Monday, July 30, 2007

Right or Happy?

My mom went back yesterday. She called when she got in, and while I think she was glad to be home, I also think she wishes I had come back with her - that I could just go "home" and be down the street. Not that she is alone in this!! :) Some of our struggles arise because of that tension between wanting home to include family and accepting that growing up means having a home of my own that may not be close in geography.

We were able to sort out the other issues, too, but the funny thing is, in talking to my mother, I realized I was talking to myself as well. F'rinstance, one of the issues that has been troubling for my parents is money. Not that this is a big surprise, since one of the most significant issues for any couple is usually money: how to spend it, who makes the decisions, etc.

My mom worked for most of her life at a job she was very good at but that she tolerated at best because she could make more money at it than my dad could make at his chosen profession. She resented the hell out of that imbalance, particularly since my dad was (and remains) actually an excellent teacher, but he chose to be a pastor to follow in the footsteps of a man he looked to as a surrogate father, even though he often resents the general requirements of his profession.

Anyway, in talking with my mom about the things that drive her to the despair she has lived with for a while now, I mentioned to her that she had choices - she could choose whether to agree to how these things were done, she could speak up, she could put money into her own account for her own use, etc. And, unlike some families I've heard of, she actually could. My dad can be selfish and manipulative, but he is not unreasonable. He's just too smart for his own damned good (like some other people I know.....)

As we were in this discussion, my mom kept saying that she's tried, but she can't. I told her that she can, but that she chooses not to because she gets a benefit from things staying the way they are. She said, "what benefit? How is this good for me?" I told her, "You like to be right. If Dad is wrong, then you're right." She thought about it for a minute, and then she said, "You know, I never thought of it like that....."

We'll see how things go - I think they are both motivated to move forward with this, and I think with my dad going back to school, he will have less time to get into mischief, but we'll see. My dad is pretty fact-driven. He can make great arguments around the facts, but he's usually up-front enough to admit when a situation is imbalanced. The hard part is getting him to follow through - but that's a tale for another day.

The discussion stuck with me, though, not because it concerns my parents, but because I know that I am like both of my parents in many ways. I started thinking about how their relationship formed the model for my own relationships (or lack thereof), and it finally struck me: How many times have I chosen to be right instead of happy? How many times have I been drawn to men who were unavailable for whatever reason, only to say that I had done everything right but I hadn't found the right person?

Definitely something to think about. Particularly since there is a really CUTE new neighbor that just moved in next door. Tall, dark, handsome, athletic, with dimples.....

Not too sure about the status right now. He had a very quiet blonde with him when I met him Saturday. I tried to say hello to her and introduce myself, but she wouldn't even look at me. He works midnights, so I'm not likely to seek him that often, but I will keep my eyes open for the blonde. If I find out anything more, I will let you know!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Today's Inbox: Something to Think About

I got this in my email today. And I think I have it bad....

Forgotten in the Shadows 7/24/2007
By Caitlin DeMarco

Save Darfur” a sign reads. “Genocide in the Sudan” reads another. The world today is justly outraged at the atrocities taking place in that area of Africa. Campaigns raise money to help stop the fighting in the Darfur area of Sudan. Actors and musicians give their time and celebrity to bring awareness of the conflict to the world. The Sudan campaigns are admirable, and the world hopes and prays that peace will come to Sudan.

Unfortunately, in the shadow of the Darfur genocide lies a tragedy that remains mostly unnoticed by the rest of the world. In northern Uganda and southern Sudan, around 66,000 children, primarily of the Acholi tribe, have been abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) since its creation by Joseph Kony, a pseudo-Christian spiritualist, in 1987. These children are violently taken from their homes, and at least 14 percent are forced to attack family or friends in order to separate them from society, to keep them captive in mental and physical slavery. They are then beaten and brainwashed into becoming killers and kidnappers, or forced to serve their captors as slaves and pack animals. Boys become soldiers and porters. Girls are soldiers as well, but often also become sex slaves or “marry” the LRA’s commanders. According to the Survey of War Affected Youth, though only about 15 percent of abductees are forced to kill in battle, 20 percent are forced to kill a stranger, and 58 percent are forced to steal or destroy property. Around 63 percent of abductees receive severe beatings and 78 percent witness a killing.

