Sunday, 11 February 2018

Quid pro quo

A lovely lady called Chirping Norton (well, I assume that isn’t actually her name, but) asked me very kindly if I would update the blog and then she said she’d send me some stuff from New Zealand if I did and being an acquisitive weasel I agreed so HERE WE ARE.

It is February. Many months have passed, also many moths. I am fat and idle and pale, well, idle in the physical sense. I am not idle in the paid work sense, which is at least partly why I have not been blogging. I seem to work all the fecking time, yet I also seem not to ever have more money. How does this work? It is mystifying and probably indicates some pretty shoddy negotiating on my part. None of it is long-form pieces for e.g. the New Yorker. Mainly it is editing mysterious legal prose. I did have to present a video last week, though (a job casually tacked onto a job I had previously agreed to and which I could not find a way to get out of). That was quite horrific. Most horrific of all was practising and finding myself transfixed by the hideous spectacle of my sagging old lady neck moving independently from the rest of my upper body. When the fuck did this happen? Shouldn’t there be a bit of warning? I have had to return to my body dysmorphic practice of peeing in the dark to avoid the unforgiving loo mirror. It’s a shame, because I think there were about twelve months there when I was perfectly fine with my appearance. Not because it was good, but because I had hit some sweet spot of not giving a fuck. I hope I get that back eventually.

Apart from the work and the wrinkling, not much has been happening. There has been some fairly full-on parenting for lo, teenagers be teenagers. There has also been lots of compensatory laundry, because sweet, sweet, warm dry clean clothes make everything that feels unmanageable fade temporarily into the background. Other things that help:

- listening to Graceland, for some reason? For a while even podcasts, my usual refuge, became too intense and only the soothing sounds of Paul Simon could calm me. I am now more robust and listening to The Poisonwood Bible on Audible at my friend Fran’s suggestion and my god, it is brilliant. Why had I never read it? Because I am stupid, I suppose. It’s wonderfully read too. Recommend.

- Alcohol, to a limited degree after which it makes everything SO much worse.

- The return of Greys Anatomy to Amazon Prime, so I can enjoy the trademark sweet, sweet idiosyncratic Shonda Rhimes dialogue where everyone says the same thing several times with the emphasis on a different word. The EMPHASIS on a different word. The emphasis on a different WORD. Etc.

- My new “Heat Holders” socks, which are a fluffy nest of delight. They are not chic cashmere socks, but giant synthetic dream clouds. I love them. I also bought myself some furry lined biker boots and even if this kind of bullshit is why I always have no money, I cannot bring myself to regret them because it has been fucking cold for the last month and they have brought my feet MUCH JOY.

- Yeast bakery. This was my main achievement of 2017: conquering my fear of yeast bakery. I have developed a new line in naan breads (Meera Sohda’s Fresh India recipe, the parathas, which don’t even require yeast, are also bloody genius), which are very popular. Also homemade pizza, though this is just my very basic attempt to turn myself into Prog Rock who would make us homemade pizza every Sunday night. Every time I make them they are not right in some minor respect and also I have not magically taken on the deep, wondrous reserves of calm and patience of that secular saint. I keep trying in both respects. Today we are attempting pretzels (my largest son’s idea), a suicide mission of stupidity, requiring both the baking of bicarbonate and the wearing of gloves. I’m not hopeful. They're currently resting in the fridge and they are TINY which I am pretty sure is not right.

- Did yoga help? Hmm. We went a lot. I suppose it got us adults out of the house for a bit which gave everyone a break. I remain agnostic. It's nice when it's over, like most exercise, I suppose.

What else? Poor gentle Ouipette got attacked very badly by a slavering Alsatian psychopath and a month later still has a giant scar and a limp. This was a very bad scene altogether and they were not sure they could save him, but he has rallied with miraculous Ouipette spirit, many treats and me keeping the fire going CONSTANTLY ever since he got home from the vet’s. Surprisingly, he does not seem to have any psychological scars, but I am terrified every time I go round a blind corner with him, in case some kind of dog Dahmer is waiting to rip his jugular out (the dog did try to do that, but it was really fucking stupid and mainly ended up with his leg).

Here he is on first day home (this is after 5 nights at vet, so you can imagine the state of him before then):

And here he is last night, looking very happy with his lot:

I mean, inside that fluffy envelope he still looks like a plucked chicken that has had a horrific accident, but at least he can get in there and refuse to move, which he has been doing daily.

Tiny Fabiola the pekin bantam has started laying, putting the other feckless hens to shame. I am not sure what to do with eggs the size of marbles? Very tiny omelettes?

By way of a small apology for absence here is the most ridiculous picture from when we went indoor sky-diving in Charleroi at Christmas. One of the weirder ways to spend a morning. I look fucking ridiculous, not at all like a sugar glider, which was how I hoped I would look, but like some kind of really fat-faced... no. It's indescribable, I don't know what I look like. One of Alvin's chipmunks? It's bad. It's the kind of thing you wouldn't put on the internet if you had any self-respect or personal brand.

Thankfully we all know that is not the case.

Time to don my rubber gloves and fuck around with bicarb. Greater love, etc.

How about you? I'll probably have to switch comments off after a couple of days as the witch doctor army moves in, but in the meantime, I would love to know what has been happening.


