Home > Archive: November, 2012

Archive for November, 2012

The credit card games are about to begin again

November 30th, 2012 at 12:26 am

I've been laying low for a few months on the credit card rewards games. The last card I got was Citi Forward, a few months ago; it's paying for a year's worth of Netflix, and I occasionally charge something on it to make sure it remains active.

However, I just realized something very important! It's something I never knew before when I still was paying my mortgage all these years because the bank also handled my property tax payments for me through an escrow account.

Since having paid off the mortgage this past summer, I now, for the first time, get the property tax bill directly from the town. It no longer goes to my morgage bank. I took a look at the 2nd half of my property tax payment that is due January 1, and I see in tiny print that I can indeed pay my property tax with a credit card!

There is a convenience fee, and I haven't checked to see what that is yet, but I certainly think it would be worth it to cash in on a juicy rewards card. My upcoming payment, which represents half my annual property taxes, is $3300, more than enough to earn some nice rewards, or a good leg up to reach for some of the bigger spending requirements on some of the cards.

I don't have any airline travel in my near future, so free airline miles don't appeal. I am leaning toward the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from Amex.

You get 25,000 points ($250 in gift cards) after spending $5,000 in 6 months. After charging my property taxes, I'd only have to charge $1700 more, and I'd have 6 months to do it. Since I managed (with difficulty) to charge $2,000 in 3 months with the Amex Premier Rewards card, this shouldn't be too difficult.

There is an annual fee ($65) after the first year, so I'd need to watch it like a hawk and cancel before that first year is up.

If you know of a sweeter deal, I want to hear about it!

On the health front, I started taking Prednisone today after seeing the doctor AGAIN. She believes my initial infection is gone but the ears remain clogged, and the Prednisone SHOULD bring them back to normal as quickly as a day and a half. LET'S HOPE SO. I made an appointment with an ear nose and throat specialist but cancelled it to give the Prednisone a try. It may restore my faith in my APRN.

There's a couple who live in the house behind me up on the hill that I really like. I'm very sad because after living here about 10 years, they plan to move and put their house on the market in March. They are the nicest people. They had me over for a hot meal during our extended power outage/Hurricane Sandy. They have to move becus her husband lost his job and their house, which is huge and was in the middle of renovations, is too much to keep up, especially with the inflated property taxes.

She also is out of work but recently picked up a low paying, but f/t here in town. She hopes to use the income from it to complete their home renovations and ready the house for market. Their plan is to move to Tennessee and buy a smaller home with cash. I will be very sad to see them go. Good neighbors are not always easy to find.

Sick of being sick

November 23rd, 2012 at 05:30 pm

Well, I didn't want to be a complete downer, so I refrained from posting yesterday when I was having a little pity party.

No Thanksgiving for PatientSaver; she was too sick to do anything and so my family 'cancelled' the holiday until further notice.

It was last Friday (a week ago) when I dragged myself to my doctor's office and my APRN prescribed an antibiotic. I called her 3 days later, on Monday night, complaining that I really didn't feel much better. She said I hadn't given it enough time, to give the meds another day or two.

Well, another "day or two" was Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and by the time I thought to call her back when I STILL wasn't feeling better, their office had already closed for the long weekend.

So I basically was crossing my fingers all week and hoping and waiting for the drugs to really kick in. They never really did. Well, most of my worst symptoms (the earache, fever, chills and nighttime cough that wouldn't quit) are gone, but my ears are still completely muffled, and have been, since last Wednesday.

I spoke this morning to a friend of a friend who is a retired emergency room nurse. She suggested going to a walk-in clinic rather than simply waiting another 3 days til my doctor's office reopens. I have to agree.

I found a clinic in a nearby town and went there this morning. The waiting room was packed with very sick people, all of whom, I presume, were in the same fix I was in: their normal doctor's offices were closed for the holiday.

I saw the guy and he prescribed a different antibiotic (amoxicilin, 875 mg) and Sudafed for the muffled ears. Another 10 days worth.

