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Archive for March, 2015

Sunday afternoon concert

March 29th, 2015 at 11:13 pm

I took my mother out to a violin concert featuring the renowned violinist Che Ho Lam. He's played at the White House (Obama's inauguration) and Carnegie Hall.

It was an hour of really great music. I loved watching him play, most of the time with his eyes closed.

If we saw him at venues like those, chances are we'd be peering at him through a pair of binoculars. But at the intimate Richter Center (seats about 50), we sat in the FRONT row and were just 5 feet away from this amazing master on the violin, accompanied by pianist Jiyang Chen.

I washed my car earlier and later noticed bird poop on it.

I am making something in the slow cooker for dinner, a stew with potatoes, cauliflower, sundried tomatoes, red kidney beans and coconut milk. It should have been done by now and is taking a really long time to cook so I am settling in with a glass of kefir and an apple.

Back to the grind tomorrow. I haven't scheduled any vacation time until May but I sure could use it, and have felt this way for weeks.

Tomorrow night I may catch Birdman, one of last year's top 10 movies, which is playing at our $2 movie theater for a limited time.

A new credit card bonus to work on....

March 28th, 2015 at 11:26 pm

I got my new US Bank Flex Perks Travel Rewards Visa Signature card in the mail today. Gosh, what a mouthful.

You have to spend $3,500 in the 1st 4 months of getting the card to get $200 back in gift cards (or travel).

That's $875 a month, which is a lot, but if I make sure to charge everything to this one card through July, I think I'll do it.

I already spent $90 at Trader Joe's, $17 on gas and $35 on cat food at Walmart.

It was snowing all day today (crazy!) but not sticking to the roads. Tomorrow it will be back in the 40s so it should mostly melt.

My mason estimates thus far are as follows:
1st mason: $12,767, later reduced by $1,000 by cutting some materials.

2nd mason: haven't gotten the written estimate yet, but looks like no more than $8,000-something for an admittedly different configuration of the front stair/wall redo.

3rd mason: coming tomorrow

I wrote an unfavorable Amazon review about Goddess Garden Organics Sunny Body sunscreen, mainly because it's thick and pasty and is difficult to rub on and makes you look like a ghost. Someone from the company asked me to call them in a reply post, which I did, and they offered to send me some samples of other sunscreens in their product line and then if I called them back after trying them they would send me a full size replacement for the sunscreen I have. So I thought that was pretty cool, not to mention media-savvy.

I also thought I would get some estimates for weekly lawn mowings here. I just am NOT looking forward to the lawn-mowing season. It's more and more exhausting as I get older, and it takes up way too much of my time on the weekends. I had someone come over and while he guessed maybe $40 or $45, which I thought was a good price, considering all the obstacles in my yard and its size, he said he'd need to come back when the snow was gone cus he wants to see the terrain and make sure his 60" wide blades will be able to get around my yard. Mowings from May thru October at $40 a pop would total $960, not a small sum of money but something I think I'm ready to spring on. The price includes trimming and blowing.

I will call some other guys too, when the snow melts.

I see that Birdman is finally playing at our local $2 movie theater and I really want to try to see it before its show there ends next week.

Also can't wait for the annual cacti and succulent show at a local college in early April. I plan to spend a little money there and sit in on some lectures. It's a nice way to get in the spring mood.

I've mostly decided to pull up the fencing around my vegetable garden and put down grass seed where my veggie garden has been for the past 5 years or so. It was a good run, and I got some great tomatoes and many other things from it, but that garden also represented a lot of manual labor I'm just not in the mood for. Especially in the heat of summer when it was too hot to weed, it got overgrown and nearly impenetrable. And it slowed down my mowing. I will still try to grow dwarf tomatoes, herbs and maybe a few other things in pots in my driveway, which bakes in summer, but they will be easier to stay on top of there.

Of course, if someone else is mowing, I will have more time to do the garden, but I'm still not sure I want to do it anyway.

Between a rock and a hard place?

March 22nd, 2015 at 09:44 pm

I'm taking a break from family issues today.

I took a short (half hour) walk on some town pathways. It is still pretty brisk for March and on the cold side, so I didn't dawdle!

I tried another new recipe I'd been wanting to try for the longest time, and it is definitely a keeper! It's sweet potatoes filled with an African-style peanut sauce. This would be the perfect thing to make for someone who believes that vegan food is bland and boring.

