Tag Archives: home loans

The Best Beginning

We just found out on Monday that we were approved for the HAMP loan modification that we applied for so that we won’t lose our house.  This is the best possible way to start the new year.  I don’t deal well with uncertainty and we’ve been going through this for two years now.  Well, truly, almost from the day we first moved in here four years ago.  If you want more of the details and thoughts that go along with this news you can read about it here.  So I’m feeling deeply relieved and deeply thankful for this news.

In the past couple of years I have been more focused on just coping with stress from day to day, trying to help my kid with his challenges, and I have retreated into my writing – all of which was good and necessary but leaving my garden to do its thing has resulted in a giant mess.  A colossal mess.  Now that we get to stay we have some real things to face.  The first is much more extreme budgeting.  This is not going to be easy but it is necessary in order to make this work.  (No, the bank didn’t reduce our loan by much money – they fixed some other things that would have forced us to move soon, such as the adjustable rate and other things I can’t be bothered to go into.)

The important thing is that now that we’ve been approved for this adjustment we know the bank isn’t going to kick us out and as long as we can make our payments, we’re here for good.  I have to admit that there have been times when I fantasized about getting kicked out because then we could move to Portland out of this god-forsaken little town of ours… but truly, I love my weird house and I’ve become accustomed to being a freak in the Oregon bible belt and we know most of the cool people here.  Plus, it’s pretty around here.

So here are a few things I want to work on around here as time allows:


  • Soft spendy cheeses for special occasions only.
  • No beer except for very rare occasions (cheap wine instead, but only a few days a week, not every day).
  • No second pots of coffee.  When first pot runs out, make tea.
  • Cut Kung Fu classes.  (We can still practice the Kung Fu we already know)
  • Meal planning.  (I have the toughest time with this but every time I do it, I spend less money on grocery shopping.)

In the Garden:

  • Continue to cut back and uproot all the blackberries.  Huge job.  Long-term.
  • Prune the roses so we have a great crop of them this year for filling vases and cheering our poor asses up.
  • Have Philip relocate a couple of the roses that are too close together.
  • Clear out the two empty square beds in preparation for spring planting.
  • Plan the spring garden.  Just list the things you really want to grow, all your priorities, and roughly plan where you want to put them.  The more food we grow, the less we have to buy.
  • Prune the fruit trees by the end of February and apply dormant oil if you can find some that isn’t petroleum based.

Inside the house:

  • Get on a regular cleaning routine.  Starting this Saturday.  Just concentrate on: washing and changing sheets, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, mopping kitchen floor.
  • Apply diatomaceous earth to all floors in the house.  (This was a tip from my friend Ann that our vet agreed was an effective and non-toxic flea control.  Pippa, it turns out, is very allergic to fleas so we need to be on top of this)
  • Curtains on Max’s bedroom window.
  • Wash and sew new covers on all his comforters that have become gross and ratty and depressing.
  • Continue to work on the home-made lotion trials.

That’s plenty to focus on.  It’s important not to overwhelm myself before I even get out the gate.  I have writing to do as well, but these other things need to be given more priority than they have been.  Such improvements will help ease my overall depression which has been so bad lately that I literally want to sleep all the time.   While that’s a classic symptom for many people with clinical depression, that’s not been one of mine.  I don’t sleep well at night, ever, and then I just want to stay in bed all day.  Anyway, fixing up some of the things that depress me that I see every day is a step in the right direction.

Cautiously Hopeful: The Bank Called

After 15 months of no answer from the bank (12 of which they were just completely ignoring us*) we have been approved for a trial period with the HAMP loan.  This, it turns out, is a little anticlimactic because the reason we applied for the loan was to lower our mortgage because we couldn’t afford it.  It’s only been lowered about $50 a month.  It feels a little like going back to square one.  There is a significant change in our loan, however, which I need to be thankful for, which is that the terms of it now include a lower cap on how much our variable rate can go up which is important because the way it was  before we knew that even if we could somehow keep scraping by paying our mortgage, in three years it was going to balloon up to an amount there was no way we could pay.

