Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Morning Chat - Final Segment

Christmas morning arrived and Bob was beaming as he saw me wearing the Christmas gifts he had given me.  They were beautiful no doubt about it.  But as usual something wasn't right as I thought back on things.

The diamond earrings had arrived at Bob's work address so I wouldn't see them from what I understood. And unless he had access the boxes with the companies information on them, he really did purchase them.  The watch - not so sure....  you know the old saying, "it fell off the back of a truck".  Well there was something not right about the watch. 

About a week or so before Christmas he told me he wanted to go Christmas shopping and he was wondering if I wanted to go to a particular area where there were some stores I liked.  I was agreeable - I was always agreeable when it came to Bob.  So we took a drive over to this area.  Well to understand this you need to get the layout.  In this particular area of town there is a big shopping area with some big stores and a few smaller restaurants on one side of the road and on the other side there is as well but you have to drive up a big hill to get to them so you can't see up there at all. The side with the hill was newer at the time so stores and restaurants were popping up left and right.  I knew most of what was up there, and I knew there were no little stores, just bigger ones and a car dealership.   Well on the day we went over there as we approached he said, "I need to go up here to get your gift, (motioning to the side with the hill), so do you mind if I drop you off over here, (the other side of course), and I'll come back to pick you up in a bit".  Of course I was fine with that, I liked the stores and was happy to browse around.  It wasn't long and Bob was back for me, in fact it was really quick. I just figured Men shop quickly and never gave it another thought.  He did tell me he had gotten me my gift. 

So, looking back, that had to have been the day he got my watch because I received two gifts, and the earrings came from a well known online diamond store.  There was only one problem with it all, there were not then and never have been any jewelry stores up on that hill...  I guess I'll never really know where my Movado came from. I have since had it looked at and it is the real deal.

Ok, back to Christmas day.  We were having a small group of his family over and of course Bob did not want to cook or have me cooking so he had bought a ready to go ham and turkey with all the sides from an upscale catering company.  He also told me he took care of ordering the pies from a popular bakery nearby.  I didn't give it much thought, I figured he was getting more then one pie since we did have about 7 people today and not everyone likes the same thing.

We prepared the table and we had to do a few things with the food, not much, we mostly just hung out, he watched TV and I kept asking myself what I was doing there.  Then out of no where Bob looks at his watch (he had a bunch of his own that were all high dollar), and say's "I'm going to pick up the pies".  I said, "did you want me to go with you".  This was his response, "I didn't ask you to go, so no I'm going alone, don't start being like (his previous girlfriend)".  That's how you knew Bob was up to no good, he became defensive and cold.  He tried to make you feel like you were in the wrong.  I didn't say anything back.  To be honest I was more concerned about leaving and so this was actually good for me, gave me one more reason to leave, I could point out how he was unhappy with my behavior.

Bob left to get the pies.  Now mind you the bakery was within a few blocks.  Bob was gone for almost 2 hours, he did come back home with pies - 7 of them.  Seven pies!  There were only going to be seven of us!  Bob didn't see me catch something else out of the corner of my eye, Bob had also came home with a roll of cash.  Of course I said nothing.

Christmas dinner came and went.  I don't think he enjoyed a minute of it.  That many people in his house at one time made him uncomfortable.  He was so OCD about how the house was kept and looked that he felt out of control with everyone doing their own thing in the house.  We cleaned up and everyone eventually left after we did gift exchanging and chatting for a while.

Bob was very irritable and not being very pleasant at all to be around.  So I said, "I think I'm going to give you some space and go stay at Lisa's tonight".  He didn't like that one bit, which I knew he wouldn't. How dare I be out of his site and at Lisa's especially..  He got angry and said, "you know maybe we need some space, I think you should just stay at Lisa's for a while".  I simply said, "ok".  I grabbed a few things from the bedroom and left the jewelry on his chest of drawers.  I left my key and garage door opener there as well.  He wasn't in the room so he didn't know.  I put what I had in my car and drove to Lisa's.  He never said a word as I left.

Lisa was shocked when I arrived.  Her eyes where huge and all I can remember her saying was "you left him on Christmas?"  It felt so good to be in her condo and in the room I had never used yet.  It felt safe and free.  That was the big part, I felt free.  I had always wondered if camera's were watching me when I was in Bob's home alone.  So many golf balls seemed to be staring at me..  But now once again I could breath.  I still had to get the rest of my things, but that didn't seem to bother me much.

The next day I woke up and gave Bob a little time, I called him and he didn't answer.  I tried several times and finally left a message saying, "look I just want my clothes and belongings, text me, whatever you want to do, just let me know when I can come get them".  Finally he answered the phone and told me I could come over at 1:00.  It was eventless.  I showed up at 1:00, hauled everything to my car while he sat on the couch.  He didn't help, he said nothing the whole time. He showed me what a man he was not. I made a lot of trips to the car and as a man he could have helped me out. 

When I was done I looked in the family room where he was sitting, watching me take trip after trip, and I said "I'm done, so I'll be leaving, I've left the jewelry in your bedroom, take care of yourself".  He jumped up and said, "I want you to take the gifts, I bought them for you".  He was very insistent about it so I took them.  I still have the watch, but I gave the earrings to a friend.

Bob left me alone and I did not hear from him for a very long time. Life went on for me and I enjoyed my time at Lisa's.  I lived there for about a year and a half.  We are best friends, and so it was a 18 months worth of laughs, dating crazy men we met online and sharing the stories, tears, family struggles, work stories (we worked at the same place), getting tattoos together, and a million other great memories we made during that time.  It was fun, but were grown ups that eventually needed to have our own space, so I moved on.  I found an apartment I liked and moved there.  And wouldn't you know it, who looked me up..... Bob 

This is the end of this blog story.  As you all know there is a happy ending eventually because I'm living it now.  I hope you enjoyed hearing about this period of my life.  I do love to write, I always have.  It's been nice to have this platform to do it in.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Chat.... My second escape..

As Bob shared with me the reason why I shouldn't know about everything in life as we lay in bed talking, he also said something that said so much in so many ways.  He reminded me of how he hadn't always had plenty of money.  I knew this about him.

Bob had grown up one of 9 children, all boys.  They had been very poor.  They couldn't afford much for clothes so they were given white undershirts to wear for their shirts, and they of course they ate leftovers whenever there were any.  Bob had taken off as a teen and never looked back.  He had been determined to carve a different life out for himself.  He had gotten his first wife pregnant when they were dating as young adults and so he had married her.  He was a young man with a young family to take care of. 

As we lay there talking he reminded me of this and added, so you know, I had to do things I'm not proud of.  He told me he had to get involved in the drug industry.  He quickly followed up with, I never did any drugs, I was smarter then that, I could see there was plenty of money to be made in the industry so I did that until I got on my feet as an adult, and "of course" I don't do it anymore.  Then I heard, "you don't think any less of me do you".  Of course I said, "no, no, you had to do what you had to do to put food on the table, I get it". He again reiterated how he was no longer involved in the drug industry.

Meanwhile I'm thinking about his current lifestyle.  Bob was still paying the house payment on his ex-wife's house which was a nice place in a very nice neighborhood.  He too lived in the same neighborhood and he was paying for his own house.  Then his youngest was in a very exclusive private Christian Boy's High School, which of course he was paying for.  We ate out every night, oh and btw - Bob never ever at a left over.  He rarely ate a full plate of food, in fact he intentionally didn't eat all his food to watch his weight, but he never took a bite home.  He bought me anything and made sure I wanted for nothing.

Bob also had another tell tale part to his life style. Bob traveled to Miami all the time with his buddies to  play golf.  He played at all the best clubs, if you recall me mentioning how he had the towels framed in shadow boxes in his family room.

He had also started discussing how we were going to handle Christmas dinner.  Now, mind you, the only people coming to Christmas dinner were his two sons, the one son's girlfriend, his grandson, and myself.  A real small group, yet Bob wanted to have Turkey, Ham, sides, and Tippins Pies (very costly pies).  He didn't want me to cook these items either, he wanted to it catered.

As I laid in bed I thought back on my childhood.  I had a step-grandfather that lived across the street from us. He became my step-grandfather when his son married my Mom.  He always had rolls of hundreds on him, money was spent like he needed to get rid of it, and he always went to Miami to see is buddies, and he went by "Eddie", and yes, he was in the mob.  I could tell you stories about my life with him in it that would be a whole knew blog short story.

