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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. 

March? Really?

March 1st, 2021 at 02:45 am

How on earth is it possible that it's March tomorrow?  It seems incredible.

My DH and I were taking a walk this afternoon and talking about how a year ago our daughter was prepping for her AP exams and trying to make college choices.  It seems like forever ago.

But we're all healthy and all employed and not spending much at all.  I've decided to use two days of my spring break to go over all our accounts and do some serious retirement plannng as well as ensure we have enough for DD's remaining years at university.  I'm confident we do, but would like to see the numbers.

March 1 is also a big day for educators (me) and grocery workers (DD) as eligible for the vaccine.  We've managed to secure appointments through a lot of screen refreshing, so we should (crossing our fingers) be vaccinated by the end of the week.  I'm pretty darn excited. 

We have a few things coming up including a food drive at church and muffin making for a local organization that packs meals for the homeless.  And that's it for Sunday night. 

 

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.

 

 

Donations and Looking Forward

December 5th, 2020 at 03:39 pm

My DD and I had donated a chair and a painting yesterday, so some things out.  I've also bought a London puzzle on a FB group that will need to be picked up this morning.  I did another curbside grocery pick-up which should see us set for the week.

We have a lot of Christmas prep ahead; I guess I'm hoping getting a tree up will help us all feel the spirit a bit more.  I'm missing my Minnesota family and friends a lot, but trying to plan some lovely new things.  I've unearthed a fondue pot from the basement, and think we'll do a fondue night.  Some of DD's friends will be home from college soon, and I think they may enjoy a fondue evening too.   But for now, back to grading.

 

 

Costco, Sigh

November 21st, 2020 at 08:32 pm

I used to love Costco.  My DD and I would make a morning of it, shopping, sampling, and splitting a hot dog.  But I find pandemic Costco simultaneously wearying and worrying.  There are too many people there for my taste and I feel lots of (self-imposed) pressure to get it all and get it right.  I think I might be done with it for a while.  But I spent a small fortune there this morning buying everything from Thanksgiving food to Christmas gifts for the rehab home we sponsor.  Then I bought gas.  Then I picked up more stuff from the Target pick-up.  And frankly between the grocery store pick-up and the Target pick-up.  I think I can skip Costco until we're done with the pandemic. 

My friends and I spent some time yesterday trying to figure out why meal planning was so much more difficult now.  I think we figured it out.  I used to stop once or twice a week on my way home from school to pick yp a few things needed for dinners.  That doesn't happen any more so we're eating lots of the same meals over and over.  I guess I need to do more planning.  But at this point in the semester, nothing is planned except school.  Less than a month to go.

Isn't that a big whine about having so much food?  I should be (and am) a bit ashamed of myself.  Glad the sidebars are updated.  Glad my friends and family are mostly healthy and employed.  Glad my students are mostly ok and mostly passing. 

 

 

SUPER market Specials

November 6th, 2020 at 09:56 pm

I'm such a dork but I did a big happy dance when we got the grocery flyers on Wednesday.  Our "fancy" supermarket chain is opening a new store so has fabulous specials at all their stores.  I walked out of there with two gallons of milk for 99cents each, a $5 rotisserie chicken, 18 eggs for 99cents and #5 of potatoes for 99cents. 

In other decluttering news I got rid of a giant electric palm tree.  I'll bet most of you have never had to say that?  It was a gift from our next door neighbors who did theatre set design, but I was just tired of it, so gave it to a local teacher who is using it for room decor in his art classroom.  I also took a bunch of books and things like old lunchboxes, popsicle makers, and unused mugs to Goodwill.  I sold three books for $7 and gave away two more. 

It's been a couple of lovely days and this has distracted me from checking election returns every 15 minutes or thinking too much about the coming winter, the flu, COVID, etc.  The free flu shot on Tuesday helped too. 

Happy weekends to all!

