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Archive for June, 2020

The Ceiling

June 30th, 2020 at 01:43 pm

The contractor called and quoted a price of $2,750, which is very acceptable to me. I was figuring it might cost $5K. He is going to come on Thursday, when he will inspect the ceiling and the layout, and we will talk about dates then.

Last night's baseball game was cancelled during the first inning. A storm suddenly materialized. The game was halted and postponed for 30 minutes, but then it was cancelled.

I was quite surprised at the behavior of the other team and its fans. While our group was masked and socially distanced, they were acting like there had never been a pandemic -- all clustered together and maskless. I guess they didn't get the memo.

There is another game tonight, but we are having a similar day weather-wise, so who knows if it will take place?

At least I had the chance to talk to my son and warn him about the help I will need clearing the living room when a date is decided upon. He was all for it, even suggesting he hook up the TV in my bedroom. I can't get cable in there, but I can watch Netflix and Prime Video.

Since this is the last day of June, I'll do my recap later. I don't plan to spend anything today.


June 29th, 2020 at 04:52 pm

It's Monday, so I have started a load of sheets and towels.

My friend P, who is in the process of moving into a retirement home, has been asking me to order a few things for him on Amazon. He is very tech-unsavvy. He was going out to buy things, and I told him to please let me order for him so he wouldn't endanger his health. (He is close to 80 and has several underlying conditions.) I am glad he has consented to let me help. He just sends me a check to cover the cost.

Speaking of Amazon, I received a subscribe-to-save order yesterday -- six packages of pellets for the cat littler box. I already have five on hand! When I got the notice that it was coming, I didn't look closely and I thought it was the pads, which I do need. Dang! That's $42 I didn't have to spend. Oh well, they will get used eventually, if Iggy hangs in there that long.

Then I went to order the pads, but I found that the kind I like are no longer available. I decided to hold off till next month (i.e. two days) since I'm going to have to do a little research to figure out what I do want.

This evening my grandson is playing in his first baseball game of the year! There are many rules in place to make it safe. One of them is that spectators cannot use the bleachers and must bring their own chairs and wear masks. The boys will not use the dugout, but will spread out on the sidelines, wearing masks, when they are not in the field. I'm very excited, and I hope it is not cancelled because of rain!

No word from the contractor yet.

Ride-Free Card

June 28th, 2020 at 01:22 pm

I said earlier that I needed to apply in July for my ride-free card, even though I don't think I will be riding the trains for a while. I got a letter saying that my benefit has been automatically renewed for another year, due to office closures because of the virus. So yay, I don't have to go through that process.

I didn't do much yesterday. I spent a lot of time reading, because I am reading a book on the Libby app, and I want to be sure I finish it before it disappears. I still don't really like e-books, but I'm getting used to it. In this case, I borrowed the e-book because I have the second book in the trilogy from the tiny library. I don't want to start the story in the middle.

Today will be hot, and I don't think I will do much today, either. But I did make biscuits for breakfast from an AllRecipes recipe, called "Butter Swim Biscuits." Mmmmm. They are indeed very buttery. The butter is baked in, not applied after baking. And they were very light and fluffy and easy to make.

I am going to make chipped beef in white sauce later on and serve it over a biscuit. Then I'll freeze the remainder. I'm also planning to make tuna salad today.

I haven't heard from the contractor this weekend, but I wasn't expecting to, since it is the weekend, after all. Hope I will hear from him on Monday.

Short Term Goals

June 27th, 2020 at 12:53 pm

I added something new to my short term goals (which, as it is turning out, are not very short-term). My kitchen floor tiles are cracking, and one of them actually started to flake yesterday, so it's on my list to replace the tile floor.

Sigh. Vintage homes.

I asked for three quotes yesterday from Angie's List for the ceiling repair. One is local (in my suburb) and has lots of experience working in vintage homes. He also has numerous good reviews. He asked me to send pictures yesterday, which I did. He replied that he got them and would send an estimate shortly. Of course, the estimate may be revised when he looks at the situation in person.

One of the others replied that he works only in plaster -- and I don't want to put new plaster up. I am not trying to do a historical restoration here. The other replied through an assistant that he is taking estimate appointments for the second week in July. He is in Chicago, obviously very busy. I haven't replied yet, because I have a strong feeling that #1 is the right guy.

