Odds and ends revisited

I’ve been really busy lately, and when that happens writing is the first thing that gets dropped. I just focus on the basics at times like this: provisioning and feeding myself well, getting enough sleep, and fitting in a bit of down time.

Last weekend was the typical crazy mix of weather Chicago is known for. It was gray, wet, and chilly on Saturday, and some parts of the metropolitan area even got a bit of snow. I wasn’t too upset when I was told that my volunteer time wasn’t really needed last Saturday and I could stay inside where it was warm and dry instead.

A few weeks ago I took on a volunteer commitment for select Saturday mornings: being an escort at a family planning clinic in my neighborhood. I think free speech is a wonderful civil right, and that people should be able to get alternative viewpoints when making big decisions. I also think it’s reprehensible behavior to block folks from accessing a health care facility and shouting mean and spiteful things at them as they try to enter and leave. Really, if you’re going to be standing with a rosary in your hand, don’t you think you should be more Christ-like and not berate men for being cowards because they are walking with a woman volunteer escort to their car?

Since it was so miserable I did a lot of baking last weekend. I made a cake on Saturday afternoon with rhubarb and applesauce in it. It’s delicious and I think I’ll make another to bring to Easter dinner next weekend. Both the rhubarb and the applesauce were put up by me in the freezer last year, so I am continuing my freezer-purge challenge.

On Sunday morning I made a baked oatmeal recipe from the King Arther Flour Whole Grain Baking book. I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a while, and my mother gave me the perfect excuse to do so. She’s in a rehabilitation center for a few days as she recovers from knee replacement surgery. That morning I phoned her to check some details before I drove out to visit her. One of the things she talked about is how she gets oatmeal every morning, but she can’t eat it because it is so slimy, even though she usually loves oatmeal. Since she also commented on a problem she was having that would be helped by a good dose of soluble fiber (oh, mom!), the idea to bring her some of this baked oatmeal popped into my head. (The “food is love” concept works just as well, child-to-parent as it does parent-to-child.)

I’m not sure if she’s been enjoying the servings of baked oatmeal I left for her since I haven’t had a chance to ask her, but I certainly have enjoyed it during this winter-like weather we’ve been having. When I got up yesterday morning there was snow on the ground!

Good thing I got the lawn cut before dark on Sunday. Even though it was cold here on Sunday it was dry and sunny and a perfect day for me to try my new reel lawnmower. I have a perfectly good gas lawn mower, but I’m going to sell or trade it. City lots aren’t that big and since I’ve eliminated all the grass in the front through native landscaping, I have only a small lawn in the back to cut. I love the mower and the company I ordered it from was awesome. They had the best price on this highly rated mower, charged no shipping fee, and I received the mower on Saturday morning after ordering it on Friday morning. Amazing!

Visiting my mom on Sunday involved an hour’s drive on the expressways. As I drove in my trusty nine year-old car, I thought about how much I liked it. My car is pretty swanky, actually. I have power windows, a power driver’s seat, heated side mirrors, cruise control, and automatic headlights.  A few years ago I had the standard radio replaced with one that allows me to plug in my iPod/iPhone so I can listen to podcasts and my own playlists instead of just the radio or a CD. It’s very comfortable and I’m glad that I didn’t buy that Prius.

The 40-mile drive to northwest Indiana didn’t use much gas and I topped off the tank for about 20 cents less per gallon than it costs in the city, too. Rising gas prices may hit me in other ways, but I drive so little that I’m sure to stick within the $30 a month I’ve budgeted for fuel even if I do take a few more drives down to visit my mom.

Now I have to get back to work. I’ve had a nice little break here as some issues behind the scenes got fixed, but I’ve been told everything should be working now. I’ve been doing a lot of system testing in the last few weeks. It’s very disruptive testing browser-based systems because whenever the slightest thing doesn’t work right the techies want you to clear your browser history and restart. I hate having my browser cookies blown away several times a day because it means I have to enter my name and password every time I check personal email, Google Reader, or even try to pay a bill. Ah, well. At least I don’t have to reboot every time.

11 thoughts on “Odds and ends revisited

  1. Interesting post 🙂

    You’re doing much better with your gas budget than I will in the future. I’m working on Rock Island right now and living in Bettendorf (luckily transport is paid for). However when I go back to Miami to continue studying accounting I’ll be in for some nice gas prices then. Better yet I interviewed for an accounting internship that is unpaid and a 20 minute drive further hurting my bottom line. More than likely my own blogging will be dropped a bit while I spend time studying Tax and working full time.

    I took a look at the NaturCut mower, seems like good stuff. 🙂

    -Ravi Gupta


    • Ravi, depending on where you’re doing the internship it may be a good sacrifice to make. I try not to mention my place of work on my personal blog but it is one of the big four accounting/tax/consulting companies. We take on interns every year and very often hire them after graduation. I think we pay our interns, though. Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door of desirable companies!


  2. I love your volunteer thing and I also agree with your assessment of free speechers. Growing up my dentist was in the same building as an abortion clinic. I went to catholic school and one of the priests used to stand in front of the building with his 6 foot cross and approach any young woman who was entering the building. I mean there was a temp agency in there, law firms, my dentist, but he made assumptions about the people who looked like sinners and would approach them to try to get them to change their minds. “um, sorry father, but I still want to prevent plaque”

    Knee Surgery – the best thing that ever happened to my mom. Hopefully yours will be a new woman again after her rehab.


  3. You’re awesome.

    Re: the reel mower. We LOVE ours. One thing is you can’t let your grass get too long or it won’t cut the grass anymore, just rolls over it and the grass pops up again. So we’re keeping our gas mower for those occasions. (They’re rare so you could probably borrow or go out with a pair of sheers or a sickle(!) if you wanted.)


    • Heh, heh. You’re close to giving me an excuse to buy a sickle. I don’t know why I’ve always wanted one. I don’t even know how to handle a sickle and I’m terrible at sharpening blades by myself. Learning how to properly sharpen tools and blades is one of those skills I must learn; that and tying knots. My boyfriend still gives me a worried look whenever I mention this to him. 😉


    • Seeing your post about the baked oatmeal reminded me of this recipe I had spotted in my cookbook. I think I can post the major points even if it is a published recipe. I get a bit confused about how copyright applies to recipes.


  4. Pingback: Weekly Favorites, Gratitude, and Giveaways #21 | Budgeting In the Fun Stuff

  5. I keep thinking about getting a reel mower. However, our house is on a half acre, and I don’t know how well it would work on a large lawn. Plus, we like to keep the grass longer to shade out the weeds, and I have read about the issue with longer grass that Nicole pointed out before.

    30 dollars a month for gas is fantastic!!! Great job.


  6. Pingback: Baked oatmeal recipe « a windycitygal's Weblog

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