Monday, July 25, 2011

Week 30 - Plan B Continues

The heat wave was supposed to slam RI Monday and so we planned to hit the blueberry fields early. We were there shortly after 9:00, resigned to sweating for our fruit. There were other people in the field but we had to wonder what they were finding to pick! There were very few ripe berries and even those were sour. We knew we would not be successful but I wanted some RI berries to take home so we picked a mere 2 cups, sweating bullets the whole time and then hit Stop & Shop to buy berries for the blueberry cobbler we'd promised for dessert. We got everything else we needed for supper and then headed home, spent from just 15 minutes of berry picking. We had a quiet afternoon staying cool in the AC then got busy making the meatloaf Sharyn had requested. We had learned by then that Bob would not be coming for dinner but that didn't stop us from making a 3 pound meatloaf. It was HUGE and I kick myself for not taking a picture. We served it with whipped potatoes, brown gravy and corn so it really was diner fare. All that was missing was a big, white dinner roll. The blueberry cobbler was yummy too. We had fun hanging with Sharyn and Butch and the food was a hit. Go figure. Carolyn is an amazing cook and can cook anything and Sharyn wanted meatloaf? Good call in the end.

I was up and out on Tuesday, meeting Cornelia for breakfast at 7:00. It was great to see her but she was still in the throes of coping with her mom's death so there were lots of tears. I started packing as soon as I got home. I had bought lots of stuff but had also bought a new big suitcase to replace Norm's that finally bit the dust last Christmas. As usual, I fit everything in with room to spare. Hell, I'd even bought New England style hotdog buns that I put in the wastebasket I bought so they wouldn't get squished. Yup, I can pack like a pro. I was done with plenty of time to spare so relaxed and knitted while chatting with Carolyn. It was a nice morning. Good thing because I had a long afternoon of travel - at the airport shortly after noon for a 2:00 flight, 3 hour layover in Chicago and then to Omaha and home. By the time I drove into my driveway, I'd been travelling for ten hours. I got lots of knitting and reading done so it wasn't a total waste but it felt great to be home.

The first thing I did was check the painting. I could see that the west wall was prepped but not painted. I had been gone a week and they weren't done? It ended up being a good thing because when I checked the garage windows, they'd painted them green instead of white. The green was for the door only and the windows looked ridiculous because they were partially wrapped in white so the green was on the sashing, some of the sides and all of the bottoms. Sheesh! When I ran inside to check the paperwork, there it was in writing - paint garage windows and doors GREEN! I had missed that. Damn! This was clearly going to cost me. I called the painter, unpacked, set up the coffee and went to bed. I had to be up for work the next morning, another "feature" of my mid-week to mid-week vacation.

I was surprisingly not tired on Wednesday and the day flew. I mostly slogged through a week's worth of emails and worked on some queries I'd hadn't finished before I left. I then went swimming, which I felt really proud about because I would much rather have just gone home. I boiled hotdogs for dinner (good thing I'd had a salad at lunch) and sat like a zombie until bedtime. Not productive once I got home but I gave myself points for making it through the day so well and swimming to boot. I swam again on Thursday and went food shopping on the way home. I'd already decided at this point to skip the French get together Friday night in favor of just being home with no pressure. It was a good call. I ran errands on Saturday morning and then knitted most of the afternoon, starting my first every lace shawl. Despite cooking nothing, I called Andrea and invited her for dinner. It helped that she was bringing Jamie Oliver burgers. I threw together some cole slaw, put the corn Lorri had dropped off on to steam and we had a lovely dinner, albeit thrown together. But having done not much all day, I had my work cut out for me on Sunday.

I was determined to get some yard work done since it was supposed to be much cooler - high 80's in fact for the first time in weeks. I was outside just after 9:00 to weed and mulch (my neighbor had deposited another pile of grass clipping while I was gone) the entire veggie bed. Then I put my bench and all my plants back where they belonged since the painting was done (he'd finished Friday) then mowed. I got back into the house at 12:30, drenched in sweat, achy and exhausted but feeling good that it was all done. I showered, ate lunch and watched the last 2 episodes of True Blood. By the time I was done, I'd cooled off and could face some more chores. I had litter boxes to empty (I'd set up extra for when I was gone and they were nasty), laundry and a stack of mail to go through. There was more on my list but that's what I got done.

