A home for me!

Finally, after so many fears, tears and months turned to years, a real home is on the horizon.  The journey to this point has been long and arduous.  I found out a few months ago about a different type of loan available to very low income individuals and the paperwork began again.  Once that was completed, the task of locating a property that would be considered suitable by this agency was begun.  I traveled over 1400 miles to look at different properties, was on the computer night and day for weeks, along with a couple close friends who were trying to help me locate a place that I would like to live as well as one which was acceptable for the loan.  There were so many requirements that the odds seemed insurmountable.  And we were working against a time limit as funding for this loan was to run out on September 21st, after which I would have had to wait until February of 2016 and begin the process all over again.

And then, at the last minute, I called the realtor I had been working with about 200 miles away to ask her if I could go ahead and make an offer on a property I had not seen (other than the pictures on the internet).  She drove to the house and called me as she stood on the deck of the home and told me it was peaceful and adorable and let’s go ahead.  The offer was made on Friday, September 18th and accepted by the sellers on Saturday the 19th.  The paperwork for the loan itself went in first thing on Monday, the 21st, the last day for funding. 

So many thank yous to all of you who helped in any way to make this possible!  I am going to attempt to add a few photos here so you can all see what your kindness to me has accomplished!  I will be moving 173 miles from my children, but  there was nothing closer suitable that I could afford.  It is a 3 hour ride on good roads, so I will be able to see them every couple months. 

The house is set to close on November 23rd, but I am hoping to get early entry and at least move boxes down on November 7th, as we can get some snowy or icy weather later in November.  Again, there are no words to thank you all enough!  This month marks 6 years since my youngest daughter and I drove away from our beautiful little farm.  5 years of sleeping on the couches or floor at the homes of others.  I am grateful to you all.  Heart hugs,   Debi – We’re going home….

My new home
My new home
Decks and back porch
Decks and back porch
Dining room and kitchen
Dining room and kitchen
Kitchen
Kitchen
Living room
Living room
Bath
Bath
Back porch
Back porch
Back yard
Back yard
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Paying it forward, it’s not just words

I am a pretty calm person, avoiding confrontations and situations involving angry people.  But today I got angry.  Really angry.  When I got back to my daughter’s house, I did some heavy physical labor, hefting paving stones and pails of rock.  That helped to work it out.  But I still am ashamed of how people treat each other in this world of ours.

I was waiting in a long line in a Dollar General store as there was only one cash register open.  A gentleman told me to go ahead of him, I said he was there before me, but he just waved me ahead.  Sometimes God puts us where we are needed.

A young couple with a baby was ahead of me in line.  I was busy getting out my own card and juggling my couple items while doing it, so part of the exchange escaped me.  But when I looked up, I saw the cashier looking at the couple with a nasty smirk on her face, then she rolled her eyes and tossed their package back behind her into a cart.

It took me a moment to digest the situation and then I asked her if they had been unable to pay for their item.  It was bathroom tissue they were attempting to buy, but didn’t have the money. She said nope, they can’t get it.   They were near the front door by this time, so  I called out to them to wait, and asked the young man to come back.  I asked him how much he needed, and he said $5.27.  So I opened my purse and got out the money, handed him their toilet tissue, and as he said “thank you” I told him that when he was able, to help someone else. He said “yes, I will.”  They left and I turned to face the cashier.

There was so much I wanted to say.  So many things ran through my mind, but I bit my tongue and paid for my things, turning to once again thank the man who had let me go ahead of him.  All I can hope is that actions spoke louder in that store than words.

But I fumed all the way back to my daughter’s home.  How can people be so heartless and mean to others?  We are all in this world together, and there was no reason to not be kind enough to say I’m sorry to them and quietly and politely put the purchase behind the counter.

We would all do well to remember “but for the grace of God go I”.  An accident, a heart attack, job loss, a business closing, almost anyone could end up in the same situation.  I feel like screaming from the rooftops “don’t look down on ANYONE”.  But on second thought, go ahead, look down, and while you are, hand upoffer a hand up.  End of rant.

International “help me home day”, June 13th

The month of June is, among other things, “rebuild your life” month.   As I write this, a huge event is taking place in Norway to help raise funds for me to get a home.  So many emotions as I sit here in the US on this day –  but as these feelings all rise and ebb, what remains through it all is deepest gratitude – to my dear friend who conceived and engineered this whole event, to her friends and relatives who have spent hour upon hour to help her, to all who donated items, time, their skills.

Five years of sleeping on floors, on couches, clothes carried in the trunk of my car, of infringing on the kindness of others by being in THEIR space all this time – it needs to end.

