Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Hopefully, quiet day

The only thing I "have" to do during business hours is meet with the instructor who is going to be teaching Ecology this summer in my stead. I promised him I'd give him copies of the lab manual and loan him my textbook and let him have whatever PowerPoints or past tests I have...I'm just glad not to be doing this so I'm happy to share, and at this point I feel like I've "amortized out" a lot of the effort on the PowerPoints and the lab packet (by using them again and again with just minor tweaks here and there) so I don't feel like I'm giving work away for free.

I'd feel differently, of course, if I were told to hand over my materials to an incoming adjunct who was replacing me after I was let go for reasons of "financial exigency" but at this point that's not happening, so...


I got a few more plants yesterday. Lowe's was having a big sale on "slightly neglected herb plants" so I got four basil and two regular sage and two Greek oregano (I also bought a couple more lavender which were not on sale, but were still a decent price). Planted them last night, and since we're getting a fair amount of rain today, they will probably not look so very neglected in short order. (They already looked better last night after I planted them - they were badly potbound - and watered them)

I also got some marigolds and planted them around the tomatoes; an old folk-remedy thing is to do that because the marigolds confuse nematodes (the chemicals they give off mess with the nematodes' chemical-detection mechanisms) and the nematodes can't find the tomato roots.

EVERY old-timer gardener I've ever mentioned planting tomatoes has told me to put marigolds around them. I don't know if the tomato-eating nematodes are extra bad here, or if it's just Lore, but I do it....because maybe it is Lore, but it's kind of nice Lore, and I like marigolds anyway.

The basil are already probably big enough to spare a few leaves; maybe one day this week or next I should make pizza margherita. I almost never have fresh basil for it but now I will.


Awaiting yet another package even though this has already been kind of a spendy spring....last Saturday Build-a-Bear was doing a sale on some of their stuffed horses. (Not My Little Pony, but still: cute horses).

They had a Palomino. With big blue eyes and long lashes. And looking at it, it triggered a memory for me:

when I was a kid (school-aged, but still fairly young) one of my "imaginary friends*" was a horse. Actually, several horses, they were a pack. (The names, as you will see, are somewhat embarrassing to adult me) - The mother was Piecrust (because of her color, like well-cooked pie crust); her youngest daughter was Meringue, and the older daughter was Butterscotch. Butterscotch was pretty much a true Palomino color; Piecrust (in my imagination) was darker and Meringue was lighter-colored, almost white.

(*I knew they were imaginary but I still liked making up stories about them. I had a LOT of imaginary friends as a kid, far more than real friends)

I remember riding the bus to elementary school and looking out the window and imagining them running - not really running *alongside* the bus (so: not going to school with me) but running wild and free, somewhere out in the meadows, and having adventures and doing things like going swimming in lakes.

And so, when I saw that stuffed pony (priced at $19 on sale, though it was ultimately more with shipping and sales tax), I thought "That looks like Butterscotch!" and suddenly I needed to have her. (Butterscotch, as a more-grown-up one, was more independent, so I don't feel "sad" having just her, like I might with Meringue).

Anyway. I don't need another giant horse stuffie (and yes, Build-a-Bear's animals are LORGE) but I really wanted her and immediately knew what I'd name her...

I'm also wondering if I can braid her mane; the Build-a-Bear horses have those "dollyhair" manes that are brushable but that also tend to tangle over time, and maybe in braids it would stay better. I'm also wondering if I could figure out how to make her one of those "field blankets" or whatever you call them that people put on their horses when it's chilly or raining out....I might even be able to find a small scrap of pre-quilted fabric (or snag one out of my mom's stash when I'm up there at home) for it...


One of the things making the rounds (and predictably getting dumped on both by people to the right of me and people to the left of me) is this infographic USA Today put out talking about "what all people spend money 'unnecessarily' on" and they claim the "average" American spends about $1500 a month "unnecessarily." (the story is herebut because they want you to either pay for a subscription (heh) or allow whatever ads their adserver serves up, I haven't read the full story)

Um, yeah. I don't keep track too closely but my "frivolous" spending is probably closer to $300 a month. (I budgeted $350 as the donation for Lent - gave $100 to a local effort to build a new senior center, and $250 to my denomination's Week of Compassion, which is largely disaster relief). Yes, I have spent upwards of $150 on my garden so far this year's not *entirely* unnecessary because the city can come after you if you have an unkempt garden *and* if my tomato plants produce I at least get some tomatoes (and some basil, now) out of it. And it's Good Works, too, because a lot of the plants I bought were specifically pollinator plants (and specifically ones grown without the neonictinioid pesticides that are such a problem now)

Also, I'm sure someone could argue that piano lessons ($150 for about 2 month's worth, and I consider that cheap) are "unnecessary."

