Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Alone

This week, it’ll be fifteen months since I drove across the country to live alone.  I went from living in a fairly large house with a huge yard with two other people to living in an apartment with a patio by myself. In the middle of a pandemic.

And I am more content and (I believe) better off for doing so. I am not unaware of a study last year that said that seniors living alone had the lowest happiness score. I just don’t know very many people for whom that is true. It may well be that that particular study emcompasses a large number of people who are less mobile or less independent. But my experience is that among seniors with some semblance of independence, there is not just contentment at living alone but also happiness.

To be clear, the seniors I know who are happiest have very good friends or family, who live in some proximity to them. That 104 year old gal who lives upstairs? Her son drives her to Oklahoma so she can gamble once a week. But living near family is not the same as living with family. 

I do not know that I would have enjoyed living alone all my life. And I would certainly prefer my husband was around. But I lived happily alone for a long period before I was married and I married later as opposed to right after college. I lived alone after my husband died for two years (again with the exception of college kids home for the summer and others dropping by), and I was, if not happy (since I was still heavily grieving), content.

I enjoyed living with my sister and with my son, and that was an enjoyable time as well. But in truth I was alone an awful lot of that time. Both other parties were working and/or going to school full time. And while we always managed well, the pandemic showed me that we probably would not have had a workable living arrangement with two retirees in the house. We love each other but our lifestyles are very different!  I do need to admit here that my sister is struggling with no companionship now that I am gone and that is a guilt issue on some level for me. I’m hoping when she stops fully working that she heads my way, and finds her own little apartment or place).

But I am not lonely, and the advantages of living alone are at the front and center from my perspective right now. I am a “please God no background music or TV” kind of girl and enjoy silence most of the day. I can do dance aerobics in the living room without worrying about someone needing me to move to get to another space. I can rinse the dishes well and leave them in the sink and load the dishwasher once a day. Everything in the fridge is mine and I can drink out of the carton if I want. Or bottle.

Unless I am having company, my bathroom door is always wide open and the night light always on. I don’t have to have an intelligent conversation and a morning person doesn’t look at me askance if I don’t speak for two hours in the morning. The list is long.

Much of the above is meant to be humorous. But on a serious level, the only person I need to please, or even satisfy, is me. And I have all the control. From whether there is background music, to what is on the TV, to the temperature of the apartment, to whether I get dressed, to if there is a meal to be had.  I control who I see and who I socialize with and who I have as company, if I do. My space is MY space. It’s exactly how I want it, or at least a work in progress to get it that way. 

I have a social life at the level I choose, for the most part (I say for the most part because of the pandemic). And If I’m feeling hemmed in with no one to talk to, I call someone. Or I grab some knitting or a book or a journal and hit a local coffeehouse with comfy chairs. Where I can both write and chat with whoever else is around. I have both spiritual and emotional support through friends, family and church and don’t need someone living with me to give me that.

I am rarely bored at home, but if I am, then I plan an outing, go for a drive or a walk, or even yell out on FB and ask where I should go for lunch and who wants to meet me.

There are downsides to living alone, especially as I get older, for sure. Alexa doesn’t call 911, so I’ve considered getting a wearable device that does (that is not an apple watch because everything I own is a PC or android). At the height of the pandemic when all I could do was wave even to my neighbors, things were rough. But they were rough for the married folks who live here as well.

I said earlier that I get to decide, but I also am the one who always has to decide. Were I still living in a house, I would be more concerned about safety (especially as a woman) than living alone. Also if I lived in a larger home, I would be doing all the work and cleaning on my own. In a downsized apartment, this is less of a concern. And of course as a single person, I rely on only my income as opposed to sharing with a spouse or a roommate.

But the bottom line is that I enjoy my own company. I have more than enough interests in and out of the house to keep me busy. I have a social life and access to family when I want and need that. Because I’ve rightsized my living space, I can do everything I need to do for myself at home. And I can keep myself mentally challenged an aware online, taking senior college classes, or just challenging myself in various ways/

It’s what works for me now.

