Thursday, March 31, 2022

Budgeting: food, again.

Things tend to domino, don't they?  You get home from work, and just...want to collapse.  You don't want to think about anything.'re hungry, maybe you've got kids and they're hungry, and...fuck it, let's get burgers (at $6+ per person, if you're lucky), or Mexican, or a pizza...

And suddenly, the weekly food budget...yeah.

You get the idea.  

So.  What do you do?  

Plan ahead.  Sit down when you're not wiped out, and plan out a few days' worth of meals--at least the main dish.  Set up themes, if you want.  

I don't work outside the home anymore.  I don't have the ability to, what with a few autoimmune issues taking turns wiping me out at random, unpredictable intervals.  My current, full-time job is as a mom and a home economist.  

One of our biggest budget busters for a long time  I'd shop, and I'd impulse buy, and the food would...not get stored properly or eaten in time.  Because I'd not planned for it.  I had never, in my life, even considered planning menus.

FlyLady actually got me started on that.  Yes, the housecleaning/decluttering/organization guru.  

(It's easier if you get started with shining your sink and doing your dishes...because a clean kitchen--or at least, clean enough--is easier to work in.)

I started sitting down on Saturdays to plan.  And I started with a couple of days of meals, then a week...and then it stretched out.  I started shopping with a list, and sticking to it (made much easier when I got to know the store(s) and ordered the list so that I was going in a straight line, picking up what I needed instead of having to hunt, wander, and go "oh, that looks good!").   

It took a while, but I've gotten things shaken down pretty well, now.  And what I spend in Walmart and Sam's Club has fallen drastically (and could probably be reduced a little further).  Between menu planning, keeping track of my pantry inventory, and (since the covidiocy started) doing curbside pickup, I've trimmed the grocery budget down from a couple hundred dollars a week to about four hundred or so a month.  

Yes, part of that is because I live in Southwest Missouri, and my costs are lower than most other places; however, the rest of it is because I'm not buying stuff we don't need, it's not going to waste...and we're not grabbing fast food or whatever because I don't have anything planned.  

So.  What does my menu look like?  

A standard week: I plan Sunday suppers to feed my other half lunch for the rest of the week at work--chili or tacos is really common for three seasons.  Monday, we do burgers and fries (sometimes Johnsonville Bratwurst patties, sometimes ground beef)--and during the summer, all burgers are done on the grill and we do chips or fries in the toaster oven, so we're not running the AC so hard.  Tuesdays are pasta: sometimes, it's homemade spaghetti; sometimes, I'll do pasta alfredo; sometimes I take last week's leftover spaghetti sauce, and make pasta bake; sometimes it's just a sandwich and macaroni.  Wednesday is classic, American family fare, and varies by the meat I pick: for example, last night, I did baked roundsteak, mashed potatoes, garlic butter asparagus, and rolls (for three of the people in the household).  Thursday's usually Mexican or Greek flavored--varied by meat (beef, pork, or chicken)--Friday's pizza (take-and-bake) and movie night, Saturday's leftovers from earlier in the week, a potato & smoked sausage foil packet, or a Zatarain's rice box (Jambalaya with cheese, or dirty rice).  

I usually use my planner for this, and then copy it to a dry erase calendar on the fridge.  What ends up written on the calendar is usually just one word: burgers, pasta, meat source, meat source, pizza, rice/potatoes/leftovers, chili/tacos.  

But I have the plan in place.  And if something I had planned doesn't seem like it's going to work out ("that doesn't sound good" or "I can't be on my feet long enough to make what I had planned" or "who the fuck ate the [ingredient] and didn't tell me it was gone so I could get more?"), I can still use the basic idea and just...adapt.  

As my health improves, I can do more with less prepared food bases (as in: starting with flour or cornmeal or uncooked rice, rather than using a mix), which costs a lot less.  I have mixes and easy convenience things on hand (both of which cost more money, but cost less in my personal energy budget) for when my health doesn't permit me to do a lot.  

