Friday, July 31, 2015

A good politician

It's been an interesting couple of days around here. Monday and Tuesday the traffic count to renters house was over 50 and 60 per day/24 hours a day. As usual, we get nowhere with the dispatchers asking them to send a patrol car out. They want to refer us to the narcotics - which is just either an online reporting or leave a message on their phone drug tip line. We have done this regularly for 2 YEARS now. Nothing. Then they tell us if we want patrol we have to go over to the precinct and request it. When we do get a deputy out and talk with them, they all say "keep calling it in".....

So, Tuesday afternoon I went over to the precinct. I got the same front desk guy as last Jan or Feb when I went in for the same thing. He is pretty much worthless. Just sits there and nods at what I'm saying and give me no help. Tells me to report it to narcotics tip line. I said I do that constantly for 2 years now, apparently it goes into a black hole. Finally I kept pressing him for some sort of answer and he gave me a name and direct line to someone in the narcotics unit and advised the best day to call would be Thursday. Which, I did yesterday morning and had to leave a message and of course no return call. Then I pressed the issue of the dispatchers refusing to dispatch an deputy. I said "what do I do at 2am, when there is some strange person, usually with a backpack, walking up and down our private road and I don't feel safe that they are out there?!  He then said when speaking with the dispatchers to request to speak to a sergeant. I also said that we have not seen a deputy patrol our area for almost 2 months now.

In the meantime DH had decided to shoot another email to our county councilman's assistant. She was the one who set up the meeting a few months ago with the neighborhood watch organizer (who agreed that won't work in our situation). She is currently running for a county position. He wanted to let her know we voted for her and even though she (and her boss, the councilman) haven't heard from us recently, our drug problem is still as strong as ever.  He also gave landlord neighbor a courtesy call saying this is totally out of control the last 2 days. He must have talked to renters as that afternoon/early evening it really quieted down.....until around 1am when about 5 or 6 of the methheads were outside our gate just hanging out, making lots of noise and making gestures, as they know the cameras are there. A call to the non-emergency dispatch to request a deputy come out resulted is same as always, so DH requested a call back from a sergeant. When asked why, he said "because I do not feel safe for myself or my family and that is what the officer at the precinct told us to do". A minute later a regular deputy called back.

Yesterday morning, right after I left for work, DH sees this pick up driving slow down our street, stopping in front of our house, then stopped at the renters, came back slow, stopping again in front of our house. Then the phone rang. It was our district county commissioner.....outside on our street! He pulled in and talked with DH about the problem.  His first notice was all the illegal building code violations going on at renters and the landlords property directly on the other side of us. DH says, ya, we've tried that process but got nowhere, and he said, well, I sure can.  Then he said he was heading to a big county budget meeting (at the big new county facility near our house) and just wanted to see all this first.

Around noon DH gets a message from his assistant that the sheriff is also at this meeting and our neighborhood drug problem was brought up. Sheriff said they have added patrols now to our neighborhood.  Then around 3pm DH gets another call from the commissioner that he wanted to come back again and was bringing a code enforcement guy with him. They can see most of the problems from our property, without having to go onto the other properties. So, that is an angle that is being worked. He also said landlord will need a business license if he has rental houses.

It was a busy evening with drug traffic again last night, but it turns out one of the cars that drove by early evening was actually the commissioner out again! He was showing someone else the situation. DH is also sending him several of the pictures and videos from our security system showing all the traffic - one shows a drug deal done right in front of our good neighbors driveway.

I appreciate our councilman and the attention he is now giving our situation. Sadly, though, he also said our head sheriff is pretty worthless. Let's hope something gives and we finally get this resolved. These aren't just crappy neighbors - these are people breaking the law, day in/day out and getting away with it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The sugar experiment

Looking for something to watch on Netflix a couple of weeks ago I watched a documentary called Fed Up, about all the sugar and processed food we consume and how it relates to obesity. While I don't have a weight problem, I do consume a lot of sugar. I am constantly tired. I get through my work day and most evenings find myself having to take a nap after dinner. Most weekends I take a nap in the afternoon. I am tired of feeling so tired all the time.

Whether the movie exaggerates the issue of sugar and processed food (I'm sure to some extent they did) it is obvious I consume way too much sugar in my daily diet. The food I eat is, for the most part, all processed food, of which most all of it contains added sugars. In addition to all the sugar I don't need, most of the food isn't even "real" food with all the additives, etc. I watched several other similar documentaries and basically came away with the idea that I want to try and cut as much sugar out of my diet as possible (to see if it helps with my energy level) and I want to try to reduce the amount of processed foods I was eating (which is pretty much a given, when you cut out added sugar). I was also not going to use artificial sweeteners, which apparently have the effect of making your body think sugar is coming it's way and it's impact on the body.

I started my sugar reduction 10 days ago. For the most part, I have not eaten very much of anything with added sugar. Fruits and dairy, with sugar naturally, I am not counting. I also realize this will not be something I can just do over night, or even in a week. A lifetime of habits are hard to change. While I do have a bit of a headstart in getting off sugar - I do not drink soda. One can of soda has more added sugar than a person should consume in a whole day. My DH normally drinks 2-3 of them.  UGH!

Here is my typical daily diet for as long as I can remember:
First thing in the morning I have a cup of coffee, with 2 teaspoons of sugar and approximately 2 TBSP of creamer, with added sugar. (sometimes I buy the sugar-free version, with artificial sweeteners)
About an hour later I have some chocolate Carnation instant breakfast in milk. More added sugar.
If there are sweets at work (often times there are) I WILL eat them...donut, muffin, cookies, etc.
Lunch - Campbell's soup at hand chicken noodle or New England clam chowder. A granola bar (with more added sugar). When I am working from home I tend to snack throughout the day (yogurt, pudding cup, etc) and don't really eat lunch, per se.
Snack when I get home from work/while making dinner - whatever is handy: cookies, ice cream bar, brownies.
Dinner - oftentimes something processed that I just have to heat up. A couple of times a week I make a casserole or something from scratch (pizza) and about once a week we have steak and a vegetable (canned). We rarely eat salads. A common side is applesauce, but I have always purchased the no sugar added kind. Another common side with dinner is a jello cup.
Evening snack - again, whatever junk food is around. Chips, cookies, etc.
Weekends are worse for snacking on junk. I usually buy donuts and have 2 of those.

