Sunday, November 25, 2012

Week 48 - Enjoying Time Off

Monday dawned bright and shiny. Day one of my vacation and it was going to be gorgeous and warm. I was still resisting making a list but had in my head that I should do something inside each morning and some yard work in the afternoon.  Well, I can’t say I did anything project like on Monday morning but I did make a bunch of phone calls and ran some errands. Then it was right outside after lunch to tackle the parking strip. I took a ridiculous amount of time to trim all the perennials and haul them to the compost pile but I felt great when I came in for a shower and tea with yummy cookies from the St. Wenc cookie sale. Then it was on to knitting. What a nice day with the perfect combo of relaxing and productivity. Now to keep that up.

I had made vet appointments for Wrennie and Pixel on Tuesday morning. They both got shots and a clean bill of health. FYI, it’s really hard to get blood out of a cat. I wasn’t home 5 minutes from the vet and the Windstream man was at my door. Guess what – I need a new phone! Not a new old phone like the one I got from my sisters but a new new phone. At least I know my problems aren’t the line. But between the vet dismissing my worries and the phone guy’s eye rolling, it wasn’t a banner morning. But I had lunch at Rezac’s (the little country cafĂ© 6 miles west of Wahoo) with Nancy Meyer and then we hit the country gift shop, where I scored a few stocking stuffers. I gave Nancy the socks I’d knitted for her and they fit. After she left, I got a call from Lori. She was at Andrea’s shop with 3 turkeys – 1 for each of us. Now I wouldn’t have to drive to Omaha for a cheap turkey. I know, it’s not cheap if you spend $6 in gas but I just couldn’t pay full price in Wahoo. Problem solved though. Thanks Lori. I took the 14 pounder and headed home to mow, which was more about chopping up the leaves than mowing but it looked great when I was done. Then more tea and cookies. I could totally get used to this. And I’d decided to get Billy back to help with the heavy yard work so kept calling all afternoon but wasn’t getting through. Hmmm….

Since it was Wednesday and I hadn’t done anything substantial inside, I decide to tackle the cabinets under the bar, which were loaded with stuff I don’t use and a tangled mess of Tupperware and assorted plastic. It took longer than I’d thought it would but I had more space and big Goodwill pile when I was done. But all the bending didn’t do my knees any favors. Oh well. And since I still hadn’t gotten through on Billy’s cell, I went to Burger King on the way home from the market (bought everything for Thanksgiving dinner, which was going to be on Sunday) and left a note on my neighbor’s car, hoping she’d get in touch with Billy’s mom who works here with her. But since it was going to be the last warm afternoon, I couldn’t wait so went home to more yard clean up. I pulled all the weeds from the veg beds and started schlepping all the dead pots and emptying them into the beds. After a couple of hours, my knees were singing so I decided to stop. Within minutes, Billy showed up at my door and he picked up where I left off, weeding until it was too dark to see. He left at 5:30 and I called Pizza Hut. The whole world was having pizza because they were busy prepping for Thanksgiving on Thursday. I was just being lazy. Oh well. It was fast and yummy and I was tired.

I was warm again on Thursday morning but it wouldn’t last so I went outside to disconnect and drain the hoses. The front came through just before noon with a cold north wind. I headed inside figuring the temp would plummet like they’d predicted. But when I went outside mid afternoon, it was still warm so I cleaned up the deck and set up the birdfeeders. My yard was looking better than it ever had at the end of the season and Billy and his partner Amanda were coming back on Friday. Yay! It was only slightly weird to be not doing Thanksgiving on the day but I talked to both of my sisters and Carolyn so gave thanks for family and friends and ate some leftover pizza. I could wait until Sunday for my turkey.

It was butt cold on Friday so I enjoyed a day inside. Lots of knitting and I decided to dye some yarn to commemorate my last day of vacation. Billy and Amanda came at 3:30 and cleaned my gutters, finished weeding, shifted the big brush to the edge of the alley and moved the compost pile from the back of the garage so I can have my compost bins built. Done! I can’t imagine what else I’d have them do the yard looks so good. What a nice way to end my official vacation days.

