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Archive for June, 2007

Slightly Annoyed with Comcast

June 30th, 2007 at 05:30 pm

Our new Comcast bill was due yesterday, 6/29. We paid it in person on 6/28 at the local Comcast office. In the mail today we got a late notice bill from them that was issued and mailed on 6/22. What kind of a business sends a late notice bill 7 days before the bill is actually due? Of course, it says if it has already been paid to disregard this notice. But hello? Don't send me somewhat "threatening letters" a whole week before the freaking bill is actually due. Stupid way of doing business, not to mention wasting paper and postage.

To ING

June 28th, 2007 at 09:07 pm

I deposited the check from the orthodontist. It was actually $286.80 and not $286.40. Then I sent it to ING. My little EF is starting to pick up some speed now. This brings the total to $399.50. After interet is deposited on the first I'll have hit the $400 mark. I'll be able to deposit all survey checks to the EF now that the vacation fund is topped off. I am waiting for a total of $65 to come, or it might be $70, I've lost track.

Paying the Bills

June 28th, 2007 at 04:23 pm

I am finally getting around to posting the bills I paid from last week's paycheck.

$910.37 Medical Mortgage
$400.00 House Mortgage
$282.22 Propane
$201.89 Comcast (installation charges on top of cable/phone/internet)
$ 44.58 Garbage (2 months)
$ 71.36 Cell phone
$ 84.00 Herald
$445.00 MBNA MC#1
$110.00 Power
$ 50.00 Physical Therapy
$185.50 Car insurance (3 months)

A fair chunk of change going out, there. Tomorrow is payday again, but not like this one. This is the big one for the month and has a full seven days of wages on it. Tomorrow's pay usually only has one and a half days on it. This time it will be two and a half days on it with the new schedule change, and it will be like that from now on. The first payday will have 4.5 days on it instead of 5.5 days, so the difference is at both ends of the cycle. Then we have one week where he doesn't get paid at all, out of every four.

I'm glad the vacation money is taken care of now. And the association dues, which I thought were due at the end of June are actually due at the end of July, so that makes me happy.

Vacation Fund Update

June 28th, 2007 at 01:13 pm

I forgot to list that I topped off the vacation fund on payday and it is now fully funded at $700.00. I put it all in ING so that it could earn interest between now and vacation. The interest will stay in the Emergency Fund.

Savings Update

June 28th, 2007 at 01:11 pm

I transferred my weekly $10.00 to ING today and that brings the money in the EF to $112.70.

I received a refund check from the orthodontist for $286.40 and once I deposit it I will add it to the EF. Which will bring it to $399.10. Oh, maybe I should throw in an extra 90 cents to make it $400. Though I may be close to that when the interest is added on the 1st. I've already earned 76 cents and there are still 3 days left in the month.

A Year's Worth of Free Heat

June 28th, 2007 at 12:33 am

Three nights ago at 6:30 p.m. I got a phone call from my mother saying that her across the street neighbors had just taken down 3 enormous spruce trees. And they were giving it all away and did we want some. Yes, we did. So we bundled into the car and got there by 7:30 and worked until the sun went down around ten.

We came back yesterday and my mom had rented a gas-powered splitter, so yesterday and today that is what we did all day long. Split the rounds, split the splits, stacked it, loaded the pickup and brought it home, lather, rinse, repeat.

We got at least six cords, which when it is dry will get us through a year of heating. We cut a lot of it up fairly small so it would dry faster. I've got two cords of dry wood already so I can always burn some green with the dry so I'll be able to use it a little sooner.

We will fill up the indoor woodbox and wood cart so some will dry faster in the house as well.

We have transferred three truckloads home so far and have about four more. It's not a full size pickup so it takes a lot less at a time. We will hopefully borrow FIL's truck Friday or Saturday to move the rest in just two trips.

We are supposed to be in for another thunderstorm tomorrow and we both need a day off from such hard work anyhow.

Anyhow, this should in the long run save us about $1000 in propane usage. Not bad for what will end up being four days of work.

Thunder and Lightning

June 24th, 2007 at 10:37 pm

Oh, what a storm we had today. Gorgeous and loud and it even took the power out for a minute. Not long enough to be inconvenient, just long enough to have to reset the clocks on the stove and the microwave.

