Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Quiet Days, Long Drives

Well, all is awfully quiet on the landlord front today, folks. This means they have either decided that we have some pretty good legal points and decided it was best to just shut up, OR they are plotting their next move. Either way, I'm not sure I care.
EXCEPT... (yeah, there's one of those in there)...

The heating saga continues. Can you believe that??? So, the heater works, but every time it starts up, the smoke detectors go off. That was REALLY fun at 2 am, right after I got Beans back to sleep and about 2 hours before I had to get up to drive J to Delta Junction, let me tell ya.
And SURPRISE, SURPRISE! I called my landlord about it, got voicemail, and 12 hours later, have heard nothing in response.

This is where I'm going to give the weather report. It's been raining a cold rain today. It never got above 60 here, and tonight is supposed to be around 40. But who needs heat, right?


So let's move on to something worth reporting today, then.
Moose Patrol was good this morning. With the slick roads, I was very glad that all of the moose we saw this morning were polite enough to stay off the roads. No babies spotted today, but several cows, happily munching on trees or standing in the roadside ponds along the way.

Speaking of roadside ponds, Salcha is experiencing some flooding. You can check out today's Daily News Miner ( for pictures. It made for an interesting drive, as many creeks, and the great Tanana River itself has crept out of it's bed into yards and even over the shoulder of the main highway in some parts. There was some talk about attempting to divert the water. Hopefully I can even make it back to Delta Junction tomorrow to get J from work.

There is something amazing about water. The Tanana is full and angry, running swiftly, cutting into the earth and making new divides in the earth. The old rapids have been drowned out, and new, angry ones have taken their place, sweeping new debris along the road.
I had nearly grabbed my camera this morning, and left it behind because the rain wasn't going to give me good pictures of the Dome or any of the other scenic view. With the river reaching new heights, I wish I had grabbed it anyway.

I feel bad for the folks in Salcha. The water at some houses are lapping at foundations, a few even starting to take on water. In spite of this, I was awed at the "hometown" feel when I passed
Salcha's fairgrounds and found many people of the town out filling sandbags. I wanted to stop, lend a helping hand, but with Beans in the car, the rain still falling, and the worst part of the road flooding to go, I pressed on to home.
It took 3 hours to make the usual 1.5 hour drive. I got home EXHAUSTED and craving coffee. (OK, so craving coffee is nothing unusual for me.) This was the first time that the drive through the mountains and next to the river felt "scary" to me, and I began to be very thankful that we are moving to Delta and J won't have to make that drive in snow and ice.


So, I know I promised a fabric report, but that's going to have to happen tomorrow, since I didn't make it into The Calico Cow today. It's long boring story of a husband and a wife having a spat, that y'all REALLY don't want me to rehash... but I HATE fighting, especially with my sweetie, and I lost all motivation for fabric shopping. (Grocery shopping too, for that matter, so I also have to go to the commissary tomorrow as well.) I spent my afternoon moping around the house with Beans, and finally decided that it would be better to snuggle up with her and have a nap than it would be to worry about accomplishing much of anything today. And I'm glad I did. We slept for two hours, her happily nursing next to me, snuggling up for warmth. When she woke, she woke bright-eyed and happy, leaned over and gave me a sweet kiss, and said "mama, night night."
Who needs a clean house when you can get sweet, slobbery kisses from such a sweetie?


Back to Delta Junction tomorrow. This time, I'm packing the camera, rain or shine.
So, from our trail to yours....
Happy Moose Trails.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Times, They are a' Changin'

OK. First, my title reference. In my absolute and extreme dorkiness, I will admit shamelessly that I am a HUGE Bob Dylan fan. I know, he kind of sounds like a dying cat when he sings BUT... this means I can sing along and everyone thinks I sing horribly because I'm trying to stay in tune with Bob, instead of just sounding awful. Plus, how can you be sad when listening to "Maggie's Farm" or "Subterranean Homesick Blues"?
I'll tell ya, I really AIN'T gonna work on Maggie's Farm no more.
For real, old Bob knows what he's talking about.

Next, the times, for us, are indeed changing.

The latest (moose) poop scoop:

J and I did a little research. I love the Internet, because you can find all kinds of interesting things out that you would normally need a professional for. Like what your legal rights are as tenants. Or what is considered invasion of privacy. Or what grounds you have to legally terminate your lease. And a very nifty fact: that your landlord can not attempt to get you to move unless you are late on your rent (we are not), or doing something illegal (we are not). And that attempting to terminate your lease (AND listing it for rent prior to the term of your lease) ESPECIALLY in response to a maintenance request is a BIG no-no.
We double checked with an attorney, just to be sure. He agreed that we definitely have a good case, if our landlords decided to try to take legal action against us for leaving (which they have promised they will, if they can't get this place rented out again.)
After coming up with a four page list of grievances and politely typing out the Alaska Statutes governing those grievances (hey, why make them do their own research, right?), we gave 30 days notice.
Um, actually, we had a legal right to only give them 10 days. But we are nice people. Besides, we need a little time to pack all our gear and stuff and leave. And find a place.

