Home > Archive: April, 2016

Archive for April, 2016

T. Rowe's thoughts on my retirement plans

May 1st, 2016 at 12:50 am

So T. Rowe Price offers a free analysis of your overall investments/savings and recommendations for whatever your long-term goals may be, such as retirement.

The service is free as long as you have at least $100,000 invested with them. The person who works with you and prepares the report is a CFP.

You begin by filling out a fairly comprehensive questionnaire that includes what you'd like to know and listing all your current assets/investments and in my case, when I'd like to retire and how much annual income I'd like and so on.

After that, I scheduled a time to talk on the phone with the CFP; it was about a 40-minute phone call during which time she clarified and confirmed various things and we discussed my personal issues, concerns and points of interest. These included, can I retire BEFORE age 60? Will I enjoy the $40 to $43K annual income I desire? Will I outlast my savings?

Yesterday I received the emailed 20-page report which summarizes my original inputting information as well as their specific recommendations, not only in terms of the overall makeup of my portfolio but also recommended T. Rowe Funds to consider. Becus of course they would like it if this resulted in my investing more with them, even though they're aware much more of my money is now with Vanguard.

They also ran the Monte Carlo simulations to see how likely my money would last til the end (age 95 is the number I used) given different market scenarios.

But that's not all. They will schedule a 2nd meeting with me to discuss the report and respond to any questions I have, and to help me implement the plan if that's what I want.

And with my consent, they will check in with me on an annual basis after this, to see if there are any material changes in my circumstances, and so on.

I have to say, I'm impressed to have these resources at my disposal, at no charge at all. Guilt may cause me to invest more with them, even though I really do want to keep as much as possible with Vanguard, because they have lower fees. I also am very partial to index funds whereas T. Rowe would like me to invest more with actively managed portfolios. They're not being pushy at all.

I am very tired right now but I took a quick read of the report tonight. Based on my risk tolerance, among other things, they're recommending my asset allocation remain roughly 60% stocks/40% bonds/cash for the next 3 years, until retirement. I guess, too, this speaks to my current portfolio not being bad at all since they are not recommending wholesale changes. She commented that she thought it was very well-diversified. In retirement, they're recommending a 50/50 split.

They are suggesting some tinkering/tweaking of my current portfolios in terms of weighting of specific funds and one thing i remember her telling me on the phone is that they would not recommend sector funds. Meaning, I'm now invested in their Health Science Fund and a Vanguard REIT fund, both of which focus on a single sector. They feel these are too volatile given my statement that a 15 or 20% correction now, at this point so close to retirement, would concern me "very much."

I'm not opposed to closing those both out, though I do remember one reason i got the REIT fund is that I no longer have a mortgage, so it represented some real estate diversification that I don't otherwise have exposure to.

Anyway, I do have to study this in more details and I believe some of their numbers were off. I'd also like to get them info on my company match each year. Not sure if it's really that significant given I'll only have that for another 3 years if things go my way.

I will share more tomorrow.

In other news, Patient Saver IS crazy itchy itchy itchy. I have a bad case of poison ivy which i got last week. I'm hopeful that "any day now," i should turn the corner and start to see an improvement. The worst spot is on the inside of my left wrist. I have some also near my right elbow and on my stomach.

The itchiness definitely waxes and wanes. I've been trying to wear short-sleeves shirts when I can because even the slightest brushing up against it as a sleeve would makes it really scratchy. It's usually around this time i go see the doctor for prednisone, but if I can avoid nasty drugs, I would prefer that.

The part on my left wrist looks downright nasty. I was planning on going to a reception at the arts group today and i didn't want to repulse anyone with it, so I did wear a long-sleeved shirt to cover it up.

I spent a few hours at the arts place and spoke to a number of very nice little old ladies. They are all so friendly and sweet and kind. I decided to purchase 2 small framed photographs, one of just 2 sales today. I thought they were really quite reasonable, at $40 each, and then I learned that if purchased together, they were just $60 for the pair. They were photos of shorebirds on the beach with frames that looked "beachy." God knows where these will go, with all my mother's art, but I love birds and I wanted to support the arts. Smile

They all seemed quite pleased, although the woman who took those photos wasn't there. She will get a phone call. I won't be able to take the photos home til the end of the show, when I pick up my mother's work. I had someone take my picture with my mother's work there and someone had prepared a half dozen tabletop tent cards describing my mother and her work. Plus I had her bio and framed photo there and 2 of her larger pieces.

What to donate

April 29th, 2016 at 12:11 am

I had a good talk with someone from the non-profit healthcare center here in town. She and the doctor who founded this place are going to come to my home to see what art I'd like to donate.

I went through about 2 dozen rolled up wall tapestries I hadn't even looked at yet and decided I'd like to donate most of them. They just aren't my style, take up a lot of space and I already have enough to sell with the framed and matted pieces.

I'm also thinking of donating up to another 10 paintings done in what i would call a primitive style depicting small village scenes based on photos my mother took in Morocco and Mexico. The Moroccan ones are interesting, because in some cases I have both the original framed photo of a particular scene as well as the painting, so there's added interest in seeing how the artist interpreted a particular scene.

At the same time, the Moroccan stuff looks very Middle Eastern; my mother was fascinated by the architecture and incorporated a lot of it in some of her work, but we're at a time now when Middle Eastern stuff might not be so appealing to a lot of people becus terrorism has given that part of the world a bad name.

This is all much more than I originally envisioned donating but I think I would feel mostly relieved to move it out of here. It would be going to a very good cause, one I believe in strongly (free healthcare for all) and a highly respected group in town. Plus it would stay in my town, which, after 20 years here, feels important to me.

I would just want to take a few photos of the installed art. Maybe with this size donation we could get a small plaque with my mother's name on it. I would really like that. So would she. My goal is to keep her name alive, and her art still enjoyed by others. This is what drives me.

They are moving into a 5,000 square foot space they'll own this October. So I don't know if they'd wait to put it all up til then or use it where they are now, a smaller rented space.

All that being said, we've had these discussions without them having seen my mother's art yet. To be perfectly up front, I am keeping what I feel are the best pieces, as well as those pieces i think are most sellable. The ones I'm donating I don't care for much and I don't know that they're as sellable either. I hope when they come to see it they don't agree with me or feel I'm trying to donate the least desirable stuff.

And art is so subjective...what if they don't personally like it? Well, regardless of their personal taste in art, my mother's art is very, very colorful, and it would certainly liven up the usual sterile doctors' offices.

My portfolio did pretty well for the month of April, thanks to the stock market. It was up $22,000.

More perennial sales from my garden

April 28th, 2016 at 12:27 am

The 1st woman showed up tonight after work with her mother to pick up some blue milkweed, a very pretty perennial that grows about waist high and looks like an ornamental grass.They spent $42 on the clumps which I was selling for $9 and $12, so I was quite happy they bought so much. Quite honestly, the larger $12 clump could be easily divided into 4 smaller clumps, so I think my prices are pretty reasonable.

