DAY 948 aka 2 1/2 + years in PURGATORY ~ UPDATE on the HOUSE FROM HELL and LIFE

WARNING: THIS IS A LONG POST, BUT THE FINAL POST ON THIS HOUSE FROM HELL

While I was cleaning up the kitchen and dinner dishes recently I realized I’ve been posting quite a few recipes, but have been severely lacking on my actual “writing” about what is going on in our lives. For years I have worked really hard at keeping this an eternally optimistic blog full of grace for the great and wonderful blessings in my life, always trying to live by the old rule, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”BUT, there comes a time to call out the crazy acrimonious instigators and tell it like it is, if for no other reason than to get it out of my head so I can be more at peace.

Well, today is the 2 1/2 year mark (though it feels like 10 years), the house is sold and we are completely packed and CANNOT WAIT to have this horrific experience in our rear view mirror.

You all know my categories for this place,  A HOUSE FROM HELL, REHABBING GRAMS & GRAMPS HOUSE, CHRONICLES OF MY MISGUIDED COUSIN BETH which fit REALLY well, but in the 2+ years since we started this project there are a few tags that could be added that now fit even better like GOLD DIGGING WITCH WITH A GOD COMPLEX, THE FOX IS LOOSE IN THE HEN HOUSE, NO BALLS COUSIN and LOONEY TUNE UNCLE.

ALL of this is so sad to admit, you never want to believe the worst about your own family.  This experience has lent credence to the adage that family isn’t always blood, but those you chose to love. It still baffles me that anyone can turn their back on their family, their own flesh and blood,  for money which is exactly what my uncle did when my aunt passed away and he took up with the apparent GOLD DIGGING WITCH WITH A GOD COMPLEX.

He became an even more arrogant, egotistical and abusive cheating bastard after taking up with her. Almost immediately she had his power of attorney and things took an immediate turn for the worse as they tried to swindle us beyond belief. After hiring an attorney we were able to force the sale, but are still losing a ton money on the deal. My uncle used us and our skills as well as our cash to get the work done on the house and then tried to evict us claiming we had done nothing to better the property.  Fortunately, I kept a chronological progress here on the blog, every receipt to the tune of over $50,000.00 and a detailed log of hours which adds up to over $200,000.00 of labor. So, unfortunately, my blood uncle did swindle us in the end, but worse than that he abused a sacred blood relationship.

The definition of swindle is: swindle – to use unscrupulous trickery or deception to defraud others or cheat someone to obtain money or other assets. 

Many of you remember how disheartened we were when we arrived here to find NOT what we were told, but the HOUSE FROM HELL full of…well just FULL and filthy!  It was a rodent’s dream AND it was a hoarder’s nest. It was full to the rafters and even the rafters were full and so was the backyard and the garage.

The agreement with my uncle was that the house was ours for a discounted price if we came to help clean it out and care for my aunt.   He was offering to help get us back on our feet after the cancer, surgeries, VA claim issues and health issues.  Ironically, if he really loved me he would have never exposed me to this house which ultimately left me with the bacterial infections one after another that culminated in my bypass surgery. Supposedly we were going to use our abilities in the process of helping him and make some money for us too, NOT end up completely upside down and worse off than when we got here both financially and physically not to mention we never even had a chance to work on the VA red tape mess.

Here are the BEFORE and beginning AFTER pictures to refresh your memory

So on to the before and after pictures. Hubby is upset that the before pictures don’t truly show how HORRIBLY DISGUSTING this place really was. I just hope the after pictures show how truly GREAT it is now – it really is turn key now!

MASTER BEDROOM & BATHROOM BEFORE
There was “STUFF” everywhere!  The walls where all stained from who knows what and the carpeting was full of melted wax and cigarette burns even in the closet.  I have to say that my cousin was evidently suffering from some form of mental illness because this is NOT how she was raised!
The picture above is what I got out of the bedroom carpet on the first pass of available floor with my Rainbow Water Vacuum. Disgusting does not begin to describe how it looked or felt.  Below was just one of the cracks to be repaired that was caused by the foundation issues.
The master bathroom didn’t look too bad until you looked close or opened a door and saw all the mold in the wood. So, it ended up getting gutted too. It took me 2 weeks, but I did get the tile clean in the shower, but we still need to find someone to professionally refinish the tile.
MASTER BEDROOM & BATHROOM LATE 2016

Finally a new window and completed bedroom. We used wainscotting floor to ceiling for the new bathroom walls.
SPARE BEDROOM BEFORE
The spare bedroom was stacked to the ceiling with junk!  It also housed much of her “business” food products.  What was the city thinking when they gave her a food license to operate out of this house? Not to mention it is completely against the H.O.A. rules and regulations for this neighborhood. In the photo below the bottom left hand corner was mouse droppings. YUCK!!
SPARE BEDROOM late 2016
 KITCHEN/DINING/LAUNDRY AREA BEFORE
THERE WAS “STUFF” EVERYWHERE.  NOT ONE CABINET WAS CLEAN OR ORGANIZED .
THE CABINET HANDLES THAT WHERE THERE WERE GREASE AND DUST COATED. THE CABINET DOORS WERE HANGING BY A THREAD.

