Showing posts with label Woes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Woes. Show all posts

01 July 2014

Life’s Little Annoyances

The planet Mercury is in retrograde. Well, was. Depending on who you talk to, it will move forward again starting either today or tomorrow at 7:49 PM CST. I am not taking any chances so I will keep my head down until tomorrow evening. To be totally honest, I do not put much stock into things like this but it’s nice to have something to blame for all the bad luck that has recently come our way.

While Mercury was traveling backwards through the skies, we dealt with a flooded basement on a daily basis, a leaky roof, and a car that keeps telling us it wants its brakes fixed even though we just paid $160 to establish the only thing broken is the messaging system itself. There are documents that have mysteriously disappeared, I got a parking ticket even though I have a permit, and I just spilled coffee all over myself.

However, as someone pointed out to me earlier, what about the people who are having good luck? The Dutch team comes to mind, with their win over Mexico. A very valid point. One that I don't have an answer for because there is no answer. Well, maybe that Ryan and I took one, or several, for the team?

Whatever the reason, the basement is fixed, the roof will be, the car is not broken, and my parking ticket has been voided. With the exception of the coffee stains, all is well again. Onward and upward we go, Mercury included. And hopefully Team Netherlands as well. Hup Holland, hup!

11 January 2013

Sick Bay

My baby is sick. My poor little girl is running a fever, throwing up, and starting to develop a nasty cough. She was up quite a bit last night, and has slept for most of the day today. To add to her misery, being sick today means she is missing the root beer float party at school. I promised to make her a root beer float at home but that only partially made up for things.

I feel for Lola, really I do. Of course I do, I am her mother. But the thing is, I am supposed to be the patient today. Yesterday I had oral surgery. There is an infection raging in my jawbone and it's threatening my teeth. Due to the loss of bone, they are at risk of falling out. To end the infection, the bone was scraped clean and bone grafting material was inserted. My gums were then sewn back together and some kind of dressing was applied.

My head now hurts very much as you can imagine. The painkillers I was prescribed aren't up to the job. And though it's not the most pain I have ever felt, it is in my head and that seems to make matters worse. To add insult to injury, I am starting to look like a chipmunk on the left side of my face. But instead of nursing my aching head, I was up half the night nursing Lola and cleaning up vomit.

Sigh. Life is not fair.

23 July 2012

Things I Learned Today

:: Every time I think I am making progress, I find another obstacle on my path. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning. I succeed in making it to the surface and am briefly able to breathe, only to be pulled back down moments later. I want this to change. Now.

:: Lemon Verbena is not a hardy plant, at least not in this part of the country. (I have quite a few in the backyard, and they are not in pots.)

:: A furnace filter needs to be replaced every thirty to ninety days, depending on the filter and whether or not you have a cat.

:: I don't hate ironing anymore.

:: There is no such thing as 'wrinkle free' cotton.

19 October 2011

Adventures Of A Housewife

You may have noticed it's been a little quiet around here lately. I know. It really bothers me, in fact. It's not that I have nothing to share, there is more than enough. There is a plethora of pictures to publish: the local fall festival, the pumpkin patch, Lola's field trip to the apple orchard. Ryan I have been to beautiful Bayfield to celebrate our fifth anniversary. We have visited family down South. We have all been sick over the past three weeks. And then there's the kitchen update. I am sure you would like to see what those lovely pee stained doors look like and if they've grown on me. Why yes, they have.

So why the silence? Because there is something I have to write about first, something I have been struggling with. I am looking for a new job. Why? Because I lost the one I had. About a month ago I was told my position had been eliminated, effective immediately. In fact, an entire layer of management would be cut out, I was told. Seeing that the casino is a bit top heavy in that respect, it makes perfect sense to me from a business perspective. From a personal standpoint, not so much. Enough said.

Dancing around that subject has caused me to clam up, save that one extremely frustrating kitchen cabinet door incident. I have started several posts, but haven't been able to finish a single one. Now that my secret is out, it should get better. So brace yourselves for lots of fall pictures. In between the job applications and painting projects, there is plenty of time to update you on the adventures of a housewife.

