Thursday, January 26, 2012

How's Your Economy Working?

Even us uber frugal people reach our limit at times. Today was mine.
We needed propane. We had 200 gallons delivered at a cost of $608 including tax. A year ago when we filled the tank (450 gallons) it cost $1.69/gal. Today is was $2.849/gal.

Then we call in a refill for Sweetie's nebulizer med. His COPAY on one script was raised by $41.00!

Next, we get a notice on our car insurance. It's going up too so we dropped the truck insurance for the second time in six months.

His Social Security raise was $20.00.

Tell me please, what is wrong with this picture?

We seldom leave the house because we can't afford gas for the 1996 Ford Crown Vic with 130,000 miles on it. Gas receipts for December came to $63.45. That's for a month, not a week or a few days. This month we've spent $43.25 and have 1/4 tank left.

Summer property taxes are overdue. Get turned over to the county Feb. 28th I think. With interest it's only $198 and change but that's not the point. The winter tax bill will be due soon too.

We have concluded we'll have to keep selling stuff (as long as we can find buyers) just to pay taxes and hold a bit back. Last night I sorted garden seeds & cleaned pots. I'll plant inside April 1st. unless by some miracle we're gone by then.

I have absolutely no confidence in any fix for the financial mess in this country & little hope that we'll have golden years. I shake my head when I hear of shootings, robberies, rapes, drug & alcohol addiction, abuse and believe it will only get worse.

Today, two people stopped by for our indoor yard sale. I made $4.00. Woopie!

They told someone else & that guy pedaled a bike here. His truck motor had blown up so he looked at our truck. We've had three lookers & nine calls. Everyone wants to "work some kind of a deal" or have us cut the price in half.
Another sign of the times.

I don't listen to the presidential debates. It's a dog & pony show & no matter who the next president is it won't improve my life much. No wonder people are disillusioned.

We sit home grateful to have TV, internet & a pantry of food and we still get robbed a little more every month. For what?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hope & Synchronicity Keep Us Going

Not a day goes by that Sweetie and I don't mention our move to Florida. Whether it's a comment on the weather, the opportunities to travel throughout the state by boat or the latest items we've listed on Craigslist, our minds seem to run on parallel tracks.

We have centered our search in the Inglis/Yankeetown area due to the small town offerings, the Withlacoochie River and the relatively inexpensive prices compared to Fort Myers/Alva. In our dream of dreams, we'd still like to land a waterfront house NOT a mobile home. To do either we'll need a great move of God, a winning lottery ticket or an anonymous donor. But, we believe in the impossible so time will tell.

If any of you happen to know of someone in the Dunnellon/Yankeetown/Inglis area who own waterfront on the river or Lake Rousseau and may be interested in a private sale or a Michigan home, please send them our way.

The phone's been ringing the past couple days as we list things in the pole barn. Our unseasonable weird weather goes from snow to rain to wind to ice and sleet and cycles all over again. On day school's cancelled & most people have sense enough to stay home. The next day everyone seems to be hitting the highway at the same time when the weather breaks. We had 5" of snow on the ground yesterday followed by rain, lightening and thunder. Today we have rain, fog and no snow but icy tracks on our gravel road. More snowfall is forecast tonight.

I end each day thanking God for our life, our joint venture and dream of that two bedroom, one bath waterfront home we have our eye on. Just the right size, a screened lanai, carport, storage shed, dock and quiet neighborhood. And FURNISHED.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Best Laid Plans

Rain most of the day so no snowshoeing.

Our two orange tabby cats pulled a fast one on me today: Slick, the male, stayed inside all afternoon snoozing. Milo, the female went out this morning and hasn't returned.

I spend the day reading & cooking and thought it was Milo on the sofa because she's the one who prefers being inside.

Checked their food dish outside & none had been eaten. Sweetie thinks Milo is visiting across the street. I hope so.

Made peach crisp instead of apple crisp today. About to enjoy a piece with a cup of tea.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Time to Mix Things Up!

No time like the present to stir the pot; mix things up; add a little flavor; risk a new venture; let go of things that no longer hold purpose or my heart and create a life that is more in tune with ME.

