Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Suspended (temporarily)

When my kids are home from school, everything in my life is suspended.

Working out.
Proper grocery shopping.
All other plans.

I love my family dearly but they are all adults now and I want them to get on with their own lives.

When it is just me and the spouse rattling around in this big ole house, I feel free!  I have a definite sense of freedom and independence.  I no longer worry about my adult children to the extent I used to worry about them.  To do so is counterproductive.  My kids are going to do whatever they want to do, regardless of whether I worry/complain/advise or not.

I have adopted an attitude of, "Let the chips fall where they may." I remember my mother doing the same with me and now I understand why.  A person can drive themselves crazy worrying about people, situations and events beyond control.

This post is my way of saying that I will get my freedoms back just as soon as school is back in LOL  Until then, not much is happening around here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Morning

This past month, it has just been a little crazy around here.

My family on both sides of the Atlantic are driving me nutty.

My sibling keeps calling me to ask me, what are we going to do about mum and dad's hoard?  I have seen the hoard.  I know it's a problem.  A garage stuffed floor to ceiling, back to front with rotten, mildewy furniture and other junk, a barn filled to the rafters with more of same.  My mum never used to hoard when I lived at home, I had no idea what hoarding was.  She kept everything under control and would get rid of unused items.  I have been gone from there for decades now, but things have been done differently in my parents' house over the past 10, 20 years.  They now hold on to everything.

My sibling has no idea just how difficult it will be to get our parents to part with the junk.  My input went thusly: stop stressing about the junk, ask the parents what it is they want to do about the junk, respect their wishes.  Therefore, if the parents want to clean out the garage and barn, they will.  If they don't want to, they won't so move on and find another project, sibling.  My response is not very helpful but ..... I am thousands of miles away and there is nothing I can do about this situation in person.

Stateside, I am beginning to wonder about the spouse's sister's mindset.  Lately, she has become very argumentative which is somewhat unusual.  I mean, she has always gossiped and sniped about people behind their backs but this recent aggression could be indicative of an underlying health issue.  My SIL is 60ish and seems to have undergone a complete character change.  She is now a walking, breathing, talking copy of my dead mother in law.  She is a reincarnation of her mother and it is creepy.  She is wearing the same clothes a 70 year old would wear, she has inflected her speech with the mother's colloquialisms even adopting the same twangy southern accent, and she has this look on her face all the time of bitterness and judgment.  Yep, a carbon copy of my mother in law.  I don't want to be around her anymore and, as I said before, I have pretty much cut her out of my day to day life.  I am done with the D****** family bullshite.

The spouse is fed up with his job and wants out.  He has another year and a half to go and he wonders daily if he has the mental fortitude to do this corporate job for another year and a half.  Constantly, we live with the threat of budget cuts so this problem may very well fix itself, if you know what I mean.  He has just about reached the end of the line and, while he's stressing out and wishing for retirement, I am stressing out and wondering if we are going to be able to work this, financially.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Sister In Law, A Rant

I've been spending what seems like a lot of time putting out family fires just lately.  Some of the fires have been easy to stamp out.  We discuss, we come up with a plan, we move on.  But one fire in particular has been a smoldering hotspot for a long time.  It began years ago when I overheard my new (at the time) sisters in law gossiping about the spouse and I, in our own home, when they were guests staying with us for a few weeks.  Let me tell you, I could not wait to see the back of those two.  They would sit and smoke cigarettes in our living room,  into the wee hours as the spouse and I tried to sleep upstairs, flicking their ashes over our new furniture and leaving a trail of coffee spatters over our carpeting as they wound their way from the kitchen to ...wherever.  Just so rude and careless.  And dirty.  Slobby.

And so I have finally decided that there are certain extended family members that I'm just going to have to cut out of my life.  I can no longer stand the fakeness or the two-faced-ness.  Don't smile to my face and then stab me in the back ... I'm getting too old for that crap.

