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Happy Friday!

February 24th, 2017 at 03:58 pm

Even though I'm home all week, I love the surge of happiness I feel on a Friday. Smile

Today I had a phone "pre-screening interview" with a recruiter about a perm job a half hour from home. It's a fairly large French company but there were a lot of comments on Glassdoor that they don't pay well, although the benefits are good and they pay 50% match of 401k up to 8%, which is higher than usual.

She told me the salary range was $55 to $70, which is on the low side, but since I know I would still take a job if offered, I adjusted my desired range down to $65 to $75; that way, part of my range is within their range, but it leaves some upside potential too.

The recruiter, from Texas, did an unusual thing: she emailed me her summary of me as a candidate that she was giving the hiring manager, and she told me I could make changes if I liked. I did make lots of changes and basically rewrite it becus otherwise it was a very poor summary of our conversation and she got some things wrong. She said she thinks I will get an interview and that everything about me sounds greatt except that I'm lacking in certain technological areas. They want someone who knows Adobe Photoshop (how hard can that be?) and HTML stuff. Actually, they said they preferred an MBA as well

I brought my butterfly aquarium from outside the toolshed to under my front door overhang. That way, I can keep an eye on the pupae in case they hatch early but they are somewhat protected from rain.

I also did one of my favorite chores, blowing leaves off the driveway with my blower. Went for a walk around the block (25 minutes around and back). It was so balmy today. Actually started clipping some old dried-up blooms on my sedums but didn't feel like finishing the task.

Looks like I will have grossed $840 for the month of February from my 2 freelance jobs. Less than I hoped for, but it's a start. If I end up not getting the perm job mentioned above, I should be able to ramp up the writing a bit. I'm going to have to start making quarterly estimated IRS payments again. Frown

If I got that job (or ANY perm job) I would immediately contribute the max allowed to the 401k.

I found the most delicious thing at Trader Joe's this past week. They are selling dried orange slices which are really, REALLY GOOD. I like dried fruit in general, with dried California (NOT Turkish) apricots and apple rings being my favorites, but the orange was heavenly.

Living and learning

February 23rd, 2017 at 11:24 am

Today is warm, sunny and in the 60s!

I've been applying for a lot of jobs lately, including those not near me but where I'm hoping they may be open to making the position remote for the right candidate.

I just scheduled a pre-screening interview with a recruiter for a job I could drive to. It's for a content writer and it includes lots of long-from writing, which is what I prefer, for doing white papers, case studies, etc, all targeted to a B2B small business audience. The product, though, seems very boring to me: the mailing and shipping market.

It also involves some skills sets i really don't have, like knowing HTML and having direct sales experience. So we'll have to see.

After never hearing from the other recruiter who scheduled a meeting with me for 1.5 hours after she sent me the meeting invite but was a no-show and didn't return my calls/emails, I decided to call her home office and I explained in detail to a very nice person who put me on hold and then came back and told me the woman would call me back after her meeting.

Instead, I got an email from her saying she'd decided I wasn't the right fit. I knew she didn't want to talk to me because she failed to inform me of that and so I spent a lot of time prepping for the call and then waiting around for it. So I wrote back a rather pointed email, copying some other person whose name was also on the email.....I'm living and learning....upward and onward.

Bought a bunch of catfood at Walmart today and then about $40 well spent at Aldi's. I was proud of myself, looking at all my purchases at the checkout. There was no packaged or processed food at all, just fruits and veggies, and once again, got some pretty decent deals.

Last night i went to another MS talk/dinner; only 5 people showed up although there were place settings for about 20. (People RSVP for these things.) The (free) meal was excellent. They served us 3 different appetizers (colamari, eggplant rollatinis and my favorite, a garlicky wilted greens salad with sausage.

Since there were 3 appetizers and there seemed to be no other food coming, we all filled up on those appetizers while the slide presentation began. Toward the end of the slide show, the waiters came out with the main course (!), lamb shanks, oh my! Cooked to perfection. Dessert was Italian pastries and we all took a lot of food home as leftovers.

What a treat!

I walked 50 minutes yesterday and plan to go out today in a little bit.

Two days ago I picked about 7 small pieces of art from a gallery gift shop where nothing had sold in a while. She mentioned if i had anything else I thought might work to let her know. I wasn't going to bother, but I decided to send her a photo of one of my mother's Ghiordes knot wall hangings. These ancient knots were used by Turkish rugmakers.

What you see are small rectangular strips of painted canvas interspersed with a variety of other fibers and netting. It's a totally abstract and one of a kind look. The piece is way above her price point at the store, but this could be a show stopper on her walls that could attract attention. It only takes one interested buyer.

Unfortunately, I didn't store these right and I found when I retrieved them from basement that a lot of those little strips were all bent out of shape, so I was using unopened cans of catfood to press down on all the little strips on my dining room table. I need to work a bit more on the top part of the weaving just under the wood frame because they all should lie mostly flat.

Spring thaw doings

February 18th, 2017 at 10:27 am

It feels positively GREAT, sunny and in the warm 40s. Tomorrow will be in the 50s!

I accomplished the following:

1. Washed my car (badly needed)
2. Vacuumed my car
3. Swept out the garage

I had 4 large pots of daffodils in the back of the garage and they are all coming up, about a month-and-a-half too early. Some are about 4 inches high already.

I thought about putting them in a protected corner that gets full morning sun in my driveway, but it will still get down to upper 30s overnight and this unusual warmth will not last forever, so I put them in front of a large sunny window in garage instead. They will probably end up blooming in the garage where I can't enjoy them.

I had a salmon burger for lunch (still using up non-vegan foods).

Because it will be warm for all of next week, I also released a bunch of ladybugss which hatched in my sunny bathroom. I don't know how they get in there, but they do.

Can't believe we only have another week-and-a-half to go in February, and then it will be March.

I have slightly less than a half tank of heating oil left, which should last at least 2 weeks, maybe a bit more. Meteorologist said we're in for a snowy start to March.

Wasted my whole day....waiting

February 17th, 2017 at 12:22 pm

I applied for a copywriter job through an agency in Texas. It is for a contract job with a digital bank. I'm well qualified for the job.

It didn't say anything about the job being remote or not, but I figured I'd submit my resume anyway.

The recruiter emailed me this morning, wanting to schedule a time to talk today, so we agreed on 10 am. Shortly after that she called me and said she needed to move things around and could we do it at 1:15 pm EST, and I agreed.

After that, she never called me back or responded to my email or phone message, but I mean, really? How unprofessional. It only takes a minute to send an email to let someone know you won't make it.

