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The photo above would theoretically be my new home, should the planets properly align.
As I told Laurie, I’m superstitious. I blogged a month ago that I found a home to purchase. And then I tantalized you by saying how close to paradise it’s going to be. And I still won’t get into the reasons why I think it’s paradise, because I worry that if I rave too much, or flash a bunch of photos, it will evaporate. My fingers are crossed, I’m hopping from one foot to the other, hands balled up, trying not to shout how excited I am.
For the last few years I never thought this could happen because my name is currently on another mortgage that I cannot currently escape from. In January 2008 I bought a house with a guy I was dating at the time. I am not at all comfortable with sharing enormous investments and would have preferred either his name on it or mine, but not both. However, we were told that in the state of Oregon, no matter what the relationship, if multiple adults will consider the property their home, then everyone’s name goes on the mortgage. It was the sixth house I have purchased, and the FIRST one that had another person’s name on it. The idea of that grated (I’m a very independent woman, ha ha).
The economy crashed and he lost his job and I carried us for a year till he got another job. Then he lost that one too. And I carried us again. Times were hard. So hard in 2008 and 2009. Though he was finally working again in 2010, a lot of things piled up until I couldn’t bear it anymore and left the relationship and moved out, leaving him in the house since he loved it so much. He said his intent was to refinance and get my name off it. I fully support that idea, as soon as he can possibly arrange it.
Instead, he lost his job again.
So what I have now is a house on my record that is not mine, that I am not welcome at, that has many many months of missed and late mortgage payments, that I have no control over, but it somewhat controls me.
The ex-boyfriend and I barely communicate now, but I still have access to the website of the mortgage lender, and guess what I discovered several months ago? Viola! One full year of mortgage payments have been made in full and on time! This means that I no longer appear as such a great risk, and I can qualify for a loan in this window, while it lasts. (Quick! Before he loses his job again!)
I also mentioned in an earlier post that there are not many houses on the market here, and that they are rising in value. I knew exactly what I wanted and I would not settle for anything less. That meant I had to search far and wide for a place. I found it well outside of Portland. It will be an hour and 10 minute drive from home to work from now on, so thank goodness I work at home and only have to head into the office one day a week. Next month I will say goodbye to City Girl and get to know Country Girl again. I miss her. I haven’t known her for oh, so long.
You will see my new journey chronicled, as I make that transition. In fact, today I was negotiating the price of a used tractor, and The Uncles called to see how many chicks I needed so they can start raising them for me in their incubation cages. I like to begin all my adventures feet first.
That is… once I am certain the adventure is actually going to happen. Stay tuned.
Tara and I went up to Sauvie Island and gave The Uncles a call to bring them along. Jim was driving the streetcar that day, but Larry was available and agreed to come with us. Yay!
Sauvie Island is a wide, flat island created because the Willamette River splits just before it empties into the Columbia River. So, while the north of the island is bound by the mighty Columbia, the south is bound by a long skinny piece of the Willamette that wraps around the island and finally drops into the larger river. The island has a distinctly rural feel. It’s slower, totally agricultural, and seems almost lost in time. This atmosphere is unexpected because it’s barely 15 minutes from downtown Portland.
Sauvie Island is famous for the pumpkin patch and the corn maze, which they call the Corn Maize. It’s clear that a ton of work is put into this maze each year, and it’s a pretty slick operation. The maze is so huge there are a couple of bridges built inside of it, which allow wanderers to climb above the corn and look around. The opportunity to do this is totally irresistible, but not at all helpful in finding one’s path out of the maze. Not one bit. Sigh.
The day we chose was so lovely. Sunny and warm and gorgeous and we were not pressed to hurry through the maze at all. We were actually challenged by the maze, which made it more fun. The corn stalks towered over our heads and were planted thickly, so on a path we truly could not see where to go next. I got so turned around so many times. And you know, corn going in one direction looks a lot like corn going another direction.
To lighten things up despite all the scary cornstalks, there was a game to play inside. There were CORNundrums (yes, it’s corny. I think that’s the point!). Larry challenged himself to find them all, so we not only tried to find our way out, but we also tried to hit every pathway, in order to find the CORNundrums. We missed four of them, so we guessed the remaining answers at the end of the maze, and Larry dropped his card into the sweepstakes box. Wish him luck!
Afterward we wandered around and enjoyed the many other things to do on site: farmer’s market, petting barn, food stands, etc. The usual faire stuff.
