Friday, August 18, 2017

Getting Through Life (And This Week)

In a few days, it will be better. Really.


Just a reminder for my earlybird friends, who insist on having coffee at the awful hour of 7:30 a.m.:

That explains the lack of coherence...

This is for you, Jo, Chris and Willo.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Summer Updates

A number of readers have been asking me -- are we moved into the trailer yet?


We're still in the Castle Rock house, for several reasons:
        *The bathroom renovations are not finished. (Guest bathroom, yes. Master bath, no.)
        *Son #1 (our contractor) has not been feeling well. He and Daughter #2 also took some time to see his dad, and check on some property in North Carolina. (He is headed back there, but promised he'd have the bathroom finished before he left.)
        *Painting is still needed. The wood floors need refinishing, as well.
        *We had to beg off to concentrate in other areas -- particularly the Mama's 80th birthday party. (More on that soon.) Plus work.
        *Packing up the business has taken more time than planned. I told the Brick I am sorry I was so verbose, bookwise -- those copies are heavy!

Picture this...full.

     We packed the truck to the gunnels, and made our first trip to put things in storage. Wouldn't you know it -- we hit a huge rainstorm on the way. Our brand-new tarp ripped within the first hour, and continued until it looked like a hobo's discard. Everything that wasn't in plastic got jammed inside the truck; everything that was got thoroughly poured on. We finally pulled under a gas station canopy to wait out the rain. All around us were every kind of trailer and rv possible, trying to get a breather from the deluge. 

So far, we seem to have escaped any serious damage. A few boxes show wet corners, but the items inside seem ok. Some time fighting a brisk wind helped dry things out. 

     It took us three days to box and pack a truckful of stuff...and only an hour or so to unload. Go figure.
     More things happening:

*The chickens are still alive. Barely laying, but just enough to justify buying another bag of cracked grain. The execution clock is ticking.
*The Brick is holding off on taking a regular job, so he can concentrate on the house. 
    My work, on the other hand, continues. You've got to have some income to be able to keep paying bills.
*We just finished the fourth and final season of Turn -- an AMAZING finish.

*Our coffeemaker gave up the ghost...then the French press coffee maker smashed while loading. What the....? (This is serious business for coffee-loving Bricks.)
*I've picked up more jobs. Interestingly, these may include quilts -- but they're not all about quilts. Tough I've been writing about and appraising non-quilted items for the past decade, this kind of work has been steadily increasing in the past year. Hmmm...

We haven't been able to take much time off -- but we have done our jobs. Currently, it looks as if we'll be in the house through mid-October...and hunting season. After that, we'll take another look at the situation and decide what to do. It's not critical -- we don't have to sell the house right this second, to be ok. Which gives us freedom to pick and choose on offers, and time to finish up the jobs we need to get done.

I wish it could go more quickly. I do. But I also believe that we are supposed to hold off for a while, for a reason. What that reason is, God knows. 
    He does. 

Meanwhile, we're:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Just A Little Longer...

...and summer's over.

I can't say I'll really miss this one. It's been full of packing and sorting, and dragging ourselves around. No vacation time. This is the work season, so we can enjoy the future more.  

It is the way it is. 

Looks like we'll still be in the house for at least a few more months, while we finish up, paint and refinish the floors. It's okay -- we're not in a huge rush. I am starting to realize that the Brick and I can only take so much stress and bustle; then we have to stop and rest. (Is this what 'getting old' is like?)

And look what's coming: 

Hoo boy -- pumpkin coffee again. (grimace)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Happy International Lefthanded Day! AUGUST 13

It's almost over...but did you celebrate your favorite left-hander today? 

As one whose left hand writes...
Hope so.

Happy International Lefthanded Day!

Actually, lefthanders do a lot of things right-handed, too... we have to. 

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Sticks and Stones

Actually, it was just sticks, sticks and more sticks.

Two years ago, we got our hands on a truckload of hardwood trimmings from a local company -- for the amazing price of $21. Hardwood, out here in Colorado, is practically the same as gold, but burns much longer than the pine logs we normally buy. 
     These trimmings varied in size and width, but most were in 5-foot lengths. We've been hacking away at the pile sporadically, but it's continued to take up much of the space in front of the garage.

     Until Saturday night, that is.

See the messy pile of sticks behind Charley? Ta-da...

