Saturday, February 09, 2008

New Glasses

Of course, Paul's glasses would fall out of his pocket and be lost forever in a snowbank only one short week after we're no longer on Concordia Plan which pays for glasses. Okay, so we had to get some glasses for this boy in a hurry. He just simply cannot see well enough (and his eyesight has deteriorated enough in the last couple of years) to fudge along with his previous pair of glasses.

A friend recommended Zenni Optical, an online way to order prescription glasses. You can get perfectly decent glasses for $8 or $9, with a flat $5 shipping charge regardless of how many glasses are in the order. We would've tried that, but we figured Paul couldn't make it two weeks without proper glasses. He does have to drive to work, y'know.

Shopko and our eye doctor (both conveniently located close to Paul's place of employment) would require a week before the glasses were in. So we resorted to Lens Crafters. Boy oh boy, you sure pay the premium price for needing them right now.

I think the smart thing for me to do now is to buy a back-up pair of glasses for Paul and for me. I mean, it may be a waste of $25 to Zenni, but good insurance against having to spend that kind of money for an optician-on-demand.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Hang-Ups and Cover-Ups

When one of my children was just a little toddler, the end of his finger was cut off in a door-slamming incident which would forever give me a hang-up about doors being slammed shut. When my younger sister was just a little toddler, she ended up with a bandaged eye and restrained arms due to an eye injury caused by a rubber band that was shot across the room.* This forever gave me a hang-up about children shooting rubber bands, and I take rubber-band shooting nearly as seriously as I do BB-gun shooting.

Other mothers don't bat an eye at doors being slammed. They see it simply as rude and unnecessary noise. Other mothers don't bat an eye at rubber bands sproinging across the atmosphere. They see it as amusement for little boys. Some mothers think that climbing high trees or high slides is dangerous for little kids. That I don't have a hang-up about, and my kids climbed things that would raise the hair on many a mommy.

Oftentimes, when an item is being sold, it is shown at its best. It is spiffed. It is cleaned. It is put in nice order. To some extent, that is a good and reasonable thing. Who wants to buy a broken bike? The prospective buyer will be more likely to ante up the money if the seller fixed the flat tire or the headlight first.

Sometimes, though, the cleaning and spiffing can cover up something. For example, when a person buys a used car, she wants to know if there are certain fluids leaking in the engine. But some sellers will power-wash the engine. This drives me bonkers at a nice reputable dealership where I often look for new-to-us cars. I can't see evidence that would warn me of trouble to come.

For another example, people who are selling homes often paint and put in new carpet. I have a hang-up about mildew. I want to go into a house and see whether there's evidence of mildew and mold. I want to see what the cracks in the wall are like. I want to know whether the carpet has water stains from flooding, and how bad those stains are. I don't want those things to be hidden by FRESH and NEW cover-ups, only to have the problem show up again in 3 years.

Whereas most people are more inclined to buy something that's clean and fresh and pretty, I would rather see the warts that are on the item I'm considering purchasing. I want to know what I'm really getting, and NOT what the seller wants me to think I'm getting. But because I'm the oddball and the salesmen cater to the normal people, I am often stuck with too little information about purchases I'm considering.

*Footnote: the shooter was not aiming at the wee toddler. But I could see that she was out of his peripheral vision and moving toward the trajectory. It wasn't his fault; it was a sorry accident.

Side Benefit

All week, I've had something on my feet to deal with the germies in my chest. Sometimes I've put on vaseline as the "glue" to hold garlic powder on my feet. When I want to stink a little less (okay, okay, stink a LOT less), I've been wearing Vicks on my feet. Today when I went to garlic my feet afresh, I noticed that my heels are nice and soft. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but I'm a person whose heels split and crack and even bleed through the whole winter. And they're nice and soft and not cracked. This is mega cool!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ash Thursday

The zone LWML prayer breakfast was scheduled for our church this morning. Most of the attendees would be in their 60s to 80s, and most would be coming from 10-25 miles away. The breakfast was canceled.

Gary could not be here for church tonight, so a couple of weeks ago the elders asked the circuit counselor to preach. He's coming from 25 miles away. The ladies from our church didn't want to come out in the daylight this morning before the storm worsened. They certainly weren't going to come out in the dark when the drifts had worsened and the snow had deepened. And it would be really rotten to ask the substitute preacher to drive 4 hours to come here (because 4 hours is what it would take -- I know -- I've been out in this today).

The one that stunned me was my father-confessor's church. He canceled. He NEVER cancels. He even made a humongous point last winter to say why church is never never never canceled. Well, I guess it's not really canceled. It's postponed. We'll be having the first Ash Thursday service I ever heard of.

I think I might have to call Philip and tell him not to come home but to find a motel. I know there are people in the nearest part of Milwaukee who would give him a room to sleep in, but I don't want him driving even that far tonight.

