Home > Archive: July, 2015

Archive for July, 2015

Vegan doings

July 31st, 2015 at 01:42 am

I realized I haven't really talked all that much about my vegan ways.

It's a work in progress. It's not unusual for me to stray from strictly vegan, most always when I don't have time to cook and I'm eating out, OR when I'm so hungry at work and either I didn't bring my own lunch or I did, but I'm still hungry. So then I wander down to the cafe and wind up getting something with meat or cheese in it.

Still, I eat healthier than 95% of people I know. Here's what my typical diet might look like:

Breakfast: Almost always cereal, my half and half combo. That means I fill half the bowl with a store-bought cereal, always something healthy like Barbara's or very simple and low sugar, like Cheerios or corn chex. I especially like Uncle Sam's whole wheat cereal. The other half is my homemade granola, which I've been making regularly for years. It's made of old-fashioned oats, flax seed, which I grind up from whole seeds in my little coffee grinder, a heaping tablespoon or two of cocoa powder (you get the flavonoids of dark chocolate without the calories) a bit of honey, raisins or other dried fruit and walnuts, baked in the oven. But wait, there's more. I always top off the cereal with almond milk and berries. In July,when the wineberries ripen in my yard, I pick my own berries, but most of the time it's blueberries, raspberries or blackberries, organic when I find them or feel I can afford it. Organic blueberries are ridiculously priced so I usually just get regular.

Lunch: I have about 15 or so regular recipes I use to make my bring-to-work lunches. One of my favorites is pea soup with parsnip, celery and its leaves and celery root and carrots too. Mmmm. In the summer, I make a cold pea soup which is also very good (mom's recipe, and it's her granola recipe as well). What i like about the cold pea soup is that you cook nothing so you don't heat up the kitchen. The frozen peas don't really need to be cooked, just like frozen corn.

Other workday lunches often include carrot and celery sticks with a small container of hummus (garlic hummus is my favorite). I love to make my own baba gounsch, which is a pureed eggplant in the blender with garlic, tahini and lemon juice, which you eat with very good bread or pita or with veggie sticks. I have a lot of good cold salad recipes, like pasta shells and sun-dried tomatoes, a wheat berry salad and another favorite, black beans and sweet potatoes with a cilantro dressing. I nearly always bring fresh fruit or a homemade fruit salad as well and sometimes a granola or fruit bar.

If I'm working at home, I like to keep Amy's frozen bean burritos on hand so I can heat them in the microwave. Either that, or I'll have a frozen veggie burger. Sometimes, it's as simple as almond butter and preserves on wheat toast.

Dinner:For dinner, this time of year I often have a huge salad with tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, walnuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, croutons and as a treat, a chopped up hard-boiled egg, only from the organic farm. (I realize this isn't vegan.) In cooler weather I'm back to soups like the split pea soup, corn chowder soup, my own veggie soup, etc.

I really don't miss sweets that much. Not too long ago I was eating small pieces of dark chocolate daily, but I don't especially miss it. I'm not much of a cake person, but if I do crave something sweet, I like to have fresh fruit or make something with fruit in it. I do eat a LOT of fruit, maybe too much. This afternoon, for instance, I made a crisp using sliced organic peaches, a bowl of wineberries and blueberries with the oats and walnuts. Much like my morning cereal except this is baked in the oven.

I don't eat much bread, and in recent months I feel I'm eating a lot less oil. I used to cook with a lot of olive oil, which would be the only kind I'd use if I am using oils, but this also will put the weight on you. I love to saute onions in olive oil, for instance.

The one bad habit I haven't been able to break is my love of pasta. Maybe it's the reason why i haven't lost much weight. I'm at about 140 lbs now at 5'4". Not hugely overweight, but not too thin either. I love pasta with a red sauce, a homemade pesto sauce and in cold salads. I'm not crazy about whole wheat pastas. I like the regular. And I could eat it every day.

I also snack a lot on nuts. This is high fat but I won't give it up. And it's the good kind of fat anyway. And as mentioned I do eat eggs, but only from the organic farm down the road.

As far as the vegan part, the only fish I'm allowing myself to eat is the very occasional shrimp and broccoli at the Chinese place on a Friday night and wild Alaskan sockeye salmon. I do my best to avoid eating beef, poultry and cheese.

Another thing I still crave, but only splurge on once every few weeks, is a can of diet Coke. I swear they do something to make it addictive, becus I've gone without it for many months and still felt a craving for it. Nothing refreshes like it, IMO. I crave it just thinking about it now. I won't buy it for home, but I do from time to time get one from the vending machine at work. And to think I didn't drink my first can of soda til i was about 15 years old, at my best friend's f

Facebook Sales

July 30th, 2015 at 12:20 am

I had great success yesterday selling yarns online.

I decided to expand my outreach toward area fiber arts guilds to nearby Westchester County. I came up with the names and contact info for a few guilds and inadvertently sent one email to a textile group located in New York City, which is way too far away (1.5 hrs), I imagined, for anyone to pay me a visit simply to buy some yarn.

Well, someone from that group did contact me the day she received the email about my yarns, and she asked to come up that very day. She drove all the way from BROOKLYN with her girlfriend and went nuts here, spending $328 on assorted yarn cones. Although I have to shake my head, don't people know better than to show up when you're buying something from a stranger without cash?? She did, and I would not accept a check (no way, no how) so she had to find a local bank and return. Which she did.

