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Archive for December, 2009

Have I given up coffee?

December 31st, 2009 at 04:48 pm

I haven't had any coffee since I entered the hospital on the evening of December 13. I'm one of those people who can't go a day without coffee. I usually have several cups a day, and I REALLY enjoy it.

But I wonder if I should give it up. It's not good for my fibrocystic breasts (sorry guys); it's not good for getting to sleep at night; and maybe it has been contributing to, hmmmmm, an overactive bladder (sorry again).

By this time I am surely over any withdrawal effects.

I had a cup of herbal tea today; and while it was nothing like coffee, I could get used to it. If it would improve my health....

Funny how being injured makes you think about health all the time. Right now there is nothing I want more than health, strength, fitness ... and two working feet.

Rationally, I know I will walk again, maybe even run and jump. But emotionally, I feel like I am grounded for life. I don't know how people weather catastrophic injuries. It is so easy for your mind to prey on you. I admire people who are confined to wheelchairs and maintain a good attitude much more than I ever did before. I'm finding I really have to work at not being sad and blue.

Well, this is not finance-related at all, is it?

Tomorrow I will do my end-of-month and end-of-year totals. Hope to share some resolutions, too. I'm still thinking about them. I want them to be real and attainable.

Another Day

December 30th, 2009 at 11:09 am

Not much to report. The plumber came today and snaked out the drain. I did one mini-load of laundry -- exhausting!

I finished a book by Karin Slaughter and I'm getting ready to start another. She writes pretty graphic crime novels, but they are riveting.

I told a friend NOT to come and help -- she is dealing with issues of her own from surgery for a brain tumor.

I'm getting quite fond of Bonnie Hunt and Ellen.

I ordered a shower stool from Amazon, but my flexible spending account would not pay -- because Amazon is a BOOKSTORE. So I cancelled and ordered one from MedicalSupplyHouse. Looks like that order went through. Sheesh. Same item.

Who says you can't spend money in bed?

December 28th, 2009 at 11:06 am

Just have a laptop and your purse nearby and you're on!

This morning I paid my $100 co-pay to the hospital. I ordered some stuff from Alice.com for around $20. I bought a shower stool from Amazon for $42, including shipping. I will pay for my prescription renewals and delivery whenever they call me back -- about $16 for the meds, don't know what delivery will cost.

I think I've done all the stuff I have to do.

Yesterday I cleaned up and washed my hair. (Don't laugh; this is hard stuff). I fed the feral cats. I caught up on some email. I watched the Secret Santa episode of "The Office" on hulu.

I'm thinking of getting a Netflix subscription. I had one before that I let go, mostly because I was living with someone who kept saying, "Don't send that back, I'll watch it later," and it never happened. Ended up paying a monthly fee to let discs sit on the counter. Now that there is so much available to watch instantly on the computer, I think it would be a good source of entertainment while I'm laid up.

However, I've done all my business today. Manana.

Home Alone

December 27th, 2009 at 08:55 am

On Day 2 of Home Alone.

Day 1 had a twist -- the drain in my laundry room backed up. Not that I was going to do any laundry, but it left a mess. Maintenance came and put a plug in it and cleaned it all up, so it didn't turn out to be a problem for me. However, they will have to do some major work -- like replace a pipe -- sometime soon.

I caught up on my finance stuff -- my spending log and my budget -- which I hadn't done since Dec. 10. Everything is on track. For now, a broken ankle is keeping down spending.

I set up an account on Hulu, so I can watch stuff on my laptop in bed.

I fed myself, medicated myself, and changed my dressing. I did not bathe -- I will try to get that done today.

It was a good day to have to stay in -- it snowed all day. I have all my blinds down and can't see the snow. I would like to, but it's too hard to put them up and down, and since I need them down at night, they are down all day. I am in a cocoon.

My next goal is getting my presciptions refilled and getting a shower stool. I think if I call my local CVS, they will not only refill my meds but set aside a stool which I will pay for over the phone with my flex benefit card. Then I just have to get someone to pick them up for me. That will all depend on whether they have a stool in stock. My other option is to order it over the internet.

