Thursday, December 31, 2015

Week 52 - A Merry Christmas

The two work days flew by with preparations for the Winter Workshop in full force. I was writing, editing and formatting handouts a mile a minute and that was a good thing. I brought all my presents to work on Tuesday and had everything else ready to go. I didn’t have to leave for the airport until 11:00 so had time Wednesday for final stuff, which felt like a luxury and made for way less stress than leaving after work to save a vacation day or a few dollars. I’m done with that!

I had a slight delay on my first flight, which cut into my layover but I still made it. As in I got off the first flight, checked the monitor for the gate, walked over and right into the line and was on the plane within 2 minutes of getting to the gate. That worked. It was a very uneventful arrival, which was a change, and I was shocked that my luggage made it too. No travel drama. Merry Christmas to me!

Wednesday morning was the steaming of the pudding. Carolyn had been baking/prepping for days so there wasn’t much else to do on that front. Cornelia came over with cookies to decorate so she and I frosted and adorned cookies while Carolyn puttered in the kitchen. It was fun and we got them all done, with some prettier than others but they’d taste the same and were destined for kids. All good. At 3:00, I jumped in the shower and headed to Shelley’s for the Pinney family Christmas. She and Brian bought a huge house in North Kingstown so it was great to get the tour and visit with family, especially Auntie Margaret, of course. After a whirlwind few hours and our traditional lasagna dinner, I headed to John’s parents’ house. They were still eating when I arrived so I had some salad and enjoyed the calm after the storm. We had a nice catch up and then I headed home to Carolyn’s to stuff stockings. It was a lovely Christmas Eve.

Ginny was supposed to have stopped by on Christmas Eve to exchange stockings with me but first delayed and then never showed. I had Carolyn’s wonderful stocking to open Christmas morning though and then we had a lovely breakfast of lemon blueberry bread pudding with sausage and bacon. Once the roast was in the oven, we had some down time. Ginny came by and we exchanged stockings, opening them in front of each other, which was new. Then Carolyn and I went for a walk in just t-shirts because we could. It was 75 degrees outside on Christmas! Very strange but nice too. Carolyn’s parents and Jen arrived mid-afternoon so we all had a yummy Christmas dinner of prime rib, mashed potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts with lemon tart for dessert. Deslish! In the post dinner lull, I finished my last pair of Christmas socks, which would be gifted to Sharyn the next day. Perfect.

Saturday was the Boxing Day Open House so we spent most of the day prepping for that – grocery shopping, bringing up chairs, pulling out serving pieces and doing the last cooking/food prep. You know, the regular stuff. We had quite a few more people than usual, which made it even more fun, and everyone had a good time. Even Ginny and Bob came! John had picked Sharyn up on his way back from Ikea so it was up to me to drive her home. By the time we got in the car, I had a sore throat. Not good. But it was good to visit with Sharyn on the way home and for a few minutes at her house. I was exhausted when I got home and started the Zicam immediately in hopes of nipping the cold in the bud.

Sunday was my last day so I had made plans for lunch with Auntie Margaret at The Crow’s Nest for belly clams. Unfortunately Bette was working so that meant I spent 3 hours in the car – 45 minutes down and back to pick her up and the same again to take her home. It was all worth it for the food and company. John joined us too because who can resist seafood in RI? I visited a bit when I dropped Auntie Margaret back home and then Carolyn and I hit Job Lot later that afternoon. I have to assume the Zicam did its job because all I had was a bit of congestion, which wasn’t keeping me down. I spent that evening packing because I was heading home on Monday.

So, it was a whirlwind Christmas but worth it. There’s no place like home at the holidays (sing it!) but I was looking forward almost as much to six days at home. Now I could only hope for uneventful flights back.

Week 51 - Rhode Island Ready

So I woke up Monday dragging and feeling poopy. If I didn’t feel too guilty to call in for mental health day, this would have been the day but instead I called in late and sat in the sun until I felt better. It did a world of good and I got to work just after 10:00 ready to face the week. Nora finally gave me her vision for what I should teach at the upcoming Winter Workshop so that was progress. It was late coming though but at least I got something. She called me in the next morning saying I seemed stressed. Well I wasn’t anymore. Knowing your boss’ expectations is always good.

Tuesday was our office Christmas party at Misty’s, where we do a white elephant swap (called a Yankee swap in RI) over yummy lunch. Then I went to the movie Brooklyn after work with water aerobics friends then out for a light dinner at Dempsey’s afterwards. Wednesday was UAAD’s Graze & Mingle so yet more food. Thursday was lunch with Dodie and Friday with Layton. Seeing a trend here? It’ll be a miracle if I don’t gain 10 pounds over the holidays.

I had a BAD afternoon on Friday. I was not treated as the professional I am and was not happy about that. That’s all I’ll say on the matter. I went home to alcohol (Guinness) and snacks for supper. While it was delicious, I was still bothered so was awake from 2:00-5:00 Saturday morning but was able to fall back asleep and so got a late start on Saturday. I was determined to put it behind me, chalking it up to stress on everyone’s part. Whose idea was it to schedule a huge, all day training right after break? Sheesh!

My friend Jeanie from spinning was in town Saturday so Andrea was having tea at her house. But Jeanie got a late start (she lives 2 hours north) and so it was more like supper time before we sat down to tea. It was a nice catch up though and I left Andrea’s with a big container of squash soup to get me through the weekend. Because Sunday was about slamming through chores and Christmas prep – wrapping, calendars and cooking. I powered through and felt good about my progress by the end of the day. Just 2 work days and I’d be headed to Rhode Island. I could only hope for quick, stress free days. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Week 50 - Going Much Better

I started the week on an up note, having successfully plowed through my to do list after losing time with the whole car in the ditch episode. Happy dance! I was heading into the home stretch on my pre-Christmas to do list and was feeling good about making progress on it. I had plenty to do but not as much as some people and I wasn’t feeling too stressed about it. All good. A couple of things made that even better.

First off, my cleaning lady called to postpone coming, which wasn’t a problem because Thanksgiving had thrown the schedule off so my house only had 8 days of dirt. When I pointed out that Christmas would throw us off again, she agreed to skip a week so wouldn’t be coming until the 15th, which meant I had another weekend of productivity before having to worry about picking up. Nice. 

Then I had an epiphany. I always like to ship my sister’s stocking by the Monday 2 weeks before Christmas. You know – the busiest shipping day of the year. I had made my to do list with that in mind, which meant wrapping was prioritized. Then I realized (slaps hand to forehead) that my sister would be in Rhode Island for Christmas so I didn’t need to ship it at all! After that revelation (duh!), the stress level dropped even lower. Yay!

With my list rearranged for the better, I got busy. I had scraped as much mud as I could off my car on Monday afternoon when it was in the 60’s outside (pleasant but worrisome – not normal!) so on Tuesday I was ready for the final demudding. Andrea had given me a coupon for a free carwash on the north side of Lincoln so after dropping my glass for recycling, I hit the carwash. I’d gotten a late start for lunch which meant there were no lines anywhere so I was able to hit Jiffy Lube for an oil change and scrape the last of the now wet mud off my mud flaps in the parking lot. All that in an hour. Nice. I took another lunch hour to stock up on scrapbooking supplies for my calendar pages, which had been bumped up once shipping was off the list. Add in some thrifting and food shopping on Friday and I was ready for the weekend.

It was a rainy one, which worked for me. I had all my usual chores plus the calendar pages (9 each of 4 months) and wanted to do some cooking too. I woke up at the ungodly hour of 4:00 on Saturday and after failing to fall back asleep, was up at 4:45 and had my 4th load of laundry going before the sun was even up. Talk about progress! I kept going on the chores, interspersed with knitting on some colorwork mittens that needed to be done before Christmas. I wasn’t enjoying the knitting because you have to pay attention to EVERY SINGLE STITCH. By the afternoon, I started on the calendar pages. I had ideas and materials for all 4 designs but it still took me until 10:30 that night to finish them. But finish I did, going to bed with all my scrapbooking supplies strewn across the bar area. I’d deal in the morning.

