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Sunday, March 15, 2015

I Journal

I have been writing the autobiography of my life as it goes along...  I didn't really start until the last 20 years or so and I don't do it every day and I don't even write on every page in my journal.

I have even gone back to previous years to fill in some empty spaces. I call my journal ODD BITS, so somewhere near the beginning of each notebook I create a title page, drawn or copied or glued but always with the name and year...



I have been told that a proper journal only has words...  I tried that for 2012.  Recently I pulled out that journal to re-read some of it (I do that often with past journals) So when my husband says "how do you remember this stuff?"  I don't tell him I was just reminded of the event/incident because I re-read it...

Anyway, because I had attempted to "do" a proper journal, I realized while I was going through it, that there were quite a bit of empty spaces!  Did I leave those spaces or empty pages knowing the journal would be dissatisfying and that it needed something?  or did I just not have so much to say.



This weekend I have been adding the ODD BITS 2012 and I thought I would show you the enhancements!

Now, this journal was given to me at Christmas 2011 by my cousin Peggy and she suggested (she gave journals to 3 other of my cousins, too) that we write in the journals the things that we are Thankful for through the Year...  



I not only wrote down some of the thankful things but I also looked for a quotes about gratitude or thankfulness for each Month.

I have added photos from my family files -- I use photo corners so they can be removed if necessary -- but mostly the photos I have added are from many many years ago and generally they are copies or pictures of people that most others in my family have totally forgotten, but then here they appear and maybe someone someday will say "hey! I didn't know that!"  Like this next photo of my father's sister...


I always like to add a Christmas card or two because it is such a special memory to go back in older journals and see the card that my grandmother sent me in the 1970's, or cards that my dad gave me for my birthday...


And even though everyone I know, knows that I really enjoy sewing, I figure a little reminder of my favourite things  doesn't hurt at all -- especially when that includes a bit of information that I included my hobby into earning some money by operating a ETSY store...


And Vintage sewing things!  Some things have been in my sewing cupboard for many years -- some of these things aren't even in general use anymore...
So maybe these kind of snap closures would be a bit of education for someone at some point...


And then I pull out my pencil crayons just to get some colouring in...
I discovered that coloring books for adults is a fairly new thing.  So because I am frugal -- or perhaps just plain cheap -- I had the idea that old embroidery patterns that can be found in 2nd hand stores make for interesting adult colouring subjects -- just iron on, except onto the journal page and COLOUR IT!  Fun....


I like to think, that someday when someone reads through these journals it won't get boring with only words that try to describe a Day in the Life of Susan, but as has been said "Every Picture tells a Story" and perhaps they will...

There is something quite special about creating a hand written journal that just can't happen with a BLOG -- mainly because in a personal journal like that you can YELL a people you love, without hurting them or you can HUG them without feeling a sort of embarrassment that those of us who just are not good at Hugs  but can do privately in a journal....
And you can give details about your life that even though you have shared them verbally, when written, if important are not then forgotten completely in a week or two.


Monday, March 2, 2015

2015's First Sewing Project -- Picnic Table Cloth in progress

Whoa!  It seems like it has been forever since I uncovered the Janome and pulled out a stack of fabric!

My sewing machine is set up in my living room, right next to my TV and because of that I look at the sewing machine as often as I look at the TV, but I have not been motivated to turn on the sewing machine in MONTHS!

In 2012, I spent the whole summer cutting much of my older fabrics into 3.5 inch squares and I made 12 quilts that summer and donated all of them to local charitable groups --- but would you believe I still have two shoe box size containers jam-packed full of squares still on my shelves?

So this project actually meant, I have not had to cut any fabrics....  I spent a couple of hours picking through the many ready cut squares and decided to go with a variety of reds along with alternate white cotton that originally was a cotton sheet that I picked up at one of the thrift shops...


So I got busy sewing the variety of reds to all the whites -- I didn't bother to count, I just sewed, then the two patches became 4 patches and then 6 patches.... And time to pull out the iron and press all those blocks, nicely -- turned out there were 39!  That would really be an odd shaped project so I sewed one more, but then it turned out I decided to use only 36 anyway!



