Home > Archive: April, 2011

Archive for April, 2011

Found a way to save a bit on health-care, even after rise in premiums

April 30th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

It seems that with the $25 monthly increase in my already expensive COBRA premiums, effective June 1, to about $468 a month, preventive care doctor's visits will now be truly 100% free, meaning, the patient doesn't even pay a co-pay. (I think this came about due to Obama's health-care reform.)

Right now, many of the same services are 100% paid for by the insurance company, AFTER the co-pay. That would explain why I haven't received any bills from my insurer, I think.

Once I confirmed the new rule, I promptly canceled next week's gyno visit and rescheduled it for July. That will save me $30.

Unfortunately, becus my primary care doc did an EKG during my physical, I still have to pay a $30 co-pay there. For whatever reason, ConnectiCare doesn't consider an EKG as part of a routine physical. Of course, the average patient wouldn't know that, would they?

However, they will cover a colonscopy, 100%, so I guess I'll have to put that on my list of things to do this year.

Yesterday I got a fair amount of stuff done outside. I planted lettuce in the veggie garden; I think I could plant warm weather crops in another week or two. That being said, there are 2 days this week when temps may get down to the upper 30s.

I also cut up and disposed of a large tree branch that came down in the northeast corner of yard. I planted two stone crops my sister gave me at Easter in a window box on the side of the garage that gets tons of sun. The annuals I usually plant in the window boxes dry out quickly because the overhang prevents rainwater from getting to them and in the heat of summer, you can't miss a single day of watering without wilting. I've always loved stonecrops and they would seem to be a good choice.

I watered the grass, which is finally growing, hallelujah.

This morning I'm going to an MS conference (free breakfast and lunch), then since I'm in that town, stopping at pet food store with coupon for free 2 cans of Halo. Then hitting Shop rite in same town, and on way home, visiting neighbor in rehab from knee surgery and watering the plants at her house.

It's too quiet on the job front. I learned from someone that my key contact at real estate firm's mother passed away; that would be why I hadn't heard from him to start a few freelance projects for him. I applied for a job at a large construction company that needs an editor for its publications. Haven't heard from agency rep about the health-care writing job.

The author who's book I was supposed to edit keeps going back and forth on what to do. She seems easily swayed by whatever "pro" she talks to most recently. I have a feeling this could go on indefinitely.

The robin is still nesting; I don't think anything has hatched yet. I think wrens may start nest-building in one of my bluebird boxes. Chickadees checked it out earlier, but apparently passed it up. It's probably too open for them. A hummingbird has returned to my sugar water feeder, its ancestral feeding home. He'll be at that feeder every 10 minutes until the cold weather returns in fall.

Pls delete the spam, wool-scarves entries...

April 30th, 2011 at 11:52 am

It's all spam.

Making progress...

April 28th, 2011 at 12:41 am

You're probably getting bored by all my talk of vinyl siding, but anyway, I AM making progress. I had my fourth (and final!) contractor here to look at the house. If his price is right, and I think it will be, he'll be the one I go with.

But he's so busy he won't have the estimate to me sooner than a week,and if i give him the job, I won't likely get it done until late summer. That's how busy he is.

But in the meantime, I can look at a few houses he's done.

The other area of my life where I'm making progress is yard work. I've moved on to the next big task, taming my fenced in garden, the one place that always comes last and as a result becomes completely overgrown by mid-summer.

Last year I didn't touch it at all, and it shows. There are some valuable plants in there: 5 blueberry bushes, 3 dwarf cherry trees, gooseberry, a mulberry tree, a viburnum of some sort, an Alberta spruce, and shade loving perennials like astilbe, hosta, Jacob's ladder and so on. I spotted a lone asparagus spike popping up; I had thought the asparagus had died out at it's gotten very shaded from a large willow growing gangbusters over it.

Some god-awful, thorny brambles were spreading into the area from the north side of the yard. I spent considerable time yesterday and today digging up the brambles to stop the spread, wearing 2 pears of heavy duty gloves to protect my hands. I'm sure there are some roots I missed, but i got the bulk of them.

