snoopy dance

I fought the Bank and . . .

I think I won.

Bank of Hell sent me a letter this week, letting me know that I qualify for the government-assisted mortgage-payment reduction plan.  Which means, in ten words or less, I get to keep the house.  I do not know yet what my actual supposed house-payment is going to be, but it will be less than the one we signed on for back when we had a combined income of 100,000 a year.  This is a good thing.  I am supposed to get another letter, actually probably a giant stack of forms with a long legalese statement on the top of it, this coming week.  Then I find out what all this will really cost me.

But I get to keep the house.

Also in the happy-news front, I have successfully survived my first week in the new department at work.  My coworkers are all really enthusiastic about mentoring the new people, so even when I don't know what I'm doing I know that help is a text message away. 

And, third bit of happy news, we're getting another housemate!  At least, we hope so.   An SCA friend has said that he will move in towards the end of the month.  He plans to come by the weekend of the 16th and start painting his bedroom (someone who pays rent and takes on home improvement projects -- why yes, he can live here!).  I've known this guy for a while and he's always been trustworthy, so I am pretty sure he really will move in.  It just seems to good to be true.  Getting to keep the house *and* have someone hand me half of the money to do it?  Too easy!  But assuming I am not hallucinating and he really does show up on the 16th with cans of paint . . . .  I have a new housemate!  Yay!  I have to come up with a blog-identity for him. . . .

The only cloud in my silver lining is my now schizophrenic dryer.  Some days it dries, some days it doesn't.  At first I thought ambient humidity was affecting the dryer's performance, but now I think it's the phase of the moon.  Probably there's some sort of heating coil somewhere that is becoming senile and preparing to die.  It's working this week, tho, so I'll wait until all the furniture-moving is over before I call Snorty Stompy and beg for help. But just to warn you, SS, I'll probably be calling you in May!
My Feet

Cookies, Tears, and Phantom

A Queen of Ansteorra posted in her Facebook that she just saw Phantom of the Opera, live.  Naturally, that reminds me of my own experiences with Phantom, so I have to tell you my Phantom of the Opera Story.

I was thirteen years old, and CDs were a new thing.  My Mom got a CD player for herself and the first CD she bought was Phantom (masters degree in music, don'cha know!).  That evening, my best friend Stephanie came over for a sleepover.  We decided to make chocolate chip cookies.  So there we are, in the kitchen, when my mom starts to play her new Phantom CD in the livingroom.  We go ask her what's that all about.  She starts pausing between songs to narrate the story . . . and before the intermission starts there we are, me and Stephanie, in our aprons with the oven mitts still on our hands, sitting on the couch holding the liner notes and literally leaning forward towards the CD player like it's a movie screen.  By the end, all three of us - me, Stephanie, and my mother, were huddled together on the couch, hugging our plates of cookies and sobbing our eyes out.  Later, Stephanie would tell me, "That was the best slumber party ever."

Sometimes I loved my mom.
My Feet

How did that happen?

Booting up my computer at work this morning and I looked up to find the department Trainer standing nearby.  "Congratulations!" he said.  "For what?"  I queried.  "They didn't tell you yet?  You're being moved up to [department that offers a higher rate of pay].  Your training class starts March fifteenth. See you in class!"

Oh, okay.

So, I just moved up to my current department on January 18 and less than two months later I'll be leaving for another department.  Not that I'm upset, mind you, but my brain is still trying to get a handle on this particular skillset . . . .

It makes me wonder, what is Senior Management looking for?  Apparently, people who come in on time, do their jobs quietly, and then go home without any drama or schmoozing.  Because that's what I do, and I've moved up two levels since I started there in June.  Odd.

The Great Molasses Incident

So a few days ago we walked in the front door after work and my first thought was, "Why does the house smell like Molasses?"

Oh.  That's why.

Apparently, sometime in the past two or three years I must have bought a quart of liquid horticultural molasses, and then stashed the bottle somewhere downstairs and promptly forgot about it.  I don't really remember when I bought it but it is the kind of thing I use in the garden so it makes sense that I'd have a a bottle somewhere -- like the garden shed or garage.   But it must have been stored somewhere in the house because I found the remains in a dark corner of the livingroom, the entire top of the plastic bottle chewed away and the former contents spread all over the downstairs floors.

I want you to pause here and contemplate a Quart of Molasses.  Imagine how much molasses that is.  Imagine it in four large puddles.  Imagine needing to clean that up . . .

First, no one in the world owns enough paper towels for that mess.

Next, stained concrete is the best flooring in the universe.

After we cleaned up the main puddles (relying on old newspapers when we ran out of paper towels). I moved into the kitchen. 

