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Archive for October, 2016

Another cousin?

October 31st, 2016 at 04:22 pm

Never know what my family research will turn up. Last week I reached out to someone via Ancestry.com after my DNA results had indicated she was an "extremely likely" 2nd cousin.

(When I initially got the DNA results, Ancestry indicated there were about 35 people who were possible relatives. Of those, about 4 of them were ranked as "extremely likely" while the others were more distant relatives...3rd or 4th cousins... or who only had a "good" chance of being related. It's up to you to take it from there. So I contacted via Ancestry email the top 4, and this person was the only one who replied.)

I've been corresponding with her daughter ever since.

What we've got so far is this:

1. Her mother shares the same first name as one of my grandmother's sisters. She also shares the family last name of my grandmother.

2. My grandmother's family and this person's mother's family both lived in the Germantown neighborhood of Philly.

3. Her mother was born in NYC in 1944, the same year and the same general location where my great aunt moved to before giving birth. (Dad said my great aunt, who was not married and living in Philly, wanted to avoid shaming her family with an out of wedlock pregnancy, so it was arranged that she live in a back room behind a deli some friends of the family owned in NYC.)

4. Finally, we have DNA evidence.

5. Also in common is the first name of a younger brother and a sister, both of whose names came up on their end when she was trying to find her birth mother. She actually hired a company to do some research and talked on the phone with the younger brother mentioned above, who by that time resided in a nursing home.

We're wondering if this woman's mother is the daughter of my great aunt.

What still doesn't fit is that my dad told me grandma's sister KEPT the baby and later married the father, whereas the mother of the woman I connected with on Ancestry was adopted and has tried in the past to track down her parents.

If it wasn't for the DNA, I might chalk up all the other details to coincidence, but with the DNA, I'm convinced we still just haven't figured it out yet.

I have to ask Dad more questions.

In other news...
I belong to a local neighborhood Facebook page where people often ask for recommendations for one kind of service provider or another. Recently, someone was asking what local garage/car repair place they would recommend, and a lot of people raved about one particular local garage I had never tried.

So I needed an oil/filter change (and new wipers) and decided this would be a good time to try out the new place. I mean, how badly could they gouge you on lower priced services like these?

Umm, a lot, it seems. I wound up paying $61 for the oil/filter change (compare that to the $49 the Honda dealer charged me) and the wipers cost $47.

So I paid $121 for an oil change and wipers???? Yes, to my chagrin. I won't be going back there and I got my revenge by posting in detail on the same site about these charges. I could not find the special brand of "beam blade" wipers they put on, but on amazon the highest price for beam blade blades in general was $25 for a set of 2.

So I do feel gouged.

I went over to the library this afternoon to talk with the genealogist there to see if he could help me with any of my "dead ends," and well, the answer is no, he wasn't really helpful.

I got paid $175 for some freelance work I did and am expecting another check for $72 this week, along with a check for about $300 for an art sale last month.

I sent in the mini test assignment for the educational website job. I had asked her to clarify the payment becus they sent me a contract with nothing in it as to the rate. She told me the pay varies from .09 to .13 a word, which is acceptable to me. I won't really be sure how much that would come out to on an hourly basis until I do it, but for just this little mini assignment it came out to about $33/hr. I spent more time figuring out all their instructions, which I'm sure would come more easily to me with time.

Am hoping they like what I did becus I don't actually have the job yet. The editors will review the copy and make a decision from there. I don't think they're looking for Pulitzer Prize winning content, just something that's friendly and clear.

I've started watching the Mercy Street series on Amazon/PBS and it's pretty good.

Tomorrow I have a 9 am training session/Q&A with the registrars for the upcoming Election Day work. My biggest concern is getting up around 5 am.

At least I have some writing to do...

October 29th, 2016 at 01:01 pm

Friday saw a little freelance writing work coming in from 3 different areas. It sure feels good to be busy.

I finished up a smallish legal report for one client this morning and helped another last night compose some job recommendation letters. He's looking for a new job and asked 2 colleagues to write referral letters; they said they'd sign something but wanted him to write it, so now he's given it to me. Considering I've never met this client, it's a little harder to do. He gave me some idea of what traits/talents he wanted me to emphasize, but still...

Then there was something I saw on Craig's List. It was a p/t freelance writing job for an educational (K-12) website. First I had to write a "test" paper for them. I spent over an hour on it, probably more time than I needed to. I won't get paid for that but I did well enough for them to return to me, this time with another little writing assignment for which I'll earn $25. It's an intro for something and it's just a few paragraphs long.

Once I pass that little test (I hope to knock it out tomorrow as it's due Tuesday) and assuming they're happy with my writing, I can then become a regular writer for them, writing as much as 3,000 words a week. Based on the $25 payment for the mini assignment and assuming that rate holds for future assignments, they pay .10 a word, or $300 gross a week.

That actually would come out to a decent amount each month, although she did say they can't guarantee that much on a regular basis but could promise at least 3,000 words a month. So my gross would be anywhere from $300 to $1300 a month.

In any event, it seems relatively easy and I can do it at home, as long as I meet their deadlines and follow the instructions.

