Home > Archive: March, 2014

Archive for March, 2014

Very tiring day and i don't want to do it anymore

March 28th, 2014 at 01:02 am

Today I was on the road for 7 hours (round trip) to attend a 1-hour meeting at another of my employer's offices out of state. Frankly, I'm exhausted.

I drove up with 2 other contract workers and i wasn't doing the driving, but it was still so tiring, as I had to get up at 5:30 am and due to hot flashes since 2010, I never sleep well to begin with, so having to get up early with the hot flashes just meant i got even less sleep than usual. So i am dragging now.

This was a meeting they pushed for us all to attend because we were to hear the new head of our dept. expound on her goals for the company, blah blah blah.

As a contractor who doesn't get the benefit of the full range of employee benefits, I guess I have less than the desirable rah rah attitude.

What's more, they want to start doing "team building" meetings at same location once every quarter now. An all-day event, 9 to 5 p.m.

I've just decided I can't do this again. Now my boss goes up to this location very frequently, like nearly every other week, but the difference is, she'll go up for several days, sometimes the whole week, and she'll either stay in a hotel or at her daughter's. But we are told to get up there and then drive home same day.

Even worse, you'd think they'd schedule the meetings with some consideration for those of us coming up from CT, but no, they often schedule the meetings for 9 a.m., forcing me, for instance, to get up at 4:30, to leave by 5:30, to be there by 9 am.


Of all the people who go there from CT, I probably have the longest drive becus i happen to live furthest west. But even so, the others still have a total of about 6 hours on the road, so just a little more for me.

I'm wondering if I should just tell my boss or what. I really want to before the next meeting in May. Otherwise, they really like me there becus I'm doing a good job. They keep a tight lid on expenses so they probably wouldn't permit to stay overnight in a hotel, especially when others don't do that.

What's your spending/saving ratio?

March 23rd, 2014 at 01:45 pm

A recent Businessweek story suggested that you should split your take home pay into 3 major categories:

50% towards Essentials, like housing, transportation, utilities and groceries.
20% towards Savings, like retirement accounts, emergency funds, or debt payments.
30% towards Lifestyle Choices, which are basically whatever discretionary purchases you wish to make, like eating out, shopping, entertainment, etc.

So the goal should be 50/20/30

Since I already track all my spending each month, I thought it would be fun to see how my numbers stack up.

My numbers For the month of February look like this:

Essential spending: 33%
Savings: 64%
Discretionary: 3%

One big reason why I can do this is because I paid off my mortgage, so my total expenses for February, for example, were just $1559. I also don't have children.

My teeny bit of discretionary spending in February included a few things for the house, some clothing and eating lunch out a few times.

I'm saving a lot now, which is great, but I know I will be needing to spend a fair amount to make the various upgrades I feel are needed before I put my house on the market.

I'm finding myself really reluctant to spend the money as I prefer to boost my retirement savings, but I'm taking my "to do" list one slow step at a time, and trying to save some bucks by cajoling friends to help me with certain things. Like, last fall I bought a new shiny brass door handle for my storm door at front entry; the old one was an eyesore. But there are a LOT of little parts to it and I feel it's beyond my capabilities. Haven't done anything with it because it got too chilly outdoors. So I plan to ask my friend Dave for help and bribe him with another home-cooked meal. I think he'd do it even without the home-cooked meal, but at least this way I feel he's getting something in exchange.

I want to wait til it's a little warmer outside before asking him. If I had to pay a handyman to do it, they'd probably charge at least $50 to do it.

My weekend started out great, last night

March 22nd, 2014 at 05:24 pm

Friday nights for me are a welcome event, but in truth I do absolutely nothing, as the wear and tear of the previous week seems to cumulatively build up so that by the time the end of the work week is upon me, I'm just looking forward to chillin' before the busyness of my weekends begins!

But as for this weekend, I was busy Sunday and M. was busy today, so earlier in the week, he was saying he really wanted us to see each other this weekend (I agree, it helps to keep the momentum going in our fledgling, dare I say, relationship?), so I agreed to head over to his house last night after work.

I was worried I'd be too tired. Which I was, but it was still worth it. He got us a pizza and he had a Netflix movie for us to watch. I got to see where he lived. I very much liked his condo complex in the woods, although inside, it was very much the bachelor pad, in that, well, he's no interior designer.

