Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Life is short... go for the preferred seats!

Last week, I booked our flights for a visit home to my parents (which we generally do twice a year, Christmas and summertime). We've always flown economy, generally the cheapest fares we can find for the dates & time frames when we want to fly.

For the past 20 years, though, we've always paid extra to "select" (i.e., reserve) our seats. We started doing this after one memorable (for the wrong reasons...) incident at the airport where we discovered (at the gate) that the flight was overbooked and we might not make it on board -- i.e., we were essentially flying standby, even though we'd paid for our tickets months earlier and arrived well before boarding. (We did make it onto the plane, but we were NOT HAPPY to deal with the additional stress!)

These days, not only can you select your seat (for a fee), you can choose between "standard" and "preferrred" seats -- which cost double the amount of a standard seat ($34 per person, vs $17 pp -- or an additional $68 per trip/$136 per round trip for both of us, vs $34 & $68)(!!), but offer more legroom and (slightly) more space between you & the seat in front of you. (They're still not as comfortable as the seats in business class, though...!)

I mentioned to dh that we had a choice, & he immediately said, "Book the preferred seats!"

Initially, I balked.

Now, I don't consider myself "cheap" or overly frugal. Believe me, I know how to spend money on the things I really want/value, lol.  I like to eat out at least once a week, and while it doesn't have to be La Scala, I appreciate something nicer than McDonalds with a waiter serving me, lol. I buy books instead of using the library. My closet is overstuffed, and I still have enough lipsticks to keep an army of supermodels supplied for at least a year, even though I seldom wear makeup since I stopped working.  I use fairly expensive brands of skin care products (although I try to wait and then stock up while there's a gift with purchase offer on, lol).

But I get pissed off at having to pay $17 (let alone $34) for a seat that I've already paid several hundred dollars for and that used to be "free" (along with checked baggage -- now $28.25 for your first bag -- a nice meal and so many other things...!).

Growing up, I was influenced by what a friend & I have labelled "the Prairie Depression mentality." We were both born several decades after the Great Depression -- but we still found ourselves living in its shadow, because our parents &/or grandparents lived through it, and never forgot the lessons they learned then. Our families were not wealthy (although most of our peers' families were in the same boat, so there wasn't quite the same peer pressure that kids today grow up with), and we learned the value of a dollar early on in our lives.

And so, even today as an adult, things like adding a bit of water to the shampoo bottle to use up the last few drops... or using a dryer sheet twice before throwing it away... or driving a few blocks further to save a few cents on gasoline... are second nature to me. Unless it's a book I MUST HAVE NOW, I usually forgo the hardcover and wait for the paperback. I dump my change from my wallet every night, then occasionally sort & roll up the loose coins and take it to the bank. It's like found money, and you'd be amazed at how quickly it adds up (especially here in Canada, where we have $1 & $2 coins). We went for dinner on our first anniversary and bought our first microwave with money saved up this way.

My determination to squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube and use up the last few drops of milk in the carton before putting it in recycling drives dh crazy sometimes. I often tell him, "You be anal in your way; I'll be anal in mine," lol. Paying attention to the pennies makes me feel better and gives me "permission" when I do splurge money on other, more important things. (Although even then, I am probably looking for or waiting for a sale or a coupon, lol.)

But as I hesitated on the subject of preferred vs standard seats, I realized he was right.  Dh is not a happy airline traveller at the best of times. If a preferred seat with extra legroom makes him happy, why not spent the extra money?

We both worked hard for 30 years, we saved our money, and we have enough to live comfortably, and to splurge -- maybe not for a villa in Tuscany or a beachside cottage in Tahiti (damn!), but certainly on things like preferred airline seats. We're old enough now that by some definitions, we are senior citizens (!!). If we're not going to start spending and enjoying some of our hard-earned money now, then when?

We didn't get the child we wanted so much -- but we CAN have some of those little luxuries that make life more fun and pleasant. So why not?

Life is short.... pay for the preferred seat!