THE REFRIGERATOR WAS FULL OF SPOILED AND SPILLED FOOD, MILDEW AND MOLD – A SERIOUS SCIENCE PROJECT IN THE MAKING AND ONE THAT THIS IMMUNITY CHALLENGED GIRL WAS HAVING NO PART OF.  THE SEAL ON THE REFRIGERATOR DID NOT WORK AND HAD BEEN LEAKING OUT FOR SOME TIME. THE FREEZER WAS ANOTHER ISSUE TRYING TO GET THINGS OUT SINCE THEY HAD FROZEN INTO ONE BIG GLOB BECAUSE OF THE LEAKING SEAL.
This is the pantry floor as clean as it would get!  We scraped off all the linoleum and sanitized the foundation before re-flooring.
BEHIND THESE DOORS (which are off their hinges and just propped there) IS THE LAUNDRY AREA AND ONE OF THE SCARIEST LOOKING AREAS.  THERE WAS A RATS NEST UNDER THE COLLAPSING, NOT TO CODE WATER HEATER base.  THE DRYER WAS NOT VENTED TO THE OUTSIDE AND HAD NOT BEEN FOR SOME TIME AS THE LINT WAS EVERYWHERE AND THE WASHER LEAKED LIKE A SIEVE!

This 10 pound bag of sugar was spilled ALL over a pantry shelf and was one of the biggest sources for the ants, cockroaches and mice.
KITCHEN/DINING/LAUNDRY LATE 2016
STUDIO BEFORE
STUDIO 2017
ATRIUM BEFORE
unfortunately we can’t seem to find the picture that shows this room stacked 10 feet tall of papers, cabinets and “crap” so have to start with this empty picture.
ATRIUM late 2016
FOYER BEFORE
The door would no longer open due to the foundation issues and she used this 24 square feet (8×3) as a “CAT BOX” area.  I hate to admit that this was the MOST disgusting of ALL the house and required several bottles of hydrogen peroxide etcher after we removed the toxic 2 layers of tiles.
FOYER 2017
New floor, new door and new paint are done and looking good. I LOVE how much light the new door lets in.
LIVING ROOM BEFORE
These are cracks, tears and stains in the atrium/living room carpeting.
It took weeks/months to get the living room to this organized point LOL.  Notice the crack near the vent?  It went all the way to the floor and was 3 inches wide.  It is also why we waited over 3 months for the highly recommended dry wall guy that turned out to be a HUGE joke. The picture below is the living room after we finally got it emptied and ready to start painting.
This is one of 3 sections of the living room carpet that had melted candle wax all over it.  She had just arranged the furniture over it.
LIVING ROOM late 2016
We made built in cabinets in the living room to hold things like the DVD player, WiiU, movies and games, etc…
I could not get Whiskey to move so she’s in the picture! There are still many Christmas things sitting around as I get them pack up to put away, but all in all it’s looking good.
SPARE BATH  BEFORE

There was a funky built in area above the tub for linens that needed to be removed and the walls had to be re-done after the 2 layers of wall paper were removed and the wall board was peeling away. 

SPARE BATH 3017
GARAGE  BEFORE
 This was after hubby spent 4 weeks cleaning and and making a path for donation and trash.
GARAGE late 2016
Hubby has done wonders at creating a neat and organized garage!

It took months to get to this freezer and then weeks to get into it.  The key wouldn’t work!  Turns out the seal had failed and there was a HUGE layer of ice sealing it shut.  It then took hubby days to chip away ALL the ice and bag the food that was there. We are SO thankful for our trash guys.  For a case of beer and soda twice a week and some “special” bottles at Christmas they took ALL we gave them.  Way more than they were supposed to or should have.  We thank them for going ABOVE and BEYOND!

ATTIC
From this point in the attic you can turn 3 directions, but they all look about the same.  We got as much stuff out of the attic as the house it seemed. It is now ALMOST empty except for some insulation that needs bagged and the storage boxes I added just around the opening for when we move.
I tried to salvage these globes covered in nicotine and dirt, but in the end it was a lost cause.
JUST A TYPICAL TRASH DAY.  It looked like this, sometimes double this EVERY! trash day (2 times a week) for 9 months!
The wiring had to be all re-done as gramps and possibly Beth’s boyfriend, Tom had done some really scary Mickey Mouse jobs that left us thankful the place hadn’t been burnt to the ground.  We found an awesome Electrician and while Tommy was expensive, he is a Master Electrician and left us with a safe feeling allowing us to sleep at night.

This was the path hubby created through to the back gate.

Did I ever mention that the neighbor next door in a 2 story tried to buy this place because he loved the floor plan, but my uncle wouldn’t sell until the foundation work was done? In ALL honestly this house would still be sitting here in the same condition we found it if we hadn’t come long when we did.  Unfortunately for us it appears my uncle does NOT appreciate any of this. He still wants more money than it was worth and said if he’d realized it’s condition, he would have just dumped it.  If that is the case I have to wonder why he didn’t sell to the next door neighbor to begin with and honestly if he’s going to “DUMP” it why not do so to the people who spent the money for the parts and labor AND did the back breaking work for over a year?

Here are the FINAL AFTER pictures of an empty sold house:

I would like to say I am thankful for this experience and the lessons learned, but I just can’t. I do know grams is no longer turning in her grave over what her son and his daughter allowed her home to become because we have restored it and made it better.  The girl scout in me has taken over though and we are better people for having done the right thing by family and are DEFINITELY leaving it better than we found it.

I can say I am glad it’s over and after taking some serious time to rehab at the gym and in the pool to regain my strength this summer elsewhere, we will move forward to something better FAR FAR AWAY from any influence of my caustic, toxic, back stabbing uncle who gave such a wonderful speech at our first Christmas about how lucky they all were that we came to the rescue when they were in over their heads because of my Aunt’s Alzheimers and dementia after my cousin died and left this place such a shambles.  He went on and on about how he would make it worth our while because he had no real idea what an F***ing Pig his daughter was until we spent months just cleaning out the place to begin this project.  Calling his daughter, my cousin an F***ing pig were his words, not mine, but then he turned around and literally swindled us out of our time, my health, our trust and our money.