Next, I started pulling out the ever-creeping pachysandra, which had also begun an assault into the fenced garden. There's a huge patch of it just outside the fence, and far too much for me to ever rip out completely, but I can control it and at least keep it from taking over the fenced garden. So i was yanking it out at the fence line and in about 3 feet.

I finished about three-quarters of that but decided to wait until the nesting robin fledges its babies so I don't disturb her; she's incubating eggs right now.

Another thing to yank out of there will be the vinca, which now covers about a 4 x 12 foot space. That stuff is also hard to pull out. I tried using a metal rake but even that was quite difficult.

But since the robin is there, I may put that on hold and turn my attention to another chore that needs doing: planting the earliest crops in my veggie garden, namely, lettuce and snap peas.

Not much happening on the job front, except a recruiter took some writing samples of mine to send to their client, a well-known health insurance company. It's a contract job for an indefinite period of time, no benefits. But pretty good pay, also a long commute (one hour). I'll take it. Always wanted to get into health care writing...this would open a lot of doors for me. Not sure what my chances are of getting an interview, but we should know more by tomorrow.

Other than that, I DID get my parking garage reimbursements from my last employer. Which I really appreciate.

Tomorrow, I'll have to chase after another small amount, the $30 I mistakenly paid to my doctor's office when I had my physical. I was reading over my health plan and physicals are covered 100%, with NO co-pay. I seem to remember something like this happening before with the same doc office and that it took a long time to get the reimbursement. They're so quick to TAKE your money, like, pay us now before you even see the doctor. And I BET I wouldn't see that money if I didn't point it out to them.

My friend had her knee replacement surgery and seems to be doing well. She'll be moving from the hospital to nursing home for rehab tomorrow. I'll visit her there.

Tomorrow am going for a walk with Frank in the a.m. and my mom's coming over for dinner/soup in late afternoon since she'll be in town to pick up some of her art work at a show she was in.

I certainly am not at a loss for things to do. Another warm day in the 70s. Lovin' it.

Warm and drizzly Easter

April 24th, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Incredibly warm today, in the 70s, but a bit drizzly. I really don't mind, it's the warmth that counts.

I opened up the sun room, even the windows for the kitties before leaving this a.m., then headed to my neighbor's. She's getting her knee replacement surgery tomorrow and wanted to give me the key to her place, as well as some food that will not last. After a few days at the hospital, she'll be spending several weeks at a local nursing home for rehab and therapy.

I hope she mends very well because we used to go for some really nice walking trips to various parks, and she procrastinated about the surgery until, for the past few weeks, she's been hobbling around.

I decided to zip back to my house after visiting with her so I could put the food in my fridge...a few eggs, almond milk, chicken broth and a bag of onions. I can make use of all of these, and free groceries are always welcome!

After that, I headed toward mom's for Easter lunch. I debated whether to get gas ($4.13), but decided not to. Went to Wal-Mart, which was open (!) so I could return some canned cat food flavors the boys dislike, and got some I know they DO like. Then hit Pet Choice just to use a Halo coupon good for 2 cans of premium cat food. I know they like the Halo. Then stopped at Stop & Shop to pick up some broccoli rabe for dinner which we ended up not having.

My mother had a good Trader Joe's ham (no nitrites) with a spelt stuffing and stringbeans, red wine; dessert was an apple crisp.

My sister as usual left early, i dozed up while my mother was cleaning up in the kitchen. Then we went for a walk around her condos and down the road where we met a HUGE black Newfoundland with its owner.

Came back home, had a cup of tea in the sunroom, did some caulking in the sunroom as ants keep finding their way in.

I had spoken to a DOL rep to reopen my unemployment claim last week. Somehow, we got into a fairly personal conversation about the difficulties she had when her father died. But she didn't do something right because when i tried reporting in this a.m., as you're supposed to do, the system didn't recognize my SSN. Which means I'll have to call again this week, always a pain due to the long wait on hold.

