Letters from Tammy Strobel is a free weekly newsletter about creativity and curiosity, funded through Buy Me a Coffee.
Thank you for reading!
Last week, I wrote about our adventures with COVID-19. Thanks for your kind emails and concern. Logan (my amazing husband) is COVID free and is back to his normal routine. I’m thrilled that he bounced back so quickly. And, I’m glad we took extra precautions to prevent spreading COVID at home and in our community.
I updated my last letter because my language wasn’t clear enough. We understand that it is possible to get COVID-19 even though we are vaccinated, boosted, and wear masks in public spaces. Breakthrough infections are common. Getting vaccinated—and boosted—is a simple way to reduce the likelihood of becoming acutely ill or dying from COVID-19. This is true of the flu, the measles, mumps, and other nasty viruses. I’m a fan of vaccines!Also, you can scroll to the bottom of this letter to see my footnotes.
As I head into my birthday weekend, I’m feeling grateful to be healthy.
A few months ago, I thought about planning a weekend trip to the coast for my birthday. I decided against it, though. I wanted to stay home with Logan and Ursula the Cat, and spend time with loved ones.
I enjoy investing in experiences because I don’t need more stuff. However, I do buy things occasionally. A few weeks ago, I bought a new set of cotton sheets for our bed. I love to sleep, so the sheets are a great gift. Plus, Logan can enjoy them too!
I also purchased Ross Gay’s new book — Inciting Joy: Essays! I LOVE Gay’s writing and I can’t wait to read it.
I’ll also ride my bike this weekend! And speaking of cycling ...
Adventures on Two Wheels
When we moved to Siskiyou County in 2013, we bought a used Ford Fiesta. We spent the previous five years living in cities and didn’t need to own a car. At the time, buying a car improved the quality of our lives while living in a rural area. We used the car for work and travel, and it was a wonderful tool.
I can’t believe we’ve owned the Fiesta for nine years! And I can’t believe we’ve been “thinking about” selling the car since we moved to Chico in 2018. A variety of life circumstances caused us to keep the car. But we’ve hit a tipping point. The car is valued at $2500, and we’ve spent $2700 on the car over the past two weeks.
Last week, I took the car into the shop for an oil change. In addition to the oil change, the car needed new gaskets, brakes, spark-plugs, and more. This is standard maintenance and cost about $1000. Two days later the car lost power. I got it back to the shop and the mechanic determined that a computer module broke. Other than the transmission, the computer module is one of the biggest parts to break in the car. The part is back-ordered, so we were lucky the shop found the part. The new computer, plus labor, cost roughly $1700.
We decided to fix the Fiesta and sell it. We feel great about selling the car because it’s in good shape for a new owner. We rarely drive the car, so it doesn’t make sense for us to keep it. We paid it off years ago, but when we factored in maintenance, insurance, gas, registration fees, parking, and depreciation, the Fiesta costs us about $350 a month to maintain. That’s a lot of money to spend; especially since it is parked 95% of the time.
I wrote about our car-free adventures in my first book—You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap).Going car-free helped us pay off our debt and get into better shape! I'm excited to go car-free again. Chico is bike friendly, walkable, and the local bus service is decent. I haven’t taken the bus yet because I love riding my pink bike around town.
Whenever I ride my bike, I feel alive, free, and joyful. I don’t get these kinds of feelings when I drive our car. Also, I love that my bike is a constant source of conversation. For example, I talked with a fellow patron—who I’ll call S—at one of my favorite coffee shops recently. Our conversation started because S remarked on my bag, and then we began talking about our experiences cycling in different cities and countries, and the biking culture in Chico. S said that she’s seen my pink bike parked at the café frequently. She also “loved my helmet.”
It was the sweetest exchange. I told S to say hello the next time she sees me at the café. If I’d driven my car to the coffee shop, I don’t think our conversation would have occurred.
With that, here’s a short round-up of what I enjoyed reading and listening to over the past week:
1.) “You don't need another art course” by Louise Stigell was a timely article about information overload. It inspired me to make more time to practice drawing.
2.) I started reading the 2018 edition of Your Money or Your Life and it is excellent! I did the 9-step program over a decade ago, and I’m going to do it again.
3.) This week, I’ve been listening to Taylor Swift’s new album on repeat. I love it!
A big thanks goes to: Dorthe, Jen, Sara, Bob, and Kaatje for supporting my work through Buy Me a Coffee.
Your support—whether it’s a coffee, comment, or kind e-mail—encourages me to keep creating.
Thanks for being here!
CDC. (n.d.) Vaccine Effectiveness & Breakthrough Surveillance: Explore how effective the COVID-19 vaccine is against infection, hospitalization, and death. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 3, 2022 from https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccine-effectiveness-breakthrough
CDC. (n.d.) Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 3, 2022 https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mmr/public/
Mattson, J. (November 2020). Relationships between density, transit, and household expenditures in small urban areas. Science Direct. Retrieved November 3, 2022. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590198220301718
Two Cents. (October 1, 2018). How Cars Keep You POOR! [Video] YouTube. Retrieved November 3, 2022.
Strobel, T. (August 22, 2012). You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too. New World Library.
‘It inspired me to make more time to practice drawing.’ — How are you doing that? As a big-time planner myself, always interested to hear how other people go about creating time.