Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Picking trash, picking friends

There's so much light these days.  It feels like Easter flipped the power switch, or something.  Because even though the daylight had been seeping into earlier and earlier minutes of the morning, all of a sudden this week, Boom:  I wake up for my 6 a.m. morning run, and I can see the bedroom.  I get dressed without turning a lamp on.  I go outside and the birds are riotous with noise, and the sky is pink and yellow and blue, all at the same time.  It's fabulous.
The trees in the morning sun, as seen from my window.
This morning, as we have done three times a week for the past decade, my friend June and I did our little 2.5 mile route through a nearby neighborhood. It's a wealthy area with no sidewalks, but also very little traffic, and the roads are wide and smooth and so a popular place for walkers, runners, and bicyclists.

As we were finishing up, we passed a large can that had a "FREE" sign posted on it.  We rooted through it:  I found a wooden rake and a couple of wooden garden stakes.  June got an edger and a garden claw.   And then June turned to me, looked us both up and down, and said, "You and I were meant to be friends!"


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Miser Family update: money dinner, recovery, hvac, and God-things.

The week kicked off with our annual Money Dinner, celebrating tax day.  We broke out the giant table-cloth decorated like a Miser-Family dollar, and the napkins with US currency themes, and our motley collection of coins and bills from around the world.  We dressed in bling (one of our friends gifted me with gold (plastic) dollar-sign necklaces.  The menu featured

  • soft pretzels shaped like dollars and cents ('cause we all could use some dough),
  • Bringing Home the Bacon,
  • Render unto Caesar Salad,
  • the golden eggs (hardboiled), without the goose that laid them, and
  • sausage shaped like coins.
We invited a friend who has a financial company, and asked him for advice.  He says he has two pieces of advice he gives his kids:
  1. earn more than you spend, and 
  2. spend less than you earn.
So, that was the Money Dinner,  which made us feel both rich and full in the Miser Family household.

The rest of the week continued apace.  
  • N-son put in long hours in the kitchen and warehouse of our local rescue mission.  
  • My husband tossed and turned by night, and went to physical therapy by day.  He seems to be getting slowly better, but oh, so, oh, so slowly.  
  • K-daughter told me she's thinking of going back to school in the fall for HVAC stuff, and I'm trying not to cheer so ferociously that I startle her.  
  • L-daughter tells me that all my days of torturing tutoring her at Othello have paid off when she won "multiple times" at Connect 4 in a restaurant near her.  (I didn't have the heart to tell her that's not my Othello training; J-son whomps me at Connect 4 regularly). 
  • I'm getting close to the end of the semester; I had both of my Calculus classes over to the house to wrap up our lessons on Taylor's series, and we actually had a lot of fun.  It might have helped that they all fell in love with our yellow wiggly dog, who adored my students right back.
  • I-daughter took N-son to see our local production of Godspell, and K-daughter joined in, too. It's so good to see my children developing their own independent theater-going habits.
This evening, my husband is off at the synagogue at a Seder service.  For the first time since his knee surgery, he's in jeans (instead of baggy sweatpants) AND he's out of the house for several hours.  See, I told you he's getting better!   And I'm preparing for Easter -- putting together baskets that have mini-canning jars with colorful lids instead of plastic eggs.   

I wish everyone who celebrates these a wonderful holy weekend.   We're feeling wealthy in our adventures.  May you and yours be similarly prosperous.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

My most expensive trash bill ever

So, apparently, I'm paying $55 per trash can for my garbage pick up these days.

I'm mighty happy about this.  [This is not a humble brag; it's an out-and-out brag, really].

We're paying $220/year, or $55 per quarter, for waste management services; this is a fee imposed by my city.  This amount has risen slowly, slowly over the past few years.   But my household output of trash has dropped somewhat more dramatically (aided in no small part by having fewer people full-time in the household).  And in the way that math works, when you divide a constant(ish) numerator by a smaller denominator, you get a larger quotient.

This morning, we put out our second garbage can of the year. This means that so far this year, we're averaging $55 per trash pick-up, our highest (per can) fee ever.  Score!


