Monday, January 31, 2011

Memorial for Stan

The memorial was held on Saturday over at the Grouse Ridge Shooting Range. It was very well attended, with a full house and lots of food. People came from all over: Palmer, Wasilla, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Oregon. I did notice, however, that just my family alone accounted for at least 5 tables full.

Anyway, it was good. There was a slide show of various pictures we’ve gathered of Stan and his family. People spontaneously stood up and talked, recounting their favorite stories of Stan. I read an email sent to us by my uncle from Oregon. There was even a 21-gun salute out back.

He will definitely be missed by a lot of people.

Rob and I have been working at the farm, helping Mother get it ready for its new owner. We spent a good 3 days last weekend hauling boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff out to various trucks – and still have more to go.

The entire contents of Stan’s gun room has been relocated to Rob’s garage so we can go thru it and organize things enough to start selling things. The guns have gone to my older brother’s house to do the same. Quite a bit of the outdoor equipment has gone to my little brother’s house till they can be dealt with, later on.

Probate on the will starts this week, but we don’t expect any major bumps there. It’s fairly straight forward, with no surprises or anything to cause undo distress.

The hardest part has been trying to wrap our brains around the fact that he really did die. It has put a lot of stress on the family and things have been said that are now being regretted. I am hopeful that we can overcome this eventually, but am also very disappointed. I really thought my family would never do this – but perhaps that was asking too much.

I know firsthand that the body can only take so much. I was hit with a cold – just the common cold – but man, it wiped me out. I started feeling the effects on Tuesday, went home early from work on Wednesday, and by Thursday I was begging people to put me out of my misery. My head hurt, my nose was clogged, I was sneezing every three minutes, my body ached, my throat was sore. Thankfully it left just as soon as it arrived so that by Saturday I could attend the memorial and look somewhat human.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What I Know So Far

For those of you who didn’t know him, Stan was the man who lived with my mother for maybe 20 years. They never married, so he’s not officially my stepfather – but he is the only Grandpa most of my nieces and nephews ever knew.

He passed away sometime this past weekend, either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

Since it was what they call an “unattended death” the police are treating it as a homicide, even though they really don’t consider it to be one. They just have to treat it as such until they can prove otherwise.

All we know is that at some point he went outside. He wasn’t dressed to go anywhere, so we can assume he planned on going right back inside after doing whatever he had planned on doing. We think he fell and hit his head. We think he managed to crawl back to the front door, but had unknowingly left his keys back where he fell so was unable to get in. That’s pretty much where he was found, near the front steps.

His neighbor is the one who found him. She had gone over to give him a plate of food, as she has done numerous times in the past. Her husband called my Mother, who called my Brother and then headed over to deal with the police. I’m not sure who called my sister, but she ended up over there as well, along with the pastor of our church and his wife. All of them stayed till the wee hours of the morning till finally they were able to head back home.

The medical examiner took his body back to Anchorage and will conduct an autopsy to determine actual cause of death, but has said that it will take some time – like maybe a week or so. Meanwhile, the police are gathering evidence and putting together their reports.

We are all, slowly but surely, contacting everybody who needs to be contacted – although we’re having no luck getting hold of my cousin up in Fairbanks. I’ve got a few numbers to call to talk to my other cousins down in Montana; maybe they will have better luck reaching him from there.

The house is going to need to be cleaned up, since it is for sale. Rob and I are heading out there on Friday/Saturday to deal with a bunch of stuff. Mother and Stewart have been over there a lot these past few days, and are getting things done bit at a time. Stan’s sister Sonja has come out as well to help organize all of the paperwork that needs to get done.

We don’t know yet when or where the memorial will be held – but I’m fairly certain there will be one. He had a lot of friends who will want to pay their respects.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions:

What exactly caused his death? Was it the bump on his head? Had he broken his hip? Why didn’t he use his cell phone? He knew where the spare key was – why didn’t he use that? What does the flat tire on his truck have to do with anything? How long did he lay there till he was found?

We may never know for sure…

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rest In Peace Stan

Had a horrible shock last night.

I had just gotten home from a nice afternoon spent with the family out in Palmer: good food, good company, good movie on the big screen TV – when I got the call from my brother.

He told me that Stan had fallen, hit his head, and froze to death on the front step at the farm!

I honestly don’t know what to do. I would love to write up a nice posting in his honor, but just can’t seem to focus on anything much at the moment.

For now, this will have to do.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Roommate Situation

Things came to a head the other day between my roommate and I. It wasn’t pretty. I ended up telling her that at the end of our contract I would not be renewing, and if she should happen to want to leave earlier, I would not hold her to the contract.

She emphatically (and rather rudely, I must say) agreed.

I only hope she actually does leave early. I am fully convinced now that I am not meant to live with anybody.

That being said, I actually have a possible replacement already. IF things don’t go the way I want them to with the job situation, and IF my finances don’t pan out, then I MIGHT consider having a friend move in.