It's actually the kind of p/t work I envisioned for myself in retirement...something that would keep me productive and occupied but not for 40 hours weekly. I'll be curious to see what I gross. $300 a week would total $1300 monthly, which could cover half my essential monthly expenses.

I'd prefer they paid me with a W2 instead of as an independent contractor, but it would be the latter. So I'll have to keep track of time spent so that I can report to the Dept of Labor how many hours of work I spend on it each week, so they would deduct the corresponding amount from my unemployment benefits, thereby lengthening the time those benefits will last.

I've been in touch with a woman on Ancestry who the DNA results indicate is an "extremely likely" 2nd cousin of mine, on my paternal grandmother's side. Her mother was adopted but after digging around her mother learned that her birth mother's name was the same as my grandmother's maiden name, and they both grew up in the same neighborhood (Germantown) in Philadelphia. In addition, her mother's birth mother's first name is the same as one of my grandmother's sisters. I'm wondering if she had a child out of wedlock and gave it up for adoption. I have to talk to dad about this when I see him tonight for dinner.

He has already told me how another one of my grandmother's sisters did become pregnant and the family, to avoid the "shame" of this, sent their daughter to live in a little room/apt above a deli of some friends of the family in NYC. I would imagine that must've been very tough for the girl to go through the whole pregnancy alone and away from her friends and family. She did end up keeping the baby and marrying the father. So it's possible that an unplanned pregnancy may have also happened with another one of grandma's sisters, with different results.

I took an hour-long walk today but really had to push myself to leave the house.

I had another great meal, this time a free lunch, at an area restaurant for another MS lecture/meal sponsored by the drug company. I met some nice people there and we talked for some time. I went off the vegan thing and thoroughly enjoyed a sirloin steak.

I got the gadget in the mail from Safeco to track my driving habits and plugged it in the car. Once I wrack up 100 miles the online program will begin indicating me how much money I'll save on the insurance and this will continue to fluctuate for the next 3 months (thru most of January) so I plan to minimize my driving and be especially careful about quick acceleration or braking. I'll be excited to see how this plays out. I could save as much as 30% on my premium, but I'm not sure if it's only for this year or not.

Despite the horrible $836 vet bill for Luther, I was able to squeak through the month of October in the black with an extra $106 more in income than expenses.

Midway point

October 27th, 2016 at 01:05 pm

With the end of October comes something scarier than Halloween: the midway point for my unemployment benefits. This means I've gone thru 3 months of benefits and have just 3 months remaining. No doubt my anxiety level will grow as we get toward year's end.

We had our first snowfall today; it's cold and dreary, very overcast, and has been snowing on and off all day. I haven't been outside, even to get the mail.

As a result, I've done very little today. All I did was:

1. schedule an oil change and new wipers at local garage for next week

2. run the dishwasher

3 called my handyman about something I've been
wanting to get done

4. Had my last talk with the job coach my former employer paid for. I'll still have access (albeit more limited) to their online resources.

I haven't vacuumed, cleaned the bathtub or even read. Or done a hundred other things I could do. Mostly, I frittered away time online.

I want to reduce the amount off food I purchase that's contained in plastic, because BPA is not the only type of plastic harmful to human health. I already use a lot of glass containers to store food in, but there's still a lot I buy that comes in plastic. Like the cereal I like to mix with my own granola. Can't do much about that. I spent some time transferring food stored in plastic bags and put it in glass containers. I need to save more glass containers.

I organized my potentially tax-deductible job search expenses but can easily see how they won't come close to exceeding 2% of my AGI this year; it would be more likely next year becus my income could be lower. My income this year will be in the 60s, I think, so I'd have to have job search expenses in excess of $1200 in order to claim a deduction, and that just won't happen.

I turned the heat up to 64 degrees but am still wearing long underwear. It's chilly in here.

Communal liviving arrangements

October 27th, 2016 at 07:12 am

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/facts-and-arguments/as-my-friends-and-i-grow-older-were-setting-our-sights-on-communal-living/article32240746/

Does the thought of communal living in one's senior years appeal to anyone? I think it very interesting especially since even married women will likely outlive their husbands by a good many years.

Mundane details of my Wednesday

October 26th, 2016 at 04:40 pm

Today's big event was driving about 50 minutes northeast to do a one-on-one focus group concerning a new app my health insurer is working on. I earned $100.

On the way home I stopped at Shop Rite and the bank to deposit some checks.

Since temps are dipping below freezing tonight, I brought the rest of my outdoor potted plants in the garage. I should really dig up the 2nd elephant ear since when I left it in the pot a few years ago it just rotted. When I dug up the first one (actually a lot of work) there were probably a dozen little baby bulbs I broke off, but I imagine they will only produce small elephant ears.

I blew a bunch of leaves in the driveway into a corner and hopefully will collect them all and dump them in a corner of the yard tomorrow. I used the B& D blower (aka cordless sweeper), which I absolutely LOVE using. It took an otherwise time-consuming chore of sweeping the driveway...if I had to sweep the whole 85 feet it would take over an hour....with the blower it takes about 5 minutes. The only part that's still manual is picking up the leaves, dropping them in the wheelbarrow and dumping it elsewhere. I suppose I could actually just blow them halfway down the driveway and then across the lawn into brushy area.

