Yes, I am still here but it has been a CRAZEE couple of months!
I am so sorry that I have not posted in the last couple of months but crazee things have been happening around here!
Let me start at the beginning!
On November 19, 2009, I was backing out of my driveway on my way to the university when my husband comes stumbling - yes stumbling - out of our front door carrying our phone. I immediately pulled back into the driveway and ran to him. He had problems with his blood pressure a few years ago and I at first thought that we were headed back to the ER! Thank goodness - he was physically OK! BUT - he had just received a call from his union hall telling him that his job of over 30 years was over. The current owners of the Delaware City refinery had decided to close the plant immediately! I spent the next few hours reassuring my wonderful hubby that we would get through this and there was a future out there, but of course this was an unbelievable blow to him.
My father had been the head of training for the Getty Corporation when they owned the refinery and I called him with some of my thoughts. He confirmed my belief that this refinery would not stay idle for long as it is the only refinery on the east coast that can process what is called 'sour crude'. This is the crude oil from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. It is a cheaper oil but when consumption went down last year instead of working to repair and clean up a refinery that they had allowed hit rock bottom due to nominal or no repair and maintenance - they decided to just close it.
Thank goodness for our wonderful governor, Jack Markell, who was determined to find a new owner for the refinery. In conjunction with DNREC (our dept of natural resources), the governor worked tirelessly to keep the refinery open. DNREC demanded that the owner keep the refinery open while they checked on the environmental impact of dismantling such a large and old refinery. From day one, the governor, the union and others made sure that the refinery continued to run by recirculating material through the tanks and pipelines so it would not have to be restarted from a cold shutdown.
In April of this year, a new owner signed the initial papers to buy the refinery. This owner has been in the business for several years and actually owned the company that had sold this refinery to the current owners! The new owner had left his old company and started a new one and one of his first acts was to acquire this refinery that he now calls his 'flagship' of a newly formed U.S.-owned oil company.
My husband, as a utilities operator, stayed at his job keeping things going until May of this year. Then, everyone was removed from the refinery and the new owners took over on June 1, 2010. They immediately brought back many of the workers that had been on unemployment since January, 2010 to start the clean-up. Due to the severance pay (part of their union contract) we have survived the last 6 months. In August, my husband - along with the majority of the workers from the refinery, received intent to hire letters and two weeks ago he finally received his hire letter with his start date of January 4, 2011!!!! We are so excited!
We have spent the last 6 months working hard to get our online webshop up and running (http://www.winterberryfarmprimitives.com) and getting our 'house' in order. One thing that you learn when bad things happen is how to make sure you protect yourself as much as you can, so we have paid off all credit cards, changed our lifestyle, learned to enjoy the 'little' things and how to have fun without spending lots of money. We have continued to increase our personal antique collections, buying things that will increase in value, instead of 'modern' things. We have worked hard to get our house in order by updating important systems in our home and worked to reduce our carbon footprint.
We are now poised to save even more and increase our retirement funds when hubby goes back to work and when I get a job after FINALLY finishing my degree.
I will be back soon with a new post on how to put your garden to bed for the winter, but for now I just wanted to say Thank you! to all of you who have stuck with me and waited patiently for the next post!
Fingers crossed that things will now get 'back to normal'.
Just one last thing.....every year my extended family has a 'Pollyanna' where the adults pick a name from a hat to decide which member of the family will be the recipient of the gift we buy for them. This year, one of my nephews has my name and I am asking him to donate $50.00 to our local food bank in my name. We have our Christmas present - the letter sending my hubby back to work - now it is time for me to start giving back. Might be a great way to start a new Christmas tradition...
Anyone else out there ready for a change?