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Home > Archive: September, 2015

Archive for September, 2015

Insights & Regrets

September 29th, 2015 at 05:49 pm

We introverts tend to be very analytical, and I'm no exception.

If I look back on the 4.5 months since mid-May, when things started going haywire with my mom, I clearly remember very many decisions that needed to be made: some were big, some were small. But I can look back and see more easily which decisions I got right, which I got wrong, and which didn't matter at all.

What I got right:

1. Negotiating the realtor's commission down to 5%. This took very little effort, maybe 1 minute of my time, and saved me $1400. No brainer.

2. Ignoring my sister. My sister's offhand comment, very early on, that she thought I was "jumping the gun" by putting my mother in assisted living really upset me (still does), but I'm glad it didn't deter me from doing what I did.

For many years I looked up to my "big sister," even though we never had a great relationship, but she has shown herself time and again she makes ill-informed decisions based on very little factual information.

I recall her also saying she would not go on the MS medication I've been on for 15 years, because my sister is generally anti-medical establishment. At the time she made this pronouncement, she knew very little about the nature of MS or ANYTHING about this drug, so for her to dismiss it was really quite ignorant, IMO.

3. Choosing Maplewood. OK, Maplewood is not perfect. My biggest complaint about them is that they forget things, seem disorganized and mess up many small things, like forgetting to keep my mother at the facility the day my cousin traveled up from New Jersey to pay her a visit.

There are things with the billing that I don't like, like the way they bill me for little outings to Friendly's for instance, with no proof that she ever ate there except their word. And it kills me to let her eat at a fast food restaurant that she would never have eaten at before the dementia, because my mother was an extremely healthy eater, not to mention the fact I'm paying exorbitant fees that already include 3 meals a day. So why pay twice?

They did provide a receipt the last time, but it was a receipt for a whole bunch of people, so again, it's not at all proof that my mother was with this group. Basically, I have no choice but to take their word for it unless I want to say my mother is not to go on outings anymore, but I'm not willing to do that for $15 or $25 a month. I've freaked out about expenses all along, but this is something I've decided to let go.

And so despite things like this, the people there are mostly pretty good and the facility is gorgeous, filled with natural light and airy. And my mother has a private room and bath with a great view and they have lots of fun activities. So for all these reasons, I feel I definitely chose the best place in the area.

4. Devoting all my free time to getting the condo ready for market without delay...for obvious reasons. I would have paid thousands more in carrying costs if I'd taken my time and not put it on the market til next spring, not to mention the psychological weight of having this hang over my heads for an additional 6 months in an uncertain stock market and housing market.

5. Screwing up the courage to ask my boss to work at home. This was huge. After enduring 4 long years of underemployment that ended in 2013, I was very careful to never do anything that jeopardized this job, becus i needed it too much. That included asking for work at home time, but because nearly everyone else in the company does work at home to one degree or another, I finally worked up the nerve to ask for it in a very compelling way. I was extremely candid with her about what was going on with my mother and she immediately agreed when I asked for 2 work at home days.

Here's another important thing: I'd been prepared for her to say no, I'll give you just 1 day, but I misjudged my boss. I was SO glad I asked for more than I expected to get rather than the absolute minimum I needed.

Asking for only the bare minimum in life is usually what I've done over the years, to try to make it easy on the other person and create minimal inconvenience to others. I'll try not to do that so much, whether I'm asking for a raise or anything else! I think this is a self-esteem issue. I should ask for everything I think I deserve, period.

This same flawed way of thinking would come out whenever I had a tag sale. I dislike negotiating prices, so I always hoped that if i priced something low enough, people wouldn't feel the need to negotiate. Wrong! They still do, becus people like to feel they're getting a "deal," regardless of how low the sticker price is to begin with. So you may as well price it higher.

Having the 2 work at home days has been indispensable in allowing me to get so many things done related to my mother. It would have been impossible if I worked at the office 5 days a week.

What I got wrong:

1. Listening to the doctor, Round 1. One of the biggest things that gnaws at me still is that I followed the advice of two different CT weavers about how to go about selling my mother's yarns. The first one, a retired anesthesiologist, was no doubt pretty comfortable financially and so perhaps didn't realize how important raising funds was to me, even though I told her. I also told her I wanted to sell everything fairly quickly because it was all over my home, so perhaps she only heard one part of it. Both she and the other weaver said well, if you want to get rid of the yarn quickly, price everything at $2 or $3 a yarn cone, etc. etc. Many of these yarn cones go for $30 new, and I've found that on Facebook and in private sales here in my home, people are quite happy to pay $15 a cone. The silks go for even more money.

2. Listening to the doctor, Round 2. Along the same vein, I followed the advice of the retired doctor/weaver (she ran the website of the handweavers guild) to price the larger of my mother's 2 looms very cheaply, at $200, and to also throw in, as an inducement, a couple bags of free yarn. I had the paperwork from my mother's purchase in the 1980s when she spent $3,000 odd dollars on the big loom, but according to the doctor, no one wants a large loom like that anymore because it's not portable.

So I priced it at $200 on their website and I soon had a buyer willing to drive all the way from PA to come get it. By that time, I realized I'd under-priced it. She told me she'd been looking for this particular model, which was discontinued, for a long time. I regretted saying in the ad the buyer could also take 2 large bags full of yarns free. She picked them out herself and no doubt took the most valuable yarns before I realized what I had. I cringe at the thought. At least I limited how much she stuffed in the bags to 20 cones per bag. And to her credit, she did buy an additional $125 or so of more yarns, which she paid for.

What I got wrong, but didn't really matter:

1. Choosing my realtor. I didn't have much of a basis for choosing this particular realtor except that she had a very bubbly, sweet, upbeat personality and obviously wanted the listing. However, if I had to do it again, I wouldn't have chosen her, because she seemed quite content, after listing the place and holding some open houses, to sit back and wait for the buyers to come. I really felt I had to push her to even consider doing a little marketing flyer and developing a list of renters the flyer might appeal to. (She never completed this.) It was obvious she hadn't done this before, which surprised me, because it seemed pretty basic to me and it even said they did this sort of thing in the Caldwell Banker brochure she gave me.

She also was unavailable many weekends when I could have used her help in doing stuff and worst of all, I felt, she never volunteered to do things that, according to my friend, the former owner of a real estate brokerage, a good realtor should do, so you don't have to. They are, after all, earning a fairly hefty commission.

Like, my friend said my realtor should have volunteered to sit at the condo for 3 hours waiting for the chimney sweep to come and do the inspection. Just one example.

Another example: When another realtor and his customer came to look at the condo, they accidentally dropped the key in a crevice and were unable to retrieve it. So my realtor called me and said can you get another key made and drop it off at the condo. Now I live in a neighboring town about 20 minutes away while my realtor lives in the town where my mother's condo is located. A day went by and i got the duplicate key made but hadn't had time, due to work, to drive down and drop it off. At this point i was getting annoyed that i was doing a lot of running around while my realtor directed me, so I emailed her and said i was unable to drop it off, could she pick it up and she said no, she was outside the area, yada yada yada. This kind of thing happened a few times where she was at a party, at a rave, there was always something she was doing.

Honestly, all she did was list the condo and hold open houses.

The other thing I didn't like is that she saw nothing wrong with dual agency when the buyer wanted to use her as her own realtor. It's legal in CT but considered controversial and every objective news source i found online advised against it.

When I said no to my realtor, she let her sales manager represent the buyer, but to me that wasn't enough degrees of separation,

Plus, if you can believe it, she sent me an email weeks later mentioning that she was at the condo with the buyer because the buyer wanted her painter to give her an estimate. She wasn't supposed to be representing the buyer and signed papers to that effect! I think this was a slip-up on her part by telling me this. I didn't say anything but I was pissed and for all I know, she could have had regular dealings with her all along despite my request there be no dual agency.

HOWEVER, she did manage to get the place sold in 3 months time and it was that sweet, bubbly personality I mentioned that likely sold it, because the young woman who came to her last open house asked her to show her a few other condos. When my realtor relayed this info via email, before i started thinking about the obvious conflicts of interest, i wrote back and said, I hope you showed her some really lousy condos! She replied and said yes, i certainly did, or something to that effect. So that buyer was naive to think she could trust my realtor even with something seemingly harmless like showing her other condos that truly represented what was available, because obviously, my realtor wanted to get her listing sold, not someone else's listing, so she showed her other listings that made my mother's place glow.

If she wasn't as personable, it might not have worked out the way it did.

So that's why I said I think I got it wrong when I picked this realtor, but it all worked out in the end.

If there's one big lesson I've learned from all of this, it's follow my own instincts. It's great to gather feedback from others, but above I described some mistakes I made along the way because I followed others' advice. There were many times when I felt overwhelmed with all that had to be done and decided upon, and so I felt a little insecure about my ability to make the right decisions. Also I had very little time to waste pondering my options.

Spendy September

September 29th, 2015 at 03:25 pm

I spent about $1900 more than I earned this month. This rarely happens. It's mainly due to my paying both my car and homeowners insurance ($1400) and my trip to Rockport ($584), plus I managed to blow $453 on food this month!! That's what happens when you shop at warehouse clubs.

On the plus side, my "mom expenses" were less than my "mom income." Expenses came to $769. I paid another installment of her property tax, her HOA fee, her pharmacy bill and the fee for the condo resale certificate. However, I made $1278 from selling her yarns, art and couch and so I reimbursed myself from those sales rather than writing myself a check from our joint checking account.

I know I don't have to do this and have been advised not to, but I want her money to last longer at Maplewood. If a year or so from now I see she's failing, mentally (and thus not really capable of enjoying the quality of life at the very expensive Maplewood), I will begin to reimburse myself from the check book, not the sale of her possessions, because it would then not matter as much if she ended up in a Title 19 nursing home a little sooner.

Preserving her nest egg as much as possible has not cost me anything to date because I've been able to sell a lot of her possessions. It's taken A LOT of time to do this and many, many sales of yarns, for instance, $20, $30 or $50 at a time, but progress has been steady and I'm proud to have held the line on these expenses whittling away at her life savings.

