Friday, January 30, 2009

news from justin...

I’ve been hearing from Justin non-stop for the past 16 hours; using all forms of communication.

Yesterday in the mail I received my very first EVER letter from Justin. Short and sweet.

Then at 3:26AM, I received a text message from him reiterating that it’s stressful there.

“I love you mom. I miss talking to you. I earned my cell today for being a good soldier, Haha! It’s very stressful here, and I don’t sleep much. But I love you.”

At 5:01AM, I received an email from him of a picture he took of himself.

Then just before 10AM, he called me. He wanted to tell me that he’s been transferred to a different unit, his graduation has been put off two weeks and that he needed to get off the phone and into formation.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

the latest on the house research...

Called Jack today to find out how the search is going. He said he was at the Macomb County building finishing up. I can’t imagine that he’s only working on our property abstract.

Anyway, he said that he has traced it back to when the property was purchased in 1946. It had been platted and then re-platted in the late 40’s early 50’s. He says he has not found the builder of the house yet; that he is going to accessing to see if he can find the information there.

He said that it looks like the house was built in 1949.

He told me that the paperwork would be done tomorrow and we could make arrangements and meet somewhere.

He’s got all the names of the previous owners and the years that they owned the property. I’m a little excited to start my part of the research.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

update on the mantle...

We put the mantle back up on the wall this weekend. Jerome just finished drawing up the plans for the portion above the mantle.

At the beginning (back in 2006) we had thought that we would cut out two areas in the wall above the mantle and create some shadow boxes…that idea is evolving.

I saw a picture of a fireplace in a Better Homes & Gardens magazine. This fireplace did not have shadow boxes, but instead it had a kind of paneling…like wainscoting. So, that is the idea we are going with. I was thinking that if I had Jerome do all that work of cutting out two holes in the wall and building boxes to fit in said holes – how would he feel if I would only decorate those shadow boxes with the stars that I currently have on the mantle? I am still planning on putting those stars up and the old storm window for the side lights, because I like the look.

Tomorrow night, after we “work out” at Bally’s, we will go to Home Depot and pick up some of the materials, like the wood and the crown molding.

We are hoping to have this done before we have our friends Agata and Roberto over, since they are the ones giving us the hardest time about how long it’s been taking to build this thing.

latest update about the research...

Thursday, January 22, I received a call from Jack. He said that he would be done the following day with all the investigations. However, he had run into a snag. He cannot find the deed to one of the owners, and if he is unable to find it, he will not be able to continue with the investigation. He told me he knows it’s there; it’s just a matter of finding it. I told him he could take his time.

I have not heard from him since and I’m wondering if the snag was really something bigger than he or I thought. I really hope that he can find the deed and can continue with the investigation.

I guess I’m still waiting.

researching the history of our semi-old home...

The house we purchased at the end of 2004, and moved into in June of 2005 is a house that was built in 1949 according to township records.

According to the township, this date is an estimate of when the house was built. I was told by a woman in assessing that on the oldest field sheet they have in our file, they have the house being built in 1949E. The “E” means the person their department talked to thought it was built in 1949. Another woman I spoke to at the township said that in the 70’s the township was trying to update their records, so they had employees going from house to house asking for the vital information. That is how they came up with the estimate.

All that is well and good, but one summer I was sitting on the patio and noticed something scraped into one of the bricks: 8/16/48. Does this mean it was built before 1949 or was this some sort of special date that one of the previous owners wanted to preserve in a brick?
The first time I went to the Historical Society to inquire about finding out about the history of the house was late 2005 to early 2006. I picked up their pamphlet that has all the suggestions on how to go about finding out this information. It seemed at that time, and still does, like a daunting task. Difficult to complete when you have a full time job and the places you need to get the information from are open only during regular working hours. You can try what you can on the internet, but really, you need to go to places like the county register of deeds & probate court.

So on Thursday, January 15, 2009, I followed the instructions in the RHS pamphlet. I got in touch with the Title Company that took care of our title when we purchased the house. I asked them if they do a “property abstract” and they told me they do not. I asked if they could give me a name of someone who does and she told me to contact other title companies. It’s just theirs that does not “get into that”.