So... looks like we are headed to Delta Junction after all. In about 2 weeks. I am relieved to be leaving our current situation, but entirely bummed to be leaving our new friends in North Pole. J has promised that he will allow me to come visit frequently, at least until gas hits over $7/gallon (so, like, next week, right?).


Meanwhile, as I'm sure you can all imagine, our landlords are TICKED. The wife portion called and insisted that we had no legal grounds for terminating the lease. And every time I pointed out the law and their actions, she told me I was "wrong". At one point, she even bragged that her husband already knows all the laws in Alaska because he's a cop.
OK. If he knows the law, maybe he should abide by them, right?

THAT particular conversation ruffled my sweet, southern feathers. And those of you who really do know me well will understand exactly what it looked like when I did something we southerners call "Breakin' Bad". Oh, I broke bad, all right. I went from Scarlet O'Hara (sweet and proper) to good old fashioned Al'bama trailer park trash faster than Coach Saban lost his fan club when he didn't lead Bama to the SEC Title he promised to deliver. (For those of you not into SEC football, shame on y'all. It was pretty fast. And for those of you who do follow SEC, War Eagle!)

Ah, I digress. (Imagine that.)
So, I broke bad. At one point, I think I even cussed her. And boy did she get MAD MAD MAD when I told her that I was going to file a complaint with the Alaska Housing Dept as well as file a complaint on base.
Hey, before you think I'm a total jerk... a lot of the fellas here are deploying like crazy, leaving behind wives and kids who will be fending for themselves through the winter months. I know what being left behind during deployment is like. The LAST thing a mom and wife need while trying to get through Alaska's winter without their loved one needs is a landlord who insists that you shouldn't need heat or takes their sweet time evicting voles and squirrels from the residence. If that makes me a jerk, then... I guess I'm a jerk.
ANYWAY... she completely flipped out about that. And after she told me in a VERY angry voice that I should go have a nice day, I told her I would, since in 30 days time, I wouldn't be living in her cruddy house anymore. (I told 'ya... I broke BAD, y'all.)

Her husband called my husband (she tattled on me), and I'm being punished. I'm not allowed to talk to her anymore. (Oh, gosh! I don't know if I can bear the punishment!) Apparently, I'm too mean.

The good news out of all this... her husband (the cop who knows all those laws) admitted that he saw our point, and where we felt they violated those laws. And even agreed that one of those points was a violation he could agree that we had grounds for.
They don't agree with our claims that they have not addressed our repair requests. Apparently they feel the issue of the vermin in our residence has been addressed. As well as several others.

And for the record, when he FINALLY got a professional out here to look at the heater, the professional said when the heater was installed by the do-it-your-selfer, um... he didn't install a very important piece.
Don't ask me what it was, I don't know. I'm not a heating repair guy, which is why I would never attempt to install a heater by myself, especially in a residence where my lack of knowledge would jeopardize another family's life.
Oh, and it was indeed causing diesel fumes in the house. And we were indeed rather smart to leave the house the night it filled with smoke.

So, the landlord's response? He is going to think about our notice for a few days, do some research, and get back to us to let us know what he thinks we should do.
Um, I'm not sure what that means.
Please, anyone out there smarter than me, correct me if I'm wrong, but notice is notice. It means "I'm leaving. Happy Moose Trails to all y'all. Good luck in your future endeavors. Don't the door hit ya in the... on the way out." RIGHT???


So, aside from THAT lovely drama, life has been good. We seem to have secured new housing, and will be able to find out our move-in date tomorrow. We had my friend and her husband come over this evening for dinner and loaded all the wood that we have been chopping and stacking into his trailer and let him haul it home for his own wood stove. For the record, it's about 2 cords of wood he was able to take. I feel very very happy knowing that our friends will be warm and cozy for a month's time because of this, while I am enjoying freshly butchered chickens from their stock through the winter months. I am even happier that all our hard work (chopping wood) went to someone who does care about us, instead of to people who thought they were going to take advantage of our hard work and give the wood to the next tenants for free. (Um, no.)


