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Archive for October, 2014

2015 retirement contribution goals

October 26th, 2014 at 06:18 am

The IRS increased its contribution limits for 401(k) for 2015, and after crunching some numbers, I should be able to easily max out my contributions for the 401k, 401k catch-up, IRA and IRA catch-up, to the tune of $30,500.

Right now I'm contributing to a traditional 401k in the hope that these contributions will lower my taxable income enough so that the traditional IRA contribution I made earlier in the year, before I knew I'd have a perm job, will be fully tax-deductible. To be fully tax-deductible, I have to get my taxable 2014 income down to below $61,000, or at least below $71,000 for partial deductibility.

I THINK I can do that, and this is one reason my current 401k contributions per paycheck are so high, at $1,000 per paycheck.

But next year I will do a Roth 401k and Roth IRA as I'm trying to create a more balanced mix of Roth vs. traditional retirement accounts. I've read about some interesting tax strategies you can use when withdrawing retirement money as income, and having the ability to withdraw a combination of both traditional and Roth IRA monies offers the best tax savings.

Right now, I have much more money in traditional IRAs as I have never felt my tax rate in retirement would be higher than it is now. But for the reason just stated above, I will attempt to create greater equilibrium in Roth vs traditional retirement monies.

Update on my mother:

After my mother told me she didn't want to take the meds which could slow progression of dementia or take the driving assessment, I called the doctor's office to let them know she changed her mind, and was there anything else they could do. I left the message on the nurse's answering machine but the doctor called me back later that same day.

He was very concerned about her not wanting to take the driving assessment, based on her test results, and he stressed that if she would not take the test or took it and failed and continued driving and then got in an accident, that she would be 100% liable because it would become known that she was driving against doctor's orders. She could be sued for everything she has.

I asked the doctor if he would compose a letter on his letterhead reiterating everything he'd just said to me and send me the letter, which I would then go over with my mother.

I called the driving school and cancelled the original appointment; they agreed to do a driving test with her on a Saturday, when I can take her there myself and make sure it gets done.

If she does flunk the test, I have the very unpleasant vision of having to take my mother's car keys away, as well as the car. I'd have to get my sister to drive over with me so that one of us could drive away my mother's car. I would then sell the car for $2,000 or so to a private party and deposit that money in the joint checking account I have with my mother, to be used to help defray the cost of having an aide come to the house a few days a week. This was something my mother already rejected out of hand, but if my mother couldn't drive herself, she'd have to have someone to drive her to grocery shopping and doctor's appointments at the very least.

Although the hourly rate of around $15 to $20 an hour seems reasonable, even having someone come just 2 hours a day twice a week really adds up, to $4,000 on an annual basis. My mother gets just $942 a month from Social Security ($11,304 a year) but she does have $130K in savings. We would have to dip into savings a bit to cover the aide or other transportation options.

(There is a regional, low-cost shuttle bus for seniors that I looked into once before, but they have a fairly involved process and rules for making reservations which seemed a bit beyond my mother to remember. If you are a no-show just a few times they stop accepting your reservation; i guess that was a problem with some riders in the past.) I'll have to call senior center to see what other options there may be.)

To sell the car, however, I need the title, which I noticed was still sitting on my mother's desk when I was there yesterday. She had it out because we had been talking about buying her a new (used) car and we thought we would trade in her current car when we bought the new one from a dealer.

However, after having my mother's mechanic check out her current 96 Subaru wagon with 110,000 miles, he said there was nothing wrong with it save for an issue with the rear differential that if it got worse, would cost more to fix than the value of the car.

So I don't think we would want to sell her current car now anyway as the mileage is not too bad and although it looks like an old car, mechanically it's in decent shape. It just needs new tires, which I'm wondering if I should replace with just middle of the road new tires so that I could sell it more easily.

So though I was tempted to take the title when I saw it on her desk, I was afraid, if she saw it was missing, that she'd go nuts looking for it again after she had such a hard time finding it to begin with. So if I wind up having to take the car keys, I will need to remember to also get the title as well.

