Monday, January 4, 2016

A Life of Temporary Leisure

I always hate that first work day after the New Year; not because it’s the beginning of the work year, but that I’m coming off a long vacation.  (You may weep for me now.)

After I do whatever it is I’m going to do to use vacation time during the year, I use whatever I have left to take the week after Christmas off, and use any other remaining days to take Fridays off preceding Christmas.  Our company gave us Christmas Eve off, so I had a solid 11 days off to end the year.  Before that, I had five 4-day weeks.

Needless to say, dealing with a 5-day week now is jarring.  I think I should only work two days this week.  Then 3 the next week, and then 4 more 4-day weeks.  And THEN, I’ll be able to deal with a full week.  You can’t just go cold turkey… you should be able to build back up to it.

I mean, 3:00 today, I was dying for a nap.  Maybe I can sneak a sleeping bag into one of our “focus rooms.”

So; 11 days with no kids, no house projects, nowhere to be and nothing I had to do.  You probably wonder how I spent my time.

Yep, I did a lot of nothing.  Naps, watching sports and movies, enjoying some cocktails… that was my vacation.  Mostly.  I look at this year’s end vacation as the tasty dessert after a long year of eating crap sandwiches.  Last year, I was sick almost the entire time I was off.  At least this year, I got that out of the way a couple weeks ago.

My time off had a lot of nothing, but not ONLY nothing.  I did get a couple of things done.  I fact, I tried to accomplish at least one constructive thing each day.  No, it wasn’t anything you’d call “taxing,” but I got to clean out a lot of stuff that was cluttering up my mental To Do box.

Like shredding.  I keep all my bills and utility statements for about 6 months, or as long as it takes my bill holder (re-purposed acrylic napkin holder) to fill up.  Once it fills up, I store the material and shred the previous 6-month wad of invoices.  I was afraid my bill holder was going to crack from the overstuffing, so I’d been meaning to get to the shredding.  Done… ding!

My kitchen faucet nozzle collects grit over time, which makes the water come out in different directions.  I used this opportunity to unscrew the nozzle, clean out the grit, and reassemble, to restore a nice, clean stream of water.  Done… ding!  Also, I had to use pliers.  Tool use… ding!  Extra credit.

I have a water-resistant windbreaker I wear to work frequently, but it’s starting to not resist the water quite so well.  So I bought a waterproofing spray online about 2 weeks back.  Last week, I treated 2 windbreakers, my winter coat, gloves, and my Penguins “rain hat.” (Meaning it was nylon and far less absorbent than my other cloth hats, so I wear it on rainy days.)  I don’t know how well it works yet, because naturally, it hasn’t rained since. 

I figure it’s the umbrella effect.  It never rains anytime I bring an umbrella or rain gear.  If you’re reading from the Mid-Atlantic area, you can thank me for the clear skies we’ll be having until at least April.  So, waterproofing… Done.  Ding! 

I installed a movie database app on my iPad a while back and I’ve been manually entering the data from my Excel list of DVDs.  Last week I was able to finish it.  Now it will be easy to keep up, just adding anything new.  I was hoping the data on the iPad would automatically load to the same app on my iPhone, but no such luck.  I originally wanted the data on my phone, so I could consult it in stores if I couldn’t remember if I already had a movie (or more likely, a particular season of a TV series).  Data entry… Done.  Ding!

I went out to see the movie “Sisters,” with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the weekend before last.  (I know it’s not exactly a chore; just an activity for the day.)  Anyway, I loved it.  As you know, I think Tina Fey is a goddess, and she and Amy together are gold.  I laughed my face off.  It was like a Judd Apatow/Seth Rogan movie, only with Tina and Amy in it instead, (plus everyone from SNL they ever worked with).  They must have loved not having network Standards and Practices lurking over their shoulders.

Even with Star Wars out, and Hunger Games and other highly publicized films out, the theater showing Sisters was crowded.  Whole middle section was densely populated… with women, mostly.  I only saw about 2-3 other dudes.  Movie I wanted to see… Done.  Ding!

And speaking of movies, I assembled and photographed my annual ticket stub collage.  (I did one last year, so doing another one now makes it annual.  In my family, anything you do more than once becomes a sacred tradition.)  Stub collage… Done.  Ding!

