Home > Archive: May, 2013

Archive for May, 2013

Some Good News

May 30th, 2013 at 04:57 pm

All of my university dept colleagues got a very odd letter yesterday that no one could figure out. We've been strongly advocating for more money. If I told you what I was paid, you'd weep. Really. It's why even during the busy semester virtually everyone has extra jobs. Anyway, seven years ago the university agreed to pay people a very small amount ($300 annually) every year to support retention. No one has received any kind of a non-title raise in almost 10 years, so even that small amount was welcome. Well, two years later, they just stopped paying it. No explanation, no nothing.

Every time we asked about it, we were told the money was just no longer available. Yet there seemed, for a while, to be money available for new hires getting paid more than we were. They like to call this salary compression. I guess I have another name for it.

Our department chair told us there was no money, and morale has been very low. A good friend who just won a teaching award told the chancellor--at a planned photo op--that she was quitting because she couldn't afford to work here anymore. So, out of the blue yesterday we all received a letter saying that they'd start this again. And some of it--though how they figured it is very bizarre--will be paid retroactively--very very slowly. To make up for years of NOT paying it, they'll add another $50 each year. Now that may make up for it by the time I retire. But a whopping $233 extra landed in my June 1 paycheck. I know I should be happy about it, and I sort of am, but it again raises the issue of how lousy it is there. Sigh.

A Splendid Day

May 30th, 2013 at 02:39 am

I had coffee with two of my London students today--their idea. It was really nice to see them and catch up. Then lunch with an old friend from grad school. Neither of these was very expensive, and both were very fun.

That $12 and a quick trip for the milk special at the grocery store was about the size of today's spending. I have more folks interested in my books, so I'll sort that out tomorrow.

The only off note of the day was the chimney contractor recommended by a friend in the construction business. I'd e-mailed them asking for a quote. They returned my e-mail saying they could do a free quote in three or so weeks, but if I wanted a quote before then, it would be $125 to QUOTE it. Really? I dismissed them with a pleasant enough--but honestly--a little peeved e-mail. Have any of you heard of that?

Pricing Books and IKEA Spending

May 28th, 2013 at 04:47 pm

We had an expensive trip to IL yesterday. Our IPass needed to be replaced in IL, and we needed to get DD a new desk. We bought her one at IKEA. I wish I could say we saved a lot on it, but we did get a free lunch for all of us with the purchase. So maybe we saved $30? Or not.

DH spend most of the evening putting the thing together, and it's very nice. I can actually imagine her having it for years to come.

I'm pricing books for my scholarly list. I sold one of them for $50, so am happy to have it go to someone who will use it, and happy to get these off my shelf!
I hope the bulk of the rest of them go too.

More, yes, more

May 26th, 2013 at 06:02 pm

The decluttering continues more fast and furious than I expected. The Turbotax software I listed sold within hours as did a book. That adds another $16 to the May totals. And we took another bag to Half-Price Books for $8.

And now for the big push. I spent a couple hours Friday night inventorying some of my old books. Many of them seemed not really necessary, especially if it meant hauling them all down to my university office. I belong to a sort-of scholarly discussion list, and I decided to see if any of my fellow list members were interested in them.

Man alive, I had no idea. I think I'll be able to sell 20 or more to them. Amazing. It's doubly nice since many of those same list members were so helpful in my work.

Some of this was prompted by our discussions the past week about potentially moving back to the UK. It's certainly not imminent, but now back on the radar.

Up on the Rooftop

May 24th, 2013 at 06:26 pm

Last night DH spotted a stain on the living room ceiling near the chimney. A quick peek into the attic revealed some wet patches, so our roofer came out this morning. Problem was--it wasn't the roof or the flashing, it's the tuckpointing on the chimney. We'd been told that before, but it seems like a bigger job now and semi-urgent.

I scoured Angie's List and got a recommendation from the roofer, and have called their top picks. Not thrilled about another outlay of cash, but it has to be done.

In other household news, I've packed up three or four dozen books I used years ago for my dissertation and am taking them to my university office. I rarely need them here, and I'm hoping to donate them to the university special collections if they're interested. But my home office is jammed and I need the shelf space. Some more books will go to the reseller too. And I listed more software on ebay.

Yep, declutter is becoming my middle name.

More Selling and yes, Decluttering

May 23rd, 2013 at 05:23 pm

This morning I decided my home office really needed a good cleaning. I sprayed down the desk, cleared all the books off of it, and went through all the piled junk.

