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Home on the Range

October 29th, 2021 at 03:25 am

About six weeks ago, our 15-year-old range gave up the ghost.  I ordered one from Best Buy which was supposed to arrive last week--but didn't.  Now they are having issues tracking it down.  Since September we've been making do with the gas burners which still work and a toaster oven.  Today I went back to Best Buy, cancelled the original order, and ordered a different one for delivery on Saturday.    They seem very short staffed.  Another gentlemen was also in the appliance section and said he'd been waiting 20 minutes for someone to help him.  I finally rounded up a couple of staff, but I'm fondly remembering the days when staff would follow you around and try to help.     Cross your fingers that this one actually comes.

I withdrew a bit more money from DD's 529 to help with the tuition bills, bought some Halloween candy which I'm trying hard to resist, and picked up the last load of seasonal veggies from the CSA.  Excited to try a new recipe for a trio of vegetable salads like the ones I remember from Germany--a carrot, a beet, and a celeriac one.  I may even make the cucumber one too. 

School is busy, but it's midterm. 

 

 

So Many Things to Think About

October 20th, 2021 at 09:00 pm

Nothing like the middle of the semester to get me mired in thought.  I'm thinking about good students, bad students, disappearing students, and fraught committee work.    I'm also thinking about retirement.  I posted a question on the forums after learning some of my friends are either already taking Social Security or planning on taking it early.  Has the advice changed on that? 

Other things on my mind are the tuition bill juggling for DD's fabulous Scotland education.  She's having a grand time after a few blips.  But DH and I need to make some decisions about whether and when we might move to the UK. 

And then I think about mundane things like food budgets and decluttering and whether we should redo a bathroom here.  I should think about cleaning the house, but just thinking about that was made me decide to go for a walk in the wondrous autumn weather while it lasts. 

No=Spend Stretch

January 7th, 2021 at 09:34 pm

Let's see--the last time I spent any money was ....Monday!  I stopped at Aldi to pick up a few things.  I'm not the world's biggest Aldi fan, but I can get in and out in a jiff and only needed basics.  And they certainly are cheaper on most basics.  Our standard grocers charge from $2-2.59 for a container of half and half.  Aldi is $1.59.  I haven't encountered a problem with their quality yet.

We got the bill from the plumber which was quite a bit less than we anticipated since my DH got impatient and removed the old toilet himself.  That saved us about $50-$75. 

My other freebie news for the week was my free evergreen garland.  We have a large brick planter box under our picture window and have strung Christmas lights there for years.  I've often thought about evergreen garland, but frankly am too cheap for it.  Here in snowy Cheeseland I have no compunction about leaving pine decor up until mid-February, and while DD and I were out for our daily walk, we spotted a very long garland dumped curbside with a Christmas tree at one of the fanicer houses on the lake.  Two minutes after our walk, we drove over, scooped it up, and it looks fabulous hanging on the planter.  I love a freebie.  It's good and calming to be personally non-eventful when so much is happening in the outside world. 

And we've reached a new milestone on my 100k goal.  We're 7 percent of the way there. 

I'm reading an interesting book called "The Last One Million" about Displaced Persons after WW2.  If that doesn't make you feel gratitude for your life now, nothing will. 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Grading

December 19th, 2020 at 06:47 am

Oh yes, I am still grading.  It's going faster today, but I had meetings with a couple of people who report to me--one of whom won a big grant.  That's really good news for him.  He's an innovative and caring instructor but with no real job security, so this will help with summer funding and some more stability for him.    His office is next to mine, and I used to see him a lot--and so it was extra fun to Zoom with him and meet his small daughter.  I miss my staff!

In the never ending attempts to clear things out of here, I sold an unused soup pot today.  It was a pretty pot, but I have two favorites already.  A hefty $5 goes into my fun fund when fun restarts.  I also cashed out $25 on Swagbucks which probably indicates I'm spending too much time on the computer.

My DD finished her first set of exams for University of Edinburgh today.  She feels good about them, but we're both pretty darn tired of online education.  All of that, a pot of minestrone and calzones for dinner just about rounds out the day.  Look for that same headline tomorrow.

 

 

Thanksgiving Etc.

November 28th, 2020 at 03:05 am

A Thanksgiving like no other, wasn't it?  My family opted for traditional food; my husband is such a staunch traditionalist in so many things.  So we've got turkey--and more turkey.  We finished up the roasted veggies, mashed potatoes and gravy--and perhaps because we all had pie for breakfast, the pie is gone.  Did a late afternoon Zoom with my Minnesota family, including a nephew in California.  It was lovely to see them, but I will admit that the USPS commerical with "I'll Be Home for Christmas" elicited some tears. 