I’ve decided to plan a long trip in June or July. Probably Amtrak, but maybe a road trip along the gulf coast. Whatever the logistics are, I will make them work.

Oh. And at home kits by mail just went live for those of us in the US and I ordered mine today.







Friday, January 14, 2022

Frugal and Free Friday-Spending to Save

 

Time for some biiiiiggg needles!

Please note some new blogs on the sidebar, and that a few are m issing. Still working on this. Some folks took a hiatus or quit their blogs and some new folks have been added. Please check the blog roll while you are visiting. Also for some reason blogger is only showing the first ten and then you need to ask for more. This is new to me and I'm unsure if there's a fix.

I had hoped to take a drive today, but lousy sleeping last night has kicked that idea in the rear. I was falling asleep earlier and am having my second diet coke to pump up the caffeine. Said half an hour drive each way(on two farm roads to a lake)  will need to happen Sunday or Monday afternoon. Instead, I’ll perhaps walk (it is cloudy but seventy) or enjoy my patio. And because there was a discussion on the forums this morning about running out for burgers for lunch-after this I’ll be heading to Sonic to get a burger. And a cherry limeade.


Meanwhile, the frugal and the less than frugal.


  1. In the spend to save arena mentioned above, I spent 250 on groceries and vitamin replacements in an effort to do shopping every two or three weeks except for produce and milk. Already there are a few things I missed, which means I need to adjust my inventory checklist (trash bags, eyeglass cleaner). But any fill-ins will probably be done at either Target or Walmart where they bring it to my car.  Along with that spending, I also joined Walmart plus for $98 bucks a year. Except for the occasional drive thru to get something thrown in my trunk, I am fully on delivery now (unrelated to Covid) and delivery is ten dollars each time. Also with Walmart plus there is no minimum order requirement, a gas discount at Sam’s/Walmart gas station and if I decide to go in the store, I can scan and pay.

  2. I got my reimbursement for my $170.00 part B from my health insurance. I only get this for half the year, but it’s a nice benefit.

  3. Sam’s had a special where you could join for $19.00 (instead of sixty dollars) and get a free large roasted chicken and a flat of cupcakes. I am not sure as a single person if I will use Sam’s (if you are a single or a couple using either warehouse, please share!!). But the 19 bucks mainly paid for itself in the chicken and cupcakes and was worth trying. I am near a Sam’s but not a Costco.

  4. I was able to pull out everything I needed for all of the projects shown on Wednesday.  Yarn, needles, paints, canvas, fabrics, you name it. Which is why it’s worth buying them when they are on sale ahead of time. I still need (need not want) more acrylics and fabric paints, but on my own time!

  5. I took a break from all subscriptions except for those I share with other family members (I have Prime and Netflix, my daughter has Hulu and Disney Plus, and so on). I also kept Kindle Unlimited. For now all those British and European Channels, my Streaming Exercise Channel and the Great Courses are on hold. If I crave them, I’ll rethink.

  6. With the exception of one item, any spending this item was needed or with the goal of replacing disposables. I ordered a large number of dish towels and Swedish dishcloths with the goal of replacing paper towels and using one dish towel daily. We’ll see. I ordered NK95 masks, but who knows when they will arrive. And I ordered a two foot table top tree to use for seasonal decor. Oh, and tube socks for the homeless


As for the free, I need to put a shout out here about my Buy Nothing group on Facebook. I wish they were everywhere. While I’ve shared my vacuum goody with you, I also got my washing machine for free from someone who was upgrading. I have gotten fabric, a shelf, and a floor lamp. By the same token I have given away many things Including a good quality high end blender (my stick blender and hand mixer make up for it), my very heavy kitchen aid mixer that I was only using once a year and could not lift (I’m looking for a lighter version), craft items, Christmas decor and other things.


