Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Week 30 - Just Saying No!

This week was all about saying No! It seemed like every time I turned around, I was nixing something. It all worked out for the best in the end though.

It started Monday morning, when I was feeling foggy headed and was struggling to get moving. The final straw was driving in listening to the book for book club on Thursday – River of Doubt. It was a non-fiction account of Theodore Roosevelt’s trip in the Amazon and it just went on and on. I was halfway through the book and they’d just hit the river. Done! I couldn’t stand another second of the blather and knew dismal stuff was coming so called it good. Life is too short to read/listen to bad books. From there, the day got better and I was in a good mood by the time I left knitting. But when I approached my house, there was a dead, orange kitten in the road in front of my house. Not having a clue whose it was and not finding any neighbor who knew, I buried him in my backyard for lack of a better solution. I didn’t let it ruin my good mood though and continued in that vein, deciding not to worry about staying up late to clear surfaces for the cleaning lady. I got on facebook and told her to just do the floors and bathrooms because I wasn’t going to stress about the rest. Another No that worked for me.

On Tuesday morning, I took one look at the weather forecast and decided it was time for yet another No! I had made plans to go to a movie with my friend Nancy after work on Wednesday but the weather was going to be gorgeous again and I could not face the idea of being stuck inside on such a nice evening on the only day in the week I can go right home. I called Nancy and postponed until the following Wednesday, which meant I could ditch work a bit early and get 2 hours of gardening in before dinner. I reclaimed the rest of my veg beds and the berries. When I went in to shower just before 7:00, I felt great for the progress I made. Yet another No working in my favor.

Thursday was yet another full day – from work to the pool to book club, getting home after 8:00. But the next day was Friday so it was all good. The first closing meeting was at 10:00 so I prepped for that first thing, had a delicious lunch with Layton at McFarland’s and then met Darla at Menard’s after work. I needed an under the bed box to get my gift wrap in order, which was the first step in reclaiming the floor of my laundry room. I failed to find one at Menard’s but did get one at the next store so headed home confident in my plans to stay in and be productive all weekend.

It was hotter than blazes so I spent all weekend inside except for a brief run to the market on Sunday. By the end of the weekend, I had gone through all the wrapping stuff, reclaimed the laundry room, cleared the surfaces of my 3 problem areas (desk, bar and table) then went through all the paper. I also cooked/prepped a bunch of food for the week, including a big pot of veggie soup for my 600 calorie days. Lest you think there was no fun in there, I did make time to dye a bit of yarn for my swap and do some knitting between all the regular chores. I even skyed with my friend Eileen in Canada on Sunday morning. Progress is good!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Week 29 - Back to Reality

There isn't much to say about this week. It was perfectly normal day by day but I started the week feeling behind, with stuff all over the house but my full schedule left me no time to deal with any of it. I also wasn't sleeping well, which didn't help. It'd all get done eventually.

Things turned around on Thursday when there was no water aerobics because of an issue with the pool. After a stop at the market to restock on groceries, which was long overdue, I blissfully ran home to start reclaiming the house. I finally took the last of my stuff out of the suitcase and put it downstairs. I also made a nice dinner and started to feel less behind. And the next day was Friday. 

I started the weekend by meeting Darla for thrifting. I'd already scored some yarn at Goodwill that afternoon so the fact that we found next to nothing didn't matter so much. It was great to be hanging with Darla and we weren't ready to part so went to Tico's for nachos. Not on the diet but I didn't care. We chatted while we ate and somehow I felt better because I had water instead of the margarita I wanted. Justification gets us through some days, right?

My weekend was chock full of more catching up. I had deposits to do for the Friends of the Library, stopped at Andrea's shop then dropped a bunch of produce scraps at Lori's for the girls. It was pretty hot out but I ended up outside anyway, starting to weed the garden, which had 5 foot tall weeds. Being gone for 10 days will do that. I ended Saturday with a restocking run to Dollar General. I was outside again on Sunday, mowing, clearing the deck, weeding and arranging containers and finishing the laundry. By the end of the weekend, I had a better handle on things and wasn't feeling so behind but still had surfaces covered with crap. They'd just have to wait and I was OK with that. : )

