Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Week 17 - A Clean Slate

The week seemed to be all about plants. Every time I turned around I was getting more plants. And if it wasn’t plants, it was yarn. All good, right?

I had started plant shopping with Lori on Saturday last week and then found myself taking a break one afternoon to pick up a few perennials at Urban Trails. I got yet another heuchera and a couple of others for part-shade. Wednesday night I picked up the plants I’d ordered from Emma up the street for a school fundraiser. Thursday morning I stopped at the UNL Hort Club sale between the dentist and work. That was my last plant purchase of the week but let me tell you, it was plenty. Between all those and the many geraniums and lantanas I overwintered, I should be good to go. Not that I won’t buy more but I could stop. That’s the item of note here. : )

Friday was Arbor Day, which is a state holiday here in Nebraska. Every state’s got one of their own. Celebrating trees is at least positive, as opposed to RI’s VJ Day. But I digress… Anyway, we don’t get it off at UNL but it was the Mid-Iowa Shop Hop so several of us from Monday Night Knitters were taking it off to drive 500 miles round trip, hitting 7 yarn shops along the way. I was so excited about this that I didn’t sleep very well Thursday night. 5:50 a.m. came pretty darn early. Only for this could I get excited about getting up at regular workday time on a vacation day.

Michelle picked up Andrea and me in Wahoo at 7:00 with her car loaded with snacks for the road. We picked Lori up at the side of I-80 in Iowa near where she’d been staying with a friend. We hit our first, and best, yarn shop at 9:45 – Heartland FiberCo. in Winterset, birthplace of John Wayne. What a fabulous shop! The people were welcoming and knowledgeable, they had a great selection and were located in the cutest town square among what looked like a bunch of fun shops. I tried to be conservative in my purchases since this was our first stop so left with 3 lots of sock yarn, a few stocking stuffers and a smile on my face. I must plan a day to head to Winterset to spend more time there (a class maybe?) and check out the town square and the covered bridges since Winterset is in Madison County. Who knew?

From there we headed to all the shops in metro Des Moines. While I managed to buy yarn at every shop, none of them held a candle to Heartland Fiber Co. While the spreadsheet (yes, Lori made us a spreadsheet with 30 minutes allotted at each shop and the mileage and driving time estimate to the next) had us eating in Des Moines, we’d snacked at some of the shops and in the car so weren’t hungry. After doing the last 2 shops, we were finally ready to eat in Marshalltown. I had told the group I needed a drippy burger after dieting for nearly 3 weeks so we got a recommendation and directions to the 13th Street Inn. It was perfect! It was built mid-20th century by the look of it and nothing had been touched since. We took the booth in the front window and dined on a fried combo basket (the deep fat fried cheese curds were the best) and drippy burgers all around plus root beer on tap too. Yum! From there we gassed up and headed home, our tummies full and the trunk full of yarn. With one stop at Dairy Queen for a blizzard and a stretch, we got home at 9:15. It had been a 500 mile 14+ hour day and was lots of fun but I was happy to be home.

So when your cats have been in all day and you don’t let them out until 9:00 pm, they don’t want to come in when it’s bedtime. I was struggling to fall asleep anyway so was still reading at 11:45 when I decided to try and get the cats in again because it'd be raining by morning. Picture this – I’m outside in my nightie trying to grab Pixel when I fall ass over tea kettle, feet in the air, twisting my knee in the process. And then she didn’t even come in! I woke up sore and achy Saturday morning to a chilly rain so I sat on my butt and knitted all day, interspersing just enough chores and neatizing to not feel guilty. Sunday was my day to redeem myself.

