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. : )

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Week 11 - Fiber and Friends

It was another full week, between work and working out with some social stuff at the end. So, pretty typical but with some cleaning lady drama added in for good measure.

I started out well, getting most of my cleaning lady prep done after knitting on Monday night so it took the heat off Tuesday night. That was a good thing because I had pies to make for Pie Day on Wednesday – lemon sponge pie and strawberry rhubarb with an oat streusel top. I got them made and all cleaned up with time to spare. Nice. I woke up Wednesday with my triceps screaming from Tuesday’s workout and pies in hand, left for work with high hopes of coming home after swimming to a clean house.

Well, I’d bought a new floor cleaner from Amazon in hopes that the laminate would look better than it has in a long time. It was guaranteed to bring the shine back and that’s what I needed. But I walked into the house to find the usual shit job my cleaning lady does on the floors – big swooping streaks (she cannot seem to go with the grain) and footprints in the shine. Because there was shine. Ridiculous shine but totally inconsistent. She even did a single swatch around the rug in the front room ON THAT HARDWOOD FLOOR! I tried to get pictures of the train wreck of my floors but it was nearly impossible. Can you see the footprint at least? And all the streaks?

I spent the evening obsessing about the floor, which was worse than usual and clearly could not stay the way it was. I struggled to fall asleep and woke up several times wondering how to handle it. I went to work Thursday exhausted but determined to settle this. I messaged her on Facebook and she said she’d go right over. Then nothing. No message or phone call all day. I truly thought I’d be going home to find my key and an I quit note on the counter. Nope. I went in to find that she’d redone every floor in the house and while it wasn’t perfect, it was much better. Big relief!

Only after surveying all the floors (because she did the hardwoods too) did I look at the counter and see the cleaner. Except it wasn’t cleaner. It was floor FINISH so was supposed to put down new shine on an already clean floor. I’d bought the wrong thing on Amazon! At this point, I was feeling like crap. This was not something the cleaning lady should be responsible for and knowing her lack of attention to detail, I NEVER would have left this for her. So I called her up and apologized profusely and offered to pay her for her time, which she refused. I then promptly went online and bought the cleaner from the same company. I can only hope that he shine minimizes over time so I can redo it myself and make it perfect. My cleaning lady is sweet and not skeeved by the cats so I keep her but I’m SO over the drama! Getting clean floors should not be this hard.

Early this winter, I’d gotten together with my friend Darla for breakfast at The Stockyard Café in Wahoo, which is open early enough that we can meet at 6:30, enjoy a nice breakfast and both be at work on time. Darla suggested it again and somehow I ended up offering to cook breakfast instead so she was at my house at 6:30 on Friday morning for strawberry pancakes and bacon. It really wasn’t much work but next time I need to agree to eat out. Anyway, it was a nice way to start the day. I love face time with Darla. She brings me energy every time.

I had a nice lunch of my favorite ribs with Layton, swam after work and hit the grocery store on the way home, where I bought a chicken tender to have with 3 bean salad for super and the corn muffin I didn’t eat at lunch – yummy and easy. I needed easy because Saturday was going to start early and be a long day.

It was Fiberpalooza in Winterset, Iowa. Heidi was at my house at 8:00 and after picking up Andrea, we hit the road for the 3 hour trip. There had been a bit of snow and ice overnight in Iowa so we saw lots of cars in the ditch but our ride was fine, albeit gloomy. The fiber show was fun and I bought, you guessed it, more sock yarn. Then we hit the yarn shop in town that sponsors the event and I bought even more. The highlight of the trip though was meeting up with Cynthia, whom I’d met in Portland at the International Master Gardener Conference last July. We got to chat and catch up, which was lovely – a bit at Fiberpalooza but longer over lunch in a little café in Winterset. After stopping to check out one of the covered bridges (we were in Madison County after all), we headed home. I was home before 6:00 and had all my yarn stashed on Ravelry before bedtime. It was a good day.

Having cleaned out the cupboards the previous weekend, now it was time to use up more of those canned goods. After I put the laundry on, I started a big pot of my old friend Vicki’s sauerkraut. Then I started prepping eggplant for a big batch of eggplant parmesan, inspired by 99 cent eggplant from Aldi. When Lorri stopped over after church, my bar was covered with salted eggplant. After she left, the plan was to fry it up and make up several small casserole so I could have extras to freeze.

Well, I was procrastinating getting this done when Amanda called to say she’d be in town and wondered if she could stop by for tea. I went into high gear, setting the table between frying batches of eggplant and had it all put together by the time she arrived. We had a lovely chat over tea and treats – soda bread with Irish butter, which had been car treats on Saturday, and ginger cookies from Ikea. It was evening before she left so I was a bit behind on laundry but I had enough clean underwear for the first few days of the week so I’d be fine.

What a fun way to end the week! I’d had fun with friends every day of the weekend, had bought all kinds of fun yarn and had food for the week. What more could I want? Nothing! I hope your week went half as well as mine. And with spring coming, it would only be getting better. Life is good!

