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Made another micro-loan and another job interview

September 18th, 2017 at 02:34 pm

My initial $100 Kiva loan is being paid back by 5 recipients living in Armenia, Pakistan, Uganda, Moldova and Palestine.

From my one-time $100 donation, I've been able to loan out $175 in micro loans.

Today, enough money was repaid that I could make another $25 loan, this time to a woman from Tajikistan.

There are thousands in need of assistance, but I am partial to 1) single/divorced women on their own, 2) women seeking $$ for their own or their daughters' educations and 3) individual women seeking loans for some sort of green home improvement, such as solar panels. There are filters on the Kiva.org website where you can narrow your search to whatever you want.

It's hard enough in this country for divorced women raising a family, so one can only imagine the obstacles women face in third world countries.

Here's who I lent to today:



"Ganjina is a strong, very kind, and responsible woman. She was born in 1965 and is divorced. She is the caring mother of three children: two daughters and a son.

A cleaner at the railway station, she has been working for 13 years, but her salary is low. With a large family, being a breadwinner is difficult for her.

Ganjina has a daughter who is studying at the National University of Tajikistan at the department of Law. She is a first-year student, studying very hard and earning excellent grades.

Due to her low income, she finds it difficult to pay for her daughter's tuition fee. Therefore, she is requesting a loan of 8,670 Tajikistan somoni (TJS) to pay the tuition.

Ganjina is a returning borrower and has a positive credit history. She is asking for a loan for the third time through Kiva’s field partner IMON International, and she promises to repay it on time. She hopes Kiva lenders will support her and awaits your help and support."

Last week I also made a small donation to a local shelter here in CT who is sending a team of volunteers down to Florida to help rescue animals after Hurricane Irma and bring them back to CT for adoption.

I wish I could do more.

I can barely walk on my leg after yesterday's injury. I have to take teeny baby steps and be careful how I place my foot down. I don't think I slept well last night becus I'm feeling tired this morning. I've alerted the recruiter who got me the job I start on Monday, a week from today. Hopefully things will be back to normal or close to normal by that time, although I'm still a little worried I may not be ready if they want me to come in earlier.

I had all these things I wanted to do this week before starting the new job. Now this has thrown a kink into things. Well, walking on it a lot will probably just slow down the healing process, right? I will try to take it easy today and tomorrow and hope that by end of day tomorrow I see some improvement.

Luckily, I suppose, this injury happened at the tail end of my outdoor work yesterday, which was probably for 2.5 hours. At least I managed to plant my new Hydrangea Ruby Slippers and some allium bulbs before it happened.

I just got a call from the hiring manager for the low-paying but perm job as a corporate writer for a national relocation company in nearby small city. We've scheduled an interview for me for this Thursday. I would have made it earlier in the week to avoid possibly conflicting with an early start to my contract job, which is supposed to start Monday but they had mentioned having me come in a day or two earlier only becus the hiring manager will be traveling when I arrive on Monday.

I don't want to have to hobble into the new interview, so I decided to play it safe and wait til Thursday to schedule it. I told her what had happened, just in case I'm still walking funny when I arrive there.

She told me to plan on being there for 2.5 hours. A half hour with her, an hour with 2 other senior writers and the final hour to do testing of my editing and writing abilities.

Just hope everything works out. My leg, the interview, etc.

Took a bit of a tumble

September 18th, 2017 at 12:24 am

I was weeding a long perennial bed that runs parallel to my driveway. Between the perennial bed and the driveway is a stone wall which at one end is just a foot high and at the other end is about five feet high. I was weeding about in the middle.

I've climbed up and on top of that stone wall many dozens of times to access the perennial bed instead of walking around the wall and onto the grass on the other side of it.

Stupidly, I stood up from weeding and with my back to the wall and driveway, I took a step backward to step down from the top of the wall.

It was a greater step down than I realized (since I didn't turn around) and this, I guess, caused me to lose my balance and fall backwards onto my driveway.

On the way down, my right shoulder took a glancing blow, and then the right side of my right knee. But the biggest hit of all was to my right hip.

Wow. I can't believe how stupid that was.

Now, I am really sore. And I guess the hit to my knee was more serious than I realized, because now it is incredibly stiff from swelling.

I can't believe I did that. I could have broken a hip.

I guess I won't be walking tomorrow.

Goings on in the plant world

September 17th, 2017 at 12:58 pm

This is my last free week before the new job starts and I plan on knocking off as many things on my to-do list as possible.

Today, I'd really like to run up to White Flower Farm, about a 40-minute drive. They have a dwarf hydrangea called Ruby Slippers that I think would really work well in a small spot very close to my front door. It's bare dirt now because I pulled out the invasive sedges I'd planted there.

The Ruby Slippers only reaches 3 to 4 feet in height when maturity. It does well with morning sun and afternoon shade, which is exactly what it would get in front of my house.



I just want to call them to make sure they have it before I leave.

Saturday sundries

September 16th, 2017 at 02:08 pm

I spent hours yesterday helping my dad with his personal affairs. For one thing, he got a replacement credit card in the mail. It's lucky my dad asked me to help him activate it because I noticed the new credit card had a different account number. Which meant there were a pile of auto pay set-ups we needed to update.

Since my dad does't use the computer, we did it over the phone but it took quite a while to update. We were unable to do the lender that takes his truck payments because they are getting inundated with claims made by people who lost their vehicles in Hurricane Irma. We were put on hold for ever, then got disconnected.

My dad said he wasn't going to worry about it becus he's got the truck, but i need to explain to him it will zing his credit, they may issue late payment penalties and I think he wants to buy another truck at some point. So it's worth trying again.

I helped him make more phones to a contractor to do some garage flashing/roof repairs in response to the buyers' inspection report. We also were able to obtain some estimated values for his boat, trailer and the Honda motor, which he plans to sell. Basically, with the sale of his house and disposal of a lot of stuff he's collected over the years, it will make it easier for us kids, although I don't have any idea if he's named an executor who who that would be. He is not aware, for instance, that putting all the proceeds of his home sale in the bank savings account means all of that will be subject to probate. If he put it in a brokerage account, it would bypass probate. I don't feel comfortable bringing this up with him.

He found someone who will clean out all the remaining stuff in the house and garage for $1500, which seems a little high to me, especially since he plans to sell some of dad's stuff and make a further profit. I don't know if it's worth it to help dad shop around since we need to get this stuff done within the next few weeks so we can stick to the early October closing.

To top it off, when he left, he forgot his cell phone here. Frown

This morning, I want to hit a tag sale that advertised "houseplants," stop at the annual town health fair (you can get lots of free pens, toothpaste, toothbrushes, a flu shot, your cholesterol checked, an apple and of course, information from a wide range of healthcare service providers.

I'll also stop at the organic farm.

Yesterday at Lowe's I bought a dwarf variety of Joe Pye Weed, a big butterfly plant that normally gets 8 feet high. This little one will get no bigger than 2 feet tall. I planted it yesterday, and I have a pack of allium bulbs I want to plant too.

Luther has gotten into the new bad habit of climbing into a cabinet above the refrigerator where I keep all my lightbulbs. He can chew through a rubberband keeping the 2 doors closed together.

No Crystal Balls

September 14th, 2017 at 05:19 pm

My thinking continues to evolve.

Not having any crystal balls to see what will happen in the future, and feeling rather exhausted trying to figure out a course of action for various scenarios, my basic strategy will be to:

1. Start the new new contract job soon as scheduled.

2. Continue looking for a perm job.

If I were lucky enough to get an offer at a perm position, I would share the info with my current employer to give them a chance to offer me a perm job with their company first.

Because ideally, assuming the work is as interesting as I think it will be, I would want to get at least a year's experience there so I could leverage it to find similar medical writing/editing jobs in this field, which I think would really broaden my horizons and job opportunities.

If they declined, then my choice would be clear and I would leave the contract job for the new job, while giving 2 weeks notice. Because though my fairly intense research in the last few days showed I would continue to have a $0 copay when choosing a plan from the healthcare exchange, I just feel a whole lot more secure getting employer-sponsored health insurance rather than having to rely on such a politically tenuous position right now.

Not to mention I've been hearing that CT healthcare exchange premium rates are expected to rise about 20% for 2018.

I've begun making a list of things to do before I start the new job in about 2 weeks. (The start date is a little fluid right now as the hiring manager will be traveling when I start and since he doesn't want my first day to be when he's gone, he may have me come in a few days earlier, I'm guessing not for a full day.

I want to do some major grocery shopping so I don't have to think about what I'll have for dinner in the first week or two of starting. I want to hit Ikea, get some pants (using the Macy's gift cards I have) and a haircut and maybe an oil change.

I learned from the agency that while my normal pay will be $32/hr, should I work overtime (and the hiring manager said there could be overtime), the pay rate would be $48/hr. I have not asked about working from home but at some point down the road I would.

I think the hours will suit me very well. He wants me to work 10-6 so that by the time I arrive there will be stuff for me to do. The production team has to do their part first. This sounds great to me since I dislike rushing around in the early morning, using an alarm clock and driving in the dark. At least this way I'd only be doing nighttime driving one way.

I'm wondering if the office space will make me feel a little claustrophobic. It is an old house, probably built in the 1920s, that's been converted into office space and rehabbed. I've worked in this kind of setting before, in a house probably even smaller than this one, and it was the kind of place where if someone coughs on the 2nd floor, you hear it downstairs.

I'm also not crazy about working for very small, family-owned companies because I've seen some unhealthy dynamics, like husband/wife owners arguing and stuff like that. There were only about 8 cars in the parking lot and they seem to use a lot of contractors.

Still, I am grateful to get the job. You never really know what's going to develop and at the least it will be a welcome infusion of cash into the PatientSaver household.

The shocking cost of drugs

September 13th, 2017 at 04:01 pm

Because the job I've just accepted is a contract job, I find myself once again in the position of having to weigh health insurance costs without the usual employer subsidies.

Having MS, the drug costs are especially frightening.

I researched the 7 plans available to me in my state on the healthcare exchange website. Several insurers have pulled out and there are only 2 left. Of these, I looked most closely at the one with the lowest annual deductible of $1,000. The other plans had deductibles of $2,000, $3,000 and up. (I mean, if your deductible is that high, it just results in your not wanting to get ANY kind of healthcare becus you'll be paying 100% of costs. So what good is that?)

Based on a fairly low 2017 income I roughly calculated for this year at about $43,000 tops, I would get the maximum subsidies available, so my monthly premium for this particular plan would be $362, or $163 less than what I'm paying for health insurance now through COBRA. So far, so good.

But then we get into the weeds of "specialty drug" coverage of the Copaxone I take for my MS. I called the health insurance company, ConnectiCare, and asked them what the retail price of this drug would be for me and she said I'd have to call the pharmacy, Accredo. Accredo said they couldn't tell me the retail price of any drug under any plan except the one I'm enrolled in, so I asked her for that just to have a ballpark number to play with.

The plan I'm looking at would require me to pay 50% of the drug cost up to a maximum of $500 a month. However, the drug company that makes Copaxone has a co-pay assistance program for those who need it. They pay up to $2500 a month, up to a maximum of $12,000 annually.

So Accredo told me under my current Cigna plan (not the one I would need to switch to) the Copaxone I take costs $5,283 a month. This is really shocking to me. About 10 years ago, the cost was around $2500.

