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A Week Away

July 22nd, 2022 at 03:36 pm

I spent a lovely week away with friends in Northern Minnesota to celebrate my pending retirement as well as another friend's accomplished retirement.  We hiked a lot, had some lovely wine and cocktails and dinners, and best--spent some beautiful moments watching the moon rise over Lake Superior.  One of these women has been a friend since 2nd grade.  No friends like old friends.

I then headed toward home meeting some university friends in a town on the Mississippi where one of their kids is thinking about attending university.  I love them all, but man, traveling with others that get up at different hours, spend WAY more money on food and drinks, and don't like the outdoors is not my thing.  I did spend some happy hours at a minor league baseball game, in a bookstore where I resisted buying anything, and walking through the marsh and along the river.  I find it hard to imagine that someone's ideal weekend on a beautiful July day could be holed up in the hotel watching TV.  But anyway, each to their own.

It's been a hot one here, so I'm decluttering, selling books and rearranging crud.  Spending has been limited to groceries.  So many odds and ends to accomplish as again we count down to when DD returns to Scotland. Absentee ballots, doctors' appointments, money mgmt--I feel like we've done this all so many times before. 

Wishing you all cool and breezy weekends!

 

Another Good Dog Day

November 6th, 2021 at 02:47 am

Well, we've had another good day with the dog.  She's still struggling to eat, but I've cooked her a chicken breast and found meatballs are the perfect method of getting the antibiotics in her. She even went for a little walk today.  Crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.

It was a busy day with the opening of a new writing lab in our business school.  It's nice to see corporate sponsorship for something like writing.  But it meant I'm behind in grading and planning, so much of the weekend will be devoted to that.  I've been trying to get a decent walk in every day and am listening to Roger Whitney, aka the Retirement Answer Man.  I think his podcasts are aimed for people with a bit more income and assets than we have, but they're interesting.  Anyone else listen to him? 

It will be back to 60 degrees here tomorrow, so hoping to get a few tulip bulbs in and perhaps a pot of soup made. 

We've also booked our DD's flight home from Edinburgh the first week in December. Her exams are all on line the following week, so we'll have a good stretch with her home.   She's really settled in there and loves the university.  I'm so proud and relieved that the semester has worked out so well for her. She'll head back there in January.  I'm hoping to use some air miles to pay for her next flights.

Happy Friday everyone!

 

 

Running Around

August 6th, 2021 at 01:26 am

I feel like I made about 100 stops today--all errands.  I bought a new family room rug on FB.  I love it.  It's a year old, sells for $800 on Overstock and I paid $75.  We hauled it home, set it out in the sun to air it out, and brought it in.  Lots of fun!  DD and I went to pick up our CSA veggies, went for a pre-flight COVID test, dropped off veggies that won't keep or get eaten with a friend, returned library books, went to the bank, got coffees, then came home made lunch and hung laundry on the line.  After lunch we picked up prescriptions, bought a few things at the drugstore, replenished our mask supply and zipped up and weighed one of DD's bags.  Happily it both zipped and came in underweight.

We're awaiting the COVID test results and then will try to figure out how to upload them to the various flight portals.   Off to finish laundry and do some housekeeping!

 

Monday and August Updates

August 2nd, 2021 at 10:17 pm

I spent much of the day untangling messes at the university.  Three of "my" lecturers have found mre lucrative jobs, and we're facng our usual budget constraints.  Another quit this morning, so I'm scrambling for class coverage in a month.  Instead of hiring new people, we're going to try to offer overloads.  After the furlough cuts of last year, I've had a good response to my offers.   And I keep thinking about retiring. 

But enough about work headaches, we're nervous but excited about returning to Scotland. DD has found affordable (?) housing in one of those new privately run sorta dorms.  She'll have her own room and bathroom but share a kitchen and common space.  So far her new kitchen/pod mates include a girl from Trinidad, an Irish girl, and three boys from Aberdeen.  Sounds chaotic, but I think she's up for it.  We managed to cash flow her tuition last year and without housing costs, the year was under budget.  We're going early as my close friend (from second grade!)is getting married in northern Minnesota at the end of the month.  While we'll be gone two weeks, we'll get a chance to see DH's family and friends at the other end of the country too. 

We'll need to get DD a phone plan, a bank account, and an NHS doctor.  She'll need things for her room and the kitchen--most of which will be purchased there.

