Friday, February 23, 2018

Still Spending...

I certainly made the right decision to travel less this year - the money saved is going to lots of other things like two pairs of glasses (received today!), vet bill, federal/provincial gov'ts in the form of more taxes because I just haven't paid ENOUGH!, Petsmart, ancestry.ca renewal, Amazon Prime renewal, Red Cross monthly donation etc etc BUT on the bright side my brother and I booked our flights yesterday to Glasgow hip hip hoorah!! It's official now - we leave on Sept. 12 and return Oct. 4th.
We were able to get non-stop over night flights and will take a train to Stirling where we will have a rental car waiting for us. Having a car will give us access to a wider range of accommodations as we can stay out in the country instead of just in city centres. I've been looking at air bnbs, bnbs, guest houses and the like and they are expensive and getting all booked up already! Out in more rural areas the going rates are somewhat lower.

That's the good news...

The other good news is that Lily is all better and back to racing around the house like a demon cat.
Well, not in this photo obviously - you can't let the sunshine go to waste!!

Then Kazi came down with the flu and I spent a week nursing her back to health and I didn't catch it from her thank goodness. The flu around here has been sooooo bad this year so we took it pretty seriously. Since she already had the flu she couldn't get the flu shot but we had to get this other Tamiflu medication (pill form) which was supposed to help with symptoms and reduce the length of time she would be sick. Since the flu shot was based on last year's virus it really wouldn't have helped her anyway but with the other meds she was only sick from Sunday to Thursday, went back to work half days on Friday and Saturday. Then Monday was Family Day so she had Sunday and Monday for further resting.

Between the -25c to -30c temperatures and major snow storms in January and illnesses in February I'd say 2018 hasn't got off to the greatest start. The really BIG NEWS right now is that the Thames River has flooded its banks here in London as we had steady rain for 60 hours straight and the mild temperatures caused all the snow to melt. Kilally Meadows where I go to walk is completely submerged.

This is a photo taken from a police drone video. You can see police cars blocking access to the Kilally Meadows parking lot which is way down to the right. The large building to the left of the police cars is The Waltzing Weasel pub where I stop for a cold one after a long summer hike. Beyond the other grey building, dead centre, is where the mini-golf course is and the driving range just beyond the trees. On the far right of the photo is where the baseball diamonds are and where I watch the ospreys. Beyond the top edge of the photo is where the forests, meadows and trails are. I won't be walking in there any time soon!

The photo below shows Gibbons Park where I ride my bike in the summer. 

We usually have a little bit of flooding in the spring but I've never seen it like this before and I've lived here since 1981. Scary stuff. Yesterday we had a bright sunny day but we've had more rain today and more is in the forecast. I can't wait for a stretch of nice weather! I could be waiting for awhile yet!

What's the BIG NEWS in your area??

Monday, February 12, 2018

Weekend Woes

Okay, I'm overdue for some good news! Yesterday was a truly forgettable day as I was having tummy troubles, head troubles and other troubles you don't need to know about - bleccch! Today I feel much better, not ALL better but definitely improving. Too short-lived to be the flu but whatever it was I'm glad it's on its way elsewhere! I spent the day staggering back and forth between the laundry room and the couch. Couldn't watch anything due to pounding headache so listened to an audio book on my iPad. I had a couple bowls of soup and some sorbet.


Yes, I ate sugar and not the good natural kind.  I was craving something cold and sorbet (lime) was all there was.  I had sugar, glucose and confectioners sugar along with other unnatural ingredients too numerous to mention.  And now I'm feeling quite a bit better....ironic...no?

Other than the sorbet I've managed to eat 95% natural sugars only for about a month now. I say 95% as I assume there is sugar in the one beer I drink a week along with the odd glass of wine. I'm sure there is also sugar in a few items that I buy like pasta sauce(6grams per serving) and soy milk (only 1gram per serving). My main condiment is Franks Hot Sauce and it contains no sugar. When I feel a craving (about once a week) I will eat a dried apricot or two - all dried fruit is pretty high in sugar (natural sugars - fructose and glucose) so I have stopped putting dried raisins, cranberries and currants in my morning oatmeal. For now. A small amount is ok but very easy to overeat.