Week 28 - Mini Road Trip

It was nice to wake up at Carolyn’s, even if my sore throat I’d woken up with the day before had morphed into a cold. I’d sucked Zicam all day Sunday so was hoping it’d be a mild one. The only event on our Monday agenda was lunch with Auntie Margaret and Bette, which was wonderful, as always, for both the food (fried clams at The Crow’s Nest) and the company. We had started laundry before leaving so could just throw a few clothes in an overnight bag to be ready to leave the next day. But there were all the totes of clothes to go through and I didn’t want to leave that until the end of the week so after we got back, I stood right in front of the AC vent and spent 2 hours trying on clothes. By the time I was done, I had 2 totes to take home, another to try again at Christmas and a leaf bag full of things for Sharyn to try. All good.

We were up and out of the house early  on Tuesday, headed for Vermont. Since our first stop was The Vermont Country Store in the southern part of the state, we were taking the scenic route to get there. The store, which Carolyn’s dad had said to skip but John had said to go to, was fun. We sampled our way through the food area and picked up enough stocking stuffers to make it worth the stop. Then it was on to King Arthur, which was our reason for going to Vermont. I was a bit disappointed that it was just a store of stuff I already order from the catalog (I guess I’d been expecting demos or some such) but we had a nice lunch in their café after buying some fun things in the store. Our hotel in Burlington was the next stop.

We arrived without event but when we got out of the car, Carolyn’s bag was nowhere to be found. After beating herself up for leaving it at home, we headed to JC Penney, which was right across the street, for a change of clothes, nightie and undies and then to the market for toiletries. I asked the goth bagger for a restaurant recommendation (cool and not a chain) but she couldn’t come up with anything so I asked where the college was and we put that into the GPS (for future reference, we call her “the lady”) and headed there. What a fabulous town Burlington is! We had our choice of fun places to eat on a 3 block pedestrian mall and had a yummy Italian meal for supper. Afterwards we headed to the lake and found soft serve, which I had a hankering for, at Beansie’s – an old yellow school bus converted to a food truck that’s permanently parked by the side of the park we were in. Nice. Then on the way home we found a cool store to check out later – City Market. It turned out to be a lovely day after the brief upset of the forgotten bag.

Our plan for Canada was just to hit Bulk Barn, which was right off the highway outside of Montreal and we were well prepared with mapquest directions all printed out. Bulk Barn was as fun as the first time and Carolyn loved it so our Canadian mission was a success. Then we went awry. John had emailed imploring us to see this city, which is one of his favorite places and he travels a lot. He recommended going to Atwater Market and the top of Mount Royal to see the view. Despite the fact that neither the GPS nor the phones were working north of the border plus not having a map, we decided to head into the city after all. Well, the first problem was the accident on the bridge that had traffic so backed up that it took 2 hours just to get over the river. I asked every person who had their window open and ended up stopped next to us where the market was and got lucky on the 3rd try – 2nd exit after the bridge. Unfortunately the 2nd exit dumped us in downtown Montreal with no sign of the market so we stopped at a Staples (Office en Gros or Fat Office in French) and found someone who spoke English and could give us directions. The market was a straight shot just few miles down the road and was lovely. It was an old farmer’s market full of locals buying produce. We had a late lunch in a café/bakery and Carolyn realized she’d been there 14 years ago on her only previous visit to Montreal, finding the elusive hedgehog pastry they’d failed to get that time. We shared one and it was delicious!

Since it was already later afternoon, we decided to head home, figuring we could just go right back to where we’d gotten off the highway and go back the same way. Yeah, right. We did that but the entrance was closed so we followed a detour only to find the next exit closed too. Feeling a bit desperate and with people honking at us, we got on the only highway in sight. While it was headed in the wrong direction, I figured we could easily exit and turn south. Wrong again! We ended up in a miles long tunnel under the city and when we came out, we were underneath one of the bridges over the river. Carolyn was starting to freak out (she’d been a trooper so far) but I have a good sense of direction so told her where to turn so we could find the entrance. After asking someone for directions, which I followed just fine in French, we found the entrance and made it across the river. But from there we were blindly following signs for USA and Carolyn wouldn’t take the exit for the highway we’d come in on for fear of ending up on the bridge from hell again so we kept following the USA signs. It didn’t take long before I realized we were heading to New York, which was the other side of Lake Champlain from our hotel. As soon as we crossed the border, the GPS came back to life and I found a way back via Route 11, which rambles through cute lakeside towns. Unfortunately we listened when the lady told us to take a turn towards a highway and so missed the most scenic part of Route 11, which does down the islands in the middle of the lake and ends with a bridge to Burlington. But at least we were headed back. It felt so good to be away from Montreal and back at our hotel.

