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Archive for December, 2012

The Day in Gratitude

December 28th, 2012 at 04:55 am

1. My spouse brought his work phone with us.
2. Although the spouse took WA-543 instead of WA-539 (Lucky Robin knows what I am talking about), we still managed to get downtown in time for me to renew my passport.
3. The Prius Map feature allowed me to show my spouse he erred in thinking WA-543 was a recently developed WA-539.
4. Border officials do not grill me when I tell them I am renewing my passport.
5. I had eight minutes left in getting back to the car before our time expired.
6. Fiamma Burger's "B'ham'burger." Enough said. (Lucky Robin knows what I am talking about)
7. A man consciously stepped back from the open elevator to let me in first. This has not happened for years. I was taken aback, then flush with gratitude and of course thanked him. Wow.
8. Antlers and red noses on the Translink buses.
9. Spouse bought LAMY ink cartridges for my fountain pen while I was waiting at Passport Canada.
10. May have seen the greatest ever Vancouver Canucks team player driving his BMW into Vancouver!

Everyone was polite and kind today. These greases of the social machinery really buoy me, you know?

9999, plus Merry Christmas

December 24th, 2012 at 10:17 pm

The car odometer is now at 9999 miles.
Despite long lines, people were in good cheer at the supermarket. We braved the crowd because we needed eggs, pie crust mix (we're having tourtiere), butter, and I wanted some Market Spice (orange-cinnamon) tea.
Plus I needed to get my passport out because I am renewing it.

My Christmas present to you: Music can induce feelings of euphoria. Research here includes 40 tracks used, most popular/effective music asterisked


Trans Siberian Orchestra performs Nutcracker Suite - after forty seconds my brain waits for Freddie Mercury.

Remember, the Drug Enforcement Agency cannot come for your playlists, and this info is legal to share across borders. Enjoy!

Balancing Thoughts, Cocooning Christmas

December 24th, 2012 at 01:32 am

I guess the debt collectors read the last post. I answered the phone, was very sweet and clear and polite with them and they were sweet and clear and polite back, answering my request for the company name and telling me they would remove my number. I guess they figured that the person who requests contact information for them but insists the person they're asking for has never had this phone number might be planning to send a Debt Validation letter. Really, the validation letter is a favour to them.

Sad irony: the one family who can stand us (we're bookish introvert rationalists on various points of the autism spectrum -- i.e., socially awkward wackos) is avoiding debt collectors: they have changed their e-mails and phone numbers. I mailed them twice with our e-mail addresses and phone numbers, but they have not taken these cues to contact us -- was I too subtle?

I am sad that I live in a culture where apparently I can't appreciate and celebrate what I do have in common, other than genetic material, with relatives, but instead be grateful for loneliness and isolation as an alternative to hearing racist jokes (my niece and nephews are ALL biracial: our kid happens to be the only white one and he's the only one with recognized dual citizen status), or anti-immigrant rants (hey, I am an immigrant, why are you saying they are bad?) or treatises on how more violence will help to curb violence.

Why do families have to act tribal and cast out people who've had unique experiences? I am not talking about addictions, criminal history or sexual perversions, but experiences like trying out a different church, or growing up in a broken home, or growing up urban or rural, or moving to another country, or living without television.

I did have some great conversations with non-relatives today, about holidays and noncontroversial subjects. For that, as a positive experience to build against the daily shelling of social anxiety, I am grateful.

Grateful to have the opportunity to drive to my home country for a day to renew my passport.

Grateful to come across the expression: "'It's the end of life as we know it' said the caterpillar; 'it's the beginning of life as we know it' said the butterfly."

The spouse received an Odd Lot Buyback solicitation for his old employer's stock. He is considering selling to apply $$ toward the car debt. I may liquidate a stock of a company I don't much like for the same reason, or to help spruce up the house.

Bonus Question: Did I miss a widget or scripting hack to prevent the Chinese F*M*L*-----.com spammer comments?

Blessed by debt collector calls

December 20th, 2012 at 05:06 am

Yes, you guessed correctly: some scofflaw deadbeat applied for credit with a phone number that actually is mine. I have had the number for five - six years. The one time I answered a call from Oklahoma I asked how many years old the contact information the caller had was, and she said she'd remove the number from her records. Way to not answer my question.