Just talked to DS2 on the phone. He and his family are headed to Florida today, so DS1 will be my only resource for a week -- except for my co-workers who have made general offers of help. DS1 has a full week of work ahead of him, so I am really pretty much on my own. My apartment manager has offered help, too. She had a broken ankle last year, and knows what I am going through. So I am not without resources. The only real problem I could have would be falling, and I am taking care not to do that (and wearing my phone around my neck).

I will never again take for granted being able to walk on two feet!

Oh, by the way, I had a wonderful Christmas Day. My boys got me everywhere I needed to go. I got to see my grandson experience his first Christmas when he really knew what was going on. I had quality time with both families. I even played a game (though it wore me out). So I am still feeling more blessed than bummed at this point!

Transition to home

December 24th, 2009 at 04:50 pm

I'm home now. The doctor's visit went well; my ankle is doing just what it should.

It's really hard managing by myself but today I did manage to feed myself, wash, wrap presents and clean the cat box, as well as put out a dish for the feral cats.

Tomorrow, if the weather doesn't turn too bad, I'm going back up to Evanston/Skokie just for the day -- or half a day. I would almost be tempted to cancel and stay in, except that my grandson REALLY REALLY wants the present I got (a guitar). DS2 will pick me up and DS1 will take me home. Wish me luck!

And Merry Christmas to everyone!

Just washed my hair

December 22nd, 2009 at 07:10 am

Oh, what a wonderful luxury... to have clean hair.

Actually my son washed it for me. Don't know how I'll do it when I get home.

I do now have a plan for getting home. Tomorrow my younger son will take me to the doctor and then home in my car. Then in the evening, when my older son gets off work, he will come pick up YS. During the time we are waiting for OS, YS will go to the grocery, take out the garbage, clean the cat pan and otherwise help me get ready for a stay a home alone.

Christmas Day is still up in the air. YS has offered to pick me up early so I will be there when the grandkids check out what Santa left. Then my OS would take me over and take care of getting me home. I hate to be such a pain on Christmas when I know they have so many other obiligations.... I am toying with the idea of just cancelling out and sending my gifts back with OS & YS on Thursday night. We'll see. I think with all I've been through I wouldn't mind a quiet day at home.

Finally got hold of the doctor who operated on me.

December 21st, 2009 at 07:49 am

My appointment is on Wednesday. Now I have to figure out how I will get there, and whether I should go home before or after the appointment. I will need help with both. I hate to be dependent on others.

And it is getting so close to Christmas... I still have presents to wrap and get back up here for Christmas Day.

The good news is that my son and his fiancee have chosen the venue for their wedding. A chapel in Glenview, with a dinner reception at Wildfire. Should be very nice. Their date is 10-10-10. Plenty of time for me to lose a few dress sizes.

Another day on my back

December 20th, 2009 at 12:06 pm

This morning I put $50 on my prepaid phone. It was a bit of a struggle figuring it out, especially since I had bought a prepaid card that I thought would go onto phone as minutes. No, it is simply a prepaid card, to use for making calls from any phone. I don't know why the clerk had me buy it. I arranged to have $50 charged to my Discover card whenever the balance in the phone drops below $5. This was my accomplishment of the day.

I got a visit from my son and grandson, and my cousin from Texas called. My son and I played sort of a "Name That Song" game, while my grandson watched Spongebob and Mickey and circled the candy jar and the not-to-be-touched guitar in hopes that we were not watching too closely. I had a good conversation with my cousin, whom I haven't spoken to since this summer. His wife, who is the breadwinner (he is retired) survived the layoffs at Shell and is now in a position where she will travel less. He didn't exactly say it was a downgrade, but I had the feeling they were feeling lucky to still have an income.

Had a smoothie for breakfast and a leftover chicken thigh for lunch. My appetite is still much reduced. I hope I can segue into a healthier, lighter diet than I had been indulging in before the fall. I may yet be able to get a good-looking dress (to put on an okay-looking body) for my son's wedding.

Speaking of weddings, my son's fiancee just returned from a scouting trip for a chapel. Looks like she might have found the right place, a non-denominational church -- white, with a steeple, very classic. It's in the suburb where she grew up. My son hasn't seen it yet, but I have a feeling this is the one.

Now, time for more rest!

Updates

December 19th, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Had a pre-Christmas celebration last night -- my ex is going to Florida for the holidays, so he and his wife stopped by to exchange gifts with my kids. Since I'm staying here, I was part of party. It was fine, actually quite fun. Also nice to get a preview of what my kids were given -- luckily I didn't buy any duplicates.