The only tricky thing is blowing leaves off stairs. They tend to get all over the place.

This a.m. I wrapped up a job application to the employer of Liz, here at SA. I've been in email communication with a recruiter there and hope to get a phone interview next. How cool would it be to land a job through a fellow blogger here?

Today I ate: granola with almond milk, 1/2 cup fresh blackberries, 2 cups hot tea, a bowl of vegan chili, a small head of steamed broccoli, a Della cotta squash, an apple, a piece of fruit leather, a tofu ice cream sandwich, a handful of macadamia nuts, a Kashi granola bar and some spinach garlic crackers with guacamole. I'm still hungry.

I got my Right Trak car tracking gadget from Safeco Insurance. Potential to save up to 30% as a good driver. I plugged it in and as soon as I activate it by driving a little, that will trigger an email to me telling me how I can find the website where I can track my progress over the next 3 months of driving and see how much I'm saving. Oh, what fun! I will try to drive like a little old lady!

I've been spending probably too much time watching TV and on the computer. So easy to pass the hours that way. I should be getting another freelance editing project within the next 2 days.

weekend doings

October 23rd, 2016 at 01:56 pm

Yesterday dad and I headed to Jersey, about an hour-and-a-half ride. We stopped in briefly to see my half brother, and for the first time ever, I met my niece and nephew. I'm not really sure how old they are, but I think the older girl is in school. I took a cute picture of them with their dad.

After that we headed to my cousin's house. We met her 2 dogs, 3 cats and 3 parakeets. We took her out to lunch (at a place where my dad said he took my mother out to lunch when they were dating) and she and my dad had a great time reminiscing as they had both attended the same high school. Even though there is a more than 20 year age difference between them, turns out they both had many of the same teachers! My cousin's brother also remembers meeting my father when he started dating my mother.

I was able to finally deliver two pieces of my mother's art she had wanted to buy. I didn't charge her. She showed me about a half dozen other pieces of mom's art she had acquired at a local gallery, along with a photo album where she collected memorabilia and art stuff about my mom.

My cousin had been close to my grandparents because my grandfather regularly visited his brother (her father). When my grandmother died, my cousin got friendly with my mother, and they kept in touch. And it was when my mother died that I struck up a correspondence with my cousin, which now continues. She had said, too bad we hadn't been a part of each others' lives when we were younger. I agree.

We talked about doing Thanksgiving together. I had been surprised to learn that she spent the holidays alone last year. Her husband died around the time my mother passed away. She has a son in Florida, but he spends the holidays with his wife's family.

I was also alone during the holidays last year. My father went on a hunting trip Thanksgiving weekend and spent Christmas with my sister and her boyfriend. So the idea of having some family to spend it with sounded pretty great to me.

I think we both need to start some new traditions. We talked last night and I told her to think about it as I don't want to intrude if she really doesn't feel like it.

Today, after all that driving, I just relaxed around the house. I did go to BJs and fill up the gas tank, but otherwise started reading My Brilliant Friend for the next book club meeting in November.

Upcoming week:
Tomorrow I'm lunching with a friend from old job who also got laid off.

Also hope to go to the library and talk to genealogy pro about one of the things I'm stuck on.

On Wednesday I have a focus group meeting and that will be a bit of a drive, but will do it for $100.

Thursday: Bereavement group

On Friday I have another MS lecture/luncheon at a local restaurant. Hard to pass up a free lunch.

I also have another small freelance editing assignment which will probably generate $75.

I earned another quarterly $25 credit from by Bank of America Better Balance rewards card. I earn $25 every quarter; all i have to do is make one purchase each month using the card. How easy is that?

For the credit card bonus lovers...

October 21st, 2016 at 08:40 am

Here's an interesting story about how to work those cards...

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-points-guy-brian-kelly-once-you-fly-first-class-you-cant-go-back-to-coach-2016-09-15

Autumn in New England

October 21st, 2016 at 02:53 am

More pix from another walk around the center of town. Main Street is lined with historic homes and is also where you can find the library, police station, old town hall and general store.


This is actually a historic flagpole. It stands in the center of a busy intersection (most especially during rush hour and Saturday mornings) and has the distinction of having the highest accident rate in town! However, due to its being on historic Main Street in a very scenic area, the townspeople have fought prior attempts to install a traffic light there.








I used to work in the small brick building you see here for a small PR agency. My work areas was on the first floor, by the 2 windows to right of the door. It was a very small space; there were 6 of us working there (2 p/t). The bathroom was the size of an airplane bathroom. Once I was alone in the building on a winter's day and the frozen pipes burstand flooded the first floor. Buy working here was great because I could walk to work in 15 minutes, and often did, though crossing the street to get there (at the flagpole shown above) was kind of dicey, even though there was a crosswalk.


