Monday, June 25, 2012

Week 26 - Loving My Friends

Last week I had a revelation. I have wonderful friends! Now I’ve always had great friends and left a bunch of keepers when I moved to Nebraska almost sixteen (!) years ago. (feels like yesterday, BTW) And while I still hold my RI friends close to my heart, they can’t go to a movie or meet me for breakfast. But in looking back at this week, I saw that I’ve finally found my peeps here in Nebraska, which took a long time. To all my friends out there, be they nearby or across the country, know that I love you all.

Monday was the usual swimming then knitting. As with many of my Wahoo friends, I met Andrea, who started the Monday Night Knitters, through the library. I was working the check out table at the library book sale, saw her scarf as she was paying and started talking knitting. The rest was history. The knitters have become close friends and I count on them for all kinds of support, not just knitting.

Tuesday after work, I met Nancy and Marge to See Peace, Love and Misunderstanding at The Ross. I met Nancy at the first library book sale, where we started talking about Birkenstocks, and before she left the sale, she’d made a stack of books that she thought I would enjoy. I knew then the friendship was a keeper. And in the it’s a small world vein, her friend Marge is the daughter of my neighbor across the street but we met through Nancy. Since Marge lives in Lincoln, we have started going to movies. This movie was good and then after Marge headed home to paint, Nancy and I went to The Red Fox for a late dinner. I didn’t get home until 10:00.

I skipped swimming on Wednesday (I had heard that the water in motion class is a nightmare while there are kids doing swimming class so we’re all crowded in the shallow end) in favor of going home right after work. I did stop at Jennifer’s on the way home to drop cat food and check in on her since I hadn’t seen her since before my England trip. It was starting to storm and I didn’t want a repeat of last week’s driving through hail so I beat it home for a night of watching True Blood Season 4. It was blissfully cool after the storm so I opened the windows and slept like a baby, which was wonderful.

Layton and I had moved out lunch to Wednesday because he’d be in Omaha on Friday. Then I had a meeting across campus until noon on Thursday so was doing lunch with Dodie on Friday instead of Thursday. I had parked at a meter though because Darla and I were going thrifting at lunch, specifically to the south Goodwill for their travelling sale. I found all kinds of sweaters – 1 for Anne Marie to frog for the yarn, 2 for Andrea to wear and a frogger and cashmere for my blanket. We had more time so headed to our favorite thrift by campus and I scored again – 2 bags of yarn, another popcorn popper for Anne Marie to roast coffee in and a couple more sweaters for crafting. The afternoon flew by and then it was swimming and a steak dinner at HyVee with some swimming friends (yet another group of friends I love.) I had hoped for a quick dinner but we got talking and the time flew. By the time I’d picked up some groceries and driven home, it was 9:00. These long days were starting to wear me out.

I had lunch with Dodie on Friday, got a ton crossed off my work to do list and then headed straight home. I was too tired to cook so had cottage cheese dip and a beer for dinner and talked to Carolyn, who was home alone recuperating from surgery. Then despite wanting nothing more than to veg, I went outside at 7:45 and mowed because it was going to be hotter than hell for the forseeable future so I did the adult thing and got busy. Sometimes being responsible sucks. Anyway, I went to bed early because Saturday morning had big plans.

I’d been trying to get together with Darla for a Connie Saturday forever. I wanted to start at the Farmers’ Market, do breakfast and then shop. Connie and I usually ended up at a matinee but Darla, who is normally a big movie goer, wasn’t up for one so we’d crossed that off. Then the weather didn’t cooperate and it was storming first thing so we started with breakfast at Cook’s Café, which is where Connie and I always went. Have I mentioned missing Connie? I should have since she left a big whole when she moved north. But I digress… After breakfast, Darla and I started shopping – Big Lots, Tuesday Morning, Dollar General, Brown’s Shoe Fit (where I surprisingly struck out trying to find brown sandals) and JoAnn’s. I bought, wait for it, more yarn – some for me, some for my swap. Mostly for me though. Yay! I got all kinds of fun stuff and was home by 2:00. Guess what I did! Yup, more sitting and knitting. Also, Andrea came over to help with a knitting deconstruction that actually took an hour and was pretty painful. Thankfully she was patient and perky about it because I would have been pissy as all get out if I'd done it alone. See? It's good to have friends.