I am asking anyone who reads here to consider sharing my blogs  – with a link from your page here in word press, on twitter, on facebook.  Any who reads and find it in their hearts and finances to help with even a single dollar, that person will forever be a part of helping this homeless lady to once again have a little place to call home.    Donations can be made through paypal, at 

lifeinthelostlane@yahoo.com

Bless you for taking the time to read.  reinvent

Rough week in the lost lane

A difficult week, to say the least.   Over the weekend, our last chicken from down on the farm passed away.  She was 8 years old and had been showing signs of aging for some time.  For two days I held her in the day, crying my heart out as she could no longer stand or eat or drink.  Nights I wrapped her in a soft blanket in a small dog crate – our other two chickens laying down right next to the bars and crooning to her.  A long and sad vigil.  I miss you, Runaway.

Tuesday while making boiled dinner in a large pot, the ham boiled me.  The photo is of my arm today (Friday).  After freezing it in a pail of ice water for almost two hours and scaring myself silly when my fingers wouldn’t move, the worst of the pain was gone. 

I bought a bag of whole frozen green beans and when I got back to my daughter’s house, most were in the bottom of the grocery bag.  I was going to take them back, but ended up just throwing them out. 

Two days ago I bought a plastic container, got it home and found that the tabs to hold the lid on were already broken.

My computer is Windows Vista, which now appears to be sadly outdated.  I keep getting update notices, but when I try to update I get a message that this system will not support it.  Many things will no longer open or work correctly.  This is not good news.

Little things, the computer mouse battery died and I didn’t have another.  The zipper broke on my jacket.  I washed a sweater and somehow it caught on something and partially unraveled.  It was rather old, but comfortable and I loved it.  The raccoons got into the bags of trash I had wrapped while cleaning up in the barn and spread it all over.  Called another mortgage company to find out if there was any other type of loan available to me to try to get a house.  To no avail.  My youngest daughter is going to have to leave the basement where she is staying soon – she has her horse, our dog and one of our cats and has nowhere to go.  I need a house FAST, but there are none available that the bank will let me have.

Murphy’s law – if it can go wrong, it will go wrong.   Rough week here in the lost lane.

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Can you even imagine?

Can you imagine laying down on a quilt on the floor at 11:30 p.m. only to awaken at 4 a.m. with your pillow soaked with tears?  The small glimmer of hope and determination you have managed to brace yourself with to make it through each day has vanished with sleep, defenses are gone, and the reality takes over in your dreams.  You awaken confused, fearful and hopeless.  Go into the bathroom and quietly cry it out, then lift your chin and vow that today will be the day when something changes, when you or someone you know will finally come up with some way to fix this depressing situation.  Lord, please.

Can you imagine after months and months of phone calls, payments, paperwork, hunting for forms and statements in the camper and storage unit, trip after trip to banks – FINALLY, you are actually approved for a small mortgage loan.  It’s okay, there are houses a few hours away that are within your limits.  Only to find out in the ensuing months that it was all another dream.  Banks now require homes to be “perfect”, and all you can afford is a fixer-upper. 

Then you find one.  No repairs needed.  It is listed at $31,000.  You can only bid $29,000 as that is the highest amount the bank will lend you.  So you bid, someone else bids $32,000.  Then you find another one.  It is listed at $28,000, with an escrow for repairs of only $800.  You can do this!  But the bank tells you it is a double-wide and FHA will not allow ANY repairs on a double-wide.  On and on, over and over, you watch  the homes go to someone else, or go for $19,000 to an investor as he has cash.  Ten months later, I am no closer to finding a home. 

Or finding one for $15,000 with 8 acres of land, needs a lot of work, but you look at the photos and feel your fingers itching to repair those dilapidated outbuildings and paint those walls.  Cash only.  You have $5,000 saved for closing costs and earnest money.  $15,000 might as well be a million.  I know of no one who can lend me 15 or 20k over 15 years to get a fixer-upper with cash.

Can you imagine your youngest child staying in someone’s basement at a place she can have her horse.  She also has our dog and one of our cats.  She has nowhere else to go and cannot afford to rent elsewhere in this area as rents are very high.  We thought to rent together until I can find us a home, but there is nowhere to rent where we can take our animals.  They are our family.  We cannot abandon them.

Can you imagine calling your dear friend sometimes two or three times a day as the panic and hopelessness once again get a firm grip, the tears begin to leak unbidden, fear wells up threatening to choke you.  A little conversation, laughter, and once again you can make it through the next hours.

