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Archive for August, 2015

Stock market gyrations and my net worth

August 30th, 2015 at 05:22 am

Tomorrow's the last day of the month and so I decided to do my monthly investment report a day early.

This past month I lost $19,849 in my overall portfolio. I guess it could be worse. No doubt the loss was softened by the fact I'm investing 28% of my paycheck every 2 weeks.

I'm not really worried about it; the market will come back up. What's more frustrating is that I still haven't yet broken the $700,000 barrier in total savings. Yeah, I know, what a problem.

But interestingly, in 2009, my portfolio stayed in the $300,000s range for just 7 months until I surpassed $400,000 in savings.

My portfolio lingered in the $400,000s for 2.5 years.

My portfolio lingered even longer in the $500,000s for nearly 3 years. Of course, I was very underemployed and not contributing to savings at all from Q4 of 2009 through mid-2013.

And now, my portfolio has lingered in the $600s for 1.5 years so far. At one point in May of this year, I was ALMOST there with investments totaling $699,727. Now I'm back down to $665,235.

Frustrating. Looking at my "Countdown to Retirement" savings goal in my sidebar, I'm supposed to have saved $723,000 saved by this November. I doubt that's going to happen, and that's going to throw my whole plan out of whack.

On the plus side, I see that I'm on track to save $34,000 in 2015 (see sidebar). Of that, $23,000 is on auto pilot via automatic Roth 401k contributions, but I wasn't sure if I'd be able to save the remaining $11,000 through my own after-tax savings. I can see from my August expense report that I've saved $6,285 YTD, meaning I have another $4,714 to save this year, or $1,178 saved each month through year's end. Actually still a fairly steep goal, but if I can continue to reimburse myself for mom's expenses through yarn and art sales, I stand a better chance.

..in other news..

Remember a week ago when i came down with hives and couldn't figure out what it was? Well, when I analyzed what i had to eat, there was really only ONE thing I ate that wasn't part of my regular diet....an heirloom variety tomato grown in my garden.

So last night I decided to eat one of those same tomatoes again...a tomato is a tomato, right? And you wouldn't think you'd react to one variety but not others. But wouldn't you know my back started feeling itchy and i looked and could see a half doze rather large red spots. It wasn't nearly as bad as the first time, and I waited to see if it would get worse. It didn't, so I just went to bed without taking any antihistamines, and I feel fine today. I guess I'll have to throw those precious homegrown tomatoes out for the woodchuck.

Getting a handle on dollars and cents

August 29th, 2015 at 05:15 am

I finally figured out what I wanted to do in terms of managing my mother's expenses...in other words, should I pay a portion of them out of my own pocket or reimburse myself? Or strike some happy balance?

My thoughts have been this: I don't want to shorten my mother's expected 3-year stay at the assisted living place by having to dip into her savings to pay the many out-of-pocket expenses we're incurring, yet I don't want any big impact on my own personal finances either.

So I've decided to continue paying all of my mother's out of pocket expenses. These include:

Condo, until it is sold:
HOA fees: $343.62 a month
Taxes: $90 a month (thanks to senior discounts)
Electric: About $40 a month with nothing but the hot water heat and digital stove on? Hard to tell right now becus she's on a budget plan with electric company and I'm still paying over $200/mth for last year's incredibly high heat bills.
Minimal heat in winter: ??

Homeowners insurance: $16.50 a month
Meds & various over the counter supplements: @ $50 a mth
Other costs vary, but the costs above total $540 a month. This seems manageable to me, especially given that I will be reimbursing myself from the sale of my mother's yarns. This month I raised $441 from the sale of yarns and another $152 from the sale of weaving accessories. The yarn and accessories sales were 16 individual sales and a lot of work but I do feel a sense of accomplishment about that.

I still have at least another 100 yarn cones to go. When that's gone, I can continue reimbursing myself from the sale of art. It doesn't mean I can sell every last piece; it can be hard to unload this stuff, but I can make a dent. When the best pieces are gone (and that's excluding the ones I've already chosen for myself), I can start in on the photography equipment and a few diamond rings. the trick is finding the right market and the right buyers for each of these categories.

In short, I believe I can probably reimburse myself for costs indefinitely, especially since once the condo is sold, my ongoing expenses (outside of the assisted living place rent) will drop considerably, which will be a huge relief.

Several of you suggested taking photos of all art before it's sold. I have been doing that anyway because I've been using my photos to email to friends at the office. Plus, my mother has mountains of slides of all her work..something I've been contemplating throwing out...it's just that it takes up so much room and I will probably rarely if ever look at those slides. It's her one archive and I don't really have a suitable place to store the stuff so it won't get damaged. Remember, I don't have central air here and I do swelter with the humidity for much of the summer. For now, I'll hold onto it. I have too much to think about without adding that to the mix.

Starting to get excited about my solo vacation

August 28th, 2015 at 05:46 pm

Thanks to all your encouragement, I AM getting excited about my upcoming trip.

As often goes with Patient Saver, she is already planning what to bring, etc. I think I'll want to save a few bucks by bringing my own breakfast with me for the 2 days, since there's a fridge and microwave in the room, so I may as well make use of them.

I have the address of the place on Bearskin Neck that does takeout lobster. Smile

My preference is to get settled in the room first before I head out to explore, but check-in isn't til 2 p.m., so I plan to leave here around 10 a.m. to be there at just around that time. I figure that afternoon will be a good time to stretch my legs after the long car ride and do some easy hikes near Rockport Harbor.

I'll save the bike riding and more serious hiking for the next day, and can explore the shops both nights, when I decide where to eat for dinner. Smile

I'll bring my coloring books for adults and some snacks to enjoy on my private terrace overlooking the sea. And very little in the way of clothes. With no one to impress, I can get by with one pair of jeans, one pair of shorts and maybe some capris and two tops. Maybe a sweatshirt if it gets cool at night. And probably just my sneakers for hiking and biking.

There are 2 coworkers at my office interested in purchasing my mother's art. One has already picked out a piece that with a discount, will cost her $85. Perhaps a little low, but I'd like to start moving some of this art out of here. If it was sold through a gallery, I'd be paying a commission anyhow, so netting $85 sounds ok.

I keep wondering whether I should share the news of sales like this with my mother. On the one hand, it was always a happy occasion when she could tell me she sold something. I'd like to give her that pleasure, but then she may want the money, and I'm not sure I like her having much more than small change at the place where she's living, because the money could be stolen or misplaced by her. So I don't know. Or maybe she'd want to deposit it at her bank, which could really cause problems, because if she saw her bank balance, it might raise questions. She doesn't know assisted living costs money. She thinks it's paid for, I guess, by Medicare.

