Friday, September 23, 2016

Week 38 - The Spare Room

This week was full of fits and starts – extra things that I’d committed to do, things that got cancelled or didn’t work out, etc. – but I rolled with the punches and got through it all. I also had some good productivity to balance it all out so the week ended up just fine.

It started on Monday. Anne and I had scheduled a lunch with Kate, who we rarely see her since she no longer swims with us. The plan was to take a pizza to Kate’s office and enjoy catching up. Well Kate had had a bad night and called in sick so Anne and I went to Dempsey’s for half price burger day and had a perfectly pleasant time chatting the lunch hour away. Plus truffle fries – yum!

Tuesday was going to be a busy day. I had scheduled my annual physical and mammogram in Wahoo, which started at 9:00. It was a food day so after enjoying some extra time at home, I grabbed my cranberry walnut cole slaw and headed out. I got to work at 11:00 and started eating at 11:30. I ate WAY too much (hard not to on a food day and this one was particularly good) and before I knew it, it was time to head to the Lied Center where I’d volunteered to be a coach for Husker Dialogues, which was a mandatory program for all incoming freshmen to discuss diversity. There was a half hour allotted for check in but with 370 volunteers and only a handful of people checking in, the lines were long in a room packed with people so hotter than blazes. There was no time for orientation so we took out packets and then went to our seats. The students who sat around us were our group so I had 4 students – 2 who engaged (the 2 “of color” – go figure) and a couple who checked out and barely participated. I did have a helper coach so between the 2 of us, we kept the discussion going. It was WAY long because the chancellor only spoke for 10 of his 25 minutes too. But then those of us coaches sitting in the back rows were told that because so many students had come to the first session, we probably wouldn’t have students for the 2nd session, which in fact came true. So when the chancellor started speaking, I got to duck out the back and so left campus at 7:30 instead of 9:00. Nice. I had volunteered during a weak moment one weekend and then bemoaned having to be on campus so late on a work night so it all worked out.

I spent Wednesday dug into a database, working through lunch because it was too hot to sit outside so what was the point. I was spent by the end of the day so was happy to head to the pool for water aerobics, heading home afterwards, showered and ready for a relaxing night. Thursday was more of the same database but that night I got to go straight home for the first time all week. I had a nice dinner, watched some TV and went to bed early. You would think with such a nice night I’d be all set for Friday but I neglected to set my alarm so didn’t wake up until 6:59, which is more than an hour late. Talk about a rude awakening! I bolted out of bed and was in the car just a few minutes later than normal so salvaged my morning. After a nice lunch with Layton (our last for awhile because he’s headed to Europe) and swimming, I hit HyVee and headed home for the weekend, opting for Guinness and chips for supper, figuring that’d be my last relaxing for a couple of days. The plan for the weekend was to get busy on my spare bedroom.

Now the rest of my house is relatively picked up but the spare room is where I chuck things that don’t have a place – off season clothes and linens mostly but also gifts and various other things. Plus it’s my yarn storage room. It had gotten so bad lately that I’d just stand at the door and pitch things onto the bed, which was piled high with all and sundry. So this was the weekend I planned to clear it out and start the organization. Now I had to run some errands Saturday morning but then planned to stay in for the rest of the weekend. Then I got an email from Lori. One of the Monday Night Knitters, Jan, was having a celebration of life for her son who passed away unexpectedly in Oregon a couple of weeks ago so Lori asked if anyone else was going. It was from 1:00-4:00 in Wahoo so emails flew and we made plans to meet at Andrea’s shop just before 1:00. All this meant I had to get way more presentable than I’d gotten to hit the bank. I got dressed and we met then walked over to the venue, only to wonder why there were no cars. When the door was locked we checked Facebook only to see that we’d messed up the date and it was the next week. Since we were all dressed and out, we decided to have lunch at the bar/restaurant across the street – The Wheel House. None of us had been there before and we were pleasantly surprised by the yummy food. We ate outside on their patio and I got home at 3:00. Now to get busy!

Normally if I’d gotten home at 3:00, I’d have called the day done but not this week. I changed into grubby clothes and started pulling stuff out of the spare room, separating it as I went into yarn, clothes, gifts/stuff and bags. Yes, I have that many book bags. That didn’t take too long so I decided to tackle the two smaller piles immediately – book bags and clothes. I culled the book bags then started slogging through the clothes, making piles – off season things to keep, ironing, donations and things to try on. When I was done with that, I called it good. Since I had no intention of doing anything with yarn this weekend, that just left gifts and miscellaneous stuff for Sunday. I nuked some leftovers for dinner and called it a good day.

