Monday, June 28, 2010

Things I love about my bunny :

  • I love the sound she makes when she goes galloping down the hallway.
  • I love how she guards me from bad dreams at night.
  • I love how she can go from looking interested to "OMG, I can't believe you said that." with just a flick of her ear.
  • I love the silky softness of her white fur in comparison to the coarser silver fur.
  • I love how when I start cleaning HER room she thumps up a fuss and dashes out with footflicks a blazing.. but sneaks back in to give Mr. Broom a hare cut every time I put him down.
  • I love how she supervises me cleaning her litterbox to make sure I do it Just Right.
  • I love how she is the absolute MASTER of passive-aggressive communication.

  • but mostly..

  • I love how she loves me.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Financial Fridays.

Sage says she pointed out to the hooman it's already Saturday, but the hooman is a slacker and procrastinator which is how she gets into financial messes in the first place. I said the post is late because I fell asleep while snuggling with her on my bed. She says I'm still a slacker.

The rest of this post is boring, personal, financial stuff. I just thought I should bribe my readers with a picture of the beautiful diva first. ;)

I am over $16,000 in debt. I'm also disabled.

Many would wonder how I got where I am. Partially it's that money has always burned a hole in my pocket and I've never been a saver. Partially it's that my bank, for whatever reason, gave me a credit card for $12,000. Yes, I did have a home business, but it didn't pull in more than $7,000 a year. Considering disability is on average $10,174 a year, they're obviously bug nut crazy. Home repairs, car repairs, Scout Bunny vet visits, all sorts of things put that credit card over the top. Two vacations to Buffalo, NY were certainly not responsible decisions either. So, over six years I dug myself a very nice deep hole.

I talked to some credit counsellors, but their bottom line is my car is worth too much to declare bankruptcy (The car my parents bought for me since my Sidekick was such a money suck) and my income per month isn't enough for a collateral loan. They all pretty much agreed, tell the credit companies to sit and spin. Gee, that doesn't seem very useful or responsible.

So, I started doing a little research here, a little research there. In the meantime, RBC keeps on taking money from my account, even though they're not allowed to. (It's a disability cheque. They're not supposed to touch it.) So I had to fight to get it back, and bounce cheques in the process. ($25 fee here, $20 fee there..) So the first step was opening a new bank account and transferring as much as I could over to Scotiabank. (They offered the cheapest options for what I wanted/needed.)

My monthly outgoing expenses look something like :

$32.60 to Enterprise Car Rental to pay off their "loss of use" from when I dodged the drunk and hit the parkade. Insurance paid for the rest, minus the $500 deductable. Sadly, the best I could offer them was 10 post-dated cheques. So, this debt lasts till February of next year.

$66.67 to Dell Canada. I don't even have that desktop anymore. It's the computer I sold a while back to make a payment on my CapitalOne card. (I'll save a rant about CapitalOne and their magical fees for another day.) This adventure in computer land taught me 'never again' about computers and credit. By the time it's paid off, the computer is probably broken past the purpose of repair or replaced. My laptop, which I won, is a Dell Inspiron 1525 - and after two years of use started falling apart, after three it's on its last legs. If it were on credit, I'd still be paying for it for another two years! I'm FINALLY done with this payment on the 16th of July. Woohoo.

$44'ish to Telus for Internet access. I have tried three times to ask them if I can downgrade my internet connection to 'lite.' I can't say I'd much like it, I'm a bandwidth diva, but at $10/mo difference in price I'd just have to learn to suck it up. Their phone system is beyond irritating and then their customer service idiots, er, I mean, representatives. Gah. I emailed them, nada. I wrote them a letter, nada. They're a phone company, you have to deal with them by phone! Grrr.

$43.27 to Fido. I signed up for Fido last December to save me money from Rogers. This would work well if they'd actually do what I ordered. I have tried to cancel my caller ID and voice mail several times. (I'm paying $8/mo for it..) When they set up the account I got some shpiel about how they had to add it to give me the $5/mo unlimited browsing but would remove it right away. Ah ha ha ha. I get 50 minutes of talk time a month. This, in theory, should do me fine since I loath phones to begin with, but no one seems to get that I don't want to talk for more than a minute to establish whatever the point of the conversation is. Did I have this problem when I was on Rogers and got 200+ minutes of talk time a month? Of course not, I used, on average, 30 minutes a month. Oh, but when I pay .35/minute over my limit, lets chat away. I'm starting to get very good at saying "This is costing me .35/minute." I will admit I haven't been as vigilant on following up on kicking Fido's butt in gear as I should have been.

I'm currently on credit with BC Hydro. (Electricity.) They kept claiming I was using $80/mo in electricity and jacked up my equalized payments each year after saying I was $200 over. I finally told them to switch me back to pay per month, AND OH LOOK, I suddenly had $600 in credit. Of course, I don't get cash back.. So I have heat, hot water and power for the foreseeable future no matter what I do.

I pay $368/mo in pad rental. (I'll touch on trailer ownership another day.) My property taxes are about $100/year because I live in the sticks. (Beautiful sticks, but it's 10 km/s to the nearest grocery store.)