Tim was due to cut trees at 1:00 so I got up and mowed first thing so I could get my laundry hung on the line before he came. The wash load was done and I was about to make lunch when Tim showed up at 11:45, which cramped my style a bit but at least it’d get done. Tim cut trees and I followed him with RoundUp to nuke the stumps. He had his 2 boys with him so the older one hauled the trees to the trailer while the younger one (about 4 years old, I’d guess) got into mischief. When the first round was done, they left to head to the dump and I grabbed a PB and J and waited for them to call. I met them at the farm store in town to buy supplies for my compost bins then we headed to Andrea’s to trim her cedar. I was there as a consultant but ended up hauling some branches. Then it was back to my house to cut some bushes (the alley looked so good that I had him cut my forsythia and a viburnum I hadn’t planned on originally) and put up the bins. While they’re not the woodcrafted things of beauty I’d wanted, they’ll work. Tim peppered me with questions as he built them so I stayed outside the whole time weeding a nearby bed. By the time we were done, my backyard was a clean slate. Nice.

When Tim left at 4:00, I took a shower and collapsed in my chair. My back was a bit twingy and I was spent. It had been a productive day though so all worth it. I’d fully redeemed myself and my yard looked great. Yay! Now to keep up the yard work. I have lots of raking under what used to be thickets. At least I have new compost bins for all the leaves. And look at all this fun yarn - life is good!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Week 16 - Plants and Yarn

While the week was fine overall, there were a couple of things that didn’t work out as planned that put a damper on things. But spring is my season so in the end, it was all good.

It started on Monday when I arranged to have the afternoon off because Tim had said he’d be home and available to cut my weed trees. But when I called him to arrange the exact time to meet, he said he couldn’t do it. Damn! He suggested the next evening instead but by the time I got home Monday, he’d called to say that wouldn’t work either and asked about Thursday. With dreary, rainy weather forecast for Thursday through the weekend, that wasn’t going to work so I’d be losing another week. Grrr… That didn’t stop him from calling twice to the point where I was feeling pestered. Sheesh.

That paled in comparison to what was coming though. A member of our knitting group suggested the entire group do the Mid-Iowa Shop Hop on Friday the 24th, which is a 500 mile round trip to hit seven different yarn shops. Now she’d been doing it for several years with her sister but this time offered up her 12 passenger van so we could all go and make a day of it. So we all went about rearranging our schedules and asking for the day off work and the total was up to 7. Thursday morning she sent an email saying she wasn’t going, leaving us completely in the lurch because no one but her had a vehicle that would fit the remaining 6. We’d either have to take 2 cars or find a van to rent so we could go together. Either way meant more money out of pocket plus logistics galore. Pissed as hell is an understatement for how I felt. I researched and found a van to rent in Omaha and emailed the group. One member cancelled, which solved the problem but I felt so crappy that this had all gone down. I was in a foul mood all day Thursday and was determined to not let it affect Friday too. At least the trip was salvaged but I still didn’t feel good about leaving someone behind. Never again.

Enough of the problems! Some good things happened too. I sold 16 skeins of yarn from my stash (always good) and received an envelope of scrap sock yarn along with a skein I'd bought from someone's Ravelry stash. Plus I had a fun weekend despite the rain. Let’s talk about happy things.

Lorri and I were going to the grand opening of our favorite country greenhouse on Saturday and that happened to coincide with a rummage sale at the museum and a barn sale at our favorite country gift shop. I picked her up before 10:00 and we scored fun things at both sales (stocking stuffers baby!) before heading to the greenhouse. The first thing I saw when I got out of the car was an old wooden chair painted bright red. I had no sooner told Lorri that I needed to find an old chair to paint orange for my yard when I turned a corner and there one was! It was only $30 and ready to go so I was a happy camper. Add the flat of fun plants I’d bought and it was all good. And while it was pouring rain when we left Wahoo, it stopped just long enough for us to get the plants and head home. The garden gods were smiling on us.