So now that I’ve unpacked them? Those bags of meat include (mainly but not all family packs): pork chops, bone in chicken thighs, boneless chicken thighs, beef stew meat, a large chuck steak, a large number of salmon filets, hamburgers, stir fry meat and sausage). That plus all the things to go with them should keep me for awhile. That soup will be made tomorrow when it’s 38 degrees and freezing for Texas.


Because comfort food.



Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Mainly Wordless Wednesday. New starts.

Projects I'm starting here in January after putting Christmas to bed. Not shown are my loom which I'm learning to string and those picture frames. Should keep me out of trouble. I hope.


Shawl to be done in blue yarn below.

Not the best picture grab, but three small canvasses to be turned into a painting grouping for the wall. 

T shirt quilt and Alice in Wonderland projectsp


I placed an extra large, huge actually, order for delivery assuming I might loose a third at least. I got everything on the list but lunch meat. My fridge is groaning and so is my wallet.This is just the meats. I left out the stew beef so I can make the soup shown that I found on Pinterest. Have yet to make this!




Monday, January 10, 2022

Monday Musings

 Random thoughts on a Monday evening


We were having a rousing discussion on the word “elderly” in a group I am in so I asked my therapist offspring if she thought I was elderly. She said yes, and that she occasionally describes me as such to people who don’t know me. According to the kid, by their definition it has to do with needing assistance. I probably need less than ten percent assistance (although I’m probably kidding myself) but still, there it is. I have absolutely no objection to the word, mind you. I was interested in the various perspectives.


Said kid works hard and has a husband and her own dog and fosters to care for, so  some weeks we only see each other for a few hours on Monday and some weeks not at all. We are also supposed to go to a nice dinner in the next couple weeks. But I am grateful for the help she gives the hour or so she is here. I got a washer installed but the hot water did not get turned on and I cannot reach or climb over the small space, so she fixed that. She also occasionally does a “move the furniture”vacuuming and says I don't need to hire someone that she will help (we’ll see). This week she pulled all the boxes out of storage so I could deconstruct Christmas and next week she will load them away. It’s the little things.


I’m not a planner but this year I’m thinking about making a list of all the projects creative and otherwise I want to do. I’ve tried in the past, and it hasn’t worked. But I’ve got two new hobbies, and the same amount of space so I also need to figure out the logistics of what things I can do at the same time, lol.


I’m not dismissing inflation in any way, but right now it's not knowing what will be in the stores that makes me crazy. I’m okay with substituting and making do but in my personal life it’s the supply chain stuff that’s honestly more irritating. This is probably partly because of my downsizing and I admit it. And the fact that I’m doing little travel. Electricity is cheap in Texas and that’s how I heat my house, my rent only went up twenty five dollars and my internet and phone remain constant. I know gas is up, but other than the occasional day trip I’m not yet traveling again. Obviously my thinking could change at any time depending on what happens.


Occasionally it takes a comment from someone else to give you that moment of clarity, you know. I mentioned to my daughter that one of the factors in my non-cooking (because the fact that I hate it and like to eat out) is that come four thirty or five at the latest my fibro and other issues kick in. The thought of cleaning up after cooking, even for just me, is exhausting. To which she commented “Just use the slow cooker in the middle of the day, freeze everything except for that night and then you just have to zap everything at dinner and leave the dishes to soak”. Out of the minds of -whatever.


We’re at that waiting so see if the shoe will fall when it comes to so many of the things going on around here. My quilt group has canceled and moved to complete virtual at least for this month. Church worship and activities are on track right now but we were told yesterday that our monthly eating get together may be canceled depending on the numbers. The senior center is requiring all masks and closed for a week but are now open. So as of today I am restauranting with people I know who are vaxxed and boosted and church stuff with the same. I’m not returning to hibernation, but I also did not make my weekly trip to a local wine bar to hear Irish music over the weekend. It’s tightrope walking, it seems.