(But I'll still pick economy vs business class, though (especially for a simple 2.5 hour flight to see my parents that already costs way too much)... gotta draw the line somewhere!! lol)

Monday, June 19, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Odds & ends

  • It seems I am in one of those blogging lulls that rears its head every now & then, where my mind is as blank as the screen in front of me and nothing (or very little) comes to mind to write about, ALI-related or otherwise. I haven't finished any books lately to review. I couldn't even muster up an 8-line #MicroblogMondays post last week. :( Thankfully, these lulls have never lasted too long in the past. (In almost 10 years of blogging, there's never been a month when I haven't posted at least once;  I think two or three posts in one month would be my lowest point.) I trust that this lull will also end, eventually. ;)   
  • Hop over to Sue Fagalde Lick's Childless by Marriage blog for the most believe-it-or-not story I think I've heard yet about pronatalism run amok (with the childless woman, as usual, getting the short end of the stick...!)...! (As you might remember, I just came through a long string of dental work myself, so this had me completely cringing...!!) 
  • After plowing through season one of "The Crown" on our new Netflix, my next pick was "The Keepers." I devoured all seven episodes over two nights this past week. I love a good true crime story/mystery, and this was extremely well done. As I watched, I realized that my great-aunt had lived in Baltimore during the time the events shown unfolded, and her daughter (my mother's cousin) was the same age as the women in the program -- both she & her husband graduated from (public) high school there in the early 1970s. Beyond the compelling mystery, I absolutely loved seeing all these ordinary 60-something women driving the investigation forward (and doing a better job of it than the police!). And seeing their classmates rise from the ashes of horrible abuse to heal and help others -- one even went back to school in her late 40s and became a lawyer! Girl power, indeed!! :)  Anyone else watch it? 
  • I just watched episode 9 of "The Handmaid's Tale" on Bravo Canada last night (episode 10/season finale next Sunday night). There was a scene in the kitchen between Serena Joy, the Commander's wife, and Martha/Rita, the housekeeper/maid that resonated with me: Serena complains that Naomi Putnam (the wife of another commander) has been complaining that her (Handmaid Janine/Ofwarren's) baby girl has been keeping her up at night, since Janine/Ofwarren's departure. "She shouldn't complain about such a blessing," the two women agree bitterly.  (Oh boy, does this sound familiar...)   
  • Of course (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!!), the main, climactic event of this episode was poor Janine's leap off the bridge, despite Offred/June's best efforts to talk her down. 
    • From the Harper's Bazaar recap of this episode:  "Janine was never really going to jump off that bridge with her baby [not so sure about that myself...], but by taking the baby up there with her, she ensured she’d be given the chance to say her piece. A fitting visual reminder of the fact that a woman’s life in Gilead only has value when she’s carrying a baby."  (Boldfaced emphasis theirs, not mine.)  
    • From the Baltimore Sun's recap:  "...in this week’s most horrifying moment, we realize that Janine is being kept alive on a thread, if only because she is still a fertile woman who can bear Gilead future children. And if you think they would have made any effort had she been infertile, you have been watching a very different television program that I also may be interested in recapping."  
  • Yet another person I know & love has been diagnosed with breast cancer. :(  Her prognosis is good, but still... It's getting scary how many women I know who have fought this battle over the past couple of years. Fuck cancer. :p 
  • Over Father's Day weekend, we went to visit FIL, and I called my own dad. There were no movies dh wanted to see on Sunday (our usual choice of avoidance activity on these occasions), and he didn't have any other ideas about how he wanted to spend the day, so I suggested a little road trip to visit Katie. :)  We drove to the cemetery -- which was very busy, but not in the section where she is, thankfully. Then we went for lunch to a little cafe we used to frequent when we lived in the area (they make great chicken caesar wraps), and then to our old favourite haunt, the local mega-bookstore. :)  And then home again. 
  • And there... a  post! ;)  (When in doubt, try bullet points, lol.)  So much for blogger's block...! ;)
  • ETA:  And, bonus!  Apparently this is post #1,200!! Yikes!! 
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

"The lost tribe"

You would think that it would be pretty hard to ignore a group that represents 1 in 5 women -- but that's exactly how those of us over-40s who live without children -- some by choice, but many more not -- often feel in a world where parents are the majority and the sight of an adorable infant or a baby bump sends people into a tizzy.   

Jody Day of Gateway Women calls us "the lost tribe" and "the biggest diversity group HR hasn't heard of" -- and she recently gave us eloquent voice at a TEDx Talk in Hull, England, now available on YouTube. She covers a lot of ground in a very short amount of time, and I daresay that most of those non-tribe members of the audience learned something new from her. Watch/ listen, learn and share! :) 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Odds & ends

