I’m being very quiet these days, because I’m exhausted.
I remember this. It’s what the beginning of fibro felt like. The kind of zoning out, the physical exhaustion, the inability to hold a thought in my head past a certain period of time. I’m irritable as a result of all of this. I have a constant low-grade headache, and my body is starting to hurt again. I’m not sure how to relax, because a lot of my time is just spent sitting there, trying to interact with my children or fold laundry, and not getting very far. I’ve forgotten how to enjoy myself again, because it’s kind of a weary triumph when I just get through doing the regular stuff. I wonder if I need to try to start the “yay me I accomplished these things today” posts again. It would serve to get me journaling more often, and to show me that I am accomplishing things, even when it doesn’t feel like it. I need to consciously start implementing my fibro-coping mechanisms again, starting with my expectations and limits for my daily activity.
I’ve had time off from work, thank goodness. After a crazy few months, I’ve had a couple of weeks of evenings and naps to myself, and I’m so grateful. I don’t know how I’d handle it otherwise.
I’m reading a bit every day, which is nice. I’m almost finished Guy Gavriel Kay’s new River of Stars, and as usual, I don’t know how I feel about it. Kay has vaguely frustrated me a bit over the past few books for reasons I can’t pinpoint, and every time I read one I decide it will be my last… then every time I read an excerpt of the next one and the poetic prose just sucks me in. I disliked the Sarantine Mosaic duology when it came out, but now I think it’s my favourite of all his works. Funny how one’s opinions change.
I’m sending a box of handmade projects to a swap partner from my mums’ group today, and working on that has been lovely. I can’t say any more than that until she’s received it, but I pushed some of my boundaries and skills making the items, and explored new techniques, and I’m pleased with it. Even with the last-minute wibbling about one project, redoing it, and deciding in the end to send the first version after all.
I finally got around to making an appointment to drop in at the local spinning and weaving studio that’s been open for over two years, and it was glorious. Oh my goodness, I will never have to shop online again! There were shelves and shelves of silks, cottons, flax, wools of all sorts, and luxury fibres like yak, camel, and alpaca, which I’d never touched on their own, only as blends. She has two full-size floor looms set up, six wheels, and lots of swifts and rigid heddle looms and carders all over the place. There were cones and cones of cones of weaving yarn, dyes, spindles… I wanted to move in. I could have easily spent so much more than I did. She was so patient with Owlet, too, who wanted to touch all the things. Especially the packets of ginned and dyed cotton that she kept picking up and squishing, saying “skish, skish,” and the huge skeins of handspun she picked up and cuddled, saying “soft, soft.”
We actually had to go two days in a row, because I’d forgotten to take money out of the bank to pay for my order the first day, so we went back. Owlet stopped at every dandelion plant along the sidewalk and yanked off the flower tops, then gave them all to the woman who runs the studio. And she told me she hosts a spin-in once a month on a Sunday, and invited me! Unfortunately, the next one isn on a group cello class day, so I’ll have to wait for the next one.
Owlet is great, Sparky is great (he has a school concert tomorrow afternoon, and I hope everything works out; HRH’s parents are coming to stay with Owlet so I can attend, and then I think there should be a Mama-Sparky treat afterward), I have a new-to-me spinning upright wheel that was a crazy good deal (thank you, enormous tax refund allowing me to give myself a little treat amid paying debts) and HRH has a new-to-him iPhone that we’re trying to set up (ditto the treat, but grr, technology and things not talking to other things). We are a single-cat household for the first time in… well, ever, actually, since I had to take Cricket in to the vet to be euthanised two weeks ago. She’d stopped eating and drinking, and you could almost see through her; it was just time.
That’s about it. Trudging along.
Life continues tumbling pell-mell along.
The concert was lovely. It went better than it should have for me, considering that I have zero time in which to practice. We had a huge house, probably due to the fact that our conductor was our oboe soloist for the opening concerto, and we also played one of his original compositions that hasn’t been played locally (either ever, or in a long time). Lots of friends showed up to share the evening, which was lovely, too. I do wish that my intonation wouldn’t go out the window after intermission, though. I sit on the outside of our section, which means right next to the audience, and I hate that those people can hear precisely how off I get in the second half.
Our accountant handled our tax returns with grace and aplomb again this year, and we filed electronically for the first time. As a result, we got our refunds (substantial!) within two weeks. We are paying bills madly and loving it. It’s a huge relief to hack away at debt.
