Home > Archive: September, 2012

Archive for September, 2012

Got my train ticket

September 21st, 2012 at 01:06 pm

I walked to the station yesterday at noon and bought my train ticket for next month. It was $135.25. I took my receipt to the college business office, and they gave me two $15 vouchers for the next ticket. So from now on the cost will be $105.25, unless they decide to end the program. With all the budget cutting going on around here, I wouldn't be surprised. But I'll enjoy it while it lasts!

Today I leave for my road trip to Florida. I meant to have everything done so I could leave from work, but I decided in the end to swing by home first and do last-minute things. Home is right by a north-south highway, so there is really no loss in going home first. I'll clean the cat box one last time, and pack my flat iron (now cooling) and my bras (still drying).

I do hate driving out of Chicago on Friday nights. Everyone gets on the road and it's always jammed. My destination tonight is the middle of Indiana, where I'll stay at my friend's house overnight, and then we'll hit the road together in the morning.

A day downtown

September 20th, 2012 at 02:23 pm

I went downtown for a meeting yesterday, which ended up taking most of the day. I took the train -- $9.50 for round trip. And I spent $15 on food -- breakfast and lunch (and I saved half of my sandwich from lunch for dinner). None of this will be reimbursed because it was a meeting for a professional organization I belong to, not a work requirement.

I walked from the station to my meeting, which was about a 1/2 hour walk. I made it longer by not being able to find the place, and wandering around a little. Then, on the walk back to the station, I couldn't find it! How can you lose a huge train station? (Answer: you can when it is surrounded by other huge buildings.) I was in the right area, but started to get confused by the street names. I finally stopped at a bank and asked directions, which set me straight. It meant that I missed the first train back, so got back an hour later than I needed to.

It was a great day for walking, however! Beautiful and crisp. I love walking downtown; there is so much to see.

At the end of the day, I went to the post office and bought stamps and mailed a package ($14).

I thought I had all my wall art bubble-wrapped, but I forgot that there are still two in the bathroom, plus a couple sitting behind the bedroom door that I never had a place for. It will be interesting to see how much I am able to hang in my new place. I love wall art and I have a pretty good collection -- none of it particularly valuable, but very pleasing to me!

I am starting on my trip tomorrow after work, so I have to pack tonight. Suitcases this time, not boxes.

Yesterday at the train station I learned that monthly passes will go on sale today, so I think I will duck out at noon and get one. Anything I can get done now....


September 18th, 2012 at 03:16 pm

Oh boy. While packing last night, I damaged the cord to the toaster while it was still plugged in. Flames shot out of the outlet. Quite a scare! The toaster is fried; it went into the garbage. The microwave, plugged into the same outlet, was not working either, and I assumed it would go into the garbage, too, as soon as I left like struggling with it. But this morning, I opened the refrigerator door, and the refrigerator is not working, either. I called maintenance. Hopefully, it was just a fuse or blown circuit and it will be working again when I get home. But I packed all the food I want to keep from the refrigerator into a cooler and took it to work. We have a big fridge here and my stuff fit in well. I actually might leave a lot of it here for making lunches.

And maybe the microwave is not ruined, and, since I have a built-in microwave in my new place, it would not be any loss if it were. But if it's working, I'd rather give it to Goodwill than throw it in the trash.

I bought lunch at the cafeteria yesterday. It was only $2.89 for a very protein-rich salad; I was pleasantly surprised. I use the cafeteria rarely, as I am a faithful brown-bagger.

I paid a medical bill - $78.

Aside from the toaster disaster, packing is going well. I really need to find some BIG boxes; I have a lot of mid-size and smaller boxes, but bulky stuff to pack.

Tomorrow I have to go downtown for a meeting. I'm going to take the train and then walk about a mile to the destination. I'll also have to buy lunch, and, as the first part of the meeting is at Corner Bakery, I'll probably pick up something for breakfast, too.

While I'm at the station tomorrow, I'll see about buying a monthly ticket for next month. I looked at buying it through the website, but they would mail the ticket, and I don't want to risk it being mailed to wrong address. I need to have it in my hot little hand on October 1!

What a great time for a road trip!

September 17th, 2012 at 04:29 pm

I started looking for airfares to Florida this weekend (to attend my aunt's memorial service next Monday) and realized I just couldn't bear the thought of flying. Not right now. Not so soon after my scary flight, and not while I am feeling so stressed. So I called my BFF and asked her if she would like to take a road trip to Florida with me. She would!

