Sunday, May 9, 2010

Am I my mother?

Rock StarImage by Andrea Hughes via Flickr
Sometimes when I catch myself in the mirror, I feel like I'm looking at my mom.

She's been gone nine years now. We had a long distance relationship for all of my adult life. I had a six month old baby whom she had yet to meet when she died unexpectedly.

We had turned that odd parent/child corner where I worried more about her than she did about me. She was a breast cancer survivor. The treatment had left her with diabetes. She still drank. We don't know why she died. Could have been the alcohol, could have been allergies to mold in her condo.

Mom was the most successful practioner of denial I ever met. She lived beyond her means. She never had a real job, though she dabbled in a few pyramid schemes. Her career was as an army wife. She was good at it, too. When it ended in divorce afer 30 years she couldn't or wouldn't submit to the structure of a regular job. She was an artist, and a free spirit. She couldn't pay her taxes on time, so she didn't. She figured something would happen to make it all right. And as often as not, something or someone would rescue her.

So how did straight-A, rule-following, structured me turn into somebody with a $20K overdue tax bill?

The apple falls not far from the tree?

Except I know that I'm the only one piloting the rescue chopper in my life.

Miss you mom. Wish you could see how much your grandchildren are like you. Prissy wants to be an artist. Paul is learning to play the guitar. They both love to sing as you did.

Hope you are happy. I'm working on it.

Would that we could take the best parts of our parents and leave the rest.

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Middle school clubs are such a deal

Mardi Gras WorldImage by ekai via Flickr
I don't know why it is that middle schoolers, at least the kids at Prissy's school, have such a great choice of afterschool clubs that cost, well, nothing. All the activities for younger kids--drama, soccer, music--are really expensiver around here.

But Prissy participates in the engineering club, the knitting club, the photography club, and the drama club every day for an hour or so after school, at no charge to us.

And, on days when there are no clubs scheduled, she can safely hang out at the youth center, conveniently located in  her school building. The cost of that is just $40 a year.

Maybe this is a slight compensation for the fact that childcare for kids over 13 is not tax deductible.

I know the school gets a private grant to pay advisors for the clubs.

As an example of what a great deal we are getting, Prissy was in a play last night. The last play she was in cost $150 to participate, plus "optional expenses" like the gala tickets, performance tickets, basic costume wardrobe, the DVD of the performance, etc. etc. etc. While we got a grant for half the participation cost, the extras add up big time.

But last night's place cost nothing. No participation fee. No white tights and black shoes to purchase.  No tickets to buy. No DVD. No raffle to contribute to. Nothing. Nada.

Such a deal.

And, there were only 12 people in the play, they all had speaking roles, and they all got way more experience than they would have in a larger production.

I haven't got anything against larger productions. But the drama club is such a deal.
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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Another extravagance

HANNOVER, GERMANY - MARCH 01:  The digital dis...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
I think I'll rename this blog "Polly Whinges."

The seal on my environmentally-friendly front loading Bosch washing machine has disintegrated. 

Where do you suppose the money for the expensive repair is going to come from?

Just call me Job.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Confession--the crazy leftover lady

Fleur de Pains, d├ęgustation de sandwiches 02Image by Stephanie Booth via Flickr
OK, this isn't good. There was a whole plate of leftover sandwiches from a catered work event I attended today. I looked at them and calculated they could feed my family for a day or so. So I brought them home, carrying them waitress-style through the parking lot. At least I left the brownies. Nobody here needs them.

How long before I turn into the crazy lady who stuffs her purse from the buffet?
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Tuesday, May 4, 2010


BounceImage by ~Prescott via Flickr
Meeting the mortgage payment is a tricky proposition chez Poorhouse.  I have an automatic payment set in my online banking system. But since the mortgage is due monthly and the paychecks are bi-weekly, and since the mortgage payment is more than my paycheck net, I often have to make adjustments. The good news is I have a 15 day grace period, and things are better so that I'm often paying the mortgage before that grace period expires.

The bad news is that my online banking system goes into "processing" mode a few days before the payment is scheduled, so if I forget to go in far enough in advance when I have a bad month (like when I have to fork out an extra $2300 for car repairs-grrr), and change the date, it's too late to make a change, and everything goes boing boing.

And my bank is not stupid.  They boing the biggest check first, so that all the other little payments will also bounce. At $39 a pop.

It never ever ends.
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Sunday, May 2, 2010

I think I may be something of a culinary genious

Fiddlehead FernsImage by lastmodified via Flickr
Or so said Bridget Jones. Our slow cooker is still getting a workout, though we are getting a little tired of the pot roast/stew and root veggies combo.  Last week we had a pot roast and Mr. Poorhouse's famous mushroom gravy.

But the genius came the next day when I sauteed some shallots, added leftover thin sliced pot roast, leftover mushroom gravy, a bit of light sour cream, and voila, had a quick beef stroganoff. We served it over whole wheat noodles and with my favorite spring treat--sauteed fiddlehead ferns (in more shallots and garlic.) Hmmm.
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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Saving Money on Braces

Brace Face!Image by big jay cee via Flickr
After my post whining about the cost of braces, a friend gave me a brilliant idea for saving money on braces. Dental schools offer orthodontia at a discount.  I'm not sure what the savings might be, but I suspect 10-20 percent. I'd be interested in hearing from readers about your experiences.

When I was younger I did get optical care from a local university. I've got bad eyes and weird problems, and they loved showing me off to their students. I didn't mind. In that case it wasn't a financial issue. At any rate, I always felt like I got good care.
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