Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This Is Going To Take A While...

I'm talking about our landscaping plans... Ace & I finally sat down and spent a few days drawing out (using his fancy landscape drafting program) the tentative plans for the backyard redo. We have yet to finalize anything about the front yard, but we have planned a few things: the trees need to go (one is dead, one is in the cable lines & too close to our house, and the third's root system is growing toward our driveway), we'd like to widen the driveway, I want a walkway from the side of the house on the right up to the front door, a small seating area (cafe table & two chairs or an outdoor couch & side table), and I'd like a stone path of some sort in what was the dog run on the left side. All of that, however (except the trees) will have to wait; the backyard is more important to us right now.

Backyard plans are as follows:
Round 1 -- Trees. We are having nine trees removed (that's all but one - the huge evergreen is staying) on August 12th. In the backyard, two are growing into our fence (shared with The Farmhouse to the left of us) and interferes with the backyard end of the dog run. There are three arborvitaes up against the back fence that will go. The plum tree in the back right corner will go. Our arborist will also trim back the lower branches of our huge evergreen & thin out anything dead/dying or growing at a weird angle. Arborist will take care of the trees in the front yard at this point, too.
Round 2 -- Shed. We haven't decided exactly what size or type, yet, but there will be a storage shed of some sort where the plum tree currently sits.
Round 3 and more -- Not sure in what order the rest will be done, but the current plan calls for tilling & regrading the yard, installing some sort of patio (from the sliding glass doors out into the yard a bit) with some seating & a fire pit, a open/covered area for the smoker, walk paths (stepping stones or something) between the areas, building a small vegetable garden in the back left side, laying sod to fill in, installing gates on both sides of our house, and a water feature or two of some sort (currently pricing out organic pools; we would love a small one up against the back fence where the arborvitaes are... I also want a small waterfall thing near our bedroom window). We are also considering a pee post of some sort (look it up); this could save our new lawn. :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bumps, Bruises, & Broken Bones -- One Year Later

It has been exactly one year since Ace & I went down on our bike. Ace had to have surgery, which left a metal plate & steel screws in his ankle - permanently. Both of us went through months of physical & occupational therapy. Both of us dealt with anger. Ace still has guilt; thinking he could have/should have done something differently. Interestingly, I think it's brought us closer. We've dealt with a lot of emotionally draining things from outside forces (exes, mostly) for a great deal of our relationship, but this was different. We could have died.

On the physical front -- I still have a 2" X 3" spot over my right arm's scar (just below my elbow) that is numb. It's been determined that I probably will never regain feeling there. I have a noticeable loss of grip strength in my right hand. I also get the shakes occasionally, as well as twinges & what feels like a mild electrical charge, which causes me to drop things. When this happens at work, I have to stop & massage the area, causing me to have slower service times (my clients are fully understanding). Sometimes, my right arm goes numb, also causing me to drop things -- also a problem at work.
Ace now feels weather/pressure changes in his ankle. He has a different gait than he had before. His hip hurts fairly constantly, causing him to need a pillow between his legs when he sleeps. His shoulder/neck muscles are worse than ever, and migraines ensue. Very few (like: 2) things work to rid himself of them... one is so much of a muscle relaxer that he is forced to sleep. Not easy to be productive when that happens.

On the emotional/psychological front -- I am more apprehensive when he rides alone; asking that he give me a general idea of where he's going, and that he leave his phone on (in case the need for tracking arises). I am slightly more nervous on the back than I was before the accident.
Ace partially blames himself for the accident. Again, "could have/ would have/ should have" messes with your psyche. For a long time after the accident, he didn't want me on the bike with him. I allowed him time to get re-used to it on his own, but after a few months, told him it wasn't his decision. I don't blame him for causing the accident or either of our maladies, but I will not have him telling me that I can't get back on his bike. That had to be my decision, and my decision alone.

On the financial front -- his case is done; we're just waiting for the final accounting to be drafted, and his check to be issued by his attorney. My case just started negotiations. I will not reveal how much we're each getting, but I will tell you... it's not by any means a windfall, and it sure as hell isn't worth what we had to go through to get it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Too Much To Hope For, I Guess...