So half of $5,283 is $2,641 a month ($31,692 a year), which would be my responsibility. Applying the maximum amount of $12,000 the drug maker would chip in, I would still have to pony up $19,692 a year, or $1,641 a month for just this one drug.

This is what the cost looks like with a not very good plan on the healthcare exchange. Employer-sponsored plans are still the gold standard and far superior to anything else. By way of comparison, thru my COBRA Cigna plan with my old employer, I have $0 copays for the drug. I am glad I chose to stick with this plan even tho my monthly premiums seemed a little high.

I'm not sure what to do about this. I don't think I could bring myself to spend nearly $20K on this one drug. All I can do is keep looking for a new job even as I start this contract job, and also do as good a job as I can to optimize my chance of getting a perm offer there.

I have about 6 months of the Copaxone stockpiled for just this kind of situation. So again, worst case scenario, I enroll in the crappy healthcare exchange plan but at least I could avoid having to pay $2,641 a month for 6 months and use my stockpiled meds, buying me more time to change my circumstances.

In some ways, getting this contract job creates more challenges than it solves. Of course it's more money than I'm getting now thru unemployment, but you know, even if they gave me a perm position with benefits, they are a very small company. I'm not sure how good their regular health plan is, to be honest.

Looking at the longer term picture here, I have 7 more years to deal with this kind of garbage until I turn 65 and can get on Medicare.

Aside from high drug costs, the plan seemed okay, although my neurologist (the one I can't see now because his office and my Cigna insurance couldn't agree on a contract) is now out of network, as well as my gynecologist. My primary care doc and ophthalmologist are in network.

Help! Job and health insurance advice needed

September 12th, 2017 at 07:19 pm

I am facing a real dilemma here with health insurance and I welcome your feedback/gut feelings.

Today was my interview for the contract job that "could" go perm. It's with an agency that creates custom training materials for bio pharmaceutical salespeople, to help them improve their clinical knowledge of their employers' drugs, so they can speak more knowledgeably when talking to physicians. A specialized niche to be sure.

I learned today after I got home from the interview that I got the job. All that remains is to fill out all the recruiter agency paperwork and sign the contract. I should start in 2 weeks' time.

However, it's the recruiter agency that will be paying me. The agency offers what appears to be a cheap, sub-par health plan that covers only $600 maximum annually on prescriptions. The insurer is First Health and the pharmacy is thru Caremark (CVS). The medication I'm on for the MS costs well over $600 for just one month, so this clearly wouldn't work.

I know the company that makes my medication offers financial assistance, so I called them for details. They said that I would first have to enroll in the new plan and then they refer you to something called Assist RX. You apply and if approved they cover your meds 100%, 6 months at a time. You have to reapply every 6 months. They do look at your income but nothing else financial as far as I know. I have significant retirement savings I wouldn't want to touch and as far as I can see, they wouldn't look into that.

The whole thing looks very iffy to me becus there is no guarantee Assist RX would approve my application, and if they don't, I'm out of luck and it would be too late to go back to my Cigna COBRA health insurance which at least is good til January.

To complicate things further, when I got home from my interview today, there was a call from an employer about another job I applied for. This job is perm, with substantially lower pay, but it comes with full benefits. We had a good talk on the phone and HR will talk to the hiring manager to try to get me in for an interview ASAP.

I don't know what to do! If I take the pharma agency contract job and keep my current Cigna insurance which will last til January and if the new job ends around that time, I'll have very little time to try to find a new job with new health insurance. The hiring manager indicated there was a chance it could go perm, but didn't want to commit to that until he saw how things went with me for the first few months.

If I take the pharma agency job and switch to the new insurance plan and get approved by Assist RX for them to pick up the tab for my Copaxone, I would basically be resetting the clock as far as COBRA goes, giving my another 18 months of assured coverage, but that's assuming I'm approved by Assist RX for the Copaxone, which is my biggest concern.

And, much as I'd like to pursue the 2nd job I just learned about today, I don't know if I'm going to have time to even interview with them before I get the offer from the 1st job. It probably would not be wise to turn down job #1 without really knowing if I have a serious shot at job #2.

Any ideas??

Hurricanes and insurance strategies

September 10th, 2017 at 04:31 pm

News coming from Florida and Irma are dominating my thoughts. It's all I've been seeing on TV. I hope our Florida SAers stay safe.

I have to wonder how property insurers are going to respond. I hope they come through and honor policyholders' claims. That being said, it might be wise for some living in vulnerable coastal areas to rethink their residency, because I don't think this is the last Category 4-5 storm. Global warming and generally warmer air temps will produce more violent storms. I can imagine that some insurers might simply stop insuring low-lying areas like the Keys or even Miami. Sounds crazy, maybe, but maybe not.

Dad was over this morning as he got a new credit card and needed help activating it. He couldn't read the customer service phone number to call. He wasn't sure why he got the new card, and I wanted to see it for myself to make sure it wasn't some kind of scam. I could see his old card expires soon and this was a replacement, but for some reason the new card had a new account number; usually they would keep the same number. So now he has to contact all the places he does auto bill pays, and I will help him with that next week.

I've been so concerned about the Equifax data breach that I decided to freeze all my accounts, not only with them, but also Experian, TransUnion and Innovis.

Well, I simply cannot get onto the Equifax site; no doubt it is jammed with the millions of others who want to do the same thing. I managed to freeze my accounts at the other 3 bureaus. Experian and TransUnion each charged me $10 to do so. But I feel like I'm still leaving one barn door open until I can close the Equifax account.

It irks me that I will likely have to pay them to freeze my account due to their failure to keep my data safe, when I was given no opportunity to keep them from profiting from my data! Insanity!

Before I froze the accounts, I applied for one last credit card bonus! I got a Barclay's card that pays a $200 bonus after you charge $1,000. I can quickly do this with a single charge when I renew my auto and homeowner's policies in a few weeks' time. So in addition to dropping my collision recently, this $200 credit toward my policies will help me enjoy a significant reduction in insurance costs.

After this, I guess I'll have to limit chasing after credit card bonuses, since having to pay $10 each time to lift the freeze would eat into my profits.
I don't anticipate any need for a home loan, car loan or any other kind of loan any time in the future. If I were to buy another home, I'd pay cash with proceeds from my current home sale, and I generally pay cash for a new vehicle.

Maybe I would still open a new credit card if I came across any that offered a $200 bonus, but probably not for a $100 bonus.

Before I got the Barclay card, I applied for the Chase Freedom card and was rejected! I don't know why as my credit is excellent. They will mail written explanation. Immediately after that I applied for the Barclay card and was approved. I didn't want to delay that application in case the Chase Freedom credit check was recorded in a day or two and hurt my chances for a Barclay approval. So my strategy worked.

I vacuumed the whole house today, both floors. Also changed the hummingbird feeder. The hummers usually stay until late September or even early October. Hopefully by then there will be no hurricanes for the tiny birds to contend with.

Job interview today, and another next week

September 8th, 2017 at 01:35 pm

My interview for corporate communications specialist position at nearby (25 minutes) hospital is today. It's a contract job. I need to find out how long it will last. The agency behind this job only offers health insurance after you've worked 3 months. I may not work there long enough to qualify, and then x number of months would have passed and I'd have little time left to find a job that offered health insurance before the COBRA ends. This could possibly force me to buy from ACA at higher monthly premiums.

The 2nd interview is set for this Tuesday. Also a contract job of unknown duration. It pays a little better but the commute would be about 45 minutes, and if you know anything about me, you know that PatientSaver hates long commutes.

The big advantage here, though, is that I can get on the agency's health insurance plan immediately. I don't have to wait. So I'd work for as long as the contract lasted and when and if the job ended, I could keep the health insurance. It would "reset the clock" on the 18 months of COBRA health insurance you normally get. Right now, my COBRA runs out in January. I'm betting that even paying the higher COBRA rate for premiums would be cheaper than the ACA.

I plan to call both agencies to get more details about costs of their health plans to see if that is indeed the case. I would just rather steer clear of ACA if at all possible as Trump/Republicans could still mess with it, if not dismantle it.

So, right now, knowing next to nothing about either job, my preference is the hospital job because I find healthcare interesting and it's a much shorter drive. But, for reasons stated above, I may have to take the other job. Plus, I'm not sure I'm crazy about working for an agency. My experience: they tend to flog their employees...more late nights...the client is king. Multiple versions of everything you write. Maybe they'd permit some work at home though.

The drive to hospital would be easier, all highway. The drive to the other job would be partly back roads (dicey in winter), partly on a very congested 2 lane highway.

UPDATE: Interview was very easy with a very nice man but he seemed very uncertain about how the job would be structured or whether it would be contract or perm. I came away from it still knowing very little about what exactly I'd be doing, but right now i know they have a staff of 20 spread among 3 different area hospitals and together they handle media relations and marketing work. He let me do most of the talking and I tried to hit all the highlights and walked him thru my hefty portfolio.

The drive there was easy enough but the whole area where the hospital is, on the edge of downtown, is very congested and parking is tight. I had to park in visitors garage. On the way home, unfortunately, with no signage for the interstate, I set off in the wrong direction, directly into downtown, had to circle the block again and go in the direction I came, still didn't see signage and there was massive roadwork going on to boot so in desperation, I decided to take 84-East even though I wanted to go west. I planned to turn around at the next exit but that exit too was all messed up. Finally, about 40 minutes later, I managed to turn around and get back on 84 west.

There were just as many labyrinthine detours INSIDE the hospital as there were outside. I parked on the 3rd level, walked across a "bridge," took an elevator down to the lobby, then took another elevator up to the 2nd floor.

I sent off my thank you note and had a conversation with the other recruiter about the next interview on Tuesday. This next job is with a small agency specializing in creating instructional materials for the bio-pharmaceutical field. They need an editor. I'm amazed I'm even getting in there for an interview as i don't have a life sciences background, but the recruiter/my friend really sold me and my ability to research and learn things quickly and become an SME quickly.

Yesterday I managed to dig up the last of my remaining sedges. They look very attractive, very much like a clumping form of spider plant (without the babies), but they spread and spread and take over and then don't look as tidy, and they are a real pain to dig out.

Uptick in job market activity

September 6th, 2017 at 06:27 pm

In recent weeks it seemed like job prospects for me were dead. Today, all of a sudden, there's been a flurry of activity spurred by 3 different recruiters.

None of them seem spot-on matches to my background, but you never know.

1. Medical editor for a marketing agency with pharma clients. Contract job thru year-end at the least, possibly perm at best. Possible interview for next week set up by recruiter, a friend of mine I used to work very closely with. Low $30s (that's the hourly rate).

I might be eligible to get on the recruiter agency's health plan, which I would do to "reset" the clock so that when the job ended, I'd be able to stay on that plan for an additional 18 months via COBRA. Right now, my current COBRA (from the bank) ends in January, and I think it likely that either my current plan or this new job's health plan would be more affordable then buying health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, if it even exists at that point.

2. Contract copywriter at a local hospital for undetermined duration. Would pay less than #1 above but would have an easier commute of about a half hour. $30/hr

3. Perm job writing for a window/door manufacturer and a commute as long as #1. Lower salary of $50-$55K but then again, I don't need much and would just plow most of it into a 401k. The health insurance would be the big draw here.