I have mixed reactions when people ooh and ahh over her work. I've already picked out my favorites to keep for myself, but there are still many I'm fond of and will find it hard to part with, even though I don't have the space for all of it. Also, having stored 95% of my mother's remaining art for the past 4 months now (she has a fair amount at her place, and there are some pieces I'm using as staging for her condo, which is up for sale), I must be getting used to the pieces at my home and I'm beginning to be very aware that there's a limited amount of her art left, and once it's gone, it's gone forever.

This is how I felt after my grandparents died. My grandfather was a woodworker and spent his retired years selling his stuff at craft shows up and down the East Coast. It always seemed, when he was still alive and creating more, that there was an endless supply, but it quickly dwindled once he was gone. That's how I think it will go with my mother's art.

The pop-up gallery person seems to want to take quite a bit of my mother's art for display at a local spa, beyond the half dozen or so she's already taken. I'm beginning to hesitate about that, though, because I don't know who has access to this spa after hours..cleaning people or staff, for example. What would happen if something went missing? Compare the risks to the typical art gallery, a small space with the proprietor always on hand. I think it much less likely anything would ever get stolen at a gallery; not so sure about the spa.

For the same reason, I may not jump at the offer of a local weaver and someone who's very active in the local arts commission to exhibit my mother's work at the municipal center. It was at this same center where there were rows of tables overflowing with well wishes and condolences following the 12/14 shootings. Origami dove mobiles, cards, letters, stuffed animals. There was an intricate quilt someone made, from the heart, and it was stolen. That's what I fear might happen to art lining the long corridors over there. Everything is accessible to the general public and no one is really minding the store over there. I may just turn down that offer entirely.

The other offer made to me was a much smaller exhibit behind locked glass at the local library. That's one I would do.

One thing I WOULD like to get some exposure for is her dozen or so large tapestries. I have yet to unroll them to even look at them, but i need to see how they could hang on a wall. The longer I store this stuff at my house, the more likely things will become damaged over time, and thus, unsellable. So sooner, rather than later, is the key.

I've made great progress selling yarns but still have LOTS to go. I'm pretty sure I've raised over $1500 just in yarn sales. Who knew they were worth so much? And to think my sister said, oh just give the yarns to whoever buys the looms.

Many of the yarn companies these yarns came from (those that had labels) are out of business now, but i was able to contact Plymouth Yarns, of which my mother has a LOT of. By sending them photos of the yarn cones as well as the lot number and dye number, they were able to ascertain that the yarns I have are 100% wool, which is great for sales. I thought they might be a synthetic blend, which would lower their value.

I have been using one particular Facebook destash fiber group where things sell very, very well. I mean, you still need to offer deep discounts off retail, but just a single wool cone weighing a pound could go for $20 to $30. I have at least a hundred cones left (not all wool). I could see this being an enjoyable pastime this winter. And there are a few people who have already become repeat buyers many times over.

They seem to have yarn fetishes, I swear. However, most of these people have very high standards as to fibers. They are only interested in 100% wool, cotton or silk. Not polyester or acrylic, for example. It has to be very high quality stuff. A lot of them are into growing their own wool (mohair, alpaca, etc) as well as dyeing it and spinning it. It's an incredibly active site. Many things I've posted for sale were sold in less than an hour. My best sale on that site came from about 15 oz of tussah silk. Tussah refers to the fact that the silkworms are wild, not cultivated. I got $80 some odd dollars for it!

My office looks like a post office with tons of shipping supplies and boxes of every size and dimension.

Going on vacation...by myself

August 27th, 2015 at 08:44 am

This should be interesting....

If you read my earlier post, the little 2-night getaway I planned for a beach town in Massachusetts with an old friend of mine began unraveling in the past week.

Things just got too contentious with all the special accommodations for his dog, who would travel with us, and my friend can be very stubborn and inflexible, IMO. I felt like I was making so many concessions about how I would spend my time, and this little trip is SO important to me, after all the stress with my mom, and not having any other truly fun time off this year. I didn't want to spend time dog-sitting, sitting in the car longer to accommodate multiple dog pit stops or relying solely on take-out because Ron couldn't go to a restaurant with the dog (I did locate a few outdoor places that did allow dogs but Ron doesn't eat good food anyway, just fast food.)

Anyway, we agreed it might be best not to take this trip together after all, and he suggested I try cancelling his room.

Instead, I decided to try to find someone else who might like to join me there so first first I tried one friend, and then another, both of whom were tied up doing other things, and I'm asking on very short notice, as we'd be leaving in a few days. Then I even asked my 82-year-old father (!) who is always up for an adventure. He was interested but he called me back today and said he was going to have to pass as he's got a bunch of stuff going on, 2 doc appointments during the time we would be away and he's trying to put in a new shower at his new apartment up here and nothing seems to be getting done.

So to my surprise, I am going on vacation alone, the first time ever in my life, if you don't count a few one nighters on business.

I'm feeling a little trepidation. It is a 3-hour ride up there, skirting Boston traffic, but at the same time, I'm also the adventurous sort and I see several advantages to traveling alone. Mainly, that I can do exactly what I want to do and not worry about accommodating someone else. So that would mean lots of long walks, maybe renting a bike and pedaling around to explore with my camera and stopping in at the many shops. I already have a print-out of some great hikes in the area.

The only thing I wouldn't be comfortable doing is having a nice lobster dinner at a restaurant, party of one. I will have to settle for a good lobster roll at a takeout place. Not the end of the world. And since my room will have a microwave and fridge, I plan to bring my own granola and some rice milk and teabags, etc so I don't have to spend extra for breakfast. I can enjoy my breakfast on the private deck overlooking the ocean and then head out on bike or on foot. SWEET. The only other thing I probably wouldn't do is venture out much past dark. The room has cable, and I go to bed early anyway. The hotel is right on a beach, but I doubt I'll spend much time there.

No doubt I will be worrying about my 2 kitties, but my neighbor will be coming in once daily to feed them, so they should be okay. I guess I could always plan on leaving early on Wednesday morning to head home.

I called the hotel and let them know the one room wouldn't be taken, and since they only charged my credit card for one room, one night,she said she wouldn't charge me anything for the last minute cancellation of the 2nd room, for which I am very grateful. (I am sure they would charge me $228 if I tried to cancel my own room as well.... so I HAVE to go, because I've been DYING to get away and I'm not one to waste my own money!)

So my bill will be about $450 for my room for the 2 nights, plus whatever I spend on lunch and dinner, and maybe a bike rental and if something catches my fancy in a shop. Smile My Honda gets about 45 mpg on the highway, and with current low gas prices, that expense will be minimal.