Planning meals is one of the biggest things I've learned to do to help keep our spending down.  We do still eat out, once in a while, but it's mostly for celebration of birthdays and such.  And with spending less here, we can put that money in other places where it's needed.  Or even have a little slack for fun stuff. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Budgeting: debt

Nothing fucks you over like debt.  Nothing.  Because you're not just paying back what you borrowed, you're paying that back plus interest.  

And interest rates...have to go up.  They must.  Because the federal government in all of its infinite wisdom turned on the fucking printing press, and put too many dollars out there to chase the same amount of goods there's always been.  Raising the interest rates removes some of those dollars from circulation, but...unless they really jack the rates up (hint: they might have to, even if they don't want to), prices won't go back down.  

So.  Debt.  Most Americans owe multiple types of debt: consumer debt (credit cards, cars, store credit, gambling), medical debt (insurance helps, but a vast majority of people don't have enough savings to cover deductibles and out-of-pocket costs), student debt, mortgage debt.  

The mortgage debt is the only really acceptable debt to be carrying.  The right kind of mortgage is fixed rate, and costs no more than a quarter of your monthly take-home pay.  Total.  Thirty years is okay, fifteen's better.  

Everything else...doesn't just add up, but multiplies.  It builds.  

Pay that shit off before you do any fun stuff.  You will not be able to afford to keep carrying it as the economy keeps getting ratfucked by politicians that have no concept of consequences.  

I do not have any debt.  I managed to get through college and grad school without accruing any student debt whatsoever,* and only carried a small credit card for a little while.  We owed on a car for a little while.  I do have experience with debt.  

What my experience taught me is that I don't like debt.  I don't like owing money, and paying back more than I borrowed in the first place.  In fact, I hated it.  I hated how it shrunk the cash available to use on other things I needed--not wanted, needed.  

And I don't think our consumer and/or medical debt ever exceeded about ten grand.  

The average American owes around twenty or thirty grand, spread mostly between student debt, car loans, and credit cards.  

Median income is only about forty grand per household, in this area.  

I used to listen to a lot of talk radio, back when I worked on campus--AM talk radio, not NPR.  It helped keep me sane in lefty-land, knowing that I was not alone in seeing that the emperor was naked.  And this was when we still had a little bit of debt--a grand or two left on a 10K car loan, and a couple hundred on one credit card, and a hair more on another.  And I hadn't changed the station after Rush Limbaugh's show went off, and...Dave Ramsey came on.  

I sat and listened for two hours, until the next show came on.  

It was a revelation.  I already knew how to budget, but I had not even considered what life would look like without payments.  

And I sat down and thought about it.  We had a house that we'd just bought, and our mortgage payment was a bit less than what we'd paid in rent, and having a little extra was...nice.  I looked at my budget, and considered what I'd have to plan with if we paid off that little bit of debt we still owed.  

Ramsey's plan is stupidly simple: pay it off.  Pay it all off.  

He lays out baby steps on how to tackle the utter mountain that most people have in front of them--starting with saving a basic emergency fund of a thousand dollars in the bank that is not touched for any reason other than a true emergency: your washing machine or dryer abruptly die, your transmission goes out and needs rebuilt, you have to go to the emergency room for something (even with insurance, those cost).  Then, look at your debts, and lay them out.  Which one's the smallest?  Don't look at the interest rates, or the minimum monthly payments, yet, just the individual debts.  Which one of these things has the smallest number of digits to the left of the decimal?  Which one's next?  And so on, until you've got the list arranged from smallest to largest.  The next step is that you pay the absolute minimum payment on all of the debts...except that smallest one.  You pay extra on that until you've paid it off.  Then roll that into paying off the next one.  

You don't get to eat out, or do fun stuff that costs money, or anything like that while you've got debt--you just pay it off.  Ramsey says that once it's paid off, you will feel like you'd lost a ton of pressure and dead weight off your back.  Like you can breathe again.

He's right.  

I am not kidding.  

My household does not have any debt.  We do have a credit card--one, singular, solitary.  Not multiple ones.  We pay it off every month.  

Dave Ramsey advocates that people never, ever have a credit card--however, he and a lot of his listeners/fans have been addicted to their credit cards as much as any alcoholic is their tipple.  They cannot have just one, because it snowballs.  