It was clear that M. doesn't care about possessions; what he does care about are people, relationships and outdoor experiences like skiing, hiking, biking and soon, kayaking. Smile

Anyway, we watched The Tunnel (foreign, with sub-titles, based on a true story about Germans who dug a tunnel to the other side in the 1960s before the wall came down). He asked me more about my dysfunctional tiny family, something I don't really like to talk about, but he seemed to accept it.

This was date #4. I told him that it wasn't until date #3 that I realized he really was interested in me, romantically, becus he was too much the gentleman. And personally, I don't like it when a man "asks" you if it's ok to kiss you cus of course that just makes me nervous. He should just swoop in and do it. I got home after midnight.

I reconnected recently with another guy (Dave), someone who had organized and run a biking group I was very involved in 10 or 12 years ago. This was the guy who, as a teen, was involved in a terrible accident when his friend accidentally shot him in the head with a hunting rifle, in a boat. Becus of his limp, he always had a tough time keeping up with hikers in the larger hiking group we were both involved in, so he began to "recruit" people from the hiking group that he thought would be interested in his little biking group. Because on a bike, he was anyone's equal.

But I drifted away from that group, partly becus he hit on me several times (by planting a big kiss on me) even after I told him I wasn't interested, and when he persisted, it made me uncomfortable, so I just stopped going on the rides. (Everyone else in the biking group knew of his infatuation too, so it made the whole thing even more public and embarrassing.) Over the years, he still called from time to time, always sent Christmas cards, so this past Christmas I finally picked up the phone and we had a nice talk. Then, more recently, I invited him down and I made him a nice beef stew.

I sense that he's lonely. He never remarried after his divorce many years ago. He just retired a year or so ago, from Johnson & Johnson, with a nice pension; he lives in his mother's house. He lived with and cared for his mother until she passed away from dementia and cancer. He wants to get together again, and I think we will. I am coming round to place a greater value on relationships, and not so casually tossing away friendships with people that I've known for a while.

Bumped into a friend at the garden nursery as I was browsing for some birthday gifts. I've avoided calling her becus i was afraid she'd ask how my home improvements went, for which I hired a guy she and her husband had highly recommendedo. (I was extremely unhappy with the outcome in terms of both the workmanship and the price.) I didn't want to have that conversation with her, and really, it had nothing to do with her and her husband, but I knew she would feel bad about it if she knew. But I was happy to see her; she gave me a big hug. She was the person I "job-shared" with at the $12 an hour p/t job I took last year out of desperation. We shared the same desk/cube. She still works there, after I moved on, and she informed me cheerfully that she'd gotten a .40 an hour raise, so now she makes $12.40. She's a retired school teacher in an unhappy marriage.

Then I bumped into my neighbor walking her beagle. We both remarked on how happy we were that spring is here, at least for today.

It's small conversations and interactions like these that make me happy.

Today I'm doing more freelance editing (and tomorrow too). And tomorrow I'm cooking dinner for my sister and mother's birthdays, a delicious lamb stew/casserole that I've cooked a zillion times. Comes out great every time.

I'm going to live til I'm 96; how about you?

March 22nd, 2014 at 04:33 pm

A fun calculator to try.

Weekend Doings

March 16th, 2014 at 11:21 pm

I've had a pretty productive and enjoyable weekend.

I told The Bachelor that I could not see him this weekend as I needed to start editing a manuscript for the Vegas motivational speaker. He was fine with that.

The weather on Saturday was the warmest we've had yet, in the 50s, and it was also bright and sunny, so I didn't get started on that editing right away. Instead, I checked out the annual pet and equine show at local college and picked up 7 different sample-sized bags of dry cat food for the boys. I also did some grocery shopping, filled up the gas tank, stopped at the landfill to unload some trash, and vacuumed and washed my car. Phew.

I started editing last night and continued today for most of the day. I'm up to page 35 of 99 pages, which is just the first half of the book. The client is away on a trip right now so I have a solid 2 weeks to finish the rest of this first half, which shouldn't be too hard. Happily, I already deposited her check of $500, which made me happy. Smile

Had a nice long phone conversation with my friend Michael, who is dealing with a hellish commute right now in a contract job but making very nice money. I also made a batch of granola and a three-grain dish (barley, brown rice and quinoa) with sauteed mushrooms and onions, along with spinach. This will serve as the core of my workday lunches this week.

I learned that next year my employer's lease is up on the building and they don't plan to renew! This means they will either lay people off, relocate some to other offices or possibly let some people entirely telecommute. We occupy 3 floors of this building and it will be a blow to the downtrodden city we're in as they can use all they help they can get. So there's a lot of uncertainty, and there have been a few more layoffs.

