Sunday, March 24, 2013

Brass Tacks

It seems Congress and the Senate have managed to pass a budget just in time for the DOD to hold off on sending out furlough notices.  They did, however, call a halt to overtime, so my hubby will actually be taking that extra day off he earns every other week.  He will also not be answering work calls when he's not 'on the clock,' which is just fine by me.  At any rate, we're still left waiting and wondering what's going to happen next.

After talking with some friends about our housing situation, we were advised to start pushing our realtor to get serious about selling our house, or find someone else.  We leaned on him, and we now have an Open House scheduled for next Saturday.  This, of course, has resulted in a flurry of activity to prepare for it.  We had to pick up my great grandmother's bed from the guy who was refinishing it, and get the mattresses and box spring from storage to set up in Gingersnap's room.  We figured that it would look nicer than the plain mattress on the floor.  (We removed her loft bed a few weeks ago, since she wasn't sleeping and used it as a hiding place for all manner of disgusting things.)

Of course, we've still plenty of cleaning to do, about which I am quite frazzled.   I won't have the full week to get everything done, as we will be in Maryland for the latter half of the week.  Husband Fixture has to travel there for work this week.  Since the kids are out of school Thursday and Friday, we are planning to drive down there to join him as soon as the kids are out of school.  We'll get a much needed change of scenery, and we'll have the opportunity to show the kids the house we're still trying purchase.  We will also be seeing some other homes. 

Going to showings with just the realtor and kids is another cause for anxiety.  The last time we took them with us, they tore through the houses, "claiming" bedrooms, and chattering nonstop about what they liked and didn't like.  Husband Fixture and I were so busy trying to rein them in that we didn't really get to focus on the things that were important to us.  We've devised a plan to keep that from happening this time.  They will be given jobs.  One kid will take photos, and the other will take notes (on what they like/dislike, and what I say).  They will switch off after each house, which will hopefully curtail the other inevitable issue.  And of course, they'll be warned that unfavorable behaviors will result in inhumane punishments (by their standards, anyway).

The weather dudes are calling for the white stuff tomorrow, which really wouldn't bother me for once.  It'll give me a chance to schlep Gingersnap's old bed to a friend who wants it for his kid, and to dump the boxes we broke down tonight (among a dozen or so other chores).  I just hope my honey has a safe trip down to Maryland.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Kangaroo Court

I spent today doing my civic duty, serving on the jury for a theft case. Despite dreading the original call to serve (because I thought we'd be moving), it turned out to be an interesting and rewarding experience.  

The defendants were  an engaged couple accused of stealing various items from a home they were supposed to be leasing.   The property owner was useless as a witness, as he was an absentee landlord.  His property manager is a glorified cleaning lady who not only isn't certified to serve as a property manager (as required by PA law), she has a criminal record for theft.  She was also a lousy witness, as she didn't seem to remember a key piece of evidence.  The defendant claimed to have bought a tv, washer, and dryer from the owner via the property manager, but the receipt was handwritten by the defendant.  The property manager, upon closer inspection, said the signature on the receipt wasn't hers, but she couldn't remember having seen it before.

Another odd thing was the mysterious missing refrigerator.  It was supposedly in the shed, though there was never any proof that it existed. However, one of the witnesses, a neighbor, claimed to have seen the male defendant loading something that appeared to be a refrigerator in the back of his truck. There were several other items that were never proven to have been on the property, nor was any property ever proven to be in anyone else's possession.

One of the most entertaining aspects of the case was when the female witness testified.  She got rather irritated by the prosecution's cross examination.  When he kept harping on the point about the receipt not appearing legitimate, she took control of the discussion, insisting on giving an explanation when only a yes or no answer was required.  The prosecutor was clearly intimidated, and I kept waiting for the judge to intercede or her lawyer to object to her being "badgered."  As it were, the prosecutor got agitated enough to infer that her mother should testify regarding her honesty, and was shut down by the judge.

The closing statement by the female defendant was amusing, as he compared aspects of this trial to the one in My Cousin Vinny.  I had already drawn the parallels myself, and it was good to be allowed to react to what was said.  It also meant we were closer to finally deliberating. 