My DD tells me her favorite singer, Phoebe Bridgers has done a remake of "If We Make it Through December" which I think I need to hear.  Lots of school work and lots of planning to come.

We did get a few things tackled around the house.  We had shutters on the dining room windows since we moved in, and they've always made the room dark.  My DH has hated them forever, so we unfastened them from the wall, and last night I ordered lighter curtains.  I'll need to do some paint touchups in there, but was really pleased with the huge selection of curtains available on line.  I loaded them and some old doors from the basement rehab years ago and took them to the Habitat Restore this afternoon.  I also stopped at the local garden center and bought their doorbuster $8 Frasier Fir wreath.  I've saved last year's bow and pine cones, so I wired them on and hung it up.  It was very satisfying to get all of that done.   I guess that's what happens when you don't grade papers for a day!

 

It's Been A Time

October 13th, 2020 at 02:24 pm

Well, I'm not even sure where to begin with our Scottish adventure. And I'm not sure how I feel about what's happened. But here goes.

Our DD and I left on September 9 and had a long multi-stop, but mostly uneventful series of flights. We landed in Edinburgh, found a cab, and got to the airbnb without incident. And the airbnb--well out of the city center--was lovely. The wonderful landlady/hostess had picked up groceries so we could self-isolate. DD and I did take long walks along the Firth of Forth and to parks, and along the Waters of Leith, but no interactions with people. We had another grocery delivery, and I taught online successfully. We really enjoyed our two weeks together.

Then DD moved into her dorm room after a bit of shopping. Since it was the week following "freshers week," there was, as could be I guess be expected, a lot of mingling and an outbreak of COVID. I was due to stay in the airbnb for another week so we could get her settled, and because she had not been exposed, she came back to stay with me. She began her online studies, met all her instructors, bought books, joined her tutorials, and we did more sightseeing in our spare time. We climbed Calton Hill, went to Edinburgh Castle, art museums, and walked and walked all over town--the Old Town, New Town, the Meadows, everywhere.

We got her settled again back in the dorms, and the next day, two people on her floor tested positive. The entire floor was locked down (as were a huge number of other buildings and other floors) and they were not allowed out of their floor. Food delivery (sort of) began as they were not allowed into the cafeteria.

Two of those days, she received no food delivery at all. One day, she received two apples and a box of juice for breakfast. No one was allowed anywhere except the shared pantry, and they moved the positive cases elsewhere. After 10 days of this, she was due to come out of lockdown. Then someone else on the floor tested positive, and it began all over again. So at that point, the poor kid was locked into her 10x12 room with no human contact for 12 days.

She was pretty darn strong, but so unhappy. Student groups were calling it the Pollock Prison (the name of the dorm complex). It was apparent that this couldn't go on for her--as it threatened to keep happening.

So, we pulled her out. I rearranged her flights, made provisions for her to continue the rest of the year online, cancelled the housing contract, and brought her home.

We are all sad she had to come home, but it was clear the university was unprepared for this. The academic side of things is going really well; she's been doing online live tutorials, and she met people and has made arrangements to flat share next year. It's just not right to ask an 18-year-old to be locked in for weeks at a time. The university's food service has been overwhelmed, and the company who handled some of it has quit. They even asked for students, suited up in PPE, to deliver food to the hundreds of them locked down.

So, we're all home, all studying and working, and sad,glad, relieved, and disappointed. We both LOVED Scotland, and we can't wait to go back. More on the financial side of this when I sort things out.

Greetings from Scotland

September 11th, 2020 at 07:29 pm

On Wednesday DD and I arrived in Edinburgh for our 14-day self-isolation before she can start the university here. Because of the limited flight options we had a circuitous route from Milwaukee to Atlanta to Amsterdam to Edinburgh. I was far more apprehensive than usual about flying, but we seem to have gotten through things ok.

We had long layovers in both Atlanta and Amsterdam--about 10 hours total. In our terminal in Atlanta only one food option--Chinese food--which is not my favorite before flying with all that sodium. Amsterdam was a little more active, but we were so tired by then we mostly walked around and then sat and sat and sat some more.

We haven't seen much of Edinburgh as we're staying in the port area and are supposed to have no contact with people. Our airbnb host brought in our grocery order before we arrived, to avoid us shopping. We have been out for walks along the sea, but have spoken to no one except our taxi driver. Luckily the sea front is so beautiful, we've been happy enough staying in, watching TV, reading, cooking, and for me--working.

This is Day 3 of isolation; only 11 more to go!

