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Four… Four Years… Ah, ah, ah, ahhhh

4 YearsI’ve been back now for 4 years.  I have achieved some of my goals.  Not as many as I had planned to achieve by now.  As it is, my original plan for life never did turn out the way I hoped.  Sometimes it feels like I may as well just hang it up and switch to plan B.  Trouble is, I don’t have a plan B.

I’ve admitted my mistakes.  For those, I am sorry.  I know God has forgiven me.  I’m still here when he simply could’ve let me die and be forgotten.  I am truly thankful for that.  I say a prayer every night letting him know just how thankful I am.  I also pray that he bless all the souls, worthy and unworthy in hopes they too appreciate the blessings he’s given onto all of us.

I always made the best of the situations I was presented in my life.  Even when it all fell apart completely and I had nothing left (2011 – 2012).  I didn’t give up.  I put my best foot forward, saved up enough money and got myself back to Michigan.  I’ve reconstructed my life, my credit and I’m still working to be a better man emotionally, physically and financially.  I did it on my own.  Though, I still have some work to do.

If I could go back and change it at the beginning, I would.  I still want to be the Dad I intended to be from the start.  Now also, a grandpa 🙂

I enjoy spending time with my oldest son, and I love spending time with my grandson Noah.  Who is happy to see me and plays with me.  I’m still trying to spend more time with my youngest son and grandson Judah.  I pray that changes soon before my time here is up.

Personal Protection is Expensive

PistolAs many of you know, I recently became a gun owner.  I’m by no means an enthusiast.  I don’t plan to own a bunch of guns and go shooting every weekend.  Though, I have no issues with people owning or using guns for self protection and hunting.  So long as safety is always observed.  I have for a very long time wanted to buy a handgun.  It’s just never been within my top ten things to get next for my life.  That is, not until very recently.

While I would like to think of Northern Lower Michigan as a safe and family friendly corner of the world.  Crime is everywhere.  That and what I have chosen to do for a living has made me a target to be robbed while at work in the evening.  So among some changes I’ve made at work to help cut down on the risk of not only being robbed, but if so; I won’t be held responsible for lost income.

Every major chain I’ve ever worked for has a drop-box system.  After every delivery, the driver is to drop any large bills and credit card slips into a locked box so they are not carrying large amounts of money during their shift.  A drop-box is simply a wall mounted locked box that only the manager can access with a slot to insert bills and slips quickly between delivery runs.  The chain I work for now, has no such device.  That is until today.  I ordered one and will have it installed.  However, that doesn’t help me while I’m still on the road before coming back to the store.

This is where the handgun has become one of the items on top of my list lately.  Sadly these things are not cheap.  Even a budget priced gun has set me back several hundred dollars.  While I would love to have a Glock or other high end brand gun.  I have to start where I can afford.  So after much research and conversations with the folks at Jay’s Sporting Goods, I’ve settled on a Glock-like conceal carry gun.  A Taurus 709 9mm.  It’s not top of the line, but it’s got good reviews for the most part.

Costs so far:

  • Gun – $280
  • Ammo for Sighting and Practice – $14
  • Ammo for CPL Class – $28
  • Ammo for Critical Defense – $19
  • CPL Class – $120
  • CPL License – $105
  • Cleaning Supplies – $26
  • Gun Case (Rug) – $9
  • Safety Glasses and Hearing Protection for Practice – $25
  • Holster – $15

So all in all, I’ve spent $641 dollars.  That’s a lot of money for me.  That’s $31 more than my rent per month.  So yeah, I’m not taking this lightly by any means.  I haven’t even fired it yet.  I need a place to go and get it sighted in before I take the class later this month.  At some point, I’m sure I’ll have to tack on a membership to a shooting range.  Unless I make a friend who also owns guns and lives in the great outdoors.  It’s a shame I don’t live near Amber anymore.  I know she’d want to go shooting with me.

