Sunday, December 28, 2008

USA Todak

I ate lunch at Chilis yesterday alone and entertained myself by reading through a copy of USA Today that was laying nearby.

There was an article about landmark presidential eras, mentioning several important and historic dates.

One paragraph referred to 1961 and the "Bag of Pigs."

I'm shocked that I couldn't find anything else on the vast interwebs about this typo.

It caused me to nearly shoot Arnold Palmer from my nose as I snorted loudly and other restaurant patrons looked at me in wonder.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Frustrating Friday

I have come to accept the fact that we will most likely never see the money from the former landlord without taking legal action.

Today I got a call from Fed Ex. I had sent my 2nd letter to the landlord's GA address and apparently they are wintering in the Keys so the letter was not delivered.

And here I've been PRAYING SO HARD all week that they would get the letter and just do the right thing: hop on over to pick up a cashiers check and send it back to me with a smile.


I am not expecting this money. But we need it.

To cheer myself up I made cookies.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

99 Experiences

I generally don't do Memes, but this one was very interesting to me so I decided to hop on board. I got it from A Little Off Kilter.

The items in bold are things I've done. The items not bolded, I haven't.

1. Started your own blog (April 4th, 2006 for BT, and also started Warmskunk and Gonnaeatthat this year)
2. Slept under the stars (MANY times. I was in a group called Pathfinders as a kid and we camped a lot.)
3. Played in a band (Three Days Waking, The Swing Sisters, Ella Mental)
4. Visited Hawaii (Maui in 2003.)
5. Watched a meteor shower (Maybe once, in high school I think.)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity (Recently even a dollar is more than I can afford, so yes.)
7. Been to Disneyland/world (Yes. Love them both!)
8. Climbed a mountain (Back-packed around Mt. Hood when I was 11 or 12 with my Pathfinder club.)
9. Held a praying mantis (Yep)
10. Sang a solo (Lots. Some of the fun ones: the part of Josephine in “HMS Pinafore”, one of the Three Little Maids in “The Mikado”, some great ones at church and fabulous Swing Sisters tunes.)
11. Bungee jumped (Not yet.)
12. Visited Paris (Not yet.)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (Quilting, embroidery, painting with acrylics, scrapbooking.)
15. Adopted a child (No, but it’s not out of the question! We’ve actually started the research...)
16. Had food poisoning. (Yes. And I can never eat egg salad again.)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (No. Still haven’t been to New York. We drove past it going from Boston to DC but it was foggy that day and couldn’t see the city at all.)
18. Grown your own vegetables (Oh yes! Lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, herbs.)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (Haven’t been to Europe at ALL!)
20. Slept on an overnight train (Nope)
21. Had a pillow fight (a few)
22. Hitch-hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (Back in the day when I let my significant other affect my life too much, yes. But that was over five years ago.)
24. Built a snow fort (YES! At Big Lake in the winter on a Pathfinder trip.)
25. Held a lamb (No, but I’ve petted a baby camel...)
26. Gone skinny dipping (lots as a kid.)
27. Run a marathon (Ick. No.)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (Sunsets, many. Sunrise, only a few.)
31. Hit a home run (does this really count if you were playing kickball with kids while on staff at a daycamp?)
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (July of 2000 when I was in Toronto with the OAMC.)
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.
35. Seen an Amish community (Only on TV.)
36. Taught yourself a new language (VERY basic Spanish, while living in Key West. I’m trying to keep up the learning curve…)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (Enough is being able to pay bills, eat out once in awhile and take care of other people that need help.)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing (On a couple of rock walls and some REAL rocks once or twice.)
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David.
41. Sung karaoke (My go-to song is “Piano Man”.)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (Many times. The Oregon coast is BEAUTIFUL in moonlight!)
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing (With my ex-husband and his family just off the mouth of the Columbia River. It was my first and only time fishing and I caught the biggest fish of the day!)
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (Snorkeling on my trip to Maui.)
52. Kissed in the rain (I’m from the Northwest. This is kind of a given.)
53. Played in the mud (Oh yes and I love it!)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class (Taekwondo self defense class in 8th grade.)
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (No, but we did can-collecting in Pathfinders...)
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (Several times.)
65. Gone sky diving (Probably never will. I’ll stick to bragging that my grandfather did on his 70th birthday.)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.
67. Bounced a check (a couple of times.)
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (I have several of them still – one is Tuxedo, the first penguin in my collection.)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (I think I saw it when we were there...)
71. Eaten Caviar (NO THANK YOU.)
72. Pieced a quilt (Two or three.)
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades (Driven past parts of them many times going from Key West to Miami and back.)
75. Been fired from a job (Twice.)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London.
77. Broken a bone (My left forearm had a greenstick fracture in 4th grade, and I’ve broken several toes.)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (Been ON a motorcycle, but Uncle Murray went at an appropriate pace around the campground.)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car (1999 Honda Civic EX in November of ’98. I leased it. BAD IDEA TO LEASE. Loved the car so much that years later I bought another of the exact model.)
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (Twice. In 2nd grade a 1st grader threw a birthday party at the OSF in Portland and we all dressed in our parents fancy clothes. There was a reporter on hand and my feet in my mom’s heels made it into the paper. I was “Citizen of the Day” in the Key West Citizen about two weeks before we moved away.)
85. Read the entire Bible (The WHOLE thing only once. Bits and parts, many times.)
86. Visited the White House (Free tour. I believe I was 10 at the time and really annoyed when I found out I wouldn’t be seeing the oval office.)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox (Twice. When I was three and when I was six.)
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury (Once but managed to get myself excused. The defense attorney treated the entire jury and courtroom like we were idiots and I felt I wouldn’t give his client a fair trial because of it.)
91. Met someone famous (Michael W. Smith, Rebecca St. James, Audio Adrenaline.)
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one (Great-Grandparents, and one of my best friends in 2003.)
94. Had a baby (Not yet, still trying!)
95. Seen the Alamo in person (I’m assuming that renting a car from Alamo doesn’t count...)
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit. (Not yet but I may have to.)
98. Owned a cell phone (Many phones, but still the same and only number!)
99. Been stung by a bee (I stepped on one and it stung my foot, sat on one and it stung my bum, swallowed one after it stung me in the roof of my mouth, been stung in the ear.)

