Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 43 - The Little Things

It was a bear of a week at work but some spots of fun during the week and a restful, relaxing and just productive enough weekend made up for  it. And a few little things were the icing on the cake.

I started the week by mailing off six packages of yarn. It seems everyone is nesting now that cooler weather has arrived and winter knitting has begun. I sold 4 lots of yarn from my Ravelry Will Trade or Sell page, which is made up of thrift store yarn I’ve bought for next to nothing and so sell at a good price. Two of the lots were trades, which meant I’d be getting yarn packages in exchange. There’s nothing nicer than getting packages in the mail and yarn is the best.

On Tuesday, I did something I rarely have to do. I worked late, until 8:00, madly crunching data for the F&A proposal because the consultant was leaving Wednesday and I didn’t want to be the hold up for progress. I was down the rabbit hole and the time flew but did it ever take a toll. By the time I got home, it was almost 9:00 and I was pooped. I felt like I’d barely been in bed when the alarm went off.  Then I managed to pull a muscle in my neck while getting ready. I was a mess but I made it through the day. I skipped swimming in favor of going right home and making a nice dinner. I went to bed early and felt much better by Thursday morning.

There was more stress and frustration at work. This time it was grad allocations. After working for the better part of two days, I found an error (not mine) that required starting over so I gave up and left for the podiatrist at 3:00. My foot was so sore so I was looking forward to the slice and dice. I asked the doctor what exactly I had and it’s a porokeratosis. Damn painful and bound to keep growing back. But I left feeling much better. I was ready to start my free as a bird weekend.

It was a wonderful weekend all around. I started chipping away at my to do list but left plenty of time for relaxation and knitting. I even got out in the garden to do some long overdue perennial planting. I made a big pot of beef barley soup and caught up on TV shows and knitting. All that was left for Sunday was laundry and cooking. I wanted to make a pie to entice Ed over to reverse the turn direction on the hot side of my kitchen faucet. It had been backward since New Year’s Eve, when he fixed a leak for me. He had said it would take 5 minutes to fix but I’d never called, hoping that I’d get used to it. Well, ten months later, I was still turning it the wrong way EVERY TIME so it was time to fix it. Well, before I could call, Donna called me with a knitting problem she needed help with so I asked her to bring Ed. He fixed the faucet while I helped Donna. Yay! I celebrated with dyeing some yarn after they left. It was all good.

So it’s the little things that made this week. I can walk comfortably again and will be able to wear my new Birks this week. And while I’ll probably still turn the faucet wrong for awhile, there’s hope for getting it back to normal. And yarn – selling some, trading some and dyeing some. It’s all good. Where would we be without the little things?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 42 - Fun Fall Weekend

The work week was over in the blink of an eye. I was deep into the data for the F&A proposal by Wednesday. Hours would go by in what felt like minutes. That worked for me because I had a fun weekend planned.

Darla and I were finally getting our play day. She was at my house for breakfast at 7:30, which may seem early but since I’d been up for 3 hours at that point, I had farmer’s breakfast on the table when she arrived. I frequently wake up in the wee hours but despite going to bed later than usual, I couldn’t fall back asleep when I woke up at 3:45 so after laying in bed for awhile, I just got up. It’s amazing what you can get done before sunup. I not only cooked breakfast but knitted a baby bootie. Anyway… after a nice breakfast and catch up, we headed for Fremont.

I dropped a load of clothes at Goodwill and then found a few 99 cent items for Friends and a sweater to harvest yarn from. I had better luck at Buck’s (my favorite old fashioned shoe store.) I had an $18 credit in my purse, which I applied towards a new pair of Birkenstocks. They had a pair I’d tried to get at the Lincoln birk store but they’d been discontinued so no go. They had my size with a soft footbed and I’m excited to have a brown pair that’s as close as possible (just missing the Velcro) to my favorite black pair. We puttered a bit more on Main Street in Fremont, hit a quilt show where we had a lovely lunch with homemade pie and then headed back to Wahoo. We hit The Warehouse and were back at my house exactly on schedule. Darla had football plans later. I had to prep for event #2 – deck knitting with friends on Sunday at 1:30. I never really felt much fatigue after my early rising but did go to bed early.