Sunday was blazing hot but I had gotten a head start on chores Saturday afternoon so took it easy and just finished my chores and did some cooking. So after a friend and fun filled week, I’m ready for another one with my house all picked up (the cleaning lady had called to say she was coming first thing Monday so there was no procrastinating chores) and the frig full of food. I’m hoping for less on my schedule this week and getting more done on my to do list at work. Wish me luck.

And just to share a wonderful quote from one of my online friends (yarnguy716 on Ravelry – my knitting social website) – “You know, sock yarn is the yarn you buy when you’re not buying yarn. Just one little ball to take the edge off.”

Monday, June 18, 2012

Week 25 - Not Very Productive

It was another busy week. What else is new?

Monday was my usual slam through day – work to swimming to the library. I brought cheesecake squares to knitting (more illicit food in the library – yikes!) and it was fun, as usual. Although it was busy, it was a good day and it’s a good thing because the rest of the week was pretty non-productive.

As for work, I started the week doing an impromptu training of the new business manager in Engineering, which killed the morning, and then started the afternoon clearing off my desk, which looked like a bomb went off and was getting me down. Darn good thing because the week was super busy. It was all about Engineering – working on their allocations, meeting with them on their allocations and then more allocations. It felt like all I did all week was prep journal entries.

I had a productive evening on Tuesday, dropping off my goodwill donations (always feels good), food shopping and a dreaded Wal Mart run before heading home to prep for the cleaning lady. I’m glad I got that all done because the week went downhill from there. There was drama galore at work, most of it revolving around friends. Can’t share what but it was pretty stressful so I went home most nights and sat like a zombie. A knitting zombie but didn’t get much else done.

Unfortunately, the unproductive mode lasted into the weekend. I ran errands on Saturday morning but got nothing done beyond that on Saturday. I did finish a knitting project from my trip so at least there’s that. Then on Sunday I did manage to get a few chores done but nowhere near as much as I had on my to do list. Oh well. There’s always this week to redeem myself. I live in hope.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Week 24 - My Busy Life

It was a maniacally busy week at work. Nora was working mornings so she could volunteer at Farm School in the afternoons, which completely reversed my days. I often found myself waiting to grab a minute of her time just before she was leaving and then somehow scrambling to finish things by the end of the day so she’d have it first thing. Adding to that, I taught for two afternoons. It was just busy, busy, busy. So much so that I didn’t email Carolyn for a couple of days and she called me late one night to make sure I was still alive. That busy!

I had a very productive week knitting wise. I finished a test knit on a felted bag on Monday night late. I finished the main bag after getting home from the library and then couldn’t resist getting out my I-cord maker, which I’d never tried. Well, it’s a wonder! After a small learning curve, I was able to slam out 15 feet or perfect cord in about half an hour. If I had done that by hand, I would have had a foot or two in that same time. I stayed up too late doing that but it was exciting. Seriously. Then before the week was over, I made a pair of slippers for my swap and almost an entire sock. Nice.

I swam all 3 nights this past week, which felt great. After the pool on Wednesday, I met a friend of a friend to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I had never met Marge before but decided not to wait for Nancy, who had been trying to arrange something for the three of us for quite some time. So we met outside the theatre and chatted for half an hour before going in. It was a feel good movie with great characters and had the most attractive view of India I’ve ever seen, but then I mostly see the hellish parts from The Amazing Race. But more importantly, Marge and I hit it off. And in the It’s a Small World vein, her father lives across the street from me in Wahoo so maybe she’ll pop over next time she’s there.