I honestly don't know who many grams of sugar I consume on an average day. I do know I about died on day 2 or 3 when my boss went to get herself some lunch and brought me back a chocolate chip cookie from Subway! I told her about my diet change and I put the cookie in the office kitchen for someone else to snag up and eat.

The past 10 days I have reduced my coffee to a smaller cup, add 1 tsp of sugar and 1 T of creamer. I haven't been able to cut this out yet, but each day the coffee tastes a bit more "normal" to me and I'm not wishing it had more sweetness.
Breakfast is a bowl of Organic "Cheerios" and Organic milk.  OMG, I love these! DD is hooked on them too and we are already on our second box of the cereal. No sugar added and they just taste so light and good. Other days I have a scrambled egg with 9 grain toast.
mid morning snack (if I have one) is usually a banana.
Lunch is an apple, carrot sticks, and some crackers that have no sugar added.
After work snack is some no sugar added peanut butter on the crackers - or even just off the spoon. Or a handful of walnuts or a hard boiled egg.
For now, I'm mostly working changing my breakfast. lunch and snacking and not worrying too much about dinner yet, though several times I have just had a big salad with organic greens, added with walnuts, cranberries, hard boiled egg. etc. Yesterday dd and I found some ogranic salad dressing with no sugar.

Cutting out the sugar hasn't been too bad, though I find myself craving it especially in the evenings. The only time I caved I had half a cookie. Have I felt more energy? A little, is all really. I'm still tired by late afternoon and evening, but other than one evening, I haven't taken a nap. One evening, after work I even washed my car, which I really doubt I would have done before. I still ended up taking afternoon naps during my days off last Friday - Sunday. As, I work on getting my dinner meals with less processed foods and added sugars, I am hoping I will see more of a change. I am also working on finding healthy snacks that I can have on hand, so I'm not tempted by the bucket of licorice or the chips and cookies in the cupboard. One thing I read was that your skin improves with cutting out sugar, so much that several articles/blogs I read they said other people actually noticed the change in their skin. Before starting this I felt my skin on my face. It pretty much felt like I was brushing my fingers across a piece of cardboard! Now it feels softer and smoother. I don't think I'm imagining it.

I am also trying to buy organic now and that is a whole new world. Walmart doesn't carry a whole lot (but those "cheerios" are excellent!) and I may have to start doing some of my shopping at another nearby grocery store that has much more selection of organic (where we found the salad dressing) produce and dairy.  Honestly, the thought of eating foods that are filled with additives, growth hormones, and gmo's just makes me sick, along with the conditions those animals are kept in. Somehow a chicken or cow that gets to graze outside and actually eat grass and grains, rather than modified food so they will grow faster, seems like the way to go.  It's definitely more expensive food, but seems worth it. DD and I both liked the taste of the organic milk (at twice the cost) so much better. I also like the thought of eating produce that isn't sprayed with chemicals and pesticides.

I know so many have strong opinions on what people should eat and there are so many debates on whether to eat meat and dairy. I honestly don't care what anyone else eats (I'm not even going to try to convert DH) and my diet and (new) opinions on foods won't be preached to others. I really don't like reading or hearing people on their high horse about what is the right foods to eat, like their opinion is the only way.  I'm just doing this for me, and hopefully start to feel a bit more healthy. I'm not counting calories, or trying to lose weight. I just want to eat better and hopefully feel healthier.

On to day 11!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dodged a bullet

The oil leak on DD's car turned out to be an easy minor fix. It was just a ferrule fitting that had come loose on an oil line on the engine. Easy to get to and a quick 5 minute fix. Whew!!! We are all super relieved and turns out friend had other errands down in our neck of the woods so he really didn't have to come out of his way much.....and hey - now we have a car trailer we don't need! Just kidding. Though it won't get used a lot, there are definitely times it will get used and for the minimal cost we put out for it, it will get it's use. I'm also happy that DH was willing to just find something used and low priced, especially for something that won't be needed on a regular basis. We didn't need anything fancy, that's for sure.

DD ended up staying home yesterday waiting for our friend to show up to work on her car. We really had no idea what time (just sounded like afternoon) and she spent most of the morning kind of whining to me that she could go with BF and his family to take relatives sight seeing and be back by about 4:45. But they weren't even leaving until noon. I said it's going to take a lot longer than 4 hours to sight see, based on where they were going. (Plus, I know her BF and family - there was no way 8 or 9 of them were all going to be ready to leave by noon.) Finally, I just said to her "you know my feelings on this, I'm not saying anymore. It's your decision". Afterwards, she told me it was the right decision to stay home, because they didn't even leave until 1:30 and didn't get back until like after 6:30pm. Even though her car ended up being a simple fix, I think it was important that she was here - it is her car and responsibility.

We finally had some much needed rain this weekend, but back to the 80's this week. I just got an email from my boss that the office is pretty quiet this week - owners and other managers off on trips or vacation, so I'm free to work from home as much as I'd like. I told her I'd come in today, but work from home tomorrow. Sometimes I just need a break from home, haha.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Oil leaks again

Even though it was just Wednesday that I last made a post, it feels longer than that.  DD is having car problems again - still with the engine leaking oil. GAH! She had quite a bit of engine work done about this time last year and still has had it in another time or two since then. She just needs this to last about 10 more months, until she finishes school and can get a job and a different car.  We have a close family friend, who owns a repair shop, who works on it. Problem is he's like an hour and a half drive on a good day (which is like rare anymore). DH doesn't think she should even drive it at this point, it's leaking so bad, so good friend said he would come to our house and see if he could figure out what it's problem is now and fix it. (he really is a nice guy and barely charges DD anything).

First, friend told DD he would come down sometime next week to look at it and see if he could fix it at our house (without it having to be towed to his place). Very nice of him. Then, he either talked to DH last night or this morning and said he'll come down Sunday instead, look at it and either have lunch or dinner with us, depending on when he got here. DD has been gone all weekend with her BF and I was pretty sure they had plans for tomorrow too. I texted her that friend was coming sometime tomorrow lunch or dinner time, not sure yet.

