Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 40 - A Mouse Hunt

I woke up early Monday and had time to hang with Dottie before waking up Andrea. We had a quick breakfast, said our goodbyes and were back on the road, a bit later than we’d planned but at least Chicago rush hour wouldn’t be an issue.

I had asked my Ravelry friends where the best thrift shop was off I-80 so we had plans to stop in Davenport, Iowa, which was a bit more the a third of the way home. But then we saw a billboard for an easy on/off Goodwill in Illinois so had to stop. It was a brand new store and a pleasant shopping experience. I scored some fall clothes in my new, smaller size and we asked about other Goodwills right off the highway. She told us of 2 more so off we went. The 2nd was a bust but we had fun at the third. All these stops were adding time so it was 2:30 by the time we got to Davenport but we decided to stop at the recommended Salvation Army anyway. I was glad we did. I found 2 solid oak wooden cubes that were the perfect solution to hold a shelf I have in the basement, the supports of which disintegrated when they got wet in my basement flood. I also found a perfect winter nightie and yet more canning jars, which I’d been buying everywhere since The Sal’s in Port Elgin. But this had to be our last stop or we wouldn’t be home until midnight. OK, we’d have to eat eventually but nothing else.

We were listening to Sherlock Holmes short story DVD’s so decided we’d stop when the next story was over. We were near Grinnell, Iowa and I knew there was a college there so we got off the highway. We saw another Goodwill so stopped there to ask where to eat (tee hee) and after buying a few things, we headed to Grinnell’s cute downtown to a pub the clerk had recommended. We ate yummy sandwiches as darkness fell. We really did need to not stop again, which we didn’t. We drove into my driveway at 11:00 p.m. It had been a long day but fun. We unloaded my stuff into the kitchen and I intended to leave it there and get right to bed. Then I remembered that the cleaning lady was coming the next day so I moved it all into the spare bedroom before showering and going to bed. I knew I’d be tired on Tuesday. Oh well. All worth it.

So I was eating breakfast and happily watching The Daily Show again (Trevor Noah is no John Stewart but I’m still happy it’s back) when Tot came running into the house with a mouse in her mouth. I chased her to the front room where she dropped the mouse and I was appalled to see it was alive. It ran under the love seat and I tried to catch it but it then scampered into the crammed full spare room. OMG! There was no catching it before work so all I could do was pull the food bags out of the room and close the door, stuffing a towel underneath so it couldn’t get out. I left a whiny note for the cleaning lady and limped, exhausted, to work. I somehow made it through the day and left right at 5:00 to use my last ounce of energy to deal with the mouse, not sure what I’d do but something.

When I opened the door, there was a gift bag on the counter and a note from my cleaning lady. Not only had she bought me a gift to cheer me up but had installed 3 mouse traps in the spare room. They were sticky traps, which are cruel and would not have been my choice but at least I didn’t have to deal with it. I found something in my empty fridge for supper and sat like a zombie until it was late enough to go to bed. I was hopeful I’d find the mouse the next morning.
Well, by morning one of the traps was gone but in the quick perusal I did, I didn’t see it so I kept the door shut and headed to work. I was feeling much better after a good night’s sleep and it was the all U picnic at work. It was Harvey’s (our chancellor) last State of the University speech too. I listened to some of it before Cheryl came and got me to head to the picnic, where I ate with Anne. It was a gorgeous fall day and so was a pleasant lunch. I swam after work and went home for only a slightly more thorough search for the mouse, which didn’t find it. I was completely conflicted about the poor mouse, knowing the sticky trap meant it would be stuck and dying a slow death but I couldn’t face doing anything and it was already dark so I just ignored the room. This would continue until the weekend.

After an uneventful rest of the week, I woke up on Saturday with my only goal being to clear the room and find the mouse. I was in there first thing (OK, it was 10:00 when I started but I’d just finished my coffee) and started by pulling things out of the room – the stuff from Canada, all of my yarn and baskets of clothes destined for Goodwill. When I pulled the yarn boxes out from under the bed, I found a wet spot that I figured was mouse juice so I then tore apart the bed, thinking I’d find a dead mouse in the box spring. Well, after pulling all the netting off the bottom and the loose fiberfill off the sides, still no mouse. Then I started on the closet. That’s where I found the sticky trap, which was covered with fur and showed signs of nibbling but no mouse. I cleared every single thing out of the closet until it was completely empty but found nothing. So I went through both of the closet yarn containers, felt every hanging piece of clothing and went through everything that was on the top shelf. STILL NO MOUSE! Where did it go? It was now 4:00 and I’d been at this all day so I just gave up. The only thing left in the room was the 2 dressers and I hadn’t gone through those drawers but I was done. I didn’t smell dead mousie so either it was alive and well in one of the drawers or had somehow escaped. Carolyn said they can squeeze through ½” openings so maybe it went down the heat vent? I’m doubtful since it was a fat mouse from what I could see but like I said, DONE. If it’s alive in the house, I can only hope one of my four cats will take care of it.