I went on Google and searched for “property abstract Michigan”, and a website with a bunch of names of companies that do that sort of work came up. I picked the first one that was on the list. AAA Abstracting Services, LLC. The ad stated that they are a Title search company willing to go that extra mile for its customers. We service Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties Offering Abstracting, Document Recording and Retrieval Services. I spoke to Jack Gamble – I hope his last name isn’t an indicator as to what I’m up against.

I explained to him what I needed and why I wanted the information**. He told me that he could find out all the information for 60 bucks. Later he told me that if I wanted copies of all this stuff, it would be $1 a page. I asked him if it would be “hundreds” of pages. He told me that he would keep it affordable.

He told me he would start working on this information right away.

On Friday, January 16, I received a call from Jack stating that he was nearly finished but still needed to go to the County Register of Deeds to do the final research. However, he would not be able to do that on Monday because it is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and I mentioned that Tuesday might be a problem too, since it is inauguration day.

I’m waiting to hear back from him.
**what I need is the property abstract that lists all the previous owners of the property all the way back to the original owner. I would need the dates they owned the property. I would need the year the house was built and the builder. I would need proof of all of that information. Once I get the names of the people, I can do some research of my own as to who they were, what they did for a living, if there were any kinds of stories that went along with the people and the house. This should be the fun part.

The reason I want the information is so that I can apply for a historical plaque for the house and because I have volunteered for the 2009 Romeo Historical Christmas Home Tour and would like some information to tell the guests about the house.

Monday, January 26, 2009

a call from fort jackson...

I heard from Justin last night. He was calling from a payphone at Fort Jackson. He is not yet in full blown Basic Training; he is still in what they call “reception”.

Well the reception from the payphone in reception was awful! But here is what I did understand:

He says he really loves it and can’t see himself doing anything else other than Army life. He says he made his grade of E-3, which means he’ll be making more money. He went from making $1340 a month as E-1 to making $1650 a month by becoming E-3. So that’s a nice difference. And he will be called Private First Class.

He gave me a tentative date for graduation; April 3 or 4th. That would work out perfectly for me and I hope it works out for him. He mentioned that he’d like to come home after graduation since he doesn’t have to report to AIS until the 13th. I didn’t think about it at the time, but we have plans to go to Connecticut and Rhode Island during the Easter weekend to visit Nick & Erin. Maybe he’d have to tag along.

Then he told me that if he doesn’t pass all of his PT stuff, they may hold him back which would add another 6 weeks to his Basic Training. This would work out for me too – as long as he doesn’t have his graduation during the time that we’re supposed to go to France, I think all will be fine. Crossing fingers.

He told me that he has not laughed at the Drill Sergeant while he is yelling at the troops, like he had been planning. In fact, he is getting upset with some other Privates that are making noises in the formation line – because that means they get punished. For instance, they are last in line for chow. He says it’s not the fact that they have to eat last, it the fact that they have to stand at attention or in formation the whole time they are waiting in line and he doesn’t like that. He gave me the impression that he would take matters into his own hands.

This was something that I thought would be the opposite for him. I thought he would be the one that would be goofing off and that he would be hazed by the others because he was clowning around. I’m sort of happy to hear it’s the other way around. However, I do not condone violence to combat your problems.

Anyway, he wanted me to let everyone know that he’s doing fine and to look for letters in the mail.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

jerome won!...

Michigan MINI Motorin' Club

1st Place: MINImoo2 (Jerome), 2nd Place: dryice694 (Mark), 3rd Place: Nelzie (Robert)...and 4th Place TheWrks (Scott) (lower right)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

some shots of the snow...

you're in the army now...

Justin was picked up by Sgt. Austin yesterday at 4:10am from his home in Falls Church, VA. He arrived at Ft. Meade, MD around 5:45am.

I got a call from him at 6:15pm. He was still on the bus heading toward Ft. Jackson, SC. They had just stopped for some "grub". He said he didn't feel much like eating, so he had a burger without a bun, a piece of pizza and a chicken sandwich...I wonder how much he eats when he does feel like it :)

His Journey has officially begun.

I'm sure that today he is wondering what he got himself into.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Since we decided that we would stay home for the two week holiday break, we made a list of things that we could do around the house.

