Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"I am SHE-RA!" ~ She-Ra

This morning I discovered that Netflix Streaming has both He-Man and She-Ra.  My morning was officially shot.  If Netflix ever gets the rights to Lady Lovely Locks I have a feeling that I will never get anything done.    My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is bad enough.  

Not really, but I did spend the morning watching She-Ra: The Princess of Power while penning this post long hand and am currently listening to the 6th while typing this out.  I forgot how completely wussy Prince Adam sounds or how breathy-young-girl all the female characters are.   Not sure whether to ask them if they need a drink of water or voice training.  

Still, it's a cute show despite not aging well.  Childhood nostalgia ftw.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Never Trust a Jeep

For the past few years SSG and I have been dealing with ongoing motor vehicular failures.  Not lemons- just older cars that while once good were failing more and more as they crept ever closer to the 20 year mark.   As we live in what is generously defined as a "small town" of 6.8k (2010 pop. census) and generally commute to opposite points in the state, two cars have been a necessity.  

Fortunately, we are typically able to borrow my uncle's Jeep for the times when we are down to a single car.      Not so fortunately, my uncle's Jeep has become unreliable of late.   She's always been quirky.  She handles nicely and if the radio works only when she's "in a good mood", well that's what my droid is for.  The heater works great, even if the fan doesn't, but it's in general a good solid Jeep.    That is until she decided to start playing tricks.

Start up, get to driving and all of a sudden you're stopped at a stop sign and she'll completely shut down.  Battery dead, no charge.   That happened twice.   Then she wouldn't start up one morning, on a day when SSG was at Drill for the weekend and Not Home.  Of course.   Two days later, I have to do laundry, so haul the loads into the Jeep, go down to the laundrymat and do the laundry.   It's cold and boring watching the washer machines turn, so I climbed back into the Jeep to sit comfortably...and watch the battery go from charged to flat in less than 5 minutes.    Still, the seats are pretty comfortable.

 So....nothing to do but walk home after making sure the laundry was done and loaded into the Jeep.   Came back later that night with SSG to change out the battery.

She made it through the bi-weekly shopping and extra stops for house viewings I had scheduled for yesterday morning at least.   Driving the Jeep isn't as scary as driving my old baby when her brakes went (in the winter, morning of a snow storm- THAT was fun) but it is a tad bit disconcerting to see the Check Gauges light pop on and you see the battery gauge is flat-lining while driving at 60+ miles per hour and wondering just when the engine is going to decide to stop firing or doing whatever it is combustion engines do.  Combust?  Whatever, I'm not a mechanic.

SSG believes it might be the alternator.  What ever that thing is.   Again, not an engineer.

Phe's Maxim #9:  Vehicles go when you turn the key ignition and press on the pedal.  Add gas as necessary.    If you expected a mechanic you should have married one.  

As long as she doesn't play cutesy with the "I'm working! Oh, wait- now I'm not." game I'll be happy.

Phe's Maxim #10:  Never Trust a Jeep

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort. ~ Jane Austen

Just over two weeks into our Quest for a Home and I'm already looking forward to the end.  

TL; DR Version:  We rent from my FIL.  He's in financial straits (4 rental properties, 3 of which have two mortgages each on them) and wants us to either buy the house that we rent  (for over 10k a year) for a price that's well over the current fair market price for a house of this size /acreage or he's going to sell it out from under us.   He's at least 3 yrs behind on taxes.  On a house that has no mortgage.   So, we're looking to buy a house WE want in an area closer to SSG's job that's 90 mins away. 

The Reality Show Dysfunctional Family Version:

We've rented from my father in law since we returned to New England 7ish years ago in 2005.    Our first place was a small duplex with a stunning yard that I still miss.   Sometime between our visit in 2002 while we were still stationed in Korea and when we moved back to NE, my father-in-law started to build the house we currently reside (and rent) in.   

From the very beginning he was pressuring us to buy the house from him; but we were struggling financially since I was still perusing my licensures and  SSG was struggling to find a job that paid for his skills and told him flat out is wasn't going to  happen.  

 (Phe's Maxim #1  Never Work For Family).  

 During this time, SSG (at the time- SGT) was involuntarily transferred and scheduled to deploy to the sandbox as part of the Troop Surge to Iraq, so any question of purchasing a house was put on hold until he came back.  Personally, I was hoping that my FIL would either sell the house or rent it out and leave us alone.    

14 months go by and now SSG is home.   I don't think my FIL waited two days before he was again pressuring SSG to buy the house, which meant SSG was pressuring me.  A lot.  We had several fights on the subject and all of his family got into the mix as well.    

(Phe's Maxim #2  The ideal distance between you and your family is 30 minutes travel.  Minimum.)

  This was in 2008 right before the rainbow bubble burst and the economy tanked.   In late May I discovered that SSG already promised his father that we'd take the house as a rental and explore the option to buy- and lying to me in the process.  

Not happy making.   I will tolerate many things, but not being lied too.   It's a childhood issue.   

So.  Faced with the decision of leaving my husband- no job (still in school, remember?) a kid in first grade and no where to stay- I opted to save my marriage, acquiesce to my FIL's demands and move into this house.   I was already Year 1 MIL Does Not Exist Mode and recieved some satisfaction in adding FIL to that Mode of Existence as well. 

(Currently in Year 6 MIL Does Not Exist.  It's been said I hold a grudge) 

We went through the motions- pre-approval, quote, appraiser, everything.   The house was appraised at 180k, FIL wanted 120k for it.   Then we saw the projected mortgage payments and started to go "Hmm..."

Then the company that SSG worked for started to have problems and his hours were cut.   

Sorry, FIL- can't buy the house.  Talk to your oldest son if you want to know why since he's SSG's BOSS.  

So, we've been renting a 1,200 sq ft 2 1/2 bedroom, 1 bath house on less than a 1/4 acre- that my FIL destroyed before we even moved in.   He put unsifted fill in the back yard to "even it off" which resulted in God's own rock garden as well as raising our lawn 4' over that of our neighbors.   

Hello, run off erosion.      

So, for nearly 5 years we've been paying $10,400 a year in this house.   In that time, we've both been laid off, found new jobs- in my case, been laid off 2x more- and are just finally able to make ends meet.  Most months.  

And then my FIL, on the day before our 12th Anniversary tells my husband that we're behind in rent (which is true- had to order heating oil and do a fairly major car repair in the same week in January.  Bye-Bye pay check) , that he (FIL) was behind on the taxes for this house and might loose the house if it's not sold.    I did mention that there's no mortgage on our place right?  And that he's at least 3 years behind on taxes?

He also made some bullshit complaint about my brother living with us (which he's known about since Day 1) and that we use too much water.  Love to know how he came up with that one since we don't have a washer hookup (that he promised to install) or a dishwasher.  

The real pisser was when he decided to question our financial management and why I wasn't working.  Let's see.  None of your business, and oh, none of your business.   

So, Dearest FIL wants 110k for a 1,200 sq ft house on a 1/5 of an acre.   Two streets over (5 min walk), same neighborhood, a 1800 sq ft house on a full 1/4 acre is being sold for 112k.  That has a pool.  Another home, 1300 sq ft on a 1/3 of an acre is going for $75k.

Right.   No.  

We went curbside stalking the local listings that weekend and in the two weeks since, have gotten pre-approved for more house than we could ever use and have our first showing tomorrow!

Stay tuned for more suspenseful action and drama as our heroes continue their search...