This was our old town hall, built in 1930. The town outgrew the space and now has a much larger "municipal center" in another location. This building is still used for various functions. It also houses our single screen movie theater, where they recently raised the admission price to $3 (from $2). This is where my yoga classes are, in the gym. The smaller red building at the left is the general store, where you can get a great sandwich. My dad and I were here last week.


My street

Yesterday's news....
I got a check for $20 from the Linked In class action settlement.

I went to the clinical skin product test thing yesterday and was deemed "ineligible" for the survey because the inside of my lower arms did not have even skin tone, according to the person who inspected me. So I'll just get paid $20 instead of $55. So I guess I won't go for one of their skin care product studies again, but they do other things, like focus groups and food taste testings.

Still looking for work, of course. I see very few that I could apply for. Of the copywriting jobs I see, I would be overqualified for many. There are very few where I recognize I might not be quite up to snuff as far as required qualifications they're looking for. One reason I'm seeing so few possibilities is because I've limited my search to a geographic area that would be commutable in 40 minutes or less. Because I hate driving and all that it entails (like getting up earlier and less free time).

I sent a fairly long email reply back to the Lutheran church pastor in Germany who helped me with the family tree research. He was open to continued correspondence. I just would find it very interesting. So next time I will send him some of the pix shown here, to give him an idea what my town is like. I would love it if he could do the same! Maybe even take a picture of my grandfather's old address!!



Monday stuff

October 17th, 2016 at 05:57 pm

Met my friend R. at the dog park this morning. His dog seemed to enjoy being off leash, though it's an older dog. Could not persuade R. to take a little walk with me in beautiful nearby open meadows. He told me he couldn't walk further than 100 feet. At 40, he was so rakishly handsome. Today, he is obese. So sad. He does not act motivated to improve his health.

Liberty Mutual, aka Safeco, has renewed my auto policy and has accepted my registration for "Right Trak." I should get the device in the mail in a few weeks and then I'll attach it to the car for the next 90 days, when I will attempt to drive like an angel to lower my premium. Can't wait to get started.

Dad came over this am as well. By offering to email a bunch of paperwork NJ DMV required to prove his car insurance was reinstated by The Hartford, I kept him from having to drive 4 hours there and back to do it in person. Apparently, he transposed a few letters on his auto policy number when he mailed in his renewal payment, and since that happened 3 months ago it's been nothing but repeated phone calls, hassles and headaches with both The Hartford and now DMV.

Regardless of the transposed numbers, they had his name and SS and should have been able to figure it out but they've made him jump thru hoops and he is beyond angry about it. Every time you have to call them, you talk to someone new who has no idea what you're talking about. I have tried to run interference for him and deal with the reps on the phone, but it's pretty much been the same thing anyway.

Problem was, in the long recording when you call NJ DMV, they DO provide their email address so you can email stuff to them, but unlike anywhere else I've heard email addresses spelled out in a phone call, they did NOT say "D as in David, a as in aunt," etc so they simply spelled it and i guess i heard it wrong (called twice and wrote it down) becus my email was bounced back to me. So then we were forced to go to go to local library to fax the paperwork, which cost about $5 with my credit card.

After this we went to the General Store for some very good sandwiches; we ate there. The store dates back to the 1860s.

I applied for a few (two) freelance writing jobs I found on Craig's List. I find quite a few writing jobs there; it's like a secret job source most people I know don't seem to know about.

I found this on my front steps the other day:



I unearthed some calladium and calla lily bulbs i had in pots, dried them in the sun and will overwinter them in dry peat moss in the basement. For the calla lily bulbs, it said make sure the space is at least 60 degrees, which is probably a little warmer than my basement, so may have to move them again to somewhere. Maybe a closet shelf.

I need to get a haircut and saved a $9 coupon for Great Clips. Maybe tomorrow.


Saturday stuff

October 15th, 2016 at 07:34 am

Well, I don't know why, but I've been skipping out on more and more Saturday yoga. I really like the idea of doing yoga and appreciate all of its health benefits, but I don't know, I usually wind up blowing it off.

I have been walking more. I just started a weeklong challenge (or is it 2 weeks?) that Dido is doing to see how many steps you can rack up. I've got 34,000 steps since Monday.

This week I dropped off some new art and took back some unsold art from a newer gallery I'm dealing with. It annoys me that as she carefully studies each new piece I bring, she finds it necessary to critique it, whether it's the frame,the background color or something else. ANNOYING. But she did sell one piece so far, for $325 (my net $210).

I won't get paid til the start of next month as that's how she does billing/accts payable.

In January I'll also net $2041 from the other gallery. It was my choice to be paid this way. She paid me $590 now and the rest will come next year, when my overall annual income will likely be lower since I'm not working. Thus I may fall into the 15% tax bracket instead of the 25% bracket.

Anyway, the man who bought 5 pieces came back a week later and bought 3 more. So considering that I no longer have my biggest freelance client to depend on for income, these art sales will be helpful.

I am still having to give Luther 2 meds post-teeth extraction. The pills are easy, as he swallows pill pockets whole, but the antibiotic i have to squirt in his mouth, and he doesn't like it.

