Home > Archive: November, 2014

Archive for November, 2014

Ruminating on my next move

November 30th, 2014 at 11:36 pm

While I am still acutely aware of how grateful I am with my new job and all that it provides, Sunday night thinking of Monday makes me go "blah."

The next few weeks will bring a few office Xmas parties that I'll be expected to attend, with the requisite Secret Santa gift exchanges with people from other office locations whom I hardly know. I could care less, really, and going to parties I'd rather just skip introduces a degree of stress in my life I wish I could avoid.

NPR had a great series of interviews this afternoon with people who chose to test their personal physical endurance by rowing across the Atlantic Ocean (a woman) and the French guy who walked a high wire across the Twin Towers in NYC years back.

The French man was very interesting to listen to; asked why he did it, he mentioned something about wanting to do something more important and meaningful with his life than feathering his own nest. The woman rower said that although she was petrified with fear the first 2 weeks of rowing alone, with no backup, what kept her going was realizing she was even more afraid of having to return to work in a little cubicle.

The first comment made me wince, the second one made me laugh. They both hit home. Sometimes I feel that my only goal for a long time has been amassing enough savings so that I can retire "early" from work.

My conundrum for years has been that either I'm working and I have "no time" to do the things I want to do, or I'm unemployed and have "no money" to do the things I want to do.

I think it was Monkey Mama who once spoke about the importance of balancing saving for the future with enjoying life now. I need to follow that advice better.

I'm at that point where I'm assessing my life in its entirety, and the ugly truth is, I do feel it lacks purpose. Unlike most people, I can't say I raised a fine human being. And I've worked mostly for private, profitable companies where the bottom line is how much money is made, not making the world a better place.

In my own defense, feeling "secure" has probably been more important to me than many. Due to divorce and multiple moves before I turned 10, I have to say my childhood was very unstable and insecure. We lived in more than one scummy apartment complex; I remember as a kid seeing rats swimming in the stagnant lagoon separated from our apartment building only by a chain link fence.

And although my mother claims not to remember it, I very much remember being told to use no more than 4 squares of toilet paper at a time, and to not drink so much milk, because we didn't have a lot of money.

Perhaps it's been an internalized determination not to live in squalid surroundings and, seeing my own mother's marriages disintegrate, not to depend on anyone else, that's made financial security a pretty big priority for many years.

But I'm getting close enough to reaching my financial goals to see I need other things to focus on. Paying off the mortgage in 2012 was a biggie, and I imagine reaching $1 million in assets a few years from now will also be huge, but after the initial euphoria, what then? I mean, it's not the kind of thing I can go around shouting from the rooftops anyway.

Volunteer work might be part of the answer. I've volunteered in the past for animal organizations and a food pantry. I always have to fight my natural introvert tendencies to get involved, and truth be told, I can be perfectly content to watch movies or do a crossword puzzle, alone.

But I hate committees and meetings, and would rather be DOING something positive. I remember one animal shelter where I volunteered to write an article for the newsletter and I pitched my idea for a story about how destructive to local bird life (not to mention other critters) domesticated house cats can be when allowed to roam free, and the dangers posed by texting drivers, coyotes, dogs, etc.

The woman running the show asked me for an "outline" of my article in advance, and I told her I don't work from outlines. So then she had a long phone conversation with me where she attempted to learn what my "approach" was going to be and how exactly it would be written. She made me feel like i was in the 3rd grade. She was a very controlling person and wanted to vet everything, right down to how I wrote the story. It was a great way to disenfranchise a volunteer. She might as well have written it herself if she didn't trust another person to do it. In the end, I wrote it and it was published, but I never volunteered again for that group.

Contrast that experience with the food pantry at a local church. The leaders there were very amenable to any suggestions I had for improving or expanding on the services the group provided, and they let me run with it. When they experienced shortages of donations, I found a hunting group that agreed to donate venison.

