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!