The sauce you pour into the roasted sweet potatoes is made of minced and sauteed garlic and onion, tomato sauce, fresh grated ginger, peanut butter, coriander, cumin and topped with chopped cilantro. All I can say is wow, how tasty. I cooked up 3 pounds of sweet potatoes for this, so I can bring them to work as one of my side dishes.

Being on something of a peanut butter kick today, I also made some peanut butter squares topped with melted dark chocolate chips. I probably won't make this one again but it does satisfy my peanut butter craving.

I also made time to do continue reading "Becoming Vegan."

I've also had some discussion today with the 1st mason to give me an estimate on redoing my front walkway. This is a major job..get ready...his bid came in at $12,767. I was hoping for no more than $10K.) This is why I skip, as much as humanly possible, wasting money on little doodads for the house, eating out a lot or on other stuff I don't really need, so that when it comes to capital improvements, I can do them. Not that I couldn't do a lot better at not wasting money on small stuff, but anyway that's another conversation....

The job entails creating an entirely new walkway leading from the driveway to my front door and would replace the set of 5 or 6 steep steps now leading to that same front door.

Because I've got a hill in front of my entry, making less steep stairs means starting the stairs further away so they can gently curve up the hill. There would in fact be a total of 16 steps instead of 6, and that is one thing I emailed him about after our conversation, cus I want to strike a balance between not having really steep stairs and having too many more shallow stairs. I'm wondering if 16 stairs is too much.

He would use pavers on the stairs with stone retaining walls (24 inches high) on either side to hold them in place. The entire length of the walkway he calculates at 48 feet, to give you an idea of the scale of this project. A new, slightly larger landing of about 8 x 8 would go in at the top in a half circle shape with concentric circles of pavers filling up the half circle. There are some other details associated with the job, but this is the gist of it.

His materials list shows that he needs 22 tons of bulk stone; that alone accounts for $3,080, along with 300 square fee tof pavers at $2.55 per square foot, 35 bags of cement, 5 tons of trap rock and so on.

it kind of boggles my mind that so much is needed. Here are some photos of the area in question.


This shows a portion of the existing retaining wall that runs parallel to my driveway; the stairs now leading to the front entry are to the left side of photo and are perpendicular coming up from the drive. The bottom of the new stairway would begin toward the end of this stone wall, and this stone wall would be repaired/recemented to stabilize it.


This is an older photo of the house before I got vinyl siding, but the existing staircase runs up between those 2 large round shrubs.




Here you get a good idea of the length of the entire retaining wall and a glimpse of current steps.


I plan to still get 2 other estimates before deciding what to do.

Family drama

March 21st, 2015 at 03:06 pm

So I did call my dad yesterday, pretending it was just a random call, and he said he was "feeling better," so I had a reason to say why, what's wrong. He admitted only to a "bad cold" and said he was on his way to pick up the antibiotics and get lunch.

Perhaps it is just a bad cold or maybe it's pneumonia as he feared; in any case, I'm glad he got some meds and I will call again in a few days to see how he's doing. He doesn't like people fussing over him.

My mother is home from the hospital after calling 911 due to pain in her hand. Turns out she had colitis, which is a bacterial infection, so she, too, is on antibiotics. I will check in with her later today after I shovel myself out of the driveway.

Then my sister called last night since the nurse at the hospital called her, too, about my mother. My sister was speculating about something that was a moot point since she didn't know my mother had colitis, not the usual pain due to arthritis.

Since she called me, I told her that with Easter coming up, i really didn't want to repeat what happened at the birthday lunch we had a week ago, and that it is very stressful to have to sit through get-together after get-together when my sister is so nasty, short-tempered, irritable and snaps at my mother. Being in a restaurant didn't stop her for doing that again.

Without a doubt, my sister uses her anger to control and intimidate my mother, and it works on me too. We are both a little afraid of my sister. She is only like this, as far as I can tell, with me and my mother, although she is still generally short-tempered and very impatient.

Of course my sister got angry when I said all this and said I was putting her on a guilt trip. She acknowledged that her anger issues have nothing to do with me, but with my mother. Well, I'm there every time she sees my mother so of course I can't just ignore it.

I asked her to control herself and rise above it, reminding her my 81-year-old mother has Alzheimers and really can't help how she is, regardless of the fact my sister's issues with my mother were there years before the Alzheimer's surfaced. My sister 2 years older than me and in her 50s. She's not the type to see a therapist.