We hardly completed a thing.

During our time off, we slept in until nearly noon pretty much everyday. We would stay up until around 2 or 3am. That’s a lot of sleep!

  • We worked a bit on the fireplace, but it’s far from complete.
  • We worked on a few iMovie projects: DeYonker outtakes, elfyourself and the MINI GLC3. Not done.
  • We attended our niece’s marriage ceremony (this was not on our ‘to-do’ list).
  • We purchased some new office chairs and Jerome put them together – I disassembled the old ones so that we can recycle the metal and plastic – don’t really know what to do with the seat and back cushions - the cats are currently using them to sit/lay on.
  • We got the paperwork together and visited 2 mortgage companies to see if it would be in our best interest to refinance the houses for a lower interest rate. Turns out, it wouldn’t make a difference.
  • We bought airline tickets for our France trip this spring.
  • We took a look at our 401K contributions to see what we may change. We are going to wait to do anything until the end of the month – waiting for dividends.

Monday, January 5, 2009

justin bustin ~ big j ~ jd : thoughts...

Justin came in on the 22nd. I have to admit, I was anxious to see him and talk with him. I was happy that he would be in my presence for a time, now that he seemed to be getting his life sorted out.

It was a little over 2 years ago that I visited him in DC and he “dumped” me on day 2 and exactly 3 years ago that he last came to Michigan…also a dramatic story (see ** below).

I had high hopes for this visit – probably, knowing me, too high.

The visit was mostly good. We didn’t find things missing, we weren’t lied to continually, and he hasn’t got a driver’s license any longer so, no need to worry about the cars. We were on vacation the whole time, so he was never at home alone. We didn’t have a curfew since we weren’t working so; we actually outlasted him at staying up late every night. All this was good.

He’s still an easygoing kind of person, easy to laughter, holds a conversation, nice, good looking, friendly face, etc. But I couldn’t help but become more and more perplexed with similarities to his father or the Bruce family. He sometimes has a cutting sense of humor (which isn’t funny and won’t get him far), he no longer holds the same ideals as me and seemed to be continually trying to be my polar opposite. Maybe this is just a rebellion since he probably feels very much abandoned by me. He left behind all the Christmas gifts that I bought for him. He was even reminded and just purposely didn’t pack the items. That is so Danny – no emotional connection to anything – can leave it all behind (maybe that could be a virtue too). He has a veracious appetite for beer and can drink one after another after another. SCARY! So scary that I took him for a private drive around the back roads of Romeo; the “Natural Beauty” roads and spoke to him about it. He agreed that he can really down the beers and it doesn’t seem to affect him. He told me that was a concern of the last Commanding Officer that interviewed him prior to being sworn into the Army. The CO noticed that Justin had a couple of drinking offenses and warned him that the military breeds alcoholics. It was a good conversation and I thought everything had been covered and he had put me at ease…until the next day, when I had to pick him up from a friend’s house in Armada, where another friend left him. He called for a ride and I swear, I was talking to his father! He was slurring his words and behaving so pitifully. I picked him up and couldn’t speak the whole drive home – what could I say that hasn’t already been said?

The other thing that really bothered me, however I’ve been told by several parents of adult children and teens that it shouldn’t bother me – that they ALL do it…the cell phone! Constantly texting and calling people in Virginia (or even Michigan). Why visit Michigan if all you are going to do is continually communicate with the people you just left behind for only a week??? And when I say constant, I mean CONSTANT! You can’t have a conversation with them that isn’t interrupted by a text or a call or a cell phone photo opportunity that instantly needs to be uploaded to Facebook or MySpace. Very distracting and deflating. Why are you here? Aren’t you going to visit with me? Give me your “undivided” attention?

I must say, I fell into a small depression after he left (it started while he was here). It just doesn’t seem like we know each other any more. Like I’ve really lost him. Some people say that they come back to you, but I know from my own experience with myself, I can’t say that I’m really “there” for my parents – not my complete, undivided attention. A lot of the time I’m wishing I was somewhere else…depending on how the mood is at the house when I arrive for a visit.

We are different people. He moved with his father at age 15 ½ with my approval.

