Friday, August 23, 2019

Making Hybrid Plans

Hello again.  Everything has changed and nothing has changed.  That's because most of the changes have been in my head, as in, my ever-changing plans for the future.  Since my last post, I was really struggling with wanting to quit my job immediately.  I felt like if I agreed to go visit our company headquarters at the end of June, I would be committing myself to stay with this job for many more years.  Well, I decided that it wasn't time to quit just yet.  With our office closing in a year and changes continuing to happen with the company, I could at least hang on until next August.  Summer in Arizona is just a really hard time with high electric bills and day after day of exhausting heat.  I get discouraged because it doesn't seem like I am making any progress.  But, I told myself that I only had to get through June, July, and August and then the rest of the year would fly by.  It always does.  Once temperatures start to go down I can get back to checking things off my own to-do list and the next thing I know it will be January again.  

So, I bought the ticket to Connecticut and went to visit our company headquarters.  It was quite interesting.  I've worked for the company 12 years and I had visited our old headquarters when I was first hired but it was nothing like this place.  We have a manufacturing plant there and it was fascinating to finally see how they make things and to meet people who's names I have only seen on emails.  I'm glad I went.

In the meantime, I got a terrible sore throat which turned into an earache and kidney pain through most of July.  It was one of those things where one day I felt better and then the next day I felt worse.  The antibiotics didn't seem to do much and then my intestines revolted.  The doctor switched the antibiotic but I am just now starting to feel normal again.  That's over 2 months of feeling cruddy.  When I feel sick I always get scared about retiring early.  What would I do if I was relying on a part time job and then couldn't work?  I need more safety nets.

And also, I made some decisions about my mother's house that I am living in.  I decided to ask one sister if she wanted to buy the house with me and the other 2 sisters if they wanted to be bought out.  They agreed and we are working on getting the title switched.  My original plan was to rent the house out full time but during Jan., Feb., and Mar., we can get almost triple the year-round rent.  Then I thought I would rent it out as a furnished rental for those months and then have an estate sale and rent it out unfurnished as a year-round rental.  But I still didn't like that idea.  So my current idea is that I will move out December-March or April depending on if it is rented, and then I will move back in.  I'm going to use the extra room off of the closet to store my things that I don't need and live in my unfinished barn-shed tiny house.  My main priority is getting the electricity done.  I contacted the electrician again and we are aiming for the end of September when it gets cooler.  I haven't been out there all summer because of the heat and also the paper wasps that have made nests on the barn-shed.  They die off when the weather gets cool.  When the electrical wiring is done, I only need some insulation and I can glamp for 4 months or so.  I'll use the shower and washing machine in the mobile home and have a camping toilet, mini-fridge, induction cooktop, and microwave (I'll have to buy one because I sold my extra one at the last garage sale, oops).  I'll probably hook up a sink with just gravity fed water and a drain that goes outside.

When the house is vacant again, I'll move back in and pay my sister half of the going rate for yearly rent which I estimated at $650.  I will pay my own utilities and she will pay half of the property tax, insurance, HOA fees, and maintenance.  I will move out every year Dec-Mar. until I decide that I can't afford it or want to live in my tiny house full time.  Then we will sell the furnishings and rent it out on a yearly basis.

So that's the current plan.  While we are waiting for the paperwork to get worked out, I have been getting some things fixed around the house starting with the main sewer backflow valve which stuck closed for the second time since we moved here.  It is quite inconvenient when the sewer backs up.  I was doing laundry and taking a shower and I heard the toilet making funny sounds.  That was the sewage coming up.  Ugh.  Then the laundry drained and the toilet over-flowed while I was outside trying to remember where the main sewer clean-out was.  And I didn't realize that the sewage backed up into the washing machine until I was wearing the clothes from that load and wondered why I could still smell sewage.  Icky.  Everything got bleached.  It cost $800 for the valve to be replaced and I went ahead with the other plumbing problems, cracked garbage disposal, filter for water spout in kitchen, tighten kitchen faucet, fix bathroom faucets handles so that they stop instead of going all the way around, replace bathtub spout because the diverter wouldn't close to make the water pressure go to the shower.  Whew, done.  Now I just need the leak at the skylight fixed and a gate added at the side yard.  And I bought flowers for the front yard and need to get them in the ground before they die, I've just been waiting for it to rain which they said it would do today but nothing yet.

Now you are caught up again. Here are some pictures of my other summer projects:

This cart was a Christmas present to myself.  I finally put it together.
The carpet in the storage room got peed on by the chihuahuas I was fostering last year.  I took it outside and hosed it off then poured lysol and soap on it and rinsed.  I let is stay in the sun for days.  The padding was disgusting and went in the trash.  I thought about buying new carpet but it doesn't smell anymore and is already cut to shape.  Since I am going to be using the room to store my own stuff, I decided to put the carpet back in without padding.  If we ever rent the house year-round, I'll buy new carpet.