Deliberations were brief, as we all readily agreed that the prosecution failed to prove the state's case.  We were all frustrated by this, as we felt that the defendants were definitely guilty of something, as was the property manager (though she wasn't on trial).  I appreciated that the judge took the time to stop in and see us after the verdict was rendered.  She seemed to share our frustration. 
I wonder how long it will be before I get summoned again . . . 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Maternal Musings

Today would have been my mom's 54th birthday.  She's been gone almost a year now, so I didn't think it would hit me this hard.  We had to miss her actual birthday last year, as the Prince's band concert fell on that day.  Instead we visited her a few days before and the day after in the specialized nursing facility (for ventilator patients) that had been her home for three years.  Even though it involved a two-hour drive on a weeknight, I hated that she had to spend her birthday alone.  She didn't get many visitors.   Most of her friends lived two far away to make the trip, and our family is small. 

We brought her cupcakes from a local bakery, and a Duke basketball poster (her favorite team). We showed her photos and videos of the Prince's concert.  She smiled and talked with us (she had to use a special speaking valve to do so), but it was bittersweet.  We all knew her kidneys were beginning to fail, and that this would likely be her last birthday.  We just didn't know that it would be the last time we saw her awake.      

I confess that my mom and I were never very close.  I was a Daddy's Girl until my sister was born (when  I was 5), to whom she related better.  And I was always independent, as was necessary for a girl who lived out in the sticks, had few friends, and a sister who was terminally ill.  My sister, by the way, is despite all odds, 34 now. She's taking graduate school courses, and living in the Southwest. 

At any rate, because my sister lived too far away, caring for our mom fell to me, including the making of life or death decisions.  This was not only difficult emotionally, it was a challenge in general, because my mother stubbornly refused to accept her own mortality.  Ironically, this stubbornness kept her alive for her last three years.  But at some point, her spirit gave way to her failing body. 

She died less than a week after her birthday.  I sat in the ICU for 14 hours, holding her hand and talking to her.  She was heavily sedated, and I don't know whether she heard anything I said.  I am inclined to think she heard some of it, because it seemed she breathed a sigh of relief when we gave consent to turn off the ventilator and told her it was okay to let go.  I will always miss her, though the relief of her being pain free and no longer confined to a bed comforts me.   Happy Birthday, Mom.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bad Omens

As predicted, our government failed to pass a budget, so we're getting hit with sequestration. Now we can kiss any hope of getting that relocation assistance goodbye, and cross our fingers that  my hubby isn't furloughed, which could mean a loss of up to 25%  of his income.  Gee, that won't hurt our buying power for a new house at all (she says, rolling her eyes).  Hopefully, the Great Congressional Pissing Contest won't come to that.  Of course, I'm still not holding my breath. 

At any rate, we dropped the price on our house a week ago, but haven't seen any difference in traffic.  Our selling realtor said that we are just now coming into the heavy buying season, so we'll give it a few more weeks before dropping it again.  I've just about given up hope of being able to move before school is out this year.  The kids are happier with that, but that also means it'll be tougher for them to meet new kids during the summer.  They also won't have time to make friends with which to celebrate their birthdays (which are in early September and October).  Oh well, they'll adjust. 

In an attempt to be helpful, my mother-in-law gave us a statue of St. Joseph to be buried in the yard (upside down) to bring us luck selling the house.  I think it's an old wives' tale, and don't belie1ve it'll do a lick of good.  But we're in dire need of good luck, so I'm not opposed to letting Husband Fixture put it to work.  At least, I had no objections until he dropped it and broke the head off less than ten minutes after bringing it into our house.  While I don't think it'll bring us good luck, I cannot see how that can be anything but a bad omen.  I posted a query to our friends on Facebook, to see what they thought we should do.  The majority of them said we should glue the head back on and bury it anyway, as Hubby wanted to do.  We'll see. 

On the buying side of things, we did submit an offer for the house we want in Maryland.  The owners have been out of the country, so it's taken awhile to get an answer.  Essentially, they agreed to a contingency sale and to helping with the closing costs, but they want almost the listed price.  Husband Fixture wanted to try and nudge them down by a little bit (we initially offered $14K less), but we agreed that we'll accept their counter offer if they won't budge.  We don't want to lose this house, as it's by far the best we've seen at this price point.  I'm just hoping we don't nudge them into thinking they should hold out for other buyers.