     The Brick and I spent hours sawing tidy-sized pieces, then bundling them. Now we have nine large bundles for firewood here or elsewhere. The bonus: it's extra space, behind our 5-foot chainlink fence, that's both safe and usable. Now we can pull the trailer back into the fenced area, and gradually start transferring things into it.
     The irony in all this: I'd thought our neighbors were wishing we'd get the trailer out of their yard, where it's been most of the summer. (We had to move it to get access to our Large Orange Friend.) Turns out they don't want us to move it for a few weeks yet. They have extra family coming into town, and are thrilled that they can stay in the trailer while they're here!
      It seems little thanks, considering how much Tim and Elle put up with us. Elle even brought over squash and zucchini from their garden. 
     Good neighbors are a treasure.

Origins of Art Nouveau. This affects all sorts of design trends...including fabric.  (From Painting Class)

Twenty of the world's most valuable stolen treasures. (Fortunately, at least half have been recovered. A few have been stolen more than once.)

Some very silly (and funny!) signs, tools and such.

Dorset buttons -- how to make them, where to use them.  (From Craftstylish)

More odd things happened on 9/11 than just 9/11.  See what you've forgotten, too.  (From Listverse)

The Google Manifesto: conform or perish.  (From Financial Samurai)

IMediaEthics -- a great source for checking truthfulness in the media. (This started as Stinky Journalism, specializing in outing doctored photos.)

Bits and pieces from the 'Golden Age of Steamships' - mostly architecturally-speaking. (From Messy Nessy)

Ten famous people who almost bought it -- in strange ways. Johnny Cash, almost disemboweled by an ostrich??  (From Listverse)

Ever heard of Parabo Press? This photo-processing site gives you 25 free photos, if you'll kick in for shipping. The prices are really reasonable, too: $20 and $25 for poster-sized 'engineer prints' in color or black-and-white, of a photo of your choosing. 100% back guarantee, as well. Use the code KYYHCX , and you'll save $10 on your order. (I'll get a little, too.)

Have a good week.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Happy Weekend!

Yep, that's me...trying to do five things at the same time this weekend. I hope yours is going smoothly.

Seeing the Solar Eclipse

In case you've been hiding under a rock lately...
     Many parts of the world, U.S. included, are going to view a total eclipse on August 21st.

For our part of the country (the American West), the best place to experience goings-on is in Casper, Wyoming. At this point, you won't find lodging -- even camping, unless you're headed out to the boonies somewhere. (Daughter #1 put in camping reservations back in March -- and got the last two spots at the local campground.)

     Kansas City is another good spot. It's centrally located, has a ton of hotels, restaurants and such, and is easy to reach. (And leave from, assuming you're not headed out during rush hour.)

Whatever you try, don't miss it. Even if it's a partial eclipse. (Some good viewing tips are here.) Just don't stare for a long time -- even with sunglasses, you can damage your eyes. A total eclipse isn't worth blindness for the rest of your life.

A good warmup to the doings in a few weeks:
     the annual Perseid meteor shower tomorrow night (Aug. 12) and the 13th.

It's flashier some years more than others...but still fascinating. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Don't Let Them Get Me!

This could apply to fabric, too. Sadly. I've had the strangest urge to hang out in the sale fabrics, to get away from all the brouhaha at the house. 
    Maybe I'll start a new project, when all this packing calms down.

Animal Magnetism

This gift-wrapping idea stands on its own!

The Spruce has 6 nifty ways to gift-wrap for birthdays and special occasions.  (Click on the link, and you'll even get a how-to video.) This one particularly caught my eye:

Use any one of a menagerie as pack animals.  Simple & effective.

Lions and tigers and bears. (oh my)

Choose your recipient's favorite animal -- they're easy to find on Amazon and at any basic toy area, including the dollar store. (In fact, there's a cow statue in our local Walmart's clearance area that I may just have to get now.)

Couldn't you see these with tiny wreaths or jingle bells around their necks for Christmas? Or expand the idea to other 'holders:' tiny cars, dump trucks, artificial flowers, even realistic figures. (I suddenly thought of Bigfoot! Sorry, couldn't help it.)

Think of The Big Guy delivering your present -- click on the link above for this version

More ideas here, as well.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Cutting Expenses -- When You Think You Can't , Part VII: How to Get Those Extra $$

I hope you've been enjoying our ongoing series, "Cutting Expenses -- When You Think You Can't." So far, everything basic's been covered, including food, shelter, insurance -- even death and taxes! 