My Tara was in the parade for the first time this year! It was exciting to get ready and to show up early and wander through the staging area, which I haven’t done before. Tara had cut up her Madison High School Gay Straight Alliance T-shirt and made a really awesome shirt out of it. Sadly, it was cold and rainy before the parade so she kept a sweater on and I couldn’t get a photo of the awesomely creative dragon-spawn I call my kid. Even sadder: I never even saw her in the parade. She wasn’t with a float, just a group of kids, and I spotted her group as they were already past me, and I couldn’t pick her out. I am So Bummed.
Ok, I’ll say it: this had to be a crushing blow to a dog ego, if there is such a thing. There were lots and lots of parade dogs this year, all decked in finery from pink tutus to monster costumes and rainbow clown collars. Oh, you poor doggies. I hope your people took you home and gave you bunches of love for putting up with our human silliness. 🙂
I’m a little late, but I want to get these photos out to you. Last month I met a friend in Portland’s Chinatown and we watched the Pride Parade. I hadn’t seen Eliot since I lived in Humboldt, which was before I went to school in Boston, which was so long ago! Nine, maybe ten years, it’s been, and that is entirely too long to go without seeing a friend.
He introduced me to Amanda, and then we were able to catch up on old times while cheering our support for the floats and banners and people as they passed.
The parade was smaller than the last couple of times I’ve seen it. Fewer drag queens, which is a disappointment. More company support, which I LOVED. You know, banks, churches, high schools, airlines, etcetera, marching in T-shirts shouting “We are happy to serve everyone,” or “We hire anyone who is qualified.” There were lots of politicians in the parade, publicly announcing that they want to represent all of their constituents.
I was pleased to see Uncle Jim and Uncle Larry driving the square dancing float for the Rosetown Ramblers. Jim drives it every year, and Larry typically drives the bowling float for the Portland Community Bowling League, but I didn’t see the bowling float, so the Uncles were in the same truck this year.
The weather was great! There were some clouds early, it cleared up and became warm and sunny by the end of the parade.
Portland is certainly the most eclectic, accepting, diverse, and liberal place I’ve ever lived. It feels good to be in a city where most of the time strangers see you first as a human being, and second as whatever your outward appearance might be. That also makes it more startling when insensitive, non-inclusive, or even hateful words and actions are tossed around. But…I suppose it’s unavoidable that when you take people from 600,000 different walks of life and put them all together, that sometimes we’ll be awful to each other. Considering that this is the case in every city, most of the time Portland does a damned good job of embracing all of its people.
Enjoy the photos.
Lots of things have been going on around here, as is typical in our lovely little life. They don’t seem enough to individually warrant a blog post, but they are worth mentioning for those of you who read to see what’s been going on in our household.
I recently took my camera up to Mt. Tabor to capture my favourite volcano, Mt. Hood, in the setting sun, and saw the church above, lit up in the late day sun. It’s a care center for patients with Alzheimer’s.
Miss Tara successfully completed her 10th grade year on Friday. We’ve had some challenges this year with academics, and it’s been good for both of us. I’ve learned better ways to recognize the work she does without honing in on places where I want her to do better, and she has had a good dose of what future school work is going to require from her. Tara encapsulated the biggest challenge for me the other day when she explained how 9th grade was a continuation of middle school, in which teachers constantly reminded students to get their work done, forgave late assignments, and invented plenty of extra-credit when all else failed.
“But this year,” she moaned, “I was just going along, doing the stuff I remembered, not really worrying because I know I’m a good student, and then I get zeros on homework and since I forgot a test was coming up, failed the test. I wish it wasn’t just ‘total help’ in 9th grade, then ‘no help’ in 10th grade. I wish they would make the change more gradual. I knew at some point I would have to be more responsible, but I didn’t see it coming.”
Good life lesson, yes? 🙂
Roses have passed their peak now, but different kinds of blossoms are coming into their own time. Plants are so fascinating for me to watch, as they morph through seasonal changes. I cut a couple of the deep red roses in my yard and put them into the green glass Coke bottle I dug out of the sand when I was stationed at Shemya AFB in Alaska. It’s the real thing. The number “44” in raised glass can be seen on the side of the bottle, for 1944. One of my favourite archaeological games is imagining the world in which an object had its heyday. A cold, wet, lonely soldier drank a coke during World War II, on a nasty little island in Alaska. What were his thoughts? Was it refreshing to drink the Coke? Comforting? Or just something to do out of boredom.