Guess what happens when two sugar-crazed Pyr-mixes go wild in the kitchen!  There were molasses paw prints all over the counters.  The cookie jar was open, and empty.  The trash can was on its side and there were pieces of egg-shell all over the floor.  Plastic baggies were torn to shreds and scattered everywhere.  Fortunately I've been on a quest for the past few months to dog-proof the kitchen as much as possible, or there would have been flour and cornmeal all over the floor, too. 

Interestingly enough, the powdered non-dairy coffee creamer was undisturbed.  Dog 2.1 will eat a plastic bag that once rubbed up against a piece of bread, he will chew up a bottle of motor oil, he will drink herbal mosquito repelant but he will not touch powdered non-dairy coffee creamer.  Let this be a lesson to you all.
noo nah noo nah noo . . .

When last we left our heroine, she was separated from her husband and starting a new career path

Snorty Stompy has taken me to task for never updating my blog. It's true that I have let blogging fall by the wayside while I was busy restructuring my life.

It used to be my habit to spend half an hour every morning letting my eyes and brain come into focus in front of a computer screen. I used this time to read my friends' blogs, answer a few emails, and discover which pollen was going to try to kill me that day.  I used to grab breakfast from the drive thru on my way to work.  These days, I cook my own breakfast to save money and also pack my lunches, but there goes my half-hour of time.

Used to, my husband and I went out to dinner every night.  Yes, really.  And yes, it was expensive.*  We would eat out, then come home and go to our separate computers.  I would watch TV, work on my handsewing projects, and surf the internet at the same time for a hour or two or three every evening.  It was my routine, and it let me update my blog, stay current with my friends, even the ones three states away, and read about whichever random subject tickled my fancy.  And I never had to take time to wash the dishes . . .

Nowadays, I commute about a half-hour to and from work, so when I get home I have not-that-much-time left over.  I cook dinner, eat dinner, maybe spend half an hour on household chores, and when all that is done I may have thirty minutes of "free time" left over before I get too sleepy to stand up.  Lately, I've been spending some of this free-time playing WoW. 

I used to spend my weekends doing goof-off things.  Now, I work half the day Saturday at my landscaping job, relax for the other half of Saturday, then devote most of Sunday to the procurement and preparation of food.  Every week I cook a huge vat of soup, several hamburger patties, and a batch of oatmeal-craisin-pecan cookies.  All of this is take-it-to work food for the week. 

All of this to say that, if I manage my time wisely I can spend ten minutes a day online.  It's just about enough to handle email and facebook and that's it.

But apparently my friends miss hearing from me, and since I obviously don't have as much time as I used to have for social visits, blogging and facebook may be the only contact my friends and I have with each other for weeks at a time.  So it's important and I need to take time to blog.  I will try to post short blog posts every now and then, but don't expect well-thought out essays.

* If we'd kept that money in a savings account instead of eating out all the time, we'd have had two years of living-expenses in the bank when he was fired from his job.  I know that, I knew that then, and I had that argument with him about once a month.  But restaurant dining was to him what hot baths and a good book are to me, and it was an argument I knew I could never win.

Not Dead, Just Very Sleepy . . .

No, I am not dead.  I know I haven't updated my blog. Or gone to very many parties or social events.  But I am actually still alive.

Work is still sucking a lot of energy out of me and I am starting to think that I need to switch from the 7 - 4 shift to the 10 - 7 shift.  I have more energy during those times and it would bump my bedtime down to a "rest of civilization" time and allow me to socialize a little more.  I not asking for a party every night - all I want is enough energy in the evening to ask a friend or two over for dinner.

Sometimes I feel like I got stuck in my grandmother's nursing home -- dinner at 4 and bed by 7. 

Anyway . . . .  the bank is sort of working with me on the house thing.  My bank is one of the ones you read about in those news articles detailing how homeowners-in-need are not getting the help they need.  They are, in fact, one of the worst offenders.  I suspect that they are filing just enough paperwork to keep their government-funded program alive and pay their own salaries without actually giving any money to anyone else.  But, I still live here and they have been cashing the checks . . .

So on the assumption that I still own the house, the Snuffleupadon and I have been doing as much yard-work as we can squeeze into our schedules and budgets.  I am relocating the vegetable garden from it's former place in the Serengeti to a new place that gets dappled shade all day.  Snuffy has appropriated the former veggie garden for a rose garden and after two hours of vigorous discussion (with visual aides) we have agreed on the design.  Meanwhile, the ongoing front-walk improvement project continues.  People can now get to the front door without having any Indiana Jones flashbacks.  Fondly do I remember the adventures we used to have trying to cross from the driveway to the front porch . . ..

Oh, if only one of my friends who owns a truck would loan it to me for a weekend.  I could finish the front-walk project in one go, instead of pounding it out over six more weekends.  sigh.  (hint hint)

Also in the News . . . Dog 2.1 has officially become Alpha Dog. Dog 1 decline our request for an interview, instead issuing a statement, "I am ten years old, and it's time to retire as Alpha of the Pack.  I'm sure Dog 2.1 can handle it." 