My daughter just came in sick as a dog. Now she is under the blanket on the couch. I'm trying to care for her without coming into contact with her germs - not easy. Lots of hand washing and hand sanitizer. We'll see how she's feeling later in the day and go to the night clinic at our doctor's office if there is no improvement. One of those situations when it's hard to tell if it's a virus or bacterial infection. Better safe than sorry, I guess.

So toodles for now - stay healthy, eat your veggies and stock up on kleenex!

Friday, February 9, 2018

A Spendy Kind of Week

This week will go down in history as Winter Blues Week. Firstly, the weather looks like this:



Then...Kazi and her boyfriend had a misunderstanding ( a euphemism  for tiff), since resolved.

Then, worst of all....my sweet Lily became ill. Last Saturday I "rushed" her to the emergency
vet clinic. As I had to drive through a blizzard it was more of a slow motion kind of rush. I almost missed the clinic altogether as the wind had blown the snow into large drifts and I couldn't see where to enter. 

Her symptoms were lethargy, constant napping and not eating a lot along with some weakness in her hind legs preventing her from being able to jump up onto her castle or napping chairs.
This is how she lets me know that she doesn't want me to go out.
(Not sick in these photos)
Such a pitiful expression.
 So we finally made it to the emergency clinic and they did an examination. To make a long story short the vet "expressed" her two anal glands as they were overly full (the stinky goop in the anal glands gives her her unique smell which is why cats and probably dogs, sniff each other's butt - interesting...no?) The consensus is that modern cat food doesn't make firm enough stools so the goop doesn't get pressed out when they poop. Gee, I hope you aren't eating while you read this!!!

Overly full glands causes discomfort and may have been the cause of her not being able to jump. If she didn't improve then the next step would be x-rays.
 So.....the vet manually expressed (emptied) the glands, gave us a few pain pills and charged me $375 for the pleasure. Oh, she also did blood work to rule out a bunch of stuff. Today, Lily, one week later, jumped up into her castle for the first time! And she ate enough today for 3 cats! Considering she weighs a petite 3.7 lbs I don't mind how much she eats.
 
While I have my morning coffee and read the daily paper
the kitties sit on my lap and legs.
Her BIG sister, Luna, (though she doesn't look that much bigger in these photos as Lily is in the foreground), weighs more than twice what Lily weighs. I weighed myself holding Luna and then without her and estimate Luna weighs about 12 lbs!! So, I have separated their eating areas giving Lily more and Luna less than their usual amounts.


 Since I felt I hadn't spent quite enough money yet I also went to Hakim's and ordered two new pairs of eyeglasses - YIKES!! Hakim's has a very good strategy - charge less per pair IF you buy two pairs. So instead of paying $500 for one pair I paid $700 for two pairs theoretically saving me $300. No tax charged saving me another $91. I am ok with this because my last pair bought 5 years ago from my optometrist's office cost me $550. (I recently broke those) My glasses have all kinds of special needs, prisms and progressives and so on so I'll never be able to buy more inexpensive glasses. Another "good" thing is I found a jeweller who does cold soldering and fixed the glasses that I broke. So now I have 2 new pairs (one sturdier than the other to wear for volleyball) and a backup pair. I hope I'll be good for another 10 years, maybe longer.

So that was my super spendy week. I decided to use my snowflake box towards these expenses and am glad I decided not to take an extra trip this year. I'm going over my needs to see what else, if anything, I should buy since being in such a generous mood :(  New winter boots are on the list along with new hiking boots. I'll wait til I do my taxes to see how much I owe before making any more expenditures. Blech...

Now...back to the Olympics!



