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Posts Tagged ‘furlough’

It’s hard not to blog about the 1000 lb gorilla in the room, so here goes: as of today the government is shut down, and I’m furloughed yet again. However, this time I don’t know how long it will last. It could be just a day or two (most likely), but it could drag on for weeks like it did the last time in the 90’s. In the meantime, I’ll just be chilling at home, taking one day at a time, sleeping in and packing and cooking and crocheting and hanging out with my awesome husband and a cuddly dog. So, that’s that. All the righteous indignation I might be able to dredge up would be pretty useless, so I’m channeling my energy elsewhere.

However you slice it, it’s still October, and that means it’s now my most favorite month of the entire year. It seems that I’ve been doomed to have it overshadowed by packing and moving for two years running, and we’re throwing in a government shutdown this year; however, I won’t let that stop me from enjoying it. In between the cardboard boxes and paperwork, I plan on making yummy fall food, eating too many candy pumpkins, taking pictures of changing leaves, and blowing out my birthday candles at the end of the month. Who knows? We might even host our first visitors to our new home before the month is out. Whatever this October brings, I’m thankful that I’m alive and able to enjoy it.

Psalm 2

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For my second Furlough Friday, I imagined making grand plans for a spectacular activity that would really amaze and impress you. However, I didn’t actually come up with anything like that. The best I could do was to string together some moderately interesting alliterative items that still made for a fruitful furlough.

  • Fancy Flowers: technically I accomplished this yesterday, but I just considered it a prelude to my FF festivities. I’ve kind of wanted an orchid since we moved here; I have seen them every single time we’ve gone to Home Depot in Rockville, and I’ve been tempted numerous times. For some reason I decided today was the day for one. So Bart helped me pick out an appropriately fabulous one, and now it’s gracing our dining table. Now to figure out how to care for it…

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  • Furniture Finds: today I wanted to check out ReStore, the Habitat for Humanity thrift shop up in Gaithersburg. People donate lots of junk that gets resold, and the proceeds go toward Habitat. I just knew I was going to find an awesome piece of vintage furniture just waiting for me to upcycle it into some unique statement piece for my home. It didn’t quite work out that way, though a couple of items caught my eye. One was a salt and pepper shaker set of two silver birds, very quaint and vintage. The other was a mid-century cedar chest with an interesting wood grain. I passed on both today, but who knows…I may get a notion to go back tomorrow with Bart and see if they’re still around.
  • Foaming Facewash: A boring, practical need, but I successfully accomplished it while packaging it with an overall fun trip to Target.
  • Funky Flats: I also hit the shoe store with great expectations, as I saw a cute pair of kelly green flats that really caught my eye on an advertising email they sent out this week. I was just sure I needed them. However, they had neither that color or my size in the store. Alas.

Very green…..very not quite going to happen I guess.

  • Feathered Friend: surprisingly, my most successful accomplishment today was just playing around with yarn scraps from my recently completed mitered square blanket. Armed with my new mad crocheting skills, I’ve been thinking of trying some of those cute little amigurumi animals. However, I look at the patterns and realize I don’t actually have crochet skills; I just know how to single crochet. While it is my modus operandi to dive in way over my head with a new crafting skill by taking on a project way beyond my faculties, I decided I should take a step back this time and ease in with a simpler yet still adorable project. So I made this little guy:

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He actually turned out super well! I learned how to crochet in the round with the magic circle, and I learned to increase. Plus, small projects that you can finish in two hours are quite satisfying after spending multiple years working on that dang blanket.

So, my Furlough Friday wasn’t Fabulously Flabbergasting, but it was Fun and Fulfilling. While nobody enjoys being furloughed, taking the time to do some cool things makes up for it a bit.

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Technically, my first furlough day was last Monday, but since I craftily leveraged it to create a five-day weekend for our New England trip, it didn’t really feel like it. Today, however, is the first day I’ve been forced to stay at home after working four days the rest of the week. Rather than be frustrated, annoyed, angry, peeved, or otherwise malcontent about an unpaid day off because DoD couldn’t get their act together, I’m going to choose to enjoy my days off when I don’t have to get up ridiculously early and fight traffic and try to use them productively. I’m tentatively scheduled to take Fridays off, but I can shift them around so as to be of the most convenience to me. So, let’s get started with this temporary (no more than 11 weeks, at least during this fiscal year) feature on the blog: Furlough Friday.