We had very strong storms yesterday, but it looks like we escaped damage in my neighborhood. But we did have a rainbow!


June 26th, 2020 at 01:48 pm

Test results were negative for my ex's wife, so none of us were exposed to the virus. Whoopee!

Today I am going to proceed with trying to find a contractor for the ceiling. I also need to go to Walgreens to pick up a prescription, and I will buy a few grocery items, too. Any time I don't have to go into a grocery store I consider it a plus. Walgreens is never crowded, and I can buy my few groceries at the pharmacist's window, making it a one-stop visit.

Our state is heading into Phase 4 today, which means indoor dining, hair dressers, gyms, theaters and museums will be opening up. However, I am not changing my current habits. It's pretty obvious what opening up has done to other states, and I would just as soon stay well. It is not fear; it is caution. Big difference.

I AM looking forward to spending some time with BFF when the ceiling comes down. Social isolation has been the only hard part of this challenge for me. She is as cautious as I am, so we will visit from a safe distance in her large house. Both of us old ladies have vowed not to get sick!

Still in Holding Pattern

June 25th, 2020 at 03:42 pm

I have not yet heard whether my ex's wife has tested positive. She is supposed to get results today. Till I know whether I need to get a test, I'm just on hold.

I felt productive so I did some extra cleanup in the living room this morning. Swabbed the radiator, deep-vacuumed the furniture, wiped down some areas that usually get a quick dusting. This afternoon I'm going to focus on paper filing. I did finally catch up on my big backlog, but there has been just a bit pile up. I decided to make paper-filing part of my living room cleanup, so that I will get to it regularly.

I found a lamp online that I would like to order. It's $60 before shipping, so I'm going to wait till the month turns. It's not that I don't have the money; I would just like to put that expense on a fresh sheet. It's a mission-style Tiffany lamp. It's going to go where the aquarium used to be.

I finally got an answer from my property management company, but all they had to say was they didn't know what contractor other residents had used and they suggested HomeAdvisor. I'll probably go with Angie's List, as I am more familiar with that.

It's been so cool and lovely for several days. I hear it will be hotter tomorrow. I am always a little disappointed when I have to turn on the AC.

Another Kink

June 24th, 2020 at 11:46 am

I didn't try to call any contractors yesterday because something else came up. My ex's wife, who was at the Father's Day picnic, is home with a fever and she got tested for COVID-19 yesterday. She won't know until Thursday whether she has it or not. If she does, I have been exposed and I have to get tested.

Until this is resolved one way or the other, I really can't get started on the ceiling, because if I have to quarantine myself, I have to do it at home.

As long as the ceiling remains stable this isn't a problem. I eyeball it several times a day, looking for any change. If the repair does get pushed back, that gives me time to save more money. I would love to be able to pay for it in cash.

Other than that, yesterday was pretty uneventful. I did a couple of loads of laundry, and I mopped and vacuumed the dining room.

Today I'm going to make Chicken Cordon Bleu. I haven't made that for a long, long time, but yesterday I realized that I actually had all the ingredients on hand, so I'm going to go for it.

Today is another street sweeping day, so I have to move the car. I'm going to take a spin in it -- get a car wash, because it's filthy again from the storms and the tree droppings. I was planning to go to Walgreens to get a few things, but while my health status is in question, I should stay inside the car. So I think I'll just do some sight-seeing. Just seeing something outside of my own neighborhood is energizing.

Step One is Over

June 23rd, 2020 at 11:15 am

Yesterday a nice young man came in response to my Freecycle ad and took the old tank and all the accessories away. It feels so good to have that whole episode done.

No movement forward on the ceiling repair. I put in an online question to the property management company, asking for help in securing a contractor. There has been no response, other than a stock answer that they have received my message. If there is nothing today, I'll proceed on my own. But I would like their input, because I know others in the building have gone through the same thing.

I posed a plan to BFF that when the time comes, I come to visit her for a few days, while they take down the old plaster. She was okay with it. What to do with Iggy though? He can't stay while the work is being done. BFF has an elderly cat that won't get along with him. DS has a cat that bullies him. I hate to board him. Since he was a shelter cat, I'm afraid he will think he has been abandoned again, and with his age and the state of his health, it might be traumatic.

But since I am nowhere near getting the work done, I won't worry about that yet.

