Home > Archive: November, 2011

Archive for November, 2011

Oops! (I never do this)

November 28th, 2011 at 12:17 am

I got a bill from the water company the other day that said you're overdue on the last bill from August.

Umm, what? I'm thinking to myself, well, I must not have ever gotten the bill. Later, I went rifling through a file I keep of utility bill statements and there I found the water bill. I filed it but forgot to pay it! Duh!

It got me worried, though, becus I was afraid that if the water company reported to the credit bureaus even this one late payment, it would zing my credit and I might not be qualified for all these wonderful bonus reward credit card offers I'm in the process of taking advantage of.

However, I checked my credit score on both creditsesame and creditkarma and it doesn't appear my credit score changed at all. Sort of wondering why...

I mean, I used to write about this stuff for a living, and I remember that even a few late payments was a big, bad thing to do if you wanted to preserve your pristine credit rating.

I was all set to apply for the Citi Dividend card ($200 bonus) but MM convinced me to go for the Southwest Airline card, though I haven't flown anywhere for years. It's funny they don't specify any dollar amount for that one purchase.

Today was another in a string of unusually warm days here in the Northeast. Low 60s, I think they said. So I did more treework. I had a very tall and ancient mountain laurel on the north side of the house (2 stories high) that in the winter storm, heaved up partly out of the groud. The weight of the snow on the branches is what did it.

I wasn't sure what to do about it. It was partly keeled over, but i wondered if i could save the shrub, especially if i relieved some of the weight that caused it to keel. It was way too tall, I guess, though I sort of liked it. I was going to wait until it went dormant this winter before pruning it, in case it did survive, but I don't know, I'll have so much other tree work left which I can't handle that this was one of those things I could do something about, so I cut all those 2-story high branches off at about the 6 foot high range. I wanted to be able to walk through that area, underneath the mountain laurel and a nearby rhododendron, and now I can again.

Many of the shrubs around my house are unusually tall. It's really a function of the out-of-control deer population here. Deer browse what they can reach up to about 4 feet high, and often kill a plant by doing that, so anything that does survive tends to do so by growing taller, not wider.

I also swept a lot of debris off the back brick patio. I finally have some beautiful green moss growing in between some of the bricks. It looks so attractive, and much better than all kinds of weeds. I am hoping to coax along that moss, becus it looks best. I have tried buttermilk in the past to encourage moss to grow, but it didn't seem to work.

Back to work tomorrow, to the contract job to see if they fix my mac computer problem. Not really looking forward to it but will do it.

Going for another $200

November 26th, 2011 at 12:37 am

I just redeemed my Citi Dividend CC points for a $200 check. Should have it next week, just in time for Xmas! Smile (Actually, it won't be spent on Xmas but will go straight into my checking account to pay for the usual bills. Nothing sexy, but it works for me.)

My next card will be a Citi Diamond Preferred, for another $200 bonus, thanks very much!!

Met The Author at a local coffee shop this afternoon so she could tell me all about her meeting with an agent. The agent asked her to bring an edited version of the first 40 pp or so of her second book and do a reading to her and 2 other agents.

So she's having me do that editing. Smile I still have about 30 pp. to go with her 1st book, but the 2nd book is more contemporary (takes place in the 60s) and I think will have wider appeal, and the agent reacted very favorably to what she read her so far.

So more work coming from her, which is very nice.

Tomorrow's supposed to be as beautiful as it was today (what a sunset) so I'll be doing guessed it, tree cleanup. That plus trying to edit those last 30 pp.

As it turned out, I couldn't continue with the contract job directory update becus the mac computer they gave me to take home on Wednesday was giving me problems. Well, not the Mac, but the Quark program would not allow me to open it up without getting a message that I had to "activate" Quark (by phone or online, no idea what that's about) and that if I didn't, then I would only be using Quark in demo mode and none of my work would be saved. Sure enough, after working for about 2 hours Wednesday afternoon after I ignored that message, my work was lost.

It's pretty annoying. I mean, I have to assume that the equipment provided me is going to be in working order. It's really not my job, and certainly not my forte, to be troubleshooting their computers. I had been eager to get off to a running start, and now this.

I was emailing my contacts at the employer back and forth, though i got the idea they didn't want to be bothered with it over a holiday weekend. (Neither did I, quite frankly.) But I was afraid that if I couldn't fix it (I couldn't, after running a disk utility repair and doing some other stuff), they might say well, then you have to come into the office every day to do the work. For many reasons, I'd rather work at home. But anyway, we agreed I'd come back on Monday with the computer to see if she could troubleshoot it. So there's still hope. Provided the mac gives them the same "activate" message it kept giving me.

