About Me

Life is learning. Life is change. Life is good. Life doesn't have to cost a lot. I want to make my life greener, healthier, and thriftier. And I want to enjoy doing it!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ever Have One Of Those Days ...

... where you just can't seem to get moving?  I'm having one today.  And although I feel like I've earned a lazy day, this is not the best time for one.  But every time I think about the things that need to get done today ... I sit back down here and start another game of solitaire, or read another blog/social site thread/news article.

And there are a number of things that do need doing today; the litterbox  and guinea pig cage need cleaning, the dishes are piling up and so is the laundry, the bathroom is grubby, the whole house badly needs sweeping and dusting, the mending pile keeps growing, I still have a few more loose ends to darn into the "project" sweater, and my workroom is still chaotic.  Don't even ask me about the basement ... and here I sit.

Why?  I'm tired.  Deep-down in my bones tired.  Overtime every night at work, family who meet me at the door with things they "need" me to do right that second, a computer on which I need to replace/rebuild a gazillion files because we had to wipe the main drive and reinstall Windows (some files might still be recoverable, but it will take time); it all adds up.  It seems like the only time I had to relax for the last week was during my train ride to work and back, when I could lose myself in a book or put my headphones on and ignore the world for a little while.  That's not enough.

On the plus side, I have tomorrow off.  Even though our office is in Canada, the ports I handle are in the US, so I work the Canadian holidays and take the American ones.  Instead of Victoria Day, I get Memorial Day.  This is actually a good thing, because tomorrow I plan to get my passport pictures taken, get J to sign one (she works an afternoon shift tomorrow so she'll still be here when I get back with them), go downtown to use the birthday gift card the girls gave me last fall for a manicure & pedicure, then take in my passport application.  I'll be putting the fees on the credit card, but as soon as I get home I can transfer the amount out of chequing and so pay no interest and get the card back to zero again.  The passport office, like the photo place, is within walking distance of home.  So are the bank, the library, the computer store, and two grocery stores, all of which I will also be stopping at ... all in all, a very busy day, but a very productive one.

Oh, yes, the bank.

I have a little piggy bank on my desk here, into which I drop all the coins I accumulate during the week.  When it's full, I empty it into an old toffee tin, and when the tin is full, I roll up the coins and deposit the lot into my savings account.  So my trip to the bank will be to deposit  -  drum roll, please!  -  $233.00 !!!  Which more than makes up for having to tweeze my eyebrows into submission and touch up my grey roots tonight so I'll be ready for the passport photos in the morning.

Now, if only the weather would lighten up a little.  It may be the end of May on paper, but it's still March outside.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Frustrations Abound

This has been one of those weeks where I feel like I'd have been better off just hiding in a closet all week ...

Monday was okay  -  for a Monday  -  except that the laundry I'd hung up on the basement clothesline on Sunday  was still damp, which meant I had to scramble around to find something both clean and appropriate to wear to work, and consequently was almost late.  Monday evening our downstairs tenants announced that they were splitting up and he was moving out.  Fine, the return of peace and quiet will be welcome, but we'll also be getting $200 less per month in rent  -  which is only fair, since we raised it by that much when he moved in to compensate for the extra gas/hydro/noise/laundry/general wear & tear.

Tuesday, systems kept crashing on us at work.  Then I got home to find that Big Guy had completely forgotten our planned Costco run and was sitting out back drinking beer with a couple of friends.  Fine, we'll just go Wednesday evening instead (weekend trips to Costco are a nightmare of crowds, noise, overflowing parking lots in which one circles endlessly in hopes of catching another shopper just vacating a spot, and checkout lines that stretch halfway to the back of the store ...).

Or not.  Wednesday  -  same friends, more beer.  And the friend who was going to come over and help me do my roots got called in to work an extra shift.  I can't do it by myself; the glasses (of course) have to come off, and then I can't see what I'm doing.

So instead, I decided to combine a batch of same-general-area errands, and went to the bank, the library, and the grocery store.  Now, normally I would buy one (two if there's a sale) large tub of yogurt, and dish it out into my single-serving lunch containers at home.  But this time I bought a week's worth of little individual yogurts, because I wanted the little containers to fill with slug bait in the garden.  Saw a flavour I hadn't tried before  -  it looked good, it was on sale, I grabbed two of them  -  it's nasty.  It's so nasty even the neighbour's dog turned his unfussy nose up at it.  Live and learn ...

On Thursday we had a group meltdown at work over upper management folks who want one thing one day, the opposite the next day, and no matter what we do, we should have done the other thing ... after a fairly high-pitched venting session we all felt much better!  Nothing changed, naturally, but we did get a whole lot of pent-up anger out of our systems and were finally able to laugh at the whole situation.

Thursday evening, despite all my precautions my computer succumbed to a reboot-every-ten-seconds virus that wouldn't stop even in "safe" mode.  And so ...

