August 14, 2015

The dog that ruined it for everyone

An “ode” to Guest Dog. I never thought there would come a day when I declared any dog unlikeable but never say never applies here.

I’ve watched pets for friends and acquaintances for years. It’s never been a problem and I’ve always enjoyed either helping a friend out or making a little extra cash. There were no drawbacks to that job, in my experience. More dog responsibilities meant more dog time! Yay! Until now. We just had a friend’s dog over for the longest week in our history of petsitting. There were regrets. So many regrets.

This dog is a familiar face. She’s usually a terrible companion, but harmlessly obnoxious. She’s not trained, has no manners, jumps on anyone and anything, and would lick even your tonsils given a hint of a chance.

This made her not the most eagerly anticipated guest but I was sure we’d be fine in the end. Boy did I ever call that wrong!

She arrived on our doorstep the first morning and commandeered Seamus’s rug, refusing to allow him to relax in his usual spot near my desk. Fine, he found another place to hang out. She spent the day scratching, and early that evening we realized why.

SHE HAD FLEAS. And she’d spent the whole day scratching herself and shedding flea dirt on our rug by my desk. Fantastic. (Ask FaM just how fantastic this is.)

I immediately hauled out a dose of Advantix flea treatment for her which starts working immediately but that only took care of the live ones as they bit her. Seamus is protected year round. That just left us to serve as the blood bars. And bloodsuckers LOVE me. Wunderbar.

By the time we settled LB down for the night and cleared up, it was 11 pm. There was no time to run around to the shops so we had to pull out the home remedies. We salted the rugs and set out detergent traps in hopes the fleas would die in them.

Two days later, we were still getting bitten. It was time for the big guns – the local shops didn’t have it so I special ordered Fleabusters on the recommendation of several friends. That was insult to injury: $36 and PiC had to spend hours that evening cleaning and treating our floors. The powder is incredibly fine and it was like we’d disturbed the ancient ghosts of tiny dust vengeance. We all retreated from the main rooms, so guest dog was relocated to the bathroom to spare her from the flea treatment and us from her shedding more flea dirt in the carpet. During her confinement, she decided to scratch the paint off the door. So now PiC has to sand down and repaint that door. We really didn’t have anything better to do this month.

To really crown her stay with us, she decided to sink to new lows. Midweek, I was checking her for fleas and flea dirt, bribing her with treats as usual, because she was still scratching incessantly and I was trying to figure out what needed to be done for her comfort. She cooperated for a minute and then took off sprinting for our bedroom and Seamus’s bed. That’s off limits at the best of times but for a flea carrier? Absolutely not! She’s notorious for rubbing herself all over furniture and there was no way I was going to strip down all the bedding and wash it all again in the middle of the night. I failed to intercept her but quickly went to shoo her out of the room, and would you believe she turned to chew on me like I was a corn cob?? Luckily I’ve had years of experience with dogs and was quick enough to avoid getting shredded but she was like a rabid badger so I couldn’t even civilly pick her up or escort her out. She had to be leashed and hauled out.

I had intended to give her a bath before she went home and give her a nice conditioner for her itching but she spent the next three days sidling over and baring her teeth. I shelved that plan.

I have never been so eager or thrilled to wash our hands of a guest dog. The fleas weren’t her fault but she was a pill and a half for everything else.

It’s going to be a very long time before we pet sit for anyone again, even if we do owe them a favor. I’ll make or buy them dinner instead.

I’d vaguely considered hosting on DogVacay as we had a really good experience with boarding Seamus with some great sitters but, after this, I don’t think we’re going to take a chance on that!

August 7, 2015

O sunshiney day!

Abby at I Pick Up Pennies was kind enough to bestow upon me the Sunshine Blogger Award and tag me with some questions.

1. What’s the best thing you’ve purchased or been given in the past six months?

Honest first answer: I can’t remember.
Slightly more thoughtful second answer: 3-way tie between on sale t-shirts, a dress that I can actually wear for a semi-fancy event… (I can’t remember my 3rd but it was good! I swear!)

2. What’s your favorite snack? (No one gets to say fruit.)

But I love (some) fruit! Probably not my favorite, though. Honey roasted peanuts, then.