Today, I had another meeting with the people at the rehab place (all agreed she's doing MUCH better but needs more time to show further improvement, so we're meeting again in 2 weeks), I made a gingerbread quick bread, sold the little table lamp for $8 to a local person who picked up today, rescheduled a dentist visit for myself, talked to Medicare to inquire about the status of a denied ambulance trip claim I appealed (answer: call back when a full 60 days has passed) and posted some glittery yarns online and promptly sold them (i mean, in like 40 seconds I had a buyer) for $80 for the whole lot. (She has to wait til payday, Friday, to send payment.) I had intentionally been holding off on posting them for sale because I wanted to wait til people began thinking about the holiday season. I guess September is not too soon. Smile

I got a reply back from my cousin that not only could I bring my dad down with me when I deliver the art she bought from me, but she volunteered to come with us as we continued on to my dad's house on the Jersey shore to help us clean up, clear out or do whatever needs to be done, "because that's what family does." She's not even related to my dad, she's from my mother's side of the family, but I love her attitude, because, after living with a very fragmented family due to my parents' divorce and my sister's lifelong disinterest, family is so very, very important to me, too.

I hope i can talk my dad into letting her help us. My dad can be very stubborn. If he's smart, he'll say yes!

Phew! Last possible hurdle cleared & Next 5 big things to do

September 28th, 2015 at 06:39 pm

Great news! The realtor told me the bank's appraisal came in fine. Curious, I asked her what their number was, but she said they don't usually give a specific number, only if they feel it's overpriced.

So we're looking at a potential closing on Oct 7, 8 or 9. I can't believe this is really going to happen. The exact date doesn't really matter to me since I don't plan on being present. (I remember when I bought my house, I was so surprised when the sellers at that time also didn't show up.)

Soon, I'll be able to exhale on that score. A Really Big Exhale.

I will also have a large sum of cash deposited into my mother's checking account that I will be looking to invest. Somewhere around $128,000. The money will be totally spent in 2 years or less, so I want some fairly stable investment choices, not stock funds. I haven't given it much thought, had just assumed I'd put it in some kind of Vanguard funds, but maybe laddered CDs would be better/safer. With interest rates due to rise before the end of the year, maybe this would be a good idea. They'd have to be short-term CDs, like 6 mths or a year max. I could first exhaust the $100,000 in mom's Vanguard account. Any ideas/suggestions out there for the best thing to do with the proceeds from the house sale?

Here are some things I want to do once the closing is behind me:

1. Drive to NJ to deliver 2 pieces of art I've sold to my 2nd cousin. Collect $900.

2. Invite a weaver down from northern CT who was interested in my mother's art. (I'm not sure if maybe she's just got time on her hands and is looking for a friend, whether she wanted to merely view another weaver's work, or possibly buy something.) We had already planned a visit earlier, but I had to reschedule after my mother broke her hip.

3. Prepaid funeral. This one's a downer but everyone is telling me I should do this before I file for Title 19 Medicaid/nursing home as this is a permitted cost. I have thought about this a lot. It's going to be difficult to do, but better to do it now while i have a relatively clear head.

4. Hire an electrician. I have an outlet in the garage that's not working, and my attic lights also are not working. Did mice chew on the wires or something?

5. Drive up to a gallery about 30 minutes north of here and collect some of my mother's work that has been there way too long. I mean, I certainly don't have much room here, but at the same time I feel a little nervous having the gallery keep my mother's art for so long, especially as I don't know which or how many pieces she has. My mother is no longer capable of managing this and I want to make sure her art is safe and all accounted for. If the gallery hasn't sold it in over a year, I think it's time to take some of it back.

At the same time, I have a great deal of unframed, matted art of my mother's. I might get some prices from the gallery owner for framing a select few, either for my own enjoyment or to sell. Because without framing it, there's no way to hang it and thus it's kind of hard to sell. And over time it would much more easily damaged without a frame. I should know, as I keep stumbling into art all over the place here.

6. Help my dad with his house in NJ. My dad plans to sell his house in NJ now that he is living up here, at my sister's. I can't imagine how much work it is for him, at 82 and macular degeneration, to be trying to do this on his own, especially given that he's now living 3 hours away from the house. I have offered several times to help him and each time he (rightly) said, don't worry about it, you've got enough on your plate.

I hope he'll accept my offer to help after the closing. I can be his eyes and his legs and I have plenty of energy for a 50-something-year-old.

I was even thinking (I'd have to clear this with my cousin), of inviting my dad to join me as I deliver the art to my cousin and we'd be halfway to the Jersey shore. So after my cousin's, we'd continue south to dad's house. We'd get 2 things accomplished and save on gas.

Today I was hoping my friend at work would pay me for the art she bought ($425) but she forgot her checkbook. I know she's good for it, especially as she has already taken the art home and thus will feel more "committed," but I was anxious to get payment in hand nonetheless. Hopefully when I'm back in office again on Wednesday. She did say her husband really loved the piece too. Smile

I have someone supposedly stopping by to purchase a lamp (very cheap, but I was going to donate it) and possibly the woman who already paid for my slipper chair.

I have the big follow-up meeting with the people at Masonicare.

I want to call Medicare to learn the status of the claim they denied...the infamous 911 call my mother made becus she was constipated...It's over $600 if they deny again.

I also hope to wash some of my mother's laundry so I can bring it with me when I go to the meeting there as I'll pop in to see my mom, and I would like to post a few more yarns on the Facebook page where I've been selling.

Finally, I want to see if I can order a beautiful photo of my mother that appeared in an Litchfield County newspaper about a year ago when they did a feature story on her. It's a really great shot that captures who she is, and I could use it with PR for any future shows/exhibits the art consultant can drum up.

Today's doings

September 26th, 2015 at 05:40 pm

1. Out before 9 to load up my car with 4 or 5 small boxes of old, leaking artists' paints, turpentine and who knows what other toxic chemicals my mother used to clean her brushes and so on. I dropped them off at the household hazardous waste drop off site, an event they have just once or twice a year, so i was glad to dispose of this and make room in my garage again.

2. Back to the condo. Buyer doesn't want the shelves there so with my little power screwdriver, I made quick work of taking down shelves in two rooms and a picture hanging system my mom had in lower level. The shelving brackets and screws I'll drop off at the landfill for metal recycling but I'll keep the picture hanging system. Someday, when I move into my little condo, I'll put these up on 2 walls of my office, maybe, and hang lots of art there. It saves you from putting lots of holes in the walls.

While there I STILL managed to stuff my car with odds and ends. I really AM getting to almost totally clearing out the condo.

3. The tears came on the way home. Each time I go to the condo there's less and less of my mom there. I have literally stripped away every remnant of her old life, and she can never return to it again. Does that sound like guilt? Yes. It's there, even as I know that letting her continue to live alone with worsening Alzheimers was like waiting for a really scary shoe to drop.

On the way home I stopped at assisted living place and left payment. So I'm paying over $5,000 and my mother's not even there, but what can I do? The goal is to get her back to Maplewood asap. It will be a few weeks. Money down the drain. The alternative would be to pay the same (or more) money to a nursing home, which would offer much less quality of life.

I'll keep my mother living at Maplewood for as long as her money lasts her, while she can still enjoy it. I am guessing that if she is well enough to return to Maplewood in a few weeks, they are going to escalate her to "Level 1" level of care, because she'll need assistance with daily tasks of living and so on. I believe it's a $1200 monthly bump-up in price for each of several levels of care. Luckily, I had negotiated a 1-year reprieve from paying Level 1 once my mother progressed to that stage. Once I do have to start paying it, it will just accelerate the draining of her savings.

I have a feeling my mother's life will never be the same again. She hasn't made much progress yet with physical rehab though she seems to be healing fine. She had a number of medical issues that interfered with her being able to start the rehab sooner, like a UTI and issues with pain from the surgery. So she lay in bed for a week at the hospital, and sat around in a wheelchair mostly for another full week at the rehab place, often delusional and completely out of it.

I had a meeting with the folks there last Thursday and we agreed to delay finalizing any rehab plan until Tuesday, so they'd have more time to assess what they think she's really capable of. I'm afraid all this sitting around has further weakened her so that when she does finally does begin the rehab in earnest, she'll be starting from an even lower level and have a real uphill battle. With the dementia, you can't really even emphasize how important it is that she focus on the rehab exercises and all.

It's just all so sad. I know this is what often happens to elderly people, and eventually, they die, but it's been very painful to watch my mother, who, while she has dementia, was in pretty darn good shape physically just 3 weeks ago. Now she's not supposed to stand up without assistance.

4. Came home and slowly unloaded everything from the car into the basement and garage. Sorted through what I was taking to the landfill and left that in the car.

5. Changed the hummingbird sugar water. Haven't seen a hummer lately; they may have already left for the season.

6. Made a double batch of my granola.

7. Watered all my potted outdoor plants.

8. Packed up the latest shipment of roving for a NY buyer who has bought all my previous roving. USPS will pick up from my doorstep on Monday.

9. I dragged a 36" round glass tabletop sitting in my garage and brought it into dining room on top of a new rattan luggage rack I bought at Bed Bath & Beyond. Cleaned it up. Looks good. I piled it full of my wool yarns. By consolidating my yarns and bringing more into the dining room, I was able to clear a folding table that was filled with yarns in my family room.

I dragged the folding table up to the attic where it can be put to good use tidying up there. (The attic needs attention too.) But now, at least, there is more room to move around in the family room.

Which is important as I am donating my couch in another week or so to Make a Home Foundation and I'll have to clear a path through there. I'm really tired of that couch but don't plan to buy a replacement right away. Cus it would just be another piece of furniture I'd worry the cats would be scratching.

Once it's gone, there'll be more room to stack my mother's art against the walls as I very slowly dispose of it.

I'm also selling for $25 a gold slipper chair I bought years ago. When it was delivered I immediately didn't like the color or fabric but didn't want to have to return it, so I've lived with it all these years. It's a thin chenille type fabric and after I sold it (the woman still hasn't picked it up) I noticed what could have been cat spit-up (clear). So i dabbed the spot with a damp paper towel and then let it dry, and now there's a noticeable mark on it just from my dabbing it! I hope she still takes it. I'll be glad to see that thing go. Another scratching post taking up space.

10. Ran down to the organic farm and bought some fresh tomatoes, potatoes, apples and a dozen eggs, which technically isn't vegan.