 It became time to make a decision...  I pulled out from a drawer full of narrow strips also long ago cut "just because" and proceeded to add black sashing to the 6 blocks...


Not finished yet, but laid out so far, I am thinking this will make a nice picnic table cloth for the little daytime outings my hubby and I take along with a few sandwiches and a couple of cans of pop so we may gather up the FRESH AIR AND SUNSHINE from some of the lovely wild places here in the Fraser Valley...


Hope to have the table cover finished in a few days...  I am thinking that I may at a "pocket" onto the back so that it can fold up into itself like the old Quillow designs of 15 or 20 years ago.... Hmmm, and maybe a pocket for disposable plates and forks and knives...   That's a thought.   Well, have to wait to see how it progresses...

Well, now, the sun is up and shining and I am feeling like it is a good morning to take a bit of a stroll out and about my neighbourhood.

And Linking up with the Needle and Thread Network


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Retirement Bump -- Low Income in Canada

Even though I have not worked for someone else for over 10 years, my husband has, and for the past 6 years that employment has been 2 part time jobs, because as I said in my previous post, early in 2009 the company he had worked for simply shut down after their second declaration of bankruptcy.  The first time they declared bankrupty in the early '90s they worked through it and continued to operate, but the problems in the US financial system and their poor business practices took them down in 2008...

But, hey, that was almost 7 years ago and we did not loose our house and I have to thank my Parents for that.   Not that they meant to help out, because I am sure they would have let us drown if they had a say.  It was through inheritance from them that saved our bacon!

It was just pure luck...

I had alot of anguish over using money that my parents had worked years and years to accumulate -- using their savings and their home investment just to support me and mine -- but I got over it...   I could discuss for days my feelings about that whole episode, but at this point it just doesn't matter anymore -- other than it caused a major rift between myself and a sibling -- but even that makes no difference in my daily life.

So anyway, onto this topic of low income in Retirement.

In the early 1990's when my father first retired and started to redeem his RRSPs and pensions he discovered something that hurt him financially, it cost him a great deal of money in taxes and in reduced government pensions.   And again, luckily I learned from it.

My parents worked hard, probably harder even than my husband and I have done for all our working lives, but my Mother was the kind of person to look ahead and plan and my father did all the 'right' things to plan for security.  Saving money, being frugal, doing without, putting money into RRSPs.  In fact they did without things so they could contribute to RRSPs...

And you reading this think they did the right thing, don't you?  Well, it turned out not!  

Saving for retirement using RRSPs turns out to be a bad idea for POOR PEOPLE!   Well, to put it very simply if you are low income, you are better off paying the tax on your income as you earn it because essentially the tax is less.   For low income earners you are better off to find other ways to save AFTER TAX income.  Buy Canada Bonds, use your banks GIC's or other Term Deposits and actually try to avoid pension plans unless they are AFTER Tax savings plans.

Now I know you are wondering about that and I can point you to a PAPER written by John Stapleton that is available as a PDF file at this link: Open Policy Ontario

It applys to Low Income Canadians and right off says that advice you hear or get from financial advisers mainly applies to mid to high income earners.   READ THIS PAPER!  If you are in your 40's and just starting to think about retirement saving and both partners in a marriage work but still you earn less than 60,000 a year, READ THIS PAPER!  

If you are past your 40's and still have no RRSPs and are low income, even if you just never got to putting money into those plans you are On the Right Track -- except do save money in other ways as I said earlier...

Now, contrary to advice by the experts I am sure you are wondering why I am telling you to keep away from RRSP's, eh?  (I had to put that "eh" in there just to remind you how CANADIAN this little blog is)

Back to what happened with my Parents and their RRSP contributions and Company Pensions...   Way back in the late 1970's the same thing happened to my Dad as what happened to my husband almost 40 years later.  The company my Dad worked for closed down and he was out of work at age 56!   And still with a pre- teen at home.   Strange how the same kind of things happen over and over!

My parents stuggled their way through it, they sold their house and put the money in high interest savings -- in the early eighties would you believe a bank account was earning 8% or more in GIC's or bonds?  They did the right thing in that case.  But they started to put money into RRSPS while working at low income jobs for 10 years until retirement.   Then it came time to retire....  Would you believe that because they had been so careful and so very frugal that when it came time to apply for their government pensions they were penalized and paid less because they had a good income from their RRSPs?   And of course not only that but as my parents drew the money from the RRSP's they had to pay a much higher rate of taxable income because the tax of course had not been paid on that income 20 years before.

