Sunday, May 31, 2009

Week 22 - Made My Deadline

Well, it’s May 31st and I got it all done. Between my 5 day weekend over Memorial Day and 2 solid days this weekend, I did just about everything on my short term to do list. I can now face the summer without feeling overwhelmed. Life is good!

After I blogged last Monday morning, I got busy outside and did the heaviest day of gardening of the 5 days. I extended the bed I started last year on the south side of the deck all the way around to meet up with the bed by the air conditioner. I was having trouble mowing around the step and the grass there had taken a beating during the deck construction so its time had come. I dug the grass up by hand, sifted off what soil I could salvage, mixed that with compost, peat and old rabbit food (it had gotten wet and so I used it as a nitrogen source. Hell, why not?) and put it back in. Then I started planting – some stuff I’d bought specifically for that bed and other things I gleaned from other beds in the yard. Once that was done I mulched the entire bed so it’s one continuous bed all around the deck. It looks much better but boy was I pooped!

I purposely scheduled planting the wildflowers at the library until my last day of vacation, knowing that no matter how tired I was, I’d show up. Lorri and Barb, another master gardener, came to help so it only took a couple of hours. Luckily it was completely cloudy and actually chilly so that made it easier. Once I was done there, I headed home to relax for the afternoon of my last day off. It was a VERY productive long weekend.

The work week flew by (go figure – it was only 3 days long!) I was filling in for Belinda so had to fill 3 feeding stations before work every day so that meant leaving earlier, which is always hard for me. I did water aerobics twice and then exercised my “just say NO” muscle and did not go scrapbooking on Friday. Instead I went home to get ready for the home stretch weekend, determined to get all my projects done by month end.

I got up bright and early on Saturday and went to the library to water the wildflowers with Lorri. That done, I headed home to put in my vegetable garden. I worked at it all day, taking lots of breaks because my body still had residual aches from the previous weekend. Slow but sure I got it weeded, tilled by hand and planted. I snapped a picture to commemorate the event because the garden never looks better than when it’s first planted – before the weeds set in. But that won’t happen this year because this will be the year I mulch everything and weed whatever comes through, right? I live in hope.

Sunday I got most of my chores done, on what amounted to a “normal” Sunday – something I haven’t had all spring. It was hot and windy so I even hung the clothes out on the line, making Al Gore proud and getting sweet smelling sheets in the bargain. I didn’t get any cooking done because it was just too hot - pushing 90 but not humid. It wasn’t worth putting the a/c on because it’s going to be back in the 70’s after the weather breaks tomorrow. It’s been a weird May with lots of 80 and 60 degree days but not too many 70’s. At least I’m saving on my electric bill.

So now my time sensitive gardening is done, my house is in reasonable order and I’m ready to face life head on. My old friend Patti used to kid me because I was forever turning over new leaves – new year’s, beginning of summer hours (which would have been Tuesday if I still worked at Brown), new fiscal year, end of summer hours or any month when Monday was on the first. Well, guess what tomorrow is - Monday June 1st! And here I am ready to start anew. : )

Monday, May 25, 2009

Week 21 - Reclaiming My Life

Well, it Monday morning so, although it’s Memorial Day and I’m smack in the middle of my “5 days to reclaim my life weekend,” it’s time to blog. Most of last week was spent getting prepared to kick ass on my long weekend to do list.

I dropped Dottie at the airport on Monday and immediately hit a bakery for a long overdue carb fix (Dottie’s newly diagnosed with diabetes so I’d eaten nothing sweet for the entire time she was here, even skipping the Dodge Bakery on our trip to Bluebird – sacrilege!) I stopped at a couple of thrift stores on the way home for old time’s sake. I found a few things but nothing like I used to score but I did bump into an old friend at the Goodwill in West Omaha, which was nice.