Returned to BJs so they could correct a cashier error in charging me twice for a vitamin 2-pack. More and more, I dislike the whole security thing when you leave there and have to 1. Stand in line a 2nd time and 2. Wait for someone to examine your purchases. Makes me feel like a criminal. What a negative customer experience, and yet, we've all been conditioned to accept this extra layer of scrutiny as "normal." I mean, if I were going to steal something, I can't exactly hide a big box of you-name-it under my coat.

I want to try to do some outdoor chores today while the weather's still so cooperative becus i know as soon as it gets chilly it will be much harder. Just things like emptying out some pots with calla lily and elephant ear bulbs, letting them dry out in the sun for a day or two and then overwintering them in peat moss. Also, bring in other plants (I think we had a frost last night)and plant the gorgeous crimson mums I bought last week.

There IS a local craft fair which i usually can't resist. I shouldn't buy anything. Tomorrow is a Pet Expo where you can get lots of free samples.

Dinner tonight with dad.

Next week going down to Jersey with dad to deliver 2 pieces of art to my cousin. Finally! I wanted to do this last spring but didn't get the invite. She knew I wanted to come down, but maybe she didn't feel ready. Her husband died around the time my mother did. So I didn't push it. But dad asked again about it because I know he was looking forward to seeing her, so I sent her a friendly email and that we were coming down to Jersey and could we "drop off" the art while we were in the area. So now we have a date to do so.

My cousin said she heard the Billy Joel song where he mentions the Parkway Diner dad and I ate at...twice...during our family research road trips. It's a diner that's been there forever, and it's likely that all 4 of my grandparents ate there at some point it their lives, before I was born. And now I have eaten there,after they are all gone. Such a strange feeling about that diner.

Coming up next week is get-together with friend at dog park for chit chat and 2 MS lecture dinners. I may only make it to one. I'm also doing a paid skin care study.

Also want to make it to the Monday afternoon thing at library where a guy offers his help in family tree research. I want to find out details of my grandfather serving time in state prison in 1930. I did call Elmira and they only have inmate records going back to the 1970s. They suggested i call the county where he lived at the time of his conviction, which was New York County/Manhattan. They didn't know anything but later online I found the NY state archives, and the guy who answered the phone took grandpa's name, DOB and year of incarceration and told me he'd see if he could find anything and get back to me next week. Just like that.

Sometimes I'm amazed at the relative simplicity of learning something, or conversely, how difficult it can be to find something that seems fairly simple and straightforward.

The state archives man said he won't positively have anything as their records are apparently spotty and there are many different kinds of records and lists, all related to prison. So we'll see.

I knew from what Grandma told me the 5 brothers were involved in things like racketeering, with possible mob connections, so this would be very interesting to learn; I'm pretty sure my mother knew nothing about itt. My dad didn't.

This month I didn't do too well attending meetings of interest to me. I skipped the genealogy meeting, the historical club meeting and the garden club. I did make it to the book club and I did attend the 2nd session of the bereavement group meeting.

Credit card rewards

October 14th, 2016 at 11:27 am

Another roundup of credit card rewards for those with good credit.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/01/your-money/how-to-pick-the-best-credit-card-based-on-rewards.html?action=click®ion=SF&module=bizseriespromo

I scored at the dump!

October 11th, 2016 at 11:37 am

I was dropping off some stuff at the metal recycling area of our local transfer station/aka "the dump."

I was so excited to find this!


It's in really great shape! The only thing wrong with it is that it was missing one of its 5 casters. So I threw it in the back seat (you're not supposed to "scavenge") and when I got home, I took one of the identical black plastic casters off my existing office chair and put it on the new (old) chair.

Perfecto!

I am happy to replace my current chair, which actually I also got for free when an office I was working at in town closed about 8 years ago. Both of its arms have been chewed on by Luther, during his early days when he "explored" his world by trying to eat everything. I think he has outgrown that stage now.

I had put black duct tape around the 2 armchair ends and that helped patch it up somewhat, but over time the duct tape is unraveling and it's looking a little shoddy. The new chair also has a much smaller footprint overall, which works and looks better in my small office.

This morning, dad came over to return a trowel i left there when we planted garlic and I showed him his DNA results from Ancestry.com. We have concluded that my dad's father's family must have emigrated from somewhere in Eastern Europe before they landed in Germany. My grandmother's family, on the other hand, is about as Irish as they come.

Interestingly, my dad does not share the 6% Jewish European component that I have, so that part must have come from my mother's family, also Eastern European. One thing my dad did have, albeit at less than 1%, was some DNA showing Finnish/Russian descent.

After dad left, I went to the dump and then for a walk. I stopped at the farmer's market and bought a bunch of organic arugula, tomatoes and dark purple peppers.

It's a gorgeous day.

Sticker shock at the vet's

October 10th, 2016 at 12:51 pm

So instead of the vet just pulling the one tooth that was sticking out of Luther's mouth, he said he needed to pull 4 more. He also cleaned the other teeth.

I came home with antibiotics and pain meds.

The bill was $837.

