Monday, January 15, 2018

Waffling

Nice to have a three day weekend just after the first week back.  It was a good week, all things considered.  I started by making a list and did a pretty good job of maintaining the list from Day 1.  Felt super productive daily which felt great.

This week will have me in the car round trip to Sacramento twice and includes an overnight stay in Sacramento as well.  I'm attending a class that is 5PM - 9PM on Thursdays and all day Fridays and (thankfully) I'm going to stay up there.  My boss is commuting but he has a one year old to help with  at home so - and/or he may stay with his brother who lives near there.  

The past few days have been reflective of the constant back and forth with H&R - who required rescuing again when their electricity was turned off.  We came up with the payment due and it was (thankfully) turned back on - but the 'stories' around why/how that shutoff happened vary and change like the wind.  I think we got a more accurate 'story' this evening when H. stopped by for (literally) 8 minutes to pickup boxes - R. had tried to charge the amount due on a credit card but it didn't go through.  

I think they have been living well over their means for a long time.  

They think they've found a house to rent and are acknowledging that the cats are going to have to be given to friends.  I strongly urged him to have the kids start looking for friends to take them both - because we have decided we don't want them here.  I just can't handle felines.  I love them - don't get me wrong.  Love, love cats.  They are often snuggly and sweet and purring is very comforting.  They are also sneaky, love to use our wood stair posts as scratching posts and at some point, will likely decide to pee everywhere but their litter box.  I speak from experience.  So no.  We won't do cats.

H. is bringing the paperwork over tomorrow for the rental - they've submitted an application.  They need us to co-sign and I feel a lot of trepidation about that.  Signing a long-term lease is scary when we're the party that will be responsible financially - and these 'kids' don't have the best track record.  I'm going to insist that we won't co-sign until we've sat down together, pencil and paper and sketched out their monthly budget.  R. is (please, God, let this work out) starting a part time job she can do at home, assisting a long-time family friend as an admin assistant.  He owns a construction company and can use help with paperwork, scheduling, etc. .  Once the Mariner is in her name, she can start driving for Lyft again as well.  I think having two incomes is imperative to this working out 'cuz there's no way H.'s salary is going to be enough on it's own.

I wrestle with thinking the world of him for taking on 'a wife and two kids' and doing his best to support them financially - and wanting to slap some sense into him.  But people do a lot in the name of love so....I try to bite my tongue. 

I'm not good at biting my tongue - which I demonstrated earlier today on the phone with B..  He shared that 'I've given up drinking'.  He paused - probably waiting for me to cheer! - and then said 'for two months.  I'm stopping for two months'.  I said 'oh, so just for a couple months'.  I DID stop myself from saying 'so you're not really stopping so much as taking a break'.  But he was pissed that I said 'only a couple months'.  The silence told the story.  

He's bored - because he can't go to bars with friends and they do that a lot, I guess?  He said 'I know myself and if I go to a bar, I will have a drink'.  So better that he stays away.  But a four day weekend closed up in his room - even with a nice TV and plenty of video games to play - he sounded 'down'.  
I'm glad he's taking a break from drinking and I'm hoping that if/when he starts again, he'll try for more moderation.  

Chicken avocado burgers for dinner - yummy!  We're using our Hello Fresh recipes to create meals for a few weeks - we'll see how we do.  We can always start the orders back up again easily but we have plenty of food on hand and should eat what we have.  

We're approaching being just 60 days away from our Disneyworld trip which means we can start making dinner reservations and get our fast passes set up for each day.  It will be a whirlwind trip and as first timers, it feels overwhelming.  I've been to Disneyworld and Epcot but it was 21 years ago and I was only in the parks for a day...and what I remember most about that day is how much I missed my husband and my kids.  Super glad J. will be with me this time!

We've also set all of our cruise excursions and have one port where we're just going to see what we feel like doing that morning - no booked excursion.  We may get off the ship and head into the port and just explore on our own, being careful not too venture too far from the port and most definitely not getting in a vehicle for any 'excursion' that takes us away from where the ship is docked nearby. The change in itinerary necessitated by the hurricanes left us with one less sea day so I just might stay on the ship that day and just relax.  Sit on the balcony, read, nap, go to the pool or spa.  There's zillions of things to do - this ship is far larger than The Jewel we cruised on last year so there's going to be plenty to explore and do.  

