Monday, August 29, 2011

Week 35 - Plans and Productivity

It was a quick week. Work was busy so the days flew by and so did the evenings. But by the end of the week, I’d gotten a lot of pesky things off my to do list, a few of which had been languishing for a month or more. While that felt great, it doesn’t make for the most interesting blog post. Knitted Monday night, baked a banana cake Tuesday night, blah, blah, blah...

The reality is I spent lots of time knitting this week. I’m working on my first original pattern – a lace knitted drink cozy that I plan to post on Ravelry as a free pattern, which will set me up as a designer. I did the original one on Sunday but then did a 2nd example and started a third – different sizes and colors so I can post perfect ones for the pattern pdf. I'm not done with the third yet and will need to reknit the first, which is for my color swap, but am close to getting it prepped to post. It'll be fun to share my pattern and see how many people want to make it.

One thing worth a mention is that I finally set up my new answering machine and posted the kittens on Craig’s List Wednesday night. On Thursday someone came and got the calico. I’m still waiting for calls on the boys. Just to cover all the bases, I put an ad in next week’s Market Weekly so hopefully between the two, someone will want these kitties.

I finally made it to the pool on Thursday and it was the best workout I've had in a LONG time. We are finally back in the deep pool, hopefully this time for good, and despite it being a shallow class, I was able to stay deep enough to not hurt my knee and was sweating I was working so hard. Yay!

I ended up taking Friday afternoon off, prompted by my dislike of half days in my vacation bank (I’d already asked for next Tuesday morning off for a Master Gardener continuing education session) and Layton cancelling lunch. So I went to Maggie’s with Nora and Mary and then headed home. It was well worth the vacation time. I called contractors, finally got my insurance paperwork processed and made a poster for Big White Kitty (yes, I still have her in my house – sheesh!) and put them up all over town. By the time I went to bed on Friday, the house was picked up and I was ready for the weekend.

The electrician came over first thing on Saturday to give me an estimate on installing my fixtures that the guys took down when they sided and fix the light in the laundry room. I also asked about installing a whole house fan but I’m waiting for my contractors to come (Monday night) about their end of the work. Later on Saturday I mowed, which I had to do twice (once in each direction) because it was 2 weeks worth of grass. I also cleared out the garage so the electrician could get to the corner he needed to access to install the flood light. The kitchen was also completely cleaned up and ready for a cooking day.

I had planned to spend Sunday cooking and made a good start with strawberry pancakes for breakfast but I seemed to spend most of the day on the phone. I talked to my cousin in California about plans for Michael’s wedding weekend at the end of September when 5 of them are coming out. I had hurricane update calls from my sisters and Carolyn (all’s well) too. I ended the day with a long call with Helen, where we discussed more wedding weekend plans, fleshing out things I discussed with Debbie. I did make some taco salad mix and a big pot of red sauce but just threw them in the frig at the end of the day so still need to divvy them up into single serving sizes for freezing. I ended the day, you guess it, knitting.

All in all, it was a good week with lots of productivity and less cats. I also decided I would go to the Black Hills over Labor Day weekend to visit Connie. It’s all good!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Week 34 - Hope and Boiling

What a week! It was the week before classes start so we had no water aerobics, which meant I was free as a bird after work with no guilt. Always nice. Anyway, Monday was so normal – work, knitting and bed. That was the end of it for sure.

I went to a funeral on Tuesday morning. It was the first since my dad’s I’m pretty sure. Glenda’s (from Friends of the Library) husband had died and her son had also lived next door to me with his family for five years. A few of us from the library went. It was at 11:00 in Wahoo so I made good use of my morning and slogged through all my paper, which felt good. The memorial service was very nice with a beautiful eulogy from Glenda’s brother. Afterwards Lorri and I went out to lunch (she didn’t seem to want to stay for the lunch at the church), I paid my house taxes (I’m rarely in town while the tax office is open so took advantage of that) and headed to work.

I didn’t get there until 1:45 and then got pulled over by a campus cop for making an illegal right turn around some construction right in front of my building. I didn’t see the sign and then he went all control freak on me but only gave me a warning. By the time I got to my desk, it was clear I should have just taken the whole day off because I was in a funk. I made it through my 3 hour day and then went home to sit like a zombie, not knitting a stitch or even bothering to grill the steak I’d specifically bought for dinner on the way home. I did rally just before bed and cleaned up the kitchen and did the pots and pans in preparation for the cleaning lady the next day.