This will not only help protect me while working, but at home as well.  My home has been robbed in the past.  While I was home no less.  Then I had a .22 rifle my step-dad gave me and couldn’t get to it.  A handgun will be much easier to put that kind of nonsense to rest.  Down the road I’ll want to get a nicer conceal carry gun.  Maybe next year.

Aspen Village

ScruffyIt’s been 10 months since I took over the lease of this place.  In two more months I have to decide to renew it or move.  Darla will be moving back to Bay City in February.  I know the rent will go up here, I just don’t know how much for sure yet.  Lots of ifs around here.  I’d like to think the management will want me to renew my lease.  I keep the place spotless, I pay my rent on time (early usually) and I am never the cause of complaints from other people in the neighborhood.  As far as I know that is.  I’m sure about the first two things as the maintenance guy has told me on the two occasions he’s been here how happy they are about these facts.  I keep the grass cut, the snow cleared and the driveway swept up when it’s not raining.  I mean I pay thousands of dollars to live here, I want it to be a nice place to come home to and take care of it.

Like any decently run rental, when I took over the lease; there is two weeks I have to fill out a form about what I find wrong and submit it to be fixed.  Having lived here a year and some months prior to taking over the lease, I already had a list prepared.

Here’s the list I submitted for work requests:

  • Large soft spot in floor by vent in secondary bedroom
  • Huge soft spot in floor left of stove counter
  • Large soft spot left of the front door
  • Bow in big window in living room, bigger in summer (lets in bugs, let’s out heat or cooling) – He put some foam in the space.  Not actually a fix.
  • 2x broken mirrors on closet doors main – More or less a report of it so I don’t get charged for the damage.
  • Exhaust vent over stove, the fan has fallen and now just grinds on the guard when turned on
  • Big soft spot in floor by vent in master bedroom
  • Large soft spot in floor by window in master bedroom
  • Sliding glass door leaks. Left edge – Same foam he used on the window.  Not really a fix.
  • Soft spot in floor, in front of washer

Which means in over two years of being here, these issues still exist.  What annoys me is if they want me to renew, why has the maintenance man only been here twice to work on anything?  Only two of the list items have been “fixed”.  It’s not like I’m the tenant on South Lucy drive that has a pathway in his living room through mountains of garbage, food and cat piss that could cause you to gag while standing on his front porch.  (I have to go there once a week due to my night job.)  Some of the places in the back of the park are beyond gross.  I could see why they don’t do a lot of maintenance back there.  Though I’m surprised they don’t evict many of these people as they abuse the places they live in.

Coming Together

Coming TogetherThings are slowly but every so surely coming together in our home/castle.  It’s not much, but it’s comfortable and we enjoy our time here.  First up is the newest member of the family, Isabel!

She’s about 2 and a half years old.  Hound mix, Schiller Hound perhaps?  It’s hard for me to say.  Her ears don’t match that, but the body shape pretty much seems too.  She’s super friendly and is partially trained.  Can’t sit or stay yet, but does know how to take a walk and comes to her name and understands no and such.  So we’ve got some training to do.

Good lord I need a better camera.

Our place is starting to look more like a home.  No longer are we using the camping chairs.  We have Darla’s couch.  Although I found the camping chairs to be much more comfortable.  And thanks to Vicki, we now have a small kitchen table and chairs 🙂  I’m not a handyman, so likely will never get refinished.  Looking for a 48″ round, fitted tablecloth.  Can’t seem to find any around town, so searching Amazon and such.

Surprisingly that small window AC unit manages to keep this place at a decent temp.  We close off the spare room during the hot months.  Though next year we might get a second one to keep the first from working so hard all the time.  When it’s in the high 80’s and 90’s it struggles some in the afternoon time.

The spare room needs some decorations.  Such as posters.  We’re preparing it for Alexis should she come visit from time to time.  It’s actually hard to find Shinedown or other posters she’d like in podunk nowhere.

