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√ Responsible Pet Owner (Caution: Rant )

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

One dog, three cats and $400 later, everyone is up to date on her shots, exams, worming, weighing and all that good stuff. We are now immune to everything, from rabies to other things too gruesome to mention.

But what I would like to mention is that mother cat and 4 kittens living under my deck and in my barn. These kittens are about eight, maybe ten weeks old and mom obviously has another batch in the oven. In a year and a half, mother cat has let me get from 1/8 mile down to about a yard away from her, but she warns the kittens off whenever she sees me, and they run like their little tails were on fire, so the chance of catching them, other than using big Havahearts, is slim.

Even if I could round up all five, and opted to neglect neutering the boys - a female in heat will always find a tomcat somewhere - say I just need to spay the mother and two daughters (2 out of four kittens might be girls - or they all could) - that's going to be another $400, (or, worst case scenario of four daughters, morel like $700) and more if the vet has to deal with abortion as well (just because it's a more complicated surgery.) After they all recovered from their surgeries, I'd have to let them go back to the barn, because a) that's their home and b) they all hate me, despite the fact that Ive been feeding the barn cat population for years. Spaying the girls, at least, is the right thing to do - it's also a mortgage payment worth of spaying cats that aren't even tame enough to pet, let alone love.

I live in an area that has summer visitors, and the number of cats wandering around my barns at the end of summer always jumps. People on holiday apparently get kittens for the kids as a summer toy, then just leave them, assuming they'll be fine. I have news for them: they'll be some coyote/weasel/fox/hawk/owl/dog's breakfast, or they'll be hit by a car, or they'll starve, and that's the sad truth. If parent's want their children to experience "the miracle of birth", let them rent a video; don't bring more kittens into the world than you are willing to be responsible for. Don't adopt a cat (or dog) you aren't willing to care for for fifteen or so years.

I don't know, yet, what I'm going to do about the mother cat and the four kittens, or the next batch that is clearly nearly ready to be born. I know I can't single-handedly deal with every cat (or dog, although not as often) that turns up in my barn, under my deck, or on my doorstep. I don't want to sound like Bob Barker, necessarily, but:


PS: I should add that I feed the cats that show up in the barn, not because I'm a soft touch or feel responsible, but because barn cats are hugely useful in keeping down the pigeons and barn swallows that otherwise make our barns dangerous (pigeon droppings) or unpleasant (being literally attacked by barn swallows.)

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MORTICIAADDAMS 11/11/2011 10:44PM

    We are definitely related. I have this rant several times a year until I am practically foaming at the mouth. The problem is irresponsible pet owners. Once when I griped to the neighbors about their 23 dogs running lose and asked him what he was going to do with them he said, "Dogs f----! What do you expect me to do about it?' It's a shame there is no open season on irresponsible pet owners.

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TRULYVISIBLE 11/9/2011 1:28PM

  I agree with you that you can't take on the expense of neutering every stray on your property. In my area we have a program called spay and release. For free, sponsored by donations, they spay and neuter feral cats and release them back at their original place where they found them if people were not complaining they didn't want them around. If people did not want them on their property they have cat colonies in the area where they release them. They don't tell you where they are as they don't want unwanted pets left there.

I had a neighbor that moved and left her cat thinking it would know what to do on it's own outside. Crazy thinking. Luckily a neighbor took it in.

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SPAYYOURCAT 11/9/2011 12:48AM

    Spaying and neutering them doesn't have to be expensive and you will have healthier, happier barns cats. They will also be less likely to become coyote candy as they will no longer need to roam in search of a mate. There well may be a non-profit feral group in your area that will loan you traps for free and may provide (or know who can)-low cost services. Email me in private from my Spark page and I can try to find one for you.

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    WWBBD? What would Bob Barker Do?

Spay, neuter, and until animal shelters are empty, don't be breeding or buying designer-bred pets.

Seriously people.

(edited because I can't spell my way out of a wet paper sack)

Comment edited on: 11/8/2011 5:32:39 PM

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SCOOTER4263 11/8/2011 5:14PM

    Something to consider about feral cats, too, is that they are largely miserable indoors, in a forced community of humans, other cats, maybe dogs. They aren't meant to be pets, and while I'm all for cutting down on the feral population, I don't want to give them a life in which they'll likely die of stress and general misery. Being some other creature's lunch is not only quick, it's the way Nature works.

