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Making Do

January 16th, 2017 at 12:52 am

We are out of garlic powder. Even though we have a ton of garlic in the garlic braid I made this summer from what I grew in the garden, sometimes I just like to use garlic powder. I put it in the dough for my homemade pizza and I use it to make the parsley butter sauce for my garlic pull apart bread. I like to add it to my bone broth, which I don't season when I make it, but a pinch of it in a mug of broth is perfect.

We are at the stage where we just can't run to the store for any little thing we are out of. The more we go to the store, the more we spend, so the goal is to simply stay out of the store as much as possible.

To that end I am making homemade garlic powder. It's really not that hard. It's just kind of tedious to peel all the cloves and then chop them up. It's also time consuming. But eventually I got through several heads of garlic, cut up the cloves into 1/4 inch slices, and now they are in the dehydrator. By morning it should be dry and then I can run it through the spice grinder to make my powder.

Fortunately garlic is not nearly as wet as onions. Onions take a long time to dry, about 3 days. So worth it though. It makes the best onion powder I've ever tasted, just like doing the garlic makes the best garlic powder. I want garlic powder to add to my homemade pesto which we will have on ravioli for dinner since I try to avoid tomato sauce as much as possible now. It kicks it up a notch even though it already has minced garlic in it.

It is good to know how to make things like this so that when I run out of something that is a staple to my cooking, I can make what I need instead of just running to the store and spending more money than I intended.

Cross Your Fingers and Say Some Prayers

January 14th, 2017 at 12:20 am

It looks like the companies are getting ready to hire finally. DH heard from the company that does the hiring for them today that they are meeting with them later next week and DH's resume packet will be one being put forward.

I know he would still have to go through the interview process with the actual company and then get the job, but this is the first hopeful snippet we've heard in months. Short of a government coup things should start gearing up all over.

So please cross your fingers for us and keep us in your prayers. It has been a long haul and I really don't want to go through it any more. We've used our Emergency Fund and we're into our down payment fund now. It's depressing.

We'd still have some of our EF left if we didn't have to pay medical insurance premiums. I hope they take that mandatory insurance thing out when they fix the mess that is the Unaffordable Care Act. We'd be spending $500 a month on healthcare out of pocket. Not $1400 a month with little benefit until we hit the $6000 deductible.

I don't get how this is not bankrupting the people who don't qualify for subsidies and don't have medical insurance through their jobs. Maybe it is. I doubt it would be headline news in the propaganda machines that account for newspapers or news programs these days.

I seriously need to find my positive attitude. It was around here somewhere... We are fed, we are clothed, we are sheltered. So far the cancer isn't killing FIL. I might think my mother is going crazy, but she really isn't. My marriage is strong. We have no debt. I still have internet. The animals are all healthy. I have a good relationship with the sister I never thought I'd have a good relationship with. And I have a library card which gives me access to as many free books as I can read. There are good things in life despite the bad ones.

Leftover Management and Homemade Take-Out

January 12th, 2017 at 11:24 pm

One of the things I've been doing lately is taking any leftover meat and immediately chopping it up into a small dice. It's nice to think that it'll get eaten over the next couple of days, but too many times it doesn't. So I've taken to dicing and then freezing immediately. Or in the case of leftover hamburger patties or lamb patties, crumbling it up. We can't afford food waste and I'm opposed to it even in the best of times. Everything needs to get eaten.

I have had some good pizza toppings this way, with some lovely homemade sausage, picnic ham, taco meat, and lamb de provence. The ham and sausage is also great for putting in an egg scramble or omelette. We have had a few things that I don't really want to put on pizza, though.

The pork ribs with the apricot/honey/soy sauce glaze and the Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey leftovers, to name two. Sometimes leftover rabbit or chicken as well, depending on the seasonings. That meat has been going into making stir-fried rice, which is also helping to use up the over abundance of eggs we've been getting now that the ducks are switching into high gear.

I used the leftover pork with the apricot/honey/soy glaze tonight and it was so good. It was better than Yangtze pork fried rice that you can get in just about any Chinese place out there. I did add some garlic and ginger to the meat as well as to the rice itself. I ended up with 5 quart baggies full for the freezer, enough sides for a family of four for five meals, and then 2 more cups that my son and husband were bargaining over for a late evening snack.

I am really happy with the amount of Chinese/Polynesian dishes I have learned to make. Besides the rice I can make chicken and broccoli, broccoli beef, black pepper chicken, subgum chicken chow mein, beef chow yuk, pineapple chicken, char sui pork, and then just a general stir-fry with whatever I have with Chinese flavors. I have mastered using oyster sauce, fish sauce, and hoison sauce without getting too much of any of them.

It is nice to be able to make our favorite Chinese dishes when we can't afford to get take out. I have learned a couple Korean dishes over the last couple years as well, mandu (pork and cabbage dumplings) and kimbap (rice, seaweed, vegetable, and shrimp roll up thingy cut into circles).

I have been running down recipes for Mexican foods that don't require tomato sauce or peppers. It's not quite authentic, but there are substitutes and I am going to try them so we can get it figured out. There are a few dishes that don't use those things anyway, like quesadillas, which are simple enough, but I want to make tacos, and chili, and enchiladas again.

With Sichuan peppercorns, long grain peppercorns, and grains of paradise and judicious use of some other herbs and spices that aren't nightshades, it is supposedly possible to do all three of those things. I'm just not terribly fond of the texture of the nomato sauce, though, which is the base for two of them. It tastes good enough, though. Maybe I need to puree it more or something.

All I can say is that I am glad I am a good cook to begin with, because it has been a challenge to replace half my spice palette with other things and half my recipes as well. But I am doing it and we are finding some new favorites in the process. I don't think I'll ever get over losing peppers, though. At least peppercorns are not the same botanical species. I'm not sure it would be possible for me to give up black pepper, too. It's underrated, but salt and pepper are the best seasonings there are, really. They enhance everything. It's just the amounts you have to watch.

I am trying to post more frequently than I have been. It's just hard sometimes to figure it out when there is no income coming in. There are no savings updates. There are no payday reports. We still have no debt. So pretty much it comes down to household management, stretching the food budget, and making sure nothing goes to waste. Well, enough rambling. It's getting late and I need to get some sleep.

Initial Stages of Garden Planning

January 11th, 2017 at 05:48 pm

I am trying to plan my garden for the spring. Right now I am just in the initial stages of deciding what I want to grow. For the last couple of years I have based my garden around how many peppers and tomatoes I needed to grow. Now that I know I am allergic to peppers and can react badly to tomatoes as well, I won't be growing either of those things. I'm having to shift my whole gardening paradigm.

I think this year I am going to focus on squash. I know that I want to grow sweet meat and acorn. I think butternut might be a good third. Because squash stores for a long time, I won't have to worry about processing it during the height of canning season. Some squash will store until summer starts, like sweet meat. Others will store until about now, and some only 8 weeks or so, at which point we either eat it or can it.

Of course we will grow other things as well. Zucchini and summer squash, lettuce, chard, kale, radishes, kohlrabi, broccoli, purple cauliflower, snow peas for fresh eating and maybe some freezing.

We will grow green beans, turnips, parsnips, and carrots for canning. Maybe rutabagas, too. I think I will do potatoes in grow bags. One of the determinate types that doesn't need hilling. Indeterminate potatoes do not do well in grow bags the same way determinate potatoes do not do well in towers. You have to have the right type of potato for the growing method. I want to try sweet potatoes again this year. I had limited success last year, but I started them way too late. If I start much earlier then I think they will do better.

I will likely be starting everything from seed myself except I will buy a few herbs that don't do well from seed. Those ones I can easily clone, though, so one or two plants will become many more. I often buy starts, but we won't be able to afford the outlay for that this year if DH doesn't find a job. I'll make slips for the sweet potato and of course I'll have to buy seed potatoes for the potatoes, but they tend to be inexpensive.

I am somewhat concerned about chicken and duck feed costs. I really don't want to have to take them off their current feed and buy a cheaper feed. But what I can do to reduce feed costs is to grow fodder. That's a simple enough method of sprouting seeds for 4 to 7 days depending on which animal will be eating it. A 50 pound bag of barley can be turned into 250 pounds of feed that way. It's just a little tedious if you don't have it set up to be automated, which is expensive so I never did it that way. Watering by hand 3 times a day and dumping the catch tray is time-consuming.

There is also the produce barrel, a 55 gallon drum of produce past the sell by date, but still in decent enough shape for animal feed. It's $15. We've done that twice now and it last about 2 weeks, usually because half of it is squash or brassicas. That has actually allowed us to cut back on grain costs as well.

