Saturday, July 26, 2008

All this, over squirrels...

What a weekend!
So... where to begin?
The squirrel saga continues. Only this time, it's over so much more than just squirrels.
The new heater was installed this weekend, but not before it puffed white and blue clouds of smoke through the house and gassed me, Beans, M, and her children. Oh, that was fun. Especially when everyone started to feel icky and J's reaction was to send me and Beans to a hotel in Delta Junction for the night and call the landlord and ask questions.
Oh, boy. Let the fun begin.
Long story short, after everyone was in a tizzy, it ended with the landlord (husband part) calling and asking if we wanted to get out of our lease. (Well, DUH! Of course we do!) And with me making a two hour trip to Delta Junction to get absolutely NO sleep, since Beans thought hotel life was incredibly exciting. The good thing that came of it? J, being the best husband on the planet, made sure that a Hagen-Daaz chocolate almond coated coffee ice cream bar (and a few other "necessities") were in the room waiting for me.

Just when I thought life was good again, Beans decided to do a flying headbutt kick flip into and over the coffee table (that's a crazy kungfu ninja kick she knows, seriously, the girl has mad skills). This ninja warrior move ended with blood spraying from her mouth and her screaming baby-obscenities (and me screaming grown-up ones) at the coffee table. Poor girl decided right them and there that NO, mommy CAN NOT AND WILL NOT look at the owie, and mommy CAN AND WILL nurse me RIGHT NOW. After about 5 minutes of that, both Beans and my boob were covered in blood and it looked like a war zone in the hotel room. She split the inside of her lip pretty good, but eventually decided she was all better,and went back to practicing her ninja moves.

This morning, I followed up with the landlord and the offer to get out of the lease is not without strings. *sigh* I KNEW it was too good to be true. Without getting too in depth with it, the long and short is that they need to get new tenants before we leave, as they can't afford for the place to sit vacant. Hmmm... well, while I don't really feel like that's MY problem, we agreed that they could try to find another tenant. If so, they'll give us 30 days notice. We DID say that we will NOT move after October. If they haven't found another tenant by then, we'll just finish out our lease where we are, to avoid moving through snow, sleet, freezing temps. Yeah, we're PEOPLE, not postal workers. (Although if I don't shoot that squirrel soon, I might consider a winter move after all.)
This decision was not reached without some considerable, um, what's the word I'm looking for? Hmm... argument. Lots of stressful argument. And several, "I'll have to call you back in a little while because if I keep talking, my head is going to explode and I'm going to tell you how stupid I think you are" moments.


Hmph. I returned home to find my landlord still working on the heater. The house smells like a gas station, you know, like near the diesel pumps. Oh, and smoke. Like exhaust smoke. And I sort of feel the way I used to when I was smoking dope in high school. Very, very, very high. But he (the landlord) assures me that it's safe to stay here.
I'm (almost) sure he's telling the truth and not trying to kill me. After all, if they kill me, they still won't have another tenant, right?

Oh, and the wife portion of the landlords is not speaking to me. For the record, I am TOTALLY OK with that.


So, for people who don't actually personally know me or have reason to be concerned with the fact that I have been fumigated out of my own home, the day's lesson is this: Never ever ever ever ever ever ever sign a lease without seeing a place first. And asking lots of questions about how repairs and maintenance will be handled. And whether or not there are squirrel-huggers in the family or neighborhood.
And for anyone relocating to Fairbanks/North Pole... I know a rental that is available. If you are interested, just send me an email. I'll happily forward your information along to my landlord.

For Family and Friends (who do actually know us personally): Seriously, folks, we ARE ok. We are not homeless, not going to be homeless, not being evicted or anything crazy like that. We are not going to have to live in an abandoned bus or cardboard box in the middle of winter here. We are seriously relieved that we were offered. We will send a forwarding address (to most of you, anyway). No idea who, what, where, when, why, or how... but y'all know us, we always figure it out. If God is for us, only the squirrel huggers can be against us, right? Really... we're going to be fine. We'll probably be heading down to Delta Junction, closer to J's job, even though I have been forbidden to do so by my friend M, and I know she's secretly (or not so secretly) praying that God makes it work out so that we have to stay in North Pole. (And you thought I didn't know! Teehee!)