So I told my sister, why bother showing up for these family get-togethers since you are obviously so unhapyy about being there, and since you make everyone else unhappy, and why do you bother since you never lend a hand with mom? To that she replied well then I won't bother showing up. I said fine, and that was the end of the phone call.

Honestly, I'd rather not have someone like that in my life and since she's never helped out with my mother or taken any responsibility for her, I don't think I'm losing anything except a whole lot of unneeded stress and aggravation.

I vented to a friend of mine after that but it's still extremely upsetting. I didn't even bring up with my sister one more thing I know that she doesn't know I know...that's she invited my 82-year-old father who is shaky on his legs to live in her 2nd floor walk-up (outdoor stairs) loft apartment. I'm pretty sure her motivation is so she can collect some rent. And my dad's the only person in the family that she gets along with.

I already tactfully told my father I didn't think it was a great idea because of the stairs, and I even mailed him 2 listings for some very nice ranch homes, comparable to what he has now in south Jersey, but these homes are in the town my sister lives in, which is also just 15 minutes away from me.

I'd love to see him live closer to us so that I, for one, would be able to better look after him, but moving in to my sister's apartment I think is a very bad idea. If he became afraid of using those stairs, I could see him becoming very isolated in that tiny apartment, and he has no friends or other connections in Connecticut besides my sister and me.

Right now he has a beautiful ranch he's greatly improved over the years that is perfect for his needs with a large sunroom, a wood stove he uses all the time (no stove/fireplace in the apt), a small garden, a renovated luxury bath and buddies he meets at the diner every morning. He's just 2 blocks from the water and he enjoys being near the ocean.

He bought that house when he retired many years ago, but he is isolated down there as far as family goes. My 2 half brothers (from his 2nd marriage) live about 1.5 hours north of him in the Rutherford NJ area and as mentioned, my sister and I are even further north here in CT, so it would be difficult to help him in any sort of emergency medical situation.

I only found out about the planned move for my father after calling my half brother to wish him a happy birthday. He knew, but neither my sister nor my father had told me about it. My sister is always very secretive and doesn't share much about her life, so no surprise there, but my father? Perhaps because he knew I might disapprove.

Oh well. I won't say another thing about this unless my dad brings it up. People make their own decisions and I have enough on my plate already.

This morning since I was out of almond milk I tried out a recipe I'd clipped from Better Homes & Gardens back in October 2009! It turned out great...a pumpkin pudding with wheat berries (instead of rice)and I used coconut milk and topped it with soaked dried cranberries, chopped walnuts and sliced apple. Really good and quite filling. It did also include 3 eggs and I'd like to try it again with just 2 eggs and not the 1/3 cup sugar the recipe called for. It was pretty sweet.

Today and tomorrow are the usual assortment of errands including groceries, gas, checking in on my mother, etc.

So much on my mind...

March 20th, 2015 at 03:28 pm

I am grateful today to be working from home, in anticipation of some snow, but I'm feeling very distracted.

I called my dad's ex to wish her a happy birthday, and she told me my dad wasn't feeling well, thought he had pneumonia and is unsure whether or not he got in to see his doctor after waiting 5 hours at the hospital.

My mother called and left a wailing message the other day that her phone wasn't working, her computer wasn't working and couldn't I please help. Obviously her phone was working or she wouldn't have been able to leave me that message.

I am planning on calling my dad later today; his ex made me promise I wouldn't let him know it was her who told me about his not feeling well, so I'll have to pretend it's just a random phone call on my part. So stupid, but my dad doesn't' like people worrying about him but I need to make sure he sees a doctor as he's 81 and has diabetes, 2 risk factors and yes, i know pneumonia at his age can be dangerous.

I'm prepared to drive the 3 hours down there to help him out, maybe buy some groceries, whatever's needed, but he probably won't want me to. He lives alone; not ideal.

I'm anxious to get my next paycheck next Friday as it should reflect both my W4 adjustment and a small extra kick-in from my merit raise.

I had to fill up my oil tank. Prices rose somewhat compared to my last fill-up in January at the cheap cheap price of $2.15 a gallon. I got it for $2.49 but then saw it at $2.36 elsewhere so same day as I got the delivery I called them back as they advertise a "price guarantee." She said normally you have to tell them about the cheaper price elsewhere BEFORE you place the order but would credit me for the difference this one time. It's just a difference of $22, but psychologically I like the sound of $2.36 a gallon better than $2.49 a gallon!

