Monday, March 19, 2018

Mid-March Madness

Money-wise this has been a March like no other. Thankfully in a good way (mostly....) Somewhere along the way I made a $300 mistake in my my favour!! How often does that happen? Usually never right? Occasionally I make an error in adding or subtracting on my budget sheet and of those errors about 98% of them are NOT in my favour! Most times the mistake is under $50, usually less than that. Am I looking to figure out how I made the $300 mistake? Ummmmm NO! - I'm crossing my fingers I can get to the end of March with that error intact! Counting the days....

Between that $300 and my misc budget line I have almost enough to pay for 3 weeks of airbnbs in Scotland! No money taken out of savings! My goal was to spend no more than $1,000 (Cdn) for the 21 nights with my brother contributing the same amount. The final tally came to $818 (Cdn) each - EXCELLENT! (Works out to just under $40/night/person!!) I'd call that "extra spending money" except that the British pound is going up up up while the Cdn dollar is going down down down. The savings on accommodations will hopefully cover the extra we'll have to pay to buy British pounds (or poonds as the Scottish say...)

So all is booked and confirmed. Though I had mega-problems with my President's Choice Mastercard. After booking several airbnbs my mastercard was frozen due to my making transactions out of my usual pattern. Okay then, I let them know I had a few more to book so this wouldn't happen again. Well, it did, after one more successful booking my account was frozen once again. Another lengthy ordeal on the phone..."there are 23 people on hold ahead of you....." all I can say is thank goodness for Paypal which I used instead! Sorted once again I assumed my problems were over. I filled in a "travel alert" so they would know when I was travelling and act accordingly.

On Thursday I met with my brother once again as we needed to book a night near Stirling and 3 nights in Glasgow. Guess what? You guessed it! Account froze again. Well when I finally got a REAL person I went up one side of them and down the other. I'm usually very mild-mannered but this was just TOO MUCH!! After getting sorted for the 3rd time they apologized and offered me 20 President's Choice points to make me feel better - I don't think he liked it when I laughed loudly and said "don't bother - you know that's only 20 cents right??"

So here's the thing - I think I need to switch to another credit card. I received NO notifications by phone, email or text about so-called suspicious activity. (You know the messages I mean - an unusual charge just happened with your credit card - if it was you please ignore this message, if it wasn't you please call immediately!) He couldn't believe that I hadn't received any such contact and did a search only to find I was right.  Stupid stupid man...

Have you ever encountered this problem? What am I doing wrong? Any recommended credit cards (remembering I live in Canad...) Grrrrrrrrr! The thought of having to switch cards irks me to no end!

Strange growths in Kilally Meadows!

After my daffodils popped up their heads we had a fair bit of snow and it got very cold again. I think they died as I don't see them now that the snow melted. Rats...

I've been checking almost daily but no activity in the nest yet. I thought I saw an osprey flying very high yesterday (I could see the wing shape) but it didn't go near the nest while I was looking. Soon!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Marching on....

I hate losing an hour. But I do like seeing the sun shine past 7pm - that was a treat yesterday. My daughter thinks spring is just around the corner..... if by corner she means the end of March then she could be right!! Until then we have lots of snow still in our forecast though on the bright side it'll likely melt quickly.
Kilally Meadows

Kilally Meadows
After going to our doctor, then sitting in emerg for 6 hours followed by another visit to our doctor Kazi was finally put on a round of antibiotics. She has been sick pretty much continuously since the Olympics started in February: extreme sore throat, body pain, fever, headache, congestion, cough etc. It has been a long hard slog but after taking 3 pills (not all at once!) she started feeling like her old self again. Or should I say young self. She missed a lot of work - first full days and recently half days BUT today marks her first full-time day at work in several weeks. What a flu season this year!! I really hope she's past it all now.
Kilally Meadows
Not a lot else going on around here - I've been on nurse duty all of this time and beside trips to the grocery store for SOFT food (yogurt, jello, broth, applesauce, popsicles etc) I haven't been doing a heck of a lot. When the weather has cooperated I've gone for long walks and went to my volleyball games. Last Thursday and Friday I spent mostly with my brother booking Airbnbs in Scotland which is quite the exercise in patience - accommodations are not easy to find in the highlands and we spent hours and hours searching and booking. We're pretty much set except for finding a spot in Glasgow for the final 3 or 4 days.