Then a 800- number called, which from the Web I could trace to a debt collector. I haven't answered, because they've called when I had fewer than twelve minutes remaining on my cell phone. But tomorrow starts a new usage cycle, and when they call, I am gathering contact information. The company with the 800 number has a branch office in Oklahoma.

Then I will use the Debt Validation letter method, and send my letter registered with return receipt.

For now I am keeping a file, with a printout of my phone bill, and documenting times and dates and caller information, and bookmarking websites on small claims court procedures.

The last time I had to deal with this I had the Attorney General's office intervene. This time I have car payments to think of, and the information that this one debt collector has paid out in small claims courts before, and paid $121000 in telecommunications and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violations.

And so it snows

December 19th, 2012 at 09:54 pm

I am thankful there are people other than my creditors who are willing to have me in their lives.

I am thankful that the former coworker who dismissed all of us female workers as stupid b*tches is incarcerated for a different, more horrible transgression. He has shown himself by his felonious acts and odious conduct to be a manic sociopath misogynist.

I am thankful for peppermint mochas that are easy to come by as I walk through the melting snow, my socks fallen down below my heels in my rainboots, and the effort of the library staffer to track down all the items on hold for me so my trek was maximally productive.

I am thankful for finding addresses I shamefully have been lax in entering in my address book. I would much rather have solutions and strategies for my disorder than excuses, believe.

I did not sleep well even with my new pumped up, fluffed up pillow. The barista thought he was doing me a favour sneaking an extra shot of espresso in my drink.

Sunday b----y Sunday

December 16th, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Referring to my cycle. I will not believe that only two tablespoons are released over a five-day period: it feels like 1/4 cup so far (entering third day). And yes I am taking iron.

A great respite for misery: orange flower water, powdered milk, and olive oil combined, heated gently, and tossed into the bath. Sweet!

Taking 10000 IU Vitamin D daily this week and the next! I may run out by tomorrow!

Meals planned:
Today: Veal Paprika and Beer Bread (it is miserable out and dark inside)
Tomorrow: Pot Roast with parsnips and brussels sprouts and probably potatoes too
Tuesday: leftover Pot Roast with ratatouille
Wednesday: Kidney Bean and Quinoa Chili
Thursday: salmon
Friday: Coca-Cola Chicken

The two-week flurry of hemorrhaging expenses may be over: I have written and mailed a cheque for $461.60 for six months of auto insurance for the new car; scheduled a $728 payment for the computer I bought last month for Dec. 28.

I was going to work on only what we had in the freezer and pantry for the next week, then thought "as long as I use leftovers of what we do have, and have some meatless entrees this week, I can consider myself economical."

Blessings for the day:
1. The Postal Office worker who let me escape a long line of people with parcels because she read my sign 'I WILL BUY YOUR 45 CENT STAMP' when I was eleventh in a queue of sixteen. She called me out of line, we exchanged cash for postage, and I had exact change as she requested.

2. 30% discount of car insurance premiums.

3. A child who is willing and able to assist in grocery shopping.

Gratitude

December 15th, 2012 at 02:53 am

1. Made chocolate chip cookies, in part as an act of gratitude, but mostly because of past sugar and carb cravings.

2. The house did not burn down after SOMEONE left the SPACE HEATER UNATTENDED AND ON this morning downstairs.
I turned the heater off, because I am not interested in sky-high electricity bills, and not interested in seeing the house destroyed.

3. New "QI" episode today and being downloaded! Last week, the all-male panel and host made like they were going to show their cox to the audience before "technical difficulties" affected the broadcast. A Reverend is on this episode, so let us hope of no cox repeats. Prof. Brian Cox of course is a welcome exception.

Gratitude Tuesday

December 11th, 2012 at 10:50 pm

What I am thankful for today:
1. My red jacket smells like someone accidentally poured Dr. Bronner's Rose soap on it and the fragrance has left me feeling more positive and loving today.

2. A short, productive shopping session at a consignment store for a decent blouse I can wear to my tot's winter concert, under $15. I received also a beautiful rose print paper bag for it as I forgot to bring a bag with me for shopping. I found lots of neat things in that shop and expect to be a regular there.

3. Reviewing the Report of Sale document I filled out Saturday night today and figuring out I need to return it to a licensing office pronto. Not only did I visit the office and take care of that important business, but I had exact change for the filing fee.

4. My insurance policy provider making it superbly easy for me to amend or update our policies online. I have eleven minutes on the phone for the next week so I am loath to dial anyone right now.

