Monday, May 14, 2018

Week 18 - Drama and Gardening

The week started with a milestone - the end of my handicapped parking permit. But that was a good thing because I didn't need it anymore. I actually hadn't needed it in awhile but it sure was handy. Otherwise it was a busy week with some highs and some lows.

Being a Master Gardener shouldn't be so hard! I had emailed the new MG coordinator for my county and she confirmed that she had DOUBLED the annual volunteer hours from 20 to 40! She had a long rationale about "unmet educational needs" in the county and tried to convince me that I should give up every Saturday morning all summer to staff an Ask the MG table at the Fremont farmers' market. Nope. Her email shot dead the fabulous mood I was in. I sent an email to the UNL MG coordinator asking if i could transfer and she cc'd my county coordinator in her response. Busted! And have I heard back from either of them with any resolution? No. And it's been 10 days now.

The same day all this happened, I also got an email from Eileen saying it wasn't going to work for me to visit in June because her daughter was having surgery so she'd be on grandma duty, becoming the primary caretaker for her autistic grandson. Now I can see Eileen anytime but Connie is going to be in Toronto visiting her new grandbaby so I was coordinating trips so I could see her too. She's going to be so disappointed and I still haven't told her. Chicken - that's me.

Enough negativity! I had some fun this week to offset all the drama. I went to 2 retirement parties (people are leaving UNL in droves) and failed to make it to a third but at least we got ice cream while we were on East Campus. I had fun thrifting with Cindy on Wednesday and then had a rare lunch out with Dodie to catch up. Somehow it's much easier to talk while sitting/eating rather than walking. And I ended the work week with swimming and a trip to From the Ground Up to buy annuals for my containers. All good.

Saturday morning was more MG volunteer hours, this time at the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum's native plant sale. I had to be on campus at 8:30 so of course I asked Darla if she wanted to do breakfast. I was on road before 6:30 and we had some rare face time over sausage and eggs at Cook's Cafe (best sausage links in town.) So worth it though and then the sale was fun. Not super busy but not boring either. I got some free plants and chatted with the NSA director quite a bit. Got some knitting done too. : )

I had big plans for errands after the sale but having sat outside in the wind for 5 hours, I felt gritty and tired so just stopped at From the Ground Up again to buy one more six pack before heading home for tea. I relaxed for the rest of the day, having earned it.

Sunday was gorgeous so I got the laundry in and headed outside. My goal was to edge all my garden beds so that John, who would be mowing for the first time Monday evening, would know where to mow. IT took hours but I got it done along with a few other things. I felt good, but tired, at the end of the day. 

I'd moved on from the drama of early in the week, despite getting no resolution, and enjoyed some spring weather and making progress in my yard. With Canada cancelled (hopefully postponed) I have no travel planned, which is odd but feels OK. Maybe when the summer heat sets in I'll be ready to think about getting on a plane but for now I'm happy to be home working in my yard. Happy spring!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Week 17 - Exercise and Gardening

It was an active week with all kinds of exercising, some mid-week drama and plants, plants, plants! Can’t beat ending the week that way, n’est-ce pas?

I started the week trying out the new bike rental deal here in Lincoln, which I’d signed up for for $10 for the year instead of $100 on a grand opening deal. I had received my fob in the mail so went over to the rack in front of the Union at lunchtime to try a bike. Keep in mind I haven’t ridden a bike in years. I chose the bike with the shortest seat but it was too short so I stopped to raise it. 3 times! Because the reason it was short was the seat was broken. I managed to tool around the center of campus enough to get some bike riding confidence and then returned the bike. But I didn’t do it right so it still showed that I had it out an hour later. After a call to the customer service, it was straightened out. There was hope for future rides until I managed to lose the fob somewhere in my car. Yes, you read that right. I had neglected to zip my wallet after gassing up my car and when I picked it up, the fob went flying and I can’t find it. It’s got to be down some little crack somewhere. Sheesh!

Wednesday was Walk at Lunch day and Dodie and I started off walking, only to see people walking with goodie bags when we were nearly done. Campus Rec had a program that had you walking to different spots on campus then back to their table. Since Dodie only likes to walk for 30 minutes, she bailed after the first stop but I hooked up with a young, energetic thing who works at the State Museum (I’d trained her so she recognized me) and did the entire program at a fast pace. My knee survived and I went back to work with a bag full of stuff, most of which I gave away. But it was a good workout and I swam after work so had 2 that day.