Comment edited on: 11/8/2011 5:31:54 PM

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BETHGILLIGAN 11/8/2011 5:05PM

    I totally agree!!! Spay or neuter and kittens and puppies are not toys. We have 2 rescue beagles, my son has one rescue beagle, and my daughter has 2 rescue beagles. Argghhh!!!

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A_NEW_JAN 11/8/2011 4:57PM

    Well said!
I would look into finding a humane society or other local group that might be able to help you defer the involved costs, but if the ferel cats cannot be caught, unfortunately the is little you can do.

Bless you for doing what you can.

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JANEDOE12345 11/8/2011 4:20PM

    Feral is not on you. It is sad but necessary that coyotes and bobcats prey on feral pets.

PS Mary Elizabeth Betsy is getting spayed Saturday for $77 with shots & worming if needed. There is a vet van that does this as a community service and since my usual vet wanted like $250 -- I am happy about the price. Too bad they won't travel out your way. Remember, it's not on you to spay or neuter the poor creatures that are wild, so I hope you are not stressing over it.

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SUZYMOBILE 11/8/2011 4:05PM

    The expense of Have-a-Hearting and neutering all of them is mind-boggling and NOT your responsiblity. Our old neighborhood--an over-55 park where all the little old ladies felt it was cruel not to feed stray cats--had so many feral cats that some local organization (maybe the NHSPCA, I'm not sure) took it upon themselves to set traps and try to round up as many of the beasts as they could, for spaying, neutering, and shots.

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Progress...of a sorts.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Still fiercely behind on my daily word totals for NaNoWriMo.

- i ate three actual meals today (still seems like an awful lot of cooking and cleaning up for one person.
- I met both my step (a modest 5000, but it means something if you've been sofa-bound for a year) AND my moderate activity goals today - plus found a weather balloon when walking the dog, which was a) one of my "other" goals (walking the dog, not finding weather balloons) and b) totally cool.
- I paid a pile of bills, which, to my way of thinking, let me off the hook for a bunch of other useful stuff. Plus, yesterday I was stung by a wasp when cleaning, so obviously that's too dangerous a task to be undertaken. >_>
- I made vet appointments for all the indoor critters, so I feel like a Responsible Pet Owner.

Not so bad for a total slacker. :)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MORTICIAADDAMS 11/11/2011 10:35PM

    Show off! emoticon

Darn. I'm going to have to get busy now. I don't think I want to clean and get stung but I would like to find a weather balloon.

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AWESOMECAROL55 11/8/2011 6:48AM

    That is great progress and a great Monday!! Keep it up!!Good for you being a responsible pet owner..We LOVE our pets!!


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PENNYAN45 11/7/2011 11:06PM

    I think that wasp sting was a definite omen. You should lay off cleaning - at least for the time being.
More walking... More writing...

emoticon emoticon

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EMRANA 11/7/2011 9:00PM

  I'm with you about the three meals thing. I thought it was a lot of trouble too, so I used to batch cook to avoid constant kitchen messes.

You made a lot of good progress in that entry ~ and I know that the NaNo thing is fun, but ultimately, if you get a good quality start on a novel, then that's better than finishing something that's less than your best. You'll get there!


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PUDLECRAZY 11/7/2011 8:58PM

    Sounds like you accomplished a lot! And the fur kids are happy.

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_UMAMI_ 11/7/2011 8:58PM

    I would love to find a whether balloon.
Or a "whither?" balloon---that would be cool, too. Especially one that is still inflated.

You sound positive. I even envy your dogs, and I'm a Cat People.

But cats aren't much good for walking and I'm a Walker.

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BETHGILLIGAN 11/7/2011 8:41PM

    I think it sounds like you had a wonderful day!! Cool about the weather balloon!!

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SUZYMOBILE 11/7/2011 8:08PM

    And one of the wonderful side benefits of taking a walk is running across things that surprise and amaze, like your weather balloon. That's part of what keeps me going out twice a day. There's the parrot out on his patio along my route, whom I've been trying to teach "The Stars and Stripes Forever," and he's making progress at it. At least I think he is. He's been whistling something other than the usual wolf-whistle and "Pop Goes the Weasel"--a garbled something that just might be what I've been trying to teach him. After dark, there's the moon and Orion. The daily walk might sometimes be boring, but the world will surprise you with marvels sometimes.

