Monday, August 7, 2017

Identity Theft

As if our lives weren't busy enough taking care of my disabled brother we find out that his identity has been stolen.  Someone has obtained his social security number and has either opened or attempted to open accounts in his name.  We filed a police report locally and notified all other agencies such as credit bureaus, government agencies etc.  

What surprised me was I thought he was pretty safe from identity theft since he doesn't use the internet or use credit cards but what the officer told us is that disabled people are particularly vulnerable.  He said that usually caregivers are not as vigilant about checking the mail or watching for suspicious financial activity.  He said that Mike is just the kind of person thieves want and that there are unfortunately a million ways to obtain someones personal information.

What alerted us was when we received a bill from T-Mobile stating that $140.00 was billed to a credit card in Mike's name in order to open a T-Mobile account.  Then the "thief" ordered 7 I-phones and had them shipped to my brother's old address.  The house was still vacant at the time.  I guess the thief just watched the house and picked up the phones after they were delivered. 

According to the police this is a common occurrence  with T-Mobile because they will open an account over the phone or on the internet not requiring proof of identity.

Anyway, we are knee deep in trying to control the damage.  Of course we don't want Mike to know anything about this because it would just set of his paranoia.  

We put a freeze on his credit to stop any further attempts to obtain credit in his name.  We have closed any accounts that were open.  The police dept. assured us that he would not be responsible for any fraudulent charges as long as we report it and provide them a case #. 

The positive side (if there is any) is that Mike's credit rating is not a concern.  He will not be using credit to purchase anything.  In fact he doesn't need credit at all.  What does worry me is that someone could use his information to receive medical care etc.  That kind of fraud maybe harder to correct and I don't want Mike's Medicare or SS payments compromised.

So, I guess you need to stay vigilant.  Open all your mail.  I would often just tear up anything from a Credit Card Company because I knew Mike wasn't using any credit cards.  I assumed they were all those applications they send offering 0% if you open an account.  You can't assume anything.    Read everything!   If I had assumed that the T-Mobile letter was just another advertisement we wouldn't have learned what happened.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Remembrance of my sister-in-law

Yesterday was my sister-in-law's memorial service and my niece asked me to give the eulogy.  This is the third time I've given one and it never gets any easier.  One of the stories that came to mind about Dottie was when she and my brother lived in Ventura, California with their two children.  The kids were about 5 and 7 at the time.  Well, they had a beautiful orange tree in their backyard but the kids wouldn't eat the oranges because they didn't have any writing on them.  So my sister-in-law took a flashlight and a ladder to the back yard one night and with a magic marker she wrote Sunkist on every orange she could reach!  

She was inventive!

The thing about funerals is they are often a reunion of old friends.  Yesterday was no exception.  I saw old neighbors I haven't seen in probably 15 years.  I saw relatives I haven't seen in years as well.  People always say, "We shouldn't wait until someone dies to get together."  But we seem to do just that.

When you write a eulogy for someone you sit down and really try to think about how to describe them in a way that friends and family will recognize.  When I thought about Dottie the first thing that came to mind was that she was probably the happiest person you could ever meet.  This was in spite of the fact that her mother was a severe alcoholic and when she was born her mother didn't know who the father was so when she saw a street sign she decided to use it as her child's last name.  So Culver Street became part of Dorothy Lee's legacy. 

A few years later her mother had two more girls by a different father.  But those little girls went with their father when he decided to leave their mother.  Dottie told me once that she remembered wondering why he didn't take her as well.  But her mother placed her in an orphanage instead.  It was probably unfortunate that her mother returned for her about a year later.

After the orphanage she was shuffled around from couch-to-couch and home-to-home.  She never had anything of her own and when she was older and did get money from working somewhere her mother would take it from her to buy alcohol.   

That was pretty much the theme of  Dorothy Lee Culver's life until she graduated from high school.  

