“If You’re Ever in New England in the Fall”

I was born in Iowa, but for the first decade of my life I lived in upstate New York. My dad was on staff at two different Bible colleges during that time. We spent the summer months in Iowa on Grandma’s farm, but headed back to New York before school started.

Adirondack Mountains

There were several families on staff and we children, called “Campus Kids,” hung out together. The first college was in a small town and we spent most of our time on the playground at the end of the football field.

But the second college was smack dab in the middle of the woods on the edge of Adirondack park. It was a former convent with tunnels linking the buildings. It had been empty of humans for years, but the raccoons, mice, and birds made up for it.

We moved there before it officially opened with the President’s family. Those two men had to evict the animals and make sure the buildings were ready for winter.

When the rest of the staff and students arrived, we met more “campus kids.” My favorite times were when the entire group of kids would go play in the woods. Basically, that meant we climbed a steep incline to get to a trail that went around the property.

There were so many of us that we made a lot of noise and never once encountered a deer or bear. We did see snakes, but avoided them. We would walk the trail, past the water tower, until we reached the football field.

It was amazing how hot it was walking across that meadow. Then we would go into the trail on the other side. It went past the spring house. We would be thirsty by then and would drink from the spring using our cupped hands as glasses.

That spring was fed from snow on top of the mountain and it was so cold your teeth would hurt if you drank too much. During the hottest weather, we might wade in it for a few minutes, but not too long, because our feet would turn blue.

The water was always fresh and chlorine free. We thought nothing of drinking water off of the ground. We would meander the rest of the trail until it circled back to the other side of the property and it would lead us back to the building where we started.

For entertainment, my dad would load up the family and we would take a car ride. I didn’t appreciate the colors of the changing trees on the mountainsides until I could no longer drive by them. Dad would look for castles and waterfalls.

Our favorite castle was a circle of rocks, with a partial wall and a rock fireplace. The rest of it had crumbled. He never let us go up in the turret. I think it was built as a lookout.

The waterfalls were beautiful and cold! We looked at them, but didn’t swim in the pools.

When asked where I would like to visit on a map, it is always to return to the Adirondacks…Niagra Falls, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Utica.

Of course, I hope my trip is in the autumn.

My sister, Michele, standing in front of our favorite falls in 1977.

My sister, Michele, standing in front of our favorite falls in 1977.

 

The Phrase I Don’t Want to See…

“Please Refresh Your Facebook Connection!”

This is my most dreaded message because I have 650 followers on Facebook and only 120 on WordPress.com. These are friends, relatives, and new friends that read my posts on my Facebook page “Frugal Fish.”

Yesterday, I went to a family reunion. I was pleased when Aunt Sue stopped me to tell me she was still enjoying my posts. I was shocked when my cousin Randy, who is advanced in technology, told me the same thing. I wasn’t even sure which blog to which they were referring, but I didn’t care.

This morning when I opened the “New Post Page” and saw the dreaded message, I knew I wouldn’t publish a post until it was fixed. I hit that refresh button ten times over a half an hour. I prayed for a few minutes and then decided to delete the connection and reload it.

Thank God, that worked. I didn’t want to miss my biggest fans!

Facebook has a competitor when it comes to sharing my frugalfish.org posts. When I read through my stats I found that Pinterest was ahead by almost 50 shares, see pinterest.com/frugalfish.

I laughed when I saw there was almost 200 shares from MySpace. I haven’t checked that account for over a year!

No matter how you found my blog, I’m glad you are here; and I hope you find something that will help you stretch your dollars!

“The Lies Women Believe”

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

— Marcus Tullius Cicero

“The Lies Women Believe” is a book that changed my life. It’s sad the lies we fall for when we were children, as www.marquessamatthews.com lamented in an earlier post. I shared her top ten lies here.

We carry some lies, or add new ones, when we reach adulthood. The book lists 22 lies that we use to beat ourselves up. We go around in circles thinking we are not good enough.

We diet, exercise, dress fashionably, acquire degrees, and take high stress jobs to be good enough. We mimic others trying to make ourselves worthy of love. We are already worthy of love.

The biggest change for me had to do with relinquishing control. I am a bookkeeper and I am good with money. When we got married, my husband said I should handle the family finances.

The thought struck me four years ago that I could die first. My husband had no clue about the passwords and where money was invested.

The book recommended giving the responsibility of the family finances to your husband. This was not a new concept to me. He took over the finances when we first married, but his promised paycheck was delayed and a few checks bounced. I assumed that meant I was to keep the finances.

I decided to give it to him permanently a few years ago. Oh the arguments we had! It was easier to let me handle the money than to learn Quickbooks. But he did.

