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I’ll tell you everything I know…

That dark line, dear reader, is a splinter. It came off one of our interior doors, which are quite rough and rustic. It is too fragile to be pulled out with my most delicate tweezers (pictured). It just breaks off nearer and nearer the quick.

Uncle B spoke to my doctor’s office, who advised we either hit the local walk-in clinic (NO), the emergency room (NONONONO) or call first thing in the morning for an emergency appointment (eh, maybe).

My mother lived with a hackberry thorn in her heel for thirty years (one day in the bath it just popped out). I can live with this. I mean, it hurts, but it’s not awful. On the other hand, if it got infected, would anybody pay attention in the middle of a pandemic? It would be just like me to die of sepsis during a plague.

Please tell me stories: stories of foreign objects stuck in your body for decades to no ill effect. Or, alternatively, horror stories of grisly nail removals and fingers gone septic.

Update: I got it. I took Pups’ advice and soaked it in warm salt water until it pruned, used the clippers to cut a V in the nail so I could get a good grip, used my best tweezers and alley oop! There’s a teeny fragment way in the bottom of the wound. I hope my body can deal with that. It hurts ever so much more now that it’s out 🙁

March 2, 2020 — 5:40 pm
Comments: 12

I do actually like toast, though

It’s National Toast Day. I shit you not.

I feel like a prize chump posting toast and twigs. I am so not into it.

I’m all over #coronavirus Twitter trying to figure we’re in for and when. In all of England, there are only 15 beds for the most acute respiratory patients. The NHS has already said they won’t waste resources on the “most vulnerable” — defined elsewhere as the oldies.

I wish I’d gone in and begged an emergency respirator when my cough was at its worst. I sounded like Aqualung for about six weeks this Fall.

Government here isn’t taking this seriously at all, unless they’re panicking behind the scenes.

Man, I could use a nice slice of toast about now.

February 27, 2020 — 9:29 pm
Comments: 14


This from the Woodland Trust: how to identify trees by their knobbly bits in Winter. I love these ID charts. I had all of this info printed on a neat small card I used to take hiking with me. To be honest, though, I’m not sure I identified a single tree that way.

It all looks so much clearer in an illustration. Which is why, even now, they use illustration rather than photography in botany and medicine. Here’s the big color version; may it be of some use to you.

The things that come across my Twitter feed while I’m obsessively refreshing for news of THE PLAGUE. The woman who’s cat we stole gave us a call to check on him earlier tonight.

Her granddaughter is in one of the Sussex elementary schools that have been shut because students went on a field trip to Italy last week. I reassured her that, as far as we know, not one person under the age of nine has caught the bug.

Did you know that? Quite unusual for a flu. This one appears to be firmly a boomer bug.

Nemesis creeps closer.

February 26, 2020 — 8:53 pm
Comments: 11


The little one likes fire. Yes, he does. Here he is big and in color.

He also likes laps and annoying the hell out of big cat. They’ve been running back and forth like a Tom and Jerry cartoon all week. A little hissing and biting, but well within the appropriate bounds of brotherly bant.

Speaking of fire, the conservative(!) government has today announced a ban on the burning of coal and wet wood in households. There are rural people this will very much affect.

Not us. We gave up actual coal for solid fuel — they’re like charcoal briquets — but that ain’t the point. As Uncle B likes to grumble, the Greens never get more than 3% of the vote here, but all their policies get enacted anyway.

I don’t know what they’re putting up their noses if they think we can get rid of non-electric cars in 15 years, but there you go.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

February 21, 2020 — 8:59 pm
Comments: 11

Yay us!

I don’t suppose anyone is keeping count, but today was Uncle B and my eleventh wedding anniversary. Yes, the blog was going several years before we got married.

We don’t really like going out at night, so we took us to an old smuggler’s pub we sometimes frequent for a nice lunch. The inglenook is one of the best bits; it’s big enough to sit in. They have upholstered benches on either side of the fire.

I don’t know if you can make it out (it’s hard even in person) but the design on the fireback is the lion and the unicorn, with the date 1626 between them.

Newfangled thing — the pub was built in thirteen-something.

Have a great weekend! We’re having storms all weekend, with kitten storms predicted inside. No fur lost so far.

February 14, 2020 — 9:39 pm
Comments: 17

…allllll the kittens in the worrrrrrrld…

Every day when I get home from work, I go to my computer and refresh three tabs with classified ads: show me a) the newest ads b) for kittens and cats c) within 20 miles of my postal code (that’s a zip code for Limies).

Most days, there are no new cats at all. Occasionally, there will be a pedigree kitten for stupid money. Once in a blue moon, there will be an ordinary moggy for stupid money.

Yesterday, I refreshed one site, and there were DOZENS of new entries. Gobs of kittens. Adorable kittens. Alllll for meeeeee.