Sunday was another early morning (WTF!) but that meant I had all the scrapbooking put away, the entire house neatized and my chores done by noon. I had a lovely afternoon of knitting. I had gotten into the groove on the mittens so finished the first and started the 2nd. Late in the afternoon I started cooking. I made a batch of turkey tetrazzini to share with a friend who was coming home from the hospital with a newborn and prune bread for general eating/sharing. I cut up a pineapple and cleaned the fridge, adding more scraps to the chicken bag.

By the end of the weekend, I had met my major goals for the week and weekend. I was happy with my progress and I couldn’t ask for more at this time of year – productivity, no stress and enough relaxation to not start the next week lacking energy. All good. I hope your holiday prep is going as well as mine is. Ho ho ho!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Week 49 - Not the Plan!

This time of year, it’s all about lists. I have lists for everything – my usual chore lists but also everything Christmas, with deadlines based on shipping dates, flight times, etc. I made my big pre-Christmas list and was attempting to check something off every day and had big plans for the weekend. You know that didn’t go well.

The week itself was fine. Between it being the first week of the month and having November training postponed due to Thanksgiving, work was flat out and flew by. I had book club on Thursday night but had intentionally not read the book (see the post from 2 weeks ago) and I wasn’t alone. Of the 5 regulars, the only one who’d read the book couldn’t come and so it was looking like we’d cancel. But when I heard from a woman who was recently widowed and so hadn’t been coming that she was planning to come for the company, cancelling wasn’t an option. After a bit of doing, I changed the location for the 3 of us (no one had read it) to Chips so instead of discussing the book, we had a lovely chat over dinner. Salvaged that!

The next day was Friday and I had big plans for the weekend. I had bought a popcorn popper for Erica at the thrifts and decided to drop it at her house on the way home so that I wouldn’t have to get dressed Saturday morning when she’d offered to pick it up. I had a bunch of things to do Saturday but still planned to stay in my jammies until noon. So after stopping at the grocery store, I headed to Erica’s. She lives beside the lake just north of Wahoo but in the country and I’d never been there. But how hard could it be to find? Ha!

First off, there are 2 exits off the new bypass – 17th Street followed by County Road 17. I had only written down 17th on my directions so of course took the wrong one. It was pitch black with no moon and I ended up so turned around that I had no idea what direction I was headed in. After driving around on gravel roads for 15 minutes, I found County Road P so took that, knowing that I’d hit a paved road no matter which way I went, which I did eventually. After hitting a closed road and having to detour, I was getting pissed but I found her road so thought I was all set. Not so much.

Did I mention it was pitch black? Erica had warned me that it was hard to see her road and after going down every driveway along the road 3 times, I saw what I thought might be her road but realized it wasn’t when my car sunk into the mud. I was just a couple of feet off the paved road but my drive wheels were up to their rims in mud. After 20 minutes on the phone, AAA told me someone would be there within 2.5 hours! It was 8:30 by this time and I was cold, caked with mud and had ice cream melting in the car. I declined and started calling friends. I got Lorri, who sent her husband in her brand new car to pick me up. After going back and forth with groceries, my feet were caked with pounds of mud so I took my shoes off and held them in front of my face for the ride home. I walked into my house at 8:45, exhausted, hungry and cranky as all get out. Not only was my Friday night toast but I still had to deal with my car in the morning. Sheesh!

Erica emailed that her husband could get me out in the morning and that my car was within 100 feet of her house (not helpful to know!) She called Saturday morning and picked me up on her way from the market. It took 5 minutes to get my car out and I was home just after noon to try to slam through my list. All thought of any relaxation was gone. Bummer.

I did manage to slam through my to do list. It was just warm enough to be outside so I cut down all the perennials by the sidewalk and did some more yard pick up. I finished laundry (I’d started that first thing in the morning), did more chores then put up both of my trees – one on the deck and one inside. I finished at 9:00 p.m., at which point I sat down with a glass of Kahlua and egg nog to enjoy the end of It’s a Wonderful Life by the glow of my cute little tree. Nice.

I had a bit more to do on Sunday morning before picking Andrea up for an afternoon in Lincoln. I went through all my Christmas gifts and got those all organized (I was happy to see I didn’t need to do more shopping!) then cleaned the fridge so I could drop chicken scraps at Lori’s before getting Andrea. We had a lovely lunch at the new restaurant in Ceresco – That Place – then headed to UNL for a quilting lecture. It was interesting but the Q&A at the end went long and it was a small enough group that we couldn’t sneak out. That made us late to Aldi, where we stocked up on Christmas goodies along with regular food, so we didn’t leave in time to get Andrea back to Wahoo by 5:00. She was exhausted though so didn’t seem to mind. Of course I still had things to do when I got home. It was mostly cooking but I got such a late start that I still had soup cooking at 10:30 pm. It would be a short night since I was going to Power Pump again so would be up at 4:45 but I’d made it through my weekend to do list despite the mud. I can relax some other time. I’m not sure when that will be but I live in hope that it’ll be soon. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 48 - Attitude Adjustment Accomplished!

While I had hoped for a new attitude on Monday morning, it didn’t happen. Power pump was fine but didn’t improve my mood so I was a cranky mess when I got to the office. I immediately put in for an afternoon of vacation time, which would conveniently burn the half day in my bank. I don’t like uneven amounts there, btw. I also emailed my cleaning lady to offer a delay until after Thanksgiving if she was busy, which she promptly took me up on. That meant I didn’t have to worry about picking up my house when I got home. Yay!

After a lovely lunch of Irish food with Dodie, I headed home for my attitude adjustment afternoon. It was warm enough to outside in a t-shirt so I went onto the deck to sort the apples Nancy had dropped off last week. I had a bucket of green apples for Lori’s chickens (about half of the load) and started working the rest of the apples. I made Ozark pudding to take to knitting and put on a big pot of applesauce. After puttering for the rest of the afternoon and making comfort food (tuna casserole and broccoli) for supper, I headed to knitting a new woman. I had finished another WIP and had a lovely time with my friends. It’s amazing what an afternoon off in the sun will do.

The rest of the work week went quickly. On Wednesday, Layton and I did lunch at Red Fox, which we used to go to all the time but now seldom because it’s hard to find diet food there. Well, one of our regular waitresses made a point of coming over to tell me how good I looked, which felt great! We always get to leave early the day before Thanksgiving so I only had to work until 3:00 then headed to Menard’s to buy my Christmas trees and wreath. I had no intention of putting them up so early but the weather was turning so I figured I’d get them bought while it was still relatively warm. I was in and out in 10 minutes and headed home for four blissful days off.

The weather turned wintery and Thanksgiving Day was a mess of freezing rain with the whole world covered with a sheet of ice by the end of the day. I happily stayed inside and cooked a mini turkey dinner with stuff from the freezer – turkey thighs (brined) cooked over stuffing, a pumpkin pie and sweet potato casserole. It was pretty easy cooking and worth it to tide me over until our family Thanksgiving on Sunday.

On the knitting front I was working on yet another WIP and this was the WIP to end all WIPs. When Aaron, my friend’s son, was in utero 16 years ago, I started a little cardigan for him. Knowing it’d take awhile, I made a size 2T. Well, Aaron is now 15 and the sweater had been sitting in pieces since he was born, done except for sewing the pieces together and knitting the placket. After digging a bit in the basement, I found the extra yarn and spent a day sewing it together and knitting the button band from hell – 7 stitches but a yard long. I finished it Saturday night just in time to throw it in the wash because, you guessed it, it was Red Heart acrylic. It came out super cute and is washable to boot. I was so happy to finish it and hand it off to Carter on Sunday. Helen and Brenda got socks and the men were happy with pie. All good.

I puttered for days, knitting, neatizing, cooking, etc. and enjoyed every minute. In addition to getting 2 packages shipped to Canada on Saturday afternoon, I also got the pies made – apple, pumpkin and pecan. Having neglected to get pecans when I was at Menard’s on Wednesday (I had them in my hands but put them down to pick up when I got back to the registers with my trees, only to completely forget about them – sheesh!), I had to venture out to the market, breaking my vow to not leave the house until Sunday. I can count myself lucky that that was my only foray out in the weather and making the pies was a happy thing. Gotta love homemade pie – both the making and eating.

