Saturday, December 31, 2011

On the Eve of a New Year

For the last many years I have spent a month or more speculating, planning, forecasting for the coming year.  I didn't this year.  The year came up on me with no plans, no goals, nothing of note other than every day to just do the best I can, because, I suppose, like sheets of paper it all stacks up.  I don't feel bad about not planning.  It's actually a relief that I don't feel bad about it.  I took the week off of work this week.  I spot cleaned the carpets, washed windows and washed kitchen counter tops all the way to the corners, stocked the pantry shelves, washed sheets, swept patios and generally gave my home a serious house blessing to bring in the new year.  It will come in fresh.  For myself, I had my teeth polished by the dentist, got a facial, manicure and a pedicure (not by the dentist) I suppose I will come in fresh too.  I have no plans, no goals to share.  My only plan is to do the best I can each and every day.  And if a ream of paper is 500 sheets, this ream of days coming will be 365.  I wonder how tall that stacks?

Two and a half weeks ago I bought a hundred dollar car.  At the time I texted the seller and his buddy and asked, "Does it leak oil, or does it burn oil?"  I did not get a response at the time.  I now find that it leaks oil.    Like a sieve.  I filled the tank with gas; topped it off.  I have put two quarts of oil in the car since then and still have a half a tank of gas.  It's a lovely car. I thoroughly appreciate not walking in the cold, or the rain, or the dark (and especially all three) to get to the bus stop.  A car is a delight.  I'll be picking up a case of oil here soon enough to keep this beautiful heated, covered, wheel turning hunk of steel moving.  I love the car.  It even has a trunk for groceries.

I wonder what it means to "be the best I can" each and every day.  I suppose for me it means to be present.  It means to be compassionate and to be strong of intention for all things to go as well as possible for all concerned.  I hope it means to go to bed each night knowing that for me, I did what I could; and that is all that is necessary.

I am concerned about some people in my life.  I need to let them live their own life, their own way...but oh I so want to intervene, to kick start and do some new year's cleaning there too.   I know there are those around me that would like to kick start me.  I thank them for letting me live this crazy mess all as my own.  Thank you.  But hey, it doesn't stop me from being Mom or friend.

To tell the truth, (shhh, don't let on that you know)  I'm a little scared of this year.  I put myself in a spot that I have wanted to be in, and now I'm feeling the roller-coaster effect with the car climbing that initial lift hill to the first peak.  Truly the view is splendid, even if I can see the dips and loops that will be ahead.  I don't want to grip the handlebar too tight for that first plummet down on this ride.  I want to relax and enjoy the thrill.  It's a great time to be alive.  There's no telling how long this ride will be.  Maybe that's the scary part.

I wish you all, most sincerely, the best of everything.  May this year be fulfilling, may there always be enough (and more).

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Artist that ain't

At least I tried.And it was kinda fun. I tinkered at it all day. It became a "fussy" project. The next one is going to be all Charles Shaw corks. That would make this project soooo much easier.
Tomorrow I'll "fix" all the things I don't like.

Product Photos & self loathing

This is what I am trying to accomplish:
This is where it sits after 3 hours:
It is so hard to compete with the media. Thank goodness nothing is glued down yet.

Update to come.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Silent Grandma is wise.

There was a buddha named Buddha Never Disparaging. His story is one about not disparaging others. His story is one about taking the high road at all times. I am not the Buddha Never Disparaging. My life is simutanenously filled with the Ten Worlds. In a single moment I feel all of life; the hell, hunger, animality, anger, humanity, heaven, learning, realization, bodhisattva and Buddha. It's not a bad thing that in a fit of anger I am still aware that my own buddhahood exists. In a fit of realization I am still aware of my own hunger (for things like money or the creature comforts it allows). At every moment all things are there if I merely open my thought waves to it.

But Buddha Never Disparaging is one of those buddhas that walked on this earth and didn't say anything rotten about anyone. He is the quintessential Buddha most people consider buddhist. He is the eastern answer to "turn the other cheek". If he's it, I'm not a buddhist.

I know my grandmother, the quiet one, was really a buddhist and was able to practise the axiom, If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Someone, stop me before I speak again.


Primed, and a second coat of primer over the shower, and a good coat of latex to finish it. I was done painting the bathroom by 11:55 pm last night.

Tip for painting - turn off the thermostat and let the house cool down when painting. Fresh air would have been nice...but it's too cold out for that.

NFL wont let my game be televised today? What kind of off the field ruling is that?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ego voicing it's tantrum

I'm concerned at the resistance I get from life. I'm concerned that it takes so much time and effort to make things happen. I'm concerned that when my plans don't go according to plan my feelings get hurt. My pride is bruised. My ego has a tantrum.

Acceptance is hard too. To sit back and not worry about when things will happen, or if they will happen is difficult too. Acceptance seems to take more stamina than my efforts to make things happen. Patience is not a virtue, it's a marathon without a finish line.

It is difficult to me understanding why life would put up such resistance to ideas and projects that are inherently good. To accept that it is not up to me is tantamount to defeat.

I get the surrender part. I get it. But, life didn't like my ideas? That hurts a little bit.

Bathroom Saga (rated G - but with violent thoughts)

Maybe I should name this post differently. "Bathroom Saga" contains so many preconceived notions: farting is always fun, steamy mirrors with finger drawings of smiley faces, or maybe squeaky music and kitchen daggers through the shower curtain. It's not going to be any of those. This is my whiny post about how I had plans and life just doesn't work very well with my plans. I thought I had really good plans, something life would want to go along with. But no. I just wanted to paint my bathroom. I wanted to paint it on my four day weekend (that wasn't). I've been fighting mold on the bathroom walls for a year now and I'm just getting tired of it. I notice that each time I go after the mold with vinegar, baking soda and a nylon scrubby pad more paint comes off. It's a homemade remedy that takes off everything actually. Rather effective at removing. Not so effective at preventing.

The upshot is, I want to paint the bathroom. This long holiday weekend would be perfect. I would have a four day weekend, or so I thought. I called upstairs to the manager of this four-plex last Saturday and asked about bathroom paint and said I'd paint it if he'd come up with the goods - Kilz, painters tape, paint and stuff. He was pretty excited that he has all this stuff and rollers and paint brushes too he said. But ya know, he adds, the paint is going to have to warm up (it's was pretty darn cold last weekend, hanging around freezing for several days). I assured him we can set the cans of paint in my hallway this week cause I want to paint on Friday after Thanksgiving and there's plenty of time for paint to warm up. (Is anybody catching the part of this post that says right now it is Saturday...almost noon...) I didn't hear from this guy upstairs all week. I texted on Wednesday night to ask if there's anything happening with the was a very nice text I thought- lots of honey in it. No reply. I left another text Friday night - some honey, but some vinegar. No reply. So this morning when half my day is gone - I no longer have four day weekend but a measly day and a half like any other weekend, I call up there (I'm done texting) and he has the gall to say, "Let me get up first and I'll unlock the closet to see what I got." (10:30 this morning - we don't share the same time references; by entire weeks, never mind by hours). It's finally almost noon. I have bathroom paint and Kilz and rollers and brushes and tape in my hallway. I now get to wait some more while it warms up.

I feel that I'm supposed to be thankful that all this is offered. I'm concerned that I'm supposed to be thankful I even have a bathroom that should be painted. But instead I am spitfire mad that the lazy jerk upstairs can't even open the supply closet a week ago, when it was a weekend - I'm not asking for anything special. I have some truly terrible thoughts about what I think of him and his paint and the attitude (I orignally wrote exactly what I think, but ya know...he's just a stupid guy getting a really good break on his rent by being the go-to guy for the 4-plex - I hope he's really good at his regular job because he sucks at this job - oops there I'm starting up again, stop now young lady.)

Ya' know, if someone offers to do your job, I'm just of the belief that it'd be really smart to hand them the tools to do it while the iron is hot. Right now...I'm really hot...and it aint' good.
Watching paint warm up
Is kind of like watching grass grow
Without any movement.

Is that a hiaku?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Amid all the Thanksgiving greetings I received by text yesterday Thing One sent a disheartening text, "I just got pulled over." She was on her way home from catterwalling all night at a friends to pick me up so we could head out together for massive food consumption and football watching at a friends. My brain considered all the options. The truck is registered and insured. She stayed at her friend's last night so as not to drive after drinking - so she must be sober. Maybe the cop pulled her over because she's cute. I dunno. I gave it awhile. Eventually, I texted back..."Everything ok?" Response, "yep, on my way now."

