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Friday's here...

July 21st, 2017 at 05:41 pm

I learned today I will not be getting an in-person interview with the Catholic high school.

I went to a local garden center to practice taking photos with my smart phone and a video as well, and then transferring them directly to Instagram. It is super easy, and the videos are something I want to do more of, when I have something interesting to shoot.

Here are some of my smart phone photos;





I was shooting another video around my yard while walking down the driveway toward a copper bird bath I have. I was shocked to see a large, dead garter snake there on the drive. It must have just died because when I saw it there was only one fly and 10 minutes later there were many.

I looked it over and saw no injuries, so I don't know what happened to it. I'm afraid it could have been the baby garter I saw come out from underneath a board my carpenter was going to cut for my built-in bookshelves back in May or June.

I just am a little puzzled about its death. I don't use any kind of pesticides or herbicides here. And I like having them around to eat mice. And its mother was killed by Luther in the basement in the early spring.

I've begun eating a few ripening cherry tomatoes from my potted plants, and the string beans are winding down. I've decided it's not worth it planting string beans in pots unless you really plant a lot of them, because I can only plant a handful, not even enough to cook with dinner, so I tend to eat them raw.

Deadbeat Tenant Finally Gone

July 20th, 2017 at 06:39 am

My father's deadbeat tenant is finally gone, after a year of delays and the eviction process. She started paying her rent late right from the get go,and it all ended up with her stiffing my dad for 3 months' rent and I'm afraid to know how much money in legal expenses he had to pay his lawyer. I'm guessing the lawyer charged around $300 an hour so it wasn't cheap.

The woman, a waitress, should never have rented the house in the first place as she couldn't afford it but was too stupid to realize that. Or m aybe she did. She sweet-talked my dad who was naive enough to think a conversation and a hand shake could seal the deal without a credit check.

What really galls me is that when she left, she and the other people living there stole alot of stuff that didn't belong to them. Two mirrors, a mahogany chest, 2 Ikea shelf units, 2 deep sea fishing rods my dad had left for their enjoyment, and a washing machine.

He's driving down there today for a doctor's appointment and plans to file a police report on the theft. I typed up the list for him yesterday because his handwriting has deteriorated due to his vision problems. It's doubtful he'll recover anything. Or maybe his lawyer, better versed in landlord/tenant law, knows what to do. I'd like to see her prosecuted just for the satisfaction of it.

My sister, half brother and I have all told my dad he should sell the house (on the Jersey shore) instead of trying to rent it again. The house is 2 short blocks from the Toms River and will probably be underwater in 20 years.

He had decided not to sell it originally because he wanted to get $200K for it and his realtor told him prices had dropped and $185K was more realistic.

Most of the places I checked for prices online indicated $210K and that was erroneously listing it as having 1 bath when it has 2. So I'll have to work on dad and have him "interview" 3 realtors after they provide CMAs.

In other news....

My phone interview with the Catholic high school went "okay." If she hasn't realized already, she will at some point realize that while I'm a great writer, my weakness as far as this job goes is that I don't have a ton of experience analyzing social media performance and aren't familiar with the social media out there. I know Facebook very well and of course I blog here, but I just don't have time to post on Twitter, Instagram, You Tube, etc. so I'm less familiar with those although I did yesterday create an Instagram account and post a few photos there with commentary. It was pretty easy.

I should know by tomorrow if I will get an in-person interview.

I did in fact check out my local BJs and Costco yesterday for p/t jobs becus they are some of the few places that offer health insurance to part-timers. The job openings they have would include customer exposure; I was wanting to be a back room stocker becus to be perfectly honest, I'd be embarrassed if someone I knew saw I was working there. I'm sure they would assume I was "desperate" for work and it would just be really embarrassing. I shouldn't care, but I would.

In the meantime, there is another p/t job I plan to apply for, as a marketing copywriter. It's in an affluent area; perhaps I could make a concession on some of the paycheck in exchange for getting on their health plan?

I've heard that you have to work "full time," or at least 30 hours, to be eligible for health insurance, but then how do certain companies like Costco and Starbucks and Home Depot offer coverage to part-timers? Is this a federal law or something?

After my phone interview yesterday, dad needed help faxing the eviction court order to the NJ electric company so they would not turn the power off. Apparently the former tenant also owed them a lot of money and they want to make sure my dad is who he said he is. So I drove to his place, picked up the court order and the fax number, told him to stay home cus it was too hot outside, drove to his local library and paid their stupid fee for the fax. Then I drove back to dad's to return his paperwork and went home.

I am glad to help him, but I would be even gladder to see him unload the house becus being an out of state landlord is not easy for anyone, let alone an 84-year-old. He makes that drive too many times and he really shouldn't be driving at all with his vision problems. It's a 3-hour drive along some of the Northeast's most congested highways, in the area west of the Hudson River.

We are transitioning from letting dad make his own decisions to gently coaching, prodding and persuading him to do it a different way.

When he returns from Jersey tomorrow, I'm going to share with him the favorable online market value prices I found and urge him to get the house on the market this season, because it it goes unsold by October he will likely still have it until next spring.

A competent realtor can help get the place ready. Dad has already hired a housekeeper to clean up the inside as well as someone to clean up the outside. The security alarm will be reinstated tomorrow; it was something the tenant didn't want to pay for even though my dad was paying half the bill.

I had told him to also have the locks rejiggered because she still has the keys, but at least for now if she tries to return tomorrow, the alarm will go off and police will arrive. I figure she's stolen as much as she wants but you never know.

Baltimore Orioles and robins are still hanging out in my mulberry tree. The berries are 95% gone but there are plenty of berries on my nearby massive viburnum. They are all red; it took me years to realize that the berries are actually black when fully ripe, but the birds picked them off long before they turned black.

I startled the doe early this morning who arrived to get her share of fallen apples when she spotted me picking wineberries for my breakfast cereal. She snorted her displeasure after disappearing in the cover of the undergrowth but returned a short time later to munch away on her favorite summer food.

The heat wave won't break til Sunday so until then I'm going to mostly hunker down at home and not go anywhere.

My 30-something Chinese sister-in-law easily found a job weeks after being laid off by a pharmaceutical company. She was making a six-figure salary traveling to various hotels and putting on a PowerPoint presentation to 4 or 5 doctors at a sitting about her company's drug and answering the doctor's questions.

She got multiple offers and took one she said she couldn't refuse becus it was "a ton of money." She'll work at home 2 days a week and travel an hour commute on the other 3 days. My dad told me this. I have to admit to being jealous and feeling totally inadequate in my job search.

Phone interview tomorrow

July 18th, 2017 at 01:12 pm

Tomorrow I have a phone interview lined up with a Catholic prep school (high school) about 35 minutes from here. They're a well-respected school, and I had to write a fictitious press release and email on one of three topics they provided.

I spent a lot of time on my cover letter and the assignments, and it was worth it since they want to talk to me.

I don't have an educational background but I have "dabbled" in education at 3 jobs writing about college-related topics or marketing student loans while at the bank. There are certain job responsibilities that could be a stretch for me: using data analysis to drive design and strategy, "demonstrated knowledge of" Instagram, Google Analytics, video. Everything else I could do.

It might be a more junior level job but i don't care too much about salary. Well, I do, of course, but I'm more focused on affordable health insurance.

Tonight I'm going out to a free dinner.

Today I've stayed inside all day...too hot outside. Didn't accomplish much but I will start prepping for the phone interview tonight.

Currently bleach cleaning the mildewy mat that sits under my dish drainer. Did a little reading. Wasted time on the computer. That's about it!

Daybed...done

July 17th, 2017 at 11:59 am

The wood slats for day bed were delivered by Amazon this morning. I got the "heavy duty" slats which cost a little more but I think were worth it.



While the slats seem sturdy, not flimsy. they are about a half inch too narrow. I knew that before I ordered. There are 2 bars running down either side of the day bed, and the new slats are supposed to lay across them. While they do, they don't extend all the way up to the edges, so if, say, I bounced around on the bed, I'm thinking it's possible one or more of the slats would fall through if enough weight was thrown on them.

I plan to sleep here on very warm nights so I'll have to see how it goes, but otherwise, I'm happy with them.

Here's how the bed looks all made up.



Yeah, I know, the pillows don't match but I don't really care right now. I don't get that many visitors. So what do you think, does it look any less "bed-like with this new frame?"

In other news...

An acquaintance of mine here in town has asked me to cat sit for her for about 8 days in August. Of course I'm happy to do that as it takes no time at all and she always paid me a ridiculous amount of money.

I am no longer able to participate in the 2nd focus group I'd hoped to do this week. I guess I wasn't exactly what they were looking for. Part of me doesn't care as it was an hour's drive down there.

I went to BJs and somehow spent $120. I shouldn't have bought Fancy Feast there becus I see Walmart's price is cheaper by a buck or two.

I spoke to our borough's tree warden about the tree that came down Saturday and my fear that any of the other white pines fronting the road could do the same. Since there was no storm, no wind, no rot and the tree ripped off about 2 feet above ground (it was not uprooted, in other words), my fear is that the same thing could happen with one of two directly in front of my house; if it fell the wrong way, they could directly hit my house.

