Never Just An Oil Change

13 Jun

An oil change never ends up being just an oil change, have you noticed that? Sometimes the add on expense is a new filter, you grumble a bit, but get over it quickly. Other times the unexpected expense brings your total cost to $1698.42 and you want to cry a little. Or eat cake. I really wanted to eat cake, sigh.

Turns out my front brakes were at 5% and my rear brakes were at 20%. Not good! The mechanic was surprised because the test run he did with my suv had no squealy brake noises, no indicators anything was wrong with them. Poor little suv was chugging along like everything was fine when in reality she was hurting…I’m sure there is a metaphor in there somewhere but I’m too focused on the new balance of my Visa statement to figure it out.

In the end the front brake pads and rotors were replaced, as were the rear brake pads and rotors, the front brake hoses were replaced because they had holes in them, they performed a brake fluid flush, and oh yeah, the actual oil change.

Here I had been so cocky that I had $126 saved up, enough to get the oil change and pay for whatever little thing they would say also needed replacing, all paid for without having to pull out the credit card. As it turns out, that $126 won’t even make a dent in the bill and Friday, which is sit down and budget day, is going to be a day of math magic while I figure out how to deal with this unexpected expense.

I’m trying to focus on the bright side of things, and the list I have is as follows:

I was told that if I had kept driving my front brakes would have been grinding metal on metal within two weeks, so yay that I avoided that!

This was all an unexpected find, I went it there thinking nothing was wrong with my suv, so thank goodness I went in and this was found before something worse happened.

The shop I go to is run by an amazing guy who knows I work Sundays through Thursdays,  he stayed late to get everything fixed so I could pick it up and have it for when I work on Sunday, saving me the expense of a rental vehicle.

I’m lucky enough to be able to take on the debt of this bill and still be able to pay rent and buy groceries.

So yeah, in the end does it suck all of a sudden having this huge bill to pay? Yeah, of course it does. But it would be a hell of a lot worse to have had the brakes fail and be in an accident, or do that metal on metal grinding thing, or have a less competent mechanic who didn’t notice something didn’t look quite right and dig a little deeper to discover how bad of shape my brakes were in.

Every time I get pouty about my new Visa balance I’m going to do my best to remind myself of all those positives, and maybe, just maybe, get myself a slice of chocolate cake because hey, I’m human, and sometimes cake helps make things a little bit better. 😉

choc cake

Mimicking the Cat

20 May

On a recent day off I decided to do to Striker (the cat) what he does to me. Seemed only fair to show him what it’s like being on the receiving end of certain behaviours, right?

Here is what I learned…

What I did: got super close to his sleeping face and stared until he woke up.

What I learned: Striker doesn’t like that. Don’t do that. A startled awake cat is an unhappy cat.

What I did: I couldn’t stand on his chest while he was laying down and try to limit his breathing ability so instead I laid my head on his tummy area when he was laying on his side.

What I learned: Striker doesn’t like that. Don’t do that. A squished cat is an unhappy cat…who may or may not decide to bring out the claws.

What I did: talked to Striker incessantly because I could almost see the bottom of my bowl and I was obviously being starved.

What I learned: Striker doesn’t like that. Don’t do that. A cat being irritated by a talking human is a cat thinking of how best to get his human to shut up…permanently.

What I did: I got in bed first and spread eagled to take up as much space as possible, leaving Striker to get comfy in what little space was left.

What I learned: Striker doesn’t like that. Don’t do that. Striker will one hundred percent meow at me loudly until I move so he can have the prime spot on the bed.

And lastly…

What I did: commented on every yawn and stretch I did all day instead of comment on Striker’s adorable yawns and stretches.

What I learned: Striker couldn’t care less about that and is adept at ignoring me.

My life lesson from this is don’t pretend to be a cat, I can’t be as good of a cat as Striker can and mimicking Striker put me in danger of claws and teeth and revenge, not exactly ideal.

My No Spend Attempt

9 May

Ok, so, if you look at No Spend challenges in a very black and white sort of way, I failed. I however, choose to acknowledge the grey in life and think I didn’t do so bad.

no spend challenge

I set for myself a No Spend challenge, it was to last two weeks, and officially ended yesterday. I was allowed to buy gas for my suv, as well as food / household items as needed. Oh, and pay bills, obviously lol.

