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Archive for August, 2016

One Thing or Another

August 31st, 2016 at 06:01 pm

Have you ever heard of any government office starting their work week on a Sunday? Every government office starts their work week on a Monday. And ends it on Friday, but they definitely start on Mondays, so the corollary ought to be that if they did for some unknown reason work on weekends, their work week would end on Sunday. Logical, yes?

DH's work week started on Monday and ended on Sunday, also, logical. Every job he's ever worked, every job I've ever worked, Monday has been considered the first day of the work week and Sunday the last. The only place Sunday is the first day of the week is on the calendar.

So why, then, does unemployment consider the work week to start on Sunday and end on Saturday, instead of starting on Monday like the rest of the country?

DH's last day of work was on a Sunday. So that means his first week of being unemployed does not count, since he got paid for that Sunday and his wages that day are more than a week's unemployment. If he'd made less than that amount he'd have gotten the difference up to the max, but he did, so nothing for that week. He won't get anything for that week at all. *sighs*

I guess he didn't have qualifying job applications for that week anyway according to them, so it wouldn't even matter, but the hoops they special little qualifications they make you jump through here are ridiculous. He's been paying in without fail for 32 years. It should not be this hard to get a tiny little bit of it back.

Well, he's got properly qualifying and documented applications for this current week so it should start then, but won't arrive for a couple weeks after that. I want to tear my hair out. Actually, no, strike that. I want to tear someone else's hair out. Preferably one of the lawmakers who came up with some of these hoops. Or maybe they can just get stuck inside a giant stack of hoops conveniently dropped by a formerly unemployed fork lift driver with no hope of rescue for 24 hours and only 2 bottles of water and no bathroom. Actually make that 6 bottles of water and no bathroom.

I am actually thinking maybe there isn't much point in going after the gold plan. We might do bronze and pay far less out of pocket. In adding up our prescriptions and office visits at out of pocket cost, with the lowest cost plan that is still good insurance in a catastrophe, we'd be paying less than $1000 a month. With the gold plan we'd be paying about $1600 to $1700 a month out of pocket once we hit the deductible. Turns out the gold plan only has vision and dental for kids under 18, not adults, so that is all out of pocket anyway and is a game changer.

So back to the drawing board I guess. We have to do what will make our savings last the longest.

On the bright side, and I promise it has not all been doom and gloom around here, I sold a rabbit on Saturday for $83. That will pay for 3 to 4 month's of rabbit feed. We haven't sold any duck eggs because we are eating them all, but they have picked up production again, so between the ducks and the chickens we are getting enough eggs to eat daily again.

I am preserving food left and right from the garden. I have put up plums (canned, frozen, and dehydrated, made fruit leather, canned potatoes, green beans, and corn. I have frozen poblano, Anaheim, and bell peppers and am working on chopping up onions to freeze. The tomatoes are starting to produce. I might have enough to can two pints. That's not much, but they should start exploding in about 2 weeks.

The second crop of broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and lettuce is coming along nicely. The third crop of kohlrabi and radishes is too. My first crop of chard planted this year is struggling a bit, but with the weather turn and some real rain for the first time this summer it is perking up. I will be planting carrots, radishes, and turnips today. And possibly spinach if I can find starts or seeds. The last frost has been mid-November lately so I should get it in under the wire. Carrots are 60 days, turnips are 50 days, and radishes are 24 to 40 days depending on variety. And I can use frost cloths if we get an early frost.

All right, well, I better get back to the garden as there is a break in the rain.

Ducks All Over the Place

August 30th, 2016 at 11:37 pm

We are trying to get all of our ducks in a row with unemployment, but I think it's going to take a lot of hoop jumping before our ducks aren't scattered all over the place. Just one example is that we were asked if we wanted direct deposit or a debit card with the money on it. DH checked the box for direct deposit. They said it would be a couple of weeks from the time the process it, but it was going to be a couple weeks anyway so whatever. But then they sent a debit card anyway???