Sunday was the family Thanksgiving so I was on the road to Lincoln before 11:00. We had a lovely dinner at Brenda and Michael’s and while the sun wasn’t out, it wasn’t too cold so we had some fun playing in the yard with Carter, who is almost 2 and a fun kid. Just before I was leaving, Michael’s biological father showed up. Now Helen had mentioned that he’d contacted Michael after years and wanted to be part of his life but I wasn’t expecting to see him. I thought they’d called him Grandpa Zach (his name is Rick so I misheard) and having not seen him in more than 30 years, I didn’t recognize him. I was flabbergasted when Helen told me who he was as I was leaving. Rick moved to Lincoln from Texas and is actually in Michael’s life. Knock me over with a feather! Family drama at the holidays! Go figure.

The anticipated storm started late Sunday and I decided then and there not to try to go to Power Pump in the morning. It was lovely not to worry about getting prepped for that when I got home Sunday night. I already had to do the final pick up for the cleaning lady, which I finished at 7:00, just in time for a Guinness and snacks for dinner. It was a lovely way to finish a good week. I hope everyone had as nice a Thanksgiving as I did. Now on to Christmas!

Week 47 - Building Bad Attitude

The most memorable thing about this week was my bad attitude. It started with things just not going smoothly and built from there. It wasn’t pretty by the end of the week. Bummer.

I was running late to Power Pump on Monday morning and then Pixel didn’t come in, which left me with nagging, low level worry all day. Of course she was waiting at the door when I got home. That at least was good. Then Tuesday after work I met Nancy for a movie at The Ross – Labyrinth of Lies. Nothing like a movie about prosecuting Nazis to improve your mood. The premise was that the average German didn’t know what was going on in the camps. I didn’t buy it so did some googling later and found a book to check out of the library that debunked that theory. Reading more on this would not help my mood.

UAAD was the bright spot in the week. It was Ed Zimmer, a Lincoln historian, doing a presentation on Wyuka Cemetery. Thoroughly interesting but then I went back to work. I got a last minute invite to a meeting Thursday morning that I should have been invited to in the first place. Then my boss called in so I got why. She called me from home and grilled me on the meeting, clearly not happy with what had transpired. Then I ended up alone in the office that afternoon and the bad attitude escalated. By Friday I was a cranky mess.

Luckily, it was an uneventful weekend. I holed up and knitted inside, which did some to moderate my mood but not enough. I could only hope that the short week and four day break coming up would fix it all. I live in hope.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Weed 46 - Prepping for Winter

Well, my new workout routine of 6:00 a.m. Power Pump on Monday mornings has seriously impacted my blogging. I used to write my weekly posting first thing on Monday (when there’s no Daily Show to watch) but now I’m at the gym by the time I used to get up so it’s not happening. It’s clearly time to explore another option. Anyway….

It was an even busier than normal week. I know, I always say that but this week I had something every single night and some of it was stressful. The CRAC (Campus Rec Advisory Committee) was #1 on that list.

A bunch of us from water aerobics went to the meeting Tuesday at 4:30 to fight for not cutting our classes for next semester. We’d coordinated our efforts so 4 focused on different aspects of our argument. I covered the history of why our numbers dropped so had written out notes and practiced in my head all day long. We all said our piece and even got out in time to swim, albeit with a late start. We had thought our comments had been well received but Rene, who is on the committee, came over to the pool once the meeting was over and told us that Vicki told the committee that the decision to cut to 2 days/week had already been made (by her, of course) so wasn’t up for a vote – just the new fee structure. That deflated us until Rene said the director of the Rec Center told her it was not a done deal and he’d be looking into it. Hope!

I had a Husker Cats meeting on Wednesday after work, swam Thursday and then met Darla after work on Friday for a dreaded Wal Mart run. I avoid that place like the plague (it used to be a favorite but not anymore) but had a long list of things that I needed. Well, that was a bust! I wasn’t able to find even half of what was on my list so went home mostly empty handed. At least there’s Amazon. Gotta love free deliveries to your front door.

After such a jam packed week, I was looking forward to sitting on my butt as much as possible on the weekend and staying in my jammies until noon (at least) on Saturday. But Thursday night I got an email calling a Friends of the Library meeting for Saturday morning. As treasurer, I’d not only have to go but did through all the paper on my desk to find bank statements and do my treasurer’s report. Grrrrrrr…

Of course, it wasn’t all bad that I had to get up and go. After the meeting, Lorri and I did some shopping in Wahoo and even drove to Weston (a tiny town just west of Wahoo) where a restored general store with antiques for sale had opened up. Once I got home, it was time to get my last gardening done. I repotted all the plants I’d brought in Thursday night ahead of our first hard frost, brought in the plant stands and got them cleaned and set up. Then I mowed for the last time (it took forever for the leaves to fall and that’s what my last mowing waits for) and drained the hoses to store in the garage for the winter. By the time I added in all my chores, the weekend was done. And while I didn’t get much vegging in, at least I’d been productive and was feeling ready for winter. Bring it on!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Week 45 - Friends and Drama

The highlight of the week was getting to spend time with Cindy, my quilter/knitter friend from several of my Jean Moss trips. Cindy was going to be in Nebraska for a quilting retreat and was coming to Lincoln to see the International Quilt Study Center so I was meeting her for dinner on Wednesday. I ducked out of work early when she called at 4:00 and Anne, who has been on the receiving end of Cindy’s yarn boxes and so wanted to meet her, and I met Cindy for a lovely dinner at the original location of Misty’s

Misty’s is an old Lincoln staple – the kind of restaurant that’s like stepping back in time 50 years, complete with round leather booths and 50’s décor. I’d only ever eaten sandwiches at lunch at the downtown location and it was a 900 calorie day so I was going for the filet mignon. OMG! It tasted absolutely amazing, as did the green beans I got in an attempt to eat healthier than a potato. The liberal amount of bacon the beans were cooked with may have killed that but at least I was trying. I could have been eating saltines and would have enjoyed it just because I was with Cindy. It was all too short a visit as she had an hour’s drive to get to her conference so wanted to get on the road.

I was happy to get an email later in the week that Cindy had decided to get a hotel room near the airport on Saturday night because she had a very early flight on Sunday. I gladly offered to pick her up and play. We went to Penzey’s and World Market (my first time since they reopened in Omaha after being gone for a few years) then lingered over dinner at Noodles. The game was on so we had the place to ourselves and chatted for a long time. It was lovely.

On a not so lovely note, we had some drama brewing over water aerobics. I’ve been going religiously for almost ten years and cannot imagine life without swimming with my friends in the pool. But a new Aquatics person had been hired at campus rec and it had been clear for awhile that the focus was shifting from us to the kids who were paying $60 each for four weeks of swimming lessons. We’d had them in the pool since it reopened but we were usually in the deep end while they were being taught in the shallow but this year we were all crammed in, fighting for real estate in the shallow end and competing for showers in the locker room. Rather than do a better job of scheduling, the powers that be decided they should just cut the number of classes to 2 per week down from 4. And one of the nights they picked was Monday, when I have a conflict. Unacceptable!

After the announcement via email and our responses being ignored for more than a week, we requested a meeting to discuss it. The brand new aquatics person and her boss (the instigator of all this) met us before class on Thursday in the locker room. It did not go well. The boss was downright rude and snippy plus told us the water aerobics instructors were under qualified RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR FAVORITE INSTRUCTOR! I was shocked at the lack of professionalism and the politician like double speak. We also got zero consideration. It was clear she’d already made up her mind to cut the classes. We were all frustrated and vowed to attend the Campus Rec Advisory Committee meeting the next week to plead our case but there seemed to be little hope.

Otherwise the week was uneventful. I started Monday with Power Pump again, helped by the time change so getting up at 4:45 wasn’t so brutal. I finished the offboarding training with my twelfth session on Tuesday morning, did my monthly reports and got a flu shot. I didn’t sleep through until my alarm went off until Friday so was more tired with each passing day. A relaxing weekend helped me regain my energy.