Something I am not happy with: water heater started leaking when I took my shower today. The water heater is nearly twelve years old, seems too young to start leaking.

I Learned How to Pay for a Car Today

December 11th, 2012 at 01:06 am

My friends were slackjawed to learn yesterday that we drove our car off the lot before presenting the complete payment for the automobile. "I can't believe they let you pay just $8800 before taking it home," said a friend who bought from that very dealer.
Her remark made me wonder if maybe we should have gone to the credit union last week to officially apply for a loan.

"So how then do you buy cars when you haven't yet applied formally for a car loan, and you buy at a date or time when the dealer cannot directly and immediately contact your lender?" I did not ASK to take the vehicle home: I was fine with picking it up in a few days.

I figured we would apply for the loan formally at some point, after the inspection and insurance, and the credit union would mail payment to the dealer. We visited the credit union today to get the loan and experienced a delay due to the "new"/"not new" status of the car, where we saw a cheque drawn for the balance of the vehicle. We borrowed 25% of what we were approved to borrow, so we knew acceptance was a foregone conclusion. We were to bring the remaining payment to the dealer.

"New" - present year model of vehicle.
"Not new" - previous title, 9500 miles on car.

So today I did drive to the dealer to bring in the cheque and a thank-you note for not sending the cops or repo men after us. To be hilarious (they have BMWs, Audis, Mercedes and Lincolns in the showroom) I showed up in my furs. I am relieved we were not reminded by the credit union or the dealership in a "what is wrong with you you car thieves" kind of way.
I feel this car purchase has just begun to change our lives.

I may even call the insurer today to remove the old car from our policy. I have to fax the insurer some documents anyway. But we have eleven minutes left on our phone for the month (family health emergency, car sales, car purchase, regular phone call home for DH), so I will download, install and run Google Voice.

Feeling poor but not broke: I bought a luxury down pillow from Pacific Coast, it has an outlet ten miles south of us, for 15% off, plus getting shipping free for ordering today. I am not sleeping, and I think the limpness of the pillows may be contributing to that.

Menu for the Week
Baked Chicken, from Nourishing Traditions
Chicken Noodle Soup, La Fourchette Cookbook
Spaghetti Sauce from Nourishing Traditions served on buckwheat noodles
Gourmet Succotash, from Nourishing Traditions
Foiled Pot Roast Eat Better for Less Money, with leftovers served with ratatouille for a casserole, perhaps with a winter root medley.
Red Bean & Quinoa Chili, from Feeding the Whole Family

Gratitude List
1. Learning new ways to protect my privacy, identity and anonymity online. Considering the lengths US and Canadian politicians are going to to transform the Internet to be that less of an open, unrestricted space, finding and using these options will be key for me.
2. The Portlandia crossover with The Simpsons, so I can view through Homer and Marge's eyes how we must appear to my relatives. My extended family is not hip at all. My immediate family is "punk in the head" without external signifiers like neon hair, leather, metal, ripped clothes, or tattoos -- it is all inside. DH's family is brainy and quietly subversive so we are at least 67% normal in their eyes. The hipsterish Springfield is not that far-removed from Seattle, especially when Homer remarks about how it's cloudier and cooler. At that point we doubled over. We saw these clips online, as we do not own a television.
3. The credit union representative and the dealership associate did not blink or yell at me for showing up a week later with the remaining car payment.

Sunday Submission

December 10th, 2012 at 03:47 am

Washed my hair with baking soda paste: did not even wet it first, just glopped it onto the scalp and started scrubbing. Then rinsed off in apple cider vinegar diluted with water. The hair is so soft: I had been using argan oil shampoo and conditioner regularly and the oil accumulates near the roots after several consecutive cleanings.

What I am grateful for or to:
1. A full stomach. I made beef stew, and DH made dumplings. Excellent combination on a wet December day (if you live above the 45th parallel north, that is).
2. New York Times weekend crosswords.
3. The boy helping to decorate the tree, and doing it properly.
4. B & O Espresso for not closing up when its lease expired, but for planning to move closer to where I live, and giving us 20% discount coupons for use in their new place in January.

I now act on a request for some bath recipes. Here are some recommended for cold days and for the panicky/stressed:

Hot Ginger Friction Rub
3 Tbsp. almond oil
2 Tbsp. witch hazel
1 cup water
1/2 oz. fresh or powdered ginger

Steep ginger in boiling water for 20 minutes. Mix 3 to 4 tablespoons of the ginger water with the oil and witch hazel and massage directly into wet skin while in the tub. Use a loofah, brush or coarse cloth to massage lotion in briskly. Remaining ginger water may be added to bath if desired.

