Don’t Let the Cobwebs Gather in Your Elbows

Juneau, Alaska. Check.

Miami, Florida. Check.

Boston, Massachusetts. Check.

Restart…

“We want you both to come work for us.” That’s how the story began.

Girls, pack your cat nip. We’re going back to Alaska. Someone hit the reset button.

Sometimes, it takes you six years to figure out what you prefer in life. Sometimes you take wrong exits off the highway before you figure out your GPS has given you faulty directions and you have to get back on the highway. And sometimes, you have to go out there and see other places so you can extend your family and have more experiences in life.

We’re Off…Like Cats Looking for the Open Can of Tuna!

Once we fired off the confetti cannon and made our decision to go, we quickly packed up our three furry kids, dropped off the two lizards to the nieces and selected some creature comforts to get us through a couple of months of Alaska living. We will be back to Boston in November to remote work and pack up our house, then go back to Alaska in March for the next summer season.

Packing for a second household is interesting. Which garlic crusher do you take? What about cutting boards, one or three? Are we going to need the blender? Better take the mini food processor. Do you think we should take the Learn Spanish DVDs so we have something to do? How many pairs of jeans are you taking? Don’t forget the favorite cat toys. And whatever happens, don’t forget the cat treats. Better pack a Keurig and a bubbler (Sodastream, as I love my bubbly water.)

One would think, if you forgot something, just go to the store when you get there. Right? That’s the thought of 99% of everyone who is traveling to new locations. Except where we’re going, that’s not as easy as it sounds.

We’ll be spending most of our year in Hoonah, Alaska. Population 750 give or take. About 3 miles of paved road and 150 miles of dirt logging roads. Ever see that show, “Alaska Bush People” back when they were in Alaska? Yeah, well, they lived in Hoonah. And no, they were not really living in the wilderness. Talk about fake news.

Hoonah is the largest Tlingit community in Alaska and is located on Chichagof Island in southeast Alaska. It’s about 40 miles west of Juneau or a 20 minute flight. It also has the largest concentration of coastal brown bears in the world, although I have yet to see one. Lots of bear poop on the road, lots of poop.

(What is a coastal brown bear? Apparently, those in the know, decided to make a different class from the typical grizzly bear and classify the coastal brown bear. As I understand it, the coastal brown bear found mainly on Chichagof and Admiralty Islands eat mainly salmon and are therefore bigger in nature, therefore you get a different type of bear. )

Back to the story…

Anyhow, there’s no mall, no Walmart, no Target, no Walgreens, no Kohl’s. There’s a hardware store and small grocery store, whose motto is, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” The other day I was desperate for a pair of plain old regular scissors for home. You know the kind with the orange handle? Went to the hardware store. Found them. $16.

I’ve ordered some things from Amazon, you know I’m a Prime member and all. An electric throw blanket. I thought I’d pick one up at Costco in Juneau, WHEN I FLEW OVER TO GO GROCERY SHOPPING, but they didn’t have them. Normally, Prime is next day delivery or two days, right? Here….it’s two weeks. My blanket should be here by September 27th.

Please Keep Your Claws Inside the Carrier at All Times.

Traveling with the cats is always an experience.

Liggy, our 20-22 year old is a pro. She’s been from Alaska to Miami to Boston. And now she’s gone back to Alaska.

Monkey and Taku, well…they’re a little unimpressed at the whole process. They joined us in Miami, so they’ve only done one journey with us. A flight to Boston. Needless to say, as soon as the carriers come out, all hell breaks loose.

Monkey sings the song of her people, which sounds more like someone who has just eaten a meal that hasn’t agreed with their system and their bowels are about to explode.

Taku silently glares at us. Placing what are undoubtedly triple strength, unorthodox feline hexes on our souls, cursing us into damnation. No snuggles for you.

We break up the flight, overnighting in Seattle as a cross country, to Alaska flight is too long to be stuck in a kennel. Going from Boston to Hoonah is a three flight journey, even with non-stop flights. The upside was once we got to the Seattle hotel and blocked access to behind the beds, the girls decided there was safety in numbers! STICK TOGETHER! Normally, they don’t hang out together….

Cats snuggled in at Seattle hotel, safety in numbers.

When we travel, the two youngest go underneath in the traveling pet cargo area. Which I told them was a disco for pets. I’m not sure they believed me entirely. I did tell them to go easy on ordering the Alaskan beer and mimosas on the flight as altitude can sometimes do crazy things with your alcohol consumption. Liggy travels as my carry on and goes under the seat, she’s a first class pet. Of course at her age, she should be.