I wasn't as concerned about this before because I imagined that if a BRANCH of one of the pines came down, it would fall near the tree, but now that I've seen that the entire tree could come down at nearly ground level, without even a breeze, now that's scary.

So he said some of those trees would be on town property. (I thought it was state property, but it is town.) I explained my fears and said that the utility company just keeps pruning the trees, making them spindly in the middle and top heavy.

He's going to send someone out to look at the trees and he said they MAY be able to take down one or two of the white pines. That made me jump for joy. He said he couldn't promise anything, but would see. The borough has a $75,000 budget for trees and he said that money can be gone in a month. The town at large has its own budget.

I would be thrilled to be rid of those 2 trees becus white pine in particular regularly sheds heavy branches or, like on Saturday, the whole tree comes crashing down. The tree warden said they are "self-pruning." Crossing my fingers on this one.

There were a number of things I wanted to do outside today but it's very warm out. And Wed-Friday will be a heat wave ....90+ temps. I had wanted to wash the exterior of my downstairs windows, which could really use it. I need to cut back brambles, pick wineberries, and use the trimmer on the lawn.

Tree down, no power

July 16th, 2017 at 04:20 am

I lost power for over 12 hours yesterday.

I was lying in bed at 6 a.m. when I heard the telltale sound of ripping wood. There was an interval of 3 or 4 seconds during which time I wondered where the tree was falling before I heard a resounding crash.

I got up, looked out the window but nothing seemed amiss in my yard. It was a large white pine, one of many fronting the road, and it had pulled the lines down with it.

I went to my office and rifled through my desk to find the emergency number for the utility company so I could report it. Our local hook and ladder company was there almost immediately; I'd say may be 5 or 10 minutes time. I got dressed and walked down my driveway to see if I could see where the tree came down. There was a volunteer fireman standing there; he had already blocked off the road with some yellow tape, one end tied to my mailbox post, and a neighbor of mine, too lazy to walk an eighth of a mile, was there also in his pick-up to see what's what.

I looked to my left and there you could see a very large white pine down across the road. I didn't take pix until this morning, after they cut up all the branches blocking the road.







This is my property, although technically, the state owns about 10 feet in from the road. I was a little annoyed they left this massive trunk just sitting there on the edge; no doubt they had a lot of work to do. Maybe the town will come by later and cut some of it up.

Interestingly, despite the racket caused by chainsaws, the doe that is so fond of fallen apples from my tree still came down that morning, as is her habit, to find the little green gems.

I don't know why it doesn't look as impressive in the photos as it does in person; maybe you don't get a sense of scale in the photos, but I can tell you, it was one monster-sized tree!

I called my neighbor behind me to see if they had lost power. They did. I went out to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast, then came back home. Later I called the utility company to see when I could expect the power back on, and they said 1 p.m. Well, that time came and went. If I had known it was going to be longer, I would have bought ice for the fridge. I called later in the afternoon and they said 5 p.m. Well that time came and went also.

I left the house at 5:30 p.m. to meet my dad for dinner and when I came came around 8:30, I finally had power.

The last time I talked to the utility company, I asked him what I was going to do about all the ruined food in my fridge, not really expecting any kind of answer. He said I might be able to file a claim for it on Monday. I have never heard of this before.

Being vegan, I have no meat, cheese, dairy or eggs to spoil. The stuff in freezer should be ok. What's in the fridge is mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, an uncut whole watermelon, a few bottles of beer and condiments. I'm unsure if I can drink the soy milk.

The thing I worry about most is other trees crashing down in the future. In a way we were lucky this didn't happen in January. There are probably 6 other white pines in the same area along the road, just as large, and of course the power lines are directly underneath them.

What's alarming to me is that this tree was shorn off close to its base and it was NOT at all windy and there was no storm. We did have a lot of rain during the past week or so but that appears not to have been a factor since this tree just ripped away from the trunk about a foot or two high. I don't even see any rot. It appears the sheer weight of the tree pulled it down. It's scary.

If other trees closer to my house were also shorn off close to their base, they could easily hit my house. These trees are technically on property owned by the state (they own a certain frontage from the road), but while they will prune branches away from the power lines and come cut them up when they fall across a road, they and the town only take down dead trees or trees already fallen. To me they pose a hazard. I've talked to the tree warden about it before and that's what he told me. I'm not sure I'd even have the legal authority to have them cut down at my own expense.

Making progress on life's minutae

July 14th, 2017 at 09:48 am

The neighbor came by last night and in a jiffy helped me move in the day bed. It takes up a bit more space than just the twin bed. Can't wait to get the new slats delivered on Tuesday so I can put my family room (and the day bed) in order.

I did the banking focus group last night. Got a $125 Visa debt card which I'll use on groceries. It was a very interesting focus group where we learned about all sorts of initiatives this bank is considering to better reflect its brand of being community first.

I loved many of their novel ideas. I would love to talk about them here but we were all asked not to discuss.

It's a bank with the name of my hometown in it; the bank is doing quite well in my region but by most measures is quite small. I much prefer small banks like this one to the mega bands that got caught up i the credit crisis (Citi, Wells Fargo, BOA, etc).

I am with another CT bank that is not national. I have considered switching to the smaller bank but was always concerned their limited ATM locations could be a problem if I needed to access one. Plus it's a hassle to move a checking account.

Just finished up lunch: a huge green salad with my homemade (oil-free) tahini maple dressing and a bowl of antioxidant-rich cherries.

It's near impossible to find organic cherries around here, so I did soak them in a saltwater bath for 10 minutes, which is supposed to remove surface pesticides. I try to do the same thing with the blueberries I buy, which again I rarely find organic. But they're so cheap at Aldi's at $1.69 for a whole pint that I've been enjoying them weekly this summer.

Which reminds me, I should just buy more, soak, rinse, dry and then freeze them for winter. I do also buy frozen organic berries at BJs in bulk. But I have been unable to decide which is healthier: to buy organic frozen strawberries and raspberries, or non-organic wild blueberries, which are said to have a higher antioxidant content than regular blueberries but again, aren't organic.

Plans for the weekend: Dinner with dad tomorrow; my friend R. over for a beer in the shade on Sunday. Simple pleasures. Laundry. Washing all my downstairs exterior windows, which are quite dirty.

Volunteered for a healthcare study

July 13th, 2017 at 10:09 am



I saw something in the paper where a local hospital is recruiting people for a study looking at whether mindfulness meditation improves insomnia. It's a 6-month study. You have to wear a FitBit, which you then get to keep after completing the study, and if you are in the group getting the mindfulness classes, I will have to travel weekly to the hospital (30 minutes 1 way) for classes for 14 trips. If i am randomly assigned to the control group, I'll travel only 4 visits.

Either way they'll pay me $200, i get free mindfulness meditation classes in the one group, something I'm very interested in, and I get the FitBit. If not, i get no MM classes but I still get the money and the FitBit. Smile

There is a chance I get a job before the study is over, but I'm willing to take that chance. This study is specifically for people who have MS, and the doctor running the study is someone I've seen speak often at the dinner lectures I attend whenever I get the chance.

So it sounds interesting. I qualified for the initial phone screening and now I need to go in for the in-person screening sometime after next week. I wish it were a bit closer, but if I'm not working, once-a-week trips are not a big deal.

Here's a new planter I created with an old teapot I've had for ages....I just drilled drainage holes in the bottom and stuck in a blue/green sedum lookalike and some hens and chicks.



Speaking of hens and chicks, this is the first time they've bloomed for me, in this overcrowded pot!



I found a buyer for a little McCoy teapot I was selling. Even after I found a small chip inside the lid, she said she still wanted it, although i reduced the price by $3. I'm meeting her tomorrow for the handoff. $20 for something I've had forever; I've always liked the turquoise color, but it's time to give it a new home. I only have room for so many tschotkes.

I was going to go to BJs today but the weather is so oppressive I think I'll just stay home. I'll go tomorrow instead. I LOVE my central air. When I go outside to get the mail or whatever, WOW what a difference in air temp when I come back inside. How did I ever endure Connecticut's humid summers without central air for 20 years????

My neighbor is coming over tonight to help me move that day bed! I'll be getting the new slats next Tuesday from Amazon. There's a large ugly stain on the carpet which I can't replace now while I still have a cat. I'd love to hide it by putting the day bed OVER the stain but then it would sit a good 2 feet out from the wall and not sure what to put behind it. I don't have any large plants.

I released 2 more black swallowtail butterflies this morning. Just 2 more remain.

80% of the mulberries have been eaten; birds are chomping on unripe berries only to drop them on the ground.

I have lost or misplaced my BOA Better Balance rewards card for the SECOND time now. They replaced it once already but i don't want to ask for a replacement card again since i think it messed up my rewards. The way this card works is that if you charge something (even just 1 thing) to the card each month, at the end of the quarter, you get a $25 credit. So if you do that consistently, that's $100 back each and every year.