It's really nice to be able to earn a little pocket money from something growing in the garden that was "in the way" and would have otherwise been tossed in the woods. Kind of at the last minute I decided what the heck, I've sold this before a few years ago, why not do it again? It makes me feel less dependent on my salaried job, which of course I am, but it still feels good to come up with creative ways to earn a buck.

I have someone else coming over tomorrow and a third person as well, although she seemed less definite.

I have my first case of poison ivy for the season. It's on the inside of my wrist. Ironically, I WAS wearing gardening gloves but the poison ivy rash is immediately BELOW where the glove ended. It's a nasty-looking welt but so far I don't think it's spread.

Just now, someone on Facebook said they wanted 3 yarn cones I've had posted for a while. Waiting for her to ok the ship cost. I recently gave away 3 boxes stuffed with assorted odds and ends yarns that i was having trouble selling becus it was just a single skein in 1 color, for instance, or one small cone. It's all been sitting around here long enough (!), I'd say, since last June, so just about 11 months!! I have just one small table of yarns left, and these are priced at dirt cheap prices. Just to move them out of here. At some point, I'll likely donate any of these that are still left, too.

I've found that one effective way to get people to buy more is to figure out the shipping cost when someone indicates they want something, and then I can often point out that there's room in the box to fit more yarn cones. I've learned from prior experience that adding 1 or 2 additional cones often does not increase the shipping at all, so the buyer is essentially getting those with free shipping. People have thanked me for pointing this out. So it's a win/win!

When I dropped off art for my mother's tribute show last night, one of the women on the board asked me if I'd want to present the Best in Show award, but I quickly declined since as you may recall, i don't like speaking in front of a crowd. Although I think I could handle saying like 5 words. She accepted that, but she also mentioned they would say a few words about my mother, and recognize me as her daughter, at the start of the ceremony. So I have been shanghaied into going to the opening reception this Saturday, which I hadn't really planned on doing. Oh, what the heck, I may enjoy it. They told me the person who last year's show was dedicated to (i think also the child(ren) of someone who died) sold their work at the show, even though it technically wasn't part of the show, becus only live people can take part. I brought 2 large pieces of my mother's, and one woman on the board commented that the prices I had on them, $400 each, was very reasonable, which confirmed what I felt was true. But again, I need to start moving some pieces.

I think I will bring my camera and ask someone to take my picture standing in front of my mother's work. The women there are so kind. I will get a better idea of the cross-section and makeup of this group at their Saturday function.

I also had a meaningful conversation with a woman when I got a postcard in the mail from a arts/cultural center in Pearl River, NY. It was about an art opening, and I knew my mother had exhibited there before, but I figured since I could safely say I wouldn't want to schlep art that far (an hour away, and it would mean 2 trips, 1 to drop off and 1 to pick up), I decided to call the phone number to get my mother (me) off their mail list, as I have done for countless other types of unwanted mail.

As it turned out, the woman who ran the gallery answered the phone and she knew my mother very well. She knew my mother when she was still married to husband #3, and that's going back many years. She also was the one, she told me, who introduced my mother to a well-known sculptor, now deceased, who collaborated with my mother when she wove a silk tapestry for the Chapel at West Point. It was one of the high points of her career. I am in possession of some correspondence she had with the sculptor, along with a very nice thank you note on West Point stationery.

Anyway, she was saddened to learn of my mom's passing. I knew there would be people close to my mother whom I wouldn't necessarily know about by looking at her phone directories. The woman said she also does a lot of exhibits at hospitals and healthcare centers and that Pearl River is only her base and that she travels a lot. So even though I'm not up for "schlepping," we did agree that when I had time I would email her some jpg photos of my mother's work that I'd be up for selling. And I'll see what, if anything, comes of it.

Coincidentally, she said she and her husband were driving from Vermont that very day, where I guess they live, down to Manhattan, to meet the sculptor's widow for dinner, who must have met my mother at the time of their collaboration. They said they would mention my mother to her.

And the week after next, I have an appointment with the local florist in town, who also had a very nice gift shop. I will bring representative pieces of some of my mother's styles/genres but they have very limited wall space so it has to be "small."

So each place has their own requirements and I am trying to be thoughtful about which pieces to offer where. I still haven't heard back from the medical facility where I'd like to donate a few pieces. Maybe tomorrow, my next work-at-home day.

It's going to be a very busy day. Tomorrow I also am getting a call from T. Rowe Price. Assuming you have a certain minimum invested with them, they give you a complimentary evaluation of how you're doing after you input all your balances and tell them what you are most concerned with knowing. It'll be a 40-minute meeting so I'm curious to hear what they have to say.

Dumb, de dumb dumb

April 26th, 2016 at 12:40 pm

i was really looking forward to voting for Bernie today. Unfortunately, when I showed up at the polling place, they informed me I was "Undeclared/independent." I thought I changed over to Democratic years ago, but I guess not. DARN IT. I have been very independent all my life, but let's be real -- I've never voted Republican, so why not just register Democratic so I can at least vote in primaries.

I am back to selling divided perennials from my gardens, not because I have to, as I did around 2010, 2011 and 2012, when I was underemployed, but only because I wanted to dig up two large overgrown clumps of blue milkweed and after planting it in 4 different spots around the perimeter of the yard, still hated to toss any away.

As before, there were plenty of people expressing interest in my blue milkweed! It's different, people aren't familiar with it, and yet they should be, because it's deer-resistant, attractive and looks similar to an ornamental grass with pretty blue star cluster flowers in the spring. I have people scheduled to come over today, tomorrow and Thursday. Very cool.

Right after work I'm off to Arts Association to drop off 2 large pieces of mom's art for the spring juried show which will be dedicated to my mom's memory. In addition to the 2 pieces, I've created 2 8.5 x 11 desktop frames, one with her bio and one with her photo and a short quote by her on her art running along the right column. It all looks good.

I will wait til after this show is over to tell them I don't want to do the solo show in the fall. It's just too much work and the chances of a sale or sales after just a 1 month exhibit is pretty limited, IMO.

Went walking with a good friend at work yesterday. She was very supportive when I was going through all the stuff with my mother, because her husband had been through the same thing with his mother just 6 months prior. To treat themselves after a few very tough years with the Alzheimers, they took a weeklong trip to some Caribbean islands to a very expensive resort that cost them about $7,500 for 3 people. It was a heavily discounted packaged. She raved about the resort, the trip and entire experience. Wow. I could probably tour western Europe for 2 months for that price! But they can afford it; she and her husband both make good money.

10 ways to honor the Earth in 2016

April 23rd, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Technically, I believe Earth Day was yesterday, but many towns are celebrating today.

There's so much you can do to keep the planet we live on healthy. How many of these are you doing? This list is oriented toward other homeowners; I am sure if you rent you could come up with your own lists just as easily.

1. Pick up litter. Each year my town has Lose the Litter day where volunteers fan out across town and pick up litter on their own streets or on assigned streets. Organizers hide special gold soda cans with free movie or restaurant tickets hidden inside.

Litter is a blight and shows disrespect. As a vegan, I believe my body is a temple; in the same way, I feel the Earth is our home and should be treated with respect.