My rant is done.  I know Karma and God will take care of the rest.

Moving right along and checking all the boxes ~ literally and figuratively

Things are moving along here and even seem to be dragging a bit at times, but I know they’ll speed up at the end so am glad to have the time to pack properly and patch nail holes, etc… I’m using canned air and dusting everything REALLY well before packing also to make life easier when we finally unpack.

We are at that point of multiple lists and decisions. I have a list of utility companies, insurances, etc… to call and cancel and another list to just change addresses. I’m also sorting (BIG TIME) and amassing ALL the warranty books and such for appliances and things for the new owner to make his life easier.  I’m even including a list of the plumbers, pest control, utility companies and electrician that we used in case he needs anything since they are already familiar with the property.

With knowing that things are going to storage for a period of time, we chose to use ALL new boxes for a couple of reasons. The first being that NEW coordinated boxes are sturdier and stack better for a cross country move and in the storage unit itself. The second being that there isn’t a chance of food stuffs or bugs from older or grocery oriented boxes going with us. We have had to make a couple of boxes to replace boxes that are no longer viable for odd shaped pieces.

We are also wrapping furniture (especially the antiques) in sheets and shrink wrap to protect the woods from dust and drying out too much. Most of the upholstered furniture is being sold or donated as it just doesn’t hold up well in storage.

A LUCKY FIND!

Hubby and I decided to take the day off and just do something fun.  The weather was absolutely beautiful and we decided to go to the zoo.  Unfortunately, the zoo was a poor choice – EVERY school in town had a bus there and there were also strollers everywhere.  Even overflow parking was full, so we decided to just take a drive to a little town we had heard had some good antique stores.

We only went to 2 stores, both of which were multi building large stores.  I found a beautiful cross for cross wall in the first store, but the second store is where I really scored!

We walked in the door and my eye was immediately drawn to a hutch on the right that was filled with exactly what I’ve been looking for. Service for 8 plus some extra pieces totaling 70 pieces total of some original Johnson Bros. Covered Bridge china.  I checked when we got home and to buy the original set if you could even find all the pieces would total nearly a thousand dollars today.  I paid just over $100 for all 70 pieces.  No cracks, chips or discoloration.  Looks like it just came out of grandma’s cabinet.

Years ago I started collecting a few pieces here and there of Johnson Bros. China.  Made in England it is the nice bone style china.  When we were first starting out there wasn’t much money for the whole set and by the time there was, it was hard to find and really expensive.  And the bonus today was that none of these pieces are pieces I already have! There are some made in China reproductions available, but they are just not the same and I feel very fortunate to have completed my set today.

AN ADVENTURE – THE HARD WAY

Life has been so topsy turvy lately and we both just needed a break.  We decided to take a day and visit a favorite park of ours, Brazos Bend State Park.

There is a don’t touch or pester the alligators rule and as long as everyone behaves there are no issues seeing the alligators via their natural habitat.  They are not caged or fenced and people just know to leave them alone and enjoy the park.  There are also several wonderful birds, turtles and old mossy trees to enjoy making this a truly unique experience.  Boots and Alien Cows is a post from a few years back if you are interested.

On our way to the park I kept a look out for Alien Cow. It had been several years since we’d seen him, but we ALWAYS look just for fun.

But, the universe had another idea on how we were going to spend our day. The park closure changed our day big time. Alligators wander off from the park during the best of times, but the flood waters were 4 1/2 feet in the park and the estimate is that 300-350 alligators just floated out of the park in floodwaters along with several venomous snakes. There was a pretty informative article here if you’re interested. Here are some images from GOOGLE to give you an idea of what a trip to Brazos Bend is like.

Personally I fear the cotton mouth snakes more than the alligators.  The park itself has been flooded during the last 3 BIG floods – Memorial Day 2015, April 2016 and Hurricane Harvey 2017 which was the worst and forced the park closure so pathways, ponds and signs could be re-created.  This time they lost several buildings too.  The wonderfully informative Ranger at the front gate told us they were slated to re-open November 7th so we will try again after that time. I’m anxious to see how it’s changed.

So we decided to head for the coast, Freeport in particular just because we had never been there, but once again the universe had another idea as a HUGE fire detoured us. Fortunately it was a very nice day and we went with the flow to Surfside Beach.

The beach was absolutely perfect and many people were out enjoying it just like us, including the pelicans and surf birds.

This is an area that builds its house on HUGE pillars because of strong storm surges during storms and hurricanes.  While most places appear to have gone unscathed here, there were several still in need of repair and many already undergoing a rebuilding.

And no road trip for us would be complete without major roadwork in our path.

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HAPPY HOMEMAKER and MENU PLAN MONDAY week 42 of 2017

Oh my gosh, it’s Monday! Where did last week go? We are down to the last 10 weeks of the year and you know what that means – Christmas is only 70 days away! I lost 2 days last week with invasive testing and another 2 days with just feeling like crap.  The good news is the doctor announced that even though the recovery time is the same, he can do the better for me in the long term surgery.  The bad news is he decided he needs one more test this next week and unfortunately it is the uncomfortable test he previously changed. Oh well, at this point I’m just praying this is all over before the holidays.

After surgery I will not be able to lift anything for 6-8 weeks so I have been working like a dog to get as much sorted, packed and donated that I can before the surgery. We are so ready to be done with this house from hell and move on to a better way of life soon.