She was like "well, I can't be there tomorrow, I have plans" (her plans are hanging out with BF and doing some sightseeting with some of his out of town relatives). I kind of had to do a little tune up on her. I said you have a vehicle that is leaking oil really bad, driving it all the way to friends shop for an hour and a half to 2 hours could very possible seize up the engine and it would be done for. Said friend is going out of his way to come and try and fix your car and for cheap. If it were me, I'd be changing my plans so I could take care of my car.  Coordinating with friends schedule and getting her car fixed takes priorty over having some fun. Sometimes things come up and your plans have eto get changed. Then she replies back "well, it's just frustrating that the plan has changed again" and I replied, "well apparently coming down on Sunday is better for his schedule rather than making a 4 hour round trip during his work week! Plus, it's not as far for him to come from  home, as it is his repair shop". I got an "ok" reply back. I'm sure she's not happy, but that's part of being an adult and being responsible - especially when someone is offering to help you out so much!

In the old days DH would have just loaded it in our enclosed car trailer and took it to car repair friend. When son went out of our life, so did our nice enclosed car trailer (worth about $6k - long story) 2 years ago. DH has wanted to replace that car trailer for over a year. Yesterday he found a cheap, used, open wheel car trailer on Craigslist that would fit his needs. Nothing like we had, but still will work for his needs. It had good tires on it, along with a winch and equalizer hitch. He also talked the guy down $500 (he's getting better at that!). So, I pretty much reduced the savings account to buy it, but with my paycheck next Friday I will pretty much be able to replace what I took out. There's a few little things to fix on it (some wiring, etc) and that will give DH something to work on. One more thing "put back right" in some small way, after DS never returned so much of our family racing assets. Now, if it turns out friend can't fix it and needs it at his shop, DH can haul it up there.

Yesterday was my day off (gosh, I am loving these 4 day work weeks with Friday off!). I had nothing planned, so I just went and did the weekly grocery shopping. First to Target for a few things, then to Walmart for the rest. After that a stop to fill up my gas tank for next week. I didn't feel rushed either. Usually I do it Saturday mornings but always feel a bit rushed because there are still so many things to get done around the house the rest of the day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Daily stuff

I worked from home yesterday, so I could go with DD to her foot specialist doctor appointment. Her 2 big toes are AWFUL! She has always had really thick toenails on her big toes, but the last year or two they started getting dark, thicker and even uglier looking. When she was home on winter break I took her in and she saw one of the docs at the place DH and I go to. He prescribed an oral medicine for 3 months. Nothing changed and during Spring break she went back in and saw a different doctor (actually a PA), who kept her on the oral med for another 3 months, along with a topical antifungal medication. So, a few weeks ago she went back to the doctor (this time finally getting in to see my doctor) who told her those medications don't work and she was referring her to a foot specialist to have her nails removed.

Foot specialist, first off, said it usually takes a full year to see the results of the oral and topical medications. AND she was only supposed to be on the oral medication for 3 months, because it's dangerous to the liver (the docs did at least do liver tests on DD while she was on it), so he wasn't very happy about that. He also told her that if he removes the nails it doesn't grow back. His recommendation was to give it the rest of the year and see if the oral meds start working on the nails (he could see 1mm of clear growth on one nail). He ground her nails down much thinner and is having her apply some topical mediation. Twice a day on the affected toenails, once a week on her other nails and top of feet, just to be safe, along with some shoe spray.

Weekend before last, when I was vacuuming the last bit of the house, my vacuum started making a weird knocking noise. I tried to see if there was a clog. DH was super busy that day (and over-doing it) out in the shop, so I didn't want to bother him to take it apart, so I parked it back in the closet to wait a few days. I took it out and determined it was the rotator brush making the noise and assumed it was the belt. It seemed a bit loose and in 2 1/2 years had never been replaced. I went and got a new belt (which then I could tell the old one was really stretched out), but that didn't help. DH then took a look at it and somehow the rotator brush seemed like it got bent. It was not spinning evenly. Weird. I went online with Bissell and a new one was around $23. Then I found an after market one on Amazon for $15. It's made of wood - not plastic! When's the last time you saw that?! The reviews on it were all great and everyone said it worked better than the original part. Thanks to 2 day Amazon Prime shipping it showed up yesterday. I put it on, along with the new belt and worked like a charm. Plus DH had taken it outside and really cleaned it out. It was so nice to vacuum again. I was going nuts seeing the carpet - we get so much dog and cat fur.

DD was already approved for her apartment lease and signed the lease last night. They asked for a co-signer, since she is a student and no income. I thought it would be an application where I would have to give my employment, salary, etc. I assumed they would do a credit check on me and a bit worried that our bankruptcy might affect me being able to co-sign, but if nothing else, Grandma could certainly co-sign (she's paying for the apartment anyway). They emailed me the co-signing form and it was just a statement saying I agree to co-sign/pay the rent if DD doesn't. It asked for no personal info. It had to be notarized, so we ran over to our bank and had them notarize it and I scanned it and emailed it right back to the lady (plus she needed me to mail the original back). Last night, DD got the email that her lease was done and ready to be electronically signed! She was so happy and excited.

I will write more about this later, but I have started cutting sugar (and by default, most processed foods) out of my diet. Day 3........I'm surviving :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Miracles and small hope

After over 2 years, yesterday DH finally had a conversation with our junkyard/slumlord neighbor! It ended up being like a 2 hour very calm conversation!

We used to have a really good relationship with our junkyard neighbor "J". When we all first moved in, he just had the single wide trailer that he, wife and 3 kids lived in. He was junky, but he was nice. Then she divorced him (kids were teenagers or older by then. Then he moved in a cousin or someone and built his big huge shop at the back/bottom of his property, that he lives in the top of. Over the years one or two friends or relatives have always lived on his main property, but they were quiet and no problem and he wasn't the slumlord he is now. He owns the property at the end of our street also (where the drug dealing renters live) but he had moved his drug addict/felon son's ex-wife and her 3 boys into years ago, so they'd have a place to live. They were fine and lived there for years, but 3 years ago they moved out. Her mom lived in the place for the next year. Perfect neighbor. But she also could not stand the falling down condition of the place and was able to get out and get something better.  At the same time, we had been dealing with his drug addicted/in and out of jail adult son, who liked to cut firewood with his chainsaw or chop wood at midnight for hours (because he was tweaking), so we kept complaining to J.  Or he'd burn scraps and garbage several nights a week, making the air terrible (and it was against the law). Then, he moved "wonderful" renter family moved in the rental place and it's been 2 years of hell. Then about a year ago he bought the acre directly behind his rental place (with another run down trailer that isn't even really fit to live in). Currently he has some older guy and his drug addicted wife living there. The guy had been living with J in his shop for months, as he had separated from his wife. We talked to him at the fence a couple of times last winter, when J was out of the country. Nice quiet older guy with 2 little dogs. Told us why he was staying there. Now they are both living in the other place together, apparently.

