Catching Up

Since my last post, here’s what has happened…

  • The US Supreme Court said that the proponents of California’s Proposition 8 did not have standing to contest the overturning of the law by US Federal judge Vaughn Walker. Once the law was overturned, same-sex marriages could resume in California. SCOTUS also overturned parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, which allows federal benefits and recognition on same-sex marriages that are legal in the states where they are performed.
  • On August 11, 2013, we renewed our vows in the courtyard of our church (Westminster Presbyterian Church in Sacramento) so that we could get a legal California marriage license and finally be able to call ourselves legally married.RenewingOurVows2013
  • In September 2014, we sold our lake house in Kentucky to dear friends Kyle and Becky. We loved the place, but having a vacation home 2000 miles away wasn’t very practical. We are grateful that it has stayed with family. A month later we bought a fantastic home in Clearlake Park, California, which is just 2 hours away. The new house has great views of the lake and surrounding mountains, and it has been a successful vacation rental home for us. This is our view:DSC04481
  • In February 2014, we took a trip to Costa Rica with Mom & Dad Wylie. Beautiful sights, and we did our first zip line. I enjoyed it much more than I expected.
  • On April 5, 2014, we said goodbye to our beloved Samantha. She was 15½ years old. We still go through periods of sadness thinking of her.
  • On May 2, 2014, I (Steve W) was riding my bicycle to work and was hit from behind by a car. I ended up with a broken pelvis on the left side, plus a dislocated shoulder (torn rotator cuff), broken thumb, and broken wrist with torn ligament on my right arm. I was hospitalized for 9 days and had 3 surgeries to repair the damage. I was grateful that there wasn’t more extensive injuries, and of course, that I survived the accident. I have been on disability since the accident.
  • To add insult to the injuries (so to speak), my job at BareBones WorkWear was eliminated shortly after I was released from the hospital. I wouldn’t have had a job to go back to, even if I had been able to work.
  • I was in a wheelchair for the first 12 weeks after the accident, and had a cast or splint on my right arm for a total of 14 weeks. Physical therapy continues, and my recover is around 80%.
  • October 2014 – we unexpectedly adopted another dog when Stella Stevens joined our pack. She belonged to our neighbors next door, but even with 10 people in their house (6 of them children and young people), they couldn’t be bothered to walk her or play with her or even take her to the vet. The poor thing was left in the backyard to bark at anyone and everyone that walked by. When we mentioned that the barking was a little bothersome, Kathy mentioned that they were planning on getting rid of the dog before winter, because they didn’t want to leave her outside in the cold. Steve G mentioned that we would give her a good home, if they went forward with that plan. We got her the next day. She’s a 5-pound chihuahua that now has updated vaccinations and has been spayed. She loves to play, and tries to get Sherman to chase her any time she can. We’re still working on potty training (another thing she didn’t learn when she lived next door).Stella Stevens
  • The above photo was taken as part of our new church membership directory. Of course, Sherman also had his picture taken and would be upset not to be included in this post.75014036F079

It has been quite a year. We have much to be thankful for, but we also hope that 2015 has more joy and less sorrow.

Peace to you and yours this holiday season!

Still Waiting

The Supreme Court may rule this week on two cases regarding Marriage Equality. We hope for a vote to overturn California’s Proposition 8 as well as the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

We feel like we’ve been married for 13 years, but in the eyes of the government, we are two single men (although it gets complicated because of California’s registered domestic partner laws). We hope this year we can tie the knot, officially and once-and-for-all.

  • The StevesWe had our commitment ceremony in 2000...
  • The Steves...and then went to San Francisco City Hall in February, 2004...
  • The Steves...where we got married in the rotunda...
  • The was a beautiful ceremony...
  • The Steves...but we're still waiting for the day when we can get married for real.
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An emotional week

Dealing with aging parents has its ups and downs, but this week has been an interesting test to make sure we are up to the challenge.

On Sunday, just at the end of the church service, Mom W passed out. She was unresponsive for about 30 seconds. She suddenly revived and said that she needed to eat something. We decided it was important to get to the restaurant for brunch so that she could get some food in her.

I won’t go into what happened at the restaurant, but let’s just say that it was not very appetizing. I told Dad that he needed to take Mom home. He was disappointed, but we were insistent.

At one point after they got home, Dad called 9-1-1 because Mom continued to have problems, but she insisted that he call back and cancel the emergency call. Finally, on Tuesday, he made an appointment with her doctor for an evaluation. The doctor discovered that she was allergic to sulfa drugs. On Sunday, she had taken a Celebrex that morning to deal with her lower back pain, which has a sulfa compound in its formulation. The doctor thought that might have been what caused her fainting spell and the problems at the restaurant.

This should all be good news, except that Mom has decided that she needs to be angry at all of us (Dad, sister, and the two of us) because somehow it is our fault that she had to go to the doctor for treatment. She is not willing to accept that, had the situation been reversed, she would have done the exact same thing.

While we love Mom dearly, the health problems that come with aging are challenging. We are doing our best to cope, but we hope that the emotional reactions (on both sides) find a way to be expressed without too much damage. Her persistent sadness and negativity continue to erode our relationship and our faith that this is where we are supposed to be. Her unwillingness to seek help—or even admit that there is a problem—drains our energy.

Or is this just payback for the difficulties I caused her when I was a teenager?

The IRS Giveth and Taketh Away

We almost finished our annual income-tax-filing ritual. The challenges of being a registered domestic partnership couple in California (a community property state) and yet being unable to file a joint federal tax return have made filing our taxes this year to be frustrating at best. The differences in federal and state rules has required us to create a number of different tax returns, just to understand what we gained and what we lost.

