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Posts Tagged ‘homes’

Cursed?

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 15, 2015

Weird things have been happening to my mother and to us over the past few months. Check it out.

Mom had her taxes done. She owed over $10,000 in taxes! Never owed anything like that in her life. She lives on Social Security, for God’s sake! She wasn’t real happy about that. Then, last week, she backed her car through her garage door and had to have a new garage door put in. To make matters worse, last week she also fell on her driveway and broke her wrist and cut up her arm pretty bad, necessitating stitches. She also thought she had gotten a concussion, but it doesn’t look like it. She’s having a hard time with this, just in terms of getting dressed, etc. Then yesterday, she was sitting in her living room when her neighbor was having a tree cut down and those assholes cut the tree so that it fell right on to her roof! It cut a hole in her roof, knocked down her gutter, and demolished her patio furniture. Sounds like a curse to me….

Then there’s us. I keep having severe insomnia problems. Yesterday morning, I was up at 1:30. This morning, it was 2:30. It gets very tiring. I also still have my head pain. The medication I take for it is only doing a so so job. I’m a little disappointed, especially since we doubled the dose in the hopes of improving its effectiveness. Of course, we got hit with our own tax burden a few months ago. That was an unpleasant surprise. Then there was the Obamacare disaster, when they claimed we hadn’t provided them with requested info — which they had never requested — so they were eliminating various tax subsidies and raising our premiums. They also switched policies on us without telling us, putting us from a no deductible policy to a high deductible policy. Gee, thanks. By this point, however, I was already on Medicare, so I dropped out. But Medicare has its own costs, especially the Part D prescription costs. Last month, I spent over $2,000 on prescriptions! And I don’t have it to spend on that. Then there was the major expense of having a huge dead tree in the back yard cut down, as it was leaning over the house and we were worried it would collapse and demolish the house at any time. That was $2,700. And finally there was this disaster of this past weekend with our worry about the government sticking it to us about the assistance we had received formerly and our now having to pay them back over the next five years. It all really, really sucks.

So do we and Mom need exorcisms? Mom’s a Bible thumper and gets her houses blessed when she moves into them, so I wouldn’t think so with her. I guess these are just unpleasant parts of life. Curses? Probably not, although it sometimes seems that way. I would, however, like to know when life is going to ease up on us. It’s been hard going lately.

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2014 in Review

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2014

At the end of the past two years, I believe, I’ve written about what took place during that year, so I’m doing so again. Here’s the synopsis, as best my memory can recollect.

In January, my mother celebrated her 84th birthday, so we spent a little time with her. The month was otherwise uneventful.

In February, we put our old house on the market and moved to our new house. We’re pretty grateful for the trade. Our old house was in what looked like a nice neighborhood, but it was actually nearly a ghetto. It was very loud and had a lot of crime. Now, we’re up on top of a mountain in a quiet neighborhood with no crime. We feel good about that.

February also saw the death of our beloved cat Toby. He was only six and it didn’t seem fair. He essentially died of kidney failure, although we sadly had to put him to sleep (which seems to me to be a pansy way of saying we killed him). We had him cremated and keep his ashes with my late cat Rocky’s ashes. We still miss Toby a lot.

We also got a membership to a good shooting range in February and have enjoyed that a lot.

March was pretty uneventful.

In April, I got a new car. I traded in my lemon BMW 530i for a 2011 Toyota Camry and couldn’t be happier. I found it on Autotrader at a dealer in Atlanta and went down there, beat someone else coming to buy it — barely — test drove it, and left with it to come home. It’s been a great car.

Sometime around April also saw the return of my head pain that I’ve had since 2010. I have trigeminal neuralgia, so I have to take a lot of pain pills and have had a number of procedures to try and combat it.

Additionally, Gretchen’s birthday is in April, so we went up to Baltimore to celebrate it with her friends and family. We had a very good time. It was great to see everyone and we got to go to an Orioles game, a museum, some good restaurants and even saw some friends in Virginia on the way.

Finally, we celebrated our one year anniversary in April. It was pretty low key, but we had a good time remembering our wedding and honeymoon to the beach the year before.