Good thing because I was up again at 3:45. WTF! I knitted the other baby bootie and watched a bunch of TV. After an early lunch (breakfast was at 4:30 so I was starving by 11:00) I did start to fade and tried to lay down but I’m not a napper so failed to fall asleep. I put scones in the oven and set the kettle to boil. Lori and Michelle were due at 1:30 and the weather was perfect. We sat on the deck happily knitting and drinking pot after pot of tea all afternoon. We were even visited by an albino squirrel! I’d never seen one in person, never mind in my yard. Michelle snapped this pic with her phone. Andrea, who had a conflict but had dropped a lovely salmon mousse on her way out of town, did come towards evening. We sat outside until almost 7:00. Had the bugs and dark not forced us inside, we might have stayed out longer. It was truly lovely. I didn’t end up with time to cook like I’d planned but the rest of the mousse on crackers was enough for dinner. That worked though. The fun was worth it and it’s not like I’ll starve. : )

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Week 41 - WIPs and Candidates

Finally, a completely normal week. I’ve been yearning for that for months it seems but was always either getting over a trip or planning for the next one. Between the knowledge that I’ll be home for almost 3 months and the fall weather, it was a wonderful week. Dull but wonderful.

The highlight of the week was the finale of our WIP (work in progress for the non-knitters) contest at the library. I came up with the idea of this contest when the library flooded and we had to relocate Monday Night Knitting to the vets’ club. I thought it would only be a few months but it stretched to nine. Since we contributed a prize to the pot for each WIP we finished, there were tons of prizes. I had also made Downton Abbey project bags filled with yarn and other goodies for everyone who participated. Add the potluck we’d planned and it was going to be fun.

We had originally planned to only have 3 winners but Lori and Michelle and Andrea and I had separately discussed it and had come up with the same idea to have everyone win. Since there was a prize for every ticket, we decided to pull names and you got to choose a prize each time your name was drawn. My name was drawn first and I picked, of course, a beautiful skein of sock yarn. We kept picking and so got something for every WIP we finished. Everyone left happy. Yay!

The rest of the week was as normal as it gets. I got my haircut, swam twice, had healthy food for just about every meal and was just the right amount of busy at work. All good. Darla messed up on the date of our Omaha run so I ended up with a free weekend, which was just what I needed. I slept late on Saturday, which is a rarity and felt great, then ran errands in town, cooked a bunch and managed to get most of my chores done on top of swapping out all my summer clothes for winter. I even met the Democratic candidates for Senator and Governor (both very impressive) at the Saunders County Democrats’ dinner on Saturday night. And I got some knitting done between it all. Shocking, I know. Hopefully I’ll have a run of normal weeks like this. It’s exactly what I need.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 40 - Loving Being Home

Canada was a wonderful trip but boy, it felt great to be home. As usual, I was headed back to work on Tuesday so had no spare time for transitioning back but with only a few days left in my vacation bank, I couldn’t afford any extra time. It could be a trying week but I’d get through it. Only working four days would help.

I slept like crap and was still awake at 2:30 a.m. so Eileen’s early morning wake up on Monday was painful. I’d packed the night before so all I had to do was get dressed, grab some breakfast and get out the door. We were on the road at 7:30, with Sam driving and Eileen riding shot gun. Cindy’s flight was leaving two hours before mine so I’d have some knitting time at Buffalo airport. There are worse things than sitting and knitting, even if it’s at an airport.

Well, two hours was a drop in the bucket. There was still blow back from the fire at the Chicago air traffic control center and so flights were delayed all over the country. By the time my flight finally left, I had been rebooked onto a later flight to Omaha in case I couldn’t make my 20 minute connection. That flight was delayed too though so I had another wait in Chicago. I had hoped to go to knitting but I didn’t get home until 7:30 and I’d realized on my second flight that my amazon card was no longer in my back pocket. Damn!

I told myself it wasn’t too bad since I’d used it at both Target and Home Depot, both of which had been hacked. I felt the need to completely unpack just in case it was in my carry on (I’d used it to buy lunch in Buffalo) but didn’t find it so called to cancel it. Since I was unpacked, I started laundry. Andrea stopped by after knitting and brought me leftover pizza, which I ate standing up at 8:45 and called dinner. The cleaning lady was coming the next day so I wrote her a note and headed to bed. I thought I’d sleep like a rock but that didn’t happen so I was pretty tired Tuesday morning. Oh well, back to work.

The week flew by. I finally got a good night’s sleep Tuesday night so felt good Wednesday for monthly reports, which bled into Thursday. I got back into the pool Thursday night and ran some errands on the way home Friday. I was ready for two blissful days at home.

I had a big weekend to do list to really get back on track. It had been damp, cold and raining on and off all week so I was hoping for some sunshine. I had a good day on Saturday chipping away at my list and getting some knitting done between. I even made some real food for dinner – tuna casserole and rhubarb upside down cake. Part of my goal was to heat the house up a bit by using the oven because it was pretty chilly in the house. I was pleased with my progress and still had all day Sunday and I was nice and warm under the covers.