I bleached and painted the floor of the storage room before I put the carpet back.  It doesn't smell now.

A very long gopher snake visited my yard for a week.  He always startled me but I was glad to have him visit.

I repurposed the fiddle-muff that I had bought for my mom when she was in the assisted living home.  My dog appreciates it.

In my search for the water leak, I made a hole in the ceiling.  I think I know where the leak is coming in now.  The repairman will be here in a couple of weeks.

I have been having fun buying southwestern decor from the thrift stores around here.  I need a few more things.

I decided on "Italian chicken" as my theme for the kitchen.  Haha.  I don't think that is a "thing". Maybe I will be a trend-setter.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Budgets and Plans

I started this post back in March.  I need to update it again.
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Let's take a look at my financial freedom/semi-retire early plan again.  I admit it, I am a total scaredy-cat when it comes to quitting my stable, good-paying job.  I'm going to be updating my spreadsheets into my 60's if I don't get up some courage to just jump.  Or die at my desk.  That alone should make me want to quit.  What am I afraid of?  Running out of money and being too old or ill do make any more.  So, with that in mind.  Here is my current plan.

I have re-adjusted my minimum budget and removed health insurance.  My previous plan was to get insurance through Medicaid because that is what the ACA site told me I would qualified for.  Now, in Arizona, they have changed the requirements and any able-bodied person will need to work or volunteer 20 hours a week in order to qualify.  That is fine but if I am working part time, then I am just going to use that money to buy my own insurance.  When I looked up available plans, the cost was between $300 and $600/m.  I did not look up plans through the ACA exchange because the site won't let me see plans without putting in a lot of personal information and I don't need to do that now.  Maybe I will qualify for a subsidy but I am going to assume that I won't and just go with the highest price of $600 as my goal.  I can pay for that with a part time job, or selling on Ebay, or maybe some sort of small home business.


Back to the budget.  This is the minimum that I would need to survive. I know people will have comments.  Gas prices I can't control, only how much I drive.  I was spending a little over $400/m on food but I was buying a lot of junk food and eating a lot too.  I changed my diet, reduced my portions, and my bill has been closer to $50/week so I know it is attainable.  Maintenance is too low.  Car and home maintenance could be expensive.  Also, dog costs.  One vet bill will blow the whole budget.

So, what will I do about that?  Here is my income plan:

Rental 1- $1,050
Rental 2- $700

Subtract property management, taxes, insurance, maintenance.  Let's call my net profit $1,100 for both.  Since my rental income is not stable, as you know from previous posts, I am saving an additional amount, I call it the freedom fund.  I figured out how much I would need starting back in July of last year until I am 59 1/2 and can take money from my 401K.  That is 161 months or 13 years and 5 months.  I am adding $2K each month to my fund and subtracting $700 each month from the total needed since I'm getting older.  Where the two columns meet is where my freedom point is.  May 2020.  48 years old.  You might notice that my freedom fund did not start at $0.  I put $52,000 from the sale of my home into the fund to start, then I came up with this plan later.


Income:
Rentals: $1,100/m
Freedom Fund: $700/m
Total= $1,800/m

Budget: (-$700)
Health insurance: (-$600) part time job or business

Hooray for wiggle room and hopefully enough to get me through a rental income drought. 
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Now it is almost June.  12 more months until I've saved up enough for this plan.  A few expenses have gone up.  My cell phone plan went from $15 to $20.  I put my mother's car in my name.  The registration is $60 and the insurance is more although I plan to go back to liability coverage only once I move out to my property.  My portion of the inheritance will go to savings for rental house maintenance and making my tiny house and property livable.  But the house has to be sold first.

This week has not been as fun as I had hoped.  Working from home comes with its own set of challenges.  Mostly I don't like being isolated from my coworkers even though I only have one regular coworker in the office.  Maybe I just don't like that she is on vacation and everyone is asking me for answers that I don't know.  I would also need my computer and two large screens for my home office because working on a small laptop is frustrating.  Next week I will be back in the office.  The following week, my coworker will be traveling and I will be working from home again but she will still be working so I shouldn't get the questions that I can't answer.  The week after that, my sister will visit and we will sort through the contents of the house.  Then the week after that I'm traveling to our corporate office for a few days.  That pretty much takes care of June. I hope it is a productive month.





