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Archive for July, 2013

Relaxing Sunday, July in Review

July 28th, 2013 at 11:11 am

After all the drama of Luther's escape, it is nice to have a peaceful Saturday and Sunday. He no longer seems to be favoring the one paw. He is eating well. I only managed to get one painkiller in him, on the day I took him to the vet, but after that he wouldn't take it in a soft treat. I don't think he needs them anymore. He is his old, loving self. I managed to pull another tick or two off from around his eyelids and they appeared to be dead, so I think the tick meds are working.

Expenses for the month of July are way out of whack, but that's what happens on the two months a year I have to pay property taxes of $2928 each time. So, with just a few more days to go in the month, it looks like my monthly expenses will be in the $5100 range (that's way high, not only due to the taxes but also a bunch of unusual or once annual costs like my borough tax ($156), car registration ($90), dump sticker ($85) and of course there were my sunroom blinds ($317) the cordless drill ($42) I bought to put them up, plus medical expenses for the Lyme ($250) and I guess that's about it.

My income was good this month (including $563 from freelance income and $435 in credit card rewards) but not good enough to absorb 6 months' worth of property taxes.

I did a little email editing for one of my clients, and expect to have something else to do for him tonight. I like working for him on a weekend when he doesn't need me to turn it around immediately.

Yesterday I got some long overdue weeding done in the front perennial bed and spread the last of my mulch over layers of newspaper. It looks much better. This morning I got started on my back brick patio. I'm about halfway through with it. Pulled up some poison ivy with plastic disposable gloves and filled up a wheelbarrow full of weeds. Hope to get out there again this afternoon to more or less finish that section.

The whole yard has gone wild due to my not tending to it for the past month of brutal heat.

I made another pitcher of hibiscus tea as well as a cold salad for work tomorrow: homegrown cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. I may slice up a homegrown green pepper for it too.

Contemplating going to Shop Rite later. Not sure if I will.

I also put up the little brackets for the shades that allow you to tie the cords around them. I had delayed doing that as I wasn't sure I wanted to mess up the nice, clean look of the window trim, but I'm glad I did, because otherwise you'd see the cords dangling on the benches and it looks better now, I think. It was easy, didn't bother using the cordless drill except to drill starter holes.

I probably should do some vacuuming.

Spoke Too Soon: Trip to Vet

July 26th, 2013 at 12:09 pm

I thought he was doing okay after the 2nd floor Leap to Freedom, but he is favoring one front paw, and he is definitely having trouble doing very low jumps up now, in the house.

So I took him to the new emergency vet center right in town. No appointment necessary. The good news is, vet said obviously no broken bones, since he's walking, though he could have a sprain or pulled tendon. Hard to know which, but he didn't think x-ray were necessary, lucky for me since they run $300. He said rest is best, though easier said than done. He gave me some pain meds for 4 days.

He declined to try to remove the 4 or 5 tiny ticks on the cat's outer eyelid. Yes, gross. I removed 2 tiny ticks from his ears. He said if I give him the over the counter stuff I got at Wal-Mart (a cheaper version of Frontline), they should drop off. I'm afraid I'll jab him in the eye if he struggles if I try to remove them with tweezers.

It cost me $140 for the exam/meds, plus another $22 for the Pet Armor. I gave him his pain med in a treat and he ate it fine. Then I applied the Pet Armor and was determined to sit with Luther in one room for an hour to make sure he didn't try to lick it off his shoulders, something that Waldo did once and had a horrible reaction with frothing at the mouth. Luther did fine, and didn't seem to know I'd applied it.

They always say on the directions to make sure you get it on the skin, not the fur, but of course his fur is so thick around his neck and this liquid stuff doesn't really seem to be absorbed by the skin alone. You're supposed to apply it all on the same spot. I did the best I could; I hope it works as those ticks around his eyes are gross.

I finished my own meds for the lyme disease a few days and have noticed a few headaches returning since I stopped them. They would probably have me do a 2nd round of 3 weeks of antibiotics if I wanted to, but thing is, I can't see the doc again until next Thursday, Aug. 1, since I am not effective on my new health plan til then. Til then, I will have to tough it out and continue my herbs which I've been doing with the meds all along.

I would really like to move away from here to a place where I don't have to think so much about ticks and disease.

PS I managed to pull off 2 of the tiny ticks from around his eyes with blunt tweezers. He really didn't struggle, but after that, he started protesting, so will let him be for a while. There are at least 2 more there that I see.

