Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Week 3 - My Happy Feet

It was another week of extreme, and freaky, weather. Very disconcerting. But it was yet another short work week. Gotta love those! And finally, it was back to the pool. That felt great. But the best thing of all was shoes. Shoes, slippers and happy feet.
This semester it’s back to marathon Mondays. Last year, after trying to go from work to the pool to knitting, which I managed for a few months, I stopped swimming on Mondays in favor of having time for dinner at home between work and the library. But this semester, my favorite instructor is teaching my favorite class (Water in Motion) on Mondays so I’m back to a 13 hour day. But this Monday I tried something different instead of eating in the car, which may work. I had run errands at lunch and went through Taco Bell’s drive thru afterwards for a grilled stuffed burrito. Well I don’t know if they got bigger since Nora was pregnant with Elise and we ate them at least twice a week but it looked so huge that I only ate half of it for lunch and ate the other half at my desk at 4:30. That way I was fine to go directly to knitting after the pool. The inevitable treats at knitting were all I needed for the rest of the night. This may be my plan for Mondays going forward.
I did stop home briefly before knitting to pick up the ruggelach I’d made and found my new Birks in the mailbox. Finally, after 1.5 years of daily emails from ebay, someone had posted my long-discontinued favorite pair of Birks that had been ruined when the Birkenstock store tried to resole them. I had bought them the previous week and was super excited to get them. So excited that I took them to knitting for show and tell. We were meeting in the Vets’ Club since the library was out of commission, which meant we could knit past 8:00. So make it a 14 hour day. Fun but a long day to start the week. Good thing I had new shoe energy going on. : )
With my birks finally replaced (and yes, I did wear them to work on Tuesday and showed everyone), it was time to use the $75 credit they’d placed on account for me at the birk store (small recompense for killing my shoes, but I digress) for some new slippers. I ran to the birk store in southern Lincoln over lunch on Wednesday and got a pair of hard soled Haflinger slippers. I’d had an all wool pair of these in the past but now I had real soles so could run to the garage or out the garden in my slippers. Nice.
In a flash, it was noon on Friday. I had taken the other half vacation day to even out my bank (I’m anal that way) from taking the half day on the 3rd. My plan was to spend 4 afternoons in the basement slogging through the craft room. So I headed straight home and only stayed upstairs long enough to eat lunch. By the time I lost the light, which pours into the west window all afternoon, I made huge progress. The table was completely cleared off and the stuff on the floor was way better organized. I was pleased but my knees were feeling it.
Saturday was spinning but I’d already bailed on that so I could keep going on the craft room. To give my knees a break, I focused on the wall unit, sitting in front of each section and going through everything. I ended that day with stacks – books for the library, a bag for Goodwill and lots of trash. Several shelves were completely empty just waiting to be filled with the right stuff. That’d be next.
I mentioned the weather, right? Well, the temps were high normal all week but the wind was the story. Thursday featured 60 mile an hour wind gusts, which were strong enough to flip the cat house onto its back. Sheesh! On Sunday it was 67 degrees. Yup, 67 in January. I had to take advantage of that so instead of working inside, I did yard work. In a t-shirt. Perfectly comfortable. I cut the perennials in the parking (that’s Midwest speak for the strip between the sidewalk and the street) because they act as a snow fence and my sidewalk is always covered with drifts when it snows. I composted all that then puttered around the yard, ending by taking the Christmas tree out of the stand and throwing that behind the garage. By the time I was done my arms were shaking and it was time for some tea and relaxation, which lead to dinner and Downton Abbey and the Sherlock premier. I was super tired and went to bed exhausted but feeling good about my progress and knowing I had MLK Day to finish things up. That was the plan anyway. Time would tell.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Week 2 - Lows and Highs

Such freaky weather! The week started with -14 degrees but feeling like -40 with the wind chill and ended with 55 degrees just 7 days later.  Ups and downs are pretty typical here and they usually average out to what would be a normal temp but even the 55 couldn’t average -14 to normal. Talk about climate change!

