Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January Decluttering

I had resolved to declutter three items a day in the month of January and to include some bonus items to bring the total up to 100 items.  Some days, it was easy to find three items a day, other days, I struggled!  I tried not to include regular recycling, such as empty boxes and cans, but one or two ended up on the list, anyway!

Here's what I decluttered in January:

- 2 pens (one had dried out, the other ran out of ink as I was writing)
- 1 stem glass (broke!)

- 1 gift bag from my stash
- 1 empty sparkling apple cider bottle
- 1 empty gallon sized milk jug

- 1 blouse that was starting to fray and the silver trimming was starting to wear off
- 1 pair of grey pants that was too big
- 1 calendar (2017)

1/3 Decluttering

- 1 black skirt I bought years ago but never wore as it was too tight at first, felt too short to wear to the office (although it was knee length - I like my skirts to be longer), and is now too loose!  
- 1 old wallet (daughter bought me a new one)
- 1 old pocket planner
1/4 Decluttering

- 1 catalog
- 2 magazines

1/6: Didn't declutter as I was too tired to do it

1/7: declutterings included 3 items to make up for 1/6, when I didn't declutter:
3 gift bags from the stash
2 books
1 dead anthurium plant

- 2 empty glass bottles from the rose and almond essences for the love cake
- 1 empty lotion bottle

- 3 books 

- 2 dried out crazy glue tubes
- 1 cracked plate

- 1 binder/procedures manual
- 2 pens

- 2 bathmats
- 1 glass pickle jar

 - 3 small glass jars

- 1 plastic food container
- 1 sinus rinse kit
- 1 jar petroleum jelly  (old!)

- 1 travel size container of shampoo (ancient)
- 1 travel size container of body wash (equally ancient)
- 1 lip balm (also ancient)

- 1 empty dry roasted peanuts jar
- 1 glass jar
- 1 plastic food container with lid

- 1 plastic cereal container (minus lid) 
- 1 candle stub
- 1 old highlighter pen

- 1 wooden ornament (broken)
- 1 plastic package clip
- 1 medicated ointment (prescribed for radiation burns)

3 magazines 

1/19 Decluttering

1 pair of slacks
1 sweater
1 blouse

1/20 Decluttering
- 3 pencils

- 3 highlighters

- 3 pens

- 3 handkerchiefs

 - 3 handkerchiefs 
(I kept 3 additional handkerchiefs - one embroidered one that had belonged to my mother, one that my aunt gave me on my wedding day which was my "something borrowed and something blue", and one which had belonged to my stepfather, with his initial embroidered; keeping all 3 for sentimental reasons)

- 3 pencils

- 3 pencils

- 2 old bathmats
- 1 hat  
- 3 hats (given by the Cancer Center when I was undergoing chemo treatments)

1/29 Decluttering

- 3 hats (from the Cancer Center and one that I bought)

1/30 Decluttering

- 3 blouses 

1/31 Decluttering

Bonus items (to make it 100 items tossed):
- 7 pens 

A lot of small items, but that's OK.  I have a bag of clothes to donate; most of the rest was recycled or tossed.

Did you declutter anything in January?  Did it get easier as you went or harder?

Tuesday's Happenings

Last night, I dreamt that I was cleaning the house, trying to get ready for an almsgiving or something, and my mother was alive and she had let go of the house keeper and I was getting angry because now I had to do all this cleaning by myself and, to make matters worse,  in my dream, the kitchen was outdoors and there were all these big rocks to get around!  I have the weirdest dreams!  I always wake up feeling tired from all the work I do in my dreams!  LOL! 

The drive to work was really congested, this morning.  Traffic was practically at a standstill at one point, and then, it started to move and there was no accident or anything to have caused a delay!  Anyway, I got to work without any incidents, which is always nice.  I was listening (and singing along) to a favorite CD, so the drive itself was quite pleasant.

The work day was OK.  I did what I had to do, including attending a really long drawn out meeting. 

I called the cemetery manager and discussed the issue with the grave site.  She promised to look into and said she'll have the grave site cleaned.  She asked for my cell phone number to post me pictures after it is cleaned, but I don't give out my cell phone number to many people, so I gave my regular phone number and said I'll be checking on the grave in person.  She said she wasn't sure if she could get to it this weekend - well, we'll see.

However, I forgot to call the surgeon's office to say that I had seen the doctor, yesterday.  Will call tomorrow. 

In the afternoon, I went for another walk.  This time, I went in a different direction and up a slight incline.  I used to walk up that incline years ago, when I used to travel to work and back by bus and I took that incline in stride.  Today, I am chagrined to say that it winded me!  So, that is going to be my next challenge - to try to build up my stamina to climb that incline and sustain it (the incline continues for three additional blocks, that I didn't walk, today).

Yarn-bombed Fence!
I passed by a vacant lot that is being developed as a park, and I saw these yarn figures on the fence - probably a leftover from the Women's March?

Then, I passed by this mosaic, which is a fountain, as well:

It is titled "A Topographical Map of Water Sources in Los Angeles County"
It used to have water flowing down the canals, but almost all the fountains have been turned off as a water saving measure.

After I came home, I watched the State of the Union address and the response.  Then, watched news and a TV program about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (part of the American Experience series on PBS).

Then, I prepared my dinner - all I cooked today was the rice; the other times were from the freezer and I just had to reheat them in the microwave. 