 After eating some dinner and knitting a bit, I went back to the front room and organized all of my sock yarn. I went to my computer to stash my new yarn from the retreat so I could add it all before putting the yarn boxes back under the bed and this is what I found. Rotten cat! But not the one who caused the mouse problem. It was 10:30 before I went to bed and I had so little down time that I read until well after midnight. My house was a wreck so I’d have a full day on Sunday to get it back in shape.

I slept late on Sunday, thankfully, and there was a football game on instead of CBS Sunday Morning so I started in right away. I had done a load of laundry Saturday night but had many more to go. All of Carolyn’s clothes I’d brought back from Rhode Island had been on the bed since July so needed to be washed and hung plus I had all the clothes I’d thrown in the spare room as they got too big to deal with. I did load after load of laundry and slogged through enormous piles of clothes for most of the day, trying everything on until my shoulders ached. Here are the stacks and stacks of clothes that are leaving the house. I pulled a few for Darla, a few more for Helen and sorted the rest into piles for the plus sized consignment store in Lincoln and the rest for Goodwill. Anything the consignment store won’t take is going right to Goodwill. I loaded the consignment clothes into the car and bagged up the Goodwill and moved them to the front room for later this coming week. My closet was also bursting with plenty of clothes to wear for this season.

So having to go on the mouse hunt did have an upside. Those clothes probably would have sat in the spare room for a long time before I got up the energy to get rid of them. The spare room is now also guest ready and I intend to keep it that way rather than the dumping ground it usually is. That done, it’s time to get out the After Canada list I typed up on my iPad in the car on the way back. There’s plenty more to do now that my 3 months at home are here. Wish me luck.

Week 39 - Worth Every Mile

With the Canada trip pending, the first two days of the week flew by. Monday was relatively normal but Tuesday was a train wreck. Most of the cubies in my office were being reconfigured (not mine) so there were workers dismantling the office all around me, which was noisy and disruptive. Add that the designer had completely screwed up the order so there were missing parts – like a wall so not a minor thing – plus everything she did order was the wrong color. The day was a nightmare with trying to make the parts we had work. Adding to the mayhem was the fact that our carpets were being shampooed that night so we had to have everything up off the floor before we left. Needless to say, I didn’t get much done on my last day. I was happy to leave at 5:00 and head home to repack. The weather forecast had changed so I’d be adding short sleeved options to my suitcase. What a day!

Andrea picked me up at 8:00 on Tuesday and we were off. It was pouring rain and we drove for 3 hours before it let up. We had a list of every yarn shop between Des Moines and the Canadian border but hadn’t stopped at any until mid-afternoon, when we saw a billboard for a quilt/yarn shop that was on the list so we got off in Princeton, Illinois. After driving 5 miles south of I-80, we found the shop but they didn’t sell yarn anymore. When we asked why they had a billboard advertising yarn, they said they hadn’t paid for that in months but it hadn’t been papered over. I told them they should remove their listing as a yarn shop on Ravelry and they were clueless on that front too. Sheesh! We did find a cute craft gallery across the street to redeem our stop but we’d wasted a lot of time.

Then we hit traffic near Chicago despite not getting there until 6:00. Between construction and rush hour, it was a mess and we missed an exit so had to take a different route to my sister’s. I had forgotten that it was Yom Kippur and they were waiting for us to get there to eat so I felt pretty crappy about the delay. It was good to be there and see their new house, which is gorgeous. I slept great and we got to hang with Dottie a bit in the morning before leaving. We had another long day of driving ahead of us.

I should mention that despite my offer to share the driving, Andrea drove the whole way both days so I got to knit in the passenger seat. Nice. We made great time getting across Michigan but once we crossed the border, we were on a two lane shore road and had hundreds of miles to go. We had thought we’d arrive at 5:00 but when we were hours away and it was only 3:45, we stopped at a Tim Horton’s for a snack since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast except for some car nibbles. I needed to call to say we wouldn’t be there for dinner but our phones wouldn’t work so I approached total strangers begging for a phone to make the call. The first 2 people didn’t have phones but the 3rd did ad let me call. Once they knew not to wait, the heat was off. We kept going but stopped at a Goodwill when we needed a break. We grabbed some dinner to go in Port Elgin and ate in the car on the way to the B&B. We arrived at 6:58 and the meet and greet was at 7:00. It was great to see Sue, Eileen and Gail and fun to meet everyone but the shower was calling my name so I ducked upstairs for a shower then went back downstairs. Gail and I were the last 2 up, chatting and knitting until almost midnight. Once I went to bed, I slept like a rock. It was great to be there.

