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Jan. 13th, 2010

Since Haiti is a poor country, Medecins Sans Frontieres (aka Doctors Without Borders) was already there working on other projects when the earthquake hit. They are already helping the survivors in spite of damage to their hospital and deaths among their personnel. If you're looking for a way to reach out after a tragedy like this, supporting this fine organisation is a good start. http://www.msf.org/

Maker Faire

After having decided to pass on doing Maker Faire this year, I woke up yesterday with an exciting idea. I love to spin yarn. I need to get more regular exercise. Combine the two into a bicycle powered spinning wheel. I've got ideas of several ways it can be done, depending on what parts are easiest to come by.

Does anyone out there have old bicycle or spinning wheel parts you don't need? I'm really kicking myself for not buying the broken spinning wheel I saw in a rummage store in SF over the summer - it was broken in just the perfect ways! I doubt it's still there, but I'll have to run up there soon and see. I just *knew* being sensible was the wrong thing to do :)
Although they've got their own charms, neither LJ nor FB are really meeting my blogging needs, so I'm going to be using my xanga account (ranch101) again. I don't know how much will wind up in each bin, so if you're suddenly feeling cut out of the loop, give me a heads-up, please.
I'm doing reasonably well for the most part, but some days everything just catches up to me.  Tomorrow is supposed to be the day that escrow closes, but as far as I know it's in limbo if not actually cancelled.  The people wanting to buy the ranch have been waiting since they put in their original offer in January.  We keep going around in circles with the three banks: (1) our first mortgage holder Bank#1, a fully owned subsidiary of Bank#2, but definitely not on speaking terms! (2) Bank#2 who holds our second mortgage and (3) the buyers' Bank#3.  If the banks could just get out of the way and let us complete this transaction, it'd be done already!

I think the foreclosure auction is scheduled for next week if the sale that hte banks are doing their best to scuttle doesn't actually go through.  I suppose we could get a real estate lawyer to get that delayed, but at this point, I'm just so very ready to have it all done with, which means I'm not being very sensible on this subject.  Any of you want to buy a lovely ranch (2.8 acres, 3-BR house + studio and outbuildings)?

I've got a ranch-related mystery.  I got email from the guy who's been doing yard maintenance for us.  He'd gone over there Saturday to see when he might need to mow again, and found the pool empty and the pool filter running.  He threw the breakers and emailed me.  I called and talked to the guy who's been taking care of the pool for us.  He'd gone over there as usual last week and found the pool "dry as a bone", in other words drained, probably by being pumped out.  Who did it and why remains a mystery.

Another mystery is why the IRS is upset that my 6 year old didn't file taxes for 2006.  I'm curiously awaiting the papers I'm told by my MIL are going to be sent to me by the broker who handles Nadya's education IRA (and who refuses to discuss the IRS papers with said MIL).  As far as I am aware, that account (started by her grandparents [said MIL] before her first birthday) and the $6 or so from the Tooth Fairy were her total financial empire that year.  Though she and a friend *were* talking about starting a business "blowing bubbles and popping them for money", I don't think that got off the ground.

The roof's leaking.  Third year in a row.  If we can just get through the whole ranch fiasco, maybe we can actually afford to get the roof here replaced.  The people who shingled the roof were idiots.  It's been patched at least three times since we've been here, all in the same section, though not the same place.  With the low slope, it really should have been roll roofing or something like that rather than shingles.  And if they were going to do shingles, they could at least have done them well.  The surprising thing here isn't that the roof's leaking again, it's that it hasn't leaked more. 

I'm glad I cleaned out the gutters and did all the yard cleanup this weekend.  Nothing's plugged (so far) and drainage is good.  With all the wind blowing the leaves out of the trees, it'll likely need repeated, but shouldn't be as big a project the second time.

Season's Greetings

Today's our family's official start of the Holiday season.  It's a cousin's birthday which means we have to get cracking to get ready for Halloween, which means it's practically Nadya's birthday then an Aunt's, which means it's practically Thanksgiving which means we have a *slight* breather before it's Katrina's birthday and the next week is Christmas (and Chanukkah comes somwhere around then as well) (and my Dad's and Grandpa's birthdays) and then it's New Year's Eve/Cousin's birthday, New Year's Day/Aunt's birthday, day after/Cousin's birthday, then my Grandma's and my Mom's birthdays.  I'm pretty sure I've left something(s) out as well.  Lots of fun.  I *like* having a schedule.  I wonder why things are so scrunched together, though.

LambTown Lite

I've decided not to drive over to LambTown today.  The idea of a 2 hour drive (each way) just isn't appealing, especially since I know that I really shouldn't spend money or acquire more fleeces right now.  So instead, I'm going to do fibery things at home.

A long time ago (months?), I washed up the mohair and hair sheep fleece that I was given by the lady who boards my sheep.  I weighed them before washing, and just never got around to weighing them after that - until today.  The figures are:  Mohair: 2 lbs 1/8 oz unwashed, 1 lb 9.5 oz washed;  Barbados: 12 7/8 oz unwashed, 7.25 oz washed.

I have finally started washing some of the wool I sheared in July.  I've got some random weight of Lightning's fleece in sweater bags soaking in 5 gallon buckets of hot soapy water in the bathtub.  It's just about time to drain that water and do a second wash.  When I first put the fleece in, the water immediately turned brown, so I know I have to do at least a second wash and possibly a third.  I think I'll go grab a third bucket to put the fleece in while I'm running water so I don't accidentally felt it...