I was using the facilities when she got home. The shouting through the door, "Whatcha get pulled over for?"

"I'll wait for you to come out. You need to read this."


They use pink no-carbon paper for citations in this city. The infraction...driving on the sidewalk. Whut?!

It seems Thing One was having a hard time deciding which gas station to use when she pulled out of the driveway of her buddy's house. Finally deciding the filling station behind her was closer she attempted to do a u-turn. But the wheel base was too wide to complete the turn without either making it a y-turn or using the sidewalk. She chose the sidewalk just in time to see the cop car at the curb just ahead of her.

It also seems the officer spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to write a ticket for. He chose, according to him, the lowest offense as he didn't want to mess up her good driving record on Thanksgiving. It's still a $50 fine. We are giving thanks and would like to remind everyone that if you don't like the way she drives, stay off the sidewalk.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sleeping on It

Sleeping on it can help a situation. Actually, I don't know that any situation is configured like a bed, or a couch, or a wide stretch of upturned nails. So, sleeping on it - the proverbial "it"- is still undefined. I went to bed last night, read several more pages of the book I am to present this morning and eventually slept. So, for all purposes I slept on a bed. But I woke up this morning with an answer to a situation that presented itself yesterday. (Yes, I finished the reading and I've already outlined my presentation - get off my case. (Someone is "on" my case? Are they standing or sitting on my case? Is my case a briefcase? Is it leather or canvas? Is it more of a messenger bag? Is this ADD?)

The situation that arose yesterday is that I do not have enough flowered red fabric to complete the quilt (see yesterday's photo). I bought the fabric at least five years ago. The chances of finding it again are getting slimmer by the day, even if it is a staple fabric style of the times . I prefer not to spend my money on more fabric. I'm going out of town later this week and I'd like to spread my money around these couple of states - boost the economy if you will. I've opened boxes to see what kind of fabics I have stashed away. From that exercise I learned I don't have any "stash" (as the quilting community calls it). I decided the quilt will not get finished any time soon and off I went to read my book for today and fall asleep.

First thoughts of the morning can be grand. First thoughts. I love first thoughts. They are insightful, even if it is not altogether pleasant. Like the time several years ago I heard my boss call to me in the most aggravated tone I could imagine. In any case...first thought this morning is that I have plenty, and I mean plenty, of blue jean fabric to cut more circles and the red flowered fabric can be used as the center or the edges as highlight and "pop" rather than throughout the quilt.

In other words, I may still finish this quilt this soon as I get back from this book presentation. (I do like my the very least, it is interesting to me.)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Quilt in a Weekend - Part Deux

Yep, another quilt in a weekend. This one must be finished by Friday night as I am flying out on Saturday morning to Wisconsin to present this to another daughter I picked up on this walk through life. Actually it is for her six month old daughter. A grandchild of sorts that I have never met. It's a baby blanket that I hope she wears out through her youth.I have been informed that there is to be no pink included in any of this young girl's accessories.
But red is the color of happiness and fortune through life. I hope to post a finished baby blanket by Monday.

Of course, I can't do anything without having another side project going on as well. Tomorrow is book club and as facilitator I have three chapters to read and prepare a presentation for. I must like deadlines and stress. I certainly work under enough of them.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Challenges are just that

Challenges are just that...a challenge. I didn't make it to finishing the quilt in 30 days. Today again I am putting together the pieces that I can. It was a rocky start this morning as I was not looking forward to re-sewing pieces I had already done. But, once I got started...hey, it was nice to be working at this project again.It helped that football is on television. I can zone out or not to the sound of the commentators. I did quit sewing altogether during the final two minutes (truly the best part of any close game) and sat in front of the television; close enough that if my mother had been here she would have told me to back up, I'll hurt my eyes.

Maybe the photo above is unremarkable. But to me it is sewn sections. I still find it disappointing that after all this sewing the finished product will be so small. And I scared Kate today by telling her this project belongs on a wall, not on her bed. Her whole face fell and it reminded me that once I give this to her it is hers. It is a gift. If she puts it on her bed...well, the quilt is hers, go ahead. Knock yourself out, baby. Love you.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Making headway

The pattern for this project has been hanging by straight pins on my wall for three years now. It falls apart and I pin in back up. I'm looking forward to taking it down.But today I took those blocks that I've been sewing together and I laid them out on the living room floor. I pushed the sofa out of the way. Which means I have to put the room to rights before I can go to bed tonight. I'd be afraid I'd leave these sewn pieces on the floor for another three years.
It is rather bothersome to me...that the finished product is so small. For all this work I guess I was hoping I had planned for a king size and not a large twin size quilt.
There's a couple blocks to resew. That's bothersome too.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Challenge Day 17ish

I don't know how long I've been in this quilting challenge. This week it got put on the back burner while I vamped up my front "yard". It's a small space with tanbark. But, add a couple chairs and a lot of potted plants, whalah! (I don't know how to spell in french...but sound it out.)I did get back to the sewing portion of my challenge once I came back inside from enjoying the calming effect of my new garden. I ran out of paper pieces and spent some time drawing out the rest of the necessary blocks on paper so I could finish the blocks.

I sewed two more blocks and have now run out of black fabric. I am waiting this morning for the fabric store to open (fingers drumming on the desk while I watch the second hand tick around the clock face). Someone remind me to pick up a fresh rotary cutting wheel and some fresh needles too while I'm at the store.

Five block to go, then I can start putting this quilt top together.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Challenge within a Challenge

I thought that finishing a quilt in 30 days, even a partially completed one, was a pretty big challenge. I was feeling pretty full of myself that I would take on this great feat, and publicly no less. But no, my friend throws in the mix, in the middle of the mix, a quilt in an afternoon challenge. And I still call her a friend.
Discussing Binding Tape
(very cool invention for quilter's doing crazy challenges)

I was sewing like the devil. My needle was flying. (cue music "Devil Went Down to Georgia" ) The lights were intense over the work stations. I was sewing, sewing. sewing.

(cut music: lights up.
Scene: family spaghetti dinner - discussion: American Political History
Cue elevator Musak - several bars of Girl from Ipanema)

(cut lights: back to sewing stations.
cue music: Devil Went Down to Georgia.)

Oh, it was grueling. But, I was up to the challenge. Filling bobbins, cleaning bobbin casings, letting the thread fly again through the needle. Oh the intensity of it all...

In the end, the devil won. I didn't do it. I wasn't able to construct a quilt in an afternoon. For that matter, I got up there at 1:30 p.m. or so and didn't leave until 10 p.m.-ish. I did get all the way to the binding, that got sewn on but needs adjusting (I kinda screwed up...). There's maybe 45 minutes of work left on the quilt. It's an hour drive home out of the mountains and lord knows the devil takes 'em when they's tired.

My machine is back on the table at home here, but still in the case. I don't want to open the case on an overheated sewing machine. Best to let it cool a bit...

Monday, August 22, 2011

7 Days Into this Challenge

I'm seven days into this challenge to finish Katie's quilt and I am already feeling the stretch. I have finished the blocks of gradient color. The rest of the blocks are all black. It should be a breeze, but there are 11 of them. That translates into 5 hours of sewing. I can only hope that because they are all black I can whip through these without thinking. Can I get this part done by Thursday night? I only have enough energy to go at this a couple hours a night on week nights.

If I could have this done by Thursday, these last few black only blocks, I would be able to lay out the combinations (on the floor for a visual) to find the blocks that I sewed in reverse last year and get them redone. I could be, quite possibly could be, piecing the quilt top together by this Saturday. Thursday is the first goal...I'm shooting to have all sixty blocks finished (round one) by Thursday.

Go Team!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Getting Serious, or not

I starting taking apart the machine this morning. The sewing machine is skipping stitches again. I was going to have a sewing machine shipped out to me but it seems there is no Greyhound bus station in the little Wisconsin burg to drop the shipment off at. (Is that a dangling participle? Something is dangling...oops, back on track...) I did take a look at the machinery and all looks well. I will need another machine for the actual quilting, the stuff that shows (I'm not a handstitch quilter). I have one more person to go to nearby to borrow from. I'm waiting until I get to that point of quilting before I borrow. This machine will get all the piecing done, the top of the quilt and the back of the quilt can all be done with this machine. I put it all back together this morning and got one more block put together. Every bit helps.