There were a series of discussions, and while in the end the group decided not to take the venison (the hunters didn't want to break down the meat parcels into less than 5 lbs each or something), it was still an interesting initiative that I spearheaded. When a local organic farmer donated some leftover produce, it was my idea to interview him and do a press release that would benefit both the food pantry and the farmer. I found the work there very empowering because I was encouraged to come up with ideas and then run with them.

Mega Mall Trip...Aborted

November 28th, 2014 at 05:57 pm

I was going to hit the mall for my once annual trip but after spending about 2 hours at some other non-mall shops, I hopped on the Interstate to head west to the mall and Trader Joe's. It was all backed up. Just not worth it, so I took an exit home. I was getting a little tired and hungry, but I may try again tomorrow.

I do really need to hit Trader Joe's as I'm low on food and they have a number of items I can't find anywhere else, like the recently discovered frozen julienned root vegetables (beets, parsnips, sweet potatotes). Really, really good, like the frozen marinated zucchini and eggplant slices I like.

I did go to a lovely garden nursery gift shop which has many nature-inspired ornaments and gifts. I got a small glittery copper-colored Xmas tree which will probably go to my boss. I'll save one of the 2 bottles of wine I got last night for the Secret Santa gift exchange, a safer bet for someone who might not be Christian.

Here's the new shelf my friend installed for me last night.

I filled up the gas tank and browsed a mineral/geode store. Also picked up some air filters for my air purifier at Lowe's, but they didn't have the reusable mouse traps I also wanted.

Our day

November 27th, 2014 at 10:25 pm

I am kind of glad I have the evening to myself now. It was kind of a tiring day.

Last night I shoveled the entire driveway in the dark. This morning, I could see we didn't get nearly as much snow as they'd forecasted, so I was able to get everyone to agree to meet for dinner today as planned.

I went out to shovel down by the road some more and then I vacuumed the first floor.

Then I drove to mom's to pick her up but before we left, I shoveled off all the snow on her car and also shoveled around her car so she can drive out easily.

Then I brought her back to my place, waited for my friend to show up and then we met my sister at the restaurant. We had a great dinner.

The bill for 4 of us came to $200 (!!!), including the tip. Yikes. Three of us had the lamb (with butternut squash soup, dessert and tea for me) and my friend Dave had a traditional turkey/stuffing meal. It was the 3 glasses of wine that added considerably $19) to the total tab. My sister chipped in $60, so my portion of the bill (I was also paying for my friend's meal, since I invited him, and half my mother's meal) came to $140. That's a lot, and no doubt much more than if I'd made dinner myself, but I didn't feel like cooking, and I can afford it. Thanksgiving only comes along once a year.

Plus, my friend brought over not one, but two bottles of wine (a red and a white), plus a store-bought apple pie. Since I don't drink much, I can use both bottles as Xmas gifts for 2 people at work I wanted to get something nice for. I could even use it at the Secret Santa gift exchange. Either way, I'm covered, and then I just have to get 8 much smaller gifts; I was thinking small bags of chocolates or something.

After we drove my mother home, my friend helped me install a new 40" long shelf I'd purchased. It required a bunch of anchors but it's all pre-finished and looks great above my computer desk. I gave my friend a 2015 wall calendar compliments of the local paper; everyone seems to want one of these.

Tomorrow is a big shopping day. I have 9 stops to make. Then Saturday is more shopping, locally, for Small Business Saturday.

One of my Japanese red maples earlier this fall.

Snow beginning to stick & another credit card deal

November 26th, 2014 at 02:53 pm

It began snowing right on schedule, around 8 a.m.. It was more like rain when it started, but it has since changed over to snow.

I am snug like a bug in my house. I could've done some grocery shopping beforehand, but this storm won't be sticking around. I hope to start shoveling this evening.

One good this is that there is no wind associated with this storm. When it winds down, there will only be about 11 mph winds. I always worry about falling trees as I have had a lot come down over the years. At least the 2 big ones towering over the house are gone: the white pine was sheared off at its trunk during Hurricane Sandy and it came down frighteningly close to the house; the other tree, a giant ailanthus, I had taken down a year ago.

