Saturday, April 26, 2008

What Tulips?

This was the view that greeted me when I opened the kitchen curtains this morning.

Then Hairry insisted on going out.

Then I decided to brave the elements to take this picture of the 4 inches of snow on our AC cover.

It's supposed to keep snowing for the next 30 hours, with a predicted total of 6-12 inches of snow. Our back yard was already flooded from the 2 inches of rain we got on Thursday. This weather is NOT helping to melt the frost from the soil!

Last weekend I made a to-do list for this weekend. I wrote this list while L was grilling our delicious steaks in 60F weather. Included on my list were these items:

Wash and put away winter coats
Dry and put away winter boots
Move snowblower to shed
Change lawnmower oil

I'm sooo glad that we didn't do these chores last weekend!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Deficit Spending

The snow has almost disappeared from our yard, leaving several ponds in its wake. Now we're waiting for the 4 feet of frost to melt out of the ground, so this water can soak into the soil. The snow's disappearance meant we had grilled steak for dinner last night. Ambrosia!!

We normally go out for a char-broiled steak dinner a couple of times each winter. This winter, we couldn't afford any meals out....not even Hardees or Subway. Every restaurant in our small town is feeling the squeeze of our faltering economy, including the one we work at. Eating out is the first thing to go when budgets are tight.

We've been squeaking by with $300-$400 days at our restaurant. My Boss needs $500 days to show any kind of profit. That's right; we've been struggling to break even all winter! My shift generates over 2/3 of the days' sales. My tips run between 15-20% of our sales. This means that I've been bringing home $30-$50 in tips every day this winter. Our paychecks cover the $1250/month we pay for property taxes, utilities, garage loan, and insurance. My tips pay for food, clothing, vehicle maintenance, gas, and anything else that comes up. Our tax refund is always earmarked for home repairs. This summer we MUST replace the roof on our house!

This winter our insulated garage has paid for itself. We haven't had to warm up our vehicles once, not even on -30F days! We've managed to get by on 1/4 tank of gas, every 2 weeks. We used to burn a 1/4 tank every week during the winter. We've also saved on our electric bill by not having to plug in our vehicle's block heaters.

Now that spring has arrived, new necessities are popping up. Z can't continue wearing his winter boots outside, so he obviously needs a larger pair of shoes than he was wearing last fall. He also needs a new windbreaker for rainy days. Fortunately, his sweatshirt jacket still fits.

Last Monday, I made $34 in tips. My Avon order also arrived that day...$20 worth of sunscreen, deodorant, and the only hand/body lotion I'm not allergic to. Then, my fund-raising order from the local 4-H Club arrived...$15 was the lowest priced item. Profit for the day $-1.

Tuesday, Hairry had his annual heartworm appointment at the vet's office....$80 for the test and 6 months worth of heartworm meds. I made $40 in tips that day. There's another $40 in the hole!

Both of our vehicles are 2 months overdue for oil changes. In addition, L's car is leaking antifreeze.

Fortunately, I save up $700-$1000 each summer to cover my reduced tips in the winter. With the rising cost of groceries, that fund is down to $100 now. $50 of that will pay the co-pay on glasses for Z and I tomorrow.

It looks like L will be having his cataract surgery in June. His optometrist thinks they will have to operate on both his eyes at once. L has weird eyesight, which probably won't balance correctly if they operate on one eye at a time. I'm certain that this will involve time off from work. We're hoping that the eye surgeon that travels here will schedule the surgery here, so that I won't have to take a day off to drive L 100 miles to the surgeon.

Thank God we're debt free, other than the $6000 remaining on our garage loan! We do have savings put away, but I hate to dip into that fund. Our small town economy doesn't show any signs of improving in the near future, so I'd like to leave our savings intact.

Summers are usually a busier time of year here. However, tourism is dying. In the 26 yrs my Boss has owned the restaurant, tourism has declined a little more each year. People just don't take family fishing vacations anymore.

Business picks up a bit when the snowbirds return. I wish they'd stay home and support OUR economy in the winter! Rather than tourists, we now have a group of summer residents from the Twin Cities, Chicago, and other areas. These people have artificially driven up the price of lake property so that locals can no longer afford a home on the lake. Oh well, at least the summer residents can afford to eat out once in awhile. With the high price of gas, we're not expecting a very busy summer season.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Don't Bother

I don't normally do movie reviews. SME and Wandering Coyote do a much better job reviewing movies than I ever could. After watching this film last night, I felt compelled to warn my friends.

The title of this post just about sums up my opinion of this movie. This film starts out s-l-o-w and STAYS s-l-o-w throughout its entire 158 minute running time. That's 2 1/2 hours of my life that I'll never get back. I didn't totally waste my time, as I cooked dinner through the first hour of the movie.

The plot line, the oil wars of the early 1900s, had potential. Unfortunately, the producers of this film chose their idea of artsy-fartsy, rather than developing an informational plot that would hold the viewers attention.

I should have known better. The only Daniel Day-Lewis film I've ever enjoyed was Gangs of New York. Could anybody please tell me WHY Lewis won an Oscar for this role? Lewis spent most of the film staring sullenly into the camera. I guess his portrayal of a maniacal drunk, at the end of the film, is what the Academy based their nomination on.

Was this the worst film I've ever seen? Nah, but it's found a place in my top ten.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

April Showers?

I took this picture of our back yard on Thursday, before we got 3 more inches of snow yesterday. Starting Monday, we're supposed to have temps in the 50s all week. That will be a refreshing change, but I'm dreading all the resulting slop the warm weather will bring.

If you click on the picture you can see my neighbor's ramshackle garage expansion project along with some of the crap that overwhelms their yard.

My mood has been strange ever since the time changed to DST. I go through my daily routine, accomplishing all the necessary chores, but my body feels like it's going in slow motion. My brain, on the other hand, is in overdrive. A myriad of half-formed ideas are whizzing through my head. Plans for home improvement and landscape projects, blog posts, political rants, homeschool lessons, photography projects, and new recipes are all vying for my attention. Unfortunately, none of these ideas are making it to paper, or computer. My sluggish body just doesn't seem capable of keeping up with my head right now.

I hope that this is all a result of spring fever. Maybe next week's warm weather will unite my mind and body?