Monthly Archives: February 2010

One Step Forward, One Step Back

After a severe setback yesterday wherein I lost most of the day to researching ways to embed fonts on a Mac, and then finding that using Open Office to make a PDF had resulted in borking my document (it was supposed to make things easier!), I finally finished the cello manual layout and proofing today.

It’s been a really fun six weeks, taking a text document and doing a basic layout, then a copyedit, then the endless tweaking that happens when two people trade a document back and forth once a week for a while. Some of that tweaking was to condense the layout; some fixed things that became problematic; some involved adding material; some fixed errors that popped up thanks to the document format. Still, six weeks from plain text to a finished PDF ready for printing is a really good timeline for two busy people. (I come from a publishing world where three to six months for all this is the norm!) I’m crossing my fingers that there aren’t any problems with the printing process. (That’s what all the PDF and font-embedding strife was about. It was a whole thing.)

And today, apart from finishing the book PDF, I managed to wipe myself out having a shower, scrubbing the bathroom, doing yoga, and wet-finished 133 yards of spun thick and thing Coopworth single. (Only 133 yards? I am so cranky about this. It was so interminable that I’m sure there ought to be more. It weighs 6 oz, for heaven’s sake.) The fibro is really in my bad books these days. It would help if it gave me some sort of warning sign instead of just handing me a tonne of fatigue and pain all at once when everything seems to be going well. The boy’s monthly update is still late, of course, because I need time to think about it and find pictures and fit it all in between paying work and recovery time from the fibro hitting me when I’m down.

I have a freelance project due on Friday that I really wanted done earlier this week, but PDFs and fibro are messing that up. I have orchestra tonight, and I fully expect to perform horribly despite practising this week. It occurred to me that I might discuss dropping orchestra with my teacher. Or taking a break. It’s been a really tough winter for me in a lot of ways, and orchestra’s getting trounced in my priority list. I love this new conductor, and I love the music, but I just can’t handle it capably. I know the rest of the section feels the same way, though, so I suspect I’m overreacting in a maudlin self-defeatist fashion borne of fatigue. Still; I really don’t want to drop it, but I feel so stressed about it that I don’t know if the tradeoff is worth it.

Time for winter to be over, I think. The cold and damp is really bothering the fibro.

Weekend Roundup

Saturday afternoon was our monthly Random Colour crafting meeting, sans Phnee, alas, as the RCMP rearranged her work schedule thanks to the Olympics. HRH and the boy visited with Scott while Ceri and I headed out to Vaudreuil, and the boy packed every single one of this Star Wars toys for the occasion (including the new TIE fighter from MLG’s stash o’ Star Wars toys we have squirrelled away in the basement to produce at various intervals.) At our monthly crafting meet we all got to show off what we’ve been doing lately, which is always fun, and Karine made me a lovely illusion necklace the likes of which I have been coveting for over a year. While there I spun a bunch more of the neppy, snaggly Coopworth; I just want it gone.

I took Ceri home and we enjoyed some light pre-dinner entertainment as provided by the boy, who directed us in making various animal noises from the next room, saying, “Cut, cut, cut” with great sorrow when we did it wrong. We spent a good hour laughing ourselves silly; it was so much fun. Dinner was an incredibly delicious slow-cooked ham done with brown sugar, accompanied by mashed potatoes, and instead of choosing one or two vegetables to cook there was a raw veggie platter with dip to go with it all, which was a fabulous idea. We grazed before dinner and feasted once sitting down on carrots, peppers, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and broccoli. To which the boy exclaimed, “Mmm, broccoli, I love broccoli!” but then handed me his pieces quietly after biting into one, saying, “I forgot, I don’t like broccoli.” He loved the look of the cherry tomatoes but once again didn’t like them when he tasted them.

Sunday morning we went out to the bookstore. This was supposed to be a Mama+boy trip, but Mama was pretty wiped from a heavy work week and a bad fibro week on top of that, so HRH came along to drive and offer moral support. The boy had a Valentine gift certificate from his Nana to spend, and he chose a train and a book. Then we meandered over to the pet shop to look at the animals, and after that the boy and I directed HRH to a little shop in Dorval where we bought his birthday present, a tuner for his bass (because he was borrowing my tuner, and that was just going to end in tears someday when it got lost or left behind or broken). We had a slightly late lunch and the boy resisted a nap, falling asleep late and waking up earlier than he needed, which meant he was all out of sorts when we sat down to make a Valentine for his local grandparents. We finally got it done, and the boy sad he wanted more rest, so we compromised by taking a quiet movie to his grandparents’ house.

HRH’s birthday dinner was ribs from the Bar-B-Barn, followed by an almond chocolate cake. The boy decided that we had to hide under or behind the table and jump out saying “Surprise!” when HRH came back into the kitchen for dessert, which was terribly amusing.