  • I went to see Jann Arden earlier this week, the final "lecture" in the Unique Lives & Experiences series that a friend & I bought season's tickets for this year. (Previous speakers included Julia Gillard, Linda Ronstadt, Susan Aglukark and Lara Logan.)  Not sure how many of you outside of Canada know her, but in addition to being an amazing singer/songwriter, she's a well-known -- and hilarious -- media personality. (She is also single and has no children.)  She often appears as a guest host on "The Social" (Canada's version of "The View" or "The Talk") & has made many memorable appearances on "The Rick Mercer Report."  Her "lecture" was based on her memoir, which I reviewed here, including stories & life lessons about growing up in rural Alberta, how she got started in music, and how the last 10 years of her life have been consumed by caring for her aging parents. It was the best-attended lecture of the series (almost a full house).  
    • As if she needed to further endear herself to me, she complained about being "55 years old and still spending $80 a month on sanitary products," as well as joking about not being able to wear white pants and ruining restaurant chairs. A kindred spirit!! lol  
  • On a related note, I had my annual checkup/Pap with Dr. Ob-Gyn this week (who hinted he may be contemplating retirement.... nooooooooooo.....!!). All was well. I did complain about the fact that I'm 56 & still getting more or less regular periods... he promised me it WILL stop, someday, and sooner vs later!  I told him, "It hasn't been anything I can't handle... it's just that, after 45 years of this, I'm getting JUST a little tired of it!"   
    • The waiting room was PACKED with pregnant women and new mothers with their babies. Of course. It actually didn't bother me as much as it sometimes does. Thank goodness... I guess after almost 19 (!) years, you become a little inured to these things.
    • After my appointment, I went shopping. :) And treated myself to some cute new summer tops. :) 
  • We signed up for Netflix this week. (I know, I know, I'm probably the last person on earth... hey, I'm an aging baby boomer/borderline GenXer, give me a break...!) It actually wasn't as complicated as I was afraid it might be to set up.  Any suggestions to add to my queue (although Netflix Canada doesn't offer all the stuff that's available on Netflix USA)? Right now I'm watching season one of "The Crown."  Any idea when we can look for season 2?? 
  • Love this post from Jess about "the mountain that got away." The mountain in question was in Myanmar, but I kept thinking about Everest and Jon Krakauer's book "Into Thin Air," and how so many people perished because they were so determined to reach the summit, even when they knew that dwindling oxygen, bad weather, darkness & plunging temperatures were upon them. Sometimes, "giving up" can be the smartest thing you'll ever do.  

Monday, June 5, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: 10,000 holes in Blackburn Lancashire...

(Add this to my list of "annoying things"...!)  About five years ago, I started noticing that many of my T-shirts (& even a few of my sweaters) were developing tiny little holes -- always in the same spot (so I very much doubt it's moths), right in the front, near the bottom hem. Not just one brand of T-shirt, either: I have had holes in T-shirts from American Eagle, Old Navy, the Gap, Reitmans, Northern Reflections, Lucky Brand, H&M... I've come to the conclusion that they develop when the fabric rubs against the button on my jeans/shorts (some have suggested the seatbelt in the car is a possible culprit too). 

I'm sure it doesn't help that T-shirts these days seem to be made from the thinnest, flimsiest fabric possible. (I guess there's a reason why these T-shirts are so low priced (some as low as $10-12)... you get what you pay for...!!) (although I've paid a fair amount more for shirts that STILL get holes in them...!)  Until our move last year (when I did a thorough closet cleaning), I still had a couple of 10+-year-old T-shirts from the Gap and a few other stores, and there was a noticeable difference between the fabric they used then and what they're using now. :p  

It drives me nuts to see a hole emerge on a T-shirt that I've worn exactly once or twice and sometimes haven't even washed yet. :p  I don't mind wearing a hole-y T-shirt around the house, but out in public is a different story. :(   (Although I am still wearing some T-shirts with holes in them, just because I like the shirt so much & I hate to throw it out after just a few wears. I just cross my fingers & hope that it's not too noticeable. ;)  When I find a T-shirt that I really, really like, I've resorted to buying a second one as backup, so that I know I'll have it for a little longer. :p (Hmmm, maybe there's a method in the retailers' madness...) 

I did some Googling on this subject before I wrote this, and I know I'm not the only one out there with this issue. Have you noticed this too?? 

(And does anyone recognize where the title of this post comes from?? -- I thought it was timely this week, lol.)  ;)  
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMonday posts here

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Right now

Right now... (an occasional meme, alternating from time to time with "The Current"):  

Reading:  Online stuff (of course) -- & a lot of magazines that have piled up over the past few months. I want/need to get a new book started soon... but which one??  (Most recent purchase: "The Death of Expertise" by Tom Nichols.) 

Watching:  "Designated Survivor" is done for the season, but it will be back this fall. It ended with a cliffhanger, but not before a rousing feel-good speech by "designated survivor"-turned-President Tom Kirkman --- Kiefer Sutherland, who seemed to be channeling his late grandfather, who was quite an orator himself and something of a Canadian hero. ;)  We are still watching "Genius" on the National Geographic channel, about Albert Einstein, which is more soap opera than physics (thankfully for me, lol), but somewhat interesting. And of course, "The Handmaid's Tale" continues to both chill and to fascinate. 