Monday, May 27, 2019

Which Direction to Go

I just returned from my mother's funeral in Washington.  As my aunt put it, "It was a fun time on a sad occasion."  It was good to see the family mostly all together.  My co-worker looked after my dogs.  She only lives 5 minutes away and knows them all because I bring them to work sometimes.  If I move from here, I'll have to find a new dog-sitter.  That brings me to my next subject, when will I be moving?  My optimistic answer is still November.  I don't have a place to move to yet though.  My nephew is still living in my mobile home and my tiny house still does not have electricity.  My job has not laid me off, in fact, they want me to go out to our corporate office in Connecticut at the end of next month to discuss the next project that I will be working on with accounting.  I just can't seem to quit a job with perks like bringing my dog to work, flexible schedule, and being able to work from home all of this week because my co-worker is on vacation and I would be alone in the office.  I'm going to hang on until the office lease is up August 2020 and see what happens.

Here is what has been going on at the house in the past month.  Gutters!  The old gutters were removed and new seamless gutters added.  No leaking anymore.  The black mold which has stained the pavers below will be gone after the landscaper replaces the walkway and fixes the drainage.  I hope that will be completed next month.  I don't have a firm date yet.


New windows!  The new windows are in and look great.  I hope it lowers the electric bill this summer.  I also dug out the old barrel cactus and planted some Lantana flowering shrubs.  The cactus are too heavy for me to move or cut up so I will ask the landscaper to haul them away.


My own tiny garden in the backyard is loving our abnormally cool weather.  This sunflower decided to bloom all at once.  I also have some grapes, Moringa, and alfalfa growing.  Last week was really windy and the grapefruit tree has been dropping the fruit that was out of my reach.  How convenient.  The wind also blew over my mailbox.  It appears the post rusted at ground level.  I still haven't decided how to fix it but it is propped up with rocks and a bungee cord attached to a screwdriver pounded into the ground until I think of something.


My co-workers all chipped in and bought me a tree for my mother.  They bought one for my father three years ago.  That was very nice of them.  This tree needs about an 18 inch deep hole.  I'll probably wait until the fall to plant it on my property when it is cooler and I won't have to worry about watering it.


My dove couple is back sitting on their third batch of eggs.  I wonder how long they will keep laying them.  It is fun to see the babies hatch and grow.
                                                                  

So, that's what is happening.  I'm also continuing to sort through boxes and plan a trip to New Mexico and Texas, probably in the fall since traveling with dogs during the summer seems too complicated. I'm leaning toward renting a minivan and turning it into a stealth camper with a 12V cooler, porta-potty, fan, and bed.  I'll have to actually look at minivans to see if my plan will work. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Journey's End

I had a post written for last week but my mother took a turn for the worse and my priorities changed.  She hadn't opened her eyes when I visited for two weeks prior.  She was sliding down in her wheelchair despite our attempts to keep her supported.  Her 79th birthday was last Tuesday and the hospice nurse called me to say that my mother wasn't eating but was still drinking protein shakes.  I visited her after work and she ate some birthday cake.  On Thursday, the nurse called again to say that she wasn't able to eat or keep liquids down and was in a lot of pain.  She said the end was near and she recommended liquid morphine which I approved.  When I arrived a few hours later she was still in a lot of pain and they said that the order for morphine had to be called in, filled, and delivered.  It wasn't there yet.  I waited for two hours stroking her hair until the drug finally arrived and she could sleep.  You would think that hospice would be able to keep a small amount on hand for such occasions.  For the next few days, I watched mom slide closer and closer to death.  Finally, I got a call at 4:30am on Tuesday that she was gone.


It's been a long, terrible journey with vascular dementia, a type of dementia I didn't know had a name a year ago.  I am glad she is finally free of pain.  I took the week off to get things organized and just take a break.  The funeral won't be until next month when everyone is available.  I'm trying to decide how long I want to stay in this house.  My sister will transfer the title into both of our names in order for me to stay if I want to since she is over 55, as this community requires one person to be over 55.  I have some time to decide. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Spring Projects

Spring is here and there are a million things to do.  I have a list of things that I would like to get done before it gets hot and I hide inside for 4 months (June through September).  The top two are replacement windows and gutters.  There are only 7 windows since the back of the house is covered with an enclosed porch and the west side doesn't have any windows.  I am hoping new windows will help with the electric bill this summer and I know they will help sell the house when the time comes.  The stucco around the old 70's aluminum windows is also in need of repair and that can be done after the new windows are put in.  The leaky gutters run along the back of the house and will be replaced with seamless ones.  Unfortunately, the fascia board along the back is also rotted and needs to be replaced.  I'm talking with a handyman on Wednesday to see if he can replace the fascia and do something to help drain the water away from the house near the down spout.


