Saturday, August 29, 2015

I got a raise!

Everyone lives on a fixed income.

Seriously.

People who leave their homes and go to work at a "real" job, unless they are in a position where they get bonuses and commissions based on production/performance, meet their needs with the same resources month after month. They get small raises, just like Social Security recipients do, and manage to make it on their fixed incomes, just as SS-ers do.

One of the best ways to create more money coming in is to reduce the amount of money going out. And that's what I did this week.

Putting my walking activity on hold has opened up a couple extra hours every day. This week I spent one of them – just one! – on the phone with the providers of my wifi, my satellite service and my mobile phone. The result was impressive.

It started when my old phone kept dropping my home wifi signal. Every time it flipped from wifi to 3G or 4G, it ate data. I have a very low data plan, because I'm on my home wifi most of the time. But this month I used 75 percent of my data after only two weeks of the billing cycle.

At the tech support person's suggestion, I backed up and restored my phone to factory settings – a traumatizing experience – but doing so didn't solve the problem.

Last Sunday I went to the nearest retail location to try to figure it out. I also planned to visit the AT&T store, since that company just bought DirecTV (which is my satellite provider). I planned to look into what kind of discounts were available for bundling.

Without going into all the gory details, my cellular provider wasn't especially helpful and the AT&T person was. I was ready to switch. But I had to find out what the payoff was to get out of my contract. And that's what started the Monday morning phone odyssey.

  • I called US Cellular and spoke with an agent who did not want to lose a loyal customer. 
  • I spent some time speaking with a DirecTV associate who also rewarded me for my loyalty.
  • Ditto Frontier, although their contribution to my income was smaller, presumably because they know they're the only wireless game in town.

Here's how it went down.

The payoff from US Cellular was prohibitive, and the discount offered was impressive. They replaced my Samsung Galaxy S4 with an S6, beat AT&T's offer by $20/month, and doubled my data. Total savings over the old plan was more than $70 per month. And a new phone!

DirecTV gave me a $10/month discount, two new receivers – allowing us to watch a heckuva lot of free content with their OnDemand service – and I dropped HBO, resulting in about a $30 reduction in my monthly bill.

Frontier couldn't do much, but they did come through with a $10/month discount because I've been a customer for such a long time.

We're looking at a net savings of $110 per month. FOR REAL!

I feel bad about the AT&T agent. She was terrific, very helpful, and I know she was counting on a sale. I'm going to stop in and talk with her next time I'm in that neighborhood. I feel fairly certain she would have taken the same deal I did, though. And when my US Cellular contract ends, I'll have some bargaining power. And the promise of another $10/month discount on my DirecTV bill.

If you're feeling an economic pinch these days – I know it's getting better, but who couldn't use a little more money? [cough-theDonald-cough] – carve out an hour and make some calls. Find out what your provider can do to help you remain a happy customer. The deals are out there, but they're not generally offered – you have ask.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Opening a door

Thank you for reading that last post. And commenting! I love comments!

Gingerzingi's last comment, about new opportunities, deserves another post.

I know I will get there. I do. I know I'll need to find some way to move (without hurting) and to stay fit. And I know yoga will probably be it, especially after MadAnne's ringing endorsement.

It sounds silly, but I'm going through some kind of grieving process right now, one that has me completely wiped out.

It's. Not. Brain. Cancer.

I have to keep telling myself that. I'm not going to die from osteoarthritis.

But every time my husband takes off for his daily walk, I'm sad.

Every time I think about all the pictures I used to take, I'm sad.

Every time the humidity is low and the sun is high and the breeze is gentle and I think I'd like to go for a walk … I'm just so sad that I know it's going to hurt and do more damage.

Having just learned about this, I suppose I should expect to feel something. I've no choice but to accept it. Cartilage doesn't miraculously regrow.

Right now, though, I'm missing my walking more than ever, and not quite ready to go through that door. Maybe just writing it down will spur me to at least investigate possibilities.

Maybe.

It's not brain cancer.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

30 days

I just took a look at my Daily Mile dashboard, and I last recorded a walk 30 days ago. I had no idea it had been so long. I've been telling myself a couple of weeks. Maybe three.

I stopped walking because my hip hurt. I continued to do four miles a day as long as I could, but those days consisted of whatever I had to do before the walk, followed by the walk, followed by resting. Sometimes for the remainder of the day.

It finally occurred to me that walking was aggravating the pain, and I needed to stop. I put on my big-girl running shorts and made a doctor's appointment. And went to it yesterday.

Where I learned that I am, apparently, officially, old. And maybe I should change the name of this blog again.
Not my own personal hip x-ray, but illustrative of my problem.
I had two x-rays that cost more than my first car and way more than my new dishwasher, and learned that I have a misalignment of my spine, along with some degenerative disc disease, and a cartilage deficiency in my right hip. Bone on bone.

