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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

God is GOOD! and Yarn

Oh, yes.

GOD IS GOOD.

bigfatcheck

The insurance company sent a check today. I am utterly floored (in a good way).

The damage was estimated at $50,000. But the check covers more than half. It's unclear whether it is contingent on doing the repairs or not, but so what? There is plenty of money in the estate account to more than cover the difference, and some of the repairs listed in the 18-page outline that accompanied it are stuff I could do myself. It's still $30k + that we do not have to contribute, and that is

AWESOME!

Yes, I fell onto my knees (my poor knees with broken cartilege) on hardwood floor when I saw the amount and praised God, praised God, praised God and was almost in tears. (That alone was an accomplishment since my ability to cry over anything but tragedy has been dysfunctional for awhile now.)

And if you think that's all... it just keeps getting better. I left a comment over at Jessica's Blog and my comment was chosen randomly. Guess what I won?

Yarn!

Guess what kind of yarn?

I Won Yarn!

SOCK YARN!!!!! MY FAVORITE!!!!! And I love the colors, which you can't see very well in this photo because it's evening and the lighting but I just didn't want to wait until morning to post this, so here's a close up with the flash on for the colors:

Sock Yarn Close Up

I can't wait to knit this and watch the self-pattern emerge. THANK YOU, JESSICA, YOU ROCK!

What a great day.

Yes, of course I went out and bought lottery tickets. Are you crazy? Waste this good money/winning energy? That 25 million is TOTALLY mine...




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Monday, July 28, 2008

Seven Deadly Sinz Meme and Quiz

Oh, my goodness, they know me too well! Apparently, SLOTH is what will condemn me to hell. Ain't that the sad truth!

Greed:Medium

Gluttony:Low

Wrath:Very Low

Sloth:High

Envy:Low

Lust:Low

Pride:Very Low

The Seven Deadly Sins Quiz on 4degreez.com

SLOTH (def.): n.
  1. Aversion to work or exertion; laziness; indolence.
  2. Any of various slow-moving, arboreal, edentate mammals of the family Bradypodidae of South and Central America, having long hooklike claws by which they hang upside down from tree branches and feeding on leaves, buds, and fruits, especially:
    1. A member of the genus Bradypus, having three long-clawed toes on each forefoot. Also called ai, three-toed sloth.
    1. A member of the genus Choloepus, having two toes on each forefoot. Also called two-toed sloth, unau.
  3. A company of bears.
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.


Since I am not a bear... I'm assuming my sin is related to #1. So without further adieu, here is:

The Seven Deadly Sins Meme!

WRATH/ANGER

1. Who did you last get angry with?

My sister. It was REALLY volatile, and the first real argument we've ever had (which explains a lot about our relationship—or lack thereof—over the past 45 years).

2. What is your weapon of choice?

Words.

3. Would you hit a member of the opposite sex?

Only if he hit me first and it was in self-defense.

4. How about of the same sex?

See #3.

5. Who was the last person who got really angry at you?

See #1.

6. What is your pet peeve?

People who are completely out of touch with Consciousness, who only see things from a grounded earth-based POV, and who absolutely cannot allow themselves to see the other person's side of things.

7. Do you keep grudges, or can you let them go easily?

I used to keep them, but I've been learning to let them go.

SLOTH

1. What is one thing you’re supposed to do daily that you don’t?

Brush my teeth.

2. What is the latest you’ve ever woken up?

Uh, I was a traveling rock musician in the 80s. Do you really want to know? Fine. 6:00 PM.

3. Who have you been meaning to contact, but haven’t?

The barn manager.

4. What is the last lame excuse you made?

Aren't they all lame?

5. Have you ever watched an infomercial all the way through?

Yes. Then I ordered the product. I own the Magic Bullet Blender. AND I LOVE IT. It makes killer smoothies in like 10 seconds. ZZZZZRRRRRPPPP!!!! Done. Worth every penny.

6. When was the last time you got in a good workout?

Um... at the gym? Last fall. But loading and unloading an entire 10x12 storage unit, including the loading of a washer, dryer, stove, and rolltop desk onto, then off of, a pickup truck SHOULD count for something.