After taking advantage of the Amex/Petco 50% off deal, I also signed up for Visa Checkout, which simply expedites the checkout process when you're buying something online. The reward for signing up is a $10 prepaid Visa card from Bank of America.I have 3 BOA cards (planning on cancelling one of them soon) but I can only get one prepaid Visa card as a reward.

Weather forces change in Thanksgiving plans

November 26th, 2014 at 12:13 am

They're predicting 8 or 9 inches of snow to start tomorrow morning and go until the early morning hours of Thanksgiving. With that timing, I'm not sure I'll be able to dig out of my driveway, nor is my invited friend sure he wants to drive 45 minutes if the roads are still bad around noon time.

So we all agreed that my sister and I would consult again Thanksgiving morning to assess the snow situation and make a final decision. If we cancel Thanksgiving dinner, we will reschedule our restaurant dinner out for Saturday, same time.

The restaurant even said they would hold both reserved times open for us, so we have that flexibility. The downside will be that they won't be serving their special Thanksgiving menu on Saturday, but what can you do?

I have off the rest of the week. If, say, the snow unexpectedly ended early, like by tomorrow early evening, then I could be out there shoveling and wrap it up Thursday morning with time to spare. But that's not what the weather forecasters are saying.

I picked up a pizza on the ride home from work and inched my car into my rather tight one-car garage. I pulled out the snow shovel and scraper for the car, and brought my rubber boots inside so they won't get filled with snow. I guess I'm as ready as can be.

The boys caught yet another mouse last night in the basement and brought it upstairs. I was able to chase them back to the basement before they dropped the (live) mouse en route. Much as I hate them handling icky mice, Waldo does look awfully cute with a small furry mouse stuffed in his mouth. I doubt he does much damage to the mouse because he's missing most of his teeth. However, his claws, and Luther's, are like hypodermic needles. They lost the mouse and I think it found safety under the washer or dryer.

I was very upset to learn today, by overhearing other employees talk about it and then reading a news story about it, that the wild turkey that had been hanging around the bank where I work, located right in the downtown of a small city, was killed by two local thugs. I don't know if they caught who did it, but eyewitnesses said they saw 2 guys who looked to be about age 20 or so run out of their car to grab the turkey. And then they broke its neck and tossed it in their car and sped away. All this in broad daylight. Sad. The bird seemed attached to its reflection in the plate glass windows of our office building. There's always some loser who ruins a nice thing.

In other news of the unfortunate kind, I learned from talking to a plumber on the phone that the rusty, leaking old iron septic pipe in my basement will cost about $800 to repair. I emailed him photos and he estimated 4 or 5 hours of labor at $100 an hour (hard to believe), and another "couple hundred dollars" for materials. They will have to cut the pipe and replace it. He said they couldn't just reapply the sealant between the 2 connections becus mine has old lead sodder and isn't up to code. I guess it's just as well to get that out of my basement. I have the money, but of course you hate to spend it on things like that. I had a feeling it was going to be expensive.

Huge plumbing bill looming

November 24th, 2014 at 12:22 am

I dread seeing what this one's gonna cost me, but I noticed some time ago that the large main septic pipe going that goes thru the concrete floor of my basement is rusting and leaking. Most of it is newer PVC pipe, but there's a long (4 foot maybe) section of old wrought iron. It's leaking at the point where this section connects to the PVC, and of course, I have no idea how far into the ground the iron pipe goes before the next joint/connection.

Plumbers around here are enormously expensive. You're talking several hundred dollars just for routine switching out of faucets and that sort of thing.

I guess I'll have to call one tomorrow. Maybe someone can come out this Wednesday, which I have off.