I did two loads of laundry yesterday (and I will today) and two utility bills were withdrawn from my bank account. Variables are at 75% with just a week to go.

Father's Day

June 22nd, 2020 at 12:20 am

We had a nice day in the park for Father's Day, enjoying perfect weather. Since we have been cleared for gatherings under 10, we sat together at a picnic table -- seven of us -- and then set up chairs in the shade after eating to sit and talk. Lunch was fried chicken and sides from a local restaurant. Once again, several hours went by very quickly.

My ex surprised me by giving me $100. I've mentioned before that after our divorce (which he initiated) our financial situations went in opposite directions. His star rose and mine fell. He wasn't very nice about it at the time, and seemed intent on getting the lion's share, and making my life as hard and miserable as possible. But a lot of time has gone by, and for the sake of the kids we have made peace. In the last few years he has taken to giving me money at odd times. I think he is finally feeling a weight on his conscience, though why he never did before is a mystery to me. Whenever he gives me money, I take it, because my losses from his actions have been incalculable. It will be helpful to have this extra bit of cash when I get started on the ceiling repair.

Which I plan to do tomorrow! I'm going to call our property management company to see if they have recommendations for someone to do the work. I'm also going to call my insurance agent to see if they will cover any of the cost. I'm guessing not, since it is an age issue -- the old plaster is just giving out after 100 years up there. But it doesn't hurt to ask.

I'm also going to offer the old fish tank on Freecycle, and hope that someone will take it off my hands. (And down the stairs!)

No spending today. The lunch was paid for by my son's family -- and I even brought home a few pieces for tomorrow!

Moving the Fish, Still

June 20th, 2020 at 07:24 pm

Well, it's been quite a time with the new aquarium and the old. I transferred the fish yesterday evening. That was not easy! They are very quick and hard to catch! I'm sure it was more traumatic than it had to be because I had to try so many times. But I got it done. Last night they just huddled together in shock, but today they are very frisky.

No sooner did I get them moved, than Iggy jumped on TOP of the new aquarium to check it out! Scared me to death -- it is covered, but it is not a very sturdy cover and that could have been a disaster. So I experimented with a few different knick-knacks to discourage Iggy's path to the top. Here is a picture of what I ended up with:

This morning I got to work on emptying and cleaning the old aquarium. It was very tedious -- lots of baling, then siphoning, then more baling. I had to scoop out the gravel, which I boiled in a pan on the stovetop to get rid of the black algae. I'm not reusing it, but someone else might. I'm going to offer the aquarium and its parts on Freecycle once I get done with the cleaning.

All of the accessories -- the filter, the light, and the heater -- work, and they cleaned up pretty well. I was thinking I would just throw them away, but now I can see they have a lot of life in them yet.

What I haven't done yet -- I haven't cleaned out the actual tank, although the water is all gone. The tank is still very heavy, even without water, and I may have to have my son come over and move it to a place where it's easier to clean. I sure don't want to drop it.

I really hope someone wants it on Freecycle, because then they can be the ones to take it down the stairs. It's a good tank, with all the parts, and I'm throwing in extra filter pads and an extra bulb. And the gravel if they want it!

I did throw away the ornaments -- they were not worth cleaning up.

Before the fish ordeal, I went to Walgreens yesterday to pick up a $20 prescription. I also bought two Father's Day cards ($4 each) and a packet of hair bands for $5. My hair is long enough to pull back in a ponytail! Well, just barely, but now that I have the bands I'll be ready.

I also participated in a peak savings day. Between 1 and 5 I turned off all the electricity, and I will get a credit on my next bill. It was a little warm without the AC, but not too bad.

Set Up!

June 19th, 2020 at 12:08 pm

The outlet extender came yesterday, a day earlier than projected. I have the aquarium all set up. Now I'm just waiting for the 24-hour period to play out before I add the fish. Hope that will happen without trauma.

I ordered a set of washcloths, a picture frame, and barber scissors from Amazon yesterday. $60!

I remember once talking with my SIL about bargain hunting and trying to save money, and she said, "Sometimes I wonder if it isn't better to just get what you need and not worry about it." That's kind of how I'm living now, after a lifetime of deal-seeking. I'm just getting what I need, mostly ordering online, and buying groceries wherever I can do it with the least contact. I'm not seeing a big difference in overall spending. Groceries are more costly, but I am apparently compensating in other ways.