After a delicious breakfast at the B&B, it was time for an all day class on designing a cable pillow. I chose gorgeous yarn and a beautiful pattern and happily knitted away the morning. We walked up to the art school for lunch then back to the B&B for more cabling. When Andrea came down at the end of her class, we decided to head to Port Elgin for some shopping. First stop was Canadian Tire, which is way more than a tire store. I’d seen reference to it many times on Ravelry so had to see it for myself. It should not have surprised me that the very first aisle was all hockey sticks. No one had a camera but I found this image on the web. Gotta love Canadians!

We did the aisles and I found all kinds of practical treasures, including 3 different LemiShine products, which were dirt cheap even without the great exchange rate (75 cents Canadian to $1 American.) Then we hit the Salvation Army, where we arrived 10 minutes before closing so just had time to run in and grab some canning jars. We all laughed at the harsh recording with dire warnings if we didn’t get to the register immediately follow by a “God bless you.” Then it was time to drive back to Southampton for dinner at a restaurant with the group after which we all drove back to Port Elgin (these towns are about 5 miles apart) for dessert and shopping at Sue’s shop. Needless to say, I bought yarn. Lots and lots of yarn, including more of the 80/20 Shelridge that Sue had held for me/ Like last year, I was rummaging through totes but this time in the basement instead of the back room. All good.

Saturday was another full day of classes – entralac knitting in the morning and mosaic knitting in the afternoon. Both of these were new to me and on my list of things to learn. We had lunch at the art school, which featured my fave butter tarts, which had been curiously missing on Friday. Both classes were fun and I got some shopping in at the local art gallery to add to my overflowing stocking stuffer drawer. (I have enough to fill 2 or 3 years of stockings. Really.) After a catered dinner at the art school, we all went down to the shore to watch the sunset. Someone had said Southampton had one of the 5 best sunsets on the planet so we had to see. There were no clouds so it was not spectacular but it was wonderful to see nonetheless, surrounded by friends and the beauty of nature. Sappy but true. I even went wading in Lake Huron! Then we ended the night with knit and natter in the common room at the B and B. Have I mentioned how much I love these people? Janice and Shelley had come just for Saturday so just added to my fun Canadian friends and Andrea was thrilled to see them again having not seen them in years. It was another wonderful day.

Sunday was our last day. We all slept in a bit and had a wonderful brunch at the B&B. From there we all headed to Sue’s store but Andrea and I stopped on the way at the market, where they were holding a tray of butter tarts I’d ordered for my sister, and then Bulk Barn. I stocked up on all kinds of goodies, including treats for the way home in the car to add to the leftover butter tarts Sue had wrapped up for me. Eileen had already brought me lemon chips since they hadn’t had them in Montreal’s Bulk Barn when I was there this summer so I’d been concerned Port Elgin’s store wouldn’t have them either. They did. Everyone was at the store paying up their tabs and yes, buying more yarn. We left Port Elgin just after noon for the ride to Dottie’s. At least this time we’d be doing the long shore road bit at the start of the drive.

Since Dottie knew we wouldn’t be there for dinner, we took our time, stopping quite a few times along the shore road. We went to a market for President’s Choice white cheddar mac & cheese (so much better then Kraft) and maple syrup for gifts then hit the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) for beer for Andrea. We hit the Goodwill we’d stopped at on the way there but the trifle bowls Andrea wanted were gone. We made a final stop at a store Shelley recommended for muffins, where I spent the last of my Canadian cash. I had exactly $3.50, which would have paid the toll on the final bridge into the states but alas, I’d spent it on muffins so paid in American, which cost more. Had I only known. The border crossing was uneventful and we were back on home turf. Since we’d done so much stopping in Canada, we made a beeline across Michigan and got to Dottie’s ~8:00. We were both tired so didn’t stay up too long. We had another long day of driving to look forward to so opted for an early night. Just one more day and it would be back to reality.

