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Monday, March 26, 2018


Decades ago there was a popular musical duo in this area named Upson Downs that were awesome. Two men who were great singers with one who could do Elvis impersonations quite well, and the other that played trombone and I think some other instruments. I believe they spent a few years doing a show in Las Vegas, too, and later spit up with only one of them staying in this area and performing alone. But this post is not about them.

This is about the ups and downs of life, sometimes a constant roller coaster. Recently I was pleasantly surprised to find a check for $133 in the mail! It was for my service on the jury roster for two months. We got paid for each day we showed up at the court house to see if we would get picked to serve on a jury. Thankfully I did not end up one of the twelve for either case. We did all have to report three times so I was paid for those three days plus mileage. That assuaged my grumbling about not receiving the requested excusal until I had already reported for the last time and only two days before our term was up.

Just a few days later there was a huge downer. On Wednesday I had been to the dentist for my 6 month cleaning and all went well. Then on Sunday a large molar crown broke off for the second time. About 2  years ago it broke off the first time and I convinced the dentist to cement it back on, knowing that it would not last a long time but postponed a huge bill.  . . . . until now.

The best option is to have what is left of that tooth and the iffy molar next to it extracted, put in two implants with a third molar bridge to give me a good chewing surface on that side, since there was already a gap there. I asked what that would cost and he said the best he could do is between $6,000 to $8,000!! Just for replacing 3 teeth! I do not want to put a 'new' used car in my mouth!

The first house we bought was $14,000, and brand new cars could be bought for $3,000. Can you imagine what my parent's generation would think if they were still alive? They lived through the depression. Back in the 1960's when I was first married, my husband earned $67 a week and I did not work. We could by groceries for a week for $12 or so. Gas was 25-35 cents a gallon. Ground beef was 50 cents a pound and a loaf of bread was 10 cents. Now you want me to spend thousands of dollars in my mouth??

I do have two other options. One is a partial, but in order to get one to fit well I need to have a bony bump removed from my gum, which means dental surgery. I don't know how much that will all cost yet. I know it won't be cheap either, but should be less than the implants, providing Medicare will pay for the surgery. The last option is to have the two teeth pulled and then gum it for the rest of my life.

I went to get a second opinion, hoping to get things done cheaper through a health care center who has a sliding scale for low incomes, and they do have a dentist that works there. But he doesn't do implants and would send me to a specialist, and the sliding scale would not apply anyway.

My dentist does not set up a payment plan and I don't blame him as it gets to be a big hassle getting some people to make their payments, plus the bookkeeping involved, and he is not a bank. He told me about a place I could apply for a loan online but they did not accept me even though I have good credit history. There is another one that other people have told me about and I checked them out online but did not apply yet. I first need to have a consult with my dentist to get a final cost before I can really apply for a loan. There is a big different between $6,000 and $8,000. Then I will apply for a loan again, but this time I will call to explain how I plan to make the payments.

Today I am supposed to go to the neighboring town to have my 6 month checkup with the eye doctor. She wants to check my eye pressures because of glaucoma, and do a vision field test to see if that has changed more since the cataract surgery. But we are getting freezing rain and I am not going to attempt to either travel or try to walk on sidewalks that might be icy, so I am going to postpone the exam until later this week when it is supposed to warm up enough that there will be no ice. Winter just does not want to leave!

Now I need to get busy and make some phone calls and try to get life in order for this week.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Yesterday there was a knock on my door. When I opened it there stood one of the neighbor boys from across the street. He had a paper plate in his hands with 3 cookies on it! He said he made them himself. Sweet treats from a sweet boy! And those cookies were the best, sugar cookie with chocolate chips that melted in my mouth.

Then I asked if he would do me a favor and get my mail for me. With the snow and ice we got on Monday I didn't trust getting it myself. For some time I had been thinking of asking one of them to get my mail after they got home from school, but I don't know their last name or phone number and didn't want to holler at them across the street. God does provide!

We were in a blizzard warning for a time Monday night and we got around 4" or 5" of snow. This morning it is snowing again but it is light so I don't think we will accumulate much more than maybe an inch or less. The snowflakes are larger today too, so it is a pretty snowfall.

It is time for me to hit the shower as I have a clinic appointment to have my finger poked for a protime test later this morning.


Some of my blogger friends will do a no-spend month, trying to save some money. And several do a pantry/freezer challenge to use up some food that has been 'hanging around' a little too long, and again trying to save money.

