Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Jay: On Today’s Menu
I have to run stuff to the post office, as people have been cleaning Deb out. Like 1/3 of the Etsy shop and several items from the book shop, and there was only one order ready to ship before the post office closed yesterday. I’m looking at 7 first class or priority packages, and packing slips for a couple more.
That’s first, because it’s about prompt shipping for which the shops have become known.
Then I need to do thank you e-mails. Lots of thank you e-mails. Sometime in the next day, I figure. We’re just… astonished.
I also need to do my planned “hire us” item on the sidebar, which would have been better done before yesterday’s post went up. I didn’t ask for anyone to link it, and have no idea how the heaviest of hitters knew about it almost as soon as it was posted. So I didn’t expect anywhere near the traffic or response.
I have an American Idol post to write.
Maybe not today, but very soon there will be an edition of CotC. While I may still call it a fundraising edition, and if that catches a few more people who’ve appreciated or are attached to it then great, the impetus now is that so many people donated here and mentioned CotC in conjunction. Plus I’m going to burst if I don’t do something soon with all the links I personally have been accumulating, let alone whatever is in the mailbox I haven’t looked at lately.
It’s a good day to put the resume and/or work solicitations in more places.
I need to look at some information worth knowing in advance of a likely phone screening for the far away support job possibility. No matter how massive your background, it seems there’s always a “really like you to know...” that you don’t, or have not even heard of.
Okay, off I go. Just wanted to fix this stuff in my mind and put forth what’s up, for the curious, as something besides birthdays.
Oh yeah! Need to post about Henry aging a few months yesterday, and how cool that was.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Jay: Crunch Time
This is going to be a different post from the one I started the night before last, with the same title. That one started out on the topic of needing to locate the taxes I’d done, for the partnership and personal federal, and to do the state ones and get them mailed. I since located the partnership ones and mailed them, along with two books from Deb’s book shop. One was an advanced computer book from my collection, so went for $17.50 at about the cheapest price available. For us that’s real money. When it arrives in the twice a month payout. I also rewrote the federal to be neater, and did the state, cursing Romney over RomneyCare. There’s now a form HC, which at 3 pages if you need the whole thing is longer than the main Form 1 at 2 pages. I had the urge to ignore it, but you are supposed to use it to determine your personal exemption. By running too low on money to pay the last $1300 of insurance for Deb and the kids to cover October through December, and failing to apply for subsidized coverage, we paid a penalty of $220 in extra taxes.
Anyway, that’s all done. I have to mail those today.
Looks like the interview last week was a bust, which is fascinating in that it was a temporary gig. Which I suspect they planned to try to get someone permanent out of, and looked accordingly. The interview the week before was obviously a bust as well.
I have a possible something in the works with an internet marketing business. I have someone putting in my resume for a well-paid support job that just happens to be in Lowell, so it’d be on the $25 a day commuting plan. If I can stop worrying about money and the household long enough to chase an income just slightly harder and keep the household, something - even something great - should come pretty fast. It’s probably a matter of keeping the balls in the air a few more weeks.
Trouble is, we’re out of time, and while some awesome people have picked up distress, we haven’t been forthcoming on just where things stand. I’ve threatened to have a fundraising edition of Carnival of the Capitalists, even though I’m too busy trying to raise money to try to raise money. I’ve pointed out the resume, Deb’s Etsy shop and used book shop, and my availability for side work.
I haven’t asked for donations, apart from whatever is implicit in making the PayPal button available. And it feels wrong to do so, much as we get annoyed by unhelpful people who dwell on the fact history ought have been different, rather than acting on (or ignoring) what is. I could say and rue much about how we got here, but that doesn’t keep us from getting evicted.
Then again, I’d rather ask individuals for help than use public assistance paid for with stolen money. Or worse, stolen from the future, given the financing of so much of it through debt, creating a future need for inflation and/or higher taxes. But what do I know. I’m just a crackpot who saw the housing/credit bubble vividly starting years ago.