I excel at caring for others. Meanwhile, my needs go on the back burner where the water evaporates, the pan burns and the fire alarm doesn't go off because the batteries are dead.

Just when I think my plate's full and I've earned a nap on the sofa, along comes a cart full of ingredients with appealing colors, texture, taste and calories to whet an appetite I didn't know I had.

Instead of peanut butter and jelly, I've tried peanut butter and banana. Finding that bland and predictable, I tempted my taste buds with peanut butter, apple slices and hickory smoked bacon - on homemade wheat bread. Now, that's living.

So why not expand my palate? Why not get up at 7 a.m. even if I went to bed four hours earlier? Why not set the alarm clock, slip into my old thermal sweatsuit, wear two pairs of socks, dig out my snowshoes, grab my gloves and flashlight, hook my water bottle on my fanny pack & make bear paw patterns in fresh snow on the field next door?

Why sleep in late, drink the same coffee, eat the same yogurt, sit in the same chair & read the same blogs & newspapers that I have every day since I don't know when?

Looking back, I can see how I got to this point. Physical ailments, emotionally drained, caring for a dying dog, broke, discouraged, frustrated, wishing a few things would "work out" that I really had no control over. It seemed easier to not get dressed, not go anywhere, read online or turn pages of a real book, eat and sleep and shower whenever I felt like it. Drop out of groups, stop talking to most people, just veg out and hit the rewind button the next day.

My life has become like my elderly friend. The same grocery list every week. The same TV dinners and Jimmy Deal sausage & gravy breakfast bowls. Six plain donuts and six raspberry filled bismarks. Once a month a new container of Folgers and two bags of chicken strip dog treats for John-John. Five bananas, six oranges, half gallon of vitamin D milk, one dozen eggs, one loaf of white bread, Koegel's ring balogna and a package of Kraft sharp cheddar cheese. No wonder she spends he day gossiping on the phone and listening to the police scanner.

This down time's been a necessary detour; a time to recuperate, regroup and re-commit to certain choices.

All I know right now is, life continues and I want to live, not exist.

And I want to do it on my terms. I need to nourish me because I feel time is escaping my grasp. I've done something I've done a million times in my life. I've bought the low priced version or skipped it all together and told myself I didn't really need it.

I've let someones habits, choices, opinions and lifestyle determine mine. And it's not healthy.

So, I can't say when you'll hear from me again. Maybe next week, maybe next month. It's me time and I desperately need it.

Thanks for stopping by, Treesong

Sunday, January 15, 2012

It's a Cat's Life

With the passing of Lady, our three cats have done their best to ease the pain with humor!

The first picture is Kitty Kitty who I rescued when we lived in Kalkaska. This is the look she gave me when I asked how she like her new companions. The second photo is Slick, a male who was here when we bought this place but originally lived across the road. The third photo is Milo. She was originally the previous owner's cat.

Many years ago Milo and Slick switched homes. Milo moved to a barn where other cats lived & four of them were fed at the owner's back door. The remaining cats were ferel & most lived short lives.

Slick came here and ran off any competition, He earned his name for his ability to get out of tight spots while constantly teasing three dogs.

A few months ago Milo began visiting every day & eventually decided to stay. I estimate she's about 8-10 years old and I suspect she'd had her fill of the competition, cold weather and antics of younger cats.

When she first spotted Lady, she ran for cover & wouldn't come inside because she knew Lady was laid just inside the door. Eventually she realized Lady could no longer walk and even curled up next to Lady during the last month of her life.

I was determined to bring Milo & Slick inside and domesticate them. The onset of winter and their advancing years has convinced them it's a great idea. Yesterday, both cats refused to go outside. Each has claimed their favorite resting place, depending on the time of day.

Meanwhile, Kitty Kitty is waging war. Vicious at first, subtle now. When one cat moves, the others follow. It's like musical chairs with the litter box, food dishes, sleeping spots and cuddle time with me and Sweetie.

About 6 a.m. I woke up to loud meowing. It was Milo pacing the kitchen floor. I thought she wanted to go outside & promptly opened the door. She practically cemented herself the the floor and stared in fright at the prospect of stepping on snow & being cold. Of course, I shut the door & told her to make up her mind. She began the same loud meow; I opened the door again, picked her up & placed her on the deck. Looking through the door window I saw her stand motionless for about a minute, then do a 180 degree jumping turn and beat the heck out of the door with her front paws. Nasty me opened the door and she skidded across the kitchen floor, landing beneath the Hoosier cabinet.