There are people in North Carolina whose entire street address is something like "One Mile Past The Old Bridge, Townname, NC"  Seriously.  No numbers or anything.  I am *SO* buying some acreage and putting in a road and building a house and isisting that all of my mail be delivered to "Just Past The Chinese Restaurant That Used To Be A Taco Bell."

We cut of the TV viewing portion of our cable, to save money, and kept just the internet and phone part.  It cut our bill in half.  And this was all well and good during the summer but now, well . . . .  Snuffleupadon is jonesing for some football.  If some of his friends wanted to make him happy all they'd have to do is invite him over on football night.  Whichever night that is.

We still haven't had any rain to speak of, so why is Mold Season so bad?  I don't get it. 
Captain Hammer = bully

In Which Our Heroine is Busy and Tired.

The new job is tough.  Not that the job itself if hard, once I caught up to the learning curve it got to the point where I can do 90% of it in my sleep and the other 10% is an interesting puzzle to be solved.  What is really hard, tho, is the schedule.  I work from 7-4, which allows me to drive to and from work without hitting bad traffic.  On the other hand, it's freaking 7 a.m. when I get to work!!  EWWWWW!!  The job is 17 miles from the house, so if I want to get there on time and have a good breakfast beforehand, I basically have to be out of bed by 5.  FIVE.  A. M. 

So, yeah, I'm tired, like, all the time now.  When I get home from work, and make dinner, and eat dinner, I have basically one or two hours of whatever-time before I start to get really really sleeeeepy.  Usually, the Sleeeeepy hits me around 8.  Which sucks because everything interesting I might want to do begins at 7 or 7:30. 

What time does fighter practice start?  7:30. 
What time do we gather at Thugette's for Sewing Night?  7:30. 
What time do movies, dance classes, and concerts start?  ahem.

And therefore, if you have missed seeing me at various social gathering over the past month, it was because I was asleep.

Last week at work I officially finished the classroom portion of the training.  All of next week I will be taking phone calls with a lot of supervision.  The week after that, I will officially be a customer service rep, spending 8 hours a day taking wall-to-wall phone calls.  Yay. 

My hope, tho, is that the actual work will be a little easier than the training.  I mean, it's fun to get paid to learn stuff, but I find it taxing to have to Pay Attention to something for eight hours straight.  It's much more invigorating to interact with people and do the work.  Plus, there's that whole thing where the teacher always had to teach the material three times . ..  I hate that.  First, he taught the subject for five minutes. I and half the class learned it.  Then, the other half of the class said, "What?  I don't get it . . . " So he taught it again.  Then, one or two stragglers said, "What page are we on?"  and the teacher taught it Again.  By that time I was either reading a novel or dozing off.  There were a few times where I missed a whole half hour of the class because I'd forgotten to tune back in for the next new lesson.  At the end of the day, the effort to stay awake and alert had worn me down.

I hope that the week after next I will have some energy in the evenings and can begin showing my face outside the house again.


The bank has decided to let me be a part of a Gov't program for poor people wherein I can continue to pay a mortgage and live in a house. 

The weird thing is that they've sent me two "information packets" over the past two weeks.  The first packet lists my future mortgage payment as $300 less than the previous mortgage payment.  This is good since I am currently earning about $3500 less than S used to earn, back in the day.  It's not an ideal mortgage payment, but it's better than the original amount.  HOWEVER, a week and a half after I go the first packet, I got a second packet that was identical to the first one except the dollar amount had changed . . . to the original payment.  The payment we made back when I was married to a highly paid computer programmer.

For those of you following along at home, my entire monthly salary is equal to the mortgage payment plus electric bill.  There is no money left over for the gas bill, the car insurance, the groceries, the phone bill, clothes, medicine, or dog food.  None.  Oh, and there's a second mortgage, too.  And a credit card bill from those days when I was trying to support a depressed, unemployed, and  suicidal spouse who was used to living on a high income and just couldn't face the reality of not eating in restaurants every single night without wanting to die.

So you see, that first information packet quoted a price that I like a lot better. I'd like it even better if it had been, say, $600 less.  As for that second packet of information . . . I'm thinking about setting fire to it and pretending it never got here.  I was so much less stressed out when I got the first packet and and then all that stress came right back when I got the second one.  I don't know which one is the correct amount, and I'm actually afraid to call the bank and ask.  And I'm really tired of being that stressed out.   It's starting to wear a little . . .

And that's the news.