All in all, it was a good week. Better than I'd thought it'd be too. There's something to be said for the mid-week thing. I worked 2 days, had fun for 7 and then had only a 3 day week when I got back. It made it easier both coming and going that I didn't have long to get through on either end before I had a weekend to recoup. Maybe this is something I'll have to consider for future trips. Hmmmm.....

Monday, July 18, 2011

Week 29 - Plan B Vacation

On Sunday evening, Carolyn had called to say that Aaron, who was supposed to be at scout camp for most of my trip, was skipping the second week and was on his way home. Now this entire trip was planned around him not being around. July is fiscal year end and so not the best time for me to be off work and I had even finagled the dates around camp and so was flying Tuesday to Tuesday. Damn! It’s not that Aaron’s a bad kid, it’s just that his presence means Carolyn is in mommy mode, which seriously cramps our style. He’s only eleven and so can’t stay home alone for more than a couple of hours and the kid needs to eat. This was going to completely change the tenor of the trip but what could I do? I should also mention that Carolyn had found out Saturday that everyone but her and one other teacher had gotten recall letters, which meant Carolyn was unemployed. Talk about a double damper! The trip would still be fun but we’d have to work around Aaron and not spend much money. As if that wasn't enough, the friends who were going to have a cookout that would replace mine and Carolyn’s had cancelled so I wouldn’t be able to see all my friends in one fell swoop. This was seriously becoming a Plan B Vacation. Time to go with the flow.

The week started with mad vacation prep. Now the house was in great shape because I’d picked up so much for the cookout and the interim cleaning lady had come but there was still plenty to do. I skipped knitting at the library and spent Monday night slamming through my to do list. It didn’t take all night so I was able to watch a bit of TV before heading to bed early, feeling good about life in general.

Despite getting everything done the night before, Tuesday morning still found me running around doing last minute stuff. Since I was driving to the airport directly from work, I had to get everything done before leaving for work. Was I late? Damn right but only 15 minutes later than usual and I left a nice, clean house and well watered plants. As usual, my mantra is if nothing dies while I’m gone, I’m good. The day at work flew by, especially when I asked Nora for small stuff to fill the afternoon. I left work at 4:00 and headed for Eppley. The flights were uneventful and on time so I arrived just after midnight to pea soup humidity and Carolyn. Ick and wonderful at the same time.

Aaron had graciously given up his bed so I wouldn’t have to climb the stairs with my bum knee and heel (so far so good with the new shoes) so I went straight to bed. I was tired, tired, tired! We hung out Wednesday morning and had Carolyn’s super yummy scrambled eggs (she makes the best eggs ever!) and then Deanne picked me up for lunch. We went to Caffe Itri and had wonderful Italian food (the likes of which can’t be had outside of Italy, imho) and chatted for hours. They even locked the doors for their afternoon shutdown but let us sit over cappuccinos and keep talking. It was a nice afternoon. Sharyn called that night to say she couldn’t take time off work (it’s fiscal year end at Brown too) and so wouldn’t be joining us in Newport on Thursday. Major bummer but it was just more Plan B.

Now my sister Ginny, who is a teacher and so has the summer free, was supposed to have called my Auntie Margaret to set up lunch on Sunday but when I called my aunt to see if she was available for Newport on Thursday, she had no idea I was even in town. I had a few bad thoughts about my sister but was happy to hear Auntie Margaret was free for Newport. Aaron decided he would go rather than hang at his grandparents so we set off for Hope Valley (the back of beyond) to pick up Aunt Margaret. Kelsey, her grandaughter, came too so the five of us set out for Newport. The day was gorgeous and we had lots of plans - clamcakes and chowder at Flo's Clam Shack, going to the Marble House (a Newport Mansion - check out the link if you've never heard of them) and driving Ocean Drive.

