Monday, February 20, 2017

Loss

The phone rang very early Wednesday morning - it was B. .  Rare for him to ring the land line.  I knew the minute I heard his voice something was wrong.  My first thought was 'he wrecked his brand new (to him) car'.  But no.  Not anything as simple as that.

A good friend had died.  He'd seen it on Facebook and had very few details.  He was just stunned and shocked and sad.  It was the guy who sold him the truck he drove for a few years - the first car he ever bought on his own.  He loved that truck - and he loved his friend.  He told me that S. was one of the first friends he made in El Paso - a few guys sitting around outside with an ice chest full of beer and S. asked 'hey, you want to hang out and have a few beers with us'?  The rest is history.  There are plenty of pictures showing that group of guys having fun over the years.

B. was so sad thinking that maybe his friend had hurt himself - a not uncommon thing among military.  And shocked - just stunned.

The next day, I googled the young man's name hoping to find an obituary - and came across a news article.  S. was working on tree cleanup on Hilton Head Island and he died when he was hit by a tree part.  He was airlifted to a hospital and died the next morning.

I sent B. the link and he wrote right back and said 'I just found out and was about to message you so you would know'.  Still sad and sudden but grateful he died in the outdoors (which he loved) and working with a group - which by everything I've heard about him was his element.  He was a great all-around nice guy - always smiling; always happy - no matter what he was doing.  He will be missed by many.

We just got an emergency alert on our cell phones - shrieking like we've never heard before. Scared us both and for a few seconds, we weren't sure how to make the shrieking stop.  There's a levee break near Manteca on the Stanislaus river - not 'close' to us but still worrisome because the San Joaquin River isn't too far from the Stanislaus and the SJR is overflowing it's banks and flooding everywhere it runs in San Joaquin County (where we live).

We aren't near the flooding but we have friends who have a home on 3 acres that's built up a bit - and it's likely they are surrounded by water.  I'm checking in with them shortly.

I enjoyed a 3-day weekend off which I really needed - I feel tired to my bones.  I still have quite a bit of things to juggle at work and while I am looking forward (very much!) to our weekend in Reno, I have so much to accomplish in order to be able to get away and enjoy that weekend without fretting about work.  It's hard to believe we are almost officially in March - can't get over how quickly time goes.

It's still steadily raining and J. drained the pool quite a bit - again.  I think this is the 5th time.  This is definitely a wet winter and we are so grateful for the water.  But we're so tired of rain.

Chloe isn't feeling well.  She spent Thursday at the vet for her glucose curve - she's still really high and they upped her dose of insulin again.  She hasn't been 'right' since she got home and we're trying to figure out what's going on with her.  She's itchy and sullen and whining a lot for no reason.  Poor baby.

I'm heading up to bed soon - it's early but tomorrow is a 'Monday' technically and I want to be well rested.  It's a board meeting day so super long -


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Doing Something I Rarely Do

It's Valentine's Day and since J. and I both feel that we celebrate each other every single day, it was largely a regular day - but we did decide to get a couple nice steaks and make ourselves a nice dinner.

After a hectic day jammed full of 4 meetings - 2 on the calendar and 2 added to get things moving that needed doing - I trekked to SaveMart to procure dinner supplies.  J. is still not feeling great (I am suggesting strongly that he get in to see his regular doctor ASAP - his blood work showed some issues that may be causing or contributing to the dizziness) so it's worth checking it out again.  My sources are Google and WebMD so...a real doctor is a good idea.

SaveMart is a mystery to me.  It's been remodeled and we rarely shop there and I rarely shop ever.  I spent ten minutes walking around looking everywhere for the powdery grated Parmesan in a plastic container and croutons.  J. texted me 'on an aisle near the butcher'.  Five minutes in, I felt on the verge of tears - and when I finally found it (way, WAY far from where J. said it was but in his defense he doesn't shop at Savemart often either), I grabbed it and trekked to the registers.  Long lines all around.

A list of 10 items morphed into a lot more and $107.44 later, I came home with supplies for at least 4 dinners.  We really needed groceries - our coffer's been low for a while and with J. being unable to drive for close to a week, we were due.  I grabbed a huge box of bakery fresh heart shaped cookies with do-it-yourself piping bags full of frosting and sprinkles!  I LOVE SUGAR COOKIES - especially iced - and I couldn't resist.