It sounds like FUN, I just hope I don't feel lonely.
I'm very comfortable with alone time but I've just never done it before on vacation.

How about you? Have you ever vacationed before by yourself?

What? No comments about the stock market??

August 26th, 2015 at 06:25 pm

I've been afraid to look at my brokerage balance. It can't be pretty.

Vacation disaster?

August 26th, 2015 at 06:10 pm

These things only seem to happen to Patient Saver.

So you may remember reading here that way back in July my old friend Ron and I were talking about taking a little getaway trip together. We both really felt we needed a break.

Ron is someone I met when I was 28 and he was 40. At the time I fell in love with him and thought he was so funny and so handsome and smart. But over time I felt he also had a pretty serious character flaw...he was very, very controlling.

It worked for a while at the time because when I was younger I was probably looking for a father figure of sorts because my parents split up when I was six. So I put up with his controlling ways and his insistence on always doing things his way, because he knew better.

Ultimately, though, we split up because of it. I often felt smothered. But Ron still has his good points and so we have remained friends these many years. He offers very good career advice, advice on life in general and has helped me in a pinch more than once. And he's still smart and funny.

You take the good with the bad, I guess.

Fast forward to this past July, when we agreed we were going to vacation together up in a beach town north of Boston for 2 nights and 3 days. I knew he felt he had to bring his dog with us on the trip. It's an older dog that is attached to him in an unhealthy way.

Before I booked our 2 rooms on my credit card, I wanted to make sure we had talked everything out about how we envisioned spending our time, our expectations about how things would go, etc. etc. He didn't really bring anything up at the time.

Only after I booked the rooms, at $205 a night (waterfront, in season) did I get an inkling of his expectations. I started to feel concerned about the prospect of having to put up with his dog standing on my lap with its butt in my face as he stared adoringly at Ron as he drove. (Ron's never taught the dog any basic commands and he doesn't even yell at the dog if the dog humps your leg, I mean, come on!) He lets the dog sit in his lap (a driving distraction if ever there was one) but the dog will sometimes get restless and then want to walk on the lap of whoever the passenger is.

Wasn't really looking forward to doing this for 3+ hours, so I told Ron that if he wasn't willing to put the dog in a kennel cage in back, or just in the back seat (he wasn't) that I would sit happily in the back seat so I'd have my own space and the dog could stay up there with him. Ron didn't like that idea and said he needed me up front to help manage the dog. And now all these other little expectations finally started coming out.

You would think after some discussion two people should be able to work things out, but Ron is very inflexible.

We were already planning on staying at this one particular inn because they allow dogs on the first floor. But Ron was also expecting me to dog sit while he went and got his meals because most restaurants won't allow dogs, and the hotel's policy is you can't leave the dog unattended. You must be with it the whole time. So this means we could not have a single meal together in a restaurant. We would have to take turns watching the dog while the other one got takeout! Not likin' it at all! But I reluctantly agreed to do this, although with such a short trip planned, I really didn't want to have our agenda revolve around the dog's needs for the whole trip and this seemed like this was what this was turning into.

I had researched and found several restaurants that allowed dogs when you sat outside but Ron is not one to spend a lot of money on a really nice seafood meal, for instance. He mostly eats burgers and pizza. So in hindsight now, I doubt he'd want to eat at a nice sit down restaurant anyway; he mentioned Subway instead.

Then he announced that he wanted to leave for our trip at 6 a.m., something I didn't relish. He wanted to get an early start because, while the trip should take 3 hours with no stops, he said it would take us 4.5 hours to get there due to the fact we'd need to make several longer stops for the dog. I already considered this particular destination as being at the outer limits of the distance I wanted to drive (3 hrs) for such a short trip, but I had agreed to this hotel after spending hours online searching for the right place that was dog-friendly to boot and not being able to come up with anything. So when I heard him say 4.5 hours, I really was not happy.

I know he gets up very early, and he said he gets tired in the afternoon, although I had already said I wanted to drive part of the way. Ron has a disorder where he can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, and I have been with him many times in the car where he starts nodding off behind the wheel and i have to yell at him to stay awake. Very frightening. He keeps a supply of those energy drinks in his car. He had agreed that if this happened, he would pull over and I would get in behind the wheel.

Then he said we would be splitting the cost of gas, which is fair, although he drives a gas guzzler and i drive a very thrifty Honda. Between that, his sleepiness and the dog issue, i started to feel like I'd rather drive up there myself. Seems extreme, i know, but we had already agreed that for parts of the day we'd be doing our own thing, because he's not very energetic and I am.

Anyway, we got into an argument about the trip last night. He just has too many conditions and I felt I was the one making all the concessions.

So we agreed it might be better if we didn't go together. Except for the fact that the rooms were booked with my credit card and they had a No Refund policy for cancellations made within 2 weeks of arrival.

Ron suggested calling the inn owners and telling them he has prostate cancer (he does) and maybe stretching the truth a little to work on their sympathies so that i could get his room refunded.

Instead, I called 2 friends of mine and invited them to come, but both turned me down due to the very short notice.

So then I called my dad, thinking it could be fun to have a father/daughter road trip up there. He has 2 doc appts during that time down in Jersey, but is going to call me back tomorrow and let me know if he can come after seeing if he can reschedule. I told him not to worry about it if he couldn't make it or if it became too complicated. I don't want him to do it because he's bailing me out of a predicament.

Worst case scenario, if the inn wouldn't refund the one room, I don't think Ron would let me end up paying for it. I told him I was still going on this trip, even if i go alone, come hell or high water, I need to enjoy myself. So it's his decision not to go (mainly because I told him I wanted to drive myself).

I think my dad would enjoy the trip and at his age, he probably doesn't have many more trips like this in his future. He's always been the adventurous sort. He worked for many years as a school teacher, and in the summers he worked as a tour guide on bus trips up to Nova Scotia.

I do recognize that having my elderly father with me would be sort of similar to having Ron with me in that they both don't move too fast or have the energy to keep up with me.

So if we go i will have to somehow find a way to suggest to dad that for part of the time he relax at the beach or someplace where he can park himself while i go off exploring or window shopping or taking photos or whatever.

The whole thing is fairly embarrassing to relate, but it is what it is. I hope you don't think worse of me as a result. Ron and I just aren't compatible in a lot of ways, and I should have had the wisdom not to try to make this work, like fitting a square peg in a round hole. But you always hope, you always want to try. When we were together, he took me to Europe five times on some very exciting backpacking and Euro rail trips all across the Continent, to Paris, London, Monaco, Nice, Budapest, Munich, Zurich, the Swiss Alps, Bavaria, Saltzburg, and we did even make one trip to Ireland as friends, after we'd split up, so I know it is possible. Or at least I thought it was.

In other news, a local weaver woman stopped by the house 2 days in a row to peruse yarns and spent about $80 on each visit, so I was happy about that. I also really liked her, and she suggested we do lunch sometime.

I finally figured out that the musty, bad smell in my dining room was not coming from my mother's yarns, or from my own basement, but from the PLASTIC shelving itself. Very strange, but if i put my nose right up to it, there was that smell I've been smelling since I moved all that stuff in here. My mother had several other shelves just like it, but this is the only one that smells.

I didn't want potential yarn buyers to smell it and think the yarn was no good or that i was a lousy housekeeper, so first i moved the stinky shelving upstairs, and then after selling enough yarn, i was able to move what was left on its shelves to other shelves and tables downstairs and then i moved the shelves themselves to my basement, where it will reside forever.

What's going on

August 21st, 2015 at 06:11 pm



Another week's flown by.

I kept very busy selling yarn online. It takes SO much time doing it this way. Weighing what you have, finding just the right box for it (too big and you pay extra for nothing) and just calculating the cheapest way to ship is a challenge. I can't say that between flat rate boxes, 1st class mail, "standard" post, etc. the post office rates are easy to understand. I suppose in the past week I've sold to 4 people and netted, after paypal and postage fees, about $117.

Shipping priority mail is the most convenient because you can print out the postage on your computer and then have them come pick up the package at no additional cost, and it comes with free tracking and insurance, but I find it's often cheaper to ship in your own box, standard post. The regional rate boxes are yet another way to go, if you happen to be shipping to someone relatively close to you, you can save money that way.

Tomorrow I decided I would take my mother to an art museum about 40 minutes from here. She seems interested.

This weekend I really need to take yet more photos of my mother's art to add to the pieces the pop-up gallery woman already took about a month ago, to show at a local spa.

Plus, another woman at my office expressed interest in my mother's art (I have some of it hanging in my cubicle) so after inquiring about her tastes/preferences, I want to take pix for her, too, and maybe make a sale.

So my office moved down 2 floors in our building last Friday and this past Monday was our first day in our new digs. After all my worry, it's really not that bad, partly because my boss gave me a good cube at the front end of my row. Well, I say good becus it has a higher cubicle wall (only about 4 feet high) cus it faces the main corridor and is directly across from the glass doors you step through after getting off the elevator. But as it turns out, since my at home work days are Tues/Thurs and i learned that 2 of my coworkers in the same aisle work at home Wed/Friday, the only day we're all there together is Mondays. There is another coworker there but she sits 3 cubes back so noise isn't really an issue with her.

Gosh, I thought I had more to say. Oh, it's sales tax-free week here in CT for the back-to-school crowd, so i want to hit Macy's maybe sometime tomorrow as I have coupons.

In another 10 days I'll be taking real VACATION TIME.


August 21st, 2015 at 05:55 pm

Reconnecting with the newly rediscovered relative

August 17th, 2015 at 06:10 pm

I really enjoyed getting to know my 2nd cousin from Jersey when she came up for a brief visit after visiting my mom in the assisted living place.

Coming from such a small family, with just one sibling of my own who's never chosen to have a close relationship with me, and with both my parents not having any siblings, it feels very exciting to "rediscover" a long lost relative that I never really knew.

She's the granddaughter of one of my grandfather's 3 brothers. Ironically, she has fond memories of both my grandparents, which surprised me so much because I had no real relationship with my grandfather. He was a very distant figure who rarely if ever spoke to me and didn't seem to like children. I guess I know he loved me but he never really showed it other than to give me, my sister and my mother money.

It actually sounded like she might have had a better relationship with my grandfather than I did. Looking back, my grandfather never seemed happy in his marriage to my grandmother, but in those days, you didn't get a divorce. They stuck it out. I remember so many times my grumpy and short-tempered grandfather would come up from the basement, where he'd have been working all day on his woodworking, avoiding my grandmother, but he'd come up for dinner and be pretty cranky at the table. My grandmother would immediately shush him and say, "Not in front of the children." That was really all the conversation that took place between my grandparents.

My grandmother was so very different from my grandfather. For me, she epitomized the purest, truest love. She was always there for me, and I miss her dearly to this day.

Anyway, it sounds like my cousin is interested in us continuing to get to know each other. I think we both have a strong interest in hearing about each others' lives, past and present. There may be a trip down to Jersey involved.

But here's a bit of a dilemma. She picked out several small and 1 medium-sized pieces of my mother's art, which was fine. I'd offered it to her after she told me she loved my mother's work but couldn't afford to buy it.

Now, in her note to me today, she described one large framed piece and said she wanted to buy it, and hoped she could help me out in that way to raise $$ for my mother. The piece would probably normally sell for around $750 or $850. But I don't think I could charge her for it; I'm feeling kind of emotional, warm and fuzzy after our visit and the warm exchange of emails we've had. I personally like the piece myself but aside from that, am also feeling reluctant to give it to her becus of its potential to generate a decent amount of badly needed $$ for mom.

So I don't know.

New credit card, new rewards goal

August 15th, 2015 at 05:55 pm

I got my new Citi Thank You Premier card today. Oh my gosh. You should have seen the fancy schmancy package it came in via Priority Mail. Talk about trying to make an impression.

Funny thing is, it bears a new circular design that I've been quizzed about as a citi online forum member. They wanted to know if I liked the card design but here it is, already produced and in circulation.

Of course, I will have to be careful to cancel this card (I can be rather lax in cancelling cards) before a year has passed so I don't get hit with the annual fee, waived for the first year.

I'm looking forward to earning my $500 in gift Cards by spendng $3,000 in 3 months. I have friend who like to help me do that by letting me pay for their bills and paying me back in cash. Smile

Gas prices are low today. $2.49 a gallon. Heating oil is too, but with the new 150 gallon minimum, I'll have to wait til at least November to fill up, by which time prices will have probably risen as demand rises. Frown


Met my 2nd cousin today

August 15th, 2015 at 04:36 pm

So my grandfather had 4 brothers. One of them, my late Uncle Tony, had a granddaughter about my age, and she's the one who came to visit my mother today with her friend.

When they arrived, my mother wasn't there. I was totally annoyed with Maplewood because last week I emailed the activities director and specifically asked her to make sure my mother wasn't taken on any shopping errands or other trips today because she had special, out of state visitors coming whom she hadn't seen in many years. The director wrote back and said absolutely, she will be here.

Except she wasn't. They had taken a group to Friendly's for lunch. As an aside, this means I'll be charged for that lunch despite the fact I'm already paying for her 3 meals a day at Maplewood. This doesn't make any sense to me when I'm paying $69,000 a year for her there!!!