I made a pretty good pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving family dinner, but it would have benefited from being beaten by a regular mixer. (I mixed the cream cheese by hand, not easy.) I never replaced my old hand mixed several years ago when I sold it in a garage sale for a few bucks. There was nothing wrong with it, but it was SO old (like 30 years) that I didn't feel comfortable using it. So first I asked for one for Xmas, but then we all decided to really go easy this Xmas money-wise, since none of us has a lot of $$ this year. We put a $10 limit on gifts. This, after many years of excess, a legacy of my dear grandparents who spoiled us all.

My grandmother for years had a gold heart in her jewelry box. It had some angels engraved on it and 3 rubies. She was always fond of telling me the 3 rubies stood for the 3 most important people in the world to her: her husband, her daughter and her 2 grandchildren. (I guess she counted me and my sister as one.) Today, I have that heart in my jewelry box, and sometimes I wear it.

Back to the mixer....So then I realized that by grouping together 3 small Amazon gift cards I'd earned by participating in an online forum, that I could pay in full for a Sunbeam electric hand mixer with a retractable cord for $21, shipping included. It got extremely high reviews.

I do have a blender, but I find that if there's not much liquid in what you're blending, the food all gets jammed in the bottom and you run the risk of blowing out your motor. My small-sized Cuisinart, well, i seldom use it cus it only holds about a cup or two. I also have a whaddya call it, the long, thin gadget you use in soups and smoothies. I don't think its motor would be powerful enough to handle everything, like cream cheese. I don't bake often, so I didn't want anything fancier, or more expensive than the little Sunbeam.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2011 at 01:27 pm

I look forward to this holiday more than any, me thinks, though this year Thanksgiving has been kind of a blip on my radar.

I started the new contract job Monday, worked 3 days in their office and now have brought home their Mac to do the rest of the work here.

So, if you're curious...It's a small publisher, I'm guessing maybe 25 people? Or maybe there are more, but they're just working at home, too. They're located in a very small, rural town in the woods off a little side road, in a clearing next to a white steepled church. A quaint setting. The two story building must have been either a grand single family home at one time or possibly the parsonage to the church. Inside, it has a grand spiral staircase, but aside from that, the place is really dumpy. Everything looks like circa 1940s. Though of course, if my employer asked me, would you rather have us fix the place up or get a raise, you know what my answer would be.

The work itself requires extreme focus and is very detail-oriented. There are a million pieces of information you check or update within a single listing, and there are little rules about how to deal with each one, along with style guidelines about punctuation, etc.

Plus I was working on a Mac, which I did at my last job, but which I largely forgot. Also using Quark, which I don't know at all unless you count looking over a designer's shoulder.

So it was very slow-going while i was at the office, but yesterday afternoon when i worked at home, my productivity greatly improved.

They want you to find the right balance between accuracy and thoroughness on the one hand, and speed, becus it's an annual directory that must be done before year's end. They don't want you spending too much time searching for elusive info on a magazine website, so at some point you need to move on.

There was another contract person who started same day as me and i was a little puzzled becus she seemed to have few questions and seemed to just steam ahead without much problem. I know she had a Mac at home, but even then, I don't think that accounted totally for her doing better. I was questioning tons of things becus there seemed to be exceptions to many guidelines they gave us and there were all sorts of scenarios that would change the way you dealt with something.

But anyway. AT first i was wondering if I could stick it out, or even if they might let me go. Now I feel better about it...maybe becus I already earned $230.

My goal is still to work as many hours as possible in as short a time as possible (to make the loss of unemployment benefits worthwhile).

So today is a gorgeous sunny day. While I'm going to my mother's at noonish, I'm torn between putting in a few more hours at work before and after, OR doing more tree work. (The town still hasn't picked up the storm damage.)

I guess I'll do some more contract work this a.m. since it's a little chilly outside, then maybe after coming back from Tgiving, doing an hour or so of tree work, then more contract work.

I just hope I stay healthy. The woman training me at the job was coming down with a cold and the last thing I need is to get sick. Productivity,out the window. And she was touching my keyboard, my mouse and everything, driving me nuts, cus I'm a bit of a germaphobe.

I guess that's about it.

My focus has been, and will continue to be, the contract work and clearing more tree damage from the yard up until the point they pick it all up. (It's a one-time thing as my town doesn't usually pick up anything except recycling. The early winter storm was a huge anomaly and to qualify for federal grant monies, the town had to agree to help homeowners clean up the storm damage.)

