forty more hand-held stick blenders that I don’t want.  And I could make a major saga out of finally opening the box today, because I finally got tired of it looming over me, and discovering that it is, indeed, what I ordered, but what I ordered is the size of a railway carriage or seven or eight wolfhounds and it gets bigger as you pry it, gasping with exertion and amazement, out of the box.  Which, despite said box being big enough to contain Wolfgang, is barely big enough to contain this dangerous and mighty object, which I am tempted to name Troll or Golem or Ben Grimm.  And is requiring that I ENTIRELY REARRANGE MY KITCHEN to accommodate it.  ARRRRRRRRGH.***

Or I could tell you that Fiona and I had our first Yarn Adventure in some months this week, and that the proprietor of our chosen shop% RECOGNISED us and said, salivating visibly, that we hadn’t been around in a while and was just saying to his wife, I wonder when we’ll see that American woman from New Arcadia and her friend from Crathie%% again?  Well I have to keep going back because I keep forgetting to bring my loyalty card and I have about twelve of them at this point.  And then, because sagas are how I live my life, I could tell you, with a lot of shouting and flamboyant metaphor, that it seemed like a perfectly fine thing at the time that the skeins of the [indie] yarn I bought are 400 metres long WINDING THE FRELLERS UP IS DRIVING ME BONKERS BECAUSE IT TAKES HOURS.  I try to tell myself that three skeins of 400 metres is no different than 12 skeins of 100 metres BUT THAT’S NOT HOW IT FEELS.%%%

Or I could tell you that the giant bailiff-sending admin giant suing me this week for non-payment is the city council, gleefully informing me that I am to be broken on the wheel as well as my autographed LOTR confiscated$, so I had another of my jolly afternoons going in to the city council offices and sorting that out, carefully sharpened knitting needles optional, which sorting will last for forty-eight hours or so, with plenty of time to go disastrously wrong again by next month’s council tax due date, which is to say that while I have the little paper ‘paid’ stubs in my hot little hand, the email confirmation has failed to arrive.

Well of course it has failed to arrive.  I remember, vividly, and without any haze of nostalgia whatsoever, the first time I received one of these billets-doux, a few months after the whole ghastly business of—arrgh, I’m sure I gave my inexpressible bank a blog name, but I was apparently too distracted to preserve it on my dramatis personae list:  so we’ll call it Feckless & Calamity for the moment, and I may adjust it later—the whole ghastly business of Feckless & Calamity shutting me down when they shut Peter’s account down, because they somehow misplaced the information that I was still alive and wanted my money available THANK YOU VERY MUCH.  The repercussions of which bankly error ARE STILL HAPPENING OVER TWO YEARS LATER$$.  Anyway, the first time I received a WE’RE SUING YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE A VILE MALINGERER AND/OR A SECRET OFFSHORE HOARDING THIEF AND AN OOZING CARBUNCLE ON OUR EXQUISITE, AND FAULTLESSLY ADMINISTERED, COUNTY’S FACE from the city council, including an appear-in-court date in heavy red lettering with an official stamp, I spent the afternoon throwing up, fortunately beginning only after I’d successfully managed to ring for a wedding.  Which I think I told the old blog.  I still get the adrenaline spikes—for which thank you with flourishes because an adrenaline spike means I’m overdone meatloaf for the rest of that day and a super spike will linger in a brain- and energy-destroying meatloafian manner for another day or two after—but I don’t throw up any more.  Small mercies.  Very, very, very small mercies.

I also really need to have been telling you stuff about the garden, because midsummer is already over and everything is getting AWAAAAAAAAAY FROM MEEEEEEEEE which is, I admit, what happens every year, but the ME has been so bad that there have been a lot of tottering days and tottering around the garden makes me feel like I’m doing something$$$, and you can totter through quite a bit of gardening if you’re just out there a lot, with the result that the garden is having rather a good year.£  I’ve even sat down to admire the view occasionally.  Admiring the view gives you an excuse to sit down, when you don’t want to admit to the tottering.


