We took another road trip, me, R. and dad. R. did all the driving and kept up a running commentary of the areas we were driving through, offering a pretty good summary of historical highlights and so on. Well, he knows the area very well.
After meeting in the commuter parking lot, we headed down to Bridgeport, where I used to work, and stopped in at the new Bass Pro Shop. It's pretty impressive, with 3D dioramas and a large aquarium filled with what I'm guessing were bass.
Here's some pix:
That's dad at the right.
After that we took a long and leisurely route hugging the Connecticut shoreline through Stratford, Milford and West Haven. We saw some lovely beaches, oceanfront and homes.
Our final destination was a bierfest at one of the few remaining German-American clubs in the area. We enjoyed our bratwurst sandwiches with heaping sauerkraut and mayo-less potato salad. Yum, even tho i'm vegan.
They had a band playing polkas and some people were using the dance floor. There were probably 150 people there, a great turnout of mostly older people in the era of video games and Pokemon.
Tomorrow it's back to reality and I need to give myself a big shove to get going with the job search. There are various things I need to do. And hopefully will get a callback from the unemployment office so I can file my initial claim.
I also need to update my profile at left but I'm been a little bummed about having to do that as my fast track retirement savings will come to another grinding halt. Now the goals will be not to dig into savings, something I'm confident I can do for at least the first 2 months no problem since I've got the severance. Actually with careful attention I should be able to get by on unemployment for 6 months.
I took a walk tonight and am aiming to walk 6 days a week, at least a half hour.
Archive for July, 2016
We took another road trip, me, R. and dad. R. did all the driving and kept up a running commentary of the areas we were driving through, offering a pretty good summary of historical highlights and so on. Well, he knows the area very well.
I only really got one big thing accomplished today, and that was going out looking at ACs with dad and his ending up ordering a window air conditioner to supplement the one he's got.
It'll arrive at Best Buy Monday or Tuesday and I'll help him get it and then bring it to his place. He's going to need help getting it up the stairs.
We looked at a few at Lowes as well but they were mostly sold out of portable ACs and in the end dad seemed more comfortable with a window unit. So be it; I just wanted to make sure he's cooler than he is now.
I got some printer ink cartridges at Staples on the way back, and a jug of almond milk.
I did my end of month expense and investment report and am pleased my portfolio is up $22,000 this month, bringing my investment value up to $798,000. I'm almost into the eights!
I also blew the leaves off the patio, watered my container plants and picked another cucumber, bringing my total to 14 cucumbers from just 2 container plants. I also picked a small bowl of wineberries, which are winding down, and blackberries.
I made myself a fruit smoothie. I changed the sheets on my bed. I made another pitcher of ice tea and would like to make another batch of granola tonight, as I'm out. I also have a job to apply for online.
It's super muggy out. Very sticky. Ugh.
Today was my last day. All I did was attend an outplacement webinar I registered for (the company will pay for 3 months) and then I turned in my laptop, keys, badges and password fob. I left the office at 11:30 a.m. and hugged my old boss goodbye and told other laid off person I'd be in touch with her in late August, when we agreed to get together.
I was planning to say goodbye to the parking garage gate attendant (I am friendly with all) but she wasn't there. Instead a young woman who hardly spoke English was sitting in the booth. I told her I didn't have my badge, to wave in front of the scanner to raise the gate, becus it was my last day and I had to surrender my badge. She didn't understand, and i envisioned myself being stuck behind that gate forever. I repeated the same thing 3 times and then I think she still didn't understand, but just gave up and raised the gate for me. Why would they hire someone for a job who can't speak English?>>
I decided to go to Trader Joe's but even though I was on my way back by 2:15 pm, the traffic was already pretty bad headed eastbound. I had to take back roads home.
Note to self: NEVER venture out on Friday afternoon again. Not worth it.
So my spirits were lifted tonight because while I saw very little in the way of jobs I could apply for today (there is one, a temporary job), a Chicago area recruiter contacted me via Linked In about a Director of Marketing Communications position that sounded like a very good fit. Writing a wide variety of stuff, working closely with senior management, managing the PR agency relationship. I don't know the industry. I have never worked at the director level before but as we know titles vary from one company to another quite a bit.