I made a pumpkin cheesecake yesterday and i don't think it came out that well. I don't have a mixer and i think that's largely the problem, plus I cut sugar from 1 cup to 3/4 of a cup, which i guess i shouldn't had.

Every time I look at the calendar, I'm shocked that I still don't have a f/t job by this time. And I wonder how long I can go, scrambling to make a few dollars at these low-paying contract jobs and the more occasional, though better-paying, freelance work I do, plus the brain-draining online surveys and the occasional focus group/research study.

More minutiae

November 21st, 2011 at 03:07 am

I'm rather surprised, but I got just about everything done today that I wanted.

1. Made a tray of lasagna for this week's lunches at new job.

2. Also made a delicious cranberry rice pudding in slow cooker. Really yummy and oh so easy. Recipe calls for coconut milk.

3. Cut and cleared and dragged to the curb even more fallen tree limbs. There's more to do, but this was basically the last day to do it since I won't have time once I start the job tomorrow. Plus, the town was supposed to pick it all this past Thursday/Friday/Saturday, which they didn't, so I have to assume they'll be here very soon, if not tomorrow. But the delay in pick-up gave me even more time to get more debris out of my yard. (If only I had 3 months to do the rest...)

4. A friend called unexpectedly and invited himself over to see if he could help me install a new doorknob/lock on my basement/garage door. He got it in, but said it's basically a cheap fixture that may or may not hold together. It's an exact duplicate of a previous door knob that jammed up on and prevented me from unlocking the door. It actually had to be pried open. I complained to the manufacturer and they gave me the new one for free. But anyway, at least now i can use that door normally.

5. I wrote the latest press release and sent that off to the real estate company, and I realized re-reading an email from Friday that they wanted me to send out another press release I was holding. So I did both those things.

6. Also did more editing of the book. I now have just 32 pages left. The Author, who has been looking for an agent for a while now, has gotten to know one agent who asked her to do a reading from one of her books at the next meeting with other writers. The Author wasn't sure which book to read from, so she sent me the draft of the 2nd book, which is much more contemporary than the 1st book that I've been editing, so I encouraged her to read the 2nd. It would likely have greater appeal to a wider audience than a Southern romance novel. Anyway, she said in one of her emails that she will only have me edit her books and that she feels blessed to have met me. Smile She's very happy with my work.

So I guess I'm ready for tomorrow. Don't have to be there til 10 a.m. this first day, so I can stick to my usual morning routine.

When my friend was over here, he showed me his new color Kindle, which I guess just came out. What interested me was that he's not really using the Kindle to read books. He's using it to access email and the Internet by taking advantage of free Wi-fi at the library, Starbucks, etc. Although I just sent him a site,, where you can download FREE books. Anyway, he got me interested in a Kindle, though can't buy it now. I think he said it was $200. I liked it becus like him, I don't want to have to start paying a monthly fee for internet access....don't think i'd use the kindle enough to justify that. But it would be fun to have.

Chug chug chug

November 20th, 2011 at 02:19 am

I'm chuggin' along. Nothing terribly exciting.

Every day for the past 4 or 5 days I've been doing tree work, as much as I can, before the town crews come by to pick up the debris and then I have to figure out how to dispose of the storm damage myself.

So I've been pushing myself hard, and it seems like every muscle in my body aches. I've got to take a photo of the piles at the street.

When I'm not cutting up tree branches, I've been uber-editing The Author's book. I have about 35 pp. to go. I would love to have it DONE before I start the contract job on Monday, becus I want nothing to take my time away from that job, and by rights, I should have The Author's book editing done before year's end too.

I mentioned not getting paid for 2 jobs I invoiced end of September at my favorite/oldest client. I finally had to get on the phone with Accounting, and she told me they didn't have those invoices. Eventually, my contact at the company said no, that's not true, a different person in Accounting had it. Anyway, they're supposed to cut the checks on Tuesday.

I also finally got the $50 check from Global Test Market. It came from Vancouver, no wonder it took so long. I've got to see if they use Paypal. What a breeze getting payments is with Paypal.

Also in the $$ Department, I was pleased as punch to get a check for $175 for my day as a poll worker, when the town had told me originally I'd only be paid $140.

Sometime this week (I hope) i should be getting a $25 Sears gift card, which i want to use to buy a 50 lb. bag of black oil sunflower seed for the birds. I shopped around and this is a very good price. It's a hobby, but it's hard to justify any kind of discretionary money these days, but I will allow myself to use a gift card. Smile

I have another press release to write, preferably this weekend, again, becus i want to clear my plate for the new job.