Basically, as I lay there thinking about it all, I had to admit to myself the truth and that I knew what was up.  I didn't want to believe it, but how could I not?  Yet here I had met a man so different then Fred, I wanted it all to not be true.  I loved my new life style.  Who wouldn't, I mean money grew on trees so it seemed.  Actually, when I was honest with myself, money was something he wanted to have go through is hands quickly.  As much as I enjoyed it all, as I fell asleep I knew I needed to plan escape #2.  I had never asked questions but I knew a lot.

I continued on as if things were normal.  I came home to his house every day from work, went out to eat each night.  Spent time with him and his family when they came around and I helped plan the Christmas dinner.  This dinner was very important to him.  Family was important, and he was falling in love with me, he had told me he loved me many times.  He wanted to spend Christmas with me in his life.  I on the other hand knew the relationship would need to end, so when he expressed his love I had to struggle to say something appropriate in return. I picked my words carefully.  I could tell that frustrated me.  He wanted me to need him more, rely on him more, and love him more.  He wanted me to cut ties with Lisa, but instead I was planning to finally use that new bed I had purchased.

I bought Bob Christmas gifts that were in line with my budget and I also bought gifts for his family.  It was hard, I knew the end was near.  In the mean time I was looking at all the clothes that had made their way to his house.  Leaving was once again going to be a chore.  What was wrong with me...geez.  I must be part gypsy that never wants to see a red flag!

Christmas eve came and Bob wanted to exchange gifts between him and I.  He wanted it to be romantic when no one else was there.  I expected gifts similar to what I had purchased for him, which had been clothing, and a few other things I thought he might enjoy.  The first box he handed me was small.  I thought to myself, omgosh, new sweaters don't fit in boxes like this....  he was beaming with excitement for me to open my gift.  I did, wow, 1/2 carat each diamond earrings!  I wanted to cry for all the reasons he wouldn't have understood.  I immediately said, "Bob, these are too nice, too expensive, I can't accept a gift like this".  He took that as, "what a sweet girl, she's not a gold digger", rather then "she wants the heck out of this relationship and now she feels even more hooked in".  Then I got box #2.  It was small as well, but longer.  I opened it, again Bob was all smiles.  I about fell over, it was a Movado watch with diamonds all around the face.  Really!!!  The gifts were beautiful of course, what girl wouldn't love them.   How do you leave a man like this.  How was I going to leave a man like this.

I gave him his sweater I had bought... he loved it.  The next day was Christmas, and believe it or not, the day that I left.

More next week.....

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Morning Chat - It was getting close to Christmas

What a whirlwind the first week had been.  We were having a lot of fun and Bob really seemed to enjoy my company as much as I enjoyed his.  He introduced me to his friends, took me everywhere because I did one thing really well.  I just smiled a lot and kept my mouth shut. 

The money kept flowing.  As Christmas approached there were gifts to be bought and a Christmas dinner to be planned.  I remember him telling me he needed to get a gift basket from Bath and Body Works for his son's girlfriend.  I just happened to be going there myself so I offered to pick one up for him.  He was very appreciative and said, "get the biggest one they have", "do you think $100 will cover it?"  I told him I did, and he peeled off another $100 for me.  Well the biggest they had at that time cost $50.00 so I brought it home and went to give him his change.  He said, "oh no, I appreciate the favor, you keep it".  I told him "no", but he wouldn't hear of it, so I had a little more walking around money.

I remember once we were going somewhere and he was out of his usual roll of $100's and we had to go by an ATM. He said, "I hate these things, they only give out $20's".   It took all I had not to start giggling at him...

Bob drove a beautiful new SUV, it was a Mountaineer in a pearl white. He told me it belonged to the company.  Well that was interesting too.  Bob was never short of tricks up his sleeve.  He was the President of the St. Louis location for a Cleaning Company that did Janitorial services for places like the Airport here in St. Louis, and many large school districts in the area.  They had big contracts.  The business was in a building of course.  The St. Louis location was just one of may locations that was under a parent location in another city I've now forgotten.  Bob wanted to buy the building they were in here in St. Louis and have them rent the building from him.  The parent office was not interested because they felt it was all too close and could create a conflict of interest.  Of course Bob saw easy money, so he bought the building under another company name and leased it to them just like he wanted to. They never knew.

By now Lisa was wondering if I was ever going to move into her extra bedroom.  I had moved furniture in but had never even slept in my new bed.  I paid her rent though because I wanted to know that room was there if I needed it.  I did bring back may of the things he was buying for me, it was just endless, until one day Lisa made the joke "you're going to have to claim Bob on your taxes"...

Bob already knew Lisa was suspect of him, and he didn't like that much.  He especially didn't want her influencing me in any way - hence another reason to keep me at his house and away from her.  He was concerned about her, more so then I realized.  So one day he comes up with, "I think I know someone that might be good for Lisa".  Lisa was and still is to this day, looking for Mr. Right.   I asked him who and he told me about some guy he knew.  Then he said, "I would like to get to know her better first to make sure, how about we all go to dinner together".  I thought that was a great idea because I was missing my friend.  It never dawned on me he just wanted to get a feel for Lisa and to see if she could cause him any real trouble.  I told Lisa about his plan and she agreed to go to dinner. The difference between her and I - she knew what he really wanted to find out at that dinner.  We went to dinner and Bob asked her lots of questions, hidden in conversation as usual.  I guess he didn't find her to be any real threat.  After that he never really mentioned her again, and of course there never was a guy he wanted to fix Lisa up with.

I followed my normal routine every day, went to work, came home to his house, let myself in and watched TV until Bob came home.  There was never any work to do around there bigger then laundry or the dishwasher.  Bob paid to have people do everything else for him.  He had a housekeeper and a company that took care of his yard.  He took care of the drycleaning.  He knew someone who owned a drycleaners so he took both our clothes there and brought them back.  I never dealt with them, which was nice.  So there wasn't much to do but watch TV and wait for him to come home.  And to be honest, I always felt I was being watched when I was there.  I never dared to look around in places I didn't belong.  I swore those golf balls were keeping track of me. 

The Christmas presents were accumulating so I started wrapping them after work.  But, when Bob arrived home he was ready to go out to eat, so I knew I needed to be ready to go when he pulled in.  He always had a place to eat in mind and it was always upscale.  We never just ate at a normal place.  Even if we were going out to lunch it couldn't be Subway, it had to be the next tier up.  Well I was craving Steak n' Shake.  For those of you that have never heard of it, it's been a chain here in St. Louis all my life. They serve burgers and fries for the most part.  They are known for their burgers as being "Steak Burgers", and they make them really thin.  The buns are toasted and buttered, so you get the perfect amount of  it's like an upscale chain diner.  I told Bob I was really wanting to go there.  Well Steak n' Shake was really beneath him, but he said he would go for me.  Well we went and did he do a good job teaching me never to make a request like that again.  OMGosh did he get dramatic.  He rolled around on the couch for two days complaining how bad his stomach ached and the cramps he had, etc, etc.. 

Bob had a way of teaching you a lesson.  One night I wanted to go Christmas shopping with Lisa. She was my best friend and I hadn't seen near enough of her.  I told Bob I wanted to go shopping with her one night.  You could see it in his face, this was not the routine and not the norm.  I was supposed to come home to the house and be ready for dinner when he came home. period.  He couldn't say much, but I could tell he didn't like it.  Well I met up with Lisa and we started shopping and having fun, then my phone started ringing.  Of course it was Bob.  He wasn't feeling very well, his head was stopped up... "when was I going to be home?"  I told him I wasn't sure, that I was having fun, and wanted to get my gift shopping done.  He called back again, now he was much sicker..."how much longer until I came home?"  This went on until finally I just went home.

This was a turning point for me.  I didn't leave Bob, but I didn't feel the same anymore after that night.  Christmas was about 2 weeks away now, I had gifts for him and his family, we were planning a Christmas dinner for his family so I didn't rock the boat.

The funny thing about Bob was, while he was suspect of everyone, he never seemed to notice that I was losing my excitement for him. I didn't want him too because I had figured out it was in my best interest at this point for me to keep him thinking everything was as perfect as always. 

We were two weeks into this relationship, Bob was happy as long as I didn't stray from the routine, he was still showering me with gifts and fancy dates, and then he told me something interesting one night when we were laying in bed talking. He said, "does it bother I don't tell you everything?"  I answered with, "no not really, it's not like I'm on a need to know basis, we're not planning to get married or anything".  He said, "it's not like that, it's for your protection, if you don't now anything, you can't be implicated in anything". 

Now those are words to fall asleep by....