It occurred to me I won't have to call to get a new card because I logged this card number in as a payment method for my monthly telephone/Internet bill. In the meantime, I can keep looking for the card. I'm sure it will turn up somewhere, just like the first one did after I'd already cancelled it!

Doings

July 12th, 2017 at 04:04 pm

1. My neighbor, who had agreed to he move the day bed into the family room tonight after he got out of work, called to say he couldn't make it as the school bus he was driving broke down and he was stuck with a pile of kids onboard waiting for help. He will be here tomorrow night, same time.

2. Met a woman who bought an old cordless phone set from me.

3. Stopped at nearby Aldi's and got some watermelon and other fruit.

4. Cleared a path to family room and moved existing twin bed out of the way.

5. Applied for a faraway job.

6. Turned down a friend's invitation to go on kind of an aimless road trip this Sunday, but invited him over for a cold beer in the shade instead. He accepted.

Sadly, a black swallowtail butterfly that emerged from pupa this morning had a damaged wing. It clearly could not fly. I could not bring myself to destroy it and instead tried to feed it a bit of kiwi. I put it in the shade and decided to let nature take its course.

I had a lentil/walnut/rice burger for lunch.

Tomorrow I hope to get that day bed in here and then right after that will leave for a focus group in town on banking. $125.

Here it is only July and Money magazine has already started pestering me with renewal notices. I won't be. It was cheap, but I can just as easily read it online.

Monday achievements

July 11th, 2017 at 02:00 pm

I accomplished very little.

1. More thought and research about my daybed, leading to a $30 purchase of replacement slats at Amazon. My cost will be $0 since I sprang for an Amazon Prime credit card which immediately applied the $40 upfront bonus. Smile

So this is cheaper than springing for the metal bed frame, but also means it will be lower sitting than the former. Ultimately, I decided I didn't want to see the 6 ugly metal legs of the metal bed frame underneath the wood frame. Praying I don't have to cut slats to fit as some reviewers did.

2. Made a trip to the transfer station. Boy, was it busy.

3. Reluctantly informed my contact at the freelance higher education website I was again available for work. I had told her I needed a month long hiatus when I did that well-paying contract job, which ended in June. I've already done enough work for them that I'll have to do the extra self-employment forms at tax time, so this won't change anything in that regard, and I do need to generate some working cash to pay the bills. It's just such a big time suck and pays very little. Grumble. I got official word that I did NOT get the nonprofit job I'd interviewed for. Back to square one.

4. Rinsed out some buckets for organic recycling and cat litter.

5. Folded and put away some laundry I line dried yesterday.

6. Stopped at library to pick up some book review forms. Each summer, you can write very brief book reviews of whatever you've read (a paragraph or two) and enter your reviews in a half dozen different boxes for gift certificates to local shops.

7. I wrote one book review and hope to do a few more before the winners are announced end of August.

8. Posted on FB selling sites some photography equipment and knick-knacks which I doubt will sell but one never knows.

9. Did a teensy bit of editing for a freelance client.

Plan to call my neighbor tonight about moving the daybed frame.

Contemplating making a lentil walnut burger for dinner.

Daydreaming about daybeds

July 11th, 2017 at 11:55 am

Thank you all for the really great ideas you've given me for turning the $20 half a bunk bed into a more attractive day bed than I have now.

I was relieved to learn I could replace broken slats and was excited to know I could have them cut to fit at a big box store.

I haven't gotten around to confirming that with Lowes or Home Depot, but the easier route for me would be plunking down $50 for a standalone metal frame, not unlike a cot, that would actually fit inside the wood frame I just bought.

I did all the measurements several times and the 38 x 74 x 14 frame would indeed fit. However, the wood frame I bought stands quite low.

That is why I've decided to go with purchasing a metal frame rather than replacing the slats. The metal frame stands 14" high, so combined with my 7.5" high mattress, the seat/daybed would only be 21" high, which my research tells me is about average for couch height as well as bed height.

If I just replaced the slats and put the mattress on top of that, I'd be looking at a 17" high seat, which is too low. I could add the box spring as well, which would bring it up to 24.5" high.

At some point if I find employment again, it would be nice to invest in a new foam mattress since they come even thicker than 7.5 inches.

Something else to consider: even with my current mattress, the combined height of the mattress and cot height means that most of the horizontal flats on this frame will be hidden. The top of the mattress will be about an inch below the uppermost slat on this photo.



From looking at a zillion different day bed photos, it would be nice if the frame were higher becus then you can lean up lots of pillows against it. It will still be against the wall so maybe not such a big deal.

I have ruled out those risers you can buy because they would be visible and an eyesore since this will not be covered by long bedspreads or it will look like a bed in the family room.

This is more the look I was going for, although it looks like it sits taller than mine will.






Instead of neatly tucking in the sheet or mattress covering like in the 2nd photo, I may have to do what was done in the 3rd photo: draping a comforter or some kind of throw down across the front. Because with the metal frame, I won't be able to tuck in underneath and I'll want to camoflouge the metal frame which will be higher than the opening in the wood frame at 9.5" high. There would otherwise be a 4.5" high gap of space. Hmmm. Lucky Robin, what do you think?

I guess I could get a skirt to hide the metal frame, but I don't really like that look..just a dust collector. Also, now that I mull on all these details, I realize the 6 legs of the frame will be visible...ick!! I hadn't thought about that til now. Sigh. Ugly.

I've pretty much decided to ask my neighbor's husband to help move the new wood frame into the family room with me. It would take us maybe 10 minutes. I would clear away the twin bed that's there now. I just have to think of a way to broach the subject in a way they can't say no! Maybe I should buy a bottle of wine and say I don't want it, do they want it, and when they say yes, just ask for a "small favor" in return.

Buyer's remorse

July 10th, 2017 at 02:51 pm

I think I made a stupid mistake.

I was browsing Facebook Marketplace after posting something for sale there. I came across a twin platform bedframe for just $20. A few of the slats were broken but I figured it could be fixed.

I liked the frame because it had a low headboard type of railing around 3 sides, so it could look very much like a daybed, which is the look I was going for in my family room with a twin bed I have in there but it basically looks like a bed with a lot of pillows.

I wanted something comfortable for lounging on or taking a nap that would also double as a comfy bed for an overnight guest.

So I called dad to borrow his truck and drove over to look at the bed frame. The nice man helped me load it in the truck and I gave him the $20.

I drove it home and probably damaged it more getting it out of the truck by myself, cus now there are 5 damaged slats.



I managed to get it in my garage for now.

What was I thinking?

Not only will I have to wait who knows how long to get someone to help me carry it into the house (the family room is on the first floor but there are outdoor stairs...luckily, it's not heavy) but I'll have to do some kind of repair job with new slats.

And now that I've had time to think about it, I'm wondering if a bed made especially for kids has a weight limit on it.

In addition, I measured the width of the frame (only after I bought it, of course) and see that's it's a good 1.5 inches wider than my current mattress, which is not foam but a conventional box/mattress set. That could probably be camoflauged with cushions in the back.

I asked the guy how the slats got broke but don't remember his answer. I assumed his kid jumped up and down on the bed a few times, but I don't know.

I think I was seduced by the low price and also visions of that bed frame-turned-day bed. But honestly, I don't know ANYONE I could ask to help me move the frame into the house. Everyone I thought of has a bad back or it too old.

Now I'm stuck with this big thing in my garage. Please tell me you've done something like this yourself so I feel a little better.

PS I feel a little better now because I found you can buy a whole new set of slats. Amazon has some that would appear to fit this bed for $27, free shipping. I think that would be the simplest fix. There's no assembly, you just lay the slats, attached by rows of fabric, into the slot.

Upon closer exam of a little label, I see that this was actually the top end of a bunk bed!

No concert but a great dinner

July 9th, 2017 at 05:32 am

We decided not to go to the outdoor fiddling competition yesterday afternoon as it was warm and humid.

But I had already made dinner reservations at a restaurant close by the fiddling thing. It was a place called Mamie's that only serves dinner on the weekends.

We drove out there and nearly missed it, even though I had pulled into the parking lot. I was looking for signs but didn't see any until I had turned around and was pulling out to leave. It's in the middle of nowhere, the kind of place you would love "discovering" if you were on vacation and just happened upon. It had more outdoor seating than inside. We ate outside in a very rustic setting. There was a shower but we had a small roof to keep us dry. The menu was very limited but excellent. Dad had steamed mussels, we shared some great gazpacho soup and we both had the ribeye steaks. No veganism for me when we eat out!

Here's dear old Dad enjoying the view.


After dinner we did stop in at the fiddling competition, which was still going on and it was just down the road. We rolled down the windows and could hear the music as we circled the parking lot. The signage had us exit a different way and it threw off my directions for getting home. We did end up getting a bit lost on the windy back country roads but we weren't too far off track.

Today is going to be a great weather day, a good day for some yardwork. I want to try to clear my blueberry bushes from bittersweet vines threatening to engulf them.

Summertime plans

July 8th, 2017 at 05:30 am

The pickin' and fiddlin' contest today is up in the air. Meaning, we're not sure if we're going yet. We'll wait til 10 am to see if the fire department, the sponsor of the event, will cancel due to 50% chance of thunderstorms, or not.