Dinner - Rice, Shrimp Curry, Green Beans, Lentils

Breakfast had been a banana; lunch had been leftover noodles, chicken, and peanut sauce from last night's dinner.  I packed the leftovers from dinner for my lunch, tomorrow, and washed the dishes.

Then, I replied to my friend's email and video chatted with my daughter.  She made herself some "chocolate chip cookie in a mug cake" while we chatted.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Another, lovely, warm day
- A safe commute to the office and back
- Another afternoon walk
- An easy dinner!
- Being able to listen to some of my favorite music in the car

 Tuesday's To Do List:
- Go to the office - DONE
- Call the surgeon's office - Oops!  Forgot!
- Call the cemetery manager - DONE
- Bring the trash cans in - DONE
- Put away dried laundry - DONE
- Put away the dried dishes - DONE
- Paperwork/pay bills/file - DID SOME

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Go to the office
- Call the surgeon's office
- Water the back garden
- Clean the bathroom

How was your Tuesday?  What have you planned for Wednesday?

Monday, January 29, 2018

Monday: Hello Summer!

Today, we had another summer-like day, with a high of 86F downtown, when I went to my doctor's appointment in the afternoon!   That's just the right temperature for me!

I tried to go to sleep relatively early, last night.  I was in bed by 1:00 a.m.  Then, I stayed up till 1:30 a.m., doing a crossword puzzle.  But I didn't actually fall asleep until about 2:00 a.m.  It was OK because I could sleep in, in the morning.    I kept waking up every so often, but I slept till 9:30 a.m.  So, I got a decent night's sleep.

I had a relaxed morning, replying to comments on yesterday's post and reading and commenting on other blogs.  Brunch was a scrambled egg and half an orange.

After that, I swept the bathroom, took a shower, and got dressed to go to the clinic.  My appointment was at 2:15 p.m., but I left the house at 1:00 p.m., as I didn't want to rush and one never knows how the traffic will be.  I got to the clinic a little early, but that was OK.  I read my prayer book and then, did a crossword puzzle while I waited.  This time, I was able to park in the medical building and the clinic validated my parking, so all I had to pay was $3.00 ($8 without validation); last time, the parking garage was full and I had to park in the parking lot across the street and pay $10.00!

Last night, I made a note to myself to remember to take my copy of the surgeon's request with me.  The surgeon's office had faxed the information to the clinic and they should have had a copy of it in my file, but, of course, they didn't!  Good thing I thought to take it with me!  Because the nurse asked if I had a copy of it, as they couldn't find their copy!  How did I know? 

Anyway, they did the EKG and the doctor said it looked good.  They did the blood tests and we are waiting for the results.  The doctor put in the request for the chest x-ray and I am waiting to be scheduled for that.  Hopefully, sometime this week?  The surgery has to be done within 30 days of the blood tests.

By the time all that was done, it was 3:30 p.m.  Rush hour traffic had already begun; it was 4:30 p.m. by the time I got home.  I had a slight headache by then, so I ate a banana and the rest of the orange, took a Tylenol, and drank a cup of tea. 

Then, I did a load of laundry, put water to the front garden, took the trash cans out to the curb, and cleaned out the fridge.  I washed all the glass shelves and the drawers.  The shelves on the door will be wiped another day. 

After that, I cooked dinner.  I had taken out a package of already cooked teriyaki chicken tenders.  I didn't want to make a stir fry, again, so I just sliced it and heated it up.  Then, I made a peanut sauce to go with it:

Peanut Sauce and Teriyaki Chicken

And fried noodles, except, I used spaghetti instead of noodles, because that's what I had.  I added some shredded cabbage and a grated carrot to the noodles/pasta:

Fried Noodles with Cabbage and Carrots

Some spring onions would have been good in it, too, but I didn't have any.

Dinner - my version of Thai peanut noodles

I must say, it was quite tasty.  I packed some of the leftovers to take for my lunch, tomorrow.  I have a little bit more of the noodles left, some chicken, and lots of peanut sauce. 

Between the fridge cleaning and cooking, I had a pile of dishes to wash, again!  So, I did the dishes, wiped the stove top and the counters, and took out the kitchen trash. 

My cousin P called in the evening and we chatted a bit.  Later, daughter and I video chatted. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- A good visit with the doctor
- Another warm day!
- A safe drive to the clinic and back
- Validated parking
- Chatting with my cousin and daughter

Monday's To Do List:
- Doctor's appointment - DONE
- Clean the fridge - DONE
- Take the trash cans to the curb - DONE
- Water the front garden - DONE
- Clean the litter box - DONE
- Paperwork/pay bills/file - DID SOME

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Go to the office
- Call the surgeon's office
- Call the cemetery manager
- Bring the trash cans in
- Put away dried laundry
- Put away the dried dishes
- Paperwork/pay bills/file

How was your Monday?  Did you have a good day and a good start to your week?

