Monday, July 31, 2006

An absence that means good news

I know I have not blogged very much lately. I've been extremely busy for several weeks now, trying desperately to stay afloat of the work load. Soon my "summer rush" will be over, for which I will be very glad: I've had almost no personal time, and not much more sleep, for so long that sleeping seven hours last night felt like a vacation - and spending a brief amount of time on personal pastimes this weekend felt like a sin.

However, I am happy to say that all my hard work has not been wasted. Even though last month I'd set an astonishing new record with the month's income, I set a new record again this month! I've come a long way since I first started freelancing full time. Whereas back then I desperately needed the babysitting and other work I did on the "side" to supplement my measely freelance income, I now earn the vast majority of my income via freelancing. Almost without realizing it (because I have been too busy to reflect upon it), I have achieved what I wished for back then: to have enough freelance work that I could spend my time writing, instead of babysitting, running errands, and doing "projects" for the families I work for.

Unfortunately, my "summer rush" is not over yet. I have at least several more days of little sleep or socializing. However, once I am fully caught up, I intend to take several days off - to make up for the fact that I've worked through the past three weekends. I also intend to get 10 hours of sleep each night, ride my bike again, and spend some time reading a good book (that I don't have to review).

I've already noticed that freelance work tends to come in waves: sometimes you have lots of it, and other times you spend most of your time looking for it. This is my first summer as a freelancer, but it appears that what I've heard is true: freelance work is most abundant during the summer. Although I am grateful for the work - and the income - that I've had this summer, I will be very glad when the rush is over and I can go back to a somewhat normal living pace.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It's official!

Even though we're starting to plan our wedding, until now Michael and I have been explaining our engagement as "unofficial." We had a joke, when we bought this house, that the house was in lieu of a ring. However, I'm pleased to say that the engagement is now official - there is a ring involved! :o)

Since I don't think very highly of modern jewelry - "cookie cutter jewelry" I call it, since it all looks the same - I hunted down this vintage set online. The engagement ring has a matching wedding band, and should be pretty easy to find a match for in a men's ring.

Even though we've been talking about getting married for months now... even though we've already started planning the wedding... and even though we'd made the decision to get the ring set together... Michael still got down on one knee and proposed this evening. It was surprisingly emotional, considering the fact that it was hardly a surprise. The funny part: he proposed with the wrong ring, the wedding band! He'll probably be embarrassed when he finds out I told the world, but it was incredibly endearing.

I can't begin to describe how happy and lucky I feel, so I'll let you use your imagination.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Kathy's animal rescue

We had an exciting night last night! Michael and I had just gotten home from walking the dog and shopping. I was inside, and suddenly Michael brought the dog inside and grabbed a flashlight, saying, "There's a creature out there." I followed, expecting to see a skunk or a raccoon, or something equally large.

Instead, there was this tiny creature huddled by the side of the house, with the shack neighbors' cat on the other side of the fence. Michael told me that the cat had had the creature, but had hopped the fence when our dog came to investigate. Michael shone the flashlight on the creature, and we stood there and stared at it while it sat there and stared at us.

Michael was saying it was a rat, but on some level I knew that wasn't right. Despite his attempts to hold me back (he was trying to protect me because he's afraid of rats!), I grabbed the flashlight and took a closer look. "It's a hamster!" I announced. I sent him inside to get something for me to catch the hamster in, while the cat circled restlessly, wanting to get another chance at her prey, no doubt. In the end, though, I caught the hamster in my hands.

It was quickly obvious that the hamster was quite friendly, and quite grateful to be safe. There's no chance it was loose for long - it's too sweet to survive long on its own, I think. We went to my parents' house to retrieve the cage my dad made for my gerbil more than ten years ago, as well as some food to keep us until we had a chance to go to the pet store. We named the hamster Manny, short for Manfred - like the mammoth in Ice Age.

Manny has a gimpy back leg - the foot is curled in on itself and to the side, so that Manny stands on the side of the leg, and not the bottom. At first we wondered if it were a deformed leg or from a previous injury, but since Manny has gotten better at walking on it the more time has passed, I think it was inflicted by the cat. There was only a little bit of blood, and I'm afraid the foot is broken - probably crushed by the cat's jaws. We're going to take him in to a local low-cost vet clinic tomorrow - I doubt they'll be able to do much, but I hope they can at least tell me something about how to care for his injury.

