Life is difficult.
I believe those were the opening words in author M Scott Peck's renowned self-help novel, "The Road Less Traveled". Seldom were those words as true to me as they are these days.
We are being challenged as of late by the state of our own family's finances. We haven't mismanaged really, in fact, Janice has been looking after the household monetary issues and we're on the right track right now more than we ever were. When I was looking after it, we didn't do quite as good. We're not late on payments or anything or starving, but I'm a little fearful of the coming months. The price of oil is killing little families like ours. We fall into the lower-middle class in terms of household income, although I'd venture to say almost poor. Taxes are crazy. Property taxes keep inflating our house payments, insurance premiums are going up, car registration and licensing is through the roof, gas prices are just stupid, and now perhaps the worst, furnace oil is going to challenge us over the next several months. Not to mention, our power bill is no doubt going to get worse, along with everyone else's of course.
These are the days of having a tough time making ends meet. We're doing it, though, but it's a huge struggle. We can't do much that requires money at all, like go to the movies or something. That breaks Janice's and mine hearts a little bit, because we can't really buy or do much for Alexandra in terms of having real fun or making her happy in this tech-happy age. But we are all happy and well fed, which really are the biggest things. We love being with each other and we eat quite well in spite of our finances, but at a cost of everything else. It makes me think of those commercials where you see a lady opening a can of food and the roof tears off, and she closes it and the roof comes back; a metaphor for choosing between shelter and food. We're not at that point and I hope to God we don't get there.
We have each other here at least. It's a little hard watching Alexandra having to lead the kind of life that Janice and me both had, that of a kind of poor household. But the difference is that there's a whole lot of love here. She doesn't have an alcoholic or insensitive dad on her ass all the time. The common denominator that she has there is that she has a loving mom like we did. Our dads were/are awesome, but they had their own struggles that permeated themselves into their social lives, which in turn affected us.
There are other issues of course. One of our best friends is gone away for good. I won't mention that person's name, but that person knows who they are, lest I get raked over the coals some more as a result of what's happened previously this year. That person was close to all three of us, and it's one of those voids that can't be filled, but coped with. Speaking for myself, I'm still trying to get there. I think Alexandra too. Janice is the strongest of the three of us.
Good luck to my nephew Ryan and his now-wife Katie in their marriage together. I don't see those two ever being apart, God willing. Their wedding was rather refreshingly casual with lots of well-wishers, and I'm sure the reception was the same. It was good seeing my family together one more time, albeit briefly.
I think I need to find some guys to get a band going again and occupy myself. If our basement wasn't so crappy, I'd be down there a lot more banging away at my drums, but it's a bit dreadful down there. Work needs to be done down there at some point with plumbing for the house. It's got something like a $2,000 price tag. Like we can afford that. We'll try to find a way in the new year, before a kinked pipe by the electrical panel gives and our house gives up the ghost once and for all. It'd be nice to get our dishwasher hooked up too, the one we've had almost a year now, still in its box! A window needs replacing and so does our patio door. And the entrance was compromised by ice buildup last winter. Yup, one great piece of news after another eh?
On the bright side, we have each other. We go to church every Sunday and bring home some measure of hope every week. I actually look forward to going. That's a sharp contrast to when I was younger, when I just wasn't fully taught the meaning of mass or the Bible's teachings. And it helps to be going to a church that's so welcoming in St. Bernard's, the oldest church in the city, and best kept.
As we hurtle towards Halloween and begin the roller coaster towards Christmas, here's hoping you have a good holiday season coming up. We will. We'll do our best to.
One final note of thanks to my brother Rick for helping out my wife in getting started on the wine kit I bought her for her birthday. That's a gift that'll keep on giving! Come see us sometime and try some of the fruits of her labour.
Fire up those colortinis now and watch the pictures fly through the air.