On Wednesday, identify management issues for new faculty took over my day. It was kind of fun figuring out what had gone wrong where and working with the IT guys to fix each problem. I knitted with Anne at lunch and the day flew by. I went right home with plans to cook that steak but the phone rang just as I was walking in. It was Lorri telling me that they’d found bacteria in Wahoo’s water supply and we were under a boil water order. We needed boiled water for drinking, brushing our teeth and doing dishes. Sheesh! I got busy boiling my kettle over and over. It’s amazing how much water it takes just to make dinner, a pot of coffee and have some on hand for teeth brushing. I did manage to cook dinner and had a nice night.

Thursday was more IDM problems (they were getting old at this point) but the big news was Carolyn got a job! She called to tell me that Pawtucket called and she would be back to being an elementary school librarian. It was not an ideal job but at least she wasn’t unemployed. I hung up the phone and burst into tears. It was such a relief the my BFF would not be struggling financially. I was so happy for her. I went to HyVee for one of their steak dinner specials after work with my friend Kate from water aerobics. I hadn't seen her in awhile so it was nice to catch up. She had wonderful news too! She was having her hip replaced the next week. You may not think of this as good news but we've seen her degenerate over the past year to the point where she was walking with a cane and in constant pain. Her doctor was not treating her effectively (she thought she had bursitis!) when her hip was in fact bone on bone. While the surgery will be no picnic, there is at least hope. She seemed excited at having some hope and I was excited too. What a nice day with two lots of good news.

Friday was a blur and the weekend was here. I had decided to skip the French dinner because I was tired (always by Friday) and didn't feel up to trying to cook something to bring what with the water issue. So, I was excited for a normal weekend, however normal it can be when I still can’t freely use my water. We’d heard it would be at least the middle of the next week before we got the all clear. But I was a pro at the boiling water thing by then and you could smell the chlorine in the water (Wahoo normally does no treatment at all) so I figured the bacteria was dead even if we hadn’t had 2 clear tests yet.

I ran errands on Saturday morning and then Andrea and I headed to Fremont for spinning. I ran out of public knitting but it’s always fun to hang and talk fiber. We went to Goodwill afterwards and I scored a pyrex casserole, a fun teapot from New Zealand, a book and some sweaters – one to felt and another silk/cashmere one to take a apart for the yarn. It was a pleasant, uneventful day.

There was more of that in store for Sunday. I pretty much did nothing and didn’t feel guilty about it. I did manage to design and knit a drink cozy for my next swap. I think it's good enough to post as a free pattern (and my first ever published design) on Ravelry. With all that knitting, I was in my jammies until 2:00 and when I did get dressed, it was in socially unacceptable clothes so I was going nowhere. Because I looked like one of those people of Wal-Mart, both Lorri and Andrea stopped by. I did manage to rally just before bedtime and get the bare essentials of chores done so I wouldn’t be behind all week, which felt good. Lord knows I was well rested for all the late night activity.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Week 33 - Snubbed in Doniphan

It was another busy week but the best part was that the weather was gorgeous. The heat and humidity had finally broken so I could run around doing whatever without constantly breaking into a sweat. How glorious.

I got an email from King Arthur Flour on Monday that contained this recipe. I had to bake it. When I showed the recipe to Nora and said I’d be baking it that night, we immediately decided to make it a mini food day. I’d bring the cake and the salads I’d made Sunday and she would bring sandwich for a crowd. I had been considering going to the pool, which I usually don’t do on Mondays because it makes it super rushed before knitting, but decided against it in favor of making the cake before knitting and frosting it after. All went well until the frosting. The first ganache went together perfectly but the frosting ganache broke. I was tired at that point and not sure what to do, deciding to use it as is. It tasted fine but didn’t have the smooth glossiness it was supposed to. Oh well.

Our mini food day was a big hit, with the cake in the starring role. I ran errands Tuesday after work, got all the cats inside (a rarity) and went to bed early. It was a stormy night so I was awake on and off then was awakened yet again by Tot, my youngest cat, climbing the screen from the outside. I turned on the light and let her and Pixel in, sure that they’d been inside when I went to bed. Only after surveying the house twice did I find that the screen in the spare bedroom was up so when I’d opened the windows that morning before work, that one was wide open with no screen. That explained the flies that had been in the house when I got home and the bites I discovered all over my body as the day went on. Sheesh!