When she was twenty she married my brother.  I was six years old.  I'd like to say that she then lived happily ever after but that wasn't the case.  Infidelity plagued her marriage and they divorced about 10 years later.  She could have become a bitter and angry person.  It would certainly have been justified.  But instead she made a conscious decision to be happy and happy she was!  She was one of those rare individuals that could find joy in the simplest of things.  I guess when you grow up with absolutely nothing but the clothes on your back you learn to appreciate even the smallest of things. 

When she married her second husband he built her a new house in a small town on an acreage.   She had already retired by that time and life was looking good.  It was the first new home she had ever had and it was completely furnished with brand new furniture.  She loved it.  But unfortunately it was again short lived. One summer a huge Oklahoma grass fire spread across the state burning thousands of acres of land and hundreds of homes.  Hers was one of the casualties.  She lost everything she owned.   

I called her the day after the fire and the first thing she said with a laugh was, "Well, I'm glad it burned before I washed the windows!"  

She always found the bright side!

Eventually they replaced the house with a single wide mobile home.  Her husband built a wrap around porch for her and even when it snowed he would shovel a path to her chair and  she would sit outside and look at the sky while taking cloud pictures with her Kindle. 

It really didn't take much to make her happy! 

Since her life was often hard it was with God's grace that her 
her passing was a peaceful whisper.  Though we will miss her dearly I know her memory and laughter will ring on.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Catching Up

Wow, so much has happened in the past two months.  My daughter is of course blissfully married.  They honeymooned in Scotland and the UK.  Daughter number two spent 2 weeks in China on a cultural exchange program.  She is now playing hostess to 8 Chinese students who will be here for a year.  Mike is doing well.

I turned 68 years old on the 27th.  My sweet former sister-in-law passed away on the same day.  Dottie had been part of my life since I was 6 years old.  Even though her marriage to my older brother did not last our friendship did.  She will be greatly missed.

Ron and I will be attending our 50th class reunion on the 12th of August.  It's fun that we graduated from the same class and share the same high school memories.  Looking forward to seeing other members of our class.

We are now in the dog days of summer.  The heat came on with a bang.  It's hard to keep the flowers from dying in this heat.

I was happy to see the ACA survived yet another vote to repeal.  Every day it is something new with this administration.  My biggest fear is that it has become normalized. 

Oh another exciting bit of news.  My daughter's 1/2 brother, wife and baby girl are moving here from College Station, Texas.  It is hard to believe the 3 siblings have only known each other 3 years but their relationship is flourishing.   The girls are so excited to be able to love and spoil their little niece.  I'm excited that we will have a little one in the family.  Since this is the grand daughter of my ex-husband does that make me an ex-grandma once removed?

It is still so weird that my daughters and I had gone over 30 years with no knowledge of their father and now suddenly his son is in their lives (and mine).   It is surreal that I will get to play grandma to his grandchild.  A role that I am happy to fill.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Let me tell you there is no such thing as a small wedding.  You do the same amount of work for 60 people as you do for 600.  I think that with the exception of some scattered details everything is ready for the big day.  I helped my daughter finish the last table decorations yesterday.   She must have changed her mind on colors at least a dozen times.  She finally settled on navy and cream.   Her flowers are just a mix of colors but they look really nice.

Mike is still doing great in his new condo.  He has met some of his neighbors and we've encouraged him to get out and walk around the complex in the evenings.  That seems to be when people are out and about walking their dogs etc. so he enjoys introducing himself to those he encounters.  All the single ladies have introduced themselves to him.  He told me he just might marry one of them.  I told him if they will cook for him I'll sing at their wedding.

Life just seems to get busier every day.  I went to school today to see all the kiddos and got so many hugs it was like a big shot of vitamin C.  They are all so precious and I just love being around them.  I can only imagine how wonderful it must be to have grand children.  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The move is done

The whole month of February was a blur.  We sold Mike's house, purchased a condo for him and moved him.  He's been in the new place one week.  He is doing surprisingly well and adjusting quickly.  The place is just the right size for him and so much easier for us to maintain.

