Monday, January 25, 2010

Week 4 - Enjoying the Flow

The week started out with the long anticipated trip to Omaha with Dodie. We’d been inspired by the decorating blogs to go to Anthropologie so planned a day of shopping and lunch centered around Regency Court, the hoity toity shopping mall where Anthropologie is. And taking advantage of being off on a weekday (so few people here celebrate MLK Day that it barely counts as a holiday), I made an appointment to get my car looked at at Superior Honda, which is where Dodie met me. From there I introduced her to Penzey’s and then we headed for Regency.

Anthropologie is the coolest store! We completely ignored all the trendy, skinny girl clothes and concentrated on the house stuff. I found two perfect things – a flower shaped hook for my hallway and a wonderful tea light holder to complete my decor8 project in the bathroom. The rest of the mall was a dud though so we headed to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch and from there went to Whole Foods, another new experience for Dodie. With our stomachs and shopping bags full of yummy, good food, we decided to call it a day and headed back to get my car. Since this was my first day feeling even remotely functional after my cold, I was happy to head towards home.

Despite being only four days long, the work week seemed endless. The clear highlight was Wednesday, when Paul Wesselmann was coming. Paul is the founder of the Ripples Project and would be doing a lunch program but I was looking forward to the 3 hour session I’d signed up for for the afternoon. I’m Paul’s biggest fan and have been to every program he’s done at UNL for years. We’ve also spoken at length a couple of times while he was walking his dog on campus and I was feeding the campus cats. I love talking to him but also think he is the most wonderful presenter! He makes you think and you leave in such an up mood, energized to go forth and do good. The afternoon session was all I’d hoped for.

Just as the day was winding down Friday, I grabbed a handful of m&m’s from Mary’s bowl, popped one in my mouth and BROKE ANOTHER TOOTH! Yes, another molar exploded, leaving a jagged edge to irritate my tongue all weekend. I’m sure it’ll require another crown, which will be my fourth one in just over a year. At this rate, there are only 4 more to blow. How’s that for looking at the bright side?

My plan for the weekend, which did not begin with scrapbooking on Friday night because I’d failed to prep for it so canceled, was to stay inside, slog through paper and do some cooking. That so didn’t work! I was watching This Old House and got inspired to figure out how to replace the burned out light bulb in my stove hood, which required removing seven screws and taking off the whole bottom. That done, I headed out in search of a replacement bulb and, having survived one night with my jagged tooth, some dental wax. Since I was out anyway, I decided to stop at Andrea’s store to pick up another ball of yarn so I could start a new lace scarf project, knowing full well that’d suck up a chunk of time. I had been there awhile when Donna called saying she was on her way over. Being her first foray out after knee replacement, I decided to stay long enough to say hi. Needless to say, we stayed at Andrea’s until she closed the store and I headed home to start slogging.

Then the phone rang. I’d mentioned my drip in the basement and Donna was calling to say she was bringing her husband over to check it out. All it needed was tightening but he wanted to let it sit a bit to see if it needed another turn. I put on the water for tea and the three of us spent the rest of the afternoon chatting. The drip was indeed fixed and I’d had a wonderful, social day but the paper was still waiting. I decided to wait until Sunday and settled in to watch some dvd’s and go to bed early.

I was up early Sunday and had the kitchen cleaned up and ready to cook before 7:00. I sat down to read the paper and watch Sunday morning TV before digging into my chores and projects. I was shocked as I watched the sun come out for the first time in weeks! I spent a glorious morning absorbing the sun, planning to be super productive all afternoon. Then the phone rang again. Nancy had time to kill in Wahoo and wanted to hang at my house. I threw a batch of cookies in the oven, started the laundry and waited for Nancy. We had a lovely afternoon catching up and I started my new scarf while we talked. By the time she left, I was well into my knitting and decided my paper project would have to wait until next weekend. I did manage to get some cooking and a few chores done before sitting down for an evening of Masterpiece Theatre. My to do list was still full but I’d enjoyed an impromptu weekend of friends and fun. Sometimes you’ve just got to go with the flow.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week 3 - Another Rotten Cold

This week was supposed to be a celebration of the return to my normal routine. Not so much! Monday night was knitting but I went to Donna's (she's recovering from knee replacement) and Andrea went to the library. Oops! But Donna and I had fun, with me doing most of the talking telling her about my St. Louis trip. Tuesday was the first day back in the pool, which felt great, but I left with an awareness of having used muscles I hadn't in a long time. Despite this, I got up Wednesday after a night of strange dreams that revolved around Menachem Begin and my neighbor's son, and packed for fitness yoga. Anne and Beth from water aerobics were going since yoga classes were free this week and I figured why not join them. Yoga is SO not for me! I couldn't do half the moves because of my knee and didn't do very well with the balancing either since I twisted my ankle last week while shoveling snow. When Anne got up to leave early for a meeting, I left too, happy to be done with that experiment.

