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Quiet Days

December 7th, 2020 at 11:39 pm

Let's see; what's happened?  I'm in full grading mode and not doing much else.

We got a tree on Saturday.  The local nursery was out of Frasiers so we got a pretty balsam.

Half the lights are on as that's DH's task and he's torn between work, school, and home chores.

Honestly, we're all very cranky.  My DD is waiting to take her exams, DH is busy, and I don't have enough time in the day to get everything done.  We keep getting stalled on things like replacing the dining room table and curtains.  We get halfway there, but cannot find anyone to take our free and pretty table.  So both are in the crowded dining room now.  I need to touch up the paint where the old blinds were, but also need to finish the mountain of grading. 

This is the point in the semester where I wish I could lock myself in a room and have someone leave food outside.  I'd emerge in six or so days.    Isn't that Holly Jolly?    I think we're also just like the rest of the world, weary of isolation and sameness.  But will keep pushing through grading as best as I can.    Onward.

 

 

Donations and Looking Forward

December 5th, 2020 at 03:39 pm

My DD and I had donated a chair and a painting yesterday, so some things out.  I've also bought a London puzzle on a FB group that will need to be picked up this morning.  I did another curbside grocery pick-up which should see us set for the week.

We have a lot of Christmas prep ahead; I guess I'm hoping getting a tree up will help us all feel the spirit a bit more.  I'm missing my Minnesota family and friends a lot, but trying to plan some lovely new things.  I've unearthed a fondue pot from the basement, and think we'll do a fondue night.  Some of DD's friends will be home from college soon, and I think they may enjoy a fondue evening too.   But for now, back to grading.

 

 

Thanksgiving Etc.

November 28th, 2020 at 03:05 am

A Thanksgiving like no other, wasn't it?  My family opted for traditional food; my husband is such a staunch traditionalist in so many things.  So we've got turkey--and more turkey.  We finished up the roasted veggies, mashed potatoes and gravy--and perhaps because we all had pie for breakfast, the pie is gone.  Did a late afternoon Zoom with my Minnesota family, including a nephew in California.  It was lovely to see them, but I will admit that the USPS commerical with "I'll Be Home for Christmas" elicited some tears. 

My DD tells me her favorite singer, Phoebe Bridgers has done a remake of "If We Make it Through December" which I think I need to hear.  Lots of school work and lots of planning to come.

We did get a few things tackled around the house.  We had shutters on the dining room windows since we moved in, and they've always made the room dark.  My DH has hated them forever, so we unfastened them from the wall, and last night I ordered lighter curtains.  I'll need to do some paint touchups in there, but was really pleased with the huge selection of curtains available on line.  I loaded them and some old doors from the basement rehab years ago and took them to the Habitat Restore this afternoon.  I also stopped at the local garden center and bought their doorbuster $8 Frasier Fir wreath.  I've saved last year's bow and pine cones, so I wired them on and hung it up.  It was very satisfying to get all of that done.   I guess that's what happens when you don't grade papers for a day!

 

Costco, Sigh

November 21st, 2020 at 08:32 pm

I used to love Costco.  My DD and I would make a morning of it, shopping, sampling, and splitting a hot dog.  But I find pandemic Costco simultaneously wearying and worrying.  There are too many people there for my taste and I feel lots of (self-imposed) pressure to get it all and get it right.  I think I might be done with it for a while.  But I spent a small fortune there this morning buying everything from Thanksgiving food to Christmas gifts for the rehab home we sponsor.  Then I bought gas.  Then I picked up more stuff from the Target pick-up.  And frankly between the grocery store pick-up and the Target pick-up.  I think I can skip Costco until we're done with the pandemic. 

My friends and I spent some time yesterday trying to figure out why meal planning was so much more difficult now.  I think we figured it out.  I used to stop once or twice a week on my way home from school to pick yp a few things needed for dinners.  That doesn't happen any more so we're eating lots of the same meals over and over.  I guess I need to do more planning.  But at this point in the semester, nothing is planned except school.  Less than a month to go.

Isn't that a big whine about having so much food?  I should be (and am) a bit ashamed of myself.  Glad the sidebars are updated.  Glad my friends and family are mostly healthy and employed.  Glad my students are mostly ok and mostly passing. 

 

 

Flush That Cash

November 18th, 2020 at 05:01 pm

Since March, my DH has been mostly living in the basement.  His office shut down and he has been working from home 9-5.  Plus all his grad classes moved online and his thesis prep and his approximately 200,000 books are all downstairs too.  Other items downstaris include the laundry room, furnace, water heater, freezer, canned goods, and way too much other storage along with the treadmill.  And a small bathroom. 

