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Landed A Job

February 20th, 2024 at 05:13 am

Well, after 5.5 months of being a woman of leisure, today I accepted a job offer.  I start the day after tomorrow.  This position is a full-charge bookkeeper at a food processing company in a nearby town.  I think it is going to be a good fit and I am very excited to roll up my sleeves and get started. 😀

Getting Settled

January 26th, 2024 at 06:37 pm

We arrived at our new home on Tuesday; today is Friday.  Since arriving, we have been in a whirlwind of activity.  We've had roofers come, make repairs, and go. These repairs were quoted months ago. Today we have some plumbers installing a new hot water heater.  They will be back on Monday to install a new bathtub and fix a leak.

Before arriving, I had ordered a new queen mattress which was delivered. We have been sleeping on that. We had no other furniture whatsoever upon arrival. Since then, I have purchased a kitchen table and chairs, a dresser, two wing chairs for the living room, and a washer/dryer set which will be delivered next week.  We still need quite a bit so more furniture shopping is in my immediate future.

In other news, I have learned that my son and daughter-in-law's expected baby is a boy.

Tomorrow night we are going to a 38 Special concert at a casino in a nearby town.

 

The Most Wonderful News :)

December 14th, 2023 at 09:43 pm

Yesterday I received the most wonderful news. Smile  My son and daughter-in-law are expecting!!  I am over the moon with excitement and happiness.  If I had any lingering doubt that I made the right decision to uproot my life and head to Illinois, it is gone now.  

Docs are Signed and Funds Have Been Wired

November 29th, 2023 at 08:59 pm

Yesterday I signed docs, visited a notary to stamp the Deed of Trust, and sent the docs to the title company via UPS.  This morning I made a trip to the bank and wired the funds.  We will close by the end of the week. 

I ended up borrowing 25k, putting down 50k plus closing costs.  My monthly payments on the mortgage are $225.00 for two years and then the balance is due.  I will owe just under 23k at that time.

Very soon now we will be hitting the road for Illinois. Smile

Moving Forward with Home Purchase

November 1st, 2023 at 04:44 pm

Well, I am moving forward with the purchase of this latest home.  The inspection report did turn up some things, but that is to be expected.  The list was not overly long and there are only two items which need to be addressed immediately.  Most of the items which need repair I was already aware of, as they are obvious.  (Some damage to the siding next to the patio, some trim around a window, etc.)  And the house could certainly use some cosmetic improvements.  But it is a solid little house, which is exactly what I need.

While I have only seen the house via a video call, my daughter, son-in-law, and son toured it in person.  My daughter in particular has a good eye for issues, having worked for a time in construction.  Plus, they know what I like.  They were unanimous in their opinion that it was the best house they had toured with the realtor.

I will be putting down approximately 45k and taking a mortgage for approximately 35k.  The monthly mortgage payments (principal and interest only) will be approximately $314, with the mortgage due in 2 years.  I will have the option to extend for an additional 2 years, for a fee.  

Here's the listing:  8 Wedgewood Ct, Murphysboro, IL 62966 | realtor.com®

 

An Update on House Hunting

October 20th, 2023 at 09:36 pm

I am currently under contract for a little house in Illinois for the 4th time.  This house does not really have any charm, but it was built in 1983. (That's decades newer than the other houses I have been looking at).  It seems to be structurally sound.  The inspection is scheduled for this coming Monday, so I will know soon enough.  This house is a 3/1 with a 1 car attached garage built on a crawlspace (no basement).  It has a fenced-in backyard which is a definite plus.  It is 960 sq ft and is on a cul-de-sac.

The agreed upon price is 75k.  That means I will need to put down approximately 45k and the mortgage will be in the low 30s (closing costs).  This will leave me a good chunk of cash to live on until I can find a job.

I really have not been doing a whole lot since recovering from Covid.  I have been taking it easy and reading a good bit.  I have been getting rid of belongings slowly, but need to increase my pace.  If this house works out, I can close by early November and want to move right after.  SB is still working full-time, but his boss does know that he is planning to move in the near future.

Do you recall years ago I shared a picture of 3 dogs belonging to a tenant?  When we first moved up here, they would bark at me each time I came and went.  I decided to befriend them and began giving them treats each time I passed them.  (I did clear this with their owner before proceeding).  It was not long at all before their angry, territorial barks were replaced with excited barks at the sight of me.  They would wiggle with anticipation as I approached their fence.  I certainly enjoyed the sweet company of those dogs.  Last year, the female australian shepherd got sick and died.  Almost immediately, the male yellow lab stopped eating and shortly joined her.  This was only a few months before my Bella died.  The remaining male black lab just went to his final vet visit on Monday.  He was 13 and had declined a lot in the previous few months.  One day he could walk, and the next day his legs would not support him.  So his owner rightly scheduled his last appointment.  I had the opportunity to say good-bye before he went.  Their yard is so empty now.  I sure do miss all 3 of them.  It makes me want to move all the more.

