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Goings on

November 16th, 2019 at 11:51 am

Sitting here enjoying a hot cup of Assam tea. I was going to rake leaves today, but darn, it's cold.

Well, I finally saw the bear! Not in my own yard, but in the center of town where we have a nice paved walking trail that goes through woods and open meadow, and where our municipal center, senior center, community center and sports complex are, among other things, like a new brewery opening soon.

I got on the trail and ran into my neighbor with her beagle, and we walked together a while until we parted company. I wanted to go see the photo exhibit at municipal center and she continued on the trail.

A short time later, I had returned to my car and was talking on the phone with a friend when I caught something fairly large, black and fluffy running in my rear view mirror. I craned my head around to see what it was, and there it was: a small black bear romping across the mown ball fields.

I later learned my neighbor ran into some other dog walkers who already encountered the bears near the meadow. I am guessing the bear was somewhat spooked by the people and their dogs, because it was running at what I would describe as a slow gallop, looking unsure about where it was going and probably feeling a little ill at ease being so exposed and in an open area.

It ran past my car, then headed down the busy road, and without pausing for a second ran into the roadway; luckily it wasn't hit, and I watched it as it scooted under a metal guard rail fence and then behind the Parks & Rec building. The rear of the building looks to be mostly fenced in as there are several very large mounded hills of I-don't-know-what there, but if the bear made its way out of there, it would have found the state horse guard stables and, beyond that, the woods and Pootatuck River.

The last two weeks at work have been slow, and I only worked 10 hours each week.

I've begun thinking about Christmas shopping, and bought my animal-loving cousin a 2020 calendar featuring topless Australian firefighters posing with various Australian wildlife; it's a fundraiser, and I thought she would get a kick out of it.

I also spent an enjoyable hour or so browsing gourmet goodies at YummyBazaar.com, where I wound up ordering some interesting preserves: gooseberry, black currant and lingonberry, plus some fried herring for my father (can we say "Eew?")

I made my first app purchase for my iPhone recently: a year's subscription to Calm, which features a variety of meditation and destressing audio clips. I've gotten into the habit, believe it or not, of having someone read a bedtime story to me using this app. I always end up asleep before the end of the story, which is what you're aiming for. Last night I chose Gulliver's Travels, which I remember reading as a kid.

I've also been really enjoying the free audiobooks on the phone too, via Overdrive. I just finished "Educated," by Tara Westover, which was a riveting memoir of a homeschooled woman growing up in a survivalist family in the backwoods of Idaho.

This morning I made a great pumpkin pie with my own homemade crust (ground walnuts, tahini and maple syrup). I also made my own yogurt, which is now resting in my off oven with just the light bulb on, presumably so the probiotics I added will grow in the next 48 hours.

I've been enjoying the small ritual of brewing my Harney & Sons loose tea since making the trip with dad to their tea tasting place.

Last week I started trying to calculate what my RMDs would be at age 70.5 after deducting from my traditional IRAs the cost of 1) an immediate lifetime annuity I've been thinking of getting at age 65, just to cover "some" of my essential expenses. I like this idea because it would remove a portion of my assets, which are nearly all invested in mutual funds, out of the stock market and better manage my risks, especially in a recession and 2) after living on savings (traditional IRAs) between the ages of 65, when I plan to fully retire, and 70, when I plan to start collecting Social Security. I haven't finished the calculation and need to get back to it, but as usual, I am pulled in a hundred directions. Anyway, I have many years to figure this out. No rush!

Of course, if a Democrat gets elected president and delivers on some kind of radically different health insurance in this country that isn't tied to employment, I would definitely consider stopping work sooner. There is a certain comfort or security level that comes from still working and earning enough to cover just my ongoing expenses, but there are also things I'd like to do besides work, and I'm not getting any younger.

Going on a starvation diet til year-end

October 31st, 2019 at 12:58 pm

Every month I calculate what my monthly income/expenses were, and so I've known since May that my totals were in the red, and growing worse each month.