So, yesterday afternoon DH is outside at the backside of our shed washing out the filters for the a/c units. This car pulls up in front of neighbors place. A woman/girl jumps out of her car, leaving the door open and runs towards the back of the single wide trailer that is right at the front corner of the property. She didn't see dh standing there on the other side of our fence. Then she is at the back of the trailer, where the power meter is, doing something (our guess is that one of J's "tenants" was using it as a drug drop). Then she runs back to her car. As she does DH walks to the corner of our fence and snaps a picture to get her license plate (not sure if she was trying to steal something or what from neighbor). She backs out back down the street (and it turns out then goes down to the drug dealers behind us). DH walks back down our fence line towards the big shop and sees the woman that has been (for 2 months now) living in an rv now parked next to the shop and asks her if J is around. She just rudely says "ya, he's around". So, DH tells her about this strange woman up on the top side of the property and what she just did and then J pokes his head around the corner of the shop, because he heard what DH was telling her and says "damn thieves, I'm sick of them" and runs up to the trailer and power meter to see if he could figure out what she had been doing there. DH just said he wasn't sure, but it all sure seemed suspicious and wasn't sure if she was trying to steal or break in or what.

Eventually he came back over to the fence and talked to DH. First time in like 2 1/2 years. First he complained about all the neighbors behind us (and him) that are the drug dealers that got busted last December. Kept trying to blame all the neighborhood problems on them (and not his renters). Drugs and theft. DH said, well the same thing is going on on our street, with your renters. He kept trying to evade it or act like he didn't really think they were dealing drugs, but he did come out finally and tell DH that he has recently told the renter dad that his 2 sons have got to go, or the dad has to move out too. J said he wants them out of there. (the boys and their friends are stealing from him)....but get this....turns out the couple that has been living in the rv next to his shop for the past 2 months......renter's parents in law! Plus the renter dad also has his brother in law living with them, and now some other female cousin or something.  J also kept saying he doesn't think they are dealing drugs.......c'mon really??? DH told him about 700 people/cars coming in and out per month to renters, that they walk out and meet cars on the corner, etc. 2 min in/2 min out type of thing.  He just kind of said "ohh" and sighed. Then DH told him that half of the cars visiting drug dealers behind us are also same cars coming in and out of his renters. "ohhhh..." Everything DH would tell him he would sigh and say "ohhh". I get that when he spends all his time down in his shop (or is out of the country for months) he doesn't see what goes on on our road, but he knows. DH said and of course anything I have tried to do to stop any of this has been met with "well that's just the asshole neighbor" because they got notion that from J! So J said well, we maybe we can work together to get rid of all this, but he doesn't want them knowing this.........not sure what that means, but DH said sure, whatever works.  He said he already has someone he wants to move into the place (which of course could just end up being same type of people/person)

Will neighbor actually get anything done and get rid of these? I doubt it, but again - like renter's son telling DH last week that his dad wants to move's a small hope and a small step in the right direction. These people just need to GO away.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The hunt is over

DD and I went to college town yesterday in search of an apartment. She had a list of several she wanted to try and see.  One for sure she had talked to (and viewed a friends 3 bedroom apartment last spring in the complex) that had 1 bedrooms available and did pre-leasing and would do less than year long leases. But, it was also the most expensive of all of them at $830 a month. An ok place, a very large complex and older. A couple miles from campus. Lots of students live there.

The only leasing person she got ahold of prior to our day trip was one I had found listed on Craigslist. A brand new small apartment complex (opening next month), but they were a year long lease. She really wanted to at least see the apartment so we had an appointment to meet with the guy at noon. Very nice apartments and $720 a month. They were just about finished - still needed appliances is about all. DD loved it, but we told the guy we had a few others to look at, as a year long lease wasn't on the top of her list of "needs".

We drove over to another complex nearby and actually found someone in the office, but of course she didn't have any 1 bedroom that were available to view (though a one bedroom was becoming available in August). Drove to another one she really wanted to see because the ad said $685 a month, including tv and internet and the pics looked really nice. Only to find out that website info is like 3 years old. Someone new owns the complex now and they can't get the old owners to take down the original website. Rent is now $830 a month with no free tv and internet. And no unit to view. Frustrated again. And of course none knowing for sure if they would have an opening yet for September.

As we walked back to our car it appeared her only option was the place that was $830 and available to reserve a unit for Sept with a 9 month lease (though we still had not been there to try see a 1 bedroom unit and no one answered the 2 calls she placed that morning). My mind started doing some math. The place she LOVED was $720 a month, but a year long lease. The other place she could do for the 9 or 10 months she needed it but at $830 a month - $110 more.  $830 times say 9 months = $7470 for the year.  $720 a month times 12 months = $8640 a year. Plus the more expensive apartment had a $200 non-refundable "administrative fee" that the other place did not have. A difference in total cost of $970 for the year.

We stopped and had lunch at a cute cafe and did all the math in my notebook. We also compared this to what it cost for housing and meal plans last year.  Adding in our monthly estimates for electricity, internet and food and it was still about the same as dorm living. (obviously it would have been cheaper if DD had been able to share with someone, but that was getting too stressful to figure out and rely on). Grandma had also said do not worry if it costs the same as last year. (though of course we did worry about it)

We decided to make one last attempt to view a 1 bedroom at the other complex, but no one was in the office,still. Then we decided that DD should take the apartment she LOVED, so she called the guy back and told him she wanted to apply and he emailed her the link to the application, where she could apply online and pay the application fee online. She also found out that she could let someone else take over the lease for the last 2-3 months. That apparently is common there in town and certainly an option she will try to take advantage of, to save some money. I would think they will not have any problem filling these apartments, since they are new and a good price and that she probably wouldn't have any problems finding someone to do a lease takeover.