In May, I got a SCCY CPX-1 9 mm through an online auction site for a very good price and a Beretta PX4 Storm at a gun show. Neither gun has turned out to be my favorite — a Ruger SR9c is — but I was happy to have them. Meanwhile, Gretchen turned out to be a pro with our Marlin .22 rifle.

I believe it was May, too, when Mom moved from here back up to Knoxville, her old home. It was sad to see her go, but it was good for her to be back with her many friends and at her old church, which she had missed. She got a nice one level condo and is living on her own. We do worry about her though.

In June, we thought we had a buyer for our old house, finally. We had had to lower the price three times and it was going for practically nothing. We were about to take an $18,000 loss on it. However, the financing for this buyer fell through, so we were back at square one.

In June, I also had a disability hearing. It was my second time in court for it and I was denied for the fourth time. However, my lawyer appealed. And the judge left open the chance that he might rule in my favor if my orthopedist provided appropriate information.

July was the one year anniversary of my father’s death. That was very sad. We went to visit his gravestone in the cemetery where he’s buried in Knoxville. In July, I also had the first of three neurological procedures for my head pain. It didn’t really work, so that was disappointing.

We also had a new buyer for our old home in July. They were doing FHA financing though, so it would take awhile. They agreed to buy the house at very nearly the price we were asking. The closing was set for October.

I think August was pretty uneventful. I had been doing a lot of traveling back and forth between Chattanooga and Knoxville to help Mom out with things. That got old. We also started looking for a new church, even though I was on the vestry of our old church. It was simply too small and too old. We were the youngest people there and people were dying off and no one new was joining. It was a dying church. So we started going to other Episcopal churches, as well as Methodist and Presbyterian.

In September, I celebrated my 48th birthday and tried not to get too depressed.

During that month, I also had two more surgical procedures for my head pain, but neither helped. It was discouraging.

October came around and the financing for our house’s buyer fell through the day before the closing. We were livid and so were they. However, our realtor worked the phones and found a new lender within two days, so they were approved and a new closing was set for about two weeks away.

I also had my third court hearing for my disability. My lawyers prepared me for disappointment. They said everything would hinge on what the medical expert would say and they didn’t expect much. When the judge started questioning the expert, though, I was shocked to hear him say my back was too bad to work and that, combined with my trigeminal neuralgia and other assorted things, meant I couldn’t work at all. So the judge finally ruled in my favor and I got disability. I was shocked and elated, because I had been trying for this for over three years and now finally I got it.

During this time, my insomnia had gotten worse and I was consistently getting up between 2 and 3:30 AM, which was frustrating.

We did something pretty fun in October. For my birthday, Gretchen got me Penguins tickets to go see them play the Predators in Nashville. So we went up there, went to Bridgestone Arena, which was nice, and saw the Pens win 3-0. It was very fun and we had a great time. We also had a fantastic meal at a nearby restaurant before the game. Oh, and there were a ton of Pens fans there too!

October is also the month for Halloween. We never had kids come to our house at our old place, but we had about 25 kids come to our new house, so we were tickled about that.

In November, we traveled to Saint Simons Island GA, where I used to live, to go to the beach and take a nice vacation. The weather was still good and we had a nice time. We also went to Savannah and Jekyll Island. It was a great vacation.

In November, we also finally sold our old house and with the money I was able to pay off all of my old student loans, which was a sizable sum, so that was great. However, we discovered a water leak in the kitchen the day before the closing. The buyers still bought the home, but we went through a nightmare getting repairs to the floors and cabinets done while these people got impatient waiting to move in. I don’t blame them, but they drove me nuts.

Additionally, we had a new addition to the family this month. Ace, a three month old tabby cat, joined, per Gretchen’s strong wishes. He’s a bundle of energy, but he’s been fun.

This month, in December, I finally got my disability award letter and a lump sum for my back pay. I also got my Medicare card, even though I’m retaining my Obamacare insurance cause it’s frankly better.

We also found a new church we’re joining next week. It’s Rivermont Presbyterian Church, which is a UPUSA church. It’s bigger with more people of all ages and has a number of Sunday Schools to attend, so we’re excited.

We celebrated Christmas last week and had a great holiday season. We sent and got a lot of cards and exchanged some great gifts and had a good time. Of course it’s also bowl month, so that’s good.