Case in point: the spouse's sister.  She is the only sister-in-law I have now.  Well, I have another SIL by marriage, to a BIL we hardly ever see anymore.  Does she count?  Anyway, the spouse's sister has developed an alarming physical and personality likeness to his mother.  I will not say anything derogatory towards my MIL because she is dead now .... just to say that she was hardly the most welcoming/stable/normal person to a young girl from a foreign country (me at the time).  The spouse never let on just how dysfunctional his family was, what with their hoarding/alcoholism/in-fighting/relentless teasing, but boy did I ever find out the hard way.  I ended up moving out of the MIL's house very very soon after arrival .... I just could not take any more of it.  Water under the bridge now, I guess.  Or is it?

The spouse's sister blames me for the fact that she never sees or talks to her brother.  There is nothing stopping her OR him for that matter from picking up the phone and pressing a few buttons .... or sending an email..... or skype-ing vis-a-vis .... or gallivanting about on Facebook ..... but still it seems to be my fault that the spouse can't be bothered to contact his own sister.  He just doesn't care enough to, honey!  He knows what you are.  Always has.  You should hear the things he tells me about you as a kid and the way you treated him back then.

Oh yes, there was a time when I used to pressure the spouse into contacting his sister and I would do that by physically pressing the phone into his hand, turning off the TV and telling him to call her.  I used to do that for his mother too.  Please call your mother!  Please call your sister!  Generally, that was the only way to make sure that the spouse stayed in contact with his nutty family.  Over time, I came to realize just what a bunch of dysfunctional assholes his family really is, what with the way they skip over the fact that they have driven other family members away with their teasing, the way they steal from each other, the way they lived in denial over the spouse's mother's chronic hoarding, the way they turned a total blind eye to the father's alcoholism and eventual early death as a result. 

And so, over the past couple of years in particular, I have stopped caring whether the spouse talks to his family or not.  Let it be his decision.

The spouse's sister is extremely passive aggressive.  When she wants to hurt someone, she'll post a shitty picture of that person on Facebook.  When she wants to find out some dirt or gossip on someone else, she'll e-stalk that person online and ask questions/make surreptitious phone calls until she gets the answers she's looking for.  The woman is a closet case of unbridled jealousy and fakeness.

Well, she stupidly made the mistake of calling one of my adult kids to try and find out some dirt on the spouse and I, namely the way we are handling the situation with Cat.  Instead of calling the spouse and asking him directly, this nosy sister (whose own life is far from perfect by the way) thought that she could gossip behind our backs to glean some dirt which she could then sling around by gossiping with other extended family members.  Luckily, the kid in question shut her down.  Shut her ass down.  Sorry, this blog is the only avenue I have to let loose LOL

J, let me tell you something I bet you didn't know.  Your creepy husband leers lasciviously at both of our daughters whenever he gets the chance.  When Cat was 10 years old, she asked me to never leave her alone with him because he (in her words) grabbed her and tickled her, although she felt that he was working on doing more than just tickling.  Our other daughter just knew to stay clear, never trusted or liked him.  At the last family wedding we attended very recently, the spouse became concerned and slightly angry when he realized that your husband was leering at Cat again, and staring hungrily at her from behind his sunglasses.  As soon as the spouse saw it happening, he nudged me and told me quietly just how disconcerted he was at your husband's unabashed display of lust at the sight of the beauty that is Cat.  Your husband could barely contain himself.

Your husband is a pervert!!!  I know you know what he's doing .... but hey, this is your third marriage and you are pushing 60 so I guess you imagine you're stuck with him.  Yet another example of the way you choose to live in denial.  Well, you can stuff it.  Stay away from my family with your poison and your fakeness.  You are not a nice person.  You have a phony streak in you a mile wide and we see right through you.  Live your life, several states away from us, and don't worry if you don't ever hear from us or see us.  I no longer make it my business to shove a phone into the spouse's hand to call you, haven't for a long time, and you're beginning to realize that he never talks to you.

Guess what?  The only reason he talked to you before was because of ME.  Didn't know that, did you?  Keep doing what you're doing and you're going to find out in no uncertain terms the real truth about a LOT of things, including your giant creep of a sexually frustrated husband.  Take care of your own business.  Stay out of ours.

