Friday, April 30, 2010


My offer has been accepted. My realtor, Fred, says we'll be closed by May 21. This is great timing because my current lease is up at the end of May and I'll be house sitting until July 12th. Although I'd love to move right in, it'll give me time to do some of the bigger improvements while living in comfort.
I want to skip straight to the pretty stuff like painting and carpet but some other things have to come first. Also, my bank account really needs time to recover from the $5,000 down payment.

I'm buying a house in Alaska. Holy Hell. Well, at least I'll have lots of blog material.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Never Say Goodbye

Turns out there's a private lender who often works with the real estate company on properties that aren't financeable. He buys the place outright and then I buy it back from him at an interest rate slightly higher than I'd get from a traditional loan, all through the bank of course. He has already started the process of buying the property from my dead predecessor's estate and I signed papers tonight to then re-buy it. After getting a lot of advice, I did a few things first:

1. Checked with the county assessors office for the actual value of the property.
2. Made sure the title to the property is clear.
3. Checked that the family selling their dead uncle's property is all in agreement on the sale
4. Had an addendum added to the contract that the seller is responsible for making sure all utilities are functional before I take over. (If the pipes burst when the water goes back on or the well is bad, I'd be SOL)
5. Got $500 knocked off the sale price. Made sure the $500 "earnest money" deposit on the deal is fully refundable if it doesn't work out.
6. Made sure the paperwork will be in place by midnight tomorrow to still receive the 10% tax credit (Thank you, Obama! I don't care what my brother, uncle, or dad say about you).

There's still the chance the deal may not go through and there's still the chance that I'm making a horrible mistake but let's look at the positives, shall we.

1. My monthly payment will be less than half the rent for my current tiny apt.
2. The tax refund means I'll be getting almost my entire down payment back.
3. I can legitimately claim Alaska as my permanent tax address on future travel assignments and there's no income tax here.
4. The property is unzoned so no building permits required.
5. Public access to a big float plane lake across the road with good fishing (I'm told).
6. The property is assessed at a value much higher than what I'll pay for it.

I may be making a crazy move, but at least I made a list! Next move, call my handyman uncle and get some rough figures on the "vision".

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The American Dream

The shock of moving to Alaska comes from more than the wind chill. A "lower 48er" definitely needs time to get used to the building aesthetic up here. Many homes were built piece by piece by their occupants, Tyvek is a decorating statement and the main area is often an old single wide. Lots of people are living in dry cabins which means an outhouse with showers at the laundry mat. Some, hell a lot, of these places aren't even accessible by car most of the year. I've seen those listed as "drive, park and ride" because you drive to the nearest road, park your truck and ride your snowmobile in.
After a few months, you get used to it and begin to admire the do it yourself ingenuity of this population. And besides, my American Dream has never included 2.5 kids and a house that impresses the neighbors but one I can't pay for. So when I stumbled upon a cabin off a maintained road sitting on 1.64 acres with septic, gas, electric and phone already in place and a block from a huge lake for a hell of a price, I decided to go for it. With my very supportive friend and would-be "neighbor" (3 miles is a stones throw up here) behind me of course. I met with the realtor and began dreaming of bamboo flooring, recycled glass countertops and bathroom, a chicken coop and a small green house. How freakin' cool would that be?! Plus, I'm telling you, the price is Uh May Zing. I know it would be a bigger headache than I expected and I know there would be lots of time spent in tears but I think the payoff, even at the short time I expect to stay here, would be unbelievable. All this dreaming and scheming has taken up a lot of brain space over the last few days but today I met with the mortgage lender and he basically pissed on my parade. Turns out the property doesn't qualify for traditional financing and my only other option is one that includes a 40% down payment. Even with a kick ass job and no leeches (aka kids) roaming around, I'm sad to report that I don't have $15,000 sitting under my mattress. Now if you're smart, you're doing the math and realizing that this property is cheaper than most assholes in Southern CA spend on their cars. Chances are slim to none it could still work out but, the life lesson that I never seem to learn is: "Don't get your hopes up."
So. looks like my Alaskan/American dream is not yet going to materialize and I am sorely disappointed but I guess there's always tomorrow. Someday, I'll post pictures of some Alaskan chateaus and show you what I mean about the particular style up here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bona Fide

Redneck, that is.