We've never been addicted to credit cards.  I do not advocate even "just one that we pay off every month" for anyone who has been addicted to consumer credit.  At all.  

However, for us, it has been an invaluable tool: our bank limits our debit card purchases to $500/day unless we call to make special arrangements.  I don't have an issue with this--it protects us from having someone steal our card/number and cleaning us out.  However, sometimes...making a larger purchase is a little harder than I'd like for it to be, because fewer places are taking even local checks.  

I managed to get through college, then grad school without borrowing money--and we paid cash for a second, accounting degree, for my other half.  We could not have done the latter without having been debt free. 

We have no payments where we're paying interest.  None.  We own our cars and our house outright. There's no car payment, no house payment.  

That money goes into savings.  We save up for things.  We saved for several years to put a new roof on the house--if we'd had payments on, say, a car or student loans, we could not have put the new roof on the house, year before last.  There's a couple of other repairs (nowhere near as major) that we're working on saving for.  We'd be a lot farther away from being able to do them if we owed money on credit cards, cars, or student debt. 

We would not be able to keep the kids in the school they go to, if we were paying interest because we had debt.  

Debt is bad, m'kay?  Get rid of it.  

If you don't make a real effort now, it's going to be a lot harder, later.  

*I managed to get my undergraduate degree paid for by a full Pell grant and Vocational Rehabilitation.  I got a graduate teaching assistant position that paid for my grad school tuition and a grant that paid my fees.  Without those...neither of my degrees would have been able to pay for themselves, and I'd have been screwed.  And a lot of people in college don't have any more of a chance of their degree paying for itself because they've been actively lied to all their lives, that "any degree will boost your income."

Sunday, March 27, 2022


One of the not-nonsense bits of advice that the otherwise blithering idiot gave in the article about how to manage inflation was starting to budget.  

Granted, said lettered twatwaffle gave absolutely no advice on "how to," so I thought I would.  

Building a budget is simple.  

You start with your monthly income.  Your budget HAS to fit into that.  It's not a "would be nice if," it's a must.  You are not the federal government.  You are not your state's government.*  You are not your county's government.  Nor yet your city's.  YOUR budget MUST work.  

Next, pull together everything that must come out of your budget: your housing costs, your utilities (electricity, gas/propane, water/sewer/trash), your communications (phone service and/or cell phones, internet).  Those go at the top.  Those are the "must cover."  Next comes food.  I'll have a paragraph or ten covering that a little later.  After food comes debts--and if you have any, you're going to have to work hard to dump those as fast as possible.  TRUST me.  Then, and only then, comes extras: entertainment, fun stuff, stuff you don't need but do want.  

Note that I didn't mention retirement--a lot of people with full-time jobs have their options of investing in a retirement account to come out before they ever see that paycheck.  That is a good idea, but if you have debt, that's going to need to wait.  So will saving for your kids' follow-up education.  Those are nice, but right now, our economy is pushing "niceties" off to the point of potential impossibilities.  If the wheels don't come entirely off, you might be able to catch up after we dump the dead weight on the economy.  

Why did I put housing, utilities, and communications first?  You need shelter.  Which includes cover (housing), warmth, and water (both in utilities).  You need communications in case of emergency and for your ability to keep bringing in your income (a lot of modern jobs require both a means to contact you and a secure, fast internet connection, given the rise of the work-from-home jobs). an absolute.  I don't need to tell most of you that.  However, a lot of people are wasting a lot of money within their food budget: some of y'all eat out.  That's stupid, right there.  You have a kitchen--equip it (with second-hand pots and pans, if you must), and use it.  

Those who do cook still tend to waste a lot of money--through buying nothing but brand name ingredients, buying (and forgetting) a lot of fresh produce, not using menu-planning, using bad shopping habits...all sorts of issues.  

I don't skimp on name brands where there's a qualitative difference.  I get Veg-All when I make pot-pie filling.  I get Rotel rather than off-brand diced tomatoes and chilis.  Those are non-negotiable, because the qualitative differences make up for the difference in cost.  That said.  There's little to no qualitative difference between brand name and store brand dried pastas, and the store brands in other canned veggies are often higher quality than some of the name brands: more veggies, less water.  Same with frozen veggies.  I like Walmart's brand of deli sliced meats and cheeses better than I like a lot of the name brands.  And we recently found out that Walmart's brand of refried beans beat Old El Paso's refried black beans (my previous preference) flat where taste is concerned...for less than half the cost. 

