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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Offer Accepted!

Well, it looks like we are buying that house! The bank (that owns the property) did not accept our offer, but countered. And after a long talk with the realtor and another longer "talk" with Bob, we decided to accept their counter.

Our acceptance is contingent on having a home inspection, which is scheduled for next Thursday. And if we are not happy with the home inspector's findings, we can back out of the deal and get our escrow money back.

So, fingers crossed! If everything works out, we will be closing next month! Though it will take awhile to get it move-in ready....

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

House Hunting

The past couple of months, I have been spending at least one day of the week with our realtor looking at houses, without much luck. Believe me, there are plenty of beautiful homes on the market in our price range, the problem comes down to finding a house suited for us. We need a house that is wheelchair accessible (or can be easily modified for wheelchair accessibility) and that means room for ramps and also an accessible bathroom--something we do not have right now.  Plus I don't want to leave the city, where we are close to Bob's doctors and hospitals.

Also being in Florida, where we are surrounded by water, we need a home that is NOT in a flood zone or an evacuation zone.  I mean, I can't imagine having to evacuate Bob in his wheelchair, along with a large dog and two cats. (And don't even mention "Special Needs Shelters" as I checked in on that option and turns out, because of his g-tube equipment, they will not accept him.) So I need something "high and dry" as the realtors say, and when looking in these areas, pickings grow slim.

Throughout this time, my heart keeps going back to one of the first houses I looked at, a 1929 Colonial Revival house.

I like this house because it, with over 2000 square feet, it has a great open floor plan for a wheelchair, hardwood floors and high ceilings, and I absolutely love the location on one of the most prestigious blocks in a well maintained, old historic neighborhood!
Brick Streets, Old Oaks

Neighbors house on the same block

More neighbors on the same block

Another neighbor, lush tropical landscape

Next door neighbor

I didn't like the house, at first, because of the rather creepy vinyl substitute siding, fake vinyl shutters and "modern" porch windows which really obscure the home's historic architecture and the fact that it doesn't have fireplace. Also it needs some routine maintenance, such as fencing that needs replacing and a deck with rotted floorboards, painting, window repair, etc.

But like I said, my heart keeps going back to it, as it seems something that we can work with. It has two bathrooms, one easily remodeled, and three bedrooms and is twice the size of our bungalow. And, an extra-added bonus is a small "in-law" apartment in back, which I'm thinking for Chris! With high ceilings and hardwood floors, arched doorways, it has, as the contractor said, "good bones". I looked at the house twice with the realtor, a third time with a contractor, and finally, I took Bob, because I hate to make such a big decision without his input. And it took four people to haul him up the front steps backwards into the house, but we managed! And, do you know, he could get through the whole house with his wheelchair, into every room except the bathroom, which would have to be remodeled. He could zip down the hallway and actually TURN AROUND in the hallway! He remarked the house was "Nice!"

Bob at the house, did I mention the cool built-in bookcases!
The house is a foreclosure and the bank who owns it had it way over-priced, and three weeks ago we put a "low ball" offer on it which was declined.

And I went back to hunting for a different house.

And I saw lots of interesting homes that didn't work for one reason or another... I mean, beautiful houses in iffy "transitional" neighborhoods, sort of like our current neighborhood. And beautiful houses, in great neighborhoods, that in no-way could be made wheelchair accessible. And rundown, ugly houses in great neighborhoods.... And prices too high and houses too small, or yards too small for ramps or lifts, in flood zones, evac zones, or you name it.... I even looked at one gorgeous and notoriously "haunted" house and that, alas, was not wheelchair accessible either...

And I kept thinking about this 1929 Colonial Revival with the great accessible floor plan and the great neighborhood... It would be a lot of work, taking off the siding, restoring it, but it could be worth it....

So when the bank dropped the price on Friday ($75,000 less than the original list price), I asked Bob what he thought we should do. He said, "Get it!" So, we put a new offer in on it yesterday.

Wish us luck!

