Posted in Health and Wellbeing, Living Life, Pandemic

Another Family Member Diagnosed With Covid-19

My oldest daughter called me last night to tell me that her husband, my SIL, was just diagnosed with the coronavirus. He’s 42 years old, in good health and has had symptoms for a week now. His doctor, via TeleMed, told him to quarantine at home, take tylenol for the fever and the pain and wait five days. So, he took over his 5 year old daughters’ bedroom and is boarded up in her room. My own daughter and granddaughter are holed up in the rest of the 4 room apartment and all are waiting it out to see what will happen. They think my SIL caught the contagion from weekly grocery shopping, since that’s the only time he has left their apartment ever!

Odds are good that my SIL will recover but in the interim, I’m a nervous wreck. When this pandemic first hit I begged both my daughters and their respective families to get out of NYC and bundle up here in upstate NY in my home. Neither one of them would budge. They said they didn’t want to get me or Nick sick. Maybe so, but all of this has been nerve wracking nonetheless.

My other SIL, married to my younger daughter, had a gall bladder attack and actually underwent surgery AND stayed in a NYC hospital for several days three weeks ago! Plus, he caught an infection from the surgery and had to be rushed back (via ambulance, alone, since that’s the only available transportation at this time in NYC) for even more days at a NYC hospital. All while the pandemic is raging in NYC, the coronavirus center of the world! How I haven’t gone insane yet is beyond me!

Meanwhile, all of them could have been up here in the country air, free from contaminants, enjoying the fresh country air, eating healthy foods and both my granddaughters could have been playing outside daily vs being cooped up in those tiny NYC apartments.

Stupid, is beyond a word to understand.

All my neighbors have their families up with them. But no, not my adult kids! They like doing things the most difficult way. Oh well. I’ll keep you posted.

Posted in Health and Wellbeing, Living Life, Pandemic

Pandemic Fatigue

I’m tired of the coronavirus. I’m tired of wondering if this is the day I am going to get infected? Is this the day, the week, the month that I am going to die? I’m tired of cooking. I’m tired of cleaning. I’m tired of gardening. I’m tired of food shopping in a strange and bizarre way (in a face mask and gloves while keeping 6 feet away from my fellow shopper) I’m tired of Trump. I’m tired of Biden. I’m tired of Cuomo. I’m tired of the news, social media and anything that has to do with China. I’m tired of being threatened each and every time I attempt to talk about politics. I’m tired of Facetiming with my kids and grandkids. I’m tired of crying over my brother’s covid-19 death. I’m tired about constantly thinking about money. I’m tired of constantly thinking about retirement. I’m tired of ‘pretending’ that all is right in the world because it’s not!

I think the reality of everything is starting to hit me.

There is no solace. There is no escape. The reality is just there and you just have to deal with it. I think what I’m currently embroiled in is honest-to-goodness depression. I still can manage to get out of bed in the morning, providing the morning starts at noon time. I can’t sleep at night because once the TV and the noise is turned off, I’m just there with my thoughts and depression. Usually it’s a good time to say my prayers but what’s the use? I have prayed every night for God to watch over my entire family and to keep all of them safe. Guess He forgot about one, didn’t He?

There have been three suicides in my area last week. Two people jumped off different bridges. One was so well planned, the man brought a ladder to the edge of the railing to make sure he could climb high enough so he could jump off. The third suicide was a gunshot to the head.

We’re all not in the same boat. All our experiences are different. Some may have lost their jobs. Some may have lost money in the stock market. Some may have lost their loved ones. No one else can understand what you are going through except yourself. I know it’s OK to feel sad, lonely and helpless. But for how long? When will this pandemic fatigue be over? Will I ever be ‘me” again?

What I (we) need is hope.

Find the hope

This may sound impossible during a difficult time, but rather than think, “This is the rest of my life,” take it day by day or week by week. Take a step back and see there is reason to be hopeful. For example, in Wuhan Province in China, where the outbreak began, the reported number of new cases has dropped significantly and on some days has been zero, thanks to quarantining measures. Stores and factories are beginning to reopen. By seeing solutions that worked for those communities and continuing to take serious precautions, we are increasing the chances that the future is not as hopeless or extreme as we fear.