So yeah. Pretty much asking now, as I prepare to mail the tax returns and then throw ourselves on the mercy of the gas & electric department to avoid having those shut off tomorrow. When I gave them Henry’s birth certificate, which by itself should give us until August 20, they also wanted an income number. At the time, I wasn’t sure what I’d made last year. I would never have guessed it would be low enough for the EIC, or that rent, medical and health insurance technically took 2/3 of it. There was enough in residual, undrawn funds that it carried us a long time in the shutdown of the business (in which mailing the tax returns yesterday is the last major act, though I’ll have stuff to handle for a while).
If blogging is a bit slow, or you see as much on other blogs as here to keep them up enough to justify their value to advertisers, it’ll be because we’re scrambling. The ads, the selling things, the found money, the incredibly generous donations we already received, the Etsy sales - nothing to sneeze at but also in jeopardy because you have to have money for materials and shipping - and the bits of side work here and there only go so far. The fact I tend to stock the pantry as if I’m expecting to ride out the end of civilization - or something like this bad stretch - only helps stretch things so long before real money needs to be spent on groceries and sundries again.
Of course, if we lose power, that’s the end game. What money we do make is online. That would trigger a total meltdown of our situation. I don’t think that should be a problem, but we do have to start paying them Real Soon Now. We’ve been managing to get $250 or $300 a week to the landlord, staying basically half a month to a month or so behind. If we miss a week, game over, barring something like working with us because I just started a job and it’s all going to change. This week we’re sketchy but should manage it. Next week? No idea. I expect to do some small side work early in the week, but not likely enough.
Anyway, if you can hit the donate button, even in small amounts, that would be amazing. Alternatively, use the address deb at neatlytangled dot com for PayPal, as hers doesn’t have a transfer limit (to get it from there to the bank) and is useful that way. If we’ve ever entertained you through blogging, given you helpful advice, or even if you think I’m an idiot but want to keep the kids fed and off the street, perhaps it’s worth something.
Onward! Time to take care of business. Mail tax returns. Deal with utility crisis. Try to shake loose work. Planning to add Deb’s resume to the ones online and put a “hire us” box in the sidebar where “donate” is now, soon as I get a chance. So on. So forth.
Thanks for helping, or even just reading and quietly not saying or doing something unhelpful, no matter what you really think.
You guys are amazing. Not to replace individual thanks, but holy cow, we’re just blown away.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Jay: Shopping List
Don’t mind me. This is mostly composing aloud of my list of things I need to get at the store, following a quick run to the post office with another sold book. The budget for the grocery run is $25. Diapers should take $6.49 of it, unless I buy them elsewhere and juggle other money toward them, which is possible considering how ideal Market Basket is for buying food itself. I can look at this list here from the store if needed. Hooray for technology!
Besides the errands, I’m still working on the office, and today playing with some web and database code, which may be significantly easier than I had anticipated. Since working on code, be it that as a possible project, creating a portfolio of what I have done, or trying to dredge out stuff I can complete and make available, or fiddle with to learn more, means needing to hook up at least one additional computer and improve the lab environment, the office rearranging project goes hand in hand.
I still haven’t heard back on the contract I interviewed for. I need to e-mail the guy there and others. I did hear from the bank, where my online banking has never worked. Before they escalated it, they had me try it live on the phone to capture a server log of the attempt. It’ll be interesting to see what the problem is. I have to wonder if it’s FiOS or my router the FiOS comes through.
Anyway, what do I need to remember?
Meat. Depends what is on sale. We have none, period, and can use chicken and ground beef, for starters. Pork or unground beef are valid options. I could easily buy $50 of meat to restock, before even getting to anything else. With the dairy ban for Deb, we shoot for high fat more than we normally would.
Carrots (best price is there, or I might skip)
Beans, maybe lentils too (almost out of 64 oz bag of pintos, out of all else but split peas)
Frozen veggies (just a few cheap bags to interrupt the drought)
Milk (not out, but cheapest place for it)
Possibly some fresh veggies, sweet potatoes, butternut, or fruit depending on prices or sales
Maybe coffee creamer
Maybe tuna (goal of kids actually eating)
Maybe tomato soup (ditto)
Butter if still low there (ditto - Sadie can tell the difference, eats bread plain rather than with margarine)
I know I’m forgetting something and I’ll remember as soon as I walk out into the kitchen. I hope.