Wednesday was a long day. I was on campus by 7:15 for the staff appreciation breakfast, going to the early sitting so I could be on East Campus by 9:00 for a writing for the web seminar. It was interesting but was more focused on writing to attract students so not particularly applicable for the websites I maintain. Darla and I went to lunch at a little sandwich place she had found and I had a grilled meatloaf sandwich. Yum! The afternoon flew by and then I left early to go to The Help with Dodie. We had both read the book and so were looking forward to the movie, which did not disappoint. You should absolutely go to this movie and take Kleenex. It's wonderful and makes you thankful you don't live down south. Anyway, since we were down south at the mall theatre (chosen for the best start time), I went to Michael’s afterwards and hit pay dirt for my swap, finding all kinds of little fillers for my color swap box. What a nice end to a long but good day.

Thursday was going to be my only opportunity to swim for the week but I realized that after not swimming for 2 weeks, my knees felt better than they had in a LONG time. And since this would hopefully be the last session in the bad pool and we didn’t have class next week at all, I decided to skip the pool and look forward to another week with less pain. Hopefully after next week we’ll be back in the deep pool. So I went right home to dinner and a relaxing night of knitting. I had to capture Tokyo (aka Hitler Kitty) – the mama kitty who brings her kittens to my deck – so I could take her in for spaying on Friday morning. That went well and I put her in the garage overnight.

I dropped her before work and headed in. Friday was Goodwill’s 99 cent sale and I intended to hit it big buying 100% wool sweaters to felt. I had gone through the sweaters at one shop already this week and had gathered the ones I wanted together on the rack, which I picked up at lunch. I hit 2 more Goodwills on the way home and found lots of sweaters – 15 in total, including some beautiful fair isles and bright solids. This would give me plenty of felted wool for making bags and purses. Yay!

Saturday was another busy day. I was up with my alarm so I could be on the road to Doniphan for Brenda’s (Helen’s future daughter in law) bridal shower at 10:00. When I’d said I’d go, I had thought I’d drive with Helen but she was staying after to help with wedding things so I was stuck driving 200+ miles alone. Crap! I had to go (Helen and I were the only ones from the groom’s side) so decided to make a trip of it, planning to go to Hastings, which boasts 2 yarn shops and the Kool Aid Museum, afterwards and then take the scenic route back.

I was on the road just after 8:00 and arrived exactly at 10:00. I only knew Brenda but met her mom and was chatting while waiting for it to start. When Helen arrived, she sat with me but was promptly told she had to sit at the head table. Great. The only person I knew wasn't sitting with me. Oh well, I figured I can talk to anyone so just stayed put at my empty table. Shortly, I was joined by 2 mother daughter teams - daughters in their late 20's and mothers my age. I introduced myself but they didn't tell me who they were and promptly began talking amongst themselves, making no attempt to include me. And when I tried to interject, they gave me the cold shoulder. Then the girl sitting next to me turned her back to me and rested her head on her elbow, completely blocking me. Nice! At that point I decided to just give up and focused on Brenda opening gifts, which the people at my table and quite a few other guests seemed to pay no attention to at all. Luckily, the whole thing was over in an hour and 15 minutes but what's up with the snubbing?

I was dismayed to hear it was Kool Aid Days in Hastings, complete with a parade and various activities. So I bypassed the museum and headed right for The Plum Nelly, a spinning, beading, scrapbooking, quilting, yarn shop. The woman was nice and I got a few things for my swap but nothing for me. I headed across the street to Imagiknits, which was wonderful. It was 3 small store fronts and loaded with all kinds of unusual yarn. I found something for the swap, picked out some fun hand dyed yarn for me and talked to the owner for over an hour. It was such a surprise to find such a gem in Hastings, Nebraska. As I was leaving, I saw some life sized knitted green olives and seeing how small they were, mentioned that I had been looking for straight cable needles to knit thumbs. I was so excited when she said she had something in the back. She then pulled out a set of 3" knitting needles (size 2) that were listed as mini sock knitting needles. PERFECT! She sold them to me for $8 but I would have gladly paid $18. I can't wait to start some mittens so I can try these needles out. Everyone at knitting is going to be jealous. And now I have the info for the people that make them so I can request other sizes. P.S. They sell for $14.95 online.

I grabbed some fast food and headed east from Hastings for the long ride home. I went Highway 6, which parallels I-80 but further south and winds through small towns. I headed north at York so I could hit Starbuck's and another Goodwill, where I scored 8 more wool sweaters. I was home by 5:00. It was a long day but I salvaged some fun out of it. Yay me! Then I forced myself to mow. Having not done it in 2 weeks, it was so high that I had to mow the back twice in different directions. At least that wouldn't be lurking over me on Sunday. I had plenty of other chores to fill that day.