I have been considering selling our chickens and ducks. I'd still want to keep the turkey pair. I can purchase organic duck eggs from another farmer for less than the amount it takes to feed the ducks each month. We all prefer duck eggs over chicken eggs now anyway. I don't really care much about the chickens, but I love having ducks so I don't know. I guess if it comes down to it, they'll have to go, though. The turkeys are not feed hogs and don't eat all that much despite their larger size, though I think they'd miss the other birds if we sold them. Well, they wouldn't miss the chickens much, but they would miss the ducks.

I guess we'll see. Things should start to improve in the oil industry after the inauguration and maybe I won't have to worry about any of it anymore. But maybe not.

Passive Income--I Hope

January 10th, 2017 at 01:16 pm

I finally got my google adsense stuff straightened out. It took a while. For some reason they deleted my old account which unmonetized everything on my youtube channel. So for the last two days I spent a good chunk of time getting a new account set up and then re-monitizing 23 pages worth of videos. I have 665 videos, so it took a lot of time. I had youtube videos playing in the background the entire time so it wasn't wasted time because I was learning stuff. I just wish they had a monetize all with a basic ad feature.

Oh, well, from now on I can monetize as I upload and that should be that. As long as they don't make massive, sweeping changes again. I don't earn much from youtube, so far just pennies, and they don't send you a check until you earn $100, but now that my account is straightened out, I finally got around to monetizing this blog. I figured with as many hits as I get here, I could actually earn something.

I figured right. In the first 24 hours reported it has earned almost a dollar and that was on a low view day of around 1000 hits, so that is promising. Today so far I've had 3000 hits, so I imagine tomorrow will show more earnings than that. But at least once a month, sometimes even weekly, I'll get 20,000 to 70,000 hits on my blog on a weekend. Friday it was 23,888, and Saturday it was 30,901. I don't know why this happens, but it usually does coming into a weekend so I think it's picked up by something and listed. So I'm looking forward to seeing what happens on a high hit day like that.

I try not to wonder what I might have earned if I'd gotten this blog monetized when they first let you do it. Since I am rapidly approaching 77.5 million views, I imagine it might have been a nice chunk of change. I guess having 10 years of posts pays off. It won't appear any different, since SA already has these ads on the blogs. The only difference is now I'll get a percentage of the ad revenue.

Hopefully I'll get a small income stream out of this. Even enough to pay for duck feed would be great. The rabbits pay for their own food and the turkey food through sales. The ducks can contribute during high egg laying season, but have never paid for themselves yet. I won't count my ducklings before they hatch, though.

I can't monetize my blog at wordpress since it is at wordpress.com and not wordpress.org. The first site is free, the other you pay for. I have a blog set up at blogger and I am trying to figure out if there is any way to import my blog from wordpress to blogger. I know some sites let you. Dreamwidth will let you import your entire journal from LiveJournal, for example. I have to look into it more. I'd still keep the farm blog on wordpress, but if I can mirror it on blogger, I can monetize that one. I am still learning my way around the blogger system, though.

Well, I imagine that was very boring for anyone who doesn't know what the heck I am talking about. But the gist is maybe this blog will start generating some money for me now. It would be nice, especially with DH currently unemployed and us living on savings, to bring something in that's more than the few dollars I get each month from Pinecone Surveys.

Meal Planning--Dinners--Week 2

January 8th, 2017 at 11:07 pm

I did fairly well on week one of sticking to the menus I had planned. We did deviate twice. One night because we had a lot of leftovers and tonight because I didn't feel like cooking so DH made soup and sandwiches. I think I have a stomach bug. I am trying to will it away, but it's really not working. Hopefully it will pass quickly.

We did buy a couple of things to fill in the gaps for this coming week, some lettuce and cabbage and some oranges, but mostly meals will be from what we have on hand and repurposing leftovers into new meals.

Here's the plan for this week:

Monday--Meatloaf (didn't get made week one), fried potatoes, pears, salad

Tuesday--Herb Roasted Rabbit, baked sweet potatoes, green beans, oranges

Wednesday--Rabbit stir-fry--broccoli, carrots, onions, cauliflower, celery--Pineapple, Stir-fried Rice

Thursday--Beef stew (didn't get made week one)--carrots, potatoes, parsnips--celery sticks with blue cheese dressing, oranges

Friday--Bacon cheeseburgers, sweet potato fries/fries, cole slaw, pears

Saturday--Spaghetti and Meatballs, cole slaw, oranges

Sunday--Beef pot roast, baked sweet potatoes, broccoli, oranges

Using Stuff Up and Planning Canning

January 8th, 2017 at 12:40 am

I got through the last of the turkey from Christmas that I had in the freezer. I chopped it all up and added it to some stir-fried rice I was making to use up the excess of eggs the ducks have been laying since the solstice. It's like mother nature flipped a switch and they know the days are getting longer and spring will be here before you know it.

For 10 cups of rice I used 3 cups of chopped turkey, 6 eggs, and an 8 oz package of mixed peas, corn, and carrots. I am going to make up some more stir-fried rice tomorrow to use up some of the leftover pork from the honey apricot pork I made the other night and some more duck eggs. I like to make it up and have a bunch of quart bags of it in the freezer so we always have it on hand. It makes it easier when I do a Chinese night, especially now that I can make black pepper chicken.

Costco now has a 20 pound bag of organic white rice, so we always have rice on hand and with the rice cooker, it is easy to make up a pot then put it in the fridge and then make the stir-fried rice in a day or two. It always works better with cold rice that has set a day or two.

We are still working our way through the holiday ham. I diced it up and froze it and have been using it as one of our pizza toppings or throwing it in omelettes. It's nice not having to consume large amounts of ham in a week, but to be able to use it up over time.

I still have to make bone broth from the turkey bones, but I think I will tackle that tomorrow. They have been in the freezer, too, and I want to get them out as they are taking up a good chunk of space. So I'll make it on Sunday (technically today since it is after midnight) and can it on Monday.

I want to can some hamburger this week, too, and some more rabbit meat. I need to clear out some of the older stuff before it gets freezer burned and I tend to use the canned meat more often than the frozen in the winter. It's just faster and easier and lends itself to heartier fare like stews and chilis. Not that I can eat chili anymore, but the rest of the family can. Dang, but I miss eating peppers. I do not, however, miss my skin rashing up and splitting open on my hands whenever I do, so... *shrugs*

I dehydrated some ginger and need to do more. Costco had organic ginger for $5.79 for a container with 1.75 pounds in it. Organic ginger is usually $18 a pound so I was not going to pass that up. Mostly I am just dehydrating quarter-sized slivers, but I will grind some to powder as well. I also need to make more garlic powder. I grew a ton of garlic this summer and braided it, so I have plenty I can dehydrate and powder. I just need to get to it. It's not hard. I've already done onion powder and ended up with a full pint of it from onions I grew this summer.

I think it is a pretty ambitious week.

Meal Planning--Dinners

January 2nd, 2017 at 05:59 pm

I've gotten out of the habit of meal planning and it is making it very hard to stay organized right now with things, so it has gone back on the agenda as a must do. I am trying to make use of everything I have on hand as much as possible this week. We pulled some meat from the freezer and then I went through all the frozen veg/fruit and the home canned fruit and veg, and then what was in the fridge and made a list. From that list I pulled together my meal plan for the week.

The grocery bill has been getting a bit too high and I need to get it down. While I was down with the severely sprained ankle we were buying more convenience foods and that needs to stop now. It may not be completely healed, but I am cooking even if I have to pull up a chair to do it because it still hurts to stand on it too long. Walking is fine, just more than five minutes of standing without moving makes it ache. So cooking it is.

We have some fresh greens in the low tunnels hoops over the garden, mostly lettuce, spinach, kale, and chard, but a lot of that gets eaten at lunch time. I am trying to cook enough at dinner so that there are leftovers for the next day's lunch for DH and DS. I think I will do up a big breakfast bake casserole to cover a few breakfasts as well, since we have a lot of duck eggs now that the ducks have ramped back up to laying 4 eggs a day.

This is what I've figured out for this week, though I may swap some days around if the whim takes me.

Monday:
Pork chops
Green beans (home canned)
Applesauce (home canned)

Tuesday:
Beef pot roast
Sweet potatoes
Broccoli (frozen)
Oranges

Wednesday:
Pork ribs with a glaze made from apricot jelly (home canned), honey (melting down some that crystalized), garlic, and soy sauce
Ginger rice
Salad--lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, red onion, dressing of choice
Apples

Thursday:
Meatloaf--hamburger, ground rabbit, onions, carrots, cheddar cheese, duck eggs, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, oat meal
Fried potatoes
Pears (home canned)

Friday:
Chicken and Herb Tortellini with homemade pesto
Broccoli
Oranges

Saturday:
Beef stew--beef (home canned), carrots (home canned), potatoes (home canned), parsnips (home canned)
Green beans (home canned)
Oranges

Sunday:
Homemade pizza--ham (frozen, diced, leftovers from the holiday), sausage (homemade), onions, mozzarella, cheddar, Parmesan, and Romano cheeses, garlic butter parsley sauce for mine and homemade pizza sauce (canned) for everyone else
Salad--lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, red onions, dressing of choice
Pears (home canned)

Happy New Year

January 1st, 2017 at 03:16 am

It is now legal to catch catfish with a pitchfork in Illinois. Anyone from Illinois care to explain your state to me? I hope everyone has a good year. I sure could use one. I would like wealth, health, and happiness from 2017. Or you know, just a good job for DH with medical benefits.

