Friday, February 27, 2009

An Ounce of Prevention

This new setup should prevent yesterday's unfortunate treadmill incident.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tip of the Day

When walking leisurely on your treadmill, do NOT hold your hardcover book near the controls. Your book may slip, hit the speed control thingy causing a great increase in your pace, and you may be flung from the equipment. There is the potential for injury and great embarrassment even though the only other being at home with you is the cat who wouldn’t be of much help if injury did occur.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Year Later

It’s been over a year since I smoked a cigarette, and next month will mark a year since I stopped taking Chantix. I still want to smoke every now and then, but I don’t because of the specter of Chantix reminds me of my not so pleasant experience with this drug.

It may have been a year since I stopped using the medication, but one side effect still rears its ugly head every now and then. Last night I had another Chantix dream. The rage that I experienced is gone, but the dreams always leave me with emotions that I don’t like. I have one of these dreams about every month and half.

Maybe they’ll be completely gone within the next year. I want all of my dreams to be senseless and the details forgotten within 20 seconds of waking like they were before Chantix.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Darn It!

I did it again! Today is our 43 wedding anniversary, and I forgot again. I have an almost perfect record of forgetting this important day since 1982 when I last worked outside the home. I did remember one year.

It's not that I forget exactly. It's just that I usually only have a vague idea of the date.

Thanks for reminding me, Jason.

The Pity Party Stops NOW!

After posting the entry before this one, I was hit with a wave of shame and guilt. Here I am complaining when the world is in such financial turmoil. I worry about losing our house if I had medical problems. At least our house is paid off. I worry about medical expenses when the problems are mostly of my own making. I should be able to at least stick to my diet and get on that hated treadmill every day to ameliorate the condition, hereditary factors notwithstanding. I shouldn’t complain about paying taxes when we have enough income to require the payment of taxes. I don’t have the worry of raising children as many who are losing their jobs do. We have a steady income in the form of SS unless the unthinkable happens.

I should count my blessings and try to change the things I can control. Then I have to learn that worry doesn’t solve any problem. In other words, I should stop feeling sorry for myself when others are so much worse off that we are.

The Financial Realties of Retirement

Since Mr. Fixit retired six years ago, I have been dealing with the financial realities of retirement. We are almost completely dependent on Social Security. Mr. Fixit has had to work part-time in order to get medical insurance for me. He, of course, is covered by Medicare and a Medicare supplement. His insurance costs are high, but manageable. The problem is that I am eight years younger than he so I have to wait to get Medicare. He is spending his retirement working instead of enjoying a much-deserved rest. During his full-time employment years, he worked all the over-time he could get when he was an hourly worker. After he became a salaried employee, he worked the same long hours with very little remuneration. It was seldom that he worked less than 50 hours a week.

At the beginning of the year, his current employer changed medical insurance carriers. The new coverage is a few dollars more a month and covers very little of the costs of my expensive medications and frequent visits to the doctor. In fact it only covers $75.00 of the almost $500.00 expense that I incur every month. Also since Mr. Fixit’s heart problem, he is taking a very expensive medicine. His Medicare supplement will only cover his cost if we first run it through his group insurance. The limits on that insurance are very low. If something happened that I had to go to the hospital, the limit would be met within two hours in the emergency room. Did I mention that the cost of his Medicare supplement almost tripled this year and they have the nerve to insist that his claim for prescription be submitted to the group insurance first? If we do that, that means that we have met the maximum amount for the month and I will have to pay for all my meds.

The only solution that I can see is dropping out of the group insurance and getting private, individual medical coverage. I have a feeling though with my pre-existing condition and my age, it will be hard to get coverage, and if coverage is available, the cost of the insurance probably will be over $1,000.00 a month. We simply can’t pay that.

In short, we are up the proverbial creek without a paddle. If we can just hang on for another year and a half, I will be able to apply for Medicare. But until then I don’t know what to do and the worry is getting to me. It seems that it’s all I think about, and I can’t find an answer.

Insurance is our biggest expense. We have to pay his Medicare, his Medicare supplement, the group insurance, house insurance, and insurance on two vehicles.

Then come taxes. There are house taxes, car taxes, income taxes, FICA, and sale taxes. To add insult to injury, if you have rolled over your 401K after retiring into an annuity as we did, you might be surprised to learn that the Federal government requires that you, after age 71, withdraw a portion every year and pay taxes on that money. Last year I began receiving my SS at age 62 and we had the money we had been forced to take from the annuity. As a result, this year for the first time, we have to pay several thousand dollars in income taxes instead of getting our usual hefty refund. The amount we must withdraw from the annuity will be used to pay income taxes. Somehow that doesn’t seem quite fair.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Tentative Product Endorsement

(The abbreviated version)

I hate to sew.

I messed up the hem in these jeans.

I found this fabric glue.

I glued down the hem.

The hem now lies flat.