I got back in bed & she began meowing again.

Up I get again, cursing beneath my breath. I know cats understand English because I asked very directly, "What in God's name do you want?"

She glared at me, turned around and walked to her litter box. I followed like the obedient owner I am & found her kicking it with her right front paw.

I bought a huge, deep litter box that holds one 40# bag of litter and all the cats use it while ignoring the old, smaller box. Her message was: Clean the box!!!

I sift the litter 2-3 times a day but apparently need to do it just before bedtime. After doing her business, Milo jumped on the bed, crawled along my side and licked my face!

Three hours later, I woke up and found Kitty Kitty laying across the entry to our bedroom. Milo was curled up across the entry to our bathroom at the opposite side of the room. Slick was stretched out at the foot of our bed.

Soon, all three cats sprung from their spots and tumbled through the air with fur flying. A chorus of meowing and screeching joined Sweetie's snoring as he slept through it all.

When the fur settled each cat had moved counter clockwise to the same locations and peace reigned for another hour. Once Sweetie woke up, they dash ahead of him to the bathroom where he asked them to move so he could enter. They parked themselves almost single file outside the bathroom then sprang for the living room when he stepped from the bathroom. I got his coffee while he sat in his recliner. Each cat picked a seat, one on the other recliner, another on the sofa & one in my wing chair.

We'll have entertainment all winter as three adult cats share our 900 square feet.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

R.I.P. Lady

Sweetie put Lady down about 1 p.m. today.

It's been planned for awhile but that didn't make it any easier. He's had her 11 years and I've shared in her love and care for nearly five years.

The house seems empty tonight. We stare at the spot on the living room floor where she laid. Gone from the floor at the foot of our bed is her quilt covered in towels and blue pads. I've washed her dishes, quilt & towels & placed them in a yard sale bag. The nearly full bag of dog food will be given to a friend tomorrow.

Our three cats wander from living room to bedroom sniffing where she used to lay.

Today I tossed a package of chicken gizzards in the grocery cart, took a couple steps, then realized I don't need them. I stood there and cried while people stared.

Her grave's been dug for weeks and we've delayed the inevitable. With a winter storm looming & Lady totally incontinent the last 28 hours, we had to let her go.

Sweetie took a load of aluminum scrap to the junk yard and Lady rode with him. I had the feeling he'd park next to her grave when he returned. He did as I expected then came inside for an inhaler.

I walked to the car, opened the door and laid next to her for one last hug. I couldn't bear anymore so I went inside. The car blocked my view but not the sound. Every few shovels of dirt Sweetie straightened up, wept and used his inhaler. When finished he came in & we held one another and cried until the tears dried.

My daily routine was consumed by either caring for Lady or thinking about her. Now that she's gone I feel adrift and tired. The emotional and physical toll needs time to heal.

It's said that a dog is man's best friend. Lady was that and so much more.

Indoor Yard Sale

I invited all my local friends & acquaintances to our all winter long indoor yard sale.

Kind of strange to have people walk in, sort through piles and me point out that most of everything else is for sale too.

As long as we have a bed, the TV and a couple chairs to sit in, the rest is fair game. Already have a few pieces reserved for pick up later.

This must be the right path because I've packed five plastic storage containers with stuff we're taking & only have a set of dishes, pots & pans & silverware & our clothing to go.

Have two people interested in buying though unable to do so now. I told each we may still be here next fall so they have time.

My letting go, nonchalant attitude sure is stress free!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Upside of Procrastination

In this household it's easy to see the results of procrastination. Work delayed means more work later. Decisions delayed sometimes result in better choices or paying less for something because the price drops, or discovering that a problem with the car was a misdiagnosis.

And then there's my reaction to procrastination - which is generally Sweetie procrastinating and me doing something on my own. Which may be what he's counting on.

And then the cycle of late has been for me to follow his example. I've resorted to soups, sandwiches, casseroles and even cereal or eggs. Saves on work, money to replenish stuff in the freezer, dirty dishes and me getting dressed to go out.

