Phew!

Well, today was quite an interesting day, to put it mildly. All started out well with me getting to my lawyer’s office first to prepare me for the “prove up,” as these things are called. We proceeded to court and my sister was there to meet me and give me much-needed support.

The process itself was not too bad. I was glad the judge had a box of tissues available as I did cry a bit, but I was able to answer the questions put to me and all was duly recorded. Afterwards, I had a few minutes to sit with my sister and cry on her shoulder while the lawyer recorded the process with the clerk in the courtroom and the judge moved right on into her next case.

After a stop at another floor where we got a certified copy of the final document, we left the building and I went back to my lawyer’s office to retrieve some things I’d left there. Knitting needles are not allowed in court, so I had to leave my commuting knitting at her office. Luckily my lawyer is a knitter so she was more than happy to accomodate my request to do so.

I left her office with everything I needed for the close of my refinancing, which was scheduled for the afternoon. This was where things got weird.

In between, I did have a bit of leisure time in which I met up with Jamie to have lunch, and then a brief stop at Argo Tea. As I left Jamie at Argo, I noted that I’d likely be back in an hour and we could then spend the rest of the afternoon window shopping or knitting, or even both. Wrong. So wrong.

If anyone reading this has ever closed on a real estate deal, you know that something unexpected *always* seems to pop up. Or maybe that’s just for me. This was my third closing process, and in each and every one something happened that seemed to appear totally out of left field.

There were a few unexpected things that happened during the close today, but I think the biggest, most amazing crazy-ass sounding of them all was the fact that the title company insisted that they needed more than the signed and notarized Quit Claim Deed and the certified divorce agreement to complete the close. They needed a document signed by Mark stating that his conditions were satisfied by providing the signed Quit Claim Deed.

This until today unheard of document has no official name, nor does it have to take any specific format or be notarized. It just has to be a piece of paper with his signature on it stating that, in general, he’s OK with giving up the house.

I asked the underwriter to please explain this to me. Maybe there was a misunderstanding. There were 2 legal documents in front of her that were both very official, yet she wanted a third, wholly unofficial document with some general sort of phrasing on it before this deal could close. I just didn’t get it. My mortgage broker, who was sittting with me, was confused and had never heard of this. My lawyer, who was called immediately and asked about it, said she had never heard of this. We were all stunned.

But the underwriter wouldn’t budge and said it was required by the title company. So, I asked: if I could get Mark to stop by and agree to sign the document, would she put it together in such a way to satisfy her requirement. Yes, she would.

Luckily, Mark agreed to do so as soon as he finished a meeting, and roughly an hour later he showed up to sign the damn paper. Which was basically two sentences on a piece of plain, white copier paper.

So, I was able to complete the close today after 2 1/2 hours of wrangling and signing.

As I said, it seems that every time I’ve been involved in a close, something bizzare pops up to throw me for a loop. I swear, if I ever have to go through with this again I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the title company demand,  “We want…a shrubbery!” as a condition to close.

Getting the divorce completed was a hell of a lot easier. And now I am single again, only this time I am a single person with a six-figure commitment for the next 30-years. It feels pretty good, though.

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Big stuff

Well, tomorrow is my day in court. I’m on the docket for 9:30 AM, so it will be a split personality type day: in the morning I will be a married person, but by the afternoon I will be offically single again.

But that’s not all!

I also was able to arrange my closing on the house refinancing for tomorrow afternoon, so I will get that business accomplished, as well. It may seem like a lot to deal with in one day, but I’m taking the entire day off of work anyway, so why not conduct all my business in one day. It will save me having to take time off later in the week, which would be difficult to manage these days anyway.

Work is very demanding lately. That’s good because it means a) my employer really wants/needs my talents and I’m unlikely to lose my job anytime soon, and; b) it helps me keep my mind occupied so I’m able to deal with this divorce and personal transition in smaller chunks at a time. It’s not always easy to compartmentalize and “schedule” personal stuff/work stuff, but the fact that I am compelled to keep my act together these days so I can accomplish stuff at work is a help.

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I was at my house for a few days last week while Mark was out of town. On Friday, I checked the nest box in the afternoon and saw this.

Peak production

Peak production

Four eggs. All in one day. Woo hoo! With only 4 laying hens, this is the best it can get. I’m very proud of my ladies and how well they’ve done.

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So, I’ve been back at my sister’s house since Friday night. We’ve been doing very well together, although this morning there was a bit of an exchange that I didn’t care for. While sis has been generous in allowing me to stay at her home, she did ask me to help pay for food I consume. Considering that I am consuming utilities in her home, too, the estimate of $40 a week seemed pretty fair.

Well, last week I wasn’t at her home all week. And I put out $70 picking up groceries for her earlier in the week. So when she broached the subject today and generally asked when I was going to pay her for food, I was a bit thrown this morning. Yes, I ate dinner with her last night. Yes, I ate lunch at her house yesterday that consisted of some food she had purchased. But, geez, it just sort of broad-sided me this AM while I was in the midst of figuring out how I’m going to do banking after the divorce tomorrow.

