The Triumph of Trash Day

I came home Friday after a long day at The Young Human Factory and saw something beautiful – an empty garbage can on my neighbor’s lawn. Oh, happy day! All but one garbage bag and various loose debris have been cleared.

I haven’t blogged about him because, frankly, it’s a depressing situation. The family next door let their house let the bank foreclose. The bank removed the wood stove and put on a new roof, then sold it fast and cheap. ( So fast that when my parents called the bank, it was already a done deal.)

For the past two years, the “new” neighbor has been letting it fall apart. Continue reading

Soliciting indentured servants

This is probably an American-centric rant, so feel free to ignore.

In January I started getting credit card applications in the mail. They weren’t from my bank** nor from stores from which I’ve made purchases.  These are strictly third-party creditors who have no relationship to me.

The amounts are staggering! A ten thousand dollar credit line?!?  Worse, most of these applications offered a balance transfer with a limited-time low interest rate before bouncing up to 13.99% APR.

So let’s say that the new chump cardholder (NOT me) transfers the debt and during the grace period gets the principal down to $6000 (rounding up the average debt in my state). Thereafter he or she sets $200 as the monthly payment. Using a debt calculator, I figured that it takes 38 months to pay off the debt. So the cardholder paid $7,600 overall.

It’s worse for someone who maxes out the card. For a $10K debt at the same payment schedule, the poor sap is in debt for more than six years and pays $5,200 in interest.


Related links

  • Federal Trade Commission information on opting out. Unfortunately, the permanent opt-out process takes one to a non-government secure site and requires one’s personal info including Social Security number.
  • The American Center for Credit Information’s advice if a unsolicited card (not just application) arrives in your mailbox.
  • Feed the Pig’s 4-Week Financial Fitness Challenge

**I cancelled its card after it was compromised and the thief racked up $250 in make-up in Ann Arbor by an international student. Probably the same one who stole my friend’s card information, as she had a similar problem with repeated cash withdrawals in Turkey – with her bank’s permission, despite her noticing the first withdrawal and asking for a hold on her account.

Readin’, Writin’, and Recuperatin’

I’m happy to report that The Old Man aka my father came through the operation with flying colors. And I seem to be well, too.

“Seem” being the main verb.

March 2017 will go down in local history as the Month of Pestilence. My colleagues at The Young Human Factory were dropping like flies, succumbing to every virus and bacteria our young humans brought us. When the rascals weren’t incubating more diseases, they were raising pets like lice and Scarcoptes scabiei.

Continue reading

The secret behind pumpkin spice

The local drive-through java supplier (when I resort to buying a cup) has begun offering the “limited time” pumpkin spice coffee.  As hot as it has been, an iced latte sounded wonderful to me.

The past year, there was a lot of buzz on social media about pumpkin spice THIS and pumpkin spice THAT.  People seem to think that it’s too much of a good thing. Not me, and one product I’d like to see again is the pumpkin spice roasted almonds that I enjoyed during the winter!

But I digress.

I began to wonder why pumpkin spice is so popular and people look forward to it in the waning days of summer. When I returned home, I realized the truth.

Distracted by my delicious, aromatic beverage, I nearly ran into this:

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An orb weaver poised near the door, looking for an opportunity to sneak inside. Baby, it’s going to get cold outside – and a cozy winter abode is inches away!

Clearly the pumpkin spice is meant to fill humans with good feelings and distract them from the spiders lying in wait to invade our homes and lay their eggs at leisure. Sure, the scientific literature I’ve read says that spiders who live in houses become dependent on the human-created environment and can’t survive outdoors. But that sounds like a risk the little critters are willing to take!

Heaven knows I’ve had to deal with spiders all over the house the last few days. Not including that wolf spider who was on the ceiling just a moment ago but has mysteriously disappeared while I opened the blinds. Just thinking about where it may have hidden, ready to pounce… Yikes!

It does give me pause that there’s an archnophiliac conspiracy working in the food industry. (The all-black-clad, Halloween-loving baristas whom I mistook for gothy fashionistas are clearly among the spider-lovers!) But after that pause, I admit nothing calms me down like a sip of pumpkin-spiced latte.

I guess I’m doomed.

Ditch bouquet 2016

 

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Spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus) on a flowering chicory (cichorium intybus). Copyright 2016 Jean Balconi.

This is photo is for Derrick, whose beautiful garden photos are one of the charms of his eponymous blog.

Years ago I used to have a running series on my first blog (now defunct). I called it “Ditch bokay” (a country spelling I used to see in the Thumb). I’d be traveling along fields or shorelines, only to stop short because of wildflowers or weeds in bloom.  I’d take snapshots with my low-quality digital camera and upload them.

Asters, lilies and the elusive buttercup – there are dozens of beautiful blooms growing in the fringes.

Outlining during revision

Even if you’ve outlined your first draft, getting sidetracked is kind of allowed, because you’re exploring your characters, plot, and story in a different way. And if you didn’t change your outline accordingly, [the revision is] the chance to do that.

Kelsie Engen wrote the preceding quote in her guest post at A Writer’s Path, 7 Reasons Why You Should Outline Your Novel During Revision.

Reading it was serendipitous. When I reported my word count to my writers’ group, I commented that the outlined ending doesn’t seem to fit what I’m writing.

I got encouragement to finish my draft regardless of the outline, but I felt as if I’m letting the wheel go and allowing my ship to drift off course. But thinking that I revise my outline afterward makes me feel better about going with the flow and see where it lands.

The Heat Has Gone To My Head!

“It’s so hot and humid today,” I thought to myself after I mowed and ran errands. “I better take it easy.”

I didn’t iron – too hot. I didn’t cook – far too hot by lunch! I couldn’t focus on my self-assigned book. I turned on the fan and sat, surfing the ‘net and trying to stay cool.

“Oh, I know!” I thought suddenly.

And that’s how I came up with the bright idea of removing the shower doors by myself.* I’d like to report that it wasn’t as hard as I expected, but that would be a lie. Jerkface MacGuyver, the builder of La Casa de Tontería, employed excellent installers; too bad the doors were cheap garbage. Although the rust-encrusted caulk crumbled under a double-dose of elbow grease, the wall anchors will NOT budge.

However, I was pleasantly surprised that my klutziness didn’t interfere. Even gravity was my friend!  Once the doors fell off the wall into the tub, taking the entire top metal strip with them, it was MUCH easier to tear them individually from the lower strip.

I admit I grazed my right index and ring fingers on metal, but there’s no bleeding. So I put away the first aid kit unused.

I was quite pleased. Until I realized I desperately need a shower but there’s no curtain. Oops.


*My friend Daniel offered to help in exchange for homemade chocolate mocha cookies, but his work schedule is definitely hospitalish. Readers employed in the medical field will understand!