(Also they included "grooming" on that list, and I have some questions....there is a minimum level of grooming you must do if you are going out in the world. Yes, I COULD buy cheaper shampoo than I do but some of the cheaper ones I've tried don't work as well).

And at any rate - $1500 a month? Unless people are in debt up to their eyeballs, I'm guessing that there are some people making a huge amount of money (and can afford to spend a lot) that are influencing that; $1500 approaches half my take-home pay in a month. (Granted: my "take home" is reduced by the fact that I chunk $700 or so in a retirement account every month, before I ever see it. So I don't count it as part of take-home pay, though hopefully - barring a catastrophic economic crash or some kind of governmental "publicization" of all privately-held retirement dollars* - it will fund my retirement in the future. I hope. Because I sure as heck don't count on Social Security (even though, oddly, I would be eligible - most universities, their profs are not, but we are) and I don't even really count that much on my state's teacher retirement system)

(*It would take a lot to get me to march on Washington with a pitchfork, but being told, "Oh, that money you didn't use out of your paycheck, that you set aside for your future retirement? We need that. Enjoy working until you're 80" would do it)

But at any rate: I dislike scolds, and there was an undercurrent really of "Look, if you gave up every small pleasure in life and washed your entire body and hair and clothes with Super-Cheap-Industrial-Strength- Trust-Us-It's-Walmart brand soap, you could have some more money for retirement!" and I get that underfunded retirements are a big problem but...I've been in a place (a few times) where I had to give up all "nonessential" spending, and it's a miserable way to live.

(Also, the whole "$1500 a month" thing does make me think it's strongly influenced by people far wealthier than I am, and that somehow USA Today is using that to shame us ordinary schlubs about "OMG, you bought MOVIE TICKETS for your family last month? How terrible!")

But really: suggesting people give up the little things that make life in the here-and-now better is...not good. Yes, I hear the standard "blame poor people" argument of "if they only ate beans and rice every single day instead of getting fast food all the time" (presupposing the time, energy, and kitchen facilities to cook dry beans....I don't make beans "from scratch" very often myself despite having a good kitchen, because of the time factor) or yelling at people for buying some new toy....or paying for Netflix or engaging in some form of not-free entertainment...

I admit I do a little of it myself, when a student comes and complains about the price of the textbook and then whips out a brand-new smartphone to look something up, but....yeah.

Also, ride-shares are on there but not regular car maintenance, so I am assuming either (a) these are people who live in a city where normally the average schmoes are "expected" to take buses or the subway** or (b) they assume a car is just a "natural and necessary" expense and ride-shares are over-and-above, but I would argue: if you've been out for the evening and been served more alcohol than you can handle, a ride-share is absolutely a necessary expense (or a taxi, whatever).

(** My limited experience with public transport: it can be fine, or it can be very bad, depending on your fellow riders. I've never had it happen to me but have heard of women being groped on buses and the like and I admit knowing that would put me off it in a hurry.)

Though I also think a person should decide for themselves. My "buying lunch out" (at least on workdays) budget is nil, because on busy days I pack a Sad Desk Lunch (no restaurants close that are fast enough, and also, restaurant portions tend to be bigger than what I can comfortably eat) and on not-busy days, I go home, because then I can make a Proper Cup of Tea and can relax a bit in the quiet. So that's $174 a month (on average) not-spent. And I never use rideshares, by virtue of them not existing here and me owning my own car...but I do get subscription boxes (Doki Doki and gachapon) and while I admit they are the height of frivolous spending (as in things I literally do not need and sometimes cannot use*) But they make my life better and happier, and maybe when I share some of the items they make other people's lives better and happier (I have given some of the more juvenile-themed accessories to my niece)

And I do a lot of online shopping, but in some cases that's stuff I need that I cannot buy locally...

My mom points out to me regularly when I bemoan spending lots of money on craft supplies that I don't buy expensive shoes, and I don't go out to bars, and I really don't even go to restaurants very often. So again: as long as you're not sending yourself into eternal debt, you're probably fine, and what does USA Today get to say about how you spend your money? (And like I said: I am already saving for retirement so even that is not something that can be pointed out to me. Oh, I am sure I could save *more* than I do, but I'm at the point where....cutting out more small pleasures would not be desirable)

(*Purlewe, if I have a minute this afternoon I'll get the sauce dish in the mail)


I suppose some scolds might argue a dishwasher is unnecessary. (Though I've also read it uses less water, total, than handwashing a comparable amount of dishes.

No, I haven't run it yet - not enough dirty dishes - but the guy did test it to make sure it worked before he left.

I should celebrate having a new dishwasher by doing some more elaborate cooking again. I bought panko crumbs this weekend so I could make those black-bean burgers I like.

And definitely am going to make homemade pizza some time.

1 comment:

purlewe said...

I mailed your blindbag yesterday!