Monday, September 30, 2013

Week 39 - Putting Food By

It was a perfectly pleasant week for the most part. I got lots of canning done, which was on my list, and made more progress in the house but worry for Tilde, my oldest cat, dampened my mood a bit by the weekend.

I ran errands at lunch on Monday and stopped at Big Lots, where I scored some fun yarn for only $1/skein. I took it to knitting for show and tell and everyone was jealous. Yeah, I know. I don’t need more yarn. But at least it was cheap. I know. That’s why my house is so full. Let’s move on.

I had lunch with Darla on Tuesday and we conveniently went to HyVee for salad bar. This allowed me to buy a few things I needed for my canning day, which was what I’d declared Wednesday, which I’d taken off for (wait for it) canning! With a huge pre-surgery to do list, the only way I’d get it done was by taking a vacation day and devoting it to chutney, relish and jam. So that was the plan.

I had thought I’d wake up at my normal 5:52 but didn’t, enjoying a bit of a sleep in. That put me behind a bit but I was still chopping fruit/veg by 9:00 so not too bad. But when I was still chopping two hours later, it was clear I wouldn’t be done by noon, which had been my wishful thinking plan. But I had the relish veg chopped and soaking and the chutney ready to go when I left for my hair appointment at 12:30. After grabbing BK for lunch, I went right back to it – cooking the relish and chutney and prepping pears for jam. Clearly that would go into the freezer because I was running out of time and energy. I finished up just before 5:00 and only had 10 jars to show for a day’s work, which was a bit disheartening. There would be more canning coming on the weekend but I was still glad to have gotten started.

It was a teaching week so Tuesday and Thursday afternoons went by in a flash. I had book club on Thursday and couldn’t face swimming and going right to the library with no dinner (I’d already had a meeting over lunch) so went home and ate dinner like a normal person. We read Unwind for book club and the discussion could have been hairy but despite the divergent opinions around the table, we had a good discussion. Just one more day to go before the weekend. Yay!

I took my car into the tire place for the 3rd time on Friday and was happy that they finally could get my wheel fixed and without breaking the rusted part that would have cost me an extra $200. But the $200 I did spend didn’t seem to make much difference from what I could tell driving home. Still lots of wheel noise. Oh well. The tires were crap and now they’re cupped from the bum wheel so I’ll probably be buying new tires way sooner than the 60k miles these should have lasted. It’s always something. At least I was on the way home for the weekend.

I had some binge watching of Breaking Bad scheduled around my chores for the weekend. I started with 3 hours on Friday night and then interspersed the other 5 hours between chores on Saturday. I made a decent dent in the to do list so felt OK with my progress by Saturday’s end. After all, I still had Sunday to finish it all.

And finish I did. Since I would be spending some time in my bed in the near future, I stripped down to the bare mattress and washed all my bedding, switching over to the winter linens when I remade it. To the four loads of laundry I did, add 3 batches of jam – peach from Gordy’s family’s Colorado peaches I’d frozen, pear from Wednesday’s prep and mixed berry with the various bags of strawberry and raspberry puree I’d found when I cleaned out the freezer on Saturday. That was much quicker than the relish and chutney on Wednesday so despite starting after lunch, I had all three batches done and the kitchen cleaned up by tea time on Sunday. Jam gave me a much better bang for the buck than Wednesday’s savory canning had. Somewhere between all the weekend’s productivity, I managed to finish knitting 2 pairs of socks too. Nice.

But Tilde wasn’t doing well. There had been no improvement after Saturday’s vet visit, where I’d thought they do blood work but hadn’t. I went to bed worried. She looked just like Rebar and Toes, who both died of kidney failure. I was almost hoping it was diabetes, which the vet had mentioned, because that’d just mean insulin. I fell asleep knowing I’d be taking her back to the vet in the morning. All I had was hope.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Week 38 - Finding Lost Friends

It was a nice week. The weather broke, which made me very happy, and I had a wonderful surprise at the end of the week.

I got my 15 year service award on Tuesday, which was followed by the all university picnic so half the day was gone in a flash. I left early for an eye doctor appointment and so was home in time to make a nice dinner. After an evening of knitting, I went to bed early and slept like a rock. That was probably why I woke up in a fabulous mood on Wednesday. Then we were having a food day for a woman in AP who was retiring and those are always fun. After an afternoon that crawled by, the storms that came through and brought the cool weather were the icing on the cake. I was thrilled that fall weather was finally here.