Today, my main focus is preparing for two rounds of visitors we have coming in the near future. My uncle, aunt, and their grandson (my second cousin? twice removed? I have no idea) are arriving Sunday for a couple of days of touring Federal City. They were gracious to let Bart, Murphy, and me stay with them on our cross-country trek when we moved out here last November, so we are happy to return the favor. My brother and his crew will be coming the following week on their family vacation. Therefore, I’m taking the opportunity to address some neglected areas around the house, plan some meals, and otherwise tackle routine household chores. I confess that renting makes me less motivated to keep everything gleaming and ship-shape, but that’s no excuse to let things pile up!

My progress today has been interrupted by the local wildlife. I put the bird feeder out yesterday since I would be home to enjoy watching the birds out the kitchen window. However, a whole friggen squirrel posse showed up throughout the morning to raid the goods. I don’t mind feeding them; they’ve got to eat, too, and they are actually fun to watch. It’s just that they decimate the birdseed and don’t like to share with the actual birds. I have let Murphy sic ’em a few times, as it’s good entertainment for him. I’ve also let him out and in and out and in and out and in about two dozen times when he was desperately intent on investigating something outside. We also had another bird trapped in our sunroom, which happens at least once a week. It’s totally screened in, but we leave the door open so Murphy can access the yard, but that also allows critters (including bugs) and dirt to get inside. Here’s a bird I can’t identify from a couple of weeks ago.

Little bird trapped in our sunroom. Can anyone identify?

Little bird trapped in our sunroom. Can anyone identify?

Usually the birds make it out eventually, so when I lost track of this one, I assumed he’d made his escape. However, Murphy was quick to find the bird lying right up against the step down, completely inert. I was just certain he was dead and alerted Bart to the situation; however, when he looked more closely, he realized he was indeed still alive, just maybe hurt a bit. A gentle poke with the broom handle sent him flying around again, and within a few seconds he found the door and flew off into a tree. I hope the little guy’s okay. We decided it was probably time to shut the sunroom door and not keep it permanently propped open, although it’ll mean letting Murphy out the other back door, which is slightly less convenient but still possible. We’ll see how it goes.

My morale was also sidetracked by a trip to the grocery store. Now, I realize I was purchasing more food than usual due to our house guests, but I was pretty peeved at the grand total for this trip. I make a big effort scour sales, clip e-coupons, and use my store card for maximum savings, yet it’s incredibly disheartening to see the bill sometimes. Groceries are so ridiculously expensive here, even compared to Colorado, which I assumed had a relatively high cost of living, too. But it’s nothing on Maryland. Everything is expensive, and the quality of the produce is less than stellar. Also, I stock up on items that are at their rock bottom sale price, which saves in the long run, but when it is time to purchase those items, it makes one particular grocery bill artificially inflated, too (part of the issue today). I made it out of the store without an aneurism, though, so that’s a victory for the day.

I’m currently on a mid-afternoon snack-and-blog break, but I’m about to get back to my list of tasks for the rest of the afternoon. Cleaning and picking up are rather unsexy tasks to tell you about for my first Furlough Friday, but hopefully once that’s out of the way, I can share some more interesting projects in the coming weeks. Hope you’re having a wonderful Friday, either at home or at work!

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Today marks eight months since our move to DC. Two thirds of a year now–as usual, I am incredulous at how fast time goes. I feel sort of in the groove here, but other than my job I feel like I haven’t really started making a life here yet. We’re sort of just waiting for…something, I guess. Buying a house and really settling down? Life is good, lest you fret that it’s otherwise. My spirit is just getting antsy.

In two thirds of a year, I/we have:

  • Made a driving tour of New England.
  • Returned a visit to everyone who’s stayed with us at Hotel Taylor.
  • Complained about the humidity.
  • Gone to the batting cages.
  • Been stalked by a real estate agent we ran into at two different open houses.
  • Taken a furlough day.
  • Experienced an hour-long power outage at work.
  • Experienced a three-hour long power outage at home.
  • Harvested lettuce and Swiss chard from my little pots on the back porch.
  • Taken the dog to a new vet.
  • Exterminate the bugs in our kitchen. Take that, vermin.
  • Visited a beach during the summer time.
  • Finally visited a lighthouse.
  • Updated our 101-in-1001 list to reflect our new situation.

I/we have yet to:

  • Buy a house.
  • Feel totally settled.
  • Finish crocheting the border of my mitered square blanket.
  • Go to Gettysburg.
  • Plant more lettuce for a second crop.
  • Swim at a beach we’ve visited.
  • Buy any local Maryland produce (we have from places we’ve visited but not here).
  • Make rubbings of some names from the Vietnam Memorial, as requested by a family member.
  • Visited Mount Vernon.
South Portland Lighthouse, Maine

South Portland Lighthouse, Maine

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Bart and I have had a lot of boring grown-up stuff on our minds lately and have not been enjoying life quite as much as we should this summer. Therefore, we abruptly cancelled our (total lack of) plans for the holiday weekend, leveraged a holiday, and got out of town for a much-needed break.

