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Archive for August, 2017

Where is SecretarySavings from Katy, Texas?

August 31st, 2017 at 03:48 pm

She posted right before Harvey. I'm wondering if she's okay as Katy is only 29 miles west of Houston. I hope she's okay.

I got my bloodwork results back from my physical and it mostly looks good. My total cholesterol is 175; I would like to get it lower. My HDL to LDL ratio is 2.8, which is also very good. I'm eating adequate protein, my B levels are fine, and my Vitamin D levels are fine.

The only little problem is that my hemoglobin A1c is just one point elevated, which would indicate I'm in pre-diabetes range. I need to rein in my sugar habit; no more alcohol during dinner with dad, and will have to eliminate the sweet tooth fixes (dark chocolate or a cone) to fix that.

I also had a mammogram today with the new 3D technology.

Met my friend at the dog park yesterday and then had an ice tea with him at the Sandy Hook coffee shop.

I put the first coat of paint on the little roof over my front entry after scraping and sanding it all down. I'd like to get one more coat on it and call it a day, but there's possible rain today so may have to wait til tomorrow.

Dad has asked me to come down to his house on the Jersey shore next week because he discovered a pile of boxes the former tenant left in the basement and he needs help getting them out of there. After she stole a dozen or so of his things, I don't think he owes her any favors, though it's likely she didn't want this stuff if she hasn't already retrieved them.

I wonder how the car ride will go since dad and I had a little tiff about his driving last time this came up. Should I cave and let him drive, or should I ask again to drive and risk another confrontation?

I had another MS dinner program last night. My 2 favorite couples were there and I sat with one of them. This time the doctor speaker was someone who himself has MS, and I appreciated his candor in talking about his own personal experiences with the disease. He is 61 and runs a clinic up in Hartford

It was a dark and chilly day...

August 29th, 2017 at 11:02 pm

I thought I would share with you a newish hobby of mine that has occupied my time for much of this summer.

Houseplants! And in particular, cacti and succulents. I've joined a few Facebook groups which really are fueling my interest.

Here are a few of my acquisitions.


I bought this acacia utensil caddy for a few bucks at a Goodwill store and filled it with hens and chicks in the back and a sedum, mini aloe and aeonium kiwi in front.


At this barn sale this past weekend, I picked up this cute Grecian urn planter for $3.

I planted the blue sedum in the teapot earlier this summer.

This is Echeveria Black Prince.


This one needs more plants:

But it does have a sedum and some pork and beans.


This haworthia is one of my favorites. I bought it last April at a show (or was it the April before?) and it has already more than doubled in size. I will repot for 2nd time in the spring.

I've also become rather fond of these horse teeth:


After learning today from a FB group of a 75% off pot sale at Rite Aid, I raced out and got these (the 3 big ones) for $13.



I purchased this PINK wandering jew with the gift certificate I got from the library's summer reading program:


I bought another small collection of old pots from someone on FB. Probably won't even try to get them going this year and will save them for spring.

I am learning lots of Latin and researching the care and maintenance of each one. I even created an elaborate grid detailing sun, water, etc requirements of each because having so many plants can get confusing. Some are very particular. Some like it humid, some like it dry. Most don't like too much water, but also don't like drought. Some I will try propagating.

Most have been outside but will be brought indoors soon. I'm going to try overwintering them in my family room, which I typically close off from the rest of the house, so it gets quite chilly in there, but that's what many succulents/cacti like. They go into dormancy and this helps them flower later.

As you may have seen (?) I also bought these little tables on FB for some of these plants.


What happened to my youth?

August 28th, 2017 at 03:34 pm

There's nothing like spending extended time with little ones to realize how old you've become.

There were times in my youth when I was a pot-smoking hippie making macrame plant hangers while walking around barefoot and blasting Janis Joplin on the stereo.

Later, I became a feminist college student at a women's college in liberal Massachusetts. I was still feeling like I could take on the world into my 20s, 30s and even my 40s, but it was sometime in my mid-50s that mysterious aches and pains arrived, when my stamina just petered out after a few hours of gardening.

My little visitors arrived Saturday with their incredibly calm parents, my half-brother and his Chinese-American wife. This was the first ever time they'd come to visit me at my home. Truth be told, I felt more comfortable making the overture toward my brother's wife than him. He's one who never says too much...he's always been shy....and it's hard to tell if he actually has an interest, or not.

M. handed me some goodies from a German bakery, a box of cookies and a pie. I gave half the cookies to my dad later, with strict instructions to only eat one at a time; most of the rest I gave to my friend R.

But back to the visit. The little girl breathlessly asked her mother if she could take her shoes off, and soon the 2 little ones were racing around my home. Thank goodness I had thoroughly cleaned. I even brought down the one board game I saved from my childhood, which always fascinated me.



It's called Spirograph, and it has all these little plastic wheeles that let you draw all kinds of interesting designs. I got them started with that; it was a bit too advanced for the little boy. I wound up with a bunch of kid art now posted on my refrigerator. Smile

Those 2 salads I made for lunch: the parents ate it but the kids had absolutely no interest in it. They appear to have very poor eating habits. Mom had brought some cheese crackers, and besides some red grapes I had and the crackers, that's all they ate.

I took them to the farm ice-cream stand afterwards (with dad as well). I noticed how unlike most parents they both are. When the kids wandered off to explore the farm, instead of most parents who issue a series of orders (Johnny, come back here, now! Or, sit down and eat your food...) they just followed their kids around to make sure they didn't get into trouble. But they didn't try to stop their kids from exploring, which I thought was pretty cool. They (and I joined in) continued this pattern when I then took them to a state-of-the-art playground near where I live. I figured it would help tire the kids out so they'd be quiet on the long car ride home.

The kids went crazy, and while dad was parked on a bench, the 3 of us followed them around from one exciting play feature to the next: a fort, a rope ladder, the zip line, the swings, etc. I took some photos which I'll see if I can post here, with Sian's help.




The kids were so excited and enthusiastic but it WAS tiring.

The parents were so calm and collected. M. just got a new job with Sanofi Pharmaceutical making well into the 6 figures doing what she did in her last job. I think she's still in her 30s.