Didn't do much all day (intentionally, trying to get rid of this cold once and for all). I did vacuum the upstairs and make some tomato/brussel sprout/lima bean soup but otherwise just watched some movies on Netflix, including a very interesting one called The Trail (2013). In a way it's similar to All is Lost; both are movies about survival and contain little, if any, dialogue. The Trail is about a woman fighting for survival in winter on The Oregon Trail after Indians kill her husband.

I am always looking for good movies on Netflix; if anyone has some good recommendations, I'd be happy to watch them.

My day

November 22nd, 2014 at 07:34 pm

Last night I discovered an Alzheimer's support group that meets two SATURDAYS a month, including today, and I was so excited because truth be told, it's hard to drag myself out at night on a weekday. After a day's work, I just want to relax.

So....I was GOING to attend the 9:30 a.m. meeting today but I got lazy and skipped it. I REALLY REALLY need and want to go, but I guess the meetings will still be there for me when I'm ready.

Once again, it's my weekend, after all, and I just didn't feel like rushing out the door this morning when I can linger at the computer with a hot cup of tea and two kitties nearby.

I did eventually rouse myself enough to get dressed and head out the door around 10:30. I DO want to largely take it easy this weekend as I'm not completely over my cold and sure don't want this dragging on into the holiday.

Nonetheless, there were a few things I was able to knock off my list:

1. I stopped by my local newspaper office and snagged 4 of their free 2015 calendars. It's kind of a retro, old-fashioned looking calendar that I've always liked. I got one for a friend at work and 2 for me (home and office) with one extra in case someone wants it.

2. Filled up the gas tank at $2.97 a gallon but was chagrined to see BJs price was $2.87!!!

3. Went to a supermarket/closeout kind of place and got some cheap ribbons and notepads plus some suet for the birds. I was able to give some helpful birdseed advice to a woman who was buying birdseed as part of a large holiday gift basket for her church that would later be raffled off. I explained that the black oil sunflower seed is best and to steer clear of the cheaper seed mixes filled with junk seed that birds don't like.

4. Made a pitstop at a craft show at a local hotel after seeing signs, but it was a waste of time. Less than 10 tables, and most of them were jewelery which I wasn't in the mood to waste my money on.

5. Petco: I don't usually shop here anymore, but Amex had a deal where you charge $10 there and you'll get a $5 credit, which is basically like getting 50% off if you only spend $10. I wound up spending $18 on expensive specialty cat foods which I like to occasionally mix in with the cheaper Friskies and Fancy Feast the boys usually eat. My cats' favorites are anything with rabbit in it as well as a sardine/mackerel mix, which I would consider the healthiest of any seafood they could eat, given that these fish are low on the food chain and thus low in mercury.

6. On the way home I stopped for a few groceries, including mushrooms, so I could make a barley, onion, mushroom/carrot casserole tonight for dinner.

I feel ok energy-wise but am still blowing my nose and sometimes coughing, so Must Force Self to Take it Easy.

I am really in a mood to shop this holiday season. Because I'm saving north of 30% of my income and still have money left over. That's how it works when you have a good paying job and no mortgage. Life is good that way, and I intend to enjoy it since it hasn't always been like that.

So don't yell at me when you learn I purchased a largish starburst style mirror from Ballard's Design recently, or a green bubble-glass jar from One Kings Lane. In fact, all the things I looked longingly at but didn't buy are staring me in the face in the advertisements on this site. And I still haven't even hit the mall yet Smile It is only the current state of my health that is keeping me from going.

I would like to get basic cable again. Last time i had cable in 2012, just TWO YEARS AGO, I was paying just $18 a month. Now, the cheapest cable with the same company, Charter, is $46.98 a month!!! Yeah, you get 200 channels, yada yada yada, whereas before i got maybe 12, but my god, what a rip-off. I want to get network TV so I can get my local news. But I guess I won't at that price. There's no competition here in my town and this is the only cable company. It sucks. BUT NO THANKS. (PS I'm not interested in bundling phone and Internet, unless Frontier raises its fees. Right now, I'm paying $55 a month for unlimited phone and pretty fast Internet.)