I'm pretty upset about it. I compared the bill to Waldo's bill from 11 months ago when he had 6 teeth pulled and I see the vet raised his price on most of the itemized procedures by $10. The cleaning alone cost $150.

The vet is good. He went to Cornell, but these prices are ridiculous, plus it's a longer drive, about 15 minutes with a stressed out cat, and his office is small, not segregated between cats and dogs, and his 2 gray parrots are always screching, which just adds to the chaotic feel of every office visit.

I had stuck with this vet becus he was the one who cared for Waldo before I adopted him, so for the sake of continuity, I stayed with him.

But at this point I feel ready to try the local vet who's much closer to my home. He may not have the same nice bedside manner, but as long as his skills are there, I can't imagine he could be pricier.

Luther's going to the vet today

October 10th, 2016 at 09:51 am

It's a very odd thing. Just yesterday I noticed that it seemed like a tooth was sticking out of Luther's mouth, which wasn't normal. I thought it was just the way he had closed his mouth.

I noticed it again today. I think it's a front lower tooth that needs to be pulled. He doesn't appear to be in any pain and I think he's been eating okay, but it's obvious the tooth needs to come out. We'll be leaving in an hour or so. Worried about the expense but oh well.

In other news, dad I went down to nearby town to check out the wood bins and display racks I had seen on Facebook yesterday. The display racks were gone; the store guy said they had been there when he left the store yesterday at 4. There were 2 bins left, but they were stained, pretty heavy and dad said he couldn't use them.

However, we wandered around the largely empty store for a bit and I did spend $5 on something that could function as a metal plant stand. It has a sturdy metal base and a large basket is screwed into the base. It was used to hold I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.



I can use it indoors for houseplants during the winter and then outside where i have my veggie plants in the driveway in summer. I found a large plastic dish I bought a year ago for hypertufa purposes and it fit perfectly in the bottom of the basket.

Any other ideas for it? It would work wwell as a laundry bin, but don't really need it for that.

I don't think that basket could hold a very heavy, large pot filled with soil, but I see that I can unscrew the basket on the bottom and then use an equally large plastic pot in its place.

Inside the store there was an interesting, fairly large wire bin with 2 levels on it, about the size of a kitchen island; the top shelf was about waist level. That would also be great for putting potted plants on, but its legs did not have rollers and I decided it was too much to ask dad to help me move it. It was marked just $12.

I got a surprise call from the newest gift shop where I have mom's stuff, and she sold a piece. Gross was $350, my net is $210. I think she was pleased since she sells mostly lower priced stuff like jewelry there. She wants me to bring in a few more pieces that match what's there in terms of color, so on Thursday I'm bringing 2 or 3 she can choose from. She has very limited space.

I watched the debate last night. I just cringed throughout the first 15 minutes, which was the ugliest part.

Oh PLEASE let them be there

October 9th, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Today is a very dark, dreary rainy day.

I happened to see a very interesting post on a small nearby town's garden plant swap Facebook site. An Adams grocery store about 30 minutes from here has closed and is giving away FREE:

1. About 5 good sized, slatted wood bins, the kind you might find watermelons in, and

2. Two wood display racks with about 4 rows high about the width of a large sofa. This would be GREAT to put in my sun-baked driveway. Not only would it save space but it would keep my potted plants off the ground away from critters that like to eat them. And make it easier to water everything without having tto bend down.

I first thought of my dad and how he uses raised beds.
Then I thought how GREAT those display racks would be for me.

I called dad. He has a pick-up truck. He didn't want to go out today due to the rainy weather (actually, it has stopped) but agreed to pick me up after his breakfast tomorrow, which will be before 9 a.m.

I am REALLY hoping we get something and they aren't all gone. The good thing is the Facebook site I saw this on has only 180 members, although anyone local who went to this store would see the "Free" signs on the bins and display racks as well.

Crossing my fingers!

Reconnecting...

October 6th, 2016 at 05:00 pm

Last night I talked for over 2 hours with an old friend from high school who I haven't talked to for 35 years.

On top of that, when last we spoke, we parted on very poor terms, all based on miscommunication from our high school days, believe it or not.

I am so glad we've reconnected. He is now living in Ecuador and likes it very much. He lives in Cuenca, which is actually known as the retirement capital of the world. Over 8,000 Americans in that city alone, so altho he's been there 7 months now, he has yet to learn Spanish, becus, he says, he doesn't need to. Everyone speaks English.

I was the first person he came out of the closet to; we were both just 16. We were very close, and the only thing I worried about was how was his being gay going to affect our relationship. I guess I didn't articulate my feelings well enough, becus, unbeknownst to me, he felt I had rejected him, when that was the very last thing I would have wanted to do.

I only learned this was how he interpreted that day when I saw him years later....i guess i was in my late 20s...when he was visiting my sister and he told me that, for years, he had hated my guts. It totally floored me. I had no idea. I always had fond memories of those high school days, and for him to tell me that was devastating. I tried to talk to him about it, but he was not receptive. Shortly after that, I went off to an out-of-state college and we gradually lost touch with each other.

So all these years, when i thought back to those days, there was this great sadness over what i had learned.

