Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Work From Home Day

My boss is always traveling and he relies on us to get him to the airport and pick him up.  On Tuesday, I went out to lunch with a co-worker for her birthday and then on the way back we swung by the airport since my new vehicle can now hold more than 1 passenger comfortably.  I had to un-fold the back seats which had been folded up for maximum dog cargo space but that was easy to do.  After I was sure my boss was in a good mood and while we were waiting in the drive thru to pick up something for my boss to eat, I asked if I could work from home on Thursday and he said yes!  I am thrilled because working from home is still a novel thing to me and it is so much easier to work from home when I have errands to run like getting my blood drawn for our health insurance (I hate that) and taking multiple animals to the vet.  Now, instead of getting to work late after getting my blood drawn and then leaving early to collect the animals at home which is in the opposite direction from the vet and then driving all the way back, I can get up early, do some work, do the blood thing, work some more, (take a nap), take the menagerie to the vet, and work some more.

The only problem with working from home is that I don't have Autocad on my home computer yet but our IT department said they would fix that for me soon which probably means next year.  I even remembered to attempt to log in to the remote server tonight in case I needed to run a full computer scan which I did so I started it now.  Maybe next year I can work from home one day a month and take one vacation day a month.  That would make my job a little more tolerable.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

At Least I'm Not Bored

I've been running around too much lately but that's what happens when I have too many projects going on at once.  On Wednesday, after work, I stopped by the pound to pick up the schnauzer that I had taken to get groomed the weekend before.  I should have never taken her back to the pound because she got kennel cough and slept through the entire adoption event on Saturday.  People don't want to adopt a dog that looks dead.  She will stay at my house for the next 2 weeks and, hopefully, she will be feeling perkier at the next adoption event.  

On Thursday, I visited my dad after work and kept him company through dinner.  He was in a good mood and quite talkative although I can't understand what he says most of the time.  On Friday, it was nice to be able to go directly home after work.  Saturday I was up bright and early because the dogs were up.  I was pretty sure I would be able to get a nap later so I started on my chores.  The mountain of laundry took all weekend to conquer but I got a good start on it and then dropped the schnauzer off at the adoption event.  I love that I don't have to stay there for 5 hours.  One of my favorite stores, Ross, was nearby so I stopped in to look for comfortable shoes.  I found one pair of brown leather shoes for $25.  After trying on many unsatisfactory walking shoes in the women's section, I remembered to check the men's section since I have a wide foot anyway.  There I found some nice walking shoes with memory foam.  No longer do I have to wear the uncomfortable Nike's that make my feet fall asleep.  They were only $35 and I am actually looking forward to Monday a little bit just because I get to wear them.  I also grabbed some new sheets, socks, and a very soft blanket that I didn't need but it was only $8 and I have a weakness for soft blankets.

After the shopping spree, I went back home for lunch, more laundry, and a quick nap before I jumped back in the car, picked up my sad, lethargic dog who didn't get adopted, and headed to the airport to pick up my mother.  I was 5 minutes late and I didn't even get to fill up her car with gas because the pay-at-the-pump machine wasn't working and the line inside was too long.  We stopped at another gas station on the way home and got a car wash too so it all worked out.

On Sunday, I actually had a little extra time to work on my garden projects.  I cut down my gourds and started taking down the vines.  In the side yard, I had the bright idea to use these old dog houses as grow beds.  I am attempting the "air pruning" technique in the first bed.  