Luther's Excellent Adventure

July 25th, 2013 at 07:26 pm

Where did the day go? I left in the morning to hit Trader Joe's, the bank, the gas station and the landfill. When I got home, I had lunch and then decided to drive up to my neighbor's behind me as he'd said I could pick berries on their property. He invited me in for some tea and we shot the breeze for about an hour; then I went to pick berries.

I got home I guess around 3, and at some point after that, I decided to mow the front lawn. 40 minutes later, I'm done and go back in the house. Feeling tired, I went to lay down for a while, and got up around 6 to make dinner.

I was just finishing up the dishes after dinner when I realized I hadn't seen Luther in a while and it was feeding time for them. He loves his kibble.

I start doing a whole house search. Can't find him. Then I remembered with a shock that at some point earlier in the afternoon, I'd noticed a screen from an upstairs window had fallen down to the brick patio below. I'd thought nothing of it, really. I knew that screen did not fit well in the window and had fallen out before. But I'd totally forgotten that I'd left that window open maybe about 4 inches at the bottom. Enough for Luther to squeeze through….and jump to the hard brick patio below, a distance of maybe 12 feet.

I couldn't believe he'd done that. But then, this is the same fearless cat that clawed away my flexible dryer vent in the basement and crawled through the 4 inch wide circular opening for the hose to gain access through the basement wall and then jump about 8 feet down to the hard concrete floor of my garage. Thank God I hadn't left the garage door open that day.

But getting back to Luther's escape today. I began freaking out because I couldn’t remember when I'd noticed that fallen screen. Either Luther decided to squeeze himself through the window and then pushed the screen out himself before jumping, or the screen fell out by itself and he at some point discovered it when he jumped onto the window and took advantage.

I circled the perimeter of my yard, calling and calling for him. I brought out his kibble and shook it as the sound usually gets him running. I called my neighbors behind me (where I'd been picking berries earlier) and asked them to keep an eye out, but by this time it was around 8 and already getting dark. I was feeling increasing alarm as I knew once it became completely dark I couldn't find him and he'd have to stay out all night. And we have coyotes around here. Who knows if he'd be around in the morning, or if I'd ever see him again. I don't think there's a very good track record of people finding lost pets, especially those that are indoor animals to begin with.

I drove up to my neighbors and walked around calling for him there, but I didn't really think he'd go that far away. I was picturing him being so fascinated by the vegetation that he would just slink into the undergrowth to explore, and could very well be within earshot of me but ignoring my calls.

I went inside the house and gave vent to my fears, sobbing a little, and then decided to go out one more time around 9:30 pm. I bundled up in a hooded sweatshirt and pants and my rubber boots so the mosquitoes wouldn’t eat me alive, and grabbed my flashlight. I'd left the garage door open, and checked in there for the 4th time, just to be sure the cat hadn't wandered in there. And there he was, mewing, and looking a little scared. I picked him up and brought him toward the front door, when he had the nerve to hiss at me. Evidently, he wasn't ready to end his little adventure.

I am so relieved. I pictured coyotes getting him, or my neighbor's three dogs, who just two days ago got a hold of a woodchuck. Luther doesn't like me to touch him or check him out too much; he’s a very independent cat. I observed him to make sure I didn't see a limp, a possible injury from jumping from that height, and I didn't see any swelling in his paws. I did notice him scratching a little.

I will have to run out first thing to get some Frontline, which I think is prescription-free now, and maybe a flea comb. I sure don't want him transmitting fleas to Waldo or anywhere on the house, or ticks to me.

I will have to be super careful with cracking windows open. Generally, I open the top half of them only on the second floor, in case the cat should push open the screen with his weight, since the screens (Andersen) actually have a warning printed on them about children possibly doing that. But it's been so hot lately (today is quite cool) I'd opened the windows at the bottom as well, but only a few inches. Luther is getting better at crawling in tight spaces.
So he was probably out there for at least 6 hours. I sure hope he doesn't have fleas/ticks, or if he does, that I can rein it in quickly by applying Frontline.

Hot as Hades today

July 18th, 2013 at 01:37 pm

Inside my house its 88 degrees; outside temp is 95 and with humidity, over 100.

Cats still in basement; me a glutton for punishment, upstairs with ceiling fan a-whirl.