No matter what, it's kind of an expensive trip.  Airfares from Chicago through Dublin to Edinburgh are cheap-ish these days, but parking, airbnbs, trains, meals, etc, it all adds up.  But I'm focused on only one meal a day out and looking very much forward to it.  My English husband has never been to Scotland, so while we won't be able to fit everything in, it should be fun--and great to go away.  Sadly for me, my only moments in London will be the tube changing trains in Kings Crosss and emerging at Waterloo.  I may leave the family with the bags during the hour layover and go out and gaze at the Thames from Waterloo Bridge--sighing deeply.

 

 

It's Been A Time

October 13th, 2020 at 02:24 pm

Well, I'm not even sure where to begin with our Scottish adventure. And I'm not sure how I feel about what's happened. But here goes.

Our DD and I left on September 9 and had a long multi-stop, but mostly uneventful series of flights. We landed in Edinburgh, found a cab, and got to the airbnb without incident. And the airbnb--well out of the city center--was lovely. The wonderful landlady/hostess had picked up groceries so we could self-isolate. DD and I did take long walks along the Firth of Forth and to parks, and along the Waters of Leith, but no interactions with people. We had another grocery delivery, and I taught online successfully. We really enjoyed our two weeks together.

Then DD moved into her dorm room after a bit of shopping. Since it was the week following "freshers week," there was, as could be I guess be expected, a lot of mingling and an outbreak of COVID. I was due to stay in the airbnb for another week so we could get her settled, and because she had not been exposed, she came back to stay with me. She began her online studies, met all her instructors, bought books, joined her tutorials, and we did more sightseeing in our spare time. We climbed Calton Hill, went to Edinburgh Castle, art museums, and walked and walked all over town--the Old Town, New Town, the Meadows, everywhere.

We got her settled again back in the dorms, and the next day, two people on her floor tested positive. The entire floor was locked down (as were a huge number of other buildings and other floors) and they were not allowed out of their floor. Food delivery (sort of) began as they were not allowed into the cafeteria.

Two of those days, she received no food delivery at all. One day, she received two apples and a box of juice for breakfast. No one was allowed anywhere except the shared pantry, and they moved the positive cases elsewhere. After 10 days of this, she was due to come out of lockdown. Then someone else on the floor tested positive, and it began all over again. So at that point, the poor kid was locked into her 10x12 room with no human contact for 12 days.

She was pretty darn strong, but so unhappy. Student groups were calling it the Pollock Prison (the name of the dorm complex). It was apparent that this couldn't go on for her--as it threatened to keep happening.

So, we pulled her out. I rearranged her flights, made provisions for her to continue the rest of the year online, cancelled the housing contract, and brought her home.

We are all sad she had to come home, but it was clear the university was unprepared for this. The academic side of things is going really well; she's been doing online live tutorials, and she met people and has made arrangements to flat share next year. It's just not right to ask an 18-year-old to be locked in for weeks at a time. The university's food service has been overwhelmed, and the company who handled some of it has quit. They even asked for students, suited up in PPE, to deliver food to the hundreds of them locked down.

So, we're all home, all studying and working, and sad,glad, relieved, and disappointed. We both LOVED Scotland, and we can't wait to go back. More on the financial side of this when I sort things out.

Greetings from Scotland

September 11th, 2020 at 07:29 pm

On Wednesday DD and I arrived in Edinburgh for our 14-day self-isolation before she can start the university here. Because of the limited flight options we had a circuitous route from Milwaukee to Atlanta to Amsterdam to Edinburgh. I was far more apprehensive than usual about flying, but we seem to have gotten through things ok.

We had long layovers in both Atlanta and Amsterdam--about 10 hours total. In our terminal in Atlanta only one food option--Chinese food--which is not my favorite before flying with all that sodium. Amsterdam was a little more active, but we were so tired by then we mostly walked around and then sat and sat and sat some more.

We haven't seen much of Edinburgh as we're staying in the port area and are supposed to have no contact with people. Our airbnb host brought in our grocery order before we arrived, to avoid us shopping. We have been out for walks along the sea, but have spoken to no one except our taxi driver. Luckily the sea front is so beautiful, we've been happy enough staying in, watching TV, reading, cooking, and for me--working.

This is Day 3 of isolation; only 11 more to go!

Anyone Doing the Uber-Frugal This Year?

December 29th, 2019 at 07:32 pm

Thinking a lot about the new decade. There will be a lot of changes for us, especially with DD off to college and increased job stability for DH.

But first, Christmas. We spent three nights in Minneapolis and celebrated Christmas with my brother and his family. It was not as fun as last Christmas in London, but it was good to see everyone. Several complications caused by DD's working until 8 on the 23rd, then us driving five hours after that. The hotel room was a little more cramped than our similar one at Thanksgiving.