Unfortunately I didn’t make the Downton Abbey project bags I had to have done for Monday night and that woke me up at 3:45 Sunday. I gave up on falling back to sleep and got up at 4:30. I went through a single basket of craft stuff in my spare room and found everything I needed. Too bad I hadn’t done that before I went to bed. I had plans with Lorri to hit the roast beef dinner at Colon’s Catholic church for lunch and must have been outside hanging laundry when she called to say she’d been delayed at church so would be late. By the time we’d picked up our meals, I was ravenous. We ate at Lorri’s while catching up and I was home and sewing by 2:00. The bags came out cute and I had all six done except for the handwork by 6:00. I ate leftovers from lunch and sat down to watch TV and do that handwork. I still had a few things left on my to do list but I had finished the must do’s and had clean clothes and things to eat for the week.  So I guess I was back to “normal” because when do I ever get EVERYTHING done? Pretty much never. : )

Week 39 - Fun in Canada

I woke up Monday in Canada. Other than their milk being in plastic bags instead of jugs, so far I hadn’t found much difference between Canada and the states yet. And with Monday being a day at home, it didn’t look likely that I would that day. Gail drove in to spend the pre-conference time with us. She’d be staying nearby at her mom’s but would be spending the days with us. Since Cindy was teaching hand piecing to Eileen, Gail and I got busy dyeing. I’d brought some bare yarn and kool aid from home and we had fun playing with colors. With frequent stops for tea and butter tarts (a Canadian pastry that Gail had made), the day was over in a flash.

Tuesday was Toronto. After watching Rookie Blue every summer for a few years, I was excited to see the city. Our destination was Queen Street – their main shopping drag and location of Romni Wools, which I’d heard about on Ravelry. We poked into shops along the way but Romni’s was the first one we spent any time in. Go figure. They have a bargain basement that despite looking a mess, is actually quite well organized. I spent most of my time in the sock yarn section, finding lots of fun sport weight yarns and a few fingering weight. Shocking! I did throw a couple of non-sock yarns in for good measure downstairs and then went upstairs for a couple that weren’t on sale. This store was wonderful and we all left with tons of yarn.

The next big hit was the Japanese paper store, where I scored yet more stocking stuffers. We got burgers for lunch and I had my first ever poutine, which is French fries covered with cheese curds and brown gravy and is a favorite of Aaron, Carolyn’s son. Nothing wrong with poutine! Yum. After hitting the other yarn shop on Queen Street, we were winding down for the day when I dug in my tote to find my camera. What did I find but a skein of yarn that I’d apparently stolen! I was mortified and had to assume it fell into my bag while I was shopping at Romni. It was a lace weight, unlabeled skein, which I pointed out was nothing I’d have chosen had I actually stolen something. They kidded me mercilessly for being a thief for the rest of the trip. We went home to Eileen’s version of snack supper (I had explained that I frequently had cheese, crackers and Guinness after a long day of shopping), which looked like something from a magazine. After more Outlander, we all went to bed tired but happy after our fruitful yarn shopping.

Wednesday was another quilting day for Eileen and Cindy so Gail and I happily knitted all day. We were leaving on Thursday so did some repacking that night. Sam, Eileen’s husband, is a big Survivor fan so much to the chagrin of everyone but me, we watched the premiere instead of more Outlander.

There was no rush on Thursday because it was a 3 hour ride and we didn’t have to be there until dinner. Our first stop was another yarn shop where I restrained myself and only bought 2 skeins. Then we drove across Ontario, stopping for lunch in a small town only to be abandoned by our waitress so we left hungry after 20 minutes. We did grab a sausage roll in a bakery to tide us over and arrived at the B&B mid-afternoon. We checked in and were about to head out to dinner when Sue called and asked us to wait. After our happy reunion, she took us to a wonderful restaurant – Woodpecker in Port Elgin (one town west where she lives.) We had a fun cheese plate that was reminiscent of France then most of us had appetizers instead of main courses. Then it was back to the B&B to meet everyone else. It was clearly a good group, which is typical for knitters. The four of us had been assigned to the family suite, which meant Eileen and Gail were sharing a double bed and Cindy and I were in the twins outside their room. The sink was in our room and the teeny, tiny bathroom was off our room so it was a good thing we were all tired and could sleep through anything. When it comes down to it, as long as I’m comfy and the room is clean (it was), I’m fine. I don’t need a queen size bed and Jacuzzi. Really.