We gave each of the boys $50 though H. doesn't know yet.  I sent a Facebook message to them both this morning - heard back from B. but H. doesn't check Facebook much.  And he doesn't have a phone that I know the number of so I couldn't text him.  Why does he not have a phone I know?  'cuz his iPhone is ruined and I've ordered J. to quit taking care of it.  If H. wants to get it fixed, he'll make trekking to the Apple Store his priority - which so far he hasn't.  So he's on a borrowed phone and I have no idea what the number is.  It's his 2nd borrowed phone and since I never knew the first loaner phone's number, I don't know this latest one either.

And I'm sort of fine with that.

We watched the final episode of The Young Pope and it was heartbreakingly wonderful....and traumatic....and fraught with 'what the heck?'.  There is possible a 2nd season in the works, but I just read that IF there is a 2nd season ordered, it won't film until Summer, 2018, which is an awfully long time between seasons.  Seems unlikely Jude Law will be in the role for Season 2 but I hope so.  It's a beautiful show and there's still so much we want to know about The Young Pope's journey.

It's approaching 9PM and I'm setting my alarm earlier daily to attempt to get in the office earlier - though I was up before 5AM this morning and was still technically 'late' to work.  Just get involved with 'stuff' on the computer...and admittedly, sort of drag my feet in rushing to get to another long day.

But I must and I shall.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

This Weather Stuff is Serious

Another week over and we survived still more (very) wet weather.  The homestead is saturated and J. had to drain the pool again - I think that's at least the 3rd time in the past couple weeks and the most we've ever had to drain it.

The rain was pretty steady with a couple truly amazing cloud bursts - huge, HUGE rain for a few short minutes that made the house sound like a snare drum.  

Just a little bit ago, they ordered evacuation of anyone south of the Oroville Dam.  The regular spillway is damaged and the emergency spillway (never used before) has a hole in it.  They've got helicopters attempting to place rocks in the hole as a patch but if the spillway fails, there will be no way to stop the water.  The dam is at 101% of capacity.  Scary.  As much as we need the water, it's unbelievable just how much there is - and this is well before any snow melt starts.  With record snow levels (FINALLY!), it's going to be an interesting thaw.  

There was also a train derailment near Elk Grove yesterday and (because I ventured north to Thunder Valley today), I was able to see it - cars off the tracks 'head-in' to the water - scary!  Not a passenger train and no word on injuries but there were an awful lot of trucks and people attempting to figure out what to do to fix it.  The traffic north bound this morning wasn't too bad but on the way home, it was pretty slow on 99 South for quite a ways as everyone realized what they were seeing.  

It's been a crazy work week and I needed a little break.  Yesterday, I said to J. that I might head up to TV to give hitting the six-figure Thunder Strike jackpot a try.  This morning, I realized the jackpot hit in the night and was back down to $50K - and while I should have said 'so I'm staying home', I went anyway.  I've been timing my TV visits to the jackpot size - it's a good way to monitor and limit my play and gives me something big to be in the running for.  But I went anyway today - needed a little fun.  I didn't win big but I didn't lose big either, which feels like a win.  I came home with just a little under half what I took to lose so walking away with some money left for next time is nice.  I also came home with a free rice cooker and Panda Express Chinese food for the family - comped!  And delicious!

J.'s been sick the past few days - on Thursday morning, he said he'd had a huge issue with severe nausea and dizziness in the night.  Made it back to bed after retching for awhile in the bathroom - and still felt pretty dizzy.  We went to the doctor on Friday afternoon - not our regular doctor - and this doctor didn't even look in his ears at all.  He finally heard back from our regular doctor who said it happens post cold/flu and to give it a few days.  Time and the anti-dizziness pills prescribed by the first doctor seem to be helping. 

I got myself up and out of the house two days in a row totally solo!  The horror!  I really missed him in the mornings - having that extra set of hands to press clothes, pack lunch, etc. - but was happy to give him extra rest which is what he needed.  I even managed to give Chloe her injection and that's good 'cuz I'm not nervous about doing it anymore.  She's so well trained - we need to make a You Tube video of how well she does - she's amazing.  As soon as she sees the syringe, she does a couple circles, then lies down on her back (like an otter).  We give her the shot just above her back legs and she stays perfectly still.  H. even gave her the shot one evening this past week and since he's going to be taking care of her the first weekend in March (when we fly to Reno for a four day weekend), that's a good thing.  She gets an Old Dog Diabetic cookie (well, 1/3 of one) after each shot and knowing she's getting that treat makes her anxious for the shot.  She's a champ!!