I checked in with the big financial services firm I interviewed with early November. They're still interviewing. I don't know how many people they might be seeing, but if it's, say, 8 people, my chances are rather small, even with my great qualifications.

I've been in touch with the UConn research assistant to schedule my final 2 visits in December, which will mean one more payment of $150. I'll be glad to wrap that up. Onward and upward.

I wish I could say I was going to relax and enjoy my Sunday, but no, it will be rather busy. At least I did 3 loads of laundry today. But tomorrow, I must:
1. Go to Costco
2. Go to Shop Rite for Thanksgiving Day food
3. Make a tray of lasagna so i have something to eat for lunch all week long at the new job
4. Make a cranberry/rice pudding in the slow cooker using a recipe i've been wanting to try
5. More book editing
6. More tree work
7. Fill up the car's gas tank.

My inner 12-year-old is alive and well

November 18th, 2011 at 12:32 am

OK, so the very first time I was pubished was when I was 12 years old. A magazine had a competition for young authors, and I won!

I waited patiently for the check in mail. When, after 3 days, it didn't arrive, I fired off an angry letter to the editor saying, "Where's my money??"

Believe it or not, I still have the handwritten letter the editor wrote back to me. (I will have it framed someday, along with the magazine story.) He started off the letter by writing, "Hold your horses."

Hmmm. Seems I'm still repeating the words, "Where's my money?" a lot lately.

AFter waiting seven weeks for payment on 2 old invoices sent last September, I finally called Accounting of one of my clients on the phone. She indicated she had no record of my invoices. Which means the gal who told me ages ago to forward my invoices to her for speedier payment, let the ball slip. And I had JUST sent her an email about this matter a week ago. She then wrote back cheerfully, "I'll make sure your payment goes out in next week's batch."

I sent her a note again requesting her to FORWARD MY INVOICES SO I CAN GET PAID. I mean, if I were a somewhat larger enterprise, it might be different, but as a solo practitioner, I have a select few clients, including this one, and I count on the income from them! I can't tell you how annoyed and put out I am. I wait, wait and wait some more only to learn she didn't forward to invoices to accounting. But I have to be careful what I say becus she gives me a lot of business.

It says "Net 30" right on my invoice but they routinely ignore that. I could start adding late payment interest, but I'm guessing they'd just ignore that too. I really have no way of enforcing timely payment; i have to play by their rules. Grr.

Also still waiting for a $50 check from Global Test Market of the online survey world. Sent then an email about it today.

Also overdue is an Amazon gift card from an online crdit card forum I particpate in.

Where's my money??

Today's accomplishments:
* Edited at least 30 pp of The Author's book
* Sawed and dragged a few more tree limbs to the curb, but it was raw and rainy out, so didn't spent too much time doing this.
* Sent off a completed survey to use and comment on a retailer website in order to qualify for a $25 Amazon gift card.

OH, I forgot to add: I got the contract job working thru year's end (about 6 weeks, f/t) for the small publisher updating one of their annual directories. I start on Monday. But get this: Using an online net pay calculator, I figured that if I work a 40-hour week, I'll only net about $135 more a month than I would from my regular unemployment benefits. Hardly worth it, except that it does stretch my unemployment since it's suspended while I work. So I'll do it.

However, she welcomed me working over 40 hrs if i wanteed, and i figured that if i work just an extra 10 hours a week (50 hours total), my net would be $572 more a month than unemployment. Not sure why there's such a discrepancy between 40 and 50 hours, but that's what I'll aim to do. I will stop doing the online surveys and editing The Author's book so that all available free time can be spent, these next few weeks, on the new contract job to maximize my profit. Luckily, everything but the first week will be work at home, so i don't have to spend money on gas.And it will be easier to work longer if I can just roll out of bed and into my desk chair.

With this in mind, I've spent all day on The Author's book and already sent her a big section I finished. I have about 65 pages to go in the book.

Good morning!

November 15th, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Sunrise at PatientSaver's place...

After all these years, I finally figured out how to turn the Auto Flash off on my Canon PowerShot.

This is a view from the front, shot through the window. If you look carefully at the large dark area below the trees, slightly to the right of center, you can make out the outlines of my neighbor's house.

The final countdown....

November 14th, 2011 at 01:09 pm

I made it through the night but as per usual, didn't sleep much. Of course, the OsmoPrep didn't help, although I would say the bulk (no pun intended) of my runs to the bathroom took place before 10 pm.

I thought I was doing ok with not having eaten since yesterday morning until I caught myself looking longingly at the cat food bowls on the floor. Friskies Gourmet Grill, anyone?

