Category Archives: Personal Update

What Did We Get Ourselves Into?!?

Oy vey… It’s been one of those days, and a LONG one to boot. Why? We brought THIS home:

Do NOT be fooled by it’s appearance!!! Tis a dread, snarling beast with a foul temper and long sharp teeth!

I should have known when the other people at the adoption agency were all like:

LOL, If she could read, she MIGHT have a complex by now.

Seriously though, this little tornado was all over the house from one end to other for almost 5 hours straight!

You name it, she attacked and chased it. The poor octopus toy there never stood a chance. 😀 She was up and down both cat trees, frequently jumping from the top of the one that’s inside the house proper (the other is in the sun room).

She tried to jump on top of that book case also, LOL.

At 1:30am she finally settled down. It’s now 2:30 and she’s running about again.

She’s a cutie, but we’re going to have our hands full with little Trinity the Tortie here. She’s batted water out of her bowl all over the hardwood floors, and goes from “Pet me, NOW!” to “Now I’m going to bite and claw your hand or foot” in .0005 nanoseconds too.

Kidding aside, it’s apparent her foster home didn’t have the kind of accommodations (and toys) that’s she’ now enjoying. We’ll have to see how she gets along with our other cat Machi.

So far, it’s been interesting. When Trinity was first taken out of her carrier (at the adoption center) she ran into Machi’s and hid curled up next to her. Then when we took them both out, Trinity growled and tried to swipe at Machi (who is twice her size). Once we got them home, Machi hissed at Trinity, who was still in her own carrier. Since then, they’ve avoided each other. More like Machi has avoided her.

So yeah, the next few days will be interesting. Both in terms of seeing if this 14 week old wild child ever powers down, and if the two cats can get along.

Writing??? Blogging??? Maybe Tomorrow…

Image via NoFilmSchool.com

Ever feel like that picture above? I’m sure most of us have. If you haven’t, you’re likely new to writing, or not analyzing your work and growing as a writer.

Needless to say, normally we’re talking about writer’s block here. Maybe that actually IS what I’m dealing with, in a warped sort of way. I know what I want to write, that’s the irony here. I’ve had numerous posts all worked out in my head. I just can’t get to the point of putting them “to paper”.

I’ve been staring at the screen for this post for a few days now actually. I wanted to figure out the “why”, and have something more to write than complaining. Long story short; I feel like I’m chasing my tail here AND that I’ve got other obligations.

Chasing My Tail:

This is much akin to previous posts I’ve made discussing my frustration with blogging. It’s been a TON of work, and the “ROI” (return on investment) has been pretty minimal. On anything but a very short post (ie Book of Boba Fett – Chapter 2), I spend about an hour working on the post. Hunting pictures, researching and fact checking to various degrees, proof reading and editing, etc…

I’m subscribed to numerous other blogs, which I actually DO read also. That can take another couple hours out of my day. What do I get back? A dozen likes out of 777 followers, with 2/3 of the “likes” being from people that never read the post. They’re just trying to trade fake “likes” as if this was Facebook or Twitter.

My original goal with creating this blog was to build an audience for books I’d write and sell. I’m sure not accomplishing that here. Somehow I have to get that whole goal back on track.

As much as I’d like to make it all about the fake likes and followers who don’t follow, there IS the other side of the coin to look at. Put out a better product and people will want it. I’ve spent the last few days pondering how to improve the blog.

WordPress supposedly just released a vast new array of customization options. Exploring those tools and trying to make heads or tails of them is on the agenda. How successful will I be? Who knows. Every new “improvement” to WordPress seems to just turn it into a bigger mess. I actually miss the “good old days” of LiveJournal.com… sort of. LOL. My current template has a few things I don’t like though, especially the fact it puts the reply button at the TOP of a post instead of the bottom. The biggest variable will probably be what features / tools are paid (isn’t everything on WP anymore?).

The actual writing itself… I realize I’ve been writing just to write (filler essentially), and I’ve been overly concerned about self-censoring to keep an audience. I have to write for ME first, otherwise there’s no authenticity. Readers can tell when that’s the case.

I’m still going to make every effort to be polite, etc… What will change is that I’m not going to avoid doing topics like martial arts because I think nobody is interested. There’s more to life than recipes and nature pictures. Those will still be here however. 🙂 I’m going to experiment a little with social issue posts and calling out the media as well. I want to do it in a calmer, more productive way than previously however. Focusing on where and what the manipulations are, for starters.