Strangely, the recruiter sent me their 25-page info book on their benefits for contract workers. We haven't even discussed the job yet, so I thought this was strange, but I must admit that the benefits look very good and I would love to take advantage of them, namely the health insurance. The recruiting company chips in a fair amount of the premium, provided you are working 40 hours, so I'd be paying about $165 a month for a Cigna plan (3 choices, this one's the cheapest), plus the dental looks very affordable as well. They use a sliding scale so if you work less 40 hours, the recruiter still kicks in something for your health premiums, but it's less. The insurance will lapse if you work less than 20 hours a week.

They also have a flex spending account and a 401k thru Fidelity. I would skip the dental benefit becus while it's cheap while you're working, once i went on COBRA it would be rather pricey at $45/month, and I usually only get 2 annual cleanings. I would also skip the FSA account becus their minimum contribution is $1,000 a year, and I don't even spend that much on co-payments.

I WOULD definitely go for the 401k since I'd want to sock away oodles of money in a Roth 401k if they have one.

The booklet she sent is for 2015 benefits; I assume rates have risen since then; i don't have any idea why she didn't send me 2017 booklet.

I'd like to get on the plan because not only would it save me $200+ a month on health insurance, but it would allow me to re-start the clock on COBRA whenever I left that job. So I'd have another 18 months of coverage compared to the 11 I have left now with my last employer.

However, I'm left to wonder if this woman noticed I live in CT. She read my resume so I guess she knows. But we haven't even talked about the job yet. Kind of mixed up. Cart before horse.

So I've wasted my whole day waiting around. I wanted to go food shopping today but I won't be anymore and will have to wait til Tuesday since i like to avoid the weekend crowds and Monday may be a holiday for some.

I'll be working this weekend on the 2nd story for the personal finance website. Want to finish it before I get the next school assignment. Perhaps it would be possible to juggle both jobs; I'm not sure I'll stick with the personal finance one yet. Not enough $$. Subject of this one, which I've committed to: Growing trend of HR of larger companies offering financial education as an employee benefit. Not just 401k/retirement advice, but everything: paying for college tuition, everyday money management and so on. This one will be easy compared to the first one.

Writing adventures

February 14th, 2017 at 05:04 pm

It's been an interesting couple of days...

My neighbors invited me up for dinner last night but since I hadn't had time to shovel the bottom end of my driveway, I decided to walk thru my backyard and up their driveway. But neighbor said no, it's too icy, I'll come and get you so that's what the husband did.

His wife very kindly made a vegetarian dinner though I told them not to worry about it.

The purpose of the dinner invite, other than to catch up mid-winter, which is always nice, was that neighbor husband has cooked up a scheme and needed help writing a statement of purpose which would be used to register a nonprofit he wants to create.

The nonprofit would seek out and acquire donated farm or fallow land for farming and rely on various community groups that work with at-risk teens or troubled youth to raise the crops and learn sustainable production methods to raise sheep, cattle, chickens and so on.

The food generated by the farm(s) would be made available to low-income families for sale at deeply discounted prices, to provide fresh, wholesome food to counter what you mostly see at food pantries: low quality canned, processed and packaged foods.

It all sounds great except I don't think it would be easy to obtain donated land, especially when conservation easements confer upon the landowner the ability to get tax benefits.

Husband's wife was mostly rolling her eyes, indulgingly, becus husband tends to come up with lots of great ideas that never quite take off.

Anyway, we had an interesting evening talking about that and this morning I dedicated 3 or 4 hours to writing up the document he wanted, which would also be used to introduce his idea to the local farm bureau and enlist their support.

He was very happy with what I wrote, as I was, and as a kind of barter arrangement, he agreed to chainsaw a tree or two here I wouldn't mind taking down.

So yesterday, mid-way thru my higher education writing assignment, I had to stop and ask my manager whether I should proceed with something. She still hasn't gotten back to me, so in the meantime, I decided to start researching and writing a story for the 2nd website that needs a copywriter that I've connected with.

They told me to go ahead and start but I didn't have anything in writing about what they would pay me, so i told them i couldn't work without a contract. She said she'd have a contract to me by end of day but i decided not to wait and to forge ahead with the writing since they want it in a few days and it's a very complicated story: the DOL fiduciary rule, its history and the recent Texas court ruling in its favor and the Trump directive to DOL to revisit it (with the aim, most likely, of dismantling it).

So I was JUST wrapping up the tail end of the story, congratulating myself on my work, when I get another email from this outfit saying, ok, scratch that story, here are 2 different ones.

I immediately wrote back and said I'd just finished that story, and could they still use it.

They wrote back and said yes, tho they thought I wasn't going to write anything until i got the contract, and I replied that once i got the woman's response saying i'd have the contract by end of day, i felt comfortable in starting the job.

I sent my signed copy back to them and as soon as they send me a copy THEY'VE signed, I will send them the draft story. I will be curious to get their feedback.

Truth be told, I'm having second thoughts about writing a relatively large number of stories for them at the rate of pay they quoted me. I've already invested more time and effort into this 1st story than the money they've said they'll pay me. I'm feeling inclined now to wait and see if they like my story, which I'm hoping they will, becus I would then tell them the money promised is not really enough given the time and effort i put into it, and if their rate of pay is cast in stone, I may have to reconsider working with them.

Are you experiencing bugs here?

February 11th, 2017 at 07:23 am

The good news is the administrators of this site fixed the kink that wouldn't allow you to insert and/or change images in your profile.

If you are still experiencing problems when you write up a post and then click "Publish," when your post disappears, please indicate that here.

I mentioned this to them and they say when they tried it, it worked fine. I know that personally for me, this problem has existed for years.

Please indicate if you have experienced this.


Shoveling out

February 11th, 2017 at 05:30 am

We got a foot of snow here on Thursday. Now I know how long it takes one small but determined woman to shovel a foot off my 90-foot driveway: 2.5 hours.

It may not sound like much time but it was pretty intense "hard labor" and I had to break it up into 3 separate times: first on Thursday morning, then again Thursday afternoon and finally once more yesterday.

The car's still in the garage, but I have to get out today for some groceries as there will be a few more inches and very messy weather tomorrow, and then again Sunday into Monday.

I got a new assignment for the higher education website: the best schools in Utah. Brigham Young University has quite impressive facilities. I've already done the best online schools in Alabama, Montana and Indiana.

I also had a talk with another website, one that needs a personal finance writer to write 10 to 20 short stories a month. I will likely do a test writing assignment next week. They pay better than the education website but still not great.

I don't think I could do both jobs, but I am feeling cautious about dropping the education job til I'm sure I'll be comfortable with the personal finance job. So I was the one to suggest I do one or two writing assignments to see how it feels, and make sure they're happy with my work.