You know how as you grow up, practically at any age, most of the advice you get from your parents is often sluffed off, because you think you know better, or you think times have changed and you know better?   Well, even though my Dad did not specifically tell me his financial troubles, I caught bits of it through the years and I listened and I applied what I learned.

It just seems so backwards to what the financial experts tell us, but because my savings were not in RRSP's (well actually we did have a small RRSP, that is paying out now at $100 a month for 5 years) we have an income higher than the past 5 years of my husband working two part time jobs!

We have got so used to low income that now with government pensions and that funny little extra that they call Guarranteed Income Supplement we are feeling almost RICH...

NOW go half way back up this blog and click on the link I gave you and Read it!  Here is a intro paragraph just to entice you to read and learn more about planning ahead if you are Low Income!

"Most financial advice fails to take into account the availability of the Guaranteed Income Supplement for low-income seniors. People eligible for the GIS need very different financial advice from what is normally heard on the radio, on television, or in magazines and newspapers. Some forms of private savings reduce GIS entitlement, while others do not. Advising a low-income person to save within an RRSP, for example, can be very bad advice. "

Hope this helps -- unless of course you plan to win a lottery very soon, then none of this matters!

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Retirement Bump

There are thousands of blogs about quilting and about crochet...

Not so many about Retirement.

Is there such a thing as Retirement for the working poor?  

I have been trying to learn a bit about how retirement affects people -- in this case, ME and my spouse...

In 40+ years of marriage, we have always earned our way, always had jobs, never jobs that 'paid well' though.   Jobs that you learned on the job, or bluff your way though til you got the hang of where to put which box on which shelf, or what kind of truck could handle what kind of load...  Important stuff but stuff that people who want things never notice.  Did you ever think about how the things you buy, got to the place where you bought it?

That's the kind of work my Man did all his working years, load, unload, stack, clean, and then when he was able to call himself a shipper/receiver added to the job was telling which truck where to unload and when...

Did you ever think about the waitress who served you dinner?  When do you think she or he got to have dinner?  Work from 5pm to 1am made it seem like I was a 'stay at home" Mom to my neighbours or to my children's teachers...  I was not.   I did not take a 'daytime' job until my son's were in high school.  I never paid for daycare -- I could not imagine going to work to pay someone else almost as much as I earned, so I raised my own kids everyday, and my husband gave them his time every evening...

And me, I worked as a waitress and bartender until I was in my mid thirties and went back to school and became a specialist in records management and a bookkeeper-- I could file stuff really well in big rich offices of accountants or lawyers and I could enter numbers in categories on computers...  Cleaner work but didn't pay much better than a bartender making good tips...

So, that is the basic background...  I suspect a poor man's retirement will not be too much different than a poor man's working life.

Everything that I read on the internet or in blogs about Retirement is how to manage and use One's investments...  What investments?   Or  travel destinations One might consider...  Disneyland was a dream that drifted away when I was 12 years old and at 62 I have no desire to shake hands with Mickey Mouse or ride a glitzed up fairway roller coaster that costs 40 bucks...  or spend two days wages to see a hockey game...  I have got used to the simple things and the free things

Okay, so now we know that financially most things written about retirement does not apply to the people who worked all their lives in those minimum or barely above minimum paying jobs...

If you have read this far --- here's how you might tell if anything I am saying is of interest to you...  My Man and I think we are quite well off now that our retirement income each month just about touches $2000.

I think there are more people in this 'category' that the TV ads or media of any time really want to let you know about.

I am common.  Very common.   I actually consider myself to be quite lucky considering all the years of living financially on the edge.  I know when i don't need certain things, though every now and then when i have a few extra dollars I easily fall into the trap of wanting something and then discovering after I have it, that is it just another thing and why did I get it?

How about you?  Is retirement something that you planned for financially or are saving for so you can use your free time for the things that the TV ads tell you you should be doing?  Or is your finances just something that is happening and any retirement savings are happening because you company has a pension plan?   Do you look forward to your retirement?