Besides being satisfying (and frustrating), it's been profitable.
I have five back years of Turbotax programs, so I listed some on ebay. More to list there later. Then I unearthed a bunch of books, disused textbooks, and gifts mostly. I listed one for very cheap on Amazon, and it sold in five minutes. I probably could have held out for a few $ more, but am headed to the post office with my ebay sales, so let's get it done.

I've been missing my London students, and two of them e-mailed me this morning wanting to have coffee next week. A bunch more chimed in on Facebook too. What a wonderful, rewarding, fabulous experience. I am keen to go again next year!

Ebay Successes and Class Woes

May 21st, 2013 at 07:11 pm

Just got the news that my summer class was cancelled for low enrollment. Classes across campus were cut, so I don't feel singled out; we just have summer enrollment problems. Students need to work.
Unfortunately, that was, by far, the biggest income source of the summer, so some cutbacks will have to happen.

But in happier news, I'm so glad I listed my ebay items. The total sales were just about $50, so I'll add that to my $15 from the HalfPrice Sales for this month.

Encouraged, as always, by CCF, I did some extra Swagbucks activities and donated the Swagbucks to the Red Cross.

Now to declutter and find more items to sell!

Declutteirng and Selling Successes

May 20th, 2013 at 02:10 am

I'm tickled at the multiple bids on my ebay auctions, and even happier at the cash we got for DD's outgrown books at Half Price Books today. None of them had much value on Amazon, but we made a quick $15 on a bagful there.

Even better than the cash is that these needless items are out of our closets and off our bookshelves. Today I dipped into DH's dresser drawer and found four pairs of old eyeglasses that are in the bag for donation tomorrow. I see the Lions' Club still takes them, but even easier is the local Lenscrafters works with an organization called OneSight. And there's a LensCrafters very near.

I'm so eager to get more stuff out of here!
No spending except for church. It's been a productive and cheap weekend!

Decided to Tutor

May 18th, 2013 at 07:12 pm

Yep, I took a six-week, one-night-per-week tutoring gig that starts after 4th of July. It's a nice chunk of change that I would happily put toward the bathroom remodeling or new family room carpet.

I had a lovely end-of-semester lunch for my university gals yesterday. I hate to brag, but the black bean and sweet potato enchildas were fabulous. And so was the rhubarb cake from Martha Stewart's site. And now my house is clean!

We did a volunteer morning at an inner city church this morning. All of our time was spent weeding and replanting, and now that I'm dirty, I'm going out in our yard. Look for me in the ibuprofen aisle tomorrow.

And the long-dreaded ebay listings are selling! Hooray!

Still Thinking but Selling!

May 16th, 2013 at 05:23 pm

Finally! I got six items listed on ebay today, found another stack of outgrown summer clothes, and after lunch, am headed to drop some of this off.

I am super-happy to get this stuff listed; it's been haunting me for weeks.

In potentially positive news, I had one of my London students e-mail me looking for a summer independent study. The dept doesn't like to offer that, but her summer class got canceled and she needs a specific credit. That would be a lovely bit of extra cash.

Still thinking about the tutoring. And the lack of required prep does make it more attractive.

Thinking About Work

May 16th, 2013 at 03:27 am

I've been offered a PT one evening a week tutoring job for a couple months this summer. The pay is good, and I'm thinking about it. But with my other class, it means two evening away from home in July and August, which is not my ideal. But I'll be spending most days with DD, so perhaps three extra hours away wouldn't be so bad?

I'm just not quite sure.

In other news, the decluttering continues. Tomorrow I'm dropping off books at a local charity with some also going to Half Price Books. And DD seems to have outgrown virtually all her summer clothes, so I've made a bag of them for a friend. Tonight I pitched several lone earrings.

Cranky Cranky Cranky

May 14th, 2013 at 02:44 pm

That was me yesterday. It was one of those days when every minor thing went wrong, from my DH dropping a container of juice on the floor, to a terse e-mail from one of DD's teachers, to her stress about a math test, to NONE of the A/V working in my classroom last night, followed by the vending machine eating my money.

None of this was major, but I did make a big cocktail when I got home. Those annoyance, coupled with the dog's cone-induced moping has made this an unpleasant household.

But today is a new day and I'm intending to make it better. More decluttering, more sleep, and a lovely Amazon gift card from e-miles.

Dog Surgery Day

May 10th, 2013 at 05:25 pm

The dog had her ACL repaired today. Let's not talk about how much it costs. Ugh. But it seems as if she came through it ok, and we'll be glad to have her home. Six weeks of limited activity will be tough for her, but by the end of June, she should be back in business.

I did decide to stay home from the funeral. I'll use the extra money I saved from not driving to add to the memorial.

