Friday, February 28, 2020

Building Work Updates and Coping Strategies

We learned on Thursday that the window replacement work starts next week. It's stressing me out because it's full of unknowns, and as you may have gathered if you've been reading here long, I am a planner and an anticipator and not at all good at spontaneity. Especially if it will come in the form of a worker showing up at the door and telling me I was supposed to have done XYZ already.

I am reminding myself that it is a really, really good thing if they can get this done, especially before I have a friend visiting in a few weeks, because the thought had crossed my mind that it would just figure, wouldn't it, if the two overlapped, and my office is also the guest room, and has a window, so that could have been very awkward. So this is better! And get it over with!

But I am still stressed out, so I thought I should remind myself of the ways I am coping and trying to get through this with my sanity not entirely in shreds (just partially).

One. I ordered noise-cancelling headphones. They won't provide me with a personal cone of silence, I don't think, but if they would just take it down to a dull roar, that would help. Anything would help.

Two. I was at the yarn store for knit night when I saw the email about the window work, so I bought some therapeutic yarn. I buy yarn there every once in a while anyway (it feels awkward to go and never buy anything, especially as so often I'm not working on a project using yarn I bought there, either), but I needed something comforting, and this does the trick.
Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, Oh Baby, which is a merino-silk blend; the color is called Mushroom Hunting, and it's a light taupe/brown that shimmers. The grande skein is 700 yards, 200 grams. And the way this catches the light is just lovely. I bought some of it last year at a trunk show, and haven't worked with it yet, but I'm willing to take the chance that it will be as great to work with as it is in the skein.

Also, The Loopy Ewe had a leap-year sale* on some limited colorways of one of my favorite yarns, Socks That Rock, where the first skein is full price but the second is $2.29, so I couldn't resist that, either.
*Runs through Saturday night, if you want to jump on it!

Three. Planning knitting! I'm still working away on the second Seashell Shawl, and am about halfway through the yarn I have, but I've been wanting to wind yarn (the Dirty Water Dyeworks colors shown here) and cast on a new project (the Trianglegram by Stephen West), and I'm going to!

Little things that will hopefully help. As is the hope that March won't be quite as crazy at work as February has been. On to a new month!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Gripes and Grumps, with a Cute Cat Chaser

I'm really glad that February is a short month, because it has kind of sucked in a bunch of ways, and I'm ready for it to be over. I'm already planning the celebration.

February for me has been the convergence of two main things:

  1. A lot of high-pressure work reports (this has to be published in February! No, this has to be published in February! Everything has to be published in February! Including the 132-slide PowerPoint that we sent in at 2 PM Monday), several of which were very very badly written.
  2. All the work that's being done to the condo: roofing, painting, power-washing, and window replacement.

What it's meant is that just when work is being stressful and requiring extra focus, the noise and disruption levels have been extraordinary.

The worker-noises have gotten to the point that it's almost funny, if by funny you mean it's not possible for this to get worse--oh wait, it's worse! This morning there was the banging from the roof, and power-washing* outside my windows, and a painter scraping outside the other window, and did I mention that someone in the building behind us chose this week to rip out their lanai? And that they were jack-hammering for the second day?
*And they're supposed to do the front of the building today, so we had to close the shutters on the lanai, leading to a very unhappy cat, who usually sleeps out there much of the day.

I tried playing music to distract myself, but it wasn't really working, so I thought, well, pack up and go to the library, and I did. It was quieter there at first. But then a woman and five kids sat down at the table behind me for some sort of tutoring or mentoring session, and while they weren't precisely loud, it was distracting, and then a group of women sat down at the next table over and started playing mahjong.

Chatting and bidding and the click-click-click of the tiles, on top of the 'science test is next week, and what did you do for you birthday'... And I'm supposed to concentrate on biosimilars in immunology? I didn't think to bring headphones; the library hasn't been that loud the other times I've gone recently. I know that these days, libraries aren't expected to be silent, but this was a bit much, and I came home again. Where it wasn't quite as loud as it had been, but the quiet didn't usually last long, leaving me on edge, wondering when it would start up again.

I'm only slightly insane, thanks.

I don't know where else I could go that would be really quiet. Maybe I do need to get noise-cancelling headphones, though I don't like the idea of wearing them all day long.

But the work is supposed to be done in a few months*. It's not forever. Supposedly.
*They keep telling me it will take months, and that the noise and disruption are only going to get worse. Both these things may very well be true, but I don't see how dwelling on them now helps me at all. It's not like I can prepare myself. Other than moving out, which seems a bit drastic.

I really hope that March will be a bit less insane at work; I hope so, I do. It would help a bit.

Your reward for getting through the griping: Miss Adorable Cat, last night and today.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Actually Finally the End of the Hawaii Trip

We made it! This is the end of the trip stories! Less than a month later (barely).

My last day in Hawaii was Friday, January 24, and we packed a lot in (on top of, you know, my actual packing).

We took a tour of a chocolate farm! The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory is the only one in the US, or at least the only chocolatier that grows all the cacao beans it uses.
It was another beautiful day.
And of course I love seeing chocolate in the wild, so to speak.
No entry, but the tour is allowed through.
To see the nibs sunning themselves.
I loved how these trees were coexisting, one straight up through the other.
The tour guide was very informative.
And we went in among the trees to see the beans at various stages of ripeness.

Then we went to another area so he could crack one open and show us how it looks inside.
I will admit that it looked pretty gross to me. Slimy white coating on the nibs!
The geckos love it, though.
And come along to lick it off. Not that that's part of the production process! Imagine how labor-intensive. But they clearly knew what tour time meant.
I wonder if that's how it was originally discovered? Because I can't imagine opening one and deciding that there might be something delicious in there, but if you saw something eating it, maybe that would get your attention.

Anyway, onward.
We spent some time in a really nice book-and-gift store called Kona Stories (that's where I got the toffee, as well as other things), and it turned out that they had store cats! One:
More friendly.
And two, fluffier and less interested in being social.
I was missing Maggie very much by then, so really appreciated a little cat time.

There were some fun things that I didn't get:

And I was surprised that the door is left open, and the cats can go in and out. Obviously it works, though.
 This is the view from the shopping center parking lot. Hawaii is crazy-beautiful.
On our way home, we saw that we had picked up a hitchhiker. See the gecko on the window?
He tried very hard to be casual.
"Nope, nope, you don't see anything. Or anyone."
After lunch, we went down to the farmers market and had a good wander through.

Look at the shell necklaces!
Don't the yellow ones look like corn?
A really clever way to display shells.
And just for fun:

This bush looked like it was designed by Chihuly.
And this amused me no end. Kona Lisa!
For dinner, we ate right on the water. The food was fine, but the water-and-sunset-light views were enthralling. I took dozens of pictures, and I will leave you with some of them here. All right, a lot of them, but it's not even half of what I took!