Waiting for 1st mason to give me a price on redoing the front walkway and stairs to my home; a 2nd one is coming sometime today. He was supposed to come tonight but due to the expected messy weather, i called and told him i was working from home and if he wanted, he could come earlier. He's going to let me know. I suspect his price will be cheaper than the 1st guy, based solely on where these 2 different masons live: one in a high-priced town in Fairfield County, the 2nd in a depressed city in New Haven County.

I am reading a great tome of a book called Becoming Vegan. For someone who really likes to analyze and delve into details on things that interest her, this book is perfect. I am having little trouble being vegetarian, but eating vegan is much more difficult because there is cheese in practically everything you buy that doesn't have meat or fish in it. I don't have time to cook 100% of what I eat. And I also know that you can't simply go vegan and expect your nutritional needs will be met; I'm already supplementing with Vitamin D and B12, and I am armed wtih my recent bloodwork results from January physical, but I will be taking a much closer look at things. One mystery to be examined is why i haven't lost any weight. I do use some olive oil and coconut oil, but not to any great length, but I do also have a huge bowl of non-whole wheat pasta probably once a week. The sweet tooth is being contained, but not totally eradicated.

My quasi-vegan diet game plan is as follows:
1. I will eat eggs, but ONLY the truly free-range ones I get from my local organic farmer. The ones in the store may be cage-free, but the birds are still shoulder to shoulder, debeaked, etc and that just sickens me.

2. The only cheese I'm buying myself now are Parmesan or the reggiano hard cheese i grate fresh for my pasta and very occasional goat cheese. There is other cheese I'm getting on certain things I buy and don't look carefully enough at, but not a whole lot. But some.

3. No meats, fish or other dairy, generally. The meat and other dairy are pretty easy to follow and I very occasionally have a bit of fish.

I'm eating lots of fruit, veggies, beans, whole grains and even seeds. I've gotten into the habit of getting at least one container of fresh berries every week. Nuts I love anyway, but am trying to be content with some unsalted and non-roasted. Trying to avoid rice due to concerns about high arsenic levels, especially in US rice. (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/01/fda-data-show-arsenic-in-rice-juice-and-beer/index.htm)The study noted that more than 10 percent of the rice in China, Pakistan, and Bangladesh is estimated to have arsenic concentrations exceeding 200 ppb, while in the U.S., more than 50 percent of the rice is estimated to contain arsenic at those elevated levels


What? No immediate credit card approval?

March 19th, 2015 at 12:14 am

So I found another credit card deal I wanted to pursue...spend $3500 in 4 months (that's $875 a month) on a new US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card and you get $200 back.

I was surprised when they didn't give me an on the spot approval; instead, they said it was "under review" and that I'd get a decision by mail in 7 to 10 business days.

They asked for my employer, my income and housing payments. Perhaps it was the fact I put $0 under housing payments since I paid off the mortgage.

Hmm.....

Anyone familiar with this card?

Taxes done...deliriously happy

March 15th, 2015 at 11:03 pm

I'm quite happy with the results of my tax filings. I knew I had to pay back $1700 for Obamacare subsidies I no longer was entitled to since my income for 2014 exceeded $46,000.

But happily, even with that expense, I will still get a $300 federal tax refund and a $710 state tax refund. I hardly ever get a big state tax refund.

I KNEW the agency I worked for prior to joining the bank was deducting way too much.

I had to refile the federal return THREE times before it was accepted. The 2 fixes I had to make did not change any of the figures on the forms.

Anyway, maybe now I can turn my attention to adjusting my witholding on a W4 form so not so much is taken out of my paycheck.

I am so tired and the day just whizzed by. Met a friend for coffee at the diner, then met my 1st of 3 contractors/masons I called for a price on redoing the front entry to my door. I have a fairly steep and narrow set of stairs built into a high stone retaining wall. I want the stairs to be wider and more shallow, in a pleasing curved form rather than the hard-edge 90-degree angle I have now. With pavers, I also want a half moon shape design at the top landing

Who knows how much all this will cost. I'm hoping not more than $10,000. I spent a fair amount of time with the guy who was highly ranked on Angie's List. I meet with the next guy on Friday.

After I finished up with him, i started in on my tax returns and only finished that at 5 p.m.