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Morning Chat..... Dating Bob

After the carriage ride Bob took me to dinner.  I no longer recall where we went but Bob never skimped so I'm sure it was one of the better restaurants in town.

I started to learn a few things about Bob - he had been married once for 20+ years, had been divorced for 3 or 4, recently broke up with his last girlfriend, had two boys, one that was still in High School, and had a 5 year old Grandson.   Pretty run of the mill, nothing unusual in any of that, of course if you were to assume that, you would be wrong. Even the norm I soon found out wasn't normal when it came to Bob.

For example Bob explained to me his oldest son got his girlfriend pregnant and had not yet married the mother of his Grandson, but intended too. Bob didn't seem bothered by this, in fact he felt his son had some growing up to do.  He really adored the mother of his Grandson and back when she had become pregnant, both of them were very young and didn't have good jobs or the means to do much. The mother had an interest in becoming a dental hygienist, so Bob paid for all of her schooling so she could become one.   I quickly learned he was endlessly generous.

Bob also shared details about his past girlfriend that I very quickly figured out I was supposed to be learning from.  Detail number one - and might I add the most important detail... she was nosey.  Bob never missed a chance to tell me she had asked too may questions.  She tried to get a look at his cell phone when a call came in, and she frequently asked who had called.  She also asked "other" questions. He made it very clear that was a big reason he broke up with her.  Hmmm note to self - don't ask questions...

Apparently Bob's generosity with her was never shorted either.  He told me used to pay for her car insurance, all her gas, and on and on.  It was amazing listening to this man.  The one things I did realize was, I didn't have to ask questions, I only needed to listen carefully.

I stayed the night at Bob's house after that first date.  It was late when we got back and we were enjoying each other's company tremendously, neither of us wanted the night to end, so we didn't let it.

Bob's house was beautiful and everything was in perfect order. It was an older home that had been brought back to life.  His taste in furniture was eclectic in that I found some rooms to be contemporary and some rooms had beautiful antiques.  He enjoyed golfing so his family room was decorated with a golf theme.  He had been to some of the most exquisite golf courses around the US and had the golf towels to prove it framed all around the room.  It was clear Bob was not hurting financially.

The house had a three car garage attached by a covered walkway.  The previous evening, before our date he had me put my car in the garage.  There were two other cars in there, one was a '57 Chevy he had picked up for his younger son who could not yet drive and the other was a collector car of his friend Frankies.  It was when Bob was showing me Frankies car that he told me his friends called him "Bobby".  I never called him that, I stuck with Bob, but I soon learned all his friends had names that ended in "ie".

I was learning other things about Bob as well, he was routine, he had his way of doing things and he didn't like to stray from his ways.  When we went to bed that first night, I learned he could not go to sleep unless the room had 100% darkness.  He had a routine of letting down curtains, turning thing around, covering things, it was interesting to watch as he prepared the room so he could sleep. He had no alarm clock because of they light up.  He asked me if any of this bothered me.  It didn't in the least, I have my own routines in life, so I understood.  He seemed relieved, and told me his routine ways had bothered his ex-girlfriend and he never missed an opportunity to tell me she was a slob.  Note to self - don't be a slob.

The routineness of Bob was everywhere.  I wanted to shower and Bob kept his towels in his laundry room.  I went to get what I needed and I just stood there in amazement.  On the wall were several shelves, full of towels.  It looked like Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  He owned three colors and had multiple sets in each color.  They were all stacked perfectly by type and color.  I went to put my glass I had been drinking from in the dishwasher and found all the dirty dishes and glasses perfectly organized.  Bob had also made an interesting comment during our conversation about his impeccable organization. He had said, "you know why I keep everything in perfect order, in case someone comes in my house, I'll know they were here". 

I went home that morning, but only after Bob wanted to give me a key to his house and shared his alarm code with me.  I noticed something about how I felt when Bob wanted to share this information, and give me the key - I felt as if I were being tested.  Bob and I chatted more and more after he had put the key next to my purse on the counter, so it was really easy to "forget" it when I left.  I wasn't ready for a key to this man's home yet. 

Of course before I left Bob wanted to know what I was going to do for the day.  He didn't have much planned, but he did have an obligation that night to go to watch his Grandson play soccer I believe (I don't recall the sport that well anymore).  When he told me that I immediately assumed I would not see him, when all of a sudden he said, "I would really like you to go so you can meet my family".  I was shocked. Could this man move any faster... I did agree to go, I liked Bob and as much as he wanted to spend time with me, I wanted to spend it with him.

Another interesting fact I'll mention about Bob at this point, remember he made it clear asking too many questions was a quick way to end things with him, well that was a one way rule.  Bob never quit asking questions about me, he wanted to know everything he could learn. And any time he uncovered something that wasn't just right, he did his best to fix it.  For example, just in conversation I shared with him how I had shipped home all my tools I owned, but the tool box had just been too heavy, so I left my tool box in the back of Fred's truck.  Next time I saw Bob, he had a new tool box for me.  Once we went shopping at a clothing store because he needed something.  I found some clothes I wanted, of course Bob paid for them as well.  These are just a few small examples.  Within the first week of knowing Bob, the items he purchased for me piled up at Lisa's condo.

After going back to Lisa's for a bit and getting ready for our evening together, I went back to Bob's.  I immediately was asked, "why didn't you take the key, I really want you to have it?".   I explained it was so soon and it's a big deal to trust someone with your house.  He looked what felt like right to the core of me and said, "I'm sure I can trust you".  So not only did I get a key, but I got my own garage door opener.

That night we went to the event for his Grandson and I met his older son and his girlfriend.  They were all very nice.  The girlfriend told me she was surprised she was meeting me so quickly, that he had not brought the previous girlfriend around for over 6 months after he had started dating her.  She also told me that Bob was very generous and the girlfriend had taken advantage of that.  She felt she was definitely a gold digger.   Interesting conversation...

From that point on I spent most of my time with Bob.  In the first week I was going out to dinner with Bob each night because he didn't like to cook, and his friends were all Italian restaurant owners.  We ate at all the best places, then we would come back to his house and hang out.  It was really nice.  I was finding it to be a little hard to get ready for work.  My clothes, hair care, makeup, etc were all at Lisa's, so I had to get up early, go to Lisa's, get ready, then drive to work.  Bob noticed this because he didn't care much for me leaving early in the morning.  I told him I had all my stuff I needed there. Of course Bob had the solution.  Here's how it went - Bob always had a roll of hundred dollar bills on him, so he peeled off about 4 of them and said, "here, take this, after work go buy everything you need so you can get ready for work at my house.  I'll make room in my closet for your clothes, and then you won't have to go back there.".   I was thinking to myself, really, and I've known you less than a week...

In the midst of this whirlwind with Bob, all the fun, the fancy dates, the gifts, cash, I failed to notice something significant.  Bob had managed to create an environment where he knew my every move.  He had me coming home from work to his house and not leaving unless I was with him or he knew where I was going, until I left for work the next day. Anywhere Bob went, I went with him with one exception.  When Bob ran low on his $100's in his pocket he would tell me he had to go do something (it would always be the silliest thing, such as go get some bread), and I couldn't go.  Of course his made up errand always took longer then it should of based on what he told me he was going to do and he was always restocked with cash again.  I may have failed to notice he knew my every move, but I did not fail to notice this, nor had I stopped "listening".  But I never asked a question, I just watched, and listened.

And this was week 1....

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Morning Chat.....Getting to know Bob

I follow the hostess as she takes me back deep into the restaurant to be seated with a man I've never met, but who has already spent hundreds of dollars on me.  I'm thinking a million thoughts, "what do I say", "how do I thank him for all he's done", "is he expecting something from me for his generosity".  We arrive at the table and there sits an incredibly handsome man, very different looking from his picture on, he's much better looking.  I feel myself instantly relaxing, he looks peaceful and comforting. For the first time I am seeing what I felt over the phone and through so many emails. I'm no longer nervous, I'm happy I didn't chicken out.

I sit down at the table and I'm smiling, so is Bob.  He speaks first and tells me he thinks I'm more beautiful in person, I'm happy, because I tell him I feel the same, we're definitely off to a good start.  We chat a bit, a little small talk and the I tell him how I almost chickened out and went back home, but now I'm so happy I didn't.  Then he says something I can hardly believe, even to this day, "I'm glad you didn't, I have that TV you want in the back of my SUV".  My mouth dropped, "what, are you kidding me, that thing cost $700 and you barely know me?"  He say's, "I know you, and I'm happy to do it for you".