The best part of the weekend was doing some leg work to plan my next knitting trip, which included calling Paul and Joanne in New Mexico (friends from our Jean Moss trips) to pick their brains on their recent trip to the Shetland Islands for Wool week. Emailing were flying all day Sunday and by the end of the day, I’d committed to this trip along with Gail and Eileen (2 of my Canadian knitter friends), Cindy and her friend Erica, who was a total hoot on the France trip, and Lori from the Wahoo knitters, who will be my roomie. Unfortunately Sue can’t go but it’s hard to feel sorry for her when it’s because she’ll be just coming back from a trip to Switzerland with her husband. But alas, we do feel bad and will miss her a ton. But nonetheless I’m very excited to go. Now to make it to June without my head bursting from excitement. : )

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 44 - Last Supper Mentality

Let me start with a Pie update – she’s fine – but here are the details. When I got up, her mouth was still wide open and she wouldn’t let me anywhere near her so I headed out at 5:15 for Power Pump followed by breakfast out with Anne and Rene. I called the vet as soon as I got to my office, making an appointment for the afternoon. It was not a good day to take the afternoon off but what choice did I have? I left at noon and went home, dreading trying to capture her. But when I called her, I could hear her perfectly normal meow coming from the basement. Sometime over the morning, her jaw had shut on its own. Yay! I cancelled the vet and checked email before deciding what to do with my free afternoon. Well, there was an email from Student Accounts and I would have to start allocation from scratch. When I read that, I headed back to campus. Total time gone? 2 hours. I cancelled my vacation leave and worked late, heading straight to knitting, pumpkin cake in hand. What a long day but at least Pie was fine.

I was still in the throes of offboarding meetings plus was working allocations between them and had another half day of training too. Needless to say the week flew by. And lest I have a minute to breathe, I also fit a dentist appointment and haircut before and after work plus swam twice. Wednesday was a food day, purposely scheduled on a non-rotating week, and I ate way too much junk and felt like crap. That was my week. I was SO ready for a weekend at home.

With Saturday being Halloween, I did my annual trimming of the crabapple so the trick or treaters could get to the front door. I carved a jack-o-lantern, filled up the candy bowl and was ready to go. But where were the kids? I had gone to a party last year so hadn’t given out candy but compared to 2 years ago, there were very few. Was it because it was a Saturday? No clue but I was giving out handfuls of candy by the end. I spent the evening knitting and streaming on my Kindle between answering the door, ending with 3 little candy bars (being in last supper mentality, I’d eaten a few mind you) when I turned the light off just before 9:00.

The last supper mentality was because I was starting a new rotation on Sunday, which meant I’d only had 6 days off and had me eating everything in sight on Saturday in an attempt to have something non-diet. Of course I had very little yummy in the house so nothing satisfied me and I felt crappy both physically and mentally. The reason for the short break was that I wanted to be on a 1200 calorie day for the Project Close Up turkey dinner on the 8th so was starting early. I had had such a busy week that I didn’t make the tuna casserole I’d been craving so was starting feeling deprived day 1. That might not bode well but I was gonna try. I’ll let you know how that went in next week’s post. : )

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Week 43 - Offboarding and Cats

To say the week was nuts is an understatement. I haven’t had a work week so busy in decades. Literally. It reminded me of my days at Brown, when I was much younger and had more energy. At least it went by quickly.

It was all the offboarding meetings that kept me hopping, with training classes added in for extra measure. I had at least one offboarding session every day except Thursday and two some days. Several were on East Campus which added a drive to the already 2 hour commitment when you figured set up time and staying late for questions. Then there was all the email follow up. I was looking forward to Thursday with no meetings or trainings but by the time I got done with offboarding follow up, it was 3:30. So much for my free day.

To add to all the offboarding fun, someone reported that there was a friendly cat in the parking garage. Since one of Husker Cats’ rules is that we’ll remove friendly cats who end up (dumped most likely) on campus, I emailed the garage feeder and the TNR (trap/neuter/release) coordinator to have them keep an eye out. The person who reported it had also checked for it again with no luck. I had gone to a movie Tuesday night after work and decided to see if I could find the cat after working hours when the garage would be quieter. I didn’t think I would so only brought a little baggie of food. Of course I stepped off the elevator and there he was. I walked toward him, calling him and he responded by meowing so this wasn’t a feral cat. I put some food down and he came right over and let me pet him. But did I have a carrier with me? Nope.

I started making calls and finally got Belinda, who said she’d get dressed and bring me a carrier. I picked him up and put him in it no problem but Belinda looked at me and said, “I’m not taking him!” so now I had to take him home. He was a dream in the car and I quickly set up a litter box, food and water in my bathroom. It was almost 9:00 before I got him settled. He was a dirty mess (he might have hitched a ride under the hood of someone’s car) but sweet as all get out and didn’t make a peep all night, probably because he was in a food coma after all he ate. I had made arrangements to drop him at the vet’s back in Lincoln Wednesday morning before work. At least he’d be out of my house and I was hoping someone would offer to foster him so he wouldn’t be my problem.

So here’s how Wednesday went… I dropped the cat at the vet on the south side of Lincoln before 8:00 and got to East Campus for an offboarding session at 8:15, thinking I’d have time to check email but we had technical difficulties so only got up and running minutes before the session started. There were 40-50 people in the room plus the outstations were participating via Adobe Connect so there were lots of questions. I was back at my desk for about 20 minutes before I had to leave for a lunch meeting for UAAD (the professional organization on campus that I used to be president of) because I’d asked the new accountant to go so couldn’t bail. I left that early (it was a fun demo of drones by a computer science grad student) and had a training session with Nora across campus, which went until 3:30. By the time I got back to my desk, I was exhausted. Monday and Tuesday were fall break so we didn’t have swimming and I had intended to swim Wednesday but couldn’t muster the energy. Just two more work days to go.

UNL’s student knitting group was having a yarn swap on Friday after work so I had gone through all my basement yarn and had 2 big bags to drop off (I didn’t want any yarn in return) plus 2 bags from Donna, who had gone through her yarn while moving. More output from my house, so all good and a nice way to start the weekend.

I usually talk to Carolyn first thing on Saturday but she emailed that she’d be calling later so I got up and got busy with chores. By the time she called, I had finished everything except the laundry, which I planned to do on Sunday. That left me thinking I could do something fun Saturday so I called Andrea, who had emailed info earlier in the week about a sale in Seward. She was in so I picked her up at 1:00 when her shop closed and off we went. We stopped at the sale in Seward then hit the Mennonite thrift shop, which is always fun and didn’t disappoint. I bought all kinds of fun things including a funky 70’s quilt top, 2 vintage aprons, a fun jacket and a few other things. Then we headed to Spindle, Shuttle and Needle (a yarn shop) in Stromsburg. I bought yarn (did you ever doubt it?) and then we hit the local grocery store, which the yarn shop owner had said was fun and it was. They had a butcher counter with all kinds of fun specialty meats, nice produce and a Swedish section. I bought the lemon I went in for and a bag of all kinds of other things. What a nice and unplanned afternoon! It was perfect fall weather so great for a country drive.

All that fun and I still had Sunday for laundry, knitting and cooking. I needed that after the week I’d had. It was my last day of the rotation so I made a pumpkin cake to take to knitting. The one downer of the day was finding Pie with her her jaw stuck open again around dinner time. She wouldn’t let me near her to try to wrangle it shut, which I’d successfully done last time it happened. I was up late trying to get her in and would have to deal with it in the morning. Oh well. It figures I’d have a cat with TMJ! More on that in next week’s post.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Week 42 - Magic Minus 64

One of the things on my After Canada list was to think about lifting weights. Now Anne had been bugging me to go to the Power Pump class at Campus Rec on Monday mornings but it’s at 6:00 a.m., which would mean I’d have to leave the house by 5:15. Well, I woke up at 4:30 on Monday morning and could hear Anne’s voice in my head, which kept me from falling back asleep so I got up and got ready. I had to pack both breakfast and lunch, dig up work out clothes and pack clothes for work, which all took time. I left just before 5:30 so knew I would be running in last minute. I called Anne from the car and asked her to get me set up for class. When I went in, I knew 5 of the 6 people in the class and they all cheered me on for showing up. The class wasn’t too bad and I was at my desk at 7:30. Shocking!

