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Home > Archive: August, 2019

Archive for August, 2019

Changing my Mind

August 20th, 2019 at 05:37 am

I emailed and then called the property manager about my mold fears. They told me I would have to get permission from my upstairs neighbor to get testing, because he would have to pay for it. So frustrating! But they did, at least, share his phone number and email address with me, which is the first time they've done so in all this time.

BUT, I don't think I'm going to get the testing right now. I think I was smelling something quite different. Now that I'm keeping the windows open, trying to save money on AC, I've been smelling the garbage from the bins in the alley. That explains why the smell is no stronger in the kitchen than it is in the bedroom. It also explains why it smells like garbage. Smile

When the repair is done -- in a few weeks, I hope -- I will ask for mold testing, just in case, but I don't think it is necessary now.

The boys and I had Mexican mac & cheese for lunch, and we made an apple cake for dessert. After lunch, we went to the library. I ended up paying .25 for parking, when I took them to their mom's work at the end of the day. Today I'm going to feed them chicken noodle soup and biscuits.

Tonight we are all meeting at Buffalo Wild Wings; not sure what the occasion is, but I said I would be there. My ex and his wife will be there, too. I have $54 for the coming week, so I can manage a light dinner. But I might get treated; I often do.

Another Birthday Dinner

August 19th, 2019 at 06:25 am

Yesterday my kids took me out for my birthday dinner. We went to a local farm-to-table upscale restaurant, and it was really great. They also gave me a board game called "Marrying Mr. Darcy," and we all played it after the meal. What a hoot! I am a big, big Jane Austen fan and I love that there is a game based on Pride & Prejudice. And I own it! (I snagged the identity of Elizabeth Bennet and tried to marry Mr. Darcy, but ended up an old maid with a literary reputation. Kind of true to life! Except for the literary reputation part!)

It was a no-spend day. I even managed to park without having to pay for it.

Today I sent an email to my contact at the property management company about the mold. If I don't get a quick response, I'll try to figure out how to call him. I'm starting with email because the thread explains the whole history.

I now have only nine days to get through before pay day. It's starting to feel like I can really do it. However, I do have child care this week -- for some reason I thought the kids would be on vacation until the start of school, but no, they are home and school doesn't start till next Monday.

I am going to have much less to do once school starts, because both boys will walk or ride bikes, and the timing will work out well with DIL's schedule. So I will mostly be handling music lessons and other special appointments.

Birthday Dinner and - Ugh - Mold

August 18th, 2019 at 04:44 am

BFF and her family decided to make last night our dinner out. We went to Rainforest Cafe and had a wonderful time. BFF's granddaughter was also celebrating a birthday, so it was great fun all round.

I came home to disappointment, however. The smell hit me like a brick when I opened the door. The mold was back in my kitchen ceiling. I had noticed a smell the last few days, but thought it was the garbage, or maybe even a mouse who had died in the wall, but last night I realized it was mold. I sprayed with bleach again and aimed a fan up at it. I'm going to have to call a mold remover. I have been waiting for upstairs neighbor to return home so he would pay for it, as well as the ceiling repair. But he is not going to be home until either the end of August or September 7 (I've been told both). As it is I have to wait till Monday morning just to call someone.

I've slept terribly two nights in a row now. Worrying about mold didn't help. Hoping I can catch some zzzz's today.

DS & family got home from vacation last night. My calendar says there is a baseball game this morning at 8 am. That can't be right. It's raining anyway.

Assessment Fees and Weekend Plans

August 17th, 2019 at 06:08 am

I woke up in the middle of the night last night, thinking "My assessment fees are going to hit twice this month!" And it's true. With my pay day so late in the month, I will have to pay assessment fees again before I get any more income. So this morning I transferred money from savings. The assessment payment is automatic, and I don't want to be surprised by a negative balance.

I spoke with BFF yesterday, and she wants me to join her family for dinner in one of the western suburbs on Sunday. She said she understands my financial position, and she wants to pay for my dinner as a birthday present. I said yes!