I spent my Friday night shooting guns, timing friends shooting guns, learning the Bitch Slap 'n Shoot maneuver and having a beer at a smokey sports bar. All total awesomeness, I assure you.
But, sometimes even a "tomboy" really would like to be a woman. And treated like one. When does the dressing up and smelling nice commence around here? So far the definition of dressing up seems to be a shower and your cleanest polar fleece. Most days that's fine with me but tomorrow, I think I'll wear a skirt.

Update: I did not wear a skirt. I sat at home all day watching HGTV. Why? you ask? New post to follow. And don't worry, I really haven't gone all right wing redneck on you. Still the same ol' Dumborah and I really don't even eat much meat but I do believe in hunting for food and shooting for self protection. I present and close my case. Do not follow these links if you just ate or have a weak stomach.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

First Comes WalMart

Then comes the gun rally!

The preschool teachers I work with are caring souls. They try to make sure I'll actually stay another year by warning me of things that could ruin my morale if I wasn't aware, like "Deb, you know it's gonna snow in April, right?" and "Deb, you know you'll get mauled by a bear if you go hiking alone, right?"
So then they found this tacked up on the wall at our public school and immediately thought of me:

"Deb, you know no one here will keep the ammo out of the chamber, right?" Actually there were a lot of husband jokes but I don't want to feed that madness. If I hear "the odds are good but the goods are odd" bit one more time, I"m going to barf up my moose burger.

You thought gun rally info posted at a public school was weird? How about a high school field trip to go moose hunting and cafeteria ladies who make the moose into burgers for the whole school? I don't think you can even bring homemade cupcakes for your kids birthday in California anymore.
I'd rather eat a bowl of mayonnaise than tell those sweet ladies that my burger was way too well done but I'm sure I'll get another crack at one soon.
By the way, the damn cold kept me from the gun rally. Now I'll never find my man.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Sickness

I do have a post rattling around in here. It's about moose meat and gun rallies and subsistence fishing but I'm beat. I feel a cold coming on and I ain't got no sugar daddy to support sick days so it's off to bed with me.
Just where in the hell do the weekends go anyway? By the way, 52 degrees today and some blue skies. Light until 10 which could explain why sleeping is getting harder. The surefire Crazy Clan Cold Remedy should help. A little tea, a little lemon, add some Irish whiskey and good night.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Come Baaaaaack!

It's April. Where is the damn sun already? I heard we're going to get three inches of snow tonight but I'm still getting my snow tires off tomorrow. It's not going to last and summer is coming, I know it!

Confession: I LOVE water aerobics. What am I? A 70 year old woman?
Excitement: Tonight is the beginning of the new season of Deadliest Catch!
Slacker: My recruiter finally got my new contract to me. Which means.....
Announcement: As if you didn't know, I'm going for round two. One more year in the last frontier.

Time to stake a claim?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fishing with Bears

So I'm taking a fly fishing class at the local JC taught by Dave Atcheson, author of "Fishing Alaska's Kenai Peninsula." The latest article he gave us, entitled "Fishing With Bears" from the Fish Alaska Magazine, says he's a contributing editor. More on bears later.
So far I've learned about what weight pole to use for what fish, how to tie a lead line, how to approach a river and we're beginning to perfect our casting techniques. Dave says I'm a bit "wristy" so I gotta practice a tighter arm. It's all in the elbow, apparently. I've also learned I kick ass at tieing (is that a word? How did I ever become an SLP?) knots. I've got the Blood, Surgeon, Palomar and Clinch knots down. Just need to practice now and then as we all know how my memory works. Or doesn't.
My classmates are all nice, easy going gents plus one other female and a gaysian who's so cheerfully out of place that he absolves any need I might have to be self conscious. I love it when that happens.
So about the bears. Had a terrifying conversation today. Since we've finally hit Spring, they're out and about. Co-workers and friends who know I want to hike and are trying to make sure I'm "Bear Aware" decided to share a few stories of friends that have been mauled. "She had to hike to the road with her scalp hanging, dripping blood." is one statement that'll stick with me. WTF? They say unless you're extremely comfortable with a gun, don't even bother but a 12 gauge is supposedly the best defense. Although I've handled guns, I'm sure as hell no expert. I'm just not sure that the "make yourself big" thing and the bear mace and air horn is enough.
My new boss has been here 2 summers and has seen 54 bears while on weekend river rafting trips. My new friend has been here 18 years and has seen four. I'm hoping I have his luck.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