So I'm feeling hopeful something will pan out. Recruiters don't always understand the nuances of your job; they just see "copywriter" and assume one copywriter is the same as another, or that you can switch industries easily. I've love to get into the healthcare sector, though. It would definitely widen my opportunities if I had some solid healthcare job on the old resume. Having it reflect only financial jobs, including banking, mutual funds and annuity marketing jobs (and one real estate marketing job) limits me.

It's been a gloomy day but I managed to squeeze in a half hour of walking and also paid my sewer bill in person and saved myself a stamp. (I walk very close to the municipal center, so no extra driving.)

Honestly, these last few weeks I did almost feel "retired," and found that I had no trouble filling my time with fun stuff to do. But I would still like to sock away more money though. Like, having a million would make me feel better. I'm within striking distance and if the stock market cooperated, I could hit that quickly

Next week is shaping up to be a busy week with 3 meals out, a possible job interview and a meeting with the Dept of Labor about my job search. And dad wants me to drive down to his Jersey house next week, which may or may not be possible.

Parades and plants

September 5th, 2017 at 01:40 pm

Yesterday I walked to Main Street (about 15 minutes) to see the Labor Day parade. It went on for 2 hours, and I stood the whole time but didn't really mind.

It seemed like there were as many people IN the parade as those watching it....local and state politicians, including our Senators, every club (like the cute Protect Our Pollinators group in bumblebee costumes), local businesses, school groups, fire and rescue equipment from all 5 of our sections of town, and all kinds of live music on passing floats, including country, polka, Latino, marching bands, Irish music and even an Elvis impersonator.

I wanted to share the pix but my little Canon PowerShot may be kaput. It's had an on again, off again problem when I try to download pix from the camera to the computer. There's a little switch you push on the camera to start that process, and the camera is not recognizing it and keeps telling me communication error.

Usually I've got it working after playing with it a while, but this time, it's just not working. I tried restarting the computer. I want to try reinstalling the software but I can't find the CD where I've always kept it, which is strange.

I do have a memory card in the camera as well. If those are interchangeable, I could possibly get it to work and download from my mother's camera, although as I recall, her camera's recharger was not working properly and I would probably have to call the company. It may be too old to get a new charger, I don't know. In any case, it may be a while before I can actually view these pix on the computer, which is a shame, becus I took so many!

Aside from yesterday's parade, I did vacuum out the car and I was able to get a lot of the dirt out from the passenger side seat! My dad is the only one who sits there, and I'd noticed a little while ago that the seat was getting dirty. I think he's sitting in dirty outdoor chairs and is transferring that dirt to my car seat. Just a simple wet paper towel did the trick, but from now on, I'm putting plastic down.

The nights are getting cooler here so I brought most of my houseplants inside a few nights ago, mainly the cacti/succulents. For now, they're set up in the sun room which has south and west-facing windows, but it also has some screened vents that let in cold air, so probably in October I will need to move them again, this time, I think, to in front of the family room east window, where I expect they will go dormant in the chillier temps of that room, which I close off, unheated, in winter. I think it gets down to the 50s there, which would be perfect for these plants.

Last winter I kept most all the plants in my bathroom, but I was running out of room, plus having them in the closed off family room means the cat can't access them. He doesn't actually swallow leaves, but he does like to bite them and leave his tooth marks.

I'm keeping the alocasia and mistletoe in the upstairs bathroom as they like the added humidity of my showers, and the 2 potted amaryllis will be moved to a dark indoor space (basement) for a while once we get a frost. It's a little complicated figuring out the best summer/winter spaces that are best suited for each plant's needs!

I HAVE killed a few plants, the most recent one being a candelila that is supposed to be easy to grow. I suspect the dead-looking area that slowly spread from the base of the stem up was a fungus (read about it somewhere online) and so, not really my fault. No matter what I did for it (tons of sun, no water, some water), it just never really thrived, and because I learned after buying it that its sap is toxic, I decided it wasn't worth trying to salvage any longer.

A little bit of everything...

September 2nd, 2017 at 07:39 pm

I'm still worried about SecretarySavings. I hope she is okay....

I recently moved a large amount of money...about $95K from two Vanguard funds, a domestic and international equity fund...into my Vanguard money market. I hope I won't regret it. I did it at the urging of a close friend of mine who reminded me that there are many indicators of a sharp correction coming. I've known this all along but had merely increased my bond holdings, even while knowing that bonds got clobbered the last time we had a stock market correction.

Before the transfer, I was holding about 55% equity exposure, which is a bit on the aggressive side for someone in their late 50s. So now I'm at about 45% equity exposure. It gives me some peace of mind of safety in the event of a correction, but of course I'm dealing now with "opportunity risk." Losing out on high market days with that $$ sidelined.

I haven't done much today. I was going to do some much-needed yardwork this afternoon, but then it clouded over (remnants of Harvey coming) and it's so chilly I just lost my enthusiasm for it.

I spent all morning updating my employment history on a state website, which is required of me. I also have to show up for a meeting with them in 2 weeks time with proof of job search activity, etc. I even used my account here to figure out exact start and end dates at various jobs, because while I am accurate on months and years, I don't usually track the exact dates, which many job application forms require.

I managed to save over $500 in August, thanks to living frugally, and $2,000 for the year-to-date ending Aug 31. I really need to watch spending in September as well, as both my car and homeowners insurance bill will come due then. As in the past, I plan to apply for another upfront bonus credit card so I can pay for home/car with that card and earn the $200 or so bonus with a single charge.

I recently went "shopping" for gift cards by redeeming the $200 bonus I earned from using my Wells Fargo credit card. I got gift cards from Amazon, CVS, Lowes, Macys and Staples and they should arrive soon. I earned it 3 months ago but they made only awarded it now.

I watched an interesting b/w film last night on Amazon depicting racism and feminism among Mexican salt miners in New Mexico. Racism against Mexican miners earning less than their white counterparts, and feminism when the Mexican miners fought so hard for their rights without considering the women.

It's been so chilly at night here that I had to take in all my succulents/cacti. I've decided to try overwintering them and inducing dormancy in my unheated family room on a large folding table I got from my mother, placed in front of an east-facing window. But right now, they're in the sun room, to take advantage of south and west-facing windows until it gets too cold at night even in there. It's also unheated but it has some small vents near the ceiling that let in a lot of cold air. I'm not really sure how cold it gets but plan to use the thermometer in the family room to guage temps in there. I think it mostly stays in the 45 to 55 degree range in there (?) which would mostly be okay. (Fifties is probably better.)

My regular houseplants, like the wandering jew I got, will remain in the main part of the house. I have an alocasia and mistletoe that both like humidity and misting, so they'll stay in the upstairs bathroom. And there are other plants scattered around the house. I guess I would have to say that the mistletoe and zebra haworthia are my favorites.

I may start dispensing of my outdoor cucumber plants as they won't grow in this chillier weather. There's still all of September, but they are looking rather spent. The tomatoes won't be far behind. Frown

There's another large paper hornets' nest developing high in the branches of my doublefile viburnum. I did warn my mower about it, even though it's too high up to be jostled, but otherwise will just let it be. It's too bad it wasn't within reach as I have always wanted to collect one (frustrated naturalist) after hard frost.

This past week I was able to scrape, sand, putty, prime and repaint the front part of the little roof held up by 2 columns at my front entry. It was peeling badly and looked like an eyesore (if you happened to glance up). I used the new/used ladder I bought on FB to reach it. It doesn't look perfect, but at least it's not peeling now.

There's one strange section of interior peeling paint on the ceiling at the top of my stairs to 2nd floor. It's the same spot that was peeling roughly 8 years ago. Why this area peels, I don't know. But I want to fix it this fall while I can still air out the house when it's drying. Maybe this week...

Where is SecretarySavings from Katy, Texas?

August 31st, 2017 at 03:48 pm

She posted right before Harvey. I'm wondering if she's okay as Katy is only 29 miles west of Houston. I hope she's okay.

I got my bloodwork results back from my physical and it mostly looks good. My total cholesterol is 175; I would like to get it lower. My HDL to LDL ratio is 2.8, which is also very good. I'm eating adequate protein, my B levels are fine, and my Vitamin D levels are fine.

The only little problem is that my hemoglobin A1c is just one point elevated, which would indicate I'm in pre-diabetes range. I need to rein in my sugar habit; no more alcohol during dinner with dad, and will have to eliminate the sweet tooth fixes (dark chocolate or a cone) to fix that.

I also had a mammogram today with the new 3D technology.

Met my friend at the dog park yesterday and then had an ice tea with him at the Sandy Hook coffee shop.

I put the first coat of paint on the little roof over my front entry after scraping and sanding it all down. I'd like to get one more coat on it and call it a day, but there's possible rain today so may have to wait til tomorrow.

Dad has asked me to come down to his house on the Jersey shore next week because he discovered a pile of boxes the former tenant left in the basement and he needs help getting them out of there. After she stole a dozen or so of his things, I don't think he owes her any favors, though it's likely she didn't want this stuff if she hasn't already retrieved them.

I wonder how the car ride will go since dad and I had a little tiff about his driving last time this came up. Should I cave and let him drive, or should I ask again to drive and risk another confrontation?

I had another MS dinner program last night. My 2 favorite couples were there and I sat with one of them. This time the doctor speaker was someone who himself has MS, and I appreciated his candor in talking about his own personal experiences with the disease. He is 61 and runs a clinic up in Hartford

It was a dark and chilly day...

August 29th, 2017 at 11:02 pm

I thought I would share with you a newish hobby of mine that has occupied my time for much of this summer.

Houseplants! And in particular, cacti and succulents. I've joined a few Facebook groups which really are fueling my interest.

Here are a few of my acquisitions.


I bought this acacia utensil caddy for a few bucks at a Goodwill store and filled it with hens and chicks in the back and a sedum, mini aloe and aeonium kiwi in front.


At this barn sale this past weekend, I picked up this cute Grecian urn planter for $3.

I planted the blue sedum in the teapot earlier this summer.

This is Echeveria Black Prince.


This one needs more plants:

But it does have a sedum and some pork and beans.


This haworthia is one of my favorites. I bought it last April at a show (or was it the April before?) and it has already more than doubled in size. I will repot for 2nd time in the spring.

I've also become rather fond of these horse teeth:


After learning today from a FB group of a 75% off pot sale at Rite Aid, I raced out and got these (the 3 big ones) for $13.



I purchased this PINK wandering jew with the gift certificate I got from the library's summer reading program:


I bought another small collection of old pots from someone on FB. Probably won't even try to get them going this year and will save them for spring.

I am learning lots of Latin and researching the care and maintenance of each one. I even created an elaborate grid detailing sun, water, etc requirements of each because having so many plants can get confusing. Some are very particular. Some like it humid, some like it dry. Most don't like too much water, but also don't like drought. Some I will try propagating.

Most have been outside but will be brought indoors soon. I'm going to try overwintering them in my family room, which I typically close off from the rest of the house, so it gets quite chilly in there, but that's what many succulents/cacti like. They go into dormancy and this helps them flower later.

As you may have seen (?) I also bought these little tables on FB for some of these plants.


What happened to my youth?

August 28th, 2017 at 03:34 pm

There's nothing like spending extended time with little ones to realize how old you've become.

