Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 28 - Some Gorgeous Weather

The weather was the star of this week and drove much of what I spent my time on. The polar vortex was a gift from Mother Nature – no humidity and highs in the 70’s all week, which meant cool nights too so I opened the windows and slept great. We got a solid week of this and I took advantage of it.

Early in the week I decided I needed to take some time off to work in the yard and Wednesday was the best day. I had to reschedule a training session I’d scheduled for that afternoon and once that was done, I just had to decide between a full and half day. The dermatologist made that decision.

I had my first ever dermatologist appointment on Tuesday afternoon. While I wanted a full body review for all my moles and bumps (thanks Grandma!), it was more about getting established as a patient for the next time my eczema flares up. I pointed out a spot on my back that I wanted them to look and a callous on my palm. I was floored when he said they could cut them right then so out came the needles and within a couple of minutes I was band aided and good to go. But I couldn’t swim that night so I decided on a half day Wednesday (it’d be too chilly to work first thing and by going to work, it ensured I’d not dink the morning away) and headed home to start.

I started in the front, cutting and nuking all the weed trees in the parking (the Nebraska word for the strip between the sidewalk and street.) When that was done, I cut down the huge weed trees (they’d been there a few years so were 2-3” in diameter) by the garage. Since I only have a pruning saw, this took some time so I was ready for a shower and dinner once I was done. It was a good start.

I had meant to water my veg beds before work on Wednesday morning but completely spaced. Lorri to the rescue! She went over and turned the sprinkler on so the soil would be soft and it’s be easy to weed when I got home. The neighborhood kid I’d hired to clean the gutters was almost done when I got home and was done by the time I’d eaten lunch. Then I started weeding. Unfortunately the sprinkler had broken and so hadn’t been oscillating. I did the two wet beds then put a different sprinkler on the other 2 beds and went out front to trim some lower branches on my crabapple that were interfering with mowing. Again just a pruning saw so hard word. I turned off the sprinkler and took a break while the worst of the water dripped off then weeded the last two beds, revealing my first crop of wax beans. Yay!

After a tea and knitting break, I headed in to do some cooking. First on the list was a pie for Ed – strawberry rhubarb. I made a big one for him, a small one for me and a quiche with the extra crust. I steamed up the beans and had already hulled all the strawberries so I just kept going and cleaned out the frig. After eating some quiche and beans for dinner (yum!), I delivered the pie and a huge bag of chicken food, getting home just in time to shower before sitting down at 8:00 to watch Extant. What a wonderfully productive afternoon off. All vacation time should be so satisfying.

Thursday was Nora’s last day before being off for a week so we needed some catch up time before she left. But I was scheduled at East Campus all afternoon for a custom training – two classes in one afternoon. My plan was to go as fast as possible so I could get back before 5:00. Well, despite being very specific that I needed a conference room with a computer that could project on the wall and get to SAP, the room they’d booked didn’t even have a computer. The laptop they brought in (I could have brought one myself!) was so old it couldn’t do SAP. After trying and failing in another room, I gave up and headed back to the office. It was a good thing, giving me plenty of time with Nora and I was done in time to swim. All good.

Friday was over in a flash as I dealt with all the emails Nora and Mary, who was also out, had sent overnight. I took an afternoon break to get a frapuccino because my Starbuck’s was closing at 5:00 for renovations so it’d be my last for awhile. I was supposed to meet Anne at a new thrift shop after work but she bailed so I went alone. It’s in an old Catholic school in a nice neighborhood but is a step down from the other thrifts in town. I did score a couple of skeins of good yarn for $1.00 each and then got a couple more at Goodwill on the way home. Nice way to end the work week.

Saturday was the last day before the heat and humidity was coming back. While I’d planned to spend it in the yard, when Darla suggested meeting for breakfast, I jumped at the chance. We met at 8:40 at Cook’s Café, which is where Connie and I used to eat after the farmers’ market. They have the best sausage. Yum. It was great to catch up (I miss my Darla fact time) then we did a bit of shopping but split up before noon. I was home by 1:00 but felt drained and sat in a chair for most of the afternoon, only getting up to neatize the house and do some dishes after tea time. Oh well. I did manage to get a bit done outside just at dark but at least the kitchen was picked up.