Tons of stuff I could do outside, if it's not too rainy tomorrow. There's a very narrow window of time for me to do a lot of stuff becus once all the foliage comes out, I don't like to go tromping around in the brush, where the ticks live.

Nesting robin could delay my vinyl siding project

April 23rd, 2011 at 04:59 pm

It seems the robin I spotted outside my 2nd floor office window is intent on brooding in the nest it built in the tall rhododendron. I thought it was scared off last week because I had to shoo away a black-capped chickadee that was pecking at a hole in the siding of the house just a few feet away from the robin's nest; I do believe the chickadee also wanted to build a nest, inside the asbestos shingles! I had to plug the hole, about an inch in diameter, with wadded up tinfoil until my carpenter/handyman can insert a replacement wood plug. (The hole had been drilled by someone to blow in cellulose insulation,and his original plug had come undone.)

But no, the robin is back and sitting on the nest. I've been worried that it could be permanently frightened off by the workmen who do my vinyl siding, but after doing some quick research online, I see that robins sit on the eggs for 12 to 14 days and then they fledge in just 9 to 16 days, for a total of 30 days from hatching to fledging. I doubt I could schedule the vinyl siding job any sooner than that anyway.

A Pretty Good Day

April 22nd, 2011 at 09:46 pm

I say that because I got a huge job done in my yard. I had ripped out a whole bunch of overgrown forsythia and today I finished raking smooth the ground, getting rid of rocks I unearthed, pulling out lots of roots, planting grass seed, then covering it with hay and watering it. A huge job.

Looks like a fair amount of rain in the coming week so hope that will minimize the amount of time I have to spend with the garden hose. It's a very large area, maybe 20 x 10'.

My carpenter was a no-show today, which is annoying.

Remember that contract job I had for 5 weeks that ended? Well, the guy paid me my final paycheck, but I had a hunch he would try to stiff me on the $36 in parking reimbursements he owed me, simply because he could. And I was right. Emails to him and his payroll guy have gone unanswered.

It says in the contract he had me sign that they would pay reasonable out of pocket expenses, provided I had prior written approval. Well, he told me verbally he would reimburse my parking garage fees. I never got written approval since it would seem quite odd for me to ask for that after he told me he would, as if i didn't trust him or something.

So I told an old friend of mine the situation and he said he would call him and pose as my lawyer. It's worth a shot. (My friend is very good at this sort of thing and i think he actually enjoys it.) Otherwise, $36 is too small an amount to haul the guy into small claims court for, and I'm sure that's what he's counting on. Plus the fact that i didn't have "prior written approval." But I sure would like to teach him a lesson. Perhaps I would win the case anyway based on my statements.

I have exchanged a few emails with one of the other writers still there, who says he will probably quit the job this weekend. It's his first job out of college, real nice kid. But anyway, this was my little act of revenge, telling the other writer, and encouraging him to share the info with the other writers there, about what happened with my termination and the parking reimbursement issue. He's been very sympathetic and told me that the owner did something else much worse to someone else but said he "didn't feel at liberty yet" to tell me the details. Well, of course, I'm pleading with him to tell me what it is.

I get less done on cloudy days

April 20th, 2011 at 08:50 pm

And today's overcast.

But still, not too bad a day.

I managed to rustle up another focus group for early May, AND get an unemployed friend to qualify too. It's $125 for 2 hours' time. it's a one-hour drive, but I have a Honda and plan not to speed.

Talked to my dad and we agreed to defer his trip up here til possibly later next week. He was going to help me bring a huge pile of brush/tree branches to the landfill with his truck on Friday, but turns out town offices/landfill are closed on Good Friday.

Speaking of the landfill, that was my one outing today. I'm being so careful, or trying to, anyway, not drive if I really don't have to. Gas is over $4 a gallon here now. Incredible, but I hope it turns a lot of SUV drivers into compact car drivers. Better for the environment.

My real estate client is supposed to call me to give me the info I need to write his blog and press release.

