Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Great Adventure

Some people, like our youngest daughter, have great adventures when they're young. Some of us opt for jobs, children, responsibilities and wait until we're old. We are in that crowd. The old crowd.

But it's never too late to have an adventure, and we're on our way. Sort of. Here's what we're going to do.

We are currently lining up all our ducks to get out of Oregon for at least six months a year. I have a neuromuscular condition that makes me hurt—bad—when it's cold and damp. Which, contrary to the rest of the country, is most of the year. In case you missed it, we live in Oregon, specifically Beavercreek which is more or less close to Portland. Where it rains.

My doctor actually told me to take the geographic cure, and I want to please her. Since pleasing her means not appearing in her office to repeatedly debate narcotics vs. pain (I'm for neither), we have decided to go on an adventure.

You can read all about us, and the rest of the cast, in that tab called Cast of Characters. But Jenny (aka The Old, Short One) is going to retire. YAY! And, I, for health reasons, am essentially retired in place (although without the money since I'm The Young, Tall One and still 18 months away from Social Security). That's plan one.

Plan two: Buy a motor home. We are looking for something in the 2003 range since the bank won't finance anything older. We are also looking to move from a 2400 sq. ft. house into 400 sq. ft. of motor home.  This is probably the biggest adventure because I am an inveterate collector of stuff.

Yes, I am going to sell the books. Most of them. Now that I'm almost old, I can't read most of them anyway, no matter how many prescriptions my eye guy writes, so I got an e-reader and have now accumulated thousands of books in one small space instead of needing a whole house to hold them all. I will only keep the hard to find ones, just in case I someday write that book on atonement theology I've been threatening to write for years. (Hint: I'm against it.)

So, here's the agenda:

  • Get money. We're working on this one. Big sale coming up. Also an Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign.
  • Buy RV. Also working on this. Need opinions on the motor home vs. fifth wheel issue.
  • Trade two cars with payments in for one with no payment (or at least a very low payment). This is done. We now have no van, no tent trailer, and just the Prius and our bikes. Once we have the RV, we may get rid of the Prius and just use our bikes and rent cars if we need them.
  • Give stuff to kids and friends.
  • Sell what the kids and friends don't want.
  • Store the stuff we may want if we ever become housebound again.
  • Figure out what to do with the house (we hope to rent it to friends so we can park here in the summer....we have a whole 1/2 acre so we won't be annoying.) (Okay, I just heard some of you say, yeah, right. Yes, I will probably be annoying, but people will remind me to stop and I will.) However, the bank may have other plans. More on that later.
  • Be ready to go by spring at the latest.
We wanted to leave by October because we wanted to be in Texas before the end of football season. Yes, you heard that right. I wanted to go to some Texas football games. Not because I love Texas. Not because I have a clue about football. (Read this for more about me and football) But our only grandson (at least until 12/12/12) plays football in Texas and we wanted to watch. I would, as usual, annoy Jenny with my irreverent comments about the sport while she yelled at umpires or referees (or whatever they are) about bad calls and talked about conversions and other such esoterica. I would watch the game when Tyler is on the field. The rest of the time I would wish there were cheerleaders in club football so I could watch them instead. Maybe there are cheerleaders in Texas middle schools. I hear cheerleading is almost as serious as football down there.

We had hoped to spend the first winter of the Great Adventure in Central Texas near Ft. Hood because, come spring, our oldest daughter and her family will head off for three+ years in Korea. We wanted to use the Killeen area as home base and explore from there, spending plenty of time annoying her family. Our oldest grandchild will come back from Korea a college freshman, so we still hope to get some mani/pedis with her before she leaves. When she comes home, she will have A Life and little time for us.

This same daughter is also having a baby in December and we want to spend time with this new human. She also has Tyler and Amelia (whom I call Millie, but who calls herself Mia.). Tyler is 12. Millie is 1. Our daughter and her husband like kids. A lot.

Anyway, that's what we wanted to do. But life has a way of changing things and now we may be stuck in rain and cold for another winter. One that I will spend most of in bed. My condition is that bad. Still, I'll find time to write and time to post and maybe time to finish my second novel so it can get published. (I see my publisher glaring at me right now if she's reading this. Actually, she's my business partner in a publishing house that we own together. More on that later as well.)

So, enough for that. A brief introduction to us. Stay tuned as we fight discuss all the stuff we have to do. But I had Highland Still House chicken pot pie for dinner, so I'm starting to nod off.

The House Saga

Well, today I finally got my chance to get mad at Chase Bank in person. As some of you may know, we've been fighting a losing battle with the bank ever since we moved into our new house some four or five years ago.

When you build a house, you get a construction loan at a really high rate of interest. As soon as the house is complete, you convert to a normal loan at a much lower interest rate. Unless, of course, your title company makes a huge mistake. In our case, we ended up with two titles, one for the house, one for the land. However, we didn't know this.

Our first tax bill came and was for under $100. Something's not right, we thought. We called the county and they said things about appraisal made before house was built, will get it figured out correctly next year, don't worry. Notice there was nothing in there about the two titles.

So we applied to refinance and were right up to the dotted line when the bank (which had mysteriously become Chase Bank, not the bank we'd taken out the mortgage with) discovered the title problem. You'd think this was a little problem. Nope, it took EIGHTEEN months to get it straightened out.

We waltzed back to Chase, still thinking they were on our side, to refinance again, and discovered that was impossible. Why? Because suddenly the new home we moved into with close to $100K in equity was now substantially underwater. For the second time, but the first time involved real water (a freak snow storm that melted off in less that a day and turned Beaver Creek into a raging river.)

I asked Chase, still thinking they were on our side, what we should do. They said, "No problem." Just ask for a loan modification. Oh, but first you just have to be tiny bit behind in your payment to qualify. Just a month or two. THAT WAS THE FIRST LIE.

Not knowing what we know now, we went behind in our mortgage, thinking that we'd get a new mortgage at a substantially lower rate in a few weeks, catch up on our mortgage, and be on our way.

NO CHANCE IN HELL. Four years later, and we're on our way to foreclosure with our once great credit rating destroyed. I'm talking FICO scores well over 700.  I'm not going to bore you with the sordid details. If you've followed the mortgage crisis at all, you know all about MERS, robosigning, lost paperwork, and all the other crap that we went through.

The point is, we did nothing wrong (except somehow mysteriously get involved with Chase and believe their lies). We didn't buy more house than we could afford. We had a nice 30 year conventional mortgage lined up. We sent everything they asked for in, multiple times. We sent it again and again. We did a seemingly endless series of profit and loss statements for my business. We called them frequently and got a different answer from each person we spoke with. Sometimes we got 15 different answers from 15 different people in one phone call. I'm serious. We asked to have things in writing (they declined) (and that's illegal, we found out later) and yet somehow they decided we couldn't have our house.

Today we went to the home ownership center for Chase. Every big city is supposed to have one and if this is happening to you, GO THERE. NOW. For the first time since this mess began we have somebody we can call who is finally trying to help us. It may be too late for us...four years of being behind in your mortgage casts a heavy pall over your financial situation (remember that FICO score? Cut it in half and then deduct your age, weight, and telephone number) but it may not be too late for you.

So I got my chance to vent at the guy, then we started looking at options. First thing, he started the modification process again. This buys us at least a year before we might have to be out of the house. Then he pointed out that Chase had started foreclosure in March although we were only notified of this a week ago. We've got him working on that but apparently that can bring the foreclosure process to a screeching halt.