Both HRH and I went for annual checkups with our new family doctor, who noted some oddities in my exam and sent me for an appointment with a specialist. I was fine about it until the night before, when the potential repercussions finally sank in. Fortunately, the specialist checked me out, and said, “Um, I’m not seeing what your GP saw at all. You look perfectly healthy to me. We’ll wait for results of this test, but I’m pretty sure you’re clear.” So more relief!
I ordered books when my last freelance cheque arrived. So far I have torn through Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal and Incarnate by Jodi Meadows in less than a week. I have Elizabeth Bear’s and Seanan McGuire’s new books waiting to be read next, and the new Guy Gavriel Kay on reserve at the library, too.
We picked up our free tree for the city this weekend, and got a bonus little white lilac. All the trees have leaves starting to bud, and the birds are very happy indeed. HRH has doubled the size of the vegetable garden, and is starting to draw up plans for the new fence he’ll be building this summer. Owlet is thrilled to be playing “osside,” and keeps herself very busy carrying pieces of gravel all over the place and squirrelling them away. HRH found a handful in the watering can this morning, and I found about half a cup in Sparky’s butterfly net. She’d have slept with a rock last night if we’d let her; it was very difficult getting it out of her grubby little fist.
Work is all-consuming, and while going well, it’s draining. The lack of down time in which my brain can relax is really having a negative impact on my quality of life in general. I got a raise a couple of weeks ago in recognition of the “consistently thorough and thoughtful work I do,” which was absolutely lovely to hear. Also wonderful is the confirmation that Owlet is registered for three days a week of daycare in Sparky’s old centre starting at the end of summer, so all I have to do is get through the next three months of working during naps and evenings, and then I will have three workdays a week. No more working nights and naps, and not getting enough sleep! (There was stress and angst surrounding the whole daycare thing, because we’d been on a waiting list and due to start this fall after Owlet turned two, and then suddenly a bunch of the kids who were going to leave were staying on, and the daycare director’s schedules and plans were all thrown up in the air. She worked it all out, bless her, by opening a second private daycare.)
I registered Sparky for summer camp this past week. He had so much fun last year for the two-week session he did that thanks to Nana’s help again, he’s doing two sessions this summer. He’s started doing provincial testing at school, and thank goodness he’s not of an age where that means stress yet. He keeps coming home and casually saying things like, “We did exam stuff in math today, and I got it all right.” His cello bow snapped about a month ago (we theorize that there was an existing fracture, because the way it broke was at odds with how it fell) and his replacement arrived two weeks ago. We’ve had a recent breakthrough with reading sheet music, hand placement, and bow management, so he’s suddenly sounding much better than he was at the beginning of the year. He’s chosen piano for his music class at camp, so we shall see how that goes.
There’s been a bunch of knitting and spinning, but I don’t have time to post that. Sometime this week, maybe. After I hand my latest project in, that is.
I think I am brilliant.
Well, no, I don’t, actually. I think that generally, I scrape by and look a lot better to others than I see myself. But that’s not the point, here. The point is that I have come up with a solution to a problem that has been grating on me for a while now.
My book buying has taken a severe hit in the past eightish years for a variety of reasons— lack of time to read, my interests shifting, less satisfaction with the kinds of books I used to enjoy, and—the largest issue—a lack of funds with which to do it. The library has helped a bit, but I tend to read stuff that libraries don’t buy for their shelves. (Or not my library, anyway.) My money gets saved for books I really want to read, from specific authors I really want to support.
I used to love browsing in a real bookstore. But they’ve been stocking fewer titles I’m interested in as well, which, again, I can sort of understand; the stuff I read isn’t necessarily stuff that lots of people would buy, and so my kind of books don’t make it onto the shelves very often. They’d take up money and space, an investment with an un-guaranteed return. And while I love supporting independent bookstores, they are fewer and further between than they used to be, and so that isn’t as critical anymore. Shopping at the big-box stores in person is pricey, and I get cranky when I could buy the same thing via the website of said store for 30% less, which can be a significant saving. Shopping online is cheaper, the books are almost always in stock (unlike the bricks-and-mortar shop shelves), we both save gas and get mail that way (yay, mail!)… but the drawback is that I have to pay for it via credit card or gift card, and the former is now emergency-only while the latter is confined to after Christmas and birthdays.
Until now. You see, this brainwave I had addresses both the online shopping, the disparity between the online price and the cover price in person at the store, and the payment issue. There is nothing stopping me from buying a gift card for Chapters/Indigo with cash, and using it to shop online. That way I get my online discount, plus mail (yay mail!), and my credit card is untouched. I also get to, you know, buy books, something I only do less than a handful of times per year. That’s made me pretty depressed, seeing as how I’m a writer and editor and general word person, you know?
