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Gratitude Post, frank expenditures, hot tip to some SA bloggers

January 9th, 2013 at 05:11 pm

For the past hour I have been feeling contemptuous of things that are beneath my contempt level, so this gratitude post is corrective action.

Today I am happy for:

1. Lunch walks with the spouse for errands. My favourite person, my favourite activity in which we are both erect.

2. We did not lose electric power during last night's wind and rain extravaganza.

3. I am doing well on the 8000 IU daily dose of Vitamin D3 for December/January. I am considering asking for a blood test when next I visit the doctor, preferably before March 15, so I can determine if my body's storage of cholecalciferol is adequate. My friends 110 mi north are taking only 2000-2500 IU a day, except for one who is taking 10000 IU and he says he genuinely feels better for it. After a six-week bout with a grisly virus that left me feeling like the walking dead five years ago, I am grateful for my decision to megadose on Vitamin D3. I have not experienced any toxicity problems.

4. eBooks available through my city's library system. I finally read an eBook for the first time ever, this past week. Having a lighter laptop with a longer battery life may have something to do with my adapted reading habit: I like taking it to a cozy overstuffed chair without fussing around behind the chair to plug in the adapter.

5. The late great operatic space alien/pastry chef Klaus Nomi concocted an easy lime tart recipe. That did not stop me from messing it up my first time (evaporated milk =/= condensed milk), but I will certainly make it again soon. Wanna

Text is try it yourself and Link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-Vw8uQP3UE
try it yourself? (music not included)

6. Waking up without pain, at a proper time.
I am not off to a great start in 2013, financially. Every day seems to be an expenditure unplanned. Replacement tire, news subscription, mattress pad, DH's spree at JC Penney (completely tongue-in-cheek here, I do not begrudge my man some major mark downs of new clothes, especially when his annual clothing budget is $200/year), other things I have kvetched about here. I did make half the credit card statement's balance due, the rest to be paid two weeks later.

A gift to you whose workflow of opening an Add Entry link and filling the Entry Text box to publishing frequently outlasts the 20-minute window, I tell you of
Text is Lazarus and Link is https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/lazarus-form-recovery/loljledaigphbcpfhfmgopdkppkifgno?hl=en
Lazarus, a text recovery browser extension (I use it for Chrome, but here's a Firefox
Text is add-on and Link is https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/lazarus-form-recovery/
add-on link that preserves your text so you need only click on the pale green ankh on the upper right of the text box to reclaim your golden thoughts!

$20 Challenge

January 3rd, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I won a 2012 dead pool, officially (yay!) and received payment today. Great change can start small and gradual, so very early in the year I begin with some small differences:
1. "Extra" money is divided among: investments that will get 3% or more this year; debt with APR of 3%; budget cushion money; and fun money.
2. Eating every 2 - 2.5 hours. Already I am experiencing more energy.
3. Mindful gratitude for gifts several times a day.
4. Acceptance that things will get worse before they get better. But they will get better. And sometimes inconvenience and discomfort is part of getting better.

The Day in Gratitude

December 27th, 2012 at 08:55 pm

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 02:17 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

Text is here and Link is http://www.zlab.mcgill.ca/home.html
here includes 40 tracks used, most popular/effective music asterisked

Trans Siberian Orchestra performs
Text is Nutcracker Suite and Link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b20WvdNpomg
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 23rd, 2012 at 05:32 pm

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 19th, 2012 at 09:06 pm

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 01:54 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.


December 14th, 2012 at 06:53 pm

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.

I Learned How to Pay for a Car Today

December 10th, 2012 at 05:06 pm

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 9th, 2012 at 07:47 pm

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 8th, 2012 at 05:23 pm


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.

The Buyer's Remorse Begins

December 4th, 2012 at 06:03 pm

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!