I do cook with a lot of meat, but I also cook with planned leftovers a few times a week--leftovers from chili feed my other half lunch at work for several days to a week; same with leftovers from tacos (either as tacos, or as taco casserole), pasta bake, or beef or pork roast (sandwiches, anyone?).  

Whole roasting chickens are cheaper than boneless, skinless chicken breast; leg quarters are cheaper still by unit cost (and tastier than chicken breast, with a higher vitamin/mineral load). 

Least processed ingredients are often cheaper than more processed: I can make biscuits from scratch a lot cheaper than I can buy canned biscuits, or already-made frozen ones.  I can make a whole lot of other things from that bag of flour, too--cookies, cakes, muffins, gravy...the list goes on.  A bag of cornmeal's a good thing to keep on hand, just like flour is. A bag of cornmeal costs about the same as four good cornbread mixes, and makes a hell of a lot more cornbread.

Eggs are going up, but they're still one of the cheapest sources of animal proteins out there.  Best price, if you can store them, is to buy the boxes of five dozen eggs rather than go a dozen at a time.  You'll use them.  Trust me--once you start cooking at home, you'll use more eggs than you ever thought you would.  

Dried beans are cheaper than canned ones, and you can make them taste pretty decent with the application of spices and bouillon.  All it takes is planning.  But do plan to also serve rice or cornbread with the beans--they don't contain complete proteins.  

And you are going to need to start buying a little extra, here and there.  Build up a pantry so that you can cook, and that you don't have to shop for everything all the time.  Canned and dry goods are awesome for building a pantry, especially if you don't have/don't have room for a freezer.  

I feed my family of four fairly cheaply, buying as little processed as possible, planning, and cooking from scratch.  Your location's going to influence your specific food budget--my location's in the middle  of farm country.  

I'll be talking specifics on paying off debt--and making recommendations--in another post.  But it's as important as keeping a tight reign on your food budget.  Interest rates have nowhere to go but up, at this point; so, too, will your debt payments.  Pay them off.  

Your fun-budget is going to be shrinking.  Let it.  Your needs come before your wants, and there's lots of fun stuff to do that don't cost, or don't cost much.  

Shelter (housing and utilities), communications (the ability to keep the income coming), and food are going to have to be your main worries.  Needs before wants.  Always.  

Building a budget is fairly easy.  It's the sticking to it that's hard.  

*The various levels of government--almost all of them--are flat fucking broke because they don't keep their outgo below their income...which they steal from us without providing even the bare minimum of services promised. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Oh, how precious. Bless her heart.

Some condescending twatwaffle with an advanced degree in economics (big surprise there) has made the observation that inflation hits incomes less than hers a lot harder than it hits hers.  Some of her recommendations do make a lot of sense, but the tone she  And the assumptions.  

And then again, some of her assumptions and recommendations are fucking wrong.  

First off: her claim that inflation hits lower income families harder.  She starts this with household incomes of $298K.  Almost every household in Missouri makes a lot less than that.  Hell, households in our area in the middle class make what she pegs as the top of the poors: $50-60K.  

(Paraphrasing here) Ohmyghod! I have to spend a full percent of my income on gas and oil changes!  How do you poors deal, having to spend a whole 3%, and that's for the rich poors--the rest have to spend up to 9%!  Maybe you should...I dunno, drive less?  I know!  Take public transport!  It costs less than taking your own car!  Oh, wait...not all of those moronic poors live in an area where they can, and they'd whine at me.  I'll just...mention if you live in the city, you could sell your car.  

Okay.  Addressing this mess.  First of all.  She uses "median income" for the top of the poors...but her tone implies she truly sees them as top of the bottom.  And she's in the clouds.  