7. How many times did you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock today?

None. :-)
.
.
.
OK. Fine. I'll own up. I don't turn the alarm clock ON. I just wake up when I wake up. Ah, the benefits of being liberated from the work force.

GLUTTONY

1. What is your overpriced yuppie beverage of choice?

Chai!

2. Meat eaters: white meat or dark meat??

White and only if it's chunked up really good first. (Cannot dissect my food!)

3. What is the greatest amount of alcohol you’ve had in one sitting/outing/event?

Ulllgggh. Uhhh... either the time I tried to keep up with my alcoholic guitarist (1997) and drank 9 beers in one night (hungover like you would not believe, thought I was gonna die and oh btw he won) or the time I drank an entire bottle of NightTrain wine (1986, maybe?), not realizing when my friend and I would go through two bottles, though we split it, I didn't drink an entire bottle myself (guys can hold more)...

Yeah, I don't drink like that anymore. Notice both occurred before the year 2000. I'm lucky if I can manage three beers in one night nowadays (and still be awake).

4. Have you ever used a professional diet company?

A what?

5. Do you have an issue with your weight?

Not really. It's there, but I don't have an issue with it.

6. Do you prefer sweets, salty foods, or spicy?

Spicy. I'm not that big on sweet or salty. Though I love chocolate, I don't like SWEET chocolate. Nor do I like bitter. I like... semi-sweet. Or sweet with salt (nuts).

7. Have you ever looked at a small house pet or child and thought “lunch”?

What? Uh, no?

LUST

1. How many people have you seen naked (not counting movies/family)?

I'm sorry. I've lost count.

2. How many people have seen YOU naked (not counting physicians/family)?

I'm sorry. I've lost count.

3. Have you ever caught yourself staring at the chest/crotch of a member of the opposite gender during a normal conversation?

Oh my gosh this is an embarrassing meme.

4. Have you ever kissed two people in one night?

*blushing* Yes... IT WAS THE 80s. I WAS IN A BAND. WE DID THAT. I don't do that anymore.

5. What is your favorite body part on a person of your gender of choice?

Eyes. Boring, huh?

6. Have you ever been propositioned by a prostitute?

Not that I'm awa—oh, wait, yes, I was, but it was a funny story. I'm in L.A. My friend and I are getting out of my car in front of Ricki Rachtman's CatHouse (major club at the time) for a night of rock n roll fun. This... er... individual approaches us and tries to interest us in partaking of, er, it. It was a young white male—in drag. In a miniskirt. And I think he batted for the other team. But he said we ladies were so fine he was willing to make an exception. He was flip and sweet about it. We just laughed, said no thank you, and complimented him on his outfit. Does that count?

7. Is love at first sight really lust?

Depends. Did they wind up married, or just make the most of the moment? If the former, it's not. If the latter, it's lust.

GREED

1. How many credit cards do you own?

I don't own them, the banks/companies own them. (I know. I'm in one of those moods today.) OK. I'll play nice. I no longer use them. I have one outstanding card, and that's Home Depot, and it's a smallish amount, and the only reason I used it was to buy the plumbing fixtures for the house I'm trying to sell, figuring it can get paid from the proceeds of the sale, thus not coming out of my survival money. Plus it had 12 months no interest no payments. It's due in January 2009. I'll probably pay it off this month because I'm tired of looking at it. But I live on a cash-only basis now and this world tries to make that very difficult, doesn't it?

2. What’s your guilty pleasure store?

Any music store or book store (Amazon). (Nope. Not the yarn store anymore. I am oversaturated with yarn.)

3. If you had $1 million, what would you do with it?

Tithe first, then INVEST IT. Or most of it. Make it grow.

4. Would you rather be rich, or famous?

RICH. Because you can't pay bills with famous.

5. Would you accept a boring job if it meant you would make megabucks?

Nope. Tried that already. There are not enough anti-depressants in the world to assuage the depression that came as a result. Boring megabucks jobs are not worth feeling suicidal every day.

6. Have you ever stolen anything?

Oh, geez. When I was a minor, I shoplifted a bit like most kids—see what we could get away with. The biggest thing I took was a skirt and blazer in my big purse. I never wore it, I felt too guilty. I think my Mom eventually found it and took it back. Of course, when my friend and I got caught at Rink's Bargain City (in the 70s) with lipstick we hadn't paid for... I realized there were consequences and that was the end of my life of crime. Unless you count stealing parking spaces from someone by zipping in before they can get there... I try to live above the law. But I have my own laws about some things.

