Farewell but not goodbye

Yesterday one of my very favorite people retired from our office. I’ve had the honor of working with him for 24 years; he was on my original interview panel and I have enjoyed every single day that we’ve worked together. He is an honest, caring, thoughtful person, and while I always knew he’d retire before me, that didn’t make it any easier when he turned in his office keys. I could barely wish him well, though I do. He has earned his retirement no question, but I will miss him terribly.

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Take the call

Like a lot of people, I don’t answer my phone if I don’t recognize the phone number.

I cannot, therefore, explain what compelled me to answer mine when it rang today; I glanced at the screen, saw that it wasn’t someone in my contacts, and answered it anyway.

It was a woman, whose name meant nothing. She said we’d met in 2019, at one of my street fairs. That she was a massage therapist. I apologized for not recognizing her name (I’m terrible with names). I was scraping my memory to find her face.

And then she said we’d done a trade —- and that did it. I can picture her, and remember her coming into my booth and the ensuing conversation. Her therapy office was near the street fair, and we agreed to a massage in exchange for an equal value of my soaps. The massage was great, and she clearly enjoyed the soaps since she kept my card. Her location, however, made it nearly impossible for me to do future massages and then the world fell apart anyway.

We had a lovely chat, and I was happy to hear that her business survived the pandemic; she was glad that I also weathered the storm and was still making soap. She said she’d been forced to move her office to save rent money, but her new spot is less than 5 miles from my house, in a location I know well.

She wondered if I’d be interested in another trade, and I’d like to say I hesitated even a microsecond, but I couldn’t say yes fast enough. Massage is one of the things I’ve missed from this whole pandemic, and my schedule makes it challenging to find a place that is open when I am available. With her close to my house and open on Saturday, most of my excuse is taken away.

Self-care, baby! Perhaps I’ll answer my phone more often.

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Murphy’s Law is alive and well

Our office, like every business, is short-staffed. For me this means we don’t have an administrative assistant, so the accounting group is covering those tasks. This has been working fairly well – today not so much. The other two accounting folks are both on vacation and so I’m running solo. Again, this usually works ok, but today was a day where all the plates started to fall.

You know, the kind of day where Zoom meetings have tech problems, presenters arrive late for training sessions, lunch orders are incorrectly labeled, printer drivers glitch, the phone rings off the hook, and you send the wrong link to a meeting with twelve people. That kind of day.

Thank goodness it’s almost Friday.

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One pill makes you small

Rough morning – I accidentally took my “evening” vitamin supplements instead of the “morning” ones — so I’m loaded up on sleepy things like melatonin and ashwagandha. Makes for a drowsy start to the day. (and yes, they are in one of those divided vitamin caddy things; the hall light was off and I was not exactly fully alert when I grabbed it. Only after I swallowed the pills did it register that they didn’t look like quite the *right* pills.) Extra coffee for me today.

Have I shared a pic of Poppy lately? He is fully acclimated to us now, and has staked his claim on certain “safe” zones in the house where he goes when he’s done playing. At some point in his chase game zoomies he makes for a safe zone and the game is over. Full stop. It’s pretty funny; no grey zone, either calm and collected or ripping thru the house knocking things over. He isn’t the most graceful of cats, but he more than makes up for it in personality.

On the reading front: I finished The Foreigner’s Confession, by Lya Badgley. The author attended our book club meeting last week, which was really neat; so much better than answering stock questions, we were free to ask her all sorts of things and hear her experiences that inspired the book. I enjoyed the book, I think the author did a great job keeping the tone mostly light while not ignoring the atrocities that were going on.

Now on my ereader is The Humans, by Matt Haig. This one is just fun, a sci-fi story with aliens, told from the perspective of one who finds himself on Earth with a mission to accomplish – except as he spends time with the humans, he struggles to complete that mission. I’m nearly done with this one, and would recommend it if you like “light sci-fi” and are a bit of a math / science nerd.

During my commute I’m working on a pair of Cably Wably socks for Sock Madness. I’m a cheerleader now, so not officially competing but I like the pattern and wanted to knit along with my team. I’m nearly thru the gusset and will turn the heel tonight. Lots of stitch manipulation so they are slow, but it’s an enjoyable knit.

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Is this all there is?

Today I am pondering the cadence of my days.

I sleep about 8 hours a night. Less than that, and you don’t want to be around me.

There’s an hour in the morning and three hours in the evening – a total of four hours a day – at home that I’m awake. The morning hour is coffee, packing a lunch, feeding the cat, taking a shower; the usual getting ready for work stuff. I may throw a load of laundry in if there’s time.

The three hours in the evening are spent making dinner, cleaning up afterwards, looking thru the mail, perhaps a bit of tidying, feeding the cat, catching up on any soap business, and squeezing in a bit of leisure if possible (TV / knitting / reading / social media). And if I work late, this window becomes even narrower.

The other twelve+ hours are spent working and commuting, five days a week.

It’s no wonder my weekends are so precious. There’s still grocery shopping, gardening, and the soap business to manage, plus any house projects or recreation we want to do. Housework is way down the list.

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Poppy Update

This weekend marks two months since we took Poppy in. Though an initial look by a vet tech gave us a female verdict, a full vet exam the other day determined that Poppy is in fact a neutered male. So, a pronoun change and a cancelled spay appointment, and on we go.