It continued to rain all weekend so there was no gardening to be done beyond putting my pot of pansies on my new orange chair. Love it! While I’d thought about doing some organizing in the basement, when the heat’s off and it’s damp both inside and out, the basement isn’t a hospitable place. The chill drove me back upstairs so I got out some yarn and had dyeing fun. I did two skeins on Saturday, trying and failing to capture the dark pink of crabapples in bloom but ending up with pretty yarn nonetheless. I tried again on Sunday and failed again on the dark pink but got two more gorgeous skeins. I love dyeing but it’s easier if you don’t go into it with a set idea but instead go with the flow. I can’t seem to predict what colors I’ll get but end up with pretty yarn anyway. : )

Taking advantage of the weather and some cans I pulled out when I reorganized all my food cupboards, on Sunday afternoon I made a big pot of cabbage soup to eat for lunches on my 600/900 calorie week. Yum and it counts as a free veg. Speaking of the diet, I lost 2 more pounds so am down 34 going into my 3rd week. Could I break 40 by the end? Here’s hoping.

So thanks for listening to my whining earlier. Spring and yarn rescued the downer week. Hopefully spring is making you all happy too.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Week 15 - Shades of Spring

If one of the main things I remember from the week was how hungry I was, I’d say it was a pretty uneventful week. For me anyway. It was a dreary, wet week with no sun at all until Friday. Now I like rain but we didn’t get any appreciable rain until Thursday so it was dreary with no benefit. Oh well. April showers you know.

This was the first week of my third rotation so it should have been a cake walk but for some reason this time, the 600 calorie days were brutal. I was eating pretty much what I ate on the other rotations but was so hungry that I could hear my stomach growling from outside my body. Not fun. But I stuck with it and other than an ounce of cheddar I ate before swimming on Tuesday, I didn’t deviate from the menus. I was motivated to lose the jelly bean weight I’d gained before Easter, which I did by the end of the week plus 3 more pounds. All good. But it was harder this week than it’s ever been so I hope this was an aberration.

I swam Tuesday and Wednesday because I was going to the movies on Thursday with my friend Nancy. Anne and I were talking about her mom’s health in the pool on Wednesday. She has some chronic health problems and had been to Mayo recently for some follow up visits. Well, Anne called me Thursday morning to say her mom had died in her sleep. This was so sad and a huge blow to Anne, who was devoted to her mom. I had to fight tears at my desk but it’s not about me. I wasn’t close to my mother so can’t relate to how Anne’s feeling but told her I’d be there for anything she needs. I potted up some cheery pansies for her, which seems lame but it’s a start.

The move was fun (In Search of General Tso at The Ross along with a short documentary on Sriracha) and then we went to Ploughshare, where I skipped the stout and just had their delicious beet and goat cheese salad. Now I’m sure that blew my 900 calories for the day but I was OK with that. At least I hadn’t had popcorn at the theatre.

I made a beeline home on Friday, despite having a list of possible places to stop. The sun was out and I just wanted to be home to start the weekend. Typical. I started my weekend by dyeing some alternate yarn for the socks I was working on and had them hanging in the shower to dry by bedtime. Nice start.

Andrea was at my door early Saturday, delivering scalloped cement borders for my new berry bed. I then called Tim to come over about building my new compost bins, which he said he could do. After running Friends of the Library errands, it was already lunch time. Unfortunately it was too wet to do much outside but done but I did putter a bit outside, getting a few non-digging things taken care of before it was time to head to Lori’s. Her sister was in town for the weekend so we were knitting, which is always good. Despite bringing Girl Scout cookies, I didn’t indulge, sticking to just tea. My head is so in this diet! Anyway, it was fun, as always, and I didn’t get home until after 7:00.

Sunday was a day at home. It was still pretty soggy out but I opted to stay in and catch up on things instead of gardening because my house was a mess. My cleaning lady is due Tuesday so my house hasn’t been cleaned in almost 4 weeks and it shows but I also had regular chores and wanted to do some cooking since I have more options on my 1200 calorie week. I got everything on my list done, which always feels great and it put me in a good place to start the week. I also finished a sock that was an experiment so it involved ripping out most of both socks, changing my contrast yarn (Friday’s dye job) and experimenting with stitches but I couldn’t be happier with the finished product. What do you think? I see a jonquil, hence the pic, but Lori’s sister saw candy corn. I’m going with the spring theme. And on that note, have a good week and enjoy whatever weather spring has brought your way.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week 14 - My Garden Year?