One response to this situation might be to suggest that households pay based on their usage, instead of paying a flat fee.  My own opinion is that that would be taxing/penalizing the wrong end of the process.

For example, our city used to have a variety of trash haulers, who charged very different fees.  We also had a bunch of trash spills, with every hauler pointing fingers at everyone else in blame. Since we've gone to the flat rate and one (city) hauler, we have much less waste blowing around in our streets and yards.

The problem of excessive waste is really a by-product of excessive consumption of non-durable goods.  I wish that there were a policy that, for example, our pharmacy were responsible for disposing of (or sanitizing and reusing) pill bottles; that plastic packaging were taxed in accordance with the associated clean-up costs, and that more generally, the clean-up and waste management aspects of every item were folded directly into the purchasing set-up.   I know that's a pipe dream, but focusing on disposal issues at the point of purchase is likely to be much more effective than having people pay for trash at the "end" of use.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Miser Family Update: the good, the bad, the ugly.

What to say about this week in the Miser Family?  It's been rich.  It's been full.  It's been things that rhyme with "rich", too, and not the happy kind of rhyme with "rich".  This is a week that really has had the good, the bad, and the ugly.

So let's start with the good:

Dog walking!  Even though I haven't had a lot of dog-training time lately, we do go regularly to the dog park, and so Prewash is getting better and better at walking slack-leash.  As an example of how good she's getting, here's a series of photos of my 4-year-old granddaughter walking the dog for a quarter of a mile, home from the dog park (when, admittedly, the dog has already gotten to run around like a maniac, so she's extra calm). 

Across an open field, . . .
 . . . down the sidewalk, . . . 
. . . and along a neighbor's fence.  
Visit from J-son!   His foster mom was in the neighborhood running errands, so J-son popped in for a little while on Tuesday evening.  He's looking good.  He's talking like . . . well, like a grown-up who knows his stuff.  He saw my husband's leg and said, "whoa!  That's some edema there!"  Because apparently if you study sports therapy you know words like "edema", and also how to properly use canes and walkers.  He's looking forward to his summer job.  

Two shows!  On Wednesday, K-daughter and two of my friends went to see Once at our local theater.  It was a great musical!   And then on Thursday, I-daughter took me to see a local musical theater group performing 70's Smash Hits.  That, too, was awesome.  (As we left the theater, one of the ushers thanked me for jumping up and dancing.  Glad to oblige!)

All of this means I got to catch up a bit with my daughters.  K-daughter got to gush about how A-child is super well-behaved at a restaurant (and made a huge contrast with a same-aged friend who was the opposite of well-behaved for an extraordinarily long time at the same event).  I-daughter got to regale me with tales of knitting and square-dancing trips she's been taking.  Her life is such a good one for her; it's good for a mother's soul to see her children grow up so well.

That's a lot of "good", isn't it?

The "bad", as you might guess from the people hardly mentioned above, includes a really slow, still painful knee surgery recovery.  My husband has been having a lot of trouble getting any sleep at all.  That's apparently a "Thing" with knee replacements, but it's still incredibly hard.  We are seeing progress, and we're glad that eventually the hard times will be behind us (we keep getting reassurances to that effect).  But right now we have a minor pharmacy that we update with new drugs every couple of days or so, because the old ones keep not being quite powerful or effective enough.

We also got to welcome N-son back into the home with open arms and a few heartfelt lectures.   He's taking a three-week break from his school.  'Nuff said about that.  We've arranged for him to stay occupied in the kitchen of our local rescue mission while he's in town, and I continue to be so grateful for the amazing community I live in who help me to parent my children into their adulthoods.

And that's it for the bad.  

Ready for the ugly, anyone?   How about a picture or two of 30 staples, just about to be removed from my husband's flesh?   Here goes:

The blue ink was to help the surgeon;
it hasn't washed off yet.
You're welcome.

And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures (sometimes a little more wealthy than we'd like!).  May you and yours be similarly prosperous.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Miser Family update: many colors edition

Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family Household.  Here in our neck of the Miser-ville farm fields, the April showers are bringing April flowers.  It's good to see the daffodils burst out, fast upon the heels of the crocuses, elbowing for space with the violets. 