And I am making it a point of no longer dealing with this family crap.  We are supposed to support each other but that has never, ever happened.  I just need you to know: Cross me and you are OUT.  End.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mortgage Update .... And Other Things

I love my mortgage.  I never ever thought I would type those words.  There was a time when my mortgage was never paid on time, always late, always unaffordable.  That is because I didn't think.  Back then, I didn't think about how much money our old mortgages consumed from our family budget.  I never thought about property taxes, or insurance, or interest.  I just wanted whatever house we were going for at any cost and, boy, did we end up paying the price for my pig headed attitude.

As of right now, I am sitting in a genuine asset.  No matter that it's located out in the middle of the Mojave in scorching heat (today was 105), it is an asset.  People are snapping up the houses that come up for sale in this development very quickly and, if they are posted 'For Rent', they aren't signposted for very long.  Also, I have approximately $200,000 worth of equity and NO desire to borrow against it.  My mortgage has also been paid on time for over 5 years.  Forgive me, but I am proud of myself for that because my bad habits with money have long roots that snake back to my childhood, when my parents could never pay a bill on time.  I grew up with debt collection letters and junky cars.  Our houses were always iffy rentals, all of them badly in need of a renovation.  Things have not changed in that regard because my parents are still living in rental houses that fall down around them.

As one can see from the progress bar on the right, we have paid off over $6000 in principal and we are edging ever upwards to the point of having paid off 10% of the loan.  There has never been a time when we have paid off 10% of a mortgage, pitiful as that sounds.  This is a first.  Oh, by the way, we have saved enough money to pay this mortgage off entirely but that is not something that we want to do.  We want to pay this mortgage down while hanging on to the retirement savings that we have managed to accrue over the past few years.  The spouse wants to pay the house off but I don't think it's wise.  I just don't want to be cash poor.  There is also talk of renting this house out while we shove off from the Mojave and go do something else. We would leave it in the care of a property management company for a 10% fee so that all rent, inspections and repairs will be undertaken during the time it is rented. I am just not ready to part with this house yet.

In other news, the spouse is obsessing about the classic car that was bequeathed to him.  Part of him wants to ship the car here to California so that he can work on it and drive it.  Part of him wants to sell it so that he doesn't have to worry about storage or having a mill stone around his neck in the form of a hobby car overhaul.  I have told him that the decision is his to make.  If he wants to bring the car back here and park it in the garage so that he can work on it piecemeal during retirement, that is his choice.  It would be a great car fixed up.  The spouse talked to a cousin who lives in the same town as the deceased and, if the car is to be sold, the spouse will advertise it on eBay, leave it where it is, have the cousin show prospective buyers the car, and give the cousin 10% of proceeds on sale.

Here's a humdinger.  My son told me last night that he and his wife have run up $25,000 in IVF procedures.  Apparently, she has already been through 3 failed cycles and they have 1 more to go before they use up their $25k.  My son is just a young man and the lady he has married is older than him, in her mid 30s.  I am staying out of this situation.  While it is heartbreaking to want a child so badly and not be able to conceive, I just can't afford to contribute thousands of dollars in the hopes of making it happen.  I know that this is why he shared this information with me, so that I would spring into action and try to help.  Yes, that is what I would've done at one time but now, I have to think of the spouse and his retirement.  IVF or retirement?  I cannot do both.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Weight Loss: A Plan

I am sure that I've said it here before but here goes:

I plan to lose 1 pound each and every week.

If I lose more than that, hurrah!!

Today, I weighed in.  I weigh 222.6, down from 232 overall so that's 10 pounds off.  Never to return.

Wednesday of next week, I plan to weigh 221.6 or less.

I figure, if I lose this weight gradually then I will allay my fears of 'sudden' weight loss and the consequences, as I see them, that go along with being slimmer and attracting more attention.

According to the progress bar on the right, I have already entered a 10 pound weight loss some weeks ago ..... but .... I yoyo'd up again to 229 .... so......bear with me.

