Sunday, December 23, 2007

Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt!

Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt! For all of you financially on the rocks. I've already done a financial disaster with my family. The Good news is that I survived! Many people and many families do not survive these types of situations. If you are going through a trying financial situation I recommend seeing, "Conversations With God". While the man in the movie was having conversations with God in Ashland, Oregon, at the same time I was with my family having conversations with God in 1989 in the Mt. Shasta area about 2 hours south from Ashland, Oregon, by car.

I had attended the University of California and lived in Student Housing. However, when I saw the earthquake coming psychically one month before it happened I took my family to Hawaii to avoid the quake which epicenter was only 6 miles from the University of California I was attending. Almost every house from San Francisco to Watsonville was knocked off its foundations and 50 people or more died when this happened and God help you if you were in a brick building.

After being in Hawaii I was still in good standing with the University of California and by now I had moved my family to Mt. Shasta. Once again I applied for student loans so I could finish my degree. I was accepted and told to come get my grants. I made the mistake of believing what they told me as fact. So I put all my furniture in storage in Mt. Shasta and moved out of my house that I was renting with my family and drove my window van to the University and said, "I'm here like you said. Please give me what you promised me so I can rent a house for my family to live while I attend the University." They said, "Oh No! You were misinformed. We can only pay your tuition and books until November." I said, "What are you talking about! I have already moved out of my house and put all my stuff in storage!" They said, "Sorry!" Since I had to care for a wife, a new baby, a 15 year old son and a 17 year old step daughter, we were in a terrible fix because going to Hawaii had saved our lives and the lives of our children but had depleted our savings to zero.

And now for the descent into Hell that this caused at this time. First, my parents and my wife's parents were still mad we went to Hawaii to escape the earthquake. They thought, "So, the earthquake happened but now what. You guys made a bad decision." Well, I don't know about you but if you had a chance to save the lives of your children, wouldn't you?" However, all our relatives were way to unsophisticated for this kind of thinking.

The end result of all this the best way I can explain it is within 4 years my marriage ended which I believe was the price we actually paid to save the lives of our kids in this devastating earthquake. I still believe we did the right thing. Everyone is still alive. We just paid an awful price for it.

I can write about it now only because I'm remarried with a new 11 year old daughter and God has been very good to us indeed financially, and we are very happy and contented in our life by God's Grace.

However, back to the hell we endured for a moment so that it might save your lives now. First of all, things had changed a lot from the 1960's and 1970's. The help available was about 1/10 as good as it was during those times. During the 1960's for example, the country was just so amazingly rich that you would have a very hard time not getting the help you needed no matter what you did. However, by 1989 and 1990 those days were so long gone we saw family after family in a very bad way indeed. I have to say that we only survived as a family because of relatives and friends during those days.

At first, our funds were so low I realized there would be no way to attend school for me and cover my family that fall quarter. So I was very unhappy having to give up college at that time. So, we decided to go back to Mt. Shasta where we had a lot of friends and where if we had to we could camp in the woods until we could rent a house. We met another couple we knew that were well educated like us and who had lived in Europe for some time.(Later this lady became a professor at a local college but this took about 3 to 5 years) So at this point we joined forces both for moral support and to research ways we could survive together as two families struggling for survival.The two large seats that would allow 9 people to sit at once in our window van I removed as they were designed for this and put them with our furniture in storage. Then I built a sleeping platform in our window van out of 1 inch plywood and 2by4's. I bought a king size piece of 5 inch foam which my wife covered with a very nice cloth material and then we made curtains out of 1/4 inch multifoot coil springs and cloth my wife had in storage we attached the coils with screws each end of each window and ran the coils through loops at the top of each curtain. The family we camped with (we were so far away from the little city that no one bothered us.) We camped where fishermen usually did along a major fishing river. So we could stay there for free then.

Our friends had a stationwagon and an Airstream Trailer. Next, so my son could go to the high school I had him stay with a long time friend who drove by the high School on his way to work every day. By this time our 17 year old daughter had had enough of all this and ran away with a guy who was 26 she met on Mt. Shasta. Just so you don't worry about her she dumped him within two years and is now a lawyer in Oregon.

So the 4 of us adults pooled all our knowledge and strategies into surviving together. It started to get below 30 degrees Fahrenheit at night and we were worried about our 2 year old daughter since we didn't have heat after the campfire went out. Finally, our friends found a house that we could rent that was perfect. It was an old 1925 house in an acre of land with 7 walnut trees and 75 year old black cherry trees and various apple, plum and pear trees on it. We let our friends park their car and trailer next to the house and use our bathroom.

Each step of the way it was like pulling teeth. Even though we applied for section 8, low income housing it took us months to be able to fully qualify. This was the hardest it had been in my life to recover from a financial debacle.

From beginning to end not being in a home with a year and a half old daughter was 3 months.By the time we had gone to the University, not been given the grants and loans when promised and then camped out in our window van when it got down to about 25 degrees Fahrenheit or less at night to the point where we would have to break the ice out of a pan of dishwater to use it in the morning we were worn out and felt like we had all aged 20 years by the time we moved into our (new) old house on an acre of land with many fruit trees. Was the house insulated for us? No! I had to get up in the attic to insulate it myself or feel like we were going to freeze to death every night. Since it was obvious in the attic that there had been a pretty bad fire up there at some point that wasn't too encouraging but my 15 year old son and I persisted until it was done right. I wound up wrapping the house and windows in plastic pretty much to keep the wind from blowing through the cracks during the long winters there. I spent one night near thanksgiving up all night stoking the fire so the pipes wouldn't freeze when the temperature went below zero Fahrenheit. Even so, the hot water pipe froze to the washing machine and I had to crawl under the house and replace hot water pipes in under 20 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures the next day.

I guess what I'm getting at is that times are very tough not only in the United States but around the world. You'd better have a strategy or you will be one of the casualties. Think about it!

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