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 Any RRSP money not withdrawn by age 71 becomes a RIF and I'll be forced to withdraw a certain percentage annually.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!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Big Decision Made

I've been wavering back and forth and forth and back on the number of trips to take this year. It's a tough decision considering all of the places I'd like to revisit or visit anew. It's not that I can't afford to travel - it's just that I feel most comfortable having a certain amount of a savings "cushion". Last September when I bought the Honda Civic I paid cash out of my savings accounts - mostly my TFSA. That was on top of the expenses to travel to British Columbia, Bracebridge and Scotland.  So while I am still above my cushion amount now I might not be if I took two major trips this year plus I am looking forward to going to PEI this year as well as Bracebridge once again. My daughter would like to see both of her aunts again this year.
Hiking to China Beach

Mystic Beach

Sun setting on Vancouver Island

Hiking along Loch Lomond

Ferry - Loch Lomond

Family time in Bracebridge
Therefore - I am putting off B.C. this year and going to Scotland for 3 weeks sharing expenses with my brother, plus making visits in Canada sharing costs with Kazi. That will allow me to reimburse my savings account by $1200 per month. By this time next year I'll be able to plan several trips without the anxiety associated with using up too much of my savings.

I think everyone has that magic number that makes them feel comfortable. I didn't really have one when I was teaching but now that my ability to save is a lot lower than when I was working it takes a while longer to build up or rebuild a nest egg. And living on one income is a factor also.

On the bright side I will have the time to ride my bike to Kilally Meadows every day and document the spring wild flowers and birds. I'll need to be in really good shape to keep up with my brother in the Scottish Highlands! He's a lot taller and has a much longer stride than I do.  I estimate my costs for the 3 week trip to Scotland to be around $4,700-$5,000 though I have given myself a large misc fund to cover emergencies, as well as spending money, food, accommodations, rental car, gas, tour fees, ferries and so on. I hope to come in way under budget....she says optimistically!

Do you have travel plans for 2018??