If they don't, I'll have to talk to dad and see if he really wants to sit out in an open field in around 80 degrees and high humidity/dew point weather. Dad is 84. We'd have an umbrella and lawn chairs, but still.

I'm torn. I love this kind of music (he does too) and this event only happens once a year, but I am also razor-focused on making sure dad is safe and comfortable.

Speaking of family, I have invited my half brother, his wife and their two kids up for a visit in late August. They live in New Jersey.

In addition to that get-together, I also am planning to visit a friend on the Jersey shore for a one night sleep-over later this month. Now that Waldo is gone, I can do that. Luther will be okay on his own for that short time. My friend was my dad's significant other for at least 15 years. They have been split up for a few years, but we have kept in touch. It's a long, 3-hour drive for just one night, but I don't want to leave Luther longer than that, and she's delighted I'm coming.

K. has 2 certified therapy dogs (dachshunds) and she has built her retirement around bringing her dogs to area hospitals and to private homes for hospice patients. She's about 10 years old than me and used to work as a school nurse, so she is comfortable working with very sick people and gets a lot of satisfaction from it. She's also very devoted to her dogs and 2 cats.

I have one other summer trip tentatively planned, though no date has been set. It's with my other cousin on my mother's side (mom's father's brother's daughter). We plan to visit another cousin (another child of another brother of my grandfather's) who is now in their 80s. We want to do some interviewing for family research purposes.

So I'm pleased to say that I now have 2 solid new relationships with family members I never had before: 1. cousin M. on mom's side; 2. cousin J. from dad's side, the one who recently came up to visit for a few days. During the past year I've also met 4 other new-to-me cousins (3 of them are sisters) but they all seem to have their own lives and haven't shown the interest in a deeper relationship, as of this time.

I haven't had a real vacation lasting more than a few days in over 8 years now, believe it or not. The last nice trip I remember was 3 days in Bar Harbor in 2007 when I accompanied my boyfriend to a doctor's conference in Maine and everything was paid for. It was lovely.

After that, I didn't go on a vacation because I wasn't dating anyone special. When I had that long period of unemployment, I didn't go on vacation for obvious reasons. Later, it was because my mom was ill. Last year, I just wasn't in the right frame of mind for a vacation anyway, and I had Waldo's twice-a-day meds to worry about. So it was always something.

So if you're vacillating about taking a trip somewhere but can see your way clear to doing it, go for it! You never know what the future holds and you could easily regret not doing it when you had the chance.

I don't want to spend a lot of money since I'm not working, but aside from these little trips I am trying to come up with fun little day trips to take just by myself, before the nice weather disappears. There's a Japanese garden nearby I went to about 5 years ago and would like to revisit. Maybe I'll check out a new hiking venue. Maybe another public garden in the state. It's hard to push myself to do those things solo because it's so much easier to just stay home, but even a little trip to somewhere you don't regularly visit can be refreshing and rejuvenating to the soul.

Wednesday words

July 5th, 2017 at 06:15 pm

Not much to report today.

Spoke to a recruiter about an ongoing job writing feature stories for a corporate newsletter. The company is in aviation, so since I don't have this kind of background, I think it's a long shot, even though she said an aeronautical background wasn't required.

I was waiting and hoping today I would get a call/offer from the nonprofit organization I interviewed with about 3 weeks ago. He had said he would make a decision after the 4th of July weekend. He didn't say he'd be calling the very next day after the holiday, but I am still sort of hoping/assuming he would be making the offer to whomever this week. So that leaves 2 more days.

The longer I go without hearing anything, the more I think I won't get the job, becus that would mean they're negotiating and working out the details with one of the 3 other candidates, checking references and so on. If I don't hear anything by mid-day Friday, I will email the HR person to inquire.

I'm sort of over analyzing, but I'm thinking I'm probably up against younger, more bubbly candidates who would more likely apply for a lower-paying job like this because they might still be living at home, not have a mortgage and so on. I'm remembering what the man said at the interview, that being a good writer was a given, that they also wanted to make sure the candidate they chose would "fit in" well with the other writers and work well with their team.

Not sure how they could surmise that, but if it's a personality contest and I'm competing against perky 20- or 30-somethings, not sure I'll come out on top.

It was another beautiful sunny, low humidity day. I went to the transfer station and then for some almond milk at expensive Big Y becus Aldis was completely out of any kind of alternative milk, so I paid $3.69 for a half gallon instead of $2.19.

I weeded the back patio, a thankless job that will never cease until I have the back patio redone in pavers that don't permit weeds to go in between every single brick. There's poison ivy back there, too, and I did brush against a leaf so I washed myself in Tec Nu 3 times. I hope I don't get it.

I am trying to break down all the yardwork into more manageable individual chores. The next one, for instance, might be using my electric trimmer on the spirea and azalea shrubs by the same back patio. July is the latest I like to prune or the new growth will get zapped by frost.

Well, now that I have my new phone system in, I'm waiting for some telemarketing calls since I want to "push the button" and see if it does indeed block the call. I'll ask them to call me back in a minute and then see if they can. Or NOT. He he he.

So far I'm happy with the phone. It even has something called the "baby monitor" where you can eavesdrop remotely on your baby. Or pet or kids. Its like having a video monitor but instead this is audio only. I would have no need to use it but it's an interesting feature.

I have not had much energy lately and am unhappy with my exercise regimen as of late. I wimped out of walking the last few days and opted to garden instead.

Stuff I'm doing

July 3rd, 2017 at 07:33 am

I spent a very enjoyable day yesterday doing very little. It was too hot to work in the yard, but I spent most of the afternoon sitting in the shade of my front stoop, watching a beautiful Baltimore Oriole feeding a female...or maybe it was a fledgling.



They spent a lot of time in my tall chokecherry tree. I had noticed earlier that the leaves seem to be stripped of some of their leaves, and upon noticing the oriole in there, I wondered if the tree had caterpillars. There were lots of green berries, but it didn't appear the bird was pulling those off.
Every so often the birds would move over to the mulberry tree, which is providing a feast for a large assortment of birds, squirrels and chipmunks.

The oriole is still around this morning. Perhaps it has a nest nearby.

It was just so lovely in the shade, and from my vantage point at the top of a small hill, I can see a lot with my binoculars.

Around dusk I noticed a rabbit about 25 feet away, and soon after I saw a doe eating the fallen apples from the same distance. The deer knew I was sitting there and was very cautious, though it continued to munch on as many apples as it could find and it did turn its back on me. At one point it tentatively walked around to get a better look at me and then it nervously took off.

I did manage to vacuum out my car and rinsed off the rubber mat in the trunk. I repotted a miniature aloe plant into a bigger pot. I played a ton of Luminosity games online since I got a free month of access. Bad habit.

I also decided to haul an outdoor table I have in the courtyard (driveway) up to my front stoop. I haven't been using the table/chairs where it was because there were a lot of ticks under the shade earlier in the year and I'm a little paranoid. But my front stoop gets strong morning sun and there's just enough room for it and 2 lawn chairs.

I also assembled the new Panasonic phone set I got which includes the base and 3 cordless phones. The main reason I bought it for $90 I think was because you can BLOCK whatever calls you like, and I can't stand telemarketing calls. I never knew how many I got until I started staying home all day.

I've set the date/time, recorded my greeting, etc but I have yet to get an incoming call so I'm a little worried about the sound quality since sound quality is not great with my current Panasonic cordless phone set. I may try to move the base into the bedroom since they say a high location away from electronics/computers is best. Right now I have the base downstairs.

The next time I get a telemarketer call, I'm going to ask them if they can call me back in literally a minute, after which I'll block the call and then see if they can get through upon calling me back. I just want to make sure it works.

I also made a mason bee nest (actually, all pollinators are welcome. It's essentially a bunch of PAPER straws inside a metal can. I also put some samples from when I got my bamboo curtains. You need to make sure the straws, where they lay their eggs, fit snugly and do not move around. They need to be in a sunny location that's protected from rain. That means my front stoop, which gets bright morning sun. I hope someone finds it.





Financial housekeeping

July 1st, 2017 at 06:33 am

A tepid stock market did a little sideways dance during the month of June; my portfolio was up by about $2,000.

While I was doing my month-end report, I converted a recently transferred T. Rowe Price fund worth about $70,000 into Admiral shares at Vanguard. Sorry T.Rowe, love ya, but Vanguard's fund of the same type had a .26% expense ratio vs your .66% expense ratio. The conversion to Admiral shares, which you can do with any Vanguard fund once it gets big enough, will reduce my annual expenses for the fund even further.

The fund I moved was a Roth IRA, so there won't be any tax consequences. This is the reason why the 2 remaining taxable funds I have at T. Rowe will stay put until I need them as I don't want to trigger any tax liability.

I recently opted in to a lower priced electricity offer by my current provider. The lower rate is only good for 4 months and then I'll have to shop around again. As with the conversion to Admiral shares at Vanguard, just a little bit of what I call "housekeeping" chores will save me money over the long haul.

