Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I'm sharp this morning so it'll be a long post but good

12/18/06 Monday
It’s 9:00 this morning. I’ve been up and moving for about an hour now. Didn’t get much sleep last night. We fixed a big pot of beans yesterday and they are great so I had two big bowls. Beans are one of the most economical foods around but caused some serious gastric disturbances. I guess beans are high in fiber so it was like eating several bowls of bran cereal. I was up and down to the bathroom at all hours of the night. On top of that is one of the well known results of eating beans. If I could strap a trumpet to my ass I could have played the Dixie land blues. Yeah I know, too much information.

I am only running at about a five on the Bob scale this morning. My average level of cognizance is a seven so this is a bit lower but I can still get things done just have to push through and work hard to stay on task. Cherie will help me with that.

I want to mention about our electricity prices here in Texas.

12/19/06 Tuesday
That’s as far as I got with yesterday’s journal. I am sharp this morning and the way my fingers are dancing easily on this keyboard tells me I am running at a nine on the Bob scale so this will probably be a decent and long entry.

Let me finish the thought I started at the end of yesterday’s entry. In Toledo electricity cost us $8.56 per kilowatt hour after you added up all the different fees. (I couldn’t do the math yesterday) We used 754 hours in June. Here in Stanton it costs $7.16 per kilowatt hour which is significantly less. In the house here on the farm we only used 202 hours which was much lower than we had feared with using the space heaters to keep warm. Of course having lots of warm days helped that quite a bit. Now the well, which is on a separate meter, only used 125 hours of electricity. That also was much less than we had expected. The old bills my grandmother had were significantly higher, probably due to having an undersized pump pushing sandy water through pipes that were too small. Needless to say we were bracing for a big electric bill we wouldn’t be able to pay and it was only $49.50. Big help.

Now I am going to do something I’ve been debating internally for a few days now. That is to be honest about our money situation. Part of the reason I didn’t was to not give Cherie’s family something to worry about. The other was my pride and the desire to put on a front that we are doing great. Actually we are, at least as far as our attitude and optimism. Yeah things are tough but so are we. Both of us have experienced tough times. When Cherie lived in Phoenix before we got back together she went through a period where she would eat rice for breakfast with some sugar and butter on it and rice for many of her other meals so she could put gas in her tank to get to work. After she filed her bankruptcy she lost the car and had to take a bus to work.

Now I’ve been to hell and back so there is little that daunts me. Now back to the inner debate I had. Part of the decisions I made when I re-evaluated life after waking from a coma and discovering I had been declared dead at the scene of my accident is to be completely open and honest. This has actually cause some problems as many I’ve met don’t understand and misinterpret such honesty. They are so used to people having ulterior motives that they presume I am not being straight with them. That and the problems I had comprehending and relaying my thoughts due to the brain injury was the basis of the gossip going around the leadership at the Cedar Creek church. This resulted in them writing a letter asking us to go somewhere else. You can go back to around March 2005 in this journal to read about this sad time that caused so much pain and disillusionment for us.

OK, enough said. Here is how things are and have been. I’m going into detail because of my expectations of judgmental attitudes. I fear that some will think we blew all the money and are bums. I know that Billie Pinkerton, who did Minnie Lee’s taxes, asked “What about all that money you got?”.

When Lee died and we first heard about the size of the estate we had the impression that after all was said and done we would have about thirty five thousand dollars to use for fixing up the house and getting the farm started. One offer for the land changed all of that. It doubled or tripled the assessed value of the land and with my brother’s greed and haste to cash out, things ended up on a drastically different note.

Larry tried to push me into just signing off on buying his half of the land out of my cash portion of the estate without me even knowing how much that was or how much he would get. I tried to get some figures from Jim McGilvray, the lawyer handling the estate, and Virginia who is the executor of the estate with no luck at all. Everyone seemed to be shuffling around these things, leaving us in the dark about what was where. Hell I had a hard time getting a copy of the will, having to request it several times. Didn’t get it till after it was filed and it came from the courthouse, not the attorney and executor though they did send it a few days later. Larry started getting real nasty about me just not agreeing to whatever he said. Our phone conversations were shouting matches. Much of this is recorded in this journal. I sent him E mails because he wouldn’t communicate with me at all so he finally called. This is when I was in the middle of moving Sharon out of the apartment complex she had been beaten up in. “You want to F—in talk, F—in talk now” were the first words out of his mouth. I hung up on him after telling him to call when he wasn’t drunk or could talk civilly. Finally we got a lawyer. This cost us over $2000 but was what we needed and in hindsight was a good idea. Till then I felt like I was being treated as a second citizen with others assuming that my brain damage made me stupid. I wouldn’t make decision till I understood what I was doing and they made little effort to help me understand. Our lawyer, Patrick Duffy, helped clear things up greatly so we both could comprehend what was going on. It was simple enough and would have been much better if others would have just taken the time to talk.

I gotta take a break for the moment. Cherie just finished heating up some water so I can wash my hair. That’s never fun when it’s cold. I only wash it now maybe twice a week to conserve water. We go through about ten gallons of bottled water every three or four days. In case I didn’t mention it we did get rid of the E coli in our well so it is safe to use but the water is so hard soap won’t lather up and it actually stains cloth. That’s why we use the bottled stuff for cooking, washing, and anything else having to do with our bodies. For washing our hair we just lean over the tub and pour water on our heads from a pitcher.

What we ended up with was somewhere close to twenty thousand. Cherie’s got the exact figures but this is pretty close. So where did it go? I bought a pickup truck because we would need it to pull the trailer down to Texas. That was $4,000 but the book value was listed at close to $8,000. I always good at getting deals on that kind of stuff. I paid $600 for the 1969 livestock trailer but had to put another $2,000 to get it fixed up. That was a total rebuild where I took it down to the frame, had Nate weld new steel to reinforce where the rust had eaten it up. I had to put in a whole new floor, new electric brakes, and sides to make it weather proof and protect our furniture, and all kinds of other stuff like new sheetmetal for the roof and sides. Knowing I will be rebuilding much of the house I started stocking up on the tools I would need. Many of them were necessary to fix the trailer. Understand that just four years prior to this I was homeless and carried everything I owned in a garbage bag so I didn’t even have a screwdriver. Cherie thinks I spent maybe three grand on tools though I don’t think it was that much.

Thinking we would be able to completely reequip the house we joined Direct Buy, a buyers club that offers just about everything you need for a home at what retailers pay. That means that a washer that cost a grand would only cost us five hundred dollars. That membership costs four thousand dollars which we make payments on after a hefty down payment. It would have been a wise decision had things gone the way we expected. Now we can’t afford a new set of cookware. Maybe we’ll be able to make use of this later, I hope so. Seemed like a good idea at the time but once the contract is signed that’s it. Hey, I didn’t say we didn’t make mistakes.

I did buy Cherie a new laptop computer. That ran $1200. We already had printers and I had gotten my laptop, office furniture, printers and stuff when I got the first check from my veterans disability pension. That had been a large one as it covered the year I waited for approval so those items so my stuff didn’t come out of this inheritance. There were other incidental things we bought though I can’t remember them at the moment. I know we paid off Cherie’s car so all our vehicles are paid for with no payments owed. We took Cherie’s family out for a nice going away dinner. That cost a couple hundred bucks which we don’t regret at all.

We also helped out some of the people we had been ministering too. Some were in dire financial straits and others such as Wayne needed some basic things such as clothes and furniture. I paid to have three computers that had been donated cleaned and fixed up and gave them to Wayne, Sharon, and Denise. That only cost a couple hundred bucks.

With that explained I’ll get to coming to Texas. We came here in July to clean and assess the farm house. What a mess. That is well covered in the blog if you care to go look just click on July at the archive menu. That trip cost us well over $3,000 between hotels, gas, dumpsters, and hiring some help for the physical work I was unable to do.

Next is our final move here. The drive down cost $1200. That includes the outrageous price of gas, hotels, and the cost of repairing both vehicles when they broke down on the road. Getting here we had to spend several days in a hotel till we could get electricity turned on. That of course required a deposit though it wasn’t too much. The well had been struck by lightning so there was no water. After talking with a few people in town we went to a well guy who had been highly recommended. He was flabbergasted when he saw the well saying he’d not seen anything like it before. Pulling up the pump he found it to be fried in addition to being an old used one despite the invoice we found for a new one that was supposed to be installed in 2004. There was no casing on the well which made it illegal for residential use. When all was said and done it cost about $3,000 to get it fixed.

Other expenses included another deposit on phone service, getting dumpster service (Which we are canceling at the end of December) and $175 for one hundred gallons of propane which leaked out in two weeks. We had to purchase things like a nice toaster oven, electric burner for heating water and cooking, ironing board, and other things for daily living. Oh yeah, space heaters so we didn’t freeze. We had to get cell phones and a special PC card for our laptops. This enables us to go online, which we view as a necessary thing. This cost a couple hundred bucks and will be a major monthly expense.

We spent a few hundred dollars on flooring tile and carpet as well as other things to make parts of this house livable. Of course there are things like food, gas, and laundry at the laundrymat. All said and done we currently have eleven dollars in the savings account we have in Toledo and nine dollars in our Stanton bank account. That will have to last us till I get my monthly check January first. All the inheritance money is long gone now for those of you who were asking or wondering about it. I hope this explains things for you.

Now back to yesterday and this morning. I made this towel rack yesterday for our bathroom out of some of the old lumber that I scavenged from around here. By the way, just to assure our family back in Toledo, Cherie and I are doing fine and not worried about things. We now have a good handle on what our monthly budget will be. There are a few bills from Toledo that we must pay but overall things are covered. Next month won’t be nearly as tight. Fixing the house will be a slow ongoing process as funds become available. The kitchen and office are done and the bedroom will be fine. Cherie has done a good job stocking up on food, finding great deals as she can so ably do. Milk, bread, and eggs are the main consumables we will need to get till my check comes so that’s covered with what we have left. The gift of food from Steve at the church was a powerful boost for us. Our life is an ongoing miracle and every need has been met as it comes. We are blessed so don’t worry guys. For you Christians out there, which includes you, mom and dad, I’ll quote out of the gospel of Luke, chapter 12. In verse 22 Jesus says “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about your body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?”. I may have my doubts that I struggle with but this speaks well and I hope it brings some peace of mind to our family in Toledo.

2:29 – We just got back from picking up our mail and getting an application for a custodian at the church. That might work out well as it is only about 25 hours a week and may be flexible as far as the hours worked. There was a woman who had the job before so it’s something Cherie could handle. I can help her out when I am up to it. Right now I have a killer headache on the way up. Took aspirin as the other stuff doesn’t help at all. Am running allot slower than this morning. Down to a six on the Bob scale. Tired to so I am laying down as I write this.

I want to make a note about my conversation with Virginia. I asked her when the estate will be settled after saying that it has been a year since Lee died. She said that Billie Pinkerton had to do the taxes. That has me puzzled. Billie Pinkerton has done Lee’s income taxes for years and I didn’t think you paid those when you were dead. When I told this to Virginia she said you did and she must wait for Billie to get them done. I’ll have to ask Billie about that. Still confused about it.

I think I need to take a nap now. Maybe it’ll help the headache.

No it didn’t. The headache is still there though I think the aspirin I took helped. It’s still strange to me that I need to take a nap halfway through the day but I find it’s not unusual with TBI’s. The doctors told me I should do it and the research I did on the internet also talked about it. They said it was more mental fatigue than physical. Whatever, I know it is a big help and refreshes me. Makes me feel like I’m eighty or something.

Cherie fixed a fantastic dinner with the pork steaks she had found such a deal on a couple of weeks ago. That and some kind of little red potato called a creamer potato. Never heard of it but with the homemade sauce Cherie made they were great.

Good night all. Be blessed

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