Recent Happenings

Some general updates from lately.

  • Put my car in the shop on Friday to get some brake work done. I suspected it needed heavy work, and I was right. But unfortunately they have to keep it till Monday to fix it. It will cost me about $1400 for everything, since I’m essentially redoing the entire brake system. I had intended on getting the work done next month anyway with tax returns, but didn’t want to wait that long. Fortunately with an emergency savings it is taken care of no sweat, and the taxes will still be coming in so it all works out.
  • Dad and I had family over last night, from my maternal side. I got to see a relative I haven’t seen in 10 years or more, and his beautiful wife.
  • My knee is feeling loads better. I can walk without pain now, but still with a bit of a limp. Sometimes it gets stiff if I’m sitting too long but I’m being careful with it.
  • We had to replace the boiler at the Grove recently. Cost us a big chunk of money, but fortunately I’ve been working on a $20k fundraiser for the next year so it will replenish that and then some. I look forward to the day when I have no debt but the house and can donate more regularly myself. At least now this one is more efficient and will save us money in the long run.
  • I enjoyed a Table 21 dinner at Volt, home of Top Chef contestant Bryan Voltaggio this past Wednesday as a celebration for my raise. We got 21 tasting courses, which I will write up a detailed blog about hopefully later today.
  • I am working on a list of things I want to accomplish this year, and am looking forward to 2010 being as awesome as the last 4 years have been.
  • The sweetheart has been especially awesome lately. I’m very blessed to have him as a support and encouragement system. He’s constantly giving me perspective and balance.

Making a Bed

Since I’ve been unable to find a bed frame that I like, I’ve decided to commission my uncle to make one for me. My dad said he is a very talented wood-worker so I am glad to be able to provide him with some money for his skill, especially since he’s been laid off.

I’ve been needing a “grown-up” bed since we moved. Prior to this I’ve had day-beds because that’s all that would fit in the old house.

I told my uncle I want pretty much exactly this style in hopefully a queen size (I have to measure my room to make sure it will fit, otherwise I will resort to a double). No finish, all natural light knotty wood, which will be a good contrast to the dark chocolate walls.

Then I have to go mattress shopping, which I’ve never done in my life and have no idea what to expect.

Santa and Holiday Traditions

My friend Kim asks: “Do you remember when you first found out about Santa? What did you feel? What about your traditions?

Oh Lord, I’m not entirely sure I remember when I found out about Santa. I think it was elementary school…and I think it was just other school kids who found out, being mean. I don’t think I let on for a bit after that though, honestly it was embarrassing and disappointing as a kid.

As far as traditions, well they are nothing out of the ordinary. We always get a live tree the weekend before Christmas. We always leave it up till the end of January. We always fill it up with a ridiculous number of ornaments, we put colored lights on and usually gold garland. We always cook a big meal on Christmas day, usually eating around noon. We always open presents at 5am Christmas morning while listening to Christmas Carols. We always wake-up some of our relatives around 7am with a phone call and tell them to get their asses out of bed (okay, this is my dad usually). We always decorate the house with lights, we always decorate the inside with a rather bulky christmas display, including a garden below the tree.

When I was little and all of the family still got along, we always went to the grandparents for Christmas dinner, on both sides of my family. And we always opened gifts again there, on each side of the family. Actually I was pretty lucky as a kid because we opened gifts at home, then my moms mothers, then my dads parents, then my step-dads parents. A lot of gift-exchanging going on there, I don’t know how they did it. Eventually we started drawing names rather than buying all of the kids a gift. It was more economical that way 🙂

Dad always bakes cookies every year as gifts. I’m talking about…….at least a hundred dozen. I hate having all these cookies around, to be honest. But he likes baking, so I deal with it. Not to mention it’s a tradition for him to totally trash the kitchen for 2 or 3 weeks during December for this process, so I usually avoid cooking meals as much as possible so I don’t have to filter through the mess.

A lot of things have changed over the years though. Now that my dad is disabled he can no longer buy gifts, so I always allot like $200 every year for him to use at his leisure. Also 2007 was my first year of starting a “Christmas Fund” so I wasn’t scrambling at the end of the year like usual. I like this tradition too because it takes all of the stress out of the holidays. Also our gifts are a lot more practical in nature now. I still get him some things that aren’t practical, like his corncob pipe last year, or that calendar I made. But in general we try to get things we really need. This year I’m asking for some socks, some dumbbells, and some practical books on canning and such from him. Oh, and for him to buy me a case of oil and change the oil in my car. That’s always a nice gift 🙂

His presents really boil down to only two or three this year. His massive toolbox and a battery storage system with a battery tester in it. Actually I think that is all I got him…though I’d like to at least get him a few more small things.