If I wrote the 10 or 20 a month, the income would mostly or wholly cover all my monthly expenses. I'd only be grossing $36K a year, compared to a similar job I had back in 2008-2009 where I was writing 3 stories a week and 2 blog posts, roughly comparable to what this job calls for (5 stories a week max).

In 2009 I was grossing $70K with benefits, so you can clearly see how desirable it is for me to find a perm job with benefits. This job would just help tide me by.

This new job for a NYC content generation firm, would actually require a lot more brainpower than the education job. The stories would be along the lines of what you see in Money or Kiplingers, and the 1st story they suggested was on the recent TX court ruling on the fiduciary DOL rule. They would provide some talking points but I think I would still need to do independent research.

The education job is pretty straightforward and just requires hunting for specific types of information on a given school's website, making sure to hit on certain things and insert various keywords, etc. But given what they pay, it's quite a bit of work. I DO appreciate they pay fairly quickly, in about 5 days time after you hand in the assignment.

PS The little image you can insert in your profile is now working! I've been in touch with Nate and James. It took a few tries but I see they've fixed it as I have one of my mother's weavings in my profile.


February 9th, 2017 at 10:52 am

We're in the middle of a major snow event. They've forecast 18 to 20 inches by the time it's done toward end of day.

It looks deep. Shovel time is coming.

Luther is bored, and slamming the kitchen cabinets. He's figured out how to pry open the doors (and drawers), but not all the way, so they slam shut again if his paw isn't there.

Ah, Luther, you're so clever, and handsome, too. The perfect catch for any feline except for the fact you're shooting blanks, if you know what I mean.

I got a response back on one of the freelance writing jobs I applied for yesterday. It's in NYC and she asked me for my rate, a question I REALLY hate, becus of course it puts you in an impossible situation, not wanting to lose the job by quoting too high a price, but not wanting to shortchange yourself, either. So I avoided answering and said in as friendly a way as possible that since I was relatively new to freelancing (not true), I found rates to be all over the place (true), and then flipped her question back by asking if she could tell me what they typically would pay for a story like such and such.

This is personal finance writing and includes interviews, so should pay higher. I'll keep the $1 per word rate in back of my mind, which someone here mentioned, but even tho it's NYC, I kind of doubt they'd pay $500-$750 for a 500- to 750-word story when they want 10 to 20 a month.

I spent all morning trying to get Waldo to eat his food, which contains his 2 meds. I finally succeeded by 12:30 pm. If I were working outside the home, doing this would not be possible.

He's on steroids for his asthma, 1 pill every other day. He does ok on the days he gets that pill, but on the alternate day he's usually completely stuffed up, can't breath and can't smell his food so he won't eat, which means he also isn't getting his thyroid medication.

I try using the pill pockets first, as this is easiest and ensures he's getting the whole pill, but about half the time he turns his nose up at the pill pockets and especially so when he's stuffed up cus they have no smell. So that's when I crush the pills and mix it in a small amount of food, maybe a teaspoon, but still, if you know cats, he will eat one or two tiny bites, and then walk away. I have to keep coaxing him.

The only other option my vet had offered for the asthma was an inhaler-like mask I'd have to put on him daily, and I ruled that out since Waldo would freak and probably hide from me after a few times of doing that.

I have an air purifier running in the bedroom, and I bought a new vacuum with HEPA filter, and changed to a no-dust cat litter, but none of those things seems to have helped at all.

So I have one remaining option which I'm going to call the vet about tomorrow: giving him the steroids once daily, instead of once every other day. He had told me that over time the steroids can cause him to develop diabetes, and this is why I resisted doing this since seeing the vet 2 months ago. Becus that would pretty much be the end of the road for Waldo. Injections on top of 2 meds neither one of us could handle.

I am hoping that with the daily steroids he will do better and continue eating. He is 16 now so am hoping he will live out his natural lifespan more comfortably, before he develops diabetes. The vet said he'd never had that happen to a cat but it would be very upsetting to know I brought that on if it happens.

Productive day at home

February 7th, 2017 at 05:06 pm

I knew today was going to be a freezing rain, sleety kind of day, so I planned to hunker indoors, not go anywhere and focus on my current freelance assignment. I'm glad I was able to gt in an hour long walk yesterday.

I was able to finish my assignment today, 2 days ahead of schedule and turn it in. I should have at least a few days before she gives me the next one, and now this frees me for tomorrow, when I'll be heading to one of my galleries, 35 minutes south, to bring new art, to pick up some jpgs from a photo shop created from my mother's old wedding slides (can't wait to see them, just 18 slides encased in plastic that went with a viewer), to BJs and Shop Rite. And then the dump, if there's time.

I applied for at least 5 jobs today, many found on Craig's List, believe it or not. Most are more freelance/contract jobs. While the gig I have going on right now is good (low pay but reliable), I will only gross $800 monthly at best, so I need another similar ongoing thing writing for some other website. If I find it, the 2 jobs could be enough to cover most of my monthly expenses.

Today I noticed (happily) that the IRS had deposited $1234 refund in my checking account. I was in a little too much of a hurry when I filed and wound up having to file an amended return becus I overlooked 2 things, one of which will result in an additional $45 refund.

With that and my last full unemployment check, my checking balance stands at $6800, the most I'm going to have for a long time or until I find another f/t job. It's going to start slowly shrinking, I'm afraid, as bills I have to pay dwarf the dwindling incoming income. Long sigh.

I was planning on going to see that new movie with Meryl Streep, just $3 here in town, but I only remembered it a half hour after it started. Darn. It's one of the few little treats I allow myself being under-employed.

Waldo and I enjoyed some sockeye salmon for dinner tonight.

I scheduled installation of my new Lennox central air unit for March 31. I'm happy this is in the works. I've already started dreaming about a longed for wall of shelves in my dining room. My carpenter did not return my call, an indication he's too busy to do it. He's really cheap. Somebody finally caught onto that, a company that manages several properties, and now they're keeping him busy nonstop, which he really needed so I'm happy for him.

Sunday stuff

February 5th, 2017 at 04:14 pm

Let's see, here's what I did today:

1. I walked 85 minutes...excellent! It was fairly mild out, for February, at about 37 degrees.

I walked in an area that has one main trail going straight but then there are multiple side trails you can take into and around open meadows, like this one.

It really wasn't as desolate as this barn photo makes it seem. There were a fair number of dog walkers and hikers about.

I tend to seek out out-of-the-way trails; this one was new to me and meandered along a river until I decided to turn around due to mud.

2. I continued working on my newest higher education assignment (online schools in Montana).

That's about it!

In other news, I was very disappointed at what I got from Safeco for spending 3 long months driving like a granny.