Yesterday I pulled together several block AND watched the football game. No need to deny myself the best of entertainment, especially with friends. I've had a good week in general. I guess I just feel better when I have a project, an active interest. It seems when I'm not working on this quilt my mind falls into rollercoaster mode. I find myself laughing out loud at the innuendo my brain comes up with. I might be crazy, but at least I find myself entertaining.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Help is on the Way

I was talking with one of my bus buddies this week about The Big Challenge to finish the quilt in 30 days and that I was rolling through thread as fast as it unwinds (which is the truth). Today as she slid into the seat next to me she handed me a bag of six partially used spools of thread. According to my bus buddy the spools of thread have been sitting around taking up space at her house and every time she needs thread she ends up buying a new one anyway.

Which all just goes to show (again) that no matter what the project, the need, the want, the ideal - when one puts one's mind to something, puts one's mind to task, help arrives. Help you didn't even think to ask for arrives. Set your mind on the final, wonderful outcome and the path becomes paved just before you. (And if the path feels cluttered and full of issues, then you know there's things to deal with before the end result can be fully enjoyed. Eh.)

I'll be sewing this weekend.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Road Block or Marathon

This morning I was called a "Hussy". That got me laughing straight out of the gate. It seems my bus buddy saw me waving unabashedly, she says, to her bus driver yesterday. Well yeah, he's my favorite bus driver (even if they all are my favorite bus driver). That bus driver waited while I ran for the bus last summer, repeatedly. That bus driver let me know what the Metro Fitness Program really was. When the drivers change routes as they are required to at regular intervals, he was off to another bus. I make sure I am on time for this new driver. He doesn't smile the same, but he does wave to me when I get off the bus downtown. He's my new favorite, but in a different way. I guess I'm depends on who's driving.

For the quilting 30 Day Challenge, I didn't sew anything last night. But I did get the last of the black strips cut to size. I have black flannel to cut and add in as well. Sparingly, as accent, not seen but tactile. Last night was prep work for tomorrow.

Thing One has invited me to a Mad Men Marathon night tonight. We just bought Season 4 of Mad Men and we want to get caught up before Season 5 starts back up on television. I don't think she plans on my sewing. I'd rather spend the time with her than slaving over anything. Thing One knows of my 30 Day Challenge. She better not throw any more roadblocks up for me...even if this hardly counts as a road block.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 3 of the Great Quilting Challenge

I wonder that today's photo looks like yesterday's photo. It's different.

There's another finished quilt block on the stack.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Got me in Stitches *Edited*

**EDIT** The photo is of the stack of completed quilt blocks for Katie's Quilt Project.

I guess I didn't know I was as far along as I am. Of the sixty blocks necessary for this quilt I only have ten more to complete before I can start combining them. I know last summer when I laid the blocks out on my living room floor that three of them were "twisting" in the opposite direction as the others. Those three will have to be resewn. I just don't know which three they were.

Yesterday I wound the last of the black thread onto the bobbin (the pick-up thread). The last block of the evening is sewn in brown and black. Nice way to use up brown thread I've had around for ages. A spool of thread goes for around $4 these days. It's gonna take at least three more to finish this project. I know...big money.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Before Photos

The challenge begins today. I promised myself I would start on August 15, and that within 30 days I would have Katie's Quilt finished. Yesterday I took the table cloth off the dining table. I cleared the area of the other half-baked projects, old mail, expired coupons, and last weeks wilting flowers. Last night I replaced two lightbulbs in the ceiling fixture. (we go through a lot of lightbulbs around here). This morning I opened the banker's box that holds all of The Project that is Katie's Quilt and laid out the parts and pieces. I think...we are ready for a thirty day push to the finish line. In real-time I should be posting finished quilt photos on September 13.

Finished (adjective); completed or perfected in all details. Quilted, bound and delivered.

A quick recap here - I started this quilt the spring Katie (otherwise known as Thing One) graduated high school. I take that back, I start this quilt that previous fall making the pattern. Kate chose a quilt that did not include a pattern with the photo in the book.

Let's see that was...2007(?). The quilt was supposed to be done and presented to her upon her high school graduation in 2008. She upheld her end and graduated. Me, well, I must be on the short bus. I'm a little slow.

The pattern is rather involved, maybe even confusing at times. As my defense to keep things straight I constructed the quilt in miniature using paper. I came up with this paper model to keep me on track. The style of quilt block is a Twisted Log Cabin. Kate chose the Equilateral Triangle. Under the kitchen counter, here, is the pattern (you see it as it is today, after several years of referring to it.)

I think we should consider these the "Before" photos. Even if they are really the "Mid-Way" photos. When I'm done posting here on the computer I will be sewing. As I type this right now, I have a marked feeling of procrastination.

I expect to be posting updates daily. There's only 29 to go.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I still have a lot

My apartment is looking a little more like the atelier that I meant it to be. The sewing machine is out. AND running again. I'm so clever. I fixed it myself. Okay...I cleaned it myself. It runs fine. At least it is this evening. I'm hoping this weekend to sleep in the sun during the day and stay up all night sewing Katie's quilt. I am challenging myself to have her quilt completed, really totally completed by September 15. Boxes of sewing material, supplies, and projects have been moved back into the main room of my apartment. I think I would like an open face cupboard to put all these goodies into...something that allows me to see what I have rather than dig for what I have. For all I gave away before I moved, I still have a lot.

I came across an interesting post in one of my regular blog feeds. The author asked what would each of his readers do if they found themselves in a position that they needed to make $300 to $500 in a month. There must be over 200 comments to his question. You can read for yourself. Oh, and this guy is interesting. World Domination is possible, acceptable and profitable. Anyway the post is here...

The whole idea got me thinking. And just as I'm reading his commentors' comments I found myself making notes, and then making them mine. I have an entire page of things I am willing to do, and excited that these ideas would bring in some extra cash. Yes, everything has an element of risk. And an element of success. Yes, there's the sell my extra stuff idea, and the consignment store stuff. And yeah, I remember looking at craigslist "gigs" section before I got my job and finding a few options for day jobs that were damned interesting and worth $50 to boot. Of the seventeen ideas I came up with, if I give one idea at a time a whole week to work on, I'm bound to find something that will help me stay solidly funded and be something I enjoy doing as well.

In the meantime, work is good. I get a couple hours of overtime per pay period. My push to get my finances in shape has paid off as I'm living within my means enough to start paying back the family loan I felt the need to take out a couple months ago. On a side note: Damn, it takes a long time for checks to go through the bank - I can say that with some recent knowledge as I was living without a debit card for two weeks...that was interesting. Found the missing one just as the replacement showed up in the mail. Typical.

Life is good. I have what I want. I want what I have. And the extra, well I'm not attached to it. Hmmm.

I would like it better if..

I would like it better if really tall men would keep their nose hair trimmed.

Just saying that if I have to look up at you to get your attention so you don't step on me, the little pip squeak that I am, it'd be nice if I were greeted without the tufts of hair fanning out your nose as if a feather duster is resting in there. Quite the surprise for me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Maybe just a list today

I've started a couple entries now and somehow nothing is of any particular interest; to me at any rate.

An overview of all I've written and deleted would read:

*Quit smoking, again. Thank you goes to a good friend that blew through town in July. Face and complexion are clearing. Smile is genuine.
*Mom's surgery went well. She is wondering why I get so worked up. I'm wondering why parents don't behave.
*Work is going well. I truly have no complaints. None. I think I should have complaints. That is my only complaint.
*Financially I'm still on track. (I am surprised to be spending so much on food & groceries. I mean, like, twice what I think I "should" spend on keeping myself fed. Will work to bring that down.) Still, I spent less than I made and I sent that off to pay down my loan from May. It is now a source of pride to be taking care of that.
*Football season is back on.
*Life is good.

* Oh and - I really like Gore Vidal's Lincoln. Chatty, opinionated characters, gossipy. It's a delightful read (so far). Did it have to be such a fat book? It lifts like a doorstop.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

First Edition

For all the reading I do I've not read Gore Vidal. Maybe because they always look like doorstop bricks rather than books. I've traded books with a bus top buddy. He handed me a first edition Gore Vidal, Lincoln to borrow. He did say that Vidal gets "gossipy". Yep. It's chatty and gossipy and informative and entertaining. I'm thoroughly enjoying this. (I can't believe it, the calliope just started playing. I haven't heard the neighborhood calliope in over a year. It's playing, Do Your Ears Hang Low. Amazing)

The hardest part about the book is that it is a first edition. I didn't borrow him a first edition, did I? Maybe I did. But it was a free book. In any case, I don't want to carry this book on the bus. I don't want to eat while I read. I don't want to take it to the beach with me. I feel that I must sit quietly in a proper chair bent over this proper book till my neck hurts. It's a good book, it takes me a while to realize my neck hurts.