You've been saving everywhere you can, but it's still not enough. What you need is more income. Yes, a second or even a third job is possible. (Not fun, but possible.) But are there other opportunities?

YES. Yes, there are.

*Rent a spot in your home.  It doesn't have to be just a room, though Airbnb and Craigslist can be very helpful in that respect.  (So can, a neighborhood sharing app that's all over in our part of Colorado. Look to see if a similar program covers your area.)
     What about your garage? A space in the backyard? Many a person is looking for a reasonably-priced area to work on his or her hobby...or store things. You could be of help.

*Do surveys or testing groups. Craigslist will occasionally have requests for people who have some kind of health problem, or are interested in finding out more about certain cars or household products. Join that group, and you've automatically picked up $10, $20 or even $50-75 for yourself. It will mean a few hours away -- and hopefully you'll get to keep samples of whatever you're testing.
     My favorite is still the restaurant chain that tests burger combinations on its group. I've been part of this three or four times now, and walk away stuffed with a $50 gift card in my hand!
     There are plenty of online survey groups out there. But the best one for me consistently has been Pinecone Research. Their surveys are fairly regular, take only a few minutes to finish -- and you're paid $3 for every one. (You do have to periodically fill out a 'household questions' post, as well.) That can be redeemed for cash or merchandise. (I take the cash every time.)

*Anything you can do short-term will help. Take care of a pet.  Bake a birthday cake -- or offer to serve or clean up at a neighborhood birthday party. Wash a car, or water plants. Pick up the mail...or the drycleaning. Do ironing. Babysit. Be clean, honest, charge reasonably and do the job you promised.

Maybe a gingerbread house at Christmastime? People love these -- hate to build them.

     Do your work well, and you'll have repeat requests and referrals. Use NextDoor and Craigslist to publicize what you're offering. Maybe signs in your neighborhood, too. (Frankly, the latter never worked for me, except for garage sales.)  .Which brings me to:

*Hold a garage sale. Advertise it as a moving or estate sale, if that's what it is -- buyers will have even more interest. Yes, you can also sell on Craigslist or Ebay. Or:

*Use your hobby to start a business on Etsy. That extra yarn? Perfect for scarves, mittens or even scrubbing household cloths. The point is not to go out and buy all sorts of extra materials or equipment; it's to use up what you've already got.

*Teach something. Piano, voice, cooking, sewing -- all you have to do is use your skill, and advertise it. You don't have to be a music major to teach something like piano, either -- this writer and teacher has been doing it, off and on, for years.
     Keep your prices reasonable, and you'll have enough student opportunities to choose from.

*Take a part- part-time job. Maybe your local childcare only needs extra help a few times a year, when their regular employees go on vacation. Or someone calls in sick.
     Substitute teaching jobs operate like this...but so do other businesses that work with the public, and need people who are friendly, reliable, and quick to learn. Someday I am going to our local Little Caesar's Pizza place, which seems to be constantly looking for help, and offer my services for one day a week...or a weekend a month. I'll bet they'll jump at it.

*Do something few others will. Cleaning up dog poop. Snow shoveling. Waving a sign at an intersection. These jobs can actually pay quite well -- and they're almost always in demand. Yes, your dignity may be offended by scrubbing out a public toilet. What do you care, if it gets you away from the humiliation of not being able to pay your bills? Many of these jobs are low-profile, anyways, done while other people are not around. And they don't demand unusual equipment or above-rate intelligence...just gloves and a willingness to work. You can always take a shower, afterwards.
*Here are 50 more ideas, thanks to the Penny Hoarder.

Now,  some other things you can do to generate extra income: 
      (They don't specifically pay $$, but let you save in other areas.)

*Volunteer at places and events that offer extra food. Banquets are one possibility. Thrift shops and food banks are another. Senior lunches and social events are yet another. Never say no to any leftovers -- even if you can't use them, your neighbors (see below) or pets can.

*Swap your skills and available stuff with friends and neighbors. They may fix supper, if you offer to do their ironing for the week. Offer a ride to the grocery store when you're headed there, anyways -- and you may get a free ride next time, or your gas paid for on this trip.
     Our wonderful neighbors will feed our dogs and chickens when we're out of town -- a once-a-day job that nets them extra eggs, as well as the chance for us to reciprocate when they're gone. This has an additional benefit: it becomes an informal Neighborhood Watch of sorts, and helps increase the activity at your home if someone unsavory is watching.