My ankle continues to feel better. Now my worry is whether I will connect with my doctor. Neither number I was given goes through -- one is disconnected -- the other is for the Institute of Bones & Joints, which I guess is closed for the weekend. I'll have to try again on Monday. I am hoping to coordinate the visit with going home, because getting out of the house isn't going to be any easy task.

I canceled AT&T today. Of course I had to go through the hand-wringing WHY???? conversation. I wish they had paid as much attention when I was a customer. AT&T turned me off (not for the first or last time) when they refused to honor a rebate for a phone their own rep had pushed on me.

My prepaid minutes are going pretty fast, and I hope I have made a good financial decision here. I'm not much of a phone talker, so I think it will work.

Don't yet have any sense of how this accident will impact me financially. I was told I owed a $100 co-pay when I was in the emergency room, but no one ever wanted to take it. I guess they'll catch up with me.

Ironically, the reserve in my FSA account is no longer a worry!

The Day Before

December 18th, 2009 at 08:08 am

I didn't get a chance to talk about the day before my big break --ha, ha-- which I spent in the City. It was a pretty interesting day, too.

Every year I meet an old friend downtown near Christmastime and we do something special. The last two years it has been tea at the Drake Hotel. That's what we did this year as well. She lives in Indiana, and our plan was to take our respective trains downtown and then meet up via cell phone.

Well, I got to the station and realized my cell phone was not working! It looked like it should -- no blank screen or anything, but I could not make a call, or, obviously, receive one. I wasn't even sure when her train was coming in (though I knew it was very close to the same time). I also knew that her train was coming in to Union Station, not Ogilvie, where I was.

So I highfooted it to Union Station (only two blocks away, but big blocks). I had to stand in a line to get someone to tell me when the Indianapolis train was arriving -- luckily, it was late, so I hadn't missed her. I stood at the gate and was very relieved when she stepped off the train. That could have been so disastrous. It made me realize how much we depend on cell phones now.

Well, I had been thinking of going prepay anyway, so I insisted on stopping a CVS and bought a phone on the spot. Thought I would at least be set for the rest of the day. Well, it turned out it had to charge, it was impossible to get out of the package, it had to be activated.... ended up leaving it in her hotel room, charging, while we went out for our tea.

Meanwhile, my friend figured out how to fix my phone (taking out and reinstalling the sim card). And then I started getting the calls. Apparently the phone had been not working for two days, and my kids were in a panic trying to find me, calling everyone they thought might know where I was. When they went to my apartment and I wasn't there, that just added fuel to the fire, and I had lots of 'splaining to do.

Nice to know that they were worried. And worried again when I fell the next day. I think I have been a bit of a troublesome mom lately.

So now I have two working phones and two plans. I can cancel the original AT&T plan, as the contract is up, and switch over completely to the Verizon prepay. I would have done so by now had I not fallen, but thinking about the phone mess was not high on my list of priorities till today. I still have a long list of names and numbers to switch over -- I just do a few at a time, and then I rest... But by tomorrow I should be ready to tell people my new number.

Oh, and today is going to be a BIG day. I'm going to wash my hair.Smile

I'm broke --- no, not that way....

December 17th, 2009 at 11:26 am

I broke my ankle on Sunday. I broke three bones and had to have surgery. I am held together now with pins and plates. I am not up for too much right now so I will try to keep this short.

I didn't fall on the ice. (EVERYONE asks me this). I fell over my own feet coming down the stairs outside my son's condo and just landed wrong. I will be in a cast for six weeks, and will not go back to work until after Christmas. I am staying at my other son's (he has a house) and was discharged from the hospital yesterday. I will probably stay here through the weekend and then go home and go it alone. If things get tough, though, someone will come and stay with me there a few days more. I'm very lucky that I live on the ground floor and there are no stairs within my apartment.

I am taking it one day at a time and feeling lucky it is not worse. Today I am feeling especially grateful that the side effects on the anesthesia have worn off, so I I'm not so nauseous and dry in the mouth. Little blessings!

Don't worry about me, friends, I will be all right and will check in with you regularly.

She's alive!