I earned a 17% discount, which I thought was off the entire premium of $900, or $150. No, I got just $57. I have to call them tomorrow to see how they calculated that. I think I'll just drop my collision at the same time to achieve an instant $211 savings, especially since, not working, I'm also driving very little. The discount is for every year, moving forward, so that's something. I hope that my dropping the collision that doesn't affect my discount.

More AC details...help me decide

February 3rd, 2017 at 01:59 pm

I now have quotes from 2 guys to install the central air, and I'm unsure whom to hire. I don't think I need more quotes as the 2 I got are solid.

#1 guy is with what appears to be a well-established company with 3 locations. They have an average A rating on Angie's List.

He's recommending a Carrier Model 24ABC636AON3, which is a 3 ton model, not budget model but not top of the line either.

Comes with a new Honeywell programmable thermostat, 1 year labor warranty and 10 year manufacturer warranty on compressor and covered parts.

SEER (energy efficiency) rating is 16, which is again not the most energy efficient, which would mean a higher price tag, but not the very lowest, either. I decided I didn't need the best here because I don't plan to use it nonstop, just enough to dehumidify the rooms and keep it comfortable.

They would also include the 1st year's maintenance, which would cost me about $175 for every year thereafter.

He told me the unit would not be eligible for any state or federal rebates/credits becus I'm pairing it with an existing oil furnace, which compared to natural gas, is not very energy efficient.

Price: $5400. If I pay in cash or check, the price would be $5200. (Note to self: ALWAYS ask for this discount.) They also had a $300 coupon on their website for new AC installs; I forgot to ask him about that, but if I applied that coupon and paid cash, total cost would be $4900.

He wants 50% down with 50% upon completion.

#2 guy: He recommends installing a Lennox Xc14, also a 3 ton unit. SEER rating is also 16.

Warranties are manufacturer 10 years and he told me if anything went wrong with the unit the 1st year, he would take care of it, so i guess that sounds like a 1-year labor warranty.

He did not offer the 1st year free maintenance but did offer $200 off for cash only (not checks), so with the cash discount, his price would be $4650, or $250 less than #1 guy. Also, he said their annual maintenance costs about $118, quite a bit less than #1 guy.

#2 guy is a young guy who bought the business with a partner 5 years ago when the former owner wanted to retire.

He wants 1/3 down and 2/3 upon completion. He also got an average A rating on Angie's List.

What do you think? I'm honestly feeling like I don't want to say no to either one of them becus they both were very nice. Typical girl reaction, I guess.

At this point, I'm thinking of going with #2 becus I have faith either one could do the job, so #2 is not only $250 cheaper but his annual maintenance is, at least now, substantially cheaper than the larger, more established company. #2 guy also even offered to cut down a partly dead foundation shrub that would need to go to make way for the outdoor compressor, which #1 guy didn't offer to do. #2 guy also said he'd throw in the cover for the outdoor unit. They both will give me a new thermostat.

I hope that some of you who commented on my earlier post on this will weigh in again. Any feelings about whether either Carrier or Lennox makes a better AC? Any other thoughts?

I'm thinking maybe I'll approach #2, tell them that the 2 quotes are very close in price, and that if he threw in the first year free maintenance like #1 guy did that I would give him the job.

What do you think?

Cooling thoughts...

February 2nd, 2017 at 11:20 am

I was very pleasantly surprised by the first estimate I got on central air. It wasn't nearly as much as the single quote I got over a decade ago which scared me off from seriously considering it...until now.

The extreme humidity is not good for my mother's art, and that's what truly spurred me to move forward with central air, even though I'm not working much.

So he spent over an hour here, answering my questions, measuring and looking outside to determine where the compressor would go.

I ruled out the new ductless units because while they are more energy efficient, it would require more wiring to all go to the single outdoor unit, and my ceilings are not at all high so the units would kind of dominate the rooms and be more noticeable, I think. I would need 4 of them, 2 on each floor.

So going with a conventional Carrier system and 16 SEER, which I think is pretty good efficiency, it would cost just $5,200 and they throw in the first year's maintenance, which runs about $175, for free.

I would feel confident they could do a good job but I do have one other place coming out tomorrow, so I can compare at least the two. I might also like to get a third estimate.

I'm excited. The thought of living in air conditioned comfort and not sweltering during the worst parts of July/August. It gets so humid in this house that i have gotten mildew on wood and leather furniture. I would not run it often as I dislike super cold indoor temps anyway, but I would run it just enough to dry out the indoor air and be comfortable.

The one remaining issue would be how to deal with my family room, which was a later addition over the garage that is not served by the existing oil furnace duct work.

So I might have to keep using my current portable AC just for that room, I guess. He said while it's really hard to say how much the AC would add to my electric bills, he said it would be at least $100 a month if I ran the system continuously (which I wouldn't). Maybe it would be more, who knows. But if it was an extra $200 for the months of July and August, I think that would be decent and cover most of the bad summer heat.

Back to square one, it seems

January 31st, 2017 at 01:59 pm

Nothing seems to have panned out, job-wise, of several promising contract positions. So, I'm continuing to web-write the school stuff and volunteer writing/editing for another site. (I just wrapped up editing three of them today, which is my weekly quota I've set for myself. I don't want to commit to more in case I get busy with paid writing.)

It's snowing steadily now and there are probably 2 or 3 inches on the ground. Nothing too serious, weather forecasters tell us.

I went this morning to pick up about a dozen pieces I had dropped off a month ago at my favorite art gallery and learned that one small piece ($125) of my mother's sold, and the check will be forthcoming. After some discussion, I only took home about 6 pieces and left the gallery owner with 14 remaining pieces.

I was glad to get home before the snow began flying.

Once I was home, I promptly emailed another gallery representing mom's work with jpgs of 2 of the items I brought home from the first gallery as they are small in size (space is limited), which is what the second gallery likes. Sure enough, she indicated interest in 2 of the 3, so we'll have to schedule my visit and discuss pricing.

Dad and I had another great dinner at an Italian place in town that has mostly flown under my radar. Meaning, I hadn't realized just how good their food is. Dad expressed an interest in having me take him to Aldi's, and possibly BJs, so I was hoping possibly tomorrow if the snow gets melted; if not then, we can do it Thursday.

I did my January expenses and see my net worth continued to grow. That probably won't last long since I haven't contributed anything to savings and with my benefits running out in a week, I will likely have to begin digging into savings to cover monthly expenses. Big bummer. It will be painful.

I finally got around to changing the filter on my furnace humidifier. When a friend of mine helped me change it a year ago, I carefully wrote down instructions for myself because I know from prior experiences that simple things stump me. I procrastinated a while, simply because I don't like spending time in my cold, dark and cobwebby basement. Anyway, it's good for another heating season now. Smile

I cooked up a big eggplant last night and made baba ganousch, an eggplant spread/dip with lemon, tahini, sesame seeds, garlic and a touch of olive oil. So good slathered on crusty toasted bread. Tonight will be a hearty salad with beans, raw onion, mushroom and a sliced, hard-boiled egg (not vegan, me bad).