Like last year, the retreat was everything I love – friends, knitting, yarn, good food, gorgeous location. I don’t’ think there’s anything that makes me happier than knitting travel with friends. We are going to make plans for a Scotland trip in fall of 2016 but I’m hoping we get together before then. Somewhere. Somehow. Until then I’ll count myself lucky that I have such a great local knitting group. We wouldn’t be getting home in time to join them at the library Monday night but I know they’ll be there next week. Gotta love my knitting friends, both near and far. Love you all!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 38 - Preparing for Canada

Monday started out with a half day of work so I could head home to meet the appliance guy. The freezer was cold again after his late Sunday door adjustment but there was plenty more for him to work on. I just had time to eat a quick lunch before he arrived at 1:00. We got right to work. He took out the ice maker, tested and then reinstalled it. I heard the water rush back in so was happy that’d be back. Then he started on the dishwasher. Yuck! I could see a screen in the back was gunky but when he started taking out parts for me to clean in the sink, it was so gross. There was food gunk caked on all three parts and it took lots of scrubbing to get them clean. It made me want to wash every dish in the house again. John recommended LemiShine to keep the dishwasher clean and de-cloud the glassware. Then it was downstairs to the dryer, which had the wrong vent hose installed and it was gunky too. Not completely blocked but enough to impact dry times. I was very happy with all my newly fixed appliances and he was out the door ~3:00 so I had some time before knitting. 

My first call was to the vet. I had appointments for Wrennie and Pie on Saturday but if Wrennie needed 7 days of ear drops, I’d be in Canada so that wouldn’t work. They had an appointment and she did need the meds so it was a good call. I also got a booster shot for Pie so wouldn’t need to take her on Saturday. Too bad I botched the sub-cutaneous shot when I tried. I’m calling it good though since she’s had shots every year so can skip one. Next year is rabies so she’ll be at the vet then for sure. 

After the vet, I frosted the banana cake I’d made for knitting and went through all the boxes of cereal on top of the fridge. I had 4 unopened boxes to give away and anything opened that wasn’t one of the few faves I’d eat went into the chicken bag. I went to knitting with my hands full and left empty handed. Yay! 

Tuesday was uneventful – work flew (I trained all afternoon) then swimming. But when I went to bed, I slept for only 20 minutes before waking up and I was wide awake. Damn. I got up and didn’t go back to bed until after 1:00. I’d be hurting in the morning for sure. 

I actually didn’t feel that bad the next morning and when I found out a planning meeting would be at Panera, I got a coffee and drank 2 big cups in addition to my thermos. While it kept me awake, I had a sour stomach all day. I opted to go straight home and was super productive, which I’ll chalk up to all that caffeine. I picked an heirloom tomorrow from my garden and had a delicious BLT for dinner then prepped all the concord grapes, which is doing something. You have to squeeze every single grape, cook the guts and strain the seeds then mix them back with the skins. All that and I’ll only get 2 pies out of it. But concord grape streusel pie is so delish that it’s worth it. I also fixed my blender (long overdue.) I went to bed at the regular time and slept like a rock. 

I had signed up for a weight lifting session at Campus Rec so was there and ready to work out just after 5:00 on Thursday. It was brutal! I don’t know what I expected but it was intervals between a machine and floor work – kettle bell squats, pushups and such. I was tired but felt good. Until I woke up an achy mess on Friday. My thighs hurt every time I sat down. Clearly I need to get some weights into my exercise routine. After Canada. : ) 

I started Saturday with an 8:15 hair appointment, which got me up and dressed so I didn’t sit all morning in my nightie knitting (my usual MO.) I got busy with the spare room as soon as I got home. It looked like a yarn bomb had exploded in there plus I needed to pull fall clothes to take to Canada. I moved all the loose yarn into the front room then started slogging through the rest, adding lots of clothes to the Goodwill bag in the process. I spent a chunk of the afternoon stashing all the unrecorded yarn. I made nice dinner (I reorganized the freezer in there too) and went to bed with things looking much worse than when I’d started. 

Sunday was my day to finish it all and get everything set for my upcoming trip. I had tickets to the symphony for Sunday night but had given them to Andrea when she stopped on Saturday so that was off my list. I plugged away at the piles all day and by evening things were looking good. I had clothes chosen, laundry done, yarn put away (there will be some better sorting/storing after Canada – see a trend here?) and food set for the next two days. Skipping the symphony had been a good decision because it took the pressure off and meant I had a low stress day. All good. 

Except for just a few last minute things, I was pretty much ready for Canada. I had chosen some knitting projects to take, had clothes ready for the suitcase and the house was as neat and tidy as it gets. There’s a big list for AC (after Canada) and I’m actually excited to get to them. While this trip will be a blast, I’m looking forward to being home for three solid months. Oh the possibilities!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Week 37 - Some Long Days

We needed to be on the road by 8:00 to make it to the Amanda rendezvous by 10:00 so were up early. We stopped at Connie’s favorite coffee shop for breakfast to go and enjoyed the ride – chatting, scenery and treats. All good. Amanda arrived, I transferred my bags, hugged Connie and off we went. Oddly enough, Amanda wanted to go to Rapid City for Chinese food, which Connie and I had just driven through an hour earlier. Whatever. The food was really good and leaving from Rapid allowed us to take the interstate home, which saved time in the long run. I sat up front with Amanda so got more knitting done along with adult conversation. It was a long day though and I didn’t walk through my door until 10:33 that night. I unpacked, took a shower and went to bed. The alarm would be a rude awakening the next morning.  