Now the toilet down there has started leaking around the seal.  He's an ambitious but somewhat inept DIY-er and shut off the water, drained the tanks, and was ready to replace the seal which is about 40 years old.  Then he got stuck.  The seal was a mess, he's frustrated, and it's taking away from his work time.  he's paid by the hour.   So we've called the plumber.  They can reseal and replace the original old toilet, reseal and replace a new toilet we buy, or reseal and bring their own.  After a bunch of hours evaluating, we've decided they should do the whole darn thing.  Their estimate is about $750.  I guess I'm thankful they can't come until early December; we have two lovely bathrooms upstairs, and early December means another pay period before they'll want their cash.

This afternoon I'm taking a look at how much money I'll need to transfer from DD's 529 plan to cover her tuition, 2/3 of which is currently on my credit card.  As my dear father-in-law used to say, "So much spending out."

Despite our three-person and one small dog Thanksgiving, I got a 15lb turkey for 37cents a lb.  This was after I'd bought a turkey breast, but we'll cook the big one and save the breast for later.  I couldn't pass up that much turkey for that little cash. 

That's my spending report.  Back to work to finance all this.

 

Soup Time

November 11th, 2020 at 09:23 pm

Yeah, it's 45 degrees out, I've got wild rice in the cupboard, and a budget that needs a little help, so, as usual, it's soup time.  I love the Instant Pot wild rice soup I started making last winter, so will start a pot as soon as I get offline.

I'm trying very very hard to pay DD's tuition bill without moving money from her 529 plan or our savings.  I think I'll be short, but not by much.  And since they let me put it on the credit card with no additional charges, the cash back feature will repay it.  Trying hard for zero spending until the next card date rollover early next week.  So soup it is!

I went to my university office to work today; it's quiet as a tomb and not much more cheerful.  But I put the lamps on, turned on some music and got stuff done.  Unfortunately the kitchen was locked up, and my tempting casserole leftovers were not nearly as nice stone cold.  But we got through it. 

 

SUPER market Specials

November 6th, 2020 at 09:56 pm

I'm such a dork but I did a big happy dance when we got the grocery flyers on Wednesday.  Our "fancy" supermarket chain is opening a new store so has fabulous specials at all their stores.  I walked out of there with two gallons of milk for 99cents each, a $5 rotisserie chicken, 18 eggs for 99cents and #5 of potatoes for 99cents. 

In other decluttering news I got rid of a giant electric palm tree.  I'll bet most of you have never had to say that?  It was a gift from our next door neighbors who did theatre set design, but I was just tired of it, so gave it to a local teacher who is using it for room decor in his art classroom.  I also took a bunch of books and things like old lunchboxes, popsicle makers, and unused mugs to Goodwill.  I sold three books for $7 and gave away two more. 

It's been a couple of lovely days and this has distracted me from checking election returns every 15 minutes or thinking too much about the coming winter, the flu, COVID, etc.  The free flu shot on Tuesday helped too. 

Happy weekends to all!

 

 

Holding the Line on Spending

November 5th, 2020 at 01:26 am

We're trying to make November as frugal as possible.  Some of this comes from the desire to pay DD's tuition without dipping heavily into her 529 plan, while some of comes from wanting to accomplish a few home improvements. 

We'd like to knock out part of a kitchen wall and put in French doors onto our patio.  it's a bit complicated as there would be masonry work, moving electric switches and a heat register.  We also got a bid on a new front door.  I expected the French doors to be expensive, but over $3000 for a new front door and storm/screen door seems excessive.  I may need to get a new bid on that. 

So frugality!  Lots of leftovers eaten in the past few days and the only spending for the month has been $140 on ear drops for the dog's infected ear and the vet appointment. 

I'd like to update my blog statistics to show a deposit to the 100K goal, but can't seem to update those.  Anyone else have control panel issues?

 

 

Lots to Consider

November 2nd, 2020 at 05:23 am

It's been a busy time; online teaching, well, I find it draining.  It's more computer-based work than regular teaching with none of the fun.  But we're getting it done.

The biggest news there is that the university is struggling with their budgets and I've been informed I may be eligible for an early retirement package.  If they do offer it to me, we'll need to sit down and see what that would do for/to our budget.  I really am not eager for an early retirment, but I may take it.  I'd like to have more freedom than I have, and we're again talking about moving back to the UK.

Not much other news:  One of DD's friends came for the weekend.  Her university has same-day testing, and she was tested before she arrived. She stayed with us because her whole family--who she hasn't seen in a month have all tested positive.  So it was either another weekend in her dorm room, or a weekend with us.  We were happy to have her.  Lots of treats purchased, but we also have lots of leftovers. 

We're supposed to have some warmer days this week, so looking forward to going out for some longer walks. 

 

 

 

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!

Meetings Meetings Meetings

August 27th, 2020 at 12:36 am

The start of the semester meetings used to be fun. We'd bring in food, chat with folks we hadn't seen in a while, maybe go for coffee later. Instead today we had four hours of various zooms with the bad budget news tacked on to the end.