One of the things I love about gardening is that every year is a new beginning. A new chance to try new things, get it right, whatever. My favorite part of gardening is the planning and boy can I plan but when it comes to execution, I mostly fall short. The blazing hot and humid Nebraska summers mean I have a small window in spring to get the heavy work done before it’s just too hot to be outside. Add my usual annual trek to Europe in May and the window is even smaller. Well, between the early spring weather this year and the fact that I won’t be going to Europe next month, I’m thinking this might actually be the year that I get things in order. So far so good.

The weather this week was weird – try high 80’s on Wednesday! It was so hot that we had thunder storms on Wednesday night. Since I have knitting on Monday and swim Tuesday and Thursday, Wednesday is my night to get outside but not this week. I made up for it over the weekend though. I spent hours outside both Saturday and Sunday and by the time I stopped on Sunday, I had raked the entire yard and cleaned out every bed (there’s a bit left back on the alley – low priority), all the roses were pruned and I’d moved one of my raised veg beds, sifted and added compost to it and planted my early crops. Between that and the work I did out front last weekend, things look great. Andrea even noticed when she stopped by on Saturday. Yay! And it’s only the first week of April. I am SO hopeful.

I had been kicking around the idea of taking a week off this month to work outside but came up with a new plan this week that Nora approved. I came to realize that working outside every single day was not going to work for my knee so I looked at taking Wednesdays off for the rest of the month, Wednesdays being midway between the weekend so my body has had a few days to recuperate. While that looks great on paper, the weather wouldn’t be cooperating this coming week and who knows for the rest of the month. There’s also the reality of it being too chilly to work outside most mornings, which would leave me using vacation time for sitting on my butt. So the plan is I’m going to play it fast and loose with my vacation time, deciding based on weather, my schedule and my motivation when I’ll take an afternoon off and I’ll just leave at noon. I think it’s going to work perfectly – I’ll be up and out every day and still get a few nice afternoons out in the garden while maximizing vacation hours. Perfect. Maybe I’ll take a week in the fall.

There were weird bits besides the weather this week. Tuesday was cleaning lady day so I’d done all the last minute neatizing Monday after knitting and Tuesday morning. I was excited to get home after swimming, when the instructor didn’t show so we just did our own thing in the deep end, to a clean house. Well, I opened the door and could see that the floor was still dirty. I facebooked my cleaning lady, who had been posting all kinds of pics of her new grandbaby who, come to find out, is in Arizona. She forgot to tell me she was not coming. And she’s just skipping so won’t be back for another 2 weeks. Sheesh!

I was also having trouble sleeping, waking up an hour early several days in a row. When I woke up early again on Thursday, I texted Darla to see if she was up and we met for breakfast at Lulu’s Lunchery – a new restaurant on the north side of Lincoln. We had yummy lemon pancakes and caught up, leaving with a plan to eat out every week that I’m not rotating. The bonus was leaving the restaurant early enough that I had time for Jiffy Lube before work. Way to put good use to not sleeping, right? It put me in great mood for the rest of the day.

Rotating. I could not wait to start eating healthy again. I purposely took 2 weeks off so I wouldn’t be rotating over Easter but Helen was working so there was no family get together and I ended up eating a butt load of crap for a solid 2 weeks. Not good. I ended my break with Burger King for lunch on Easter. Time to get healthy again and drop more weight!

To end on a positive note, March was all about socks. Now you may be thinking it’s always about socks for me but this month I actually knitted 3 pair of socks for the first time ever. All three are Christmas gifts so it’s only March and I’ve already got half of my Christmas socks done. I also picked up the most gorgeous pair of socks I’ve ever knitting from Yarn Charm, where they’ve been hanging for months, and mailed them off to Ginny for her birthday. She loved them. So, all socks and all good. Isn’t life great?

On that note, I hope you all had a nice Passover, Easter or whatever you celebrate. Happy spring!