Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Adieu to a shoe

My sister and I, living hundreds of miles apart, had the same apprehension before our different Lasik surgeries to improve our long-distance eye sight.  What each of us worried about -- to the point that we asked our doctors for reassurance -- was, "would our feet get cold?" 

Cold feet is a huge part of my life, due to poor circulation down among the toes, which might or might not be due to a cold wintery day in which my sisters and I were stuck outdoors in a snowstorm and got a bit of frostbite on our feet.  Who knows how it started?  I'm now a person who wears shoes even in 80+ degree weather.  The rest of my body can be steamy warm, and my feet will still be clammy cold.  (So it was a relief to each of us to know we'd be able to wear socks and shoes during the Lasik surgery).  

All that is a lead-in to why it's a big deal to me that my most-favorite-ever pair of summer shoes is nearing the end of their life.  

These shoes had it all:  
  • I got them used from a so-called thrift store, an environmental and economic double-win;
  • they're a color that matches much of my wardrobe; 
  • they are flexible and easy to walk/run/jump in; 
  • in fact, on some of my trips out of town I've used these as my running shoes, 
  • they have awesome traction so that I can ride a bike in them (making them super awesome compared to most smooth-bottom dress shoes); 
  • they are just dressy enough that I can wear them with dresses; 
but most of all . . . 
  • they keep my feet warm in the summer.
If I could keep these shoes forever, I would.  Alas and alack, they're nearing the end of their presentable life, and nowadays I use them only as work-around-the-home shoes.  I'm thinking that 2021 might be their last summer of use at all; it's probably not worth the effort to stow them when I put away summer clothes and bring out the winter wear.

Awesome traction underneath;
but now my toes are peeking out the sides.

After months of hunting, I've found a nearly-as-nice successor pair (not quite my color, but I can deal).  

That eases the sadness of saying good-bye, a bit.  Adieu to my shoes.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Miser Family Update: Sunshine on my dog

Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family Household.  This has been rich with warm and mostly sunny days, and by "warm" I guess I mean "Hot and Muggy and also Very Hot".  We've been fortunate that the overnights have been relatively not so Hot-or-Muggy-or-Very-Hot, which not only helps cool the house down a bit, but also makes early mornings a truly delightful time to be outdoors.

Prewash in particular loves having the morning sun shine on her fur and make her glow.   

Early in this H/M/VH week, I looked over my training schedule and saw a LOT of ferocious running:  4x1-mile speed workout, 8-mile tempo run, 12-mile distance run.  I then looked at the weather forecast.  I nearly bagged the running this week, but when I peeked ahead at next week, I realized that this week was IT--the big final hard push before I start tapering.   And I love tapering, so I laced up the Grit and dialed my alarm clock to zero-dark A.M., and then I did my ferocious miles while the sun came up.   And then when I got home from each of these tough (yet strangely happy) runs, I got to rest on the porch with a dog who glows in the rising sun.

In spite of how well (surprisingly) running has gone this week, I've decided that I really don't like giving myself athletic challenges that make me run by myself.  Perhaps my next physical adventure will be ballroom dancing.  

Things are starting to swing into high gear at my college; classes start next Wednesday, so this past week has had lots of preparatory meetings.  We are requiring that all students and employees be fully vaccinated (95% of us) or, if they have an exemption, get regular testing (the others).  On top of that, we're currently requiring masks whenever people are indoors and sometimes outdoors.  And even with all these precautions, at least one of my faculty members (who has vulnerable, immunocompromised family members at home) has tested positive and has had to quarantine.  We've had a handful of people leave the college because of the vaccine requirement; we have a handful of faculty taking a year-long health leave because we're requiring that people teach classes in-person instead of remotely.  These are tricky times, indeed.  I'm not in the part of the administration that's making the rules about this topic, and I'm doing my best to try to give everybody-but-everybody a lot of grace.  And I'm also rocking my mask.