After a wonderful breakfast at the B&B, we all walked up the street to the arts center for our first class, which was dyeing with Jeffi of Shaniknits. We had fun taking turns playing with the dyes and I LOVE the skein I dyed. Just as we finished, lunch arrived. Then it was back to the B&B for our afternoon classes. No one but me had wanted to do the transform a sock class so Sue and I just sat at a table in the back garden and did them while chatting. What it involved was taking a long tube that had been knit on a sock machine, cutting it in half, adding a toe to one end, a cuff to the other and cutting a hole for an afterthought heel. Cool, right? I enjoyed it. Dinner was at a funky little restaurant called Saffron, that had a menu that covered tons of ethnic cuisines, from Thai to Caribbean. I had some wonderful Jamaican chicken croquettes. Yum. Then it was across the street for my first time in Sue’s shop – Docknits. She had knitting themed cupcakes and an entire yarn shop to plow through. She even let me slog through some bins in her back room when the yarn I’d asked about wasn’t out yet. I did some damage but left with a happy bag of yarn. I’ll call it supporting both my friend and the local economy. Yeah, that’s what it was. : )

Saturday was an all day class on color play. It involved some overly complicated “pick colors of yarn from your inspiration picture,” which of course I didn’t have. After another yummy lunch, we actually got to the knitting. I loved the concept, which I may use with some socks down the line, and got a little swatch done but the class could have been better. We had some free time that afternoon so checked out the local outlet (bought nothing) then walked on the beach a bit. I was surprised that there are no waves in the great lakes. I was assured there were some during storms but no tidal activity. Hmmm… Anyway, we had dinner back at the arts center then knitted in the common room at the B&B. The retreat was basically over, which was too fast.

We had a late breakfast on Sunday then headed to Sue’s store with most everyone from the retreat. I stayed there knitting while Gail, Eileen and Cindy shopped the main drag and we lingered until 1:00 so I could check in for my flight the next day. Then it was back on the road home to Eileen’s. We had more delicious soup (homemade tomato from her garden harvest) and grilled cheese for supper then watched more Outlander. Cindy and I packed before bed because we’d be leaving at the crack of dawn.

The week was over so fast but I had a wonderful time. I never did find much different, except for the milk in bags. Check it out! It's never fly in the US. Too messy on the shelf. Anyway, in discussing the retreat, we decided it was as much fun as our more expensive European trips because it’s really all about knitting with friends. And since this was way cheaper, it might have me reevaluating my future travel. Don’t hold me to that though because if Jean and Philip plan a Scotland trip, I’ll be there in a flash. 

Week 38 - Prepping for Canada

The week was all about getting ready for Canada. I was flying out on Sunday and had a big to do list.

I was slamming at work to get all of my F&A work done, determined that I would not be the hold up for other work being done while I was gone. I got my swap box mailed off early in the week, and then started in on my house list. Not only is it nicer to come back to a neat house but the cleaning lady would be coming the day after I flew back so I needed to be prepared for her. I plugged away at the list and was feeling good about things by the end of the week. I even had time for some fun after work, mostly because I had Saturday to pack and finish the final stuff.

I got an email from the local dyer that she had some new yarn dyed and I could choose a new skein to replace my problem one from earlier in the month. I stopped at her place after swimming one night and had a lovely time chatting and picking the new yarn. The next night Andrea and I were doing dinner and a movie. After swimming, I met her at YiaYia’s for pizza then it was on to The Ross for Calvary, the most depressing film ever. It was 10:00 by the time I got home and I was beat. The next day I felt like crap. It was day one of the 4th week of my cold and I was pretty sure at that point that it was something else. Duh! I left work early to see the doctor, who said I had a sinus infection. Now that’s the most over diagnosed thing on the planet (it’s a pet peeve of mine that everyone says they have a sinus infection the second their nose runs when 99% of the time it’s just a cold) but I had a fever (maybe those weren’t all hot flashes I’d been having) and the doc said I did in fact have one. I left with prescriptions for antibiotics and nose spray. He said I’d feel better in a couple of days, which worked for me cuz I’d be in Canada in 48 hours.

Saturday was a pleasant day of finishing the last to do’s and packing. I even had some time to relax in there, which was nice. One of the last things I did was to put ear mite medicine and flea stuff on all the cats. Despite having had both of these before, Pixel had a reaction and was drooling profusely. This didn’t start until bedtime on Saturday so all I could do was worry and keep an eye on her. I slept very little that night and she was fine when the alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. I was on the road to the airport by 4:30 and had a completely uneventful flight, which was refreshing. And what a welcome sight it was to have Eileen, Gail and Cindy beaming at me when I exited the gate area. This was going to be a fun trip.

After dropping Gail at her house, we drove to Eileen’s. I was searching for something that wasn’t just like the states but coming up dry. Eileen’s home was beautiful and she had even bought a bed and redone her sewing room so I wouldn’t have to sleep in the basement guest room. Over the top! We had homemade soup for dinner and then went to the most fabulous store – The Bulk Barn. Now Whole Foods and most grocery stores have bulk bins but this was an entire store with nothing but bins. I had a field day and found all kinds of fun stuff to take home, including some maple flakes (can’t get them in the states) to put on oatmeal. I even found (I think I squealed when I saw them) the ever elusive lemon baking chips. It was a fun store and we went home to watch the first episode of Outlander on Eileen’s enormous (biggest I’ve ever seen) TV. It was great to be there and it was going to be a fun week.