Barclay's recently informed me the interest rate on my money markets there has ticked up, as they should at any bank since the fed raised rates. The uptick is not enough to exceed the rates I locked in on my laddered (2, 3, 4 and 5-year) CDs with Barclays, but it helps.

I have two focus groups coming up in July worth $125 and $225 each. I haven't done a focus group in ages. One is in town, the other I have to travel about an hour for. I also have 3 MS drug dinners sponsored by the pharma companies in July.

I have the central air on, set at 76 degrees. It's quite muggy and damp outside and it's so much more comfortable, although a few days earlier I really enjoyed opening all the windows around here, something I hadn't done for several years due to Waldo's allergies.

I still think I'm going to see him around a corner or in his favorite spot. Luther isn't showing visible signs of missing him although it sure seems quieter around here.

Friday fun

June 30th, 2017 at 04:55 pm

We're in the middle of a pretty powerful thunderstorm now. Well, the thunder has moved off to the distance but it's still raining pretty hard. I had to bring a bunch of cacti inside.

Yesterday I spent some enjoyable time at the cat shelter when I donated Waldo's favorite scratching post and 3 bags of cat pill pockets. The volunteer there, the same one I worked with when adopting Luther/Waldo, walked with me from room to room to show me all their cats. The place was so overcrowded 8 years ago; now they only have about 25 cats.

I think she was hoping I might adopt another one. There were a few nice ones I liked, but I don't think I will be tempted. She also suggested maybe I could start coming to socialize the cats until I find a job, as they've lost some volunteers. I might consider it.

I did practically nothing today. I actually drove out to Aldi's and Walmart just to have something to do. Picked up a few things at each place.

Dropping in on Bill and Hillary

June 29th, 2017 at 06:23 am

Dad mentioned he planned to drive down to Jersey yesterday and invited me to come along, so I did. I don't especially look forward to the drive, but I will take the wheel to keep dad from doing so on some very heavily congested roads in heavy traffic.

We paid a visit to my half-brother. He was working from home because his wife, who was recently laid off, had a job interview to go to and someone needed to stay with their young daughter.

So we got to see everyone but their son, who was in daycare. We only stayed about a half hour as they had things to do.

Afterwards, we stopped at the bank and then Bendix Diner, a local landmark near Teterboro Airport which has been there for years and is your typical greasy spoon diner.

It struck me how ethnically diverse New Jersey is, especially compared to where I live in Connecticut. The woman who helped us at the bank was Egyptian, the guys at the gas station were Sikh Indian and the owner of the diner was probably eastern European.

My dad has mentioned several times when we crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge how proud it makes him feel to be an American. A new bridge is being built next to the existing one and it's very striking to see. There are a million cranes in the Hudson. I told dad that seeing how ethnically diverse Jersey is made me proud to be an American. It is, after all, how this country was built.

Dad learned that the Clintons live in tony Chappaqua, NY in northern Westchester, and had expressed curiosity to see where they lived. I figured the way back would be a good time to do so since we go right through that area.

I easily found the address online and warned dad we wouldn't see much because of a tall white fence/gate around the property, which is only 1.1 acres, smaller than mine! They live in a 5,000 square foot Dutch Colonial mostly hidden from view. It was built in the 1880s.

So we drove down the short dead-end street and as expected, we found about 6 black Secret Service vehicles, all with tinted windows, clustered at the end of the dead-end in front of the Clinton home. I couldn't tell if anyone was in the vehicles or elsewhere. I'd also read that the Clintons bought the house next door so Chelsea would have a place to stay with the kids when she came to visit. We could see that house, an unremarkable ranch which I'm sure is quite nice inside.

I didn't want to attract any Secret Service agents, so I didn't even stop as I slowly turned around in the cul-de-sac, but Dad still got a chuckle out of seeing it. Instead of getting back onto 684, we took back roads through the wealthy horse country of northern Westchester County, then crossed over into Fairfield County and on home.

We came back to my place and I sent dad home with a delicious slice of orange cake I got at the farmer's market the day before. So it was a good day with dad and it kept my mind off Waldo.

In other news...
Amazon customer service is always good. I was able to get a refund of several bags of cat pill pockets I no longer need, and they didn't require me to return the bags either, so I will donate them to a local animal shelter.

I am meeting the volunteer there this morning who helped me adopt Luther and Waldo 8 years ago. I had kept in touch with her all this time, sending her Christmas emails with their photos. I'm donating Waldo's favorite scratching post. She was happy to take it as it's a "deluxe" post that set me back about $60, but it's very sturdy and won't tip over. I suspect she is hoping I'll adopt another cat but I've already told her I don't want to. Still, it will be enjoyable to see all the kitties there. I just hope I'm not tempted.

I finally heard back from someone at the fire department sponsoring the fiddling contest that dad wanted to attend. They have ample handicap parking which shortens the walk to about 100 feet, which is on level ground, and they do plan to spray for ticks prior to the concert. They also have "gators," which he said is like a golf cart, so he said just ask at the front gate and drop my dad off there directly and then go the lot and park my car. So it all sounds doable, especially if we could get some help with the lawn chairs we'll want to bring. The only remaining concern is if it's a hot or humid day and there's no shade (forgot to ask him that) it could be uncomfortable and my dad doesn't use sunscreen.

Family matters and cat dynamics

June 27th, 2017 at 07:14 am


Fawn "spotted" in my side yard this morning. The doe comes daily to eat the fallen fruit from the apple tree, and now she's brought her fawn.





Thanks, everyone, for all the condolences. I spent all day yesterday moping around. I forced myself to go and run some errands to try to regain a sense of normalcy. I kind of felt like I was just going through the motions.

I also took a walk at Fairfield Hills last night because it was such a beautiful summer day. It's where I used to go when my mother was still battling dementia, and I do find nature to be a comfort. It reminded me that while I am wholly absorbed in my loss, there is much in the world that is active and alive, buzzing, vibrant and healthy. The beat goes on.

I feel like there's a big hole in my life that Waldo used to fill. It sounds silly, but we used to be a threesome here, and now it's just me and Luther. I was very much aware of my cats' presence in my home. I might be busy doing other things, but I always knew they were there, somewhere, lounging in the sun room or pattering around in the kitchen, or wrestling each other in the family room. And periodically I would take a break from the computer, my job search or whatever I was doing to wander downstairs and see what they were up to, rub a chin or toss a toy.

So now Luther is the recipient of all my attention and I feel myself becoming anxious to know where he is and what he's doing all the time instead of taking him for granted. He must be aware of Waldo's absence, but I don't know that he misses his presence. When I brought the empty cat carrier home, I let Luther sniff it, and the towel inside, before I put it away.

The only other clue I had as to Luther's thought process, if you can call it that in a cat, is that when I fed Luther yesterday, he looked around for Waldo. Both cats did that if I happened to crack open a can of food with only one of them there. They were both concerned about getting to the food first, Luther especially, since Waldo was very food-oriented and would enthusiastically push his face toward the bowl whether Luther had begun eating or not. This was off-putting to Luther, who would then retreat and wait for Waldo to finish before going back to the dish. They were chums, but he preferred to eat his meals solo.

Luther is a very handsome cat, but truth be told, he played second fiddle to Waldo, who captured my heart with his affectionate nature. It was also incredibly rewarding to be able to "tame" an essentially feral cat.

Luther suffered from his time at the shelter in his own way. He was there for a much shorter time than Waldo (months vs years), but you can tell he didn't get much attention there becus he has always disliked getting touched much. It often drives me nuts when he slinks away from under my hand, not wanting to be touched. He is always in good spirits and happily accompanies me from room to room or bounds up on a table if I am looking at something there. To Luther, life inside this house is a grand adventure. If I go in the basement or to the attic, he often races ahead of me, reaching the destination before I do.

He wants to be "involved." He will seek out affection, sometimes jumping on my lap, and only then will he accept being pet.

He never gave any indication that Waldo getting to the food first bothered him. (I would later feed them in separate bowls but even then Luther preferred to wait til Waldo was done.)

When they were both in the kitchen and I was preparing their food, Waldo would get so excited he would sometimes circle the small kitchen island, meowing in excitement, and for some reason this would irritate Luther, who would swat at Waldo as if to say, "Cut it out, bro."

So when I cracked open a can of food yesterday, I thought I caught Luther looking up and into another room, as if expecting to see Waldo come running.

Things are quiet here. This morning, Waldo did not wake me up in the morning, demanding breakfast. I actually slept til 7:30, which is unusual. After spending the night downstairs, where it's cooler, Luther had jumped up on the bed in the early morning, but he was content to lay there quietly while I slept.

I heard back from the shelter volunteer who helped me adopt both Waldo and Luther 8 years ago. Waldo had always been one of her all-time favorite cats there, so I would send her Christmas emails with photos and updates on both. She thanked me for letting her know, and she said he couldn't have had a better home. She had come here to do a house check when I adopted, at the time when I was getting the sun room done, putting built-in benches there just for the cats!