My lunches were disrupted this week too. Dodie called Wednesday to ask if we could do lunch then instead of Thursday. We had had a breakfast for one of the accountants who is getting married so I wasn’t hungry at all but went and just had an iced coffee. I hadn’t seen Dodie in over a month so it was good to catch up. When Layton told me he wouldn’t be in on Friday, we moved our lunch to Thursday so it all worked out. On Friday, Darla and I went thrifting, which we’d been trying to do all week. I didn’t find much but it was fun.

I had a plan free weekend, which was nice. It was blazing hot so I went out first thing on Saturday to get my outside stuff done. I was dripping wet when I got in ~1:00 but all the plants were situated, my deck was cleared off (I still had piles of leaves from over winter) and the lawn was mown. I took a shower and the sitting/knitting began. I did a few chores and finished the weekend cooking, making food for the week and cheesecake squares to take to knitting on Monday. The best part was the big storm that came through Sunday night and broke the heat and humidity. I went to bed with the windows open, looking forward to a normal work week and cooler temps. Life is good!

P.S. If you want to see the 300+ pics from my trip, they’re now online here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Week 23 - Normal Life Again

I woke up on Memorial Day feeling fine. I was finally sleeping through the night, not waking up super early and my cold was better. It was a good thing because Memorial Day was my designated day to plant my veggie beds. I was also hosting knitting and had invited Andrea for supper beforehand. It was time to get busy.

I baked cookies first thing then after puttering in the house for the rest of the morning, I got outside to the garden after lunch. I had three beds to prep and plant and wanted to cut down the weed trees on the edge of the garden. I plowed ahead and got that all done then mowed, finishing up at 5:15. I had enough time to shower and relax for 20 minutes before Andrea arrived. I was just nuking chicken pot pie and broccoli but it was yummy. There were four of us for knitting, which was the perfect number. I handed out the sheep pins I’d bought in England and Lori chose her thank you yarn for picking me up at the airport. Everyone left at 9:00 and I went right to bed. But since it wasn’t a normal night, the cats wouldn’t come inside so I was up a couple of times during the night trying to get them inside.

I had only gotten one work email while I was on vacation so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got to work. Either I’d be bombarded with delayed ones or my in box would still be empty. I never did get any emails but Nora and I got caught up over a lunch of Panera salads. She had felt some identity management pain on my first day gone but everything else was just business as usual. The day went along fine but I had a huge energy plummet in the afternoon. There was a Friends of the Library meeting after work but I had already emailed that I wouldn’t be there so it was just about getting through the work day. I dragged myself to my car and spent the night sitting and knitting then went to bed early. Clearly I wasn’t fully recovered yet.

My legs had been sore on Tuesday but were even worse on Wednesday. I couldn’t straighten my left knee and the back of my right leg was so stiff and tight that I was limping. I was looking forward to getting into the pool for the first time in weeks, hoping it would limber up my legs. My cleaning lady called to say she’d be there Friday morning so now I had a deadline to get the last things done in the house. I was also trying to finish a pair of socks for the end of May deadline.

It was fun to work out and tell Anne about my trip and my knees were some better on Thursday. I did finish the socks on Thursday morning but ran out of steam Thursday night so got up early Friday morning to do the final neatize before the cleaning lady. It was already Friday. Yay! It was monthly reports day and it was my best one ever. Josh and I finished most of them in one day, which felt great. I had planned to food shop on the way home but, again, ran out of energy so just went home to start my weekend, stopping at Lorri’s to water on the way home

After running errands in town Saturday morning, the afternoon found me outside again, this time planting all my containers. The weather cooperated with a cool, dry day. I set up a table in the shade and potted plants for hours, heading inside for a shower and tea when I lost my shade. I never got back outside Saturday so picked up all my planting paraphernalia Sunday before it got too hot. Heat and humidity set in so I shut the windows and turned on the AC, enjoying a normal Sunday of chores and cooking, interspersed with knitting. I stayed up too late blogging but was caught up so crossed that off my list. I still had some laundry to fold but otherwise was caught up on my chores. It felt good to be back to “normal.”

