Back on February 4, 2013 I put in an offer on a house. It's a nice place, three bedroom, two bath ranch home with a two car garage and in very nice shape. About the only thing wrong is the kitchen could use redecoration, which really doesn't fall into the category as wrong. Seventies cabinets and yellow linoleum do not for feng shui make. But it has a great basement, and needs absolutely nothing but for me to move in. The owners took my offer and the price is pretty darned affordable. And they took my offer, right away. Only thing is, it's a short sale.

The current owners probably bought the house right at the end of the housing boom. The house has dropped in value about $50K, which is why I can now afford it. But in order for this to work their bank must sign off on the loans. The bank in turn subcontracted this to a firm known as "Short Sale Solutions" to which I have come to consider means "Long Term Delay". Amazing how many businesses put the word solutions in their name these days and it's amazing how many seem to solve nothing.

But that was almost four months ago. I was told the process might take up to six months at the beginning, but I'm getting a bit antsy. They got another appraisal on the home so I know something is happening, but its hard to just wait and wait. Particularly when they might just say no at the end of all this putting me back to square one. So today my agent, my friend Chris and I went out to look at homes again.

Two homes stuck out. One was a bungalow built in 1932. It has beautiful windows with great views, a nice deck, killer front porch yet is in an affordable but beautifully kept neighborhood. There's a lovely Catholic Church across the street, the nearby homes are all interesting, and you literally have to drive around the church to get to my house. The only really strange thing is there's a toilet right below the electric panel. As an electrician, I can fix that. Someone also came in and removed all the copper plumbing and the air conditioner, a sadly common thing for empty homes for these days. But the price is getting to the point where I might be able to buy it for enough to get that all fixed right and stay within budget.

Thing is, that house is in good shape. Someone broke in and stole stuff, but nothing was wrecked. The next house I went to showed the consequences of a terrible anger. This was a modern split-level in a beautifully kept east side neighborhood. The back yard was lovely. But I knew there would be trouble the moment I saw the front porch. Rotted railings, steps sunk off level. Way off level. There was water damage everywhere. A bathroom wall had been ripped out, a sink pulled from its mooring and bent over. The master bath was no better. Someone even stole the electric meter can! And yes, all the plumbing and air conditioning was gone. Some of the wiring too. The kitchen cabinets and counter tops had been deliberately ruined, and all the appliances ripped out. The back patio door had been kicked in and was boarded over.

This wasn't just greed, it was hate. It was the anger of a person who put themselves out for a home during the boom and lost it, and maybe everything once the economy went bust. I don't know whether the bank treated them right or wrong, there are too many stories of corrupt foreclosures to assume the owners had no reason for grievance, but it was clear this once source of pride had become a sore thumb. And in their rage, they wrongly destroyed their beloved home.

Nice real estate in my price range isn't easy to come by. Often you go for something really cramped, or in a bad neighborhood, or you have to look more deeply in the hopes that you can find what you really want. That's taken me into homes that were 30% under so-called 'market value' and still overpriced. It might take $50k to put that house right. I've looked at others whose foundations bent in as if the basement walls were praying. I've been in homes where the basement paneling was all totally rotted out, seen doors that had been kicked in. But this house on a quiet cul-de-sac surrounded by beautiful, loved homes was the saddest.

Yesterday was a good day. My aunt gave me a bunch of plants. I now have an oregano, a blue agave, several succulents, and I'm still waiting for some larger plants that are vacationing at my mother's because I didn't have room for them in my car. My cousin's baby shower was a lot of fun. She looks wonderful, her husband is excited, and I like these new showers where the men are invited to hang out with the women. Brunch was lovely, my mom put together a spinach and asparagus egg bake for the gluten and dairy free people in my family. I got the recipe for her, and most importantly, I stayed away from the treats that were gluten free because I know her kitchen and dishes are in contact with it, and I didn't want to take any chances. I had packed a smoothie for myself which turned out to be a brilliant idea by about three in the afternoon.

The girls were really well behaved, they're quite a bit older than most of my nieces although I have one who is their age. My aunt is moving so she brought up Barbie dolls and clothes from when her daughter was younger, the girls played house and fashion model, the clothes is really dated so we had fun laughing at the styles that used to be popular. My youngest gave her doll a long silvery trench coat, a gold clutch, under her coat she had a shiny fuschia top and a mini ruffled skirt. It was still chilly outside, but I did go out for a bit because the house was stuffy with so many people in it. I had a chance to talk to some of my cousins who are doing interesting things. The cousin with the Barbie dolls was recetly promoted at work. She sells market research, she was telling me about how a client of hers wants information on demographics and the size of the fragrance market in China. In the past she's sold mainly to financial institutions, this is opening her world up, and so far she's enjoying her new position.