Spent $12 today on groceries. And generally spent the day totally vegging, reading stuff on line, watching The Sound of Drums. Completely taking the day off.

Tomorrow on the other hand is supposed to be beautiful and so that means yard work. A lot of yard work. Definitely will make up for the lazy day today.

Today was Fun

June 23rd, 2007 at 11:14 pm

DH and I had a great day by ourselves today. Spent more money, of course. We found the shoes for Mr. Bigfoot and there was a really good sock sale at Reeboks so we ended up buying socks for everyone. I've been wanting to do that for awhile, replace all the socks and have each person in the family have their own style, all matching, so I don't have to match socks in the laundry, and when one gets a hole in it all the other ones match up with it.

I think we got enough that I shouldn't have to buy them for two years, possibly two considering the quality of the socks. And they are big enough for the kids that even if they each go up three sizes they will still fit them. It's a really silly thing but it makes me inordinately happy to no longer have to match socks, just sort by size.

We didn't end up going to the movies, it was just so nice out neither of us wanted to be indoors for a couple hours in the middle of the day, so we just did a lot of walking around.

We had dinner at Outback and it was wonderful and I had enough leftovers for a whole other meal for tomorrow. We did not get super expensive things off the menu either, as it is possible to do Outback without spending an arm and a leg. Just have to avoid the appetizers, the drinks, and the seafood. Sigh. But it was still good even with all of that.

We filled up the nearly empty gas tank while we were down there as gas is always cheaper in that county than our own. And we got a dozen glazed from Krispy Kreme, totally unecessary spending. But we don't have one anywhere near us. So aside from that $7 for the doughnuts we didn't need, we dropped about $150 today. Pretty reasonable considering $45 was for gas at $2.93 a gallon and we filled the tank.

New PC and More Medical

June 22nd, 2007 at 11:33 pm

We spent a lot of money today. Well, for us its a lot of money. We bought a new desktop computer with flat panel monitor for $745. We'll get back a rebate of $150 on the computer and $50 on the monitor. So all told it will come out to $545.

There was no real fix to the old one. We could have replaced the power supply thingy that was fried and the motherboard that went with it for about half the cost we paid for the new one. We decided we'd just rather put that money into a new one instead. But the hard drive is okay and DH will be able to hook it up to the new one so we can retrieve all of our photos and the few documents and spreadsheets that were stored there.

I have been looking for awhile but was hoping to put it off longer, but then the PC went belly up and it really couldn't be postponed too much longer. And DH really wanted to just go ahead and get a new one and not try to fix or replace bits anymore on the old one.

So I decided not to stress about it and I'm happy with the result and so is DH and so will the kids be when we pick them up tomorrow night from my mother's house.

I got the final bill (at least I hope it is the final bill) from my surgery in May and I owe $1187.60 now that insurance has paid its portion. I'll call them on Monday and see if I can set up a payment plan of $200 a month. Or even $250. I wish it didn't have to be so darn expensive to have medically necessary services in this country. But that's another rant for a different day.

DH and I are going down to Burlington tomorrow to buy shoes for Mr. Bigfoot. He's a size 16 and it is hard to find them in our county, but there is an outlet mall that has a Van's store in Burlington that carries 16's.

We are also going to see a movie (Silver Surfer) and have a little date. We only see 2 to 3 movies a year in the theater, ususally some kind of sci-fi thing because they're always better on the big screen. Our other two movies this year will be Transformers and Harry Potter. DH really wants to see Transformers on the big screen. I wasn't that keen on it until I saw Josh Duhamel was in it, then I was okay. I did watch the cartoon as a child, but still...

But I really like Josh Duhamel. I was in the audience of a talk show when he visited the PNW a few years ago, back when he was still on All My Children, which I didn't watch, but I was really impressed with his manners and how respectful he was to the hosts and to the fans afterwards. So I followed his career after that and its nice to see him in a big movie. Plus, eye candy.

On the gardening front, I've got two heads of broccoli that are close to ready to harvest. I can't wait. There's nothing like going from garden to pot to table in less than an hour.

Today was payday, but I'm not going to get around to doing bills until Sunday I don't think. And that's about it from my little corner of the universe.