In that two week period I had two opportunities to donate to charity, one to the Edmonton Food Bank and one to the Vancouver Food Bank, and I donated to both. Neither of those donations fit in any way, shape, or form, to the short list of acceptable purchases but I have no regrets.

I also paid the entry fee for a virtual marathon. This one is a bit trickier. I had intended to wait until the end of my No Spend challenge to buy my entry but found out last week that it was the last day for the early entry fee, which meant that after that date it would cost more to sign-up. I suppose I could have just said I wouldn’t do it, or I could have waited until my challenge was over and paid the higher entry fee, but, well, no. I wasn’t going to miss doing this with my friends, and why would I wait a week and pay more for something when I could buy it that day and pay less?

The No Spend challenge was meant to help get my spending back in line with my budget, that doesn’t mean I stop looking at the bigger picture and spend less on a certain day only to spend even more 8 days later. Sometimes logic is what is in that grey space.

So yeah, technically, I broke the No Spend rules. Ok, not even technically, I did break the No Spend rules but not in a bad way. Not in a I bought more books, or clothes, or some other random item that I don’t really need but I’m bored and saw it online and impulsed bought it way. I donated to charity, and bought something I was going to buy anyways on a day it was a cheaper purchase, how can that be bad?

This is why I tend to shy away from No Spend challenges, and similar things I see in the budgeting world. They don’t always lead you to making the logical purchase, or they may restrict you from an opportunity to help someone else.

To me, I think the better way to go about curbing your spending is to stick to the budget you gave yourself. Maybe you don’t budget, and ya know, if you don’t and that works for you, cool. For me, I budget. I set myself an exact amount of money to be used for gas, food, household items, and other categories. My problem is lately I’ve been going over budget by buying more online, things I never would have bought before, partially out of boredom, anxiety, because outside of work I do nothing and interact with almost no one, and somehow that has led me to increasing my shopping. Not good. Shopping is not a coping skill. I need to stop treating it like one.

Which is why, for the next two weeks, I’m not putting myself on a No Spend challenge, I’m putting myself on a Stick To Your Freakin Budget Challenge. Much more my style, don’t you think? 😉

 

A Perspective Thing

2 May

If you were to ask me how the day went, and then ask the cat how the day went, you’d get drastically different descriptions despite our having spent the bulk of the day together.

My relating of today goes something like this…

Got to sleep in, which was nice, eventually got up, made breakfast, fed the cat, chilled with a couple episodes of Criminal Minds, realized I can’t be super lazy all day so went for a walk and was gone about an hour and a half. Once home did a quick vacuum of the living room, kitchen, and bedroom, started the laundry, made dinner, sat down to eat and watch more Criminal Minds. Between changing the loads of laundry I cuddled with the cat. All in all a pretty chill day.

The cat’s version of today is a tad different…

Was forced to wake up before I was ready, that human just can’t figure out the proper time to get up. Walked the human to the kitchen and was not at all surprised she put her needs before mine when it came to getting breakfast ready. Why she thinks it is ok to make her tea and toast her bagel before getting me fresh water and food is beyond me. Switched napping locations to the ottoman in the living room, I refuse to let her have the use of the entire ottoman for fear she will get spoiled and think it is hers. For a while I lay on her legs, I like stealing her body heat and it’s funny when she starts to get uncomfortable but doesn’t move because I’m on her. She had the nerve to get up and go outside! I definitely did not give her permission to do that. She was gone so long I thought I had been abandoned and was going to have to ration my food and water until rescued. Eventually she returned, I refused to acknowledge her, someone who would leave me like that doesn’t deserve my affection. I was then harassed by the evil loud machine that wants to eat me. Using all my stealth and speed I outwitted it once again. Instead of eating me it ate all my shed fur, the pieces of cardboard I had scratched and spread on the carpet, and the kitty litter I expertly kick out of the box and on to the floor. All that hard work destroyed! I immediately started replacing what it had eaten from the floor. The cardboard pieces are not as many as they once were but I will fix that over the next couple of days. I have already kicked more litter out of the box and despite my human trying to catch my fur that sheds when she pets me so she can put it in the garbage I have successfully left some fur on the carpet, the ottoman, and the living room throw blanket. I have been extremely productive today and deserve treats, obviously. After dinner I got the human to make a blanket fort for me to sleep in but she kept messing it up by leaving to go “switch laundry”, whatever that means. I employed my cutest positions and got her to stop getting up when the faint buzzer sound came from the other room thereby ensuring I got some much needed uninterrupted sleep. Now the human is up late waiting for the “last load to finish” and I am forced to sleep resting against her outstretched leg. I make sure to deep sigh and look at her with my sad eyes every ten minutes or so, making sure she realizes she is letting me down. I want to go to bed but have to wait for her so I can take the best spot right before she tries to get in the bed. It has been a traumatizing and exhaustive day, I can’t wait to get some sleep so I can be ready for my early morning tapping of the human’s face.