The other day i was going through old photos in my attic i wanted to scan before they disintegrate, and i found a card with his name on it. I brought it downstairs with me becus i noticed it showed his middle initial, without which my search on Facebook would have been much harder. But I did find him on Facebook that night and we agreed to talk. Which by the way was totally free becus he had gotten a Magic Jack phone when he still lived in the Northeast and that's the phone he used to call me. We had a very clear connection.

Everything is good between us now. He said he thinks he took his anger and rage at all the people who had treated him badly for being gay and directed it at me, the person he was closest to, the person, he said, he needed the most. Since that time, he had some serious drug and alcohol issues, but he has been sober for over a decade now. We both apologized for the pain we caused each other. He sounds like he's in a very good place now.

In other news...
Remember the man who bought 5 pieces of my mother's art? Well, the gallery owner called me back a day later and said he needed more for the space he's decorating. So I delivered 4 more small pieces this morning to the gallery, and hope to learn as soon as tomorrow that he's purchased more.

So I took a small check from the gallery owner with the agreement that she would pay the larger balance of a few thousand she owes me in January, when I expect it will be possible my salary could be much lower than it was this year. If that's the case, I could drop into the 15% tax bracket and thus would have a reduced tax bill for the sold art next year.

I don't have an urgent need for the money now since i have the unemployment benefits coming in.

I started with a new bereavement group this afternoon. It's a 10-week commitment which I can do as long as I don't find a new job, since it meets 4 to 5:30 pm every Thursday.

I had gone maybe 3 or 4 times to a different group a while ago that met only monthly, and I didn't think there was enough continuity between meetings to continue.

It's tough to get through as you hear everyone else's sad stories. A man who lost his wife to cancer 2 months ago. Two other women who lost their mothers, one of them also to Alzheimers, one whose mother lived to be 104. Other women who lost their spouses after 30, 40 or 50 years of marriage.

I don't know if I'll be able to stick it out, but I'm going to try. After 10 months, I feel better than I did after 4 months, certainly, but I still do not feel free of my sorrow. I am working hard to move on with my life but I often feel like this great sadness is always with me, just under the surface.

Little pesky chores: done, done & done

October 5th, 2016 at 09:18 am

I'm a compulsive list maker. I have a notebook where I write my daily to-do list of things, both work-related and personal.

For years, I kept WEEKLY to-do lists, but when my mother became ill last year I was so overwhelmed with things to do and remember that I started keeping a DAILY to-do list. It really helped keep me on track and not forget important things.

The sense of urgency in needing to do that isn't so bad now, but I chose to continue the daily lists because it really keeps me organized and on top of things.

I will cross items off the list when I do them, and when I do everything on the list, I mark a big "X" across the page. Once I complete the to-do list on the other side of that page (for another date), I rip it out and toss it, but if there are items left undone on any to-do list, I keep that page in the notebook until it's done.

So I had about a half dozen pages in my notebook containing one item that was undone, from months ago. There are certain chores, I guess, I just don't feel like doing. But these undone chores were from an older notebook, and I've already moved on to a new notebook with new dates, and I disliked having these last remaining chores.

I finally took care of 3 of them this morning, and a few were so simple you're going to laugh:

1. Put basement key on key chain. Um, yeah, this sounds simple enough. I wanted to make sure that if anything happened to my front door key (like it breaking in the door...it's pretty old), I would have another way of getting in the house.

So I wanted to put my 2 basement lock keys on the keychain as well. But first I had to find them in the jar I keep with extra keys. I had a key for one lock, but not the other. Anyway, I did find them, labeled them and now they're on my keychain. Phew.

2. Put up 3rd shade in dining room. I saved my mother's handmade window shades from her condo. She put so much work into them and I always liked the way they looked. Some time ago i managed to put 2 shades up, one in my front facing living room window and the other in the front facing dining room window. I wanted to put a 2nd shade up in the dining room but it requires a bit of attention since my mother's windows were much, much wider than mine, and not as deep.

So I had to actually carefully cut the wood bar holding 2 shades in half. (She stapled velcro tabs to the wood bar and attached the shades to the bar in that fashion. Thus I can launder the shades if they get soiled. She also created an ingenious pulley system to raise and lower the shades.) After a bit of action with my cordless drill, it was done. SO happy. The room looks better and I didn't like storing the unhung shades (there are still 3) in the basement becus eventually they'll get mildewy or something. The attic isn't great for the same reason so not sure where to store the remaining shades. Have to think about where else to hang them.

3. Some time ago, the Bluetooth in my car suddenly stopped working. Actually, the system told me there was no longer any phone connected to it, so I must have pushed the wrong button at some point.

I thought I vaguely remembered the dealer saying you have to pay to subscribe to Bluetooth after an initial free period, but aside from one feeble attempt, I couldn't get the Bluetooth working again. I called the dealer and they said no, there's no subscription. So at that point I sat in my car with the manual and very slowly figured out how to reconnect it; then I deleted my mother's phone from the speed dial and added voice calling (so neat) for the coupla phone numbers I have in there.

And to think I went without this convenience for months!