My guy is still biking and attending protests (this week: gun safety) and even a nifty engineering meeting.  His calendar is full of cool events like, "Brunch Brooklyn", "To Queens", "Coffee", "Synagogue Book Group", "Ride", "Tuesdays with Tooooomay", "Torah", "Protest".   In between these events, he's been running errands for me.  It's so nice to be an Assistant Dean who has a spouse taking care of the home, making me coffee in the morning and dinner at night.  I've got a great life.

Last week, I'd written that N-son got a haircut in Minnesota (without me!), but that I hadn't gotten a photo.  Early this week, he dutifully texted me a picture.  I call this picture:  "N-son: Everything but the Haircut".  
You're welcome.

And that's the news from a small subset of our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures.  May you and yours be similarly prosperous.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Miser family update: peachy edition

Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family Household.  This week we're especially peachy (and tomato-y, for that matter).  

I played hooky from work on Friday, and went to a roadside farm stand for 3 buckets of tomatoes, and then to a peach orchard for three half-bushels of peaches.  No matter how often I do it, peach picking never ceases to fill me with wonder:  that I can stand amid trees, and food is just there, for me to pull down from the air and put in my basket.  I happened to go this year on a particularly overcast day, so picking was relatively cool . . . and the peaches in the trees just called and called to me: Eat me!  And me!  Pick me, and me and me! 

And then, when I got home with my produce, I spent 6 hours chopping, boiling, jarring, more boiling . . . and I "put up" four dozen quarts of tomatoes and tomato juice.  

This was the view Saturday morning. 
Prewash is resting after a day's hard work!

Not one to rest on my laurels, nor even on my canning jars, I did a peppy 10.5-mile run (because, training, ugh), and then had a friend come over and we canned the peaches:  48 quarts and 14 pints.  

Saturday evening, the peaches are sunny and warm.

Last week, I wrote that we'd had 0 (zero) people die of Covid-19 in our city in the previous week.  Well, that was nice while it lasted, but it didn't last long: cases are cascading here as elsewhere, and last week we had a death-a-day.  I'm masking up and meeting people outdoors, discussing vaccine status of people who come into the house, and reluctantly deciding to scale back even on that.  So, I'm feeling very lucky to have lots of good food heading down into the basement.  

N-son is also feeling happy; he's settling in nicely in Minnesota.  He's got a job interview at a sub shop coming up Monday; he got a haircut (but didn't send me a picture!), and he took a Moped Safety Class.  He told me that he and L2 learned things that neither one of them knew, while taking this class, and I asked what kind of things, and he said:  "You're allowed to ride a moped on a highway -- not an interstate highway, but a state highway."   Oh, THAT kind of safety class.  Doesn't sound so safe to me!  I'm very glad he's having a good transition, though, and glad that I don't have to watch his first moped excursions in person.  

A-child got to participate in live theater.  She was a [monkey? bear? I admit I couldn't quite tell] in a rousing production of Jungle Book.  Lots of singing, and lots of dance moves, all which was done nearly in sync with all the other kids in the performance.   The theater happened to be right across the street from my home, and so after the performance A-child and her parents and several grandparents came over for some porch time and so that Prewash could congratulate the new actress in our family. 

And what else?  My guy set a new PR on the bike today, coming down the hill with a southern wind whooshing him along a bit.  He's still protesting with Tuesdays with Toomey, and enjoying his zoom book groups.   And he's also busy cleaning out the last bits of furniture from N-son's now-vacated apartment around the corner from us, so we can turn the keys back over to the landlord.

And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures.  May you and yours be similarly prosperous.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

If I were the Empress of Email . . .

 If I were the Empress of Email  . . . 

  • Nobody would be allowed to change topics without actually starting a new thread.  If the subject line of an email reads "Questions about Timely Topic" and the writer happens to include a toss-off line about "We should also chat sometime about the Meandering Matter", then that thread is NOT the place to continue to the Meandering Matter conversation.  Start a new email conversation, with a new email subject line, people!

  • It would be possible to grab an email and move it to a spot on my computer screen where it would STAY.  To heck with the fact that I turn around to grab a cup of coffee only to find three new emails have come in, and now that thing I that was going to respond to --- that thing already mired in a giant list --- has chunked down three spots on the list. If I were the E-mpress, I would  sort my emails into piles, and put the piles in different places, and they would stay where I put them.  Because I would be the Empress of Email, that's why.