Right now I'm in a holding pattern, waiting to receive the doctor's letter this week which I will then show to my mother. I also need to talk to my sister about it, who's been largely out of the picture.

I did go an AARP meeting Friday night for caregivers. It wasn't exactly like a support group but she did go over various resources and such that I haven't had a chance to dig into. I have so little time to make phone calls and such since I have just a half hour during my workday, during my lunch break, when I can make a private call or two on my cell phone sitting in my parked car in the parking garage. If I can't reach someone and have to leave a message, it's a problem since if they call me back at my work phone, I can't have a personal conversation there.

In January, that situation should improve quite a bit as the company, in another cost-saving measure, is going to squeeze 200 people now on 3 floors onto 1 floor of the building. To do that, they have to reconfigure the seating (get rid of the cubicles in favor of long rows of side by side desks...UGH) and most people will be required to work at home to some extent.

I am hopeful that I'll be able to work at home at least 2 days a week, maybe 3, and have already let my boss know I'm really concerned about my ability to write (it's difficult now) when people will be sitting in such close quarters. There are some very loud people who talk in their normal speaking voices or louder as they talk to coworkers sitting further away and there is no custom of hushed conversations as there were in other workplaces I've been in. It amazes me that people can be either oblivious or just not care whether they're disturbing others.

My mother's giving me a nervous breakdown

October 22nd, 2014 at 04:06 pm

I am just so f****** frustrated with my mother right now. I feel like I've had it.

Everything I've done to try to maintain her quality of life (ie, living independently in her condo)has been refused and rebuffed.

Two weeks ago I arranged to have a representative of a home health aide agency come to the house to discuss what they could do to help her. He spent a long time there, but after he left, she said she wasn't interested.

Yesterday I used a vacation day to accompany her to a followup office visit with a neurologist to discuss the results of her testing. He told us she has early dementia (something I long suspected) and recommended 3 things:
1. A medication that can slow progression of memory loss and cognitive decline
2. A driving evaluation to make sure she is still safe driving.
3. So-called physical therapy where they teach you ways to compensate for the memory loss.

I scheduled an appointment for the driving test as well as the physical therapy and she got her prescription. I thought we had made great progress and were at least attempting to take control of things.

Then today she did what she's always done. She read the warning label on the prescription drug, which listed possible side effects of diarrhea and digestive issues, and even though the doctor told us NONE of his patients experienced any side effects, she no longer wants to take the drug.

She has also reneged on taking the driving evaluation because she says she thinks it's "premature" and is doing "fine." And she doesn't want to spent the $185 for the evaluation.

Keep in mind she has plenty of money. She's not frugal. She's just a tightwad.

I am just so upset with her I told her I didn't want to speak to her again. She doesn't get the connection between the medication slowing progression of dementia and prolonging the amount of time she can live as she always has, in her condo. Most rational people would at least try the drug if there was a chance it could improve memory loss, but she has always been anti-medication because she routinely reads prescription warning labels, freaks out at the long list of possible 1-in-a-million side effects and refuses to take the med.

Will I really not speak to her again? I probably will, but I feel like this is my last option, the very last bit of leverage i have. Because I am the only caregiver; my sister wants nothing to do with it and hasn't helped at all.

Why should I jump through hoops to try to help someone who doesn't want to be helped?

I have a neighbor who had her mother, who had Alzheimer's, living with her for a number of years, but the disease worsened and her mother any number of times would wander outside the house late at night (they live on a busy road) in her nightgown screaming that my friend was trying to poison her. Paranoia is a hallmark of late stage AD. Finally, my friend couldn't handle her anymore and she signed over responsibility to care for her to the state, who assigned an attorney to oversee her mother's care. At that point, she was put in a nursing home; I don't think the attorney ever even met the mother.

I've spent so many years planning for a comfortable, fulfilling retirement. I am not looking forward to 10+ years of wrangling with my mother.

I plan to go to a support group this Friday night. I feel constant stress and frustration and I am tired of sacrificing my own time and happiness for nothing. I am angry at my mother for being so god **** stubborn. I am angry at my sister for not giving a s***, and apparently not even caring if she ruins her relationship with me (not that we ever had a good one).