The apartment is about 5 miles from campus, but also near a bus stop, that she could take the bus to school to avoid paying a parking permit. It's all new, no one will have lived in it before her. She will have a cute little counter on the other side of the kitchen where she can put 2 bar stools for eating at, and not need to get a small dining table (there wouldn't be much room for a table). She's not getting tv, so will put the futon (or whatever we get) in the living room, along with her desk and bookshelf. The bedroom is decent sized and the bathroom is huge and also has a washer/dryer. Plus she will have privacy and no roommates. LOL.

She is so excited :)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Work week over :-)

It was a good day for the most part. We have this software program we use for our business, tracking orders etc. We've had it for about 8 years now. A really good system, but we figured there was still a lot about it that is new/updated and/or short cuts we could be taking advantage of.  We brought in a trainer from the software company, who is spending time with each department for the next 2 days. I really had one thing I wanted to know if there was a way to do it (because I hadn't figured it out in all this time). He told me how to do it in about 30 seconds! LOL.  Then he gave me a bunch of other short cuts and tips that pertain to my job using it and boy - they were awesome and will really save some time! Every department was excited about all the things and shortcuts he was showing them.

DD decided to just break off things completely with trying to find an apartment with the remaining girl. It's just been too stressful for her for months and months now. They should have had this all figured out by last May, at the latest.

So, tomorrow (my day off) she and I are heading back to college town to look at several apartments and get where she will be living figured out and deposit put down. I know she will be very happy to have this off her plate and I think in the long run she will like having her own little apartment better than sharing. Her BF can come visit her on weekends and at least for the first quarter she can come home for really long weekends, if she wants. She only has classes on Mon and Wed - all day from 8am to 6pm. She'll probably be a bit lonely at first, but I think she'll adjust fine.

Apartment update

At 10:30 last night one of the girl's finally responded to DD's text that they needed to get this figured out ASAP. She had replied on Monday she needed to talk to her parents (about what DD didn't know) that night and then never replied back. Last night DD texted "what did you find out with your parents?" Finally, she replied back that her parents want to save money so she will be commuting from home next year (an hours drive) or staying at her grandparents cabin (a half hours drive) for next school year.

Oh my gosh. DD is so frustrated with these girls! She wanted to have their living situation figured out last May and both kept dragging their feet on wanting to wait and now after finally being pressed one backs out. I don't think the other girl replied back to DD yet, so not sure if they will still try to find a 2 bedroom together or not. If they are, DD is gong to make her commit and finalize on a place in the next several days, otherwise she is finding her own place.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Facebook frustration

I am SOOOO sick of trying to figure out computer type problems! Now it's DH's facebook. It will only load like 3 stories to his newsfeed and then either nothing below that or a "more stories" button to click on and nothing comes up.  Right now he is down to one recent post showing and can't scroll down to see anything else. It's not his computer that is causing the problem, because I can log off my facebook page on my computer and log into his Facebook account and it does the same exact thing on his page.  Works fine on mine.

I have tried googling the issue and only come up with things from two years ago and of course a thousand different answers on what is causing it or how to fix it (of course of which none work).

For once I just wish everything would work right at the same time!

Apartment hunting

DD has 2 months before school starts again and she and her 2 roommates still do not have a 3 bedroom apartment lined up.  The one they were all hoping on still has no openings. Tenants have until the 10th of each month to notify moving out the following month. DD doesn't want to wait until August 10th to find out they will have no units available for September. If that happens then they will only have weeks to find something.

There is another complex that told DD yesterday they have 3 bedroom units available. When she told the other girls, one of them said she called on that too, and was told there was a 20 person waiting list, but that it's first come to whoever brings deposits in. This is the complex DD wanted to get locked into back in May. They pre-lease and do 9 month leases. They could have put a deposit down last May and been done with the search. One of the roommates didn't really like the place, so they kept looking.

These 2 girls are driving her crazy. They need to find something and pickings are slim because there aren't that many places that will do a 9 or 10 month lease. DD is graduating in June (as well as I think one of the other girls) and doesn't want a year long lease since she won't be returning.

At this point, if they don't all come to an agreement and find something in the next week, DD is going to look for a place on her own. It will cost about $150 a month more for her to live on her own, but still cheaper or very close to what was spent last year for housing and meal plan. We added up the housing and meal plans for each quarter and divided by 9 months and it came to $1050 a month. She found a great place online today. A one bedroom in a nice complex - $685 a month (even studios she was looking for were all running about $700) that includes cable and internet! She would only have electricity to pay extra over her rent. She tried calling several times and finally left a message yesterday. As of mid day, today, she still hasn't heard back :/  I think if they have a unit available she should take it and let the other 2 girls figure out their own living arrangements.  Most students who live off campus had this lined up before they left school for the summer.

If she gets an apartment on her own, she will need a table and couch. If she rooms with the other girls, one of them was that to bring those. DD has our old coffee and end table stored under her bed here at home. We had an idea on a couch. I want to get a futon for my bedroom turned office (WHEN it ever gets done). But I can buy the futon, let DD use it for 9 months and then I can put in in my office room to use, when she is done with school. For a dining table she will just take our folding table and put a table cloth over it.  That's all she needs to get by.

She wants to get a queen sized bed (rather than take her twin bed from home) so has budgeted some from her savings to get that (and it's something she'll have when she graduates and gets her own place). We went to IKEA last Friday and looked at beds. She found several she liked and I think decided on a pretty cheap one, that didn't have a headboard (to help reduce her cost), for around $180. The mattress will be the most costly part.  Then last night, her BF texted her that he picked up a free queen sized bed frame for her from someone he works with! Turns out it's also an IKEA, but has a headboard. It's white, instead of the dark brown/black she picked, but for free she will take it!

She bought a clearance down alternative comforter from Kohl's for about $25 (reg. $119). It's an ugly color, but no one will see the color inside a duvet cover, right?! She picked up a white duvet cover at IKEA that I think she paid $20 for.She's got throw blankets and pillows she can add to give it all some color.