Finally feeling better

November 19th, 2014 at 11:54 pm

I'm finally feeling better (more energetic and less severe cold symptoms) since I came down with this cold last Friday.

I've been working at home all week but after my boss made the comment, after I informed her I'd be staying home for the 3rd day in a row, "Oh, 3 days...that's a lot...feel better!" I took that as a maybe not-so-subtle hint that I should return to work tomorrow.

It irks me that she said that since she knows I've been just as productive at home as I would be in the office; I have not been slacking off.

Not to mention that I have a coworker who has worked at home every day now for the past few months due to feigned "morning sickness" from her pregnancy. On the few days she came in previously, usually about once a week, I noticed that shortly after arriving, she'd go down to the cafe in the building and return with a big breakfast; a few hours later, she'd come back with lunch. Not once did I see her hesitate to finish everything or complain about morning sickness.

Ideally, I'd like to stay home one more day as I don't want to risk this cold lingering on into next week, and the holiday, as sometimes happens when you go back to work too soon, BUT I will since the bigger picture is, this is a pretty decent job that I only need to last 5 more years. So might as well play nice and do what she wants.

I haven't especially been looking forward to Thanksgiving since it's me, my mother and my sister and my sister always has such a bad attitude that get-togethers can be painfully uncomfortable as she answers most questions with a "yes" or a "no" but not much more. She doesn't try to share parts of her life with my mother because it requires lots of explaining to my mother, and lots of repeating, and it's probably easier for my sister not to bother. But not very nice to my mother.

Solution: I decided today as i balanced my laptop on my lap in bed with the covers pulled up and a box of tissues at my side that I would invite my friend Dave to our dinner. He was never a close friend but we sort of have kept in touch and he's always been a super nice, upbeat and kind person to me. And I remembered that he took care of his mother, who lived with him, for several years before she died of cancer, and that he is not close to his 2 brothers, who are married with children. Dave is divorced, no children. He seemed very happy to accept the invitation and he will be the PERFECT addition to our now group of 4 since he is very talkative, congenial and pleasant. His presence will force my sister to be on her best behavior and my mother will surely be charmed by him. Smile And it will make the whole dinner thing a little less dreary for me.

Although the price fixe restaurant menu includes dessert, I think I will make an extra dessert anyway (I have the day before and after TDay off) as a reason for my mother and Dave to come back to my place and linger for a bit longer, like people usually do for Thanksgiving. My sister won't be interested; she usually uses her chickens as an excuse (she has to put them in the coop for safety at night) but truth be told she still wouldn't be interested even without the chickens.

AT&T recently sold a bunch of their landline phone and Internet customers to a company called Frontier. I noticed only by chance when looking at my bill that I will very soon have to renegotiate both plans as one of them has a monthly discount that expires this month and the other plan in March of next year. This was always an excruciating process and you could only really get anywhere by threatening to leave them as a customer. Right now I'm paying $56 a month for both Internet and unlimited voice, which i consider reasonable, but I don't want to pay anything more. I'm worried the new company may be less interested in keeping my rates low and may use this opportunity to jack them up.

I'll have to put this on my list of things to do on the day before Thanksgiving as that's my next day off.

Low activity day & what I wish for my mother

November 17th, 2014 at 09:44 pm

Stayed home from work on account of my cold.
It's rainy, gray and overcast.

I pushed up our Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant from 2 p.m. to 1, so there wouldn't be any chance of my mother having to drive home in the dark.

I also spoke for the 1st time with my mother's occupational therapist, who was looking for more info on how she could help my mother. She got an earful from me but also told me about a state grant that would probably entitle my mother to at least a few hours of free housekeeping help each week, on account of her dementia diagnosis. (She has the money to pay for it herself, but she won't.)