I had a terrible night's sleep last night, so I don't think I will try to meet up with her for any of today's events. Some of them would be free, but the way I'm feeling now, I think I will just focus on the Sunday dinner.

I did a load of laundry yesterday, and I left my load in the dryer all night! That was another thing that woke me up in the night. I've never done that before; I just completely forgot it. This morning I folded it, and it doesn't look too bad. A little wrinkling, but wrinkles that will hang out. It looks like I didn't inconvenience anyone else, because my laundry was untouched. Usually, if someone needs to use the dryer, they will take out the dry clothes and pile them on top.

My kids are scheduled to come home today -- don't know what time. I'll go over for the last time this morning and give their cat a double serving of food in case they are late.

Great Lunch

August 16th, 2019 at 05:20 am

My lunch with B was lovely. We had a wonderful time catching up. The food was great. Even the traffic cooperated.

Unfortunately, I spent quite a bit more than I was planning to. The meal, with tip, was $39. We were so busy talking I wasn't really paying attention. Everything was a la carte, and I ordered a beverage and a dessert in addition to the entree. But at least I did have enough leftovers for lunch today.

I also spent $20 on gas. So variables are at 89% with a week and a half to go. It's back to austerity. But at least it's starting to feel like a manageable chunk of time.

Today I'm laying low. I'll have my "free" lunch, I'll do some housework, I'll do some more reading in my conversation manual and Shakespeare, and maybe do a load of laundry. And of course I'll go over and feed DS' cat. I'm going twice a day now, because it seems to help her feel more secure. She'll be so glad when her family comes home on Saturday.

Free Stuff!

August 15th, 2019 at 04:57 am

I'm not a dumpster diver. Seriously. But yesterday, when I was walking over to my son's house to feed the cat, I saw two items sitting outside the dumpster in the alley. One was a hibachi-type grill in perfect condition. I passed that up, because I don't grill any more. The other was a Coleman cooler in like-new condition. The inside was pristine; there was just a little dust on the outside, like it had been stored for a while. I snatched it up and put it in my trunk, wiping it off with one of the wipes I keep in my car. I'm going to put it into use today, maybe, if I bring home leftovers from my lunch with B.

Then I thought, someone who dumped such nice things beside the dumpster, perhaps, would put nice things in the dumpster. I looked inside and there were several laundry baskets filled with clothes. I left those for someone else, but I did find a pair of Thinsulate gloves -- perfect condition, perfect fit. They are the kind with the long cuffs. They will be a great boon this winter.

It boggles my mind that someone would just throw stuff like that away, but I'm glad they did.

Oh, and I also found an unopened package of ping pong balls. I took those for playthings for the cats.

My trip to DSW was equally as prosperous. I had a $5 coupon. I went straight to the clearance area and found a three-pack of socks for $4.99. For some reason, when I checked out, they didn't even charge me any tax. I asked, too, and they said that's how it rang up. The socks are crew socks, plain gray, plain charcoal gray, and black patterned.

I didn't get the ice cream, because I went to the wrong place -- I had it in my head that all Dunkin Donuts are combined with Baskin Robbins, but of course they are not. I'll get the ice cream later. Maybe today!

So it was not only a no-spend day, but quite a profitable day!

Breathing Room

August 14th, 2019 at 06:36 am

I realized that I still had my surgery-related medical bills included with my variables -- I have pretty much given up on being able to pay them out of variables. Moving them to come out of savings will give me some breathing room in the budget. Variables are now 76%. Much better! Whew!

It's a shame whenever I have to take something out of savings, but after all, that's what it's there for, and I have paid much less for medical (so far) than I expected when I embarked on the whole hip replacement adventure.

Tomorrow I go meet my old friend B for lunch, and it will feel good to reconnect with her. I haven't seen her for a couple of years.