Thursday, February 1, 2018

Big Decision Made

I've been wavering back and forth and forth and back on the number of trips to take this year. It's a tough decision considering all of the places I'd like to revisit or visit anew. It's not that I can't afford to travel - it's just that I feel most comfortable having a certain amount of a savings "cushion". Last September when I bought the Honda Civic I paid cash out of my savings accounts - mostly my TFSA. That was on top of the expenses to travel to British Columbia, Bracebridge and Scotland.  So while I am still above my cushion amount now I might not be if I took two major trips this year plus I am looking forward to going to PEI this year as well as Bracebridge once again. My daughter would like to see both of her aunts again this year.
Hiking to China Beach

Mystic Beach

Sun setting on Vancouver Island

Hiking along Loch Lomond

Ferry - Loch Lomond

Family time in Bracebridge
Therefore - I am putting off B.C. this year and going to Scotland for 3 weeks sharing expenses with my brother, plus making visits in Canada sharing costs with Kazi. That will allow me to reimburse my savings account by $1200 per month. By this time next year I'll be able to plan several trips without the anxiety associated with using up too much of my savings.

I think everyone has that magic number that makes them feel comfortable. I didn't really have one when I was teaching but now that my ability to save is a lot lower than when I was working it takes a while longer to build up or rebuild a nest egg. And living on one income is a factor also.

On the bright side I will have the time to ride my bike to Kilally Meadows every day and document the spring wild flowers and birds. I'll need to be in really good shape to keep up with my brother in the Scottish Highlands! He's a lot taller and has a much longer stride than I do.  I estimate my costs for the 3 week trip to Scotland to be around $4,700-$5,000 though I have given myself a large misc fund to cover emergencies, as well as spending money, food, accommodations, rental car, gas, tour fees, ferries and so on. I hope to come in way under budget....she says optimistically!

Do you have travel plans for 2018??

Monday, January 29, 2018

Monday Musings and Signs of Spring

Yesterday was such a gorgeous sunny and mild spring winter day it was easy to think that spring is on its way. Lots of buds on trees - even the maple tree behind my house has buds on it. Poor Mother Nature - things are so out of whack!

I checked my front garden yesterday hoping for a sign of snowdrops but it's the daffodils that are bravely taking winter on!  You might want to dip your heads beneath the soil once again though, as snow is going to be falling most of the day!!

As always the sunshine invited me to Kilally Meadows although the trails were in less than pristine shape! I wouldn't have dared to walk on these chunks of ice below without my trusty walking stick which save me from a few falls by providing me with another point of balance. We've had a lot of rain and a lot of melting followed by a flash freeze resulting in inch thick ice covering most of the trails. In another area I did go through the ice a couple of times but no harm done - it's just empty space under the ice. 



A small pond has formed in a low-lying area.

Oh, but the sky!

Later today I will join the vigil at City Hall to mark the one-year anniversary of the mosque shooting in Quebec City where six men were killed and nineteen others injured, five seriously. One injured man bravely jumped in front of the shooter receiving many bullets which left him a paraplegic but saved the lives of many.

I include below the words of our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau:

Ottawa, Ontario
January 29, 2018
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the first anniversary of the fatal shooting at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec:

“One year ago tonight, a senseless attack at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec in Ste-Foy claimed the lives of six worshippers and seriously injured nineteen more.

“On this solemn anniversary, I join Canadians across the country to remember and honour those who were taken from us too soon. Our thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones, and all those who still live with the pain and trauma caused by the attack. We also honour the first responders, whose courage and professionalism saved lives that night.

“This was a terrorist attack against all Canadians, meant to test our resolve and weaken our values. It failed. In the wake of the shooting, a solidarity movement formed across the country as Canadians united to condemn the attack and counter hatred with hope.

“A year later, our message has not changed: We are stronger together. No matter our faith or where we were born, we are equal members of this country. We will not let an act of intolerance divide us and make any Canadian feel less at home.

“The Government of Canada stands in solidarity with Canada’s Muslim community. We will continue to fight Islamophobia and take action against it and all other forms of hatred and discrimination, and defend the diversity that makes Canada strong.”

Saturday, January 27, 2018

February Budget

Yup, I'm pretty much done with January.

I'm sporting quite the bruise after walking in Kilally Meadows - the trails are covered in ice about 2" thick - so yes, I slipped while taking a photo. The camera is ok. Yesterday when I was walking through I left my camera at home and walked more carefully. With a walking stick. Lesson learned.