No new spending, leftovers eaten for lunch and dinner, and another meeting to plan tonight for delivery tomorrow.

I've added some $$ from SB and MyPoints to the 100K fund, but am sad to see my interest rate has now dropped to .6%. Ick.

Yesterday DD put in her notice at work, filed for her absentee ballot, and now we just wait for her passport.
It's gonna be a wild month for spending with airline tickets, housing, tuition, etc. Trying to be lean where and when we can.

Lots of Good News!

August 25th, 2020 at 04:46 am

Oh, what a good day! Her Majesty's Passport Office has cleared, printed, and sent DD's UK passport. We'll be able to avoid the visa process with its $500 fee and skip the NHS fees too. Now just waiting on its arrival.

In other good news, we took my car to the garage to investigate the annoying squeak. We were both sure it was shocks or struts. The mechanics all heard it too, but when they got it on the lift, they could see nothing amiss. And now the squeak is gone!

There's lots of bad news near us as you've perhaps heard. Wishing,hoping, praying and working for peace and justice.

Every Little Bit

August 24th, 2020 at 03:36 am

Quiet weekend with household chores punctuated by an unfortunate run-in with yellow jackets. Friday we got fed up with them as they've found their way into my DH's basement office, so the bee man came out and sprayed.

We also found a DIY solution that knocked off another couple dozen of them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FhifTGKtUQ&feature=youtu.be
They are yellow jackets--not bees or we would have chosen a more gentle solution.

In a bit of financial news, I sold four books and made $12. Every little bit helps!

Keeping On Keeping On

August 20th, 2020 at 01:30 am

We're still waiting on Edinburgh news and trying to keep busy while we wait. They've had two webinar/town halls--one of which guaranteed we'd have her necessary details to apply for her visa by the end of the month. And finally--eight days late, her passport documents have arrived in the UK. Trying to keep our eyes on the prize here.

I was delighted to see the news on record earnings at Target; I bought a lot of Target stock years ago, and have held it. It's one of the few individual stocks I own, and man, it's done well.

Besides a few quick purchases, that's all the news here. I ran into Costco this morning just for some salad mix, fizzy water, and a rotisserie chicken.

Eager to get out of the holding pattern and back to school. Someone please remind me of that when I start whinging about it.

Grocery Pick-Up Success!

August 15th, 2020 at 10:30 pm

Our infection rates are up around here, so I'm trying not to go out much. I did grocery pick-up today for the first time. Last spring we stuck to Instacart, then I ventured our for almost everything, but thought I'd give pickup a try. It worked out really well. I ordered online, and when I went to pick up they even took my paper coupons. I've been doing most of my big grocery shops at Costco, but have been spending too much--and that combined with efforts to donate a bag of food a week for our local food shelf has put a little too much of a dent in the food budget.

After that success I cancelled the Instacart subscription. With some forward planning we can handle the bulk of the shopping with pickup, an occasional Costco trip and maybe some fill-in fruit. Our CSA will run into October, and we have lots of veggies from them.

My DD is a little sad; still no concrete word from Edinburgh. None of the foreign students have received the required data for their visas yet. They're all in the same boat, but her local friends are all planning for college now--one left today.

And here's my rant today about the lack of USPS funding: Documents we mailed to the UK ten days ago have STILL not arrived. They were held in Chicago, 100 miles from our house for FIVE days. I'm madder than heck at the kind of shenanigans that pulls money out of this kind of essential service.

Happy Belated Blogoversary to Me!

August 12th, 2020 at 07:43 pm

I cannot believe it's been that long, but apparently yesterday was my lucky 13th Blogoversary. What? No card? No flowers?

Because I'm pretty sentimental I thought about all the folks who have traveled through this blogosphere like that lady from Atlanta, Retire at 50, the guy who was living in his car for a while, and another really funny one. Someone help me remember some of the others!

I've been determined not to go to the grocery store for another few days so we've had some slightly unusual meals. Last night's burgers were accompanied by kohlrabi fries. I just need to figure out what to do with the huge cabbage in the fridge. Maybe I'll try that eggroll in a bowl again. Or resort to store cupboard enchiladas for dinner.

In other mundane but satisfying news, my DD voted for the first time yesterday. I voted absentee, but am a dedicated voter, and hope she emulates that behavior. She was proud of her "I voted" sticker. And I cashed $35 out of SB and MyPoints to add to my big goal

I also did a usage test on some crackers, sampling three kinds they sent. For that I gained a $10 Amazon card that went for a wallet for DD. No other news--hard at work prepping for classes!

Lovely Evening

August 7th, 2020 at 10:27 pm

We had a friend over for dinner last night--socially distanced and on the patio. She lives alone, her law practice is suffering, and she's lonesome.