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Windy Sunday - Another Visit to the Cemetery and January Grocery Shopping Week 4

They arrived very late last night/very early this morning - the hot, dry winds known as the Santa Ana winds.  Blowing from the Mohave Dessert, through the mountain passes, to the Pacific Ocean.  Our temperature was almost 80F, today!  Needless to say, I loved the temperature (but not the winds, so much). 
I enjoyed a nice cup of tea, this morning (with condensed milk since I finished the last of the regular milk with my coffee, yesterday morning), and later, had a brunch of hash browns (the last potato, although I ate only half of the hash browns), a scrambled egg (the last one in the carton; sounds like someone needed to go grocery shopping, doesn't it?), and half a fresh orange from the tree, which had fallen for the winds (the other half had cracked and split, so I cut it off).
Chatted on the phone with my daughter who called to say good morning, and with my neighbor T, who called for our weekly chat.  I also called friend R, again, and left a message.
Finally, in the afternoon, I ran a few errands. 
First, I went to the cemetery to check on my mother's grave; it was the same as last week - the grave stone was more or less clear because I had wiped it off and washed it, last week, but the mud hadn't been removed and it was still covering the in-ground vase.
Mother's grave with the mud covering up the in-ground vase
There should be a vase (turned up side down to prevent water collecting in it) with the opening and base of the vase showing like this:

In-ground vase at another grave

There was a guy in a golf cart type vehicle going around, so I assumed he was one of the grounds keepers, waved him over, and I showed the spot to him, but he said I needed to complain at the office and they had to issue a work order specifying what needed to be done.  I also showed him some of the nearby graves that had mud on them:
Nearby Grave Stone with Mud
I really wish I had taken a picture of my mother's grave the way it was, because it had mud both at the top and the bottom of the marker.  But I had been too upset that day and wasn't thinking, just reacting.
Anyway, I went to the office again, and the same receptionist was there.  She didn't remember me, but I remembered her name.  I reminded her that I had been there last week, too, and she had taken down my particulars to give to a manager who was supposed to call me, but I never received a call.  Then, she said she remembered, and said she emailed the manager and expressed surprise that the manager hadn't contacted me.  The manager isn't there during the weekend, she said, only during the week.  This time, I made sure to get the business card of the manager, so I have a name and number to contact her.  At least, the graves are not vandalized; just not maintained properly.
After that, I put gas to the car.  Gas has gone up to $3.15/gal., but, at least it is still available and it isn't as expensive as it was during the economic down-turn!  I put $35 worth of gas and it filled the tank. That should last me for the week.  (I budget $50/week for gas.)
Then, I went to the grocery store across the street from the gas station and did some grocery shopping.
1/28 Groceries
I bought:
1/2 gal. milk = $1.99
1 doz. large eggs = $1.49
1 pineapple = $.99
1 bunch bananas (5) @ $.49/lb = $.77
1 cucumber = $.50
Total = $5.74

1/28 Receipt

I also bought two bags of cat food, which cost $8.99 each, plus $1.71 tax, which brought up my entire bill to $25.43!  But, cat food is not part of my grocery budget, so my portion of the bill is only $5.74!

I also spent $3.50 on Friday, when I bought a bag of raisin buns at the Japanese bakery, during my walk, so that brings my Week 4 grocery spending to ($3.50 + $5.74) = $9.24
January Grocery Budget = $75
Spent to date: $40.14 + $5.58 + $2.81 + $9.24 = $57.77
Balance remaining = $75 - $57.77 = $17.23 

I doubt very much if I will grocery shop in the remaining days of January, so I am going to say that my January grocery spending was $55.77 and I will be carrying over the balance $17.23 to February.
After I came home, I had a cup of coffee,  Friend R returned my call, so I chatted with her for a bit.    Then, I watered the indoor plants and the newly planted grape vines (one of them is putting out new leaves, but the other looks either dead or still dormant; time will tell), put away the dried laundry from yesterday, did the dishes, and cleaned the rest of the kitchen counters!  I cleaned two of the bins in the fridge, too.  I will try to clean the rest of the fridge, tomorrow.  Two additional oranges had fallen from the tree, so I picked them up, washed them, and put them in my fruit bowl.
I cut up one of the mangoes I had in the fridge, before it spoiled.  It wasn't quite ripe and was rather sour, so I sprinkled it with salt and pepper; as a result, it was more of a salsa than a dessert!  But that's OK. I ate half of it and will eat the rest, tomorrow.

Today, I am grateful for:
- The sunny, warm day
- Nothing got blown down or over due to the winds, other than the two oranges
- The grave stones are not vandalized, just not maintained
- Gas is available and even if the price has gone up, it isn't as expensive as it was during the economic down-turn
- Keeping in touch with daughter and friends
All in all, I had a productive day and accomplished much.  I couldn't water the front garden as the wind was too strong and blowing the water back at me!  I didn't attend to the garage door yet, either, because I want to see if changing the bulb in the overhead mechanism would help (I read that LED bulbs can block the radio waves of the remote) and daughter doesn't want me to climb the ladder when I am alone.  So, I need to call my neighbor and have him change the bulb for me.  Then, the plan is to test the remote from inside the garage to see if it works.  If not, then, I'll need a new remote (I already replaced the remote battery, so it's not the battery).
Weekend To Do List:
- Visit the grave site to see if mother's grave marker has been cleared of mud- DONE
- Attend to the garage door - NOT YET
- Put gas to the car - DONE
- Do grocery shopping- DONE
- Clean the kitchen - DONE
- Do the dishes, again!- DONE
- Put away the dried laundry- DONE
- Water the indoor plants - DONE
- Water the grape vines - DONE
- Water the front garden - MONDAY
- Meal plan/cook - Put chicken (cooked) to thaw - will make??? stir-fry again???
- Paperwork/pay bills - MONDAY

Monday's To Do List:
- Doctor's appointment
- Clean the fridge
- Take the trash cans to the curb
- Water the front garden
- Clean the litter box
- Paperwork/pay bills/file

How was your Sunday?  What are your plans for Monday?