A 5.5 mile Saturday beach walk. Collected some agates, got some exercise, slid a little ways down a bluff, almost got attacked by a junk yard dog at the top of the bluff and found a brand new Land's End down vest. A very good day in all.
See the point way off in the distance? That's where we started. Now turn around.

See the point waaaaaaaaaay off in the distance? That's where we stopped.

Suspended in space. Sea? Sky? Without the beach you'd never know.

Redoubt Volcano, putting up a little steam

Where's my kayak? I feel the need to buy one, stat.

Brochure shot.

A juvenile eagle. You can tell by the coloring, no bright white "bald" spot.

Bluff erosion. The reason our stairs weren't easily accessible and why I almost broke something trying to climb up to them. Wish I had a shot of that awkwardness.

Thelma and Louise, interrupted.

Junk car waterfall. Typical Alaska, abandoned junk in otherwise beautiful places.

And the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Kenai Rivertinis are the color of the river and the glass is lined with fish eggs. Add some pickled eggs and crackers and you're in business.

I hope your weekend was as enjoyable as mine. Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Guest Author

Here's a post I stole from my sister's blog. Happy April.

I've never been a fan of April Fool's Day. Who wants to be fooled? Not me. So, last year when Meg from Pigtown Design suggested updating this holiday to be one aimed in a positive direction, April Food Day, I was more than happy to participate.

This is a topic that is near and dear to me. As a child, my father died when I was very young leaving my mother with 4 small children and no income. For a long time, boxes of food were simply left on our porch. My third grade teacher baked us cakes and cooked us casseroles regularly. We were taken care of by others when we were not able to do it for ourselves and so today, I try to return that favor by offering the same for others. Now, many days, life just goes
and I am so wrapped up in what is going on in my own household, that I forget to look beyond. April Food Day gives me the gentle reminder to do good.

While hunger is an ongoing social issue, it is one that we can affect positively. Today, I encourage you to make a donation large or small to Feeding America in the US (using this link), or to your local food bank if you are visiting from another country. Many people are going without especially with the state of our economy and it's no joking matter.

Wally World

It is now light for more than 13 hours a day. Goodbye headlights, hello pavement! It's so weird to finally see the real ground again and also to realize how much ice was covering everything.

Not much has happened. The biggest news is Wal-Mart. Woo. Just got a new one here and it's open 24 hours. I hate Wal-Mart with a passion but when it's the only option, you can't help but get a tiny bit excited. Went on opening day and was overstimulated and ready to freak out in about 10 minutes. I have a tendency towards low-grade panic attacks when I spend too much time in any location where the shallow gene pool fishies swim. Or lumber for that matter. Why are all the mouth breathers fat as hell? You'd think the SSI checks wouldn't cover the grocery bill.

Anyhow, it's a sad day when Wal-Mart becomes your entertainment. Also reminds me that I want to try a little experiment. I don't want to buy anything made in China for 3 months. Think it's possible?

More exciting than Wal-Mart is the way my summer is shaping up. The hospital is paying a ridiculous hourly rate and only wants a part time committment. Now that is my kind of relationship. I also got a house sitting gig for six weeks at a home on the river with a spa, a greenhouse and a bbq. Suh-weet! Did I mention the doggies? Two well trained black labs, trained hunters. They are so freakin' cute it's unbelievable. Just don't know that I'll be able to give them back.