11. Posted some red bricks for sale on Facebook. I have about 300 that I dug up from north side of house where I had a little walkway but it's completely overgrown and all I want there is grass. I took pix of the bricks (2 types) and a guy said when could he come over to see them. They're bricks, man! A brick is a brick! .25 each. It occurred to me that he could come here to "see" the bricks and then decide he didn't want them, but come back later when I wasn't home and just take them from the driveway. I would like to sell them, becus .25 a piece doesn't sound like much but x 300 it's $75.

Anyway, I felt it was a pretty productive day. So glad I was able to get all the shelving down at the condo. I was also going to spackle all the holes, but darned if I didn't leave the joint compound in my garage this morning when I left. Will have to do it later.

All that's left to do with the handyman is move the bed/headboard, sewing cabinet, a small particleboard cabinet and 2 large boxes of poster board or something. THAT'S IT. I'm tired.

Tomorrow will visit mom, get gas and get groceries, probably at BJs. Would be great to squeeze in some yard work.

The spending creep

September 25th, 2015 at 06:00 pm

It really is true that as you earn more, you spend more. I try my best to resist that tendency unless there's a really good reason.

After years of being a tightwad with my landline phone and Internet bill (I'm currently paying $57/mth) I decided to double my Internet speed for another $10 a month. Mainly because I'm now working at home twice a week and there are many times my work-issued laptop is very, very slow. The IT guy at work explained why; it taps into my home broadband, which is just 6 mb. Hopefully I'll see some improvement at 12 mg. There are times when all I'm trying to do is access a certain Word document in a subfolder on a shared drive, and I have to wait about 4 minutes just to drill down one level.

The rep also said I should see reduced "buffering" when I'm watching a movie. That would also be greatly appreciated. So we'll try out the faster speed and see if it's worth the extra $10 a month. I wince to think my total monthly bill will be about $69, although I know there are many people who pay $100 or more for cable/phone/Internet or some combination thereof.

Today I sold a 2nd piece of my mom's art to a coworker and friend for $425! I had emailed her a bunch of seashore-inspired pieces, she picked out these two, and i brought them into work in the trunk of my car. On our lunch break, we walked out to look at them and she really liked Bedlam at Sea. (So do I, but I have to part with some of them.) She took it home tonight and will have a check for me next week.

My mother would be happy. I'm actually doing better selling my mom's art than the 2 galleries who now have her work.

I really do appreciate these sales since I think my friends did this yes, becus they liked the art, but also becus they felt they were helping me out. And there are only so many people I know who will do that. I don't anticipate all my art sales to go so easily when they're being marketed to strangers.

Tomorrow morning I'm dropping off several boxes of old paints, turpentine and other toxic chemicals my mother used with her art at the household hazardous waste drop off. I'll be glad to get this out of my garage, making room for my car to fit in again over the coming winter.

After that it's back to her condo once more. I have a lot more work to do now that the buyer has said she doesn't want any of the existing shelving in there. There is shelving in 3 locations:
1. Her studio. The kind with vertical metal brackets and shelf supports. Got most of it down except for what's attached by 2 stuck screws. Will see if I have any WD40 to loosen them up.

2. Her lower level studio. This will be a real pain. This isn't shelving, but is a fairly expensive picture hanging system. It's basically some aluminum brackets installed horizontally going around all 4 walls, high up on the wall and close to the ceiling. From here she hung these vertical bars that slide along the brackets and allowed you to hang paintings and re-position them if you wanted, without putting any holes in the wall. It's meant for use by artists, primarily. It will be a pain unscrewing everything and then by right i should spackle over the holes. I hope I can do this all myself. I might as well keep all this myself and maybe someday when i move to a condo i can put these up in one room and hang lots of art.

3. The storage room off the lower level studio has more shelving. I'd forgotten about these. All will have to come down.

There is still stuff to move out with my handyman (I know you're getting tired of hearing about this) but at least the couch is sold and my dad helped me remove all the over-sized, unframed art last night. Then we had dinner at the diner.

Outside of those must-dos, it is just the usual chores this weekend, like filling the car gas tank, grocery shopping, hopefully doing some yardwork, making granola and of course, visiting mom.

I had a productive conversation with the owner of a contracting firm I'd used to install new slider doors in my mother's condo before I put it on the market. I gave them a "C" and went into great detail about things I wasn't happy about. NOthing to do with the install, but more with their back office operations.

Anyway, this guy had tried calling me several times after reading my Angie's List review, but becus numbskull here (me) didn't know how to retrieve messages from her smart phone (there's no manual!) I didn't actually listen to his message until last week.

I called him back and we had a good talk. He said my review led to some internal conversations there that caused them to make a decision to end their practice of only refunding half the $175 fee for giving estimates. This was just one of my issues with them. I reasoned that if their goal was to reduce the number of people asking for estimates and then not giving them the work (basically wasting their time), they would still achieve that goal if they gave a full refund of the estimate IF they got the job. He agreed. However, when I then asked for a refund of the other half of the $175 I had to pay, he said he would give me a credit in that amount on the next job I gave them. I was a little miffed about that, but felt good that I got them to change their policy. And he was not at all defensive about talking to me, which most people would be. He was very professional so I give him credit. He did seem to sincerely want to making his company better.

Tonight I updated my review to report all this but I'm not sure I would use him again because I don't want to waste $175 if I got an estimate and then went with someone else. I mean, the whole idea of getting an estimate is you get 2 or 3 of them and then decide. If I wanted to ensure I wasn't throwing away $175 by going to this same guy, I'd have to not care what his price came in at. 99.9% of companies today don't charge for estimates so IMO this does not help their company.

In Patient Saver's world...

September 22nd, 2015 at 04:34 pm

Went for a walk around the block after dinner, then reversed direction and headed home again. It takes about 25 minutes. One neighbor has a large new shed. Another neighbor was mowing the lawn and waved to me. I walked by another house and could have sworn I smelled pot. Passed another house and admired their newish solar panels on the roof. Saw another neighbor who had the house on the market a long time had cut down 2 massive trees blocking the view of the house. Now it looks very bare.

Today I did a small load of my mother's laundry. I brought up a small Rubbermaid folding table that had been in the garage and put it in my office to help me better organize all the piles of paper related to my mother (her taxes, her condo, her medical bills, her Social Security stuff and on and on). I had all the piles on the floor, and they were getting really dusty. It was impossible to vacuum around them. Now I've stored all the US Post Office Priority Mail boxes underneath the table, the ones I use for shipping yarns I sell. They take up a lot of space because I need boxes of all sizes and it's very helpful to have one of each assembled (not flat) so I can assess its size more quickly.

I posted a few more batches of roving for sale. Have gotten a lot of "likes" but no takers yet. Sometimes they need to percolate a bit.

I got a very nice note back from the director of the town's parks and recreation commission after I emailed her about how much the walking trails enhance my life, especially now. She said I made her day and promised to look into all of my suggestions which were to 1) cut back the bittersweet choking the apple tree around the bend after the ambulance building, 2) put up some bluebird boxes on the posts surrounding the fenced in Victory Garden (perfect habitat) and 3) she liked my tip about an easy way to get rid of magic marker graffiti on metal trash bins: rub with toothpaste. Works like magic. Smile

I have to admit that I am very good at complaining about things, because I believe bad service or bad products should be called out. At the same time, I also believe in praising people when something's done right.

For instance, I recently stopped in at a nice little lunch place on my work break. I've been there a few times before. They have great food and the staff is very pleasant. After the young lady took my order, I stood there watching as she went to the cash register to ring up another customer. I noticed she was wearing those clear plastic gloves on her hands as she punched up the register and handled dirty money. Somehow, just seeing someone wearing those gloves makes you feel things are more sanitary.

Then she walked toward where a young man was making sandwiches, and she picked up 2 wraps he'd just made from the cutting board and put them on a small electric grill they were using...with the same dirty gloves! Then she went back to the register.

I waited a few more minutes and then decided to gently suggest to her that she might want to change her gloves when she goes from the register to touching customers' food. She smiled sweetly at me and said oh, I went in back to wash my hands. Not! I was watching her the whole time! She didn't go anywhere. Lying just makes it worse.

Called my mother's cardiologist's office for the 2nd day and for the 2nd time no nurse has returned my call. I've called the rehab place 4 times this afternoon and evening and it just rings and rings.

The ups and downs of my Monday

September 21st, 2015 at 06:15 pm

Today was my day off.

This morning I headed out to run some errands. First up, Staples, to use a $2 rewards coupon on some more shipping tape. I'm going through a lot of it selling these yarns on Facebook. (I made another $50 tonight.) I found some tape on sale for $2, so it was free.

Then I went to my mother's bank to do a test balance inquiry on her new checking account and it correctly showed a balance of $50. I'm thinking now that it may be better to keep both checking accounts open and not close the old one. This new one would be solely dedicated to accepting her Social Security checks and nothing else. The original joint checking account I would keep to pay anything else.

I had originally thought it simpler to close the current joint checking account and keep the new one which the Social Security Administration required I open, but now I'm thinking that since they're going to require me to complete an annual form accounting for all spending of her SS money that it would better not to commingle other money with her Social Security checks. I'll be transferring money from her brokerage accounts to checking every month, and paying medical bills and who knows what else. I don't want the federal govt to question any of my expense paying, which they shouldn't, since they're all legitimate expenses, but with the dedicated SS account I can clearly and simply say that 100% of the money is used for one thing only: her rent at Maplewood. It will mean I have to write 2 checks since her $958 monthly SS checks don't cover the roughly $5800 monthly rent at Maplewood, but I don't think that's a big deal.

After the bank, I went to Costco. I just refuse to go on a weekend anymore because it's so darn crowded. Even on a Monday, they're pretty busy. Somehow I spent $156.

Unfortunately, my mother is not doing well at all. She was doing very well when i saw her Saturday, but the geriatric psychiatrist there called me today to tell me she hadn't been eating or drinking today and was really out of it.

So, a few hours after I got home from food shopping, I went over there, thinking maybe I could get her to eat, but she was nearly totally unresponsive, sitting in a wheelchair with her eyes closed the whole time. I know she was somewhat aware, because, as I kept talking to her to try to elicit a reaction, I said, do you still love me? And she said Of course, without opening her eyes. And she was gripping my hand pretty tightly.

It's all very hard to see. They found she has a urinary tract infection. If you know anything about UTIs in the elderly, you know they can really disorient someone. I had been warned about this by a friend whose mother in law had Alzheimers.

So it may take a few days to see improvement in my mom until the antibiotics take effect, but what about her not drinking/eating? She may have to get fluids intravenously.

