Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Week 20 - Bound for England

I know, I know. I’m 3 weeks behind on my blog. And these weeks are jammed full so I need some long posts. Please bear with me.

The week was all about getting ready for England. I had a rigorous to do list and spent all my time getting things done. That meant shopping before work, running errands over lunch and getting even more done after work. Every. Single. Day. What is it about going on vacation that makes you feel the need to get everything done that you’ve been putting off? I don’t know but I got it all done. By Friday night, the lawn was mown, the cats were set up with 5 boxes and all my chores were done. I was packed and had received all the packages for things I’d ordered for the trip, from shoes to knitting needles. I was ready to go.
As if getting ready was not stressful enough, Steve’s last day at work was Thursday and he wasn’t leaving voluntarily. I had thought he’d be gone before I got back but Nora moved more quickly and gave him the news on Thursday. She cleared Josh and I out of the office and Steve made his exit. Since Nora was out Friday, I had to answer all Josh’s questions. That was also the deadline for the F&A response. It had been a doozie of a week and I was ready for a break.

Andrea was more nervous about getting me to the airport than I was. She picked me up just after noon (I had been fine leaving at 1:00) and after an uneventful drive and whipping through check in, I was at the gate an hour and a half early. I knitted to pass the time, eager to just be there. I was connecting in Chicago and wasn’t looking forward to the long, overnight flight. I needed to get some sleep in order to be even marginally functional on Sunday, which would be a full day. Well, the man in front of me did nothing to stifle his excited kids (5 and 7 years old, I’d say) and they were giddy and noisy for the entire flight. When I finally asked him to keep his kids quiet, they calmed down but sleep was elusive. I arrived in Manchester not having slept a wink. Sheesh!

I got in an hour and a half before the scheduled meeting time. Unfortunately, I had neglected to print the email that told me where to meet the group and as the time approached, I started panicking. I couldn’t access my email, either with my iPad or on the computer I paid a pound for ten minutes of internet time. The info desk woman was useless and so I took a chance and grabbed the bus to the bigger terminal. I still didn’t see Jean and Philip (the tour leaders) and was really freaking out. The info desk guy even let me use his computer to try and access my email that way. When that failed I was getting frantic when I looked across the terminal and saw Eileen, a Canadian I’d been corresponding with on Ravelry. I screamed her name across the terminal and my anxiety was instantly gone. I was never so happy to see someone. Within minutes, Philip and Jean arrived and it was a big, happy reunion. We ordered coffee and waited in the café for the other people to arrive. Cindy’s flight was delayed so we hung out for awhile, first in the café and then on the bus. After we picked her up, we were on our way. Surprisingly, I wasn’t tired. I guess it was just excitement but I felt good to go.

Our first stop was Levins Hall, a big old country house that is known for its topiaries. But these aren’t American style animal shaped bushes but more abstract shapes. We ate lunch in their café (had a Cornish pasty – yum!) and then walked around the gardens and house. It was gorgeous and I got to know my new friends as we explored the gardens. This was going to be a fun trip. We got to Cragwood in the late afternoon. I unpacked, got into my sweats and had a cup of tea. We all met downstairs at 6:00 for Jean’s presentation on Sweet Shawlettes, which is her new book. It was a lot of fun and then we had the first of many wonderful dinners. When we finished dinner and headed to bed, I laid there unable to sleep despite having been up for 30+ hours. I did finally fall asleep though. Could I have crammed any more into the week? I don’t think so. And there was more fun to come. : )

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Week 19 - Cranky but Productive

What a week! Between coaching the boys through monthly reports and prepping F&A responses for the feds (don’t ask), work was pretty stressful. Then add storms almost every night that kept me from sleeping well and I was pretty darn cranky by the end of the week.

To start the week, I made a list of all the things I needed to get done before leaving for England, vowing to get a few done every day. At lunch on Monday I walked my purse to the cobbler that’s a few blocks from campus to get the strap sewn down. Darla and I were thrifting after work (it’d been awhile since we’d gone) and I could pick it up afterwards. Then it was home to grab some ham then head to the library for knitting. I handed out skeins of Brown Sheep sock yarn to everyone so we can have a sock knit along.

