Sunday, September 27, 2009

Week 39 - Tame and Gone

This past week started with me waking up in Fergus Falls, Minnesota to the sound of rain. I was there to photograph the old insane asylum and needed to be on the road 7:30-ish to make it home in time for my dentist appointment. I had a yummy breakfast at Debbie’s Home Style Cooking, which was right next to my hotel, and was on my way to the hospital before 7:00. Since it was raining, the sun coming up didn’t make much difference and it was dark for taking pictures. But I used the night setting and braced my camera on the car window to get what shots I could. As always with a Kirkbride, it was an impressive building and, rain or not, I was happy to be there. As I was leaving, for some reason I turned back into the grounds and went up to the front door, got out in the rain and found a phone number to call for tours on Fridays at 2:00. It clearly wouldn’t work out for this trip but I was happy I found it for future reference. I hit the road at 7:45 and settled in for the 7 hour ride home.

I got to Wahoo at 2:30, with 30 minutes to spare before my dental appointment. I’m happy to say that the permanent cap was installed without event and is still, 6 days later, firmly in my mouth. Yay! I was so bone tired when I got done at the dentist that I went home and sat like a blob until bedtime, skipping knitting and only half unpacking.

One thing I had worried about being away for four days was losing all the progress I’d made taming the kitten. I needn’t have worried. The kitten was meowing at the door when I got home and spent much of my first two nights back sleeping on the bed with me. So, I went home Wednesday determined to tame her. I sat up in bed with my legs under the covers and started throwing tuna treats onto the bed, getting her closer with each treat. After about half a bag, I was able to pet her on the back and that’s all it took. She decided that felt pretty good and within minutes she let me pet her all over and under the chin. Done! Now she had to go the vet on Tuesday and then she’d be ready for her new home.

The only other thing of note for the rest of the week was Friday night. I’d had a pretty normal work week, feeling less tired every day. Since Friday was homecoming, I decided to take a half day of vacation so I could get out of town before the craziness started. I left work just before 2:00 (I know, not quite half a day), did some shopping and headed home to start my chores. Because I had been away the previous weekend, I was behind on everything and so had a full weekend planned of getting things done. I was in full swing and left the house to water at Lorri’s, stopping at the Warehouse on the way to see what had come in that day. Well, I bumped into Donna from knitting and her husband and before you know it, I was headed to the Vets’ Club for a beer. Now the Vets’ Club is a Wahoo institution but I’d never been there in my 13 years here. It’s a basement bar that’s homey and, typical for Nebraska, the customers ran the gamut from old people playing cards to families with kids. Two beers and lots of good conversation later, my night was shot. Oh well, I had two more days.

I was pretty productive both days, catching up on laundry, neatizing, mowing and doing some cooking. Minimally, I had to make a lasagna for book club at my house on Wednesday. I was in the home stretch when the phone rang Sunday afternoon. The woman who was taking the kitten was in Lincoln and wanted to come see her. But when I heard she wouldn’t be back in the area for another 3 weeks, I made a phone call and Belinda and I decided the kitten could go to her new home without going to the vet first as long as Jessica promised that she would be taken to the vet. Since the woman adopting her is in the vet tech program at NCTA (Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture), it seemed like a safe bet. So I put my chores aside and spent some quality time with the baby kitty before Jessica came to take her. I was a bit sad to see her go but will enjoy having my spare room back (I’ll have the cleaning lady spend lots of time in there on Tuesday) and sleeping in my own bed again. Now to get rid of mama kitty. One down, one to go.

Despite the interruption, I did get the lasagna made and the most important chores done plus made yummy homemade mac & cheese for supper. I’ll just have to be productive the next two nights to be ready for book club on Wednesday. Oh, and I need to finish the book. I’d better go read some now. : )

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week 38 - North Dakota Bound

Had I not ended the week with a 700 mile drive to North Dakota to visit Connie, there were a couple of other titles I could have chosen. Jam O’Rama because I made elderberry jelly and prepped wild plums I picked at the side of the road to add to the pear jam I made last weekend. Or My Kryptonite Spit because my temporary crown fell out 3 more times last week (for a total of 5!) But North Dakota had to win.

Having started and ended my day Thursday in the dentist’s chair, I was scrambling Thursday night to get packed and ready to leave first thing Friday. Had I not made a list, I would have forgotten something for sure. But I watched the premier of Survivor (like I’d skip that!), got everything done and got enough sleep so as not to be dangerous on the drive. After a few morning to do’s and another stop at the dentist (the metal part of the 12 hour old cap had come off while eating eggs for breakfast!), I hit the road armed with snacks and books on tape.