There were times in my youth when I was a pot-smoking hippie making macrame plant hangers while walking around barefoot and blasting Janis Joplin on the stereo.

Later, I became a feminist college student at a women's college in liberal Massachusetts. I was still feeling like I could take on the world into my 20s, 30s and even my 40s, but it was sometime in my mid-50s that mysterious aches and pains arrived, when my stamina just petered out after a few hours of gardening.

My little visitors arrived Saturday with their incredibly calm parents, my half-brother and his Chinese-American wife. This was the first ever time they'd come to visit me at my home. Truth be told, I felt more comfortable making the overture toward my brother's wife than him. He's one who never says too much...he's always been shy....and it's hard to tell if he actually has an interest, or not.

M. handed me some goodies from a German bakery, a box of cookies and a pie. I gave half the cookies to my dad later, with strict instructions to only eat one at a time; most of the rest I gave to my friend R.

But back to the visit. The little girl breathlessly asked her mother if she could take her shoes off, and soon the 2 little ones were racing around my home. Thank goodness I had thoroughly cleaned. I even brought down the one board game I saved from my childhood, which always fascinated me.



It's called Spirograph, and it has all these little plastic wheeles that let you draw all kinds of interesting designs. I got them started with that; it was a bit too advanced for the little boy. I wound up with a bunch of kid art now posted on my refrigerator. Smile

Those 2 salads I made for lunch: the parents ate it but the kids had absolutely no interest in it. They appear to have very poor eating habits. Mom had brought some cheese crackers, and besides some red grapes I had and the crackers, that's all they ate.

I took them to the farm ice-cream stand afterwards (with dad as well). I noticed how unlike most parents they both are. When the kids wandered off to explore the farm, instead of most parents who issue a series of orders (Johnny, come back here, now! Or, sit down and eat your food...) they just followed their kids around to make sure they didn't get into trouble. But they didn't try to stop their kids from exploring, which I thought was pretty cool. They (and I joined in) continued this pattern when I then took them to a state-of-the-art playground near where I live. I figured it would help tire the kids out so they'd be quiet on the long car ride home.

The kids went crazy, and while dad was parked on a bench, the 3 of us followed them around from one exciting play feature to the next: a fort, a rope ladder, the zip line, the swings, etc. I took some photos which I'll see if I can post here, with Sian's help.




The kids were so excited and enthusiastic but it WAS tiring.

The parents were so calm and collected. M. just got a new job with Sanofi Pharmaceutical making well into the 6 figures doing what she did in her last job. I think she's still in her 30s.

My place is fully kid-proof, and at one point, the little boy was running into the kitchen and stumbled over the little tray that holds Luther's catfood and water bowl. The water spilled all over the floor. The boy got up and slipped in the water and fell again. His mom helped me clean things up and it was no big deal.

They left around 5:30 pm. Dad said he was exhausted and was going home to take a nap but that I should come pick him up for dinner, as is our custom, at 7 pm.

So, a full day. I was sort of looking forward to a nice, relaxing Sunday, but my friend R. called and wanted to go for a drive. He likes to drive with no special destination, something I used to like to do but which holds less and less interest for me lately as I can find more interesting things to do, plus he always gravitates towards stops of interest that interest him, not me. So it can be boring.

This time I suggested an endangered waterfowl conservancy, a place I've wanted to check out for a while. He agreed.





Friday I was reading the local paper and I noticed there was a tag sale that day, right on my street. I decided to go as I'm always hearing about these great things people find. I got there and for once I got there ahead of the crowd. A man who had been renting the house died, and his brother and his wife from Wisconsin were trying to empty out the house.

I immediately spotted a nice black wood bench. They only wanted $20 for it. He didn't have time to bring it to my house and it wouldn't fit in my car. I paid them the cash, they marked it as sold, and when my dad came over early yesterday for our luncheon, I borrowed his truck and with the seller's help, got the bench in the pick-up.


So now I have a nice little bench which somehow I'm going to have to protect each time it rains. Lug it into garage every rainstorm? I don't know...don't want it to rot. I suppose an easier alternative would be to throw a tarp over it.

August 27th, 2017 at 01:34 pm

What happened to my youth?

August 27th, 2017 at 01:33 pm

There's nothing like spending extended time with little ones to realize how old you've become.

There were times in my youth when I was a pot-smoking hippie making macrame plant hangers while walking around barefoot and blasting Janis Joplin on the stereo.

Later, I became a feminist college student at a women's college in liberal Massachusetts. I was still feeling like I could take on the world into my 20s, 30s and even my 40s, but it was sometime in my mid-50s that mysterious aches and pains arrived, when my stamina just petered out after a few hours of gardening.

My little visitors arrived Saturday with their incredibly calm parents, my half-brother and his Chinese-American wife. This was the first ever time they'd come to visit me at my home. Truth be told, I felt more comfortable making the overture toward my brother's wife than him. He's one who never says too much...he's always been shy....and it's hard to tell if he actually has an interest, or not.

M. handed me some goodies from a German bakery, a box of cookies and a pie. I gave half the cookies to my dad later, with strict instructions to only eat one at a time; most of the rest I gave to my friend R.

But back to the visit. The little girl breathlessly asked her mother if she could take her shoes off, and soon the 2 little ones were racing around my home. Thank goodness I had thoroughly cleaned. I even brought down the one board game I saved from my childhood, which always fascinated me.



It's called Spirograph, and it has all these little plastic wheeles that let you draw all kinds of interesting designs. I got them started with that; it was a bit too advanced for the little boy. I wound up with a bunch of kid art now posted on my refrigerator. Smile

Those 2 salads I made for lunch: the parents ate it but the kids had absolutely no interest in it. They appear to have very poor eating habits. Mom had brought some cheese crackers, and besides some red grapes I had and the crackers, that's all they ate.

I took them to the farm ice-cream stand afterwards (with dad as well). I noticed how unlike most parents they both are. When the kids wandered off to explore the farm, instead of most parents who issue a series of orders (Johnny, come back here, now! Or, sit down and eat your food...) they just followed their kids around to make sure they didn't get into trouble. But they didn't try to stop their kids from exploring, which I thought was pretty cool. They (and I joined in) continued this pattern when I then took them to a state-of-the-art playground near where I live. I figured it would help tire the kids out so they'd be quiet on the long car ride home.

The kids went crazy, and while dad was parked on a bench, the 3 of us followed them around from one exciting play feature to the next: a fort, a rope ladder, the zip line, the swings, etc. I took some photos which I'll see if I can post here, with Sian's help.




The kids were so excited and enthusiastic but it WAS tiring.

The parents were so calm and collected. M. just got a new job with Sanofi Pharmaceutical making well into the 6 figures doing what she did in her last job. I think she's still in her 30s.

My place is fully kid-proof, and at one point, the little boy was running into the kitchen and stumbled over the little tray that holds Luther's catfood and water bowl. The water spilled all over the floor. The boy got up and slipped in the water and fell again. His mom helped me clean things up and it was no big deal.

They left around 5:30 pm. Dad said he was exhausted and was going home to take a nap but that I should come pick him up for dinner, as is our custom, at 7 pm.

So, a full day. I was sort of looking forward to a nice, relaxing Sunday, but my friend R. called and wanted to go for a drive. He likes to drive with no special destination, something I used to like to do but which holds less and less interest for me lately as I can find more interesting things to do, plus he always gravitates towards stops of interest that interest him, not me. So it can be boring.

This time I suggested an endangered waterfowl conservancy, a place I've wanted to check out for a while. He agreed.





Friday I was reading the local paper and I noticed there was a tag sale that day, right on my street. I decided to go as I'm always hearing about these great things people find. I got there and for once I got there ahead of the crowd. A man who had been renting the house died, and his brother and his wife from Wisconsin were trying to empty out the house.

I immediately spotted a nice black wood bench. They only wanted $20 for it. He didn't have time to bring it to my house and it wouldn't fit in my car. I paid them the cash, they marked it as sold, and when my dad came over early yesterday for our luncheon, I borrowed his truck and with the seller's help, got the bench in the pick-up.


So now I have a nice little bench which somehow I'm going to have to protect each time it rains. Lug it into garage every rainstorm? I don't know...don't want it to rot. I suppose an easier alternative would be to throw a tarp over it.

My doctor's story, electricity woes & other miscellany

August 25th, 2017 at 02:04 pm

I went for my physical the other day and spent an hour-and-a-half with my primary care doc. She's actually an APRN, but I prefer her to the doctor.

We always have such a nice conversation; I actually consider her more like a friend. She's about my age, and when I went in to see her she told me a terrible story about something that happened last summer.

She often talks with her neighbors. There is one family with 2 boys. One day, the husband walked outside and hung himself from a tree. One of his sons found him. He had lost his job. Perhaps there were other factors as well. She said he didn't seem depressed.

A terrible story. She said it affected the whole neighborhood. Once all the emergency personnel were there, the body was left hanging for hours because they didn't know at first if they were looking at a possible crime scene. Luckily it was in the backyard. Two months later, the wife put the house up for sale and it only recently sold. The family never returned. I guess the subject came up when I asked her how her summer had been going and her reply was, well, much better than last summer. Which of course prompted me to say, why, what happened last summer.

I don't understand how someone could do that, knowing one of your kids might find you. And really, what job is worth taking your life over? I guess there could have been other factors as well. Maybe they were deeply in debt. Who knows?

Aside from that bit of news, my physical went fine. She agreed to include tests for Vitamin D and B and folate in the bloodwork since as a vegan I want to make sure my supplementation is working. Plus the D is very important for MS people.

In other news...
Here in Connecticut, electricity is deregulated, which means many different providers can vie for your business. Eversource still provides the actual infrastructure of poles and wires and such but the actual electricity can apparently be provided by other companies far away from this state.

So back in April I saw an offer from Pedigree in Texas for a lower rate than what I had; it was a fixed price for 4 billing cycles. I prefer to lock in for a longer period, but that was one of the best offers I saw at the time on the state website which aggregates all such offers.

So each month since May .... that's June, July and now August....I've checked my next electric bill and have seen the new rate is not showing up on the bill and I'm still paying my old, higher rate.

Each time I call they say they will fix it, expedite the order, etc. etc. This time I was feeling aggravated and said I would call the state DPUC. Then she put me on hold to talk to her supervisor (I hadn't asked) and she came back and said they would give me a $50 gift card for my trouble. I agreed to accept the card and while they didn't say it was in exchange for NOT calling the state utility commission, that's sort of what it felt like.

It's okay. I'm happy to get the gift card and can wait another month, but gosh, I hope they can figure it out.

Yesterday I went to visit a small art gallery and Japanese garden about 40 minutes away. I've been there twice before, and had wanted to bring my mother there when she was already in assisted living, but the summer was so hot in 2015 there just didn't seem to be the right time, and then she passed before I had the chance.

The garden was as I remembered it although it seemed not quite as well maintained as it was before. Japanese gardens are generally pretty small in size, maybe just a few acres, but are supposed to be perfectly manicured, with every view carefully curated. Perhaps it was the time of year I visited, spring vs late summer, or perhaps they are lacking in volunteer help. The place looked a little scruffy. I got a few nice pix nonetheless, which I'm unable to share since this site is not well maintained either.