Sunday was blazing hot and humid. I spent the day inside, venturing out only to hang sheets on the line. I finally did some cooking. I can’t tell you what I’ve been eating this summer but it feels like I haven’t had a hardy meal in ages. I made my turkey dinner casserole and ate that with cranberry sauce and the last of the beans. It tasted SO good and now I have more to eat all week. It’s going to be a hot one and I’ll be inside for sure. Maybe with dinner ready to go I’ll get more done downstairs? I live in hope. Stay cool.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 27 - Yarny and Productive

What a fun week! What’s not to like about a week that starts and ends with yarn, includes new, cheap Birkenstocks, has plenty of productivity and ends with the polar vortex dropping temps to gorgeous levels? NOTHING.

Monday was our monster sock night at knitting. Monster socks, which are SO fun to knit, are socks made from leftover yarn. There are all kinds of ways to make them and they appeal to my favorite thing – using stuff up. So we all brought our scraps to knitting, threw them into the middle of the table and started matching things up. I had a ball! I couldn’t stop putting together color combinations and said, “Look at that!” so many times that they were ribbing me. Everyone left with beautiful yarn combinations and I left with way less than I brought – just enough for one pair. Worked for me! It’s not like I don’t have plenty more yarn, and leftovers, at home.

Another fun thing was the Birkenstock store’s annual sale on Thursday. I had gone too late last year and hadn’t found anything so I was determined to go earlier. It opens at 10:00 and that’s always a mob scene so I left work at 11:30, figuring I’d arrive before the lunch crowd. I got to the store and there was a line out the door, down the plaza and then back again. It was the line to pay! Inside the store wasn’t as crowded and I immediately found what I was looking for – purple summer sandals. Then I found a pair of Keen tie shoes for winter. Score! I went out to wait in line, which took 50 minutes but was fun because I chatted with the women on either side of me. Then when I got inside and could access the side of my size table that was blocked by the line, I found another pair of sandals – navy blue with a soft footbed. Nice. All told my lunch hour was almost 2 hours long but I scored 3 pairs of shoes for $221 ($70 each plus tax) so I was happy, happy, happy.

Otherwise, there was nothing special about the week, unless you count getting my summer short haircut, which always feels good. I did get quite a few things off my to do list but it all about getting to the weekend for me. I was heading down to the basement and looking forward to it.

I was down there Saturday morning right after breakfast and coffee. I had put the linen shelf back together on Friday night with real milk crates so it wouldn’t collapse so I was ready to organize those linens. It didn’t take long to load the shelf up but then I moved to the other wall, which was stacked with baskets that were a bit precarious and I was worried that I’d find pooled water under them. Nope! That was a relief. I restacked everything and by lunch time the room was in apple pie order. Even the table in the center was clear and there was nothing on the floor that wasn’t in a basket and where it needed to be. Now to deal with the other rooms but that would have to wait.

Andrea and I were headed to the grand opening of the newly relocation to Omaha yarn shop – Wooly Mammoth. A few of the knitting group had been there before and said there was a $5/skein sale bin full of fun stuff. I had hoped for a quick trip so I could be home in time for tea then get downstairs again before supper. Yeah, right. But it was worth it to include a few other stops. The first one was Omaha’s old yarn shop – Personal Threads. We were there for Koigu mill ends, which Heidi from knitting had bought to monster sock night, but I found a few other skeins I had to have. At least a couple were from the clearance rack. Then we hit Goodwill, where I dropped the bag that had been in my backseat for a week, and then Penzey’s, where I cashed in 3 coupons for free spices so at least something was frugal. Then it was on to Wooly Mammoth.

The $5 rack was full of fun stuff and I got some bargains. The best bargain though was some Regia Fluormania sock yarn in a day glow green colorway for just $3.95/skein! Of course I took one look and knew I could make it beautiful with kool aid. I bought 2 skeins and Jacob from spinning group, who we bumped into at the store, bought the rest. I did buy one skein of full price sock yarn but had so many deals that I left with a bag full of quality yarn for only $70. What fun! We didn’t get home until dinner time but I still had Sunday so was fine with our yarny afternoon.