I got my IRS refund of close to $1,000, but this is just going into savings. I anticipate having to pay about that much back to the IRS when I do my taxes next year if I get an extension on my contract job. I think I have a decent shot for at least another 3 months as I've seen as 3 women I know there whose terms were about to expire got extended another 3 months. However, this is no way to live and it's impossible to plan anything if you don't know if you'll have a job beyond 3 months. And I'll hate like the dickens to have to pay back at least $1100. It would be a lot more if I worked the rest of the year and continued getting the healthcare subsidy, but I am HOPING that when I become eligible for the recruiter agency's health plan April 1 that it will be cheaper and that I can switch to it.

So I think with a little bit of encouragement, Mike will wind up purchasing a kayak. He needs to do more research, but this is something he had thought of before, and then when he met me, well, it would make it even more appealing with a built-in kayaking partner. As soon as weather permits, perhaps in April, he wants to take a drive up to a kayak shop I told him about and then also bring the bikes so we can ride on the rail trail in that area. Like I've said before, I just hope I can keep up with this guy! Not an ounce of fat on this one!

It's been a relaxing weekend; while it's not usually that painful to go back to work, I do wish I could just lounge around a bit more.

I'm exhausted but we saw Keith Richards' house

March 9th, 2014 at 12:22 am

Oh, I'm so tired. That will happen when you're tromping through the woods in the snow.

Today was my 3rd date with Mike. When I got up this a.m. I wasn't really feeling like walking in the snow, and I was feeling kind of tired from the usual work week. But we had already planned the date. We walked for well over 2 hours in a good 6 inches of snow, which made it really difficult and slower going.

Keith Richards is known to have a house that you can see from one of the trails in the preserve. It looks pretty nice from the outside, but it's not enormously-sized or anything.

What was cool is that Mike said he'd read Keith Richards' autobiography ("Life") and that he talks a little about the house and the fact that it's next to a nature preserve, although he doesn't name it. There are also pictures of it inside.

The walk was very tiring (I am so out of shape), but it was quiet and peaceful at the same time. It also was fairly warm today with blue skies with temps in the low 40s. The small parking lot was full with about 10 cars. I was so surprised.

After the walk we came back to my house. It was his first time there. We changed out of our wet boots, hung around and talked in the kitchen over tall glasses of V8 and then decided to head to the local Chinese place for dinner.

So I guess we broke the ice as he tried to kiss me twice as he was saying goodbye. It was a little lopsided, I told him i was a little rusty and he said that's ok, he's a little rusty too. It was oh so awkward! If you think it gets easier when you're older, no it doesn't, not at all! Egads.

But I guess it tells me he's interested. He was actually such a gentleman on our previous 2 dates that I was wondering whether he wasn't sure if he wanted any romantic thing with me and maybe just wanted a hiking partner.

The whole idea of romance just gives me the heebeejeebees, if you know what I mean. It's NERVE-WRACKING to even think about it.

Tomorrow I have a lot of freelance work to do. Just in tonight is the first part of a legal report to edit, and I also have the manuscript of the motivational speaker to start, although I haven't gotten the first payment for that yet. She SAID she mailed it a week ago, a check for $500, but I told her I never got it so she said she would mail another one. I guess I would be more concerned about a check that didn't arrive. She also offered to draft it into my checking account; i have no idea what that entails but I'm guessing it would mean giving her my bank account number, and there's no way I'm doing that with someone I don't know.

I think our next date will be a movie.

Failed DIY plumbing event; what a fiasco

March 3rd, 2014 at 01:46 pm

One of the many things I wanted to do to fix this place up for eventual sale was to replace the two faucets in my upstairs bath. On one faucet, the hot water valve is totally locked up, frozen in place. I haven't been able to use it in over a year. The other faucet works but the stopper is getting rusty, as I made the mistake years ago with my late cat of keeping the bowl filled up with water, which she liked to drink.

Both these faucets were Kohler brand but lasted less than 15 years.

I found some Pfister faucets on Home Depot's website that were very attractive and just $42 each, but they were on back order for a very long time, even after a rep told me they'd become available.

So yesterday I stopped in at my local Home Depot and wound up buying two Pfisters from the store. They were, umm, about double the price, but I liked them.