I've picked up litter for years, tho not always during the town-sponsored Lose the Litter days. I must admit to getting out of the habit in recent years, but i do still pick up things I think could hurt wildlife, such as broken glass or deflated balloons that can be mistaken for worms by birds.

2. Recycle. When I stop to think about all we recycle these days, it's a lot. But so much more needs to be done. Debris floating around in the ocean and choking marine life is in itself a terrible thing.

In my town, I recycle cardboard, clean, dry paper packaging, copy paper, newspapers, magazines, junk mail, plastic food containers, metal food containers, glass, plastic garden nursery pots, coat hangers, kitchen "organics," meaning food waste, clothing (via GoodWill) and shoes/sneakers, when I learn of a drive going on, household hazardous wastes. My town also recycles mattresses, used motor oil and large bulky metals like refrigerators.

IMO there's an urgent need to find a way to recycle Styrofoam and soft plastic bags.

3. Drive an energy-efficient car. I think I'm on my 5th Honda now; the next one will be a Prius. If you're lucky enough to live in a urban area where you don't need a personal car, even better. Here in suburban Connecticut, mass transit is sorely lacking.

Low gas prices are definitely not here to stay. Even though they're low now, I still try to consolidate trips whenever possible.

4. Here's a controversial one: Consider having just one child. Let's face it, the Earth is over-populated. If you consider how many resources it takes to raise just one individual, and how many resources that one individual will consume in their lifetime, just think how much impact choosing to have one child instead of 2 or 3 could have on the planet.

5. If you can afford the upfront costs, which have dropped considerably, put solar panels on your roof.

6. Make sure you have adequate insulation, especially in the roof, where most heat escapes.

7. Use a timer for your lighting, furnace and hot water heater, none of which need to be on 24/7.

8. Consider leaving a portion of your assets to worthy environmental groups in your will, and donate during your lifetime.

9. Use electric or cordless outdoor landscaping equipment. These days, battery or electric lawnmowers, trimmers, edges and blowers are readily available. Who wants to mess with dirty, noisy gas-powered equipment and have to store flammable liquids in their garage? The neighbors will thank you each weekend when they get to enjoy their outdoor barbecue without the roar of your mower in their ears.

10. If you have children, spend quality outdoor time with them so they come to love the solitude of a walk in the woods, understand the wonder that comes from watching a dragonfly flit above a meadow or a box turtle plunk into a pond. The more time kids spend glued to their iphones, ipads or iwhatnots, the less they'll connect with nature, and the less inclined they'll be to protect it.

Look what i found at the dump!

April 21st, 2016 at 11:41 pm

I'm so excited to have found this there:

A Japanese lantern! I saw a new one like mine on Amazon for $141,

though it appears mine is missing the roof. It also has one broken leg, which I also was able to retrieve from the concrete/masonry waste pile at the dump. Too bad I didn't have the roof. But it still has a very distinct Buddhist temple-like look to it, which I like.

It was quite heavy but I managed to haul it into the trunk of my Honda. You never know what you'll find in the masonry rubble pile! Once I found some perfectly good, unbroken terra cotta pots, including one that was quite nice with a weave design, which I still have. Another time I found a few dozen Belgian blocks, which I used to line some perennial beds. I'll have to check there more often!

As far as this lantern goes, without the roof, there's a round hole where I can put a plant in. And believe it or not, the lantern stands fine without the 4th leg, so if I wanted to just turn it so the leg was facing into some shrubbery, you wouldn't even notice it missing.

I am wondering if there's a way to repair broken concrete stuff?

Forever Wild & Free, by Luther H. Patient Saver

April 21st, 2016 at 09:35 am

Yeah, so The Human is fond of saying she is "a writer's writer." Meaning, she has a passion for what she does and she was born to do it.


Where does she come up with this stuff?

To which I say, Hey, lady. If you're a writer's writer, I'm a cat's cat. Hear me roar. I am Cat. Forever wild and free.

It makes me chuckle when I think about how the only place "safe" for The Human to pet me is on the top of my head or back of the shoulders.

Occasionally, she can scratch my ears.

Anywhere else, and those human fingers are fair game.

She just doesn't learn. She says my giant paws with the hair growing between my delectable Maine Coon toes is just too hard to resist.

Unwisely, she tries to touch them. This triggers my bite reflex, but somehow the years of domesticity have softened the 3,700 pounds-per-square-inch strength of my jaws, so I will lunge for her paw, clamp down on her tasty little finger in my mouth, then immediately lick it a little to let her know she'll get off with just a warning...this time. She still hasn't taken the hint though. Slow learner.

Allow me to properly introduce myself.

My full name is Luther Hoover Patient Saver. I was named Luther partly for the German theologian who began the Protestant Reformation, and also partly because if you say "Luther" very fast it sounds like Lucifer, the devil, and umm, that sounds like me.

As for my middle name, I was NOT named for our 31st president, as you might think, but for the venerable vacuum cleaner that, like me, sucks up everything left on the floor. Stringies, rubber bands, giant wandering ants, bits of strangely alluring dust and captivating, captured flies are just a few of my favorite things.

I am daring and dashing when it comes to anything food-related. The human says I'm "food-oriented." I don't know about that, but I can tell you nothing stands between me and FOOD.

Like, every night, we get our after-dinner snack. When The Human heads upstairs for the evening, I know the first thing she'll do is head into the bedroom to draw down the blinds. I like to race joyfully into the room ahead of her (practically tripping her in the process and often eliciting a loud shouting of my name), so I can leap atop my giant cardboard cat scratcher. This will put me about 12 inches higher and 12 inches closer to the aforementioned snacks when they fall from her paws onto the floor. One needs to be prepared.

So last night at the all-important Snack Time (something I've petitioned Obama know, declaring a national Snack Day) The Human put a few snacks in front of me on the scratching post and a few in front of my bro, Waldo, who was lying on the bed.

I wolfed mine down in .45 of a second. Surprisingly, Waldo didn't touch his. What can I say, sometimes he's in the mood, sometimes he's not. I jumped on the bed and Waldo, who's such a push-over, allowed audacious me to gobble up HIS snacks from right between his paws, with nary a protest.

Wow. He's so mellow. It's hilarious.

Like me, Waldo can only be petted very carefully. But not because The Human could lose a finger from him like she could from me. It's because he's still so gosh darn shy. As long as The Human doesn't move too fast or try to scoop him up in an embrace, he's good. As he tells me all the time, he's a lover, not a fighter.

I guess that's why we get along so well. Cus I'm the alpha, and he's not. It works for us.

Well, it's 5 a.m. and I need to fit in another cat nap before daybreak. hope you enjoyed these little insights into the workings of the feline mind.

Up Next: Me, the Escape Artist

Found myself a new lawnmower man

April 21st, 2016 at 12:58 am

I decided to work at home today because I think I have a cold. It's either that or the allergies I mentioned yesterday. I'm really not sure becus if it is a cold, it didn't come on like they always do, starting with a sore throat.

I found and hired a new guy to mow my lawn this year, at the same price I paid last year.

