Monday, March 25, 2019


Six cheese bagels from Hen House Market
The Daily Crave Veggie Sticks
Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter World & Chubby Hubby

Scooter’s Lucky Leprechaun Blenders
Gevalia Mocha Latte Keurig cups
Diet Coke mini cans
Ice Pineapple and Coconut
Naked Juice Mighty Mango

“Every Fear,” by Rick Mofina

Just Finished:
“Polar Vortex” by Matthew Mather

Socks in Opal Claude Monet 9686, Venedig, Santa Maria de la Salute

Tempestry project tapestries: 
1972 Lee’s Summit, Missouri
2019 Overland Park, Kansas

Pillow cases

Daily steps
Dinner menu
Daily weather and high and low temperatures
CPAP use and MyResMed CPAP score 

Cocoa Daisy monthly journal box subscription
Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine
Vanity Fair
Yoga Journal
Calm Box
Kindle Unlimited
Amazon Prime

Word Zen
Zen Koi

Yin Yoga classes at Darling Yoga

“Goliath” on Amazon Prime

Post Malone
Matt Maltese

“Bosch” on Amazon Prime
“Big Sky” by Kate Atkinson
“Layover” by David Bell
“Bloody Genius” by John Sandford
“The Unkindest Tide” by Seanan McGuire

Monday, January 28, 2019

How to save money

I know that articles like this are basically click bait, but I’m as likely as anyone else to click on the ones that don’t look like a scam immediately. I never click on the ones that say “you won’t believe ...” and I never click on the ones that say it’s s heartbreaking story. Why would I put myself through that? Who wants to read something that will break their heart?

The ones I read just to shake my head at are the “50 things” type, like 50 things women over fifty shouldn’t wear, or 50 ways to save money.  Oh, but I never click on the ones that say “you’ve been doing this wrong your whole life.”  

Anyway, I keep thinking aniut one I just read that enumerates all the things you waste money on, and gives you alternatives, so you can “save tons of money!”

The presumption is, I guess, that most people are too stupid to know that they do things that aren’t strictly necessary, and that they could save money by not doing them. A couple of the stupidest ones are traffic and parking tickets and overdraft or late fees. You mean if I just drive a little slower or don’t park in no-parking zones I wouldn’t have to pay, or that I could actually avoid the late fee by not paying things late? Who knew?

A few of the things are slightly useful, like pointing out that store brand or off brand items are generally located on the top or bottom shelves at the supermarket, so they aren’t as easy to notice as the brand name items. 

Some of them seem to assume you’re a complete idiot and things like this wouldn’t occur to you:
  • Wasting money on electricity? Turn off the lights!
  • Wasting money on eating out? Cook at home!
  • Spending too much money drinking at the bar? Drink at home!
  • Spending too much on meal delivery services? Pick up your take out meals yourself!
  • Wasting money on car detailing? Get out the bucket and sponge!
  • Spending too much on that gym membership? Exercise at home!
  • Drinking soda or bottled water costing too much? Drink tap water!
  • Spending too much at Starbucks? Make coffee at home!
Those reminded me of the suggestions that wealthy people were making to the government workers who were furloughed during the shutdown. “Not getting paid for working? Get a loan! Have a garage sale! Sell your possessions on eBay!”

There are many reasons why we choose to do things. Certainly it costs a lot to buy a daily espresso at the coffee shop. Sure it might save money to watch television rather than going out to a movie, or cook at home rather than eating out. But if buying your caffeine fix each morning, going to movies or eating out are things you enjoy, and can afford, then you should certainly go ahead and do them, assuming aren’t too stupid to realize that if you didn’t do them, you would save money. 

Some of the suggestions aren’t just patronizing, they’re just ridiculous. The article says that if you love to read, you’re probably spending too much on books, and suggests that instead of buying books at the bookstore you go to Goodwill where you can sometimes get books for twenty-five cents. Assuming, I guess, that if you love to read then it doesn’t matter what you read, and that any old book is the same as any other. 

This one (and the number one suggestion) was my favorite, though:

Getting a manicure or pedicure costs an average of $20 after tip, just to have your nails look good. If you work in a professional environment where you feel as if you need to get your nails done to keep up appearances, that’s one thing, but most women get manicures simply because they enjoy it. If you want to save money, start doing your nails at home with a bottle of nail polish, or get reusable press-on gel nails for around $8. Reserve professional nail treatments for special occasions.

In the first place, I’m not sure where you can get your nails done for $20 including tip, but nevertheless, I find it funny that the article says that unless you are a high powered professional woman, your nails don’t need to look nice. Just get some press-on nails at the drugstore! 

But the kicker is: “most women get manicures simply because they enjoy it.”

think “enjoying it” is a perfectly good reason to do something for yourself. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

There but for the grace

You know what? I’ve always been almost apolitical, and I seldom express a controversial opinion here. But this government shutdown thing is forcing me to say this. It’s no one’s freaking business how I or anyone else handles their money. If you are working, you deserve to be paid. Period. End of story. 

