Sunday, July 26, 2009

Week 30 - Delightfully Dull Days

What can I say, it was a typically normal week, which was exactly what I needed after my whirlwind Rhode Island trip. I did the usual stuff - knitted at the library, went to water aerobics, etc. Otherwise I watched a lot of DVD’s, catching up on Weeds and Nurse Jackie and I started Mad Men season 2, knitting all the while with the fun corn fiber yarn I bought in RI. Yes, it's another pair of socks. Work geared up at the end of the week with prepping for the closing meetings that are scheduled back to back this coming week.

The only thing of note was that when I woke up Friday, my knee felt strange and I couldn’t straighten it all the way. By lunch time, it was doing its thing. I was going up the steps at Noodles and I got a sharp stabbing pain that took my breath away. Luckily the pain was short-lived but I was leery all the same. It “hitched” twice more on Friday so Saturday I took it easy. I did mow the lawn Saturday night because it hadn’t been mown in 3 weeks. I just walked very, very slowly and got it done without a problem. I then took a muscle relaxant and slept for 11 hours, which I also needed. Sunday my knee was much better but I still didn’t do much – more TV watching and knitting (I sense a trend here) - until I met Lorri and Sarah at the library at 5:30 to do some planting. Then it was back home to bake a pie for book club and get ready for the craziest work week of my year.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Week 29 - 'twas Quite Thrilling

After the busy weekend, Carolyn and I took it easy on Monday, sleeping in and then enjoying a leisurely morning. We headed to Bob’s for lunch, stopping at Gem Ravioli for some pasta on the way. It was another gorgeous day so we sat on Bob’s lanai and chatted over lunch then headed home for, you guessed it, pasta for dinner followed by Revolutionary Road – a total downer movie, which I knew because I’d read the book.

Tuesday was our day with Auntie Margaret. We had pedicures at 11:00 (it was her first one at age 87 and she loved every minute of it!), lunch at Corner Tavern and then took her to the beauty salon for a wash, cut and set. We then hit our favorite store, the Hack and Livery. I didn’t buy much, which was disappointing because it’s usually great for stocking stuffers, but we left with sour grapefruit candy, which is always a hit. We had put the leftover pork in the crock pot so had salsa pork over rice for supper. Frost Nixon was the movie choice that night.

Wednesday was the designated Sharyn day. She’d taken the day off and her husband was dropping her at Carolyn’s on the way golfing so we’d get an early start on our annual project – reupholstering Carolyn’s dining room chairs. Yeah, right. I’d woken up with a cold so Sharyn and I headed out for Claritin D (bless the chemist who created that drug!) and Dunkin’ Donuts to keep our energy up (hee, hee.) We sorted the project out and each took our positions. I was in charge of removing the old fabric (many, many staples) while Sharyn and Carolyn cut the fabric then stretched and stapled. I hammered the staples that needed it. Now you’d think with 3 able bodied women it wouldn’t take that long to recover 6 chair seats. Well, we didn’t finish until 3:30! As Sharyn said later, “At first it was quite thrilling,” which it was, but by chair number 6, we were toast and ready to be done. We did a fantastic job though and you’d think they were professionally done. We did some shopping and, too exhausted to care, ate dinner at Burger King before heading to Attleboro to drop Sharyn off. It was a long, fun and productive day. Nothing like friends to make tedious work tolerable.

Carolyn and I had another leisurely day on Thursday, which we both needed at this point. We did do some shopping in the afternoon but mostly just vegged. I ended the day by meeting my Uncle Ed and his wife for dessert. It was a nice day.

Friday was our big planned excursion to Tiverton to hit Sakonnet Purls, the best local yarn shop in RI according to the Ravelry gang. We were also hitting Evelyn’s for clam cakes, based on a recommendation from Guy Fiori on Diners, Drive Throughs and Dives. (Is that the right order?) We had planned on it being just us but Sharyn had taken the day off because it was her 32nd anniversary but Butch, her husband, was in a golf tournament all day so we headed north to pick Sharyn up to join in the fun. Sakonnet Purls is in an old colonial house (when I say old, I mean hundreds of years old.) The problem with this is that it was hot and humid and they didn’t have AC. At least we got there early enough to stand the heat but it also was dimly lit, which doesn’t help when you’re trying to select yarn. Add to that the lack of help from the 3 staff, which was all the more perplexing because we were the only customers so it was a 1 to 1 ratio. To be fair, one woman was attentive but didn’t seem to be the yarn guru I’d hoped to find working there. Despite it all, I still managed to find more yarn for socks plus a book and Carolyn bought the softest yarn ever for a scarf.