Shortly before Waldo got sick, I had renewed both of his meds for the maximum quantity, 90 days. One prescription was from the old vet I no longer plan to use; I had simply renewed the med as I thought it easier to do since the new vet would not give me the same med without bloodwork and an exam. I realized there was a seal on the bottle and I decided to see if I could return the bottle. They said yes, so I drove down there yesterday and was able to get a $55 refund.

The other med from the new vet was not sealed and cost half the price of the first one, so instead of asking for a refund I asked if I could return it so they could use with either animal rescue groups they work with or low-income patients. They said yes, thank you, they do that all the time. So it made me feel a little better knowing Waldo's leftover meds would help others who maybe couldn't afford them.

I got a really nice phone call from my cousin last night. Strangely, I had been wanting to talk to him about losing Waldo. I say strangely because at first blush we wouldn't seem to have a lot in common and you might not think him particularly sympathetic.

He's an avid gun collector, including semi-automatic things, Uzis and the like, something wholly anathema to my entire community post 12/14. And also to me, but I haven't really expressed my opinion on that.

But just having the family connection, of knowing he is my late grandmother's favorite sister's son, somehow creates this instant bond, a sense of loyalty and fondness for someone I don't remember ever meeting. He said he met both me and my sister when we were very little and visiting my grandparents, and in fact my grandmother scolded him for teasing my sister when my cousin was about 14.

But anyway, he told me how much he enjoyed his little visit here and how he wished we had all reunited years earlier. I've had the same feeling, because there is so much more we all could have done. It makes me feel a little wistful. But later is better than never. He also said he wished we lived closer together.

He lost his wife years back. She was addicted to drugs and alcohol. He was very successful in his work, but his home life for many years was hellish. He has two grown daughters. He said he has a decent relationship with them but was envious of the relationship my dad and I have, that the caliber of the relationship he has with his daughters is nothing compared to what dad and I have. He also said that I have all the qualities that he is lacking, that I am kind and tactful, organized and thoughtful. It is a curious thing to see yourself through others' eyes.

And I feel very fortunate to have a good relationship with dad. From age of 6 on, I saw my dad (divorced from mom) very little, and as a teenager I drifted apart from him, knowing he was busy raising his second family. There was well over a decade when I had no contact with him at all. So yes, dad is precious to me and in these past few years since he's been living near me I have gotten to know him so much better.

While J. was visiting, my dad has asked me if I would mind if he invited my sister to our final dinner out with J. I said no, not at all. Neither of us were sure she would want to come because if there's one thing I know about my sister, she won't do anything that makes her the littlest bit uncomfortable. She won't do things purely to please others; there has to be something in it for her.

It occurred to me after my dad asked me that this dinner could be an opportunity for me and my sister to come closer to a reconciliation without necessarily having to deal with each other one to one. We really haven't had anything to do with each other since my mother's death in December 2015. Once or twice my father gave me a dozen eggs, compliments of my sister's chickens, and there was one time my sister and I politely said hello to each other when I was picking my father up for dinner.

As it turned out, my sister declined dad's invitation. I know he was disappointed because he wanted her to meet J., knowing it might even be the last opportunity to do so. Everyone is getting older. He told me he wanted to say something but decided he'd better not. Dad is always very careful not to tell any of his kids what to do; I think he has a fear that doing so could alienate them. I've told him I don't think that would happen and that in fact I would welcome his opinions and thoughts whenever. He has good relationships with 3 of his 4 kids. My younger half-brother doesn't seem to have much to do with him and I'm not sure why. My dad is not the type to force himself on people if he feels he's not wanted, so that's the way things have been for a while.

Relationships are complicated.

Today, and this week in fact, I have very little planned. I keep a daily calendar listing things to do,and it's very light. Today I'll go to the farmer's market for the first time this year, and also to the dump. When you recycle organics (kitchen waste), you want to get rid of it quickly before it attracts fruit flies. I'll also walk, and maybe do all 3 in the same trip.

Waldo: a great cat

June 26th, 2017 at 07:59 am



I had to have Waldo euthanized this morning. His kidneys were failing.

I thought after losing my mom in 2015 that anything else would be easy, but of course that's not really true. The vet did a good job, remained calm yet compassionate, and the whole procedure went smoothly. I very much appreciate that since I can't say the same for the prior 3 times I've been through this.

I am very sad and miss my baby. He was the most affectionate cat I've ever had, and the only one who would repeatedly head butt me in affection, or lay down on my pillow wrapped around my head, or climb onto my shoulder in a recliner chair, just to be close. He truly was a love bug, and while he learned the joys of chasing a string or even a live mouse every now and then, he much preferred to snuggle up and be petted.

I got him when we were both in middle age. He was 8, only knew the shelter and was afraid of people. For months he lived under a small cabinet in my office and I would bring his food up to him and lay on the floor while I talked to him. He would only come out late at night, when all was still. It took a full year for him to come around and let me touch him. When I first tried to play with him, he was frightened of the string over his head and ran off. He was basically afraid of his own shadow.

But he came a long way since then. Incredulously, I noticed at one point he no longer was bothered by thunder and lightening. Even my noisy blender didn't faze him. Still, he would hide when people came to the house. My mother saw something gray once as he raced from the room. Interestingly, he came out a few times when my father was here, but no one else ever saw him in 8 years' time.

He bonded with Luther and they often groomed each other and were always in each other's company. He would chirp with pleasure as I gave him a massage, and he especially loved that little spot on the lower back, just above the tail. He lived to be petted and rubbed, as if making up for lost time.

The hairbrush, catnip and a piece of Alaskan salmon every now and then were special treats.

I didn't think I'd have him this long as none of my prior 3 cats lived to be 16.

He had a good life, and I miss him dearly.

Watching and waiting

June 25th, 2017 at 06:11 pm

There's not a whole lot I can do for Waldo right now. I am waiting until tomorrow when I hope to get him in to see the vet ASAP. Waldo has continued to refuse all food, including things he usually loves, like tuna and those little Fancy Feast packets of anchovies and other delectables.

He is very lethargic, sleeping all day with frequent trips to the kitchen to drink water. Lots of water. Which means either diabetes (which could be reversible once I taper him off the prednisolone he's been on for his asthma) or kidney failure, which is not. The alternative treatment for his asthma would be a steroid or other drug inhaler, which I didn't think WaLdo would tolerate on a twice daily basis.

Although these things don't really explain why he's not eating. He was pretty stuffed up (congestion) Saturday morning, but it's not so noticeable now and the pollen count is low today/tomorrow. He has refused food any number of times before but until now I could coax him to eat with tempting little meals.

I am mostly worried about him not getting his 2 meds becus he is not eating. This morning I got up at 2:45 a.m. (or was it 3:45 am) and decided to try to pill him a half dose of the prednisolone because there can be serious repercussions if you don't taper off this steroid over a period of weeks. I succeeded in getting that down his throat, but he would not let me pill him the 2nd med he's on for his hyperthyroidism. The more time goes by, issues with that could arise.

I know they'll do bloodwork but doesn't that take days to get the results? He needs to eat.

I have been mentally preparing myself to euthanize him tomorrow. I will see what the problem is first and then make a decision. I am not one to spend untold dollars to keep an animal going til the bitter end. I think that's kind of selfish. It's going to be hard, no matter what. He's been a good cat, the most affectionate I've ever had, and he's lived longer than I expected, since I got him from the shelter when he was 8. He's been with me another 8 years.

I've stayed pretty close to home today. Felt terribly tired all morning. The woman did stop by at 9 and picked up the headboard I was selling. I did some pruning of shrubs in the afternoon and puttered with my outdoor potted plants, but otherwise, felt distracted and unable to do much other than call my cousin, who has numerous dogs and cats, to talk to her about what's going on.

Getting Waldo to the vet tomorrow is my only priority. Scooping him up in time to make an appointment can be tough, since I never know where exactly he'll be and I don't want to grab him so early that he has to sit, terrified, in his carrier for an hour. I will have to grab him when he's coming or going to his water dish, because his main resting places would be hard for me to reach: behind an easel and under a twin bed in the family room. I don't think he has any energy; that may work in my favor.

Summer fun

June 24th, 2017 at 01:34 pm

I got my 1st electric bill since using the central air. I was kind of pleasantly surprised as it was up maybe $10, at $81. Granted, I didn't use it daily, only when the humidity was oppressive, like today. For a total of about 5 days.

My cousin has returned to PA. Gosh, what a talker. I have grown fond of him, and that won't change (I kind of miss him already), but I find it very tiring to spend extended time with someone who talks nonstop.

So we ate all our lunches and dinners out except for one lunch I had at my house. My dad and he ate breakfast each day at the diner across from his motel.

I have lots of leftovers now. Smile Otherwise, all we did besides eating out and the river cruise was after lunch yesterday I took him and dad to get an ice cream cone at the farm ice cream stand. They even have diabetic ice cream.

After that, I did the grand tour of my home town; we stopped in at the old town hall so I could show him the beautiful painted wall murals of different spots and historic buildings and homes around town, plus the theater, which is pretty unusual.