I had planned on running to the post office to mail something this morning, before I started with the 2nd stage of the prep, but I think not. My stomach's still making all sorts of wierd complaints from having taken those horse pills at 5 pm yesterday.

I have to occupy myself until 12:20 pm when my neighbor comes to pick me up. The procedure's not til 2 but i have to be there at 1.

I am very pleased with the progress I made on tree cleanup yesterday. I mostly dispatched with that apple tree limb except for a roughly 10 foot long piece of the main limb, which is about 8 inches diameter. It's so exhausting trying to cut limbs of that size with my bow saw, and it's probably a distance of about 200 feet to the curb, but it occurred to me that I should work smarter, not harder. Meaning, I can scroung around for a rope in my garage and fasten a slip note round one end of the tree. I think it would be easier to throw that rope over my shoulder, and drag it, wearing gloves, across the lawn rather than carrying it. I do also have a wheelbarrow, but that only works with much smaller pieces of wood or it would just tip over.

So, next chance i get, I'll try that. As soon as I research how to tie a slip knot. Smile

I took a bag full of cat hair, collected mostly from cutting Luther's long fur this summer in an effort to keep him cool, and, after cleaning out the old wren's nest in one of my bluebird boxes, I put all the fur in there. I've often seen birds shelter in the nest boxes during the coldest parts of winter, and that soft fur would really help keep those birdies warm.

Uh oh, gotta run.

The fast begins

November 13th, 2011 at 02:03 pm

Ugh. I have a colonscopy tomorrow...(too much information???)

I had one just 2 years ago, but I did such a bad prep, the doc said, I have to repeat. The problem was, I was drinking that awful stuff the day before. Managed to get it down. Then, the morning of the procedure, I had another quart to drink of it and I Just. Could. Not. Get. It. Down. I was actually gagging on it.

So I gave up trying, and I guess the results showed.

This time around, instead of the chalky thick liquid, I got some horse pills to take with lots of water. Yesterday I started with a bottle of over the counter laxative. I guess becus my procedure is not until 2 pm tomorrow afternoon, I was allowed to have a breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast. I had eggs over easy and butter on my toast. Hope that's not a problem.

Yesterday, I know I goofed. I had some delicious Trader Joe's Rustico Bread which had seeds in it, and strawberry jam with seeds on top of that. I just wasn't thinking. Oh well.

I freaked out a little becus in yesterday's mail I got a letter from the place where I'm having the colonscopy and they said "as a courtesy to you," we called your insurer to verify your coverage and we were able to confirm you're subject to a $2,000 deductible. What??????? When I called my insurer, they said colonscopies were 100% covered and NOT subject to deductible or even a copay. (That's the only reason why I'm doing this now and not waiting until I have a job.)

Of course, I learned that was not entirely true becus i had to pay $43 for the prep. And now this letter. Then, later in the letter, in bold print, is a statement saying that they don't have access to information about certain riders that would waive your deductible. My insurance manual categorizes an annual colonscopy after age 50 as "health and wellness" that's 100% covered.

So why the heck send the letter out to patients? It just causes lots of confusion. If you only get part of the info, what good is it?? I think the purpose of the letter is not so much "a courtesy" to patients as much as it is to make sure you understand they will be coming to you for payment, insurance or no insurance. I will certainly let them know what I think of their letter. I'm so tired of everything being about money these days. And healthcare providers make great efforts in their PR and advertising to appear warm and caring, but really, a letter like this is pretty transparent. They just want their money. It's a business, like any other.

So, the last few days I've spent at least an hour daily working on cutting up and dragging tree limbs down to the curb. I have multiple large piles taller than me growing there. Pick-up is Thursday and I'll be out of commission tomorrow, so I'm trying to make the most of my time beforehand, becus after that, I'll be on my own as to disposal of the mess around here.

I've made good progress in the front yard and mainly have the large apple tree limb that came down. I don't know if I'll get to the back yard, which has 2 full-sized trees down and 2 other limbs that are just as large. We do what we can do.

In addition to doing more tree work today, I'd also like to do more editing for The Author (we met at a local coffee shop on Friday and she gave me another payment, plus a small pot of daisies to thank me for being patient with her her late payment), prep for my interview Tuesday at the publisher and make a few phone calls.

Tomorrow a.m., if hunger doesn't turn my brain to mush, before my procedure I want to try to interview someone on the phone for an assignment I got on Friday. I imagine I'll just want to relax Monday afternoon without any mental focus required.

My oldest client is late again in paying me $437 for some work I billed out on Sept. 30. I hate that they make a sole proprietor wait so long for their money. If might be different if I were a larger enterprise with multiple income streams, but I'm a solo practitioner with a select number of clients. So pay me already!

Some good news

November 10th, 2011 at 08:59 pm

A few months back I applied for a perm job at a publisher that helps writers get published with courses, instruction and a variety of books and catalogs.

I got an email this a.m. from the editor in chief, who told me that while they filled the perm job (rats) she wondered if I'd be interested in a temporary, 5 to 6 week assignment writing and updating listings for a directory they do of magazines that accept freelance writer submissions.

I said "of course" and she called me a few minutes later, telling me that was the fastest anyone had ever responded to one of her emails. Smile

She told me a bit about the job, just writing and doing a little research to update listings for an annual directory they sell. She said that after working on-site for about a week, I could probably work at home after that.

We arranged to meet this Tuesday. She sounded like it wasn't so much an interview as it was a meeting to show me in greater details what I'd be doing. Smile Although she didn't tell me what they'd pay yet. I hope it's more than $10 an hour. I really have no idea how to price temporary jobs like this. But hey, it's work.

(Note: I predict it's about $12/hr. I'll let you know on Tuesday how close I am to what it actually is.)

I'm sort of wondering what I would do if I took this temp job and then next week I hear back from the big financial services company that I got that perm job. Obviously, the perm job would be top priority, but i wouldn't want to give the shaft to the publisher either and leave them hanging midway through that job as it's the kind of place where I could see myself getting more work down the road if i needed/wanted it. (Don't like to burn bridges.) I guess I'll deal with it if it happens. I don't know if i could tell the perm job place that I couldn't start there for a full 5 weeks, and i think the temp job place would expect me to work f/t until that job was done. While I would be willing to do that job on the weekends, it wouldn't be enough to keep up with a 5-day-a-week pace.

It's not rocket science, but if I did a good job with this, I would hope they would call on me for other projects.

You never know when something's going to fall into your lap. Just when you despair of ever getting anything remotely "regular" again. I was surprised she chose to call me, and then I retrieved my original cover letter to them and remembered that I (smartly) highlighted the fact that I once worked for a boutique publisher (now out of business) that specialized in financial publications. Although it never felt like a publishing company to me because we spent so much time doing newsletters and conferences as well.

So I am psyched. Best case scenario would be if they could deduct taxes out of my paycheck and treat me like a part-time employee instead of as a contractor. It would save me from having to pay self-employment taxes on the income, but more importantly, it would help boost my overall earnings for the year should the Dept. of Labor have to recalculate my benefits. There are so many "tiers" of benefits I've lost track of where I stand and they may well have to recalculate at some point.

It's also fairly local. It's just a 25-minute drive on back roads all the way. And I love work at home stuff...let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

In other news, my body is aching all over. I learned from reading Patch online that the town will be going around to pick up all the tree limb debris caused by the snowstorm last week. They don't usually do this, but it will be a huge help so I don't have to worry about dragging it to a far corner of the yard or having to haul it to the dump in my teeny Civic myself. However, I will still need to drag stuff down to the curb and becus it's woodsy in front of my house, I have actually very little space to lay the tree limbs down.

But I dragged a bunch down to the road this morning for about an hour. I managed to clear all the stuff that was sitting in my driveway and other stuff, too, but it's just a tiny FRACTION of the mess in my yard, eveyrwhere you look.

They will be picking up the stuff a week from today, so it behooves me to get as many tree limbs down to the street as possible before then, becus after that, I'll be on my own.

I already know I'll still be stuck with dealing with at least 2 full size trees that came down. I'll have to pay to have them cut up and since i don't want to spend the money now, they'll sit where they are. But there's tons of other stuff, including a very large apple tree branch I'd love to get rid of before the snow flies. Plus tons of white pine branches.

I was able to spend some time today editing The Author's novel. I let it go for quite a while, but we're walking together tomorrow, and i think she'll be giving me a check, so I'd like to have this next section done fairly soon. I have another 30 pages or so to go.

Tonight I'm going to another free dinner/lecture on reverse mortgages. My friend's picking me up in another hour or so for that.

Working as an Election Day poll worker

November 9th, 2011 at 02:15 pm

My day started at 4:30 am yesterday when the alarm clock went off. I raced around to get dressed, feed the cats and so on, and then was out the door to arrive at the middle school by 5:15 am.