I think I have my head on straight this time.  I'm ready to commit to a healthier weight and to keep the weight off permanently.  No more yoyo-ing for this gal.

I'm done.

Next weigh in, next Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tuesday Evening Ramblin'

Well, here it is, July 1st.  We have made it through June's summer heat, now we tackle July!  I spent some time out in my front garden this evening, cleaning up leaves from a large messy tree that will be cut down in the autumn.  The leaves have been blowing all across the garden, settling in and around the bottom of my plants which means that the plants have not been getting enough water from the drip system.  So, I spent some time scraping leaves away from the base of those plants that look like they are suffering from heat stroke.

We have not been running our A/C (as usual) and the family members who are home from college are on the verge of mutiny.  I feel like a bit of a cheapskate but the reality is, the air conditioning unit we currently have is a dinosaur.  If we even run it for a few hours at night to cool the house off, the electric bill is $400++.  I'm not paying that.  Last month, my bill was $15 and that's without solar panels.  Not bad for an almost 3000 square foot house.  I leave the windows upstairs open all night and the house is open all downstairs in the evening until I go to bed.  The house is quite cool in the mornings and so we will just have to get on with it.  I already asked a contractor to come over and check out the current unit, plus give me a bid on installing a new one.  Verdict: Our current 15 to 20 year old A/C unit is 50% less efficient than the current models and the cost for new is $8000 roughly........  We will have to get through this summer, just like all the others before it, with no A/C.

A friend is helping me in my attempts to lose weight.  She has already lost 60 pounds herself so she knows the hurdles involved in changing bad habits.  The household ban on chocolate, cookies, baked goods, bread, chips, ice cream, candy and processed food in general continues.  The spouse and I are not terrible eaters ..... we don't have the worst cravings for junk food ..... we just eat too much of the 'good stuff'.  A calorie is a calorie, after all.  I have to approach my food addiction the same way I approached my other addictions: slowly but surely.  Keep chipping away at it.

I need to begin setting monthly goals, particularly when it comes to exercise, calorie counting and weight loss because if I don't lick (pun!) this addiction soon, I just may as well not bother.  Time is not exactly on my side and I ain't no spring chicken.  I am exercising regularly and searching for incentives to keep at it.  Like many people, I really don't enjoy the treadmill.  I am meeting up with 1 family member who shows a keen interest in my weight situation in 2 months' time ..... and I will have a house guest for a couple of weeks in September also.  That leaves me 2 months to make a 'dent' in my flab, as it were.

It is becoming more and more important to me to make the effort to look nice for friends and family.  For so long, they have known me as someone who really dresses down.  I spent years dressed in black ..... a decade.  Gradually, since 2009, I've begun to include navy blues, browns and tans into the wardrobe and now, I am wearing much more color.  Just as I used to.  It's a sad state of affairs when one allows other people to ruin one's life because it was indeed another person's actions that caused me to wear only black for so long.  Well, 2 people actually.  Black is a stylish color for sure but it gets old when every single thing in the wardrobe is BLACK:  shirts, pants, leggings, shoes, coats.

I want to be under 200 pounds.  That would be a huge physical AND psychological milestone to achieve because I have a real fear of losing weight.  My fat is a self imposed prison and a barrier to self improvement.  However, in the past when I have lost weight, I have attracted too much of the wrong sort of attention from the males of the species and that attention is not something I welcome or look for.  Causes too much trouble.  At the same point in time, I can't continue on this road either even though overcoming this barrier that I have towards losing weight is hard work mentally.  But ..... I will press on.