My normal ability to look on the bright side and find the silver lining has waned an awful lot this past year. Let me think of what I could come up with to be optimistic about. Hmm...well, the ducks are laying eggs again. There are 11 healthy kits in the rabbit shed. I have gotten amazingly good at knitting socks on the loom. We are still out of consumer debt. The garden is still going under the low tunnels despite several snow falls. And I have a freezer full of meat and shelves full of home canned food so we are still good on that count. We have a house over our heads. We still have over $40K in our savings account.

Hopefully we will have some bigger things to be optimistic about soon. They've started putting up more oil job listings. Some of them are slope jobs which would be ideal as that is what we are used to and my grocery budget could go back to normal. The moment DH has an income again we are going to get him enrolled in a University that will let him do everything online, so he can get his B.S. in Electrical Engineering. Right now he has an A.S. in that and a certificate in Architecture for a two year program he did in the tech school right before they turned into a college and started issuing A.S.'s instead of certificates.

We may start him doing it anyway even if he hasn't found a job by the time the unemployment runs out. So much stuff says B.S. or equal on the job experience, but they'll often choose the guy with the B.S. first even if he has no experience. DH has learned so much on his job he could have a masters degree in it, but without that piece of paper, unless they have worked with him before, he is at a disadvantage.

DH is also thinking that if he purchased the online subscription to Auto Cad that he could pick up some freelance work.

The book is coming along. I have set a goal and that is to write at least 1000 words a day on it. Since I've written 15,000 words a week when I have my groove on, I think a mere 7000 is a good goal that won't have me feeling overwhelmed in case my muse leaves the building.

We'll be dipping into the farm down payment fund. We have officially spent all but $1000 of the Emergency Fund.

Glad the Holidays are Over (More or Less)

December 26th, 2016 at 10:58 pm

I don't really count New Year's as a holiday. It's not something we really celebrate as everyone is always in bed well before midnight. So once Christmas has passed I feel like I'm free and clear.

We did not end up going out to the in-laws on Christmas Day. We stayed home. FIL's white cell count was too low to be around anyone who was sick and everyone is sick. Except I am finally coming out the end of it. But MIL and FIL cancelled it. SIL threw a tantrum, because her holiday being ruined was apparently more important than FIL's life and fight against cancer. She got stood up to, though. I wasn't sure they'd do it, but this is the second time this year they have.

Apparently SIL bought a turkey and was going to make it herself. I really want to hear how that turned out since SIL does not know how to cook and has never roasted a chicken, let alone a turkey, in her life. I don't want to hear bad enough to call her, though. I was just relieved to have a quiet, peaceful day at home, not ruined by her scream-fighting with one of her daughters.

We had a very laid back Christmas. Very minimalist. We had our little 18 inch tree set up, still decorated from last year, that we store on the top shelf of our closet. We took it out a few days before Christmas. We just don't have the room to put up a bigger tree and even if we did, the hassle of putting one up is more than anyone wanted to deal with anyway. Most of the presents were handmade, though I did get the 30 year anniversary collector's edition of Labyrinth, my favorite childhood movie.

My son made me a beautiful turkey platter in his pottery class that I will treasure for the rest of my life. It was completely hand-built, no potter's wheel. I really love it.



I am glad we got the chance to really enjoy Christmas this year. I hope everyone else did as well.

Christmas Bonus, Ankle Update, Stress, Health, Rabbit Kit Photos

December 21st, 2016 at 02:14 am

So DH received a Christmas Bonus in the mail from his former employer. We knew we were going to get something because they sent us some paperwork back around Thanksgiving, but I figured it was going to be some token amount or a percentage based on how many months out of the year he'd worked for them (75%). But it was actually $200 more than last year's bonus. Maybe the additional was due to him staying until the bitter end.

Anyway, the amount was $3900.91. So no unemployment this week, but this is way better than that and it means the unemployment will last longer. I am hoping that this bonus will get us through January.

There are starting to be a few more oil jobs being posted. He's put in for two slope listings, but we don't expect to hear anything until after the holidays at this point. Slope usually goes to skeleton crew at this time of year. We expect that oil jobs will pick up now that the electoral college has officially declared Trump president. But we don't expect hiring or interviews to begin until January. No one does stuff over the holidays.

DH did have an in-person interview with the aeronautics company that he did two phone interviews with previously. They are just at the start of the live interview process (he was one of the first, if not the first in person interview they were doing) and they wouldn't hire until the end of January if they hire. It's not a permanent job anyway. It's one that would be series of small contracts as work was available. Not ideal, but better than nothing and the experience in that field would widen his knowledge base.

In two more days, it'll have been 4 months and I am getting antsy. The stress is hard. Seeing savings being depleted is hard. It's a nagging worry that's always in the back of my mind except when it's in the front of my mind. I live with this constant rock in my stomach. I think I might be getting an ulcer from the stress, because I've been eating Tums like they are candy and this with eliminating peppers from my diet.

My ankles finally feel like they are heeling, though. I know I mentioned the bad fall I took and the major sprain of the one ankle, but I don't think I mentioned that I lost my balance and rolled the other ankle about 10 days later and sprained it, too. It had minor swelling and minor pain, and was just enough to make it difficult for me to stand for more than a minute at a time. I still have swelling in the first ankle 5 weeks after the injury, but the pain is mostly just if I press the area where the ligaments were stretched too far or if I do too much standing.

I did get in to see the ENT a week ago and he put me back on steroids and gave me 2 Z-packs and sent a letter to my doctor to be placed in my file about how to treat this condition. He also told me he had sent them one back in March. The on-call doctor had claimed there was no record of this type of treatment. I did find out later that it was in there. Anyway, the ENT is sending a copy of the new letter to me so I can have one, so if they conveniently can't find it in the future I can pull it out of my purse and go, "It looks just like this."

The ENT was really annoyed with my doctor's office. He said I should not be having to go through this crap for 8 weeks before getting the right treatment, when he'd told them before and I told them what it needed to be. I will be looking for a new doctor after the holidays. I want to see a holistic type doctor instead. I'm so tired of doctors who look at me but don't see me. I miss my old doctor so much. Why did he have to get old, retire, and die? I mean, he was only 83. They don't make doctors like him anymore.

But I did get the medicine and it is helping now that it's the right dosage and the meds are being taken together.

We had a litter born on the 18th. There are five healthy kits, 3 broken blacks and 2 that are either solid blacks or steels. I'm leaning toward steels.



The older litter is 5 weeks now. They are doing well. It looks like I have two broken blues, one broken black, one broken steel, a lightly broken fawn, and a steel (black with white hairs mixed in) there. Colors don't fully set until they are older though, so that's just a best estimate for the time being.



Life going on on the farm makes me happy. I am waiting for 3 more does to give birth. They are a day overdue. If the two whites don't have kits this time, I think I will have to declare Jasper a dud. I will give him one more try, but this will make 3 breedings with nothing from him. Zander on the other hand is doing his job, as you can tell from all the broken and colored kits being born.

Oh, yay

December 7th, 2016 at 11:53 am

Looks like the Christmas spam is starting early. Barely readable, spent too much time using a theasauras, completely off topic, trying too hard to be high brow spam, too.

Unemployment and Emergency Fund Usage to Date

December 3rd, 2016 at 08:18 pm

DH has been unemployed for 15 weeks. So far I have withdrawn $14,000 from our Emergency Fund to live on. Of that $3597 has gone to pay for insurance premiums, $2970 went to pay for out of pocket medical costs the month we had no insurance, and the stuff insurance does not cover, $1100 went to cover 2 eye exams and 2 pairs of glasses, and $560 went to pay for dental. So $8227 of the $14,000 withdrawn so far has been for medical related expenses.

Of the remaining $5773, $1325 has gone to pay for utilities. $681 has gone to pay for storage. $292.92 has gone to pay for life insurance, $327 for our family gym membership, $91.23 for Netflix, $26.07 for hulu, $350.70 for our cell phones (4 phone basic plan), $242.46 for internet, $200 on feed and bedding for the turkeys, ducks, and chickens (the rabbits are self-supporting), $100 on toiletries, and the rest on groceries, which is about $700 a month or $2100.