Fearing the LRA’s attacks, the government of Uganda placed over 1.6 million people in camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). These people were forced to flee their homes, their farms and businesses, in order to protect themselves and their children from the attacks of the LRA. Unfortunately, they are not always protected, even in the camps. In February 2004, the LRA killed at least 337 people in the Barlonyo camp in the Lira district, and there have been a number of other attacks on different camps where people have been killed, maimed, and kidnapped. The LRA is also not the only danger to the IDP camps. Women and girls are vulnerable to sexual assault and rape by men in the camp, and even by the soldiers of the Uganda People’s Defense Force, men assigned by the government to protect them. Often, to save themselves from attacks by the LRA, children will walk to larger towns to stay the night in shelters run by churches and other organizations. These “night commuters” remain vulnerable to attack and sexual assault, and yet they have almost no other choice if they want to stay safe. They commute to save their lives and their futures, to live with hope when the world does not seem to care and their future seems bleak.

According to a 2005 survey by Alertnet, the violence in Uganda is the “second most under-publicized emergency of [the] present day.” Still, there are people who do hear the cries from Uganda and work to bring peace and safety to the area. Recently the Ugandan government and leaders in the LRA began peace talks in the city of Juba, mediated by the Vice-President of southern Sudan, which has led to the return home of several thousand IDPs. The process is slow, though, and it remains to be seen if any future settlement will be able to be implemented, or if the talks will even do any good. Despite the talks, Ugandans still live in fear, and children remain in the LRA, beaten and terrorized.

While the government looks for a solution to the military problems of Uganda, others look to help the Ugandan people and the children affected by the violence. The Ugandan population is about 84 percent Christian, and the churches of Uganda actively work with Christian relief organizations to aid whomever they can reach with limited resources. Pastor Sam Childers is one of these good people with a heart for these children. Instead of waiting for child soldiers to be rescued by the government, he has gone out and rescued over 500 Ugandan and Sudanese children from the LRA himself. He then returns the children to their parents, and protects the orphans in Children’s Village, an orphanage that is protected by chain-link fences and armed guards. Other groups try and help former child soldier reintegrate into society, a hard task for children who have grown up killing and surrounded by death. Groups have been organized to help the IDPs and the night commuters, giving them aid in their time of need.

As Isaiah 59:15-16 says, “Then the Lord saw it and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained him.” Not only has God helped children escape, sometimes miraculously from the LRA, His hand reaches through these relief organization and churches to save His children from slavery and fear. Just as God cares for the people of Uganda, so His church around the world should reach out their hands in comfort and help. In the wake of all the terrible violence and suffering in the world, we cannot let the people of Uganda remain forgotten in the shadows.

Caitlin DeMarco is an intern in the Ronald Reagan Memorial Internship Program at Concerned Women for America. She is assigned to the Beverly LaHaye Institute.

McDonnell, Faith J.H. and Grace Akallo. “Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children.”

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Welcome to the Fish's Belly

I had lunch today with my mom, my secretary and another woman I work with, and something came up in the discussion that I can't get out of my head.

My one friend from work asked about my sister, who is in the Army and close to retirement. My friend asked if my sister was still talking about retiring to wherever she was talking about last year. My mom mentioned that there has a new development, i.e., that my sister's department may relocate and my sister may end up with a civilian job with the same department.

I said that she should make it a part of her contract that this one co-worker of hers (let's call him Hateful Harold) can't work within 500 miles of her, since this co-worker doesn't do his job and he refuses to control his diabetes so that he ends up in the hospital and doesn't have to work. My mom and I have also speculated that the reason he is still a thorn in her side because she is supposed to witness to him, but that's our theory. I had the same question about why this one co-worker of mine is working with me again - same topic, slightly different facts.

After we left lunch, I got to thinking - how do people who aren't Christians take comments like that? I know I am guilty of assuming that most people have at least one person in their lives that they wish wasn't, but they can't figure out why that person is still around. I also assume that my friends, whether they are Christians or not, at least have enough understanding about the Bible and Christianity to know that there is some mandate to tell others about their faith.

