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Archive for October, 2018

Nice visit with new cousin

October 28th, 2018 at 05:33 am

Yesterday i met for the first time another cousin I've discovered through Ancestry.com. She came with her husband, who is Norwegian and still trying to get his green card.

They are both in their 20s and live in NYC, though my cousin said they expect to live in Norway in five or 10 years; in the meantime, he wants to find a teaching job here. His expertise is Norse mythology. She has a big interest in historical textiles, and she was the one who uncovered the town, Hunkovce, where my Slovakian ancestors came from.

Here is the church in that town, which is across the street from my ancestors' address, and where they are buried.



I made a lasagna and big salad, plus a nut pie for dessert.

I let her pick out a few pieces of art, but I think she was more interested in my small collection of my mother's woven clothing. She took home a long loom-woven jackets and shawl my mother made. None of this clothing fit me, and so they've been hanging in my spare bedroom for 3 years now. I thought it was very fitting that my mother's mother's sister's great-granddaughter should wear and enjoy these.

All told, I've made meaningful connections with 3 new-to-me cousins I discovered through Ancestry; they each represent 3 of the 4 different family lines. And I've met once or at least connected on Facebook probably a dozen more.



This and that...

October 18th, 2018 at 04:30 pm

Cold weather puts me in a mood to cook, so last night, I made lentil bolognese over quinoa. Tonight it was creamed carrot and cauliflower soup.



I also made a lemon chia pudding which is setting as we speak.

Tomorrow I'll make a tofu chocolate pie.

I'm trying out a few new recipes, casting about for what to make for lunch next weekend when my 3rd new-to-me cousin comes up for a visit with her husband, from the city. Maybe a lasagna would be easiest. I don't want to force my vegan food choices on anyone who may not be receptive.

I did something this week I haven't done in several years...mow my lawn. I have long been dissatisfied with how my mower guy does the lawn. He rides one of those very wide mowers and he skirts the edges all the time. I've noticed by looking at various markers...an old tree stump here, a drainage pipe there....that his skirting the edges has allowed weeds to encroach inward on the lawn about a foot! And there's one part of my lawn in the far front corner where I haven't been all summer that he just didn't mow at all.

So I mowed myself and then called and told him not to come this week. I'll probably keep using him next year because I don't have time to mow every single week, that's the thing. Plus, I don't like mowing in the heat of summer.

Unfortunately, as I was pushing the mower back toward the garage, one of the wheels came off. The bolt that kept it locked in place was lost. This happened to me once before and it was a pain to find just the right thing to fix it at the hardware store. Took several trips and frustration to fix it. Sigh.

I turned the heat on, guys. Frown

The new job offer is still not official yet, but the recruiter said he'll begin the background check. I am hoping to get the phone interview tomorrow; otherwise, due to my work schedule and jury duty next week, I won't be able to talk to hiring manager til Thursday.

So it doesn't quite seem real to me yet becus I haven't had an interview, and it's the hiring manager I want to speak to about the job, not the recruiter, who really has very limited info about it.

I can tell you I'm not looking forward to giving notice, but hey, maybe if he'd been more responsive to my earlier requests (in August), I wouldn't have considered this position. But it's really hard to turn down a 30% pay increase.

Oh, and after the 2nd coat of paint on the family room floor finally dried (it took 2 weeks, but there was no heat on in that room), I could see all kinds of marks from the roller.

I painted a 3rd coat this past Monday, and while I haven't walked in there yet, peering through the closed French doors I can still see some marks. Maybe not as bad, but there are still marks. And I give up. I will just throw a large rug down and call it a day. I can't devote my life to painting the floor, and apparently I don't have the technique down. I read you're supposed to "lay the paint down," not rub the roller back and forth, and that's what I tried to do. I think it's harder with a dark color and high gloss, which is what I have.

I spent some time with my friend with prostate cancer. He has run out of options and is being offered palliative care. When I got there, he asked me to stay the night because he was having a panic attack. He later got his sister to come over.