You could hardly tell any yarns are missing from my house, that's how many i still have. And the Brooklyn woman thought my prices were great, never mind that I had just hiked them from what I priced them at before, based on advice I got from some area weavers who, it turned out, had me price them way, way lower than they should have. They suggested pricing them at $1 or $2 a cone; I wound up originally pricing them at $2 and 4 a cone, I believe, but since then I priced them between $4 and $12 a cone, depending on size.

In addition, I also on Tuesday sold about 50 yarn tubes to fiber people on a Facebook destash site. In hindsight I also priced them way too low, at $5 each and a split of shipping costs, so even though I was selling these in groups of 4 only, to take advantage of a flat ship rate of $5.25, I only netted about $16 per box after ship and paypal fees on each foursome shipped, and I had 11 customers to deal with, all of whom wanted different colors.

I had no idea people would be so interested in these cute little yarn tubes, and I didn't have much success researching prices as this company, like so many, went out of business. People were responding online left and right, I had to keep sending paypal invoices out and then they would pay, then i had to pack up the right colors, sometimes i ran out of different colors and had to dialogue with them about substitute colors, oh my gosh it became so stressful. Then had to print out USPS ship labels, schedule PO pick-ups from my home and as it turned out, USPS screwed up and did NOT pick up 4 boxes from the front door today even tho they were here to drop off shipping supplies I'd ordered online and even tho I spoke to the mail woman and said YES I will have more shipments this week. Now I'll have to call them tomorrow to make sure they pick up.

It was all rather stressful and all told, my net profit from this learning experience was only about $180.

Yarns are generally lightweight so you wouldn't think they would cost much to ship, which is true, I think, as long as you can ship more than 1 or 2 at a time to make it worth your while. Becus the PO bases shipping charges on both weight AND the size of the package, so if you can't stuff your contents in a fairly small-sized box, you'll still get stuck with sizeable shipping charges. Which tells you why their "small" flat rate box is very, very small. It measures only about 8 inches by 5 inches. There's not much you can fit in that. Roving, which is feather light, would be easier to ship because you could fit it in an envelope.

There was one unpleasant woman who I spent a long time with helping her decide about colors, yada yada yada and she said she wanted to buy them but she didn't pay right away and hours later i sent a query, no answer....waited all afternoon and into the next day and finally, annoyed, I sent a note saying she wasted my time, she could have just told me she changed her mind, to which she replied that she wanted a refund (!!), to which I replied but you NEVER paid me, dingbat (i didn't use that word but i was thinking it) and now she's wailing that she's had problems with paypal before and she used some sort of prepaid credit card and she wants a refund, to which I replied I NEVER GOT any payment from you in any shape of credit card, debit card or paypal account.

I broke my own rule of not holding yarns for anyone unless they paid, and she was the only one I held these for, I guess becus she really seemed to want them. Anyway, I think I need to pick which yarns to advertise on this site next more carefully, based on my knowing what the fiber is (most of my mother's yarns are unlabeled) and what its true value is, and also, what's the most efficient way to ship it.

I prefer using the USPS Priority Mail flat rate boxes (they have small, medium and large sizes) becus it's one rate and you don't have to weigh it. My sense is that these flat rate boxes would make the most sense for faraway destinations like the west coast to limit my expenses, but for destinations up or down the east coast, I would probably do better to pay by weight. You can still print out your ship receipt and schedule home pick-up of your box online, but if you underestimate shipping, delivery will be messed up. I had been using my kitchen scale, but I did order an official, digital postal scale so all should be more accurate moving forward.

Plus I can tell the buyer upfront what the shipping will be once they give me their zipcode. The small box, as mentioned, is $5.25 to ship anywhere in US, but it is really very small and certainly you couldn't fit any kind of yarn cone in there. The next size up is more than double the cost, and the size up after that even more so.

I hadn't really planned on getting into shipping yarns as it does so obviously cut into my profits, but I would like to selectively post certain items and see how they do. My yarn tubes generated a TON of activity and I could barely keep up with the reply posts. OMG.

It is SOOOO hot and humid here on CT. Relief tomorrow afternoon, hopefully, after some storms roll in. I'm working at home tomorrow; not sure if that's a blessing or a curse, with this heat. Today I locked the cats in the basement before I left for the office becus they don't really seem to know to voluntarily go down there when it gets this hot. Of course, they didn't know I wanted them in the basement so I had to chase them around and round until they finally went down there to escape from me.


July 26th, 2015 at 11:53 am

I'm continuing to "negotiate" with my friend how we will spend 3 days having fun. I'm not especially interested in sharing dog-sitting responsibilities. Hopefully we can not only get thru this with our friendship intact but actually enjoy ourselves as well.

It's 7:30 a.m. and we're having a thunderstorm. Strange. This was to be the day I do some gardening, and I'm so glad I started doing some of it yesterday, because today will obviously be a washout.

Yesterday's doings:
I weeded my very overgrown and neglected veggie garden, which only has 3 tomato plants and 3 squash plants which have yet to bear a single fruit. I get a lot of flowers on the squashes, but all male and no female that need to be pollinated.

I bought another bag of chopped hay in a bag and spread that over the area where I weeded to keep the weeds down and allow me to walk in there.