I keep the yard looking decent.  For a desert of weeds that is.  The flower garden is done by my mom.  She can’t do it at her new place, so she does it here.  Which is good, as I’d just throw some easy to grow crap in and let nature do the rest.  Darla and I don’t really do gardens.  Next year I hope to get a small gas weed eater.  One thing at a time.  Up next, a new snow blower.  The old one my mom has works decent but it scares me.

Not sure how long we’ll be in this place, but it’s looking like we will renew the lease this winter.  Going to be tough to find anything at the end of January.  Best option we can hope for is to get lucky for a rent-to-own situation.  Long story.   No one really wants to read about that here as it would be in the form of another rant 😉

Edit: The curtains are not ours.  They were left here from the previous tenant.  They will get replaced at some point.

Our First Castle

Our First CastleIt seemed like it would be an eternity before we’d find a place of our own, but now we have.  Darla and I have finally gotten together in our first home (castle).  It’s not exactly what we wanted as far as price and location, but it’s a start.

It’s a lot of long drawn out circumstances, but here we are.  I technically didn’t move at all.  Rather, the person I shared this place with moved out and Darla moved in.

We certainly have a ways to go to get finally settled.  Darla has yet to move all of her stuff from Bay City to Gaylord.  Basically to afford the truck needed, we are waiting on tax returns.  Then we can move her stuff.

So it’s a little bare in here.  No real furniture to speak of and we still have many things we need to acquire to complete our home.  Still we’re making it work rather nicely.  Sure it won’t be easy.

To our family and friends, you are welcome to visit.  Just please call ahead as we both work weird schedules.  Don’t have our numbers?  Ask 🙂

What you see below is what we have going so far.  Don’t mind the camping chairs, they are more comfortable than you’d think 😀

As for that giant Ford double cab truck, that was just a rental truck I had while my car was getting a new oil pan installed.  Only had 821 miles on it when I got it from Enterprise.  Sadly I really didn’t need it 🙁  But in order to have 3 photos on each row, I added it in 😉

Table Manners

Kitchen TableThough generally referring to how you act while at the dinner table.  I’m actually talking about the piece of furniture frequently referred to as the Dinner Table, Dinning Room Table or the Kitchen Table and how it’s become the wasteland of many people’s homes.  I’ll be honest in saying in the past 20 years I’ve spent less time at this table eating than I have cleaning it off of all the crap that gets dumped on it.  Or chasing others to take care of their stuff/mess that’s on it.

For some it’s the place to do bills.  Others it’s the first place to drop off snail mail and stuff that they brought home.  It’s also the staging place for things that have yet to be put away properly and can sit there for sometimes over a month.  In some cases, it’s just never cleaned off from being used for whatever.  Old food, dirty dishes and stuff just laying about on it.  None of which is my doing.  I prefer to keep it cleaned off and used for sitting down to meals.  Which is why when I lived alone, my place was always company ready.  Not just my last place either.  I’ve lived alone before.

In the past it was partially my fault for not running a tighter ship in my previous relationships I suppose.  Or for not choosing a mate who had similar house cleaning skills/habits.  Then again, you get tired of chasing people to take care of things.  When you finally do stop chasing them, things fall to ruin.  There are pictures of this I’d love to show off, but I know that would be mean of me.  Doesn’t help when the other adults are just as guilty as the children in the home.

Which is why I never understood if it was a table passed down from someone like a grand parent, why wouldn’t you make sure it was better taken care of?  If it were from my grand parents and in good or restorable shape, I would have.

Where I live now, the kitchen table is hardly ever used to eat at.  It’s the sewing table, work bench and plant holder.  It’s a damn nice table under all that junk mail and tools.  It’s a shame it’s always so cluttered that I eat in my room.  It’s not my mess on it, so I don’t feel the need to keep it clean.

I can’t wait to have my own place again.  Hopefully big enough to have my own kitchen table.  While I won’t have anyone else at home to make it a mess.  I will be proud to have a clean table to present sit down dinners with family and friends that I invite over 🙂

Miss My Apartment

HomeI wished I had renewed my lease at my apartment.  Sure it was tiny.  But this short stay has become several months too long where I am now.  I was only wanting to be here a couple of months until I found a new place in a different town closer to my kids.  Shortly after I moved out, I got the news that the company was being sold and that I was not to be a part of it when the deal closed.  A few weeks after that, my hours were cut in half.