While I was there, there was a knock at the door and my friend asked me to get the door, since he is hooked up to a very long oxygen tube that snakes all around the house. It was a woman and her young son. She was the daughter of one of my friend's neighbors, and her father had told her about my friend, and she asked me at the door if she could pray with my friend. Kind of a gutsy thing to do. I let her in and they prayed together. My friend appreciated that.

He has already given his dog to his niece, because he doesn't feel he can take care of it anymore. He really loved that dog, and I feel bad he had to do that.

My friend has a very good network of people who care about him and are pitching in to help him. Besides me, he has 2 guys from childhood who have driven him over a dozen times already to Yale New Haven. He has another male friend, his sister, and his ex wife, all of whom are there for him. Still, I think he was having the panic attack because he does live alone, and he had recently learned he was no longer able to participate in a clinical trial of a new drug, he can't take the chemo anymore and he felt stranded.

I'm afraid I wasn't much help. His illness has revealed to me that while I want to be supportive, I don't always know the words or ways to express that. I need to try harder.

Still no heat...how 'bout you?

October 13th, 2018 at 05:48 am

It's been very easy not turning the heat on as the Northeast has had a very warm October. That may end tonight with a frost advisory overnight. Ahh, this is the sweet spot between seasons, when I am running neither the furnace nor the air conditioning. My wallet thanks me.

Nothing definitive yet on the possible new job. Recruiter says a phone interview could come Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, which would work out well since I have that week off from my current job. Recruiter said he's 95% certain I have the job, but his agency is also trying to fill 2 other positions with this employer and they're trying to put it all together in a package deal.

Meanwhile, my manager at current job will be going overseas next week on business (Munich...damn, he's lucky), so it's conceivable I'll have to email him "notice" while he's away. I'm not even sure contract employees typically give "notice" like perm employees do, but I would like to do that anyway.

I wrapped up my 6 mths with the SaverLife program and earned $40 out of a possible $60 for saving a small amount of money each month. I made the mistake of using a checking account, so I lost out on saving the monthly $10 in 2 months because various checks I'd written were processed, eliminating my actual "savings." Not a biggie.

I'm still continuing to do 2 monthly surveys with my local bank, which earns me $20 a month. It usually involves a lobby visit to do something along with using the drive-up teller. I've done this all year, so again, a nice way to earn some pocket change.

Here's the SaverLife link for those who didn't see this earlier...

https://saverlife.earn.org/#/register

I am savoring a week off from work next week. I plan to see 2 matinees, one with dad, one by myself. I want to see The Old Man with a Gun becus I do like Robert Redford, and I think my dad would like First Man.

Here's what else is on my agenda for the week:

1. Stop by the farmer's market; this may be the last week it's open and I never get to go since it's on Tuesdays, when I normally work.
2. A furnace cleaning
3. Two MS dinner lectures
4. Yardwork, weather permitting
5. (sigh) I need to do a third coat on my family room floor. Sun glare kept me from noticing I was not evenly rolling the 2nd coat, and now I can see all sorts of roller marks on the floor. I didn't know a roller could actually leave marks, but it can. I was either not applying even pressure with each stroke, or I was not being careful to roll out all the paint. Have to admit I kind of rushed through it after all the prep I'd done and was feeling like I just wanted to be through with it.
6. A new (free) mindful meditation class at the library each Thursday, which will dovetail nicely with the classes I'm taking as part of the clinical study.
7. A few walks with my friend
8. Hopefully a phone interview for the new job

Our meditation classes are continuing, now with a yoga supplement. At this point, I doubt I will continue with it once the classes end as I don't really feel I'm getting anything out of it, but I know it's important to stick with it and give it a really good try since this is what the study is about. I think my next assessment with the neurologist running the study is not til December.

I finally have a setup in my upstairs bath that I think is adequate for my cacti collection and which I can live with in that tiny space. I have a floor lamp with 3 different shades which can be swiveled in different directions, and I'm using 3 plant grow light bulbs.



