Good changes have nothing to do with the time of year

For the last two months or so, I’ve been pretty consumed by the house we just purchased. I’m still consumed by it, but in a different way.

Creativity, in my case, writing, seems to come from a very particular point. Its raw energy that I can lose connection to if I work to many hours or find myself obsessed with something. When we decided to get this house, I became obsessed with many things.

I updated my knowledge about finances and mortgages. Rental properties became a priority and I had to update and learn several new skills for building projects. On the side, I had to deal with trying to push my unresponsive mother along on getting her house occupied and rented out. That required getting it cleaned out and fixed. That entire thing is an emotional vampire of a drain on me as I fight down futile anger and frustration. I also work and the holiday season is a horrible time to have my job.

It has left me not very creative. I’ve been uninteresting because I have not had complete thoughts. I should write my partial thoughts.

The best part is that I was going to write a book in November but I, instead, had to develop a game plan for the house. I could have worse problems in life but I need to organize myself a bit better. This fall has been a bit of a mess with many productive projects but not all of them productive as I would like them to be.

So changes are that I’ll make sure to put time aside to write more. I’m going to be blogging about the new house. And I will finish my project for Eve and writing about the CSM. The holidays are thankfully past and I have a very clear plan for time management over the next three months.

I hate when new things happen with the new year. It looks so premeditated.

Project braces is live

Yesterday, I started project braces. It is step two. Step one was the consult. I’ve had the spacers put in, x-rays taken, and molds taken.

At first the spacers were not bad. They are rubber bands to make sure that the bands can get on. The first few hours were fine. They were a bit annoying by the evening. This morning, I woke up with sore teeth. I feel like something is wrong with them because not only are they tender but my gums are tender. The spacers feel like a huge wad of food is stuck in four spots. And now the discomfort is causing jaw pain and a headache as it radiates out.

Man, the brackets are going to suck. Chewing is hard because my teeth hurt more and more as the day has gone on. This afternoon wasn’t bad, but I tried to chew a soft pretzel this evening and I wondered if my teeth were falling out.

But! They are still in my head.

On the 29th, I get the top braces on. On the 5th, I get the bottom on. How exciting.

At the end of next month, the husband gets his spreader in. He gets to have his upper jaw spread by slow pressure. I suspect I’ll have to stop whining once that happens.

DIY

I wanted to write a novel in November. I wound up learning a lot about DIY plans for the house we put an offer on. If all goes well, we will be in a new house by spring. I say if all goes well. While it is okay to fall in love with a house you have to keep a step or two back until everything is done and move in day happens.

The house is a Fixer Upper. Not to the extent of the show but it has not been loved in a very long time. It has been maintained but not loved. There is so much of the house that is original and we would be the sixth owners.

I thought the first owners may have done the crazy basement, but now I suspect it was the third owners. They owned it from 97 to 2005 and they put a theater in. The theater seems like something that would be done then. It feels as if the basement was put together in pieces. There are two normal rooms and two weird as hell rooms, and then a sauna.

Anyway, there is a lot of original stuff in the house. In 2005 it got its fourth owners who only had it for a year before foreclosing. In 2006 it got its fifth owners. They are now short selling it as is. A lot of it is just very worn. The laminate floors need to be replaced (I learned that they do have a life span). The entire place is grungy and we stalked the seller to find that they’ve had some civil lawsuits for money owed dating back over the last three years.

There are a lot of builder basics. A lack of upgrades to the kitchen and bathrooms leaves a lot of room for rationalization. That also costs money and I’ve been creating a budget and game plan to approach this house, fix what has to be fixed and do edits before we move in that will be much harder after.

That is what has led me to learning how to pour concrete counter tops and refreshing my knowledge of tiling. I’ve also researched paint like I have never researched paint before. I get to build half walls, extend an island, and have an electric ranged turned into a gas one. That’s just to name a few.

Money and finances

It is a shame that the education system in the United States of America does not prepare its young people for understanding finances. Finances are something that used to be taught at home. Your parents would teach you what to do or pass down something to you to learn to manage. Finances were taught in the home and in general, our culture has interesting reactions to money. Talking about money makes people uncomfortable. Many people just want to ignore money and its complexities.

It is a rather ignorant way for us to face the world and one that I feel is cultivated because we do not teach money as part of mathmatics. Interest rates for example. When the federal government came down on credit card companies during the recession in the early 2000’s part of what they did was to make the money owed clear.

Now, if you look at your credit card receipt you will see a section that shows if you only pay the minimum payment, not only will it take until the sun cools for you to pay off a debt of a few thousand dollars, but you will pay for that money 2-4 times over again or maybe even more. This does not stop people from going into debt but it does give some clarity into what they are stepping into. Not everyone thinks of the future but for some, a simple set of numbers and figures can help them make better decisions or take on debt at need instead of just because debt exists.

I remember when I used to think I could afford a corvette on a waitress salary with some savings. Now, when I can afford a corvette I have no wish for one. It comes from understanding financial responsibility more, as well as tastes changing. I can do a lot of travel for the price of a corvette and that interests me more.