I saw the Physician's Assistant instead of my family doctor, and she was great. She knows my history and said, "We see this a lot in athletes, both men and women." Athlete! She called me an athlete! As I've mentioned to a few friends, at least I didn't lose all that cartilage by being a slug.

But still. No cartilage = no cushioning, and until you experience it personally you really have no idea of the pain. I've tried all the recommended OTC pain relievers; ibuprofen seems to do the best job for me.

What I haven't been doing is exercising. To me, exercise is walking. Both the PA and Dr. Google recommend stretching. I also learned that yoga, bicycling and swimming may be beneficial. I don't have a bike, nor do I swim, so I'll be taking advantage of the apps on our new smarter-than-I-am TV to find some gentle yoga routines.

The other word for what I have is osteoarthritis – such an old-lady word. I'm not old. In fact I'm so not old that I have to pay for those expensive x-rays out of pocket, because I haven't met my insurance deductible and I'm too young for Medicare.

I see my family doctor week after next to discuss treatment options. There's no cure for osteoarthritis, but I've been assured by Dr. Google that I can live a long and comfortable life. Heh.

My grandmother had it, along with osteoporosis and COPD. She sat in a chair the last 10 years of her life, tethered to an oxygen tank watching soap operas. That, of course, is what I think of when I hear the word 'osteoarthritis.'

But my bones are dense and my lungs are clear. I only have a third of her problems. My total mileage for the year may be stalled at 624, but I'm certainly in better health than she was, and I've taken better care of myself than she did.

I'm trying to find the bright side.

It's a cartilage deficiency.

Not brain cancer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A writing prompt I can actually use

I subscribe to a daily e-mail that offers ideas for blog posts. My posts are always fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, spur-of-the-moment drivel. Even in the old days, when I did a quote on Fridays, I searched for and wrote about the quote on Friday, usually 15 minutes before I hit the Publish button.

So I largely ignore the prompts that land in my inbox every morning. But today, one of them really spoke to me:

2. Write a blog post inspired by the word: cheap


My county Democratic women's group is hosting the West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women Annual Meeting next month. Our county is large in area, but small in population, as West Virginia counties go, and so our club is tiny – just 35 members – and we have a treasury to match.

Planning a convention for women from around the state is a huge job, and we need all hands on deck. Fortunately, we have some stalwart volunteers who always get the job done, no matter what. You know those women from your own clubs and groups: the ones who pitch in, make the calls, stuff the envelopes, recruit the speakers.
A teaser shot of the
convention bag: it has
a zipper! And a pocket!

Fill the goodie bags.

I've been to four of these statewide gatherings in the past, and I have the tote bags to prove it. Each registered delegate, alternate, and guest receives a convention bag with a program book and a little goodie bag filled with whatever the host club can find, make, or beg for from local businesses.

The state organization provides no financial help for filling the goodie bags or stocking a hospitality suite. West Virginia's counties are split into three Congressional districts, so the counties in our district have been generous in donating a bit of their just-as-meager-as-our treasuries to make sure we look good.

Because, you know, it's better to look good than to feel good. (Cue Billy Crystal, SNL, "Fernando's Hideaway.)

I prefer the word "frugal" to cheap, and I also prefer utility and function over just "stuff." I don't want to give away any secrets prior to the meeting, since I know some of our guests will probably read this. We are not the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Our swag bags will not contain Prada clutches, Jimmie Choo pumps, or Apple watches.

Let's just say my inkjet printer has been working overtime creating little something-somethings to tuck into those bags. I've also found some great deals for useful printed items from online vendors.

And Pinterest is my friend.

If you're a Democratic woman who lives in West Virginia and you haven't yet registered for the WVFDW annual meeting, you should probably get yourself over to our website and sign up: REGISTER HERE. Otherwise, you're going to miss out on electing new officers, hearing a terrific keynote speaker (click that link!), and snagging a really awesome – if frugal – goodie bag.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Update ...

Sick. Again.

Two summer colds in one year is two too many.

My hip still hurts, and I'm not walking.

(The biggest shocker from not walking is I'm maintaining my April weight loss. I haven't lost anything since, but I haven't gained anything either. Scary to me to think that a strict Whole 30 plan – which resulted in a 10-lb. loss in April – is the only way for me to lose weight.)

I'd planned to have company this weekend, but when I got sick I had to cancel those plans. But my house is clean!

So there's that.

I'm improving. No more fever, only a hacking cough once in a while, combined with X-treme lack of energy. I'm going to put some food in the slow cooker and hope it turns into dinner.