The sun gets up when I do now, and I can’t help but embrace the change in my circadian rhythms. My body is ready to rise, even without the alarm. I retain a tiny bit of hope and optimism each morning as the bold sunbeams dash through a pale blue sky. Though I have had enough of the city (and look forward to living in the country again), I still find such beauty and excitement in the architecture of a city.
Tux has been frequenting the house. From the tag on his collar, we discovered that he lives across the street. Perhaps he got locked out of the house accidentally, but he showed up bony and famished. We lavished him with attention and food, and after two days got more of him than we wanted. Tux (so states his collar) made himself comfortable in our home, climbing in through the window we leave open for our own cat, Racecar, and sleeping on the couch at night. This photo shows him on my bed. That was shortly before I went to sleep, and was awakened 10 minutes later when Racecar jumped onto the bed, found an uninvited guest, and asserted her territorial rights. A catfight on my belly! Thankfully his mom came home and he doesn’t come over so often anymore, except occasional requests for food and love.
Arno and I tried out a new place on Belmont Friday night. We decided Belmont is more Portlandy than Hawthorne now. Hawthorne Street is famous enough to draw tourists and people from outside the neighborhood, so it’s getting a bit snooty and trendy. People shop on purpose to look like hipsters there, while people on Belmont are naturally hip, since that’s what young people in Portland do. 😉
In any case, we went to the Pied Cow Coffeehouse, without knowing the name. We were looking for a restaurant, but found it’s a coffee house that also serves alcoholic drinks and hookahs. We ordered the Indian Style Curried Lentil Dip with yogurt and pita, and the Smoked Salmon Plate off the “savories” menu, and expected appetizer nibbles, but were served two heaping platters of food. It was plenty. Arno ordered a Swedish beer on tap and I asked for the German beer, Weihenstephaner hefeweissbier, just because I wanted to try and pronounce it. There were four tables that had ordered giant Arabic water pipes (they are about 3 feet tall) being enjoyed by patrons. The many tobacco flavours included rose, honeydew melon, orange, and mint. Non-tobacco substitute is also available.
Today a friend from long ago when I lived in Humboldt County, CA is in Portland. We are going to meet up at the Pride Parade. I like to go every year because The Uncles usually drive floats. I hope to see Eliot as well as The Uncles, whom, I sadly admit, I have not seen since before I went to Japan. Long overdue!
I wrapped up my second 10-hour overtime shift yesterday, so I have completed my obligation for the month of June. At the Department of Veterans Affairs we have been assigned 20 hours of mandatory overtime each month through the end of the fiscal year. It happens every summer. Sigh. But I’m finished for the moment, and get to enjoy the rest of my time off in June in someplace other than in the office. That is cause for celebration!
We went to the opening day of the Portland Farmer’s Market downtown. The weather cooperated and citizens showed up in droves!
I have been to a few farmer’s markets in Portland, but it was my first time for this one. I hear that it has grown in size. It was certainly full of homegrown and homemade wares of all kinds. Honey candles, crocheted hats, photography, houseplants, cut flowers, and best of all: lots of fresh garden fruits and veggies.
I bought a bag of red potatoes and a box of chocolate covered cherries. Mom bought pastries and rutabaga. Who buys rutabaga? Tara bought honey sticks.
The festival atmosphere combined with the joy that emerges anytime a group of people gets to congregate outside in glorious spring weather after a cold, wet winter, served to buoy the three of us.
Later we spotted Uncle Jim driving the streetcar and hopped a ride. He had a 10-minute layover at the tram, and told us that if we rode it up and then down again, we would be back in time to catch his streetcar before his break was over. So we did. The day was splendid for an aerial trip above the Willamette River up to the hospitals on the hill.
Can you beat Springtime? I mean, can you?
My story of how we arrived at this fearful point is a long one. (Sorry!) I am sure that for many people, financial insecurity is not the result of one factor. In our case, it was a dreadful chain of events filled with bad luck and bad choices. I’ve chosen to tell it in chapters. Today (October 2009), we are in negotiations with Wells Fargo that began around October 2008, and progressed significantly around March 2009, yet today remain unresolved. Will the three of us be forced to leave our modest little fixer-upper home? Right now, no one knows.
Unable to sell my Massachusetts home the Spring of 2007, I found a renter. I asked for a rent that was reasonable for the blue-collar community the house was in, but didn’t come close to matching the mortgage amount.