The rest of the week was spent going to water aerobics 3 days in a row and then heading home to make lists. My goal was to stop on the way home Thursday and get everything I needed to be super productive all weekend. Thursday ended on a nice note, which felt like a perfect beginning for my fun (actually chore) filled weekend. I had decided to eat my lunch, which I hadn’t eaten because I went out with Dodie at the last minute (Noodles, where else?), on the CBA bench while feeding treats to my campus cats. I was hoping to find Jay, my errant cat, who had shown up for the first time in weeks that morning. After I ate and exhausted my bag of kitty treats, I decided to walk around and see if I could find Jay, who was a no show again. It was a gorgeous night and campus was pretty deserted. While searching for Jay (I never did find him), I bumped into Paul Wesselman, the Ripples guy, walking his dog. He was in town on his way back from his latest leg of the uROCK Road Trip. We ended up chatting for a long time, sitting on the CBA bench while his dog Wendel and the cats eyed each other. It was a nice start to my mini-vacation. I did a Wally World run on the way home and stocked up on everything I’d need to reclaim my life. Yay!

Friday found me enjoying coffee outside on the deck while I made many, many lists of everything I needed to do. Now this included long term lists (Summer Projects), lists for my handyman, and plenty of short-term goals sorted by topic – gardening, housework, cooking, etc. It was just what I needed to get my head around what was possible to accomplish in 5 days. I started in the kitchen and was just finishing up when Helen called (OMG!) She was at the drive through coffee shop (yes, Wahoo has one) and asked if I wanted anything. One order for a half-caff skinny latte later, and she was at the door. We sat on the deck and chatted for awhile and then went to the Wiggie (the Wigwam CafĂ© on Main Street, which is actually 5th Street in Wahoo) for lunch. We talked for hours and practically closed down the place. It was great to catch up with Helen, since I rarely see her anymore. You would think that getting such a late start would have hampered my productivity for the day but NO! I went home and finished most of my inside chores and caught up on some paperwork, plus mowed the lawn, leaving the other outside stuff to fill the rest of my time off.

I spent Saturday and Sunday getting tons done. I made yet another list, chopping things up into daily chunks that included some gardening, which I’m trying to limit to smaller projects so my knee doesn’t act up*, some inside projects and some cooking. So far I’ve accomplished the following:
  • Planted all my containers. I’d say it’s well over 30 this year so it took 2 days and included removing all the plants that I overwinter ed inside and cleaning up after that.
  • Cleaned up the driveway, complete with dismantling the rotten bench and (gasp!) using RoundUp to kill the vinca growing in the crack between the driveway and foundation plus all the weeds in the driveway cracks. I also delivered my old bistro table and chairs to Lorri, who was looking for one for her new patio.
  • Swapped out my winter and summer clothes, creating in the process a big pile of Goodwill donations that I’ll drop tomorrow in Lincoln on my way to book club.
  • Ran all my errands and paid all my bills.
  • Cooked up a storm (it seems like I’ve been eating crap for weeks so having homemade yogurt, stuff for lunches and healthy dinners to nuke after water aerobics will be wonderful!)

All in all, I’m pleased with my progress so far. The house is looking good, the yard is way better and my to do list is cut in half. All this productivity has been interspersed with enough vegging (thanks to whoever recommended Burn Notice. I’ve watched 2 DVD’s of season 1 and have really enjoyed it) to keep it feeling vacation-ish. Now I’ve done my blog post so I’ll cross that off and get busy on my list for my last 2 days off. Happy Memorial Day!

*A brief knee update – I had an MRI a week ago and went to the new knee doc on Thursday afternoon to get the results. He said I do NOT have arthritis but just some wear and tear, including some tattering (I think that’s the word he used but it could have been “ragged”) on one side of my meniscus. Since the mobic I’m taking is working for the pain, there’s no need to do surgery. I’m to take the anti-inflammatory long-term and only go back if it stops working for the pain, at which point he’ll reevaluate for surgery. In the meantime, I just have a bum knee and need to be careful not to make it worse, hence the limited duration of my gardening stints. Aging sucks!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Week 20 - Dottie's Fun Visit

The highlight of the week was clearly Dottie’s visit. As usual, her flight was late but this time it was only by 2.5 hours, which actually worked out better for me because I got to go to Paul Wesselman’s (the Ripples guy) event at UNL. Anyway, by the time Dottie got in and we stopped for supper at McFoster’s and then at the market to buy low carb everything, it was late enough that we opted to head home rather than see Angels and Demons, our movie pick for this year.