Monday, December 15, 2008


It's been a tough week and it's just begun!

I worked nine hours tonight and will work another nine tomorrow starting at 9am. I should be going to bed but need to unwind first.

We haven't heard anything yet from the FL landlord, and I haven't had a response from the former renter either, but I Carrie is going to be in the area where he works for a few weeks, so she and an attorney friend are going to see if they can help me at all.

In the meantime we'll have a meager Christmas, all our presents are pretty much home-made. Fortunately our friends and family are exactly that: people that love us and understand our situation.

Friday, December 12, 2008

All Caught Up

I do sincerely apologize to my mass legion of adoring fans.

I've been actually WORKING this week - lots of hours at Pier One and striving to impress the right people there in the hopes of at least becoming a full-time employee.

Our house is a wreck, although it's a lovely Christmas wreck... Here's some shots from LAST Friday when I put up the tree and hung the stockings...

And I must put forth an apology. I didn't intend to make Carrie T. look like a crazy vacuuming freak show... even if she is one! She just "really appreciates a clean floor." Having animals, I suppose I have become somewhat immune to layers of fur beneath my socks.

Carrie, you are welcome to vacuum at my house any time you want! I promise to do it myself during the three weeks you are gone...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Girls' Weekend

I'm spending the weekend in Aiken, SC with Carrie. We're doing Christmassy things and being lazy.

I didn't have to work Friday, today OR tomorrow, so Carrie came over around 3pm yesterday and we trekked to Home Depot to pick up a Christmas Tree.

On the west coast I'm used to getting a Noble Fir for Christmas, having been brought up on the sparse look. Here in the east the closest thing I can really get without sacrificing an appendage and going on a wild goose chase is a Fraiser Fir.

The first year in Key West we got a small potted palm tree and decorated it for Christmas. Last year Steph helped me get a Fraiser at Home Depot.

I managed to get about a six-foot tree for $20 and got it home in the back of Carrie's Subaru. It took about two hours but I got the whole thing decorated and the living room cleaned up and the stockings hung up.

Carrie vacuumed (she has an odd obsession with vacuuming floors) and we took off back to Amy's house.

We watched Mixed Nuts and ate leftover mac n cheese, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Today we slept in and then went into "town" to hit the Hobby Lobby and a few other stops. We plan to spend the afternoon knitting and watching White Christmas.

Scott asked "Are you mad at me?" when I told him I was going to stay here tonight as well. I assured him that I'm not trying to get away from him, just spending some time with a good friend before she leaves for Washington for three weeks.

Friday, December 05, 2008

2nd Attempt

We are not going to cash the check. It is now evidence in what may have to be a small claims court case.

I composed the following to send back to him... (this is just the important parts....)

December 4, 2008

We received your response letter and check in the amount of $1,305.36 today.

We are acknowledging receipt of your check but will not be cashing it for several reasons.

1) It is a personal check, and we specifically requested a cashiers check or deposit directly into our account.

2) The check was not signed. As I’m sure you are aware, this makes it impossible to deposit or cash. (see attached picture of check to verify that there is NO SIGNATURE)

We are taking this as an intent to draw out these proceedings further.