So what to do with my freedom today? Well I think I'll head to Kilally Meadows after doing my yoga. The sun isn't shining but I want to check the Osprey nest. They are due back by the end of this month though I've never personally seen them in March. But I won't see them if I don't check! I also want to see if all of the flooding has receded. When I was there last week most trails, maybe 75%, were no longer under water but the MUD - oh my!

Enjoy your day! Hope the sun is shining where you are. We are only 8 days away from the official first day of Spring!! Wheeeee!

Monday, March 5, 2018

All in a Woman's Day .....

We had a gorgeous day to march for International Women's Day! Here I am in Victoria Park with my friend Jules prior to the march. There were a number of speakers telling their stories - it was quite emotional. One woman who spoke is currently engaged in a sexual harassment case against the principal of the school she used to teach at. A fierce woman spoke out about her murdered best friend and how the police were extremely slow to respond due to the line of work she was engaged in. It was a complete travesty and just another of the endless horrific incidents in which women's rights are neglected, ignored trampled on and discriminated against!! It sickens me to my core...

As my father used to say....
there, but for the grace of God, go I...

Here we are taking over the streets of downtown London - a great turnout!!  My sign relates to the number of years I worked for The Royal Bank of Canada beside men doing the same jobs for more (much more) money than I earned. That's just the way it was and we lived with it.


Unfortunately I got a parking ticket, how ironic! They get it from you one way or another! I am disputing it so we'll see what happens.  And even more unfortunately when I got home Kazi looked like she was on her death bed. After 5 hours in emerg it seems you can get the flu more than once because of the various strains this year. Oh joy! So another round of chicken broth, jello and popsicles. I am washing my hands so much I'm running out of hand lotion! Too bad the Olympics didn't last a couple more it is she's watching every episode of "Friends" for about the 3rd time :) I'm keeping my distance...her symptoms are even worse this time around!

I sincerely hope y'all are feeling healthy!!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Marching on...

March 8 is International Women's Day!

I am celebrating by going to a women's march on March 3rd. My main interest is
"equal pay for equal work"! 

Sometimes it feels like no progress is being made when you consider how long women have been marching for something that should be a given. When I worked for the Royal Bank of Canada for 14 years I wasn't paid equally to the men working there in the same positions - the saddest part was I accepted that - that's the way it was!! My eyes are OPEN now and I realize how heavy the foot was that held me, and millions of women around the world DOWN!

And so I march on and on...

In other news...I have closed off February's budget and have set up my budget for March. I hope March isn't as spendy as January and February!!! I hope the money I put into savings this month stays there!
OH MY!! 
But the good news is my brother and I have purchased our flight tickets for September's trip. Money well spent as was all the money I have spent recently. Two new pairs of glasses, a very healthy Lily, memberships to & amazon renewed, invalid food, many household purchases made, car had it's semi-annual inspection & oil change etc etc etc! And let's not forget my big tax bill grrrrrrrrr!!

I've decided to pay my taxes with investment interest as those two items are linked together so it seems fitting: I benefited greatly with big, and I mean BIG tax refunds when Kazi was a dependent and I maxed out my RRSP account yearly. NOW I get to pay back those benefits - aren't I lucky?! Me and millions like me. I used to let that interest compound but now I am going to put that money to use.

 Any RRSP money not withdrawn by age 71 becomes a RIF and I'll be forced to withdraw a certain percentage annually. So from now on any tax payments I need to make will be covered by interest. It feels less painful when I look at it that way :)

That about wraps up the past week. Kazi is over the flu but has a couple of other health issues - she has a weird bump on one elbow and a similar one on a toe. A biopsy has been down and we're awaiting the results. Then yesterday she whacked her foot on a piece of furniture and is going for an x-ray and ultrasound - they're concerned about a blood clot as her calf was tingly all day yesterday. So I've checked my phone about a million times so far this morning hoping for some good news! Nothing...

The weather has been amazing - warm and sunny - helping the ground dry up. My daffodils and snow drops are emerging once again though I hear more snow is in our future.

Oh darn...

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, 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

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 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 - 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!