Saturday, January 14, 2017

Because sometimes...

Too tired to "arrange" them last night; they
still look wonderful just plopped in a vase.
...a girl just has to have roses.

White supermarket roses - I never pay more than a dollar a stem, oftentimes less. They smell wonderful, though given the size of my living room and the incredibly high ceilings, you have to get up close and personal with the flowers before you are aware of the scent.

These are from my local high end grocer; on the rare occasion I'm at Aldi when they have roses in stock, I find those are even nicer.

No matter if they last a few days or a week, it's great to have a floral pick-me-up when the skies are grey and the winter winds blow.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday the 13th AND a full moon

Even with those two things coming together, today is a good day - the beginning of a three day weekend. Just in time; this first week back at work has been a bit crazy, not to mention tiring. So, a "quick takes" kind of list:

  • I managed to bang my shin on the bedframe yesterday morning, hard enough to draw blood to the point of needing a big bandage. My own fault (I am (sometimes) an idiot), as when I last rotated the box spring, I simply rotated the entire bed end-to-end. The brackets for the (nonexistent- haven't found one I like) headboard don't normally stick out, but the spring and mattress slid back a bit, exposing enough of the bracket for my shin to find. As of this morning, the gaping hole in my shin is well on the mend.
  • Reason #165915 why I'm grateful I love to read: when Hollywood shuts down movie production in a fit of childish pique over the results of the presidential election, I'll still be able to amuse myself. Honestly, they haven't thought this through. If Trump resigns, Pence becomes President. Pence - the evangelical Christian who lives out his beliefs and is therefore anathema to everything Hollywood believes in. Reason #6498131687 why actors are paid to act, not think.
  • My Christmas tree is not only still up, I am still letting the timer turn the lights on twice a day. What can I say - I'm a sucker for twinkle lights. It will come down this weekend, but I may try to figure our how to continue having my lights. Maybe a string along the bookshelf in the sewing studio? The lights make me happy, and you can't have too much of that.
  • The site I bought my fountain pen from sent me a coupon for my birthday. Now that I've figured out how to refill the pen with ink from a bottle rather than using cartridges, I've started looking at the various inks they carry. All of the colors are gorgeous, but there are some inks that include some sort of sheen, from tiny gold or silver flakes to something that gives them an iridescent shimmer of another color. Before I narrow the selection down, though, I need to learn how to thoroughly flush out the old ink from the pen. I've watched the video, but my own actual experience rarely goes as smoothly as the videos.
  • Using a fountain pen is another thing that makes me happy. I've a Pilot Metropolitan that is a great pen for the price. It takes ink cartridges, though it can be converted to bottled ink as well. The cartridge ink is fairly "dry" (dries quickly on most paper) but flows smoothly. My other pen is an older model of the Invincia here (made entirely of the blue color aluminum used on this one only on the cap, not to mention on closeout at half this price with a full size bottle of ink thrown in - I may like fountain pens, but I'm not crazy)(if you like crazy, search the site for the gorgeous Japanese, handmade pens...I think the downpayment on my condo was less). A fountain pen takes much less pressure to write with than a normal ballpoint, a plus for my aging hands.
  • The local crime report this week said a rabbit had gotten itself stuck in the engine of one of the squad cars (presumably because it was a warm spot during our 2 degree days). It was successfully extricated and sent on its merry way. Nice to know "protect and serve" extends to all species.
  • No major plans for the weekend. Cleaning, cooking for the freezer, quilting, napping, taking down the tree. Puttering, which sounds like heaven.

Not-so-quick-takes, I guess, in spite of not much going on in my world.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Clean all the things

New year, new program to declutter.

I've been off since the 23rd, with an ambitious plan to declutter.

Um, yeah.

But today I managed to take care of something that's been sitting on my to-do list (not to mention next to my desk) for about two years: emptying the Laundry Basket o'Papers (TM).

The LBoP is a green laundry basket with a few ribs broken and a tear in the handle. Used primarily as a receptacle for things I need to take up/downstairs, it was headed for the trash pile when it took on a new purpose: holder of things I did not have a immediate "home" for.

Not the actual LBoP, but you get
the idea.
These items ranged from the extra pieces and boxes from a new cell phone, to lab reports and water/sewer bills. At the old place, I used a four drawer file cabinet for the "keep me" paperwork (two drawers only - the other two held office supplies and a few other things). The cabinet came with me to the new place, but I wanted to empty it and simplify my life a bit. I added a two drawer cabinet to the mix - with a single file drawer. The theory is that if I keep on top of culling the paperwork, one drawer should be sufficient.

Theory. Doesn't always mix with real life.

Complicating things, the loft, where my office space lives, does not receive any direct sunlight except between sunrise and about 9:30 a.m. This condo was built without any overhead lighting except in the kitchen and dining rooms (and baths, naturally). The desk lamp and the floor lamp provide some light, but with a 16 foot back wall, the light dissipates and leaves a lot of gloom. Not ideal for sorting paper.

Now that I'm done attempting to justify my slovenly filing habits, I can tell you I finally emptied that basket today. What is left is half a dozen quilting magazines to go downstairs, a small stack of books and journals to be shelved, a three inch thick accordian file of papers to keep and a very lonely, beautifully empty laundry basket.

Time to break for a late lunch. I ate a large breakfast very early this morning at my favorite local dine-in restaurant; it's taken almost seven hours to feel hungry again. After lunch, who knows? Maybe I'll declutter the remaining file drawer.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Unexpected blessing

Our area Vice President is retiring at the end of May, and has been full of pre-retirement happiness that spills over onto the staff every so often.

My boss (who reports to the VP) showed up at my door a few minutes ago, and said if I wanted to "work from home" tomorrow, I could, as the entire office was being given permission to "work from home".

Don't have to hit me over the head with a brick.

But since the university is closed next week, and I am off the week after that, I need to make sure everything that needs doing before vacation starts gets done today.

Fortunately, most of it is almost done. Just cleaning off/organizing the desk. Hour and a half to vacation!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Darkest day

The winter solstice came and went at 4:44 a.m. my time, leaving us to endure the shortest day of the year.

Perhaps because of our weather patterns, the solstice doesn't always feel like the shortest day in our rather long winter. The sun will shine today, which makes everything look and feel better, even if for a shorter day. It's the gloomy, snow-laden cloudy days that make you wonder if the sun is truly behind the clouds, or if it's scarpered off to Brazil permanently.

I don't notice much of a difference, as my days tend to be dark at both ends of the workday from Thanksgiving until almost Groundhog's Day. It's strange - driving in the dark in the wintertime feels different than driving in the dark in the summer. Rationally, I know it isn't really any darker in winter, it just feels like it.

I'm all about the "feels" today.

No plans to sacrifice the cows tonight, though I may eat a slab of one, alongside a glass of fermented grape juice. Those would be the modern interpretations of common northern hemisphere solstice traditions.

Friday, December 16, 2016


When I exit the freeway on the way to work, I'm directly across the street from our office building. One coworker always gets to work insanely early, turning on the office lights, which shine nicely through the off ramp facing windows.

When she is there, I need only fish out the keys to my office door once I'm standing in front of it. When she is not, however, I need to open three different types of door locks on my way to my office, all while carrying a heavy bag of stuff and a full cup of hot coffee.

The signal that I should find all the various lock-opening implements is the lack of light in the office windows as I exit the freeway. It's a much more reliable reminder than my memory, which can't seem to hold the information that my coworker is off at least three of four Fridays per month.

Well, it's a good signal all of the year, except December. After the third time I thought she was on vacation, only to find that she was indeed already in the office, with only her individual office lights on, I asked why she wasn't turning on the rest of the overheads.

"I like it with just the tree lights on in the office."

Duh. I'd seen, but not really noticed, that while the overheads were not on, she had plugged in the office Christmas tree.

Now it makes complete sense. I, too, love being in a room lit solely by the light of the Christmas tree. The only redeeming feature of the short, short days of December is the extended time to sit near the sparkling tree in the mornings.

It must bring back unconscious childhood feelings, that anticipation of Christmas morning. My parents would leave the tree plugged in overnight Christmas Eve, so the lights were on when we got up Christmas Day (before the parents, of course). We'd sit in the light of the tree, waiting impatiently for the rest of the house to get up, chug some coffee and give us the go-ahead to start the package demolition process.

A table lamp was on when this picture was taken, so it's not quite the same. Still, it was a nice morning to sit in front of the tree and the fire, with a quilt and a cup of coffee.

I plan to do quite a bit of that over the Christmas break.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Stupid cold

It's always fun to pull out of the underground parking early in the morning, and watch the temperature readout on the dash drop...25...18...15...14...

It stuck at fourteen this morning. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your particular frame of mind), cars are not yet equipped with anemometers, so you can't tell wind speed, nor calculate wind chill.

That last statistic is well into the negative digits, forecast to stay that way until Friday. Friday into Saturday it will warm up just enough so we can get hit with a high snow total winter storm. After that, the temperatures dip back into stupid cold.

It is only on the few days like this we get each winter that I wonder why I live in Wisconsin. They also remind me to be very, very grateful for a working car, underground parking and a job that pays well enough that I can set the thermostat at home as high as I need.

Easter Seals is picking up donations in my area today. I had a couple of boxes and a lamp for them, but didn't put the lamp out. This kind of cold is not kind to glass; I'd hate to have the glass shatter and injure the pick up guys. The other glass objects are inside a box, swathed in leftover bubble wrap.

It may be too cold to do anything that involves being outside, but stupid cold does lend itself to some fun indoor activities:

- Drink lots of hot chocolate.
- See how many mini marshmallows you can cram into one cup of hot chocolate.
- Make a warm little nest in the middle of your bed, under a stack of blankets, with pillows piled all around you to keep out the drafts.
- Light a fire and doze in front of it (under a stack of quilts, naturally).
- Declare a "slanket" the ultimate fashion statement, and wear one continuously.
- Turn the oven on and bake cookies. Lots of cookies. The longer the oven is on, the better.
- Make lots of casseroles and stews, but use the oven, not the crock pot (see previous point)
- Drink mulled wine.
- Try on every sweater you own. All at once.
- Chase the family dog out of his spot on the chair so you have a pre-warmed spot to sit down in.
- Ask someone to flush the toilet while you are in the shower, so you have enough hot water to finally feel warm.

Winter in Wisconsin; you have to experience it to believe it.