I want to rejoice that we’re one step closer to keeping our home but I feel dispirited.  An acquaintance got approved for the trial period too and at the end of making all her payments on time she was refused the loan in the end.  So we are by no means in the clear.  However, that was over a year and a half ago and I can’t see any reason why, at this point with the market absolutely flooded with foreclosures, why our bank would refuse to give us this loan if we make our payments on time and in full.  They have nothing to gain by putting this house into foreclosure.  They won’t recoup their money.  They’re better off keeping us here, making payments on a loan that isn’t much different from the one they originally made with us.

Who can say what will happen?  We start paying our new mortgage starting in November.  What this means for us is that we’re going back to being seriously cash poor.  No traveling for me, possibly ever again.  Serious grocery budgeting.  Back to rarely going out to dinner (we’ve been going out once a week as a family treat for the last year).  It means dropping some Kung Fu.  (I’m hoping to keep my forms class but until we start paying the new mortgage I can’t tell if this is realistic or not)  It definitely means no beer on a regular basis which is great for the waistline but not so great for stress relief.  We will not be able to buy books anymore (we don’t spend tons of money on them or anything but it was nice to be able to buy some great books for Max this year after being able to buy so few before).  It will be hard to take care of things like my teeth which need serious work, Max’s therapy, fixing my scooter (which seems to be having transmission problems), and buying pet flea care ($$$)**, any other crap that crops up that needs to be dealt with.

Do I sound pessimistic?  I’m worried.  I haven’t forgotten the hell year we had of barely scraping up enough for groceries some months.  One other difference, though, is that my  mom is here now.  She is pretty poor herself, depending on social security for her income.  (Incidentally, for those of you who want to abolish this institution – you wait until you’re old and in poor health and can’t work enough to pay to stay alive and depend on your poor relations to somehow scrape by enough to keep you alive- this is no joke.  I am so thankful my mom has something coming in after years of hard work!)  Anyway, my mom’s income is mostly going towards bills that cannot be excused just because she retired.  But she is going to try to budget too so she can contribute to the mortgage.  She really wants to help and that’s what she’ll do if she can.  So truly, things may not be as bleak as they were before.

It’s been a couple of days since we found out and as it sinks in that the bank is not, so far, planning to boot us out of the house, I am slowly succumbing to some optimism.  Allowing myself to think about planting my elderberry and rose from my friend Riana.  I am cautiously allowing myself to believe we might actually get to stay here.  We love this place.  None of us want to move.  As my mom has  been working hard all summer on our garden and produced for us a great crop of beans and tomatoes and other good things we have been dreaming of the things we’ll plant next year, the beds we’ll add, the changes we’ll make so our property feeds us ever more food.  From one barrel we have a bumper crop of cayenne peppers, we have dried enough thyme to supply us for a year, we’ve dried stevia too, and kale.  There’s so much more to do, so much more we can grow.  And with our financial situation being so tight, staying here means that it’s never been more important to grow food and herbs.

This is the first year my quince has produced anything worth talking about.  The immature fuzz has faded and I have several quince coming closer to harvest time.  I have been watching that ancient fruit forming, clinging to the tree surrounded by a thicket of roses gone a bit wild, and it’s seemed to me a representation of everything I hope for.  I want to see that tree mature.  I want to see crops of quince so large I throw up my hands and say “What shall I do with so much quince?!”.  I wasn’t even sure, months ago, that I would be here to see it fruit this summer.  Now it looks like I’ll at least get to harvest the fruits it made and I can start thinking about what I’ll make with them.

It’s tough for so many people out there.  It just keeps getting tougher.  There are so many people out there having an even harder time than we are.  We’re employed and that is saying a lot right now.  So while I’m feeling cautiously hopeful about being able to stay in this house, I am also taking some time to be grateful for the things we have and the good things that have come our way.


*They don’t even look at HAMP applications while you have an open bankruptcy file.  But they failed to inform us of this.  That was 12 months of needless paperwork Philip put together every single month.  Would have been nice to know this.

**I do intend to start using diatomaceous earth in the carpets and on the pets to help control fleas as my friend Ann suggested and maybe eventually that will be all we need (and that’s pretty cheap stuff).  At the moment they are recovering from a bad infestation and they need the big bad chemical treatment.