29 July 2011

The Hardest Goodbye

My cousin M. has been on my mind a lot this week. It is his dad, and my uncle, who is dying of pancreatic cancer. My cousin and his family live in Switzerland and have been visiting for the month of July. I saw them earlier this week when Lola and I traveled south for a few days. When M. and I said goodbye, he told me the next time we would see each other the occasion would probably not be a happy one.

M. and his family are leaving today. He has to tell his father goodbye and chances are, he will never see him again. I cannot begin to imagine his sadness. Just thinking about it breaks my heart. Not being there when you want to most is without a doubt one of the hardest things about living thousands of miles away from your family.

It is in my future too.

24 May 2011

Life And Death

"Mama, do you remember opa J.?" Lola asked me softly last night when we were snuggling before bedtime. "Yes I do," I answered her. "He’s sick," she told me, "and he is never ever going to get better. I really miss him."

She was talking about my uncle, my dad’s younger brother who lives in south east Wisconsin. When he retired, he and my aunt bought a catamaran in the Caribbean where they spend their winters sailing from island to island. Last March, while visiting a street festival in the lovely Santa Lucia, J. ate a fishy looking fish and promptly got sick. Food poisoning was everyone’s first thought. Except the vomiting and diarrhea wouldn’t stop.

After dropping forty five pounds, several visits to local ER’s, and an overnight hospital stay, they decided to fly back a little early and see a doctor here. The doctor suggested a cat-scan to look for a possible obstruction in J.’s colon, something they did indeed find. They also found something else; advanced pancreatic cancer. There is no cure for that. And just like that, everything changed.

I took a few days off last week and drove south for a visit. My aunt, uncle, and my cousins have been my second family since I was seventeen. It was a good visit. It was a little shocking to see J. minus forty five pounds. The 4,000 calorie diet he is currently on hasn’t done him much good yet. (It worked great for us though, especially the rhubarb crumble pie and the blueberry cheesecake.) And aside from the fact that we talked a lot about cancer and death, it was very much like old times.

J. started chemotherapy last Wednesday. When I called on Friday to see how he was holding up, I was told things were going okay for the most part. But Ryan spoke to my cousin last night and found out J. had spent the weekend in the hospital, very sick from the chemo. For the next eight days, he can recover, then he goes back for round two. Every other week a round of chemo, for the next eight weeks.

I don’t know why Lola thought of J. all of a sudden. The conversation from last night was a carbon copy of the conversation she and I had a few weeks ago, when J. was first diagnosed and she wanted to know why I was crying. She has been talking a lot about death lately, brought on by a dead deer she saw alongside the road. There is a lot going on in that little blond head of hers. And it won’t be very long that I will no longer have all the answers.

12 April 2011


We're back in Crandon. Again. Living with my in-laws. Again. This time it was not the lack of employment opportunities that chased us away. No, we have left our house in Rhinelander because of mold. Dangerous levels of mold.

A couple of months ago, our basement flooded as the result of a burst pipe. Our landlady V. has not exactly been on top of fixing things, to put it mildly. The waterpark was handled quickly enough, but restoring things to the way they were has taken almost two months. We would call her every now and again, to let her know the carpet was still a mess, the base boards were still missing, and mold was starting to form.

Then the family room started to stink. To the point where you would hold your breath when you walked through it. We decided to do a little mold test. And sure enough, we hit a jackpot. When we informed our landlady, she told Ryan she was sending over some friends to assess the situation. As it turned out, her friend was a former health inspector and as soon as he walked in the door, he cried out: "This place reeks of mold! You have to leave, this is dangerous."

And so we did. Well, I didn't do anything, I was living it up in Phoenix while all this went down. Ryan's parents kindly instructed their plumber to de-winterize their house and offered it to us. Ryan packed up Lola, Sandman, and a few other necessities and off to Crandon they went. In the meantime landlady V. called her contractor again and requested he finally finish up. When we returned to the house on Saturday, the guest room carpet had been cleaned and the family room smelled nice again. The base boards are still missing.