I left around noon and went to the landfill first. Then to the library, then to fill up on gas at BJs. Connecticut already has high-priced gas, so they thought it fitting to raise gas taxes by .15. BJs is the cheapest around, at I think 3.86/gallon. Inside, I took my time, looking in every aisle, in the air conditioned space. However, I was lazy and didnt bring my cooler with ice paks, so I really didnt think I should be buying anything refrigerated or frozen. Which is too bad, as Im a little low, but I may just shop locally tomorrow, with the cooler. Maybe Trader Joes.

I did buy two refrigerated things at BJs: some of their organic salad greens and something new: Holy Guacamole. I got 6 small containers and froze 5 of them. Woofed down the 6th with some nice crackers. It wad delicious. Ive bought avocados before but they seem to go bad in a day, and I cant use a whole avocado in one salad.

Ive begun to pick wineberries in my yard. This is the time they ripen. I wont go crazy like in past years since thats a good way to pick up ticks and more Lyme disease, but I am picking from the relative safety of a mowed lawn. About a cup a day. Im freezing them for winter use when berries are scarce.

No freelance work for the past few weeks. Frown I have about $420 in outstanding billables that should be paid any day now.

Tonight is a Netflix night. Smile

Ive completed my spending for the last bonus credit card. I am waiting (so impatiently) for rewards on 4 different cards.

The Thunder Goddess speaks

July 18th, 2013 at 04:41 am

Heat index to be over 100 today. Ugh. I hate this weather. Its much easier to deal with when I can get in my air-conditioned car and head to my air-conditioned office.

Today Im off though. The good thing is that for the past 3 days, I put both cats in the basement with their water dish and food, and blocked the little cat door at the top of the stairs with 2 44 lb boxes of cat litter Smile Luther is quite strong, but not strong enough to move that.

They seemed to weather it okay. They mostly sleep anyway, as far as I know. And now, it seems Luther voluntarily goes down there even before I lock them in.

Im trying to give them a little break from the dank basement, though, so am hoping to hang out here until about 10:30 am, when I suspect it will just get too hot; at that point, Ill put them in the basement and head out to do my errands, which today will include a trip to the landfill, a gas tank fill-up and maybe BJs.

My new health kick these days is drinking hibiscus tea. I came upon a new healthy food website (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/better-than-green-tea/) and liked this video comparing the antioxidant levels of nearly 300 beverages. #1 on the list, even higher than green tea, was hibiscus.
I especially love making this because theres no need to use energy or heat up the kitchen; a cold brew is all thats needed. Simply take 8 cups water and add 4 hibiscus tea bags (I used raspberry hibiscusjust make sure hibiscus is listed s the #1 ingredient), add a healthy sweetener like Stevia and lemon juice from a half lemon.). Let it sit overnight and oilayoure done. Tastes like a healthy version of fruit punch, no kidding. Im also trying to cut back on black tea, partly because the tannins interfere with the bodys ability to absorb Vit. D, so then you have to take extra magnesium. Ill still have 1 cup of black tea daily and then the rest of the day drink the hibiscus tea.

Anyway, Im rather liking the nutritionfacts.org website. The doctor in the video presents all the scientific studies and hes a bit dorky, but the subject matter and topics are right up my alley.


I got in my full 3 days, or 23.25 hours, this week. I got a brief email reply back to the job fair email I just sent John this a.m. He didnt say anything further about the money he owes me, so hopefully hell just mail it. His nickname for me is Thunder Goddess. I think this is a carry-over from when we worked together 4 years ago. I am rather fond of the name. Smile And he alternately refers to himself as the Thunder Goddess sugar daddy and the checks as Thunder Goddess tax breaks. He cracks me up.

What would you do?

July 17th, 2013 at 04:16 am

Im in this weird, uncomfortable situation with my job.

As you may remember, the recruiter agency that told me about this job arbitrarily lowered the rate of pay, from the $35/hr that it initially told me about to $34/hr when I got the offer from the employer. After a few weeks on the job, they tried to lower it AGAIN, to $33/hr. and when I balked, the recruiter (a friend I worked with on a previous job) told me hed pay me the difference of $1/hr out of his own pocket every week. His hope is that the relatively small upfront outlay will pay off down the road if they get more business from the employer who hired me.
So Ive been there about 7 weeks now and each week hes cut me a check for usually about $25. (Im only working 3 days a week.)