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW & THE WEATHER OUTSIDE

We had a “COLD” front move in last night LOL so we are only supposed to be in the mid 80’s this week, but the night time lows are supposed to drop into the 60’s and the humidity is supposed to drop 20-30% so I’m hoping for a more enjoyable week.

ON THE BREAKFAST PLATE

Banana, red grapes and Coffee

AS I LOOK AROUND THE HOUSE / WEEKLY TO DO LIST & HOUSE PROJECTS

  • LAUNDRY… just a couple loads
  • LIVING AREAS… mostly tidy, but as always with animals and husbands I need to do floors
  • KITCHEN… mop and empty the dishwasher
  • STUDIO… I did a DEEP clean last week when I started piling boxes in this room so it will be okay for awhile
  • YARD… A little pruning
  • BLOG… some recipe updating, planning for future recipe posts and BLOGMAS 2017

CURRENTLY READING & TELEVISION / DVR

I’m reading Ava Miles Dare Valley #7 The Perfect Ingredient.

  • BIG BANG THEORY and the new YOUNG SHELDON when it returns in November
  • NCIS, NCIS NEW ORLEANS and NCIS LA, CRIMINAL MINDS
  • MADAM SECRETARY, SCANDAL, DESIGNATED SURVIVOR
  • CHICAGO FIRE, CHICAGO PD, CHICAGO MED
  • LAW & ORDER SVU, BLUE BLOODS, HAWAII 5-0
  • MACGYVER, SCORPION, BLINDSPOT
  • Z NATION, WALKING DEAD, FLASH, DC LEGENDS
  • THE GOOD PLACE, AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE,
  • THIS IS US, ONCE UPON A TIME
  • GUY’S GROCERY GAMES,

MENU PLANS FOR THE WEEK

MONDAY
TUESDAY
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
SUNDAY
BREAKFAST
FRUIT & COFFEE
SCRAMBLED EGGS
FRUIT SMOOTHIE
FRUIT & COFFEE
SCRAMBLED EGGS
SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH DICED HAM
LUNCH
FRUIT & CHEESE
SOUP
MEAT ROLL-UPS
SALAD
MEAT & CHEESE
C.O.R.N.
??
DINNER
SLAM DUNK WINGS
SHEPHERD’S PIE QUESADILLAS
BRUSSELS BISQUE
CHILI MAC CASSEROLE
GRILLED TWICE BAKED POTATOES
PEANUTTY CHICKEN WINGS
DESSERT

SUCCESSFUL RECIPE LINKS FROM LAST WEEK

HEALTH & BEAUTY TIPS

HOMEMAKING/COOKING TIP

ON MY MIND

I grew up in California and unfortunately fires are a fact of life out there, especially in October with the Santa Ana winds.  I’ve also been mandatorily evacuated more times that I would like and even watched from a cruise ship one year while our tiny town of 500 was on CNN in one of the fastest moving fires in LA history, but there was usually a lot of brush and trees burned and even a few structures, but in ALL those years I cannot remember any combination of fires as horrific as what California is experiencing now, especially with loss of life. Please keep California in your prayers that containment comes soon and there is no more loss of property or life.

As horrible what California is going through, there is still so much destruction and rebuilding going on that is also impacting people ALL over the country and world!

Several months ago I told you about some roof leaks that we had that required major patching and when we went into the attic to investigate the source were confronted with 40 years worth of crap that my grandfather and cousin had accumulated back in a corner we “missed” originally because it was just that, in a hard to reach corner.  Unfortunately we had to bag it and move it in order to reach the area that was leaking.  We also discovered about 500 pounds of “good” (by my grandfather’s terms) boards that I’m sure he was saving for a project as well as a bunch of bricks – really bricks in an attic? I can’t even begin to figure out what those were for. So, we bagged it all up and moved to a pile in the center to be removed later.  Well, it’s now later!

In order to get all the bagged stuff and boards down from the attic we needed several things, the first of which was cooler weather which we don’t have yet, but are running out of time on.  The second was to empty out the master closet so we didn’t get all the insulation and dirt all over our clothes. So, we bit the bullet the other day and emptied the closet so we could bring down 11-30 gallon bags the next morning.  It got too warm so we’re saving the boards for later this week.  Trash will pick up large items on Fridays so we are trying to time everything for every other Friday.

FAVORITE PHOTO FROM THE CAMERA

I took this picture several years ago down at Brazos Bend State Park, but always find myself looking for the alien cow every time we go back.

My birthday was last month, but I got a WONDERFUL birthday surprise just this past week from my brother aka PINYON RIDGE PHOTOGRAPHY. He is a VERY talented photographer with a vast array of BEAUTIFUL photographs and yes I am biased, but they are truly SPECTACULAR.  This one is printed on metal, my new favorite medium and is just awe inspiring.

INSPIRATION

Be sure to link up with Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy homemaker Monday, Terri at Darling Downs Diaries and with Laura at I’m an Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

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BROWN BOX CRACKER MINI MEATLOAVES with BROWN BEER GRAVY aka MEATLOAF with A SERIOUS KICK

I found these awesome crackers a while back and then was pleasantly surprised to find that they were a local mom & pop operation.  Imagine my even bigger surprise when I’m eating these same crackers at my uncle’s house on Christmas Day later that year and find out that Brown Box Crackers was my own cousin’s company! I asked her if we could share this recipe with you and introduce you to her awesome products. I shared this quite a few years ago and unfortunately the crackers are no more as she passed away in 2014 and no one was able to find her recipes.  They probably existed on her hard drive, but alas my uncle never bothered to search and the hard drive is rotting away in storage, probably under water or too wet to be salvaged.  I have made some substitutions to make it similar to her original recipe.