I slept late on Sunday and then made a big breakfast and watched CBS Sunday Morning before heading to the piles in the front room. At noon when Lorri stopped in after church, I was still in my nightie and surrounded by even more piles. She invited me to her house for dinner, which meant I had even more time to work. Nice. I got dressed when she left just in case. I had gone through most of the gifts/stuff, leaving just the yarn, which I’d tackle next weekend, when Andrea popped by. I decided to make a pot of tea and take a break. It was perfect and since I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, I needed something. When Drae left, I had just enough time to start moving things to where they belonged, which mostly meant down to the basement but I also loaded the backseat with Goodwill donations to drop Monday. I threw in a single load of clothes while I was down there and then jumped into the shower and headed to Lorri’s. She’d made an eggplant/tomato pie (she’d recommended it to me so that’s why she invited me for dinner), jalapeno poppers with “fooled me” no heat peppers from her garden and mixed greens. It was all delish and then we had an apple dessert with vanilla ice cream. Nice ending to the day, n’est-ce pas?

So all in all, it was a good week. I had some lots of fun social things, volunteered on campus and got my spare room started. And as Mary Poppins said, “Well begun is half done.” I agree. While the weather for the coming week was not going to cooperate for the pile of fall clothes I needed to try on, at least it was a smaller pile and I’ll start trying them on when fall weather arrives, which has to be soon, right? And next weekend will be the yarn fun. Because if you have to spend a chunk of time organizing things, it’s more fun if it’s something you love. I’m actually looking forward to it. Yay!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Week 37 - Short Work Week

Monday was Connie’s last day in Nebraska and she had an appointment in Ashland at 3:00 to get a tattoo. Now there’s a fabulous BBQ restaurant in Ashland, which is a miracle for such a small town, but Rachele is a vegetarian who doesn’t eat vegetables and Parker’s doesn’t have mac and cheese. Since it’s literally the only thing I’ve ever seen Rachele eat (the 6 boxes Connie took out of a grocery bag on Rachele’s kitchen table when she needed the bag didn’t surprise me at all!), we couldn’t eat there so Connie suggested Cheesecake Factory in Omaha, which worked for me. I met them there and we had a lovely lunch. Connie and I shared 2 apps so we’d have room for lemoncello torte (no sharing there) and Rachele had deep fried mac & cheese balls and a tomato flatbread that she took most of the tomatoes off of. Whatever. It was a nice lunch and Connie and I lingered over coffee while Rachele ran to the mall to buy sunglasses. From there we went to an antique mall to kill the time until her appointment, which I did not go to so we said our goodbyes in the parking lot. It had been a fun long weekend.

Since it was Labor Day, the library was closed so Heidi hosted knitting at her house, complete with warm chocolate chip cookies. Yum! My intention was to start reading as soon as I got home because I had an overdrive book checked out – Sunlight Pilgrims – that was expiring on Tuesday but I wasn’t sure what time. But I made the mistake of turning on the TV and got sucked into the final episode of Downton Abbey so didn’t get to bed early. That left me reading until late to finish it, which I did, so I lost some sleep. What the hell, I just had to work on Tuesday. I’d survive.

The short work week was pretty brutal though. We had consultants in for some software training, which started at 3:30 on Wednesday. That wasn’t so bad and I had a nice drive to Seward after work to pick up Andrea’s fair entries (I do the pickup every year and then hit their farmers market.) All day Thursday and Friday was another matter. We worked through lunch both days (so neither of my friend lunches – Dodie on Thursday and Layton on Friday – happened) and only took potty breaks. I was toasty fried by the end of the day Friday and all that for something I’ll only be backup on. Whatever. They keep paying me, I’ll keep showing up. I hit the pool on Friday, thrilled to have the work week over and a free weekend ahead of me.

What’s not to love about a free weekend? Nothing! I started with a long chat with Carolyn and then got dressed to run errands - the library, supermarket, Dollar General and then BK for a treat lunch. Once I was home with groceries put away and double cheeseburger consumed, it was time to get busy. My desk was piled so high with paper and crap that Andrea had remarked on it when she stopped by so that was step one. I went through everything on the desk and by the time I was done, the top was mostly clear and my recycling bin was half full. I even took the time to test all the AA batteries that were too low for my old camera but still test good so would work in non-electronic items like clocks and flashlights. I have a ton so if anyone needs AA’s, let me know. That felt good to have done and then I used my newly purchased red sauce to put together the rest of the eggplant I’d fried last weekend, which I then enjoyed for dinner. I finished by cleaning up the entire kitchen so I’d be ready to cook up a storm on Sunday.

After the laundry was done and hanging on the line, I started Sunday with a big clear out of the fridge and prepping fruit, after which I drove a big bag of scraps out to Lori’s chickens. Then I started cooking – blackberry peach pie for knitting, 3 bags of peaches for the freezer (for summer pies in the dead of winter – yum!), a quiche (since I was making pie crust and had half and half) and cupcakes for lunch with Kate on Monday. And then I was an adult and cleaned up the kitchen again, recognizing that with the busy Monday and Tuesday nights that I had coming, I wouldn’t have time to prep for the cleaning lady then. I also picked up the entire house so between the clean desk and house, plus the fridge full of food, I was good to go for the next week. That counts as a great weekend in my world. Oh how priorities change, am I right? All good though. : )

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Week 36 - Hanging with Connie

Connie was coming for the weekend so the end of the week was super fun but not much went on early in the week. The highligh was Wednesday when the cleaning lady came and Erica's kids mowed and weed whacked so I got home to everything in apple pie order. Yup, I'm getting old because that was a highlight. Moving on....

Connie was staying with her daughter Rachele in Lincoln so I missed the hanging out that comes when she stays at my house. Rachele was working Friday and Saturday so I had to maximize my just Connie time. On Friday, Connie had lunch with another friend on campus so I cobbled together lunch at my desk (there had been a chance Connie and I would do lunch so I hadn't brought one) and then Connie and I went out for coffee at 1:00. The weather was gorgeous and it was great to be catching up in the sun while drinking Starbuck's. Does life get better? I guess I could have been knitting too. Anyway, I went back to work with plans for Connie to meet me at 5:00 so we could go to water aerobics together. 

Being in the pool with Connie was a blast from the past. She and I started going to water aerobics in spring of 2006, just before she left the university. I kept going, clearly, but she was still there at the start. We had a lot of fun swimming again and she invited me to join her and Rachele for dinner but I declined because as I suspected, Rachele wanted Indian food at The Oven. Now I'm not a huge Indian food fan but am willing to spend $15 on it for the company. But The Oven is more like a $30 meal so I opted out. I'd be spending all day Saturday with Connie so would see her then.

When Connie still lived in Lincoln, we had a Saturday ritual in the summer that I miss SO much. We would start at the farmers market at 8:00 then hit our favorite cafe for breakfast followed by shopping and sometimes a movie. Well, that was our plan for Saturday and I was very excited. Since I was picking Connie up at 8:00, I happily set my alarm (sacrilege!) and was on the road by 7:15. Despite the fact that the market was a shadow of its former self, we still had fun and breakfast at Cook's was delish. We shopped a little bit (neither of us needed anything so it was focused on organic groceries - go figure) and then headed south for Hell or High Water. While it wasn't #1 on my list of movies to see (and lord knows I rarely go anymore), it was entertaining and by the time it was done, it was time to head to Wahoo for dinner. I dropped Connie at Rachele's and made a bee line home.

Connie had brought a Hutterite chicken from home so that was the main course. Having never roasted a chicken, I goodled a recipe and had it in the oven before Connie arrived. She'd also brought green beans from her friend's garden so I steamed those, cut up the loaf of blue cheese bread we'd bought that morning and then whipped up a hubbard squash casserole with squash from the freezer. It was all delicious and we enjoyed it with wine, chatting for hours. After a quick run for soft serve for dessert, we visited some more before Connie headed back to Rachele's. Rachele was off on Sunday so Connie would be playing with her.

I got busy first thing in the morning in hopes that there might be a dinner option with Connie and/or Rachele. I had the laundry on the line and salted eggplant on every surface in the kitchen when Lorri stopped by after church. After a quick lunch, I got busy frying all the eggplant for my first every eggplant parmesan. I had just put one together when Connie called. Rachele was feeling crappy (allergies) so they'd just been hanging inside all day and Connie was going nuts. I invited them both for dinner but Rachele opted out so Connie came up and we supped on yummy eggplant parm and more blue cheese bread, followed by more chatting. I miss my face time with Connie! But what a nice weekend it had been so far and I'd managed to get my chores done too. And I still had Monday to spend even more time. Old friends, yummy food and a long weekend. Life is good!