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I opened a short email to a friend this way, a few days ago:

No time to chat, ::frown::

In my head for the last few days I've been composing a letter to all the people around me whom I owe time (letters, list, chapters, phone calls, books, journal entries, graduation gifts, visits, etc.) to, saying basically, "I love you, I haven't forgotten you, I'm busy, I'm physically iffy, etc."  In much more detailed, soothing language.  But I haven't actually had time to write it.  You're on the list of recipients.  Maybe I should hire you to write it. ;-)
 
She didn't take me up on the hint.  I was only half joking.  Half of me was in there going, "Please, please, somebody writing me a good excuse note!"  There's either something seriously wrong with me or I'm very seriously over-committed.  Definitely the second.  Maybe both.
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Well, the great violin string tragedy might not have been a tragedy to anyone else, merely an annoying incident.  But around here, things have a way of taking on dimensions that just . . .

I don't know if I've told you that much about my younger son, Thomas.  He's Autistic.  Nowadays they call it Asperger's, but back when he was diagnosed, there was no such thing.  He's very high-functioning, and high IQ –which helps him intellectually compensate for things that come automatic to most people, and almost 80% of the time "passes" for neurotypical. He's one of the main reasons I ended up pulling the boys out of public school (another long and involved adventure that including me in the elementary school office snarling, "Give me my children! I can do this badly by my self!) and homeschooling for the next 12 years. Anyway with all those years of one-on-one and plenty of time to teach and practice real life skills (since he wasn't sitting in a school all day) he has just blossomed.  He looks so NT sometimes that it's just easy to forget he's not.

So, his A string has drifted off in such a way that it was making an unpleasant sound.  It could be tuned to "A" but was just off, in someway that Thomas couldn't quite make me understand.  I could tell that it was louder and brighter than the rest of the strings, and just didn't seem to fit in.  After several conversations, he made me understand that for him, this was a serious problem.  It made it painful to play the violin, in a NOT metaphorical way.  As with most autistics, his sensory input system just works differently from ours.  I told him to consult with his teacher.  He did, I was there, (I don't normally go any more, but I knew this to be a "new" situation for Thomas, and he'd have trouble breaking into the regular flow of the lesson to ask.  So I'm there to say, "Thomas has a question about his A string.") he got a long lecture on strings, their history, their makeup, etc., and in the end the pronouncement they were basically a personal choice, and also depended on the violin.  The same string can sound different on two different violins.  You can make sweeping generalizations about certain brands being generally "brighter" or more mellow, etc, but really, it's trial and error until you find the ones you like best.  No help, at all.

After the lesson we go downstairs to the Fret Shop and try to get a young man to help us, whose first piece of advice was, "you really need to get Phil (aforementioned teacher) to help."  Then we get more theory, and the guy plucks on the strings, notes that the A is louder, figures out what brand it is, tells Thomas that that is generally the most mellow brand and any other might make it harsher, finds out that the strings are almost a year old, tells us most serious string players replace their strings every 3-4 months, and we should tell Phil how old the strings are and get more advice from him, and come back later, since Phil's in another lesson. Another guy agrees with him. 

Finally I gave up.  I'd never had a shop try so hard to NOT sell me something.  So I say to Thomas, "Let's talk to Phil again at the Sunday rehearsal," and we leave.  We're driving and talking, and Thomas is trying to impress upon me just how painful it is, and I finally realize he's telling me he won't use the violin in the condition it's in.  It's that painful.  (And that changing back to the old violin this close to the Christmas concert was equivalent to changing all the music, because everything would sound different . . . You get used to having these sorts of discussions if you live with an autistic person with extraordinary hearing, for 20 years.)

So I just turn the car around and go back in and tell the boy (and now the manager's involved, because we're there a lot, and good customers —two violins, not counting the rental, and related stuff so far) that there must be string buying, today.  Luckily for us, Phil has walked down with his 2 students (yes it's an hour later) and the boy and I tell him the situation.  Phil, bless him, understands Thomas and the problem (that Thomas can't make the decision and I don't know enough to pick a string, and that the guys in the shop, who have heard Thomas play, and talked with him enough, especially by this time in this episode, to know how serious a musician Thomas is, and how sensitive his hearing is and are afraid to be the one to make the wrong decision on a string).  He asks Thomas more questions about the strings he already has, and what brands they are (the D&G are one brand, the A was another brand, and the E was yet another.)  told him to just try replacing the A with the same brand as the D & G.  And agreed with Thomas that the E string could also use replacing, but with the same brand, because E strings are the easiest to go wrong with, and the most unpleasant when you do.  Whew.

I don't know about you, but I now know more than enough about strings, and their brands, and qualities. 

Just to add it all up, it's an hour or so at home talking about the problem and establishing that he needs a string and help with the social interaction parts of getting one. It's 30 minutes into Huntsville to the Fret Shop, 30 minute lesson, an extra hour in the store, and 30 minutes to drive home.  Three and a half hours that I normally would have been at home, probably wasting my time on the internets.

