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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Saturday shortie

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I’m off on yarny adventures with knitting pals in a bit–no plans to buy anything other than my lunch, but I’ve been isolating a little this week and some human contact will do me good. I suspect there’ll be a giggle or two somewhere, and that’ll help, too.

Make it a good day, all!

Freeplay Friday

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What say we get some positive mojo going? There’s a lot of great stuff outside my window–how ’bout yours?

When free isn’t such a great thing

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I was out for a little drive yesterday when I spied a pile of old red bricks someone had dumped–maybe three or four dozen of them. Weathered old bricks. Cool weathered old bricks.  Vintage brickage. I immediately thought of snagging them to use to outline my mom’s flower beds, so I stopped and loaded them up, chortling over my find as I drove off.

About halfway home with my load of free goodies, I started thinking. I know, that’s dangerous, but there I was, thinking. About how my mom broke her hip a few years ago and how she’s not quite so steady on her feet anymore and how she’s 86 and on the fragile side and how those bricks might be a trip hazard. I even thought about what might happen if she fell and broke the other hip and, more specifically, about who’d be caring for her if that happened. Selfish, I know, but one does think of these things.

Sigh.

So now I have  a trunk full of bricks and I’m not sure what to do with them. My stupid moral code tells me it would be wrong to take them back to the dump site and re-dump them. My experience with Freecycle tells me no one will come and get them if I posted them on the site. I don’t know anyone else who needs old red bricks, not unless you do, in which case, come and get ’em. I’ll give you a really good deal on them.

Sometimes free isn’t so great.

Lyrical Wednesday

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So after that little meltdown yesterday, I needed some solace. I took a walk in the woods, and, not surprisingly, it soothed and calmed me, cleared my head and my heart a little, and I felt a whole lot better afterwards. This poem by Frost captures some of that feeling, as well as stays me in the happy moments.

A Prayer in Spring

by Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

 

A mean cosmic joke

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You know how you’re going along and you think things are pretty good and you’re maybe even a little happy, and then BAM! some great cosmic joker delivers a punchline that knocks you flat?

I was doing the rounds on Facebook before heading off to bed last night and there was this photo. The person who posted this photo never posts. Hardly ever never, if you know what I mean, but he posted last night, a nice picture of his fiancee alongside a nice little stream with a nice little fishing pole, in a nice little place where Mr. F just happens to live and work.  Ouch. I mean, really, OUCH.

I can’t seem to get much of a break here. If I’m not reliving a trip we took together or a bit of silliness or some sacred moment shared with him when some unbidden memory comes to me, then some phrase we used all the time pops into my head and won’t leave, or something else will trip and trigger another tiny bullet to my heart. Damn. Just damn.

A couple nights ago I don’t even know what it was but there I was, in tears again. I’m not a crier, but I’ve shed enough to fill that nice little stream and then some these past few months.

So is this ever going to ease?

A friend asked me if this–this inability to truly get on with it, without him, this damn neverending hurt, the way I just can’t stop loving that man even though it would be better for me if I did or could or would–is something I’m making up, some romantic fantasy, a romance novel echo of the woman who stays true no matter what. It’s a perfectly valid question and one that I’ve asked myself more than once.

The answer, inevitably, is no.

She used the word “unhealthy” to describe my state, not in that I’m depressed–I’m not, at least not in my experience (been there, in case you’re wondering, and this is nothing like that hell. It’s a completely different hell. Nicer digs, but still hell), or in that I’m deliberately creating falsehoods about the state of the relationship–it’s over, his choice, not mine, goddamnit, but it’s over. I get that and I hate it and I hate even more that I do that stupid girl thing of trying to contact him. To what end, I wonder? Which brings me back to the question my friend asked and still the answer is “no.” The relationship wasn’t perfect, but whose is? There were problems and faults and stupid dumbass things we both said and did , and didn’t say or do, that contributed to the end of what could have and should have been something that made other people look on us with envy. But yes, over by his choice.  I get that.

See? Unhealthy. I can’t quite get past losing him, and us, and all the promise that was there.  It’s always, always there. He’s always there, lodged in a place in my heart and mind and soul that I can’t get to–only he can.