A tough day that could have been worse

October 21st, 2014 at 04:48 pm

I made plans to accompany my mother to her followup visit with a neurologist to go over her test results for dementia/Alzheimer's.

Since I had both that appointment and a podiatrist visit of my own, I had to take the day off today instead of the Friday I had originally planned. Well, I guess that's what PTO (Paid Time Off) is for.

I wasn't sure how my mother was going to take it. I was already pretty sure she has dementia and I know it's been on her mind too.

The doctor didn't make a grand pronouncement, but indicated her test results showed she did somewhat worse than others her age. He then started talking about a medication that can help slow the progression and preserve what memory you still have. My mother was a good candidate for this since she's considered early stage.

My mother's first response was (as I knew it would be) "I don't like taking medications." But between the doctor and me, we talked her into trying it. So she starts at half the normal dose, 1 pill a day for a month, then she goes for a followup visit to see how she's doing and to begin the full dose schedule. A month's supply of the drug only cost her $2.50.

So I asked what the difference was between dementia and Alzheimer's and he said Alzheimer's s just one type of dementia and when I asked point blank if my mother had dementia, he said yes, but in a way that perhaps my mother didn't pick up on.

In addition to the meds, the doctor also suggested what they call physical therapy, but which are actually one or more sessions where they teach the patient different ways to compensate for the loss of memory. I thought this could be very helpful to my mother. Right now she has little notes all over the place, but just keeping track of the notes after a while is too much. So I urged her to try a session of this and and we made the appointment.

Finally, the doctor recommended she get an evaluation of her driving, and I scheduled an appointment there as well. It costs $185 and of course Medicare doesn't cover that, so while my mother protested the high price, she didn't flat out say no or object to the appointment....until later, that is, when she emailed me and said she didn't see what the hurry was and thought it was premature and that it might rain next week. I told her I'd reschedule if it rained, but otherwise, I'm not going to let her off the hook. I sure hope she doesn't give me a hard time becus this appointment is during the week and I can't keep taking days off to take her to her appointments.

When we got out of there, I wrote down all the appointments and what she needed to do on a single piece of paper and she was very appreciative as she said it was all "overwhelming."

After that, I went to drop off trash at the landfill, got my hair cut at Great Clips and did some grocery shopping. When I got home, I raked a part of the lawn where the pine needles are too thick for the mower to mulch, and I also raked up piles of leaves collecting in the driveway. I made some baba ganousch with 2 eggplant I had and a big pot of soup for lunches for the rest of the week.

One other thing happened that concerns me. Last night when I got home I noticed one of the cats had spit up on the stair. It's not an uncommon occurrence but this time it was bright red and looked like blood. Both cats appear perfectly fine. But last week was when Luther ate a long (3 to 4 inch) pine needle, although he later barfed up a hairball and I could see tiny bits of the pine needle embedded in it. I don't know if that was part of the pine needle or all of it.

And Waldo last night was sort of acting like something was stuck in his throat. As I said, they both seem fine now.

I was debating whether to try catching Waldo to bring him to the vet, but I honestly don't know which cat may have spit up that blood, given the little bit of background I told you about here.

Luther also does play too rough with Waldo, but again, it looks like bright red spit up. So I am still worried about it but haven't done anything about it. The good thing is there's a new 24/7 vet's hospital right down the road from me and you don't need an appointment. They are open day and night. So if I need to, I can zip down there with either cat.

I had thought maybe it was a dental issue or abscessed tooth with Waldo, but he has been eating fine so I don't think he would be if had a bad toothache.

All in all, i feel like I got a lot accomplished today without too much stress. I'm very appreciative of having the ability to take a day off from work and still get paid, a perk of a perm job. Tomorrow it's back to work. It was nice to have this breather in the middle of the week, even if the things I had to deal with were not so pleasant.

Weekend wrap-up

October 19th, 2014 at 12:10 pm

I bought a new hot water heater insulation wrap at Lowes since I replaced the hot water heater last year sometime. I'm not sure I'll get to putting it on today (in fact, I probably won't), but it'll go on my To Do list for next weekend.

