Yesterday marked eleven years of owlyblogging.
I’ve been having trouble wrapping my mind around units of time recently. Ninety percent of my CD collection dates from college and university, for example (and not because I embraced the digital form of albums, but rather because the money had somewhere else to go, I wasn’t in record shops as often, or I just wasn’t as excited by new releases as I used to be). Most of my bookcases date from the same era, the contents of said bookcases covering twenty-five years of purchases (again, book buying has taken a severe hit recently, in the last five to seven years). The majority of furniture in any given room is either secondhand (donated or, more rarely, purchased), and the few pieces that were purchased new were done so over seven to ten years ago.
And then I realised that Sparky has only another four years in elementary school (mind = blown), and my concept of time took another sucker punch. I’m sure yours just has, too. You’re welcome.
I have met some wonderful, wonderful people through blogging, people whom I consider good friends even though we have not met in real life. I have even been fortunate enough to meet a handful face to face and tell them what they mean to me. I am thankful for this mode of journaling, and for this method of communication, even though I do it primarily for myself. Thank you, dear readers, for journeying along with me, some of you for the entire eleven years, some of you only for a few days, weeks, or months so far. It is lovely to have you here.
I am back from the vet with an empty pet carrier and a Nixie-shaped hole in my heart.
It was time, but that doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier. It also didn’t help that her veins were collapsing so they couldn’t insert the IV properly, and had to inject her in the abdomen, which meant that she went more slowly (although with the sedative and painkiller they’d already given her, she wasn’t feeling anything by that point). At least I got to hold her close in my arms until she stopped breathing. It felt right, like it was a fitting bookend to how often I had held her as a newborn kitten to feed her, to make sure she lived.
Born to a feral cat being fostered by a friend who lived a few blocks away, Nixie was the tiniest one of the litter, very tiny indeed, and we didn’t think she’d make it without help. So I went over once or twice a day to give her extra meals and cuddles. Naturally, when she was old enough, she came home with me. She never really got very big, remaining the size of an adolescent kitten. She was perfect the way she was.
She used to sleep behind a row of books on the bottom shelf of a bookcase. If she’d been rolling on the floor and had motes of dust in her fur, when she walked through a sunbeam she looked like she was the velvety blackness of space with tiny sparkling galaxies scattered through. She liked to sleep in tiny hidey-holes, particularly shelves. In her later years, she slept next to my pillow at night, though this past year she’s slept on a blanket upstairs in the attic office. Her fur was the silkiest I’ve ever felt on a cat. I loved her purr, and how she would delicately reach out with a paw and just the tiniest bit of unsheathed claw to pat my hand or my cheek, to coax me into stroking her.
We had just over ten wonderful years together.
She was light enough to be able to jump up and balance on my cello in its soft case (and don’t think I didn’t find her napping inside the empty case when she thought she could get away with it!):
She would lie on my desk and keep me company while I worked:
Sparky took a really neat photo of her when he was about four:
But this is how I will always remember her, lithe, with big green eyes, sitting in the sun on my bookshelves.
Thank you, sweet little cat, for being my dear companion, for loving us all, and for enriching our lives with your delicate personality. Say hello to Maggie, Gulliver, and Roman for us. Sparky told me last night that Maggie would be waiting for you, to show you the best sunny spots and grass to play in. And I’m not going to argue with the eerily insightful seven-year-old, because honestly, I think he’s right.
I get it. You were probably with some friends, feeling big and dangerous, and you tried car doors all down the street. And for some unfathomable reason — we always lock our doors — ours opened.
You tossed the car looking for stuff of value. You didn’t take the registration or the insurance, or the car itself, and that’s how we know you were a kid, not a serious thief. You left it a mess, but you didn’t break anything, and you only took one thing.
The FM transmitter for our iPod.
Our first one broke about ten months ago, and I’ve been without one for that long, because sure, they’re only about forty bucks, but we didn’t have that money for something that wasn’t groceries or bills. We got another one on sale just two weeks ago, so I could finally listen to my orchestra work on the way to rehearsal again, and we could listen to the Harry Potter audiobook we got. We have another eight-hour trip coming up this weekend, and we were really looking forward to that audiobook. It was going to be a huge treat for the whole family.