However, when we got to Juneau and loaded up into our final plane, Liggy’s eyes were as big as golfballs as she was loaded into the back of our little plane. At least we were all together on this one, everyone was seated in the same compartment. I could turn around, look past the cargo net and see the three girls. Hang on everyone, here we go. One more flight. At least Monkey wasn’t serenading us. If only because Taku had her muttering out the unorthodox feline hex as well. Bonding at it’s finest.

Welcome to Hoonah-lulu

Ah, what a relief.

Not that we finally arrived after traveling for two days, with three cats and five pieces of luggage. One of which was the cat’s suitcase, I kid you not.

But we arrived back where we’re supposed to be.

A good friend greeted us with open arms at the airport, we dropped our stuff at the house, got the girls situated so they could find hiding spots inside the house, then we drove 2 miles of paved road to the grocery store.

It felt like a giant scratchy coat had been shed and cast aside.

I could finally breathe.

I was lighter.

I wasn’t stressed about having to drive down the Boston highway with 14,839 crazy drivers, making left hand turns from right hand lanes. Or taking 90 minutes to go 16 miles. Or swerving lanes as they text on their cell phones.

All of the frustrations of my previous job slid off like waves on a fine sand beach. No longer my issue. Not my problem.

The next day we went into work, doing what we know best…cruise tourism. People are excited about the future. Excited about the possibilities. Excited about the potential. There’s talking, laughing and sharing ideas. There’s big ideas, big plans and things are happening.

There’s no time to sit back. It’s time to jump in and see how we can help. What can we do? Where do we start? It may be the countdown to the end of the 2019 season, but the 2020 season is already in planning and new projects are unwrapping faster than birthday gifts.

It’s thrilling to be back.

Wait, did I mention the view from work?

Animal Loves

An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language. – Martin Buber

Animals.

They come in all shapes and sizes.

Tiny lady bugs to towering giraffes.

Smooth skinned snakes to rough hided rhinoceros.

Feathered hummingbirds to furry giant cows.

Kittens with quiet meows to dogs with barks as large as a lion’s roar.

Pocket sized desert mice to dump truck size elephants.

I could go on and on about the many types of animals we see in our world and the list would be extensive.  The variety of animals greatly outnumbers the variety of homo-sapiens on this planet.  We are a small variety, yet vast in number, populating this planet.

Earlier this week, Facebook popped up the photo below.  It’s from ten years ago.  When I tried to convince my giant friend Tater, he too, could be a lap dog. Now the first time I ever met Tater, he came bounding out of an office running to meet me like I was a long lost friend that he couldn’t wait to see.  We had never met before but for whatever reason….he couldn’t wait to see me once he heard my voice.  It was like that ever since our first meeting.  I always called him my boyfriend.

tater on couch

Tater, passed away recently.  When I sent this photo out to a couple of people, including his mom, she wrote back:

Aw!  He loved you so much.

And I loved Tater.

Think about it.

If you have a pet.

How much do you love and care for your pet?

I would bet some days you love your pet more than people.  I would even say you carry on conversations with your pet.  You may even take better care of your pet than yourself.

Our animal loves do not utter one word to us.  They do not carry on intelligent conversations with us, not where we’re able to say, “Oh my cat Monkey’s head hurts today…she told me.”  Nor are we able to say, “Lenny, our puppy, said he doesn’t like the liver treats, but he prefers the chicken ones.”

Yet somehow we communicate with them on another plane entirely.

Yes.  I love you too.

Yes, let’s get dinners.

Let’s go outside.

Do you want to snuggle?

You are such a good girl/boy.

How was your day?

And we talk with them.  Ask them how their day went, what they did and we tell them how our day went.

Animals are truly people in fur, feather, scaley coats.

They give us unconditional love.

Fill us with happiness.

Bring us great joy.

Our days are brighter and provided with purpose.  They’re our companions and confidents.  Even if they can’t utter one logical sentence, we tell them our darkest secrets and biggest fears.  We share with them our most hopeful dreams, filled with unicorn sparkles and make wishes with them as we blow out birthday candles.  When we’ve had crappy days they’re the ones we share our sadness with and pull the sheets up over our heads with while hitting the snooze button.  On weekends if we want to be lazy and eat chips while watching a binge on Netflix, they’re happy to snuggle with us.  We celebrate holidays and muddle through tragedies together.

On Saturdays, I volunteer at a farm animal sanctuary, Unity Farm Sanctuary.  I work with   everyone from miniature horses to alpacas to chickens to cows and goats.  Everyone and I do mean everyone, has their own individual personalities.