Saturday we set the alarm for 7:00 because we were headed to Bluebird Nursery in Clarkson to pick up the wildflower plugs for the library’s prairie planting. Nancy and Lorri were coming along so we had a schedule of pick ups to keep to. We arrived in Clarkson and headed to the wholesale offices to pick up the plugs. Harlan Hamernik, the founder of Bluebird, was there so I told him “Hello” from our friend Susan. Well one thing led to another and he brought us 2 additional flats of his own plants to add to the prairie, including some baptisia minor that isn’t even on the market yet. Score! Before we even hit Gardenland to buy plants for ourselves, the Fit was pretty full. By the time we were done, there were plants everywhere.

We had a few other stops along the way – the butcher in Clarkson, Toman’s City Market, for some of their yummy hotdogs and sausage, lunch in a bowling alley in Dodge when we found our usual restaurant closed, and finally a bait shop in Fremont on a quest for crawdads and minnows for one of Nancy’s kids for a school project. We had fun everywhere we went and here are a couple of things we didn’t expect to hear when we headed out that morning:
“Can you hold your meat and smile?” (I said when taking the butcher’s picture)
“Wow, a free slug!” (Nancy at the bait shop)
We got a tour of Nancy’s house (a fabulous Victorian in the boonies) and then went home to enjoy some tea on the deck. Dottie wanted to go to the movie that night but I was sick of driving and didn’t want to face another trip in the car (the closet theatre is 25 miles away – this is not New Jersey!), so we watched DVD’s at home and got to bed late.

Sunday we started the day with Helen and Charlie at Rezac’s for breakfast. Later, we hit the Venice Antiques sale, where I scored the most wonderful potting bench. I had just mentioned to Dottie over tea the previous day that I should either get a new rabbit or take the cage down and get a potting bench. How perfect! From Venice we went to Angels and Demons (good movie) then met Helen and Charlie at Farmer Brown’s for prime rib. It was only 4:30 so we ate with all the blue hairs. This time was specifically chosen so we could be home in time to watch the Survivor finale. J.T. won – yay! We went to bed and didn’t set an alarm for the first time. I was looking forward to sleeping in (yeah, right) since our only plan Monday was to grab lunch and drop Dottie at Eppley by 1:00. It was a whirlwind weekend but lots of fun.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Week 19 - Half as Busy

Well, I can’t say I said no much this week but then I didn’t get asked for anything. So, I’ll continue to practice in my head for now. It was a much less full week. The only two commitments I had during the week were knitting on Monday (not really a commitment but something I enjoy so won’t be saying “no” to) and the awards dinner on Thursday. I managed to get some more yard work done and even mowed my lawn for the first time. So despite not exercising my “no” muscles, I still managed to have a nice week.

The Ties & Tails Dinner was interesting. Husker Cats was getting an award so the entire original steering committee went. It was your typical rubber chicken event but the unique thing, which is a wonderful fund raising idea, was you had to buy your dessert at a live dessert auction. Our table pooled all our cash and came up with $75, which wasn’t enough to win anything we wanted to eat. So when the lemon cake came up for bid, I pulled out the check I had in my back pocket just in case and started bidding. We won with a $100 bid, $34 of which was my money. I didn’t know it but it was from Le Quartier, my fave French bakery, so we lucked out. It was super yummy! And since I’d paid the lion’s share, I got to bring home the leftovers. : )

The award itself, was a bit anti-climactic. We were told it was a big deal but it was the last item on a long program so by the time Richie got up to accept it, lots of people had already left and those who hadn’t were chomping at the bit. They didn’t even let Richie say anything – they just handed him the monstrosity (a huge, heavy box thingie with a cement dog and cat on it – what are they thinking?) and took his picture. Done! Oh well, I was happy to be getting out of there. It was after 10:00 on a school night and I still had to drive home.

Saturday was Connie’s graduation so I headed to Peru. I was not looking forward to it but it ended up being a fun day. They did the master’s degrees first so I boogied out as soon as they started the bachelor’s and sat in the sun reading for the rest of the ceremony, getting up to meet Connie as the grads recessed out of the gym (yes, I was sitting on a bleacher – hokey!) We then popped into a fancy reception at the President’s House (I was underdressed) and then back to Connie’s to change. We headed to Rockport, MO for a late lunch then went to Star Trek in Nebraska City. It was a really fun movie, and not just for big trekkers like me. After leaving Connie’s, I headed to Lincoln to drop in at Susan’s. We sat on lawn chairs in her nearly empty house and chatted for a couple of hours. It was nice to catch up. I got home around midnight but got enough sleep to be relatively productive on Sunday with some nice relaxing interspersed throughout the day. The end of a pleasant week.