I wasn't in the mood to read when I started this book. I wasn't in the mood for really anything. I'm still not. I get my clothes ready for work, I go to work, come home, do nothing to speak of and go back to work the next day. It's not a bad life. I've let most everything slip by the wayside. I play guitar still; nothing recognizable. The fairytale blog is in hiatus, nothing recognizable there either. My instinct is to do nothing. I'm getting good at it.

I should go wash my hands so I can get back to reading...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

No problems

Funny, I have no problems to speak of. This makes it difficult to speak at all, really. Even changing my frustrations into fairytales has peetered out. I'm not all that frustrated.

Moments of note: I have found that my fingernails grow rather quickly. I have to clip my nails every other day or so to play my guitar. My fingers are finally getting strong enough to hold the strings firm against the frets, but I still haven't played any tune I used to play all the way through. It's just not holding my attention.

Moments of note: I have found that I do make enough money to pay everyone back. And put away a couple bucks a month to save my own hide later. I really like that free sofware program from Intuit, Two months after I started using it the information is priceless. I may not be stellar at money management, but at least I can find averages and high months versus low months and all that helps me figure how to be better at managing things through next payday. Every payday gets easier.

Moments of note: Boy, I like my job! This is keeping me busy. I didn't know it was time to go home today. My boss stopped in to say goodnight and told me to wrap it up. I know what I'm doing is helping someone that needs it. These someone's are wonderful good at saying thank you. I get thanked for doing my job. Amazing stuff.

I have no complaints. I have no frustrations. Nothing. Wow. I hope I remember days like these later. I hope I remember how boring it is. And hey, hallelujah for boring...for this evening.

So, are we gonna get Football this August, or what?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Another 30 Days

I enjoy a TED Talks most nights before I set my head to pillow. Last night I indulged. I watched three TED Talks. (Quite sinful, I'm sure) That last one before I turned off the iPad was Matt Cutts' Try Something New for 30 Days. While I realize this is not an original idea, most new habits are formed in that amount of time, it certainly got me to thinking. I don't have to do anything for a life time. I'm allowed to do anything on a whim if I want. The whim today is to play my guitar for 30 days in a row. And while I've played guitar since I was fourteen I haven't played it regularly since the second child was born. She's 21.

Am I capturing my youth? I don't think so. I think it might have to do with entertaining myself in my later years.

While I'm spending 30 days becoming a virtuoso on guitar I would like to consider what to take on for the next 30 days. A REALLY good thing to do in that next 30 days is the push to finish Katie's quilt. It's a piece of art for god's sake. If she puts it on her bed I'll shoot her. It belongs on a wall. It seems while I'm typing here this morning I'm actually making plans. As I see it today, I've got 30 days to fix my sewing machine or purchase a new one.

PS: Jonathan Drori's Beautiful Tricks of Flowers was wonderfully naughty. I recommend that talk. Exquisite photos. Makes me wonder why I didn't become a botanist (although that professor was so tired of teaching he couldn't spark a tinder forest in a heat wave).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Mental health

What a lovely morning. I'm sitting on the deck with my coffee and my thoughts. Today is a mental health day. There is always two reasons anyone does anything. My two reasons are that Thing Two is moving to San Diego on Sunday and today is major packing day (my aim is to be available while staying out of the way) and the other is that a friend, J, is arriving today to visit for a bit and on a normal work day I don't get home until 6:30 at night (what a waste of a good day with a friend in town).

Grocery stores just opened up about half an hour ago. I'll finish my coffee and get moving...eventually.

My new favorite bit of trivia...Eunoia ( spell checker doesn't even know that word, now that certainly implies something) means mental health, beautiful mind. Today is hereby deemed Eunoia Day.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A "Normal" House

OMG. Walking through the house tonight I see I now have again a dining table. And chairs. I have a sofa. I have comfy chairs and the television is talking from Comedy Central, as most nights. Its all so very normal. Ugh.

I liked it better when I had a plywood board set up on saw horses with my sewing machine in the dining area and Katie's never ending quilt project. I liked it better with just the comfy chairs and no couch (and the television reserved for DVDs). There was room then to roll out a yoga mat and stretch to the four winds. I liked it with all my papers from novels in waiting lying at my bedside. I liked the stacks of books surrounding the comfy chairs. I liked it because it was a working home. Now it's just so normal.

It's time to re-infuse this house back into the creative sanctuary it was. I'm contemplating how to do this without disrupting the status quo my Thing One holds so dear. Mostly I think I need less stuff. Time to walk around it agin with an eye for what can be removed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Verb or noun?

Back to a topic I have some control over...I hope.

Budget. Verb or noun? The obsolete definition, noun derivitive, for 'budget' is small pouch or bag. I can attest that this definition is not as obsolete as the dictionary contends. My budget is not a large pouch, nor a massive container (an antique sugar bowl holds my spare change and it never gets never goes empty either for that matter.). My budget is a small, emotional pouch.

I had to look up the word budget. I had to look it up to see if the connotations I give it are actually written into the definition. They are not. I mentally fight this word budget, as if the word itself is the problem. And maybe it is. Maybe I have given so much power to this word that simply means a little pouch (and makes me smile when 'codpiece' comes to mind...and then that makes it all better. And somehow just now a budget and a man's lively bits became synchronized). And I realize I should have no problems budgeting. And I don't, as long as I keep an eye on things. (Funny, I don't have problems with those lively bits when I keep an eye on them either.)

How did I get so far off the mark today? The above was NOT on my topic list. (hands go up in the air) Never topic tomorrow.

Monday, June 27, 2011

One never knows...

Sometimes I need to let things go.

I have come to the conclusion that I am such a whiner when left to my own devices.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


It would help getting dressed in the morning if I actually replaced the lightbulb that sputtered out on Monday morning. I keep forgetting that the lightbulb is nons electricus until I get up each morning. With the Solstice it is light outside until 10 pm or so (okay...9:45 pm) so I don't notice or remember to pillage the closet for lightbulbs until I am in the middle of the morning beat-the-clock mode.

To my credit, or not, it took until 9:30 this morning to realize the reason my pants fit funny is they are not the pants I had intended to wear. It also goes to show how much I really look at myself. Not much. This is a perfectly darling outfit when I have my chocolate brown slacks on. It's just kind of Seattle funky in these black kickers. Yes, I wore the wrong color combination of clothing today.

It's one of those days that one needs to hold one's head up, stride with purpose and pretend one intended to dress this way. (I DO TOO dress myself, says the three year old with pride.)

Note to self: Replace lightbulbs FIRST, then you can have dinner, or go play...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Not the Saturday I Planned

As I went to bed Friday my entire Saturday had been planned out. As a group leader for our buddhist area (not district leader, not chapter...Just good old fashion front line facilitator type stuff) I was due at the local Buddha Room at 9 a.m. to kick-off morning prayers. I like this stuff. It's a drop in, so once it's started I can leave when chanting gets rolling.

The plan from there was to head over to the Naked Parade (just shows what kind of Buddhist I am) in Fremont District to celebrate the coming solstice. Then head over to good friend's house to join the celebration for her guy friend's birthday. And that would round out the night at a good unhealthy hour which I would simply sleep off tomorrow morning. Somewhere in this back-to-back schedule I was going to stop by the homestead here and bake cookies for my dad, being Father's Day and all this weekend.

Friday night I fell asleep content and feeling over-full from life. Its a good feeling. I woke up to rain. Oh, that's right...I live in the North Wet. I have selective memory...often. I plan for fair weather events quite nicely. I somehow never quite remember the foul weather resources available, nor to make contingency plans. But most of all I am sick and tired of wearing my rain coat. Especially when I planned on a cute summer dress that's been tucked away in the back of my closet all winter taunting me to believe I would ever get to wear it again, and my new white flip-flops to set it off. Summer dresses that talk to me from the closet do not like to be covered in a rain coat.

I wore the dress to morning prayers. It's not a dress made of sugar, so running between the car and the building is just fine. Mostly I prayed that the rain would stop so I could go to the parade and enjoy it. It's crowded for the Fremont Parade. I mean this whole solstice event at the Center of the Universe is huge. The parade goes on forever - the naked part is really just a part - with the art and the community and the families involved. It is totally cool. And totally attended. There is no sitting room near the curb unless one gets there to stake a claim early in the morning. Standing in the rain, straining to see over people's heads, all this somehow lost it's appeal as the rain continued to bounce off the cement and wet the underside of my car. Alas, I am a fair weather parade attendee. Somehow I feel I failed, even if there is a next year.