OK, at this point I’d been in Wahoo for seven days and was ready to get out of Dodge. I picked Andrea up at 1:00 and we headed to Omaha. I had a big Penzey’s list for Carolyn and wanted to hit Aldi for a big stock up.  We hit a few other stores in between but not too many so were home just after 5:00. I put 2 pies in the oven – pumpkin and blueberry – before sitting down to the last of the pizza and an evening of chopping veggies. By the time I went to bed, everything was ready for Sunday except the broccoli. There was no way I was going to chance having stress dreams.
I was up before 6:00 Sunday (I woke up most days at my regular time, despite being on vacation) and made a nice breakfast of pancakes and eggs before sitting down with the paper. My goal was to have the turkey stuffed and in the oven by 10:00. It was in by 10:02 so I was happy. I put in the leaf and set the table before getting into the shower. Lorri stopped by after church and then Helen came early to help with last minute stuff. Brenda, Michael and Charlie arrived and dinner was on the table right on time at 1:30. Everything was yummy. We played games after dinner – Farkle (I lost) and Fishing Monopoly, which I won. But sheesh, talk about a four hour commitment! Everyone packed up leftovers and headed out. It was a nice end to a wonderful week off. And now I have leftovers to eat all week. While the rest of the world is getting sick of theirs, mine are just beginning. I’ll say it again – Life is Good!


Week 47 - Prepping for Vacation

Just 5 more days. That’s what I was thinking at the start of the week. Five more days and I’d be off for nine. I could only hope it wasn’t going to drag.

Monday morning started with slamming through data for Mary. It started out innocently but by the 4th request, I asked what was up, only to find out Mary had a meeting with the VC right after lunch. Needless to say, the morning was over in a flash. So far, so good. Once Mary was all set, Darla and I went to HyVee for salad bar lunch. The afternoon didn’t drag either then I swam, ate a sandwich in the car and went right to the library for knitting. One down, four to go.

Tuesday was a food day and I hadn’t made my cottage cheese dip yet so did that first thing instead of eating breakfast and so grabbed a donut at work. I was tired from the long day Monday and not sleeping well (story of my life lately) and so was exhausted by the end of the day. I had planned to swim all four days since I wouldn’t be swimming while on vacation but when 5:00 hit, I just couldn’t do it. It didn’t help that the Tuesday instructor is my least favorite then when I saw the cats all milling around, that clinched it. I decided to hang with the campus kitties for awhile and not swim. And I was fine with that decision. I stopped at Dollar General on the way home and then to partially redeem myself, I prepped my swap package so I could mail it on Wednesday. I did the customs form online and almost keeled over when I saw the shipping price - $54! There wasn’t stuff worth that much in the box! Oh well. Next swap will just need to be domestic and I had better get a good package from a far off (not Canada!) country.

I mailed the package at the Union on Wednesday morning and then just ate at my desk and powered through work. I was making good progress on the dregs of my to do list. I swam and then went home to Survivor. Just two more days.

Darla was coming over for breakfast on Thursday because she was going to be in Wahoo for her niece’s adoption hearing. When the hearing was scheduled, she’d invited herself and I was fine with that. Despite being completely ready for an easy pancakes and bacon breakfast, I still had stress dreams so slept badly AGAIN! But we had fun and chatted until I absolutely had to leave for work. I was late, of course. I wasn’t hungry at lunch so Dodie and I went for bagels, which is her favorite lunch. Jennifer got me a frapuccino to get me through the afternoon and then I swam. Just one more day.

Nora had been out on and off all week with a sick kid so didn’t come in until noon, at which point we headed to the Union for the international food fair, which we try to hit every year. I got a turnover thing from the Indian students and a meat pie from the Russians. The rest of the day flew and I was done! I headed to the thrift store with Darla because that’s our Friday thing. We were happily doing the racks and bumped into someone from campus. Well, we were talking in the housewares aisle and she coughed with her mouth wide open and a loogie hit my lip! OMG! I was SO grossed out and appalled. Who does that beyond the age of 3? I wiped my lip on my collar and Darla and I walked away. When I got to the car, I pulled out a wet wipe and scrubbed away at my mouth thinking that there’d be hell to pay if I got sick on my vacation. Well, it wasn’t a cold I had to worry about.