No Spend Challenge

23 Apr

My landlady, in a joking way, texted me saying she thinks I may have an online shopping problem.

I got all excited because I thought that meant an item I bought online last week and have been anxiously waiting for had arrived, but realized it can’t be that item because I am signed up for text notifications and hadn’t received one saying it was delivered. So I started to text her back to let her know the list of things I am waiting for only to realize the list is uh, let’s say, substantial, and having to type it all wasn’t going to make me look good.

I fully understood her joke when I got home and found not one but three packages waiting for me.

Three! It’s like a random personal Christmas out of nowhere. And it really is out of nowhere since all three of these packages took way longer than expected to get to me. Something online shopping teaches you, if you aren’t shopping with Amazon Prime that is, is patience.

The first package I opened is a t-shirt from one of those annoying ads you see on Facebook. It was cheap, and cute, and I decided to buy one t-shirt to see what their quality is like. The shirt fits, and smells horrible, so it is now in the hamper and we’ll see how good it looks once it’s been through the wash. I hope it stays cute!

The second item is stamps. Yeah yeah, I know, the post offices are still open, why was I so incredibly lazy and unwilling to go in to one to buy stamps? I actually have a valid reason for this! The post offices by me are tiny, and in the backs of small stores, and I am supposed to be avoiding places like that to decrease my chance of exposure and by extension risk to the seniors I work with. I thought buying stamps online from Canada Post would be the easiest purchase, and fastest delivery, since ya know, they are the ones delivering them.

No. That thinking is incredibly wrong. After you buy them you get an email saying they will process your order in three days. Not have them to you in three days, or in the mail in three days, but that they will take three whole days just to process the order. Oh, and they come from Ottawa, case you were wondering, so three days to start processing the order, then delivery time from Ottawa, they took almost two weeks to get to me.

But that’s ok, because patience. It is a virtue, it is a thing best practiced over and over…and over…

And over yet again by the book I ordered that finally arrived. That one took about a month.

But really, what does delivery time matter, right? They all arrived eventually, if somewhat embarrassingly on the same day, and I now feel like maybe I am buying too much stuff.

I don’t think of myself as someone who tends to randomly purchase things online, I will look, then talk myself out of it, but looks like two times I didn’t talk myself out of it…I’m leaving the stamps off this list because I do actually need them, so what’s with all the shopping?

Before you say two items isn’t that big a deal, I have more things on their way to me…oops?

Looks like this is the perfect time to start a No Spend Challenge.

April 22 2020 a

What is a No Spend Challenge you ask? It is exactly what it sounds like. For the next two weeks the only things I will spend money on are food, gas for the suv, bills, and $8 I owe a friend who is doing a fundraiser. It doesn’t have to be for two weeks, you can set any time frame you want, I’m choosing to ease myself in to this and picked a short time frame to start with.

I’m leaving myself a teeny tiny loophole, due to the pandemic, that if yet another emergency situation pops up, I mean c’mon, we haven’t been swarmed by locust yet so there are still some ways things could get worse, I may expand the list to random emergency items I can’t think of at this moment in time.