I had never been north of Sioux City, Iowa so most of the trip was new territory for me. South Dakota looks much like Nebraska and was uneventful. After driving north for 7 hours, I turned west at Fargo. North Dakota was so empty – no people, no towns – and more brown than Nebraska. The main crop is sunflowers but they were already drying so what would have been gorgeous when they were yellow was just more brown. After a brief stop in Jamestown to check out their state hospital (all boring, newer buildings), I made it to Dickinson just after 6:00 mountain time.

It was great to see Connie but her apartment was a disaster, with boxes everywhere, little furniture and holding an air of someone who’d moved in days ago rather than weeks. Oh well, I could fix that. We did a tour of Dickinson and went to a nice dinner at The Brick House, which is a far better restaurant than anything in Lincoln despite the comparatively tiny size of the town (<16,000 people.) Sheesh! I begged fatigue, blew up the inflatable mattress I’d brought and went to bed early.

I woke up at 6:00, which was actually late because of the time change, ate a day old donut and coffee and started looking around. By the time I woke Connie at 7:30, I had a plan. We rearranged her plants (she has tons so this was no small task) and then headed west to the badlands.

Dickinson and points west have a totally different feel than the rest of North Dakota – browner, wilder and more beautiful. We stopped first at the Painted Canyon, which is a smaller version of the Grand Canyon that is gorgeous. You drive over a hill and there it is spanning the highway. We got out at the visitors center and took lots of pictures then got in the car to head to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, just a few miles down the road. The entrance is in the cheesiest little fake wild west town but once you enter the park, you forget all about Medora. There’s a 36 mile loop drive that heads through the park, which is spectacular! There are prairie dog villages all along the loop and I made Connie stop at so many of them, she was losing patience. There are just hundreds of hillocks in a field, each with a hole in them and the prairie dogs pop up and down, calling to each other. You can get as close as 10 feet before they scurry down their holes. I couldn’t get enough! We saw 2 buffalo (excuse me, bison) close up – they are HUGE – and a herd further away. It was so cool. There’s no way to describe what a wonderful morning it was. After enjoying a buffalo burger for lunch, we headed back to Dickinson.

We looked at the 3 furniture stores in town for a small loveseat but everything had that enormous, puffy look so we gave up, stopped at the market for supplies then headed back to Connie’s to start working. I won’t go into gory detail but suffice it to say, after 3 hours we had touched every box and piece of furniture in the place and everything was where it belonged, even if that meant the boxes of books were on the wall where the yet-to-be-purchased new bookcases would be. We even did a wee bit of Décor8’ing so that the hallway, which is the first thing you see when you open the door, is a thing of beauty with art work hung and the lone piece of furniture looking like something from a magazine. After tons of shrimp cocktail, a salad and a couple of glasses of wine, we hit DQ for a blizzard then settled in to watch Mermaids, one of the many dvd’s Connie has and one of the 2 loose ones we found while moving boxes.

Sunday we ate a big breakfast then headed to Bismarck in separate cars for Connie’s birthday party at her sister Michele’s. She made knoefflah (sp?) soup, a German specialty that tastes like clam chowder without the clams, and a scrabble birthday cake that was cute. After we ate, we went on a driving tour of Bismarck, which included going down to the Missouri river, where I should have gotten out and put my feet in but didn’t. I left Bismarck at 6:00 for the drive to Fergus Falls, Minnesota – my stopping point for the night so I could get home for my 3:00 dentist appointment Monday. I stayed at a Super 8 and was in bed by 10:00. It was the end of a full week but still a long way from home. More on that next week.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Week 37 - Rejecting the Bling

It was a short week and it flew by but there was nothing normal about the four days.

At the pool on Tuesday, my friend Cheryl told me that there was tame kitten outside of Canfield (the building I work in) when she left. So instead of heading home to watch Hell’s Kitchen, I headed over in search of the kitten. It couldn’t have been easier. From 100 feet away I spotted her sitting under a bush. She was a short haired dilute calico about 5 months old and walked right up to me purring. While she dug into the food I’d brought, I tried to call Belinda – my Husker Cats cohort who lives in town and is always handy with a trap or cage. When she didn’t answer, I had the bright idea to call Troy, the man who was in line to adopt the kitten who’s living in my spare room. He was great! I asked if he would take this cat instead AND come right then. And he did. Crisis averted! He got a sweet cat and I didn’t have to figure out what to do with her when I already have mama kitty (newly dubbed Big Eddie from Gray Gardens) roaming my house and the kitten (you guessed it, Little Edie) in my spare room and no other options for segregating another cat. Since it was already so late, I stopped on the way home and picked the elderberries in the ditch that I’d had my eye on all summer.