It had forgotten my post code and was showing me all the kittens in Britain 🙁

But do not despair: today I may have found one at last. An old lady who lives not far away has suddenly developed an allergy to cats. At least, that’s what her doctor thinks. She’s got a six-month-old tom. She’s asking a penny for him.

Only thing is, he’s a ginger. We weren’t going to do that so soon after losing Jack. I don’t know if this is a good idea, but I suppose we’ll know when we see him tomorrow afternoon (SQUEE!).

I suppose I should explain the illustration. I had it in the back of my mind that I’d done a bad ‘Shop of kittens raining from the sky, but I didn’t remember why. I looked it up and it all came back to me.

An anti-flying eco-advocacy group called Plane Stupid made a gross one-minute ad showing polar bears falling out of the sky and landing with a bloody splat.

The Guardian described it as manipulative and probably not effective. “It’s as if the ‘green police’ are climbing into bed with your children and telling them that, unless daddy turns the TV off standby, Mr Snuggles the dog sleeps with the fishes.”

This was in 2009. I posted it on the day I first commented on the Climategate leaks.


February 11, 2020 — 6:50 pm
Comments: 9

Muh homies

I’ve always been a fangirl of the Neanderthals — even back in the days when science said Neanderthals absolutely, positively never interbred with modern humans. I was delighted when my 23andme results came back with an unusually high percent of Neanderthal genes (no doubt where I get my psoriasis).

In a cave in the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia, they’ve found a cache of Neanderthal relics — upwards of 4,000 tools. They analyzed the tools and decided the style was more in keeping with known European Neanderthal groups, 2,000 miles to the West and not so much like known Siberian groups.

So either a group of Ogs hiked it that far 60,000 years ago, or they had a network along the route they traded skills with.

Neanderthals died out maybe 30,000 years ago and history begins about 5,500 years ago. I’m not going anywhere with that, I just like to think about timelines.

Coronavirus update: there are now five confirmed cases in people who haven’t been to China, including a new one in the US (bringing the US total to 6). That’s still an astonishing low infection rate, compared to Mainland China. Fingers crossed. Oh, and having the flu jab may make you more susceptible to other respiratory viruses, including this one.

January 30, 2020 — 9:18 pm
Comments: 7

Eye see ewe

They’re cleaning the Ghent Altarpiece, a spectacularly beautiful and important early oil painting. If it doesn’t ring a bell, you’d definitely recognize bits of it if you saw them.

When they gave the panels a good high-tech examination, they were shocked to find about 70% of it had been overpainted a hundred years later, nobody knows why or by whom. It went unnoticed for so long because the techniques and materials were so close to the original. So they decided to peel off the later additions.

And they discovered THE LAMB OF GOD IS SCARY AS HELL. This is such a weird departure for the Van Eyck brothers, who were famous as the first painters who carefully observed and faithfully reproduced the natural world. Their original lamb is just acll kind of wrong. Though it does explain why the lamb had four ears in the overpainted version. (Comparison of the before and after).

It’s apparently going viral on the Internet now. Because of course it is.

Articles about it here, here and here.

January 22, 2020 — 8:53 pm
Comments: 3

That is a hecking big pencil

World’s biggest color pencil, y’all. It’s 26 feet long and weighs 984.1 pounds. It is yellow. (It’s not the world’s biggest graphite pencil, though. That’s in St Louis).

The big yellow pencil is part of the Derwent Pencil Museum, a popular visitor attraction in the Northwest of England.

“It is particularly popular with visitors from the county of Yorkshire, due to the importance of pencil production for the local economy during the 1930s.”

Y’all think I make this shit up.

January 16, 2020 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 7

You gotta have a gimmick

John Cleese has turned his Ministry of Silly Walks shtick into a phone game. There’s something very meta about that, but I can’t put my finger on it.

If you like that sort of thing, it looks cool. It’s got generated environments (so it’s different every time) and some pretty good rag-doll physics (the code dingus that makes dead bodies flop around convincingly in games). And only €1.99 (I get everything priced in Euros because my VPN usually puts me in France).

Also from my Twitter feed, this very gross but cool horror makeup video. The link at the video goes to Cultura Colectiva, which is a Spanish-language news site that doesn’t appear to have anything more about this artist. I made a feeble attempt, but couldn’t find her.

C’mon, it’s less than a minute long. How horrifying could it be? (Heh heh heh).

Tweet comes from Elvira. Yes, that Elvira. Still kicking it and looking good for 69.

Too much time hanging out on Twitter lately. I’ve mentioned I have a different Twitter account on every device I use. It is a completely different experience depending on the kinds of things you follow.

January 9, 2020 — 9:10 pm
Comments: 2