Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017: Looking Forward

Happy New Year!  Have a safe New Year's Eve.  Wishing you all the best for 2017.

We are staying home tonight.  It is raining, cold and icy.  We have a bottle of bubbly in the fridge and plenty of food, plus we have some interesting stuff to watch on TV later on so ..... for the first time in a long while, we are staying home.  Getting older!! LOL

All of our kids are elsewhere this weekend.  We spent time together over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays but, this year, we didn't plan a big get together (which usually occurs at a restaurant).  It really is time for us to assess our spending and to stick to our final plan of watching where every cent goes ~ if certain expenditures do not really add value to our lives then those expenses really need to be nixed once and for all.

What are our goals for 2017?

1. The spouse's retirement.  2016 was supposed to have been the year that the spouse pulled the plug on full time employment.  He has a high stress government job that he was really hoping to leave behind but certain events came into play and retirement has to be delayed into 2017.  This will, however, be the year that he leaves his job for good.
2. Mortgage balance below $50,000.  The mortgage balance is currently under $57,000, which is a drop from the high of $92,000 in 2013.  We should've done better at paying this balance down but we have had kids in college the entire time, although 2017 represents the final year of college.  3 of our 4 kids have college degrees, the final kid will graduate in less than a year.  All of them have the ability and capacity to be high earners should they choose to work hard, stay on the rails and be smart.
3. Travel.  Two, maybe three, vacations are in the planning stages to visit places we've always wanted to see while we are still young and healthy enough to do so. (AirBnB, self catering, staying with friends/family)  We are planning a trip to the mountains in (perhaps) search of our final home in retirement.  We are planning a trip to New York.  There might be a trip to a foreign land.  I'm afraid that if we don't do these things now, we never will.
4.  RV Living.  Investigate further the plan to sell the house and buy an RV.  This plan remains open ended as certain events have occurred that may make this a non feasible plan.  Stay tuned.
5.  Lose weight.  A necessity for health, wellness and budget.
6.  Eating.  Control grocery/restaurant spending to a specific budget for 3 people. (Under $7500 for 2017)  We consistently spend around $13,000 each year on food but a large chunk of that involves restaurants when we pick up the tab for everyone.  We usually pick up the tab when the event concerns our family members but we need to move away from expensive restaurant celebrations and practice economy instead now.  We will use the 'We are retired and living on a fixed income' excuse readily from this point onward.
7.  Home upgrades.  Install a gas burning fireplace insert in our main family room and improve our house's energy efficiency in time for next winter.  This will also involve a new window installation and the rehanging and weather stripping of our heavy front doors, which have fallen out of alignment.  It has been very cold this year and we need to further upgrade our heating system.
8.  Debt.  Bring all credit card debt to zero within the next 6 months.  We don't have much debt but college expenses have eaten into our coffers and debt is the result.  Thank goodness we are now out of this stage of our lives.  We have given our kids the tools to make good with their lives.  Whether or not they choose to do so is now entirely up to them.  The decisions they make are out of our hands.
9.  PEACE.  Find peace and final closure with my decision to go Zero Contact with my immediate UK family.  Ten years ago, in May 2007, my father ruined an entire vacation here in the US because he didn't like the way he was treated by US Customs officials when he arrived stateside.  I eventually threw him out of my house after 2 weeks of putting up with his abuse.  My mother was collateral damage as she had to leave with him.  It was 4 years before any of us spoke to each other again ~ I was the one to extend the olive branch.  Almost 10 years on from the 2007 fiasco, the exact same scenario played out again recently, this time at my parents' house in the UK.  I was the one who walked out after a week of putting up with my father's belittling, racist, bitter, misogynistic behavior.  Realize, finally, that our relationship will NEVER be good, it will NEVER be normal and it can NEVER be based on respect because I lost respect for the man when I was about 8 years old.  It is so hard to finally face the facts that were there all along because always we hope that things can change and be good.  I have lived my whole life with a lot of guilt, shame, second guessing and emotional damage as a result of childhood abuse.  Continuing the 'work in progress' that is my emotional state into 2017.

Peace on earth.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2017 Food Goals

Thank goodness Christmas is over.  I wasn't feeling it this year at all, given that half the family have been ill and then my uncle suffered a heart attack on Christmas Day.  He survived it but is in the hospital post cardiac surgery.  The minimal decorating that was accomplished here has already been taken down and packed away, three cheers for plastic Christmas trees that fold flat in a box.

There are a number of upheavals occurring within our family at the moment, all as a result of relationships that seem to be generally coming undone.  Long term relationships seem to be failing and that was all too apparent at the family Christmas parties we reluctantly attended.  Never mind turkeys and cake, the air could've been cut with a knife too.  We all have our problems.

I totaled up our yearly spending and was surprised/not surprised to see that we spent $13,000 on food in 2016.  Obviously, we are too indulgent.  Sometimes, we have been too generous.  On those rare occasions that we went to restaurants to celebrate family events, we picked up the tab.  I don't mind picking up the tab but it seems that the people we go out to dinner with never reciprocate and I'm not OK with that any longer.  It's not OK to take us for granted, to assume that we are always going to pay.  Restaurants will be off the menu for the most part in 2017, unless the spouse and I are away on trips.

2017 will be different.  I have been reading other people's blogs and their food spending is practically half of ours.  $7500 seems to be a figure to shoot for so, in 2017, my goal is to stay under $7500.  That gives me a grocery budget of $144 a week, to include Starbucks and restaurants which will now, surely, be nixed because we won't be able to spend on those luxuries.  I think I can make it happen on $144 and will give it a darn good try.

Our other spending for 2016 has been well within limits, no horrible surprises there.  Something has to be done though about the food and the eating.  Smaller portion sizes for sure, less alcohol, better meal planning.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Cheap Xmas: Thinking Ahead

Weight, like credit card debt I have found, is extremely difficult to lose once acquired.  It takes determination, willpower, focus and patience.

My weight is moving downward.  I have recovered from The Virus and I am forging new habits.  Someone once told me that the first 2 weeks of any dietary change involving caloric restriction are the hardest weeks.  I would say that's about right but I had a head start because for the first week of my attempt to reduce caloric intake, I couldn't eat anyway.  Result.  We'll see where this leads.

As for Xmas, this has been the cheapest Xmas I've ever experienced.  I have spent hardly any money at all.  We are partaking in Secret Santa and buying only for the youngest members of the family, as you do.  I set a budget of $100 and stayed within that budget.

