Sunday, June 27, 2010

Debt is a problem

Personal debt and government debt is a world wide problem. Here is an interesting interactive from The Economist:

Take a look at the Britain's overall debt as a percent of GDP or Japan's government debt or Switzerland's personal debt levels. Wow, we aren't the only ones who have gone crazy!

I have been reading recently about Britain's recently presented budget which essentially cuts 25% and greatly increases taxes (including a VAT of 20%). Hmm, paying more and getting less; wonder how that's going to play at the local pub?

So far Texas has been able to get by with no personal income tax and only 8.25% sales tax. Of course, there are property taxes which for us have been stable for the past few years.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Afghanistan (Again)

The good thing about the firing of General McChrystal is that at least people are thinking about Afghanistan and our presence there. I wonder how much longer we will continue to pour money and lives into it. At a time when budgets at home are being slashed and taxes increased, we continue to pour billions into Afghanistan. I wonder if half the money and men that have been spent in Iraq and Afghanistan had been spent instead on securing our borders, real homeland security, and making sure we knew who was actually in our country, where they are, and what they are doing, if we wouldn't be a lot better off.

We are being terribly naive in thinking that we can go into a culture completely different from our own and enlighten them about the really, truly right way to govern themselves. As for being there to train the Afghan Army, I just can't believe that given the history of Afghanistan, they really don't know how to fight.

We should begin the withdrawal yesterday.

Lunar Eclipse

So many times we are in the wrong hemisphere, or the wrong place on the hemisphere, or there is cloud cover obscuring the view, or (most likely) I sleep through it. But this morning's lunar eclipse was clearly visible and JMM woke me up to see it. Lovely. What a beautiful world.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I am beginning to have some hope that my GI problem might at long last be solved. I had an ERCP yesterday that cleared stones and stuff from my bile duct. So far, I have not had any abdominal pain or discomfort at all, even after eating. I have lost a 24 pounds since last December because of the discomfort. I'm glad to have lost the weight but it has been a pretty awful way to do it. So far, so good; just keeping my fingers crossed that the problem is solved.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


I saw the sweetest thing this afternoon. Bandit and I were out under the trees and I was busily trying to identify a bird (turned out to be a tufted titmouse, 4 of them). I was so intent on the bird book that I din not notice the mama raccoon and her 5 babies as they were on their way to the tree with their feeding tray until they were about 5 feet away from me. All 7 of us just froze in place when we saw each other. Then zap went the babies up the nearest tree just like mama taught them. Mama moved quickly to behind a tree a little further toward the woods and one by one the babies went down the first tree and up the second where they softly chattered to each other, I suppose calling out to be sure everyone was accounted for. Then quickly everyone moved off into the thick underbrush. Just darling. (I was glad to see that Bandit had sense enough to leave mama and baby raccoons alone!!)


JMM and I have talked for a couple of years about keeping bees but never did anything about it. We have decided that we will attend the County Beekeepers Association meetings and get things ready for starting next spring. The next meeting is Tuesday, July 12 at 7:30 PM. I love watching the bees on our flowers and am never afraid of them as so many people are. We have Beekeeping for Dummies-- JMM is reading it and I want to read it also. JMM has ordered a video which is supposed to be very informative also. I'll see what is available from the library too. However, I anticipate that we will learn more from the Beekeepers Association and from our own experience than from books or videos. This should be an interesting experiment.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Two Good Books

I finished Daughter of Fortune by Isabelle Allende and it was fantastic. It is the first book by her that I have read but I can guarantee that it won't be the last. The reader's voice as I listened to it on audio CD added so much to it. Excellent!!

If you have watched the Cadfael series, you are familiar with Ellis Peters monk Brother Cadfael. My husband told me that the books were much better than the television version but I since I loved the television series, I didn't believe him. Well, I was wrong. I have downloaded A Morbid Taste for Bones on my i-Pod and oh my, it is excellent.