We have a special board meeting tomorrow evening and I plan to get to the office mid-day to spend some time getting a jump start on board prep for the regular meeting which is on the 21st.  And there's yet another big report due to the board in March and I need to get going on that as well.  

And before I know it, it'll be time for next year's budget development and all the school-year end stuff we do every year.  

It's just after 8 and I'm ready for sleep.  3.5+ hours on the road round trip on a traffic filled freeway with lookie lou traffic made for a long drive.  I can't wait for the days I can head to a casino 20 minutes from home and be home easily in time for lunch!  




Monday, January 30, 2017

Brownie Batter NO!

I finished my delicious dinner - chicken alfredo and two small pieces of perfectly toasted Parmesan bread and immediately started craving the brownie batter I knew is in the fridge.

I ask J. 'do we have any fruit'?  'Yes, canned'.  I said no thanks.  Then he said 'there's a banana.  Do you want a banana and a small bowl of brownie batter?'.

'I was trying to have the banana instead of the brownie batter.', I replied.

'Oh, so no chocolate dipped banana for you?'.

Damn it!

It was delicious.

I was pretty good on the eating front today - cucumbers, carrots, low-cal spinach dip with a few pita crackers and some nuts.  Eggs for breakfast.  And a teeny bit of 'candy' (Sixlets) to get me past the mid-day hump - I needed energy.

But tonight?  Not so great.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Gasp-Free Zone

In a moment of madness last night, after a productive day at work wherein I patted myself on the back for being as far along as I am while simultaneously writing a massive list of 'things still left to do', I decided I would load Turbo Tax 2016 and get going on our taxes.

I shockingly made it through the first sketch out with no gasps...J. thinks he heard a small one but I think I was just breathing.  The two raises I've had in the past few years went straight to increasing my withholding and while I'm tempted to do the same with the upcoming raise that will appear on my February paycheck, I think I'm going to actually enjoy seeing it my paycheck every month.  Our plan with that 'new' money is to increase what we send to our Schwab account every month anyway, so if I stick to that plan, the funds will be available this time next year if needed to pay the taxes.  In theory, that's how it should work.  I think at least the first few months will give us a little cushion which will be nice to have - then we'll start beefing up long term savings.

We were able to claim H. as a dependent again which helped - but eventually (please, God), he won't be dependent and I'll have to consider increasing withholding when that happens.

A new school semester started this past week for H. and while I wish I could report he spent his Friday and Saturday days off studying, he did not.  He spent them out and about.  I am irritated by that - feeling like getting off to a good start and demonstrating effort would be a better approach at this point?  But it is what it is.

I say that a lot lately.  I just read that an esteemed psychologist broke rules by sharing that he believes Trump is a malignant narcissist - it's incurable and the signs Trump has match perfectly to the symptoms of this condition.  J.'s one absurdity a day rule isn't working too well 'cuz there are just so damn many absurdities - hour by hour - hell, minute by minute.  I can't imagine why Congress isn't proceeding hastily to get this crazy person out of office - seems so clear to me - just in the first week he's been sworn in, he's acting like a mad man.

And I always say 'it is what it is' in response to whatever absurdity is being highlighted.

I feel powerless...while thinking 'we should all be out there marching or something.  DO SOMETHING to show that as Americans, we are freaked out and pissed off'....

I have a thumb drive full of files and brought some reports home so I do plan to continue doing some work here at home - nice to not have to deal with unlocking gates, de-arming alarms and (inevitably) chasing kids off our property.  Yesterday, five young boys with their Razor scooters were having a blast right outside my office - and they were pretty alarmed (rightly so) when I opened the door and said 'boys, you can't do that here.  You are trespassing since gates are locked and the campus isn't open'.  They dutifully left, climbing over the fence they tried to convince me was unlocked.  Kids.