Lots of schools and businesses had already announced they’d be closed on Monday but as usual, UNL was not closed and sent us an email saying as much on Sunday night. So I set my alarm and got up on Monday but just couldn’t face going outside. I kept going through the motions but when I got into a fresh nightie after my shower, any chance of going to work was over. I sent an email saying I was taking a vacation day (gotta love working in higher ed.) I hadn’t slept well because Pie, my former feral cat, hadn’t come in overnight so I’d been up several times during the night to call her but wasn’t too worried because she’s street smart. She came in first thing so I kept all the cats inside and settled in for a nice day at home.

It was a good day to cook and despite the cold, the sun was shining so I was comfy in my back room, knitting in the sun while the furnace cranked full bore all day. I made ruggelach and sugar cookies to take to knitting and tetrazzini, which I split so I could drop some for Donna, who’d had surgery on her hand. When I drove that over at 5:30, that was the first I’d been out of the house. It wasn’t as bad out by then – still cold but the wind had died down so it was tolerable. I ate some tetrazzini and Brussels sprouts then headed back to pick up Donna for knitting at the library. We were doing our secret santa swap so almost everyone brought treats. We had fun opening our gifts and I got the book Think Outside the Sox from Lori, which was totally fun to peruse and is full of fabulous sock patterns.

Alas, it was back to work on Tuesday. It was still cold but not as bad and my car started (I’d been concerned with my battery, which is the original one and my car’s a 2007.) I brought my lunch so I wouldn’t have to go out and the day was fine. Mid-afternoon I got an email that a pipe had burst in the ceiling of the library causing lots of damage including bringing down the ceiling. My beloved library would be closed for a long time. And it happened just as the cold was easing. By the end of the day it was much warmer. Damn weather!

There was no swimming this week so I went straight home every night, which felt decadent. I can’t say I got much done but then came Thursday. Andrea had emailed me with a unique dyeing idea that afternoon and I couldn’t wait to get home and try it. For those who care, the idea was to make I-cord and then dye it, which would result in longer color changes when the I-cord was pulled apart and knitted. I spend nearly 2 hours running sock yarn through my I-cord maker then got busy dyeing. I was still in the nuking phase after 9:00 so had to leave the yarn cooling in the water when I went to bed. This meant it wouldn’t be dry enough to cast on on Friday night. Crap.

Layton and I did Chinese food for lunch so I could pop into HyVee afterwards to pick up a few things, which meant I could go right home at 5:00. As I suspected, the yarn, which I’d hung over the sink to dry, wasn’t so I hung it over a heat vent so it’d be sure to dry completely overnight. I had my pattern picked out and couldn’t wait. I slept late Saturday (after 7:00!) but had cast on within minutes of finishing breakfast. I’d achieved the long color changes but the dye didn’t completely saturate so it was mottled. I’ll have to try this again but soak the yarn longer before dyeing it, which may or may not work. Anyway, I picked up the house in the morning and Andrea picked me up at 1:00 for an Omaha run.

The reason for a Saturday run was to hit Personal Threads for their 20% everything customer appreciation sale. While I didn’t need any yarn, I knew I’d leave with some. Some? Jeez. I spent $135 and came back with a ton of fun yarn. I had to deploy my justification mantra – I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs….. I buy yarn! It’s all good. Then we hit Goodwill (dropped off 2 bags), Penzey’s for a gift box for some of the freebie spices I’ve gotten for a Wine & Dine door prize, Trader Joe’s (that was unplanned) then our final stop at Aldi. I wanted to pop into Big Lots next door but was dismayed to see they’re closing that one. Bummer. Anyway, by the time I got home and put all the groceries away, it was after 7:00 so I was done for the day.

