Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year End

I just spent the past few hours making a new expense tracking spreadsheet. Since I'm a computer geek more than a numbers person, the spreadsheet itself is more fun than looking at the numbers. I put a sheet at the back to keep track of the balances in my accounts, both savings accounts and debit accounts like my mortgage and credit cards. The upshot is that I am a bit over $85K in debt. Yes, that includes my house. I looked at my fixed bills. I could, if I have to, make it on unemployment. That is, I could if I stop spending money like I have been the past couple of weeks. I am sobered by what I see. The past year really, really knocked me backwards financially. Knocked me backwards but didn't knock me down.

I will have to be firm in my resolution to do what it takes to get on my feet financially if I am to have any hope of hiking the AT in 3 years. Or if I have any hope of doing much of anything on my list of things to do with the rest of my life. I am on a very shaky cusp on all fronts, financially, physically, emotionally. I have chosen to stay home tonight, New Year's Eve, to think about all this. I really want this next year to be much better than the past one was.

I will start tracking where every penny goes from now on. This is what the spreadsheet is for. It is a work of art for me, this spreadsheet. I have it broken down into the categories that make sense to me. It is easy to use because I designed it, it works the way I think. So, there is no reason I can't do this. If I am spending more in a day than I can track, I'm spending too much on too many things. I have done this before and it isn't that difficult.

As I watch where my money is going I will make decisions on what is worth the money to me and what isn't. Food is still an issue for me now. I just can't figure out what I want to eat. Even giving myself permission to go out to eat doesn't help since I can't figure out where I want to go. So, that will be a challenge especially as I start working out more and need those calories. The give and take of money vs. health vs. convenience.

I am grateful that the house sold. If it hadn't sold by now my decisions would be between much more difficult options, so I am very grateful for what I do have. I am just sobered, as I said, by where I am vs. where I thought I'd be by now.

And so, on with the new year. I am ready to say good-by to this one. I have no idea where I will be this time next year. I have stopped making very concrete plans more than a few days in advance. But now I have a better idea of where I am starting out with the new year.


Yesterday I went back to the county park and hiked. I used my new hiking poles. I realized that they give an upper body workout, kinda the low weight/high reps taken to extreme. I feel it today. I can feel my muscles building up some. That means that I am going from having no muscles to having some muscles.

I have told enough folks that I'm in training for the Appalachian Trail in 3 years that I guess it is now a real goal. This means I gotta figure out how to pay off the credit cards and such in that time period. It is kind of disheartening because this time last year they were paid off, and now I'm deeper in debt on them than I've ever been from having to live on them while having 2 house payments and such. The three year time frame gives me a realistic window to get into shape and acquire the equipment I need.

Today I will spend tying up loose ends from the year. I may post a year-end wrap-up later.

Friday, December 29, 2006


I went and got a new gas cap for the truck, one that you don't have to take off to add fuel. I then spent $69 on an oil change, new air filter and new brake light at Jiffy Lube. When I went for the emissions testing the truck passed! I will try to get the plates for the truck today. It has occurred to me that this is the last day of the month to get plates, so the line may be a bit long. sigh.

I also went and rejoined Gold's Gym. I have my initiation workout this afternoon at 1. The trainer who called me to schedule last night sounded enthusiastic. I had a fun time playing with him on the phone. It should be interesting. I tend to know what I want to do when I walk in, but I'll try to just listen and not make comments intended to mess up his script.

So now I need to take a trash run. Then come home and get cleaned up and head out. If the line isn't too long I'll try to get the plates for the truck. Then the workout. Then, well, I'll take stock and see what is next on the list.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Odds and Ends

Quote from the comic Zippy: If time didn't go by so fast I wouldn't dwell so much in th' past.

I had, for me, a very social week leading up to Christmas. I had social obligations for 3 days in a row, ending on Christmas Eve with having dinner with my parents and then working some more on setting up Mom's computer. On Saturday, which was my birthday, I helped oddball and various friends move what they were able to salvage from the fire into their new apartment. Then he took WizardPC and I out to dinner as a thank-you. Since that was what I'd wanted for my birthday - to spend it with friends - I got my wish and had a very good birthday.

