Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Eek and Groceries

Eek!  Four days have gone by since I last blogged.  Howthehell did that happen?

Admittedly, I typically honor an Internet-free weekend to give my eyes and fingers and technology a breather; they all get major work-outs during the week.  Even so, I last wrote on Friday and here it is Tuesday.  Wow.  Time flies.

It was a good weekend:

  • Games with friends on Friday night overlooking a busy waterway;
  • A cleaning day Saturday, picking up where I left off on Friday, and I also joined Weight Watchers under the proverbial wire to take advantage of their $1.00 joining fee special (a relative is sponsoring me on this; she wanted a buddy, knew I couldn't afford it on my own, and asked for my assistance in exchange for her footing the bill);
  • A get-together with some beloved gal pals on Sunday, which started off with a thirty-five-minute trek taking two hours thanks to one wrong turn and horrific traffic, and ended with one of us happily passed out on a gravity chair; always the sign of an excellent gathering.

Yesterday was a standard "work day" for me as I continue my job search, then I attended my first Weight Watchers meeting last night and got the skinny on the hooey of the new Points Plus program, which I like already; it makes sense to me, especially since it allows me to indulge in a glass of Cupcake wine, should I choose to do so.

My challenge is going to be my grocery budget.  I have gotten my grocery bill down to $30.00 or less per week.  No joke.  That is an average which includes the additional, less frequent expense of toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning supplies.  I always come home with proteins, dairy, condiments, spices, carbohydrates and fruit (my last shop, I came home with four pounds of bananas to accommodate my daily smoothie and two pounds of cherries).  I will also buy potatoes on occasion.  I rarely buy wine of any sort - even an $8.00 bottle of Cupcake wine - because it will put me over budget, and I'm not going to go over budget just so I can have a glass of wine at night; I'll stick to water, thanks.

What I am not good about buying, even though I love so many of them, are vegetables.  They tend to be so expensive that by the time I get to them, having just grabbed bananas and cherries or grapes, I am at the top of my budget.  I have a coupon for $1.00 off a large container of Annie's Organics greens, so I will be sure to get a large container when I go shopping on Thursday.  By the way, I only go grocery shopping every two weeks.
On Points Plus, five servings of fruits and vegetables are expected to be consumed daily, and rightfully so.  Not only that, as long as they're whole (not dried or otherwise re-routed to change their basic construction), they're free; they don't tally points.  I love that.  I just need to figure out how to get everything I need and not go over my budget, which has near-zero wiggle room.

Any thrifty suggestions?  I would be grateful.  Tomorrow, I'll blog about the thriftiness I've discovered in myself since being unemployed.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cleaning Up

Today has been a fantastically productive day; more so than usual.  Since my body decided I was done sleeping around 6:00am, I started my day a bit earlier than usual.

After breakfast, I finally decided to tackle the mess that was my dining table.  I sifted, threw, filed and cleaned until I could see its top, unobstructed.  Then I tackled stuff that had accumulated on chairs and did the same thing.  When all was said and done, I'd all but filled my kitchen trash can, which was both gratifying and unsettling; gratifying for having done it and unsettling for seeing what I'd allowed to accumulate.

Next was the stove.  Armed with a sponge, some water and a box of baking soda*, I went to town on the splatters and such.  Ten minutes later, my stove was sparkling clean and I was putting the burners (it's a gas stove) into the sink with more baking soda and hot water for them to soak.

While the burners were soaking, I vacuumed the downstairs floors, then came upstairs and tackled the toilet (hard water = tough stains!).  That done, I went back downstairs and gave the burners a super-light scrubbing then left them to drip dry and cleaned the sink and faucet.

All that's left is for me to vacuum upstairs and do some dusting, and my townhouse will be looking more than a little spiffy.

*TIP!  Baking soda is not just for baking and/or odor management.  Want to gently and thoroughly clean your appliance?  Sprinkle a generous helping of baking soda directly onto the appliance, dampen a sponge and go to town.  Make sure it's a lot of baking soda to a little water so the paste does the work for you.  No chemicals and it's easy on the budget, to boot!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

24-Hour Notice

Image Credit
One of my landlords dropped off a bill for my propane usage and a copy of my new lease this morning.  As she did so, she asked if she could come in for "just a minute" to do her annual inspection.  I said, "no," explaining that my house was a mess and I'd rather clean it up first; I'd be happy for her to inspect it tomorrow.  She replied she'd be back in a couple days.

What I didn't say, but wanted to, was, "By law, twenty-four hours' notice is required before entering a tenant's residence unless there is a reasonable emergency."  My landlords are kind and I've known them for ages; the history breeds a familiarity that renders such inquiries commonplace.

Today was the first time I said "no," though.  I did so nicely and in a matter-of-fact manner, and was, I must confess, pleased that I handled it so well.  I don't like saying "no," but become more adept at it each time I do so.

How good are you at saying "no" and/or standing up for your rights while maintaining your integrity?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Upgrade And Relief

I went to Walmart today as planned, intending to purchase the CPU I'd decided on after trolling their site last night via my Tab.  I got to the computer section and the first thing I saw was a display of laptops.  Curious, I paused to, look.  Five minutes later I was walking out of the store with ... a laptop!