Ask them over for a cup of coffee to discuss possibilities. 

*Rent equipment together -- or offer yours, in return for a favor down the road from them. Our Large Orange Friend certainly came in handy this way, with grateful neighbors sharing extra garden produce, and even a gift card.

*Ask. Do it with politeness -- and a smile. You'll be amazed at the arrangements you can work out. It's a 50/50 risk; they may say no -- but then again, they may say yes.

You're not going to waste that extra $$$ you've just earned or saved -- are you?

 If you absolutely must, go ahead and spend 10% on something frivolous. (New socks. A DVD. Or go out for a snack.) Shovel the rest into savings or debt payments, so you can take a deep breath. 

There. Feel better?

Next Time: Bits & Pieces -- And the Conclusion

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Catching Up - And Natal Celebrations

    We are making Progress.

    Ooh, that's a lovely word. The guest bath is done, and the master bath has a beautiful coating of tile by the tub. It still needs grouting, paint and such. But Son #1 is making...well, you know. The P word.
    We still have piles everywhere -- but I hope to change that when DAV makes a pickup this week. Also, I have a bunch of stuff headed for the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, as well.

     Only a little paperwork to go, business-wise. Granted, I need to start on another big appraising job this week, but feel certain I can fit it in without killing myself and staying up all night, every night. 
     This week, I'll concentrate on packing up quilts I plan to keep for the teaching/lecture schedule; extra books and kits; notions and tools; and fabrics and embellishments I plan to use in the future. These will all go into storage for now -- then we'll periodically stop by to refresh supplies. Some furniture is going in storage, as well, including folding shelves, a bookcase and a beautiful copper-inlaid armoire I just can't let go at present. 
     The trailer's been sitting in our kind neighbors' side yard while the dumpster was here. Now our Large Orange Friend is gone, I need to break up a small pile of wood and hose down the driveway. Then the trailer can move into the backyard -- and we can start packing it, as well.

Daughter #2's birthday was last Wednesday, the 3rd; Daughter #1's birthday is this coming Tuesday, the 8th. (No, we did not plan it this way.) We'll celebrate both their birthdays Wednesday night with a bang-up dinner, lots of presents...and probably two cakes, with candles lit the traditional way -- in the restaurant parking lot, standing by the car. We've done this so often that they've come to expect it...but try doing that during a rainstorm, or in the case of the Brick, whose birthday is in February, in a snowstorm! Chattering teeth can't sing 'Happy Birthday' very well. 

     A few mousey snaps -- including a big one Saturday afternoon, while I was working on this post. Thankfully, the invasion seems to have calmed down some. Generally, life seems a little calmer. We still have a lot of work to do -- but that's to be expected. Meanwhile:

Ten instances where a ghostly appearance changed the outcome. And it's not just Hamlet's dad, either.  (From Listverse) Also from them:

Ten trees with mystical histories.  

Ten amazing places you'd think were made up. (They aren't.) Like a castle covered with graffiti, right?

Five things banned because they were TOO effective.  (From Cracked)

Getting stuff done -- with the 20-second rule.  (From Funky Junk Interiors)

Twelve healthy crockpot freezer meals -- using veggies and fruit now that will be even more appreciated later. Plus an intriguing recipe for Peach Dump Cake. Peaches, cake mix, butter -- that's it!  (Thanks, New Leaf Wellness)

"Doing what I've always wanted to." A spirited and cheerful defense of homemaking at its best.  (From Diary of a Stay-At-Home Mom)

The secrets and scandals of Cher.  An intriguing group of bits about this talented singer/actress.

Ten fortune hunters who met an untimely death.  Including someone who disappeared near the area that Daughter #2, Son and I were digging!  (From Listverse)

An amazing jet landing -- completely blind, after the plane was in a hailstorm.

Are you responsible for your child's unauthorized credit card charges?  (From

"How I got free crap with fake reviews." Gives you lots of faith in the system, doesn't it...

Matt Boermeester has been railroaded out of USC.  Even when both he -- and his girlfriend Zoe Katz, the alleged victim -- said abuse allegations were false. Shame on USC, who should have dealt with this investigation far more carefully. More on this here.  I am still trying to understand why the Title IX office would have gotten involved with this in the first place.

