Sunday, July 30, 2017

Week 29 - County Fair Week

As it is every year, the end of July brings both the county fair and fiscal year end. A double whammy. But this year is a weird fiscal year end because Mary is travelling so it's compressed into just a few days next week. That left more time for the fair.

I had done most of my fair prep over the weekend but spent Monday night writing out the tickets at knitting so I could give them to Drae to drop off for me. Because Tuesday night was 4H vegetable check in, which went much faster than last year because it was busy. 2.5 hours flew by and I headed home, tired but done with pre-fair stuff. On Wednesday night, I swam then hurried to the fair to check out my ribbons. I'd entered 12 knitted items and 1 in the recycled division. I got blues on everything and my best pair of socks won best in lot. Purple ribbon baby! While I don't consider myself a competitive person, I like winning with my socks.

Thursday night was a first for me - Darla and I were going to the fair parade. I've been in Wahoo 20 years and have never been. I left work a bit early and met Darla at a prime corner downtown. Well, knock me over with a feather - the parade was an hour and half long! Now a parade in Wahoo is mostly made up of people throwing candy from vehicles. Candy and more candy. In all that time there were only 3 bands and as many floats, if you'd call them that. There was a single contingent of horses at the tail end. Not what I'd call a parade. Luckily the weather was gorgeous and we'd brought chairs so it wasn't too bad. But truth be told, I could never go again and be perfectly happy. Darla, on the other hand, wants to go again next year. We'll see. From there we went to the fair to check out the exhibits, the animals and grab some dinner - pulled pork sandwiches and pie. Other than picking up my entries on Sunday night, I was done with the fair because the library wasn't doing its booth so I didn't have to man it Saturday night. I was ready for a break.

The gorgeous weather held and I had a lovely, relaxing weekend. I spent lots of time in the house neatizing, cooking and knitting. I did get outside to weed the veg beds and put cages on my tomatoes but not much else. It was the recharge I needed to be ready for 3 jam packed days next week of year end meetings. Wish me luck.

P.S. You have got to try this salad. It's the one Dort made when Lorri and I were in Portland. I made it Saturday night for my Saturday snack supper and it was delish.

Lemon Blueberry Chicken Salad

2 c blueberries
2 c cooked chicken
1/2 c sliced green onions
3/4 c sliced celery
1/2 c cubed red pepper (I skipped this and added extra celery)
Mix with 3/4 c lemon yogurt, 3 T mayo and 1 t salt. Chill.

P.P.S. I'm 10 pounds down so the rotation is well in hand. Yay!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Week 28 - Fun in Portland

It was going to be an eventful week with the International Master Gardener Conference in Portland but before flying out late Tuesday, I had to get through 2 days of work. And get through them I did.

I started the week with a 7:40 a.m. appointment with my surgeon and as I suspected he would, he called me done. I need to keep doing exercises to get my strength completely back but it’s all good. After a quick stop for gas and to air up all my tires, including the spare that I could get to because my back was empty after all the tree hauling, I got to work for a short 2 days. I was busy cramming in allocations and everything else that couldn’t wait but busy was good. I ran home Monday, prepped strawberries to take to knitting and headed to the library. When I got home, minus the rest of the berries and a pineapple Andrea took, I set up an extra litter box, finished packing and did the final neatizing of the house, getting to bed late but with just about everything done.

Tuesday was over in a flash and I was home for just long enough to pack the last few things, do the dishes from the blueberry banana bread I’d make to take for breakfasts (neither the hotel nor conference included breakfast and continental at the hotel was $18 – no thank you!), water the plants and fail at getting Pie to come in. I’d warned Andrea that Pie might be outside, where she’d be happier anyway, so I gave her both wet and dry cat food and was ready for pick up at 6:30. Our flight wasn’t leaving Omaha until 9:00 p.m. and it was a good thing we left plenty of time because Bob took the most out of the way route to the airport so what I’d drive in 45 minutes took more than an hour. Sheesh! I had scored TSA pre-check, like I do 80% of the time, so sailed through security and our flights were uneventful. Since we got in at 1:00 a.m. after any mass transit was shut down for the night, we took a cab to the hotel. We got rooked on the price but were checked in and in bed quickly. The conference started the next day.

We both woke up early (we were 2 hours behind Nebraska time after all) so had coffee and banana bread in the room and headed to the conference for the opening keynote. It was fun to be in the midst of so many avid gardeners. The keynote was on suburban birds and we met some lovely women that we had lunch with then it was on to our sessions. I went to one on pruning to renovate an old garden and then one on creating and managing plant communities, which was VERY inspirational and gave me a lot to think about. Dinners were not included but we’d asked some locals where to eat so after a quick stop at the hotel, which was made easier by the free transit pass they’d given us with the conference, we headed to the Pearl District for dinner at The Deschutes Brewery. We had to wait half an hour to get seated but it was worth it. I had the most delicious chicken and waffles (something I’ve always wanted to try) and a yummy dark beer. Then it was back to the hotel to coordinate Thursday’s dinner with a friend of Lorri. Unfortunately she wouldn’t drive into Portland so we were taking the train out to the burbs to meet at a mall restaurant. Whatever..

Our new friends Cynthia and Barb had recommended a restaurant for breakfast – Pine State Biscuits – so we looked up how to get there (the transit website told us to walk – only in Portland!) and went first thing. I got The McIsley – a yummy biscuit topped with fried chicken (I know – odd breakfast), pickles, mustard and honey. Yum! Lorri’s biscuits with mushroom gravy was delish too. Then it was off to the conference. The keynote was by Dan Hinkley, who apparently is famous but I’d never heard of him. He was a dynamic speaker so I immediately decided to ditch the clematis session I’d signed up for and go to another of his. I was sitting knitting when the woman sitting next to me asked if she could write something down. I assumed she was taking notes for herself but she handed the notebook back and it was full of info for me about a group she’s involved with in Oregon. I talked to her at length later and she was wonderful. Somehow at first glance she just got that we were two peas in a pod. I got her contact info and will definitely be keeping in touch. The session was great too, btw. After another lunch with Cynthia and Barb (they’re keepers too), I went to a 2nd session on plant communities and then one on photographing your garden, which was inspiring and had me retaking pics of things I’d already taken. Check out these before and after pics.


We headed out to meet Lorri’s friend and it was rush hour so the train was packed. I had an interesting conversation about gardening with a homeless looking man in a wheelchair then chatted with a woman who works for the utility company that has all the dams on the Columbia River. Dinner with Lorri’s friend was fine, despite the chain restaurant. We had to wait on the train for a bit to get back to the hotel but I had my knitting so it was all good.

For Friday’s breakfast, we were walking to Voodoo Doughnuts Too, which wasn’t too far. I had a Old Dirty Bastard – a raised donut with chocolate frosting, crushed oreos and peanut butter. Delish! It was fun walking through the less touristy parts of Portland too and I took lots of picture of the gorgeous plantings that were everywhere. All we had Friday was a keynote and closing meeting from 9:00-11:00. It was a great conference and after saying goodbye to Cynthia and Barb, we headed back to the hotel to check out.

I was super excited because we were going to a local yarn shop to meet Michelle from the Knotty Knit Wits podcast I’ve been watching on YouTube. Since I couldn’t go to their event on Saturday, she had offered to get out of work early and meet me at Twisted. We grabbed a cab there from the hotel and Lorri and I shopped while we waited for her. It was so amazing to meet her and I went total fan girl! She was lovely and even brought me a bag of presents. We went next door and had lunch at a coffee shop with her then went back to Twisted to wait for Lorri’s sister, who was picking us up.

Lorri’s sister, Dort (short for Dorothy), lives in Sandy, which is an hour east of Portland. She and Judd live in a modest house on the most gorgeous property with woods, blueberry bushes, a big vegetable garden and a view of Mount Hood from the deck. It was a little piece of heaven. They had a big family cookout that night so I got to meet their kids, grandkids and a cousin. We ate yummy food, chatted and enjoyed the glorious weather – just warm enough, zero humidity and no bugs. I totally get why people want to live there.

After yummy breakfast on Saturday, Lorri, Dort and I headed to The Oregon Garden. We started with the tram ride around the park to get oriented, walked around for a couple hours and had lunch in the cafĂ© before heading home. Lorri laid down for a nap and I picked blueberries with Judd for an hour. We had cookout leftovers for dinner and talked until bedtime. What a perfect day! And the icing on the cake was that as soon as the sun goes down, it cools off to the 50’s at night so we could sleep with the windows open. Nice.




We were leaving before noon on Sunday so didn’t have much time. After another nice breakfast, we packed and then Dort did a show and tell of all the old family linens, which was fun. The lines at the airport were huge but I’d scored TSA pre-check again so breezed through and then called Carolyn to catch up while I waited for Lorri. Despite having C boarding passes on the first flight, we managed to get a row to ourselves with an empty middle seat. We were 2nd row from the back but with a 3 hour layover, we were in no rush to get off the plane. We had Chinese food in Denver and otherwise the trip home was uneventful. I walked into my door just after midnight, emptied my suitcase into the washing machine (I’d dry the load in the morning so I’d have A list undies to wear all week) and went to bed. I could get 5 hours of sleep before the alarm went off so would live to tell.

What a wonderful and full week – full of fun – so worth the long hours. I need to go back to Portland sooner rather than later, this time with a car and free time. I have no trip planned for September so maybe…..

Monday, July 10, 2017

Week 27 - Much Better Mood

I started Monday in the basement going through papers, determined to get through more stuff before Lorri picked me up at 2:30 for a quick Omaha run. The first thing I found was a bag from my dad's apartment. It was a treasure trove of all things Norm - maps, a piggy bank, a padlock with key, crossword puzzles from the newspaper with the answers clipped to the back, an old Bill Clinton Christmas card I'd sent him (he HATED Clinton but saved the card) and his handwritten tea inventory. It was a trip down memory lane and I was smiling thinking of my dad. Check this out! Anyone who knew my father will know this is all him.

I ate lunch, showered, got dressed in socially acceptable clothing and was waiting for Lorri at 2:30. She wanted Bruegger's Bagels and I was going along for the ride so we could catch up and talk about our upcoming trip to Portland for the International Master Gardener Conference. After a stop at Startuck's, we headed back to Wahoo. I had just enough time to bake a pan of blondies for knitting and grab a quick dinner before heading to the library. All in all, it was a good day - productive and social with knitting as the icing on the cake.

I had to be up early on Tuesday because Darla and I were having breakfast at 8:00 in Lincoln. We had a lovely time chatting over pancakes and then puttered around a bit before heading our separate ways. On the way back, I stopped to check out what I suspected was a blackberry patch on the side of the highway. I'd scoped it out when they were blooming this spring so parked and checked it out. Indeed it was a huge patch of gorgeous berries that were not quite ripe but would be easy picking in a week or so. Yay! Ditch food is one of my very favorite things - making something from nothing and all that.

I went back down in the basement as soon as I got home. I finished up sorting papers and went up for a cup of tea mid-afternoon. I was contemplating being done but went downstairs to mend something and the sun was gloriously steaming into the craft room. I sat down to sort craft supplies and before I knew it, it was almost 7:00. I was pretty hungry by this point so made dinner and sat down for some TV and knitting. I did go out at 10:00, intending to walk down to the park to watch the fireworks but my neighbor across the street offered me a chair. The view from her driveway was perfect and it was a nice way to end my four days off. 

What's not to like about a 3 day work week? I got some good news from Mary that went a long way towards fixing the problem from the previous week plus I had a fun new project to work on. I had lunch with Tammie on Wednesday at Village Inn so got a free piece of pie with lunch. Dodie was out all week so I did Thrifty Thursday with Cindy and then had lunch with Layton as usual on Friday. I swam after work Wednesday and Thursday. And this is what an old lady I've become - I was super happy that I could go to HyVee after work on Friday, which I hadn't been able to do in the past 3 months because I had PT every Friday. Grocery shopping as an event - go figure.

I had been awake from 1:00 to 4:00 on Friday morning worried about a library book that Dodie had gotten out for me that I couldn't find anywhere. I'd looked high and low and even had the cleaning lady look but no luck. In the wee hours, I decided it must have gotten thrown into the recycling bin so I went through the bin when I got home Friday and found it! I was SO relieved. Add that to the list of good things for the week.

Having gotten very little sleep early in the week from all the fireworks and then over the library book, I went to bed Friday night and slept for almost 12 hours! I did get up at 6:30 to let Gansey in (the weather had turned gorgeous so I had the windows open and could hear her meowing) but went right back to bed and didn't wake up until 9:49. I cannot remember the last time I slept so long and late. It killed my morning but was totally worth it. I wasn't up 10 minutes when the phone rang with my hairdresser moving my appointment up to 11:00. I barely had time to drink a cup of coffee and hit the bank before my haircut but it all worked and kept me from lazing away what little morning I had.

Since I was leaving for Portland on Tuesday, I was worried that I'd miss the ripe blackberries so decided to get up early on Sunday and pick what berries I could. I would be in prime tick country so I put on long pants, a long sleeved shirt and tall socks with sneaker and was in the berry patch at 6:45 Sunday morning. The picking was easy despite only a few berries being ripe. I picked 5 coffee cans full in 30 minutes and was home, showered and eating breakfast before 8:00. Nice! And I got enough berries to freeze 8 1 cup bags and enough pureed for a batch of jam.

The rest of the day was lovely, with a nice combo of relaxing and getting stuff done. Since I'd be flying west Tuesday evening, all the produce needed to go so I took 2 bags full to Lori's for her chickens. I started a pile of the clothes I'd pack too. I even made some tentative arrangements to meet up with one of the Knotty Knit Wits (the podcast from 2 knitters who live in Portland) after the conference. All in all, it was a great week and I'd be going into a 2 day work week. I could get used to this! Alas, fiscal year end is coming along with the busiest 2 weeks of my work year.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Week 26 - A Bad Week

I did not have a good week. At work. I won't go into details but I was a very unhappy camper - so unhappy that I stopped hemming and hawing about taking Monday the 3rd off and put in my leave request, which happily was approved immediately. 'Nough said.

There were a few bright spots in the week. I went to the movies with Cindy and Lana from work on Tuesday and I finished PT. My last session was on Friday, June 30th. How perfect is that? I was seriously looking forward to being done with that. I left my last session with a list of exercises to do at home but that's better than losing 2 nights a week.

On a sad note, which helped put things in perspective, my boss Mary's brother died. The funeral was Friday morning in Omaha but I opted to go to the visitation Thursday after work instead since it was so close to home. I worked until 5:00 then drove to Omaha. It was the nicest visitation (calling hours for my eastern friends) because I walked in, saw Mary's husband and daughter and they told me Mary was outside with her granddaughter so they took me out there and that's where I stayed. I was out there for half an hour, with more and more of Mary's family drifting out as we chatted. It was lovely. Really. We were getting food together for Mary so I went home to make 2 pies (blueberry and strawberry/rhubarb) and my cranberry walnut cole slaw. It was a long day but the next day was Friday. Yay!

Between people being out for the funeral and others taking a long weekend, it was very quiet on Friday and I was happy to leave at 4:00 for my last PT. I was ready for my 4 day weekend and was determined to get busy.

After taking off the two sides of the yew the previous weekend, I had decided it would look too crappy for too long so it needed to go. So after starting the day with a Friends of the Library meeting and subsequent bank run, I went home for more bush whacking and trips to the dump. After cutting the 2 outside bushes out, I decided to leave the middle one for now. It conveniently blocks my bedroom window so I'll leave it up for the summer and see if maybe it will grow some new greenery from the inside now that it's exposed to the sun. Time will tell on that. 

I treated Sunday like any other and got all my chores done then went downstairs and started slogging through stuff. By the end of the day, I had the ebay room organized, wet cardboard schlepped to the recycling bin and started sorting through papers. I went to bed feeling good about my progress and happy that I had two more days at home. It was well worth the vacation day. No question about that. And despite getting no resolution on my work issue, the time off was a balm to my soul and I was feeling better on that front too. I could only imagine how much happier I'd be with another two days off. I live in hope.

Week 25 - Trimming the Yew

I had had the wisdom to take Monday off to recuperate from my weekend but since I'd gotten home earlier than expected on Sunday, the world was my oyster on Monday. 

After getting laundry going, I decided to head to Omaha to use Heidi's gift card at the Woolly Mammoth yarn shop that was closing. It was announced after she left on vacation so she had her nephew leave the gift card outside in hopes that someone could pick it up and use it since it would be closed before she got back. No one else had volunteered so I was up. I was determined to make it a quick trip and succeeded, going in and out of Trader Joe's in 10 minutes then picking up a few balls of yarn for Heidi (the store was empty so it was slim pickings) then popped into Aldi for milk. I had hoped to find a park to eat in but failed on that so went through Starbuck's for a frapuccino and called it lunch. To make up for no lunch, I made a nice dinner before Monday Night Knitting.

The rest of the week was same old same old so nothing to report there. It was blazing hot all week but the weather changed on Friday and the weekend weather was perfection. Amanda had mentioned that she might be in Wahoo on the weekend and wanted to come over. Of course I completely spaced until the phone rang. She'd be there in an hour so I threw some bread pudding in the oven and ran out to sweep the deck, wash the table and change the cushions on the chairs. Amanda and Cody stopped over with their baby, Calder. We had a lovely afternoon sitting in the shade drinking tea and eating pudding while the baby played in the grass.

When they left, I had a burst of energy and decided to start the overhaul of the enormous yew that has taken over the front of my house. My plan was to make drastic cuts to the 2 ends so that new growth would come in over the summer. Then I'd do another side next year and the last side the year after. So I got out my loppers and got busy. It was easier than I thought and after I'd but the side by the front steps, I loaded it all in the back of my car and headed to the city's burn pile. I had trouble finding it (it had been years since I'd been) but I got directions from a neighbor and headed back. I was exhausted by the time I was done so took a shower and relaxed for the evening, happy with my progress. I didn't feel like I'd done any shoulder damage. Time would tell.


My shoulder was fine the next morning and since it was warmer, I got outside early to do the other side. That ended up being much bigger so took 2 trips to the dump. The rest of the day was chores like most Sundays. But I was feeling great about my progress with the yew and even got some weeding done in the veg beds. All good.