I need to start getting ready for tomorrow - a super early alarm and a long drive North in what will likely be fog.  It's been overcast, cold and foggy here for a few days and looks like more of that this week.  Fingers crossed the weather lightens up by February 10th 'cuz I'm booked for two nights at The Atlantis and I really (emphasis on REALLY) want to go - 



Sunday, January 07, 2018

Vino

Here's hoping that the key to a decent night's sleep before the first day of work in 19 days is a couple of glasses of really good wine consumed over a really nice dinner with our youngest son and his girlfriend.

We love them both very much -

Sleep and work beckon.  Back to 'nose to the grindstone' - but it's a job I'm good at and grateful for - and there's a lot to be said for steady, well-paid employment.

2018 is going to be a good year.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Making Up for Silence

Even J. got caught up on the blog and commented 'you're writing again!'.

Enjoying my morning coffee out of my Royal Botanical Gardens coffee cup and feeling very refined and regal-like this morning.  In my dachshund pajamas -

Chloe didn't eat vigorously this morning and I always worry about her when her food lingers in the bowl.  Usually, she's begging the minute we come downstairs and inhales it so quickly we sometimes aren't sure we've fed her.  But she finally came out of her burrow bed, did her downward and upward facing dog yoga stretches and with a waggly tail, went into the family room and ate.

As long as she's moving with a waggly, happy tail, I know she's OK.  She's just having a slow morning and I understand completely.  Some mornings, you just want to linger.

J. and I sketched out our finances and are making the withdrawals needed to fund what needs funding.  We're pleased as punch that we more than made up (in gain) what we took out in 2017 and hope to do the same this year.  I will feel much better that have things paid for in full and have the funds we'll need for taxes, etc. .  We're going to try it with two car payments for the next few months and see how it goes but agree that if we need to, we will arrange to pay off J.'s car.  I'm pretty sure we'll be OK but appreciate not having to stress about it if two payments are needed.  Luckily, one is in the first part of the month and the 2nd is in the middle of the month - so cash flow wise, that helps.

I LOVE MY NEW CAR!  Super excited and can't wait for a road trip to Reno - hopefully in early February!

We moved the October, 2018, Panama Canal cruise to March, 2019 - which feels like a long way off but will be here in the blink of an eye.  Doing that not only helps out with the budget but also frees up some vacation time for me and that feels like a weight lifted.  If I feel like a day off, I can totally take one and that will see me through Spring.  And the annual torture known as building a budget for the next fiscal year.

I have communicated with all my siblings in the last couple weeks and feel good about that - maybe 2018 is a year of new beginnings for all of us.  Here's hoping.  I'm pretty realistic about contact but I'm getting older and I feel compelled to try.  So we'll see how that goes.

I also got a surprise call from my Aunt a week or so ago - it was great to talk to her and catch up.  We need to figure out how to see each other - me going there or her coming here.  She lives in Massachusetts - and near enough to Boston for me to drive there.  We have a friend who is a pastor at a church in Boston and I'd love to get there as well to hear her preach one day. 

Cold and cloudy today - maybe rain!  We need it - very dry winter so far and we need the water to get us through.  Here's hoping it pours in January and February.  Except the weekend I want to get to Reno in February. 

Time to get clothes on and get busy.  Hoping the neighbors recycling bin isn't too full so we can add some stuff.  J.'s new TV resulted in a HUGE box to cut down and recycle.  And we still have a lot of stuff set aside that didn't fit in our bin like Christmas wrapping remnants and old plastic bins that are past their prime.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Merged and Unmerged

Our email addresses use a .[>>>] suffix that really dates us.  It's a company that hasn't existed (technically) for decades.  For a long time, the 'parent company's' email and any Yahoo email addresses were allowed to coexist.  Emails to either were in the same email box and readily accessible on the Yahoo website.

Until recently.  I noticed there were some odd things popping up now and then but paid no attention - until yesterday when I realized that all of my email folders - categorized by topic and containing emails spanning decades of time - were gone.  I tried to convince myself it was 'no big deal' if they disappeared - until last night, in the middle of the night, I realized that all of our tax files were in those folders as well - the confirmations that the e-filing worked.  Year by year by 4 people.  Gone.  Poof.  We tried to get to the old folders last night and it didn't go well.  I went to bed frustrated - which is probably why I ruminated about it and then panicked all over again when I realized we'd lost the confirmation from the IRS and the State about multiple years of returns.

