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Archive for September, 2011

Windfalls

September 30th, 2011 at 01:20 am

I only wish it was a financial windfall, but it's apples. DD had the day off school, so we went apple picking with friends. We picked 1/2 bushel, but I was stunned at the number of windfalls, and had to restrain myself from correcting other people's children who saw an apple with the smallest of spots and promptly threw it (usually at a wayward sibling). We also bought a load of windfall to turn into pie and sauce and crisp and other delights.

Part III of Paycheck Drama: I e-mailed the payroll employee to whom I was directed yesterday. This was my second e-mail to her without any response. Today I got an out-of-office message, so called the office's general number. No answer, just voice mail. I left a polite but insistent message about my $700. No response by the end of the day.

I've made some decisions about home projects. We have plenty that need doing, but I'm putting off everything until our emergency fund is back to acceptable levels. That will be at soonest-- spring. Everything. Well, perhaps DD's room painting can happen.

Paycheck Crisis Addressed

September 28th, 2011 at 07:35 pm

Ok, it's addressed, but not solved. When last we left this debacle, the state owed me over $700 for their overcharging me on my health insurance.
Payroll says I should wait until November 1 for the money. I say I should have it now, I should have it now in unmarked 20s in a brown paper bag on my front step.

I do feel like they're holding me hostage actually. It's not my fault, it's their fault. I haven't been paid since June, and I want the money.

End of grumbling, but there will be more as this story develops.

Paycheck Crisis

September 28th, 2011 at 05:34 am

I almost freaked out this afternoon when I checked for the "preview" of my paycheck on the university website. My health insurance premiums were supposed to double under the (ahem) budget repair bill, but instead, I see the university has taken over $1000 out.
I almost lost my marbles.

Something is clearly wrong. It was after office hours, but I e-mailed several co-workers and this is not the case with them, so I need to get it straightened out tomorrow. I knew something bad would happen with three darn contracts and two separate employers within the university. Ugh. This stuff is always a pain.

Especially stupid and painful because I've been working almost 13 hours straight today--and tomorrow too.
Sigh.

Still Overscheduled

September 27th, 2011 at 03:55 pm

Lots of time pressure at school today, and I still feel like I'm constantly swimming upstream. But we had a lovely lovely (did I mention lovely?) evening hike at a nearby nature center. DD goes to a summer camp there, it's close to our house, and her favorite teacher does guided evening hikes. We climbed a 60-foot tower overlooking Lake Michigan, looked a some crazy wild mushrooms, watched red squirrels detach pine cones from a tree, and really enjoyed ourselves. I especially enjoyed watching my DH catch a bullfrog in a net.

Except for the "pennies for libraries" project at DD's school, I only spent on coffee.

But running to make everything happen today.

Paulette: I guess my hike counts as exercise?

Food, Food, Food

September 26th, 2011 at 03:33 am

Reading over today's posts, it seems we're all thinking about and talking about food. So yep, me too. It poured all day, and I made what was reputed to be "The World's Best Pot Roast" from an article in Cooks Illustrated. Not having eaten every pot roast recipe ever devised, I'm not sure I could swear to that, but it was pretty darn good.
Besides making and eating pot roast, I went to church, graded papers and did some lesson plans. I spent 15 minutes trying to think about how I could go to a Bob Dylan/ Mark Knopfler concert in London in November before deeply sighing and giving up. If I find $1000 on the sidewalk tomorrow, I'll send you all a postcard from there.

Grading Away

September 24th, 2011 at 03:59 am

I spent half the morning at the dentist where they replaced an old filling, redrilled it, and gave me a new one. Unfortunately for me, the dentist had a heckuva time getting the separating band off once she filled the tooth. After 15 minutes of hard pulling, she had to extract some of the new filling to get the band off, then redrill a bit more and refill. I was not amused. I came home looking like I'd been through the wars, took three ibuprofen and went to bed for a couple hours.

I got up after noon, couldn't open my mouth much and started grading papers and making chili. That lasted until DD came home from school. She'd had an upsetting day, so we relaxed, read Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis, and hung out.

Total spending was $135 out-of-pocket money for the dentist and another $18 for an evening family hike next week. Much more grading to do.