I'm using my faithful plastic Xmas tree (which isn't even up yet) and I only sent cards to a handful of people.  I am cooking a light dinner a couple of days before The Day in order to free up everyone to do what they like on Sunday and our Sunday dinner will involve about 4 people max and we'll have chicken.  I just don't want to do another big dinner, truth be told.  The prep and clean up are massive and Thanksgiving Day is enough for me.

I am setting healthy boundaries for myself and I am apologizing to no one.  If I don't want to do something, I won't.  If my gut feeling tells me that something ~ anything ~ is a bad idea, I'm running for the hills.  I don't care who is offended or who cannot/will not understand my position.  Moving forward, my hope is that I can listen to my gut more and have the self confidence to go with what it's telling me.  Many times this past year, for example, I have found myself at social gatherings that my gut told me were a mistake and which indeed did turn out to be events that I wish I'd avoided altogether.  2017 will be my year to start saying NO to anything I think is a bad idea.

And that includes any notion of a return visit to England.  Ain't gonna happen.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Weight Loss & Other Things

Wow.  I can remember many times in the 1990s, and around 2005-2007 and then again a few years ago, when I needed to lose 100 pounds.  Today, I 'only' need to lose 47!  In the not so distant past, such weight loss effort seemed impossible for me without gastric bypass intervention because I needed my food fix, my crutch.  I couldn't stay out of the fridge or pantry.  I actually began to research the procedure in desperation.  I was willing to mutilate my insides with an irreversible surgery to get the weight off.  I was willing to try anything.  Hell, I even tried Fen/Phen!!  My spouse and kids dissuaded me from the gastric bypass route and personally I am glad they did.  Just lately, I have been reading forums full of people who greatly regret having had the surgery, almost all of them suffering unintended side effects such as anorexia and food phobia.  I also discovered that the long term success rate is LESS than 5%!!!

All of my addictions are rooted in the violence of my childhood.  I ate for comfort whenever I could then, and the behavior carried through for decades afterwards.  The full dysfunctional sickness of my UK family has really become very clear to me, clearer than ever.  I have decided to go 'no contact' with my parents, as well as my very damaged sister and her family.  They are no good for me and they never will be.  They are still wallowing over there in the sick dynamics of yore and I'm going to leave them to it.  I don't live like that any more.

I have lost 10 pounds so far this month.  In the first week of December, I weighed 222.  Today, I weigh 212.  The problem is how I did it.  I caught Norovirus a week ago and boy is that virus ever brutal.  I was taken ill last Saturday night after having to go to a fast food chain for dinner.  We'd been out all day, driven 400 miles and there was no way that dinner was going to be cooked at home.  Should've organized things much better but there ya go.  Nowt in life is perfect.  I'm guessing that a sick employee handled my food and voila.  I was the only one who was sickened by the food so I guess that's a positive?

Anyway, I've spent 5 days in bed/sofa, completely unable to eat for 4 of those days.  Agonizing stomach pains, vomiting and all the rest.  Absolutely brutal.  I thought that one of my ribs might be cracked but I'm feeling better so probably not.  Dehydration has been the biggest problem.  By day 3, I was ready to go to the ER with a rapid heart rate (a sign of dehydration) but was able to drink gingerade in small sips, thankfully.  Was able to drink more yesterday and today, drinking even more.  ER trip avoided thus far.

Well, once again, this has cemented my own personal view of eating outside of my own kitchen.  I'm just not doing it anymore AT ALL NO MATTER WHAT.  I will attend functions but I will push food around my plate.  If someone has a birthday or other celebration, I will show up and eat only dry chips with a beer, nothing else.  This latest episode has really taught me a lesson on a couple of fronts.

#1.  One never knows who has handled one's food in these restaurants and what they've done with/to it.  Did the employee wash their hands after going to the bathroom?  There's absolutely no way to say for sure.  So many unknowns.  Too many.

#2.  I EAT TOO MUCH.  WAY TOO MUCH.
Today, I managed 500 calories.  My stomach needed something in it, even though the risk of direct expulsion remains very real.  So, 500 calories is not very much food.  It's a couple of small slices of gluten free toast, a boiled egg, a child's apple sauce serving, a piece of string cheese and 5 smallish dry crackers.  That amount of food is TINY compared to what I usually wolf down.  Now, I know that no one could or should be trying to live on 500 calories.  For my height and frame, I should be eating around 1400 calories when no exercise is involved that day.  If I want to have a splurge, I would need to get on the treadmill or go walking with the crew and burn some extra calories.  Point is, it doesn't take much to reach 1400 calories.  A dinner plate piled high will most definitely exceed my calorie allowance and, despite the fact that I already know this, my powers of denial are strong.  This is why I am clinically obese.

So, 5 days of being unable to eat has been a real eye opener for me.  I believe it is the catalyst that is going to spur me on now and get my head straight with regards to 'curing' my obesity.

One of my kids has moved back home for a while.  Grad school has finished and the ensuing plan is being worked.  With the kid in the house plus the spouse (both of whom eat like horses) I am going to have to be sly and cunning over the following week while I lay the groundwork for my own plan.

What am I on about?

Well, I am going to drag this sickness out for another week, get these two dudes used to the idea that they too are eating too much.  Because what happens around here is that the spouse starts going on about chocolate and cookies or the adult child starts carping on about pizza and then I am screwed.  They are both well over 6 feet in height and can eat far more than I am able to eat.  So, this week they have been watching me eat absolutely nothing and they are starting to think about their own eating habits.

Good!

From my vantage perch on the sofa, I am genuinely shocked at how many extra calories are disappearing into their stomachs and I am NOT being judgmental.  I've consistently been far worse.  It's just an eye opener that has come along at the right time.

So, I'm going to take my time recovering from this virus, not expending too much energy, so that I can get used to the food intake that I'm actually supposed to be consuming.  I'll be planning menus and recipes and working on a daily health plan for the coming year.

I recognized the moment when I beat my hoarding behavior.  I have never and will never return to that behavior again.

I recognized the moment when I finally had all my spending under control.  It has taken me years to control my spending but I am THERE.  Finish Line.  Winner.  Once upon a time, I was a shopaholic with a massive hoard and bankrupt.  I will never return to that way of living again.

Today, I am recognizing the moment that I may have my eating disorder licked (excuse the pun).  I won't be defined by this fat and unhealthy body any longer.