I filled reusable grocery bags with soil.  They sit on gravel and I am supposed add water to the gravel and the bags will soak it up.  That's the idea anyway.  I need some of those mosquito larva killing granules before I start although in a week or so it will be too cold for mosquitoes anyway.  I didn't plant anything yet because I ran out of soil but I have around 10 different kinds of seeds to plant that I got free from the local seed library.  I was going to throw out the dog houses because one was only a top and the one with the bottom was broken but then I realized that they would make great planting boxes.  Time will tell if my experiment will work.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mortgage Update for October 2014

After skipping last month's extra mortgage payment because of my un-planned trip to Minnesota, I am back on schedule, sort of.  The trip cost $1,000 which left $500 of my scheduled payment remaining.  Then I went and bought the car for $2,800.  I decided to pay for the car with $500 from September, $400 from October and November, and $1,500 will come from my truck when I sell it.  So, I paid $1,100 extra to my mortgage this month which brings my mortgage total to $52,220.  If I keep up these extra payments I will have it paid off in 3 years or sooner.  Of course, if I keep taking trips and buying cars it will take a little longer.  I am very glad that I had the money available so that I could go visit my nephew when his grandma died.  Some things are worth more than paying off my mortgage and that was one of them.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Zipping Around Town

I have a whole fleet of vehicles this week.  The truck, the PT Cruiser, and my mother's car since she is out of town.  It is kind of fun to be able to choose the best car for the errand.  But then again, it is annoying to have so many cars in my driveway and to worry about backing them out and trying not to hit any of them.  I don't even want to think about the maintenance and upkeep on 3 vehicles.  Good thing this is only temporary.  

These weekends keep getting busier and busier.  For some reason I couldn't sleep in so I was up and getting things done at an abnormally early time for me, and by early I mean 8am which is not that early to some.  Actually, I started my weekend by borrowing a sad, shaggy dog from the pound on Friday night.  I saw her photo and I have a friend who is a groomer so I matched them up and she gave the dog a free haircut. 

Whew, what a difference.  It looks like a totally different dog!  Maybe this will help her get adopted.

After dropping the dog at the groomer, I stopped by Home Depot.  I could have driven my truck but I wanted to try out the PT Cruiser's hauling capacity.  That is quite a bit of weight I added in the back and my cruiser didn't seem to notice.  Now, hauling manure was probably not the best choice.  The smell tends to linger, but I was very careful and didn't make a mess.

I came home and unloaded my sand, manure, and mulch and then went to a friend's garage sale.  I didn't see anything that I needed but she gave me a shirt for my latest foster dog.  He tolerated it for the picture and had it off by morning.

Then it was grocery shopping and a trip for all of the dog to get their nails clipped.  I bought my groomer friend Taco Bell and she clipped their nails for free, well, for food.  The dogs didn't really like riding in the back since they are used to riding in front with me.  I don't think 3 dogs will fit in the front seat though.  Finally, we all went back home and relaxed for the rest of the evening.  

On Sunday, I started off by feeding everyone then transported the schnauzer back to the shelter.  I managed to leave there without another dog but only because I plan to foster the schnauzer if she doesn't get adopted by Wednesday.  Then I went to visit my father at the care home.  It was lunchtime so I kept him company while he ate and then we looked through the photo album that I brought.  

Next, I stopped at my mom's house to water her plants and adjust the drip system since she is out of town.  One more stop at Big Lots to buy toilet paper with my $5 off coupon and then finally, I made it home at 4:30.  I really wish I had another day in this weekend.  There is so much more that I want to do but I'll have to wait another 5 days to do it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

To Feel Rich

Today I was chatting with a friend and he mentioned that he buys silver coins.  A lot of people buy gold or silver as an investment so I was not surprised.  I said that I bought a home-made silver coin from the fellow at The Field Lab.  Last year, the Field Lab guy was buying sterling silver silverware off of Ebay, melting them down and making his own Field Lab coins.  My friend completely missed the frugality of my story and decided that he needed to buy sterling silver silverware.  So I asked why in the world he would want that and he said "To feel rich".  So, I start looking online for real silverware sets just to humor him.  He buys a lot of stuff from Amazon so we looked there and most of it is silver plated.  He wanted real silver so I showed him what was available on Ebay.  It suddenly dawned on him that real silver tarnishes and he decided that he doesn't want dingy looking silverware after all.  I suggested that he hire a maid to polish his sterling silver and then he would really feel rich although he would be very poor very quickly.