Medical costs will remain high. There is no way around that, but we certainly won't have to worry about glasses again for a year or more and dental will be spaced out so we don't get a big hit all at once and will just be cleanings for the four of us.

So there is $6000 left in the Emergency Fund and then I'll have to start dipping into the $45,000 down payment fund. DH has had two phone interviews with one company (not an oil company) and is scheduled for an in person interview with them on the 14th. If he gets it, it won't pay very well, we'll still have to use savings, but it will help until he can get back on elsewhere. And it will be very valuable experience in the aeronautics industry.

The oil companies seem to be holding off on hiring until after the Electoral College confirms Trump as president. One or two have said they are waiting until after the swearing in ceremony, just to be sure. I don't think at this point the election results will be overturned, but the industry is very jumpy still. Hopefully they will be hiring by the time unemployment runs out. Unemployment has all gone to medical, not that it is very much to begin with.

We're getting by. It's hard to see our savings dwindle, but this is precisely what I worked so hard to save this money for. On the bright side it appears as if DH is going to get some sort of company bonus for the portion of the year he did work since they sent him the paperwork asking if he wanted to deposit it to the 401K or just be sent it as a check. No idea how much it will be. It's been running around $3800 for the last several years. With only 8 months instead of 12 months qualifying, it'll probably be 75% of that. Or less.

Whatever week we receive it, we won't get unemployment for that week as it will count as income, obviously. So that will stretch the unemployment out another week. If he does get 75% of the usual, that'll be $2850 which will stretch out our Emergency Fund a little while longer. Then we'll have our tax refund in the February since we always file immediately. We might be able to stretch through February without touching the down payment fund if the timing is right and DH doesn't get hired before then. One can hope.

Cashed Out at Pinecone

December 3rd, 2016 at 10:38 am

I cashed out at Pinecone yesterday or the day before. It had been a while since I had done it. I had a balance of $48. I've had a lot of surveys lately and one product test from them, so it was a little above average for 2 and half months. Usually I cash out monthly and it is around $12 to $15.

My Opinion of the Doctors at My Doctor's Practice Just Plummeted

December 1st, 2016 at 08:16 pm

I do not need this drama. Why do I flipping attract so much drama? Am I a drama magnet? Seriously, I just want to get better. Why do so many doctors think we don't know our own bodies? Why do they have to be so arrogant in their attitudes? And why, when told why they are wrong do they continue to believe what they want anyway?

No, on call doctor, I cannot take penicillin. I will get hives. I will feel like bugs are crawling all over my body. And if I stay on it long enough, my hives will turn into blisters. And just for kicks and giggles, 5 days in I'll get a roaring yeast infection. See that thing in my chart that says what I am allergic to? Penicillin is the first thing listed.

No, on call doctor, I cannot take doxycyline. It does not work for me. It has not worked in 20 years. None of the cycline drugs, do. Yes, I know the doctor had me take it last year, even though I said it did not work for me. Yes, I know I didn't come back afterwards. That does not mean I got better. That means I finally got into the ENT doctor and he gave me something that actually worked. Which was what I asked you for this time, because I can't get into the ENT until December 13th and I couldn't get into my own doctor until December 7th, even though I was supposed to see him today which is why I'm here seeing you.

Yes, I have had indigestion for the past 3 days. No, that has nothing to do with anything. It has nothing to do with 6 weeks of sinus pressure, fever and chills, stuffiness, coughing up phlegm, painful ears (no longer painful), headache, joint aches, sore throat, and enlarged lymph nodes in my neck. Two weeks ago, they said it was bronchitis and most definitely not the flu, but did not give me antibiotics, just steroids. Now you are telling me it is not a respiratory infection, even though nothing has changed.

So when you finally got over your brilliant idea that it was somehow related to GERD, which I don't have the symptoms of, except for the last 3 days my stomach was a little upset due to a muscle relaxant (Valerian root) I was taking for a muscle knot, which I told you, you grudgingly agreed to give me an antibiotic. We agreed on one by name, and a 14 day supply.

The nurse comes in with a prescription for a 10 day supply--of doxycycline. I was very unhappy. I made her bring the doctor back in. Her excuse was oh, well, that other drug wouldn't actually work for what you have, it's for skin conditions. I asked her why she even brought it up then. She said she made a mistake. I'm like, you don't know your drugs? I'm thinking, isn't that kind of basic?

So we went over again why I couldn't take doxycycline. And then she went back to saying how she didn't think I needed antibiotics, that she thought it was a stomach issue and I said I'd already been down that route and been cleared, there is nothing wrong with my stomach . I'd also already been down the lung route. It isn't that. My lung capacity is fine.

I reiterated what worked and she finally agreed to give me that drug, but only half of the amount I needed. And only after a lecture of how it is bad to take antibiotics when you don't need them, not just for you, but for the whole community. I was so close to flipping her off because of her condescension.

My voice got very deadly at that point and I told her that as an organic farmer I probably knew far more than she did about the abuse of antibiotics and I also knew my own body. I knew what worked and what did not work, and what I needed to beat this thing. I went on to inform her that not treating something long enough with antibiotics was even worse, because of how it only killed the weak versions of the bacteria and allowed the powerful ones to thrive and that that was exactly what she would be doing by not prescribing the medication for long enough. It happens this way every single time, regardless of whether she wants to think it can or not.

Her response was if you are still sick after finishing this course of medicine you can come back. I said I've already been here twice and paid for an x-ray. I can't afford to go to the doctor 3 times in 5 weeks, because you don't want to prescribe the proper amount of medication the first time. I also told her I was tired of doctors who refused to actually listen to patients, who had a lifetime of experience with their own bodies.

She said I needed to see my own doctor from now on then, because seeing all the different on call doctors when I was sick made it difficult on them to diagnose me since they didn't know my history. I said I'd tried, but they scheduling people had screwed that up and I had just told her my history, twice, but she wasn't listening.

They had screwed it up, too. I had an appointment scheduled with my doctor. I even had the card with me and showed it to them, but apparently he wasn't in today and they don't make appointments for one in the afternoon as that is the lunch hour there. But it was clear as day on the card. She told me he had on call slots available for tomorrow. I said then I'd have to pay another co-pay tomorrow. And anyway, the front desk had said it would be a week before I could see him, which was the only reason I'd agreed to see her, so I highly doubted it. I checked on the way out. He did not.

I'm going to write a letter to the practice tomorrow after I've had time to cool off a bit detailing my experience with this awful woman. Then I'll sit on it for 48 hours and then edit it to make sure I'm being polite. I'm thinking about finding another practice altogether, because this is not the first on call doctor to act like this, although this is the worst case of it. I don't like my own doctor well enough to put up with this kind of crap from the on call doctors. I don't dislike him, but I have no loyalty. I do think he deserves to know why if I decide to leave, though. Maybe it is time to see a naturalpath.

Edited to add: Went to get the prescription later and she'd prescribed something else. But the pharmacist won't let me have it, because it interacts with a different medication I'm on and the two together could cause heart problems. Which, you know, I could have told her if she'd flipping told me what she was going to do. That's two medications she knew squat about. Unprofessional piece of work.

Thanksgiving with No Drama

November 24th, 2016 at 11:50 am



I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving this year. We are staying home as we did last year and looking forward to a day of peace. My MIL and FIL are going to her brother's house. I don't care what my SIL is doing. My one sister never spends turkey day with anyone but her husband and kids. My other sister will probably stop by in the evening, but otherwise it will be just us and my mom.

I'm so tired of the extended family drama caused by DH's sister and I'm just not willing to put up with it anymore at Thanksgiving and I'm starting to feel that way about Christmas. She's making things so hard on her parents this year and quite frankly, she's always made things hard on us. Every holiday we've spent with them turned into a screaming match between her and her now ex-husband, her and one of her daughters, or her and whatever random guy she brought to Christmas each year after the divorce even if they'd only been dating for 3 weeks, until DH and I put our feet down several years ago about not bringing random men to Christmas. That didn't stop the fighting between her and her kids, but it kept the stranger element away.

DH's sister is having a fit apparently because we said this would be a good year to stop exchanging gifts with her since DH is out of work still and we don't have an income. She now has a grandchild and a new generation to focus on and DH doesn't have a job. She can funnel her money there and not worry about us anymore. She consistently gives us stuff we don't want, have specifically asked her to stop giving us, and can't use due to allergies and she knows it and ends up with it because of it. So really she's just buying it for herself anyway. The kicker is, she often manages to find a way to have FIL pay for it than never reimburses him.

My sisters and I stopped exchanging gifts 20 years ago. My mother and I about five years ago, other than a token. It's not like we're singling her out. But she's just being so selfish about this. This is the same woman who expected her parents to pay her mortgage for her when she lost her job and couldn't work for 2 months due to losing her credentials (she got them back, it was a wrongful termination), and totally lost it and didn't talk to them for 6 weeks when they didn't.