My car insurance is $119/mo. Not much can be done with this, and it'll go up in November when I have to renew - due to my having a smashing good time in the rental car. Unfortunately, no bus service means I have to have a car.

I typically spend about $40/mo in gas dribbling around town, $20/trip if I go see a friends band play and whatever I spend at the bar for beverages. (Typically Sprite - and typically my very generous friend Chris pays.) I consider this my monthly entertainment costs. (Yes, between bands and internet, my entertainment is as much as my grocery/household supply bill *cough*)

This month I spent $106 on groceries and STUFF. That includes pharmacy off the shelf, cleaning supplies and beauty products. The latter is the new Pantene thin hair shampoo/conditioner that makes my head not look like 3/4 of my hair has fallen out in the last three years. (Stress? Chronic Pain? Naw, no effect.) Pantene is always sending me coupons and samples, so I'm pretty damn loyal to them. Good product, good company. (Er, I digress..)

Sage costs me about $10 of that a month. She loves the locally made pellet that costs me about $20 for a bag that lasts her six months. (It went faster when I still had Scout the pellet hoover.) She uses wood stove pellets as litter ($4/bag at Rona. 40lb bags last a while.) The rest is whatever local produce is on sale in a given week. I'm hoping I can dig a chunk of my debt out *before* she gets to senior bunny years when vet care will be a regular occurrence.

So, right now, I break about even each month *before* credit card payments. I have three cards, one with CapitalOne, one with RBC, and one with CanadianTire. The *only* one that isn't in little itty pieces is the CT card. That's purely because I use it for my gas, etc (and pay it immediately on getting home) and then use the points for my car's maintenance. I still owe money elsewhere. My dentist for one is being remarkably patient.

I have no cable. ($40/mo so I can watch CBC? Are you kidding me??) I have no landline. No A/C. And my Dad buys me lunch four days out of eight. (Thank you, Daddy. For some reason my parents believe I'd starve without it. NO idea why.)

Dad is looking to retire. I'll probably hang tough until he does so, then sell my trailer and go back to renting. Taking care of a yard and garden is beyond my physical limitations and taking care of a home is beyond my financial. Yes, technically rent is just paying someone else to worry about maintenance and all the fun of ownership with a pad for their efforts, but after seven years of home ownership, I'm very happy to go back to the nightmare that is renting. :D Actually, I've been pretty lucky with apartments and landlords in the past. Some nightmare roommates, but then my roommates would probably say the same. ;)

Once I sell the trailer, I can pay off my credit card debt, stick the remainder in trust (maybe - if not it goes to my parents. Otherwise disability will just claim it.. and I'll be off disability long enough to require me to go through the "fun" that is reapplication.)and probably live even keel.

That's the dream, anyway.

The first step, was reading the financial blogs. The second step was learning to write EVERYTHING down. Every penny incoming, every penny outgoing. The latter has been really hard. Today I had an eye-doctor appointment an hour and a half drive from home and I was quite hungry. I debated for quite a while food, and really, I should have gone to the grocery store, bought some rice and veggies and stored them at my brother's but this didn't occur to me. Instead I bought a Teen Burger at the food court. Not the wisest decision, but I'm learning. I already pack green tea with me wherever I go, I should be able to learn to pack emergency rice and dried veggies, right? (This is south-wet BC, EVERYONE owns a rice cooker.)

The next step is to identify and cut out the fluffy stuff. My friend Wonda has already been amazing. We meet at arenas to watch her kids play whatever, or go sit in a park, or something that is cost neutral. She even buys me green tea and muffins. This will probably mean not filming/seeing my friends bands play anymore until I get all sorted out, but I'm hoping to stick it out for now. I was also really hoping to get to Warped Tour this year, but I guess I'll be a mature adult instead.

My laptop (the one I won) is dying a very rapid death. The screen is already toast. It'd be $187 to fix, and I thought that worthwhile, BUT, then the touchpad started to go. I've already replaced memory and hard drive. It's at the point of not worth the cost to keep repairing. I'll keep it till it dies and go back to the PoS laptop that my friend Darin can pick me up some memory for dirt cheap.

I'm turning 35 in September and I still don't want to be a responsible adult. Can't I make Sage do it for me instead?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sage and I went out to the council office today to take a picture of her beside the begonia's in a Canadian Flag pattern for my Tux & Bunny's Canada Day comic. It was a few tries to get her out of the begonias and on the wall, but we managed it. Afterwards I plunked her in some clover in case she wanted a treat. She hopped off to be under a tree and then sat there for fifteen minutes.

I'm pretty sure grooming is secret bunny code for "I'm not with her."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bunny Fiction

I do writing improv most mornings. Sometimes I ask a friend "What do you want me to write about today?" if I can't think of something myself. Often, I can. These develop into 'thumbnail' sketches. Sometimes I go further with them - sometimes I don't. My dreams typically provide fodder and always the grammar and spelling is attrocious. :)

This morning I got a request from a friend's twelve year old to write something Fantasy and with bunnies. Who am I to turn down a bunny request?