There were about 15 of us running District 1 polling center. Four of us were assigned as "checkers." The voter lists are organized by street name, and they divided up the alphabeticized lists among us. The voters step up and you just locate them on the list, check their ID (almost always a driver's license), cross them off the list and hand them a ticket to proceed to the ballot clerk who gives them the ballot.

It was a long, 15-hour day. Polls were open from 6 am to 8 pm. The checker sitting to my left was a senior citizen who was very chatty and kept up a running dialogue with me for the entire day. He's a retired schoolteacher who's very active in town, from the book club to Lions Club to his church.

The checker to my right was a young gal who, i found out, is a schoolbus driver. The other checker was a senior who, like me, thought this might be fun to do. She brought a full crock pot of pasta fazool (not sure of spelling), which was my lunch and dinner. It was a hot meal. There was also fruit and croissants, tea and coffe, and 1 voter gave us all girl scout cookies, which i thought was very nice.

I was a little surprised that there weren't more unemployed people like me taking advantage of a chance to earn some money. There were just 2 other middle aged women working the polls, plus 1 gal in her 20s and 1 teen. The rest were seniors.

I personally checked in about 400 voters. I enjoyed seeing the faces of my fellow hometowners, from all walks of life, doing their patriotic duty. There was the president of the local savings bank. (Bankers are always the nicest dressed.) Some very handsome cops. (For their security, their names are listed on the very last page of the list, I guess so they don't have to show their ID or reveal their ID among the public. You point to their name and say is your name on this list. A little extreme, perhaps?)

A number of other well-to-do businesspeople,rushed or distracted, the hard-working folks with dirt under their fingernails and splattered paint on their blue jeans. The moms with kids in tow. The couple I saw walking in, holding hands. A number of teens who were voting for the very first time with a parent accompanying them! Smile The seniors...It all kind of warmed my heart. This was the face of my town, and I was very proud to be a part of it.

It was fun to greet and recognize neighbors, acquantances and others I knew in town. Truth be told, I never thought I knew that many in my town, but I guess there are a few. The husband of the woman I often see walking her beagles invited me to "stop in sometime." I was flattered that he remembered my name, and then I realized I was wearing a name tag. Smile Then, embarrasingly, the talky checker to my left was checking in my one next-door neighbor with whom I DON'T get along (lots of noise issues) and the checker, who knew i lived on the same street as that neighbor, said, Oh look, patientsaver, this could be one of your neighbors, and i kind of kept my head down and said, he IS my neighbor. We don't get along at all, so i didn't want the guy to make a comment or something. (He didn't.) I've never really spoken to him, but it's his wife and his son that i've had dealings with. I also said hello to the contractor who built my sunroom. I saw in the paper that his wife,just 44, unexpectedly died a few weeks ago. I heard him telling the checker next to me that her name should be taken off the list and in fact, it already had been removed. I felt really bad for him and wanted to say something, but this was not the time to do that.

There were a LOT of people (like 1 out of 6) who showed up at our location only to learn (becus they weren't on our lists) that they were in the wrong location and should be voting at another school. Some were a little upset about that and some just walked out the door without checking at the moderator's table where they were supposed to go; they probably weren't going to bother.

The problem is that the local newspaper indicated where voters in each district were to go to vote, but they didn't state which streets were in each district. So if you only vote once a year, or less often, it's easy to see how a lot of people don't remember or don't know which district they belong to. It was a major kink in the system and I made a point to tell the registrar in the hope they make sure it's spelled out better next time.

It was a gorgeous day outside, in the 60s, like spring in November. I did slip out to walk around the school twice. The VNA was doing flu shots next door, so on impulse i stepped inside becus there was no line. They assured me that if i gave my insurer info later (I didn't have the card with me) the shot would be free, no co-pay, so i went ahead and got the shot, which i hadn't been planning on doing this year due to cost.

I was a little surprised that, given that most of the volunteer poll workers were seniors, that they didn't do more to make the long day a little easier. It might have been helpful if they let us rotate shifts mid-way through the day. They did have 2 "floaters" whose job it was to sit in for anyone who needed a meal break or restroom break, but none of us ever let a floater sit in for us for more than 15 minutes or so.

Anyway, it's now filed under my "Interesting Life Experiences" file. I should get my $140 in a few weeks time, and that could pay pay for my electric, phone, Internet and water bill this month.

In other shocking news, I learned through The Author that my sometime handyman was arrested and briefly jailed for lack of bond. He went to the police station to complain about some sort of unrelated harrassment when the cop he was talking to in the parking lot noticed a rifle/firearm in his truck. It was loaded, my handyman was arrested for that and becus they found some pot in his possession as well.