I also mostly weeded a perennial bed on the slope in front of my house. I got to a low-growing shrub, I forget what it's called, and as I weeded close to and under it, I jostled the shrub and several insects flew out. I couldn't quite see what they were but worried that they could be ground hornets, so I avoided the area. Then I started thinking about it again and figured it could be any number of insects, not necessarily the stinging kind, so I returned to the area. Out flew more insects again and this time, I saw that they were indeed hornets/wasps. So I was unable to finish weeding that area. Hmph.

I picked more wineberries and froze some earlier in the week. I would have liked to freeze more today, as I have more than I can eat, but it's way too humid now for them to dry after rinsing.

I did a bit of grocery shopping. I went to the hardware store to get another key made for my mother's condo becus a visiting realtor dropped the key outside in between a concrete stoop and side of condo and could not retrieve it. I have to drop the key off today after seeing my mother.

I also stopped at the healthy pet food place.

Also went to hospital first thing for skin cancer screening and was relieved to learn I don't have skin cancer on my face. There was a little spot, not a mole exactly but a raised surface that wasn't there before and didn't look right. She said it actually was quite common and I could have it frozen off if I wanted. Which I may do so.

I also shipped out $200 worth of yarns to the woman I told you about, stopping at the PO and paying $13 for shipping, which the woman kindly paid for. It should arrive there Monday and hopefully her check, which I already deposited, won't bounce. I think it will be okay.

Also deposited close to $500 in mom's checking account.

I finished reading 50 Shades of Gray. I'd seen the used book at the library in city where I work, in their weekly book sale, and decided to spend the $3 to see what all the fuss was about. It annoyed me that the woman at the desk made discouraging remarks about the book, and I knew enough about it to know she disapproved of the sexual content. I ignored her comments and was tempted to say something about censoring book purchases of patrons, but decided not to.

I can see why this book got so much attention as the plot totally revolves around the sex life of the main character and "Grey." I saw at the same book sale that they also had the 2 sequels to this book but wasn't sure I needed to read about yet more cataclysmic orgasms. I think I got the gist of it.

Today's doings:
Today I'm scheduled to view a "lifestyle suite" at the assisted living place; afterwards I'll see my mother. There's a wait list for the lifestyle suites and they often go to married couples. If you're not part of a couple, you have to make sure the 2 people sharing the suite are compatible and that both families want it. A lot of hurdles there but I have to at least look into it as a way of saving money ($750/mth).

Also need to stop at Wal-Mart, do the paperwork for Masonicare wait list, mail the physician's portion of the application to my mother's PCP and make some sort of lunch for work tomorrow.

The Friday night wind-down

July 25th, 2015 at 01:11 am

It's Friday.

So with the yarn sales to 2 different people this week, I will be able to deposit about $475 in my mother's account tomorrow.

I discovered that the supposedly well meaning advice I got as to pricing from 2 different weavers was way, way low. Yes, I told them I wanted to get rid of it fairly quickly, but they also knew I wanted to put the money toward my mother's care. They said well then price the cone yarns at $1 or $2 each for the small ones, maybe $3 each for the big ones, or sell a whole bag of them for $30.

No wonder the 5 or so women who have come here to buy have bought so much at a time. Because they were getting an unbelievable deal!

One weaver I sold to suggested I try selling at a Facebook site where people sell yarns. I checked out the prices there and was astonished to find cone yarns like i was selling for $3 going for $30 online!

One problem is I don't know what materials they all are, or where they were purchased, but I want to start out posting something on the site this weekend that has labels and see how it goes. I do have a Paypal account so that would eliminate a lot of delays and nervousness about whether someone would pay or if a check was good. I can just sell a little each week and not drive myself nuts with it. I think I have a small fortune in yarns here and I don't want to give anymore away at ridiculous prices.

I'm really a little annoyed at the advice I was given. I'm sure it was well-intentioned, but I had no inkling of the true value of these cone yarns.

In other news, Patient Saver is GOING ON VACATION. Not til early September and only for 2 nights because Waldo shouldn't go any longer than that without his twice daily meds. He would not take meds from any other human than me, and I don't want to separate the cats the entire time I'm away, although that would make it easier to put the meds in his food and then know he would eventually eat it.

I'm going with my platonic friend Ron and I booked us separate rooms in the same motel in Rockport, Mass. It's oceanfront and is $205 a night. For him it will be a little bit more because he won't leave his dog alone so the dog is extra.

I got my neighbors to agree to feed the cats each of the 3 days I'm gone. I could leave an entirely dry food diet out for them but it could attract bugs and also Luther gets constipated when he eats too much and then skoots his butt on the floor, which is majorly gross. I can't reasonably ask the neighbors to come twice a day, though, so I will have them leave canned food, to be supplemented by dry food to nosh on. Or maybe I would skip the dry entirely and have her leave 2.5 cans out each day, which is what they normally consume.

Anyway, I am SO psyched to get away. It will do me wonders. I just hope I can get along with my friend without any major issues. Already I am annoyed with him because he insists on bringing the dog with him and just after I confirmed with him I'd made the reservations, he made a comment about his maybe wanting to have me dog sit the dog for a bit if he wants to go do something. NO, I DONT want to dog sit your dog on my short and precious vacation. It's his decision to bring it and already I know I'll have to put up with the dog standing on my lap (butt in my face) the whole ride up and back, becus this dog has never been trained or crated and only has eyes for my friend. It was never properly socialized and mostly ignores other people. If I'm with my friend and his dog and my friend leaves for some reason, the dog gets all anxious and totally oblivious to everything but my friend and the direction he's disappeared in.

