Home > Archive: June, 2024

Archive for June, 2024

Heat wave

June 19th, 2024 at 08:52 pm

Looks like most of the eastern half of the country is in the same boat. It was 99 when I got in my car mid-afternoon to go to the gym, wondering if I was crazy for wanting to stick to my schedule. Happy to report, they had the AC on (low), so I was able to complete my usual routine: about a half-hour on the machines and a half-hour on the treadmill.

My garage door opener started acting up recently and I had someone out here to fix it. He recommended a few more fixes to lengthen its lifespan, and he was supposed to return today, but was running very late due to the extreme heat, so we rescheduled for tomorrow morning.

Aside from my gym outing, I've been hunkering down indoors with the AC on at 76, which is really the warmest setting I can tolerate upstairs; downstairs, it feels comfortable. The shades are drawn on all the windows except the north side, and when I do leave the house, I've been exiting thru the basement and out through the garage to avoid letting a whole lot of hot air in through the front door.

I had also done some grocery shopping a day before the heat wave got going on Tuesday, so I am mostly all set with food. Soon, I'll have to go outside again to water my vegetable garden and potted plants. I hope they are not fried. I water them daily but the raised beds dry out very quickly. I'll also put out a second water bath for the birds and refill the feeder, which is hanging from a mulberry tree that's attracting lots of avian interest now that its berries are ripening.

So far, my veggie garden is pretty modest compared to previous years. I had been having a great "Yugoslavian Red Lettuce" harvest leading up to the heat wave, and then I began picking more assuming the heat would cause them to bolt. I have 2 cucumber plants and 2 yellow squash, but I planted them from seed in the wrong medium and so half of them are pretty anemic looking; the fertilizer I added later has helped. I also have 3 cherry tomato plants which are doing pretty well, and string beans only recently germinated. I was trying to avoid the overcrowding I usually have in the raised beds to the extent that I had trouble walking around in there. I hope I have some decent harvests nonetheless.

I took my father to his first physical therapy session. He's been there before (was it last year?) but more recently wrenched his lower back and was experiencing a lot of pain. Much of his problem stems from his very sedentary lifestyle, but he's getting on in years so I don't know how much you can reasonably expect someone like him to do. But he at least needs to do the exercises he does in therapy at home, when he's not there, and that's been an uphill battle. On top of that he only wants to go once a week, so I really don't know what progress we can make. Medicare approved it in an open-ended way, with no fixed number of visits, as long as both he and the trainer feel he's making progress.

Right now he's got a $15 co-pay for each session. He told me he wants to go to physical therapy once a week for the rest of his life, and is willing to pay out of pocket for it. So once he exhausts whatever number of sessions Mediare is willing to pay for, hopefully the PT place will allow him to continue on a pay as you go basis.



Everything's getting more expensive

June 17th, 2024 at 12:25 pm

What the hey. This site is just not monitored, and as a result is flooded with spammers, like the automotive manufacturing post.

I hope everyone had a good Father's Day, and hugs to those who cannot celebrate with their fathers. As I've gotten older, I realized how time with loved ones is fleeting. Most years now, there's a little dread associated with Mother's Day, and someday not in the distant future, Father's Day will feel the same way. Not to sound morbid, but it's one downside to getting older that no one ever warned me about.

I hadn't planned anything in advance with my father as I wasn't sure if he was spending time with his son or other daughter. This is how it goes in a family affected by divorce, remarriage and new families; it's hard to merge all together when you didn't really grow up together (and live in different states). At the same time, I didn't want Dad to be alone, so I did talk to him the day before to discover he had no plans. (His son had come up to see him a few days earlier.) So we went to a restaurant I didn't think would be busy because it's pretty much diner food, and I was right. The food was just okay, but we sat outside in perfect weather and enjoyed some good conversation.

On the way home, as I often do, I pulled over by a large pond (sometimes it's just some quiet wooded area or open space) and we continued talking in the parked car with the windows down. I often read things to him from my phone as Dad can't see well. He loves history, so I found a chronology of interesting articles about each of our American presidents, starting with George Washington. Yesterday we finished with Lincoln, so we are making our way through the list. We've been talking a lot about slavery, John Brown, Harriet Tubman.

I find that these seminal events and historical figures are much more meaningful to me when put in the context of my own family history. I've done a lot of genealogy work. My own great-grandparents were born around the same time as the American Civil War, all coming from poverty-stricken regions like the former East Germany, Northern Ireland and Galicia in Austria-Hungary, all coming to America in search of better economic opportunities. Just understanding that in the same timeframe, black people in America were still abused and treated as chattel, even after the war ended, what would otherwise seem like ancient history hard to fathom really comes alive.

It can be hard coming up with activities and experiences I can share with my father, given his physical disabilities. Eating out at a nice restaurant and going for drives are really the main ways we spend time together.

I had plans to join friends at a local vineyard for a casual, outdoor meetup with wine and good conversation this past weekend, but the woman organizing it cancelled it due to some predicted storminess. (It's been rescheduled in 2 weeks' time.) Instead, the 4 of us got together for dinner the following night, when the weather was again picture perfect. We met at a Nepalese restaurant I'd been to with my father twice. The food was great, the service excellent and prices reasonable. We will all meet up again at the vineyard with possibly more women from the online women's group we all came from.

Next weekend I'll be taking another friend out for a belated birthday breakfast.

I continue to be active with my 3 volunteer groups. Our next litter cleanup with the one group is in a shoreline town an hour-and-a-half drive from me, so I've decided to make a day of it and squeeze in one or two other activities/things to do on the drive home since the litter cleanups only take 2 hours.

Bills, bills, bills. I should be getting my hefty property tax bill any day now. It's the 1st of 2 annual payments, each about $3,500. Then my car and homeowners insurance will be coming up for renewal in another month. I've held off renewing my umbrella policy because I suspect I'll want to have my agent shop around for better prices on the car/auto, and they're all linked together. My car needs a bit of maintenance, a few hundred dollars worth, which the guy said could wait til my next oil change at summer's end. So I've deferred that. The guy who mows my lawn raised his prices again, effective July 1. Which irks me, since he raised his prices last year. I doubt I could find anyone cheaper so I'm just gonna have to bite the bullet.

Somehow I have gotten through the first half of the year solely on my annuity and dividends from 3 of my Vanguard funds. I didn't think this would be enough, but none of my one off big bills like the ones mentioned above occurred durning the 1st half of the year. I will likely have to take a distribution to pay the property taxes.

Next year, I plan to buy a new vehicle to replace my 11-year-old Honda. I will need to withdraw about $30K either from traditional IRA accounts, which will be taxed as income, or from a taxable brokerage account, which is not (right?) So I guess funding the car purchase with taxable monies is the way to go. Keeping track of how differenet types of savings/withdrawals are taxed can be confusing.