Here is the entry which contains a picture of them:  Let It Snow: Reaching For Financial Security (savingadvice.com)

Currently Enjoying Covid

September 26th, 2023 at 03:19 am

I must have been exposed to Covid on my flight home.  I have been so sick for more than a week.  I still feel very crummy, but somewhat less crummy.  Therefore, I am cautiously optimistic that the worst is behind me.

I am under contract for a house, we are currently negotiating over the items in the inspection report, so the purchase is still up in the air.

 

In Illinois Now

September 12th, 2023 at 04:20 pm

I am in Illinois now.   Last night, I spent the night at my son's house.

I am not buying that little blue craftsman; it has foundation issues.

I have been seeing houses but haven't found one yet which will work.

I don't think I am going to find a house which I can currently pay cash for which will suit my needs. While a traditional mortgage is currently not an option, a hard money loan is.

You may recall that SB has previously lent money through an investor group for a hard money loan. The same group is willing to lend to me. I can borrow at 7%, with a 2% funding fee, for 2 years. At the end of 2 years, if I wish, I can roll it over for 2 more years with another 2% funding fee. This would allow me to buy a more expensive home right now, without a job.

I am going to explore this idea a bit more and see some more homes.

Under Contract!!

September 4th, 2023 at 11:03 pm

The seller must have come home early, because my realtor called and my offer has been accepted!  I am under contract for this little house:

Text is https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/437-North-St_Murphysboro_IL_62966_M89223-45366 and Link is
https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/437-North-...

My realtor is scheduling inspections. A major problem will be cause to re-negotiate or cancel. Minor repairs are to be expected and will not scare me off.

What do you think? I like it so much. 

No Longer Employed

September 2nd, 2023 at 08:41 pm

Yesterday was my last day working for El Dorado County.  I'm not certain that it has sunk all the way in yet. 

Since my last entry, I found another cute little ranch and made an offer.  It was listed at 50k; Zillow estimated its value at 47k.  My realtor told me that they were expecting multiple offers and I should make my very best offer if I wanted it.  Well, I was somewhat skeptical.  Was that just a ploy to get me to offer more?  Besides, they can "expect" anything they please, that doesn't mean it will happen.  I know that Zillow is not always accurate, but I was reluctant to offer much over Zillow's estimate.  I offered 52k and my offer was not selected.  I have been waiting for escrow to close so I can look up the sales price.  Yesterday I saw that it had sold for 66k.  So it had not been a ploy at all.  I trust my realtor more now.

I found a little craftsman bungalow for sale.  It is super cute.  It has a lot of nice features.  It is in fairly good condition (not perfect), but it has had some very tasteful updates.  It has a new kitchen and a new bath, plus a newish roof and furnace.  The list price is 55k.  I made an offer for 55k, my realtor sent it off, and then she told me the listing agent says she has one other offer already.  The seller is out of town until Tuesday, will review offers then, so I should make my best offer.  I listened to her more closely this time.  I asked her what she thinks the house is worth.  She pulled comps and sent me her analysis; she thinks it is worth 68k.  I thought about it,  checked today's listings to see what else is listed in that price range, and decided to offer 68k.  This is the pinnacle of what I feel I can pay without a mortgage.  So the seller will take my offer or he won't; I'm not going to offer any higher.

One week from today I fly to St Louis.  My daughter and son-in-law will pick me up there and I will spend a week visiting them and my son and daughter-in-law, plus her grandma.  While I am there, I will either see the craftsman (because I am under contract for it) or a bunch of other houses (because I am still looking).

Took a Loan for 20K

July 30th, 2023 at 07:10 pm

So one thing I have been thinking of A LOT lately is how much I have in available funds.  I currently have 18k in savings and 41.6k available in my Roth.  I anticipate netting 22k or so from selling the truck, which will be a quick sale.  Also I hope at least 20k from selling the 5th wheel, but that may take longer to accomplish. More on that below.  And then of course as soon as I am separated from my employer, I will have access to the 25k in my 457 plan, although I hope to not touch that this year.  So that is 18k +41.6k + 22k = 81.6k which I can count on having available immediately, plus another 45k which will be on the horizon.  I'm not going to lie, I wish that I had more.  I am trying to buy a house plus live on this money until I find a new job.