Flo's did not disappoint ((I'd never been but had heard it was good and it was) but when we got to The Marble House, I was not happy to see that it was an audio tour with headsets. You see Auntie Margaret, who is a spry 89 year old, is legally blind (she can see around the edges but not detail) and so would have trouble punching in the numbers. We managed to get through the tour and then went onto the back lawn to enjoy the breeze of the ocean, which was heavenly. It was a picture perfect day! We drove Ocean Drive but didn't get out and then headed home. It was a wonderful time.

John was coming into town from NYC (just for me - how lucky am I?) and we were driving to Stoughton to go to Ikea. Luckily Matt had the day off so he took care of Aaron and off we went. I LOVE Ikea! I got a couple more shelves for my reconfigured wall unit (moved to the basement this past winter) and bought some other fun stuff. We all had fun. From there it was back home and then I took Carolyn's car to John's mom's and we headed back to Newport for Grill Night at the Newport Yacht Club, where John's family belongs. His whole extended family was there so I got to enjoy drinks on the upper deck with his aunts and uncles. It was great to see them all, some of whom I hadn't seen in a decade at least. Only Marianne, Brian (John's mom and step dad) and the two of us stayed for dinner, which was yummy (you grill your own meet and the club supplies soup, salad and sides.) John and I had driven separately so we went home via Beavertail, which is the southern tip of Jamestown (the other big island in the bay) and was my mom's favorite place. We got there just as the sun was setting and had some nice bonding time. I then hung out at Marianne and Brian's, which is always fun, and got home at 11:00. What a wonderful day!

Saturday was a low key day. Carolyn and I drove to Exeter to a new yarn shop - Eneri Knits. It was in the middle of nowhere but the woman was nice. Carolyn found the perfect, although expensive, yarn for her shawl and I only bought 2 skeins of yarn - enough for a scarf. Aren't you proud of me? The only other plan was dinner with Bob and John but we'd gotten a call from Bob saying he wasn't feeling well and so wouldn't be up for clamcakes and chowder (our dinner menu - take out from Iggy's) so would come in the afternoon instead. So we picked up spinach pies for lunch and then called John to come over for a Job Lot run before Bob got there. Despite it being so early, John came over. But when we called Bob when we were about to leave Job Lot, he said he wasn't up for it and so wasn't coming at all. The kicker was every time we talked to him, he wasn't home. So, sick? Anyway, that left us with a chunk of time to kill before dinner when we could have been doing other things. Oh well. More Plan B. John and I went to Iggy's to pick up the food and then we gorged ourselves on deep fried seafood and hung out some more. So all ended well albeit not as planned.

The plan Sunday was lunch with Auntie Margaret and my sister. Since Carolyn had a family commitment, my sister was supposed to pick me up but my cousin was driving up with my aunt. As I suspected, the minute all 3 seats in the truck weren't taken, my brother-in-law came. Now Ginny in the presence of him is not my sister. She's a stepford wife. And I barely tolerate his existance, it was not the lunch I had hoped for. We ate and then went our separate ways. I ended up shopping all afternoon and calling Sharyn, who was expecting me to join the family gathering at her house sometime in the afternoon. But it was so late when I got home that I called and begged off, inviting her and her husband to dinner after she got out of work Monday instead. They agreed and we had steaks on the grill for dinner. Just before sunset, Carolyn and I drove to Rocky Point, which is the defunct amusement park that I worked at for two summers during college. The city had bought some of the land and had opened a pedestrian park along the water. We walked quite a ways into the park, taking pics of what I could see of the abondonned park (you know I love abandonned stuff!) while watching the sunset. Too bad neither of us wore good shoes for walking, leaving us limping back to the car. But it was still fun and a nice way to end the week.