On the other side of the house, I am having the gutters re-routed towards the front of the house so that the water will go to the street.  Too bad I can't save it all and magically transport it to my property where my mobile home is.  LoL.  One house has too much water, the other not enough.

I'm also sorting stuff for another community garage sale this weekend.  A co-worker brought some items over too so I have lots of stuff to sell.  He brought Pyrex bakeware, I have cheap Anchor Hocking.  I think I'll swap them and sell mine.  He also brought some nice pans.  I might swap those out too.  No fair keeping stuff if I don't get rid of something else though.  I'm not a hoarder...well, ok, a little bit.

Besides that, I've been spending a lot of time chopping up branches to fit in trash bags.  I miss the giant dumpsters from my old house.  My trash service here only picks up what is in bags.  That means thorny bushes have to be chopped up into small sticks.  I finished the small Palo Verde tree last weekend and will continue with the thorny lemon tree branches until they are gone.  I also tried some ground clear weed killer yesterday.  I hate weed killer but the weeds in the river rock were getting out of hand and I had a bottle of this stuff from my last tenant.  I had bought it for him to use on thBermuda grass around the mailbox but he never used it.  It's one of those bottles that hook to the hose.  I think it was working, hard to tell.  I suppose I will know when the weeds die or look healthier.  Hopefully, I didn't get the stuff too close to my cactus.  The homeowner's association is coming around to check on weeds at the end of the month and issue violation notices.

Still green. Guess it didn't work.
I met with another handyman out at my property to show him the next projects.  I want a deck next to the shed-house and a carport and another carport/rain roof where the garage used to be.  I emailed the county permitting department about my plans and they said that there was a 1500 sqft. limit to the amount of accessory structures I can have.  So, I scaled back my plans and I will go with a small carport for now.  Perhaps when I move out there and get gutters on everything I will find that I have enough roofs for water collection.

And in other news:  My mother is doing ok.  Not good, just ok.  She is a tiny skeleton of her former self but she still eats enthusiastically.  Some days she seems to recognize me and other days not.


The dogs are doing well.  The new old guy, Baloo, fits in nicely.  The little dogs still bark at him when he comes near but not as much as they did when he first got here. When we go for a walk he only walks two houses away before he wants to go back home.  His back legs are weak and sometimes he trips and just lays on the ground for a while. But he enjoys his many dog beds, the plethora of squeaky toys, and treat time. It is cute the way he enthusiastically greets me when I get home along with the other two.


And there are two baby doves growing up on my front patio.  Momma dove built her nest on a shelf near the front door.  I hope the babies never fall out of the nest because the dogs walk by them unaware everyday. I wonder if Momma bird is regretting her choice of nesting site.


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Learning the Hard Way

Trench dug, conduit in, trench filled.  Progress!  Sounds easy and simple. 

What actually happened was:
Day 1- bought pvc pipe, rented mini-excavator, trench was dug in under 15 minutes by the guy who rents the machines, ends of trench were hand dug by me and my nephew, pipe was glued, picture was sent to electrician, electrician said "wrong pipe".

Oh boy.  I've spent hours in the plumbing aisle and no time in the electrical aisle.  I won't forget this lesson, ever.


Day 2- bought correct pipe.  Grey pipe = good.  Found out 10' pipe does fit in my mother's car.


 Replaced pipe in trench.  Spent the rest of the day moving the stuff in the barn-shed to the center so the electrician has room to work but I really need to move most of it to the mobile home.


Whew, done for now.  Waiting for the electrician to run the wires.

Came home to this dove nesting by my front door.  I hope she doesn't mind a gaggle of dogs going in and out of the door everyday.


Next thing:  Work on taxes and sort through stuff for the community garage sale at the end of the month.  I'm running out of March already.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Progress on the Tiny House, Sort Of

Things are finally starting to move forward out at my property again.  Some of you may recall that I put around $10k into the old mobile home in 2015 so that my nephew and I could live within the school bus boundaries for our preferred school district. 

This is how it looked before:


This is after (before the other furniture and cabinets.


This was my mom making curtains.


Then, I let a guy rent the place at the recommendation of the dog rescue.  He had 2 dogs and 2 cats and needed a place asap.  That was ok but he smoked and cleaning was not high on his priority list.  He moved into the 2 bedroom rental house that I bought and then moved to Brazil last year.  In the meantime, my nephew decided that he wasn't ready for college and returned to Arizona.  I felt he needed to learn some responsibility so he is currently renting the mobile home from me for a small sum plus electricity monthly and buying his own food.  I had hoped this would encourage him to get a job.  He did have a seasonal job for the past few months but that's over now.  He is learning how to budget his money, conserve food and water and live minimally, so at least he is learning something. 

