Tuesday, June 29, 2021

It happens

Well it’s good to be home, I just walked in the door 25 minutes ago.  Still, I wish I wasn’t here.  This past Saturday I went to bed at my customary time, 12:30, but woke up a couple hours later, with my right side & groin on fire.  I walked around my apartment for a couple hours, hoping it would calm down.  When it didn’t, I called 911 and said I needed to go to the hospital.

They asked if I had a preference, I said Mercy Hospital, they’d know what to do.  He asked me if I had an idea what this could be, I said kidney stones (my last attack was 15 months ago) or maybe appendicitis. 

When we got to the hospital, Mercy wasted no time moving me to a bed (I was getting pretty loud by then) and stuck a morphine drip in my arm. 

The doctor came in, very kind, and said he’d read the notes from the ambulance driver and wanted to give me a CT-scan.  He said the radiologist thought it sounded like a urinary tract infection, but the doctor was convinced it was kidney stones, multiple ones.

Sure enough, a half hour later my doc told me he won that bet, it was in fact 3 stones, in various places with one “90 percent home” in my groin and blocking my urine.  He saw my belly was distended from retaining fluids, told me i needed a catheter but he didn’t want to do that, was afraid it would “aggravate the other stones” and cause further distress.  He said they were all passable (not requiring surgery) and just needed time.

They kept me there all day Sunday, then checked me into the hospital Sunday night.  I asked my nurse if I was staying until all three stones had passed, she said “No, the doctor is worried about your crazy high blood pressure.  You’re on medication for that, right?  Do you take it regularly?”   I wearily told her yes… ulp.  On Monday they must’ve taken my pressure 20 times. 

I was awoken early this morning and told I was being sent home.  I did protest a little, said I’d only passed one stone and wasn’t ready to go, but they said the others could take days.  They warned me I’d be experiencing ‘some discomfort’ once my morphine drip had worn off (darn it, love that stuff) and gave me a couple meds to take the rest of the week (oxycodone and Flomax).  

I haven’t exactly had a good history with opioids, I hope I don’t need them.

Anyway, sorry if I shared too much here—and to my blogging friends, I’m sorry I haven’t been around to read or comment on your latest pieces.  I turned off the comments here so people won’t feel obligated to say anything, I’m going to go lie down.  For now, the end.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

After 20+ years, it’s time to add more green to my $25,000 money wheel

Y’know, it’s funny the little things we remember for no rhyme or reason.  Back in 1972, when I was around 11 years old, I was watching The Newlywed Game with my mom and it was time to get serious:  Bob Eubanks was asking the final question in the game.  “And finally ladies, if you could choose a dream salary for your husbands, what amount would it be?”

The first wife said $25,000 a year and I was amazed when every other wife gave the same amount.  I can’t remember what the husbands guessed their wives said, but I do recall asking my mom if she thought that was a lot of money. 

Mom said not if you were a rocket scientist, which answered my question!

28 years later in Oct 2000, I was working at BNY Mellon (tracking foreign currency conversions to dollars, loved the work, hated my boss) when I got an offer to come over and talk to the folks at UPMC Healthplan about a new job.

When I was asked how much I earned at Mellon, I said around 45K.  UPMC offered me 50K and I thought “I bet I could live on half of that” and was reminded of that old Newlywed Game question about 25K.  I accepted UPMC’s offer.

I had no real life goals then, other than seeing how long I could live on 25K a year.  I loved to save and enjoyed tracking my spending and living on various budgets.  I’m such a nerd—but it did help me get out of the rat race 10 years ahead of schedule!

So every year in June, I track my annual spending for the year ahead.  (I go by fiscal year, not calendar and for me that’s July 1 2021 – June 30 2022.) 


RENT 790.00
CHARITY 225/12 20.00
RENTERS INS 120/12 10.00
DENTAL INS 110/12 9.00
AMBULANCE INS 100/12 8.00
WHAMMO 3500/12 290.00

MONTHLY TOTAL……… $2275.00

YEARLY TOTAL             $27,500.00

I added $50.00 for dining out to this year’s monthly budget as I’ve only eaten out one time since June 2018 (because of a long-term jaw disorder).  That is changing this year!

But darn it, my fifth year in a row of going over my budget.  When I began a 25K budget 21 years ago, I had no problem keeping it below 25K—often by a couple thousand—for 15 years.  That “Whammo” category (for a sudden big expense, like a new couch, a new computer, a new dental bridge) often ran about a grand a year.   

Not anymore though; since 2016, what with moving a couple times, medical deductibles I never had to face before, extensive oral work, the Whammo in my budget has increased to around $3500 annually.  My 25K budget years are over.

Why am I making a big issue about this?  Should I say to hell with it and stop tracking my spending?  It’s not like I’m trying to save for retirement anymore, I’m already there.  I’ll be getting social security in a few more years too. 

Oh well, I apologize for this blah blog.  My friend Danielle always says “Don’t do number blogs, they’re boring.  I hate your blogs when they contain numbers.”