There's just one big problem: location. This job is in Stamford, where I vowed never to even look for jobs, due to horrendous traffic and distance. As I remember from when I had a 3-month contract job down there in 2013, the commute was over an hour. I hated it. There ARE no good routes. Every road is clogged by 5 pm.
So I will learn about the position, anyway, but at some point early on I'll need to tell the recruiter I can't commute down there, at least not on a daily basis. I'd hate commuting down there period, but I suppose I could be open to a few days a week. Like maybe two.
I would LOVE to be able to tell the people at the bank, you numbskulls! You should never have let me go.
It felt weird to have the afternoon free during a time I should be at work.
I got my final paycheck today and was happy to see they included the one week of PTO (paid time off) I hadn't used.
I dropped my signed severance agreement in the mail at office so at some point in the ensuing weeks I'll get another check for $12,000, which will be a big help with day to day expenses in the months to come.
I had a phone conversation with a local insurance agent in town becus I wanted confirmation that my decision to stick with COBRA, rather than an ACA plan, was the right way to go. He agreed that since I've already earned too much money to qualify for any subsidy and based on the higher pricing of the ACA plans in general, that it made sense to stick with COBRA, at least for 2016. In November when open enrollment comes around, I could revisit that decision and, assuming my salary could be under $45K for all of 2017 if I find no new job, I could switch to an ACA plan with subsidies that would reduce my monthly premium payments to the $300-something range, saving me over $200 a month.
I TRIED to sign up for unemployment benefits but the online system wasn't recognizing my old password from 2013 and when i requested it send me a new password, it never did. When i tried to enroll via phone, it took forever to get thru the automated system, only to be told that due to high call volume, wait times could exceed 2 hours. I would have held, but it didn't give me that choice, saying "try back later" and then disconnecting me. I did try back later and this time got the option of getting a callback on Monday, which I set up.
We had some more rain tonight, which was good.
I have a ton of different things to do yet am feeling so scattered and disorganized. I have my daily planner but still, I need to get a handle on things.
Ugh....feeling a little sad as I continue to prepare for my last day at work tomorrow. Had my last phone meeting with new boss, who said I don't have to stay the whole day tomorrow.
She offered to serve as a reference, but I don't think I'll use her. I have my old boss and 2 coworkers who have agreed and who will sing my praises.
I have a 10 am orientation (by phone) for the work outplacement service tomorrow which is free for 3 months and I figure I'll leave around mid-day. I just have to return, to old boss, my laptop, briefcase, password key fob, desk keys and badges.
The other woman laid off in my dept has agreed we should get together for lunch or coffee in late August.
I've said goodbye to all the people who matter, about 15 people.
I completed the "final accounting" form for probate. I had to pay a $900 fee to probate, not $600 as I thought. Before mailing it to the court, though, I mailed a copy to my sister with an additional form which, if she signs, will waive the need for a hearing to review the final accounting and will just speed things up by at least a few weeks.
Then I have to wait to get "approval" from the court to disburse the estate, splitting it with my sister.
So my long held hope that i can finish this whole thing by September may be pretty well on the mark.
We'll each receive $44,000. Combined with the mutual funds I disbursed earlier this year, which bypassed probate, we'll each have received $92,376 from mom's estate. It's an unexpected gift since, as mentioned before, I thought I would spend down all mom's money for assisted living, and then the nursing home, but she died before that happened.
I still think about her...a lot...each and every day. She is never far from my mind and I often find myself predicting how she would react to Donald Trump or my layoff or any number of things.
I don't plan to do anything with the money besides invest it, especially now that I don't have a job.
So despite the loss of the employment income I expected for the 2nd half of this year, I will still easily hit my retirement savings target as detailed at left.
I connected with the Atlanta headhunting firm that got me my bank job 3 years ago, but they have nothing for me now. They do have my resume.
Dad came by to drop off the plastic window insert on which he shaved a few inches off so it would fit in my window when i use my portable AC.
I also dropped off a window screen at hardware store for repair, which will take 1 week to get back, and I mailed the final accounting to my sister, for her to sign the hearing waiver.
The other day I made myself a berry smoothie.
I have so much to do after my job ends tomorrow, and the next chapter of my life begins at 5 pm Friday.