So, can you see how I've called this Plan B vacation? But I'm in RI with Carolyn so even if everything falls through, it's still good. And hot by RI standards doesn't hold a candle to the heat and himidity I left in Nebraska so that's an added bonus. I'll be back to that soon enough (2 more days) but at least I'll be in my own house. It's always good to get back home.

P.S. I had this all done and ready to post on Monday but Carolyn's computer wouldn't do it. I'm sure it's hosed from all the junk Aaron does on it. : )

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Week 28 - My Gorgeous Garage

Before After

The week started with a holiday – nice! Unfortunately I had been so tired when I went to bed Sunday night that I must have set my alarm while on auto pilot so my day off work started when my alarm blared at 5:52. Since I couldn’t fall back to sleep, I got up and got busy. Sheesh!

I had a few things left to prep for my annual 4th of July cookout but not too much. I had a pleasant day, interspersing setting up tables in the yard and such with lots of knitting. The weather was cooperating and it wasn’t too hot. By the time people started arriving after 6:00, it was gorgeous. Anne and Kate from water aerobics came, Nancy and Allan, the Harts, Andrea and the Huschers – 18 in all, which was a good number. Everyone had brought yummy food and I made hamburgers and hotdogs. After we’d all eaten, the kids headed to the driveway to light off fireworks and since most of my knitting friends were there, we all pulled out our projects and sat knitting on the deck waiting for dark.

When it was almost time for fireworks, we started gathering chairs and blankets, sprayed down with Off and headed down to the park. The city or chamber or whoever does the fireworks out did themselves. The fireworks went on for a long time and were spectacular. When we got back to the house, I found that somewhere before heading to the park, my friends had done most of the clean up so there was very little left to do. I took a much needed shower and went to bed, happy with after a fun night with my friends and another successful cookout.

I was tired on Tuesday (duh!) but luckily the day flew by while I worked on utilities billing. I stopped on the way home to buy all the supplies the guys would need to finish the garage – light fixtures, cat door, etc. By the time I left Menard’s the sky was looking fierce and it was clear I would be driving in weather. That didn’t stop me from heading to Super Saver to buy Kool Aid for dying – 120 packets at 15/$1.00. Such a deal! I drove like a banshee, hoping to outrun the storm but ended up driving through the worst of it. It was raining so hard that I hyrdroplaned twice but by the time I got to Wahoo, the storm had passed. There was almost an inch in the rain gage from a half hour storm. Nuts. I did the last of the cookout clean up inside and went to bed early. I was absolutely exhausted.

We got an email that a pump in the brand new pool had failed so we were back in the shallow pool again Wednesday night. While it’s harder on the joints, it’s better for chatting since we’re all crowded in one lane. After the pool, we went to Village Inn for dinner and knitting, which was fun. When I got home, my garage was done – siding, gutters, everything but the door, which would be installed Saturday. They did a gorgeous job. The gutters were so pretty that I called Jeremy to ask what it would cost to do the rest of the gutters so they’d all be pretty. $400. I’ll have to crunch some numbers and give that some thought.

My heel was still giving me grief so I stopped on Friday night to try on endless numbers of shoes, looking for the magic pair that would be comfortable, finally deciding on Clarks Waves. As long as I have them on, my heel doesn’t hurt so I’m hoping they’ll work for my week in RI. Wish me luck.

I had a decent sized to do list for the weekend and a Friends meeting to prep for so got up early Saturday. I got a call from my contractor while I was at the library saying that he was on his way to my neighbor’s to fix his lawn. On Thursday night, my neighbor had told Jeremy that his dad had run over his lawn when he was leaving after installing my gutters. We had checked but couldn’t find anything. Well, Saturday morning my neighbor called Tim, the other half of my contractor duo, and said he would put an ad in the paper saying their company abused handicapped people (my neighbor is in a wheel chair) if he didn’t come over and fix the lawn. Seriously? I left the meeting to head home. Tim had already put some soil in the rut and then installed my plant hooks on the garage. The garage door was being installed by his buddy. Despite the neighbor drama, I was happy. My garage was a thing of beauty. All that’s missing is some paint on the windows and door, which I figured I’d do in the fall when it cools down. Check out the before and after pics, noticing the blurry after because it’s so humid out that my camera lens fogged up the second I walked outside.