Week 10 - Toilets and Yarn

Unfortunately, the highlight of the week was a problem with my toilet. Work was fine, exercising was good and I ended the week with a fun, yarny day trip but mid-week was all about my toilet.

Now I had the entire guts of my toilet replaced in October right before my knee replacement so all should have been fine, except for the perennial problem of not having a water shut off on my toilet. Anyway, when I flushed the toilet Tuesday night, little did I know that the float would fail, leaving the toilet running. This would normally not be a problem but apparently the overflow pipe in my toilet is too tall so the hole by the handle is lower. I figured this out when I found my bathroom floor flooded just before bedtime.

The toilet was flushing fine but then the water just ran and ran, never turning off so it was slowly dripping out of the handle hole. I cleaned up the flood and lowered the water level before sitting down to YouTube to try and figure out how to fix it. At 11:00 p.m., I gave up and texted Donna, who was still awake and said she'd have her husband, who was asleep, call me first thing. I went to bed with a bin under the handle hole, figuring I'd get up periodically during the night to empty the bin and flush the toilet to get the level down. Only after I was in bed did I realize that the overflow pipe was plastic and all I'd need to do was hack enough off the top to get it below the level of the handle hole. It would run all night but at least not flood. I couldn't get a saw in there so I got an old pair of wire cutters and started hacking away at the pipe. I thought I had it low enough only to hear water hitting the bin after I'd be in bed awhile so I was back up hacking some more. It was a late night but I finally got it low enough that the running water was going down the pipe instead of onto my floor. I was able to sleep for 5 hours before the alarm went off. 

Of course when I flushed the toilet the next morning, it stopped running. Ed called at 6:30 and said he'd still stop after work to check it out so I agreed to hit Menard's and buy one of every part he might need in the plumbing section. I went off to work tired but with the toilet not running. I was home with plumbing supplies in hand at 5:30 and after several flushes, it still wasn't running. I snacked my way through the kitchen while waiting for Ed to show up, only to call him before 7:00 and tell him not to bother to come. He suspected it might have been some little speck clogging something because they'd been doing water main work in Wahoo. Whatever. I was just happy that it was no longer running and I could relax and go to bed early. A week later, it's still fine and I need to return all the plumbing parts I bought before I forget about them.

On the cat front, I started back feeding my campus cats on Wednesday, which felt a bit overdue but I had waited until there was little chance of snow and ice to slip on. Now I could keep my eye out for Tweaker to make sure he was being accepted back into the colony. All good.

I thrifted alone on Thursday and found tons of yarn, including some rare as hens' teeth sock yarn - with labels no less! I also got a bunch of acrylic for my sister and a few skeins of bright yarn for Dawn's afghan. All good. I didn't know that Layton's mom had died and so he had gone back east until I went to find him Friday at lunch. Since I wouldn't be eating out, I decided to run errands. Unfortunately I neglected to remember the 1:30 meeting on my calendar so when I ran long at lunch, I left 4 people waiting for me in the conference room. Busted! I arrived at 1:50 and was starving because I had bought lunch at Whole Foods as my last stop. I made it through the meeting and ate at 3:00. I swam after work and then had Saturday snack supper on Friday (cheese and crackers, olives and shrimp with cocktail sauce along with a Guinnesss) because I wasn't all that hungry after such a late lunch. It was a nice end to the work week.

And the weekend had a nice start too. Erica had won a $50 gift certificate at Spindle, Shuttle, and Needle from an online contest and I had my $25 for the best socks at the state fair so we'd scheduled a trip to Stromsburg for Saturday morning. I was up for breakfast in the town's cafe before the yarn shop opened at 10:00 so was on the road before 8:00 to pick up Erica and drive another 45 minutes to Stromsburg. We had a lovely breakfast (a huge pancake, 2 eggs and a side of meat for $5.61 each - gotta love small town cafes!) and were at the yarn shop at 10:00. I managed to spent almost $150 beyond my gift certificate and then we hit Stromburg's wonderful grocery store (a gem for a small town) before heading home via Seward to hit the Mennonite thrift shop. We stopped at Starbuck's in York for yummy drinks and were laughing so much that another customer commented, nicely, about it. We had fun in Seward before heading back to Erica's, where I got the tour of their new acreage. I was home in time for tea with a pile of new yarn to stash on Ravelry. Fun fun!

Sunday was chores, as always, but I also did a bunch of cooking to be ready with healthy food for the week and made a dent in the produce in the fridge. Somehow in digging for kidney beans for 3 bean salad, I ended up cleaning out and organizing the can cupboards. I never did find the kidney beans (I used cannellini beans, which made for a bland looking salad) but went through all the other cans, both upstairs and then down when I took some extras to my overflow cupboards in the laundry room, finding a few to purge (they're waiting to be emptied so I can recycle the cans) and a few to use soon. At least that was one productive thing I got done beyond laundry and cooking. And the toilet was still fine so I'm calling it good, along with the rest of the week.