We continue on with dinner, enjoying our time together more then I could have ever hoped for.  At one point he reached for me hand across the table, looked at me and said, "do you prefer silver or gold?" I said, "what do you mean?"  He said, "jewelry - do you prefer silver or gold?"  It made me feel a bit uncomfortable, seriously, I think this man had spent enough on me without worrying about jewelry! Nevertheless, I found myself saying, "gold".

Dinner came to an end, but we were having a wonderful time together and secretly I didn't want our "meeting date" to end.  We walked outside and he took to me to his SUV, and there in the back, big as could be was my TV.  I was so speechless and even tough I was already physically attracted to this man and was having a wonderful night, I kept wondering what the "price" was for these financial generosities.

We stood by his SUV chatting for a bit, when Bob said what I was feeling "I'm having a really good time and I'm not ready to call it a night, would you like to do something else this evening?"   Well... to be honest, I had already planned to go shopping for new bed linens.  My new bedroom set was due to arrive soon and I had two things I needed to get done, one was get new sheets and the other was to go the store where I bought the furniture and pick up the lamp I had also purchased, because it wasn't getting delivered.  Sounds like a great way to continue a date....  I decided to just tell him I needed to do these things, it was more of a timing issue then anything else, and I really wanted to get my bedroom together because the couch wasn't much fun.  In Bob's true form, he was ready to help.  He said, "let's go, leave your car here and we'll go get everything you need".  So we did.  Here I was on my first "meeting date" with this man and he was sheet shopping with me and we were having fun doing it. 

I already knew what I wanted, so we ran into Bed, Bath, and Beyond, I loaded my cart with all the items I needed.  I had everything but a blanket, which unbeknownst to me was not lost on Bob.  I went to check out and it was almost $400.00.  I hear Bob say, "let me get this for you".... "what".... "let me get this for you", are you kidding me.... I said, "no, Bob, you bought me a TV, dinner, a hotel, a rental car, my gosh, no, I'm buying my own bed linens...  he didn't push the issue, but he was more then happy to pay for everything.  I didn't know how to process this side of Bob. 

After we got the bed items we went the furniture store and picked up the lamp.  Then he drove me back to my car, loaded the items in it, including the TV, and asked me if he could take me on a date the next night.  My head was still spinning, but the words, "yes, I would love to see you again" came out with no problem.  I liked this man, and wanted to know more.

When I was still in Alaska at the hotel Bob had asked me what kind of dates I enjoyed.  I had shared a few of my favorite things to do in St. Louis, and had also included the fact it was the Holiday season and Tilles Park had all their lights up and one thing I had never done was go through there in a horse drawn carriage, but always wanted to.   At the time, it was in my mind conversation, I never really gave it any more thought then that.  But Bob did...

When I agreed to see him again on Saturday night he said, "good I was planning on you saying Yes, because I've already made reservations for us to go to Tilles park and see the lights in a horse drawn carriage".   There I stood once again thinking "are you for real"???   We parted ways in the parking lot with a warm hug, a little kiss, and a "I'll call you tomorrow morning".   I got in my car and to this day I can't remember the drive back to Lisa's, my head was just spinning with everything.  How could this all be so perfect?  Yes, how could this all be so perfect?

I got back to Lisa's and had to get her to help me with the TV.  Now remember Lisa.. she's a realist that calls it like she sees it.  She went downstairs with me and sees this giant Television in my car and I hear, "are you kidding me, what's up with this guy, did this thing fall off a truck or what?"  I said, "I don't know", and proceeded to tell her everything about the evening.  She was so skeptical, and so was I, but she was really skeptical.

As he promised Bob called Saturday morning and asked what I was doing during the day.  I told him I needed to get license plates for my car and run a few errands.  He asked me to stop by his house if I wanted and he would take me to lunch. He told me he couldn't wait to see me again.  I felt the same way, I really enjoyed this man, and I was doing a great job ignoring the fact nothing about this was normal...  I ran my errands, got my plates and went to his house for the first time.  In Bob's true, "let me help you form", he put the plates on my car and took me to lunch.  He told me he also wanted to take me dinner after our carriage ride through the park.  I was really excited, it was something I always wanted to do.  After lunch we parted ways with plans for me to come back to his house later that evening. 

Evening came and we started out on our date.  We were really having fun, we enjoyed each other immensely and we both had a physical attraction to each other, so aside from the whole "gift" thing, it was wonderful.  We arrive at Tilles park and the way the carriage rides work is you buy a ticket for each person in your party that will be riding in the carriage. The carriages held about 10-12 people, so Bob would have needed to buy 2 tickets for us to go for the ride.  We parked his SUV and Bob say, "oh I brought a blanket, let me get it".  Bob pulls out a brand new Queen sized blanket that was the color of my bed linens and says, "I bought this for you. I figured we could use it tonight to stay warm, and then wash it up for you to use on your new bed, because I noticed you didn't buy a blanket and I want you to be warm".  Once again, I'm speechless.... but I won't linger here, because that's just the beginning of the nights surprises.  We walk over to the place where you check in only to find out that Bob has bought out all the tickets for the carriage we were to ride in so we would have it to ourselves.   So yes, once again my mouth has dropped and I can't believe what he has done.  And, I'm thinking, he did all of these things, and made all these plans before he had ever set eyes on me.  What kind of man have I met??

The carriage ride was fabulous, the lights were gorgeous, the blanket was warm, it was a fairy tale in the making.... or was it?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday Morning Chat..... Who the heck is Bob?

So now I was free of Fred, at least I was hoping so.   Lisa and I headed out of there, I called Bob and let him know we were out of there safe and on our way to get something to eat.  He was relieved.  I still couldn't believe I had all this help from a man I never met.  Lisa was in the dark about everything.  The poor girl, she was just doing along with everything as it was happening. 

We were both starving by this point so the first thing we did was go to the nicest place to eat in North Pole there was, a Chinese restaurant.  We weren't very far away yet, but we felt safe. Fred never went there and we were in a rental no one saw, so we relaxed and had a bite to eat. That's when I started telling her about Bob.  I shared how I had met him, how we emailed, and how he wanted to save me.  Well you all don't know Lisa... she's a realist that calls it like she see's it and she was suspect of Bob from that moment on.  She was like me.. who does all this?  Of course at this point, I didn't care, I was just grateful for his help. 

We had our meal, then headed to Fairbanks.  I had never been to this hotel we were going to so once we found it, we were both impressed, he had us booked at a really nice place for Fairbanks.  It was the nicest hotel in the town by far.  So we got checked in and once again I called Bob, he had asked me to call once we got there because he wanted to make sure the place was nice and that we were settled in.  Of course Lisa was there when I called so she heard the entire conversation.  Here's how it went... let me just say, if you're wondering about Bob already, now you're really going to wonder. 

Bob, "Who's Lisa?  How long have you known her?"  "Do you trust her?" "You're going to be living with her when you come back?"  "How did you leave Fred's?"  "Did you do anything revengeful?"  "You're not going to have any anything at Lisa's, what are you going to do for furniture and all the other things you need"? 

I assured Bob I knew Lisa well, I had known her for about 10 years at that point.  I also told him I had no interest in hurting Fred, I just wanted out with my life and that I was not a revengeful type person anyway.  I also told him I may not have everything I needed, but I did have a car lined up and a cell phone, I also had my old job to go back to so I would be fine. 

Oh let me just say, Lisa's eyes were rolling in every direction... especially when the conversation continued and went like this......

Me, "All I really need when I get back is a bedroom set, Lisa has everything else.  I am planning to get a TV for my bedroom so I can relax and watch whatever I want and not bother Lisa, but other then that, I should be fine".  Bob, "what kind of TV are you going to get".  Me, "I'm not sure, but I did see one at Walmart I liked that had a slot on the side so you can play DVD's".   Bob, "Walmart, I hate that store."  Me, "Well, that's about all I have to look around in up here".  Bob, "Do you have a model number or anything for this TV?" Me, "No, it's just a 20" TV and it was the only one with the DVD slot on the side".  Bob, "Ok, make sure you call me before you go to bed".  Me, "Ok will do, talk to you later".... end of conversation.

Lisa was shaking her head and just sat back on the pillows of her bed and said "this is going to be interesting"....

Our four remaining days in Fairbanks were pretty uneventful.  We went to a couple of movies, we ate out, we went to a craft fair, we did anything to blow time. There isn't a lot to do in Fairbanks, and of course we didn't go out in the evening much, because we didn't want to risk running in to Fred.  He didn't know if we were still in Alaska or not, but he did go to Fairbanks from time to time for things. 