Procrastination has saved a bundle on gasoline and laundry too. The car gas tank was filled 3 weeks ago. The tank registers 3/4 full. Gas then was $3.24. It was $3.89 yesterday.

Instead of three loads of laundry a week, I've done one. I last got dressed on Jan.5th

We have money left in the checking account - which we may need if the land contract payment doesn't arrive on time again this month.

Even the mail has been left to accumulate for three days before one of us goes outside to get it.

His procrastination is rubbing off on me big time.

Friday, January 6, 2012


My dear man has it bad. He's so wrapped up about selling out, driving to Florida & living on a boat I'm concerned he may just forget the first part & take off in the car.


He had a dermatology appointment in Lansing this morning & said, as he walked out the door, "I could just keep driving south & be there by Sunday morning."

I really wanted to say, "Go ahead & I'll take care of things here."

He knows we have much to accomplish before we land in Florida but he sits here hour after hour either searching Yachtworld and Craigslist or calling marinas. This afternoon he called marinas from Panama City to Naples!

The economic challenge of this venture has hit home: live aboards who traditionally rent a dock with water, power and other features spend anywhere from $450-1,200 a month before ever buying fuel, groceries, bait, repairs, etc.

In other words, we can't afford it. We'll have to "live on the hook" tying up at free public marinas to quickly resupply or befriend a private dock owner who will rent cheaply enough that we can handle it.

I think the whole round of phone calls today bummed him out big time. He's napping now. Hopefully that helps his mood.

Meanwhile, I'm still searching the ads & listing items on Craigslist. Had my first sale today: $125 for two antique bowls.

Blessing to all of you, Treesong

Monday, January 2, 2012

From Dreaming to Doing

So we decided to sell everything; drive to Florida; find a boat & move aboard.

Since making the decision, we've immersed ourselves in our goal to the point that any schedule we did follow has evaporated.

The last time we were so immersed and excited by something was probably the day we met!

In formulating plans, we at first said things like: "Next spring we'll need to hold yard sales & advertise on Craigslist, etc."

So much of what we need to do was placed in the future.

Today I thought, why not start clearing out STUFF now? I posted on Facebook, placed things on Craigslist and sent out a few emails.

Sure, lots of people have spent their money on Christmas or have property tax bills coming due. That doesn't mean there are no buyers, just fewer. If we can unload things piece by piece instead of prepping for a number of outdoor sales, I think it will be less stress.

The key will be consistent steps over the long haul. And managing the money we collect. We have some debt so that's the first place it will go. We have two properties to unload and these will likely be our greatest challenge.

So all you folks in blogger land, if you know of anyone looking for a 14-70, 2 bed, 2 bath, mobile home with pole barn on five acres between Grand Rapids and Lansing, Michigan, PLEASE send them my way. Extensive remodeling/weatherization has been done. GREAT neighbors. Gravel road that's 6/10 of a mile from M-21 the east/west across most of the state. We have great grocery store, gas station, elementary school, post office, bank, bar, barber/beauty shop and library within 2 miles.

Selling clothing, books, Charles Wysocki puzzle collection (80), tools, bass boat with motor, old Elgin & Johnson motors, golf cart, fabric, dishes, pots/pans, antiques, furniture, chainsaws, acetylene torches/tanks, and a zillion other items.

If you're on the Gulf (preferably Florida), we're looking for a seaworthy 40-44' trawler with galley/salon combination (less steps that way, two berths, 1-2 heads, AC/heat, generator, swim step, dinghy and flying bridge preferred. I look at Yachtworld and Boat Trader DAILY but perhaps there's a suitable vessel sitting around that is not listed. Or someone who has one but hasn't been too serious about selling. The lower the price, the more it catches our interest. We've found a couple in the $35-$49K range & that's where we feel comfortable.

No trips to the Bahamas or the Great Loop are planned. We're simple, laid back, frugal people who just want to free ourselves of any mortgage, lawn care, snow, property taxes/insurance and anchor or cruise at our own whim.

Well, I've said enough. I think it's time I actually did something around here today! Happy New Year to all of you. Treesong