September 9, 2012

Monkey Boy, the neighborhood stalker, and other news

Well hello there! Fancy meeting you here! I know, it's been so long! Who knew life could actually get in the way of blogging? So much has happened, even the condensed version is lengthy. Grab yourself a cuppa joe and come on along for the ride!

First, work:

They say no good deed goes unpunished, and doing a good job means you're given more jobs to do. I don't know if I've mentioned it, but I've been busting my butt at work. I rarely take a lunch. I stay late every day. Where the other 2 guys pick and choose which tickets they take, I routinely take the oldest. This means I get whatever they've left behind. The hard ones. The difficult customers. I also regularly help them through the tickets they have, and sometimes take over the ones they don't know what to do with. If we as a team need access to something, I'm the one getting us access. Getting access invariably means I'm the one doing that particular ticket as well.

The good news is I'm recognized at work for the effort I put in. Management has asked me to attend meetings they would normally ask a Lead to attend, and my boss told me they are aware I've "taken a leadership role."

The bad news is, they have no intention of making me a Lead any time soon, even though I'm already doing the bulk of the work. This is partially due to the fact that I've only been there 2 months. When I told my manager the guys had been asking why I'm not Lead yet, he said they were thinking of putting me on a development path after year end reviews. Year end reviews are somewhere around February. So basically they expect me to do the job for another 6 months without the recognition (which I don't really care about) or pay (which I DO really care about). I told my boss maybe we should think about a development path now. He said he would talk to his boss about it, and we'll see.

So I guess I'll see. I'm not holding my breath, but I'm not letting it go either. I'm having a hard time living on my current paycheck. This is one way to alleviate that issue.

Family:

It's been the summer for family. We've met up with cousins from across town, Hawaii, and Michigan. Two weeks ago, Monkey Boy came to visit!
I spent more time hanging out with him than taking pictures of him...
He was in and out most of time, spending time at both my place and his Dad's. This was expected, and I'm happy I got to spend quite a bit of time with him. Mostly we just hung out. Occasionally we went out to eat, and once to a movie. He'll be back for Xmas and New Years, then not again until he's out of the Air Force a year from now. How does the time fly by so quickly?

The time does fly by quickly. Monkey Boy was home for my annual birthday bash, which I share with Superman because his birthday is 4 days after mine. I'm the older woman, you see. By all of 4 days. I don't have any photos of the party because I was too busy visiting with people I haven't seen, in some cases, for years!

Superman shares my father's birthday. How has it been a year since we threw Dad that fabulous 70th birthday party he almost didn't let us throw for him, and how has it been almost a year since he left us? It boggles my mind.

Running:

I've been running off and on since I last blogged. I learned I have a neighbor who runs. I've taken to calling him my neighborhood stalker, because it seemed for a while every time I went out to run, I ran into him. He appears to be a very nice guy, but I kind of like my solo runs. I also do not have time to chat after my run, because I have to get ready for work. I have a hard time saying no, so I have yet to tell the man this. Instead, I found myself all dressed up to run, and not going anywhere. I didn't want to run into him so I didn't run at all. That's not going to work!

I did do some long runs in the parks on the weekends, both with and without Monkey Boy.

He complained for 2 days that his calves were sore from this run
The deer have been out in force lately. I've had multiple sightings on every trail run.
Can you see them?
No zoom on this photo. I was that close!
I did start running in the mornings again this past week, neighborhood stalker be damned. If I have to I'll put my headphones on and be anti-social. It's so awkward when he lives right across the street!

Eating:

After several weeks of eating like a teenager (i.e. everything in sight), I decided I really need to re-evaluate my food intake. I'm going back to sugar free and gluten free. I'm also cutting out dairy, which is not really much of a stretch for me. Mostly that just means no cheese and no ice cream. Which really doesn't mean NO cheese and ice cream, because I refuse to be obsessive about any of this. I can and will control what comes into my house, what I make for the meals I make. I fully intend to be a bit lax when I'm not doing the cooking. Yes, I can be pretty certain a piece of bread will have gluten no matter who's cooking. I'm a big believer in special occasions meriting special consideration, though. I'm not going to turn down a piece of really good birthday cake, although I might turn down a piece I don't think I'll enjoy. No sense going off the wagon if I"m not going to enjoy it!

I've spent this entire weekend processing food. I chopped up and froze a ton of vegetables left over from last weekend's party. I also chopped up and froze about 10 cups of collards. I planted 4 plants this year, and found I got tired of collards rather quickly. They went and got overgrown since I wasn't eating them, so I had to do something. I gave quite a few to Superman, froze a bunch, and there are still leaves on the plants to donate to my Mom next weekend.

I had to re-trellis my monster tomato plant, which gifted me with 7 more large, almost ripe tomatoes for my trouble. I've re-trellised this thing twice now, and lost a few tomatoes in the process. Next year I'll know to just use the wooden trellis from the start. I apparently have a magic tomato spot, and my tomato plants quickly outgrow the cages I've tried to use the last two years.

While re-trellising my tomato monster, I also strung up a framework for my raspberry patch. I have a raspberry patch and a strawberry patch, both of which have kept me happily in breakfast fruit for the past month and more. I get about a handful of each, every morning.

I also trimmed back my grape vine. I planted this thing two years ago. It got kicked over the first winter, and I didn't think it survived. When it did, I was thrilled to see even the single bunch of grapes it produced. I was slightly less than thrilled to find the birds ate all but one of those grapes. This year the grape vine made up for the single grape I got last year.
This is about half what I harvested
I ended up with almost fifty 1.25 to 1.5 cup baggies, which does not include the quart or so I ate while cleaning and packaging them! I'm thinking of adding a few more trellis to the two I now have, but I'm not sure what I'd do with all the grapes if the vine grows into them. Right now I have a refrigerator drawer full, and a freezer drawer full as well. I've been juicing them, then using the juice to sweeten things like oatmeal and these:
My first ever attempt at canning
Monkey Boy left me a large bag of grapefruit, and I was concerned I wouldn't eat them before they went bad. I've been gathering glass jars to store food in, because glass just keeps food better than plastic. I figured that out when I started making Refrigerator Oatmeal (a large batch of which I also made today). Anyway, getting and using the jars has had me thinking about canning, but I didn't have the jar grabber and thought it was more complicated than it turned out to be. I'll probably eat these a lot quicker, now they're already peeled and spoon-ready. 

To recap, Monkey Boy is now back in Germany, I'm running even though I may yet run into the neighborhood stalker again, I'm going gluten, dairy, and sugar free, and while it turns out I'm something of a farmer I'd rather shoot photos of deer than shoot the deer.

Hopefully it won't be quite so long before I see you again. Thanks for stopping in!

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