There are things low, like ketchup and rice, that can wait. I can do scratch rather than needing Bisquick.
Vegetable oil (using a lot where I’d put butter or margarine in pan to fry stuff, avoiding dairy)
Peanut butter, if they have a good price
That may actually be it. It’s just that the innocent entries for meats and veggies could easily overwhelm the whole thing. Then if there’s a must have sale, that adds to it. Since I lost the flier, I should see if it’s online the way most are…
Huh. It appears Demoulas Market Basket supermarkets have no web presence. Weird indeed.
Anyway, off to it before the day slips any further.
I found the paper flier for this week. They have some nice sales, especially on beef and hamburger. That helps.
The kids are having a trauma over who will go with me…
Thursday, April 03, 2008
I hit just the right food combinations yesterday for the kids.
First, I had bought 3 Bartlett pears on sale, sneaking them into a “can’t get everything I need and must keep it under $10, preferably under $7 in case the debit card doesn’t work and I have to use cash” grocery order, and the girls split one like they were discovering fruit for the first time. It was especially good, perfectly ripe.
Shortly after, at their request, we had grilled cheese and red soup. The latter being what they call tomato soup. Which was Wal-Mart’s house brand, and quite good. They each devoured completely half of a grilled cheese, made with colby jack, cheap bread and cheap margarine. Since we can’t afford cheese, but still have to buy some, and are using it slower while Deb avoids dairy, and I’m nervous about my beloved cheddar after the allergy incident in which it’s about 80% probable the specific batch of cheese plus pre-sensitization were to blame (I didn’t know cheddar could be loaded with histamines) and I reacted to it or something too, we’ve settled on that kind. Wal-Mart’s is good, and it makes great grilled cheese. One devoured all and the other most of a third or more of the can of soup. I gave each of them at least as much of it as I had.
Then when I was at a total loss for supper, Deb remembered I’d mentioned blueberry pancakes the night before. We still had part of a bag of frozen blueberries my father had gotten for Sadie, knowing her love of blueberries. Most of it went into an astonishingly good blueberry cake a while back, which oddly enough left the kids indifferent.
There was exactly a cup of Bisquick remaining, enough for half a standard batch, without stretching it or making scratch. I made that up for them, figuring they might not eat it all and that would be part of what I had. Using an eight cup measure to scoop relatively uniform pancakes, I made 12 of them, heavy on blueberries, ate one myself, and between them they ate all of the other 11. Sadie ate 5 2/3 and Valerie at 5 1/3 of them, with plenty of cheap fake syrup.
That’s just nuts, compared to their normal, or at least recent, eating, especially Sadie’s. She’s been doing a lot of living on moonbeams. And afterward she pleaded still hungry, at least enough for several jelly beans.
In between, they each got a green apple lollipop from the post office when we walked there. You may remember we have books for sale, and there was an order for one to go priority, rather than the usual media mail. Not only did the guy at the post office give out lollipops, he had me stuff the original package into one of the “if it fits, it ships” priority folders, to make it $4.60 instead of $7.50.
Too bad having a full belly didn’t prevent a total meltdown by Sadie, for no apparent reason, late last night. She did make the breakthrough of calming herself enough to be coherent, so that’s good.
And speaking of cheap bread, we fell in love with Stop & Shop’s cheap bread, in 3-packs for $2.69, so it’s the best price as well as quality. I went in there the other day, read the package and found it has no milk or egg, so bought that rather than making more dairy-free bread myself just now. But… it went up sixty cents, to $3.29, just like that. Wow! If bread everywhere else, in single loaves, stayed that same, that makes them comparable. I have to assume there was probably a generalized increase. But 22%?? That’s going to mean the cheapest breads start to approach $1.50 a loaf. Perhaps it’s not generalized. I’ll have to look, just to find out.
My next mission will be to persuade the kids that soup is still soup and can still be eaten even if it’s not tomato. I have three cans of chicken noodle, which they ought to like, if I carefully promote it and make sure they know what it is. There are some other cans that the three of us can eat.