Thankfully, J. was able to help me this afternoon - the secret was signing on to Yahoo from a browser I never use - so it wouldn't 'remember me' and keep taking me to the 'new' email box.  All current emails are received in this new box.  Using a new browser and logging in to Yahoo 'found' all my private folders and other emails.  Yay!  I hope to sleep better tonight.

We bid farewell to B. this morning and it's amazing to witness that he gets himself up and moving all on his own.  He was downstairs, relatively ready to go on time until he decided he needed a chai tea for the road.  It's always hard to tell him goodbye but we had a wonderful three weeks and I'm grateful for the time.  All in all, he's very pleasant to spend time with.  He had a good amount of fun with friends and spent a lot of quality time with us - it was lovely.

Missing him - but it is nice to have the house to ourselves again.

J. spent part of the afternoon finishing up putting away Christmas and then we tried to get my new car's garage door opener synced up with the two garage doors.  Actually, we only tried one and couldn't get it to work so...we gave up and will try again tomorrow.  I can park in the garage again!!

I (finally) heard back from my boss who confirmed my plans to be off this Th & Friday so yay!  I will pop in to the office briefly tomorrow and trek to our COE briefly as well - but I will be off.  I should work/could work.  Plenty to do.  But I'm psyching myself up to just enjoy the rest of the week off and then hit it hard and fast and furious next week - including putting in some weekend time if needed here and there.

There's a job up in Placer County Office of Ed that closes this Friday and it's tempting.  We would move up to Roseville area and be 1.5 hours closer to Reno - I am still thinking about it but....the inertia required to move is what stops me.  I would need to rent a room somewhere until we found a house, sold this one and moved.  A lot of moving parts.  And it seems a bit unwise to buy again when we know where we want to land permanently is Reno.  A house in between Reno and here doesn't seem like a good financial move.

There's a job at our COE open (in Stockton) as well - but the $36K pay difference keeps stopping me.  As convenient as staying in this County (and house) is, I just can't deal with that much of a pay cut.  Hard to feel motivated to take a different job that results in adding a commute and bringing home considerably less than I do now.  Feels like I'd be going backward and I can't do that.

Especially not with a new car in the garage.

Cloudy and cold today and weather is approaching over the next couple days.  I am tempted to take a quick road trip to Reno - just for the day, most likely - but will have to wait and see how the weather looks.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Perfect Example

I wrote a bit yesterday about how the lack of communication between us and H. & R. is problematic and troublesome.  We'd reached out a few times since Christmas to each of them and no response.  Was heading down the hill in my psyche of feeling like my limit is reached....and I'd be done.  (I don't really know what 'done' would look like most of the time - he is our son, after all - but I feel done a lot lately, at least on the inside).

But it turns out that the reason they have not been communicating - besides the fact that H. now has a job and that keeps him pretty busy - is that R. has been very, very sick the past few days.  So sick that she spent last night in the hospital!  She came home today and is doing better - and will try to come over tomorrow if they can.  J. picked up H. on his way back from dropping off our last 2017 donations and he and B. were FINALLY able to go to the shooting range for some fun.  Then we drove the Mariner to Manteca - H. and I in the Rav and J. piloting the car for them. 

That small example of the highs and lows and all the in betweens is why writing isn't really 'easy' these days.  A lot of stuff could be spewed (by me) and then it turns out there's a somewhat logical reason for it all. 

They do want the Mariner and for now, we are letting them borrow it for a couple weeks.  Pending setting an appointment at DMV in January for us to go there and get the paperwork done to sell it to her with her as the registered owner and us holding a lien on the vehicle.  We're making them the deal of a lifetime in terms of rate - 0% interest for as long as they need to buy it - and an agreement that in the event they are able to get a different car before the loan is paid off, we will buy the car back from them for whatever is still owed and they can move on.  I told H. 'so in the event you don't want to keep it long enough to pay off the loan (because at $100 a month [for example], it will take awhile to pay it off), you will have essentially rented a car for $100 a month - which is way better than the $30+ a day you've been paying for a rental car, right?'.  I just wanted to acknowledge that yes, it will be a long loan term and maybe you won't want/need that car for that long.  But you'll at least have reliable transport for as long as it runs.  (It's in outstanding condition and has been impeccably maintained - so it will last another 100K miles, most likely).