Survey Earnings

June 21st, 2007 at 09:29 pm

I did another survey with Your2Cents and cashed out today, so will have a $5.00 check coming. They say 6 to 8 weeks but they have never taken more than 3 to get here.

I took a 75 point survey with Lightspeed and a 50 point survey with GTM. I also caught up on my backlog of MyPoints. I'm close to getting a $20 gift card, though I'm thinking of saving my points up for longer and aiming for a $50 gift card that I can use at Christmas. I just need to cash out well before December so I don't face one of the card out of stock shortages like last year.

Savings Update

June 21st, 2007 at 01:42 pm

I added $10.00 to ING today bringing the total in the EF to $100.72. The vacation money is now in the account, so there is more than that in ING, but for accounting purposes I will continue to list them separately.

But it feels good to have hit the $100 mark again.

Milestone for me, too

June 20th, 2007 at 05:51 pm

Just checked my stats page and sometime in the last day or two when I wasn't looking I hit 150,000 hits. Pretty cool.

No Spend Day

June 20th, 2007 at 04:33 pm

Today is a no-spend day. I do like having those. I was very tempted to go down to the gas station and buy something earlier. Except there wasn't even anything I specifically wanted to buy. I just wanted to go look and "get something." How lame is that? Fortunately I recognized it for what it was, boredeom.

It was a very similar feeling to the one I get when I'm not really hungry but find myself peering into the fridge to see if anything "looks good." Again, boredom. I think I've been doing too much cleaning today so my mind is rebelling a bit.

I've got three loads of laundry hanging on the clothesline. The rain never showed up today, so hopefully its gone and I can get some more on tomorrow. Makes me feel frugal to hang it.

I need to finish cleaning up the kitchen. I made chicken soup in the crockpot this morning and I have a sink full of dishes that need to go in the dishwasher. But I'm in a real "I don't wanna" place. Dinner does need to started though and I don't want to have twice that many dishes in the sink when I finish with dinner so I suppose I'll have to.

It's 75 today. It's been quite a jump up the thermometer. I won't complain about it though or it might go away. I like 70 best. But 75 is preferrable to 60.

Tomorrow is the last day of school. It gets out early at one. And DH flies home in the morning. So its going to be a full family afternoon. Maybe we'll go for a bike ride.

I'm not looking forward to school being out. Well, Tobias is going to summer school until the end of July. His reading is behind. Both the teacher and I agree that it is because he is lazy and doesn't put forth the effort, there is no learning disability, but this program specializes in reading so I agreed to send him.

His sister was exactly the same way. It wasn't until the fourth grade when she really took off and left everyone else in her class in the dust. I'm not worried about him. And it will be nice to have him it four mornings a week from 9 to 12. He needs the structure or else he will run wild.

It is weird for me to have resistant readers because I was reading at 4 years old. But its not something I will stress about. T loves to be read to and I know it will click eventually, as it did with Rose.

Okay, I really better go tackle those dishes so I can get started on dinner.

Vacation Savings Update

June 19th, 2007 at 03:31 pm

I was able to confirm my CU this morning with ING, so I was able to transfer my vacation money over. It'll be nice to earn a little real interest on that money instead of 1%.

It finally stopped raining yesterday afternoon so I decided to bite the bullet and hung three loads of towels on the clothesline. It's sunny today and they should be dry by this evening. It just isn't very warm. It was 45 this morning. It is up to 70 now so possibly they are dry. Dunno. I'll check when the bus comes. Hopefully hanging laundry again might trim the power bill back down. Who knows?

It's supposed to rain again tomorrow. Hello, its June. Enough already.

I really need to stop...

June 18th, 2007 at 08:31 pm

...looking at cars online. Sigh. I saw something that looks just like what we need. It's a gorgeous well-maintained Ford mini-van with leather seats, 1995, 110K miles, in excellent repair, for $3200.

I am seriously thinking of scheduling a test drive on it. Of trading in the Blazer on it. We can definitely swing it. But do I want to exchange a 1996 for a 1995? Well, it's got 45,000 fewer miles on it than the Blazer does. And it is in working condition, whereas the Blazer needs the air conditioner and some other under the hood type thing fixed. We can do the payments no problem.