I just wish someone from the 1 bedroom apartment place would call her back one way or the other.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Odds and Ends

It's just been a day of busy work. DD is gone for the weekend with her BF and DH has been outside and in the shop all day working on his pick up. I left about 9:15 this morning and got my gas tank filled up for the week. Then went into the grocery store at this station to pick up the .99/lb strawberries on sale. I got 5 pounds, along with a case of water for 1.99. I had only grabbed the tiny shopping cart, otherwise I would have gotten another case of water. I also picked up 6 bags of shredded cheese (mostly mozzarella) to stock up and freeze at 1.66 ea. - oh and 4 donuts - our Saturday morning treat. Got out of there for $20. Then I went to Wal-Mart and did the rest of my grocery shopping. Got out of there for $114. I'll finally be able to cook this week. The temperature has dropped 20 degrees and we are oh so comfortable in cool weather now.

Got home, unloaded and put away the groceries and then bit into the glazed donut I bought for me.......totally stale! The rest (dh has maple bars) were fine, but it was a disappointment to bite into a stale donut.

Then I vacuumed (something is wrong with my vacuum - it started making a weird noise just before I got done) and emptied all the garbage cans in the house. Worked on decluttering a bit more. 2 boxes emptied of misc crap in my bedroom closet, most of it just thrown away, and the rest combined into a 3rd box that wasn't all the way full. Got all of my bed linens put back into the linen closest in the bathroom. Trying something new to try and keep out the mildew smell they get so fast (probably because it's in a small room where we shower and it gets humid, of course). I washed everything and put back in the cupboard with a couple of sheets of bounce and a box of baking soda.  We'll see how that work. If it doesn't help, then I am going to move the sheets and pillow cases completely out of the bathroom linen closet and to a shelf in my walk in closet. I'm tired of not being able to use my spare set of sheets when I wash what is on the bed, because they already smell musty.

Made up a fresh batch of hummingbird nectar (I do this every Saturday) and then chopped up the 5# of strawberries. I chop and then run a little bit through the chop cycle in my blender as DH likes his strawberries for strawberry shortcake really chopped, almost a very thick liquid.  Fit most of it into 3 quart freezer bags and the rest into a bowl in the fridge so DH can have some strawberry shortcake for dessert the next couple of nights.

Now my neck is hurting and giving me a headache. I think it's time for a nap!


I used to use Mint to track where my money was going each month. For the most part I really liked it, but when I started using my PayPal debit rewards card, Mint was no longer relevant to me. All the transactions showed up only as "PayPal" on my checking account, so then would show up that same way in Mint and could not categorize.

I recently noticed that the transactions are now showing up in my checking with the name of the merchant. I logged into Mint to see if transactions were now being categorized again and they are! I am happy about this, as I had found Mint to be a useful tool in tracking spending - especially when trying to track grocery and miscellaneous purchases.

The bank that holds my home equity loan was finally able to give me the detailed info on my loan terms. The woman that helped me was able to email me copies of the documents that I remembered signing back in August 2010. (whew! now I don't have to find it in storage boxes up in our garage attic space). The terms are not quite what I had remembered, but that is kind of no surprise when I think back. That was probably the most stressful time of my life, as we were just about to file for bankruptcy and the new terms offered by this take-over bank was a welcome relief at the time. I think I just took the offer and put it out of my mind for the most part.

So, for the past 5 years we have had interest only payments (though I have started paying a little extra each month, this year). Now, for the next 5 years it will be a payment of 1.5% of the outstanding balance. That is going to sting. But, I'm trying to look at it as a positive. It's all money that will be going to the principal balance and thus increasing our equity in our home that much quicker. (ie - we'll be able to sell and get out of here sooner, rather than later). I will have to watch our budget extremely careful now (so I am happy Mint is working for me again), with no frivolous spending. After this next 5 year period it converts to a fully amortized monthly principal and interest payments for 15 years. While I had longer terms remembered in my mind, this is better in the long run. We will have all paid off sooner.

We have about 11 years left on our main mortgage. At that point all that monthly payment can start going toward the balance left on the heloc and it will be paid off quickly, in less than 2 years after that (I will have to do up an amortization schedule to work this all out). So, rather than 5 more years and then another 15years on top of that, I expect this heloc loan to be paid in about 13 years.

I think it will be tightest on the budget for about the next 10 months. Hopefully next January, at our annual work review time, I can get a raise. Whatever (if) that might be can go towards that extra monthly heloc payment. Come June, DD will graduate college. She will most likely have a job lined up, as well as she and her BF have plans to move in together. At that point my monthly expenses will go down quite a bit. $200 a month saved in health insurance. I will be able to drop her off our auto insurance, probably about $60 a month saved. I won't be giving her $100 a month for college living expenses, as well as less food, less electricity, etc, when she is home. Also, apparently in April or May DH's Crestor medicine is supposed to go generic, so I'm sure it will be much cheaper than the $162 a month I am currently paying.  All that should about cover the extra heloc payment I will be making.

Time to really watch the food spending (where most of our waste is). So, when I head out this morning for grocery shopping, I am first stopping at a different nearby grocery store before I head to Walmart. They have their store brand of shredded cheeses on sale for $1.66 each. I can stock up and freeze. Also, strawberries for .99. I will buy several and slice up and freeze, too.  I'll be busy today!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

It's my Friday!

Thursdays are my new Fridays :)

So far so good on the new modem. No internet connectivity drops yet, so I am hoping this fixed the problem. Since we had a separate modem and router before, I suppose it could have even been the router (our equipment) that was having issues and not the modem, but with the newer Comcast all in one modem/routers, that saved me from having to go buy a new router! I can definitely tell the speed is faster and am so glad it worked with the VPN/remote log in for work with no problems. One less thing for our busy IT guy to have to deal with.

