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The BOMB

Welcome to the BOMB.



The Blog Of the "Mother" of Bandit.
Bandit is my Hairless Chinese Crested--he's the "normal" one. I, on the other hand, am unrepentantly "pet-crazy." You know the type--the spinster who lives in the haunted house three blocks over with 72 cats...okay, so I don't have 72 cats, and my house isn't haunted--but my dogs wardrobe is better than mine! Need I say more? :~)
I've never been consistant at journaling, so the timing of my blogs will be sporadic at best. I just hope they are as entertaining to you as they are to me; however, be forewarned: Most of my blogs will be about The BaldOne. In spite of his Don King "do," I think he's just as cute as any of the Brothers B!
Now, if I can just remember not to get him wet--or feed him after midnight...

About Me

My photo
My bags are packed and I'm always ready to seek out an adventure with Bandit and Moggy in tow. Bandit is my ten year old Chinese Crested, who I frequently call The Bald One or The BaldOne Boy (like he was one of the Baldwin Brothers). Moggy’s full name is Pip-Moggy. He’s my gansta-resuce kitty. I couldn’t decide between Pip (which are the spots on die and domino tiles) and Moggy (or Moggie when I mistakenly thought he was a she), so I combined the two. Moggy refers to the British term for "cat of unknown parentage .” So in essence, I have an almost bald dog, and I’ve named my cat “Spot.”

Fun Stuff (I'm doing now or have done)

  • Artistic Attempts weekly (alternating between Painting With A Twist, That Art Place, and Peniot's Palette).
  • Bunko with the Belton Bunko Babes monthly.
  • Participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge.
  • Spades and Liverpool Rummy with the Spadetts weekly.
  • The Mighty Texas Dog Walk, Austin (fund raiser for Service Dogs, Inc--they train shelter dogs to be Service Dogs, then give them free of charge to people with disabilities.)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Start-Stop. Start-Stop. Start-Stop.

Start-stop. Start-stop. Start-stop.  That's been my day today. Everything went well at work until I realized I was done and still has a couple of hours to kill. I need to do some education hours so this was perfect. 

Until I attempted to log in to my education account. No matter what I tried, I could not get in. I ended up requesting a new password. Once I successfully accessed my account I started to watch a required video.  It buffered every 7-10 seconds. Did I mention it's a required video?  I gave it three tries. Then I called my supervisor and said, "I'm not doing this."  It's a class they also offer live and in person so she said she would get me (and another coworker experiencing the same difficulties) signed up for the live version next week. That'll work. 

After work I needed to get gas. Of course I picked the pump that clicked off every twenty or thirty cents. I was desperate for gas and had run my card through to fill up, and all the other pumps were two cars deep, so I ended up stop-start, stop-start, stop-start, stopping at $5. It's been decades since I only pumped $5 worth of gas. Of course that was 1977 and it filled up my VW Bug. But at least now I will be able to make a few trips to work and the store. 

While out for dinner I went to the bathroom and washed my hands. Naturally, the dryer I picked had to be held  in the on position with one hand so I could dry the free hand--and then change hands. What's up with all the stop-start, stop-start, stop-start action today?  

In between the times FB has kicked me out today, I've seen a video of a cute little girl putting everything from puppies to baby crocs to sleep within seconds. I'm thinking with my luck tonight I'll be waking up every few minutes or so, which means my sleep could very well be start-stop, start-stop, start-stop. 

I wonder if she makes house calls--I may require her services. :~) 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Not My Plan

Funny how God works sometimes....I started heading toward the HEB checkout closest to the produce department (and my SUV) and one of the ever helpful employees redirected my to an empty express lane--at the far end of the checkout lines. Out of my way, but my knees are still good after my recent steroid shots, so I only grumbled a little bit under my breath.  "Besides," I told myself, "the extra walking is good for me." 

At the HEB checkout I realized I left my wallet in the SUV--parked on the other side of the parking lot.  I left my purchases at the register and took the mini cart to put it away, so another customer would be able to use it--they are always in great demand. Again, I only grumbled a little bit. 

Exiting HEB, by the door closest to the express lane That had been my original destination, I saw only one other mini cart was in the area--and it was turned the "wrong" way.  I grumbled under my breath about inconsiderate people making extra work for the employees by not taking the 2-seconds it would have taken to turn the cart around.  I slid my cart into it and started to turn them both the "right" way when I noticed the other cart had more silver at the handle. 

You guessed it--Someone had left their wallet. 

Turning around, I looked for the owner, but everyone was either male (don't judge my stereotypical thinking--that ladies wallet could have belonged to anyone, but statistically speaking, the odds were better for it belonging to a female), or they were empty-handed and going inside. Again, statistically speaking, the odds were greatest that the person who left their wallet had done so on their way out--likely with hands full of purchases. As quickly as those mini baskets get snapped up, I was sure they had just left. 