Even though her father is going through chemotherapy, is retired, and needs every cent to pay for the frequent trips to Seattle for treatment and his own mortgage and bills and food. They don't have extra. She had access to a HELOC, but her parents have always bailed her out before. She's tried to get us to pay her mortgage before in the past, too, right after trading in her car for a newer one she didn't need, and other questionable financial choices. We refused. The woman doesn't know how to pay money back to family.

It didn't occur to her that the circumstances her parents are in have changed since the last time and that they don't have the money to do that anymore. Oh, the fit she pitched about that. DH had to really go after her on that because she couldn't believe they didn't have the money.

And she's been stealing from his parents. They made the mistake of putting her name on one of their credit cards. Fortunately it only has a $2000 limit. The point of the card was so that when FIL was first recovering from surgery and DH was still working in Alaska, SIL could use the card to go pick things up at the grocery store for them or to pick them up food at a restaurant or to pick up prescriptions, at least until he could drive again. MIL doesn't drive anymore.

Turns out that she'd go to the grocery store and she'd buy their groceries and her groceries at the same time, on FIL's card. She'd go pick them up fast food, but she'd get food for herself and her daughter and eat it first before bringing them their now cold food from the restaurant. She'd go pick up a prescription at the pharmacy, but she'd slip some other items onto the bill. FIL sent her in to pick up some undershirts for him and she ended up buying herself several tops and her daughter a couple of pairs of jeans.

So the credit card is now maxed out and FIL is keeping it that way for now. DH and I agree they have to get the card back and take SIL off it, so hopefully DH can convince them. FIL is capable of driving now, DH is home when he's not, and heck, I'll take him, if it comes to that. I think FIL will be easy to convince. It's MIL who always gives in to SIL.

Though I think after the most recent stuff she might be finally seeing clearly. The latest was she finally called them the other night saying she was going to pick up something to eat and asking her if they wanted her to pick them up anything. But it was clear from her message that what she really wanted to know was if there was room on that credit card so she could use it to pay for her own meal and incidentally bring them by some food. FIL and MIL were asleep and didn't answer the phone.

I'm really at the point where I just don't want to have Christmas with her at all this year. Neither do the kids and I flat out asked DH and he said no, not really, but he was worried about how his folks would take it. I said we can still see his folks, just on our own. Two of the grandchildren are adults now, one with a child of her own. His parents will have to get used to the changes now anyway. And if we end up moving to Kentucky or Kansas we won't be coming back for holidays at all.

Rough Week

November 19th, 2016 at 03:48 am

I was finally able to see the doctor, not mine, but the on-call doctor, on Wednesday. At least it was the really cool Vietnamese guy that I really like, even better than my own doctor and I'd totally switch, but they have some kind of anti-poaching rule at the practice.

Not that I don't like my doctor, it's just sometimes I feel like he doesn't pay attention to my history. I wish my old doctor was still around, but sadly, he died a few years ago in his 80's and worked up until a year before that. I'd gone to him my whole life, he'd delivered me, even. Talk about knowing my history.

He sent me for an x-ray to rule out walking pneumonia. He wasn't sure but thought I could be borderline between that and bad bronchitis. Didn't find out until Thursday that it was bad bronchitis. He put me on prednisone, but the pharmacy didn't have it. Apparently no pharmacy had it, so they ordered it, which meant I didn't get to start it until the next morning when it came in. Then it cost $250 out of pocket because our insurance didn't cover it and apparently it doesn't qualify under the cash discount program.

I'm not sure why he didn't prescribe antibiotics since I've had this for four weeks so it's got to be bacterial at this point. I mean, I know I'm allergic to penicillin, but there's got to be something else. I've had bronchitis before and been treated.

So still feeling pretty miserable, drinking a lot of Throat Coat and Breathe Easy teas from Traditional Medicinals. I throw a tea bag of both in one cup of water to steep. I love the combo and it seems to work for a couple of hours. Also taking the orange and blue cold pills of various store brand varieties to at least manage the symptoms.

Then on Wednesday night I got my foot caught up in the bathroom rug and somehow went up on my toes, then over them, bending them backwards so my body weight came down on the top of my foot stressing my ankle. It would have been okay if my other foot hadn't gotten tangled in the rug, too, making me lose my balance and in the process I went sideways onto my ankle fully rolling it to the outside and down onto my ankle bone.

I grabbed for the vanity, even touched it, but I couldn't grip it and down I went onto my right side. I managed to turn a little so that my hip didn't take it straight on and it got more of my butt, and I got my arm up to protect my head from the floor and the door, but knocked my elbow hard and the outside of my hand and pinky.

But I saved my head. The only thought I had after I knew I couldn't stop my fall was don't get a concussion. I have only gotten my short-term memory working like normal again after last summer's concussion for about 3 months now. And this would not have been a mild concussion if I'd hit my head like that one. I probably would have knocked myself out.

By Thursday morning I had a round purple bruise covering and surrounding my ankle bone, and a flat inch wide and four inch long bruise across the front of my ankle. It was swollen to 4 times the size of my other ankle. The inside of the right knee hurt from the pull of the ankle roll and swelled, too. It still hurts, but the swelling is gone. The ankle swelling, with a lot of icing yesterday and today is only about 3 times as big as the other one now.

The weird thing is, that as much as it hurts, it really just feels like a great big bruise. It doesn't feel broken or like I tore any ligaments or tendons. I don't think it is sprained, just strained and badly bruised. I can still flex it in all directions without anything shooting or stabbing, it just aches, like a bone bruise. I can walk okay, though I put on one of my ankle braces that I normally just wear in the pool for support. Walking doesn't make it hurt more than just existing. It hurts to go down or up steps and I have to go down on my foot with the bad knee because I can't do it on the strained ankle.

Tomorrow I will start alternating ice with heat. I am taking painkillers. It is interfering with my sleep, but so is the cough so who knows if I'd be asleep anyway.

Tomorrow we go to the farm to pick up our turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We didn't get big ones this year because we waited too late to order them and all they had left was the small size. 8 to 12 pounds. That's okay. Thanksgiving is just us this year and if I have my way, Christmas will be, too.

So Many Didn't Even Bother

November 11th, 2016 at 10:24 am

70,000,000 registered voters did not vote in the election this week. A further 20,000,000 eligible voters did not register to vote. That means 90,000,000 people, give or take a few thousand due to life circumstances like a heart attack or stroke or giving birth, in America did not think who became the next president was important enough to vote for or register to vote for.

Or else they thought it was a done deal because of a media that wished it so and pollsters who over sampled in predominately liberal areas like large cities and college campuses and got such skewed data that it made them think they did not need to bother. Or they did it on purpose just so their polls would have the results they wanted them to have. If you looked at the collection data and not just the charts it was obvious what they were doing. But most of America didn't look. The propaganda machine did exactly the opposite of what it wanted to achieve.

It makes me wonder how many of those now protesting voted and how many did not. Based on my reasonable knowledge of statistics and my cynical opinion of human nature, I'd estimate at least 55% did vote but of those 5% voted for Johnson or Stein, 30% did not vote, the rest may or may not have but of those 10% are paid protesters, 3% didn't have anything better to do, and 2% are there just to try to incite violence to break out so they can riot, steal, beat people they pull out of random cars, and set things on fire, all of which have happened in most of the protesting cities, even Seattle, although at least in Seattle they are just burning garbage.

I wouldn't believe any polling data coming now that breaks down how America voted by race or sex, or any other label they want to put on us to divide us out, either. We saw how they polled only in select areas, not across America, certainly not in rural areas. We saw that people obviously lied to the pollsters as well, due to fear of getting beaten up, shame, or privacy issues. I think if there is one takeaway anyone should have from this election, it is that you can never believe the polls again, if you ever did in the first place. With my knowledge of statistics, including how to manipulate them, I never did.

Medical Insurance for 2017

November 3rd, 2016 at 05:29 pm

We have decided to stick with the plan we are on for insurance for next year. It is going to go up $137.44 per month in January, making it $1336.44 a month or $16,037.28 a year. What a racket. I hope DH finds a job soon that has medical. This is going to burn through our savings once unemployment stops.

If DH doesn't have an income next year, the fine for 3 adults and one child for not having health insurance is $2432.50. With an income it is 2.5% of gross income. That's a difference of $13,604.78. That's three months of living expenses. It is just so much cheaper paying out of pocket without insurance. I am just afraid not to have something as backup. Ugh. They really just need to change that to the Unaffordable Care Act.