* * *

Originally they'd been bred to be food for dragons. Giant rabbits made it less likely for dragons to raid the farms for sheep and cows, they could run to stimulate the hunting senses and they were supposed to have bred like, well, rabbits. Unfortunately for the dragons, the rabbits developed intelligence past their tiny originators and were quite willing to take their own destiny in their own paws early. As the years passed, they decided the two foots weren't all bad, some were worth knowing, and it led to the forming of the King's Messengers. No one could get across the Kingdom faster than a rabbit and her rider. No message was safer, no messanger more trusted. The dragons had to go back to sheep.

Tasi stood back from grooming Goldenpaw. It was a stupid name, but she'd named him when she was six. Whatever his rabbit name was, he hadn't told her. Some did, some didn't, you just learned to humour the rabbit. "So now that all loose fur is gone, food stains removed, and your ears are perfect, you'll go find some dirt to dig in, right?"

The rabbit sighed and turned his tail to her. He didn't have much patience for her teasing, but she could stick to him like a burr and they'd broken trail records, so he put up with her. Well, that and she knew where to scratch.

"Oh, don't be like that." Tasi said, stepping into the next stall so she could look in his deep brown eye. She stood on tiptoes, to lean chin on the top of the three-quarter wall between the stalls. "C'mon, it's time for inspection, and you know I look bad if you look bad."

He twitched his ear in her direction but otherwise didn't acknowledge her existance.

Tasi took her turn to sigh and wished horses could approach the speed of rabbits. The dumb beasts were a lot easier to deal with than giant, moody, finicky, demanding, brats. "I was going to scrounge some mint from the gardens.."

His nose started wriggling despite his trying to play disinterest.

Tasi grinned and hopped back out of the empty stall, "Just stay there! I'll go get some.." Fortunately, mint was plentiful and the rabbits easily bribed.

She was barely out of the stable doors when she was stopped by the lead messenger. "Has Masoc returned yet?"

Tasi lost her smile, despite the summer's day and her mini-victory over Goldenpaw. "No." He was three days late. He was the second to go east that hadn't returned. Diruc, once a messenger like her, but now one legged and on a crutch, looked down at her. "I'm getting to skip out on inspection, aren't I?"

"You are. Ride fast. Don't find fights, find truth." Diruc told her, holding out a messenger's satchel.

Tasi nodded and turned back to the stables. "CHange of plans, 'paw. We've got a run."

The rabbit did one of the whirling turns he was so good at and his nose was going a mile a minute. His ears were cocked forward and his tail was up. One eager bunny.

"Daysil and Masoc are now gone too. Three days late. No word, no pigeon." Goldenpaw knew the score as well as she did. She grabbed her travel pack, prepared for two days now and tied the satchel onto the front. She took a run and a sprint and was up on Goldenpaw's neck. He shook his head. Not for the first time she wished the rabbits would allow saddle or harness.

The rabbit walked sedately enough out of the stables, his eyes scanning skies and road as soon as they were in daylight. Diruc watched them grimly as Goldenpaw stretched his warm up and Tasi took a good grip of his underfur. A final shake of his head to make sure she had a good grip and he was off. Three bounds across the stableyard, one over the fence, a blur of gardens and shrubbery and he was on the main lane and pelting through the grounds. The guards at the gate saw them coming and dropped the rabbit railing above the main defensive gate. Goldenpaw tucked his ears down behind his head, either side of Tasi, as he lept between the top of the gate and the wall above. Some of the taller riders had to duck, but Tasi was short enough that she was in no danger.

Riding a rabbit was a learned talent and the ability to put up with a pounding on your tailbone. They did gain into a steady pace once they started to lope, but it was still a lurch back and forth for the rider - and pity the human whose forehead smacked the rabbit or their shifting threw their mount off stride. A rabbit was not above dumping the rider and taking the packs without them. They didn't *need* humans, but having someone who could talk for them, write, and more importantly do all the work, was to their liking. Unless, of course, that rider interferred with the things the rabbit loved - running, racing, and eating.

Well, Tasi supposed girl bunnies came into it somewhere, but she wasn't about to ask 'paw about it. If she had any sort of social life to speak of, she was pretty sure he wouldn't want to hear about it and she certainly didn't want to hear about how many kits he did or didn't have. The giant rabbit females could control their own fertility - a male had to prove his worthiness. Tasi's experience said the does were even more of giant pains in the butts to deal with than the bucks, so she could only imagine the hoops the bucks had to jump through to prove their worthiness.

Being a glorified servant to a moody furball was all worth it when they were on the road or trace, though. Wind whistling through her hair, the taste of freedom on her lips, it was worth all the sorting of clover, the drying of hay, the grooming, nail trimming, and discontent. The Messenger quarters and their warrens were at the edge of the king's preserve, north of his city, it wasn't long before they were out and on dirt tracks that rabbit claws dug into so well.

If she was lucky, sunshine and fair wind would follow her all the way east.