Take for example, Audrey and Elliot, the two cows I visit with every week.  Audrey is a brown Jersey and Elliot is a black Holstein mix.  They are both about 800 pounds (still growing) worth of love and they enjoy helping with chores.  They’re really good supervisors.

Elliott and Audrey Helping

These two are like giant puppies.  In fact,  people often call cows….grass puppies.  When I come through the gate, they can’t wait to say hello and get their pats.  Without saying a word, I know these two are happy I’m here.

They follow me around the paddock as I clean up. Getting chin scratches and head pats between scoops of poop removal.

Finally….they say….

I break out the brush and take turns brushing my bovine friends.  Elliot is notorious for grooming me while I brush him.  He loves to lick any part of my body he can reach while I brush.  My back, leg, foot, head….

I brush.  Elliot grooms.

And yes, his breath smells like hay.

Thank you Elliot.

Audrey, is just content to be brushed and enjoy the conversation.

However, if I stop brushing her and go back to brushing Elliot….without fail, she’ll come up and either bop me in the butt with her head, as if to say, “hey lady, you aren’t done with me yet!” or muscle in between Elliot and I to get more brushing.

Audrey is also one to play with the ball….roll it across the paddock and she’ll chase after it.  Do it again, she says.  Looking at you.  Daring you to come and get it just like a big puppy.

Audrey and ball

 

Our animal loves are our everythings.

All without saying a word.

We connect to one another through our hearts.

All without saying a word.

We understand one another.

All without saying a word.

We support one another.

All without saying a word.

We take care of each other.

All without saying a word.

Isn’t it amazing?  Different species.  Caring for each other.

Without saying a word.

Then you look at the homo-sapiens. Who according to the Oxford English Dictionary, currently have over 171K words available to use by today’s guidelines.  These are only the words in active circulation.  Yet, we can’t get along to save ourselves.  We’re too busy finger pointing, arguing, backstabbing, having malicious contempt for each other and one-upping through social media.  It’s ridiculous.

We have the ability to communicate which could lead to many great outcomes, yet we can’t figure out how to do it effectively enough to solve problems, end suffering or love one another.  Why is that?

Perhaps if we follow the lead of our animal friends and learn to acknowledge one another on a different level, we might be able to go past the anger and self-righteous in our world and fill it with understanding and compassion instead.

Elliott Kisses

 

 

You’re Kinda Like Me

The other day on Facebook someone posted a little kid’s response to the question, “What do you want to be doing when you’re 100 years old.”  They responded by that age, they’re going to dislike people, live in a tiny house with their tiny pets.  I thought, good for you.  I’m half way there.

I’m not going to make it to 100.  I already prefer hanging out with animals over people.

If I could move out to the country, to the middle of Nowheresville, I’d go tomorrow.

One exception.  There would have to be a coffee shop.  My husband likes to talk to people.  I’d be okay with miles of fields, trees, starry nights and my farm animals.

This is why I love my time at the farm sanctuary.  There’s very little one-upping, high-stepping, no impressing or brown nosing.  It’s purely a come as you are society.  And although I can say it’s quiet.  It’s not quiet.

Turkeys are gobbling.  Roosters are crowing.  Horses are neighing.  Geese are honking.  Donkey is braying.  Alpacas are singing.  But what’s missing is the roar of the television.   Horns are not blaring.  People aren’t yelling into technology as they communicate with friends.  Ear buds are not leaking out the bass….all about the bass.

The other part about the sanctuary I truly enjoy, which is true of much of the animal kingdom, is how everyone has figured out how to get along.  From the smallest chicken, to the largest pig to the tallest horse and strongest cow.   Homo sapiens could use a lesson from Rafiki, the Mandrill from The Lion King, on how to get along with others.  Think about it for a moment.

Humans are like bruised peaches.  Or overly ripe bananas.  Our porcupine sensitivity extender quills are set to the highest rating and we’re zapping ourselves off the sensitivity charts.    It’s either, “this” or “that.”  There is no compromise and you must pick a side.  No, Marie Antionette, you will not have your cake and eat it too!  I’ll give you the coffee bean but not the grinder to make the coffee, figure it out, which do you want?  Bean?  Then better get some rocks to grind for coffee.  We are all in this together, maybe we should learn to blend, bend and balance.

Revert back to kindergarten and one of the first things we all should have learned: Be Nice.  Be Nice to Everyone.

Walk through a sanctuary yard and you’ll see chickens napping with pigs.  Turkeys hanging out with Guinea Foul.  Llamas standing with goats.  Great Pyrenees dogs with alpacas.  Little kittens hanging out with everyone, well they truly run the place, let’s be honest.