3. What form of exercise do you hate the most. (“All” is a perfectly acceptable answer.)

Anything that cripples me. I actually like exercise, in theory. I just hate when it puts me out of commission for days or weeks.

4. If you could afford/manage to live anywhere, where would it be?

A few small towns over, probably, for slightly better weather. Or, given the dire predictions about the next Big One in the Bay Area or the next Super Destructive Big One that should sink Seattle, maybe Colorado or Arizona? I like where we are, now, but the real estate market is terrible and it’s all liable to go smash when we have a real quake even if we could afford ridiculous prices.

5. What’s the geekiest hobby or pastime you have?

Being me. No, that’s not an answer. I need to chart progress on everything I do? I SDCC every year? I still stay up late reading comics when I can?

Over to y’all!

Want to answer the questions that Abby posed? You know you do! Make yourself at home in the comments!


If you’re so inclined to participate, I’d like to pass the award along with Abby’s questions to people who could probably answer them better 🙂

Save. Spend. Splurge.
Sense to Dollars
Budget and the Beach
Nicole & Maggie

July 2, 2015

School lunches shouldn’t be this difficult

Or that should say: Being a humane adult should NOT be so difficult.

This is the second story I’ve heard about kids and school lunches this week that’s got me wondering what is wrong with people and our system. If it’s accurate that this kitchen manager was fired solely for giving kids free hot lunch, because she didn’t think that “one slice of cheese on a hamburger bun and a small milk” was adequate nutrition, isn’t it time to really think about what on earth we’re spending money on here?

I went to look for the first story about a lunch worker taking away a kid’s hot lunch and throwing it out, but instead I find that this is an ongoing issue and an active policy.

Schools are always battling shrinking budgets but at the end of the day, shouldn’t the health of the kids be a top priority!? How can students be expected to learn when malnourished?

This just reignites all my sense of the unfairness of life for young kids whose family lives are disrupted, plagued by poverty, illness, or bad decisions.

June 24, 2015

A stroll down memory lane: a few of my favorite things

I’d been reminiscing about my mom, and even though there are some material things I cherish, the clearest, most important memories were more about how she was a great person and an amazing example for an awkward and introverted little kid.

Naturally, I think some activities are worth the money (traveling, learning new cultures, learning that the world is a big place, delicious foods), but I tend to be heavily biased toward the kind of childhood things that money can’t buy.


My Favorite …

Childhood birthday gift: my first and very own piggy bank from my older cousins. I still have it and will probably pass it on to LB.

Adulthood birthday gift: everything PiC picks. But if I had to choose just one, it’d be the Tiffany necklace he picked. I never would have picked it myself because it was extravagant and unnecessary. But if I were to pick something from their catalog, this was the one piece that would have made the cut. It was a cute pendant, in a shape I liked, and fairly low-priced for a Tiffany piece.

Food: Pho. Spring rolls. Cheese. Bacon. Pasta. Bread. Bartlet Pears. Prosciutto. Carnitas. I can’t do this one.

Travel Destination: Italy. Eating in Italy. Probably all of it. Send me to explore the rest of it to be sure!

Person: PiC. LB is a close second but we have to wait and see if ze becomes a human we respect and like, as well as love automatically as hir parents.

My Favorite Memories

Elementary school: my parents’ sticker system. We could earn stickers from school for doing various good things. Every 10 stickers we brought home could be redeemed for a small slurpee from the 7-11 down the street. I drank a lot of slurpees.

Poker face: Mom used to say she could read me like a book. As I got older, she explained that while this worked well for her as a parent, it wouldn’t be good for me in the outside world if strangers could read my mood and therefore manipulate me. That’s when it clicked that she wasn’t telling me I couldn’t have emotions or opinions, just don’t project them! I finally mastered the blank-neutral face a year before she died.

Temper, temper: Tempers are a family legacy but Mom firmly believed that we could overcome almost any genetic flaw. It took years for me to learn to quit letting my temper lead the way.

I have skills?: Cousin G taught both my sibling and I the art of manipulating yarn. He got crocheting lessons and I got knitting lessons.