I go through spurts of trying to help my mother and then "giving up" after a while because she rejects most offers of help and I feel frustrated and defeated. I have to also remind myself I have achieved a few things: I got her to go and get the neurological testing that led to her dementia diagnosis, I got her, by practically twisting her arm, to get the driving test, which she narrowly passed and I got her to start going to see this occupational therapist. I also spoke to her mechanic and got her car thoroughly checked out and I got 4 new tires on her car.

She has yet to accept help in the form of someone coming to the house during the week for housekeeping or whatever. I've come to the conclusion that if I try to talk my mother into it or try to persuade her this is what she should do, I will never get there. It will only get done if I make the arrangements and get it going, either by having someone come free like I've just learned may be possible, or paying myself out of the joint checking account I now have with my mother. I've hesitated doing the latter since this would be the first time I spent her money without her permission and she might have a screaming fit.

In the meantime, I watched an episode of Lilihammer and balanced my checkbook.

My ultimate goal for my mother would be to get her into an assisted living facility, but I'm afraid if I do that too early (like now), then at the going rate for these places, around $5,000 a month, they will suck up all her assets within 4 or 5 years. (She has roughly $135K in savings plus her Social Security of about $925 a month, plus the value of her condo at around $155K.) Once they go through her savings, then she would have no choice but to go into a nursing home, and that would be a fate worse than death to her. She would go kicking and screaming.

So for now, my more immediate goals would be to have someone coming to the house regularly to do some housecleaning and maybe help with miscellaneous things that pop up with my mother. I'd like for her to cede control of ALL bills to me and also give up email. Not gonna happen yet. I'd like to see her stop spending on average $100 a month on vitamins/supplements she reads about that "cure" dementia/Alzheimer's. I'd like her to stop trying to exhibit and sell her art and be content to simply create art. I'd like to find a way for her to socialize and expand her social activities that doesn't require me to take her by the hand and accompany her.

Unexpectedly caught a cold

November 16th, 2014 at 07:27 pm

Friday at work I was feeling fine but as soon as I arrived home that night, I said uh oh, I have a pretty bad sore throat. And things have deteriorated from there.

So I had some shopping plans this weekend that I just shelved. I am not one of those people who can just power through a cold.

However, my handyman FINALLY finished the work on my office ceiling, and it looks very nice. I think he had to make 4 trips here on account of having to do several layers of joint compound on some cracks.

The nearly full gallon of white paint I planned to use I brought up from the basement but upon opening it I saw that it was mostly solidified. So I had to run down to the hardware store yesterday morning and they have a neat thing I never came across before. It was white ceiling paint that goes on with a purply tinge but dries white. The purple helps you ensure you don't miss any spots when you're painting white on white. It seemed to work well.

After he left this morning, I made a trip to Walgreens and picked up some supplies for my cold, including some soft tissues and a nighttime decongestant. OMG there are a lot of cold remedies out there! I must've spent 15 minutes trying to find the exact best one, but mainly, I wanted something that would help me sleep tonight.

Mostly a stuffy, yet drippy nose, sneezing, tired. Oh, what fun.

Luckily, I brought my work laptop home with me on Friday, so I will be working from home hopefully the next few days. No use spreading my germs around. It annoys me to no end that I got sick to begin with. You can never be too careful.

I have pretty much moved back everything I had to move out of my office for the ceiling work. I also bought from Amazon a 40 inch long floating shelf which I think I'll hang in front of my computer desk.

I don't know what got into me, but I bought a violin on Amazon, which I have already returned. It was only $60, and I guess you get what you pay for. The description indicated that it was a wood neck and sides and back, but didn't say what the front is, and I swear that front just didn't look like wood to me. It almost seemed metallic, or maybe particleboard. They also didn't say anything about it being for left-handed or right-handed people, but in reading one of the posted questions, someone asked, do you make violins for left-handed people and the violin maker replied with a link to a much more expensive violin labeled as being for lefties. I'm a lefty, so the one I bought wouldn't do. I used to play when I was in like 4th grade or something, but it's been a very long time and so it didn't even occur to me that a violin would be for lefties or righties.