All the plants on the 2 small coffee tables here are grouped according to how much light they require, and those requiring the most light are directly under the light, which ideally should be as close as 6 inches away.

The ones I have repotted using my own soil mix are doing soooo much better. I didn't appreciate what a different the soil mix makes, and my pencil cactus in particular is grown at an astonishing rate this fall once I changed the soil, after a full 3 years of barely hanging on.

I really enjoy tending to them.

I have quite a few tiny plants I'm propagating on the window sill, which you can't see, and also on top of back of the toilet. My 3 jades are by a west-facing downstairs window, there's a pothos in my office and some more echeveria leaf propagation growing in little jars at the kitchen window. Oh, and the aloe and peperomia in my bedroom. The air is clean in here!

I may jump ship

October 10th, 2018 at 04:54 am

I've been coasting along at my little p/t job, feeling fairly content. To recap, it's about 20 hours a week, pays $32/hr and is pretty easy to do. It's still a 40-minute commute (1-way) 3 days a week.

The game plan was to stay with this job for the next 6 years until I can get on Medicare.

More recently, I've been feeling a bit frustrated since I've been pushing to be moved from the recruiter agency payroll to the company's payroll, becus I feel the raises would be much better with the employer and I could contribute to a 401k.

I began this conversation with my manager back in AUGUST and while my manager hasn't said yes, definitely, he hasn't said no either. My coworker says he's just super busy.

In the meantime, I went straight to the agency last week and asked them for a raise. I just felt that if my manager is not sharing with me some reason they're reluctant to put me on the payroll, then I should still get some kind of COL adjustment from the agency then. The agency is supposed to be talking to my manager this week. I'm not expecting much from them; maybe 3% tops.

I thought my manager was a straightshooter, but I recently caught him in a little white lie; while it's of no consequence in and of itself, it bothers me that he did that.

When I last asked him a few weeks ago about the status of my possible switch, he said he was having trouble getting through to the woman who is his contact at the recruiter agency, and that she was "hard to get a hold of" and wasn't calling him back.

He wanted to find out if the company would have to pay any sort of fee to "buy" me out. He didn't think so, as I've now been there for a year although there's a sliding scale of a fee they have to pay if they want to permanently hire a contract worker within less than a year's time.

Well, when I called this same woman on a Friday to ask for a raise, she was out of the country on vacation but called me back the following Monday, which I think is pretty darn responsive. When, after talking about a raise I casually asked her if she'd been in touch with my manager recently, she said no, but she'd been meaning to call him. So he wasn't being truthful.

So yesterday, out of the blue, I hear from my old friend, the headhunter who found me the job I'm at now but who now works at a different agency.

He has an opportunity for a contract writer to work for a health insurance company (coincidentally, it's the one I buy my health insurance from) which he thought might be great for me to "supplement" my income with. It's 15-20 hours a week at $45/hr and work from home.

At first I was intrigued and sent him all my writing samples, but then I realized it wouldn't work becus the extra income would quickly put me over $45K, which exceeds the threshold for ACA subsidy and I'd have to pay the subsidy money back at tax time. It certainly wouldn't be worth doing this for just an extra 2 months worth of extra income in 2018.

But then I started thinking about leaving my current contract job for this one. With the substantially higher rate of pay, I could actually work around 18 hours a week to make the same amount of money as I would be earning at my current job working 25 hours a week.

There's a sweet spot of work and income for me, and it's about $40K a year. Work too few hours and I won't cover my typical living expenses, but work too many hours and I risk losing the healthcare subsidy.

I don't want to go back to f/t work becus I still want to help out my dad. He's been doing ok but his doctor recently told him his vision is deteriorating more rapidly. There will come a time when my dad will need to be ferried to all doc appointments, grocery shopping, etc. and I plan to be there for him.

THIS year I will have no trouble earning right up to about $41K (I have investment income and taxable interest too, so can't go much beyond that), but I worked FULL TIME the 1st 3 months of the year. It wasn't until April that I began the abbreviated work hours.