It’s a few minutes before eight. That means I need to take a nice hot healing shower and knit or read. And decide if I need to scream at the television or cheer away. As the kids say, If You Know, You Know.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Frugal Friday

 Today I am deconstructing Christmas. I always keep my decorations up until the 12th night (or Epiphany). Today I will gather everything on the dining table and start the wrapping process, waiting for my darling daughter to come and lift those heavy bins into storage afterward.

This year, since I downsized to a table top tree, I am seriously considering leaving it up year around and making it for all decor. I kinda wish it was more white than green for that purpose, but I still see it working for me. To start I’ll put on mini lights and snowflakes and then move to either Mardi Gras or Valentine, I haven’t quite decided which.




Meanwhile, looking at the frugal and the less than frugal from the last week:


  • I was given a wonderful Dirt Devil Vacuum. When I moved in I got a carpet sweeper kind of thing that has served me well, but I needed something more. This was offered up on my buy nothing group since the gal has multiple animals and needed a “pet vacuum”. I grabbed it and will enjoy using it in my fully carpeted apartment. Especially since I won’t have to empty it every five minutes like my other version.

  • I did the paperwork to be reimbursed for my Medicare Part B. My insurance reimburses me for my Part B for the first six months of each year. They have not finished updating the platform for 2022, but I have downloaded my letter and everything I need so that I can upload my proof and be ready for them to reimburse me whenever they are active for this year.

  • I earned Health Rewards dollars for spending just a few minutes. Along with that my insurance has a health rewards program (they give me a card to use on qualified expenses like scrips, first aid items and so on). I earned 75 points or dollars by filling out my health information (7 pages) and biometric info. Yea for me.

  • I’m on a mission to lower my food bill without denying myself. So I made a two week grocery list, and I’m going to see if I can make the produce last for that long (I do have frozen everything as well). I’m aiming to do a fair amount of slow cooking and freezing in the short term so that I can cook without thinking in the long term. I’ve been eating stouffer's meals for the last few days due to my aversion to cooking and the sodium man, the sodium. Eating out is not part of my food budget. Although I am thinking about changing that.

  • I made an inventory list of every creative and DIY item on hand.  As I make my list of all the things I want to do and make in the coming year project, creative and entertainment wise, I want to finish projects on hand and use up what I have. To that end I made a massive list of those things on hand and what I hope to do with them, from tiny pieces of fabric to large quilts I am not happy with that can be cut down to other things. There’s no doubt I’ll be doing spending in this area, especially with two new creative outlets that need their own supplies. But it’s a start.

  • I’ve entertained myself and socialized  for free this week (if you eliminate the cost of annual subscriptions). Between the library, TV, items on hand for self entertainment, and onsite programs it’s been a mainly no spend week.

  • In a moment of false economy, I may have waited too long to purchase a need. To give full disclosure, I left my coat in Denton and even in Texas we need coats (albeit for only a few days a year). I decided I would wait until after Christmas to shop. Well, after Christmas shopping has left the coat inventory (at least coats I like or can wear) completely decimated. It does me no good to have coats on sale for fifty bucks if I can’t find a coat for me at that price.  Live and learn.


Locally, there is both a “Hot Chocolate” walk or trail in my town square this weekend, as well as a knitting get together. I’m not sure what will happen or if I’ll join in. I feel like we’ll know more about where we are with Omicron in another month, and that maybe I should hold off on most get-togethers until then. I did order NK95 masks, but they are taking a while to arrive.


My son seems to be holding strong although he says his head really hurts. He was due for a second Pfizer tomorrow so I guess that will have to be rescheduled but he should have antibodies for awhile. 


Today is tentatively a cooking day. I’ll make chili and cornbread and freeze some of both.


I’m impatiently waiting for the warping thread I ordered so I can play with my loom.