It wasn't til i was walking to my car that i realized by reading the paperwork that the guy i saw wasn't even a doctor: he's a Physician's Assistant! I sure hope he knows what he's prescribing, becus at this point, I don't feel I can mess around with my health any longer.

At the least, they should tell you in advance if you're not going to see a real doctor.

I've already lost 2 full weeks of work from 2 p/t jobs, work that I won't be able to make up. I haven't calculated it becus it's too depressing, but it's probably at least $600 I've lost in income this month, not to mention another $100 in doctors' bills and meds.

T-giving was a non-event. All around pretty depressing.

Still sick (moan and groan)

November 19th, 2012 at 11:53 pm

I am still feeling pretty sick and only slightly improved since I started taking antibiotics Friday night. I started getting concerned about possibly having a drug-resistant bug, so I called the doc's office today and just got a call-back from her.

She said it was still too soon for me to really be feeling a positive effect from the meds and it would be a few more days. Keep hydrated and stay the course, she said.

So oh well. I'll have been sick a full week as of tomorrow. What a waste in so many ways.

The 2 most bothersome things are 1. The infection is squarely located in my middle ear and my hearing is totally clogged in both ears, to the point where I can barely hear the phone ring. And 2. When I lay down to sleep at night, I start coughing within minutes and cannot stop coughing. The only thing that helps is sitting up in bed and waiting for it to pass, but then as soon as I lay down again, it starts again. This continues all night long. The funny thing is, I've been laying in bed all day without coughing. It's only at night.

I did get 2 deliveries of groceries from dear mom in the past few days, but she got each of the "orders" partly wrong, and I will be returning a good portion of each bag of groceries. I asked for soup and she got me soup at an expensive grocery store called Caraluzzi's where the 4 cans of soup came to $16. Kind of a crazy price.

I also asked her specifically for cough medicine, but she wound up getting me a multi-symptom pill (non-drowsy formula) which is not really what I wanted. Oh well. There's a ton of product on the shelf and a lot to read, I guess.

I did also get 2 very nice emails from the guy whose book on business ethics I edited. It's possible he may be "interested" in me, or at least curious. He has, in fact, proposed we meet after the holiday. He's too old for me, I would say, although he's a few years younger than my friend Ron, who was one of my signficiant relationships when I was in my 20s. The age difference seemed to matter less then but now 12 years would be a kind of a yawning chasm. With this person, I think the age difference would be 9 years.

Anyway, he's managed to get a customized pitch out with the manuscript to 8 or so targeted textbook publishers. Now he's onto setting a closing date....this move into a very old home in a very good town nearby. And he's cooking T-giving dinner for his ex and 2 of 3 kids.

My accompishments today consisted of informing the billing company responsible for my mammogram that they billed the wrong insurance company. It took 3 phone calls to get to the right place, but I will be relieved not to be responsible for a $443 radiology charge! I also paid my phone/Internet bill online. I read the Sunday paper and I got my Amazon delivery that included 2 books, so I certainly have reading material now.

I have a feeling we're going to have to postpone our Thanksgiving dinner due to my illness.

Decided to bag the driving job

November 17th, 2012 at 10:58 pm

In the never-ending merry-go-round of random part-time jobs I've held in the past 3 years, I decided this morning to tell Jason next time I see him that I don't want to drive him anymore.

It will mean the loss of $510 monthly income, which is not insignificant in my budget, but I will have to somehow make up for that in other ways.

It's just gotten too tiring and the payoff is really borderline, once you subtract gas cost and wear and tear on my car. The latter is a biggie for me since I need my 13-year-old car to last me for a long, long time as replacement is out of the question at the present time.

Just to pick J. up and get him to work one time (and dropping the kids off at daycare) requires 75 minutes of driving by me, door to door. For that I earn $20. Multiply that by twice a day and you've got 2.5 hours of daily driving, albeit all local, on the same darn road. Even with a fuel-efficient Honda, I sure aren't getting rich.

Plus, now that the days are shorter, I am doing the entire afternoon drive home in the dark, always in heavy commuter traffic on a busy two-lane highway, with the headlights of SUVs and trucks in my eyes. Once I pick up the kids with him and drop them all off at home, it's back into the traffic once again to drive myself home. I'm really getting sick of this one road! Having to do all this during a snowstorm is really something I dread, especially the windy, hilly road that goes to his kids' daycare place.

He's not going to be happy about it, but I need to do this for my owny sanity. I'll give him 2 weeks to find someone else. I know so much about this guy just becus we often talk in the car, so I do wonder how he'll manage, and i feel bad for him, becus he is a super sweet guy who's really dealing with a lot of hardship right now (of his own doing, with the DUI) with everything he has to do, but bottom line is, i have to worry about me first. I did it for 4 months and now it's time for something better. I think it's the right decision.

Three pills into the antibiotics and still waiting for them to really kick in. The fever and earache's gone and I am feeling more energetic today, but my hearing is still completely muffled, I'm still hacking away with a cough and my nose is clogged. I've already wasted a week of my life on this and now I'm impatient to be better.

I am also feeling a little hungrier and for dinner I roasted my own sweet potato wedge fries in olive oil, salt and pepper. My "dessert" is a jarred container of Polar pear slices. Sort of reminescent of the fruit cocktail my grandmother would feed me as a child except that this is a much better quality fruit that is actually firm the way a pear should be. In a light syrup, but not overly sweet. They periodically go on sale at Shopt Rite for $1 each and I like them as a portable snack to go or just when I'm in the mood.

Being sick is a good way to lose weight!

November 16th, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Despite feeling miserable, I am sort of thrilled to see that I lost 5 pounds from being sick and am down to 140. Just 5 pounds away from what i weighed when I dated Dr. Bob.

It's not surprising since i've had no appetite and have skipped several meals in exchange for something simple and light...a lot of apples, for instance.

I caved today and was able to get the one remainining opening with my longtime APRN, who feels like a personal friend. She's the one who's seen me through the Lyme disease, the poison ivy, my physicals and of course, an untold number of nasty viruses and colds.

I was trying to tough it out without seeing her to save the $30+, but after a full week of being sick, I'm exhausted by sickness.

My ears have been pounding since Wednesday and everything is muffled. 100.5 fever, chills, cough, bellyache, congestion.

She was very certain that what I have is a bacterial infection (and thus, responsive to antibiotics) simply by dint of the length of time I've had it, but also, she said, "becus that's what it looks like."

When i told her the worst thing was the white noise in my ears and the earache I've had, and then she confirmed my complaint by looking in my ears, she got all excited and said, that's what makes my day! When the patient's complaint is borne out by clinical exam! (Or something to that effect.) She's funny.

She couldn't believe i had waited so long before seeing her, to save on the co-pay, and she even told me a back door way to get in to see her where she wouldn't have charged me a co-pay, she said, becus i'd just been to see her about a month ago for my Lyme disease.

Anyway, I popped a pill and am so anxious to start feeling better. she also gave me 2 nasal sprays (free samples) to help with the congestion.

I have to say I sort of blew up at the guy at Walgreen's. I'd been hacking away, beads of sweat on my face and all around feeling miserable hunched over in a corner chair at Walgreen's pharmacy waiting 20 minutes for the prescription even though other customers came and went. He informed they they were out of the drug and could only fill half of it and could i come back on monday to get the rest. I angrily suggested they deliver it and he quickly agreed when he saw how upset i was. I mean, they should do that as a matter of policy if they are out of medication. I did apologize for yelling at him, but i still feel bad becus he looked so startled. I may have to buy him a box of candy or something and apologize again when i'm better. I have very little patience sometimes; it's not something I'm proud of.

The people at the proofreading job, plus the other proofreader who I "share" the job with have been trying to help me out becus I didn't work at all this week due to being sick and I would miss most of my workdays next week due to the holiday plus Friday. The other gal offered to let me work her half of Wednesday so i could at least get one full day of work in that week. She didn't have to do that.

Ugg. Sick.

November 14th, 2012 at 06:07 pm

Bummer. I'm coming down with something. Symptoms aren't really bad yet, but I'm very tired and slept poorly the last few nights.

I had to drag myself out of bed to drive J. this morning. When I got back home around 9 am, there was a message waiting for me from proofreading job saying I didn't have to come in today cus they were (temporarily) all caught up. so that was a relief. I do have to make it in Thursday and Friday though.

I ordered a box of super cheap checks from Walmart for $10, only to discover last night box #2 and 3 hidden elsewhere in my desk! I guess I won't be changing banks anytime soon cus I now have a gazillion checks.

Before I got sick, I was able to drag some more white pine branches down to the curb and I called to let them know they could pick them up. I have so many more branches, but they are in pockets all over the yard, and I don't want to do it now that I'm sick. I feel exhausted just thinking about it. The town's deadline for doing so is this Friday, so I guess that's that.

I also managed to throw about 10 or so smaller limbs in the trunk of my car and I hauled them to the dump myself. Some of the logs are just too big for me to handle by myself....20 inches in diameter!

I earned another $40 worth of Amazon gift cards for month of November, but for time being I'm just sitting on them. I was toying with the idea of getting a second, smaller slow cooker in the 3 quart range. The one I have now is 6 quart, and sometimes the slow cooker recipes call for a smaller or bigger sized slow cooker. If the slow cooker is not filled up to at least the three-quarter mark, the food really doesn't cook well. So things like desserts or breakfasts would do well in the smaler size.

I am hoping to get paid by my main client for the $1100 job I submitted a week or so ago before Christmas. She said she was just waiting to hear from J. what code to give it. They let so many invoices fall thru the cracks I have to be constantly on top of them. The money is targeted for my emergency account and is especially important since unemployment benefits will end for good 12/31/12. It's going to be a freaky time as, barring a job offer right away, I will be dipping into savings to the tune of maybe $500 a month, even with driving J. and the proofreading job unless I can consistently drum up at least that amount in monthly freelance income. I think it's doable.

My paltry Christmas spending is pretty much set. By using a combination of gift cards I've earned from credit card rewards, things I have made (hypertufa troughs) and (is this tacky?) one pre-owned item (it's for my sister, who buys used stuff on eBay all the time), my out of pocket should be about $15!

I don't have many people to buy for to begin with. This year I decided to buy a set of 4 movie tickets for J. and his 2 kids and girlfriend to use. The movie theater is right here in town and it costs just $2 per ticket. I thought it would be perfect for them since they often have kid-friendly/family type movies there (which is why I only go infrequently...wanted to see Hope Springs, but missed the matinee on Tuesday).

I had to give up my computer for a day and a half due to a desperate need for more memory. I think he said I now have 8 gig? My computer was locking up, literally every 5 or 10 minutes, and then I'd have to wait several minutes for that spinning circle to do its thing. It was driving me nuts, but I had so much freelance work I couldn't give the computer up. finally I did so Tuesday into Wednesday.

Christmas shopping at Ikea

November 10th, 2012 at 09:58 pm

I usually hit Ikea just once or twice a year; it's about a 50-minute drive from my home, and although I like much about the store, I often forget about it when looking for certain basics.

I'm still transitioning from plastic food storage containers to glass. No excuse for not completing that changeover; while I have been using all glass food storage for handling leftovers or lunches, I was still using plastic for larger purposes, like storing flour, sugar and oatmeal.

So I decided to go there today and spent about $60 on 6 glass containers with lids as well as a very nice flatware set (4 five-piece place settings of stainless steel with wood handles for $30).

I've been using my grandmother's silver-plated flatware for years, but on a few pieces, it appears the silver plating is flaking off, and it would seem prudent to not use it if it means possibly ingesting any of that.

I took some photos of the flatware and have sent them off to a place online that will help you identify what pattern you have and possibly purchase your silver-plated or sterling silver pieces.

Though it seemed like a pretty good deal when, earlier this year, I purchased a nice glass pitcher with lid on amazon for $9, I found a comparable pitcher at Ikea for $5. Hmph.

I was also tickled to find small desk lamps ($20) that require no electricity, as they are solar-powered! Given my recent 6 days with no power after Storm Sandy, this seemed like a fantastic idea. Ultimately, I decided not to buy one as the description said it would only produce light, fully charged, for 3 hours. And then you'd have to remember to put it in a place where it received strong sunlight, if you wanted it to charge.

The other item I almost bought, but didn't, was a rustic looking large box covered in banana leaves. I admired its functionality, as it folded flat and was made very cleverly, I thought.

Did I mention I watched Forks Over Knives the other day (Netflix)? If there weren't a more compelling case made for not eating meat, I don't know of it. I decided to purchase a copy of the DVD for my friend with prostate cancer. I suspect, sadly, that he would rather prepare to die of prostate cancer than change his diet.

I do really like Ikea's kitchen and lighting sections, and their storage stuff, but am not so keen on their textiles; Scandanavian patterns on bedding or linens just don't resonate with me.

I had another $40 worth of Amazon gift cards, and i couldn't resist ordering 2 books and a DVD: Wheat Belly, a book on punctuation and the Forks Over Knives DVD, for my friend. Wheat Belly is that book written by a cardiologist about why eating wheat is making us fat. His claim is that the "whole wheat" we eat today is very different than the bread our grandparents ate, and it's really not a natural food. I'm always interested in anything diet/nutrition related, and I got interested in this particular book after the guy I've been driving to work read it and was talking about it. As for the punctuation, I am getting more interested in the nuances and subtleties of punctuation and grammar now that I'm editing my third manuscript/book for a client.

I also won a $25 BP gas card through my participation on a BP forum. Yeah!

Dysfunctional family dynamics, & a heart-to-heart with my sister

November 10th, 2012 at 12:09 am

My sister is mostly estranged from me and my mother. When it's the two of us talking, we get along fairly well, but my sister quickly becomes short-tempered, grouchy, nasty and incommunicative with my mother. (Even with me, i mostly feel I have to walk on eggshells around her.) It's been like this for many, many years, and I've pretty much given up on my sister after so much anger and resentment that she treats us, her family, so poorly. I never had the kind of sisterly relationship many sisters seem to enjoy.

In the past year or so, my mother's experienced a number of health scares having to do with irregular heartbeat, severe, full-body arthritis pain and vaginal bleeding for unknown reasons.

When many of these events happened, my mother panicked, called 911 and was transported to the emergency room, sometimes for several days of tests. A few times she called me.

She's fine right now, but all of this stuff was kind of like the writing on the wall, meaning that at some point, my mother's going to have more serious health crises that my sister and I, as her only family, are going to have to deal with.

And for a very long time I've felt pretty much on my own when trying to help my mother out. Aside from the obligatory family dinners at major holidays and birthdays, my sister has nothing to do with us, even though she lives nearby.

Some of my mother's health issues have been extremely stressful for me to handle. When my mother was in extreme pain from the arthritis, there wasn't much I could do except urge her to see her doctors, etc.

And I've been getting increasingly resentful toward my sister that she does nothing to help out. Since my mother's third divorce many years ago, I've often felt my mother's trying to make me her "husband," coming to me to for help and reciting all the hassles or stressors of everyday life. She will relay every aspect of her experiences in excruciating detail (he said this, then I said that, then he said this....).

So basically, her stress becomes my stress. I'm not sure that's really fair, but for as much as I am a strong and independent woman, my mother is just the opposite. She acts very helpless and very needy, which drives me insane.

So last summer I wrote my sister a letter, basically asking her to step up to the plate and help me take care of our aging parents. My dad certainly has his share of health problems, but he never complains or asks for help, and he is 3 hours away anyway. (My 2 brothers are closer to him.)

I told me sister that while I knew that mom could be extremely difficult to deal with, it's still our obligation and responsibility as her daughters to help her in her advanced age,and that i needed to know she was willing to do that with me. A lot of it for me, I admit, is psychological. I'm not sure there was ever a lot I had to do for my mother physically, except drive her to or from the hospital, but I really could have used some emotional support from my sister.

I never got a reply to the letter. Which fueled my anger toward her.

Then my sister called me tonight to announce she was treating me and my mother to Thanksgiving dinner at a local inn. My mother always cooks, but it's a lot of work and may be just easier to eat out, though none of us is rolling in money. I told my sister I'd pitch in to pay for the meal; she said it didn't matter.

Then I asked if we could talk about the letter. And we did. I'm not sure we resolved anything, but I feel much better becus we were able to have a civil and candid conversation, about my mother. She said she has tried to be more patient with her, but acknowledged not much success. I told her I understood how she feels about my mother, becus i feel the same way, although not as extremely as my sister, and I do feel a strong sense of responsibility for my mom. I said, well, if you can't talk to mom, if would really be helpful if I could know that I could talk to her (my sister) about issues with my mother if her health issues recur. She had no problem with that.

She said she had a problem with my mother calling 911 multiple times for "frivolous" health issues when maybe she could have waited til morning and made an appointment with her doctor. I told her I didn't think they were frivolous, and that it really wasn't for either one of us to judge the validity or seriousness of my mother's health complaints anyway. We obviously weren't in her shoes.

The big difference between me and my sister, when it comes to my mother, I think, is that my sister seems to have no compassion or empathy for my mother at all. She's very hostile to her.

My mother's also gotten hard of hearing of late and practically everything you say to her has to be repeated. This is also annoying when you are together for any period of time. My mother doesn't want to wear a hearing aid, or be seen wearing one, so she hasn't had her hearing checked out, even though I think the hearing problem is also contributing to worsening relationships with her daughters.

My sister did have one good idea, to try to get my mother to move from her condo to one that's ranch style, becus the arthritis could really be a problem with her double flight of stairs to her current living space/townhouse.

At first, I didn't like the idea becus I know my mother has a lot of friends where she lives now and at her age i wouldn't want to see her go to a brand new place and not know anyone. But then I wondered out loud with my sister on the phone whether there might be ranch style units at the complex where my mother is now.

After we hung up, i went online, and indeed there are ranch style units there. They are slightly smaller, by about 130 square feet, but I think it could really make life easier for her down the road. Yeah, it's not easy for a 79-year-old woman to move, but to wait until there's another health issue and then it's really a crisis, would make it worse.

So I guess we were able to put some stuff on the table. Thinking about it more, I would really like to get my sister's email. Years ago she said she had stopped using the computer, but i really knew it was just that she was tired of getting constant emails from my mother and didn't want to give out her new one to us. Maybe if I promise not to share it with anyone.


November 9th, 2012 at 12:16 am

This week has been a bit much. I'm now juggling 3 p/t jobs.

Here's what my work schedule will be moving forward:

Mondays: Pick up J. at 7:45 am, drop his kids at dayschool and drive him to work. Get home @ 9 am.

Do any freelance work during the day.

Pick up J. and his kids at 5 pm, bring them home. Get home around 6 pm.

Tuesday: Repeat Monday schedule.

Wednesday: Drive J. to work in a.m. only.

Go to my proofreading job at 12:30 pm thru 5 pm

Thursday: Go to my proofreading job 8:30 am to 4:15 pm, then leave to pick up J. at work and bring him to rehab place. Get home @ 5:30 pm.

Friday: go to proofreading job 8:30 am to 5 pm.

It's a lot of driving and running around. I'm really pretty tired of it especially as it requires me to get up and out of the house very early, and then i've got to head out again at day's end. But I don't want to give it up unless I find something better, and so far, that hasn't happened.

Today was day 3 at the proofreading job. It's still boring and tedious. Oh well. On the freelance side, I had to edit two court reports and write a press release.

We had a few inches of snow today, enough that I pulled my snow thrower out.

I'm really looking forward to doing nothing remotely resembling "work" this weekend. I watched Forks over Knives last night. I want to buy a copy for my friend R., who's preparing to die of prostate cancer sometime within the next 2 to 10 years. He's always had a terrible diet; i don't recall him ever eating anything except a hamburger, pizza or plain chicken.

He took pity on me on what I think was my last night without power and treated me to a steak dinner, plus he bought me a set of 3 LED flashlights with a battery pack. Very thoughtful. He wants to declutter and is leaving most of his money to his younger niece, who is now facing a divorce with 2 small kids.

6 Days No Power, Now I'm Finally Back on Grid

November 5th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Good Lord. I finally got my power back last night after 6 pm. I saw two utility trucks from North Carolina (go, North Carolina!!) in front of my house at about 2:30 pm, and they worked there for several hours. They also had to repair downed lines at all of my surrounding neighbors' homes. Then, inexplicably, the trucks left the scene, and still no power!

I was crushed. Talk about dashed hopes. I suspect there were more needed repairs further down the street before they could turn the switch.

I must say, after freezing my butt off at indoor temps of 52 degrees, my frugal daytime temp settings at 59 and 63 degrees (night and day) seemed positively balmy.

As sooon as I got power back, I threw a load of laundry in, got a simple (but hot) supper going, washed dirty dishes and later took a hot shower. Small creature comforts really make a difference.

My life had been reduced this past week to daily ice runs to try to keep my frozen produce going, a few stops at mom's for a shower and also the local library to check on emails. Nighttime entertainment consisted on huddling under the covers with a flashlight and my shortwave radio, mostly listening to either news coverage of the devastation in New Jersey or the Dave Ramsey Show.

I estimate so far my losses are in the neighborhood of $200. I had to spend $100 for someone to cut up the fallen trees, which is a bargain rate, however, he didn't have the capacity to haul the wood away or chip it, so I am still left with all that wood! I lost probably $50 to $75 worth of food and I spent about $15 on bags of ice. I also am upset to have a small hole in my vinyl siding; something like a windblown tree branch much have punctured it, and I'm sure that will cost me several hundred to replace.

I also had a frightening experience with my car brakes. As I was leaving mom's after a nice hot dinner and a shower, I discovered I had NO brakes. I mean, pedal was to the floor and no pressure at all. Luckily, I was able to coast to a stop in a parking space, but I had to have the car towed to my mechanic and the bill for replacing the 2 brake lines and fuel line, which had rusted to the point of falling apart and crumbling, was $666. Ouch. Still, it could have been much worse; I could have had an accident or been stranded somewhere on the road.

Here are pics of just my house and my neighbors across the street and on either side of me, to give you an idea of how much damage there was in a very small area....

This is a limb from a white pine that fell across the road directly in front of my house. The tree was actually on my neighbor's across the road from me. The storm hit full force Monday night, yet it wasn't cleared til several days later becus there were so many other blocked roads.

This is a fully grown white pine that came up at its roots and fell across my neighbors' lawn to the south of me. They are senior citizens, and I felt sorry for them that they had to pay to have this taken care of, as well as part of another white pine on a shared property line.

This is a humongus white pine on my property that was sheared off at about 10 feet high by the sheer force of the wind! I'd been wanting to get rid of this tree for years becus of its proximity to my house and roof. It could have so easily hit my house but by the grace of God, it fell into my side and back yard.

Here's another shot of same tree, shot from my upstairs bathroom window. the white rope you see was my unsuccessful attempt to pull down a branch of a small dogwood tree that kept rubbing against the side of the house in the storm.

This is another shot of the same white pine tree; you can see the massive limbs blocking my Stairway to Heaven (to backyard).

This is part of another white pine that came down in my front yard. You can see the Guatemalan guys I hired to cut it up.

My dad returned to his home on the Jersey shore. He said he had only minor flooding in his basement and garage, even though the water mark on his garage was 18 inches high. he's a full 2 blocks from the Toms River, which feeds into Barnegat Bay, but despite all the water, his garage was protected becaus the waves carried so much debris and sand with them that it formed a kind of barrier against the garage and kept more water from infiltrating.

He still doesn't have heat, and expects not to have it for another week, but he has a small wood stove that keeps one room pretty warm. He lost all his food and I know they've started rationing gasoline down there so I hope he has enough to make it to his favorite diner for breakfast!

Anyway, today is a return to normal. I drive J. to work right about now and then i begin my new proofreading job. More later!