I don’t know if I’ll actually change anyone’s mind. I hope to at least make people think however. There’s just so much BS out there anymore. Most of it is just pointless ego aggrandizement also. For example, I saw an article online today that talked about how psychologists are coming to appreciate all the contradictions in Buddhism. Trouble is, there aren’t any. Some stuff, such as “If you see the Buddha on the path, kill him”, has a deeper meaning and is meant to provoke thought. More often the apparent contradictions are simply warnings against both extremes.

Somebody needed to feel intellectually superior by attempting to discuss Buddhism and psychology together though.

So, bottom line is that I intend to do quite a bit of experimenting and try to find what feels right (write? lol) for my blog.

Better Things To Do:

OK, so the video doesn’t have much to do with the topic, beyond the name… Well, and I suppose the major argument I had with my almost-ex spouse over the state of our lives. Suffice it to say somebody is far too comfortable in their comfort zone and is FAR too poor at communication and working together. Spending time trying to meet my own ends of the change I insisted upon IS part of what I’ve been occupied with though.

There’s our whole housing situation as well, which is still hanging in limbo.

My recent spider bite situation let me know just how deteriorated my overall health is also. The antibiotics had me sleeping for almost 2 days straight. I was wiped out for a good week afterwards too. I need to finally get back out into the real world and get a job to help out. I need to get my health back to the point I can actually work a full day though.

That’s a hard realization for somebody who used to train 3 hours a day at two different martial art studios back in the 90s. The ex and I were pretty fit back in the day.

So yes, priorities are readjusting. At the same time however, there’s no reason I wouldn’t have enough time to do my blogging too. I just need to be a little better organized than I have been previously. 🙂

And congratulations if you actually made it all the way through this rant. 😀

Yet Another Quick Personal Update

Yes, I’ve been away yet again, but I’m back. 🙂

It’s been a hectic last week plus here. Initially, it was last minute holiday preparations and cooking two different holiday dinners (the things we do for family). The previously mentioned spider bite slowed me down just a little as well. More on the meals in a separate food post. 🙂

During the prep for the bigger, second dinner, my Microplane box grater decided to take a chunk out of my thumb instead of leaving it at the smoked gouda cheese

If you’ve never used this goodie, or the more well known Microplane graters:

I highly recommend them. They work amazingly well on anything from lemon skin (for zest) to coconut to thumbs. 👍🤨 Dark humor aside, they’re FAR superior to the typical grater.

After the dinners, presents and festivities, it’s been a combination of clean up and (mostly) what I can only assume is a reaction to the antibiotics for the spider bite; I’ve been dead on my feet for days. Worst case of fatigue I can ever remember. Yesterday, I was only awake for 7 hours or so and I was dead on my feet the entire time.

I’d almost attribute it to the Onmicron variant (which is supposed to cause severe fatigue), but I’ve felt fine otherwise. Even the spider bite is healing nicely. So with no other suspects or symptoms, the now finished off antibiotics seem the most logical suspect.

Despite it all, I’ve managed to keep the new positive outlook. Can’t say I’ve been perfect. Last minute grocery shopping certainly worked my last good nerve, lol. I’m sure hoping that I’m done with the fatigue now as well. I’m managing to keep an overall positive attitude about everything though. 🙂

Presents and meals you ask? Next Time. 😉 Here’s a hint though:

Well, That Bites…

Time for another brief personal update. The post’s tile is partially a pun. I’ve been sidetracked and away from the blog not only due to holiday stuff, but because I also literally got bit by.. something.

My suspicion after doing some internet research is that it’s a spider bite, likely a black widow or brown recluse. I never felt the bite nor saw any spider though. The first day I noticed it, I wasn’t sure what it was and it didn’t look TOO bad all things considered. I decided to wait a day and see how it progressed.

Image via http://billericky.hubpages.com/hub/poisonous-venomous-spiders-brown-recluse-black-widow-most-poisonous-spiders-images

This is a pic from the internet. For new followers, I’m paranoid about personal photos online, hence this pic as a stand-in. My apparent bite is on my calf and looked similar but the center is darker and hard like a scab.

Getting back to the story, by the end of the day, my calf was showing some swelling, and I wasn’t feeling so good. Long story short, we spent almost 3 hours waiting in the local ER, got literally one minute of face time with an actual doctor (who barely looked at the alleged bite), and sent with some antiseptic wash and a prescription for major antibiotics.