BFF hasn't updated me yet on her family plans for the weekend. If they come, I will probably just tell her I can't really afford to join them. It seems harsh, when part of the reason I can't afford it is that I am spending money to travel and have lunch with B. But I made that promise earlier. Anyway, I will see BFF on September 7 when we go to a wedding together. That is in Chicago, also, so we will have some cost with that, figuring out where to park and all.

Today I'm going to the gym, and then, while I'm out and about, I'm going to use a couple of birthday coupons. $5 at DSW -- always good for a pair of socks -- and a free kiddie scoop of ice cream at Baskin-Robbins.


August 12th, 2019 at 03:00 pm

I did a load of laundry today; otherwise, it was a no-spend day. Variables are at 95% with two weeks and two days to go.

I made a skillet dish of ham with cabbage and apples; ate one serving and froze the rest. I also made a chicken stir fry with cabbage, carrots, peppers, onions and pineapple. One serving is in the fridge for tomorrow; the rest is in the freezer. The purpose of making these dishes was to use up the produce I got from DS; I wanted to do it quickly since most was a bit beyond its "best if used by" date.

It was really warm, and sweat was pouring down my face as I finished up cooking -- but I am refusing to turn on the AC. A storm is going to come through tonight and cool things down.

I continued reading my two educational books, and I made a trip to DS's house to feed their cat. She was very lonely and I sat with her on my lap for about a half-hour. She's very young and has never been left before. She's pretty bewildered.

I also went to the gym this morning.

BFF texted me today that she might be in Chicago this weekend with her son's family. They usually go to one of the museums, and she wants me to join them. Well, I can't afford that -- the museums are quite expensive, and I'm not sure what to tell her. I've already told her about my financial hardship this month, but she doesn't seem to quite get it. That said, I would also hate to miss seeing her, so I'm torn about what to do. I'm hoping they decide not to come so I don't have to decide!

A Quiet Birthday

August 11th, 2019 at 04:04 pm

DS & the boys left early this morning to join DIL out east for a vacation. She has been working at a conference in Buffalo and will stay another week as she and the rest of the family explore Niagara Falls, Canada, etc. DS called before leaving to wish me a happy birthday and to let me know that he and DIL decided the best thing to do was to celebrate my "milestone" birthday when they all get back and they can do it right. I had already assumed that this was what they were going to do, since I hadn't heard any plans!

My Florida DS called and we had a long, good talk. And I've had many good wishes from friends and family. I feel blessed.

I felt inspired today to read a couple of books from my bookshelf. One is "The Art of Conversation." I've only read the first chapter, but it seems to be practical advice for improving conversational skills. I can really use this. I write pretty well, but I am awkward and halting in conversation. Typical introvert. I would like to be more articulate.

The other is the complete works of William Shakespeare. I read a lot of the plays in college, but that was a long time ago. I started at the very beginning and so am reading background material about life in Elizabethan England, which is very interesting! I already know a lot of it from reading historical fiction, but it is nice to see it all pulled together. It will take me a long time to get through the whole book, but I think it will be inspiring.

I am caring for DS' kitten while they are gone, and today I brought her over to see if she and Iggy would get along. Well, of course, I knew they wouldn't, but I thought MAYBE Iggy was docile enough that it would work. They stalked and growled and hissed, and I finally took her home, where she was very happy to be.

DS told me to take home any food in the fridge that was ready to expire. I brought home some salad, cabbage, carrots, peppers, apples, and clementines. I ended up throwing out the salad and peppers; they were too far gone. I also brought home some ham. He told me to take that. So I'll have a ham sandwich tonight.

I made the chicken noodle soup today -- I only made the broth yesterday. And I altered the potato cheese soup. It was too salty, so I added water, a little white wine vinegar and some sugar. It worked! I also added chopped leftover asparagus, which made the soup pretty and delicious.

After worrying about stretching my food, I am now worrying about using it all up!