As I was walking back to my office, it was above freezing for the first time in a month and the snow was finally melting. Listening to the drip, drip, drip reminded me of the scene in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when they notice the melting and know that the reign of the White Witch is coming to an end. That's exactly what it feels like here after the month plus of frigid weather we've had. And the good thing is it's going to be above freezing for as far ahead as they've forecast. Yay!

I woke up with a slight cough on Thursday and headed to the first of two days of training on Crystal Reports at Central. I clearly didn’t do enough zicam because by Friday afternoon, I had a full-blown cold and knew it would impact my weekend. Crap - this is my third cold since early October! By Saturday morning, I was fully congested and still had the cough and got next to nothing done all weekend except catching up on some Ravelry posting and knitting more on my socks. When I did try to get a few chores done Sunday night, it caused a half hour coughing fit. So much for having a catch up weekend. I guess this is my body’s reaction to overdoing it last weekend. My to do list will have to wait until next weekend. At least this is a short work week.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Week 2 - Traveling in Pods

The work new year always starts with deans’ reports and they were a bear this month, taking almost a day longer than usual. From there I went right back to the Facilities’ project I’d been working on before break that had a deadline of January 8th. The week flew by and I went home Friday night, exhausted, to pack.

Yes, I was flying out of town AGAIN! Connie was going to be at a conference in St. Louis and would be arriving Saturday but the conference wasn’t starting until Sunday. When she’d told me about this last month, it had seemed like a good idea to fly there and meet her. It’s the only place you can fly non-stop from on Southwest besides Chicago and I’d been wanting to try it since the super successful surprise birthday day trip to Chicago for Connie’s 50th in 2007. What was I thinking! While I wanted nothing more than to have another weekend inside vegging and knitting, instead I’d be flying out at the crack of dawn Saturday and getting home late Sunday. I powered through packing, telling myself it’d be fun (it would be) and I could relax next weekend, which would be a long one for MLK day.

I didn’t sleep much at all Friday night, worried that my car wouldn’t start because it was forecast to be –24 degrees Saturday morning and my battery is on its last legs. I had planned to get up at 5:30 and be on the road at 6:15 but was awake at 4:30, got out of bed just after 5:00 and had the car running by 5:15. Turns out I needn’t have worried, of course, but at least my car was toasty after running for a hour.

My flight arrived just after 9:00 and I headed to the hotel via the MetroLink (St. Louis’ subway.) I had made arrangements for a friend of a friend to take me out for lunch. She’s a friend of Alan Meyer’s (husband of my friend Nancy, whom I traveled to California with in October) from college and is a fantasy author. We had exchanged emails and she picked me up at noon so I only had to kill an hour at the hotel, which conveniently had a Starbucks in the lobby. We went to a fun restaurant in an old wire factory called SqWires, ate yummy brunch food and talked for hours. So I’d taken a chance and it worked out great. Connie called to say she’d landed just as Sharon was dropping me at the hotel.

Rather than spend more time waiting in the lobby, I decided to walk to the main library that we’d passed on the way back from lunch to check Ravelry for local yarn shops, something I’d meant to do before I left. It was single digit cold but I walked the seven or eight blocks, approached the desk and asked where the internet computers were. When they found out I wasn’t a St. Louis resident and didn’t have a library card, it looked like I’d gotten chilled to the bone for nothing. But they did give me a temporary internet permit so I could see if any time was free. They schedule internet time by the hour and everything was booked. The clerk sent me upstairs to the computers though to see if someone hadn’t shown up. They only had eight computers for patrons to use! EIGHT! Wahoo, which has a population that’s <5% of St. Louis’ has the same number. Sheesh! Thwarted in my attempts to get online, I decided to take some pictures of the architecture – stained glass windows, painted ceilings, carved marble – the works! I’d taken just three pics when a security guard told me I couldn’t take pictures without getting approval from PR. So much for a PUBLIC library! So I headed back to wait in the lobby but sans Starbucks this time because I’d had 4 or 5 cups of coffee at SqWires. Between all that caffeine and the walk in the frigid air, any hint of fatigue was long gone.