I do love good books.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I am a big believer in staying out of debt. But, IMHO, it is impossible to stay out of debt without savings accounts. Why? Because stuff happens. If you've got a car, it is going to need repairs, general maintenance, and something is going to leak, squeek, fall off, or break and this means money. Same goes for houses, pets, and children. That's even when the big stuff like illness, job loss, or divorce doesn't happen. Everyone needs an emergency fund. Since I am a bit hyper about being in control of my finances, I have 4 savings accounts. The first one is my General Emergency fund--I used to keep $5,000 in it but with the jobs situation & the economy being what they are, I have increased that to $10,000. The second is my new vehicle fund--my van has 120,000+ miles on it and while it still runs perfectly, eventually it will have to be replaced and along with it, I will need a new lift for my scooter installed in the new vehicle. I want to have $25,000 in that fund to be available when needed; I am at $11,000 now. The third savings account is my HIP fund (Homeowner's Association fees, Insurance, & Property taxes). Since our house is mortgage free, we have to have the money to pay our homeowner's insurance and property taxes when they come due. These come to $11,000 per year; so I put $450 per paycheck into that fund and ouila, when I need to pay it, the money is already there. The fourth area of saving is our combined retirement accounts. I am perfectly able to work now but this is not always going to be the case so my goal is to have $1 million in retirement funds; we currently have $730,000.
If you spend everything that comes in, life becomes a series of emergencies and no sooner than you get one emergency paid off than another crops up. This is no way to enjoy life. Even a small emergency fund is better than no emergency fund at all. As Dave Ramsey says, Christmas is not an emergency, it comes every year. My point is that the more things you can be prepared for, the fewer real emergencies you will have. And this preparation can only be done by living below your means.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sampler Quilt

I pieced these blocks 20 years ago but never put them together into a quilt. They are all hand pieced; I could not do the tiny stitching that I did in piecing these blocks today. I think a simple border around each block will set off them off nicely.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Good things in life

Watching nature--birds, flowers, bees, butterflies. The nice thing about this is, nature is as close as my back porch--don't have to go anywhere, just sit down, be quiet, and watch.

Good books. I am becoming especially fond of good audio books. A good reader just brings the book to life.

Eating out. I know it is fashionable now to love to cook but I don't, so there.

Cats. Affectionate, quiet, each unique personality, do not require walks (but do require litter boxes...)

Quilting. I love putting colors, fabrics, and patterns together. I think everyone needs some creative activity.

Cleaning something out. I don't mean the everyday stuff like dishes and dusting and bathrooms. What I like to do is clean out and organize something. I recently cleaned out and organized the back closet. Next I want to go through all our old videos and give the ones we'll not watch again to the library and organize the others.

Comfortable clothes. What a blessing it is to not wear pantyhose and pointy toe shoes!!

Haircuts and manicures and a massage. Oh my, what a luxury!!

What are some of life's good things for you?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Butterfly Garden

I took some pictures of the flowers in our butterfly garden. The salvias were lovely but have faded with the heat. Fortunately there is plenty of Black-eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed, and Verbena. I'm not quick enough with the camera to get pictures of the butterflies; we had several lovely swallow-tails yesterday and always the little yellow sulphur butterflies. Anyway, here are some of the flowers:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Does anyone remember learning shorthand?? I took a semester of it in high school along with typing. Those were the prerequisites for a secretarial job (just in case teaching or nursing didn't work out). I was never really proficient at it but learned enough to help me take notes in my college classes. About all I remember now are words like "and", "the", and "of". There's an article in the WSJ about a woman who runs a web based transcription service for people who want old shorthand documents transcribed.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

As the oil in the Gulf spreads, as the birds and dolphins die, as the economic consequences unfold, as government and BP executives are blamed, isn't there somewhere we are forgetting to look for the ultimate responsibility for this disaster? Don't we want cheap oil? Don't we want to rid ourselves of goverment regulation? Why would we want to spend tax dollars on safety inspections or disaster preparedness? Hmmm, where, oh where does the blame really belong?
(While we are thinking about where to look, let's consider where we are currently pouring our nation's talent and treasure and if it is possible that we are not using it wisely.)