Knowing I was not going to the parade I still did not stay for the entire prayer meeting. I stopped at the grocery store to pick up chocolate chips, some butter and a bag of brown sugar. No parade? Then it's time to bake cookies. I figure I have hours before the birthday party, positively hours.

I have now baked and ironed, had dinner, watched the 2010 version of "True Grit" (Which I purposely avoided as I have the story memorized-yes, I can lip-synch this movie. That and "The Sons of Katie Elder". Don't start with me. I am being a true friend to have watched this video), read a book in one sitting (The author got paid for this? I wonder how long it took her to write it?) and it is only 8 p.m.

I'm still wearing the summer dress, and a lovely lightweight cardigan that sets off its colors without diminishing its summer-ness. The b'day party ended up being family. I was smart enough to text first regarding timing and food. The return text was what keyed me in to what to expect. I am not really wanting to be family over there yet. I feel better for staying home. There are some people that family and friends co-mingle so regularly you can't tell which is which. This isn't one of those events, or types of people even.

I actually had a good day. I got this dress worn so it will quit talking in the closet for a little while. I got prayers off and running. I got chocolate chip cookies and ginger-snaps baked up. I watched a movie for a friend. I have two weeks worth of blouses and slacks pressed and ready for work. I read a book. I talked to my own family. I avoided being the third wheel at another's family event - or is that fifth wheel, I never know.

So, tomorrow I figure sweats, a hoodie and a pair of thick cushy socks. Before they start talking to me.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Worth Looking Over

So, I'm going over my dental bill. I am going to submit it to the first dentist for reimbursement (one never knows if it will happen unless one asks). As I'm reviewing this thing it just feels wrong. The billing for the second dentist feels wrong. I pulled out my box of useless papers with agreements, changes to agreements, movie ticket stubs, receipts for car batteries (save that, it's from February and already the battery's not got the juice it should), and paid statements and receipts in general. Everything with anything related to dental went into one pile. I found the treament plan estimate and set it along side the actual paid statement.

Well hey...I had not received credit for a promotional payment in May. I do not owe $371 for my tooth next Friday. When all is said and done, (I called the billing office to be sure we were both on the same page now) I owe $21. That's it. Because of a promotion I took advantage of it is now unnecessary to pay $371. I want to say I'll put it all in Emergency Fund. I want to say I will put it in the account to have a sunnier home. I want to say I will put it in the account for a newer car. But, right now, this minute I haven't decided. It will stay where it is until I decide. That's the best I can do for today.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Not Mathilda

My grandmother called me Mathilda, which I equated with Country Bumpkin. Now I see it was an endearment even if it wasn't exactly a compliment. Maybe it's not the name that matters, but what we read into it.

I sent some money to an out of state bank account for savings. For a couple years now I've considered the account to be a slop account. As in, money for when I get sloppy. I renamed the account today on that website, Kind of funny how when one actually gives a name to something, that something takes on the qualities of that name. I've renamed the out of state slop account. It's now my Emergency Fund.

Which is interesting, because yesterday I was thinking how this money has been set aside, so if I need anything - like a haircut, or to fill the refrigerator a little better - its there. I've been thinking of jumping on a train for a day to see parts of Oregon. I've been thinking of a brown sofa, instead of the deep green leather one I inherited. The minute I named this account Emergency Fund I got visions of jumping on a plane to see my mother, or my father or his wife for medical emergencies, or retrieving my daughter from out of state. Naming it Emergency Fund all the sudden took the money in that account and made it important; it made the money more important than new furniture. Today I'm considering how to put more money in for an emergency, rather than take money out in a sloppy fashion.

Its the same money with a new label. Its changed my vision.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reading during dinner

My bus buddy was sharing with me her thoughts on relationships. She has recently found a bit of success at Last weekend she had a date that went rather well. This coming weekend is another date that she is looking forward to. We speak as two single women. I wonder sometimes that I am happy enough being single. Yet, to hear her talk I wonder at how I live. She spoke most directly about the loneliness that comes with being single. This evening I reheated last night's dinner and read my book while I ate. There are food stains on those pages now. The book is getting good and I didn't want to set it aside while I ate. I am not lonely when I have a good book to read.

Earlier this year I purchased two tennis lessons; one for me, one for my friend that enjoys tennis as well. Of the many lessons I have gone to, she has made it to two. These are the things that make me lonely. Why am I going to tennis lessons when there really isn't anyone but my friend to play tennis with?

I wonder that when I am in a relationship I feel more lonely for that person not being there. I feel lonely waiting for that person to get off work, or to call or talk after work I guess. When I am not in a relationship I don't worry about whether I feel lonely or not. I am alone at those times by choice. That is not loneliness.

I have been considering eHarmony and I dabbled in the last year during "free weekends" without much to say about it. If I were to get serious about not being single there are ways to change it. Is there a point where it is too late to take action? Am I getting too set in my ways as a single woman? I thought I was clearing my heart and my guilt to be a more prepared person when a glimpse of a relationship showed up. I feel pretty clear anymore.

I'm not lonely. I wonder that I feel no guilt at being alone.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Just say No

Is easier said than done. But I did. And I feel better. Television commercials are sinister, planting perfectly photographed, impossibly created succulent promises in our brains. The truth of reality is never as good as the commercial will have us believe. AND YET, the Red Robin commercial touting it's seasonal strawberry chicken salad has caught the attention of Thing One. And she brought it to my attention. And we drool in front of the television, even while I know it won't be the same once we are seated in the restaurant and served. Still, there I went and offered for us to go to said restaurant and share a said salad on said payday. What was I thinking?!

Lo, it did not come to pass. Reviewing my incoming and my outgoing there was no way I could justify the trip to a sit down dinner. For that matter I can't justify a drive by, I mean drive thru, either. Thing One totally understood. In fact she was wondering how I was going to pull this off. Maybe it was a relief to her that I did just say no. We've been scouring the internet recipe sites and discussing all weekend. The grocery list now lists raspberry vinegar, ginger root and strawberries. We have strawberries now, but they will be eaten by the time we get the other items. We are in agreement we can probably make a better strawberry chicken salad than what could have been served up. While we'd still like to taste theirs so we can pattern our creation after it, we are willing to go into the kitchen blind to see what we can do for ourselves.

On a side note for updating purposes: I finally got the letter written to the bad dentist letting him know my disatisfaction with his services. I'm going to sit on it for a day. I'll re-read it tomorrow before I send it. I am requesting he reimburse me the additional charges for fouling up the other tooth. Am I naive to think he will actually reimburse me? Hey, at least he will know he screwed up.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How-Low-Can-You-Go and Flying kites is an interesting site. They think of themselves as intuitive. It's not. I haven't found a good resource (haven't looked real hard either) on how to use this site to it's best advantage. I have learned that it takes a month of transactions to make any kind of useable information available. Patience is a virtue with this program. It won't tell you in the beginning stages that you are wrong, but it will after that.

I get red lettering e-mail that tells me my bank account is low, $48.08. So, I guess the program is set to alert anything under $50? I tend to play the game, How Low Can You Go? I lose that game often, and have to pay the dealer (I mean the bank) $30 for going too low. Of course, the bank is set to red letter me for anything under zero. What this all means is that the alert system in is a good thing for me. I need to stop playing that game. Even as I type this I'm at $12.01. Payday is tomorrow.

(For those of you that read yesterday, you know that I have a check in the mail heading to an out of state bank for $59. This check will not even get to the out of state bank until today at the earliest - so yes, in a sense I am kiting checks. 1. At least the check is to myself. 2. The day the out of state bank cashes the check my paycheck will be newly in my working bank account and I won't have to worry about forgetting I wrote a check. Well yes, I do have an issue with forgetting to check the checkbook. I mean really, checks take so long to clear. This was a timed mailing to make sure the check gets there before I have a chance to empty the account.)

Good thing to celebrate is that the company I work for pays for public transportation costs to and from work. I am now in the system and I got my first distribution of funds. They pay me to ride the bus!! What's not to like? I love the bus. It's two thirds of my entertainment for the day. They pay me to come to work. I find this positively amazing. This is a bonus program I can live with. This program frees up $157 a month (my cost to ride the bus) to apply to other bills. I would like to put this in savings. Except I think I was living over my means so this amount will help to be within my means.