I am a bit dazed at the simplicity of the solution, to be honest. And somewhat suspicious, as well. It seems so easy, after all, so something has to go wrong, right…?
I will let you know after my next freelance cheque arrives, and I use a bit of it to buy a gift card to the bookstore.
Things have been trudging along.
Work-wise, things are hopping. This is Good for the keeping busy (like I am not busy enough already) and for making money, but Bad for sleep and time management. I did a crazy amount of work over Labour Day weekend, and HRH took election day off to kid-wrangle so I could work, too. I invoiced for the novel last night, and it was a 35-hour job. It was a huge invoice, the biggest I’ve ever submitted, but I did a lot and I wasn’t going to scale the invoice down to avoid looking like I was overcharging. This morning I got a thank you from the copy chief, for my attention to detail, my stylesheet, and my memo to the editor. Apparently I am unique in these latter two things, something that kind of makes me go “huh?”. Sure, I’ve never done a stylesheet before, but that’s because all my previous edits have been to CMoS style or house style, if it differs from CMoS somehow, so it wasn’t necessary. This time, it was definitely required because I did some book-specific formatting that needed to be pointed out and explained to layout/editors/author, so I made it. And no one other than I writes memos to the editors, explaining key changes or areas that need to be looked at? Really? It just seems like a very intelligent idea to me, as well as polite, so I do it every time. And evidently they like me for it, so yay team me!
In the Bad column, Nixie has not been well again. She’s had some kind of abscess on her chest that drained on its own, and seems to be healing, but it was messy and not great for a little while, and we were pretty close to thinking that was that. She’s perked up again, which is nice, but we’re keeping a close eye on her. I was exploring her stomach the other night and thought I’d found another abscess, then I realised that it was the scar tissue from her surgery earlier this year. Whew.
Also in the Bad column, last Friday my sewing machine broke. There was a huge clunk and now the thread take-up is jammed into the machine, and seems to no longer be connected to anything inside when I open the faceplate and check things out. I turn the wheel and everything moves except that. I admit that I cried when I tried everything I could to fix it and nothing worked. I can’t afford to have it fixed. It broke while sewing replacement Velcro to an all-in-one diaper, a slow ongoing project I’ve been handling for the past couple of months because I can’t afford to buy new diapers, not even secondhand ones. I was only halfway done the twelve I have of this style that needed the Velcro replaced; the ones that need to be overhauled have just been sitting in a pile unused all summer because they don’t stay fastened anymore. I hate that when I’m trying to save money, something happens to make it worse. It was so incredibly frustrating. To fix it would likely be at least a hundred dollars — sewing machine repair does not come cheap — for a basic checkup, cleaning, and labour, and that’s assuming it’s a simple fix that doesn’t require a replacement part of some kind. It means buying a new one would make more sense, which also frustrates me, because I try to repair things instead of replacing them, and this disposable culture does not facilitate that. So I started searching secondhand listings and bookmarking potential machines to follow up on when I got a bit of extra cash. (That wasn’t looking good, either.)
In the Good column — no scratch that; in the Stupendously Amazing column, UPS knocked at my door this morning and had me sign for an enormous box. It was a new sewing machine, purchased for me by my online friends from the July 2011 Moms group I’m a member of through Ravelry. I sat down and cried again, but for a very different reason. I’m so close to these women, and most of us have never even met. We talk about good things and bad things that happen to us, share news about our kids, support one another, and have fun together. We’ve pulled together to help one another, too, now and again; I just never expected it to be directed at me like this. I am so very blessed to have friends who help me when I’m down. I haven’t even opened the actual machine yet. It is so beautiful, and has so many fancy stitches, and I promise to get it tuned up every year or so so that I will have it for years and years to come. It has something like forty stitches programmed into it. I think it has more memory in it than the first computer my family bought back in ‘89.