Yesterday was the birthday lunch for my sister and mother at a good Italian place. My sister was very ill-mannered as she always is, yelling at my mother at one point. I can't stand having to engage in these get-togethers when my sister is consistently ill-tempered, unhappy and abusive, and has been for years. I end up as referee between her and my mother. Yes, my mother gets on our nerves quite a bit, but could you restrain yourself from yelling in a restaurant please? Maybe we are enabling her since my mother and I both are intimidated by my sister and her constant anger and irritability. I would like to simply stop attending get-togethers that include my sister, but that of course would cause my mother to get all upset and trying to change my mind (instead of dealing with the true problem). It's just more than I can handle sometimes.

After dropping my mother off after lunch, I filled the gas tank at BJs, used a $10 free coupon at Kohl's on a little pillow and dropped off some donations at GoodWill and the library.

I am relieved that the taxes are finally done. I feel like I need a weekend to recover from my weekend. Luckily I'm working from home tomorrow as I have a mammogram in the morning. Once I get credited for that mammogram and my recent gyno appointment, I'll be able to redeem another $125 in gift cards/wellness incentives from Cigna. Nice.

I've started rewatching the Sopranos on Prime, starting at Season 1, so that I can eventually watch the final season which I never did get to see.

Taxes this weekend

March 13th, 2015 at 01:00 am

Six weeks later, I finally got a corrected 1095 form from the state of Connecticut. So I'll be able to do my federal and state taxes this weekend. Joy.

I'll also be going out to celebrate my sister and mother's birthdays on Saturday with them.

The snow is finally melting around here, but it's still knee high in my yard. It can't leave soon enough. My snowdrops are waiting to bloom!

There's a herd of 10 starving deer that are spending time in my yard, doing a real number on my rhododendron shrubs and eating anything they can. I will probably pick up a large bag of corn for them. Don't like their destructive habits or the ticks they spread around, but I also don't like to see them starve.

A zillion other errands this weekend; I'll see how many I can knock off my list. It's supposed to be a rainy weekend.

Monday I'll be working from home as I have a mammogram.

Tomorrow is my Amazon delivery of some vegan books I ordered. Smile

My teeny weeny weeny merit raise

March 7th, 2015 at 10:42 am

So I learned yesterday what my merit raise will be: 1.5%. As mentioned before, I didn't really expect anything since I haven't been perm for a full year yet. But I guess because they do raises at the same time of year for everyone, they included me in. It's better than nothing although I'd sort of been expecting 2%.

Inflation for the first 2 months of this year was running at -0.1%, so that's good.

So I will use 1% of that, or $800, to increase my Roth 401k contributions from 22% of pay to 23% of pay. The remaining .5, or $400, will simply wind up in my net pay; I believe it will come out to about $18 more per paycheck. Ahh, living large....

By right I should put the entire raise into the 401k because I don't spend every penny of my net pay now as it is, which means I will just wind up paying more in taxes on my taxable savings.

However, there is something to be said for having the flexibility to spend the money on home improvements or other worthy purchases and if I don't feel I have the money at hand, I won't do it. So for the sake of having "options," I will allow a few hundred to come to me in the form of taxable income.

On tap for this year will be replacing the very worn rubber stair treads on my basement stairs with new vinyl treads, which I've already bought. They do need to be trimmed to size and glued on, and I think I'd rather have my handyman do it rather than have to sniff that glue.

I'd also like to get my upstairs fir floors refinished and get some treework done in terms of pruning branches or taking down dead trees.

That's just the start.

Oh gosh, I just glanced at my 2015 resolutions and see that I was supposed to have lost 16 pounds by the end of this month. I haven't weighed myself in weeks, and I'm pretty sure my weight hasn't budged at all. I still have been walking at least 30 minutes on most weekdays and I've been doing an incredible amount of snow shoveling here these past few weeks.

Earlier this week my new tire pressure gauge and portable air compressor arrived from Amazon. A friend at work told me she'd been driving on her tires for a week after her low tire pressure alert came on in her car becus her husband was going to get the tires filled, the following weekend, with whatever that gas is that apparently doesn't leak like air in cold temperatures.

So I felt it would be "ok" to keep driving on the tires until my delivery came. I'd been to the local gas station twice to fill up one tire that was low and he said if it happens again we'll want to take a look at it. Which to me meant, examine the tire for a nail or whatever which I felt there wouldn't be, since the low tire pressure has only been an issue this winter and last, and not in between. So I didn't want to spend the money.