Saturday: Airing Clean Laundry!

The best part of Saturday is sleeping in!  I had set my alarm to wake up at 9:00 a.m., but when it rang, I turned it off and slept longer!  Ha, ha, but, I am not admitting to how much longer!  However, by the time I woke up, fed the cats (Dancer and the stray cats - sounds like a band, doesn't it?), had my coffee, and called my aunt C to check on her, it was practically noon!

Aunt C was happy I called; apparently she's been under the weather with a cough.  She said she had been to see the doctor and was taking some medication for the cough.  Fortunately, she doesn't have a fever, so it is not the dreaded flu.

After that, I called my friend R and left a message as she was out.  Then, I replied to blog comments, read and commented on other blogs, had brunch of garbanzo beans (leftover from the almsgiving and frozen; I reheated it in the microwave before eating), changed my bed sheets, and did some laundry (one load of bed sheets and one load of clothes).

Since there was some discussion in the comments on yesterday's post, about hanging up laundry to dry as a way to save on energy use, I thought I will talk about it a little bit more!  Hence the title for today's post.

Even when my dryer was working, I used of often hang my laundry on a line outside in the garden to dry.  Especially in the summer.  Unfortunately, ants used to walk on the clothes lines (I suppose the ground was too hot for them?) and not just one or two!  I used to often find ants on my line dried clothes!  It seemed that birds, too, liked to perch on the clothes lines (maybe they were eating the ants?) and I would sometimes have to re-wash some of the laundry because there were bird droppings on them!

These days, because my dryer isn't working properly, I hang all the laundry to dry.  But I no longer hang them outside; I hang them inside the house.  I have a large drying rack, that I set up either in the family room (usually, as the laundry closet is off the family room) or the living room:

Laundry Drying in the Family Room
I have two smaller drying racks, too.  They are especially useful if I want to dry something that is still dripping; I set them up in the bathtub!  I don't hang anything to dry outside because I am afraid of getting any fleas on them from the stray cats.  

I hang other items such as clothes on clothes hangers that I hang from the door frames:

Clothes Hanging from Door Frame
The door frames have about a half-inch ledge on which the hangers balance.

I hang the bed sheets from the door frames, too, but I use skirt hangers with clips to hang them:

Bed Sheet Hanging to Dry

Close-up of the hangers resting on the edge of the door frame

Yes, I know, not everyone likes having laundry hanging in the doorways in their house, but I don't mind.  I save on gas and electricity to operate the dryer, it is a very environmentally friendly thing to do, and the drying laundry adds a little humidity to our very dry air.  This type of laundry drying might not work in a very humid climate.  Daughter, for example, isn't permitted to hang her laundry to dry inside the apartment, according to her lease agreement, due to the mold problem they have there due to the humidity.

Later, I cleaned the litter box, washed the dishes, and started to clean the kitchen.  I did one of the counters and the stove top.  I will do the other counter, on Sunday.

My friend R returned my phone call in the evening and we chatted for a bit.

Then, daughter called to tell me all about her grocery haul from the dollar store.  The store is across the street from her, so she finds it very convenient to shop there.  There is also a Trader Joe's not too far from her apartment; it is, in fact, across the street from the bus stop where she takes the bus to come home from work, so, often, she'll shop there on her way home.  But, the dollar store is a cheaper place for a number of items.  She said she bought a spaghetti squash, a kabocha squash, some whole wheat pasta, a lettuce, a bag of spinach, a bag of the freeze dried peach slices that she loves, a can of Campbell's soup, refrigerated cinnamon roll dough, some noodles, a bottle of salad dressing, tuna and a can of mackerel.  There were a couple of other things she mentioned, but I've forgotten them!  She said she spent $20 on her purchases.  Earlier in the week, she had spent $3.50 at Trader Joe's to buy some dried persimmons.  She's happy to be able to keep her grocery spending to under $25, this week. 

Still later, I exchanged emails with a friend, video chatted with daughter, and watched some music videos online. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to sleep in
- A relaxed, yet productive, day
- Being able to air dry my clean laundry!
- Keeping in touch with family and friends
- Chatting with my daughter

Weekend To Do List:
- Attend to the garage door
- Put gas to the car
- Do grocery shopping
- Clean the kitchen - STARTED
- Do the dishes - DONE
- Change the bed sheets - DONE
- Do laundry - DID 2 loads
- Water the indoor plants
- Water the front garden
- Call aunt - DONE
- Call friend R - DONE
- Meal plan/cook
- Paperwork/pay bills

How was your Saturday?  What are your plans for Sunday?

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Friday's Recap

Today was sunny and a little warmer than yesterday.  I had the same amount of sleep (5 hrs.), but I felt rested when I woke up.  I wrote a note to my gardener friend M with instructions about what to do in the garden, but I forgot to leave it out for him before I left the house!  I only remembered it when I came home and he called to say he trimmed and cleaned the backyard as there was no note!  Oops!  