Beth described this recipe perfectly: ” love comfort food, especially when it makes leftovers that taste better the day after. Meatloaf is one of those comfort foods and I like mine with rich, brown gravy…not with that tomato-y, ketchup-y topping some folks use. I want mine with rice and some kind of fresh vegatable to make it a healthy thing. Thank you, Mom, for putting me on the right path to meatloaf.”

MEAT LOAVES
1 pound Lean Hamburger
1 LARGE egg
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon Salt (or more to taste)
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 cups Brown Box Cracker Crumbs (I now use a combo of wheat thins, ritz and Keebler garlic butter)
2 medium Onions, chopped
1 Jalapeno, chopped
4-5 Cloves Garlic, chopped

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Process onions, jalapeno and garlic in food processor.
  • Adding just enough water to form a paste.
  • Combine all ingredients except for the cracker crumbs by squeezing though fingers JUST until blended.
  • Once the ingredients are mixed well add the crackers and mix them through.
  • Divide burger mixture into four (4) equal portions and form into mini loaves or form one large loaf.
  • Place in a casserole or large, heavy oven-proofing frying pan.
  • The heavy frying pan is excellent for getting all the “good stuff” for the gravy.
  • Bake approximately 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.

BROWN BEER GRAVY
3 tablespoons Drippings or avocado oil
1/2 cup Wondra Flour
1 cup Dark Beer (Shiner Bock is excellent)
1 cup Beef Broth
Salt and Pepper, to taste

  • Heat drippings/oil to bubbling.
  • Add flour and stir constantly to a bubbling caramel roux.
  • Add beer and broth continuing to stir constantly. The roux will smooth and thicken.
  • Add more broth if necessary.

Serving Suggestion:  Slice meat loaf and top onto a mound of rice, cover in gravy and serve with a side of fresh sliced tomato.

NOTE: Use beef broth INSTEAD of water when preparing rice. You will be pleased!

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CHAT TIME ~ Life as it Happens ~ WEEKLY WRAP UP

With all the work on the House From Hell, I got away from my Life as it Happens of just chatting once a week or so.  It’s time to start doing a weekly wrap-up again.

Things have finally slowed down a bit in my life, but as it happens, just in time to get crazy again. In 2011 I had my cancer surgery and began the long trek back to health and fitness.  All in all, I was already pretty healthy and fit – I mean I cook from scratch, perimeter shop without the junk food and eat extremely little fast food.  The oncologist had said that those 3 things probably helped save my life as the cancer had nothing to feed on in my body.

But, the length of surgery caused another problem.  Turns out I had a Hiatal hernia and the stomach acid seeped up and started eating away my esophagus. So, a year later I had to have another operation to remove the shredded esophagus and rebuild the valve.  Then 9 months later an allergic type reaction to a prescription they gave me for my Fibromyalgia started lowering my potassium levels and shutting down my heart and I collapsed, literally close to death.  Fortunately, hubby insisted they take me to the hospital despite the idiot ambulance driver who was convinced I’d been drinking (strongest thing I EVER drink is iced tea) and tried to get me to sign a waiver so he didn’t have to transport me. The hospital staff work quickly to revive my potassium to a safe level and life went on.  When I came to though out on the street I became violently ill.  A few weeks later I knew something was wrong and several weeks after that I had surgery to repair my stomach and esophagus, AGAIN.

Fast forward a few years later and guess what? Here we are again.  Turns out I appear to be a statistic, a part of those late night commercials for the class action suits against products that fail.  I don’t see the surgeon for a couple weeks, but have been doing research and it appears from the last article I read that the type of mesh used to repair my stomach failed 17 out of 24 times – not very good odds in my opinion.  I’m anxious to meet the new surgeon who has gotten rave reviews from patients and doctors alike, and see what he has to say about a more permanent fix.

I have begun amassing cooking magazines and simple projects like changing over the address book, password book, etc… for when I’m laid up.  Unfortunately, this type of surgery leaves you unable to do much more than walk (no lifting, no stretching, etc…) after for quite awhile and on a very strict liquid to soft foods diet for quite a long time too.  I figured I would use the time to read, develop some ideas for new recipes and work on updating the blog compilation. I might be able to do a few simple craft projects to.

At least it is summer and since I’m relegated to the indoors during this weather anyway, it’s a good time to get well.

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DAY 500 update postponed to DAY 606 due to a contentious family betrayal and the perfect example of how you WILL USE algebra in your everyday life someday!

This is a little long, but all encompassing including a link to the before and after pictures.  If you read nothing else, the RECAP below will give you the BIG picture. The original update post with the before and after pictures also known as what did we get ourselves into is here.

We were on day 500 and still finding things to donate and un-clutter from our lives as we struggled to finally finish this horrific rehab project. Unfortunately, on day 476 as I was planning the BIG day 500 post, we received some distressing news. I was going to go ahead and do a follow up post, but was so emotionally distraught from the frustration and hurt of my uncle’s contentious betrayal with that news, not to mention that we were now about to be embroiled in a legal battle, that I felt it best to wait and not say anything until after it was over. Well, it’s pretty much over, at least legally. The very definition of those two words (contentious and betrayal) sums up who my uncle has become.  Needless to say these attitudes do not go together well with good family relations.

