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As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had a well-check doctor visit on 12/31/2012. The PA I was seeing decided he wanted to do home visits instead of seeing people in clinic, so I was reassigned to an NP, and the purpose of the appointment was for us to get to know each other and for her to become familiar with my medical history.  Hopefully, I’m going to get a bone density study and an upper endoscopy out of the deal.  I haven’t had either in quite a while and I need both.  One nice thing she told me about is that I can now access my own lab work through the VA website, which is great.

She went over my lab work with me.  After having been a medical transcriptionist for over 26 years, I know the normal ranges for the routine lab work, so I can just look at the numbers and know when one of them is not normal.   I’m in good shape there.  My cholesterol and triglycerides could be better, but since they are within normal limits, I’m not worried.  She sent me down to the lab for routine blood work and a chest x-ray, since I used to be a smoker.

After I got that done, I trundled outside to the car, turned the key, and absolutely nothing happened.  My battery was dead.  I called Express Care, which is where I get my car serviced (oil change, state inspection, etc.), and they sent out a couple of guys to jump start the car, and followed me back to their shop.  They tested my 6-year-old battery and it was on its last legs, so I ended up spending some of my Christmas money ($120, thank you very much) to buy a new car battery.  Luckily, they had one that fit my 1987 Toyota “Crayola.”  I really like the service I get there.  They didn’t just replace the battery, they also checked my antifreeze level, the hydraulic fluid levels, oil level, made sure my car tires/tyres were properly inflated, and cleaned my windshield/windscreen.

Not two days later, the 4-year-old battery on my mom’s car went kaput as well. She was going to take my dad to the doctor’s office, tried to start her car and nada.  She called the AAA guys, got her car jump started and ended up having to buy a new battery as well.   (Here’s a good tip:  If you turn the key and the engine tries to start but can’t, then it’s NOT the battery or the starter.  But if you turn the key and absolutely nothing happens, it’s the battery. )  You can push-start a manual transmission car with a dead battery, and my car has “four on the floor,” so that would have worked for my car, but mom’s car has an automatic transmission.  For a car in a garage, driveway, or parking lot, jump-starting is the best option, because optimally you need to be going about 15 mph/24 kph for push starting to work well.

Since I still haven’t found a part-time job, this was a lean month.  I had to use some of my Christmas money to pay bills.  (I did hold out $50 to buy some ebooks for my Kindle — and actually felt guilty about it!).  I only had $100 to spend on groceries this month, and when I checked out at Walmart  my 6 bags of must-have groceries came to $101 and change.  At least having a tight budget means no sweets or junk food.  I’ve taken to eating a container of fruit flavored yogurt for dessert, which is a much healthier option than “traditional” dessert items like cake, pie, ice cream or candy.  I did buy some (microwaveable) bacon and some tomatoes this time as they had a good deal on the Hormel bacon, and a bacon and tomato sandwich on bread machine bread is so YUM.

Even though it was a present from my mom, the bread machine is paying for itself.  Normally, I would have spent at least $15-$20 on bread for the month (2 loaves of sandwich bread, and two packages of English muffins or ciabata rolls), but 5 lbs of flour costs about $3.25 and makes nine small loaves of bread (2 cups of flour per loaf), and a bottle of yeast makes about 15 loaves, and a package of unsalted butter makes about 15 loaves — although my favorite bread recipe uses olive oil.  A package of sea salt makes probably 20-25 loaves.  A 40 oz package of Bisquick costs around $3.50 and makes 70+ biscuits.   At some point, I want to make some pizza dough in the bread machine and see if it will work as a naan substitute.   I might try that with some whole wheat flour which I need to use up.

The weather has been cold.  Our night-time temperatures have been around or below freezing with daytime temperatures barely into the 50’s F/10’s C, and we had some rain a couple of days ago.  In fact, my front yard hasn’t dried out yet.

A new outfit bought the property that my BFF rents her duplex from.  They’ve been fixing them up (new roofs, paint, new doors, new fences) which is good, but she was informed that when her lease runs out in April, she’s going to have to move, as they are going to be renovating her duplex.  I think this is going to be a blessing in disguise, as there have been several problems in the past with her neighbors dealing drugs and the police have been called in several times for domestic disturbances, including throwing furniture through windows.  I’m hoping she can get into a nice duplex, but with her budget, that’s going to be problematic.  Still, she’s got until April, so hopefully she’ll be able to line something up.