Did I mention that it was in the 50’s by the weekend? I started Sunday stripping my bed so I could hang out my sheets and while I was at it, I took the bed apart because the guys hadn’t put it together right after my floors last spring so I cleaned underneath it, reassembled it and spun the mattress. Between all that and fresh off the lines sheets, I was looking forward to going to bedtime. I should have been doing chores but spent most of the day knitting. Go figure. I did get all my laundry done and hung out on the line so that was something but my sink was still full of dirty pots and pans when I went to bed. Oh well. Since swimming will be starting up again, they’ll probably sit there awhile. Life goes on. At least it’ll be warmer this week (40’s for highs) and will really be back to normal. I’ll have to take some precautions with my hands. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Week 1 - Knitting New Year

I started the week frittering away another day. I did make some progress in the house Monday and went to knitting that night but not much else. It had to kick into high gear on Tuesday because I’d invited the knitters for afternoon tea on New Year’s Day. I cleared the bar of Christmas wrapping stuff and was doing dishes when it became clear that the leak under my kitchen sink had gotten exponentially worse. There was now a delay when I turned the water on and I could see it spraying out from underneath. Since I had no luck getting a plumber to come out on New Year’s Eve, it was time to call Ed. I ran to the farm store to buy a new faucet and Ed and Donna came over in the late afternoon. It ended up being just the sprayer that was bad so we rushed back to Bomgaar’s before they closed at 5:00 to get just the sprayer part and Ed had it fixed in no time. When I asked him what kind of pie he’d like (that’s my usual form of payment), he said “February pie.” I had to ask. He wanted me to wait until February because he was so overloaded on sweets from the holidays that he wasn’t interested. Perfect! With the sink fixed, I finished doing the dishes and went to bed early. No staying up until midnight for me.
After enjoying my morning coffee in the sun, I got busy with tea prep. I actually wasn’t cooking much because all the sweets were taken care of with store bought stuff – panettone, pizzelles and various cookies from Trader Joe’s. For savories I was making my hot crab dip (it’s been ages since I made that), honey goat cheese covered with fig jam and a cranberry Wensleydale, both with crackers. Easy but yummy. I had to wash all the china tea cups and dig up tea pots (most are still put away from the floors being refinished last May) and move furniture to the back room. I just had time to jump in the shower before people starting arriving at 2:00. We ate, drank tea, chatted and knitted in the sun. What a perfect way to start the new year! I sent everyone home with leftovers so accomplished my goal to get rid of the ridiculous amount of sweets in the house and then was an adult and cleaned everything up so my kitchen was pristine. It was back to work on Thursday. Another lightning fast break where I accomplished nothing major. Go figure. This happens every year so why would this break by any different?
Thursday was monthly reports so the day flew by. I’d packed PB&J for lunch so I wouldn’t have to leave but did take a knitting and Netflix break in the conference room over lunch. The day was over in the blink of an eye. Not bad for the first day back. I was exhausted though from stress dreams – the test taking kind – so just nuked leftovers and called it good.
I only had a few hours more on my monthly reports and had slept badly again so decided to take Friday afternoon off. I returned the faucet, stopped at the library to pick up the bank statement then hit The Warehouse and scored some lunch meat so had a hot ham and cheese for lunch then settled in for an afternoon of knitting. I probably should have been more productive but it was vacation time so I just enjoyed the afternoon and called it good. I did take the time to do the treasurer’s report for Friends, which included the year in review report. I was hoping that having nothing on my mind at bedtime would stop the stress dreams. It worked and I finally got a good night’s sleep. I had the Friends of the Library meeting at 10:00 then did the deposits before heading home. Unfortunately I had a non-productive afternoon. Seriously non-productive since I didn’t even knit. I went to bed early and called the day shot. Oh well.
Sunday was a Downton Abbey marathon at Lori’s, which I’d instigated by inviting myself over for some woodstove knitting. I then suggested we morph it into some binge watching of season 3 in preparation for the season 4 premier that night. I was in charge of sweets, figuring I had plenty left over from the tea but I really didn’t so I’d baked some sugar cookies and threw a loaf of bread in the machine to go with Lori’s soup. But since I’d be going there, I figured it was a good time to gather up chicken food so I went to work on the frig. I made tabbouleh, baked cauliflower cheese, prepped Brussels sprouts that I’d cook later, pureed the pumpkin I’d cooked earlier in the week and cleaned out the crisper again. When I left just after noon, I had 2 big bags of produce scraps for the girls, the loaf of bread hot from the machine and the sweets. I had redeemed myself for my Saturday and still had an afternoon of knitting ahead of me. It was bitter cold out so soup for lunch was the perfect start for our afternoon of knitting and watching Downton Abbey by the wood stove. Jan and I left just after 6:00, which gave me time to make dinner before sitting down for the premier.
All in all, it’d been a nice start to the new year. Lots of friends and knitting with enough productivity to take the edge off any self-imposed guilt. I know, ridiculous but so me. I hope everyone has a good 2014. I plan on it.