Yesterday I took the afternoon off and met the electrician out at the property, finally, since he had to reschedule 3 times.  He was fantastic.  He changed the RV outlet into a dryer outlet, moved the dryer into the back room, listened to my plans for the barn-shed tiny house, looked over all of the electrical power available, figured out how we won't have to dig under the mobile home (yay!) and told me what I need to do and what to buy before he can come out again and bring power to the barn-shed.  I am so happy and now I have a lot to do if I want to get it done before summer.  The plan is to steal the power from the greenhouse/hot tub pump.  That's 70 amps.  I need to rent a trencher and dig an 18" deep trench from the greenhouse to the barn-shed, about 45'.  I hope it is easier than it sounds.  I can also pay someone to do it but I don't know how much that would be.  My nephew and I will attempt it first.  Then I will buy PVC to use as conduit and exchange my indoor power box for an outdoor box.  I bought the wrong one but I still have the receipt.  He also said he would wire the inside which is awesome because although I could learn how to do it myself from a book and Youtube, it is even better to learn from a professional, especially when electricity is concerned.

This is my preliminary sketch of the electricity needed:

And here is the picture of what I am talking about.  #2 is the mobile home where the dryer was installed.  #3 is the barn-shed tiny house which I am trying to get electricity to.  #1 is a storage shed.  #4 is the 3,000 gallon water tank.



And, my nephew mentioned that he is almost out of water.  He started out with a little less than 3,500 gallons last April and has been stretching it by not showering, doing laundry, or doing dishes.  Hmmm... that's not good.  He buys drinking water from the store so that isn't included.  I told him he would have to pay for the water delivery when he ran out.  That's $150.  But, there are a ton of chores he can help me with out there so he can work it off starting with helping me pick up another water tank with his pickup truck (which used to be mine).  My main water tank is 3,000 gallons and the water truck delivers 3,500 gallons which I have to pay for whether I have room for it or not so I am going to buy another 500 gallon tank so that I can get all of the water.  That is a chore for a Saturday but not this Saturday since it will be rainy and cold.  The next Saturday will be back up in the 70's so I will plan for that.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Typical Week

My goal each week is to go straight home after work as much as I can.  This week is already filling up.  Typically, I visit my mother on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I feel bad when errands get in the way.  One rental house was having trouble with the stove so I arranged for the repairman to come by between 12 and 3.  I work nearby so I drove over to pay the repairman, twice actually, once for the estimate and once again to pay because he had to go pick up the part. It would be nice if he took credit cards over the phone but I guess they aren't that advanced.  $388 for the ignition switch replacement.  That was right on the border of replace rather than repair but the tenant likes the stove, she actually hugged it when I mentioned replacing it, and I didn't see the same style online.  It isn't that special, it just has a place in the middle to rest pots, kind of like the ones with a 5th burner except it doesn't have a burner in the middle.  The repairman said that the ignition switch was the main thing that goes out so it should last for a long time with a new switch.   

I cancelled another after-work vet appointment for my new dog.  His digestive system has finally acclimated to the new food and even though he still licks at his leg where he had a lump removed, I am going to make him wear the soft collar and give it more time to heal because the vet doesn't have any sure-fire solutions, just more antibiotics (he has had 2 different kinds) and expensive blood tests ($330) to compare to the blood tests he had last month. 

I also need to go out to my property and take some photos for the electrician.  My nephew is still living in the mobile home on the property and he has finally started doing his laundry.  This might seem like a simple thing but the washer has no water hookups so first he puts the drain hose out the window, then puts his clothes and soap in, then brings the water hose, which is hooked to the water tank, inside and fills the washer (top-loader).  Then repeats filling the tub with water for the rinse and voila!  Clean clothes.  That is the way I used to do it when I lived out there back in 2010 when I still had a washer and dryer in the old garage, before I had is taken down.  The electrician is coming out a week from Saturday to install a dryer outlet. 
 
Dryer will go in this room which is at the end of the mobile home in the picture below.


Normally, I would say, just hang your clothes to dry but I want a dryer outlet for myself when I eventually move out there and the electrician is also going to advise me on bringing power to the barn-shed.  After a crazy year, I finally have a little bit of time and money to think about improvements on my property.  I wish I could snap my fingers and have everything done like fences, the interior of the barn-shed finished, porches and rainwater collection set up, etc....  It's a big wish list.     