I had another workout Thursday morning (my regular Fit & Fueled) but I managed to leave the house without my clothes, which I didn’t realize until I parked at the Rec Center. I was in the process of driving away when I saw Rene, who suggested I should at least workout before heading home. Now had I driven back right then, I could have been showered and back to campus by 8:30 or so but I got guilted into working out so had to burn 2 hours of vacation time because I’d already been planning to run to East Campus for the Hort Club sale at 9:00 so just called Nora to say I’d be in after the sale. It ended up being a mob scene so I needed the time to wait in line anyway and having started into a vacation day for those 2 hours, I put in for 2 more on Friday, taking the heat off of leaving early for Spring Affair. I do hate having uneven hours in my vacation pot (call me anal!) but at least now it was half a day.

I left Friday at 3:00 for the volunteer plant sale, where I impulse shopped through the part shade area. What was a full sun bed when I planted it 18 years ago, between my neighbor’s trees and my bushes is now part shade at best so my plan is to replant the whole thing. Anyway, Lorri and I headed to HyVee for a quick dinner, where I encountered a cashier who didn’t know how to use the scale to tare out the plate for my tiny salad so it ended up costing $15 for supermarket food. Needless to say, there was an email to HyVee when I got home, which resulted in a call Sunday morning from the manager and a $20 gift card being sent. But I digress….. I was a plant informant at Spring Affair, which I’ve done for 20 years except for last year when I was recovering from my rotator cuff surgery. Something seemed to be missing. The energy wasn’t there and I didn’t get much out of it. Hmmm…. It might be time to rethink that event. It was a long day and I got home after 9:30. Good thing I had no weekend plans.

It was pretty chilly Saturday morning so I enjoyed sitting and knitting in the sun streaming in my slider. I got outside after lunch and started with putting together a greenhouse I’d bought years ago that was still in the garage in its box. It went together pretty easily and I immediately loaded it up with all the plants I’d bought and then transplanted all my seedlings into little labeled cups, which took a couple of hours. This was the first time I’ve started seedlings in years so I was feeling great about all my baby plants.

Until Sunday morning when the wind was whipping and I watched as the entire greenhouse, which I’d placed against the house, fell over in slow motion. Now the purchased plants were all fine due to their robust root systems but the babies I’d lovingly labeled and potted up had no roots so ended up in a mess of mud inside the toppled greenhouse. I was close to tears and was only able to salvage 4 babies in their labeled cups. Luckily I’d kept the ones for my garden inside but now I don’t have any to share after all that work. Oh well.

I ended the day with laundry and cooking – sausage soup, 3 bean salad and a chocolate bread pudding with freeze dried strawberries (something from Aldi) – so I’d be set for the coming week. I didn’t start the cooking until after Call the Midwife so struggled to fall sleep. Note to self – don’t end the day with productivity. Between that and the new book I got sucked into, I was still awake at midnight so would be starting the week tired. Still, life is good!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Week 16 - Back to Work

Well, it was back to reality this week after a wonderful week off. The work week could have dragged but didn't and spring weather finally arrived. Nice.

I didn't show myself any mercy, cramming my already full normal week with even more so had something every single night. Monday was knitting, Tuesday was a meeting with the new garden committee at Hansen House (a museum here in Wahoo), Wednesday was swimming, which felt like an early night despite me getting home at 6:45, Thursday was a movie with Tammie - The Leisure Seeker (worth seeing for sure) and Friday was a Husker Cats party.

Lon, the dentist who feeds all the campus feeders on the weekends, wanted to get together to meet some of the other Husker Cats people. He hosted a party at Hop Cat (how appropriate) after work on Friday. I had left work early to go to a retirement party so got there early and sat at the bar enjoying yummy beer with Lon before everyone else arrived. We had a nice time and it was a nice way to start the weekend. I missed swimming but it was worth it. 

I was also on a 600/900 calorie week, which included good days and bad. I couldn't pass up the free bbq lunch for Ag Day on Tuesday but otherwise did OK until Friday's party. It went downhill from there but all for fun. At least there's that.