I was back downstairs right after breakfast and got busy in the craft room.  Just moving the ebay linens back to the linen room made a big difference but then I started going through the baskets looking for summer clothes that had languished in the ironing basket since last fall. By lunchtime, I’d made a big dent and although I’d considered hosting knitting in the afternoon, I decided I’d rather keep going downstairs so ate a quick lunch and went back down. I sorted and sorted – sweaters for felting, yarn and already felted, immediate ironing (found those summer clothes) and ironing to wait, mending and fabric. Lots and lots of baskets but at least they’re organized and I freed up lots of floor space. There's another big bag for Goodwill and even the table is clear. I did lots of laundry and some actual ironing before going upstairs to clean up the kitchen. I had hoped to get some cooking done but ran out of time. I can eat out of the freezer this week if I must. It was all worth it to make such progress downstairs.

And mid afternoon, when I was upstairs taking a yarn dyeing break to fix a skein of the hideous day glow yarn with blue kool aid, my cell phone rang (always unusual) and it was Peggy from DocKnits calling to get my credit card info to book the fall retreat. So that’s official and Sue has me in a suite in the main B&B (there’s an overflow one too) with Cindy, Eileen and Gail so I’ll be back with all my Lakes and York trip friends knitting in Canada at the end of September. I also checked email to see I'd won some beautiful yarn from a blog contest. Yet more yarny goodness!

Good week, right? Not only did I have some yarny fun but I got the basement on the way to under control. To top it all off, I spent Sunday night watching PBS and stashing all my new yarn on Ravelry. And I ended the night by finishing a pair of problem socks that would have been done days earlier but for a mistake that left me ripping out 2/3rds of the 2nd socks just before I’d thought I was done. And the best end to the week was the polar vortex that would be ushering in gorgeous, cool weather while I slept. Life is good!

And on that note, I meant to share this link. What a great post! Time to rethink my password practices. : )

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Week 26 - Quite a Turnaround

I was looking forward to a four day week and making lists of what I’d do every night so I wouldn’t be slamming for the cookout on Friday. The difference this year was I didn’t have a cleaning lady so had to worry about not only the usual cookout prep but cleaning the entire house too. It definitely needed a thorough cleaning and it’s not like I got anything done the previous weekend.

Sounds good, right? Well, I was walking to the ladies’ room on Monday morning and my knee blew. It was very bent and I couldn’t put any weight on it. A co-worker went to my car for my cane and I started making calls – Parking for a temp handicapped permit, my doctor for a shot (got a Wednesday afternoon appointment – not bad) and Belinda to have her husband feed my campus cats. All that done, I plowed ahead, ignoring my knee and keeping working. I contemplated not going to knitting but when Donna said I could use the lift to get into the club, I decided to go. I could sit at home not using my knee or sit with friends not using me knee. Easy decision.

I didn’t sleep much at all Monday night because every time I shifted in my sleep, I woke up because of the knee. I got up and tried to get ready for work but just couldn’t do it. Between the problematic knee and being so tired, I called in. Yes, I did. A rarity but I’m glad I did. I sat and knitted all morning, only getting up when I had to go. Well, at some point late morning, I got up and my knee wasn’t bent and I could put weight on it again! It wasn’t perfect but SO much better. At that point I started feeling guilty, completely dismissing the idea that staying home and off my knee is probably what fixed it. Oh well. That’s me.

I went back to work on Wednesday and left early for the doctor’s appointment. My knee was still better but with the cookout coming, I got the shot anyway. I woke up Thursday morning feeling great but still took it easy and didn’t do any cookout prep until Friday morning, when I was a veritable banshee. It was finally heating up so I got the outside stuff done early and then cleaned like I haven’t in decades. Luckily I tried to cook a burger on the grill for lunch because I was out of gas, which meant a run to the gas station, in a completely socially unacceptable outfit, mind you. I finished my short list and jumped in the shower, getting out just before people started arriving.

It was a gorgeous night and everyone seemed to have fun. The marinated sirloin kabobs I’d made were a big hit (much easier to deal with than steaks) and the corn on the cob was delicious – my first this year. Everyone brought yummy food to share and we all chatted around the table waiting for dark and the fireworks, with Anne, Andrea and I knitting, of course. Everyone left after the fireworks except Andrea, who stayed to help me clean up. By the time I went to bed at 1:00, just about everything was done. It was another successful 4th of July party. Much better than last year when I was alone and covered in hives. : )

I was up at 6:30 on Saturday so was pretty tired. I finished cleaning up the kitchen and put away the outside chairs but didn’t do much else besides sit and knit until late afternoon. I made sausage and peppers for supper and a strata for breakfast then slogged through the refrigerator, prepping berries and making of a bag for Lori’s chickens of leftover corn, old berries, etc. Not much done by the end of the day but I could live with that.