He thought of ways to increase our interest that I had not thought of and I started sleeping at night instead of worrying about money. We set the budget together and I know how much I can spend in each category.

I am a saver and he is a spender. Since he took over the finances I have been:

  1. On a scenic train trip.
  2. Spent a day at the Iowa State Fair.
  3. Took a Steamboat Dinner Cruise.
  4. Bought a van with cash.

He has accompanied me on those trips and went to two St. Louis Cardinals games and two Iowa Hawkeye games.

I did not accompany him to those for obvious reasons.

(I hate sports.)

Another Sleepy Saturday in a Small Town

6:15 a.m. “If you don’t go to pancakes with Mommy, you can’t go to the Iowa Hawkeyes game with Daddy.”

Pancakes are served by the Kiwanis Club on “Kid’s Day.” They set up a tent on one side of the town square and serve: buttermilk pancakes, sausage, coffee, and milk.

College boy wasn’t sure if he was going to get up and go with us or not. We planned to meet our daughter at 6:45 am before she had to work. They start serving at 6 am and have a steady business until mid afternoon.

It is a time to see other people from town and my husband knew all of them. He grew up in this town of 10,000 and he also knows their kids, parents, and grandparents.

Because I was housebound for several years, I don’t even recognize my friends. Everyone is a little older and grayer. That is what happens after a decade.

The tickets to the Iowa Hawkeye Game were sold to us from some friends who couldn’t go at the last-minute. College boy was already up.

(They also have a parade and petting zoo at “Kid’s Day.”)

9:45 a.m. “Do you want to go to the parade with us?”

I declined because I had just started my daily writing. (Yes, I write 7 days a week for my other blog.)

They met at my in-laws who live near the parade route. There are various floats and children decorate bicycles to ride in the parade. Some kids dress up as characters that fit the theme and walk behind the bicycles.

The horses are last for obvious reasons!

I used to ride in the parade with the kids from the preschool and daycare where I was the bookkeeper. The year that sticks out in my mind was when the theme was “Pajama Party.” Of course, I wore my long flannel nightgown and my boss liked it so much that she made me stand up in the center holding an oversize baby bottle.

I didn’t care because I am such a ham!

1:00 p.m. “We had better leave now for “Relay for Life” because it has already started.”

My daughter-in-law, (4), is very active in “Relay for Life.” Her mother is the organizer and they have a team that raises money. I lost my mother-in-law to cancer and just last month we lost an uncle.

I had already ordered luminaries for them. We arrived just as the opening exercises ended and we were invited to take our first lap. We walked with our son and his family.

Our local credit union had a train for the kids to ride in made from painted barrels. My granddaughter didn’t want to ride alone and I volunteered. We went the length of the road and then turned around in the grass.

I sang, “Bumpity, bump, bump, look at Frosty go” as we went over the uneven ground. My granddaughter laughed because I was singing a Christmas song in September.

Then it was time for games. She had to move water from one bucket to another using only a sponge. When time was running out, Mr. Frugalfish bumped the bucket to dump the rest of her water.

Kortney, the organizer, who was running the kids games, said, “Nice try, Grandpa, but it is the amount of water in these buckets that count.” She didn’t win…even with her grandpa’s help.”

All too soon, it was time to go because the men had an hour drive to the Hawkeye game. My daughter-in-law told me she would run me home if I stayed, but I told her I couldn’t.

2:30 p.m. I am making a grocery list and menus. The best sales are not until tomorrow and that is why I procrastinated until today to make the list. (Dumb.)

3:30 p.m. I turned on “The Prisoner of Zenda” on TCM to watch while I ironed. It took the entire movie. We didn’t have a TV when I was growing up. I am seeing these old movies for the first time. It sure helped the ironing to go faster. (Another chore I procrastinated on doing.)

6:00 p.m. I’m eating leftovers for two reasons: (1) I don’t like to waste food, and (2) I don’t like to cook when I am home alone.

7:15 p.m. My sister-in-law texts me to see if I want to go to the luminary ceremony at “Relay for Life.” (Of course!)

We leave a few minutes later and I am disappointed with the number of luminaries. Everything seemed to be scheduled on the same day: “Kid’s Day,” “Relay for Life,” “Free Movie on the Square,” and half of the town goes to the Iowa Hawkeye games.

The auction was in progress when we arrived. I was shocked when a homemade quilt went for $25.00. A homemade pie sold for $130.00. (Next year I am making pie to auction off.)

There is a lot of good-natured joking going on during the auction because everyone knows each other. An item would come up for bid and people would yell out names of people they thought could use it.

