Those Pesky RV Cancellation Fees

One of the first things I learned back in June while RVing is that DH and I can not stay inside our smallish rig for days on end. We were doing that because the nice weather had changed into rainstorms. As most of us may be aware, this summer of 2018 has been a rainy one! The days of sunshine can probably be counted on one hand (I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea……..it was a rainy summer…..with no end in sight)

So, because of the rain, we had to cancel many, many travel opportunities this past summer. Granted yes, I could foresee some of the weather 15 days ahead, thanks to the Weather Channel app but nonetheless, I’ve cancelled a lot of trips! The sites we reserved with KOA, had a $10 cancellation fee (but they add up!)  It’s the private park cancellation fees that hurt the most. One charged us $25 to cancel and another charged us $50!

I don’t want to tally up what we have spent this summer in cancellation fees but I am certain it is near $200. Ouch. That hurts. You can suggest NOT to make such reservations so far in advance but this is the summertime and there are a lot of RVers out there. Sometimes when we booked, we were told we got the very last site, so booking early during tourist season is always recommended.

We have one last RV trip scheduled for the early fall and realistically, we’re not cancelling this trip, rain or shine! You can do things outside up in New England, as far as I am concerned, when it rains. DH and I are used to that and have the proper gear to face that rain accordingly.

In the interim, DH and I have gone on day trips instead. Without our RV. If we wake up in the morning and the weather looks good (we can’t always believe what the weatherperson professes) we have a list of day trip opportunities suggested and we decide on which adventure we will take on. Also, thankfully, we’ve been going to our local community pool almost every morning, when we are home (it tends to rain in the afternoon). That pool has been a giant boost to our summer enjoyment (plus we have made some really good friends!)

We keep our RV spiffy at all times and ready to go! Never know when at least 4 to 5 days of sunshine may be on the horizon. So far, this summer, it hasn’t happened. It’s a lot of work (for us) to take our RV out on the road, so we try to stay out for at least a minimum of 5 days to make the trip worthwhile. If it’s just for a weekend, it’s not worth it to us.

instantpot.jpgA lot of our fellow RVers have been raving about The Instant Pot, as a one-pot cooking utensil, perfect for RV life. Since we have so much down time I thought I would buy an Instant Pot and give it a try. I spent a few days looking at beginner YouTube videos and I looked at a few cooking videos. The food, for some recipes looked good. Others were not that inviting. I’m not fond of cooking meat in it’s own fat. Plus, we have a convection oven in our RV and I think that contraption does a better job at cooking whole meals than The Instant Pot can ever do. So, I returned The Instant Pot and will rely on an electric frying pan instead. I won’t use the two propane gas burners in our RV because I think it’s too dangerous to cook inside the RV like that. It’s just my gut feelings. I prefer electrical equipment inside the RV and our propane gas grill OUTSIDE our RV.

Next summer we’re booking at an RV resort for the whole months of July and August plus a full week after Labor Day. It’s not too far away from our home so if it rains, we can always drive back home and stay dry inside our home! The good part is because of this, there will be NO cancellation fees! Yay!

Live and learn.

How has your summer been? Has the rainy weather affected your summer plans at all?

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Aldi Can Now Make You A Healthy, Hot Dinner

salmon.jpg - 2Aldi, the budget-friendly grocery store, has introduced a new line of healthy, sustainable, eco-friendly dinners (Contessa Cutting Board) for two for $9.99 (that’s only five bucks a meal!)  I’m always on the look out for good, inexpensive, easier ways of preparing any meal so I picked up one of Aldi’s new dinner introductions yesterday and decided to give it a try. Since I haven’t had any luck cooking salmon by myself, I decided to give their Moroccan-style wild salmon meal a chance. At first, I was very, very skeptical the product was going to be any good. So, I very haphazardly applied the marinade topping to each piece of salmon. Sorry for that. Next time, I assure you, I will do better at presentation. To sum up my whole experience: the meal was delicious!

salmon.jpg - 5In only 23 minutes from start to finish, I was able to prepare a very delicious and healthy meal. I followed the simple, easy-to-read directions and voila’ dinner was served. They even give you recommendations on which wine to pair your meal with! The side dish this prepared dinner meal came with, cauliflower and sweet potato with Moroccan seasoning, was very tasty and very good! Serve  side green salad with this dinner and you have a full, satisfying meal. I was impressed AND I want more (choices that is!) If Aldi is only testing the waters to see if their customers will buy this item, the answer is a resounding YES! Bon Appitito!

