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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Travel Stress Tips

This isn't directly a Minnesota trip post, but it kind of ties into it and I thought I'd share.

I was listening to a podcast the other week and one of the tips given on the episode was to take bookend days around your travel. Basically, that means take the day off before you leave and the day off after you come back to reduce your stress level when you travel.

This is something I heartily endorse. When it's been possible, I've always taken an extra day off from work so that I have a day or two home after my trip. This gives me time to unpack, do laundry, and unwind from the hassle of either driving or flying. I learned this years ago and have done it ever since. It's the difference between going back to work exhausted (a lot of my vacations were to writing conferences, and as an introvert, those things left me drained) and going back to work relaxed. Or at least mostly relaxed. :-)

What I hadn't done in the past was take the day off before I traveled. Until this trip to Minnesota and that was an accident. I'd taken the Friday off before we left because my dad had a doctor's appointment. I didn't know then when, exactly, we'd be headed to Minnesota, but when everything fell into place, it turned out we were leaving that Saturday.

OMG! It was fabulous! I wasn't up until 2am packing for the first time in like forever. (I hate packing and tend to put it off until the last minute.) So we went to the doctor, stopped at the grocery store to get drinks and snacks for the trip, and had time to pack, and load the car and do the million other things a person needs to do before a car trip.

From now on, I am definitely (if I have the vacation time) taking off the day before. It was the best thing I'd done to ease travel stress in a long time.

It was after I came home that I heard the podcast and I had to laugh. Why couldn't I have heard that travel tip years ago? I'd been doing half of the bookending for years, but taking the day before had never dawned on me. Lesson learned.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Job Not Completed

This is a Minnesota trip post.

After two days of driving, my dad and arrived at the house. We opened the garage door and it wasn't empty. The garage--the entire house--was supposed to be nearly empty. My dad had paid the guy who held the estate sale in December to empty it out and he'd paid him a lot of money for this job to be completed.

There was also stuff in the basement he hadn't gotten rid of either--big things like a console television and a console record player that was probably from the 1950s or 1960s and some cabinets and more stuff. Really, dude? What a way to screw over an elderly person who trusted you.

Before we'd left Georgia, my dad had said there was almost nothing in the house and that there was even less we needed to bring back to my house. He left me with the impression that there was nothing left to do and I'd brought a lot of things along to keep me occupied. The list included two crochet projects, two crochet video classes I'd loaded onto my iPad, four movies I'd put on my iPad, and the computer I use to write with away from home. I had such plans!

Everything went out the window when we saw the house hadn't been emptied out the way it was supposed to me. The estate sale guy, BTW, had not answered my dad's phone calls since at least January, possibly earlier than that, so there was no way to get him to finish the job he'd been paid to do.

The good news was that when we met with the Realtor the next day who'd be listing the house, she said she had the name of someone who could get rid of the rest of the stuff after we left, including the mattresses we'd be using while we were there. My dad had a mattress on a bed frame, but the mattress in my room was on the floor. Sigh. But the real estate lady saved us so much hassle and that was a big deal. She also arranged for someone to come clean the house after we left.

Score two for real estate lady, and minus one for estate sale guy.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

4:30 = 6:00

I mentioned in my previous post that my dad and I were headed up to Minnesota. He's been living with me since my mom passed away and with the house finally empty except for a few things, we were going to drive up and list it for sale. I'm going to do a bunch of posts about this experience because, well, this is the house I grew up in and writing helps me deal with the mixed emotions I have.

My dad keeps meticulous records whenever we take a car trip. He has detailed information on every trek to Minnesota and back and he brings them along on the next trip and does comparisons. Not the way I'd choose to pass my time stuck in a car, but it works for him. :-)

Every trip I always say, "this time, let's leave at 4:30." Every time. I push us to pack as much as we can in the car the night before so that we don't waste extra time in the morning. And every time leave at 6am. I know because my dad has it written down.

I am notoriously slow-moving in the mornings, but on the car trip side of the equation, I am not the one making us late. It's my dad.

It should just be a matter of packing the coolers and putting them in the car in the morning. Maybe 20 minutes max, and of course, the usual morning things that you have to do to leave the house, like shower. ;-) I really have no idea what he's doing that takes an extra 90 minutes. He doesn't seem to be rushing around, trying to get last minute things done.

With the house listed for sale, we've probably made our last car trip to Minnesota, so how he fills the three hours it takes him to get ready to ride in my car will remain a mystery, but it's oh, so frustrating.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Crazy Dang Bird

My house has this awesome covered patio in back, but it presents a few challenges since it's not screened in. Leaves are the big one. This year, though, I have a new problem. A crazy bird was trying to build a nest on top of one of the columns! There's literally like a half an inch of space available up there, if that, but he (or she) kept trying.

As soon as I noticed the mud going on the top, I'd scrap it off. I refused to even let it reach nest stage. I sprayed bleach up there, hoping the odor would deter it. No dice. So every day as soon as I got home from work, I'd go outside and scrap off the layer of mud.

And then my dad and I were going up to Minnesota to put his house on the market and I knew if we didn't do something, we'd return home to a full-blown nest. The mud all over the patio floor and ceiling and on the walls of the house were bad enough--I did not want to see what a nest full of little baby birds could do with their poop shoots. (If you watch the web cams of eagles nests, you know what I'm talking about here.)

Researching online didn't offer much in the way of solutions. The only idea someone had that seemed to work was fastening a mirror atop the pillar so the bird thought another bird was there. I didn't have any mirrors lying around the house and I really didn't have time to go shopping for one, so I gave it some thought and came up with my own idea.

You can see the mud that darn bird left all over the side of my house! (boo) But I'm not sure you can see what I did. You know when you order something and the store uses those air-filled pillows to keep things from knocking around? We used two of those and taped them on top the pillar with painters tape.

We caught the bird there a couple of times before we left and I expected to come back to find he had ripped down our makeshift barrier or that a storm had blown it away. That's not what happened. When we returned home, everything was still up there and there were no bird's nests to be found. Hurrah!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Pillow Problem

I like to try out pillows. Some I end up using for a while, but a lot of them are only used a few times, maybe up to two weeks and then I decide that I don't like them. Now I have pillows up the wazoo and nowhere to put them. :-(

I would love to donate them to someone--anyone--but I haven't been able to find any charity that will accept pillows. I understand the reasons for this, but it makes me sad because this leaves me with only two options. Number one: keep the pillows forever, unused and taking up space. Number two: throw them in the trash, which hurts my soul because taking up landfill space with pillows that are practically new is criminal.

So far, I'm going with option one and I've stopped testing new pillows, but I really need that space.

I've found articles about upcycling pillows. First, I hate the term upcycling. Most of the projects I see with this word look worse than whatever is being re-purposed. Second, I don't want any of those things in my house because they're still taking up space and I don't like them anyway.

Sometimes I wonder what it will take to get me to throw these pillows away, but mostly I just hope that this time when I search online, I'll find a charity that will accept them.