My place is fully kid-proof, and at one point, the little boy was running into the kitchen and stumbled over the little tray that holds Luther's catfood and water bowl. The water spilled all over the floor. The boy got up and slipped in the water and fell again. His mom helped me clean things up and it was no big deal.

They left around 5:30 pm. Dad said he was exhausted and was going home to take a nap but that I should come pick him up for dinner, as is our custom, at 7 pm.

So, a full day. I was sort of looking forward to a nice, relaxing Sunday, but my friend R. called and wanted to go for a drive. He likes to drive with no special destination, something I used to like to do but which holds less and less interest for me lately as I can find more interesting things to do, plus he always gravitates towards stops of interest that interest him, not me. So it can be boring.

This time I suggested an endangered waterfowl conservancy, a place I've wanted to check out for a while. He agreed.





Friday I was reading the local paper and I noticed there was a tag sale that day, right on my street. I decided to go as I'm always hearing about these great things people find. I got there and for once I got there ahead of the crowd. A man who had been renting the house died, and his brother and his wife from Wisconsin were trying to empty out the house.

I immediately spotted a nice black wood bench. They only wanted $20 for it. He didn't have time to bring it to my house and it wouldn't fit in my car. I paid them the cash, they marked it as sold, and when my dad came over early yesterday for our luncheon, I borrowed his truck and with the seller's help, got the bench in the pick-up.


So now I have a nice little bench which somehow I'm going to have to protect each time it rains. Lug it into garage every rainstorm? I don't know...don't want it to rot. I suppose an easier alternative would be to throw a tarp over it.

August 27th, 2017 at 01:34 pm

What happened to my youth?

August 27th, 2017 at 01:33 pm

There's nothing like spending extended time with little ones to realize how old you've become.

There were times in my youth when I was a pot-smoking hippie making macrame plant hangers while walking around barefoot and blasting Janis Joplin on the stereo.

Later, I became a feminist college student at a women's college in liberal Massachusetts. I was still feeling like I could take on the world into my 20s, 30s and even my 40s, but it was sometime in my mid-50s that mysterious aches and pains arrived, when my stamina just petered out after a few hours of gardening.

My little visitors arrived Saturday with their incredibly calm parents, my half-brother and his Chinese-American wife. This was the first ever time they'd come to visit me at my home. Truth be told, I felt more comfortable making the overture toward my brother's wife than him. He's one who never says too much...he's always been shy....and it's hard to tell if he actually has an interest, or not.

M. handed me some goodies from a German bakery, a box of cookies and a pie. I gave half the cookies to my dad later, with strict instructions to only eat one at a time; most of the rest I gave to my friend R.

But back to the visit. The little girl breathlessly asked her mother if she could take her shoes off, and soon the 2 little ones were racing around my home. Thank goodness I had thoroughly cleaned. I even brought down the one board game I saved from my childhood, which always fascinated me.



It's called Spirograph, and it has all these little plastic wheeles that let you draw all kinds of interesting designs. I got them started with that; it was a bit too advanced for the little boy. I wound up with a bunch of kid art now posted on my refrigerator. Smile

Those 2 salads I made for lunch: the parents ate it but the kids had absolutely no interest in it. They appear to have very poor eating habits. Mom had brought some cheese crackers, and besides some red grapes I had and the crackers, that's all they ate.

I took them to the farm ice-cream stand afterwards (with dad as well). I noticed how unlike most parents they both are. When the kids wandered off to explore the farm, instead of most parents who issue a series of orders (Johnny, come back here, now! Or, sit down and eat your food...) they just followed their kids around to make sure they didn't get into trouble. But they didn't try to stop their kids from exploring, which I thought was pretty cool. They (and I joined in) continued this pattern when I then took them to a state-of-the-art playground near where I live. I figured it would help tire the kids out so they'd be quiet on the long car ride home.

The kids went crazy, and while dad was parked on a bench, the 3 of us followed them around from one exciting play feature to the next: a fort, a rope ladder, the zip line, the swings, etc. I took some photos which I'll see if I can post here, with Sian's help.




The kids were so excited and enthusiastic but it WAS tiring.

The parents were so calm and collected. M. just got a new job with Sanofi Pharmaceutical making well into the 6 figures doing what she did in her last job. I think she's still in her 30s.

My place is fully kid-proof, and at one point, the little boy was running into the kitchen and stumbled over the little tray that holds Luther's catfood and water bowl. The water spilled all over the floor. The boy got up and slipped in the water and fell again. His mom helped me clean things up and it was no big deal.

They left around 5:30 pm. Dad said he was exhausted and was going home to take a nap but that I should come pick him up for dinner, as is our custom, at 7 pm.

So, a full day. I was sort of looking forward to a nice, relaxing Sunday, but my friend R. called and wanted to go for a drive. He likes to drive with no special destination, something I used to like to do but which holds less and less interest for me lately as I can find more interesting things to do, plus he always gravitates towards stops of interest that interest him, not me. So it can be boring.

This time I suggested an endangered waterfowl conservancy, a place I've wanted to check out for a while. He agreed.





Friday I was reading the local paper and I noticed there was a tag sale that day, right on my street. I decided to go as I'm always hearing about these great things people find. I got there and for once I got there ahead of the crowd. A man who had been renting the house died, and his brother and his wife from Wisconsin were trying to empty out the house.

I immediately spotted a nice black wood bench. They only wanted $20 for it. He didn't have time to bring it to my house and it wouldn't fit in my car. I paid them the cash, they marked it as sold, and when my dad came over early yesterday for our luncheon, I borrowed his truck and with the seller's help, got the bench in the pick-up.


So now I have a nice little bench which somehow I'm going to have to protect each time it rains. Lug it into garage every rainstorm? I don't know...don't want it to rot. I suppose an easier alternative would be to throw a tarp over it.

My doctor's story, electricity woes & other miscellany

August 25th, 2017 at 02:04 pm

I went for my physical the other day and spent an hour-and-a-half with my primary care doc. She's actually an APRN, but I prefer her to the doctor.

We always have such a nice conversation; I actually consider her more like a friend. She's about my age, and when I went in to see her she told me a terrible story about something that happened last summer.

She often talks with her neighbors. There is one family with 2 boys. One day, the husband walked outside and hung himself from a tree. One of his sons found him. He had lost his job. Perhaps there were other factors as well. She said he didn't seem depressed.