I don't think I will get another one. I have ALWAYS admired the shape and form of musical instruments, especially the violin, and would even like one just as a decoration around the house, but that seems a little silly. In truth, to really learn to play again I would need to take lessons, and I'm not sure I have time in my life to do that right now.

There was an estate sale I missed in town that listed "musical instruments" among other things, but I just forgot about it and so that's that.

Did you remember to register your Amex card today for Small Business Saturday? I did. You're essentially getting $30 worth of free whatever.

There are a half dozen possibilities around here: gift shops, an upscale grocery store and Agway. I will have no trouble, and I won't even have to leave town.

Amex had 2 other deals I signed up for, unrelated to Small Business Saturday. Charge $30, get $10 back at HSN and charge $10, get $5 back at Petco. The latter is like 50% off if you charge just $10.

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving, although we are only going out to dinner to celebrate. But, I have both the day before and the day after off, so yes, I will do some shopping then.

In 2015, health insurance premiums will drop in many states for Obamacare

November 10th, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Here's a study that will interest anyone who is now, or may be purchasing health insurance via the Affordable Care Act next year.

Prices are dropping or remaining stable in many states, according to this detailed study. In a few rural states, prices will rise.

In my own state of CT, the study reports prices will drop around 6%. That's great news, even though I now have private health insurance thru my employer.

Done, done & done!

November 9th, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Today's doings:

1. Last pickup for the season at the farm CSA: head of cabbage, 2 heads celery, 2 apples, bunch of scallions, bunch of kale, 3 small heads of red lettuce, 2 acorn squash, 3 small peppers.

The farmer said I could pick all the daikon radishes I wanted, as well as Swiss chard and kale. We already had a frost here so I don't know how his fields escaped that. I only pulled up 3 of the white radishes and peeled them into a salad for lunch, and I rather liked them.

2. A load of laundry

3. Grocery shopping at Shop Rite

4. Made some corn chowder for my workweek lunches.

5. Blanched a bunch of celery leaves and froze them for use with future pots of pea soup. They add a lot of flavor.

6. Baked a pumpkin pie.

7. Took a walk (where we walked that time, Dido, if you're reading this Smile and ran into my mailman with his dog, along with some other people and dog walkers, whom I enjoy small-talking with.

8. Went to a craft show and wound up buying 2 pendants which are actually a kind of stone whose name escapes me but her prices were incredibly reasonable. Each one cost $12, compared to another vendor who had gorgeous gem and mineral jewelery but at much, much higher prices.

So it was a pretty nice day and only have to work tomorrow and then have Tuesday off.

Startled and sad

November 8th, 2014 at 09:46 pm

In my hometown weekly paper last night, I read with sadness of my neighbor-across-the-street's wife's death. I did not even know she was ill.

In fact, I never spoke to her in 19 years, but he, my neighbor, always had a friendly word for me when I saw him out mowing or walking his dog down our street.

He lost his twenty-something daughter to a car accident just a few years ago. So sad. He has a son left. His own parents also died together in a car accident many years ago.

I don't know why these things affect me so. I am not close to him. And now the 2-year anniversary of the school shootings is coming up and so there is a somber mood in town.

I had to pay $100 for really nothing this morning when i had an overhead garage door company come out to repair my door. It hadn't been opening and closing properly, but he saw something that slid out of something and fixed it in 30 seconds. He said he could "service" the door to make sure it was balanced and so on. It took him 10 minutes. Oh well. He pointed out a grinding noise inside the motor, which he explained was plastic shredding and eventually, it would go. Maybe next week, maybe in 2 years. I declined to have him replace that.

I am annoyed at my stupid handyman guy, who really isn't a good handyman; he's more of a carpenter who has trouble finding steady work. But the price is right. He taped a taped seam that was coming up in my office ceiling, I believe 2 coats, and is to come over Tuesday, a day off for me, to finally paint the ceiling, but the taped section looks terrible. The compound he used cracked, and you can still see the netting that holds the compound in place. I haven't been able to put my office back together because i knew the ceiling needed painting.