I was so busy on Monday morning that I forgot to weigh myself before heading out. When I weighed myself Tuesday, I was thrilled to see I'd lost enough weight to hit -64 pounds. Now anyone who knows me knows that I like things in multiples of 4, with 16 being my favorite number (4 squared) with 64 a close second (4 cubed.) 64 is also the number of stitches in a standard sock. So I was tickled to be down 64 pounds. I'm hoping to be down 90 by Christmas. Wish me luck.

The week flew by. I was filling in for Nora at offboarding sessions so had meetings every day to demo my database. I did a lot of grocery shopping after work to restock the fridge, swam twice and Darla picked up yet another bag of clothes first thing Thursday morning, catching me still in my nightie. Progress. Everything that leaves my house is progress.

I went through the consignment bags on Saturday morning, hanging the 30 best items on hangers, a requirement for the consignment shop, and bagged up the rest to drop at Goodwill in Fremont after spinning. I hadn’t been to spinning since May so it was good to see everyone and then Andrea and I had fun thrifting. I went home to Saturday snack supper and an early night. I was struggling to keep my eyes open for the 2nd night in a row.

I woke up at 4:30 on Sunday so got up at 5:00 and had done plenty of chores before noon. I also managed to finish 2 pairs of socks, which always feels good. I spent the afternoon cooking and prepping food for the week. It had warmed up so I opened the windows to get some warmth into the house. There’s more freakishly warm weather on the way – 80’s early in the week. Oh well. At least I haven’t had to put the heat on yet. The leaves have only just begun to change and none have dropped. It’s a very weird fall.

Week 41 – Life After Canada

So with the mouse saga done (never found it but I’m just over it!) and all the spare room detritus slogged through, I was ready to move on to “After Canada.” I had made a list on my iPad on the way home and had big plans to be uber productive, healthy and happy so it was time to get going.The week cooperated with lots of normal. Knitting, swimming and rotating, which felt great after eating too much crap in September.

I’m happy to say that I only gained 4 pounds during my month off from rotating and most of that was retained water from eating sodium again because it was gone in 2 days so could not have been true weight gain. It felt good to be rotating again – step 1 towards getting back to normal.

It was a pretty uneventful week. I had an eye doctor appointment on Tuesday after work and was able to convince the doctor not to dilate me so I was able to be productive when I got home. I brought home 6 pairs of glasses and chose a purple pair after asking friends for their opinions, which ended up with a split vote so I picked the ones I liked better.

By the end of the week, I had dropped a carload of clothes at Goodwill and Darla had picked up another bag. I still had some to consign and had checked out a store that might work. The work week flew by and I was ready for a weekend without a mouse hunt to get truly caught up with everything. I had a nice weekend at home, doing chores and getting the house picked up. Perfectly normal weekend and by the end of it, I felt back on track. So far so good on After Canada. : )

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 40 - A Mouse Hunt

I woke up early Monday and had time to hang with Dottie before waking up Andrea. We had a quick breakfast, said our goodbyes and were back on the road, a bit later than we’d planned but at least Chicago rush hour wouldn’t be an issue.

I had asked my Ravelry friends where the best thrift shop was off I-80 so we had plans to stop in Davenport, Iowa, which was a bit more the a third of the way home. But then we saw a billboard for an easy on/off Goodwill in Illinois so had to stop. It was a brand new store and a pleasant shopping experience. I scored some fall clothes in my new, smaller size and we asked about other Goodwills right off the highway. She told us of 2 more so off we went. The 2nd was a bust but we had fun at the third. All these stops were adding time so it was 2:30 by the time we got to Davenport but we decided to stop at the recommended Salvation Army anyway. I was glad we did. I found 2 solid oak wooden cubes that were the perfect solution to hold a shelf I have in the basement, the supports of which disintegrated when they got wet in my basement flood. I also found a perfect winter nightie and yet more canning jars, which I’d been buying everywhere since The Sal’s in Port Elgin. But this had to be our last stop or we wouldn’t be home until midnight. OK, we’d have to eat eventually but nothing else.

We were listening to Sherlock Holmes short story DVD’s so decided we’d stop when the next story was over. We were near Grinnell, Iowa and I knew there was a college there so we got off the highway. We saw another Goodwill so stopped there to ask where to eat (tee hee) and after buying a few things, we headed to Grinnell’s cute downtown to a pub the clerk had recommended. We ate yummy sandwiches as darkness fell. We really did need to not stop again, which we didn’t. We drove into my driveway at 11:00 p.m. It had been a long day but fun. We unloaded my stuff into the kitchen and I intended to leave it there and get right to bed. Then I remembered that the cleaning lady was coming the next day so I moved it all into the spare bedroom before showering and going to bed. I knew I’d be tired on Tuesday. Oh well. All worth it.

So I was eating breakfast and happily watching The Daily Show again (Trevor Noah is no John Stewart but I’m still happy it’s back) when Tot came running into the house with a mouse in her mouth. I chased her to the front room where she dropped the mouse and I was appalled to see it was alive. It ran under the love seat and I tried to catch it but it then scampered into the crammed full spare room. OMG! There was no catching it before work so all I could do was pull the food bags out of the room and close the door, stuffing a towel underneath so it couldn’t get out. I left a whiny note for the cleaning lady and limped, exhausted, to work. I somehow made it through the day and left right at 5:00 to use my last ounce of energy to deal with the mouse, not sure what I’d do but something.

When I opened the door, there was a gift bag on the counter and a note from my cleaning lady. Not only had she bought me a gift to cheer me up but had installed 3 mouse traps in the spare room. They were sticky traps, which are cruel and would not have been my choice but at least I didn’t have to deal with it. I found something in my empty fridge for supper and sat like a zombie until it was late enough to go to bed. I was hopeful I’d find the mouse the next morning.
Well, by morning one of the traps was gone but in the quick perusal I did, I didn’t see it so I kept the door shut and headed to work. I was feeling much better after a good night’s sleep and it was the all U picnic at work. It was Harvey’s (our chancellor) last State of the University speech too. I listened to some of it before Cheryl came and got me to head to the picnic, where I ate with Anne. It was a gorgeous fall day and so was a pleasant lunch. I swam after work and went home for only a slightly more thorough search for the mouse, which didn’t find it. I was completely conflicted about the poor mouse, knowing the sticky trap meant it would be stuck and dying a slow death but I couldn’t face doing anything and it was already dark so I just ignored the room. This would continue until the weekend.

After an uneventful rest of the week, I woke up on Saturday with my only goal being to clear the room and find the mouse. I was in there first thing (OK, it was 10:00 when I started but I’d just finished my coffee) and started by pulling things out of the room – the stuff from Canada, all of my yarn and baskets of clothes destined for Goodwill. When I pulled the yarn boxes out from under the bed, I found a wet spot that I figured was mouse juice so I then tore apart the bed, thinking I’d find a dead mouse in the box spring. Well, after pulling all the netting off the bottom and the loose fiberfill off the sides, still no mouse. Then I started on the closet. That’s where I found the sticky trap, which was covered with fur and showed signs of nibbling but no mouse. I cleared every single thing out of the closet until it was completely empty but found nothing. So I went through both of the closet yarn containers, felt every hanging piece of clothing and went through everything that was on the top shelf. STILL NO MOUSE! Where did it go? It was now 4:00 and I’d been at this all day so I just gave up. The only thing left in the room was the 2 dressers and I hadn’t gone through those drawers but I was done. I didn’t smell dead mousie so either it was alive and well in one of the drawers or had somehow escaped. Carolyn said they can squeeze through ½” openings so maybe it went down the heat vent? I’m doubtful since it was a fat mouse from what I could see but like I said, DONE. If it’s alive in the house, I can only hope one of my four cats will take care of it.