I may decide to sit in the back seat just so i don't have to deal with the dog standing on my lap. I like animals, but this one, as I said, was not properly socialized in my opinion.

More of my Mother's art

July 23rd, 2015 at 08:56 pm

Here's more art for Kiki and others who may enjoy seeing some of these... These are just representative samples.

My mother's passions were weaving and painting (although she also did photography). She found a way to combine these two loves by creating what she called "woven paintings." She would paint on canvas first, then cut up the painted canvas into horizontal or vertical strips which she then wove back together on the loom. Galaxy and Origami in Flight below are good examples of this technique.

If you see anything you like, let me know and I can give you a little more info on it, like the dimensions, title if not shown here (not all are labeled) and medium, price. I apologize in advance for my poor photography skills.

2 matted waterfalls

Woven tapestry (behind plastic)

Bedlam at Sea, there are all sorts of sea creatures embedded in the netting

Galaxy (behind plastic)

Leaving the Weaving

Mountains, River, 2 Sails & Sun (matted)

Origami in Flight

Posies in Tall Vase


Sacred Door

Sails & Gulls

Smooth Sailing on the Lake

The Model

Sold more yarn!

July 23rd, 2015 at 12:47 am

A woman stopped by after work tonight with her husband (drove 40 minutes to get here in rush hour traffic) and bought $263 worth of yarn!

I'm gratified that people are buying it. I seem to have a very high ratio of # of people told I have yarn for sale and # of people who buy something. But finding weavers and knitters is the more challenging part of this equation.

I've been in touch with a number of weavers' and knitters' guilds.

Most of the money will go into my mother's checking account, but I know she also needs some spending money, so I'll give her a small amount, like $20. She's been on a kick lately of wanting to buy an iron (NO) or a small fridge (NO) so I don't want to give her enough to do that.

I will go over there this weekend with an iron and iron all the clothes in her closet in one shot so she stops asking about it. I also really want to see a lifestyle suite.

Sorry, I know I talk about all this stuff incessantly. I've been on this site for years now; years ago I would do the same when I thought of nothing else but dating and finding Mr. Right; later, when I was laid off, all I ever talked about was finding a job and doing freelance work and finding ways to save money.

Here are some pix of the yarns I'm selling, which, like mom's art, are so nice to look at.

Tomorrow I work at home again. Yippee.

The $8,000 "rent"

July 22nd, 2015 at 01:06 am

After paying 2 months worth of bills from assisted living in the neighborhood of $5300 each, I got the shock of my life when I got this month's bill for over $8,000.

They seemed to have caught up with the fact that I wasn't being charged their $400 a mth medication management fee, and so they socked it to me this month with $1200 worth of their stupid, outrageous fee. Keep in mind my mother takes ONE medication, which they hand to her twice a day. For this I will pay $400 a month.

I had noticed I wasn't getting billed for this in the 1st month but chose not to say anything.

Oh well. So instead of the bonanza $5300 a month cost, it's really $5750. That's $5300 for "rent," $400 for med management and $50 for the phone, plus any miscellaneous activity fees.

Do you know how much stress bills like this are causing me? A great deal. My sister is wholly uninvolved. They only give you 2 weeks to pay the bill, so I have to always make sure I've made a transfer from her brokerage account to her checking account a week ahead of time to ensure the money's in the account.

After talking with 2 good male friends, I've come to a decision, one that won't be easy to implement but which is essential to my own well-being.

Instead of driving myself nuts over every dollar spent, for my own sanity I'm trying to reach a state of acceptance, and what will be, will be. No doubt in a few years' time the state will take over my mother's care. I just don't know what kind of mental shape my mother will be in at that time; right now, she would be extraordinarily upset and very likely view me as having utterly betrayed her by putting her into a nursing home. (Never mind she put her mother in a nursing home years back.)

Aside from her mental difficulties, my mother does not appear to need to be in that kind of setting. For 81, she's in very good shape, walks well and dresses quite well and is most of the time a peach to deal with, at least for short visits. At the same time, I know there is no way I could live with her.

My friends have urged me to fully reimburse myself for out of pocket expenses for mom because if my mother's alive in a few more years, a nursing home is inevitable, so there's no need to spend my own money, is their reasoning. I understand it, but it IS hard when it's your mother and you'd like to shield her from the cold, institutional setting that most nursing homes are.

There are only 3 real ways to generate big money savings that would affect how long my mother could stay where she is instead of go to a nursing home. Unfortunately, I had to rule out one of them today.

1. VA Benefits: I was able to dig thru legal papers of my mother's 3 divorces and determine that she was married less than 10 years to husbands #2 and 3. My dad, husband #1, said he believed they were married for 12 years, which would make my mother eligible for substantial VA benefits if she were still married to him. The divorce makes her ineligible.

2. A roommate: I could save $750 a month in the rent if my mother shared a "lifestyle suite" with another resident. The 2 obviously would need to get along. My mother hasn't really connected with anyone there, but lately she has been on this thing where she keeps saying she wants a small fridge. Never mind that they serve 3 meals a day in the dining hall. I wouldn't get it for her except that I might be able to use the lure of a fridge and small kitchenette (sink, fridge and cabinets, no stove) to get her to share some living space with someone. I don't know if she'd go for it; she really likes her privacy. But i believe with the suites they have their own bedrooms but share a bath if I'm not mistaken. I am trying to see a suite to see if i could picture my mother living there, and if so, to show it to my mother. This could be a long shot but it's one of the very few things that could really save some money.