And the other thing is, its a Ford. We've had excellent luck with Fords. This Chevy has been nothing but a drain on us since the day we bought it. Not that I'm anti-chevy. My first car was a Chevy Nova (1976) that I got in 1988 and it is still out on the road today, I still see it going strong. But, it seems the old Chevy was a lot better than anything circa 1990's.

But, but, but, we think we can manage to wait another year before buying any replacement vehicles. So why do I go looking for these things when I know better?

New Power Bill Rate

June 18th, 2007 at 05:40 pm

The new rate increase came in the latest power bill. I am not very happy with it. Especially since my usage is so much lower than a year ago, when I was paying this rate. It's gone from $93 to $110. I guess I'll have to really buckle down again and see if I can't get it back below $100. We had gotten a little more casual in our energy usage, but its still been below what our budget amount has been.

Hopefully it will stop sprinkling long enough to start hanging laundry. All week long last week it has been either raining or spitting out and just when you think its done, it starts up again.

I know we can afford the rate increase, it is just the principle of the thing. Doggone Puget Sound Energy.

Internet Banking

June 18th, 2007 at 05:07 pm

Well, I finally went into ING and set it up to verify with my main credit union. For a long time I wanted to keep them seperate and so if I wanted to transfer money to ING I had to physically move it from CU #1 to CU #3. Oh, I could have transferred it electronically but that would have added another 3 or 4 days to it floating around without earning any interest.

Anyway, once the test deposits are made I will then be able to transfer money from the main account to ING. This will save me some wasted time. I was very hesitant to do this when I first started with ING, but I've been with them since October and I think my internet banking fears are gone. Even though I've been internet banking with my CU for over a decade, it took me awhile to feel comfortable using a bank.

I am going to transfer the vacation fund into my ING account so it can earn some interest in the month before we go. I should have done this awhile ago, but I've been putting it off. No more of that. This week it goes in. Then I'll just have to remember to transfer it back out in plenty of time for vacation.

Weekly Menu Plan

June 18th, 2007 at 12:57 am

Okay, in my quest to buckle down and save up the last $290 needed for our vacation at the end of July, I am going back to menu planning. This helps greatly in not eating out and in frugal food management.

Breakfasts will be variations of eggs and toast, sausage and toast, or ham and toast for the kids. For me its eggs and vegetables of some sort, or sausage and vegetables usually cucumbers or kohlrabi. I tend not to eat bread.

I've made up two pounds of homemade sausage patties, so there will be a fair bit of sausage this week.

The kids are having lunches at school through their last day on Thursday and for me, and DH when he arrives on Thursday, its always some variation of the leftovers of dinners. Which is what the kids will get, too on Friday.

Monday:
B: Sausage, vegetables, toast
L: Leftover chicken stir-fry (chicken and broccoli)
D: Wild Salmon, roasted asparagus (from the garden), fried potatoes, salad (from the garden), fresh berries

Tuesday:
B: Salmon and aspargus omelets, toast for kids
L: Salmon patties, cucumbers
D: Crab legs, baked potatoes, broccoli/cauliflower, salad (from the garden), cherries

Wednesday:
B: Crab and broccoli omelets, toast for kids
L: Salmon loaf
D: Chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, salad (from the garden), fresh berries

Thursday:
B: Eggs, ham, toast, kohlrabi
L: Chicken quesadilla, kohlrabi
D: Spaghetti and meatballs, zucchini and yellow crookneck summer squash, salad, pineapple

Friday:
B: Eggs and sausage, cucumbers, toast
L: Meatballs with zucchini and squash
D: Beef potroast cooked with potatoes and carrots, side of broccoli/cauliflower, salad, cherries

Saturday:
B: Eggs and Ham, sauteed red cabbage, from scratch pancakes of the kids
L: Shredded beef tacos, chips and salsa
D: Taco salad and whatever odds and ends are still left from the rest of the week, peaches

Sunday:
B: Sausage, French Toast for the kids, any leftover veggie
L: Meatloaf with salad
D: Homemade battered cod fish and chips, green beans, salad, any leftover fruit

Meals are consumed either with milk or water, sometimes the kids will have apple juice or some kind of junk drink that somehow made it into the house. I may make a half batch of brownies from scratch, depending on behavior this week. I don't like to keep sweets in the house because Rose doesn't have an off-switch when it comes to highly processed carbohydrates. So it is rare to have sweets of the non-natural variety.