For individuals feeling the financial impact of the coronavirus, a silver lining may be especially hard to find during this time. Try to adjust your mindset: If you’ve lost work, rather than seeing this as a permanent situation, think of it as the time in between returning to work. Once the pandemic emergency is over, there will be pent-up demand — everyone will be eager to go out to restaurants and travel, so many of those jobs will be there again. (Click here for more info)

Posted in Finance, Living Life, Retirement

You Have To Live Each Day As If You’re In A Crisis.

If there is one thing I have learned from the recession of the late 1970’s, the stock market crash of 1987, the dot com disaster of 2000, the bombing of the World Trade Centers in 2001, The Great Recession of 2008 and The Great Soon-To-Be-Pandemic-Depression of 2020, is that there have been more bad times in my life than good times. Like duh? YOU haven’t figured that out yet?

Let’s forget about the fact that I’ve lived through some harrowing financial occurrences. Let’s just take The Great Recession of 2008, barely twelve years ago. Almost everyone went through some semblance of a bad financial upheaval. I find it very difficult to believe that when the good times finally rolled in around 2016, people didn’t take a percentage of their new-found wealth and sock some money away for another calamity (because as we all know there’s always a new calamity right around the corner?)

I also find it very difficult to believe that barely two weeks after this current pandemic hit, there were hundreds and hundreds of people, all lined up in their SUVs (while talking on their $1,000 cell phones) waiting for food handouts? Why didn’t these people have at least some semblance of a savings account to pay for their food? Their rent/mortgage? Their utilities? What were they thinking during these past industrious, illustrious four fantastic, profitable years? Salaries were up. Minimum wage laws were being passed. The stock market was roaring. People were making money hand over fist.

Could it have been possible that no one, and I do mean NO ONE learned anything from the financial horrors of 2008? What was true back in 2008 is still true to this day: almost no one has $400 cash to their name to get them out of a calamity (click here)! 78% of people are still living paycheck to paycheck despite all the warnings and their life experiences (click here).

There are no excuses. Even if you had put away a measly $5 per week back in 2016, you would have been able to save $1040 over the last four years. Financial Guru, Dave Ramsey says all of us should have at least a thousand dollars put away for a calamity.

Isn’t any one out there sick and tired and tired and sick of all these constant, constant upheavals to your financial bottom lines? Isn’t anyone sick of it as much as I am? When are YOU going to do something about it? There’s no reason in the world why you have to live this way. If you live your life as if every single day is a crisis then when a crisis really hits, you’ll be prepared AND you won’t hardly even notice any shock to your bottom line!

I finally learned my lesson in 2000, right after the Dot Com disaster. Talk about a wake up call! I realized at that time that my entire life and lifestyle were rented. I was deep in debt and sick and tired of the whole thing. These problems were caused by no fault of my own. Just the way the pandemic is hitting people now. Business owners are losing through no fault of their own. Employees are without jobs through no fault of their own. How do you take control of a bad situation and make it any good? My only salvation was my home. Not a bank account. Not money. My home was my ticket out. It was located in a rich neighborhood and as we all know, the rich ALWAYS has money. I put my home of 16 years up for sale and it sold in 5 hours. Yup. You read that right: five hours. Thankfully, hubs and I never borrowed out the equity so we had enough cash reserves built up so that we could start our lives over again, someplace new and someplace cheaper….without any debt.

Not having any debt and living as close to the bone (as if you’re in a constant crisis) has been our saving grace ever since. Our friends used to laugh at us when we built our new home for cash and without a mortgage. While we suffered our friends taunted us and told us to stop our silliness, take out a mortgage and live a little. In 2008, these same friends lost their own homes. Who’s laughing now?

I was also able to buy two newish cars for cash and had enough equity left over to put the remaining cash into CD accounts. I don’t invest substantially in Wall Street. I’ve seen too many people destroyed by Wall Street over the years to ever trust it. Today is no exception. I’ve seen people who had a million dollars invested, to suddenly lose over $250,000 (and counting). That’s a tough loss to accept when you are retired.

I have noticed that each time a financial calamity hits, hubs and I find ourselves poorer and poorer. Over the years, our frugal skills have successfully kept us in some semblance of a lifestyle. Each year we learn to live on less but as my husband reminds me “at least we’re living“. The pandemic has disrupted our retirement plans (what else is new?). Hubby had to take his Social Security now rather than wait another few years, which would have resulted in a larger monthly benefit. Nonetheless, now burdened with a smaller benefit check, he and I have had to learn, yet once again, how to successfully live on less. And less. And less.

We’re going from two cars down to one. We’re trading in both our cars for one newish vehicle (that must be able to tow our RV yet look ‘stylish’ enough on our plain days). With one cell phone paid for, we’re going down to that one cell phone. We’ve eliminated all paid-for TV services and installed an antenna. We have Amazon Prime and adhere to their offerings and nothing else. We put in a vegetable garden and will can our tomato harvest this fall into hopefully 24 jars of marinara sauce! We’ve eliminated all RV traveling except winter in Florida. That part is non-negotiable (already sent in our returnable deposit for 2021).

95% of our money is in safe, FDIC accounts. The remaining 5% was “invested” in the S&P500, which as soon as it returns to as close as to what we started out with, we will be quickly withdrawing said funds and putting it all back into FDIC accounts. I don’t care about interest rates and keeping up with inflation. Frugality helps us keep up with inflation! Do less. Spend less. And live more.

Since I always stockpiled foods and supplies (i.e toilet paper) this pandemic didn’t find us short on anything. Anything else we needed, we had the cash to buy it. Sometimes at prices so gauged on Amazon (like for yeast or dried beans) it would have made your head spin. No matter. We have the cash to buy whatever it is we need. It’s called ‘a savings account’.

Since we have no debt, no car loans, no student loans, no personal loans, no mortgage or equity lines of credit (note: we do have a small loan on our RV but we have no qualms turning it in if we can’t make the payments. It’s a non-essential item) It only costs us $569 a month to live in our home. This includes taxes, insurance, maintenance, heat and electricity. Where can anyone go and live for just $569 a month? That is why we stay here. For as long as we want.

If something should happen to our Social Security benefits or if hubby’s pension is eliminated, we have enough cash reserves to see us till we are 94 years old. That’s fine with me! We have NO intention of ever going in to a nursing home or assisted living arrangement. Haven’t you heard? They’re unsafe now for anyone over the age of 65. Call it an instant death trap. I want to live out my life just like my dad did: in his own home, with a paid-for live in assistant who attended to his needs. My dad’s living arrangements were overseen by my sister to make certain everything was done properly. Trust no one other than yourself!

Which gets us back to America. We have become a land of non-believers. We trust and believe in nothing anymore. We live in the land of hate. So much so, that many people do not even believe we are in the middle of a pandemic crisis. Why then would people so callously toss aside their own life safety and the life safety of others by callously breaking the social distancing laws, the wearing of mask coverings, hand washing and engage in such mind-bending, un-safe behavior such as this:

Personally, I think we are all doomed unless there is a vaccine. Eventually, without a vaccine, most of us will become sick and die. Especially for those over the age of 65 and most vulnerable. The young may recover but there is no guarantee they will not become infected yet once again once their immunity runs out. Rather than change with our brave new world, most people want things to be the way that they used to be. They don’t realize or can not accept that life as we knew it isn’t coming back anytime soon. We can’t congregate in large numbers for the time being. We can no longer shop, eat in our restaurants, have large weddings, large parties, travel safely in airplanes, take vacations like we used to.

Get over it!

Even myself, when I think this pandemic is over rated, I have to remind myself that my own dear brother died from the coronavirus. And he was a retired doctor who took the necessary precautions! He traveled to NYC for a specialist doctors visit and somehow caught the contagion. He died a very painful, agonizing death within the month! Never to see his wife, his children, his grandchildren ever again. No funeral. No memorial. His body was cremated. We never saw him again!

If you have about an hour, I would suggest you watch this interview between PBS Frontline and the famous pollster Frank Luntz, as to how America has come to such a hateful and un-trusting divide. The interview was conducted on January 13, 2020, right before the pandemic was known to just about everybody. At the end of the interview, Luntz breaks down and cries when asked how he saw the future of America. Luntz knows. Luntz knew. We’re all going to be destroyed by our own hatred of each other. There is no kindness in America anymore. No kind word. No respect. No trust.

This pandemic will be the straw that broke the camels back.

Until then, hubby and I are content to shelter in place. We very rarely leave our property. We take the necessary precautions. We reside inside the internet as our sole means of social support. Realistically, it’s only a matter of time before our whole world collapses right in front of our eyes.

Until then, live your life as if each day is a crisis. It’s the only way you’re going to survive.