My dilemma:  I still needed to make it out to my SUV to get MY wallet, so I could hike back to the far express lane and pay for my stuff--but, If I did that before I turned the wallet in, the owner might walk past me. So, once again, I changed direction and went back inside.  

I found an employee and asked for the Manager (the Service Desk where I normally turn lost objects in was swamped). The employee wanted to know "what department" Manager I wanted. I told her any would do. 

A young man looking to be about 12 years of age (they get younger looking every day) introduced himself as one of the Managers, asked a bunch of questions, and took the wallet. Then, I finally made it to my SUV to get MY wallet and once again trudged back in to pay for my groceries. I grumbled a little bit less because I was doing my good deed. 

The point is, even though it was not MY plan, had I not been directed to the express lane farthest away from my destination, it likely would not have been me that found the wallet. It could have been someone equally as honest--or it could have been someone that would use the situation to their advantage. I will probably never know if the wallet and owner are reunited, and that's okay. 

I did what I was meant to do. 

The bottom line of this afternoons HEB "sermon" is this:  Stop grumbling when your plan and Gods plan don't seem to be the same--God has us in specific places, at specific times, for a reason. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Ambitious Plans: Successes and Failures

I may have been a little bit tired last night. Yesterday I had labs drawn for an appointment next week, saw my Primary Care Physician for an injection in one of my knees (I'll return next week for the other), withdrew money from my Credit Unions to put into my checking account (all different towns--none can do external transfers of finds, got a couple things for my Aunt and Uncle in Houston for an up coming trip, sort of cleaned out my SUV (no vacuuming)--again, in preparation of a trip,  finally exchanged Christmas gifts with a friend (we kept missing each other), checked my overflowing mailbox and mailed a package.  I only had three "to do" items left on my list, and I was ahead of the game, so I splurged and got a much needed pedicure. 

Freshly revived (I took a power nap on the massage chair), with pretty toes, I met a friend and promptly locked myself out of my SUV. By the time she took me home, I retrieved the 2nd set of keys, and we returned to her house to unlock my SIB, I was pressed for time. I realized I would not accomplish the remaining tasks so I chose to get an oil change (same upcoming trip--to visit Mama in Florida). I tried to make it to the Vet  with both boys in tow before they closed. I didn't make it, so we went to eat dinner at Sonic. 

By the time I was getting ready for bed I was walking better thanks to the injection. But in my tired state I looked down and saw a bandaid on my knee and, outloud, I asked myself "What's this?  What happened here?!"  I finally remembered the events of the day then started on Facebook. 

I fell asleep mid-post with all the lights blazing. 

I'd say it would get better, but our Float is retiring, so we will either be working overtime or working harder. I had already decided I would start working overtime to replenish my savings, pay off a loan, and pay off my mortgage--but I really prefer the overtime decision to be MY decision and not a necessity.  Besides, the day after I developed my almost suicidal plan to be debt-free except my new SUV (in a ridiculously short amount of time) the lot I wanted, (where the spec house was to be built) that is my favorite houseplan, sold. And it wasn't to me.   

The plan is to still do overtime, beef up the savings, and pay off the loans, but in a much more realistic (aka less suicidal) pace. 

I pray for open and closed doors when I'm faced with big decisions. So I have a peace that this lot/house is not mine. But I'm still disappointed and trying to wait patiently for Gods better plan. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Short and Sweet: I'm a Genius--Albert Einstein Says So!

Looking through photos on my iPad today I came across a photo of Albert Einstein and a statement attributed to him. I wrote a short post about it on my Facebook page, and I'm reposting it here (kind of backwards from what I usually do).   

Reportedly, Albert Einstein once said, "Everyone is a genius."  I love that. I've not read too much about him; however, what I have read paints him as an encourager. Not someone hogging the limelight.  

The remainder of his quote is a paraphrase of what I've said about tests. (Tests only test what the test maker wants you to know. In other words, if you know 97% of all there is to know about the subject, but the test only covers the remaining 3%, then it could appear that you don't know the subject.) 

Mr. Einstein said it this way, "If  you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid."  

That's the problem with standardized tests and teaching to the test. 

Don't get me wrong, it's great to have a wide knowledge base of facts, but more important are critical thinking and problem solving skills. These skills can be applied to problems long after the rote memory stuff is forgotten. These are skills students likely won't ask, "Is this going to be on the test?" Or, "When am I going to use this?"  

I don't have a closing.  Just a reminder that I'm a genius. Albert says so, so it must be true!  