The upside was that I had over 6 weeks of paid time off built up.  From October to December that managed to cover my missing wages.  If I didn’t love what I do, I’d just hop on the first job that came along, but it’s hard to let go of 11 years of a great job.  So I’m holding on for a bit longer while I try to find a suitable replacement.

However, I miss my freedom.  Sure I can come and go as I please, but I have to rearrange cars to do it.  The driveway is only one car wide, so that’s a pain in the ass. Which limits it to not wanting to wake anyone by borrowing keys, opening and closing car doors at inconvenient hours and such.

I spend 98% of my time here in my room as I don’t get along with the other housemate.  Plus all my stuff is in my room or my bathroom.  It’s very crowded.  Sometimes I will starve myself just to avoid having to deal with them.  Sadly there is no room for a mini fridge or food storage in my section of the house.

When insomnia strikes as it so often does these days.  I have little to do other than write blogs at 4:30am.  Or play games and watch Netflix with headphones on.  Don’t want to make any noise and arouse the angry beast.

What I miss most is playing my drums.  They are in parts in the closet and the rack is by my bed.  I’m not allowed to have them setup.

Looking back I should have renewed my lease.  I could have applied for assistance when the money got tight.  Instead I bought a car that pretty much only goes a few miles in a couple of weeks time.

I also miss taking my summer walks.  But that’s mother nature’s fault.  The bitch.

Why do I want a handgun?

HandgunPeople who see a handgun on my wishlist, almost always ask that question.  It’s fairly obvious from their tone why they ask it too.  I sometimes talk down about myself.  Mostly jokingly.  Sometimes yes, I do feel that life has just gone the wrong way for me.  Yes, I do have anxiety and depression.  Though not enough to feel I need to be medicated for it.  On top of that, I do have heart disease and struggle with medications and doctor bills.

Let me make this abundantly clear.  It’s not for suicide.  Some folks know how I feel about suicide.  I’ll make it public here.  I have absolutely no sympathy for folks who commit or even ponder the option of suicide.  This is from watching people my age when I was in high school do it over bad grades and home stress.  You want to take the easy way out of this world?  Fine.  As far as I’m concerned, get off my planet.  As screwed up as the world is, suicide is not the answer in my opinion.  If you can’t find help, it’s because you aren’t looking hard enough.  Some people have it all and take that method.  Some have nothing and do it.  As a teenager facing the real world knowing that I’d grow apart from my friends, I too was scared.  I wanted the easy way out to not have to face it.  I quickly realized how idiotic it was and came to how I feel now about it.  We all have problems, some way worse than others.  But there are billions of people on this rock, someone is out there for you.  Find them.  Hey, I’m still looking and I’m 45.  So, it might take a while.  Plus, if I’m not mistaken, God kind of frowns on the whole taking your own life.  Although I’m not an expert on that.

The reason I want a handgun is purely for self protection.  This world is nuts sometimes.  You risk your life everyday.  Sniper in Virginia randomly killing folks.  Mass shooting while watching Batman at a theater.  To name two of thousands of incidents from shooting in malls, schools and drive-by killings in America.  Although I don’t plan on carrying a gun everywhere I go just yet.  I personally have been robbed four different times.  I should have owned a gun years ago.  Just they are so damned expensive.  Never been lucky enough to have a relative or friend give me one of their extended collection.