There was one down note to the week though. Figaro, the super sweet cat who arrived on my deck one morning and stayed for 3 weeks before I gave him to Ted and Nora, was hit and killed on Wednesday morning. They’d only had him 10 days but Drew, their six year old, loved that cat and would sit on the step and tell him stories. It was very sad and made for a hard day at work. I’ve been very emotional lately anyway, I think from being so busy and tired, so fought tears on and off all day.

Today’s the beginning of another week. The pool is closed for annual maintenance so I’m focusing on doing more yard work and getting ready for my sister to arrive on Friday. And I’ll be practicing saying “no” for whatever comes up next.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Week 18 - Just Saying No

Or that’s the plan anyway. It was another maniacally busy week this past week, with things scheduled back to back in almost every spare minute I had. Work had been stressful at the end of the previous week and Monday and Tuesday were more of the same. After work Monday I had a Husker Cats meeting then knitting at the library, Tuesday was water aerobics, which I dragged Connie to, and then dinner at Texas Roadhouse, after which I stopped at Nora’s to pick up the cat carrier she’d borrowed and ended up standing outside talking ‘til dark. I got home at 9:30 and collapsed. It was only Tuesday and all my stored energy from my relatively relaxing weekend was already gone.

The tipping point was an email I got on Tuesday from the President of Friends of the Library where, by the end of the exchange, what had started out as me picking up some computers that had already been researched and chosen by someone else turned into a request for me to do comparison shopping around Lincoln for a better deal. I read that and decided then and there, I’m just going to say “No!” To that email and as much else as is humanly possible. Let me tell you though, that’s easier said than done.

I had a hair appointment on Wednesday at 5:00 so was actually home early and was finally able to start working in the yard. I got the strip between the sidewalk and the street, which is called “the parking” in Nebraska, all cleaned out and clipped back so the front of the house looked much more presentable. Thursday was water aerobics again and a nice relaxing night of TV (gotta love Survivor!) Friday was another good night of post-pool food shopping and TV watching. I could get used to this.

Saturday dawned warm and gorgeous so I spent the entire day in the backyard, making a big dent in my gardening. I felt good about what I’d done but there’s still a daunting amount left. I went to bed feeling tired but in a good way, hoping I hadn’t done enough to make my knee act up. I knew I had to get up early and get all my weekly chores done and have tea ready for 2:00, when Nancy and a woman she’d met at a beekeeping were coming over. I cranked and got everything done and had a batch of blueberry muffins baked and all my china ready to take out to the deck. The woman was lovely and we had a great time. But here’s where I failed my first “just say NO” test.

When Melissa left, Nancy and I were chatting and I told her she could have plants from my yard. She wanted them right then and I said, very wimpily, “I’m not up for that now.” Yeah, like that worked! Before you know it, Nancy was digging up plants and I was searching for pots and bags. Since I had wanted no part of it, I was not happy and became a caustic, passive-aggressive bitch. When she finally did leave with the few plants she’d dug up, I sat and wallowed, pissed that I’d been such a pushover and that I’d taken it out on Nancy. I hadn’t finished wallowing and Connie arrived for the night, having arranged to stay over earlier in the week since she needed to be in Lincoln both Sunday and Monday. I was too tired to make more than bacon and eggs for dinner and then Connie and I chatted until bedtime. The plan was that she would sleep in so I could get ready for work and be out the door before she was up. I was hoping for a full night’s sleep. Ha!

At bedtime, Wrennie, my noodge cat, wasn’t in her usual spot. I didn’t give it much thought and went to bed. Well apparently she was locked in the spare room with Connie. The cat woke up in the middle of the night and, not being able to get out of the room, took a big old dump in the middle of the throw rug. I woke up to lights blazing, the toilet flushing and Connie asking if I had something to spray for the stink. She had already cleaned it up but had the rug rolled up in her hand. I did a totally white trash thing and threw it out the front door and attempted to go back to sleep. Fat chance! Connie was sleeping like a baby and I was wide awake at 4 something in the morning. I finally got up at 5:30 and was too exhausted to do my normal blog post – please accept my apologies, Sharyn. I watched some TV and headed to work in a semi-comatose state to face my first full week of saying NO. Stay tuned for next week’s post and we’ll see how it went. Wish me luck.