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APPLEPIEAPPLE 11/7/2011 7:50PM

    emoticon emoticon Sounds like a great day!

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Today's Rant: Home Security/Dog Stories

Sunday, November 06, 2011

(This train of thought comes courtesy of all the people out in the hills today shooting at things. Bow hunters don't bother me as much, because all in all they're pretty skillful, but anybody can buy a gun and go shoot turkeys and small game....or their brother-in-law. "I thought he was a squirrel." Kinda makes ya wonder, doesn't it? But anyway....)

Since my husband died last year, I've been asked many times, "Aren't you afraid, living up there in that big old haunted house, way out here by yourself?"

Well, first off, I have no problems with whatever "haints" might be in my house. I've always been more worried about the living than about the dead.

Secondly, while I may have one of those little perimeter security systems, I rely on it more to tell someone if the house is on fire than to prevent intruders from messing with me. I prefer my back-up system of dog and shotgun.

I remember a story my grandmother told me about a friend of her who raised...I think it was cocker spaniels. She had a red setter, too - sweetest, silliest dog in the world. But my grandmother's friend, a gentle little writer, said that she knew if anyone ever raised a hand to her, that sweet, silly dog would tear his throat out without hesitation.

My grandmother always had Dobermans. Beautiful intelligent dogs and wonderful family members. But if anyone came to the door, the dog (and there were many over the years) would always stand between the family member and the visitor in the doorway, until the visitor was okayed by the family member. They always got up in the night, too, to "make rounds", and that sound of dogs padding quietly around the house, their tags jingling a little, has always given me a special feeling of security.

My Uncle David, my grandmother's brother, was a kind, funny man who raised bees and collected antique postal trucks. He was the one who taught me how to shoot a 12 gauge without dislocating my shoulder.

I've retained both dog-raising and shotgun skills, and honestly, while the technological security system is a fine thing, and I do sleep with my cell phone at my side, dog and shotgun are also right handy, and if I had to bet, I'd bet on them any time.

I'm jes' sayin'.

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MORTICIAADDAMS 11/11/2011 10:30PM

    A woman after my own heart. I have my 22 Ruger semi-automatic close by as well. My hubby has his pistol handy too and we also have a security system but nothing puts a stop to marauders like staring down the barrel of a 22. Like my hubby tells people, "If you want to tangle with someone my wife would not be a good choice." LOL.

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APPLEPIEAPPLE 11/6/2011 6:01PM

    My cat would defend me but my dog is so gentle I am not sure. I got him when he was 4 years old so I am not sure how he was trained. My old dog who died was a lot like yours. Gentle but defended us to death. I do not own a gun but have been considering it. I used to shoot rabbits as a child but I am not sure of my aim anymore. The next dog I get will be trained to protect as well like my first one. Meantime my 21 year old cat can still hold her own if need. LOL.

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SUZYMOBILE 11/6/2011 4:26PM

    And our dog, Dingo, would, I'm afraid, have welcomed intruders wholeheartedly into our home!

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BETHGILLIGAN 11/6/2011 4:06PM

    Love it!! I'm afraid my beagles snore so loud they wouldn't hear an intruder!!! LOL

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Depression: If one more person tells me to snap out of it

Saturday, November 05, 2011

I'm gonna choke 'em.

Let's think of it this way:

Your friend is diabetic, maybe has been from birth, or maybe developed it later, but the bottom line is that her pancreas doesn't make enough insulin, or the way it is used by the body isn't quite right.

Can you hear yourself saying, "Oh, for crying out loud. You're not "diabetic". You just think you are. You could make insulin if you tried. You just like the attention of everyone fussing about your pancreas. You can eat anything anyone else does if you just put your mind to it. It's all in your mind. Come on! Snap out of it! Make some insulin, already! You know, you're bringing the rest of us down with your so-called "insulin dependence." You're just being self-indulgent. All you need to do is talk to someone and your pancreas will be just fine!"

Sounds silly, right? Substitute "brain" for "pancreas", "depressed" for "diabetic" - it's pretty much the same thing. Depression is a biochemical issue, not a play for attention or a character flaw.