I got a call back from one of the assistants of the neurologist who is doing the insomnia/mindful meditation study. I had spoken to him at the last lunch/lecture program I attended and told him I had a strong interest in participating but no one had called me back to schedule the next step. So his assistant explained they are waiting to get the Fit Bits because they want to hand those out at the appointments. They have only found about 25 of the 90 participants they're looking for to date, and the program starts next month. So that alleviated my concern they might inadvertently gloss over me. I feel I've been pretty pesty calling them about the study, but you know how these things can go. I could get left off a list by mistake and then I'd lose out.

Does one's body begin to fall apart at the age of 58? That's what it seems like. Recently my right knee felt very tight and stiff and the last time I went for a walk it was clicking inside the knee with each step. It was just a little sore but I wondered if my knee is wearing out! And last night I noticed my left thumb all of a sudden felt stiff. It could be arthritis but weatherwise, it's very, very dry (and pleasant) now. My mother's arthritis used to really become a problem when the weather was changing.

Probably arthritis, as I said, but at the same time, I tend to do stupid things. Like yesterday when my father came over so I could review with him what the letter from his attorney said in relation to his house sale. (They email correspondence to me since he doesn't use a computer.) He came here right from driving back from the Jersey shore, so he was stiff from sitting in the truck for 3 hours.

He said let's sit outside, and I decided to carry the 2 chairs down the stairs so he wouldn't have to climb the stairs. Stairs are not his friend. He sighed with relief when I brought them down but I lifted the one chair (not lightweight aluminum) with a singe finger (my middle finger) because I was holding the lawyer's paperwork, a cold drink for him and something else in my hands. So I lifted this entire chair with a single finger, thinking it would be fine. But afterwards, it felt numb and it still feels a little numb today.

Today I'll be cooking my 2 cold salads for tomorrow's lunch here and generally cleaning the downstairs. My beautiful white snowball hydrangeas are in full bloom now so I will be sure to cut some of those for the table.

It's Tuesday, and I'm....

August 23rd, 2017 at 12:07 am

It was a low-activity day on account of the EXTREME heat and humidity. Luckily, it will last only for a day and then we're to have great weather for the rest of the week.

Which is good, because this Saturday is the day my half-brother, wife and their 2 kids are coming up for lunch.

I just decided on the (vegetarian) menu today. Two cold salads (an edamame/tomato/corn/black bean salad and a cheese tortellini with peas, tomato and crouton salad)and a chia pudding dessert, though I'd like to take them all to the farm ice cream stand down the road for the "main" dessert.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to put the extension leaf in my Ikea table so the round table becomes an oval table. I've never actually used it. It's stored under the table and I vaguely recall it was "easy" to insert, but I can't figure it out now and have no one to help me. I went online and they don't make this particular table anymore.

So I may have to just use a smaller Ikea card table for the 2 little kids nearby the main table. It will be kind of a tight squeeze with 6 people in my small dining room!

I wish the admin here would fix the problem with posting images already. I've sent them 2 messages, which have gone unanswered.

Today I went to Aldi's, with a cooler filled with ice paks to keep my groceries cold on the ride home. I do this a lot.

Tomorrow I have a physical and will get a few extra kinds of bloodwork done related to being a mostly vegan. B12 and Vitamin D, mainly.

I did some light cleaning today. Well, sort of light. I vacuumed the upstairs (will do the downstairs on Friday), dusted downstairs and generally "picked up." Also cleaned the cat litter boxes, wiped down the dusty basement stairs and rinsed out the dehumidifier filter. I used the blower on my driver (my FAVORITE chore) and used the dust bin and brush to pick up the dead leaves expertly blown into a corner.

Yesterday I had another MS lunch lecture. Caught up with a Philippine woman I've gotten friendly with whose married to an MS American guy who inappropriately hugs me. They're going on a 5-week trip to Philippines next month so she can see her sister get married. She's 44 but looks about 25, seriously.

I took advantage of a certain doctor speaking (who does these lectures often) who happens to be doing an insomnia and mindful meditation study and is recruiting MS people for the study. So I told him I had a strong interest in participating and had done the phone screening but that no one had called me back to schedule the in-person screening. I gave him my contact info and am HOPING that if he remembers to pass the info on to his assistants, that someone will call me back.

Whether I am randomly assigned to do the mindful meditation classes for 8 weeks or am put in the control group, it's a win/win since i'll get paid $200, but I would rather like to take the classes. I just don't know how much more pushy I can be. I called the doc's assistants twice to try to move the ball along, and now I've spoken to the doctor. I mean, what more can I do. Are they that disorganized? The study begins in September.

I spent the $30 gift certificate from the library's summer reading program at my favorite garden nursery and enjoyed carefully browsing the succulents. I wound up with 4 more plants, one of them a beautiful Black Prince Echeveria. I would post pix, but that feature is broken right now.

I also bought a gorgeous PINK and green wandering jew. It's very striking.

My job search is in nowheresville. Lately I have become so pessimistic that I'm really starting to believe I will never find another job again, especially a f/t job. The market has changed. I am somewhat of a generalist, or "versatile with broad-ranging experience," if you prefer.

I don't know what I'm going to do, financially, or in my case more urgently, with healthcare coverage. I even went onto the website of Tractor Supply, which just finished building a new store in my town and is hiring. I don't think they would hire me and truth be told I would be so embarrassed if someone I knew saw me there.

Luther caught a live mouse last night and brought it into my bedroom before going into the family room with it. Blessedly, I was able to get it into a box fairly quickly with a broom and I released outside, near the road. But I was up all night because of it. I put some moth balls in the spot in basement where I think he catches them. The smell should repel both cat and mouse.

The eclipse was sort of a non-event for me. I waited too long to think about getting the glasses, so I didn't have them. I did go outside just to "experience" the somewhat greater darkness at around 2:30 pm and I watched coverage on TV, but that was about it. I did also take some photos of the yard just to see if I could detect any weirdness in the lighting. (I haven't looked at those photos yet.)

I've been doing a little better on my walking; when I do get out to walk, I've been better about making it a full hour. However, there's been this unpleasant clicking noise my right knee has been making and I'm wondering if my knee is wearing out. There's no pain, but something is rubbing, perhaps rubbing where it shouldn't.

For dinner tonight, I had a large salad and a few dried figs and a half a cantaloupe. Oops, I forgot to add the beans to the salad. I guess I'm still hungry. No wonder.

Brutal heat

August 20th, 2017 at 11:39 am

The AC guy came over yesterday to see why my central air hadn't been kicking on the last few days. It was a blown fuse. I'm embarrassed. He charged me $138 for a service call. My one-year warranty on their new install does not apply, he said, because the problem had nothing to do with their installation. I should have known to check the fuses but umm, the last time this happened was over 5 years and it didn't occur to me.

I guess he was right but I was still unhappy. I've decided that I won't have them come do the annual service next spring to make up for this visit. There are some people, I know, who don't routinely have their furnace or their AC services each year like I usually do. My mother, for instance, never had that done to my knowledge in 15 years, until one day it stopped working and then the bill was pretty big, over $1,000.

But I've got to clamp down on expenses. I have not been paying attention. As mentioned earlier, I just bought yesterday a 6 ft high aluminum step ladder on FB. They wanted $30, I paid $25. I have an immediate use for it as I want to scrape and repaint the front part of the little roof supported by the 2 pillars at my front entry. It's one of the few spots left on the house not covered by vinyl.

Yesterday was mostly a stay indoors kind of day until I saw dad for dinner. We decided to eat outside at the restaurant, which was a nice change and it was much easier to have a conversation.

You often assume that with age comes wisdom. That's not always the case. During our dinner, the subject of the eclipse came up and I reminded dad, don't look at the sun Monday. From there I discovered that while he agrees that "staring" at the sun will damage your eyes, he said that just looking at it quick "is okay." Which really rattled my cage. I mean, his eyes are already severely compromised by macular degeneration. Why would you risk further serious and permanent damage just to take a peek? I told him that was ridiculous and that's when he told me to stop talking. A nice way of saying shut up.

I've noticed in recent years something about my dad I never knew before.That he likes to take a contrarian view to a lot of things and question conventional wisdom. Regardless of whether it makes sense or not. Like, he doesn't dispute that global warming is happening but he questions whether it's caused by Man. He likes Trump. He's questioning his primary care doc's decision to send him to see a dermatologist about a bad rash (almost hive-like) he's had for weeks now. Dad doesn't feel that's the right kind of doctor so he hasn't gone to see him. Trying to reason with dad is usually pointless. He feels he knows better despite his lack of training.

At other times, he makes what seem to me snap judgments about things with no interest in learning more about the subject. Last night I was telling him how much I was enjoying the FB plant groups and I told him that people spend a lot of time there posting pictures of their plants and then other people admire them and ask questions about them. I went on to say that some people have hundreds of plants in their homes, that it's almost like hoarding.

From there he said he's noticed there are a lot of people who seem to have an obsession about things and launched into talking about something else I can't quite remember but I think it had to do with Barcelona. Not really sure there was a real comparison there, houseplants vs. protestors in the streets. I think he was talking about how people feel compelled to protest in the streets. Two totally different things.

Happy Friday

August 17th, 2017 at 04:28 pm

There are some problems with this site. I can't add images, and I see a post where I talked about winning a library raffle is totally gone.

I had a sad dream last night. I was in a small, rickety boat with my mother, and we needed to transfer into a larger boat for some kind of excursion.

To make the transfer, we had to jump down into a small, murky pond where a man was waiting to help us out. It looked dangerous and I wondered if my mother, at her age, should be doing this. It seemed like a literal leap of faith.

To my surprise, my mother jumped without any coaxing. She disappeared into the pond and I watched anxiously for her head to bob up. I waited and watched. Nothing happened. The seconds ticked by and I grew more anxious. She never emerged. I felt the panic rising in my chest.

To me, that dark, murky pond was a metaphor for Alzheimer's. I never really understood it. I often wondered what was going on inside my mother's brain, what she understood and what she didn't. What she felt. Not much more I want to say about this but it just makes me indescribably sad.

Yesterday I took a leisurely drive down to a town to pick up 2 pretty occasional tables I found on Facebook Marketplace. I plan to use them for my growing collection of succulents and cacti. They are mostly outside now, but I will need to make room for them for the winter. I posted about this yesterday but I see that post isn't here.

The tables are very pretty, black wrought iron legs with a black/white tile top with floral design. I wanted to post a photo of them which I'll do if they fix this website.

She had wanted $50 for the 2 of them. I bought them for $35, which I thought was more reasonable. On the way home, being in an area I'm not often in, I decided to stop for an early lunch at a Middle Eastern take-out place. I had a falafel eggplant sandwich. I also stopped at a Trader Joe's which was practically empty of shoppers! So unlike my local TJs.

Facebook Marketplace can be addictive. I'm going to have to be careful. Here's what I've bought there so far in just about a month's time:

1. Assorted perennials (very cheap)
2. The day bed frame
3. These 2 tables
4. Today, I bought a 6 foot aluminum Werner step ladder for $25. (They wanted $30). I have a rickety old wood stepladder that I only use when I absolutely have to becus it's not very stable. One of the few spots on the house not covered in vinyl is the front of the mini roof above the 2 pillars at my front entry. The paint is all peeling but I needed a tall ladder to deal with it. Now I have it. Smile
5. & 6. Pending: 5 very large terra cotta pots and a cute wire plant stand.