...my layoff, that is.
Today, five of us went out for a little farewell lunch at Captain's Cove. We all ordered seafood and sat one of the many wood picnic tables on the boardwalk area there. It was beautiful, all the boats were in the marina, and I didn't feel I was "at work" at all.
I've spent the last week-and-a-half saying my goodbyes to people I care about or, enjoy chatting with. Probably 15 or so people. It's starting to feel emotional and a little sad when so many people are saying so many nice things to me.
The other woman in my group who's also leaving said she's only planning on spending a half day here on Friday, our last day. Meaning, what's the point?
I'm going to ask my new boss is I can do the same.
I got the bill from probate court. Mind you, I'm not paying taxes on the estate or anything, this is just "a fee" for keeping me from accessing my inheritance for 7 months now and counting. I had calculated based on their rate schedule the bill would be about $600. Wrong. It's about $900. I will have to call them tomorrow to see why. Did I tell you I hate the probate court?
I have one window in my house that I can't open in this hot weather because the screen for it at some point years ago fell out a 2nd floor window and dented up the frame, so bugs could come in if I used it. I'm finally getting around to bringing it to a local hardware shop. The guy said they'll probably have to replace the screen if they have to fix the frame, so all told, not really cheap, about $40 but it would be great to get a cross breeze in my office. It makes a big difference in keeping it cool in here. I'll drop it off tomorrow at lunchtime.
The 2016 wineberry season is just about spent. I can usually pick for about 2 weeks in July. This year's berry bounty seemed a bit low, no doubt due to a very dry June. I've enjoyed them daily on my morning breakfast cereal and right now I'm enjoying a yummy peach/wineberry crisp, a modified version (much less sugar and no butter) of my grandmother's recipe.
The sign language classes will have to be deferred. So will the redo of my badly deteriorating brick patio in the backyard, with pavers to match the driveway and front entry, which I'd been toying with for next spring. Oh well. Three steps forward, one step backward. Layoffs have been the norm of my career, not the exception.
I don't feel highly motivated about the job search and I'm kind of resigned to the belief I'll have to bide my time, that beating the bushes will not uncover the perfect job and that I have no real control over when something good for me comes along. I just have to make sure I don't miss it completely due to not paying attention.
The 1939 movie Wuthering Heights is playing at our town hall theater. Should I go see it, anyone?
I am on the lookout for another juicy rewards credit card with upfront bonus. It's just such easy, no-brainer money, I can't not do something like this for a quick $200 or so, especially now.
I think I've finally found a sunscreen (SPF 45) that doesn't make my face break out. It's Neutrogena Dry Touch something or other.
Am going to TRY getting on a regular schedule of walking 6 days a week. Probably aim to do it first thing in the morning, while it's still cool, and before my day really begins. I'm sure it won't last, but we can dream.
Fridays are always pretty quiet at the office, but I think I'll bring bagels in for those in my group on this, my last day.
My old boss said that in order for me to become an "approved vendor" who can do freelance work for whoever at the bank, that I would need to become an LLC corporation. I need to verify that with new boss tomorrow and I am not really crazy about doing it becus i think once i registered with the state they would inform my town and then the town would start sending me annual tax bills for my tiny business. Which I would hate doing. They did that to me before and I promptly told them the business was over.
I'm a true blue liberal but I'm beginning to hate taxes and probate court.
I think on Monday I'll go grocery shopping at trader joe's. It's stupid, but i keep thinking about how great it will be to go grocery shopping on an uncrowded weekday. Around here, TJ's is absolutely mobbed on the weekends and it stresses me out. I may take dad with me becus i know he's never been to one and he may like it. It being a smaller store, he could get around it more easily. Dad's walking with a cane now. Actually, I'm just now remembering that day is the day of his doc appt with new primary care doc. I'll have to find out what time it is.
Today was another work-at-home day. Rather than seeing my work dwindling down, I keep getting new assignments from people who express how utterly appreciative they are, knowing that since Friday is my last day I could easily blow them off. If they're that appreciative, I feel like saying, why don't you go tell head honcho so-and-so she's making a big mistake!