Tuesday is going to be a tough day. It's the day my mother has a follow-up doc appt. when we will learn if she has dementia or Alzheimer's. I don't know how she will take it but I know it is definitely a concern for her.

I have a podiatrist appt of my own in the morning and then I will head straight to my mother's doctor's office after that.

I had only been planning on working from home Tuesday, but now with my mother's appointment, I might tell my boss I'll take the day as a day off so she doesn't think I'm taking advantage or anything. The doctor appointments will take up close to a half day.

A friend and I were supposed to take my mother car shopping Saturday but I decided to defer this until we hear from the doctor on Tuesday. If the doc says it's not safe for her to drive, it doesn't make sense to buy her a car beforehand. Although I doubt she would comply and stop driving if the doc said she shouldn't anyway. As it was, she couldn't find the title for her current car but then she found it Saturday morning after I had already cancelled car shopping with my friend.

I also plan to call her mechanic Monday to ask why specifically he was saying she needs a new car. Putting a few thousand into the 96 Subaru might still make sense if she's only going to drive another year or two, compared to spending $10 or $12,000 on a new (used) Subaru, plus higher insurance, registration, etc. I just can no longer assume my mother's capable of having this kind of conversation with her mechanic. If I ask her what someone said, I never get much of any detail from her.

The advantage of moving forward with a car purchase would be that I'd be removing a small portion of assets from her overall estate and converting it into something (a car) which I don't believe a nursing home would go after and claim. Other than this, I don't anticipate my sister or I seeing any inheritance. I'm fairly sure whatever savings my mother has now will be taken by a nursing home when the time comes.

Some of you were asking what happened with the potential paraplegic date I had. I decided to not respond again, as he'd requested, and did not see him. I know some of you probably didn't like my reaction to the prospect of getting involved with a paraplegic, but I have to assess my own life right now and decide whether I would have the time or energy to deal with that. Looking at the facts (he lives over an hour away, I work full time with a 35-minute commute and I have the responsibility of looking after my mother and an old house I'd like to fix up enough to sell) I don't see how it would work.

I did meet someone else who lives right in my hometown. Soooo much better. He is a cop (in another town an hour away) and works the nightshift. So that would be a challenge, too. He also had bariatric surgery sometime ago and said that while he has lost a lot of weight, he still has a ways to go, and having met him once, I basically agree. Partly because of the weight issue, I'm not sure I'm romantically attracted to him, but he is a super nice guy and I know the weight should not be an issue if I can be patient and understanding about that. (Most men wouldn't give a heavy woman a second look, that I know for sure.) So that's why we're getting together later today for a 2nd meeting. Actually, I'll be getting to meet his horse, his 3 dogs and his chickens, and then we'll be going out to dinner before he heads to work later tonight around 10 pm.

I could really use a supportive person in my life because dealing with my mother can often be frustrating, draining and stressful. In fact, it's the biggest stress in my life these days.

I do have friends that I talk to about things that come up, but there's nothing like having someone close to you whot you can really lean on. Right now I have to make a lot of decisions about my mother on my own, and I often feel I totally screw it up and do things with a sledgehammer when it doesn't have to be that way. It's just that my mother resists every suggestion I made to help her and I have to spend all my time cajoling, persuading etc. etc and actually that doesn't always work anyway. As mentioned before, patience is not a virtue of mine.

At least now the lack of money is not a problem. I am saving 22% of salary and still have plenty left over to spend on home improvements or just stuff that pleases me. And, maybe as a way to deal with the crappola and stress, I do spend on myself. Yesterday I went to a craft fair and spent $52 on a beautiful dried floral arrangement, which I would show you if the photo problems on this site were ever fixed.

I got another 30% off Kohl's coupon so I bought my sister a shirt for Xmas and one for myself for just $15. I also dropped off a few things as donations for Good Will, filled up the gas tank and spent an hour or so at my mother's to go through her "paperwork."

When she wasn't looking, I trashed a bunch of junk mail which she insists she wants to read but I know she never will get through. She has piles of such junk mail in various rooms of her condo which I consider a fire hazard and an obstacle if you're walking. Most of the time she insists on going through each individual piece of paper with me explaining what it is before she will agree that I can toss it; this process takes hours. So when she went to the bathroom, I grabbed handfuls of stuff I knew she'd NEVER MISS.