I mentioned the Orioles stats and other sports events attended this year in the last post, but I forgot to mention the ten movies. There was Sisters, plus:

Mockingjay Pt 1 (OK, that was from 2014. The stub must have jumped piles.)
Ted 2: Even more vulgar than the original; funnier too.
Terminator Genisys: Loved it.  A terminator movie with a happy ending?  Go figure.
Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation: Action packed and exciting.
Ant-Man: More light-hearted than the recent Marvel Comic fare.
The Martian: Also exciting and well done.
Mockingjay Pt 2: Loved it. Hits all the plot points from the book and puts a bow on the series.
Creed: Loved it. Rocky is more interesting as an old man.
Star Wars – The Force Awakens: Just wrote about that two posts ago, but loved it.

I had one kinda big project this week… not that it was strenuous or anything… it only strained my wallet.  Had to get a new set of tires.

As you may recall, I bought a 4 new tires last January, and then before a month went by, my car died and took the tires with it.  The 2013 Chrysler 200 I got in February still had its original tires.  I’d only taken them out in the snow once, and it scared the life out of me.  It was like I had no control at all.  (And I’m from the Midwest.  I know how to drive in the snow.)

So I wanted to replace the tires before we got any serious weather this winter. I thought it would be a simple in-and-out, but the tire shop didn’t have anything in my size.  He had to order them, to come in the next day.  Which they did.  So… Tires acquired.  Ding!

Usually, when I come home from work, I’m not in the mood to cook anything “involved.”  (Meaning: more steps than “microwave for 90 seconds.”)  But this week, I had time on my hands.  Early in the week, I made a roasted pork loin with red potatoes.  So that made two dinners.

You know, the fun thing about living alone is that you can stick a kitchen fork in the pork loin and eat it like corn on the cob.

“Fork Loin!”

Over New Year’s weekend, I got the hankering for pasta, and so cooked up the First Spags of the Year.  Because I like to cook in a clean kitchen, I Swiffered the floors twice; once dry, once wet.  Also ran a Clorox Wipe across all the counters and stovetop.  Luckily the will to clean passed before I could get too caught up in it.  But I did produce this:

FYI, it is much harder to keep a giant ball of spaghetti on a kitchen fork without it falling off.

It was awesome, although I had one small hiccup.  I’m not used to having very many spices on hand, so when I thought I was adding a half-teaspoon of nutmeg, it was actually turmeric.  I tried to counter it with a little extra of the spices I DID intend to put in and it seemed to work.  Had some for dinner tonight and will probably finish it up tomorrow.  Feasts... accomplished.  Ding!

I’m not usually a party animal on New Year’s Eve, but I didn’t feel like staying in this year.  Instead, I went out to my usual sports bar to watch the end of the Pens game, and the Michigan State/Alabama game.  At first, there were some regulars there whom I knew, but they didn’t stay long.  Once they took off, there wasn’t anyone left but couples.  Old couples.

I ended up leaving around 11:00.  The only thing worse than sitting home alone on New Year’s Eve is sitting out in public, alone, when the ball drops.  It also wasn’t a bad idea to get off the road and home before the cops start setting up checkpoints.  No need to get caught up with all the amateurs.

And aside from seeing my brother and his family on Christmas and New Year’s Day, that was basically that… How I spent 11 days doing just enough to not grow moss on my north side.

Next weekend: The tree comes down.



  1. WHAT! No lentils??? Fuhget about sauerkraut but der shouldda been lentils for luck.
    Bon apetitte in 2016

    1. No need for lentils. Who's luckier than me, with a full kettle of pasta in the fridge?

  2. with mushrooms and black olives yet, lucky indeed!

    1. Why make anything if you can't put black olives and mushrooms in it?

  3. I am thoroughly jealous of your time off. I am also disappointed in how our work weeks go. I thought they would be like on the Jetson's where George is complaining about a three day work week and his on the job injury is a sore finger from pushbuttonitis. Where did we go wrong?

    1. We've been conditioned to feel guilty for taking time off work and employers use that to make sure we don't.


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