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.
When cello started again after the Christmas break, we reviewed my Christmas recital performance (which confirmed that yes, I’d been pretty darn good, better than all of us expected considering where I was at my piano rehearsal the week before performance, frankly), and my teacher and I decided to work on my bow hand and arm. So we began Chanson Triste, the last piece in Book 4, and I’ve been really enjoying that for the past three months. It’s done me a lot of good. It sounds beautiful, I’ve been able to focus on what my bow hand is doing, and jumping from the first to the final piece in the book has done wonders for my self-esteem. We’ll go back, of course, but this was something positive I could cling to these past few months, and I really needed that.
Orchestra, on the other hand, has been suffering really badly. I have had zero time to practice at home (something I admitted to my teacher, who understood—she was probably not happy about it, but she understood) and it’s really reflected in how behind I am in the orchestra music. We have a concert in two and a half weeks, and I have lost three months of practice time. I am so thankful to be sitting at the back of my section.
This seems a decent place to say: Hey, locals! Spring concert on April 13! Valois United, 7:30pm! Beethoven 2nd symphony, an Elgar string serenade, Grant’s Sinfonietta (yes, that would be our conductor), an Albinoni oboe concerto (soloist: our conductor!), and a couple of other smallish things.
The boy has been working diligently on his cello, however. He is just about there when it comes to reading music, something we have been working very hard on, and something he has been very frustrated with. He is playing a couple of really fun group things in the upcoming recital, has pretty much learned an impressive arrangement of the Angry Birds theme by heart since January (his teacher was hoping he would play it as his recital piece, I think, but he insists on playing Song of the Wind, with me accompanying him), and is zooming through his pitch and rhythm book. When he is frustrated, he tells me how much he hates cello and how he wishes he’d never chosen to play it, but when it’s going well he is very cheerful and says how much he loves it.
Speaking of going well, he finished up his second school term halfway through February. Two weeks ago, he brought home his second term report card. He got 40 in French communication last term. (That was the number grade his teacher told us not to worry about, as it reflected his English stream background.) He has a 91 in it this term, and 92 in producing oral and written French.
He more than doubled his grade. We were completely blown away. I cried, I was so proud of him. “Mama,” he said, “is my report card good enough for you to buy the Hoth level in Angry Birds Star Wars, like we talked about?” “Good grief, yes,” I said, scrubbing at my eyes. “Go get me the iPad and I will do it right now.” And then I took him and his sister to McDonalds for lunch as a surprise the next day, too. (Or rather, we went through the drive-through, since Owlet was fussy. Still, as we go to McDonalds maybe once a year, on the drive to or home from his grandparents, this was a Big Thing.)
In general, every single grade went up a percentage point or two, except gym, again. He’s a bit of a klutz, yes, but he has fun, and that’s what’s important. And we are so very, very proud of how hard he has worked, and continues to work.
So, this sock project.
We started with off-white yarn, and wound a long skein:
Then we dyed half of the skein in one bag of yellow dye, with the other half in a bag of burgundy dye next to it (we used the microwave to steam and set the dye, and the pictures were awful, so they’re not here).
After it dried it looked like this:
I reskeined it, so we’d have a better idea of how it would look knit up:
And I knit it:
Hey, check out that self-striping! How cool am I?
And the boy tried it on…
… but it’s a just-fit, verging on a shade too small.
He had a lot of trouble pulling it over his heel. I saw him hauling on the ribbing and there’s no way it would last. I had to inch it on his foot for him to get the photos. There’s no point in knitting another one this size. And I was so proud of my number crunching, scaling my sock pattern down through every step for a youth foot, too! The main problem is easing the cuff and heel over his instep and heel and then settling the toe on properly. So, you know, if he never had to take it on or off, and didn’t have to move in it, it would be fine.
So I’ll knit a bigger pair. I won’t have enough of the self-striping yarn for two whole socks, though, especially if they’re bigger, so I will use the dark red Cascade superwash I have left over from knitting a baby blanket square for for the body of the leg and foot, and the striping yarn for the cuff, heel, and toe. It will look awesome.
But I am very proud of this sock regardless! It is a real sock to be worn as-is on a foot! And I knit it in six days. I cast on for sock 1.2 yesterday and finished the cuff today, so now it’s on to the leg.
Sparky dressed as Tintin for book week at school. He looked awesome. We expected him to choose his default of Harry Potter, but we’re thrilled that he went in a different direction. (Also thrilled that I had a perfect sweater, he had a pair of lightish-coloured pants, and there was an arctic fox stuffie that made a somewhat convincing Milou.)
LATER: Since Blade requested it… photographic evidence in the form of a bad phone camera shot!
I dyed that self-striping yarn in crimson and gold for Sparky’s Gryffindor socks. I’m at the heel gusset already. Sock knitting is fast; sock knitting for kids is super fast. I could get to like this. It’s a short colour repeat, but they’re smallish socks, so it balances out. I’m hoping he wears these more than his Gryffindor scarf; he kept asking for it to be longer while I was knitting it, but then it ended up being too long for him to play in. He’ll grow into it, I guess.
The car gave us trouble earlier this week. The engine light started going on, and the car was uncharacteristically sluggish. I started saying a quick prayer every time I got in to drive to the school. We were pretty sure it was either the alternator not charging the battery for some reason, or the battery not holding a charge. We hoped it was the battery, because we’re covered by full replacement warranty on the one we bought two and a half years ago. HRH took the day off work yesterday, dropped Sparky off at school, then drove the car to the garage he uses near his parents’ house, and the car pretty much died as he turned into their parking lot: no power steering, no power brakes, no accessories. Turns out it was the alternator (which was original, so nine years old!), and the belt was dead, too. So it was costly, but his parents paid for half of it as his birthday present, bless them, for which we are extremely grateful. I should be thankful that I had money in hand at the moment to do it, but it was designated for various bills, which now get shuffled to the next payday, and we’re tight again for another month instead of being okay. Grr.
More grr in that Sparky and I have had dreadful colds, but I’m thankful that Owlet doesn’t seem to have caught it. It’s one of those colds that makes the ears and throat hurt like blazes, which is no fun for anyone, but especially hard on toddlers and babies. I thought everything was fine, and then Sparky came home from school early today and went right to bed. We’ll see how he is tomorrow morning.
He was selected for a lunchtime homework assistance program, which I was thrilled about, because it’s taking an hour or more to do his homework after school (most due to concentration issues) and it’s hard to help him when Owlet is running around screeching, plus make supper at the same time. He now meets a teacher twice a week to work on his vocabulary and reading, and it’s knocked at least half an hour off his homework those two days. As a trade-off, he was allowed to register for an after-school program on a Tuesday or a Thursday. He wasn’t allowed last term, because we knew homework needed to be his main focus, and he was really upset about that; but if his homework load is going to be halved two days a week, then sure, we can swing an after-school club on one of those days. He dithered between science, chess, and art, but eventually chose science. I know he’s going to love it, especially because his best friend in class registered for the same club.
This week is the last of the second term, which means report cards by the end of the month. I’m looking forward to seeing how he’s doing. I can’t wait to see how his French marks have climbed up again.