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Caregiver's Grief

It's been hot and steamy here in the subtropics, and I mean steamy -- think steambath steamy, think sauna. And this is the time of year for Southern cabin fever, i.e. staying inside in the A/C and not venturing out unless necessary. So yesterday, when a brisk, strong storm pounced on our neighorhood then quickly departed, leaving a breezy, almost cool atmosphere behind, I decided to venture outside and begin to tackle the task of cleaning out The Green Machine.

Besides, Bob was asleep. And I was bored.

So I grabbed the trunk key to The Green Machine, and decided to start there.

Now the trunk has always been a sort of portable auto repair shop for Bob, and it contains his toolbox among other sorted and sundry things. I began with the toolbox, which I latched and lugged into the garage. Then I began pulling out Bob's used car parts. Bob had this habit of saving used car parts, because, you know, you never know when you might need them. So out went old cable wires, old greasy gears, rusted pipes and other things I couldn't identify. As I was reaching through this jumble of car parts, I found a dirty crumpled plastic grocery bag with something stashed inside of it.  I opened it and caught my breath. Inside was an old vintage license plate holder and a chrome footprint gas pedal cover:

I was, quite suddenly and stupidly, overwhelmed. Without warning, tears were streaming down my cheeks, my nose running, my whole body shaking, trembling I fell to my knees, right there on the street, gasping great gasping sobs, like my whole insides were wanting to come out of my mouth, like my soul was caught and squeezing somewhere inside my chest and ready to burst and all these memories of Bob rushing at me, Bob, the way he was before, my Bob buying that silly gas pedal cover because it was "cool" and how he was going to put it in The Green Machine, as well as that license plate holder, and how he never got to do those things, all these memories flooding my heart. My wonderful beautiful husband, lover, friend, soulmate.....

And I had to go back to the house, sit on the porch, collect myself, breathing deeply, trying to calm down. But even now, I have tears streaming down my face...

You know, I thought I was over this, it's been nearly 4 years. I thought I gone through those stages of grief and had learned "acceptance". And I really thought I was stronger than this....

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bringing Home The Bobmobile

On Thursday, we took our last wheelchair transport ride to a doctor's appointment.

Last Transport Ride
There will be some things about this service I will miss...

Like the door-to-door escort!

And not having to drive...

But others things I will definitely not miss. Like the 30-minute-window rule. And the 24-hours-ahead reservations rule. And the can't-leave-the-county rule. And the if-you-are-not-ready-in-five-minutes-we-will-leave-without-you-and-bill-you-anyway rule. Or if the doctor is running late, call-to-be-put-on-standby rule. And all that "hurry up and wait"....

On Thursday, also, the van company picked up Bob's wheelchair and took it to the shop to fit it with an E-Z lock bracket.

On Friday, we picked up our "new" used wheelchair van, which I have christened "The Bobmobile". That way, I figure, I can say, "To the Bobmobile! Quick!" as Bob and I dash off on our caped crusades. Anyway, the van is black, it's for Bob, so it works. And every vehicle needs a name.  So add, The Bobmobile to the list which includes "The Little Blue Bomber" (my first car) and, of course, "The Green Machine".

Loading Bob in The Bobmobile
 And. Friday should have been a good day all around, I was looking forward to it. Until...

It began to rain. And I'm talking RAIN, as in thunder, lightening, winds, streets flooding, traffic jams, the whole stormy shebang...

As if I wasn't nervous enough already. I mean, here I'm driving an unfamiliar vehicle, on unfamiliar roads (the dealer is way out in the boonies) and now I'm dealing with bad weather....

Then throw a grumpy Bob into the mix....

Grumpy Bob in The Bobmobile
First, Bob complained that his chair was too close to the front of the van and wanted it moved back. This is impossible with the E-Z lock which is bolted to the van floor,  and even though this was explained to him, he still wanted to move his chair back. So out of the E-Z lock he came and the mechanic got out the manual straps and strapped him down.  These manual straps are a pain compared to the E-Z lock, as there are four straps and you are pretty much on your hands and knees crawling around to hook them all in.  The E-Z lock can be moved, but since Bob is (hopefully) getting a new wheelchair, the mechanic didn't want to move the E-Z lock until the new chair came in.  I mean, why put more holes in the van floor than you have to?