Meanwhile I was able to speak to Bob whenever I wanted, or should I say whenever Bob wanted to talk to me.  Bob kept close tabs on me, which was not lost on Lisa.  He was very generous.  As I had mentioned, he was paying for the hotel and car, but he was also offering to pay for massages if we wanted them, dinners in the hotel, anything we wanted really.   I'm not like that, so I didn't take him up on those offers, but they were generous.  Too generous for Lisa.  She kept saying, "you've never even met this guy".  I may not have, but I had plans to for Friday night, and it was Sunday, so I only had 5 days to go.

Sunday night we were scheduled to fly out.  Most flights to the lower 48 leave around midnight in Alaska, and so did ours.  I'll never forget that night.  We had so much stuff to bring back. We were at our maximum allowable everything.  We had the maximum amount of check luggage, carry on luggage, carry on purses, bags, you name it, we maxed out.  It was the coldest night I had experienced there, it was 26 below zero.  I remember pulling up to the airport and dropping Lisa off with all of our items so I could just check the car in and come in to meet up with her.  I dropped the car and walked to the door.  I didn't have the cold weather gear you needed for there anymore because I didn't want to bring it back to St. Louis, I would never need it here.  I had donated it all to a charity during the 4 days I waited for the flight.  So I was walking to the door in 26 below temperatures with just a coat, I didn't even have a pair of gloves.  I remember finally reaching the door to go inside and thinking to myself, "I will never feel this cold again", and I never have. 

We got our flight, no problems, we flew to Seattle where we hung out for a couple of hours then caught our flight to St. Louis.  We arrived on Monday and my gosh did it feel good to be home in more ways then I can describe.  Lisa had arranged for another friend of hers to pick us up, so we were at her condo in no time.  When we arrived back at her condo all my boxes I had shipped back were waiting for me.  My cell phone had even arrived.

On Tuesday morning we rode to work together and by 9:00am my new car was delivered to the office for me.  Things were coming together quickly and I was loving it.  Everyone at work was very gracious about the fact things had not worked out and they welcomed me back without pressing the issue.  I was really appreciative.  And then I got a phone call from the lobby  - "Hi Miss Jane, you have flowers down here waiting for you, they're beautiful"... I thought who would do that?  So, I went down to look and there was this HUGE arrangement of flowers, and they were from Bob! I thought to myself, I can't bring these to my desk.  Everyone knows I'm back because things didn't work out with Fred, and now I have this huge flower arrangement from Bob and no one knows about him, heck I don't even know about him...  so I called Lisa's desk.  I said, "you have to come get these, pretend someone sent them to you or do whatever, just please take them home with you".  Lisa's a trooper so she came and got them, hid the card, and brought them back to the condo that evening. 

The rest of the week went along pretty normal, I went shopping for furniture, worked during the day, spoke to Bob a lot, and we finalized our plans for meeting Friday night.

Friday night came and to be honest, I almost chickened out.  I even drove to the restaurant where we were to meet and almost didn't park, I wanted to just drive back home.  Here I had just gotten out of that horrible situation and I was thinking to myself, "what am I doing meeting another man already".  I never intended for any of this to go this far.  I was only playing around on Thanksgiving for something to do.  What in the heck am I doing??   But, I parked and I went in.  This was a really nice steak restaurant Bob had chosen, so the minute I walked in the Hostess said, you must be Jane, please follow me...

See you next Sunday!!!


Friday, October 24, 2014

Sunday Morning Chat...on Friday...

Hello Everyone!

I know I left you all with quite the cliff hanger and from what I gather I have a lot of minds wondering about what's next, who's Bob and so forth.  I also posted on FB that I had left out some details about what life was "really" like with Fred. Basically I got more interest then I expected. I just didn't want to offend in any way, but I get the impression the curiosity is there so I'm going to back track a bit.

First I want to say, I learned a lot from this whole experience, and looking back I see things I should have paid attention to.  I should have made the decision not to move there; however, also looking back I realize I got very wrapped up in the whole exciting and energy that revolved around "I'm moving to Alaska".   People were very excited for me and at some point I felt it crossed to a place where I don't think I would have known how to unwind it all and not move, and in my heart I felt Fred loved me and I loved the feeling of being loved. 

I had gone to visit Fred several times before moving there.  I was fortunate in the fact work paid for many of the trips because where Fred lived was in my work territory.  I also had tons of airline miles so I could get free airline tickets.  Fred and I also met in Seattle, WA to spend time together as well, in fact Fred proposed to me on a horse drawn carriage ride in Seattle before I moved there.  How romantic is that.... all part of why it was hard to unwind.

During the visits I had my relationship with Megan and Michelle began to grow, in fact I had a better relationship with Michelle at that time, then I did after I moved there.  Megan was starving for any sort of mother image she could get her hands on, so she was close to me instantly. She had my phone number and would call me on her own whenever she wanted to, which I was happy about.

Megan had a pet horse, I forget the name anymore, it's been 10 years now, it was an old horse, and she loved it to no end. Megan had a few pets around there and she mothered all of them.  She had a dog as one of her pets, this particular dog wasn't a mushing dog.  She worked with this dog all the time and it knew all sorts of tricks.  Well one day I get a phone call and Megan is just sobbing on the phone, to the point it was almost impossible to understand her.  It turned out her horse had died.  Now, this little girl had a heart as big as Alaska and was super sensitive. I knew this and I had only known her a very short time.  Well instead of having it hauled off and having a memorial to the horse, or burring the darn thing in the pasture, Fred strung it up in front of the pole barn right outside her bedroom window and proceeded to butcher it for the dogs to eat.  I was so pissed at him.  But to him, it was practical. 

That was the first of many animals I saw strung up and butchered.  I wasn't bothered by any of the others, they were our food and had been fed, fattened up, and grown for that purpose.  I am a meat eater, so animals sacrifice their life for me to eat.  I know this, and understand it.  I also respect it, and the one thing I've learned over the years is that most people who kill their own food do it in a fast and respectful manner.  I prefer that any day over how commercial animals are handled. Fred was no different.  I watched pigs get killed and they never suffered, they also lived a comfortable life up until that moment.  But I thought what he did with the horse was horrible and unforgivable.  It hurt Megan deeply.

Megan also struggled in school. She had a hot little temper at times and it got her in trouble quite often.  As I had mentioned previously Fred paid little attention to anything related to school and education, and was all to happy to pass that off to me.  So, I started hearing from the teacher on a regular basis.  Most issues were manageable because I had a way with Megan, and I could usually get her squared away pretty easily.  Then one day I got a call from a teach about Megan being pretty mean to this one little boy.  Now you all know by now Megan had been through hell and back already in her life.  During the conversation the teacher says to me., " I know Megan has been through a lot, and I can't tell you any details here, but no matter how bad Megan's situation has been, this little boy's situation is much worse".  I didn't know what to think or say.  I thought, OMGoodness what could be worse then what Megan has gone through with her mother and then being left with Fred as the person you had to rely on for life itself.  Well time went by, I continued to work with Megan the best I could, I was living there full time and the days clicked by slowly.  I got to know a mother of one of Megan's friends and she stopped by one day.  We were chatting at the table and I shared with her what the teacher had told me.  Well this was a small town so she knew all the details.  This little boy's Dad had a fight, disagreement, grudge, whatever you want to call it with another man.  So instead of handling it like a man should and setting a good example for his two boys (the little boy had a brother), this Father shot and killed the man, strung him up like a deer and gutted him in front of his boys.

He did go to prison for this crime, but an important part of this is how people view things up in the wilderness there.  It is truly the last frontier and I learned many of the people who live in the wild do so because the can't deal with normal civilization.  In a few of the comments I've received over the time I've written this story a few people have said, "I don't know how you didn't knock Fred's block off"...(something to that context)... this is why.  I chose to stay alive.  To this day I believe Fred had the ability to do bad things.  He never laid a hand on me, but I also didn't give him reason to.  I played the game and made my plan to get the heck out of there.  There would have been no benefit to irritating him for me.

Now you can also understand why my decisions I made for leaving were so critical. Each one had to work and each decision was important.  Even up until the day I picked up Lisa at the airport, I got meat out of the freezer as if I was going to be cooking dinner that night for everyone.  I kept it looking like no surprises were coming, life was going as he wanted it to, dinner would be made like he wanted and so forth.

This bring me back to where I left off from last week.  I don't want you to have to wait a whole week again, so I will pick up there and write a bit more.