The book author is changing gears and has decided to shelf the book I was going to edit. She wants to work on another book and have me edit the 1st 25 pages to entice an agent to take her on, I think. It's a little disappointing. She wants to meet me for coffee and talk about it. Ordinarily I probably wouldn't have the time, but I'm not really all that busy. I met her just one time and have been trading emails with her.

I'm glad she's making progress and all, but I feel totally preoccupied with my own need to find paying work and support myself. Her "journey," as she puts it, is so involved and I don't feel I have the mental energy to get too absorbed by it. But I think I need to make an effort.

I spent a LOT of time yesterday on the vinyl siding issue. Had 2 more siding guys come over. I have a price from 2 guys, am waiting for the 3rd and 4th hasn't been over but we had a real good talk about my siding issues on the phone. So Guy #1 wants to cover over it for $17k. Guy #2 I'm ruling out, he spent very little time here and hardly asked questions. Doesn't seem like he does a lot of it. Guy #3 wants to remove the existing asbestos shingles. Guy #4 also would prefer to remove it, but after being swayed to go along with that, I find myself really wanting to just cover it with the vinyl. It would be a lot cheaper and it's what the state recommends to minimize health risks.

However, the siding guys say it won't look as good if they lay vinyl over it cus it won't be a completely flat surface, plus I wonder if potential buyers of this house down the road wouldn't like the idea of still having the asbestos underneath the vinyl. Or wouldn't they focus on that if they see nice vinyl siding and all the other charms of this house? I don't know. I've posed the question to a realtor I know. I might ask 1 or 2 more realtors the same question to get some good feedback.

My handyman finished the 3 jobs I asked him to do yesterday. He charges $25 an hour, or $200 a day. When I asked him if he thought he could get all 3 jobs done in a day, he said he was pretty sure it wouldn't take him a full day. So he got here at 9:15 am and finished up around 4 pm. That's 6.75 hours in my book. When I asked him what I owed him, i started calculating his 7 hours of time here and he said, no, I'm charging you my day rate, so that's $200 plus materials. I felt like he was ripping me off by charging for a full day's worth of work. I didn't say anything, just paid him. I felt funny about it. I've known him for years, and he's done a lot of work for me. He said he's charging me less than his standard rate. I know he's hurting for money, but he also knows i'm pretty much in the same boat as far as not working full-time. I also had a feeling when he finished up this job as well as when he finished up the other job that he went out into my garage, had a smoke and was just killing time so he could get paid for more time. I don't mind that too much, cus everyone deserves a few work breaks, but the other part about his day rate did bother me. It's my own fault for not questioning that, and i can't really say why I didn't. I guess i've always trusted him to be honest and was just feeling very startled that he was pulling what he did. An example of his honesty: most guys who do work for you will include in their price to you the cost of materials. I assume they estimate it in their head and then pad it quite a bit. Billy doesn't do that. He charges his hourly rate and then goes and buys the materials he needs and GIVES you the receipt so you can reimburse him the exact cost, with no mark-up. I think that's unheard of among most contractors.

So, bottom line, he charged me $25 more than i think i should have paid. I think this is just a good reminder to me not to become too casual or trusting with him and ALWAYS be careful to have him clearly spell out what something will cost, and whether I'm paying him hourly or by the day!

Pls get rid of the spam entries written by resid123

April 20th, 2011 at 12:34 pm


Home improvement dilemmas and possible solutions, freelance work updates

April 19th, 2011 at 05:05 pm

It seems like there's a lot going on.

I have my handyman guy Billy here all day and I hope he can finish the 3 or 4 little jobs I've given him. He's still working on the 1st one.

I finally shook loose the laziness and started thinking more seriously again about doing vinyl siding after several weeks of just thinking I'd go the cheap route and have the house painted again.

The problem with painting is that with asbestos shingles, you're not supposed to sand or even scrape them, or do anything that would create dust. So of course, if you do a lousy prep job before painting, the paint won't adhere well. And that's exactly where I stand today. The last paint job I got started peeling in year 2.

