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​This update was supposed to appear at the end of last week. Unfortunately, chaos happened. Taking down the tree, planning my daughter’s sleepover birthday party, avoiding politics and failing all contributed to not completing my writing the way I wanted it to.

I did manage in the days before the chaos to get some introductions and background info on both House and Wales. They are by no means complete, and they’re barely first drafts, but they are something and I plan on continuing little by little. These updates not only get the job done, it gets it started and it gives me something to post on those biweekly Fridays.

Stay on track and Accountability.

Excerpt from House:

Buying a house was always one of those assumed things that we would do. We never really thought about how it would happen, where the money would come from, only that eventually we would buy a house.

As our credit grew increasingly worse, and our income declined when I began to stay home with my children, it was more of a worry, especially in 2003 when our landlord, who we thought was our friend, evicted us. My father had just died, on Mother’s Day, we had serious car trouble on the Throgs Neck Bridge with no credit card, and now for the third month in a row, disaster struck. We had thirty days to get ourselves and our six year old son out. We’d done nothing wrong, our rent was always on time, we took care of this large three bedroom apartment as if it was our own, but the landlord sold his own house, and wanted a place to live.

We didn’t know that people lied about the simplest things with the house. We didn’t know that they covered up flaws that went unnoticed at inspections, walk-throughs, closings, and other glances at items. We didn’t know that New York state had such archaic real estate laws that once we signed the contract we were completely screwed, no matter what the inspector found. 

We were misled as to the age of things, what lay under the carpeting, and worst of all, the level of unseen damage and obfuscation of quality of work and workmanship.

All of these things would cost us money, contribute to stress and physical medical ailments, and reduced our cost of living substantially.

Any time I talk about buying our house or anyone talks about buying a house, no matter what neighborhood, what marital status, what size house or price, I can say that 99.9% of them describe it as the most traumatic even of their lives. It is the worst thing they’ve ever had to do.

I would have to agree with that.

Excerpt on some background for Wales

My first trip to Wales was in college. I met my friend there. She was my roommate and she was student teaching and asked me to join her during the Christmas holiday for about three weeks. I was fortunate to be able to take the opportunity. It changed my life in many good ways. It gave me things, soul-deep things that have only grown in the thirty years that have passed by in the interim.

The itinerary was planned by her. We would start in London, head west to Wales, and then loop up to the Highlands of Scotland, turning back south from there to London and then home. She had already been touring on her eight weeks there, so of course, she didn’t want to repeat anything. My limited “demands” were Big Ben, a medieval castle, and Stonehenge. I was pretty easy. I’m a good follower; at least I was thirty years ago, but those were what was important to me.

My round trip airfare was $312 and the travel agent that booked me was the wife of my other college roommate’s chemistry teacher. It’s funny that I can remember the exact amount, but I can’t remember their last name. I’m sure I still have the paperwork somewhere.

My friend met me at Gatwick Airport, relatively newly known at the time. At least, most people outside of London had only heard of Heathrow. She waited while I went through customs, a very painless experience, and then we got on some transit to get to London proper. I had been on the flight since the night before, and it was only 10am local time. I called home briefly, but it was tremendously expensive. There were no cell phones. All I had was a phone card so I would use the phones in the hostel or the red boxes scattered throughout the cities and towns.

Wales was a two day adventure in the heart of the Snowdon Mountains. We traveled by British Rail and foot power. Wales is not known for its public transportation although it has some. It was hard to line up with all of the transferring we needed to do, but as I said: seat-of-our-pants. We get so far and then improvise.

For Wales, we took British Rail, which was a lovely train ride, to Betws-y-Coed. I can remember sitting on the train on one side of a table. I don’t think it was a dining car per se, but it had a table to put your food on. Or your journal, in my case. Big picture windows with the greenery below a grey sky, stone walls and sheep dotting the countryside. It was January and I was astonished at how green everything still was. It must be all that rain.

The train left us off at the train station. It was very brown, wooden and roofed, the platform right there. I noticed that everything was bilingual. In the 80s there had been a resurgence of learning the Welsh language, so all the signs were in both English and Welsh. I began to keep an ongoing dictionary in my journal. When I got back, I even tried to learn Welsh. It is not an easy language to get a hold of.

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