Big hugs when Connie arrived then we checked in and got settled. She was starving so we headed out for an early dinner at an Irish pub, complete with cider for me and Guiness for Connie, pasties for a starter and bangers and mash for supper. Yum! But it was just the prelude to the main event. I had scored Eddie Izzard tickets for that night! We both LOVE him and I couldn’t believe that he happened to be there Saturday night and wasn’t sold out. I’d only found this out and bought the tickets on Thursday so it was a total coup. We even had fabulous seats in row O of the orchestra. It was wonderful to see him in person but Connie was disappointed that he wasn’t in drag. I thought he looked great in jeans. To each his own.

We had had to take a taxi to and from the theatre because I’d been told by many sources (I even did a mini survey of the St. Louis residents on the flight to verify what I’d already heard from the theatre) that the MetroLink was not safe after dark. While the theatre was only three miles from the hotel and so didn’t cost much, I was going to have a problem on Sunday. My flight didn’t leave until 7:45 so I was looking at either taking the subway before dark and hanging out at the airport for hours or paying $30 for a cab ride to the airport. To top it all off, Connie had decided to do the pre-conference sessions Sunday afternoon (brown noser!) so I was on my own for the afternoon with nothing to do. Sheesh! With this on my mind, I barely slept that night (midnight to ~4:45.) I finally got up ~5:30, spent 2 hours reading in the bathroom, showered and dressed before Connie woke up. I had also called Southwest to see what it would cost to go back earlier. $30! So I could spend the day hanging out in the hotel and spend $30 plus tip on the cab ride or pay Southwest the $30, take the subway at 2:00 and be home by 7:00. Decision made! I changed my ticket and we headed out for some sightseeing.

You can’t go to St. Louis without seeing the arch and the cab driver had told us that the arch was only five blocks from the hotel. Well it was 7 degrees and after walking the five blocks we could see the arch but it was almost as far again to get to the base of it. We were SO cold and had to go through airport style security (minus taking off our shoes) but it was worth it. To get up the arch, they put you in strange little pods that are supposed to seat five people but felt plenty full with just Connie and me. It jerks its way to the top and you get fantastic views of St. Louis, both downtown and along the river. By the time we went through the museum and left, it had warmed up quite a bit (or so we thought) so we decided to walk back instead of grabbing a taxi like we’d planned. We took more pictures and took a different, sunnier route by the old courthouse. A guard had told us about an Italian restaurant nearby so we headed there for lunch. It was early so we had a waiter all to ourselves, sat in a sunny window and ate yummy salad, pasta and garlic cheese bread. It was a nice way to end our time together. After walking back to the hotel, we parted ways – Connie to her session and me to the airport. And the wonderful thing is I got home three hours earlier and so had time to catch up on things (like my blog) before heading to bed. I’m looking forward to getting back to a normal routine this coming week.

Week 1 - Headed Back Home

I started the week with my Auntie Margaret day. Carolyn and I picked her up, hit Job Lot (it takes a LONG time to shop with a blind lady – Love you Auntie Margaret!) and then, starving, went to Wood River Inn for lunch. I wasn’t up for my usual fried belly clam plate so we got some as an appetizer to split and all had non-fried food for our main course. Then we went to the Hack & Livery. They were out of grapefruit peels – GASP! – so we were in and out in a flash and then dropped Auntie Margaret off so we could head home for packing.

While we had foregone much of our usual shopping, I still had three stockings worth of presents plus my Job Lot treasures to fit in the smaller suitcase I had left in the attic this past summer. I do have to say, I’m a fantastic packer. Leaving out just a few items that could wait until my next trip, I sandwiched it all in and brought my jam packed suitcase and bulging carry on downstairs. Now I could relax until leaving early the next morning for the airport.

Here’s a scenario you never want to hear on a plane. “Hello ladies and gentlemen. You may have noticed that we’ve been circling. That’s because the flaps on one of the wings have twisted and so we will not be able to use flaps while landing. This means we’ll be coming in hard and fast and will only have the use of the brakes on the wheels, which will put a lot of pressure and them and they may burst into flames. We don’t want you to worry. There will be fire trucks on the tarmac but they’re only a precaution. We’ve done this kind of landing before without a problem so don’t worry.” Yeah, right! This was on my flight from Detroit to Omaha. We did come in fast and we could smell burning rubber but the tires survived the landing and I was never happier to get off a plane and get home.