We also made stops at Fairfield Hills, the organic farm, the new school built after the shootings, historic Main Street, Ram Pasture and The Pleasance and our two lake boat ramps, the Victory Garden, the solar panels all over town, and where I go hiking, the new fire station, the new volunteer ambulance building. I guess I could have been a realtor.

He had never seen CT before so he came away with a favorable view and said he'd have to drive all over his county to show me comparable things.

Earlier this week, just in time for the cousin's visit, I got a call that my bench cushion was ready.





It's an old, out of print Waverly pattern. It looks great and I guess she over-calculated how much fabric I'd need because there was a full yard left over...enough to cover the 2 seat pads on 2 very old chairs of my mother's. I did the seat pads myself and they came out fine. I used a staple gun and glue, as they had been done before, but I removed some small nails in the chair that seemed like they would puncture the new fabric when I put the seat back down on it; so I hope the seat pads will stay in place if people sit on them.



I STILL have enough left over fabric to make a pillow, although I don't sew, don't have a machine and I don't want to pay for a pillow. Anyone have any easy pillow construction methods where I can sew my hand?

I have someone coming over tomorrow a.m. to hopefully buy a twin wood headboard. I'm only asking $20 after having no takers for a long time. I don't like the dark wood but it could be painted and I think new it would be about $50.

Got paid $105 from a freelance client. Smile

I'm a little worried about Waldo. He hasn't eaten all day, and as a result, he also hasn't had his morning 2 meds. This kind of thing has happened before, and then he comes around and eats, but it usually doesn't last this long. He was sounding stuffed up/congested, so if he can't smell his food he won't eat. I already have him on meds for the allergies and cant' increase the dose. I had the windows closed with AC on and AC brings in air from outside. But it rained this a.m. which should have brought the polllen count down.

I tried fishy smelling food. Not much else I can do. He shouldn't be off his meds and he's pretty old.

Great day for a river cruise

June 22nd, 2017 at 04:02 pm

We had a picture-perfect day for our river cruise. Sunny and warm but dry, not muggy.

It was pretty relaxing and interesting to listen to our captain and mate talk about the river, historical points of interest, the comeback of the ospreys and eagles and so. There are hundreds of osprey nesting on the river, the Gillette Castle, the unusual truss bridge that opens perpendicularly for boats to pass (not upright). One of the osprey nests is on a pillar of that bridge that opens out across the river whenever a tall ship goes under. The birds don't seem to mind.

I brought water and some grapes to snack on. It was fun to look at the sonar results on a large TV screen showing little markings where all the fish were. There were a lot of fish.


Another cruise boat...ours was much smaller with just one level but very comfortable.


This is the East Haddam Bridge as it's swinging open to allow a tall ship to pass. The white building at right is a historic opera house which was saved from the wrecking ball and continues to host theater shows, many of which began there and made it big on Broadway, including Annie.


Here's a closer view of the backside of the opera house.



We hit a lot of traffic coming back and had a late lunch at one of the better restaurants in my dad's area.

I'm so pooped.

My black swallowtail caterpillars are coming along nicely, having grown from the first instar (all black with a single stripe in the middle) into a larger version of themselves with the more colorful striped variations you see here. They will get larger yet. I have two separate pots protected from parasitic wasps with tomato hoops covered with paint strainer netting: 1 with 4 caterpillars and 1 with 8 caterpilllars.


Family matters

June 22nd, 2017 at 04:32 am

My cousin arrived yesterday and we met for dinner last night at a local diner with dad.

I felt bad because while he didn't run into any major snafus on the trip out here (4.5 hrs), he followed his GPS and took I95 north, right through NYC, which I would have avoided at all costs due to traffic.

I have gone online and printed out directions for a different way home to Harrisburg area via the Tappan Zee, not the GW Bridge.

This morning is our trip for the Connecticut River cruise, about an hour's drive from here. I made a 7 am wake-up call to him this a.m. as he asked, but I got his recorded message; hopefully he was just in the shower.

I am already feeling a little fatigued, perhaps mentally more than anything, as I feel responsible for the welfare and comfort of both my father (84) and my cousin (70).

Both have major vision problems (my cousin has had 11 eye surgeries) and trouble walking, getting about, and even just getting in and out of my car, as Hondas sit a little low to the ground. I am doing all the driving and basically orchestrating events during my cousin's visit.

He is staying at a local motel because dad doesn't have much room at his apartment above my sister's barn, and I would not be able to medicate Waldo (2x daily) if someone were staying here. Waldo would just not come out from hiding til he left.

Friday they will be over for a vegan lunch (a sweet potato, string bean and black bean salad with cilantro dressing and a wheat berry salad with dried cranberries, walnuts, scallions and chopped apple) and after that I figured we'd hit the local farm ice cream stand (they have diabetic flavors) and then a brief driving tour of my town.

My dad was here the other day to show me some paperwork he got from his lawyer. Poor dad has had a long running problem with his tenant, who has paid every month's rent late for over a year, and she has not vacated the premises by end of April as was dictated by an earlier court order.

This has all resulted from my dad failing to do a background check on this woman before he rented to her. So he had no idea she's done this before and never could afford to rent his old house on the shore in the first place. He's been trying to evict for about 6 months now and recently changed attorneys because he didn't feel the first one was paying attention. I'm not sure I would have done that since now the new attorney is not familiar with the history of this case.

The problem is my dad just makes his own decisions unilaterally and I only hear of what's happened after the fact, when it's harder to fix things or possibly steer him in a different direction.

He has trouble reading things now and the paperwork he brought over I read out loud to him so he knew what he was signing! He had the stamp on the envelop and was ready to mail it. As it turned out, the papers incorrectly stated the tenant was $8,000 behind in rent; dad said she has only not paid for May and June rent to date. So I had to get on the phone with the attorney's assistant and explain that; she sent revised paperwork over to me via email, I had dad sign it last night when I picked him up for dinner, and then I emailed it back to the attorney last night when I got home. This greatly expedited things since without me, my dad would be mailing stuff to the attorney and vice versa.

Now dad wants to go to a "Pickin' and Fiddlin'" concert coming up in July in my area. It's an annual fiddling competition and we both like that kind of music. I had considered taking him but had decided it might not be a good idea since it gets a large crowd and involved a bit of walking to get to in a park on an uneven surface. Dad walks with a cane and is not steady on his feet. Someone brushing up against him could knock him off balance. Plus if it's hot and sunny it would not be pleasant since it's an outdoor event.

So I had decided against it without mentioning it to him but he saw it in the paper and said he wants to go. We'd need to bring lawn chairs with us; we only have one that folds. Dad can't carry one with a cane. Ugh. I tried to invite a friend to join us (and help carry stuff) but they can't come.

Trials and tribulations.

Waiting for a phone call

June 19th, 2017 at 09:20 am

I realized I'm running low on both of Waldo's medications, which I get from 2 different vets. The one vet makes it kind of a hassle because when you call to renew the med, they make you wait for a return phone call that the prescription is ready.

Usually they call back in an hour, but today I called them at 9:30 am and I'm still waiting! I like to consolidate all my driving trips and I had a bunch of other things to do today. The vet is on the way back from the other vet, but I don't want to leave if it's not ready.

It's too hot and humid to work out in the yard doing my pruning chores. I have the AC on, but set at at a high temp of 77. If it weren't for Waldo's allergies, I would just open a bunch of windows and see how it felt.

I did a little dusting and cleaned the cat hair off some upholstered furniture. Otherwise, I've been playing Luminosity word games rather obsessively with other players.

I had the brilliant yet obvious idea to get the 2 very worn and dirty seat pads on my mother's chairs redone in the same fabric I'm using for the new bench cushion in the bookshelves. I should have the bench cushion done in another week or so, but I learned they don't do chair cushions. However, they recommended someone else; I'm guessing it'll be $50 a chair plus material cost.

The interview

June 16th, 2017 at 06:19 am

Yesterday morning I had my job interview. It was with 2 people I'd be working with, one of them being my manager. Both are around my age. They are part of a team of 5 writers.

They seemed pretty nice. I was there about 1.5 hours. He gave me a brief writing assignment summarizing an actual "Situation Report" of what this organization is doing to help with the drought in Vietnam. I did this when I got home and sent it on in to them last night.

My friend thinks I did a great job with the 1st writing assignment (the answers to 5 key questions) and he thinks I'll get the job. But I kick myself for answering one of the questions (what was your favorite job, and why?) by describing several job I liked a lot because they allowed me a fair degree of latitude in how I performed the job and that in some jobs I was able to define my role as I went along. He emphasized in the interview that this job was not really like that. I hope this doesn't make him think I'm not the right fit. I emphasized my strong interest in an email following the interview.

He also did say they will be talking to 3 other people besides me. I'm the 2nd one they interviewed. He's away next week so he expects to be making a decision shortly after the 4th of July. Which I don't mind, as it gives me 3 weeks to enjoy the summer. I am also still applying for other jobs if I see something. Technically I have just a 25% chance of getting the job.