Well, I checked the pressure with a highly rated gauge and it was fine, even slightly overfilled, in 3 of the tires. The PSI should be 32. But in the one tire it was 10 PSI!! And yes, when I pressed on the side it "gave" a little, unlike the rock hard other tires. Geez, I could have really damaged the tire/rim; I didn't think it was THAT low.

I filled it up Thursday night and my low tire pressure light has remained off. It was a pain to fill it, though, because the air compressor doesn't seem to indicate the PSI while I'm filling the tire. It has a dial on it that goes from 0 to 300, but when I turned it on the needle jumped to 80. Like I said, my correct PSI tire pressure should be 32 and it was down to about 10 when measured with a separate air gauge. So I don't know exactly what that dial measures. I had to run the compressor a while and then remove the attachment and check the pressure with a separate digital gauge I'd bought.

The last snowy week

March 5th, 2015 at 09:42 pm

Today was my 3rd day working at home this week. I did go into work this morning, only because my boss scheduled a meeting for us to discuss my raise.

Wouldn't you know I drove in....the roads weren't great...and she stayed home! In fact, hardly anyone was in the office. So a few hours later I turned around and got back home by noon. I wanted to make sure my car made it up the driveway. It doesn't take much to make it slippery.

My Amazon delivery arrived today. It includes a tire gauge and an air compressor so I can keep my car tires at the right pressure. In the cold weather, I lose PSIs, which I guess is not uncommon. This probably happened with my prior Honda, but since it didn't have Low PSI alerts on the dashboard, I probably drove around with low air for months.

I guess I'll wait til tomorrow a.m. before work to fill the tires as it will be especially cold again tonight, down to about zero.

But Sunday marks a turnaround in the weather, solidly in the 40s, and the week after that, 2 days in the low 60s! That should melt the snow around here; we still have over a foot on the ground.

This a.m. before work I got the roof rake out and took some snow off my garage roof, which has a very shallow pitch.

I hope to take my mother to a matinee on Saturday to see Mr. Turner. He's an artist, so she should like that. I may arrive with Boston Market for lunch first, and then we can go to the movies. She doesn't know about it yet but I felt bad because I know she didn't do anything for her birthday. My sister and I are taking her out next Saturday to celebrate her birthday, and my sister's, at the same time.

Not much money news to report, but when I find out tomorrow what my merit raise is, I will let you know. I'm expecting 2%; anything above that would be great.

If it's 2%, or $1600, I'll take half that amount, or $800, and increase my Roth 401k contribution by exactly that amount, 1%. The other half will be "fun" money, if I wish to spend it.

I'd still like to winnow down the number of credit cards in my wallet, but I don't want to lose what rewards I've earned on any of them, so I need to keep concentrating spending on the next card I want to cancel, so I can more quickly accumulate the minimum number of points to redeem. That would be my BOA Cash Card or my Chase AARP card.

Finally, an answer from the heatlhcare exchange

March 4th, 2015 at 02:42 pm

Sometimes when I am super stressed out about something I don't post about it here on the forum. It's just too upsetting to even put down on paper.

My issues with the CT healthcare exchange fell into this category, simply because in early February they mailed me an incorrect 1095A form, a new tax form that shows how much $$ in healthcare subsidies I received in 2014.

I paid for the insurance for the 1st 4 months of the year, while the form indicated I paid for it for 11 months of the year. The reason why this is problematic is because as you may know from reading my blog, my contract job turned perm mid year and I exceeded the income limit that allows you to keep the subsidies you got. I knew I'd have to repay the subsidies for those 4 months ($1400) but I certainly didn't want to have to shell out $3,850 when I never had insurance with them past April.

For a month I've been trying to straighten this out, but the healthcare exchange is apparently so busy that I had wait times on hold for upwards of 45 minutes and it seemed like their phone recordings were especially designed to prevent people from getting thru to talk to a live person.

It became even more upsetting when, about 2 weeks ago, I talked to someone there who argued with me and said basically it was my fault because I didn't cancel the insurance. I DID cancel but they didn't get the phone message or my scribbled note on a premium bill, etc. The fact is, I didn't pay any premiums past April, not did I make any claims. Yet he's trying to tell me they would treat me as an active policyholder. It was nuts.