A terrible story. She said it affected the whole neighborhood. Once all the emergency personnel were there, the body was left hanging for hours because they didn't know at first if they were looking at a possible crime scene. Luckily it was in the backyard. Two months later, the wife put the house up for sale and it only recently sold. The family never returned. I guess the subject came up when I asked her how her summer had been going and her reply was, well, much better than last summer. Which of course prompted me to say, why, what happened last summer.

I don't understand how someone could do that, knowing one of your kids might find you. And really, what job is worth taking your life over? I guess there could have been other factors as well. Maybe they were deeply in debt. Who knows?

Aside from that bit of news, my physical went fine. She agreed to include tests for Vitamin D and B and folate in the bloodwork since as a vegan I want to make sure my supplementation is working. Plus the D is very important for MS people.

In other news...
Here in Connecticut, electricity is deregulated, which means many different providers can vie for your business. Eversource still provides the actual infrastructure of poles and wires and such but the actual electricity can apparently be provided by other companies far away from this state.

So back in April I saw an offer from Pedigree in Texas for a lower rate than what I had; it was a fixed price for 4 billing cycles. I prefer to lock in for a longer period, but that was one of the best offers I saw at the time on the state website which aggregates all such offers.

So each month since May .... that's June, July and now August....I've checked my next electric bill and have seen the new rate is not showing up on the bill and I'm still paying my old, higher rate.

Each time I call they say they will fix it, expedite the order, etc. etc. This time I was feeling aggravated and said I would call the state DPUC. Then she put me on hold to talk to her supervisor (I hadn't asked) and she came back and said they would give me a $50 gift card for my trouble. I agreed to accept the card and while they didn't say it was in exchange for NOT calling the state utility commission, that's sort of what it felt like.

It's okay. I'm happy to get the gift card and can wait another month, but gosh, I hope they can figure it out.

Yesterday I went to visit a small art gallery and Japanese garden about 40 minutes away. I've been there twice before, and had wanted to bring my mother there when she was already in assisted living, but the summer was so hot in 2015 there just didn't seem to be the right time, and then she passed before I had the chance.

The garden was as I remembered it although it seemed not quite as well maintained as it was before. Japanese gardens are generally pretty small in size, maybe just a few acres, but are supposed to be perfectly manicured, with every view carefully curated. Perhaps it was the time of year I visited, spring vs late summer, or perhaps they are lacking in volunteer help. The place looked a little scruffy. I got a few nice pix nonetheless, which I'm unable to share since this site is not well maintained either.

I got a call back from one of the assistants of the neurologist who is doing the insomnia/mindful meditation study. I had spoken to him at the last lunch/lecture program I attended and told him I had a strong interest in participating but no one had called me back to schedule the next step. So his assistant explained they are waiting to get the Fit Bits because they want to hand those out at the appointments. They have only found about 25 of the 90 participants they're looking for to date, and the program starts next month. So that alleviated my concern they might inadvertently gloss over me. I feel I've been pretty pesty calling them about the study, but you know how these things can go. I could get left off a list by mistake and then I'd lose out.

Does one's body begin to fall apart at the age of 58? That's what it seems like. Recently my right knee felt very tight and stiff and the last time I went for a walk it was clicking inside the knee with each step. It was just a little sore but I wondered if my knee is wearing out! And last night I noticed my left thumb all of a sudden felt stiff. It could be arthritis but weatherwise, it's very, very dry (and pleasant) now. My mother's arthritis used to really become a problem when the weather was changing.

Probably arthritis, as I said, but at the same time, I tend to do stupid things. Like yesterday when my father came over so I could review with him what the letter from his attorney said in relation to his house sale. (They email correspondence to me since he doesn't use a computer.) He came here right from driving back from the Jersey shore, so he was stiff from sitting in the truck for 3 hours.

He said let's sit outside, and I decided to carry the 2 chairs down the stairs so he wouldn't have to climb the stairs. Stairs are not his friend. He sighed with relief when I brought them down but I lifted the one chair (not lightweight aluminum) with a singe finger (my middle finger) because I was holding the lawyer's paperwork, a cold drink for him and something else in my hands. So I lifted this entire chair with a single finger, thinking it would be fine. But afterwards, it felt numb and it still feels a little numb today.

Today I'll be cooking my 2 cold salads for tomorrow's lunch here and generally cleaning the downstairs. My beautiful white snowball hydrangeas are in full bloom now so I will be sure to cut some of those for the table.

It's Tuesday, and I'm....

August 23rd, 2017 at 12:07 am

It was a low-activity day on account of the EXTREME heat and humidity. Luckily, it will last only for a day and then we're to have great weather for the rest of the week.

Which is good, because this Saturday is the day my half-brother, wife and their 2 kids are coming up for lunch.

I just decided on the (vegetarian) menu today. Two cold salads (an edamame/tomato/corn/black bean salad and a cheese tortellini with peas, tomato and crouton salad)and a chia pudding dessert, though I'd like to take them all to the farm ice cream stand down the road for the "main" dessert.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to put the extension leaf in my Ikea table so the round table becomes an oval table. I've never actually used it. It's stored under the table and I vaguely recall it was "easy" to insert, but I can't figure it out now and have no one to help me. I went online and they don't make this particular table anymore.

So I may have to just use a smaller Ikea card table for the 2 little kids nearby the main table. It will be kind of a tight squeeze with 6 people in my small dining room!

I wish the admin here would fix the problem with posting images already. I've sent them 2 messages, which have gone unanswered.

Today I went to Aldi's, with a cooler filled with ice paks to keep my groceries cold on the ride home. I do this a lot.

Tomorrow I have a physical and will get a few extra kinds of bloodwork done related to being a mostly vegan. B12 and Vitamin D, mainly.

I did some light cleaning today. Well, sort of light. I vacuumed the upstairs (will do the downstairs on Friday), dusted downstairs and generally "picked up." Also cleaned the cat litter boxes, wiped down the dusty basement stairs and rinsed out the dehumidifier filter. I used the blower on my driver (my FAVORITE chore) and used the dust bin and brush to pick up the dead leaves expertly blown into a corner.