I know if we want to give up seeing the doctors of our choosing and let the government into every aspects of our lives next year we could get super crap insurance and be subsidized, but I don't want to give up the quality of my health care and the relationships with my doctors and nurses that I've formed. I don't want to see whatever doctor is available at the clinic and have to wait 6 hours in a crowded waiting room to do it because they are running so far behind.

I don't want to have to take government charity, either. With unemployment it's an insurance program that is paid into as part of your job benefits. With subsidies, it is not. It is for folks who it will cripple financially if they don't get help. I know that eventually it might do that to us, but not yet. We'd just last a lot longer if the rules weren't so ridiculous.

I guess I will deal with that when the time comes. I wish we were a healthier family without auto immune and other long-term issues. If we didn't have the prescriptions and all the doctor's visits, we could have a plan with a less expensive premium and it wouldn't really matter if we could see our own doctors or not as we'd only go in for yearly physicals. Prescriptions wouldn't matter. But we're not and they do.

Probable Diagnosis

November 3rd, 2016 at 03:55 pm

My daughter has been struggling with something that has seemed to baffle the regular doctor for a year now. In the last couple of weeks the purplish brown patches on her feet really started to hurt and darken and as a last ditch effort he sent her to a dermatologist who said, "I'm Dr. D and that looks like granuloma annulare," before he'd even sat all the way down. After he did a full skin exam, he took a biopsy to send off, but he's pretty confident.

It's an auto immune disease and they don't know what causes it. It is not common, but they don't consider it rare either. Obviously he could look right at it and be 98% sure of what it was. Untreated outbreaks can run the course of 2 to 5 years. Normally it doesn't cause pain unless it occurs over joints and then the skin thickens there and starts making it hard to flex those joints. That is what is happening to her.

Treatment will be a series of injections, numerous pinpricks of cortizone throughout the spots. It might be two sessions, it could be up to four, depending on how well she responds to it. They will be six weeks apart. They do have a topical treatment, but it is daily application for 6 months and fails in 75% of patients. And when the patient is in pain they don't recommend it.

She also has a big patch of eczema on her shin. So he gave her a prescription for a cream which she will also use on the patches until the biopsy comes back and we can start on the injections. I'm not sure what the insurance will cover here, but we'll pay it outright if we need to. This is something that is making it hard for her to walk without pain.

Hopefully the insurance will cover at least part of it. Injectible cortizone has been around for decades so I doubt it is still under any kind of patent. I'm pretty sure there are generic versions.

I'm just glad he didn't take one look at it and say cancer. I know we still have to wait two weeks on the biopsy results, but he seemed very confident. I told DD it was probably going to be something where the doctor had never seen it before or knew immediately what it was. I'm glad it seems to be the latter.

Unemployment and Emergency Fund Usage

November 2nd, 2016 at 02:59 pm

DH has officially been unemployed for 10 weeks (and 3 days) now. I did the math for what we've been spending up until now. So far I have withdrawn $9000 from our Emergency Fund, which works out to $900 a week. We don't use it like that, my withdrawals have been $2500, $3500, and $3000, and we go until it runs out before I transfer more. Close to $2000 of that went to pay for glasses and eye doctor visit, dentist visits, doctor appointments, and prescriptions during our uninsured month.

We have also received 4 unemployment payments, but one came today and is going towards November and the other we haven't used yet so is also going towards November. It will pay for the November medical insurance and whatever other medical we have until it runs out. Each payment is two weeks of benefits. So we have used 4 weeks of benefits, which is $1576. That has all gone towards paying for medical insurance, co-pays, c-pap supplies, and prescriptions.

We have 14 weeks left before DH runs out of benefits. He's worked a job that has paid into unemployment insurance for 32 years, far more than he will ever see back in his lifetime. It's too bad that he can't withdraw based on what's been paid in for as long as he needs to. I'm still hoping he'll find a job by the end of the year, but if not benefits will run out by the end of January and we will have to cover our insurance and other medical costs without any help.

There is $11,000 left in the Emergency Fund, so at the rate we are going that should last until the middle of January, at which point it will be gone and we would have to start dipping into the farm down payment fund of $45,000. I don't want to have to do that, but if we have to it gives us the option of another 10 months or so. After that I don't know what we'll do.

I think if the refineries don't start hiring in November we're going to have to tighten our belts. I know its not as tight as it could be yet. I've not wanted to go full on if there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but I know where to cut and I'm prepared to do it.

Interest Income

November 2nd, 2016 at 02:26 pm

The savings account earned $36.05 this month. I added it to the Moving Fund, which I really should just rename as the Temporary Fund or some such thing as it really isn't designated for moving until DH has a job again and we start saving money. I actually took $200 out of that fund this month before the storm just so I'd have cash on hand and then felt like it would be too much work to shift it around afterwards and have just been using it for gas money and allowance instead.

Anyway with the interest added today the new amount in that fund is $271.17.

I've Got the Blahs

October 27th, 2016 at 02:38 pm

I'm having a major case of the blahs. I really don't have much of a desire to blog right now. It's not that I'm letting things go by the wayside. It's just that without an income coming in, I have no goals other than to just get through this until DH finds a job. And with that being unlikely until after the election life is in limbo.

If Trump is elected, there will be more oil exploration and more projects going forward and more oil jobs. If Clinton is elected their won't be, because they won't be approved, unless Congress stays overwhelmingly Republican. It's a fact of the oil business. Republicans favor it. Democrats don't. Isn't that a fun place to be politically? Especially now when I'm losing faith in Johnson and I still don't want to vote for either of the other two. Ugh.

There will still be new projects here, though. So there will still be new jobs in my state, but with fewer openings so more competition for DH. And it is doubtful there will be any new jobs up there where the pay is usually better. We did find out for sure what happened there with Company B.

Company B didn't actually want to hire anyone from Company A at all even though parent company was very strongly saying you need to hire these specific people so things will run smoothly and the transition will work right. We want these people here. So basically anyone that was strongly recommended conveniently had their resumes "lost" on purpose.

DH's former co-workers who did manage to get hired say it is absolute hell up there. A lot of the people who were originally hired from Company A have been let go because they are being blamed for all the problems Company B is having, instead of Company B's complete willingness to be total donkey bottom fedoras and follow what has worked for the last 20 years because their way worked that one time with the small job so it ought to work on this much more massive scale. It doesn't.

I hope it was worth taking the lowest bid from a company that is not delivering and is acting like a snotty college kid in their first real job who thinks they know better than senior management because they did a class project their senior year and got an A on it, but were only hired because their daddy is CEO and can't actually be fired because of an ironclad contract, but is wreaking absolute havoc meanwhile.

In hindsight, I'm glad DH dodged that bullet. As for life being in limbo, I'm not really railing against it like I was before. I'm kind of numb to it. I'm not firing on all 8 cylinders. It's the onset of SADS. I'm using my happy light and I've upped my vitamin D intake. My diet is on track. But I haven't been able to exercise since I hurt my back and that is something that really makes a difference. And I haven't been able to spend time outdoors because of the foulness of the weather and being outside usually helps, too.

I'm sure resignation to wait things out also is contributing somewhat to a less than optimistic attitude, but I won't put pressure on DH. He is working hard on trying to find a new job and puts in hours every day on his job search between running his dad to chemotherapy here and to the follow up appointments and blood draws and the big cancer center in Seattle for other things and doing all the driving for his parents to do their errands since his mom doesn't drive anymore and his dad is so tired out by it.

Hopefully it will shake off with the higher dose of vitamin D starts taking effect.

The Storm so Far

October 15th, 2016 at 11:04 pm

On Thursday night we got hit hard enough that it ripped the corrugated roofing off the butcher station, but the turkey coop, chicken coop, duck coop, and rabbit shed survived with no damages.

On Friday we had to staple down the greenhouse plastic on the raised beds, because the clamps weren't strong enough to keep the wind from tearing it free. There was a pretty good lull in the afternoon so we were able to do this.

We ran out to get more bottled water. The first store we went to the power was out and it took a while to get away from there as the stop lights were out, too. We went across town to the other Fred Meyer and halfway through our shopping trip the power went out there. Backup generators came on and then about 5 minutes later the power was on. We finished up and hurried back home. A few more stoplights were out. We beat the rain home, but only just.

The wind died down around ten this morning. Several neighbors had lost shingles, but we didn't. The house, the garage and the rabbit shed roof were all intact. We let the birds out for a few hours, but cooped them early when the winds started to pick up again. We gave them extra food and water in case they can't be let out tomorrow.

The wind has been pretty ferocious for the last four hours. It sounds like a freight train at times. The rain is lashing pretty hard. So far we've not had any power flickers at all, though. It's supposed to go on like this all night and then drop down to winds of about 16 to 18 miles per hour at around 8 a.m. and through the day with lots of rain.