I got right in the shower when I got home, still fighting the skeev factor. I pulled out my new nightie and sat down to watch some TV. But there was something going on with my stomach. I’d commented to Darla that I felt like I’d eaten a side of beef and now I was feeling queasy. Long story short, I barfed my insides out! This was not an auspicious start to my week off, especially because I didn’t quite make it to the bathroom so had some clean up to do. The only good thing was I felt instantly better once my stomach was empty. I went to bed early and hoped I was fine.

I slept for 9-1/2 hours and woke up feeling fine. Whewh! I could only hope there wasn’t a cold in my future. I had a pretty normal Saturday – errands and knitting. Sunday was normal too – chores mostly and a well timed trip to the Catholic school for their cookie sale, which is the best ever because you stand in front of a table loaded with cookies and they pack the ones you want. Nice. Andrea came over for knitting and tea in the afternoon, which is always fun.

As for the rest of the vacation, which would official start on Monday, I was planning on taking it easy so hadn’t even made a to do list. I wasn’t sure if I could leave it that way but went to bed happy to have the next seven days off. Life is good!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Week 46 - Reframing Veg Time

The week didn’t start off well. Monday was a normal day at work and then knitting at the library. Then I went to bed. I fell asleep fine but was up from 1:15-4:30. No reason. I stayed in bed for awhile but when it was clear I wouldn’t be sleeping anytime soon, I got up and organized all my knitting (needles, yarn, accessories, frogged a project.) When I was done with that, I read until 4:30, at which point I turned off the light and fell asleep eventually. Sheesh!

When the alarm went off at 5:52, I turned it off and rolled over. I had considered calling in when I was still awake but woke up at 7:11 (from a disturbing dream but at least I was sleeping hard enough to dream!) and decided to go to work. I was in the shower directly from bed then just grabbed lunch stuff and a yogurt and scone for breakfast and was out the door at 7:50 and at my desk by 8:30. Needless to say, I was a zombie but made it through most of the day, actually getting a lot of little things done from my to do list. I left at 4:15 and headed to the polls. I voted then had cereal for breakfast and waited for bedtime, doing nothing to get a second wind. I went to be right after 9:00, at which point the election was head to head and I hoped worry wouldn’t keep me awake. I needn’t have worried. I was out like a light. I did stumble out to the TV at 12:40 when I woke up, sighed with relief and went back to bed, sleeping until my alarm went off.

Besides Obama, everyone I voted for lost but then that’s par for the course. I felt so much better rested and would have a good lunch. I had invited Darla to UAAD for lunch because Paul Wesselmann, the Ripples Guy, was presenting and he’s one of my very favorite people. Not only was it a good meeting but there was a drawing for people who brought guest and I won! A subwoofer and speakers for my computer. Nice. I swam after work and went to bed early again in an attempt to catch up on some more sleep.

I was looking forward to Thursday because there was an all afternoon professional development session with Paul. The morning flew then I grabbed soup and a bagel with Dodie before heading to Paul’s PD, which was wonderful. Since it was off campus and didn’t get over until 4:30, I left from there and picked Darla up for a thrift run. We found a few things and had fun, as always.

I was going up in the elevator with Josh on Friday and he mentioned that with Nora out, the mice could play. NOT! My phone was ringing before I had my coat off and two other people were waiting for something from me. Then Nora called with a project that took the rest of the day. After a quick lunch with Layton and finishing everything else, I dug in on that. I was super frustrated and only then remembered that I had felt this way before on the same project. I checked the documentation file and found that it couldn’t be done! We tried the same thing a year ago and didn’t have the supporting data so I pulled out some pdf’s and started plugging data. I met with Mary and dug into some detail for her and didn’t finish until 4:45. The day was over in a flash. I stopped at The Warehouse on the way home and scored on their buy 10 frozen items and they’re 50% off. I got 7 pints of Ben & Jerry’s, enough blueberries for a pie, a pork roast and a Lean Cuisine for $18.50. It’s always good to end the work week with a deal.