 

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Easy to read & follow directions
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Everything is labeled and properly packaged
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Dinner for two is served!

 

Ahoy Matey! Life On A Real Pirate Ship.

The Kalmar Nyckel (an authentic pirate ship) sailed up the Hudson River over this past weekend and stopped by a nearby port for all us landlubbers to do a look-see. Dubbed “the Tall Ship of Delaware,” the square-rigged ship adventured all the way from its birthplace in Delaware to visit the Hudson Valley for an educational summertime visit. The full-scale replica of a traditional Dutch-built Pinnace merchant ship, the kind that brought Swedish settlers to New Sweden (now Delaware) back in 1638, was moored in Kingston, New York since August 3rd. Visitors of all ages can try their hand at hauling the lines and setting sail on the water. For a breezier experience, attendees are also invited to pack a picnic, lounge on the deck, and listen along to tales from the crew.

Naturally, DH and I had to go and do our ‘look-see’. With tour prices for adults starting at $60 a head, the most DH and I wanted to do was that ‘look-see’! I snapped a few photos of the ship and her crew. Afterwards, DH and I went for a stroll along the downtown river area. Thankfully, the sky held up (no rain!) but the clouds made the day a bit overcast and gray.

It was still a lovely Sunday afternoon.

Best Happy Summer Movie: Mamma Mia!

This is NOT a review of Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, Part Two. It’s about the original movie, Mamma Mia, which is now playing on Netflix. I never paid much interest in this movie, nor the Broadway show and not much the music of Abba. To be honest, Abba is not really an English speaking group. They come from Sweden so sometimes it was difficult to understand their choice of English words and what they were singing about.

A few weeks ago, however, the television networks aired a special edition of Mamma Mia with a sing along dialogue and I decided to finally watch this movie that first aired back in 2008. It certainly was a huge help to see and read the lyrics below while watching all the fun action above. I absolutely fell in love with this movie. The critics may not give the film five stars but the audiences do! What’s not to love? How wonderful it must be to sail, sing and dance around the most beautiful Greek Island ever, surrounded by azure blue, calm waters….have a group of hot sexy men cater to your whims, roam pure white sandy beaches and live in a tropical paradise home at the top of a majestic mountain. AND sing Abba songs (the original group sings along in the background).

Thanks to Netflix, I have been watching whole or parts of Mamma Mia almost every day! How can you be sad or unhappy when you hear ‘Dancing Queen’? Don’t believe me?

Watch this clip and then tell me how you feel afterwards?

Five Things I Am Grateful For Today

#1 Air Conditioning! With temps today in the high 90’s and humidity levels extreme enough to make a polar bear sweat, it actually feels like 101F degrees today. Not only is it difficult for me to breathe but it is near impossible for me to venture outside whatsoever. I’m here, in my home, comfortably enjoying our air conditioning, praying and praying that the thunderstorms rolling in tonight won’t disrupt our electricity service (as it did a few days ago for 7 hours. ugh!)

#2 Our Generator. See #1 above. If our electricity goes out, we’re ready!

#3 Ready-made salads and microwave dinners. Again, with the high temperatures, we don’t want to cook. Thankfully, I have a bunch of crisp green salads on hand to tide us through our meals. Additionally, I have a few pre-cooked dinners that simply need a quick warm up in the microwave for a delicious meal. In the freezer, I’ve got frozen fruit bars AND ice creme to keep us cool.

#4 Our community pool with a one-hour adult-only swim daily. DH and I have made a lot of friends this year, thanks to the daily adult-only swim. What a treat it is to congregate and chat with like-minded neighbors while keeping cool in our olympic-sized community pool! Best way to make friends IMHO.

#5 This really should be #1, but I was saving it for last. The thing that I am most grateful for is our successful finance/money management. DH and I are enjoying our retirement lifestyle, enjoying the fact that we have enough money to pay our monthly bills AND enough left over to put aside in a savings account for our future use. I’m grateful that our investments are paying off. I’m grateful that we are 99% debt free. I’m grateful that we are in a good place.

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One of the many beautiful views DH and I enjoy on our daily walks (weather permitting!)

 

 

I Concentrate On The Negative So I Can Appreciate The Positive.

There’s a reason why I’m so obsessed with true, negative news and events. It’s because when I unveil the negative I appreciate the positive. Case in point: my few last posts. I write about the dilemma some agers have been finding themselves in because it then sheds some positive vibes on my own life. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The negative always puts the positive in a more perspective light.

All my life I’ve been fascinated with other people’s lives. Why? Because I learn from their mistakes AND I learn from their good choices also! Maybe I’m like that because my mother died when I was so young, so I lost my role model. I don’t know. I just know that I mostly read true autobiographies when I’m at the library and I know I have no qualms asking people how their lives are going. And I have no shame browsing the daily news looking for articles depicting the sadness of most people’s every day challenges.

I read yet another article yesterday, in the NY Times (click here) about the newest plight many older people are facing today. There has been a substantial rise in the number of bankruptcies people over the age of 65 are now claiming. Aren’t you the least bit curious as to find out why this phenomenon is happening? I am. So, I read further.

For a rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality: bankruptcy. The signs of potential trouble — vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings — have been building for years. Now, new research sheds light on the scope of the problem: The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991, the study found, and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers.

As you read further into the article, you find out that many of these older people are forced to claim bankruptcy in their 70’s because they failed to file for their Social Security benefits early enough! Now, that’s big news! Because most financial experts today have been advising elders to delay taking their SS Benefits until they reach 70. As it is turning out, waiting until their 70’s is “too little too late”! The elders needed that money sooner rather than later. Also, many of these elders in their 70’s have both a mortgage and debt. That’s clearly a distinct no-no in retirement. Debt and retirement just don’t go together!

Social Security for many, provides at least 90% of that person’s needed income. Health problems, however, through Medicare, eats away at most of those retirees benefits. It’s the out-of-pocket costs, some as little as $10 (ten dollars) that destroys many retirees lives, as this chart illustrates:

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I use the information that I have gleaned off this article to see how I compare with the rest of my retirement community. I ask myself: Have I saved enough money? (many cited in this article barely have at least $3,200 in a savings account) Do I really need to spend that much money (fill in the blank) on a current or future project I might have? Did I do the right thing by filing for my own Social Security before my retirement date? The answer is, after reading this article: YES! Am I doing enough to make sure my own good health stays that way? I’ve been walking, swimming and eating a bit better since reading this article.

In other words, by reading, learning or concentrating on the negative, I’m forced to make positive changes which lead me to make better choices in my own retirement journey. And that’s a very good thing! DH and I were just about ready to spend $3,400 on a generator back-up system when DH recalculated and retooled to modify our own existing, paid-for generator. For only $480 he can build an automatic process on what we already have. That means we keep the $2,920 cash difference in our retirement savings account. After reading this article I realized that having cash in our old age is more important than anything else!

So, if you think I’m obsessed with nursing homes, retirement communities, medical bills or standard cost of living for older people, I’m really not. I’m just learning how best to live my own life by finding out what went wrong in others. Make provisions as you age to stay clear out of debt, make sure you have a place to live in as you age (preferably your own paid-off home), save as much money as you can during your working years, it’s OK to take your Social Security benefits early and don’t worry about delving into the negativity of things so long as your take-away is positive.

Live and learn, my friend. And don’t hesitate to make changes, if and when the time comes.

Here’s Another Old Age Fear: Corrupt Nursing Homes

 

sick elderly patient
96 year old nursing home resident who just recently died while under their care

This article (click here) about local, unsafe nursing homes was just released this morning. It’s enough for us Baby Boomers, or those nearing or facing retirement to shake in our boots. The estate of the woman pictured above, Adeline Ramlow, has sued the Goshen Nursing Home for deplorable and dangerous living conditions, which led to her death. A class action lawsuit by the remainder of the residents there is under way.

What started out as a well run Nursing Care Facility, Sapphire/Elant Homes, turned into a nightmare when it was bought out by a group of New York City greedy, profit-making monsters investors.

Help us,” at least five residents asked the family of the fragile 96-year-old Ramlow, as they sat in a common area of the Sapphire Nursing home, according to a lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court in Orange County on Tuesday by a Westchester law firm.

The estate of Ramlow, who died late last year, and Mary Rice, 93, a current Sapphire resident, are both suing, accusing the home’s new owners of slashing staff so deeply that Ramlow and others often sat in their own waste, begging visitors for bathroom help, meals and care.

This new investor group, Richard Aryeh Platschek, Esther Farkovits, Machla Abramczyk and Robert Schuck — also acquired Elant homes in Newburgh, Wappingers Falls and Beacon. That’s three more nursing homes who shortchanged unsuspecting life residents to suffer an early death, all in the name of making profits!

Again, this is yet another fear of mine, which unfortunately is all too common, as we age: corrupt and unscrupulous nursing homes. Once they latch on to your Medicare benefits, they never let you (their meal ticket) go! After reading this article, I’m back to square one. Yesterday (click here) I was contemplating moving into an independent type of apartment living as I got older, but now in retrospect, I think I’ll stay put in my own home. My dad did that and he lived till he was 92. For the last few years of his life, my sister hired a home-care, live-in to care for my father and it worked out very well. My sister was there to over see everything and my father did indeed get excellent care.

What Sapphire has done is try to profit by dramatically cutting staff, which has resulted in an unsafe nursing home. Layoffs and other budget cuts led Sapphire’s Goshen staff to not properly bathe residents; serve meals late and cold; fail to help residents eat and leave residents soiled, un-cared for and unattended for hours.

Sapphire’s mid-Hudson nursing homes are among at least 19 state nursing homes that share common ownership, according to DOH filings. Medicare has designated 13 as severely short-staffed, including the former Elant homes in Beacon, Goshen, Newburgh and Wappingers Falls.

A report cited short-staffing; residents left with unclean diapers and a lack of water and food for hours; scarce supplies; crumbling rooms and patients hurt from a lack of care and staff decisions, including a nurse spreading hepatitis by reusing a needle.

No thanks! I’m re-evaluating my living choices for my old age. I’m staying put and I’ll hire a certified nurse or assistant to help me and DH when we get older. I’ll have one of my daughters or close (young) relative oversee the employment and our finances.If need be, I’ll get ‘meals-on-wheels’ and I’ll join a retirement club here in my neighborhood where other like-minded retirees get together and socialize.

In the interim, I called our landscaper and asked him when he was coming over to cut our grass! The cutting is one week overdue! He’ll be here tomorrow. And by September, our automatic generator will be installed! Thank God I have a safe home to live in!

As always, my dad had it right all along.

PS: Note to self….be extra nice to your daughters, son-in-laws, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. And neighbors!

 

 

What If You Had To Live Alone

DH is gone this week on a business trip. He took on a (easy) project because he is determined to buy himself another smallish sailboat. It’s not in our savings or budget for another boat so he decided to go out and earn the extra money. DH is way more materialistic than I could ever be. He’s the one who decided where we were going to live when we downsized for our retirements. I had chosen a much poorer county because the cost of living was less expensive, the property taxes were extremely low AND there was no school tax (because there aren’t many schools, duh?)

But nooooooooooo. He had to live in a neighborhood that was much more upscale than what I had recommended. And with the upscaled neighborhood came higher cost-of-living expenses, higher taxes (the school taxes here are quadruple what the property taxes are). We can not shop locally here. Everything is way too expensive. We have to get in the car, drive 24 miles RT and cross over a toll bridge and go to the cheapest neighborhood around in order to afford groceries and other necessities.

Which brings me to the recent question I asked myself the other day. Now that DH is out of the house for a while, it has given me some time to think and ponder: where would I live if I had to live alone? First off, it certainly wouldn’t be where I am living right now. The place is too big for little ole me and requires way too much input from me just to maintain it (employ a gardener, handy man etc). I’d have to hire AND pay someone just to clear out the barn of all his crap, tools and junk (do you know he’s got a 2000 Cherokee Jeep in there, fully un-assembled since 2006!!!) Then I would rent it out for extra income!

What if the hot water heater blows? Who would put in and take out the window air conditioners? Who would jump start the generator back-up system when the power goes out (which it often does)? I could handle getting a new washer, dryer and roof replacement, as well as hiring painters, carpenters yada, yada, yada, BUT IS THAT REALLY WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MYSELF? I’m exhausted just thinking about all of this.