 After eating some dinner and knitting a bit, I went back to the front room and organized all of my sock yarn. I went to my computer to stash my new yarn from the retreat so I could add it all before putting the yarn boxes back under the bed and this is what I found. Rotten cat! But not the one who caused the mouse problem. It was 10:30 before I went to bed and I had so little down time that I read until well after midnight. My house was a wreck so I’d have a full day on Sunday to get it back in shape.

I slept late on Sunday, thankfully, and there was a football game on instead of CBS Sunday Morning so I started in right away. I had done a load of laundry Saturday night but had many more to go. All of Carolyn’s clothes I’d brought back from Rhode Island had been on the bed since July so needed to be washed and hung plus I had all the clothes I’d thrown in the spare room as they got too big to deal with. I did load after load of laundry and slogged through enormous piles of clothes for most of the day, trying everything on until my shoulders ached. Here are the stacks and stacks of clothes that are leaving the house. I pulled a few for Darla, a few more for Helen and sorted the rest into piles for the plus sized consignment store in Lincoln and the rest for Goodwill. Anything the consignment store won’t take is going right to Goodwill. I loaded the consignment clothes into the car and bagged up the Goodwill and moved them to the front room for later this coming week. My closet was also bursting with plenty of clothes to wear for this season.

So having to go on the mouse hunt did have an upside. Those clothes probably would have sat in the spare room for a long time before I got up the energy to get rid of them. The spare room is now also guest ready and I intend to keep it that way rather than the dumping ground it usually is. That done, it’s time to get out the After Canada list I typed up on my iPad in the car on the way back. There’s plenty more to do now that my 3 months at home are here. Wish me luck.

Week 39 - Worth Every Mile

With the Canada trip pending, the first two days of the week flew by. Monday was relatively normal but Tuesday was a train wreck. Most of the cubies in my office were being reconfigured (not mine) so there were workers dismantling the office all around me, which was noisy and disruptive. Add that the designer had completely screwed up the order so there were missing parts – like a wall so not a minor thing – plus everything she did order was the wrong color. The day was a nightmare with trying to make the parts we had work. Adding to the mayhem was the fact that our carpets were being shampooed that night so we had to have everything up off the floor before we left. Needless to say, I didn’t get much done on my last day. I was happy to leave at 5:00 and head home to repack. The weather forecast had changed so I’d be adding short sleeved options to my suitcase. What a day!

Andrea picked me up at 8:00 on Tuesday and we were off. It was pouring rain and we drove for 3 hours before it let up. We had a list of every yarn shop between Des Moines and the Canadian border but hadn’t stopped at any until mid-afternoon, when we saw a billboard for a quilt/yarn shop that was on the list so we got off in Princeton, Illinois. After driving 5 miles south of I-80, we found the shop but they didn’t sell yarn anymore. When we asked why they had a billboard advertising yarn, they said they hadn’t paid for that in months but it hadn’t been papered over. I told them they should remove their listing as a yarn shop on Ravelry and they were clueless on that front too. Sheesh! We did find a cute craft gallery across the street to redeem our stop but we’d wasted a lot of time.

Then we hit traffic near Chicago despite not getting there until 6:00. Between construction and rush hour, it was a mess and we missed an exit so had to take a different route to my sister’s. I had forgotten that it was Yom Kippur and they were waiting for us to get there to eat so I felt pretty crappy about the delay. It was good to be there and see their new house, which is gorgeous. I slept great and we got to hang with Dottie a bit in the morning before leaving. We had another long day of driving ahead of us.

I should mention that despite my offer to share the driving, Andrea drove the whole way both days so I got to knit in the passenger seat. Nice. We made great time getting across Michigan but once we crossed the border, we were on a two lane shore road and had hundreds of miles to go. We had thought we’d arrive at 5:00 but when we were hours away and it was only 3:45, we stopped at a Tim Horton’s for a snack since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast except for some car nibbles. I needed to call to say we wouldn’t be there for dinner but our phones wouldn’t work so I approached total strangers begging for a phone to make the call. The first 2 people didn’t have phones but the 3rd did ad let me call. Once they knew not to wait, the heat was off. We kept going but stopped at a Goodwill when we needed a break. We grabbed some dinner to go in Port Elgin and ate in the car on the way to the B&B. We arrived at 6:58 and the meet and greet was at 7:00. It was great to see Sue, Eileen and Gail and fun to meet everyone but the shower was calling my name so I ducked upstairs for a shower then went back downstairs. Gail and I were the last 2 up, chatting and knitting until almost midnight. Once I went to bed, I slept like a rock. It was great to be there.

After a delicious breakfast at the B&B, it was time for an all day class on designing a cable pillow. I chose gorgeous yarn and a beautiful pattern and happily knitted away the morning. We walked up to the art school for lunch then back to the B&B for more cabling. When Andrea came down at the end of her class, we decided to head to Port Elgin for some shopping. First stop was Canadian Tire, which is way more than a tire store. I’d seen reference to it many times on Ravelry so had to see it for myself. It should not have surprised me that the very first aisle was all hockey sticks. No one had a camera but I found this image on the web. Gotta love Canadians!

We did the aisles and I found all kinds of practical treasures, including 3 different LemiShine products, which were dirt cheap even without the great exchange rate (75 cents Canadian to $1 American.) Then we hit the Salvation Army, where we arrived 10 minutes before closing so just had time to run in and grab some canning jars. We all laughed at the harsh recording with dire warnings if we didn’t get to the register immediately follow by a “God bless you.” Then it was time to drive back to Southampton for dinner at a restaurant with the group after which we all drove back to Port Elgin (these towns are about 5 miles apart) for dessert and shopping at Sue’s shop. Needless to say, I bought yarn. Lots and lots of yarn, including more of the 80/20 Shelridge that Sue had held for me/ Like last year, I was rummaging through totes but this time in the basement instead of the back room. All good.

Saturday was another full day of classes – entralac knitting in the morning and mosaic knitting in the afternoon. Both of these were new to me and on my list of things to learn. We had lunch at the art school, which featured my fave butter tarts, which had been curiously missing on Friday. Both classes were fun and I got some shopping in at the local art gallery to add to my overflowing stocking stuffer drawer. (I have enough to fill 2 or 3 years of stockings. Really.) After a catered dinner at the art school, we all went down to the shore to watch the sunset. Someone had said Southampton had one of the 5 best sunsets on the planet so we had to see. There were no clouds so it was not spectacular but it was wonderful to see nonetheless, surrounded by friends and the beauty of nature. Sappy but true. I even went wading in Lake Huron! Then we ended the night with knit and natter in the common room at the B and B. Have I mentioned how much I love these people? Janice and Shelley had come just for Saturday so just added to my fun Canadian friends and Andrea was thrilled to see them again having not seen them in years. It was another wonderful day.

Sunday was our last day. We all slept in a bit and had a wonderful brunch at the B&B. From there we all headed to Sue’s store but Andrea and I stopped on the way at the market, where they were holding a tray of butter tarts I’d ordered for my sister, and then Bulk Barn. I stocked up on all kinds of goodies, including treats for the way home in the car to add to the leftover butter tarts Sue had wrapped up for me. Eileen had already brought me lemon chips since they hadn’t had them in Montreal’s Bulk Barn when I was there this summer so I’d been concerned Port Elgin’s store wouldn’t have them either. They did. Everyone was at the store paying up their tabs and yes, buying more yarn. We left Port Elgin just after noon for the ride to Dottie’s. At least this time we’d be doing the long shore road bit at the start of the drive.

Since Dottie knew we wouldn’t be there for dinner, we took our time, stopping quite a few times along the shore road. We went to a market for President’s Choice white cheddar mac & cheese (so much better then Kraft) and maple syrup for gifts then hit the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) for beer for Andrea. We hit the Goodwill we’d stopped at on the way there but the trifle bowls Andrea wanted were gone. We made a final stop at a store Shelley recommended for muffins, where I spent the last of my Canadian cash. I had exactly $3.50, which would have paid the toll on the final bridge into the states but alas, I’d spent it on muffins so paid in American, which cost more. Had I only known. The border crossing was uneventful and we were back on home turf. Since we’d done so much stopping in Canada, we made a beeline across Michigan and got to Dottie’s ~8:00. We were both tired so didn’t stay up too long. We had another long day of driving to look forward to so opted for an early night. Just one more day and it would be back to reality.