I called at least 4 guys who said they didn't travel this far out; i had called them because they ranked high on Angie's List.

If the first guy I reached had gotten here last night when he said he would swing by to look at the lawn, I would have given him the job right then and there, because he is fairly local and matched the price I paid last year. But he was a no-show last night and while I touched base with him this a.m., he didn't say when he would be here so I waited here all day; he didn't show up til tonight.

But by mid-afternoon, I had lost faith he would show up at all, and so I found a guy in my hometown who also matched my price. I decided to go with him because he told me exactly when he would come by and he arrived on time.

They were both very nice but if the 1st guy had that much trouble just getting here, I was wondering if the mowings themselves would be a problem.

I decided to give 4 large boxes of yarn odds and ends to a weaver friend of mine; she came by mid-day to pick them up and we chatted for a while. These are half used cones or small volume skeins that wouldn't be of much use to most people but i thought her weaving groups might be able to play with the yarns all the same. Seemed a shame to throw them out but it was getting harder and harder to sell them, especially since most at this point don't have labels as to fiber. I still have 1 small table of yarns I am selling, and the weaver friend purchased $20 worth. I helped carry the boxes to her car.

I have an electrician coming over Saturday morning for 5 small jobs; i don't know that he'll be able to do them all.

When I was at work Monday, I stopped in at a new French Vietnamese restaurant for something as I was still hungry after having my own tomato/brussel sprout soup.

I got a coconut tapioca and was wondering why it cost so much ($5). Well what a treat it was. It was the large pearl tapioca with something crusty on top and under the tapioca was some gelatinous chia seeds and under that was pineapple chopped up very fine. The whole thing was very delicious, so much so that it inspired me to search for chia seed tapioca recipes. I made a super easy chocolate version. What happens is that the chia seed turns gelatinous when you combine it with a liquid like almond milk, so it works great in any kind of pudding. I made it for tomorrow's breakfast but it may not last that long. Smile(

Tomorrow I have to go over to the local IRS office to verify my identity by filling out a special IRS form, all so they will accept/process my mother's federal tax return. What a pain.

We're expecting a possible frost tonight so I decided to cover up quite a few ground phlox already in bloom, along with tulips and other tender bulbs also in bloom. And I cut myself another bouquet of gorgeous, gigantic daffodils, just so I can enjoy them in the house, becus i couldn't cover all those up.

I started deadheading other spent daffodils.

Wow, 9 pm already..time to watch The Good Wife. Smile

Big $$ Scare

April 19th, 2016 at 07:06 pm

No sooner did I receive a letter in the mail from state of Connecticut acknowledging my payment of $7,000 from my mother's estate did I get another unwelcome surprise in the mail, this time from Medicare.

The document ("This is not a bill") indicated I owed $17,000 to Masonicare for my mother's care. This money would come out of my pocket indirectly, since it would be deducted from my mother's estate.

Needless to say, I was very alarmed but I also knew there were some much smaller doctors' payments owed, according to the Medicare statement, but when I called the doctor's office, they said it was covered.

These Medicare statements are also very confusing in that they often seem to cover overlapping periods of time.

Anyway, I was able to quickly confirm that I don't owe Masonicare anything more than I've already paid (which was a lot)! Really big phew.

Today I got my new TD Bank card. It was very nice that the rep, without being prompted by me, confirmed that after spending $1500 in 3 months I'd get $200. I was glad she did this becus usually I take a Print Screen of the offer in case there are any issues upon redemption, but this time I forgot and for the life of me I could only find $150 offers online. So anyway, it should work out okay. Time to spend.

The strangest thing has happened to me. Yesterday morning at work I realized I had a very itchy right side of my nose; it felt like I was going to sneeze. All day. And since then, I've had a stuffy nose. I had heard you can develop allergies any time during your life, and that was my first guess, because the tree pollen levels are high right now.

But it's also very upsetting becus, while my mother and sister have always had allergies, I never did, and to think I've gone my entire life blissfully allergy-free only to develop them now, in my 50s??

It's kind of depressing because it's not that enjoyable. However, today I'm wondering if I actually just have a cold. I say that only because from yesterday's itchy and occasionally sneezy nose, it's now more stuffy, probably on both sides.

Yet it seems odd to get a cold now, and besides, I always start off with days of just a sore throat, and then it develops from there. This time, it started off with a very itchy nose, just the one side, but now today I am feeling kind of tired/achy.

So which is it? I'm actually not sure. I'm not aware of any other symptoms.

For those of you who might be interested, I thought I would share the link to the little art blog I helped my mother set up while she was alive; she never really got the hang up making posts on her own, but since she's been gone I have been trying to keep up with it occasionally when I have news of an exhibit. Here's the link; I encourage you to "follow" us!

One bit of encouraging news...after actually being turned down TWICE by non-profits who weren't interested in donated art (who knew this could be so hard), I connected with one that is interested.

It's a very special kind of place, a healthcare center right here in town, run by a doctor and nurses who volunteer their time to provide free healthcare tho those who could not otherwise afford it on their own. I believe they are moving into larger quarters soon, still in town, so perhaps that is part of the reason they are interested in art!

They haven't actually seen mom's art yet; i just inquired via a phone message. I was reluctant to email jpgs this time around because my photography skills aren't that great and I don't feel my photos really did the art justice. I wasn't really given specific reasons why the 2 other groups weren't interested, and I did feel bad, wondering if they had a personal negative reaction to the particular pieces I'd earmarked.

The woman isn't around this week but hopefully next week we can schedule a time I can come in and show her a few things in person.

I think my mother would love the idea. I know she wanted me to donate some art, but a not-for-profit medical facility is something especially worthy, I think.

I made a bunch of phone calls this morning for someone to mow my lawn this summer and an electrician. There have been some communication problems with the guy who mowed for me last year, and he billed me for a mowing I'm not sure they did. In October, I left him a phone message, sent him an email and wrote on a bill I mailed payment for that I wanted him to stop mowing. The reason being that I like to run my own mower with its mulcher blade on it over the fallen leaves so I don't have to rake. His mowers didn't mulch.

However, his mowers still showed up and luckily I was home and told them they weren't supposed to mow anymore and sent them away. I also remember there being an issue where they kept scalping my lawn, and after pulling up tufts of grass, weeds would grow back in their place. I asked them not to mow so low and they kept doing so...i think there was a language issue as he's Latino.

Finally, i found him through Angie's list, where he offered a 5% discount. I assumed this would be applied all summer long; he didn't say otherwise. About halfway through the summer, he stopped deducting for the 5% and I paid the bills without noticing until toward the end. When I brought it up he said that was for new customers only.

Anyway, he's feeling disgruntled becus he thinks I owe him for one last mowing, and I'm unhappy for the reasons listed above. So I'm hoping to find someone else who will do it for about the same price as it comes out to about $1,000 for the season, which is a lot to spend on lawn mowing.

A purr-fect day

April 18th, 2016 at 11:17 am

I felt so indulged yesterday.