When I offered the $25 for the ladder, I added that i lived in town and could pick up immediately, knowing that sellers appreciate prompt pickup. She said one person was ahead of me who wanted it. About 10 minutes later, she said the other person fell thru and I could have it. I have to wonder if she just decided she'd rather have someone who said they'd pick up right away come get it so they could be done with it. I don't really feel the other deal fell through. Smile

There's no limit to what you can find there, although many people post these ridiculous prices on their stuff. Lots of dark, old furniture. Lots of refinishing "projects" that most people don't have time for. Those trendy dolls (forget the name) that used to be really hot collector items and which are now worthless. Old, out-of-repair things people believe are "antiques" and price accordingly.

I just don't think people today have as much interest in junky stuff. People are so busy working and they don't want to spend their limited free time trying to repair or fix something. Just my opinion.

I am very much in favor of reusing or recycling things, but with the price tags associated with much of this stuff, it doesn't make sense to spend that kind of money and then still have to spend more on reupholstery, repainting or refinishing.

I've also noticed that the vast majority of posted items get very little, if any response (unless, I suppose, they are sold later and the buyer and seller communicate via private message). So I've learned that buyers will tend to accept much lower prices.

Yesterday was a nice, dry weather day so I did the touch-up I wanted to do on the 2 pillars at my front entryway. I had missed a spot or two when I repainted them. They look sooooo much better.

I noticed some peeling paint under the front storm door and decided to scrape that away and repaint the wood threshold at the doorway. I figured it was a 15-minute job. My house is covered with vinyl now, so this is one of the very few areas with painted wood. I found some usable old paint, a neutral gray/brown, which will hold up better to people stepping on it than the off-white color that was there before.

But I had to prop the storm door open so it could dry and for that reason I couldn't paid the part behind the propped-open door. So that will be done in round 2. Which won't happen today as thunderstorms are expected. Patience.

I planted the butterfly weed and succulents I recently bought. Again, I would show you a picture, but...

Good news...my dad has an offer on his house on the Jersey shore and they offered full ask price of $200K. Realtor said it's because they lost out on a few other homes to other buyers who offered more. I guess the market there is pretty strong which surprises me a bit since the entire Jersey shore is supposed to be submerged in about 20 years due to global warming.

Realtor says buyer is pre-qualified so let's hope it's smooth sailing from here. REaltor emailed me the 13-page contract and dad's coming over to sign it; then I'll have to scan it page by page and email it back to realtor.

Tree talk and cousin visit

August 14th, 2017 at 06:39 pm

I had a fun time at my cousin's yesterday. She mentioned she'd have her son there with his family (wife and 2 boys) and a friend from work. Well, I was surprised, she had about 40 people there, all from the company where she works.

She had a TON of food, all catered. She introduced me to everyone as "my cousin, PatientSaver," and a lot of people said, Oh, I've heard so much about you. Smile

I enjoyed talking with a few of her friends, including one woman (and her husband) who seemed like a version of myself, becus she loves attracting birds, butterflies, bats and other critters to her yard.

I left around 6:30 pm and my timing got me home exactly when I wanted, just as it was turning dark at about 8 pm. No major traffic issues.

I saw some guys down at the bottom of the driveway today looking up at the trees and went down to talk to them. They're with the tree company the borough tree warden hired to take down 3 of the white pines. The owner spent quite a bit of time looking at them and walking around them with me. It won't be an easy job due to the power lines. I am going to have to sacrifice a dogwood to make room for their crane to access the trees. I guess it's not the end of the world; the tree has been ailing for years, though it does still flower each spring.

I guess I am more concerned about them using my driveway with their heavy trucks since I just had a new driveway put in last spring.

He said it would be better to do this job in the cold weather; better both for my driveway (harder asphalt will less likely be damaged) and also because much of the undergrowth will have died back after the frost and he would be able to see the ground and so on.

So it looks like it won't be done til November, which is a little disappointing but I guess I can wait, and it would still be ahead of any major winter storms, hopefully. It's a two or three-day job, he said.

I asked him to try to save some birch trees near the mailbox and another dogwood further in. They are going to chip what they can and haul away the big cut pieces that won't fit in the chipper. So yay for that.

I imagine everything will be really flattened once they get done, which means an opportunity for me to try to wrest control of this whole overgrown area next spring so I can more easily manage it. Maybe too much to expect I could plant grass in the area, but at least pull out any remaining invasive stuff like the bittersweet. There's poison ivy in there, so I'd have to be careful. Things grow so quickly around here that if you don't stay on top of it, it could be completely inaccessible after a single season.

Today I did a load of laundry which hopefully will dry outside...it's a bit muggy.

I also made a 3rd trip to a local woman who's selling perennials very cheaply via Facebook. I am getting into butterfly gardening more seriously, so I picked up 4 more butterfly weed plants and 2 scabiosa for just $15 total ($2.50 each)!

I had a scary experience today when I went to post a restaurant review on Yelp. I got a page that said do not turn off your computer. Call this number to restore your pages, etc. The scam that's been so much in the news. Of course, I shut down my computer immediately without going to any links or calling. Luckily, when I restarted, Windows did a lengthy scan and fixed whatever problem there was. Phew.

Accomplishments close to home

August 10th, 2017 at 10:58 pm

It's been a while, it seems, since I was able to say, "it's been a productive day." But it has been...

1. I repainted the two pillars at my front door (after bleaching and sanding yesterday). I wouldn't have thought this would make as huge a difference as it has. I guess there were a fair share of nicks and scuff marks and scratches and so on collected over the years, and it looks soooo much better.

Still, I need to do some touch-up tomorrow, but that will take 5 minutes. Just some spots I missed.

Not only that, but doing the pillars used no more than a half a quart, so I can return the 2nd quart I purchased at the hardware store. I couldn't believe the prices: $18 for one little quart of basic white paint. Geez.

I have oodles of half-used paint cans in the basement and I did find a gallon of "white" I planned on using for this project, but when I opened it up (it was about 8 years old) some rust from the rim fell into the paint. Not only that, but it was more of an ivory than a pure white, and that would be noticeable with the other white trim in front. So I had to make another trip to the hardware store this morning for new paint.

2. Fed neighbor's cat. One more day to go.

3. Another dump run. In the summer, I eat so much fresh fruit and I don't like this piling up and making a stink.

4. Applied for 2 jobs, inquired about a third via the same recruiter who got me my last contract job.

5. A load of laundry which I hung out to dry.

6. A woman's supposed to stop by tonight...soon....to hopefully purchase one or more Pyrex kitchenware I'm selling on FB. A glass casserole dish and a large mixing bowl, both with lids.

I decided I didn't need two identical glass casserole dishes (one is enough) and also don't need the extra large mixing bowl since I have a stainless steel one of that size plus two smaller glass Pyrex mixing bowls. A lot of people like Pyrex. All these bowls take up a lot of space in my limited cabinetry, especially now since I'm wanting to hide a small trash bin inside one of these cabinets. I hate looking at trash or recycling bins in the kitchen.

7. After she leaves, I hope to squeeze in a walk at local walking trail. Last time I was there, I remembered to bring a small tube of toothpaste and a paper towel so I could remove some graffiti on the glass display case at one end of the trail. It came off with a fair amount of scrubbing, but I needed more paper towels and a wet one to rinse all that toothpaste, which has just enough abrasive power to take off dried paint (little known fact). So I'd like to finish that job tonight. My little good deed for the day, which I'm happy to do because I know this trail very well and I guess I feel some pride of ownership. Hate seeing graffiti mar it.

My new phone system with built-in call blocking is working very well. I'm so happy to block calls, I now actually look forward to blocking spammers! Bring it on!

I have also downloaded a free app where I can do the same thing with my smart phone and get rid of the very pesky messages from who know where about sports stuff.

I decided to get a nice gourmet/gift box of nuts or cookies or other edibles and drop it off at municipal center as a thank you to the tree warden. He hasn't taken down the trees yet, but this will ensure he will. Smile I think I'll go to BJs and see what they have.

Great news about my trees!

August 8th, 2017 at 09:44 pm

I got a call from the borough tree warden today. He said can you meet me down by your mailbox in 5 minutes.

We talked about the white pine trees fronting the road. As you may have read in an earlier post, one of these humongus trees came down a few weeks back, just out of the blue, not during a storm or any kind of wind. I'm afraid one of these is going to hit my house someday.

He said he can take down 3 of the white pines closest to my house. They are the ones within striking distance if a pine broke off at near ground level, the way the other one did.

I thanked him sincerely. I am thrilled. This made my day, my week. He said he will hire a tree company they use and it should be done in about a month.

I am so happy!!!! If I had to hire someone myself to take 3 of these down, I estimate it would cost at least $4,000.

He did say these trees may or may not be on town property. He said it was close, and that to determine that, the town would have to hire a surveyor, and he doubted they would want to do that. So he's just going to go ahead and do it.

The other pines, he said, are definitely on my property. But at least those wouldn't threaten my home.

I am so happy.

Here's some views of the trees now:


This is the view from my front door. It's about 100 feet down to the road. The height of those pines are also about 100 feet. There used to be another white pine in between the two you see here, but that one came down about 2 or 3 years ago.


That's my mailbox on the left. The power lines are also on the left side of the road, so this overgrown area often results in power outages when branches fall. At the end of the road you can see a sharp curve to the left. My property continues after the curve, and there are additional white pines down there, but just a few.


You can see how over the years, the power company has trimmed the tree branches roughly in the middle, making these trees spindly and more prone to coming down in a strong wind.

He said they would probably cut everything along the power lines, which is fine with me except I asked them to save a birch growing close to my mailbox.

I realize I will lose a lot of privacy and maybe even notice the sound of traffic going by more, but things grow so quickly around here, I'm not too worried about that.

If they do clear everything, it would make it easier for me to get in there and clear more on my own; there is a dogwood or two buried in there I'd also like to save.

Advice to readers: Never plant white pines near the house or under power lines. They grow very fast and will soon become a problem because they are prone to breaking and the wood is soft.


It doesn't seem right, but it is...

August 8th, 2017 at 05:57 pm

Went to feed my neighbor's cat this morning. This is day 4 and I still haven't seen it (!) but the food is gone each day.

Did some grocery shopping, mostly at Aldi's but a few item at Caraluzzi's.

Went to the transfer station with trash.

I was totally surprised to learn I am eligible for a 2nd round of unemployment benefits. I almost feel embarrassed to talk about it because I don't feel I deserve it, but the rep assured me in this morning's call that I more than qualify.

As you may remember, I was laid off last July and then collected 6 months of benefits, ending in January of this year.

But then I worked 4.5 weeks at a contract job, and believe it or not the $9700 I grossed from that job will enable me to earn up to $16,000 in unemployment benefits for the next 6 months.

Yep, you read that correctly. It doesn't seem right, does it? Not only that, but my gross/net will actually be higher than what I got last year, by about $18 more a week.

This is great for my ongoing expenses as it was just this past month where I had to, for the first time since my layoff a year ago, believe it or not, transfer money from personal savings to my checking, just to cover ongoing expenses.

Because while most households could not live on unemployment benefits, I made it work, especially since I paid off my mortgage years ago. Property taxes and health insurance were my top 2 highest expenses. Then the little money I made from freelance writing earlier this year and that one contract job nicely replenished the coffers here.