Second...Where the fuck is her head?  It's just that we're paying such a huge chunk of our income for movement that's pissed all of us off.  It's watching inflation rise, when a lot of people don't understand how and why it's hit, but they know damn well who to blame.  Gas has almost doubled in price since they installed the current illegitimate regime.  And we all know who did that.  And we all know why our gas prices have gone up--the fuckup in chief turned us from an energy independent nation to...this.  Because reasons, you fucking peasants!'s not just our travel and maintenance costs we're worried about.  And she should be a lot more worried, since she's supposed to understand how the economy works.  Diesel has gone up farther and faster than unleaded gasoline.  

I am worried, but I live in the middle of farm country.  There will be things it's harder to get my hands on, but I also know where to go for meat, milk, eggs, and other, similar goods.  And (unlike her ilk) I know how to take flour and turn it into food.  

Speaking of which...she's also mentioned food passing.  And by gum, those poors are going to be facing spending up to 15% of our income on food!  And then...then she starts talking some sense, but interspersed with utter bullshit.  She points out that a lot of people will eat out a lot less (true), and that learning how to build a budget will help people a lot (also true, but nowhere does she recommend any resources for people to learn to budget).  

And then...then, there's this.  

When it comes to food, don’t be afraid to explore. Prices for animal-based food products will certainly increase.  Ukraine and Russia supply a significant amount of corn and barley to the world market, mainly to feed livestock for human food. Meat prices have increased about 14% from February 2021 and will go up even more. Though your palate may not be used to it, tasty meat substitutes include vegetables (where prices are up a little over 4%, or lentils and beans, which are up about 9%). Plan to cut out the middle creature and consume plants directly. It's a more efficient, healthier and cheaper way to get calories.

And stay away from buying in bulk — you usually don’t save any money by buying more. Sure, there may be great deals, but most consumers wind up falling for the tricks that entice them to spend more — things like offering free samples, which often leads to impulse buying, or placing discounted big-ticket items near the entrance. If you absolutely must buy in bulk, try to do it with a friend, so you can split some of the costs and ensure everything gets eaten or used.

 I'm...just going to go point by point.  

First.  "Prices for animal-based food products will certainly increase."  Um, I hate to tell you this, bitch, they already have.  "Ukraine and Russia supply a significant amount of corn and barley to the world market..."  Idiot, they don't supply near the amount of grains to feed critters that The United States does.  And what's more, we don't buy any of it to feed our food--we produce enough.  The belligerents over in Europe are feeding...Europe.  And China.  

Second.  You cannot stay healthy if you "cut out the middle creature and consume plants directly."  There are amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that you do not, and cannot get from plants.  Stuff that your brain relies on for proper function...

Oh.  I see.  She's vegetarian/vegan.  That makes so much sense.  

"...stay away from buying in bulk--you usually don't save any money by buying more."  

She must not be married.  Or have kids.  Or be able to do basic calculations regarding fucking unit costs.  Maybe some things you don't save more, but there are a lot of things we buy in bulk where we see a significant savings over time.  

And yes, that does include meat, thanks--I know how to fucking use a fucking freezer.  The only place where she's right (and that's only sort of) is where fresh produce is concerned.  It's why I don't get fresh produce from Sam's Club (unless it freezes well, like mushrooms, or we'll eat it daily, like apples).  

Some of this twit's advice is so far off base that I don't think she gets us "poors."  At all.  Ahem:

If you’re one of the many Americans who became a new pet owner during the pandemic, you might want to rethink those costly pet medical needs. It may sound harsh, but researchers actually don’t recommend pet chemotherapy — which can cost up to $10,000 — for ethical reasons.

I will admit that I have some similar blinders: I did not know there were people who did chemo for their pets until fairly recently.   In my neck of the woods, when a pet gets hit with the big C, our debate is whether to take the pet to the vet when their quality of life falls too far, or...take them down into the pasture and do it ourselves.  

The rest of her advice...she advises to not buy things we need (furniture, etc.), and to just "learn to make do." 

Weird, weird advice.  It's like she doesn't realize that we poors have known how to bargain shop, second-hand shop, and make do for a long, long time.  

Huh.  Maybe she's just scared that it'll get bad enough to affect her.  And is whistling in the dark.  

It's really her and her ilk that won't have any idea what to do.  The rest of us?  Yeah, we know how to do this shit.  We're not scared--we're fucking pissed.  

