Monday, April 17, 2006

A plague of locusts

Recently, my family has been experiencing a run of bad luck that hearkens back to Biblical days. Over Spring Break, we had a sewer line rupture in our new house (leading to a repair bill of $4000), my car break down ($1000), and a swarm of bees lodge in our attic ($78). Our dog has allergies and ear infections, to the tune of $700 in the past two months for special food, vet visits, and medicine. This past week we had a maddened opossum from the forest tear a hole in our deck screen. We had to get a trapper to come and catch him and take him away from where he’d been living under the house ($130). With no income this summer (we’re teachers), we’ve been sweating how we will make ends meet since a good chunk of our savings had just been wiped out. We did some schedule juggling, and though we’d hoped to spend the summer with our children and taking a break from our intense workload, we will instead be alternating summer session employment. The upside is it helps us a little financially; the down side is at no one time during the summer will all of us be in the house, so all scheduled vacation plans (family reunions, etc) had to be cancelled. Add to this the need to have the enormous tree branch hanging over our roof pruned before hurricane season, as well as the fact that we’d intended to have the windows fitted for plywood in preparation of same, and we’re seriously wondering how we will make it.

The joke has been that we’re waiting for the plague of locusts to come next.

Well, be careful what you joke about...

Today, a swarm of something suspiciously like termites attacked our house. They were streaming in the windows, near as we can figure, entering both bathrooms en masse and in the living room. We’d had our regular bi-monthly visit from our exterminator recently, so many of the insects appeared to be dead already...but many were not. We have to wait until tomorrow for the exterminator to come back and help determine for us if these were just some oddly shaped ants, or if we are looking at another expensive bill.

All this is by way of saying: be careful what you wish for. We’ve wanted our own home for years, feeling depressed that we weren’t able to provide this basic ritual of life for our kids. We got our chance when we moved from Los Angeles to a much more affordable area. We were ecstatic (if surprised) when we qualified, since we are just able to afford the monthly mortgage. However, what we didn’t realize was the unexpected expenses of owning one’s own home. While I still love my home, I begin to wonder how many of my other long held dreams might turn out to be a disaster waiting to happen. How many other things I’ve idealized as, “If I could only have X, I’d be happy.”

God is the only one who knows what will make us happy, and I’m beginning to realize that if we don’t have it yet, there must be a darn good reason why.

Another lesson learned the hard way.



Eve said...

You know, it's funny...I have read only a few blogs in my life. In fact, I just created my first one, wondering if I'd ever figure it out (I did...sort of). But tonight when I read your "Plague of Locusts" I figured right away that God wanted me to read it for one reason, and one reason only.

You see, we too have a big-girl dog who suffers from terrible allergies, and we too spend more than an arm and a leg on her dermatologist visits for various allergy-related things, such as allergy serum for her shots, prescription shampoos (which can be as frequent as twice a week or more), and the like. Not only that, but add in a $510 estimate from her regular vet to remove two new cysts that have popped up since the last one was removed from her chest last August (to the tune of nearly $500 then, also). But thank God it was benign. And of course, our vet doesn't like to leave benign-feeling lumps. He likes to remove all lumps. Get out the checkbook, kiddo. Oh...and did I mention her abnormal EKG from last summer when she had her pre-testing for her lump excision? Of course, we had another EKG done this Spring to see if there was any change in her abnormal EKG. And after $350 worth of testing everything under the sun, you guessed it. Everything's normal! (Thank God).

Ok...and another similarity is that my husband is a college professor and, like you, because of that...we know how to budget. He is already teaching summer school...three classes to be exact, all back-to-back, which means he lectures each day for 4.5 hours straight....all to pay our bills since there is no paycheck (from him) during the months of July and August.

And of course, that's when we realize the termites in our historic home have done so much damage that we absolutely must have our house tented for termites, and not put it off any longer. That alone costs $1600, not counting our night in a hotel since we must evacuate the premises for a day or more.

Thank God this year there are no automobile repair expenses, since a year ago we purchased a nice, new Honda Accord...our first car in 17 years(yup...that's right), after 250,000 miles on our last one. But now we have car payments!

Our 1890's home is suffering from lack of a recent paint job, and then there's clapboards that have rotten and need replacing.

And yes, like you, we must hire a tree guy (an arborist...sounds fancy, huh?)to trim all the neighbor-across-the-fence's trees that tower 'way over our tin roof, before our busy Florida hurricane season begins...again. In ten years, they've never trimmed their trees. We trim their trees. What's wrong with this picture?

So, like you, our annual summer vacation plans haven't been planned. I need the phone number of the person who said money grows on trees! We were thinking of visiting Yosemite...or Virginia. But here we are in May already with no concrete plans for even a trip to the next town on the map!

Yet God always takes care of our needs. He has been faithful, and in retrospect, we have MUCH to be thankful for. So when the financial output seems to outweigh the financial intake, may we all just sit back and thank the One who supplies all our needs on a daily basis.

Your blog just helped me put things into perspective tonight, and made me realize we're not alone.

And oh...I nearly forgot...about our vacation. We do get an overnight in a hotel while our house is being tented for termites. I'll send you a postcard from there! ;-)

TJ Bennett said...

Ohmigosh, Eve! I think we were separated at birth...

We finally took our dog off the fancy $250 a month dog food. He scratches just as much as he ever did, and we figured he can do that at $20 a bag of dog food just as easily.

Our termite bill came in at $800, since we didn't have to go the tenting route. We're doing Thermidor. Still, it's not cheap...and having a barrier built around the deck (on the same day the Thermidor bait was being laid in by the exterminator--we had dueling diggers) to keep possums out wound up costing us $400, so it sort of worked out the same. :-)

Man, I feel like we should start comparing scars or something...

You're right, though. We're stepping out on faith on our summer. Still trying to get the funds to have the arborist come, though. We found out about a great product called Plylox that can be used to fasten plywood to the windows without having to drill holes in the frame. We're going to try and do that to get ready for hurricane season, too.


Eve said...

Plylox...OK I'll check it out online. We counted our windows the other day, however, and came up with some crazy number like 29. We counted only because we found an article in our local newspaper(let's see...I have it right here) about a new product called Armorcoat Window Film. Says it's an alternative to shutters and plywood for hurricane protection. It's apparently designed to withstand 120 mph hurricane force winds. Hmmm...what happens if it's a Category 5? And what will it cost X 29? I hate hurricanes!

Check out my new blog entitled, "Wonders of Life." I'm having problems figuring out how to do more, but ONE day, you'll see more than what's currently posted. I know...we'll ask a student! Hubby's students seem to know about computer-oriented issues like I know about my dog's allergies! I could be a veterinary dermatologist by now.

And yes...we DO have much in common!