Monday, June 29, 2009

More Madoff Musing

While the big news is that Bernie was sentenced to 150 years, I'm more interested in what happens with Ruth. Of course, there is the question of what did Ruth know and when did she know it??? It is, however, the daily living questions that I am hoping that the tabloids will report on.

1. Where to live? She will be living on the returns of $2.5million which should bring $100-125,000 per year. No way could she continue to live in Manhattan--COL is too high and the unforgiving attitudes of the Manhattanites who are now even poorer than she is would make living there very uncomfortable. Perhaps, Florida where the prices of condos are exceptionally low just now. OTOH, living in Florida would make it difficult to visit Bernie who will be somewhere in the Northeast.

2. She will need investment advise on the best way to make her $2.5 million last another 20-25 years. Who could she trust with her life savings??

3. That brings to mind, she will need someone to do her 2009 income tax returns; I doubt if TurboTax will suffice. Can you just imagine the accountant she asks to do her taxes???

4. What if she gets sick? Does she have health insurance? Medicare? Medicare supplemental insurance? Long term care insurance?

5. Can she draw her own or Bernie's Social Security?

5. What will she drive? and can she afford car insurance, maintenance, gasoline, and license fees?

6. Will her children help her or do they have financial problems or job loss problems of their own.

One thing is for sure, life as she knew it is over.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Goal 2009 Update #12

We were able to pay $4,000 extra principal with the July 1 house payment. That brings us down to $38,243. The really notable thing though is that if we had only paid the regular payment with no extra principal, we would still owe $268,184. Think of all the interest that we have not paid!!

Thought for the Day:

Well done is better than well said. - Ben Franklin

A Conglomeration

Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson is dead at age 50 and you would think something important had happened with all the media hype. He was a popular singer 20 years ago. Since then he has been a weird recluse who appears occassionally to have facial surgery or to be sued. I guess it has been a slow news week and the media need something to stir things up. TSM said that CBS devoted the entire evening news to it; glad I don't have television.

I think we only have one resident hummer this year--at least, I only see one at a time--a beautiful Ruby Throated. He comes to the feeder frequently and sometimes I see him working the salvia blooms. I wonder if the drought is the reason that we only have one this year.

Record Heat
It is hot, very hot--104 on Wednesday. 95 days until cooler weather...

Thought for the Day:

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists of the elimination of non essentials. Lin Yutang

Monday, June 22, 2009


by Edward Andrews.
A NYT financial writer loses his mind, leaves his wife, buys a house he cannot afford, moves his new soulmate in, racks credit card debt up the gazoo, and tries to borrow his way out of debt. (I told you he had lost his mind.) Actually, he writes the most clear and understandable explanation of the mortgage fraud/crisis that I have come across. It is only when he writes about his and soulmate's personal financial disaster that I just find it hard to believe that someone could be so stupid.
It's a good read but I came away shaking my head at the unbelievable mess he and soulmate made of their finances. I also came away wondering Did he and soulmate ever get their finances straightened out? Did he and soulmate stay together or did the financial strain break them apart?

Thought for the Day:

Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness. Pearl Buck

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fly, baby, fly!!

Our back porch baby swallows flew for the first time this morning. Mom and Dad were swooping around giving encouragement and flying instructions. The babies didn't look all that enthusiastic about actually getting off the ledge. There are two babies; the first one fluttered around and more or less crash landed on the hummingbird feeder hanging about 6 feet away. The second baby saw what happened and hopped back in the nest. Baby #2 eventually got out of the nest, fluttered around, and landed (not too gracefully) back on the ledge. Flying doesn't seem to be a problem but the landings definitely need some work. Darling baby swallows!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sewing machine drama

In 1963 my mother bought a brand new Singer sewing machine in an oak cabinet. She bought it to replace the sewing machine that was ruined when the house flooded in Hurricane Carla. That sewing machine made dresses for me through high school and college, it made the dress that I brought TSM home from the hospital in, and dozens of quilt tops and so much more. I was using it until last week when it stopped. It just stopped. I was sure that it could not be repaired. I could never throw it away--more likely, if it were truly dead, I would want it to be buried with a funeral and gravestone. I found a Singer repair shop and took it in this morning and joy of joys, it looks like it can be repaired!! JMM is going to bring it home Thursday so this weekend, it will be back home with me. Almost like a member of the family home from the hospital.

Pleasant View Schoolhouse

There have been no blog posts, no journal entries, and very little else done since I discovered this beautiful weblog. I've been giving myself a treat every chance I get to partake of the life and times at Pleasant View Schoolhouse. It is a visual delight and a balm to the soul. (If you get started reading it and get nothing else done for the next 5 days, don't say you weren't warned.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009


JMM and I just celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary and a lot of why we were able to do this is because we have always lived under our means. I am the family bill payer and budgeter but JMM is always part of the planning. We always have a plan because the fact of the matter is that if you don't tell your money how to behave, it will rule you, make a shambles of your marriage, and ruin your life.
I don't mind paying for goods or services; I'm not out to get something for nothing. The thing I really don't like paying is interest. We pay our credit card off every 2 weeks. JMM's truck and my van were paid off withing 6 months of purchase. Our previous house was paid off and this house will be paid off less than 6 years after building. I keep an emergency fund of $6000; the thing about emergencies is that you know that they will happen, you just don't know when or what.
This year's goal is to finish paying off the house and get the emergency fund up to $7000. Next year's goal will be to save up the money for a new vehicle and raise the emergency fund to $8000.

Thought for the Day:

Debt, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slavedriver.
Ambrose Bierce quotes

Sometimes really bad happens

I work in a hospital and see sick people all the time ; I hope that I help to either get them on the road to recovery or at least make them more comfortable. The ones that touch me the most are the young adults with Cystic Fibrosis or Sickle Cell Anemia. Life is such a struggle for them and in all reality will never be a whole lot better. Sickness is nothing unusual in my profession but here lately I have seen some really tragic situations. First there is Sharon with her husband sinking deeper into dementia; she is his 24/7 caretaker and the one who has to earn their living. Then there is Stephanie who is recovering from terrible burns following a plane crash; she has 4 children and cannot take care of them. The good thing with her is that they are Mormons and have good support from their community and family and she is improving. Yesterday, I learned that Brandy's husband is critically ill with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome; it is unknown whether he will live and if so what condition he will be in. Hard to understand.

Thought for the day:
What is the purpose of life? Why are we here? To help each other get through it.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Very Good Day

There are days when you have so much to do but obstacles keep coming up frustrating all attempts to get anything done. This was NOT one of them. The stars must have been in the correct alignment because I just zipped along from one place to the next getting everything done. I went to the cleaners, to the bagel shop, had my 9 o'clock haircut appointment, bought nuts at the warehouse, bought stamps for the newsletter at the Post Office, went to Penney's (where they not only had what I wanted in my size but it was on sale—buy one, get one free!!), picked up a sandwich at the Potbelly's drive through, and was home BY NOON. Since my luck was soooo good, I probably should have bought a lottery ticket...but I don't buy lottery tickets but I'll betcha if I did buy lottery tickets, the one I would have bought would have won...

Thought for the Day:

"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace." John Lennon

Friday, June 5, 2009

National Healthcare

Is this ever a topic to ruminate over!! Thoughts in no particular order:

1. We waste sooooo much money in the current system.

2. Other countries manage to provide reasonable healthcare for their citizens.

3. Everyone (with the possible exception of the Warren Buffetts and Bill Gates income levels) is really just one catastrophic disease away from bankruptcy whether they have insurance or not.

4. If I were an insurance company, I would sure want to require everyone to have insurance, i.e. pay me. (And we have all had such pleasant memories of trying to get the insurance to actually pay for things....)

5. The conversation stopper: FEMA

The Lost City of Z by David Gramm

I finished listening to this on CD on my way home from work last night. It is non-fiction about the explorer P.H.Fawcett and his explorations into the Amazon in the 1920's and especially about his search for the lost city of Z. All I can say is that I may have been willing to go on one expedition into the Amazon but after starving, being eaten my insects and parasites, and infections, I sincerely doubt that I would ever have gone back. It evidently takes a mind set that I lack. The book was interesting and I learned much about the indigenous people of the Amazon and I learned more than I wanted to know about maggots and the body. Usually one of the best things about listening to books on CD is the reader's voice; this one was adequate but not outstanding.

I have mostly stopped buying books on paper and get them on CD to listen to while on my daily commute. Although it is more expensive, I really enjoy listening more and besides it makes the commute much more enjoyable.

Thought for the Day:
"A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it." Samuel Johnson

Monday, June 1, 2009

Putting things off

We are focusing so intently on getting the mortgage paid off that there are many things that I choose to just put off. There are big things like replacing furniture, blinds, & valances and little things like new sheets and kitchen towels. Being a habitual list maker, I have a When the House Is Paid Off list. We are getting close--6 more months--and I am getting antsy to start working through the list. (At the top of the list is a dishwasher replacement.) I don't want to do anything though that would jeopardize accomplishing the main objective but oooooh how anxious I am to start down that list!!

Thought for the Day:
Lord give me patience and give it to me right now.

GM in Bankruptcy

Today's news is all about the GM bankruptcy. I suppose the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history is newsworthy but it is hardly something new, unexpected, out of the blue. Then handwriting was really on the wall when GM lost customers like JMM and me. Why have we bought Japanese cars and not GM?? Simple dependability. The one time we bought a GM vehicle was in the early 1980's when we bought an Oldsmobile. It was a dream to drive--for about 2 years and then things started going wrong with it--the a/c, the windows, etc. I finally traded it in and we went back to Toyotas--good gas mileage and utter dependability. I now have a Honda Odyssey with over 100,000 miles on it and guess how many times I have had problems with it--zero. I take it in for maintenance and never have I had any problems with it. And the Honda dealership where I take it, treats me like royalty.

I am sorry for the GM workers, bond holders, and retirees but not sorry enough to buy a GM car.

Thought for the day:

Henry Ford:
A setback is an opportunity to begin again more intelligently.

My Luxury

I admit it, I love having someone come in and clean my house. And I love Adrian. About 8 years ago, I decided that with my CMT either work or housework was going to have to go and since I make a lot more money than I would save by cleaning my own house, I would hire someone to clean. Back in the old days when most everyone had household help, you could check around and see who was available and who had good references. Now though, everything is franchised and you really don't know who is going to show up. So I called Molly Maids and took a chance. The house was cleaned but the people kept changing. After less than a year that Molly Maid franchise folded but one of the regular cleaners asked if he could continue to clean for me--that was Adrian. I said sure, same days, same pay which worked out fine for me because I had a regular, steady cleaner and fine for him because he didn't have to split off a percentage for the franchise owner. As I got to know Adrian, I liked him better and better. He is very dependable and does a good job. I pay him $100 to clean my house--it is well above the going rate but I want to be his number 1 priority. Anyway, I encouraged him to expand his business--business cards and fliers, and to get dependable people to work with him so that he could build his business. He now has all the business he can handle; he says that his biggest problem is finding reliable workers to help him. He is from El Salvador and is the kind of immigrant that we need more of. The sun is shining and Adrian is here cleaning, all is well in my world.

Thought for the day:

But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?- Albert Camus