J.K. Rowling dumps on President Trump for bypassing a disabled child in a wheelchair -- only it isn't true. (Rowling eventually apologized to the family and removed the tweets -- but was anything said to Trump? Naaahhhh....)

Fatboy ice cream sandwich sprinkle pops. Yum. (From Who Needs A Cape)

Ten truly weird mysteries of the Civil War...including a strange bacteria that made wounds glow.  (From Listverse)

Movies that were supposed to have sequels...and didn't. Including John Carter, which was actually quite terrific.  (From Looper) Add tv series to this one -- I'm still waiting for more on Jericho, The Philanthropist, and the one we just finished: The Mist.

Garlic fries with homemade chili sauce.  Oh my.  (From Poor Girl Eats Well)

"Cleaning up after the dog." I can relate -- we've had our share of accidents lately. (From Diary of A Stay-At-Home Mom)

Don Baylor, former coach of the Colorado Rockies, has died. His death was from multiple myeloma -- the same as my dad. An intelligent, interesting man.

A 3500-year-old lunchbox...found in the Swiss Alps. (From Unexplained Mysteries) Also from them:

A Viking treasure trove from Scotland -- 100 items from the 10th century, including an early silver cross, found in May with a metal detector. And:

An experiment in AI (artificial intelligence) has to be shut down -- after the AI invents its own language and starts talking to itself. Unfortunately, no one else can understand it.

Have a great week. Happy Birthday, girlies! Your father and I love you very much.

Happy Birthday, Daughters #1 and #2! You are a wonderful part of our life, and we love you.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

"We Know That All Things Work Together For Good..."

Our buddy Charles Spurgeon, otherwise known to us as "Chuck," had some poignant words to say recently on his "Morning and Evening" devotional:

We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.
Upon some points a believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the stern-sheets of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world's tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, Jehovah steers it. That re-assuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus treading the billows, and he hears a voice saying, "It is I, be not afraid." He knows too that God is always wise, and, knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes; that nothing can occur which ought not to arise. He can say, "If I should lose all I have, it is better that I should lose than have, if God so wills: the worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that could befall to me if God ordains it." "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God." The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. Everything has worked for good as yet; the poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions have worked the cure; the sharp cuts of the lancet have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil, the believer's heart is assured, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes. The believer can in the spirit of true resignation pray, "Send me what thou wilt, my God, so long as it comes from Thee; never came there an ill portion from Thy table to any of Thy children."

"Say not my soul, 'From whence can God relieve my care?
Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere.
His method is sublime, His heart profoundly kind,
God never is before His time, and never is behind.'"

We really appreciate the modern encouragement this 19th century clergyman often shares.

  You can subscribe to "Morning and Evening" too, by going here to sign up. 

Mennonite Quilt Auction August 13

Quilt collectors, enthusiasts and appraisers everywhere -- 

    There's an auction next week Sunday, August 13, you shouldn't miss.

Skinner Auctions will be selling a large grouping of Mennonite quilts from the collection of Tom and Adelle Hersh of Waterloo County, Ontario, during their Americana Auction.

Steeplechase, c.1910

According to the Skinner people: 

The Waterloo County Mennonite community traces its origin to Switzerland (probably Zurich or near Zurich). In 1727, two brothers, David and Peter Martin, migrated to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Apparently, during the War of 1812, the Mennonites and Amish were persecuted by American patriots for their pacifist ideas, and a group of Mennonites decided to move to Ontario, Canada, settling in Waterloo County, between St. Joseph’s and Waterloo City. Today the bonds between the two communities remain strong and many Mennonite families from Waterloo County regularly visit friends and relatives in Lancaster County.

(In case you're wondering, Mennonite quilts often follow the same basic guidelines as strict Amish quilts, but will include some printed fabrics on occasion. Think of it as slightly loosening the 'rules:' one of my colleagues is Mennonite by practice, but often wears snazzy tennis shoes with her Amish-plain dress and bonnet.)

Nearly 100 quilts will go up for auction. (More will be offered in upcoming auctions later on in the year.) Not only will this be interesting -- it will also set the tone (at least for a while) for values of quilts in this make and mode.

I'm guessing they'll do an online live version of the auction, so even if you aren't headed to Canada next weekend, you could still bid. Go here for more...and registration.