Yesterday I had another MS lunch lecture. Caught up with a Philippine woman I've gotten friendly with whose married to an MS American guy who inappropriately hugs me. They're going on a 5-week trip to Philippines next month so she can see her sister get married. She's 44 but looks about 25, seriously.

I took advantage of a certain doctor speaking (who does these lectures often) who happens to be doing an insomnia and mindful meditation study and is recruiting MS people for the study. So I told him I had a strong interest in participating and had done the phone screening but that no one had called me back to schedule the in-person screening. I gave him my contact info and am HOPING that if he remembers to pass the info on to his assistants, that someone will call me back.

Whether I am randomly assigned to do the mindful meditation classes for 8 weeks or am put in the control group, it's a win/win since i'll get paid $200, but I would rather like to take the classes. I just don't know how much more pushy I can be. I called the doc's assistants twice to try to move the ball along, and now I've spoken to the doctor. I mean, what more can I do. Are they that disorganized? The study begins in September.

I spent the $30 gift certificate from the library's summer reading program at my favorite garden nursery and enjoyed carefully browsing the succulents. I wound up with 4 more plants, one of them a beautiful Black Prince Echeveria. I would post pix, but that feature is broken right now.

I also bought a gorgeous PINK and green wandering jew. It's very striking.

My job search is in nowheresville. Lately I have become so pessimistic that I'm really starting to believe I will never find another job again, especially a f/t job. The market has changed. I am somewhat of a generalist, or "versatile with broad-ranging experience," if you prefer.

I don't know what I'm going to do, financially, or in my case more urgently, with healthcare coverage. I even went onto the website of Tractor Supply, which just finished building a new store in my town and is hiring. I don't think they would hire me and truth be told I would be so embarrassed if someone I knew saw me there.

Luther caught a live mouse last night and brought it into my bedroom before going into the family room with it. Blessedly, I was able to get it into a box fairly quickly with a broom and I released outside, near the road. But I was up all night because of it. I put some moth balls in the spot in basement where I think he catches them. The smell should repel both cat and mouse.

The eclipse was sort of a non-event for me. I waited too long to think about getting the glasses, so I didn't have them. I did go outside just to "experience" the somewhat greater darkness at around 2:30 pm and I watched coverage on TV, but that was about it. I did also take some photos of the yard just to see if I could detect any weirdness in the lighting. (I haven't looked at those photos yet.)

I've been doing a little better on my walking; when I do get out to walk, I've been better about making it a full hour. However, there's been this unpleasant clicking noise my right knee has been making and I'm wondering if my knee is wearing out. There's no pain, but something is rubbing, perhaps rubbing where it shouldn't.

For dinner tonight, I had a large salad and a few dried figs and a half a cantaloupe. Oops, I forgot to add the beans to the salad. I guess I'm still hungry. No wonder.

Brutal heat

August 20th, 2017 at 11:39 am

The AC guy came over yesterday to see why my central air hadn't been kicking on the last few days. It was a blown fuse. I'm embarrassed. He charged me $138 for a service call. My one-year warranty on their new install does not apply, he said, because the problem had nothing to do with their installation. I should have known to check the fuses but umm, the last time this happened was over 5 years and it didn't occur to me.

I guess he was right but I was still unhappy. I've decided that I won't have them come do the annual service next spring to make up for this visit. There are some people, I know, who don't routinely have their furnace or their AC services each year like I usually do. My mother, for instance, never had that done to my knowledge in 15 years, until one day it stopped working and then the bill was pretty big, over $1,000.

But I've got to clamp down on expenses. I have not been paying attention. As mentioned earlier, I just bought yesterday a 6 ft high aluminum step ladder on FB. They wanted $30, I paid $25. I have an immediate use for it as I want to scrape and repaint the front part of the little roof supported by the 2 pillars at my front entry. It's one of the few spots left on the house not covered by vinyl.

Yesterday was mostly a stay indoors kind of day until I saw dad for dinner. We decided to eat outside at the restaurant, which was a nice change and it was much easier to have a conversation.

You often assume that with age comes wisdom. That's not always the case. During our dinner, the subject of the eclipse came up and I reminded dad, don't look at the sun Monday. From there I discovered that while he agrees that "staring" at the sun will damage your eyes, he said that just looking at it quick "is okay." Which really rattled my cage. I mean, his eyes are already severely compromised by macular degeneration. Why would you risk further serious and permanent damage just to take a peek? I told him that was ridiculous and that's when he told me to stop talking. A nice way of saying shut up.

I've noticed in recent years something about my dad I never knew before.That he likes to take a contrarian view to a lot of things and question conventional wisdom. Regardless of whether it makes sense or not. Like, he doesn't dispute that global warming is happening but he questions whether it's caused by Man. He likes Trump. He's questioning his primary care doc's decision to send him to see a dermatologist about a bad rash (almost hive-like) he's had for weeks now. Dad doesn't feel that's the right kind of doctor so he hasn't gone to see him. Trying to reason with dad is usually pointless. He feels he knows better despite his lack of training.

At other times, he makes what seem to me snap judgments about things with no interest in learning more about the subject. Last night I was telling him how much I was enjoying the FB plant groups and I told him that people spend a lot of time there posting pictures of their plants and then other people admire them and ask questions about them. I went on to say that some people have hundreds of plants in their homes, that it's almost like hoarding.

From there he said he's noticed there are a lot of people who seem to have an obsession about things and launched into talking about something else I can't quite remember but I think it had to do with Barcelona. Not really sure there was a real comparison there, houseplants vs. protestors in the streets. I think he was talking about how people feel compelled to protest in the streets. Two totally different things.

Happy Friday

August 17th, 2017 at 04:28 pm

There are some problems with this site. I can't add images, and I see a post where I talked about winning a library raffle is totally gone.

I had a sad dream last night. I was in a small, rickety boat with my mother, and we needed to transfer into a larger boat for some kind of excursion.

To make the transfer, we had to jump down into a small, murky pond where a man was waiting to help us out. It looked dangerous and I wondered if my mother, at her age, should be doing this. It seemed like a literal leap of faith.

To my surprise, my mother jumped without any coaxing. She disappeared into the pond and I watched anxiously for her head to bob up. I waited and watched. Nothing happened. The seconds ticked by and I grew more anxious. She never emerged. I felt the panic rising in my chest.