I was driving what was now "Fred's" truck back to the house and Lisa was driving the rental.  The way the driveway was we needed to have a clear path out of there and it was a skinny, very, very long driveway, almost like a short road, so the big truck I was driving needed to be parked somewhere else so we could load the rental and get it out again.  I hid the truck further down the road we lived on, there was so much snow back there, so I just kind of stuck it back there hoping I would get it out again.  Lisa had the rental in the driveway and we quickly gathered my last few belongings.  Talk about your heart racing, my heart was going a million miles an hour.  We still had things to pack.  I had suitcases hidden under the bed that were half packed, but we had to throw the remaining items in there and get them in the rental. We were flying, and we weren't neat about it.  The last thing I did in that bedroom was throw the cell phone he had give me on the bed. We got it all loaded up and then I needed to get the big truck back and then we were out of there.  The big truck was a one ton dual wheeled diesel that was 4-wheel drive and had a long bed on it, so it was good size. In Alaska is was common.  I went to get it and it started to be stuck. I thought holy crap, you have got to get out of here.  I tore it up getting it free, but I could have cared less, I just wanted it in the driveway so everything looked normal.  I finally got it over there and Lisa and jumped in that rental.  We were backing down that long driveway and I could hardly breath.  To this day I can remember the feeling as I made the turn backing out of there that put me on the road.  As the rental turned, I looked at Lisa and said, "I'm free".  I immediately started feeling relaxed.  Just writing this I can feel those feelings again.

I called Bob because he was waiting to hear from me, he had told me he was really worried about how it would all go and had told his secretary that if I called he was to be interrupted.  I really appreciate him, without him during those last few days it would have been much harder if not impossible to accomplish getting out safely.  Lisa and I were in a comfortable 4 wheel drive rental SUV, we had a 4star hotel room waiting for us in Fairbanks, all paid for by Bob! And we were free.  We now had 4 days to wait for our flight out of there. 

I will leave it here and pick up with this next weekend!  I hope you enjoy the read!

Hugs, Jane

Sunday, October 19, 2014

More Sunday Morning Chat.... the Story Continues...

So, there I was on Thanksgiving, enjoying the peace and quiet with everyone gone, playing on and, as I mentioned last week, I meet Bob.  Bob was pretty handsome looking in his picture, and to be honest I was just goofing around anyway.  Heck I couldn't meet anyone new, I was thousands of miles from St. Louis.  I mostly just needed something to do since TV up there is useless.  Way up North, getting TV channel is ridiculous, the satellites are not Soaimed in a way that helps Alaska much, and local channels aren't any good, so playing on seemed like better fun.  But let's face it, the last thing I needed was another man.  But what's the harm in a little chit chat, so I send Bob a message.  I picked Bob to write to for a few reasons. One he had this clean cut responsible look about him, and after being with Fred, that looked good.  Secondly he stated he made the highest income bracket they had on there - money's good right? and Thirdly, he was online and I was looking for something to do.  To be honest the third reason was my biggest motivator.  While I was glad t be alone, I was bored.

So, I send Bob a message and within an hour or so he writes me back.  Good.  So now I have something to do.  We write back and forth a bit, until he say's "I would really like to talk off of here on the phone, and maybe make plans to meet".  Oh crap....  you got it, I hadn't told him where I was or what was going on.  So now I had to come clean, I thought wait until I tell him a few details, that will be the last message I get from Bob.  But I really have no choice I need to tell him because I can't meet him and if we talk on the phone he's going to wonder about the area code.  So, I throw a few bits out there about how I met this guy, didn't go good, he's a jerk, working on coming home, have a flight booked for early December...blah, blah, blah.  Thinking that's the last of Bob....  Oh was I wrong, that was just the beginning of Bob!

So, he write me back and is wanting to know everything and fix it all. Now he really wants to talk on the phone because he's going to save me.  Well at this point I could use a little saving, so I thought what do I have to lose.  I give him my cell number and he calls.  Bob was really nice company that Thanksgiving evening. We chatted for hours.  Bob seemed smart, he was a business owner and also ran another company, he was divorced, his children were grown, he had one grandchild and we seemed to have a lot of quirky traits in common.  So Bob and I connect big time on the phone.  We spoke again the next day all the way up until when Fred pulled up in the driveway.  So now our option of speaking on the phone is over, we have to resort back to emailing, which we do.

Bob and I emailed every day as we both waited for the day I had my flight book to come back home.  It was booked for December 8th because December 4th my friend was flying up to visit. She didn't know the details of what was going on at this point, and even I didn't know how it was about to all shake down.  So Bob and I are beginning to really enjoy our daily emails, we miss talking on the phone and we're making plans to meet when I get back.  Meanwhile I was getting really organized.  I had nothing to go home to - no car, nothing.  So I buy a cell phone on line and get it mailed to my friends house, I got my old job back, which was fantastic.  I even bought a car over the phone from the person I had bought so many new vehicles from and I was going to stay with my friend for a while. I was steadily mailing things back home and stupid Fred was clueless.  He would sit there are night with the computer on and up, surfing for women thinking he was being clever, and I thought you idiot, if you only

By now it's the day before my friend is to arrive and Fred is at his worst.  I get told I'm not allowed to use anything in the house, it's all his.  He tells me I will be allowed to HIS truck the next day to pick my friend up at the airport, and he will allow her to stay at HIS house, but that's it.  I realize I have to leave when my friend arrives, but I have no access to the computer (when he or the girls are there), no access to the phone, the truck, nothing.  I needed a hotel room booked for myself and a rental car, but I have no way to do it.  I didn't want to call my Dad for help because he wasn't a regular traveler and didn't know much about handling what I needed done and he would have just gotten really worried.  So I decide I need to call Bob.  I had asked nothing of him up until this point, but I knew he was a business man and could do what I needed. to call him...

This is the first and last time that dang outhouse same in   I pretended I needed to go to the bathroom, but took my cell phone with me.  I didn't stop at the outhouse, I went deep into the woods because the phone lit up when you used it and Fred didn't miss a thing.  I called Bob, I had only a few minutes.  I told him as fast as I could that things were seriously bad, I was sorry I needed to ask for help, but I needed a hotel room for myself and my friend, and I needed a car.  Bob said something strange during that phone call.  He said, "I'm going to get this done for you, if there were more time I would have someone there to get you out of there".  I asked "who", thinking, who does he know in Alaska?  He said, "I'm well connected".  I couldn't focus on this, I needed to get back in the house.  We agreed he would email me the details of the things I needed.   By nights end I had a few moments alone to check email and it was all there. 

Now I had a problem to work out.... do I pick my friend, Lisa up with the truck loaded with my last bit of worldly possession, drop them off at the hotel and run the truck back to the house with her following in the rental and get out of there in just minutes (Fred commonly stopped by the house during the day while he was working) or do I leave the items I have at the house, pick her up, come back, spend 10-15 minutes getting the items in the rental and leave.  The first option - what if Fred came home and saw all my stuff gone and HIS truck gone, he would surely report it stolen.  Second option - what if Fred came by the house while we were there moving my last things out the door.  Both options were bad, but I went for option #2. 

Finally morning came, Fred left for work, the girls went to school and I went to pick up Lisa.  When she arrived I hugged her and said, "plans have changed", we're going to pick up a rental and we're checking into a hotel.  Oh, and BTW some buy named Bob is paying for it all.... yep you heard right, he had insisted he was paying for the hotel and car even though I was good financially (this is significant).   Lisa's like who's Bob? 

We get the rental, she drives it, I drive the truck and back to the house we go to get my remaining items, this is it, we have to be quick, we have to get out of there without Fred coming home.  My heart was beating so fast and so hard.  I was praying my plan would work out ok. I just needed to drop off that truck, grab the remaining items, and get the heck out of that long driveway in the rental and I was a free woman again....

See you next Sunday.....

Hugs, Jane...vv08

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Morning Chat Time!!!

Ok back to my Alaska stories.....

As time went on living there became harder and harder.  Fred and I didn't see eye to eye on anything at all.  Winter was beginning to set in, it was late September and the snow was piling up.  All Fred wanted to do at the point was mush dogs.  You recall all the chores the girls did that involved caring for the dogs.  Well, they both told me in private that they didn't even want to dog mush.  It was Fred's dream, not theirs. Yet they had to work their tails off to care for the 30 dogs that lived on the property. The days were getting much shorter very quick and it was getting cold. The temperatures were starting to hit around 0 degrees around that time, so it was cold.  It snowed every day.