In other news, a certain person who I have mentioned here on this blog as a 'damaged someone' that I used to hang out with, drinking in bars, has been sued.  He has been sued by a coworker for sexual harassment.  More precisely, it is his employer who has been sued but I found mention of it online and there was R's name.  At first I was shocked that he could've been so stupid as to basically ruin his reputation and his years as a trusted employee but, at the same time, I know him and I know the accusations are true.  I haven't bothered to contact R to get the low down because I have no desire to kick that sleeping dog in the ass but I am sure that he is staying close to home and trying to stay under the radar.  According to the news article, R has also been guilty of trying to railroad the coworker and, as a result, the coworker is no longer working.  That sucks. I can just imagine how R twisted the situation around and cost the coworker a livelihood because I know just how big of a fucking scumbag R is.  He is a liar, a cheat who thought nothing of sleeping with strange women he met online and then taking it all back home to the marital bed, and a careless egotist.  If only his wife knew the real story of all the whoring around that was going on when R was in my circle of 'friends'....... if I was her, I would want to know.  It is a wonder to me that R never took home an incurable STD to her .... in fact, it's a miracle.  But ... the spouse says to stay out of it and stay out of it I shall.

I am definitely no angel by the way.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

No Money To Waste

My son and his wife decided (finally) to let everyone know that they are already married.  I don't know how (or really, if) they managed to keep it a secret for so long but ..... the deed is done.  I have a feeling that the wife's family already knew because there has been no real outcry and no drama.  Something tells me that this cat was let out of the bag a long time ago.

Regular readers might have noticed that I stopped talking about The Wedding altogether.  I decided months ago that (a) I was opposed to the deception involved in planning a big wedding which would have involved inviting people from near and (especially) far who had no idea that my son was already married and (b) I was not going to pay one thin dime for a party that really didn't need to happen on the grand scale that was being planned by my son and his wife.  Color me a pooper!

Well, I am guessing that the bills started to add up or the estimates for venue/food/expenses in general were just too large .... either way, my son realized that spending such a large amount of money on a party was wasteful.  Nothing like pushing the responsibility where it belongs!  There is no way the spouse and I can afford a pointless hoo-rahh when my son has already been married for almost 2 years.  No way at all.  And I am glad that things have worked out the way they have for a number of reasons, not least of which being that the wife is finally coming down to earth finance wise when it comes to our finances.

There was a general unspoken vibe that gave me the impression that the wife thought we were going to pay for everything.  I'm not sure where her attitude came from ..... probably from seeing us bail our son out here and there back in the day.  If he needed a car, we bought it.  If he needed money for bills, we provided it.  Whenever he wanted to discuss a big financial expenditure that he couldn't finance himself, we were all helpful ears.  Well, we had to change the way we dealt with ALL of our children and I won't say it hasn't been painful for them.  Not so much for us.

It wasn't a gentle let-down either.  It was sudden and abrupt.

Mom, I need a car.  You had better get a job and get saving for one.
Mom, I need help with bills.  We will front you just this one time but you have to pay us back.
Mom, I want to go to summer school.  Sorry, we don't have $7000 for that this year.
Mom, we want to plan a wedding.  How much is that going to cost YOU?

And so on.  Every time we felt that our kids were acting as if they were entitled to our money, we turned the request around and batted it right back at them.  This is what one has to do when the gravy train stops running.  It was either continue to fund (often wasteful) requests and projects or .... sacrifice the spouse's retirement and it wasn't going to be the spouse anymore.  And especially after we gave our son a large sum of money to ostensibly complete job training .... only to discover that every cent of it had been frittered away on the wife's bullshyte spending.

It's surprising just how easy it gets when the money isn't there to give or to lend.  It becomes very cut and dried.  We have no feelings of guilt, which used to be my big hurdle to get over.  Probably in order to make myself feel better about the things that have happened in the past, I readily jumped to the financial rescue time and time again.  Now, I am blatantly honest with my kids about what they can reasonably expect from us in terms of money lending: not much.  And I think we are all the better for it.  My kids are all having to become much more resourceful and, for two of them in particular, it has been a boon.  They have shown themselves to be very resourceful indeed.

Yes, we are still funding college.  We have told the college attending kids that regardless of whether or not they graduate next year, we are funding just the 2014/15 school year only.  That means one more year of a free ride.  If they work hard, they can all be graduated next June.  If they flunk classes, get lazy, lollygag ..... it's on them.  They can graduate next year if they want to.  So, we are pushing the responsibility where it belongs.