Anyway, she eventually returned and had a very good visit with my mom at the assisted living place, from what my cousin told me.

They came here afterwards so she could pick out some art for herself. She also picked out some art for her 2 grandkids, which I couldn't really say no to, and then she asked if her friend could pick out some art. I was starting to feel a little put upon at that, but the friend did not pick anything out.

We did have a good visit and it was very nice to meet real "family" since I hardly have anyone outside of my immediate family. Both my parents were an only child, so it's just the siblings of my grandparents, whose children and grandchildren I can call family. And of my 4 grandparents, this is the only grandparent, my mother's father, that we even this tenuous connection to.

We promised to scan, copy and exchange some family photos and I invited her to come up again.

I was so annoyed with Maplewood that I once again began thinking about what it would take to have my mother live here. It would take a lot.

1. My mom has allergies; I would have to give up my 2 cats, which I don't think I could do.

2. I would have to renovate the downstairs bathroom and put in a shower so she could live on the main level, taking over my family room as her bedroom and using that bath.

3. I'd still have to hire an aide 8 hours a day to supervise her while I was at work. Even at a modest $20 an hour, which I think was around what I was paying before I put mom in Maplewood, that would come out to $41,000 a year vs the $69,000+ I'm paying now, so while yes, it would be cheaper, it would still cost quite a lot of money.

4. I'd have to defer my longheld plans to sell this place and buy a condo. Not to mention my total loss of privacy. Wouldn't make sense to buy a condo for 2 as I don't know how long I could care for my mom before she worsened and it got to be too much. Could be just a matter of a few years.

If I were going to do this, the time to do it would be sooner rather than later, if we assume I wouldn't be able to have mom living with me when she got worse with the Alzheimers. And of course, if i waited too long to do this, her money would be spent that much sooner.

In my heart, I feel it's not realistic and perhaps I'm just wishful thinking. I don't think it would work, if only because I don't have the mettle to be a full-time caretaker. I just wish there were other options.

Not a bad day...

August 14th, 2015 at 06:11 pm

Today's doings:
1. Sold 4 loom harness shafts to the woman who bought one of my mother's looms, for $75.

2. Visited a 2nd nursing home in the area on my lunch break but was disappointed to learn that if my mother's dementia got worse and she began to pose a danger to others (vis a vis agitation) or herself (by wandering) they would not be able to keep her there. I wish she'd told me that on the phone and saved me the trip. I don't think I'd move my mother to a facility if I knew there was a good chance I'd have to move her again. It would be too disruptive to her life to do that to her a 3rd time.

3. On the way home from there I stopped at the PO to mail another shipment of yarn to Boston, and stopped at 2 banks, my mother's and my own, to make 2 small deposits from yarn sales.

4. I calculated since May, I've raised $3346 by selling my mother's stuff.

The main categories are:
Yarns & accessories: $1331
2 looms: $1160
Car: $750
Miscellaneous household items: $105

I still have plenty of yarns and accessories to sell, plus her art.

Instead of discouraging myself by focusing on the meaninglessness of these numbers when compared to the $5850 monthly rent, I need to instead tell myself that these monies are still helping, by making it easier for me to manage the out of pocket expenses that really add up. Like, when I paid $531 to recarpet the 2nd staircase at the condo, I had to charge it to my credit card. Or the monthly bills from the pharmacy that come to about $50 a month.

I still feel undecided about how to handle her expenses. I've been toying with the idea of setting up a money market account dedicated to her expenses, and then contributing to it on a monthly basis. The idea would be that although it would be my money I'd be putting in it, if the account is dedicated to mom, when the money becomes a sizable amount over time, it will be easier for me to just apply it to her expenses rather than feel like I'm withdrawing large sums from my own (other) accounts.

It's more a psychological tactic than anything else. I'm afraid if I don't create a special account just for her expenses, I'll be less inclined to use my own money to pay for these expenses if the money's coming out of my regular accounts.

The whole exercise may be stupid. If I don't want to really impact my own savings plan, realistically, I probably wouldn't be able to contribute more than $500 a month to this account, and that only adds up to $6000 a year....again, a drop in a bucket. Which leads me to ask myself for the hundredth time, What's the point? $6,000 will buy my mother one extra month at the assisted living place. That's it.

My closest friends are of the mind that I should just relax about all of this and let things happen, put my mother in a nursing home when the time comes and let the state pick up the tab. Which will happen eventually, but it's hard to just not try to do anything to prolong my mother's time at the place she is now, since it is SOOO much nicer than any nursing home. The place I checked out today had a kind of homey feeling to it, but when it got to the rooms, it was about as institutional as they come, 2 to a room with only a curtain divider for privacy and looking very much like a hospital room. Precious little room for paintings on the wall or anything else.

Yesterday I had my meeting with the Social Security Administration, at their office, to officially apply to become payee of my mother's SS checks. I don't need to do this as the checks are already deposited into the checking account to which I had my name added a year or more ago, so I could pay my mother's bills from that account, but in order to update the mailing address on her monthly Medicare statements, they said this is what I had to do. Because it's all tied together. They will send a notice to her doctor, who has to agree my mother can't manage her affairs, and then I'll have to take that to her bank so they can set up a specially designated Payee account. With that paper in hand, I have to then return to the SSA office and it will be official. A lot of running around just to update a mailing address.

It will actually complicate things a little because since I will want to apply her SS checks to her rent, but since it won't cover all of it, I'll hav

Dear God, I hope I get an offer soon on the condo. Foot traffic through there seems to have quieted down this month, and we're just weeks away from back-to-school time, so it looks like any buyer that miraculously appears now will not be a family buyer.

WHOA. How'd that happen?

August 14th, 2015 at 07:35 am

Last night I was sitting in my sun room on a lounge chair watching TV. It was around 8 p.m. and I was absentmindedly scratching myself. A lot. After 15 or 20 minutes of scratching, when I figured maybe there was an insect on the lounge chair that bit me in multiple places, I stood up and realized I had red welts all around my torso, lower back, butt, upper leg. HIVES!

How the heck did I get that? I ate nothing out of the ordinary.

I popped an antihistamine pill that expired in 2009 and I woke up at 8:45 a.m. this morning! Yikes. Work starts at 8:30 a.m., even when I work at home. I scrambled to get the laptop running.

The hives are nearly all gone, although I do seem some welts (not red) on my stomach. This is a 24-hour antihimstame and I'm wondering if they're gone for good or will they come back?

But the bigger mystery is what caused this to happen?

I assume the allergic reaction will occur a few hours after eating whatever you're allergic to.

Unless this is a brand new allergy with 1st time reaction, I ate NOTHING I haven't eaten a thousand times before.