7. How many MP3s are on your hard drive?

Probably over 1,000 (after checking iTunes) but about half of them are MP3d from my personal collection or purchased music (or my own stuff), and the other half are free podcasts.

PRIDE

1. What’s one thing you have done that you’re most proud of?

Getting my PNH Level 1 with Wildflower in 2002, getting past my fears and taking Cheerios to a PNH clinic this year.

2. What one thing have you done that your parents are most proud of?

Gotten my college degree. That was like the ONE THING they really wanted me to do.

3. What things would you like to accomplish in your life?

Get my PNH Levels 2 and 3, finish all three of the TKGA Handknitter levels, finish and distribute at least 5 CDs of my own music and sell them (five albums, dude!), write a book, get married, win the lottery, travel, live to be 95.

4. Do you get annoyed by coming in second place?

Depends on who or what I come in second place TO. If the winner far exceeds or slightly edges out me, then no. But if I've done the best job of all, and I lose to someone who has not followed the rules or did a terrible job but won due to politics or because they cheated the system, then... it pisses me off. (I have stories!)

5. Have you ever entered a contest of skill, knowing you were of much higher skill than all the other competitors?

Yes, but that doesn't mean I won. (Although I am currently annihilating my ego-identity, I'll veer off long enough to point out in what might sound like sour grapes but is a view shared by the majority of the entrants that the Toledo Blade Battle of the Bands was a complete joke. It was billed as a contest seeking originality and talent, but it soon became obvious due to flaws in the voting system that the act with the biggest network of computer-using friends had the edge regardless of talent; that a bad cover tune band doing a COVER—ie not an original song—could triumph over a good original act; and that you could be great, but if someone saw you getting ahead, they could destroy your chance of winning with one bad star rating out of spite or idiocy.)

6. Have you ever cheated on something to get a higher score?

Yes, but it wasn't anything "important" like a SAT.

7. What did you do today that you’re proud of?

Let's go with yesterday: I COOKED a healthy meal. I got inspired to do a stir fry (lived off of them and Ramen noodles in the L.A. years), and I went grocery shopping anyway, and I made Kung Pao Chicken. Except I used meatless chicken strips. Chicken, green onions, peanuts, and a half packet of Kung Pao seasoning mix and some instant rice. YUMOLA! I think I'll do another fry tonight but with TOFU! Yes I bought tofu again, first time in eons. First time I came home from the store with absolutely zero meat (unless you count the cat food).

ENVY

1. What item (or person) of your friends would you most want to have for your own?

My very own pickup truck and barn.

2. Who would you want to go on “Trading Spaces” with?

NOBODY! I don't trust anyone with redecorating my space!

3. If you could be anyone else in the world, who would you be?

That's hard to say, because everyone has their tragedies and personal problems and I'm not sure I'd want to trade those... but... someone very wealthy and in great shape. Uhh... but also spiritual... oh, crap. I dunno. Let's be simple. Steve Perry or Stevie Nicks. Great careers. Why not?

4. Have you ever been cheated on?


Yes.

5. Have you ever cheated?

Yes.

6. Have you ever wished you had a physical feature different from your own?

Yes but you'd never believe it if I told you what it was. If I get enough comments asking about it, I'll reveal it but otherwise, it remains a secret.

7. What inborn trait do you see in others that you wish you had for yourself?

Absolute, unwavering faith and perseverance. The ability to make decisions without second-guessing myself into a frenzy. Stick-to-it-iveness. Oh—ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS! I wish I could be one of those obnoxiously organized habitually punctual fully pulled together people!


Not tagging anyone. If you have the time and inclination, feel free, and leave a comment to that effect so I can read it.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hogan's Hero

Hey, everyone, please go visit Stick and give her a little love and comfort. Her kittygirl Hogan passed away last weekend and she's taking the loss a bit hard.

R.I.P. Hogan (1992-2008)

In other news, there has been progress on the house fire front, some good news, and some nice developments that I'll share once it all cements in.