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Rental Update

I forgot to mention the status of my 2 rental houses.  Let's review:

House 1:  4 bedrooms/2 bathrooms.  Under property management at a cost of $100/m.  The tenant moved out at the end of October.  The maintenance group sent me a list of needed repairs/cleaning.  Subtracting the tenant's deposit, they still wanted around $2K!  $1500 just for "touch-up paint".  Since I had re-painted the year before, I looked at the walls and they only needed a little bit of paint.  I did it myself for $20.  The new tenant moved in at the beginning of December.  I hope they stay longer than a year.

This was the worst wall needing touch-up paint.  It took 5 minutes to fix.

House 2:  2 bedrooms/1 bathroom.  This is the small house I bought with home equity for the tenant who was living in my mobile home.  He moved to Brazil in January of 2018.  I was overwhelmed with getting my home ready to sell and decided to try an experiment.  I contacted the local homeless tent camp and ask if I could house a Veteran.  They recommended two people, one was a Veteran and the other a civilian with a car.  At first they seemed agreeable to being roommates but then decided not to move in together.  The guy with the car wanted to try renting the house by himself and had just got a dishwashing job so I said we would try it for 3 months. 

Well, with everything going on with my mother during the summer, 3 months stretched into 6 months but he wasn't able to keep a job to pay the rent.  Once I had completed the driveway install and fencing replacement, I told him he would have to leave so he did but left so much junk behind.  Now, when he moved in there was junk from the previous tenant and cleaning it up was part of the agreement but it didn't happen.  I took a day off, hired a housecleaner, bagged up everything and shoved it outside.  

Driveway added, metal fencing replaced chainlink.
I donated everything that was still usable.  Clothes went to the collection bin and the other items went to the thrift shop.


My handyman took it away to the dump.  A few repairs were made, sink unclogged, gates added to the side yards, and I listed the house again, this time looking for a Section 8 voucher tenant. I had 3 people interested but then the housecleaner told me she was interested.  I chose her.  She has a job and knows how to clean - Bonus!  I hope she stays a long time.

The cash flow is finally coming in instead of going out for the rentals.  I certainly lost a lot of money last year but I am back on track now. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Playing Catch-Up

It's been a while for sure.  I think about my blog every once in a while but the lack of exciting news in my life seems to keep me from writing a post.  Plus, one of the main reasons for this blog was to keep my mother up-to-date with my life so that she wouldn't call me with a million questions.  She isn't able to read now so the motivation is gone.

Living with my mother was harder than I expected.  There was no way to keep her happy.  At the end of June, she agreed to move-in to an assisted living place because she didn't like being alone all day while I was at work.  We moved her there.  The weather was so hot and my nephew and I moved her stuff there ourselves.  It was a nice one bedroom apartment which opened to a shaded courtyard.  She hated it and they said they couldn't keep her.  I think she was there a whole 10 days.    I brought her back to the house for a week while I looked for a memory care place closer to home.  The cost was a lot more, $5,000 compared to $2,800, but at least she couldn't walk out.  The new place moved her stuff for us.  I was so happy about that. 

She hated it there too and called me many times a day to tell me but I couldn't bring her back to the house.  She wasn't able to live without supervision anymore.  People try to be helpful and say couldn't you just hire someone to stay with her while you are at work?  I could, but I could not mentally stand it.  She didn't know what time it was.  Knocked on my bedroom door at all times of day and night.  Moved stuff around so that I couldn't find things.  Wanted to drive the car.  Walked out the door. Complained of all sorts of illnesses and issues from wetting the bed to not liking her shoes.  Wrapped up food, trash, soiled clothes and hid them until they molded and smelled.  Poured oil on the stove. Turned the A/C up when she was cold (yes, it gets colder).  Thinks people are stealing from her and breaking in to the house.  I could go on and on but anyone who has experience with dementia knows what I'm talking about.  I did find a special programmable phone for her after she called 911 ten times at her new place.  Instead of single numbers the buttons only call preset people.  I'm glad someone invented that because I didn't want her to be totally cut-off from communication.  Unfortunately, she can't remember how to work the TV or her computer anymore and she can't read well so she is bored most of the time.  If you want to rile her up just say the word "Bingo".  She hates it.  I spent about 6 hours with her on Sundays, took her to church and shopping or out to eat.  It was getting more difficult though because last time she refused to get out of the car when we got back and before that she grabbed on to my arm and wouldn't let me leave.  I would have visited her more if she was more amicable.

In the middle of this moving from one assisted living apartment to another, Jimmy-dog suddenly became ill with diarrhea and vomiting.  I took him to the vet and they tried to help him but he died at home the next day.  I think his tumor finally interfered with something important.  I miss him.  


