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.