Laura said...

I am so suggestible! Heat holder socks purchased on Ebay and I really want to go indoor skydiving (of course you look like a sugar glider, I am sure I will too). Love to not so lightly chewed puppy :-)

Unknown said...

So nice to see a new post. Very glad Oscar is doing so much better, I saw the photo you took at the vet’s and it was so horrific. I am always worried this will happen to one of my dogs, my Golden is so gentle and soppy that canine psychos seem to be able to sniff it out, and there are quite a few on our estate.
I understand if you don’t have time to update Reading, but was wondering whether you’ve read L.Slimani’s Lullaby, and if so, what you thought of it.
God, I love Grey’s Anatomy.

blackbird said...

Gosh, I don't even like dogs but was completely stricken when your Oipette was attacked.
And I am, inexplicably, listening to Graceland.
Finally, I was just asking my husband, last night, if he'd ever try that indoor sky-diving business and of course he would.
I'm fairly certain that I would hit a wall and be killed on the spot. Bravo, you, for doing it at all!

cruella said...

LOVE the skydiving thing, you look like Meryl Streep - not a bad achiement under the circumstances.

Nothing new, oh yes, last child moved out, temporarily but still. Spouse and I immediately stop cooking, doing laundry, hovering whatever. Naps at inappropriate hours, wine the same. Daughter will move back in come March, might save us from the too steep slippery slope.

A lot of political reading and musings going on. General election September. It’s already mighty ugly.

Also crocheting has happened. That was January, major hangover month.

Hope to see more of you here!

Rosie Redfield said...

Owl nestcams begin again on Feb. 18!

redfox said...

Oh how exciting to see a new post! I followed the poor Ouipette's ordeal closely on the twitters and (a) can't believe it's been a month already! (b) it's lovely to see him in such characteristic fettle. I can't think of a single thing I've done in months and months that's worth mentioning, tragically. Writing academic prose (ho hum); completing daily crosswords; trudging the child to school in the wet slushy snow/biting arctic blast/drizzly warm snap; contemplating the drab shield-shaped bodies of the unflatteringly named stink bugs that periodically appear on our windowsills, crown molding, etc.

Those last are mild mannered enough and don't actually stink unless you smash them or harass them in some way that goes beyond whatever we or the cat manage to do, but they are still a little unsettling. Because they are so harmless, though, I feel a bit sorry for them, and this has rubbed off on the child:

My mother, visiting for the weekend: Eek, there is a stinkbug on the curtain.
Me: Oh! I’ll take care of it. but don’t worry — if you don’t bother it, it won’t bother you. they’re quite harmless really.
Child, sentimentally: and really, it just doesn’t feel like home without them

Shanners said...

Oooh, if I knew it only took NZ-based bribery, I'd have been onto that quick sharp :) So glad Ouipette is doing better. It was heartbreaking (even from the other side of the world) to see him so especially mournful. I'm glad he's back in his envelope, and beyond his current nakedness, is doing well. I am also appalled at the state of my neck - face is doing okaaaay (all things considered e.g. age, hormones, too much chocolate, Antipodean sun), but my neck is made of something (someone?) else! It's like it belongs to an entirely different person and has been transplanted when I wasn't looking... ugh. Am now wondering if all those weird face "exercises" that were so popular in the 80s - you know - WIDE smile, gurn, WIDE smile, gurn - might have actually had some benefit. Probably too late to try now... *eats more chocolate in consolation*

carolinefo said...

That's amazing - in that photo under the blanket the Ouipette actually looks happy, for the first time ever. The King of the Mournful Stare is almost cracking a smile.

Here in sunny Isfahan upon Thames we are one week into a loft conversion, and men in big
boots are stomping about overhead as we speak. I thought all the noise might drive away the birds and the squirrels but no, they love to perch on the scaffolding (birds) and run up and down the ladders (squirrels), and are all eating as much as ever.

I think we have the fattest squirrels in the Greater London Area, not to mention humongous bills for sunflower seeds and peanuts, but they do provide endless entertainment, and are daily proof of the universal truth that there is no such thing as a squirrel-proof bird feeder.

I hope the RSPCA doesn't have a team of investigators out scouring the suburbs for evidence of squirrel obesity - it would be a truly terrible thing to be shamed in the Richmond and Twickenham Times.

Crazy Mom! said...

OMG! OMG! You're not dead!

I'm SO pleased to see you up and around, even if Ouipette has been poorly.

I have been tortured by The Flu, also by the seemingly endless winter. My only consolation has been The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (watched the last episode last weekend) and now the winter Olympics. Who knew there were so many ways to go fast on snow or ice?

I'm lost on curling.

Anonymous said...

Poor Ouipette. I am glad he's doing better.

I have reason to believe that we all will be received in Graceland, except for vicious Alsatians and their owners.

Waffle said...

Laura - I feel fine about your sock purchase because it is IMPOSSIBLE that you could regret it

AM - Yes, yes I have. I liked it (wow lit crit) - you?

Blackbird - It was quite tame. I thought we'd be miles up, as you can see we, er, weren't.

Carolinefo - Please can I see a picture of a grotesquely fat squirrel?

Shanners - My stepmother used to do those facial exercises, I need to look at her neck closely and see if we missed a trick.

Unknown said...

I liked it, too.