Then when you consider the greater animal kingdom, look at how many species are similar to another.  Certainly they don’t worry about identifying with another creature.  Rafiki could provide the next lesson to humans on this concept if we were to be so lucky.

Do you think the rhino might really be trying to be a unicorn with their cleverly placed horn?  Maybe they were the trial run?  Or the warrior unit of unicorns?

What about the donkey?  She is just a delightful, impish horse.  A cross between a miniature and a Welsh pony.  Don’t you think?  Have you ever met a miniature horse?  They think they’re Clydesdales.  There’s nothing miniature about them.  Small and mighty, I know, I take care of 5 of them at the sanctuary: Cash, Flash, Summer, Goldie and  Gypsy.

Panda bears and raccoons.  Black and white, with those clever bandit masks…hiding their facial features.  Both are round, fuzzy and rolly-polly.  What are they up to really?  Their pockets are no doubt filled with lost treasures.   Speaking of bears, you know there is a contest of biggest and baddest bear between Kodiak and Grizzly…brown, large and in charge.

And what about a leopard, jaguar and cheetah?  Big spotted cats that love living life in the fast lane.   They’re obviously all on the same branch of the family tree.  I hear reunions can be a bit of a challenge.

Or a dolphin and a porpoise….gray, slippery, sparkly looking creatures that live in the water.  They splash past ships and zip around like crazy nutters, flinging their glistening bodies through the air like an arrow shot from the water.

Crocodiles and alligators, the leathery looking, tough skinned, snap you in half faster than a spring loaded booby trap critters.  Similar, yet different species.

One that always confuses people: alpacas and llamas.  One is taller and the other one looks like it would be happy living as a house pet.  Lots of furry fluff to snuggle into, big eyes and a long neck to hug.  Which maybe, they could have been the trial run at creating a giraffe.

Beyond the animal species that look alike there are species and couples that are just better together.  Think about your own household, community and neighborhood.  Cats and dogs build special relationships.  Thank to the internet we have seen a multitude of images of different species snuggling and playing together: birds and cats, dogs and hamsters, goats and sheep, chickens and cats, dogs and sheep, rats and dogs, dogs and horses, cows and people.  Think of the combination and it’s out there.

We could take a page from the animal kingdom and learn to get along.  It doesn’t always have to be this or that.  It’s called having a circle of friends. Take a breath.  Sit down next to the llama and say, “what’s up.”  Learn something new from our neighbor.  It’s okay to find out you and the cheetah down the way have the same spots, it’s called being human.  Share the friendship.  Make the connection.  Say hello.  Be kind.  Open the door.  Put the phone down.  Be a human.

Go Faster! Hurry! Outta My Way!

I lived in Southeast Alaska for 20 years, where there isn’t a rush hour, there are rush minutes.  It doesn’t take an hour to go 15 miles.  In fact, there were only 40 miles of road before you ran out of road where I lived.  Of those 40 miles only 9 could be considered a true highway, meaning two lanes in each direction.

Every day now that I live in the suburbs of a big city and work in The City, I spend a ridiculous amount of time in my car going to and from work.  I spend a lifetime in my car.  It is the practice of patience.

Now, I love my car.  I brought my car with me from Alaska.  He’s been to Alaska.  He’s been to Florida.  Now he’s in Massachusetts.  He’s perfect for me.  I can see over the hood.  I can reach the pedals.  I can reach over and unlock the passenger door without effort. There’s not much to him.

In fact, he didn’t come with anything fancy…

No automatic door locks.

He has hand crank windows.

No radio (had to have one installed)

No beep beep to unlock him.

No rear window wiper.

No seat warmers, GPS or USB plugs.

What he does have is a great spunky attitude, cause his name is Norman and he is Absolutely Red.

How do I know he’s is a boy?

Stick shift.

Of course, when I take him into the doctor’s office for a check up, they always get a chuckle and laugh.  “Oh, you drive a unicorn.”  Well.  I guess you could say that too.  He is a rare, mythical being.

For a 3-door hatch back, that you could almost park in a 4 yard commercial dumpster, Norman gets around.  When we brought him up from Florida, he was packed with quite a lot of our household goodies.  Nobody could be believe all this fit in my Norman.

(Note: Cat not included, she arrived separately.)IMG_0312

The other thing great about Norman is winter driving.  Granted, he isn’t going to be climbing Mt. Washington any time soon, he’s not a Subaru…..let’s not get crazy.  But, weigh him down with 150 pounds of cat litter in the back and no problem!  Did I mention Norman is coming up on his 11th winter?  He’s the bomb at winter driving.  Small but mighty!