Around 5 pm I made myself a smoothie with almond milk, kale, banana and frozen wild blueberries. All things I've eaten before, even regularly.

Sometime after that, maybe around 6 or 6:30 pm, I made myself a salad made up of green lettuce, homegrown tomatoes, cucumber, a handful of walnuts, croutons and Paul Newman's creamy caesar salad dressing.

I would think the reaction, which occurred around 8 p.m., was for the 2nd meal I had around 6 or 6:30 pm. These are ALL foods I eat often, even every day when it comes to the salads.

The only other thing I can think of, based on my online research, is that it was cat dander. I was lying on the lounge chair which is covered with a cotton throw, and the cats do frequently lay on it. I was wearing shorts and t-shirt that i think may have been riding up a little as i lay there in a recumbent position. So part of my back was directly exposed to the cotton throw. The worst hives on me were top of my butt and lower back.

What do you think? I'm totally thrown by this. The only other time in my life when i had hives was about 5 years ago when i was overdosing on Andrographis, an herb I was taking, along with others, when i had Lyme disease.

Mom's losing it

August 11th, 2015 at 03:48 pm

This journey is just beginning, but I continue to be shocked and dismayed by mental changes happening with my mother.

Yesterday I mentioned to my mother that my dad (they've been divorced for years) was looking into back surgery because he's been in a lot of pain.

Today my mother called and mentioned that she was thinking of going to the wake with me. Somehow, her mind made the leap from Dad isn't feeling well to Dad is dead.

Frightening and disturbing. It's only just begun.

Hopefully her cousin from NJ will visit her this weekend as planned. It will likely be the last time they see each other.

Early morning rain

August 11th, 2015 at 03:29 am

The sound of rain gently falling around 5:45 a.m. made me realize with a start I'd left my rubber boots out on the front stoop, exposed to the sky. I also left my wheelbarrow full of weeds sitting out on the brick patio.

I already went through one wheelbarrow with legs that rotted because I'd left it outside one too many times. And they're not cheap. So I snuck outside in the dim early morning light to don the squishy boots and walk around back to dump the weeds and bring the wheelbarrow into the garage. Oh, I also left the garage door open last night.

That being done, I'm sort of "awake" now.

Didn't do a whole lot yesterday...let's see....In the a.m. I dropped off the final carload of miscellaneous art supplies (unassembled wood frames, sketch pads, hardware for picture frames, tracing paper, etc.) at the local middle school. There wasn't really enough here of any quantity to try to sell, so at least it went to a good home. Art supply-wise, I am left with about 25 16 x 20 glass panes (for picture frames) that the school won't take due to the likelihood of them breaking. And I can't ship all that glass, so will have to scout around for a local buyer. Like looking for a needle in a haystack.

After that, my dad came and we went to lunch together to take advantage of a birthday coupon from a local restaurant. We both enjoyed it. After that, we stopped by the wood stove store and spent a good amount of time there with the salesperson as my dad wants to install a wood-burning stove in his new apartment at my sister's. It'll run about $4,000 with installation.

Yesterday I also managed to sell my mom's old Singer sewing machine for $20 to someone I used to do editing for. She lives locally and will pick it up today. I had previously posted this on Facebook together with the beautiful cabinet my grandfather made and the drawers stuffed with sewing supplies, but no one seemed willing at that time to spend $90. I decided the cabinet was too nice to give away, so that's why I'm just selling the machine.

I also sold another smallish batch of yarn to an Illinois weaver, a few small cones and skeins, that will likely net me after postage and Paypal fees about $24.

Waiting on a check from a Boston weaver and her package is already packed up. Will net a little more from her, I think.

Trying to sell bits of yarn online can take a whole lot of time without a whole lot of payback, but I am making something and it does decrease my overall yarn inventory. I'm going to try a cone next, as I saw someone on the same site selling some rayon chenille for $15 + shipping.

Postage is really not cheap once you move beyond a 1-ounce letter, and I'm finding the tricky part is finding a box that perfectly matches the size of what you're shipping or you'll pay to ship air as they charge not only by destination but by overall size and dimensions.

Picked a few ripe tomatoes from the overlooked tomato plants, already dieing back from blight.

Discovered a small bag of frozen tomatoes left over from last year's garden, so I dethawed that and made a vegetable soup with it last night.

Oh, and one big accomplishment, yet seemingly so little, is I managed to stop procrastinating and OPENED the envelope I received a few days ago containing some medical records from my mom's visit to ER last May, in the seminal event that triggered her admittance to assisted living. I had wanted to appeal the denial of her claim for the EMS transport to hospital, which cost $665 without Medicare coverage. I realized that the reason they didn't deem it "medically necessary" was because that was the one time my mother called 911 because she had constipation.

However, looking over some of the doc notes and hospital discharge papers, they listed the diagnosis as atrial fibrillation, which my mother is on meds for. So it's worth a shot to make a copy of these documents and submit the appeal.

We really don't need that kind of big bill at all right now. How sad. My only consolation is that we shouldn't have that happen again since she's living at Maplewood and presumably they would only let her go for a true emergency. But anyway, it was very hard for me to address this all; i get so tired of paperwork and stressful administrative things like this and had to call the EMS people AND Medicare AND Maplewood (before I realized this occurred prior to my mom's admittance there..true to form, they never returned my call anyway, something I find truly, deeply disturbing because no matter who you're calling for what reason, they do this consistently.)

Coloring away....simple pleasures

August 8th, 2015 at 05:46 pm

I got my delivery from HSN today and was pretty happy with getting 4 coloring books, plus 10 pencil colors, for about $20.

I like the images too. Here's the 1st one I've started:



It's kind of a flora/paisley design, although the position of the wheel-shaped circles at bottom right and top left make me think of a Harley every time I look at it.

There's enough detail here that it will probably take me a few weeks to do just this one image! I'm using colored pencils here but still plan to order fine-tipped magic markers. you can get a box of 100 for just $15 or so.

It's a little addictive. Several times I said, okay, I'm going to take a break and stop, but then I couldn't resist doing another section. Smile

I can see how this could usurp reading books at night. I'd gotten into the habit of picking up several used books at a time at the weekly book sale at library in the city where I work. They're so cheap, some at .50, that I'm happy to read and then re-donate. And I like the designs so much I may yes, even frame them. Smile

I'm psyched. Haven't brought them over to mom's yet although I did see her this morning.

I got the carpeting installed on the lower staircase and I'm glad I had it done. It looks so much better.

I also dropped off 4 pieces of art at a gallery about a half hour from here. We priced the large one at $400 and the smaller ones ranged from I think $65 to $125. I like the large one. It's a woven tapestry of the ocean and a few sailboats, and since we're near Lake Candlewood here, it seemed fitting to try to sell this during the summer months.