The week began with an amazingly snarfulously decorated birthday party (Dr. Seuss-themed).  If you ever wonder who provided the oomph of enthusiasm behind our family's themed special dinners, look no further than the oomphabulous K-daughter.  Check it out:

Pink Ink Yink Drink, and Sneetch treats . . .
Lorax snack and Hop-on-Popcorn, . . . 
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and Cat hats . . . 
Not to mention, the Cat in the Hat reading the Lorax
to the the birthday girls (Thing 1 and Thing 2) and their friends.
Miser Mom can "oooooh".  Can you?

My own week filled up with a Calculus Exam (office hours beforehand, the exam itself, then grading, then consoling/counseling the students who didn't do as well as they'd have liked).  That's a week's worth of effort right there.  But I also learned --- and I think this is so cool -- to replace a screen in a screen window.  Here I am, more than a half-century old, and I've never done it before.  The salesperson at the hardware store told me it was easy to do, and so I did a quick you-tube search, and sure enough it *is* relatively easy!  Go figure!  So now I've replaced two screens that were busted by my kids, and once I buy a bit more screen I'll replace two screens that were busted by my dogs. 

I also went to the grocery store this week. 

That sentence there is fairly momentous, because I think it's been quite a while since I've been in the kind of grocery store that sells food in commercial packaging, and also because what I bought was breakfast cereal in commercial packaging.  I bought this stuff for my husband who is still recovering from his knee surgery. 
Ooh-la-la! Show us some leg!

This is what my guy looked like two Thursdays ago, in the hospital, right after he'd had his leg ripped open, his bones sawed apart, a new titanium knee hammered into place, and his flesh stapled back together.  His bike buddy came by and took this photo of my guy in this darling off-the-shoulder gown.

Now, a week-ish later my husband looks somewhat different.  He's wearing a bathrobe instead of a hospital gown, for one thing.  For another, now that the bruises are spreading, his leg looks like the handiwork of a drunk-yet-enthusiastic tattoo artist with a penchant for modern art.   And finally, he's not quite so smiley. 

His leg is still fairly swollen, which in turn means his flexibility is behind where the PT guy would like it to be.  He's also having trouble sleeping at night.   That's the bad news.  The good news is that the long-term prognosis is good.  (When my husband begged the nurses to admit him to a rehab center to get round-the-clock care, they told him he's in much too good shape for that).  The PT guy showed me how to help with stretching exercises (so I'm allowed to pull my husband's leg!).  We're grateful for ice packs and for pharmacies. 

My sons haven't given me any exciting updates, so I assume they're doing fine.  Prewash the Dog is celebrating the warm weather by decorating the house in dog hair.  I'm trying to get her to promise not to put her feet through the new screen windows, once I get those fixed. 

And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures.  May you and yours be similarly prosperous. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Miser family update: birthdays, Zamboni driving, and titanium knees

Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family.  Even though I didn't have any new papers accepted or anything like that, we still managed to have fun adventures. 

My granddaughter and I both had birthdays this week; one of us aged out of her prime to become a perfect square, and the other one of us is now back into her prime.   (Geeky math joke, there).  We got to spend time together at the beginning of the week, making waffles, taking Prewash to the dog park, and taking pictures.  Happy birthday, kiddo!

Squinting in the sunshine
Note the red hair, to celebrate papers getting accepted last week

On my birthday, I took my calculus class to the bagel shop, where my students learned how to do separation of variables to solve ordinary differential equations.   It was really fun class!

What else happened?  N-son tells me that he is enjoying his internship at the Ice Rink.  He got to meet the Country Singer/Songwriter Cole Swindell.  He also got to . . . wait for it . . . drive the zamboni!   Is that cool, or what?

J-son took the NOCTI tests this week, to see if he can get his certification in sports therapy.  We've all got our fingers crossed for him.  And in the opposite of therapy, K-daughter came down with Strep Throat.  Poor K-daughter!

My IronMan rocking his
two-wheeled speedster.
Oh, yeah, and this other thing happened.  On Thursday, my husband threw his hospital staff into consternation by walking the one mile to the hospital (instead of having me drive him), where he got his old knee swapped out for a brand-spankin' new Titanium knee. 