I mowed the lawn and leaves on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I picked up produce from the farm (cabbage, eggplant, peppers, apples, kale, butternut squash) and blanched a bunch of kale, which is drying now and just about ready for the freezer.

I'm running my new dishwasher for the first time right now. Seems to run fine and now I have a functional dishwasher. I'll have to remember to use it more often. The main thing was i needed the new one for when I sell this place.

Luther: Another life used up

October 13th, 2014 at 06:59 am

Luther, the death-defying Maine Coon, just used up another of his 9 lives. That leaves him with 6.

On Saturday, I tracked in a white pine needle off the wet pavement outside. White pine needles are 3 to 4 inches long and rather pointy at both ends. I absentmindedly noticed the needle on the seat of a chair.

I walked into the kitchen to do something and mentally told myself to remove the white pine needle before Luther found it.

I walked back to the dining room chair to see the needle was GONE and Luther chewing on something in his mouth. I sprang for him but of course he ran and swallowed it before I could catch him.

I had visions of him puncturing his intestine. Either that or he would throw it up. I debated whether or not to bring him to the vet but decided I would watch him closely for any signs of discomfort or, hopefully, vomiting.

No vomiting. Yesterday, each time he went down into the basement, I followed to see if he pooped. No signs of the pine needle, and I really was not sure if he swallowed the thing whole (shudder) or at least chewed it into pieces.

Finally, this morning, I was downstairs when I noticed he threw up a hairball. I put on some latex gloves and examined it closely. There were pieces of the broken pine needle embedded n the hairball. I did not pull the whole thing apart to see if the whole pine needle was there, but I am feeling greatly relieved nonetheless.

Luther has been his usual unconcerned self.

If you're keeping track, Luther used up 2 other lives by 1. Jumping out of a 2nd story window onto a brick patio below and got away with just a sprain and 2. Swallowing a foot-long piece of string, which can be deadly if it wraps around his intestines.

Stuff i'm getting done

October 12th, 2014 at 12:37 pm

It's a long holiday weekend for me. Yippee!

Yesterday morning I had an appointment to visit a second assisted living community for my mother, this one in my hometown. It seemed pretty nice, but the cost seemed nearly as much as the top of the line one I went to a few months ago. I was surprised, because Masonicare is a non-profit. I've also come to the conclusion that my mother isn't ready for an assisted living community; the people there seem so out of it. She would never accept having 3 meals a day prepared for her. She's a health nut, like I am, and she is very particular about what she eats.

Most of yesterday afternoon I spent with a rep from a home health aide agency trying to convince my mother to have someone come over at least once weekly. Nope. Basically, she doesn't want to spend the money. It will be about $20/hr. As is usual, she wound up giving the RN a tour of her art in her condo. It covers every square inch of wall space, including in the bathrooms. He just kept saying "wow." I guess I'm used to it, having grown up seeing my mom's space that way.

After the very nice male RN left, we went for a walk around her condo complex. She's still getting around very well for an 80-year-old. I may try instead for simple, periodic housekeeping services. I would have preferred home health agency visits instead but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

After I left my mother's, I filled up the gas tank at an incredible $3.29 a gallon. It's so low here. I also stopped in at Lowe's and used up 2 gift cards to buy a new broom, which I tried out last night in the driveway and outdoor stairs. It works quite well, maybe even better than the corn husk broom I had for years.

I watched another World War II movie on Netflix last night. I admit to being preoccupied with WWII and today I found myself wondering what side of the war my German relatives were on. My grandfather came to the US as a teen from a small town in Germany and I figure that was at least 10 years before the war started, but he had brothers he left behind. Were they in the German army or part of the Resistance? I wonder. I exchanged a few letters with Peter H., my cousin and the son of one of my grandfather's brothers. He never married or had children, and my dad and I learned he died a few months ago; I guess he was in his 60s and as I understand, he was the last of the H. line there. I wish I could have asked him some questions about that.