And finally, to cap off the Good column, I FOUND MY MISSING LIBRARY BOOK! I don’t think I’ve mentioned this here. In early July, a book I’d borrowed went missing. It just vanished. It wasn’t on the shelf where I keep our library books, it wasn’t on any other bookshelf in the house, it wasn’t in either of the kids’ rooms, and I never take library books out of the house… it had just disappeared. I renewed it the maximum number of times I was allowed and kept looking for it, to no avail. It drove me absolutely crazy. Finally, last Friday, I went to the library and told them that it was lost, and learned that replacement value was going to be $27. It really rankled that I had to pay $27 for a book that I hadn’t finished, and hadn’t even been enjoying overmuch, and life being what it is, I knew that the odds of finding it right after I’d paid for it were high, so I’d end up owning a book I felt meh about. I was going to go to the bank the next day to get the money, as it was the final due date. That morning, I saw Owlet kick a piece of Lego under the bookcase in the hall. I hadn’t known there was a slim space under it; I thought the front of the base went all the way to the floor. I lay down to reach underneath and get the Lego, and I found the missing book. (I know what happened, too: Owlet pulls the books off the library shelf, so it probably fell, and she kicked it under the shelf by accident just like she accidentally kicked the Lego. I also found a plastic turtle under there.) So I saved the $27 replacement fee, and I got the smug satisfaction of knowing that I didn’t lose it after all! I knew it was in the house somewhere.
Bonus Good thing: Today I got the cheque for my second freelance project that I finished at the end of July. Whew. It will be another five weeks before I get another one, so this smallish one has to last. (That’s a nice thought, but it will be gone in about ten days to pay bills. Still! Better to have it and finally be able to pay them, right?)
Owlet turned thirteen months old yesterday. I have a skeleton of her monthly post in a file, but I can’t finish it till Friday. Actually, there’s a lot that I can do again as of Friday, when I have handed in all my current work. This post was sketches and Tweets and Ravelry posts, collected together for posterity, pieced together during five-minute breaks, but the monthly posts are too complicated for that.
Since I failed at going back to keep monthly track of my reading in this journal, I will mention here that I lately reread Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey before reading the sequel Glamour in Glass, which was excellent, and then I read Ally Carter’s fun YA book I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You. I am working my way through Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn as well, and for some reason I put Amanda Downum’s Kingdoms of Dust down a month ago and didn’t pick it up again till today.
After all the drama with having to cancel my trip and the conference and then finding out that I couldn’t buy my iPad two weeks ago… not one but two iPads were offered to me within a space of seven days, both won as prizes by people who won’t/don’t use them. The first was exactly the iPad I was going to buy, given to me at Owlet’s first birthday party with basically an admonition to not refuse it, to think of it as a permanent loan or to pay whatever I thought was fair for it whenever I could. The second was offered via a friend of HRH’s from college who didn’t even know I was looking for one, with the same permanent loan/eventual payment whenever rule. HRH will likely end up with that one, which is great because he’s been exploring trials of drawing and art apps on this one, and is really excited about the possibility of working on the backgrounds for the Sunset Val web comic digitally. I was so blown away. It feels like the universe was apologizing for all the crap that’s been flying around lately. Here, have this new toy, which you can also work on, and also not so coincidentally a reminder that friends absolutely rock.
Sparky and I had optometrist appointments this past week (there, we have now covered his delinquent dentist and eye doctor visits). His eyes are great, as we expected, though there’s a slight imbalance the doctor wants to check up on again in a year. For my eyes, the doctor was a little surprised to discover that there had been almost no change at all in the past ten years. It’s so minute that there’s no reason to get new glasses, which is somewhat disappointing since I’ve had one pair for nine years and the other for four and I was allowing myself to think about new frames, but also a relief because really, where would the money come from? He told me to come back in two years, which is when he wants to see Owlet, too. While I have the glasses for general wear, when I told him that they actually made my eyes a bit worse when I tried to read highway signs he confirmed that they were mostly for reading and up-close daily use. So I took them off to drive home, and it was a relief to do it and know that I wasn’t being irresponsible somehow.
I think I’m growing my hair again. I realized the other day that if I hadn’t been hacking an inch to two inches off every two months for the past year and a half whenever it got to the awkward length, it would be officially long again already, around the bottom of my shoulder blades. We’ll see what happens, and see how long I can stick to “no, I’m growing my hair again, really” this time. I really like how I look in pictures of it at chin length, but I feel I can do more with it long. (Who am I kidding? What do I do with it other than twist it up and clip it?)
I got cheque for the first copy edit I did post-baby! It all has to go places, so I shouldn’t have walked into Reitmans after depositing it at the bank, because I found two tops I loved and couldn’t justify buying them, even though there was a “buy one get 50% off the second” sale. I’m just starting to wear non-nursing clothes, and the last time I wore my regular wardrobe was two summers ago. None of it thrills me, and it fits oddly — too loose, too short, neither of which is really due to body changes but rather to a shift in how I want to look or feel. I should have at least tried the tops on to discover that they looked awful on me so I could get over it, but I had both kids with me and that wasn’t going to fly. I might set myself a budget and take an hour to go through the local thrift store selection of tops to add something new to my basic jeans-and-t-shirts selection.