After breakfast (mom always feeds us boys before herself), I was brushed all over with the wire brush that I love. I can work up a purr just seeing it when it comes out of the drawer. It's like heaven, and I oblige mom by periodically turning over so she can get every bit of me. Mom got a lot of hair off me, as I'm shedding my winter coat. Ahh, it doesn't get any better than this.

After that brushing, it seemed only natural to do what I do best: nap. In fact, while mom and Luther were rummaging around in the attic and knocking around the kitchen, I continued to nap and had the bed all to myself til lunchtime. Yes, we boys have a lunchtime, a small tin of Fancy Feast. I mean, some day, we'll look back on times when people only fed their animals once or twice a day and realize how cruel that truly is. Luckily, Patient Saver bends over backwards to keep me content. Smile

That afternoon, I basked in the warmth of the sun room as I lay on the chaise lounge. Well, mom was laying on the chaise lounge; I was laying on her! This is my favorite room in the house, because we've got a great view of all the goings on in the backyard. Over the years, we've seen foxes, lots of turkeys, skunks, wood chucks and of course deer in our backyard. And the occasional intruder cat!

But today, our main visitors were the cardinals, blue jays, chickadees and what not looking for a handout. Luther eyed a tufted titmouse pleased to discover sunflower seed in the little bird feeder that's been empty all winter. Frown

So we whiled away the day pretty well. As is my wont, I energetically pulled up an edge of the frayed family room carpet with my scratching, and this time, mom did nothing to stop me. It's probably too far gone. Smile He he he.

Then, oh lordy, the best treat of all: I shared dinner with mom, a heavenly wild Alaskan sockeye salmon (the only salmon mom eats) that tasted of the sea. I figure I snagged about a third of it, and it was oh so good.

In the evening, we watched an episode from The Good Wife (we're into the 3rd season) and another from Curb Your Enthusiasm (2nd season). The 3 of us barely fit in the queen sized bed, but we make it work. Smile

Here's to the good life. Never in all my days at the shelter could I know that, one day, I would be dining on salmon, getting belly rubs on demand and cuddling under the covers with such a wonderful woman, Patient Saver. I am living in the moment.

Weekend doings & accomplishments

April 18th, 2016 at 12:30 am

I am pooped but got a lot done. Not as much as I wanted, naturally.

1. Morning yoga
2. Post office: finally found a certain type of Priority Mail boxes I wanted.
3. Lots of yardwork which I found tiring. I just don't have the stamina at 56 that I had in my 30s. Sadly, I also don't really enjoy it as much as I once did. Partly because there is just too much yardwork to do, and I can't ever really get on top of it because of the many invasive things like bittersweet, garlic mustard and nasty pricker bushes that truly threaten to overtake my property.
4. Opened up the porch for the year, moving furniture in.
5. Dragged all my potted plants out from the garage onto the front stairs, cutting away the dead leaves, etc, seeing what survived. Also brought out some lawn chairs from the basement.
6. Replanted 3 or 4 large trays of ground phlox I had to dig up when they put in the new driveway; i replanted it under my large viburnum, alongside the new driveway.
7. Dinner with dad.

1. I pulled up part of the fencing around my veggie garden and shrunk the garden by 50%. Because it was just getting too much to undertake, although I really love my homegrown vegetables. It had become like just another chore, and I found that in the heat of summer I really couldn't keep up with the weeding, and a good portion of the garden was really neglected.

The downsized garden is still a good size for one person, probably about 7 x 9 feet. I just have to find something else to grow that isn't tomatoes or beans, which seem to have built up overwintering pest populations, and any kind of root vegetable, becus i have a real problem with voles.

Maybe I could do onions.

2. I dug up a peony in the wrong place and moved it to a better place.

3. I picked up my mother's 2 art pieces from art association. In another week I'll need to bring 2 to 4 more for the tribute show in her honor. After that, though I may rethink entering my mother's stuff in a solo show this fall. A solo show would require 30 or so pieces, which I've found is a LOT of work. Everything needs to be cleaned and then wrapped carefully, becus the more you move things around, the more chance something could get scratched or nicked and once that happens, most people don't want to buy it.

To do all that work for a show that only lasts maybe a month tops, and that mostly draws people from the art group, maybe not the general public as much (just my hunch) means it's less likely to sell than maybe if I found more high end gift shops where i could leave things on consignment indefinitely. I won't get the gallery prices at a gift shop, prices need to be lowered, but i think i'd have a better chance of selling some of the many smaller pieces I'm not attached to.

This is something i just recently came around to thinking. And so last week I called a local florist which I noticed, when i was there to pick out flowers for my mother's funeral, they had a very nice gift shop. I could see some of my mother's work selling there. So i called them more recently and the woman said the owner does take stuff on consignment but that she was away for a week, so i will call back and hopefully be able to bring some stuff down there for her to take a look at.

There's also a very very nice garden nursery with a gift shop where i was thinking of making the same kind of phone call. One step at a time.

I have sold I believe 5 things now at the first and only gift shop i have mom's stuff at. With her 40% commission, I'm really not making much money on these sales, but again, these are pieces I am less attached to.

4. Went to Home Depot to see how heavy the Ego 56 volt cordless blowers are...too heavy...I may wind up with a less powerful 20 volt cordless blower for just driveway/patios which is just 3.7 lbs.

5. Spent $40 at Trader Joe's.

6. Talked to my neighbor and showed off the new driveway.

Hip, hip hooray I sold my couch!

April 12th, 2016 at 11:48 pm

This couch has some legs! Meaning, it's been around the block or two.

I've had it for 20 years, and when I bought it, I bought it used for $500 from someone in my town, who also delivered it.

But as you can see it has a lot of crazy colors, and now with all my mother's art here, it would be way too busy. I've grown tired of its design, though it is still a very well made and very comfortable couch.

But I just don't have room with mom's stuff and its bright colors would compete with mom's art. I'm thinking eventually, not right away, maybe not even til I move, I'd like to get a neutral/tan replacement couch so that mom's art will take center stage. Smile

I asked just $20 for it because I had tried last fall to sell it on facebook without success, and i knew if i didn't sell it this time, I'd have to PAY money to leave it at the transfer station as well as PAY someone to help me move it out of here. Complicating such a move would be the fact I don't want anyone parking a heavy truck on the new driveway.

So 3 cheerful Latino men showed up to look at the couch. I had been in touch with his wife on Facebook. He said he mowed lawns for a living, and I was glad to be helping a family of modest means. They carried it down the driveway no problem, and now I have room in my sun room again so I can move a chaise lounge in there and a chair.

The twin bed I bought for my mother when she was in assisted living is now occupying the space where the couch used to be. Kind of like a day bed. I envision for the first time in 20 summers that I'll enjoy sleeping on it when the nights are too warm and humid to sleep in my upstairs bedroom.

Now that the couch is gone, I had also wanted to then get rid of the 20-year-old green wall to wall carpeting in the family room, which has been puked on numerous times by the cats, had coffee spilled on it by a careless boyfriend and scratched at mercilessly by the cats. The wood floor under it was painted an ugly dark brown but even that might not look so terrible for now with some area rugs thrown on it. Anything but that carpet.

