Friday, March 27, 2015

radio silence...

I don’t want to get away from updating this blog…3 months is a long time to be away.  If I had any followers, I would have surely lost them by now.  

Also when I wait too long, my posts become soooo long.  Too long for the average reader.  Oh well, this is for me - to keep a record of all the cool stuff that has been going on.

Why haven’t I been updating?  With my new job, I have had very little energy, not to mention time to be creative in my writing.  Plus winter and the seasonal affective disorder that we all go through, I’m sure.  Above that, for the past 5 years during slow times I was able to update my blog while I was at work.  Working a full time job takes some getting used to…again.

So let’s see, what have we been up to for the past 3 months?


  • JOB
  • CAR
  • MAPLE SYRUP
  • NOT MUCH ELSE

The job…a lot more.
It’s different.  It’s different working for Chrysler (FCA US) and being a direct employee.  There are a lot more requirements; a lot more accountability. A lot more workshops and “lunch and learns”.  I get a lot more snail mail (work related).  I get a lot more email (work related).  I work a lot more hours.  I am a lot busier; thus, a lot more stressed and anxious.

Not to mention “Goals”…don’t get me started.

I was “sun downing” when this new work arrangement (opportunity!) happened…the last few months at VM, working only two days a week.  I was loving it!  So, it’s taking a while to get used to working full time again.  Luckily the HR department knew I was a special case so they were the ones who approached my management about me working part time here.  We tried to figure out if it would be better for me to do the Flexible Work Arrangement or do the Family Medical Leave Act.  I chose the FWA because the FMLA is for when you have a family member that requires your constant attention and aid.  My mom is doing OK right now so I would use this time to take her to lunch, take her grocery shopping and also to her many, many doctor appointments.  I will also use some of this time for ME!  So, it just seemed appropriate to use the FWA at this point.  FMLA might need to be put into effect sometime in the future.  Either way, I wouldn’t get paid for that time off.  So, as of the beginning of March, I am working 4 days a week.  Still twice as much as before but a little easier to take.

The Car…bye bye Miss MINI, Hello Earl!
We were driving home from work one day in Miss MINI when her odometer clicked over to 175,000 miles.  I jokingly said “Gonna have to trade her in for a newer model”.  That’s when Jerome told me that he’d show me the cars that he’d been researching.  Surprise!  Within a couple of weeks, we were driving down to Cranberry Township, PA to buy a new (to us) MINI.  

A couple of years ago, Jerome and I were at Motor City MINI for a little club event.  I had seen the MINI Cooper Coupe at the MINIs on the Mac(k) and I thought it would be cool to take a test drive.  We did and I really liked it.  I said (as I sometimes do) “this will be our next MINI”…little did I know that a short time later, it would come to fruition.

Earl with his notorious summer wheels and tires.
Jerome found a 2012 MINI Cooper Coupe S in Auto Trader.  A 2+ year old car that only had 7000 miles on it.  Our rule was that if we were to buy a used car, it would need to have as little miles on it as 10,000 miles per year.  This one had MUCH less than our requirement.


We drove to CarSense in PA on Valentine’s Day – during a white out (dangereux!).  Took us an extra 2 hours to get there.  We took it for a test drive, but because the roads were covered in snow and the car had summer tires, we really didn’t go very far.  There is a very long story regarding the tires that goes along with this but I will not bore you with the details.  Let’s just say we paid them an extra $500 to deliver the car the following week.  Also, once the review is written about CarSense, I will post the link here.  It was not the best of experiences.
Earl and his super hot winter wheels and tires.

Miss MINI, I forgot to tell you what happened to Miss MINI.  We were told that trade in value would be crazy low so we decided to put her up for sale on Craigslist.  We had a lot of responses.  We met with the girl who was the first positive responder.  She test drove Miss MINI and LOVED her!  So, we met with her at the Secretary of State and did the exchange of cash for title.  We hope that they will both live happily ever after.

Maple syrup…
We’ve had some luck this year with the amount of sap we are collecting.  We started tapping at the right time I guess.  Last year I didn’t even get to ordering the supplies until after I had seen a neighbor doing it for a few days.  Could be why that last year we only got enough to make about 2 tablespoons of cloudy syrup.

Just yesterday we collected about 2 ½ gallons of sap!  This is from three trees; two that are ours and one that is our neighbors.

Last Friday we did our first boil.  We boiled down 22 liters of sap to make about 2 ½ cups of syrup.  We started putting together the boiler and filtering the sap for the first time around 6:45pm.  We were done cleaning the kitchen and going to bed at 3:30am!  Not great planning, as usual.  We had never had so much so we didn’t realize that it would take nearly a full work day to boil it down.  Now we know and we have even more sap than before so we’re going to do this on Saturday and start early enough so that we can boil it all down by Saturday night. (**oh, and after all of that boiling down - all that time, I ended up bumping into the container where we were filtering the syrup and spill a good 7 oz.!).

Also last Friday, we stayed with the (turkey) boiler for a good portion of the boiling time because there is a safety timer that shuts off the propane every 15 minutes.  We have to push a button before the gas gets shut off otherwise we may risk losing our rolling boil.  It reminded us of our all-time favorite TV series; Lost.  Only they had to press the button every 108 minutes.  Eventually we figured out that we could sit in the nice warm house and set an alarm on our device for every 13 minutes.  The alarm goes off and we go outside to check on the sap and press the button.

Not much else...
Other than all of that, over the past 3 months we've gone to a couple of MMMC events; Holiday Party, Planning Meeting and Kart2Kart (where Jerome came in 2nd).  We've worked on different things on a couple of the rentals, I've forced flowers, Justin and Sam had their birthdays in February, We've done Extreme Winter Sports such as snowshoeing (only lasted until Jerome's snowshoe broke, then it became just walking).  We were lucky when we decided that we wanted to walk on Lake Huron on probably the absolute last day that you could have without falling through.  We were able to celebrate our friend Linda's son's Bobble Head Day at Joe Louis Arena and got to see the Red Wings win!  Jerome was treated to making a glass blown icicle and we did a small tour of the Historic Pewabic Pottery in Detroit.  Oh and TV....a LOT of TV.

2 comments:

Jan Hunyady said...

You have been busy.

Happy to hear that your Mom is doing OK.

Jan Hunyady said...

Oh my gosh.....I've been pondering why you call your new mini Earl and I was reading something abut Star Trek and ding ding ding.....Earl Grey tea and Earl is dark grey.

Or did I miss where you explained the name?????