Now to Wednesday - the day flew because I was feverishly working on a deadline project for one of the accountants. I was eating an inordinate amount of m&m’s that afternoon so had the bright idea to chew a piece of gum – something I hadn’t done in a year or more. All was going swimmingly (you can’t eat candy with gum in your mouth) until my bling tooth popped out. I hadn’t equated the dentist's warning to not eat anything chewy or gooey with gum. Damn! Luckily he could fit me right in so I left work at 4:00 and headed to the dentist. He glued it back in and I was on my way. Unfortunately, the disruption killed what is normal a productive night for me, despite the fact that I was home a bit early.

I made up for it Thursday night and got all kinds of things crossed off my to do list. I was gearing up for a productive weekend that would start with a much needed shopping trip so I went through my coupons, made lists, gathered returns (2 years worth) and generally got organized. Friday found me with a great attitude, almost done with my project for Jenny, ready to tackle some training documentation and looking forward to the weekend. I was at lunch with Layton, enjoying the Cracker Barrel fish fry with turnip greens and hashbrown casserole, when my damn fake tooth popped out again! This time on hashbrown casserole, which is practically pre-chewed. I called the dentist when I got back to work but they were closed for the afternoon so I left a message. The afternoon flew by and I hung with the kitties for a bit (I had saved them a piece of fish) before heading to Wal-Mart. They had recently remodeled the store and I had trouble finding things, plus they appear to have greatly reduced the amount of stuff on the newly shortened shelves. I left frustrated with only half the items on my list. My dentist called at 9:30 and was willing to do my tooth then but I’d already showered and was in my jammies so we made plans for the morning.

That night I slept in the spare bedroom, taking the next step to try and tame Little Edie (it’s not going well – she’s as freaky as ever and wants nothing to do with me.) Well, with none of my cats to wake me, I slept until almost 8:30, which was not good because the dentist had said he’d call between 8:00 and 9:00 and I should be ready. I quickly got dressed and slammed down a bit of cereal before he called. I was in the chair longer this time because he had to remake the fake tooth (maybe it’d been chomped on one too many times?) before gluing it in. From there I went to a Friends of the Library meeting, then out for an early lunch with my friend Lorri. We were supposed to work on the Hansen House gardens after lunch but she needed some time so we planned to meet after 3:00. I went home to write an article for the master gardener newsletter (I’m cramming to do my last few volunteer hours before the October 1 deadline) then met Lorri and gardened for a few hours. Since I was already a grubby mess and had been fortified by a soft serve from BK (they’re surprisingly good), I went right home and mowed. By the time I was done and showered, I was ready for an evening of sitting on my butt.

Having killed my entire Saturday with volunteer efforts, that left a lot to get done on Sunday. Granted, I spent a chunk of time on the phone but laundry, dishes, making flight arrangements for my trip to Carmel next month with Nancy and paying bills took up most of the afternoon. I then had a choice – Decor8 the hutch, which had been the plan, or make jam with the soon to be rotted pears Lorri had given me. The pears won. Other than having to go to Lorri’s for more pears (most of the first batch were too far gone), it didn’t take long to make the jam, something I should remember the next time I’m lamenting that most commercial jams are loaded with high fructose corn syrup. The hutch will have to wait. And since I’m headed to North Dakota next week, which was moved up a week due to Connie’s schedule, it’ll be waiting awhile. Life goes on.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Extra – Décor 8, Merry 1

My friend Dodie told me about the blog Décor8 (I’ve linked it on my blog list), which is full of fun decorating ideas, with everything pure white and just a few well placed, perfectly coordinated objects being the predominate theme. Last week over lunch we were discussing decorating and while neither of us thinks the sparse, white and gorgeous look is attainable in our homes, we did talk about decorating and the age old problem of getting used to things the way they are, even if that means staring at things in boxes or, my particular problem, surfaces covered with clutter rather than some of the cool stuff I have that’s packed away. We both made a pact to start actual decorating in our houses.