I have been mulling over the idea of taking a personal loan someplace, to cushion my bank account.  Of course, this is something which will cost me money.  I'm not really certain I want another loan, but once I am no longer employed it will no longer be an option.  If it turns out that I need a loan, it will be too late. Of course, I can always use my credit cards to pay for necessities.  But this is not an appealing idea if I lack the funds to pay for my charges; a loan would likely be less expensive.  So I have looked online a bit and the best deal I could find was with Citibank.  On Friday, I accepted their loan; my check is in the mail.  The terms are no origination fees, 11.99% interest, a 5 year repayment schedule, no prepayment penalty.  When I receive the funds, I will throw them in savings and that will reduce the cost.  Once I have a job, paying off this loan will be a high priority.  

I have my eye on 2 houses listed for sale, both at 59k.  The one which I like the most has recently been completely re-done inside.  It is small, only 800 sq ft, but it is on 1/3 of an acre, unfenced.  The other is a bit larger at 892 sq ft, but sits very close to the neighbors on both sides. It has a covered front porch which I just love and a fully fenced backyard. If they are still listed when I go to Illinois in September, I will see them.  And I will keep updating my list between now and then.

I have some friends in my old area who camp a lot.  The husband is very knowledgable about vehicles in general, including travel trailers and 5th wheels.  If necessary, he will keep my 5th wheel and handle the sale, for a commission.  I offered the commission, he did not ask.  It will be a chore, so I wouldn't feel right about not compensating him for his time and trouble.  I trust these friends completely and have no fear that he would cheat me in some way.  Of course, I would prefer to sell the 5th wheel myself and quickly, but in case it does not work out that way, I do not want the 5th wheel holding me up from heading to Illinois.

Cancelled House Contract

July 26th, 2023 at 05:19 pm

The home inspection showed a lot of issues.  I expected that there would be some, so it was not surprising to see the long list.  Some of them were no big deal, but a couple of them were deal-breakers.  For example, there is an old water leak in the bathroom.  Water is going into the subfloor and has been for some time, but no repairs have been made. Water is going into the wall around one of the AC units because there is no barrier, even though there should be.  There is standing water in the crawlspace under the house. There are water stains on the foundation.  There are also some foundation issues.  

I am still moving, just not into that particular house.   It's disappointing, but that's how it goes sometimes.

Submitted Resignation

July 18th, 2023 at 03:32 am

I submitted my resignation today.  My last day of employment will be Friday, Sept 1.

So Much To Do - Topsy Turvy

July 16th, 2023 at 02:08 pm

Well, I certainly have a long "to do" list.   And my finances are about to become topsy-turvy with no income but plenty of outgo.  I will need to think about budgeting my money in a very different way. 

So far, I have paid a $500 earnest money deposit, plus a processing fee of $12.  I had to pay via DepositLink and there was no way to avoid the fee.  That came directly from my checking account.  I also paid $460 to the home inspection company along with an $18.17 processing fee because I used my credit card.  

Around here, we have already begun parting with possessions.  There is still plenty more to do on that front.  The 5th wheel needs a few repairs which we have been putting off because repair work is a bit problematic.  However, it goes in to the shop on August 9th.  The repairs are expected to take a few weeks.  We will have to move into the little travel trailer for that time.  It needs a new door first.  And, the bears completely ruined the fridge.  The door will not latch closed and all of the interior shelves and brackets were ripped out.  So we will have a place to sleep and a roof over our heads, but not much else.  It will just be for a short time, though.

This past Friday I took a half day vacation and went down to the valley.   A girlfriend who is 42 and expecting her first baby was having a baby shower.  It was wonderful to see her and her mother and sister, niece and nephew.  There were other guests but I did not know a one of them!  Still, I had a very nice time.  They were all lovely.  It was a great opportunity to see her in person and let her know that I am moving even further away.   After the shower, I went to my mom's house and spent the night.  We played cards in the morning and I left around noon to return home.

Under Contract

July 15th, 2023 at 01:07 pm

My offer has been accepted. This is real and moving fast. 😀

Made A BIG Decision

July 13th, 2023 at 06:06 pm

I have made a really huge decision.  I can't believe that I am doing this, but I am. Smile

My boss is on vacation this week, so next week I will tell her that my last day will be Friday, Sept. 1.  I am wrapping up my life here and moving to Carbondale.

There is still much up in the air, but each kerfuffle will be dealt with as it arises.  Just like life, right?

I will have my health insurance through the end of September.  I can buy a silver plan on Covered California for $165.29 per month, which I will do until I am settled in Illinois.

I will sell the 5th wheel, SB and I will sell the truck, SB will sell his Toyota Corolla.  We will move in my Hyundai Tucson.

I had previously shared a link to a little white house with orangey-brown trim.  Well, it is back on the market.  My son has a scheduled showing this coming Tuesday and will video it for me.  Google Earth shows it is in a nieghborhood of houses and big trees, a few parks, no businesses.  And it is only a few blocks from the university campus.  It is 1.3 miles from my son's house, 5.8 miles from my daughter's house.  I am fairly certain I am going to buy it.

I do not qualify for a mortgage.  Purchasing this home will take all of my Roth IRA contributions plus most of my current savings.  This is not ideal, but it is the situation. I will of course have the proceeds from selling the 5th wheel and truck, and once separated I can access the 24k in my 457 plan, taxable but no penalty.  That is what I will have to live on until I am settled and have found a new job.

Oh, and I will still have my car loan.  I had wanted to pay it in full before moving, but paying 50K + closing costs for a house makes that not possible.  I won't have a mortgage payment though, so there is that.

I am still going to take my "vacation" to Illinois Sept 9-16.  The airfare I bought was nonrefundable.  We could cancel the airbnb, but I really don't want to.  Besides, this will be a good opportunity to get the house set up a bit.  

If purchasing this particular home does not work out, I am moving anyway.  All of my plans will stay the same except I will need to find a rental with cash in hand but no job. 

So, that is my news.

UPDATE:  I have submitted my offer of 50k cash contingent on inspections, requested the seller to pay for a 1 year home warranty, requested 21 days to do inspections, requested a closing date of 8/31.  The tenants have until 7/31 to vacate, so I cannot do any inspections until then.

Maybe Going to Move Much Sooner Than Planned

July 6th, 2023 at 03:22 pm

My daughter sent me a link to a house.   It is SO cute.  It needs some work, but mostly cosmetic as far as I can tell.  It has good bones.  In addition to the pictures on realtor.com, my daughter sent me pics from Google Earth, and my son went to the house and sent me a bunch of exterior pics.   It is a foreclosure, and it is listed at 24.9k.   It has been on realtor.com for a month already.  I have spoken with the listing agent and late last night sent him a text that I would like to move forward with a home inspection.  

The house is not in the same town where my kids live, but it is not too far either.  It is 11 miles from my daughter's house and 16 miles from my son's.

So depending on what the home inspection shows, I may be moving MUCH sooner than planned.  I am both terrified and SO EXCITED.

So before this popped up, last week I booked myself airfare to see my kids in September.  My daughter and her husband have been in Mississippi for about 6 months now and will return home just before I come to visit.  It is a long story and it isn't mine, but it has to do with his mother and a house he inherited.  It has taken quite some time to get it all sorted, but things there will be wrapping up for them.  My son and his wife had offered that I could stay in their spare bedroom during my visit.  However, my daughter was planning on staying in a hotel the first few days they were back (so they can fumigate before moving back in) and suggested that we rent an airbnb.  We found a nice one at a good price and she and I split the cost.  I will still spend 2 or 3 nights at my son's house. 

UPDATE:  The house is under contract this morning, and not with me. 

What Has That Man Been Up To?

May 18th, 2023 at 10:51 pm

My SnugglyBumps has been working on a project.  He decided that he wanted to open an online store.  He designed a cover, put it on a hardback notebook with good quality paper, and his link has gone live on Amazon.

He has some additional products in the pipeline which are not ready for sale just yet.  

Here is his cover, a tribute to our sweet Nala Jean:

Please note:  I am just sharing.  This is not an attempt to sell a product.   I am rather impressed with his creativity. 

 

 

My CalPers Pension

April 1st, 2023 at 07:24 pm

I have been meaning to talk a bit about how my CalPers pension works. The formula which will be used to calculate my benefit is:

Salary  x   Service Credit  x  Age Multiplier

The number used for "Salary" is the average of my highest 36 months.  So each time I get a raise, it takes a full 36 months for the new salary to fully "bake" into the pension calculation.  However, each month which goes by means a slightly higher "Salary" number.

The number used for "Service Credit" is my years of service in the CalPers system, calculated out to 3 digits past the decimal point.  Every passing day in which I am an active employee increases my service credit slightly.

The number used for "Age Multiplier" is based on my age when I retire.  I am in a "2% at 62" plan, which means that at age 62 my Age Multiplier is exactly 2.  If I retire before age 62, my Age Multiplier will be less than 2; if I retire past age 62, my Age Multiplier will be more than 2.