More later. I have a herd of cats that need some serious squooshin' on.


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Friday, July 11, 2008

Forgetting and Finding

There are times when I forget.

I forget that my parents have died. I forget they even existed. I forget the current circumstances, financial and otherwise. I forget the fears, the anxieties, the worries. I forget what year—what decade—it is. I forget my own age.

I don't mean "forget" in an amnesia, Alzheimer's or senility sense—rather, it's like I lose touch with all of it for awhile. It ceases to exist. My focus shifts to the moment.

Usually the shift occurs when I am writing music and recording new songs, or playing with my horse. (Once in awhile I'll get lost in a chore like trimming bushes and kind of get there.) For that moment, all is right with the world. Nothing bad exists. Life is AMAZING. Wonderful. Peaceful. Perfect. I'm... somewhere else. Not sure where. SomeWHEN else... not sure when. All I know is, I'm somewhere and somewhen in which all possibility exists again, when life is easily and effortlessly sustained, when all is well, where I am happy and filled with joy, where I am safe.

In these moments, I am OK. Life is OK.

It is startling and painful beyond words to come out of it, look around, and be slapped with the reminder that it isn't OK at all (according to what we term general "rational" thought).

But I wonder—IS it really not OK? If I CAN be, in those moments, OK and full of possibility and optimism—is it possible that if I can stay focused on how I feel in THOSE moments, perhaps I can wind my way back around to a place where reality (externality) aligns with and matches consciousness (internality) as it is in THOSE moments?

Does the external create the internal... or is it the other way around? Does the external physical "reality" take shape AFTER the thoughts and feelings have occurred, rather than occurring as an event that results in how we think/feel? Is our current "reality"—that is, what we see and experience—simply a mirror image reflection of the current condition of what we're going through on the inside?

Which came first—physical chaos, or internal chaos?

As you know, I've been studying the LOA for a good year as well as the Bible recently. Much of the philosophy teaches that in order to change our lives, we must know the desired end result/outcome/new reality first. Then, it is altered by dredging up, identifying and changing limiting beliefs; or by changing how you think about/perceive something; or by generating positive feelings (emotions) toward what you want (the result). Supposedly this all leads to bringing oneself into alignment with the desired outcome which produces actions and insights to guide us there.

Apparently, once this is accomplished, the soul is happier.

But I'm beginning to think they're all missing something. I've recently begun Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth" and it's opened up an awareness in me.

I think change begins with the soul.

It's the core of our being. It IS our being. It is the awareness that precedes thought, feeling, belief.

This is what I see happening in my life: I work on changing beliefs. I take actions designed to fix things. If the problem is "need money", I take actions to change that: get a job (in the band), sell stuff. It starts out great, then it subsequently collapses. EVERY TIME. I have a house to sell, it burns. I have stuff to sell, nobody buys it. I look for jobs, there are none. I apply to jobs when I find them, then don't get hired. I get a job, I get fired before I even get settled in. I trim something, it grows back like a cancer.

All of these things sort of work (changing limiting beliefs, feelings, thought processes) or they work partway, but they don't stick.

This insight came to me before starting Tolle—what struck me profoundly was looking at the living room mess. The boxes. It began two years ago when I moved in. Sudden chaos entered. Then slowly I addressed it and carted it out. It got moved into storage. Things became cleaner. Then... it collapsed. Imploded. No longer able to afford storage, everything came back. Now, it's worse than before.

And it occurred to me that the mess I see, the chaotic disorganized scattered clutter before me, is much the way I feel inside. I looked at the circumstances of my life, and it startled me to see that they basically mirror everything going on inside of me. My life is chaotic? I am chaotic inside! There is no focus to my life? There is no focus to me! I've lost my vision for my life, my dream, my very sense of self (the ego, as Tolle would say).

The things that I used to identify myself (ego again) have all been taken from me (or could soon be): parents, independence, job, dream/vision, material things, money... it's all been in a sort of free-fall collapse since 2006 and my attempts to prevent or restore things have failed. It's gotten to the point where all I can do is stand by helplessly and watch because anything I try to do will only make it worse, or make such a small dent that it'll quickly be undone.