When I sit down with the basic list of non-changeable necessities Rent, Utilites, Auto Insurance, Internet, Old Credit Cards, etc., there is not really a lot left over for food, gas and savings. I'm still fussing with the lists. I don't like them, because they are not saying what I want to hear. The lists may be right. But, that's beside the point.

One other Good News moment...The secondary checking account that gets money swept into it every payday to take care of my rent is working GREAT. Rent was just not an issue this month. I mean, I got to forget about that whole account. I didn't worry about leaving enough money to cover rent. It was swept into the account already. I didn't think about it at all. That's the ticket. That's the way I want this all to work.

One step forward. Hold.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Budgeting Blogs

Blogs dealing with budgeting can be fun. And liberating. They remind me that I am not alone...not that I ever felt I was. The blog carnival over at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff has lead me to an interesting site that asks the question, Do you have $2000 available for emergencies? Which, as my readers know, I have to answer no. Now I'm working on it. If I am to have a $2000 reserve within a year I will need to put aside $167 a month. Today I sent off $59 to an out of state bank for safe keeping. The $59 is what I made on overtime pay last payday.

They say one is to put aside all the extra money that comes in as savings. This is the first time I've been paid overtime in years. Mind you, I still have $371 left to pay on this crown for my tooth. That will be over $1,000 going out this month (last 30 days) for dental work. So this $59 I've sent to just might be coming back again in a couple weeks to help finish paying for this tooth. I've got some overtime pay coming on this paycheck too. The tooth will be taken care of, that's all there is to it. These dental issues since April has sucked up $1000 right there. I'm wondering if $2000 for emergencies is enough?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Insights into Budgeting

Okay, it's been a month of recording my spending. I've thought about where I want to be spending. I've considered what I don't want to be spending. I've lists and calculations of what is available and how to channel this into those things that are necessary and/or enjoyable. Everything works out on paper. AND YET, my bank account tells me a totally different story. It's all great on paper, until the bank redoes all of it.

If I could just get the bank to figure their numbers like I do.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Warnings and Relief

A full week has passed since the last Great Dental update. I believe I've found a dentist. Last night, I was scheduled for a root canal. It didn't happen. The dentist was unable to get to the roots. The roots are still covered. I got a crown build up instead. That means my tooth wasn't as deeply chipped as I (or my dentist) thought AND I saved a good chunk of money. What's not to like?

I still believe the first dentist did me wrong. I also understand that there is no way to prove it. I will be sure to write up my thoughts on Yelp or otherwise. But that's the extent of being able to warn people that the first dentist is a little lacking in common sense (don't crack your clients teeth), patience (sit back to assess the situation if it's not going as planned), and integrity (maybe it would have been good for him to call me that evening to make sure there were no issues such as continued bleeding or otherwise). I guess I'm still pretty hot about this...and the thousand extra dollars it's costing me. Don't' go to Dr. Raymond Liu in Edmonds, WA. Just saying.

But, back to the good news. You know that look that people in the service industries get when everything goes right? It's the little unconscious smile (maybe just the corners of one's mouth) when the haircut turns out great, or all the groceries fit in the trunk after all, or the glasses that you ordered really do fit your face just right. Service industries people can be rather stone faced, maybe good at poker, but I love when that little smile or the moment of satisfaction arrives when they know, they KNOW it all worked or looks great. The dental assistant did it twice last night.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A little workout

A little workout fills my soul. Tennis lessons started this evening. I feel so much better for having batted around a ball for an hour. This is about as good as meditation gets. No need to focus on breathing, or calming the "monkey mind". Oh, hell no. Concentrate on getting that fuzzy yellow speeding ball back over the net.

For clarity and focus, there is no zen master that can clear one's mind as fast as a speeding yellow ball coming right at you. There is no mantra that would dare to compete with the focus necessary to smack that speeding ball back over the net. Everything else in the day falls away without willing it away. I should have been a professional athlete so I can live on the spiritual plane of non-thought. If I could just get the ball over the net I may just reconsider that.

Holding rope

On May 18th I posted my definition of financial security. I was in the throws of pulling my financial ass out of the well. I'm still hoisting up the rope. It's tough, holding on to the rope that I've already pulled up and then grabbing the fistfuls of line above that. You know, there's never really anytime to let go. One must hold the rope. That's just to stay even. I'm a bit of a heavy weight to be holding, financially (I think). My arms are feeling the strain. I wonder if muscles will come of this that make holding onto the rope less strenuous.

Since May 18th - almost two weeks now - I think I have written every list, repeatedly, of what is to be paid, when does it want to be paid, how much does it think it wants to be paid. I have culled out the bills that suck out the money automatically. I have a separate list of bills that I get to pay at my discretion. Every one of these lists is headed up with income information, as if that changes. I'm still making lists.

I did open a secondary bank account. I set it up to have a sweep done every payday. Antonio was lovely, had it done in minutes. With a name like Antonio I can say really pouffe things like, "My banker, Antonio says...." Anyway, the sweep is for half my rent plus a couple bucks more. Okay, it's the amount of what I want my rent to be for the next perfect rental property. I figure it's practise paying for a place with a water view. The "plan" is to pay rent from this new account, and the extra stays in this account as savings for things like deposits on new dwellings, car repair or down payment, and dental care (as I am scheduled for a root canal - though I think I only need a cap).

I have soooo many things on my "To Save For" list. It's longer than my "To be Paid" list. The working account will take care of the rest of living and bills as it always has. I'm hoping this way - sweeping the money aside - that I lose the stress of rent coming from one pay check, and I gain a healthy aspect on savings.

I do like my lists.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Use your resources

I used to work with dentists and dental lab technicians, and well, the whole department. I paid them a visit this morning. I described the "supposed" wrong done to me in cracking a tooth, the cost of root canals, etc. I learned some really smart things.
Number one, if the tooth does not hurt, it does not necessarily need a root canal. Number two, capping the tooth is a good idea to keep it from further damage.
Number three, I should get ahold of the original x-rays prior to any work being done as they will give the true nature of any caries or decay.
Number four, if the tooth was decaying, then the crack was inevitable.

It's who you know that can help with the what you know. Knowledge is power. And knowing things has always allowed me to feel better in control of those things that affect me. Especially when it has to do with my smile.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Figuring it out as the chips continue to fall

I'm getting it figured out. Of course, the rules will change the minute I think I've got it nailed down. This feeling of semi-accomplishment is a fleeting moment. I'm reveling in it anyway. The truck has been repaired, the emergency fund has been set up, I've been toying with the site and I'm getting comfortable. The site for budgeting and personal money management is extremely flexible. I'm just sayin' ... don't give it information you don't want it to compute. As in, and I find this funny, within the software my bank account says 'money out' to pay a credit card, and the credit card statement says 'money in' because I paid them. decided those two transactions cancelled each other out and basically computed that I had several hundred dollars more in my account (at my disposal) than I actually did. I deleted the credit card information completely as extraneous to my overall program. Money out, that's what I want a handle on first.

Oh yeah, I made it to a fresh dentist yesterday. I feel this office is trustworthy. The first dentist cracked my tooth while working on another tooth. He was pretty brutal with the care I received, I went home to lick my wounds, and felt the jagged edge of a tooth that had not had a jagged edge before.

Picture to the right is a pretty reliable depiction of Ancient Dentistry. Dr Liu is living in the past.

It's when the piece fell out (three weeks later) that I realized what had occured. I'm being completely sarcastic when I say I've never had the pleasure to pay over $800 in dental care in order to have a root canal (for an additional $1,600 including crown) when it's all finished. Just my favorite stuff.

Yesterday's dentist took the time to show me options in tooth restorations, he gave me time lines, pain expectancy...just everything. I'll have the root canal there. The Assistant was pretty smart too. The front desk gave me three options to pay, two of them are no interest options. I do find it interesting when the front desk is uppity about payment. The first dentist, that did the damage, was uppity. Yesterday's dentist just laid out the info and said get back to them when I'm ready. This is not the first time in my life that the way an office handles the money at the front desk is in direct reverse proportion to the quality of service. I'll be calling them tonight, as another chip of tooth came out yet's not fixing itself (shoot, I was hoping it would). I'll be putting my review of the dental offices on while I'm at it.