I'm not sure why as that is the least convenient way for us to possibly use the money and we said we did not want it. There is no money on it yet, because he hasn't been unemployed for 2 weeks yet. It'll make it difficult for us to use for the thing we want to use it for, buying health insurance (direct withdrawal or credit card, no option for debit card). I don't know why the government has to make things 20 times harder than it has to be. Plus fees are deducted every time you use a debit card. We need all of that money.

They also want DH to apply for jobs their way and not in, you know, the way he should for his industry's standards. So he can send stuff in the proper way for the job he is applying for and through the correct channels, or in the way that unemployment will give him credit for but will be less likely in netting a job interview. He's trying for a happy medium, because the intended outcome is to actually GET a job, not remain on unemployment for 6.5 months.

DH is dealing with this, so I am only frustrated by default, not like crazy about it. I am sure it will all get ironed out eventually, it is just how many bumps there will be before it does. And you all know how I like for things to run smoothly. I just have to keep going along, put my head down, and keep my faith that God knows what he is doing.

Insurance Decision, Job Hunt

August 27th, 2016 at 05:54 am

Well, we have decided what we are going to do about insurance. We are going to buy the Regence gold plan through Costco that starts October 1st. We are going to pay out of pocket anything for September and not do the COBRA, because it will be far cheaper.

We, however, can do the COBRA retroactively for September if something happens, like a major hospitalization, so a big emergency medical issue is covered. We have up to 60 days to do a retroactive COBRA.

Also we won't get fined by the government for missing a month of insurance. Apparently you get 3 months between losing your insurance and getting a new one before you'll get fined. I hate that part of the ACA. It's punitive and stupid and a money grab. Insurance should be available to anyone who needs it, but not enforced with what amounts to an unconstitutional tax. *sighs*

I added up everything we will be doing in September and it is far, far cheaper to do it this way. It is also a lot easier. We can sign up for our plan and just send them the paperwork when we finally get it. That is a big weight off our shoulders.

It's still pretty pricey, at $1543 for 4 people, but that beats the $2230.17 by a lot. And it's such better insurance $2000 family deductible. $8 generic prescriptions. $20 co-pay for doctors. Better dental. Better vision. I know we probably will be paying out of pocket for a while, but our money will still go a lot further this way.

DH's unemployment will just cover that and hopefully he will find a new job before the 6.5 months of unemployment runs out. I just wish he could get WA state unemployment and not be stuck with Alaska unemployment. WA state is almost double Alaska.

He's got a couple more leads and someone asked him to send his resume for a specific job so hopefully that leads somewhere. It would be a very good long-term job, contracted directly to parent company, not these sub contractors that come and go. So cross your fingers, and say prayers if you do that for us please.

Meanwhile DH has completed his entry essay for the BS, which I corrected about 5 times, but it was very good by the end. He's sent for his transcripts to be sent there, so the ball is rolling on that.

I am trying not to let things overwhelm me. It is easier with DH home. He has a calming influence on me.

We got DH's last paycheck today. Once this is gone we will have to start dipping into the Emergency Fund. I will try to make it last as long as possible.

Question on AMEX Every Day Blue Cash Card

August 27th, 2016 at 05:05 am

Back in April when I got my new AMEX card, part of the deal was that if I spent so much in the first 3 months I was supposed to get a cash reward. We easily met the $3000 spending in the first two months, but so far there is no sign of that cash reward. Shouldn't it have shown up by now? It's been 4 months.

I can't see it as a credit on the account anywhere and they didn't put it on any of the statements as a check or anything so is there a special place I should be looking for it or to redeem it? It's not in the redeem rewards section.

I just want to double check any obvious places before I call them and ask what is going on. Does it actually take longer than 4 months before they issue the reward?

Medical Insurance through Costco

August 25th, 2016 at 05:28 am

Did you know you can get medical insurance through Costco? I mean, it's not Costco insurance, but they offer plans through major medical insurers that actually seem quite reasonable, or at least in comparison to our COBRA, and it is much easier to navigate than the ACA Exchanges.