Edited to add: 

Monday, March 21, 2022

Canned spinach

Spinach is awesome.  It's delicious, and has a lot of vitamins and minerals the body needs.  I love the stuff fresh, frozen, raw, cooked...

Canned spinach, on the other hand...*shudder.*  It's...limp, slimy, the flavor's weird as hell, and just ugh.  

I need more of it.  And feta.  Because damn if I didn't just come up with something really freakin' tasty.

Background: I love spanikopita.  I can't have it anymore, but I absolutely love the stuff.  It's literally my favorite way to eat spinach.  I doubt I could make phylo dough with gluten free flour and have it...ya  So.  

No more spanikopita for me.  

I had two cans of spinach in the pantry.  See, I love canned mustard greens.  And I had that in my Walmart cart for curbside pickup, and they ran out (I asked for four cans, they had two), and subbed in canned spinach, instead.  It's all green, right?  Right?  

One thing spinach has going for it is relatively high levels of iron.  Lots of different nutrients--it's actually really nutrient-dense, even in canned form.

Even if it's really gross.  

My mom used to do something with canned spinach and scrambled eggs that I loved when I was a little girl, and was never able to replicate properly.  Still haven't been able to, but I approximated, and potentially improved on, it today.  

Take your can of spinach and drain it.  Drain it more than that.  Okay, now dump it out of the can into a really fine-mesh sieve or colander, and squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can.  Dump it into a hot skillet with a little bit of olive oil, and let it start warming up.  Hit it a couple of times with Cavendar's Greek seasoning blend while it's warming.  

While that's going on, crack a couple of eggs in a measuring cup and add a splash of whole milk.  Whip it together like you'd do for scrambled eggs, and then pour it into the spinach.  Start mixing all of it together.  Add about a quarter cup of crumbled feta cheese to the skillet, and really start working the stuff together.  When the eggs are set and cooked, taste it.  Add a little more salt or Greek seasoning if needed (some brands of canned spinach use less salt than others).  

I added a little bit of balsamic vinegar to my bowl just before I dug into it.  

I think Mom may have used more eggs, but I'm really not sure.  This honestly would have done well as a pie, or folded into puff pastry, but...yeah.  Wheat allergy.  

I'm not sure what you'd call this, but, recipe's below:

 [Recipe name goes here]

  • 1 can of spinach (WELL drained--almost dry, if you can manage it)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp of milk, more or less
  • 1/4 c feta cheese 

1. Spray a skillet with olive oil cooking spray, start heating it.  2. Squash all the canning liquid out of the spinach that you can, then dump it into the skillet and break it apart to start it warming.  Season.  3. Mix two eggs with a little milk like for scrambled eggs.  4. Scramble the eggs and spinach together.  5. Add feta cheese, mix well into scrambled eggs and spinach.  

Serve hot, with balsamic vinegar, if you want, or without if you don't.  

Takes about five or ten minutes to prep and cook.  Might serve two, might not.  Depending on how much you like it and how hungry you are.   

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Finishing up

I am way too stressed to even think about writing (which would, ironically enough, probably lower my stress levels...go figure), so I'm working on a few different craft-type projects this week.  Most of them finishing things I'd started, some of them planning the next project.  

My sister's in a different hospital, getting different care.  So far, it's been better, but I don't know more than that--she forgot her phone charger, and the one I tried to arrange for her (hospital's an hour and a half from me)...didn't fit her phone.  

So I'm working on projects when and as I can, trying to distract myself (yes, I need to clean up after myself--including sweeping--since I've left fabric and batting fragments where the cats can get their paws on them for play-time).  

Last week, I made two potholders (all the ones I'd had were in really sad shape), and an apron.  Designed and made the apron.  Here: 

I'm actually...not terribly disappointed by the apron.  I had a cute little half apron made from the seat of a pair of jeans, a strip of fabric as a belt around the waist, and eyelet lace trim around the outer edges.  I'd use it more often, but my tits catch a lot of mess when I'm cooking, and I need an apron that covers much as possible, at least.  (WHY won't they shrink as I lose weight???)  So, I had...three or four pair of worn-out jeans, and a couple of worn-out flannel shirts.  I decided to try making a version I'd be happier with.  I started with the worst worn on both flannel fabric, and jeans-butt. 