Log Cabin, c.1930. All photos courtesy of Skinner Auctions

Friday, August 4, 2017

Cats Get In On the Act...

In the interest of fairness, a look at cats & one of their favorite subjects: food. Enjoy.

Charles and Abby take this approach, too.

No doubt, after all this brouhaha, any cat reading this post would think:

And they'd probably be right.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Keep-ing the Castle

   From the Department of "They Wouldn't Really Do This... Would They?" 

 I watched an intriguing documentary last night: Crisis At the Castle. 

This three-part series, filmed in 2007, covered three different families who lived in English or Scottish castles or manors, and their accompanying financial troubles.

     I know. Feeling sorry for people with titles and big bucks? Bear in mind that when they have a leaky roof -- and this was a big issue for all three places -- we're talking millions of dollars to replace it. These places all looked wonderful, but all had serious building issues.  Their owners were trying everything from event-hosting to B&Bs and concerts, even selling land and collections off just to pay the bills.

One of the places was Kelburn Castle, from North Ayrshire, Scotland. It's owned by the Earl of Glasgow, along with his 30s-something son.
      The castle had kept its noble bones. But it was a mess, including a flaking concrete outer shell that was falling apart.

So why am I telling you all this?

Because this was the Earl and son's solution to the concrete problem:

Cover it with graffiti.

They offered four Brazilian artists the chance to paint whatever they wanted on the outside of the castle -- provided, I'm guessing, that they paid to fix up the outer shell first.

The Earl even got Historic Scotland to agree to it, by saying that this was only temporary -- and they would return the castle to its original look. After all, it's said to be the oldest castle to have a family in continuous residenceThe Earl's ancestors came to the country with William the Conqueror in 1066, and settled in Kelburn in 1140.  The oldest part, the Norman Keep (for defense), is thought to date from 1200.

And now it looks like a New York City apartment building. Or maybe our dumpster.

Although the Earl's son originated the Graffiti Project, the Earl says he likes it so much that he's asked Historic Scotland to keep the painted motifs permanently.

Or is he just saving $$? 

You can see Kelburn Castle for yourself; it's open to the public. Stay there, ride horses, take the kids to the Country Centre...even get married there, if you like. Take a look at their Facebook page, for possibilities.   Directions, history and more are here, including a bunch of links to other castles.

Only, if you decide to take advantage of their 'glamping' program and stay in a tent outside, be sure to pack a sleep mask.

That paint is pretty bright.

Photos 1, 3 and this one courtesy of Wikipedia

              "I was a bit apprehensive I suppose, but now I think it's rather lovely."

               --The Earl of Glasgow, quoted in The Future of Scotland?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Cutting Expenses When You Think You Can't, PART VI: Death And Taxes

We're all going to age and/or die. 

There -- I said it. 

No matter who you are, or how much you make, you must face the fact: Humans have a 100% mortality rate. Even if Sumner Redstone thinks he's going to live forever...he's not. (And probably shouldn't anyways, since age has just made him more creepy.) 

His case points out the importance of preparing ahead -- in other words, a will or trust. 

It may not seem that critical right now. You're young and full of beans, right? Wills are just for old people.

Well...they're not. 


Do you want to share your possessions with the government? Without a will (i.e., intestate), you can plan on them telling your family what to do. Plenty of celebrities have gone this route, including, recently, Prince -- and they've paid for it every single time in turmoil, family arguments and increased lawyer costs.
      Is that what you want? 

With a will, you can state exactly where you want your possessions -- and hopefully, insurance proceeds -- to go.

A will may be as easy as writing it yourself. Or hire an estate lawyer -- more expensive, but sticky problems may be avoided. This is particularly important if you have minor children. Who's going to take care of them, if you die suddenly? If you don't specify this, they could end up living with court-appointed guardians -- and people you don't want in their lives.
     Another possibility: set up an irrevocable trust -- an option recommended by many financial experts, including Suze Orman. Why is this preferable to a will? Because, according to Investopedia:

The benefit of this type of trust for estate assets is that it removes all incidents of ownership, effectively removing the trust's assets from the grantor's taxable estate. The grantor is also relieved of the tax liability on the income generated by the assets. While the tax rules vary between jurisdictions, in most cases, the grantor can't receive these benefits if he is the trustee of the trust. The assets held in the trust can include, but are not limited to, a business, investment assets, cash and life insurance policies.