Since I got home the evening of Christmas Eve I have not gone out of the house. Today, which is Thursday, I will go out and run the necessary errands. This includes the fact that my truck plates run out at the end of they year in 4 days. Since the county I used to live in didn't require emissions testing and the one I moved to does, I should start that process today. With a truck that is 10 years old and has 280K+ miles on it, this might get complicated and/or expensive. First off I know I need a gas cap. I lost the first one within 6 months of buying the truck new. My then boyfriend insisted that I get a new one. Well, I lost it soon after, but I had also lost the boyfriend so I never replaced it. I think I also have a leak in the exhaust system. It is original, so that isn't really a surprise. Just don't know how that will affect the emissions test. I probably should also get the oil changed beforehand. Like I said, it may get complicated.

I finally installed the tub diverter/faucet. That bathroom is now much, much cleaner. However, I found that as I cleaned I saw just how damaged it is. Mostly wear and tear that isn't dirt but actual places that won't clean up. I was depressed yesterday because of it. That room will need over-hauling that is more than just painting as I had hoped. Again it is the question of where to draw the line, how much to fix. The entire tub and surround could use a replacement. Also, the shower head is loose, but that would mean sawing a hole in the wall behind it to get to it to tighten things. That bedroom that has the shared wall is the one with the most damage, and one more hole wouldn't be that big a deal, I guess. It is also most likely the last room I'll tackle, so I'll leave that decision until then.

I spent most of one day just shredding papers with my new heavy duty shredder. I have more to go, but I can see progress there. Now I just need to take the trash away. FlyLady ( says that we shouldn't turn our houses into landfills just because we either don't want to take things to the landfill for environmental reasons or because we hold onto things that need to really be trashed. I have spent over 2 years just cleaning out old trash from my stuff. I keep making deeper and deeper cuts, and when I really look at a lot of the stuff I've moved around I can't think of anyone who would want it. There is some guilt, but I want to be rid of all this just 'stuff'.

Which brings me to what I've really been doing these past few days. Nothing. Nothing but laying around thinking of how I really kinda wish I was down to just what would fit into my truck to move, how I wish I lived in a one-room house or houseboat or RV, etc. I am a long ways from that now. And, really, I don't know that I want that at all. But, I can't pull myself out of this funk and start working on the house right now. Madcap Mum, over on blogspot, posted a site that has information that she's been using to help herself with some issues. I'm going to try it out. I know that if she hadn't posted that it's helped her I would dismiss it as hype because it has a lot of the hallmarks of it. However, around page 35 of the free manual it did in fact have the directions on how to use the process after all. So, today I will take a shower, get out and run errands, and this evening I'll start learning this process. If it works I'll post the link here for those who don't go to her site.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Not-Quite Mid-Week

I didn't do a lot on the laundry room last weekend, just enough to figure out that the corner stuff I found didn't work as I was told it would. I just now thought of a way it might work, but not for the corner I was working on. I went back to plan A, which is just lots-o-mud. I haven't started sanding on it yet, so the verdict is out on how well that worked. What I did do on Sunday was go out and hike 6 miles in the city park. It is actually more of a county park, and the trails are all in the woods. But, there is usually voices and such around since with the trees off sound carries and the trails are all around one ridge. The 6 miles were about as much as I wanted to hike, and I'm still feeling it in my muscles. I need to do that every weekend to even begin to get into hiking shape.

Mom's computer should be delivered today, so I'll go up there this evening and set it up for her. The new version of Open Office (a free software suite that has many of the same types of programs as Micro$oft Office) has a much better database section that I think will work for her class reunion database. I'm hoping so since I don't know that I can lay my hands on a version of Micro$soft Office I can afford. Her digital camera software and such will work much better on this new computer, and those are the main things she uses. I'll set up her email, and she should be good to go.