Ive been unhappy with the weird arrangement, but what am I going to do? I need the job. Ive also been concerned because Ive worried that if this job goes long term without a perm offer, the recruiter is not going to want to keep paying me that extra $$ forever.
Last week, my boss at the job told me not to come in on Monday because it so happened that neither she nor 2nd in command would be in. Wasnt happy that my 3 days was shrinking to 2, but again, I dont have much say in the matter. She said work has been a little slow.

So as has been my habit, I told my recruiter friend the total number of hours worked, so he could mail me a check.

I got an email from him yesterday saying given my abbreviated week last week, he thought it was safe to say were all setwith the money he pays me. In other words, he wants to skip the check for last week and hes hoping I wont mind. Umm, given my abbreviated work week, I need it even more! Im pissed that hes using a shorter work week as some kind of excuse to not pay me, perhaps because it would amount to $15 for that week. Id like to tell him he can just add that on to this weeks check.
I mean, his company/recruiting company already ripped me off from the $35/hr.

Not only that, but I was told by him the job was full time, and it wasnt until 10 minutes into my very first day on the job that I learned from my manager that they decided to start me at 3 days a week.Didnt anyone tell you? she said.

Umm, no, no one did. Who dropped the ball? Was it the employer who didnt tell the recruiter or was it the recruiter who didnt tell me? In hindsight, I could have kept my other p/t proofreading job AND this one and I could have been working full time all this time. (Truth be told, I was happy to leave the other job, so boring and low paying.) But it would have been nice to have a backup plan, just in case.

So how would you deal with the email? I was going to just let it go, its just $15. Every dollar counts with me, believe me. Im not working full-time and I have a lot of deferred expenses from almost 4 years of under-employment. Yet Im reluctant to pressure my recruiter friend becus he sincerely is a very nice guy. I guess this is one example of how mixing business with personal friendships is not always a good idea.

Got the blinds up

July 13th, 2013 at 05:47 am

Rather than wait for my friend-with-a-drills availability, I decided to buy myself a cordless drill ($40 at Home Depot) and drill set ($4 at WalMart) and get my six bamboo shades up myself. I figure its about time a woman of my age learned how to use a drill instead of struggling mightily for hours with screwdrivers and such.

Here they are:



Arent they great? It still took me twice as long to get them up and to figure out how they work (very simple). They dont hang perfectly straight, but thats not a function of how I installed them; its because of the way the bamboo rolls up.

I am pretty happy with them but Im still left wondering what these narrow strips of bamboo are for.



Usually ties like these would be used to tie back fabric curtains to the side, but obviously that wouldnt work with bamboo shades. They already come with little metal prongs you screw into the side to wrap the cord around. Havent done that yet as Im a little reluctant to install more hardware to the wood trim around the windows. Any idea what theyre for? I also doubt theyre meant to wrap around or otherwise support the shades when rolled up, as theres no attachment or hooks on these little strips at all. I will have to call paylessdecor to find out.

The drill worked great, although even then, I still had to start each screw with a screw driver til it grabbed the wood, and then hand-tighten as well as I was working in tight quarters.
On the weekends agenda:

Check out a condo open house (something I do frequently)
Groceries, including one more 6-pak of blueberries at $1.18 at Shop Rite, before sale ends EOD today
Library book sale tomorrow
Continue mowing

Doings

July 11th, 2013 at 04:53 am

I put in my measly 2 days of work this week and wont have to return til Monday.

Meeting a friend to see a matinee with this morning. Shes picking me up at 9:45 am for a 10:30 am movie. I like matinees, but first thing in the a.m. does feel a little weird. Were seeing something mindless with Sandra Bullock in it. My first movie of the summer! She suggested lunch afterwards but I had to decline.too many expenses these days.

This is a relatively new friend (the person I used to share a job with) and the one thing Ive found I dont like about her is that she talks fairly loudly and doesnt seem to mind or care if other people overhear our conversations. I do, especially since shes sometimes talking about off color things that are a little embarrassing. But she seems completely incapable of lowering her voice in deference to others around us. Hmm. Oh well, could be worse, I guess.

Its just 7:27 am here and while it thundered and rained for a while, it did little to cool things down. The air is as thick as a Costa Rican jungle. Not having AC, I hate it; its been like this for over a solid week; it looks like Sunday we may see a meaningful drop in humidity.