The snow is different there though, it's really dry.  So you can have 6 inches of snow fall on your vehicle, open the door, jump in, slam the door and all the snow falls off the car...  it's the same way on the roads, it mostly just blows off.  They don't use salt up there, they put down gravel if there is ice.  That makes for endless broken windshields.  People mostly drive trucks and they get the gravel it their tires and it flies out and hits your windshield.  I was getting chips fixed all the time!

I mentioned last week I had found a job in North Pole, AK.  This was one interesting town.  Yes, Santa really does live there.  I saw his house every time I went to North Pole. I visited him a few times.  Oh, btw - he has an RV park right next to his house and he has real reindeer in his yard (all true).  One of the funniest things to me, that I saw was, as you drove into North Pole the first thing you saw was a building advertising  with the way things were for bathrooms in houses, many people did not have showers in their homes so they had to drive somewhere for a shower.  So, North Pole catered to them and had a shower facility.  North Pole didn't have a lot, it had a very small grocery store, a McDonalds, Taco Bell, and a few small businesses.  It was mostly just one road through the middle of the town and that it - it as called "Santa Claus Ln" of course.  Santa's house was just off this street.  The funny thing was around Thanksgiving people started mailing out their Christmas cards, well many of them wanted their cards to be stamped from North Pole, AK so they would drive for miles to go to that post office.  It was crazy around that post office the closer it got to Christmas!

By October I was just going through the motions, I had become closer to Megan and more distant from Michelle.  Michelle was always lying about something, skipping school, all sorts of stuff. I stayed out of it with her and let Fred handle her.  He was failing miserably at it, but he was a clueless man that thought he knew it all.  About the only thing that changed in October was the length of the days and the temperatures.  We had put away all the food for the winter, which meant Fred had butchered the pigs and chickens (I'll spare you the details) and put the vegetables up by blanching and freezing them.

November rolled around and I knew I had to leave. Fred showed so many outbursts of anger it was frightening.  He mostly showed them towards the girls, but since I had started protecting Megan more that was a problem to him and he directed some of his anger towards me for that. I knew by then I simply hated him. I know that's a strong word, but I couldn't find much of anything about him I liked and definitely was ready to go back where I had come from.  He didn't think I would do that since I had moved so far....silly man...the highway and the skies go both ways.  So, early November I decided to leave.  As I mentioned Fred's anger toward me was bad so I knew telling him I was leving would not go over well. He may have been a jerk to me, but he wanted me to stay because I helped with the girls, chores, cooked, etc.   So, to keep the peace for a while longer, when the girls went to school and he went to work, I was packing up boxes of my belongings.  I worked part time, and managed to find these great boxes in a shed of his, so I took them and started packing them up. They were really big and I figured I could fit three of them across the back seat of the truck.  So every Tuesday and Thursday (my days off), I hauled 3 big boxes of my belongings to the post office and mailed them to my best friends condo in St. Louis.  Fred was so into the dogs and running his little homestead he didn't even notice my belongings  

Then about mid-November I told him I was leaving.  Meanwhile my best friend had decided to come up and visit so she had booked a flight to AK arriving early December.  I decided to let her keep planning to come up there. The biggest obstacle Fred and I faced with my leaving was the big fancy truck we had was in both our names and needed to be in just his.  When we originally bought it we used my truck I had been driving as the vehicle that was traded in to get the truck.  Only problem was - I was upside down in it.  I had been buying new vehicles all time and rolling my "upside downness" into the next vehicle, and the next, and the next.... So not they were all rolled into this fancy truck that he needed to re-finance into his name.  Everyone said "no" because now the truck was used to make matters worse.  I was freaking out about this - I needed my name off that truck so I could leave., and I wanted to go. We tried several options and all were a dead end, until one day when I called who it was currently with and they said they would refinance it. I was elated!! 

At this point I told Fred I was planning to leave, it was now about a week before Thanksgiving.  If Fred wasn't a big enough jerk already, he was about to get worse.  He treated me like crap, he started looking for new women on right in front of me (I didn't care because I despised him, but you have to agree it's rude), and he just became more and more arrogant.  He planned to drive 6 hours to visit family for Thanksgiving, I chose t stay home.  When they all left I was doing the happy dance. I had 2 days worth of peace.  So...what's good for the gander is good for the goose right?  So I started scanning in my picture to, writing my profile and out there I went and lo and behold on Thanksgiving day I met Bob....

This is where I'm going to end for this bog post Bob is a whole store in itself... I'll pick up next week with more as usual! 

Big Hugs,

Friday, October 10, 2014

And the WINNER for Flash Contest #15 is.......

Congratulations to LilRhondaLee!!! You are the winner of Flash Contest #15 - which was sponsored by Mike at TupeloDesignsLLC!  Please contact either Mike or myself to collect your winnings!

Thank you all for playing along and always, thanks for your support!  If you haven't checked out Mike's store, please take a look around.  You can get to his store by clicking on the link to the left, or at the bottom of the page.

Thanks again!
Mike and Jane vv08

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Flash Contest #15 - Color, Color Everywhere!

This is the blog post for Flash Contest #15!  Your answers should be posted as a comment to this blog post.  This Flash Contest will be open until 5:00pm Central Time Friday evening - remember I'm in  St. Louis, MO if you need to check time zones.  The drawing for the winner will be Friday night, or Saturday morning!

The PRIZE - always the best part - if your name is drawn you will win $10 to spend in Mike's store, TupeloDesignsllc, not bad for a quick 24 hour Flash Contest prize.

So, here's the store link   Head on over and find the answers to the questions!

Thanks for playing and Good luck  to everyone!

Mike and Jane.... vv08

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Yep, It's Sunday Morning Chat Time... and the story continues

Hello Everyone,

Well I didn't mean to leave you all hanging last week, I just couldn't type the whole story in one day, it's too long, especially if I was going to give you all a lot of detail.

Ok, so I left of at my arrival to live with Fred, and it's now August 2004.  Fred had decided before I arrived that he was going to add a bedroom on to the house.  I was aware of this already and it was intended to be de before I arrived, but it wasn't so that made for a bit of chaos because the house was't very big, you have to remember, the people who live there typically build their own houses and Fred was no exception.  So my belongings ended up staying in the back of the truck until the room was done, which wasn't too long.  It was like the rest of the house, it had plywood floors and he installed an oil stove for heat.  I ended up painting and trimming it out to look nice, but it was funny, the rest of the house didn't look like the bedroom.  The bedroom was the only room made with boards and drywall inside, the rest of the house was made from logs so it was rustic everywhere else.  Now, you might think - wow, how neat, I bet all those logs were  Nope..  those "home made" houses are very basic and they're all over rural AK, many do not have much in the way of closets, or space in general.  Most of the time it's very cold so everyone in the house has all of their winter gear out. And you need serious winter gear, not like what we have in the Midwest.  I mention all this because in a very short time it was very cold after I arrived and I soon figured out all the hooks and nails I kept noticing were used to hang coveralls, coats, gloves, you name it.  When everyone came in, they would take all of their outer wear off and hang it all over the place. It's just how it is, and the heat from the stove dries everything and keeps it warm and toasty until you need it again.  So, if you like the romantic, beautiful look of a log home, you won't find it in a home like this.

So, how did my life go with Fred after I got there? That's a question I need to answer the end of the story makes sense.  As soon as I arrived Fred showed me a little bit more of "how they do things".  Well as you can image, a dishwasher was just something they laugh at, that's what the girls were for.  So, here was the routine that was shared with me.  Fred worked on Eilson Air Force Base in a civilian job.  He had a very good job, I don't recall what he did, but he made good money.  Anyway, back to it, he told me he got up early and now that I was there, I should make his breakfast every morning, and it should be a big breakfast, sausage (which he made fresh right there), toast, eggs, and potatoes.  I was to get the eggs from the chicken house and set them out to thaw, it was so cold they would freeze.  He had another big barn building that he had sacks of potatoes in from the growing season, so everything was there for me to do this for him.  I was also told I needed to learn about taking care of the dogs so I could help with that.  There was always loads and loads of really dirty laundry needing to be done, and I would need to plan a big dinner for everyone and have it cooked each night. 

It became very clear overnight, that Fred needed a hand, not a girlfriend, not a future wife, but another worker.  All of the "sweet, nice" Fred was gone just that quick.  He had these expectations because his wife who passed (who was native Alaskan), had done all these things.  I was devastated, and immediately full of regret.  I was there though, and the younger of the two girls was so excited she couldn't stand it. I had to figure out how to live there, or head back home, and if you saw how happy Megan, the youngest was, you would understand why I decided I had to give it my best.