In sports, my Steelers have made the playoffs, so I have big hopes for them. My Pirates made the playoffs for the second year in a row, but didn’t get anywhere. There’s always next year, right? My Penguins made the playoffs, but got bounced out in the second round by the Rangers, so that was disappointing. They’re playing now and even though they have a TON of injuries, they’re still having a good season. Meanwhile my Vols made a bowl game for the first time in four years and they’ll be playing Iowa on January 2. I’m hoping for a win.

So, it was an up and down year. I still have head pain. I still have insomnia. Gretchen was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and lupus. That’s bad. But we got a new house, a new car, paid off my student loans, and I got disability, so that’s all good. We’re hoping for a great 2015 and we hope all of you have a great 2015 too. Cheers!

 

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Surgery, Birthdays, Etc.

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 17, 2014

I had another surgery on Monday. A little neurological thing (two actually) called a Gasserian Ganglion Block and a Radiofrequency Ablation. I’ve had them before, so no biggie, right? Wrong. They couldn’t knock me out! The anesthesia wouldn’t work. I laid there for 15 minutes with the anesthesiologist telling me to breathe deeply the whole time and nothing happened. Finally they said that I would have to go through this procedure awake. This procedure involves putting a hole in my face, inserting a long needle, finding a socket in my skull where a tendril of my trigeminal nerve (the biggest nerve in your brain) resides, and then burning the shit out of it. I’m not staying awake for that! Finally the surgeon came in and they asked him and he said under no circumstances was I to be awake — I was to be asleep for the duration. So, it took another five minutes, but I finally went under. And woke up awhile later, good as new. It always takes me a long time for the anesthesia to wear off, so I’m woozy for a few days and tired, but I’m glad to be done with it. I had another one done at the end of July. These are done because I have Trigeminal Neuralgia, an incredibly rare and very painful disease impacting the face. Not much can be done about it. You have to live on Percocets and hope for the best. It gets old. Hopefully these surgeries will help diminish the pain for awhile. How long? Who knows? I’ve had them last as little as 18 days and as long as several months. Someone asked me once why I don’t just get them done every month, but the easy answer to that is they’re not free. They cost thousands and even though insurance covers a good part of that, I still have to pay a chunk and I can’t afford unlimited procedures.

Meanwhile, this coming Friday is my birthday. Normally I’m a little depressed about it, but this year, I’m actually slightly excited — and I don’t know why! Maybe it’s cause it’s not a milestone birthday. My wife is making me a requested lasagna dinner and the next day, we’re going up to Knoxville to hang out with Mom. Apparently I’m getting a couple of presents too.

On a side note, we’ve been trying to sell our old house since February. The first buyer’s credit fell through. We got a second buyer though and things looked good. The house has been off the market the past two months as we headed towards closing — or so we thought. Closing was to have been last Thursday, but Wednesday night, the buyer’s lender said they had to delay it — they were still working through some things. Finally, today, they denied the buyer their preapproved loan. Why? Cause they’re foreigners and they don’t lend money to certain foreigners. WTF??? If that’s the case, why couldn’t they have figured this out in Week 1 and saved us all the hassle??? Why drag us all through this? Now, we’re back at square one and who knows when we’re going to sell this damn house. It’s a real nightmare. I had already turned off all the utilities, so today, I had to turn them back on again, and the gas company charged me a $225 nonrefundable deposit, even though I just terminated my account with them last week and was never late on a bill. Bastards. What a nightmare.

In the meantime, I’ve been sick and I’ve given it to my wife. Nothing too serious, hopefully, but enough to be aggravating. Speaking of the wife, she wants a new cat. The problem is, we don’t know how our current cat, Henry, would get along with one. He’s very territorial. I’d hate to get one and then have to return him a few weeks later. That wouldn’t be good. Not sure what to do. We do miss Toby though and the thought of getting a new cat is attractive….

I guess that’s all for today. Cheers!

 

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Snippets of 2013

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 5, 2014

Last December 31st, I wrote an End of the Year Post where I wrote about highlights (and lowlights) of each month. In fact, I did so for the previous year as well. Well, obviously I didn’t this year. However, I thought I’d take some time to write a few snippets about some things that happened in 2013.