It's been so up and down this past week. I can have a really good visit with her like I did on Saturday, and then something like this today.

After I saw my mother, I went for another walk at my favorite walking trail. It was such a beautiful day. Those woods are my church, and the trees there are the steeples. It was so wonderful to breathe deeply, watch the dragonflies flit over the goldenrod in the sunshine and open meadows and find solace in those fields.

Sold more yarn

September 20th, 2015 at 04:20 pm

A local woman and her daughter, both beginning weavers, stopped by late this afternoon and spent $151 on yarns. Progress.

Went to the arts festival this morning. I enjoyed walking around, but didn't buy a single thing. Stopped in at the pottery booth, where I'd been last year, and was disappointed to see much the same stuff as they had last year!

After that, I went for a walk.

Did some weeding in the back patio but more needs to be done. Maybe tomorrow, as I'm off from work. Smile

The weather was GORGEOUS today.

Oh, I also made a split pea soup with parsnips, celery and carrots. As soon as it gets a tiny bit cool, I start having a craving for it.

Tomorrow's my day off. The main thing I want to do i hit Costco. Finding interesting and tasty vegan food is always a challenge, especially if you have no time for cooking, so I'd like to see if they have anything interesting to eat.

I also lately have been feeling like i have nothing to wear but I was just at Macy's about 3 weeks ago.

Good neighbors are the best

September 19th, 2015 at 05:26 pm

I wrote that title intending to talk about my mother's neighbors, but really, I have met so many kind and caring people since my mother's challenges began last spring.

This morning I ran out to get to my mother's bank before it closed, and spent quite a lot of time there as the woman retitled mom's checking account the way Social Security Administration wants.

Then I ran to her condo where they were handing out the parking permits at the clubhouse so i could explain why I hadn't picked up the permit....the car has been sold and the place is under contract. The women there knew my mother and were very nice about it.

Then on to her condo to take down some wall shelving that the buyer doesn't want. I also dismantled some shades that my mother had made herself, including the bracket systems.

On the way home I stopped at Maplewood to pay the October bill, and I had to leave a note for the accounting manager because once again, the bill was wrong. They were billing me for the phone, which I had confirmed with the director would be removed since my mother had trouble with it anyway, and they also failed to provide a receipt for an outing to Friendly's, which we agreed a month ago they would do; otherwise, I have no way of documenting whether she did go on various outings or not.

When I came home I was so tired and I lay down for a while, then made myself get up so I could get over to see her before it got too late. I arrived just in time to see my mother's condo neighbors there visiting with her.

They are such good people and visited her regularly at Maplewood and now at Masonicare. Both college professors in their 60s (he retired, her not) they treat her as if she were their own mother.

I don't feel I've adequately conveyed my appreciation but I happen to think they're wonderful. Maybe partly because they help fill in the void created by the absence of my sister. They lived 2 doors down from my mother and I've seen them often this summer as I'm at the condo nearly every weekend doing something.

Even the woman at the bank who was helping me get the account straight was very understanding, and as often happens, she told her own story of what happened with her mother. When I left, she took my hand in both of hers, and wished me well.

It's been so warm here I thought my mother would enjoy a trip down to the pond on the property of Masonicare. I wheeled her down there in her wheelchair. She can stand with assistance, but certainly not walking yet.

As soon as we got down there, she said she had to go to the bathroom, so we made a very quick loop around the small pond and came back up. I had hoped we could sit and relax down there as she does love looking at nature.

I sat with her while she ate her dinner; apparently it was the first time in the community dining room. She's been there a week now and I didn't like the idea of her having to eat alone, which they had done at least a few times because, when the pain started bothering her she would start tearing off her clothes. Pain + dementia = not good.

But tonight she was doing well and definitely enjoyed talking with other residents there; I'm not sure any of them are dementia patients, and that's why I chose this room over another room, because these are all rehab people, not dementia people. Some, sadly, are there for the long term.

We met a woman, probably in her 60s, who was definitely all there mentally but in a wheelchair. She told me she'd had a stroke and could not walk, and she lifted her arm to show me her hand, all curled up. She said she was there "long term." I felt very sad for her. She looked like someone you might see at the garden club. I guess she was widowed or divorced, and her family was unable to care for her, so this is where she ended up. But she wasn't depressed, and I appreciated her conversing with my mother, as did another rather outspoken woman who also seemed to be a long-timer.

I am just so grateful for the many kind, caring, understanding and compassionate people out there. It's possible I've never really experienced thta before because I've never really faced this kind of crisis. I will talk about it to anyone around. It was definitely a crisis when I've had issues with the MS in the past, but the MS was something I mostly tried to hide from others, partly because I didn't want it to jeopardize my job, and so I lost out on a lot of support I could have gotten from others had I shared it more than I did. It's so much easier to bear when others are there for you.

Sold the couch tonight

September 18th, 2015 at 06:49 pm

Right after work I drove over to the condo to meet the painter who wanted to buy the couch. He arrived with a buddy and after paying me $250 cash, they moved it out, not without some trouble. But they got a pretty good bargain.

I priced it very low as I wanted to make sure it would sell quickly. It put some cash in my pocket but it made me feel a little sad to see yet another piece of my mother's life go away forever.

Due to my hard work selling her stuff, I've managed to only be out of pocket $263 to date since moving my mother to assisted living 3.5 months ago. Some of these expenses were related to keeping her condo going and some related to her healthcare and all sorts of other things. I keep whittling away at expenses by continuing to sell yarns on Facebook and locally, so they never build up so much. And in August I started picking up all her expenses (still reimbursing myself from yarn sales) except her rent at Maplewood, so as not to deplete her savings faster than I'd projected.

While I was there at the condo I took what I think was the last of my mother's paintings on the main level. I'll go back tomorrow morning as I am a little curious to check out the complex-wide tag sale and I can pick up the parking sticker for my mother's car, which I sold months ago. Dumb, huh? I got a notice in the mail that if I don't pick it up i'll get fined cus they don't want anyone parking there without a sticker. It's no use calling and telling them I'm in the process of selling the place. It'll just be easier to pick it up while I'm there so they shut up about it.

I have to take down some shelving which will probably leave holes in the walls, so I'll bring some spackling with me to fill the holes. I might as well take the drawers out of the sewing machine so when i move it with the handyman, possibly next weekend, it'll be a little lighter for the 2 of us to handle.

So what's left to move with the handyman?
1. The bed and frame - will have to pay a small fee to drop it at the landfill
2. Headboard - it goes with my mother's bedroom set and is probably 50 years old but i always liked it so will move to my house. She can't use it as i bought her a new twin bed at Maplewood when she moved in.
3. sewing machine cabinet - to my house, god knows where it will go
4. medium sized cedar chest - also very old - i think i will keep
5. particleboard cabinet to Goodwill or trash
6. 2 small chairs
That's it for the main level!

Downstairs, there are still a few heavy boxes of stuff i'm not sure whether to toss or donate or recycle or keep.. and 2 heavy large tables to goodwill or trash.

It seems like the moving of stuff and the trips back and forth to her condo has just been going on FOREVER. I'm in my 50s and this is getting old. Even though I moved most of the stuff out before I put it on the market in mid-June. I'm still traveling back and forth (a 15 or 20-minute ride), and have nearly every weekend since May.

But soon, I think it will really happen. The place will sell. Buyer's already got her painter lined up, so she's committed. I'm a teensy bit worried about the bank's appraisal. In 3 weeks' time, I can put this part of the saga behind me forever and focus on other things. It's taken up so much of my time.

I'm pretty tired tonight. didn't have dinner, just some orange juice and red grapes. I have off on MOnday (yeah) and want to go to Costco as I NEVER go there otherwise due to the insane weekend crowds. My mother had a membership which will expire at some point so I'd like to use it at least a few times before it does as i won't renew becus i'm already with the far less crowded BJs.

Tried to close a brand new credit card (EMV) Amazon mailed my mother (and it was forwarded to me) but they required the POA document in the mail and it's jut too much hassle right now. No time. I'll just let it lapse due to inactivity. It's not my preference, cus it still leaves the card open to fraud, but they make it too damn difficult.

On Sunday I hope to go to the arts festival in town and have invited a friend to join me. One of the weavers I met thru yarn sales will be doing some kind of workshop there and she very kindly invited me to come.

Oh my gosh, so much done today

September 17th, 2015 at 01:21 pm

Wow, my work at home day flew by. Amazed how much I got done, and so appreciative to have work at home days because I could NEVER get all this done if I had to be at the office.

1. Talked to staff at my mother's rehab place at least 3 times today about her upcoming doc appointments, scheduling the Plan of Care meeting, talked about how she's doing and a few other things.

2. Learned from my realtor that the person who will paint my mother's condo for the buyer is interested in buying the couch from me, we connected over the phone and have agreed to meet at the condo tomorrow night after work so he can pay me to hold it. He can then move it out of there in the next few weeks. I need and want him to pay asap as I'll need to cancel all the alerts I put out on local FB pages telling people about the sale of the couch on Saturday at a complex-wide tag sale. That tag sale would be my best shot at selling it quickly so I want to make sure I have the cash in hand before doing all that.

3. Briefly talked to my attorney and printed, signed, scanned and returned to him documentation that I'm giving the buyer a $600 credit for the plumbing issue in the shower.

4. Sold yarns to 2 different Facebook buyers for a net profit of about $60; another sale may be pending.

5 Also received payment from someone who wants to buy a slipper chair I no longer want, had tried to sell before but was unable to. When you price something at $25, it moves.

6. On my lunch break I ran over to the spa in town where my mother's artwork has been hung and took a bunch of photos to show my mom. It looks great!

7. I got confirmation from Social Security in the mail today that I've been named payee of my mother's SS checks so now I have to go to the bank on Saturday where she has a checking acct (my name's already on it as joint owner but SSA requires making me payee if I want my mom's Medicare statements/bills coming to me) and when i go to bank they have to make it a specially designated account; then I have to give account info to SSA local office. A lot of running around for such a simple thing but I can see why they do this.

8. Did a load of my mother's dirty laundry that I'd picked up 2 days ago and hung it out to dry, then ironed and packed it so I can bring it over tonight when I see her after work.

