Monday, March 30, 2009

'To justify the ways of God...', Molly, and a nicer class of amphibian.

This pile of ironing represents two books of Paradise Lost, the audiobook, read by the heavenly Anton Lesser, who I think was probably born to read Paradise Lost aloud. Lovely sister lent it to me when I was visiting.

I have written before I think, of the benefits of the heavier-weight classics of English literature to listen to when one has ironing to do. Milton may not yet have succeeded in justifying God's ways to me, or leastways not the ways of patriarchal religion in blaming it all on the woman, but he does justify spending a chilly March afternoon ironing to the rhythms of the great epic.

I often relate what's been going on to Tom in the demotic. For example, Book 5,

'So, Adam said to Raphael (sociable spirit, affable archangel, you know the one), Eve's just whipping up something tasty, no need to worry about it getting cold as there's no hot food in Eden. Do you fancy some or do you angels not eat stuff like we do?"
And Raphael said "Don't mind if I do." '

Or, Book 8,

'Then Adam asked, "What about the stars, I've heard there's this bloke Galileo, and it makes you wonder... " but Raphael quickly cuts in with "That's on a need-to-know basis. You don't need to know." '

Occasionally, after a lengthy period of immersion, the process starts working in reverse, and I find myself talking about everyday matters in Miltonian blank verse. So when Tom says 'I hope my car's OK where I parked it.' I reply along the lines of

'Thus questioned Thomas, trembling lest
Some arch fiend or malignant spirit should
His argent chariot scrape or otherwise impair...'

But this is unusual.


Dear Michelle asked after Molly. She had a checkup the other day, since it's a month since she came off the injections. Her regular vet says there's no sensitivity around the ear, and she seems well. She certainly is lively and full of the joys of spring, as, oh so tentatively, are we. This isn't an especially good photo, as she's barking and it's a bit dark. She saw me photographing the ironing (above) and started jumping around in front of me and barking, as she does when she sees me wielding the camera indoors, presumably thinking she should be the centre of attention. She's looking somewhat scruffy and her ears are still lopsided from the op, but I've made an appointment at the poodle parlour to get her tidied and evened up a bit at the end of next month.

Like Eve, I've had my own visitation from a scaly slithery creature. This one is really rather a beauty, and is also perhaps redeeming the image of amphibious life forms in our back yard, following the nasty business with the toads. It's a European Fire Salamander, and quite the largest living one I've ever seen - they are slow moving and frequently come to grief on the roads, which, along with water pollution, accounts for the demise in their numbers in recent times. Our neighbour said when they were children they saw them all the time. The bricks it's standing on are 10 cm square, so you see it was quite large, it's tail being easily as long as its body.
This one was motionless on our back terrace late one night when I let Molly out. She practically trod on it, and it didn't move, nor did it when I took the flash photo. I closed the door and curtain but peeked out at it ten minutes later and it was still frozen in this attitude. A handsome beast indeed.


Catalyst said...

It's a tie!

I couldn't decide which photo I liked better: Molly or the salamander.

Julia said...

Was Molly perturbed by the salamander or did she take it in stride?

Rouchswalwe said...

Salamandra salamandra ~ how cool is that! It was probably thinking about Molly ~ "where are her spots?" and stopped still in shock.

Michelle said...


"She saw me photographing the ironing and started jumping around in front of me and barking, as she does when she sees me wielding the camera indoors, presumably thinking she should be the centre of attention."

Bless her socks. Is she an Aries or Leo? (grin)

Lucy said...


Cat - I though for a moment you thought the salamander looked like a (neck)tie!

Molly didn't seem to notice the salamander; usually another creature, like a toad or even a spider on the floor, gets a perfunctory greeting sniff.

Michelle - yes, come to think she is an Aries, it's her birthday soon! Perhaps that explains a lot...

Crafty Green Poet said...

glad Molly is doing well! Lovely salamander! Perhaps I should have chosen to listen to Ulysees while ironing rather than reading it, good idea there you have with Paradise Lost!

Rosie said...

I have just spent 90 mins with Milton via Don Taylor's Underworld on radio7. But it was via a broomcupboard...

Roderick Robinson said...

"Stay still," the European fire salamenders tell each other, "stay very still. And Lucy will make you a star." And lo...

meggie said...

Bless Molly for being so well!
Tha Salamander is very bright. I rather thought that denoted danger?

Zhoen said...

Aw, good Molly.

I listen to recorded books at night to go to sleep to talking. I hadn't thought about such classics. Seems a very good idea.

apprentice said...

Arrgh who irons any more? It's like Quetin Crisp's comment about dusting, "After five years no more settles".

But you did give a good laugh with Tom's argent chariot.

I'm glad Molly is full of beans too, that must be great to see.

The drawing below is beautiful too.
Spring suits you missus!

Lucy said...

Thanks again.

I haven't actually fully read up about the salamander ( I can never type that right first time) and its colouring. It may be that it does taste nasty - like toads do - or it may be spoofing the predators that it's more dangerous than it is. Anyway, they are not at all veneomous to us.

Ironing: a number of my friends seem to take the line that I am a sad and unreconstructed drudge for doing it, but truthfully, I look at my unironed clothes and think 'there's no way I could get away with wearing that without iroing it!' It doesn't help that we have no airing cupboard (French houses don't), and thus nowhere to leave things folded to press themselves, and no tumble drier either, so, in this damp climate, to iron is really the only sure way to make sure things are properly aired and not put away damp!

Dale said...

I loved the miltonic car-fret! How wonderful.

Hmm, google reader doesn't seem to be telling me when you post. Or am I just that far behind? I don't want to miss you!

herhimnbryn said...

Mmmmm, Milton on audio book. What a good idea. But NOT when ironing for me! Probably in the studio when cutting tiles etc.

Molly you are looking well and what a good dog for ignoring the salamander!

Unknown said...

Do spaniels mind being taken to poodle parlours? Or have I become sensitive about social distinctions as a result of reading too much Proust?

Granny J said...

A choice mix in this post! The idea of listening to classics being read is an excellent one. One of the great literary experiences of my young life was a bedtime reading by my partner of the time -- Tom Jones, one chapter per night!

Dick said...

I like the take on Milton. One step up from Classics Illustrated anyway!

As for ironing, coincidentally I've just commented on a Bee Drunken post ( in which she includes ironing in a list of five obsession. I outed myself as a passionate ironer too, although I have to declare that my last batch was accompanied by 'Quantum Of Solace' rather than 'Pilgrim's Progress'.

Kim said...

Glad to hear Molly is on the up and up...and what a beautiful creature that salamander is...brilliant colors.

Fantastic Forrest said...

That salamander is AWESOME. I'd think you just bought a plastic one if I didn't know you weren't that sort of person.

Can't wait to show the kids the picture when they get home from school!