Another thing on my LambTown Lite agenda is to try to organize my office/craft room so I can actually find things.  Also, perhaps if I know what's in my stash, I'll use them.  I know I have a lot of fleeces in different colors and from different types of sheep.  And other animals.  I want to play with them, and that'll be so much easier if I get organized.  And maybe set up an area where I can safely leave a project out without it getting trashed by two dogs, three cats and a toddler (the older two kids being *reasonably* afraid to mess with Mom's projects).

Rowena's body decided to celebrate the autumnal equinox by starting up with the asthma again.  Whee.  I can't really even tell a difference in the weather to account for it.  Perhaps she has more triggers than just the viruses. 

She's not too bad.  I haven't had to take her to urgent care or anything.  We've done the nebulizer 4 times today.  Right at the end of spring, I spoke to the doctor about changing her medication, so this is the first time we've given it a real trial.  What happened back then was this.  We were giving her albuterol.  And she was getting hyper, aggressive and violent.  It suddenly clicked that I was *avoiding* giving her her medicine unless her breathing was *dire*.  That kind of made things worse, just in a different way than actually giving her the medicine.  The doctor told me there was a similar medicine that's often better tolerated.  It's actually the mirror molecule of the albuterol, if I understood correctly.  So far, so good.  She's hyper, but not agressive or violent.  And it really is easing her breathing.

With any luck, she'll sleep well tonight, and perhaps even sleep past dawn tomorrow.  I can dream anyway.  Toddlers...

Life's Not All Bad

Other than the mortgage fiasco, life's not too bad.  The girls and I are back into a school year schedule.  There has only been one tardy so far.  Nadya and Katrina both have great teachers and are enjoying school.  I'm organizing the Scholastic Book Club orders for both classrooms and it's more of a project than I'd imagined.  But fun.  And a little expensive as in past years I could forget to put my order in in time, and this time I just *know* we're going to find books every month that we just *have* to have.  For example, Nadya's needing more advanced Spanish books.  Katrina can work her way through the basic readers we already have, but she'll want a few books of her very own, too.

My back's getting better again.  I'm adding a tiny bit of exercise in, which will help strengthen it so this minor flare-up stays minor.  Rowena and I have started going to the little park ("Tot Lot" according to the sign :) about 3 short blocks from our house.  She rides her bike there, so I have to scurry a little to keep up with her.  Then she plays in the sand, with the other kids, and on the climbing structure while I sit at the picnic table and crochet. 

I've finished the baby blanket for the school fund-raiser, and I have started an afghan to be made in strips of double-crochet filet.  The yarn is a wildly variegated set of autumnal colors, which makes me think very much of a certain friend.  I don't know whether he'll end up with this blanket or not, though he greatly admired the baby blanket. 

Sunday I had an afternoon off.  I went over to another friend's house and we spent the afternoon being adults rather than parents.  So nice to talk at that level!  Lunch out, an hour spent in an electric massaging recliner, shopping, chatting, just relaxing!

Whee! More Mortgage Fun!

Some of you know we've just entered escrow to sell the ranch (finally!).  The two banks owning our mortgages finally got their act together to agree that the people who put in an offer in January could buy the ranch for less than we owe on it (a "short sale").  They worked out the numbers and the first mortgage would be paid off entirely and the second would take less than is owed:  if they got $X, they'd allow the sale but we'd owe them the balance, and if they got $(X + 30K), they'd not only allow the sale, but would forgive the outstanding balance.  We're pretty sure we can scrape together the $30K.

Well, the universe seems to hate to see me happy.  The bank lending the buyers money did an appraisal of their own and got a value for the ranch that's about $45K less than what our banks got 2 weeks ago.  They're looking to rewrite the offer to be that much less.  MortgageBank#1 couldn't care less as they still get the full amount owed them.  MortgageBank#2 is holding firm to $X and $(X + 30K), meaning in order for us to even close the sale, we have to come up with $45K, and to close the sale and have the outstanding balance forgiven, we have to come up with $75K.  I just don't know if there's any way we can do that.

Man, so F-ing close!  The sale's supposed to be closed by October 14, ahead of the scheduled foreclosure sale (October 24, if I remember). 

I need to schedule a visit to a friend with a very absorbant shirt as I badly need to cry buckets.  Without the kids in tow.  I'm so very tired emotionally of holding everything together in front of them.
Still playing games with the short sale.  Both banks have agreed to let the sale go through.  Bank#1 is getting paid in full.  Bank#2 has come up with 2 figures - one amount is the minimum they need to get to let the short sale go through.  That one is met by both offers.  The second is the amount that they want to get out of the transaction so that they'll forgive the rest of the balance owed.  That's *not* met.  *sigh*  Our realtor talked to both of the other realtors, and neither of the buyers are willing to cough up the difference.  As I understand it, their lenders would probably not agree anyway, as that would then be somewhat above the amount the house can currently be appraised at.  Now we need to try to find some money lying around that we can give Bank#2 to meet that second figure.  Otherwise our options are let the foreclosure sale happen in October (Bank#1 gets whatever proceeds, Bank#2 gets ?what? certainly not what we're currently offering them) or let the short sale happen and continue to get hounded by Bank#2 for the outstanding balance of the mortgage (not for the difference between the two figures, but a much higher amount).  *SIGH*  Can this be over yet?