In other news:
Most of my other news is scenic... I've never driven to Delta in the evening time until last night. And even through my annoyed state and diesel fume headache, the drive was really stunning. I passed a handful of moose, including one momma with a baby who looked like it was still trying to get used to his walking legs and not his womb legs. Seriously, this poor little thing looked so gangly, awkward and new, I just wanted to go kiss his cute little moose nose. Obviously I didn't, because the mother would have trampled me to death, but this little guy was just adorable.

In other Moose Watch News, I was greeted at the hotel doors by one, standing not more than 5 feet from the entrance, happily munching on grass. (Um, I avoided the moose and the very dumb, very drunk tourist taking pictures WITH a flash, and used the back entry door for the hotel.)

And then another moose on the drive home today had me cracking up. As I was driving down the road, I noticed a weird shaped "log" in a roadside pond. Getting closer, I discovered it was NOT a log, but a moose, neck deep in the water, taking a bath and watching the cars go by.

The mountains were MOST spectacular. I felt like I was driving somewhere I had never been before, as many of the mountains have lost their snow caps and are lush, green, rolling hills now. Until I got into Delta, that is, where the mountains in the distance still look like the drawings of glacier mountains you see on water bottles, icy and snow covered.
The clouds were low and gray last night, casting a "twilight"-esque hue over the mountains. An eagle flew over head near the Tanana River, and as much as I would have liked to stop to watch, I pressed on to the hotel, exhausted.

Speaking of twilight... um, we still don't really have any. I caught a very tiny glimpse of what ALMOST looked like a sunset the other night, but it still stayed too light out to really "set".
AND, I saw something the other day that stopped me in my tracks. For the first time since I've moved to Alaska, I saw the MOON! Granted, it was in the daytime sky, but its presence surprised me, and reminded me that fall and winter will soon be approaching.

For those back in the lower 48, we have a little over 18 hours of daylight still. The sun "sets" around 11 or 11:30 these days, and rises around 4 or 4:30. I'll have to pay attention to the Great Loss of Daylight announcement on the news tomorrow for a more accurate time for you.
I do have to say that I am really looking forward to a "normal" day, where the sun rises at a "normal" time, and sets at a "normal" time, and where we actually have a sunrise and sunset. I know, I know, it will be short-lived, then I'll be in the dark and craving daylight again, but I AM looking forward to the longer nights!

Speaking of nights and dark- I have been told that aurora season is coming! From what I've been told, the Northern Lights get very active in August, though you do have to stay up pretty late to catch them (because the days are still long). But I am SO excited!


OK. That's my news from OUR moose trails. Beans is now protesting bed, and I'm going to go kiss her poor little swollen lip.
Until the next adventure...
Happy Moose Trails!

Friday, July 25, 2008


I just want to say that the berries are beginning to ripen. After hanging out at M's house and seeing that several of her wild raspberry bushes had some ripe berries, I did a better inspection of my own berry patch and discovered a handful of ripe ones, with several more looking like they will ripen this week.
SO much tastier than the things you can buy at the store, by the way!

Earlier this week, I also bought a plant identification guide as well as a pocket guide to edible plants in Alaska. I wandered through the property and discovered we actually have several useful things growing in the mess that we call our "yard". High bush Cranberries, for one. Also lots of rose hips, and some other berry that I am going to take to the co-op to have someone identify for me. From what I understand, there is only ONE poisonous/non edible berry in Alaska, and I'm pretty sure this thing is not a bane berry.