Although I've known about my imminent layoff for a full week now, I've been a little slow out of the gate in terms of a job search. Quite frankly, the whole thought of the dog and pony show where I pretend to be enthusiastic about "working under pressure in a fast-paced environment" is getting old.
I've managed to update my resume and apply for all of 2 jobs; now my recruiter friend insists I have to build my own website to showcase my portfolio. It's what all the "creatives" are doing these days. He gave me 3 site options, all of which are free, which is good, but they all seem geared toward artists and graphic designers, not writers. Because when it comes to downloading your work samples, they have to be jpgs, and my copy probably won't even be fully readable as a jpg. So I don't know. I'll have to play with it next week.
Dad came over toward the tail end of the day to check out my portable AC, to see if he wants to get one for his place. He has one window AC unit which isn't quite doing the job. He needs a 2nd one.
He actually helped me with my AC because I could never get the hose to fit securely where it connects to the back of the ac and the other end that goes out the window. He fixed that pretty well and also took one of the horizontal pieces of plastic to cut it a few inches so I can actually use it to completely block the open window when the hose is attached.
It was always something that never worked very well even to the ac unit itself seems very heavy duty, at 12,000 BTUs. So maybe now I'll use it more. I prefer it on casters where I can roll it around rather than ding up my window sills everytime I have to haul the heavy window unit down from the attic.
My dad has sacrificed SO MUCH to live at my sister's. His central air, for one, a very spacious and renovated ranch with NO STAIRS for another. He's afraid to ask her if he could put in a small wood stove and so last winter with his diabetic neuropathy his legs and feet were always freezing. Now he just wants to water his plants but my sister won't let him use the hose there becus her well is in danger of running dry, so dad went to the river and filled up a heavy rain barrel with water. Geez. My dad should not be doing this kind of stuff at 83 years old, yet he never complains about anything except the pain in his legs. He is seeing his new PCP next week. I often feel like THROTTLING my sister for being so completely selfish while she collects dad's monthly rent.
My friend Ron and I are taking Dad out for a 2nd mini road trip on Sunday along the coastline, and then to a German-American festival. We're German, so Ron thought he would like the wienerschnitzel and bratwurst and all. I'm a little worried becus it seems the extreme heat will still be with us and I don't want dad to overheat.
I want dad to get the 2nd AC as quickly as possible, so I think I will go out with dad Saturday to look at the portable ACs at Best Buy and/or Lowes. I have to drop off a few pieces of art at a local frame shop for another exhibit, but that shouldn't take more than 30 minutes. I guess I will skip my yoga class again (for like the 4th time in a row) to make sure I have enough time for dad.
There is a special academic program for older adults here that's part of University of CT satellite campus in Waterbury, about a half hour away. There are a bunch of courses offered, taught by older people for older people, and while there's a fee, it's very affordable, like $50 for a 10 week course. This was something I wanted to check out but never could since I was working and most of the classes are held during the day. I think they assume you're retired. I was toying with the idea of asking dad if he'd want to go to their upcoming open house. There's a course on European History during WWI and WWII that interests me, along with a few others. My dad has always had an interest in politics and current events, too.
I'd be tempted to sign up for something though if I got a job I'd have to give it up.
Wow, 9:15 pm already. Time to take a shower and catch an episode of The Good Wife. She's thinking of running for state's attorney. You go girl.
...and some much needed rain.
We had an earlier round of storms while I was still at the office and I was afraid I'd come home to some soaked window sills, etc. as I had left a lot of windows open for the cats' relief.
Only a few windows got wet and I cleaned it up pretty quickly. It is still so muggy here though the temps have dropped somewhat.
Work was noneventful. Worked on version 2 of the medical practice transitions white paper. I only have 2 more days in the office (and 2 at home) and then I'm done.
I hope to have another noneventful day working at home tomorrow. Though I do want to run down to probate court to deliver the next form. This one is pretty simple/straightforward so hopefully it won't be returned.
I need to get back into family tree research. I sort of reached a point where I didn't know what else to do or was wandering aimlessly on the site. But since I'm going to let the subscription lapse in a few months due to my pending unemployment, I want to try to get as much out of it as possible, and find a way to copy all the info I did collect, which could prove to be very, very cumbersome.