However, the pressure is still on to find a job this year because I am fully expecting health insurance to be considerably more expensive when my COBRA runs out, compared to the $525/mth I'm paying now. That's assuming ACA is even available by then.

But I am immensely appreciative of these benefits. I thought at most I might qualify for half the benefit.

One remaining question: The contract job was physically located in CT and I live in CT, but the agency paying me was located in NY. Does that mean I need to file a CT and NY state tax return this year? I asked the payroll guy at that agency and he said no, what counts is where you live, but I'm not so sure that's true.

Laura, if you're reading this, tonight Dr. Greger is on PBS live and you can watch it from the NutritionFacts.org website!

This weekend I'll be traveling down to Jersey to my cousin's little party. I'll be meeting her son and his family for the first time (they're up visiting from FL), and her friend, L., will be there, who I met once already. It's about an hour-and-a-half trip. I'll stay I'm guessing for about 4 hours and then return home.

I am picking cherry tomatoes and cucumbers and enjoying them greatly in my salads. Wineberry-picking season is over, and the mulberries on my tree are 95% gone.

I have been trying to do more reading lately as my local public library offers several raffles with gift certificates to local shops and you get a ticket with each brief book review you write. I've written 3 so far and hope to add one more soon. The program ends this month.

What I'm up to....

August 5th, 2017 at 06:20 pm

I got word that a cousin on my mother's side passed away. It's too bad, because my other cousin and I were planning on seeing her to talk about family tree stuff. I would have gone to see her by now but the other cousin was too busy, and now it's too late. I feel sad; I hadn't even know she had liver cancer. The last time I saw her was when I was a little girl, though we did talk on the phone after my mother died. My mother was always fond of her.

Today's the last day of the awful humidity.

Yesterday I did drop off 4 more pieces at the main gallery which has most of my mother's stuff. Luckily, she didn't require me to take any home with me AND she surprised me with a small check ($87) for something that sold, but she had no idea what it was, only the price.

After that I hit Trader Joe's and stocked up on canned organic beans, which I eat daily, often in my salads.

There was a man there ahead of me who moved on with his cart, but then upon seeing me load of my cart with quite a lot of beans, couldn't resist talking to me I guess. He said he eats the garbanzo beans right out of the can, plain. I tried to give him other ideas for making them more tasty, to which he replied, Oh, that's beyond me. Really? Putting them in a burrito or in a salad is beyond you? Hmm. But hey, I must sound just as dumb when I'm talking to my auto mechanic or to any one of a number of home contractors.

I've been taking little walks around the block each night when it's much more comfortable outside. I ran into a neighbor and got a lot of news I didn't know about. That's why I love talking to neighbors. Smile

Today was the first day of feeding one neighbor's cat. She's not really a neighbor since I have to drive about 2 miles to her house. She warned me right before she left on her trip that there was a large hornet nest in the making under the light above her garage door. She offered to let me out of cat duty if I felt uncomfortable about it, but that would just be silly. (She was relieved.)

When I went over there, the hornets were buzzing around rather angrily, no doubt becus it's a cloudy day. I gave them wide berth as I walked to the back door. The cat was nowhere to be seen, but we expected that. I stuck around a while to see if maybe she would emerge, but she didn't. That may happen tomorrow or the day after.

I'll email a brief update to my friend after about day 3. It may be very brief: "No sign of your cat." PatientSaver.

She decided she wants to pay me $30 a day x 7 = $210! Which is way more than I would ever charge but of course the money is welcome and needed. And she's not even requiring me to change the litter boxes.

My local weekly newspaper, which has been in continuous circulation since the 1800s, has a column purportedly written by a cat. Smile I emailed the kitty word about the bobcat I saw in my yard recently and she reported on it in her column, except that she forgot to say what street I live on. Which would have been important since I live very close to Main Street and I think people would be surprised about a bobcat sighting so close to town.

I've been wasting far too much time on Facebook and Luminosity these days. Right now, for instance, I should get out for a walk since I'll be seeing dad for dinner tonight. To continue practicing Instagram, I'm going to start taking pix of my dinners out and posting to Instagram. Cus I am seeing a ton of social media writing jobs out there. Facebook I know. Instagram I know. (I used to post photos to Pinterest but that seems to be on the decline.) Twitter, I'm inactive on but I do have an account.

What I'd also like to do is download and start using some apps on my smartphone. I only have one app (!) which enables me to access my email far more quickly than I did before becus the PW is preloaded. Thank goodness this app presented itself to me becus i would otherwise not be aware it existed.

Ugh. So much for a walk. It's raining again.

This morning I sacrificed some much needed cabinet space in the kitchen so I could use one cabinet just for a small trash bin. Because I'm beginning to hate looking at the cluster of bins blocking my back kitchen door: the organics container, the paper/coardboard/newspaper container, the regular trash container (now really quite small) and the largest, the plastic and metal container).

I also put the paper bag full of paper waste in a small cubby at the top of my basement stairs, so that means I have just 2 containers to look at in the kitchen: organics and plastic/metal containers.

I suppose I could put the plastic/metal container in the basement, but I don't want to attract any insects. It's in a regular trash bin, the kind with a movable top. Plus it is convenient to throw stuff in there right there. I suppose I could do the same with the organics bin. It it a small vented container that fits inside a larger plastic container with a sturdy lock top but I do still wonder if the smell would attract ants or anything.


Here's a flag I'm trying to sell for $15. That's what a dealer told me it's worth, but it has an interesting history. I bought it years ago poking around some old antique place. It has only 48 stars, so that tells you it was made pre-1959, the year Hawaii and Alaska became states.

Death as a side effect

August 3rd, 2017 at 06:49 pm

So dad has chosen one of the 3 realtors I lined up for him to list his house. It's the one I liked the most. She wanted to list it this weekend but called to tell me (becus dad wasn't answering his phone) the place has fleas and will need to be treated. So she had to cancel the photographer coming out to do the photos.

I have suggested to dad umpteen times he'd find it easier to use a landline, but he's a tightwad and doesn't want to spend that much. So he uses this old clamshell with a tiny LCD screen he can't read and much of the time he must push the wrong buttons becus he claims he doesn't hear the phone ring when there's an incoming call and of course his mailbox is perennially full so no one can leave a message.

It's now even more of a problem now that realtors are trying to reach him, and so now they're calling me instead. Sigh. Problem is, I can't reach him either. It's really frustrating.

UPDATE: We haven't resolved anything about his driving. I'm not trying to tell him not to drive (altho that's what he thinks) but I would like to see him avoid driving the highways going down to Jersey, especially when I'm with him and could do the driving. We talked about it more today but he can be a hard ass.

He basically said it's your prerogative not to drive with me if you feel uncomfortable but it's my right to drive when I want. Which is obviously the case. I again tried to say that when we were together, why not let me drive since otherwise it's a higher risk if he drives. He acknowledged that he is going blind but said he still feels he can drive. This is what's really behind his defensiveness and belligerent attitude on this.

This is the father I remember from when I was growing up. I did't see him much (my parents divorced when I was 6) but when I did see him I was a little afraid of him. He was very strict and he had a short temper. Over the years, I thought he mellowed quite a bit.

This whole encounter has left me thinking he does not have very good conflict resolution skills. Normally you try to find common ground and go from there. There is room for compromise.

I know this isn't a nice thing to do, but a part of me wishes he would realize how much I do for him and then perhaps he'd be more willing to compromise instead of digging his heels in and refusing to budge.

We have dinner together every Saturday. I was thinking of skipping it this Saturday because he's been very abrasive and unyielding and testy and a 2nd talk today did nothing to clear the air. I realize skipping the dinner is really like trying to punish him becus I know he looks forward to these dinners. When you get older there are fewer things you can do but enjoying a good meal is one thing most people can do. So withholding this would accomplish nothing but I admit to being an imperfect human being and wanting to skip it.

Today's my birthday. He rarely remembers, but I wasn't expecting him to.

I spoke to my friend R. who is returning to Sloan Kettering. He has numerous marble-sized tumors in his body. They'd given him a choice of either starting chemo or enrolling in a clinical drug trial that does not involve placebos, only the drug.

Since he finds it easiest to pop a pill, that's what he chose, so he has to take the train and a cab early tomorrow and will be mostly spending the day getting various baseline scans done.

So yeah, upon reflecting on LIvingAlmostLarge's post today about appreciating what we have, all I need do is think about what my friend is doing, fighting for his life. Remarkably, he is in fairly good spirits.

Tomorrow I decided I will head up to a local gallery to swap out 3 or 4 pieces that reside there now for some summer-themed pieces my mother did with sailboats and so on. I checked with the gallery owner today and she was fine with that idea. I probably should have done this in June, but life got in the way.

Dad's came over earlier becus we have to again fax a court eviction order to the NJ electric company who claimed they didn't get it when we faxed it the first time. It's really annoying, making special trips to library, etc. etc. May try calling them again and seeing if we can scan and email it instead of fax. The tenant was behind on paying her electric bill to the tune of $2300.

Taking care of parents can be a full-time job.

Not much else going on. I went to another MS lunch-lecture, had a delicious meal and met many of the same MS people who I'd seen at the dinner the week prior. This month, I'll be going to 1 of these each week. I enjoy the chance to socialize and of course the great meals.

A little history on MS drugs. When I was diagnosed, they had exactly 3 drugs: the so-called ABC drugs: Avonex, Betaseron and Copaxone. Nearly 30 years later, they have about 14 drugs to choose from, and it's the drug companies that make these drugs that host these dinner lectures for MS patients.

They pay a local neurologist I'm guessing $1,000 or $1500 to give their PowerPoint presentation and the MS people get a free meal. Not bad for a half hour presentation and most leave as soon as they're done, not staying for the dinner. There are 3 or 4 neurologists in my area who constantly do these talks; no doubt they find it worthwhile to earn a little extra cash for very little time spent.

It kind of makes me feel like the drug company is the pimp, the doctor is the prostitute and we MS patients are the johns.

Sometimes the drug companies also pay an MS person to talk about their personal experience with MS and how wonderful the drug is. They pay to fly them out to these little dinners all across the country. It's like a regular gig for them.

At the last MS lunch I went to this week, the speaker was a guy who was a motorcycle fanatic. He used to race them. When he was diagnosed with MS, he had to give much of that up, but his did in fact ride his motorcycle to the luncheon from NH. The speaker at the dinner before that was from Chicago.

Only a few of the newer drugs are pills; the rest are the original, old injectables, like the Copaxone I take, or infusions you have to take in a hospital.

They are uber-expensive and thus pharma thinks it worthwhile to pay for a whole lots of dinners as a means of getting prospective users of their drugs to hear their message. Maybe they should just lower the price of the drugs.

I pray to god i would never need to use most of these drugs becus many come with some pretty serious potential side effects, like death, or require regular blood work to make sure your liver's not damaged or your white blood cell count doesn't drop too low.

So, um, no thanks, I'll stick with Copaxone, which is less effective than the other drugs in slowing disease progression (roughly 30% fewer relapses and brain lesions vs about 50% ) but I'd rather not have to worry about other health problems caused by these drugs.