The Perfect Gift

August 10th, 2019 at 04:13 pm

It's my birthday tomorrow. But today I got the perfect gift from a couple of friends. They sent me a big basket full of apples, oranges, grapes, pineapple, crackers, cookies, salami, and cheese. Just when I was worrying about making my groceries last! And I swear I never breathed a word to them about my budget worries this month, though they did know in general about my gap year coming to an end.

I also got a package from my Florida son and DIL with two new books. Ah, what a pleasant weekend I will have!

No spending today, other than laundry. I didn't even pay to park at the library, choosing instead to walk the two blocks from free parking.

I got a letter from SS today verifying my first payment on September 18. They also said, "In your first payment, you will receive the difference between the benefits already paid and those now due." I have no idea what that means. I guess I'll find out.

Can't believe I'm going to be 70! Just doesn't seem real.

Walmart Again

August 9th, 2019 at 01:15 pm

I went back to Walmart, because something just wasn't right. I looked up my order online and it showed that it was picked up! I took the documentation in to the store, and their records showed that it never arrived. I asked to cancel the order, since I didn't trust that I would ever get it. That was quite an ordeal, because they had to force the refund -- since I supposedly had the item, I was supposed to return it! What a mess. The good part was that the people involved were as nice and apologetic as could be, and quite frustrated with the system themselves. I won't try to order again until I get paid.

I was reimbursed $12. I turned around and spent it on gelato -- not at Walmart, but at a cute local shop. I had promised gelato to my grandson all summer and today was my last chance to keep my promise.

My remote for the Amazon Fire Stick stopped working today. It stopped yesterday but I got it going again. Today, nothing worked. Rather than get a new one, I downloaded the app on my phone and that seems to be working fine.

I'm going to be making soup tomorrow. Chicken noodle soup and potato soup. It's not soup weather, but I have the ingredients, and soup will stretch my food supply. I also have a lot of Mexican mac & cheese that I can thaw in batches. I have about a half dozen eggs, a full container of oatmeal, a variety of frozen vegetables, two loaves of bread and a package of English muffins. Also, a half-box of Honey Nut Cheerios, plenty of almond milk, a big bag of shredded cheese and plenty of coffee. I think I'll be okay. There is plenty of cat food on hand, too.

I did a load of laundry today, and all the equipment seems to be working, and no gas smell!

One More Day

August 8th, 2019 at 04:37 pm

I'm going to have one more day with GS2. His dad will be working at home, but will need to concentrate closely on what he is doing. GS2 is going to come over here, and we'll have one last day together.

We had a good day today. We took a 2-mile bike/walk in the morning, and in the afternoon went to Corner Bakery to get and share my free birthday treat -- a mini bundt cake. I spent nothing except today for a $9 prescription refill.

I also stopped at Wal-Mart to see if my slip short had been delivered. I got an email asking me to review it. Only problem -- I haven't got it yet! It's been delayed for at least a week -- it was supposed to be available for pickup the next day. Wonder why Wal-Mart can't compete with Amazon? The woman I talked to said it would be in tomorrow, but I don't believe she even knows. Good thing I ordered it early, since I need it for an event -- a wedding on September 7.

Update on the dryer situation -- yesterday someone posted a complaint much more strongly worded than mine after he took wet clothes out of the dryers. Management finally sent out a terse message today that the gas has been reconnected. Only nine days after it was disconnected! I can only hope they actually fixed the leak and that we won't be smelling gas again.

Is there a theme here? Why is customer service so bad? I'm so tired of it.


August 7th, 2019 at 12:14 pm

I'm feeling so much relief, knowing I can count on my August paycheck. And I'm excited that a bigger check in September is so close to becoming reality!

It's still going to be very tight right now. Somehow costs have added up so fast this month. I needed to stock up on groceries, buy some pet supplies, pay some medical bills, get a haircut -- it piled up so quickly. I've spent 92% of my variables, and still have three weeks to go before the August 28 paycheck.
When it comes, I will already have it easier, because it will be such a short pay period. The September check comes on the 18th.