Starting the Day Right

July 21st, 2020 at 02:57 pm

I've noticed that if I get up and go for a walk for about 40 minutes before sitting down to work, my day goes so much better. I've been walking with DD almost every day, but that morning walk alone seems to clear my head and give me much more energy. And two walks a day seems like a good idea, right?

I've got a document to edit this morning for a university committee, and will also have to face some decisions about class cancellations. My dept chair would like to drop two more classes, and I'll have to decide whose will go. I'm asking him to just drop one, but our budget is dire for the department and university as a whole.

Lots of veggies from the CSA to use up. I made veggie enchiladas a couple of days ago, and the recipe made about twice the filling needed, but my DH is the king of leftovers, so he's been filling quesadillas with it. I've got my first cherry tomatoes and lots of peas from my planter box vines. I've never grown peas before, but they've done well in wheeled planters with a makeshift trellis repurposed from ancient tomato cages. And they have the added advantage of acting as a patio screen from the neighbors who must get sick of me hanging clothes and talking to the birds.

The big goal has been updated with some cash from Swagbucks and MyPoints. I seem to be able to hit those sites regularly now without papers to grade and while watching rom-coms and documentaries with DD. If you haven't seen "The Biggest Little Farm" on Netflix, I recommend it. It's a lovely film about a young couple trying to start an organic farm.

Wishing you all a lovely sunny cool day like we have here!

Waiting Waiting

July 20th, 2020 at 03:16 pm

I keep hearing John Mayer singing, "waiting on the world to change" in my head. Right now we seem to be waiting so we can take the next step and wait some more.

Our biggest wait worry is for DD's "CAS" number. I think (I'm foggy lately) I wrote that she's decided after all to go to Edinburgh for university. Her AP scores were excellent--all 5's--and she had an unconditional offer. But we need that number from the school so her visa can get started. Then we'll wait for the visa. Then we'll find a place for the mandatory two-week quarantine after arriving in Scotland. And flights, and packing. I'm going with her for the quarantine period and for a few more days. The university would provide isolation facilities, but we'll get an airbnb, order groceries in, and wait it out. I can't say I'm looking forward to that flight, but the infection rate is so much lower there, I'm happy she can get out of here.

I can teach online--and all my classes (and all my colleagues' classes) are online, so one of our airbnb requirements is great wifi and some outdoor space.

This will all be mightily expensive so we're saving and scrimping. And I'm learning all the rules for college spending. And I'm getting my classes as ready to go as possible. Waiting but busy.

Non-News News?

June 19th, 2020 at 05:21 pm

Our state university system has made a big fanfare about how campuses are re-opening. Yes, we're moving students into dorms in the fall. Yes, some classes will be held face to face. How many? I don't have a hard figure yet, but I would be surprised of the hundreds of classes offered by my department if more than one or two are face to face. It has to be this way. We don't have enough room to make socially distanced classes across the board. We will have a very hard time monitoring student behavior. But we've got to keep the machine running. Everyone I know has been sharpening their skills to teach online--classes, seminars, practicums. I seem to be both relieved and disappointed at the same time. This will be the first fall in over 20 years without me saying "Welcome to English..." in front of a classroom. But there's work to do, and we'll do the best we can.


In other news, I cashed $10 out of Mypoints which went into the UK house fund. I picked up the first CSA delivery which was heavenly. We now have wonderful greens, maple syrup, green onions, and the first darn kohlrabi of the season. No spending for days here.

Enjoy another lovely--though plenty hot--June day.

Keeping Busy and Moving Forward

May 29th, 2020 at 09:47 pm

Today was my daughter's last day of high school. It was, as expected, very anticlimactic. They'll take cap and gown photos next week. She started the process for an online summer class at my home campus, transferable to her university this fall. Once the paperwork goes through, she'll be set.

I participated in an online focus group about online education for 90 minutes today for which I'll receive $100. It was fun and interesting to meet with nine educators from all over the country. We all have the same concerns, so it was reassuring to be together with people who understand the situation and are doing their best to serve their students and institutions.
That $100 will go into my big goal fund which is looking more and more like my UK home fund.

I cleaned my closet yesterday with a goal to get rid of 20 things which I hit on the nose. Today's community service goal was to remember to drop off some canned goods at the church food pantry which thankfully got done. DD and I went for a long walk admiring the flowering crab trees and lilacs. I'm also admiring my carrots and radishes which are all enjoying the sunshine. My peas are up, and we've located several old tomato frames which we're repurposing into a trellis for them. Next goal--soup from various fridge bits and pieces.

It looks like a nice weekend. Onward.

The Burgeoning List.