I was watching The Bachelorette on Hulu the other night. It was the episode where they all go to Madeira, Portugal. My gosh, what a beautiful town. I actually wrote down the name to remember it. (As if Im traveling anywhere anytime soon.)
My Lyme symptoms have been mostly gone since I started the combined antibiotic/herb regimen, but I woke up with a pretty bad stomachache this a.m., which I can only attribute to the herbs. I hope it goes away before I leave for the movies. Note to self: Bring earplugs to the movie theater. Last time I was at a Loews, the volume was way high.
I may get a haircut this weekend. I have a 50% off coupon at a salon I dont usually frequent.

I used some Amazon gift cards I earned thru surveys to buy some new sneakers, a new nozzle for my garden hose (the old wont turn off now when you use it). Now Ive earned another $20 worth of Amazon gift cards from Delicious Living e-news, so would really like to get an updated AP style book. The one I have is 12 years old; dont imagine it changes much from year to year, but my job really requires that I know it.

I bought a cheapie pear of knee-high rubber boots which I use often in my yard (ticks) but theyve already developed cracks in front where you do a lot of bending, at the front of ankle. Rubber is rubber, or so you would think.

Who was it that was looking for more credit card rewards? I cant remember, but if you go to My Money Blog, they did a July 8 post on Southwest Airlines card: 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in 1st 3 months. Easier than the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Still waiting on my quote for the whole house humidifier; guess Ill have to call him. He was here on was it Monday?

At about 5:30 a.m., I heard the telltale sound of crashing glass bottles and cans, a sign that the recycling pickup truck was on my street. Of course, Id once again forgotten to put my recycling out last night. Darn.

So Im thinking as for credit card rewards, once I wrap up with the last one Im working ona Bankamericard Travel Rewards card (get $100 for spending $500), I may cool it for a while and catch up charging on some of my other cards. Eg, I have a Citi Forward card which enables me to get free Netflix for a year, provided you make some periodic charges to the card, which I havent really been doing cus Ive been so focused on my bigger rewards cards. Also need to charge something to my Amex green card; they actually cancelled it on me a few weeks ago due to inactivity but reinstated it after I called and made a special request. I still havent charged anything on it! Same goes for my USAA card, which isnt a rewards card at all, but that and the Amex card are my 2 oldest cards so I dont want to lose them or it would zing my credit score.

But after I catch up on all that, I may do just ONE more big card this year, and that would be the Southwest Card mentioned above. Ill wait and time my online application to right before a bigger bill comes due, like my car and homeowners insurance in October.

Hooray, I'm approved

July 8th, 2013 at 12:09 pm

After a fairly anxious few weeks, I received a letter in the mail saying Im approved for state health insurance program ($589/month). Because these are state bureaucrats were dealing with, there were various unnecessary delays in processing my application, so instead of getting onto their plan July 1, I will finally be on it effective Aug. 1. Im mailing my premium out tomorrow.

So I foresee being on this plan for the rest of 2013 but will probably look for something better October 1, when the state healthcare exchanges are all set up. In a way, its better for me that my COBRA expired because in June their premiums jumped to $770 a month.

I just have to stay healthy and out of trouble for the rest of July!

My bamboo shades are due to arrive tomorrow, so that means the earliest I can put them up is Thursday. I sure hope they fit properly and that the order was filled correctly. I have 6 sets for my 6 windows. (The French door I may consider doing later.) I was counting on my friend R. to come over with his drill and help me install them, but hes always busy and its been so hot here lately, I dont want to delay the installation by even a week. So I went ahead and ordered a small cordless drill (Skil, $40) from Home Depot; I should have it in a few days, or at least soon enough to get those shades up this weekend. (I hope.)

Today would normally be a work day for me, but the 2 people I report to are both out, so she told me not to come in. I wasnt happy about that. My 3-day-a-week pay will now be 2-day-a-week this week. .
I had a contractor over earlier to check out my oil furnace. I want to get a whole house humidifier to make it more comfortable here in winter months. I always get a sore throat when I wake up in a.m. because the air is so dry. Forced hot air. Should have done this years ago but when I replaced the furnace way back when, they convinced me I should not hook up the existing humidifier becus of concerns about mold. Well, thats not an issue with the newer units.

He said it would take 3 to 4 hours to install, and since I already know the price of an Aprilaire, which he recommended, is about $250 retail, I cant imagine the total price being more than $700 with labor, although there are a few other parts he pointed out that he would replace.

In another month I should have another $600 in credit card rewards (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Amex Blue Cash Everyday and BankAmericard Travel card), so that will help.