For those who have read the book and follow these things, it looks like they are now going to make a limited mini series of Devil in the White City.  Starring Kenau Reeves.  I can see it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Apartment-alizing

One of my “project” goals for the new year is to get things up on the walls and shelves of this apartment. I mean, it’s been a year. Especially in this large blank area. When I first moved in my son in law hung a few large paintings on the wall and I have a few hangers for small quilts. But especially since the walls are now white instead of turquoise, there is a need to do some wall filling and decorating.



Part of the delay was simply not knowing what I wanted to do. I also still haven't found the perfect larger wall piece to replace the “bakers rack” I am using against this wall. So now I  am now looking for a couple less than perfect ones to replace the shelves I dragged along. Meanwhile though, it’s time to do the decor thing, leaving wide space for where I believe any new wall units will sit.

My hope/goal is to do these as much as possible with things on hand. I always keep my eyes out for affordable art, especially large pieces or those in sets. But I now have some of my own art work and am creating more (I guess some kind of a show is due soon). I have many, many good pictures both of family and places visited that I can order in larger sizes to frame as needed. I have quilts of all sizes and really want to install one that is fairly large on a wall (and perhaps change it out seasonally). I also have at least four or five pen and ink watercolor sketches of various places visited (some more colorful than others). And there are some mini quilts worthy (in my opinion) of frames.

My plan is to use what I have and re-use what I have and see where that gets me.  To start, I ordered a good set of quilt hangers and will have my son in law install them if need be when they arrive (they may just use nails). For my quilty readers, I much prefer this alternative to a dowel and or a curtain rod installation on my wall. For one thing, I don’t then have to make hangers or tabs on all my quilts). 





Then I decided I wanted to make “picture displays" on two walls. I’m still working on what will go in them.  I pulled all of my picture frames already on hand and decided that I wasn’t concerned if the two sets of frames matched exactly, but just if they were dark, light, or medium wood, since my aesthetic in life tends to be the imperfect and mixed and not matched one. Some of my picture frames have been damaged in the various moving processes.  I was able to order both replacement glass and sets that had replacement glass and the backing as well.

In some cases these may be close to the price of the original frames, but hey, I simply can't see throwing out good frames if they can be repaired and used in some fashion. My goal for the year is to be as sustainable as possible. In fact I foresee Frugal Friday and/or Thrifty Thursday becoming about sustainability as much as money in the long run.

So that's the plan as of today. We'll see how much if any I need to change it going forward.

I’m also throwing some new pillow covers together (which did require some small fabric purchases to get the colors I wanted to use). And coverings for my coffee and side tables.

In other news, my 32 year old son has Covid. Even though he’s been vaxxed (not boosted, that appointment was scheduled for the eighth) via J&J, uses a mask at work, masks to the table when he goes out and went to a Christmas event where everyone else was masked. He has an app and he got texts about exposure. So far he seems to be doing okay although he says he feels like he was hit by a truck.

Our local activities on site and through other organizations slowed down during the holiday week and are not back to normal yet. When they become so I will go out but continue to be cautious. This week I might have lunch and a knitting group, depending. I did order NK95 masks but they are not arriving until the 20th so I may need to check Amazon and see their turnaround. My daughter suggests purchasing an at home kit or so, but honestly I am not sure I could do it properly. We’ll see.

Today I hope to get close to an hour of exercise in, even if it’s divided up multiple times throughout the day!

Friday, December 31, 2021

Happy New Year. And Some Upcoming Goals.

 And so we enter 2022. In my case with trepidation, a little hope and a lot of prayer that this will not be a  “Groundhog Day” year.

Personally I will be welcoming in the new year (if I’m awake that is) in my pjs while snacking and watching TV or reading. Following that, I’ll be staying fairly close to the old homestead. The Omicron variant, some drastic weather changes (21 degrees this weekend after eighty degrees) and a car glitch that can’t be fixed for another week will keep me in place.


While I need a certain amount of socialization, one of the things I am always thankful for (gotta start up those thankful posts again) is that I have enough interest and materials and books and projects to keep me busy and rarely bored at home.