Hooray, I did my taxes

January 28th, 2017 at 01:18 pm

Yesterday I started the federal return and made much better progress than I anticipated, since I knew there'd be a few extra forms or schedules this year.

I finished the return today and filed the federal one, which has been "accepted" by the IRS. I did realize, belatedly, that I forgot to record $20 of interest I paid on some bank accounts but it's too late now...maybe they'll catch it; if not, not a huge thing.

I also did the state return and will file that tomorrow.

I will get a refund on the federal and owe money on the state return, so my net refund will be about $500.

I was NOT looking forward to doing that at all. SO relieved this is almost behind me for another year, and next year's will be simpler.

Met a friend at Starbucks last night; meeting dad for dinner at our favorite Italian place tonight.

Thursday things

January 26th, 2017 at 11:12 am

I ran to the library and faxed a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan telling him I don't appreciate them dismantling ACA without something else in place. Thanks to Dido for bringing this to my attention on Facebook. It's all happening very quickly.

Yet another job possibility....a perm, f/t job working as a financial writer for a consulting group where I once worked in 2001; it turned out to be just a 9-month stint, since once 9/11 happened, all their business (financial services companies, many in the Twin Towers) dried up. My recruiter friend is presenting me to them today.

I checked on Linked In and found that only 3 people who were there when I was there still remain: 2 partners and the HR person! So it's a whole new crew. It would be very good money, a 40-minute commute and longish hours, also pretty challenging.

I've been trying to step away from financial jobs, but oh well.

The job at Ivy League is still up in air as the planned meeting yesterday was rescheduled.

Spent just $16 at Aldi's and they would not refund me (just $1.50) for the canned organic black beans that were marked down to .49/can and they charged me .79/can for. They said I was looking at the sign for mixed vegetables below the black beans, but I know what I saw.

When I discovered this last week, I TRIED to call my local Aldi's store but was unpleasantly surprised to see they DO NOT list their phone number anywhere. Neither does their website; I tried sending a message to corporate aldi's and they directed me back to the local store.

I guess not the end of the world; still a good price for those beans. Today's deals included .79 pink grapefruits, .79 carton of white mushrooms (the brown mushrooms were higher priced, for no reason at all except that they look more healthy) and $1.29 eggplant, plus the organic, non-GMO soymilk at $2.19 is a great price. And blackberries, $1.69 per small plastic carton, another great price.

Over 80% of the soybeans grown in US are Monsanto GMO soybeans, which means the pesticides are in the genetic material now, and studies have found these soybeans have much higher pesticide residue than organic or non-GMO soybeans. So non-GMO soymilk is very much appreciated.

I'm mostly limited to buying fresh produce there but given that's largely what I'm eating these days, it covers a lot of my dietary needs. I'll have to go elsewhere to get my 4% (not 6%) concentration of balsamic vinegar for some oil-free salad dressings I'm going to try.

Left to do today: Long walk and hopefully start my taxes, which I'm not positive I can do myself this year due to some complicated looking Form 8949 stuff related to inheritance. Doing my taxes is probably first on my list of Things I Hate Doing.

Health coverage that encourages non-use

January 25th, 2017 at 11:57 am

Health coverage that encourages non-use is really nothing new, but this is a good example of how even deductibles that would be considered modest by most people can discourage people from getting proper healthcare.

I decided yesterday I should see my neurologist as I've been experiencing some low level sensory symptoms related to my MS, and since it's been over 10 years since my last MRI, I was thinking it wouldn't be a bad idea to have another one now, to see whether this is just a flare-up of old symptoms or possibly new disease activity, which might mean reassessing my current medication.

I was able to get an appointment to see the doc today and while he didn't say it was absolutely necessary, he agreed it wouldn't be a bad idea to get the MRI, which would be of both brain and spine. He said sometimes significant changes in your sleeping patterns or stress could bring on flare-ups. I sleep pretty well and I don't feel stressed, although the job situation is a concern.

He went to the trouble of calling the imaging center where I had my last MRI done; we weren't sure they'd have the film since legally they're only required to keep the records for 7 years. Luckily, they did, so I stopped over to pick them up on CD on my way home from doctor's; I would bring this to the imaging place so the radiologist there could compare the old and new films.

When I got home I called insurance company to double-check on the copay, which I was guessing would be about $200. Alas, because I have a $500 deductible which I'd forgotten about, my cost for the 2 MRIs would be about $625.

I don't want to spend that kind of money, especially when I'm not working. Getting the MRIs could have given me some peace of mind if they showed, as they did over 10 years ago, very little change, although they could also trigger further discussion with doc if it indicated a big change for the worse. None of the MS drugs are 100%, so you can't expect no issues at all.

So the question is, are my symptoms a flare-up of old disease activity, or something new? I'm guessing it's the former, since I've always been affected on the right side of my body and these symptoms similar to what I've had before. Plus, my symptoms are on and off and don't last 24 hours, which is what technically constitutes a relapse.

Unless they suddenly worsen, I'll just watch and monitor. If at some point I have another need to pay for the $500 annual deductible, then I could more easily consider going back and getting the MRI done in the same year.

So I did waste the $40 copay for seeing the doctor today, because seeing if he'd agree with me about the MRI and telling him about my symptoms was the sole reason for my visit.

Another one bites the dust?

January 24th, 2017 at 02:44 pm

Honestly, sometimes it seems like you just can't win.

The recruiter who submitted me for a contract job with Ivy League school to do editing and writing called me tonight and said preliminary feedback from the school was they wanted someone who did more "editorial writing, not advertising."

I've done relativity little advertising copywriting. But I know sometimes when people aren't in the marketing business, they muddle the words and think marketing is advertising. And I think what the woman really meant was marketing. Yes, I've done a ton of marketing, but I've also done a ton of journalism-type writing where you're not trying to sell anything, aka "editorial."

I tried to relay this to the recruiter, reviewing with her in great detail examples of this. I learned she submitted 4 other candidates to the school besides me and will be talking to the school tomorrow morning.

After I got off the phone with her, I followed up with a lengthy email just summarizing everything for her in case she missed some points taking notes while I was talking.

It's the best I can do.

I'm so frustrated.

Stingy employers

January 24th, 2017 at 07:42 am

This morning i had a phone interview with the home remodeling company.

The woman who interviewed me has only been in her job for about 6 months and the marketing department referenced in the ad consists of her and a designer they just hired.

I could tell she was inexperienced because at one point she asked me when I graduated from college, which is basically like asking how old I was. I avoided answering.