It's been CYA time. Cover Your A$$. It's been like being on a plane that's crashing. You have no control anymore. All you can do is tuck your head down and kiss your @$$ goodbye, and pray for a softer landing than you're anticipating.

Except in those moments when I forget. Those blissful moments when I forget I'm even on the plane.

Feng Shui would tell you that by changing your environment you change YOU. The LOA says change begins with thought, feeling and beliefs. But neither has had a lasting effect.

I think it's because although I've taken steps toward change, I've not gone deep enough.

I think it's because at the core, my SOUL is what needs to be fixed. I think—feel, believe, intuit, am aware that—if the cracks in my soul get fixed, the world will right itself accordingly.

Let me repeat a sentence, slightly altered with this new perspective in mind:

Is our current "reality"—that is, what we see and experience—simply a mirror image reflection of the current condition of our soul?

I think we can become soul-sick. I'm only just starting Tolle, so maybe this is where he winds up going, too. We'll see. But my insight is this: if the soul is our foundation, all the other stuff is basically surface. By changing thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions, we're doing patch-up work and putting band-aids on the real problem. But if we address the foundation and change IT...

Perhaps the process of change moves more like this:
soul --> thought --> belief --> feeling --> action --> result/reality

As I've delved more deeply into my spiritual journey, I've noticed that I've developed more inner peace, less stress, the ability to laugh in the face of enormous catastrophes, and I've begun writing more songs. The more I write and record... the more improvements are occurring in my life. The improvements are small in comparison to the entire circumstance (such as finding out from the photos that the fire damage is nowhere near as bad as what other people's descriptions had me envisioning), but it seems that those moments of being "lost" are very significant in the ability to attract better outcomes.

Perhaps in those forgetful moments where I think of myself as "lost" in relation to the world, instead I am truly "found". Perhaps in those moments, I am connecting with—and healing—my soul.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Another Fire Update

The good news is, the insurance coverage is intact. Thank you, grace periods. All paid, all good. Now we wait for the insurance adjuster (the actual one, not the after-hours guy) to look at it and assess it.

The fire chief left a message on my machine this morning about the fire. I'm sorry... but am I the only one who thinks it is a little insensitive to leave a message that says:

"There was a fire at your home here in Southern Ohio. Damage is pretty heavy and it looks like arson. If you have questions, call..."

I'm really glad I already knew. That kind of thing before coffee could well have done me in.

I called the chief (I was nice despite it) and photos are on their way. Will I be able to handle it? I suppose it's like death—one must look at the "body" for it to be "real". Right now it's just an airy concept. But the thought of flames and smoke engulfing my Grandmother's beloved home... haven't felt pain like that since Dad died and I heard Mom's prognosis. (At least I know now that I can live through it.)

So we are on hold in limbo yet again. The upside is, we didn't distribute anything yet so it's all there in the accounts for use if needed. I must believe it was God's way of protecting us.

There really are a lot of positives in this. My sister and I reconnecting after our horrid blowout; that this might wind up assisting us in a speedier sale and closure of the estate (if the house is fixed up a little, it might sell faster! Wouldn't THAT be ironic?); that it's brought me deeper into my relatively newfound faith; and I woke up with a song in my head today. A new one.

Though I logically thought that I should take care of biz first then fool around with the song, the urgency to put the song first was so strong I had to obey, and all I had were the first verse and chorus.

I obeyed—and it came pouring out. It wrote itself.

Please understand I do not toot my own horn here, because I know where it came from—I didn't create this, I'm just the channel for it—but I'm awestruck at how quickly it poured forth, how complete and perfect it feels, and how much it says what I've been needing to hear. I cannot sing it without crying. I have three verses, the chorus, and I know how it ends. All I have to do is record it. Then I'll post it somewhere if you're curious.

I wrote it, then I took care of business, and everything began to fall magically into place.

Connected?

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

More Info

OK, so the insurance adjuster is on the case and I'll know more tomorrow about the policy issue (if it's even an issue).

I also spoke to the guy who'd bought the adjacent lot. He was quite helpful. He described the damage. He's a fireman so he knows what he's looking at. He explained what steps I needed to take next. He's very helpful. He'd been out clearing brush on his lot on the 3rd and all was well. When he drove past on the 4th and saw the caution tape and the burnt part, he was dumbfounded. So sometime between the afternoon of the 3rd and the 4th, someone set the fire.

