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 am so tired.
I’ve been working pretty much nonstop for two months. Every nap I’ve been working fanatically, as soon as the kids are in bed I’m back in front of the computer, editing editing editing, and I’ve had to cram work time in on weekends, too. The good news is there will be money down the line. The bad news is I am exhausted, I am out of touch with an awful lot, I don’t have much cope in reserve for my daily life with kids, and I have zero down time in which to decompress.
In February I worked on a lovely little book about the arts and the Christmas story with an independent author who is self-publishing it, as well as a book for my publisher that required a tonne of fact-checking. I made an error when I evaluated the independent book for an estimate, looking at it for only copyediting. I didn’t realize until I started working though it that it required the next level up of editing, and I blew past my estimate of time and fees, ending up doing twice as many hours as I’d estimated the project would take. I felt so badly about it that I split the over-time with the author, absorbing half the cost because of my error. Fortunately, she was absolutely wonderful about it, and very receptive for the constructive criticism and reworking I asked her to do to get the manuscript to the next level. Not only that, she turned my invoice around in a weekend, and I had my cheque in less that a week. (I wish all clients were that speedy, and that positive about the editing experience!) I get to review her edits and her new material this coming weekend, and I’m quite looking forward to it. I like seeing a project through from a draft to a polished final product, and working with such a positive, open client is a lovely experience.
When I delivered that on March 1, I had a few days to myself to be braindead before my publisher sent me another manuscript to edit, this one a collection of learning activities to do with children. It’s a terrific book, and it was really nice to see some external support of the activities I do with Sparky. I handed that in last night, pulling the old no-sleep-till-it’s-sent-in thing. I am hoping for a little time off before my next project lands, because wow, do I ever need it.
My mother in law has been absolutely wonderful, coming over for a day every two weeks or so to play with Owlet so that I can get a whole afternoon of work in. And my mother came down to visit this past weekend, so she entertained Owlet and sometimes Sparky while I worked, too. That wasn’t ideal; I wanted to be spending time with her, but the work needed to be done, and so naps and nights were work time as usual, with bonus hours on the weekend days and two weekdays while Nana played with Owlet.
I haven’t blogged much this year, and I’m upset about it. I have missed journaling about things that I like to keep track of, other than my easily logged fibre stuff. I shall post a separate post about cello and children next, because they deserve to be their own post rather than shoved in with my vague summary of work over the past two months.
I am struggling with a bout of being non-social. I’ve drastically reduced my use of social media, and as you can see I haven’t been blogging much. Part of that comes from not having the time–I’m doing the mum thing all day, and when the kids have been put to bed I sit down at my computer to work–but part of it also comes from fatigue. I don’t have the brainpower to write anything. And if I did, a lot of it would sound the same: Owlet is bouncing off walls and chattering and being cute. Sparky’s current obsession is Angry Birds. HRH and I are tired. I’m the one who’s losing out, of course, since I journal for my own reference. So here’s a scattershot of what’s been going on.
Work-wise, it was independently confirmed by my copy chief that editors are so happy with the work I’m doing on the novels that they’re starting to ask for me by name, which thrills me. I’m pretty much doing a two-week assignment, then I get a week off, and then I do another two weeks of work. So it’s steady.
We had lunch over at the Preston-LeBlanc household on Sunday, and it was so nice. Owlet wandered around completely overcome by all the things to look at and touch, and enjoyed Pasley’s potato-apple-carrot soup immensely, as well as an apple she plucked from a fruit bowl, the first she managed to bite into with the peel still on. Tamu and Pat and Flora stopped by the previous weekend and we delighted in watching BebeFlo and Owlet play together (especially the peekaboo game with a blanket at the end, where they both ducked under it and stood there giggling at one another). We got out to MLG’s fortieth birthday evening at Hurley’s before that, which was also fun, because I hadn’t seen everyone in ages.