That just makes me want to do them more.  Nerd smile

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

To sock or not to sock; that is the question

I’m pretty sure I’m losing my fashion sense.  Well, if I had any to begin with.  I think it’s a common occurrence with older men, especially if they don’t have a significant other to nudge ‘em in the right direction.  I remember 20+ years ago, dressing for my dad’s funeral and wondering if anyone would notice my pinstriped suit was 4-5 years old.  I needn’t have worried, there were several men there (my dad’s age) wearing neatly pressed leisure suits from the 1970s and paying their respects, God bless them.

I’m getting away from myself here.  This is about a pair of shoes I got recently, so recent I haven’t worn them outside yet.  I’d like to, they feel comfortable for walking to the store, but I live alone and don’t have anyone to warn me if I’m going to look like a damn fool if I venture out in public. 

Can I wear these Skecher’s Walkers Slip-ons with ankle socks?  Or should I go without?  I think wearing them with socks would help them last longer.  Even on sale, they weren’t cheap.  They’re regularly $70.00 on Skechers.com, but I got them for $38.00 on Memorial Day weekend from Famous Footwear. 

I can’t put Odor Eaters in them, they have a raised memory foam layer insole.

Since my early twenties, I’ve had a problem finding shoes that fit my platypus feet.  I wear 9.5 EXTRA WIDE, and you’d think this was a common size, but it isn’t.  I’ve always had trouble finding shoes that fit, then last year I discovered Skechers has a whole line of Extra Wide shoes for men.  I bought 2 pair of lace up walkers and a pair of white running shoes, but now all I see are these slip-on sneakers, and NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long on TV talking about the convenience of them.  So I thought I’d get a pair…now if I just knew how to wear them.

Speaking of sock & shoe dilemnas, I went thru something similar in the fall of 1969.  This was a year before we moved to the country, so we still lived in town (down the street from the old Waynesburg High School).  As I mentioned here before, we walked past the high school every day on our way to South Ward Elementary.  I always got a kick out of seeing those high school kids along our way, girls with their long hair & miniskirts, older boys in their… open toed sandals and dark socks? 

Third grade, first day of school, Sept 1969

For some reason, I thought those socks & sandals were the coolest thing ever.  I told my mom I HAD to get a pair of brown leather open-toed sandals, to wear to school.  Mom said absolutely not, I’d look like a little hippie and freeze my toes off.  When I insisted I wouldn’t, I’d wear them with dark socks, she laughed and told me you didn’t wear socks with sandals.  I said I’d seen other boys wearing them to school and I wanted to fit in.  (I just didn’t tell her they were in high school!) 

She relented, and a couple days later I was wearing sandals (and navy blue socks) to school and feeling like a junior Halston.  They got a lot of attention from the girls too. 

It didn’t last long though, I made the mistake of wearing my sandals with white socks one day, making my footwear a lot more obvious.  The teacher in the classroom next to mine, Mrs. Pider, asked me where I got permission to wear “roman sandals” to school, then asked my own teacher Mr. Porter. 

Frankly, I can’t remember who said what after that.  All I know is, I never wore sandals with (or without) socks to school again.  

So… what do I do in regards to these slip-ons?  I’ll go bare if I have to, I’m just partial to socks and need to know if I’ll be breaking any fashion rules!



Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Oh boy, it’s Honey Soy—chicken, that is

I woke up Sunday morning, and instead of a late spring/early summer breeze wafting thru my window, it was cold, clammy and raining.  It’s Memorial Day weekend, but feels like fall!

Forget the tuna salad I was planning to make today, I needed something hot, sweet & spicy—Asian something.

But I have no rice—no onions, no green or red peppers.  I DO have one large potato, some baby carrots on their last legs & some very frozen chicken parts.

Honey Soy Chicken w/mashed potatoes

  • 1/3 cup honey (whew I had just enough!)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (I love this stuff but be careful, a little goes a long way)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger (powdered)

I let the chicken thaw out some in my refrigerator, then Sunday night I placed 2 semi-fozen thighs and 2 drumsticks in a glass baking dish.  Mixed up my overnight-marinade to pour over the chicken.

I covered it with TWO sheets of cling-wrap, so the very pungent garlic wouldn’t get into my milk and put it in the refrigerator overnight.  The next time you see this dish, it’s going to be coming out of the oven!

NEXT DAY:  I removed the glass baking dish from the fridge, let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes (to get to room temp) then removed the plastic and placed in a preheated 375F oven.  Cooked it 30 minutes, flipped the chicken parts, cooked another 30 mins.  Doesn’t it look tasty?
While the chicken was baking, I cooked those baby carrots and that (peeled & mashed) potato on my stovetop.  I didn’t use ANY salt in my cooking, as that honey soy sauce had plenty of sodium already.

I know this isn’t pretty, but the chicken was very flavorful and that sauce went well with everything.  if I was entertaining, I’d put a sprig of parsley or something green on the plate.  I’m not a total caveman, y’know—I just eat like one!