It wasn’t that bad! I felt pretty rested (I had, after all, done nothing but sit on my butt all day Monday….) and was fine at work. Dodie and I had lunch at Noodles and I swam after work. It felt good to be home Tuesday night. 

After work on Wednesday, I was going to Seward to pick up Andrea's fair entries. I had gone last year and enjoyed their farmers' market so had agreed to go this year despite not having anything to pick up for myself. I got some fun stuff at the farmers' market – caramel corn, a piece of strudel and molasses cookies for the junk and sweet corn, green beans and a cuke for the healthy. All good. I decided to take a different way home to see Dwight, a little, mostly dead town I’d never been to. It had a typical Nebraska small town main drag  – PO, bar, café and many empty store fronts. But there was a small junk shop that had the front door open and a Sale Today sign propped on a chair so I went in. There was a 20 something woman in there who said she was cleaning since it was cool enough so she opened. It was a true junk shop but I found a cute little pot for my African violets for $1. She couldn’t break a $5 though so took the 65 cents I had in my coin purse. Fun. She also highly recommended the café, which makes homemade donuts on Sundays. It’s only open for breakfast and lunch so was closed. Then she mentioned that some local poet had a shop in the next block. I asked if it was Ted Koozer (former US Poet Laureate) and she thought it might be. There was a single old store that was all fixed up with “Poetry Made and Repaired” on the window and Private Studio on the door. Cute. I didn't think to take a picture but here's one from the web. And I checked with Gina, the accountant 2 cubies down who lives near there, and it is him. More fun for Dwight. I was glad I went. 

From there I drove to another small town called Brainard, which has a regional high school but otherwise was just as dead, which I found strange. I figured they’d at least have a quick shop or something since they have hundreds of students there every day, but no. Anyway, it was fun exploring and I got to Wahoo just in time to hit The Warehouse. Lorri came over to drop Honey Crisps from her brother’s tree and later Andrea stopped over to pick up her fair stuff. So, it was a busy night but fun. 

After swimming on Thursday, I waited in line at Little Caesar's for not hot, not ready pizza (won't go there again) and brought it to Becky's house. After pizza and salad, I got to visit with the kitten I helped rescue last week. She was full of energy and lots of fun but I felt no compulsion to take her home. Becky had another foster from campus that was dumped near the Military Science building. He was older and very nice but no desire to take him home either. I had so much fun playing with the kittens that I left late and it was 9:15 before I walked into my house. I was absolutely exhausted and could barely keep my eyes open so went to bed early. How nice that the next day was Friday.

Friday was over in a flash and all that was between me and a blissful weekend at home was a stop at the grocery store. The traffic on O Street was so nuts at 5:00 that I detoured over to Vine Street and so had to go right by Goodwill. It was the 10 for $10 sale so I stopped. I found a couple of things on the reject rack outside the fitting room so was going to commit to finding 8 more things (you have to buy 10 to get the price) so headed to the yarn before starting the clothes search. Well, the yarn there is usually priced twice retail (I've complained repeatedly) so I wasn't expecting much but there were tons of skeins of better quality wool and most were priced 99 cents. Score! I went back for a cart and filled it with yarn. I did manage to find 8 more clothing items but most were for friends. I was happy with the yarn, some of whichwas going to friends too. After a stop at Aldi, where I stocked up on fun German Oktoberfest food, I got home at 8:00. It was another long day but I was done. I could not wait for the weekend. 
But you know me. I had booked my Saturday chock full. I woke up early and had had breakfast, stripped my bed and done two loads of laundry by 8:00 a.m. After catching up with Carolyn, I headed to the library to pick up money, deposited it at the bank and met my friend Nancy for lunch at Chips. I left there just in time to grab two cats (Pixel and Tot) for a vet appointment at 2:15. When I got home, I made a cup of tea and collapsed. I was beat! After a restorative cup of tea, I forced myself to get up to do more laundry and mow. I was determined to get everything done so I could cook all day Sunday and not have anything hanging over my head. Success!

