Friday, January 10, 2014

It's a cold, cold world

I survived Snowmageddon. Barely. And I'm still digging out.

As you may now, my Hearth Day Resolution was "be prepared" and I think I did alright even though I made a HUGE mistake right at the beginning. You see, we have a giant tank in our basement that we fill with oil to run our furnace. Well, it ran out. Just in time for the biggest snowy/cold spell I have experienced since the '80s (I am not sure what the official statement on that is, just going by memory.) More to the point, I let it run out. In my defense, the little guagey thing on the top has been stuck at 1/4 for as long as I've known it. It says 1/4 now. It wouldn't have mattered if I noticed that the thing was running low. We didn't have the money to fill it. There is a minimum order of 150 gallons. At a little over $3 a gallon, that is no small change. Our credit cards are maxed out. I borrowed money from my daughter's nest egg to fill it. I have no way of paying her back.

The truth is, we have not been saving like we should. We haven't been able to. I have almost $400 in medical bills I pay each month on top of the $250 I pay for insurance. That is all money that should be going into savings but isn't. Now I wouldn't mind paying a couple hundred dollars to go to the emergency room and have a doctor say to me "I don't know why you lost 20 minutes of time and ended up driving in an unfamiliar neighborhood with no memory of how or why you got there, but it doesn't seem to be your heart and you don't seem to have a brain tumor, so why don't you just sit here for five more hours while we ignore you and then you can be on your way." But over $6000 after insurance is ridiculous. And crushing. We have been barely scraping by each month making these payments on top of our everyday bills. We have been rationing food and gas. We sold one of our cars. We cancelled our house phone. We do not have cable. We make our son pay for his cat's vet bills, his Xbox Live membership AND his school lunch out of the money he earns from his weekend job. Still, every month our paychecks disappeared as quickly as they arrived. Christmas was small and included much-needed long johns and boots. Every night I went to bed and prayed "Please please don't let anything break."

And Saturday we woke up to a cold house. Not so cold yet. The cold was yet to come. Sunday it was frigid. By Monday we were all in the master bedroom snuggling on the bed alternating between reading books, playing games and taking naps. We even moved the lizard's habitat and the worm bin into the bedroom. We also learned some very interesting things on Monday.
1. Diesel fuel freezes at -20 degrees. You can't pump it into a can and take it home to your furnace when it freezes. It has the consistency of Jell-O
2. We made (notice the past tense and read on) too much money to get help from the government. Yea, I asked. The maximum for a family of four is $38,000.
3. The candle & clay pot trick that's been going around Facebook works. Assuming you can keep your candles lit.

On Tuesday my husband called at lunch time and informed me he was coming home because he'd been laid off. This did not make my day. Even so, all I could do was laugh. Because somebody, somewhere must be, so I may as well join in. At this point we decided there was no point in waiting for a paycheck and risking frozen pipes. (I am so grateful that our pipes didn't freeze. My daughter's did, but at least they had the means to thaw them out!) So we borrowed money out of my daughter's "someday I'm going to get a drivers' license and a car" account. We have no means of paying it back. *sigh*

During this emergency, I did find myself well-prepared in some ways. I had plenty of flour & yeast to bake bread and plenty of beans and even a couple of ham bones in the freezer. I kept the beans going in the crock pot and that helped take the edge off the cold in the kitchen and made sure we always had something warm to put in our tummies when we had to make a foray out of the bedroom. And yea, that's about all we ate because it was way too cold in the kitchen to spend time cooking.

Even if this adventure hadn't included my husband losing the job we moved all the way out here to be closer to, it would impressed upon me that we seriously need to take a closer look at the money coming into this house. I haven't had a new dog training client since November and the clients I do have are so far away that I am actually losing money driving to their houses. And frankly, after my little "episode" a few months ago, which included apparently driving on autopilot after I had "left the building", I am not really excited about driving anywhere anymore.

When we first moved out here I had been planning to eventually turn my home into a doggie daycare, training and boarding facility so people could bring their pets to me. But I wanted to wait till my little Sunshine started school and we're still 2 years away from that. Well. I don't think I have the luxury of waiting anymore. I am going to give it a shot. Since my husband is home, he can help me with the baby when there are dogs around. And as for him, well his band is going to Memphis to compete in the International Blues Challenge in two weeks. This could be interesting. It's just a roller coaster, eh.