That conversation got me thinking about what makes me feel rich.  I'm just talking about money here not love or happiness or any of those other things that are important.  What makes me feel rich is the ability to help someone or give someone something when the need arises.  For example, being able to afford the trip back to Minnesota to visit my nephews for the funeral.  That was an expensive trip but I had to money available.  I guess I could say that my emergency fund makes me feel rich, and my savings, of course, but savings are like a giant emergency fund anyway.  So, right now I do feel rich.  My savings have been depleted a little after paying for the trip and buying the car but I am slowly replenishing the fund.  I don't need to eat with a sterling silver knife and fork everyday to feel rich. but knowing I could buy them if I needed them is enough for me.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

In With The New

It was a typical weekend around here.  So many plans, so little time.  Mom was in the hospital overnight on Friday so I brought her to her house on Saturday.  She is feeling much better.  While I was there I fixed her water timer (I think).  I set it up last weekend but, evidently, I wasn't supposed to synchronize the start times for the front and back yard.  It should be all fixed now.  One goes on and then the other goes on, at least that's the plan.  When I came home I chilled out with the dogs, pulled weeds, ate dinner and watched Gilmore Girls, my latest series.  7 seasons should keep me occupied for a while.  I probably should have been painting my bathroom or something but I am saving that for another day.

Today I returned my foster cat and kittens back to the shelter to get spayed and hopefully adopted.  On the way out I grabbed a Min-Pin with 3 newborn pups.  

Oh, so small, so cute, so LOUD!  When she met my dogs she went ballistic, barking, howling, growling, yikes.  I moved her in to the far bathroom so that she can have some privacy.  I hope that she will get used to the noises of the house and relax a little.  Usually my mama dogs want to be with my other dogs but not this one.  I hope she is a good mama and her babies don't get sick. 

Once I got the new dog settled in I did the usual laundry, sweeping, cooking for the week, and started cleaning the cat bathroom.  I'll have to finish mopping tomorrow.  

The bathroom seems so empty without kittens.  Their kitty castles have turned back in to plain old cardboard boxes.  I miss them but they wouldn't stay kittens forever and I certainly can't have a bathroom full of permanent cat residents.  One day I will have an indoor/outdoor cattery.  It's on my to-do list.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My "Quick" Trip to the Motor Vehicles Office

Today was the day.  The Motor Vehicles Department, a.k.a. MVD, is only open M-F 8-5pm.  I bought a temporary registration online which was good for 3 days.  The big bosses were in the office on Monday and Tuesday so my boss said I could get my new car registered today when the office was less active.  I checked the wait times online and it said only a 10 minute wait.  Off I went and gave the woman at the desk my paperwork.  She asked if I had taken the car for an emissions test.  Um, no.  Because I bought the car from someone who lives in an area where they are exempt from emissions testing, I had to get the test.  Of course, the testing place wasn't near the MVD office so I drove 15 minutes (I got a little lost) and passed the test.

Back to the MVD, I proudly presented my passing paperwork to the woman at the desk and I received my number to wait in line.  It was only a 10 minute wait (the website was correct about that) and I gave all of my documents to the clerk.  He seemed pleased that I had everything, including the notarized signature of the seller and the odometer reading.  He handed me my license plate and then...oops...he noticed that the car was classified as a van on the title.  PT Cruisers were classified as trucks when they first came out but someone must have thought it looked more like a minivan.  This gentleman thought it should be something else so he sent me out to have an inspection.  That was another 15 minute wait.  My vehicle was now classified as a 4DRSW, which I can only guess means 4 door station wagon?  I don't know.  Whatever they want to call it is ok with me.  Finally, it was time to pay.  Only $62 for the registration which is good for the next 16 months.  The emissions test cost me $12.25 so I should include that in the total cost.  That is only required every 2 years.

