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.