I wonder if this will keep up after the pandemic is over, or if I will go back to my old ways.

Variables are at 71% with a week and four days to go.

Another Snag

June 18th, 2020 at 03:09 pm

I went back to PetSmart yesterday and exchanged the cracked tank for a new one, checking it first before leaving the store. Since I was there, I also bought a bag of Iggy's kidney care dry food, which was a whopping $63. I was trying to save a trip, but it turns out I will have to go back some time and return one bag of gravel -- I bought too much. It's only $6, but next time I get out that way, I will get my money back.

I still haven't completed setting up the new aquarium, because I need three electrical receptacles for the filter, light and heater, and the nearby outlet has only two. I ordered an extender, but it won't come until tomorrow.

It is very warm already. I've turned on the air, trying to keep ahead of the heat wave.

I forgot to ask: does anyone here have experience with RCN as a cable/internet provider? I am very tempted to switch. It would be more than $60 less per month than I am paying Comcast.

PetSmart Trip

June 17th, 2020 at 01:53 pm

I went to PetSmart yesterday and bought a small aquarium, plus gravel, accessories and a heater for $92. Ouch! Then when I got home and started the process of setting it up, I found that there was a small crack in the tank. So now I have to take it back. The aquarium came in a sealed box. This time I will make them open the box and check for cracks.

PetSmart is right next to Aldi, so I ran in quickly and got a few items for $16.

Today is pay day, and I have paid my bills; no surprises or angst there.

Variables are at 55%; just about right.

Errands and Plans

June 16th, 2020 at 12:14 pm

Yesterday morning I made my online order to Panera. It took several tries, because I was trying to get it to accept a promo code for a $5 discount for a curbside order over $20. For some reason, that was a hurdle. But I finally did it, charging it to my gift card and all was well. Then while I was on the way there, I got a call that they were out of white bread. Three loaves of white bread were the main part of my order! I was almost there, so I just continued on and then called them back once I was in the lot.

They substituted two loaves of Country Rustic and one French baguette, so I think I ended up getting a bit of a deal, financially. I looked up the ingredients, and Country Rustic contains some whole wheat flour -- though it doesn't look like it's a lot -- so it is not as good for my kidney diet as plain white bread. But it is not really whole wheat bread, which is hard for the kidneys to process. It's more like white bread with a touch of whole wheat flour, so I think it should be fine.

I also got a half-dozen bagels and some cream cheese. I used $17 of my gift card, after taxes.

I chose a Panera that was right next to a Goodwill, because I had two bags to donate in my trunk. But I was too early. Their drive-up donation area was closed off, and wouldn't open for about a half hour. I didn't want to wait around, so I headed to the one in my own suburb, and with all the construction traffic, it took me about a half hour to get there. But they weren't open either. However, there were large bins set out with signs saying "Clothing," "Not Clothing." And they were full of stuff. So I sorted my stuff out and left it, but it felt kind of wrong. I would rather hand it off to a person.

The rest of the day was uneventful. I started cleaning the dining room but only got as far as the dusting. I washed Iggy's quilt and the towels.

In the afternoon, I started looking around online for a new smaller, lighter fish tank. I've touched on this before, but this is the back story. I have to replace my plaster ceiling in the living room, because it is starting to buckle. I don't want it coming down on me. But I will have to be able to move everything out so the workmen can do their work, and the fish tank is the biggest problem. My plan is to set up a new smaller tank in the dining room, move the fish, and then get rid of the big tank after I've emptied it.

I'm going to throw away everything in the old tank and start new with gravel and a few artificial plants, because the current black algae outbreak is just too hard to deal with, and I want it all gone. It's all very old, anyway.

So I looked online and found a good tank at PetSmart, but I really need to eyeball it, so my plan is to head there today to look it over. I will have to wear a mask and be mindful of social distancing, but I think it shouldn't be too risky if I am careful.

After I get the fish rehomed I will start looking for someone to do the work. I figure it will cost at least $5K. The plaster has to come down, and new drywall installed, and it is my biggest room. It will be very messy, so I'll probably have to decamp with Iggy. Not sure yet where I will go, as everyone I know is quarantined.

So that's the news for today!