Since it was supposed to be 77 on Saturday, I was going to spent it doing yard work. But before I headed out, I finished all the inside stuff that had to be done in case I blew out my knee. Yes, that’s where my mind goes these days. With the cat boxes changed and the laundry hanging on the line, I headed to Andrea’s to pick up her cordless hedge trimmer, getting BK for us before dropping her keys back at the shop. I planted my last perennials and started the hedge, which is HUGE, covering half of the front of my house. The charge on the trimmer only lasted 5 minutes so I did the rest by hand. But the bush is so big that I can’t reach the middle, even after trimming what I could reach from inside my bedroom hanging out the window.  Since my neighbor always seems to have kids in her house, I headed over there in search of a kid to finish my hedge. Did I hit pay dirt! For $10, Billy climbed the ladder and did a great job of finishing my hedge. Then he said he would do anything in my yard that needed doing. I wrote his number down, thrilled to have someone to call for gutter cleaning and such. Yay!

With the yard work and all the must do chores done, Sunday was a nice relaxing day. I cleaned up the kitchen and did some cooking plus lots of knitting and even some reading in the sun in the afternoon. Since a front had come through and the temp had plummeted, it was a nice day to stay inside. Plus I was now thinking of my vegging as necessary recovery time thanks to Paul’s wisdom so didn’t feel guilty at all. It’s time to cut myself some slack for taking a day off. Thanks Paul.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Week 45 - Back to Reality

Monday was my last day in Spearfish and we started it by going to morning coffee at Common Grounds. There was a gang of people there, mostly retired or self-employed, and it was fun. I talked to a woman from Nebraska who knits and does some felting so I was happy. The yummy latte was the icing on the cake. From there, Connie and I headed to the craft store to buy needles and yarn so Connie could knit. She’d done some when her kids were small and was willing to try some again. Yay! We also hit a thrift shop, which was a mess – the kind with stuff crammed together so much that you couldn’t really shop – before heading home. Gordy had cooked some bacon but by the time we got home it was more like lunch time so we had bacon and peanut butter sandwiches (hey, don’t make that face! It delicious. Try it.) and then headed outside to sit on the patio and knit. There were also lots of phone calls to our east coast peeps to see how they were faring with Sandy. Connie’s daughter lives 2 blocks from the beach in Atlantic City so she was at an inland Ramada riding it out with her dogs. RI wasn’t having much trouble.

Anyway, it was a wonderfully relaxing afternoon. I was working on socks, of course, and Connie did great with her dish cloth. I guess knitting’s like riding a bike because she looked like a pro.

The deer – 4 bucks and 4 does – kept us company, lounging under the bushes and I attempted to feed them carrots but could only get about 20 feet from them before they backed away. When it got too chilly outside, we went in for a pasta dinner. I had introduced them to Dreamfields Pasta, which is diabetic friendly so Gordy was thrilled to eat the formerly forbidden food. I finally got a beautiful sunset, after which we watched Billy Elliot. When we all headed to bed, I packed. I wanted to be ready to go when I got up.

I woke up at 4:45 mountain time, which is when my alarm goes off on work days. When it was clear I wasn’t going to fall back asleep, I got up, dressed and put my suitcase in the car before waking Connie up for a quick hug goodbye. I was on the road by 5:30 and left McDonald’s in Spearfish at 5:50. I drove east, still not sure what my route would be. I had planned to go home via Chadron but that would be longer time wise and I just wanted to get home. So I drove I-90 until north of Valentine and then crossed into Nebraska, which is a way I’m familiar with from tubing in Long Pine. The ride home was uneventful. I didn’t really stop except to get gas and a Moolatte at DQ in O’Neill. I was home by 3:30. Nice! I unpacked and did some pruning of the crabapple and yew in front so trick or treaters could get to the step unimpeded and went to bed early. I was tired!