Give me the strength.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday: No Time Like The Present

Yesterday, I visited my son at his apartment and while I was there, a friend of his came over.  She is a Registered Nurse at the local hospital and I've known her for quite a while.  We had our usual chatty exchange and I told her that I was going to make an effort to improve my health over the coming year, in tandem with DD.  You know how it is when you chat, one thing leads into another .... we joked about all the different ways that we've tried to lose weight over the years, some of them silly and others (as it turned out) just plain dangerous.  As usual, Yours Truly's attempts to lose weight definitely veered into dangerous territory when I spent months on the Fen/Phen diet drug combination.  This was 20 years ago and, quite by chance, RN mentioned a patient who had been under her care recently, who had developed heart and lung problems tied to Fen/Phen 20 years later.  As in, the lady was struck down a couple of months ago.  This lady apparently had felt just fine up until September of this year and then, suddenly, dropped like a rock.  She has Pulmonary Hypertension which is an untreatable, ultimately fatal condition caused, the doctors are guessing, by her months spent taking a drug combination that was known to be dangerous but allowed to remain on the market while the drug company responsible dragged their feet in removing it from use.  The FDA eventually stepped in and made the dangers known.

From the internet:
"Fen-Phen – This diet pill makes you feel full and thus considerably reduces your appetite. It also boosts your metabolic rate and thus exceeds energy levels. There are dangers galore with the drug. It contains two already banned substances in Fenfluramine and Phentermine. It causes severe heart ailments, anxiety and high blood pressure. It also has an adverse effect on liver. This is the reason why it is banned."

Just great.  I already knew that these diet drugs had been banned and were dangerous but I had forgotten about the risks involved.  As you do.  Well, I just got a wake up call.

RN told me to watch out for a high pulse rate, as well as high blood pressure, not to mention chest pains.  She said that there is a general feeling of anxiety that goes along with this condition, which would be business as usual for me, but she said that the high pulse rate is the symptom that most people don't realize.  A resting pulse rate of 120+ is a pulse rate in the danger zone.

Needless to say, I have been obsessing over this new clanger and I'll be monitoring my BP, pulse and all the rest of it.  The percentage of users of the Fen/Phen combo who have suffered from heart damage varies widely depending upon the study but I am gathering that the number of those affected ranges between 20-30%.  I can only hope that I'm one of the 70% who will escape long term heart damage.  It's one more thing for me to get my knickers in a twist over.

Yes, I have anxiety issues.  Are they Fen/Phen related?  I don't think so.  I've suffered with anxiety ever since I was a small child.

Am I winded lately?  Yes.  I'm guessing that's because I am 60-70 pounds overweight.

Is my resting pulse rate over 120?  No.  It's usually somewhere in the 80s.

Does my heart feel 'healthy'?  No.  I am short of breath too often these days and I frequently feel palpitations and beat skips.  Often, I feel my heart thumping.

Will I make an appointment with a cardiologist and get an echocardiogram?  Yes, I will.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saturday: Keeping Warm



I'm coming to the realization that I'm not as indefatigable as I once was.  Just lately, I've been a little short of breath and I feel like I'm having heart palpitations.  Google tells me that stress and anxiety are major factors with palpitations, albeit not the only factors of course, so I'm going to go with that diagnosis until/unless I feel that these symptoms are 'more'.

A couple of our aging pets aren't doing well either.  The dog and one of the cats are getting up there in years and showing signs of old animal age.  I hope they'll be around for another few years but that will be the extent of it at best.

It's getting really cold here at night and my house is a barn.  High ceilings, open plan.  I have hung heavy velvet curtains at the door as I always do every winter I've been living here.  Those curtains have really helped to keep the cold out.  The double front doors are heavy wood and original to the house.  I don't want to replace them so I plan to have them rehung and weather stripped in the spring.  There's plenty of life in those doors yet.

At the windows, I have hung thermal black out curtains in a really nice silk wine colored fabric.  The windows have all been replaced but they are big windows, and not the sort of windows one would usually see in the eco friendly houses that are being built these days.  I mean, one might see one double paned picture window in the newer houses but not 4!!  Never mind the huge sliding door that runs along half the back of the house.  I have thermal curtains hung there as well.  Just ordered a new set for the slider (two huge curtain panels) so that I can use the other panels elsewhere around the house.  I cannot keep turning the furnace on, even though it is new and the most energy efficient model on the market.

I sit on the sofa with the spouse, wearing a fleecy robe, a thermal undershirt, socks, wrapped in a blanket.  This house gets cold despite the measures I've taken to try to keep some of the heat in.  Tonight we are below freezing.  At night, we sleep in flannel sheets with a heavy duty duvet on the bed with 2 hot water bottles!  Ever since I read that hairdryers and electric blankets are linked to leukemia, I haven't had those items in the house in years.  I'm sure an electric blanket would be lovely.  But.

In other news, I have decided to downsize Xmas even more than I have already.  I am sending cards to only a handful of friends and family.  I have set a dollar limit on gifts and will not exceed that dollar limit.  Instead of rushing around knackering myself on Xmas Day, making a big dinner for the family, I am organizing the meal for the evening of the 23rd so that everyone can go off and spend Xmas Day how they would like.  They don't need to feel that they have to be here with me and the spouse.  My kids' situations have changed and there are significant others + family to consider now.  Also, I dislike how commercialized Xmas has become and how obligated everyone seems to feel.  Thanksgiving is our big holiday dinner and we're all fine with that.  Another 'big' day just a month following Thanksgiving has become too much for me to take on.  If someone else in the family wants to put on the big dinner that the spouse and I just show up for then that would be super! 

No Bah Humbug here, just reality.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Out of Sight ...

It has been almost 3 months since I returned from the UK.  I haven't spoken to my parents since the fight with my father and my communications with my sister stopped weeks ago.  My mother is in no condition to talk to anyone anymore apparently, but I am receiving updates now and again from other extended family members who are still talking to my father.

I have tried all manner of ways to move beyond the traumatic childhood that I (and my sister) endured.  I harbor a lot of resentment towards all of the extended family members who sat by and allowed my father to abuse us all the way he did.  No one said anything about his behavior then, they aren't saying anything now.  My mother truly has paid the price of being married to an untreated mentally ill man for all these years.  She has become a shell, neglected and allowed to waste away.  Meanwhile, my father plays the role of the martyr, garnering sympathy from anyone who will listen.   No one has any idea of what goes on in that house when my parents are alone together but I have a good idea.  I am hoping that my mother gets placed in a home soon because she'll actually be better off.  That will mean my father will have to part with some of the money that my grandmother left him when she died, even though he would rather my mother died at home to save him money.  He is angry that he might have to spend thousands of pounds on my mother.

