Wednesday, February 24, 2021

What's A Crocus?

Today the temperatures may reach 50 degrees in Jamestown, a degree we haven't seen in weeks, perhaps months. I don't recall. 

We haven't had an overabundance of snow here but it was been ground covering with frosty temperatures for long enough that the idea of grass and other things that grow seems mystical. Then my friend tells me she's watering seedlings in her greenhouse today and I know that Spring must be coming. 

Looking forward or trying to plan has become that thing that feels dangerous or radical with how much is uncertain with the Pandemic. Do you dare plan to see family after they're vaccinated, even if it'll be months before you're vaccinated yourself? Do you hope for a warmer Spring so that you can see friends at safe distances outside more easily? Do you hope with warmer weather and related activities trying to start up that maybe you'll be back to work soon?

The latter has been especially hard. 

In the few days before my job ended, I had people saying, "Well, you'll get some nice time off at least," which I didn't disagree with because I really did need a break. Back at the beginning of the year, I thought two weeks of  "vacation" would help me recharge so that I could move forward into the next project or exciting thing. As time passed, I realized I needed a lot more time to process what had happened in December and the past year. People losing their jobs happens all the time but it rarely happens in a public forum, especially where the employee is a spectator to others deciding their fate. I don't wish that experience on any civil servant. I'm extremely grateful for the support system I have that helped me cope then and now. That system is especially helpful when I still regularly hear people say, "You must be enjoying your time off!" as if I'm on some chosen, happy vacation and not having constant anxiety about what's happening next.

When you've been told you will get your job back, but have no information about when that might happen, it's hard to know how to plan. I'm a planner. I also have people telling me I should look for a new job, consider a new career, and to go off and recreate myself! I understand where they're coming from, but it feels like they're missing the point of what I'm going through in saying that. I had a good job. I worked with amazing people. I did good things for my community. It paid decently and had fantastic benefits. I'm more than hesitant to walk away permanently for a job that may not offer all of that. Also, if my position is reinstated, they have to offer it to me first before being able to hire someone else. It's not a good look take a new job, then quit to go back to the old job, leaving the new employer in a lurch. 

So I wait, somewhat uneasily and impatiently, for the word to come that I'm not in a holding pattern any longer. While I don't have the answers now, at least I know one thing that will happen in the coming weeks - the crocuses will bloom.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Bite by Byte

I promised Matt that while I was unemployed that I'd take over dinner preparation since it would give me something to prep and plan for each day. Call it step one in creating a temporary new routine that also is budget friendly on a reduced income.

I became a fan of Budget Bytes some years ago, including buying the app so that I had an easy way to access recipes while in the kitchen.

Here are the meals I've made since the beginning of the year, supplemented by some usual stand-by meals:

Chili Cheese Beef Mac - First meal I made and it was the comfort food we needed

Banana Flax Muffins - I didn't use walnuts because I don't like them. I liked that these weren't overly sweet and the flax gave it a nice nutty taste without having to use actual nuts.

Turkey Chili Smothered Sweet Potatoes - I thought I had ground turkey in the freezer. Turned out it was ground chicken. Worked just fine and Matt, who doesn't like sweet potatoes, said he'd eat this again

Green Chile Breakfast Quesadilla - I made this for lunch one day for a switch from sandwiches and soup. Winner!

Unstuffed Bell Peppers - Another winner with plenty of leftovers. I was worried about the rice not cooking through, but I kept an eye on it and added some additional beef broth when it looked like it was cooking off too quick on low. 

Matt has been a very willing consumer of all of these and joked that maybe I didn't need to go back to work if I was going to keep cooking like this. He also said he was going to gain so much weight. 

You probably noticed the lack of chicken in these recipes. That'll be rectified next week. I had bought club packs of both chicken and ground beef and it just happened that the recipes I wanted to try called for ground beef. I also want to mix in a few more vegetarian/vegan recipes, which the site has plenty of, to be sure we're getting all the veggies we need.


Saturday, January 02, 2021

Binge Living

 I'm super curious about who else didn't binge watch a show last year given that after some thought I realized that I definitely didn't.

While binge watching has been a thing for a while, 2020 magnified that for many who made the effort to stay home. 

I have shows I used to love to watch. Grace & Frankie, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, THE CROWN.

I'm behind 2 seasons on the latter, I think the middle one has ended, and I don't know where things are with Grace & Frankie. My friends who love The Crown are aghast and practically clutching their pearls that I haven't watched season 3 yet.

The recommendations for "You MUST watch this!" or "I can't believe you've never watched Downton Abbey!" fall fairly flat with me as my television viewing seems to be limited to the local news and a couple DIY channel shows. Well, and "What We Do In The Shadows." We all have to have our one thing, right?

The one thing I could be accused of binging is books. If it's not too weighty, I'll read up to 2 books a day if I have the time. That said, I only read 67 books in 2020 because I threw in a few heavier books that demanded I take time, re-read sections, re-read them again, and then try to remember everything without going back to re-read a third time. I'd blame pandemic-brain for why I don't recall a lot of those books, but if  you asked me about some saucy plot point in one of my rom-com stories and I'm pretty sure I could relay a fairly decent facsimile. 

What are you binging, whether it's television, music, literature, or something else entirely different?

Friday, January 01, 2021

Tipped Balances

On the last day of 2020, before the few people planning to be at work arrived on our floor, I put "Tik Tok" by Kesha on my iPod and then danced through every open office, hallway, breakroom, and conference room. Most of those rooms were vacant of even desks or other office detritus as the department that had occupied the space moved two months ago. 

It was a moment that felt slightly subversive and freeing.