So, 2 hours later I get back to work and my boss says,"That was fast!"  Ha, if he thought that was fast maybe I should have stopped and looked at the big sheds that are for sale near my work.  Every time I pass them I think about stopping.  It's too soon for that yet.  Maybe in another 2-3 years if I can wait that long.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Out of Order

I have a plan in my head.  Pay off the mortgage, fix up my property so I can live out there, sell my house, quit my job and find something part time.  The smaller details are movable, as needed or wanted.  One of those details was buying a replacement for my truck.  It is getting older, has 206,000 miles, and has acquired a few quirks like the door locks not working at random times.  I have been trying to figure out what my next car will be and how much it will cost.  Since I was going to wait until my truck died, buying the next car would be an emergency and I would most likely go to the used car dealer, Clyde Wanslee "Ugly But Honest", where my mother bought her car.  After looking at their inventory, I assumed I would have to pay $8K-$12K.  That would either drain my savings or put my mortgage plan on hold for a while.

Last week, a coworker brought his wife's car to work to meet a prospective buyer.  I didn't take much notice since I didn't even know what he was doing until after lunch.  The buyer didn't show up and I heard him complaining about people on craigslist so I asked about the car and what he was asking for it.  He said it was a PT Cruiser, 2002 with 92,000 miles and he was asking $3,000.  My ears perked up.  We went outside to look at it and I drove it around the block.  It didn't have everything that I was looking for in my next vehicle but 92K miles for $3,000 sounded too good to pass up, plus, I know he takes very good car of his cars (unlike me).  I told him I would let him know by the end of the day.  After researching the car and the blue book value, I decided to go for it.

The PT Cruiser's biggest flaws seem to be gas mileage, only 20 mpg, and lack of power.  My truck only got 17 mpg so I moved up a little.  They also depreciate like crazy but that is a plus for me at this point.  It seats 5 and has lot of cargo space with removable seats in the back which was at the top of my want list.

Comfortably fits 3 dogs.
Of course, I had to make sure my dogs fit.  I don't know if I can drive it to my property yet.  It rides really low to the ground so I will have to take the alternate way and I probably shouldn't try driving up my rocky driveway.  If I can get to the beginning of my driveway, that will suffice for now.  I plan to fix my driveway eventually but that can wait.  

I'm happy with my purchase even though replacing my truck wasn't urgent yet.  Hopefully, this car will last me a long time or at least until I find another deal that gets better gas mileage and is higher off the ground.  The final price I paid was $2,800.  I hate negotiating but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask and he said yes.  My truck should sell for at least $1500.  If I use the $500 that I had left from September's mortgage money, that means I just need to find $800 from somewhere, either savings, mortgage money, or I need to sell more stuff.  I'll be getting the title and registration this week, maybe Wednesday.  Our new CEO is visiting Monday and Tuesday and I don't want to disappear to the motor vehicle department for who knows how long when he is here.  So much to do!  I don't want to have 2 auto's for very long.  Not only are they costing my money but they are cluttering up my driveway.  I need to simplify asap.    


Thursday, October 2, 2014


My boss's wife brought about 20 houseplants in to the office for us to plant-sit for the summer.  I wasn't in charge of plant-sitting so I just watched as the plants died, some rapidly and others slowly.  The only plant that liked it in the office was the pothos.  It is impossible to over-water those.  The succulent basket was the first to begin to die.  Finally, I "borrowed" the ill-looking plants and brought them home.  I figured I couldn't do much worse to them.

Two succulents in the basket survived although they looked lanky.  The kalanchoe in the photo were lanky and, after reading up on them, I tried everything I could think of to get them to respond but they slowly withered.

The only plant that appreciated my intervention was the miniature jade plant.  I found out that it grows outside in the shade here so I put it on my patio and it grew more leaves almost instantly.  