We are looking at a plan through Regence. Unfortunately the soonest we can get on it is October 1st, which would mean going September with no insurance. Or paying COBRA for September. And I'm not sure if we can start the COBRA and then switch in October. Being laid off is an event that qualifies you to purchase medical at a non-enrollment time. Quitting a COBRA is not a qualifying event, though running out of COBRA is.

The open enrollment period is November 1st, but I don't know if that means it starts November 1st. I am just afraid we will have to pay COBRA for a couple of months before we can buy the less expensive but far better insurance. That will diminish our Emergency Fund fast.

DH is going to have to get some more questions answered. I just wish we could start on September 1st, but apparently to do that, you need to have enrolled on August 15th. Ugh. We haven't even gotten the paperwork we need to get either the COBRA or the insurance at a non-open enrollment time, either. September is going to be a frustrating month. I may have to reschedule an appointment of mine until October.

We have been pushing hard to get everything done that we can. We've all been to the dentist this month and my son goes in for an eye exam tomorrow to see if he needs new glasses. But we may wait to get them until we are on the Regence insurance because it looks like they cover kids' glasses 100%.

I am going to try to get an eye exam in as well at Lenscrafters. I won't buy glasses there, but I do see the doctor there, because you can get in fast. I won't be able to get glasses as I got them a year ago, but I want to see whether or not my prescription has changed. I'm having some issues with night vision while driving (so I've stopped driving at night as much as possible).

I had my labs done and so did my daughter so we are good on those for a year. We're going to get as many prescriptions renewed as possible before the end of the month. I've been working on getting a stash of high blood pressure and high cholesterol drugs, because they will let me renew those every three weeks, so I've got a two month supply and if I can get one more in this month then I shouldn't have to get those until the insurance situation is all sorted out.

This is complicated. I know we'll come through it and out the other side, but I wish it didn't have to be so hard, or so expensive.

There was Fire Under all that Smoke

August 22nd, 2016 at 10:15 pm

I was right to be suspicious about something not adding up about DH not getting hired by company b, when parent company was so strongly recommending they hire him. Someone at company b sat on his resume. Claimed he never received it, although DH put it directly in his hands, and followed up with him numerous times over the past several months, until the guy suddenly went silent 3 weeks ago.

Also another employee with parent company put it directly in his hands as well and has come forward to say so. The first guy also claimed DH was never even at the first interview, when he was the second person interviewed and where there were multiple other people to verify he was there, not to mention 2 other people doing the interviews with this guy.

It looks like he made sure the resume was not there for the actual hiring process, so that the other guy would be hired, despite parent company's wishes that DH be in that position. It is being investigated by parent company and probably company b, too. DH has digital evidence and whatnot to back up his side of things. There's always a paper trail. I guess people don't realize just how easy it is to get caught in a lie these days.

Which is all well and good, but right now DH still doesn't have a job or a job offer. We do not know whether the guy who got the job colluded or just the first guy, but I suspect both, based on past behavior of the guy who was hired. They are friends.

I am shocked and yet at the same time I'm not. I knew something wasn't right. I just knew it. And now I am extremely frustrated that something like this would happen to someone like DH who is so kind, hard-working, and well-liked up there. He has a sterling reputation. It's just wrong.

Man, people can be such jerks. If you can't get the job fair and square, why not stack the deck and cheat and who cares who it hurts? How do people like that sleep at night? My only consolation is that if it is proven, he will probably be canned so hard that he'll never work up there again.

DH is pursing ND at this point and a few other things. Hopefully something will come up soon. He's home now and will go down and apply for unemployment tomorrow.

COBRA and BS (College)

August 18th, 2016 at 02:13 am

I really wanted to title it COBRA BS, but no. I found out how much the COBRA is going to cost us. It's not as high as the $2500 we originally thought, but it is still $2230.17 a month. We're going to have to see if we can't find something cheaper.

All we really need is catostrophic coverage. It is cheaper to pay out of pocket for all our medical stuff than to pay that kind of money for insurance. We'd go without if I wasn't afraid something big might happen. Or that the government would steal our tax refund as punishment.