I was tired and grumpy last night, after dealing with that most of the day and was frustrated because the Amazon Fire Stick wouldn't work. It wouldn't even recognize the new network as a choice at all. I could not figure that one out. Finally, I noticed an option in the settings menu to reset it back to factory defaults. I did that and when it restarted there was our new network listed and I only had to put in the (long as hell) password and it worked. I didnt have to go through all the advanced settings like I did to get it to work with our previous network set up.  That made me happy :-)

One of the maintenance things DH is doing on his pick up is flushing the anti-freeze and putting new in. He needed 20 gallons of distilled water for this and I really did not want to have to buy 20 gallon jugs at Walmart. DD and I went to Costco, but they had no distilled water at all. Normally I HATE going there, but it was a relatively good time to go (evening, after dinner). It wasn't overly crowded and we didn't have to wait in line too long. I did pick up a couple of things. Two (larger than grocery stores) loaves of the 9 grain bread we eat, for $5.49. I'd say the loaves are about 1 1/2 the size of what I normally get, so basically 3 loaves for what I normally pay for 2. And I picked up a big tub of red vines ;) We stopped at this big warehouse/bag your own grocery store and they had distilled water in 2.5 gallon jugs, so we only had to buy 8 and not look totally ridiculous.

The weather is supposed to cool down about 10 degrees starting tomorrow. Then it will only be 80. Still hot, but I'm sure it will feel so much better around here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I hate being an IT person

So after my internet cut out 3 times in the next couple of hours, I called Comcast back. This tech (again from India) wanted to do the same thing that the first guy I talked with this morning said he did (and then we got cut off). I said he already did that and it's actually worse now. After a long hold she finally schedules me for a service tech to come out to our house........NEXT Wednesday! Are you kidding me?!

I hang up with her and call back and the system knows I now have a pending service call and routes me to talk to someone about that. I get a real US person, who gets with dispatch and after a very long hold gets me rescheduled to Saturday. He also give me a $20 credit for the wait and because the next Wednesday appointment time was an error - she scheduled it as an install and not a service call for a problem, so that's why it was so far out, it wasn't considered urgent. Still 4 more days of crappy internet and trying to work from home with it. And most likely they are just going to replace our modem. So I hop in my car and go over to the Comcast store (which conveniently is only about 2 miles away) and get a new modem and install it myself.  Since my IT guy at work has worked out the issues using VPN and the new Comcast all in one modem/routers, that wasn't going to be an issue, like last year.

I got it all hooked up and working. Everything wi-fi (all computers but DH's, ipad, iphones) all reset with that long as hell network password. We had to shut off and turn back on our security camera systems, but then they worked. The only thing I can't get working is the Amazon TV Fire Stick. It was hell trying to get it set up to work with our old router and modem. I don't have the energy tonight to work on it. It will probably take me days again to figure out all the correct advanced settings. What ever happened to plug and play?!

I logged back into work no problem with then lost internet connection again! Now that I have stayed logged off of the VPN we haven't had any problems. I'm just going to wait until tomorrow morning, when it's just me up at 6:30/7:00 and test that out again. Maybe it was just a fluke thing. I'm hoping so.

Our wi-fi internet speed is so much faster now with the new modem. From about 20mpbs to 47mpbs. So that part is really nice. Now it just has to stay connected!

just plugging along

I really can't think of anything to blog about. Blah! Not much is going on this week. I tried to call the bank that holds our home equity loan so I could get all the details of what they show as terms, etc, but the phone # I was given apparently can't really access all that information (good grief!) so she had to take my number and will have someone from the correct department call me back in the next day or two. I have a feeling I am going to have to get into storage and look through boxes for that paperwork from 5 years ago.

Our internet has been cutting out several times a day the past week or so. Sometimes it comes right back on in a minute. Other times I try a reset or two and finally it will come back on - could be up to an hour later. It's been happening about 3 times a day. I called our internet provider and most likely I will need a new modem. The tech guy on the phone did some sort of "internet update" on his end. Took my phone# while we were talking, in case we got cut off. Then when his "update" was done he asked me to do a speed test and right then we got cut off. Of course he didn't call me back to finish up and of course I lost internet for a minute an hour later.

I almost spent $100 bucks today - that I didn't really need to. So glad I came to my senses and realized I don't need 2 pair of Clarks shoes, even if it is a really good deal. I have my new summer sandals I bought a month or two ago and my tennis shoes are good, so no need for anything more right now. I did, though, spend $4 on a new t-shirt from Walmart, LOL. It's a Hanes brand and seemed pretty decent weight of cotton and a pretty lilac color.

I keep day dreaming of being retired! Just a simple little life with a little house somewhere in the mountains with  no traffic, no people and most importantly, no neighbors.  Someday we'll get there, I hope.

One more day of work this week and then my 3 day weekend. DD and I have plans Friday morning to make a trip to IKEA to look around. She wants to look at bed frames and I want to look at desks and see if they have futons.

That's about all I know. DH actually got out of the house yesterday and today for a bit, which usually helps his mood. DD went with him today. He's getting the maintenance and things done to his old pick up truck.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Great shoe deal

DH and his "special" feet need new tennis shoes again. The expensive-ish ones I ordered him, not really that long ago, were good for awhile but seem to have worn out already. He's decided to go back to the regular old New Balance kind he's been wearing for years. I stopped at a nearby store today, that usually carries them, but none in stock. 

I did some online price comparisons and ended up getting these $70 shoes for $28.43 including tax and free shipping. Wooo!  I decided to order them from where they were on sale for $60 and I had a 15% off coupon code to use. I am a member of the "shop your way rewards" program, so I logged into that. Imagine my surprise to find 25,000 "Surprise Points" available to take $25 off of this order! Hello! Yes Please! I was now under the $59 free shipping, but rewards program members get free shipping on all orders.  On top of that I will earn 6% back in Swagbucks, 1% from using my rewards debit card and another 26 cents towards my Sears shop your way rewards balance.

I love when a good deal gets even better than you thought it would!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Flowers and plants pictures

                                      Just for Janelle - who needs a bit of gardening inspiration :)

 Front arbor with purple and now white clematis growing and blooming. Love the new white blooms - they are so big! The wind chime is really cute, but it's so heavy that it takes a lot of wind to make it chime.

                          One of the whiskey barrels when flowers were first planted in May
One of the whiskey barrel planters today. I don't know why I bother putting the marigolds in the middle - you can't even see them now
Front of house.  Red rose bush blooming in center. Off in the distance you can see the island, out in   the driveway, we put in last summer

                                     Wishing well DH built me, now filled with petunias

A fuchsia bush - very easy care. Blooms all summer. I don't even water this one. In Fall just cut it down to the ground and it grows back every year. There is also some white morning glory growing throughout the bush. How it got there I have no idea. We replanted this bush from my grandparents yard years ago and it must have come with the roots, LOL
                            Front window flower boxes - petunia and trailing lobelia
Back french doors. You can kind of see my new wind chimes in the foreground (I can hear them right now!) I'm now kind of wishing I could have gotten bigger pots  for each side of the door. Maybe next year and I can use these somewhere else.

