Sunday, April 25, 2010

Week 17 - Spring Affair Fun

Spring Affair was this weekend. There is nothing more satisfying in my life (I hope that isn’t sad!) than the hours I spend at Spring Affair sharing my perennials knowledge with people. I used to volunteer in the bedlam that is Saturday morning, when the sale opens to the public, but this would be my second year working the preview party. My shift was Friday night from 5:30-10:00 so I went to bed early Thursday so I’d be fully rested for Friday, which would be a long day. You have to know that that didn’t work out!

I was sound asleep when the phone rang at 10:10. Nancy needed help with her daughter on the weekend and clearly didn’t know the no phone calls after 9:00 rule. I was only on the phone 3 minutes but the adrenaline rush of being woken by the phone kept me tossing and turning until after 2:00, when I turned my alarm off and left a voice mail that I’d be late. But I woke up just after 6:00 so headed to work, exhausted, nauseous and pissed off. I sent Nancy a scathing email, which I immediately regretted. When I called her to ask if she’d seen it, she said she’d started reading it but her hair caught on fire so she stopped to put it out. We burst out laughing, both apologized and called it good. It’s fabulous to have such forgiving friends.

With lots of coffee, I made it through the day. The volunteers’ pre-sale was from 3:00-4:30 so Nora and I were leaving work to get to the sale by 4:00 where we meet Lorri and then head for dinner before our shift started. Of course, Nora and I were running late so got there at more like 4:15 so rushed to grab a few plants before the sale ended. By the time we got back to start our shift, you’d never know I had barely slept. I worked steadily, enjoying every minute, and picked up a few more plants along the way.

The last hour of the sale was slow so we were able to leave at 9:00 instead of 10:00. By then it had been pouring rain and hailing on and off for a couple of hours. I had to drop Nora at home, which is only two miles from the event center but it hadn’t rained there. I headed home going 80 mph through a tunnel of lightening. It was as if Highway 77 were a neutral zone with thunder and lightening to either side and ahead of me. Each lightening strike (and there were lots) illuminated huge thunderheads. I made it home with just a bit of rain but the skies opened up right after I got in. I don’t know if it was the work or the weather, but as my mother would have said, I was “all keyed up” and had trouble falling asleep. Go figure.

I had no plans for the weekend beyond catching up on my sleep and doing chores. What a luxury! I did not sleep late on Saturday (I rarely sleep past 7:00, even on the weekends) and found myself outside planting the plants I’d bought. I only intended to plant a couple but before I knew it, I was sifting compost, digging a new bed, planting my new plants (along with a few others transplanted from around the yard) and mulching the bed with a couple of bags leftover from last year. Before I was done, all the plants I’d bought were in the ground, which is SO abnormal for me. Usually I over buy, leave the plants in their baby pots all summer and throw them out in the fall when they finally give up and die. I should travel in May more often because that’s what I think is motivating me to get stuff done.

Once the bed was done, so was I. I showered and then sat like a zombie in a chair waiting for bedtime. I slept like a log and woke up Sunday to a dreary, cold day. I spent the day inside, cooking, baking and doing chores. What a nice weekend and only two weeks until I’m UK bound. Yee ha!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Week 16 - Crap vs. Nature


It was just an average week but two things stick out. Time to share!

On Monday night just after 9:00, I stuck my head out my slider and called in the cats. The TV was on behind me but I could vaguely hear my neighbor across the alley yelling something about my cats. I couldn’t make it all out but she was railing about my cats getting into her yard and that I should keep them inside. But when I turned the TV off and called back to her, I got no reply. I decided then and there that I’d head over there Tuesday after work to discuss this. One thing I should mention is that these people have lived behind me for 4 or 5 years and I don’t even k now their names. They moved in, put a ton of money into their little cracker box house (the whole neighborhood is full of them, my house included) and put up a huge fence that has no access except from their driveway. These people are not the neighborly type.