On many levels this is a dumb decision. It will take more time than flying, and will not be cheaper -- probably more expensive, when you figure in hotel costs. Yet it feels right. I won't feel so frantic, I'll enjoy the time with my friend, and I'll be in total control of when I arrive and when I leave.

I made great strides in my packing this weekend. (Otherwise I wouldn't consider driving.) In fact, I am really getting down to items that can't be packed until the very end. This week I will bubble-wrap my big wall hangings and then I'll start packing dishes and pots, etc. I'll just leave out a few place settings to use for the last few days. I'll also pack my clothing and shoes. I'll pack a couple of suitcases for the trip and a little extra, and the rest is going into boxes. I'll live out of the suitcases until I move. (I might even pack my coffee maker -- coffee is available all over, no?)

I have many other things to do, too. Buying a monthly train pass, switching my electric, making arrangements for my cats (I don't want them roaming free while the truck is being loaded). I have them all logged in on "Remember the Milk" so I don't forget something important.

It's starting to seem really, really soon now!


September 15th, 2012 at 05:47 pm

I got a call from the lender yesterday telling me I was approved for the loan for the condo. That was a big relief. Now I can concentrate on the move without wondering at some level if I really will have a place to live!

I found out that my aunt's memorial service will be in Florida, which makes sense -- it had been her home for many years before she moved to her daughter's house. Makes attending more difficult though -- it will have to be a flight, not a drive.

The service is planned on the 24th, so I have some time to prepare, but I will lose packing time in my last week here. As I have said before, I will just have to pack faster to make up for time lost.

I haven't found a flight yet. I looked around a little, but I still haven't decided what days to fly. I've talked to my brother and my cousin, and they are still undecided about even making the trip. I'm pretty sure my sister will not go. She never has any money, and she was near my aunt at the end, so got to say her last good-bye.

I'm not going to buy any more groceries. With only two weeks to go, and one of them interrupted by a trip, I need to use things up. I might have some strange meals coming up! And I'll probably be eating out more than usual.

A sad passing

September 14th, 2012 at 01:43 pm

Yesterday morning I got the news that my beloved aunt had passed away peacefully in the night. I knew that it would happen any time. There is no word yet on a service for her -- I wouldn't be surprised if her daughters choose a private family service. Still, I would want to go. It's an all-day trip to drive there, so I will have to take some time off. I will also have to use vacation time, as the loss of an aunt doesn't qualify for bereavement time. And with the purchase of the condo looming, this is a really bad time for me. But -- she was a very important person in our family; everyone adored her. She will be greatly missed.

I will just double up my packing efforts until I have to leave.

Yesterday my lender left me a voice mail saying I hadn't returned certain documents. After a lot of sifting through email and hard-copy printouts, I determined that I was never sent those documents. I tried to contact the processor yesterday, but she was apparently out of the office. Today I got a brief email saying she would re-send. I'm so nervous about this loan, anyway -- this doesn't help.

Yesterday I received my Kindle cover. Unfortunately it was the wrong size. I realized that before it came, but it was too late to change the order. So now I have to send it back and pay the shipping. I paid for it with Discover points, so I hope they will correctly reimburse me with my points.

Today is "Spirit Day" at work. In the three years I've been here, I've managed to avoid buying a College T-shirt or sweatshirt, but this time it seemed like it was really expected. And those of us in development and alumni relations are held to a higher standard of "boosterism" than the rest. So I caved and bought a T-shirt at the book store yesterday - $16. I remembered why I hate branded wear. You can't get petites! I had to get a very large size just so the long tail would fit over my hips. If the shirt would only stop where it should, I could get a shirt to fit, but they are always long, long, long! I feel very uncomfortable today, which is not the idea at all.

Just some chatter

September 12th, 2012 at 07:25 pm

I got my homeowner's insurance squared away today -- only $156 per year (gotta love a condo!) I just went ahead and paid for the year ahead after I got the quote. I was pleasantly surprised at the low cost.

Last night I bought a gift bag, tissue paper and birthday cards at Dollar General - $5.36. Now my grandson's gift is very smartly wrapped, and I found a dinosaur card that he will love. I will miss the Dollar General. I'll have to find a replacement in the new place. I'll also have to find a new Goodwill. I've been told that Evanston doesn't have one -- the nearest thrift store is a Salvation Army, which I've never found to be anywhere near as nice.

I had to fax some more documents today to the lender. Will it never end? Surely there can't be any aspect of my life that has escaped scrutiny!