2014 - Just One Word


In mid December, my friend Dodie suggested cholesterol as a good word for 2013, which I poo poo'd despite having just gotten back my blood work that showed borderline high LDL. Then the next week, her husband had a heart attach. Yup, that was a reality check. I saw the wisdom of this word immediately and decided to focus on this very specific thing in 2014. Why not? I haven't been too successful with broader words in the past year so this one is spot on. Time to get my numbers down, which should help all around. Stay tuned and wish me luck.

Week 52 - A Merry Christmas

I’m way behind on my blogging, which is not a great start to 2014, but  here’s my catch up for the end of the year.
I finally felt up to snuff on the Monday before Christmas. I tried to meet up with Cornelia but a roof leak at her house killed that so it was a free day with nothing much on the schedule. I wanted to see Carolyn’s parent’s new house and we needed to hit the market so we headed out mid-morning. Between the house tour and the market, we stopped at The Crow’s Nest for fried belly clams. Delicious but probably not a great choice after eating so little for so many days. I felt like I’d eaten a side of beef and didn’t put another thing in my mouth until Tuesday morning.
I finally got some quality time with Cornelia, who came over for coffee and a chat Christmas Eve morning. We had to stay at Carolyn’s because the Christmas pudding was steaming and I had to keep an eye on the water level. That afternoon I finally was getting some time with Auntie Margaret after cancelling on Friday. I drove down to Hope Valley and had a pleasant chat with Auntie Margaret and Bette, sitting in the quiet house by the Christmas tree. Then I drove Auntie Margaret to David and Ronnie’s for Christmas Eve. I got to meet the baby, check out all the wedding pictures and catch up with everyone before I headed to Marianne and Brian’s for dinner with John. Marianne cooked a fish stew and we had our usual relaxing dinner. It’s always a pleasant interlude between all the other Christmas hubbub. I left just after 11:00 to head home to stuff stockings.
Christmas morning was fun. Stockings (my sisters both did great this year) then breakfast and the roasting of the meat, which is always an ordeal. Despite copious notes from last year, the fact that we forgot to take the meat out of the frig overnight meant it took hours longer to cook than we’d planned. Carolyn put out all the leftover savories from the open house to tide us over and I got some catch up time with Ed and Helene (her parents.) It was, of course, worth the wait and everything was delicious. It was hard to believe I was leaving in the morning.
The plan had been to hit Job Lot when they opened at 8:00 then I’d come home and pack. I’d bought a new suitcase and was flying Southwest so there was the option to pack both suitcases if I scored a ton at Job Lot. But when I woke up just after 5:00, I got busy and packed, all in the new suitcase. I only had room for a few things or I’d need to pack the 2nd suitcase. With the packing done, we had extra time so went to the good Job Lot on Elmwood Avenue. Other than gift bags, I didn’t find much so would not be taking the old suitcase home. I was at the airport at 10:00 for an 11:30 flight. I had woken up with a sore throat so bought some Zicam and sucked those all day during the normal holiday delayed flights. I should have been home by 7:00 even with a stop at the market but actually walked in just before 9:00. I was exhausted so only unpacked my carryon and went to bed happy to be home.
Friday was a gorgeous day so I unpacked, stripped my bed and hung the laundry outside to dry. Between unpacking and the many loads of laundry, the day was gone. But the sun was shining and I was home so it was all good. Just 5 more days at home before I had to go back to work. The weekend went by in a blur. I did some house work (must get a new cleaning lady!) in the morning then met Lori and Andrea for lunch at Chips on Saturday then went grocery shopping in Wahoo (a rarity) to stock up on produce. What little of the cold that was left after my Zicam binge on Thursday hit that afternoon so I took a Claritin D and laid low. There was some cooking and knitting and before I knew it, the weekend was over. With just 3 days of break left, I’d have to get productive.