The Good, the Bad, and the Veggies

September 22nd, 2011 at 05:09 pm

Yesterday was certainly a mixed bag. Because I was so frazzled the day before, I had no time to bring a lunch with me. I hate to spend $$$ on lunch, and I'm always tempted by caloric delights after teaching three classes. But there's a new stir-fry option at the union food court, and I ordered one without rice or a drink to save cash. Happily for me, a former student was behind the counter, greeted me warmly (she must've forgotten my critique of her report), and asked if I wanted free extra vegetables since I was passing on the rice. Yes! More broccoli, fewer carbs, I couldn't be happier.

But again I had too many mandatory errands on the way home, arrived home just in time to gulp a cup of instant coffee, and pack up DD to head to my evening class. I ran into two former students, both of whom had recently been laid off. The economy seems to be haunting everyone around here.

My evening class went well enough, but I was so bedraggled when I got home, I stretched out on the bed for a few minutes and woke up 45 minutes later.

Today looks better: online class updated and off to a late birthday lunch with a friend.

No cash outlay yesterday except for the lunch.

Frazzling

September 21st, 2011 at 02:45 am

I need to remind myself that I can't accomplish the things I got done in the summer during the school year. My online class demands a lot of time, and although I'm home, I'm not free to do laundry, cook a big meal, make soup stock, go to the grocery store, the bank, and do other errands. That's what I tried to do today, and it didn't work.

I have two new preps this semester, and I'm swimming hard against the current. Hmm-- I guess I need to figure out what reasonable expectations would be.

But I did get some things done, and if I can finish my prep for tomorrow's face-to-face classes, perhaps I can get some rest and feel better tomorrow!

Paulette--I did get a walk in today!

You've never heard of a dictionary?

September 20th, 2011 at 03:21 am

Sorry to complain about students already--but I had several today that complained because there were words they didn't know in a story I assigned. I got a big laugh with my line, "Do you know the word "dictionary"?"--but I really shouldn't be that sarcastic.

Other than my caustic comments, it was a quiet enough day. Our local upscale grocer is having daily specials on things folks buy a lot. DD has been drinking smoothies for breakfast so I bought some 19ct/lb bananas. Such excitement!

Thinking Cheap Thoughts

September 17th, 2011 at 07:05 pm

DH is again hearing rumblings at work about layoffs. Just what we don't need. But anxiety like that always spurs me into action. I made a big pot of chili, headed to CVS with my coupons and extra bucks, and picked up a pork roast on sale on the way home.

Yesterday I sold a book too--so that will go into the Paypal account where I have "almost" enough for a single mortgage payment.

We were planning on Chinese food out tonight since I worked through my birthday celebration and we are without babysitter. But DD is complaining of mouth/cheek pain so we might just stay home. Bleah.

I'm showing Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross" in my class next week so I watched it again last night. How bleak--and what a good lesson it is on resisting sales!

BloodBath and Beyond

September 16th, 2011 at 06:34 pm

Sorry for the gory title; ever since I saw "The Simpsons" episode retitling Bed,Bath, and Beyond; I can't help thinking of it that way.

I dropped a quick $40 at the Bloodbath today. My increasingly dramatic DD has tremendous hair snarls despite the marvels of modern conditioner, so I bought her a satin pillowcase just like my mom had in the 1970s. Let's hope it helps with the back-of-the-head snarl which is more like a tumbleweed than hair.

Also purchased were more VacuVin corks,Britta water filters, and some of those socks with aloe and lotion for part of a birthday gift.

Our local BB and B is a strange place. They seem to be always hiring, even in this market, and their employees are incredibly chirpy.

Cross Your Fingers

September 16th, 2011 at 03:52 am

Our university has converted their payroll system in the last few months to one that is supposed to make everything smooth and wonderful. However, the summer payroll didn't go at all well, and some people didn't get paid until September. Special loans had to be made available; tempers were very frayed; it was ugly.

I have a more complex salary than usual this term because I'm "loaned" out to another college within the university and because this is the first pay period after my promotion. Both my regular department and the others are scrambling hard to try to figure it all out, but I think my odds are less than 50/50 that I'll get paid the right amount on time. I spent over an hour on the phone with various payroll people today as they tried to sort it all out.