I read financial news and discussion. In this last few months I’ve been a bit more hot and heavy into my finances then normal. I eliminated the last of my credit card debt. I paid off my car. I paid off my school bill. And now we are refinancing this house and looking to buy a second. This place will be converted to a rental property.

Refinancing was to avoid mortgage insurance. It reduced our payment by an enormous amount and now rental rates around here will cover the mortgage and leave enough extra to take care of the HOA fees and the housing costs such as HVAC maintenance.  We have also built up a comfortable equity in the home and if we did have to sell it, it’d be worth our time. However, we want to invest in real estate and plan to keep both properties.

Refinancing means understanding interest rates. It also means understanding how loans work, how credit reports work, and all sorts of fun questions about income calculations. I’ve been grooming my credit report for the last year for this move. By grooming I mean I’ve built up my credit, lowered my credit used, and not cancelled anything.

By not cancelling any credit cards (which I want to do because I have empty cards I used for points or refinancing) I improved the aspect of my credit that discusses credit over time and the positive impacts that gives me. It creeps the score up and the worst thing that can happen is they ask me to close some of the credit lines to close on the house. Once they have already approved it, I’m happy to do so.

As it stands, my closing is in two weeks on this house. We wind up with a better rate and I can close down all of my unused credit cards. I get tired of checking them every week for fraud. I have no desire to use some of them but I’ve kept them open until now.

Cooking Documentation

I need to start documenting what I cook. Well, perhaps not need but I’d very much like to. I don’t make up recipes often but I have a few up my sleeve. Most of my efforts are things that I have already seen. Some I can duplicate and others, not so much.

Yesterday, I made french onion soup chicken. It was a recipe that crossed my feed on Facebook. Facebook is not a place that I enjoy. It is useful for chat and a lot of my coworkers share recipes of Facebook things that they follow. This gives me a bisection of random recipes that I might never find on my own.

Today, however, was one of my most creative moments yet. I mixed a recipe I make all of the time with a recipe I learned to make last year.

In cooking, it is amazing what can be easy and what complex for each cook. Meat in bread is not a dish I ate a child. Yet, I love these savory, portable snacks. I’ve been trying to make them to varying sucess, normally using a frozen pastry.

However, I developed a very tasty pastry from a recipe for pot pie. I wondered if I combined the two, seeing that they had similar cooking temperatures and lengths, how would it go?

The answer:

They came out beautifully. My husband found them to be dry. So I made gravy.

I like it a bit more of a sandwich.

The End of 2017’s Garden

It is the first week of October.

Temperatures have been lovely but it is cooling down. As it cools it becomes to cool for pollination. My cucumbers and tomatoes are still producing and we have carrots as well. Still, the time comes to ponder the end of this years production. It takes a week or two to take all of the plants down.

It is hard to think about while they are so healthy and productive looking.

They are also hanging from the deck nicely.

But it has to be done before it gets to cold and miserable. Sigh. I have no idea where to start.

Braces at 38

No nuts, popcorn… not even hard taco shells? This is going to be a rougher two years then anticipated.

Teeth. Exposed bits of skeleton that we tickle with synthetic fibers and collect when they fall out. Interesting things are teeth, they can make or break a smile. We can suffer our entire lives with confidence issues. Dental health is important but something we neglect due to cost or fear and often both.

My childhood dentist was a kind man. As I hit puberty, and my overbite from years of thumb sucking was still there, my mother took me off to get braces. Braces are very common around the age of 12. I didn’t think much of it. Not really… not even when everything broke down and I was left with half finished orthodontic work that wound up rotting out several of my lower molars. I remember the dentist that looked down at me and told me that I needed $10,000 in work done. This was when I was twenty-one and working full time as a waitress. I didn’t make $10,000 that year and it took me months to save up enough to get the rotting teeth removed to slow down the damage through my mouth.

That was a painful visit. Most of it because they didn’t believe in my nova-cane tolerance. It sent me off of dentists for years until I discovered my current dental office.  My dentist, a sweet woman that passed away last month, pried the brackets from my teeth at no cost and cleaned up the cement. It ended an era of people asking about my brace brackets. I didn’t even know how tired I was of that discussion.

I’d been thinking about implants for years. But they are costly things and I’ve waited and waited. Now, we’re in a place where I can start the journey and the journey to implants starts with braces.

Ah well. There are several things that I will get to correct. My incisors do not meet correctly. There is a small gap there as the remnants of my buckteeth from childhood. Those came from my thumb sucking.

Now I’ve met a very fun orthodontist and find myself excited for braces. I had planned on invisalign. I should have known that it wouldn’t be that easy. Traditional braces it is. Watch my husband get invsalign. He doesn’t even like nuts, popcorn, or hard tacos much less biting into apples. Sigh.

He also doesn’t like the cost. We will see how he feels after visiting. If not, I’ll forge my way alone.

 

Side Jobs

The ebay thing has become a second job. In many ways, a lot of my summer was used up setting things up, taking pictures, getting stock, shipping, and research. Like any project that I throw myself into, huge amounts of time are devoted to learning the basics. Now, three months in, I can back off a bit. Which is nice.