Under our normal tax filing, we would have netted about $1150 in a federal tax refund. If we had been able to file jointly at the federal level as a couple, we would have received a $565 refund. By splitting our income and deductions, somehow we ended up with a net federal refund of just $490. We have looked at all the forms every which way, and we just can’t figure out how we had to pay so much more in federal taxes.

It didn’t help that today was a particularly expensive day. Our little chihuahua, Sherman, had his annual veterinary checkup today. That, plus the annual 12-month supply of heartworm prevention medication for both dogs, cost us $440. Then I took my 11-year-old car to Jiffy Lube to get the oil changed, and they convinced me that I needed to use the synthetic oil, so my $30 oil change costs $70.

Boy, that extra $660 in our federal refund sure would have been nice right about now.

Fast Forward

We just can’t quite figure out where the time goes! One minute we’re thinking about what to write for the website, the next minute 8 months have passed! What’s up with that???

We are doing great and enjoying life in Sacramento. We are actively involved in our church and appreciate the support and nurturing that our church family has given us. Steve G was elected to the Board of Deacons for a one-year term, and as long as he remembers to go to the monthly meetings, he is enjoying the service that his ordination requires. Steve W was elected to the Pastor Nominating Committee at the annual meeting of the congregation in February. He is serving with 8 other members to develop the materials to present the church leadership opportunity as well as interviewing the candidates once all the materials are written and submitted to the national Presbyterian Church. Needless to say, both positions keep us very busy!

This weekend is our annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner, complete with live music and a delicious meal of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and all the trimmings. We will be helping out with the cooking and meat carving, and it is always a fun day working in the church kitchen!

Otherwise, life continues on. We enjoy our walks with the dogs in the mornings and evenings, and the time we spend together after work (often in front of the TV, not always watching a show that both of us enjoy). The good news is that after 12 years together, we still enjoy each other’s company and just appreciate being a couple. We are waiting for some news from the courts to tell us what our potential legal status might be, and appreciate the efforts of our US Senator Dianne Feinstein to repeal DOMA.

Until then, we are still trying to figure out how we are supposed to file our federal and state income taxes. The discrepancies are mind-boggling!

Settling In

We are happily settled into our new home now. We’ve had a couple gatherings for the neighbors, co-workers, and church friends, and are looking forward to having more guests come once the summer heat has subsided a bit. We enjoy our neighborhood and meeting the neighbors. The dogs enjoy walks around the area too, although with the temperatures around 100, we’d all much prefer to be inside.

We are both working full-time now. Steve W is starting to see some results from changes that are being implemented, all positive, of course! Steve G now has a nearly-full-time job as a deliverer for a local funeral home’s floral division, plus working a half day per week at one of the laundromats owned by our sister and brother-in-law. He was also just ordained and installed as a deacon in our church, which was a very proud moment.

It is hard to believe that we arrived here in Sacramento eleven months ago. The time has flown by, with lots of activity and excitement with the house purchase and job hunting. We have no regrets about the move west, although we miss our friends back in Indiana. They know that they are welcome to visit any time!

The New House

It’s amazing what can happen in two month’s time… We closed on the new house a week ago. No, it’s not the house we wrote about in November. In fact, we were in contract one more time after that house before buying this one, but that’s a story for another time…

The good news is that we did buy a house. It’s near the first house, but in a different zip code. A little farther away from the folks, but very convenient for work. It has a 3-car garage, which was high on our wish list, and a cement tile roof, which is supposed to last a long time… We are thrilled and excited, and cannot wait to move in!

We have had painters and flooring people in, and unfortunately had to replace the furnace after only 5 days, but it will all be worth it in the end. We will move most of our stuff in tomorrow, except for what’s heavy in the apartment that we’ll have the professionals take care of. But at least we have a house with a yard, somewhere that we can enjoy and relax in and have friends over. When are you coming for a visit?

House Purchase Update

Well, buying a house in the Sacramento market is definitely not as easy as it was back in Indiana! We are still in contract, but have had to deal with picky lenders and a lot of paperwork to make this happen. The good news is that it looks like we will close a little after Thanksgiving. The bad news, it’s only about 4 weeks later than we expected.

The inspections went well. There was about $4000 in damage, mostly to the exterior of the house, that the seller is paying. Overall, the house is in good shape structurally. The furnace, which is in the attic, needs to be replaced, but we will deal with that after we move in. It and the air conditioner unit both need to be replaced, but there are some great deals out there for new systems.

The only thing left is the financing, which has hit a few bumps. We have had a few lenders show interest, then turn us down at the last minute. That has caused our delays. We have a new lender who has signed off on the income requirements, but has asked for a new, independent appraisal. So we are waiting for the appraiser to do her/his job and report the results. Then it should be a couple weeks before we close. The seller was gracious enough to allow one extension, and now we have to ask for another. (The house was previously under contract and went through four extensions, then the buyer backed out, so he is understandably concerned about going through that again.) We are very confident that the appraisal will come back fine, so we know that we only need a little more time. Keep your fingers crossed!

House Buying

Well, it looks like we’ve bought a house!

We put in offers on four different properties, and considered offering on two others. One house had 14 offers, another had 5. One of the houses that we wanted to write an offer had already received 73 offers, but the bank wasn’t responding to any of them. One of the others was not hosting any showings – if you wanted to see the house, you had to submit an offer first. Who wants to put in an offer on a house that they’ve never seen????

Well, we found a house that was not a foreclosure or short-sale, and we managed to get in an offer before anyone else, and it was accepted! So now comes the inspections to see if this really is the house for us. It is in a great location and has the right layout for our lifestyle. We think it’s the right one, but will need to make sure!