But i also still didn't have a certain comfort level with the one vinyl place I met with, or their high price ($17k). While I know that "encapsulation" is an acceptable way to deal with asbestos, I wasn't convinced that they wouldn't end up shattering all the shingles once they tried to nail the Styrofoam insulation onto it. Then the broken tiles would all drop to the bottom, and even though he said they install flashing at the bottom to prevent broken tiles from falling to the ground, another guy told me the piles of broken tiles would create bumps in the vinyl at the bottom and not look right. Not to mention the idea of having a bunch of broken asbestos tiles still around isn't too appealing to me.

I called 2 references, got thru to 1, but he said they had the asbestos removed.

This a.m. i had a brief conversation with another guy who's coming over this afternoon. He quickly boosted my confidence level in him right away because he said he always removes asbestos shingles first, for the exact same reasons that i have concerns about covering them up, that they will shatter when nailed bunch up at the bottom and make the vinyl look weird, etc.

He is certified to do it and said that removal is not as expensive as i might think. So that got me excited because i had gotten a price years ago from an outfit that just did removal, and it seemed like a pretty pricey proposition.

The guy i talked to today said they don't do the whole surround the house in plastic thing when they do the tile removal, they just wear special face masks, lay tarps and of course dispose of it in a special hazardous waste landfill. Still, i wouldn't want him to do the work on a windy day, cus then I'd have to worry that dust particles could be blown down into my veggie garden, which is a good 75 feet from the house.

Sp here are my reasons for wanting to go with vinyl instead of painting:

1. Much easier to sell the house without asbestos shingles. (Though it didn't bother me since I'd grown up in a house with asbestos shingles and didn't foresee or anticipate the extra hassles painting would entail.)

2. No more short-lasting paint jobs due to inability to really sand down peeling paint well.

3. I have at least 2 windows that periodically develop leaks between the outside window trim and side of house. The caulk just doesn't seem to hold for more than a year or two. I'm pretty sure that covering window trim and walls with vinyl will eliminate this problem.

4. Slightly better insulation since they use something like 1/2" foam insulation and possibly some noise insulating value??

5. i have seasonal problems with carpenter ants getting in the house; maybe redoing siding more snugly could help?

6. Years back i had a guy blow in wall insulation from the outside. He had to drill 1" diameter holes every 6 feet all around the house and didn't care at all about asbestos issues. After blowing in the insulation, he had these wood corks he used to plug the holes with glue around each cork. Now, 1 or 2 of them has worked loose, and now i have to deal with plugging them back up to prevent water and insect and draft infiltration in what was previously a lot more airtight without those holes. So I deeply regret that move, but it can be difficult to anticipate every possible problem. I was just trying to better insulate an old house. So now I plan to have my handyman replug those holes before i have the vinyl installed.

So are those enough reasons to go vinyl?

On the freelance work front:

I'm supposed to be editing a book for a local author, but things keep changing on her end. She may delay that project in favor of another book, which would require more work on her part before I could edit it. She's juggling several different projects all at once. I just want to start a job to earn some money.

Another pending job is a press release and a blog post for my real estate client who's excited by a big uptick in attendees at 4 recent community open houses. He thinks it's indicative of a returning housing market.

Another possibility is a woman who revamps and improves websites for a living who needs writers. I was put in touch with her by another writer i used to work with. The good thing there is she has a wide variety of websites she deals with, from environmental to financial. I'm hoping something comes of it.

Someone made fraudulent calls on my phone

April 17th, 2011 at 02:40 pm

I'm talking about my landline with AT&T. I got my bill and saw 4 phone calls, all out of state,that I never made. In fact, well over a year ago, I canceled my ability to even make long-distance phone calls on my landline. The AT&T rep told me it would save me $2 a month, and I've been using prepaid calling cards ever since. So I tried to make a long distance call on my land line and it worked. So I don't know what's going on.