They are also talking about selling some furniture R. inherited from her grandmother and they will be able to sell her current car - and hopefully use some of those funds to make a big dent in the Mariner loan, which will shorten the term considerably. 

I'm already feeling super tired this evening - I've been having stomach issues myself (though thankfully, I'm able to stay hydrated.)  I feel hungry but as soon as I eat, all hell breaks loose.  I'm in pain - not cramps, just pain - like something is inflamed.  I have been ingesting cows milk products over the break more than usual so....that's likely some of the cause. 

I'm so grateful to have another week off - really wonderful and it's been a nice, long break. 

B. leaves on Tuesday morning.  We had a nice breakfast at Perko's on Saturday morning and he confessed that he's thinking he's ready to take a vacation somewhere completely different.  He mentioned maybe a 'sky diving' vacation of some kind.  He's around the same age I was when I took my first 'all by myself and not just visiting family' vacation so it's time.  But we'll sure miss him and were super glad to have him home for Christmas. 

I am entering 2018 with a commitment to assuming the best of people.  Always.  Even when it's very, very hard to do so - it is always the right thing.  And that includes assuming the best of myself.  Fixing situations that need fixing and moving forward - no matter what.  Forward, after all, is the only way to go. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Farewell, 2017

Last day of the month, last day of the year.

What a year it's been.

I think I'm not writing as much these days because things feel complex - and hard to put into words.  And words, once on the page and out there, are not able to be undone.

I could write a book (maybe a couple) about things with H. and R. - but I don't and won't.  It's complex.  We've done as much as we can to help and are in the process of doing more - but no matter what we do, the silence and lack of responsiveness continues to baffle us.  It's rude.  It's inexplicable.  It's baffling and sad and hard.

J.and I trekked to Modesto Toyota on Wednesday and bought me a Rav4 Hybrid AWD!  It's awesome!  Love it - drove it to Jackson on Thursday and it's got a lot of get up and go!!  It's loaded with all the features and drives like a dream.

The plan is to sell the Mariner to R. - but so far, though H. says she plans to - she's done nothing to make it happen.  Her CRV is falling apart - it's in the shop practically every week and she's paying for a rental more often than not to ensure she has a way to get the kids to/from Tracy for school.  Their budget is super tight and they can't keep paying out a ton of money to rent another car. 

It's possible she's making arrangements to sell her china hutch (in our garage) and use that for a good down on the Mariner but so far, we really don't have a lot of info or confirmation.  Just like the Focus (which we finally sold for way less than we paid for it not that long ago - the accident that wasn't quite enough to get it totaled really limited the number of people interested, even though it had been repaired by a certified repair shop), the Mariner will be kept here for another month or so and then?  If it's not purchased by her, we will sell it.  We're not going to hang on to a 3rd car forever.

On a super happy note, H. got a job at a warehouse in Manteca - within walking (or skateboarding or biking) distance of their apartment.  He's working ten hours days and is 'sore' - but it's work he likes and is good at.  He's pulling orders using all kinds of equipment - cherry picker lifts, forklifts, other warehouse equipment.  At the orientation, he was the only one there who knew how to drive every single type of equipment they use and they called him in that weekend to get certified by their company trainer on all the equipment!  He's worked two full days so far and should be back to a 40 hour a week schedule next week.  It's decent money and he's stoked. 

I was supposed to work Th & Fri of this coming week - but thanks to the IRS changing the ACA reporting deadlines, I don't have to!!  I am super, duper excited about being off another full week.  J. has (bless that man) let me sleep in every single day and getting up at 8:30 has been awesome!

J. made a last trip to a hospice thrift shop in Stockton to donate the last of our 2017 stuff.  The recycle bin is full to the brim and the trash can is approaching that point, too - for the 2nd week in a row.  We're tossing and donating and continuing to pare down what we have to only what we need.  It's a long process but we're getting there.

