Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Updates and Stuff

So much has been going on lately so I apologize for not giving any updates. With my dad, getting a business going and moving into the house...Yes I said it.  =O)....I have been pretty busy. with my dad its just been a worry thing since I got back from Illinois.  They are doing all of the work back in Illinois but I think I worry enough for everyone.  LOL  I'm trying very hard not to worry but its something that is ingrained in me.  LOL  I am very happy to say that he is doing well, tired, but well.  He is undergoing chemo and being tired is a side effect.  He's a very strong and determined man and he is taking it day by day, as are we all.  I am just going to appreciate every day that he is still here.

We are almost completely moved into the house.  YAY!  There are still some things that need to be moved over...maybe less than 5% of what we's very little....a few odds and ends, and there are a few things that still need to be done around here, i.e. towel racks, toilet paper holders, washer and dryer....but they are in process and its certainly nothing that prevents us from moving in...which we did.  I forgot how quiet it is here  So peaceful.  It's really nice to have room again too, even though we have a lot of unpacking to do.

So that's it for now.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Celebrations of a Different Sort

Here it is, July 4th.....3 days from the 1 year anniversary of the fire and our deadline.  Mike is making tremendous progress as he feverishly works hard to make it...and we will probably have an inspection sometime in the near future.  While many are celebrating today with bar-b-ques, family, friends, and fireworks, today, I celebrate the life of a tremendous man but not in the way that you may think. 

You see, 2 weeks ago my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Pancreatic cancer.  One of THE most aggressive cancers with a low survival rate of only 20%.  It seems a tumor the size of a cupcake was found on his pancreas and it was wrapped around an artery that goes to his heart.  Surgery could not be done to remove the tumor because of its location so they talked about chemo to shrink it away from the artery.  He was to have his first consultation with a specialist this coming Friday to talk about the course of action and when they would begin.  Something else I should mention is that he has a blood disorder, Factor V Leiden Mutation, a disorder that I have as well, one that causes your blood to clot too much.  Several years ago he had a blood clot in his leg and they discovered the disorder and he has been on blood thinners ever since. 

Yesterday, I received a call from my sister that my Dad was doubled over, trembling and was losing consciousness.  He stubbornly did not want to go the hospital but thankfully my sister called 911.  After numerous texts and phone calls from my sister keeping me updated, it was determined that his muffin size tumor had increased in size to the size of a football in 2 weeks time.  A blood vessel in his pancreas had burst causing internal bleeding as the blood thinners were making it so that his blood would not clot. They were going to go in, cauterize the vessel and drain the blood.  This is not uncommon for this type of cancer. 

When Daddy called me to tell me of his cancer I researched.  I knew what we were up against but truthfully, I thought we had a little more time than this.  We all did.  After alot of thought upon looking at his records and test results, it was determined that surgery was not an option as it really would not help him.  At this point, there isn't anything that can be done but wait.  So I sit here, on very little sleep mind you, waiting for more information so I can figure out when we are traveling so I can make the necessary arrangements and as I sit here I have to come to terms with my Daddy dying while my family has to do the same about 800 miles away.  Feeling helpless is a horrible feeling and my family is feeling the same way sitting in the hospital.  It difficult to come to terms with a parents immanent death and the last 2 weeks have been more than difficult with the pinnacle being today when I got the news.  We are slowly coming to terms with it and accepting it and to be honest, I'm glad that it's happening this fast.  I have already told my family this.  With it happening this fast, that is less time for him to suffer.  I've seen what cancer does.  My family is no stranger it.  I've lost 2 Grandfathers, 3 Uncles, a Brother in Law and my Aunt is a breast cancer survivor.  Needless to say, the less he suffers the better.  We all feel this way. 

Today, while I wait for more news, I remember....I remember how I grew up on a Harley and because of Daddy giving me rides I dream of owning my own and riding some day.  I remember how when I was 9 years old I told him and Mom how I loved the sound of a guitar and he bought me a child sized classical guitar that I still have today.  I have been playing ever since then and when he began his interest in guitars we bonded even more when he purchased his beautiful Les Paul and started to learn.  When I adopted Caesar, my mealy amazon, he became entranced with parrots and now they have 4.  He was truly devasted when I lost Caesar and Raeka in the fire last year.  Daddy is an amazing man.  He lost his own father to cancer, he has had his inner demons that he has battled as long as I can remember but he is also the MOST caring man that you would ever want to meet.  He cries when he watches sad movies or even happy ones (I think thats where I get it from - although he always tries to hide it), LOVES spaghetti westerns and John Wayne movies, hates Shit on a Shingle, and was in the Air Force.  He is a great mechanic on cars and planes but frusterated with with current technology of them.  He can not stand to be in a hospital when a loved one is injured or ill and over worries although he wont let it show (again I get this from him).  He is a passionate story teller, would give you the shirt off of his back if you need it and goes above and beyond what a regular person would do.  I have always idealized my Daddy.  I'm 44 years old and yes, I still call him Daddy.  I always will.  So many memories run through my mind and I can literally be here for days and days telling you about him and my heart breaks but I have to let him go.  We will go to Illinois so we can see him again but I will not say goodbye until it is time.  The doctor says that he has 6 months at the most.  I will hold on as much and as tight as possible while knowing the best thing for him is to leave us.

Now I realize that this is an extremely personal subject and only a few people knew about what was going on, and some would say that I shouldn't share something so personal in a blog.  I can't tell you why I didn't share until now, but I do so because as any writer will tell you, writing is cathartic.  There is a certain freedom and release that goes with writing something so personal for others to see.  I have seen this with the few updates that I have written about the status of the house.  Perhaps I should be writing this in a journal for no ones eyes, perhaps not.  I truly do not know.  I do want everyone to know what a fabulous Daddy I have and like most children I will miss him terribly. 

So, yes, today I celebrate a wonderful man whom we are all so lucky to have in our lives and you can bet we will cherish every single moment that we have left with him.  I am proud to say that he is my father. 

Today, Daddy, I salute you.  You are my hero.  I love you so much.

Isn't he handsome?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Deadlines A-loomin!

We are a little less than 3 weeks away and alot of progress has been made.  Mike is really bustin his butt, along with a few of his friends, and I have to say, the house is looking positively awesome!  I have been posting pictures on facebook as we progress so everyone can get an idea of what is going on.  I think it's kind of fun seeing the process, although it's frustrating because it's not an instantaneous transformation.  In a world where we have microwaves and fast food because we crave instant gratification (come have to admit you sit at the microwave and wonder why it's taking so long), we are used to having things alot faster than the time that they took in the past.  Does anyone remember not having a microwave?  I actually do remember that.  I also remember, large transistor radios, no cell phones (instant gratification of speaking to someone before you get home to call them from your rotary phone; voice dial for quicker service).   So yes, I keep expecting it to happen alot faster than what it is.  Oh if I could only be Jeanie or Samantha Stephens and just cross my arms with the head nod or wiggle my nose and BOOM!  Instant gratification.  But alas, I have to watch my honey bust his hump to get it done the manual way.  Being patient is definitely difficult, but seeing the house come together is really fun.

Currently, we have hardwood in the family room, dining room, Tristen's bedroom (formally the magic room), and the living room.  Mike is working on the hardwood in our bedroom so that we can get to the tile in the bathroom and then Megan and Paige's room still need to have flooring to be done.  So definitely almost done with the hardwood.  The laundry room and main bathroom have been tiled and the kitchen has the tile laid, it just needs to be grouted.  Most of the cabinets have been affixed in place except for a couple that we ordered and just came in.

There is still alot to do but it is coming together nicely.  You know how you have an idea in your head of how you think it will look?  Of course it's looking different than I thought it would, because it always does with me, but it's still looking fabulous.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Getting Closer

Here we are 7 weeks from the 1year anniversary of the fire and the house is still unfinished.  While we have come a along way, we still have a lot to do.  In my last blog, I talked about how the insurance company made an error on the check and we had to get it reissued.  After we got that problem solved, we had issues with the first and second mortgage companies having a pissing contest as to who was going to release the funds to us to get the work completed.    By the time all of this was settled, it was mid February, less than 5 months from the 1 year anniversary.  If we were to have a contractor do the work, 5 months is not nearly enough time to completely gut the inside of a house and replace everything from the studs. This is what we were told.  There was no one who would even take the job, so that left Mike to do the work, which is what he wanted to do anyway, but it would have been nice to have options especially since the mortgage company prefers a contractor doing it.  As this point, Mike had no choice but to do the work himself.  We are now in crunch time.  Yes, we have a deadline.  We have to have the house finished by the 1year anniversary or we not only forfeit payment on any supplemental work that is found but we also lose a pretty hefty betterment….and I do mean hefty.  The mortgage company released the first portion of the funds, 1/3 to be exact, in mid February and when those funds were exhausted, required an inspection by an outside party to make sure that the work is getting done.  Now, here’s the kicker….they wanted us to be at least 50% done….with only 1/3 of the money released.  Yeah, mortgage companies are not great mathematicians apparently.  Scary, huh?  What we believe is the issue here is that they figure the sub-contractors get paid a little later.  Still, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  Anyway, the inspector came out and determined that we are in fact, 60% complete.  YAY!  Well sort of.  Unfortunately, the mortgage company, who originally told Mike that checks are released 24 hours after they receive the inspection, decided to change up the rules a bit and now it takes a week.  That’s a week that we really don’t have when we are on this kind of a time frame. So Mike is finishing up what can be finished and because he is spending so much time doing the actual work on the house, very little time is left where the two of us can get together and choose flooring, cabinets, etc.  We were able to choose the hardwood floor together and the paint, and that’s it.  The large items, tile, cabinets, appliances, etc, I had to go out and figure out what I liked and then get Mike’s opinion on them.  Thankfully, I did pretty well and he liked what I picked.  I have to say that I was a little worried about it because I have been finding that our tastes are a bit different and we had to compromise on the hardwood floors.  Thankfully, it worked out.  The thing is, we have to have all of the large items chosen because once that check gets here we have to immediately order them because they take time to get in.  With only 7 weeks to finish, waiting for a check, and the flooring taking 1 week to get in, the cabinets take 2 weeks and then the granite countertops take another week on top of that (after we figure out the cabinets), I’m sure that you can see why I am starting to get panicked.  Mike has done a tremendous job getting this far this fast and if we were to have a general contractor, one that waits for the subs to be finished with other work before coming to our house, then we definitely would not be as far as we are.  Mike has made sure that if a sub contractor can’t come out when we need them, he finds someone else to do the work.  Last night I was shopping for granite, fixtures, and other odds and ends that we really can’t afford to not have picked out at this point.  It’s a good thing we were able to choose the larger items quite quickly because last nights trip was not nearly as positive.  I have to believe that it’s because I haven’t found the perfect fit yet, if I don’t believe that, then I will begin to panic full force and I really don’t want to do that.  I can’t afford to do that.  I do know that it will work out and the house will look fabulous when all is said and done and hopefully we will have the betterment money in our pockets at the end of this journey.  

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The New Year

It's been awhile since I've written here and quite frankly, I just wasn't in the mood to share. I've been keeping quite alot in, delving deeper and deeper inside myself, trying to come to terms with everything. I've been a bit afraid of being judged because I'm not over my home catching fire and I just didn't want to deal with everyone. As I have said before, it's a journey that if you haven't had the displeasure of having, you have no clue as to what it is like to live through something like this. I've had my good times, and most of them have been good, but every once in awhile, something comes up and that makes me sad. Merlin sounding like Caesar or seeing someones home on fire on the television. I suppose that until we are back in the house, that my sad moments will continue and they will become less and less as time goes on.

It certainly doesn't help that a couple of months ago our house, the burned one, got broken into and many things were stolen. Apparently, there has been a rash of thefts in our area and our home was only one of several that has been "hit". Several tools that were inside the house were taken, as well as several tools that were in the shed. My large jewelry box was stolen...the entire box. It was one of those 3 foot tall ones (that we don't have room for in the new place ) and most of the jewelry that was in there was pretty cheap stuff, however, the kid's teeth were in there from when they were little...when they were given to the tooth fairy. Not only was all of this stolen, but they also took copper pipes and wiring, and our tractor out of our back yard. A FREAKING TRACTOR!!! I was angry at first, but I know that their karma will hit them like a brick. Mike spoke with the officer that lives on our road the other day (she was out of state at the time of our theft) and she said that they are pretty positive of who it is but they can't prove it. Since our home, a few more have been broken into and even a local cell phone tower was broken into the other day and the copper wiring stolen as well.

For awhile now, we have been dealing with the insurance company printing the wrong company on the check for the second mortgage. Because of this, we haven't really been able to do anything to the house. We don't have the money to put into replacing things and we have to have the check but we cant get the check endorsed because the wrong company is on it. Not to mention the fact that Mike is afraid to do any work on the house for fear that more things will be stolen. We just got the check issue cleared up and once we get all of the endorsements, Mike plans on taking some time off of work and just getting it done so we can move in and not worry about anything getting stolen. 6 months later and we are basically where we were right when we moved into the place where we are now.

The holidays have been a bit difficult for me this year. Sure they have been good as far as having family, a roof over my head, etc., however, it's the first year that we haven't had a Christmas in the house since we moved there. I miss my home. I miss having a big tree. I miss my beloved pets. I miss it all. I know most are probably tired of hearing of me talk about it, but you know what....I don't care. This is a huge thing that happened to us and things will never be the same. We all take our own time in healing and I am still working on that process. It is different for everyone and no one can tell you how long you can/should grieve over any kind of loss. My sad moments are actually pretty few but I do not feel as though I can't really share them outside of my immediate family. I have discovered that I can count on very few people in my life outside of my immediate family and feel abandoned by a couple of people.

As 2011 comes to a close, I have a feeling that 2012 will bring fantastic things for many, including my family and I. I finally see an end in sight for getting back into our home and I've learned alot about myself throughout this process. I have learned that I am stronger than what I thought. I can handle alot more than I thought without falling apart and being bipolar, that is quite an accomplishment. I also realized that I never really cried over the loss of my home. I have let loose twice but it wasn't over the actual loss of my home. They were about the loss of Roxy and the rest of my pets and the frustrations of dealing with people and living in a hotel room. I have had to be strong for many reasons. I've had to be strong for my kids, I've had to be strong so that I could work without falling apart, perhaps I was afraid of crying for fear of completely falling all honesty, I just don't know. It's a taxing process physically and mentally. I have noticed alotOk, so it wasn't the best way to get one, but still its a positive from a tough situation. There have been a few people that have asked me if I dislike lightening or assume that I dislike lightening and they couldn't be more wrong. I LOVE lightening. It's beautiful. Powerful. Stunning. I had respect for it before, but I have even more now. While 2011 was an extremely tough year for my family and I in many many ways even excluding the fire, the years happenings have made us stronger people. Unfortunately, I had to lose my beloved feathered and furred family. That in itself was a lesson as well. I now cherish the ones that remain and I'm very thankful that they survived.

I know that 2012 has alot of wonderful things in store for my family and I and I look forward to them with joy in my heart.

May 2012 bring you all much happiness, joy and abundance.

Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Redefining Home

So it's been awhile since I posted and that is because I was in the anger phase of my grief.  I won't lie, folks.  It was nasty.  I went through the normal "Why Me", but that was actually pretty brief.  More of my anger stemmed from the frustration of my life being turned upside down, i.e. living in a hotel, not getting enough sleep (stress and those stupid hotel beds were NOT comfortable), visiting the pet family at the vets so they didn't think I abandoned them...just alot of frustration that put together grew into a ball on anger.  There hasn't been any blame because there is no one to blame.  Sure I can be pissed off at Mother Nature for "shooting" my house, as Paige put it, but I know that shit happens.  There was not a bullseye on my house.  We were not the target of a Mother Nature terrorist.  With all that has happened in the last month, I still FIRMLY believe that everything happens for a reason, but I had to go through the anger process in order to heal.  While I still get frustrated, I'm no longer angry.  My frustration will probably be on and off until my house is completely finished and that's ok.  Heck, I may even still get a bit angry.  Let's face it...a year is a long time to wait for your home to be completed but that's part of the process.  We have to just accept it.

Sunday, August 7th, exactly one month after the fire, we checked out of the hotel and moved into the rental.  There isn't a whole lot available in Bennett and we have learned that when you find something, that you have to snatch it up when you can because it goes quickly.  We did find a single wide mobile home that has been renovated...except the 2 bedrooms.  It's quite beautiful.  Knotty pine cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom and a huge garden tub in the bathroom.  There are knotty pine shutters in the bathroom and in Paige's room, adding quite the country touch, which quite honestly, is our family's style....well, Mine and Mike's anyway.  Paige's room was drywalled but the floor hasn't been replaced.  She and her friend Paula, splatter painted it Sunday night.  It looks awesome especially now that her black futon with the flourescent pink and green pillows are in there.  Mine and Mike's room hasn't been touched at all.  Still has the wood paneling and the burnt orange shag carpet.  Just need a disco ball and I'm all set.  Well, quick fix was paint the paneling and I chose a sage green that goes perfectly with our newly purchased pine log furniture.  The yard is gorgeous, there is a beautiful garden and a big ass porch.  We are pretty happy with our choice.  The challenging part is going from 2,000 square feet to 960 but we will adjust.  We are also living in the heart of Bennett rather in BFE so that is quite a difference too.  But that's ok.  I'm happy to be out of the hotel and into a "home".  The reason for the home in quotations is because my home is no longer what it was before and I think I touched on this before.  The home I knew no longer exists, and never will, so we have to redefine it.  We are going to be in this home for awhile so eventually it will become home. We don't have everything that we had before so with a new couch and new beds, the home feeling will take a little bit longer than moving our old stuff into it but it will eventually become home.  Just as the new home will eventually become home again once we move back into it, but it will take longer because it wont look the same.  These things take time.  We are still moving into the house and it's so slow that its sometimes kind of painful.  I want all of us there again, but I had to have the cage before I could bring Merlin home.  All painting had to be done before then also because paint fumes can be fatal for birds.  The cage has been thouroughly cleaned and put in the house, painting is completed and now the fids (feathered/furred kids) can come home!  Since I have a small Isuzu Hombre (basically a Chevy S-10), I have to do it in shifts because of lack of room.  So Sisco comes home tonight after work and Salem and Merlin will come home tomorrow night.  I can't wait!  I have been looking forward to this day since the day after the fire.  It will truly be a bittersweet moment and I am even tearing up right now just thinking about it.  Once they are home, life can start to be back to normal again.  Sure, we will still be moving and going through things in the old house and seeing if they come to the new house or go into storage.  Right now, this is our new normal and that's ok. 

Last night was the first nights sleep in my new bed and it's the FIRST night that I slept completely through since the night of the fire. Yes that's right....I haven't had a good nights sleep for a month.  It was heaven.  While I miss my ever so comfortable waterbed (which would go with the orange shag carpet if it would fit in the room - both being '70's throwbacks), I do have a fabulous new pine log bed with a pillowtop mattress that is almost like sleeping on a cloud.  It's almost as if my bed was hugging me and while it does sound like it could be something out of a horror movie, it was quite splendid and I can't wait to be hugged again tonight.

Now that things are getting back to the new normal, I can start going to coven things again, which life was keeping me from doing BEFORE the fire.  I can enjoy things again rather than being antsy, wondering when we were gong to be in a rental.  Yes, things are finally looking up and going well, and while all of the movement has caused more pains in my fractured foot, I am content that things are settling down.  I am going to enjoy my hugging bed, big ass porch, big ass bathtub, having my family around me and calling my damaged home the Country Estate.  I can begin to relax a bit even though I will be busy for quite some time.  I will dream of that view that you see in the picture to the left....the view that is about a mile from my home, the Country Estate and know that seeing that view is just beyond the horizon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Picking Up The Pieces

Yesterday, Mike, Megan and I went to the house to pack up some things.  For me, it was the first time seeing it other than pictures Mike took.  I am glad that I saw the pictures first because I do think that it softened the blow a little.  It took a bit for me to be able to actually leave the truck and walk into the house and when I did, I didn't wander around.  I stuck to the area that I knew was the least magic room.  It was a bit disturbing walking into the least damaged area as there was soot and insulation everywhere.  The fire damage itself was contained to the laundry room but the soot was every where in the house and while its not fire damage it is smoke damage and seeing your home covered in soot is quite shocking.  At least it was to me.  After being there a bit I got better but the initial shock was overwhelming. Megan boxed up her room since she left today to go back to North Dakota and I packed up my magic room because Miek didn't want to even begin to do that.  He knows how much money I have invested in there and how much my things mean to me so he didn't want to take the chance of damaging them. Mike and our friend Joey packed up some things from the rest of the house, like pictures from the wall and photo albums...things that we worry about could be damaged if someone came in and wanted to cause trouble.  We were there 4 hours and I got hte magic room done and Megan got her room done.  Mike and Joey will be taking the boxes into storage until we are able to find a rental.  I kept a few things with me, not many, to help me feel more comfortable.  Kind of  "Home in a Box", like a security blanket.  Sounds a little crazy I know, but I have lost alot and while I dont have alot of room here at the hotel, I wanted just a few items with me for comfort, I guess.  We will be slowly going through the rest of the house to see what is salvagable and pack it up.  There are some things that will wash up pretty well, others will not, so at least we will still be able to have some smaller things with us to help us feel more at home whereever we end up.

Seeing the house really helped things become more real.  I mean, I've known that it was real but actually seeing the damage really set it in stone.  I actually needed that, even as hard as it was.  The truth is, the damage could have been so much worse and while seeing my home covered in soot and seeing my non existant laundry room was difficult, it was good for me to see that we were lucky.  I've been reminding myself of that on and off, and I do honestly believe it, but it's still hard to take sometimes.

We also rode around town looking for houses to rent since the relocator is having a few problems but she is out of state and doing the best she can.  I know we will be in another house when we are meant to and until then, we will be live in the hotel.  I am trying to look at the fire as an eraser to we can start with a clean slate.  Not that things were bad, because they weren't, but they can always be better and apparently now it is time for a change in our lives.  A chance for things to be better.