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Fever

I am hard hit by fever.  Good health is a blessing I sometimes take for granted. Maybe because I've always been able to continue to work during the few minor adult  illnesses I’ve experienced.  Or maybe because I’ve been blessed with lifelong good health. The only childhood illness I had was a light case of three chicken pox. Yep. Three. The neighbors exposed their kids to me so their kids would also have a light case. My playmates  ended up with horrendous cases—they had pox everywhere, including on their scalps and inside their noses, ears, and mouths.

Every year I get one of two colds: a summer cold or a winter cold. This year I actually ran a low grade temp one day. The hackie cough that has remained is more allergies than anything else. The phlegm is clear and I feel great.  I sometimes sound like death warmed over, but it’s just the sound.

Unfortunately I am currently ill nonetheless—I  now have New House Fever.

It started out innocently enough. I was out and about on a Sunday Drive and I saw a house I liked. It's actually a house I've loved since the first time I saw it decades ago. It was for sale.

Every day after work I drove by it, dreaming of living there. I found photos of its interior online. It looked perfect. Well, perfect, except it was two stories and I'm not sure how much longer my knees are going to allow me to traverse stairs.

Alas, the house soon sold. But the House Bug had bit me. I picked up a Home Buyers Guide and found a house I liked in a good neighborhood. The house is built by a really good local builder, and this particular floorplan, the Bellagio,  is the only floor plan I have never picked to pieces. I think the Bellagio is just about perfect.  Unfortunately, the house is built on a lot in the middle of the block. I prefer corner lots, end of the street lots, cul-de-sac lots—or best of all: country isolation. It’s not that I’m antisocial. Not really. I just don’t like people surrounding me.  I’m the same way in restaurants. I want a table where I can put my back against the wall. Truth be told, it really doesn’t matter that the Bellagio house is in the middle of the block.  It also sold. So I continue to look.

In my travels around town, I came across a subdivision in a location I'm not fond of, but I liked the look of a couple of the houses. I picked up their flier packet and found, much to my amazement, I liked almost ALL of their floor plans (I'm very picky and except for the aforementioned  Bellagio, I rarely find floor plans I like—I always  make major changes to them).  In this packet of 8 or 10 floorplans I found an astounding three of the floor plans I felt were almost perfect as is. And the prices quoted by the builder are reasonable.

Driving through the subdivision I found a couple of their spec houses that were open and I walked through. The quality of materials was not as fine as the ones the Bellagio builder uses (granite, tile that looks like dark wood planks, etc.).   However,  the laminate this builder uses appears to be high quality.  I don’t care for the beige color scheme—I prefer a silvery gray—but paint is an easy fix.  As I walked through the spec houses, I determined the floor plans were two of my three favorites.  Fortuitous.  I can usually visualize from the plans how the flow of the house will go, but I sometimes have a difficult time feeling the space, or lack thereof, until I actually walk through a home.  The rooms in the spec houses felt to be pretty good size. In fact, somewhat larger than some of the higher priced houses I’ve walked through. And for the most part the flow felt “right”—even without my modifications.  These houses had great potential, and I liked their location within the subdivision.

The two spec houses are in a corner with a lot between them. One street abuts an alley (that will eventually turn into an exit from the subdivision making my morning commute to work a breeze, and the other street abutted a small green tree-line and stream—no backyard neighbors).  

Of the two spec houses, my second favorite house sold almost immediately. I wasn't too upset. It had several structural things I would have wanted changed, and although it had a great open floor plan and a kitchen pass through, it did not have the Mother-in-Law plan I am in favor of.  I was also somewhat confused by two hall closets next to each other.  When it sold I was happy for the older couple that bought it. Besides, my favorite house was still available.

For a couple of months now I've driven by my favorite house. It's never been locked, so I've walked inside multiple times. I love so many features I thought it was just about perfect:  huge walk-in pantry, nice sized front porch, two WIC in the master suite, and the list of features I liked continued to grow with each visit. 

Until, during one of my clandestine walk-throughs I realized the living room layout didn't really flow. And then  my,  until now,  dormant critical eye kicked in.  The kitchen is galley rather than a triangular work pattern—and it doesn't open to the living room like my second favorite house that had sold. And then there were  all the pipes and electrical boxes in the side yard.  I would have to screen that from view.   The letdown I felt a few days  later when I saw the sold sign in the window, was mild.  Even though it was no longer my favorite and the living room was awkward, I could have lived in it quite comfortably, had someone not bought it.  But I was okay with someone else buying it. It was not meant to be mine. And then  the rollercoaster ride started.