3. The only other option would be for me to suspend my plans, decades in the making, to retire in 4 years, at age 60, and continue working solely to pay for the assisted living which currently costs $69,000 a year. I'm not sure what I net now making $81,200, but it's less than $69,000, and I need at least $25,000 a year to pay my own current expenses. And assisted living will raise their rates 5% or so next year, they told me, plus when she deteriorates due to the disease, they will start billing me more for her care as well. Still, working a year or two (i thinkt hat's all i could stand) beyond age 60 could inject sizable and much needed money infusions into my mother's account.

Doing something like this, against the advice of well-meaning friends, would require long, hard thought. I wouldn't be jeopardizing my own retirement, becus by that time I should be pretty close to my own savings goal and I don't intend to withdraw from savings, only divert current earnings toward her bills.

I'd be interested in hearing your opinions on whether I should do something like that.

Here is a painting of a waterfall my mother did that is going on exhibit (and sale) at a local spa. Think restful and relaxing. Smile Actually, my mother, a longtime weaver AND painter, did many things like this called "woven paintings," where she was able to blend her two passions into one by first painting on canvas, then cutting the canvas into horizontal or vertical strips, then weaving them back together again on the loom. The result was a unique three-dimensional effect like you see here.

I've pretty much wrapped up dialogue with another yarn buyer. I'm excited that she's buying over $200 worth of my mother's yarn! It's all boxed and ready to go; I just will wait to get the check in the mail and ideally delay a day or two in shipping it to make sure the check doesn't bounce.

I have been selling the yarn piecemeal; most weavers I find are very interested in it and so I've done fairly well considering I've only had a few people buying.

On Thursday, my next work at home day on my lunch break I will be zipping over to local nursing home for a quick tour and then to do the paperwork to get on their wait list, which is over a year long.

Although mom still has money to pay for assisted living, it will be spent down fast, and when we get to about $30,000 left is when I will need to start seriously considering calls from the by then 2 or 3 nursing homes whose wait lists I'm on. They will contact you periodically when a bed opens up. You can take it or pass (you don't lose your place on the list), but since it's totally random when beds become available (when people die) you have to make sure you don't wait til all money is gone. Ideally, you go to the nursing with your $20,000 or $30,000 left, you pay a few months for the nursing home out of pocket and then when you get down to $1,600, Medicaid starts picking up the tab. Nursing homes, becus they have skilled nursing, are even MORE expensive than assisted living, which really boggled my mind when I learned that.

I just can't see my mother in a nursing home and shudder to think about it. But who knows with the Alzheimer's how she'll be like in 3 years?

This will be my first full week of Tuesdays/Thursdays at home. I realized with delight just now that with this new schedule I will only have to go into work for 1 day at a time, then I will work at home. At times in the past, the work week just drags on so long, but the work at home days will really change that, as I can get so much stuff done that usually is all bunched up to do on my weekends. I really hope this extra time in my life will make me more sane, less anxious.

Hot hot hot & a change in mindset

July 19th, 2015 at 08:54 pm

Several good friends have told me I'm worrying too much about taking care of my mother. All the what ifs, and what i still feel is worst case scenario, what if we run out of money in 3 years and i have to put her in a nursing home.

It's been pointed out to me that, assuming she's still alive in 3 years (she's only 81 now but she does have AZ), that a nursing home will be inevitable, so all the angst and stress I feel saving a few dollars here or there, or not reimbursing myself for the hundreds out of pocket spent on her each month, is really all for naught. Because once her assets are spent down to $1600, the state will take care of all her needs. So my friends both said go ahead and reimburse yourself for legitimate mom expenses.

Intellectually, I know this to be true, though of course when it's your mother, you can't stand the thought of moving her from the oh-so-comfortable Maplewood with its locally grown food and private room and bath to a shared room with institutional gray walls and absolutely no privacy.

But I need to stop imagining what will happen 3 years from now and just Let. It. Be. Otherwise, I'll just worry myself sick.

So I'm trying to do just that, even while I plan to pursue 2 cost-saving options for my mother: VA benefits if I can document she was married to my father, a vet, for 10 years (I have to call the county courthouse in NJ) and a possible roommate situation in a so-called "lifestyle suite" at Maplewood where i believe you still have a private bedroom but the bath is shared.

In the meantime, I was absolutely SHELLSHOCKED to get a monthly bill Friday from Maplewood for $8,000, not the $5300 I'm used to paying. I have to call them tomorrow; I DO hope this was a mistake.

Looking at the big picture, these could be the best days my mother has left. I don't know how quickly she will deteriorate, but she seems to be in much better shape than many other residents at her place. She still dresses with care, always thinking to put on a colorful scarf (AC on at her place) or chunky beaded jewelery to throw a look together, and she always looks casually elegant. Smile

I have been taking her on occasional little trips now that the condo is mostly emptied out and the place is listed. She enjoyed the trip to a local garden nursery, especially petting the cat lounging on the counter. She also enjoyed the ice cream cone at Friendly's, our trip to Target and the trip up to a local gallery where she is very friendly with the owner. There is a Japanese garden I took her to years ago, I think, that I would like to visit again, but it's better to go on a weekday. Anything related to music, art or animals is a sure hit with her.