She wanted me to write 2 unpaid 500-word articles on 2 different topics and turn them in within a day or two as she wants to decide who to call in for interviews, based on the writing samples, by end of this week.

It's a full time job that would require me to be there on site but they will pay based on an hourly rate of $12 to $14 an hour, which is less than what I'm making now freelancing for the higher education website where I don't have to drive anywhere. Of course, I don't work a full 40 hours weekly for the higher education website.

This new job would be a 65-minute drive one way and benefits that include medical coverage and paid vacation would not start til AFTER 1 YEAR.


I told her I'd think about it but I already sent her an email declining to pursue it, and I laid out all the reasons above.

The classier companies that ask writers to do unpaid work as a "test" will pay for their time (like the company I interviewed with last week) and to ask for more than one free piece of writing is a bit much, let alone they need it in a day or two.

Having to wait a year for medical coverage just wouldn't work since my COBRA would run out before I was eligible to get medical coverage at the new company.

Just like when you're dating, you have to weed through a lot of crappy jobs to find a good one.

Job search activity

January 23rd, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Job activity seems to have picked up a bit lately. Learned of a few dead-ends today but something new also that I'm excited about.

First, the dead-ends....

There was one contract job I applied for thru a recruiter with a toolmaker here in Connecticut, but I was told today they passed on me because they wanted more "creative" writing samples. I had sent more technical writing samples given its manufacturing. Go figure. I have a ton of creative samples online on my Coroflot page, which is shown at top of my resume, but I guess they didn't bother to look. I decided to let it lie.

There was another contract job through a different recruiter with an in vitro/fertility company, but I learned today they had a problem with funding, which was based on some sort of grant, for the position so for now it's a no-go. Not a huge loss since they were only paying $20/hr.

The perm job I had an interview for last Monday is still up in the air as he is traveling.

But today one of the recruiters came back to me with another contract job with Yale School of Management, writing and editing for a few months. This sounds most interesting to me of all of them. Pay is $30/hr.

I often see writing jobs at Yale but have never gotten a response when I sent a resume; maybe having done some contract work for a few months would be enough to break the ice and pave the way for more. It also would look nice to have an Ivy League on my resume.

New Haven is a lengthier drive, probably an hour with traffic, but it would only be for about 3 months so I think I could deal with it.

If I got that job and assuming I'd start around Feb. 1, it would be just in the nick of time since my benefits run out about 3 benefit checks from now.

UPDATE: Ok, there's one more possibility...I applied for a writer job for a remodeling and renovation company in NY state. This job would be easy for me becus I've done so much real estate writing about construction and design trends and so on. I assumed it was some big company. I got a reply back from the company saying thanks, but we were looking for someone local. I replied back that while I'm in CT, it's a commutable distance (well, barely, at 65 minutes, more than I've said in the past I wanted to drive) and she said ok, i'll let you know and I assumed I wouldn't hear back from them becus maybe they meant more local than 50 minutes.

Later in the day she asked me via email if i could be available for a phone interview tomorrow and I said yes, so I think we're good for 10 a.m.

However, I took some time to review their website and it looks like just one guy with a fairly blah website. So I'm wondering, how in the world could he afford to pay a full-time writer? Granted, they're only looking for someone with 1 year of experience so I am way over-qualified, but even then, my check of salary.com tells me that an entry-level writer in that part of NY should pay about $50K, which would be enough for my needs. I just can't imagine this guy could afford to pay that though, plus benefits. Maybe that's not what he has in mind. The ad specified "full time" and referenced a "growing marketing department."

So I'll be real curious to find out.

In the meantime, I turned in my latest assignment to the higher education website a day early because a nor'easter has arrived, the winds are picking up and we may lose power later today or tonight with strong wind gusts. So I wanted to make sure she got the project on time.

Update on the SafeTrack program. My 3-month tracking period finally ends Jan. 26, 3 days from now. Seems like it was forever. Right now I'm held steady at a 17% discount, which should be applied to my account with 24 to 48 hours, and a refund check will be issued! So that would a savings of $153.

Sunday things

January 22nd, 2017 at 04:13 pm

It's been wonderful to see the turnout of the Million Women (and men) March in cities around the world. As I sit here at home writing letter after letter to my Congresspeople, it sometimes feels like a lost cause, but the marches this weekend of so many like-minded people told me otherwise.

We have only just begun.

Not much news to report...I am now more steadily writing for the higher education website; I have about 3 weeks left of unemployment benefits. I still need something more though.

I'm going to be more exclusively shopping at Aldis since they beat Walmart, BJs, Shop Rite and Trader Joe prices. They don't have everything I buy but they have a fair amount of stuff I buy regularly like old-fashioned oatmeal, almond or soymilk and some fresh produce.

I walked 50 minutes today and filled all 24 boxes of the Daily Dozen, not an easy feat.

Did anyone see the first episode of "Victoria" on PBS? I thought it was very good and can't wait to see the next showing. People just can't seem to get enough of made for TV movies on British royalty, but about all the other royalty in other countries?

How the interview went

January 20th, 2017 at 07:47 am

I had my phone interview just now.

As usual, I over-prepared with lengthy written notes and touch points, but I find this is always a helpful process for me to organize my thoughts and ensure that I touch on the most important things; it also helps me formulate questions for the employer, should they ask, and yes, he did.

I found the hiring manager pretty easy to talk to and I felt he was especially candid in telling me about the challenges of the job, i.e., he said there was a "high degree of stress points" due to clients' unreasonable expectations, tight deadlines and sales reps breathing down your neck.

The writing I'd be doing is not directly related to higher education, although having some general knowledge in that area helps. I'd be writing "sponsored content," aka paid advertising, in the form of thought leadership interviews and longish articles about various clients' products or services which would be of interest to C-level university execs/readers of this company's magazines.

There's also the fairly technical aspect of much of the writing to consider. A lot of the stories I browsed were about products used to streamline dining card processing at universities or other software or systems that simplify mass transactions of one kind or another. There would be a definite learning curve.

So I am feeling some hesitation. I want a job I will enjoy and be challenged by, yes, but not one that raises my blood pressure too much.

My interviewer said he's traveling soon and the candidate selection process would probably start with a paid writing assignment for some of the candidates, followed by an in-person interview.

Coincidentally, the man's son graduated from my alma mater.

Hooray, a Phone Interview

January 18th, 2017 at 07:44 am

Patient Saver has been patiently waiting for the right job to come along.

I saw an online ad this morning that sounded like it could be a good fit, writing case studies and thought leadership interviews for an educational publisher of 2 magazines about 35 minutes from home.

Literally 5 minutes after sending my resume and writing samples I got a reply from the hiring manager. Which is SO nice when I stop to consider how many jobs I've applied for and never heard a word from. We scheduled a phone interview for this Friday morning.