I felt bad that so many plants died even though I wasn't in charge of them so when I found out my boss was coming back today I bought a succulent bowl like the one that died.  Unfortunately, it was in a round bowl and the wife's pot was oval so I had to rip all the plants out and re-pot them in the original bowl.  I was going to take a picture but after I loaded the remaining 3 plants in to my truck and driving to work, I realized that I forgot my purse and phone.  I was so worried about getting the plants in the truck without dropping them I totally forgot that my purse wasn't in the truck.  It was a long day without my phone but I really don't need it.  The thing I missed the most was my chapstick.  I should keep a back-up in my desk.  And it is a good thing I got gas yesterday.

I insisted that my boss take the succulent plants home tonight.  I did not want to be responsible for them and I certainly didn't want them spending the weekend in the dark office.  I think that is part of the reason that they all died, well, that and over-watering.  I will gladly go back to a house free of houseplants.  I like to keep my plants outdoors.  One more day until the weekend!  After the very busy weekend I had last week, I am ready to sleep in and relax.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tales from My Trip

Since I got back from Minnesota on Monday morning, I had to jump right in to the work week.  I think things are back to normal now.  Two of the dogs refused to eat while I was gone.  They sure are eating a lot now!  It was a good trip but, of course, I am sorry for the reason my sister and I went in the first place which was for a funeral.  I got in late on Thursday and my sister picked me up since she got in much earlier.  We stayed near the airport and Mall of America which was convenient.  My sister's husband got us "elite" status at the Marriott which meant free wifi and breakfast.  Breakfast was good on Friday morning but on the weekend they made us go to the restaurant instead and they wanted us to pay an extra $4 for eggs and breakfast meats.  We said no and tried to be happy with toast, cereal and fruit.

It was really good to see my nephews and meet all of their relatives.  The nephew that I have guardianship for came over and said "Take me with you!" but he was just joking.  He is what I call a 'highest bidder' kid.  If I had said he could came back to Arizona and play video games and watch TV all the time he would jump at that in a second.  I think he is in a much better place in Minnesota surrounded by family and friends of family.  It will be harder now that his grandma is not around.  Someone needs to learn to cook and they will need to help out around the house more.  Hopefully their aunt and uncle will have an opportunity to be more involved in their lives.

We saw a little bit of St. Paul, mostly when we were lost.  the Mississippi is impressive and there are colleges and churches on every corner is seems.  St. Mary's cathedral looked just like the cathedrals in Rome.

So fancy!  I wonder how long it took to build.

The boys grandmother was the one who arranged for the Pieta statue to come back to the cathedral permanently after it toured the country.  It is an exact replica of the one in Rome.  The one in Rome has a plexi-glass barrier because someone attacked it with a hammer.  I could get much closer to the one at St. Mary's.

One evening we went to my nephew's football game (the older of the two brothers).  They lost but it was fun anyway.  I rarely go to football games.  Some of the visiting relatives were there too.  He had 11 family members cheering for him.  I wonder if he appreciated it.

Another evening my sister and I had a chance to roam around the Mall of America.  I can't believe there are that many stores.  We never made it to the fourth floor.  We did get quite lost but managed to find our shuttle back to the hotel.  I bet we would have lost our rental car in the parking lot if we had driven ourselves.

It was a good trip and I got to hang out with my sister which is a rare occurrence.  This trip cost me just under $1,000 for everything.  That is less than I expected so I might add $500 on to next month's extra mortgage payment.  I'm not sure though because I have more news that affects my finances coming soon and I haven't decided to just use money from savings or to put off my mortgage repayment for another month.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Back in My Own Bed

I'm back from my trip to Minnesota and sooo tired but I just wanted to tell you that I am home.  The dogs were thrilled that I came back.  The cats were both aloof and curious.  The quail didn't care either way.  The pet-sitter did a good job of not only keeping my pets alive, but all of my plants made it too.  She definitely earned her $40 a day.  That's a lot of money in Tucson and hardly any money at all in Southern California.  My sister was telling me that she paid someone $20 a day just to be a back-up pet-sitter for her one dog.  The person didn't even have to do anything, just be on-call in case the other pet-sitter had a change of plans.