On top of that, he had said he could do the whole job in 1 full day. That was to include the painting. The only reason why he didn't is because he took a very long break about mid-day, over an hour, outside, in my garage. When i went down to investigate, he was talking on the phone. I don't think I should be paying for that.

He's cheap enough that it won't kill me to pay him another $50 for 2 hours of ceiling painting, but I'm just annoyed. I'm so tired of contractors who try to suck whatever they can out of you.

I'm in a bad mood, can you tell? I did a bit of shopping at Kohl's with a coupon and filled up the gas tank at a remarkable $2.99 a gallon. Then I mowed lots of leaves on the lawn. I am quite aware of my using shopping and spending as a salve for my depressed mood. It's a bad habit. In fact, I was wanting to go shopping, although I need nothing, and only didn't do more damage because I couldn't think of any stores nearby where I wanted to go.

For the last 2 months of this year, I'll be contributing 30% to my 401k. Without the mortgage and with much cheaper health insurance, my minimum monthly expenses are now down to $1500, from $2,000 when I was unemployed. I am grateful that at least I don't have financial pressures now.

I stopped at Boston Marked for lunch today but have no idea what I should do for dinner. It will be a Netflix movie night. A guy I dated a while ago had recommended I watch "Californication" on Netflix, and so I watched a few episodes but it's already getting old. A directionless loser/writer with talent but no focus sleeps around with a bunch of women while he wishes he could get his ex back. I can tell why the guy I dated liked the show; the women just flocked to this guy and since this isn't on network TV, there are some pretty suggestive sexual scenes. But in truth, this guy would not be so desirable in real life. He's kind of a jerk, actually.

A butternut squash soup kind of day

November 2nd, 2014 at 08:06 pm

It's a blustery, sunny day here in Connecticut, just perfect for cooking up 2 butternut squashes I got from the farm. All I added was onion, garlic, sage, stock and parmesan cheese, and this creamy soup is to die for. Will be part of my lunch each day for the coming week.

Yesterday my carpenter replaced the decorative mullions that criss cross my office ceiling (and 2 other rooms in the house). I've always liked looks like a tic tac toe grid. My original intent was to have him sand and scrape off all the old paint, but after considering there was probably lead paint in there somewhere, I had him remove and replace the mullions instead, to minimize the dust. I even bought a HEPA vaccuum cleaner and 2 face masks for lead paint removal. His labor was $175 for an 7-hour day and it was another $100 or so for supplies, counting the drop cloths and some caulk and joint compound I needed to repair a crack as well. I still need him to paint the ceiling. (I hate painting ceilings, and this one hasn't been painted in the 19 years I've lived here.)

One of the worst things about getting work done around the house is that it forces me to hang around and wait for him to finish. I did make banana bread and granola while he worked, and picked up around here, but it was still tiring to hang around, and every time he banged something, I kept thinking about my soft fir floors. He also left dirty handprint smudges all over one of the walls, but I have to repaint that wall anyway after having to repair some more cracks above the door frame.

Today I returned some disposable overalls he didn't bother to use and 2 drop cloths, and also picked up a few things at BJs, and a ton of cat food at Wal Mart.

At the CSA I got a head of celery, an acorn squash, 8 small bell peppers, scallions, lettuce, 4 apples. I think I have 2 more weeks to go for the season.

This morning I also wrapped my hot water heater with insulation.

Saturday was an emotionally draining day. It affected me all day, and that's part of the reason why I'm only making a brief mention of it here. I shared with my mother the letter from doctor saying she HAS to take the driving evaluation or she'll lose her license. Of course, she could lose it if she fails the test. She got very, very upset. I have her scheduled to go on Wednesday. This was the 2nd time I scheduled to test so she'd better go.