Thursday and Friday flew by, punctuated by nice lunches with Dodie on Thursday and Layton on Friday. I was looking forward to the weekend to finish up the house cleaning. Yes,I did just say that.

I had errands to run in town on Saturday, which I got done in such short order that I worked up a sweat and had to shower before meeting Lori at Chips for lunch. I hadn’t invited Andrea because her shop is open until 1:00, which was when I was supposed to pick her up to go to spinning. But Lori had stopped at the shop and convinced Andrea to close up and come to lunch, which was yummy as usual. Then Andrea and I left for Fremont where she was teaching a class on Dorset buttons. From there we went to Goodwill then stopped at Lori’s to pick up produce. Her garden is amazing and we left with bags full of kale, cucumbers, tomatoes and butternut squash. I was good and did some cleaning before the end of the day. It helped that Lorri (the other one – 2 R’s) was coming over for lunch. Nothing like a deadline to get me motivated.

I got up and finished my housework on Sunday morning, which felt great. Lorri and I had also decided to pick up lunch at the local catholic church’s roast beef feed, which took the cooking pressure off. It’s a common thing in this area and is the deal of the century. For $9 you get roast beef, mashed potatoes, veg, cole slaw, a roll, a kolache and pie. It’s more than enough to eat twice. Lorri and I got take out enjoyed our lunch in my front room while catching up. After she left, I had a perfectly pleasant afternoon, knitting and doing laundry. But here’s the best thing about the week…

I had talked to Cornelia on Saturday morning and at the end of our call, she mentioned that she’d heard from our friend Maria who was at l’Universite d’Orleans with us. I had stayed in touch with Maria for years and visited her in London for years. The last time I saw her was when I flew over for her wedding. When I moved to Nebraska, we lost touch. I’d tried to find her over the years, going to her parents’ house in Hammersmith only to find they didn’t live there anymore. I even tracked down a John and Maria Ellis in London’s voter rolls and went to their apartment in North London. It wasn’t her. So, I was thrilled that she’d gotten in touch with Cornelia on LinkedIn so I logged into my dormant account and sent her a note. She replied back overnight. I’m excited that we’re back in touch and hope I can see her next year when I’m in France.

What a perfect end to the week and that’s on top of the arrival of fall, both officially and weather wise. My house was as clean as it gets and I’d decided to take Wednesday off to can all the produce I’ve been given in the past week. I’ll do pickle relish, pear jam and chutney as a start. And then there’s the kale to use. So much food, I need the day off. Wish me luck.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week 37 - Back on Track

After hitting the publish button on last week’s post, I only had to call the cats in and crawl into bed for the week to be done. But when Pie came in, I knew something was seriously wrong. Her mouth was open as wide as it could be and she couldn’t shut it. She also couldn’t swallow eat or drink and I had no idea how long she’d been that way because she’d been out all day. Well, there isn’t much you can do at 9:45 on a Sunday night in Wahoo. After calling both vets and getting no response and no offer of an emergency number, I googled around a bit and found nothing. All I could do was go to bed. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much but Pie actually purred when she jumped onto my bed, which she did several times during the night. Poor kitty.

I had emailed that I’d be in late so I could drop her at the vet at 8:00 but I the doc was already there at 7:15 so I dropped her off and was at work on time. Their plan was to sedate her and see if they could unlock her jaw. I called a few times during the day but didn’t get through until the end of the day. Her jaw had closed on its own once they sedated her and they had no clue what caused it. There is a rare degenerative muscular thing but they didn’t know if that was it. Let’s hope not. They’d given her a slow acting cortisone injection and wanted to keep her overnight since she was still half out. But I drove by the vet on the way home and they were still open so I stopped and they let me take her. She was a total noodle so I shut her in the bathroom and went to knitting. Her back legs weren’t working well but she scooted out when I got home and ran downstairs to use the box. I put a sweater on the floor and put out water for her and sat with her until she fell asleep downstairs. She was almost back to normal Tuesday morning, which was a big relief. I also slept better, which I desperately needed.