I initially thought I didn't have "nice" enough food for a company dinner but we had pesto farfalle with green beans, French potato salad, grilled zucchini and pineapple and pork tenderloin. I think we finally got grilled pork tenderloin right--it was delicious. I also made Julia Child's blueberry clafouti in a cast iron skillet, and I hate to brag, but it was wonderful.

Our guest is also a Brit, so we talked a long time about whether/how long we'll stay here or go. Her daughter lives in London and although her elderly parents are local now, she's thinking a lot about moving. It was a good talk. And I'm tickled not to have spent extra on groceries yet come up with a good dinner. The CSA veggies are the stars of most of our meals these days.

Lots of meetings today, and if it's hot tomorrow and DD is at work, I'll spend the day structuring my class web sites. I've done another session on accessibility readers and formatting, so much to think about.

No sign of the passport or CAS number for DD yet. We still wait on all that.

I've updated the sidebar with our big goal number. The increase is due solely to a couple of surveys and discussions. I'd sure like to see that at $10,000 by the year's end, but lots of expenses coming up.

Loads of Learning

August 6th, 2020 at 12:51 am

I'm spending every morning this week and next in sessions for improving online learning. I've taught online occasionally for more than a decade, but there's a lot of new technology and all sorts of tips and tricks to learn.

I had to laugh at myself today as I was somewhat astounded how many students access so much of their course material through their phones rather than laptops. "Who could use their phone as a primary learning device?" I asked my DH at lunch. He just stared at me and reminded me I access Duo Lingo every day on my phone for my language lessons.

Although I'd much prefer to be in the classroom, I'm looking forward to video commenting on papers, and some of the fancier parts of our learning management systems.

Today was a NS day. We ate up lots of leftovers for lunch, and although my DH was convinced there was nothing for dinner, I made a very good veggie-filled mac and cheese using up the last bits of leftover cream cheese, some questionable Brie, and subbing evaporated milk for the heavy cream. There is something so satisfying up using things up.

DD and I took our usual 40-minute walk today and for over five minutes we were accompanied by 5 turkeys. They followed us down the street and got a little too close for my comfort. But it was very funny. Another small joy for the day!

Interest Rates Down Again

July 31st, 2020 at 08:27 pm

Several of the online banks have dropped their interest rates below 1 percent. I expect they'll stay low for a long time as the economy struggles, but it's hard to scrape together any interest these days.

We're still waiting on the CAS number from Edinburgh here. DD has noticed in her online FB group of incoming Edinburgh student, less than 1/3 have their numbers, so we're not alone, but it does make planning frustrating.

In other frustrating news, our internet was down for two days meaning neither DH or I could get any work done. He hopes to make up some time over the weekend, but that's hundreds down the drain. I've been existing on cell data alone. So let's tighten the darn budgets some more? But where?

The dentist called and said we have a credit. Would we like it applied to future bills or a check? Check on its way. Our food budget has been slim, but the CSA veggies have been great and the garden is doing well--not like Lucky Robin well--but plenty for us. It's time for a fridge inventory.

I blanched and froze kale and expect to get through the week with no new purchases. And since it's turned cooler (Hooray!) the a/c has been off. I've been loving the NYT "At Home" section, and see that they want me to clean the stove this weekend. I think I'll take them up on that.

I see lots of banks have been sending us bonus offers to switch checking or savings. We really like our local bank, but would move some savings $ to get a few hundreds in bonuses. Time to consider that!

So cleaning, cooking, and thinking on the agenda for the weekend--especially if DH is working. We have a drive-by birthday celebration tomorrow night for my work BF. Might be fun.

Quiet Days

July 25th, 2020 at 12:35 am

It started out cool and lovely this morning, but it's turned into a hot day. At 5, I gave in and cranked up the A/C. Without it the old dog lays on the tile floor and looks at me like I'm making her suffer.

Still no news from Edinburgh, but our DD's drive-through graduation is tomorrow. She's so done that I had to talk her into participating and decorating the car. Lured by the prospect of a Culver's sundae later, she's agreed.

I'm also in a summer cooking slump. I made soup with a large head of cabbage and cooked down some marginal fruit to top my DH's bowls of oatmeal. Dinner tonight was a grilled sandwich and salad. I'm busy prepping for fall classes and spent ZERO again today. I feel like an extremely boring human lately, but I suspect I'm not alone.

Drips

July 23rd, 2020 at 11:57 pm

Three darn zoom meetings today--all with lots of bad budget news. I'm safe from more cuts besides the mandatory furlough days, but I've lost more staff.

The drips are small but good drips. Another $5 will go into my big goal from a MyPoints payout. And we got another load of CSA veggies today which made a nice veggie pasta tonight. I'll freeze some kale later for winter soups.

And still we wait for DD's CAS number from Scotland.

Lovely and cooler today!