I went to the office and had a productive day.  In the afternoon, I went for my walk (I didn't walk, yesterday).  I took one photograph, but apparently, it didn't get saved on my phone, because I couldn't find it!  Oh, well, it will be another reason to walk back there, next week.  I bought myself a package of raisin buns from the bakery that is located along the route I walked today, and that probably undid all the benefits of the walk!  LOL!  At least it wasn't cake!  They had some really tempting cakes in their display case!

Today, I called regarding a bill I had received from the cancer clinic and took care of that - they shouldn't have billed me because I had met my co-pay deductibles and I had provided them with a copy of the letter from insurance, already.  The lady I spoke with was very nice, though, and said it will be taken care of. 

Then, I called the surgeon's office and spoke with the lady who will be scheduling the surgery, to inform her that I am scheduled to have my pre-ops done one Monday.  I wanted to get a feel for when she thought the surgery might be scheduled, because I need to notify daughter so she can arrange to come down for my surgery (the surgeon operates on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays).

After I came home, I watched some TV and chatted with daughter.

This week, I haven't heard from either Aunt C or friend Rwhich is a bit unusual.  I should call them, tomorrow.  Hope they are both keeping well. 

Today, I received my water and electric bill, which includes sewer service and trash collection fees.  This bill is received every two months, so the charges are for a two-month period.  I budget $150 per month for this bill, so have a budget of $300 for each billing period.  I arrived at the $150 per month figure by averaging a year's worth of charges and dividing by 12 to get a monthly amount.  The bill I received today covers the period of 11/16/17 to 1/20/18 and includes the time when daughter came home for the week of Thanksgiving and two weeks over Christmas/New Year.  The entire amount of the bill is $243.05 and is broken down as follows:
Electricity (313 kWh) = $55.78
Water (15 hundred cubic feet or HCF) = $87.54
Sewer (based on the amount of water used) = $20.92
Solid waste (trash) = $78.81  
Total = $243.05

Up to 1,000 kWh of electricity is allowed at Tier 1 (lowest rate) rates; and I used less than one third of that, so my electricity consumption is quite low.  I suppose I could get it down even lower if I don't stay up practically all night and keep the lights on!  LOL.

I also had to disable the automatic garage door mechanism because I found that the garage door had opened by itself and was wide open, one night!  So, I have been opening and closing the garage door, manually.  It's a bit inconvenient and I will be getting it fixed, but, in the meantime, I'll be saving a little bit of electricity usage there, too!   
I am allowed up to 16 HCF of water during this period at Tier 1 rates and I used 15, so I managed to stay under the limit, which is also good.  It is harder to cut back on water usage than on electricity, for me, because I do water the garden at least once a week.  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Getting the medical bill attended to
- Being able to get some additional information from the surgeon's office
- A sunny afternoon walk
- Raisin buns from the bakery
- Money to pay the bills
Weekend To Do List:
- Attend to the garage door
- Put gas to the car
- Do grocery shopping
- Clean the kitchen
- Do the dishes
- Change the bed sheets
- Do laundry
- Water the indoor plants
- Water the front garden
- Call aunt
- Call friend R
- Meal plan/cook
- Paperwork/pay bills 

How was your Friday?  What are your plans for the weekend?  What do you do to cut down on electricity and water usage?

Friday, January 26, 2018

A Quieter Thursday!

I overslept this morning!  Another night of not falling asleep till 3:00 a.m. and I guess I fell asleep again, after I turned off the alarms!  It was my daughter texting me to wish me a good morning that woke me up!  I heard the phone beep!  But I managed to get the back yard watered by turning on the sprinklers while I got dressed and drank my coffee.  My lunch had already been packed, last night, so it was just a matter of putting it in the lunch bag along with a banana and a granola bar.  I got to the office a bit later than usual, but I was in good time to print out reports for and attend the meeting that had been scheduled for the morning! 

Lunch: Ground Beef  & Vegetables
I had some ground beef that I had browned and frozen.  I thawed it with the intention of making a cottage pie, and added half an onion, diced, some diced celery, a grated carrot, and a handful of frozen green peas to it and sauted it all.  But, I was too hungry and impatient to boil and mash the potato, so I just grated it and added it to the mixture and cooked it along with the beef and other vegetable.  I am not sure what to call it - ground beef hash?  I had some of it for dinner and had packed some of it to take to the office for my lunch.  I had planned to buy a bread roll to eat with it,  but, when I went to the farmers' market to buy the bread roll, they didn't have any!  So I bought a croissant, instead, and had that with my ground beef hash. 

After I came home from work, I spent another couple of hours doing office work, to make up for the time I lost in the morning due to sleeping in!

Later, daughter and I spent some time discussing plans for her future.  Every year, around the end of January, the apartment management in her building sends out a notice about lease renewals, asking current tenants to let them know, before the end of February, if they plan to renew their lease for another year, so they know how many units will be available for rent, later in the year, when the new academic year starts in the fall.  Daughter's current lease doesn't expire till the end of July, but, she received the notice today.  According to the notice, if she lets the management know if she is renewing her lease for another year before the end of February, then, her rent will increase only by $70.  If she waits until after that, then, the rent will increase by $170!

Daughter's current contract with her employer ends in May, but they are trying to renegotiate it so that it can be renewed for another year.  However, she doesn't know if she will get a raise, which her immediate supervisors want for her but the ultimate decision is up to the parent company.  If she continues to stay there at the same salary, she says she can manage the $70 increase in rent, but it means she will not have much left of her salary to save after rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and other items are paid.  But she won't be able to manage the $170 increase in rent, without a raise.  As it is, she is currently living on about 90% of her take home pay (maybe a little more) and most of it is going towards her rent!