As I mentioned in my previous communication with you, Florida Landlord Tenant Law Section 83.46(2), F. S., states

“…the landlord must either return your deposit within 15 days of termination of the rental agreement, if the landlord does not intend to impose a claim upon the security deposit; or justify in writing by certified mail, to the tenant's last known mailing address within 30-days upon termination of a rental agreement, as to why they are keeping a portion of or all of the deposit. If the notice is not sent as required within the 30-day period, the landlord forfeits his/her right to impose a claim upon the deposit…”

You referenced a telephone conversation made on October 25th, at which time you were in Colorado, still within the United States of America. The only assumption we made from this conversation was that we would be receiving funds in good time. We asked if you had our address and you verified such. You did not imply that we would have to wait until you returned to the country to solve this problem.

As to the claims you made in your response letter, please again note the LAW of FLORIDA which states you must make your claim in writing within thirty days of termination of the lease. That would have been by November 18th, 2008.

YOUR CLAIM TO THESE FUNDS is FORFEITED by your delay in submitting your claim.

Also stated in Florida Landlord Tenant Law Section 83.53(2 & 3), F.S.:

“…(2) The landlord may enter the dwelling unit at any time for the protection or preservation of the premises. The landlord may enter the dwelling unit upon reasonable notice to the tenant and at a reasonable time for the purpose of repair of the premises. "Reasonable notice" for the purpose of repair is notice given at least 12 hours prior to the entry, and reasonable time for the purpose of repair shall be between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m….

(3) The landlord shall not abuse the right of access nor use it to harass the tenant.

(landlord's brother)’s visit to the premises was not lawful, as he is not the landlord of the property under any written agreement or notification AND we received no notice of his visit. Furthermore, his “inspection” of the A/C filter and its state cannot be proved. We cleaned the filter monthly, AND cleaned it again before we departed the premises.

Furthermore, your claim of $619.32 for “lost rent from October 20, 2008 to October 31, 2008” is not legitimate. We turned the keys over to the new tenant on Saturday afternoon, October 18, 2008. It is not our responsibility when the new lease began or when they chose to move in. You asked us to surrender the keys to the new tenants.

I do not believe there is any agreement within our lease that stated that we would pay advertising fees upon vacating the property, therefore we also deny your claim for $52.00.

We have the final bills for water, sewer and garbage and have been intending to pay them with the funds we were expecting back from you. If you wish to deduct the $123.32 we WILL accept that deduction.

Any issues with your A/C unit are not our responsibility, as we cleaned the air filters faithfully. Furthermore, I believe that your house has a mold problem, as evidenced by the fact that I developed a fungal infection ON MY FACE within about a week of moving into the property and even after a doctor visit, steroids and anti-fungal remedies it did not clear up until vacating the property. At no time did I request compensation for these medical fees or time lost due to the fact that I could not work some days because upon awaking my eyes were SWOLLEN SHUT.

Per Florida statue 83.51 section 1, a:

…Comply with the requirements of applicable building, housing, and health codes…”

And section 2,a,1:

…Unless otherwise agreed in writing, in addition to the requirements of subsection (1), the landlord of a dwelling unit other than a single-family home or duplex shall, at all times during the tenancy, make reasonable provisions for:

1. The extermination of rats, mice, roaches, ants, wood-destroying organisms, and bedbugs. When vacation of the premises is required for such extermination, the landlord shall not be liable for damages but shall abate the rent. The tenant shall be required to temporarily vacate the premises for a period of time not to exceed 4 days, on 7 days' written notice, if necessary, for extermination pursuant to this subparagraph.

2. Locks and keys.

3. The clean and safe condition of common areas.

4. Garbage removal and outside receptacles therefor.

5. Functioning facilities for heat during winter, running water, and hot water. …”

This type of issue is an EPA and health code violation and I have no qualms about adding it to our suit should it become relevant.

I am again requesting payment. Please do not take this request lightly. You have FORFEITED your claim to our money by not serving your claim IN WRITING by November 18, 2008.

Once a cashiers check or deposit is received, we will return your unsigned check to you. In the meantime we are holding it as evidence in what will end up being a small claims court case if this is not resolved immediately.

...And I cc'd the attorney I spoke to yesterday at the bottom. I really don't want to have to go to small claims court, the court fee would be $300 and it would cost us money to travel to Key West to GO to court. But if we have to, we have to.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Anyone Know a Good Lawyer?

Sometimes things get worse before they can get better...

I sent a letter out to the former landlord last week via certified USPS. Following is the majority of that letter:

This letter is to formally request the immediate refund of our security deposit in the amount of $1,000.00 (one-thousand dollars) and the final month’s rent in the amount of $1,600.00 (one-thousand, six-hundred dollars).