Now it could be just me, but fighting mold with a steam cleaner does not make a lot of sense to me. Moisture and warmth? Ideal growing conditions for mold. And that nice smell? Emptying a bottle of Fabreze could have accomplished that. We ran another mold test, in the family room this time, to be sure things had been handled properly. And until we were certain it was safe to live there again, we were staying put in Crandon.

When I spoke to V. to let her know of our plans she told me her friend felt he had exaggerated the smell. It wasn't really mold, it was probably just the dirty carpet in the guest room. Really? At that moment she lost all credibility with me. And when our little test kit started showing signs of life, we decided to move.

Where to? We don't know yet. What I do know is that I am really tired of moving. Really tired. I have far too much crap to be a proper nomad.

10 March 2011

Snow Casualty II

We met another neighbor yesterday, the one that lives on the corner of the street. Like us, he owns a Chevrolet, albeit a much bigger one. It was snowing and very slippery when we met. Just as he turned up the street, we came driving down. We did our best to avoid each other but our cars did not oblige. Ryan and I came to a full stop on the stop sign.

No humans were hurt, only cars. And of course the stop sign/street sign. The big Chevy barely has a scratch on it. The smaller one, Big Blue, was taken by car ambulance to the nearest collision center. Our little Aveo was no match for the other car. She is scratched along the entire driver's side, the steering wheel no longer works, and her front tires are both facing inwards.

Poor Big Blue. And poor us. I am officially done with winter weather!

22 February 2011

The Sound Of Silence

When I was growing up, I always listened to music. I woke up to it, I fell asleep to it, I made my homework to it, you name it. I did not like the sound of silence at all. I always needed something going on in the background to help me concentrate. Those days are over. Now I can really appreciate complete stillness around me from time to time.

Unfortunately it is hardly ever quiet at my house. Even when I am home by myself, there is still so much noise. When the fireplace is burning, a fan starts up after a few minutes to distribute the heat. Since we have fourteen feet high ceilings and no ceiling fan, we use a regular fan to move the warm air around and heat up the room a little faster. Our projector TV has a built in fan and the computer has one too. All those fans drive me nuts sometimes.

However, the noisy fans are nothing compared to what we came home to last Sunday after spending the weekend with friends in Oshkosh. While we were gone the insurance company sent over a guy to deal with the flooded basement. He ripped up the carpet, took off the base boards, drilled holes in the walls to pump hot air into, and installed seven industrial fans and dehumidifiers. And they are LOUD, I tell you.

He is coming back tomorrow to restore everything back to normal. I cannot wait. Oh, to listen to the sound of silence once again.

17 February 2011

Indoor Waterpark

It’s been in the high forties and low fifties here lately. The snow is starting to melt away, meaning things are getting messy. The once white snow along the side of the road is now an ugly grayish brown. The spots of grass that are popping up look a little worse for wear. The creatures are coming out of the woods. Twice this week I have had to hit the breaks for suicidal squirrels. The thaw won’t last long. The forecast for the weekend shows dropping temperatures and more snow to cover up all that mud and chase us back inside.

In the meantime, the thaw is an awesome way to find out if your plumbing suffered any damage from the deep freeze of the last few months. Not the main waterline, we would have known that a long time ago. I am talking about the little pipe that connects to the outside faucet. When I turned off the lights in the living room last night, I heard a strange noise coming from the entryway. I followed the noise to the back of the coat closet to find large quantities of water spewing from the wall.

After running back to the living room to grab a flash light and my husband, we discovered the water was not actually coming out of the wall, but from a burst pipe hidden by two Styrofoam boards. We turned off the valve and took in the damage. Not too bad at first sight. Our coats were hanging high and dry and most of the other stuff in the closet was packed in plastic bins. The only object at risk was the vacuum cleaner.

The coat closet connects to the guest room closet and it was easier to grab the vacuum cleaner from that side. I walked around to the guest room and stepped right into a pool of icy cold water, over an inch high. It took my breath away, so cold. There was hardly any water in the closet because it had all flowed into the guest room. As I walked on the carpet, it waved due to the water underneath it. The room had turned into a giant waterbed. Just what you need when you're getting ready to turn in.

Sometimes it’s very convenient not to have furniture to fill up every room in the house. The air mattress we offer our guests floats and the Goodwill finds stored in the guest room are awaiting restoration anyway. The plumber has deemed us a ‘non emergency’ and will not show up for another week. I just hope our landlord can find someone to clean up the water in the meantime.

Or we could pump in some more water, open the downstairs windows and create our own indoor ice skating rink. That would be fun!

22 January 2011

Recovering The Satellites

It wasn't too long ago I publicly sang the praise of satellite radio. How happy I was with the commercial free stations, the freedom to listen to Bruce Springsteen all day long, or songs from the seventies, or Christmas music round the clock. So happy in fact, we decided to purchase a year long subscription before our trial was even over. 

And so our troubles began. 

Ryan wrote XM Radio a check for $173.27 which was cashed on October first. We thought we were good to go. We were wrong. The payment, as it turns out, was never applied to my account and in December we received our first bill for the same amount plus $2.10 for 'invoice costs' as it was put. 

I called XM Radio's Listener Care department. A cute name but not a very realistic one because neither listen nor care are verbs one associates with this service after trying to deal with it. I have spent hours on the phone with them, trying to work things out with people who have not mastered the English language very well and could not care less about this listener. When you ask for a supervisor, you're disconnected. On my third try my call was routed to a girl that seemed to grasp my problem and she supplied me with a fax number for the billing department. I faxed over my proof of payment and hoped for the best. 

Two weeks later I received a reply: a reminder invoice with another $2.10 tacked on to cover the cost of the invoice. They must have some fancy printers there. I called Listener Care again, only to find out the fax number I was given was not an XM Radio fax number. Really? Where did I send a copy of my bank statement to? She had no idea. She gave me a different fax number, a genuine XM Radio number she assured me. The number didn't work. I tried for two days. It rang but was never picked up. 

And so I called the Listener Care department for a third time and lo and behold, I was transferred to a supervisor without being hung up on. I was given a third fax number. I felt really good about that number because it came from a supervisor this time, someone in charge. "The number you are trying to reach is not in service." Phone calls were obviously getting me nowhere and I decided to write a letter, a very polite one even. I enclosed copies of everything and again, hoped for the best. 

Two days ago I received my response. My service was scheduled for deactivation if I didn't pay immediately. Sometime today they made good on their word and cut me off. I have run out of options. It is impossible to resolve anything with a company that refuses to communicate. When I searched online for an alternative way of contacting XM Radio, I stumbled upon Consumer Affairs' website with 62 pages of complaints about this company. Most experiences, from what I have read, are similar to mine. 

I am ready to throw in the towel and write my $173.27 off as a bad investment. But I learned from Consumer Affairs that XM Radio is not done with me. I have more bills to look forward to, charging me for the six weeks of service between the end of my free trial and the day I was cut off. Plus $2.10 for the cost of the invoices no doubt. Followed by collection calls at all hours of the day, because of course I am not going to pay them. We'll see. In the meantime I am back to listening to regular radio. Not commercial free, but at least it's hassle free.


21 November 2010

Giving Thanks

The saddest Christmas song I know was playing on the radio Friday, when I drove home after taking Lola to daycare. (Yes, I have broken my own rule of no Christmas before Thanksgiving, what of it?) The song is "The Little Boy that Santa Claus forgot", a 1937 classic made famous by Nat King Cole, among others.

"He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot,
And goodness knows, he didn't want a lot.
He sent a note to Santa, for some soldiers and a drum,
It broke his little heart, when he found Santa hadn't come."

Doesn't this bring tears to your eyes? Or is it just me, am I such a sap? Either way, while I was driving home, listening to the soft baritone voice of Mr. Cole, I thought about the child we have been assigned by the Rotary to buy Christmas presents for. A little girl, one year old, who needs warm clothes and loves Minnie Mouse. There are many more children like her out there, the little boys and girls that Santa Claus forgot.

I am so grateful Lola is not one of those children, that we can afford to dress her and buy her gifts. I am so grateful we are in the position to help when and where needed, after coming dangerously close to being on the receiving end. It seems like an eternity but it was just last year our situation was so different from what it is now.

During our trials and tribulations I would, from time to time, voice my frustration and anger at the universe on my blog. And without fail, the universe would answer me somehow. I realized I haven't properly and publicly thanked the universe for our reversal of fortune. I think it's time.

Thank you.

17 February 2010

Making Do

I had a little break down this weekend. It came over me quite unexpectedly while I was reorganizing our bedroom. The piles of clothes and miscellaneous clutter had been getting to me and I decided they needed to go. Right now. As I was putting stuff away, folding clothes, and doing laundry, I looked around and realized I wasn't happy with the result. It was nicely organized but it still looked like crap. I do not like the plastic stackable bins that hold my clothes, I do not like the shelf Ryan brought in from the garage for me, and I hate the fact that I do not have a place to store my bead and craft supplies. One where I can easily access them and Lola cannot get into them without supervision.

I laid down on our bed and took in the room. I am usually good at making the most of small spaces but this time it wasn't working for me. Because this is not my house. I can't take a hammer and nails and hang up a shelf, high enough to thwart a toddler. I cannot bring in my own furniture because there is no room for it. As I was lying there, not having a place of my own weighed heavily on me. It's not just this house, it's every house I have lived in since I moved to the US.

When we moved into Snug Harbor, our 700 square feet quaint cottage was filled to the brim. Ryan's things mostly, and what little I had brought with me from Holland. It was far too small to accommodate all our stuff. The furniture was too big. Nothing matched. It felt cramped. We fixed the house up on the outside, but the inside never received the love it needed. Before we were able to tackle that project, we were forced to move again, and found ourselves living in even smaller quarters. And surrounded by bins, dozens of bins, stacked to the ceiling.

I am so sick of not having a nice, comfortable house of my own. One that Ryan and I shape together. Where the furniture matches, where everything has its own place. Where Lola can play. Where I can craft. Where Ryan can make music. Where we can live. I want it more than anything. It breaks my heart that it seems further away than ever.

Please don't get me wrong. I truly appreciate my parents-in-law taking us in. They have a beautiful house, on the lake, surrounded by nature. I love having a fully functioning kitchen at my disposal, not one but three bathrooms, a hot tub, a fireplace operated by remote control, a dishwasher, and a washing machine. For homeless people, we are pretty well off. But it's not ours. Once again we are making do. We have been making do for so long.

It will be a while longer before we can make our dreams of having a home of our own a reality. And we'll make that work. We are fine, really. It just gets to me every now and then. So I throw myself a little pity party, my husband consoles me, and we get back on track. We make do. We're getting pretty good at it.

09 January 2010

Blessed Or Cursed?

Ryan and I were deliberating the other day whether we were blessed or cursed. He thinks we’re cursed, I don’t. It’s not that I am in denial about our current hardships – as much as I would like to be – I just tend to look at things in a more positive way; the ol’ half full/half empty glass debate. I am convinced having a positive mindset will help me accomplish my goals. The Power of Positive Thinking works for me. At the very least, it brings me peace.

I believe we mostly brought our present trials and tribulations on ourselves by bad habits and a few questionable decisions. Add in some bad luck and a failing economy and before you know it, you’re living the American Nightmare. But I clearly see our many blessings and believe we are slowly working our way back up again. I realize it’s probably easier for me to say that; I leave the house every day to go to a fun, albeit increasingly demanding job. Ryan is stuck at home for the moment with no place to go, and no way to get there.

Our lack of transportation is what started this conversation. We are a one car family at the moment, and the Northwoods are a harsh place to be without a car. I had been using my father-in-law’s pick-up truck, leaving Ryan our car. About two weeks ago, the truck suddenly overheated. It’s been in the shop awaiting repair, but every couple of days they give us a call to tell us it’s not what they thought it was, it’s worse. First it was the water pump, and then it wasn’t. It was a broken bolt that could only be reached by removing just about everything under the hood. The latest is the engine needs rebuilding as a result of said bolt rattling around.

As if that isn’t bad enough, our own car needs new tires – suitable for Wisconsin winters – and new windshield wipers. And a new antenna, too. And the fuse for the back lights and parking lights keeps blowing for no apparent reason. An oil change probably wouldn’t hurt either. The muffler fell off a while back, making our otherwise inconspicuous Nissan sound like a rally car. Then the 'Check Engine' light came on. Finally on Thursday, the remainder of the exhaust started dragging over the pavement, forcing us to get the whole thing fixed right then and there. Bye bye to this week’s paycheck.

Yes, this is bad luck. Not to mention lousy timing. But that doesn’t mean we’re cursed. I refuse to believe the Powers That Be look down on us and say: "What? They have running water again? And plumbing? And they no longer have to run outside in the middle of the night to get wood? That’s not right. We need more suffering. Let’s take away their muffler."

It’s not bad Karma either. It’s bad maintenance. Due to lack of finances. Due to... I'm beginning to sound like a broken record. I do, however, wholeheartedly agree with Ryan about one thing. When will this end? While I do not view this as a curse, it is a far cry from a blessing. Enough already!

And just in case I'm wrong and we are cursed, does anyone know of a tried and true method for curse reversal?

30 November 2009

Tough Girl

We're here. Here is Crandon WI, population 1961. Make that 1964. Lola, Sandman, and I flew into Wisconsin last Friday. Ryan will follow in a little bit with a U Haul truck full of furniture and clothes. Lots of clothes. After a busy week of packing boxes and suitcases, visits from friends, and selling more antiques, I kissed my husband good bye, and left Washington for good. My Olympic Adventure has come to an end.

I have mixed feelings about Washington. When Ryan and I were driving back to Olympia after celebrating Thanksgiving with friends in Seattle, we were telling each other our happy Washington memories. There are so many. It is the place where I fell in love, became a wife and a mother, where I watched a bald eagle fishing not thirty feet away, where I camped in the rainforest, where I built a home.

Washington is also the place where I learned first hand about the harsher side of America. Where not one employer would give an experienced communications expert a chance. Where most companies cannot be bothered to reply to an application, or have the decency to tell you they hired someone else after interviewing you. Where no work means no health insurance. Where it is every woman for herself.

But that is not all I learned. I found out I am as tough as they come. I am resilient. I can rough it. I can start a fire from scratch. I can operate an excavator. I can go a year, or longer even, without buying clothes. I can give birth without pain medication. (As I write this, I remember how giving birth the old fashioned way empowered me. If I can handle that kind of pain, I told myself at the time, I can handle anything. And I have.)

I know from experience that over time the bad memories will fade and the good ones will remain. So will the life lessons of my Olympic Adventure. I will apply them to my new adventure. Whatever it is, I can handle it. Bring it on! Forged titanium indeed.

11 November 2009

Emotional Wreck

That's me. Ever since I was offered the job in Wisconsin, my emotions have been all over the place. I am driving my husband, my child, but mostly myself absolutely nuts! Very uncharacteristic of me. Perhaps the past years of bad luck and financial woes are finally catching up with me, now that they're about to end.

I want to be happy and joyful about being offered this job but I just worry too much. It keeps me up at night. I am afraid I will not be granted a gaming license, a necessity for working in a casino. It also makes me sad to walk away from so much potential, the property we put our hearts, souls, and savings into. Not to mention there is so much to do before we move. And almost no time to do it.

But we're finally taking a step forward. A small step maybe, but in the right direction. And I am truly appreciative of the opportunity we have been given here. I am very much looking forward to living in Wisconsin.

I just need to have faith that this is where we are meant to be right now, and hand my worries over. The universe will take care of the rest.

Including the FCP Gaming Commission. Hmmm...

24 April 2009

Dead Fish & Dirty Towels

I listen to KAOS (public radio) in the morning when I drive to work. Shortly after 8 o'clock radio columnist Jim Hightower comes on. He comments on US politics, "battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be." His column is sponsored by the publisher of his book 'Swim against the current, even a dead fish can go with the flow'. I haven't read the book but I think the title is brilliant!

We filed our taxes last week. Had to be done. It was not good. We knew it was coming, but it was still a shock when we actually saw the numbers. Stress levels in this family have gone up a bit since then. We decided to throw in the towel, then took it out again. Threw it in again, and took it out once more. We keep going back and forth and the towel is getting quite dirty.

My Olympic Adventure has become a constant struggle. For all its beauty, we do not own our property, it owns us. The burden is gaining weight. There is so much potential here, I am convinced it is a worthy fight. But as much as we try to go with the flow, we swim mostly against the current these days. And it is wearing us out. We are not moving forward, not even a tiny bit, we are barely staying afloat. It breaks my heart to write this, but we are in serious danger of drowning. I think it might be time to get out of the water.

So, since the universe seems to be in tune with my blog, I am throwing it out there once more: if this is meant to be, can we please get a sign of some sort? And perhaps a flotation device? Thank you!

13 January 2009

The Truth And Nothing But...

When I embarked on my Olympic Adventure, I expected something different. I cannot tell you what exactly but certainly not the situation I currently find myself in. The thing is, we’re broke. Not a little broke, no, Broke with a capital B. I guess Ryan and I felt that after having survived the first year of our life together – with a whirlwind romance, an international wedding, immigration, and a baby – we needed a new challenge.

With me not being able to find a job, our financial situation was not great to begin with. Then Ryan was offered a wonderful job with Siemens Building Technologies and things finally seemed to be going our way, the operative word being ‘seemed’. In this country privacy is a hollow phrase and insurance companies rule the world. On his last day with Comcast while he was briefing his replacement, Ryan received a phone call from Siemens HR in Chicago, telling him there was a problem with his driving record and he was deemed unemployable. “You’ll understand we have to withdraw our offer. Have a nice day.” Seriously, that’s what they said.

As it turns out, two and a half years ago, Ryan was late paying a speeding ticket. They are very straightforward about that sort of thing here; you don’t pay your ticket, they suspend your driver’s license until you do. He has long since paid his ticket but not until three years have passed, is an insurance company willing to insure an employee with a suspended license on his record. Or so Siemens claims. The credit-scoring type points system they use for the hiring of new employees tells Siemens Ryan is unemployable and if the computer says so…

Do I sound bitter? Perhaps a little bit. Where I come from, driving records are not available to employers. Being four weeks late paying a ticket results in a fine, not unemployment. We pulled out everything we had trying to persuade Siemens to put people ahead of policy but to no avail. Policy is policy! And they were so happy to have him on board. We’re talking 10,000 dollar signing bonus, company car, the works.

So, one moment you’re trying to buy more property, the next moment you’re bending over backwards trying to keep the one you have. Since that glorious day in June we have made a few interesting decisions that so far are not really working out too well. Underestimating the difficulty he would encounter finding another job, Ryan pursued his dream. He built a barn in our backyard. He has put everything into it; blood, sweat, tears, and quite a bit of money. We wanted it as a guesthouse at first, or perhaps a rental, but we quickly decided we were going to live in it ourselves and rent out the house.

And that’s what we have been doing since December of last year. Unfortunately, we ran out of money before it was finished. We have no running water (unless you consider a garden hose running from the well running water), no plumbing (we highly recommend Cabela’s Luggable Loo), no downstairs windows (not installed anyway), no insulation, and no stairs. There are a few other things not yet ready but you get the picture, I’m sure. Basically, we’re camping with all our stuff. We try to laugh at ourselves and our situation and not give in to self pity too much. And most of the time we pull it off.

On a positive note: the chimney is fixed and the barn is warm and cozy again. Of course, when we moved back into the barn, the storm had knocked the power out. I kid you not. Life is an adventure indeed!