9. Made a bunch of phone calls to area animal shelters looking for a shelter from which my dad could adopt 2 cats. He would like to let them out during the day and keep them in at night, but most shelters around here adopt to only indoor-only families due to coyotes, etc, so my dad said he will wait til he learns thru the grapevine that someone has kittens.

10. Talked to condo property mgmt company to finalize paperwork needed to get a resale certificate and pay their enormous fee for doing so ($131 for processing).

11. Tried to cancel a new EMV credit card i got in the mail from Amazon, but they required the POA paperwork in snail mail since I couldn't put m y mother on the phone and I just don't have the time to do it, so i told them i was cutting up the card and the account would be inactive. Trying to do the right thing and close the card but credit card companies make this very inefficient and hard to do. I probably should have just pretended to be my mother and it would have been much easier.

Next up: The couch

September 15th, 2015 at 09:02 am

We seem to have taken care of the electrical outlet, the water shut-off valve and the chimney issue, as far as the condo buyer is concerned.

They are moving ahead with the mortgage underwriting and will schedule the bank appraisal shortly. Let's cross our fingers appraisal doesn't come in under the sell price.

So I've begun moving out a few things I still had in the condo for staging purposes. I took some art and kitchen towels and so on last weekend and will do one more trip by myself of the smaller stuff I can manage before getting my handyman to help with the few big items. Mainly, the couch, sewing machine, bed with headboard, and 2 tables down below.

I was counting on the buyer taking the leather couch, excellent condition, off my hands for $250 so I wouldn't have to move it out of there, but the buyer already has furniture.

So I've posted it on Facebook and as it turns out, the condo complex is having its annual tag sale this Saturday. I've registered for the event and have created a sign I'll stick in front of unit. I'm willing to stick around (I think) from 9 a.m. to noon that day to show anyone who wants to see it. The organizer said the tag sale runs til 3 but most people are out looking in the morning. She said someone last year was moving and sold the entire contents of their condo in this sale so it's worth my sticking around. I've priced it to sell becus i need it moved out quickly.

My realtor also said she will tell her 2 sons about it and see if they'd be interested.

If I can sell that couch, that would mean I wouldn't have to pay a second person to help move the couch out with my handyman, because I think it's too heavy for me to lift and carry.

So if I can't sell it, I will just have my handyman and helper move it to my house. I have an old couch I bought used for $500 20 years ago and I don't like the colors. (I'm not crazy about dark brown leather either, although I have a chair and ottoman in the same brown leather it would match well.)

So to ensure I have the room to move the leather couch here, I've already scheduled to have my old couch picked up by Make a Home Foundation and I have to donate $25 for that. It's too bad that the old couch isn't leaving til end of September. I suppose I could delay the move of the leather couch til the weekend following the day Make a Home picks up my old couch, although being a nervous Nellie I'd like to do it next weekend, as the closing is supposed to be mid-October. Maybe I will FORCE myself to wait on the leather couch move, giving me more time to sell it as well, and if we do have to move it, they will have the room in my family room to move it into.

As it is, I'll have to clear out all my mother's art and yarns to make room for the old couch to go and the new one to come in. So much work. But anyway, we ARE making progress.

As for the other things:

Sewing machine cabinet: I had posted this for sale and lowered the price to $80, but got annoyed when someone offered even less. My grandfather made it and it's too nice a cabinet so i decided I would keep it and have my handyman/carpenter cut a piece of wood that would fit where the hole for the sewing machine is, and use it as a desk. I could then put a large desktop calendar over the spot so you don't see the different kind of wood.

Bed: Mattress and frame will have to go to the dump, I'm afraid, and they will probably charge me something to drop it there. Frown

Headboard: It's very old but i always liked it, so i will grab it. It's sort of like a wood cabinet with 2 sliding wood doors where you can store books or whatever. Always liked it tho it is beat up somewhat.

Two large tables: the legs come off it so just means lugging maybe to goodwill if they'll take it. I think that's about it.


September 13th, 2015 at 05:26 pm

I can't always say I got everything done that I wanted to in a day. I did today...except relax, that is.

A local weaver returned for a second time and spent another $40 on yarns...

After that, I typed up a price list for the art show and kept exchanging emails with the art consultant, who was peppering me with questions like, did you ever find this particular piece of art? Or, we need something tall and narrow....and so on...

I finished packing up some extra large sized pieces in bubble wrap. All the bubble wrapping is very time-consuming.

I did some grocery shopping and tried to clean up around here. So much stuff I can't walk around. I spent some time doing what I should have done months ago but didn't have time to do, hang a bunch of my mother's work, the stuff I'm keeping, on the walls of my spare bedroom and upstairs hallway. Everything was getting very dusty leaning against the walls on the floor, and with the cat hair and all, it was hard to vacuum.

I have some larger, heavier pieces I don't want to hang, though because I'm not sure how to use one of those sink screw things or whatever you call them.

AT 3:30 pm, together with art consultant'shusband and 2 teenagers of unknown origins, we schlepped all 34 pieces in their SUV and my car. Then we brought into the spa and I unwrapped most of them and made sure every piece was labeled on the back while she dealt with the artist who was departing with his work. (He didn't sell anything.)

Then the two of us sat down and reviewed the prices. We changed a number of them, but she is very easy to work with.

After that, I stopped to see my mother at the rehab place. At least she was sitting up in a wheelchair in a TV room by herself, looking at ad circulars. She is still quite out of it but at least she seems calm, not upset. I met another nurse (or nursing assistant, I never know what they are) who I really liked because she seemed very commonsense and agreed with me my mother shouldn't be laying around in bed so much. She mentioned my mother is in a great deal of pain when they move her and she is trying to get Percoset, which she had been on at the hospital but which they didn't have authority to give her at rehab.

I stayed an hour and will see her again on Tuesday, my next work at home day, right after work ends at 5 p.m.

My realtor gave me the ridiculous estimate from the plumber to replace out the 3 pieces of hardware in the shower: the showerhead, tub faucet and handle to control temperature. Because the handle to control temperature is loose inside the wall, it would mean going inside the wall to secure it, according to what the realtor was told. His estimate? $600, which she said includes taping the wall back up and the cost of the hardware though I don't think he mentioned the hardware as part of the estimate. So $700 more likely, as I priced out perfectly good hardware sets at $100.

After seeing my mother I was able to squeeze in a walk but shortly after I started, it began to rain, so I had to end it earlier. Still worth it.

Had time to make my lunch for tomorrow.

Pricing mom's art for the show

September 12th, 2015 at 05:47 pm

On the eve of my delivery of 30 pieces of my mother's art (all sizes) to the spa where they will be exhibited for a month, I am grappling with pricing.

I had worked out some preliminary pricing and emailed them to the art consultant for feedback, and she said they looked fine, but then the other day I finally discovered my mother's price list, and I saw that many of my prices were much lower than what she had them priced at.

I'm trying to balance honoring what my mother believed was their value against wanting to sell something at this show. It will be a little dispiriting if I wind up having to take back 30 pieces of art which I have no room for. Each one must be individually packaged in bubblewrap so it doesn't get damaged. It's been so time-consuming to prepare for.

However, I am emotionally attached to many of these as well.

This show will represent maybe 4 or 5 distinct style/mediums. My favorite is probably the Cosmos series, and so I decided on a 25% discount for them (the largest, Universe Unfolding, is priced at $2,525, while her Women Modeling series is not something I care for, so I lowered her prices by 50%. Most of these are much smaller and in the $125 to $145 range.

Please understand, my mother was constantly fiddling with her prices and reductions were not at all unusual. It's just that she had a lifetime to try to sell these things, and I don't.

So I tweaked prices here or there, depending on overall dimensions, complexity and how attached I am to a given piece. Smile But anyway, a woman could drive herself crazy trying to get every price exactly as she wants it, and still there's no guarantee anything will sell.

My mother was discharged from the hospital today and arrived via ambulance at the rehab place at about 3 p.m. I had arrived earlier, around 2 p.m., to unpack her clothes and put her things away. This was after I drove to Maplewood to grab more of her things to make her feel at home at Masonicare. I ran into the activities director there who told me to tell my mother they would save any art museum outings til when she returns.

I was kind of upset because they didn't have her room ready; it needed to be cleaned, and it took an hour or so before they found a housekeeper to do that. I had talked to the admissions director who knew I'd be coming before my mother to get her things in the room; apparently, she didn't tell anyone else about it.

No one really made me feel that welcome when I arrived and I was pretty much ignored as I sat glumly in a TV room waiting for the room to be cleaned and mom to arrive. Wow. What a far cry from Maplewood, where they have tasteful refreshments always available in the lobby and a team of caring, supportive staff to greet you.

Luckily, the room was cleaned right before my mother arrived.

I was expecting another stressful settling in period because that's how she was when she arrived at Maplewood last May. This time she was pretty calm and happy to see me; i think because the combination of her dementia and recovering from the hip surgery has taken a toll on her and mentally she was really out of it.

The people at Maplewood told me to give it time and that many people come back out of it.

I spent all afternoon there, reluctant to leave mom, which I did around 6 p.m. I have to say Masonicare is kind of a depressing place after you've become accustomed to Maplewood. Night and day. But again, I noticed it more than my mother did.

Luminosity, upcoming kitty adoption?

September 11th, 2015 at 05:28 pm

I finally buckled and began a one-year subscription to Luminosity, the brain games. I'd been having fun playing a limited number of games for free every week but I do have my favorites and couldn't necessarily choose them. My favorite game is Word Bubbles. Smile I think it was $60 for the year.

My mom's being moved from the hospital to the rehab place tomorrow afternoon. I'll get her room set up beforehand. I learned that the rehab place doesn't do their laundry, for some reason, so I will have to put another week's worth of clothes together for her so I'll have a clean batch to leave when I take the dirty laundry from the previous week away. Now I really feel like I'm the mother and she's the daughter. It just never seems to end. Hopefully, she won't be there for long and I was upset with the hospital because when i was there last night, they had her using the bedpan despite the fact her doctor told me they'd have her up and walking, assisted, to the bathroom almost immediately. It's not at all good to have an elderly person lying in bed nonstop,and she's been there now since Monday.

So Saturday I go to Maplewood to get more of my mother's stuff, then I set up her new room at rehab and hopefully get her settled in. I also want to go to her condo to take a few smaller things out, like some art, now that it is looking more certain the place will be sold. I will hire my handyman with his truck to take out the rest of the big stuff, maybe next weekend.