  • Betrayal is the breaking or violation of a presumptive contract, trust, or confidence which produces moral and psychological conflict within a relationship among individuals. Often betrayal is a complete break from previously decided upon or presumed norms by one party from the others. Someone who betrays others is commonly called a traitor or betrayer. In this case the betrayal actually borders on being defrauded or swindled since we were NEVER told the true depth of the situation. He glossed over ALL the important parts making them non-issues when they were HUGE issues in actuality.
  • Contentious is the likelihood of an argument or vexing issue being at the root of your problem.  In our case my caustic, toxic, self-centered uncle has become the actual issue complicated by what appears to be medical issues that are being NOT being diagnosed or dealt with.

I am so thankful that I have kept an active chronicle of descriptions, hourly work logs and pictures of our work (so were the lawyers), Chronicles of My Misguided Cousin Beth, Life in Remodel and Rehabbing Grams and Gramps House. No matter which category you choose, it all adds up to A House from Hell!

So, now here we are at day 606.  The house is done, the legal battle is done and so are we! In the end we’re still on the hook for $70,000 more than we should be for the whole project, but at least we can sell, not even beginning to break even and move on to begin again, but know that we did the right thing to help family, even if they are unappreciative.

I do realize that his contentiousness and betrayal is probably exacerbated by some yet known factor such as his possibly having Alzheimer’s himself or some form of dementia brought on by age as well as the undue influence of the new “girlfriend”the one he was having a virtual affair with for months before his wife of 59 years, my aunt’s death and announced he was marrying before we even had my aunt’s memorial service. The girlfriend appears to be calling all the shots now, but that does not lessen his actions or move me to forget the horrific pain and suffering he has caused us.

He is literally writing off what little family he has left to start a new one several states away. His normal cantankerous nature coupled with being an old man raised in the south (entitled and racist) and his overall caustic toxic nature is also being exacerbated by yet known factors. He believes the world and everyone in it owes him everything! He truly believes he can say “JUMP” and all those around him should do it immediately!  

I am not a doctor, but have spent the past 10 years dealing with those who do have Alzheimer/Dementia (including the aunt he was married to) that I am able to recognize the potential  symptoms (memory loss, constant repetition, personality changes and increased agitation by everyone and everything not to mention the delusions of grandeur and that everyone is one of his minions to control).  I also am doing nothing but stating my observations here so do not believe I am violating any HIPAA regulations as I do not have access to actual medical records. Many times these symptoms go unnoticed because there is not daily contact with the person experiencing them. I personally believe if he were to be properly diagnosed by doctors they would see he needs a legal guardian (like his son & NOT the girlfriend who appears to be a gold digger) and that he really shouldn’t be making decisions for himself or anyone else.

My uncle lured us down here (from 2000 miles away) with the promise of a good deal (we had the potential of making about $45,000) if we did the work to clean out and paint my grandparents old place, to help him with my aunt and be near family. According to my uncle the flooring, appliances, fixtures and furniture were good and would get us started. He swore all it needed was lots cleaning and paint. He was supposedly helping us get back on our feet after the years of the VA pulling the rug out from under us and stringing us along while we continue to fight for what is ours, my cancer and all the multiple surgeries as well as all the life issues that came with dealing with both of those LARGER than life altering issues at the same time!  We have yet to be able to start any of that with the immediate need to make this property livable as we worked day and night for over 16 months to make that happen.

We should have turned around and walked away the day we got here, but we stayed because we came to help family and obviously they needed more help even than they realized. Now that we have spent 20 months living in and cleaning out the filth and decay that his daughter created (with serious multiple bacterial infections incurred by me during that time), my aunt’s death, over 6000 hours of our blood, sweat and tears equity as well as over $50,000 of our own money to do the job, he literally wanted to steal it all away from us by forcing us out so HE could reap ALL the profit. He kept promising to get all the paperwork together so we could finalize the sale, but never quite got there.

The blood, sweat and tears equity is worth over $200,000 alone. Somewhere around the end of our first 1000 hours which ONLY dealt with getting rid of my cousin’s things and ridding the house of the vermin, transporting donations to donation centers, a TON of garbage and filth which included all the appliances, fixtures and flooring was when he realized how bad this place was with the added need for now new electrical and plumbing also, not to mention bringing EVERYTHING up to code and on December 18, 2015 he FORGAVE our $10,000 down payment and also agreed to a much reduced price from what we originally agreed to since the original price included working appliances, fixtures, flooring and furniture that didn’t exist in reality. 

WORD OF WARNING: GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING – EVEN FROM FAMILY!!!! ALWAYS!!!!

The only piece of salvageable furniture was my grandparent’s headboard from their original bed in 1935 and he tried to take that too after repeatedly giving it to me again an again.  I was able to salvage a few mementos that are mine now as they were shoved into forgotten corners and left untended and un-cared for. Things I will truly cherish forever, one being my grandfather’s original postal badge from when he was a special deliveries carrier many, many moons ago and the other my great grandmother’s quilt.  Hubby found the badge in an old coffee can full of dead cockroaches with nuts and bolts.  I found the quilt wadded up in the corner of an upper bathroom cabinet that had been built above the shower so it was exposed too often to moisture.  I have been able to salvage it quite well.

Grandpa’s badge is laying on great grandma’s, his mother-in-law’s quilt. The head board is leaning against the horrible wallpaper that is now fortunately gone for good! Other than the head board, we were forced to purchase ALL new appliances, fixtures, flooring and everything in between including new furniture.

The minute he hired a lawyer to try and force us out by stating we had not done anything to contribute to the property during the time we have been here HE was the one that severed ALL family ties. You do not treat family or ANYONE like he treats people.  That is for him to answer to God about and I KNOW the Karma explosion will be knocking on his door VERY soon!