Now I just push a SINGLE button on the steering wheel and I can command the car to call wherever. So cool.

That's all I did, but I feel so satisfied I got those things done. I did also want to hang the smoke alarm on the ceiling at top of my stairs, but haven't done that becus I see the paint is peeling a fair amount and should really be scraped, sanded, primed and painted before putting the smoke alarm back up. Ugh. The smoke alarm is operating, but it hasn't been hung in that location for well over a year. That's how long these dumb chores hang around. I hate to see them "accumulate."

Do you have any dumb chores you know you need to do but for the life of you just can't (or won't) get around to?

Tuesday to do list, and a gripe

October 4th, 2016 at 06:19 am

I'm off to pick up a check from the art gallery, drop off some stuff at the dump, stop at BJs because they incorrectly charged me for something and then to the bank.

This afternoon I need to focus on drumming up some freelance work. I may also take pix of some returned art items from the one gallery to pitch to one of the others galleries.

The CT Dept of Labor CT is horribly understaffed and under-resourced.

The week before last, I tried to file my weekly claim as usual, online. I answered the 7 or 8 questions but when i hit the Submit button, it froze up and remained depressed. On the 4th try, it "appeared" to go through, and that was that.

Except it wasn't. I only discovered late last week that I wasn't paid for that week and thus the system prevented me from filing last week.

I tried calling DOL yesterday, but the recorded message said that due to an unusually high call volume, they couldn't take my call, wouldn't let me wait on hold and actually disconnected the call.

I called again this morning at 7:30 a.m., as soon as they opened, and the calls did not even go through. I would dial the number and then, nothing happened. After about 10 minutes of trying, the call connected, but I heard a recorded message entirely in Spanish. I tried calling back several times and got the Spanish message, until finally I got the English version, went thru the whole automated system again and the system gives you the option of getting a callback in an hour to an hour and a half, so that's what i did.

When i got the automatic callback, I still had to wait on hold until an operator came on. Geez. I recognize that as an unemployed individual, I am the low man on the totem poll and I guess I'm not entitled to any better service, but c'mon.

Recurring expenses: something to avoid

October 1st, 2016 at 05:48 am

Aside from essential recurring expenses like one's mortgage, gas for the car and utility bills, I have long tried to avoid discretionary recurring expenses at all cost. It's the kind of expense that's easy to lose sight of when you're watching your costs and the bills will keep coming forever.

I thought I had done a pretty good job of avoiding this kind of expense, but I realized recently when tallying them up that I do have a fair amount. These include:

1. My Amazon Prime subscription which I think cost me $99. I think this one is probably worth it because not only do you get a channel full of free entertainment on the Amazon channel on Roku (I really likee the Transparent show), but I also get free shipping (or shipping credits if you don't need your purchase in a hurry).

So, not including the one-time cost of the Roku device at I think $80, my TV watching is costing me just $8.25 a month, SO much better than the high cost of cable or satellite. That being said, I settle for not seeing certain shows I'd like to see and watch exclusively free content on this channel and others.

I don't like being made to buy a "bundle" of channels, and the only way I would return to cable is if they let you buy channels a la carte.

Plus, for years I've belonged to an online forum sponsored by a major credit card where you give your opinion just 4 times a month and you get $10 in Amazon gift cards each month. It's much easier to achieve than all the Pinecone and Tolusa surveys, so I've stuck with it.

2. Cell phone: I don't have a contract but have to buy a minimum x number of minutes annually or you lose your previously saved minutes. This is a lot of minutes and I never use them all. The minimum purchase comes out to about $9 a month but at this point, not working, I can't justify keeping this active when my current year expires in February. I STILL have not gotten into the addiction of cell phone use; i just had the phone for emergency purposes, but now I'm driving so little so will drop this unless i get a job.

3. Ancestry.com: This is a new "addiction" for me although it's been a few weeks since last time I was on it. I've done as much research as I could fairly easily. I will let this subscription lapse in late November; the good thing is that the results of all your research and the "tree" that you've built is saved, so when I'm ready to return, I can. The bad news it would be very hard to try to save all this info for my own records. You can't print out screen. I'm sure they do this intentionally. You'd have to manually copy all the info. Which I might try to do.

4. I did recently renew a subscription to my local newspaper. In fact, I paid $80 for 2 years to save $5 because I read this paper cover to cover and I like knowing what's going on in town. Some might not consider this a recurring expense, per se, but when i think about an expense like this, i tend to pro-rate it to calculate the per month cost. I'm paying for the whole year, just all at once instead of in increments, so to me it's a recurring expense...or worse than a recurring expense because you usually can't get a refund if you decide mid-stream you no longer want the product.

5. Angie's list: I decided to renew this one becus it's only $10 for the year and it's the first place I go if i need to have a home improvement/repair done.

6. Magazines: I used to get a lot of magazines here, like 3 or 4 at a time, but I didn't renew most of them when I was last out of work. Right now, I'm only suubscribing to one, Better Home & Gardens, becus it was so ridiculously low priced, I figured why not? I could do without it though.

What discretionary recurring or subscription expenses do you have, and do you think it's worth the cost?