I was up early on Sunday too but the pressure was off. All I had on my agenda for the day was cooking and finishing the laundry. I started with French toast and bacon then used my farmers' market produce to make salads - 3 bean and cucumber. Over the course of the day, I interspersed knitting with laundry and more cooking. By supper time I had made cheesy baked cauliflower and a banana cake to take to knitting. On a whim I also cleared out the food corner so had a bunch of stale crackers and such for Lori's chickens to go along with all the produce scraps. 

But when I went to the freezer for an ice cream sandwich after dinner, it was soft. I made the long overdue call to the appliance guy and made an appointment for Monday at 4:00. But when I weighed losing a freezer full of food against vacation time, I called and rescheduled to 1:00. He also offered to come over and check the freezer out quickly and he had the door sealing better immediately so said everything would be OK until the next day. He'd also be looking at the dishwasher and dryer. Like I said, long overdue.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 36 - Black Hills Fun

It was a memorable week. Not only was I ending it in The Black Hills with Connie but there was some kitty drama.

Tuesday was the first run of monthly reports in fiscal year 16 and it wasn’t going well. I’d identified some problems and the tables had to be rebuilt by the programmers twice so by noon, when I’m usually nearly done, I had just started over. When Nora called just after noon, I picked up my pad and pen thinking she was giving me something to do. Nope, it was a cat problem.

Judy, a friend of Cheryl’s who works at a new UNL department at Airpark (outskirts of Lincoln’s airport) had driven from there to East Campus thinking she could hear something but not sure. After the van sat at East Campus all morning she then drove to our building, when she was sure she heard a cat. She opened the hood and a kitten jumped from under her hood and into the engine compartment of the car parked next to her. That’s when I got called in.

I went down to the parking lot and could hear the kitten but the whole front end was sealed up so I couldn’t see anything. The car had a temporary hang tag so after calling Parking to get whose it was then the department to find out who they gave it to, I got on the phone with a new faculty member from Turkey. I had to ask him to come to the lot with his keys. I had already put bits of stinky food under his car to no avail and now the kitten was making lots of noise. We opened the hood but couldn’t see the kitten then he moved his car and the kitten moved towards the back. When nothing worked, we drove to my mechanics and they put it up on a lift, unbolted some enormous car part in the center of the car to get better access and pulled out the cutest long haired calico kitten you ever saw from where it was hiding on top of the gas tank. It looked unscathed from its adventures but I took it to the vet for a checkup to be sure.

My mechanics didn’t charge me anything so I donated $20 towards beer. They were all a hoot – 4 big tattooed mechanics tearing the car apart to find the kitten. Anyway, from there I took the kitten across town to the vet. All this took 2.5 hours out of the middle of my day. Not good but at least the kitten was OK and I was back to deans’ reports. I worked late trying to finish my reports but found another issue so failed. I did weed for an hour when I got home though so skipping swimming wasn’t a total bust. All in all, it was a good day’s work though, in every way. Did I mention that she was gorgeous? I will NOT adopt her. NOOOOO!

I went home Wednesday and mowed since I hadn’t on the weekend and would be gone for the upcoming weekend. What is it about traveling that makes me get so much done? Anyway, after swimming on Thursday I went home to do laundry and pack. I also baked a batch of lemon chocolate chip cookies to take on the road. I left for work Friday with everything ready to go. I drove to Amanda’s at noon and after a bit of a wait, we were on the road. I sat in the backseat with Elsa (Amanda’s 5 year old) and so didn’t get as much knitting done as I’d hoped but Elsa’s a joy and we had fun. I got to the hotel in Hot Sprints at 9:15 after 9 hours on the road. It was great to see Connie and we both slept like rocks.

We were up so early that there was no one at the desk to take our key so we went down the street for a wonderful breakfast (cheddar bacon toast with my bacon and eggs plus a piece of pecan pie bread pudding to go – yum!), went back to drop our key then headed north. I saw that we’d be near Sylvan Lake, which is Nora’s favorite place in The Black Hills, so we stopped there first. The walk around the lake was just over a mile so despite not being dressed for it, we headed off. I wasn’t 50 yards from the beginning when a piece of glass got imbedded in my toe (Birkenstocks are not the best shoes for hiking) but I was able to feel it through the ridiculous amount of blood and pull it out. Once the bleeding stopped, we finished the walk, which was lovely. From there we went to Hill City, where we shopped along the main drag. I found lots of fun stuff – stocking stuffers, a cool pin made from the handle of a vintage knife and even a shirt for work. Rapid City was next up. We got pedicures at the mall, found more clothes at JCPenney then got ribs at Texas Roadhouse, which was our regular thing when we did Omaha runs before Connie moved north. From there we headed home to Spearfish and hung out at Connie's before heading to the local Irish pub for a Guinness on the back patio. A friend of Connie's was playing but we never went inside so barely heard him, which was fine. It was nice and cool outside and was a relaxing end to the day.