I'd like to do a lead test on the paint as I'm not sure when the family room addition was added on to the house; can't find it in the town hall records. If the paint tests negative for lead, I might consider (if I could otherwise dispose of all the art in there) getting the floor stripped and then staining the bare wood.

So many things I want to do around this place, but I really feel hamstrung by mom's "stuff." Hence my delight in getting rid of one big piece of furniture today.

Talked to Dad, who just returned from another trip down to Jersey. He's decided to lease his house rather than try to sell it. I'd rather not see him have to act as landlord becus at some point all his frequent trips down to Jersey, whether to get stuff at the house or for doctor's appointments, will have to stop. He just turned 83.

I told him I can easily use my vacation time at work to drive down there with him and do whatever it is he needs done. There's always something. He needed to change the lock on the garage, which is not going to be part of the rental; right now the same key that opens the back door also opens the garage, which is packed with stuff he's accumulated.

With his vision issues and walking issues and overall strength issues, he really could use my help. But the biggest challenge is convincing him of that.

I put the hummer sugar water out today. I've seen the males arrive in early April so I wanted to roll out the welcome mat.

New credit card offer

April 12th, 2016 at 12:27 am

I see that the Citi Thank You Premier offer of 40,000 points after a $3K spend is no longer available, so I decided to go with a more modest offer of $200 after a $1,500 spend with the TD Bank card.

However, I kick myself becus I usually take a screen shot of the offer so there's no question later about the reward. I saw the offer for $100 all over the place, but couldn't relocate the $200 offer.

So I just have to hope there are no snafus. The rep on phone assured me it would be fine.

I have someone coming over tomorrow early evening to look at the couch I want to get rid of. When I posted it for free last year, I got no serious inquiries. When I changed the price to $20, I got some interest by a Latino family in nearby small city. The wife kept asking me to give her my phone and address, which I wasn't about to do on public Facebook page, and I sent the phone number three times via a Private Message. Then someone named "Angel" called and we connected. I assume that's her husband.

I told them they can't park on the driveway due to the new asphalt; I don't know what kind of vehicle they're bringing, or even if they could possibly take it tomorrow when they come to look at it, but with a bit of an language issue, I don't want to take the chance, so I'll probably park my own (lighter) car at the bottom so they can't pull up.

The next challenge is getting them in to see the couch. I don't really want them traipsing through my living room and family room, and possibly bumping into my mother's art, so I plan to take them around behind the house (I will tell them it's on account of "our dogs") so we can enter my sun room, where the couch is. The sun room also has a wider door than front door, so it would be easiest for them to take the couch out that way.

The charity that had said they would take the couch a few weeks ago has since declined after I told them they wouldn't be able to drive their big heavy truck up the driveway, and could the men carry it down the driveway.

So that's why I'm back to trying to sell it myself and hope they can carry it down the driveway. Cus if not, the only other alternative would be trying to get my handyman to help me load it onto his truck (also too big to drive up the driveway) and we'd both have to carry the darn thing, which I'm really not up for.

My place is just bursting at the seams here and I have NO space, so I just don't want that couch here for another year, which is how long I'd have to wait til the driveway completely "cures."

Wierd bittersweet feelings

April 10th, 2016 at 11:47 pm

Today I went to a memorial service for my ex-boyfriend's mother, who died about a month before my mother. She also had dementia, but at 90, she outlived my mother by 9 years.

Because he invited me, I made a point to go. I was feeling kind of jittery about the whole thing because it's been 20 years since we were together and I knew I would know no one there. More importantly, I knew his wife would be there and most likely would not be pleased to see me.

The memorial was held in a beautifully renovated barn on the property of an Episcopal church in the beautiful wealthy countryside of North Salem, NY.

So, confession: this is the man I should have married.

Coincidentally, we both are writers, we both began our writing careers as journalists and we both have a parent (my mother, his father) who was a professional artist. His father was a pretty well known painter of horses and achieved quite a bit of success.

They were horse and dog people, they rode in local fox hunts, traveled widely, entertained a lot and lived a comfortable life that seems out of a story book somehow. And they stayed together.

Their son and I have remained friends. He introduced me to his wife and daughter, and while his wife shook my hand, she most definitely did not seem happy I was there. I told her i was sorry for her loss (it was her mother-in-law) and really didn't talk to her after that.

I enjoyed hearing R. speak at length about his mother, and then about 5 other people spoke, each one giving their unique perspective on the kind of person R.'s mother was.

They had some great o'douerves afterwards. I could never spell that word, but you know, SNACKS. I briefly sampled some of the food and then decided to quietly leave as I didn't want to make anyone super uncomfortable.

It was all kind of bittersweet and of course it made me think of my mother. More than that, it reinforced this feeling that a generation of people has passed, and that a new generation has taken their place.

Other news from this weekend, I sold quite a bit of yarn since Friday night and have a total of 5 packages to walk to the PO tomorrow on my lunch break. I love using the pick-up service where the USPS will come to your door for the packages, but I don't want the truck driving on my new asphalt, so for now I prefer to bring them to PO myself.

Here's some of the yarn i just sold.

I picked up another piece of framed art from area gallery and left another one for her to frame. I may not frame too many more. We chit-chatted for about an hour.

Today turned out to be a brilliantly sunny day and I REALLY have some yardwork to do, but didn't want to get all dirty prior to the memorial service.

Last night I made a cauliflower soup which also called for 4 or 5 cups of fresh spinach; instead, i used 3 small wads of frozen organic greens I wanted to use up, and i guess it was too much greens, cus after pureeing the soup it looks more like pea soup than cauliflower! It has no cheese or milk in it but instead I used a cup of cashews to thicken it up.

Today I stopped at Whole Foods on way home from memorial and picked up some goodies; i try to only buy things there that I won't find elsewhere, or else their house brand, which is cheaper.

Made a big salad for dinner and then walked around the block. In for the night.

Wednesday words

April 7th, 2016 at 12:26 am

I redeemed my final wellness incentive reward from Cigna for 2016 and I redeemed it for a $100 gift card for Whole Foods, a place I like to shop becus of all the unusual brands and selections, and of course the organic variety. But it's so darn expensive I don't go there routinely.

I hope to squeeze in the trip this weekend.

I was having trouble at work accessing some required compliance training so we wound up getting me updated to Windows 7 and IE version 11 at work. Wow, welcome to the 21st century. I'd been using XP for quite some time.

These days, I am into preserving memories. So I was excited this weekend to find a creative way to reuse an old set of silver-plated flatware I inherited from my grandmother. I used it for everyday use for quite a while (my grandmother only brought it out for the holidays), but some time ago I put it away because I couldn't tell if maybe the silverplate was coming off a bit, and I didn't want to take a chance of accidentally consuming it. So it's been sitting in its box getting dusty in the basement.

When I was much younger and living in Vermont, I bought a cute little windchimee very cleverly made out of vintage forks and spoons. At some point it broke and that was that.

But while browsing Etsy I came across a woman who makes very similar windchimes, and I decided this would be a great way to hold onto at least some of grandma's flatware without feeling like it was just sitting around taking up space and being useless.