I had some time at dinner Saturday night to ask Dad more questions about his time serving in the US Navy during the Korean War. He never left the US becus his boat was stationed in Bayonne NJ and in fact he went home every weekend!
One time, there was a pilot who committed suicide by aiming his plane down toward the Hudson River. My dad's crew went diving at the site to recover body parts, etc.
Dad enlisted for 4 years but only got to serve 2, much to his disappointment, after my grandmother went to an American Red Cross office and made an appeal to have her only son discharged because my grandfather had a heart attack and couldn't work. My grandmother needed my dad at home to keep the family business going (a gas station) becus grandpa, a mechanic, couldn't do anything. My dad really enjoyed the Navy but he was discharged.
In those days, the treatment for a heart attack was a year of bedrest, believe it or not. Imagine how much weaker you would feel after that!
I believe dad said that was grandpa's 2nd heart attack. And it was the 3rd one that killed him. So sad. He was a lot of fun.
When I was growing up, he used to take a forkful of food and slowly bring it around in a circle toward me and I would open my mouth up for the food, whereupon he would complete the circular motion with his hand and put it in his own mouth. I would always fall for it, and he would always laugh.
When i got home the inside temp was 82, which i believe is about the hottest it ever gets in here. I ran my portable AC for about an hour in the family room, which was even warmer than the main house (I closed it and the sun room off becus they have more windows and heat up more) and it managed to cool things down from 88 to 82.
I will have to take a cold shower tonight for sure. My upstairs is uninhabitable. I will sleep on the twin bed tonight in the downstairs family room.
My team is taking me and the other person who is being laid off out to lunch next Wednesday. I've never worked anywhere where those who are laid off get treated to lunch. Usually, you're out the same day they tell you about the layoff.
I have one more week to go and just 3 more days in office.I've emailed as many writing samples to my personal email address as I could. They could be helpful during a job interview. I also asked a friend in our Boston area office to inter office mail me some finished samples of brochures I've written, and I got them today.
I've emailed a few people who like my work invitations to hire me on a contract basis should they need a copywriter after next week. You never know if this could pan out.
I've emptied out my desk and deleted favorited websites and personal emails no one needs to see.
Not too much going on this weekend. Seeing dad for dinner tomorrow night. It's gotten to be a regular thing. I like to meet him at his place rather than have him come here becus by the time we're done with dinner, it's getting pretty dark and it makes me nervous knowing he has to drive home in the dark with his macular degeneration. My sister's town has a lot of very dark roads.
After a lot of back and forth due to scheduling conflicts, about 8 of us in my group at work are taking me and the other person laid off in my group to a farewell lunch at Captain's Cove, on the water in the city where I work. It will be boiling that day and 90 but what the heck....
My goal today was to make more progress on the job search, either by reaching out to recruiters or applying for a job.
That didn't really happen as I was sidetracked by probate issues. I got a call from the court telling me that after having the latest form rejected by them twice (over the course of several weeks, with me hand delivering each time just becus i don't trust the mail) she told me I'd forgotten to sign the return.
I ran down there to sign the return and she told me they would then "accept" it for filing and that I'm now free to file the next form, Form 237, which reports on outstanding bills paid to creditors for expenses incurred during the decedent's lifetime. Luckily there are just 4 items on the list since when your loved one is at a nursing home, it's mostly all-inclusive. Bills incurred AFTER death, like the funeral/burial, tax returns, etc., are to be reported on the final accounting form, which comes after Form 237..
Because the court is exceedingly picky about everything being perfect, I spent at least an hour this afternoon just adding up expenses reported on both Form 237 and the final accounting, just to make sure it balanced out to what I have in the checkbook balance. It does.
I also had to call them to ask whether one particular bill, reimbursement of $7,000 to the state of CT related to a Medicare Savings Plan my mother was in for years (which lowered her Medicare monthly premiums and thus increased her Social Security checks) should be listed on Form 237. They didn't know and said I should consult a lawyer. I'm not going to incur more stupid bills, but in rereading their booklet's definition of what goes in Form 237, I decided that was the right place.
The court wants complete addresses for each creditor that was paid. There was a $90 bill for my mother's last teeth cleaning last December, done at the nursing home but billed separately to me. I remember seeing the bill and paying it but could not remember the name of the dentist. I rummaged around in the attic and could not find it; finally, i remembered I a handwritten note I'd jotted down following a talk I had with the hygienist, in 1 of 2 notebooks I kept during this awful time just to stay on top of everything.