I am going to write every now and then about the things that affect LIFE for US as we progress or maybe I should say PLOD through these years...

ONE thing that I do expect although I can't say I feel that I am guaranteed any security, is that in today's Canada, whatever occurs in this low income retirement section of my life, I don't think I will starve or have to sleep in a tent at the side of a railway track.

Let's see how the week goes, eh!


Monday, February 16, 2015

Where I am...

Ever since I was a child I knew that other places in the world had an image of Canada as a place of ice and snow and often desolation...

I have cousins who live in the southern USA and I remember they came up to where we lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba and one of my cousins kept saying that where we lived looked alot like where they lived!  Mind you, they did visit in August when the wheat fields were all golden and the land and sky just never did end...  Except maybe for a big oak or cottonwood tree off in the distance.

I love where I live.  As a child my home was where my parents were and where they had grown up and where my grandparents grew up and even their parents grew up...  My genetic line has been in Canada for a long time, as far back as the country builders of Canada and some as far back or further than time was counted.   Some leaders and some just hard workers...  But that is a whole other story!

I now live about 100 kms east of the west coast -- in the Central Fraser Valley and rarely is there ice and snow and it is very hard to find a desolate place within driving distance!

I have a very hard time imagining being any other place.

I know that Where I Am is somewhat different than most of the rest of Canada. Here along the west coast we get weather effects brought from the south by the ocean currents and I certainly don't know the technicalities of it but what I do know is that it keeps us in much milder conditions that central or eastern Canada.

On Sunday morning, early I had a couple of errands to run and took along my camera


I was out quite early and a fog was still evident in some of the lower areas of town.   Unlike most other parts of Canada, there is no snow or ice on our streets...


In one of the neighbourhoods it was still very foggy, but again, no ice, no snow.


As the morning progressed and the fog began to lift and the sun touched some of the darker corners of the yards and houses, you could see the sparkle of dew on the grass and branches.  --- BUT no snow...


And even to me, a lovely surprise, when we came around a corner to see a sunny yard, and there, already in bloom was a Rhododendrum with its flowers lapping up the sunshine!

I am sorry that many others in this gigantic country are still struggling with the snow and terribly cold 'wind chill factors' and frozen icy roads and frost bitten noses...  But I love where I live!   I don't need a cruise to the Caribbean or a flight to Hawaii, or even a quick trip down to Vegas...  I have my own yard and neighbourhood to appreciate and love....   

Come visit me any year in Late February and be amazed and wonder why you still live in Winnipeg, or TO or anywhere east of the Rockies...

Mind you, not everybody can live here, there has to be someone left to look after the rest of the country!


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Not at all Dedicated...

Writing used to be fun... Quilting used to be fun... Crochet used to be fun...

As to the writing, now I mostly write by hand in a journal.  Apparently I over react -- well that's what I have been told.  But I don't sneak around or lie or keep secrets.  I talk too much and tend to make a short story long, but I like words so using too many words to say something simple is just what I do.

Oh and how I love quilting and sewing and creating things with colour and shape and movement and just plain making stuff...  But right now, and for almost a year, I have quiltmaker's block!  But I did buy a piece of red sheer something or another fabric the other day at Value Village and plan to make it into a infinity scarf.  I do like red, especially with big polka dots!

And crochet,  well, it doesn't seem to matter how much I enjoy making granny squares or afghans, or sweaters, or any of the many other projects possible...  Cuz, it seems I have developed a "repetitive muscle strain"   my doc doesn't want to call it anything else at this point, but he says I should not pick up or probably not even look at crochet patterns, crochet hooks, or even part done crochet projects for 4 to 6 weeks, then not do crochet for more than about 1/2 hour or so a day until I know if the muscle ache returns with use...

So being a person without a project, without a job, without much of any sort of goal, I am trying to find something to keep myself and my brain occupied.

At this point, I don't particularly like to wander, nor do I have easy access to places other than my street, but I think I will take up walking...   I do not want to have to walk with company tho.   I am afraid that my husband will intrude on my project.  I may have to be blunt and tell him to go away somewhere else and let me go for walks by myself.  I am starting today.

Maybe I will write about my little walk, later today.....