I am adopting an 'out of sight, out of mind' approach to my UK 'family'.  Whenever negative thoughts pop into my head, I push them right out again by focusing on the fact that no one from that side of the pond knows what I am up to, how I spend my day, what my moods are like on any given Sunday.  They have no idea whether I'm laughing or crying.  So, I choose to laugh ..... and I have been.

Our Thanksgiving was hilarious.  Different cooks in the kitchen, all giving an opinion as to how the turkey should be cooked, the gravy, the stuffing and so on.  I had my own ideas (naturally) .... the simpler the better.  I managed to talk one of the cooks out of slathering the turkey in some thick butter spread sauce but I didn't succeed in putting an unstuffed turkey in the oven.  I like my roast fowl to be bare of sauces and stuffing .... just the bird.  I add the accompanying dishes after the fact.  I don't like stuffing that has been cooked inside the bird is what it is.  Well, I got outvoted on that one.  The bird was filled with all manner of fruits and vegetables, shoved in the oven for 5+ hours and ....... when it came time to carve, the turkey wasn't cooked!  Everyone was sitting around the table, all the side dishes were hot and ready to eat .....and we had just a couple of slivers of turkey breast to fight over.  The turkey was put back in the oven for 2 more hours and STILL wasn't cooked at the end of it.  I gave up.  I stripped the meat off the carcass and froze it all for future curries.  I figured that the large amount of fruit and veggies that had been placed inside the cavity was responsible for the turkey's lower half not cooking properly and that will never happen again on my watch!  Next time, my NO will mean NO!  The gravy wasn't a big hit either.  All in all, we had a great time but the sheer amount of energy expended on the preparations didn't translate to a stellar end result and I was absolutely exhausted that evening.  Painfully exhausted.

Our Xmas dinner was scaled back years ago.  Two big family dinners in the space of one month became too much for me about 5 years ago and I called 'time' on the whole thing.  We took a vote and decided that Thanksgiving was more important to us, and so Xmas has been reduced to a 'meat loaf and mash' type dinner.  Very low key for us, in keeping with our reduced consumer activities.  Don't get me wrong.  We used to splash out and splurge at Xmas, spending hours in the mall and thousands of dollars on the perfect Xmas Day.  I had decorations for days, piles of wrapped Xmas gifts and tons of food, a complete contrast of how we do It today.  I whittled my Xmas card list down to a handful of people, we draw names for Secret Santa, and there is a set low budget.  The spouse and I did our share for the economy but no more.

My daughter has already begun her year long challenge to get fit.  I will be joining her.  I'm not very good at challenges, I always give up before I really get started but I want to give this one my best shot.  I need to lose at least 70 pounds so that will be my focus, along with setting my weekly grocery budget at $100 and sticking to it.  Food is my last hurdle to overcome.  I've overcome everything else, the hoarding, the crazy spending, the denial, some of the overeating.  The challenge will focus on changing my eating habits and the dependent relationship I have with grub.  Naturally, I'm an emotional over eater and I have already spent some years working on this and so the challenge will force me to make some final necessary changes.

It's never easy to beat an addiction.  When I stopped hoarding, that really brought out some demons and I wonder if I will be able to deal with that again when I'm not able to stuff my feelings down by eating.  We'll see.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sounding Off

Well, I am still here.  I've basically spent the past 2 months beating myself up for being so stupid.  How could I ever have thought that my opinion would have any effect on my father's failure and ineptitude?  It's ridiculous.  My sister wound me up so much regarding my father's neglect of our mother that I was just ready to go for his throat.  My melodramatic, drama queen sister exaggerated the entire situation, dragging me back over to the UK with the thought that my mother was dying.  My mother is 83 years old.  What do we expect?  Of course, she isn't going to live forever but she certainly wasn't in the throes of death, far from it.  Well, mission accomplished, Sis.  You know how much I hate our father and it wasn't a stretch for you and your husband to imagine me going off half cocked.  The only possible motive for this scheme has to be MONEY. 

Still, I blame myself too for being so fucking stupid.  I should never have gone, I should've made my excuses for not going, and I should've just carried on living the life that I had put back together here.  I'm not being selfish, am I?  Both my sister and I suffer from PTSD.  We exhibit that in different ways. I should've recognized that I was getting sucked back in.

Regarding my blood family in the UK, I have made 4 observations:

1.  My sister is not the trustworthy, neutral sibling I thought she was.  I have discovered that she is conniving, unstable and full of a rage which is kept barely under wraps underneath her 'tolerant' attitude.  As soon as my back is turned or I am out the door, my sister starts imagining all sorts of other dialogue in her mind and our detente no longer exists.

2.  There is nothing I can do for my mother even though she asked for my help.  My father is the proverbial narcissist, a sociopath even, and my mum has been trapped in his web for years.  I feel horrible about this situation and feel that I have abandoned her.  My sister tells me that our family is not close and this is why so much of what has happened to our mother flew under her radar.  Oh really?  Are you sure it's not because you just couldn't be bothered?

3.  I haven't had a real relationship with my father, ever.  Maybe when I was a kid we came close a couple of times but the truth is, I have hated the man since I was about 8 years old.  He beat all the love out of us.  I don't care if I never see him again.  He is the source of ALL of my rage.

4.  I am effectively an orphan, with no family left in the UK as of this moment.  My sister and I were regularly abandoned emotionally as kids so I'm used to being frozen out.  After the big fight with my father, I have most definitely been frozen out.  My sister wants whatever money my father has left when both he and my mother are dead so she stopped giving me text updates weeks ago.  She has erased her competition!  Therefore, I have no idea what is going on over there in the UK with regards to health, doctor and hospital appointments, or scheduled surgeries that either of my parents are enduring.  I have no plans to crawl to my sister for information or anything.  I have lived for over 30 years without her input, help or company and I will live another 30.  I hope.

My eating has morphed out of control!  I can't stop it.  Food is my drug.  I stuff my feelings down and then feel shame and guilt at what I am doing to myself.  I cannot keep on like this.  I know that my feelings stem from the chaos of my childhood and those feelings run deep.  I keep setting myself up for anxiety and self loathing and I want it to stop.  I don't have any answers but I feel that my eating habits are becoming as out of control as my hoarding and spending once did, so I must find a solution.

