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Archive for December, 2008

Getting ready for Florida

December 21st, 2008 at 06:17 pm

I'm getting ready to drive to Florida tomorrow. It's about a 12 hour trip. Luckily, I'll have my sister to spell me, because I don't plan to stop for the night.

Yesterday I got some CDs on tape from the library. While there, I overheard a man giving travel advice to a woman who happens to be going just a few miles beyond my destination. He advised an alternate route to avoid Atlanta. You bet I'm going to try it out! Atlanta is a traffic sinkhole no matter what time you arrive!

I stocked up on cat food and kitty litter so my kitty caretakers will have plenty on hand. I also bought a thermos -- a good one. I figured with all the road trips I do, a good thermos is something I can really use over and over again.

I also did my last bit of Christmas shopping -- Mickey D and Bojangles gift cards for my BIL, who will be alone for Christmas, since I'm dragging my sister with me! He has to work -- and he is not a great holiday person, anyway -- but fast foods treats should give him a boost.

Today I'm doing laundry and packing. The worst part of packing is that I have to pack summer clothes for Florida, but winter dress clothes in case I have to fly to Indiana for a funeral, which is very likely.

Too much spending is happening. I hope I can ratchet back after the holidays.

Day 7 Accomplishment Log

December 19th, 2008 at 04:06 pm

On the seventh day -- yes I rested, but I also mailed some Christmas cards, gave myself a pedicure, and installed some pictures on my computer -- as well as some more mundane things like cleaning up the kitchen and washing sheets.

My son called last night to tell me our friend with brain cancer was moved back home from the hospital and will receive palliative care. She may have a couple of weeks left. I talked to my DIL this morning, and she is a wreck. This is her best friend, a pivotal person in her life, probably THE pivotal person in her life, and the unfairness of it all is stunning, incapacitating to her. Wish I could wave a wand and make it all go away.

This & that

December 18th, 2008 at 03:43 pm

My accomplishments yesterday -- I returned library books, labeled and put new items in the booth, washed & vacuumed the car, did laundry, ran dishwasher.

My sister and her hubby came over for cards and I sent them home with some cheese, mushroom soup, butter and a diet coke. Call me the food pantry! I love it, though.

No further word on my friend with cancer. I guess no news is good news.

Today I need to send out some Christmas cards -- at least to those who've sent me one already!

Two busy days, and a sad one

December 17th, 2008 at 01:38 am

Yesterday I took care of a few chores-- collected and took out the garbage, cleaned the cat pans, and hung my new valance. I did some cooking -- banana bread and chicken barbecue. And I did some financial stuff -- called TIAA-CREF to discuss changing my allotments (but decided to keep them as they are).

The big chore was taking my car in for the 90,000-mile checkup. I had to get a new battery, and they cleaned the engine, changed the air filter, flushed the power steering, did a safety inspection -- and I got an oil change and tire rotation as well. Altogether it was $353 -- about what I was expecting, though I wasn't exactly thrilled.

At the end of the day my son called to let me know that a dear friend who has brain cancer has entered the hospital with brain swelling. It looks bad for her. She has bravely battled this disease for two and a half years (after being told she had only six months). She is only 30 years old. Although this news is not unexpected, it hit me hard, and I tossed and turned all night after FTD'ing some flowers. She is far away and I can't visit. I can't call her because she has lost her speech. I'm just so sad.

Today I ran some errands -- mailed another Christmas package (the last one), picked up some prescriptions, picked up dry cleaning, got a few groceries. I also got my hair trimmed -- this after I tried to do it myself -- bad idea! At least I didn't ruin it, but that's one frugal idea that doesn't work.

I also scrubbed my couch and partially cleaned the interior of my car. Have to finish it up with one of those strong vacuums at the car wash.

Sunday chronicles

December 15th, 2008 at 12:57 pm

I didn't do too much yesterday. I repaired a light-up magnifying glass that I use for identifying marks on china, etc. And I cleaned out the fridge since today is garbage day.

My sister and her husband came over for cards. After the games were done, we went over their finances. They needed to take $200 out of their savings in order to pay the satellite TV bill and get gas. I've already recommended that they cancel the TV, but that advice has gone unheeded. I could tell my brother-in-law was very frustrated, and I only hope he will eventually see that it is better to have food and gas -- not to mention a roof over their heads -- than it is to have TV. Oh well, he thinks he can replenish the $200 on his next payday. I am doubtful.

I sent them home with some soup I had made, some potatoes, and some cheese -- all stuff I had in surplus. At the last minute I stuck in a can of Diet Coke for my BIL. My sister said, "You're spoiling him," and he patted my arm in thanks. I do worry about them so.

Accomplishments

December 14th, 2008 at 04:46 pm

Yesterday was the second day of keeping an "accomplishment" log, and I find I really wasn't too productive yesterday.

On the plus side, I repaired my cat's collar, mailed a Christmas package and a birthday card, forwarded mail sent here by mistake, baked cookies, slow-cooked some chicken thighs for barbecue, put away laundry, put some new items in the booth, and -- my best accomplishment of the day -- bought an outfit for my grandson, which cost nothing after using a $10 coupon from Penney's.

I also finished reading a book, visited with my cousin's sister, and talked on the phone with my son -- all of which took up some time. And are all worthy pursuits.

I will leave for Florida on the 22nd, so I need to get my car checked out. That's my goal tomorrow.

I've been away so long

December 13th, 2008 at 04:36 pm

What' wrong with me?

When things get tougher, I stop sharing my woes. But it helps me to share, to keep myself on track, so I'm going to keep trying to do it.

My finances have become inextricably woven with my sister's. I know many of you would say cut her loose, she made her own mess, but I can't do that. Aside from my kids, she is the family member I am closest to. And she really is trying to change. While we once thought her house would go into foreclosure, she has now made the mortgage payment for four months running; she is paying her bills, paying for her food and gas, and even has a little in savings (which I keep in my account, so she can't raid it). It still worries me that a single emergency will set her all the way back, but I am so grateful she has made the strides she has.

However, I am falling behind. Christmas gifts and a trip to the Midwest, among other things, has given me an $800 Discover bill to pay next month. For the first time since I have retired, I am facing the possibility that I might not be able to pay it in whole.

I have to drive to Florida in a week or so to be with my cousin. Before I go I should take the car in for its 90,000 mile checkup. Both my cats need to go to the vet for checkups. In January I have to start paying $456 a month for health insurance -- and I am only drawing $637 out of my retirement fund.

The booth did well last month, with sales of $308, but so far this month there hasn't been much activity. I may not even make the rent payment.

I can't look for a job because I have to go back and forth between here and Florida. Besides, my cousin IS my job, I need to be around to help her.

So I am feeling frustrated. Not exactly frightened -- I know I will have a roof over my head, no matter what. But the economy has taken its toll on my cousin's portfolio, so she cannot help me much other than providing me with a home.

This isn't what I expected when I retired.

But I will persevere.

On a different note, yesterday I was feeling like I just rattle around and do nothing -- so I decided to keep a log of my daily accomplishments. I was surprised that I DO do something all day!

Yesterday I:

Sewed buttons on a sweater.
Folded laundry.
Wrapped Christmas presents.
Updated my budget.
Updated my family blog.
Made homemade vegetable beef soup and egg salad.
Bought gas.
Stocked booth with new items.
Entered a bunch of Pepsi, Coke, and Stouffer's codes.
Ran the dishwasher.
Bought 5 shares of stock in King Pharmaceuticals on ING Sharebuilder.
Talked to my grandson on Skype.

Not so bad for a do-nothing day.