Saturday was the first ever Local Yarn Shop Day so I met Lori and Michelle at First Watch for breakfast on Saturday morning and then Lori and I hit 2 of the 3 Omaha yarn shops. I showed some restraint and only bought 2 skeins of sock yarn at each shop plus, are you sitting down?, a skein of acrylic! It's frosty purple and I just couldn't resist. It will probably be mittens. Someday. After the yarny fun, I hit Aldi and was home in time for a cup of tea that afternoon. I did some minimal housework, figuring I'd finish on Sunday but that didn't happen.

I had good intentions but spent most of the day sitting on my butt knitting. Go figure. I did do laundry and hang it out plus did a bit of cooking, which only made the kitchen a train wreck but at least I have soup for lunches and a lemon tea loaf to take to knitting. Spring weather finally arrived and appears to be here to stay so I dragged myself outside late in the afternoon to turnover and plant one of my veg beds with early veggies. Normally they'd have been in the ground weeks ago but not this year. There's not much to show but here's a pic anyway.

So I'm starting the week with the house a bit of a mess. This is my fear with not having a cleaning lady - my deadline for neatizing and doing all the dishes is gone. I'm going to have to be an adult and spend some nights in the coming week getting things in order. Wish me luck please.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Week 15 - Reclaiming My Life

So this week was about making a new start and reclaiming my life after a challenging 2017. Between my two surgeries and all the PT, I had let everything go - my house and especially my yard. I had big plans for the week to get things back on track now that I'm feeling better physically than I have in years.

Unfortunately the weather wasn't cooperating to work outside on Monday - cloudy, windy and a high of 39. No problem. I had plenty to do inside. I put a big pot of pumpkin soup on and then went through both freezers, getting them organized and pulling some peaches to make a pie to take to knitting. Then I started prepping packages to ship, including some things that had been sitting since Christmas. After running errands - bank, market, court house (to pay house taxes) and the post office, I headed home to make the pie and eat some dinner before knitting. I'd ticked quite a few things off my inside list and it was due to be warmer on Tuesday so I could finally get outside.

But it wasn't warm enough Tuesday morning so I decided to reclaim the front room. After my shoulder surgery, I spent a month sleeping in the recliner in the front room and so the hutch became my command center and had never been the same. The recliner was also still there and I wanted it back to normal. I spent all morning working on it. Here's the before and after. Much better, right?
It was almost 30 degrees warmer so I went outside after lunch and started out front. I raked the front yard, which was pretty easy, then went around the corner to the side. It had 2 years of leaves and the winter creeper had to be seriously cut back. I kept going around the house and didn't stop until I had all the beds raked except for the back two, which would have to wait. I'd been outside for hours so went in for tea and called it a good day.

I had been considering volunteering for the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum on Wednesday afternoon, which would count towards my master gardener hours. Having gotten so much done and knowing it would be warm enough to work outside Wednesday morning, I committed and signed up. I also called and made a hair appointment and emailed the cleaning lady, who had left a note two weeks ago saying she was considering dropping some clients, to say she didn't need to come back. She had never done a good job and seeing how dirty the front room was clinched it. I went to bed Tuesday with a plan and feeling none the worse for having worked so hard all day. I LOVE my new knee!

I spent all Wednesday morning outside, this time cutting down the garden between the street and the sidewalk, raking out the small bed by the front door and moving the rest of the containers to one of the raised beds in the vegetable garden, ready for mixing for this year's pots. I showered, ate lunch and headed to the hairdressers then UNL. I spent the afternoon prepping signs for the arboretum's plant sale then ripping plant stakes apart. I took the rest of those home and finished them while watching Survivor then brought them to my neighbor who could take them to work the next day. Another productive day with lots checked off my list. Nice.

Thursday was my last day to work outside. I went straight out back and tackled the two big perennial beds, which hadn't been touched in two years. I schlepped bag after bag of leaves, creating two additional piles - one by the hay bales behind the garden and one against my neighbor's fence. I'll plant squash on the bales so it'll cover that pile and the one by the fence will get added to my working compost bin over the summer to mix with my "greens." All good. I also discovered that John had been missing a major chunk of grass when he mowed so I'll edge those beds before he starts mowing again to reclaim that bit of lawn. After taking a tea break, I went out and cut down two year's of growth on the sweet autumn clematis. That was the last I'd be doing for the week because Anne and I were leaving for Minneapolis in the morning.