When I stopped hoarding, I focused on the piles of stuff that had accumulated over the years and obsessed over how much money had been wasted.  Therefore, I have spent the past 8 years getting rid of the stuff and building savings.  It took 8 years to get to our present position of solvency.  I don't hoard.  I don't spend.  I'm still a work in progress but I'm winning.

As I've said before, my biggest opponent is ME.  It was drummed into me consistently as a kid that I was greedy, that I ate too much, that I was fat and useless and unlovable.  Especially unlovable.  So now, even now, I am constantly fighting with my poor self image and low self esteem.  I am overweight now, although as a kid and adolescent, I was model thin.

Two of my kids have arrived for Thanksgiving and I am impressed by how much they have grown emotionally over the past year.  They are strong and confident, so different from me despite my years of life experience.

My daughter has advised that I start to really challenge myself in order to break the bad eating habits that I cannot (or will not) shake.  So, I am going to give her advice some thought. 

January 1st 2017 seems like an obvious choice to start a challenge LOL, especially seeing as how we still need to get through Xmas and the New Year's Eve holidays.  I cannot allow myself to continue this negative pattern of thinking because it is dragging me under, so I'll be back with some ideas on how I plan to give my outlook a much needed lift.

I will also focus more on our planned move from house to RV because, after all, that is supposed to be the focus of this blog!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

My Trip to the UK? DISASTROUS

Warning: Rant ahead.

Well, some of us just don't ever learn, do we?  Unlike Einstein, we keep doing the same old shit over and over again, expecting different results.  That is Einstein's definition of insanity.  It is now also MINE.  I am now firmly in the camp of "In future, I will do what is best for ME and not for YOU".  If I don't think it's a good idea to visit, I won't.  If I want to spend the evening at home, I will.

My sibling has spent months telling me what a state our parents are in.  My mother with her alleged dementia, my father with his bad knees/bladder/heart/brain, and the shitty house in which they reside falling down around their ears.  I allowed myself to get hooked and dragged in.  Again.  I am an idiot.

Yes, I visited the UK to investigate my sibling's claims of parental neglect and dire straits.  I stayed in the same house as my parents and barely made it a week.  It was absolute hell.  I couldn't wait to leave and was literally counting the hours until I could leave and come home.  I couldn't stand the level of filth, the spiders, the level of fatherly delusion.

The spouse and I needed WEEKS to recover from this fucking trip: mentally, emotionally, physically, every-which-way.  Way too much went on in the single week that I could bear to be around my father to talk about here.

My father is a sociopath, yet a bit player in the manipulation department, which is surprising for being a sociopath as those types are usually master manipulators.  My mental case father is a small time crook in that department.  I am always 20 paces ahead of him.  One gets programmed that way when life from birth is made up of continuous events that entail dodging a lunatic.  As I found out YET AGAIN, at 78 years of age, my father has yet to evolve beyond racism and misogyny.  I refuse to sit and titter at his stupid jokes like the rest of the family who (a) think they are going to inherit some money and (b) are scared of him.  I am no longer scared of him and I have scruples, dammit.  I also have a lot of rage and hatred when it comes to my sperm donor but I'll try to keep that under control here. 

I have already spent weeks ranting at the spouse regarding my poor lack of judgment and idiocy when it comes to my UK family.  He had already warned me not to visit but I didn't think I was going to encounter the problems I did, in fact, end up encountering.  My father, after all, is an old gimpy geezer who can't run after anyone to beat them up anymore (preferably small children) but try telling him that.  It's all he ever talks about: how he's going to lay out this one and that one; how he's going to 'sort them out'; how 'they' are all going to get a good hiding.  Add in the racist rants and the woman-hating quips and it quickly gets tiring, being in the same room as him.  Being in the same life as him.  The air gets sucked out.

After a week, I was done but, boy, did I go out in spectacular fashion! 

My father has been abusing my mother.  No surprise there.  She has been an abused woman for years.  Not so much physically, but definitely mentally and emotionally.  My father has turned her into a shell of a human being.  There is nothing I can do about it.  He has his hooks into her like a black widow with a fly and it's too late to do anything about that now.  My sibling lives right down the street and has done nothing except sit by and watch my mother's health decline.  Too afraid to challenge our 'father'.

I made the HUGE mistake of staying at my parents' house.  My god.  The walls are black with mold, spider webs are thick everywhere with gigantic spiders in and on them, the bathroom reeked of urine, the house was filthy.  For two nights, the spouse and I slept on filthy pillowcases and sheets, we had no idea the bed hadn't been washed in ..... years?  Add to that the fact that I think my father has been sleeping in the 'guest' bed for months without changing the sheets and you can just imagine the state of it all.  I ended up sneaking out to the laundromat to wash sheets and towels.  The towels!!!  I've never seen anything like it.  My father lied to everyone when he said that the house was ready for us.  I even had to clean the bathroom in secret.

Originally, I wanted to stay in the hotel in town but, against my better judgment, I agreed to stay in that house.  Huge mistake.  To call that house uncomfortable is an understatement.  My parents live the most basic of basic lives in that house.  They wear the same clothes day in and day out, dirty and stained.  My father wears ridiculous dress shoes everywhere he goes, even through the mud.  An old Tshirt tucked into big bellied dress pants with dress shoes.  That's my father.  My poor unfortunate mother just wears the same black pants that I saw her wearing 3 years ago.  Every day.  I bought her some clothes but the last I saw, the bag was thrown into a moldy closet.

My mother has been sick and has been suffering from memory loss which could just be linked to old age.  However, the family keeps talking about putting her in a home which I don't believe is what she needs.  They just want to shunt her off out of it.  I don't agree with it but I have zero power.  I can't change a damn thing.  My father does not give her the medication she needs in a timely manner.  She gets it when he decides to give it to her, if she gets it at all.  When I discovered that she wasn't receiving her medication properly from my father the 'caregiver', I went into orbit.

Cut a long story short, I challenged our father and he came at me squared off like a street brawler.  I thought to myself, take one more step you motherfucker and I will drop you.  Bear in mind that by this time, I had been in the house a week and had had enough of my father's passive aggressive behavior and childish methods of trying to exclude me from conversations.  I had also had enough of listening to him insult my youngest niece's boyfriend whose family is from Bangladesh.  I couldn't take any more.