I already made my work lunches for the next 2 days: a black bean and corn salad. I usually bring some sort of fruit salad with me as well. Shop Rite had 6 packs of blueberries for $6.99, which works out to $1.15 or so per pint, which is very good these days. So I got a 6 pack and set about rinsing and then freezing them on trays, and then putting them in freezer bags, for winter use. I also went to Caraluzzis today to get a BOGO deal on Ben & Jerrys ice cream, plus I had a $1 coupon for B&J, so the 2 pints cost just $3.18.
Tonight I mow the back lawn, use the trimmer and color my hair.

Whiling away the time indoors, where its cooler(??)

July 6th, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Indoor temp is now 85.I am frustrated that no matter what I do, it always heats up inside, whether Im closing windows and/or drapes or keeping windows open with drapes drawn. Doesnt really make much difference either way. It is true that I have alwys had minimal windows treatments here as I have plenty of privacy. Some windows have valances only, some have wood shutters and some have vinyl binds (which I hate). Soon will have bamboo shades in the sun room. If I had money to spare, Id invest in insulated drapes for both hot weather days like this and winter, but for now am making due with the single pair of long insulated drapes I bought years back for frrench doors. I have closed off most of the upstairs rooms to the cats (except my office, where Im sitting now). Dont want to close the door at top of stairs cus it will just keep all that heat on first floor.

To while away the time indoors, I spent at least an hour on a most unglamorous job: cleaning my kitchen cabinets and other surfaces. With white cabinets, you can see all the smudges around the knobs, and cleaning like this is not something I do often, but I think I made an improvement using those Mr. Cleans bleach sponges and some old-fashioned vinegar. I also worked a while cleaning the banisters on the stairs, which tend to get mold spots on them in this weather.
I made some iced tea this a.m. and am just sitting around as I often do in the heat with nothing but a pair of short shorts and a bra on. Ive been running the ACs more than I usually dowondering what the electric bill will look like.

I spent a few hours tidying up the basement yesterday, again, it gave me a reason to stay down there. It could really use a vacuuming down there, but then Id dislodge the cats. I have a gazillion cans of half-used paint down there and was able to locate 3 gallons of exterior paint I can recycle next month since I now have vinyl on the house.

I did also manage to vacuum the upstairs, but aside from that, nothing too strenuous. Oh yeah, I did run the soaker hose for about 1.25 hours this morning in the veggie garden. I have lots of green cherry tomatoes and cant wait to start enjoying them. I also suddenly noticed I have yellow wax beans ready for picking. Havent spent much time in the garden at all, and I really need to do some weeding there and tie up some gangly tomato vines. I did hang a 2nd cucumber beetle trap today.

Been listening to the radio and doing a few odds and ends online. Got paid $68 from my IT client, for editing his memos and emails. The hardest thing Ill be doing is part 2 of lawn mowing at around 6 pm. Has to be done. Ill reward myself with an ice cold Becks beer in a freezer-cold glass.

Another sweltering day...

July 5th, 2013 at 06:02 pm

Its hard to find the get-up-and-go on such hot days like this one. I made 3 calls to have guys come out to give me estimates on a whole house humidifier for my furnace.

I made my own German potato salad, which uses vinegar and chicken broth instead of mayo. It also has chopped up hard-boiled eggs. I cooked up the entire (5 lb?) bag of organic potatoes for it becus organic potatoes tend to go bad on me very quickly and I hate wasting the money.

Before I knew it, it was time for lunch at moms. I brought some extra potato salad in a cooler with me. Spent some time there catching up with her and browsing her studio since I get to pick out some art for my upcoming birthday. I discovered an oil painting that looked VAGUELY familiar, an impressionistic painting of 3 sailboats on the water. I liked it a lot. She informed me it was very old, and then when I became curious, she went to see if she could find a record of when she did it. She discovered that shed painted it early in her career, in the 60s/70s. Nothing more precise than that. It could well have been painted when I was just a child. Knowing that made me want to own it even more. Who knows? Its possible we may have a family photo somewhere with that painting in the background. Wouldnt that be cool?

Before Id left for my mothers, I decided I was going to put the cats in the basement with their food and water. So I was able to turn all the fans off, but I had to put 2 44 lb. boxes of cat litter in in front of the cat door at the top of the basement stairs to keep Luther from scratching his way out. He tried, but when I chastised him several times, he seemed to settle down, and when I came home I was happy to see hed found a spot on a blanket on a lawn chair down there.