She would like to stay on another year to get additional work experience with this company before she tries to look for a job down here.  So, we discussed the pros and cons of signing another lease without knowing for sure if her contract will be renewed (although it seems pretty likely that it will be renewed) and if there will be a raise.   The penalty for breaking the lease early is two months' rent!   Daughter had asked about the status of her contract renewal last week, before she actually received the notice, because she was anticipating the lease renewal notice; she will probably ask them again, now that she has received the notice.  We'll probably spend a few more evenings discussing it again.  Of course she knows she always has the option of moving back home and finding another job down here.  I am leaving the final decision to her.

Today, I am grateful for:
- I managed to wake up just in time this morning!
- I got to work in time for the meeting!
- A safe commute to work and back
- My daughter
- A working heater on a cold evening!

How was your day?  What are your plans for Friday?

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Quiet Wednesday

It has been a rather quiet, uneventful day, today.  I went to the office even though I would have preferred to have stayed home.  I did have a productive day at the office, so that was good.  In the afternoon, I went for my walk around the block.  I walked the sake route I took, yesterday, but varied it a little bit, so that I went past the community garden on my way out, rather than on my way back.  Today, however, I didn't pause to take any pictures.  I am consistently walking for 30 minutes, although I am not focusing on the speed or the distance.  I am still at the building up stamina, stage.

The gas company emailed me my bill and it is $206, this month!  Guess who believes in keeping her house toasty warm?!  I don't spend money cooling the house in the summer; I choose to spend it to warm up the house in the winter.  I budget $100 for gas every month.   In the summer, my gas bill is often less than $20 per month; what I don't spend in the summer helps to pay the higher bills in the winter.  I turn the heater off when I leave for work in the morning and turn it back on only after I come home in the evening and have aired out the house for a bit.  I keep the unoccupied 3rd bedroom door closed  and when daughter isn't home, I keep the doors to her bedroom and her bathroom closed, as well, so those rooms don't need to be heated.  But the rest of the house is open plan, so I can't close off the family room if I am sitting in the living room where the heater is.  If I was looking to reduce the heating bill, I suppose putting on another layer would be an option, although I am usually wearing 2 or 3 layers and socks, as it is.  A warmer house in the winter is one of my indulgences.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Quiet, uneventful days
- A productive day at the office
- A sunny, warm afternoon in which to walk
- Being able to take my afternoon walks
- A warm house in winter

After I came home from work, I watched some TV and relaxed.  I exchanged emails with a friend and video chatted with my daughter. 

How was your day?  Do you heat your home with natural gas?  Do you average out your yearly heating costs and budget the same amount each month or does your budget vary?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Walk Around the Block

On Tuesday, when I went on my afternoon walk, I took a slightly different route.

I went past the former St. Vibiana's Cathedral:

Former St. Vibiana's Cathedral

Past the large new apartment building next to the former cathedral:

New Apartment Building next to the Former Cathedral
 Past the big parking garage:

Parking Garage

 Then, turn right to go up the street at the corner:

Looking Up the Street

And past the recently opened community garden!

Community Garden

It was developed on a formerly neglected strip of ground behind a big parking structure and opened in 2016:

I just love the concept of a community garden in downtown

 There was a papaya plant in one of the plots:
Papaya Plant

 Along with some pineapple plants underneath:

Pineapple Plants

 (Nathalie, I thought of you!)

 Some of the plants were growing through the railing and reaching out:

Vines Growing Up and Through the Railing

The whole area is fenced off, but visible from the pavement:

A Pathway of Stepping Stones

 And I noticed the succulents growing along the fence, in pots - they are actually dragon fruit plants:

Dragon Fruit Plant

 A few feet away, there was this tree:

Street Tree

The lower part of the trunk is that of an actual street tree which had grown through the railing that had been around it!  I am not sure why they cut it (probably to stop it from growing any more), but they have kept the trunk and then, installed the plywood (metal?  I didn't check) "tree" above it!

Real Tree Trunk

 A pity it is covered with graffiti, but that's how it is:

Artificial Tree
And then, I continued to walk past the sculptures of the two super tall animal forms at either end of the six bloated "animal" forms I had photographed on an earlier walk, back to the office. 

Thank you for coming along on my walk.  I hope you enjoyed it!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Not Quite "Buddha in a Jar"

Bowl of Leftovers/Lunch

I looked for meal planning inspiration online, last night, and came across something called "Buddha in a Jar"! You don't say!  Here, I've been a Buddhist all my life and had no idea that the Buddha could be found in a jar of food!  Imagine that!

I was...well, let's just say that I was incredulous (yes, that's a good word, much better than others I could think of to convey how I felt!)  So, what was it?  Was it a salad?  Some other type of vegetarian food?  No!  It was rice (yes), vegetables (yes), and chicken!  Well, now!  How come I always thought the Buddha was vegetarian?

I mentioned it to my daughter and she said she has seen something called Buddha Bowls, too.   Now, I have heard of "begging bowls" - they are the bowls the Buddhist monks carry with them when they go begging for alms of food as instructed by the Buddha, but not Buddha Bowls.  Buddha Bowls are apparently bowls of food, mostly vegetarian, but it's up to the individual who prepares it to decide what to include in them.  Indeed! 