Anyway, that's my menu plan and I'm sticking to it!

Vacation Fund Update

June 18th, 2007 at 12:34 am

I've brought my checkbook balance up to date and with what I have leftover from the last paycheck, I am going to take and add $50 to the vacation fund. This will bring me to $402 in the vacatin fund. Which means $298 left to save until the end of July. It's going to be a bit squeaky, I think, but I can do it. Just have to keep focused on not having more than one meal out this month and same for next month. We'll certainly make up for that on vacation.

Oops, I also have $8 of rolled coin I can deposit as well. So that makes it $410 and only $290 to come up with.

Payday and Other Random Stuff

June 17th, 2007 at 09:05 pm

Yesterday was payday. Bills paid were:

$820.00 to BoA Visa
$372.00 to Water/Sewer
$ 88.90 to Citi MC
$ 34.00 to Security system
$ 93.00 to Puget Sound Energy
$ 30.57 to Life Insurance
$ 60.00 to Medical
$100.00 to Gas Card
$ 76.83 to Costco groceries and toilitries
$105.89 to Haggen groceries
$ 72.00 to Cell phone

So quite a bit of money out yesterday. Water/sewer is 6 months. They've switched over to a new computer system and have their elbows up their noses when it comes to billing. Fortunately I've just been keeping the money in account until they got around to billing. It's supposed to be $104 every two months.

Next week will be a rather large payout as well, as propane goes out, garbage, medical and house mortgages go out, homeowner's association dues, car insurance and $200 to Comcast for hooking up the new digital phone, putting in a new cable system for the internet and moving an existing cable to a new location for the telly.

I'm still not a huge fan of having cable telly again. But I absolutely adore cable internet. Makes me happy. I also like having caller ID for the first time. It's not an extra with the new system, it comes standard. I ignore call waiting. I think its rude and always have and I will not use it. Well, unless its DH. That could be an emergency. So I would then. Just have to figure out how.

The PC went belly up this week. I'm not sure if I said that before or not. When DH comes home he will do some tinkering and if that doesn't work we will take it in to 3-D, the local computer fixer people and see if anything can be done. We'll at least retrieve the photos off the hard drive. Then we will be looking at saving up for a little Compaq desktop. Doesn't have to be anything grand or expensive.

Oh, gas prices have dropped again, here. I filled up at Costco yesterday at $2.99 a gallon. It didn't even cost $45 for just under 15 gallons. Last time it was $52! So that's nice. It's also nice to still have over $50 on the gas card.

I need to remember to call and make an appointment to have the steering fluid flushed in the car. It's in serious need and I will try to schedule for next Friday as I will be in town doing all the banking for next payday then. I have a couple more repairs to schedule as well. It seems it's always something, but I suppose when your car is 15 years old, you do what needs doing to keep it on the road. The repairs still aren't more than half a car payment averaged throughout the year, so I think we're still doing good there.

Not much else going on. Oh, I was able to watch Doctor Who Utopia today. Took a good bit of hunting to find a working download, but I finally did. It only aired on Friday in the UK. It'll start airing in the states on July 6. Not sure when the DVD will be out, but definitely not until after it finishes its run on Scifi channel. I'll need to start saving up for that, too.

I found out Torchwood starts airing on BBCAmerica in September. Not sure if SciFi will do the spinoff or not. Well, I've watched them all online anyway. No info on when the DVD of that comes out either, but it'll probably be just as pricey as DW, so I should probably just double the amount I'm putting away for DW.

I think that's about it then, for today. No money spent at all today.

Freebies

June 15th, 2007 at 10:01 pm

I recieved a .42 ounce sample of Ban deoderant in the mail today from WalMart. That's about a half size but it will last a month. I haven't bought deoderant in a year now. It amazes me how many samples of it there are out there.

I signed up for seven other samples today, including 3 for cat food samples for when Lucky comes visiting. That is what I call the lovely ginger cat that did not end up taking up residence here, but comes by about once a week for a cuddle and a bite to eat. He is such a sweetie, but I am glad I am not the one responsible for him. He ended up at a good home, though.