Maybe you have savings, maybe you don’t. None of my business. I don’t get to say that you should have been smarter and saved money. I don’t get to say that it’s no big deal, just use a credit card, or get a loan. Sell some plasma, have a garage sale, do some babysitting. 

I listened to a prison guard cry in a radio interview tonight because he isn’t getting paid and doesn’t know how he’s going to buy his son a birthday present. 

When the food stamp money runs out, what are those people going to do? It’s easy to say that they can get help from their family, but what if their family is also getting (or not getting) government help? Can we just say, oh, too bad, I guess you should have saved some money?  No, we cannot. 

If you’re not getting paid, everything not absolutely crutial to the preservation of life goes out the window. If no one gets haircuts while they’re furloughed, then the barber can’t pay his rent, and without rental income, the landlord defaults on his loan. 

We aren’t living in a bubble, or a vacuum. Actions have consequences, and they radiate out into the world. 

It is apparently too much to expect that some, not all, of the people running the government have compassion, if not understanding, for their fellow human beings. 

I’m lucky, I know that. But that doesn’t entitle me to belittle anyone else, or shake my head and say too bad, I guess they should have planned better. I’ve been through it myself. It’s hell. If your every thought is how you’re going to pay your bills, it’s impossible to keep your mind on your work and go a good job. 

I have a heck of a lot going on in my life right now, and I’m trying to keep all of the balls in the air. Most of my time is devoted to getting through my own crises. But I can at least have empathy and compassion for the people who are going through this, who are scared to death and don’t know what to do. And I can ask, in the strongest possible voice, that the people who we have elected to represent us in this world get it together enough to end this ridiculous travesty and let the people who are doing their jobs get paid for it. 

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

A new chance to get it right

I said in an Instragram post on New Year’s Eve that it’s all artificial, that one minute is the same as the next, but that isn’t really true. It always seems significant to celebrate the beginning of a new year. Beginnings seem fraught with meaning. In fact, every morning is a new chance to get it right.

I know from past experience that my New Year’s resolutions tend to be the same every year — lose weight, eat better, exercise — and generally fall by the wayside within a few days or weeks.  I remember one year that I vowed to give up meat, then had a ham sandwich at a New Year’s Eve party. The mind (and heart) is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Still, I have to do something. This year I have intentions. I joined a yoga studio and paid a monthly fee for unlimited classes. I visited the studio before I did that, of course, and took a variety of classes to be sure I liked the place and the teachers. I did. The studio is less than s mile from my house, so I really have no excuse not to go. My first intention is to take at least one yoga class a week, preferably more.

My second intention is do Morning Pages again (from Julia Cameron’s “The Writer’s Way”). The idea is a three page brain dump first thing in the morning before the world intrudes. I’ve done them before, and want to do them again. I want to try to get back into writing again, either blogging or journaling or something. I do miss it. There have just been so many other things taking up space in my brain that it has fallen by the wayside.

My third intention is to read over 100 books this year. Since I read about 150 in 2018, that shouldn’t be a problem. Fourth, to take my vitamins and pills every morning. I always take them, but sometimes not until later in the day, so the intent is to take them before noon. And the old eat better, drink more water, etc. Oh, and knit and sew more.  I need to make time to get more creativity into my life. My main creative outlet lately is my planner, which I adore. I love making lists and keeping track of things. That isn’t the issue. The issue is doing the things that I want to keep track of. We’ll see. Another chance to get it right.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Christmas every month

I've always had planners, but I haven't always kept up with them. I've written before how my planner saved my life when Bob was in the hospital for so long a couple of years ago. The first day I took a notepad with me, and it was immediately apparent that I would need something more, so I brought in the A5 Daytimer that I was using at work at the time. I loved that size and configuration. It was the two-page-per-day version. The left-hand page had space for a to-do list, an hourly schedule listing and a place for phone calls and expenses. The right-hand side was lined, but otherwise blank, for notes.

I wrote down everything--what doctors saw him and what they said, every procedure that was done and the result, everyone who visited, my thoughts. Bob's two closest friends are doctors, and one or the other (or both) would call me every night and want a report, so I took notes in preparation for that and for their explanation of what it all meant. And once Bob came out of the coma and was home, we went through it together and I gave him a timeline of what happened while he was out of it.

I continued to use that planner when I went back to work, then put it away when I got laid off the next year, because I didn't feel like I needed it. I was still doing freelance work for clients, and was also looking for a job, so I did need somewhere to keep notes and record appointments. So I switched to a pocket Daytimer, with a spiral monthly booklet, and that was fine. Then my dad went into the hospital, and about a month later he died. My planners help me keep my sanity during times of crisis, and this was one. The pocket DayTimer was with me during the first couple of weeks when I was keeping track of doctors and phone numbers, and questions that I needed to ask.