To me, that dark, murky pond was a metaphor for Alzheimer's. I never really understood it. I often wondered what was going on inside my mother's brain, what she understood and what she didn't. What she felt. Not much more I want to say about this but it just makes me indescribably sad.

Yesterday I took a leisurely drive down to a town to pick up 2 pretty occasional tables I found on Facebook Marketplace. I plan to use them for my growing collection of succulents and cacti. They are mostly outside now, but I will need to make room for them for the winter. I posted about this yesterday but I see that post isn't here.

The tables are very pretty, black wrought iron legs with a black/white tile top with floral design. I wanted to post a photo of them which I'll do if they fix this website.

She had wanted $50 for the 2 of them. I bought them for $35, which I thought was more reasonable. On the way home, being in an area I'm not often in, I decided to stop for an early lunch at a Middle Eastern take-out place. I had a falafel eggplant sandwich. I also stopped at a Trader Joe's which was practically empty of shoppers! So unlike my local TJs.

Facebook Marketplace can be addictive. I'm going to have to be careful. Here's what I've bought there so far in just about a month's time:

1. Assorted perennials (very cheap)
2. The day bed frame
3. These 2 tables
4. Today, I bought a 6 foot aluminum Werner step ladder for $25. (They wanted $30). I have a rickety old wood stepladder that I only use when I absolutely have to becus it's not very stable. One of the few spots on the house not covered in vinyl is the front of the mini roof above the 2 pillars at my front entry. The paint is all peeling but I needed a tall ladder to deal with it. Now I have it. Smile
5. & 6. Pending: 5 very large terra cotta pots and a cute wire plant stand.

When I offered the $25 for the ladder, I added that i lived in town and could pick up immediately, knowing that sellers appreciate prompt pickup. She said one person was ahead of me who wanted it. About 10 minutes later, she said the other person fell thru and I could have it. I have to wonder if she just decided she'd rather have someone who said they'd pick up right away come get it so they could be done with it. I don't really feel the other deal fell through. Smile

There's no limit to what you can find there, although many people post these ridiculous prices on their stuff. Lots of dark, old furniture. Lots of refinishing "projects" that most people don't have time for. Those trendy dolls (forget the name) that used to be really hot collector items and which are now worthless. Old, out-of-repair things people believe are "antiques" and price accordingly.

I just don't think people today have as much interest in junky stuff. People are so busy working and they don't want to spend their limited free time trying to repair or fix something. Just my opinion.

I am very much in favor of reusing or recycling things, but with the price tags associated with much of this stuff, it doesn't make sense to spend that kind of money and then still have to spend more on reupholstery, repainting or refinishing.

I've also noticed that the vast majority of posted items get very little, if any response (unless, I suppose, they are sold later and the buyer and seller communicate via private message). So I've learned that buyers will tend to accept much lower prices.

Yesterday was a nice, dry weather day so I did the touch-up I wanted to do on the 2 pillars at my front entryway. I had missed a spot or two when I repainted them. They look sooooo much better.

I noticed some peeling paint under the front storm door and decided to scrape that away and repaint the wood threshold at the doorway. I figured it was a 15-minute job. My house is covered with vinyl now, so this is one of the very few areas with painted wood. I found some usable old paint, a neutral gray/brown, which will hold up better to people stepping on it than the off-white color that was there before.

But I had to prop the storm door open so it could dry and for that reason I couldn't paid the part behind the propped-open door. So that will be done in round 2. Which won't happen today as thunderstorms are expected. Patience.

I planted the butterfly weed and succulents I recently bought. Again, I would show you a picture, but...

Good news...my dad has an offer on his house on the Jersey shore and they offered full ask price of $200K. Realtor said it's because they lost out on a few other homes to other buyers who offered more. I guess the market there is pretty strong which surprises me a bit since the entire Jersey shore is supposed to be submerged in about 20 years due to global warming.

Realtor says buyer is pre-qualified so let's hope it's smooth sailing from here. REaltor emailed me the 13-page contract and dad's coming over to sign it; then I'll have to scan it page by page and email it back to realtor.

Tree talk and cousin visit

August 14th, 2017 at 06:39 pm

I had a fun time at my cousin's yesterday. She mentioned she'd have her son there with his family (wife and 2 boys) and a friend from work. Well, I was surprised, she had about 40 people there, all from the company where she works.

She had a TON of food, all catered. She introduced me to everyone as "my cousin, PatientSaver," and a lot of people said, Oh, I've heard so much about you. Smile

I enjoyed talking with a few of her friends, including one woman (and her husband) who seemed like a version of myself, becus she loves attracting birds, butterflies, bats and other critters to her yard.

I left around 6:30 pm and my timing got me home exactly when I wanted, just as it was turning dark at about 8 pm. No major traffic issues.

I saw some guys down at the bottom of the driveway today looking up at the trees and went down to talk to them. They're with the tree company the borough tree warden hired to take down 3 of the white pines. The owner spent quite a bit of time looking at them and walking around them with me. It won't be an easy job due to the power lines. I am going to have to sacrifice a dogwood to make room for their crane to access the trees. I guess it's not the end of the world; the tree has been ailing for years, though it does still flower each spring.

I guess I am more concerned about them using my driveway with their heavy trucks since I just had a new driveway put in last spring.

He said it would be better to do this job in the cold weather; better both for my driveway (harder asphalt will less likely be damaged) and also because much of the undergrowth will have died back after the frost and he would be able to see the ground and so on.

So it looks like it won't be done til November, which is a little disappointing but I guess I can wait, and it would still be ahead of any major winter storms, hopefully. It's a two or three-day job, he said.

I asked him to try to save some birch trees near the mailbox and another dogwood further in. They are going to chip what they can and haul away the big cut pieces that won't fit in the chipper. So yay for that.

I imagine everything will be really flattened once they get done, which means an opportunity for me to try to wrest control of this whole overgrown area next spring so I can more easily manage it. Maybe too much to expect I could plant grass in the area, but at least pull out any remaining invasive stuff like the bittersweet. There's poison ivy in there, so I'd have to be careful. Things grow so quickly around here that if you don't stay on top of it, it could be completely inaccessible after a single season.

Today I did a load of laundry which hopefully will dry outside...it's a bit muggy.