Cashed Out at NFO

June 15th, 2007 at 09:55 pm

NFO sent me a 50 point survey today so I hit my 1000 points and cashed out for a $10 check to be mailed. It should arrive in 3 to 6 weeks.

Bank Transfer

June 15th, 2007 at 08:27 pm

I transferred $16,000 of credit card debt from one of my MBNA cards to my Chase card. It's going from 12.9% to 1.9% until February. There is still almost $3000 left on that card. I have over $2000 worth of room on my Citi card that I can get transferred at 6.9%, which will stay at that rate until November of 2008.

That will leave me about $1000 on the MBNA card, which will easily be paid off before February. Round about the time Chase goes up, I imagine MBNA will be offering me a better rate. That tends to be the way it goes.

Savings Update

June 15th, 2007 at 02:50 pm

I transferred $10 to my ING savings account yesterday, bringing the balance in there to $90.72. As of yesterday I had earned 11 cents in interest for the month. My goal right now has just been to just reach for $100, which I will reach next week. My goal after that will be to hit $250, then $500, then $750, then finally $1000. When I receive my $50 check from the survey company that I am waiting on, I will put it in here. Building this EF back up has been such slow going, but I am getting there even if I am just crawling.

Pinecone Again

June 15th, 2007 at 02:46 pm

The $5 payment for the Pinecone survey I took last night showed up in my paypal account this morning. I have to love how fast they are with payment. At first it seemed like they were very slow to send out surveys but now I am getting them at a pretty rapid fire rate. Well, one a week or so. Pretty good compared to some of the slow poke companies out there.

I transferred that to the CU so it should show up and be ready to be bumped into the vacation fund on Wednesday.

Oddz and Endz on Surveys

June 14th, 2007 at 11:31 pm

Today I cashed out with one of my survey companies and should be receiving a $50 check in the next 2 to 6 weeks.

I did another survey with Pinecone today, which should arrive in my paypal account tomorrow or Monday.

I am 35 points from cashing out for a $10 check with NFO, so that should happen within a week or so.

The $5 from the last Pinecone survey that I transferred from paypal has shown up in my CU.

I am on track for a very good survey month this month. This is the first time I am being paid by the first company I talked about. I have read very good things about them and have had a very good experience with them. They have lots of surveys, usually 2 to 5 daily of which I qualify for at least one or two. Once in awhile I may go a day or two without any survey offers from them, usually over a long weekend or something.

They tend to run 50 points, with an occassional one at 35 and maybe 10% at 75 points. Rarely there will be one for more. Generally you get 5 points if you don't qualify. So if you have five non-qualifying surveys in a day, you'd still most likely get 25 points that day. It has taken me about 3 months to reach 1000 points. Points are cashed out at 5 cents per point, but you can't cash out until you reach 1000 points.

I'll update when (and if) I get the check, but if anyone wants to sign up with them before that knowledge comes through, drop me a note and I can refer you now. Otherwise I'll offer referrals when I get the check. I had researched them thoroughly online before I signed up with them and everything I've read says they do pay out on time and are a good company.

Now I'm off to see what's up with Lightspeed. No surveys from them for awhile.

Power to the People

June 14th, 2007 at 06:00 pm

Why does it have to be so darn expensive? I mean here, in the PNW where we have cheap hydroelectric power, it should not generate a bill of $93 a month when I don't heat my house with electricity!

When my husband and I were first married in 1995, the power bill for a two bedroom, 1 bath, 1400 square foot apartment with only one shared wall and a shared floor and ceiling, cost $30 a month. And it had baseboard heaters! It had a dishwasher, it had a washer and dryer and I washed everything on warm or hot.

Flash forward 12 years to us living in a super-insulated 1800 square foot house with all high efficiency appliances. I hang dry about half the laundry and wash everything but kitchen towels, sheets and under garments on cold. They get hot to kill germs and dust mites. I do the short cycle on the dishwasher, never use the heat dry, and stop the washer as soon as the clean cycle is done. We heat the house with propane or wood. We use all fluorescent bulbs. We don't leave most appliances plugged in and the computers are off when not in use. And yet my bill has increased 200 percent.