     In other words, your money is there to live on now -- but after your death, passes to your heirs without the messiness of tax liabilities or having to settle the estate. You'll need a lawyer to set this one up, too -- but it might well be worth it.
     This is worth checking with your state -- what do they allow, and what don't they. It may be different...and may not. But you need to start asking these questions NOW.


An average cremation, based on People of Our Everyday Life's findings, starts around $1,000. The cost of an average funeral, on the other hand, hovers around $7000 -- probably more. Neither of those prices, by the way, includes a fancier casket, service -- or, in the case of the funeral, a burial plot. (Add $2000+ for the latter.) Just for fun, I checked my home state, Colorado's, cremation pricing. A 'bare bones' package from the Cremation Society: $1,195. Services, 'viewings,' etc. cost even more.

What's to be done?

*Donate your body to science. Not just the organs -- though those are valuable too, through the organ donor program -- but your entire body can help students and medical researchers learn their art more effectively. The National Body Donation group is one possibility; in Colorado, we also have the Anatomical Board. Your state will have some kind of program, too -- just do a search for 'donate your body to science.' (Here's a good spot to work through the process, as well.)
     Our Michigan uncle and aunt both did this, at no cost to their families. Eventually, their cremated remains were returned, so they could be respectfully interred, if desired.
    Warning: the paperwork has to be completed NOW. Be sure to talk with your family about your wishes, if you want to do this.
     I have.

*Sidestep the embalming process. Some states allow you to do this -- others don't. Check.

*Order a coffin yourself -- or make one. Did you know you can order a casket online -- and delivery could be free? Or build your own simple pine box -- one of our pastors was buried in one his family made. I still remember the simple, yet meaningful graveside ceremony for his funeral.
      Cremation urns don't have to be fancy, either. A simple box will do. (Rules also change for these from state to state, and from funeral parlor to funeral parlor. Be sure to check yours.) Scatter the ashes in your loved one's favorite spot, and you've saved the cost of a burial plot.

*Think about a simpler funeral.  No elaborate service, handouts or 'viewing' in a funeral parlor will cut your costs. (The church you attend may be a better place, instead.) Funeral flowers are notoriously expensive, not to mention gaudy -- deliver a simple bouquet yourself, or put the money spent into a memorial cause, instead.
     A growing trend: don't have a service at all. Or just a graveside ceremony for close family and friends. (By the way, obituaries are not generally free, anymore -- at least in our region, there's a cost to include them in print. Funeral homes, on the other hand, may provide them as part of the package. Another thing to check.)

*If you're a veteran, the gravesite, opening/closing and headstone may be free. Check with the Veterans Administration, or go here for more information. 

*Instead of spending money on funeral costs, consider using it toward a scholarship or special donation, instead. Many groups would be happy to help you set this up -- and it would serve as a reminder every year, instead of a one-time splash. Memorial plaques (on benches, near planted trees, etc.)  are also a respectful way to honor your loved one's memory.

*Think twice about prepaying for a package. Although this is touted as a budgetsaving way to control funeral costs, it doesn't always make sense. What if the funeral home closes...or arbitrarily raises prices? What if you move, remarry (in the case of a lost spouse), or something else happens? If you do decide on a package, read the fine print carefully -- including any refund clauses.

*What happens if someone you love dies -- and now you have to make the arrangements? Particularly if they died, owing money? You can use these same suggestions to save for their estate. Or, as Sally Herigstad points out, do nothing at all.  If no one claims the body, then the state or local government will step in. (And yes, you won't know what happens.)

You can see other installments on the 'Cutting Expenses' series, just by accessing Part I and scrolling to the bottom of the post. Choose what helps you most right now, and start there, if you like. Or go to the last one on the list, and work your way back.