With mother out of the house and Jimmy-dog gone, I tried fostering again.  I took in two chihuahuas after a local shelter had flood damage.  It was only supposed to be for a month but it stretched into 3 months and I finally returned them.  The two chihuahuas were very scared and I was hoping they would like me and relax here but they stayed in the closet and only came out to pee on my stuff.  I had to put up a puppy gate in front of the closet to keep them in while I was at work. 


I also tried to foster a larger dog but that was a disaster.  I picked out a dog that was on the euthanasia list.  He was black and tan like Jimmy-dog and I thought maybe I could adopt him if he fit in.  Well, someone else wanted him so the rescue suggested that I get another dog.  This is where I should have said NO but he was going to die and I thought, maybe, he was a pit bull mix, not one I would have picked, but his evaluation just said he was a little shy so I drove an hour and a half to get him.  Then, I volunteered (I must have really been feeling energetic that day) to transport another larger dog at the same time.  I thought I would just drop the other dog off but as I was driving back the rescue called and said they couldn't get ahold of the person who was going to foster the larger dog, then, when they realized the dog wasn't neutered they asked if I could drop him off at the vet in the morning.  I said ok, one night wouldn't hurt.  


So I dropped him off the next day and then they asked if I could keep him for a week while he heals from surgery because the other foster home had a pool and they didn't want the incision to get wet.  I reluctantly agreed.  These two new dogs quickly became more than I could handle.  They were both around 4 years old and very strong.  The one I was supposed to foster was not house trained and my bedroom became a disaster area.  My terrier did not like either one of the big dogs and let them know it.  He got bitten 3 times in the head, the last time he was bitten I ended up crying to the rescue that I just couldn't do it.  I felt like a failure but I had to protect my dog.  Things got out of hand so quickly.  By the end of the week I was taking my terrier to work with me every day and we were hiding out in the guest room at night because the foster dogs would whine and scratch at the door for hours but I couldn't trust them around my terrier. Finally on Saturday I took the larger dog to his new foster home and the smaller (50 pound) dog had to go to a boarding facility until they could find a new foster.  I paid for his boarding so the rescue wasn't really inconvenienced and they found him a new foster home 2 weeks later.  Later on my dog's head got infected and he needed half of a face lift to close the wound.  I will spare you the Frankenstein picture.  I thought he had only been scratched but it was actually a puncture wound.

Around the end of September, my mother fell.  When I went to visit her, she was in a wheelchair and now had to wear diapers.  No one could explain why she suddenly couldn't walk and she could barely say coherent words.  I thought she might get better but the doctor at the facility just gave her more sedatives and anti-anxiety meds.  She fell out of bed and her wheelchair many more times.  Finally, I took her to a previously scheduled neurology appointment with a doctor she had seen back in April.  He was appalled by her condition and told me to take her to the ER for a complete work-up.  We spent the next couple of days at the hospital while the very young doctors tried to diagnose her.  What we did find out was that she had a broken pelvis from a previous fall and extra fluid on her brain.  There was ultimately nothing they could do for her that wasn't invasive surgery.  We didn't think she would survive another surgery so I took her back to the care-home.  My sister came out to visit and we went to look at a smaller group home where we thought she would get better care and attention.  We moved her there and that is where she is now.  The hospice people come and visit her and make sure that she is getting good care.  They got her a hospital bed with an air mattress and a wheelchair.  Her condition is about the same.  Some days she sleeps a lot and some days she is awake and trying to stand up.  She is still close by and I try to visit her 3 times a week.  Lately, I think she recognizes me but I never know if she will or not.

And back to the dog situation.  My other sister came out to visit for Christmas and we went dog-shopping at the pound.  I was looking for an old mellow dog, preferably female.  Well, I found this old guy.  He was sleeping and didn't seem to care about the barking around him.  He is 14 years old according to his previous owners, 75lb. pit-chow mix, and arthritic.  I brought my terrier to meet him and it went well so I brought him home.  I know he won't be around for very long but I'm glad I can give him a comfortable bed and good food while he's here.

He has a soft cone on so that he doesn't lick his leg where he had a lump removed.
One last photo of the Arizona snowman made from the 3 whole inches of snow week got the first week of January.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Hello, Again

I took mom to the lake this weekend.  Not much happening there.
I don't know about you but to me these weeks are just flying by.  Now that I don't have a mortgage, I need to get serious about saving for my early-semi-retirement, or job change, or long vacation, or whatever you want to call it.  The sale of my house gave me $50k to start off the fund and it is invested in a mutual fund.  I figured out that I can realistically save $2K a month.  My goal is to save enough to give me $1,000 per month until I am old enough to start withdrawing money from my 401k.  I should reach that goal in three years.  Ugh, three more years.  It seems too far away. 