Bear in mind that while I do eat stuff she buys, I have also brought over foodstuffs from my own house to eat. After all, she and I don’t consume exactly the same. I like a lot of unprocessed, “real” food (no “buttery spreads” for me, but real butter, etc.), while she purchases different stuff. Plus I’m sticking to my no-cow-dairy rule, so that limits some of what I would consume from her fridge, anyway.

I’ve brought over and shared: tea, eggs, homemade jam, home canned peaches, and home canned applesauce. I pretty much eat my own stuff for breakfast (excepting coffee, since it is readily available in the AM) and bring my own food for lunch on days I go to the office (from my dwindling supply of frozen soups).

Additionally, she takes full advantage of me being here to help with her pet care and be a “responsible adult” to help out with her teen son. So, I figure I’m contributing more than just a few dollars to the household by being here and all should be balancing out.

I’m not trying to get down into the weeds on this stuff, but it became a much too long exchange for my comfort. I hesitated as I thought through the implications of giving her some of my rapidly dwindling cash on hand. I offered her a check, which she declined, and then I explained my dilemma about accessing ATMs and how banking is going to be challenging for me over the next week as I give up the shared account at a major banking institution with ATMs all over the place and instead am relying on my personal accounts at a credit union with NO ATMs in the city at all.

Call me cheap, but I don’t want to spend $5-6 in transaction fees to get her $40 for the week; I’d much rather wait until I get another account set up that I will use for ATM transactions and online bill paying. What made this exchange go on too long was her observations and commentary on  me sharing my dilemma, and the fact that she seemed to have no sympathy for my situation in her response.

It just goes to prove that family can really get you in vulnerable parts, eh?

Being here

I’m at my house now. My own house. My home. It’s just for a few days until Mark gets back from a business trip, but it’s sort of like a little breather in the middle of a long stretch of craziness.

As I sit here on my couch, with Sadie curled up on my left peacefully sleeping, and Hannah curled up on my right, sleeping in her usual twitchy, I’m-chasing-something-in-my-sleep way, I’m loving it. I’m surrounded by their healthy, doggy smell, and the warmth of their presence.

It will be so nice to climb into my bed tonight knowing that my wonderful dogs will be snuggled up with me. While I get this time just for a few days this week, it’s great to know that in about 10 days I can look forward to this again, and again, and again, etc.

Checking ’em off

Hooray! Next Monday, February 23 is my big day in court. Yep, I will be officially divorced that morning.

It does make me a bit sad to think about it so I lined up some moral support for that time. My sister will be there with me and then I will take the rest of the day off. Perhaps I will just hang out downtown: have tea and a scrumptious croissant at Argo (they have the *best* croissants in town); browse at Border’s and use up the holiday gift card I got from A; or rush to the nearest open bar and guzzle down a big martini. (Just kidding!!)

Actually, I’m hoping that I can arrange to do the house refinancing the same day. After all, I’ll have the afternoon free so why not get all my business done in one day? I received a signed copy of the MSA today, which is the only thing I’ve needed to complete the refinancing. Once the divorce is final, I can also attend to other business type stuff, too, like open a new bank account.

It’s not here yet, but it is such a relief to have a date set now. Hallelujah!

Moving along

Here it is, week 3 of living at my sister’s house and I’ve pretty much settled into a routine. She joined the same gym I belong to, so now we go to the gym together at times.

Having a work out buddy is another motivation for me to not skip a gym date, although I wouldn’t attempt to keep up with her. I’m only now getting comfortable with the fact that I must get pretty sweaty in the course of getting healthier, whereas she works out as if she wants to get to the point of falling over in exhaustion as quickoy as possible.

I have a new trainer at the equestrian center and I think she’ll work out better for me. She let me help tack up the horse and identified some other areas I need to work on in my posture and seat, including gripping better with my legs. This means much more working out of inner thighs at the gym. Between riding for 30 minutes on Friday and working out for 1.5 hours at the gym at some pretty leg intensive stuff yesterday, it’s no surprise that my legs are quite sore this morning.

Even so, I feel like doing more exercise today. I think I’m starting to understand my sister’s style a bit more. And I am starting to get that lovely rush when I get into the cardio stuff after several minutes.

My only disappointment with the riding lessons is that the over past 2 weeks I haven’t been able to ride the lovely Moose. He’s been lame each time and so I’ve had to instead ride older, slower mares that need a bit of coaxing to get into the trot. I suppose the silver lining is that I’ve learned how to handle a crop pretty effectively now. Still, I’m hoping to get Moose next Friday when I go back.

This week I get to spend several days and night at my home. Hooray! Mark has an out of town business trip, so I get the house to myself during that time. Only 2 more weeks to go until I can move back in permanently, too. He is definitely moving out on February 28, and I plan on being there to help things move along as quickly and smoothly as possible.

I’m still waiting to hear about the final court or “prove up” date, though. And for the final, signed copy of the MSA (marital settlement agreement). The MSA went to Mark’s attorney late last week, and once I have a signed copy and I can take that to the mortgage broker and get the refinancing done.