As most of you know, over the years, I've asked Princess' b-d to allow Ace to adopt her. He's always said, "No" (followed by a multitude of reasons; none of which truly applied). I figured that it wouldn't hurt to ask again. In March of this year, I did just that. I spoke to RP (a very good, very well-known, adoption attorney in our area) to see if she was still on board (I've known her for years; she offered over 10 years ago to do the adoption, should MG ever take me up on the offer). "Of course!"
I then had my family law attorney, MB, send him a letter. This letter basically stated that I was willing to let go of all of the attorney fees judgments he owes me as well as current & future child support, plus all interest (without having the judgments in front of me, I think they total somewhere in the $25,000-$30,000 range). MB also told MG that I had already been in talks with a collections attorney. Surprise! He actually agreed... sort of. He wanted to meet with Princess first, without me there.
When I talked to Princess, she freaked out! She was almost in tears, so I told MB, "No. I will not put her through that." For whatever reason, MG decided not to push that, claiming he knew it would make her uncomfortable. Ok, then... We had a tentative "Yes", as long as I would sign the order to release his financial obligations *before* he "signs his parental rights away". That started a multitude of explanations from RP.
You see, that's not how the law works. A judge will not allow a parent to have his/her rights removed (except in VERY drastic cases - this is not one of those) without another to IMMEDIATELY replace that parent. Translation - his parental rights are not terminated until the judge signs the adoption order, basically swapping out Princess' b-d for Ace, replacing him as her "legal father". Before the judge can do this, all parties involved must sign a consent form. From signed consents to signed adoption order takes roughly 2-3 months.
Many back & forths about this; MG still refusing to believe what RP is telling him, and arguing that he "won't sign his rights away until I sign the money judgments, because" he believes "D*** could change her mind about the adoption, and then I lose my rights, and still owe her the money".
You can imagine the irritation at this point (and, remember that under Oregon law, everyone involved in the adoption has to sign a consent -- which is what we're asking him to sign, and he's refusing). Princess, being "over the age of 14y" signed her consent. Ace signed his consent. I signed my consent. Ace also signed his consent for a criminal background check (required under Oregon law), and I signed a waiver for the home visit (after almost 13 years together, there's no need). I also signed a waiver for a court adoption ceremony, which reduces the amount of time we need the judge to be available, hopefully reducing the amount of time we have to wait for our court date.
I had also contacted my child support case worker just before I talked to MB and started this whole thing, who decided (since MG has no "real" job -- he works under the table so he can hide his income from me) to suspend his license. A "Notice of Intent To Suspend License" went out, and my case worker told me that a couple days later, MG called him. They worked out a payment plan, C.S. gave me about 80% of what I assume was a federal tax return they had intercepted back in July of last year (long story -- they have up to six months from garnishment to decide how much, if any, of the returns are his, as he is the only one legally responsible for paying support to me), he made a $200 payment, and he got his license back. Two months later, I hadn't gotten any more money, and MG still hadn't signed the consent, so I called my case worker again.
The child support system had given me a new case worker at this time, a female. She & I discussed what my previous worker & I had talked about, and what he had been doing to get some money for me, and she told me she was going to suspend again; this time, requiring "multiple payments" before he got his license back. I got another copy of the "Notice Of Intent To Suspend License", and about a week later, a copy of the "Notice To Suspend" with the box stating *has not entered into an agreement with the Child Support Program* checked. Three weeks later (last week), I got about 2/3 of what looks like their state tax return from this year.
The same week his "Notice To Suspend" was sent out, I had RP attempt, one more time, to try to clarify things even further -- how the law works in these types of cases, that MB had already prepared the Satisfactions, that I intended to sign them & have MB file them as soon as the adoption is final, and (most important) that he DOES NOT LOSE HIS PARENTAL RIGHTS until the adoption is final. I also told her that since he doesn't seem to believe her (& MB, when he communicated the same thing), I was willing to pay for him to have a one hour consultation with an adoption attorney of his choice, up to $245, and asked her to (A) remind him that should he not sign the consent, we're just going to wait until Princess is 18y (which is just over three years away); at that time, we don't need his consent nor do we need to notify him of anything, and he will still owe all the money... and (B) give him a cut-off date -- two weeks from the date of the letter should be sufficient -- to find & meet with an attorney of his choice, and to get the signed consent to RP's office.
That date was July 11th, and not only did he not get the signed consent to RP's office, but neither he nor an attorney on his behalf contact her at all. So, now we are working under the assumption that he has no intention of signing the consent. I have contacted (again) the collections attorney I originally spoke with a few months ago, and we are in process now. I continue to hope, but am not holding my breath, that MG comes to his senses & signs the consent; allowing the adoption to go through. But, after all these years of him not doing ANYTHING in Princess' best interest (btw -- she told me yesterday that she is more pissed at him now than she's ever been because he won't just "sign the damn papers" <<-- her words), that is highly unlikely, and I am done letting him off the hook.