I am so thankful that I have kept an active chronicle of descriptions, hourly work log and pictures of our work (so were the lawyers), Chronicles of My Misguided Cousin Beth, Life in Remodel and Rehabbing Grams and Gramps House. No matter which category you choose, it all adds up to A House from Hell! My uncle recently told my mom what a deal he gave us on this house.  Evidently his idea of a deal uses his family and their money to his benefit and then he kicks them while they are down.

We had to hire a lawyer (which is adding up to more money quickly also) to deal with his lawyer to force the sale and protect ourselves and the financial investment we already have invested. So, yes he is being quite contentious and is betraying his own blood. The lawyer that sent us the letter to vacate is the same lawyer my uncle said was drawing up the contracts over a year ago. Ironically, the lawyer says he never knew that and now that he is getting the bigger picture he has advised my uncle to get this settled because he would not continue to represent him if it went to court.  All telling signs in my book. Even with the lawyer it took another 4 months to settle as “THINGS” kept coming up in the title search like the unpaid bills he had against him for the foundation work and subsequent underground plumbing work from hiring the “cheaper” company and their trying to do things in places they shouldn’t. They also found that he had filed the paperwork in the wrong county when my grandparent’s died.  So for those reasons and a few others we are almost glad this was not a simple sale as it would have complicated things massively when we later sell.

Just to get this settled so we can move on with our life has forced us to agree to things (like paying the down payment anyway) that were just wrong in general and especially on principle (like also paying the originally agreed upon price even though the house was not worth it), but necessary evils unfortunately to keep a roof over our heads and not lose the investment of time and money from the last 20 months.  According to our lawyer going to court we would have won on principle, but spent the same amount anyway.  At this point we just want to be rid of this mess and the now bad memories, but first we have to pay him off.  In the end we will be completely upside down financially, emotionally and also over the moon to be rid of this mess!

RECAP: The original update post with the before and after pictures also known as what did we get ourselves into is here. Coming here was supposed to accomplish three things.  The first being a place for us to settle and re-group our life after the Cancer, multiple surgeries, years of care giving for multiple people and have time to deal with the VA claim from hell.  Well, that has YET to happen as we have spent every waking hour just making this place livable. The second was to be near family – the same family that now that now that we’re here can’t seem to take time to spend time together unless there’s an emergency. The third was to help out my aunt and uncle after my cousin’s death.  My uncle had his hands FULL since my aunt’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.  We were glad we could be here to help him especially after the fall that shattered her knee, the surgery for that shattered knee along with the hospitalization and skilled nursing for the rehabilitation and the infection that ultimately took her life.  We did NOT expect him to decide two weeks later he was getting re-married and moving 5 states away.

I ask myself why did this happen this way? Repeatedly!  Even our lawyer asked what was he thinking?  This was supposed to be a simple transaction to help family.  He held ALL the paperwork necessary to make it go smoothly.  LITERALLY! He held ALL the necessary pieces for EVERYTHING to fall into place, but yet he went from toasting his wonderful niece and her husband for coming to help save him from this holy hell at a family dinner to sending me a text telling me to feel better and thanking him for providing him with some information he needed to suing us for doing nothing to aid him or the property in our time here.  Obviously some undue influence (disease, new girlfriend, etc..) is affecting his ability to think clearly. In the end his wrongfully suing us brought to light his own issues that would have left us with thousands of dollars of encumbrances and ensuing legal battles done by his actions had we followed the simple plan he had originally laid out, not to mention we found out during this process that he had done the paperwork when gramps died and it was filed in the wrong county and such. This could have taken years to straighten out.  Hiring a lawyer cost us A LOT, but saved us more in the long run probably.

He recently told my mom what a deal he gave us on this house.  Evidently his idea of a “deal” uses his family and THEIR money to his benefit and then he kicks them while they are down.”  He has even been known to be “bad mouthing” us and our actions to his girlfriend – we know this because he fails to disconnect his phone from calls before having those conversations. The mere fact that he calls my mom just to chat like he isn’t screwing her little girl takes a lot of balls! He will have to answer to God for what he has done and I KNOW Karma will be knocking on his door VERY soon.  You don’t treat people like crap without it coming back to haunt you. I don’t even need to witness the KARMA EXPLOSION to know it will be HUGE.

Personally, I have NO USE for anyone, let alone family who uses ANYONE and basically steals everything from them, but especially from the family who is helping you and you are supposed to be helping too.

The house is done, the legal battle is done and so are we! In the end we’re still on the hook for $70,000 more than we should be for the whole project, but at least we can sell, not even beginning to break even and move on to begin again, but know that we did the right thing to help family, even if they are unappreciative.

For the past several months he has been jumping up and down like a child throwing a tantrum DEMANDING that we close this transaction immediately. We stuck to our guns as he had yet to satisfy the liens and such.  We refused to sign anything or invest anymore monies in this property without him making things right with HIS creditors.  For some reason even now he believes he has been right all along and that we have NOT done anything to better the house or HIS situation.  I never even factored in all the days I worked 10-12 hours on the house, took a quick shower and then spent 4-5 hours at night sitting with my aunt so he could get out and do what he wanted.  AND he will be getting a bill for the first 1050 hours that dealt only with cleaning out the property from the vermin infested mess it was.

You know how people say you’ll never use algebra after you get out of school? Well, I’m here to prove them wrong.  I loved word problems and algebraic equations and find I really do use them all the time.  This house is a perfect example.

X (minimum cash outlay) + Y (reasonable sweat labor done at a reasonable pace) + Z (fair price) = (PLACE TO SETTLE at a reasonable cost while helping family and regrouping)

Seems like a simple equation right? That was before when my uncle said all the fixtures, appliances and flooring were good.  He did say the garage and backyard needed some cleanup as well as the house needing cleaned up and painted.