After a start like this, the rest of the week was a breeze. I swam on Tuesday with a new instructor, who is pretty bad. I couldn’t hear her nor figure out what she was doing so mostly did my own thing and chatted with Natasha. Somehow I still managed to pull a muscle in my arm, which I aggravated again in the pool on Thursday. It actually made it hard to get to sleep because I couldn’t get comfortable. Sheesh!

The weather broke on Wednesday. A big storm ushered in actual fall weather so I made sure to bring my knitting to work so I could take breaks to get outside and enjoy it. I love fall and couldn’t be happier that the blazing heat is gone.

I had no plans for the weekend and was thrilled to be staying home. I had a big to do list – cleaning and cooking mostly – and was excited to get my life back on track. I made my lists and got busy, interspersing chores with knitting throughout the weekend. On Sunday, Donna came over for help with her knitting and we had tea and chatted, which was a nice break. By the end of the day, the house was in much better shape, the frig was full of food and my swap package was addressed and waiting by the door. What a difference a week makes! I went to bed without any drama, ready to face a new week. Life is good. By the way, Pie seems fine.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Week 36 - Home from Spearfish

We woke up to hot weather on Monday and headed to the coffee shop for breakfast. Connie and Gordy have a big group of friends who meet there every morning so it was fun to meet them and chat. From there it was home to prep for the impromptu cookout they'd cook up for that evening. Connie had to work on her presentation for an interview she had on Wednesday so I got busy cooking - deviled eggs, a peach pie and burgers. Between that I knitted and helped edit the presentation. Just two people came for the cookout, which was nice despite the heat. We ended up inside chatting after we ate, attempting to escape the heat. We did a final edit on the presentation and I edited a file for Gordy's business at the end of the day then I showered and packed so I could get an early start.

I woke up early on Tuesday and had breakfasted and loaded the car before Connie got up at 6:00. I said my goodbyes and stopped at Starbuck's before hitting the road. I was taking the fast way home (only 10 hours) via I-90, which has to be the dullest road EVER. I stopped at every single rest stop along the way, worried that if I didn't I'd be desperate to pee with nowhere to go. I broke for lunch in Mitchell, stopping at two thrift stores, BK and for gas plus did a drive by of The Corn Palace. It's Mitchell's claim to fame but I didn't see the big deal. Kind of like Wall Drug. I guess I'm just not into touristy stuff. I'll take nature any day.

I had planned to cut south between Valentine and Yankton on a route I'd never taken before. But when I got off of the highway at that exit, it was deserted and the next town I'd encounter was 65 miles away. If I went into a ditch, I wouldn't be found for weeks so I got back on I-90 and took it all the way to Sioux Falls, which meant more miles but I could go 75 the whole way. I was listening to Unwind, the book club book, and was enjoying it so the time went pretty quickly. It didn't start feeling endless until I was headed south, which meant another 3.5 hours on smaller roads. By the time I got out of the car at home, I was light headed and exhausted. I forced myself to unpack and get some laundry on before giving up for the night. I went to bed early and was actually looking forward to work and some sense of normalcy.

Before I could get back to normal, I had to meet with the surgeon on Wednesday at 1:00. I had lunch with Helen in the hospital cafeteria beforehand and then listened to the doctor's speech on the wonders of laparoscopic surgery. The good news was I would only be in the hospital for three days and then would have no restrictions. I scheduled the surgery for October 9th and started making pre-surgery lists. Otherwise the rest of the week flew by. All normal. Normal felt great for a change.

Unfortunately my weekend was jam packed and I was a bit cranky about that and had to talk myself out of my funk. I had Friends first thing on Saturday then hit the bag sale before driving to Fremont to meet up with Nancy's friends for afternoon tea at the Loess Hills Lavender Farm. It was blazing hot when we left but the sun went behind clouds, which took the edge off the heat. We had a lovely tea, tempered somewhat by the owner doing a presentation on the farm when we'd have preferred to be chatting over our tea. After shopping in the gift shop, we went out to the fields to pick bunches of lavender, which was the steal of the day at only $5. I was home before 6:00 and spent the evening knitting and watching TV. It was a welcome respite.