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Week 22 - England and Home

The 2nd week in England began with a trip to Rowan. For my non-knitting readers, Rowan is one of the best yarn companies in the world. They have gorgeous yarn and some of the best designers anywhere. And we were going to their world headquarters, which is a converted mill in the middle of nowhere. I was VERY excited. Martin took the bus with us from the hotel and was teaching us a master class on cabling. But not before two big wigs from Rowan met us and gave us a preview of the fall line. They actually told us we couldn’t take pictures of the presentation because it was still secret. How cool was that? Too cool. Then we got our hands on yarn and Martin taught us cables a go go. It was lots of fun.

But two things stick out from this day. The first was when Jenny, one of the people on our tour, picked up Martin’s example scarf, pointed to his stitches and said “What a good knitter would do here…..” and proceeded to tell him how to improve his knitting. Now Jenny had been “on” for days and almost seemed manic but when she said that to Martin, everyone at my table stopped dead, jaws dropped and were dumbfounded. She then told him he needed to remember her tip for his next class but not to change his pattern because it would be confusing. OMG! Martin Storey is a knitting god and she was correcting him. Speechless is not a state I’m in very often but this was one time for sure. I could not believe she did that. Martin was gracious but I was just in shock. The other thing was that the hallway leading to our class room was lined with boxes of yarn and the presenter from Rowan mentioned in passing that they were all 1 pound each. Now most of this yarn would be in the $10-15 range so I dug in. I bought 27 balls of yarn. Yikes! Good thing I’d packed space bags.

When we were done at Rowan, they bussed us to Holmfirth, the nearest town which was the setting for the British TV show Last of the Summer Wine. I had never seen that but was perfectly happy to browse the shops and then sit in the sun for tea and a scone until it was time to leave. We were eating dinner in a pub outside of York and had ordered our food days earlier. When we got there, I was dismayed to see that I’d ordered fish again. I had eaten so much fish in the past week and was clearly over it. I also wasn’t hungry after the scone so ate a bit of my starter, none of my dinner and just had a single scoop of ice cream for dessert. I took a shower and went to bed as soon as we got back.

I had started Monday with hot flashes – the first I’d ever say I’d had. Well, by Tuesday, they were bad. I was actively sweating just sitting at breakfast. It didn’t help that it was about as hot outside as it ever gets in England. We had a sock knitting workshop in the morning so I opened a window and was OK. But when we went shopping in the afternoon, I was sweating like a pig. I went through half a box of Kleenex just wiping my head and neck. I looked stunning I’m sure. I did manage to hit a few stores I’d wanted to get to – The National Trust and Dutton’s for Buttons. I was out of room in my suitcase though so was judicious in what I bought. That evening, there was an open house at Philip and Jean’s, which was just a few blocks from the hotel. It was cooler by then and they put on a beautiful spread of food. It felt like the first normal food I’d eaten in weeks. After dinner, Jean got out her guitar and we had a sing along. I didn’t know most of the songs but it was still a fun time. I also got to pet their cat, which felt great.

Wednesday was our last full day and we went to Castle Howard. Having seen both versions of Brideshead Revisited (the 1981 PBS version was MUCH better than the movie), I was excited to see it. We had a private tour of the grounds and our guide took us to Ray Wood, which is a wonderful woodland that has many rare rhododendrons. It was also nice to be in the shade because I was still sweating. By now I’d given up on the Kleenex and was using the facecloths from the hotel, which was a big improvement. We had tea and cake in their café and were headed to the gift shop when the fire alarm went off and we were evacuated. Surreal for sure. It was the last shopping I’d do and I found a few last minute things then it was back to the hotel to pack. The space bags saved my butt. Even with two of them chock full of yarn, I barely got my suitcase closed. I had no room for cookies or any of the British food stuffs I normally bring home. Oh well. We ended the tour with a farewell dinner at an Italian restaurant. It was all delicious but while I was ready to go home, I knew I’d miss my new friends. I’d bonded with my Canadians (Irene, Gayle and Sue) and Cindy from Tennessee. Who knows when I’d see them again so it was a bit sad. It was a wonderful group and Philip and Jean were their usual fun selves.