I laughed when the final item came up…a pink bike, with a “big butt seat,” and a basket. My sister-in-law was hunched over furiously writing. (She was balancing her checkbook to see how high she could bid!) She didn’t get it, but we did have a lot of laughs.

There was a short concert and then they played “The Cancer Cha-Cha.” It sounds like “The Cha-Cha Slide,” but with different words. Neither my daughter-in-law, nor my sister-in-law were going to let me sit it out.

I did my best…honest. I just kept stepping backwards when they said, “Reverse.” I had a little trouble with right and left which amused my nephew to no end.

They lit the luminaries and we found the ones we purchased. I took pictures of them and posted it on Facebook for our relatives to see.

They listed the names of everyone in whose honor a luminary was purchased. Then we took the silent lap in honor of those who lost their battle to cancer. It was sobering and I wasn’t the only one tearing up.

By that time, my 4-year-old granddaughter, who had been there all day, was exhausted. I offered to take her to my house for a bath because we knew she would fall asleep on the way home.

9:45 p.m. “I don’t know why I can’t get the pink dye out of your hair.”

The theme at “Relay for Life” was the 80’s. They had those net-like gloves, funky glasses, and several ladies dressed the part. At one point my granddaughter got her hair dyed a few colors.

When her parents arrived, (they ran to the store to buy pajamas for her), I had most of the dye out.

I told my daughter-in-law, “I got the blue, yellow, and green dye out, but the pink is really stubborn.”

She replied, “They didn’t use pink.”

What! I was scrubbing the sunburn where her hair was parted.

Epic. Grandma. Fail.

11:30 p.m. “I’m tired of waiting up for the jocks.”

As I drift off to sleep, I hear the garage door open. The men are home from the game. It’s just another sleepy Saturday in a small town.

Luminaries from "Relay for Life."

Luminaries from “Relay for Life.”

 

You May Never Believe This…

You may never believe this…but I don’t want to be frugalfish. I want to be philanthropicfish. Stretching dollars was not something I chose to do, it was something I was forced to do.

My husband lost his job 3 months before our wedding. He didn’t want me to work at all. I was working as a nanny, and the plan was, until our wedding.

The plan failed.

We married in the middle of a recession and there were no jobs in our small town. He didn’t want to move. We took odd jobs and sold what we could. Between the two of us we had 10 sources of income: nanny, piano lessons, cleaning, mowing lawns, and other odd jobs.

We were frugal because we liked to eat.

You may never believe this…but I didn’t want to retire when I was 46. I know this sounds like a dream come true to most people, but I loved my job. The people I worked with were extended family. I had worked there for 24 years and hated stepping down because of my health.

I still wake up on the 10th of the month thinking, “The Gold Sheet” (A Financial Report) is due today. I haven’t filled out a “Gold Sheet” since 2007.

The children of my coworkers are frozen in time. I’m shocked when I run into them and they are no longer three…they are tweens and teens.

I planned on working until my death and I will…just not at that job.

You may never believe this…but I don’t color my hair. I always said they didn’t put this shade of mousey brown in a bottle. Since I am not in the sun much, it never lightens and is the same shade from root to tips.

I am lucky to have good genes. You should see my mother! People are shocked when she tells them her age. She looks 10 years younger!

Speaking of mom, on my 35th birthday she told me, “This is where we stop.” Yep, I caught up with Mom!

I admit there is some tinsel, but if I stay out of the sun, it doesn’t glitter.

You may never believe this…but I don’t mind staying in the house for days at a time. I have never had a problem with cabin fever. My record is 104 days straight when I was at my worst.

I don’t even take a big breath when I step outside. After all it is full of pollen. All of my favorite hobbies are indoor activities. I don’t need to go outside.

But I’m grateful for the internet…I have everything at the tip of my fingers.

“To the Neighbor Building a Fence” (A 50-Word Story)

Thanks for helping me to break my habit of sleeping in. The pound of a hammer on nails at seven worked better than any alarm. It punctuated my dreams. It’s not my favorite way to wake up; my favorite is when David brings me a cup of coffee in bed.

Adding a "Coffee Ice Cube" turns lukewarm or cold coffee into an iced Coffee!

Adding a “Coffee Ice Cube” turns lukewarm or cold coffee into an iced Coffee!

What I Do When I Am Not Writing…

If you followed me over the last 5 years, you would find there were many gaps. It could be a week or two between posts. Unfortunately, during those times I was sick in bed. I would read or watch TV while I recovered.