Anyway, once Bob was pulled back and strapped in place, he still complained of being too close to the front of the van. And a few adjustments later, he was still complaining, i.e. saying "Back! Back!" until I had to calm him down and explain that he couldn't go any further back as he would be blocking the ramp door... grrrr....

I was, by then, getting pretty frustrated. And it was still raining. In fact, it was raining even heavier. And, I had really hoped Bob would enjoy the day. I had planned to take photos, you know, happy photos of Bob posed in front of his new ride, ta da! But no such luck...

After Bob was strapped in, the mechanic loaded up the passenger seat (which had to be removed to make way for the wheelchair), we were off in the pouring rain.  Me, trying to figure out why I can't see the speedometer (steering wheel height had to be adjusted), Bob complaining now that his wheelchair was rocking back and forth. Which, by the way, he had been warned would happen if he didn't use the E-Z lock.

So I pull over, try to adjust the straps on Bob's wheelchair, adjust the steering wheel position so I can see the dash, find a radio station for Bob, change the setting on the air conditioner as now Bob is "cold" and take off again.

Me, I am nervous, trying to follow the "google  maps" directions in the pouring rain. Bob, complaining now that his butt hurts....

Me, wondering what this blinking "S4" means on the dash and how-the-hell-do-I-get-the-back-windshield-wiper to work? Bob wanting to smoke! In the van! Which is, at least to me, a big no-no. And when I tell him this, he got even more surly. grrr....

Finally, I make our way to familiar, though still rainy, turf.  Bob is still complaining that his butt hurts and that his wheelchair is rocking and that his feet are too close to the front of the van and he still wants a cigarette and is insisting the cup holder is actually an ashtray....

I tell you, I was frazzled and not in a very good mood when we finally got home.  By the time I got the ramp down, pulled out the front passenger seat and dragged it out of the van into the rain then into the garage for storage (by the way, these are not as "easy" to remove as those brochures tout, the thing, frankly, was a bitch to move), and after I got down on my hands and knees and unstrapped the four wheelchair straps, got grumpy Bob out of the van and up to the house in the pouring rain, I tell you, I was ready to kill...

But we made it. The Bobmobile is home, safe and sound. And since Bob wouldn't pose by his new ride, I had Boomer do the honors.

And The Green Machine has been, sadly, banished to the curb...

...much to the chagrin of the neighbors' cats...

Nemo and Kinko lounging on The Green Machine, and they better not try this on The Bobmobile!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Tick Tock, Tick Tock...

Well, the settlement is getting ready for "disbursement", and ducks are getting into rows, etc. Last week, our attorney paid off over $30,000 in unpaid/defaulted medical bills and credit cards (which were basically charged up with medical bills) and not having that hanging over our heads is a big relief. I can, perhaps soon, answer the phone again!

This week, the attorney sent me a small check to cover a few current expenses and buy a few needed things... the first thing I bought was this:

Mop, $27.99

Yes, a mop! As I am certainly tired of getting down on my hands and knees to clean the floors.  The second thing I bought was this:

Can Opener, $9.99

 Yes, a can opener, as mine is being held together with duct tape. People have been asking me, "what's the first thing you're going buy?" and so, there you have the answer. A mop and a can opener! And believe me, it was nice to just buy something we need and not worry about having enough money for it. So, to celebrate, I also bought this third thing:

Frozen Pizza, $4.19
Which is something I never splurge on, but I wanted to celebrate our new found financial security. Unfortunately, the pizza wasn't that great...

