An alien in my homeland

Steph and I have the great privilege of being able to travel a lot — or the burden of having to travel a lot, depending on your perspective. And we encounter a lot of different people. Because of what we do, the conversation often turns to health and we often get to hear personal health stories. One thing that I was struck with recently, is that in spite of our travels, we are kinda sheltered. We are surrounded by people having similar mindsets regarding personal health and healthcare, or at least are familiar with and/or tolerant of our alternative and at-home remedies. I mean surrounded. At work, at home, at church, at the conferences we attend, on various forums, and even on Facebook. Perhaps we all drawn together by commonalities, or perhaps having been drawn together we are all effected by the same influences, and maybe, we are having a small influence on those around us. We just don’t know how “normal” people live, and how they eat, how they endure illness, how often it strikes, how long it lasts, and what a course of treatment looks like. And so, when we see an occasional glimpse, we are shocked at the ignorance, at how conditions and diseases and sickness are considered normal. At how eating Twinkies can be considered a healthy habit because it keeps the blood sugar up. And in the midst of our shock, we are reminded how far we have come and that we are no longer “normal”. Not even close. Most people would consider us to be pretty weird, or crunchy, or far out, or wacko, or one of the other terms that we may have used in the past to describe people like us who were just plain different.

We live here in America, we were born and raised here, but we don’t live like most people do. We don’t eat or cook or shop or treat illness like most people. We have become abnormal. So much so that we may as well have been born and raised in a different country. We are aliens – aliens who are a lot more healthy than most people. But we are going to continue down the path we’re on, and maybe one day, everything will change, and we’ll be “normal” again. 🙂



House update

A comment I received prompted me that an update was needed. It is three months later, and the contract on our house has expired. Supposedly the other party is still very interested, but we have heard little from them. We’ll wait several more weeks and then the house will have to be taken off the market as we approach the due date for our son. We don’t want to be doing anything for a couple of months before or after. We may not sell the house at this time, and relieve a huge amount of debt in one stroke, but God knows best for us. So, either way, we will not be distressed. We will continue to make small strides forward in our quest to be debt-free, while we wait for the leaps.

As I mentioned above, we are expecting Caleb Joshua in the Fall. He is pretty active right now. We are thankful for the good health mother and baby have experienced so far and prayerful for continued health. 🙂


Home Sweet Home

When we purchased our house several years ago, we ignorantly supposed it to be an “investment”. It was right at the end of the big real estate bubble and just before everything started coming down. We finally managed to sell our previous house in spite of the cooling market, for less than we wanted, but more than we paid, so that worked out, but was a bit painful for a few months there.

We have come to think of our house, not as an investment, but as a liability. Even though, in a more recent “traditional” sense, we can “afford it” (make the payments), even though, in spite of the timing, we got a good deal for our place, we still owe a great deal of money, and we can look forward to paying enormous amounts of interest on it.  We want to change the paradigm of how we operate financially. We want to be out of debt. We want to be saving. We want to be giving more. This is our plan. While there are advantages to keeping our current place, and all sorts of potential downsides to uprooting, we would like to be out of this house, at or near what we have into it, just to be free of the mortgage.

We’ve had the house on the market off and on for a couple of years. A few days ago, for the first time, we got an offer. We negotiated a bit, and we won’t get out everything we have in it, but we will be free of the debt, and have a little bit of pocket change if this goes through. Now it is just waiting on the potential buyers’ house in OH to sell. Selling the house won’t be the end of the adventure, but rather the start of a number of new ones, and a significant milestone on our path to what we feel is true financial responsibility.