So in 2019, I'll work all 12 months p/t, and I think my income at this current job will be considerably lower as a result, which could be problematic.

So the new opportunity with the health insurance company comes at a a very fortuitous time. I've been so focused this year on not working too many hours that I forgot that next year, I'm going to potentially have the opposite problem: not enough income.

The new job would make that easy to achieve, in less time, and from the comfort of home during nasty winter weather and all year long.

But I need to find out how temporary or perm this contract work is...if they only envision needing someone for a year or so... or less... it probably wouldn't be worth it to walk away from my current job and income, which is fairly certain and secure.

My recruiter friend is submitting my resume this morning. I know it would be sweet payback for him if he poached me from my current agency, the one that laid him off. He didn't think it fair that he had just brought in me and another contract hire to our jobs at my current company only to be let go by his own agency a short time later. I would be happy to inform them of my new agency contact. Smile

This and that

October 7th, 2018 at 10:33 am


Haworthia coarctata, the latest Haworthia in my collection

I went to get my car's oil changed last week; I was sitting and sitting and waiting and waiting. Finally, at the 2 hour mark, I walked up the counter and asked them what was going on. Turns out they put the paperwork for my car in someone else's car, and they hadn't even started my oil change. Another 45 minutes later, I was finally out of there, and they paid for the oil change to make up for the inconvenience.

Not sure what got into to me today, but when I was folding laundry, I finally decided I'd had it with my overstuffed linen closet. I mean, it is just stuffed.

I sorted everything out, matching flat sheets to fitted sheets, and counted 6 sets of flannel sheets and 3 sets of cotton sheets. I don't need so many, but it's hard for me to get rid of items that are perfectly usable "eventually." Some of these I acquired 3 years ago when my mother passed.

I did put aside for donating the following items:
* a set of flannel sheets in a pink color I didn't like
* 3 or 4 mismatched pillow cases
* a few sheets where I had just the flat sheet but not the fitted sheet
* a very bulky duvet cover that took up a lot of room (I still have 2 other duvet covers)
* a curtain

Sigh. This filled up 3 garbage bags full of stuff for Good Will (which includes some clothing items, too), though the closet is still quite full. Just not as full as before. At least now I can find stuff in there.

Now that it's getting cooler outside, all of my cacti/succulents are inside, and probably 80% of them are residing in my upstairs bathroom, because that's the sunniest room in the house, with both south and west-facing windows. I also bought a floor lamp with 3 flexible light fixtures you can turn in various directions, and I've ordered 3 plant light LED bulbs for use in them. The bulbs, purchased from Amazon, are being shipped direct from China, so it's a 3-week wait.

I'm also really liking these acrylic window plant shelves I bought and will likely get more:


These are over the kitchen sink, and I already have 3 more in the upstairs bathroom for maximum sun exposure.



The person I job-share with has various reasons to be out of office this coming week, so I've agreed to work all this week full time. The only good thing about it is that I will then have the entire following week off, as he wants to make up for the lost time. I'll be glad to get back to the normal schedule after that.

We've begun doing yoga at the meditation classes. Our daily homework requirement is also growing, and this has become problematic on days that I work. I just don't have time for an hour of meditation, 15 minutes of mindful breathing and now, a few more assignments as well.

I'm still walking with a neighborhood friend usually twice a week. I would do more, but we both have busy schedules and it can be difficult to coordinate. I'm holding steady at about 8 or 9 pounds lost, depending on the day, but I would like to lose more and I'm not sure how to get off the plateau.

On the days I walk with my friend, I usually get in 11,000+ steps.

Couldn't sleep last night and watched a fascinating Frontline episode called Trump's Showdown. It was around 4 am so I guess it was a rerun. It did a really good job of piecing together the long sequence of events related to the Russia investigation and everything related to that. I find it hard to connect all the dots when I'm hearing mostly headlines here or there in between the rest of my life.