Andrea picked me up on Sunday for what was supposed to be a quick trip to Omaha. We had a short list of places to hit with the goal of being as quick as possible. That all went out the window when we met Lori at Tuesday Morning to shop for yarn. After finding nothing at the first one, we hit pay dirt at the 2nd Tuesday Morning so decided to hit the third in hopes of scoring more, which we did. But when we split up, it was already after 1:00, which had been our goal to be back in Wahoo. Four shops and Aldi later, we headed back home, arriving just before 4:00. I forced myself to pick up the kitchen and start laundry before sitting down for tea and to return phone calls. I never got any cooking done but will have clean undies for the week so I'll survive. I'm totally looking forward to a normal , 5 day work week with swimming, lunches out and everything as normal as possible. What are the chances?

Week 35 - Better Every Day

Like I said, when you start the week with a colonoscopy, it can only get better. And between the colonoscopy on Monday and Friday a vacation day, it was a short week, which is always nice. Kind of like a bonus for putting up with all the sh*t. : )

It was good to get back to normal on Tuesday - eating, working, swimming, everything. I taught that afternoon so the day flew but I experienced some discomfort while I was slamming around in the pool so maybe I should have taken a day off? I just moved deeper and that helped some but I was glad to be done and headed home for dinner. It's amazing what not eating for the a day and a half will do towards making you appreciate a meal.

I took my car into my mechanic on Wednesday to check out the strange road noise I'd been hearing. They checked everything, including the wheel bearings, and said it was the tires, which were "cupping." I had lunch with Dodie then went out for coffee in the afternoon with a programmer I'd worked with on IDM to wish him well on his move to Texas. Then there was no swimming so it felt like a short day in a short week. Nice!

I woke up at 4:00 a.m. on Thursday and couldn't get back to sleep so got up and finished washing pots and pans and watched some West Wing (my current binge watching on Netflix) before work. After lunch with Darla, I taught again all afternoon so the day flew again. I went home to do laundry and finish packing so I could be on the road first thing. Well, Andrea had reminded me that house taxes were due so I couldn't leave Wahoo until 8:00 when the courthouse opened but early enough.

I paid my taxes and got on the road. I was dropping yarn at a friend's house on the way and so would be taking the most direct route that takes a bit longer but is picturesque. After a few stops, which involved some thrift shops and potty breaks, I decided the scenic route was all that and so called Nora at work to get the route numbers to go scenic all the way - across northern Nebraska all the way to Chadron before heading north. Well, that seemed like a good idea until about hour 9, when I had just crossed into South Dakota and still had 2.5 hours to go. Never again! After 11.5 hours behind the wheel, I was beat. It was great to see Connie though and we went out to dinner in a neighboring town where a friend of Gordy's was playing. We didn't stay long though so I went to bed pretty early, which I needed. Get this though. I went to get into the bed and found it full of cat hair. Since I was the last one up, I brushed some of the hair off and went to bed uncaring. When I asked Connie about it she said she'd asked Gordy to "make the bed," which he did. She should have specifically asked him to change the sheets apparently. Men!

Gordy redeemed himself by making us bacon and eggs in his "outdoor kitchen." This is a table he built against the house with a hotplate and a crockpot. Worked for me. We ate outside in the cool air while watching deer outside the fence. Perfect. Connie and I headed to Rapid City where we ran errands, did a little shopping and got a frapuccino before heading to Chubby Chupmunk for truffles. Best.truffles.ever. I spent $52 on enough for us, work and gifts. We watched 42 and went to bed.

Sunday was another wonderful day. We made a picnic lunch (have you tried making chicken salad with red grapes and walnuts? Am I the last person to find out how yummy this is?) and headed to Rough Lock Falls, which is half way up Spearfish Canyon and a wonderful place to wade. After walking along the falls, we found a picnic table to eat and then put our feet in the water. For 2 seconds because any longer was painful. Still made me happy to get my feet wet. From there we headed to Rochford, which is a wide spot in the road WAY up in the hills. At 2:00 people started showing up for song circle with guitars but one guy had a banjo. Lots of other people were there to listen. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. When we headed back down, we stopped and had dinner at Dough Traders Pizza in Spearfish, which was wonderful - a fitting end to a fun day. What a pleasant contrast to the colonoscopy at the beginning of the week. : )