Snow Showers

Since 3:00 yesterday afternoon we have been having "snow showers." The snow is deep. The roads are hazardous. Businesses, churches, and schools are closed. The stuff is HEAVY and hard to shovel.

But the bad weather hasn't started yet. Within an hour or two, the forecast is that we will begin about 8 hours of "heavy snow storms." And strong winds. Shoot. I don't think we're going to church tonight. And I don't know what it's going to be like for Philip to get home from work. A lot of areas are out of salt for the roads, and the guys who plow the roads are overworked and tired.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Site Meter is an online tool that tracks the visitors to a website, temporarily recording what city they're from, what time they check your blog, how long the visit is, if they clicked on a link to take them somewhere else, etc.

Well, when you ship off a lonely husband to the Big City to work, and he can't get home because of humongo snowstorms, and he has to spend the evening at a friend's, .... guess what? Your site-meter readings go off the chart as he goes blog-surfing to amuse himself!

We're hoping we get to see him tomorrow night, but it probably depends on when the storms stop. In the meantime, three of us here still have to get to work in the morning. Yikesy.

Incited to Prayer?

Pastor tells us that one of the blessings of tribulation is that it incites us to pray. He says that people can go on their merry way, thinking everything is hunky-dory, but when sickness or trouble strikes, then they're more inclined to hear what Jesus has to say and to pray fervently.

But boy, when I get sick, I am not incited to pray. Just the opposite. I lie there on the couch or in bed and think about how much it hurts and how miserable I feel. And I cough and blow my nose and try to force myself to drink juice past my sore throat. Prayer is just way too much effort. Sleep is everything!

That must make me really bad.

"Total Loss"

The insurance called today and told me that the van is a total loss. She defined that for me: it will cost more to fix than it's worth.

I was confused, though. After taking off the deductible, the check they're planning to send me (assuming we don't buy the car back) is still $1200 higher than the estimate given to repair it fully. The mechanic told me that some companies will only repair if the repairs are less than 70% or 75% of the value of the car. My insurance agent confirmed that our company does this for all vehicles, not just for new ones. But the pay-out when the car is totaled is nevertheless the full value.

So it looks like we'll be probably be buying the car back and repairing it ourselves with the check from the insurance company. So maybe the loss is not quite so total as they're saying!

Value of a Car

Several years ago, we dropped comp & collision on our old cars. It seemed silly to pay $300/year insurance on a car that was worth about $1500 ... especially when we carry a high deductible.

After the van accident I was trying to figure out how the insurance company determines the value of a used car. Everybody told me that they'll consider it to be less than the Blue Book value of the vehicle. Our agent told me that you can never know how much the car will be worth until you have an accident and hear from the adjuster. Well, gosh, that doesn't help you make any decisions about when to quit paying for comp & collision.

But for us, we found that the value of the car as determined by the insurance company was very close to the private-sale value found on the Blue Book website.

Monday, February 04, 2008


Last June we had reason to believe that there was a possibility Gary might get a call because his name was on two lists who were looking for a pastor like him. Neither congregation had a parsonage, so we started toying with the idea of home-ownership, and what it would take, and what it would cost, and what it would be like. But as time passed and things here changed, neither congregation called him.

In October it became clear that Gary was going to have to find a job. The congregation hadn't decided that yet, but it was obvious to us as well as the district president. Gary was having abysmal luck with the job-hunting.

When someone at Direct Supply requested that his resumé be looked at and not thrown directly into the trash, we knew that the commute would be unreasonable. We knew that, if he got that job, we'd want to consider moving. So we began studying house prices and looking for rentals and revisiting the possibility of home-ownership. Everybody told us that it was a great time to buy, with low prices and low interest rates. Nevertheless it's still overwhelming given the financial situation we've been in for the last decade.

So we found a very good deal on a house that had been in foreclosure. The bank was needing to get rid of it. It was a nicer house than we thought we could possibly find on our budget. We put an offer on it Wednesday. Our realtor had been told by the seller's realtor that there was another offer on the table, but the bank would be countering. Our realtor told them to hold off until they saw our offer later in the day, and that was welcomed. So we offered full price, knowing that even at the asking price we'd be getting a good deal. And the bank accepted the other offer. We were very disappointed. Our realtor still can't figure out what happened, but it sounds like the seller's realtor might not have even gotten our offer to the seller. Our realtor is going to talk to the bank and the other realtor today in hopes of figuring out what went wrong. But in the meantime, we go back to the drawing table and start searching again.

It's hard, though, to want to bother coming up with an offer after what happened last week. If an offer like last week's was rejected, then why should we think any other offer we make will be acceptable? I know that's not reasonable to think, but when you try something new for the first time, and it gets completely screwed up in a way that stuns even a very experienced person, things seem pointless.

Last Week's Accident

I got a copy of the police report from the accident. The guy who ran the stop sign and came right out in front of me was not ticketed.