Like last year, the retreat was everything I love – friends, knitting, yarn, good food, gorgeous location. I don’t’ think there’s anything that makes me happier than knitting travel with friends. We are going to make plans for a Scotland trip in fall of 2016 but I’m hoping we get together before then. Somewhere. Somehow. Until then I’ll count myself lucky that I have such a great local knitting group. We wouldn’t be getting home in time to join them at the library Monday night but I know they’ll be there next week. Gotta love my knitting friends, both near and far. Love you all!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 38 - Preparing for Canada

Monday started out with a half day of work so I could head home to meet the appliance guy. The freezer was cold again after his late Sunday door adjustment but there was plenty more for him to work on. I just had time to eat a quick lunch before he arrived at 1:00. We got right to work. He took out the ice maker, tested and then reinstalled it. I heard the water rush back in so was happy that’d be back. Then he started on the dishwasher. Yuck! I could see a screen in the back was gunky but when he started taking out parts for me to clean in the sink, it was so gross. There was food gunk caked on all three parts and it took lots of scrubbing to get them clean. It made me want to wash every dish in the house again. John recommended LemiShine to keep the dishwasher clean and de-cloud the glassware. Then it was downstairs to the dryer, which had the wrong vent hose installed and it was gunky too. Not completely blocked but enough to impact dry times. I was very happy with all my newly fixed appliances and he was out the door ~3:00 so I had some time before knitting. 

My first call was to the vet. I had appointments for Wrennie and Pie on Saturday but if Wrennie needed 7 days of ear drops, I’d be in Canada so that wouldn’t work. They had an appointment and she did need the meds so it was a good call. I also got a booster shot for Pie so wouldn’t need to take her on Saturday. Too bad I botched the sub-cutaneous shot when I tried. I’m calling it good though since she’s had shots every year so can skip one. Next year is rabies so she’ll be at the vet then for sure. 

After the vet, I frosted the banana cake I’d made for knitting and went through all the boxes of cereal on top of the fridge. I had 4 unopened boxes to give away and anything opened that wasn’t one of the few faves I’d eat went into the chicken bag. I went to knitting with my hands full and left empty handed. Yay! 

Tuesday was uneventful – work flew (I trained all afternoon) then swimming. But when I went to bed, I slept for only 20 minutes before waking up and I was wide awake. Damn. I got up and didn’t go back to bed until after 1:00. I’d be hurting in the morning for sure. 

I actually didn’t feel that bad the next morning and when I found out a planning meeting would be at Panera, I got a coffee and drank 2 big cups in addition to my thermos. While it kept me awake, I had a sour stomach all day. I opted to go straight home and was super productive, which I’ll chalk up to all that caffeine. I picked an heirloom tomorrow from my garden and had a delicious BLT for dinner then prepped all the concord grapes, which is doing something. You have to squeeze every single grape, cook the guts and strain the seeds then mix them back with the skins. All that and I’ll only get 2 pies out of it. But concord grape streusel pie is so delish that it’s worth it. I also fixed my blender (long overdue.) I went to bed at the regular time and slept like a rock. 

I had signed up for a weight lifting session at Campus Rec so was there and ready to work out just after 5:00 on Thursday. It was brutal! I don’t know what I expected but it was intervals between a machine and floor work – kettle bell squats, pushups and such. I was tired but felt good. Until I woke up an achy mess on Friday. My thighs hurt every time I sat down. Clearly I need to get some weights into my exercise routine. After Canada. : ) 

I started Saturday with an 8:15 hair appointment, which got me up and dressed so I didn’t sit all morning in my nightie knitting (my usual MO.) I got busy with the spare room as soon as I got home. It looked like a yarn bomb had exploded in there plus I needed to pull fall clothes to take to Canada. I moved all the loose yarn into the front room then started slogging through the rest, adding lots of clothes to the Goodwill bag in the process. I spent a chunk of the afternoon stashing all the unrecorded yarn. I made nice dinner (I reorganized the freezer in there too) and went to bed with things looking much worse than when I’d started. 

Sunday was my day to finish it all and get everything set for my upcoming trip. I had tickets to the symphony for Sunday night but had given them to Andrea when she stopped on Saturday so that was off my list. I plugged away at the piles all day and by evening things were looking good. I had clothes chosen, laundry done, yarn put away (there will be some better sorting/storing after Canada – see a trend here?) and food set for the next two days. Skipping the symphony had been a good decision because it took the pressure off and meant I had a low stress day. All good. 

Except for just a few last minute things, I was pretty much ready for Canada. I had chosen some knitting projects to take, had clothes ready for the suitcase and the house was as neat and tidy as it gets. There’s a big list for AC (after Canada) and I’m actually excited to get to them. While this trip will be a blast, I’m looking forward to being home for three solid months. Oh the possibilities!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Week 37 - Some Long Days

We needed to be on the road by 8:00 to make it to the Amanda rendezvous by 10:00 so were up early. We stopped at Connie’s favorite coffee shop for breakfast to go and enjoyed the ride – chatting, scenery and treats. All good. Amanda arrived, I transferred my bags, hugged Connie and off we went. Oddly enough, Amanda wanted to go to Rapid City for Chinese food, which Connie and I had just driven through an hour earlier. Whatever. The food was really good and leaving from Rapid allowed us to take the interstate home, which saved time in the long run. I sat up front with Amanda so got more knitting done along with adult conversation. It was a long day though and I didn’t walk through my door until 10:33 that night. I unpacked, took a shower and went to bed. The alarm would be a rude awakening the next morning.  

It wasn’t that bad! I felt pretty rested (I had, after all, done nothing but sit on my butt all day Monday….) and was fine at work. Dodie and I had lunch at Noodles and I swam after work. It felt good to be home Tuesday night. 

After work on Wednesday, I was going to Seward to pick up Andrea's fair entries. I had gone last year and enjoyed their farmers' market so had agreed to go this year despite not having anything to pick up for myself. I got some fun stuff at the farmers' market – caramel corn, a piece of strudel and molasses cookies for the junk and sweet corn, green beans and a cuke for the healthy. All good. I decided to take a different way home to see Dwight, a little, mostly dead town I’d never been to. It had a typical Nebraska small town main drag  – PO, bar, café and many empty store fronts. But there was a small junk shop that had the front door open and a Sale Today sign propped on a chair so I went in. There was a 20 something woman in there who said she was cleaning since it was cool enough so she opened. It was a true junk shop but I found a cute little pot for my African violets for $1. She couldn’t break a $5 though so took the 65 cents I had in my coin purse. Fun. She also highly recommended the café, which makes homemade donuts on Sundays. It’s only open for breakfast and lunch so was closed. Then she mentioned that some local poet had a shop in the next block. I asked if it was Ted Koozer (former US Poet Laureate) and she thought it might be. There was a single old store that was all fixed up with “Poetry Made and Repaired” on the window and Private Studio on the door. Cute. I didn't think to take a picture but here's one from the web. And I checked with Gina, the accountant 2 cubies down who lives near there, and it is him. More fun for Dwight. I was glad I went. 

From there I drove to another small town called Brainard, which has a regional high school but otherwise was just as dead, which I found strange. I figured they’d at least have a quick shop or something since they have hundreds of students there every day, but no. Anyway, it was fun exploring and I got to Wahoo just in time to hit The Warehouse. Lorri came over to drop Honey Crisps from her brother’s tree and later Andrea stopped over to pick up her fair stuff. So, it was a busy night but fun. 

After swimming on Thursday, I waited in line at Little Caesar's for not hot, not ready pizza (won't go there again) and brought it to Becky's house. After pizza and salad, I got to visit with the kitten I helped rescue last week. She was full of energy and lots of fun but I felt no compulsion to take her home. Becky had another foster from campus that was dumped near the Military Science building. He was older and very nice but no desire to take him home either. I had so much fun playing with the kittens that I left late and it was 9:15 before I walked into my house. I was absolutely exhausted and could barely keep my eyes open so went to bed early. How nice that the next day was Friday.