Anyway, I am thrilled to have a reliable pet-sitter again.  Maybe this means I can travel more.  I don't really like to travel though.  The plane trips are stressful but I can't beat the speed.  How else can I wake up in Minneapolis and be working in Tucson in the afternoon.  It is almost 9pm, that's 11pm in Minnesota.  No wonder I am so tired.  4 more days until the weekend!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Million and One Things

This week has been so crazy and it is only Wednesday.  On Monday, I still wasn't feeling 100% but I had to go to work so I did.  I took some cold medicine and must have spend a good 20 minutes staring at my computer for no reason and then laughing to myself because I was staring for no reason.  On the way home my truck started idling funny at stop lights.  It was shaking and sputtered when I accelerated.  I had to stop at the feed store to buy more turkey food for my quail and then to another store to buy cat litter.  The truck was still shaking and sputtering.  As I turned on to my street, the 'check engine' light went on so I knew I was going to have to take my truck to a mechanic.  When I got to the front door of the house, I noticed a trail of ants going inside.  Ick.  I followed them and one group branched off to the kitchen while the other group went down the hall.  I turned on the hall light and it was burned out.  Ahhhh...too many things going wrong at once!  I changed the light bulb, sprayed some bug killer at the door, mopped up the ants, and then proceeded to do all of my regular chores.

I tried to think of a nearby mechanic but I only knew of ones that had over-charged me.  The only one that I heard good things about was 40 minutes away near my mother's house.  I called my mother and she said I could borrow her car so the next morning I got up early and drove all the way there.  Luckily, the truck was acting normal again, although, that turned out to be a bad thing when the mechanic couldn't figure out what was wrong with it.  The check engine code said that it was mis-firing but they checked the spark plugs, wires, and fuel injectors and couldn't find the problem.  I also asked them to fix the automatic door lock because it wasn't locking.  At least that is fixed now  So, after work I took my mother's car back and picked up my truck  It was a long day.

Today I had my dentist appointment for my permanent crown.  It went well, I think, but I still have a problem with one of the teeth on that side and I will have to wait until January to fix it because I am all out of insurance money for this year.  I shall chew carefully.  After the dentist, my truck started acting up again, shaking and idling rough.  I ignored it.  At least the 'check engine' light didn't come one.  I stopped at Walmart to buy the only sinus medicine that works for me.  It is the Walmart brand of sinus decongestant and I have relied on it for years.  They didn't have it.  I was shocked  I'm going to have to check another Walmart or (heaven forbid) actually find another brand that works.  I hope I can find enough of the pills in my purse, truck, and cabinet to get me through this weekend.  My sinuses have been giving me a lot of trouble lately with all the weather changes and then I was sick so my ears are plugged and I am going to fly tomorrow and that always messes me up.  Maybe I can buy some at a Walmart in Minnesota.

So, I leave tomorrow but before I go I have to write out instructions for the house/pet sitter.  She will be staying here and taking care of the dogs, kitties, quail and garden.  I attempted to hook up a simple drip watering system tonight but it got too dark so I will have to finish it tomorrow.  I should have done it long ago.  It would have saved me a lot of time.  I dusted off my suitcase and washed some clothes for the funeral which I haven't worn in a very long time.  The last time I traveled I went to Washington state to help my parents pack for their move to my house.  That was 2 1/2 years ago, I think.  That pet sitter made such a mess in my house, I never wanted to leave my dogs alone with anyone again.  Luckily, I trust my new pet sitter.  She works at an animal shelter so I am sure she can handle what ever happens even if my dogs aren't very well behaved for other people.

I have a ton of little things to do so I will try to get some sleep and not think about all of the things that I might forget.  Flying really stresses me.  I'm always afraid I am going to miss my flight or forget something important.  It is only 4 days.  I'll be back in no time at all.  I can do this.