I contacted the artisan who was very happy to use my silverware to make 2 sets of windchimes for me. I also wanted to use some of my own favorite beads and some old buttons that my grandmother, a dressmaker, had given me. After polishing up the silver, I shipped all of it out today to the artist, up in Rochester, NY area. Her prices were so incredibly affordable I wondered how she could really justify spending the time doing it, but I guess that's her decision.

So after paying for shipping her out the silverware, the cost of the 2 wind chimes and also for her shipping back to me, it'll come to about $43, which is still fairly reasonable for 2 sets, I think.

Saturday's shaping up to be another busy weekend day. I have a few events I wanted to do with conflicting times, so for the first time, I'm thinking I may skip the bereavement support group. I'm not sure if there's anything else for me to get out of it. I guess I've been 3 times now.

Because after yoga class there's a 2-hour presentation at the library on saving grassland habitat for birds which I'd like to attend.

I recently decided to donate $150 to a local society here in town that's charged with preserving our old town hall which was built with money from the town's benefactress, a single woman and grand-daughter of a prominent judge who was responsible for a number of the town's buildings, like the library. The old town hall, built the same year as my house (1930) contains our town-owned movie theater (one screen) and they're doing fundraising to replace the balcony seats. Thanks to my employer's matching gifts program, the group will get $300 toward the seats and in return I'll get 2 plaques for 2 chairs next to each other and I think some gift vouchers from area businesses.

I live about a mile from the movie theater/town hall and like to catch a movie there when I can. It's a beautiful old brick building with a great deal of character.

You can see it here behind the crowds at a Labor Day parade.

It's where I get my yoga lessons. There are some beautiful murals of local landmarks and historic homes painted by a local artist inside the stairwells.

In this painting, the red barns you see are at the end of my street. It makes it seem very rural, although we're more suburban, really. But we do have some nice old barns on the street; there is one fewer these days, ever since a bad snowstorm caved in the roof of another barn just across the street from the ones you see here.

Probate surprise: We owe the state $7,000

April 5th, 2016 at 02:29 pm

So we're in the middle of the long and very drawn-out probate process. There's a 5-month window of time where you basically just sit back and see if anyone makes a claim for money owed.

I thought I had everything pretty much covered, with just one thing up in the air, a recurring bill of about $76 a month for a rented wheelchair that Masonicare can't find. Annoying, but I believe I don't owe any money for that since it's Masonicare's fault they can't locate the chair. They have told me several times, "Don't worry about it, we'll take care of it."

But then last week I got a letter from state of CT informing the probate judge (and copying me) they, Dept of Administrative Services, may have a claim against the estate. I couldn't tell by looking at the letter whether it was a form letter and possibly nothing was owed or if it concerned something specific.

The only thing I could think of was the SNAP program which my mother qualified for due to her very low income, but I had called the state shortly after moving her into assisted living last May to cancel those benefits.

So imagine my surprise when I talked to the person who sent me the letter when they told me I (meaning, the estate) owe the state of CT $6,991.

Apparently there is a program that involves "Medicare Part B buy-in premiums." The program allows seniors who may be cash-strapped to get a bigger monthly Social Security check by letting the state of CT pick up her monthly premium for Medicare Part B, which would otherwise be deducted from her Social Security checks. When the person dies, if they have no savings left, that's that, but if there is an estate, then the state will look to recoup all that money they paid for Medicare Part B premiums.

The monthly premium was $58 a month when my mother elected to do this in 2003, but it rose over time and she kept doing it until 2010!

I never heard of this program, and I don't know how my mother knew of it either. I am sure that when the program was explained to her that what she heard was, you can get bigger Social Security checks this way but I am sure she didn't realize the money would have to be paid back later.

From the state of CT website:
Q. Do I have to pay back any of the benefits that I receive from MSP?

A. We will not recover money for this program for any benefits that you receive after
January 1, 2010. However, if you received any benefits under MSP before January 1, 2010, the State can recover money equal to the amount of benefits you received.

Well, we can certainly pay it and of course we will, but it was a little startling to learn of such a large bill.

Oh well. Live and learn. At least we'll get back about $1,100 from her tax returns.

Oh, and coincidentally, the guy I spoke to on the phone said "we don't go after SNAP program benefits." Meaning if they were spent after they were loaded onto the debit card after program eligibility had ended, they wouldn't insist on reimbursement.

Decluttering efforts

April 5th, 2016 at 12:33 pm

I'm woefully behind on decluttering, going by the "2016 in 2016" challenge, where you're supposed to find 2,016 things to declutter this year.

That's 168 items decluttered in a month, and given that I started this challenge about 2 months into the year, I haven't really caught up yet.

I downloaded a simple grid from; each time you declutter something, either by selling it, donating it or (least desirable) trashing it, you put an "X" through one of the boxes in the grid. It's extremely simple.

The only danger with using the "X's" is that you may accidentally mark a box for the same item more than once, or forget to do so entirely, and without labels/notes, you have no way of knowing, for instance, if you gave yourself credit for bringing that old winter coat to GoodWill.

Glad I stayed home

April 4th, 2016 at 10:54 pm

I was surprised to see it snowing this morning when I woke up. First I decided I would work from home, then i said no, guiltily, and decided I would drive in. Then i said no, it's getting worse.

I'm glad I stayed home. It wound up snowing, sleeting and raining on and off all day long and while there's probably less than an inch on the ground, it crunches when you walk on it.

I posted 2 items on Facebook tonight, one being a self-healing cutting mat which i no longer need since i now have my mother's, which is much larger. Someone is supposed to come tomorrow afternoon; price $10, about half what it sells for new. I also inherited a paper trimmer from my mother when I already had one, so decided to sell the better looking one and someone seemed interested but seems to have abandoned the conversation as we were trying to coordinate pick-up I hate when they do that. Don't know if she lost interest, found it too complicated to arrange or went to do something else. I priced mine at $20; couldn't believe Staples sells them new at $55 and up.

It has been hard to motivate myself to try to dispose of mom's items here, aside from the great success I had with yarn sales and weaving accessories, overall, but I did also manage to make a decision on a small opaque projector. After changing the lightbulb, I determined it didn't work, and I have no need for it so I feel less guilty throwing it away. Not even sure what it did, but I think she used it project an image from a photograph onto a wall so she could paint it maybe. My mother tended to hold onto everything, so I'm not surprised to find stuff that doesn't "work."

I called the number provided by the court to see if I have to report to jury duty tomorrow. I DON'T, hooray! I believe I'm good for another 3 years. The last time I was called was during my long period of unemployment, just after I had snagged a lucrative contract job that I was going to start in a few days, so I begged off and the judge said okay.

So I will work at home again tomorrow. Love it. Smile You may think I must be so relaxed and "at peace" when I work at home, but I'm really not. I'm always concerned about missing an email and so I don't stray far from the computer. Yet I still try to get personal things done if I'm not currently working on something else, but I'm always sort of rushing around.

I'm afraid my daffodils and other bulbs are kaput for this year. I know they won't die, but the blooms won't come back, I'm quite sure. They're all weighed down by the snow and even encased in ice. Oh well #1.