Sunday was our day to head up the canyon. It was quite chilly when we woke up, the weather having changed overnight. We had a nice breakfast at home and I knitted on the patio while Connie visiting with a friend who came to pick up Gordy's lawnmower. We left for Rough Lock Falls late morning but between the barely above freezing water and the chilly air, we only stayed 5 minutes but managed to get our feet in the water 3 times for 5 seconds at a time. The water is breathtakingly cold, that's all you can manage. Wading - check. From there we went to Lead to see the visitors' center Connie helped create. It was absolutely wonderful and I could see why Connie was so proud of it. I found a few more stocking stuffers at the gift shop and off we went to Chubbies. Yay! I bought lots of truffles - enough to fill the punch card and get 4 more free. Yum. But that was all that was on our list so we were done and it was only 12:30. So many possiblities!

We grabbed a sandwich in Deadwood then headed to Wal-Mart for supplies. With so much free time, we decided to go home and get busy. We started with hanging Connie's new shelf over the dining room table, which lead to moving some artwork and then progressed to rearranging the living room furniture. When all that was done, we repotted some African violets then harvested veggies from the garden. What a fun and productive afternoon! Then I introduced Connie to Saturday snack supper but on Sunday. We made caprese salad with tomatoes from the garden and had it with shrimp cocktail. And Guinness, of course. It wouldn't be snack supper without it. We settled in for an evening of Sherlock. I packed before bed because we'd be leaving at 8:00 to meet Amanda at 10:00. It was a quick trip but so worth it. No amount of talking or emailing beats face time. I miss that with Connie but at least she's only a state away. A big state but still.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Week 35 - A Normal Week

It was a normal week. At last! Campus was back in full swing, which meant swimming was back, and everything just felt normal.

Despite the normalcy, I was struggling with my diet. By mid-week I just wanted to take a break so ended up eating cheese and cracker with Guinness for supper on Wednesday and decided to take a couple of days off. It was a 1200 calorie week so I had more leeway than a 600/900 week but that still wasn’t enough. I had a pain au raisin on Thursday morning, which was a gift from my vice chancellor who knows I love them, but just eating part of one pastry on an empty stomach gave me a killer gut ache. Lunch was buff bowls with Dodie at Noodles (no cheat there) but I wasn’t sure if I should eat or not, deciding to eat, which was the right choice. All the spinach must have counteracted the sugar. I sealed the day with a KFC bowl after swimming (it was exactly what I wanted and delish!) and that was enough. I was back to eating clean on Friday. I still wasn’t into it but I only had another week to go and was still hoping to break 60 pounds so got back on track.

Lori, Andrea and I had plans on Saturday for shopping and lunch. I had hoped to sleep in a bit but was up at 5:30 so immediately got busy. I had bought lots of clothes at Goodwill’s 99 cent sale on Friday so started laundry and got the kitchen picked up. Before Carolyn and I talked ~8:00, I had 2 loads of laundry done, dishes washed and had eaten breakfast. Not bad. I had a Friends of the Library meeting at 9:30 then went home to get more done before Lori picked me up at noon. We went to Our Corner Cottage, where I bought yet more stocking stuffers, then went to Hoot & Sadie’s, where we waited for Andrea, who didn’t show. She’d driven by and not seen us (were we in the back room maybe?) so went right to the restaurant. We had a nice lunch (I got the healthiest thing on the menu, which was ribs with a salad instead of fries) and then Drae came in to help me figure out a knitting problem. Once she left, I got inspired and pulled all the weeds from the driveway cracks. There were a LOT. They were so tall I’d been mowing them. Sheesh! I left them to shrivel overnight and went inside just in time for dinner. What a nice day! It had the perfect mix of productivity and social stuff.

I was back in laundry mode on Sunday and talked to my sister and Connie between knitting and chores. I did a bunch of food prep for the week, completely cleaning out the refrigerator in the process. The shelves were a sticky mess so all came out and got washed in the sink. I already had a big bag of veg scraps for Lori’s chickens then added to it after the frig clean so I called Lori after dinner (steak and broccoli with a small serving of illicit tabbouleh) to see if I could drop the bag off since I didn’t want to put it back in my clean frig. After a quick stop there (the mosquitos were brutal so no hanging outside) I was home for the night. I almost filled my trash can with the driveway crap but pulled more beggar’s tick to fill it up then headed inside. I finished the problem mittens Andrea had helped me with and started neatizing for the cleaning lady, who comes Tuesday. It was the last night to sleep with the windows open so I took a shower and went to bed, happy with my progress.