Anne had found The World's Largest Textile Garage Sale online and we'd promptly bought tickets to the preview sale and booked a hotel for Friday night. Anne picked me up at 7:45 Friday after her workout and we headed north. But the weather had turned and a huge blizzard was forecast to start Friday night in Minneapolis so we decided to explore changing the hotel and leaving right after the sale. Luckily we made good time so went to Ikea, where we ate a late lunch, and the Lands End outlet. Those were our only other to dos for the trip so we wouldn't miss anything by leaving right after the sale. Unfortunately we couldn't change the hotel so the plan was to drive all the way back rather than stopping in Iowa, where it wasn't due to snow until later Saturday.

The sale was great! It was held in the university's surplus warehouse so we lined up against 20 foot tall shelves full of chairs, light fixtures and the like. But between the huge shelves were tables piled with every craft supply imaginable. I had gotten the skinny from a volunteer so knew exactly where the sock yarn was and made a beeline there when they let us start at 5:30. I had a huge Ikea bag and after grabbing all the good sock yarn, I filled the rest of the bag with wool. They'd already postponed Saturday's sale until the next weekend so we were sure we'd made the right decision to drive home that night. We were on the road by 6:30 and it started sleeting within minutes. By the time we were out of the city, it was a mess. We drove through sleet, hail, torrential rain and thunder/lightening. I was driving and Anne was a nervous mess in the passenger seat but I assured her that I drove in weather like this every spring so to chill out.

Besides lunch at Ikea, where I had a veggie wrap in an attempt at healthy, we hadn't eaten anything but junk food all day so I needed some protein. We tried to stop in northern Iowa but the power was out at the exit we chose so we got back on the road and found an Arby's for chicken fingers near Des Moines. We were past the storm by then so the last hours were easy driving and we drove into my driveway at 12:45. It has been a long day but fun and we both scored lots of yarn so it was well worth it. I'm thinking we'll go back next year and hope for better weather.

I slept like a rock Friday night (technically Saturday morning) and didn't wake up until 8:30. It was already sleeting and it turned to snow shortly after I woke up. With the snowing/blowing, I happily sat inside and played with my new yarn. I didn't do much else all day and was fine with that.

Sunday was my last day off so it was chore day and now that I didn't have a cleaning lady, I had more chores to do. I had been thinking I'd do floors one week and the bathroom the next but I ended up doing it all. While the back floor was drying, I tackled the built up soap scum in the bathroom sink and the lime trail in the bottom of my tub (I know - I should have fired her years ago!) by spraying it with straight vinegar. It was 90% gone with minimal effort. If I can keep up with the clutter (the cleaning lady coming was always my impetus to neatize), this could work. Why I paid $30/week for years for bad cleaning is beyond me. The only thing she had going for her was not being skeeved by the cats. Letting it go...........................

So all told, it was a fabulous week off. I got so much done, both inside and out, and my knee gave me no issues no matter how hard I worked. I feel great about the start I got on reclaiming my life and have high hopes that I can keep it up. I even got 4.5 hours (almost a quarter of my yearly 20 hours) of volunteer time. All good. Now if the weather would just cooperate and bring spring. It's gotta get here soon, right?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Week 14 - Deciding on Vacation

This was supposed to be my last week before vacation but the weather was not cooperating so I asked Nora early in the week if I could postpone my week off if necessary. She was fine with that and I told her I'd decide by Thursday. But just in case, I got busy and did errands over lunch on Monday and again on Tuesday, despite the frigid weather. So darn cold for early April!

I was busy all week, getting things done at work and filling my spare time too. I went to Notes @ Noon in the library over lunch on Wednesday, swam after work and then went right to the credit union annual meeting, which was a dinner at the new dorms. I'd never been before and doubt I'll ever go again. The head guy (director, manager, whatever) is so long winded! He went on and on so it was a long event and not worth it. I also had stuff to do when I got home so it was a late night.

Thursday was going to be the last nice day before more winter weather arrived for the weekend so I'd emailed Erica to see if her kids, who are home schooled, could clean my gutters. She said they could so I made a list of stuff for the kid on the ground to do while the one on the roof was filling the bucket. I was super excited that they could come so prepped when I got home, pulling out the ladder, buckets, getting cash to leave for them, etc. I was a long night but I was happy they'd be giving me a head start on my vacation to do list.

