Monthly Archives: September 2008


We have achieved a decent operating level of health! It’s amazing what nine hours of sleep can do.

Of course, now we are in the post-sick weak-as-a-kitten stage. But being able to think straight, stand straight, and breathe is such a novelty that I can deal with the weakness. A walk would kill me.

I finished up my freelance evaluation this morning and I’m uploading it to the client’s server now. I’m wiped for the day, of course, but that’s fine; it will take a day or so to get it approved, and then I can grab another one. There’s a backlog of material to evaluate, so the client is doing a pay-and-a-half promotion this week. Extra money is very nice.

Now I can go curl up under the afghan or in bed and browse secondhand iBook listings. Goodness, they are affordable…


I have deep affection for the borrowed iBook. It is light; it is silent; it is relatively quick for its age; and it is white. I am surprised that the colour of the casing and keyboard makes such a difference. I seem to work well within the Apple interface, too, which has a nice design.

While I have developed affection for it and a genuine enjoyment of using it, I am not in such deep love that I am going to shell out $1200 + for a new Macbook. No way. There are, however, other notebooks out there that are white and quiet. I will investigate further.

I have done 90% of my freelance project today. I’ll take two hours tomorrow morning to polish the evaluation report and submit it, then ask for another assignment. That’s excellent turnaround time. I am very pleased.

Still sick. No voice. I think coven’s going to be cancelled tonight. No one should have to come into this House of Plague unless absolutely necessary.

A Call For Pledges

Gentle readers, my courageous friend Mousme is participating in this year’s Shave to Save campaign. I try to support my friends in whatever fundraising efforts they undertake when I can. Shave to Save is the annual fundraiser hosted by the local radio station Mix96, held to raise money for the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation and awareness for National Breast Cancer Awareness month. If the participant raises $2000 or more, the studio travels to their workplace with a stylist who shaves the participant’s head. The audio of the event is recorded for broadcast on a subsequent show of the announcer who accompanies the stylist. Our equally courageous friend Robyn did this two years ago, live in the studio!

Mousme is aiming for the $2000, and has set up a PayPal donation account for that purpose. Please consider pledging any amount; every cent helps a cause like this.

I would like to point out that Mousme has lovely long silky hair. Apparently it can be donated to one of the several wig-making organizations if the hair hasn’t been chemically treated. That’s not the point, though: Mousme is sacrificing well over a foot of hair for this. Let’s make it worth her while by showering her with sponsorship.

ETA: Mousme has posted a most excellent and informative collection of stats and good reasons to pledge. Here’s the gist of it:

Dear friends, family, and colleagues,

Every year, thousands of people have their lives affected by breast cancer. It is one of the leading causes of death in women. Every one of us knows someone who has had breast cancer, or who has been directly affected by this disease that claims so many. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Canada, a time to raise awareness and work even harder to beat this disease.

According to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation:

– in 2008, an estimated 22,400 women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer. On average, that is about 431 women diagnosed every week;
– in 2008, an estimated 170 men in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Men with breast cancer make up a little less than 1% of all cases.
– in 2008, an estimated 5,300 women and 50 men will die from breast cancer in Canada;
– one in nine (11%) Canadian women is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime (this means by age 90).
– only one in every 28 Canadian women will die from breast cancer. This means that about two-thirds of the women diagnosed with breast cancer in Canada will live through it.

This disease is curable, with the right tools. Early diagnosis is key to a good prognosis, and the only way for that to happen is for people to be aware and educated on the subject.

In spite of all the progress that has been made in treating breast cancer, there is still a lot of work to be done. With your help, we can make this disease a thing of the past.

This year, I will be participating in the Shave To Save Challenge that is run by a local Montreal radio station, Mix 96. I will be raising $2,000 for the Québec Breast Cancer Foundation, at which time I will have my head shaved as a gesture of solidarity for all the women who have no choice about what happens to their hair when they undergo treatments.

Please take the time either to donate to this cause, or to spread the word to your own colleagues, friends and family. The more people donate, the easier it will be for me to reach my goal of $2,000 by October 31st, 2008.

For more information on Breast Cancer, please visit the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation website.

Thank you for your support.

A meter indicating the current level of Mousme’s pledges plus a donation button for your own pledge can be found here.

(If you have no clue who I’m talking about, this might help: Mousme is Random Colour’s drummer!)