Speaking of allergies, we tried reintroducing eggs to Deb starting last night. The two of us had fried egg and ham sandwiches. Eggs come out odd on non-stick with no source of grease, but it was still good. Within a few days we should be clear that it’s okay for her to have them, which will leave only dairy, which makes it not too bad.
Henry can now eat oatmeal, rice, butternut, apple, chicken, and carrots. I really need to hit the store with money enough to buy chicken this week, as it’s on amazing sale, and hello, he can eat it and it’s a nice boost from the veggie kingdom. I was thinking of trying the pears next, but I doubt they’ll last long enough. They’re a safe bet, anyway. We still have sweet potatoes he could try next, and that’ll cover the major orange food group.
Oh, peanut butter and raisins appear to be safe for him, too. He has sisters. Apparently the main reason not to give him peanut butter is ability to eat it without choking, because he’s managed to get some twice.
One of his biggest problems seems to be my printed shirts. Part of it’s an abrasion factor, on the heavier, rougher prints, but the ink can also contain stuff that can bother some people. Given that we know he is bothered severely by bananas, and that probably means a latex allergy, the ink thing would be no surprise.
I’m rambling. Need to get more coffee, and at least make it so the girls will wake sooner rather than later. Last night I was threatening them with an earlier bed time, starting with waking them early today. I didn’t, but it’s about time even for not so early.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Jay: Dreams Are Weird
I haven’t seen my stepsister in years, yet she was in dreams two nights in a row. Night before last, there was a mishmash of stuff that included one of my father’s houses, the dream version of it, which in the dream she’d ended up buying. Last night’s dreams included a scene in which I was telling my stepsister about the dream I’d had the night before. Very meta, self-referential, or whatever you want to call it.
The seemingly lengthy end part of the dreams last night involved being somewhere to the north, like NH, ME or VT - the highway I drove down was a generic stretch of what looks like northern New England highway that seems to recycle in dreams where it’s needed - and there being a giant snow storm. I needed to get home, apparently for work, and was trying and trying to get through it, leaving when I shouldn’t have, getting in shoveling scenarios, trying to bash through a snowbank a few feet taller than the car, that sort of thing. Eventually I gave up and stayed in a motel, though even that was a matter of getting a room, then continuing to try to flee.
In the motel, which seemed to double as one of those side of the highway tourist rest stops and the offices of some business (for that matter, in part it looked like a miniature section of some airport terminal, in rustic), there was the challenge of getting something to eat. People were strangely open, but not open, at a lunch counter and small store. I found my way into the dining area, where someone had just been served a sandwich, but most people were just hanging out, and was told they would be serving starting at a specific time. An odd time, though I forget when. It was at the motel where I ran into my stepsister, as I recall.
Fast forward and I am driving down the highway in the morning, bright, sunny, and not a speck of snow, immediately south of where I had stayed. I was fuming at having had to spend the money and time to stay over. I was also alone, but then I wasn’t, because Deb and a kid, presumably Sadie as a baby, were with me. This would fit with the blizzard when we had to stay an extra night at the Park Plaza for Arisia, when Sadie was less than 4 months old. On the way, we discussed the state of the credit cards, and which one I’d used for the stay, and how it sucked to have needed to do that because we so couldn’t afford the $40.
Next thing I know, pressed for time, I was driving straight to work with family in tow, which is odd in that we’d gotten almost home when I got onto the highway going north from here. In reality, I’d have had to pass work on the way there, then changed my mind and not spent an extra 10 minutes dropping them home. Then there was a bit of fuss about where Deb and the kid would hang out at the office, which was a cross between my former large client, a larger business, and the motel I’d stayed at in the dream.
That was about it. I woke up, amused at the whole thing, and started coffee brewing. I certainly hope we don’t get any snow, and that dreaming about my stepsister has no prescient bad significance. However, this wasn’t like one of those “dreams that happen” dreams, or like when I flashed “this could be the last time I talk to her” out of the blue and sat to converse with my grandmother at length less than 36 hours before she died.
