Friday, March 27, 2009

Projects

Finished a project and started another. Last night I put the last stitches into this shawl. I did not waste an inch of yarn. In the last row (the binding off row) I ran out before the end of the row and started to panic. Then I realized that I'd left quite a long end at the beginning of the project. I cut off as much as I could from that beginning end and added it to the end and managed to just finish with enough left to tie in so there won't be any unravelling. Sorry for the washed out pic. I couldn't quite get the photo by myself. I was in a hurry so I had Chuck try to take it while on a phone call. So, there was one pic with no second thoughts.



Here it is again, without the washed out middle aged model. It is on some cloth I found at Et cetera shop yesterday. 6 yards for around $6 dollars that will make a tablecloth and 12 napkins if I'm careful. I also found another piece that I will use for a couple dozen more napkins for every day use. Unfortunately my camera does not accurately capture the color of the cloth. It is not so pink and a bit more rust colored. It goes well with my corelle and my mismatched flatware.



The other project this week has been getting our account books completely up to date so that I can go back to trying to live with a budget. I like having a budget. Instead of constraint it feels more like an adventure, as long as it doesn't have to be impossibly tight.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Security

We met with a financial advisor today about our IRA investments. They have lost quite a bit of value---maybe a third?

The advisor said that he offers a free service of helping people identify their sources of retirement income. After doing this, he works with his clients to discern whether they have enough to maintain their current standard of living after retirement. They figure out a financial plan to reconcile the need with the reality.

We have not done a lot of retirement planning. When the advisor asked Chuck if he planned to start withdrawing from his IRA's in the next five years we both were surprised. I guess within five years he will have reached the age where he can do that without penalty.

This kind of discussion always brings up faith issues for me. Retirement, insurance, and other plans to make sure that my needs are always met take away a sense of being dependent on God. I don't know if God sees this as being a good steward to spend time figuring out how I can continue to live at my present standard of living after retirement. It would certainly keep me from being a burden to others, I guess.

But there is this risk taker side of me that wants to be more dependent on God. I think one of the real drawbacks of being part of a wealthy nation is that we have this sense of security that is based on our wealth, rather than on reality. We have paid to take away the risk of poverty. Our health insurance, car insurance, life insurance, and retirement plans all keep us insulated from that risk.

Of course, Chuck and I have all those things. We haven't pulled ourselves out of the system of security yet.

We did just change from standard health insurance to a health savings plan combined with a high deductible health insurance. It cuts our premiums down by half, and also gives us a bigger tax break and even in a worst case scenario, leaves us better off financially than our previous lower deductible policy. So it was a smart decision.

But what about not worrying about tomorrow? What about seeking first God's kingdom and righteousness and leaving the rest up to God? Does anyone do that who isn't forced to do it by economic necessity?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Vermont

We got home yesterday from a week in Vermont with Becca and Joseph. If was a good week with plenty of time to just hang out and enjoy each other. We met Mosely.




Mosely is a lively and sweet pug/rat terrier who is quite well behaved in the face of tremendous energy. He has this great thing he does with his head when people whistle.

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One of the things we did was take a trip to tour Ben and Jerry's Ice cream factory. That was fun, and we got to taste the ice cream---and we bought souveniers! Being a tourist stop, there are places to take pictures.



We also visited a cheese store and a chocolate store, and bought souveniers at both places, but did not take pictures.

We had a great time visiting Becca at work. This is the mixer she uses to make the artisan breads.



Here is a work table with bins of flour labeled underneath.



And here she is holding a loaf of bread on a peel (this big paddle made to remove things from deep ovens) in front of the huge oven they use for the breads and pizzas.



You can see three long doors in the oven---three levels of baking, all on brick, four or five feet to the back of the oven.

We got to see Joseph at work every day, because his main work space is at home with Mosely on his lap or at his feet.



We watched movies, watched Pushing Daisies episodes, played Dutch Blitz, and even a little wii!

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Here's a pic of Bec with Mosely on the couch where they cuddle.



And one last pic of Chuck with Bec by our rental car. We did some second hand store shopping together. Chuck went along and was very patient. He found this great leather jacket priced at $25, marked to 1/2 price. Doesn't he look great!