I'd like to know the time if they can pinpoint it. Because what's getting to me is, the house was probably on fire right around the time that my sister and I were arguing. Or shortly thereafter. Remember the strange sense of calm and peace I felt afterwards?

It's creepy.

And I had absolutely no premonitions, no dreams, nothing about the fire. Usually I do.

Apparently, the damage is contained to one part of the old house, but it goes all the way up and a good portion of the roof is gone. (It's two stories plus an attic one can stand up in, so it's like three stories.) IHHO, structurally the house is still sound (and standing), and it is fixable, but probably costly. But the township might rather condemn it. It could go either way. Depends on what everyone decides (insurance, the township).

I'm looking at it as a positive. Trying really hard. I mean, this just HAS to be a blessing in disguise. It HAS to. (The alternative is too cruel to consider.) If it can be fixed, maybe someone will be moved to do so and buy it anyway. If it can't, then... maybe it's best to demolish it, then let someone buy the lot and rebuild. I mean, we DO still have the land. The land can still be sold. Sure, it'll be less profit for us to split and we might have to pay for demolition of the rest of it, and there might be insurance money to help with that... it's too soon to know yet.

There IS still hope.

It's just a complete shock. And, though I let go of the house earlier this year, it still feels like a death. Because even if it's fixed, that part of the house is forever gone. It's dying. It hurts.

Lot 2 suggested we find someone to secure the house, because it's still exposed to the elements (needs a tarp) and the doors are wide open. His concern... if it was an intentional malicious arson, they could return to finish the job.

My thoughts are, they didn't need access to set the first fire... but yes the open wound needs protected. And that would be really sad if someone was mean enough to burn it all the way down.

But... if that's what's meant to happen, maybe it would be for the better. If it were going to come to us having to demolish it, perhaps they'd be doing us a favor.

I don't know. I'm still trying to process it, and I haven't eaten yet today.

But I'm OK... considering. One of my friends said, "Well, in the past months, you've screamed, cried, and expressed every other emotion over all of this except one."

I said, "Which one?"

She said "Laughter."

She said it's so bizarre and unbelievable that about all you can do now IS to laugh, and maybe that's what God's trying to get me to do. Learn to laugh through my trials and learn to find the blessings in disguise.

Then her son came by and asked if I had any beef jerky (we were on the phone, Ohio to Vermont).

I said, "No, but I have some HOUSE jerky."

Heh. Lame, but it's a start.

There is one positive thing, I guess. My sister and I are on speaking terms again, united in our misery and loss.


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It's Over

I'm in complete shock. I have not processed this yet.

My sister called.

The realtor called about the house down south.

Someone set it on fire.

Apparently the whole front of the house all the way to the attic is... gone. I don't know how gone. The story alternated between not salvageable to being blackened all the way up and needing to be boarded up.

I don't know how bad it is.

She said this was her worst fear.

I say, thanks, thanks for focusing on that.

I don't even know about the insurance. They usually send a half-year bill. I've looked EVERYWHERE. I was just wondering when it would arrive because it's about now that it would show up. The only thing I've gotten was a letter in April saying they'd changed the policy to a farmowner rather than farm and fire, and I'd be getting updated policy info and a statement in the mail later.

It has not arrived.

I might be disorganized, but I'm very careful with all the bills for the estate and my own bills. That is one thing I'm diligent about. Even so, I tore the place apart, searched the car, everywhere just to make sure I didn't overlook it or misplace it.

No such mailing.

The phone number doesn't take messages. It's in southern Ohio.

The last mailing said the coverage (farm & fire) that was being cancelled ran through the 22nd of June. But not to worry, it said, because we weren't losing our coverage, they were just cancelling the old policy to write the new one.

But they haven't sent it.

And I'm afraid.

I need faith more than ever right now. But all I can think is, "and there it is. I'm doomed." Because we can't sell it now. If we do, it'll be as land only, and we'll have to have it torn down. Unless somebody had the guts to buy it as is.

It's most likely arson, because it appeared to be purposely set. So there'll be an investigation. Regardless of the insurance issues. And that means further delays.