And then I'm going back to bed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Paris with palm trees

So THIS happened nine years ago today …

Yes, after a whirlwind 13-year courtship, my husband and I tied the knot. He likes to say it's been mostly good since then. I like to say SHUT UP! It's ALL been good!

Heh.

It was hot as hell in Las Vegas. August, after all, is pretty hot in the desert. I was training for my first half marathon, I think, or at least I was running daily, and some random guy I saw a couple early-early mornings (because early-early morning was the ONLY time to run in August in Las Vegas) in a row invited me out for coffee the third time we saw each other.

I had to get married to get hit on by a stranger.

And how is the old married couple marking the occasion? Well, we're not. We're each very busy with separate projects. He has to go to a meeting for his tonight, and I'll be working on mine all day (and all day tomorrow, and the next day, and blah, blah, blah, until the event, which takes place in September, is over). I also have a miserableawfulhorrible summer cold. His event happens Saturday, but we're having company this weekend, so no anniversary-date opportunity in the foreseeable future.

Which is fine. We promised we would do something really special next year, for our 10th anniversary. The only way it will happen is if we make it happen. We have a year to plan it.

Film at eleven.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Keepsake quotes

I'm cleaning out my desk, and found a paperclipped bundle of quotes and sayings tucked in one of the little cubbyholes. I'm going to put them here, probably never to be looked at again, but they meant enough to me at one time to print them out and attach them to my refrigerator. Maybe they'll mean something to someone else someday.

There are only two things you "have to" do in life – you "have to" die, and you "have to" live until you die. You made up all the rest.

One of the best ways to begin familiarizing ourselves with the virtue of patience is to reflect systematically on its benefits. It is the source of forgiveness. It has no equal in protecting our concern for others, however they behave towards us. When patience is combined with the ability to discriminate between the action and the one who does it, forgiveness arises naturally. ~ Dalai Lama

Every behavior you participate in will have a consequence. ~ Brian Tracy

Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thought and right efforts will inevitably bring about right results. ~ James Allen

An idealist believes the short run doesn't count. A cynic believes the long run doesn't matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run. ~ Sydney J. Harris

Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit.

Keep nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. ~ William Morris

Happiness is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it.

Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists of leaving about three or four things a day unsaid. ~ Harlan Miller

Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were." ~ Cherie Carter-Scott

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

Remember: If a dog was the teacher, you would learn things like:

  • When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
  • Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
  • Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
  • Take naps.
  • Stretch before rising.
  • Run, romp and play daily.
  • Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
  • Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
  • On warm days, stop to lie on your back in the grass.
  • On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
  • When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
  • Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
  • Be loyal.
  • Never pretend to be something you're not.
  • If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
  • Enjoy every moment of every day!
When choosing the path of Life, you are choosing a road of obstacles. May they be as simple as speed bumps, or as complex as a step drop off a mountain. No matter what the obstacle, you must know there will be a big pile of pillows at the bottom of the mountain.

When choosing the path of Life, you are choosing a road of obstacles. May they be as simple as getting a detention in your schooling years, or as complex as losing a love one. No matter what the obstacle, you must know there will be a big group of people who love you, waiting at the bottom to cushion your fall. ~ MEM

The brief guide:
  • less TV, more reading
  • less shopping, more outdoors
  • less clutter, more space
  • less rush, more slowness
  • less consuming, more creating
  • less junk, more real food
  • less busywork, more impact
  • less driving, more walking
  • less noise, more solitude
  • less focus on the future, more on the present
  • less work, more play
  • less worry, more smiles
  • breathe


10 Days

Still haven't been to the doctor ... it's just so darned easy to avoid waiting rooms and X-rays and my doctor suggesting that, ahem, as one gets older one can expect a little pain.

Yes, he's said things like that to me in the past.

So I've not taken an intentional walk for four straight days now, which is killing my mileage goal for the year. I'd planned to walk yesterday, but I missed a step coming down from a stepstool and wow, did I ever feel it (and am still feeling it).

I'm keeping busy. I just don't really feel like writing. Or knitting. Or painting interior walls. The things that are keeping me busy are cutting grass, mostly, and decluttering. My husband's church is having a rummage sale in a couple weeks, and we're taking advantage of that event to clear out some, um, rummage.

If I were moving in a couple weeks, I could probably get rid of a lot more rummage. I'm not quite there yet in my thinking, however.

One thing I've been pondering is this: Just how many drinking glasses does a two-person household need? We don't entertain much, and when we do it's generally just one other couple. If I were going to have a larger event, I'd most likely buy disposable drink and dinnerware. I'm thinking of keeping six large and six small tumblers, which would take care of the rare times we need(?) real glass glasses at the table.

Probably no one remembers what their iced tea was served in anyway.

Anyway. I'm still alive. Still having pain. Still keeping busy.