We’d spent all day snacking on Bulk Barn purchases while stuck in traffic and had a late lunch so weren’t very hungry and the thought of getting back in the car, even just to drive downtown, was loathsome. Carolyn came up with the idea to walk to The Outback, which is right next door. While I normally would avoid a chain restaurant like the plague, this was perfect! We ordered drinks and appetizers and enjoyed them both. Way to end a stressful day!

The next morning we stopped at a cool food co-op/market we’d seen Tuesday night – City Market. It was everything we’d hoped for (a cross between Whole Foods and a local co-op) and we picked up bread, deli meat and olives for a picnic on the way home. We hit the road for our first stop at Ben & Jerry’s. Carolyn had been before so my expectations were low and the 30 minute “factory tour” was what I expected. After enjoying a high priced ice cream cone (the sample after the tour was about 2 tablespoons so not enough), I made a tie dye t-shirt, which was lots of fun. After a quick stop at the Cabot Cheese Store, we headed south. We stopped at a nice rest stop in New Hampshire for lunch and other than hitting a bit of rush hour traffic outside of Boston, the ride home was uneventful. It was good to be home.

The only plan for Friday was Cornelia was coming for breakfast, which we’d put together Thursday night so only had to pop in the oven Friday morning with a side of bacon. Cornelia arrived at 9:00 and we were still sitting at the table at 2:00 when Carolyn declared she was hungry and brought out our Cabot cheeses. More eating and chatting ensued, with Carolyn leaving us to walk on the treadmill in the basement mid-afternoon. Bob and Daisy stopped by later and then finally Sharyn and Butch arrived for dinner ~6:30. Our intent was to get take out from Iggy’s (the last must eat on my trip – clamcakes and chowder) and Butch offered to go get it but returned empty handed because there was a festival down at Oakland Beach so he couldn’t get anywhere near the restaurant. We headed out in search of food, ending up at Chello’s, where we waited a bit but finally got our dinner. Other than Butch being cranky when they switched the channel of the bar TV away from the Red Sox/Yankees game, it was a nice night. My last one in RI.

My flight wasn’t leaving until late afternoon so we had some free time on Saturday. I woke up early and immediately packed, fitting 2 totes of Carolyn’s clothes and everything I’d bought (lots of stocking stuffers and food mostly) in my suitcase and the huge duffel Carolyn pulled from the attic. Gotta love Southwest with 2 checked bags free! We puttered away the rest of the day, I packed a lunch and off we went to the airport. It was time to go home. I had a 3 hour layover in Chicago but had my knitting and iPad so was good for the long haul. More uneventful flights, which is all good, and I was home by 12:30 a.m. I had trouble winding down so didn’t fall asleep for a long time but it was good to be home in my own bed.

Sunday was full of unpacking, mowing the 2 week tall lawn and doing laundry. It was over in a flash and it was time to prepare for a normal work week. Even with the Montreal fiasco, it had been a fabulous trip, best RI trip ever I’d say. The mini road trip was a lot of fun and may be the first of many now that Aaron’s older. Next year he’ll be driving! When did that happen. : )

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Week 27 - New York Bound

What a busy week! Dottie was barely out the door and I was already in pre-trip mode for my next adventure - the long overdue redo of the NYC/RI trip I had to cancel 2 years ago when I got diverticulitis. But before I could leave I had 3 days of regular life.

I started Monday with a 7:30 doctor's appointment to check my BP, which had been sky high the day I got my mammogram. Of course, it was perfectly normal but I had to wait 20 minutes after the nurse took my BP for the doctor to tell me it was fine. At least I got Rx refills out of the deal. Then Monday night was Monster Sock Night at knitting. We'd done this last year and I absolutely loved it. Everyone brings their leftover sock yarn, we throw it in the middle of the table and start matching up yarns. It was as fun as last time and I left with 2 baggies of matched scraps for 2 ultra satisfying to knit pairs of monster socks. 