I picked up some groceries at the supermarket and made a double batch of breakfast granola this evening.

TGIF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

August 7th, 2015 at 05:25 pm

So tired, once again. It all catches up with me at week's end.

I just redeemed a pile of points on my last new card, the US Bank Flex Perks card. I got $250 in the form of a statement credit.

AND, I just applied for and was approved for my next card, the Citi Thank You Premier Card. You charge $3,000 in the 1st 3 months and get $500 back in gift cards.

I have to make sure to cancel this card afterwards as the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year only.

I wanted to have the card to use on my upcoming 2-night VACATION in Rockport. I can get my friend to let me charge his room expenses and his meals, etc., and he can just pay me back for everything. Then in October I've got my homeowner's and car insurance totaling over $1,000.

I committed to paying $531 to get the 2nd staircase at my mother's condo recarpeted. I'm paying more than I should have to because I foolishly overlooked this 2nd staircase when I had the rest of the condo done. I was stalling on doing it (though the carpeting looks SO ratty/disgusting) but my friend Dave, who previously owned a real estate brokerage, said just go and get it done...don't worry about the cost, in the grand scheme of things it matters very little. I suppose he's right.

So Empire is coming back to do it tomorrow a.m.; I have to wait around until they call to tell me when. Even thought they upped the price on me, they were still cheaper than the local mom and pop carpet places so i just swallowed my pride and called Empire back.

Dido who posts here put me in touch with a friend of hers who works for the Alzheimer's Assn. We've traded a few emails and today I received a care package from her that was really very sweet. It contained a little stuffed bear, an AA t-shirt, an AA ballcap, a book that has been recommended to me by several people called The 36-hour Day and a nice tote bag, all in AA's signature color purple. It's really heartwarming when you meet very caring and supportive people.

I just made lunch plans with my dad for this Monday, when I'm off from work. He is still living half unpacked at his new apartment at my sister's, but he won't let me help him because he feels he has his own way of doing things. I'm a great organizer. I would respect his stuff but he might be afraid I'd tell him what to do. Oh well.

For our lunch, I got a certificate in the mail from a local restaurant that somehow knows my birthday and they sent me a certificate good for $18 off an entree! It expires at the end of the month, so we'll go there, assuming they're open Mondays. If not, I also have gift cards worth $35 for Red Lobster. So dad won't pay either way!

No place like home

August 6th, 2015 at 05:35 pm

Today was the quarterly get-together with the rest of our "team" in Massachusetts. This time we had our picnic at someone's home and it was a picture-perfect day.

Everyone is really super nice. However, I find these things SO incredibly exhausting. About 3 hours drive to get up there and 3 back and 5 hours at the picnic....way too long IMO, especially for an introvert.

I acquired a tension headache when we arrived. And I felt so wiped out on the car ride home, i mean, totally physically exhausted. I met some nice people and had pleasant conversations, but it always feels like a big effort for me. It takes me another 24 hours to recuperate from the driving, although I myself was not doing the driving. There were 5 of us in a rented Chevy Tahoe.

There was tons of food and also plenty of delicious food for a vegan. Volleyball and horseshoes and a beautiful pool no one went in becus we're all too self-conscious about our weight, I think.

I felt so much better as soon as I got home. Still very tired, but I just feel more myself when I get here, cuddling with the kitty cats and relaxing in my sun room looking out onto green trees and green grass and hearing the crickets singing.

I regret now ordering the coloring book set from HSN that I posted about earlier because since doing a search on Amazon there are dozens to choose from, many with their own theme such as gardens, animals, cats or mandalas. I put them all on my wish list. I'm also ordering from Amazon a 100-piece marker set.

I kicked myself for not asking my boss if I could work from home tomorrow, as most of those I rode with today are. One of them rides a ferry to get to work from Long Island, and her commute is especially long. I could have asked her at some point today, but I don't know, I always feel like I'm asking for a special favor, and I dislike doing so. So I'll schlep in tomorrow.

However, next week will be great because I'll have my usual Tues/Thursday at home PLUS Friday, becus Friday is the day our office moves down two floors in our building and we'll lose Internet access at the office at 3 p.m. So we can work at home that day. Plus my boss is out Thurs/Fri anyway. Smile Even better, I have this Monday off. So I'll have a 4-day work week with 3 days at home. Yippee me.

Rediscovering childhood fun?

August 5th, 2015 at 06:15 pm

Do you remember coloring in coloring books when you were a kid? I do, and I enjoyed it.

I was intrigued and very excited to see on HSN TV that they were selling coloring books for adults. The pictures were interesting and fairly intricate designs not meant for kids, and the kit of 4 coloring books came with a half dozen colored pencils (you could also use your own magic markers or watercolors) for about $20.

They were marketing it as a great way to de-stress, pass the time while you're waiting for your plane at the airport, etc. A nice alternative to a book, I think.

I thought it would be very peaceful to do this myself, as a way to relax, but I also was excited because I wondered if I could get my mother to do it.

As you know if you read my posts, she was a lifelong artist and given how passionate and dedicated she was to her art for such a long time, it has been shocking to me to see her show little if any interest in creating art now that she has dementia. Coloring books are simplistic, yet if I sat down and did it with her maybe i could get her to apply herself and enjoy it as well.

Then I did a search for "coloring books for adults" and found this interesting story in the Times from this past March. Seems we're onto a trend here....

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/30/business/media/grown-ups-get-out-their-crayons.html?_r=0

Morning Doings

August 4th, 2015 at 10:08 am

Today's my only work at home day this week since our team picnic (11-5, what a long day) is in Mass. on Thursday.

Here's what I got done so far:

1. A week ago I noticed something GROWING in my back gutter on the roof. Got the gutter guy to come out same day I called (today) and clean out the gutter. He showed me big handfuls of what could only be described as "mossy muck," which allowed said plants to begin sprouting. $120 but at least it's done.

2. My dad called and wanted to stop by on his bi-weekly trip to Jersey. When I opened my front door, he brought a bouquet of flowers for my birthday (sweet, dad Smile and said, do you know there's a tree blocking your driveway? I looked, and lo and behold, a birch tree branch/trunk had come down in last night's thunderstorm. Dad and I both went at it with my 2 bow saws, but didn't quite finish it. He had a doc appt he couldn't be late for, so I urged him to go.

When the gutter guy drove up, he took the saw from me and finished cutting it so that at least my driveway is clear, I'll deal with the rest later.