We've debated on how this helpless little hamster came to be in our backyard. We suspect he's another folly of the "shack" neighbors - like the bunny they lost upon moving in, or the puppy they fought about ownership over with a friend (so I've heard, anyway). Michael termed it their "Pet of the Week," and I think it's an apt assessment. In any case, we are not returning Manny to them.

Thank goodness we came along in time to save Manny. He really is a sweetheart, one of the most good-natured rodents I've had - and I've had quite a few. He's also very pretty - a lovely rust color, with a dark brown undercoat. The cats haven't seemed to notice or care much that their home is now shared with a rodent, but the dog is very interested in Manny. To Manny's credit, even after his encounter with a cat, he doesn't seem phased by either the cats or the dog - I've introduced him to both, and he just sniffs noses with them. I'm not sure if it's courage or stupidity, but he seems virtually fearless.

Anyway, I hope the vet will have some good news for us tomorrow!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Michael's sick day

I awoke this morning to Michael coming home from work, after being there for only a couple of hours. After arriving at work, he'd started feeling really sick, and decided to come home. He's been in bed ever since.

My day has been rather uneventful, despite that. I've been working slowly but steadily, interrupted from time to time by caring for Michael or running errands.

Michael has a doctor's appointment in the morning, which we'll cancel if he's feeling better by then (although that seems unlikely).

Although Michael's demands on my time haven't been too great - particularly because he's been sleeping so much - I find it interesting how much this affects my work. At the very least, it's harder to concentrate, and I haven't gotten as much done yet as I should have. On the bright side, though, I'll be able to continue working into the evening.

The other way that this is shaking up my schedule is with that early-morning doctor's appointment: I'll need to decide between staying up late to work and getting considerably less sleep than I'm used to, going to bed early and sacrificing some work for a better night's rest, or pulling an all-nighter.

Ah, the bittersweet struggles of my dream career...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A vacation, the in-laws-to-be, and my beautiful colt

Michael and I just got back from a visit with his family. It was an exciting visit.

I got to spend a lot of time with my horse, Panama, who Michael surprised me with after we were unable to save his pregnant mother. He'd been pretty skitish around people last time I'd seen him - most likely because it was the first human contact he'd ever had - so I was worried that our short visit wouldn't be long enough to get to know him. However, apparently the past month has been enough to acclimate Panama to human contact, because he and I hit it off just fine.

I spent several days getting to know my horse - watching him graze, feeding him, seeing him yawn (which looks really funny!), brushing him, and talking to him. He has a wild streak in him still, which offsets his sweet personality perfectly. Sometimes, when I kiss his nose, he'll toss his head and butt his nose against my face, like he's trying to return the kiss.

Panama seems to have grown a lot just in the last month. He may very well be the age that his original owner said - 11 months then, so about a year now - and had just suffered stunted growth because he was malnourished. The way he's growing now, though, he seems to be making a healthy comeback.

The one scare I had was on Tuesday evening, the 4th. I wanted to brush Panama before the fireworks started in earnest, since it would likely be my last chance before we left. I led him out of the pasture to the hitching post, tied him up, and brushed him down. He held pretty still for the brushing - unlike the first time, when he fidgeted a lot - but combing his tail made him a little nervous. I wanted to give him a treat once I finished with his tail, so I walked over to a table fifteen feet away to get the treats.

When I turned around, Panama was standing loose, head high and mane flying. He looked spooked, or wild. Before I could catch him, he took off running. I watched him disappear beyond the neighbor's house, thinking he was gone - I'd lost my horse - and feeling completely helpless.

He came back around, though, and was obviously trying to get into the pasture. By this time my in-laws-to-be were trying to help catch him. He ran right through the neighbor's fence (there's no one living there now, and the wire on the fence was tied loosely, thank goodness). He acted like he was about to jump the fence into his own pasture, but we were able to catch him then by offering him his dinner.

Panama was still spooked, but we were able to hold him still while we checked his wounds. He had two old wounds - one from the same trailer ride that resulted in his mother's death, and another that happened more recently when he ran into a post in the pasture - and both had opened up a little. We cleaned them out, soothed him as much as we could, and then I led him back to the pasture. I checked on him later that night and the next morning before we left, and he seemed to be doing fine.

It was a horrifying experience - to think I'd lost my horse - but everyone assured me it wasn't my fault, that things like that happen.

With exception of that frightening experience, spending time with my horse was heavenly. Michael and I are seriously considering picking up and moving out there. We both love the small town and country atmosphere; he'd be close to his family, our kids could grow up with their cousins, and I'd be able to train and spend time with Panama.

It really would be the perfect place for a writer - even more so than the beautiful house we have now.


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