I am already vested and am at least 50 years of age, which means that I can retire from CalPers at any time.  However, my monthly pension payments will not begin until I reach age 62.  I also have the option to forfeit my monthly pension and instead withdraw my contributions plus interest in a lump sum.  One reason to consider opting for the lump sum is that because of the WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision), my eventual SS benefits will be reduced by half of the amount of my pension, up to the cap.  For 2023, the cap is $557.50, meaning they cannot reduce my SS benefits more than by $557.50.  When the time comes, I will have to calculate to determine which option is in my best interest.  It seems to be that right now, the lump sum would be more beneficial.  However, each passing day tips the scales slightly more in the favor of monthly pension payments.

If I were to retire today, my monthly pension payments would begin at age 62 and would be in the amount of $388.42.  I would lose $194.21 in monthly SS benefits as a result.  Or, I could opt for the lump sum which is currently 25k and change; there would be no reduction in SS benefits down the road.

If I were to work until age 62, my monthly pension benefit would be:

$5,916  x  11.7  x  2  =  $1,384.50

Probably slightly more as I will likely enjoy a few cost of living raises between now and then.

So clearly, not a fortune, but when added to withdrawals from my nest egg and possibly a small monthly SS check, it will be enough to provide for my needs.

I had not wanted to work until age 62, but of course I will do what I need to do.  So I just keep calculating, and when I reach the point I can afford to retire, I will know.

 

 

Let It Snow

March 3rd, 2023 at 03:47 am

So here's a pic of my new car:

Can you see it peaking out from underneath all of that snow?  It won't be going anywhere for awhile.  

We went down to Rancho Cordova and stayed in a hotel for 2 nights, afraid that if we didn't we would get snowed in and stuck for the duration.  We returned home yesterday. Of course, the power is out.  Who knows for how long.  Today is the 4th day.  During the last big storm we had in late December 2021, we were without power for 14 days.

I have been teleworking.  It's a good thing that I can, because it is expensive to stay elsewhere and I can't make the daily trek between work and home right now.  The generator powers our Starlink, so internet is not a problem as long as we keep the generator running.

A new storm is rolling in this coming weekend and more snow is forecast.

This is another picture looking out towards the road, just because I think the sky is so pretty.

 

 

First Time Teleworking

February 15th, 2023 at 05:11 am

Today I teleworked for the very first time.  Overall, I really liked it.  It was a bit of a challenge having only one screen (in the office, I have three), but that commute was terriffic!  And my co-worker snored all morning.

So we used to put Bella in the neighbors' yard (they are tenants).  They had 3 dogs; two males and a female. Time has passed, and two of them have also.  There is one male left.  He is an older black lab and he was not the pack leader.  Well, he and Gilligan have met several times and he growls at Gilligan.  Perhaps that will change once Gilligan has been neutered, but presently I am unwilling to leave him in the yard.

We are shopping for an outside pen for Gilligan.  And looking for some obedience classes.  For the neutering, we will wait awhile for him to settle in and learn to trust us.

I still miss my Bella, but it is nice to have another pet to love.

Image preview

 

 

A New Man in Our Lives

February 11th, 2023 at 04:49 pm

This little guy was at the animal Shelter in Atwater, about 3.5 hours away.  I saw this little face on Thursday evening, texted my boss to ask for Friday off, and drove down to Atwater yesterday.  Meet Gilligan, our little buddy.  The shelter estimted his age at 1 year and 1 month, mostly based on his teeth.

So much new for him yesterday, but we were pleased to learn that he is house-broken.  He even woke us up during the night with one sharp, urgent bark (to go outside). SB has gone off to work this morning, Gilligan and I are snuggling and getting to know each other.  He has some learning to do.  He is unwilling to jump in or out of a car, so must be lifted.  He wouldn't try our steps, so had to be lifted there as well.  He needs to learn his name, and to stay, etc.  It will come in time.

Sold the CR-V and Tucson Loan Update

January 22nd, 2023 at 10:42 pm

When I went down to the central valley for my mom's surprise 90th birthday party,  that same old nasty hacking cough came back.  By the 3rd day there, I was coughing non-stop.  It continued on for 5 weeks, then mercifully tapered off and is now back to normal.  (I feel the urge to cough most of the time, but can mostly resist.  I use cough drops to help control the urge.) I missed a bunch of work because I just can't function like that.  

All of this background to say that I did not deal with selling my cr-v in a timely manner.  The repair was only $400 odd dollars, which was a pleasant surprise. Then I started coughing so it just sat.  Then when I was ready to deal with it, it had started making a noise (some sort of engine noise).  I decided that I just did not want to deal with it any longer, and I did not want to sell it private party.  I sold it to CarMax for $2,900.  It is a relief to have it done.  And considering the circumstances, I feel that the price was fair.