He did NOT say that the garage leaked like a sieve and would also need major work. So now ALSO factor in the ALL the things he DIDN’T tell us about “correctly” – like ALL fixtures, appliances, flooring, windows and doors, electrical and plumbing needing to be replaced, city and county code infractions, major drywall repair, bug and rodent infestation, as well as the fact that my cousin was a pack rat/hoarder who didn’t clean and that it would take 2 1/2 months of 12+ hour days, 7 days a week JUST to clear out ALL her trash and potential donations, not to mention the $900 or so of beer and soda to keep the trash guys happy so they would take everything each trash day (which is twice a week fortunately) and that she was a chain smoker that left everything covered in a layer of tar and nicotine.

So now the equation looks something like:

16X+ (maximum cash outlay) + 20Y+ (maximum sweat labor done at a breakneck pace just to make it livable) + 16Z (no longer a fair or reasonable price because uncle wants same amount he did originally and then some) = (PLACE TO FLIP because it has become a money pit) AND (leaving us completely upside down in time and financial means, but at least we helped family whether they appreciate it or not!)

 

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ALMOST FINAL BACKYARD UPDATE on the HOUSE FROM HELL

Here is the next to final update on the backyard. We still have the shade cloth to put up, but that is EASY by comparison to hauling and leveling 6000 pounds of sand, 2400 pounds of Pavers (80 at 30 pounds a piece), 960 pounds of river rock, 16 cubic feet of top soil and 200 pieces of sod. As a reminder this was midway through cleaning out the backyard.

This was after the first load of sand. We were able to use many of my cousin’s broken bricks and pavers as a base to support the leveling sand. You’ll see in a later picture hubby was able to use the leftover fence boards to make an AC privacy fence to cover the utility area.

I’m using my old herb rack in this corner to get the pots started out of the direct sun.
Here is what we look like as of today.  All fertilized, watered and starting to take hold.  Too tired to grill, but as soon as we get that shade cloth up we will.

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Backyard UPDATE on the house from hell

Just a quick update with a before and after picture that kind of says it all.  We’re still not done, but oh so much closer! The above pictures were after we had been cleaning out crap for over a month.  The pictures below is the same area cleaned out with the new interior fence and at least the sand and a portion of the pavers. Hubby also built a small fence to block the view of the A/C and utilities.
We’ve been working hard on the backyard.  Since we had to bring in leveling sand anyway, we used all the various bricks and broken pavers as filler first. So, 6000 pounds of sand, 960 pounds of river rock, 1320 pounds of pavers and several flower pots later we’re getting close!  We still need to order the top soil and sod to be delivered, but within 2 weeks the backyard will be done! I’m using my old herb rack in this corner to get the pots started out of the direct sun.

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Just a little chat and update on MY life plus a review of my first Blue Apron recipe

THANK YOU Carrie!  My first Blue Apron box came today.  Such pretty vegetables and all the fixings for  the next 3 days. They also included wonderful recipe directions that were really easy to follow. I couldn’t wait to make dinner.  I let hubby choose the recipe and he chose the Chicken Under a “Brick” for our first meal. I have to say I was thoroughly impressed! Definitely a meal we’ll have again.

We also thought it might be a good idea to do a “Vision Board” for our search of the next house project. We would really like to find and old church, train station, fire station or school to rehab into an open floor plan and make a forever home.  Anyone know of anything in any of these states?

 

Day 478 HOUSE from HELL Update

You know how you have a picture in your mind of how a holiday is going to go?  I did for Valentine’s Day.  I was making Chicken Cacciatore ala Slow Cooker and the perfect Tiramisu cake.  We were going to have a nice bottle of Peach Moscato to go with our salad.  We were going to have an easy day because of the incoming rain, stay in, watch a movie and enjoy each others company.

Well, Mother nature had another plan!

I had just started the slow cooker with dinner and was sitting down to have my second cup of coffee before I went to shower.  The rain started dumping in buckets and the winds picked up beyond belief – so much so that I moved to the other side of the room and away from my favorite windows because the wind was actually a little scary. Tornado warnings started coming across my phone fast and furiously abut that time and then I heard water pouring into my laundry area through the ceiling.  If that wasn’t bad enough, water also started pouring in through the window I had just moved away from.

Wasn’t much we could do besides grab a bunch of towels and wait it out. I did call the roofer to put him on alert.

Once the worst was over, hubby went up into the attic to assess the damage and the roofer showed up almost immediately to replace the shingles and fix the roof.  That was the easy part.

Fortunately we had just recently bought a new box of contractor heavy duty bags. We then spent yesterday in the attic trying to clean up the mess of wet insulation.  Up until now we had pretty much ignored the attic because we didn’t plan on using it, only clearing away around the opening and air conditioning area, but yesterday we found some really odd things up there.  The bricks we found were the oddest things.  We also found some disassembled OLD, and I do mean OLD cabinets, disassembled bookshelves, old paneling as well as a “roll” of 40 year old linoleum.

 

Compared to other areas around town that were hit with the “tornado weather”, we got off easy.  Just a bunch of clean up and repair, but no real substantial loss besides our time. Seven 55 gallon bags later we called it a day and showered BIG time!

We spent today dealing with the window leak. It’s a 40 year old window that was installed into a brick wall 40 years ago without any insulation or flashing.We have completed the inside repairs and after a bit more dry out will also seal everything from the outside.

Fortunately, we were home when this all happened and were able to get the church pew and great grandma’s quilts away from the leak.

On the up side I was able to get the spice cabinets organized and cleaned up.

 

 

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