Sunday was chores, which really only meant laundry because I’d spent all day Friday cleaning. But in prepping for Friday I’d also loaded up the spare room with lots of stuff from around the house, including filling my laundry basket with papers from the desk, which is notorious as my hot spot. I started going through those papers and before you know it, I’d continued on and didn’t stop until I’d gone through every paper on the desk. And I didn’t just pile them up but created files. I’ve had that file crate under my desk for at least ten years and have finally put it to use. Happy happy! Then having found my missing poster from Victory Garden of Tomorrow behind the desk, I framed it and hung it, which lead to hanging the print I’d bought in Ireland in the bathroom and another in the living room. I even dyed some yarn in the afternoon, inspired by my hanging impatiens. By the end of the day, I was feeling pretty good about things. My knee was twinging a bit so I spent the evening relaxing. I deserved it, don’t you think?


So, I’ve inspired myself to keep tackling some of the things I’ve been looking at for so long that they look normal but are really just out of place piles of crap. Know what I mean? Next up will be the shelf over the couch, which a year after having the floors redone is still full of breakables from all over the house that I moved there for safety reasons. I have until Labor Day to finish the spare room and there’s always the basement. If this heat and humidity sticks around, I’ll have plenty of inside time this summer. And if it does get cooler, there’s the garden. Either way I have plenty to do and can only hope I don’t lose my mojo. Please ask how I’m doing. That should help.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Week 25 - Such an Idiot!

Have you heard about the weather here? The week started out beautiful, nice enough that we knitted outside at Heidi’s on Monday, but by the end of the week it was blazing humidity and storm after storm. Between Wednesday night and Friday morning, we had nearly 2.5” of rain. Of course this meant water in my basement, which completely killed my weekend. Summer in Nebraska!

More about the rain later but now to talk about some fun, yarny moments. I was having a frustrating afternoon on Monday. My co-worker was peppering me with questions and I could not take it another minute so left work ten minutes early for some retail yarn therapy at Yarn Charm. Boy was I ready to buy! I got another $32 skein of Zen Yarn Garden sock yarn plus 2 more skeins. Then on Wednesday I stopped at the loathsome Yarn Shop in south Lincoln after picking my car up at Honda (door lock fixed – yay!) just to see if there’d been any change. There is usually a clique of retired woman at the front table who comment on everything and the clerks often follow you around as if you’re going to steal something but the table was empty and the two clerks were involved in a discussion of their own so it wasn’t unpleasant. Luckily they have a piss poor selection of sock yarn but I still found one that was a good price. All this was a prelude to Friday.

I had sent Anne a craigslist posting for someone who had trash bags of yarn for sale for $20 each. The ad said they had to be gone by Friday so when Anne called, I suggested she offer for $100 for everything – 9 bags. Since I had already planned to take the afternoon off to start dealing with the basement, I agreed to go with her to pick them up. We filled her Honda Pilot and then spent an hour going through all the bags. Check it out! In all those bags there were only 3 skeins of sock yarn so I took those and some wool for felting. Most of it was acrylic for Anne and her mom to knit mittens with, which worked for me. It was fun sorting though – like a yarn treasure hunt.

Then it was home to deal with the basement. I had already stopped at Menard’s for supplies so was ready to rock and roll. The first stop was to check the downspouts, which I hadn’t thought to do when it flooded last time, chalking it up to the 5” of rain in 2 hours. Well, I’m an idiot! The corner that floods is right by the downspout that’s under my huge yew. Yup, the extender to move the water 4 feet out from the downspout wasn’t attached. Damn! That fixed, I headed downstairs.