The worst thing was the problem with our 13-year dog. She's been having dental problems, and they've worsened. She wouldn't eat at all on Christmas Eve and couldn't drink either. This meant a fun midnight trip to the emergency vet in St Paul, but she got some relief. Between that and the follow-up visit to the regular vet on Thursday, it looks like an expensive stretch for dog teeth. She'll get a cleaning and possible extraction within a week or so. We're all tired now, but looking forward to cleaning up and doing some planning.

Determined to have some fun with the family until DD goes back to school, so we're off to see Little Women this afternoon.

Small Sale

December 5th, 2018 at 03:53 am

Yes, I sold a game for $8. We had a duplicate, and more than the cash, I'm happy to move it on out. I have much more to go, but I can feel the semester about to wind down even if there are almost two weeks left. My pot of soup made over the weekend was a nice no-work dinner tonight.

I stopped at CVS on the way home from work for some chocolate to fill up the Advent calendar

Still patching in some London bits. We've always taken the tube into London from Heathrow as it's the cheapest, but it can be a hassle with big suitcases, depending on the final destination. I hemmed and hawed over the Paddington/Heathrow express as it's pretty expensive unless you book significantly ahead. But I found we can take the non=express train right to Paddington for only a few quid more. And the airbnb isn't far from there, so I think that's the right decision. We have a long list of things to do before then--and it's only two weeks!

Advice Needed On Car Accident

October 23rd, 2018 at 11:49 pm

It's been a swell couple of days around here. Sunday morning on the way to church my car died. Three times. I was able to get it restarted and home, but have been driving my DH's beater (and I do mean beater) ever since. My car is no showroom special. It's a Volvo station wagon with a cool 153,000 miles on it, but I love it. Today it went to a new auto shop. We got an estimate on it and scheduled a repair for Friday. It needs about $800 work. However, on the way to pick up my husband, the shop's driver got into an accident with my car. Not sure whose fault it is, but it was a multi-car accident and we're waiting on the police report and condition of the car. In the meantime we have a loaner.

So, I know usually the insurance follows the car, but is this a special situation? Should the shop's insurance or the at-fault driver pay? Should we call an attorney?

I've called my insurance agent and left a message, but I don't know much right now. Advice?

Heating Up

August 28th, 2018 at 02:45 am

Oof--we had big crashing storms last night. No real damage here, but hours and hours of thunder, lightning, and torrential rain. A community just north of us had 10" of rain. And it's like the jungle out there again tonight with its hot and humid temps.

I spent half the day at a class on our new digital learning platform. It seems simple enough to use, but the transition will be difficult for lots of people. We have a choice of starting now, spring semester, or next fall. I've chosen to start with it in the spring after some kinks are worked out.

My DH has another phone interview tomorrow, and his ear surgery is a week from Thursday. I've canceled class that day--not my favorite thing, especially during Week One, but he'll need me there.

We had a lovely day Saturday in Chicago with a tour of the University of Chicago for our daughter, the Frank Lloyd Wright Robie house for all of us, lunch in Hyde Park, and a short field trip to Navy Pier for our ongoing history project. We came home exhausted, but rallied to go out for cheeseburgers. We needed a getaway, and it was good for all of us. Three of us in the house all day every day lately has given us summer cabin fever as the heat and mosquitoes have made the patio and neighborhood not as pleasant as I'd like.

Today's spending was $2 for coffee to get me through that three-hour tutorial. Seemingly hundreds of meetings for the next few weeks will require more.

I've cashed $25 out of Swagbucks which will continue to go to my big goal.

Unemployment Mood Lifters

August 25th, 2018 at 12:30 am

My DH is a moody soul sometimes, and unemployment has not helped him. He's still finishing up his summer independent study, and he's put WAY more into it than need be, but it's good for him to have something to focus on--especially since he really has to wait out the ear surgery before he can start anything.

And I'm busy with my back-to-school prep and our daughter's stuff too. He's been very reluctant to go into uberfrugal mode, and while I was a bit ticked off at him at first, now I see he's a person that needs a few creature comforts to help him through this. I've loosened the grocery budget, started to make a bit better meals, and started looking at UJK airfares for Christmas. He needs something other than the pre-surgery wait and the job wait. He did the presurgical physical today, and the doc filled in all the details for his annual wellness rebate. I'm in the middle of the "wellness activity" now mandated to earn the rebate of $150. The guided meditation option has almost put me to sleep the last couple days. But heck, it's $150.

We're off on a little field trip tomorrow. I'll fill in the details when we return.