We work really hard for what little we have, and we work by the rules. And in a couple of minutes, you ruined that. And you know when we found out? At the end of a day where we had finally decided, after a lot of angst, that yes, we could afford the gas to drive to visit my parents for Easter weekend, so that our kids could see the grandparents they only see about five times a year. It was also the day where after we’d made that decision, I discovered that one of my little cats is sick, possibly very, very sick, and had a crisis because I couldn’t afford to both take that trip and take the cat to the vet. Friends stepped in (many friends offered their help, and I love them all so very much for their caring and support) and now I can do both. But it was a really, really bad day. Then you made it worse when we found that you’d invaded our privacy and taken the one thing that has made my life in the car a lot more bearable after months of frustration. Add the sense of violation and anger at feeling ineffective to it all, and you’ve got what my day was like.
One good thing has come of this. We now know that the wonky driver’s side master locking switch is officially fried and unreliable, despite its helpful beeps that say it’s working, which means we’ll have to walk around the car, open the passenger side door, and use that one. I suppose I should be thankful that you didn’t steal the CDs (although most of them are copies because I don’t like taking originals in the car, as they get scratched), or the kids’ car seats, which would have put paid to any travel anywhere. But you know what? I find it really, really hard to be thankful for anything associated with this.
In closing, I hope that the moment you plug that transmitter into a car it blows out the whole electric system of the vehicle, and you have to pay a craptonne of money to repair it. I hope it fries whatever MP3 player you plug into it. I hope that bad luck dogs every step you take, because you stole a $40 bit of electronic equipment that a family down on its luck saved up to buy, to give themselves a bit of sunshine in their stressful lives.
LATER: Fortuitously found a cheap replacement FM transmitter in a flyer that just arrived for a discount electronics place around the corner. Shall check it out tomorrow. I refuse to let this get me down.
Last night at orchestra I sat in the back of the cello section instead of as second chair.
I’ve been second chair since, oh, about four years ago, I think? Possibly more. It’s a somewhat terrifying position, because I’m right in front of the conductor, but it’s also a very educational position, because I’m next to our principal (who also happens to be my teacher) and I learn so much from absorbing her technique that way.
But it’s been increasingly less beneficial and more self-detrimental. Like last time I had a baby, I had no intention of dropping orchestra: cello is my one activity that gets me out of the house, my one thing that’s just for me. But unlike last time, this baby doesn’t nap placidly in a basket the way Sparky did in his first few months; she will not sleep unless she’s curled up on or with someone. If Owlet doesn’t sleep, then (a) I can’t work and make money, like I’d planned to be doing by now, and (b) I don’t get practice time. As a result, I’ve been showing up unprepared, and sitting where the conductor can clearly hear your unpreparedness is not relaxing, or even challenging; it’s just awful. Add to that the fact that I’m expected to lead the section if the principal cannot be there, which has happened once or twice so far this season, and it’s a recipe for disaster. I’m not doing the amount of work that’s required for this commitment, and that’s been increasingly stressing me out over the past couple of months. And while I can’t afford the time to prep for orchestra, I also can’t practice for my cello lesson. Heck, I haven’t been practicing at all. Which kind of makes a weekly cello lesson pointless, and made me feel like I was wasting my teacher’s time.
Then I took into account our general financial position at the moment, as I’m not working because Owlet doesn’t nap on her own, and the fact that it’s a forty-five minute drive both ways and a quarter tank of gas for the round trip… and all that added to the lack of practice meant that it was time to be Responsible. I am fully aware that playing the cello is a luxury. It is not a necessity, like food and mortgage and utilities are. Not working, and not qualifying for maternity benefits because I missed the minimum income required last year (never mind that I made more than enough the four years before that, grr), has really put a strain on our finances. Paying for the boy’s weekly lessons is one thing. Paying for my own on top of them makes for a monthly bill I can no longer cover. And finally, while our yearly orchestra dues aren’t high, it’s still a chunk of money I don’t have at the moment, and I’ve been feeling guilty about not having paid them yet.