We're counting down to our cruise and Disneyworld trip in March - and have decided to postpone the Panama Canal cruise we have scheduled for October.  It's a pretty expensive trip - too long of a trip to use a cruise coupon discount - and it requires me saving every single hour of vacation for that trip.  No available days off for seven months sounds like prison - and I just can't do it.  I thought I could but it's been really hard to think 'I need a day off' and realize I can't take one or I won't have enough time for both cruises.  Nice problem to have, I know.  But...it will help to postpone that big trip for March, 2019 - so that is our current plan.  We'll also definitely be spending a week in Reno this summer as soon as the annual budget torture is over at work.

Work.  It's work lately.  Work to hold it all together.  Work to go and keep going.  Work to try to figure out options when the state is crippling schools.  New money?  None.  Every spare penny is going to pay the increasing obligations for retirement plans for all staff and I'm irritated about that because it's the state's fault we're in this mess.  Long ago, when the plans were doing really well, the state stopped having district's contribute - and now the obligation is larger than the revenue needed to fund them - so all the 'new' money that's come in post 'The Great Recession' is going towards increases in employee benefits.  It's a mess - and it's hard to be eleven years in a job where it's been one stress-filled thing after another.

It will all work out but I'm even thinking of starting to send applications to jobs in Reno just to see.

I'm hoping 2018 will bring some good changes.  I've had lots of time to contemplate things over the break and the overwhelming theme is confirming over and over how blessed I/we are.  Even with the H. & R. drama, we are still very blessed and quite content.

But I'm ready for 'what's next' in our life.  I'm ready to make a home somewhere else and start fresh as retirees.  Even if one of us (me) will have to work a bit longer.  I'm ready to work.  But I'm ready for a change.

We'll see.

Happy 2018 to all and have a safe and sane New Year celebration!

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Hello, December

I just posted a draft that was from a couple weeks back - proof (such as it is) that I was writing in the month of November - just not necessarily finalizing.  There was a hysterical story to go with the last post about our two new schools but I decided to not post it - it's still a small community and you never know who may actually be reading this blog.  A farmer decided to plow a field and....well...it's created some issues for us on the new school front.  But it will all be sorted eventually.

Thanksgiving was fun and lovely - H. & R. joined us for dinner.  It worked out fine 'cuz my timeline is always a bit off and while we didn't eat quite as early as we'd envisioned, it wasn't horribly off schedule.  It was a nice time.

Last night, I met 'the grandkids' for the first time - we dined together at Sizzler in Manteca and miraculously, we were pretty on time.  The kids are both very sweet - polite and fun.  I have that 'falling in love' feeling which is lovely.  We had good conversation and a pleasant time was had by all.  Great way to end a very busy week.  I'm looking forward to spoiling them rotten for Christmas.

J. spent most of the week moving his brother down to Camarillo.  He drove 'home' early yesterday, stopped here briefly, then went to Oakland to drop off the paratransit van they rented, then stopped in Livermore to pick up our Chloe then home.  I had a jammed calendar this week including some evening meetings that made it problematic to have her 'home alone' - so she went to the puppy spa.  When J. picked her up yesterday, she was entranced with a little kitten that had just arrived.  (The kennel ladies foster orphaned kittens and two new arrivals made for a fun day).  D. (kennel lady) said that Chloe and the kitten had been playing most of the day - and Chloe was still so mesmerized that she didn't notice J. had arrived to bring her home.  Chloe has always been really great with cats.  She knows to sit quietly and patiently - never barks or gets 'crazy' - so cats just hang around her.  I'm sure Snow and Klink were thinking 'we did a great job training that dog'.  They really did.

I'm getting close to forcing myself to head to work for awhile - it's a board prep week and I have a lot of things to do this week along with a lot of meetings.  Trying to put in extra time on weekends to avoid super long days this week.  Only 12 more work days until the winter break and they will fly by.

This morning, as we were sitting in the study having our morning coffee, a red headed small bird flitted about the windows.  Trying to get inside - a move he repeated several times.  J. went outside and watched him do the same thing at the neighbors window - maybe a 'pet' at some point or just a super smart bird who thinks 'it's got to be warmer in there than it is out here'.  Which is true.

B. will arrive home for Christmas in two weeks!!  Super excited about having him home.

Alright - enough procrastination.  I need to get dressed and get moving.  I dread showering.  It's cold.

Waffling

Nice to have a three day weekend just after the first week back.  It was a good week, all things considered.  I started by making a list and...