When it became apparent that he probably would not come out of the hospital, the pocket planner wasn't enough, and I switched again, this time to a personal sized planner -- I think DayTimer calls it the "compact" size. It's the one in between the A5 and the pocket size. After he died, I had a lot of appointments with the assisted living place where my folks -- and now just my mom -- were living, lawyers, accountants, financial planners, etc., and again the planner was my lifeline. It was full of phone numbers, notes, questions I needed to ask and instructions for things I needed to do as executor of his estate and my mother's representative, as I held her power of attorney.

At some point I had gotten kind of bored with the DayTimer. Occasionally over the years I would switch to one of the decorated planners that Franklin Covey or DayTimer offered, but I always came back to the standard plain white and green. Which is very professional and businesslike, but sort of boring, so I started looking around for something else. I used a Happy Planner for awhile, and bought TONS of stickers and washi and different kinds of paper and that was cool for awhile, but I kind of got tired of having to decorate everything. The Happy Planners come completely plain, and all the decoration is done by the user, with the aforementioned stickers, washi tape, colored pens, etc., and I enjoyed the creativity of it for awhile, but it got old.

I had seen Carpe Diem planners in the craft stores, and really liked the look of them, particularly the "Reset Girl" line. I loved that color palette and the design aesthetic, so switched to that. It was kind of annoying because again, the pages are blank, and in the case of Carpe Diem, always undated, so you had to go through and date the thing, in addition to decorating it. But I liked it, and used it for awhile. Then we made plans to go to the Dominican Republic with some friends the middle of January. I knew I wanted to take a planner with me to keep itineraries, plans, and notes, but the A5 Carpe Diem was just too big to carry around. It was great for a desk planner, but not to take on a trip. Carpe Diem had just come out with a personal size line, so I stocked up on that. A new binder, new inserts, new stickers, etc. And it was nice, but still kind big to carry around.

So I switched to a Webster's Pages personal size. The pages are the same size, but the binders are narrower, so a little easier to take with me. So as I'm preparing all this, my mother went into the hospital and died within 48 hours, and everything became even more complicated. We needed to shut down my mom's apartment, cancel utilities, credit cards, insurance. And more lists were necessary. But first, we had to go on vacation. My mother died on January 5, we had the funeral on the 10th, and we were leaving for the Dominican on the 13th.

Somewhere in that timeframe, I ran across Cocoa Daisy, probably in my Facebook feed. I was joking to a friend recently that my feed consists of planners, knitting and cats. Not joking, I guess. It really does.

Cocoa Daisy is a company that sells planner inserts and accessories. They don't make a proprietary line of binders, they just make the insides (although they do sell some binders made by other companies). The inserts are heavily decorated, and are different each month. The January set was in a travel theme, with maps and travel images, and it seemed perfect for January, new beginnings, and yes, also, we were going to be traveling!

The company has a subscription model. I wasn't ready to commit to that, so I bought just a pack of personal sized pages to try it out. I ran across a black leather zippered Kate Spade binder in a discount store which turned out to be great for travel, since I could throw it in a bag and not worry about the pages getting beat up. I didn't like it so well once we were home since it doesn't lay flat when opened, but the pages themselves were wonderful.

As I said, it's a subscription model, with some items available separately, although they quite often run out, i.e., if you don't subscribe you run the risk of not being able to buy what you want. Which is very annoying, but also sort of genius. AND, the subscriptions close at certain times of the month, so even if you want to go in and subscribe, subscriptions could be (and often are) sold out before they are even for sale. I still wasn't quite ready to commit to a subscription -- you have to sign up for 3 or 6 months and there is a cancellation penalty -- so I ordered another set of pages for February. By that time, I had drunk the Kool Aid and was waiting nervously for subscriptions to open back up. I ended up subscribing to the monthly personal planner kit, the planner "add on" kit, and the dashboard kit. It's VERY expensive -- my subscription came to about $50/month with shipping -- and it's probably not really worth it, but it's pretty wonderful.

Then my OCD kicked in and I got worried that I was going to miss something, so I added a stamp subscription and a sticker subscription and something so secret they don’t even tell you what is in it (the “Classified” edition). I believe my AmEx got hit for about $99 yesterday. A lot more than I was paying for a year’s worth of Daytimer inserts!

The thing is, every month is different. VERY different. And you don’t know what it’s going to be before you subscribe. I committed to six months (you get a small discount by subscribing). January was travel themed, and the colors and design were very “me.”  February was pastel floral and the company’s mascot, Simon the rabbit. It was okay. Cute. 

March was peacocks. VERY colorful. April is umbrellas and clouds and lilacs, and May is going to be birds and typewriters, which looks like it’s going to be another one that I will love. Every month is different, so you can’t get bored. And if you don’t particularly like one month’s design, it’s just a month until you get a different one. 

It’s a lot of fun to get the box each month. Planner pages, stickers, rubber stamps, patterned paper, and often little extras like a pencil pouch, decorated bulldog clips, paper clips, etc. it’s like Christmas every month!