It's not perfect, but I think I can fix the things about it I'm less than happy with, and I learned a lot for the next project.  I have one more shirt, and two more seats. 

I'll definitely know better than to use single-fold bias tape, too.  I'm...not THAT good at sewing, and I wound up having to go back over several places where I missed catching the outer edge on the wrong side of the project.  

This week, I'm planning to finish the quilt I'd started for my own amusement that was promptly claimed by my imp because he liked the colors.  I finished the quilt top a couple of weeks ago, when my sister went into the hospital the first time, and I was waiting on news on tests ordered by a gastric specialist...that turned out to be a dick.  

The quilt top is twin-sized.  The plaid is from an old sheet that I'd cut part out of to make another apron from, a month or so ago (still needs finished--I need to scotch-guard it for my other half).  The navy blue is from a shirt Odysseus had ripped at the elbow, and the green and burgundy are from dollar-each fat quarters from Walmart.  The border's made of muslin, also sourced from Walmart.  There's a twin-sized tan cotton sheet as the bottom layer, and a twin-sized piece of cotton batting in the sandwich.  

I need the kids' help to pin the sandwich together, this afternoon.  And then I will need their help getting it situated so that I can start sewing the sandwich together.  

Yes, I am planning another quilt.  I had a lot of fun putting this one together.  It may be one for the pixie, or it might be one for me.  I haven't decided yet.  

One of the things I'd decided I needed was more bobbins.  And at least one more bobbin shuttle.  My sewing machine had two shuttles with it, and five bobbins.  One of the bobbins...won't work with the bobbin winder.  The poor little thing is about an eighth of an inch too short.  Which left me with four bobbins.  

So, I ordered from Amazon, and got another shuttle and five bobbins.  And all five are the right length.  I've checked all of them against the bobbin winder, and just used one of the new bobbins (loaded with upholstery thread) and the new shuttle (to test to make sure it actually works with my 124 year old Singer...and it does) to mend the flap of my messenger bag/purse.  The zipper'd turned loose of the fabric a while back, and I now have that sewn back down.  Was a massive pain maneuvering the purse, but it's done.  And I'm pretty happy with it.  

Now for the projects on the planning board:

Last weekend, Odysseus took the imp to Walmart, and found...the perfect flannel for a pair of pajama pants for the kid.  Bright, hunter's safety orange.  Got three yards (I need just over two, so there will be extra flannel left over for other projects...).  Got thread to go with it, too.  The imp wants those pants like four weeks ago, but has graciously agreed that it would be better to finish his quilt, first.  I'm going to make the kid help me with his pants--he's going to help me trim the extra fabric off the end of the folded up piece waiting with my sewing machine, and he's going to help me pin the pattern pieces to the fabric (no, I won't be letting him cut).  

I had a friend ask me if I was still knitting, along with the sewing.  Yes.  Yes, I am.  I've got two projects on needles right now--a purple scarf in moss stitch, and a shrug in bright turquoise.  I can carry the shrug project around, at the moment, but the getting kind of big for that.  

As for projects in planning stages...I've got a lot of yarn to use up, too: enough in burgundy wool blended with acrylic for a sweater for me, and enough in a sort of light gray for a sweater for Odysseus.  I've got enough in various other colors for smaller projects like ear-warmer headbands or wrist-and-hand warmers (not gloves--I refuse to try to knit fingers with worsted weight yarn). 

I have a ton of partial skeins of yarn in acrylic yarns that I'm planning on doing stripe-afghans with.  The kids actually really like bundling up in afghans on the couch when they're cold, and they keep swiping the ones I try to make for my library.  I figured if I make enough for them in the family room, they might leave mine alone. 


No guarantees. 

Thursday, March 10, 2022

SON of a...

So.  Last week, my sister was hospitalized.  She is unable to keep down anything.  Not even enough water to survive long term on.  Has been having this issue since Christmas.  They ran tests from the time she got there Wednesday until the weekend, when the weekend attending physician (different from the one admitting her...and from India..and I will discuss this further, later in the post)...decided to discharge her.  Saturday.  No, Sunday.  No, we'll keep her overnight and send her home on Monday.  

