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!