Before we head back to the mountain house…

“In order to be an immaculate member of a flock of sheep, one must above all be a sheep oneself.” (Albert Einstein)

In the past few days, I’ve mumbled “Just shoot me now.” more than once. Probably at least three times. In a good week I only have to deal with one of the following: Direct TV, BrightHouse, Anthem Blue Cross, Sprint or Citizens Insurance. In a bad week I have an encounter with Pudgy Fingers at Bank of America. (If you don’t know that rant, you’re not on my FB and it’s just as well. That was both an all time high and an all time low in rants, applauded by many.) This week I have had to deal with ALL of the above, plus a plumber, a rodent control person, a wind mitigation insurance inspection, an appraiser and a new bank. This last group, to a one, have been quite nice and professional but still. The contractor who did the improvements on the house didn’t have his crew reattach the screening that covers the cinder block vents that are common to Florida houses where you have crawl spaces rather than basements. Rats got in and ate through the main house drain. Really? I know. Really. Most likely they came to call after a major rousting from construction on the house next door. Rats are endemic to places with citrus trees. Anyway, they got thirsty enough that they ate through the drain. We called pest control. Crawl spaces are not nice and the access is a little 3 x 2 hole in the closet floor of the guest room. About the third time someone squeezed out of that crawl space covered in mud and filth with a giant dead rat, I said “Just shoot me now.”

(The plumber noted that sometimes, here in Florida, rats come up into the toilets through the pipes. WTH? This is the stuff of nightmares.)

Then the plumber went down and came up and looked like he might be having a heart attack so I invited him to sit his filthy self down and have some ice tea. He recovered, left and once again I cleaned up the mess and shoved some of the detritus that doesn’t fit in this tiny house back in the closet before the appraiser came. But before he could get here, the screen repair guy came and everything was dumped out and down he went with bales of screen and tools and then he came up wheezing and sweaty and I cleaned again and refilled the closet.  Not 24 hours passed and the mitigation guy came to inspect the house for homeowners insurance. This is because, although Florida is notorious for gouging people on their homeowners insurance, I have long felt as though we are being especially gouged. Singled out, you might say. This house is a piece of sh historic property which means we get to pay 3500.00 a year to insure 1200 sq ft for 200,000 which it is probably not worth and definitely wouldn’t be enough to replace it. We also haven’t been getting any credit for new hurricane shutters, new roof, new heating/cooling, etc. And we’ve been charged for being in a flood zone, which we are not, according to the city. We are on relatively high ground. The solution is you hire a mitigation inspector to come and certify that you have certain protections and then hopefully your insurance rate is reduced.

The mitigation inspector came and I sort of whimpered, “You don’t have to go in the crawl space do you?” and mercifully he said, “No.” Instead he pulled down the ceiling ladder and crawled up into the attic to look at the inside construction of the roof. Insulation rained out of the attic and I sighed. When he came down about 10 minutes later he said the new roof was up to snuff but it appeared there was a possum living in the attic. Just shoot me now.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (St Matthew 7:15)

In my never ending effort to put as much distance as possible between those criminals Bank of America and ourselves, we’ve applied for a new mortgage with a bank that seems, up to this point, helpful and courteous. They’ve offered us a good rate compared to Bank of America, where they are braced to raise our already outrageously high adjustable rate through the heavens when it comes up for change in 10 months. The fine print of the contract that was signed 6 years and 3 banks back notes that, in lieu of attaching our rate to some reasonably low federal index plus some, they can attach it to any old index- oil futures, gold, intergalactic exploration, whatever- and then add a whole lot more for their trouble. How does 10.75 percent sound? Funny, the stuff you’ll sign without considering all the possibilities of the fine print. So, early this morning a very kind, round appraiser shows up to figure out how much our house is worth. We already know that what seemed like a lot of down payment equity a few years ago is now a drop in the bucket of a dead housing market, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed. We spent the past little while stripping and refinishing 600 feet of deck, power washing the house, cleaning (and re-cleaning) from top to bottom in preparation. The house now, on the eve of our return to North Carolina for the year, is so spit-spot that it sparkles in that way that houses do only when they are up for sale, not when people are actually living in them. This gentleman measured, photographed, scrutinized the premises and admired it greatly. And then he spent half an hour telling me horror stories of every single upside-down house he’s appraised in the last six months. Just shoot me now.

(It’s a cute little house.)

The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same. (Stendal)

Meanwhile, back in the world of health insurance, Anthem Blue Cross is trying to kill us. There are many details and hours of heated exchange about how they quoted us, in correspondence which we signed, copied for our records and returned, the wrong rate. I won’t go into all that because it would get your blood pressure up, too. Although we’ve been, all these months, dutifully paying that quoted and already prohibitive rate that makes us seriously consider living uninsured, we fell behind by a couple hundred dollars, unbeknownst to us. (what kind of sentence is that?) I guess the real rate was a secret, kept only unto Anthem Blue Cross. We didn’t know any of this until we showed up for Rich’s middle-aged person’s routine colonoscopy (which means he’s already having fun, right?) and the little clerk informs us that that will be a deposit of 1700.00 please, because our health insurance was cancelled. The total cost will be determined after the fact, depending on the state of his colon.(It’s good. In the end, no pun intended, we are always grateful.)  The one and only thing that is covered short of the Mack truck scenario under our policy is now not, because we have been cancelled. Seriously. the ONLY thing they cover is a routine colonoscopy and it’s so exciting to have something, anything covered by insurance that it seemed like a great idea to drink a gallon of Go-Litely and toddle on over to have it done. So I said to Rich, “Hey! This is great! You go first!” except after he did, endlessly, we find our insurance has been cancelled. Just shoot me now.