Today was a trip into town (Fairbanks) for Beans' 9 month well-baby check up. That was kind of a waste of time, but for friends and family, she's happy and healthy, and I'll send all the details of her weight and development in separate and private emails. (Sorry folks, I am still a little freaked out about Internet weirdos.)
We also had to fix a nail in one of my tires. I tried to joke and tell J that we should leave it there, since studded tires will be allowed soon, but he didn't really appreciate my joke.

While we were in town, we looked at more guns. I just want to say that I feel like I am drowning in gun knowledge now. I never thought I would be the kind of chick who would ever even know what a 357 was, much less be able to discuss the differences and advantages between a 357 and a Ruger GP 100. Or think of flat tip bullets as "cool". Or sign up for information about the firing range and various classes they offer.
Um, seriously... prior to moving here, if J dragged me into a sports store, I spent my time looking at "pretty" fishing flies and decided which fishing and hiking boots would be fashionable with all the ugly gear he insisted I would need to go fishing with him. Now, I am discussing the advantages of an Alaskan Guide holster in comparison to a shoulder or hip holster.

After looking at guns (and for the record, the ones that were most practical were decidedly not "pretty"), I was in desperate need of something girly. So I went into the cold weather clothing section and found a handful of very-practical-but-still-cute layering clothes for the impending winter. This put me in a much better frame of mind (not to mention making me feel like I was still a woman). Between that and a latte, I was ready to finish our shopping and head home.

I mentioned before that we had our friends over to pick up wood and have dinner.
Last night, we dropped by their house around dinner time, when our landlord needed to show the house to a prospective renter. M's husband cooked up the BEST fresh salmon I have ever eaten in my entire life. Seriously... I will never eat store bought again.
And if our friends keep cooking like that, I am going to have to remember to conveniently need a place to go around dinner time more often.

We returned the favor this evening, and even though my homemade taco pizza (with chili and cumin crust) is really really good, it didn't compare to that salmon. But the company was great.
For me, there is something cathartic about donning my apron and busying myself with tasks of chopping veggies for salad or stirring a pot, while I share my warm kitchen with good company. M and I chatted in the kitchen, both of us with little babies in tow, while the men talked of men things (mostly what gun they think I should own) and the older kids played. Dinner was an informal sharing of laughter and story-telling, and just plain old companionship... something I desperately missed in my "lonely years" in Alabama.

I want to say this, too... it's rare to find a COUPLE that you and your spouse both enjoy spending time with. More often than not, the wife likes the other wife, but the husbands don't care for each other, or the husbands are good pals and the women have nothing in common. I LOVE that we have found friends that both of us can enjoy spending time with.

I was sad when our friends packed up to leave, acutely aware that we were establishing memories that we would be fondly looking back on when we move away to Delta Junction, and our visits are not as frequent as they are now. I spent a few moments in the cool evening air, watching a hard rain come down through the tall spruce and for a moment wished that everything had run a little more smoothly with our landlord. I'm really going to miss our new friends!


The agenda for the rest of the week is CRAZY BUSY. A trip to Delta tomorrow for groceries. You know you need to go when in one fell swoop, you run out of flour, salt, and sugar... not to mention the creature comforts of chocolate chips and fresh fruit.

I have to either stay in Delta Junction or make a return trip back, as J is working a mid-week overtime shift. (How silly is that???) The news from the housing office in Delta Junction will dictate my weekend. I'll either be packing stuff up to move next week, or spending a little leisurely time going through a few things in preparation for the following week.

I do have to say that I AM looking forward to my breakfast at the Diner tomorrow and when Sherry (one of the regulars down there) asks me like she does every time I stop in, "Have you given up on the city life yet? When are you coming down here?" I can give her the news.

And since we are going to be down there, I might as well start poking around in the fabric shop down there (The Calico Cow), you know, just to see what kind of stuff they have and how many adorable aprons I'll be able to make. Plus, I'll have to see if I'll need to stock up on my winter projects before snow hits and the roads are bad.


So... stay tuned for:
-landlord response
- moving day
- fabric report
and of course, our faithful "Moose Patrol" Count from our drive to Delta!

Until then...
Happy Moose Trails!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Just not feeling nice anymore

Which tends to happen when I am cold.
WHY am I cold?
You guessed it. The heater still does not work. Even though the landlord left yesterday with promises that it was running and assured me that it was completely normal to smell diesel fuel while it runs. This morning, the house was a chilly 58 degrees and Beans and I were snuggling under the winter blankets for warmth.
And (surprise, surprise), when my landlord finally called me back, he actually asked me if I WANTED him to come look at it today, or if it could wait. This is after his wife insisted that we shouldn't even need the heat.
For those of you who don't live in Alaska (or in the interior), I just want to say that I could see my breath outside today. Um, ya... I (expletive deleted) want you to come look at it TODAY!