Buttermilk Bath
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup orange flower water
2 tsp. almond oil

Combine ingredients, heat gently, and pour under fast-running bath water.

Jasmine Bubble Bath
1 Tbsp. mild liquid soap
2 tsp. oil of jasmine
2 tsp. witch hazel

Combine ingredients and add directly to fast-running bath water.

Car sold!

December 9th, 2012 at 01:23 am

Whoopee!

So that tops my gratitude list today!
Adjunct gratitude: spouse sold under stated price but not ridiculously so -- would you believe people were asking for 45% under the posted price? I could have traded in for that. I have enough to pay for the computer I bought last month now.

What else: no waitlist for a popular barbershop in town, so boy had a good haircut. Prices have gone up though.

Also, grateful to have three books to pick up from the library today: NW by Zadie Smith; Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon; Dear Life by Alice Munro.

Bonus: Alaskan Sockeye for $7/lb for dinner. I am grateful for that too.

Gratitude list

December 7th, 2012 at 11:03 pm

I missed yesterday as I undertook an act of folly to sell a vehicle far away. Never again. I don't care if I have to mark the old car down 20%, people can come to the car to check it out. I feel stupid.

I marked the car down below fair condition for Kelley Blue Book, and indicated the ignition lock and starter are both new, but the calls I am getting do not factor this.

1. Thanks be to Craigslist for directing immediate attention to the car for sale.

2. Thanks be to supermarket websites with functionality to post weekly ads online and allow virtual coupon clipping. Easier to organize and better for the environment.

3. Thanks be to the spouse for having a big thick sweater I can wear at home. It is cool today, and think I will shop for men's cable-knit pullovers.

4. Free synthetic oil change for new car tomorrow.

The Buyer's Remorse Begins

December 5th, 2012 at 02:03 am

I had researched for eighteen months, planned even longer, for affording a vehicle. This Prius is $6500 above my comfort level, but we are likely to have it for twenty years. I took it to my favourite mechanic for inspection: it needs an oil change and that will cost double what I am used to paying.

I may have a vehicle worth $23K more than our old car, but I do not feel $23K happier. I feel poorer. I am trying to enjoy a gimlet so I can brave the call. My husband tried to jolly me through the purchase process: "You're always like this when we buy anything priced over $300." [True. It took me thirty-six months to buy Sure-Fit covers for our catclaw-frayed furniture.] I look at the car in the driveway and do not feel ownership: I feel that I am driving an elderly aunt's or step-parent's vehicle while they are away on holiday.

Today I vowed I would call our insurer to add a policy for our new purchase and I am too much in a caffeine crash to do it. Yet it is against the law to drive the vehicle uninsured. A serious conversation with my family is due. My kid still has a case of the "I want I want". The old heap needs to be sold. I need to get a job but my kid needs to be nagged into doing his homework. Consequences do not affect his tiny but still forming mind. Adjustments must be made all around.

Things I am grateful for:
1. Permission to do the sudoku on the cafe's newspaper. Other people worked on the crossword, someone does the word jumble regularly (I did it too, but I used my own piece of paper to work it out). Someone at this cafe was irked to come in one day, pick up the crossword, and find I had been at it. "Oh, SHE's been here," and walked away. That the irked customer resembled the one who killed four people at the cafe May 30 has not left my mind ever.

2. New Winston Breen book by Eric Berlin. Yes I read middle-school lit based on mysteries and puzzles: a lot of it is clever and well-written and I wish we had more writers like that in the adult fiction camp.

3. Group family hug I got when I said I had a case of the sads giving so much money to the downpayment and to vehicle insurance.

Update My husband called to arrange for insurance while I cleaned up the kitchen. I caught a word on the comments I had not used: "enjoy", as in "enjoy new purchase." I have not yet "enjoyed" the vehicle: I was oh-so-cautious driving it on the test drive, and too much of a mess to drive the Prius home, although my spouse did give me dibs, and still skittish taking the car out of the auto service place. I have never had a new vehicle with a market value this high, never had a car loan this high. I should add that I am a faultfree driver with a long, excellent history.