Just a few more posts to go:  Income Hacks, Bits & Pieces-- and the Conclusion

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are...Hilarious

     Daughter #1 and I saw a performance of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, courtesy of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. This absurdist play (think Waiting for Godot) is based on the two knuckleheads who show up in Shakespeare's Hamlet. They're old friends of Hamlet's, and are instructed by the king (Hamlet's uncle) to accompany him to England...where a handy letter supplied by the king orders Hamlet's death. Fortunately (or unfortunately for R & G), Hamlet finds the letter, and changes it to specify the duo's death, instead. 
     The play is actually quite funny, if you assume that all of life is ridiculous, and act accordingly. Lots of charging around, smarty-pants remarks...and a beginning that focuses on something impossible: dozens and dozens of times the coin flip lands on heads! 
     To my great surprise (and pleasure), the characters in this play used exactly the same actors as in the real Hamlet, which we'd seen back in June in Boulder. I thought that performance ridiculous -- now the same shenanigans fit in PERFECTLY with the silliness of this play! Even Hamlet ('Hamletta?'), prancing about like a teenage drama queen, was a brilliant foil to the admittedly-foolish Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. 
     Unfortunately, half the audience, I'm guessing, didn't see the earlier Hamlet, so they wouldn't have caught some of the funniest ironies. Daughter #1 didn't...and she's pretty quick on the uptake. Even so, she loves the play. And she loved this performance of it. 
     The play ends with R&G realizing that the letter orders their deaths -- and delivering it, anyways. (Why not contrive to 'lose' it overboard, instead?) Strangely, you really don't care that much. They knew something was wrong, and chose not to act on that knowledge. Rosencrantz's final impassioned speech seems like an afterthought, more than anything. (I found myself thinking, "Serves them right." Bad girl.)
      It doesn't put Hamlet in a good light, either. These men are supposed to be her old friends. Yet she seems almost enthusiastic about their impending deaths, when the person she should be revenging herself on is the monarch who ordered the letter in the first place. 
     The final irony happened when the cast came out to take their bows. We've seen three Shakespeare plays at the festival this summer -- two (Taming of the Shrew, Julius Caesar) were 'okay,' and one (Hamlet) was just plain stupid. All three got enthusiastic standing ovations from the Boulder crowd.

     And this play? The best, by far, of all four we'd seen this season? 

     Daughter #1 and I were getting ready to stand up, when the clapping suddenly stopped and the cast filed off. The only person who stood up that we could see was a lady in front of us. 
     Serves us right for being slow. The cast deserved a standing ovation -- they were wonderful.

That brings up yet another question. Was the 'serious' performance of Hamlet that we saw actually meant to be ridiculous -- on purpose?

 If so, they were making fun of a play I, and many others, hold dear to my heart. Frankly, with Boulder's habit of sneering at convention, I wouldn't put it past them.

     Makes you wonder. 

Mousey update:  We're doing better. The traps inside haven't had anything for nearly a week -- a blessing to the Brick, especially, who is particularly occupied with our furry friends right now. (He spent some hours sweeping out the garage, as well as under the kitchen sink, frustrated every time he found evidence of Their Existence.)
      I'm just glad they seem to be decreasing. 

John Elwes: the celebrated miser who complained about birds stealing his hay to building their nests. Possibly the inspiration for Charles Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge.

Jumbo diaper packs from Target -- for less than $4??  Moneysaving Mom shows you how.

Ten REALLY well-preserved shipwrecks.  (From Listverse)

Butter pecan pancakes. Oh my.  (From Crazy for Crust)

Celebrities -- 77 of them -- who lost their homes (and other stuff) to financial problems. Nicolas Cage begins the lineup... poor guy. He should have known better.  (From Loanpride)

Letters from parents left back in Ireland after the Great Famine -- to their son, who emigrated to America. Sad and moving.  (From Irish Central)

Five 'lost' paintings -- found under other paintings. 

LOVE this tiny saltbox house!  (From Tiny House Design)

A garage becomes a light-filled studio.  (From Dwell)

From $30,000 to $200,000 -- how he did it.  (From Penny And Rich)

Solomon's Stables: history and deconstruction. Did you know that a mosque was built on the stables' footprint?  (From the Temple Mount Sifting Project)

"Jeweled patterns with atmosphere:" a painting tutorial inspired by medieval designs. (From Painting

Thirty-three facts about famous landmarks.  (From Mental Floss)

Thirteen Disney Park secrets:

Drinking from the hose, eating from the dirt.  A word poem to summer from Donna Freedman at Surviving and Thriving.

"How I trick my chickens into growing my garden."  (From My Pet Chicken Blog)

A very cool upcycled denim crazy-quilted chair. (Vicki Meyers Creations, via Funky Junk Interiors)

Seven smart ways to invest in Old Master paintings.  (From Artnet)

Gentle Readers, you visited this blog more than 6,000 times in July! Thank you so much.

Stay cool, and have a great week.

Getting Through Life (And This Week)

In a few days, it will be better. Really.