On Monday, the attending doctor that admitted her last week came back in, and said, no, they're not sending her home.  Because she'll die (duh).  He wanted to keep her in, and keep working on figuring out what's going on.  Yesterday, they did a gastric emptying scan, testing for gastroparesis.  I don't know what the results are.  I'm not sure they were explained to my sister or mother today.  

And yesterday's attending is not there today.  The shit doctor from the weekend is there, again, today, and is sending her home.  Today.  Right fucking now, if sooner isn't possible.  

I'm trying to get his name.  At the very least, I will be filing a complaint against him with the hospital.  

She still isn't able to eat or drink without it coming back on her.  

Back to the whole "doctor from India" issue...I have seen many doctors from many parts of the world.  Almost without exception,* the ones from India and the ones from the Middle East have not given a damn about female patients' health.  

Differing cultures.  Differing values.  Differing civilizations' values.  

In the past, I had a specialist whose medical training was in Damascus.  He didn't listen, talked over me, ignored my symptoms, and...I fired the bastard.  I took my chances with my (then-good, American trained, GP).  A year later, she referred me back to the specialists...and asshole Syrian doctor was gone.  Despite there being only a few trained endocrinologists in a two hour radius, he wasn't able to get people to consent to having him as their doctor.  No patients?  He left...or was fired by the hospital system that employed him. 

My current doctor is from India.  And is not aware of a lot of background on most of my physical issues.  Nor does she really listen, or consider how medication she'd like to prescribe is likely to interact with things I'm already taking...or with my other medical issues.  

Those are the two most recent examples.  There were a lot more stretching through my childhood and adolescence.    

And then, there's my sister's experience.  The one from the weekend--and today.  Asshole is sending her home.  She cannot keep food or water down--the only thing keeping her hydrated is her IV.  He...doesn't give a shit.  I am trying to get his name before she's discharged.  I want to leave a comment on the hospital's Facebook page, and on their website, like right fucking now, complete with the words "medical malpractice."  I want to find out how to file a complaint against him with the state medical board.  I want him to know, today, that he will not go unnoticed in his actions.  That there are consequences for this. 

I also want the name of the doctor that took care of her during the week.  He needs credit for being a fucking human being, and a doctor.  

Because this other guy?  I don't care what his academic credentials are, or what letters he has after his name, he isn't a doctor.  You can't violate the Hippocratic Oath and still be considered a doctor.  Not really. 

Sending home a patient who's been vomiting everything she eats or drinks for over a month?  That is...doing harm.  And not passively, either. 

*My mom swears that she's known a few, but I honestly cannot remember them, even with her prompting me.  And her memory is worse than mine, so she may be wrong

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Home stretch...

I've been doing a little bit of sewing on most days.  I didn't yesterday because of getting too close to the wall, but most days...well, I've finished one pair of pajama pants, I'm still waiting on my other half to try his on so I can finish them (lacking the waistband elastic, at this point), and I've got most of a twin sized quilt mostly pieced together (just a block quilt--I've got all the 6" blocks sewn into 9-block blocks, and those sewn into the long strips, and one long seam sewn, with three to go).  I'm going to need to make a border, but I need to finish the top, then lay it out and cut the border pieces to fit.  I'm happy enough with it--it's a good first quilt for me (not perfect, but "perfect" is the enemy of "good" and of "functional")--and my son has already claimed it.  

And my brain is starting to come back online.  I have been...below optimal thyroid dose...for a while.  Probably since before the appointment in October, just not as bad, since it takes a while for the body to clear out/use up T4.  My doc boosted it last week, but it'll take a while before the fog finishes lifting.  So I haven't managed any writing, really, at all.  

Still can't think well enough to write, either.  Not even editing.  I've got ideas, I just...can't get them out.  

Give me a few more weeks for the thyroid increase to improve things, and I'll be fine.  

In the meantime, I'll do what I can, as I can.  Right now, that seems to be cleaning, cooking, and making things.