I don't understand why this is all happening. I was so very close to finally being free, finally having what Mother wanted me to have, finally having the possibility. So close.

I think I'm going back to bed. I can't handle life anymore. This is too much.


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Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Fireworks Day

I'm blogging this while awaiting the arrival of B. We are repeating Memorial Day festivities. Grilling and beer. For me, Black N Bleu burger; for her, either a BnB or a Cheddar N Bacon burger (they're premade that way and YUM). A couple sides, dessert, and Mexican beer (we likes our Tecates and Coronas with lime thankyouverymuch).

Then it's off to see the fireworks from our usual spot by the rec center on campus. They have surprisingly good displays here. It's only 72 today, partly sunny, rather nice. I'm surprised we haven't been hit yet with the sultries (95 in the shade and drippingly humid, requiring the use of A/C just to exist).

Good thing, though, because I still haven't taken down the storm windows to put up screens.

If I wait much longer, I can just leave them up.

Anybody want to buy a barely-breathed-on banjo? It's a Fender FB-55, the next level up from entry level, with hardshell case. I had it on eBay with a reserve. It didn't sell. I relisted. Someone asked how much the banjo weighed. I weighed it. Five pounds.

Next thing you know, I get a notice from eBay of a policy violation! I've inflated the shipping costs for something that doesn't weigh much! They pulled my ad! Because of the violation infringement, they are allowed to charge me the fees, DOUBLED because it was relisted!!!

Outraged? Moi?

I've contacted them TWICE. The first time, I told them I'd based shipping on the other auctions for "banjo with hardshell case" and actually worried that with the size, awkwardness etc of the thing, I was undercharging (because I was charging less than the others). AND, it's not the weight of the BANJO. It's the case! IT weighs a ton. The banjo is light as a feather. So the shipping is for the CASE.

As I explained to them.

They reassured me that the charges would be credited back.

They weren't. I owe them $17.30 for this venture. Fire off email #2, where I tell them in no uncertain terms that they are most definitely NOT charging my card, they are reversing this, explained once again why, explained that this is only my second-ever attempt at doing an auction (and at this rate, it will be my last), and then I cancelled my PayPal account so they can't dip into my bank account (although I'm sure they have my credit card on file but hopefully this will end all possibility of them charging it "legally", and if they do manage to finagle it, I'm calling the credit card company).

I'm hopping mad about that, can you tell?

All they had to do was notify me that I might be in violation and give me a chance to change the ad or something. This is flat out PUNISHMENT and I won't stand (or sit) for it. They're reversing the charges and that is final.

Oh, B is here! Yay, food and beer! Be safe and happy, y'all! Thank God for our independence.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Commiserations

Thank you for the kind words.

Oh, there may be hope. We'll see. I'm believing—intending—that out of this experience, positive goodness will come.

Awhile back, Big L*ts had a major overstock on my favorite deoderant. I'd stocked up with about ten of them. They cost $1.85 each. I'm on the last one. Time to replenish.

I went to the grocery store today for various sundry items and stopped in the de-stinkifier aisle for the product.

Once I removed my eyeballs and jaw from the floor, I quickly left the aisle, still stinky.

Seriously.

$6.59 for a [blaspheme][blaspheme] DEODERANT?!?!?

I think this makes it a "special occasion" fragrance.

(OK. To be fair. I can get it online for less. But still. Such expensive underarms.)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

One-Half Percent

I've had a bad day and wrote an insufferably long post, but I couldn't bring myself to air the entire basket of dirty laundry in public today, so...

Basically, as far as my family life is concerned, it's over. It's really, truly, over this time. I am officially an only child without parents or family members remaining.

And it was going so well with Sister. Judging by our last few conversations, we were on common ground finally and getting along well.

I guess I was wrong.

It started out great. I found out that since we're the co-executors, we have the power to transfer the funds and we can go ahead and write the partial distribution/equalization checks. That was better news, I thought, than my first chat of the day with her, where we agreed that we'd each take an equal smaller advance for now while the lawyer did the transfer.

I guess she wasn't ready to accept the whole enchilada, and the possibility of getting the money she's been whining about wanting to have RIGHT NOW for the past two years was too much, and it triggered a self-sabotaging action, and boom.