The top two shelves of the linen shelf had come down sometime before the last flood so I’d moved those back then. What I didn’t realize was some linens had fallen down behind the shelves and were in contact with the floor so were wicking the moisture up into the linens. They’d been wet for months, which I only discovered when I moved everything. Lots of vintage linens went right into the trash. Most of the rest needed washing. I didn’t stop until all the linens were sorted and all the shelves were down. Step 1. I went upstairs intending to sit but it was pretty cool outside so I decided to mow myself, which I haven’t done in a couple of years. The grass was tall where Devin (the kid next door who does a marginal job) hadn’t mown and wet in places but my yard got the best mow it’s had in years. Only then did I shower and sit. What a long day!

Saturday morning was dark and rainy again so I started laundry (I had baskets of wet linens everywhere before the weather broke) and slogged through tons of paper, including opening the mail that came when I was in France. By the time I was done, the desk was a good as it gets (need to work on that) and the bar was clear. The rest of the house seemed to have laundry everywhere. I started hanging as soon as the weather cleared and was still hanging laundry on the line at 11:30 p.m. in hopes that some would dry overnight.

I slept late on Sunday (I wonder why!) but stripped the bed and had the sheets in the washer before I sat down for breakfast. I had been watching the weather and was hoping for some clearing. I pulled in 4 lines of sheets just before another downpour but then it did clear and I spent the afternoon finishing hanging the laundry. Some linen disintegrated in the wash so more hit the trash. Bummer.

I was down to the last loads by mid-afternoon and since I’d been dripping with sweat for most of the day, hot tea wasn’t going to cut it so I decided to go to the gas station for a fountain diet coke. I went to open the car door and it was slightly ajar and the battery was dead. Seriously, I didn’t need this! I called AAA and did go out after they left, driving 6 miles west to that gas station to help charge the battery. That diet coke was heavenly!


So, I never got any cooking done but by the end of the day Sunday, the corner was dry. Did I mention that my dehumidifier crapped out last week? Squeegeeing and fans did the trick. My fear is that there’s water under the totes on the other wall. It shouldn’t have affected the linens inside but it’ll still need drying. Oh well, next weekend after the cookout. I still have that to prep for too. It’s always something.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Week 24 - Back on Track

I finally feel completely back in the swing of things. Monday was knitting, as usual and I swam twice during the week but there was a bit of drama too. All good though.

 Wednesday was just a normal morning and I was sitting at my computer when Randy, my office mate, pushed back from his desk abruptly. He’d been dripped on so we all looked up and there was water dripping out of the light fixture over his cubie. We called Facilities and in the 45 minutes it took them to get there, we went from 1 recycle bin to 6  and from just the light fixture to that plus 6 ceiling tiles. The water was pouring out so Randy covered all his computer equipment with trash bags and the student worker had to move to another cubie. Facilities sent a team of 6 guys to fix it so it was a bit crowded and noisy.

Since we’re on the top floor, it was the AC unit on the roof that was leaking. The first thing they had to do was turn off the AC and it was in the 90’s outside and humid as all get out so it heated up fast. It was just a blocked drain so once they unplugged that, it was just a matter of vacuuming up the pooled water and waiting for the dripping to stop. The AC was back on in half an hour. We all went to an early lunch and by early afternoon they were replacing the tiles and it was like it never happened except for a small wet spot on the rug. Needless to say, we didn’t get much done that morning.

There was dangerous weather this week too. A tornado hit Pilger, which is 100 miles north of me, and another hit Coleridge where my friend from spinning lives. Her barn was picked up and came back down off its foundation and two sheds are gone but at least all her animals were OK. We had our own storm on Friday night when we were attempting a Knitting in Public dinner for World Wide Knit in Public Week.

It was blazing hot but our plan was to sit outside at Chips so we could stay after we finished eating without taking up an inside table. I actually said that it was nice that the sun was behind a cloud so it wasn’t so hot. Then we started hearing thunder then it started sprinkling. The sky had turned ominous and 30 seconds after we ran inside, the skies opened up. The rain slammed down for the next two hours and since people dashed out to beat it, we got a table inside then no one came in during the rain so we happily stayed inside and knitted until after 9:00. I snapped this picture of lightening in the clouds as I left.