I pray those days are behind me and I have been able to write every day for some time. I try to schedule posts far enough in advance that I can skip writing for a week or so. Although that is not an option during the Writing 101 course!

My other blog, thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com, is easier to handle when I am going to be gone for a few days. I can pull a post from a previous year about the chapters we are reading that day. It is harder with frugalfish.org because I just don’t have that many ideas! They seem to come to me one at a time.

Taking this writing course has given me a nice break from writing about ways to stretch your money. Sometimes I think I have shared all of my ideas and a new one will pop into my head.

The one thing I need every day is to have time to read. Reading a book is how I hit my reset button.

I get some ideas from the foolish financial mistakes I read about in novels. I can escape and travel in a book. Since I have been reading mostly Debbie Macomber this month, I have been spending a lot of time in Seattle! Lol

I can experience adventure without the expense or danger! Reading about some characters makes me more grateful for my husband.

I love reading westerns. I’ve read all of Louis L’Armor and Zane Grey that our library has in stock. Those two authors not only give you a compelling story, you learn something in the process. Their cowboys survived with the stuff in the packs on their horses: coffee, bacon, beans, jerky, and biscuits.

I would love to live on a ranch and work from a horse. (I can hear my doctor gasping from across town.) A ranch is the last place I should ever be because of allergies.

But in a book, I can ride the horse or the bull and never sneeze once.

My coffee with frothed milk.

My coffee with frothed milk.

 

If We Were Having Coffee Right Now…

If we were having coffee right now…I would tell you I am frustrated with technology! I didn’t realize how popular I would become to hackers when I started writing blogs.

I jumped into the blogosphere with both feet. I even paid for a web site for one of them and was overwhelmed from the git go. I bought the book, “WordPress for Dummies” and forced myself to read a little bit every day. I learned a lot, but still hate the technical side of blogging.

I took an HTML class and learned enough to lock myself out of my web site three times. (Sigh.) After four years of frustration, I let the web site go and switched back to blog format. Now WordPress does the heavy lifting for me.

I don’t really like change. I am using the same email address that I set up in the 90’s. Today that email was hacked twice. I change my password every week and type out gibberish to use as a password.

Still they come.

When I went to the support page for my email, I was told it might be time to get a new email address. I don’t want to because I registered all of my warranties to that email and it is on my business cards. I don’t want to start over.

I have a backup email address from another provider, but I forget to check it.

My husband thought he was being sweet when he bought me a smart phone. I’ve wanted to throw it against the wall more times than I care to admit. I still hit the “caps” button when I want to type in a symbol!

I went without a cell phone for six years (see here) and never did get into texting. I’m usually home and I would rather screen my calls with the answering machine!

I was supposed to deal with today’s hackers this afternoon and I am embarrassed to admit I spent two hours playing Spider Solitaire instead. I guess I like the technology when it comes to games.

I wonder what email format other bloggers use?

 

 

An Open Letter to Tyler Sash

Dear Tyler Sash,

Since I hate sports, you know this is not a normal fan letter.

I won’t remember your athleticism as you beat our home team during playoffs when you were in high school. I won’t remember you wearing the black and gold of the Iowa Hawkeyes. I won’t even remember you as a Giant winning in the Super Bowl.

I will remember you as a good man.

You were pointed out to me at an Indian Hills Community College basketball game. I was told you were the brother of the assistant coach on the opposing team. Oh yeah…and you happened to be on the team that won the Super Bowl that year.

You wore a hat and did nothing to draw attention to yourself. It was all about your brother and his team that night.

But IHCC is a small community college and it didn’t take long for the entire crowd to know you were with us. After the game, I met the real Tyler Sash.

You greeted each person as if they were your greatest fan.

My husband and I brought over our son who was a college freshman. When your high school team played our high school team he was the ball boy. He got that coveted position because his dad had been running the chains for the local team for a couple of decades.

When I introduced him, you stepped forward and stuck out your hand as if you were meeting a celebrity. I asked for a photo and you put your arm around him and smiled as if you ran into a long-lost friend.

You were patient with me because I was unsure how to take a picture with my husband’s phone. I think it took three tries before I got that picture.

We stepped back and I watched as you greeted each person the same way. I saw the same wide smile captured on several other phones. You even looked around to see if anyone was too shy to approach you and nodded to encourage them.

You didn’t act like a celebrity that night. You acted like the friendly Iowan that you were.

It was appropriate that they laid you to rest on 9/11. That is the date so many lives were cut short in 2001. We will never forget them.

We are heartbroken that your life was cut short and we will never forget you.

Sincerely,

Frugalfish

Tyler Sash and my son, Derek.

Tyler Sash and my son, Derek.