Otherwise, progress in selling her art, yarns and weaver accessories is excruciatingly slow, becus I'm basically inviting select interested weavers/knitters over to the house, one at a time, when I find them.

My big plan to have several weavers stop by here on their way home from a regional weavers conference in Mass. was a big bust; nobody responded to the flyer they put up for me there.

Today a knitter from the office stopped by and wound up buying $165 worth of yarns, a warping board and an old weaving book. I was delighted she was in a such a spendy mood. And she gave me a few inches of square space back in my living room. So I believe she was the 3rd yarn buyer here.

My office friend bought this jute, with the basket, for just $40. I love the colors.

She even also expressed interest in buying one of my mother's smaller pieces. I wasn't sure about the price but then told her $50. She didn't have that much more cash anyway so she couldn't buy it, so I sure hope her desire to buy it doesn't fade away once she gets home. In hindsight, so as not to lose the sale, I should have urged her to take it home and pay me for it at the office. DARN.

There's another potential weaver/buyer in CT, but a good 2 hours away, but her son's wedding next month comes first. She may be able to stop by on the way home. Another woman from the same weaving group is also interested, but is going to the Cape for all of August. (Green envy)

I've been talking to my friend about a quickie 2 night getaway, maybe to Rockport, Mass. We wanted to go in August, as I already planned a week off then, but most places are already booked. We started talking about this way too late. However, there are plenty of rooms at this one oceanfront motel in early September, so I may push back my vacation yet again.

I called my vet and he said it would be okay if Waldo had to go without his meds for 2 days...but not any longer. I can probably get my neighbor to come feed them, but she won't be able to administer the meds.

The wineberries have finally ripened. I only picked a quarter cup 2 nights ago but I plan to go out in a little while. It's just so blasted hot out there. It's 82 inside my house despite all the shade and curtain closing and fans going. My AC is in the attic, where it's probably over 100, and it's just so heavy I don't relish dragging it down.

The good news is that the cats will only have to tough it out alone tomorrow. I will be working from home Tuesday and can monitor things here and then the weather will moderate after that. In fact, I saw no days with temps over 82 through the rest of August. Of course, all that can change.

Someone's looking at the condo today. I've had a fair amount of traffic but not a single offer yet. It was listed mid-June and I lowered the price by $5K 10 days ago. A lot of people are probably on vacation.

After my office friend left here with her yarns, my handyman Bill came by and cut and then attached the new vinyl stair treads I got for my basement stairs (last winter) using contact cement. Unfortunately, I could see after he left that the edges of it where the treads meet the risers were curling up. He had put a bunch of bricks on the stair treads to weigh them down, but I went outside and brought in 8 or 10 more. He may have to come back and use nails so nothing's sticking up. This is annoying. The manufacturer had recommended NOT using nails becus over time they will tear into the stair treads.

The contact cement was very stinky so I had a big fan running down there and blocked off the cat door so the cats wouldn't go down there. It did seem to dry quickly though so now they can down to their litter boxes.

I made granola in the big oven; probably not the best day given the heat, but i was completely out of it. Also picked up about $40 worth of groceries, mostly fresh produce and almond milk, from Big Y.

Those are probably all the chores I will get done for the remainder of this exceptionally uncomfortable Sunday. I MAY just have to get the AC down here so I can sleep tonight.

I thought this day would never come

July 15th, 2015 at 11:38 pm

Did you ever imagine that you could get your boss to let you work at home so that you'd have more time to take care of non-work-related stuff in your life during the workday?

That's essentially what I've done. But honestly, I have been stressing for such a long time now, trying to manage a f/t job and deal with the seemingly never-ending series of little "issues" that need to be dealt with as they relate to my mother's care at the assisted living place. Mostly in the form of phone calls, but these very senior level people there....I've counted 5...never return my calls.

I kept feeling like something had to give, and soon. And yet my job is incredibly important to me. I'm in good shape now, financially, but I can't retire yet. I need a few more good years.

I'm shelling out $5300 a month in "rent" and I do expect premium service. I can't figure out if they're extremely understaffed over there or if they would rather avoid my calls then have a quasi-unpleasant conversation. Although I have not been rude or out of line in the least. But I do expect accountability and answers.

Anyway, back to my job. I was going to wait to make another strong push for working at home until after our floor moves to another floor next month, but that really has nothing to do with my situation, and yesterday things came to a head with certain mother-related things so I somewhat impulsively decided to act. First I was only going to ask for one day a week, but then I figured I'd ask for two since my boss would probably feel better if she could win some sort of concession from me, eg, getting me to agree to 1 day a week instead of 2. Two would be ideal, but I'd be very happy with just the 1. I'm so tired of running into stairwells or empty offices just to have a personal phone call.

My boss agreed to the 2 days off without a fight after I sent her a rather detailed note with an Outlook meeting invite to talk about it. I was telling her about how I am still so pressed for time, even after getting my mother situated at the assisted living place and even after getting her condo on the market.

When she had read my note asking to work at home 2 days a week, it appeared she thought I was asking to cut back my hours from 40 to just the 2 days at home, so it may have possibly been a relief to her to hear me say that wasn't the case.

I work for a very enlightened company, one that very recently has been ENCOURAGING its 10,000 employees to work at home. After a downsizing in my location last year, they're smooshing all of us remaining employees onto 1 floor, to save money, so they are again emphasizing work at home arrangements. My boss always resisted my suggestions, direct or indirect, to work at home. She just likes to have me there, she feels a greater sense of control, she's a little old-fashioned, I really am not sure.