HRH installed the new range hood this past weekend, and it’s a definite improvement over the last one. It no longer sounds like an aircraft taking off, as my father-in-law put it when he gave it to us. The only thing left to do is cut a hole in the kitchen wall for the new exhaust pipe. We’ve been without a fan since the attic was converted into the office, as the old exhaust pipe went up there and lay along the ceiling crossbeams on its way to the exterior exhaust vent. Once a floor was laid, there was nowhere for the duct to go (cutting holes through the ceiling crossbeams isn’t such a good idea, you know?), so a new vent needs to be made. That will happen this weekend.
I dyed fibre and spun it for a fellow Raveller, who won it in a draw for prizes in our Ravellenic Games team that she captained, and I’m quite pleased with it. I hope she is, too. It was my first time dyeing more than a bit of fibre to mess about with. I used Ziplock microwave steaming bags (which was an interesting experience in itself), and did the four ounces of fibre in four one-ounce batches. She requested raspberry and tangerine, and I blended a very nice colour for both from my Jacquard acid dyes, which of course blended and subtly altered when I spun it up. I did a DK/light worsted two-ply yarn, and I gt at least 300 yards out of it. It plumped up beautifully after a wash. Canada Post tells me that it’s out for delivery in her area right now, so she may have it today!
I am currently sewing the Halloween costumes for both kids, and mostly enjoying myself, although doing it in fifteen minutes here and fifteen minutes there is a bit frazzling. I lose my train of thought and a sense of what I’d planned to do next, or how to do it. (I am working without patterns for both of them, because I don’t have enough stress in my life.) I made a lovely pair of polar fleece pantaloons for Owlet, complete with two deep lace ruffles on the legs, and they’re possibly the most adorable things ever. I used polar fleece for warmth, because nights at the end of October around here are usually quite chilly. I made her a mob cap as well with polar fleece on the inside, but it’s smaller than I thought, so I need more deep lace to sew around the edge so it looks less ridiculous.
The last bit of current news is the worst. Today Nixie goes to the vet, and I suspect that she is not coming home. I am spending as much time as possible with her today. At the very least, the large, weeping, overgroomed area on her chest has become infected; at the worst, the overgrooming is directly related to a possible recurrence of the mass that was removed as part of her surgery this past spring, which makes the third appearance of it, and as something like 80% of feline tumours are malignant, even if we get it removed it will just happen again. We don’t have the money for tests and biopsies in the first place, nor treatment if the worst is confirmed. Sparky and I had a hard cry this morning when I reminded him that she was going to the vet today and she might not come home, and he railed against the injustice of it all: “I don’t want Nixie to die! I want her to come home! She is the best cat!” Of course you do, sweetheart; we all do. No one wants her to die. But things die, and we can’t stop it. It doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, and our hearts hurt so much, but it is a truth, and something we have to face, either now or in a few months, or a few years. When I dropped him off at school he met his friends at the schoolyard gate and stopped there, and I wondered why he didn’t go all the way in. And then I saw one of the girls put a comforting hand on his shoulder, and I understood what was happening: as soon as he’d arrived told them that Nix was sick, possibly too sick to come home, sharing his grief and his hurt, and they were sympathizing with him.
At best, I am hoping that they will be able to prescribe antibiotics and come up with a solution to cover the wound so it can heal properly, because everything I’ve tried has failed. At worst, I have to make the decision that every pet owner hates to make. Somewhere in the middle lies the “we can’t do anything but make her comfortable” diagnosis, and if that is what happens I will probably bring her home again until her quality of life deteriorates to unacceptable levels. Because right now her quality of life seems good: she is still eating well, moving in her usual fashion, using the litter box, purring and enjoying the occasional cuddle, and I am weak, and it feels wrong to say goodbye when she seems so normal other than the infected wound. Her energy hasn’t changed at all, and with every other cat we have known when they were tired, ill, and suffering, even though all of them were stoic they way cats are, because we are attentive and sensitive to that sort of thing. Nix doesn’t project any of that. Knowing when to make that decision is the hardest part of this whole process.