Before it started making a noise, I strongly considered keeping the cr-v and selling the Tucson, even though I would take a hit of several thousand dollars.  I just do not enjoy having a car loan.  But it did start making a noise, so I grudingly concluded that buying a newer car made sense, loan or not.

Some of the $2,900 proceeds went into savings and some went towards the Tucson loan.  I just wanted to give a quick update on the Tucson loan.  Here are the payments I have made so far:

I am impatient to get the balance down, so I can stop paying so much interest.  I've lost $368.95 to interest already.  I have now repaid my credit card and my savings for the extra expenses I've had the last few months and can start paying more towards the loan each payday.  

 

Caleb Hammer - Financial Audit

January 22nd, 2023 at 06:39 pm

I have recently stumbled across this YouTube channel.  The host goes through people's account statements prior, then interviews people and discusses their financial information.  These are generally people who aren't managing their money well and need some help.

It's an interesting show and I thought that people here might enjoy it.

A Bear of a Story

December 2nd, 2022 at 06:58 pm

My birth mom has been living a nomadic van life for several years now.   She comes to our place for a visit  several times a year, and typically stays for a week or so.  She was here a couple of weeks ago; one evening she and I and SB were in the 5th wheel.  It was about 8:30 pm, so already quite dark.  Suddenly, we heard a bang and then a scraping sound and then a grunty sort of moan.  It sounded like a bear.  SB took a light and went out to investigate.  Four eyes peered out at him from under the travel trailer (the 26 footer we lived in the first 2 years we were up here.  It is parked right next to the 5th wheel; we use the fridge/freezer and to store food and other items.  Plus, it is nice to have an extra bed and bathroom).  The eyes belonged to two adolescent bears.  Birth mom had some plastic tubs of food (canned and packaged) on the back rack of her van, parked right by the travel trailer. The bears had hauled the tubs underneath the travel trailer and were happily enjoying the contents.  Did you know that a half-grown bear can bite right into canned foods?  Well, they sure can.  They left empty, mangled cans behind.

So we discussed whether or not birth mom should sleep in the 5th wheel that night (she prefers her van).  We theorized that possibly the bears had lost their mama in the fire, or perhaps were newly independent from her. Eventually, the noises died down.  SB went back out with a light (and bear spray!) and there was no sign of them. He walked birth mom to her van and she got in and locked up for the night.

During the next few days, we were fairly certain that the bears were making nocturnal visits, but there was no more thievery.  Then one night, SB and I were awakened at approximately 3:30am by some loud noises.  Birth mom had already traveled on at this point.  I opened the shade for the window next to our bed.  The window looks down on the travel trailer and I could see that the bottom half of the door was open, but the top half was not.  It’s a one-piece door.  They had pried the bottom open although the door was still in a closed position. As I was looking, a dark head poked out from underneath the travel trailer, then went back under.  Soon a dark head poked out from the lower part of the door.  Soon it was followed by a body, and that bear went under the travel trailer.  They seem to prefer eating under there.  Then one of them crawled out and went back into the trailer. Before too long, a third bear came along, much larger than the other two.  So, they haven’t been separated from mama after all.  Mama was too large to fit through the pried open bottom part of the door, but she grabbed the door and yanked on it hard (I was shocked that the lock held) and reached in.  I’m not sure if she could reach what she wanted or if junior was pushing food towards her, but her arm came out and she held an entire case of canned food in one paw.  She took it and walked off into the dark.

(Despite everything, I enjoyed watching them.  They are beautiful creatures.  It was a treat to observe them so close up, knowing I was safe.)

Of course, we have always known that if a bear really wanted to come into our home, it could.  But bears are typically not quite that aggressive.  (These are black bears, not grizzly). They will look through garbage cans and take any food left outside, but entering a place that smells like human is not something they will generally do.  In the summers, we sleep with our door open (screen closed) and have never had any animal encounters.

This sort of occurrence continued nightly for a week or so.  We put ammonia around everywhere which is supposed to be a deterrent.  It’s apparently not. SB sprayed them twice (bear spray is a very strong pepper spray).  They ran off, very unhappy, but were back within a few hours.