So, the chips are still falling where they may. The figures are still in motion, this part reminds me of stellar and planetary movements, I'm not sure the budgeting, adjusting, rebudgeting thing will ever stop. I don't mind paying attention for now, but is this something I'm going to have to keep my thumb on all the time? I'd like to walk away and enjoy the sunshine once in a while...but hey, too early to worry about that yet. So, here's to keeping my thumb on the pulse. For as long as it takes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The money came

I think what bothers me most is that I'm not a kid. I'm no longer in my twenties. Somewhere near the end of my twenties I figured a person ought to have the financial wherewithall to move ahead without assistance.

The money arrived. The phones are back on. The car is getting new parts as I type this. I've enough for an emergency fund. Now, paying this back is important to me.

(An aside here - my son got the sous chef position, regardless of the phones. My daughter picked up another shift at work, regardless of the phones. And my other daughter heard greatt news from Afghanistan without the phones. Facebook, e-mail and face to face work wonders...)

There are a ton of extremely unhelpful budgeting sites on the internet. What a mash-up of misguided muck. There's the big names like Suze Orman and Ramsey: out for a buck. The Ramsey's approach makes more sense - but a rather difficult site. One of my friends at work suggested That's what I've been putzing on here at work between phone calls and projects. I've been setting up my financial tracking on-line. I understand they have a touch screen version for my iPad. When I get home tonight I will download that app (please may they offer it free) and get some of the particulars put in it right. I like the way is set up. It appears to allow me to tweak individual categories and tags and stuff so that all this makes sense to me. I don't care if it makes sense to anyone else. I don't appreciate that loans off the grid, such as the one I have, are not enterable into this program. Everything at is "attached" to a retail account, attached to a "real bank". I will need to find a way to account for a loan from a private lender. With all the bells and whistles of I can see how a program like this can keep me interested enough to track my expenses and maybe even reach some goals.

It's been a nice diversion, that may not be a diversion after all.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Defining Peace of Mind

The goal is financial peace of mind. That's it. Peace of mind. That in itself is priceless. I don't know if that means a million dollars, or five million dollars, or what. It definitely means a change of attitude.

For me, financially, Peace of Mind means -

1. I will have savings set aside to fly across the country in case of emergency. I want to know I can get to my loved ones should anything happen. With family in New York, Wisconsin, Colorado and California...well, it matters.

2. I can go months without bank charges on my free account. And then I go months when nothing goes through the bank on time and I am floating in red until payday. Peace of mind would be having a free checking account, in the black, at all times.

3. I want to open bills on payday, write a check or go online, file it and it's all done. That's it. Two weeks of peace of mind. A couple years ago I was paid once a month. I loved it. I paid all my bills in full on payday. I always felt the weight of the world lift from me. I saved up all the bills until payday - brought them all out at once - and all at once they disappeared. This is the kind of peace of mind I am working for.

4. I want to be able to see a doctor or a dentist and have the ability to pay upon receipt. Right now I can't do that. These bills are hefty. Thing Two went to a doc for regular checkup type stuff and 20 minutes later I have a bill for $238. Which reminds me I need to incorporate that one into my budget.

5. I want savings for emergencies. Two months income would be a nice start, considering I have nothing right now. I would need to come up with a recommended list of appropriate times to access the money. If the situation does not fall into one of those appropriate times then it must not be an emergency. It just seems that when I have savings everything is an emergency and nothing stays in savings.

That's it. That's my definition. I need to know where I'm going. I still don't know how I'll get there. Today I am defining the destination, not the path to get there.

I'm still tracking my spending. Once everything blew up in front of me tracking my spending just seems like a total waste of time. Except...okay, it has a grounding aspect to it. It is proof that I have not thrown my hands up in disgust. No, my hands are poised and at the ready to record that sixty-nine cents I spent last Friday for a bag of microwave popcorn for lunch. Truly, it hasn't even been a week yet. I started on Friday the 13th. Today is only Wednesday.

Yesterday I did three things to bring my finances into shape:
~I reviewed my bank statement online and hard-copy. I see that I paid overdraft fees. Too many (even one is too many).
~I wrote out in long-hand on several pieces of paper all the things I pay and all the money that comes in. It took several drafts to make sure I got everything. Even as I type this I remember two things that did not get included last night. I will be re-writing this income/outgo page again.
~I opened all the bills and statements that are waiting for a "good" payday and read them. I didn't put them in any order. I just read them and put them back.

The thing I did that puts another wrench in the works is that I called family for financial assistance and it's in the mail. I have no idea how I'm going to pay this back. I don't know what else to do, but here I've taken on another debt.

Today I've done three things toward changing this money karma.
~I emailed my debt reduction service asking where the additional $110 that was freed up from paying off creditors is going. I don't see any of this "snowball" money going toward any of the remaining accounts.
~I called the debt reduction service to update the dollar amount showing on my statements. They are kind of a defensive bunch there on the phone. I want to stay in touch with these people. They need to know I'm watching now.
~I've put some thought into what I am trying to acheive here. I want to achieve some peace of mind this year. I think it's an extremely do-able goal. I just don't know what I'm doing.

Before the money arrives from family, I need to write down where it's going to go. I need to consider where it's going to do the most good. I need a plan or it will - poof - be gone before I can be smart.

I need to allow Thing One to take care of some issues for herself to make sure the bail is returned. I paid the first round of clearing her ticket back in August and it didn't work. She needs to do some karma clearing for herself. (God, grant me strength to back off for her to do it, but the vision and voice to guide her, gently or not, to get it done.) What a mess.

PS: Phones are still turned off. It no longer bothers me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Truth Hurts

Truth is the phones are turned off. I can't pay the bill. Truth is my truck is sitting at the curb still broken. I didn't pay the bill to have it towed. I owe my mom for that. The part comes tomorrow and a friend has offered to fix it. Truth is I am unable to leave my children in trouble even at the expense of myself. That truth cost me $500 in bail money for a "simple" bench warrant and the loss of all our family phone service. Truth is my tooth cracked last week and now my jaw hurts. I have insurance, but if I read the policy correctly this has minimal coverage which makes me wonder what I pay a premium for. Truth is I live paycheck to paycheck and a little over every payday. Truth is I've hit a low point of knowledge that roars like a lion that I never ever want to be here again. I am at a point that I see how long I've been fooling myself.

Sitting down tonight with paper, pencil, bank statement, pay stubs it looks like I can do this. On paper my financial life looks solid. it looks good. It looks like I can pay my way and put $50 a month in savings too. But it's not been happening. This can't continue. I cannot live this way any longer. I look at the numbers and I don't know what to do. I don't understand where the disconnect between paper and living occurs. I've been writing down every penny that goes out this last week. And then it all exploded in my face. I feel like life came at me in fists. The money boogeyman came at me with a rage at being found out. Yeah, I'm bruised. I sit licking my wounds wondering how to connect what I see on paper to how I actually live. The dots have to connect. There is no other choice.

Isn't it telling that the week I felt I had made a determination to truly get a handle on my financial life it just imploded. The house of cards fell. My determination is rising. I'm mad. I'm mad at myself. I did nothing wrong. I did everything wrong. There has to got be a connect. I have got to find the connection between what I see on paper and how I live my life. Truth hurts. Tracking only goes so far. Changes have to happen.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Where I work I get a lot of questions, "Are you single?" "Are your married?" and these guys really want to know. I'm pretty good at side stepping the question at this point. None of their business. It's not a dating club, believe me. Yet it surprises me that men ask that question with no compunction, with no embarrassment, just part of their genetic make up. It's amazing to me. I could never ask a man I find interesting, or just plain handsome if he were in a relationship. It's just not in my genetic make up.

So, this last weekend when I came across a gentlemen that looked as though he had hooked his sleeve on a fence near the Farmer's Market. He appeared to be trying to get loose. I asked, "Are you attached?" Wouldn't you know it he answered, "Yes, my wife is just around the corner."


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Down to one car

What an eventful week...not all good, not all bad. Yes, as the title says we three drivers with three jobs are down to one car. Mine bit the dust on Monday. It was only $124 to tow it home. I was expecting the $300 range, so I'm allowed to say "only". My mother was visiting this week. Yes, she was in the truck when it decided to spew oil onto the windshield. I do remember remarking on how I didn't see anyone toss a cup of coffee out the window on the freeway just then. Mom remarked back that she didn't see anyone do that either. That's when I noticed my oil gauge peg lounging, resting, napping at the bottom of the dial. Big sigh here. Like I said, I picked the truck up, got it home, and I'm dusting it off to ride again.