Then I thought, all those goodies are for me and not Bob, so the fourth thing I bought was for Bob:

2012 Toyota Sienna XLE wheelchair van with side ramp, 8890 miles, $47,900.00

Of course, I didn't actually write a check for that, I just signed the paperwork and the money is coming from the attorney's trust fund where it's waiting to be transferred to the special needs trust fund. And I really tried to dicker that price down, without luck, but the dealer finally threw us some freebies to sweeten the deal -- which are: 1) a free extended factory warranty on parts and labor for seven years and 2) free E-Z lock for locking Bob's wheelchair in the van. We will be able to pick it up next Friday!!

After that, I decided to buy the real deal, and ordered this:

$11.00 with coupon + delivery & tip

But, of course, I can't eat all that myself (and Bob doesn't eat) so I shared it with our "boys":

Ripley & Boomer, Pizza Party!

 Zenith was invited to our "pizza party" but she wasn't interested....

Tick tock.

Tick tock.

Things are about to change here at The Pink House on the Corner....

Friday, August 1, 2014

Test Drive!

So our attorney hooked us up with Custom Mobility, a wheelchair van supplier, who, I was told, would send a sales rep to our house with brochures and information on buying a wheelchair van. And the rep called and made an appointment for yesterday.

I thought he was showing up with just brochures and, you know, information. Instead he showed up at our house with this:
Which is a 2014 Toyota Something-Limited Edition wheelchair van. I say "something limited" because I don't recall the real name -- which sort of went in one ear and out the other when I heard the price: $75,000! ga!

But the van was here and he invited us to take it out for a drive. I tell you, this thing had every option imaginable.

With the touch of a button, the door slides open and the ramp unfolds....

Getting Bob in it was a sinch! Buckling him in was another thing -- to use the E-Z lock device you need a E-Z lock bracket on the wheelchair, which Bob doesn't have, so we had to strap him in the traditional way with straps.

But I could tell Bob liked the idea of being in the passenger seat, instead of in back.

So we prepared to take it for a spin. Believe me, I was nervous and, really, felt like a foreigner in a foreign land. I mean, here I was about to drive a vehicle that costs more than our house! ga! And it had so many buttons and gadgets with weird symbols on them, it looked like the inside of a UFO... I mean there were three (three! count 'em!) thingy-bobs on the steering wheel and I could only figure out one of them (the blinkers.) And there were controls for dual sunroofs and GPS and satellite radio and rearview cameras and blindspot cameras and bluetooth connectors and all sorts of junk that I couldn't identify and probably don't need and certainly can't afford.

Anyway, I sat there bewildered, at first, just looking at the dash, wondering where the ignition/starter was and waiting to be handed the ignition key, and the sales rep tells me to push this one button. So I did and it was the weirdest thing -- the van started up with a push of a button, with no key, and, turns out, there was no ignition key! The whole thing is activated by a "fob" which you carry in your purse or pocket, and the van's computer senses it, you don't even have to take it out of your purse or pocket. And all you have to do is push the start button. And outside, you can touch the handle of van when you approach it (as long as you have the fob in your purse or pocket) and the door will unlock or slide open, at your touch command.

So I started the van and took off. And the littlest bit of pressure on the gas peddle sent the thing lurching forward. I guess I have a heavy foot from driving The Green Machine. 

Then, I drove this mansion-on-wheels a couple blocks and I was really surprised how smooth the ride was even on our antique brick streets and I was really getting quite comfortable driving it, which also surprised me, because I thought it would be more like driving a bus. But I'm thinking, hey, I could get used to this! -- when I turned the corner and cut the corner to close and GA! CLUNK! ended up hopping the curb with the back wheels! Which of course caused Bob's wheelchair to go flying. And me, to nearly have a heart attack. I tell you, I'm not used to a vehicle this long... and the last thing I wanted to do was damage this brand new expensive beast.

I got it back home safely, though, I tell you, I was so scared I was stupidly doing about 10 mph. Good thing, no other cars were around.

It certainly was a big change from this:

The Green Machine

The company does sell less expensive wheelchair vans, both new and used. The rep said that I need to just call for an appointment and they will send a wheelchair van to pick both Bob and I up! Wow, talk about service.