Saturday was a busy day. Darla was coming for breakfast so I got up and made blueberry pancakes and bacon and Darla arrived just before 8:30. We chatted and caught up then headed to the Wahoo Senior Center thrift shop. We didn’t get much there but did score at Fremont Goodwill where we went next. It was lots of fun and we both left with a bunch of stuff. After a stop at HyVee for Starbucks and a quick bite, she dropped me at spinning where I’d hitch a ride home with Andrea. It was just a spin along and since I don’t spin, I tried and failed to start a new pair of socks. We left there and headed to Omaha where I overbought at Trader Joe’s then did a full stock up at Aldi. I didn’t get home until 7:30 so nuked some leftover pasta for dinner after putting away the cold stuff. I left the rest for Sunday.

I never left the house on Sunday and had a productive day. I put all the groceries away, did all the laundry including all the new stuff from Saturday and then finally did some cooking – a big pot of collard greens (had never made them so got directions from Ginny, who makes the southern classic all the time) and a pot of red sauce. I thawed what I thought were pork bones for the sauce (I use bones to flavor it and add cannellini beans for protein) but it was actual meat so I’ll be making salsa pork in the crock pot later this week. At least I have plenty of options for food this week. : )

So, it was a good week and I feel completely back to normal. I still haven’t written the blazing letter to the corporate office of the travel agency but have been giving it thought. I need to get that done so I can completely move on from the trip drama. I’m looking forward to some drama free living this summer.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Week 23 - Enjoying Being Home

Well, as much as I wasn’t ready to leave France, I’ve got to say being home has been nice. It helps that this is the easiest jet lag I’ve ever had and the weather cooperated with perfect sleeping weather. My bladder was still on French time for a couple of days and I did wake up at 4:30 a.m. on Monday and was unable to get back to sleep but otherwise slept on Central time all week and never had a foggy head like after previous trips. Maybe it was because I was so relaxed after my trip, which was a wonderful thing after the stressful start of the trip.

There’s not much to report on the week. I managed to “swim” on Wednesday but it was water walking and my mouth got more exercise than my body. Otherwise, I didn’t do much in the evenings. Actually there was knitting and food shopping twice. That’s something but I didn’t get much done once I got home. Oh well.

I spent the weekend trying to reclaim the house. There was a bit of a scare when Dottie asked if she and Mike could come next weekend because she had 4 days off in a row. I already had firm plans with Darla that I can’t reschedule but since I have a complete inability to say no, I had left the possibility open. Well, after not sleeping Friday night worrying about it, I called and left Dottie a message saying it wasn’t going to work. Had they been coming, my weekend would have been a stressful whirlwind of chores but with the heat off, I was able to slow my pace and enjoy it. I swapped out all my winter clothes for summer, did a bunch laundry and ironed too (a rarity these days) so I’m ready for summer weather. I also neatized the rest of the house and got some weeding done in the garden.

I had planned to do some cooking but never got around to anything but blueberry pancakes Saturday night for supper. I did spend 3 hours on Saturday going through the 14 pints of blueberries I’d bought at The Warehouse for 50 cents each so have 8 1-cup bags for muffins and 3 big bags for pies in the freezer. That should get me through until next summer.


So, I guess it’s official – life is back to normal just in time for summer weather. The heat and humidity arrived overnight so I woke up to summer weather on Monday. Good thing I’m ready for summer knitting with all my newly stashed yarn. It’ll be another summer of socks. : )

Friday, June 13, 2014

Week 22 - Having a Ball













Monday was an early day but with a fun start. We were on the bus at 8:30 heading for Rouffignac Painted Cave, where they take you deep into a cave on a little electric train to see pre-historic paintings. It was pretty amazing. They even opened early just for us. Nice. Then we were off to Marqueyssac Gardens, which were the only gardens on the tour but I was disappointed that they were just topiaries. Green, green and more green. They did have a nice children’s garden and we had fun watching Sue mount one of the sheep sculptures. The restaurant was delicious too and we had a nice lunch served by Shane, our Irish waiter, and watched peacocks begging scraps. From there it was on to La Ferme du 4 Vents – an angora goat farm that had our one and only scheduled yarn shopping opportunity. It was a lot of fun and after we were all done shopping (that’s the best day they’ve ever had for sure), they brought out 3 bottles of champagne, which we drank under the trees. I snagged the corks to adorn my toran. Then it was back home to the chateau for dinner. It was another lovely day in France.