Love thy face: Mom discouraged the use of makeup early on. She didn’t disapprove of it, she used it regularly herself, she just preferred that I didn’t make it a habit before I was 16 or so. She used makeup in an era when the ingredients weren’t always kosher and could contain dangerous bleaching chemicals to achieve the complexion smoothing or whitening effect that many ladies sought. Until and unless I could afford good quality makeup, she cautioned, it was best not to risk my skin. Besides, if I became too used to always wearing a full face, it could be hard to appreciate my normal unadorned face. This made enough sense that I never got into makeup during those early years when experimental (and often bad) makeup was expected and now I just don’t wear it because I lack the basic skills. *shrug* Someday I’ll learn.

What are some of your favorite things & memories?

May 21, 2015

E-Z Pass Scam, tidbits, and a Poll

Don’t fall for this E-Z Pass scam!


As usual, poor writing, inaccurate information, and a zip file are all reliable signs of a scammy phishing email.  These are often addressed as “Dear [Last Name]” without any honorific or appropriate title, it lacks any useful information like where the violation was supposed to have occurred and how much it costs.  That last bit is intended to get you to click on the zip file they’ve attached, of course.

Quick Thoughts

~ Every time I see someone use the phrase “mommy and me brigade” or something similar, it’s basically always pejorative and annoys the giblets off me.

~ Pork is not quite as forgiving as chicken. In other words, I dried out the ends of my first pork shoulder roast trying to get it to hit the recommended 160-170 degrees. But the middle was yummy! And I don’t mind dried roast pork if it was suitably fatty to begin with, the fat sort of keeps it from being a piece of cardboard.

~ OMG getting plans together for this year’s SDCC has been just a long stinking marathon of hurdles, it feels like. Getting badges. Getting hotel rooms. Getting parking. Every single thing was some sort of lottery and involved coordinating with half a dozen people.

~ Joss Whedon was harassed off Twitter by the scuzzy scuzzers who think that death threats are the best way to express their negative opinion. I wish I could say I was surprised but since rape and death threats are common currency of these scummy people, I just wish that Twitter would finally step up and do something about abusive users. It’s a great tool, but it needs to stop being an online Wild West.

Tell me what you think!


Tell me what you think in the comments!

I personally hate the idea but would you object to the occasional sponsored post here? It costs actual money to keep the site up and running, so I’m considering what might help pay those bills.

May 20, 2015

Don’t lose your Citi Thank You points (or any others)!

CitiPointsMy primary points partners these days are SPG and Hilton, with only a dash of Citi Thank You points, so it’s no wonder I didn’t realize that Citi was hiding some points from me.

Back in 2011 and 2012, they withheld 20 and 158 points, respectively, supposedly for late payments but since I didn’t pay late fees or interest, I’m skeptical. Regardless, all I had to do was find the withheld points in the Account Summary (which, shame on me, I haven’t checked in ages) and click the box next to each set of points to reinstate them. Easy as sliced cheese!

It wasn’t much, but hey, I have a use for them. I’m only a few thousand points away from picking up another gift card for PiC.

It’s good to know that you might have some points stashed somewhere, for any of your rewards programs. Check your accounts once in a while!

March 27, 2015

A reader poll

I’m curious, dear readers, and I hope you’ll satisfy my curiosity.

This blog has long been my refuge. Over the years I’ve shared, learned and grown in the experience of writing it. This is a greatly enjoyable hobby through which I’ve had the great fortune to make a better life and even found friends.

One friend called this a successful blog and, looking around the greater PF blogosphere that’s utterly transformed since I first started up almost ten years ago, it never would have occurred to me to consider it as such. But, from very modest beginnings, we’re still kicking! That’s one kind of success.

Would you care to tell me….

What have you enjoyed reading?
The topics I generally land on are:
Money: general money (deals, sales, maximizing savings)
Personal money (decisions, mistakes, planning, negotiations)
Investing (stocks, real estate,  retirement portfolio)
Family: (pets, difficulties&complications, planning)
Career: (changes, planning, commentary)

What would you like to see more/less of?

And about you!

How long have you been reading?

How did you find me?

Have you filed your tax returns yet?

What are you most looking forward to this year?

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