January was an expensive healthcare type of month: renewed a prescription $28, had an eye exam $120 (all is well, in fact my eyes have improved so will be shopping for glasses soon) and dentist $230. You'd think for $230 I'd get more than x-rays, cleaning and polishing...like maybe a gold tooth or two? But I'm set for awhile. Eye exam is every two years, dentist is now once a year from previously going every 6 months, then every 9 months. Yes, I have excellent oral hygiene :) 

I paid for my healthcare expenses from my weekly misc discretionary spending budget line. So I had to be more frugal than usual with my spending. Luckily I underspent in a couple of categories, not by a lot but it helped. $60 was allotted for gas and I only spent $30. $280 was allotted for groceries and only spent $229. $70 was allotted for electricity - the bill was $$56. All the little extras were re-directed to my misc budget and even after buying wine (a necessity) I had a budget surplus of $116. So I had me a little splurge at the thrift shop purchasing 3 items for a total of $12. I'd been denying myself for quite some time - haven't been to a store other than the grocery store since Christmas shopping.

Nothing too fancy - I like trouser style track pants and was looking for grey - voila!

My eye was attracted to the material in this top - it will go nicely over a pair of black tights.

This v-neck boho top makes me think of summer and screamed "Sunfest"! Both tops are very light gauzy material which also packs well :) and can be layered with a tank top or long sleeved top for warmth. Just another wild spending spree a la Jane!
Oh yes, and my Amazon Prime membership was renewed in January for $90. I am very happy with this service. I order a lot from Amazon and while I didn't keep track I'm sure I saved way more than $90 on shipping fees. (my daughter also purchased a number of things under my name in order to get the free delivery.) Also included in the membership is a streaming service while not quite as good as Netflix, it's pretty close. And no overlap of programming.

I also managed to go to a movie ("The Post" with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks - I highly recommend it! Very timely considering the attack on news reporting in the States), went out for lunch and out to Roxbury's a couple times after volleyball for a pint (and free pizza!). I've also set up a monthly withdrawal to go to Red Cross and January was the first month for that.

So I am really pleased with January's budget results. I still stuck a $1,000 into savings as I try to do every month but did not increase my snowflakes. I'll return to building that in February. I've made up a new budget to begin in February. I've received notice of my pension increases - I wish I could say that the increase more than covers the increase in my bills but my property taxes really went up a lot and there's nothing I can do about that other than grin and bear it. I think overall I came out about even. And that will have to do.

Are you closing off your January budget yet? How did you do this month?

Sunday, January 21, 2018

1301

Over 1300 days of retirement as of today - how bloody marvellous! I appreciate more than I can say the freedom that retirement provides. Instead of spending the weekend racing around in preparing for the next week every day is Saturday! Don't worry; if you're not there yet you will be eventually.
Little ghosties

I spent Saturday walking and taking photos in Kilally Meadows - the sun was shining and the ice was glistening and melting. And then I met a friend coming from the other direction who I haven't seen in months! That was pretty cool so we headed to Tim Horton's to catch up.
What big teeth you have!

Other highlights of the day included my daily yoga practise and visiting with my daughter (SHE AND HER BOYFRIEND ARE LOOKING AT HOUSES!!!!) So we sat with my laptop looking at what's for sale and there isn't much. It's a seller's market right now and it isn't going to be easy finding something affordable. In London Ontario anything under $300,000 is an old wreck or a condo - not a single detached house with a yard. They will have to make some compromises. But STILL! That's a huge step! Am I a bad mother because I started to think of the extra savings in my budget? 😆  I just hope there's an extra bedroom for me!!


All kidding aside, I hope they can find a place they're happy with and I'll be first in line to slap some paint on the walls! Fortunately there's no urgency so they can take their time looking. Holy moly it's FOGGY outside! Mother Nature is digging deep into her bag of tricks this winter! My heating bill is going to be a big one this month after several weeks of -25c so I don't mind the current thaw.

Oh, before I go, I wanted to remind you to "check your spam" once in awhile. I did yesterday looking for something I had deleted and found half a dozen of your comments in my spam folder. I was quite surprised and changed them to "not spam". 

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!