So last week at my cello lesson, I told my teacher reluctantly that I had to drop to doing a lesson every two weeks instead of weekly, and that I might have to drop orchestra altogether, and explained why. I said I knew this probably meant I wouldn’t get to perform my solo for the Christmas recital, since we’d only have a couple of lessons before the dress rehearsal. I didn’t suggest dropping out entirely, because I’m in a lot of group pieces and my line would need to be covered somehow, and we only have a couple of group rehearsals left. Dropping out entirely and forcing everyone to rebalance would have been the less responsible thing to do.
My teacher, star that she is, proceeded to work out alternate arrangements for everything. My solo, she said, was in excellent shape already, and she felt it would be fine, although we could re-evaluate a week or two before the recital. As I’d still be bringing Sparky to his cello lessons weekly (he is much too young to drop to a regular biweekly schedule), she said I could play through my solo piece for ten minutes after his lesson on the days that I didn’t have lesson, just to keep an eye on how things were evolving to catch problems before they became bigger. She even considered letting me play her own cello on those days, so I wouldn’t need to bring my instrument for ten minutes of play, but they’re different sizes and the shift distances would be different. And then she suggested doing something similar for orchestra: since I had the music for the current concert and we’d done the work already, why not drop to every two weeks for that as well, and switch places with another player in the section until I was back on my feet and could return full-time.
I was so grateful. I’m very lucky to have a teacher and section leader who understands, and who is willing to work with me to allow me to still engage in an activity that I enjoy. And last night I discussed my fee payment with the person in charge of collecting our dues (who also happens to be the person with whom I switched places in the section, and a fellow student of my teacher’s with whom I’ve played duets and who has come up to sit with me when our principal has been absent) and we agreed that I’d just bring in ten or twenty dollars every rehearsal until my fee had been paid in full.
Sitting in the back of the section removed so much of my physical, mental, and emotional stress. I no longer felt like the conductor was hovering over me with a ruler, ready to smack my wrists if I made a mistake (which he wasn’t at all; that’s completely and totally my guilty conscience projecting my sense of failure onto the situation). I probably played better last night than I had for the last six weeks.
This was a tough decision, don’t get me wrong. I don’t like admitting that I can’t handle what’s asked of me. And I hate feeling like I’m letting people down. I’m so relieved that a solution has been found, one that’s even better than the only solution I could see.
And then today, Miss Owlet came upstairs with me and sat quite happily playing with dangly things in a bouncy chair while I practiced for twenty minutes. So there is hope for fitting semi-regular practice into my day again. I’m hoping we’ll be in a better financial position in the new year, and that I’ll be able to work for a couple of hours every day by then, and have enough money to cover weekly lessons and gas to them and orchestra.
I’ve been buried in galley proofs for the bird book, so that plus the having people around when I usually have the house to myself means I’m behind on journaling.
I had another prenatal last Wednesday. My OB approved and signed my birth plan, and is thrilled with it all. I was thrilled myself when we did the hospital tour a couple of weeks ago and found that I could throw out half of my rough draft birth plan because my hospital does all the stuff I want them to do as a matter of course. I asked about when she wanted me to go into the hospital when labour began, and she said that (a) since I had a relatively quick birth last time because of the premature thing, and that second deliveries tend to be quicker, that it might average out to around the same; so since I tested positive as a carrier for strep B (like 25% of the population!) and need antibiotics 4 hours before delivery at the very least to avoid infecting the baby, I should go in when contractions start, just to be sure. She was mildly concerned to hear about a bit of fluid loss I’d had the day before, was glad to hear it stopped and nothing had happened since, and said sternly that if it happened again I was to go right to hospital, because if the waters break after 34 weeks without contractions they have to evaluate and likely induce.