I fell asleep last night at 7:30 and woke up this morning at 5. I was really tired after two nights of restless sleep. I will have to get up at five every morning once I move. It seems hard to contemplate now, but I know I will get used to it. Look at the morning news anchors, on the job before the crack of dawn! They must get up in the middle of the night. You do what you gotta do.

I found out from my employer that they will reimburse me $30 for each monthly train ticket I buy. That brings the cost down to $105. And the annual savings to $360! Sweet!

I'll be interested to see how much laundry costs me. Right now it's "free" with my own washer/dryer in my unit -- but the water bill is about $25 per month. I wonder if I can do coin laundry for about the same amount. It's $1.50 per load to wash and dry. If I'm not mistaken, I could do 16 loads a month for $25! I think I probably do about 12 now, but I've never kept track.

Dollar General

September 11th, 2012 at 06:17 pm

I stopped at Dollar General last night and got some kitty litter ($3), vitamins ($3), and birthday cards ($2). What great prices! I need to stop again tonight and get a gift bag. I don't have one big enough for my grandson's birthday gift, and I can't wrap it -- it's too oddly shaped (one of those partial boxes with the toy sticking out).

I paid my physical therapy bill for July -- $80. Hope I will not get any more as I stopped physical therapy on August 7.

I am running low on boxes, but I score a box here and there. Today there were two in the break room. Also, six-packs of V-8 energy drinks to give away. I took one yesterday, and since no one seemed terribly interested, took another today. If I don't drink them, my kids will.

I heard from my cousin today that my aunt has been moved to a hospice center. That makes me sad, of course, but it also worries me that I may not be able to go to her funeral when the time comes. If it happens before the end of this month, I'll have to give up crucial days that should be devoted to packing. If it's at the end of the month, I have to stay here to close and move. If it's the middle of next month, I will be having surgery. Of course, you never know how long someone is going to hang on, but they say she is unresponsive. Peaceful, though, for which I am grateful.

Musical accompaniment

September 10th, 2012 at 05:09 pm

There is a home-grown rock band playing outside my window at work. (Part of a promotion of one of our educational centers). They are amazingly good! The lead female singer is a co-worker, and she sings beautifully! I am so impressed. But what I'm really thinking about is how happy the music is making me feel. Makes me think I should look into more musical accompaniment at work, though canned music wouldn't be as stimulating as the live music is.

And they are providing free hot dogs, too! I'm already digesting mine. Smile

This weekend I got my hair cut ($15), went to a movie (free - but $11 for popcorn & coke), got gas ($48), and went to Goodwill. At Goodwill I got a brand-new bed skirt (which I was planning on buying retail once I moved - $7), a beautiful brand-new choker ($6), a Bears T-shirt for my big BIL ($5) and some stocking stuffers ($2). I also bought a Scrabble Jr. game for $2. I'm collecting used games with letter tiles which I want to use for creating double-acrostics. I can do it without the tiles, but it will be so much easier with them.

That was Saturday. On Sunday I stayed home and packed. I was down to one empty box, but today I found two more in the dumpster. Eighteen more days before closing, and I am still packing extraneous items. It will get harder when I get down to the nitty-gritty everyday stuff. But then I will know I am SO CLOSE to being in my own home!

$5 oil change

September 7th, 2012 at 04:22 pm

I used a Deals Magazine voucher this morning to get an oil change and inspection for $5. It cost me an additional $17.62 to get a brake light replaced. I really liked the garage, they seemed to be very professional and honest, but since I'm moving away soon, I probably won't go back.

The mechanic told me I should think about replacing the radiator hoses, as they are still the originals on a 2001 car. I will, but not right away.

The garage was in a neighboring suburb I wasn't familiar with, so I left quite early in order to find it in time. I got there way TOO early, so I found a Subway and had a breakfast combo. $3.23.

Yesterday I got an email from the loan processor to pay $95 to get some kind of report from the condo association. I gave them permission to charge to my Discover card. Today there's an email saying the seller's realtor is providing the documents for free. The card was already charged. They may have to cut me a check. I hope this doesn't get lost in the shuffle. $95 is a lot of money to me.

This weekend I plan to find more boxes and do more packing, but I'm also going to do something fun. I have enough left on an AMC gift card to see one movie, so I am going to see "The Words." Jeremy Irons is my favorite actor, and the rest of the cast is great, too.

The college where I work added a lacrosse program this year. My office window looks out on the field. It's fun to watch them practice. How DO they catch that ball in those little nets?