Just having to go thru the notebook to find it made me all teary and emotional. It brought back the memories in full force of a 4-month period of time from September thru December 2015 I consider nightmarish, filled with fear, anxiety, worry and an all-round out-of-control feeling as I dealt with numerous parties at the nursing home to deal with her care.I had only a few friends to lean on for support, my dad, and my cousin Margherite.
Anyway, I found the address online after getting the dentist's name and the name of the practice, which was very generic sounding.
So I have everything I need to fill out the form but at this point I'm going to wait until my next work at home day, Tuesday, to fill it out and again hand-deliver it to the probate court. That will make probably my 6th trip there. I could mail it, but I prefer knowing it arrived intact.
The probate clerk also gave me a heads up I would receive the court's bill in the mail. I estimate it will be around $650.
This has been hanging over my head for so long and I really just want it to be over so I can truly move on.
I am going to treat myself to a good walk right after work to de-stress and calm down.
I feel like I have piles of stuff to do and so I've only applied for one job thus far and reached out to 2 former My Bank employees who moved on to other area banks to see about possible job openings. I've also played phone tag with a job recruiter friend of mine who's asked me to send updated writing samples.
So today I hope to apply to a few more jobs, touch base with 2 recruiters I know and scan website of Creative Group headhunters.
So I definitely have tons to do on the job front. In the back of my mind I am still casting about for another local non-profit I could donate more art to and I would really like to sell locally somewhere a bunch of my mother's cameras and associated equipment. I also have a diamond engagement ring which is of no use to me.
I decided to enter 3 small pieces of art in the next show (theme: landscapes) at local frame shop; I can drop them off when I pick up the one piece entered in the previous show, which evidently didn't sell. Note to self: Take pictures of the 3 pieces before you drop them off so you can blog about them on mom's blog. There's a $20 entry fee.
I still fight moments of dwelling in an unhealthy way on my mother. The last 6 months are what I always think about and dwarf the other 80 years, but to be honest, she wasn't nearly as big a part of my life when she was doing her own thing and unaffected by Alzheimers. I often struggle not to be swallowed up by depressing circular thoughts that never seem to lead anywhere. This is why I have long believed it's best to stay busy doing other things.
I sent off my DNA sample (in saliva) to Ancestry DNA and should have results back in a month or so. Dad wants to do it too but agreed we'd wait to see whether we think it's worth the $79 price based on the results I get. Ancestry encourages more than one family member to do it because genes can skip a generation and his results could look pretty different than mind.
I'm still reading Steve Jobs' biography, which is pretty good even though computers are a snooze to me. As a teen he was into drugs, Zen/enlightenment and dropped out of college but he seemed to have a gifted mind from the start. I hadn't known he was adopted. His interest in the arts equaled his interest in technology. So it's a pretty good read.
Something...I'm guessing either a chipmunk or a vole...mowed down most of my stringbeans that I was growing near my front entry. I should have fenced it but hadn't gotten around to it. These were seedlings that had been chomped much earlier but actually recovered and were just starting to form small stringbeans that would have been ready to pick in 4 or 5 days. I'm feeling disgusted. Something did the same in the fenced veggie garden and since I could see the vole hole right near the beans there, I'm assuming it was voles. That's why I was trying to grow them near my front door so I could keep an eye on them.
So gardenwise, I've had a bounty of cucumbers from just 2 potted plants. I have a fair amount of green tomatoes and now I'm picking wineberries from my yard that I eat daily over my breakfast cereal. I had one smallish eggplant from my one eggplant plant. The other plant collapsed; I suspect voles ate through the roots. The remaining plant is looking very healthy but no further eggplants.
My onions are hanging in there, though some appear to have been dug up by voles. That's all I've grown this year except for basil and mint. It's a little frustrtating. With the voles, I may give up the fenced garden entirely. I did recently sow more beans in pots in my driveway and I see some of them starting to emerge from the ground. I will HAVE to rig up some sort of protective fence around them using plastic fencing. Otherwise, they're doomed.