I left him a message yesterday saying if I didn't even hear back from him or get the revised 1095 form i would write a detailed complaint letter to the CEO of the healthcare exchange, copy the CT commissioner of Dept of Public Health, which oversees the healthcare exchange and, if I needed to, I would call my state representative (because they sometimes get involved with wierd little things like this where you basically run out of options).

I don't even know if the guy listens to his messages. He was completely ignoring my requests for a call-back.

But lo and behold, when I got thru to someone else today, she said their records indicate my form was corrected as of yesterday. She couldn't tell what the corrected form says but I will assume it's correct now. HOPEFULLY I will get it in 7 to 10 business days and then I can finally finish my federal tax return and start the state return.

I feel like such a cloud has been lifted (partially) from my shoulders. I was feeling so anxious about this, knowing the clock was ticking on the tax return and fearing the state would never get its act together.

I am working from home today, after having already worked at home Monday, and it looks like I'll probably work from home tomorrow.

We had rain last night turning to ice and now it's warming up. I shoveled all the very wet slush off my driveway and threw some de-icer down but I'm really exhausted, and I'd like to get out there again mid-day and try to get more melted stuff off the driveway or it will refreeze tonight. I was getting a few little painful spasms in my back, which doesn't usually happen.

It seems my dad may be moving in with my sister this spring. Not exactly in her home, but in a fairly spacious 1-bedroom loft style apartment over her garage/barn. I personally don't think it's a great idea, although I love the idea of him living so much closer to us rather than 3 hours away on the Jersey shore. Becus to get to the apartment there's a double flight of OUTSIDE stairs to the apartment, which I'm sure would be treacherous in this kind of weather and my dad is not at all steady on his feet. He is 82 now. I think the stairs have a roof over them, but still.

He is not sure he will like it becus he doesn't know anyone here, so his plan is to just move with a minimum number of items and stay here for a few months but still periodically go back to check in on his house on the shore.

I told him I want to help with the move; i have plenty of time off to do so. I was also a little miffed that neither he or my sister told me about this; i learned it thru my half brother when i wished him a happy birthday.

The other issue with my dad moving is that I don't think he would pass the eye exam with DMV, so he'd have to risk keeping his out of state plates on his car and hope no one noticed. I brought this up with him and he said he thought he could pass the exam. This, after telling me last time his left eye is pretty much "useless." With just one eye you've got to figure he has no depth perception, and they do test for that herein CT. I know I nearly flunked the depth perception part of the test myself when I took the test many years ago.

It would almost be better, if my dad was intent on moving, to find a little place of his own, one level, that better suited his needs. Of course, he's got that now where he lives, on the Jersey shore. He's made many improvements over the years and it's perfect for him.

I suspect one reason, perhaps a big reason, my sister would like to have my dad living there is because she's tried to have renters living there and has had problems with tenants there and stopped renting it out becus she was tired of the issues. And she could certainly use the extra income. I think she overextended herself when she bought her house and she doesn't make a huge income. At the time she made the purchase, I think she was really counting on the extra rental income to get by.

Even at 82, my dad, bless him, is still a bit of an adventurer, maybe even a dreamer, and I'm not sure he has really thought fully about how problematic those stairs will be. I don't think it would make much difference if I pointed this out to him; both he and my sister are the kind of people who will do what they want and forge ahead. My sister bought this old stone house with 3 acres so she could farm it to her heart's content. And coming from a stone house previously, that's all she would live in. She loved the rustic feel of it. However, this house had a lot of things to be fixed; she doesn't share much with me, but i can tell by just looking at it that much of the maintenance has not been addressed. It's really unkempt and downtrodden looking. So here she is so unhelpful when it comes to helping my mom, who has Alzheimers, and now she's invited my dad to live up there with her so she can boost her income. And hasn't said a word about it to me.

I'm evolving

March 1st, 2015 at 10:37 pm

After entering the 21st century with my new LED TV and Roku stick, I wound up buying an Android smartphone which at first I was going to return because I was overwhelmed by how much I had to learn to use it and no true user's manual, but now I think I'm going to keep.

It was $130, has the dual selfie/outward-facing camera, Google voice recognition when you're doing a search for something which I LOVE, no contract, just pay as you go with TracFone and triple minutes for as long as I own the phone. It's got a 4.5-inch screen, which is pretty big. It even has a built-in flashlight.