Geez. Makes me a wee bit nervous about using the handyman again. He's always been super nice to me, but i know from our last conversation he's beenhaving some serious $ troubles due to owing the town $12K in back property taxes. He often seems depressed to me and always very serious. I don't think i can remember ever having seen him laugh. He's the one i wrote about earlier, always struggling for $. Yet he feeds and befriends feral cats who live in the woods near his cottage.

A quiet day at Lake Wobegon but still got stuff accomplished...

November 7th, 2011 at 08:52 pm

It's a pretty quiet day, work-wise, so I went this a.m. to my mother's to collect the rest of my refrigerated food that I'd left there after the snowstorm. I also stopped at Stop & Shop for a few things.

Twice today I worked in the yard, cutting up big fallen branches (from the storm) and dragging them to a corner of my yard where you'd never see them. I worked about an hour each time. It's very tiring. I use only my little bow saw and a wood ladder I dragged under the crabapple tree. Work gloves are essential cus there's all kind of sap from the white pine, and I already wore holes in one pair of suede gloves.

Then I mowed just a portion of the backyard, to mulch up a bunch of fallen leaves.

Tomorrow, Election Day, I'll be working from 5:15 am to 8 pm at night, for just $140. Better than nothing, but it will be a very long day, and that's the chief reason I'm not looking forward to something I might otherwise quasi-enjoy.

I have to bring my lunch and dinner, or run out to get something quickly. I guess I'll make a tuna or chicken salad and bring a banana and then wing it from there. If I'm lucky, other poll workers will bring a crock pot full of something. Smile

I'm having a colonscopy on Monday, so I also stopped at CVS to fill the prescription for the meds. Very annoyed that my insurer didn't cover it and I had to pay $40 for it. They tell you a colonscopy is 100% covered, but they neglect to tell you they consider the meds/prep as separate, even though you could never have a colonoscopy without it.)

This Thursday begins the countdown of restricted foods. I had a lot of trouble 2 years ago drinking the prep stuff, so this time i got a presecription of pills you just take with water, lots of water, plus i have to drink a whole bottle (10 oz) of magnesium citrate on Saturday. Oh boy, I hope I can handle this. I got lots of jello, organic chicken broth and apple juice for the liquid fast when I was at S&S.

I did a load of laundry and am trying to tidy up around here. For some reason, the mess got really out of hand for the actually 7 (not 6) days i was without power. Just too cold to do anything except go under the blankets.

Not much else to report. I did my October expense report and my expenses exceeded income by about $300, mainly due to my homeowner's insurance. (It's always something.)

Oh, I also vacuumed the upstairs, and did something I rarely do. I dragged the bed away from the wall so I could vaccuum in back of it and underneath it. It was a mess. I did it becus i noticed my older cat is still breathing kind of heavy, as if his allergies are bothering him. I know there's nothing outside now, so perhaps it's all the dust in the house. I tend to let the vaccuuming get away from me...often. So after the thorough vaccuuming, I also ran my expensive, energy-efficient air purifier, which I rarely use, but which is nice to have. (hmmm)

The thought occurred to me that i've got a lot of stuff in my kitchen cabinets that i rarely, if ever use, and i never have enough storage space. So I hauled out my well-used "set it and forget it" rotisserie chicken oven and i think i'll get rid of it. It works fine, but there's one thing i really hate about it: it's very difficult to clean, and you can spend a half hour scrubbing all the assorted parts. I don't know, I'm getting tired of that sort of thing, and i don't like handling raw meat much anyway. So if i have a craving for rotisserie chicken, I think I'll just pick one up already cooked at the grocery store and save myself the cleanup. And give myself a bit more storage space.

The critters tonight will have a feast, if they discover the food I put out for them. I decided I really didn't like the whole wheat and golden raisin loaf I'd baked, although I did eat the muffin versions. There was also some uneaten cat food and some red grapes in there. I like to feed the animals, especially in winter.

There was a woman I knew, she was actually one of the original group of people who developed the atom bomb, believe it or not, I met her when a group of Sierra Club board members met at my boyfriend's house in NY when I was living with him years ago. My boyfriend served as chairman or whatever the title was, of that particular chapter for a number of years, and so they all met at our house. The Manhattan Project, that was the name of the group the woman worked in.... Anyway she used to like to put out all sorts of food scraps for the critters on her back porch which was illuminated by a light and after a while the animals lost their fear of the light and they'd be scrapping with each other for all this food. Raccoons, skunks, possums, you name it. She was a pretty serious would have been interesting to talk to her then about her earlier career, but i suppose it was all top secret anyway.