Under the Florida Landlord Tenant Law Section 83.46(2), F. S.,

“…the landlord must either return your deposit within 15 days of termination of the rental agreement, if the landlord does not intend to impose a claim upon the security deposit; or justify in writing by certified mail, to the tenant's last known mailing address within 30-days upon termination of a rental agreement, as to why they are keeping a portion of or all of the deposit. If the notice is not sent as required within the 30-day period, the landlord forfeits his/her right to impose a claim upon the deposit…”

At the time that we notified (landlord) of our intent to move from the premises, we were informed via a telephone conversation with (landlord) that a new renter would need to be found to take over the remainder of the lease in order for us to receive a refund of our final month’s rent (deposited at the time we moved in to the premises). A new tenant was found shortly and we complied with multiple visits and phone calls from said incoming renters to facilitate their moving in to the premises immediately upon our vacation of the premises.

(landlord's wife) made reference to some cleaning reportedly done by the incoming tenants upon move-in. We spent the entirety of the day on Saturday, October 19th cleaning the premises, which in fact was why we did not vacate until 7pm. All floors were swept and mopped. The bathroom and kitchen were scrubbed and walls and windowsills were wiped down. Earlier that day we handed over the keys to the incoming tenants. Said incoming tenants asked us to leave the rear entry to the premises unlocked when we left and we complied with this request.

To our understanding, the accusation of necessary cleaning is based completely on claims made by the incoming tenants, who provided no proof of said issue, and not verified by any legal landlord or landlord’s representative.

As we vacated the premises at 7pm on Saturday, October 18th, 30 (thirty) days have passed and we have not received either funds representing the security deposit and final month’s rent or a written notification of intent to impose a claim on said funds. (landlord) was informed via a telephone conversation during the week of October 20-24, 2008 that the premises had been vacated and also of our forwarding address. We were assured that funds would be forthcoming. We therefore require funds in the amount of $2,600.00 (Two-thousand, six-hundred dollars) deposited into our account immediately (see information at the end of this letter) or a cashiers check sent by priority mail to our forwarding address (see below).

Delay in this matter has caused us extreme financial hardship and therefore if we do not hear a response from you by November 28th, 2008, we will turn this matter over to our attorney and be requesting interest in addition to the funds requested above.

We got a response in the mail today. It was two pages of claims as to why he is keeping $1,300 of the funds, about 80% of which are totally unfounded and complete bull. Some of the reasons aren't even things that I think are lawful. He claims that we owe "lost rent" from the time we moved out to November 1st because that is when the new tenants moved in. The new tenants accepted the keys from us THE DAY WE LEFT. In my world this means taking over the property. I don't care WHEN they moved in their stuff, they were responsible for the house once they had the keys.

Also in the letter was a check for the other $1,300. A PERSONAL check, UNSIGNED.

I am having some pretty severe anger issues today.

It's Official!

My background check at Pier One came through and as of this coming Sunday I will be a "Sales Leader" and get a raise!

When I got home today there was a USPS notice in the mailbox that we have a certified letter from the Key West landlord. We're praying that it is a check and not just a nasty letter telling us we can't have our money back.

It's been a long and emotional week. More on the emotional bit once I can look back at it in a more constructive manner, right now I'm going to finish the little bit of Marmite that's on my fork and go to bed.

(If you're wondering, I ate it off the fork because we're out of bread.)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Movin' On Up

I was initially hired on at Pier One as a seasonal "limited" time employee - meaning that I'm not supposed to work more than 20 hours a week.

When I spoke to my Manager on the phone before my interview she said that she was only hiring for temporary seasonal employees but that it didn't mean I couldn't stay on after the holidays. I told her that I "fully intend to kick ass" which she liked.

I have worked five or six shifts in the last ten days and a couple of days ago the regional manager was in the store to check things out. Apparently I made a good impression on her and she and my direct manager both are interested in training me to be a sales leader and in charge of the logistics of unloading the truck deliveries. They also have given me more than 20 hours this week, one shift is part of a display/visuals seminar tonight from 6pm to midnight.

I am REALLY excited about this, for several reasons. As the GM at the pet store I feel like the things I excelled at most were cleaning up the displays and general appearance of the store - in an organized way AND organizing projects.

Logistics, organization and visual style are things I am pretty natural at, so it's actually fun for me to "have to" reorganize an entire display.

Our Pier One store apparently was pretty disorganized before my manager arrived and she has been having to clean up in many ways. It's exciting and fun for me to be in on this level of turning things around. I feel like I always do better in a situation where there is a goal and a significant amount of pressure to succeed.

All of this can only benefit me in our dream to eventually own and run our own pet store.

As for working during the holiday season? I love it. The one exception is that the muzak loop at the store has what I believe is a Miley Cyrus rendition of "Holly Jolly Christmas", and it's HORRENDOUS.