We called 911 twice.  The first time deputies came out and looked around, but the bears were long gone.  The second time the deputy called back and said it would be about 2 hours before he could come, he would like to just forward the call to the Dept of Fish & Game if that was OK.  We said that was fine. A Fish & Game agent called back the next day. It turns out that Fish & Game no longer re-homes bears.  The agent said that the survival rate was less than 50% so they have stopped the practice.  He recommended shooting them with paintball guns.  Also, we could apply for a depradation permit.  Since there was property damage, we would likely be approved.  That means you have permission to kill the bear.  Well, we were calling because we wanted them re-homed, not killed.  (We hadn’t realized there was a low survival rate for re-homed bears). 

Finally, they went through all of the food in the travel trailer.  They haven’t been back in several nights.  I hope it is over for now.  It’s getting colder and snowed last night; they should hibernate soon.  I fully expect they will be back in the spring.  I don't know what we are going to do about the door.  It is an older travel trailer, it might be hard to find a replacement door.  We can still use it for storage, but no more food storage.

 

Newest Blog - Quite an Honor!

October 26th, 2022 at 03:53 pm

Well, just look at this!   My blog is one of the newest on the site!   I started it in December 2010, so I guess that's pretty new?   This is unimportant, it just kind of cracked me up.

Heart Broken

October 16th, 2022 at 05:41 pm

I did buy that car yesterday. And then the day took a horrible turn.

We went to my niece's and while there, my sweet Bella began struggling to breathe and foaming at the mouth. I took her to the closest emergency vet where they immediately put her under anesthesia, intubated her, and took xrays. The vet said she had advanced pneumonia and it was too late to treat her. I feel horrible because I hadn't even known anything was wrong. We stopped at her favorite park that morning and she ran about happily. She devoured her breakfast. She seemed perfectly fine and healthy. And now she is gone. She was only 5.5 years old.

I can't stop crying.

Now I have to go home to a place that will feel horribly empty and unbearably sad.

 

 

The Decision Seems to Have Made Itself

October 14th, 2022 at 09:33 pm

My car was left at the repair place yesterday as I was not able to drive following my procedure.  So earlier today, SB and I hopped in his car and drove down to Placerville to pick it up.  The shop didn't charge me a cent, even though they had checked it out.  That was a pleasant surprise.  It started right up and I drove home, no problem.  After SB got home,  he said he was going to drive it down to the shop (the big metal shop with tools and equipment on his property) and wash it.  Well, guess what?  It would not start.  Apparently it needs to sit overnight before it will start.  SB thinks that this is going to be an expensive problem to diagnose and repair.  So, that's it.  I am breaking up with my car and moving on.

You know, about 6 months ago, SB mentioned I should consider selling my car while it still has value and buy something else.  I scoffed.  I intend to drive this for years yet, I said.  Oh, I just hate it when he is right!

I can sell to Junkcars.com as is for $1,074.  I was very honest about the problem.  It's kind of a bummer, but I don't have to put any money into repairs and I don't have to lie about it.  (Which of course I won't lie to a potential buyer).  I just spent $800 odd dollars two months ago putting on new tires.  Bleah!

Update:  I am not going to sell it to junkcars.com.  At least, not yet.  I am going to take it to a mechanic, drop it off, and let him figure it out at his leisure.  If it can be repaired, then I can sell it private party for more than $1,074.

So here I am, I need a car right away.  I kind of like CarMax, I feel that they have a big selection and they are upfront about prices and they don't play games.  So I hopped on their website and looked at a few options.  I need AWD and I need something with clearance, so that basically means an SUV.  My preference is a Honda or a Toyota, but I didn't see anything that said screaming good deal to me.  So then I just searched for any vehicle with AWD and I found a 2018 Hyundai Tucson with only 12k miles on it.  That is practically new.  It has the SEL Plus option package so it is very nicely equipped.  They are asking 27k for it.  An actual new one is close to 40k. I have an appointment to see it tomorrow.  I am probably going to buy it, but I can't say for certain because I have never even driven a Hyundai.  

This Tucson is at the CarMax in my former hometown, Modesto.  So my grand plan is to drive SB's little Toyota Corolla to Mom's, take her and my nephew to the CarMax, then if it is a yes my nephew can drive SB's Corolla back to Mom's and we can proceed south to my niece's house.

 

A Decision to Make

October 14th, 2022 at 01:02 pm

I had yet another medical procedure yesterday; this time it was a D&C.  Without going into too much graphic detail, my menstrual cycle has not been behaving the way you would expect in a 55 year old woman.  My primary doctor said she would be content to take a wait and see approach if not for the fact that the cancer I had earlier this year was hormone receptive, and the drug I am now taking (tamoxifin) has as a side effect increased risk of uterine cancer.  So off to a specialist I went, who agreed with my primary, and I spent yesterday going under general anesthesia for the procedure, complete with a camera insertion.  They did find some polyps and I will get the results of those sometime in the near future.