12) The problems with my renter began immediately. She was almost a month late for her FIRST month’s rent. After a few sporadic payments, she stopped paying altogether. She eventually stopped answering her phone, and when I called her workplace, they told me she was no longer working there. I began researching how to evict a tenant in Massachusetts.
We were living at The Uncles outside of Portland while we looked for work. Mark’s unemployment check went to rent at The Uncles, and the mortgage payment, and I continued to rob my 401K to make up the difference. We spent the summer of 2007 just trying to make ourselves get up and be productive each day, and not succumb to fright or despair. Mark couldn’t take the daily reminder of his perceived failure, and took off into the desert for awhile.
All summer I filled out applications till they made me numb. I was invited to only a couple of interviews, and was not offered a position.
13) In September I got a job with the VA. Not related to my degrees, but it was at least employment. In October, Mark got a job.
14) School loans came due. I went into forbearance on the greater sum, and began paying Sallie Mae. They required a huge fee for a short deferral, and it was simply cheaper to make my monthly payments.
With two incomes, we were in a position to have our own home. I was sent to Baltimore for training, and while I was there, Mark found a house he wanted to buy. (We love The Uncles, but after 8 months, were ready to be on our own)
15) We still had faith that the Mass house would sell someday, and made an offer on the Portland house in January 2008. By the last day of the month, we owned it. It was a 1925 home, basement crumbling, roof mossy, stained walls and stinking of dog pee on the carpet, but… it was large and we could afford it! Well, we could as soon as the Mass house sold, which had to be soon. In the meantime, we made two mortgage payments every month.
16) February 2008, my daughter’s father decided he wanted to move back to California and take her with him. I disagreed with the plan. Since we had no money left, Mark put the attorney’s retainer on his credit card.
17) Still no communication from my renter, so I hired a Realtor in Mass to put the home on the market in March, and plunked down the credit card once again for a cross-country flight and got the lady out of my house with relatively little pain. I spent a few days putting the property back in order. The electricity had been shut off. She had drained the heating oil and the pilot light went out. The water was off. The toilet leaked. There were mountains of construction rubbish in the back yard. I hired a guy to pick up everything inside and out, and haul it away. I hired a landscaping company to take care of the lawn. $$$$$$$ I went back home about a foot shorter, shrinking under the weight of the world.
18) June 2008, Mark lost his job. It was a shocking blow. Poverty hit hard. There was no way we could survive in the new home on my paycheck only. I was earning $42 K a year. We put up a clothesline. We washed and reused baggies.
19) The custody skirmish was over only a few months after it began. We only spent $5000. That was a MIRACLE compared to what had happened to us in California. AND, for the first time the courts ruled in my favor. Barney moved to Cali like he wanted to, but our daughter came to live with me finally. For good.
20) I asked my family law attorney to recommend a bankruptcy attorney. Both of them were fabulous and I would highly recommend either! I was advised that bankruptcy wouldn’t work for me. My major expenses included $60 thousand in student loans, which I would still have to pay. One of the only things that didn’t cost me much was my car, and they would take it from me. They wouldn’t even wipe out my credit card debt… just rearrange it and put me on a payment plan.
We put our heads down and pressed on. We focused on getting my girl into school for 6th grade, settling in the house. Mark looked for work and tried not to sink into depression. We called Wells Fargo and explained that we were not going to be able to make our payments much longer. They told us that as far as they were concerned, our account was in good standing. We had paid every month, and on time, and our credit was great. “We can only help those people who have been delinquent for three months in a row or more.”
We began giving that statement some serious thought.
My mother lives in Moyie Springs, Idaho. Good luck even finding on a map. She and her husband actually live “out of town,” which, when we’re using Moyie Springs as our reference point, is an extremely rural situation. They’re likely the only inhabitants of the mountain, other than the elk, deer, mountain lion, Whiskey Jacks, ground squirrels, tanagers, Pileated Woodpeckers, etc…. you get the picture.
Anyway, she found a choice huckleberry spot. Huckleberries, for any sad individual who hasn’t experienced them, are shaped like a blueberry and twenty times more flavorful. They are rich wine purple all the way through, whereas blueberries have blue skin and white insides.
Mom knows I love huckleberries. When we were kids and hungry most of the time, August was a month when satisfying our hunger was merely a matter of walking into the woods. Wild strawberries, huckleberries, black caps, thimbleberries, dewberries…. A kid could eat herself sick. I spent most of the month of August with purple fingers and lips and tongue.