I had been gone for the entire Christmas blizzard and I had parked strategically in the parking lot – facing out, end space (both intentional) and just happened to be on the northwest corner of the parking lot so my car had been scraped clean by the wind. I basically got in the car and drove out of my spot, sliding past cars that were completely encased in snow. I had also called my snow blower dude to clear my driveway while I was gone so was able to drive into the garage without incident. It was a good day!

Unfortunately the cats were miffed by being housebound for so long so I had a few messes to clean up. When I went to flush some cat poop down the toilet, it was completely clogged. Given a couple of hours, the water would go down but no amount of plunging did the trick. So, the first thing I did on my first morning at home was call the plumber to come snake my toilet. I briefly considered going to the hardware store and buying a snake to try myself but, thankfully, thought better of it. Jake, who worked on my ill-fated bathroom redo, came right away and got it unclogged. Had I not been so desperate for him to leave so I could use the toilet, I would have had him check the drip in the basement but it was the last thing on my mind at that time and so is still dripping. Like my father said when I bought my house, “Congratulations. You’ll be poor for the rest of your life.”

The rest of the week went by in the blur. While I had a huge to do list, I barely made a dent in it until the weekend. I spent the better part of three days sitting in the sun, knitting and watching dvd’s, happy to be cozy inside and only looking at the piles of snow. After sufficient rejuvenation, I got busy on the weekend and slammed through most of the short-term stuff my list. All in all, it was a nice week from beginning to end. The very best thing about working in higher ed, except maybe the butt loads of vacation, is the week off between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s a fabulous way to start the new year and 2010 is going to be a happy one.

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 Word for the Year

Last year was the first year I chose a word for the year and I struggled a bit to come up with the right one. Since focusing on “Enough” was so successful last year, I gave thought earlier and had no trouble choosing the word for 2010 –


This is my last year in my 40’s and since 2009 was a banner year for health problems (blown out knee, exploding teeth, LDL on the rise…), it’s time to concentrate on getting healthy. The obvious thing would be to lose weight but I’m not going to concentrate on that. I hope I do lose weight but don’t want something I’ve had such problems with have the potential to sabotage my broader efforts to get healthy. Here are some of my goals:

#1 – Eat healthier food– less processed food, more fruits and veggies, and just plain less! This will require lots of planning (I’ve had spurts of cooking on Sundays for the next week but it’s been sporadic) and a big effort on the fruit front (I rarely want fruit, unless it’s in a pie.) But I’m up for the task. I also plan to grow as much of my own food as possible since I’ll know exactly what went into it. That means I’ll be spending lots more time in my garden this year, as opposed to planting it and then forgetting about it so it becomes a weed pit with unpicked veggies rotting on the vine. So much for being a master gardener! More like a master procrastinator. But I digress….
#2 - Expand my exercise program. Now I’ve been doing water aerobics for years and love it but my body has gotten used to it and I’m not getting much out of it exercise wise. I’m going to ramp it up in the pool (water aerobics is all about how much effort you put into it and I’ve been just moving in water lately so it’s time to sweat!) I’m also going to explore other classes – more Power Pump with Annie – and start doing super circuit again. I’m hoping for 4 weekdays at the gym (Wednesday is my day off) and will do something to break a sweat on the weekends. Maybe I’ll get my bikes out once it warms up a bit.
#3 - Lastly, I’m going to be more pro-active on medical stuff. Now that vaccines are available, I’m going to get an H1N1 shot and I’ll schedule my mammogram. I’m sure I’ll come up with other ideas for this goal.

I’ve always been a goal oriented person. For years it was to buy a house, which morphed into moving to Nebraska. Both done. Then I got involved at the library and spent lots of time working toward getting the new library built. That goal, although not personal, replaced the house goal. Once the library was built, I was completely burned out and started backing off on library stuff, which I’ve successfully done and am down to just Treasurer of the Foundation and a member of the Friends. Now it’s time for a new goal and having given so much energy to the library for years, it’s time for a personal goal again. I did consider making getting healthy my next goal a few years ago but never did much about it. I did make some changes for the better but nothing as focused and coordinated as this. I figure that getting healthy will benefit every area of my life so it’s time. And if I can get a handle on my health, I’ll have lots more energy for my next goal. Any ideas?