Year-to-date, my spending has exceeded income by $8,700.

By year-end, my expenses should still come in at around $40K, give or take; my only remaining big expense this year is the 2nd payment of property taxes at over $3,000.

No, what's really caused this problem is my income is lower than projected. On most weeks, I get in a little shy of the 20 hours minimum I wanted to get: usually 17, 18 or 19 hours. And that, over the year, is enough to make a difference.

Am I overly worried? No, I have plenty of cushion. It's just that I am disciplined and don't like to see things slip. So, for the remainder of the year, I'll be going on a self-imposed spending diet to try to reduce that $8,700 in the red to something not quite as alarming. If I could cut that number in half, I'd feel considerably better.
After the fun trip to the tea company last week, someone told me about a tea company very close...like 15 minutes...to where I live! It might be worth a visit, although they do tea tastings only on Saturdays, and I dislike crowds.

There have been more bear sightings in my neighborhood. My next-door-neighbor, in fact, sent a photo in to the local paper of a bear across the street. So, umm, yeah, one of these days I expect I'll see a bear with a combination of fascination, awe and alarm.

I have continued to sell small things on Facebook Marketplace; it's almost like a hobby. And unlike most people, because I sell stuff primarily to "declutter," not to make money (although of course I do make some), I tend to prices things lower than most sellers, and consequently, they sell pretty quickly. People seem to be most grateful.

Along with selling unwanted possessions, I've also been trading flower seeds with friends, family, at a seed swap at the library, and through the mail with people in my Facebook groups. I am now well stocked!!

It's been a rainy, dark day all day long. I'm afraid the kiddies won't see any improvements by nightfall as the winds now are already picking up and we'll see gusts north of 40 mph. A scary Halloween indeed.

Yesterday at work the boss treated us to a free lunch at a nearby bodega. I took half of it home and had it today. Last night I enjoyed a great free dinner at an MS lecture and enjoyed meeting a few new people.

This weekend I'll be making my own yogurt for the first time, seeing my father (as usual), going to a crafts show and definitely mowing leaves with the mower once things dry out. I told my mower guy a few weeks ago he could quit for the season since I don't mind mowing in the cooler weather and it certainly saves me a small bundle if I can finish out the mowing for the season, although it does take time with my battery-powered mower (run time: 35-40 minutes).

Bears in the neighborhood

October 24th, 2019 at 03:44 pm

There have been a growing number of bear sightings in my immediate neighborhood. They have been in town for years now, but most often they seem to be on the other side of town, in an area abutting a state park.

I walk around the block often in the morning, and a neighbor driving by slowed down to warn me to "be careful" as he'd just seen a bear in his yard that morning.

I've also talked to a woman I often see walking her beagle and she has seen the bear also as she walked home, her neighbors on their enclosed back porch suddenly shouted "Bear, bear! Go away! Go away!" She did, and as soon as the neighbors began yelling, the bear took off.

So now I need to avoid walking too early in the morning. They will be hibernating soon. And I think I want to buy a mini fog horn thingy.

My father and I had a really nice day today. It was a beautiful warm day in the 60s here and all the leaves are already past peak, I think. We took a drive northwest to a small town just over the New York state line to Harney & Sons tea company.

They have a cute little tea tasting room where, like a fine wine, you can taste a variety of teas. We tried 4 of them and I decided to buy an organic sencha Japanese tea called Bancha and an Indian assam tea, also organic.

The young man shown here was very knowledgeable about teas.

Here's what I bought. I couldn't resist this cute little mug.

Down the road we stopped at a very large organic farm and had a great lunch in their little cafe. Dad bought some of their purple sweet potatoes and a cluster of mushrooms from another local farm.

Another new-to-me cousin contacted me on Ancestry. Our DNA says we're cousins but we haven't yet figured out how, except that it's likely on my paternal grandmother's side. This person grew up in London but has lived the past 30 years in Germany, making her the first living ancestor I've discovered outside the US!