So, these are the final things remaining on my personal let’s-get-my-new-life-started-checklist: get final MSA; refinance house; attend prove up and get quit claim deed; transfer title on the house.

Seems like everyone I know is going out town to someplace warm around Feburary 25, and I’d love to do that, too. Unfortunately, it just won’t be possible to do that until I get through that checklist first. But after that…well…we’ll see what can be worked out.

“Backyard chickening” alive and well in Chicago

With everything else going on in my life, I haven’t been writing much about my chickens and the community of chicken keepers here in Chicago. There have been a lot of good things happening in this area, so I thought I’d give a quick summary.

First, an update on the stuff that has been happening in my own little flock. The days are definitely lengthening and the hens are responding accordingly: more eggs!

I don’t get to see my chickens every day now that I’m living at my sister’s house, but I do stop by my house regularly to check on them and the dogs and to clean up the coop. (Mark is doing a good job keeping everyone fed and watered, but he doesn’t do clean up duty.) So, I get to pull eggs out of the nestbox occasionally and I can attest to at least one 3-egg day.

I know that one of the layers is Speedy, my sole Delaware pullet, as her eggs are still the smallest. Maisy is definitely one of the other layers. She has always been my most reliable laying hen, and even with the short day length and her molt she continued to provide me with an egg about every other day. I’m not certain if the third one laying is Selma or Betty, but I was glad to notice that Selma’s comb and wattles are getting larger and redder again, signaling that she is pretty much done with her molt now. So, she could be laying, too.

Around Chicago, there have been great strides made in building a community of chicken keepers and advocates for chicken keeping.

  • Angelic Organics Learning Center held a sold-out workshop last November on Basic Backyard Chicken care. I attended and brought Maisy along so folks could get a look at a real, live hen.
  • Another Basic Backyard Chicken Care workshop is planned for March, and is nearly sold out already. I’ll be there again, this time as a presenter. (!)
  • A positive outcome of the first workshop was the establishment of a Google Group to enable folks to connect with each other. (I think the group is open and anyone can visit it, but I’m not sure.) Through the group we’re tracking advocates, and strategizing how to make sure chicken keeping stays legal in all wards in Chicago, as well as talking about ways we can organize a feed co-op and generally sharing tips.
  • Healthy Dining newsletter just published an article about raising backyard chickens, featuring a few words from moi and a good photo of Marshall, my “accidental” rooster.
  • I’ll also be interviewed about keeping chickens in the city next Tuesday, February 10, on a new Chicago Public Radio initiative called Vocalo.org. The interview will be streamed live through their website www.vocalo.orgat around 7 AM CST, as well as on the air at 89.5 FM. It should be available via podcast, too.

See, quite a bit is happening! With spring just around the corner, I expect there will be much more going on and plenty to keep us urban chicken folk busy!

Heating up

We’ve been enjoying a mini “heat wave” here in Chicagoland for the past few days. It has not only gotten above freezing, it’s become warm enough to put away (temporarily, I’m sure) the big, down-filled “sleeping bag” coat I wear during the coldest part of winter. Yesterday the temps were above 60F, and the rest of this week looks to be in the high 40s and 50s.

I’m not really complaining here, but this has caused me a few problems as I only had the one warm coat with me here at my sister’s house. I had to make time to run over to my house and bring yet more clothing back, including some lighter outer wear and thinner shirts to wear with my suits. It almost seems as if my full closet WILL be transported over here by the end of the month.

Mark emailed me a couple days ago with some good news: he has signed a lease at an apartment beginning March 1, but since it is currently vacant he can pick up the keys early and start moving stuff over at any time. He said he’s calling movers tomorrow to schedule the move for the big stuff (bed, bookcases, etc.) Dare I hope that he will move early, and I can get back into my home before the end of the month?

There are still some adjusments needed to the MSA (marital settlement agreement) apparently, but my lawyer said they will try to schedule the “prove up” (this means, the final court date when the judge grants the dissolution of marriage) for the third week in February. Hooray!

I’m happy and sad about this news. At the very beginning, I was sad and cried a lot, but then had to get busy doing paperwork, meeting with the lawyer and the mortgage broker, making lists of this and that, etc. Keeping busy and in motion gave me something to do to keep my my off of the emotional aspects of the divorce.

Now we’ve reached a big milestone, though: Mark really is moving out. I really will be living in the house on my own soon. And that is sad and scary. I know the mortgage broker said that I will have no problems meeting my mortgage payments, but it is still scary to know that I will be sole support of my small household.

Moving from 2 incomes to one also means I have to change my lifestyle to be more vigilant about what and when I spend. I’m not a profligant spender who makes shopping a hobby, but I have enjoyed the DINK (dual income no kids) lifestyle that has allowed for travel, eating out at pricier restaurants, and purchasing high quality stuff off-sale. I know this may sound sort of whiny considering the hard reality many others are facing with layoffs, the rising cost of living, etc. I’m just saying it’s a change I have to get used to.