Fixing leaks

When we moved into our house 3 and a half years ago, the main tub faucet leaked. Along with some other things. Actually, a lot of other things. There was a leak where the fireplace met the roof, which poured serious water in, but only about twice a year when it rained really hard. There was a leak around one of the sewer exhaust vents. One of the toilets started leaking sewage onto the floor below. One of the toilet shutoff valves leaked. One of the toilet towers leaked. One of the sink shutoffs developed a leak. I think that completes the tally. Oh, except for the two separate downspout issues that led to the flooding of the basement two springs in a row. Oh, and the two double door leaks that damaged the wood floor. Oh, and the refrigerator leak. That’s it. I think. Wow, that sounds pretty bad in retrospect. If only that were the extent of the problems with this place. 😀

There are a lot of things that I tolerate and a few things that I obsess about. Fruit flies drive me crazy. So do those little moths that get into the grains. I’ve become adept at swatting both out of the air – WAY more practice than I would like. Then there are mosquitoes. I will go hunting all over the house if I see or hear a mosquito. Steph just laughs at me. Leaks are another one of my obsessions. I don’t like them – especially when they can or do cause damage. I have been repairing these various things as I have found them in order of urgency – except for this tub faucet. Since it was just leaking down the drain, it was no big deal.  I had tentatively looked at what it would take to fix it a number of times and it always seemed like a big, big job.

Some of the fixes were easy – replacing the shutoff valves for example. Some required several tries, like the fireplace – which had to be done after the rain, after it dried out, and with enough time for the patchwork to dry out before it rained again. The worst was the toilet sewage leak. I tried “quick” fixes of pulling the stool and redoing the wax ring a number of times. I finally ended up reworking the whole assembly which took only slightly longer than the “quick” fixes, but seemed to do the job.

But this shower has just drip, trickle, dripped along until a few weeks ago. Now to be fair, it did stop leaking for a while. I don’t know why, but when I changed out the tank tower in the upstairs toilet, the downstairs tub stopped leaking. Weird? Definitely. Until I did some other plumbing repair – replacing one of the shutoff valves, I think. Then it started it’s continual dripping again. It looks like the previous owners had tried to do something about it, because they punched a whole in the wall in the bedroom directly opposite the leaky tub faucet. Of course, that could have been random as there were other holes in various places as well.

My great hope was that we would sell the house and the leak along with it. That hasn’t happened, so after 40+ months of money just running down the drain, I decided to tackle this problem.

I finally was able to find an internet site or two that explained how to fix a leak in a faucet like mine. And it seemed pretty straightforward. Simple even.

1) Remove handle

2) Remove cover

3) Remove cartridge pin

4) Replace cartridge

5) Reassemble

Hey, I can do that. There is just a little screw on the underside of the handle that needs to be removed. I got some allen wrenches, found the right size, and tuuuuuuurrrrrrn, BAM. Stripped the wrench. Me not happy. Retire to something else while I think about this problem. Got motivated a couple of days later. Drove to town and got another allen wrench and some Liquid Wrench. Aha! Take that! Tuuuuuuuurrrrrnnn, BAM! Stripped the screw. If I were given to profanity, I think I would have had some choice words at this point, because me definitely not happy. Retire in frustration to something else while I cogitated on this problem. A couple of days later, I drove to town and bought an easy-out, drilled a hole in the screw and tried that with the liquid wrench. (An easy out is used with a drill and digs into the screw but in such a way that as it does, it turns the screw out.) WHEUO! WHEEEEEEUOerrrrruhhh. Bound up the drill a number of times, but that screw was like an armchair quarterback on Superbowl Sunday. It would not move. Let’s just say I was a wee bit frustrated and leave it at that. All of my searchings on the Internet about how to repair these things, NOBODY ever talked about a petulant screw that wouldn’t be removed. NOBODY. I should mention that I also tried essential oils on it and nothing helped.

In the end, I was determined to get that little screw out of there no matter what the cost, and I finally ended up just drilling the entire screw out, ruining the handle, but fulfilling step 1. YAY!!! One down, only 4 to go! Only took 2 weeks of intermittent work and frustration.

The other steps were not without their challenges as well, but are far less interesting than the less than Pulitzer worthy paragraphs above. But the end result is that, finally, the tub doesn’t leak. Only took 3 weeks to complete those 5 simple steps.

Anyway, this give some new perspective on the “continual dripping” referenced in Proverbs. Not only does it drive you crazy, which is how I always took it, but it is possible that it is no easy fix.