From there we headed to Evelyn’s, which did NOT have good clam cakes and had surly staff (was it the heat maybe?) The frosting on the cake to that dining experience was the shirtless fat man who sat down with his wife and dog at the next table and then lit a cigar! Now it was picnic tables outside but come on! Was he for real? We took a wrong turn on the way home (totally my fault) and ended up in traffic on the Mount Hope Bridge, which was a bit disconcerting because we were on the bridge for 20 minutes or so, feeling it shake with every passing truck. We then hit Wayland Square, only to find out the yarn shop and cheese store we were there for were both gone. So we stopped at Starbucks for a refreshing frapucino (sp?) because it was blazing hot by this time. We decided to hit one more yarn store that we knew was open on Hope Street. Well, this shop was everything a local yarn shop should be! They were uber helpful, the atmosphere was bright and it was downright chilly. Have I mentioned the humidity? Both Carolyn and I were looking for patterns and they cheerfully brought us entire binders full of patterns sorted by type to look through. Despite having bought out Sakonnet Purls, I still managed to find more yarn I couldn’t live without (Miazy yarn made from corn fiber that is super soft without being fuzzy) and a new sock pattern. Sharyn, who does crafts galore but doesn’t knit or crochet, even enjoyed it and scoped out future projects. We’ll get her knitting if it kills us! We did a bit more shopping, dropped Sharyn with a big hug and headed home for sweet potato ravioli for supper. I then met my old friend Janice at the Creamery for a mint chocolate awful awful (a cabinet in RI speak or milk shake for everyone else.) I’ve been friends with Janice since I was 12 and it always feels like we just talked even if it’s been a year.

Saturday was my departure day so after a hearty breakfast (Carolyn makes the best scrambled eggs ever so I had to have them before I left), I started packing. I’d bought so much that I needed to upgrade to a bigger suitcase. After repacking it, I got it down to 49.6 pounds by Carolyn’s scale. She picked up Matt and Aaron, which was nice because I at least got to say hello, and an hour later dropped me at the airport. I had a 3 hour layover in Minneapolis that I wasn’t looking forward to but it was fine. I found a chair, pulled up a table and then ate the lunch I packed, finished my book and started knitting a new pair of socks with my new Maisy yarn. Everything was uneventful and I got home at 1:00 and was in bed by 2:00. It felt good to be home.

Sunday was all unpacking, changing stinky litter boxes, watering plants and doing laundry. Now it’s back to reality and work tomorrow. What a fabulous week I had. Life is good!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Week 28 - Headed Back East

I’m here in RI trying to remember what last week was all about and, at this point, it’s a blur. I spent the week cleaning up from my 4th of July cookout and preparing to leave for RI. My flight was leaving at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday so every night had to be a model of productivity. I went to bed at 9:30 on Friday, all prepared to hit the road by 4:00 the next morning.

It was blazing hot Saturday morning – 76 degrees and humid at 4:00 a.m. I made it to the airport in good time and all went well. It was a teeny, tiny jet (the kind where the middle arm rests are up in the entire plane because the airlines know even skinny people can’t fit comfortably in those seats) but took off on time so it was all good. But then it was pouring rain in Detroit so we couldn’t get to our gate so just sat on the tarmac. Once we got in and I made my way from one end of one terminal, through the underground connector (what’s with the music and light shows they play down there?) and to the extreme other end of the 2nd terminal, my flight was already boarding. After a brief potty stop, I got on that plane. They kept announcing it was a nearly full flight but it appeared half empty to me. They shut the doors right on time and announced that there’d be plenty of room because there were lots of missed connections because of the weather but they weren’t waiting for them. While this meant I had an empty seat next to me, which was nice, how pissed would I have been had I been 10 minutes later? Big time! Especially because we pulled 20 feet away from the gate and then sat there for an hour and a half because a line of storms had shut down eastern airspace. Why didn’t they wait at the gate and make all those late arrivals happy? Only Northwest knows.

It was a very bumpy flight but I still arrived in time, albeit 1.5 hours late, for the planned Ikea excursion to Stoughton, Mass. John and his friend Eileen picked me up at the airport, we stopped to get Carolyn and offload my luggage and then headed out for a lunch of Swedish meatballs and lingonberry sauce. Ikea was fun, as always, and I managed to fill a bag with stuff – about half gifts and half for me. It felt good to finally start my stocking shopping.

Now I had noticed an exit for Taunton on the way up route 24 and so made my case for going home that way so I could stop and see the soon to be demolished Taunton State Hospital. My friends humored me and we took the exit. While the hospital was surrounded by the densest, black coated chain link fence I’d ever seen, it was totally cool. There had been a fire in the admin section of the Kirkbride but there was still plenty left to see. We drove around the perimeter and then I got out and took some pictures. I was happy to get to see it before they knocked it down, which had been delayed so I called myself lucky to have seen it at all.