I spent nothing yesterday, and I won't today, but tomorrow I have to pick up a prescription. It is only $10, however.

Tomorrow is my last day of caring for GS2 -- I think. DS is working from home on Friday, but he may send GS2 to my house if he gets too distracting.

Our plan for tomorrow is to walk/ride on the bike path that goes along the lake, if the weather continues as nice as it has. Today he is having lunch and going to the beach with a friend, so I'm getting a little break.

Then I will be free as a bird. I will dedicate myself to stretching the pantry, and living as frugally as possible!

Frustrating Day

August 6th, 2019 at 04:30 am

Yesterday I started my day early after only 5 hours of sleep. Not nearly enough! I felt off all day.

I tried to talk to SS, but I had major frustration. My first call, I tried to wait out the queue, but I finally hung up because GS2 was asking me questions and needing help with one of the remotes. Then I got online and tried the chat, which only directed me to leave a callback request. They said they would call back in fifteen minutes. I decided to walk over to DS' house with GS2, because I really need to get started on lunch. The call came while we were coming up the stairs. I took it, but it kept cutting out and finally, the call was dropped. I did learn a little bit in the few minutes we were connected. The benefit verification letter does not reflect the SS income I received as a spouse, so that's why there are all these zero's on it. I think that may mean that the zero for next month's payment is not correct.

Anyway, I'll try again today. I was too exhausted yesterday to make another attempt.

I spent $6 at Starbucks yesterday. We got to music lessons a half-hour early, so I took GS2 there. I had coffee and he had a cake slice. I was tired and not making good decisions.

I slept better last night!


Okay, my call was much easier today! And good news -- I will still get the August 24 payment. The reason I was so confused is that the website said my next payment was "$0 on ," so obviously they have some work to do on their site.

I'm so happy! I could have done it, with my savings, but I'm so glad I don't have to!

Child Care

August 5th, 2019 at 05:09 am

This is my last week of child care this summer, but will be the most strenuous in terms of hours. DIL is in New York, working at a conference, so I am dealing with DS' hours, which are roughly 6:30 to 5:30. I am at their house now. GS2 is still asleep.

It's too early to call SS, but I brought the info with me.

I have a feeling that the policy is that once the application is accepted, any previous plan is automatically stopped, but we shall see.

I'm thinking furiously of things to do to get through this with as little damage as possible. It did occur to me that I will probably inherit a fridge full of food when the rest of the family joins DIL next week. I'm cancelling eat-out day today, but I do intend to keep my date with my old friend on the 15th.

I'm thinking I won't celebrate my birthday till I get my first check, and I will see if my brother will host a weekend party at his house. Since my kids will be on vacation on my birthday, it makes more sense. And there will be more to celebrate!

I'm also thinking of a trip to Florida in October. It's going to be a whole new life!


August 4th, 2019 at 05:20 am

I logged onto the SS site yesterday and saw that my application was accepted, and I will get a paycheck that is $918 higher! That is taking into account the amount that is subtracted for Medicare B. The first payday is September 18, and my paydays will now be on the third Wednesday of the month, rather than the fourth.

The only catch is, it looks like I will not get any August payment! I will call on Monday to make sure that is correct. That will be a long time without any income (July 24-September 18), but if that's the way it is, I do have savings, and I won't be in any trouble. With careful spending, I should be able to rebound quickly.

My other news is that I did a load of laundry yesterday, and the dryers appeared to be working. Appeared is the operative word. The dryer took my money and tumbled, but when it ran its course, the laundry was still wet. No heat! I am assuming the gas was not reconnected. Since there has been no communication about this to anyone in the building community, I sent out a warning to others, and also a request for follow-up from the property management company. So far, no reply from anyone.

I hung up the laundry around the house. This morning most of it seems to be dry, or very close to it.