Heat and humidity set in on Tuesday so I spent lunch ordering knitting supplies that I’d need for England, eating my bag lunch so I didn’t have to go outside. I was trying to get work done but the boys had zillions of questions so with the constant interruptions, it was hard to get much done. The day did fly by though and I managed to arrange for rides to and from the airport. One more thing crossed off. I had invited Andrea over for dinner – ham! – and so went right home. I had closed the house up so it was still nice and cool inside. After a nice dinner, Andrea took her plants from Spring Affair and I sat down to knit for awhile. There were storms right as I was falling asleep that kept me up way later than normal.

Wednesday was Josh’s birthday so we were going out to lunch at Hu Hot, which was fine by me. Veggies! Nora also brought scones so it felt like I ate all day. The questions continued all day and I was thrilled to hit the water after work. Then it was straight home for more ham (getting sick of it by then) and Survivor.

As soon as it was over, it was time to work on Mary’s birthday present. Nora had found a cute pouch made from vinyl covered candy bags so had bought the iron on vinyl and I was elected to make the pouch. I had directions from a blog but the directions on the vinyl package were lacking so I screwed up one of the candy bags and had to get dressed and head to the market for more M&M’s at 8:45. Once I got the vinyl on, the sewing was a breeze and the bag came out SO cute. I finished after 10:00 and then had to knit a bit to decompress before bed. I finished a sock that had been on the needles for awhile because I needed the needles to start another pair. Yes, I’m addicted to knitting socks but there are worse things. Unfortunately there were more storms so I was awake until after midnight. Thursday was going to be a long, hard day.

And it was. There were problems with the monthly reports, which nearly sent me over the edge. I kept working on the F&A stuff but as soon as I finished one question, I’d get assigned another. I felt pulled in every direction. Despite being cranky and super tired, I swam because it was my last chance until after Memorial Day. It felt great to hit the water. I couldn’t stomach more ham so had cereal for dinner and went to bed early. I had closed the house up and put on the AC for the cleaning lady so I was able to sleep through any storms and finally got a good night’s sleep.

Earlier in the week, I had suggested to Darla that we do breakfast one morning so had to be up at 5:30 so I could be in Lincoln at 6:30. We had a mediocre breakfast at HyVee but it was wonderful to catch up. I miss having Darla in the next cubie for sure. After breakfast I popped into Wal Mart for new bras (another thing off the list), got coffee, fed the cats and was at my desk just after 8:00. Unbelievable! I had a cathartic lunch with Layton (he was ever patient as I vented my frustrations.) It was blazing hot and humid (90’s in the first week of May – WTF!) and nowhere near cool enough in the office. Then at the end of the day, Lacey gave me yet another chunk of F&A work to do. At least the day flew by and I headed straight home.
I had been waiting for a swap package from my color swap group on Ravelry and came home to a fun package from Canada, fill of fun yarn, vintage sewing supplies, a gorgeous knitted bag that’s the perfect size for my iPad and a knitting project and so will definitely be going to England. There was also lots of fun yarn. I had also gotten a bag of mini skeins from another group so had lots of yarn to play with . The air was still on so the house was blissfully cool. I took a shower, got into comfy clothes and the sitting, knitting and playing with new yarn began. I did nothing but that on Saturday and only stopped for a bit on Sunday, when I forced myself to make a list and get a few chores done. And I do mean a few.

So, that was my week. I survived the work week, got lots of little things done along the way, did some fun crafting, got a fun package  and enjoyed a weekend of knitting and watching TV. I managed to get enough done so all I really have left on the pre trip list is do more laundry and throw it in the suitcase, which will happen near the end of the week. 7 days from now, I’ll be in England. Hard to believe it’s almost here. And I’m hoping to blog from the UK on my iPad so stay tuned.