Aside from the lousy ER experience though (and they were not that busy BTW), the whole event has been pretty mild for what was likely a bite by a dangerous spider. I felt lousy for a few days, and slept ALOT, but the wound is slowly healing as opposed to the horrific click bait pics out there of widow or recluse bites just rotting away huge areas of flesh.

At this point, the worst of it all is that the Doxycycline antibiotics make me sick to my stomach, even if taken with food. That’s minor in the grand scheme of things however. 🙂

The big trick is going to be catching up on all the Christmas stuff I still have to do. We’re hosting not one, but TWO dinners this year. Christmas day will be five people, and then Sunday will have 11 of us after the out of state in-laws finally make it to town.

I could have just left everything at Sunday only but Christmas is supposed to be celebrated on Christmas, dangit. 😀 😀

Faith and Fear

That’s what today’s personal update is about; struggling between faith and fear. That’s kind of where I’ve been the last week or so. Enough so that I’ve really struggled to put words to “paper” about it and thus been absent here as I struggle to find my footing.

I should start where I last left off I suppose. 🙂 Even before my last post, I’d been picking up little messages here and there urging me to shake off the slump I was in. A Buddha quote in a blog post, the underlying theme in Cobra Kai (which we’ve been watching), etc… I could make a whole series of posts about how neither Johnny nor Daniel are balanced emotionally until the end of season 3, but that’s another story…

More to the point, all these messages got me to see two important truths:

  1. No matter how bad my life has gotten, in the end every situation resolved itself in an essentially positive manner
  2. There’s truth in the adage that there’s no point in worrying about problems because either they can be corrected and thus solved, or they’re completely out of your control anyway.

Perhaps stress and suffering (partially) come from not knowing the distinction between the two and thus categorize one’s problem.

At any rate, I’ve found a great deal of peace in the combination of those two realizations. I’ve accepted that whatever comes, we will get through it and eventually get back on our feet. It’s always happened, no matter how dark the moments in my life. Funny how much things have changed in the last week also. I’m thinking more clearly and FINALLY noticed that a bog contributor to my back pain issues has been my stubborn refusal to wear shoes. Circumstances required shoes for 3 or 4 days though and I noticed how much better my feet and back felt vs wearing sandals.

On a level that could be written off as coincidence, but I’m choosing to attach some spiritual meaning to, we also had a minor breakthrough on our legal case; our lawyer found out that the home inspection company we were referred by our realtor wasn’t licensed to do inspections in Georgia. If true, that’s going to leave them open to a legal broadside.

I have a habit of searching for deeper meaning in things, and part of me wonders if all the bad experiences weren’t used by (not orchestrated by) God to try to teach me I’ve got the strength to overcome all of it if I had faith in myself, AND to teach me to have faith in Him since I always landed on my feet.

Am I in a perfect place now? Far from it. Fear of everything that could and might go wrong is still warring hard against my new sense of calm. I’ve had so many things go wrong in the past after multiple times taking a step in this direction that I’ve been outright afraid to even make this post. Maybe it’s time to stop looking for the other shoe dropping though and try to get on with life.

Four Years…

Yep, 4 ‘Glorious’ Years…

This was actually about a week ago. Things have just been a mess here, and I didn’t get around to this sooner.

It’s hard to believe I’ve actually been here this long, and how little I feel I’ve accomplished beyond dealing with a never ending, ever escalating series of disasters that keep me from doing any real writing.

Follow the Evidence, Ep. 3 – Mudjacked

Yes, time for another personal / house drama update. O_O And another round of follow the evidence!

When I last left off here, I was complaining that our lawyer had some… unorthodox practices. Seems that the whole “fill in the blank” rough draft of lawsuits is normal for him. This based on talking to another client (who had referred us). Perhaps it’s about saving billable hours, maybe it’s about getting a client to think about what they’re really doing and / or asking for.

It’s only the rough draft that’s done this way however, AND the lawyer assures us that HIS inspector was just speaking casually in his report. “Walkthrough” supposedly meant walkthrough by an inspector.

At any rate, I dropped off a thick binder full of evidence, documenting everything we’d found and had misrepresented to us, along with a ton of supporting photos:

I categorized it all and separated it using old school tabbed divider pages also. When I dropped it off at the law office, the legal assistant said they should hire me to organize their paperwork, lol. I told them I was available. 😛

After raising a little hell, we FINALLY got the engineer’s report back later yesterday (Monday). It called for 37 footing pylons to stabilize and lift the walls as well as boosting up the entire foundation with high density foam. Since I already know from talking to the initial inspector that those pylons run $1500 each, we’re talking $55,500 just for that. Then we have to add in the foam, repairing and leveling the foundation and new flooring. What I suspected would be a $60,000 estimate is likely going to be over $100,000. I’m supposed to have an official estimate later this morning.

Let’s not also forget that we have to add in asbestos abatement to the mix as well so that it’s safe for the workers to do their thing.

Mudjacked!

Here’s where it gets “fun”. If you’ve ever used that spray foam in a can sealant that home depot sells for sealing openings where faucets come through the exterior walls, etc… you’ve probably seen how quick it decays. Give it two years and it’s rotting out.

Because of that, I decided to do some research on this foam that they use to support foundations. Turns out it’s supposedly good indefinitely (must be great for the environment), but the ground underneath it might still continue to shift or erode. Ergo, most places that do this treatment offer a 25 year warranty. The site I was reading up on this mentioned that is superior to “mudjacking”, and was taking it’s place as an industry standard.

So I got really curious there and decided to start researching. Mudjacking is a similar, but older process that uses a mix of wet mud and sand mixed with just a little bit of portland concrete to firm it up. It looks something like this:

It took about a minute to hit me… Deja Vu: the feeling you’ve seen this someplace before.

I can’t be 100% certain without testing, BUT I’d bet dollars to donuts that tan stuff underneath the THIN foundation edge IS mudjacking mix.

That means that somebody, likely the seller, was aware of and concerned enough about the foundation issues to try to jack up and support it. That’s a MAJOR failed disclosure, and a huge one for our side of the lawsuit if we can establish that fact, or even put doubt in the judge or jury’s mind(s).

It’s a MAJOR expense if we can’t get the sale rescinded. That’s our goal at this point as opposed to any sort of monetary judgment. I have little doubt that everyone we’re suing will either hide assets or declare bankruptcy to avoid paying any sort of judgment. Right now, our ballpark estimate is around half the value of the house, maybe more in repair costs.

And on top of everything else… when we were down there yesterday, the thermostat was not working. More money, more money, mo…

Meals Monday: Steak Fettuccine Alfredo

I’m battling to get back to a normal routine the past few days. Part of that is I did make a concerted effort to create a nice dinner for us last night. That offering was Fettuccine Alfredo (with my homemade Alfredo sauce) topped with steak. Note the sauce recipe is towards the bottom on the linked to post.

As always start with fresh pasta:

Wow, focus was off there. 😦 Oh and that’s a loaf of Rosemary Parm Bread next to the pasta, courtesy of Costco. Not as good as homemade, but decent.

While the water was heating up, I stared the strips of steak sauteing in butter and garlic:

two in a row, so much for the high end camera on the new samsung

I’m throwing in the above picture primarily to show off that colander. This was right before I dumped the water. It was a Christmas present from my mom a couple years back. Super handy as it holds tight to the pot, is heat resistant silicone, and is much easier to clean up than a full colander.

Beyond that, since the camera was acting up, I’ll cut this a little short. Aside from the bread and pasta dishes, I also cooked up some butternut squash and added a touch of cinnamon to it. Viola; one almost gourmet meal:

Gibbs Rule Number 36?

Rule #36: If you feel like you’re being played, you probably are.

That’s where I’m at now with the house lawsuit. Our lawyer has been waiting for a report from his own hired inspector to detail everything I’ve already gone over in-depth. To a degree, I understand that. As much as I’ve educated myself the last two months, I’m NOT a professional building contractor nor an inspector.

The lawyer has the report now, and is apparently eager to move forward. We got a copy of the report, and TO ME, it looks very weak at best, if not outright torpedoing our case. Worse is that it backpedals on multiple things that I’d discussed with the inspector while he was at the house.

He left out the picture of the extremely shallow foundation slab, and blew off the vertical cracks in the walls, saying that the uneven foundation was just normal settling for a 63 year old house for starters. That’s HUGE, as it’s the biggest expense in repairing the house, and the keystone of the lawsuit.

Only that top grey bit is concrete, that’s a few inches of clay beneath it.

He also said that most of the problems should have been evident during a walkthrough.

Our lawyer is saying that the inspector is talking about a “walkthrough” by the previous inspector. In formal debate and even more so in law however, wording is everything. Buyers do a walkthrough. Inspectors do an inspection. If I’m opposing counsel, I’m going to pounce all over that wording and apply the proper or common meaning. Then I’m going to make it look like the buyers were idiots who didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention and are now crying over their own lack of due diligence.

The reality is, I specifically asked the inspector we first hired about the roof and foundation (among other things), and he LIED his ass off about ALL of it, telling us it was fine. Combine that with the seller having furniture and boxes hiding several issues and it was easier than it should have been to get burned.

That’s getting off track however. The main point is that I’m having a REALLY hard time believing that our lawyer wants to go to court with documentation that makes our case look so weak. I was undefeated in debate in high school and collage and I’d NEVER use that paperwork to support an argument. It plays right into the other side’s hands. My mom, on the other hand says “Trust him, he’s supposed to be working for your benefit”, etc… (and that I always see backstabbers everywhere).

Yeah, well… Guess what? The original inspector was supposed to be working for our benefit, and so was the Realtor that we hired. I think we all know how THAT worked out.

So yes, at this point I am wondering it this lawyer is just setting us up to fail while collecting thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees along the way. Gibb’s Rule #36.

While we’re at it, numbers 3(A), 8, 35, 39 and 40 also seem to apply here. To say nothing of number 13

Available as a mousepad on Etsy… And a coffee cup. Not by me.

OK, yes, it’s just a TV show and Gibbs is just a now retired character from the show. He was a somewhat flawed character also. None the less, many of those rules do indeed make sense. There are occasional nuggets of wisdom in the turd pile that is TV programming philosophizing.

While we’re at it, let’s not forget what Shakespeare had to say about lawyers…

Follow Up: Following Evidence

Yes, time for a short update to yesterday’s post on Following the Evidence.

Two things happened today. First, I went down to the “new” house and did some more digging in preparation for meeting with a different attorney. My suspicions were confirmed about the door that the seller added in:

My picture was crooked, BUT you can see the bubble in the center shows that the threshold for the door IS level. BUT… when you put it on the floor near the threshold:

We’ve got some seriously uneven floor there. The ONLY way to get that door assembly level was to compensate for the uneven floor / foundation. Ergo, the seller HAD TO know that the house is sinking.

Side note; that MAY be asbestos flooring that was underneath the carpet also. Yet another thing to have checked.

We bought a tripod to put our laser level on, and assuming all was done correctly, I got some interesting readings from the various rooms of the house. The den is by far the worst area for foundation issues. There are other problem areas however. The other end of the house SEEMS to have the front corner rising and the back corner sinking. Both by just an inch or so. The entire center 1/3 of the house seems to be pretty level.

Notice I’m hedging my words here a little. The reason being is that I re-checked the wall which was in yesterday’s post, and this time it read as level. My best guess for the difference in readings is that yesterday the laser MAY have had it’s switch stuck in the ‘lock’ position, which would have kept it from self leveling.

I can’t help but wonder though, if that whole portion of the house is sinking, why is it only showing on two walls running North – South and NOT on the East – West running wall that connects to both of them? The sinking extends beyond the East-West wall by at least 15 feet, so something should be showing with it as well.

And THEN There Was The Lawyer:

Without going into a ton of particulars, this lawyer was a good deal more optimistic regarding our chances. There couldn’t be any commitments just yet, as we’d forgotten our paperwork, and he said he’d want to have a contractor that he uses look at the house to determine what he can offer expert testimony on.

So, what the case is going to come down to is what can shown that the seller at least SHOULD have had reasonable knowledge of, and therefore an obligation to disclose.

He MIGHT be able to play dumb about the termites for example. They were inside the wall. HOWEVER, a neighbor says he was warned about termites, and the seller had the carpeting up to do work, so an argument could be made that he might have seen a crack in the slab and termites.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the side door and the windows. I’ve already proven in this post that he had to make corrections for the foundation sinking in order to install those doors and windows correctly.

Things are also looking pretty good for building a case against the realtors and the inspectors as well.

Reality is we’re not going to know anything until Monday on the paperwork end of things. I’m delivering that in the morning. Regarding the physical condition of the house, that won’t be until Friday.

So, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The primary question is what kind of light.