Fast forward to Tuesday night. I tried stopping on the way home but they were out so I headed over an hour later. I had to introduce myself to the husband when he answered the door and I said I wanted to talk to his wife. He left me on the step, shut the door in my face and came back a couple of minutes later to say that his wife wasn’t feeling well so wouldn’t talk to me. What a spineless wimp! She’ll yell over the fence in the dark but won’t look me in the eye and tell me what’s wrong. So, I explained that the cats were most likely the feral cats from the junkyard at the end of the street that the city had recently bull dozed. I left knowing for sure I have strange neighbors across the alley and that I’d done all I could to defuse the situation. Sheesh!

The only other thing of note happened on Friday. I’ve been sharing a temporary office for the past month with Nora, Dale and Grant (the work study student.) It’s been tight quarters and pretty noisy at times but actually kind of fun. Well, Friday was the end of it all. Nora’s new office was done so she moved upstairs. While the quiet might be OK, the bad part is that they needed to clear an office across the hall for a new employee who is starting Monday so all the crap ended up where Nora used to be - tables, chairs, computers, and assorted other crap from the training room. It looks awful! I was pretty bummed by the end of the day, knowing I’d have to look at the pile of crap for the next three weeks while waiting for our new cubie furniture to come in.

Since I was feeling pretty down, I decided to go see my campus cats after work. When I got over to Love, a cat I hadn’t seen but once since Christmas was there – Mama Kitty. Since she was back, I decided it would be worth looking for Silvio again (will I ever give up?) so I started another roam around campus calling him. The campus was aglow with blooms – crabapples, redbuds, bluebells – so I took out my camera and started taking pics.

Over by Sheldon, I came across a group of alumni women who were standing in front of a crabapple and getting ready to take some pics, with one woman volunteering to take them. I offered to take the pics so they could all be in it. So I started down the row of cameras and the granny grilling began. “What do you do when you’re not helping cats? What’s a data analyst do? Oh! That’s an important job honey.” It was like having a dozen grandmas doting on me. Between that and the beautiful flowers, my mood was completely turned around. Add that to a long phone call with Susan on the way home and I was starting the weekend happy.

I had plans to get a lot more done in the yard but that didn’t exactly pan out. I had foolishly offered to help at the library, which ate up most of Saturday afternoon, leaving some cooking as the only thing I got done at home that day. Then I slept badly that night and woke up feeling achy and tired. I did some more cooking, wrote an article and managed to prune a couple of roses but didn’t do much else. Oh well. I have 2.5 more weekends before I leave for England. I’ll get done what I can and life will go on.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Week 15 - Making a Dent

What a gorgeous week! Spring is finally here. Everything is green, green, green, daffodils are blooming and life is good! This is hands down my favorite time of year.

On the two days I didn’t swim, I headed right home and did yard work. I started in the front and worked my way to the back, figuring I’d do the more visible parts first. Getting a jump start was great. Since I had only one commitment on the weekend, a Friends meeting at the library (a good thing because it forced me to get up and out early), I planned to spend the entire weekend outside. The weather cooperated perfectly.

I had my bed stripped, two loads of laundry done and sheets hanging on the line before I left for Friends at 9:30. After the meeting, I went to an early lunch with Lorri to catch up then it was right home to start in the yard. I headed out thinking I’d start in one place but was instantly drawn to the appalling corner by my back door, which looked like something from a trailer park, complete with my old sink, empty flower pots and some trash. Very classy! I l cleaned it all up, took a break mid afternoon and then headed back out to tackle the old compost heap bed by the veggie garden. When I was done, I ran to the market because I had no coffee filters – can't have that! I got chicken for dinner while I was there and collapsed in a chair, happy that I’d accomplished so much.

Sunday was more of the same. I finished cleaning up the last of the beds, sifted compost and tackled the crap growing in the driveway cracks. By the time I was done, I felt like I’d inhaled a ton of dirt and was cut and bruised but feeling great. I showered and headed back to the library for a meeting with the master gardeners and landscape committee. From there it was a marathon of chores to get ready for the week. I had planned to do some cooking but that didn’t happen at all. I’ll have to leave that for tomorrow night before knitting at the library. At least I got to take advantage of the gorgeous weather. If all weeks were as productive as this one, I’d have a gorgeous yard. I live in hope.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Week 14 - Keys and Gardens

After I wonderful weekend where I got tons done, the week should have started well but it didn't work out that way.