So the day before the procedure, I had just gotten off work and stopped to pick up some take out.  SB was scheduled to work late and I did not feel like cooking.  I got back in my car and it wouldn't start.  It clearly wasn't the battery as my dash lit up, my AC began to blow, and I had just used the remote key to open the car.  No sound from under the hood, not even the initial click. This situation had happened before about 1.5 years previously and I had a new starter installed.  I waited a few minutes and tried again, then waited and tried a third time.  Still nothing. I had to call a tow truck, get a tow to a nearby repair place, drop the key and instructions in their overnight slot.  I called SB while waiting for the tow truck and he said he would leave work early and come to collect me.  I should mention here that our home is 22 miles north from the town where I work, and it is up a mountain.  Of course the tow truck driver will not drop me home.  SB works in a small mountain town a bit further north than ours,  so I had to wait a while at the repair place for SB to arrive.  I demonstrated for his viewing enjoyment the fact that my car would not start.  So it was official.  It had been 2 hours of my car not starting.

Yesterday while I was having my procedure, SB went to the repair place to discuss my car.  Guess what?  It started immediately for them.  I actually did not think this was good news.  What is going on with my car?  I need to be able to rely on it starting.  I do a lot of driving through remote areas and I do not want to be stranded.

Today I am just resting at home.  Tomorrow I plan to drive down to my mom's house, then take her a couple of hours further south to my niece's house.  She and her husband moved into a new house last month, and have recently taken in 3 small children through an adoption agency, with plans to adopt them.  They are a sibling group, ages 3 years, 2 years, and 6 months.  This niece is also the mother of Mya, the baby for whom I cross-stitched that "Once Upon A Time, A Princess Was Born" project I shared a few years back.  Mya is now 3.   Mom and I have yet to meet their new children and see their new home.  

That is 9 hours of round-trip driving planned for tomorrow.  It's not that unusual for me, and I need to be able to rely on my car.

This particular niece and I have been planning a surprise 90th birthday party for my mom this December.  This past week I have confirmed that an aunt from Indiana, in her 80s herself, is making the trip out to attend.  My mom is going to be so delighted!  This aunt is Mom's sister-in-law.  She was married for many years to my Dad's youngest brother.  Mom has known her since they were both young wives.  It's a big deal because there just aren't too many from that generation left.  Also a cousin from Vancouver, WA, and a cousin from Spokane, WA and his wife.  

And...my kids are both flying out from Illinois!  Squee!!  While my kids are here, we will be making a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (my daughter's request).  We visited often when the kids were growing up and they have that new deep water exhibit that we all want to see.  They will only be here for 5 days but we are going to make the most of our time together.  

The day before the party, I am going to show up with them at Mom's and tell her happy early birthday present.  She will be surprised and delighted, and I think it will throw her off and make her think that nothing else big is afoot.  The day of the party, I will insist that we are going out to lunch, then drive her to her party instead.  We are having it in the fellowship hall of the church she attends.  

So what is the big decision to make, you ask?  The car.  Do I replace it?  It is a 2008 Honda CR-V with 180k miles.  I am perfectly content driving it and had hoped to get a much higher number on the odometer.  I do not have enough cash on hand to replace it, so buying a different car would mean a loan.  I'm not really in to having loans.  However, I'm also not into being stranded for hours at a time.  And I was lucky to be right in town.  I drive through canyons with no cell signal daily.  I just don't know.  

 

Safe From Mosquito Fire

September 30th, 2022 at 01:55 am

Well, what a crazy couple of weeks it has been.  The Mosquito Fire started small, then a few days in there was a very windy day and it grew exponentially.  It was about 2.5 miles north of us and 1 mile east of us, with nothing in between but dry timber.   The situation changed FAST.  Our area was evacuated.  I was at work when it happened.  SB sent me this picture, taken from our little front yard just as he was leaving:

I thought for sure that our place was going to burn.  However, a CalFire crew did a big dozer line just to the east of us, and it held.   We got SO lucky. Smile

As it happened,  we had been asked to house sit for some friends about 30 miles away.  We had declined to stay there for their entire vacation, but agreed to stay there some nights.  Well, we ended up staying the whole time.  Again, we were so lucky.  We did not have to pay for a single night of lodging.

Meanwhile, I started my new job while we were evacuated.  It was hard to focus while we were waiting to see what the fire would do.  This is my third week and all is going well so far. I am really enjoying it, but it is a big change of focus for me.  I work in a beautiful building, with offices centered around a big atrium. It is such a pleasure to enjoy this space. Here is a picture I snapped while sitting at my desk: