September 4th, 2001


Catching Up Again

Another post covering lots of events that I didn't cover at the time.

Johnstown Folkfest: On Saturday, Mike, Carl, Lori, and I went off to the Johnstown Folkfest to listen to folk music and eat ethnic food. Mike and Lori have already posted their versions of events, but I'll add a few things they didn't mention:

We managed to find out the distinction between halupki and haluski. (In a previous trip, two years ago, Willie, Laura, Lori, and I had attempted to find out what halupki was, but all the churches had been out.) Haluski, we knew, is a mix of noodles and cabbage (with lots of butter); halupki, we discovered, is a form of stuffed cabbage (without tomato sauce). But curiously, I didn't manage to get any haluski on this trip. Maybe haluski and halumpki are fundamentally incompatible substances.

I am surprised neither Mike nor Lori mentioned this anecdote:
Traffic had slowed to a stop as we were driving out on 22. I was feeling tired and bleary, and I mentioned this. Lori offered to take over the driving. So I put the car in park, turned off the engine, and got out to switch places with her. Apparently everyone else had been expecting me to pull off the road before exchanging drivers. But we got moving again just as the traffic started to move.

Sunday: On Sunday, I spent most of the day working on the next episode of my D&D campaign. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that I spent almost all the morning and afternoon stressing about it and half that time working on it. Still, it's reasonably done and I was reasonably pleased.

For Sunday dinner, we grilled Beer, Bratwurst, and Onion Packets, and served that with German Potato Salad and baked beans. It was pretty tasty. The onions become very sweet and tender as they cook... mmm.

We had intended to make peach cobbler for dessert, but we were short on time, so we just served ice cream.

We didn't play games, just talked through the night. Many of the attendees (including me) were distracted from the conversation by the Knights of the Dinner Table books I brought out to share the Gazebo and Head of Vecna stories.

Beer, Bratwurst, and Onion Packets
German Potato Salad
baked beans
ice cream

Labor Day: I went to work, since I'm a contractor and don't get time off. I didn't get much done, though.

In the evening, Paul and Mary hosted an impromptu cookout. We went, but didn't stay for the movie, since Lori had to work on a paper due Tuesday. The cookout was very pleasant.

When we got home, there was a message on the answering machine from Lori's mother. Lori returned the call and found out that Aunt Gerry had died. We went over there for a few hours to grieve together.

One of the concerns that came up quickly for me was the concern of how to get to the funeral in Daytona Beach, Florida. Lori's father said that according to Heather's internet research, airplane tickets would be $900 apiece, $600 if we got a bereavement rate. And money is tight for us these days. On the other hand, time is tight for us too--I don't get time off at work, and I would hate for Lori to miss any more classes than she absolutely has to.
I called my parents for advice on this question. My mother said that she would recommend flying, and they would help us make those finances work if necessary. This was a big relief for me.

We got home around 11:30. I checked Expedia quickly, just to confirm Heather's research about cheap fares. On the advice of Lori's father, I checked fares to Orlando, too. Expedia offered me a bargain fare of $236 to Orlando. There was a catch--you couldn't find out the flight times until after you purchased the tickets. But we had enough slack in our schedules that that was acceptable. So we have cheap tickets to Orlando, leaving Thursday morning and returning Sunday night. We have a rental car reserved in Orlando; we'll drive from there to Daytona. I'm so glad that we were able to make this work at a manageable price.

Now, y'all may recall that Lori still had a paper to finish. It took her until 2:30 to finish it. I stayed up with her to offer her emotional support if she needed it. But I didn't have to wake up at 7 in order to get to class, and Lori did. I hope she's doing okay today.

Money Again

So, if I may focus for a moment on the financial implications of Aunt Gerry's death:

Because of the funeral travel, this is not going to be a financially normal month. The last time I had a financially normal month was September 2000. That's a full year without anything that I could point to and say "that's normal".

In that time, there have been two major upheavals to the budget--buying the house and getting married--and I have yet to be able to see the normal pattern beneath the one-time swings associated with the job change and the wedding. Argh!

Right now, we are down to less than $25 in our primary checking account. (I exaggerate slightly; we will be tomorrow after I move money around to cover the second mortgage.)

I actually have received my check for the second half of August, though I'm supposed to be paid September 7. (I actually got it on August 30, which I found a little odd.) I ought to go ahead and deposit it, since the hold the bank put on the last check would mean that we wouldn't actually get access to the money until the 7th anyway. I've been holding off on depositing it, feeling that I need to be able to hold off until those halfway points in the month, to avoid splurging too much or something.

And I had planned to try to pay that whole paycheck as estimated taxes. I need to; we're way behind on the estimated taxes. I guess that's not going to happen.

And this all means that if we do want to hire any work done on the house before it turns cold, we'll have to spend money we don't have to do so.

I hate it. I hate it all. I want a raise that will put us back in the comfort zone.
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