When I went to leave for work on Monday, my keys were nowhere to be found. I had used them to drive home on Saturday night and had not left the house on Sunday so they clearly had to be somewhere in the house. This is what I thought as I heard the trash truck dump my can and start crushing the contents. So, I tore apart the house but found no keys. Grabbing my spare car key out of the desk (it had never been used), I headed to work 20 minutes late, stressing about where the keys were the whole way. The end of the day found me tearing the house apart even further but still no keys. I went to bed confident they were somewhere right in front of me and the cleaning lady would find them the next day.

Fast forward to Tuesday night. The cleaning lady hadn't found them so I started searching in less obvious places, figuring I'd gotten distracted while putting something away or something along those lines. No luck. I was totally obsessing about the keys, so much so that I couldn't fall asleep. I even got up in the wee hours to try on the sweatshirt I had worn Saturday night to see if the pockets were shallow enough (they were) that the keys might have fallen out and into the trash and so had been thrown away. Since they key ring was heavy, this fall into the trash would have had to be quiet, which is unlikely, but it's hard to control middle of the night thinking. I was also getting sad, thinking not of the keys but of the mementos I'd lost along with them - the Coney Island merry-go-round ring, my dad's Radio Shack screwdriver and my key ring, which I'd been carrying for decades. Needless to say, I didn't find the keys and got very little sleep so woke up feeling awful to the point of being nauseous but I headed to work to tough it out. I had also decided at that point to give up on the keys so pulled out a new key chain and headed to the locksmith at lunch to have replacements cut. At least Wednesday night I was able to sleep, figuring that now that I'd replaced them, the keys would turn up.

By Wednesday, I started getting flood updates from Carolyn. She lives in Warwick, RI, which is now infamous for being the epicenter of the Rhode Island flood and features the completely flooded mall we've all seen on the news. She had water in her basement and was fighting a losing battle to keep ahead of it with her shop vac, which required her to lug the water up a flight of steps to dump outside because the sewage plant was also flooded so they couldn't use any of their plumbing. She finally found a friend with a pump she could borrow and was able after 2 days to get most of the water out and then set up the newly purchased dehumidifier and fans. Other than being there for moral support, all I could do was feel her pain from afar and be thankful that Nebraska's over abundance of precipitation came in the form of snow. I never thought I’d be thankful for that after the winter we had!

By the end of the week, I'd recouped some of my lost sleep and had moved on to more positive Spring things. I bought myself a hyacinth for Easter and got out my seeds and started planning my garden. I also went outside to survey my veggie beds and immediately decided that it was time to call in the pros. I have a section of the garden that I haven't planted in years plus the grass path, which is ridiculous to have to mow, so figured it was time to find someone with a tiller. A call to my snow blower guy got me the number of a tiller guy and he came on Saturday morning. It was the best $40 I’ve ever spent because he cut down the weed trees and tilled the whole garden in an hour. It would have taken me all day and I would have been wiped. As it worked out, I went out and measured out my new raised bed plots (I’ll have 5 now instead of 4), created one bed for my early crops and got them sowed and watered before supper. I then headed out front to clear out the bed between the sidewalk and street, falling into bed exhausted but feeling good about my progress.

Sunday dawned dreary and chill. After going through the paper and watching my Sunday morning shows, I started cooking. I was due at Nancy’s for heathen Easter (all the Easter yummy food with none of the religion – perfect!) at 4:00 and was bringing lemon meringue pie and scalloped potatoes. I made the pie first (completely from scratch, of course) and then decided to make sugar cookies with the leftover grated lemon rind. Then on to the potatoes, which take about an hour to prepare and then cook for almost 2 hours. I threw in a turkey and wild rice casserole for Dori, who had her baby last week so we’re all cooking for her, and finally had a few minutes to enjoy a cup of tea since the sun had come out and it was gorgeous. I was a bit late to Nancy’s because the potatoes weren’t done (I probably should have waited to bake cookies – oh well) but it was a fun time. We ate all kinds of yummy food and then watched an Eddie Izzard dvd, which was oh so apropos for heathen Easter, don’t you think?

P.S. The pic's from an Easter long, long ago. Weren't we just too cute! I'm the one on the right striking the pose. : )