This means no more online shopping when I’m bored, or feeling a bit sad, or anxious, or because something cute caught my eye at random (*cough* t-shirt *cough*). To make it more likely I will succeed at this challenge I need things to do when I feel like shopping, distractions to stop me from hitting that checkout button.

So far I have come up with reading one of the many books that are in this apartment, writing cards or letters to people, exercising, trying to read the cat’s mind, cleaning (let’s be honest, this one probably won’t happen but I feel like it is expected to be on the list), and practice my knitting (I am learning and need all the practice I can get). Did you notice what all these things have in common? Well, except for trying to read the cat’s mind that is.

Hands. They are all things that will keep my hands busy. Busy so they can’t be tapping the screen of my iPad or typing on my laptop, busy so I am physically engaged in an activity that will not only keep my brain somewhat occupied but also my body. I find if I can keep one of those two busy I am less likely to engage in a behaviour I am trying to avoid, if I can keep both busy I do an even better job of it.

If you have any suggestions for things I can do instead of shop feel free to share them!

April 22 2020

Striker thinks spending more time petting him is an excellent way to stay busy, so looks like I’m adding that to my list…the top of my list if Striker has anything to say about it!

Simple Things

20 Apr

I don’t know about you but I’m noticing simpler things more than I used to, and finding pleasure in them. Maybe it’s not pleasure but enjoyment? Whatever it is, little things I took for granted I appreciate more.

So I guess I’ve settled on it being appreciation? Lol So many word options!

Here are some silly, not actually important things, that I appreciated this week.

My complete inability to flip an egg on Thursday. I failed spectacularly but who cares? It still tasted good!

British junk food, the best kind! Completely over priced and worth every penny, or I guess nickel since we don’t have pennies anymore. 😜

A delicious bowl of fresh raspberries, my after work snack this evening. Yum!

This little guy still has his hat, too cute!

Striker being a goofball and hiding in the closet. 💜

Nothing riveting or unique, (except Striker, he’s one of a kind!), and mostly food related. Just some little things that had me smiling, or even outright laughing, this week.

Uhhh, to clarify, the laughing was at my egg flipping “skills” and Striker being silly. I haven’t crossed over into crazy enough that I’m laughing at fruit or junk food for no reason lol

I know everyone is going through a tough time, I hope, even when so much around us is hard and scary you’re able to find something that gets you smiling, or maybe even laughing!

We Don’t Eat The Human

15 Apr

Picture this, Striker and I having a lovely cuddle. He’s purring, resting his head on my hand while I pet him with my other hand. All is calm and happy in our little section of the world.

Then, for no apparent reason, Striker lifts his head and in a slow and deliberate manner he bites down on the hand he had been using as a pillow. Then like some kind of adorable maniac he stays like that. Doesn’t apply more pressure, doesn’t release my hand, but does continue to purr.

So I, in a calm and rational manner, say:

“We don’t eat the human.”

Nothing. Not even a twitch of an ear to show he heard me.

I wait a beat, he turns his gaze, not his head, just his gaze, and makes eye contact with me. There was definitely a glimmer of the perfect little killing machine that is a cat in that gaze.

While making eye contact I repeated:

“We do not eat the human.”

I swear to god he rolled his eyes before releasing my hand. Then he flounced down to my outstretched legs, lay down with this back to me, and flicked his tail to show his displeasure with me.

He remained like that, pouting, for a solid twenty minutes before realizing it’s a better life strategy to keep the two-legged one who opens the food container moderately appeased, and turned around on my lap so I could see his adorable face.

And possibly so he could see if another opening appeared where he could get to my hand. 😜

The Evolution of Shopping

12 Apr

I wrote a little while ago about how my shopping experience went when I had to go to Bosley’s to buy cat food. It was odd, but not in an unmanageable way.

This past Thursday I went to Safeway and experienced the next step in the evolution of grocery shopping. The week prior I was all icked out when I went to that Safeway because people weren’t social distancing within the store, it seemed crowded, and I was uncomfortable enough that I left before getting everything I needed.

This past Thursday I went back and oh how things have changed!