  • I would be able to write my own notes on the outside of the email.  I could say, "add this to Guinevere's agenda", or "read the attachments before the meeting", or "ask Makesha about precedents before responding to Tamir".  I wouldn't have to open up the danged email again and hunt through it to remember why it's still mired there in my In-box; I could just glance and see why it's still there.  That's the power of an Empress, after all. 

Here are things I do to cope, while I await Total Domination. 
  • I start "reply" drafts whenever I can, with notes to self about what's still needed, to move things out of the in-box.
  • I "snooze" things that I'll want to read at leisure, so they leave my in-box during the busy times of day and come back later.
  • On evenings and weekends, I make judicious use of "schedule send".   If I compose a reply to someone on Friday night or Saturday, unless the matter is super urgent, the person won't get my reply until Monday morning.   That keeps them from replying back during the weekend, which gives me a little bit of email relief.  (A little bit).  That helps me to feel I'm using out-of-normal-work-hours as a catch-up time rather than as an extension of normal work days.  
  • I have a few special mailbox folders with symbols to keep them up at the top:  "@ to print", "# waiting" (good for things like packages that promise to come soon, or emails to which I've responded "I can do this if you give me X, Y, Z information"), and "# appointments" (for agendas and/or info about upcoming meetings).   A new such mailbox -- now that I in a job where all sorts of stuff requires consultation and/or permission -- is "* agenda mtgs" (to hold matters I need to ask The Big Cheese about). 
  • Mailbox folders that have info about past projects change to having "z-" at the beginning, to move them down where I don't have to look at them (as in "2021-spring-calculus" has now become "z-2021-spring-calculus").

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Miser Family Update: Here and Gone

 Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family Household.    My week started off with some fun travels; I got to drive down to my home state and see my childhood best friend, who was in town visiting her sister.   We walked all over the neighborhood, and then we walked all over the neighborhood again, chatting all the time.  So much fun!

And then, since I was close by, I swung over to my dad's home.  He was three days past surgery to replace a pesky aortic valve, and was already baking muffins and jonesing to get back to the gym (starting with walking, but hoping to get back to jogging on treadmills in the coming months).  

In the middle of the week I made a mistake that worked out well.  I decided to bake a loaf of bread for some of my colleagues who were having a meeting among themselves to discuss the ever-exciting topic of curricular revisions.  The morning after I'd mixed the batter and left it to rise, I realized, upon tasting the somewhat-soapy flavor of the dough, that I'd used baking soda instead of salt.  Whoops!  But, having let the dough rise 24 hours, I went ahead and baked it anyway, and offered it to the people as "No-salt Baking Soda Bread".   (There were lots of "hmm, that sounds really interesting" noises in response).     At any rate, this morning I went running with the spouse of one of the people who'd gotten the bread; she said, "He told me you'd made bread, and that it was absolutely the best homemade bread he'd ever had!"   Oh, yeah; that was on purpose.  

Another fun activity we had this week was hosting our annual "dOnnOr", the dinner where all food is shaped like O's.   In preparation, as usual, I sorted all the charity envelopes from the past year and chose organizations that we'd give a one-time donation to.  

We invited a few other people to join us: a deacon from our church told us about how the deacon fund works, and a family with a parent who works in microfinance led a bit of a discussion about wise use of donated funds, too.   

[All people over age 12 were vaccinated, and windows were open.   
I think we'll be more cautious in the future anyway; in my city
we had 0 Covid deaths this past week, but the number of cases is rising,
and I don't want to get complacent.]

I don't have pictures of the dinner itself.  After everyone left, just about the only evidence of the dinner was a random wooden block the kids missed in their clean-up.  

And the end of the dinner also meant the departure of my guy and N-son; they had the rental car all packed, and so they started the long drive to Minnesota, where N-son will be living the next few months.  

Did I say they had the rental car all packed?  Almost all packed, I should say:  there's still a pair of work boots here to remember N-son by.  Sigh.  Work boots, and the memory of a very fierce and prolonged hug good-bye.