A week or so later I drove through the subdivision to see what was new. The sold sign was down, but a fence was going up. I thought perhaps the builder was adding the fence  as a selling incentive since it had been "move in ready" for several months that I knew of and still had not sold. That made it more appealing. I could live with the closed galley kitchen.

The day after the fence went up, so did the sold sign—and it did not sell to me.

I went back to studying the house plans again. And as I studied the plans, the house, and the lot with my head rather than my heart, I soon realized this plan really isn’t my favorite after all. I thought my favorite house must have been my original number two house—the  house that already sold.  But I was wrong about that as well.

My actual favorite is the Washington—the plan I originally thought of as my third choice!   As I studied the Washington floor plan I realized the changes I would make to this plan were extremely minor—the direction a few of the closet doors swing needed to be changed and the master suite closet and laundry needed different access, but the new doorways would be on non-load-bearing walls so I wouldn't need structural reinforcements. I began to get excited about the Washington—my third favorite house plan that had jumped into first favorite house plan position.

Every day I drove by the two spec houses, I also saw the empty lot in between them. Out of the blue one day, I realized this lot is my favorite lot in the entire subdivision. It's not exactly country seclusion, but it’s corner position with tree-filled greenspace and stream ensuring no backyard neighbors  is highly desirable—at least to me.

So, of course, the last time  I drove by the lot, I saw there were stakes on it. It appeared  to be sold.  I was bummed.  Until I saw the Dirt Man and asked him about the subdivision.

The Dirt Man told me he has seen the plans for Phase IV and Phase V—and one of them will go directly behind my favorite lot!  On a whim I contacted the builder by email after work.  The next day a salesman replied. He didn’t answer all of my questions but he told me the spec house they are currently putting in on my favorite lot is in fact the Washington!  My favorite plan on my favorite lot. I got goose bumps.  The salesman asked if I would talk to his mortgage girl and I said yes although I’m not in position to be buying another house right now. But I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see what my options are.

According to them I need to sell my current house.

I’m not ready to sell. I’m so close to having it paid off. It’s my safety net. If I lost my job today, my final paycheck of unused annual leave would just about pay it off.  I would have a roof over my head free and clear. I don’t know how long I will be able to manage the stairs, and I think if Mama ever had to come live with me, we would kill each other because it’s small and all the bedrooms are next to each other, but it would be paid for.

The Salesman said he put his house on the market at 8am and it was sold by 6pm. I recently had another friend with that very same scenario. It appears to be a strong Sellers Marker. But the difference is both of their homes are move-in ready. Mine is not. It needs plumbing and electrical work at the minimum. I don’t want to give it away for a song. When I sell, I want it to sell for top dollar—and I want to do it when I’m ready—not when someone else tells me I must.

Or, if I rehab it and keep it, I might want it to become my rental property and produces additional retirement  income.

It is my  Safety Net.

I don’t have a second income to rely on. Or an inheritance to look to. Or a lucky set of Lottery Numbers. I have to make my own way.  And right now, with new schools and new road construction in the area, I know by  the time I have it paid for—in 5-7 years if I stay on my current payment plan—the value is going to increase. So I want to keep it. They have indicated there is no way to keep it and get the new house because my Debt to Income (DTI) Ratio is too high.  What they don’t realize is I don’t like to be told I can’t do something.

I’ve crunched the numbers and I think there is a way.  And here is the plan I’ve developed:   

  1. Pay off my TSP Loan (I have two remaining payments).  
  2. Change my TSP Contribution from 15% to 5% (I’ll still receive my Employer Match) and I’ll  have an additional chunk of change.  Not ideal, but my TSP has not been performing of late—in fact, from 12/31/2015 to 01/14/2016 (just two weeks!)  I lost over 15K. I can always add back “catch up” money each year or increase my contributions.
  3. Work 2-3 shifts of overtime every week to earn the money to pay off my current mortgage.  That will only leave me with my SUV Loan. Surely my DTI Ratio will be improved enough.
  4. Pray the builder has a plethora of houses to build that are not on  my lot—so he stays busy and can’t actually start to build my spec house—until I have paid off the current mortgage.
  5. Failing the increased business for the builder, I’ll pray it rains and halts all building until I’m ready to purchase the lot and build.  
  6. Failing all of the above, make my claim on the lot in Phase V when it starts to be developed in 6-8 months (although I don’t think the Phase V lot is going to be as good—the land appears to be slanting downward and, although I know they can fix runoff with proper drainage, why tempt fate?).

So that’s my plan.  I just need to talk it over with the sales guy and mortgage girl to see if they will go along with it.  Selling my Safety Net is the absolute last possibility. At least to my House Fevered way of thinking.  Who knows, after a couple of months of overtime, I might be ready to sell after all.

But then selling  would be my idea.