I’m going into another travel week so was happy with the prep I’d done for the week. Once I finish cleaning lady prep, the house will be as good as it gets and I’ll be ready for Labor Day weekend in the Black Hills. You doing anything fun for the holiday? Have a good week.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Week 34 - Sharing with Friends

After my weekend of catching up from being away, I was looking forward to a normal week but a couple of things were different that thwarted my normal.

I had 3 sessions with the consultants on the space database first thing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I’m an 8:15 kind of person on a good day and now I had to be across campus and ready to rock and roll by 8:00. To compound that, I was filling in for another cat feeder so had to feed 3 feeders, park in my lot (the downside to assigned parking is you can’t park in another lot if you have business elsewhere on campus) and walk to the far side of campus. All that had me leaving the house at a time I was usually still knitting in pajamas. That was HARD but I got it done. I was there most of the day Tuesday and mornings Wednesday and Thursday. We actually got out earlier than expected those two days, which was nice. Having a normal morning on Friday and nothing on my calendar felt like a treat.

The second was potentially a good thing – it was one of the 3 weeks of the year with no swimming (usually at the semester change.) This meant I could go right home every single night. Lovely. I had knitting as usual on Monday and enjoyed Tuesday evening but was feeling guilty by Wednesday. The weather was very fall like and I decided I had to take advantage of it so headed to my veg beds to plant some fall greens – Swiss chard, lettuce and spinach. When I was done with that, I started weeding in an effort to pull all the beggar’s tick (the weed with the pretty flower but obnoxious seeds that the cats bring in in their fur) before it flowers. I got a ton pulled in the back yard (hopefully all of it) before my stomach sent me inside for supper. That one night redeemed me so I could enjoy the rest of my evenings of going straight home. 

Monday was a banner day. Not only did I not have to be up at the crack of dawn but when I did get up I saw an email from Amazon that they were having a one day sale on Kindle HD6 for $69. Now I have an iPad but I bought it used years ago when a friend upgraded and it's so old that I can no longer download most apps, which has cramped my style on Amazon and Hulu streaming. It still does Netflix but those days are probably numbered. I didn't take much thought to decide I should get the Kindle. I got the base model at $69 and then found a cute, orange case on ebay for $6, which beat the lowest priced one on Amazon for $29. So for $75, I was up and running on all my streaming platforms. I had it in hand on Wednesday and it came pre-linked to my Amazon account. Yay!

Monday night was the big yarn share at knitting. I had given out a few single skeins two weeks earlier but didn’t have the missing bag of yarn at that time so waited for the big handout. I had a tote full of skeins, all sorted by colorway, to share. Everyone seemed pretty happy to get the yarn and I was happy to get rid of it. I’d kept nearly 50 lots from the Craig’s List haul and still had scads to share with friends. Isn’t life grand?

Monday was also the official start of our WIP contest. We'd done this last year when the library flooded and we were meeting in the Vets' Club. How it works is we have a start date and anything on the needles that day counts. For each item you finish, you bring in a prize for the prize bag and you get an entry. At the end of the contest, we pick names and you get to chose a prize from the bag for each item you finished. We all get to finish old projects, get rid of knitting things we don't want and leave with new knitting things. Win, win, win! I had organized my WIPs in anticipation of the contest and by the end of the week, I had already finished 3. Yay!

Speaking of sharing, Lori had asked me if I wanted any cucumbers from her garden and since I had opened my last jar of homemade sweet relish recently, I said yes. It’s impossible to find commercial sweet relish without high fructose corn syrup and I like relish on the rare hotdog I eat so I’ve been making my own for years. Lori was going to be in town Saturday and dropped some cukes mid-afternoon so I got chopping. Making relish is a long, drawn out affair because I chop everything by hand (I like consistent chunks), then soak it for 2 hours before you can even think of cooking it down. I made a batch and a half and finished cooking it after 10:00 Saturday night. It only made 5 jars, 2 of which I shared with Andrea and Lorri (2 R’s so not the same one) when they stopped by Sunday. Andrea brought me a little leek pie when she dropped off chicken litter for my compost pile and Lorri shared some tomatoes and onions from her garden. It is good to have friends! Lori would get her jar at knitting on Monday.

Besides the relish, I had a pleasant weekend doing chores and knitting. I was ready for the work week with a frig full of food and completely recovered from my travels. The fall like weather was holding and I was thoroughly enjoying that. The heat will probably be back but in the meantime the AC was off and I was happy. Fall will be here soon enough and the students were already flocking back to campus. I do love the seasons and working in academia reinforces that. Enjoy everyone.