We took a long weekend trip to Blacksburg recently. It was really nice to get away. A brewery opened since we were last there and so our first evening we drank a couple of beers and grabbed some pizza (we went there one more time for a beer after a hike and both times were lovely).
The main reason for the trip was to celebrate the better-half’s birthday with hikes, drinks and good eats. I think we succeeded on all fronts.
On one of the hikes, we discovered the trail hadn’t been maintained in quite awhile. The path was covered in grass and briars. We are still covered in scratches. I tripped and fell over a tree branch-pride wounded more than anything (thankful the path was not rocky right there). As it turns out a search and rescue was going on while we were there. I bet that trail has had some maintenance now.
My favorite hike was our last one. The trail was on and around an old coal mine and it connected with the Huckleberry trail. We saw some people, a frog and we startled a snake who really startled me.
Looking forward to our next long weekend over Independence Day. No plans yet but a long weekend is pretty good anyway.
The last person who was let go in April left today. I was in the office when she dropped off her equipment. I was really glad to see her, but I was in meetings from 8:45-4 with minimal time in between. That was a bummer because I would have liked to have said bye better than, “oh crap, i’m leading this meeting and am late.” A member of my team resigned a couple of weeks ago and she was in the office dropping her stuff off too. It was a bit much today.
So things are a little better this week than they were last week. The better-half and I had very little reaction to the Pfizer vaccine #2. We took naps, but we probably would have done that anyway.
The situation at work is improving. I’m still not 100%, but I’m digging into what I can control and trying to be a collaborative partner. You can’t go around saying you want to partner with others and then not do it when called to do so. I made the decision to not remain permanent work from home when we’re able to return to the office. My team has my support to stay home and my new boss supports that decision. I feel like I need to be visible and available to both office dwellers and to my remote team. In making that decision, I am really hoping to get an upgrade from my tiny cube. I never really understood why putting a manager in a tiny cube made any sense. It just made me run around the building booking conference rooms for private meetings. That’s not going to work if we’re a hybrid office–the demand for conference rooms will be even higher.
The better-half and I got our second Pfizer shot on Thursday. We’ll be fully powered up by April 22nd. That’s the good.
The bad is last Tuesday I found out my department was decimated. Two of the senior leaders in the department were terminated. One of those senior leaders had a fancier title than I did, but we’re peers and have the same rank in our jobs framework. Two other employees were told they have 30-60 days to either find a new position internally or get the hell out. Yes, there are severance packages, but that doesn’t make any of this OK.
Honestly, it is hard for me to not be suspicious that I’ll be the next to go and whether that’s in 6 months or 12, I really believe I won’t be staying. I think once I make the transition happen and get the new world order set up, I’ll be the one getting the talk. Everything we accomplished in the last year seems to be for naught. We were more productive and made a lot of smart choices. As it turns out senior leadership had this idea in their heads for more than a year and it makes everything seem futile and dishonest.
We celebrated our 25th anniversary a little differently this year. My parents invited us over for dinner on the Saturday before. It was nice to hang out. They are fully vaccinated and we are getting our second shot in early April.
For the actual day, I made a mix tape of songs from 1996. The better-half gave me flowers and chocolate–two things that are pretty spot on. I gave him a 3-D card. These photos are, as usual, lacking.
We started our celebration with fancy cocktails. Well, the glasses were fancy. Amaro and club soda for me and a Manhattan for the better-half.
We haven’t made this dish since 2002-ish, but it has lived large for us for all of these years. It is steamed halibut with herbs over roasted potatoes with a mushroom sauce. It does not look like much, but it tastes so good. The mushroom sauce really needed more than the stick blender and I’m sure that’s exactly what we said a decade ago. Maybe next time we’ll remember to do that to make the sauce more like a sauce.
Beginning in mid-September through early October, we pulled apart our deck. It always felt like someone built a stage and built it poorly. We started by pulling a small section to check for rot.
There was a reason why that section of the deck always felt bouncy. It wasn’t supported correctly and sat on the ground so no surprise that we found rot.
We tore off the whole section of the long steps (these steps lead to the backyard) and the short steps (these steps are used to get to our gate and then the street). We removed the corner that bounced and then rebuilt the steps and in the case of the short steps, repaired the stringer too.
When we removed the corner, we had to pull two concrete pads. That was fun. Not really, I’m kidding.
Renting a jack hammer to break up those concrete pads was fun, really and truly.
We have already replaced the railing posts and handrail. We haven’t completely finished that piece because wire rails are stupid expensive and we just don’t feel like dropping $1K right this minute. We also need to power wash the main part of the deck and build a skirt to hide the view under the deck. This shouldn’t take long, but we need it to be warm enough to power wash and then put down sealer.
We power washed, sanded and sealed the deck. We also built a skirt and planted some Lenten roses and hostas.
Our cat bites plants and thinks anything in the house is all hers. One Christmas she hopped on the table and ate some of the festive greenery. Turns out some of that was poisonous. She vomited and, thankfully, did not suffer any consequences other than the vomiting.
We have a few plants that are mostly outdoor plants except when we enter winter. I have traditionally put those plants in our guest bedroom closet because it has a window. The house and that room face south. The placement of the house is the reason we can have solar panels. It is not an especially good environment for plants who would prefer dappled light. So every winter I hope for the best.
This year we made plans for the plants and with the arrival of the poinsettia, we ramped up the plans. It isn’t fancy and was built with scraps (except for the wire and some brackets):
The plants seem to be less shocked and I hope they begin to recover from the several months they were in direct sunlight (the philodendron always sits there):
I do not think Lucy cares what’s in the cage and I haven’t seen her on the counter yet, but that doesn’t mean we need to be complacent.