Doggy Day

Jun. 6th, 2009 01:17 pm
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Yes, I just spent 2 hours and $400 at the vet this morning.  I hate walk in clinic, but this is how they punish flakes (like me) who miss their scheduled appointments. 

Katy has to go back Monday and have  a lump under her arm aspirated.  Probably fatty cyst, but just close enough to lymph glands that we need to be sure.  We tried to do it in the office today, but she was very sensitive about it.  Another reason to be at least slightly alarmed.  Of course, since she'll be under, they can go ahead and clean her teeth and cut her nails really good.  Other than the cyst, she's great, maybe 5-10 pounds overweight, out of the 111lbs.  But perky, good heart and lungs, bright eyes, shiny coat, negative on the heartworms.

Rusty is quite well, thank you, and beautiful teeth.  Same all round perky and shiny as Katy; he might also lose a pound or two.

ETA:  Katy's lump is in fact a fatty cyst.  nothing to worry about.
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Numbers and time!
Hope I can get help quickly.  I'm trying to Beta a story with a bunch of time references.  She wants to write everything in numbers, which seems okay, (Seven forty-five, etc.) until you get to "Nine ten."   Here are the rules I've found so far.
Normally, spell out the time of day in text even with half and quarter hours. With o'clock, the number is always spelled out.
  Examples: She gets up at four thirty before the baby wakes up.
The baby wakes up at five o'clock in the morning.

Rule 13. Use numerals with the time of day when exact times are being emphasized or when using A.M. or P.M.
  Examples:

Monib's flight leaves at 6:22 A.M.
Please arrive by 12:30 sharp.

She had a 7:00 P.M. deadline.


and she is emphasizing how slowly time is passing, and watching the clock.  So, I'm thinking, "9:10," except that The OWL says to stay consistent within passages. But. ?
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Sigh, So much fanfic, so little time.  And then there's that stack of books on the floor in front of the bookshelf, staring accusingly at me, demanding to know why they haven't been read yet.
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What time is it?

                      Now!    Now!    Now!
      

My bud, T

Feb. 5th, 2009 10:06 pm
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Today I got to spend time with Thomas. 

After we met Bethany at the mall and gave her Shelby to take out to the horse barn, we went to Lowe's to look for a Kerosene heater for Mat and Rhiannon  No luck, but we spent two hours there anyway, touching the marble and tile and granite and looking at carpet possibilities. 

It was just fun to spend some TsO & SO time, with no one else breathing down our necks.  I don't have to keep explaining Thomas's sarcastic remarks to Shelby, and I don't have to feel guilty talking at my and Thomas's natural comprehension level.  It was a nice little interlude.  Shelby's adorable, but so are toddlers, and you don't want them around all the time either.
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Everything comes gradually and at its appointed hour.
 Ovid
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Your time of day has a split personality -- sometimes it's sweat-streaked and loud, and you're on the dance floor, getting your third wind, and shouting lyrics like you'll never run out of energy. You are the time of night that carves itself into your memory forever, because you'll never forget how much you love these people and this moment and this song. It's not always about unforgettable parties, though. Sometimes your late night (err… early morning) burst of energy happens when you're home alone. Those are the times when you say, "I flat out refuse to go to sleep until I finish reading this book, or typing this page, or reorganizing my entire closet." In either case, you are the time of night when it feels sort of forbidden to be awake, but you love accomplishing something special long after everyone else went to bed. And hey -- you can always catch up on sleep tomorrow, right?

10% of the people who took this quiz got the same evaluation.
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Okay, I'm dreading tomorrow.  It's going to be one of those hellatiously busy days where I have no time to think hardly, and I prove that I have no life of my own.

I get up two hours earlier than I like  --7am--  to drive 40mins to take Thomas to Calculus (9-10:40) .  Sit in the Lobby of the Math & Science Bldg (no wifi) and wait.  Maybe get a little paperwork done.  Drive home, usually there by 11:15. Eat lunch. Teach Thomas & do housework.  Take Thomas to the school for band practice 4-5:00.  Drop Thomas at home, drive into town (40mins) to be at the Autism Society by 6.  I wish it wasn't so traumatic for him to drive.  But anyway, I'm just whiny tonight.

But Friday I can sleep late, I just have to make Thomas study and practice violin, and don't have to go anywhere until the Asperger's moms' meeting for supper.

Saturday, again with the getting up early, to get into town by 8, for an SCA event.  Thomas's teacher and some other students are playing Medieval music during the feast (wearing Medieval Garb).  We're going early so Thomas can go to an arrow-making class.  I've got to take a camera.
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Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.
Rodin
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Nine-tenths of the people were created so you would want to be with the other tenth.
Horace Walpole
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"That's another problem for another day," the Golux said. "Time is for dragonflies and angels. The former live too little and the latter live too long."
--The 13 Clocks, James Thurber
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"We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery." — H.G. Wells

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