Sixteen years carry many automotive improvements and new features, and the Prius right now strikes me more as a personal hovercraft with its digital display, bells and whistles. The one feature I thought was really groovy was the km/h-mph converter button: perfect for the spouse when we go to Canada. Me, I do mph/kmh instantly: it is the fluid ounces and millilitres that mess me up. And the USB port for our music. Man I dig it the most!

Things I Am Grateful For Monday

December 4th, 2012 at 04:33 am

1. DVDs for making boot media disks and system repair disks. Never too early to make backup materials for your data.

2. The miracle of music that can change mood, and the brain's memory storage that can recall that mood-changing music in times of distress and stress and general duress.

3. Antisepsis as a modern medical practice. Reading Candice Millard's Destiny of an Empire, I learned that doctors thought nothing of leaving pus, blood and dirt on their surgical coats, nor of probing with dirty fingers bullet wounds.

Bought a New(er) Car Today

December 2nd, 2012 at 11:42 pm

It is a 2012 Toyota Prius III. We bought it for $22000. Its MSRP was a little above $24K but as my good buddy bought her Camry Solara at the same lot earlier in the week we received a 9% discount. We are not the first owners but the vehicle has under 9500 miles. And the previous owner is local so no Frankenstorm Sandy rejects.

We arrived at the lot with an eye to purchasing the advertised 2010 Toyota Prius III with 24K miles as it was within our budgeted amount. This one, not so much in the budget but I can sell our current car for $800. We did not buy the 2010 Prius as it had already been sold: absolutely no bait and switch though. My spouse said that before I mentioned my friend bought her new car here we were offered $22K as the dealership specializes in European luxury vehicles and the discount is an incentive to move the vehicle out from the lot.

A Yelp review is pending: we had excellent service and I owe my friend a gas card or something nice in exchange for getting a good deal. She told us that the car dealer ship has salaried workers who are laidback, but one does not get to negotiate unless one owns the dealership.

My nerves are frayed right now from test-driving and shelling out for the car. I am going "gakgakgakgak" like the aliens in Tim Burton's film "Mars Attacks!"

Mehs, Whas and Yeahs

December 2nd, 2012 at 06:51 pm

Wha: Neighbour's dog passed away, I will guess of old age or natural causes. As she was no longer able to go inside her house at will, and wandered outside during normal sleep hours to whine, and whined when her owner momentarily disappeared from view, I guess she suffered from age-related deteriorating cognition. We had lived beside the dog for ten years and know she was well-behaved, so we put up with the whining during the day (but we made sure the owner woke up and suffered wakefulness along with us at night) in her last six months. She was an Irish setter who lived to be at least twelve, so a long and mostly happy life then. I really hope the neighbours do not get a puppy: their children are too young and they do not have the energy or time to properly raise and care for a baby animal. The owners did not even figure out that old animals have low tolerance for being out in the cold, as their bones hurt.

Meh: missed Safeway $0.30/gallon gas reward by forty cents, and today I still do not have everything I want/need for a good week of food.

Double-Meh: credit union's 2.34% auto loan promotion expired Friday. At best we can get 2.74% now, because we will borrow under $30,000. That affects how much car we can get. I need to get cracking and convince myself the $$$ in our account is for spending on a newer car as our vehicle needs to be retired.

Grateful for (yeahs):
1. Other places in the house I can go sleep when my spouse's noises wake me.
2. Having the bed to myself when the spouse figured he was not going to get back to sleep immediately after tending to the cats.
3. Having exact change when visiting the post office to mail cards yesterday.
4. Household being quiet until I woke up.

Wha/Meh: mortgage payment still has not posted. The money has been debited from our account that is for sure, but our balance is not updated.

Making homemade bath and scrub goodies for my debt group today.

Dec update plus The Grateful Three

December 1st, 2012 at 03:54 pm

Grateful for:
Canadian Living subscription gift from my stepmother.
first Christmas Card of the year, this time with a request for a visit, from my stepfather.
Online banking showing the ortgage payment posted today, at the deadline. Updated balance is not reflected.

Contrarian git that I am, I aim, though I am sure I will miss, for as many immaterial or cheap/simple things for gratefulness. I heard William DeVaughan's "Be Thankful For What You Got" yesterday. I do not drive a great big Cadillac with gangsta white walls, but do I need one? I can still stand tall. Naturally I type this on the eve of splurging for a newer car but it will not have killer rims nor a sunroof, but stability and/or traction control.