The one thing however, that is NOT Norman’s speciality is speed.  Well, it depends on where you live.  Speed for Alaska, Norman was a champion.  Speed for Miami we managed as it was mostly giant highways and we just had to stay out of the way.  Easy enough. Speed for Boston, there isn’t enough highway and way too many people.  Mostly angry, impatient people.

Norman can go 80mph.  In fact, he could go 90mph.  He doesn’t like it and will tell you all about it with a rattle and hum.  His comfortable maximum cruising speed is 70mph.

When Norman reaches 70mph, that’s when he has to call in the reinforcements.  The squirrels…. to back up the little chipmunks that normally power the car.  When you have to ring up the squirrels, it’s never a good thing cause they’re usually in the middle of their bocce ball game, taking bets on who is going to beat Marge and Harry.  Then you have to bribe them with extra peanuts, which they don’t take, they want walnuts and not just any walnuts…they want the good ones with the gold star from California.

Now here’s the thing driving in Boston.  It’s three to four lane highways.  It doesn’t matter if we’re going into The City for work, going home from work, going to the volunteer at the animal sanctuary on the weekends….Norman and I are smart enough to know.

Stay to the right.

We aren’t the fastest.  We’re not fooling anybody.   Can’t you see, I’m actually leaning forward in my seat a little to try and go faster?

I’ll be damned.

Without fail however.

It doesn’t matter.

I always get someone behind me.

A Lexus.

A Honda.

A (insert brand here) pick up truck.

A BMW.

A commercial van of sorts.

Who is insistent on riding my bumper.

Now this is what I alway say out loud.  “If you look to your left, there are three other lanes to choose from over there.  Look at all that space over there!  What makes you think by choosing to ride my ass, it’s going to make all of us go faster?  News flash….I’m in a Yaris.”

Then it dawned on me.  Apparently, Norman has magically powers.

Obviously these City people think Norman has The Power….maybe it’s because he’s a mythical Unicorn….but they think he has The Power….to control highway speed.

To date, my little Norman, the Absolutely Red Toyota Yaris, has yet to transform into a  Ferrari.  If he does, I’ll let you know.  Until then, we’ll continue to ride on the right….more power Marge and Harry!

 

 

 

 

The Angst of Halloween Excitement

Some people look forward to the Fourth of July: fireworks, picnics and parades.

Others enjoy the thrill of Christmas: tree decorating, traditional song singing and lots of eating.

And others anticipate specific spiritual holidays: ceremonies, reflections and renewal.

Me?  If I could choose one holiday.  It would be Halloween.  I love everything about it.

Scary movies.  Dressing up.  Scaring people.  Decorating.  Vampires.  Scaring people. Candlelight.  Monsters.  Being scared.  Haunted things.  Ghosts. Scaring people. Pumpkins.  Bats.  Rats.  Witches.  Scaring people. Things that go bump in the night.  Cobwebs.  Bones.  Potions.  The mysterious and unexplained.  Oh, and scaring people.

All of it.

Love it.

Best trip ever: Universal Halloween Horror Nights with some of our closest friends in Florida.  Multiple haunted houses.  Aliens.  Mike Meyers.  The Purge.  The Walking Dead.

It. Was. Awesome!

If I could find a job working at a haunted place year round, I would.  You say your place is haunted and you need a tour guide?  I’m your person.  I’ve stayed at the Lizzie Borden house here in Fall River, MA.  You know how that story went….

Lizzie Borden took an axe

and gave her Mother forty whacks.

When she saw what she had done,

She gave her Father forty-one.

And yes, I sat on the very couch where she is rumored to have axed her father!  Yes, I believe in ghosts.  I believe in the supernatural.  Bring it on.

I worked in a building in Juneau, Alaska that was hands-down haunted.  Thank you Mr.Livingston….may your spirit live on and entertain the new owners!  (She says with a laughing cackle…)

I love this kind of stuff.

Needless to say, with Halloween around the corner, I am anxiously awaiting pulling out my trunks of decorations…for my office.  I’m like a little kid waiting for the Easter Bunny to poop out chocolate candies on Easter morning.  The excitement is killing me!  But, unlike the retailers, I refuse to put anything out until October 1st.  Let’s not jump the holiday season.  If you do, then it’s not special.  It’s like the people who leave their Christmas lights and trees up until April, come on….

I will however, wander through Michael’s and Home Goods…oogling and ahhing over the numerous decorations to get my fix like a desperate addict.

Of course I decorate my office.  Duh.  I figure you spend so much of your life in that box,  you might as well make it as enjoyable as possible while there.