I am making plans with the guys at work to go to the Saucer on Friday after work, and called my former partner over at Metro and told him to tell the techs there that I'd be there Friday if they wanted to show up and share a beer. So, that will be my beginning to the Holidays. I have asked on channel, and specifically oddball and WiardPC to join me for a drink or something somewhere Saturday to celebrate my birthday. I'll hammer down plans for that later in the week. Which will leave Christmas Eve to get together with my parents for dinner. Then I'm taking the next week off work. Well, I'm on call if they need me, but I'm thinking (hoping) they won't. So, at the least I'll do a hiking trip up to Land Between the Lakes, and if the weather holds maybe even over to the Smokies. Again, I'll decide that when it gets closer to the day.

I got my tub diverter. I need to have daylight to work on replacing the old one since the old one is cemented into place. I'll use my trusty dremmil tool that I got last year to buzz it out. But, the light in that bedroom where the access door is doesn't work and I don't want to do that work with a flashlight. I also need to troubleshoot the switch in there to see if that is the problem, again not a flashlight project if I can help it. I took the plate off the switch last night and it looked pretty sketchy in there from what I could see.

Another 'I'd never be here if I wasn't working this job' story. Yesterday I had a call at Gaylord Entertainment and the directions were to go past the guard shack, park, and walk past the camels... I said "camels...?" and he said that the Rocketts have a live nativity scene in their show and the animals are quartered in that parking lot. Sure enough, in a tent in the parking lot were a donkey and 3 camels. Kinda cool.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Spending Money

I have been spending money this week. Some of it is really good. I found the piece that is broken on most of my kitchen drawers for less than $1 at Lowes once I knew what I was looking for. I'll go back and get enough to fix all of them. The ones that need a complete replacement of the slides will cost less than $10/drawer. So, I'm looking at maybe $50 total. I also ordered the tub diverter. This sounds so trivial, but I have no water in that tub and it needs a good cleaning. The diverter won't be here till the first of next week. While at Lowes I found some inside corner drywall stuff. Not sure what you call it, but it has metal in the corner itself, and paper tape attached on both sides so that I can mud the corner and have it look better and be more stable. And they were cheap, too.

I also ordered Mom's new computer last night. Hopefully it will be here for Christmas. I got a scratch and dent Dell. More than I wanted to pay, but it will be a good computer that hopefully won't lock up on her all the time like her current one is. I'm having it sent directly to her. Told her to expect her gift to arrive next week, and to call me when it did. Didn't tell her what it is, but she probably figured it out. When I said it's her gift from Dad and me, she asked if he knew about it. I said he did at one time... I'll let him contribute as much or little to the price as he wants. The main thing I'm buying is not having to go over and troubleshoot intermittent issues with her computer. At least that's the idea.

Work has been ok this week. No real bad days, so I'll take that as good juju. The food I bought has worked out well. I got some uncrustables, the frozen PB&J sandwiches, and I'm addicted to them. I went back and got 3 more boxes. Maybe I'll make some home made ones this weekend to see how they do. These are a huge step up from Pop Tarts, which is what they replace in my life. Pop Tarts or a morning drive through the local fast food place to get a couple of fried pies. About the same cost, but healthier. I also got a 60 count box of frozen waffles to have for breakfast. Again, I'll make home made stuff eventually, but these do for now.

This weekend I promise myself I'll get out and do something. Walking the trail at the local city park, which is around 3 or so miles of trail, would be an easy way to ease into getting out more. Since I consider myself in training for the Appalachian Trail in a few years, weather should not be an issue. I have a rain suit and down jackets and wool sweaters and whatever I should need to do 3 miles that is a couple of miles from my house.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Another Week

Yesterday I worked on the laundry room remodel. I've pulled the door trim off one of the doors, and worked on one corner that is tricky because of the way they hung the drywall. They do it differently in these modular homes that they never intended to tape and mud. It is slow progress, but it is progress. I had worked out a sketchy time line that would have me finished remodeling the inside of the house by the end of next year. I don't think I can keep up even that pace. The time line is useful so that I can be more realistic when I'm looking at what needs to be done. To be finished in a bit over a year I would need to be done with the laundry room by the end of the month, and I don't see that happening at my current pace. I may get faster as I go along, but who knows.