Dear friends are trying so desperately to help, it hurts my heart that all their efforts have so far been for nought.  A fundraiser, sending money to buy lottery tickets, writing to tv shows to try to find help for me to get a home; when I feel like giving up they are my cheerleaders.  I spend a week day and night on chip flavors, desperate to come up with one that will be one of the four finalists, with $50,000 (even minus taxes) I can get a home.  Entering the DIY win a home contest, once a day on both sites, maybe my name will be picked.  Dreams, all of it silly dreams, but what else is there?

Homeless on the street or in parking lots, holding signs, saying they are hungry, or trying to get to the next state.  My heart breaks.  A dollar or two, five if I have it.  Bottles of water that are always in my car.  Buying a little bag of dog food in the dollar store for their dog, lunch for others.  I am homeless, yet there are others  worse off than I am.  I cannot drive by or just walk past these people who need help, these brothers and sisters, children, of my heart.  We are all in this together and I must do what little I can.  The pain and fear is mine, mirrored in the eyes of these others who have lost and are searching for a way to survive.

Can you imagine going to a gathering; when it is late and everyone leaves to go home, you drive back to your daughter’s home, get your blankets from your car and slip in quietly to lie down on the floor?  For you have no home to go back to, five years of no place of your own, no bedroom, no private space at all.  But are grateful for the floor, for it is more than some have.

Trying to give my daughter’s family some time of their own in their home, I go to sit on a lawn chair with a book and bottle of water down at the barn.  After an hour or two, I try to think of somewhere I can go, but being ten miles from the nearest town I cannot waste the gas.  Think of taking a walk, but my mishapened, badly bunioned feet will only go so far.  So I sweep and rearrange things in the barn.

Can you imagine being 64, applying for jobs online and in 4 years the only positions that even replied were to sell vacuums door to door and a 3 week part time job for Xmas ?  That you get less than $800 a month on social security, that is all you have to work with, and after helping with electric and food where you are staying, paying your few bills, you can manage to save 100 to 150 a month toward a home, barring an unexpected vet or car repair bill? 

If you have been here, I am so, so sorry.  It is not an easy place to be, or get out of.  If you have not….can you even imagine?cry

Broken heart as I attempt to start over again, August 2010

While cleaning out some documents on my computer, I happened upon the following letter I sent to a couple of my closest friends back in early August of 2010, about a month after arriving here at my daughter’s.  This shows more of my feelings at that time than anything I could write at this later date.

I wish to thank my dear friends in the past difficult months, for caring and giving me help and hope that things could get better. I am eternally grateful to you all. GOOD NEWS: The NCOA (National Council on Aging) FINALLY got ahold of me, and the past week has been a flurry of hunting for paperwork, filling out forms and applications,running for interviews and….I am in a training program for “older” adults (you must be 55 and have no job.) I will be training in a division of the senior care center – with 7 people with dementia. I met them all on Weds., stayed with them during their lunch and rest time after. After a few minutes, most had their eyes closed or were asleep, but one woman was restless. I went over to sit on the floor next to her chair. Her hands were cold, so I covered one with one of mine and held the one nearest me. She squeezed my hand, smiled, and what followed was the most remarkable conversation! These people do not have short-term memory, but remember the most wonderful things from long ago! When it was time for me to leave, I told her I would see her Friday. She lifted my hand to her lips for a gentle kiss. I almost cried, kissed her forehead, and left. It’s only 20 hours or less, dependent on funding, at minimum wage, but I will be earning something and hopefully doing something useful.
Finally, I can do SOMETHING to help my daughter and myself, and perhaps bring a moment of joy to the dear people I will be working with.

I called them OLD, and here I am a few months shy of 60 myself! I did think of these as dear ones as old, for there is so little animation in these souls with dementia. I hope through reading and learning that I can help to see the spark in each that I shared with that one dear lady yesterday.

The main problem with doing this “training” is I cannot receive income from any other source. I was hoping when Walmart hires temps for X-mas that I could work 16 hours there, but it is not allowed. This is considered a training program to help an individual get hired, and if you work at all anywhere else, you are out of the program. This means I am limited to the 14 to 20 hours at minimum wage that I receive through this training.
So I must call Mark in NYC on Monday and tell him I can no longer send the few puzzles they are asking me for. The NCOA has allowed that I can receive the income from the puzzles that remain in Dell’s files as they use them, but cannot generate any more work for them.