Tuesday was a relatively normal day among all the others. After swimming I stopped at Wal-Mart to buy pants for the trip since I had nothing that fit and had already picked up shirts last week. Then I did the final chores leftover from the weekend, leaving me just a small load of laundry and the actual packing to do on Wednesday with the always last thing to do watering of plants and changing of cat boxes. Fast forward to Wednesday night when I got all that done and had my suitcase at the door so I could load it on Thursday.

As usual, I was leaving for the airport directly from work so had my suitcase in the car when I left Thursday morning. Since I had gotten everything done the night before my morning was pretty stress free and felt normal, which was nice because this is a longer time away than I usually do for a RI trip. I worked all morning, had lunch with Layton then drove to the airport, arriving in good time and finally relaxing once I was waiting at the gate. The flights were uneventful (what more can you ask for when flying?) and I arrived on time. John picked me up in a Zip Car and we were at his apartment by midnight. I loved his place! It was so John and super comfy. We stayed up until 2:00 chatting and I slept like a rock until John woke me up to start our day.

John is a member of MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) so we could get in at 9:30, an hour before the museum was open to the public. We looked at the one early open exhibit then sat in the courtyard chatting until the rest of the museum opened. John is perfect to do a museum with because we both are quick about it - glancing around the room and only stopping to read a few things of particular interest. We were both starving so were the first people seated when the restaurant on the 5th floor opened. We sat right against the railing overlooking the courtyard we'd vegged in earlier and had an absolutely delicious lunch. Mine was Parmesan custard on an arugula salad. Yum! We then hit the gift shop where I found lots of fun things for stockings and my upcoming swap on Ravelry.

I wanted to see the art installation at Madison Square Park, Fata Morgana, so we headed there on the bus, which is always fun because you can see the sights while getting where you're going. It was so fun! We checked it out then got a chocolate shake from Shake Shack and sat on a bench enjoying the weather and watching people checking out their reflections in the artwork. We even saw Chelsea Clinton walk by. Cool. From there we went to the Indian spice store (more stocking stuffers) then went down to the river near the Brooklyn Bridge to hang out until dinner time. John's friend Eileen, whom I'd met a few summers ago, biked down to meet us and chatted until we left for dinner. Another friend of John's, Sarah, her sister and nephew were meeting us at Mission Chinese, which is a cool, trendy Chinese restaurant with a celebrity chef. They were nice and everything was delicious so it was a great end to the day. Well, there was a subway ride home but otherwise, we were done. We were both tired after our short sleep and busy day. 

Saturday was the 4th and John's friend, John, was doing an architecture boat tour around the city in the afternoon so we signed up for that. It was threatening rain as we left and did rain lightly for a bit but the sun was blazing soon enough and we had a wonderful day on the water. The tour went completely around Manhattan and John (the architectural historian) was full of interesting info about all the buildings and bridges we passed. And how perfect to see the Statue of Liberty up close on the 4th. We then took John out for drinks to thank him for a fabulous tour. From there we headed home, picking up a slice of pizza on the way. We sat on his terrace with our pizza and beer and watched fireworks all over the neighborhood. What a wonderful 4th!

Sunday was another travel day. After a nice breakfast, John ordered a car to take us to the Bronx train station, where I got the train to New Haven, where Deanne was picking me up. The traffic was nuts (what a good friend to offer to pick me up!) but we made it just before closing to Dee's favorite lobster roll place in Westbrook, where we ate outside overlooking a tidal pond and caught up. She dropped me at Carolyn's in the early evening for the next stage of my trip. What a great weekend and even better friends. Next step - Vermont and Montreal.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Week 26 - Roadshow with Dottie

Well, I started the week happy about the reclaimed the spare room, a car full of donations for Goodwill and anticipation of my sister’s arrival and Antiques Roadshow. All good, right? And it only got better.

The Goodwill stuff was dropped off Tuesday at lunch, when I also scored some new tops at ShopKo, which would go a long way towards decreasing my stress every morning as I tried to find something, anything that fit and was presentable for work. I did make a mistake and wear a pair of earth shoes that I’d bought a few years ago but hadn’t worn because they were too tight. When I was in the pool on Tuesday, I noticed how skinny my feet were so decided to try the shoes again. I wore them to work Wednesday, I was smart enough to bring some Birks, which were on my feet just 2 hours into the day. While they fit, the negative heel definitely was throwing off my gait and since I’d already had a shot in my knee, I couldn’t take any chances of messing things up before my trip so off they went. Good decision. I can wear them later when walking isn’t so crucial.