 

 

Keeping On Keeping On

August 20th, 2020 at 01:30 am

We're still waiting on Edinburgh news and trying to keep busy while we wait. They've had two webinar/town halls--one of which guaranteed we'd have her necessary details to apply for her visa by the end of the month. And finally--eight days late, her passport documents have arrived in the UK. Trying to keep our eyes on the prize here.

I was delighted to see the news on record earnings at Target; I bought a lot of Target stock years ago, and have held it. It's one of the few individual stocks I own, and man, it's done well.

Besides a few quick purchases, that's all the news here. I ran into Costco this morning just for some salad mix, fizzy water, and a rotisserie chicken.

Eager to get out of the holding pattern and back to school. Someone please remind me of that when I start whinging about it.

Grocery Pick-Up Success!

August 15th, 2020 at 10:30 pm

Our infection rates are up around here, so I'm trying not to go out much. I did grocery pick-up today for the first time. Last spring we stuck to Instacart, then I ventured our for almost everything, but thought I'd give pickup a try. It worked out really well. I ordered online, and when I went to pick up they even took my paper coupons. I've been doing most of my big grocery shops at Costco, but have been spending too much--and that combined with efforts to donate a bag of food a week for our local food shelf has put a little too much of a dent in the food budget.

After that success I cancelled the Instacart subscription. With some forward planning we can handle the bulk of the shopping with pickup, an occasional Costco trip and maybe some fill-in fruit. Our CSA will run into October, and we have lots of veggies from them.

My DD is a little sad; still no concrete word from Edinburgh. None of the foreign students have received the required data for their visas yet. They're all in the same boat, but her local friends are all planning for college now--one left today.

And here's my rant today about the lack of USPS funding: Documents we mailed to the UK ten days ago have STILL not arrived. They were held in Chicago, 100 miles from our house for FIVE days. I'm madder than heck at the kind of shenanigans that pulls money out of this kind of essential service.

Happy Belated Blogoversary to Me!

August 12th, 2020 at 07:43 pm

I cannot believe it's been that long, but apparently yesterday was my lucky 13th Blogoversary. What? No card? No flowers?

Because I'm pretty sentimental I thought about all the folks who have traveled through this blogosphere like that lady from Atlanta, Retire at 50, the guy who was living in his car for a while, and another really funny one. Someone help me remember some of the others!

I've been determined not to go to the grocery store for another few days so we've had some slightly unusual meals. Last night's burgers were accompanied by kohlrabi fries. I just need to figure out what to do with the huge cabbage in the fridge. Maybe I'll try that eggroll in a bowl again. Or resort to store cupboard enchiladas for dinner.

In other mundane but satisfying news, my DD voted for the first time yesterday. I voted absentee, but am a dedicated voter, and hope she emulates that behavior. She was proud of her "I voted" sticker. And I cashed $35 out of SB and MyPoints to add to my big goal

I also did a usage test on some crackers, sampling three kinds they sent. For that I gained a $10 Amazon card that went for a wallet for DD. No other news--hard at work prepping for classes!

Loads of Learning

August 6th, 2020 at 12:51 am

I'm spending every morning this week and next in sessions for improving online learning. I've taught online occasionally for more than a decade, but there's a lot of new technology and all sorts of tips and tricks to learn.

I had to laugh at myself today as I was somewhat astounded how many students access so much of their course material through their phones rather than laptops. "Who could use their phone as a primary learning device?" I asked my DH at lunch. He just stared at me and reminded me I access Duo Lingo every day on my phone for my language lessons.

Although I'd much prefer to be in the classroom, I'm looking forward to video commenting on papers, and some of the fancier parts of our learning management systems.

Today was a NS day. We ate up lots of leftovers for lunch, and although my DH was convinced there was nothing for dinner, I made a very good veggie-filled mac and cheese using up the last bits of leftover cream cheese, some questionable Brie, and subbing evaporated milk for the heavy cream. There is something so satisfying up using things up.

DD and I took our usual 40-minute walk today and for over five minutes we were accompanied by 5 turkeys. They followed us down the street and got a little too close for my comfort. But it was very funny. Another small joy for the day!