The job doesn't pay much....mid $40s, which is less than half what I made at the bank. Gosh. It's amazing how much pay for the same writer could vary, depending on the employer. After taxes, it would probably JUST cover my annual expenses (usually around $40K), NOT including any further retirement savings. However, it comes with full benefits and the all-important health insurance.

I have to keep reminding myself that with the mortgage paid off and a very nice retirement nest egg, that I can afford to take a lower paying job..as long as I get the health insurance coverage. Even with no further contributions to my retirement savings, I think it would grow over the next few years to where I want it to be.

Right now health insurance thru my former employer is $525/mth. It's a huge expense, and COBRA expires early next year, so I knew I'd have to leapfrog to another employer-sponsored plan some time in 2017 or face who knows what costs under the Trump administration.

My health is great, but the MS meds I take daily would not be affordable if I had no health insurance. Something like $3,000/mth. So employment, for the sake of health insurance (not a paycheck) is really the biggest thing for me.

Back in 2004-2007 I worked at a job right in town starting at $50K. I worried at the time whether that salary was high enough (it was), and that was when I still had the mortgage. So I should be able to swing it making $5k less than that, without the mortgage and not worrying about further contributions to retirement. I can still easily max out my annual IRA contributions by simply doing a transfer from taxable savings into a Roth account. No fuss, no muss.

Anyway, it's just a phone interview at this point, but I hope it works out. I've been trying to ramp up my freelance writing for the educational website I've mentioned before, but I would be hard-pressed to gross more than $900 monthly with them due to their pay scale, and that's just not going to cut it long term.

Toiling away

January 13th, 2017 at 11:45 am

I'm working on my 3rd freelance assignment from the online education site. This one is 2250 words compared to the previous ones in the 1000 word range, so I earn $225 instead of $100, but it's considerably more work.

The 2250 words are broken up into descriptions of 15 different schools, or 150 words each.

Problem is, when I make a point to track my time, I see I'm spending too much time on each 150-word school write-up, like 1.5 or even 2 hours. I spend half the time reviewing the site and gathering info and the other half, roughly, to write it but inevitably i wind up with 300 words or more so i then have to spend more time to get it down to just 150 words without taking out the good stuff. It's a fairly time-consuming process.

I hold myself to pretty high standards, and if I want these to be something I could use as writing samples, then they need to be well-written. It's just that it brings my hourly rate down very low, which i guess bothers me more from a psychological point of view than anything else. I think I need to stop worrying about the hourly rate, since I'm home all day anyway, and just focus on how much money I'm making and how much I need.

From that point of view, grossing $900 monthly instead of $400 monthly (or nothing at all) sounds better than nothing.

Does anyone have a Sierra Trading Post near them? A new store opened up by me and while I haven't been to the physical store yet, the website seemed to have a lot of things I might like to buy.

I'm on day three of Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen diet and doing pretty well although I've noticed there are so many servings of beans and greens required daily that you pretty much have to include beans and greens in both lunch and dinner, and I could see where I would get tired of this after a while. On the plus side, you don't have to count calories or do much measuring. And you also certainly don't go hungry.

Ugh. I'm taking a break with my chai tea and suppose I should really try to write a 3rd school (out of the 15 total) I need to complete for this assignment.

I saw a racoon wandering by the house earlier and so I threw out a pot of burnt popcorn for him although I don't know that he found it.

More great deals at Aldi's

January 11th, 2017 at 01:00 pm

So I walked past all the processed crap (and they do have a lot of it) and spent all my time by the fresh produce.

6 oz of blackberries at $1.99 each? I got 2 of those!
A whole fresh pineapple for .79!
Another clamshell of 6 kiwi for $1.99 (or .33 each).
A mango for .49.
A bunch of bananas for $1.
A bag of organic pears, $2.99
A half gallon of organic almond milk for $1.99, which beats both BJs and WalMart.

I even found organic mini cucumbers (organic cukes of any kind seem nearly impossible to find) and they were a bit pricey at $3.49 but what the heck.

It's nice saving money. I think I'm hooked on Aldi's now and will make a point to include that store in my weekly stops, or whenever I'm in that area, which is often.

I treated myself to a nice little hyacinth growing long roots in a clear glass jar for $2.99. It's looking good on kitchen windowsill and can't wait to see it bloom. I can keep the glass to use again and just buy the bulbs if I like.

The weather's warm today (and tomorrow) for January. I should walk before it gets dark.

Holding my breath

January 11th, 2017 at 07:47 am

I was getting ready to head out to run several errands when I got a call out of the blue from a recruiter about a remote, p/t, 3-month contract job.

Even though it's of limited duration and only pays $20 an hour (I usually average between $30 and $50/hr for contract work), I would love to get this job since it would represent the first steady work I've had in nearly 6 months.

The company is about an hour from here and is in the IVF business, helping infertile couples conceive.

Doing this work would add to my healthcare copywriting body of work, making it easier to get more healthcare writing jobs in the future when I have a largely financial services copywriting background. I've always had the interest in doing this but employers tend to pigeonhole you, making it difficult to do anything different than what you've BEEN doing. It's always good to broaden your horizons and your capabilities.

I sent the recruiter my latest resume version, which includes the volunteer writing I'm doing for NutritionFacts.org, which should help, along with a bunch of healthcare-related writing samples. Even though I've done mostly financial copywriting, while at the bank I wrote some healthcare-related case studies for the bank's small business division, and also some medical debt web stories while working for another employer a few years back.

So I'm sort of holding my breath and afraid to leave the house, in case the recruiter calls and wants to schedule an interview. I haven't asked the recruiter if they are exclusive with their client or if they're competing with other agencies, which is usually the case.

A quiet day at Lake Wobegone

January 9th, 2017 at 02:45 pm

Didn't do a whole heck of a lot. But then, it's darn cold out there.

1. I shoveled out another portion of driveway so I can turn around at the top as I usually do (instead of going in reverse down the whole 100 feet)

2. Would you believe an equipment rental place that works with the nursing home where my mother was actually billed Medicare for a wheelchair and leg rests, 1 year after my mother passed away? These people are inept. So I had to scan and email the people to let them know.

3. I made a new batch of granola.

4. I made a potato corn soup that came out way to watery but I will eat it anyway since I hate wasting food; I was just trying to use up some potatoes from a bag of organic spuds I'd bought for some Christmas recipe.

5. Researched costs associated with making my own turmeric capsules. Daily turmeric is among the Daily Dozen recommended in Dr. Greger's book, which i'm a big fan of, and since I don't always make something where I could sprinkle turmeric on it, i could save money by making my own capsules. Each bottle of pills with about 4 months worth is about $16.