I know the cost of living has gone up in 12 years, but it certainly has not gone up 200 percent. Certainly wages have not. If our power company was oil based, I'd get it. But its water based. You can't get much cheaper than hydroelectric when there's been an existing power structure for decades.

I have generally been happy this last year that I have managed to keep my electric bill under $100 a month on the budget program (same average payment made each month throughout the year so no one payment is super high in winter). But now, and here is the true cause of my rant, PSE, that's Puget Sound Energy, is being allowed to raise its rates 9 to 13 percent to residential customers. Which even if I luck out and draw the 9 percent, is going to put my bill above $100 and I am not a happy camper. It's a psychological barrier. I brought the bill down from $110 to $93, and now through no fault of my own, I lose that.

My gasoline budget has doubled this year, my propane budget has risen about 30%, food has gone up about 20% due to higher transport costs, and now the non-related hydroelectric power is going up. I really don't see how they can justify this. Don't they know that its one more bill raise on top of many others?

We are fortunate here in that we can afford to absorb it. Before the raise, it would have meant cutting from the grocery budget. It's not ideal, but it will not break us. Now we don't have to. But so many people have already been broken by the rise in gas and oil costs already. There was a letter to the editor in my local paper this week about one person losing their job because they can no longer afford the gas to drive to it.

What are low income people going to do? Especially if they are too high of a low income to qualify for PSE's warm home fund? That concerns me a lot. I live in a predominately low income, but well-maintainned rural area. I know of a few people who are just scraping by and I can't imagine what this new rate increase will do to them. Yes, it is "only" ten dollars a month. But when you are already stretched to the breaking point, ten dollars is a lot of money. I know people that have grocery budgets of $50 to $100 a month or less.

With ten dollars in our area, if you shop sales you can buy:
10 pound bag of chicken hindquarters for $4.90, a 5 pound bag of potatoes for $1.90, a pound of rice for .99, a dozen eggs for a $1.25, 2 carrots for .46 and a loaf of bread for .50. You could have dinners and lunches and breakfasts out of that for a week for a young family of four. Maybe half a week if your kids are older. No wonder everyone out here supplements with gardens.

Something has to give around here and I am afraid it is going to be the people. Do you remember that old song from the 80's called Parent's Just Don't Understand? I think it's time to revamp that, only title it Big Businesses Just Don't Understand. Then again, I think they do understand. I think they just don't care.

I Close My Eyes and All I See...

June 13th, 2007 at 09:40 pm

...is weeds, weeds, weeds, everywhere. But that's okay because when I open them they are gone. Well, mostly. I spent 4 hours yesterday and 6 hours today weeding and weeding and weeding some more. It reminds me of when I was a kid and picked berries in the summer, 8 to 10 hours a day, six days a week. At night when I'd close my eyes that's all I would see.

My garden looks like a garden again. I probably should have taken a before photo, its hard to believe it is the same place. I let most of my garden lay fallow last year. Pretty much everything but the permanent crops of berries, asparagus and herbs. Oh, I had a pot of peas and one of beans and one of tomatoes, but the raised beds didn't get used. So they went to the weeds and the pathways after summer ended went to the weeds.

Now I've pretty much got it all reclaimed and partially planted. I thought I'd list what I have so far.

6 broccoli plants
6 cauliflower plants
6 red cabbage plants
24 kohlrabi plants
10 potato volunteers
7 cucumber plants (one didn't make it before planting
1 large zucchini plant
5 green leaf lettuces (one got eaten up by slugs)
8 yellow crookneck squash
1 hanging basket full of peas
1 Tigerella Heirloom tomato plant in blossom
10 garlic bulbs

permanent plants
asparagus
strawberries
blackberries
blueberries
raspberries
bush cherries
Saskatoons (berries)
apple tree
3 pear trees (one immature)
1 dwarf cherry tree
various herbs

What I still need to plant from seed:
green beans
radishes

Once I get those in I'll look around for space to see if I want to plant anymore.