DH will start investigating when he gets home on Monday. Right after he goes down to apply for unemployment. There's got to be something else that isn't going to drain our resources like that. Unemployment won't even come close to covering the cost of that. Considering how much he has paid into Unemployment over the years, he really ought to be getting more than he will be, but that's not how it really works.

Mom said we can completely suspend our loan payments to her until DH finds a new job. So that will help. It's not something I like at all, but we've got to make our savings last as long as possible. Unless company b comes in with a last minute offer, we are operating on the idea of Sunday being DH's last day of work.

We are also looking at DH starting his BS in Electrical Engineering. There are times when 20 years of experience, a strong recommendation from parent company, and two AS's still don't count as much as a BS in the hiring process. Of course ultimately, BS with only a few years of experience washes out and then DH gets hired, because book learning is never the same as real life on the job experience, but some HR people only want what looks good on paper (book learning) and always have to learn the hard way. Especially with this one guy who keeps getting hired over DH over the years and yet in the end DH is the one who ends up with the job when this guy can't handle it.

With college we'd go through our savings even faster, but in the long run it will help us so much for him to have that that I think we have to do it. If he does full time it would be $10,800 a year. We are looking at half time, though, as hopefully he'll be working at something, so $5,400. He'd do it completely online. We think all or most of his credits should transfer and he'll be able to just start at 3rd year, but he'll have to have a transcript review done, which of course costs money, too.

I won't take out loans. I'm not going down that road. Both kids have said they would get jobs to contribute. Can you believe that? I don't want it to come to that, though. Especially with my daughter, who is fragile in both health and mental health and has her next year of college paid for.

I have been trying to think of things I can do, though it is hard with my disabilities. I can't work a job where I'd be on my feet all day like when I was a cook without severe pain and with me being out of the workforce for 20 years, I'm not sure any of my bookkeeping or office skills would be current. My jobs were summer farm work, babysitting, Visiting Nurse chore worker, cook, tutor (but in outdated things like Word Perfect and DOS and Peachtree and Ten-Key calculator and old Data Entry systems), and receptionist/bookkeeper. Most of that I can't do anymore because of my physical limitations. I am broken and obsolete.

So hopefully DH finds something. Something in the $5000 a month take home range with semi-decent medical insurance so we can keep paying Mom and I can keep up with the out of pocket physical therapy that keeps me walking and gardening and taking care of our mini-farm. We can survive on less, but without the PT life would be miserable for me. And without being able to pay Mom back, it wouldn't be roses, either.

If he can find that until he can find something better, we will be just fine. I keep hoping for a last minute miracle, but I really do not think we are going to get one.

Well, I Wasn't Lazy

August 15th, 2016 at 07:38 pm

I definitely wasn't lazy this weekend, but I didn't do the canning. It was in the 90's and I just couldn't face making the house even hotter. And honestly, being on my feet that much when my ankles and knees were still swollen had no appeal.

I did work in the garden though. It had to be early in the morning and 7 p.m. to dark, though. I managed to get in about 4 hours of garden work each day, though. Having 2 foot tall raised beds and a chair meant I didn't have to put any pressure on my knees or ankles. Building those beds was the best thing we ever did for gardening.

I harvested 2 feet by 16 feet worth of yellow onions. I had already harvested half that earlier in the week in yellow onions and shallots. I still have 2 feet by 8 feet worth of red onions to harvest.

I harvested my purple potatoes. I was disappointed, but that's what I get for growing in containers. They always do much better in the ground. I got about 3 times what I planted. If I plant in the ground I get 5 to 6 times what I plant. There are still some volunteers in last years potato patch to dig. I don't know if they are reds or golds, though.

Some of the apples got picked--5 5 gallon buckets worth and then about 1 gallon of Italian plum/prunes. There was about a quart of strawberries and a handful of raspberries as well.

I've built the beds back up with compost and I've gotten some replanting for fall crops done. I've put in more kale, broccoli, radishes, kohlrabi, chard, and cauliflower. I am debating on whether or not I should put in another sowing of snow peas. I will be planting carrot and turnip seeds, probably tonight.