Tuesday was our first class with Nancy Marchant, the designer from Amsterdam who is the queen of brioche knitting. I had never done brioche so was excited to learn and then had no problem at all while others struggled. I sailed along and finished the sample. Loved it! The afternoon was free so we mostly sat outside and knitted. Go figure. Then Nancy did a talk on the Amsterdam knit scene before dinner. What’s not to like?

We spent Wednesday out and about. The morning was in Perigueux (the capital of the region), where Bruno, our French guide, did a walking tour of the Roman parts of the city then we were free for shopping and lunch. We opted for shopping first and I scored a bit of yarn at a Phildar store that was closing. It was slim pickings but since I’d bought so little yarn, I bought a few skeins that were nothing special. I then found the prefect, albeit expensive, apron for Lorri and promptly left my yarn bag at that store so had to leave my group and head back to get it. I rejoined my peeps at Monoprix, which is the Wal-Mart of France. We checked for yarn (total crap) but people did find thumb drives and we bought sandwiches and pastry to eat for dinner. Then Sue turned on her phone long enough to find another yarn shop that none of us had found while googling the night before. Since it was close to Monoprix, we headed there. Jackpot! It was a tiny shop with sewing machines and yarn – Bergere de France yarn, to be specific. I found hat kits to give to my airport transporters and a bunch of sock yarn for my knitting group. We were definitely not in the touristy part of town so found some normal stores, including one where Cindy scored t-shirts for her grandkids. We were quite a ways out so started walking toward our rendezvous point and found a wonderful restaurant where we ate lasagna and fresh crepes in a beautiful courtyard. The server was even American. It was a nice morning in Perigeueux.

When the waitress asked us where we were going in the afternoon, my response was “some chateau.” I guess we were getting chateau overload to go with the duck overload. The chateau was Bourdeilles, which was more of a medieval castle and so had rooms filled with museum exhibits rather than furnishings. I found a bench on the 2nd floor and sat the tour out. Despite having had plenty of time to relax, I was feeling spent. From there we went to Brantone, which is a beautiful town with an old abbey. We checked out the cave carvings by the abbey but didn’t have much direction on where else to go so left and found a café for tea. The shopping was minimal and I wasn’t in the mood so we headed to a park and ate our picnic dinner. Afterwards we sat in the sun on a wall by the river feeding bread to ducks and then knitting. It was a totally pleasant end to the day before boarding the bus for the ride back to Forge du Roy. Luckily Thursday wasn’t a day out.

We started with our second brioche class with Nancy – two color brioche. Again, I got it and so immediately started a real project after I’d finished the sample. After a lunch on the patio, we had another relaxing afternoon at the chateau. It was warm enough to swim so a bunch of us went to the pool where I swam a bit, did a few water aerobics moves and then sat in the pool house and knitted. That night we were headed out to a bohemian restaurant (style, not cuisine) in the chestnut woods. Most everything served was grown or raised on site and it was all amazing. We started with a violet flavored aperitif, then salad with nasturtium flowers, duck, lamb, potatoes roasted in duck fat and walnut cake for dessert with 6 different sauces to pour on, including an interesting one that was pine flavored. We ended with some home brewed l’eau de vie that was so strong that just the tiniest sip left my throat warm for ten minutes. We had to rush off because the bus driver was nearing her maximum hours for the day. Bad planning since we’d only had her for supper.  Oh well.

Friday was our last day and I was feeling some shopping pressure. I hadn’t bought a single stocking stuffer yet nor anything for Nora (who drove from Lincoln to pick me up at the airport on the Saturday I couldn’t leave) and our options would be limited since we were going to Beynac – a teeny, tiny town – to see their chateau. Since I’d been warned of the climb and had seen the hill from afar, I wanted to skip the chateau, which was another medieval one and so would be sparsely furnished if at all. Erica was on board with skipping too but when we told Philip, he gave us a big guilt trip. “If you skip the chateau, you’ll be missing something magnificent!” He said that if we walked up, we could take the bus down so we started the climb. It was the hottest day yet and the climb was not fun. The only thing magnificent was the view. The castle was as suspected and we were through it in 30 minutes. When I asked Philip where the bus was, he said it would be back at 1:15 and we were leaving town at 1:30 which meant we were stranded at the top with minimal shopping and only one café for lunch. I accused him of not thinking like a woman and started back down the hill. It was cobbled with irregular rocks and had no handrails so I did the Tim Conway shuffle ALL THE WAY DOWN! I had left Cindy and Erica in a shop up top, figuring I’d need a head start but they didn’t catch up until I was in a shop Jean had pointed out 2/3 of the way down the hill. I was first in and found a couple of scarves (check Nora off) and then we headed further down and I found 2 shops where I hit pay dirt on stocking stuffers. With that pressure off, we needed lunch and found a cute café right on the river where we had pizza and ice cream. It was just off the parking lot where the bus was too so we enjoyed our table with a view until the last possible minute. I had been a great morning despite being duped.