We yelled at each other.  I realized how much I hated this man and that he is beyond help.  I texted my good friend to come to the house and get us IMMEDIATELY and she was there within 10 minutes.  My sibling, who had just arrived on the scene, was dumbfounded.  We threw our suitcases and belongings into the back of my friend's car and lit out of there as if our asses were on fire.  The toxicity was more than I could bear and it is not a way of life I HAVE TO LIVE ANYMORE THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

The spouse and I ended up in the hotel in town after all.  We stayed there for a week and visited with friends and went sightseeing.  My father, foolishly thinking that we were as boring and as basic as he is, thought that we had changed our plane tickets and left early.  AS IF!!!  No.  We did what we set out to do.  We visited London and went on the London Eye. Went to Cambridge and so on and on.  My best friend rallied and took us to her different haunts and made us dinner night after night, welcomed us into her home like family.  We had a great second half of our trip and laughed and laughed at old times and new jokes.

When the time came, we said our long goodbyes and caught the flight home to Los Angeles.

To my father:  It's sad that a parent is jealous of a child.  I know that you set out right at the very beginning of my childhood to ruin my life because you believe that I ruined yours by being born.  Whether I ruined your life or not does not exclude you from evolving as a person anyway.  I managed it despite being born into this life as your daughter.  You are still the SAME UGLY VIOLENT ABUSIVE PERSON you were decades ago, you haven't changed or evolved ONE BIT.  I, however, HAVE evolved.  I am not the same person I was years ago.  I am happy.  I feel blessed.  I overcame bitterness and regret.  I overcame dysfunctional behaviors and emotions that had been instilled in me by YOU.  Thanks for nothing.

Know now that I rejoice at not having to be in the same country as you.  Know that I thank my lucky stars each and every day that I met my spouse, fell in love with him - a man that you had not yet had a chance to poison - married him and left you behind.  You manage to bring out the very worst in me and I have now finally and fully embraced Einstein's theory on insanity: to do the same things over and over again, expecting a different result IS insane.  And I would be insane to believe that you could be any different than you were, are, and will ever be.  You are stuck there at the end of your life in some shit hole that belongs to someone else.  It is deservedly so.

Therefore, I will never visit you again.  I will never stay in that moldy, smelly, filthy house again.  I have to accept that I will probably never see my mother again in this lifetime, that she will die and I will never get to say a proper goodbye.  You succeeded in your pathetic quest to keep us separated.  I'm not going to go into what will happen here with me when you die 'dad', but I sense that I will truly be free and at peace then.  I don't wish you any harm but I don't wish you good either.  You have reaped what you sowed years ago: a daughter that doesn't want to deal with you at all.  A daughter who is resolved to do the right thing but who knows that there is nothing she can do for you.  You are beyond help and past redemption.

FYI, I am an American citizen who happened to be born in England and who left years ago.  I no longer consider myself to be English.  You have made me want to renounce my origins.  I also cannot and will not identify with a UK family who refuses to do the right thing, who lets you abuse our mother without stepping in just because they want to inherit whatever you leave behind when you die.  This is the same dysfunctional shit I left behind years ago.  I refuse to be dragged back.

I'm done.

Adios.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Vacation Time with My Parents

I've been busy this week packing for our vacation.  We are shoving off for a couple of weeks to the UK.  Yes, I am going to have to deal with my parents, who are both in a bad way with their health and finances, while I am visiting.

I have lost a bit of weight - 15 pounds to be exact.  I'm doing pretty well :)  I conquered my hoarding, conquered my overspending ... and now I'm conquering my overeating.  I keep losing and gaining the same 30 pounds but I am resolved to stop this yo-yo behavior once and for all.

We have some trips planned while we are there, which will not involve my parents because they are literally unable to leave the house.  I will be visiting with old school friends and family I haven't seen for a few years and I will be taking some side trips to London and here and there around the countryside.  Can't wait to see my old mates.

*** ***

I used to blog a lot about my friction filled relationship with my father because that is where I know the seeds of my destructive and addictive behaviors were sown, right there in very early childhood.  I used to live with the sort of abuse that gets people put behind bars today and I lived with it for years.  If I wanted to talk about my childhood in a sense of opportunity cost, I would say without a doubt that the scars from my childhood have cost me plenty of opportunities during my lifetime.  My parents were not well educated and, for years, I lived with the sort of stunted ignorance that comes from the 'we can't afford it' mindset.  There was no attitude of abundance, only of poverty.  That is very damaging to a child's psyche.  There is much that I haven't done and much that I still fail to do ~ but at least I have now allowed myself to be aware of my situation and, as a result, I have made some big improvements to my life and the lives around me.  I accept that I will never be the 'mover and shaker' I might've been.  My children are doing plenty of that on my behalf and it's well enough.

I suffered for years with major anxiety issues that went unaddressed because, to me, my life was 'normal'.  Everyone must've had an upbringing like mine, or so I thought.  It was painful to discover that my belief wasn't necessarily the case.  I didn't really know what constituted a happy family. I suppressed turbulent emotions until I would break out in hives and I would shut down in dread at the first inkling of conflict.  As a result, in my younger years, I just couldn't handle any type of job stress or negative vibes from co-workers.  My inability to function properly cost me jobs and promotions.  I preferred to blend into the background, to not attract attention to myself.  I'm still very much like that.

I'm wading back on to that battlefield next week but my father, the lion, has been hobbled.  His roars no longer scare me and I see him for what he is: older, weaker and somewhat cowed.  I can handle him easily now.  I am more concerned about my mother, whose health has been deteriorating for years with nothing and no one to stop the slide.  It may be too late for her now but I intend to help her as much as I possibly can while I am in the UK.  I'm going to listen to her needs and wants and try to find a middle ground that works with her and my father.  He insists on living in a large house with a very big garden that needs a lot of rehabilitation, but my mother wants something small, modern, confined.  They are both too physically limited now to deal with this sort of 'roughing it' habitation and my father must realize this fact.  He is frequently deluded and unwilling to face real life.