It is said that one day, when the Buddha was still alive, one of the monks came back from begging for alms of food, quite upset and refusing to go begging again.  He complained to the Buddha that the people in the village had insulted him and the Buddha about their begging and so forth.  The Buddha instructed the monk to return to the village the next day and beg for alms, but, this time, to tie a knot on his robe every time someone insulted him to capture the insult.  The following day, the monk returned to the temple with his robe covered in knots.  He was then instructed to untie each knot, one by one.  After all the knots were undone, he was asked what he found in the knots and the monk answered,  "Nothing".  Because, there was nothing tied up in the knots.  The insults were words, not tangible things.  The monk was getting upset over nothing. 

What does that story have to do with the Buddha in a Jar/Buddha Bowls?  Nothing, really, except the writing about Buddha bowls and begging bowls made me recall it and I thought I'd share it.   

Pictured at the top of the post is my lunch that I took to the office, today.  It is a glass container with the last of the Thai beef fried rice I had bought on Sunday and the last of the chicken stir fry I had made.  Not quite a "Buddha in a Jar" and nothing like a Buddha Bowl, but, perhaps, more like what the Buddha might have received in his begging bowl in the sense that, originally, when he begged for his food, he was given leftovers. 

Daughter asked me if I was offended by the whole Buddha in a Jar/Buddha Bowls concept.  That's a good question!  I told her that I have chosen not to be offended.  I don't think they mean any harm; in fact, they might even think they are being complimentary.  But, I don't think the name by which they call it is in good taste, and the pun is definitely intended!

What do you think?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday's Doings

Another sunny but chilly day; it was 50F when I left for work, this morning, although the afternoon warmed up to almost 70F when I went for my walk.  Once again, I walked to the Japanese garden and back.   I took another picture of the garden, but today's picture looks almost exactly like the earlier picture I took!  I need to find a different angle from which to photograph it!

Today's picture looks almost exactly like the earlier picture!

I also took more pictures of some other public art works:

The memorial to the first Japanese-American astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka, who was born in Hawaii.  He was one of the seven crew members on the space shuttle Challenger which exploded on January 28, 1986; all seven astronauts were killed:

Model of the Space Shuttle Challenger

The plaque at the base of the memorial

A few feet down from the above memorial, is the sculpture known as the Friendship Knot:

Friendship Knot

Originally titled "Square Knot" by the artist, Shinkichi Tajiri, it was renamed the "Friendship Knot"  when installed in its current location.

Across the street from the Friendship Knot is the memorial to Ninomiya Kinjiro Sontoku (1787-1856), known as the Peasant Sage, depicting him at about age 14, learning to read while carrying a load of firewood on his back:

The plaque that used to be on the memorial has been removed (I don't know why)

A bit further on is the plaza near the Japanese Garden with the sculpture by Isamu Noguchi:

"To the Issei"
According to what I read, it is meant to be a tribute to the first generation of Japanese who immigrated to America. It is composed of two 12' long basalt rocks.  The horizontal rock suggests repose; the other rock is standing upright but slightly tilted to form a diagonal line that is a Japanese symbol for mankind. The chipped surface of each rock is meant to expose the inner texture of the basalt, reflecting a Japanese artistic tradition of slightly altering natural materials as a symbol of human presence.  They are located on a pedestal that is supposed to be reminiscent of the terraced mounds raising Buddhist temples, and to the tumuli--the pre-historic burial mounds in Japan.  The steps are oversized and designed to force people to climb the pedestal like a mountain.

From the back

From the side

It is in this same plaza that the 150 year old grapefruit tree is located.

One never knows who one might meet when out and about on the streets of downtown:


After I came home from work, I took out the kitchen trash and the recycling to the bins and took the bins to the curb for pick up, tomorrow.  Then, I had a cup of tea, called my daughter to check on her, and watched some TV (evening news and a travel documentary).

After that, Ihad dinner, emptied the dish drainer, washed today's dishes, put away some laundry, and cleaned the family room.  Then, video chatted with daughter. 

Monday's To Do List:
- Go to the office - DONE
- Take trash cans to the curb - DONE
- Family room - dust, vacuum - DONE
 - Kitchen - sink, stove, counters, mop floor,  fridge 

Today, I am grateful for:
- A productive day at the office
- A safe commute to and from the office
- Leftovers from yesterday for lunch (Thai fried rice) and dinner (hoppers, fish curry)
- Sunny days in which to go for afternoon walks
- Being able to clean the family room

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Go to the office
- Attend afternoon meeting (will need to go for my walk, before that)
- Bring the trash cans in
- Kitchen - sink, stove, counters, mop floor, fridge

How was your Monday?  Did you have a good start to your week?  What are your plans for Tuesday?

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday: Visiting a Friend and January Grocery Shopping Week 3

I thought that all that productivity yesterday would have tired me out and enabled me to fall asleep easily, but, I lay awake until 3:00 a.m.!  So, when I woke up at 6:00 a.m. and, again, at 9:00 a.m., I just turned over and went back to sleep and slept till a little after 11:00 a.m.!  At least, I got my eight hours of sleep!  My neighbor T's phone call woke me and she apologized and asked if she was calling too early!  I assured her it wasn't!  She said she was feeling much better after her recent stomach virus and she sounded better, too.  We chatted for a bit and then, I got up and had my coffee and replied to blog comments.