A very full weekend, although it doesn’t seem like it when typed out.

Fleece Artist Final Skein

My lovely, lovely yarn, let me show you it:

128 yards
heavy lace/light fingering weight
Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester fibre

(Go on, click View Image to see it in all its lovely, even beauty. And now that it’s all spun and plied, I am fairly certain that it is the Red Fox colourway, which amuses me terribly.)

HRH and I are in love with this colourway. I’m going to keep my eyes open for more, because four ounces doesn’t get you far if you want to actually knit something.

Friday Fibre Photo

Yesterday after I’d returned a project to a client, I sat down to spin. I left the cotton in my spinning basket to consider the error of its ways and pulled out a 50 gram bump of Fleece Artist fibre BFL instead. Despite having five braids of Fleece Artist roving, I have never actually spun any, so this was an experiment as well as a soothing of the injured spinning soul.

Just ignore the uneven bobbin; that’s what happens when you spin and try to watch Castle at the same time. You forget to move hooks regularly, even when your usual practice is to move a hook every time you pick up a new piece of fibre. (Speaking of which — Castle, not spinning — I want a shirt that says, “I’m just saying whoever killed her also murdered the English language.”)

It’s lovely to spin, nice and soft, but then, it’s BFL and I would expect nothing less. And the colours are just lovely; the golden ochre sets off the plum and the lavender beautifully. HRH kept looking over and saying, “I really like those colours.” Fleece Artist doesn’t identify colourways on their skeins and fibre because they’re aren’t perfectly repeatable; there’s no dyelot or colour code or anything on the tag, so I’m not certain of the name for this. It could be Red Fox, or it could be Sugar Plum. (I think the braids I bought in Mahone Bay are Mahogany and Ireland or Hemlock, but who knows? The colours are just pretty.)

This is only half the bump; I’ll spin up the other ounce today, and then chain-ply them to preserve the colour changes. I’m alternating which end I spin of the stripped roving, because the brown is comparatively short as compared to the purple ombre, so I’m putting brown ends together to make a longer brown stretch in the single.

(For future reference: I split the roving into two equal one-ounce halves, then split each half lengthwise into about eight or ten strips. Each strip was predrafted, and spun on the middle ratio with a semi-woollen longish draw, brake band completely off.)

ETA: And now having spun up half of the second half I’m seeing a problem. On the next braid of Fleece Artist I’m going to split the whole thing down the middle lengthwise and not break it into halves, because the first ounce shown above is now covered by the second ounce, which is a different set of colours (the burgundy/deep violet), and when I ply it the first half of the skein will be the burgundy/plum, and the second half the gold/lavender. The pooling will be kind of yucky in a knitted object. Not well planned on my part. Live and learn.

The Loneliest Astromech…

… now has a name: A-6.

And our Loneliest Astromech has been enrolled in kindergarten (yay!) in a lovely school (yay!) that has FOUR kindergarten classes, two English and two French. That’s a healthy school (yay!). Now we get to wait for his invitation to the incoming kindergarten Teddy Bear Picnic in May, and for the certificate of eligibility for instruction in English to arrive. And as we’re not going to have a local address by the end of May, we’re going to need an inter-school board agreement form signed by our local board and the board whose area in which we’re registering. These are apparently not a problem. So that’s all taken care of. And HRH and I went out to breakfast together before the registration appointment, and spent some time driving around the area scoping out houses for sale.

The past few days have been moderately insane work-wise. I had a deadline at noon on Monday, followed by an invoicing deadline (hurrah for projects that are approved almost instantaneously), and the first draft of an op ed article. Tuesday was the school stuff in the morning, and work on the cello manual in the afternoon. Wednesday was struggling with the last obstacles of the cello manual (in which I triumphed over not only Word but Open Office), sending it in PDF to the client for proofing, and then doing the rewrite on the op ed article and submitting it on deadline. Today I have an easier copyediting project and deadline, and the edits for the now-proofread cello manual.

The week’s been hard because it started off so well, but went downhill fibro-wise. Yesterday saw me battling fatigue almost from the start; I exhausted myself in the shower trying to wash my hair (who knew holding one’s arms up over one’s head took that much energy?). I ended up cancelling my attendance at orchestra when I realised that I was shivering uncontrollably from the fatigue, and cancelled today’s practice date as well to give myself plenty of time to recover.

The experimental spinning of cotton is continuing apace, and it’s continuing to be frustrating. Every time I think I’ve figured out how it wants to be spun, something goes wrong. I’m snapping the stuff on the bobbin somehow, probably because the single isn’t perfectly even and the twist is collecting in the thinner spots, but when it happens I can’t reconnect it without making a knot, and it snaps somewhere else, so I end up throwing away metre-long lengths of yarn. It also takes for-freaking-ever to spin, which is frustrating; after a couple of hours I don’t have very much to show for it. I resorted to just splitting the roving in half lengthwise and spinning very chunky singles to accomplish something.

Right. To work, fibro fog be damned.

Fifty-Six Months Old!

There aren’t many photos this month. That’s part of what took so long; I couldn’t find pictures to accompany the post. I cheated and used some from just after the eleventh of the month.

There are some delicious phrases popping up in the boy’s conversations. The most recent one that slayed both HRH and I was, “Are you crazying me?” Another favourite exchange of mine happened at dinner, and went thusly:

    MAMA: So, what did you do at school today?

    SPARKY: I can’t tell you.

    HRH: …or I’d have to kill you.

    MAMA: He evidently goes to a ninja super-spy preschool.

The naps are down to every two days, and the days without naps are becoming more secure and less fraught with overwroughtness around dinner. It’s really quite a relief to know that if we miss a nap on the weekend it finally isn’t the end of the world; we can actually schedule or participate in activities that happen between noon and four now, like the rest of the world.

Bread and Jam for Frances is his new favourite book, slipping in under the wire this month. He was very interested in The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body book, which we took out of the library when he was home sick for a week. And he’s being very sneaky and not letting us know he’s reading; it only slips once in a while when he says things like, “Can we play the hide and seek game?” while pointing to an online icon with those words that he’s never seen before.

It’s been very Star Wars-y here. Apart from the action figures and spaceships he’s been focusing on, he and HRH have been co-playing through Lego Star Wars: The Original Trilogy on the Xbox, and I’m very impressed with how quickly he’s picked up buttons and combos to move around and do certain actions. (I still have to look at the buttons in order to know which ones to press; he doesn’t.) Then again, sometimes he just likes to play Artoo and fly around in circles while HRH struggles to hold off a horde of Lego stormtroopers on his own. His building with toys like Lego and Knex is getting more elaborate and imaginative, too. I love watching how intricate his playtime gets. He narrates complex stories about Jedis, Transformers, spaceships, cars, and trains, and a lot of it is internally consistent. And finally, on the toy front, Blackie is beginning to stay at home more often. He stills joins the boy for the occasional car trip to school or out on the weekend, but he gets left in the car.

The biggest problem these days is getting dressed in the morning. Like me he seems to need a lot of time to settle into the day, and getting him to have breakfast then get dressed before using whatever time is left to play is frustrating for everyone. It’s specifically the getting dressed part that stalls out, because he wants to play right after eating. I’m considering getting a timer from the dollar store and setting it to give him an independent marker to show when a certain time period set aside for an activity is up, because he seems to tune out HRH and I telling him he’s only got X minutes to do something. It’s worse when he’s sick or headachey, of course, but there’s still a bit of dawdling on a regular basis. Sometimes we can turn it into game or a race to see who gets dressed first, but we don’t always have the energy for that.

When he and HRH get into the car to go to school I wave, and when they pull out of the driveway they pause and wave again before the car pulls away. Lately, the boy has had his nose stuck in a book, and has waved without looking out the window at me to watch me wave back. He’s such an individual, and it’s so much fun to watch him grow.

The Woes of Preschool

This morning, the boy refused to answer to any name but ‘Artoo’, and communicated only in whistles and beeps. It was frustrating, but also adorably geeky. And I do freely admit that I bear significant responsibility for his Star Wars obsession.

When he came home, he nearly broke my heart.

    MAMA: Hey, how was school today? Did you have fun?

    SPARKY: [dejectedly] No. Artoo did not have fun at all today.

    MAMA: You didn’t? Why not?

    SPARKY: [genuinely disconsolate] Because Princess Leia wasn’t there to put the secret plans in Artoo on the ship.

    MAMA: Oh!

    DADA: You know who —

    MAMA: Yes, I know who Princess Leia is. [His very best friend at school has gone away on a week-long vacation, to a place where there is a zoo. She gave him an early Valentine because she was going to miss their party. They’re inseparable, and I know this week is going to be very hard for him.]

    SPARKY: Princess Leia has to put the plans in Artoo, but she wasn’t there, and Artoo was very sad. Mama, will you be Princess Leia?

There’s nothing like not having your best friend there to play Star Wars with you when you need her to. I don’t know if his friend is even familiar with Star Wars, but I’m sure the boy’s enthusiastic explanation would have been both inspiring and entertaining.

And yes, I played Princess Leia for him. And then Threepio, coming along and asking “Secret mission? What plans?”, which amused him to no end.