Posted in Health and Wellbeing, Living Life, Retirement

Sunday In The Park With Cindi

What better way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon than in an upstate park just bordering on the Hudson River? And what better name to name a town such as I described than ‘Hudson’? We spent a lovely afternoon, sitting on a park bench, having our packed lunch and simply watching a plethora of boats go by.

For one brief moment, we didn’t remember what was going on in the ‘outside’ world. Just simply at peace with all the other avid boaters. A great day for the soul.

Posted in Food and Entertainment, Health and Wellbeing

The “Quarantine 15” Is Real!

I did something this morning that I haven’t done in months. I got on the scale and weighed myself. Not good. Not only have I gained the “Quarantine 15” pounds but I socked on another ten pounds on top of it all. Talk about comfort foods! I super indulged in a carbohydrate frenzy that could have sent Mr. Potato Head to the moon and back.

Girl! You got some serious ‘splaining to do!

I’ll admit that when the pandemic first hit, I went on a food shopping frenzy. When our own local supermarket went on the fritz and it was deemed unsafe for the over 65 crowd to venture out and food shop, I went on an Amazon buying frenzy. Forget home delivery. We’re too rural to qualify. I contacted neighbor friends who were homesteading farmers who in turn oversold me on slabs of beef, fresh eggs, Wisconsin cheeses, pork and beef salamis and full fat dairy products! I ate everything in sight because I thought I needed to bulk up for future food shortages. I thought my body would live off it’s own fat content should the pandemic turn off the chow spigots.

It took awhile but our local grocery store has settled into a nice routine. Deliveries are steady and as long as they limit quantities (2 or 4 per customer of their most popular items) there will be food for all! But in the interim, I made a truckload of mac & cheeses, lasagna, southern-fried chicken cutlets and pulled butt pork sandwiches in my slow cooker more times than I can count. Most of these dishes I ate in a day vs sparingly over a week. Truthfully, I thought I was going to die so why not die full, fat and happy?

Wrong.

Now I have to pay the pandemic piper. When I tried on my summer shorts, they didn’t fit. And here’s why:

Do you see any green salads in that photo mix? Or perhaps a fat free plain jane yogurt? Didn’t think so. I was having grits and cheddar cheese (with a big pat of butter) almost every morning. Don’t ask me how this Italian girl somehow got the urge to indulge in Southern Comfort, but that’s what I did. I couldn’t fit in to my size 14 shorts (which is a big size to begin with!) I had to up the ante to a size 18! This problem is getting serious y’all right now. Ditto for my bra! I could not get on my old bra. I had to up the band and cup size to a number I’m too ashamed to share with you at this time.

Most everything is still closed here. The community pool will NOT be opening this summer. Nor will the indoor college pool accept any non-students this term. The lakes are closed along with their respective beaches. Some hiking trails are open but they’re crowded with city folk who snuck up here in the dead of night and are hiding out with their kin folk. Ditto for the biking trails. Two’s company but 19 people is stadium sports crowd.

The other day I made myself chocolate pudding pie! Can you imagine? I haven’t had a chocolate pudding pie since the 1970’s. I didn’t even think I could find the ingredients to make a chocolate pudding pie (with whipped creme) but I did.

My behavior has to stop. Now.

Yes. I used to order Milano cookies from Amazon, 6 bags at a time!

So, I’m on a diet. I started it today. Which was perfect timing because my candy haul was just about running out. The Milano cookies are long gone. I actually filled my kitchen table center fruit bowl with fruit! (yuck). It’s summer time now and the kitchen cooking has been put on hold. I’ll be grilling lean meats and preparing more salads (double yuck!) and hopefully by the end of the summer, I’ll be eating my own fresh produce.

But before I go (on a diet) I had one last fling. After all, it is a holiday weekend!

Two uncured bratwurst, BBQed with all the trimmings for old times sake.
Posted in Homesteading, Retirement

When The Best Place To Go For Memorial Day Is Your Own Back Yard

There won’t be any parade in my Small Town USA this year. All I can show you are photos from previous years. There won’t be any picnics. No cookouts. No BBQs. No family over. No friends over. No where to go except hang out in the back yard. One more Time. Another day. Alone. Forgotten.

The only place to be right now, this Memorial Day, is in my own back yard, on my own deck. Enjoying the weather, happy to be alive for another day.