We could certainly use the infusion of cash, and we're all hoping for the best in a couple of weeks. Cross your fingers until then.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

September 14th, 2011 at 02:49 am

and up your nose, and in your lungs... Apparently a forest fire over 500 miles away from us has blown into southeastern Wisconsin. It's been hazy and smoky all day, and both DD and I are sneezing and coughing like we've been snorting ragweed. I'd like it to stop right now. The weather folks said to close up the house and turn on the fan, but I think that's made it worse. Not sure quite what the best course of action might be.

I Know Books are Expensive but...

September 13th, 2011 at 05:05 pm

I'm having a spat with an online student this morning.
Although school has been in session over a week, she hasn't yet received her textbook. I expect that sort of thing to happen in the first week, but books are available at the bookstore (expensive) and there's a reserve copy at the university library.

This is a busy student with several jobs, and she is in a snit because I will not scan the second chapter of the textbook and send it to her. I often scan the first chapters of books and make them available to those who haven't yet received their books. As we here know, I'm all about saving money, and I understand that Amazon and half.com are frequently cheaper and take some time. But copyright laws and fair use guidelines prohibit copying too much information.

She tells me she doesn't have enough time to go to the library (really?), and her tone has become increasingly terse with me. I've offered to set her up with other students who may be able to loan her the text, but to no avail.

So I'm ticked off. I wish everything was free, but textbook writers need to be paid too. And students need to take responsibility.

Still Sorting the Semester

September 13th, 2011 at 03:17 am

It's just Week 2 of the term, and I can see that we're going to have to pare things down on weeknights. After teaching three classes, I'm beat--and Wednesdays are worse with the evening class tacked on.

But my classes today went very well--and I even overheard two students talking as they walked out about what a great class it was. It's a nice thing to hear as I spent hours last night prepping for that class.

Tomorrow I need to devote ll my attention to my online class, break for a little lunch and shopping, then hit it again.

We've started a new thing with our DD in the morning. We've set out lawn chairs on the driveway and sit and chat for five or so minutes before the bus arrives. It's been nice time and we're hoping to continue as long as we can.

No real money news--the only thing I spend cash on these days is morning coffee.

September Weekend

September 10th, 2011 at 03:59 am

I just like the sound of that: September Weekend. What wonderful weather we've had. The garden is still spitting out cucumbers, yellow squash, and tomatoes; I love Septembers like this.

After dinner we went out for ice cream and met lots of our neighbors there. What great fun for $6!

Only one small financial wrinkle; a colleague just e-mailed me about not yet receiving her contract from the university, and I realized mine hadn't come yet either. I'm just anticipating our stupid payroll system screwing things up yet again. Will check on it Monday.

Lovely weekends to you all!

Better End to the Day

September 9th, 2011 at 04:38 am

After a very rocky start to the day, things got better. I find that calmness and order in our home always makes me feel better, and DD and I sat and did homework together tonight, I cleaned the kitchen, tidied a lot, DH got the new router up and running, and things seem much calmer.

I'm scanning in a textbook chapter now, and am working out a new semester work schedule for myself tomorrow morning. I actually watched part of the football game tonight after watching the president's speech.

On the financial front, we received a new valuation on our house. The village said it would come three months ago, and here it is! I suspected it might drop with local property values, and it did, though only $5000.

I've updated the mortgage stats and should probably update retirement fund numbers, but that can wait a little bit.

Hit the Wall

September 8th, 2011 at 09:32 pm

Man alive, I hit the wall today. Yesterday's onslaught of students all with various problems, tons of work to do, some odd swollen lymph node, DH tremendously distracted by computer hardware issues, his job anxiety, house looks like a hurricane hit it--eek.

I ran to the university to upload and scan first chapters of my textbooks, since students invariably order them cheaper and shipping is delayed. I'll bet I had 45 students e-mailing me telling me they couldn't do the first assignments because they had no book. That only took about 90 minutes, but on the way home I was listening to NPR--particularly a story about a woman who lost her twin brother on 9/11, and I just started bawling. Her grief was so deep and so affecting.