Weekend Review

I cannot find my CD of William Boyce symphonies anywhere, and it is making me very cranky because that’s what I want to listen to this morning, damn it. I have to settle for Percy Grainger piano stuff instead. Which is nice to rediscover and all, but he’s not William Boyce.

The weekend ranged from really quite nice to argh and back again.

1. Lovely weather. Everyone’s health seemed to improve somewhat, at least during daylight hours. Thumbs up.

2. Saturday morning: We found HRH a new fall jacket, I picked up some heel liners for my red shoes, and then we headed out to Longueuil to pick up my cello. And oh joy, it sounds bee-you-ti-full. My cello has always been easy to play (in the getting-sound-out-of-it sense, not the oversized-body-thick-neck-argh sense), but now it’s even easier! I always forget how strings deteriorate in sound quality over time, and the awful warp on the bridge certainly wasn’t helping. I, like an absent-minded sick person, wore a long straight denim skirt and a black sweater along with my red shoes. Lovely for a day out in fall; not so conducive to cello-playing. No matter; I sat with both knees together and to the left, and played the cello side-saddle to hear how it sounded. The ten year old girl there renting her first violin gave me a surprised look. Anyway, lovely, lovely sound: I love the feel of the strings, the new scoop on the fingerboard makes thumb position easy to play (I never thought I’d say that, ever) and the bridge is just beautiful and looks so much sturdier than my last one from my now-ex-luthier. They reshaped the pegs, too. “Really?” I said. “They were fine — never stuck, never slipped.” “You’d have noticed sooner or later,” the assistant luthier said darkly. “They were decidedly… oval.” And then he asked shyly about the mystery cello, which is still tucked away along a wall of the workroom, so I obliged him by telling him the Secret Origin story. The luthier flew in from dealing with three people in the other room long enough to make sure I was thrilled with the tune-up and then apologised for not getting to the quote on the mystery cello; he said things were very busy. I assured him that of course it was busy, it was the beginning of the school year as well as the concert season, and not to stress about it. It’s going to take a while to restore anyway; a few weeks aren’t going to make much difference in the long run. It’s also not like the mystery cello is my main instrument, and I’ve lived fifteenish years of my cello-playing life without it. Of course I’m excited about it, but there’s no rush.

I forgot to buy rosin again. Again. I give up.

I didn’t bring my bow with me to test the new setup so they lent me one, and it’s a good thing I didn’t play with it for more then five minutes because I was falling in love with it. Perfect weight, nice balance, good springiness; more responsive than the one I currently use, which has been my favourite up till now. The assistant helpfully looked it up for me: pernambuco of Chinese make, four hundred dollars. If it had been three hundred I’d have bought it on the spot. But still, it’s a decent price for a pernambuco bow with those fittings and that kind of response. I keep telling myself there’s no point in buying a new bow now if I’m going to be playing a different cello in a few months. But I want it.

3. I finished Anathem last night, a brilliant philosophical story that reminded me a lot of the discussions we used to have after classes at the Liberal Arts College. And on Saturday I read the entirety of Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride, a book I obtained for review through MiniBookExpo. Best Austen sequel I’ve ever read.

4. HRH took down the awning on the back deck and removed the air conditioner from the kitchen window, replacing the regular windows instead. Suddenly there is a lot more light in the kitchen. He also moved the heater from the wall that backs onto the neighbours’ place (a inside wall, which makes no sense) to the half-wall in the kitchen that backs onto the living room, i.e., in the middle of the house (which makes a heck of a lot more sense). This involved buying electrical cord and a junction box, turning the electricity off, installing said junction box, feeding new cord around the kitchen, wiring it all in, turning everything back on to make sure it worked, then swapping baseboards to hide the old installation spot. Those of you who know HRH’s track record with electricity will be immensely gratified to hear that he did not experience a single shock. We’re going to look at doing the two similarly stupidly-placed heaters in the living room next, moving one to under the window (you know, where it’s actually needed) and removing the other entirely, which would enable us to put furniture along the walls. (What a concept!)

5. Saturday night I zoned out and forgot my on-line writing date with Ceri. I can’t even use falling asleep as an excuse.

6. Thanks to a timely question from Ceri on Friday, I realised that I’d written the harvest picnic down on the wrong day on the calendar. It was Sunday, not Saturday, and thus we had to cancel our appearance as it was in fact taking place concurrent with my mother in law’s birthday celebration. Grr.