I started the day with breakfast on the deck in my jammies (the only neighbor who could see me was away for the weekend) and finished Jane Eyre, which was engaging and the first Bronte I'd read. I did a ton of laundry and hung it on the line then started felting sweaters. I even made a prototype change purse with a sweater I'da already felted. Not perfec but it's just my first one. All afternoon I was doing my usual chore here, chore there with lots of knitting in between when Lorri called about weeding at Hansen House. Since I seem to be unable to say no, I met her just before 7:00 and did over an hour before heading home to the supper of champions - cereal. Sugar Crisp to be specific. I did manage to pick up a bit before I went to bed but still have more to do before the cleaning lady comes on Wednesday. Good thing there's no swimming this week. I'm going to need all my evenings to make up for what I didn't get done this weekend. Oh well. Life goes on.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Week 32 - Dyeing and Cooking

It was a super busy week, both at work and home. There were 2 more days of fiscal year end closing meetings to prep for and although I’d done as much ahead as I could, it still filled my days. Luckily Dale being gone didn’t have much of an impact, which I’d been worried about.

I knitted at the library Monday night as usual. Period 13 closed at the end of the day Tuesday so Mary was having a fiscal year end party at her house after work. It started right after work and since I couldn’t go home, I was the first one there. I parked my butt at the table and only moved once to get up for food. I was not the only one low on energy and wasn’t the first to leave when I did ~8:00. By the time I got home, it was after 9:00. What a long day!

On Wednesday night, I finally got together with Helen to see Buck at the Ross. We had scheduled it 3 times before we actually did it. What a wonderful movie! It was about a horse whisperer but had a lot to offer even non-horse people like me. Find this movie and watch it. Seriously. Anyway, we went to the 7:00 show so it was almost 10:00 when I got home. After my third long day in a row, I was exhausted.

Work settled down by Thursday and I could get back to normal stuff. I had lunch with Dodie and had planned to swim after work but just couldn’t muster the energy so just went straight home. I nuked the last of my chicken a la king and sat like a zombie in a chair. It was wonderful. I pretty much did the same thing on Friday, despite planning to food shop.

Saturday morning meant it was time to get the kittens to the vet for shots. Now the little gray and white guy has decided I’m OK and lives on my deck but the other 2 had gone home earlier in the week and I hadn’t seen them much. My plan was to lure them with bacon so I fried some up for breakfast. At 9:30, little gray kitten in the carrier, I headed to the next street. The bacon worked like a charm and within 5 minutes I had all 3 crated and got them to the vet without event. $110 later, they were done and I could now advertise them as having shots. Yay! Unfortunately my kitty karma was offset by hitting a squirrel on the way home. As they do, he ran right under my tire. It happens.

I was determined to be productive during the day so started by cleaning up the kitchen. Normally I want to cook as soon as the kitchen is done but this time it was dyeing. I got out some yarn and kool aid and got busy dyeing for my next color swap. My partner’s colors are turquoise and chartreuse so berry blue and lemon lime worked great. I hung the yarn outside just before I had to leave to pick Lorri up. To thank her for taking care of the cats while I was in RI, I had bought tickets for us to see The Church Basement Ladies – a musical at Nebraska Rep. We went to Panera first (I had my yummy salad – go figure) and then the play, which was hilarious. We drove home in a storm with lots of lightening but no hail. It was another late night.

Sunday brought more dyeing. I did a second lot for the swap, not to knit with but to send to her as yarn. I also did 4 test dyes of some mauve yarn I wanted overdye, settling on ice blue raspberry lemonade, which made a nice lavender color, for the big skein. I have lots more of the mauve yarn (I bought a 1 pound done at a garage sale for $2 last summer) but it’s not soft so I’ll have to knit something to see if it’s worth dyeing more. I think this yarn dyeing is a blast! It’s like a little science experiment and I end up with pretty yarn. The fact that I’ve been starting with thrift store or yard sale yarn makes it even better. Look out once I get some wool combs and can start spinning my own wool. I’ll be so uber satisfied I may just keel over with happiness. Oh the anticipation! : )

By 5:00, I’d done nothing much but dye all day so forced myself to get up and start cooking. I have not been cooking much lately and had a frig full of produce. I cooked all evening and finished the day with tons of yummy food for the week – 3 bean salad, potato salad, egg salad, cottage cheese dip, fresh pineapple and cantaloupe. I had hoped to bake cookies but ran out of time. Lighting the oven didn’t sound appealing anyway because I was sweating even with the AC on. Oh well. It’s supposed to be much cooler this week so maybe one of these nights. Don’t count on it though. I have another busy week ahead.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Week 31 - A Knitting Travesty

So, I survived another year of fiscal year end closing meetings. There are a couple more left but I’m all prepped and confident all will go swimmingly. This is the worst week of the year stress wise but it’s only a week so I’m lucky. Between work and the heat, the week flew by.