Thank god for friends. Have I mentioned lately how much I have come to truly appreciate my friends? And not just times like now. I mean to tell you we have watched plenty of football games together and eaten our share of nachos for the year together along with that. What surprises me is how friends rally around when the going gets tough. It's this friend that talked me through possible scenarios for my truck drama, who then stopped over that Monday night after work to look under the hood. He popped back in yesterday to watch under the hood while I cranked the car up to see which hose is spewing oil. His wife borrowed me a car to get my mother back to the airport on Friday morning before work. I am blessed.

So now we are down to one car. Thing One is working a second job. Thing Two is picking up extra shifts as fast as they become available and I am riding my beloved bus with new and different connections to get where I'm going. Grocery shopping is difficult. It is a timed event to shop and get the car home in time for someone to go to work.

Yesterday I started the "Log". What I mean to say is I started a small notebook to record every nickel, dime and penny I spend. I'm going to need a vehicle sooner rather than later. I had hoped to change my homestead, find a house with some sunshine. It seems I should make a vehicle my priority. Either way, to dispel the Money Boogeyman I will be watching him to see where he hides, where he rears his ugly face, what treasures he drags away kicking and screaming this time - rather than just letting him have the shadows I'm installing an halogen light fixture to see what needs to be rearranged so he has less access to my money. We'll see what comes of this. Hopefully a car, or a home, or both.

Other stuff happened this week that were awkward, uncomfortable and some downright frightening. Deja Vu moments left me worried about future scenarios. It's an uncomfortable time. It's life. I'm surrounded by love, and that helps. That helps a lot.

Oh, Thing Two will only be here for another three weeks or so....big sigh...Life happens. What an adventure.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

House of Sunshine

Life has overtaken me. There's nothing to report, but I'll write anyway.

Bus rides have been interesting. Seattle Sound Transit or Community Transit or one of those has purchased a small fleet of double decker buses. They look kind of scary to me. I don't like that they are so tall and imposing. I find myself wondering if they will tip over in high winds or if everyone sits on one side on the top deck. I ended up riding one this last week. Great windows. Very quiet upstairs too. They still make me nervous. Double decker buses and the back end of the articulted buses make me nervous.

Monday someone let spill a can of beer on the bus. That was intresting. Of course, no open containers are allowed on the bus in the first place, covered coffee excepted (this is Seattle). The bus reeked of beer. The small rivers of brew flowed along the floor to a woman's grocery sacks. I called out for her to pick them up before the beer got that far. The fella behind me got off the bus in a hurry at the next stop. When I left the bus several stops later I saw the seat was wet as well.

I dunno...the neighbor just finished mowing the yard here at my little palace. I've been looking for a new home. Something that might have a little light. My apartment faces north and I get no direct sun at any time of year here. Rent is heading back up in the burg so no telling what I can really afford. Now that I own this job I actually make less take home pay than I did as a contractor. The kids have been upping my phone bill, and my electric bill, and my car insurance and well, I'm not sure I can really afford where I'm at right now even. I used to stress over this stuff. It would really pull me down into the dumps. On a lark, I applied for part-time work at a retail shop nearby. It'd be a good stop-gap for a bit. I just don't want to get suckered in to holding two jobs for more than a four months or so. Seasonal is how I think on it today. We'll see if they call. Next year I can change some deductions and in two and a half years or so all my debts will be paid in full. That's kind of exciting for me. Money is a very fluid comodity. Sometimes the pool is full, sometimes it aint. I'm glad I have the things I have. I'm glad I've done the things I've done. It's all good. That house with sunshine isn't that far away.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Children and Holidays

Children make holidays that much richer. Even when the kids are grown. The girls, Thing One and Thing Two have their friends over this evening. Wizard of Oz is on the television. Thing Two came home from work this evening with a dozen eggs and an egg decorating kit. "Mom, can we decorate eggs tonight?" Well, yeah.

Here we are eight young adult friends and my two daughters working away in the kitchen taking this whole egg decorating thing very seriously. The Artist in each of them has been brought to the surface. They are singing with the Cowardly Lion in the movie. And generally regressing to elementary school years. Childhood is good to relive.
Hoppy Holidays! Happy Spring!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Infinite Possibilities

Under the city of Seattle is the tunnel built for public transportation. It is dry here when it is raining up above. That is how I found the tunnel, looking for a dry place to wait for the bus. This week the tunnel became a little of a metaphor. Or at least it added to an idea that has taken the forefront of my brain space lately.

"There are infinite paths to happiness. Don't sweat it."
Me ~ 2011

There are six different buses all going downtown at ten minute intervals each - every weekday morning. Of those, I chose one, the one that is right in front of me. There is no need to wait for the next bus, even on principle, it is the same as this bus. I have umpteen connections I can make once I reach downtown. I can take a bus, or the light rail. I can walk a block or two to make a quicker connection, or to not make a quicker connection (sometimes its cool to just hang around). In the end, there are three different bus routes that swing past my workplace. After all the options, and routes, timetables and cityscapes, it is one of three buses that will deliver me to the door of where I work. Most weeks I cannot catch the same driver twice. Traffic changes everyday. Timetables are guidelines only. It is an infinite mix of possibilities.

And so it is with life.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Two weeks

Just keeping count, or tabs, or whatever...until I don't have to anymore.

I do appreciate the hypnosis recordings. I would recommend that option or helping hand to anyone. Drug free and feels good. It's staying in my arsenal.

It snowed last night. That was fun to watch...a little late in the season for my tastes. I hope the skiers are having a good time this year.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hypnosis for real life

I've found some free apps for my iPad that seems to be pretty cool. One is an hypnosis app that has four segments, weight-loss, study, confidence and stop smoking. I started laughing during the no smoking hypnosis segment. The voice is very calm and measured. The voice repeats itself...breath in, breathe out etc, etc...relax, relax. On and on. So when the voice gets to the meat of the matter and says with a seriously forceful tenor, "Next time you think you want a cigarette you will realize how stupid this is. You will feel it is one of the dumbest things you can do." I love this. I mean, hell yes, tell it like it is. "You will let this thought leave you completely and quickly, effortlessly. There is no way you can be that stupid."

Hypnosis...amazing that voice knew exactly what I needed to hear.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I'm not sure what insurance pays for...

After living a couple years without "health insurance", and now having "benefits" for the last couple weeks, well I'm here to tell you it is a false sense of security that comes with employer subsidized insurance coverage. And that going to a doctors seems like a part time job.

One of those things happened so I went to a health care provider. I am going back again this week to hopefully get the care I requested during the first visit. Two visits and three finagling phone calls later it is costing me $364. I had to be very active as a patient advocate. That surprised me. I did get the cost way down from the initial offer. Dickering for health care.

I have another appointment on Monday for a planned visit - separate issue, different docs- and that one no one is giving over monetary information. That visit is the big secret...I will have to be advocating for my pocketbook while I'm there - but of course, these providers are removed from the billing department - in theory, they should be able to give the most appropriate care. I know what procedure I want there too so... I'll let you know how that goes.

I know that admin staff do not appreciate having to run the numbers prior to an appointment. Payment seemed so damn important to her I made sure she got all her dollars in a row - we have an agreement now - I'll come in, but she can't charge any more than she said she would. In some ways at least all the arm wrestling is done first. With the Big Secret appointment all the arm-wrestling will be after the appointment when I get the bill.

It always made me a little frustrated when I would go in sick to a doctor and after all the blood pressure, temperature and breathing in and out the doctor would tell me I'm sick, that I should have come in earlier, but even then it's a virus and had to run it's course; go home, go to bed. I guess it's not a bad gig if you can handle the start up costs.

When all this is done I will have to be truly miserable to allow myself to be put through this again.

OH! OH! I got a collections letter for several hundred dollars worth of charges at the hospital in the town in Wisconsin I lived at two years ago. Rather than call the collections company I called the hospital billing department and respectfully asked what the charges are for. The gentleman asked me when was the date of service. I said i didn't know as I've not lived in Wisconsin for two years now and this truly adds to my confusion of what these charges would be for. "So you don't have a date of service?" "If I had a date of service I would probably have a good idea what the charges are for." He mentioned my wasband and I mentioned we do not share bills as he is my wasband and not my husband. The gentleman took my number and said he'd call me back. He did. He called me back and let me know that the charges referred to in the collections request had been written off in 2009 as a billing error and he did not know how or why they had made it to the collections people. Neither my wasband nor I are responsible for those charges. I'm arm-wrestling phantom charges these days. Ain't life a miracle?