Not much new on the job front. I've applied for a few jobs that I felt perfectly qualified for but never heard a word from employer. Actually, I was maybe a little over-qualified. A few ads even said "recent college grad ok." So maybe that's their preference.

I contacted the DOL becus there's a possibility I may qualify for a new round of partial benefits based on the contract job I had in May/June. I feel like kind of a loser even putting in for that, but I have paid into the system for 30 years.

But I watch the news daily and see how Trump's threat to withdraw funding for ACA subsidies has thrown the insurance market into chaos, with the 2 remaining health insurance issuers considering pulling out of the market entirely. This is really problematic, becus they estimate prices will rise by 20% in 2018, so the subsidies are needed for low- to moderate-income people.

Really pissed at my father

July 31st, 2017 at 10:47 am

It's 6 a.m. Right now, I should be winging my way down to the Jersey shore with my father but instead I'm sitting at home, wondering what happened. My father's left for the 3-hour trip without me.

The plan was he would be here at 6 a.m. and we'd drive down together. By now he knows I will nearly always say when we go out somewhere that I want to drive. And he nearly always lets me, no big deal.

By saying I want to drive, it means I don't have to say, dad, it's not safe for you to drive with macular degeneration. You can't see the face of someone 10 feet away from you who says hello, but you feel it's perfectly okay to make the 3-hour trip (1 way) down the Jersey shore.

I'm not saying he should give up driving entirely. He can get around town well enough. But um, driving down I-684, the Saw Mill Parkway, over the Tappan Zee Bridge, I-287 to the Garden State Parkway covers some of the most heavily congested roadways in the Northeast.

When I told dad I wanted to come on this trip (he has an 11 am appointment to see the court constable and then I set up appointments with realtors for 1, 2 and 3 pm), we agreed he'd be here at 6 a.m. to pick me up.

I asked him if he had an alarm clock. He said no. I asked him if he wanted me to call him. He said yes. I asked what time, and he said 5:15 a.m.

So I got myself organized last night for a quick early morning departure, set 2 alarm clocks and went to bed early. I called him at 5:15 a.m. He did not pick up. It went into voice mail. I called another 4 times and the same thing.

Now what? This happens all the time. He uses an old clam shell phone he doesn't really know how to use and half the time he doesn't hear the phone ring.

I debated having to get in the car and drive the 15 minutes over there to wake him up. I could have called my sister and asked her to walk over there to wake him, but we're not dealing with each other and I wasn't sure she'd be awake that early.

I decided to just stay put, realizing if we got a late start we'd hit all kinds of traffic, making an already long drive even longer.

Close to 6 am dad called me from the road and said he'd be here in 5 minutes.

He pulls up in my driveway and I go out with a box of cleaning supplies and some pruning tools I wanted to bring along. With his vision issues, he couldn't really see a dirty countertop or smudged walls. He had his cleaning woman there but I'm sure she didn't do everything.

Since we wouldn't be returning to CT til tonight, I figured I'd make myself useful.

In the driveway, dad's sitting in the driver's seat and tells me to get in. I tell him I want to drive. He says, get in. Why he chose to dig in his heels this time, I don't know, but honestly, there was this time he was driving us south on the Saw Mill Parkway, which is an old 2-lane, twisty highway that has way more volume than it was built for.

The exit ramps onto the highway have no acceleration lane; people have to come to a complete stop and wait to cut in. That's why dad likes to drive int he fast lane on that road.

It's a dangerous road, and this time dad was driving i was really fearful and afraid for my life. He can't read the odometer and so he doesn't know how fast he's going but he tells me he just keeps up with the traffic. Well, the traffic always goes way too fast. He's like inches away from the guard rail, swerving around these curves. There was nothing I could do but grit my teeth and hold on, and I silently told myself I wouldn't do that again.

So, back to me and dad in the driveway. We have a standoff. For whatever reason, he does not want to yield, and I don't want to drive 3 hours with him because I feel it's unsafe. He says I don't have time, get in the car or I'm leaving. I stood and looked at him and he started to leave. I walked back in my house, really disgusted and angry.

Dad is 84 but you just can't tell him what to do. I'm angry, because I've gone out of my way to help in so many different ways, and then he pulls something like this. I cater to him in every conceivable way, and I am always thinking of his best interests.

He doesn't want to admit there are things he can't, or shouldn't, be doing anymore. Driving in particular is a huge thing that gives him independence. I get that. He doesn't want to hear me tell him it's not safe to make that drive anymore.

I am fuming. I am also worried, realizing that with the last realtor appointment ending around 3:30 or 4 pm, his choices for getting home will be either to leave just in time for massive rush hour traffic, or wait til after rush hour and drive home in the dark. Which is what we would have done, except that I would have been driving. Or at least, I planned on driving. Maybe he will spend the night and return tomorrow. I have no idea.

Getting religion

July 30th, 2017 at 01:33 pm

July has not been a pretty month for me. My expenses exceeded income by the largest amount ever since my layoff a year ago. I guess it was bound to happen, but I admit to being fairly lazy about reining in my expenses.

I've done such a good job of that during previous unemployment periods but perhaps I've been lulled into a sense of complacency being so close to retirement. Not smart! There are so many expenses between now and then!

My total expenses for the month of July came to $2,305, an amount I'd consider quite manageable were I working f/t at even the lowest paying job.

But now it's wiped out much of the $3,000 or so in savings I managed to accumulate YTD, mainly due to the 1 month I worked for that high-paying marketing agency job in May-June.

My income in July was a paltry $229, earned from my first focus group of the year, some credit card rewards and the sale of a few items on Facebook Marketplace.

But let's take a deeper dive into my July expenses, shall we? This always helps motivate me.

Property taxes: I pay twice a year but it comes out to $492 a month.

COBRA: $520. This hurts and it will get much worse in January if I don't find a job.

Car tax ($271) and registration ($90) = $361. Ouch. All required to keep my car legal on the road. The registration is good for 3 years I think. The tax is an annual thing but slowly gets smaller as the car depreciates. This is one disincentive to buying a new car in Connecticut.

Internet/phone: $70.

Electric: $84. This is higher than my pre-central air summer bills that usually came in around $65 or so, but is so worth it when I ran the AC about a week or so during high humidity days here. I think these higher summer electric bills are just going to be a new fact of life.

"Household" This is a catch-all category for expenses that don't seem to fit elsewhere, and it came to $94 this month, including $52 for the used day bed frame and new slats for it and $20 to renew my computer anti-virus protection another year. (So glad I shopped this price instead of accepting the $55 auto renew from McAfee!!!)

Clothing: $3 for a cami top at Walmart.

Dining out: $55. Should be $0 when I'm not working, but $33 of this was splitting meal costs during my recent visit with a friend in Jersey.

Entertainment: $26. Again, by rights, this should be $0 but most is coffees i bought my dad after our weekly dinners; just doesn't seem right to let him pay for it when he routinely pays for very pricey dinners out every week. Also included $10 for Amazon books, totally not needed, and $11 on food at that vegan festival I went to recently. That $8 vegan hot dog was way overpriced and I should have resisted.

Gardening: $149, which includes 3 bi-weekly lawn mowings. Usually not that high.

Cat: $93 for food and litter. Now that we're down to one cat, I hope to see these bills come down a bit more.

Food: $322. A big disappointment. Seems way high for one person. I shop Aldi's as much as possible but this does include $16 on 1 cucumber and 1 cake at the organic farmers market...too much.

Gas: $36.

I need to get religion on my expenses again.

I used to be so strict with myself. Because once again, I wonder if I will ever find another f/t job.

Overall, my net worth, including the house, stands at $1,222,215. It's still up since June 1, and it's up $7,800 this month alone. Still, that's all due to the stock market and I feel uneasy relying on that to boost my bottom line since it can change at any time.

I am truly loath to return to the higher education freelance job again. I put her off the week the tree came down on my property. Shortly after that they suspended assignments to catch up on backlog, but they've again sent us new detailed instructions and critiques and I just don't feel the energy to jump through their hoops for a $15/hr job where I get so little in return. It was a ton of work for little payback.

It's just that if I basically quit that job, I'll need to remove it from my resume becus while I consider it a relatively unimportant job, prospective employers will want to call them for references since it is the most recent thing I've done. And I wouldn't want my contact there telling someone I quit; that would open a can of worms.

But without that job, I would need to account for my time since my layoff. Aside from the 1 mth contract job in May/June, I suppose I could say I've just been doing random freelancing without specifying with whom and not spelling that out on my resume.

Anyway, I do hereby pledge that I, PatientSaver, will revert to my uber-penny pinching ways for the month of August.

Things going on...

July 28th, 2017 at 09:29 pm

Back last night from my trip to the Jersey shore to visit a friend. We had a nice time but as usual, it was a very long ride. Since dad wanted to clean up a little at his house (the renters left a lot of trash, a spare tire in the yard, etc), we drove down together. He dropped me at K.'s house and he went on to his place.

On the way home we stopped at dad's attorney's office to see if he thought it worthwhile to pursue civil action against his evicted tenant, who stole about a dozen items, including a washing machine.

The attorney concluded that since the tenant doesn't appear to have any assets, it would be pointless to spend the money to pursue the matter, but we have 6 years to file a civil suit if, for instance, my dad learns she suddenly has money. Yeah, we could garnish her wages, at maybe $50 a month, not really worth it.

The attorney agreed the theft was very "in your face," since she took so many things, but it just wasn't worth it for dad to pursue. You have to choose your battles.

So now dad has decided to sell the house, as 3 of his kids including me have been urging him to do.

Today we scheduled to have the local constable come next week to execute a lockout. My dad had skipped this step thinking it wasn't necessary since he has an alarm system on the house if she tried to come back, but that's not really the point. It provides legal protection for my dad and the attorney said he really needs to do it.

After that phone call, we settled on 3 realtors we found online and I scheduled for all 3 of them to come look at the house, so they can do a CMA, on the same day dad is down there to do the lockout.

I'm not really looking forward to immersing myself in all this, after having sold my mother's condo, but of dad's 4 kids, I'm the only one not working. It's quite a bit harder doing it from a distance since I'm in CT and the house is in Jersey and I'm trying to minimize the number of times my dad drives down there.

His 2 sons are in Jersey (about 1.5 hours north of Dad's house), so if there's an opportunity, I'm going to ask them to help out with specific tasks if something comes up they can handle more easily than I.

I suppose it's better we try to dispose of the house now while dad is still alive becus I don't even know if he has named any of us as executor of his estate, and that is the person who would have to do all this if he wasn't around.

I haven't decided whether to go with dad when he goes down to meet them all. He hasn't asked me to, but I do feel better doing the driving. And I really have nothing going on that day anyway.

He plans to leave very early that morning since the meeting with constable is at 11 am and it's a 3-hr drive. To avoid leaving during peak rush hour, he plans to leave earlier, I'm guessing around 6 am.

While he dealt with the constable and realtors, I'm sure there would be things for me to do, cleaning or decluttering the garage, for one.

Then, instead of spending another overnight (and leaving Luther on his own again), we could have a leisurely dinner down there around 6 and hit the road for return trip home at 7 pm, after the worst of rush hour, getting us home around 10 pm. It would be driving in the dark, which is not my preference, but it would get us home sooner.

Tomorrow I scheduled with a local hospital for both me and dad to go for free skin cancer checks.


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