I’m just so happy though that he seems to finally be on a path that will lead him somewhere better than he has ever been. I hope my highest hope that he really does well with this Army thing. I am so proud of him so far. I hope that they don’t break him in Basic Training to the point where he doesn’t want to complete.

I can’t wait for him to go to Basic and I can’t wait to see him graduate!!!

**Justin was kicked out of Michigan – yes, Michigan by ME back in July of 2005 after many overlapping issues that I won’t get into here and my mother having and causing anxiety. When Christmas 2005 came around, both Danny and Justin asked me if it would be OK for Justin to come to Michigan. I told them both that I didn’t think that would be a good idea, since I would like to be consistent in my punishment. Justin was not allowed to come back “home” until he met several conditions. One was that he needed to be 21 years of age – because I did not want to be held responsible for an underage drinker. He needed to have a job and his own money to spend on food, gas, entertainment and cigarettes. If he had a job, he needed to have approved vacation time. The list goes on – I’m very conditional when things are going upside-down.

Neither of them listened to me and the next thing I know, Justin is being dropped off at my parents house by his father, Danny. Justin stayed for a couple of days and then went back with his father for a Bruce Family outing – but something “dramatic” happened and the next thing I know, Justin is again dropped off at my parents house. This time Danny is stating that he refuses to take Justin back to DC. Danny is full of “shock and awe”, but I always fall for it. I didn’t want Justin in Michigan to begin with and I certainly didn’t want him staying – so I purchased a bus ticket for him to go back to DC. After dropping Justin off at the Greyhound Bus Station in Detroit, I get a call from him saying that the bus broke down and that it was turning around. They would have to wait for a replacement bus. He wanted me to come back and get him, but I would not. I told him to wait for the replacement bus. Later (not long), Justin called and said that his father called him and was willing to bring him back to DC – but he was not leaving until the next day, so if Justin would want to drive with him, he would need to get back a hold of me, have me pick him up and then Justin would have to spend another night at my parents – because Justin was not allowed to stay at any of Danny’s families homes – due to aforementioned overlapping issues which caused him to be kicked out in the first place. I was bewildered of the audacity of my ex-husband. I guess he doesn’t understand consistency. I told Justin to stay on the bus as it was more reliable.

I don’t know what happened from there – I haven’t asked.

home for the holidays…

I got up early to pick him up from the airport not realizing that it had snowed a bunch more and that traffic would be terrific (as the song goes).

I was late picking him up – he had to sit and wait for me for over an hour.

We were happy to see each other and gave a big hug.

He was thrilled about the snow and started taking pictures to show his friends down south. It reminds me of the email story that goes around from time to time about Michigan winters – if I find it, I’ll post it. Very funny; basically you are enchanted with it on the first day, but then you digress as the days of snow continue on…

The plan was to stop in at FEV to drop off some pop for the guys, have Justin see where I work and meet some of my co-workers. Then meet a bunch of my old co-workers from EDAG for lunch at CK Diggs.

The conversation at the table during lunch was all about the auto industries woes and we found out that for a few people there, it was their last day with EDAG – they were laid off.

Then we went home. I had Justin help me shovel some of the new snow and suggested that he take the plastic sheet and slide down the hill along the side of the house. It didn’t work very well and he just rolled and got snow everywhere, so I excused him so that he could get dry and finished the shoveling the rest of the driveway myself.

We had a nice rotisserie chicken dinner (thanks Toney Querio!) in the dining room (very rare) and toasted his entrance into the Army.

Later that evening we did some shopping. I bought him a Carhart hat, pjs, slippers and socks. And then he asked if it was too late to go visit grandma and grandpa. It was a short but sweet visit.

He spent a day or two with his friends and some Bruce family members.

Christmas Eve we went to grandma and grandpas place. Everyone was on their best behavior, kind of. It was a small gift exchange and we played games and ate hors d’oeuvres and dessert. Sang Happy Birthday to grandma (now 77). We waited for Sam and her new fiancĂ© to come – they were kind of late. They had an announcement that they were going to get married the following Monday at the local district court. Everyone was invited.