This morning, before it got too hot, I went out and gave everything in the back yard garden a deep watering and then spent about an hour taking the branches off the bottom foot of each tomato plant and then taking off all the suckers to thin out the foliage. This helps allow light and air circulation to the interior of the plant and lets the pollinators get into the flowers more freely. It also helps prevent disease from water splashing up onto the lower leaves and causing blight.

I had removed lower branches early on, but needed to do it again as some more had grown. I also removed any leaves or branches that had yellowed badly. It's important to stay on top of that stuff if you don't want to end up with blight.

I didn't go to my exercise class this morning. The swelling has gone down in my knees and ankles. They still hurt, though not as bad, but I didn't want to risk doing something to make them swell again. Even water exercise. I'll go to Wednesday's class though. I have been doing strengthening exercises this week and that seems to be helping.

Hopefully I can get some potatoes canned tomorrow morning. I have a dentist appointment at 2 p.m., but I should be able to get a batch done before that. I have 50 pounds to can. That should be 2 full canner batches and then close to another half of one. I should have around 21 quarts when I finish.

A Lot of Pain and A Lot of Canning Coming Up

August 13th, 2016 at 09:19 am

I've been in a lot of pain this month, hence me not posting much, and it is making it really hard for me to function at full capacity. Right now both of my knees and ankles are swollen up. I have no idea why my ankles are getting in on the action. I am alternating heat and ice and taking hydrocodone and Valerian root at night. I should be taking painkillers during the day right now as well, but I've got too much to do and I also need to be able to drive.

My neck is still really bad and giving me these awful headaches. I've got one of those joys of being a woman, a yeast infection. And my back is aching over my kidneys so much that I think I might have a kidney infection, too. There are some other symptoms as well. Ugh. I don't have time to go back to the doctor next week. But I'll have to because kidney infections don't go away on their own.

Not all is bad though. I've gotten two and a half garden beds replanted and the soil is ready for one and a half more garden beds. I've put in more broccoli, kale, radishes, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard. When I pull the onions this weekend I will add the soil and then replant with carrots and turnips and maybe some more kohlrabi and radishes. I'm not going to put in anymore cabbage.

I've got enough garlic now for the year. My own braid, and then one I got from the no spray garden when I placed my order for 50 pounds of Yukon golds that I'll be getting tomorrow. I'll be canning those this week. I'll also be canning the purple potatoes I grew after I harvest them tomorrow. And I will be making some blueberry pie filling to can out of last year's blueberries, since they cannot survive another year in the freezer, and anyway, we have 15 new gallons in there (total picked was 17 gallons).

A large number of plums should be ripe tomorrow or the next day so those will need to get picked and I'll need to can some and dehydrate some. I'll also need to pick some more basil and sage for dehydrating and gather the last of the bee balm petals to dry for tea. I also need to gather the echinacea, yarrow, hyssop, and calendula for tea and comfrey for salve making. And deal with all the bundles of dried herbs that have been on the wall for a few weeks already.

I need to dice some of the onions and cut into strips some of the onions that I have pulled and have gone through the drying time and freeze them for future use. I also need to mince some for dehydrating and making onion powder. I need to dice or strip up my current batch of sweet peppers as well for the freezer and mince and dry my first red cayenne pepper and then grind that into powder. I need to make more garlic powder as well. It is going to really be a busy weekend and coming week.

As soon as DH gets home, whenever that will be, I want to go through all the meat in the freezers and pull anything that is old and thaw it and can it. If we catch it before freezer burn sets in, it can last several more years that way. Or get eaten quickly, which is more likely.

Since I'll be canning all day tomorrow I need to remember to put a roast in one crockpot and potatoes in the other one and have the zucchini cut up and all ready to go into the oven before getting started, because I never want to cook after a day spent canning. Which tends to lead to takeout and we are trying not to do that until DH gets a new job. The only time we have was on DD's 20th birthday, so I think we are doing pretty good.