Thank goodness my 2 half-brothers have 3 little kids between them, or my entire family line would cease to exist after we go.

Today I managed to mow the front lawn and mulch the leaves and pine needles at the same time. I also picked up my produce at the CSA. I think we have just 3 more pick-ups left in the season.

Today I got some big 'ol tomatoes, potato fingerlings, a butternut squash, apples, kale and yes, more eggplant.

I bagged some sunflower seed that I'm going to bring to work. It's the strangest thing...there's an Eastern wild turkey that is hanging around downtown in the city where I work, right in front of our building. It is very much out of place and I can't imagine why it continues to hang around. It does not appear that afraid of people but there seems to be nothing for it to eat. Hence the sunflower seed. I am sure the security guards in our lobby will scold me if they see me feeding it, so I'll do it out of sight of them.

Tomorrow my new Whirlpool dishwasher will be installed. The guy is supposed to call today/tonight to tell me what time.

I emptied out my sun room in preparation for the winter season. Since it's unheated in there, I take most things out, although I don't know if very cold air alone will harm things like a bamboo mat or an upholstered lounge chair. As it is, I put all the stuff from the sun room in the family room, which I also close off for the winter. (As an addition, it's the only room in the house with electric heat, so no use adding to my bills just to heat that one room.) I also already put up the insulated curtains on the French doors to that room.

My boss has ok'd me reverting to my "winter hours" at work once Daylight Savings Time ends in a few weeks, which means 9 to 5:30 p.m. instead of 8:30 to 5. I'm up at the crack of dawn with the summer sun, but in winter I can't stand getting up in the dark, so the later start helps with that. It will be dark when I drive home, regardless, but at least I'll have a more leisurely morning routine.

I called my handyman to see if he could tackle my next home improvement project in 2 weeks when I am taking a Friday off. I'm trying to steadily knock off a long laundry list of things that need to be done.

This project is all about the ceiling in my office. It has some wood moldings that criss-cross the ceiling that I've never seen anywhere else, kind of like tic tac toe. I like the look, but there is so much old paint, and some ill-advised caulk that I applied, that it looks kind of crappy. I want him to hand sand all the criss-cross moldings and then paint the ceiling. It's probably something I could do but it's a little labor intensive and I know his full day charge is $200. I figure it's worth it for him to do. Maybe it wouldn't even take a full day, but maybe it would with all the prep work.

A difficult decision

October 7th, 2014 at 03:21 pm

So for the past year or so I've been dabbling in online dating. Nothing to date worth mentioning here, as I've met a few people one time and decided not to pursue it.

Recently I met a guy who seemed pretty appealing. He's written 3 books and is a writer like me. He does live 1.5 hours away from me, but becus of what i saw as common interests (he's also vegan like me) i told him i was willing to take things a step at a time and see what happens. Then he suggested we get together for lunch at a restaurant midway between us.

It was only when I tentatively agreed to do that this weekend that he said oh, by the way, I'm a paraplegic following a diving accident in the 1990s. He uses crutches to get around (a wheelchair in the house) and that it doesn't stop him from doing most things, but he does do them more slowly.

This is when I started feeling queasy and like a real shit. Do I, with my f/t job, aging parent issues and old house to keep up really want to take on a long distance boyfriend who happens to be a paraplegic? I don't think I do. Do I feel like a total cad for saying that? Yes.

In the email that he told me that, he said if i wasn't interested to just say nothing at all, in big bold letters. Evidently he has experienced rejection in the past, and I'm sure it's very hurtful. Yet i feel like he set me up for this, in part, by not telling my about this until after I'd agreed to meet him. If I were in his shoes, I would just put it all out there in his dating profile; that way, he could be sure that anyone who struck up a conversation with him was ok with it.

So I don't know what to say to him. If i tell him the truth, it would be rather hurtful. I was thinking of just telling him that since we spoke I met someone else from the dating site and hit it off fairly well with them and want to see where that leads. I did in fact meet someone else on the site who lives right here in my hometown and who I DO plan to meet this weekend. It's just that that hasn't happened yet.