Until Thursday morning. Erica emailed that the kids would be there Friday. She'd messed up the days and clearly hadn't checked the weather because it was going to snow Friday morning and then be windy and brutally cold. I was bummed and had to talk myself out of a funk by reminding myself that up until Wednesday's email to Erica, I'd been doing it all myself anyway. By the time I walked at lunch with Dodie, I was fine. The gutters could wait and I'd do the rest myself. Because by this point I had decided I would take my vacation as scheduled because the following week l didn't look any better. Friday seemed endless and I was not wanting to swim after work but forced myself to go and it was a good thing. I started my week off all exercised and showered. Yay!

I started Saturday skyping with Eileen, which was lovely. The winter weather was still going strong but I was determined to get outside and at least do the stuff I'd wanted Erica's kids to do - empty the compost bin (so I could fill it with all the leaves I'd rake), gather last year's containers and dump out the soil and pick up all the many, many branches that are all over the backyard from my neighbor's dying tree. I bundled up and started with the sticks and moved a few of the containers before starting to empty the compost bin. I was so cold that I couldn't feel my fingers so when the bin was empty, I called it good and went inside to warm up with a cup of tea, happy to have toughed out the cold to get started.

Sunday was day two of vacation but I still had my regular chores to do. I had a pretty normal day of laundry, cooking and making a list for the week. I had big plans for productivity and nothing was going to stop me. Stay tuned.

Week 13 - Starting the Reclaimation

It was a pretty uneventful week, unless you count the food day on Wednesday. Yes, it was that mundane of a work week. I did the usual thrifting, swimming, etc. and ended the work week with a quiet Good Friday (most of the campus seemed to be gone – certainly in my office) and a trip to Aldi after swimming to stock up for a weekend at home. Because this was my first weekend without an event in weeks.

I say without an event but when Helen had called to ask if she could wind some yarn, I invited her over for breakfast on Saturday morning. She works overnights so she stopped on her way home from work. It was nice to catch up, as always, over bacon and eggs. That was only my first fun meal of the day. 

Andrea, Lori and I were getting together for Lori's birthday a month late. Lori, who is vegan, wanted Chinese but Wahoo's restaurant has great food but an awful atmosphere. That in mind, I offered my house. Andrea picked up take out and we all enjoyed our meal then presents and knitting in the sun. 

When I shifted stuff off the printer to copy a recipe, I started an avalanche on my desk, which is my number one hot spot for clutter. Drae challenged me to deal with the desk when she left and that's what I did. It was long overdue. Embarrassing as it is, here are before and after pics. It took hours both Saturday afternoon and Sunday to find a place for everything because I was determined not to just relocate the crap. I was super pleased to get this done, which was a nice start to my upcoming vacation to do list. I hope this is just a start to reclaiming my life.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Week 12 - Enjoying Spring Break

It was spring break week so campus was very quiet and there was no water aerobics. This worked out fine for me because I was having some nerve pain in my knee again so was happy for the break. The extra time also left time for other things, which is a rarity in my uber busy life.

First up was lunch with Kate, who used to swim with us but hasn’t in a few years. Anne and I had booked lunch with her during spring break because she often has desk coverage at the library. We took our lunches and knitting to her office on Tuesday and had a lovely catch up. We need to schedule another one soon.

With no water aerobics and continued winter weather that nixed walking, my Tuesday/Thursday morning classes were my only exercise options. I went Tuesday morning despite my knee pain and had planned to go Thursday but somehow didn’t set my alarm so woke up at 6:14 Thursday, killing any chance of going. Talk about failing – oh well.

Just to get home right after work most nights was a gift and I was pretty productive but only getting caught up on chores I hadn’t finished the previous weekend. At least I did get caught up though because Saturday was yet another full scheduled one. It was the Master Gardener Conference in Council Bluffs, which I’d missed last year because of my shoulder so was looking forward to. We had to be on the road at 7:15 and had a fun day, getting home early enough that I had tea at home. The conference did seem a bit less than other years but I still managed to learn things, which is the point. Nice.

Despite having so many free evenings, I still had regular chores to do on Sunday. Somehow time got away from me so the cookies I’d planned to have done before Call the Midwife started weren’t so I was hopping up every few minutes to put another tray in the oven. It didn’t help that it made 6-1/2 dozen but then I’d have plenty for the upcoming week plus lots to share. I’ll end on that – homemade cookies being a nice ending to a pleasant week. : )