Tomorrow we should have a plumber's quote about cost of replacing the shower faucet and I'll price out a BASIC faucet at Lowes online, then offer the buyers a credit. If they want something higher end, they can pay for that themselves. My only obligation is to have something in working order.

On Monday the condo assn electrician is coming out to deal with the mystery outlet, mainly to calm buyers' concerns. It's mounted on exterior wall and is not up to code.

I've offered my mother's leather couch, in excellent condition, for just $250, just so I don't have to struggle with the handyman to get it out of there. I'm not even sure the 2 of us can do it. Realtor isn't sure she would want it as she has furniture in storage, but her mother, a quilter, has an interest in 2 large work tables my mother used and i was just going to get rid of them, so perhaps we could cobble together a barter or something. I REALLY don't want to have to move that couch. If I did, I would move it here because I could use a new couch but i would not have chosen brown.

I do already have a brown leather armchair with ottoman though, and all 3 pieces these could be enhanced with the right throw pillows/throws. I'm just tired of dark brown.

Sunday I'm schhleping 24 or so art pieces to the spa for exhibit. I thought I was all DONE but then art consultant said she really need 4 to 6 more large pieces, and she's already taken nearly all the large framed stuff. I may start looking at the rolled up tapestries and see if I could bring 1 or 2 of them.

How did my life ever get to be so busy?

Things are a little too loosy goosy with this art consultant. We haven't agreed on all the prices yet. I'm fairly flexible on prices, but I want to make sure we agree on them and document them in writing because it occurred to me if we didn't, she could sell something and then tell me she sold it for less than she really did. She seems perfectly nice, but I really don't know her.

Even though she told me that in the unlikely event of loss or theft, I assume the loss and she has no liability (in so many words) I will still itemize every piece I give her, with the prices, and have her sign it to acknowledge receipt.

I hope to squeeze in at least one walk this weekend.

My dad said recently he wants to adopt 2 cats. They would be outside during the day and in at night, but i know from experience that many privately run shelters won't let you take a cat that goes outdoors because there are so many safety issues. My dad was going to wait and try to find someone who had a cat or cats to give away, and because I would worry myself about his cats getting hit by a car, only because his apartment over my sister's barn is VERY close to a busy road where people drive too fast (although my sister has 3 acres of open space on their side of the road), I did notice a friend of mine posted on facebook about 67 cats in need of homes that were rescued from a hoarding situation and will be euthanized if homes aren't found.

So i told my dad about it and he seemed interested, although many of these cats were frightened, and I don't think he has the patience to deal with a quasi-feral cat. So we may need to more seriously consider other cats at the pound not from this particularly hoarding situation and still help them out indirectly by freeing up a bit of space at the shelter. I hope to go with him next weekend if things settle down with my mother.

The ups and downs

September 9th, 2015 at 05:48 pm

My mother was so very unhappy to be in the hospital. She got through the surgery last night and the doctor seemed quite pleased with how it went...minimal blood loss, the 3 screws he inserted held together pretty well and he didn't have to use general anesthesia, only a mild anesthesia that he described as being almost like a local anesthesia.

Still, when I spoke to my mother today on my lunch break, she was slurring her words and was still very angry and upset, saying she hated it there and that it was awful. I said several times that I was going to come see her after work and she said she didn't want me to come. I'm not sure if she understood what I was saying.

Later in the day, I noticed I had developed a sore throat, and decided not to stop by there in case I was coming down with something; i don't want to expose her to anything so soon after the surgery.

I called her again tonight and she sounded SOOOO much better, more alert and not angry. It was like night and day.

Maybe tomorrow, if I don't feel any worse, I'll go over there with a mask and gloves.

In the meantime, I stopped at mom's condo last night with a detailed letter I'd already typed up to the HOA board complaining about the whole chimney inspection and lack of response from the property management company. I'd been trying to get the mandatory inspection done since July, wasted 6 hours waiting for no-shows and now i have a buyer whom I'm sure will want this taken care of before they take ownership.

I was able to get the address in the complex of the condo HOA board president from some of my mom's neighbors that I'm friendly with.

The board president wasn't home but I left the note in her door and we talked on the phone today. She was very supportive and said my letter really got her upset because she already had issues with the chimney cleaning company they'd hired and said they don't plan to hire them again. Apparently, there are still about 50 unit owners who haven't had the inspection done.

She also said she'd call the property mgmt company about something else the buyer's inspector uncovered, a mystery electrical outlet mounted on the outside of the condo in back with a huge plug in it that went up inside the wall. It looks like it's not to code and none of the other units have this. No one seems to know what this is for but prez agreed electrician would investigate and possibly remove it.

The other thing the inspection revealed is an apparent lack of a master shut-off valve for the water. HOA prez said there is only one master shut-off switch for each building; not every unit has one. Sounds very odd, but that's the way they were built and it's another thing I have no control over.

So it looks like the only repair the buyers are going to ask me to do is the replacement of the shower hardware/knob in the master bath. It leaks, is not secure to the wall and the water only comes out thru showerhead, not the tub faucet, no doubt because it's old. I don't have time to meet a plumber over there for an estimate, so my realtor is handling this (oh wow, she's actually DOING something to earn her commission) and will let me know. What's the max it could be, $400? Plumbers are so expensive.

After stopping at the condo last night, I also stopped in at the assisted living place and quickly packed a small suitcase of clothes for my mother. I know they have teeny closets and storage at the rehab place so I packed just 4 or so changes of clothes. I can always get more later but I wanted her to have them at the rehab place. I need to run them all through the laundry tomorrow (my work at home day) so they're all ready to go by the time she's released from the hospital Friday or Saturday. I couldn't really tell if they were clean or not.

I do feel really run down as I keep having to switch from matters related to my mother to the condo sale to the art sale to who knows what next. I wouldn't be surprised if I was coming down with a cold. Haven't slept that well either. My boss at work is out this week because she has shingles.

I just got a call from my 2nd cousin. I think I am going to let her buy that large piece that she had seen and wanted when she was here. I remember saying here in an earlier post that I was somewhat reluctant to part with it and felt uncomfortable charging her for it becus she's family but didn't want to give it away either.

Well, tonight she offered $800 for it, based on its size and what she paid for something else she bought from my mother years ago. She also said she could give me her employer's UPS number for a discounted shipping rate. I'm not sure I could pack it up well enough that it wouldn't break in transit and I've had many things break via UPS/FedEx.

She already picked out a few items I gave her when she was here and she seems to want to help out with my mother's expenses through an art sale, so why not? I already have many pieces I am holding onto. I have to let some of it go and quite frankly, I'd be happy to get $800 because normally when sold through a gallery, they'd take at least 30%, so on an $800 piece my mother would normally net only $560.

I may just ask if I can hand deliver it to her in New Jersey to avoid risk of breakage. I don't want to put her out and she also has had a great deal to manage lately as her husband, who is now in a nursing home, has Parkinson's and dementia, and her cats and dog have health problems too. I don't want to burden her with feeling like she has to entertain me, but maybe I can take her out to lunch.

Back to mom: There are still a lot of uphills I see in the near term future. It remains to be seen whether my mother will recover well enough to return to the assisted living place. I have found a short term rehab place for her and she doesn't even know that's where she's headed. Short-term rehab looks just the same as a nursing home (institutional, no privacy), and I anticipate she will be very upset to find herself there.

I need to keep her spirits up through 6 or 8 weeks and continue making steady progress becus Medicare will only pay for a patient who continues to make improvements. Once they "plateau," I will have to private pay if I want to keep her in rehab.

The assisted living place has said they will waive the $400/mth medication management fee while she's in rehab, but I will still have to pay her rent. They said that "most" residents who have to go into rehab in this kind of situation return to them, and I can only hope that's the case with my mom. However, I have to watch this carefully because if for some reason my mother is clearly not doing well, holding onto her room at the assisted living place will cost me $12,000 for just 2 months. I don't want to waste that kind of money, so I'll have to make some sort of preliminary decision to hold her room...or not,...at the assisted living place within maybe 2 weeks time. I should be able to look to the physical therapists for their opinions and guidance on that score.

If worst case scenario she isn't well enough to go back, at LEAST I wouldn't have to move her again becus the rehab place has a nursing home (and an assisted living component). I'm trying to keep the moves as few as possible because you can imagine how disruptive that would for anyone. The preference is still Maplewood, where she's lived since May, but at least now I am more or less positioned to deal with all future scenarios.

My mother has a fractured hip

September 7th, 2015 at 03:24 pm

Just in case there is not enough going on right now....

My mother has a fractured hip and is scheduled for surgery tomorrow. After that, she's looking at 6 to 8 weeks of rehab, according to what the doctor told me.

We know she had 3 separate falls over as many days. Who knows, there could have been more that no one saw. The first known fall was at the hospital on Friday, when she had been brought there because she was complaining of a lot of pain on one side and was very incoherent.

The hospital did a CAT scan of her brain to rule out a mini stroke and the test for UTI came back negative. So they sent her home with an undiagnosed fractured hip!

When I saw her yesterday, she was still complaining of pain in her side but we actually walked around her floor, slowly. How I regret that now. I spoke to the nurse there about her pain and they agreed it was an issue and wanted to do an x-ray but that it might have to wait til Tuesday becus today is a holiday.

But then they called me today and said she was still in a lot of pain and with my agreement she went back to the hospital, where they finally diagnosed her problem.

My mother has osteoporosis, so why the heck wouldn't they have checked for a fracture in an 81-year-old woman?

I spoke to the doctor who said he will put 3 screws in the hip to stabilize it. She'll have to live at a rehab place which will be discussed and finalized when the hospital calls me post-surgery and sees how she is.

I had to go to my mother's condo first to turn on the fridge and the put the thermostat cover back so they could do the inspection tomorrow, but after that i went to see my mother, and i walked in just in time to see my mother fighting with and cursing 2 nurses who were trying to change bed linens she had peed on. My mother is a very soft-spoken, gentle woman, but I have found that when she is pain she turns into something very different, and it was so upsetting to see my mother in this condition. Every time they tried to move her she was in agony.

Then they left and a little while later she said she had to urinate so they came back with a bedpan and again, the cursing and the fighting with the nurses as they got it under her, and later when they removed it.

It was so very painful to see my mother like that. I was so upset myself that I yelled at the nurses. They were just trying to do their job but i would almost rather let my mother lie in pee than have to have them turn her back and forth to change the sheets under her.