The only not as good thing this time round was that she had gone through all my tests and ultrasounds reports from the past 8 months, collated them (I have files going in two different places, so this doesn’t happen as often as it probably should), averaged them out… and has revised my due date again, which means I am now technically not at 36 weeks until this coming Monday. (36 weeks is the magic number at which I will be allowed to deliver at my hospital instead of being transferred to the neonatal one like last time.) And because the clinic now thought I was having a 35-week appointment instead of a 36-week one, they scheduled my next appointment for two weeks later, not one, which freaked me out mildly because I was sure I’d be having the baby by mid-July. But no; the next prenatal is scheduled for two weeks, at which point my OB will do a check for dilation/effacement, and then it’s an appointment every week till the baby is born.
Here’s the thing. Having been primed by every doctor I’ve ever spoken to over the past six years to expect a second premature birth, I’m hitting the time where I thought I’d either (a) have a baby already, or (b) be having the baby right nowish. So I’ve got this weird dual emotional thing happening. On one hand, I’m thankful that everything is going right and my progesterone/reduced activity/bed rest treatment are obviously working, since we’re a month beyond when the boy was born. On the other hand, I feel somehow as if I’m right at or already past my expected birthing date, so things feel late. I’m depressed and frustrated as a result, and also feeling guilty, because I should be thankful that this baby is going full-term, right? And everyone in my online July birthing group is having babies, which is wonderful, and I love running to the computer every morning to see who’s a new mum. But I’m a little sad, too, because I’m not one of them yet, and I’d been thoroughly set up to expect that I would be.
I’m so messed up.
Back to good news: My application to donate cord blood to the public blood bank for use in stem cell registry was approved. I was concerned, because my application got caught in the mail strike, but they called me two days before my 36-week mark (or what used to be), which is their deadline for application.
Prep-wise, things are going well in general:
- Cloth diapers: Check. I love Kijiji; I scored a dozen bumGenius AIO organic diapers for $90, and then 38 (!) Mère Hélène prefold cloth diapers (a local make that has great reviews) plus a bunch of liners, bags, and accessories for just over $100. Both these are all-sizes, so we’re covered for the entire diapering era. The Mère Hélène came with pull-up nylon covers but I hate them, so I’ll be scouting for a few different Velcro-tab covers. (There’s nothing like paying a total of $200 for 50 diapers plus liners/accessories instead of the $2500 to $3000 we’d be paying for disposables. We live in the land of cheap Hydro, and you do at least an extra two loads of laundry a week with a baby anyway. And I don’t want to think about how long it takes a disposable diaper to decompose in a landfill. It’s funny how many people say we’re setting ourselves up for a lot of work; everyone forgets we did it for the boy when he hit the medium/large size, unless he was with a caregiver or babysitter, at which time we provided disposables for convenience. As for the time and energy used in taking care of them… whether we’re putting the time and energy into working to be paid to make money to buy disposables, or putting that time and energy into washing cloth, it comes from somewhere, and we’d rather do it this way.)
- All the 0-3 mos baby stuff washed, clothes and linen: Check. (Also, all the baby clothes in storage/given to us sorted by age and washed, boxed, and put into the newly sorted/cleared out storage room downstairs. This was huge.)
- Storage for the baby’s stuff: Check. Courtesy of the local grandparents, the boy now has a new dresser! We have moved the old changing table/bureau into the hall and now the Owlet’s clothes and diapers have somewhere to go, thank goodness. I was going crazy with bags and boxes in the hallway downstairs.
- Baby bed set up in our bedroom: Check.
- Car seat: Check.
- Hospital bags (Mum’s, baby’s, and HRH’s) mostly packed except for last-minute stuff: Check.
- New cell phone set up: Check. (Yes, the secondhand iPhone I’ve been using as a heavier, more expensive Touch is now a fully operational phone, huzzah!)
- Current score in the attic: One staircase, one floor, three fully framed walls, one framed closet, one framed windowseat, one new window!
Goodness, we may be ready for this baby. So of course, she will not come for another four weeks now that she’s been apprised of her revised due date.