I couldn't do otherwise, given the deal: $298.00; 15.6" HD screen; webcam; Windows 7; MS Office 2010.  I spent the bulk of the afternoon transferring files from the desktop to the laptop, then finally shut it down sometime after 6:30pm tonight, teased by inklings of the possibilities that come with not having to be tethered to a desk in order to access the Internet.

Above all else, there is gratitude standing hand in hand with relief.  When did technology go from being a bonus to being a necessity in most homes?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Meltdown Over The Dishpan

I went to my parents' house for dinner with two of my brothers which, with the addition of a spouse, a niece and two nephews, equaled dinner for nine.  Spaghetti with homemade sauce and meatballs, garlic bread and salad.

I was a hot mess.  I actually don't get worked up or stressed out all that much - especially overtly - but this computer business threw me for a loop and I was not good company.

Not my mother's dishpan, but it will do.
I took over dishes after supper because I needed to do something to occupy myself.  I could feel tears building up and could tell I wasn't going to be successful at keeping a lid on them.

Sure enough, wrist deep in dishwater, I had tears streaming down my face.  My mother came over and assured me everything was going to be fine; she was going to write me a check for the CPU (the tower part - hard drive - of a desktop computer) as it was "only" $298.00 at Walmart.  That made me cry harder.

"I'm almost forty-six years old," I wailed quietly.  "It's not supposed to be this way."  ("It" being joblessness; low income; needing to accept help from my parents.)

I want to reiterate that I'm pretty good at managing stress and such.  Most of the time I can rise above it after looking it in the eye and acknowledging it; giving it its measure of time and then moving forward.

Tonight, not so much.  I came home early because that's what I needed to do.  There are still tears trickling down my face and there might be more wailing before the night is over.

And that's okay.  I'm looking stress, fear and a bit of self-pity in the face.  I'm acknowledging them and giving them their measure of time.  Then I'll move forward.

Tomorrow, I'll go to the bank and deposit that check, then I'll go to Walmart to get the CPU.  And move that picture to where it's supposed to be in this post, since Blogger mobile won't let me.

Really, Retrograde?

I intended to write a post about some of the tips and tricks I've employed since being unemployed.  My computer had other ideas, as it has decided to refrain from accessing the Internet to the point of scrubbing its IP address.  Quality time spent with two tech agents at my ISP gently guided me to the understanding that my computer, which is fast approaching nine years of age, is tired ... And ready for permanent retirement.

Glancing at the calendar on the wall beside my desk, imbued with inspiring imagery and Eckhart Tolle's wisdom, I noticed the event listed on today's date ...

Monday, August 1, 2011


I am deeply saddened by the recovery of 11-year-old Celina Cass' body today ... I had been praying for her safe return; somehow miraculously unharmed.

Prayers and blessings of peace for her family, friends, and those who did so much to find her.

One-Sided Conversation

Dear Journal (thought I'd try this approach on for size),

I have this friend ... No, really, I do!  Actually, he's the same friend who made the "well, at least you have hair" comment on Saturday night.  We've been friends for the better part of twenty years and, I swear, sometimes that old adage, "familiarity breeds contempt," seems to apply to how he treats me ... Or how I allow him to treat me.  sigh.  I sometimes abhor being a rational, growth-oriented adult.

Over the past eight years, our relationship has been through major upheaval due to changes in my  life, changes in his life and changes in our lives where they mesh.  Some of it was ugly.  One of the side effects of that is what this post refers to:  one-sided conversation.

For example, I will either call, e-mail or text him asking a specific question or sharing something I want him to be aware of so he won't hear it from someone else.  He doesn't answer the phone and so it goes to voice mail; the e-mail and text are out in the ether.  And there's no response.  Nada.  Nothing.  Not even to the question, which is not idle; I don't bother him with idle questions anymore for that very reason.  In fact, my communication with him is, for all intents and purposes, only on an as-needed basis for that very reason.  Except when we get together to play cards or games or some such thing.

(By the way, here's where I tell you that I'm not going to be a fanatic about my grammar, etc.  And it ain't easy not to edit, let me tell ya.)

I have this image of him grimacing when he glances at his ringing phone and sees it's me - like the guy in the picture, which is not him; it's a stock photo that I have the right to use.  I have this image of him grimacing when he sees an e-mail from me and him clicking delete without reading it.  I have this image of him grimacing when he sees a text from me and ignoring it or later telling me he never got it (one of his go-to responses when we're face to face and I ask, in my folly, "did you see my text?")

So, what happens when he contacts me?  I'm glad you asked.  First, contact will not be via e-mail unless he has no recourse; contact will be via either text or phone, but predominantly text.  If he texts a question, he expects an answer.  If I don't reply (this almost never happens; I can't bring myself to be that way), then he'll call.  If I don't answer (this almost never happens; I can't bring myself to be that way. did I already say that?), he'll leave a cryptic message and expect a response ASAP.

This whole thing has the potential to drive me bonkers.  Even after years of this behavior, and even after years of work around my ego (I've read "The Four Agreements" and Eckhart Tolle; I get my ego and I've even named her) and not taking things personally, I take it fucking personally.  This behavior can take me down into the suck hole and next thing I know, I'm throwing myself yet another pity party.  It can enshroud an otherwise lovely day in dense, stinky fog.

I don't know what to do about it.  Clearly my "allowing" it to continue undermines my self-esteem, but the thought of losing that relationship breaks my heart.  I'm welling up just considering that outcome and typing these words.  What is this spell?

I don't know what to do ...