Wednesday was spent slogging through emails and such from just 3 days gone and getting a handle on my to do list. The day flew by and I went home to hand out candy. I had lots of trick or treaters and this year I got exactly the right amount of candy – 6 bags. I chatted with my sister Ginny while sitting at the front table while the kids were coming to the door and when I turned off the light, I had 8 pieces of candy left. Just enough for snacks for a few days. Nice. I do so enjoy seeing all the kids dressed up. I loved Halloween as a kid and had a big party with all my friends every year so it brings back good memories. We’d meet at my house to play a few games and carve pumpkins then while we were out trick or treating, my mom would roast the pumpkin seeds and we’d all come back for seeds and cocoa. Memories!

Thursday was monthly reports so that day flew too. Darla and I had planned to go to Cloud Atlas after work but she was stressing and wanted to work late to finish her monthly reports so we cancelled, which was fine by me because I was exhausted. All the nights of not sleeping in my bed had caught up to me. I also wanted to go home and finish the audiobook I’d listened to up and back to SD – The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. This was a book that Amazon kept telling me I’d like and since the library had it, I was in. It was 18 cd’s and I had the last 2 to go. After listening for 20+ hours and enjoying it, I was excited about the end. OMG! It was THE WORST ENDING OF A BOOK EVER! The author killed everyone off that you ever cared about, except the mother but she was catatonic. I was viscerally disturbed by the ending and despite being bone tired, had to turn on the TV to try and focus on something else. It worked until I went to bed and then I had to read because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’ve got to say, I have never reacted so strongly to a book ending like that. What was the author smoking?

Friday was more monthly reports but we were pretty much done by noon. I went to The Red Fox with Layton for lunch and had a meat and potatoes meal of pork chops (deep fat fried – yikes!), mashed potatoes and green beans. I was craving protein so certainly got some. After lunch it was back to my to do list, doing some niggling things that had been on it for awhile. Darla and I went thrifting after work and then I headed home for a much anticipated weekend.

The cleaning lady had come while I was gone so the house was in pretty good shape. I had lots of errands to do though. I had to pick up the book sale money from the library and prep the many separate deposits – book sale, fall fair, dues, etc. – and get them to the bank before noon. Then I hit the bag sale at the Senior Center Thrift Shop (filled one bag but only with stuff for friends) and then stopped at Andrea’s shop to drop the plates I’d picked up for her. Well, Lori stopped by to buy yarn and we talked well past closing time. I didn’t get home until almost 2:00 and by the time I ate some lunch, the day seemed shot. I did some knitting and caught up on some TV that I’d missed and before I knew it, it was time for bed. I set all the clocks back and hit the hay hoping I’d get a good night’s sleep, which is rare these days.

I slept OK and then tried to get things done on Sunday. I had three loads of laundry done, the desk cleared off and scones in the oven when Andrea and Lori showed up to knit, which we’d arranged the day before. I had hoped we could sit on the deck but the sun wasn’t out and it was only in the 50’s so we sat inside, chatting, drinking tea and eating these yummy scones. They left just before 6:00 and I scrambled to get a few more things done. While I didn’t get everything I’d planned done, I still felt relatively caught up and had had some fun and relaxation to boot. It was, all in all, a good week and weekend.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Week 44 - Headed to Spearfish

Before I could plan anything for the week, I had to confirm with Connie that she was still up for a visit. We’d talked about it right before she was heading to NYC for 10 days to visit her daughters so I just wanted to make sure having me come 2 days after she got back was still OK now that she was actually away. I called and she said she was stoked so the preparations began.

I had my last (hopefully for a long time) appointment with the ortho doc on Monday. It was at 4:10 so I left work at 3:45 only to sit in the waiting room until 5:20. Sheesh! But since I was “fit in” the day after I blew out my knee and so caused delays for everyone, no complaints from me. I just sat and knitted until they took me down. I wasn’t sure why I was there and other than a bit of prodding from the PA, the only thing the doc and I discussed was traveling in Ireland. Whatever. If he wanted to see me, I was there. I’ve got to keep on his good side for the next time I need an emergency shot. With the big delay, I didn’t get home early at all so grabbed some quick dinner then headed to knitting.