It just didn't hit me until today that if someone is not a Christian, it might not be funny to them that we were joking, really, about someone who was a pain in the neck being in her life so that he could hear the gospel, not to mention the implication that my sister didn't want to witness to him. It wasn't so much that witnessing to someone is a chore or an obligation, but that this person (and more particularly, in this case, with an illness) would be disliked enough to want him out of my sister's workplace.

It made me wonder: do the little inside jokes or expressions Christians use when they are together sound the same to anyone not in the group? Is modern Christianity little more than a clique? And how do "outsiders" take such comments if they overhear them? Does it sound self-righteous and smug, or do people get that Christians are as susceptible as anyone to make
"insider" jokes or comments that others might not understand? Are non-Christians offended by the idea that the reason a Hateful Harold might keep cropping up in someone's life could be that Hateful Harold needs to hear the gospel?

Foundationally, I think everyone needs to hear the gospel; I recognize that there is a time and a place for such discussions, and I also know that talking to someone about their soul is a tricky thing. We should always be praying for opportunities to share our faith, and the idea of talking to someone about becoming a Christian should be one of joy, not dread.

As I said, it just ... hit me that someone who isn't a Christian might not find this theory as humorous as I do, and I thought I would ask you guys what you think. I thought of Jonah when I started writing this, hence the title of this post. Let me know.....

Catching Up

Just another traumatic Thursday!

Mom's visit is really going well. We got through the initial phase smoothly. It helped that she left Monday morning to go someplace overnight with my aunt, and by the time she got back, we were able to have the Clearing of the Air Talk, which wasn't as hard as I thought it might be. So far, she's planning to stay til Sunday - :). I'm trying to talk her into staying for church, but she said she thinks it might be easier to get through construction on the way home if she goes on a weekend day, which is probably the case.

My dog is LOVING the extra attention!! He's just thrilled that his Nana is there all day to take him outside for little walks and love on him. We went to the local park (not a dog park - just a regular park) last evening, and he lunged after the geese and the ducks the whole way around the park.

What was kind of fun was that my mom loved the park, too. She didn't do much walking. We got someplace where there were picnic tables, and she sat there and watched people while Tanner and I walked, and when we got back, she suggested that we plan to go back again tonight and grill dinner.

Hopefully, it won't rain, 'cuz if it rains, we aren't going to grill outdoors......

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Slow Day Update

I wrote a bit previously about things to do to develop new friendships, and the last item on the list was "Hang out on your porch." Totally unintentionally, I ended up doing just that in the last week - not once, not twice, but three times.

All three times, I talked to a neighbor or two, and it was not "about" anything specific. We just had a really nice chat.

I could get used to that.

8 Random Things About Me

Kranki has a meme today and she invited people to "tag" themselves, so I thought I would publish my list of 8 Random Things About Me you might not know (for anyone who is interested):

1. I could read by the time I was three years old and could spell "elephant" at age 18 months. Apparently, to my family, this made me a prodigy... :) Now, at 43 - and a half! - I still read whenever I can, but I'm not much smarter, although I can still spell "elephant."

2. I hate to fold laundry - my mom is visiting for the week, and she was last here in June of 2006. During her visit last year, she helped fold laundry that was on the table in the basement, thinking I would put them away. I never put the clothes away - the clothes on the table are pretty much the same ones that were there last year.....

3. I hate to clean bathrooms and kitchens. Thank goodness for Tilex, Scrubbing Bubbles, Easy Off Bam, and various other spray-it-and-leave-it cleaning products, or I would have a farm of microscopic organisms in my house. I made a pot roast in my crock pot in February. I finally threw it out Thursday (since Friday was trash day), and I hadn't eaten any of it.

4. I will do almost anything to avoid going to bed. Still.

5. My dream vacation is to just get two weeks off and still get paid, without having to make the time up during the rest of the year. I don't have to go anywhere.

6. My dream job is to write, even though I have no idea what I would write about. I would prefer nonfiction over fiction.

7. I have never worn braces, and it is the one thing I regret not doing the second I got a job.

8. I actually contribute to my 401K at work. Who'd a thunk?

OK. Your turn! :)

Monday, July 23, 2007

What Are You Wearing Under There?

“Well, these thighs haven't gone out of the house without Lycra on them since I was 14.”
“You were brought up right.”
[Steel Magnolias, conversation between Truvy and Clairee].

Stockings, Tights, and Hose. Oh my. Watching British sitcoms is probably one of my less heinous vices, since it seems to prod me to look at the differences between British and American words for the same items. Today it was "tights" versus "stockings" versus "hose" - whatever you call them, they have a certain ... reputation.

A group of us were talking about our office's dress code relaxing to allow "no stockings" on casual Fridays during the summer, and I mentioned that I couldn't get used to the no-hose look because I always wore pantyhose, even under slacks. (At which one of the women in the group muttered something about that being too hot and too expensive, and we all changed the subject).

"Well-dressed" has different implications, depending on where you live and what resources are available to you. My grandmother would not go out of the house – even to the grocery store – unless she was wearing a clean dress or skirt and blouse and “stockings.” Grandma didn’t like “pantyhose.” She also never wore “tights” – at least, not as a grown-up. She was of the old school, where ladies wore girdles with garter straps and a single stocking attached to each side.

On one hand, that seems a pretty economical idea: if you get a run, you don't have to throw out the whole pair, because chances are, you have another singleton in the drawer. On the other hand, those things were not what you'd call.....comfortable.

My mother also used to wear the girdle/garter straps/hose combo, untill Leggs came out with the pantyhose-in-the-plastic-egg. She was a nurse back in the 60s and 70s, and early in her career, she wore the white dress with the starched cap, and white hose with white “nurses’ shoes.” [Each style cap meant a different school or hospital – I could never keep straight how they knew which was which.]

As a result of the elaborate (and particularly uncomfortable) uniform, getting dressed was a ritual. I remember thinking that the “getting dressed” process was very important and somewhat glamorous - although my mother stopped wearing makeup at some point, and the jumping and pulling to get the very tight and constricting girdle on was kind of like the animal dance sequence from Fantasia.

The thing was, there was a certain pride and self-respect about the process that got lost as my generation got older. I don’t know whether it was that standards in general relaxed to the point where just the fact that you left the house with undergarments on was a major accomplishment, or if it was just that getting older meant having the ability to just say "no" to anything uncomfortable or constricting.

I still think that leaving the house with undergarments on is a major accomplishment. Making sure they don't show under your clothes still seems beyond the reach of some..... But, the death and burial of the girdle/garter straps/hose combo was a major fashion accomplishment in some ways. I wonder if there will ever come a time when women can get their legs waxed, fake-tanned, and firmed/smoothed for less than the average annual pantyhose allowance?


Oh. By the way. This is all because I did not feel like working on a brief. That is due today.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Today's Word of the Day: Whinging

Main Entry: whinge
Pronunciation: 'hwinj, 'winj
Function: intransitive verb
Inflected Form(s): whinged; whing·ing or whinge·ing
British : to complain fretfully : WHINE - whinge noun, British

I love to watch the BBC America airings on PBS in Detroit, and one of my favorites is "As Time Goes By," starring Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer. The episode that was on Thursday night was about a trip to Los Angeles for a meeting about rights for Lionel's book (Lionel is Geoffrey Palmer's character). Jean made a comment apologizing for "whinging" about something, and it was cool because although I've seen it in print elsewhere, I hadn't heard it pronounced, let alone used.

Anyway, that's why "whinging" is today's word of the day! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Just a Quote

I found this today while looking for stuff on Ethel Barrett:

"We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do." - Ethel Barrett.

Ethel Barrett did some recordings of children's stories, most of which were Bible stories, and I can remember sitting in front of my grandparents' stereo listening to her tell these wonderful stories about baby Joash and Gregory the Grub. This is sort of what the stereo looked like:

Although it isn't the exact same stereo, it's close. You could lay on the floor right in front of it, and just listen to the records (we stacked as many as my grandma would let us up to the stereo's maximum).

That was fun.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

New Day Update

Well, here's the denouement. They both read the email, and they've talked, and my dad called and said, "you're right." Not entirely unexpected, because I was right, but that's not really the point.

He then says, "I've got somebody here who wants to talk to you," and hands the phone to my mom. Her first words are, "I understand - I understand that I'm just not going to be able to talk about my feelings."

AAAAAAUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHH! [head explodes]. We are now entering the "poor me" phase of the next who-knows-how-long.

Anyway, she's coming up to see my aunt on the 23rd, which is a week from yesterday. At first she said that she was going to go up there, pick my aunt up, take her to look at this place where the cousins' reunion is going to be in September, take her home, drop her off and then go home, "since I don't want to interfere in your life...." [head explodes again].

Either she doesn't get that her talking about how she feels is fine as long as she respects certain boundaries about it, or her life with my dad is so miserable that the only feelings she has about her life are that my dad is making her miserable - which I don't entirely believe, BTW. My dad can be a selfish brat, but he's not intractible.

So, we'll see. I know that part of the reason she's really pissed off at me is because she didn't want to admit some of what she said about the choices she made, and I don't think she wanted my dad to know any of it, either. See, my parents had what used to be called a "shotgun" wedding back in '63 (although, technically, there was no shotgun, and my grandfather and my uncle would have just as rather my parents didn't get married, but that's another story for another day).

There were issues there that pre-dated her and my dad's courtship that my mom has just sat on for 44+ years, and she won't let go of any of it, since it seems much more useful to hold it over his head for the rest of their married lives. As I sit here now, I don't know whether my mom is mad that my dad knows things she hadn't planned to tell him, or if she's sort of glad that it's out in the open because she wanted him to know but didn't want to actually come right out and take responsibility for it. Or both.

Damn! Raising parents is hard......

Slow Day (also known as Procrastination Syndrome)

From Yahoo! Here are some ways you can develop new friendships:

Get out with your pet. Seek out a popular dog park, make conversation with those who stop to talk on your daily neighborhood jaunts, or make pet play dates.

Work out. Join a class through a local gym, senior center or community fitness facility. Or start a lunchtime walking group at work.

Do lunch. Invite an acquaintance to join you for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Accept invites. When someone invites you to a party, dinner or social gathering, say yes. Resist the urge to say no just because you may not know everyone there or you may initially feel awkward. You can always leave if you get too uncomfortable.

Volunteer. Hospitals, places of worship, museums, community centers and other organizations often need volunteers. You can form strong connections when you work with people who share a mutual interest.

Join a cause. Get together with a group of people working toward a goal you believe in, such as an election or the cleanup of a natural area.

Join a hobby group. Find a nearby group with similar interests in such things as auto racing, music, gardening, books or crafts.

Go back to school. Take a college or community education course to meet people with similar interests.

Hang out on your porch. Front porches used to be social centers for the neighborhood. If you don't have a front porch, you can still sit out front with a cup of coffee or a good book. Making yourself visible shows that you are friendly and open.

Uh Oh....

Written by Jack Kelly
Friday, 13 July 2007

This Monday (7/16), the United Nations Security Council is scheduled to take up a report from Secretary General Ban Ki Moon which recommends the UN act to reduce the flow of arms from Syria to Hezbollah.

That same day or next, the Security Council also is expected to receive a report from its International Investigation Commission about the 2005 murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which most Lebanese believe was orchestrated by Syria.

How will Syria respond? Here's a clue:

The Iranian news agency IRNA and several Arab newspapers have reported Syria has ordered all Syrian nationals residing in Lebanon to leave the country before Monday.

The al-Watan newspaper in Qatar reported last month that Syria has removed government archives from the Damascus area, a move al-Watan said indicates preparation for war.

Syrian troops have moved three kilometers (1.8 miles) into Lebanon and are digging trenches and building bunkers, the Lebanese daily al-Mustaqbal reported last week.

"There's not much doubt who is behind the military buildup, not to mention the growing violence in Lebanon itself," the Washington Post said of Syria in an editorial July 5.
"Syrian critics in Lebanon say they see their neighbor's hand in an ongoing militant

Islamist uprising in the north, and a deadly bomb attack against UN soldiers in the south," wrote Andrew Butters this week (7/11) in Time magazine's Middle East blog. "The idea is that Syria is going to do whatever it can to prevent the international noose from tightening around its neck."

Syria and its proxy, Hezbollah, are plotting a coup, al-Mustaqbal said. Hezbollah plans to form a "second government" that would include south Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley, both Hezbollah strongholds.

Hezbollah is Shia, as are about 38 percent of Lebanon's people. Slightly more are Christians. The remainder are chiefly Sunni Muslims, or Druze, an offshoot of Shia Islam. The government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora (a Sunni) has a narrow majority in the Lebanese parliament, a majority that's been thinned by the assassination, allegedly by Syrian agents, of three members of parliament who supported Mr. Siniora.

The coup attempt -- which Lebanese newspapers predict will take place this month -- could spark another civil war. And that war may not be confined to Lebanon.

"Well informed sources in Washington fear a confrontation between Israel and Syria may happen this summer," wrote Claude Salhani, UPI's international editor, last Monday (7/09).

If Israel doesn't vacate the Golan Heights (captured from Syria in the 1967 war) by September, Syrian guerrillas will launch "resistance operations," a top official in Syria's ruling party told the New York Sun.

The Israeli Defense Forces are preparing for a simultaneous conflict this summer against Syria, Iran, and the terror groups Hezbollah, Hamas and al Qaeda, IDF sources have told Israeli newspapers. The conflict would be "at least 10 times worse" than last summer's clash between Israel and Hezbollah, an IDF source told the Jerusalem Post this week.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered to hold "unconditional" peace talks with Syria, but Syrian dictator Bashar Assad rejected his overture, Israeli army radio reported Tuesday (7/10).

"Bashar Assad apparently has other plans than making peace with Israel," Israeli public security minister Avi Dichter said.

Syria wishes to reassert control over Lebanon, which it occupied from 1976 until 2005, and to head off UN-imposed economic sanctions. But in the past Iran, the senior partner in their axis of evil, has imposed restraints on Syrian ambitions. Rising confidence and rising fear are changing the calculus in Tehran.

Poor Israeli performance in the war with Hezbollah last summer has inspired confidence the Jewish state can be beaten militarily.

Fear in Tehran that its nuclear weapons program could trigger economic sanctions from the UN or an air strike from the U.S. makes the mullahs there more inclined to roll the dice.

Unrest at home over a terrible economy also makes the mullahs eager to deflect the anger of Iranians away from themselves.

Iraqi security forces seized 200 explosive suicide belts in a truck that crossed from Syria into Iraq, an Interior Ministry spokesman said Wednesday (7/11).

Syria and Iran have abetted much of the violence in Iraq, a fact which those who insist what's happening there is a civil war resolutely ignore. But Syria and Iran soon may make it harder to deny that Iraq is but one front in a worldwide conflict.

New Day

Well, one thing at a time, I guess. I wrote a long email to the parental units about everything. I haven’t heard from them, so I guess they either got it and read it and have disowned me, or they’re talking about it. We'll see.....

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cleaning House

Just as the cleaning of a home brings a sense of order and peace to the resident, so cleaning the inside of my head brings a sense of order and peace to, well, me.

I am inherently mistrustful of things that happen too quickly. If it's fast, it's probably not done well or thoroughly, and it's probably going to need fixing again. However, when a train goes off the tracks, putting it back immediately is usually a successful endeavor.

Last week, I went off the tracks. So totally off the tracks that I blocked out certain things I had agreed to do. I even forgot an appointment I apparently agreed to last week that I was supposed to go to my aunt's and uncle's yesterday. My aunt called me last night asking if I was coming - I hadn't even remembered agreeing to go.

I told her I was very sorry - that I hadn't written it down, and so when I was looking at my calendar yesterday and Saturday, I didn't realize I was supposed to be there. I told her that I would bring dinner next time since I was the one that had totally messed up.

On one hand, I think she was ticked because she'd gone to a lot of trouble to fix a nice dinner both weeks (I didn't go last week either because I had just gotten back, and I didn't realize that she expected me the day I returned from a 12-hour drive - she did).

On the other hand, I think she was a little relieved that even 40-something year olds forget things like that. Plus, she was going to call my mom anyway to confirm when my mom is coming for her visit, so that was probably just as well.

And on that, I have started working on what happened the last time I was at my parents' house, and as far as the boundary problem, I decided that one healthy boundary I can set is to tell my mom that I am not going to listen to her complain about being married to Dad. I love them both, and while I recognize they both have imperfections, I will not listen to either one of them criticize or tear down the other one. Either deal with it between the two of them, or seek outside assistance from a qualified and trusted person, but do not dump that crap on me. There. That’s one.

The other things I decided I could do were 1) get a quiet time diary from the bible institute I attended back in 1983 (which I ordered today); and, 2) get involved in something specific at the church that I can commit to doing for at least a year, other than the choir.

The church I belong to has a library of its own, and I've always loved libraries. They were places of refuge and places from which to explore the world without leaving the comfort of my own place.

The lady who has been in charge of the church library for what is apparently a very long time needs help, especially since the last donation Sunday yielded a contribution for a computer system for the library. She can only see out of one eye, and she can't do the computer work for long without a break, so I volunteered to help her - not just with the computer stuff but with the library as well.

I learned how the card system works, and I learned that I can help with the cross-referencing and indexing of subject matter when they get the computer, which will help people who want to research a particular subject but don't know what is out there on what they want.

Since that's how my brain works, I thought that would be a good idea. At least for a year or so - I don't want to just jump in and out of things, but I also want to try different things and see where my talents are best used. The church also has a website, and I'd like to do something there, too, but I need to go slowly. There is nothing like agreeing to do too much too quickly to get a really bad case of burnout.......

Saturday, July 14, 2007

If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother

Yeah, about that....

My mother is coming to stay with me for a few days some time toward the end of July. She isn't coming to see me, exactly, especially since I just spent 4 days at the parental units' house around the 4th. She wants to come up for a visit herself and see my aunt (her sister) and then the two of them are going to visit the place where my aunt has scheduled the cousins' reunion for the cousins on their side of the family.

So, she's going to stay with me when she comes up here, and hopefully we'll get to spend some time together. There are things to be said, and I'm going to have to think through what I want to say to her before she gets here, while at the same time, being prepared for things to be totally off-kilter. Or, for her to decide she can't come after all. Or who knows what.

OK, Where Was I?

Sorry for the recent crisis. I kind of imploded a bit with all of the stress, and considering the amount of stress that had piled up, deleting my blog was probably the best self-destructive choice on the menu if such a choice had to be made at all. Which it did.

I've had a few deep breaths, I've had chocolate, and while Blogger must have heard of the impending break-up, it's decided to forgive me a little. I have been able to recover 1/4 to 1/2 of my blog posts (although in no particular order), and I will try to put things back to normal as soon as I can.

While I'm on that subject, I know some people have moved from Blogger to other host services (why does that sound so parasitic?). Those of you who have moved from Blogger to another service, what do you think of your new host?

Monday, July 2, 2007

A Word or Two Before I Go....

Yep. I'm bugging out of here tomorrow at 5:00-ish - heading south for a long weekend with the fam.... CAN'T WAIT!

Just wanted to let those of you know who have held my hand (figuratively speaking) through the agony of refinancing hell, I decided not to go through with it.

Turns out, with the adjustment, the new payment amount versus the one I would get if I refinance, are only $7.00/month different. Yes, that's right: $7.00 a month. On top of that, the total mortgage amount would be $2,000 or so higher because of the refinance costs that would be rolled in.

So here's the real deal: not only would I not get a significant break on my monthly payment by refinancing, but I also would end up owing more over the life of the loan with a higher rate adjustment cap than I currently have, AND I would have to pay longer.

They wanted to do this as a 40-year overall mortgage, with 5 years until the next adjustment and a 3-year prepayment penalty period. I have just completed the 2-year prepayment penalty period on the loans I took out to buy this place in the first place. My adjusted interest rate for the first 6-month adjustment period is actually less than the new rate would be if I refinanced.

Granted, there are some unknowns. I do not know, for example, how much the rate will increase in February of 2008. I also do not know how much property values are going to fluctuate over the next several months to a year or two, if the overall payment gets to be too much.

But, I know that with the current loan documents, I am at least safer for the next six months than I would have been had I refinanced. The rate adjustment cap in the new package is 2.00% greater than the rate adjustment cap in the existing package, which I wouldn't have known had I not seen the loan documents - which they refused to send me until the day before the scheduled closing!!

I don't know what to tell people who don't already have mortgages, but with so many lenders selling their real estate mortgage portfolios to secondary market investment buyers, I can only say, read everything twice, ask questions, and don't sign anything until you do!! You can always say "no." If you're buying instead of refinancing, it might cost you some money in the short run, but it's better to lose a little up front than to lose a lot over the long haul.

Have a very safe and happy Independence day!! :)