The funny thing is…I’m the only person in my building who decorates for Halloween.  I am always mindful as I don’t want to be too gory.  So I leave the severed arms at home.  But I did hang spider nests from the ceiling last year.

Every year I add in something new, so I’m always looking for something else I can create.  It’s almost a mini haunted house, but not so gruesome.  Requirements:

  • Skulls – check
  • Candles – check
  • Potions – check
  • Bats – check
  • Skeletons – check

What’s funny is some people will stop by and come see what I’ve done.  Others won’t come within 20 feet.  “Keep a wide berth Marge.  That one, she’s not right.  She’s got candles and skulls in there.”  Seriously, it’s not like they’re real skulls…I’m a plant eater for pete’s sake.

Now my big question is, “Who/what to be for Halloween?”  Since it falls on a weekday, I always need to be mindful that I could be called into a meeting.  Walking into a meeting of 8 people and you’re the only dinosaur could be kinda fun.  Of course, I’d be a baby dinosaur as I’m only 5’1.

Last year I went as Jane Goodall, the premier chimpanzee researcher.

IMG_3243

One thing, if you know me, the outfit has to have a wig.  So this year, I have selected my costume for the office and yes….it has a wig.  It is also meeting appropriate and there is no height requirement.   I better get started…

I just can’t wait!

 

Drama of Apartment Hunting

We thought we might want to move into a new apartment.  Save some more money, move into a location that has more green area and basically go see what’s out in the wide world of Massachusetts apartments .  We’ve been in our current location for 3 years, but our rent keeps going up and it’s a bit absurd….so we thought we’d go look.

In reality, we miss thunderstorms.  Where we live now, we’re a weather vortex.  No thunderstorms.  Very little snow.  Notta.  In three years, I can count on one hand how many thunderclaps we’ve had here.  Everyone else gets them, but not us.  After studying the weather patterns, it’s obvious we need to move north or west.

So there you have it….the search is on for a thunderstorm location.

I have been using an online app that allowed me to filter by every requirement imaginable:

Location, cost, allowable pets, travel time to work, a/c in unit, how many bedrooms… etc.

On the weekend, we set off with a list of 6 apartments, we visited 5.  Came home with one potential.  Out of the others, the 6th location’s office was closed due to a showing and we waited but they didn’t return.  I was okay with this as one set of homies were hanging out in the back of a pick up truck and the another set of homies were having a party in the commons.  The other three, as you may guess, provided blog material that I couldn’t make up.

Let me walk you through the contestants.  Mind you, on the app, these looked like winners!  And yes, the communities have had their names changed to protect the innocent, or not so innocent…so it appeared.

Contestant #1: Castle in the Woods.  Going north of town…the online description was lovely.  You could even rent units that had a turret!  I want a turret.  We arrived and proceeded to do our customary drive through the development.

All the buildings were set within a wooded development.  It was a very cute tudor style concept.  We drove around and around.  Kids playing in the pool.  Several areas for grilling with picnic tables.  A few people of various nationalities walking around the development.

We go to the office, explain our requirement:

  1.  Washer and dryer in the unit
  2.   Access to outside via balcony for The Girls
  3.   Air conditioning

Everything else we can kinda work around, but these are must haves, without question.  Without these, we don’t move forward.

We are then taken on a tour of an available 2 bedroom apartment. Great, one is available, so this is perfect, as looking at the model is never ideal.  As we make our way over to the unit, the manager tells us, “All 2 bedrooms with w/d are on the first floor.” By first floor, I mean, subterrain.  Yes, as in underground.  This defeats our number 2 requirement of, “we have to have a porch or balcony for The Girls.”

Huh.  Okay.  We proceed into the building where you could have popped open the “security door” with a screw driver.  Inside the apartment, the laminate floors were bubbling up and the musty/mildew smell hit you like the odor of strong blue cheese.  Not to mention the rotting wood on the outside of the building.

We inquire when the buildings were constructed.  1971.  Oh, so these are retro original designs?  Great.

Upon the conclusion of the tour, we get back into the car and I’m trying to be somewhat positive about the whole experience.  “Well it had a lot of cabinet space.  We could make the stackable washer and dryer work.”  The Mister looks at me after awhile and says, “It was a shit hole.”

Whew, what a relief, cause I didn’t want to live there.

Contestant #2: Fields of Fancy.  We next drive to the location,  west of the city, as I had found a cute little development that had HUGE balconies.  Perfect for The Girls.   The website mentioned newly renovated interiors and the property is next to a big state park!  Sounds perfect.