I have had some large bills to pay in December and January and am now trying to catch up. My no-spend month has turned into two months and might last even longer. I am by no means lacking anything so it hasn't been so hard to do, but when I see some good sales I am tempted to shop for bargains. And those 'bargains' are for things I really don't need so they really aren't bargains after all. When I get emails telling me of big sales I just delete without reading them. Yes, I would like some new bedding as my comforter is looking pretty sad, plus could use some new pillows. But right now neither one is necessary, and there will always be other sales in the future.

In December I had to pay my annual premium for Medicare supplement insurance, which is huge. Add to that my 6 month car insurance bill, and annual home renter's insurance, car license and I forget what else. The only way I know I will have enough money for these bills is to use the cash envelope system. I also keep track of my income and spending with a computer software program, but I need that visual of cash in an envelope, even if it is play money.

In my January Walmart bill I had charges from Nov 25 and Dec. 18 for store purchases and Dec. 11 for an online purchase. Most of that was for stocking up on groceries and paper products that were needed so that I had enough on hand that I would not have to make a trip to the store when weather and roads were bad. That bill was almost $600. I have never had charges that high for one month! Thank goodness there were no charges on any other accounts for the month.

Starting the new year I have an annual deductible of $405 for my med prescriptions, and not all of my meds qualify for the deductible! Unfortunately, I needed all my meds refilled right after January 1. So that bill that had to be paid in February, which was again, almost $600 and that was for only prescriptions, nothing else. So you can see why I am in a no-spending period. And my Walmart bill was $0 so that helped a lot.

I did really well with no spending, but then I had to order a new rolling stool because the one I had has a crack in the place where the caster goes and it isn't safe for me to sit on. So my first expense on the February bill was a new stool ordered online on Jan 24, for $113, free shipping and no tax! I ordered through Walmart so I got 3% reward dollars, and I went through Ebates so got another 1% back. And I had about $53 built up from Walmart Savings Catcher, making the charge only $60, so I think I did fairly well on that deal. I tried to do my work without a stool but it just was not working at all. So the stool is a necessity.

I finally had to give in and buy groceries Jan 31. I stocked up again plus bought some winter boots for $25 and some walking shoes for $5. I really need some boots and I liked these, but when I tried to get my foot in them, it would not go in, even with the zipper on the side, so I need to return them. I forgot to take them along on my most recent trip. :( I have a high instep so I guess I will not be able to have boots for now. The charge for that trip was $215. So I went from Dec. 18 until January 31 without buying any food. And I still had plenty to eat, just needed ordinary things like milk, bread, cheese, yogurt and fresh produce. I did get a few things I think I can't do without, like my flavored coffee mixes.

On Feb 5 I ordered necessary paper products and personal needs online and my total bill for the month is $360. I made another grocery trip Feb 27 and only bought the minimum things I really needed and was able to limit my amount to $85. Now it is March 5 and I don't need anything else so far.

March is a medical month. I go in for a protime test this week, but Medicare will take care of the whole bill. Next week I see my family doctor for a med check and I might have to pay a deductible for Medicare on that bill. The next day is my 6 month checkup at the dentist and I will have to pay all of that bill. I think I had x-rays taken last time so should not have to have them done this time. I just hope the dentist doesn't find anything that needs to be fixed.

My electric bill has to be paid yet and that is $142. I think it is quite reasonable since everything is electric here. I was talking about the bills with my niece and she said their bill was over $500 for the month! But they have a large 3-bedroom house with full basement and she has a small beauty shop in her house that takes a little more power.

I hope to get through March without unnecessary spending again and see if I can get the 'cash' built up in my Rx envelope to cover my next refills. Since I have already paid toward the deductible for the year, the bill should be much less. It is really hard to increase the amounts in my cash envelopes when I do not get a bigger Social Security check. We got a 3% increase but then Medicare took out more so I am still getting the same size check that I have had for several years, but I am hanging in there.

Monday, March 5, 2018



 or winter?

March - a month of transition in this part of the country.

We have had a few days of spring-like weather with sunshine and temps in the 50's, which is a huge relief from the many, many days of below zero temps. Our January has to be one of the coldest that I can remember. February had a few warmer days, but still quite cold.

It the last few days most of our snow had melted and kids were playing outside with lighter jackets. I finally heard a few birds singing in the trees in the morning, and the hope of spring nearly here. But today. . . . winter is back. It started out as rain around 3 am this morning. Around 10 am it started turning to sleet, and now, at noon, the ground is covered again with white snow. Schools in the area started closing between 10 am to noon. There is a blizzard going on about 50 miles west of us, but we are only in a winter weather advisory which says to expect around 5" snow and some strong winds to cause some drifting and low visibility, but not as bad as a blizzard. So there goes our spring weather! At least it is warmer with temps just below freezing.