J. is making German pancakes and turkey bacon for breakfast.  Last night, I said 'if I wake up early, I'll be sure you know so you can keep sleeping'.  I woke up at 7 but went back to sleep, thinking 'he said for me to sleep in'.  At 8:30, I got up and went out and realized his door was still closed - and opened it with a 'seriously?'.  He apparently dreamed that I came in and told him I was up.  Poor Chloe.  She was way, WAY past her point of no return and starving.

We weren't great dog parents this morning.  We will need to atone by lots of extra play time with her today...and maybe a walk.  It's cold (very) but dry so we should take advantage of that while it lasts.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Back to Reno

We've had a credit pending on Southwest for over a year - and it expires on March 8th - so we booked a weekend in Reno on 3/3 - 3/6.  We have a comped room, airfare is free thanks to the credit and most of our meals will be comped.  We think we'll rent a car so we can spend some time house hunting - we arrive before noon on Friday and leave before noon on Monday but will have all day Sunday to house hunt.  Saturday is an event that has two casino wide progressives that have to hit by 8PM so I'll spend time playing slots to keep my name in the pool of eligible people.  It will be fun to spend time with my sweet hubby and do some further exploring of the area where we're planning to live out our golden years.

My boss and his wife welcomed their 4th child - their 3rd boy - and he's taking two weeks of paternity leave.  I've been working frantically on getting the disclosures completed for the settlement while juggling a gazillion other things.  I'm working this weekend and I wish I wasn't - but I think by end of day Sunday, I'll be much closer to being 'done' - and that's good 'cuz I have a page (single space) of deadlines looming between now and the end of February and there's a lot to do.

My pants are getting super loose and I'm excited about that - while sometimes thinking 'how is this happening'?  But then I think about the things I used to do that I don't anymore...the small changes I've made but retain consistency on that apparently are making a big difference.  Examples include:

  • I went to Thai food with a friend for a rare lunch out yesterday - drank water instead of Thai iced tea(s).  I love them but they are very sugary and have heavy cream.  
  • We had Taco Bell for dinner last night - my new hair place is right next door to Taco Bell so it's a good reason to have that for dinner once every 4-5 weeks - and I skipped the apple empenada. They are super delicious and really not great for me - so I don't order them anymore.
  • Haven't had a Frappucino in forever and if I do order something besides my Splenda sweetened iced tea, I stick with the 'skinny' version of things - skinny vanilla latte with nonfat milk, sugar free vanilla syrup and no whip cream.  (Sometimes I do get whip cream but that's not too much sugar and a little fat - and fat isn't bad now and then).
  • I don't snack much.  If I do snack and have a chip craving, we have baked chips around.  Or I'll munch on some crackers or even croutons.  And I never eat out of the bag - I put what I'm eating on a plate and when it's gone, it's gone.
  • I've started parking my car further away from our building - it forces me to walk a little more and if I'm traveling between sites or heading to the county, those extra steps throughout the day appear to be adding up. 
  • I don't deny myself a treat now and then - and if I do indulge in a cookie or ice cream once in awhile, I don't beat myself up and say 'well, I've blown it so let's eat some more'.  
  • Portions are smaller and I eat what's on my plate and then wait a bit.  Almost always, I'm full and if I still feel hungry, I do the next thing on the list which almost always helps.
  • I drink water.  Lots of water.  
  • If I feel hungry, I ask myself 'are you so hungry, an apple sounds like the best thing on the planet right now'?  If the answer to that question is 'no' (usually the answer), then I'm probably not really hungry - maybe I'm bored; or irritated; or thirsty; or tired.  Almost always, it's not food I'm seeking - it's something else.
I'm excited about losing and hope I keep it up - though I'm going to have to either get pants altered or go shopping.  J. said 'wear a belt' and I could, I guess?  But most of my pants were a little on the 'baggy' side anyway - and now they are really baggy - 

I'm heading upstairs to watch my baking shows for a bit - Friday and Saturday nights are the only nights I watch TV in my room - lately, I just head upstairs and get straight into bed for sleep.  I'm sleeping much better and longer by avoiding watching TV - but if I can sleep in the next day, I will watch for a bit.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Stuck on a Plane

I've been listening to country music more and more lately and one of my current favorites is 'Drunk on a Plane'.  A guy who's wedding didn't happen getting blotto-ed on the flight to his honeymoon destination - alone.  It's amusing.