Another thing I did was research new drawer slides for the kitchen drawers. I have 14 of them, and only about 2 of them still work correctly. At the most it looks like a bit less than $20 each to put new slides on them. After looking in detail at how it all works I'm sure this is within my carpentry abilities. I also took the time to research again finding a simple tub diverter. You know, that thing where you turn on the hot and cold water for the bathtub, pull up on the shower diverter and water comes out either the spout or the shower head. Well, you can spend over a thousand dollars (!) on a setup that basically does just that, but I couldn't find the simple old-fashioned one-piece thing that has the spout and faucets all together. I found a place out of Alabama that has it, and I may call them tonight. Even with shipping it will be just under $30. I have that site bookmarked for further reference when I need useful items in my remodel.

I also kind of put out my back again. I'm sure it was from reaching up and working on the walls but it happened when I picked up a concrete block to set next to the dog house to stabilize it. Everything is on a hill here, and I used bricks to level the dog house. It was sliding around a bit, so I put blocks on 3 sides of it to keep it in place. My back didn't like that. It isn't as bad as it has been the other times I've put it out, more of a warning.

I feel like I'm more or less on track. It is a slow track, but at least I feel like I'm making some progress now.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Settling In

Today, since it is Saturday, I mostly cleaned and did laundry. I am still in the process of taking possession of this house by washing out cabinets and such. I am working on the kitchen mostly this weekend, although both bathrooms could use a good cleaning, too. I also decided that the cat and I were not coming to any agreement on who controlled the futon at night, and I was tired of losing and having to scrunch up to sleep while the cat hogged the bed. So, I moved things around in the one room I'm living in, which is the great room, mopped the floor and then put up the single bed. So this one room has a bed, a futon couch, a lazy-boy chair, a smaller rocker and footstool, my desk w/computer and printer, my printer table and a few other odds and ends. It is a largish room, but geesh! Obviously I need to get working on remodeling the other rooms.

I also got tired of being sick. I went to Wally World and stocked up on frozen food. My small fridge is already full with just stuff, you know, the bottles and drinks and stuff that isn't exactly food but that needs to be kept cold. I also got some frozen pre-made pancakes and (gasp!) some of the frozen pre-made (and crustless!) peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Eventually I will make my own and freeze them, but the main thing now is to eat. I am happy that my system is back in running order and I'm feeling better. I basically had stopped eating. I do that when my routine is disturbed. So, whatever it takes to get back in a routine that includes meals is what I do. As I get in the habit of eating it then becomes easier to do it in more healthy and frugal ways. But, first I have to be in a routine.

My dog and the pit bull 'pup' that is now as big as my dog have become friends. I'm glad that the pit bull was smaller when they were introduced. I don't worry now when I leave the dog outside when I'm gone. Which is good because the dog wants to be outside during the day, even when it's cold. On the other hand, my dog and my cat no longer get along. The dog never used to be inside as much at the other place, so when she was in they tolerated each other. Last night the cat was doing it's 'look Ma, I've got one of your socks' yowling that he does every night. The dog got tired of it and snapped at him as he brought the sock to me. The cat hid all day today, and won't come out and sit with me even now. This is very unusual. Hopefully this is temporary. On the other hand, I may be able to sleep stretched out tonight rather than scrunched around a cat who is taking up more than his share of the bed.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Down Time Again

Yesterday afternoon I got a sick headache and it progressed into a queasy stomach. I never actually got sick, and felt better after I got home. I slept from the time I got home till around 1am, which got my sleeping pattern mixed up since I was wide awake in the middle of the night at that point. Today I got a slow start and didn't feel really well, but not sick enough to call out from work. I made it through my calls, and decided that my problem was that I just hadn't been eating enough real food. The fast food sandwich I got yesterday really didn't sit well so I hadn't eaten anything else all day. Today there wasn't time to stop to eat during the day, so this evening I went up to the diner and got supper. I was doing ok till I got to the register to pay. All at once I felt like I might should find the bathroom. I persevered, and made it home ok without getting sick. Now I am again just feeling poorly, but not poorly enough to call my boss and say I can't work tomorrow. I hate this. I'm not making any progress on the house, or anything at all. I'm making myself stay awake until at least 8pm so that I may sleep through the night.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


I found Walden on line at:

The quote I referenced is: '... for I made no haste in my work, but
rather made the most of it'

I feel better using the proper quote. He says it better than I remembered it anyway.