Tomorrow.  Or maybe the day after.  Because this is, after all, an occasional blog.  Mwa hahahahahahah.  And because I’m frelling well over two thousand words, which is not allowed, and I’ll be over three thousand if I keep going.  Besides, I like suspense.£££

* * *

* And, believe me, occasionally is the only option available.  Three years ago I wasn’t cooking everything from scratch and then turning it into soup.  Mind you, I have no memory whatsoever of what I ate the last four months of Peter’s life when he was in hospital and then at Rivendell, and I was going in to spend time with him every day.  Presumably I ate something.  But I also still had a working, if incomplete, set of teeth three years ago.

** Hellbeasts!  Demon computers!  Pogosticking blenders!  Gordian yarn-stash knots!  Bloodthirsty rose-bushes!  Abbeys at the End of the Universe!  Who needs enchanted swords and evil magicians?

*** Meanwhile I used the little old counter-jumper again today.  There may have been moaning.  Also I have to learn to USE the new thing and it has a dashboard like a frelling 747.  I think I probably need an experienced copilot.  There doesn’t seem to be one folded up^ with the instructions.

^Just Add Water

% And my favourite shop because of the frelling indie yarns;  you can always buy Rowan or Malabrigo on the internet, so you can put it back on a shop shelf.  Except of course when you can’t, which is what happened to me this time, because apparently Rowan’s Brushed Fleece is going out of production, so the colours I decided, having seen them in person, I MUST HAVE, are gone ARRRRRRGH.  Also, while one is TRYING to keep real-world shops open^, the point of going to an indie-specialist yarn shop is that you’re keeping both a yarn shop and some indie producers going,^^  So put the frelling Rowan back.  And think of all the money you’ll save when you can’t find it later on the internet.

^ WHICH?’s cover story this month is, Is it all over for the high street?  As a knitter who likes to squish yarn before she buys it occasionally, or flip actual paper pages of a book and read a bit in the middle before she decides whether or not to buy it+, I hope not.

+ As opposed to ‘look inside’ on amazon which not infrequently consists of the acknowledgements, the dedication, the list of chapters, three lines of the prologue and nothing else.  Although if it’s a murder mystery and the first three lines tell me that I am going to be expected to read about the last few minutes/hours/days of the soon to be corpse, especially if this brief, as one might say bleed-on, role is a kid or a young woman, and we’re going to hear in detail about everything that now isn’t going to happen in their life and how horrible their death is and how ill and frightened they are and how they wish they hadn’t done whatever, then that’s as much as I need and I do not want the book.  I want the murder victim as a plot device, okay?  I don’t want a character.

^^ So double your virtue, which perhaps covers the days when your latest organic whole-foods order in user-friendly cardboard boxes is so frelling swathed in heavy plastic tape you can’t face peeling it all off and so shove everything in the non-recycle bin.  I want to have a little chat with the ‘reuse’ people.  If the cardboard is as limp as a Basset hound’s ears, aren’t you better off recycling it NOW rather than making it carry another load which will require the above swathing in PLASTIC?  Not to mention potentially losing a cranky customer.

%% Hey, Fiona is a Scots name.  So it’s a long drive.

%%% Indies never, ever sell you balls of pre-wound yarn.  They like to share the pain.

$ And for those of you fainting and/or fanning and/or fanning after fainting over the idea of an autographed LORD OF THE RINGS, yes, and it’s the Pauline Baynes single-volume edition so, if I may say so, very desirable.  I also bought it yonks and yonks ago when it was still Very Expensive for the time and for my pocketbook, but I wouldn’t even think about looking at the price tag of such an item now so I’m glad I don’t have to.  However, the jolly fellow who sold it to me, while I was doing the fainting-and-fanning thing over the fact that I was going to BUY IT and be able to HOLD IT IN MY HANDS ANY TIME I WANTED TO^, said to me bracingly, you realise that Tolkien only leaned on it for ten seconds while he wrote his name and then did the same to the next book in the stack?, and I said THANKS SO MUCH THAT’S VERY KIND, I HOPE YOUR HAIR EXPLODES.  You will notice that forty or so years later I still remember this.  I can’t remember why I went upstairs a minute ago—I get a lot of exercise going upstairs, finding I’ve forgotten why, going downstairs again, remembering, going UPSTAIRS again, forgetting . . . this can go on quite a while . . . but I remember without any difficulty whatsoever that the old book dealer who sold me my beloved signed LOTR was a jerk about it.