Now I think she didn't try to fight it given the urgent and impassioned appeal I made, which comes direct from the heart. Usually I don't share a lot of my personal issues at the office becus I am somewhat reserved, but it has been worth my while to analyze her personality type, and hers is very different from mine, so I adjusted my approach to talk about the work at home stuff. Meaning that, like a lot of women, her primary personality characteristics are emotion-based. Her heart dictates her decision-making, or at least makes a strong contribution. I, on the other hand, am highly logical/analytical and don't usually let my personal feelings get in the way. But I did share a lot of highly personal information with her to make sure she knew this was for real, it wasn't just a story or something.

Also, I think one reason she caved is because she knows she'd have no leg to stand on if I wound up leaving the company and then she'd have to tell her boss why I left. That would look very bad becus as I said, this company is very open-minded about work at home stuff.

I was also able to set up my work phone today so that when I work at home, any calls going to my work phone will automatically get routed to my home phone, so I won't miss any calls.

So I have Tuesdays and Thursdays at home. In addition to the all-important having extra time to deal with my mother's affairs, working from home will also offer these benefits:

1. So much less stress becus I'll be able to get mom-related things done more promptly, without having things drag on from one week to the next, simply becus I can't find time during the workday to make some phone calls.

2. I'll spend one-third less on gas and wear and tear on my car

3. I can more easily attend monthly alzheimer's support group meetings, which i hadn't done before becus there's very little time for me to get home first, feed the cats, and i'm often too tired to head out. If I'm working at home all day, it's much more likely I'll be able to attend the meetings.

4. My cats will love having me around more. They get so bored alone all day.

5. I can sleep a little later if I need to, and I have insomnia a lot, so I could sleep in a full extra hour if I wanted.

6. I don't have to dress up for work.

7. I'll have better home security simply becus I'm around more during the week. This is always something I worry about, somewhat, becus if someone really wanted to break in here, they could.

8. I can potentially save money by there being less likelihood of eating in the office cafe as I'll only have to make carry-in lunches 3x a week.

9. I can more easily keep my house cool in summer, which I routinely do by closing drapes and opening windows throughout the day. It does make a difference. Don't have to close up all the windows when rain is forecast either.

10. I can more easily schedule heating oil deliveries or home repairs becus I'll be home more.

11. Less usage on my cell phone minutes.

The only downsides I see are that I'll use up somewhat more heating oil in winter since I'll be home and wont' want it too chilly, and I also won't be able to shop the farmer's market on Thursdays in the city where I work, though there's a farmer's market here in town on Tuesdays which has organic stuff, so even better.

It's all about work/life balance. Such a simply concept, and yet so many people don't get it. It makes sticking with this job for a few more years so much more doable. I got a call from a recruiter when i got home from work and I quickly deleted the message. I have zero interest in other job prospects. The one I have is becoming pretty near perfect.

Discouraged (real estate & other issues)

July 11th, 2015 at 11:03 am

So my mother's condo has been on the market for about 7 weeks now.

There has been some traffic and a lot of lookers are saying they don't like the set-up with the finished basement, which requires use of a staircase for access to it that is shared (just the staircase) with one other, adjacent property owner. So whenever you leave that lower level room, you'd always have to lock up.

People have also commented that they prefer wood or laminate floors to the wall to wall I just put down, but I mean, at this price point, beggars can't be choosers. The condo was listed at $158K with me chipping in $3K toward the buyer's closing costs. It's hard for me to believe that a 2 bedrm, 1.5 bath condo in Fairfield County, Connecticut could be had for so little money. This is a pretty expensive area to live in.

Unfortunately, I agreed yesterday at my realtor's recommendation to lower my asking price by $5,000. Because another unit in the complex was just listed for barely $2,000 more and it has a new kitchen, hardwood floors and a garage instead of the finished lower level. Most people seem to prefer the garage. (Clearing snow off a car all winter gets old fast.)

So my realtor said we should do whatever we can to set my unit apart from that one, price-wise, and to try to get mine sold first, cus otherwise, the sale of the other one would be used as a comparable against mine, and it might make mine look overpriced and force me to drop my price further.

I'm not happy about dropping my price by $5K, but the place needs to be sold, and the stress from having it hanging over my head is not something I want to have over the winter. My carrying costs are about $500 a month. That includes property taxes (discounted becus my mother was eligible as a low income senior but she would have to reapply next year and I'm guessing she would be ineligible becus she was no longer residing at this address), electric (which is $40 a month cus nothing but stove and hot water heater are running, tho this would rise even with minimal heat in the winter) and HOA fees, which are $363 a month.

I really wouldn't care so much about the price if, say, my mother had passed and the money from condo sale was just my and my sister's inheritance. But in this case, my mother's assisted living is running $69,000 a year (and will rise when her condition significantly deteriorates). I won't get much for the condo at this rate, given the already 1 price reduction, realtor's commission (which drops to 5% if they don't sell it in I think we said 2 months) and oh, i just learned of the $1200 or so conveyance fee, which state of CT collects from sellers, just becus it can.

So the net proceeds from condo sale would barely pay for 2 years at her assisted living place.

This weekend there is a weavers conference in Northampton, Mass, and I was able to get the woman I've been dealing with who manages the website for the CT weavers group to post a flyer I created at the conference inviting weavers to stop by my home to buy some cheap yarn on their way home from the conference. Northampton is a few hours away from here but this is a regional conference.