I think flooding is going to be more of an issue than anything unless some trees come down on the power lines. We won't get flooded out, we're on top of a hill and far enough from the major creek or the river or the bay or the lake, but the basement will flood as it does in every major storm so we'll have to have the sump pump going.

I am thinking we might not get hit as hard as they have been predicting, but you never know. I saw that a couple of tornadoes touched down in Oregon briefly yesterday, F2's. That is incredibly rare for this part of the country. It devastated Manzanita. I always wanted to visit this incredible bed and breakfast they have there. I don't think I'd even know the name of the town otherwise.

I really hope all the storm hype has been (pardon the pun) overblown. So far, at least for our area, it doesn't seem any worse than the bad fall blows we usually get. Just have to wait and see if it floods any worse. Right now there is just water over roadways, nothing unnavigable in some of the county. But more rain is on the way so it could get worse.

Storm Prep

October 13th, 2016 at 04:52 pm

So we're getting ready for what they are calling a post typhoon cyclone coming our way. This will likely be the worst storm to hit the west coast in my lifetime. Actually, it is to be a series of 3 storms to hit in rapid succession which are stemming from a Super Typhoon called Songda that is making its way across the Pacific Ocean from Japan.

We have plenty of shelf stable food, I've canned so much, and we have all of the staples I normally keep in food storage. We have our regular two cases of water in food storage and tonight we'll fill one of the bathtubs just in case we end up needing washing water or flushing water. We also have the 3 50 gallon rain barrels for further backup and to water the animals.

We've got a new, full BBQ-sized propane tank and 2 of the smaller propane tanks for the camp stove in case we end up having to cook on that. We've filled up the gas tank in the van. We've got the power station charging. It'll run my c-pap machine and DH's b-pap machine if we lose power. DH and I have been talking about getting a generator as well. I'd like to have something we can plug a couple of heaters into and a lamp and the fridge.

Our batteries are stocked up. Our cameras and cell phones are charged. Our computer batteries are charged. Our flashlights that don't take batteries are charged. Our regular flashlights and candles and lighters have all been rounded up.

We've tied down the garden low tunnels but we are talking about 50 to 70 knots of sustained winds so I am not sure it will make any difference in the end. Hopefully it will though. We've got all the empty pallets stacked in the garage now so they won't get rained on or go flying.

The rabbits have been taken care of early and the shutters are locked on the rabbit shed. The birds are going in early as well with extra food and water in case they can't come out tomorrow. Garage chicken has been secured with extra food and water (she's recovering from an injury) in her cage.

I can't think of anything else we need to do. We don't generally get storms quite this bad. Those of you who go through hurricanes on a regular basis over on the East coast, can you think of anything else I might need to do to prep?

Used Our New Insurance

October 5th, 2016 at 05:03 am

Today, well technically yesterday, we used our new insurance for the first time. They weren't entirely sure as whether or not they fall under regular doctor or specialist doctor. I think they are specialist, but since we see a nurse practioner for this not an actual doctor that might change what the co-pay is. It'll get sorted once the cards actually arrive in the mail.

The bill arrived in the mail so we were able to set up automatic payments to one of the credit cards. That way we won't have to worry about it again until such time as we need to change it. We also could have set up direct withdrawal if we'd wanted to. I prefer the credit card though as it leaves a better paper trail. Then the credit card gets paid in full when it is due.

I have an appointment on Thursday afternoon so I hope the cards show up between now and then. They are so much easier to do when they can just swipe them.

Totally monthly premium comes out to be $1199. So the unemployment should pay for that plus prescriptions and a few doctor visits a month. I am glad of it as it will really help our money to stretch longer.

September Run Down

October 3rd, 2016 at 08:42 pm

DH has been unemployed for 6 weeks now with not a lot of progress, unfortunately. He did have his resume accepted by a local refinery and was contacted to say he had been placed into the pool of candidates to be considered for upcoming jobs starting November through February. And that's pretty much what we've been hearing. Most jobs in his field won't be hiring for a few months.

A short term (4 to 6 month) job listing came up today here in town for a job he is qualified for, probably over-qualified for, so he sent a resume in for that. Even if there is no prospect for a job before the refineries start hiring again, we will be okay for a while. But I do hope he finds a good job soon. I am trying hard not to put pressure on him, since he is working hard at looking. These lulls happen. He's just never been caught in one before, and shouldn't have gotten caught in this one, but you've heard that rant already.

I made the second withdrawal from our Emergency Fund today, $3,500. We should be able to get through most of October on that, plus the unemployment when it comes again. That brings the EF down to $13,500, but remember we still have $45,000 in the House Down Payment Fund we can tap if we need to. And a few hundred in the Moving Fund.

The reason why we won't make it through the whole month on the $3,500 is that we will have to make an insurance premium payment and that is somewhere between $1100 and $1200. Ouch. I'm just not sure when. We will likely charge it to get the cash back points. We finally got approved and our acceptance letter came today with a paper we can use temporarily until our cards come which should be later on this week. That will put our prescriptions at $10 each and regular doctor visits at $20 each and specialist visits at $45, period, without the deductible kicking in. It is a $5000 deductible for everything else for the family.. No vision or dental for anyone but DS, since it is law to require it for anyone under 18, but they don't care about adults (even though 75% of the population in the US wears glasses or contacts).

We ended up going with a silver plan, because when we plugged in all the numbers it was going to be cheaper for us to do a silver plan than a bronze plan. And while the gold plan has a $2000 family deductible, it wasn't worth the difference in costs since doctors visits and prescriptions were so reasonable outside the deductible.

Both DD and I had to buy glasses in September out of pocket as we both had severe prescription changes in just one year. Out of pocket costs were close to $1000 (including her eye exam which happened after losing our insurance). But seeing is necessary, and it has made a tremendous difference for me. My headaches are gone and they were getting quite bad.

I didn't post much in September. I pulled that muscle in my back again and was in a lot of pain. Still am in some, but it is starting to improve. I have to budget what I can do, though. I have to make choices. If I need to go grocery shopping, that is all I will be doing that day. If I need to can tomatoes, they get chopped up one day and canned the next. I finally made dinner tonight for the first time in a while, but had to have help with chopping things. And it was exhausting.

DH has had to take over my rabbit duties. I miss them and have only managed to go out twice in three weeks to do general health checks. Good thing I did, as Ruby had an abscess. DD (vet tech student) was able to drain it and treat it, but if I hadn't checked on them no one would have known to do so.

I didn't get too much of a fall crop in, as the time I should have been planting was when the muscle pull happened and I went down really hard. I can still plant some carrots and turnips and put some greenhouse plastic on the supports that normally hold netting to keep out the birds and squirrels. I can put in radishes, green onions, and kohlrabi as well. I just have to have the energy to do it. I worry about bending over the garden bed, too, even from a chair, as I don't want the muscles to spasm again. I have another month until I need to plant my garlic.

We are getting kale, lettuce, broccoli, kohlrabi, peppers, tomatoes, basil, and sage still. Chard will be ready to start harvesting in another week or so. No sign of the first frost yet, but that usually doesn't happen until Halloween at the soonest, sometimes not until well into November. Last year it was December before we got a frost hard enough to kill anything except the tomatoes and we overwintered kale and chard.

Tomorrow I need to chop and freeze peppers. I have serrano, ancho, jalapeno, Anaheim, and sweet bells. And we need to start chopping and freezing onions, too, though they will last a lot longer than the peppers without it. I'll have to take it in steps with DH helping me. Fortunately peppers are easy to do, just have to wear gloves.

Not much else to talk about, though I'm sure I'm missing all kinds of things.

Finally Unemployment Arrived and a Job Hunt Update

September 21st, 2016 at 09:48 am

DH finally got paid by unemployment, he's been unemployed for a month now. They pay 2 weeks worth at a time, so he got $788, or $394 a week. 4 weeks of this should cover our monthly insurance premium with enough left over to cover our prescriptions. That will make our Emergency Fund stretch a lot further. I do wish he was getting WA state unemployment instead of AK state unemployment as that is $600 something a month. Oh, well, this still helps so much.

So far for September I have used $3000 from our Emergency Fund, bringing it down to $17,000. I will end up using at least another $1400 this month. Right around $520 will go to pay for our 6 month car insurance premium due on the 28th (though we are looking at other insurance, we are not really seeing much savings). $90 will go to physical therapy. $392.12 will go for the autopays that come due the first week of October. $400 goes to Mom to pay the utilities for October. And the rest will be for groceries. So maybe some of that will count towards October money, but it still has to be in the account by the end of September.

DH submitted his resume to the local refinery owned by the English on Friday and got an email yesterday saying it has been reviewed and passed on to the next stage of consideration. They are going to be hiring in the next 3 to 4 months for numerous jobs DH will qualify for. Hopefully he will get something there. It would be even better than a job in the next county over.