The good news is things are selling. We have stuff to ship nearly every day. The most interesting thing has been the hurricanes. While I am up the east coast and away from them, when Harvey hit Huston everything ground to a stop. I went from about ten orders a day to nothing. Now, as September wanes, sales are starting to pick back up and I am less stressed over the entire thing.

It is one aspect of my personality that is useful, if annoying. When I resurface, I find that I lost time doing other things. At the same time, I learned a new skill that can be put on autopilot in the background.

I’ve been pondering a part time job for a while now. I haven’t wanted one. If I did, I could work overtime. But, I’ve been thinking that I needed to make some more money and use my free time to do so. In many ways, the ebay thing satisfies all of that need.

A Busy Summer

It has been a busy summer. My new dive into Ebay consumes an enormous amount of my free time. I’m now up and running with a large number of listings. This will allow me to reduce my time spent working on my ebay store and listings to once or twice a week instead of every waking moment. I’ve neglected things like the garden. Only as I write this do I sigh and realize that I did not fertilize this weekend. The weather has not helped. The heat and humidity plus constant rains has helped me to let duties outside sift to the side.

Not that the plants are not thriving. The ground cherries have given up for the year. They each produced around six pounds of fruit. The fall lettuce is planted. And the large tomatoes are rolling in at an ungodly rate.

I also sauced the peppers and produced two containers of red pepper sauce. It is not super hot this year per my husband. That does not surprise me. The heavy rains mean sweeter peppers. Hot, dry summers create hotter peppers. 

 

I gave up pruning to make sure I was not killing ladybugs. Don’t let that back row fool you however.

Gravity finally did its thing.

I do love the hanging tomatoes.

After this picture I took the ladder out and plucked all the ones turning. I’m sure more have started and need to be picked. The birds have a field day out there.

We are looking to move next year. I’m not going to go this garden heavy due to that. I may even buy my plants instead of starting seed. We will see. I am going to try to keep it to 3-5 plants. If we move early enough in the year they to can move. If it is later in the year, frankly, I don’t know.

We will be renting out the house so I won’t be in desperate straits to move them out immediately.

The year has gone well. It is such a joy to step outside and go pick the ingredients for dinner or breakfast.

 

Sentamanetality

Being sentimental has dangers. Making poor decisions is one. Hording is another.

As I sell my collectibles and comic books, I find myself occasional sentimental. Most of the time I push it aside. But, I found a comic book yesterday that is very interesting.

This comic book was the last one my father purchased. It was published a month before I was born. I found that out by the simple steps of logging in all of the comic books.

My father’s collection starts when he is around 12 to 13. That coincides with his move from Norfolk VA to Baltimore. From there, he mostly starts with Disney, Gold Key, and Dell comics. They made comic books of popular movies and shows.

It was at that time that I was able to connect something my mother told me. My father was not quite illiterate but he really did not have basic reading skills as a young man. One has to remember that it was the late 1950’s into the 1960s. Civil Rights were peaking and illiteracy was not uncommon for young, black men.

My father also had learning disabilities. They were not properly addressed but back then, they were rarely addressed at all. On top of that, his mother’s solution was to embarrass him in public. This may be where my father developed the fake front that became a true one later in his life. The one where he was always the best, smartest, and most talented no matter who he tromped over.

He was also a gifted mathematician. My brother got that. I unfortunately got a weird, mutated version that gives me an amazing ability to intuitively do math and come to correct conclusions with zero knowledge on how I get there or how it works.  Math and reading are quite different skills and his reading is what suffered.

With these early comic books I can see my father’s reading progress. He starts with movie comic books. There he knows what is said and what the plot is and he is able to teach himself to read and read well. As he becomes 14 or so he starts picking up superhero focused comic books and for the next ten years he collects steadily and heavily.

Once he meets my mother his collecting slows. Once they have my brother it drops to occasional issues. And then there is this last issue purchased the month before I was born.

There are no comics after my birth date. On a humorous note, I questioned if my birth sucked my father’s comic book interest into me. When I was 12 I developed quite the taste for comic books. I eventually fell out of them because they were not enough reading material to satiate me. This was before volume bundles were common.

I suspect that it was a combination of life, job, and time, and access. My father did not like to shop and I don’t think he’d go out searching for comics. The way the books are numbered show patterns that create an image of places he went now and then and grabbed the comics for convenience.

Shortly after I was born my father decided to move from the area and almost split up with my mother. He didn’t like being a family man and was surprised that shedding his wife and children was so complicated. He was in his mid thirties by then. His focus on social appearances may have made him stray from his own self interest when it came to his comic books. In the eighties, men in their thirties were not to buy comics.

I’ll never know the answers. For one, my father is dead these last seven years. For another, even if he was alive, he’d never have told me the truth. He abandoned the truth a long time ago when he learned the power of creative fiction.

All in all I’m left with memories and pieces. So this comic book, this one… I’ll keep.