Another cousin on mine acted in a short film that was directed by a Mexican man she knew. This summer she's going to accompany him to Israel to help shoot a travel documentary. She won't make a ton of money, but it's great experience, and it sounds like she's going to be doing some directing and filming herself. Her regular job is running a day care, she's had to make arrangements with that, but we told her that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we're excited to see her finished product. Her brother is headed to Europe to bomb around for a while. He goes on trips, does what he can for money, it's interesting, and he's met a lot of cool people, but traveling like that would make me nervous. But he's young, single, and has lower travel standards than I do.

My sister is moving to a new home this weekend. She wanted to get over to the new place to paint before her family moves in, I'm afraid she's going to take on too much, hurt her back, she had to have a bad disc removed several years ago, and she still hasn't finished packing, so I'm not sure why she thinks that painting is a higher priority right now. I have to learn that it's not my place to say things, people in my family have a tendency to hand out unwanted advice which causes resentment and hurt feelings later on. I could go over to her place today, but I said I would come on Monday, and I have to be careful about not over doing things myself. I was really tired after the shower, we were able to get the house reasonably clean, although I still have some laundry left to finish.

My youngest sister gave me a cookbook of 100 Healthy Lunches for kids. In the back it has a page on the wheat and gluten free lunches as well as dairy free options. I was hoping the girls would be more excited about the book, but they don't get into that kind of thing the way that I do. My aunt gave me some seeds as well as mature plants, I have books and magazines from my mother that I have yet to get into, and I'm very giddy about having the type of yard I've always wanted. My aunts all love plants and gardening, in the past I've asked my mom for help, and for whatever reason I've never gotten it from her. She gave my cousin quite a few things yesterday, that hurt my feelings a bit, but then I asked if I could have some plants when I was ready for them, and she said that I could which helped.

Sometimes I worry too much about things that don't really matter. I hate feeling inadequate, or insecure, and even though I'm really happy for my cousins, and realize that their lives aren't perfect either, I'm kind of jealous at the things they're doing that I'm not. I'm impatient, and not thankful for the things that I have. I live in a nice home, my new plants are brightening it up, and not too many of my cousins can cook the way that I do which certainly doesn't diminish any of their own gifts. I felt like the chubby relative that people are obligated to talk to, maybe I wasn't perceived that way, but even if I was, it doesn't really matter. I have some pictures by my desk, they represent vacations I haven't been on, but would like to take. Although I've been to Sanibel Island, I haven't been to the beach there, the picture I have is done in browns and grays, next to it I have a shot of a single pier in Tahiti. The water ranges from a barely blue to an intense deep that meets the horizon. My sister recently went to Ecuador, and I was a bit jealous of that trip as well.

I can't let myself dwell on things like that though. Last night I asked someone for help on a project. Fortunately this person was willing to answer some questions of mine, and that made me feel better as well. I spent more money at the grocery store than I wanted to, but I've already paid June's bills, and I was even able to make two payments to every bill except my credit card. I sent more than half of a payment in on that, and it's still in the distance, but I'm anticipating the day when I send that final payment in, and that burden is gone from my life for good. I've seen my medical bills shrink, one has already disappeared. If my raspberries keep growing, that will save me some money. My husband's aunt has a garden, and so does my neighbor, so I'm going to go and ask if I can help them weed and water in exchange for some produce. My neighbor has cancer, I haven't spoken with her since November when my neighbor across the other street passed away, but the other day I saw her from my driveway, and it was hard to tell at a distance, but I don't think that she's doing very well.

I have a new bike lock. Last summer I did quite a bit of biking, I've been kind of a baby about the weather, but I don't have very good circulation so I'm afraid of being on a bike ride and my hands or feet going numb on me. This is the final week of school. I'm optimistic about the summer. Everything isn't perfect, but I was so happy when the girls cleaned their room, and I'm really hoping that we can work on overall maturity and responsibility. There are still areas of my house that I want to tackle, we seem to accumulate possessions, stick them places, and then are unable to get rid of them easily. By scaling back, we'll be able to appreciate the things that we have instead of them getting lost among a bunch of clutter. I'm getting better at staying out of the stores, making do with what we have, and some of my new friends have shown me that you can do things for very little money if you're creative.

Although I'd like to write more, I have a lot of things on my to do list today. Take care, I hope all is well with you.


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