I learned about this conference very last minute from another weaver who stopped by here and so I don't think the webmaster would have received the flyer I mailed until yesterday. (Yeah, she could have just printed it out herself from an emailed copy from me, but she didn't suggest that and since she was doing me a favor, I didn't ask.) So hopefully she will look at her mail and post it today so I get some weavers calling me. I said "By appt only" so I don't have people popping in at all hours. I am hoping I will get at least a few tomorrow afternoon.

The liquidator for the art said he wanted to meet to discuss a few marketing ideas he had, but he failed to follow up after I told him I was working from home yesterday. I'm not sure I can count on him for anything, so at the same time I've been talking to another gallery person who was very interested in showing my mother's art.

On top of all this, my mother still leaves me phone messages saying she misses me terribly and she hasn't seen me in ages, even though I've seen her every weekend for the past year. As usual, stretched too thin, and the issues with selling this condo are also a worry hanging over my head.

I have to accept the fact that I can only do so much and that the condo will sell at what the condo will sell for. It would be better to sell it now at a lower price than refuse to negotiate or lower it further and then be stuck with it, and its monthly carrying costs, through this coming winter and into next spring.

I have to accept the fact that if my mother is still alive when she runs out of money at assisted living in about 4 years tops, I will have to put her in a nursing home. I have to accept that I cannot make everyone's lives perfect, even for those I love. I have to not allow guilt to goad me into stressing and worrying more about all the what ifs.

It was a payday, in more ways than one

July 3rd, 2015 at 11:25 pm

Yes, I got my usual paycheck today from my employer, for which I am ever grateful.

But it was also a "payday" success because I was able to sell my mother's 2nd and larger loom to the couple from PA. She's been a weaver for many years and so she knew right away how to dismantle this thing:

She said she'd been looking for this particular loom for a long time and that they were no longer making it. So she got it, with 2 extra reeds, some shuttles AND 2 bags of yarns for just $200. Then she spent another $120 on more yarns and a shuttle. So I was quite happy to get rid of a FEW of the piles around here and make some money which I immediately deposited at her bank before they closed.

However, there is still plenty of fiber around here:

While she and her husband were dismantling it, a carpet guy came over to measure and price the 2nd staircase, but their price of over $600 is way too high, if I compare that to the $400 or so that Empire would have done it at (or $500, after they jacked up the price). I won't deal with Empire again but I won't pay $600, either. I may just wind up giving a $400 credit to the condo buyers.

After they left, I filled up my car with more stuff from the lower level. I was so pooped, not sure why, I didn't make that many trips up and down the stairs. Maybe just the heat.

Now that the condo is listed, there is a somewhat lesser sense of urgency to move, so the stuff I am moving I am a bit more reluctant to toss or donate like so MUCH other stuff, since I theoretically have some spare time to try to sell the stuff.

So I took some pix of a stained glass floor lamp I'm keeping in the condo for now, for staging, but I'm asking $60 for it on Facebook Tag Sales. There's a full size wood artist's easel I might like to try selling too.

While at the condo, I took some photos to replace a few crappy ones my realtor took. I mean, she posted one photo purportedly of the front of the condo which mostly showed a lot of cracked asphalt and a bunch of ugly mailboxes. I retook it to get a whole lot of summer flowers now in bloom in the foreground, with the condos at an angle behind the flowers, the American flag in there too. So much better, what was she thinking.

I am still feeling so pooped. Possibly dehydrated.

I'm looking at my schedule for tomorrow and see that mainly, I can do yardwork, before it gets too hot, and then pay a visit to my mother.

There is another woman who responded to my handweavers guild ad who was interested in a pair of hand carders and a niddy noddy. Yes, there really is such a weaver's tool that goes by that name. It's like a whole other language. Anyway, I invited her to pay me a visit this weekend, since I have Monday off too. Perhaps I could entice her to buy yarn.

A knitter acquaintance from work also expressed a mild desire to visit this weekend after she saw my photos of the yarns on the hand weavers guild website. So please, please come. The sooner I sell these yarns, the sooner I can make some order in my house.

I am sipping a smoothie I made of green melon, plain yogurt, agave nectar, lime juice and mint. Pretty refreshing.


July 3rd, 2015 at 12:48 am

I had hoped to break the $700,000 barrier for my investment assets on the 1st of July as i was up to $699,000 but that was not meant to be. Stock market's been a little jumpy lately with the Greek default issues so I lost $12,000.

My next 4 days off are jam-packed with things to do.

This morning I saw 2 female turkeys and 6 poults (baby turkeys) in my yard, Very sweet. It's been a while since I saw poults around here, and they were so small, I'm guessing they weren't born more than a week or so ago.

The adults were on guard. When I remember how my sister had problems when hawks swooped down from the sky to grab one of her free-ranging chickens, I can see that the poults might be fair game as well, as they were quite a bit smaller than a hen.

I watched the first show of a series called Catastrophe on Amazon Prime. It was recommended somewhere. About a British woman and an American man who have a fling of a few days when he's in Britain on business, then he goes home and she learns she's pregnant, so they rather impulsively decide to get married.

After the intensity of about 3 weeks when I was feverishly trying to empty out my mother's condo, and the subsequent abandonment of my vegan diet for the convenience of fast food (mostly Boston Market), I have been able to get back on the vegan wagon.