Only five of us were headed to the airport on Thursday morning so they’d booked a minivan taxi that would pick us up at 6:00. We were all downstairs for an early breakfast (continental) and were on the road on schedule. Philip came to see us off, which was sweet, then we were bound for the airport. The trip home was completely uneventful. I got lots of knitting done and watched both of the movies on the flight. I grabbed a bad frapuccino (my first in 2 weeks!) at O’Hare and was back in Omaha on schedule at 4:40. Lori from knitting picked me up and I was back in my house by 6:15. It felt great to be home. I petted the cats as they bolted out the door and then unpacked.

I was determined to stay up until 9:00, at which point I would have been up for 23 hours straight but I thought that I’d sleep through the nice. Nope! I struggled to fall asleep and then was up in the wee hours and actually read from 4:00-5:30 before falling asleep. My friend Lorri called at 9:20 and woke me up. She actually thought I’d gone to work and so was going to leave a message. I guess it was good she got me up so I didn’t sleep all day but I was a zombie. I managed to do 4 loads of laundry but otherwise but sat like a lump waiting for bedtime. I went to bed at 9:00 (the magic hour) and was able to fall right asleep. I woke up early (5:00 a.m.) but at least slept all night. I felt much better when I woke up.

I grabbed BK for lunch and then headed to Fremont with Andrea. She needed to go to the cobbler’s and I just wanted to hit a grocery store for some produce. We also hit the quilt store and I bought some fat quarters for my Ravelry swap partner (a.k.a swapner.) It was nice to get out of the house. I slept even better that night and then had a relatively normal Sunday, cooking, doing chores and getting back to normal. I also swapped out my winter and summer clothes and in the process went through all my clothes, coming up with 4 huge stacks of clothes for Goodwill. That felt good.

I had wonderful memories of the trip but it felt good to be home and back to normal. And I still had another day before I had to head back to work. Perfect!

Week 21 - Happy in England

I know, I'm still way behind. I am still stuck on my trip weeks so am hoping to get the posts done tonight.

Monday was a slow day, which we all needed after such a long day Sunday. I started the day with my first English sausage. Yum! Then the morning was spent in our first class - design your own shawlette. I was totally into it and even found a skein of yarn from the last trip's classes that I'd liked so much that I took a pic of it. After three attempts, I had a good design and knitted away. I was still full from breakfast so didn't order lunch. We were scheduled for a tour of the gardens with the head gardener at 3:00 but just as we gathered outside, the skies opened up so we skipped it. Most of us just headed back to our shawlettes, having some nice tea and biscuits. The afternoon flew by and we had another wonderful dinner from the Cragwood kitchen. I had yet more fish. Yum again!

As is the usual on Jean's tours, a leisurely class day is followed by a day out so we were on the bus first thing Tuesday headed for Rydal Mount - William Wordsworth's house. The house was just a house but the gardens were amazing. Now I know next to nothing about the Romantic poets but they said he was inspired by nature and I could see why. When our guided tour was over, I went back outside while the others explored the house. I roamed every corner of the landscape, enjoying every minute. When we left, we headed to  Grassmere, a cute village with fun shops. Sue and I got lunch at The Potting Shed and shopped until it was time to be at the bus. From there we went to The Woolclip, a wonderful yarn shop and artist's coop. I found lots of pins and yarn, including the softest yarn I've ever touched. I got lots of presents and then it was back to Cragwood for another wonderful meal. I could get used to this life!