And speaking of sports, I am one of the leaders in my family's football pool, because Dallas won! I actually don't follow football at all; I am the family joke, and it's especially funny when I pick it right and the "experts" don't. I usually lose big-time, though.

Figuring out the train schedule

September 6th, 2012 at 02:13 pm

So, after my move, I will be taking the train to work. I have to go downtown first and transfer at the station, so I will have four trains to catch per day. I've been looking at the schedules, and it looks like I have the choice of catching the first train at 6:19 or 6:51, and arriving home at 5:35 or 6:22. It will be a long day -- each train ride is about a half-hour. But I will not have to face traffic and it should be a relaxing time for reading and daydreaming. I ordered a lighted Kindle cover in preparation (free with Discover rewards). The price for a monthly train ticket is $135, and I've heard that I can also get some sort of rebate from work. I have to check into that.

I will also have a bit of a walk at each end -- about 3/4 of a mile to catch the first train, and about 2/3 of a mile to walk to work from the station. That will add another 1/2 hour to my day. But it will be good for me -- enforced exercise!

Yesterday I got my gas changeover scheduled and I talked to the insurance agent. She recommended that I find out if the lender has a coverage requirement -- I sent an email, but haven't heard back.

I tried to transfer the electricity, but the website won't let me choose the date -- I'm too early, apparently.

I went to the break room this morning and there were several loaves of dark bread with a note, "Please take." I took about a four-inch chunk and had it for breakfast with cheese I had brought. I'm not supposed to have bread, but it IS dark, so maybe it's a whole grain? Oh well, I have a hard time turning down anything that's free.

I am packing boxes every evening, and last night I took some stuff to Goodwill. I briefly looked at the books while I was there, and bought two to use as gifts. $1.79 each.

That reminds me -- I'm going to have to get used to a new library! Hope the new one has all the nice amenities my current one has!

Still Around

September 5th, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I haven't posted in a while, but I'm still around. I've been overwhelmed by the process of buying a condo, a weekend trip to Florida, and work demands.

The condo buy is on target as far as I know. I sent a packet of documents to the loan processor and haven't heard any screams. I've arranged for a mover to come in the day after closing (my lease is up on October 1 and closing is on September 28). I've scheduled my transfer of Comcast service. I've paid for the appraisal, but no word on how that went. I still have to change my Allstate policy (I tried, but they didn't respond to the web request -- so it's off to find a live person today). I have to change my gas and electricity. I tried that online, too, but they can't process my new address because it has a 1/2 in it. That might be a problem. I'll have to ask other residents how they handle that.

The wedding in Florida was lovely, and I got some nice visiting time with shirttail relations I hadn't seen in a long, long time. Hoping to keep up a couple of contacts I made! I spent more than I planned to on food, but being able to stay free at a friend's condo was a big savings for me. I also paid a lot for car rental -- it was $145 for two days! That included their lowest insurance -- I probably should have stood firm against it, but in truth, I really don't know what my own insurance covers, and I've heard horror stories. And I also paid $25 to check a bag on the way down, but didn't on the way back. It's bigger than their ideal model, but it fits in the bin longways, so I went for it. The airport taxi was expensive, too, more than $80 and I paid $10 in tips.

Had an awful flight back as we flew over storms in the Ohio Valley. Enough turbulence to make people gasp. I was very happy to be on terra firma.

August was a very expensive month, with two trips, all those pesky house-buying fees, and some frivolous spending. (I bought shoes, a purse and a scarf for the wedding). I did not include the earnest money, as I should get that back.

Rent - 1182
Fees/Services - 840
Vacation/Travel - 414
Groceries - 155
Medical/Health - 154
Utilities - 143
Gifts/Charity - 117
Clothing - 88
Phone - 55
Eating Out - 47
Gas - 43
Entertainment - 42
Vet/Pet Supplies - 40
Household Supplies - 33
Furnishings & Equipment - 9
Miscellaneous - 6
Car Repair/Maintenance - 5
Personal - 3

Total - 3376

My sidebar is all wrong now, but I'll wait to change it after the sale goes through and everything is stabilized.

Oh, I forgot to say, I figured out my transportation to work once I move. The monthly train ticket will only be $135, much cheaper than gas would be. The downside is that I'll have to ride downtown and transfer, so it will not be quick (but perhaps quicker than being stuck in traffic!) Also, much safer, easier on my aging car, and a good time to read and reflect.