After many years of not putting up a full size-tree (partly due to it being just me, plus my cat may get overly curious), I decided to spring for a 5-foot artificial tree. I joined a Facebook group made up of people who collect vintage Christmas ornaments/decor a few weeks ago, and it's easy to get seduced by all the glam this time of year.
But I didn't want a plastic tree, and that's 90% of what's available if you're looking for artificial. I settled on a wrought iron tree that, since it's devoid of actual green branches, really shows off the ornaments themselves. I have a fair number of old ones collected over the years from my grandparents and other family, and I also have some precious handmade ones from my sister, mother and grandmother. They sat in boxes in my attic for years when I chose to make do with small, tabletop trees.
I've been living like a monk since late March, just so that when I get together with my dad, once a week, that I can rest easy knowing I'm not exposing him to any virus germs. I was going to only BJs, once every 2 weeks, for months, solely becuse they had early senior hours and very wide aisles, but more recently, I've discovered how wonderful it can be to avail myself of Stop & Shop's curbside pickup. I can't understand why they're willing to charge so little ($2.95) for this service; one of their workers still has to spend at least 20 minutes running around collecting all your groceries (which you order online) and then bring it out to you in your car. I absolutely love it and think it's worth every penny, and it means zero exposure for me, which is something I tend to get anxious about.
Still, when the pandemic has subsided, I doubt I will stick with Stop & Shop, since they are noticeably more expensive than Aldi's, BJs and Trader Joe's. But I could see where their service, if they continue it, could really be a godsend if I should ever have surgery, or even if i had a bad cold and didn't feel like walking through a supermarket. So far, they've been 100% accurate in filling my orders.
I'm still working at home, and word is that in my small company, the husband/wife owners have already sold their home and moved to an island where they regularly vacation. She is a very recent cancer survivor, and I think the pandemic may have pushed them to possibly fast-forward that part of their retirement plan.
So what this means for me is that I could be working remotely until my own retirement in 4 years. This would be wonderful. How I longed for this during much of my career! No more 40-minute drives, nice as they were (but not at night), and no more putting up with the total lack of acknowledgement that I can do a better job editing with some peace and quiet.
Plus, I have worked out a pretty sweet deal with my pay structure so now I earn a fixed weekly amount and have much better stability of income that I can plan around. Most weeks I earn the equivalent of about $65/hr although my official rate of pay is half that. Of course, I am tied to my home as I'm essentially on call, but there's much I can do of a personal nature while I'm waiting for the next assignment. These days I'm working about 10-14 hours a week but am "on the clock" for 3 full work days.
Yesterday I made my $7K traditional IRA contribution for 2020, and am still thinking about making a SEP-IRA contribution since with the change in my pay structure, I'm now self-employed. I may skip doing any backdoor Roth IRA conversons since that will increase my gross income and right now I'm happy to be smack dab in the 12% federal tax bracket as I just work part-time.
Christmas, like Thanksgiving, will be super quiet. I would like to plan a nice meal with a bottle of wine for just 3: me, myself and I. I will call a handful of friends and family, and hand-deliver some gifts for a local friend who lives nearby. Trying hard not to get depressed. If the weather's decent, I'll go for a walk.
Today the Northeast is gearing up for a pretty major snowstorm; we're expecting around a foot. I am somewhat better prepared for an extended outage, although that is not being forecast as the snow is expected to be light, not heavy. I have several phone power banks now and also sprung for a jackery 500 lithium battery bank with a bunch of plugs on it. Although it won't power a full-size fridge or microwave, it would let me stay in touch with the outside world during an outage with TV and charged phones, plus a few lights. Scattered around the house I also have 5 light bulbs with built-in batteries; they'll work for about 4 hours with no power, so you could conserve all but 1 til it runs out, then move on to the next, so you have something more than flashlight at night. I love little gadgets like that.
I did also recently purchase a "smart" scal to replace my rusting old one. The new scale syncs with its app on your smart phone and records your daily weight, BMI, bone density and more, then tracks it over time. Apparently, my old scale was off by 2 lbs.