I'm glad we had this little talk.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAR58OLE 11/8/2011 5:42AM

    Thank you - I have sisters that don't "get it"... I have started new meds now - Dr FINALLY "heard" me... anyway, I can totally relate to this...

don't WANT it to interfere with my "life" but know I can't do it alone!

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REBECCAMA 11/7/2011 8:24AM

  My mother to this day tells me to "Snap out of it". Really clueless!

If you are interested there is a great group blog that is good for support for depression and a lot of other things. It is "Band Back Together" and you can do a little search and find it. I have something being published there tomorrow. It is a great network of support for depression sufferers and many others.

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    Yeah, you tell 'em!

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FIFIFRIZZLE 11/6/2011 1:43PM

    Well put!

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KM9369 11/6/2011 10:33AM

  Thank you for saying this, it can never be said enough! emoticon

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GIANNA345 11/6/2011 10:09AM

    Unfortunately, the attitude you describe will probably persist for a while, although there has been progress.

You can't "snap out of it," but there are things you can do to help your body return to balance. I have a lot of experience with them. Let me know if you want some ideas.

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BETHGILLIGAN 11/6/2011 7:31AM

    This is a perfect analogy!! My son was diagnosed with clinical depression in high school. Boy, did my hubby have a hard time with that!! He had said all of those things to my son and resisted the diagnosis. My son is now 30, doing great on meds, and hubby is totally accepting of situation. Thanks for the blog!

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JAMMOM 11/6/2011 1:28AM

    emoticon you are absolutely right! Love this way of putting it in perspective.

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EMRANA 11/5/2011 11:17PM

  Definitely!! I've had clinical depression since my teens. I can't fix it without medication, and I don't need to just cheer up, hang in there, or play the mind over matter game. I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. I am one of the most upbeat and positive people you will ever meet. But my brain doesn't work right. On my meds, I can be myself again, even if that might be too happy for some people...teehee!

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-WRKNG2ABTTRME- 11/5/2011 10:05PM

    Very good point! Maybe some people will be more understanding now. emoticon

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SLIMMERKIWI 11/5/2011 9:58PM

    When I was in the pits of despair and not wanting to live, people would tell me that it was all in my head - which of course, it was, but just not in THAT way!

Anyway, they reckon ignorance is bliss - well it isn't - it is just downright ignorant!

Kris xx

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JUST_ALICIA 11/5/2011 9:42PM

  I remember and yup if one more person said snap out of it, I would have done the same. It was a really long haul and a lot of work and meds as needed and depending it can last a lifetime. I was very lucky.

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PUDLECRAZY 11/5/2011 9:19PM

    Good blog.
So many people think depression is a choice. If they suffered from it, they would know that no one would choose it deliberately or to choose to stay depressed. There is some collective ignorance on the topic of depression.

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SCOOTER4263 11/5/2011 9:12PM

    I'm actually okay - this was mostly for someone else today. But I've certainly encountered this attitude before.

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SUZYMOBILE 11/5/2011 9:05PM

    Would a hug help?

emoticon emoticon

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Schedules and routines

Friday, November 04, 2011

I'm old enough to have read Dr. Spock when I was having children, and he always stressed that schedules were good for children. It became fashionable in the 1970s - maybe earlier - to allow children to eat when they were hungry and go to bed when they were tired - this was referred to as raising the "natural child", if I recall correctly. But Dr. Spock was all about routines and schedules, and because I didn't like the idea of never knowing when people would be eating or sleeping, I went with him. It drove my spontaneity-loving husband mad, but both daughters turned out well.

The last few years didn't allow much adherence to schedules - too many crises and unplanned events - but now that things have settled down I'm trying to work myself into some routines. I think a lot of the reason I don't get exercise in is because I don't schedule a time for it; the reason my meals are sometimes not the best is because I'm used to eating sort of catch-as-catch-can, rather than being sure to have what I need to prepare something nourishing and reasonably simple. Getting the 1600+ words written each day is more difficult than it need be because the activity has no "home" in the day.

My usual meal schedule, I'm sorry to say, is, after I get up whenever I feel like it (and often much later than I'm really happy with) I have some coffee and then just sort of wander in circles for an hour or so - read the paper, do the puzzles, fill the furnace, tend the critters, whatever - and two or three hours later I'll have something light like some fruit and cheese or a small sandwich. I do whatever I'm going to do - which way too often is nothing - and then somewhere between 4 and 5 p.m. I'll make some sort of supper, eat a bunch of it, and later on go to bed before I get hungry again. I usually have an adult beverage or two before or with dinner and a brandy or sherry before bed (and yes, I know how many calories that adds up to.) This is all just so not good enough.