December 11th, 2009 at 06:04 am

My favorite of the feral cats showed up at my patio this morning for food. I was almost ready to leave for work and feeling down because none of the cats had appeared -- then there she was! Hopefully the others are okay, too.

I did get a shelter yesterday -- I ended up buying a big covered litter box which I wrapped in foam rubber. I filled it with wood shavings (the kind used in hamster cages) and put a heating pad under the shavings. It is a pad especially made for warming up a pet's bed, and it draws about the same electricity as a nightlight. Because it has to plug in, I had to position the whole contraption very close to my patio window. Unfortunately it doesn't look like anyone has used it, but then, it's hard to tell. It gives me peace of mind, at least, to know that it's there if a kitty is desperate. The whole thing cost me $77 to assemble.

The weather warmed up just enough yesterday so that my car windows and doors were working again, so I went to the bank and got gas. Gas was $22. I didn't completely fill the tank, because the wind was cutting through me, so at a certain point I said to myself, enough! I will try to keep the gas level above a half-tank, always, in this weather.

I went to a Christmas party last night -- a work gathering. The house of the hostess was amazing -- very large -- large enough to comfortably house 17 Christmas trees in various sizes! I wasn't particularly envious, though. What a lot of house to manage!

I took a homemade macaroni salad, which was a hit -- and a very economical side dish to make! In exchange got a wonderful supper, and good fellowship with my work crew, who are a good bunch of people.

So all in all, despite the excessive cold, a very good day yesterday!

It's brutal

December 10th, 2009 at 05:38 am

This is the coldest weather I remember in a long time. I was okay in my apartment, but this morning when I ventured out, I needed to get gas and go to the bank before work.

At the gas pump, I had to cancel because I couldn't get the door to the tank open.

At the bank, I couldn't roll my window down to go through the drive-through.

These are minor frustrations compared to what is really bothering me....

I feed about four feral cats who visit my patio daily. I am so fearful for them today. I don't see how they could have survived the night without someplace to get shelter. People say, oh, don't worry, they find places. But last night at about 9:30 one of them was trying to settle down in a cardboard box I had left on the patio. (Of course this morning it was empty and full of snow). If she didn't have a place by then, I'm afraid she might not have found one at all.

I left food out as usual but it was untouched by the time I left.

Tonight I plan to stop at the pet store and get a small doghouse. At least it would be something. My fear is that the apartment managers will complain, but I will chance it.

Thanksgiving Dinner Redux, Redux, Redux

December 9th, 2009 at 05:46 am

I'm still eating Thanksgiving Dinner, and will be for a while. When my family's get together wound down, I insisted upon taking all the food that others were planning to throw away. I had even brought a cooler for that purpose. I came away with a ton of turkey, ham, and many side dishes.

Phase One: I ate a few turkey sandwiches and ham sandwiches, and froze a bunch of the meat.

Phase Two: I made a big pot of turkey noodle soup, ate a few bowls, then froze it.

Phase Three: I made a "Thanksgiving Pie" -- really just a layered casserole of turkey and the sides, with mashed potatoes on top. Kind of a shepherd's pie.

Phase Four: Got sick of the Thanksgiving Pie and felt it was time to either toss it or freeze it. Instead, I put it in a big pan on top of the stove, added water and seasonings, and made a decent soup. Then I froze it.

Phase Five: I'm taking a macaroni casserole to a Christmas party tomorrow. I'm going to add some of the cut-up ham. (I don't usually do this, but I looked up recipes and saw that many called for it).

Don't know what phase six will be, but I still have quite a bit of ham in the fridge. Maybe grind up some of it for ham salad? Put it in a breakfast casserole?

I'm proud to report that in the month of November I spent a whopping $54 on groceries. (Note that I count only food in my grocery budget -- I have a separate line for household supplies). Between the conference at the beginning of the month, Thanksgiving weekend and the leftovers, I really didn't need to buy much food to have at home.

Last night I had frozen pizza and it was a welcome change!

Christmas shopping updates

December 6th, 2009 at 01:45 pm

Thank you for the gift suggestions! I decided on the "snuggly blanket" for my son's fiancee. I found a brown velvety throw with a sherpa-like lining, and I complemented it with two pairs of brown fuzzy aloe socks and some "chocolate" body wash & lotion. All at a good price.

For my son, I got a 5-cup Mr. Coffee for his office (he has to go across the street for coffee now) and a Nike T-shirt.