Before I learned she had gone back to the hospital, I spent the better part of the day packing up 20 or so pieces of mom's art for the upcoming spa show. I knew it would take some time to bubble wrap it and some of the glass/plexiglass needed cleaning while one framed piece was lacking the wire hanger, so I spent a lot of time doing all that while writing up a list of what I was putting in the show. I'm glad I got the bulk of it done before learning about my mother, because now I can't concentrate on anything.

I have just 1 or 2 more pieces to wrap and then, once we figure out some prices, they'll be ready for drop-off next weekend.

I'm really frazzled by the time spent with my mother. I'm worried about her recovery; I've heard so much about frail, elderly people with hip fractures who never really recover from it. I'm not sure why, exactly, but maybe with so much inactivity during rehab, they just get weaker.

I don't know if Medicare will pay for all that rehab or will I have to pay for it, on top of the usual rent at her assisted living place. If she doesn't do well in rehab, i guess there's a chance she could wind up in a nursing home early, coming in first as a rehab patient where I guess you don't have to worry about getting on a waiting list becus it's being paid for by Medicare.

Once again, despite all my worries about how to make certain transitions, it looks possible that decision about how to eventually move her into a nursing home might be made for me, very prematurely. And this past spring, I'd been worrying a lot about how to get my mother to accept assisted living and her find a way to change her living situation. That decision, too, was made for me when she wound up in the hospital too many times for not very good reasons (constipation) and the hospital sort of forced my hand and wouldn't release her to go home alone.

Tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. the realtor is coming by with the sale contract I need to sign. Luckily I'm working from home tomorrow.

The fun never stops.

She's moving fast.... inspection scheduled next week

September 5th, 2015 at 04:44 pm

I just learned that my buyer has scheduled an inspection for this Tuesday. Which means I'll need to go over there on Monday and snap the thermostat cover back on so he can test the A/C and heat. I had taken it off for showings so no one fiddled with it and then left the AC running all week. People were leaving a lot of lights on, windows wide open and even the bathroom fan running.

It looks like a very cheap thermostat as there is no on/off switch. You simply press the up arrows to raise the temperature (and trigger heat) or the down arrow to lower the temperature (and trigger A/C). At least that's what I think happens.

I feel nervous about the inspection, mostly because I haven't really checked the heat/AC myself, but I don' know my mother spent quite a bit of money on repairs recently, so it should be working fine. She was having trouble with it when she was still living there, but it was because of her dementia that she got confused with the controls.

The buyer has also set a closing date of October 14. It seems to be happening very fast, but that is just as well and I don't want to delay anything although it's all making me feel so nervous. This is only the 2nd time in my life I've executed a real estate transaction.

I know I have my mother's deed,and now I'd better go find it again and put it somewhere where I can find it quickly. My realtor already has my POA paperwork.

I'm really hoping everything checks out fine becus i don't want to have to make yet more money concessions for "issues." I do now all 3 ceiling fans wobble quite a bit but from what i read online, this is a matter of tightening screws. I would think the buyer would want to replace them entirely as they're extremely dated looking.

We have a buyer for mom's condo

September 5th, 2015 at 02:27 pm

My realtor got me an offer from a young single woman for my mom's condo last night.

However, my realtor met her when she was having an open house last Sunday, and the woman didn't have a realtor. She asked MY realtor to show her a few other condos, then decided she liked ours, so she allowed my realtor to write up an offer for me to review.

This is dual agency, where a single realtor represents both buyer and seller. In some states it's illegal, but in Connecticut, you can do it if both buyer and seller agree to it.

While realtors love it, because they get double the commission, most every objective source I could find online said it was a bad idea because it's simply not possible for a realtor to represent your best interests and get you the highest and best price if they're also working for the buyer.

I mean, if you were suing someone, would you hire the same attorney as the person you're suing? Of course not.

So my realtor told me she had worked with the buyer in an email to me; then in her next email, she said, "As you know, I am now a dual agent, working for both the buyer and the seller...." She positioned it as a done deal, when actually, I have a right to decline this arrangement because it is very controversial. So this ticked me off. In fact, the brokerage is required by law to have both buyer/seller sign a form saying they agree to it. She emailed me that form with the "I consent" box checked off, along with the opening offer from the buyer. How presumptuous!

I emailed my realtor back and told her i wasn't comfortable with the arrangement and could she refer the buyer to another agent in her office. It's still not an ideal situation, as far as I'm concerned, because my agent is probably on friendly terms with coworkers in her office and they could easily exchange notes and do whatever it took to get us both to close on the deal as soon as possible.

I called a friend of mine who used to own a real estate brokerage and asked his opinion. His opinion was that dual agency was perfectly fine and no big deal. Guess I still had to disagree with that. He said, look, the dual agent has a strong incentive to close the deal. Umm, yeah. That's very different from working to ensure I get the highest and best price possible.

He also said they want the highest price too because then their commission will be higher. Well, yeah, but if you do the math, the increase in commission based on their getting you an extra $10,000 in sale price is just $500 (at 5%), while an extra $10,000 to me as the seller is a lot of money. So most realtors would opt to just sell something asap because it's not worth the extra open houses, time, delays, etc. to sell it for a higher price when they only make $500 or so more, in this scenario.

When I talked to my dad, he only focused on how much lower the buyer's opening price was compared to my list price. The difference was about $15,000 on a property that's only priced at $143,900 to begin with, after 2 price reductions. I explained to him that no one expects the seller to accept the opening offer and that you go back and forth until you arrive upon a mutually agreeable price.

Also, the list price is kind of meaningless, because the list price could be absolutely anything you want; it doesn't mean that is the true market value. The true market value is what a buyer is willing to pay, and the somewhat soft CT market showed through other recent condo sales in my mother's complex that my original price was higher than it should be as I had no offers after 2.5 months on the market.

Still, my dad was fixated on how much lower the opening offer was, and he said t was so low he just wouldn't respond, and basically walk away from that buyer. I was surprised and disappointed in his answer (as I was in my friend the former brokerage owner's answer). Again, not the best course of action, in my opinion. I mean, you at least want to try to negotiate and see where it leads you. Pride never sold a house.

So in the end, I followed my own counsel and it seemed to go okay. The buyer is a 29 year old first-time buyer, who I believe lives at home; her mother wrote the 1% deposit check and was doing the negotiating, not her daughter. She's putting down 10% or maybe 15%.

My realtor agreed without argument to dispense with the dual agency arrangement and asked if i was okay with her manager acting as the buyer's agent. I said ok, but in a way, it didn't really matter because I had at that point already decided I would not show my cards to my realtor, although of course she already knows I'm generally anxious to sell the condo cus i need the money to pay for my mother's care.

In the end, the buyer came up from her original offer by $9,500 and I came down from list price by $5,900. I did get the distinct impression my realtor's overriding concern was not letting this sale fall through and getting it under contract asap. When I had naively thought she should be primarily focused on helping me negotiate the highest price possible. So as mentioned, I made the decisions about each counter offer and didn't really ask her opinion too much.

My realtor seems to be concerned that when the buyer's mortgage bank appraises the property, my condo might come in at a value lower than the agreed upon sale price, in which case, the bank will refuse to write a mortgage and I'll be left to decide if I want to lower my price to the appraised value or not.

It's possible my realtor was just talking about the bank appraisal as a way to pressure me into settling for a lower price. I really don't know but I'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I'm satisfied with the final price although my net will be quite a bit lower after commission, attorney fee and the 1% conveyance tax in Ct. However, I did the best I could with what I had to work with, and I can't control market forces. At least I can close this door and be done with the monthly condo expenses (taxes, electric and HOA fees), with winter coming soon enough and the possibility of being stuck with an unsold condo for another 6 months at least, and 6 months worth of expenses.

So let's just hope the bank appraisal is not an issue and that the inspection goes smoothly and that no one springs additional surprise charges on me. Tomorrow she'll email me the contract which I'll need to sign.

Bits and pieces

September 4th, 2015 at 06:50 pm

It was a pretty productive day.

I touched base with art consultant who is coordinating an exhibit of my mom's work at a local spa in town. Maybe something will sell. Now I have to wrap up in bubble wrap the 20 or so more that she wants (she initially took about 6 to show the spa owner first), and then meet her at the spa two Sundays from now so she can install it next day.

The problem is that i have a friend at work who said she wants to buy something but is waiting for me to email her pix of pieces that would look good in her RI beach house. Some of these will be going in the show unless she commits to buying something before my mid-September dropoff, so I have to get off my butt and take their pix so I can email her with them.

I had a morning appt. to get a tour of the 2nd nursing home whose waiting list I want to put my mother on so she has somewhere to go in 3 years when the money runs out.

A very dreary task that needs to be done but i wasn't at all looking forward to doing it. The place was nice enough but the rooms were like any other nursing home. Depressing. They did have a nice, large courtyard completely surrounded by their buildings, and it was all landscaped with walking path, etc. And they're ready to begin a big renovation. But the woman giving me the tour was really annoying, I guess because she had a very artificial sounding way of talking to me, like she was trying hard to be overly pleasant and comforting when it was just sounding so insincere to me and then she'd say a lot of things with great emphasis that meant nothing at all. I find that I tend to react fairly quickly to people I meet for the first time and I either dislike them or I like them. Well there are a lot i guess that I could be neutral on, but I definitely am aware when there's someone I really warm up to quickly, like a local weaver who came here recently to buy yarn, or this woman at the nursing home, whom I have to say I didn't care for due to her attitude. Just be real.

I guess I'll end up doing all the paperwork to get on the wait list, although they only have 30 beds in their memory care section. I didn't really ask many questions, which I should have, but i was just feeling depressed when i tried to imagine my mother living there where everyone's in a wheelchair. When I compare this place to Masonicare, the first place i applied to, i really see no difference inside though Masonicare, like this place, had a nice outdoor space. At Masonicare, it's a nice pond with a fountain and a walking path around it, though in truth the vast majority of residents there never walk anywheres near that pond.

Both places say they have daily activities, pet therapy dogs, etc. In truth, I'm sort of hoping this will all be unnecessary. It's just so hard to contemplate.