Cadet Marie

Post-Event Report: Queen's Champion Tournament for Elisabetta I

Last weekend I went to Queen's and had a great time.  Elisabetta looks gorgeous (I'm sure there are millions of pictures online somewhere), and was very inspiring to us all.  We have an awesome Queen!

Now, on to the events of the day:Collapse )
So it was a good day.  I was dreading it all the night before -- there'd been so much stress in my life and I had missed so many practices that I was sure I would have a terrible tournament and be worn out and have to go home early.  But it all turned out nicely.  I am stronger than I think, sometimes.
My Feet

There's been a little upheaval in my world . . . .

To start with (those of you who are able to read my friends-locked posts will already know this), I am separated from my husband and saving up my dollars to fund our divorce.  It's been a little stressful, and tense and awkward, dealing with the end of a relationship.  Not to mention having to tell so many people what has happened.  Everyday I run into a friend or acquaintance who doesn't know, and I have to steel myself to recite the story all over again.  Then there's the logistics of it all.  I've spent the past month sorting through all the stuff we owned together, and even after we thought it was all done I kept finding little things he'd forgotten to take away . . . and I'd have to call him and arrange to meet his and them stand there and make a little small talk while I hand over the item . . .

Then there was the whole 'remembering how to live as a single woman' thing.  I was a little panicked at first.  I don't know how to maintain the reverse osmosis filter.  I can't solve wireless networking problems and my home computer runs on wireless.  Panic!  But of course, these issues are few and far between and all in all it's So Much Easier to not be living with him anymore that I am a little embarrassed.  I mean, shouldn't I be all . . . sad and stuff?  I am sad, really I am, but I'm more relieved than sad.

Next, there has been some car trouble, which was resolved fairly easily but expensively. 

Also, I am starting a new job soon (Tuesday, in fact).  This is tough.  There's the excitement of it all (at last, a way to pay my bills! Hooray!).  But mostly there's nervousness.  Big nervousness: I used to have a job very similar to this job and I only liked it for the first year; after that I hated it and couldn't wait to quit.  What if that happens again, and faster this time around?  Little nervousness:  What am I going to wear?  What am I going to pack for lunch?  Can I tolerate dressy shoes all day long? 

New job means scaling back the self-employed business.  My landscaping clients are fewer than they used to be (hooray for the economy), but the ones I still work for are nice people, and loyal to me.  I don't want to leave them in the lurch and, let's be honest, I would wither up and die if I couldn't play in gardens every week.  So I have to find a way to do both my day job and keep my business running.  Fortunately, I have the summer to figure things out, as the weather here is inhospitable to people and plants all summer long, so at best I will have six client appointments over two weeks.  Evenings and weekends I guess . . .

Then there's the foreclosure thing.  It's in limbo.  We're at a stage where the bank is trying to decide if I qualify for a governmental program that would allow me to make lower monthly payments and keep the house, etc.  Meanwhile, I'm not allowed to make any payments at all, which means my debt to them keeps growing and growing (we're up to 6 months going on 7 now).  They could decide at any time to reject my application, but they can string me along for another two months if they want.  They continue to schedule dates for auction in the midst of these two months, but tell me that it's only a formality and they will, about two days before each potential auction, probably cancel it because they can't actually sell the house while my paperwork is in limbo land.  Probably.  Call back next week to be sure . . .

If the bank rejects this application, I may have to file bankruptcy to save the house.  And, bankruptcy would interrupt my divorce proceedings.  So I have to figure out how to time all this, because I do actually need to be divorced as soon as possible.  S. has been making suicide threats and I don't know how much longer he will stick around.  As he has no Will, his death would send the house into probate, and that would further complicate the whole mortgage-bank-house thing.  So I need to be divorced real soon now.

In the midst of all this, I got a cold.  Followed by a sinus infection.  Usually I try to let my body fight these things, but I decided not to take any risks with my ability to earn an income and I begged my Dad for some blackmarket antibiotics.  He came through for me and I feel much better now. 

So that's how my past month or so has been.  Just thought I'd bring you all up to date.
noo nah noo nah noo . . .

(no subject)

I can't sleep when I'm hungry.  I've just always been like that.  No matter how tired I am, even if I have taken a sleeping pill . . . if I'm the slightest bit hungry -- no sleep.

So, today, I have a little stomach virus.  Sweetienookums had it first, and only felt bad for a day.  Therefore, I have high hopes that tomorrow I will be back to my normal Foodie self.  But today, I barely ate anything at all.  I had two bites of breakfast before I realized that I hate food and never want to see it again.  Then, during the day, I managed half a column of saltines.  Not because I wanted them but because I kept thinking, "maybe I'd like to eat something . . . . . nope."

And tonight, my stomach is growling at me, which I suppose means that I am hungry.  Anyway, it's keeping me awake.  Not much I can do about it though.  Normally I would go get something to eat but . . . Ewwww!