We make the 45 minute drive, from the northern apartment hunting locations and drive through the development for first inspections.  Several red lights begin to flash in my mind:

  • Some units have curtains that are sheets or blankets – not usually a good sign.
  • There’s also some screens on the ground and some rain gutters as well.  Warning sign number two in my book.

However, we drove all the way over, so it’s worth stopping in to at least check it out so we can say we saw them.

After a few minutes, we find the leasing office, park the car and make our way inside.

  • Warning sign number 3 shot through the air like a flare,  when we saw the note posted on the door indicating that access to the pool was an additional charge.  What?

We go inside anyway.

The leasing agent currently has someone at her desk and the resident is very upset.  The Mister and I try to give them some privacy, which is hard to do, when you’re standing in an office area as big as an elevator car.  Luckily they had a coffee area off to the side, so we made our way over there to view the floor plans that were posted on the wall.  The Mister proceeds to make a coffee and the conversation begins unfolding like a movie.

His concerns went something like this:

“If you don’t do something.  If something happens to my wife.   If something happens to my dogs.  I will sue this entire company.  I am calling the police!  I will bring ICE in here and haul out the illegals by the truck load!”

At this point, I look at THE Mister, shake my head and tell him NO.  He says, “I’m not going until I get my coffee.”

The resident continues, “My wife’s right bumper of her car has already been pulled off and there is a scratch on her car!  She is a legal resident of the United States.  I am going to sue this place if anything happens to her or our dogs.  I even spoke to the woman who lives downstairs and she’s happy I’m doing something because those guys in the car are nothing but trouble.  I will bring ICE in here!”

I give The Mister the look again. This is getting awkward.  We need to go before we become part of something.

Without looking back, we make our way to the door and exit.  The Mister, with his coffee in hand, of course.

We get to the car, The Mister advises, the coffee is nothing but dark colored water….and he dumps it out.

Obviously,  Fields of Fancy is a big nope.

Contestant #3: Welcome to Paradise. Another western development, that looked gorgeous online and was advertised as spacious homes was Welcome to Paradise.  All two bedrooms faced a green belt, it’s near the commuter rail, has granite kitchens, theatre room on site etc.  I truly thought, this could be a good possibility.

However, when we pulled up, we should have taken our cue when an unattended car, left in reverse, rolled into one of the employees’ cars….which rolled into a resident’s car….and dented the shit out of it.  But you know, accidents happen.

We were off to a great start.  They have limited 2 bedrooms come open due to their popularity – a good sign.  But they may have something when we are looking to move.  The agent advises she does have one unit open for viewing, A9, the new tenants are due to move in next week, so it’s currently vacant.  It’s the exact floor plan we’re interested in so we can quickly go view it.

Fantastic!  She advises, “since the last tenant has just moved out and the new ones have not yet moved in, we haven’t turned it yet, so it will be a little messy.”  By turning it, she means they haven’t had the professional cleaner come into the apartment yet to prep for the new tenants.  Not to worry, we won’t care.

The three of us head over to the building next door and head up to the 9th floor to see the unit.  It’s like going to a fancy hotel.  Very she-she.  You walk into the main lobby and they have a big round reception table with flowers and then a bank of elevators behind that.  On the 9th floor, we get off and step on plush carpet and the walls are a beige and royal blue color – very nicely chosen.  I think, I could do this.  Very nice.

Once at A9, the agent knocks on the door, just to make sure and then inserts the key.  She opens the door and the first thing that catches our eye is a Whole Foods shopping bag.

?

She opens the door a bit more and yells out, “Hello?!  Welcome to Paradise management, is anyone here?”

She opens the door a bit further and we see several pairs of shoes and flip flops and an areas obviously set up for a baby.

?

Then a voice comes from the back of the apartment, “Yes?”

The agent says, “I’m with Welcome to Paradise management, is it okay if we enter?”

The voice and now person, who is a young man…with baby crying in a bedroom in the back somewhere says “Yes.”

I look at The Mister and think, “SQUATTERS!”   Then I take a step back and think, “We aren’t really going to go in are we?”

Next thing I know the agent it going in and apparently so are we.

OMG.

The previously tenants very obviously had NOT moved out at the end of their lease, 3 days ago.  This gentleman had apparently been sleeping, by the looks of it and was caught completely off guard.

Not to mention, so are we!

Here we were standing in his hallway as the agent explained the layout of the apartment.

All I could think was:

  1.  I’ve never seen so many pots and pans in my life piled up in a kitchen.
  2. I don’t know what to say.
  3. I don’t even know where to look.
  4. Could the earth open up and swallow me?

We get past the pot & pan collection center, to the living room area and all I could utter was, “it’s remarkable how spacious it appears.”  Then I wandered over to the sliding glass door to look outside.  Yep, there’s trees out there.