Yesterday my friend D who is also my on-call technogeek did his best to fix the problem, but we ended up having to re-install Windows.  All of my e-mail files, address books, desktop work-from-home files, financial records, internet favourites, music, pictures, all the programs I'd painstakingly added, all the games I really enjoyed relaxing with, all the knitting patterns I hadn't printed yet ... gone. GONE.  D is coming back next Saturday to try and recover what he can for me, but I'm not optimistic.  I have backups for some of what I lost, but the most recent is over a month old.  Most of what's gone can be replaced, or rebuilt from other records, but it really hurts to think I may have lost forever all my photojournals of trips to Yellowstone, Arizona, Hawaii, Costa Rica, our family camping & fishing trips, family Christmases and birthdays and graduations ... Mom and sister S have some of the pictures, but not all.

 Next payday I'm investing in an external hard drive onto which everything will be backed up, every day.  I never want to go through this again.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Return Of Randomness

I haven't posted for a while, for several reasons.

1)  The death of our beloved pet hit me very hard.  She was such an important part of our lives for eighteen years, and we are still devastated and heartbroken.  It's only in the last couple of days I've been able to talk about her without weeping ... and kind words about her from others are still enough to set off the tears.

2)  I'm finally starting to recover from what I thought was just a nasty cold but turned out to be a serious bout of bronchitis.  It started to fade, then came roaring back, and left me with no energy to do anything except go to work, come home, and lie down.  I've finally stopped coughing, but I still get tired much faster than I'm used to.

3)  In spite of everything else, I still had to go to work every day; we are an office of 5, only one of whom could have covered for me.  She was out of province (business), which meant that instead of taking sick days, I was there far more hours than usual covering for her.

You may have noticed that I've rearranged my sidebar items.  I realized that I really hardly ever spend money on anything I don't need.  The cough medicine, for instance, turned out to be the only way I could get even three or four hours of sleep per night, and certainly I never would have made it through a single day at work without it.  So I've removed it from the (renamed) "Extra Spending" list.  You'll see, though, that I've added my annual purchase of coffee direct from the plantation in Costa Rica.  Yes, it looks expensive ... but I don't drink it every day; it's my only real "treat" and believe me, I'll make that twenty pounds of (in my opinion) the world's best coffee go a long way.  I'll also be giving some as birthday or Yule gifts to a select few who appreciate it as much as I do, and sharing it with fellow coffee lovers on movie nights.  Break that annual expenditure down to $13.25 a month for personal treats and gifts, and it's eminently affordable within our current budget.

I've also decided to keep track of what I've labeled "Serendipitous Income"  -  money from unexpected or unplanned sources.  On-line surveys, coupon and club card savings, deposit containers found and redeemed, that kind of thing.  I will include any overtime I get paid for, because I don't go to work planning to stay late.  I will not, however, include my tax refund when it comes in, because I did plan for it, and have plans for where it will go.  The overtime from May alone will cover my new passport and my coffee order, and still leave over $200 to go into savings.

Project update:  there isn't one, really.  The sweater is put together at last, but the darning in of loose ends has still to be done, and the workroom organizing is on hold until I'm healthy enough to haul boxes around without wheezing.  For the same reason, the basement-clearing project is also on "pause"  -  though whenever I go down to do laundry, or tend to the litterbox (yes, we still have one cat), or get something from the freezer, I'll try to remember to do one thing towards the cleanup, even if it's just putting away an empty canning jar or two.  Baby steps.

Spring gardening hasn't even started yet; we've had a month of low temperatures, sunny weekdays, and rainy weekends  -  frustrating, since weekends are the only time we have for garden/yard work.  But we'll get there eventually.  My fruit trees all blossomed nicely, and I'm hoping there were enough dry days for the bees to pollinate well and so get us a good crop.  We don't expect any cherries or pears for a couple more years, but the black currants, plums and apples  -  we hope  -  should do well.  I don't know if the growing season will be long enough, or warm and dry enough, for a decent tomato crop.  The herbs will go in containers this year and with luck I'll find a way to keep the squirrels from nibbling them all down to nothing again.  Rhubarb always does well  -  I don't think we could kill it with napalm  -  and I'd like to put in some raspberry canes.

The coupon insert in this morning's paper had several good two-for-one offers on laundry detergent, (recyclable) plastic food storage containers, and other household basics.  An hour after clipping the coupons, I found out that a very dear friend and her husband are both out of work and really struggling financially right now.  So I will use the coupons this week, and set what I buy aside for my friend.  And I'll raid my stockpile of toiletries as well, and add some of our homemade jams and pickles from last fall. I know she won't be offended; we've helped each other out like that countless times over the years.  For us, that's always been a really big part of what friendship is about  -  being there for each other.  I'm only sorry I can't do more, and sorry that it's not later in the year so I could take her apples and plums and tomatoes too!

Now I think I'll go do some mending.  That pile has to get smaller eventually!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Our beloved 18-year-old tabby cat was killed by a dog today.