At least I can make a phone call now and I set the weather to my town. I can get online but it's a royal pain trying to type in my email password because I happen to have an underscore (_) in it and I can't seem to get voice recognition for my password to work. I also have no idea how to delete an email message. Sigh. I haven't even begun to explore apps.

When I first started working at the bank I was having major withdrawal pains from not being able to check my personal email from the office. Truth be told, after 1.5 years, it's not such a big deal anymore and since I'm not doing much freelance writing, there's really nothing urgent coming along via email that can't wait til I get home.

It can do so much more than my EXTREMELY basic cellphone with the teeny buttons. Now I'm practicing my touch and swish and slide technique. Smile

I bought a shoe stretcher on Amazon and wanted to use it on a good pair of leather shoes that aren't wide enough. I wound up ripping out some of the shoe stitching by putting it in. Now I'll have to bring it to a shoe repair place because I like these shoes (I have them in 2 colors) and have had them forever. Just a basic loafer with a 1.5 inch heel.

I read online that using 2 cups of OxiClean with hot water is a good way to clean soap scum off shower tiles, but it failed to achieve the desired results. I want the tiles to shine and they are very dull.

The state of CT is preventing me from filing my tax returns because they issued me an incorrect 1095A form, which I need to show how much money I received in subsidies for health insurance for the 1st 4 months of 2014; they had me down as getting the subsidies for 11 months of the year, which would mean I would have to pay back nearly $4,000 instead of the $1400 I know I owe! As if simple failure to notify them I didn't want the insurance anymore is justification to penalize the policyholder.

I KNEW I hadn't told them I was cancelling but this was at a time when I was still focused on doing well at my new job and the health insurance company's hours were exactly the same as my bank's, meaning I couldn't call after hours. There's no privacy in my cube for that kind of call and I did once or twice go in the stairwell to call but there were always long wait times. I scribbled "Cancel" on one premium notice and mailed it back to them but apparently that didn't register. It wasn't til November that I finally got someone on the phone and that's why the 1095 form they issued me indicated I cancelled in November, when in fact I'd stopped paying for the insurance 8 months earlier.

Since getting the 1095 A form in early February, I got bounced around to different phone numbers and then either got a consistent busy signal or got a phone that rang and rang and rang. I did talk to one guy, apparently the right guy, 2 weeks ago and he argued that because I didn't effectively cancel the insurance when I went on another plan that I would be considered still on their plan, even though I 1. stopped paying the premiums after April, 2. Filed no claims after April and 3. Was paying for insurance via agency that hired me as a contract worker. At the time of our conversation he said he would call Healthy CT, which is the health plan I had been. Well, I haven't been able to talk to him since but I did leave a phone message telling him I found at home a letter Healthy CT sent me in July which proves I wasn't a policyholder through November. In the letter they basically said we see you haven't paid your premiums since April and if we don't get those back premiums due, we'll cancel your insurance as of May 31. I told him I could scan and email that letter to him.

But I still haven't heard back and can't get thru on the phone. It's extremely trying becus I REALLY want to get my taxes behind me and I can't, and I feel completely helpless to do anything about it. They simply don't answer their phones and their customer services is non-existent.

If I don't hear from him or get the darn revised 1095 form, I may write a long and detailed letter to Access Health president, the Commissioner of the CT Dept of Public Health, which oversees Access Health and possibly even appeal to my state representative to intervene on my behalf. Becus I really don't know what else I can do. I am hoping that just the threat of my doing so, if left on another phone message, may be enough to get the form. If he even listens to his messages.

Last night I tried the first pill of some free samples my gynocologist gave me for hot flashes. I've dealt with hot flashes for 5 years and I am pretty sick of them by now. The daytime once have eased up; i still feel all heated up maybe 4 or 5 times a day, but it's nothing like the once every hour routine I had when they started in 2010. Nighttime hot flashes are still a problem, though, and I feel I toss and turn all night, first I'm hot and throw off the covers and tear off my pajamas, then I'm cold, then I'm hot, etc.

But the pill caused digestive issues and a mild headache; can't deal with the former when I'm at work, even though the label said it was only in the 1st 4 weeks of use.

I researched some non-prescription, non-hormonal alternatives online and ordered I-cool from Amazon, so we'll see how that works.

Doctors are so quick to prescribe a med that's often got side effects as bad as what it's trying to fix.