When I got one out of the box, I saw how simple it would be to install them. It was literally just 2 pieces: the faucet and the stopper. The only tool you needed was a wrench. So I had the brilliant idea of trying to do it myself. Honestly, I don't know what got into me, but I think it looked so ridiculously simple, plus I had a strong incentive to save money. So tired of overpaying for everything.......Frown The local Handyman Connection was going to charge me $120 to do this.

First, I had to disassemble the existing faucet. I cleaned out the cabinet underneath and turned the hot and cold water valves off. A lot of plumbing is hand-tightened, so I was able to disconnect the trap part of the pipe, and then I went on to disconnect where the water tube under the sink connects to the bottom of the faucet. I got the cold one done, and then the hot one, but both of them were still seeping water. I kept trying to tighten the shut off valves I had already shut off, but the water kept coming out and I didn't notice it at first because it was just seeping, not spraying. But soon I was mopping up all kinds of water with towels, etc. Water partially filled the top drawer adjacent to the cabinet directly below the sink, and I know some water got behind the wall where I couldn't get to it.

Who knows how much water. Maybe 1 or 2 quarts? That's a lot when it's water where it's not supposed to be! I was freaking. I had no choice but to shut off the water to the whole house down in the basement.

I didn't sleep at all last night as I was worried about what possible damage I could have done to my walls. I kept checking my downstairs bathroom, which is directly below the upstairs bath and is wallpapered. I don't see any evidence of water or water stains, thank God.

So now I've had to inform my boss at work that I need to work at home today so I can attend to my plumbing emergency.

I called Handyman Connection as soon as they opened at 8 this morning and someone's coming over around 9, 9:30 am. I hope he knows what he's doing. I just don't want any more water in my bathroom and I'm still worried about it because when I left it last night, I had reconnected the two water tubes to the bottom of the faucet, thinking that at least I could have use of water in the house until the plumber came to fix it. But the hot water valve was in a very awkward position and I wasn't really able to tighten it much and I was so afraid to "test" it by turning the water on in the basement again (being here alone, I've to run up from the basement to the upstairs bath to see if it was leaking, and I decided not to take that chance. This morning when I again started loosening the hot water tube, just to see, I heard water flowing again. Mind you, the water is now shut off to the whole house AND under the sink. I know there must be water still in the pipes, but without pressure, there shouldn't be much that would come out.

I have a bucket, but the water was seeping down the coiled tube in a spot where I couldn't fit the bucket.

To top it off, I really hate the bathroom cabinet. It was here when I bought the house. A basic white ceramic top with the double sinks and just particleboard white cabinet. It looks OK from the outside, but when you open the doors you see signs of previous water leak damage and the laminate is broke in spots; it just looks terrible.

I'd love to replace it but I have wallpaper in that bathroom in pretty good shape, and ripping out the cabinet would probably really mess things up. Not to mention it might be difficult to find a cabinet the exact same height and length so I wouldn't need to do any more wallpapering. Don't know if that pattern would still be available or not. So that's why I haven't replaced this cheap-as-s*** cabinet.

Laying contact paper down on the bottom would help a little bit, but would really just be a band-aid. So it kind of bothers me to be paying to install beautiful new faucets when I'd love to get rid of that ugly cabinet, too. But I really don't need any more "projects" right now.

Update: It's all fixed now (at a steep cost). Handyman Connection told me on the phone that the cost to replace two faucets would be $120. I thought that was fairly reasonable, so I agreed to that. When the guy showed up, he said, oh, you want the stopper installed too? That'll be an extra $75. That ticked me off; I mean, the stopper is part of the faucet assembly. It comes in the same box as the faucet. I never heard of anyone replacing just the faucet and not the stopper. So I felt like he was just trying to get more money out of me. I refused, knowing a regular plumber would cost me more, but I'd rather pay an honest plumber higher rates than a cheaper but dishonest plumber a lower rate.

So I scrambled to find another plumber who could come out today, since I don't want to work another day at home just for this.

One plumber had a special formula whereby it would cost me $177 for the first faucet, and then, since "the truck was already in the driveway," as he put it, another $130 for the 2nd faucet, for a total of $307, not including any parts, if needed.!!!!

I kept looking for a better priced plumber, and found one that charged $100 an hour. I wound up paying him $254, but he also fixed the shut-off valves which as I mentioned were still allowing water to seep/leak even when turned off.

The cost of the 2 faucets were $80 each for a total of $160, but I used a Home Depot gift card I'd bought a while ago to take advantage of some credit card offer, so the total price for the 2 was about $98. So roughly $400 to get 2 new faucets installed. OUCH.

Though they are lovely.