Interest Rates Down Again

July 31st, 2020 at 08:27 pm

Several of the online banks have dropped their interest rates below 1 percent. I expect they'll stay low for a long time as the economy struggles, but it's hard to scrape together any interest these days.

We're still waiting on the CAS number from Edinburgh here. DD has noticed in her online FB group of incoming Edinburgh student, less than 1/3 have their numbers, so we're not alone, but it does make planning frustrating.

In other frustrating news, our internet was down for two days meaning neither DH or I could get any work done. He hopes to make up some time over the weekend, but that's hundreds down the drain. I've been existing on cell data alone. So let's tighten the darn budgets some more? But where?

The dentist called and said we have a credit. Would we like it applied to future bills or a check? Check on its way. Our food budget has been slim, but the CSA veggies have been great and the garden is doing well--not like Lucky Robin well--but plenty for us. It's time for a fridge inventory.

I blanched and froze kale and expect to get through the week with no new purchases. And since it's turned cooler (Hooray!) the a/c has been off. I've been loving the NYT "At Home" section, and see that they want me to clean the stove this weekend. I think I'll take them up on that.

I see lots of banks have been sending us bonus offers to switch checking or savings. We really like our local bank, but would move some savings $ to get a few hundreds in bonuses. Time to consider that!

So cleaning, cooking, and thinking on the agenda for the weekend--especially if DH is working. We have a drive-by birthday celebration tomorrow night for my work BF. Might be fun.

Drips

July 23rd, 2020 at 11:57 pm

Three darn zoom meetings today--all with lots of bad budget news. I'm safe from more cuts besides the mandatory furlough days, but I've lost more staff.

The drips are small but good drips. Another $5 will go into my big goal from a MyPoints payout. And we got another load of CSA veggies today which made a nice veggie pasta tonight. I'll freeze some kale later for winter soups.

And still we wait for DD's CAS number from Scotland.

Lovely and cooler today!

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!

July? Really?

July 1st, 2020 at 08:39 pm

Though June seemed to last forever, maybe Paul Simon is right, and July, she will fly?

We started the morning picking strawberries at a local farm. We went early to avoid the heat, and picked just one flat. I'll make freezer jam tonight, but freeze others for smoothies and maybe a strawberry margarita or two. There'll be some for desserts and lots for just eating.

Got the news that DD's UK adult passport app has been received so that's good news. And we've switched our Friday summer lunches out to Wednesdays, so went to a cute nearby town on Lake Michigan for an outside deli lunch. Very hot here inland, but as usual, cooler by the lake. I've updated so saving figures, and need to make some appointments this afternoon. We're watching Neal Oliver's BBC History of Scotland which has been really interesting. Will do some university work tonight while DD is at her grocery job. I still can't get over the fact it's July.

Looking for Oomph

June 23rd, 2020 at 01:52 pm

I'm am certainly in need of some oomph. While I'm getting some things done, I am certainly lacking focus. I've always been a person who works better with fewer distractions, and the distractions of the house are starting to erode my focus- along with all the underlying issues going on in the world. But I guess all you can do is keep on keeping on.

I made a list last night that includes a walk, the treadmill, a visit to a framing shop, and the garden center as well as several hours of work. I bought gas and dog food as well as posted DD's British passport application. We also went to the very empty library where I was impressed by their protocols. It was great to get new books which I hope will improve my focus. Laundry done too as well as a new dish--kohlrabi fritters. What to try today? Oomph updates as we go.

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.

Summer is Coming

May 22nd, 2020 at 02:26 am

DD and I masked up and spent a good part of the afternoon at Costco. Costco itself did a great job with safety, masking their employees, wiping down the carts, and installing plexiglass at the register. But old habits are hard for people to break and I think one-way aisles at all stores for now would be a great idea. We bought a lot, so I'm glad we won't be going back for a while. It was the first time I've been in a store since March 13.

On to good news: my semester is over, my daughter took her final AP exam today, it's spring, and summer awaits. It's not the summer anyone planned on, but I have projects, and a nice list of things that can be done.