My original plan was to just eliminate my debt and live off of my rental income but that income is unreliable at times and this $1,000 a month will give me a cushion when the rentals are vacant.  Also, health insurance is still an unknown.  There used to be a lot of low cost major medical plans and plans with health savings accounts but they seem to have disappeared.  Now, when I put in my expected income, the calculators say that Medicaid is my only option.  I don't know whether that is good or bad.

Since I just had a birthday, three years from now will put me at 49.  Maybe I should just go for 50. Or maybe I should stop putting it off and just jump ship now.  I don't want to regret leaving a good job too soon but I don't want to regret missing out on other parts of life.  Will I ever find a balance?

On to the update:

Rental house 1- Rented with a good tenant who pays on time.  After putting some of the rent aside for taxes, insurance, and maintenance, I have $600 to go in my early retirement account.

Rental house 2- Rented.  After expenses, I should have $500 for my early retirement account.

Mobile home - My nephew is living here and I only charge him $50/m plus whatever the electric bill is.  There is a water tank there with 2500 gallons of water.  If he uses it up he will have to get it filled at $150 per 3000 gallons.  He doesn't have a job yet.  I told him that if he lines up an interview then he can use my truck and then when he lands a job he can buy it from me for minimal cost.  So far, he hasn't taken me up on that offer. 

Tiny shed-house - I hated to do it but it is stuffed with my extra belongings right now.  I didn't have time to downsize like I wanted too.  I wanted to leave it empty so that I could get the wiring and plumbing, walls and floors done with ease.  That plan has been put on the back burner but it is still my goal to live there in when I semi-retire.

The house I live in now is owned by my mother.  I don't pay rent but I pay all of the utilities.  My side of the house is full of boxes that I need to sort through.  It is always on my to-do list but I rarely have time for it on the weekends.

Pets- I still have my three dogs.  I'm not fostering right now but hope to get back in to it when I live in my tiny house although it will be crowded.  Perhaps the mobile home can be my kennel. Who knows what things will be like in three years.  One of my sisters is moving to Texas, the other is moving to Ohio.  Maybe I'll decide to move.  I can't say I haven't thought about it.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

SOLD!

The house has sold! It took 5 months of work on weekends and holidays and days off, but it is finally over.  After paying back the money I borrowed from my mother for the installation of air conditioning, and the money I raided from my nephew's college fund, I net $50k. $30 will get invested and $20 will go somewhere, maybe some projects and a trip to Europe? 

I haven't decided yet because things around here haven't slowed down. My nephew informed me on Monday that he was leaving school. His grandfather, with whom he was living during the past summer, had a stroke and is not in a position to invite him back. Unfortunately, the kid hasn't ingraciated himself with his other Minnesota relatives, so he will be returning to AZ in two days. Since I have moved in with my mother, there isn't a place for him here, or, let me be more specific, I will not be buying food for, providing meals for, cleaning up after, providing transportation for or otherwise mothering my nephew. We will be exploring housing and job options next week which will include the old mobile home which we lived in during his junior year of high school and possibly a studio apartment. But anyway, that is a future project. Let's get back to my house.

 The view from across the street. Typical 70's slump block home in Tucson, AZ.
 The 70's rock wall in the entryway. The colored glass is an interesting touch. I wonder if it is original to the house.
 Rock fireplace in the sunken living room. I used this room for storage since there is no garage.
 Looks nice with all my junk in it. LoL.
 The dining area off of the living room. I used this as the computer area.
 The family room. This is where I had my TV since it is connected to the kitchen. Make food and watch Hawaii 5-0!
 Another angle.
 The new kitchen. It didn't turn out exactly as planned. I bought cabinets from RTA.com and I should have bought a sample door but I was in a hurry and when they arrived, I hated them. I had to change my plan a bit and add more lights to make them look less dreary and green.  They were supposed to be antique white. I have since learned that antique white is more like white that has sat for 100 years in a house with a wood cooking stove so that it now looks dingy and drab. I still don't like them but it doesn't matter because someone did like them and bought the house. At least they are good quality plywood cabinets instead of the particle board and plastic cabinets I had before. (except for the doors which are MDF medium density fiber board.)
 The bedroom was never this clean with all of my dogs in it. It cleaned up well though.
 This bathroom had already been remodeled by the previous owners so I didn't do anything.
 This bathroom got a new vanity cabinet, shelf, mirror, shower doors, toilet and towel bars.
The yard got cleaned up. It looks much nicer than this when the trees have leafed out. This was taken at the end of January.

So, that finishes that house. I finally don't have to go work on any urgent projects this weekend. I get to stay home and do my taxes. LoL.