So I'm trying to pry myself out of bed at a decent hour - when I wake up the first time, which is usually sunrise, as opposed to rolling over and deciding to sleep more. I don't sleep well, but I'm willing to bet it's largely because I don't get enough exercise and I sleep in too late in the morning, then go to bed too early (left over from fourteen years of getting up at 4:45 every morning.)

Then I'm going to take my little - actually not so little - Pad Planner and pencil in time for exercise and writing. And I'm going to try eating three meals instead of two.

I know that in the past when I've tried this, its downfall has been that I tried to schedule in *everything* I wanted to do - scheduled meditation, scheduled reading time - and things I felt I had to do - scheduled cleaning, scheduled shopping. It wound up that every minute of every day was scheduled, so I abandoned it almost immediately.

This is all new territory for me - having no one to "answer to" or show up for. I've spent the last year since my husband's death just lying on the sofa, waiting for various legal problems to settle out and trying to be gentle on myself, but I think it's about time I tried to get my legs back under me. I think part of the reason is that I miss having routines and schedules.

Deepak Chopra, one of my heroes, says that routines are comforting to the body, and I believe that. I believe that's why they work so well with children, and may be highly underrated for adults.

I'll let you know how it goes.

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SUZYMOBILE 11/5/2011 5:19PM

    I agree completely, but you're probably going to think, when I'm done telling you what I do, that I'm an automaton! Working at home requires that one have a schedule, because wandering around in one's jammies is none too productive. I try to get up no later than 6:15, put the coffee on and fire up the computer, go for a walk (such an ingrained routine now that I feel like a slug eating breakfast without having walked first), eat breakfast and Spark, get in the shower by 8:30 (a major new accomplishment that I was skipping completely for a while!), and work until I'm hungry again, at which point: the same lunch pretty much every day. I eat lunch now sitting by the pool in the sun, because I feel it's important to get away from that desk before sitting back down at it until at least 5. Then the unscheduled time begins: adult beverages, another walk, dinner, exercises, TV, swim in the pool, read, etc. Weekends are pretty unscheduled, but I do make myself little to-do lists that are meant to be broken by spontaneous stuff that happens.

Good luck! Keep us posted on how it goes!

I wrote like 100 words and concluded that I ain't no novelist!

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PENNYAN45 11/5/2011 8:57AM

    A schedule provides some structure to the day - which is helpful for me. I enjoy taking breaks and going off on tangents too often - and if there is no structure at all, my diversions can leave me feeling ungrounded and free floating and detached from the world sometimes.

My schedule is imposed on me by my teaching position twice a week. I think it would be helpful for me to take a tip from you and add in some personal scheduling as well. Funny, I don't know why I resist it so much.

Certainly I understand how important scheduling and planning is to accomplishing anything else I do - why not this?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts; they have me thinking too.

And good luck to you on implementing your plans.


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BETHGILLIGAN 11/5/2011 8:16AM

    Since retiring this has been the most difficult adjustment for me. I was so used to the "working" schedule that I just felt lost without it. I couldn't move off of square one because I had so many things I wanted to do that I did nothing. emoticon I still struggle with this but, for the most part, I have a "loose" schedule every day, I prioritize my "to do" list weekly and I try to stay focused and moving. It is too easy for me to get sidetracked by the computer and "lose" an entire afternoon. I also schedule in reading time--30 minutes a day at least. I find that sometimes I feel totally frustrated because I don't seem to be making "progress" on my to do list and at other times I understand that those items are not going away but the need to babysit grandkids, do lunch with a friend or even clean a nasty bathroom has to take priority and get done NOW. So I try not to be too rigid, a little more flexible but more focused. Good luck! You can definitely do it. I think the biggest step is to recognize the need and establish the basic routine.

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JUST_ALICIA 11/4/2011 3:53PM

  I am with you. Schedules are important but I also need to have some open time or I rebel from too much schedule. I always need to set up something like this when I am off for the summer or I can stay in PJs until like 3 or 4.

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