I had decided to stop rotating once my sister arrived, which would be 3 days short but I was OK with that, especially when I broke 50 pounds on Thursday morning. I had a custom training session scheduled for all afternoon Thursday so bought some cookies at The Cookie Company to offer as a snack mid-afternoon. Well, I ate just half a cookie and felt like crap. My stomach really can no longer cope with sweets, which isn’t all bad. Don’t get me wrong, there will be some chocolate consumption but after meals when my stomach isn’t empty.

Dottie was originally scheduled to drive all day Friday, spend Saturday at Antiques Roadshow and then drive back on Sunday but early in the week she called to say she was only scheduled until noon on Thursday so would drive then. I promptly took Friday off so we’d have an extra day together. She made good time and arrived ~9:00 on Thursday. I was fresh from the pool and ready for some fun.

After staying up late chatting, we had a leisurely morning on Friday, chatting some more over coffee. Then we headed out for some garage sales since it was Wahoo’s city wide garage sales weekend. We found some fun stuff here and there, stopping for lunch at The Wigwam then hitting a few more. From there we drove to Lincoln to check out the architectural antiques store for light fixtures for Dottie’s house. We spent a bunch of time there but she didn’t end up getting anything. After a fruitless stop at the Eco Stores, we went to Aardvark Antique Mall, which is huge but we did it all in an hour or so. I scored a lime green Pyrex pie plate to replace the one I foolishly let out of my house with a gift pie never to be seen again. We were pretty tired by the time we got back home so I whipped up comfort food for dinner – corned beef casserole and broccoli. It was a fun day.

Saturday was Antiques Roadshow so we just putzed around all morning and then headed to Omaha, arriving just in time for our 2:00 tickets. It’s very like Disney with switchback lines for each arrival time that took 40 minutes to get through only to get to the table where we got tickets for the lines we had to wait in for our appraisals. Our first stop was Asian Art, which had no line at all and we were pleased to hear that the Japanese 4 season prints our dad had brought back from the Korean war were worth $200. Then we waiting in glass for our grandmother’s crystal breakfast set, where the appraiser poo poo’d them since they were clear glass rather than colored but it was still worth more than we thought. Then it was an even longer line for jewelry, where Mrs. Jansen’s ring was worth between $475 and $550. We’d saved the longest line for last - Collectibles, which is where they throw everything that doesn't have a more specific category. It was an hour and twenty minutes of waiting before we saw the appraisor, who told Dottie her cast iron iron trivets (that's not a typo - they were meant to hold hot irons) were worth more than her husband had bid for them at a recent auction. That done, we were more than ready to hit the road. We'd had 4 hours of Roadshow fun.

We were meeting Helen at Farmer Brown's for prime rib but when we drove up, Charlie, Brenda and the baby, Carter, were there too and Michael arrived shortly thereafter so the whole family was there, which was a nice surprise. Charlie had recently had his 2nd hip replaced and was like a new man. I literally felt like I'd never seen this side of him. It was heartwarming. We had a wonderful dinner and lingered at the table, catching up. We left with prime rib leftovers, full bellies and smiles on our faces. It was a lovely ending to Dottie's trip.

Before Dottie left Sunday morning, I loaded up her trunk with all the acrylic yarn from my basement, which included several half done afghans, my afghan pattern books and even some hooks. It was great to see yet another load of stuff leaving my house. Dottie leaving wasn't so great but we'd had fun and vowed to not let so much time pass before seeing each other again. I think I'll be headed to Indiana before she comes back to Wahoo. 

After she left, it was on to chores - laundry, mowing, you know... all the stuff. A regular Sunday in my world.  I'd be leaving for my trip back east in 4 days so I had that in mind as I folded laundry, setting aside things I'd pack. Having cleaned out the spare room was a help because I'd neatized the house when I was done so it was looking good to be gone. It had also been a fun weekend sharing the once in a lifetime Roadshow experience with Dottie. Next stop - New York City.