Lost and found

Last week we were in Florida for business. We are part of a small business coaching program that meets twice a year in Chicago and once a year in some warmer climate, like Florida. You see a couple of years ago, I realized, just how bad I was at business. There are so many aspects of running a small business that it is really impossible to be an expert or even good, or even knowledgeable in all of them. Somebody with great back office efficiency, might be bad at getting the word out or being innovative or even meeting their clients needs. And somebody with a great product, might have scaling difficulties, technology challenges, or personnel issues. And that is not to mention bookkeeping, taxes, corporate structure, website, design, marketing, contact lists, leases, employee benefits, and whole host of other things. And running a small business is not like going to a regular job at all. It affects life and family differently, it affects the psyche differently, and so we meet with other small businessmen, and share the little bit that we’ve learned and benefit from their vast amount of experience.

Early last fall, we were in Chicago for this same event and had just packed up to head home when I couldn’t find the car key. We only had one. See we had just purchased this cool 2002 VW Jetta Turbo Diesel. Well, I say “just” but that isn’t exactly true. We had purchased it almost a year before but had some title issues. We finally were driving it regularly. I got it because of the great fuel efficiency and while I have some concern for the environment, I’m also a great proponent of efficiency, especially when that efficiency keeps money in my pocket. At 43+ mpg and plenty of power no matter how loaded down it is with passengers and luggage, I love it. Plus there is the added appeal that in a pinch, with some slight modifications, I could run it off of vegetable oil. But I diverge . . . .

I couldn’t find the car key. Just a couple of months earlier, I had “misplaced” the other car key when we were at a relative’s house on family trip to GA. So we were down to one key. You might ask why I hadn’t gotten a few more made. Well, see, that’s the thing. With these VW keys, they have to be made special. You can only get them at the dealer and they are like $150+ each, and the nearest dealer is 90 minutes away. I just never seemed to be motivated.

I searched high and low for this car key. Steph and Noelle waited in the lobby with all of our stuff. I had the key just the night before. And so I searched the parking lot, the lobby, the elevator, the hall, the hotel room, the hall, the hotel room, the lobby, the parking lot, the hotel room, and even some of our pieces of luggage. I called AAA and they came and unlocked the car and I searched the car, and the hotel room and the hall and the car, and the car, and the lobby. I never found it.

I went to the dealer and got the lowdown on the keys. They were more expensive than I had thought and even worse, the dealer couldn’t make the keys. Apparently only the VW manufacturing plant can actually cut the keys. And then they have to be shipped to location (I suspect by bike messenger, but they could have been using a more traditional form of shipping, like mule train). This was on Friday. On Tuesday, we were finally able to leave town.

Fast forward to last week. I’m searching through my bag with my hands, in the darkened hotel room, and come across a car key. Initially I think it is my current car key that has become detached from the other keys. Taking it over to the light, I am very surprised to find the long lost key. Amazing that it has stayed hidden so long. I’ve used that bag for several trips since then. *sigh* I just had to shake my head that it was there the whole time. I can only surmise that God wanted us to take a break for a few days last fall. We did enjoy the forced down time.


Merry Christmas

So after posting a blog that I need to start blogging and intend to do so, it is only 2 months to my first installment. Guess I need to do better.

This week has been pretty crazy. Danny was gone all week and I was trying to keep up with shipping AND setup and implement a new shipping system. All month we are doing a promotion on Essential Oil Diffusers that require folks to call in and order. Liz and I have been answering most of the calls, until this week. Steph had to pitch in a lot more this week because I was gone shipping and Liz was sick, and then off for the holidays. Thursday I ended up doing shipping and manning the phones for a number of hours. And lastly, I have been coming home and trying to keep up with the rest of my duties and also learn our VoIP phone configuration interface. It has been exhausting for both Steph and I.

Right now we’re chilling at Mary and Tal Ewing’s. We’re going to spend Christmas here. It is nice not to have to be hosting. Noelle and Steph just went off to go to bed, and I’m on my way to join them.

Merry Christmas to you all. Regardless of how you celebrate or don’t celebrate Christmas, this is a great time of year to spend time with friends and family that you love. And it is always good to remember in wonder, that Jesus left his throne and his kingly crown to come to live where hunger, fatigue, and hate are a part of life, and where even your best friends betray and abandon you. He did it knowing more about all of this than any of us.

Thanks be to God.