Also, thank you for encouraging me to get a tree, even though I was feeling too poor. I went shopping for a real tree yesterday -- they were all too big -- and then I overheard a price quote of $70. I scrambled out of there. And not just because of the price, but because I realized I was not physically up to putting up a real tree by myself. But I'm glad I did the walk-through, because it was a very cool Christmasy experience, complete with holiday music, a wood fire and good piney smells.

Instead I opted to get a small pre-lit articial tree at Wal-Mart. I also got a pre-lit garland. I put them both up today, and decorated them with my beloved ornaments. I also got out my Christmas village, my Santa collection, and my grapevine tree (which I had forgotten about), and which I decorated with all my earth-toned ornaments. I am very happy and brimming over with the Christmas spirit.

In an hour or so I will get ready for a Christmas dinner -- it is a working dinner for me, as it is an appreciation event for my employer's donors. But it is a chance to dress up and I am determined I will enjoy it.

My Christmas gift spending was $65. My trip to Wal-Mart cost $57, but it included some non-Christmas things like hangers, cleaning products, and a new stapler. (Woo-hoo! A Christmas present for myself!)

I also made a Goodwill stop yesterday to drop off items and ended up spending $21 -- part of it was a gift for BFF (a teapot), and part of it was gifts for moi -- wine glasses and more houses for my Christmas village. Good finds all.

In the midst of all my spending, I stopped at McDonald's for lunch. Or, that is, I drove through McDonalds. I dropped a dollar at the window (which was immediately reimbursed) but still I was so rattled I left my food there and had to go back. And someone had already got the dollar bill flopping around on the ground! (Someone after my own heart!) I spent $4 there.

Christmas shopping

December 4th, 2009 at 06:33 am

I'm in the middle of Christmas shopping. I went the Amazon route and picked off the lists for my DIL and grandsons, and one of my sons. MY DIL is getting books, my older grandson is getting a little guitar, and the baby, who doesn't care, is getting a new outfit. My son, the daddy in the family, is harder to buy for. The only things on his list are board games (he loves intricate, creative board games -- even wants to design them). However, I just got him a game for his birthday, which was only last week, and I hate to give a similar gift again. My other son is getting a gizmo for his Playstation, which was on his list; however, his fiancee doesn't have a list. I really don't know what to get for her. I gave her vintage jewelry for her birthday. In the past, I've given her cookbooks and a crystal vase. I'm running out of ideas.

Any ideas from you twenty-thirty somethings out there?

Anyway, I've spent about $160 so far (I'm budgeting $40 per person.) All on Discover card. If I find I can't pay my Discover card in full I will use the EF.

On the 16th I'm going to a family holiday breakfast which will include my ex and his wife. I wonder whether I should have some gift on hand in case they give me one? I know they are planning on giving the kids their gifts at that time, as they will be in Florida for the holiday.

I know what I will give my sister. I'm going to reimburse her for the $60 she spent to check one bag on USAir. She is always out of money; I think it will be the best gift for her.

I usually don't exchange gifts with my cousin, but I have learned that she is having someone finish a quilt my mother started. So I need to get something nice for her. I also have a good friend who always gets a little something -- that won't be hard; she is easy to buy for and only expects a small gift.

Sad this morning

December 2nd, 2009 at 05:49 am

I just had a phone conversation with my sister, who flew back to her home yesterday. No, I'm not sad because I miss her. I'm sad because I worry about her.

She is utterly clueless about money. This morning she told me that their check for their new water heater bounced for the second time, because Google has taken money from their bank account. Of course it is not Google, and she now realizes that the "make money at home" plan she signed up for has nothing to do with Google and everything to do with getting scammed.

The bounced check is just a drop in the bucket compared to all their other financial woes. I have really tried to help her learn what to do, but she resisted (even bought a new couch on the sly while I was supposedly helping her track her spending). Then she bought a fourth dog (although they clearly can't handle the three they already have -- physically or financially). So about a month ago I wrote her a note that I was backing off and letting her handle her finances herself, that she would help herself when she was ready, yada yada yada.

They have been on the brink of losing their home twice and I am afraid that homeless is inevitable for them.

But I love her, and she has many good qualities, so I can't just write her off. So I'm sad this morning.

Thanks for letting me vent....