Do you think I should say that? Or do you think it's advisable to just take him at his word and say nothing further to him, no explanation as it appears that's what he'd preferred. It seems pretty cold.

I went to the podiatrist today about the ball of my foot that's been sore since 2010. Two previous podidatrists had not taken x-rays so this one said let's do it, which we did, much as I hate x-rays, and naturally it showed nothing. Which is only to say that I don't have a metallic foreign body in my foot. There could still be a sliver of glass, a wood splinter or even a cat hair. So then we talked and he painted on some salicylic acid, which is commonly u sed to treat warts, except that this was heavy duty salicylic acid. I'm to wear the bandaid til tomorrow morning and return to him in 2 weeks time, at which point the acid will have dissolved my skin at the point of entry of whatever it was, theoretically making it easier to get whatever was in there out. If if's even in there now.

I know 4 years was too long to wait, but I didn't think a 3rd podiatrist would have any more tricks up his sleeve, and i found that by wearing padded band-aids I could get around just fine. That is, until i pulled my hamstring and all of a sudden my foot is sore again, with or without a band-aid.

We'll see what happens.

All is Lost

October 5th, 2014 at 05:10 am

A man struggles to survive on a disabled sailing vessel in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Seventy-eight-year-old Robert Redford was outstanding in this movie made last year with no dialogue and only him in the movie except for at the very end of the movie. It makes you wonder whether, in similar circumstances, you'd lose it and give up or if you'd rise to each challenge that could determine whether you make it or not.

If you haven't seen it, I'd highly recommend it. I saw it on Netflix.

Back to the more mundane aspects of my life...

Yesterday I picked up a new comforter set and some towels at JC Penney. I browsed Pier 1 but didn't buy anything. I bought a fall coat at Kohl's with my 30% off coupon (I will still have to take up the sleeves on it, which are wayyyy too long) and earned another $10 in Kohl's rewards. I picked up some Chinese and decided to eat it in my car so I could then go to TJ Maxx in the same shopping center and wound up spilling the tinfoil tray of food that was balanced on my car seat. I had to throw half the food away and hose down the floor mat. Also filled up the gas tank and vacuumed both floors of the house.

Friday night I mowed the front lawn. It's getting dark out earlier, so I knew I had to mow asap upon getting home from work or I'd be mowing in the dark. I made it.

Today I need to mow the back, as much to mulch fallen leaves as to cut the grass. I also MUST vacuum the car, which is getting a little too grungy and soon it'll be too cold to vacuum. I also have to pick up my CSA shares at the farm and make a pot of soup for this week's work lunches.

I had an idea this week about my family room carpeting. It's the only room in the house with wall to wall carpeting, and that carpeting is now grungy with its cat vomit and hairball stains and with the cats scratching and pulling bits of it up on a daily basis. I'd love to replace it but it doesn't make sense while my cats (ages 5 and 13) are still here. I remembered that when I bought the place, I saw there was hardwood flooring under the old carpeting I replaced with my own, but someone had painted it a dark brownish color. I'm toying with the idea of ripping up my wall to wall carpeting and not replacing it with more wall to wall as I was intending to do (at some point). The "distressed" look is in, and I think this hardwood floor might look distressed. I was thinking how good a white ultra-luxurious shag area rug would look against the dark floor color. Of course, the cats would scratch that too, so I won't do it now, although I could pull up the wall to wall carpeting and throw down a kilim 5 x 7 rug I already have which doesn't really shred when the cats scratch it.

The other option would be to strip the old paint and refinish the floors. I believe the addition was added to the house around 1990??? but I did just want to confirm that lead paint, which was banned in 1978, wouldn't be an issue. I tried to confirm the year of the addition by calling first the assessor's office, and then the building dept., but neither place could tell me. I know I saw the date written somewhere so maybe I can find something if I go thru my various files for the house.

Each week this month I have some sort of change in my work schedule which will frankly give me a break from the unending routine of working at the office. Tuesday I'm working from home so i can see a podiatrist. The week after that we have Monday off for Columbus Day (and I'm getting my new dishwasher installed that day), plus I have a dentist appointment mid-week which means I'll leave work a little early. The last 2 weeks of October I have each Friday off as PTO (Paid Time Off). Hooray.