Grayling Michigan in 1990.  Man was high on cocaine and managed to break into our home and spend some time moving things into the yard and trying to hot wire our car.  The wife and I woke up to find him cowering at the foot of our bed.  We managed to jump over him and run out the open front door to the neighbors across the street to call the police.  Needless to say, I don’t sleep naked anymore.  (Although I was much sexier then 🙂 )

Williamsburg Virginia 2008 and 2009.  The first time was someone simply stole my wife’s purse through the kitchen window that was cracked open.  Chase tried to warn us, but we just thought he was barking at the neighbors walking by like he did so often.  The second time we were robbed at that house, we had just left to go somewhere.  When we got back the house had been ransacked and things like jewelry and small, easy to carry things were stolen.  We installed an alarm system, that went off several times after that in other attempts to rob our house.  It was a bad neighborhood.  There’s a reason some folks get stereotyped.

The last time I was robbed was at a mini storage unit.  Which is why I have the wish list in the first place.  I own next to nothing.  What I do own I have insured.  But I want to protect myself and my personal belongings.  As in every single case, the police did little to nothing about it.  Reports were filed, but in the majority of it all.  Very little was recovered and next to nothing was done about it in the way of investigating or punishment.

Ye Olde Beater II

FredTime is running out for me, and I’ve been unsuccessful in finding a new telecommute job.  I’m still looking for a car.  I’m going to have to step up my spending limit on a car before I start eating into my savings after my hours get cut or let go.  A good fallback job for me has always been delivery.  So now I’m going to see if I can find a serviceable car for just under $1000.  Sadly it’s all I’ve got to work with and it would be better if I can stay away from that upper limit as rent will be due soon and thanks to my wonderful job {cough}, health insurance mainly comes out of my pocket now.

It doesn’t need to be pretty but it does need to operate properly from the start.  If it needs tires or mechanical work, I’m gonna have to pass on it.  As it is, it’s going to cost me a load just to have it.  In Virginia, basic insurance for me was roughly $30 a month.  Here that’s a joke.  I guess it’s because of ice and snow.  They must assume that it increases the risk for accidents.  I’m thinking they forgot it’s more the human factor and not so much mother nature.  Unlike some parody video’s I’ve seen about Pure Michigan, we do know how to drive in this stuff and we do it well.  Most of us anyway.  I can attest to that after having dealt with Virginia drivers on snow for years.  Or chauffeuring those who were too scared 😉

So if everyone could please keep an eye out for me for cars you may see listed in the paper, on craigslist or see them for sale in your area; let me know.  I would really like to get one on the road so I can find a part time job by the end of the month.  If you don’t know how to reach me, the easiest way from here is to either call me at the number below (<- click the link) or email me by clicking here.  Although everyone should have my email, phone, IM and such already.  If you do not there must be a reason for it 😈

Ye Olde Beater

Tow MaterFor the last 14 months I haven’t owned a car.  I’ve walked pretty much everywhere.  I’ve carried a Sea Bag of clothes on my back to the laundromat once a week.  Many weeks, I’ve carried my groceries home.  Basically plenty of free exercise.  Part of my get back in health drive.  Though looking back, I’ve owned an insane number of cars.  Current count, 35!  However that’s because the majority of the cars I’ve owned were beaters.  Rusty, dented but serviceable cars or trucks.  Back in my teenage to young man years, you could pick them up cheap.  Apparently today’s definition of cheap isn’t the same as it was then.

As an example, I once bought a 1976 Chevy Nova for $50 from a friend.  The ignition didn’t work, so he was essentially hot wiring it to start it.  I being clever, added two toggle switches.  One for making the ignition system hot, the other for kicking the starter on and off.  I also used 2×4 boards in the rear springs to lift it up level as the rear end sagged.  It wasn’t pretty but lasted me several months.  Many of my cars costs me less than $300.  They lasted anywhere from a few months to a year.

Those days seem to be long gone.  Now anything under $1000 isn’t even drive-able.  At least nothing that I’ve looked at in the past two weeks.

Unfortunately, I find myself in fairly dire need of a car now.  It seems the slow sinking ship that is my job is finally about to capsize.  Since I telecommuted, I didn’t need a car to deal with work.  Now, I’m faced with seeking a job, applying, interviewing and then commuting once again.  Which means I need some wheels and rather soon.

So if anyone has or knows someone with a car they can part with on the cheap that is drive-able, please let me know.

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