Buying it in bulk and just sprinkling in a smoothie or on food would be even cheaper, but I'm not into the daily smoothie habit yet.

6. I made myself a little grid so I could more easily track whether I get all of the Daily Dozen foods in. These include x servings of fruits, veggies as well as nuts, berries, flaxseed, turmeric, beans and cruciferous veggie.

7. Picked up Waldo's meds at vet.

Honestly, that's all I did today.

Is it worth it?

January 6th, 2017 at 02:58 pm

So BJs has a credit card they're always pitching to me. It's 3% cash back on club purchases, 2% on dining out and gas purchases and 1% on everything else.

Plus. you get .10 off per gallon of gas all year long. In 2016 I only spent $558 in gas, mainly because I worked at home 2 days a week and then I got laid off. So figuring I'd get about 10 gallons of gas a week, the savings with BJs credit card would only be $52 saved a year, BUT I see they are now saying you also get $10 off your membership renewal every year, so I'd pay $40 instead of $50.

I used to split the membership with my mother and pay $25; I just sent off a note to my cousin in Jersey to see if she'd want to split it, since you can add one family member to your membership and get them a card.

So, I don't know, would you bother getting yet another credit card to save just $62 a year, but also for every year I had the card? I guess not....I suppose my driving mileage could increase should I get a job.

DRAT. I'm back down to a 16% savings on my car insurance with just 3.5 more weeks to go. And that doesn't include today's driving, which may have included 1 or 2 "hard brakes." It's virtually impossible to drive without "hard brakes," is what I have learned.

Mundane details of my life

January 4th, 2017 at 03:17 pm

Great Falls, woven painting

I tried a recipe for lentil burgers that someone posted on a Facebook site I frequent and it came out really good. It was equal parts rice/quinoa (but you could use any kind of grain) and walnuts, and a bit less lentils, plus carrot and spices. I think it was the walnuts that made it so appealing. I'm having the last patty for dinner tonight.

Speaking of food, I was at Trader Joe's today and will be at BJs tomorrow. There are certain items I like to get at certain stores, either because of price or because I can only get a particular brand at a certain store, so I end up going to countless grocery stores, it seems.

Now that I'm getting the $10 off Staples coupons with some regularity (because I'm using them), I'm going to start using those coupons exclusively on Charmin TP. When I calculated the per roll price I pay at BJs, even with their $3 coupon, it's not especially cheap at .84/roll. The price for same item at Staples would be .79/roll, and if I use the $10 coupon for it, it's just .37 a roll.

It's the little things that make me giddy.

Today I was up at the gallery to fetch the art (nothing sold) and hopefully collect payment for art sold last year. Seems she has cash flow issues so I should receive half of it in a week or so. And she can keep all the art for another month, which is fine by me, cus i don't have room at home and it won't sell sitting at home.

She also put me in touch with a place that can scan large photos. I have an old family portrait from probably the late 1930s which is beginning to develop tiny black spots of mold or whatever. It's upsetting, given it sat in my grandmother's dining room for decades perfectly fine. I guess it's just age, but I do feel responsible for preserving this irreplaceable sepia photo of 20 members of my grandfather's family.

The photo is too big for my printer scanner and the place is local, so I will go there tomorrow. He can create digitized copies I can mail to my cousins and to keep myself, but I probably can do nothing to preserve the original itself, which makes me a little sad. Photos just don't last forever, and the high summer humidity in my home probably didn't help. So I'm anxious to do this. My cousin's son will ultimately get the original from me anyway, in about 30 years, but in the meantime he could get an enlargement made with what I send him.

I'm totally annoyed with the woman who is supposed to be feeding me freelance assignments at this website where I wrote 2 pieces. She is totally unreliable. She keeps saying she will get me the next assignment "next week," and then by next Friday when I say do you have something for me, she says I'll have something for you today, and still nothing. Just annoying. It's happened 3 times already, and I'm still waiting. NOt much I can do about it but I almost feel like sending a note to someone at her company.

I squeezed in a walk toward day's end and ran into a neighbor who used to live on my street but then got divorced and later moved into a house still very nearby. She's always out walking her dog so we walked together for a bit, and she invited me to "knock on my door" if I ever want to go walking together. Which I think would be nice. She works at home part of the week and at some other job 3x a week, exactly the kind of schedule I aspire to, although I really need employer-subsidized health insurance.

I met with my Vanguard adviser today to discuss in more detail my retirement savings and the report they did in response to my question, if i never again get a f/t job, will i manage in retirement? The plan still includes my earning at least $24k annually starting this year and until I'm age 65. I need to do some rearranging of my portfolio, consolidating certain funds and so on, which could somewhat reduce my annual fees becus I'd be consolidating into fewer funds. But overall it looks okay.

I managed to copy all my photos and disks onto 3 CDs for backup, something I'm really bad at doing and of course I'd be horrified if my computer ever went on the fritz. Not sure if I'm crazy about storing stuff "in the cloud."

I'm making progress finishing reading Garth Davis' book on proteinaholics.

Grocery shopping satisfaction

January 2nd, 2017 at 09:41 am

I really need to go to Aldi's more. You know how you go to a wholesale club like Costco or BJs and the final bill is kind of...staggering?

I got a good enough amount of healthy food at Aldi's and the bill came to...$18.

I won't buy 80% of the stuff they sell there that's processed or has various ingredients like preservatives or high fructose corn syrup, to name a few, and I also shy away from canned foods due to BPA lining in most of them and even plastic containers. I look for paper or glass packaging. A little limiting, yes i know.

However, I bought 2 half gallons of organic soymilk for $1.99 each, which is really a great price. I also got a small bag of 6 red onions for $1.99, a fresh pineapple for $1.29, grapefruit for .89 each, a small bag of sweet potatoes for .89, an eggplant for $1.29, organic arugula for .98, a carton of kiwi for $1.99 and both blackberries and raspberries, non-organic, 6 oz containers for .99 each. (Last winter I relied more on frozen organic berries, which can be had for a good price at BJs, but truth be told, I don't like them frozen in my cereal.)

And now they take credit cards.

On a sad note, I only today learned that Sicily Yoder, the Amish fiction writer who liked to post here, passed away 3 years ago from the flu, shortly after asking us here which photos we liked best for her upcoming book.

I'm just shocked. She was only 44. I only learned of it because someone here left a comment on a blog post (causing the entry to show up as a message in my email) where someone in Sicily's family, probably a daughter, told of her passing a few months earlier, after her last post here, in 2014.

My New Year's Wish for You

January 1st, 2017 at 06:34 am

Happy New Year to all my SA friends. Here's wishing you a year without financial worries, the wisdom to invest in what's meaningful and the clarity to know what's not.

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