Then I had a conversation with a good friend who can't meet me for my birthday this year. It's really stupid, but I felt horrible about it. And I woke up at 4:30 this morning unable to sleep, so I'm zombie-ish anyway.

All this led to a huge outburst of emotion and exhaustion. After working for hours, I fell asleep in the living room chair, and feel much better. What the heck? I hope this isn't a foretaste of the semester to come!

Long Day

September 8th, 2011 at 04:09 am

It's been a long day here. I started teaching at 8 this morning, taught three classes,had office hours through until 2:30, stopped for the sale on ground chuck, went home for 90 minutes, then with DD dropped off with DH, went to my evening class until 10.

My expenses today were just gas for the car and coffee--which is my fuel of choice on days like this.

Last night one of our more eccentric neighbors was taken to the hospital via ambulance at 1am. I suspect my whole block is pretty tired today.


Three Down...

September 6th, 2011 at 07:48 pm

Finally! I'm through with class planning for three of my classes, but still have that pesky fourth new class to plan.

I had a haircut this morning, and as usual, worry about my stylist. She has a volatile marriage, no health insurance, and she's pregnant. I over tip her, but she just seems to be one of those folks who is always on the edge of disaster through not much fault of her own.
Her husband's lost another job, and the insurance is gone too. Yikes--if I were her, I couldn't sleep at night.

Our banks seem to be racheting up the competition.
When I made a rebate deposit today,the drive-up teller started in on a sales pitch, and we've been receiving LOTS of checking bonus offers. Today the UPS driver dropped off a travel mug from from ING with their thanks for being a good customer.

I have dozens of things I should do today, but better get that last class planned or there'll be an awkward silence tomorrow morning.

Relaxing Weekend

September 6th, 2011 at 03:03 am

I do so love a three-day weekend with my DD and DH home.
On Saturday we headed out to the American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin. The Tempest was DD's inaugural Shakespeare experience, and she quite liked it. It rained through the first act, but it was lovely there anyway. We stayed at a local motel, DD swam in the pool, and we went out to eat. On the way home we stopped at Cave of the Blue Mounds, which was very interesting, then the William Tell Festival in this small Swiss town with a fabulous lunch there. We had a great time.

Today I got caught up on some school work and slept late. What bliss! Tomorrow the full blast of the semester begins, but today, while the blossom still clings to the vine.....

Back-to-School Planning

September 2nd, 2011 at 09:54 pm

I've spent all day getting my first couple of weeks of classes squared away. I'm about halfway done, and it occurs to me that the website prep takes at least as much time as the pre-electronic versions of most of my materials. But I guess it's cheaper and more environmentally sound not to make all those copies.

The university bookstore has neglected to order books for one of my classes, although they received my order last April. Besides being very expensive, the manager is very smarmy, and I always send my students elsewhere to buy or rent their books. This will cause some confusion in the first week, but I see that Amazon is offering free shipping on texts.

Another no-spend day since I spent it at home in shorts in front of the PC.

Happy Labor Day Weekend (yes, Rick Perry, there is such a thing as the Labor movement and Labor Day)!

Meetings and more meetings

September 2nd, 2011 at 12:48 am

While it's still days until the university begins, the meeting cycle is in full swing. It was nice to catch up with some colleagues and between meetings, I walked right into the freshman picnic. My entire department staff was there eating free hot dogs and chips, so I joined them, bringing the soda and cookies home.

I got to be the "bus parent" this afternoon and rode the school bus home with DD all along her route. It was very sweet to see all the kidlets rushing off the bus to waiting parents. It almost made me tear up.

So it's busy season again here. I hope I can keep the lid on my sanity and budget both.

Did I spend anything today? Nope, not a dime!

First Day of School!

September 1st, 2011 at 03:12 pm

Last night was my first class of the semester--my looooong evening class on Women's Lit. I think it went well. When I got home DD was still up, though lights went out in her room an hour earlier. She was very excited and nervous about today's school start.

This morning went well, although the bus was a bit late.
Our craft project decorating her backpack fell apart, so I envision another trip to the craft store for better glue.

I have a series of meetings and then a trip to the bakery since I assure DD that today would be "a piece of cake" and then promised her some when she got home!