Poppy got a clean bill of health from his checkup; no viruses or medical issues to be worried about. He got an estimated age of 5-7 years old, which is in line with my own estimate based on his behavior and body size / density – he’s well past any gangly kitten stage but also still quite active. A couple of shots to make sure he continues to stay healthy, and that’s pretty much it.

It’s been really great seeing Poppy settle into his new home. He has a wide vocabulary and is pretty vocal; he likes to touch people but not be picked up; and he really wants to be outside. This is the biggest challenge, keeping an outdoor cat inside.

He’s quite an active cat, and prefers his playtime to include obstacles — apparently it’s more fun catching a mouse if it includes chair legs and a carseat in the chase. At a sturdy 13 pounds, he makes a lot more noise careening around the house than our prior two cats, and he hasn’t fully adjusted to hardwood floors yet.

It’s been, what – fifteen years? since I had a male cat, and he’s just so easy going. He isn’t jumpy or easily startled, not much scares him, and he’s really tolerant of almost anything. He didn’t even freak out when he saw the neighbor’s cat in our yard, he just looked really interested (both Amelia and Snickerdoodle would hiss and growl at the intruders).

I’m glad we were able to take him in, he’s a great cat.

snuggle time
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A greenhouse!

For years I have wanted a greenhouse so I could start my veggies from seed. Our house does not have good windows for seed starts, and up until a few months ago we had a voracious plant-eating feline. So I typically purchased starts from a garden center and only planted seeds for the things that didn’t require the added time (like peas and radishes – though the local crows make even this a challenge, as they have learned that I put nummies in the garden for them to pick out at their convenience).

Well – this year I finally decided to just order a greenhouse. And I’m super excited and glad I did! I got the smallest free-standing but not temporary one I could find, it’s got a 4’X6′ footprint, a real door, and is exactly the size I needed. My veg gardens are not that big, I don’t need acres of seedlings.

Anyway – I’ve started a bunch of stuff and most of it is doing great! We’ve had some late cold snaps so I’m really glad to have the protections from these April frosts, and to give the seeds a chance to sprout so the crows are less tempted to pluck them out of the ground.

(oh, and I’m out of the Sock Madness knitting competition, I didn’t make it thru Round 2. It’s ok, I was just surprised at how fast everyone was this year.)

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Reading & knitting

I finally finished 1Q84. Whoo, what a journey! I enjoyed the story – it’s imaginative, quirky, and entertaining – and once I settled into the cadence of the writing I found it a very soothing read. There isn’t a lot of drama, no big climactic point in the story, but it builds gradually and connects two seemingly separate storylines about halfway through. It’s sweet, sometimes funny, and an easy read.

On to my current read: The Foreigner’s Confession, by Lya Badgley. This is our April Book Club pick, and honestly, at first I was hesitant. The topic is heavy: an American amputee travels to Cambodia to help survivors of landmine explosions. I wasn’t sure I had any emotional bandwidth for the suffering I knew the book held.

It has been surprisingly easy to read, however; though the storyline contains plenty of sad and tragic characters, there are also bits of humor, insight, and self-evaluation that help keep the horror in the background. You know it’s there, but it’s behind a curtain. Not that the author is glossing over anything, it’s just not the focal point of the story so it can provide the background without overwhelming the narrative. If that makes sense.

Anyway – I’m about half way thru it, it’s a pretty quick read, and so far I’m enjoying the story.

On the knitting front, I signed up for the Sock Madness competition again this year, and qualified for a team. I barely squeaked thru Round One, and then was thoroughly trounced for Round Two… Oh well. It’s ok, and I got two lovely pairs of socks out of the first month so that’s pretty good. I had a green theme going.

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Reading Corner: 1Q84 (in progress)

(this post contains an affiliate link)

I swear I have been reading this book for almost three months and am only 70% thru it. The fact that I am still reading it, despite this slow progress, tells you that I’m enjoying the story — but the pacing makes it one of those that I find easy to fall asleep while reading. Good for insomnia, bad for reading progress.

The book is written by Haruki Murakami, and it’s a big one – 925 pages. There are two main story lines, that of a man named Tengo, and a woman named Aomame. Their stories begin separately and gradually merge together, until you see that they really overlap quite a bit. Additional characters come into the fabric of the story and add depth, and the story steps into fantasy and dystopia.

Quite enjoyable, but not bedtime reading perhaps. Find it on Bookshop.org: 1Q84 *

*Affiliate link – if you buy something thru one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more – but I’ll get a (very) small commission. I only link to products and services that I actually use and enjoy.

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Who rescued who?

Ten days ago we took in a stray cat. So far, it’s going well! She seems to have a steady personality; her initial fear moved into cautious acceptance, and then into curiosity. We don’t know how old she is, or if she’s had any vet care (an exam is scheduled); I place her around 3-5 years based on her physical appearance and behavior. She has definitely spent a great deal of time as an outside cat – her hunting skills are well-honed and she prefers to sleep in a secluded location (like under our bed). She is physically very strong, a good jumper, and completely naïve about some aspects of living in a house… for example, she doesn’t know how to get into the windowsills if the curtains are closed, and she hasn’t figured out that the cardboard scratching boxes work best if you face them lengthwise rather than from the short side.

I dubbed her Poppy, like the troll, for her propensity for hiding under couches and beds and for being a little eccentric. 🙂 She likes cheek scritches, cozy blankies, and fuzzy mice. Her house manners are pretty decent, and now that she’s feeling comfortable with us she’s started trying to get outside. I’m going to try to curb that, both for her safety and for the local bird population. Here’s how much she loves cozy blankies:

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