At that point, the agent advised we wouldn’t be seeing the bedrooms.  Heavens no, I thought.  This poor man is about to have a coronary right here on the spot.

We all thank him and go back to the hall.  She locks the door and then we all look at each other, “Well that was awkward.”

While I can’t say that our apartment hunting was a failure, it gave us some great stories and we found one possibility up north!  Most people would only be lucky enough to experience just ONE of these experiences on an apartment hunting mission.  Leave it to us…..we get multiples.

I’m almost afraid as to what will happen the next time we go in search of our next nest.  We are creating the next list, stand by.

 

 

 

 

The Drama of Sleeping

The last time I had a good nights sleep was in the womb.

While I love to sleep, I would not get a Girl Scout badge for being able to get a Good Night’s Sleep.   My sleep is disturbed on a nightly basis.

Many of us encounter sleep hindrances at night.  Like the boogie man of our younger years.  It’s like dangling your feet over the edge of the bed and taunting the monster who lives underneath, “Come and get me.”  Who will it be tonight?

I’m not even going to discuss the ancient old night time sleep suckers of:

  • Over active brain: computing the answer to mathematical coupon codes and grocery balances only Mrs. Brady would be proud to solve.
  • Night sweats: so horrendous you think you just went through Niagara Falls.
  • Wiggly Leg Syndrome: where you too, can pretend to run the marathon.  Any marathon.
  • Snoring: Your partner’s participation in the “1912 Overture” inserting their snoring as the cannons.

We could go on and on. Eating too late, drinking coffee too late, put down the iPhone for crying out loud!  Uncomfortable bed, too many blankets, exercised too late…maybe your counting sheep are on strike. (told you to buy the second cut hay.)

However, I’m finding my sleep is being interrupted by absurdities.  The ironic thing?

I’m not willing to give them up.

Case one:

Take this morning for example.  Literally.  5:15AM.

I woke up to a “gobble gobble gobble.”

“Gobble gobble gobble.”

“Gobble gobble gobble.”

“Gobble.”

“Gobble gobble.”

Sounds lovely doesn’t it?  Right below my window.

Nature’s alarm clock.

Not one.  Not two.  Not three turkeys.

Try 20.

All chatting. Gobbling.  Talking over one another.

Obviously, about how well they slept.

Imagine a gaggle of elderly ladies all shouting about how wonderful their grandchildren are…or better yet a group of people standing in line at Starbucks waiting in line and the machines go down…”Where’s MY COFFEE?!”  “MINE FIRST!”

Case Two:

Next up are the party animals.

At first you don’t notice them.  Just a bit of loud casual conversations. Next, the group gets going into a roar and then it’s a howler and everyone is in on the whooping and yelping.  Good grief I always think.  There’s only a few of you…amazing the noise.

I don’t keep late hours.  So when this gang gets going somewhere between 9:00PM and 3:00AM…they’re killing me.

Seriously, I love my coyotes though.

I have to laugh, if they start early enough and I’m up and doing something in the living room…..often I think… “that’s a really odd emergency alarm.”  Nope.  It’s the coyotes out back.

I post their voices regularly on my FB page through video….it’s something else.

***

Speaking of sleep habits, last week I woke up in a panic and was immediately annoyed with myself.  I realized I had overslept.

I woke up my better half and told him, “Oh my god!  I overslept! I missed my dentist appointment.”

His response was, “When was your appointment?”

I tell him it was at 10:00AM and it’s NOW 10:30AM!  I overslept!  I missed my appointment!

By this time, I was out of the bed.  I’m completely baffled how this could have happened as I set my alarm.  He gets up at a ridiculously early time every day, before the worms and birds are even up.  He would have made sure I was up. HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?

My better half says, “Your appointment was on Thursday?”

I say “Yes! At 10:00AM!”

He looks at me and then says, “It’s 10:30PM.  It’s NIGHT TIME.  Go back to bed.”

I look at him.

I look at how BRIGHT it is in our bedroom.

I don’t believe him.

All the clocks (three of them) say 10:30.

He tells me again, “It’s 10:30 at NIGHT.”

Doubting him still, I go out to the living room and look out the window.

Well hell.  He’s right. It’s night time.

You see, we recently purchased a Himalayan Salt Lamp for the bedroom as several people have told us how wonderful they are for helping with various issues such as migraine headaches. They’re also, when they don’t have a dimmer switch, VERY BRIGHT.

Damn Himalayan Salt Lamp. Case Three

Last night, again, I woke up in a panic.

I thought our bedroom was on fire.

Nope, just the damn lamp.