Speaking of "earlier this week", I have been BUSY BUSY BUSY, which is why we are short on blog entries.
J came home on Monday and after speaking to several other "locals", we heard the same advice, "Never ever ever ever go walking in the places you went walking without being armed again." We heard several stories of a few "local" grizzlies that wander through North Pole late at night and plenty of black and brown bear stories to cause slight concern. And most of these stories were from fairly reputable sources. Only one was from someone I would consider to be missing a few screws.
So, we spent Monday in town, doing a little gun shopping. We didn't buy anything yet, but we are looking into a good rifle or shotgun for J, and a sidearm for me. (Something tells me I am in more danger with a rifle slung over my shoulder and Beans in the backpack than I am with bears wandering around!). I'm ALMOST decided on a 357, J is convinced he needs a 12 gauge, to blow any bear to pieces.

Tuesday was a day for playing catch-up, and Wednesday, after stopping by M's to play for a bit, was a trip back into town- to take J to the Farmer's Market. We found LOTS of goodies there (mostly overpriced, but we were caught up in the tourist trap of all our things being "worth the cost"), and spent plenty of money. We came home and made salads chock-full of organic veggies with weird names like "kohlrabi" and "swiss chard"... most of them were pretty good, and we followed it up with a delicious piece of strawberry-rhubarb cake made by a little Russian lady from Delta Junction. Oh, YUM.

Playing with M and the kids was fun, too. We melted down a bunch of old crayons and made those neat multi-colored ones, and M and I got to catch up on our chatting while the kids all behaved pretty well. We picked fresh strawberries from her yard, a couple of the ripe raspberries, and meandered through the yard, identifying useful and pretty plants. My little Alaskan friends had asked me to bring a jar of shark's teeth I had collected from my years of living near beaches, and I had a really good time showing them off and teaching them about them.

Thursday J and I both had some form of Summer Cabin Fever. Neither of us were in the mood to work on home projects so we loaded up the van, put Beans in the car seat, and headed south on Parks Hwy. (For those back home, Parks Hwy goes from Anchorage to Fairbanks.)
It's a beautiful drive through the mountains, and in some places, we were actually looking down through the clouds! The scenery is amazing, and we stopped to snap some pictures along the way.
About an hour down the road, you come up on the small town of Nenana. Originally a Native Village, missionaries built a foster home/boarding school and set up shop there. The church and grounds are still there, but mainly just for tourists now. (The school is no longer active.) There is a small railroad depot (with a museum) and a small cultural center, where we found lots of interesting facts about the Native tribes in the area and what the area was used for over the years. (Fishing, dog sledding, and hunting mostly, until the railroad came through.)

We had a good time poking around and then stopped in for lunch at Brandi's Diner, which was definitely worth the time and money. We had fried cod (and "chips", of course!), and good company. The town is friendly, and since there are only around 500 people living in the town, they are curious about passer-throughs like us.
Beans (of course) impressed everyone, and while she was busy flirting with waitresses and other patrons, we got to chat with an older couple that have been road-tripping for the last 2 months in a conversion van.

The drive home was just as beautiful as the drive there. We got home later than we planned, but it was well worth it.

J and I finished off our week together with watching the movie "Into the Wild", which I think all my friends in the lower 48 should see.

This weekend I am hoping to just play catch-up on all the things I neglected to do this week.
We'll see what happens.
Next week, a trip to Delta Junction is in store, and who knows where our other adventures will take us.


Shhhh...... the squirrel score- Squirrels:2, Humans 1.
I just want to say that we thought our neighbors would be supportive of our efforts to rid the house of squirrels. Apparently, they are avid squirrel lovers themselves, and protested when we pulled out the pellet gun. (A nifty little thing, too! Looks like a pistol and you can buy pointed pellets so they work like miniature bullets.)
The only thing worse in my book than a bunny-hugger is a squirrel-hugger.
Seriously. Our whole neighborhood is squirrel crazy!
One squirrel met his maker this week, while the rest of our neighbors were at work. I am patiently waiting for a clear shot at the rest of them, but I will say this. The squirrels DO seem to be a little more cautious about coming into our yard these days.

OK. Landlords are installing a new furnace today. Maybe the new one will be a bit more efficient.

Meanwhile, Beans needs a nap and I need a shower. Until next time,

Happy Moose Trails!