After i was through at the nursing home, since it's in the same town where my dad is now living, i gave him a call and headed over there around mid-day. We sat around shooting the breeze on his little outdoor deck and I caught him up on my mini vacation trip, and he was also interested to hear about how I'm getting to know my 2nd cousin a little. Then we went to lunch at a diner in my hometown and after that he followed me to my house so i could give him a small night table that he thought he could use in his new place. So I spent a good part of my day with dad, more time than I felt i had, but really, since he's moved up here i haven't really seen that much of him becus all my time's been consumed by my mother's needs. So I figured I should make the time for dad.

After that I felt very tired and took a quasi nap, then got up around 4 and did some much needed weeding of my side-of-driveway perennial bed. I watered a bit becus everything is parched and then spread some mulch as well. I really need to continue with this kind of yardwork on the north and back side of the house as yardwork has been pretty much nonexistent during all this humid weather we've had. This weekend I intend to take advantage of the good weather and catch up on the yardwork in between photographing and packing up my mother's artwork.

My town has a really big parade, as it always does on Labor Day, but most years I don't go.

I didn't get a chance to get to Costco as I'd wanted to, but I did go to Trader Joe's yesterday so at least there's something to eat here. I also have a few small home improvement projects: 1) Sand, prime and repaint a piece of trim that for some reason always peels paint quickly on the large side window of my garage. It's like one of the few things that isn't covered by vinyl siding.

The other project is using stinky rubber cement (it's either that or nails) to secure a new vinyl stair tread to my basement stairs. My handyman did this a while back but as is often the case, there's always something not quite right about his work, and in this case, at least one stair tread is not firmly glued down. No use paying him to come back and finish something he should have done correctly to begin with, so I think this is something I can handle. I've been putting off doing it cus i hate having using toxic chemicals like this glue. If I use roofing nails, which handyman suggested, it'll mean a trip to hardware store so i might as well use the cement since i've still got a half can left.

Also trying to use up the largish pile of black mulch sitting in my driveway. Its purpose is to deter weeds from growing, but before i put it down i have to pull existing weeds up, and that's what takes so long. But mulch doesn't do m uch good when it's sitting in the driveway, and it needs to be gone before the first snow falls!

I was doing really well with yarn sales on this one particular yarn facebook destash site, but suddenly things have gotten very quiet and no one is responding to my posts! Have I gotten greedy with slightly higher asking prices? Or is it cus back to school time makes mom too busy? Plenty of other posts on there. Hmm, i don't know. But i continue to reach out to local people and then they offer to email their knitting group or weavers group or spinning group in the next newsletter or whatever, and then eventually i get another person here who buys some stuff.

I was very happy that the last woman here on Thursday, while she didn't spend a huge amount ($79), did buy up mostly very small wads of yarn that I wasn't sure anyone would want, and she also bought several small bags of what I would describe as balls of fabric strips, whose purpose was something of a mystery to me. The woman who bought them was very excited to work with them as fiber in her rugs. My mother didn't make rugs so I'm not sure what their original purpose was, but no matter. A few less things around here to deal with, although you can hardly tell by looking.

Back to reality

September 2nd, 2015 at 02:51 pm

I am trying hard to hold the image of that ocean view from my motel window in mind as I come back to my current reality, which for a long while hasn't seemed like too much fun.

I was scanning the current issue of Costco magazine and saw an article about author Brene Brown, who says that living a full life requires courage -- and showing courage means doing things that make us feel vulnerable. I guess in a small way, that's what my trip to Rockport was all about. I'm so glad I went and did it rather than sitting home and feeling frustrated about not going.

I did feel a certain freedom in being able to make choices based completely on my own preferences. Most often you suggest something to the person you're with, and I think without realizing it you compromise just to make things go smoothly. At the same time, the big thing that was missing was the ability to share my enjoyment with another person. Somehow when you can articulate your thoughts, say them out loud to another and get like-minded feedback, it enhances your positive experience. Alone, you have only your thoughts.

I could see myself going to Longwood Gardens in PA next spring and spending an overnight...someplace I've wanted to go to for years.

My neighbor who looked after my cats had her 2 cows get loose from the pasture up behind my house, walk down the long driveway and across the street to munch on someone's flower beds. Wish I'd seen that...too funny.

I plan to get a $50 gift card from local grocery store as a thank you to the neighbor. She insisted she wouldn't take money, but at the same time was telling me how tight money was for them since her husband lost his job. He was making well into the six figures as a toy designer, now he makes $17/hr as a bus driver. Grocery money should be helpful.

For more years than I can count, I've always kept lists of things to do. It's the only way I can make sure I get things done, or don't forget certain important items. I even keep lists of things to do on the weekends. It occurred to me today that while keeping to do lists does make one more productive, it also chops up your day into a never-ending series of chores.

One thing that was, in hindsight, refreshing during my recent stay at Rockport was that I had no list of things to do. Aside from what should I have for lunch? or Where should I walk today? I had no particular itinerary. I think it helped me slow down my pace. I guess that's what a vacation is.

Something to be said for that, though I don't think I could completely abandon my lists. It's very hard to turn it off. I think I'm Type A.

In other news, I am two-thirds of the way toward reaching my $3,000 spending target with my new Citi Thank You Premier card. Then I get $550 in gift cards, or some such thing. I also have a $250 credit earned on my AARP Chase card, which will be used up after reaching the $3,000 mark on the Citi card.

Tomorrow morning another local weaver is coming over to hopefully buy something. Word of mouth works fairly well. Later in the day I'm scheduled to visit a 2nd nursing home with a tour and getting the paperwork needed for Title 19, a dreary task that must be done. I feel I need to get on the wait list of 3 places, so this would just be the 2nd.

I also pretty much emptied out my kitchen of anything edible before I left for my trip, so tomorrow I MUST go to either Trader Joe's or Costco. Also need to make granola. See, here we go with the lists again.

My awesome vacation

September 2nd, 2015 at 11:00 am

Just back from my awesome solo vacation of 3 days and 2 nights at sunny and very warm Rockport, Massachusetts.

I made a point to email Nate and Jeff before I left to see if they could fix the photo problem here so i could post my vacation photos when I returned.

I guess they haven't done that. Frown

And I have so many great shots that really tell the story of my trip. Smile

It was a long and tiresome drive of about 3.25 hours there. No traffic, though.

The hotel on the outside looked just like the photos on their website, with a sandy (and very popular) beach directly behind it. The view from my deck was all ocean and an arcing view of the shops and other hotels lining the curving coastline.

I spent a lot of time on the deck, in the morning before heading out, and at sunset, when the lighting was a beautiful golden shade of perfect. I was captivated by how many ways people found to have fun on the beach. Men playing bocci. People walking slowly, heads down, looking for sea glass. And of course, children with balls, children with shovels and no sight of video games or cell phones. It was really fun to watch. There was one family with 5 small children, and their father was crouching down getting them to pose in a line-up about 10 feet away. After he got the shot, they all raced toward him in their bare feet, back and forth for more shots as dad seemed to want to get an action shot of children's legs in motion.

I was very tired when I arrived and flopped on the bed for a while. The room didn't look quite as nice as the website photos. I noticed with some amusement that while the brochure I got upon check-in said "Recently renovated," the bed and furniture looked very 1950s to me. No matter, I knew I was paying for the view and the location (walk to shops and beach).

The first thing I did after the bed flop was go get a late lunch, and I stumbled about the famous Roy Moore's lobster shack and got myself a $21 lobster roll. A lot of money but it was ALL lobster and so worth it.

Plus it came with a pickle and coleslaw. Again, I took a photo of my lunch because it looked so good and in fact of my 4 meals out, this was my favorite. I took it to go and walked down Pier Avenue, sitting by the Old Harbor and looking at the boats.

After that, I wandered up and down Bearskin Neck, which is lined with old fishing shacks that have been converted into gift shops. I would have gone nuts if this was 20 years ago, but I didn't buy a single thing. I figure my photographs are my souvenirs.

I did also get some great shots of kayaks on the water off Tuna Wharf. Again, would LIKE to post pics here but can't.

That night for dinner I got a hummus veggie wrap and some really great clam chowder.

Yesterday was my big walking day. I'd decided where I wanted to go looked too trafficky for bike riding, so I walked all the way from town to Halibut Point State Park. There and back was 5 miles, plus I took a detour to Andrews Point, and then walked around the old quarry at the state park, now filled with water and surrounded by sheer granite cliffs, for over an hour. By walking, I saved myself the $6 parking fee and I definitely got a lot out of the visit.

All told, yesterday, I'd say I walked about 10 miles. When I got back from the state park I collapsed in my hotel room and relaxed there for the heat of the day, but then ventured out again mid-afternoon around 3 pm for another late lunch (veggie pizza) and another long walk through another part of town. During this walk I went through a lot of residential neighborhoods and found a lot of foot paths that go along the water, behind the multi-million-dollar private homes. I imagine the homeowners aren't crazy about this loss of privacy, but it was a great way for the town to ensure public access to so much of the coastline.

For dinner I had a halibut sandwich. Just didn't feel comfortable eating alone in the restaurant.

So, really, for the 2 days I was there I mostly: walked..a lot. Had 4 good meals and enjoyed the view from my deck. This morning before I left I finally decided to explore the beach myself and get sand between my toes.

So that's it...my 1st solo vacation. It was a little wierd in that multiple times I kept thinking well, I've run out of things to do and if I want, I can head home now. I guess I was a little worried about how my cats were doing in the very humid weather we're having. But then I talked myself out of doing that because I would likely hit morning rush hour traffic or evening rush hour traffic, and then I'd decide to do another walk. If I stayed any longer, I think I would really have run out of things to do, unless I did a seal cruise or ventured into Gloucester. Can't say I really felt lonely, although a few times I wondered what else I should do with my time there.

As it was, the parking was so tight at my hotel that I was a little reluctant to take the car anywhere for fear that I wouldn't have a space when I returned. In fact when I did arrive there was some guy double-parked behind another car in a space and blocking the entrance, so I had to wait in the street until he came out.

I was glad I brought everything I needed for my breakfasts, along with a pitcher of my own iced tea, some bottled water and some fruit to snack on. It kept my costs down. I also worked a little on my adult coloring book out on the deck.

Here's a breakdown of my expenses:

Oceanfront room, 2 nights (includes MA 11% room tax, aka highway robbery): $457
4 meals, 2 daytime drinks, room tip, tolls: $75.98

And I did it all on three-quarters of a tank of gas. Smile