I may have to put them down there again tomorrow for the afternoon, when its been hottest. I dont think the heat is good for them, especially Luther with his long fur. Ive tried cutting it a few times, but he always hates this and hisses at me. It doesnt hurt him at all but hes so fussy about things like that.
I knew I had to start mowing the lawn soon so I went out there to sit and contemplate the growing grass. I really had a hard time getting started because it was still too darn hot at 6 pm. Indoor house temp was 83 degrees, to give you an idea. But, I did finally begin the mowing and will have to continue it 2 more nights to finish front and back.

Oh, I finished my spending on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, the holy grail of cards. Now i can just focus on my bankamericard travel card for a $500 spend; have also racked up $122. Easy peasy.

Weather woes

July 4th, 2013 at 05:54 am

I find this humid, sultry weather so despicable! Hate it.

I posted yesterday that I had just one small window AC; I had totally forgotten about the large portable AC Ive had for a number of years, but hardly ever use.


It's hard to make out in the photo, but it's actually sitting on a black chair.)

It blasts out cold air pretty well and its on roller casters, so you can place it anywhere in the house near a window. I paid a lot of money for it, I think $375 or something like that. Its s got a large, flexible exhaust tube (about the diameter of a dryer hose vent) you have to hook up to the back, and then through a vent that fits inside a window. The problem is that this tube does not screw into the back of the unit or the piece that fits inside the window securely. (You close a double hung window over it.) Its exasperating to work with and keeps popping out of place and as a result, I hardly ever use the thing except when I am desperate. I may call the manufacturer as well, which is long overdue.

I did run it for a few hours Iast night during dinner, in the kitchen. It did a good job of cooling the kitchen, but the cool air didnt really filter into the adjoining dining or living room. This morning I kept the unit in the kitchen but managed to elevate it by lifting it onto a chair directly in front of the window and rejiggered the whole thing. The flexible hose can be pulled out to maybe 10 feet, but when the unit is running, you can feel that hose get very warm, and you have to wonder if its sending warmth right back into the air. So I figure when the unit is right up close to the window with the hose contracted in size to about 1.5 feet, if that will help. I will likely run it again today when the heat gets unbearable.

The worst thing is when we get these really hot days and I have to go to work, because I worry about how the cats fare cooped up in this house alone for a 10-hour stretch. They are not smart enough to go into the cooler basement, and if I locked them down there, Luther would be clawing at the door all 10 hours. At least now through Monday I can monitor the opening and closing of curtains, windows, run the AC as needed, etc. My 3 ceiling fans and 2 large floor fans help as well, though once the humidity reaches a certain point, all they do is blow hot air around.

Heres a picture of the Maharaja chair I acquired about a month ago.



I like it very much. Kind of rustic, but very sturdy and comfortable. Sits in my sunroom.

Ive started my Lyme meds, but had to cut back a bit on one of the herbs Im taking concurrently, the Cats Claw. It was upsetting my stomach.

Going to mothers for lunch tomorrow. I was planning on going to the landfill today, but forgot theyd be closed for the holiday. Im guessing theyll be closed tomorrow, too, so that means I MUST go on Saturday, the busiest day of all, since they are also closed Monday, my last day before returning to work.
Caraluzzis has blueberries this week for $1.88 a pint, cheaper than anywhere else Ive seen. Used to be blueberries went for .99 a pint in summer, and Ive staunchly held off buying them for anything more than that, the result being that I ate no blueberries the last few years.  So, I will cave and buy 2 pints at Caraluzzis today.

I finally got some interesting stuff to do at work yesterday. I started writing website product descriptions for some pillows and throws; I also have another designer bio to write. These are not ordinary product descriptions you might see on any number of retail furniture sites. They practically give an encapsulated history of where the product is made. For instance, I was writing about a pillow yesterday made in Norway using Norwegian lambswool in a woolen mill whose history is closely tied to the history of the town. Its a small copper mining town, and back in 1789, a wealthy but childless mine director left his fortune to establish a foundation to feed and clothe the poor by teaching them how to spin and sew clothes made from lambswool. Anyway, its all very interesting and yes, the product description goes into some detail about all of the above and all. I dont feel like Im writing about a product to sell as much as Im writing about the history of Norways handcraft industry. Theyre very nice pillows, but I dont have $100 to spend on a pillow.