I also planted wave petunias in alternating red and white down the driveway flowerbed and some bright yellow (not orangey) marigolds in a mass planting with red salvias on other side. The lilies there are getting ready to bloom and they will be deep orange and then towards the end of summer the bright orange Japanese lanterns will bloom. There is some red dianthus that is blooming right now, and the roses have tons of tight flower heads on them. There's also some hot pink something or other I did not plant there, but they migrated from across the yard.

Then I put some hot pink and some magenta wave petunias in the front whiskey barrel that has daffodils in the early spring, pulled the daffs frist and stuck the bulbs in some good compost in a different pot. The front whiskey barrel goes with the roadside flowerbed which is predominately pinks, whites, purples and blues. That bed is starting to bloom. Well the bachelor buttons have been out for a bit and the blue geranium has as well. The hot pink roses are blooming and the white goosenecks, daisies, and something else blue is blooming. Tons more to come in a couple weeks though. That flowerbed is 32 feet long and 4 feet wide.

I need to do the shade bed still. It is still weedy and the ornamental grass is doing a runner and needs to be set back. The hostas all came up beautifully this year but something ate the cyclamen. I have another hosta to plant there and I think that will make five varieties now. It also has some creeping red sedum and some violets. And lots of dandelions, unfortunately. Well, that bed is only eight feet long and one foot wide so it shouldn't take more than an hour to do, if that.

The peonies that belonged to DH's G'Ma are opening. My G'Ma's should open in another week or so. I still have to weed the horseshoe flowerbed, which is 16 feet on one side, 32 feet on one side and 16 feet on the other side. Only one foot wide though, so I might get through that with about four hours of work. Then the caladiums and coleus will need to go in the one stretch of 16 feet of bed. Everything else there is perrenial.

It's a lot of work and I hope the weather holds. I should think of mowing the lawn at some point but since it is already six to twelve inches shorter than anyone else in the neighborhood's at the moment I can let it go a bit longer. It's only been a week.

I got a lot accomplished and a lot of my stress dissolved. It's like I can stick my hands in the dirt and feel the stress just flowing out of me. It is very peaceful.

I did spend some money today. I got a garden hose and two new sprinklers and I got lunch from the Polynesian takeout place, Black Pepper Chicken (has celery and bokchoy in it). It came to less than $4 for the lunch. I can't remember on the hose and sprinklers, $25 or thereabouts.

Techie Stuff

June 13th, 2007 at 05:56 pm

Just a quick question to the resident techies around here, Tina or B.A. or anyone else who knows. I've been using Firefox because Veoh and Stage6 digi players and downloads don't run in I.E. or don't run well in I.E. Does Firefox do everything that I.E. can do? Because I think I'd just as soon make it my default browser if it does. But I don't want to get stuck in some backwater area of the internet if it isn't as good as or better than I.E. Thanks muchly for any help. I am such a newbie to non-MS stuff.

More Medical Debt Info in Response to Last Post

June 12th, 2007 at 04:05 pm

I decided to make a proper entry in answer to some comments left on my last post about my medical debt, because it just got too long to be a comment.

No, the hospital will not negotiate any further. As it is, my parents put their house up for collateral against this debt because mine wasn't worth that amount of money. If I fail to pay on the debt my parents would have to so it is something I have to be very conscientious about.

I have never been one to walk away from my debt, no matter how tempting or how much easier it would have made my life to do so. And it will get paid, either over the course of the next twenty odd years or when my parents die and I inherit the house and sell it. Even if the house is sold for medical care the mortgage would be paid off first as the oldest debt and then I'd just pay back the surviving parent free of interest. It is more likely they will die before I can pay it off since Dad is 72 or 73 (can't ever remember if he's 5.5 years older than Mom or 4.5) and Mom is nearly 68. But that's obviously not the option I prefer! I want my folks around as long as possible.

My parents wanted to cash out their IRA and pay it and just have me pay them $1000 a month interest free until the remainder of the debt was paid down, since they have enough in CD's to live off the interest plus the thousand, but since their IRA was made from a never taxed pension the penalty would have been enormous. So that didn't happen.

Mom says that when Dad dies she can then cash out the IRA without penalty and pay it off and then me pay her the rest of what is owed interest free. Another route I don't really want to go.

Well, it'll get paid and I'm feeling better today about it. Yesterday was just really hard.


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