He said it was a given that whoever they hire is a good writer/editor, but beyond that, they want to make sure that the person they hire can get along well with the rest of their team and is "unflappable" in dealing with their field offices in far-flung locations and can deal with stressful situations. He also mentioned that all the writers have to be on call on a rotating schedule on weekends in case some humanitarian crisis situation develops. When there's an emergency, they have to write something up really quick that can be sent to their current roster of donor corporations, asking them to help with recovery efforts. He also wanted to be sure I was ok with an "open office" setting. Which means they all sit very close to each other without much privacy.

The job does sound very interesting, unique, even, and certainly very different than anything I've done. I'm sure it would be a real eye-opener.

In other news, I had my well pump recharged this morning; it services my outdoor water only. I won't have to carry buckets of water from my kitchen to water all my outdoor plants anymore. I let it go too long but was procrastinating as I didn't want to spend the money. I feel like I've been spending, spending, spending. It came to about $130 and I got a 5% Angie's List discount. If I'd had exact change, I could have gotten the 10% discount for paying in cash; I had the money, but only in bigger bills. Darn.

I've schedule my cousin from PA's visit for a few days next week. I need to tidy up the downstairs, go grocery shopping to buy snacks/drinks and maybe even tidy up the front gardens outside. I've done next to no yardwork this year, and it shows.

I continue to get mailed solicitations from various groups addressed to my mother; she was fond of donating very small amounts to lots of different charities, and these charities share their mailing lists with other groups, so it all just proliferates. I had to call another one today to remove her name from their list.

For Carol....(butterfly talk)

June 14th, 2017 at 01:02 pm

I read about an easy way to build a butterfly habitat that is inexpensive and easy for even a klutz like myself to do.

I bought two 2-paks of "paint strainers" in paint area of Lowes for about $3.60 each. You carefully pull the netting over an upside down tomato hoop. Not a jumbo-sized hoop, which is too big, but a regular sized hoop. You will still need to bend the 3 prongs on the bottom all the way down. You want to make sure the netting covers all the way to the bottom, to prevent parasitic wasps from getting in there.



I used an old pizza pan on the bottom covered with paper towels. You will want to keep the bottom clean of caterpillar poop, and they do poop a lot.

These do seem lightweight enough that they could blow over on a stiff wind, so you may have to keep an eye on it, or simply keep it indoors.

I stocked up on fresh ORGANIC parsley plants at my local organic farmer. The parsley MUST be organic or the caterpillars will die.




This is what the first instar looks like. At first, you will see tiny, pale green round eggs. The first instar comes next. I counted 7.

I should be prepping for my job interview for tomorrow, but I'm having too much fun. Smile

A new interview

June 13th, 2017 at 10:57 am

After a phone screening and an exercise that involved my answering 5 key questions in writing, I've been invited to interview for the international nonprofit group I mentioned here earlier. This week!

I took a LOT of care in answering those questions; it came out to 3 pages. Hopefully it demonstrated my overall intelligence and interest in the job.

So I'm excited to get the interview so quickly and I'm feeling very bound and determined to get this job, one, because I think it would be an interesting job, and two, because a perm job with health coverage would get me out of this endless loop of worries about health insurance and how to keep it.

During the phone screening, she asked what salary I wanted and I sidestepped the question, saying I understood a nonprofit job would pay less and that I was okay with that. Still, she persisted, so I'm glad I did my homework and researched what similar jobs at this nonprofit paid on Glassdoor. When pressed for a number, I said something in the $50s and she said yes, we were thinking mid-50s. So no worries there. To be honest, if I hadn't done the research on Glassdoor, I might have been afraid to suggest anything higher than $45 to $50K, simply because I didn't know the going rate.

Thirteen years ago I took a job with a starting pay of $50K, and that was when I still had my mortgage. Not only that, but I was still able to contribute to a 401(k). Not the max, but it was something. So my years of hard work in prepaying that mortgage early will pay off for me here; I'll be able to take a lower-paying job (if offered) and apply all the income that would otherwise go toward paying the mortgage and invest it in the 401k instead.

Working as a contractor for any length of time is not an easy job. You have to prove yourself to people who don't know you or your capabilities, over and over again. And just when you're settling into the job nicely, the contract is up and you have to scurry and find something new. It's also hard to form any lasting connections since a lot of people don't seem to want to invest the effort in getting to know someone new when they know you're only there a short while anyway. So it can be a little lonely.

The beat goes on...planning for summer fun

June 10th, 2017 at 08:45 am

Yesterday I got an email from a national non-profit HQ'd in my area about a job I applied for there. They work with children. I think the job would be very interesting as I'd be writing lots of communications for high net worth donors. That's why they're interested in me, I think, because I have a lot of experience in all my financial services jobs writing for affluent and high net worth audiences.

She wanted to set up time for a brief phone chat, possibly later that morning, but I had already left the house earlier and by the time I saw it, it was 4:30 pm and she never responded back after I replied. I am hopeful we will talk on Monday, her alternate time slot.

I think this could be a very interesting job; it would pay less that what I'm used to (maybe in the $50s?) but as I've been saying, affordable health insurance is more important than earning top dollar. I see from reading Glassdoor reviews that they have Aetna, every other summer Friday afternoon off and liberal vacation time. On the downside, according to reviews, there are frequent layoffs, no meaningful pay raises or room for advancement, and it can be hard to take time off. I take all these comments with a grain of salt since everyone's work experience can be so different.

I'm really hopeful about this one.

My driveway guy sent me a note last night saying his guy would up here bright and early this morning to reseal the driveway. He finished up around 10 am. I'm hoping we won't see any of the pop up thunderstorms too soon, but with this heat it should dry quickly. Still, I can't drive on it for 2 days, so before he got here, I blew off the driveway and parked my car on a side street down the road.

Problem is, there's no way for me to get down to the street without walking on the driveway. There's all brushy growth and a steep slope on either side of the drive, and it's all overgrown on the side of my house where I could walk down my neighbor's drive.

Maybe by the time I go to dinner with dad tonight it will be dry enough to walk on (but not drive on). I could wear my rubber garden boots, just in case.

I finally have time to plan the get-together with my cousin and dad dad for later in June or July. Dad wants to take cousin on a river cruise, on the Connecticut River. I checked out the cruise dates, and my own calendar, and came up with 4 different time periods that would work.

The cruise is 90 minutes long and takes you by Gillette Castle and you can bald eagles and stuff. I've never done it so it would be interesting. Afterwards, I'll have to research nice places to eat for lunch. It's about an hour and a quarter from here.

Now that I'm not working, we can go during the week and feel less crowded/rushed. There's a senior discount and otherwise it costs $20.

I'm going to call my cousin today or tonight.

WE are definitely tick infested around here. Seems like everytime I pick up my outdoor watering can, I find one on it. I think ticks must have a natural instinct to climb on top of anything, and on the large, flat expanse of my driveway, I guess that was one of the few things to climb. I'm no longer going to leave it on the driveway, but will keep it on the front stoop which is a few steps up. Don't know if that will make a difference but I have NEVER seen anything like this. Ticks everywhere.

Spoke to my neighbor last night and she agreed, but she said her husband picks up more ticks than their 3 dogs. They sold 3 lambs to a wealthy couple in a nearby town that wanted to keep them as pets. Sold for $200 each. I'm so happy for the lambs. But now she has a lot of male lambs, which she doesn't want, because they will soon be sexually mature and cause problems. These are known as hairless lambs, a special breed that doesn't require shearing. They don't look hairless though.

I'm done (!) and so are the bookshelves!

June 8th, 2017 at 05:01 pm

I finished my last day. It wasn't so bad. I turned in my laptop and badge, faxed in my final time sheet to the recruiter and said goodbye to a few people.

For some reason I was anxious to move on once I learned the job would be ending.

When I got home, I decided the painted bookshelves had long enough to dry (I gave them a few extra days because it was rainy every day this past week) and here they are:



I love them, because for the first time in my life, I can attractively display so many possessions near and dear to my heart, including, primarily, my grandfather's woodwork and some of my mother's art.

The paint job is not perfect; I see some drip marks I missed, and so on, but it's good enough. The small pewter knobs I bought for the 2 cabinets below came with 2 screws, one shorter and one longer. Neither of them works right. The shorter screw is too short to hold the knob and the longer screw is too long so it doesn't sit flush against the cabinet door. I will have to go to the hardware store to see if they have an in-between size. Once I get the cushion in there, I think that window will be a cat magnet.

Still to be done is a trip to the fabric store to see if they could create a custom cushion for the windows seat with foam insert. I have to take measurements; maybe I can find the size somewhere without paying extra for "custom."

I now have 4 mortar and pestles and about as many cutting boards, all made by grandpa. All of it reminds me of loved ones lost, and I sobbed like a baby while I was picking out items to display on the shelves. I don't know how people handle it. I do a terrible job.

Anyway, I feel "liberated" now and have all sorts of things on my to do list for tomorrow and beyond. I'm looking forward to having my dad over for lunch next week so he can see the bookshelves.

I am looking forward to getting back on track with more walking for exercise and getting things back in order on the home front, even as I continue looking for work.


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