Cuz it was brutally hot! By the end of the day Sunday it was 93 degrees but with a heat index of 110. Yes, 110! I was outside for minutes while running errands and was instantly soaked. I HATE heat like that. I spent most of the day inside getting ready to be gone. Laundry, cleaning the frig, packing, etc. I ended the day meeting with a contractor I had called about painting the siding on the west side of my house where the finish has come off the metal. His quote was so low that I asked if he would also do the windows and door trim, which will completely finish the garage. The beauty is they’ll do it while I’m gone. I think the outside of my house is done. Can that be? Isn’t life grand? Damn skippy!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Week 27 - Hot and Productive

It was a hot week, with summer weather finally arriving at the end of June. No complaints here! Other than a couple of days, who can complain about not using AC until then? Along with the heat and humidity, we got an email that a pump in the new pool blew (yes, it’s only been going for 2 weeks!) and there would be no swimming all week. So what did I do with all my free evenings? Knitting. Go figure.

Jan and I were the only ones to show for knitting on Monday night. Andrea had flown back from California that day so I wasn’t surprised when she wasn’t there, nor Anne Marie who would have picked her up. But when she wasn’t home when I stopped afterwards to return her key, I was concerned that I her flight was delayed enough that I’d need to feed her animals again. So I called Anne Marie’s and she was there having birthday cake for Andrew’s 13th. I stopped by to drop the key and she was sitting like a zombie in the corner, surrounded by sugar charged kids. So I rescued her and took her home. I attempted to go to bed early but Tot was on the roof and not coming down. So picture me at midnight in my nightie up a ladder dragging her off the roof. Yes, I am the crazy cat lady. It’s official.

The interim cleaning lady came on Tuesday night for a walk through. She was going to start the following Wednesday, which meant I’d have to clean my house AGAIN before my party. Yikes! On Wednesday the heat arrived so I closed up the house and put on the air. I knitted with Anne at lunch and then Darla and I braved the heat for a Starbuck’s run in the afternoon. It was so hot that my frapuccino was melted within minutes of walking out the door. After work, I went to Jiffy Lube and sweated in their waiting room. From there, I sweated at Village Inn, where the service was so bad it was funny. Then it was home to watch the first DVD from True Blood season 3, which had arrived in the mail that day.

Thursday was even hotter. Good thing it was a food day because I had no intention of leaving the building, not even for Starbuck’s. I stopped at Ace Hardware on the way home to grill the clerk on what could be wrong with my grill. With my cookout just days away and my grill non-functional, I was worried. When I got home, it was an easy fix so that was a big relief. I went through coupons and prepped for the dreaded Wal Mart run Friday after work. Between my cook out and being out of lots of staples, my list was huge. Good thing it was dead quiet at work on Friday because it gave me extra energy to handle the crowds on the way home. There was nothing pleasant about that shopping but I hope I stocked up enough that I won’t need to go there again anytime soon.

The pulled muscle in my butt was still an issue and my heel was so sore that I wore sneakers to work most of the week (I still wasn’t convinced it wasn’t a back problem) but I still agreed to meet Lorri at the library to garden Saturday morning. It was a gorgeous morning and we worked for almost two hours. Afterwards we got an iced mocha and sat outside catching up. It ended up being a nice morning and it actually seemed to help my back/butt/whatever. The Charlie horse in my calf was gone and my butt was no worse. Hmmm…. I went home to shower and then picked Andrea up for an Omaha run. We hit Penzey’s, Sur La Table and Trader Joe’s. I spent way too much money but did get a few stocking stuffers at least. Sunday was a prep day. My goal was to get most everything outside done so I could do inside stuff on Monday. I ended up doing some inside, some outside, interspersing knitting between chores. It was all good. I ended the week with a doable list for Monday and feeling like things were under control. Not bad.