Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Putting it off

I've been having very mixed emotions and have not been ready to type much about it, but time's gotten away and I'm needing to update here before yet another week has come and gone.

Painful subject, and not entirely wrapped up yet, but the 911 job is no more. It's a letdown and a relief, both, but such time and effort was invested that now it's a big adjustment to find the next step. This is new and I'm still adjusting to the change. And trying to be "grown up" about it all. In spite of myself, there have been tears and somewhat of a letdown.

And there has been a return Home and a savoring of any time I can have here, doing home things I've neglected in the past few months' crazy schedule. I am jealous for my time here...I love making those meals that take time, cost less, and gather everyone to the table for conversation. I've enjoyed reconnecting to my daughter and husband.

The job came to an end just before Rosh Hashanah, and again I found myself unprepared for the High Holy Days. We celebrated quietly with our family and some friends, but no services were in the works this year...not having known our availability due to jobs ahead of time, we made no reservations. A lame excuse, but that's been the case the past two years as well due to job transitions and the unavailability of time off. So...finding myself right at Rosh Hashanah AVAILABLE was new this year, and I really valued the timing of this job transition with the days just in between that and Yom Kippur, which began this past Friday night. The days preceding Yom Kippur are spent in reflection about the past year and about relationships, and are also a time to mend friendships and focus on forgiveness and renewal. On Yom Kippur, we "do business" with the Almighty, being open before Him about the things we've done wrong and determining with Him that we'll keep on the right path in the upcoming months. That's oversimplifying things, but it's a time of humility and recognition of His goodness in correcting us and protecting us.

The reflection came easy, and though I'm skipping over the specifics, the days prior to Yom Kipuur and then the day of Yom Kippur were each meaningful. There is a healing that comes from facing the past year's events, be it successes or failures, and laying it all out on the page (as such) and then gaining some perspective and focus for the days ahead.

Amid all the other emotions, there has been a consistent gratefulness I feel in how He's seen us through this past year, and a gratefulness for the blessings we enjoy on a daily basis. I SEE the bounty, and count every day with my husband and daughter as precious. I just don't take those for granted. We've had health challenges, job challenges, and have steadily kept on toward some of our overarching goals. We're not "there" yet, but despite some setbacks, we're making a real effort to get in shape, keep things simple, reduce our consumption materially, and get out of debt. And to appreciate the moment :)

An update about the land trading:
We did have a firm offer from an investor who has many many properties. He makes his living primarly by owner-financing tracts of land, 5 acres or more, to people who want to live on land that's mostly agricultural. He offers a zero down financing at about 9 or 10%, with the terms being that if the note cannot be maintained, the property reverts right back to him even Steven. He doesn't make his money selling land, but rather from the interest and from the lands being handed back to him during this nationwide housing and economic slump. When we first began talking to him only a couple months ago, there was only one property he had available to discuss with us about trading. Within a period of three or four weeks, he'd been handed back 5 or 6 more of his properties. People had put trailers on them, but couldnt afford to keep up the monthly notes on the land. So they handed the land back to him.

Since he can afford to just re-collect his properties this way, and has enough ready money to pay whatever taxes go along with it, he's in a bargaining position where he doesnt NEED our few vacant residential properties. So his offer to us was for ALL of them at a fraction of what they're worth...at least what they're worth IF properties around here were selling at all. Nothing around here is moving. So we offered to use the tax collector's office assessed value as at least a minimal marker of valuation. Essentially what he offered us was five acres of one of his less desirable properties at prime asking price (i.e. what he could have gotten for it two years ago during the boom) in exchange for J's 2 waterfront and 3 vacant residential lots at their CURRENT COMPS rate. Which is not just a slightly skewed bargain, but is rather a sell-out. We've gone to the table with him several times, but it boils down to the fact that it's to his advantage to be a shrewd businessman, whereas we're just trying to make an even swap. So thus far it's a no go.

More updates:
We've been gathering research on different acution properties in various counties, and this is where I'm able to help out by scouting the official records, tax assessors, and etc sites to help us narrow down any possible targets of interest. We went together for the first time to such an auction...my first time, at least. It was fun, and interesting. Most of the people who showed up knew each other already...they greeted each other by first names and chewed the fat a little prior to bidding time. The bidding process was writing your name on a yellow steno pad, converging on the front steps of the courthouse with other prospective bidders, and paying careful attention to the legal descriptions as the clerk read them aloud to open the bidding. The bids started with the opening bid, minimum bid being the back taxes owed on the property and going upward from there. In researching properties ahead of time, you have to be sure to look up the records and see if there are any outstanding liens, judgements, mortgages, etc...because those pass with the property to whomever is the winning bidder. So you really want to have done your research, because the point is to bid on a property that is unencumbered if the owner doesnt want to redeem it. It's more involved than that, but I'm just learning. My husband is very laid back and follows such things at an easy and steady pace, while for me it's a series of mini-adrenalin surges of possibility. We didn't bid at that auction, but stood back and learned. The bidding on the one property we might have bid on opened at the low opening amount, and two bidders went head-to-head till they reached their financial limit and one of them walked home 5 acres richer. A few back-and-forths, and it was already beyond our limited means just now. But the experience was fun :)

J has agreed that we can expand our geographical search area to include not only Florida, but also Alabama (at my repeated "suggesting" lol). He's since repealed that decision...arghhh :) He needs a hot weather zone for health reasons, and we need for some while longer to be no more than a day's drive to his mother, who is advanced in age.

I have a lot of research to do. I won't detail it here, but it involves gathering the necessary web links and phone numbers of the counties about which we may want to inquire, and compiling a contact list and deciding HOW we can go about trying to secure and acquire land. We both have the urge to find it quickly...enough to support a small flock of sheep and a few cattle, with room for garden and chickens...and us :)

I waffle between frustration that we're not there yet, and happiness that we've made progress in getting out of debt. There is light at the end of the tunnel. We'll just keep on pursuing different fronts of possibility, and hopefully one of them will work out before too long. We're praying during all this...we believe there's a good solution out there that God will help us toward as long as we're doing our part.

OK enough me me me, us us us.

We've reconnected to some folks we'd neglected in our busiest times, and it feels good to catch our breath and think about something and someone besides ourselves and our jobs. And it feels VERY good to be home while I can, and have this time with my hubby and daughter. And to cook homemade meals rather than resort to repeats of drive-through food.

Ricotta-stuffed pasta shells with garlic, chives, tomato sauce and spices and grated parmesan.
Crisp salads with fresh squeezed lemon.
Meatloaf, shredded steamed cabbage, mashed potatoes.
Shepherd's pie.
Beef and cabbage stew.
More fresh salad and lemon, and cucumber.
Hot mugs of tea.
Cold glasses of tea.
Unlimited glasses of cold water.
Beef tips, sauteed vidalia onions and mushrooms, gravy over basmati rice.
More salad. More lemons.
Glasses of cold milk.

I'm going to go with this cooking momentum and keep trying to keep the eating at home rather than out...as long as possible.

We're walking each day, and staying more faithful with maintaining good blood sugars and pressure. This is a GREAT thing!

What's next...maybe getting to a healthier weight?? :) (perk!)

Back later for more...

Thank you for your comments, and sorry again for the delays. The job development sucker-punched me, though I knew something would have to give. Just getting my sea-legs of optimism back in place...it takes me a little time to suck it up and be a big girl about these things sometimes :)

Shalom for now