After our scenic ride home, we headed to Oakland Beach for take out clam cakes and chowder from Iggy’s. It was so chilly by the water that I had to take shelter in the car or risk goose bumps. Quite a change from 76 degrees at 4:00 a.m.! After we ate our RI eats, John headed to Aaron’s room to put the armoir together while Eileen and I polished off a bottle of wine (Carolyn doesn’t do wine.) The conversation was fun and a great way to end a full day.

I had made arrangements to meet Deanne on Sunday morning since it was the only free time she had my whole trip. We started at Starbucks in Garden City and then went to brunch at NYLO, a fancy new hotel in an old converted mill in Warwick. The atmosphere and conversation were great but the food, which looked so fun – cheddared polenta with poached eggs and apple wood smoked bacon – was only so so.

When I left Deanne, I stopped at the market for fresh fruit and headed home for the Cuban themed dinner party Carolyn and I were throwing at 4:00 for all our friends. Carolyn had done the lion’s share of the work – shopping, cooking and cleaning – so my only contribution other than funds was buying and prepping berries. Sheesh! We had twelve people over, including Carolyn’s friend Peter whom I’d heard so much about but had never met. It was great to hang with everyone and the food, as usual, was great – cilantro lime pork, black beans and rice, grilled veggies and flan and berries for dessert. What’s not to like? And what a great way to end my week with anticipation of more fun to come. Life is good!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Week 27 - Celebrating True Independence

Well, it was a good week for many reasons. The weather was unseasonably cool and ended with a long weekend to celebrate the 4th – what’s not to love about that? But the best thing this week was Jonathan got out of jail.

My cousin’s husband has been in jail since winter because he was the sales manager for an investment company that ended up being a ponzi scheme. The company had been shut down and Jonathan was cooperating with the SEC’s investigation when the Madoff scandal hit. The Attorney General of California saw his name in headlines and decided that all the executives under investigation should be arrested, so out of the blue, Jonathan was rounded up with 5 others and slammed in jail. With bail set at more than $3,000,000 (more headlines?) he was stuck there. His public defender was useless so while all the others had their bail reduced and got out, Jonathan languished in jail.

Well this week, after a flurry of fedexed legal documents – sign here, notarize this, fax that - he was finally able to get out. Hearing that gave Independence Day a whole new meaning.

On a more ordinary front, I had my 2nd annual 4th of July cookout. It was nice that we had Friday off so I could enjoy the preparations instead of running around stressed. It’s always a good thing to have people over because I did things I’d been putting off for too long, like going through all the paper on my desk and bar (my 2 hot spots) and getting the entire house neatized to a higher standard than normal. I had gotten a head start on Wednesday morning while I was waiting for Fedex so I had time to go the extra mile. It always takes external motivation for me to get stuff like that done. Since the cleaning lady comes tomorrow and I’m flying to RI Saturday morning, having all that done puts me ahead of the game for this week. Life is good!

The weather Saturday was weird for July – dreary with intermittent sprinkles and very cool. At least the sprinkles stopped by the end of the day and everyone (I had 21 people come this year) had a good time. I had the usual burgers, hotdogs, chips and beans and everyone brought something to share so there was tons of food. This year I bought s’mores stuff and those were a big hit. When the sun went down, it was so chilly that I had to get a blanket for one of my friend’s kids to wrap around her shoulders and we all wore sweatshirts down to watch the fireworks. It was a fun night and I cleaned up before I went to bed so I didn’t have to face a mess the next morning – so unlike me but worth the effort.

Sunday was a gorgeous day but I was tired, not having gotten to bed until 1:30. I had a leisurely day of vegging interspersed with the usual chores. I even gave up on my fancy 360 degree antenna, which worked in the dead of winter but was now useless. I was getting zero reception, not even PBS, which even comes in down in the basement with just rabbit ears. So I dug out my old satellite dish antenna and got that hooked back up and rescanned the channels. It means changing the position every time I change the channel but since I’ve gotten used to watching no TV, I figure that’s better than nothing. I also did a lot of cooking – sloppy joes, taco salad mix, yet another burger on my newly fixed grill (it had been out of commission since last summer – dumn!) Do you see a trend? I only used half of the hamburgers I made so was cooking with ground beef prior to freezing the rest. I ended the day by trying out the new mulching mower I got from my friend’s husband on a trial basis, which worked great so I will be buying it from him.

So it was a good week. By the end of this one, I’ll be enjoying a cookout at Bob’s surrounded by all my RI friends, which will be wonderful. Despite Bob’s contention that summer is over after the 4th of July, I’m looking forward to this one. I’ve only had my AC on for 5 days so far but I’m sure the heat will arrive and I’ll finally get my purse made. But if the cool weather holds, I’ll just get some more gardening done. It’s all good. Happy summer!