^ I’m certainly not going to risk its continued health and safety by reading it, but since I have 1,000,000,000 other editions of LOTR+, this is not a big problem.

+ Including my very first ebook purchase

$$  As described in the previous post.  I told Alfrick about this, about the way it keeps on and on and on, and he said that this happened to the abbey some years ago, that when Feckless & Calamity has shut you down once, even when its their frelling error, it will go on shutting you down at erratic intervals la-la-la-la whenever it doesn’t have anything else to amuse it.  He solved the problem by going in and thundering, which worked for him and the abbey, but I suspect that being seven feet tall and looking like an Old Testament prophet, and accoutred in the long black flowing monkly robes, helped.  These attributes are not available to me. ^

^ Yes I could hire long black twirly stuff and something to wrinkle up as a wimple, try to arrange my visage in nunnish lineaments, and go in and quaver at them, but I don’t think it would have same effect.

$$$ Even if it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing, like ringing bells, singing in the band at St Margaret’s, meeting a friend I haven’t seen in thirty years for the day—that one, I tell you, really hurt—or even working to some length on DIARY.  However when everything else falls away, let me reassure you, hurtling hellbeasts and writing at least one or two words in DIARY remain.

£ And I’d much rather be loomed over by ten-foot rose-bushes that the catalogue said grew to four foot^, than by cardboard boxes containing blenders with jugs big enough to produce soup for the annual dinner of the Worshipful Company of Farriers, and farriers have big appetites.

^ Despite the blood loss aspect.  And yes, a ten-foot rose bush does obligate better than twice the blood loss of a four-foot rose bush.

££ And no it’s nothing like turning DIARY in and having it scheduled for publication by a delighted editor who furthermore wants to pay me a shocking amount of money for it.  Believe me, mere bouncing would be an inadequate reaction to that news.

£££ THE HELL I LIKE SUSPENSE.  I only like it when I’m causing it.^  ‘Suspense’ is one of those words on a book cover that make me put it down.

^ So an alternative reading is that I really am an evil carbuncle, just like the city council says, although the secret offshore hoarding?  I wish.

18 thoughts on “The occasional blog”

  1. First and foremost, I love you immensely and everything you write, and your rambly high-energy blog posts give me such joy and elation.

    Second, I would pay serious money to see your monk friend thunder into the bank in all his robed glory.

    Third, I looked up the approx. price you could expect to pay for a signed Pauline Barnes LOTR these days and I nearly threw up and THEN fainted. So… I think mindless envy is not a strong enough word for what I feel…

    Lastly, one more time, I love you!

  2. Re your yarn-winding frustration: I saw either a video or a photo recently showing a woman knitting from a hank of wool hung around her neck! I haven’t yet tried it to determine if it’s a possible winding alternative, or just another way to create snarls, but I did make a mental note to experiment.

    1. No, no, don’t suggest something like that for Robin. The potential outcomes are… *blenches*

  3. I bought a 1st edition (4th printing) of the Hobbit as a present for myself upon defending my Ph.D. It is not signed but DOES have the original text to Riddles in the Dark. And if the house ever burns down, it’s the first thing I will grab besides the cats and spouse.

    At the time I looked into signed copies of LOTR, gulped, and thought that if I ever had that much money it might pay part of a mortgage.

  4. Perhaps you can invite Alfrick to come with you to their offices? Also, I am giggling a little picturing the Farrier Blender (it needed caps), hanging out the window of your home because it won’t fit in your kitchen.

    Wait, is your surprise that you had a small shed built for the Farrier Blender?

  5. You’re so right, winding a 400-yard–ALMOST 1/4 MILE–hank of yarn does seem like entering the antechamber of infinity. Those are the ones you agree to let the helpful shop people wind for you, while you wander around looking at more yarn . . .

    1. I just acquired some (more…) yarn yesterday (at a yarn swap/sale), which includes a skein/hank of laceweight, possibly as much as 1400m. Be gone with your paltry 1/4 miles!

  6. Ahhh… same old, same old… *nods sagely* *ducks*
    In eerily similar news – we had a New Shiny Blender With 500 Extra Bits delivered a couple of days ago too…. It also necessitated a re-arrange of the kitchen. Hmmmm (Am disappointed ours is silver and not red.)