We were back at the chateau for a “free” afternoon. Packing. Since I’d bought so little and packed so light (it was a joy being able to do laundry, which we did twice), packing was no challenge at all. I was done in an hour and then spent the rest of the afternoon knitting on the terrace. It was hot but sitting in the shade next to a 3 foot thick stone building made it tolerable. We started the evening with a knit review under the wisteria arbor where we all showed our torans. Then it was on to our farewell dinner on the terrace. I’d been smelling hot smells from the kitchen all afternoon and was skeptical of the Indonesian rice table planned for dinner but it was the best dinner we’d had at the chateau. Everything was delicious and the wine flowed freely but it was bittersweet because for the first time ever on one of these trips, I was not ready to leave. I walked the grounds after dinner taking pics to remember my time at the chateau. I could have easily stayed another week and was sad to be going. We had an early morning though so didn’t linger long past dinner in favor of going to bed early.

We had an early breakfast and were on the coach heading to the airport at 7:00 a.m. Jean and Philip gave us their “you’re the best group we’ve ever had” speech but I think this time it may have been true. I was choked up as I hugged them goodbye. Now for the long haul home. There were more hugs when we got off the bus at Bordeaux airport but my gang – Sue, Cindy and Erica – were all on the same flight to Paris so we hung out in the gate area. Sue had booked this leg separately so had to pick up her bags in Paris, change terminals and check in again so there was some trading of seats so she’d be close to the front of the plane. I settled into my middle seat towards the back but the flight attendant came to me and said she had a better seat up front for me. I think this must have been because of the note Regina from Delta had put on my ticket to make my flights as pleasant as possible. I finished Sue’s monster socks, dubbed Never Saw Paris Socks and my way of apologizing for stranding her in Paris, on the flight and had the flight attendant deliver them to her. It was a very nice flight.

Too bad my inept travel agent put me in a middle seat in the middle section for the 10 hour flight from Paris to Minneapolis! I find it hard to believe there wasn’t an aisle seat available when I booked it in early February. Just another epic fail by Travel Leaders Omaha. Anyway, I made it through the flight, watching movie after movie and getting up whenever the man in the aisle seat did to stretch my legs or walk the aisle. There was an open area by the bathrooms where I stood for quite some time. It was all about getting through it. My connection in Minneapolis was tight considering I had to go through customs and change terminals, which I foolishly didn’t take the train for, arriving just as they were boarding. I called Lori to say I’d be in on time and she and Andrea were at Super Target so I had them get me milk and bread. There was very little food in my house so this would get me through the weekend. The last flight was uneventful (dinky plane) and I was in Omaha just before 7:00 and home by 8:00. The cats were hiding and didn’t come out until I called and called but then did and shot out the door. I puttered around a bit, took a shower and went to bed just before 10:00. Despite not wanting to leave France, it was still good to be home.

I woke up in the wee hours but was able to fall back asleep and didn’t get up until almost 8:00. I was feeling pretty good and after a bowl of cheerios, I had a normal Sunday morning and then unpacked and started laundry. I had hoped to get tons done in the house, which was a wreck, but only managed to do four loads of laundry and sit and knit. The weather was gorgeous and I was enjoying being home. I had fabulous memories of the trip – made a new friend and enjoyed hanging with the old ones, learned some fun new knitting techniques, finally went back to France and lots of my French even came back by the end of the trip. Despite all the problems getting there (must compose a scathing letter to Travel Leaders corporate), it had all worked out and I was happy. So, wait for it…. Life is good! Now to get back to work.

P.S. Click here to see all of my pictures from France.