It's VERY cold and rainy here today, and I've devoted the day to class prep and house cleaning. More decluttering in store for me! I picked up a stack of books yesterday sent by publishers as publicity. There's virtually no value in reselling them, so I'll look them over and donate to the local library sale.

I hope it warms up for us this weekend! Happy Mothers' Day weekends to all you celebrants!

Trying to Prioritize

May 9th, 2013 at 01:43 pm

There are about a dozen things that all need doing at the same time time, so some decisions had to be made. First, some sad news. One of my old high-school friends who always struggled with depression had died. They suspect suicide, but we're broken up about this.
The funeral is tomorrow in Minneapolis, but I don't think I can do an overnight trip and another 12-hour drive by myself only three weeks after returning.

I investigated airfares (staggering) and even the megabus, but the time is the major factor.

I also have a departmental meeting today that I should attend,but the dog's pre-surgical consult is at that time, and I'm trying to spend extra time with DD as she is really struggling with her math.

I will go in to the university today and start putting up flyers for next year's study abroad session as I promised.

But today is family and dog first.

Back to Work

May 6th, 2013 at 08:01 pm

Teaching begins again with my evening Mysteries class tonight. I'd rather be home dejunking, but especially with my summer class in jeopardy, I'm glad to have the work. I only have 11 students, but I suspect I'm a bit spoiled with all the English majors I had in England. These evening classes contain lots of folks who take lit classes only because they need the credits and spend a lot of time complaining about having to read.

Speaking of having to read, I came home from the library with another big pile of books yesterday. I read three books last week. How fun is that?

I also took a very long walk this afternoon. I've sort of decided that I need to tackle two things that never seem to get done. I need to lose about 20 lbs, and I need to get my house consistently clean and clutter free. Thus the long walk and the continuing piles of things I'm finding to get rid of.

Last night I cleaned some files as I was searching for a short story copy I'm using tonight. I tend to keep multiple copies of teaching materials, but recycled a pile a foot tall.

Did I report I finally did the taxes this weekend? We filed for an extension as we were still in the UK when the deadline rolled around. We're getting a refund, but think I probably need to adjust withholding as this will be our last year claiming a mortgage interest deduction. I'm glad to have that done!

How Much to Tip?

May 3rd, 2013 at 07:49 pm

I suspect we've had this discussion before but I'm still not quite sure how much to tip my haircutter. I do about 10 percent, but the receptionist looked at me a little oddly today, and I wonder if I'm way under?

It's super cold and rainy here, so I spent 45 minutes in my closet. How's that for a defensive strategy? Actually, I was busy decluttering and left for the hairdresser with a towering bag. Yep, I still had the sweater I wore when DH made his first trip to the US 14 years ago. And many other similar treasures. A big bag went to the charity shop already, so I am pleased. I did stop at the library where I left with a similar tower of books, but at least they won't be permanent residents in my house. I've been reading _City of Women_ about Berlin during WWII. Some of it is very good, but the overabundance of steamy scenes read more like male fantasy than reality. But the good writing is very good.

I also hauled home five Helen Mirren films and shows from the library. I didn't realize I was on a Helen Mirren tear until the third one, then I just stuck with the theme.

A few groceries for the weekend including half price chickens and steak at Fresh Market and I'm ready for more decluttering and some reward reading.

Off the Hook

May 3rd, 2013 at 03:44 am

Ah, the final word came at noon today: No jury duty and no more for another four years. As much as I'd like to think I have the demeanor for an all-star jurist, I suspect they'd eliminate opinionated me pretty quickly.

To celebrate, I cleaned the bathroom. Further news on that exciting front on the decluttering forum. But I did find a very strange pint ice cream container full of some liquid and pine needles stashed in the back of the bathroom vanity. My DD gets these hare-brained ideas to cook up flower or pine scented lotions etc. Who knows how long that's been there.

I've finally been able to make a vet appointment for the dog's surgery. The cost is daunting, but we love the dog.

Little Bits

May 1st, 2013 at 02:11 pm

Looks iffy for my summer class with low enrollments so far. I'm sending out e-mail blasts to former students today, hoping to raise the enrollment. I was halfway counting on the money. so let's hope it works. But the evening class also starts next week, so they'll be plenty of inflow.

I'm on call as a reserve juror today, but nothing needed of me this morning. I need to check in again at noon.

One of my ebay items sold for $6 this morning, so am adding that to my goals. I need to do a Target run sometime this week, but may hold off until I get the news on the jury.

I still need to list ebay items, file taxes, and continue decluttering and cleaning. I've made chili for the after-school program sponsored by church and need to frost those cupcakes. It's a calm but mundane life back here in Cheeseland. But I'm getting back into the swing of it!