I was stuck on a plane for hours yesterday and would have appreciated being buzzed - but no drinks were offered.

I finished the day yesterday strong(er) all things considered.  Hail Mary money remain totally untouched AND I ended up with a little more to help replace some of the prior days losses.

The shuttle for the airport left at 4PM - it was snowing.  Our 5:20 departure was delayed - only we were all sitting on the plane.  First, it was too much snow - so we waited.  Then, we pushed back from the gate and waited some more.  Then there was a system issue and they couldn't restart the engines to get back to the gate - so we had to wait for a 'tow'.  But first we had to wait for the snow plow to make a path for the tow to get to us and connect.  Towed back to the gate and they brought up the jet-way.  We waited some more.  They were able to restart the system that wouldn't reset - but by then, a ton of people who were taking connecting flights out of Oakland had missed their connection - so they offered the option of 'if you have a place to stay in Reno tonight, you may want to deplane and try again tomorrow'.  A ton of people got off the plane...that took forever.  Finally, we were pushing back from the gate and then had to wait for deicing - and that took a long time 'cuz guess what?  We were now 3 hours past our departure time and we had A LOT of snow on the plane.  Ground was completely covered with snow and it was starting to fall fast again.

The de-icer was done and the next thing we knew, the captain was RUNNING down the aisle of the plane - all the way to the back and all the way back as fast as he could.  There was some concern among the passengers but he quickly exclaimed when back in the cockpit 'That's what you call a cabin check, folks - fast!'.  And we were off.  The flight was so bumpy, the Captain ordered the flight attendants to remain seated the entire flight.  I was nervous but kept thinking 'it's only 30 minutes in the air.  It's only 30 minutes of bumps'.

Made it home and then waited 40 minutes for our bags - with J. circling the airport.  We were home just after 11PM.

I decided I would keep my planned day off today 'cuz I'm tired.  And sore.  I carried my backpack with both computer and iPad a good part of the way (why are airport gates so far away?) and finally put it on my back - but standing at the baggage carousel forever really hurt my neck and shoulders.  I ended up paying $5 for a cart - and I needed it for less than 1/2 an hour but it was worth every penny to get that pack off my body.

And a sweet elderly lady was outside smoking with bags and bags of stuff and asked 'are you keeping your cart'?  and I said 'no, would you like it?  I'm glad someone else can use it for a bit longer'.  She was grateful 'cuz she would be going back in to stay warm while she waited for her ride.

Today, J. is doing our annual 'raise some cash'.  We are cash flow poor at the moment - loaned B. a deposit for his new car; need to advance H. some funds for school until his stock sale is settled; other stuff outstanding that will eventually resolve.  Cash reserves are at an all time low - so we are doing our annual retirement fund withdrawal a couple months earlier than usual.  We are taking out less than we planned with the hopes we will be able to cover taxes in April out of my retro check and/or our regular monthly savings.

I want a nap so badly but don't want to risk not sleeping tonight - would far prefer a very early bedtime this evening and a sound night's sleep vs. a nap which will likely leave me groggy and dazed.
My boss' baby is due any minute and he will be off for a couple weeks once s/he arrives.  I'm sort of grateful for his time off 'cuz it's far fewer meetings - and every minute I can spend working through the paperwork for the settlement is a blessing and less time I will be at work on the weekends.

My next time off is the cruise in March - can't wait for that.  Am a little nervous about the cruise - the close quarters with my best beloved (wherein I will sleep very little); a ship on the open ocean; will it be fun?  Relaxing?  Hope so.  It will be an experience for sure.

Happy 26th Birthday to B. today - I honestly can't believe I have a son who is officially 'approaching 30'.  He said 'I don't want to think about that'.

I didn't get married until I was close to 30 and had my first child (B!) before I turned 31 - so in my book?  He's right on schedule.

H. started another semester today and we have fingers crossed this will be a better experience than last semester.  We are going to try to do a Wednesday Night family dinner so we have a specific time to be sure we are all sitting down and talking through how it's going.  He failed (or was withdrawn by the instructor before failing) every single class last semester.  Still not quite sure what was going on with him - but he's on a different anxiety/depression medication and it seems to be helping.