*** ***

Very often, we have to forgive those who trespass against us because, if we don't, we end up losing even more than we've lost already.  I have reached an age and a stage in my life that has caused me to realize that I do not need to hang on to these hurt feelings forever.  In order to grow, I must let those feelings go.  I have really worked on accomplishing the state of mind that I am currently enjoying.  It hasn't been easy, sometimes it has been extremely difficult when that depressive cloud lowers itself over me for a spell, but those spells are few and far between nowadays.  We are making progress.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A 'Cat' Update

I've been catching up on some blog reading this past day or so.  In January 2008, when I began my attempts to straighten out my emotional state once and for all, I would read sites like "The Simple Dollar" and "Get Rich Slowly" and other personal finance oriented sites.  These sites, and particularly the comments that readers would leave, helped me to realize that I was not alone in my financial balls-ups ... and that was a positive boost to my very damaged mindset.  What happened to those original sites, however?  They are no longer the communities they once were, not by a long shot.  Where does everyone go these days to commiserate, learn and share?  Since those sites lost their original voices (and founders?), it seems they've lost their 'heart' too. Oh well.  Life goes on.  Nothing stays the same!

*** *** ***

Cat is back in town, but we don't speak.  We haven't seen her since Thanksgiving 2015, day of the massive and final family blow out which ended with her being locked out of the house in a drugged out state.  I am thankful that we were at least able to get her through her university course of study.  She had been accepted to the top program in her field in the US. The last 2 years of school were HELL but somehow, even though the spouse and I did not attend, she made it to the graduation ceremony, completely alienating the best room mates anyone could hope for along the way.  Another family member did attend the grad ceremony and took pics .... Cat, wearing an ill fitting dress that was better suited for lounging on the sand and totally unsuitable for graduation, performed with desperate happiness for the camera .... clueless as ever.  At least she still has her education .... no one can take that away from her.  A paradox she is, if ever there was one.

Cat has lost a couple of amazing jobs because of her erratic and arrogant behavior.  I guess it makes it easier for us to wash our hands of it all .... it's not as if she is totally on the street with nothing, although she is always just one step away.  I want to believe that she is smart enough to not ever end up on the streets but ... one never knows.  I've seen it happen to other families.  Heck, I've even accompanied friends on trips to the homeless encampments, looking for their missing family member.  I know what it looks like.  I know what it feels like.

I try not to compartmentalize my feelings because that is what got me into a whole world of financial and emotional trouble all those years since early childhood.  When it comes to Cat, however, I compartmentalize.  I shut it out.  I forget about her.  I don't think about her.  I don't worry, I don't lose sleep.  I know that I have tried my best, offered all the help that is needed ...and I have been rejected.  I know that I didn't always handle Cat the way I should have handled her, but I do know that I kept trying, trying, trying to help her.  Better than anyone, I know that a person MUST hit rock bottom before changes can be attempted and accomplished .... one step after the other for the months and years it takes to truly, truly change.  Cat has not yet hit her bottom.

As a result of my choices and behavior at the time (August 1996 to December 1998 in particular, and then the manic free fall from January 1999 to December 2007) I almost died.  I realize that those years were Cat's very formative years and I wonder what damage have I contributed to her instability?  Other family members tell me that Cat was 'wacko' (their words) from about age 5 onward.  Definitely age 6.  I remember her being completely clueless to 'stranger danger' even then.  Nothing we could say would stop her from chatting up total strangers, disappearing into people's houses, roaming off, taking risks, befriending losers.  In the end, we had friends and neighbors helping us to corral her, calling us whenever she just took off and showed up at their houses, just to make sure that we even knew that she had left our home.  Cat's lucky she didn't end up on the 9 o'clock news, another missing child.

I know a lot about Cat and what she's up to right now, courtesy of Instagram mostly.  Her ex-boyfriend posted the most horrible diatribes about her ..... videos of him burning her love notes and the clothing she had bought for him .... smashing the gifts she had given him.  What I don't know is what actually led up to this angry display but I can guess .... Cat moved in with another man for a few months before ending up living in a garage with the latest man, which is where she has been for the past almost 2 months.  Only a matter of time before this living arrangement implodes and Cat moves on yet again.  Is this an unusual end to one of Cat's romantic relationships?  No, unfortunately it is not.  Cat has a number of exes, some of whom have become so angry at being used and abused that many times, the spouse and I have feared for her safety.  She has been threatened, stalked and almost run over by spurned ex-lovers.

Until Cat deals with her drug problem and the long, long line of bad relationships (romantic and otherwise) that she has been engaging in for the past 10 years, I don't see how she is ever going to be able to break this dangerous 'lifestyle'.  I am waiting to see if she has been fired from her lucrative government job .... somehow, despite being on probation and having her hours reduced, she has barely hung on to this job.  She is supposed to return to contract work next week but we'll see.

There is so much more to say about this situation but I'll leave it here for now.  It helps me to get it out of my system and to also leave a record lest I forget some of the details.  We may need the details some day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

New Normals

Stock market is up.  Housing market is up.  At the risk of sounding smug, that is good news for me.  I'll enjoy it while I can because undoubtedly, a bust of some kind looms on the horizon.

We're getting ready for a 3 week vacation and we're doing things slightly differently from here on out.  Our car will be parked at the airport, which will avoid long delays at the airport in waiting for friends/family/shuttle services/rental cars once we return to the US.  I missed a shuttle home one time recently and spent the night on the floor at Los Angeles International.  I'll never do that again.  My plane was late on arrival (11pm) and everything was closed ..... nightmare.  Another time, the shuttle driver drove like a maniac, throwing the van around corners and slamming on the brakes, and the spouse almost puked.  So, for the first time ever, we are splurging a little and parking the car at the airport for the entire time we are gone so that we can drive ourselves home in 'civilized' fashion.

I've prepaid for train travel in the country of our destination.  Apparently, all I have to do is use the credit card at the ticket machines at the station on the other end and hey presto!  Our tickets should print out right there.  It was much cheaper to pay ahead.  Another first.  This had better work.

In other news, bills are paid up on time and pet sitting has been arranged.  I continue to sell stuff on Craigslist and donate to Goodwill.  Even if I don't end up selling the house next spring, I am continuing to move towards a minimalist lifestyle.  I have discovered that I never needed all the crap with which I surrounded myself.  The 'high of the buy' was nothing but an illusion.  It is an illusion.  Sort your emotional baggage out, get healthy, strive to stay on track.  It's hard at first but it does get easier as time goes on and bad habits are replaced with better ones. 

'Normal' gets reset to a new 'normal'.  I continue to work towards a healthier body and mind.  One of the kids went off to medical school almost a month ago and I've lost 10 pounds since.  I've been trying to reset my weight for years and I believe I finally may have this one in the bag too.  I need to get down to around 150 pounds to see where it all sits ..... so that's 70 more pounds to go.  Even though my family is nothing but a big can of worms at times, I will not give in to stress eating any longer.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cleaning and Selling

So.  I have been busy cleaning and photographing clothing, furniture and other items.  I have made a nice sum on Craigslist selling my stuff.  Of the 5 bedrooms, 3 of the closets are completely empty as are the bedrooms, save for the beds and side tables.  Everything else is gone and these items will go too next year, once we are absolutely certain that selling this house is wise.