  • Thursday evening, he managed to walk about one meter on his new knee.  
  • On Friday, I brought him home with his new two-wheeled vehicle, and---while he had trouble getting in and out of bed---he scooted his walker several times around the house, following the same loop that N-son raced on his tricycle a decade or so ago, yelling "Slalom, baby, slalom!!".   (Rather, that was what N-son yelled.  My husband yelled, "Yehhh!  Ewwwcccch! Ahhhh!")
  • By Saturday, he was handling the bed, short flights of stairs, and the driveway.  He's even started walking short distances without the walker, which is AGAINST. THE. RULES even though he promised me that this one time he'd actually obey his post-op instructions because he can't do knee replacement again.  
For what it's worth, the nurse who walked us through the post-op instructions said he's allowed to walk as much as he wants with his walker so he doesn't fall,  and he's not allowed to drive a car until the next nurse clears him to do so.  I noticed the nurse didn't say anything at all about bicycles.  Anybody want to put money down on the date of the first bike ride?  

We're all delighted that the March weather really is going from lion to lamb; today we opened windows (one or two of which become Dog TV for Prewash) and let the balmy breezes fill the house.  We're glad to have a comfy house with lots of space on the first floor for people and dogs to wander and to slalom, baby.

And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures.  May you and yours be similarly prosperous.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Bifold doors

Here's a minor project I've tackled over these past few weeks, in between the every-thing-else-that's-going-on of my life.  Ahhh, this picture makes me so happy.

And yes, it's a picture of some very plain looking bifold doors.  That's my project.

Our home is rich in bifold doors.  The previous owner installed them in closets, in both entrances to the kitchen, and even on some of the bedroom doors.

Bifold doors have some nice advantages, like they don't swing out as far into hallways, and like you can easily take them off if you need to get back into the closet to clean it out.  (I got to astound my daughter when she was cleaning out her dad's pantry by removing the pantry door so she could get at the shelves more easily.  Mama does magic tricks!)

But bifold doors can also be a pain in the tuckus.  They make lousy bedroom doors, because you can't lock them.  And the same feature that makes them relatively easy to remove on purpose makes them relatively easy to remove by accident, especially if they are in a room where a pair of highly active, ADHD teenager brothers wrassle each other constantly.   Oh, those boys.

Of course, it wasn't just them.  Our former dog, Miser Dog, was afraid of rain and thunder, and whenever a storm would blow in, he'd climb into our bedroom closet; sometimes he'd shiver so hard he'd knock the door down.   But Miser Dog fortunately didn't damage the doors; we'd just wait for the rain to stop, and slide the door back into place.

At any rate, this particular pair of doors in the photo have been through a lot.  One daughter painted them with decorations that glow under ultraviolet light.  Then the boys wrassled and broke the hardware on the doors.  One of the two boys went through a terrible phase in which we had to remove all doors and drawers and other hiding places from his room for several months (oh, lord, was that awful!).   Between the removal, the ultraviolet paint, and the broken hardware, we hadn't gotten around to replacing them, so the closet just was open all the time.

Until recently.  My sons both moved out, and so recently I've been repairing holes in walls.  Then painting the walls.  And then repainting the walls.

In the meanwhile, we'd hired some pros to come do things I can't do myself -- repair the roof; take down bifold bedroom doors and install real doors (with knobs and locks and such), fix warped ceilings. So by the time I was done painting the walls in my boys' former bedroom, I happened to have a mini-lumberyard of materials.

The former bifold doors, I sanded and then painted. The blue doors with neon-orange and hot-pink highlights are now ivory white. I scavenged hardware pieces from the former bedroom doors, and fixed the broken bits on the closet doors. I had to move one track down a bit (yay for a scrounged piece of lath hanging out in the garage), but then I installed the doors and . . . voila!

In the grand scheme of things, this isn't a big deal. But you have NO IDEA how much better this looks. Seriously, paint is freakin' amazing. Well, and plaster for fixing holes. And sandpaper for smoothing plaster. But, . . . paint! Doors!