How about you?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Struggling

I'm barely managing to get my four miles a day in lately. I see a visit to the doctor in the fairly near future to see what's going on with my right leg. I've been rollering it, thinking it might be iliotibial syndrome. 

I wish our healthcare system here in the good old US of A allowed one to go straight to physical therapy without going through an MD first. Insurance companies won't pay for PT if it's not prescribed first. I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on television, but I'm pretty sure that's where I'm headed. 

Lucky is home by now, I'm sure. His final trail journal entry is here. With all the hoopla about Scott Jurek and his supported speed record, Lucky is way more inspiring to me. I feel pretty lucky to be walking four miles a day on a paved road. He averaged about 15 a day on a trail. That's impressive.

I'm still maintaining the weight loss that happened the month of April, but not making any progress toward the eventual goal. It would be very sad for me to think that the strict Whole 30 is the only way I can lose. Looking back on the 2013 experience of almost making it to my goal and then gaining back a bunch o'pounds, I think a strict Whole 30 could be the only way to maintain. 

Much. Thinking. Ahead.

The first load … pans and dinnerware and the
food processor, oh my!
The dishwasher was installed last Tuesday, and is working well. I didn't realize that these newfangled energy-saving machines had such a long cycle. Nearly two hours, start to finish, but I guess that's normal. The water-saving feature that makes it energy-efficient results in using more electricity and an extended cycle. 

Not sure how that saves energy, actually. 

But it's kind of fun knowing I don't have to stand at the sink for an hour cleaning up a boatload of dishes after a big cooking session. 

Lots o'graphic design work going on here. Many, many ads for a program book for an annual meeting coming up in September. Quarterly newsletter goes out Monday or Tuesday. I feel somewhat chained to a screen lately, but since it's hot-hot-hot and humid-humid-humid, I'm glad to have an excuse to not be weeding the flower beds. Heh.

And with that … time to fire up Photoshop and get to work!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

He did it!

Lucky scaled Mt. Katadhin yesterday, early afternoon, ahead of schedule. He hasn't updated his journal yet, so I won't link to it, but I will when he does. A remarkable achievement!

Just checked again (five minutes later) and here's the latest entry.

I know one shouldn't compare oneself to another as far as fitness goes. We're all at different points along a line beginning at bedridden and ending at setting a speed record for hiking the Appalachian Trail. With tennis and soccer and baseball and marathon and jump rope and swimming medals and trophies in there, too.

But I can't help but compare Lucky's being 73 and hiking more than 2000 miles in five months to my efforts to get four miles a day.

I didn't do it yesterday. Only 1.45. I was hot and dehydrated and hungry and hurting. And I just turned around and went home.

Easier to do that on the road I live on than on the Appalachian Trail, for sure. But I'm smack dab in the midst of those summer doldrums, and need to find a way to get motivated again.

At any rate … here I go, all about me, when this is Lucky's day! YAY!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

One down, one to go

Well, Scott Jurek did indeed break the supported speed record for hiking the Appalachian Trail, by about three hours.

Lucky isn't able to update his journal – he's busy covering those last 50-ish miles! – but the weather in Maine has been decent and he should get to Katadhin tonight.

Guess I'll have to find something else to do for a while.

HAH! That's not difficult. Our Democratic women's group is hosting the statewide annual meeting. We're selling ads for the program book, and I'm doing the artwork for those ads. We have to stock a hospitality suite with snacks and beverages, collect items to put in goodie bags, make sure the banquet favors are completed on time (and don't break in the meantime!), and a host of other little and big tasks between now and September 18.

I don't have anything else to say this morning … I do, actually, but I don't have time!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Wow. I had no idea.

So it's been a while. Again. It gets easier and easier to let the blogging go. I suppose keeping up to date on Facebook is usurping blogging these days. It's certainly easier to post a captioned photo there than it is to string my thoughts together into several paragraphs.

Sometimes easier is better. But not usually.

At any rate, I've been busy or I would have been writing more often.

I've been too busy to even check e-mail. As I've been going through the last several hundred or so, I found one from MapMyFitness that offered this:
Those two weeks of no exercise in late May and early June killed my progress for the year. But I'm less than 40 miles below my 600-mile mid-year goal, so it's still not unreachable.

And, frankly, most women my age aren't putting that many hours into fitness. So yay! Debbi for the win!

And USA WOMEN for the World Cup win last night! What a lot of fun that was, and I don't think anyone expected the US to dominate as they did.

The knitting, running walking, reaping and eating is pretty much the same as it ever was. I hope your holiday was everything you wanted it to be.

I would hope all the feel-good 4th of July feelings would result in less divisiveness as a country. But the number of rebel battle flags I see flying would indicate otherwise.

What's it going to take?