    Indie dyed yarns – yay! 😉 Skeins/hanks usually because a) they post easier; b) the yarn stays “relaxed”; and c) less work for said dyer so cheaper for purchaser. 😉 However, I do have a ball-winder than can easily manage 200g so …..

    We’ve just had a solid frost – so looking forward to English Summer pics!!

  7. I’m honestly shocked that your yarn shop doesn’t offer to wind the yarn you buy as a matter of course! It’s the norm here in Chicago, at least. In any case, have you thought of buying a swift and a ball winder (because I know you need more STUFF)? I inherited one of each, and they make life a lot easier! 🙂

    1. I think I need lessons on using my swift. I do use the ball winder all the time but I get all tangled every time I try to use the swift. (fyi – KnitPicks version of both are very nice and reasonably priced for USA folks)

      1. There’s definitely a learning curve! My only advice is to double and triple check that you haven’t twisted your skein when you put it on the swift. The times things have gone horribly wrong have been when I didn’t realize the skein had gotten twisted. I’m also lucky that my swift is the “umbrella” type, which I think tends to be easier to use than other types.

  8. Now that the school year is over, I finally have time to read a blog post properly (that is, scrolling up and down for the footnotes, which is where all the best stuff is), and I enjoyed it very much. And will stay tuned…

  9. First, insert obligatory YAY YOU’RE BACK!

    I also think you should borrow Alfrick and see if he can thunder at Feckless & Calamity for you. I have been known to borrow Thundering People for Useful Purposes from time to time.

    I know I shouldn’t show you this but I discovered a New Yarn Supplier a couple months back- Indie. Eleventy bajillion yarns and googleplex colorways. They dye your colorway to order. *And* their yardage is substantial. I’m knitting a lace shawl with some of their yarn as we speak and it is an absolute dream. Just wanted to pass that along.

    Also drooling/fainting/fanning are all reactions coming this way from your LOTR.

  10. You can totally learn some Japanese. It is worth the effort, I think. I took a semester or so of Japanese before taking my family on sabbatical to Japan and it was totally worth it. Gambatte!

  11. RE: The garden this summer: our roses are also LOOOOVING this weather. My partner and I, who water everything by hand after hauling water up from a sink below our patio, love that the roses (and tomatoes, and whatever else) are so happy, but could do with a little rain, if you don’t mind.

    RE: Frelling councils: my partner is involved in a visiting scheme where he goes to see an old dear (she’s nearly 90 and sassy as all get out, so we rather delight in calling her an old dear…) every other week, and he has sorted out, in the last two years, at least 5 massive tangles all caused by the council that made her completely freak out (my favourite being when they decided she had too much in savings to be living in assisted housing, so she started paying more, then they realised she’d paid too much more and they reimbursed her but all at once which pushed her savings over the bar for something like a week and they threatened to do it all over again.) This in addition to the fights with the water company, her bank, and probably a dozen others. And the council persist in sending her REAMS of paper which are evidently for her information only but NOWHERE ON THEM IS THAT STATED. I have a feeling the people who handle this stuff now know his name and take it in turns to answer his calls.

    Here’s to life somehow becoming less mad sometime in the foreseeable future…

  12. To be clear up front, since I’m too tired for either subtlety or fretting about potential misunderstanding – I deeply enjoy and appreciate the footnotes, and am cheered by their continued existence.

    That said, on a bad brain fog day I can achieve the same upstairs/downstairs forgetting phenomenon without ever moving by means of chasing a footnote.
    “Okay, percent sign, percent sign… aha! Wait, what was going on? Okay, scroll up… right, yes, yarn shopping. Okay, percent sign, yarn, percent sign… one or two percent signs? One percent sign, got it, percent sign…. aha! Wait, what was the main paragraph about?”

  13. Dear Mr. Bookseller Man, Owning a book that Professor Tolkien leaned on for ten seconds or so while he wrote his name before moving on to the next in the stack is so very many miles better than owning a book that he never came near, that your attitude staggers me. Love, the Person who is Keeping You in Business by Buying Said Leaned-On Book.

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