There have been a few issues.  Mike got lost 3 days in a row but by the 4th day he knew how to find his place.  The washing machine didn't work so we had to get it fixed at the tune of $239.00.  This was after we had purchased a home warranty for all the appliances and the heater and furnace.  Ron didn't call them first so we are out the $239.00.

Other than those things all is going well.  Mike even met the lady living next door to him and (got her phone #).  We teased him that he's really taking the bachelor pad idea to heart.  

We've been with him every day but one this week. But we are going to start trying to leave him for longer periods this next week.

He wants to have a House Warming Party so I'm going to send out invitations to family members and a few of his friends.  He wants to have it on April 1st so he can wear his April Fools shirt.  

So other than suffering from complete exhaustion all is well!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Another New Year

Another Christmas past and a new year has begun.  It was a great holiday season.  We had Christmas with the family and the soon to be granddaughters.  

What do you call the children of your daughter's husband.  Are they my step grandchildren?  Sounds so blah.  

They are such sweet girls and so much fun.  We played game after game of Monopoly.  The new version where each player gets a debit card.  The game is a much faster version but the adults couldn't figure out how to use the debit card machine.  Thank goodness for tech savy kids.  Currently Emma and I are the two time reigning champs.

After Christmas the girl's half brother and his now one year old came to visit and that little one is a cutie patootie.  Ron and I got her a Rocking Pony and an outfit for Christmas.  She really like the Pony as it sings and moves its mouth.  Of course it was driving the other adults crazy.

I was so super organized this year.  I had all my gifts purchased and wrapped by Halloween.  I put post-its on them with the recipients names but didn't decorate packages with bows etc until after November.  The day after Thanksgiving we decorated and put up the tree and all my gifts were ready to go under the tree.  I spent December cooking and just enjoying the Christmas music and movies.  I never felt rushed and didn't have to go shopping in the crowds.  It was great!  Plus I managed to actually save money in December and put it in savings.  Now that's a first!  

I've already started shopping for next year.  I didn't go to any of the crazy sales at the mall but took advantage of some online sales.  I usually try to buy about two gifts per month if I find the right items.   

It is now time to focus on the upcoming wedding.  Only 5 more months and they will go by so fast.  Right now we are focused on losing our holiday weight.  I gained 4 pounds and Ron gained 7.  It sure is harder to lose than it was to gain!

We are expecting snow tonight.  Not much 1 - 4 inches total but it will be enough to make people act like we are having a blizzard.  There is always a mad rush at Walmart with people shopping for snowmagedon.  Crazy....Oklahoman's just don't know what to do in snow.

We had our bathtub re-surfaced yesterday.  Looks brand new again.  We can't use it for 48 hours so Ron is unshaven and looking a little like Grizzly Adams.  I told him the sink is not out of commission but I think he's just using the tub as an excuse to just vedge out.   I can't imagine living in the olden days and not bathing but once a month!  No wonder they carried nosegays.....anything to mask the smell!

My next project will be the kitchen.  I want to get cabinets re-faced and pull-out drawers installed.  I can't get down on the floor to get to anything in the back of the cabinets.   

Our big Christmas present to ourselves was a french door refrigerator and may I say.........I LOVE IT!  I hated our side-by-side, worst design in the world.  It was inevitable that whatever I wanted out of the fridge was in the back and you'd have to unload the entire shelf to get to it.  Now it's so spacious and easy to fit everything inside.  It took a little organizing to get the freezer just like I want it but it's great now!  Highly recommend a french door fridge.  

Next year I want to convert from a glass cook top stove to a gas range.  I've discovered that there are great sales on appliances in December and again in July.  Our refrigerator was almost 1/2 off.

Ron says I can't be without a project and I suppose he is right.  I'm always thinking of something that needs to be changed or fixed.  Right now I have enough projects lined up to last me about 5 years.  I finish one and then start on the next.

Well I hope everyone had a blessed holiday seasonI pray we all have a safe and calm New Year!    Reminds me...I will be attending the Women's March in Oklahoma City.  Couldn't make it to Washington DC so this was the next best thing.