The calls totaled about $22 and I sure don't want to pay it. I'm going to call AT&T first thing Monday.

Has this happened to anyone here before?

Strangers in the driveway

April 16th, 2011 at 03:40 pm

I wonder what they wanted.

A little while ago, a van pulled up into my driveway. I could see people in it but I couldn't see who it was. First, even though i didn't recognize the van, I thought it was my dad because we'd talked about his coming up next week.

They sat there for about 5 minutes. I caught sight of a 3rd person getting back into the van. Couldn't see their faces. No one knocked at the door, and when I went outside, I saw no flyers or any leave-behinds.

I watched them back out and head down the street, then they turned into my neighbor's driveway. So they must be Jehovah's Witnesses or something. Although it's a little weird they didn't leave anything. I even checked inside my car, which was unlocked and sitting in the driveway.

I last spoke with my doc's office Thursday morning. At that, time symptoms of UTI were really bad. I had dropped off my 4th urine sample that morning; she said they wouldn't have the results until Friday. Friday came and went; she never called me, which was annoying since as I think she knew, I've been pretty uncomfortable and am getting anxious about not having been able to get rid of this thing.

But anyway, by Friday the UTI symptoms had given way to fairly pronounced yeast infection symptoms. I popped the 2nd prescription pill I had for it. It's better, but I can tell it's still with me.

I stopped drinking caffeine tea (started getting those headaches) and switched to decaf tea using Truvia, which is sweet but not like sugar. Gulping lots of acidophiles pills which seem to have no effect, which makes me wonder if the cultures are actually alive. Also eating lots of yogurt, though it's sweetened. Also bought and am consuming cranberry pills 3x a day. Drinking more water.

Doing all this seems to have eased the UTI symptoms but not the yeast infection. The symptoms seem to keep changing and it's a little difficult figuring out what my problem is. Now that it seems to be more a yeast problem, I ordered a product online called Yeast Arrest, which contains boric acid which my natural health book says works very well. Also ordered mannose when my symptoms were more along UTI lines. I haven't even gotten it yet, but oh well. Good to have in the house i guess, or in case it comes back.

I can't imagine how difficult it would be dealing with this if I were working full-time, between running to the doctor's, the pharmacy and dropping off urine samples. I've now given them 4 urine samples for god's sakes!

I did some research online and got scared when i saw that drug-resistant yeast infections or UTIs are very common, at least based on all the women online talking about their troubles with it. And of course, it's killing me to keep shelling out $ here and there for prescriptions or the natural remedies, but I've got to get healthy again.

Neither of the 2 employers I interviewed with called me this past week, so i think my chances of getting an offer or 2nd interview are pretty slim now. That's a huge disappointment.

It seems like the demands on my money are coming from every single quarter, from my local town, which wants to increase property taxes by over 3% (surrounding towns find a way to have a 0 increase in their budgets), to the state, which is making cutbacks, we all know how bad the federal deficit is, local food and gas prices, etc. The only way to find my way out of this horrid mess, if only to stay even, is to find a job.

I got in the mail the 1st of 2 $20 Target gift cards because I'm participating in a Lyme Disease tick study and use of an herbicide spray on perimeter of my yard. Given the money pressure I'm feeling, I guess I'll have to use that money on food items and nothing else. And despite extreme reluctance, I've gone back to doing those incredibly tiresome online surveys, becus doing them steadily (daily, throughout the day), I was able to average in the past $80 a month. Much needed money.

Swtiching gears

April 13th, 2011 at 03:44 pm

It's really annoying seeing all these spam articles on Savings Advice. I hope Jeffrey deletes them.

But getting back to the topic of my post...switching gears. After working at a furious pace for that last job I had, it's taking me a bit of time to switch gears back into Scramble for Work mode. Meaning, it's taking me some time to focus my thoughts and consider what to do next.

I did get the go-ahead to write a blog post for my real estate client on the topic of Energy Star homes. In fact, I wrote it this morning. I charge them $150 for each post, which is actually more than I charge for a press release with distribution, but that's because the blog often requires a bit of research. I hope to get more work from him.