I didn’t sleep well at all Monday night so spent the next couple of days in a fog while getting ready, both at work and at home. I was trying to get allocations done at work before I left and, of course, had to teach two afternoons. I was waiting for a file before I could start so was antsy until that came and then cranked like a banshee to get them done. Since I was going to be in late on Thursday and teaching all after, I worked at home Wednesday night while doing laundry, hoping that having that done would let me sleep better. It was all for nothing though because on Thursday morning the boss changed the rules and I had to rewrite all the queries. I ran to the bagel shop with Dodie for lunch when I’d done all I could without getting answers from people who were in a meeting - it’s good to have flexible friends. I managed to get the journal entries prepared before training all afternoon, only to face more problems after my class. But I did get them done and got out of work half an hour early so I could head home to pack. It had been a whirlwind of a week and now I was in the home stretch.

I was on the road just after 8:00 on Friday, which was pretty much on time. I had a 7 hour ride to get to Brown Sheep Yarn in Mitchell, Nebraska. This was quite a bit out of the way but would only add 100 miles to my trip and was the closest I’d ever get without making a special trip. It was a pretty ride with a bit of snow on the ground and I got to see Chimney Rock and Scottsbluff. I had packed a lunch so only stopped to pee and get gas so was there by 2:30. After picking up lots of yarn in the shop (all seconds and cheap!), I told the woman I wanted some lint, which is what they call the waste fiber from the huge spinning machines. She picked up some plastic bags and into the factory we went. I rummaged through huge boxes of fiber next to all the spinning machines and came out with a big bag to add to my yarn. Now to buy a new spinning wheel. Anyway, I was glad I stopped there. It was lots of fun. But by the time I left, I only had a couple of hours of light left and I was headed into the wasteland that is eastern Wyoming. I was on the phone with Andrea when I lost cellular service and I didn’t get it back until I approached Spearfish. I stopped in Newcastle, thinking I could get a burger (nope! A gas station hot dog was all I found) and confirmed with a cowboy sheriff that I was headed in the right direction (note to self – have more than a 4” map from mapquest before you head on your next trip!) I was behind a Safeway semi for quite a while and was thrilled when I could pass him so that if I went into a ditch, someone would see me. Seriously. That’s what I was thinking. I arrived safe and sound at Connie’s just after 8:00. It was wonderful to see her and Gordy and to get out of the car!

On Saturday, Gordy made us bacon and eggs and then Connie and I headed to Rapid City. I wanted to hit their yarn shop and she had some errands – Target, the health food store, the mall (yikes!), etc. I resisted buying more yarn and then we shopped here and there, ending at Texas Roadhouse for ribs, Caesar salad and baked sweet potatoes. Yum! This had been a favorite on our old Omaha runs so it felt like old times. We drove back to Spearfish and met Gordy at Common Grounds, the coffee shop they hang at where Gordy was doing Song Circle – where people show up to play and sing. It was nice but I was SO hot (yes, the hot flashes continue) that I had to sit outside on and off until we left. I took the opportunity to call Carolyn and see how they were faring with Sandy. All was fine. Meanwhile Connie’s daughter, who lives in Atlantic City, was holed up in an inland hotel. There were lots of Sandy calls over the weekend. Anyway, we had a light supper of salad and fish then streamed Albert Nobbs (odd movie) on Netflix. We all went to bed early.

On Sunday we headed up into the mountains for breakfast at Cheyenne Crossing, which is a wide spot in the road up Spearfish Canyon. I had a skillet with hash browns covered with taco meat, salsa and an egg with toast. I would never have thought of that for breakfast but it was yummy! From there we headed further into the hills, stopping at Rochford (made Cheyenne Crossing look huge!) where Gordy knew the bar owner and we had fun playing with her dog. We then stopped at his friend Paul’s (even higher up) and visited there awhile. He had a new puppy so that was fun. We drove home via Deadwood so we could get truffles at the Chubby Chipmunk – the best chocolate I’ve ever eaten and a must do when I’m visiting Connie. We made a big pot of pea soup when we got home and watched The Matrix. What a nice end to the week.