Being Friday and not having had it early enough to mail it, I have to make arrangements to drop money to the landlord. We may look like we’re sitting around watching soaps and playing with the kids, but each week we have to come up with $250 or $300 toward rent to defer eviction proceedings. The drop-ins by people who are bringing food donations and don’t care what the house looks like at any random time are welcome but are still disruptions. Visits that are just visits on a couple hours notice tend to get “well, this is really a bad day” pretty uniformly. Friday is especially bad with the actual rent delivery, but today I need to make a post office run - a small contribution to our finances a couple weeks hence because someone bought a book, I need to go to Wal-Mart and figure out how to stretch $30 beyond all recognition - including a couple bucks for yarn for a custom order to help our finances in a week or two, stop at my mother’s for a special crib mattress cover a cousin got us for Henry not to be allergic to the crib anymore (she’s allergic to everything herself, apparently), reply to the person who is offering temp work that’ll be great if the interview Monday doesn’t work out, figure out whether I need $8 or $16 for the train Monday and walking directions from South Station to my destination, help unbury and select clothes sealed in the leaky closet for the winter, continue my office organizing project, make banana bread, figure out what’s for supper and start it ahead of time if needed, and probably some things I’ve forgotten. Like e-mailing someone who might want me to do a computer cleanup Sunday, or Monday evening, and might have others who could use that, if she’s recovered enough from surgery. A few of those and it’s close to another rent week.
And I still haven’t worked on the giant “we’re back” fundraiser edition of Carnival of the Capitalists, but I should, because that could contribute to groceries or to the rent on the 11th. Or gas for the truck, because even if you take six weeks to use a tank, eventually you need more.
And with that, off I go, because the day is getting no younger.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Deb: There’s over 100 items in the half.com shop now.
You could go look, if you wanted to.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Deb: Any John D. MacDonald fans out there?
I’ve got a complete set of Travis McGee paperbacks I’m thinking of letting go. They’ve been read several times and well-loved, but they’re in pretty good shape for all that. If anyone is interested, deb at this domain reaches me.
I’m in the middle of adding another batch of books to the half.com shop. It’s pretty random, what winds up there, but then again my bookshelves are petty random places.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Deb: More commerce! Book Sale Continued!
OK, in order to avoid insane levels of duplication of effort and make it easier on all involved, I’ve gone ahead and started listing books at half.com. The shop is here:
For the PayPal phobic out there, please note that although half.com is an eBay company, it doesn’t use PayPal. Also, it’s set up like a real store, with standard shipping rates and that sort of thing.
I’ll be adding things steadily, so check back often!
Monday, February 04, 2008
Deb: Book Sale Part 1: Pregnancy, Birth, Parenting.
I have more of this sort of thing packed away, believe it or not. I really like to research things to death. Hence the book collection! :-D
Taking Charge of Your Fertility, Toni Weschler. Trade paperback, ISBN 0-06-093764-5. A bit of cover damage but otherwise in good shape. Originally $23.95, asking $12.
The Anxious Parent’s Guide to Pregnancy, Gerard DiLeo, M.D. Trade paperback, ISBN 0-07-138307-7. Back cover is creased and the kids crayoned the spine. Otherwise in good shape. Originally $14.95, asking $7.
The Pregnancy Book, William and Martha Sears. Trade paperback, ISBN 0-316-77914-8. Originally $13.95, asking $7.
The Birth Book, William and Martha Sears. Trade Paperback, ISBN 0-316-77907-5. Small tear in front cover, small crease in back cover. Originally $13.95, asking $7.
The Essential C-Section Guide, Maureen Connolly and Dana Sullivan. Trade paperback, ISBN 0-7679-1607-7. Originally $14.00, asking $7.
So that’s what they’re for!, Janet Tamaro. Trade Paperback, ISBN 1-58062-041-8. Originally $10.95, asking $5.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, La Leche League International. Trade Paperback, ISBN 0-452-27908-9. Originally $15.95, asking $8.
Adventures in Tandem Nursing, Hilary Flower. Trade Paperback, ISBN 0-912500-97-2. Originally $14.95, asking $7.
the no-cry sleep solution, Elizabeth Pantley. Trade Paperback, ISBN 0-07-138139-2. Originally $14.95, asking $7.
Original Post, with terms and mechanics of this thing, is HERE. Contact deb at this domain to arrange a purchase. Thanks so much!