I also reached out to a realtor I did some copywriting for a few months back, to see how she's doing, purportedly, but of course I'm really trolling for work.

Another unemployed friend of mine called to tell me the focus group place is paying $200 for people who take prescription ibuprofen or motrin, but that's not me.

I called the carpenter who paneled my 2 closets, assuming that the reason I hadn't heard back from him was because he wasn't really interested in the small jobs I offered him, but he said no, that wasn't it at all, he was really just busy. So he can start on the jobs on Monday, will come over Saturday to spec it out again. They're just little things that would need to be done when I sell this place: replacing a small piece of sheetrock over the kitchen door that got wet from ice dam leaks, covering a hole in the wood floor of my closet where the clothes dryer hose used to go (w/d is in the basement now), doing some cement work on a basement wall and hopefully helping me put back the shelving in one of the closets he paneled. His discounted day rate is $200 ($25 an hour) and he thinks he can get all that done in a day. Cross my fingers cus after this i can't spend any home improvement money except getting my house painted.

Turns out, he knows the book author/interior designer whose book I'll be editing. He said she's responsible for probably 70% of the work he's gotten lately through referrals.

A neighbor is taking me out to lunch tomorrow; I protested, cus she can't afford it, and I don't want to spend the $ now that I'm out of work, either, but she said it would be in exchange for me checking in on her house for the few weeks she'll be in rehab after getting knee surgery later this month. I'll probably also be ferrying her to the hospital, so I figure it's a fair exchange.

When Bill paneled my upstairs closet, i disassembled the shelf above; nothing was nailed together, just a dozen or so pieces of wood perfectly stacked on top of each other. For the life of me, i can't figure out how to reassemble it, so when i started putting stuff back in the closet, sans shelf, i decided i didn't need a handful of yarns that was part of some embroidery kit i had. I draped the colorful strands, about a foot long in size, out on my viburnum bush for birds to use for nest-building.

I was tickled this morning to see a robin using one of those long strands to build a nest in the 2-story high rhododendron bush outside my office window. It's possible my passing in front of the window, or the cat excitedly watching, will deter the robin from continuing, but i hope not.

A few years ago, robins had tried building a nest in that same rhododendron, but a crow had been attracted by all its comings and goings and even though i frightened the crow away by rapping on the window, the robins never returned. The nest was completely built, but fortunately, there were no eggs.

I'm thinking of writing another story for, a NYC arts and entertainment site. They don't pay at all, and so it seems they're fairly flexible with what you want to write about.

I'm thinking of doing a story(ies) that would benefit my job search. United Health Care is nearby but was apparently not interested in the resume I sent for a marketing editor job, I'm sure becus i don't have any health care experience, except for a blog I have focusing on health and wellness topics. But writing for someone else's website could offer better credibility. So I'm thinking of pitching a story to Womanaroundtown on diabetes risk/prevention for women. I'd like to find some new research to use as a segue into the story. But i think it's the kind of thing United Healthcare might cover in their policyholder newsletter, so that's why i want to write about it.

I have some indoor painting I need to do but it's so dreary/rainy out, it doesn't seem like the light is good enough to paint by, so I'll put that off again.

I'm still not convinced the UTI/yeast infection is completely gone. I'm done with both meds now but i picked up some cranberry extract pills so i could get their benefit for the UTI without all the added sugar exacerbating the yeast infection. If I have either one. I think I still have something but not sure what. I also bought a case of yogurt at Costco and was DISGUSTED to find the Dannon light yogurt i bought has both food dyes and Aspartame. It would be such a pain to have to return it so I guess I'll just consume it this one time.

The cats had a ball last night with a live, but terminally injured mouse they carried up from the basement. Timid Waldo was such an animal, tossing it up in the air again and again, and then when I tried to approach, quickly picking it up in his mouth and running down the basement with it. He's a little possessive. I was able to use a broom to sweep the mouse into a box and then dumped it outside.