Back to Bad News

August 7th, 2018 at 10:08 pm

Despite many too-long driving days, DD and I enjoyed our road trip, particularly lots of hiking and friend time on the North Shore of Lake Superior. We were not especially frugal, but managed a tour of the University of Minnesota, an overnight with my brother, my aunt's funeral, three days of lovely hiking, West Side Story at the Guthrie Theater before we arrived just in time for me to teach my evening class last night. My DH met us in the parking lot, ready to take the cooler and DD home. But then the not-so-good news: he got laid off without warning yesterday afternoon as part of a corporate reorganization. They gave him two weeks of severance pay, and out the door he (and three others) went.

He was pretty shook up, and I can't say last night was my most successful class ever after that news. But onward, right? He's been there 18 months, and the stress has been pretty awful. Tomorrow he'll start the unemployment process, and we'll do a financial review. But he's on my health insurance, so no worries there. Honestly, as worrying as it may become, I'm sort of relieved. He could use some time off, and his ear surgery is in a month. As usual, my first impulses are all about a fridge inventory, a review of the bills, and then a renewed focus on my job. I've got a full schedule of teaching in addition to adjunct classes through the end of the year. With some minor belt tightening, we should be fine. Remind me of that, please, should this drag on.

Not Quite the Road Trip I Had in Mind

July 30th, 2018 at 02:10 pm

Well, I was longing for a road trip for the summer, but be careful what you wish for? We got the news Thursday that my 100-year-old aunt had died. We were very close when I was kid, and I took the train to visit them in Montana a couple of times. We saw her last fall for her 100th birthday party in Fargo, ND. This is also the week that DD and I were headed to northeastern MN with my Minneapolis girlfriends to spend time on the North Shore of Lake Superior. DD and I were also planning on a stop in Minneapolis for her tour of the University of Minnesota, an evening with friends with dinner and the theater.

It means a lot to all my family that we make the trek, so our revamped plans include leaving tonight after my class (ugh), stopping tomorrow morning at the U of M, driving to my brother's lake home in central MN, then the next morning to Fargo for the funeral. That afternoon we will drive across Minnesota to the North Shore where I will drink lots of wine and collapse in a heap. I hope we'll have great weather, can hike, reconnect with friends, and just enjoy life and being outside. We've tacked another day onto the end of the trip so we can use our theater tickets, but that means we will probably arrive back to Cheeseland just in time for me to teach next week's class.

As the North Shore part of this was planned as a girls' trip, and the logistics for DH to accompany us were headache-inducing, DD and I are on our own. We headed to the library Saturday, got an armful of audio books, and I'll pick up maps and other stuff today at AAA. I got an oil change and refilled my tires yesterday.

I was planning on leaving my car in the Twin Cities and driving up north with my girlfriends, but I can't see a way for that to happen. Glad I was able to rearrange the theater, but not looking forward to the drive. I probably should not have totaled the miles and times on Google maps. It's 23 hours and 46 minutes of driving and 1452 miles.

Lots of issues at work too. Hope to get those settled before I leave tonight.

The UFM Begins and a Fun June Ends

July 2nd, 2018 at 04:55 pm

We spent the weekend in Madison so DH and I could work on his history project and DD could tour UW Madison. Great hotel with some nice dinners out, but it was sweltering which put a damper on some plans. We met up with a former student, swam in the hotel pool, and enjoyed their lovely free breakfasts as well as the huge Farmers' Market. As an employee of UW Madison poorer sister campus, I was blown away by their fabulous facilities and beautiful setting. I go there at least once a year, but am always impressed--as was DD. Their offerings tick a lot of her "want" boxes.

We came home to a very warm day, but managed to unpack and get some laundry in before our power blew out with a strong rainstorm about 4. No electricity until midnight, but everything appears to have survived in the freezer and fridge.


Today's plans include a trip to the gymn, DD's French lessons, some meal prep for the week, and perhaps dinner with friends. Thankfully I have a gift card just waiting to be redeemed for dinner. My dear friend is headed back to AZ on the 5th, and I'm eager to see her again before she goes.

Back From California

June 4th, 2018 at 09:43 pm

Back from my little five-day jaunt to Bodega Bay with my Minnesota girlfriends. Man, we had fun. We got a VRBO right up from the beach, walked through Armstrong Redwoods, drank wine, hiked to a lighthouse and all around. It wasn't extremely cheap as it was a friend's birthday, but it was a lovely trip and really helped clear the mind and get me ready for summer. I used airmiles for the flight, and that always feels so good.

We had an interesting talk about retirement goals and our next travel plans.

Back to reality later today.

Updating interest on UK House Fund