I also made a 3rd trip to a local woman who's selling perennials very cheaply via Facebook. I am getting into butterfly gardening more seriously, so I picked up 4 more butterfly weed plants and 2 scabiosa for just $15 total ($2.50 each)!

I had a scary experience today when I went to post a restaurant review on Yelp. I got a page that said do not turn off your computer. Call this number to restore your pages, etc. The scam that's been so much in the news. Of course, I shut down my computer immediately without going to any links or calling. Luckily, when I restarted, Windows did a lengthy scan and fixed whatever problem there was. Phew.

Accomplishments close to home

August 10th, 2017 at 10:58 pm

It's been a while, it seems, since I was able to say, "it's been a productive day." But it has been...

1. I repainted the two pillars at my front door (after bleaching and sanding yesterday). I wouldn't have thought this would make as huge a difference as it has. I guess there were a fair share of nicks and scuff marks and scratches and so on collected over the years, and it looks soooo much better.

Still, I need to do some touch-up tomorrow, but that will take 5 minutes. Just some spots I missed.

Not only that, but doing the pillars used no more than a half a quart, so I can return the 2nd quart I purchased at the hardware store. I couldn't believe the prices: $18 for one little quart of basic white paint. Geez.

I have oodles of half-used paint cans in the basement and I did find a gallon of "white" I planned on using for this project, but when I opened it up (it was about 8 years old) some rust from the rim fell into the paint. Not only that, but it was more of an ivory than a pure white, and that would be noticeable with the other white trim in front. So I had to make another trip to the hardware store this morning for new paint.

2. Fed neighbor's cat. One more day to go.

3. Another dump run. In the summer, I eat so much fresh fruit and I don't like this piling up and making a stink.

4. Applied for 2 jobs, inquired about a third via the same recruiter who got me my last contract job.

5. A load of laundry which I hung out to dry.

6. A woman's supposed to stop by tonight...soon....to hopefully purchase one or more Pyrex kitchenware I'm selling on FB. A glass casserole dish and a large mixing bowl, both with lids.

I decided I didn't need two identical glass casserole dishes (one is enough) and also don't need the extra large mixing bowl since I have a stainless steel one of that size plus two smaller glass Pyrex mixing bowls. A lot of people like Pyrex. All these bowls take up a lot of space in my limited cabinetry, especially now since I'm wanting to hide a small trash bin inside one of these cabinets. I hate looking at trash or recycling bins in the kitchen.

7. After she leaves, I hope to squeeze in a walk at local walking trail. Last time I was there, I remembered to bring a small tube of toothpaste and a paper towel so I could remove some graffiti on the glass display case at one end of the trail. It came off with a fair amount of scrubbing, but I needed more paper towels and a wet one to rinse all that toothpaste, which has just enough abrasive power to take off dried paint (little known fact). So I'd like to finish that job tonight. My little good deed for the day, which I'm happy to do because I know this trail very well and I guess I feel some pride of ownership. Hate seeing graffiti mar it.

My new phone system with built-in call blocking is working very well. I'm so happy to block calls, I now actually look forward to blocking spammers! Bring it on!

I have also downloaded a free app where I can do the same thing with my smart phone and get rid of the very pesky messages from who know where about sports stuff.

I decided to get a nice gourmet/gift box of nuts or cookies or other edibles and drop it off at municipal center as a thank you to the tree warden. He hasn't taken down the trees yet, but this will ensure he will. Smile I think I'll go to BJs and see what they have.

Great news about my trees!

August 8th, 2017 at 09:44 pm

I got a call from the borough tree warden today. He said can you meet me down by your mailbox in 5 minutes.

We talked about the white pine trees fronting the road. As you may have read in an earlier post, one of these humongus trees came down a few weeks back, just out of the blue, not during a storm or any kind of wind. I'm afraid one of these is going to hit my house someday.

He said he can take down 3 of the white pines closest to my house. They are the ones within striking distance if a pine broke off at near ground level, the way the other one did.

I thanked him sincerely. I am thrilled. This made my day, my week. He said he will hire a tree company they use and it should be done in about a month.

I am so happy!!!! If I had to hire someone myself to take 3 of these down, I estimate it would cost at least $4,000.

He did say these trees may or may not be on town property. He said it was close, and that to determine that, the town would have to hire a surveyor, and he doubted they would want to do that. So he's just going to go ahead and do it.

The other pines, he said, are definitely on my property. But at least those wouldn't threaten my home.

I am so happy.

Here's some views of the trees now:


This is the view from my front door. It's about 100 feet down to the road. The height of those pines are also about 100 feet. There used to be another white pine in between the two you see here, but that one came down about 2 or 3 years ago.


That's my mailbox on the left. The power lines are also on the left side of the road, so this overgrown area often results in power outages when branches fall. At the end of the road you can see a sharp curve to the left. My property continues after the curve, and there are additional white pines down there, but just a few.


You can see how over the years, the power company has trimmed the tree branches roughly in the middle, making these trees spindly and more prone to coming down in a strong wind.

He said they would probably cut everything along the power lines, which is fine with me except I asked them to save a birch growing close to my mailbox.

I realize I will lose a lot of privacy and maybe even notice the sound of traffic going by more, but things grow so quickly around here, I'm not too worried about that.

If they do clear everything, it would make it easier for me to get in there and clear more on my own; there is a dogwood or two buried in there I'd also like to save.

Advice to readers: Never plant white pines near the house or under power lines. They grow very fast and will soon become a problem because they are prone to breaking and the wood is soft.


It doesn't seem right, but it is...

August 8th, 2017 at 05:57 pm

Went to feed my neighbor's cat this morning. This is day 4 and I still haven't seen it (!) but the food is gone each day.

Did some grocery shopping, mostly at Aldi's but a few item at Caraluzzi's.

Went to the transfer station with trash.

I was totally surprised to learn I am eligible for a 2nd round of unemployment benefits. I almost feel embarrassed to talk about it because I don't feel I deserve it, but the rep assured me in this morning's call that I more than qualify.

As you may remember, I was laid off last July and then collected 6 months of benefits, ending in January of this year.

But then I worked 4.5 weeks at a contract job, and believe it or not the $9700 I grossed from that job will enable me to earn up to $16,000 in unemployment benefits for the next 6 months.