In the "park" in the backyard.  My old falling apart bench I tried to make into a planter. Partial success. It hasn't gotten very "full", probably because it's in the shade most of the time. I will probably try something different next summer.

The front section of the "park" Once we cleared out all the brush, we found these fallen trees, so left them there and let a few of the natural ferns keep growing. My new sundial birdbath sitting inside the other birdbath. The birds have never used this blue bird bath (I read they do not like ceramic shiny glaze) so I sat the antique store find birdbath inside it. I'm still looking for some kind of pedestal base for it, but haven't been out much to search.

Fire pit area, with bird (and mostly squirrel) feeding and watering behind. There are also a couple of other bird feeders that aren't visible in this picture.  The cedar 2-seater I got at a yard sale for $10 bucks.

The key word in all this - water, water, water - everyday! :-)

Hot weather and memory issues

Summers are cool and mild around here. Not in the 80's and 90's day after day...after day. And there is no end in sight for the long term forecast. I just want one day of rain and 70 degrees - LOL.  I think the hardest part of it all for me is I do not feel like cooking dinner when it's 93 degrees outside, which makes it hard to figure out what to eat when it's like this every day. Ugh.

I'm starting to see some memory problem signs in my mom (74 years old) that are getting a bit worrisome. For the past year or so she has had a problem forgetting a word/name for something during a conversation. She's talking away about something and then suddenly can't think of the word she wants to use. Now it's starting to happen more frequently and sometimes more than once in a conversation. The other day when DD took her to her doctor appointment, DD drove over to her house and then they were taking my mom's car. A Prius. A car she has had for about 6 years now. DD was going to drive (having never driven it) and since it's keyless, it doesn't start like a normal car. There is a process of several steps before you can drive away. My mom could not remember how to start her car! This is a car she gets into and drives every single day! Finally DD says to her - what do you do when you get in your car? Grandma says "I'm trying to think" DD was like "don't think - just do whatever you always do to start your car". Finally, they got it going.  It also worries me that DD had to even take her in the first place, as like I said, she's always going here and there by herself, every day. Her dad died of Alzheimer's and while I don't know if there is any heredity involved with the disease, I guess I need to keep an eye on if she seems to be getting worse. The problem is it's all so gradual, even if it is just normal old age memory loss. Plus, since she got a boyfriend several years ago, I don't see her near as much as I used to, as she spends all weekends (and several weekdays, quite often) at his place. Since I'm not around her as much in person, I only have phone conversations and emails to judge how she is doing. 

My Friday's off work/3 day weekends start tomorrow (though tomorrow is a paid holiday). I'm really looking forward to the shorter work week and longer weekends for the next couple of months. But who the heck wants to paint rooms when it's so hot? Hmmphh!

In other exciting news my white clematis planted at the front arbor has started to bloom! Now I have purple and white flowers and it's looking so great. A few of the sweet pea seeds I planted on the back arbor have grown quite a bit and a couple are starting to weave through the bottom of the lattice. But sadly, most of the plants/leaves are getting eaten by bugs or something. While the flowers (if I ever get any) are my favorite, they have been a disappointment for me. Slow growing and slow to bloom, I do not see that the sides of the arbor will be filled with vines and flowers for the summer. I think that I will probably end up planting clematis at that arbor, too. They seem hardier and grow really fast. They are already all the way up both sides of my front arbor.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mid week life

Today's agenda (after working from home all day) includes a trip to the motor vehicle licensing office. We are going to transfer the title of DD's car to her name.  She got it when she was 15 and of course at that time, we weren't allowed to title it in her name. Now that she's over 18, it's time to let her be the official owner.  Then a stop at Target to pick up a prescription and a loaf of bread. At 90 degrees outside again today, cooking dinner is not on my list of priorities, so I plan to just make club sandwiches and have some watermelon with it.

More good news on the work front. We had a record sales month for June, along with surpassing our sales goal for mid year. While Friday is our paid holiday, the bosses have generously said we are closing up office at noon tomorrow for the long holiday. Which means I get another day to work remotely from home, since driving in for a few hours is not worth it.

No luck on finding the folder with our home equity loan paperwork. I've looked through all the file cabinets (though I'm pretty sure it was a legal sized folder, so wouldn't be in any of those cabinets). No luck in any of the boxes of paperwork I have either. Frustrating! I really don't know where else to look. I can literally picture myself putting that envelope inside that folder of our original loan docs. There must be a box of papers somewhere that I am missing. I think there might be a couple of boxes out in the garage or shed. I'll have to see if I can even get to those (unlikely). I think at this point I am just going to call the bank back and have them tell me exactly what they show are the repayment terms on this loan. Either way it's all getting paid back - maybe just sooner than I had anticipated.

A yard maintenance company finally showed up at the foreclosed vacant house yesterday and at least got the 2 feet of weeds mowed down. Still nothing on getting the garage side door boarded up. Seriously, it would take someone a half hour.  I have a feeling I know why the bank may be just letting it sit (it's been 2 years now). For probably at least 10 years or more it has been rumored that the county has future plans to punch this street the house sits on (the street only goes to this house and the cross street in front of it) all the way through to the next cross street. I've seen it shown in county planning (like a 10 year plan). I think we've heard this is a tentative plan for as long as we've lived here (25 years). Will it ever happen? who knows, but could be why the bank is just willing to sit on it and wait and see.

DH was outside doing the yard maintenance of spraying for ants. Resident meth-head son was walking by and nodded at DH and then stopped and held out his hand and apologized for the times he he has wigged out on DH. DH got a little scuttlebutt out of him.....apparently his dad (this is the awful renter/drug dealing/drug using family) really wants to move. This neighborhood has gone to shit...(well NO SHIT!  It was a perfectly good neighborhood until you guys moved in 2 years ago!) and they need to get away from it because now his younger brother is involved with it too (we already figured that one out). They kicked the mom out again (so that is good). So, I guess there is a teeny tiny glimmer of hope that maybe they will move out..........but I'm not holding my breath.