Christmas day we exchanged our gifts and later went to Marty and Chris’ place to visit for a while.Every morning we had a nice breakfast – actually it was usually closer to noon – we were all going to bed late – VACATION!

On Saturday we went to Kart2Kart to do some indoor go-kart racing. Justin’s dad picked him up from there to bring Justin with the Bruce family to the Kalahari Resort in Ohio. He would spend the weekend there.

Danny dropped him off on Monday night. We spent some time watching home movies.

Tuesday we went to grandma and grandpas to take care of the recycling. My mother collects paper from herself, a neighbor, me and Martine and once a quarter (it seems) we take it to Great Lakes Recycling to do our part for the environment and to get a little cash too. They were paying .02 cents a pound and my mother routinely would get something like $12 - $15 for her efforts. Justin and I took the recycling back and this time, it was dark in the warehouse so I went looking for someone to help me – after trying to speak to a few guys who don’t speak English, I found someone who told me that they no longer pay for any recycling! Once the market gets back up, then they will again pay, but not now. We had probably the biggest “payload” yet, but ended up just leaving it there to be recycled – with no cash bonus. Oh well.

Then we drove to the new Detroit Tuned and checked it out. Justin met Chad, Tori and John (Hbanero).

Quickly went back home so that Justin could pack and headed out to TGIFriday’s to meet with Pratap, Deepa and Calvin. It was a really nice visit and it was good for them to see each other since they hadn’t in over 3 years. Off to the airport and waited with him until he was through the security.

Bye Justin and good luck with Basic!

holiday drinks 2008...

We invited a bunch of folks over to our place for Holiday drinks again this year. We really enjoyed it last year so thought it would be a good thing to do again.

The invitee list consisted of some of my old friends, new(er) MINI friends, some family, a neighbor and a couple of co-workers. Unfortunately, we remembered a few people too late that we would have really liked to have come – you can’t invite people the day of the party, can you?

Starting very early in the day we started receiving cancellations. These were due to (in order of cancellation) weather conditions, sickness, pregnancy and the latest one; social anxiety!

Only 5 people ended up coming (and one more later). It was a bit disconcerting. One couple came from just outside of Toledo, OH – they even got themselves a hotel room for the night. That made me feel so badly. However, everyone that did come said they had a nice time and that sometimes fewer is better.

the best laid plans…

Jerome and I had been talking about a road trip for several months now, that we were going to take during our Christmas break. We were going to drive to Texas and back; visit San Antonio, the Alamo and probably go through New Orleans on our way back up to Michigan. No solid plans were made and maybe that was our first mistake. If no solid plans are made, then you are opening yourself up for changes.

First change was “when” we were going to leave. Our preliminary talks were that we were going to leave on December 20th and be gone for the whole 2 weeks. Then Jerome was mentioning that he’d like to have some time to relax before and after the trip, so that we could do just that; relax. So the trip became shorter and then the idea of having another “Holiday Drinks” party at the house came to be. We started planning that for Saturday, December 20 and then we would leave on Monday, the 22nd.

Then came an invitation to a company Christmas party at one of the mold suppliers that Jerome works with. That party was during the day on Tuesday, December 23rd. OK, we’ll leave on the 24th…Christmas Eve.

We had already mentioned this plan to both of my sisters-in-law – but we failed to mention it to anyone else. My sister-in-law Chris was visiting my parents – something that she started doing when she started back to work – she goes once a week, very nice – anyway, Chris and my mother were talking about the Christmas Eve plans when Chris said “well, Jerome and Yvonne will be out of town at that time…”. My mother was startled and immediately picked up the phone to verify. I answered and confirmed that the idea is out there, but no definite plans yet. My mother was noticeably disappointed. So, the plan changed again to be to leave on Christmas day and we would only be gone for a week or so.

A few days later my son Justin called to say he was “sworn in” and that all he would like for Christmas is to come home for a visit before he goes off to Basic Training. He hadn’t been “home” in 3 years, so…

OK – plans completely changed now. If Justin comes home for a week right in the middle of our holiday time off – we won’t be able to go on our trip. OK, fine. We have plenty of stuff to keep us busy here at home and the rest of the time we can relax instead of always being on the go.

Maybe next time we’ll come up with solid plans.