Progress Happens

I have officially started the remodel of the new house. I pulled the 5 gal tub of drywall mud back out, taped a few seams and mudded them. The laundry room is my room to learn on. I will have a lot of sanding to do. Not sure what to do about the inside corners where I pulled the trim off. I'll wander into Lowes and Home Depot and maybe a random hardware store or two and see what is available. I'm hoping that there is something for the inside corners like Critch is using for the outside corners. I have one of those in the laundry room, too, so need to pick up the outside corner stuff and some tin snips. I may pull the trim off around the door to make some of the corners easier to mud and paint. I'm going slowly.

I haven't talked about the closing last week. It was odd. Now the new thing is for the buyer and the seller to close at different companies, even in different towns. I never met the person who bought my house. There are a few things he needs to know, such as the alarm code. Oh, well. My realtor had to run up to where the buyer was closing to get our checks. I wandered the mall while waiting. I did end up with my check in the end, though. I called a couple of friends who all said "I bet you are relieved now" and realized that I really had no emotion about it at that point. I keep waiting for it to sink in, but it is just kind of a blank still. It's almost like the home I lived in for 7 years just no longer exists for me. Oh, well, I guess I'll sort it out at some point.

I spent pretty much all of yesterday cleaning on the new house. I cleaned out the master bathroom and started putting some things away. I cleaned some of the kitchen. I sorted clothes out so I can find what I need more easily. The biggest challenge and biggest opportunity is not having entrenched habits anymore. Everything pretty much changed. I am comfortable in a jumbled house right now because my own mind and feelings are jumbled. I work on fixing the things that are an annoyance, such as the leaking washer hoses and no sink stoppers. Today I need to take the drain pipes apart under the kitchen sink and see why one sink drains so slowly. One thing at a time. I restore order to the house as well as my mind.

I wish I had my copy of Walden unpacked. I can't quote directly, but in talking about building his cabin he said something along the lines of 'for I did not hurry about my labors but rather made the most of them'. That is what I am doing.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The day I've been waiting for

Today is the day I've looked forward to for over a year. I'm in my new house (at least all my stuff and animals are in one location now), and I have nothing serious hanging over my head. I am no longer rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I'm not sure if the ship went down or not, but I am at least momentarily on stable ground.

Ok, enough with the philosophy. I have a normal Saturday planned. Laundry is happening, and the new hoses don't leak. I am starting to really think about what I want to do to the house first. I am getting the normal chores done. I am making progress. That last is what I haven't felt like I've made much of this past year. Progress.

About a year and a half ago I looked at the ladder of progress I was climbing and realized a few things. First of all, I was not really climbing anymore. I was at a standstill. A post on a message board I hang on talked about how you can't steer a stationery ship, so even a move in the wrong direction is an improvement. I also realized that one reason I was at a standstill was that the ladder was leaning on the wrong wall. It wasn't going anyplace I really wanted to go after all. So, it was time to make a change. I certainly didn't think it would take this long. It was a very deep and comfortable rut I had to blast myself out of. Now that the ship is moving, it is time to start steering it again.

I have been out with friends several times this week. That alone is an improvement. Last night Dementia cooked dinner for a few of us as a way to give Oddball and Panya some calm space and comfort. I went basically to be supportive of them, and ended up staying for dinner and some wine. It was nice to spend time with people I enjoy. Critch is renovating his new house and looking at the materials he is using and what he is doing was educational and has motivated me in ways that I hadn't been before. I'm not alone in this stuff! I am actually excited to get back working on the laundry room again... not that I've started yet this morning, mind you.

Now hopefully this blog will become a record of movement and progress, not just a place for me to whine. As I move through this day and weekend I will be thinking about what I want to accomplish.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Reality Check

The house finally closed yesterday. I have the money in hand. I still felt depressed, whine, whine. This morning I woke up to the news that a couple of my best friends, Oddball and Panya, had their apartment burn down last night. They are ok, and they say that the cat got out ok, too. But, most if not all of their stuff is gone. As well as a place to live. Reality Bites.