7. We had the neighbours down for breakfast with us on Sunday. The waffles were so good we sent HRH back to the kitchen to make a second batch. Could have sat and zoned in the sunny living room all day, except we all had things to do.

8. I dug my first ever potatoes from the back garden on Saturday. They are so very adorable, ranging from the size of my thumb to the size of a Real Potato. We have enough for one meal. Note to self: next year, plant lots more potatoes. Although to be fair, this was a single potato that had sprouted in the darkness of the back cold closet that I chopped up and buried to see what would happen. Next year I’ll plant them seriously, at an earlier date and at a proper depth.

9. Lovely, lovely late afternoon visit with my in-laws on Sunday. I had a cappuccino as soon as I got there (thus averting the grumpy ‘no I can’t have after-dinner coffee with everyone else’ thing I always go through) and enjoyed it very much, along with the creamy Brie and crackers with rather fortified port wine jelly my mother in law set out for us all to nibble (last year’s jelly; it has aged, apparently). We had my father in law’s spectacular ribs for dinner and a light hazelnut cake for dessert. It was just so nice to sit down in the sun and watch the boy playing with Grandma. No energy, remember?

10. Laundry. Lots of laundry. Our clothesline snapped a few weeks ago and we keep forgetting to replace it, alas.

11. The cello still sounds lovely. It sounded much nicer at the lutherie, of course, because of the surroundings and because I wasn’t afraid to actually make noise. Pizzicato sounds terrific; nice sustain. I’m looking forward to playing it at orchestra on Wednesday.

12. Everyone else is getting somewhat better health-wise except me. Well, nights and mornings aren’t good for anyone, but I’m bad all the time. Everyone else is sleeping. Gnarr.

Right; my freelance assignment finally came through, so off I got to work.

PS: I have an iBook to play with for a week or so. Muah-hah-hah.

Oh, Bother

I should have just curled up in my reading chair and played Guitar Hero on the DS this afternoon for the amount of work-stuff I’ve actually accomplished.

I don’t have much memory of the day, really. I know I chatted with Ceri about books via e-mail. I know I answered the phone a few times, and both people who know me and complete strangers answered my “Hello?” with “Wow, do you have a cold?” The stranger from the bank cheerfully signed off our brief conversation with “And I hope you get better soon!”

I have made more typing errors today than any other day I have been alive, I am absolutely certain. I have spent as much time fixing errors as typing stuff in the first place.

At least I started dinner. I’m doing a pork tenderloin in the slow cooker, in a homemade barbecue-ish sauce consisting of tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce, plus an onion and a teaspoon-size blob of Montreal steak rub. (And on this topic, I cannot believe how many recipes for slow cooker barbecue pork consisted of “put pork in slow cooker, cover with a bottle of your favourite BBQ sauce.” Come on, people — that should be illegal.) I’d love to have it with brown rice but I think we’re out. It’ll have to be white rice. Grr.

Also? Despite my ears being blocked, the whine of the computer tower is driving me crazy. If only I could have it hidden in the closet or something, or in another room entirely.

Bah. And the boys will be home any minute, too. I think today just needs to be written off.

On the bright side, I tidied up my writing desk, and I’m loving this cool, clear weather. Hello, fall!

The Joys of Being Sick

My ears have just spontaneously (I assume) unblocked, thank the gods. I hate being sick, and my body has arrived at the achy body/chills/headache stage of the Game of Ill. All three of us are sick. The boy seems to be the one who’s operating at the best level of efficiency; HRH and I have been dragging ourselves through the week.

I wrote the boy’s 39 month post early last week, saved it, and evidently forgot to publish it. I’ve just done that; it’s here. Annoying as all heck, because for once I finally did it on time.

I am at the ‘I suck at writing’ stage of the book, too. Why do I do this? No one is ever going to want to buy it. Doesn’t something else have to be happening, something important? What’s the point of telling a story if it doesn’t examine something deep and philosophical and life-changing? And I suspect that it might be better told as a first-person narrative. I’m going to stick to the third person until I’m absolutely convinced it would be better in the first, though. This is just my inner critic trying to stop me from getting anything done.

I have zero energy. Stupid achy cold. This is what I used to feel like all the time. I’m so grateful that the fibro was diagnosed and that I’m taking something for it now. How did I operate like this for weeks at a go?