After Snafu commented on my earlier post that yes, $3 for a 10" clay pot made in Italy was a great price, I decided she was right and made the 20-minute ride to WalMart to see if I could snag some more. Sadly, all but one was gone, and that one was cracked, so couldn't take it. Oh well #2.

I tried calling the guy who mowed my lawn last year to see about this year, but never got a callback. Also tried to confirm receipt of my email from local library about donating some art, but never heard back.

I made a yummy salad yesterday for lunch today which consisted of a rice blend, sauteed onion and garlic, dried cranberries, carrot curls and steamed asparagus and peas. With just a dash of Trader Joe's Goddess Dressing. It was mighty tasty. I'll have to write that one down. I like the combo of sweet and savory stuff.

It's in the little things

April 3rd, 2016 at 04:57 pm

There are lots of things that make me think about my mother, but today after paying a bill and addressing an envelope, I used a stamp from a roll that had been in my mother's desk.

I find myself thinking, did she know when she bought this she would not live to use up that roll of stamps? That the stamps would outlast her? I looked at the roll in my hand, and saw that it said "Forever" on the stamps. There seem to be hidden messages in everything I see.

I made a triple batch of granola this morning. I eat it daily and go through it fast.

Later today, I will walk down my road, to an adjacent side street where my car was parked overnight. I will bring it up the driveway for the first time since paving and pavers. Smile

Today it's hard to believe it's April. We got about 2 inches of SNOW and most of my daffodils were in full bloom! I put the potted daffs in the garage and put large pots over another type of bulb not yet in bloom, along with a few special hyacinths. I don't know if it will just be too cold for them to survive, because I see temps will still be dipping as low as 16 on Tuesday and into the 20s on some other nights. Ridiculous!

Yesterday started off with an hour of yoga which made me break a sweat. I checked out a craft show after that, since it was also in our old town hall, but didn't buy anything.

Then I went to the annual cacti and succulent show at nearby community college. I go most years and it's not that crowded but this year, oh was packed and hard to get to a table to even see the plants. I splurged a bit and spent $32 to buy 4 interesting succulents. When I came home, I added to what the seller told me by researching each variety. They are from south Africa, Madagascar and Brazil and seem so "exotic" to me.

This one caught my eye first: Kalanchoe orgyalis “Copper Spoons”

You've probably seen this one before, Haworthia Limifolia “Zebra”

And here is the finger-like Rhipsalis cactus (Mistletoe cactus).

This shrub-like one is called Hatiora salicornoides “Drunkard’s Dream”

Later in the day I stopped at Walmart for some large terra cotta pots (new emphasis on container gardening this season) and lucked out by finding some chocolate-colored terra cotta pots from Italy on clearance for just $3 each. I got two, but am thinking I'd like to get more. I think they're about 10" diameter, which is fairly large.

While still at Wal-Mart I saw they were selling bags of elephant ear bulbs, 10 for $15. I was really tempted to get some as the one year I did, they were fun to grow with their huge tropical leaves, but these were a sold green variety and I remember seeing much more interesting leaf color variations elsewhere. Next weekend I'm going to a talk on orchids at local garden nursery, so maybe I can find something there.

But what I did wind up buying was this Alocasia ‘Polly’ with its fantastic foliage.

I would have a much more extensive collection of houseplants, succulents in particular, but Luther is fond of chomping/chewing them so for both is sake and the plant's, I have to devise ways to keep them out of his reach. I have a variety of raised plant stands, though not all of them are tall enough to be fool-proof. I treat every houseplant with the assumption it is poisonous.

I am experimenting with different brands of cat litter and am on a quest for an unscented, dust-free version due to Waldo's allergies/asthma. I found some Arm & Hammer 100% dust-free which I like, though it's a little pricey, but it is scented and I don't know if that will aggravate Waldo's breathing issues. For years I've purchased cheap 40 lb boxes of cat litter at BJs or Costco for about $8 a box, but it is crazy dusty and I don't much relish breathing in this super fine dust every time I clean the boxes, either. I also will try Fresh Step crystals and see how that works. I tried Feline Pine but the "nuggets" are so big I find it hard to clean the box as the scoop picks up and holds all the nuggets.

Last night I finished my editing job, which was worth about $95. Right now I'm doing 3 loads of laundry. I tidied up the bathroom and bedroom, which tend to collect clothes. Since childhood, I got in the habit of just laying clothes down after undressing and not either tossing them in the laundry or hanging them back up, depending on what it was. As a result, my bedroom starts looking like a wreck.

I am feeling kind of lazy about doing other things today but would like to cook something good for tonight and tomorrow's lunch.

I won the lottery big time!!!! OMG I can retire now

April 1st, 2016 at 11:37 pm

Oh my gosh, and I hardly ever win the lottery. I went to Stop & SHop and on a whim I asked to buy the Mega Million scratch-off. Would you believe I won??? I mean, what are the odds? I am going on Monday first thing to collect the prize, up in Hartford and have my photo taken. I am going to buy a Prius and get a new kitchen, too. I'm so excited, aren't you? I'm not sure what else I will do...OH, i do want to travel. Destination: Southern Utah national parks!

Hehehe. April Fool's Day!

Sorry to disappoint, just having a little fun with you. Smile

However, on the good news front, I did gt a check for $141 today from a shop near me, for the sale of 2 of my mother's small "cosmic" series of spiral-like oil paintings. The check represents 60% of the sale price; the gallery owner gets the other 40%.

I'm so happy they sold, although they were priced at about half the value my mother listed them at. There's a difference between my mother's prices, which were art gallery prices, and my prices, which were gift shop/gallery prices.

I've been looking everywhere for the list of the art I gave this gallery (she has a copy too) with the prices, and I can't find it anywhere. But as I recall, she still has at least 3 of these cosmic pieces left, so hopefully they'll sell soon. See, I KNEW this particular style would be popular at a store that sells things like geological rocks, incense and stuff for people who meditate, because these cosmic paintings are something you can stare at for a long time. Smile

It's possible the list of items she has is sitting in my car. I had to park it down a side street off my street, which is just a bit too busy for me to feel comfortable parking my car on overnight, especially with the sharp curve right near my house. I can't drive on my new driveway til Sun/Mon, so when I got home from work tonight, I drove to the little side street I mentioned, which gets a lot less traffic. I still feel a little "insecure" not having my car in my own driveway, but I decided I didn't want to bother my neighbors asking for a favor, so this is what I'm doing.

An old freelance client I haven't worked for in the past few years contacted me last week to do an editing job of another family court document she will be filing with the court. It's about 20 pp of writing, all very confidential. I'm happy to get an opportunity for some extra income although I think I may have thrown out my notes on other writing jobs I did for her and what I charged, so I'm going to have to recreate that so my price for this is in line with what I've charged her in the past. I hope to finish the job this weekend.

Tomorrow I'm going to a cacti & succulent show and no doubt will come with some. Smile There is quite a pile of other things i want to get done tomorrow, but all my gardening plans are out the window since the temps will really plummet on Sunday.