Big difference: he’s a guy. I have had several people tell me that guy-girl roommate situations are a lot different, and the troubles are considerably less. Plus, he is a friend: somebody I know and actually get along with.

I’m still not convinced. I so do not want to have a roommate right now that I’m willing to cash out some of my savings in order to pay my mortgage.

We’ll see what happens…

Sunday, January 09, 2011

A Very Good Day

Saturday was a very good day for me. I started the day off with getting Rob ready and out the door on time for his ice fishing trip. The crazy man is spending the weekend out at Lake Louise in ten below weather just to “slay some trout” as he puts it. Oh well, each to his own.

That was 5:00 in the morning, by the way. I went right back to bed and slept till 10:00 after he was gone! But, eventually, I did get out of bed. Even got dressed and everything! It was a day full of getting things done, which always makes me feel good.

First stop of the day was the bank: I had a few checks to be deposited. Sounds like I had oodles of money to put in my account, doesn’t it? Sadly no – although I had multiple checks, the total amount was not that impressive. Still, every bit helps…

After that, I headed over to the Natural Pantry for some shopping. I needed to replenish my vitamin D supply – a very necessary item for all Alaskan’s, particularly during the winter months when the sun spends at best only 4 hours up in the sky. I also needed more iron pills; I am borderline anemic, so am trying to fix that. Anyway, I managed to find all kinds of things I had to have, and was able to spend a good half hour wandering the isles.

I finished just in time to head down the hallway to where they were handing out free timers for engine block heaters. Rumor has it that January is supposed to be a really cold one this year, although how they know that I don’t know. Regardless, a timer is always a good thing to have on hand, just in case. And hey – they were free! Can’t beat that…

From there I ended up at AMH to get a birthday present/gift card. A certain somebody is going to get a day of ice climbing for his birthday! He already knows about it, so I don’t really know why I’m being so coy here. I’ve rented the crampons, ice ax, and boots for a day – and my little brother Reed has “volunteered” to take him out and show him the ropes. While they are out there doing that, Heather and I will be inside working on crafts and taking it easy with their cats. Not a bad day at all, I’m thinking.

Once I got that taken care of I drove downtown and stopped in at the Allure Day Spa to make an appointment for a massage. I received a gift certificate from my boss at work and will spend it this coming Tuesday (post to follow afterwards).

The spa is right next door to the 5th Avenue Mall, so my next stop was Eddie Bauer’s to spend my membership rewards. I went thru their sales rack and found the prettiest shirt with embroidery down the front; unfortunately the tag had been cut off so the check-out clerk couldn’t ring it up for me. I ended up having to pick a different shirt out – and honestly, I think I like this new one better, so I’m quite happy with the results.

A brief stop at the food court for a bite of lunch while reading my book (The Last Animals At The Zoo, by Colin Tudge) and I was back home again. Not an hour later, however, and my buddy Noah was knocking at my door. We took off to the theatre to watch “Tron” in 3D no less! He’s a computer geek so was really stoked about seeing this movie. It was good – but now I have to rent the old one, to refresh my memory of the beginning of that story!

Yup, it was a very good day.

The Latest News

Once again, I’m catching up via one big general post, rather than try to go back and hit all the highlights separately. Hopefully, no body minds too much. I really am going to try to post more often this year, but call it more of a goal than a resolution. That whole “New Year’s Resolution” thing never seems to work much for me. I do better with goals. So, to commence:

Christmas Eve

Rob and I delivered gifts that day. We started out at Stan’s house where we got to sit and drink our first cup of tea/coffee and chat for an hour. After that, we went to Mother’s house and got to eat a bite of lunch. We exchanged sacks full of stuff (there’s always “stuff” involved when I go to Mother’s house) then headed on into Palmer to stop in at Noel’s shop. She was quite busy, as expected – but we unexpectedly ran in to Kelly there, too. That changed our plans a wee bit, since we had planned on going to her house next. Instead, we headed out to Reed & Heather’s house and chatted with them for an hour or so. Then we doubled back and went up the mountain to Kelly’s place. I really wanted Rob to see her house, since it’s something like what he wants to have himself one day. We got the tour of all the renovations that Danny has been working on, and even got to meet Hank, the Cow Dog (he is ONE HUGE DOG!). We had planned on going to Stewart’s house next, but he showed up at Kelly’s house while we were there so we just extended our stay up there and got to chat with everybody. It was a very good day, albeit very long, and Rob finally got to meet all of my siblings.