I have an oval-shaped mirror that used to be my grandmother's with Victorian-looking, brass-colored handles with garlands or leaves around them. I believe it's meant to sit flat on a dresser and you put your little perfume bottles or what-not on it, although it could also be hung.

Probably not worth much, but it's rather pretty and has sentimental value. I don't really use it. It's been sitting in my closet. I've been wanting to buy an antique silver or silver metallic-type spray paint so I can change the brassy color to silver. There are so many choices out there so I haven't made the purchase yet, but I hope to before it gets too cold to do this outside.

Maybe I should just use the leftover spraypaint i have called Looking Glass Spraypaint. If you use it as directed, it will look like a mirrored reflection, but if you alternately spray the paint with spritzes of water, which you gently blot, you can achieve a surface that looks like mercury glass. However, that technique is only intended for objects made of glass; I'm not sure how it would work on the metal handles of this mirror. I'd had to ruin it, although i guess if i had to I could just spray paint over it again with something else.

A work at home day today

October 1st, 2014 at 08:47 am

I had to get a furnace cleaning so I was able to work at home today. Smile The furnace guy is here now. It's yet another reason to get gas heat when I eventually move. I'm paying $150 for the cleaning, and that's a "special" early season price. I do it every year for peace of mind purposes. My coworkers with gas heat informed me they never do "anything" to their gas heat lines. It's maintenance-free.

I scheduled a lot of things for the month of October. A routine dental visit. A trip to podiatrist for a longstanding sore foot problem. A free flu shot, courtesy of my employer. And I cleared 2 days off later in the month, along with my dishwasher installation on Columbus Day, which is a paid holiday for me. It's a new Whirlpool model I got at Lowes; with installation it will be $592. The old one is broken and being 12 years old, I didn't think it was worth it to repair it.

I'm concerned about much higher electric rates in the coming year. In Connecticut, electric rates were deregulated years back in an effort to increase competition and bring down consumer costs.The state maintains a website where you can compare rates. The rate I currently have locked in for me and my mother is good thru Nov. 30, 2014 but then it will likely increase. I've been checking the state website but right now all the different choices are quite a bit higher, per kilowatt hour, than what we're paying now. And they don't seem to be offering the fixed rate in a year-long contract. All I'm seeing is 3 months locked in and then variable rates, which I'm not comfortable with.

My friend R. agreed to go with me and mother to go car shopping for my mother. Her mechanic has been telling her for some time now that she needs to replace her 98 Subaru. Now he's telling her the tires need to be replaced. No sense replacing tires when the car itself is getting too old. I don't like the idea of my 80-year-old mother still driving at all, but she's not going to give it up. AT least she avoids the highway and the vast majority of her driving is probably limited to a 5-mile square radius. So we'll go to the local Subaru dealer to find another wagon in the $10,000 range. I did a quick search of the dealer site and Kelly Blue Book and saw that the dealer has 5 Subarus from about 2006 to 2008 with automatic steering in that price range. I honestly don't know how my mother can drive the one she has, with its extremely heavy steering and spongy brakes. Hopefully the newer models will be a big improvement for her.

There is no way my mother could negotiate a car purchase on her own with the car dealer sharks out there (I learned that myself last summer and felt very ill-equipped) so I'm hoping we can find a car in a few hours at this one dealer. I really don't anticipation that at her advanced age she will driving a whole lot longer. She does have a good mechanic who could also check out the car if we could arrange that somehow.

I may hit Kohl's on Saturday....it's the last day I can use my 30% coupon. I'll also go to mall to pick up my comforter set and towels at JC Penney, and since I'm in that area, I may browse Xmas Tree Shop just for the heck of it. And maybe Pier 1 as well.

I want to start getting active with the book club here in town. There are 3 of them, but the 1 i want to join meets in the evenings. They have a new book (Reconstructing Amelia) so I have to get it soon and start reading before the Oct. 16 meeting date! Basically, I will have 1 week to read it. Maybe I'll zip over there after 5 and get it tonight to give myself a few more days. Smile