To pick up the phone, dial my editor and tell him this…I don’t know if you can imagine the turmoil and stress this causes me. I of course realize the bit I have received now and then from them is less than a pittance, but that is only the monetary viewpoint.
For 27 years, I have been “the puzzle lady”. I was in Who’s Who of American Women for 4 years as the puzzle lady. I lived, ate, breathed “puzzles”. Years ago I took my older three who were then young, lol, swimming….I was at a picnic table while they were in the lake, one eye on them, the other doing puzzles. I took them to parks to play, the puzzles went also. All night marathons filling page after page with pencil puzzles and word games. Creating new ones, filling orders for ones I already was constructing for them. Trial testing the work of other constructors…I’m sure you have seen “Sudoku”. They used to be called “Number Place”, and I alone made by hand every one that appeared in Dell publications.
And with one call, it will be officially over. I have lost my youth, lost my two marriages to alcohol (neither me nor the children could compete with the drink, first love of an alcoholic), lost my home, and now I lose completely my beloved work which has defined me since 1983. This insult added to the injury of losing the home I worked my whole life for is breaking me, I am trying to see around it, but right now it feels like my whole life, my whole ME is gone like a breath on the wind.
All the cliched “it will be okay’s” are for nought at this moment in time, for all that I have worked for since I began at 15 in a dairy, all I have done in these long years, all I have sacrificed and built with my own two hands, all that has defined ME, is gone. I feel as though this phone call that I must make will leave an empty shell of the person I have been.
Yes, I have my children and grandchildren, but I am referring to the personal ME. The puzzles were not just “a job”.
My heart is heavy. I feel so trapped with no way out. I will not be able to even consider getting Meg and me a place to live on the $500 or less I can make a month in the training program and am not allowed to make more. Unless I win the lottery it appears we will spend the afternoons by the old tiny camper and sleep in my daughter’s living room. I don’t know how this happened. My head does, but my heart just doesn’t understand. Tears leak at the oddest moment, unbidden, unstoppable.
Me wouldn’t be so bad. But dragging my daughter through this tears at my very soul. She needs a room, a place to read and think and dream. A place for a few personal things which are sitting in a garage down in Charlotte.
No one has the answers for me, I know. I also am aware there are those who don’t even have a couch to sleep on. But I have always been a doer, and I am helpless to know how to begin again….
Well, thank you for listening to me in my hours of despair. I sincerely am trying to see a small light in this long, dark tunnel.
love you,
Debi

And here at this “training program” I would remain for the next 3 years.HEART

2010 – When a camper is not a home

I had sent the money up for my daughter and her husband to buy a camper that was for sale, so that it would be there when we arrived.  After traveling more than 8 hours with our five cats and dog, we came across the bridge and up the hill to view our purchase.  I was very tired after loading the trailer and the long drive, opened the camper door, stepped inside, then right back out and around to the back side of the truck  where Megan wouldn’t see me and let the tears come.  The enormity of our situation hit me like a ton of bricks. How in the world could the two of us actually LIVE in that tiny space with our cats?  From our farm, to 3 locations in North Carolina and  the few days with the census, to this.  There were no choices, it was all we now had. 

I needn’t have worried about so little space. I turned on the water and we found burst pipes, so out to Lowe’s to buy all the things needed and that problem was repaired.  We were up the road at my oldest daughter’s home for supper and showers, then walked down after dark to lay down with the cats and our dog as they got used to their new surroundings.  It poured that night and Megan woke up at dawn in a puddle of water.  Later that day we coated the roof of the camper. 

That evening my daughter’s husband told us there had been questions about the camper appearing and days later, our arrival.  Covenants on this “island” restrict any mobile homes on lots.  So the trailer became home for the cats, a place for our clothes, and we took up nightly residence on their living room couch and floor. 

A storm on the fourth night we were there blew up the air conditioning unit on top of the camper.  We bought a window model to keep the temp inside under 78  in the hot afternoon sun.

A man from the city with a vacation home in here knew of our situation, and offered us the use of one of the bedrooms with two twins beds on the nights they or their friends were not using it.  So on average 3 nights a week, we would drive down at 11 pm, get our blankets and pajamas from the back of the truck and get to sleep on beds. Up at 7 am, get dressed and carry things back out to the truck. He said he never even knew when we had been there. Gratitude to this kind man and his family.

Clothes, bottles of water, toiletries, blankets and pillows, in and out of the truck, in and out of different homes, eating lunch in the park or down near the camper, suppers with my oldest daughter; this was now our life.  No rooms, no home, nowhere to rest or take a nap.  Through depression, despair, shame, and fear shown a small glimmer of hope.  I would find a way to change this.

The camper, set up and waiting for our arrival in July of 2010.
The camper, set up and waiting for our arrival in July of 2010.
Inside the tiny camper, I took this photo as I stood in the bath.
Inside the tiny camper, I took this photo as I stood in the bath.