Thanksgiving Thankfulness

The trend in the blogosphere today is to post a list of things you are thankful for. And boy do I have a lot to be thankful for in 2008.

1. My dad never has to worry about where he’ll end up. Being that my father has no retirement, savings or a silver dollar to his name, I am very grateful for the ability to be able to provide him with the security of a home, and knowing that he will always be taken care of, even if I had to work 3 jobs to do it. I’m just grateful to have the best dad one could ever ask for. One that respects my beliefs, supports my dreams, and puts up with my inanities 🙂

2. Devoted friends and even people who aren’t really close to me, but felt the need to support my father and I in our time of need. All of the people that raised the $7,000 we needed to get our home, some of which I know very well, and others of which I don’t know at all. I’m very grateful for all of you.

3. The house, how can I not be grateful for the house? It’s an awesome home, it came at the perfect time at the perfect price and in a perfect location. To go from living in a condemned home to being homeless to owning our own perfect home, I couldn’t ask for anything more. I’m grateful that I had the strength to pull myself together when all I wanted to do was crack, and all I could do was cry knowing that we were about to be homeless. I am grateful that we were only homeless for two months.

4. I am grateful for my Aunt that let my father and I come into her home to live while we got our bearings together to find our home. The most self-less act you can give, is to offer your life and home to someone else.

5. I’m grateful that the blinds over my eyes regarding finances were pulled off, and I’ve come to realize that all of the clutter and unnecessary crap laying around was just unused money left to rot. I don’t need all of these things, and I don’t need to buy anything new.

6. And I’m grateful for the sweetheart for his constant amazing support, and all of the people I’ve become close with over the last year. You’ve all become a part of me.

7. I am grateful for my job and having the best bosses and co-workers that I could ever hope to have. They’ve supported me and encouraged me, and gave me a chance despite not having a college education. I hope I serve them well in return.

8. I’m grateful for the opportunities and chances I’ve been given over the last 3 years since I started reflecting on my life. I know now that everything that has happened had a purpose, whether not being able to buy a used car, to finally buying my mustang, to not having a penny in savings, to now having a respectable emergency fund and a house. To having a 525 credit score in 2005 to a 690 credit score in 2008. To just knowing that I have the ability to change whatever it is I don’t like about my life, and all the bad things that happen. I look forward to the challenges in 2009 and hope I grow and learn from them just as much as I did in 2008. Afterall, no one else is going to fix them but me.

Random Boring Updates Around the Homefront

Dad’s doctor from his most recent visit to the Wound Care Center said that his leg should be healed completely within 2 months they think. This is good news. They are also pondering doing surgery on his leg again to remove some varicose veins which might relieve some of the pressure and improve the circulation to help prevent some of these ulcers. While I am not opposed to the idea, it always scares me when my dad goes into surgery. It hurts even worse when I see him waking up from anesthesia and he’s weak and disoriented. I think I cried last time.

House is doing well. I’ve got some razor blades so I can start tearing up this carpet in my room today and see what the entire floor looks like. If the whole thing is in decent shape, I’ll put down a natural finish and start moving furniture in my room finally.

The water softener acts up now and again. We’ve never had one of these before so we’re learning about them and how to maintain them.

Today is the first day it’s rained since our settlement. It’s usually a dry season around here in September/October though. I’m just glad to see the rain.

An semi-amusing story… dad was doing laundry and hanging clothes up outside on the clothesline. When they dried and he took them down, he laid the basket on the ground to go do something else before going inside. Our dog decided it was the perfect place to do his business. Dad was pissed. He had to wash them all over again and hang them up to dry. We don’t have a dryer hooked up yet because we need my cousin to come over and move the electrical hook-up downstairs. Right now it’s still in the kitchen. We have clotheslines inside the basement and outside between two trees though, so we’ll be alright without one for a while.

My uncle was supposed to come over to dig the footing for the chimney today, but can’t because of the rain. Thus the house is still cold, but I have an electrical heater for my room upstairs (where there is no heat at all) and it works perfectly. Actually it works too well because it woke me up from a dead sleep from being too hot.

My cousin Steph came over this week and brought over some old videos of my dad and I during Christmas that I need to get copies of. She also brought over a lot of old photographs of family that I have to figure out who they are. I’m working on scanning all of those in, but she wasn’t allowed to leave the videos, so I will have to borrow them again when I can figure out how to copy them. They amuse me because my dad looks like a big grizzly bear with his dark dark hair and full beard. I think I’m like 8 years old or so in them. I have to be 8 years old or younger because my parents are still together in them.