Mom ran a tight household. In the morning she would hand a large container to each kid and tell us it had to be full to the top in order to get breakfast. We would get fed one at a time, as we arrived home with our berries jugs full. Being the oldest, my brother Eli and I were often required to pick a gallon of huckleberries each before breakfast. In exchange for one glass gallon mayonnaise jar full of berries, Mom would feed me pancakes. And THEN, we were pretty much allowed to eat from the forest anything we wanted for the rest of the day.
I developed a mighty love for huckleberries that has not dimmed. Mom outdid herself this week when she filled a tupperware container of berries, taped it tightly closed, wrapped it in plastic, sealed it in cardboard, and mailed it to me!! Yesterday we ate three day old huckleberries over vanilla ice cream for dinner. Oh man, it was DEE LISH! They stayed remarkably firm in the mail and smelled incredibly fresh and are so tasty tasty.
I went up to the Uncles’ place today in Scappoose. Larry sent me out to pick blueberries because they always have too many. I picked many, ate many, tossed a lot to the chickens as well. I ended up with 1 1/2 gallons of blueberries. Before I could finish though, Larry insisted I must pick the Marionberries as well. So, I finished up the blueberries, and he and I picked about two quarts of Marionberries. They’re like a blackberry – yum yum yum.
I packed berries into the fridge this evening and realized, there is no way out of the situation into which I have put myself. Two quarts of huckleberries, two quarts of marionberries, a gallon and half of blueberries. In circumstances like these, I realize the decision is out of my hands: I must make pies.
Pies and pies and pies. I have no choice. What else can I do?? Lucky for us, we’ve got the vanilla ice cream at the ready.
Now, don’t you wish you were my next door neighbor?
That’s me on the left in the purple. These guys were so great. We saw a couple of them waiting at a bus stop in the morning, on their way to the parade.
What a flippin’ awesome city. When they saw that I was getting my picture taken with them, they ran up and posed for Mark to get the shot off.
I’m delinquent in updating my photos from Pride ’08 in Portland. Man, what a blast. A friend of mine at work went, and she said she was bored the whole time and couldn’t wait to leave. So, maybe a pride parade isn’t the BEST way to spend a Sunday afternoon for everyone, but I can’t imagine WHY NOT! hee hee
Please enjoy the photos. I haven’t much else to say except that it was a delight.
I enjoyed especially that I got to meet Larry, another of Mark’s friends from meetings. We couldn’t help but talk about Kevin. Mark kept saying “That fucker. So selfish.” Because Kevin was at Pride ’07 with us, and he recently overdosed and killed himself. That’s part of why I needed to be there, because I needed to remember him, and I dragged Mark along because he needs help expressing his emotions. Hopefully he moved through a little bit more of his pain.
As an aside, we went to a memorial service last Saturday for another addict who died too early. This time, Mark’s friend was Michael’s father, and he had only met Michael a couple times. The service was beautiful, and very interesting because the family is Indian, so we were able to see a lot of tradition that we had not experienced before. Anyway, Mark again was thinking of Kevin. I was glad for another opportunity to work through his feelings. Although, Mark doesn’t like it. He says he doesn’t like remembering someone because it brings up all the pain again. Well, yeah.
I’m beginning to feel that if I remain this close to the AA community, I will have to continue to process loss. Loss in different ways of course, but including death, which is a blow.
Oh hey, this is not supposed to be a downer post!
This is supposed to be about these great photos!
Love and love and love to you.
This Jimi Hendrix imitator was so much fun. He’s spotted around Portland with some regularity. He gave kisses and hugs to everyone. We looked down the street and saw a lovely one prancing around in her teal pumps. Yeeow! If I was a guy with legs that smokin’, I would want to wear a short dress too.
This person is the best!! For some reason he reminds me of the characters from Wallace and Grommit. Wendolene, maybe. Ha.
And then, there was a woman with the giant hat. Her shirt says, “I just realized I DON’T CARE.”
Ha ha. That’s really funny.
Comments from the old blog:
I am very proud of who I am. I am proud because I know that GOD is proud of me because he wakes me up each morning, and I feel that I have a will to keeping on pushing that wheel.
Yay! Thanks for sharing this, Kiya! Oh thank you for your strength and your will. Sorry for not getting all my photos up before you looked at it, though. I was drawn away by the sunshine… Ok, I’ll put the rest up now!
We’re heading out today to see Portland’s Pride Parade. Saw this image on a website of last year’s photos. If you believe in God, then God made us, then God made us the way we are, so God made gays. Huh.