That plus an environment where I can get out and walk MOST days of the year, plus living in a community with a few regular weekly activities (and everyone mainly vaxxed) has kept me sane since the move.


 

My new loom. It's gonna be a learning experience!


Moving on to that goal thing, I’ve been working on my 2022 goals (and budget) in preparation for waving goodbye to 2021 (with joy I tell you, with joy). I also need to make my annual project goals, house goals,and I’m going to go ahead and make my travel/day trip/out of the house list.


The latter may be spitting in the wind, but “think positive and adjust as needed” has become my new motto of sorts.


As always these goals are moving targets and probably need to simmer a little while, but for now these are my tentative goals for the year.


I expect some of these goals will need some fine tuning, as always. And this year for the first time, I want to break some things down into monthly goals as well. Who woulda thought?


Health

  • Really work on my diet in terms of healthy eating

  • Increase my exercise to an hour at least three days a week, whatever kind

  • See a pain doctor and take whatever he gives me in whatever form

  • Do self care for pain (massage my pain areas, take supplements, use heat and cold and so on)

  • Do all of the appointments and tests in a timely manner

  • Meditate at least ten minutes five days a week.

  • Get new glasses and new dentures (oh joy)


Financial and so on (more to come here, this category is not yet complete, I’m thinking)

  • Increase savings and create a large sinking fund (mainly for the car)

  • Write/fill out new documents. My will/durable power of attorney/medical directives are almost ten years old


Community

  • Up my monthly commitment to church and charity financially

  • Create one item from things on hand for others at least once a month (I’m supporting a graduating foster kid program and a homeless shelter)

  • Commit to one out of the house, in person volunteer task for the coming year


Family

  • Continue to do one thing or buy one thing for each kid each month. Just because

  • Try and get up to Denver in February for a birthday or in the spring depending on my car and other variables (waving to brush fires and Omicron)

  • Have a conversation with my eldest in addition to the above paperwork about what I won’t (or more likely don’t want), as well as how to access what little she needs to access in my case..

  • Plan a small family trip or event for the four of us (looking at the end of the year, but perhaps this summer)

  • Help my son into in person therapy now that’s possible.


Personal/Enrichment/Brain/Creative (what a mish-mash)

  • Take an Olli class each semester (either in person or digitally).

  • Learn 4 new skills, 2 of which are non creative/artistic

  • Socialize at least once a week in person apart from church events and weekly grilled cheese if it is safe.

  • Make a project goal list that is all things I want to do except for immediate family gifts

  • Plan one day trip monthly, and two real vacations (aside from the family thing above) one of which will be an Amtrak trip

  • Read 20 books that are classic, biography or nonfiction and not related to my art

  • Allow myself to return to doing nothing as often as I feel the urge. This past year I’ve had to remind myself at times that doing nothing has value and there is no prize for getting more done or making more things or even going no places. I will NOT be making daily lists or goals except to fill in my calendar. I’ll use my project goal list which I’ll keep in the studio. But my only things  I will commit to doing exercise, eating right, praying and texting my kids each day. That is all.


Spiritual

  • Read the Bible in a year again using a study bible  and doing it from a social justice perspective (I have books to go with this)

  • Go to the study in between the services at my church at least half the time I attend

  • Practice “centering prayer” either in the morning or evening


And finally I have one overarching goal that I really can’t put anywhere else, because it affects different things. And that is sustainability, sustainability, sustainability. I want to be about no waste, using up, and re-use. In my art, in my cooking, in anything I do. Sustainability is my new rule, and I’ll talk about that later.


And that’s all I’ve got, but at least it’s a place to start. Hope everyone has a Happy New Year, and I’ll see you all in a day or two on the other side.


!
My daughter me all these earrings plus some others from the jewelry supplies she gave me a couple years ago. I wear earrings, big earrings, even at home in jeans so I am thrilled!