Monday started with me running reports from home at 5:30 a.m., after waking from mega stressful dreams. I went to work early, which is a feat for me, so I could prep the actual print outs for Mary, only to find she’d taken them off the printer and prepped the packages herself. Oh well, it’s not like I was able to sleep anyway. Nancy called and needed somewhere to hang in the evening so she brought a pizza, I opened a bag of lettuce and we had dinner of champions before heading to knitting. It was fair time so not much knitting went on as we all prepped our fair entries. There are six entries on each page of tags so I do 6 scrapbooking and 6 knitting entries. I had already picked which scrapbooking stuff to enter but ran around grabbing knitting projects just before knitting. Since I was helping check in 4H entries during the time we’re supposed to drop projects off, Andrea took my stuff for me.

Tuesday flew by again. I was able to sneak out to Panera for a salad at lunch with Darla. Got to get my fiber, closing meetings or not. I left work early to get to the fairgrounds for 4H check ins by 5:00. It’s an easy 3 hours of master gardener volunteering and it’s air conditioned so not miserable. I don’t know if it was the odd gardening season (late, wet spring then blazing heat) but we had about half of the entries we usually have. We had lots of chatting time and very little frenzy. Nice for us but not for the fair.

Wednesday morning was maniacal. Dale and I slammed through a ton of extra prep work that we hadn’t anticipated and were running on adrenaline. When I left at noon to knit at the union with Anne, I had to deep breathe to calm down. Knitting helped too. The rest of the day was uneventful. It was Dale’s last day and Nora was in South Dakota all week so I was on my own for the rest of the week. I could only hope I’d prepped enough so it wasn’t awful. I swam after work but knitting at Village Inn wasn’t happening, which I didn’t mind since I could use a quiet night.

Before I could head home, I had to stop at the fair to see what ribbons I’d gotten. I went straight to the knitting and saw red. Now I had complained a month ago about the need for a better knitting judge since whoever was doing it clearly had no clue about knitting. Well, I was mortified to see that the easiest project I’d entered, a pair of stockinette mittens with leftover self-striping yarn that I’d thrown in just to fill the 6th spot on my entry page, had won best of lot. I was SO embarrassed! They were something a 12 year old could have done and were absolutely nothing special. It was a miscarriage of knitting justice and every knitter who saw them would agree. There it was sitting next to beaded lace shawls, colorwork and elaborate, gorgeous projects. Now if my Latvian colorwork mittens had won, I'd have been thrilled but these? Lame! I left, pissed off at the continued bad judging.

With the blazing heat we’ve been having, there were storms most nights. I had learned to unplug my laptop before bed just in case but I woke up Thursday to find that the storm had fried my modem. I was high and dry with no internet. Good thing there were no morning meetings to prep for from home. I called Windstream when I got to work and they would replace my modem for free. When Mary left for a meeting, I walked downtown to pick up the new one. It was pea soup humid so a miserable walk but worth it to get my online life back so easily. Otherwise, Thursday was uneventful – more meeting prep with very little drama, lunch with Dodie, swimming and setting up my modem, which took half an hour. I had thought it would be plug and play. At least I was back.

Friday was another calm day. I had lunch with Layton and food shopped on the way home. I had a quiet weekend in store which worked for me. I had a hair appointment at 9:15 Saturday, which got me up and dressed early. I reclaimed my house from piles of crap. By the end of the afternoon, the counters were clear, the dishes done and I was ready to cook. I had been wanting chicken a la king for ages and finally made it. It was worth the wait and totally satisfied my comfort food cravings. As soon as I finished, I headed to the fair where I was sitting at the library table for 2 hours. It’s in an air conditioned building and all I have to do is tell people about library programs, hand out bookmarks and knit. Easy! I almost finished my 2nd pair of red, white and blue mittens so I stayed up to finish them when I got home.

Sunday dawned hot as ever. I made pancakes and bacon and made a to do list. I had grand plans for finishing my chores and cooking up a storm. Well, I did get the laundry done but didn’t cook another thing. I started a pair of easy socks for my sister, who has been begging for another pair for awhile. These were supposed to be my social knitting project but I ended up sitting on my butt for most of the day and by bedtime had half of the first sock done. These are size 1 needles with tiny yarn so that’s a lot of knitting. Oh well. Not the day I’d planned but all good none the less. And the good news is that this heat wave is supposed to break by mid-week. I can’t wait!

Let’s hope everything that didn’t get done last week won’t bite me in the butt this week.