I’m so tired. I think the fibro is starting to creep back, as I’m having trouble focusing on things, lacking the energy to be happy and enjoy my hobbies, the body aches and weak hands are here again, sleep is not restful, and my appetite has vanished. Part of this could be attributable to the time of year, but I suspect that the fibro-quashing pregnancy and year of postnatal adrenaline and hormones are finally done with, and my body is slowly creeping back to normal operative levels. It is not fun. I am trying to find joy in small things, and it is very difficult. I don’t have much time to read, or spin. I can sometimes knit for a row or two. But most of my baby-nap time is taken up by cooking or baking or tidying or work or errands. And it’s all very well to think that this time next year she’ll be in daycare, which is exciting because we know she will love it, but that does not help me now.
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.
We spent a day and a half with t! and Jan this weekend. We did a six-hour visit with them at Upper Canada Village and then stayed overnight with them at their homestead, and we had a wonderful time. Owlet didn’t have a morning nap in the car on the way down, despite scheduling things so she would, but I nursed her to sleep mid-afternoon after a picnic, and she slept for forty-five minutes while everyone else went off and did different things. I just zoned out next to her in the shade of some trees and enjoyed the sounds of the wind, water, and horses (partly because it was nice to do, especially because I was fried and crashing, and partly because I’d forgotten both my spindle and my knitting at home). Sparky learned how to milk a cow there (and did well enough that he was using both hands, not just one like the farmer started him off with), how to pump water and slop pigs, and he helped feed the chickens and gather the eggs before supper back at Rowan Tree Farm. He has decided that he is going to be a farmer when he grows up, which I think is a very noble calling in this day and age, considering all the other cool stuff a seven-year-old thinks is awesome and shiny.
Owlet was entranced by all the horses (it was a horse weekend, with various exhibitions and competitions and so forth), and she got to see her first real live baas. I don’t think it really sank in until one came right up to the fence that Sparky was standing on and gave one of those loud, directed BAAAAAAs that sheep can give. She said “Baaaaa! Baaaaaa!” all the way back along the road. She climbed all over Carter, t! and Jan’s husky-collie mix dog, too, who was beautifully patient with her, and kept trying to give him her open-mouthed kisses on his very wet nose. And as a delightful bonus, she slept the whole night through there (yippee! she was certainly tired enough after a long day outside with so many things to see).
I am so thankful that my children have these opportunities, and that we have friends who enable them to experience things like this.
Also, they were selling dyed roving at $10 a pound in the store, wool from the Village sheep carded on site in the woollen mill (the first place we visited, much to Sparky’s excitement — I love this child — and wow, the size of the water-powered carding machines!). So I got to buy myself a treat at a crazy low price! I got some navy and some deep chocolate brown. They were also selling yarn they’d dyed with natural dyes, and I wish they’d been selling some of the lovely soft olivey green or pale purple as roving. Or even some undyed roving, so I could experiment with some food-based dyeing myself.
It was a wonderful way to spend the last weekend of summer. School starts tomorrow for Sparky, his first day of grade two in an 80% French classroom at a brand new school. I’ve been trying for a week to make a ten-minute appointment with his new teacher so he can see that s/he is nice, not intent on making him miserable, and seeing a bit of the school to give him a bit of familiarity, but every time I call the receptionist tells me to call back a day later and they may have the class lists by then. As of today, it turns out that the school board isn’t releasing them until tomorrow, which means I’ve been made a liar to my son for promising him that meeting. Well, we’ll go over after lunch and walk around the outside, anyway, so he has at least that. I’ve left a voicemail with the school principal, whom we know, as she was the principal at Sparky’s school when he was in kindergarten, and if she has a moment maybe we can meet with her, but I know she must be insanely busy today so I’m not holding my breath.
In work news, I am partway through a copy edit for my publisher (an adult novel, very fun, and it’s about an ornithologist so my knowledge of birds is coming in quite useful!), and was asked yesterday to take on another book to edit concurrently because they’re in a bind, on a shorter deadline than usual for the second project, with a higher fee for both projects as a thank you. With Labour Day weekend coming up, plus both Sparky’s and HRH’s schools closed on the 4th for the provincial election, I have more time to work, and so work I will. It’s either feast or famine for a freelancer, and after such a long famine I need all the work I can get. My mother-in-law has also been booked for a Grandma Day here with Owlet that week, too, so I have another day there to finish up the second project. I’ve already been working for two to three hours a night after the kids are in bed, but now I shall edit like a mad editing thing.