Then, I put away the laundry from yesterday and decluttered my 3 items for the day:

1/21 Decluttering
1 handbag (my aunt C and cousin N gave me a new handbag for my birthday that I am using now)
1 hat  (given by the cancer center, which I no longer need)
1 empty lotion bottle

It was another sunny, "cold" day, but it wasn't windy.  In the afternoon, I called my friend S to confirm that she'll be home if I stop by her place around 3:30 p.m.  When she said yes, I called my favorite Thai food place and ordered some items to take to her - when I was ill, she always brought me food and now, it is my turn to return the compliment as she is having a cough she can't seem to shake off.  She's been to the doctor's, she says, and they've checked and ruled out pneumonia and flu.  But, she's had this cough since before Thanksgiving and I am very concerned for her, especially as her husband smokes.  I also picked a bagful of curry leaves to take to her, along with about 3 or 4 of her dishes that I had from when she brought food for my almsgiving and the tray of New Year's Day breakfast.  

I picked up the food to take to her, along with an order of beef fried rice for myself, and visited her.  She insisted on making me some appa or "hoppers" as they are called in English - a type of pancake made with a fermented batter of rice flour and coconut water and a cup of tea.  Then, she sent me home with two more of the hoppers, a container of fish curry, and some homemade marshmallows!  I froze the container of fish curry she gave, because I still have some of the fish curry I made!

On the way back from my friend's house, I passed by the cemetery where my mother's grave is located and I had the strongest urge to go in, so I did.  At first, I couldn't find my mother's grave!  I stood where it should be and didn't see it!  I even called my daughter to tell her I couldn't locate the grave stone, and then, I spotted a corner of it!  Her grave stone was covered with mud and soil!  I was most upset!  I managed to scrape most of the mud off and washed the grave stone with the half a bottle of water I had in the car.  But I couldn't uncover the vase for flowers that is set in the ground, just below the grave stone.  There were several other grave stones, too, which were in the same state!  I went over to the cemetery/mortuary office to complain; they were just about to close, but I spoke to the receptionist and she took down my name and phone number and said someone will call me.  In any case, I will be going back, next weekend to check on the grave site and I'll do so earlier in the afternoon, before the office closes. 

After that, I went to the drug store to buy a replacement battery for my garage door opener remote, as the remote wasn't working.  But the remote still isn't working, even with the new battery, so it may be that I need a new remote!  The garage door and I have been going through a bit of a comedy routine this whole week!  I press the remote button, nothing happens, I park the car in the driveway with the engine running, I get out and open the side gate, then go into the garage from the side door and open the garage door from inside (the button on the inside is wired, so it works), then I go to the car and the garage door starts to close on its own and I yell at it and run back inside to get it to open, again!  We do this a couple of times, with me shouting at the garage door to stay open, telling it, "Don't you dare close on me! Please don't close!", until it finally decides to stay open long enough to let me get back into the car and drive it in!  Once, it opened on its own, even after I had closed it from inside!  I fully expect to see if wide open when I come home from work, one of these days.  Sigh, I probably need a whole new garage door system!

I also went to the dollar store next door to the drug store to buy some bananas and grapes:

1/21 Groceries

1.94 lb. grapes @ $.99/lb = $1.92
1.82 lb bananas @ $.49/lb = $.89

My total came to $2.81

1/21 Receipt

I don't know if I will shop again before the end of the week, but I doubt it.  I know I said I might buy some other meats to cook because I didn't want to eat what was in the freezer, but I changed my mind.  And I still have enough milk for the week and a whole loaf of bread; I have lettuce, green beans, half a cucumber, several tomatoes, carrots, and 1/4 of a head of cabbage in the fridge, plus cooked green beans in the freezer, and I have mangoes, tangerines, and apples for fruit.  All I really needed were the bananas and some grapes.  

January Grocery Budget = $75
Spent to date: $40.14 + $5.58 + $2.81 = 48.53
Balance remaining = $75 - $48.53 = $26.47

Next week, I will need milk, eggs, and more fresh produce.

By the time I came home, it was past 6:30 p.m.  My friend R called as I was making myself a cup of tea and we chatted for awhile.  After that, I cleaned the bathroom and after dinner, I did the dishes.  The rest of the items from my To Do list from yesterday will be carried into next week.

Friend S called me, later in the evening, to thank me again for the food I had brought to her.  I am glad I was able to do that for her.

Sunday's To Do List:

- Laundry - Put away - DONE

- Groceries - DONE

- Declutter - DONE
- Visit friend S (pick curry leaves to take to her) - DONE
- Family room - dust, vacuum
- Kitchen - do dishes (DONE), sink, stove, counters, mop floor,  fridge
- Bathroom - toilet, sink, litter box, floor- DONE

Monday's To Do List:
- Go to the office
- Take trash cans to the curb
- Family room - dust, vacuum
 - Kitchen - sink, stove, counters, mop floor,  fridge 

Today, I am grateful for:
- I was able to repay my friend S for all her generosity in a small way by taking some food to her in return 
- Friend S making me hoppers and sending some home with me!
- Another sunny day
- Phone calls from neighbor T and friend R
- Chatting with daughter

How was your Sunday?   Are you ready for Monday?  

By the way, daughter sent me her pictures for the past week and I posted them, here