I did it to celebrate and to also try to forget that it was my last day of employment for awhile. 

After being just shy of 12 years in my job, I was leaving with my return being left in the hands of a City Council that eliminated my position under the pretense that it was "temporary."

I texted a friend this morning whose 2020 could be best described as soul-trying, 

"Here's to a new year that hopefully is better balanced, or even tipped toward more happier moments if we can have wishes and dreams of that."

Life is a balance. It doesn't always work out the way we had planned because we simply cannot control everything. The best we can do is to live, love, and laugh. I'm absolutely kidding. Somewhat. Whoever thought to market that aspiration deserves their millions.

 A year ago I said to my husband that all we had was our integrity and we should live and work as such. It wasn't an attempt at a new year's resolution, but I feel we've achieved that. 

Toward the end of this year, the premise of dignity and being able to hold my head up high despite adversity is something that mattered. It's something I can do because of respecting how integrity matters. 

 I'm far from perfect and hope to never be because that sounds painfully boring. Here's hoping that while I can't control everything that I at least can continue to act in ways that help tip the balance toward the positive.

Happy New Year


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Series(ously)

I've been accused of not knowing how to relax. Give me a day off and I'm pretty good at filling it up with cleaning, gardening, errands, and other things that are the opposite of relaxing. The only thing that has a proven success rate in getting me to sit still for hours is putting a book in my hands.

I've upped my reading game substantially in recent years, averaging 62 books read a year. I usually set my annual Goodreads goal for 52 books and will likely surpass that goal as I've already read 32 books before June 1st. 

Mysteries are still my favorite genre and I especially delight in series. If I find a series I like, I will page through as fast as the books become available through our library system. The two series that I discovered this year are the historic fiction Maisie Dobbs mysteries by Jacqueline Winspear and the cozy Booktown mysteries by Lorna Barrett. I'm also eagerly anticipating two books from series I've previously devoured coming out later this year: A Better Man by Louise Penny and A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

It's been almost 18 years...

I forget I have a blog until I mention that I used to post alllllllllllllll(breathes)lllll the time. Shut-up, Grammarly, I know that last sentence has an "incorrect" word.

So I've been blogging for nearly 18 years....


On the last episode of "In Java, Literally..," Julia was having a meltdown because of our house situation and Matt's medical situation. A good chunk of last year is hazy to me because I shut-down due to stress. It was a surreal state of being present in order for all the things to get down but also needing to be detached so that I could continue to function. That said...

We finally sold our house. Matt's surgery 3 weeks before our move went fabulously. We moved into our new house three days before Christmas. Everything is fairly grand other than some unknowns in the job department for Matt. There always has to be something, right?

Our new house has an interesting chameleon-like ability to feel like where we're in the forest and in England and in the city and just about anywhere other than "here." I feel like you have to be there to understand. Either way, I'm in love with the place even though we still have so much work to do from painting the interior, getting the yard further squared away, and other stuff. I'm proud of the fact that we're nearly 100% unpacked after 5 months which, when compared to when we lived in our old house, is a near miracle.

Another cool thing about our house is that we're friends with the people who owned it two owners ago. They've shared with us all kinds of photos they took while living there, so it's a little surreal to see how they used various spaces, especially since I'll recognize a piece of furniture and think, "Oh, they have that in ___ room at their current house now." Also, we have various acquaintances who remember the family who lived there for several decades before our friends bought it so I've already been regaled with stories of good times and parties. You couldn't hope for more! Oh, and yes, the house is haunted but we haven't been bothered too much. That's what happens when you buy a 1910 house.


Monday, October 15, 2018

Stress Overload in Buying and Selling

In the almost 2 years since I last posted, a lot has changed. Some has not.

The big change is that we're selling our house. We're also buying a new home. We even have a buyer for our house. It's never simple though.

In order for us to buy our new home, our contract has a contingency that we must sell our house. That contract ends November 1st.

When we accepted our buyer's offer on our house, she didn't know until a full month later that she had to sell her house in order to buy our house. Her retirement community house has been on the market now since August.

Our mortgage commitment expired on Friday. Our interest rate lock expires today. The other deadline is looming. We will need multiple extensions at this point. Financially, we're not in a place where we can make the down payment out of savings, pay for movers because we can't physically do that job ourselves anymore, and still pay for the mortgage and utilities on our current house.

Being in limbo like this sucks. We're still showing our house given that our realtor is hoping we get a better offer since we had no contingency clause with our current buyer. He also doesn't know when she'll be able to sell her place.

Until we got the news about her situation, we had been diligently paring down furniture and stuff. We have quite a few packed boxes lining the walls. I had packed away my winter clothes thinking we wouldn't need them for at least a month or two because we were supposed to be in our new house by early September.

But here we are.

Because we can't do anything by halves, we also threw in Matt getting major surgery at the beginning of December. That can be moved, but only by a few weeks to a month. It's much-needed surgery but it also comes with being down for 6-weeks.

It has been increasingly hard to stay positive and to not let the stress wear me down. It's a major fight to stay on task at home and work. I've always worked hard to make sure I didn't let my personal life affect work life, but the stress has bled over to there. I did get away last week for a couple days for an on-the-road Rolling Hills Radio but even that, as fun as it was, wasn't really relaxing. I'm sure my friends and family are super sick of hearing me complain about the situation. It's also frustrating to have people ask how the new house is and have to update them, because we actually did sell our house less than 3 days after listing it but that buyer walked on us 2 weeks later.

I really need good news soon because this is paralyzing.

What's A Crocus?

Today the temperatures may reach 50 degrees in Jamestown, a degree we haven't seen in weeks, perhaps months. I don't recall.  We hav...