So, after another afternoon of waiting around and choking on diesel fuel fumes while smoke detectors went off in the middle of Beans' nap, I began to lose my patience. (Can any of you imagine why?)

While my landlord was standing here talking to me (instead of fixing the heater), I was googling our rights as tenants, and chatting away with him while I copied and pasted the many many many (well, like, four) violations of Alaskan Statutes they have committed into a letter that will be sent to the via certified mail this week, along with 30 days notice. (And no, I really don't give a flying, um, squirrel, if you have another tenant by then or not!)
You read that right. We've lost all patience. The search for another place to live has begun. I read my letter to my sweet husband who told me I'm so smart and awesome and that I should be an attorney.

I won't name this friend, but I was also strongly advised to just slip away under darkness of night. Which I would do, if waiting for darkness of night didn't mean having to stay here for three more months until it gets dark.
HA! I crack myself up! You gotta admit, that's funny. *grin*

Ah, I digress...
So, my "meanness" doesn't end there today. While I was happily typing my "intent to vacate" letter, my landlord began apologizing that these issues were taking so long to resolve.
For the record, when he left he once again told me I should expect diesel fumes and smoke, and tomorrow he would have a professional come look at the thing. He said, "I'm sorry". And you know how that phrase elicits a knee-jerk reaction to say "That's OK"? Well, I did. Then I looked up from typing my letter and said, "Well, actually it's NOT OK, but somehow we'll manage to get through the day. Like we have gotten through this whole week." Then smiled sweetly and asked him to see himself out, since I was busy typing a very important letter.

You know, I just want to say that I AM a very very very nice person. I REALLY hate when someone else's actions (or lack of) makes it necessary for me to get mean.

Catching a glimpse of my computer screen must have inspired some action on his part because shortly after I found our house listed on Craigslist, available Sept 1st.
First, I wonder if this means I should be looking for a new place? (Like I wasn't already???)
Second, the ad made me laugh so hard that I spent the next 20 minutes cleaning coffee off the screen, as I spewed it out of my nose.
Listed in the ad, "Moose and Squirrels frequently visit the yard... truly Alaskan!" or something to that effect.
Um, moose DO visit the yard. The squirrels live in the HOUSE, not the yard, and maybe they should disclose that information.
I also noted that they hiked the rent up by $100. I guess the squirrels cost extra.
Also making me giggle was that the landlord mentioned the wood stove as the alternate heat source and said there was wood already split and stacked available for use.
Um... should I tell then NOW that I already promised the wood to a dear friend of mine? In exchange for chickens. And I desperately want those chickens. And that she (the landlord, not my dear friend) really must be a loony bird if she thinks we cut, split, and stacked that wood for someone else to take for free? Yeah... not so much.
Hmm... maybe I should offer to sell it to her, for a fee. The going rate on a cord of wood is about $250 now.
Nah. I'd rather have chickens, and see that my friend is warm and toasty all winter.


On another note, I encourage every reader to check out the comments others leave for Moose Nuggets. I LOVE the input that all of you leave. I was particularly giggling about how squirrels in the south get pellets to the butt. And if you love my blog, please send the link to others or encourage others to check it out! The comments on my last blog entry really brightened my day and made my heart warm (while the rest of me is still cold and adding layers for warmth.)

OK. Enough shameless soliciting...


Have I mentioned yet how happy I am that my sweetheart is coming home tomorrow? I'm a tough cookie, and perfectly capable of handling business, but it sure will be nice to have someone else here to deal with our squirrel-hugging, no-heat-needing landlords.


The Moose Trail feels a little long and lonely today. I think I'm going to make some hot cocoa and snuggle up with Beans while reading library books.


For Family and Friends:
Beans is possibly the smartest baby in the universe. I showed her a picture of a duck today (in one of her library books) and she said, "duck duck duck duck", and laughed hysterically while I clapped, danced and cheered. I also showed her a picture of a goat and she tried to mimic my goat sounds, "mah-ah-ah-ah-ah", and laughed when I (finally) caught on that she was trying to make goat sounds with me. She also tried to "hee-haw" like the donkey, which was totally adorable.
When I laughed at her, she got a VERY serious look on her face and told me, "No, no, no, DON'T!" (which is also a favorite phrase during diaper changes or when she is caught trying to eat pine needles or the stray bug that makes it into the house.) Yup, she's pretty brilliant!

OK. off for hot cocoa and snuggles. Until the next time,
Happy Moose Trails!