May 24th, 2020 at 09:22 pm

It's been a nice weekend--the first in months without full drop boxes of papers to read. We had a family meeting yesterday morning and created a rather large list of summer projects. I have to laugh; my DH is not one for change and thinks our bedroom color is just fine. It was last painted 17 years ago when we moved in. It's a long list, but it will be a nice balance between prepping for a probably all online fall semester and doing lots of home projects.

I think our DD will likely take a summer class online too. Just something easy to knock off a GER.

How Low-Key Can We Go?

March 23rd, 2020 at 06:41 pm

We're pretty darn low-key around here. We've been walking, and cooking, and working a bit. Yes, I'm worried about stock, and retirement accounts, and college savings, but it seems like I don't need to sweat it now. Let's just take it one day at a time.

The weekend's highlights were a couple of phone chats with friends, the arrival of a tomato soup sample that I'm doing a survey about, and death of the toaster. I've ordered a new toaster from Target.com, we've eaten the tomato soup sample, and look forward to more phone chats.

DH is ensconced in my home office, and I'm working from the family room chair. We have a lot of food and supplies, the heat is on, it's quiet, and last night's snow is melting.

I look forward to more decluttering, more Monopoly games, more movies, and getting ready to press the start button on my classes.

Super-fast Update

December 4th, 2019 at 04:15 am

No time until the semester ends for a real update, but here's my quickie.

I spend more time worrying about work and DD's college financing than anything else. Kind of tired of both.

My university is undergoing a title and compensation update that is making everyone angry.

I CANNOT wait for the semester to end. I want to cook, read, plan for next term, and not get up at 5:45 for a few days. And start an intense hunt for scholarship cash for DD.

A long-time friend is counting down the days to early retirement at the end of the month. That's got me thinking even more about how to balance retirement planning, UK goals, college financing, and current wants, needs, indulgences.

My big goal is now over $6000. Small potatoes to some, but it makes me feel a bit better.

See y'all in two + weeks.

Now We're Cooking!

October 11th, 2019 at 06:50 pm

While the dog and I took an early walk, I've been mostly inside today--alternating between grading and cooking.

I made a big pot of potato leek soup, adapting Pioneer Woman's recipe to include leeks instead of celery. The not-so-swell apples went into cranberry apple crisp, and I've cooked down some red cabbage. Happy to use lots things up, and SO happy to have a day home. I really don't like the administrative part of my job--too much responsibility and too little reward. Give me the classroom any darn day.

DD has a jam-packed weekend with work and lots of school service projects. I intend to do lots of work and get my horrible house picked up--starting now with my kitchen mess.

No spending but plenty of goodness today!

Battening Down

October 11th, 2019 at 02:17 am

When I got home from the university this afternoon, I put on the remaining storm windows and looked up some new soup recipes. It must be fall, eh?

We have only a few weeks left of our CSA share. Right now we have loads and loads of potatoes, onion, leeks, and squash as well as celeriac, kohlrabi, and so much more. I think it'll be leek and potato soup tomorrow--maybe a load of roasted veggies over the weekend.

It's week six of the semester, so buried in grading and work. If the weather turns out to be as nasty as they're saying, it'll be a good weekend to stay in, grade papers, and make soup.

I visited the benefits fair at the university yesterday, got my free flu shot, and investigated other health and dental plans. I think we'll probably renew what we had this year. And tomorrow my wellness incentive forms are due. I can't access them until today's activities process, so it needs to be done tomorrow.

Did I Say It Would Be a UFM?

July 25th, 2018 at 03:26 am

I am so wrong, says the woman who spent $800 on rugs today. And I had coffee drinks, bought a crate of peaches, and a bunch of craft supplies.

Truly I was planning on buying new rugs for the dining room and family room. Would you be shocked if I told you our dining room rug was bought in the 1980s? It's done its duty. And the family room rug is part of my vast redecoration scheme in there. More on that as it develops, but I did look at paint colors and get a bid on the painting. We'd attempt it ourselves but it's a vaulted ceiling and a huge room. You'll see it's on my 2018 goals.

The peaches have become a summer ritual for us, but this year half of them will go to my friend whose husband's kidney comes out tomorrow. If you're a praying sort, keep them in your prayers. please. And the craft supplies (slime--eww) were for her son who is making slime with friends tomorrow to keep him busy.
I'm really pleased with the rugs; they were part of the Bon-Ton going out of business sale and were supposedly 70% off. I think that's a dubious figure but I really like them. Much jazzier than my usual traditional taste.

I made a huge Greek salad for dinner to use some CSA veggies and will shortly head off to bed with my new library book.