We have not heard anything from the mollusk refinery in the next county that will presumably be hiring in the next 3 months yet, other than that they will be using the placement company DH is signed up wtih, but there aren't any official rumblings so that's to be expected.

DH still has not heard back from the school he signed up with to pursue his BS in Electrical Engineering, though the money has been charged to the card. How long does it take to review transcripts anyway? It shouldn't take a month. I'll need to prod him to follow up with them again.

Not much is going on here otherwise. Some canning of tomatoes and some freezing of peppers. We lost Firefly, but she was getting old. One of the chickens is recovering from an injury. One of the other chickens swatted her off the roost and she fell 4 feet onto her wing and leg. She couldn't walk for a couple of days, but is standing now. We have her in a cage so the others won't pick on her. Chickens can be really mean to their wounded. We keep her in the garage at night, but leave her outside where the other chickens can socialize with her during the day. If they forget about her, reintroduction later will be brutal, so they need to see each other every day.

That's about it, I guess.

My Very Wordy List

September 17th, 2016 at 09:32 pm

1. My husband and I have been married for 21 years, but have been together (next week) for 26 years. We should have met long before we did. We were often in the same places at the same time (same berry field working as youngsters, junior achievement one door down from each other, Sunday School (big group of teens in a huge church that met altogether and was then separated by class and we were one grade apart), numerous things like that. We kept being put in each others' paths, but did not meet until we both worked at the same restaurant chain and he transferred to my store.

2. I never discuss politics, religion, or major issues on my Facebook page because people are crazy with their opinions and I'd like to keep my friends and family. Except for prayer requests when stuff gets really bad. Only exception.

3. I have 2 children, a girl and a boy, but we originally planned to have 4. Life didn't work out that way and by the time my youngest was 3, it was definitely for the best.

4. We started raising our own fruit, vegetables, and meat animals due to my son's massive allergies to food additives, preservatives, colorings, and artificial sweeteners. It changed our lives.

5. We are a one car (van) family and that van is paid for.

6. I am a massive Doctor Who Fan. To the point where I wrote fanfiction for several years. I am also a huge Labyrinth fan even 30 years later, but I did not get involved in the fandom, other than the time suck that is watching fanvids on youtube.

7. I love to read, but for many years I barely did. This year I have really gotten back into it again. I have probably read more in the last 6 months than I did in the last 6 years. My favorite things to read are epic military fiction with a strong female captain (think Kylara Vatta or Heris Serrano or Esmay Suiza) or flat out romance novels.

8. I dislike historical dramas on TV, but love historical fiction. I don't get it either.

9. On rare occasions I have had violently accurate intuition. For example the time I'd been driving behind a hay truck on the freeway and felt a sudden need to get out of the lane. I moved over and one of the cords securing the load snapped and hay bales fell off the truck into the space I would have been in. Or the time when DH and I were dating and were (ahem) parked and I was overwhelmed by the irrational urge to leave right then and DH listened to me and we got out of there. I found out the next morning that someone was murdered 10 minutes later who had been walking to her car parked in the same area. Within a few feet of where we'd been parked. Or a time when I chose to take a different route than my usual one because I got a weird feeling of dread as I approached one intersection and would have been involved in a multi-car pile-up where several people were badly hurt and 2 people died if I'd gone the usual way. I'd say about once every 5 or 6 years something like this happens. It scares the crap out of me every time. But I always listen to that feeling.

10. I love to cook, but I hate to clean up the kitchen. I have created dozens of my own recipes in the last 25 years.

11. I hate it when people say "It's only" in reference to money. It's only 3 cents or it's only a dollar or it's only 5 bucks. And then complain how they have no money and they can't save anything. It's just as important to mind the pennies as it is to mind the $100's.

12. I love bubblegum pop music. I love almost all forms of music, but bubblegum pop is always fun and floaty and puts me in a good mood.

13. Instruments I have learned to play over the years with various degrees of success: violin, viola, mandolin, piano, organ, flute, harpsichord, and a few chords on the guitar (my hands are small, so guitar is hard for me). I want to learn the banjo. A lot.

14. I wrote my first novel in the 3rd grade. I love writing. Even more than reading. I am always working on something.

15. I desperately want to be good at drawing. I am mediocre. I can paint, though, in both acrylics and watercolors.

16. I have taught myself to loom knit, but not to needle knit. I want to learn both it and crocheting, but my brain and my hands don't want to communicate properly when it comes down to it. I have the dexterity due to playing instruments, but there is a serious disconnect when I try to knit on needles. Crocheting is not any better. I also want to learn to machine sew more than hems.

17. I love farming. I didn't think I would take to it anywhere as much as I did. Both the animals and the extensive gardening have added so much to my life.

18. My mother drives me crazy, but she is the best person I know. Aside from my husband, she is my best friend. She is the person who taught me to always keep going no matter what life throws at you.

19. My short-term memory has not recovered fully since my concussion when I broke my nose last year. I have to leave post it notes everywhere so I don't forget things I should remember. It is getting better, but it still is disconcerting, considering once upon a time I had an eidetic memory. I've had 3 concussions in my life. This one has been the hardest to bounce back from.

20. People always think I am a much more serious person than I actually am. My humor tends to be dry and sarcastic or punny and fast wit, but I don't generally let it out until I know people pretty well. Until then I am pretty reserved and quiet. Once I am comfortable, though, it all comes out.

Update--A Bright Spot

September 13th, 2016 at 12:24 pm

I haven't really posted this month, just the interest update at the start. I tweaked my back while the chiropractor was on vacation and that put me down for a few days. I finally went and spent the money to get a deep tissue massage and it was the right choice because I was functional again that evening and out of pain other than a few twinges here and there the next day.

Then I came down with something, but it didn't act like anything normal. I felt run down, exhausted, a little achy, and had been running a fever over 100 for 10 days. That's it. No other symptoms. I did get a spider bite and it had a massive rash with it, so perhaps its related to that. But it made me too tired to do much in the way of writing, especially since I was canning, dehydrating, and preserving food.

On the other hand, there is a major bright note. You all know how I have struggled with walking since a year after my knee surgery. I was doing so well that first year of recovery, even hiking, and then everything went downhill and I had severe pain in my knee when walking and it would swell up with fluid randomly and for no apparent reason. No one could explain it and MRI's didn't show anything new. Long walks were out of the question and if I went grocery shopping I could only go to one place before the pain got so bad I'd have to go lie down the rest of the day.

When the chiropractor got back from vacation, I asked him to do traction on my neck with this loop thing he has. It basically fastens around the hairline tightly and has a strap with a handle on it and he gently pulls to get some of the tightness out of the neck. Well, we had a miscommunication and after a few traction pulls, he did this adjustment on me he had never done before where he basically tried to yank my spinal column out of my body (that's what it felt like).

It felt like every single vertabrae from my tailbone to the top of neck moved into alignment. After the shock wore off and I could get up, I immediately felt something different in my hips, left knee and left ankle, which had been getting very bad over the summer. It took me a few steps for it to sink in that I wasn't limping for the first time since 2010.

I wasn't sure what to think, but I knew it wouldn't last. But it has. I walked around Costco the next day without pain or exhaustion afterwards. Every day I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I kept thinking I should try going for a walk, but I was scared. I was without daily pain in those joints for the first time in 6 years. I didn't want to screw it up.

Well, to make a long story slightly longer, yesterday DH and I went out to Bellewood because the Tsaguru apples are ready. They are my favorite apple and have only a two week picking window. It's 30 cents a pound cheaper to pick them yourselves than to buy them already picked. I wanted 20 pounds, so we would save $6 by doing U-pick.

But all of the golf carts were out. They use golf carts to take you to the orchard if you don't want to walk. Well, frugalness won out and I decided I would try to walk it. They said if it was too much for me to walk back to call them and they'd page someone to get us. Of course the apples I wanted were at the farthest end of the orchard!

It was a fifteen minute walk to get there. We had to go past the corn maze and the massive pumpkin and sunflower field, and over a bridge that crossed a stream before we even saw the orchard. Then on to the far back corner. It did not take very long to pick, though we had to go several trees down the row because the near ones were picked clean. We filled our two ten pound bags in about 10 minutes and headed back.

I did start to feel it a little bit when we hit the bridge, but it was more being winded. I am used to doing water exercise and keeping my breathing even. This was a little harder. I did feel a bit of a strain from using muscles in ways I hadn't in a long time and I was really afraid I was going to pay for it today, but you know what? I'm not. My muscles and joints feel fine.

I walked for a total of 30 minutes. I walked. You have no idea what this means to me. I am going out for another walk today, just to make sure it is not a fluke. If I can start walking and not be in pain...I might truly have my old life back. I'm scared to believe its even a possibility, but...I have a little hope now. The skeptic in me says to be guarded as it may not last, but oh, I hope it does.


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