Friday was over in a flash and all that was between me and a blissful weekend at home was a stop at the grocery store. The traffic on O Street was so nuts at 5:00 that I detoured over to Vine Street and so had to go right by Goodwill. It was the 10 for $10 sale so I stopped. I found a couple of things on the reject rack outside the fitting room so was going to commit to finding 8 more things (you have to buy 10 to get the price) so headed to the yarn before starting the clothes search. Well, the yarn there is usually priced twice retail (I've complained repeatedly) so I wasn't expecting much but there were tons of skeins of better quality wool and most were priced 99 cents. Score! I went back for a cart and filled it with yarn. I did manage to find 8 more clothing items but most were for friends. I was happy with the yarn, some of whichwas going to friends too. After a stop at Aldi, where I stocked up on fun German Oktoberfest food, I got home at 8:00. It was another long day but I was done. I could not wait for the weekend. 
But you know me. I had booked my Saturday chock full. I woke up early and had had breakfast, stripped my bed and done two loads of laundry by 8:00 a.m. After catching up with Carolyn, I headed to the library to pick up money, deposited it at the bank and met my friend Nancy for lunch at Chips. I left there just in time to grab two cats (Pixel and Tot) for a vet appointment at 2:15. When I got home, I made a cup of tea and collapsed. I was beat! After a restorative cup of tea, I forced myself to get up to do more laundry and mow. I was determined to get everything done so I could cook all day Sunday and not have anything hanging over my head. Success!

I was up early on Sunday too but the pressure was off. All I had on my agenda for the day was cooking and finishing the laundry. I started with French toast and bacon then used my farmers' market produce to make salads - 3 bean and cucumber. Over the course of the day, I interspersed knitting with laundry and more cooking. By supper time I had made cheesy baked cauliflower and a banana cake to take to knitting. On a whim I also cleared out the food corner so had a bunch of stale crackers and such for Lori's chickens to go along with all the produce scraps. 

But when I went to the freezer for an ice cream sandwich after dinner, it was soft. I made the long overdue call to the appliance guy and made an appointment for Monday at 4:00. But when I weighed losing a freezer full of food against vacation time, I called and rescheduled to 1:00. He also offered to come over and check the freezer out quickly and he had the door sealing better immediately so said everything would be OK until the next day. He'd also be looking at the dishwasher and dryer. Like I said, long overdue.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 36 - Black Hills Fun

It was a memorable week. Not only was I ending it in The Black Hills with Connie but there was some kitty drama.

Tuesday was the first run of monthly reports in fiscal year 16 and it wasn’t going well. I’d identified some problems and the tables had to be rebuilt by the programmers twice so by noon, when I’m usually nearly done, I had just started over. When Nora called just after noon, I picked up my pad and pen thinking she was giving me something to do. Nope, it was a cat problem.

Judy, a friend of Cheryl’s who works at a new UNL department at Airpark (outskirts of Lincoln’s airport) had driven from there to East Campus thinking she could hear something but not sure. After the van sat at East Campus all morning she then drove to our building, when she was sure she heard a cat. She opened the hood and a kitten jumped from under her hood and into the engine compartment of the car parked next to her. That’s when I got called in.

I went down to the parking lot and could hear the kitten but the whole front end was sealed up so I couldn’t see anything. The car had a temporary hang tag so after calling Parking to get whose it was then the department to find out who they gave it to, I got on the phone with a new faculty member from Turkey. I had to ask him to come to the lot with his keys. I had already put bits of stinky food under his car to no avail and now the kitten was making lots of noise. We opened the hood but couldn’t see the kitten then he moved his car and the kitten moved towards the back. When nothing worked, we drove to my mechanics and they put it up on a lift, unbolted some enormous car part in the center of the car to get better access and pulled out the cutest long haired calico kitten you ever saw from where it was hiding on top of the gas tank. It looked unscathed from its adventures but I took it to the vet for a checkup to be sure.

My mechanics didn’t charge me anything so I donated $20 towards beer. They were all a hoot – 4 big tattooed mechanics tearing the car apart to find the kitten. Anyway, from there I took the kitten across town to the vet. All this took 2.5 hours out of the middle of my day. Not good but at least the kitten was OK and I was back to deans’ reports. I worked late trying to finish my reports but found another issue so failed. I did weed for an hour when I got home though so skipping swimming wasn’t a total bust. All in all, it was a good day’s work though, in every way. Did I mention that she was gorgeous? I will NOT adopt her. NOOOOO!

I went home Wednesday and mowed since I hadn’t on the weekend and would be gone for the upcoming weekend. What is it about traveling that makes me get so much done? Anyway, after swimming on Thursday I went home to do laundry and pack. I also baked a batch of lemon chocolate chip cookies to take on the road. I left for work Friday with everything ready to go. I drove to Amanda’s at noon and after a bit of a wait, we were on the road. I sat in the backseat with Elsa (Amanda’s 5 year old) and so didn’t get as much knitting done as I’d hoped but Elsa’s a joy and we had fun. I got to the hotel in Hot Sprints at 9:15 after 9 hours on the road. It was great to see Connie and we both slept like rocks.

We were up so early that there was no one at the desk to take our key so we went down the street for a wonderful breakfast (cheddar bacon toast with my bacon and eggs plus a piece of pecan pie bread pudding to go – yum!), went back to drop our key then headed north. I saw that we’d be near Sylvan Lake, which is Nora’s favorite place in The Black Hills, so we stopped there first. The walk around the lake was just over a mile so despite not being dressed for it, we headed off. I wasn’t 50 yards from the beginning when a piece of glass got imbedded in my toe (Birkenstocks are not the best shoes for hiking) but I was able to feel it through the ridiculous amount of blood and pull it out. Once the bleeding stopped, we finished the walk, which was lovely. From there we went to Hill City, where we shopped along the main drag. I found lots of fun stuff – stocking stuffers, a cool pin made from the handle of a vintage knife and even a shirt for work. Rapid City was next up. We got pedicures at the mall, found more clothes at JCPenney then got ribs at Texas Roadhouse, which was our regular thing when we did Omaha runs before Connie moved north. From there we headed home to Spearfish and hung out at Connie's before heading to the local Irish pub for a Guinness on the back patio. A friend of Connie's was playing but we never went inside so barely heard him, which was fine. It was nice and cool outside and was a relaxing end to the day.

Sunday was our day to head up the canyon. It was quite chilly when we woke up, the weather having changed overnight. We had a nice breakfast at home and I knitted on the patio while Connie visiting with a friend who came to pick up Gordy's lawnmower. We left for Rough Lock Falls late morning but between the barely above freezing water and the chilly air, we only stayed 5 minutes but managed to get our feet in the water 3 times for 5 seconds at a time. The water is breathtakingly cold, that's all you can manage. Wading - check. From there we went to Lead to see the visitors' center Connie helped create. It was absolutely wonderful and I could see why Connie was so proud of it. I found a few more stocking stuffers at the gift shop and off we went to Chubbies. Yay! I bought lots of truffles - enough to fill the punch card and get 4 more free. Yum. But that was all that was on our list so we were done and it was only 12:30. So many possiblities!

We grabbed a sandwich in Deadwood then headed to Wal-Mart for supplies. With so much free time, we decided to go home and get busy. We started with hanging Connie's new shelf over the dining room table, which lead to moving some artwork and then progressed to rearranging the living room furniture. When all that was done, we repotted some African violets then harvested veggies from the garden. What a fun and productive afternoon! Then I introduced Connie to Saturday snack supper but on Sunday. We made caprese salad with tomatoes from the garden and had it with shrimp cocktail. And Guinness, of course. It wouldn't be snack supper without it. We settled in for an evening of Sherlock. I packed before bed because we'd be leaving at 8:00 to meet Amanda at 10:00. It was a quick trip but so worth it. No amount of talking or emailing beats face time. I miss that with Connie but at least she's only a state away. A big state but still.