Just another normal March.


I showed you this afghan and matching pillow before. I made this one for my daughter, who had requested it. My friends said I should make the same one for the church auction this year, so I did. The difficult pattern was already fresh in my mind so this one did not take as long.

They brought $900 at the church auction! I don't know how much the person paid who bought it, but the rest was again raised by calling for $20 donations from the crowd, and added up to $900. Now I am on the hunt for a new pattern for next year.

Thursday, March 1, 2018



I recently did my civic duty. I was part of the jury pool for January and February. I have never been on a jury or had to ever report. . . . until this year.

I had to report for a case toward the end of January. Thankfully my name was not called, not that I don't want to serve, but I would not be able to get into the jury stand because of steps and no room to put my walker. It was very interesting to see the procedure for picking jurors and the type of questions the judge asked them first, and then each lawyer asked questions. There were about 40 of us there and they called 21 people. Then one by one several were dismissed and replaced with another person. I got a bit nervous as there weren't that many of us still unpicked.

The case was a sexual assault by a Hispanic male against an 11 year old girl. It was 'merely' squeezing her butt on top of her clothes. I didn't find out the age of the girl until I read it in the newspaper after the trial was over. He was convicted and was to go to prison, a but he is an illegal so he never showed up when he was supposed to go in, and they still haven't found him. When found he will be deported after he serves his time, with the added charges of failure to appear. I would have liked to have watched the trial but was ready to go home when we were dismissed at 12:30.

After watching the jury selection, and seeing how difficult it would be for me physically, I went to the clerk of court office to ask for an excusal for the rest of the term. But, I didn't get one. So I kept calling in every Monday evening to see if we had to report Tuesday morning, and sure enough, we were told to report again on Wednesday morning, but to call again Tuesday night in case the case was settled out of court. It wasn't, so we all reported. I tried again to get an excusal but did not.

After waiting for awhile the judge came out and told us there was a delay as the lawyers were still discussing. That gave me hope that they were still trying to settle out of court. Then the judge postponed the case until the next Tuesday because the weather forecast sounded like freezing rain and snow coming the next day, which didn't happen until evening so we could have met.

We were told to call in again Monday evening to see if we still had to report, and we did. This time I was not so lucky. My name was finally called after the first twelve were called. After we were all quizzed the final 12 were called and my name was not one of them! I am sure the whole county heard my sigh of relief. The lawyers could see that I would not be able to serve without physical challenges and could hinder the proceeding.

This case was about a woman being charged with marijuana possession after the deputy was called to a home for a domestic dispute. A couple of the men who were called up did not have nice things to say about her as they knew her, so obviously they were dismissed. So she does not have a good reputation. But, since she fought so long to have a jury trial and not settle out of court, maybe she was not at fault. Again, I would have liked to sit in on the trial, but did not. I would have liked to see what evidence was given for both trials.

It was interesting that the jury selection was different than the first case. They only called up 20 people and did not select a thirteenth in case a juror had to leave before the trial was over. And there was no court reporter there like there was at the first trial. Also, the judge did not ask us all questions first.

Since our term is over March 1, the judge told us we were done and did not have to call in again, smiling as he knew that made us all happy. Both the judge and the prosecutor told us this term was unusually busy as most of the time there are no cases in the two month terms. I do think there will be some cases coming up after some of the things I have read in the paper, but it will probably be a long time before they get to court, and I hope I am not in the jury pool for those.

I have watched two trials in the past. The first one was when I still lived with my parents. My dad was custodian at the court house and he knew about a trial and asked if I wanted to go with him to watch. I don't remember what the trial was about. The second one is very memorable. The husband of my good friend had been murdered, along with his boss, both bankers in a small town in Minnesota. It made national news and a book was written about it, and a documentary tv show was made as well. I took my daughter along to court to see how the court operated. Even though it was a school day, the school allowed her to leave since it was a learning experience. She was in high school at the time.

The small court room was packed, standing room only. They finally had to lock the doors to keep spectators out. The defendant was found guilty, and later the prosecutor stated it was the first time he won a case on circumstantial evidence.

I could go on and on about that story, but this post is already long enough. I might talk about it in the future, mostly for my kids to remember as part of my life.