Yep, you read that correctly. It doesn't seem right, does it? Not only that, but my gross/net will actually be higher than what I got last year, by about $18 more a week.

This is great for my ongoing expenses as it was just this past month where I had to, for the first time since my layoff a year ago, believe it or not, transfer money from personal savings to my checking, just to cover ongoing expenses.

Because while most households could not live on unemployment benefits, I made it work, especially since I paid off my mortgage years ago. Property taxes and health insurance were my top 2 highest expenses. Then the little money I made from freelance writing earlier this year and that one contract job nicely replenished the coffers here.

However, the pressure is still on to find a job this year because I am fully expecting health insurance to be considerably more expensive when my COBRA runs out, compared to the $525/mth I'm paying now. That's assuming ACA is even available by then.

But I am immensely appreciative of these benefits. I thought at most I might qualify for half the benefit.

One remaining question: The contract job was physically located in CT and I live in CT, but the agency paying me was located in NY. Does that mean I need to file a CT and NY state tax return this year? I asked the payroll guy at that agency and he said no, what counts is where you live, but I'm not so sure that's true.

Laura, if you're reading this, tonight Dr. Greger is on PBS live and you can watch it from the NutritionFacts.org website!

This weekend I'll be traveling down to Jersey to my cousin's little party. I'll be meeting her son and his family for the first time (they're up visiting from FL), and her friend, L., will be there, who I met once already. It's about an hour-and-a-half trip. I'll stay I'm guessing for about 4 hours and then return home.

I am picking cherry tomatoes and cucumbers and enjoying them greatly in my salads. Wineberry-picking season is over, and the mulberries on my tree are 95% gone.

I have been trying to do more reading lately as my local public library offers several raffles with gift certificates to local shops and you get a ticket with each brief book review you write. I've written 3 so far and hope to add one more soon. The program ends this month.

What I'm up to....

August 5th, 2017 at 06:20 pm

I got word that a cousin on my mother's side passed away. It's too bad, because my other cousin and I were planning on seeing her to talk about family tree stuff. I would have gone to see her by now but the other cousin was too busy, and now it's too late. I feel sad; I hadn't even know she had liver cancer. The last time I saw her was when I was a little girl, though we did talk on the phone after my mother died. My mother was always fond of her.

Today's the last day of the awful humidity.

Yesterday I did drop off 4 more pieces at the main gallery which has most of my mother's stuff. Luckily, she didn't require me to take any home with me AND she surprised me with a small check ($87) for something that sold, but she had no idea what it was, only the price.

After that I hit Trader Joe's and stocked up on canned organic beans, which I eat daily, often in my salads.

There was a man there ahead of me who moved on with his cart, but then upon seeing me load of my cart with quite a lot of beans, couldn't resist talking to me I guess. He said he eats the garbanzo beans right out of the can, plain. I tried to give him other ideas for making them more tasty, to which he replied, Oh, that's beyond me. Really? Putting them in a burrito or in a salad is beyond you? Hmm. But hey, I must sound just as dumb when I'm talking to my auto mechanic or to any one of a number of home contractors.

I've been taking little walks around the block each night when it's much more comfortable outside. I ran into a neighbor and got a lot of news I didn't know about. That's why I love talking to neighbors. Smile

Today was the first day of feeding one neighbor's cat. She's not really a neighbor since I have to drive about 2 miles to her house. She warned me right before she left on her trip that there was a large hornet nest in the making under the light above her garage door. She offered to let me out of cat duty if I felt uncomfortable about it, but that would just be silly. (She was relieved.)

When I went over there, the hornets were buzzing around rather angrily, no doubt becus it's a cloudy day. I gave them wide berth as I walked to the back door. The cat was nowhere to be seen, but we expected that. I stuck around a while to see if maybe she would emerge, but she didn't. That may happen tomorrow or the day after.

I'll email a brief update to my friend after about day 3. It may be very brief: "No sign of your cat." PatientSaver.

She decided she wants to pay me $30 a day x 7 = $210! Which is way more than I would ever charge but of course the money is welcome and needed. And she's not even requiring me to change the litter boxes.

My local weekly newspaper, which has been in continuous circulation since the 1800s, has a column purportedly written by a cat. Smile I emailed the kitty word about the bobcat I saw in my yard recently and she reported on it in her column, except that she forgot to say what street I live on. Which would have been important since I live very close to Main Street and I think people would be surprised about a bobcat sighting so close to town.

I've been wasting far too much time on Facebook and Luminosity these days. Right now, for instance, I should get out for a walk since I'll be seeing dad for dinner tonight. To continue practicing Instagram, I'm going to start taking pix of my dinners out and posting to Instagram. Cus I am seeing a ton of social media writing jobs out there. Facebook I know. Instagram I know. (I used to post photos to Pinterest but that seems to be on the decline.) Twitter, I'm inactive on but I do have an account.

What I'd also like to do is download and start using some apps on my smartphone. I only have one app (!) which enables me to access my email far more quickly than I did before becus the PW is preloaded. Thank goodness this app presented itself to me becus i would otherwise not be aware it existed.

Ugh. So much for a walk. It's raining again.

This morning I sacrificed some much needed cabinet space in the kitchen so I could use one cabinet just for a small trash bin. Because I'm beginning to hate looking at the cluster of bins blocking my back kitchen door: the organics container, the paper/coardboard/newspaper container, the regular trash container (now really quite small) and the largest, the plastic and metal container).

I also put the paper bag full of paper waste in a small cubby at the top of my basement stairs, so that means I have just 2 containers to look at in the kitchen: organics and plastic/metal containers.

I suppose I could put the plastic/metal container in the basement, but I don't want to attract any insects. It's in a regular trash bin, the kind with a movable top. Plus it is convenient to throw stuff in there right there. I suppose I could do the same with the organics bin. It it a small vented container that fits inside a larger plastic container with a sturdy lock top but I do still wonder if the smell would attract ants or anything.


Here's a flag I'm trying to sell for $15. That's what a dealer told me it's worth, but it has an interesting history. I bought it years ago poking around some old antique place. It has only 48 stars, so that tells you it was made pre-1959, the year Hawaii and Alaska became states.