Wait. I’ll do it myself. The idea seems even more attractive because THIS HAS COME TO MY ATTENTION. Click on the link to see this 3000 year old innovation. Right when I despair that the whole world has gone mad AND is against us a friend sends me this. In an age when so many old fashioned common sense ideas have  fallen by the wayside, when all sense and sensibility seems out of reach and values have thinned to translucency HERE is an old idea whose time has come. Debby, a savvy woman of great good Midwestern sense,  passed this on to me and by God, it makes death look down right attractive. I mean this is everything I have been trying to explain to people for the past two years. Cozy, soft, warm, no artificial colors, ecologically sound. I am about to re-write “cremation, please” to “wool coffin, please.”

Wool: The Perfect Fiber

Sheep : The Perfect Animal









These sheep which belong to Donald Slater of Whitehouse Farm Centre, Morpeth, Northumberland, were sprayed, using the paint with which farmers traditionally mark their flocks, with the words of a “haik-ewe.” They were then left to graze, and the poems formed as they wandered into different patterns were noted down.

And for Bonnie, who always leaves perfectly poetic comments :

Si quelqu’un veut un mouton, c’est la preuve qu’il en existe un.”






16 responses to “Before we head back to the mountain house…

  1. Beth Ann Choate

    Holy Crap- the house is cute, insurance companies are as bad as government and please don’t shoot yourself, I really like you!!!

  2. The other day I removed a wool blanket that we had wrapped around an outside water pipe on the coldest winter days. Out tumbled the most beautifully constructed little mouse nest, made of the very wool of the blanket. It made me think of you. Then, of course, there was one tiny baby mouse wrapped up in it as well. I took the whole thing and put it outside the fenced yard into the woods. Hopefully, there was a wonderful mouse family reunion, and all went well. Thinking about rats coming up through the toilet is about as horrific as any scary story. I only worried about stuff like that while trying to get quickly out of an outhouse. And even then I was only thinking about black widows and not rats, but you can never be sure about what lurks in the creepy dark.

    After reading about your experience with banks and insurers, I begin to understand why people hire lawyers and sue these lunatics. It’s outrageous.

    Good luck.

  3. You say “Just shoot me” and I send you coffin ideas. Nice timing … haha. Safe travels to the mountain house.

  4. So no more winter in FL, summer in NC?

  5. amarkonmywall

    FC- We will indeed winter in Florida and summer in NC. Despite all my tongue-in-cheek pissing and moaning I love this little rat infested house and most all of the Florida native species, PF included. It will be a sad winter when I don’t have the Hannibals in the nest above and the owls down at Boyd Hill and all my neighbors. We’re assuming we will figure out a new mortgage situation, etc. etc. All of this misery is with an eye towards keeping ourselves part-time Florida. And I’m ready for seeds. 😉

  6. Well thanks Vicki, you just made me feel not so bad about my having to wait the entire month of March for a relatively small home equity loan, then having to wait five days to collect the money, then having the bank where I deposited the money tell me it would not be available for another week. Banks just like to mess with people! Have a pleasant journey to the mountains.

    • Lee Christmas

      The world has lost its way!!!!
      Im going to visit the mountain house this summer.
      A friend had a rat eat 1,000 dollars of her car wires.

  7. I don’t know where to start – and I’m late for an after-funeral reception, so I’ll just say I would have said “just shoot me now” more than 3-4 times, were I you.

    In fact, I said it this morning, when I went under the house to see if there was a leak – and darned it there wasn’t. Probably more than one. Again, “Just shoot me now.”

  8. I feel guilty for laughing so hard. Makes me want to slap Bank of America and/ or a health insurance company up side the head just for pure joy. Miss you very much. Travel safely.

  9. I pass the “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” trophy to you….. I don’t think I deserve it any more.;)

  10. The woolen coffins are fantastic! I can’t wait to show Josh, who still claims he wants to be encased in Lexan and made into a coffee table. I simply won’t allow THAT.

  11. Sigh. Now, go stick a popsicle in your ear!

  12. Hugs from Wisconsin. Where I’ve been without internet for three days. And that’s the worst I can do today. You win for sure. Or lose? Safe journey’s friend.

  13. My eye started twitching just reading this. It sounds too close to home. Except instead of rats, we have raccoons. In the garage. I will miss you.

  14. All’s wool that ends wool.~Wooliam Sheepsheare

    I love haik ewe; I enjoy a good pun!
    And, the woolen casket idea est tres bonne!
    “Si quelqu’un veut un mouton,
    C’est la preuve qu’il en existe un.”

    I’m rambunctious, yet sheepish
    On interpreting your poem;
    But I’m certain that Saint-Exupéry
    Meant something quite solemn.

    Not as dire as death,
    For Heaven’s sake.
    (If I die before waking,
    May my soul He take.)

    I’m sorry to hear of your woes over money.
    And, thanks alot for mutton, honey.
    Please, before you think of death, little Dorcus,
    Buy a third home on the island of Orcas.

    I love ewe and your bleeting heart,
    Mrs. BAAAD

  15. You really take your companionship with animals to a whole other level, with the possum, the rats and the sheep. I prefer mine in cages or out in the wilds of Africa somewhere, unless they’re domestic and housebroken. Reading your latest reminds me of my grandson, a little over two months old now. Everytime we visit, he has a tale of woe to tell me.

    I saw that your son was leader of some jazz ensemble who was playing at some new venue in Depot Town there in Ypsilanti. But that’s old news now probably.

    My wife deals with medical insurance companies every day as part of her job. Good luck.

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