I have been in love before. But this is unlike anything before, when after a time it just wasn’t there anymore, the love I’d once felt. Sometimes I wake up now and think “well, shit, I still love him.” And that’s what I do. I wake up and I love him. I move through my day and I love him. I go to sleep and I love him. I wake in the night and I love him. It is my occupation. It is my profession. It is what I do, and I don’t know how to stop it. I only know that this thing I feel and do and live every day of my life, that is as much a part of me as my blue eyes and my freckles and that little dimple at the side of my mouth–this is the real thing, and it won’t go away.

And that may be the biggest mean cosmic joke of all.

Later: Gah, what a whiner. If nothing else, I know what love is now, and that’s not really something to be complaining about. All of this is still true, but it’s only part of the picture. My life is pretty good, even if there is a hole in it.

Money Monday

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So I’m coming to the end of my six-month promo package for internet service and was less than giddy at the prospect of paying 15 to 20 dollars more per month for continued service. I’ve been really pleased with my service provider and didn’t want to switch providers unless that meant a substantial savings on service.

I was looking online at my options for lowering my bill and had an online chat with a rep, who suggested I call the “loyalty department” at CenturyLink, my provider, to see about a cheaper bill. Who knew there was a loyalty department? I called the number I was given, which took me to the repairs department in Phoenix (and it makes so much sense for me in Iowa to call a nice lady in Phoenix for a repair job), but she quickly transferred me to the correct department. I was on holds hell for a while–no muzak, but plenty of encouragement to bundle my packages (because that would be a dream come true), but in less than five minutes with an actual live person named Laurie, I got a nice 50% discount on continued service for the next 12 months. It was worth the call and the wait.

Remember my switch from a contract phone plan to pre-paid? It’s been a month since I switched over and I’ve saved about $35.00 this month. Just a couple of fairly easy changes and now my phone and internet will be about what I was paying for phone service alone. Yay!

Cash expenditures have been down this month, thanks to continued tracking of my spending as well as more careful choices on what is worthy of my money. I’ve trimmed back enough that I should be able to get through at least half part of April with the remainder of my cash allowance from March, and, unless something unusual happens, as it did this month, my credit card bill should also be substantially lower.

The best part? I’m still not missing much of anything, and I think I may even be a little more content with less. I’m sure happy with seeing the savings.

It’s Mandatory Family Fun day!

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Help me.

Much later: So it wasn’t as grim as I’d anticipated–that’s always a bonus. I give it a C -/D + on the organization side of things, however, despite everyone having been assigned tasks. I think three of us did what we were spozed to do, and “the men,” who were to clean up, did a swell job of sitting there while “the girls” did all that work.

I’m still puzzling over the necessity of name tags at a family gathering. It was not a huge crowd and we’ve all known each other all our lives . . .

 

Ten things

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Ten things that are making me happy:

1. My goofy cat.

2. Criminal Minds. I’m kind of weird that way.

3. Robins!

4. Dandelions!

5. Coffee, the elixir of life.

6. Going barefoot more often than not during the day.

7. Socks. It’s cool in the morning and at night and my feet have been getting cold. I do wonder, though, just how many pairs of white socks one girl really needs.

8.  Free stuff. Yesterday it was a Route 44 from Sonic. It was epic.

9.  All of my knitting projects neatly contained in one basket.

10.  Sunshine at last, after several cloudy days.

How about you? What’s making you happy?

P.S. If you’re wanting to spruce up your computer’s wallpaper a bit, head on over here. I love these simple yet bold designs, and if you’re wondering, I chose the dandelions.

Freeplay Friday

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I’ve been marathoning through the first season of Criminal Minds this week and now I’m ready for a little light and a couple of giggles.

P.S. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries. Just sayin.

Thrifty Thursday

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Cash-wise, it’s been a downright cheap week here–I’ve spent just a hair under three dollars. Believe it or not, that’s not my record, but it’s not bad, either. Bill-wise, it’s been a painful week, with a huge credit card bill (two car repairs, a visit to the vet, switching my phone plan, gas went up 20 cents in March), but that bill has been paid in full, as have the other ones, because–say it with me–debt is the devil.

Although I’ve lived close to the bone for some time now, it keeps surprising me that it’s possible to continue shaving away at my spending and still live what is overall a pretty good, full life. I can’t think of a thing I really miss (I miss the many good experiences I enjoyed not so long ago, which are not things, and I miss having them with the best damn companion ever, and I’m allowed to miss both for as long as I damn well please), which either means I’ve fully embraced simplicity or I’m just kind of sad and pathetic. I’d rather think I’ve taken the simplicity route.