Weight loss is going well. Things with my mother-in-law are improving. FIL is undergoing chemotherapy now. He is also being treated for 2 blood clots in his leg. They put him on one of the newer blood thinners.

DH still hasn't heard an offer for the company b job. They've hired about 8 to 10 of the 100 or so people they need to hire and are going very slow about it. No one's been hired for his department yet, though. They are supposed to fully take over in 2 days. I'm not sure how they can without a full staff. It's going to be crazy days up there for a while.

If they do ever offer him a position, I've gone through the budget and we can handle a $500 a month paycut further, but it will mean we won't be able to save for the house. And we can handle a $1000 a month paycut if we only pay Mom $500 a month instead of $1000 a month. That last scenario I do not want. Right now we have just under 3 years to go on that loan and I don't want to extend it any longer.

I guess if we do, I'll have to get serious about writing my book series. I have it outlined and the characters are all developed and the town is, too. I've got a couple friends that self-publish on Amazon and do well and say I should, too. Of course they are basing that off my old fanfiction and not original fiction. But if I can make anything with it, it can go into the farm down payment fund. Or into paying Mom off faster and freeing up that amount of money for good.

Well, this has rambled on enough and the painkillers are starting to take effect, so I'll wrap it up now and hope it all makes sense and my brain didn't wander off towards the end. If it did, I'll fix it in the morning. The post, not my brain.

I am So Tired of This

August 5th, 2016 at 12:47 am

DH's alternate quit. He got tired of waiting for company b to do anything and got a job elsewhere. DH's company asked DH to stay over and finish out the time his alternate would have worked so DH will get one to two weeks extra, but then it's done. Assuming they don't get any bids for piecemeal stuff accepted.

We can get September's insurance paid for in August though. I'm still not sure if that is that work will pay for it or that it is simply pre-tax dollars going for the first COBRA payment. It would be really nice if it is the first thing, but even the second thing would be very helpful.

I seems to me like company b doesn't want to pay competitive wages or the hazard part of the pay. I think that if you don't want to pay hazard pay then you shouldn't be bidding on jobs that take place in hazardous environments. They are having trouble staffing up.

But the part I don't get is that DH has heard nothing from them at all, which is really weird considering they used his name in their bid paperwork. He hasn't been approached with an offer. Even a lower wage job while he continues to look that has health insurance is better than nothing and we can cut all savings for a down payment if we have to to get by on a reduced budget. With his resume and references and 20 years experience there and 10 of it in that precise job with two different companies and a good relationship with parent company it just makes no sense. No one has been tapped for the position at all.

There was an issue earlier on when someone high up in DH's company, company a, had told company b they weren't allowed to hire anyone from company a until they'd been officially laid off, but parent company told company b that was not true and company a got yelled at for pulling it. But I still think there is something going on with that, company a using leverage against company b to hold onto its employees until the bitter end regardless of what is best for the employees. Either that or someone just doesn't like DH, but considering how ridiculously likable he is and his spotless reputation, that seems far less likely to me.

It all just makes me want to tear my hair out. Nothing seems to be going on with the company next county over. They were supposed to start the hiring process mid-July, but they haven't. No news on that front.

DH is going to try to pursue ND at this point. That would be hard because he'd have to work 4 weeks on and 2 weeks off, but at this point it would be a job that pays well. Or a job that meets our expenses without us going into debt and pays for insurance.

I hate being in this limbo. I hate it. I know it could be worse, but the stress of the last 7 months has just been building and building. I just want to be able to let it go and to feel secure in my life again.

Coin Jar to Moving Fund

August 3rd, 2016 at 04:07 am

$310.15 Starting Balance
+_46.50 Coins and Ones
------------
$356.65 New Balance

I wasn't sure I was going to make it over to the credit union to get this deposited today, but I did. I don't know how much longer I'll be able to keep adding to this or any savings.

C1-360 Interest to Moving Fund

August 2nd, 2016 at 04:58 pm

$269.82 Starting Balance
+_40.33 Interest Added
-------------
$310.15 New Balance