My town does have an independent living apartment complex (and I know no one smokes cigarettes in that friggin’ place!) but they charge $500,000 just to get into a one bedroom apartment (with a 90% refund after you’re dead, which would go to my undeserving daughters). I didn’t even ask what the monthly fees would be because whatever they are they wouldn’t be as cheap as what I am paying now to live in my home ($813 a month covers taxes, insurance, heat and electricity but NOT maintenance).

If I did stay in my home here, I’d be awfully lonely. Don’t laugh but did you know, despite living here for 17 years I don’t have one single friend? I’m an introvert. That’s why I originally thought moving to Sarasota and buying a condo near my brother and sister was ideal. But we all know how that plan didn’t work out.

The next (poorer) town over from me has low-income apartments which I would most certainly qualify for. I have mentioned this to DH but he won’t have any part of it. As I said, I am not as materialistic as he is, so I would immediately place myself on the waiting list. I’d have to make sure first, however, that the building I move in to is smoke free. We can get things like that here in New York (praise God!)

The next thing I would do is trade in my RV travel trailer for a driveable, but sleepable van. I’d probably have to extend a loan out on it but maybe not. If I sold the marital domain and moved into a low income apartment I might be able to pay for the van in full (they ARE expensive!) I’d take my trusty dog with me and drive to places I didn’t go to before because you-know-who didn’t want to go there (like Cape May in New Jersey).

If I lived alone, I would never, ever cook for myself. The independent living complex has all the amenities and meal services any foodie could desire (they only hire chefs who have graduated from the CIA (Culinary Institution of America…it’s right down the road). They have a gym and an indoor, heated pool, lots of activities, plus I can keep my car parked outside. It would be ideal for me because I wouldn’t want to do anything if I lived alone. The complex would do it for me (hint: they have heated concrete walkways. Le Sigh.)

diet foods

As soon as hubby left on Monday, I hopped in my car, drove over the bridge, stopped at Wal Mart and bought a ton of (diet) ready made foods. If I get bored with these, I have no qualms about going to our local diner, and eating alone! Since he’s been gone, I cleaned the house ONCE and it has stayed clean since. Including the bath tub! There’s no garbage to throw out because I don’t make any garbage. And there’s no laundry to do because I don’t dirty my clothes so fast.

Nonetheless, my life would be lost and lonely without DH, so for now, everything stays the way it is. Eventually he’ll get his smallish sailboat (and that’ll be another hunk of crap the junk man will have to haul out of here) and all will be right in our home. For a while.

If I should pass first, DH would be as happy as a pig in sh**t. He can (and will) handle everything around here. He did hire someone to mow and shovel but other than that, this place is his kingdom domain.

Me? You’ll find me at the microwave warming up my TV dinner.

 

An Action Packed Weekend

There was NO way I was going to miss the opening of Tom Cruise’s new movie, Mission Impossible 6-Fallout. I saw the coming attractions back in May and I knew this movie was going to be a must-see action packed film. Tom Cruise does many of his own stunts which adds to the suspense. He did break his ankle when he was jumping from one building to another (you will see him stumble when he ‘tries’ to get up).

The scenes from the sky diving section were taken 107 times before Tom and the director thought it was just right! Tom Cruise also studied how to fly a helicopter for a year and a half before he took the helm of the helicopter portrayed in the movie. The movie is NOT 100% action. The cast does calm down every once in a while and from their dialogue you can easily follow the story. The movie has many, many twists and turns.

I highly recommend this movie. For two and a half hours (2.28 to be exact) you can simply sit back and enjoy this fantastic film. You won’t be disappointed. We saw it Saturday night at our local theater that honors senior citizen discounts. We only paid $6 per ticket. It was the best $12 we spent so far this summer.

 

Sunday morning, Nick and I got up early and went to our favorite diner for breakfast. I had French Toast made with their fresh baked, Challah bread @$6. Nick had his usual two eggs sunny side up, hash browns and multi-grain toast (no butter) @$4. For $10, we had a delicious breakfast. We split a bottomless cup of coffee!

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After breakfast, we went for a three mile hike along the Hudson River trails. We had to! In order to work off those breakfast calories. The weather was perfect! Low 80’s. No humidity. After our hike, we both jumped in the community pool for a quick 30 minute swim.

Dinner was a fresh, organic heirloom tomato and mozzarella ball salad with red onion, fresh basil over toasted olive bread. Delish.

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It was as near a perfect weekend that one can get.

How was your weekend? Any plans for next weekend?

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