Christmas Day

I headed back out to Palmer for Christmas morning with Noel and her family. I missed the opening of gifts, but was able to catch them all basking in the afterglow. I barely had time to walk into the living room before Lauren rushed over to show me her prize: a brand new iPad! She was beyond excited, and had to show me all the cool things it can do. She then spent the rest of the day setting up all her accounts and loading all sorts of programs onto it (like the Kindle ap, a few games, and her and Netflix account information). Katy was all excited about the new tooth brush she got. That sounds a little weird, but it’s one of those sonic tooth brushes and one that she really wanted. My prize for the day was the Victoria Secret Underwear that Katy got me! I’m really quite excited about them: they’re a size M, as opposed to the XL I had been wearing last year. I also got my all-time favorite tea from Lauren, Market Spice from the fish market in Seattle. And just in time, too: my stash had just run out that morning. Lunch with almost a formal affair, with a table full of really good food (Noel is an awesome cook) shared by Noel’s 4, me, Mr. & Mrs. Guinotte, and Stan. It was a very good day.

New Year’s Eve/Day

I fully expected my New Year’s celebration to be pretty much a repeat of all my past New Year’s celebrations: just me and the girls watching the fireworks out my library window while watching an old sci-fi movie on the DVD – but Rob surprised me by coming over to join me. I didn’t expect that, but was certainly happy to have him with me. We had thought to go downtown to watch the fireworks first-hand, but it was much nicer in the comfort (and warmth) of my home, my library, and my couch. New Year’s Day was spent doing a little bit of shopping followed by a movie at the Totem ($3.00 every movie, every day, all day) and dinner at the Firetap. Not earth shattering or super exciting, but a nice day none the less.

Pet Sitting

My pet sitting “job” has not really taken off like I’d hoped it would. I almost got a huge job taking care of 3 cats for about 5 months – but honestly am glad that fell through as it would have meant having them here at my house the entire time. 5 cats in one house is just way too many cats, even for me. I may end up taking care of one other cat while his humans sell their house and find a new one to buy. It may or may not happen, but if it does I’m sure he will be just fine here. I will have him in a kennel in the library during the day so as to not upset the girls too much.

Card Making

I am finally getting back in to making cards again. I was in a funk there for a while, and had just stopped doing it. I even canceled my kit-of-the-month thing, since there’s no reason to be spending that kind of money on something that isn’t getting used. I have about 6 months worth of kits waiting to be worked on, and lots of supplies for doing them free-hand, so I’m good for a while. I really enjoy doing it, and am so glad I’m getting back in to it. I have actually gone a little overboard, if such a thing is possible: in the last two weeks I’ve probably made 30-40 cards! Some of them are quite good, too – if I do say so myself. Good enough that my friend Katie has suggested that I sell them at the Zoo’s gift shop. I am seriously considering that, but will have to come up with a “line” of Zoo/Alaska related ones.

My Employment Situation

I’m still working part-time at the construction company, and still really enjoy my job. It’s distressing, however, because it just is not enough money to survive for very much longer. There is a job possibility hanging out there with an architectural firm who says they plan to hire somebody “around the first of the year.” The guy in charge keeps telling me that I’m at the top of the list, so I can only hope that this really does happen – and soon! This will mean several things: first, it will bring me back in to the architectural world; second, it will be a full time, year round job; third, it will mean that I can finally get rid of the whole roommate thing; and fourth, I can seriously start planning for my next Earthwatch expedition, and may even be able to consider going in November of 2011. Everybody PLEASE keep your fingers crossed for me!

Refinancing the House

My brother refinanced his house a while back and ended up getting a really low interest rate. This prompted me to try the same trick on my own house; so I gathered up all the paperwork and headed out to the bank to see what they could do. I had originally intended to go with 1st National Bank since it is an Alaskan based one and would keep my money closer to home – but they couldn’t give me anything worth the time, effort, and expense to make it worthwhile. I headed over to Wells Fargo, then, to see if they could come up with anything = and boy, am I glad I did. Apparently, because I am a long-time patron of their establishment, I qualified for what they call “a Fast Track Loan” meaning I was able to refinance my mortgage with no down payment, no closing costs, and no home inspection! Just 5 minutes on the computer with the loan agent, a ton of paperwork in the mail, and bingo – my loan is approved and I’m now at 4.25% and $150 cheaper. The last payment on the old loan was January 9, I have a grace-period in February (meaning no payment at all) and the new loan kicks in in March!

My Girls

Thing and Djuna are doing well. We had a warm spell these last few weeks, so I have been able to turn their electric blanket off and get it cleaned up a bit. They weren’t too happy to give it up despite the rise in temperatures, but they survived. Now that it’s turned cold again I’ve plugged it back in for them, and they are glued to it. Little Djuna gets so hot and sweaty her hair gets even curlier! I can barely get them up sometimes; they are so relaxed on that thing. They just get longer and longer, stretching out to their full lengths, and don’t even lift their heads to look at me when I come in to the room at night.

Rolling the Car

I rolled my car a week ago. That’s not as bad as it sounds: what I mean is that the mileage finally rolled over 100,000 miles. That’s not bad mileage for a car that is over 10 years old, I’m thinking. It’s considerably less than the “10,000 miles a year” average (based on tax and insurance figures) people normally expect. I was heading out to Palmer for Christmas when it happened.