3. I was able to sell a very small wood tapestry beater (looks like a comb) and after Paypal and shipping costs, netted $11 and change. I had only decided to sell that item on Facebook group because it was so lightweight and I knew it would be cheap to ship ($2.52) After receiving payment, I ran down on my lunch break to the PO.

4. I started the drawn-out process of appealing a medical claim denied by Medicare for my mother. It was a trip by ambulance to the hospital in May when she had an upper respirator infection, and they have paid her ambulance many times before, so I don't know why there was an issue this time. The bill is $665!!! I called and spoke to billing at her PCP's office and asked them to email me any doc notes, diagnosis from that date. He emailed me the medical release form which i signed and returned, along with a scanned copy of my POA form. Hopefully I'll get the actual medical records soon so I can send off the appeal to Medicare.

5. I did a load of laundry, specifically to have a certain outfit clean and ready to wear on my Thursday work picnic. I hung the laundry out to dry on my front stoop. I'll iron it all tonight.

This afternoon I still need to make my no-bake choco nut clusters for the picnic, load my car up for the landfill tomorrow a.m. on my way to work and ideally to get a call back from a 2nd nursing home so i can do a quick tour and get my mother on the wait list.

Also, importantly, I want to look at my mother's current asset allocation, not to try to reap any further earnings, but to protect her assets in case of a correction. It'll all be gone in 3 years, but until then, I want to make sure I don't lose any more in a market downturn.

Lunch at the German restaurant

August 2nd, 2015 at 05:49 pm

My friend came down today and took me to lunch to celebrate my birthday early (it's tomorrow) at the German restaurant that's across the street from my mother's assisted living place. I had goulash, which was pretty good, and he had the sauerbraten. After that, we stopped in to see my mother, which was nice, although my friend, perhaps understandably, was ready to go after about 40 minutes. I usually stay much longer.

My friend also brought me a hanging basket of pretty pink impatiens he grew from seed. I will try to overwinter them as he said he's done it many times, and I know how easy it is to propagate them from little clippings, which I'd like to do this week as there's still plenty of summer left.

I had time before and after my friend came to do some much needed weeding on the back brick patio. Crabgrass is the worst to pull out from cracks between bricks, let me tell you.

In fact, the whole back area is in dire need of attention. At least I made a significant dent in the weed situation but if I don't stay on top of it, all will be swallowed up whole.

I noticed while I was back there that I have weeds growing in the roof gutter! I'll have to hire a guy to hose down whatever debris has collected in there, which it shouldn't have since i have screens on the gutters.

This evening I also made my lunch for tomorrow at work: I cut up fruit for a fruit salad, put some of my peach and wineberry crisp in another container, and then put some cooked basmati rice with white kidney beans in another container with a cilantro olive oil dressing over it. That's quite filling because i used a full can of beans plus one of those little Seeds of Change packets of rice which you can heat up in the microwave, oh so conveniently. Rice and beans is probably one of the healthiest meals you can eat; I'm trying to fit in more legumes in my regular diet.

Oh yes, and for my thermos, I prepared a pitcher of cold water with a half cup of lime juice (2 limes), 2 packets of Stevia and a half cup of fresh mint leaves, all to steep overnight, resulting in an amazingly refreshing beverage tomorrow and through the week.

So I got a few things done but at a leisurely pace today.

This Thursday is our annual "team outing" with others we work with in one of our Massachusetts offices. a group of 5 of us will be renting a van to ride about 2 hours to the home of someone in the group where we'll have our daylong picnic. Not especially looking forward to it; I don't interact with any but 2 of these people and it will be a big group of 50 or so. After about a half hour I'll be ready to head home but it's basically an all-day thing. And it takes place on one of my work at home days, so I'll only have one work at home day this week Frown

No yarn sale activity this weekend though I did trade messages with a weaver here in town. She sounds very busy so I'm not sure if she will ever get over here, which is my hope. Also this week I will post a small weaving comb for sale; it's lightweight so should be easy to ship for $3 or less. I'll ask $12 for the wood comb.

I'm preparing to apply for another bonus credit card mid-month in August. The timing will be such that I can charge the remainder of both my friend's room and my own for a planned 2 night stay in Rockport, Mass, so I guess about $500. Then I can charge both my car and homeowners insurance in October so that will get me well on the way to charging $3,000 to earn the rewards. It's the Citi Thank You Premier Card and I would earn $500 in gift cards. I don't think I"ve ever had this card before, but I did have the Citi Thank You Preferred, which i THINK is a different card.

Irresponsible and inconsiderate...

August 1st, 2015 at 05:22 pm

...that's what the chimney cleaning company hired by my mother's property management association is.

All the residents got notices saying you MUST get the mandatory chimney inspection and if they decide it needs cleaning, it's $89. Never mind that my mother never used the fireplace in 15 years; the insurance company still requires a biannual inspection.

Fine. So I scheduled it for Sat. July 18. Of course, they give you a 3-hour window during which time they will show up. My window was 12 to 3 p.m. She said they'd be there closer to noon than 3. So i got there at 11:30 a.m. and waited til 3:05. They never showed. I stayed busy most of the time as I was still emptying out my mother's lower level, but this still totally annoyed me.

I called them twice during this window and got their machine. I called them the following week, leaving messages and my phone number. I called the property management company and he said unfortunately, all the inspections have to be done by this weekend, so we'll have to "tag team" "Jenny," meaning he would call her and I should call her. He said there were 4 or 5 people they didn't get to. Jenny said I was the only one they didn't get to. Which is it? Who knows.

When she finally called me back, instead of apologizing for the no-show, it was one excuse after the other and I caught her in all her lies. She said she returned each one of my phone calls. That was baloney, and she said, yeah, the phone number we have for you is.... and she gave my mother's old number, which was disconnected 2 months ago, so she couldn't have left me any messages. I also explained that if she listened to the recording it would have given my phone number as the forwarding phone number. Never mind that I gave her my phone number each time I called anyway.

She also said someone came during the appointed time, knocked but no one answered. Again, not true since I was here hauling things out to my car the whole time.

Could they not have made a 30-second phone call to me when they knew they wouldn't make it?

So anyway, we scheduled a 2nd visit for them to come today from noon to 3 p.m. And guess what happened???? They failed to show AGAIN. They wasted 6 hours of my time now!! I have so many more important things to do than sit around an empty condo waiting for someone to show up.

I left an angry message with property management. I am NOT waiting for another 3-hour window. How rude and inconsiderate. I wonder what their excuse will be this time.

Aside from that, I made a deposit into my mother's checking account, got a new leather band for my watch, got some ink cartridges for my printer at Staples and picked up more free shipping supplies at a post office branch. Also did some mulching and weed-pulling both at home and in front of my mother's unit as weeds had taken over.