Wednesday was another full day. We had a different bus driver who drove like a bat out of hell and we were all nauseous by the time we got to our first stop, Crookabeck Angora Farm. We had to walk half a mile to the farm, which was a little piece of heaven. I had fun feeding the goats and, of course, buying more yarn and pins. Then it was off to Conniston Water (one of the lakes) for a gondola ride. It was another chilly, rainy day so I stayed inside knitting for most of the time. Fatigue was setting in big time so when we got to Brantwood, some famous British dude's house and gardens, I was spent. After seeing the house and their cheesy video, I made a bee line for the tea shop and enjoyed a cuppa until it was time to move on. We were having dinner in a pub in a nearby town but we got there just as the shops were closing and still had an hour to kill so ended up in the pub having cider and knitting. It was another fabulous meal with a super yummy smoked mackerel pâté for a starter. I was enjoying my culinary foray into every kind of fish on the menus. When we got back to the hotel, a few of us stayed up late chatting with the staff. We promised to teach our favorite waiter how to knit and went to bed happy.

After two days out, Thursday was a class in the morning and a free afternoon. After a morning of knitting, we all got together and hired a boat for a tour of Lake Windermere. The captain dropped a couple of people in the other side so they could hike, gave us a tour and then dropped us in the local town. I wanted to go to the Lakeland (a fun home store) flagship store and we decided to walk, which ended up being a mile and a half all up hill. It was tiring but worth the walk. I found all kinds of stocking stuffers and such. I bought very little besides yarn to take home but most of it came from Lakeland. We took a taxi back to Cragwood to pack. Our last dinner was the much anticipated monk fish. It's a good thing I hadn't googled it first cuz it's dead ugly but so delicious. I was sad to be leaving Cragwood. It had been a wonderful time and I enjoyed every minute there.

I tasted kippers (not bad) at my last Cragwood breakfast then we were on the road to York. We stopped at Farfield Mill, an old textile mill that was converted to an artists' coop and museum. It was a fun place and I found, you guessed it, more yarn. I did restrain myself some, believe it or not. Then it was on to the Wensleydale cheese visitor center. I'm not kidding. A cheese visitor center. I tasted about twenty kinds of cheese and had a piece of pie with more cheese. Then we went to a rope factory and a museum before getting back on the road. I was dismayed to find on getting to York that the hotel had no elevator and I was on the third floor. Sheesh! By now I was also getting a cold. Figures. Then we had a bizarre meal at the hotel, featuring gnocchi that was deep fat fried and had no sauce. Then the mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert was spearmint flavored so tasted like tooth paste. The food here was not going to be anywhere near as good as at Cragwood. Bummer.

Saturday started with a walking tour of York, lead by Philip. Then we had a behinds the scenes tour of the Minster with one of the broderers. We got to go behind the velvet ropes for close up views of the embroidery, which was gorgeous. Then it was on to the quilt museum, after stopping at a pub, where I didn't eat. I was feeling crappy by then and my knee was starting to bother me. So I shared a cab back to the hotel, stopping at the market for a sandwich for dinner. While the rest of the group was shopping and eating out, I was in my room, watching bad movies and eating my supermarket sandwich. It was a much needed rest and I felt better for it.

Our morning speaker had cancelled for Sunday so  we had a nice, late start. We went to Harlow Carr, a Royal Horticultural Society garden that was gorgeous. We had hours there to roam around and there was a Betty's tea room so we sat outside and enjoyed tea and scones in the sun. When we got back, Martin Storey (a knitting god) had arrived and gave us a lecture on his life in knitting. Then it was another disappointing meal, which lasted forever because Madelaine took an hour to eat her main course so we all had to wait. I ate my chocolate mouse at 10:00 (also disappointing) and went to bed feeling too full. Not a good way to end the week but the next day was Rowan so all was good in my world.