With five total days between the Fourth holiday, taking leave on Friday, the weekend, and my first furlough day on Monday, we decided to forego nearer destinations on our travel list (Philly, NYC, etc.) and go big with our large chunk of time–a driving tour of New England. We didn’t expect to thoroughly explore every nook and cranny, just see some highlights to get a flavor of the region and mark some more states off our US map.

Day one, July 4th: We dropped Murphy off at doggie daycare where he was going to have his own little vacay playing with his new friends, then headed north through Pennsylvania on our way to New York State. We took some back roads, making a side trip through Punxsutawney just to say we’d been there (no groundhog sighting, though). We ended up in Niagara Falls for the evening, taking in views from the American side at dusk and waiting until dark for fireworks over the falls. Unfortunately, the fireworks weren’t that impressive from our vantage point, so we left early to beat the crowds on the highway back into Buffalo where we were staying.

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Day two: We originally planned to head to the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown, NY, but we decided it probably deserved more of our time than we would be able to spend in an afternoon. So we saved that for another trip and opted to head back to Niagara with our passports for viewing the falls from the Canadian side (note: if you ever go to the falls, make sure to go to the Canadian side, as it has the best view of both falls).

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Afterward, we headed upstate to meet our friend Aaron near Oswego, NY. He used to live in Colorado but moved back to his hometown over a year ago; we saw him when he was in DC a few months ago, so we reciprocated the favor while we were in the area. After spending the afternoon together and taking in some local cuisine, Bart and I made it a few more miles up the road before overnighting in Schenectady, NY.

Day three: We were up early for a drive further upstate through the Adirondacks and into Vermont, where we proceeded to make a food crawl across this small, quaint state. The scenery was some of the best on our trip; from rugged, green lakes and rolling dairy farms.

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Vermont reminded us a whole lot of Boulder and Colorado: lots of crunchy, granola hippies and mountains (a bit shorter). We stopped at a farmer’s market for some maple cream soda, then drove to Waterbury for a tour of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory (free sample ftw!).

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We shopped for a local brew for my cohort at work, and headed up the road for a tour at the Cabot creamery, where we saw them make their cheddar cheeses and ate a ton of free samples.

We also stopped at a sugar house where we learned about making maple syrup. I desperately love maple syrup, and Bart and I seriously have “buy maple syrup in New England” on our travel bucket list, so this was a must-see. While we were there, some random guy started talking to us; before we knew it, he had grabbed a gallon sized jug of maple syrup and said, “I’m going to buy this for you two.” Turns out the guy is from Rockville, too, and he and his wife like to do random acts of kindness for young couples. We were absolutely stunned–a gallon of that stuff is not cheap! We were incredibly grateful and could hardly get over his generous gift.

After dinner at a local pizza place, we set our sights on New Hampshire that evening. This small state is mountainous and full of ski resorts and moose. We saw one standing in a stream by the road as we drove by but unfortunately didn’t get to stop and take her picture. Given our crunch for time, we only made a drive through the state on our way to Maine that evening, but it was beautiful.

Our final destination was Portland, ME, where we met up with our friends Nathan and Kenda who moved there not long after we moved to DC. You may recall that they stayed with us on their journey out. They were kind enough to let us crash their apartment for a couple of days.

Day four: After attending church with Kenda and Nathan, we did some scenic touring of the Maine coastline. We saw a Civil War-era fort on the Kennebunk river, a picturesque lighthouse in south Portland, and many quaint coastal Maine towns. Those of us inclined to seafood (everyone but me :p) enjoyed some fresh catch from a roadside stand. Most importantly, we got to catch up with our friends and share the ups and downs of relocation.

Day five: We got up early, bid farewell to our friends, and headed home. Nine states and over ten hours later, we made it in time to pick up the dog, but our time constraints required avoiding some more interesting and scenic roadways along the coast and through NYC. I must say that the New Jersey Turnpike is dull as dishwater, but at least we made it home in time. I also have conveniently not added up the amount of cash we spent on tolls this trip. The hemorrhaging of cash was just depressing.

All in all, we had a great trip. As always, it felt too short, but it was actually a nice length for getting away, having some fun, spending time with each other, and temporarily putting our cares behind us. Now it’s back to the grind, but hopefully more refresh and energetic with good stories to tell.

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