We are having a few thoughts regarding the house sale.  One of our kids has moved into an incredibly expensive area and the house prices and rents there are sobering.  I don't see how people who are moving to that region today are affording to live there.  Families are doubling up to save money but people are also fleeing the area as well, done in by the high cost of living.

My house is, for all intents and purposes, paid off.  I can take money from our investment account and pay this house off tomorrow.  We are located in a nice neighborhood on a neat and well maintained street.  However, we are also located directly on an earthquake fault line and every so often, the house jumps.  One big earthquake, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of equity could be swallowed up by the ground.  This fact alone should be enough to force the house sale.

The problem is, everywhere we go the house prices and the rents are too high.  I can't imagine that we'd ever be able to afford to buy another house here in California unless it was located out in the boonies and I don't fancy that.  I guess I'm afraid that the RV plan may not work out and I'm going to be sleepless in Seattle, wishing that I had a stable place to call home.

We may rent our house out for a year just to be sure that we'll be OK out on the road, to be sure that this is what we really want.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sunday Evening

I want to post more regularly.  Often, life gets in the way.

Family business has eaten up a whole week but it's all been 'good' business.  One of my adult kids begins medical school tomorrow, hundreds of miles away, so we've been busy sorting stuff, moving stuff, taking care of business.  I spent the weekend with the spouse in the university town in question, but it was more work than play and I'm glad to be home now.

I used to really enjoy blogging but I lost my interest in the process.  I had a lot to get off my chest back then.  These days, my life is linear and planned as opposed to helter skelter and directionless.  It took a long while to get to this stage in my life and I am pleased to say (to those people who may recognize me from my old Quest blog in which I moaned continuously about the sad state of my life and finances) that I let go and let .... my vision clear.

I've had some serious good luck along the way and the spouse and I have built up quite a substantial nest egg.  From once being steps away from the streets, with a young family, in debt, bankrupt, a spendaholic .... we now have options that we have worked hard for.  It has taken almost 8 years to get here, 8 years to change a mind set which is almost right where I need it to be.

I still have serious family problems.  Cat never kicked the drug habit and is estranged from us all.  As I type this, she is living in a garage in the desert, a victim of her own choices, an unwelcome guest for the family who also house her latest bum boyfriend.  I hope that she, like me, will wake up and realize that she MUST change if she is to survive.  Otherwise, I fully anticipate a sad ending to her life. I have advised the spouse to try to prepare for it.  He is the one who will have to make the morgue trip, not I, for it will finish me.  I have put myself back together over the years for the sake of my family and one more traumatic event will blow me apart.  I have made my peace with Cat.  Her erratic behavior proved to be far too much for any of us to handle.  She is probably bipolar but refused treatment, therapy or meds when it was offered to her.  As sad as it is to write, we are all better off with Cat out of our lives ... unless we are truly able to help her.  If she will ALLOW us to help her.  Mental illness SUCKS.

Tomorrow is August 1st.  My plan is to begin to completely clear out and clean up the upstairs part of my house.  I need to go through my closet, sell furniture, paint, clean the bathrooms, clear out all closets and get TOUGH with my stuff.  I don't have much left but still there are remnants from past lives and the things that I love that I never wanted to part with.  I tell myself that it is just stuff, that the memories are not the stuff itself, and that I will not miss it when it's gone because that has absolutely been the case every other time I have donated items.  I don't miss them once they are gone.  Thank goodness for that.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Taking Stock

Day 2

I have spent some time today taking stock of the general state of affairs.

We have a 5 bedroom house with 3 bathrooms and a generous amount of square footage.   The floor plan is open, modern and desirable ..... we are not anticipating any difficulty in selling this place.  I will be hiring an appraiser to give us a proper written report with recommendations because I plan on listing the house for sale myself.  I am a licensed real estate broker so I will put the house up for sale on the local MLS and pay 3% commission to the selling agent, thus saving myself a nice wedge of money.

The house itself is in great shape.  We have made all sorts of improvements and it is a turn key deal.

My goal this week is to empty out the entire upstairs, save for the beds and the linen closets.  I just want to get all the closets in the bedrooms emptied out and the stuff sorted.  I have already started on this project and I am not pleased at the amount of stuff I still have.  The situation is not bad ~ I have certainly seen worse within these 4 walls (and the walls that came before this).  I made a pledge to stop shopping and I have largely stuck to that pledge.  I have still bought more clothes than I can possibly wear and I'm annoyed about that but I have no problem in telling myself that I cannot buy any more.  It will certainly be a waste of money if I do buy more clothing.

All the bedrooms need a complete paint job ~ ceilings, walls and baseboards.  Had I been planning on staying in this house, I would've put laminate flooring in all of the bedrooms but, seeing as how I am selling up, I will put new carpeting throughout instead.

I love this house but I can't stay here in this desert outpost.  It is time to move and time to do something more with our lives before *** CLICHE ALERT!!***  it's too late.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

And So It Begins ..... Under A Cloud Of Smoke


Day 1

It's a very smoky day here in Southern California.  A huge wildfire has been burning out of control for the past 24 hours and the sky is a strange hue of orangish-brown, partially blocking out the sun.  The sun itself looks to be neon orange, a beautiful shade were it not for the cause.  I and my entire family are holed up inside the house with the air conditioner blasting for the first time this summer.  It is 107 degrees outside and we feel as though we are under a heat lamp.  The air is poisonous.

*** *** ***

I have taken some months off blogging.  I used to write at a different blog for a time but then had to go off the radar because my writings were discovered by family members despite my attempts to keep my ramblings private.  Well, here I am again because I want to document this, my final year of living under a roof in a fixed abode.  My spouse and I are going out on the road next year.  We plan to be out for 10 years or more.  Having lived the RV lifestyle some years ago, I am already well aware of what it is that I am getting myself into.  I loved the ease of RV living then, I'm sure I will love it now.

*** *** ***

I plan to document the process of selling off all of our stuff, repairing and cleaning the house, selling the house, and moving the one adult child who still lives with us out and into his own place.  The goal is to be on the road by this same time next year.

Much has happened since the last time I blogged ...... as we move through the course of the next year, I will fill in some blanks.