And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures.  May you and yours be similarly prosperous.  

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Miser Family update: good news, cows, times

 Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family Household.  We seem to have been gifted this week with random pieces of good news, good times, good cows, and industrious neighbors.  

Good news:  N-son had his doctor's appointment last week, and his numbers were good.  They were so good, in fact (how good were they?) that his doc sent him for further blood work.  And guess what?  His pancreas is back in action!  What we thought was Type I diabetes has now been re-diagnosed as Type II diabetes.  As a consequence, N-son will be transitioning from four daily injections to one daily injection plus pills . . . much more convenient and comfortable.   

As a fabulous side effect, this delights me, too, because Diabetes II is famously receptive to healthy diets, so now I have yet another reason to tell N-son to eat many fruits and veggies -- especially veggies!  In fact, I celebrated his good news by feeding him slices of tomato and a few fresh green beans.  Life is yummy.

Good times: I-daughter got to spend time at her college reunion (and her college is my college), so she not only got to hang with familiar friends (good for now), but also to have both of us reminisce about fond times from our own pasts.  It's a beautiful campus, full of wonderful memories.  Mmm.

Good cows:  I came home one day to discover a new inhabitant on my porch. Here's our latest house guest.
I often see groups of pedestrians stop in front of my porch to point at the various cows strung up or tucked away here and there, and it's kind of delightful to see that we've got random additions happening.  I've often thought about riffing on the Little Free Libraries, and making a little barn with a sign that says, "Take a Cow; Leave a Cow".  This just makes me want to do that even more.

Industrious Neighbors:  Look who's building a penthouse apartment next door!
It's been wild watching this place get bigger and bigger: it started like a little funnel, and gets added to and added to like an onion putting on its extra layers.  The whole structure looks like LaGuardia airport in the morning, with hornets coming and going like crazy.  

I've told the people who live in the rest of the house about this, but I don't think we particularly have to worry.  What I see about these beasties online is this:
Baldfaced hornets can be considered a beneficial insect in that they reduce populations of unwanted insects (including other yellowjackets) and will help pollinate flowers when they are searching for nectar. Therefore, unless the nests are located close (within 10 feet) of an entrance to a building, under an eave that is close to the ground or in shrubbery next to a lawn that is mowed, the nests can be ignored. 

Finally, a [mildly redacted] email chain that gives you a glimpse into a dean's life this week:

Me:  Dear New Professor X, I understand that HR needs a copy of your vaccine card. Could you please send it to them at [email address] at your earliest convenience? We have a COVID vaccine mandate at [our college] for all employees and this is needed to get you set to teach this fall. Let me know if I can help in any way.

Prof X:  Thank you for the reminder. I have just sent the vaccination card to the HR email you provided.

Me:  Super speedy!  You're wonderful.  (And welcome to [our college]!)

Prof X:  Thank you, [MiserMom]! I’m running around still looking for housing in [city] and the to-do list gets longer by the hour. Reading that one line “you’re wonderful” in your email just did the trick :). It’s all good now. Needed to hear that.

And in case you're wondering, I think YOU'RE wonderful, too.  That's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures.   May you and yours be similarly prosperous.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Bucket list

When we were visiting my sister a few weekends ago, she mentioned that someday she'd like to milk a cow.  "That's on my bucket list," she said.   I-daughter immediately pointed out how appropriate that was ("milk a cow" and "bucket", that is), and -- to entertain ourselves on the drive home later -- I-daughter and I came up with the following Bucket List of our own.   Suggestions for additions are welcome!

Bucket List

  • Milk a cow
  • Make maple syrup 
  • Bail out a boat
  • Mix cement
  • Pick peaches
  • Write a limerick about Nantucket*
  • Drum or busk
  • Paint something large
  • Chicken wings and beer
  • Chill champagne
  • Sing the "Dear Liza" song (very annoying)
  • Put out a fire: bucket brigade

* My favorite in this vein:

There was an old man from Nantucket

Who hid all his cash and a bucket.

His daughter, named Nan,

Ran away with a man,

And as for the bucket, Nantucket.