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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 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  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. 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: