March 25, 2008
Well, I've wanted to write, but I
feel as though I keep waiting for something better to tell
so that I don't just sound like I'm whining. My
impression is that I am not doing a very good job of
maintaining the positive attitude that I know is really
critical to generating good things in one's life. It's
a constant struggle to stay anywhere near "on track" and
while I can explain away a lot of reasons why that's
happening, they really all just come out sounding like
excuses while I flop around on the shore gasping for air.
The sort of good thing is that our
planting, which should have occurred on Spring Equinox,
keeps getting put off. It's not unusual for that to
happen because where I am, we don't plant things that time
of year, but we do try to stick pretty close to the standard
times. I have not received any kind of redirections on
what I am planting in my life this year: learn to
bellydance, learn to play the organ and lose 100 pounds by
January 2nd. I'm good with that and The Universe seems
good with me doing that. Still, whenever we are
supposed to do our planting ceremony, things come up to
redirect us from that.
When I very first started tuning
into signs and omens and Divine guidance, I used to struggle
over the seemingly endless conundrum that comes up when you
are doing something and encounter obstacles. On one
hand, I could see The Universe asking, "OK, how badly do you
want this?" and on the other hand, I could see the obstacles
as genuine redirection. I used to over-analyze like
mad trying to decide which it was in individual
circumstances. Now that I am old and decrepit, I can
clearly see that The Universe just does not work that way.
If something is truly meant to be, the way will be provided.
If obstacles are popping up everywhere, then it's time to be
still for a while and examine what's going on and perhaps
even why it's happening. Rarely are obstacles anything
more than a way of slowing down (or halting) the process,
either because you are going in the wrong direction or
because it's just not time yet. Sometimes, you just
have to sit still for a while and wait for more pieces to
drop into place before you move forward again.
I am trying hard not to fall into
a negative mentality. I have never been one to deal
well with lack of routine and plenty of abrupt changes.
I like a plan and I like some degree of predictability in my
life. Sure, we can never really depend on anything,
but I do enjoy an overall sense of rhythm to life. To
me, that's what best reflects the feel of nature, the turn
of the earth on its axis, the movement of all life through
the seasons and the phases of the moon.
I remember back in the olden days
when I used to have that. I miss that.
Now, everything changes on a dime.
I never know from one week to the next when or if Eric will
be working. I never seem to know when I am going to
have to go into town for this or that. Once again, I
find myself at the mental crossroads analyzing. Is
this meant to shake me out of my apparent need for routine
and flow or is it a call for me to stand up and take greater
control of my life rather than pinballing against other
circumstances that are not generated by me?
Do I really want to go back to the
past where things had an illusion of consistency and
predictability or do I want to find a balance between that
and the spontaneity of the way my life currently goes?
I think the key word is balance
because that seems to always be what I seek, again, in that
reflection of nature. I'm sure the gazelle who gets
eaten by the lion spends a moment or two longing for that
predictability of loping through the fields with his little
antelope friends. I just don't always want to be
braced for the lion attack.
So yeah, balance. That's
what I am going to be thinking about when I am going through
boxes out in the "way back" shed looking for my stash of
material (as in fabric) that I've had forever and intend to
use to make bear and monkey clothes.
I'll bet you're dying to know
about the bears and the monkeys, aren't you?
Fortunately, it will be an hour or two in my time, but only
a line or two in yours, so you get the good end of this deal
(provided you actually did have any interest in either the
monkeys or the bears or both).
To the shed...
Now I'm back, but it's something
like 6 hours later. Isn't it amazing how that works?
Remarkably, I spent less than a half hour in the shed.
The shed gods were smiling today. Everything I needed
was immediately accessible. I got out the boxes that
my transcribing computer was shipped in and they are now
waiting eagerly in the near shed. I can't find the
crappy little speakers they sent, so they will get a
slightly better pair back. My last day is a week from
yesterday and I have 4 more work nights to go. Sixteen
hours between me and freedom.
I found the fabric I was looking
for, plus a nice surprise of a pile of jeans the boys had
outgrown that will be made into bear jeans. I was
afraid I was going to have to buy some at the thrift store
to cut down, but there they were. All in all, a day of
I love even the little bity ones.
Once the shed issue was in order,
Eric helped me move some storage items from the laundry
room, which is also now the dog room and my "office."
Since I have been able to work out regularly with Andrea,
the treadmill went back to the shed until Eric can get the
big deck built. Once that happens, all of the exercise
equipment will go out there. I moved a lot of things
around in the laundry room and cleared off some shelves for
my bear dressing supplies. I have clothes, fabric,
yarn, hair, hats, shoes, glasses, the makings for boas and
fancy hats, official "red hats" for the Red Hat bears,
tiaras, chenille pipe cleaners to make more tiaras, lots of
little accessories for them to hold and a decent craft
basket started. It's weird, really. Anyone who
knows me knows that I am 100% NOT an artsy crafty person.
I just don't have it in me. I can decorate cakes
pretty nicely, but I don't let that word get out much
because I dearly hate doing it. When it comes to
gluing stuff together or painting anything or
conceptualizing the least little thing, it just isn't there.
Yet I am drawn to the idea of dressing these damned bears.
I counted today and I have 32 stuffed bears of different
sizes, shapes and consistencies, picked up from thrift
stores over the past month or so. I doubt I paid more
than $20 for all of them combined. They are all in
good shape, except for one guy who needs a quick whip
stitching up the back. He was too cuddly to let go.
What's funny about it is that my
mother spent the last half of her life dressing bears and
dolls. She was an amazing seamstress. I am
anything but amazing, but I think I can pull it off.
I will also be making monkeys.
Here's how the monkey thing started:
Two weeks ago, the boys had a
birthday party that was set to last for about 3 hours.
Eric and I took advantage of that time to do something we
never get to do. We took Delena out. Since she's
the babysitter, she's always home with one of them or one of
us is out with her. So out we go, just the 3 of us.
We were walking into a historical shop on Main Street
Placerville called, appropriately enough, "Placerville
Hardware." Placerville Hardware is significant for the
fact that it is the only place I have found on earth that
carries "Annie B's Caramels." Annie B's caramels
are quite simply, the finest caramels ever, ever made
anywhere on the whole entire planet. This statement is
authenticated by our own resident caramel expert, The Media
Ho. They are .25 each or 5 for $1 or, according
to this site,
$50 a case. Since that works out to about .38 a
piece, I'm guessing this site is yanking our collective
chain. Ah. It pays to shop around.
Here they are
at 150 for $25. Bouquet and Company can go straight to
hell for their caramel price gouging ways. Anyway,
worth absolutely every penny.
as you may have determined from
the whole caramel thing,
Placerville Hardware sells more than hardware. In
fact, hardware makes up about 1/2 of their inventory.
The rest is just neat stuff. So as I go into the
store, I see in their display window, a sock monkey.
It's a well made, kinda cute sock monkey, but this isn't
exactly the Raquel Welch of sock monkeys. It's just a
sock monkey. It has a tag around its neck that says
DeeDee and that is significant because DeeDee and Dee are
our nicknames for Delena. Delena also happens to be a
monkey fanatic. I like pigs (with character) and Delena
likes monkeys. So I asked the guy behind the counter
if the monkey was for sale and he excitedly told me that it
was. The rest of the conversation went like this:
Me: Excellent. How
much for the monkey?
Hardware boy: It's $79.
Me: *blink* Did you
just say $79, like $1 less than $80?
HB: It's wearing a Tommy
Hilfliger outfit. *shifts uncomfortably*
Me: *stare* Are you
really standing there telling me with a straight face that
the little sock monkey in the window costs $79?
HB: I could probably let it
go for $50.
Me: Are you out of your ever
lovin' mind? How do monkey makers sleep at night?
HB: It's wearing a Tommy
Me: Do you realize you are
in Placerville, not Beverly Hills? I could see Paris
Hilton buying a Tommy Hilfliger monkey for $79...
HB: I can let it go for $50.
Me: ...but in Placerville, I
think you are going to end up with one very old, dusty
monkey in a Tommy Hilfliger outfit.
HB: Do you want the monkey?
Me: No, I want some socks
and to go into the monkey making business.
HB: We don't sell the socks.
Me: There are other worlds
than these, gunslinger.
So I went home and ordered a dozen
pairs of monkey socks and so far, I have a monkey overhead
of $3.75 each. I figure I'll call them "Mammaw's
Monkeys" (although the thought of going with "Munkeys"
appeals to me in some wild way) or "Mountain Monkeys" or
something like that.
That's how I became a purveyor of
monkeys as well as bears. Mine, however, will not cost
$79 because that's just highway monkey robbery.
Jackie has all the stuff to make
our soaps, soy candles, creams and lotions. We just
have to find the time to get together and do it. Since
she is on the GFORCE board of directors, we have both been
immersed in community things, but now we are freed up
from GFORCE obligations until July with the exception of an
Speaking of GFORCE, we finally got
our Non-Profit Organization status finalized and now we are
on to the incorporation process. Woot!
Anyway, as you might have read in
a previous entry, I was pretty hot to buy a business in town
called Land of Awes that is a little boutique and costume
shop. It screams "me" and it cries out for me to be
its Mama. My monkeys and bears need a place to live,
don'tcha know. Anyway, Wells Fargo turned me down like
a motel bed for a loan. They even turned me down faster than
they usually turn down people. I was a little
surprised, honestly, because my credit isn't all that awful.
So I pretty much let the idea go unless something else
showed up and sure enough, things started popping up.
A guy from Umpqua Bank called me wanting me to give
financing a try and so I drafted up a business proposal so
moving *I* wanted to lend the money to me, but of course, I
don't have it, hence the lending process. Also along
this time, Eric got a note from our mortgage company
that actually recommended that we attempt to refinance with one
of their sister companies. Weird. So Eric phoned
them up and they told him they couldn't help him because
our first and second mortgages were both being reported more
than 30 days late for January. Adoing?! This
was news to us since we'd worked our asses off making sure
that didn't happen. As soon as Eric knew the
job at Beale AFB was delayed, he phoned the mortgage company
(back in December) and set up a hardship payment plan, which
we followed to the letter. We were 100% assured that
our credit would not be affected, but the FICO score the
company that Eric phoned gave him was 150 points lower than
it had previously been. (??!!) I got on the
phone with Umpqua guy and he told me it was still possible
to get the loan if I could get a statement from the mortgage
company saying it was their error. Until then, there
is no way he can pitch a loan for us. Fortunately, he
is out of the office all this week and would be unable to
initiate anything until next week.
Also, of course, the mortgage
company needs to write to the credit reporting bureaus with
the information. I thought all that sounded fairly
simple, but here it is a week later and Eric has spent
literally hours on the phone with the mortgage company and
they are jerking him around big time. Turns out, the
guy who was handing our hardship arrangement did not file
something he was supposed to file. When we have tried
to call him and his extension goes right back to the main menu
again. (I think he might be farred) So after
some supposedly extensive research on the part of a guy at
the mortgage company, which is in Florida, he found the
hardship agreement and agrees that our credit should not
have been affected and that the mortgage company was in
error to report us as late. Unfortunately, of course,
he does not have the authority to issue the letters to us
and the credit bureaus about the error. His supervisor
would have to do that. His supervisor, of course, is
unavailable and we have to call back...over and over and
over. His supervisor is always unavailable, it seems,
being important and all.
As I said, this has been going on
for a week and Eric has been handling it well, getting pissy
at all the right times and being calm at all the right
times, but still, we're getting jerked around on this.
Does no one take responsibility for their actions any more?
Why is it so hard for a company to say, "You know, you're
right. We'll fix that right away." Life and
mortgages, especially at this point in history, are hard
enough without just getting screwed with constantly.
This is the same mortgage company that has a 15 day grace
period for payments due on the 1st, but starts calling
daily on the 8th insisting on being paid, complete
with pushy, angry, out-sourced, barely English-speaking
employees. I appreciate that they need a job as much
as any English speaking American needs one, but the language
barrier is just unworkable in some instances.
Eric phones every day, sometimes
multiple times, and today was yet another day when they just
couldn't help us. It isn't like we are asking them to
compensate us with a month off of mortgage payments or
anything (our credit can't handle their favors right now).
We just want them to fix what they screwed up. I do
know that this error is likely why Wells Fargo turned me
down with as much heat as they could muster, so their error
has already affected my life in a very negative way. I
definitely hope they can get something going before Mr. Umpqua gets back into his office on Monday.
What's really sweet is that since
word has gotten out that I might be buying the store, people
are coming out of the woodwork to help. I've had
offers from people for everything from consignment goods to
clothes folding to store minding and I've been really moved
by the outpouring of support. If it doesn't go through
and I end up peddling monkeys, bears and things that smell
good from my front yard, at least I know a community can
mobilize to support one of its own (pity they don't have
$80,000 or so laying around they aren't needing right now).
The kids finally did the egg hunt
today. On Sunday, David ended up coming over and they
played with him until well past dark. Yesterday got a
little nutty after they got home and we never got around to
it. Being as they are 8 and 10, Eric actually went out
in the woods and hid their eggs this year instead of just
putting them around the yard. That's some devious egg
hiding right there. They found all but one and
fortunately, I'm betting the wildlife will take care of that
one for us. Our dogs actually ended up jumping up
onto the table and eating 5 of the eggs after they were
dyed, so we had to make more. There's nothing I hate
more than a dog that steals food and so mine are on some
serious probation with much frowning and really hard staring
All of that being said, I am going to start winding
down the night, get a few EOS columns posted and figure I
did a good day's work. I have nothing planned for
tomorrow or the day after or really, the rest of the week.
I like having big open areas of my week. Nothing for
the weekend either, which is nice. I suspect I will
get busy on gussying up some bears and read up on how to
make the sock monkeys again. I used to know, but that
was a long time ago. I have the cheapest sewing
machine man ever invented and it snaps needles like twigs,
so this should be very interesting.