The jeans have been washed once. Glue is still holding.

I would be careful using the glue on anything other than denim.

Anything that keeps me from having to use that ^&$#$@* sewing machine get a thumbs up from me.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Another Little Mystery of Life

Why do I forget to “Save” only long posts to my blog, never the little short ones? And why didn't "Word" save it as it's set up to do so that I could use Auto Recover?

Tomorrow I may post a very abbreviated “Tentative Product Endorsement" and send Mr. Microsoft a nasty little email detailing the shortcomings of his "Word" program.

Friday, February 13, 2009

And Now for the Local Weather

Punxsutawney Phil may have predicted 6 more weeks of winter but here in South Carolina, spring is just around the corner. (I thought the same thing last year and the year before when we had hard freezes after the trees and the spring flowers budded.)

This is the maple tree in the front yard

and a lonely little crocus in the midst of some winter detritus.

We’ve had a few days this past week with temps in the 70’s plus a few spring showers. Our lakes seem to be filling up a bit, but the Army Corps of Engineers has decided to resume draining our lakes to feed areas downstream. At one point you could walk almost all the way across Lake Hartwell.

I am sick of washing dishes only when the dishwasher is completely full and brushing my teeth rinsing my toothbrush in a paper cup instead of under a stream of water. I shouldn’t be complaining. The other day it rained and we had actual puddles standing in the yard. For the last year or so, the rain soaked into the dry ground so rapidly puddles couldn’t form.

While I hate the hot, humid SC summers, it's nice seeing the sun and not having to scrape the frost off the windshield in the mornings.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Educational Comic Strips

This morning when I was reading “Sally Forth” in the comics section of the newspaper, I came across a word that I had never seen before—koan. I checked my Webster’s: koan – in Zen Buddhism, a verbal puzzle put to a student as a means of enlightenment.

My first thought was, “Was I the only person who had to look for the definition?” My second thought was, “I hope I can work this into casual conversation soon.” I had to wait for years to use “djinn” in context.

The third thing that occurred to me was “There must be something seriously wrong with me if these are the kinds of thoughts that flow unfettered through my brain.”

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Time Keeps on Slipping, Slipping into the Future

Today while browsing through a sales circular from a major discount store, I was shocked to see the price of an ironing board--$29.95! I said to Mr. Fixit, “I need a new ironing board, but I never paid more than $15.00 for one.”

He said, “You haven’t bought one in probably 35 years.”

“No, I bought one a few years ago. It was right after we moved here. That would be about 25 years ago.”


I finally heard from my nephew in Kentucky today. Their electricity was restored yesterday. I was really worried about them because they have a new baby. They seemed to have "weathered the storm" okay. Thank Heaven!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Leg Cramps, Vocabulary, and Imagination

div>The worst way to be awakened is by the excruciating pain of a leg cramp. Actually, I suppose that the absolute worst way to be awakened is by someone yelling “Fire!” Yep, that would be worse than a cramp even if the cramp hurts so bad that tears are streaming down your face.

As I get older, the cramps in the calves of my legs happen more often and seem to be more painful than they were when I was younger. I have found a way to alleviate the pain quickly. Imagine the following illustration is my leg while I am lying on my back,side view. If you can imagine this is my leg, imagine it is my shapely leg. Thanks.

To stop the cramp, the following illustration shows that I flex my foot toward my knee, stretching the calf muscle, thereby stopping the cramp with very little soreness afterward.

This morning it didn’t quite work as planned. When I flexed my foot toward my knee, nothing happened; the painful cramp continued. I increased the pressure to stretch the muscle. The excruciating pain in my calf moved to the front of my leg. I actually felt it move. The pain extended from just below my knee to the tips of my toes. My toes were bent backward at an unnatural angle. When I tried to ease the pressure, I found my leg, ankle and toes were locked! Oh, the pain! As I lay in bed groaning and massaging my poor leg, a thought crossed my mind. “My gosh! If my leg and foot remains locked in this position, I will have to buy djinn shoes.” Finally, after about of 15 minutes of groaning and writhing in pain, my leg relaxed, and I am now able to hobble around. I won’t need the djinn shoes after all.

In case you’re wondering,this is what I imagine a djinn’s shoe would look like.

I have an imaginary djinn who is at my beck and call. He is exceedingly tall, dark, and handsome. He wears gauzy white pantaloons, a snowy white turban, an abbreviated vest encrusted with precious stones, perfect pearls, and embellished with embroidery done with golden thread. The little vest barely covers his chest and leaves his perfect six-pack exposed. His shoes are similarly ornamented as his vest. But I digress. (And you thought I only had fantasies of blowing loonies out of the left lane driving 45 mph in a 55 mph zone.)

It is distasteful to me to discuss my aches and pains, but this time it was absolutely necessary because I have never had the opportunity to use the word “djinn” in the course of normal communication. I just couldn’t resist.