World War III. The ensueing blow out over the phone pretty much ended our relationship. We said a loooooootttt of nasty stuff. (But she started it... and I, foolishly, didn't see the trap, took the bait, and fell for it. By the time I realized what I was in, it was impossible to get out.)

After insulting me, telling me all my character flaws, accusing me of being like Anna Nicole Smith (influencing the old folks to give all their wealth to the interloper), and my hitting back with how if it weren't for my intervention, she wouldn't be getting a damned thing (among other nasties), it ended with her saying it's not equal unless I agree to pay the property tax on this house for 2007, and if I'm not going to agree to make it equal, then she isn't signing anything.

(Well, fuck you, too, princess.)

Then told me she wasn't interested in speaking to me anymore (as in ever, ever again) and hung up on me. (Just like Mother used to do when she didn't get her way.)

So in the span of a half hour, I went from about to have my share of the money and improved familial relations to maybe never having any of the money ever in my life as long as I live, plus now I officially have no family, at least none that are on speaking terms with me.

****

No, I'm OK. Considering.

Now, that is. I wasn't earlier, but I called a good friend sobbing, and she helped.

But I've pretty much learned to pull myself back from the ledge on my own. I'm just very, very, very disappointed in Sister's behavior (and mine).

You know why?

Because this is over the sum total of $1,100.

The property tax on this house is about $2,200 a year. If the estate pays it, we "split" it, so that's $1,100 out of her share. If I pay the entire thing, she gets $1,100 "more" because I pay her "share". She wants me to "pay" all of 2007 based on the fact that I was in residence.

I have a philosophical and a practical reason for opposing this.

Philosophically, and probably legally, the owner of the property is responsible for the tax. Therefore, the estate is responsible for the 2007 tax year because the deed was signed in April 2008. I didn't own it until then. (My argument: if you rent a house, are you responsible for paying the tax? No. The landlord/owner is. They won't come after the renter for it, they'll go after the owner for non-payment. Also, if residency is the deciding factor, then all members of the household are equally responsible, including the children, and hey, she lived here for awhile too, so...)

Besides. It's not FREE to live here. It just means no mortgage/rent. I still have to pay all the utilities, the upkeep, the insurance, AND carry my other house until it sells—with no job in a tight market, and my savings? Uh... well, I had some... (She has a job. And let's not go there, but—I was the one who was HERE in 2006... y'think maybe you could back off on this for the time being?)

Practically speaking, right now, that's a lot of money to me. Considering I'm getting maybe $20,000 in cash that I REALLY REALLY NEED, that would save my other house (the one that's on the market) from foreclosure, keep me alive, give me a cushion to live on while I find a job to support me, and to help me fix things that have to be fixed (preventatives), that $1,100 spells the difference between being OK and being almost OK. Right now, $1,100 is a LOT of money. Like half of the months' expenses until I sell my house and one horse and a bunch of stuff and have lower expenses.

I've been trying to carry two houses on no job, just savings and the freelance that dwindled away while I waited to get the money to pay those expenses while I went back to school. (The money wasn't for the graduate degree, it was for living expenses while studying full time because I'm 45 and want to get out fast, and to pay for the classes I need to take before going to grad school that financial aid will not cover due to the change in rules requiring enrollment in a degree-seeking program blah blah blah. The gist of it was, if you want to take them, you pay for them, then get into grad school and we'll give you a loan for that.)

But after Lots 1 and 3 sell, and I get my split, my bank account will increase dramatically. That $1,100 she's quibbling over will be much less painful for me to hand over to her should I "lose" the argument over who's responsible or just decide to once again defer to them over the issue. I can't do it RIGHT NOW. But I could do it LATER. I was willing to DISCUSS IT later.

Which I tried to explain to her.

She wasn't interested. And because some things are more important to her than family, she opted to destroy everything (and I played my part, I know) over eleven hundred measly dollars, which, once all is said and done and the properties sell for even a low-ball estimate, is the equivalent of...

...slightly more than 0.5 % of what she's getting overall (0.005352798 to be exact).

She did this for eleven hundred dollars. POINT FIVE. Half a percent of her total.

Apparently, my love and family membership is worth less than one-half percent.

Glad to know where I rate.


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