In April, Gretchen and I got married. We had a lovely wedding and an awesome reception attended by a number of close friends and family members. Then we headed for the beach at Gulf Shores, AL, where we had a blast. The weather was perfect, we did a lot of fun things, went over to Pensacola FL for a day trip, and returned home feeling good.

However, on July 28, my father died while mowing my grass, completely unexpectedly. I was at a meeting and had returned home just in time to hear him stop mowing. Minutes later he was on the ground moaning, and as Mom and I tried to give him CPR, he died. Ten minutes after we were at the hospital, the doctor came in with the bad news. It was devastating.

Three days later, our house was broken into while Gretchen was at work and I was on my way home from Knoxville with Mom. These thugs had kicked in our wooden front door and took our big screen tv and my iMac. We felt very victimized and we couldn’t get anyone to come replace the door, so I sat up all night watching the door with my Glock to make sure we weren’t invaded. The next day, we had a metal door installed. Days later, we had an alarm system installed. We felt a lot safer, but not completely safe.

On August 8th, Dad’s funeral was held in Knoxville TN. About 1,000 people attended. I spoke, as did two others. Afterwards, Gretchen, Mom, and I had to stand in a receiving line for about four hours as everyone tried to speak with us. Many of my friends came, even from as far away as Nashville and Virginia, and I didn’t really get a chance to talk to them because we were crushed with people. Family came from all over and that was nice. Sad circumstances, but good to see them.

I spent much of August and September traveling back and forth between Chattanooga and Knoxville with Mom to deal with funeral directors, pastors, financial advisers, lawyers, insurance professionals, and more. Mom has gotten increasingly flustered over the course of the year and relies on me a lot for things that Dad used to do for her, which truthfully doesn’t make me entirely comfortable. But she’s old and lonely and needs help, and I’m the only one there for her, along with Gretchen.

On a different note, I  had only two very minor surgical procedures last year — one in October and one in December, both on my back. I don’t think they’ve helped and am looking at major surgery or living in constant pain. Neither option seems good.

In sports, my Penguins nearly made the Stanley Cup last year and are doing well this year, while my Steelers recovered from a horrible start to nearly make the playoffs. The Pirates did make the playoffs for the first time in 20 years, and the Vols football team had a rough year, but with a new coach and decent recruits, so I have high hopes for the future.

A few months ago, Gretchen joined the bell choir at church, and last month, I was voted onto the Vestry. I am to be installed today. It’s a weighty responsibility and I hope I do well.

A few weeks ago, there was a shooting with a fatality at our only local grocery store about a half mile from us. And there is so much crime in this neighborhood that even though we love this house, we’re looking for a new one in a crime free neighborhood, probably closer to Mom — although she’s thinking about moving back to Knoxville. We have found three good houses so far, with one being on top, so now we have to seriously clean our house and pick it up before we can put it on the market. The main problem is even though we live in a nice middle class neighborhood, the general area isn’t too good and there’s so much crime, that property prices are severely deflated and we’re not bound to get very much for this awesome house and will have to pay a lot more for the next one. That blows.

On an unrelated note, after two months of trying, we were finally able to sign up for Obamacare last month! We’re getting a great deal with Blue Cross with a $1,000 deductible for the both of us and a subsidy, making our payment only $35 a month! That’s sweet. Last week, I paid our first premium. Gretchen’s been without health insurance for over a year and desperately needs to see a doctor, and I’ve been on COBRA, which is about to run out, so we have high hopes for this. The only hitch is that it doesn’t cover all of my meds, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that, but hopefully something will work out.

Finally, on New Year’s Eve, we spent the evening and the night on the Delta Queen riverboat hotel, celebrating with a bunch of people we didn’t know, listening to a covers band that ranged from horrible to decent, depending on the song. We had champagne and kissed at midnight, and we had a good time, although our cabin room was tiny. Heh.

I guess that about covers it. Hopefully 2014 will be a good year. 2010, 2011, and 2012 were horrible years for me, while 2013 was mixed, so I’m hoping 2014 will be the best of the bunch. Cheers!

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