Death as a side effect

August 3rd, 2017 at 06:49 pm

So dad has chosen one of the 3 realtors I lined up for him to list his house. It's the one I liked the most. She wanted to list it this weekend but called to tell me (becus dad wasn't answering his phone) the place has fleas and will need to be treated. So she had to cancel the photographer coming out to do the photos.

I have suggested to dad umpteen times he'd find it easier to use a landline, but he's a tightwad and doesn't want to spend that much. So he uses this old clamshell with a tiny LCD screen he can't read and much of the time he must push the wrong buttons becus he claims he doesn't hear the phone ring when there's an incoming call and of course his mailbox is perennially full so no one can leave a message.

It's now even more of a problem now that realtors are trying to reach him, and so now they're calling me instead. Sigh. Problem is, I can't reach him either. It's really frustrating.

UPDATE: We haven't resolved anything about his driving. I'm not trying to tell him not to drive (altho that's what he thinks) but I would like to see him avoid driving the highways going down to Jersey, especially when I'm with him and could do the driving. We talked about it more today but he can be a hard ass.

He basically said it's your prerogative not to drive with me if you feel uncomfortable but it's my right to drive when I want. Which is obviously the case. I again tried to say that when we were together, why not let me drive since otherwise it's a higher risk if he drives. He acknowledged that he is going blind but said he still feels he can drive. This is what's really behind his defensiveness and belligerent attitude on this.

This is the father I remember from when I was growing up. I did't see him much (my parents divorced when I was 6) but when I did see him I was a little afraid of him. He was very strict and he had a short temper. Over the years, I thought he mellowed quite a bit.

This whole encounter has left me thinking he does not have very good conflict resolution skills. Normally you try to find common ground and go from there. There is room for compromise.

I know this isn't a nice thing to do, but a part of me wishes he would realize how much I do for him and then perhaps he'd be more willing to compromise instead of digging his heels in and refusing to budge.

We have dinner together every Saturday. I was thinking of skipping it this Saturday because he's been very abrasive and unyielding and testy and a 2nd talk today did nothing to clear the air. I realize skipping the dinner is really like trying to punish him becus I know he looks forward to these dinners. When you get older there are fewer things you can do but enjoying a good meal is one thing most people can do. So withholding this would accomplish nothing but I admit to being an imperfect human being and wanting to skip it.

Today's my birthday. He rarely remembers, but I wasn't expecting him to.

I spoke to my friend R. who is returning to Sloan Kettering. He has numerous marble-sized tumors in his body. They'd given him a choice of either starting chemo or enrolling in a clinical drug trial that does not involve placebos, only the drug.

Since he finds it easiest to pop a pill, that's what he chose, so he has to take the train and a cab early tomorrow and will be mostly spending the day getting various baseline scans done.

So yeah, upon reflecting on LIvingAlmostLarge's post today about appreciating what we have, all I need do is think about what my friend is doing, fighting for his life. Remarkably, he is in fairly good spirits.

Tomorrow I decided I will head up to a local gallery to swap out 3 or 4 pieces that reside there now for some summer-themed pieces my mother did with sailboats and so on. I checked with the gallery owner today and she was fine with that idea. I probably should have done this in June, but life got in the way.

Dad's came over earlier becus we have to again fax a court eviction order to the NJ electric company who claimed they didn't get it when we faxed it the first time. It's really annoying, making special trips to library, etc. etc. May try calling them again and seeing if we can scan and email it instead of fax. The tenant was behind on paying her electric bill to the tune of $2300.

Taking care of parents can be a full-time job.

Not much else going on. I went to another MS lunch-lecture, had a delicious meal and met many of the same MS people who I'd seen at the dinner the week prior. This month, I'll be going to 1 of these each week. I enjoy the chance to socialize and of course the great meals.

A little history on MS drugs. When I was diagnosed, they had exactly 3 drugs: the so-called ABC drugs: Avonex, Betaseron and Copaxone. Nearly 30 years later, they have about 14 drugs to choose from, and it's the drug companies that make these drugs that host these dinner lectures for MS patients.

They pay a local neurologist I'm guessing $1,000 or $1500 to give their PowerPoint presentation and the MS people get a free meal. Not bad for a half hour presentation and most leave as soon as they're done, not staying for the dinner. There are 3 or 4 neurologists in my area who constantly do these talks; no doubt they find it worthwhile to earn a little extra cash for very little time spent.

It kind of makes me feel like the drug company is the pimp, the doctor is the prostitute and we MS patients are the johns.

Sometimes the drug companies also pay an MS person to talk about their personal experience with MS and how wonderful the drug is. They pay to fly them out to these little dinners all across the country. It's like a regular gig for them.

At the last MS lunch I went to this week, the speaker was a guy who was a motorcycle fanatic. He used to race them. When he was diagnosed with MS, he had to give much of that up, but his did in fact ride his motorcycle to the luncheon from NH. The speaker at the dinner before that was from Chicago.

Only a few of the newer drugs are pills; the rest are the original, old injectables, like the Copaxone I take, or infusions you have to take in a hospital.

They are uber-expensive and thus pharma thinks it worthwhile to pay for a whole lots of dinners as a means of getting prospective users of their drugs to hear their message. Maybe they should just lower the price of the drugs.

I pray to god i would never need to use most of these drugs becus many come with some pretty serious potential side effects, like death, or require regular blood work to make sure your liver's not damaged or your white blood cell count doesn't drop too low.

So, um, no thanks, I'll stick with Copaxone, which is less effective than the other drugs in slowing disease progression (roughly 30% fewer relapses and brain lesions vs about 50% ) but I'd rather not have to worry about other health problems caused by these drugs.

Not much new on the job front. I've applied for a few jobs that I felt perfectly qualified for but never heard a word from employer. Actually, I was maybe a little over-qualified. A few ads even said "recent college grad ok." So maybe that's their preference.

I contacted the DOL becus there's a possibility I may qualify for a new round of partial benefits based on the contract job I had in May/June. I feel like kind of a loser even putting in for that, but I have paid into the system for 30 years.

But I watch the news daily and see how Trump's threat to withdraw funding for ACA subsidies has thrown the insurance market into chaos, with the 2 remaining health insurance issuers considering pulling out of the market entirely. This is really problematic, becus they estimate prices will rise by 20% in 2018, so the subsidies are needed for low- to moderate-income people.