Here are some ways I’ve cut back my spending:

1. Identified what’s important to me. Aside from the basics–food, clothing, etc.–what matters to me are good people and good experiences. This means I do say “yes” to going out to lunch or going on a little road trip or potlucking a few times a month. Yes, it’s spendy sometimes, but being alone is far more costly in ways that have nothing to do with money. Spend where it matters, but spend it wisely.

2. Said “no” when the impulsive, compulsive consumer in me wants a toy. For example,  I used to have a serious magazine fetish. I subscribed to several and would buy others off the newsstand, but I’d flip through them once and then be burdened by the stacks of magazines I had sitting around. Now, I go to the bookstore once or twice a month, get a cup of coffee ($1.66 for a tall at my local store, which is pretty cheap for an afternoon’s entertainment), and read mags to my little heart’s content. Also, whenever I’m at the library, I stop by the magazine exchange and paw through them. It’s great fun and sometimes I come home with a treasure or two, then take them back when I’m done.

3. What are the three most exciting sounds in the world (a prize to the first reader who identifies the movie source of that quote)? Sale, cheap, and free!

Sale: I buy stuff on sale. I’m not saying you should stockpile except for toilet paper (I get a little nervous if I’m down to the last package) and enough food for a week or so, just in case, but I hold out for a sale on things I need or want. I check out the day-old rack, the dented cans cart, and the marked-down meat at the grocery store. You can save quite a bit if you’re willing to hunt out the bargains. Some people coupon; I think it’s a pain in the butt and not worth my time. You can save a lot, however, by using coupons, if you’re willing to invest the time.

Cheap: I shop thrift stores. They are not all full of nasty smelly junk no one else wants. I’ve seen many brand names, and sometimes still-with-the-tags-on items, at my Goodwill. Clothes will wash, as will bedding and towels and dishes, so get over your fear of cooties, except in shoes. I would be in dire straits before I’d buy used shoes. I’ve known people who’ve gotten good deals off of Craigslist and other buy, sell, and trade sites. Again, I think it’s a pain in the butt, but do what works for you.

Free: If someone wants to give you something you can use, say thank you and mean it and then use the hell out of it. I have a friend who’s passed along a lot of clothes to me over the years and I’m grateful for her generosity and also sometimes better clothed because of her. I do have a fault when it comes to clothing, and that’s to wear things to shabby and beyond, but I really really hate clothes shopping, as well as spending money on clothes. Same for shoes. I don’t get the shoe obsession. You have two feet; how many pairs of shoes do you really require?

My computer was given to me. It may be on the  old and kind of slow side of the spectrum now, but it was free, and again, I’m grateful for it. When I started having problems with the keyboard, I asked one of my brothers–the one who’d be most likely to–if he had a plug-and-play keyboard I could borrow for a while. He did, and he didn’t let me borrow it–he gave it to me.

I’ve shamelessly asked some of my knitting pals for their cast-off (get it?) yarn and received some. I’ve given some of mine away, too. Books and magazines have changed hands, as well, whether given for keeps or loaned, among my knitting pals. Share your wealth and others will share with you.

4. I’m using what I have. I’m knitting out of my stash this year, for example, because I have a lot of yarn, I’m a slow knitter anyway, and I really, really don’t need more yarn. I’ve been in four or five yarn shops in the last couple of weeks and I’ve petted a lot of yarn (it’s a knitter thing), but didn’t see a thing I needed or even wanted all that much.

That old wisdom from many years ago, when there was real deprivation, is still applicable and wise: use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. We are so pampered and spoiled and, yes–I’m going to say it–privileged that many of us in the U.S. don’t know our needs from our wants. We are virtual children when it comes to spending. Just look at how many people have overspent themselves into massive debt if you think otherwise. Set limits and stick to them. Buy what you need; use what you have; save for what you want. You’ll feel all grown up.

5. I save my pennies. I squeeze nickels ’til the buffalo poops. I have a penny jug and another bank for the silver coin. I have some money in the bank, where I’m earning just about nothing in interest but it’s relatively safe there. I have some safely stashed away elsewhere. Cash is a great comfort to me, and I’m never without it. I only wish I could transfer some of the discipline I have with money to other areas of my life. Maybe someday.

And that’s me on my (thrifted) soapbox for today. Make it a good one.