I also wrote about the quality of the raw material: these Norwegian sheep live the good life, roaming at will and munching contentedly on fresh green pasture in the Norwegian mountainsides. Because of the cooler climate, they are not bothered by insects, and thus their wool does not need to be treated with harsh chemicals to clean the wool.

My manager has been making lots of edits to my work and Im finding that she is uber particular about how everything reads. There is a definite tone running throughout the website which she wants to maintain, and being able to mimic that tone exactly to her liking will be difficult. A heavy-handed editor is something that stressed me out in the past, but at this point, Im really just there to be paid and not taking personal ownership of things which just caused me to be possessive about my writing in the past and who messed with it.


Here's a photo of a large mirror my ex-toy designer British neighbor offered me after rescuing it at the dump. He was going to bring it home to his wife, the kind of thing he does all the time, but i guess he figured they had enough to stage their house and it would be just another thing to move. It's in very good condition except that the paint is coming off it and it would need to be sanded and repainted. It's very heavy so I'm not sure I want to try hanging it now.

Close call of the health insurance kind

July 2nd, 2013 at 05:45 pm

If you recall, my COBRA was set to expire June 30. I planned to get onto the Charter Oak plan without a lapse in coverage, but things didnt go exactly as planned.

As it happened, my premium increased for the month of June, from $562/month previously to about $770 a month. The COBRA rep I spoke to suggested that if I didnt think Id need, or could avoid incurring any healthcare expenses for the month of June, that I could save myself the $770 by simply not paying the premium at the start of the month as I usually do. He explained that if I DID need health insurance, I would still be covered for June as long as my premium payment was postmarked June 30; if it turned out I didnt need health coverage, I could just skip it since I knew (or thought I knew) Id be getting onto the state Charter Oak plan.

Would you believe that during the very last week of June I started wondering if I could have Lyme disease (again)? I was feeling very headachey, and the headaches didnt go away. Ive had Lyme 3 times already so I know what it feels like (for me, anyway). By this past Saturday, June 29, I was sure I had it. But it was already too late to mail in the premium since it was Saturday afternoon and the post office closes at 1 pm so no postmark. Not that I wanted to spend the $770 anyway.

So.I began to worry a lot.over the weekend, wondering how I was going to get treatment without health insurance. Theres actually a health clinic in town for people with no health insurance but you have to be under certain income limits. I would be borderline eligible; they determine it on a case by case basis. Theyre free, which is great, but theyre only open on Wednesdays. So I was thinking of trying to get in there, but I had a feeling it wouldnt be until Wednesday (tomorrow) or possibly the following Wednesday, too late for something like Lyme where early treatment is very important.

I even called the local hospital to see what the cost would be; I basically just needed the antibiotics for 3 weeks, which I know from previous experience cost all of $15. They explained the emergency room is very expensive: $600.

OK, forget that.

So this past Monday, after getting no answer at the free clinic, I called my regular primary care doctor and explained my situation, that because of various paperwork delays by Charter Oak, Im not yet covered by them and essentially am in the no mans land of no insurance. She said it would cost me $75 to see my PCP, which I thought was actually a bargain. I figured it would be something like $200. Not only that, but she actually had an opening that afternoon.
I found that out 8:30 am, just before I needed to head to work. I left work early that day for the doc appointment and met with my PCP, whos actually an RN with prescribing ability. Ive been seeing here for probably 15 or 20 years now. When she walked in I could tell immediately shed lost a ton of weight85 lbs, to be exact. We talked quite a bit about that at first, which was good, in a way, because I wanted to warm her up to my proposal that she dispense with the blood test for the Lyme disease and just give me the prescription, to save my money.

She agreed to do that. The blood work, again for an uninsured individual, would no doubthave been several hundred dollars. As it was, those $15 antibiotics wound up costing me $124 because I lack health insurance.

I also spent another $150 on 4 different herbs recommended as part of a protocol by a well-known herbalist who wrote a book about beating lyme disease with herbs. Im not a huge believer in alternative therapies, but I do feel that these herbs helped me get rid of lyme in the past, and Ive heard enough horror stories about intractable Lyme to know I dont want to take any chances with it.

So my total out of pocket for the Lyme, unfortunately, has been $350, still less than that $770 premium for the month of June, but probably not worth it given all my anxiety about my health.
These are things that the average person whos always been covered by an employer health plan never even thinks about.

Here are some of the houses my friend and I visited during this past weekends House & Garden Tour in my town:











There were just 6 properties. In addition to the expected old colonials and saltboxes was a nice log cabin.