First there was the line up to get in…

April 11 2020

I don’t know why I was surprised by the line-up, I’d be hearing all week about stores having lines, I guess I just didn’t think this Safeway would since it didn’t have one a week prior. It was a nice spring evening and the line moved fairly quickly. There isn’t a sign saying how many people are allowed in the store, just that a “limited number” of customers are allowed in, which makes me wonder how the guard at the door knows when to let people in and when to make them wait.

You might be thinking he lets people inside when people inside the shop come out but no, that wasn’t always the case. I’ve decided to not think about it too much, like any of us need another thing to stress about?

Once inside I eventually noticed the aisles are all one way, like in Ikea. Arrows on the ground showing which way to walk as well as hanging on the signs at the start of each aisle. I didn’t notice at first, so I may have gone the wrong direction in an aisle or two, in my defence, I am not the only one who did that!

The shelves were looking a little sad. The combination of a sale and it being later in the day meant a lot of stuff was gone. I found it interesting that when I noticed there was only a small amount of a product left I would think about buying it, even if it was something I don’t normally buy. Like the baked beans. I haven’t bought those in years but seeing the shelves so low in stock made me wonder if I should. Does everybody else know a secret I don’t about what food I should be buying right now?

Luckily I came to my senses and stuck with buying my normal food items. No point in stocking up on things I don’t eat.

April 11 2020 a

I should have taken a picture of the produce, so many things were moldy, or wrinkled and almost no good anymore. Isn’t it better to have no produce for sale than produce gone bad? The quality of the produce has me buying more and more frozen fruit and veg…which was another area that was scarily low on stock.

The internet is exploding with people baking bread, which ok, I guess if you’re in self-isolation and have time to kill why not? One of the aisles had yeast for sale and it was packaged like this…

April 11 2020 b

I don’t know if that is a normal price for yeast but I’m fairly certain that is not the normal packaging for the yeast. I admit, I bought some, not because I have some overwhelming desire to bake bread but because the bread section was scarily low in stock, I bought one of the last loaves. Maybe my baking bread will have to become a thing, I hope not, but better to be prepared, right?

Eggs were still out of stock, sigh, but I was able to find vanilla for a friend who couldn’t find any when she was shopping. That turned out well because when she was shopping today she found eggs for me, yay!

This might be the new way of shopping, see what you can find not only for you but your friends, and they will do the same, and everyone will swap items. I figure if we combine what the grocery store near me has, and what the grocery store near my friend has, we can almost always find the items we want. It is an odd system but it seems to be working for us so far.

Something I noticed in the store are people being much better at social distancing while inside. Whether it is because the aisles are one way only, or because there are only so many of us inside at a time, or we are all scared of being near someone and getting sick, there was a decent amount of space between people. If I needed something and a person was in the same area I’d stand back and wait until they moved on before I reached for what I wanted, and others did the same. It made me feel a bit rushed in having to pick items from the shelves but I’d rather be a bit rushed because I know someone is waiting their turn than have that person come up beside me.

We are all going to become this cat…

april 11 2020 c

Cats Are Gonna Cat

8 Apr

Today started with Striker meowing at me incessantly until I got out of bed. I thought he needed something, like food maybe, but what he actually wanted was to steal my bed.

He didn’t even pretend to look ashamed at his underhandedness.

Then at work I saw something amazing! The African Violet I repotted and I was sure hated me is showing signs of flowering. A miracle if ever there was one!

When I got home from work I had a card waiting for me, which actually means Striker got an envelope in the mail that he allowed me to have the contents of.

My day is bookended by the cat…seems about right!

A Salute

6 Apr

I caught the tail end of a salute from the firefighters for the essential workers getting us through this pandemic.

The RCMP send two cruisers past my work at 7pm and do the short siren sound, and the people in the neighbourhood come out and make a lot of noise.

Of course I had seen this mentioned online pretty much everywhere but until I heard it for myself I didn’t see why it was a big deal. I’ve experienced it twice now and it turns out it is a big deal. The people I see making the noise look so happy, you’d think they were cheering for their favourite sports team or celebrity, they are that excited.

For me, even though I don’t consider myself an important front line worker, not like a doctor or a nurse or a paramedic, I felt appreciated for the work I am doing, and it was nice.

So for those of you out there making the noise at 7pm, please keep it going, it matters. 🙂

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