My goal for this past weekend was to tackle the wall cabinet in my bathroom – a small job that was a good place to start since it wouldn’t take long. So, I spent a chunk of my Labor Day actually doing the project. It took me much longer than I had planned and involved a shopping trip to every store that was open in Wahoo looking for a clear votive holder. Having failed to find one, I went with a cobalt blue one that I had and that lead to an expedition to the basement in search of things to match it. Having recently gone through my craft room, I was able to quickly locate the perfect piece of lace (bought in the early 80’s for a peasant blouse I never made!) to cover the doors, thereby hiding my less than attractive but necessary toiletries. All in all, I am pleased with the outcome and so wanted to share my before and after pictures with you all.

My pledge is to keep this up one small project at a time. If I don’t post more soon, please remind me of this pledge. : )

P.S. Despite reading this blog for some time, I didn’t make the leap from Décor8 to decorate until last Friday. Sheesh!

Week 36 - Another Busy Week

It was another busy week. I know, my friends say I’m always busy but this week seemed even busier. So much so that I only got to the pool one night!

As usual, I knitted on Monday, or should I say crocheted because I’d gotten an invite to my friend Maria’s baby shower that afternoon and it was for Saturday! Damn good thing I had a half done blue baby afghan in the basement, which I dragged out and started working on. I had a dentist appointment at 3:00 on Tuesday, where I got my gansta tooth – a bright silver temporary crown that’s so far back that no one but me can see my mouth bling. It makes me smile. Wednesday at 5:00 was an eye doctor appointment that lasted and hour and a half! I finally got to the pool on Thursday and went from there to dinner (salad at Panera) and a movie (District 9, which disappointed me – interesting plot but the violence and gore were so over the top as to be laughable at times, plus the dolby was not what I’d hoped it would be.) Friday I had intended to go swimming but ended up working late, which was the perfect cap on a maniacal week (deans reports usually take 2 of us 1 day but this month took 3 days for all the problems we had.) It worked out though because I had a lot to do when I got home and actually made it home earlier for having skipped the pool.

I had offered to bring pickle roll ups for the shower and Maria asked me to bring a banana cream pie – how could I refuse a pregnant friend? What she didn’t know was I’d already gotten all the ingredients to make a lasagna so she’d have dinner for a few nights. So I had 3 things to cook and an afghan to finish, wash and wrap all before noon on Saturday. Because did I mention the shower was in Grand Island 100 miles away? I made the pickle roll ups and the cream for the pie on Friday night then sat down to finish the afghan while watching Twilight because Maria is Twilight obsessed and the shower had a Twilight theme. I figured I’d better watch the movie if there was any hope of participating at the shower.

I got up early on Saturday to finish the pie (she’d requested a graham cracker crust and a meringue top, which is neither easy nor normal) and make the lasagna, throwing the afghan in the laundry since it smelled musty from its years in the basement. I was done with everything and walked out of my kitchen, which looked like a bomb had gone off, right on time for the 2 hour ride. I was going to Maria’s first to drop off the food before heading to the shower. My ulterior motive was to have some one-on-one time with Maria before the gang scenario of the shower.

The shower went well. Maria seemed to like the afghan, there was plenty of yummy food, including some Mexican specialties from Maria’s mom, and they decided against the Twilight games so my ignorance wasn’t a problem. After the shower I went back to Maria’s and we sat on the deck and chatted. The weather was perfect and it felt good to relax. The ride home was uneventful, which is all I could ask for.

Sunday I did my usual morning routine (reading the paper, watching CBS Sunday morning, etc.) but when I usually get up and get moving, I couldn’t summon the energy to do anything. I sat on my butt knitting and watching whatever was on TV (and it was slim pickings, let me tell you) but I wasn’t enjoying it and was feeling guilty. The kitchen still was a disaster but at least I’d managed to throw some ribs in the crock pot so I’d have supper. Finally at 4:00 I guilted myself into getting busy and headed outside to repot plants. I had all the sad plants that Connie had made me take when she moved (all white from lack of nitrogen and many planted several inches too deep in pots that were too large) plus my African violets, which had been taking a beating from being in the cat room. It took me 3 hours and they all looked better when I was done. I ate some ribs, which I turned into pulled pork and added black beans too so served it over Trader Joe’s harvest blend grains with cheese – yum! – and watched Frozen River while knitting. I went to bed without having cleaned the kitchen but at least I could say I’d accomplished something. Lorri and I had made plans for an early morning walk and breakfast the next day, which would get me up, dressed and out the door early, plus get me pumped to have a productive day. There was no doubt I’d be laboring on Labor Day.