This weekend, I hope to be watching the new "Wonder Woman" movie on the big screen. :)  I never watched the Lynda Carter TV series when I was growing up, and I'm not a comic book devotee by any means, but I enjoy a good superhero(ine) movie now & then. :)  

Eating:  Our first gelatos of the season, last weekend! :)  

Drinking: My morning tea. :) 

Following: The #covfefe kerfuffle on Twitter. ;)  Some funny stuff there (although I think its 15 minutes of fame are almost up). 

Wearing:  Capris & sandals (yay!!) -- they FINALLY came out of the closet, just before the Victoria Day long weekend -- but they still haven't gotten a lot of wear yet, because the weather lately has been rainy & on the cool side. :(   Plus a lot of thunderstorms over the last few days. :(   (Forecast for the next few days looks good, though!) 

Enjoying:  Being able to sit with the balcony door open again (sometimes even when it's raining, depending on the direction it's coming from). 

Admiring: Our new coffee table & end tables, which were delivered earlier this week. They were custom made to match the other furniture we ordered last year, shortly after we moved in (a TV stand, round table & four chairs, china cabinet (my favourite!) and narrow bookcase that fits nicely into a corner and holds our CDs and DVDs). The new tables have drawers to stash stuff in and shelves underneath where books & magazines can be stowed. 

Preparing:  To attend SIL's niece's baby shower this weekend.  :p  I've known the niece since she was born; we attended her parents' wedding, and SIL & both nephews' partners will be going, as well as some of dh's aunts & cousins (who are also related to her -- it's complicated...!), so it's kind of hard to say no to the invitation. 

On the plus side, it's a good excuse to get my first mani-pedi of the season!! ;) That's tomorrow. 

Planning: Our annual summer trek to see the family. :) 

Anticipating: Fresh veggies & new potatoes from my dad's garden -- yum!! 

Wondering:  Whatever happened to May?? And how is it now June (and almost halfway through 2017)???  

The days sometimes drag... but the months & years go flying by... 

Monday, May 29, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: A few annoying things

(Taking my cue from a recent #MM post by Mali. ;)  This might become a regular feature...!)
  • Salespeople who stand at one end of a long counter, absorbed in checking something -- while I'm at the head of the checkout line at the other end, waiting for someone to ring in my purchase (for several minutes) -- and then, when they do motion me forward, ignore me (except to take my money) while shouting to one of the other store clerks some distance away while I'm standing there...! 
  • Mommies pushing those huge strollers at the mall, ambling along in pairs or groups, two abreast, chatting and looking at their phones, taking up the whole aisle & making it impossible for other people to get around them.  
  • Moms who ignore the baby/toddler in the stroller who is trying to get their attention while they're absorbed in checking their phones. 
  • Moms who stand in the aisle of the bookstore talking to a friend or checking their phone -- while their toddler throws a mega-tantrum in the next aisle, screaming at the top of their lungs -- and ignore the child, letting the tantrum continue for a full FIVE MINUTES before intervening (hmmm, I sense a theme here...!).  
  • Disorganized bookshelves at the bookstore -- it sometimes looks like a cyclone went through, especially after the weekend. I realize these stores are staffed thinly and staff are stretched... and customers will take a book off the shelf to look at and then shove it back any old place... but still...!  I often spend half my time there reorganizing the shelves and moving books into proper alphabetical order (does anyone know alphabetical order these days?? or that books in the biography section should be filed according to the name of the subject and not the author?? -- it seems not...).  Nothing drives me crazier than seeing three copies of  a book on one shelf (and not in alphabetical order), and then two more copies two shelves down (ARRRGGGHHHH....).  Dh says "it's not your job." I said, "Maybe it should be, since nobody else seems to be doing it...!"  lol  (Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this...!) 
  • People who leave their cigarette butts on the floor of our condo's parking garage (particularly since it's a no-smoking zone in the first place...!). 
  • People who leave their cars parked in a clearly marked no-parking zone right in front of the supermarket, blocking other cars that are entering & exiting the parking lot ("oh, I'll only be in there a minute...")(last Sunday afternoon there were FOUR parked in a row!!). 
  • The neighbour somewhere directly above us, who must have recently bought some plants for their balcony (which is all fine & good) & is a little TOO enthusiastic about watering them well, as the excess water cascades off the edge of their balcony & comes splashing onto ours. It's not a very big balcony & one of the chairs is always getting wet. Fortunately, nobody has been sitting there when this has happened (yet...!). 
(All real-life incidents, by the way...!)

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMonday posts here