The weather has been mostly pleasant, and I have been able to stay cool enough with fans and open windows. I got an electric bill for $58 -- my typical bill is around $37 -- so I'm happy for any day I don't have to turn on the AC.

This will be an interesting few weeks, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

A Frugal Day

August 3rd, 2019 at 05:21 am

Yesterday was the first really frugal day I've had in a while. I didn't spend anything. I made the casserole, which I am now calling Mexican mac & cheese. It was made with bits and pieces of leftovers, and it turned out pretty good. But it made a lot! I'll eat another portion today and then I'll freeze it in individual portions. I also baked banana-blueberry bread. I ate a slice while it was warm, and froze the rest in individual slices. I cut some slices off of the rotisserie chicken and had a chicken sandwich for dinner. Today I'll cut the rest off and boil the carcass for broth.

I went to the library to pick up a book on hold. Surprise! It was an audiobook. That was my mistake; it was the one I selected. I took it anyway, I'll listen in the car. I have several book-books to read already. I did put a quarter in the parking meter, so I guess it wasn't really a no-spend day.

I did not attempt to run a load of laundry, but I did take a look at the laundry room, and it looks like the dryers have been pushed back to their original positions, so I'm trusting it's all okay. There has been no email notice that the dryers were not working, so maybe it was fixed quickly.

I'm going to the gym soon. It's been a full week. I was very sore from the last workout so I am going to take it easier today. Now that I know it is my muscles that are hurting, I'm going to be gentler on them.

Yesterday's Spending

August 2nd, 2019 at 04:41 am

Well, yesterday didn't turn out like I expected at all. It turned out we couldn't stream Groundhog Day on Netflix, even though it was supposed to start August 1. Not sure what was going on, but we couldn't find it. And I did not make the Mexican casserole, because I had a headache and didn't want to cook.

What we actually did -- we went to the library before lunch, and at lunch time went to Sam's Club and got hot dogs ($3). I spent $25 there on an OTC medication, a package of panty liners, and a rotisserie chicken. Before leaving I got gas for $27. In the afternoon GS2 and I went to the park and he rode his bike around.

DIL is not working today, so I am free to follow my own pursuits. I am planning to get some kitchen stuff done, including making that Mexican casserole, and stripping the chicken for future meals.

I hope the dryers are working, because I have a load to run. If they are still disconnected, I'll walk across the street and use the ones at DS' place. They have a basement laundry setup like mine, and I have a key. I could go to a laundromat, but they are much more expensive.

So my variables are at 90%. So crazy; the money is just melting away this month. But I do think I've bought everything I need and I can do some serious non-spending now. The only future expense this month is the upcoming lunch with my friend, and I'm doing that, no matter what.


August 1st, 2019 at 05:25 am

GS2 and I went to see the latest Spiderman movie yesterday. When he really thought about it, that was the movie he really wanted to see. His gift cards got used up, and I contributed $4 for the balance.

In the morning, I did a load of laundry and thought I smelled gas in the basement. Someone came in with a bike to park, and he smelled it, too, so I said I would report it. Having done that, I had to wait around to let the guy from the gas company in, which threw off my day as well as DIL's day. It took him an hour to arrive! But there was indeed a problem. The gas dryers were leaking. He turned them off. I don't know how long we will be without dryers, but I'm glad I don't have to do any laundry today.

After I picked up GS2, we checked out the Wienermobile. Since he couldn't go in -- just lean in through the door -- it was not too exciting for him. Then I brought him home for tuna salad sandwiches and then we went to the movie.

Today we are going to watch a Neflix movie -- Groundhog Day -- and maybe make some banana blueberry bread, if I can get him excited about that. I'm going to make a Mexican casserole for lunch -- a mix of leftovers plus pasta. Hope it turns out okay!

Almost forgot -- I ordered a slip short from Wal-Mart, which I will pick up there sometime after the 5th. $12. I will need it to wear under a dress when I go to a wedding in September.