Also within a day or two of my arrival Fred took me to Megan's school, she was in 5th grade and was doing really bad.  He introduced me to her teacher and the principal of the school, and let them know I would be handling everything with the kids schooling...  news to me too.  I couldn't figure it out at the time, but the teacher and principal both seemed "over" excited about me being in the picture.  I soon figured out why.  The oldest girl was 15, here name was Michelle, and in high school, which was on the military base.  There were so few children in this part of Alaska that there was no high school for them.  The way the grade school worked was that many grades were combined.  It wasn't what I was used to, and I'm not sure if it was the best set up.  I know Megan was lost.  She had barely learned to read, and by this time she needed to be using reading to learn, not still trying to learn to read. 

Michelle was a handful.  On my first day there alone, when Fred had gone back to work, she skipped school, was lying to me about everything, and clearly did not want me there.  Both of these girls had been through hell.  At the time I didn't know how bad, but I later pieced it all together. Megan was 10, so I did the math backwards on her.  Her mother had been gone for a year, so she was 9 when she lost her, and her mother had been sick really bad, to the point she didn't even know who Megan was for many months before that, so that put her back to 8, and her mother had been sick for about 3 years prior to that, meaning she was only 5 when her mom could not longer care for her the way she probably wanted to, so Megan had missed out on her mom all together for the most part.   For Michelle it was different.  She had known normal life with her mom and she was hurting terribly, but couldn't express is.  And, let me just say, Fred's attitude was "there's work to be done around here, so stop your whining and get (whatever) done".  When one of the girls asked Fred if they could do something or if they wanted something he always said, "we'll see".  I hated that, that wasn't an answer.  And he had these girls doing chores that were a crazy amount of work.  If they balked at all, or said anything, he would yell at them and say "I'm the King of this house and you'll do what I say".  By now I was wondering what in the world had I gotten myself in to.  Megan had fallen in love with me because she needed to love someone. And no one had been sensitive to her needs like I was.  Michelle hated me, and Fred just needed another worker...

But if I thought my responsibilities were much work, they were nothing compared to those poor girls.  Here's how their day went, especially when the cold set in, and don't forget the darkness - the sun didn't rise until about 11:00am starting by about October or so.  The girls had to get up at 5:00am, and give food and water to 30 dogs.  Now, keep in mind it was usually between 10-15 below zero.  In order to give water to the dogs, they each got out a plastic sled, then they would get 5 gallon water buckets and fill them with hot water and put two or three of them on each sled. They would then pull them in the snow from dog house to dog house and break up the ice from the previous watering they had had, and put new hot water in their containers.  The dogs drank most of it immediately before it would freeze on them again.  Then they also had to feed them.  If a dog needed more straw in it's house they had to take care of that too.  Then they had to get ready for school.  When they got home from school they had to tend to the dogs again.  They had to do the food and water routine all over again - keep in mind, it was dark again, because the sun was only up until about 2:00pm.  They also had to "train" with the dogs, so they had to help Fred hook up the whole mushing set up, which is not small deal, and they would mush some dogs so they were all ready for their weekend mushing league events.  Then the girls ate dinner and they had more chores around the house to do, which started with the day's dishes. Fred wanted all the dishes left for them to wash.  I wasn't to do the breakfast dishes, nothing, the girls were to do them all at night.  Those chores always varied, they were whatever Fred needed done such as feeding pigs, chickens, he even had the butchering chickens and cleaning them, whatever he could think of.  Then finally about 8:00pm they were done and could start their homework.  Well - now you understand why Megan could barely read.  I found myself trying to do as many of their chores as I could to free up some of their time.  I hurt for those girls while I was there.  I tried multiple tines to talk to Fred about it, about their education they were not getting to work at, and got no where, he saw no value in anything but "work". 

Megan and I continued to get closer and closer while I lived there.  She began to turn to me for everything. I got very involved in her schooling.  I made a point to go eat lunch with her at school once a week which she loved.  I also walked her to the bus every morning.  BTW - those girls walked over 2 blocks in darkness so dark you could not see your hand in front of your face, to the highway where the bus picked them up.  They had to tromp through deep snow, and wait in horribly bitter temperatures.  It was brutal, but for them it was normal.  I also made Megan read to me every night.  I battled Fred for time for her to do her homework.  And it was a battle let me tell you. Megan was different then Michelle, Megan was curious about the rest of the world and wanted to see it.  She had taken a trip to AZ when her Mom was ill because her Mom had been there for treatment.  Megan realized there was more out there then just AK.  So I stressed to her all the time the importance of her education.  I told her it was her ticket to see the world. She could go to college in another state.  To this day I hope she was listening.  I hope she reached some of her dreams. But with Fred in the picture, it would have been hard. Ten years have gone by, it's hard for me to image, she's a 20 year old woman now, and I wonder what her life has become.

I got a job for myself while I was there because I needed out of the house and to be around other adults besides Fred who I was quickly growing to despise.  I got a job at the State Farm office in North Pole, AK.  I sold mutual funds.  I was a licensed broker already so it was a perfect position.  The women I worked with were all from the lower 48 too, they were military wives, so it was perfect, we all got along really well. That job was my connection to normalcy.

Before I go today I wanted to share a few other tidbits about life there.  In the winter, no one turns their car off when they run errands, it's just too cold. So you can go to the grocery store, bank, post office, anywhere and you just leave your car running with the keys in it and no one takes it.  It's just how it works.  If you do have a job, usually the employer supplies an electrical outlet area for you to park in, so you pull in, get your extension cord, plug it to an outlet attached to the building, and plug it into your vehicle (which are equipped with heaters). This way when you come out of work 8 hours later your car or truck will start up.   We lived 15 miles from the closest town, which was North Pole, and 30 miles from the biggest city there, which was Fairbanks.  North Pole is where Santa really lives... it's Christmas all year round there.

Ok, I need to run for today and get some other things done.  I'll pick up here next week and tell more of the story... 


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

And the WINNER to Flash Contest #14 is......

Kim! Congratulations on winning!  Thank you all for playing.  We appreciate everyone looking around at the product in store.  We also hope you found it easier to find things.  We chose to let everyone be eligible to win since it's really hard to keep up with the product count around here - we struggle with it!!! LOL  Kim will receive an ATC which I will get done for her just as quick as I can.

I also want to let you know there will be more Flash Contest coming soon.  Mike and I are settling into a new normal around here and it will allow me to get back to business as usual!

Thanks again everyone and Kim - please get in touch with me!

Big Hugs,

Monday, September 29, 2014

Flash Contest #14 "And the Store Keeps Growing"!

Flash Contest #14 is sponsored by me!!!!  I will put make an ATC for the winner - I'll give you my best work!

The questions are over to the right of the blog page.  It's a fun one!  Good luck!

Please leave your answers (1 per person) attached to this blog post.  The drawing will be Wednesday afternoon.  You have a little over 24 hours to answer the question.  This Flash Contest will be closed at 9:00am Central time Wednesday!  I live in St. Louis if you need to check time zone!

Have fun and good luck!!!

Hugs, Jane

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Time Again for some Sunday Morning Chat!

Hello Everyone! 

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend.  As you know I really love this time of the week.  I prop myself up in a comfy place with loads of pillows, Mike and Tupelo are at the park, the house is quiet, and I get to share our week and our life with you all.

I will share some updates on things at the end of this post, but first I wanted to share part of a story about my life that I am asked about from time to time. This has nothing to do with Mike or Tupelo, this all happened before I ever met them. Many of you have picked up on the fact I lived a short while in Alaska.  Well, I did live there, and it was very brief.  It was in 2004.  The whole experience is quite the story!  For those of you that don't know, I was married for 10 years, long ago.  It took 20 years for me to find Mike, so there was quite the span where I dated and "looked for love".  For about 7 years of that time I travelled all over the US and a bit in London with my job.  Since I was on the move so much, I decided to use the internet to find "Mr. Right".  I didn't really have any ties to St. Louis and since I travelled all the time I decided I didn't need to limit my search to here. Well in early 2004 I met a man on named Fred.  Fred lived in Salcha Alaska.   We spoke all the time and I learned a lot about him.  He was a widower, his wife had sadly passed away from brain cancer at the age of 39 and left behind two girls whom he had adopted and was raising on his own.  He lived on some property and had 30 mushing dogs. He also had 3 children from a previous marriage that were older and gone from the house.  Fred and I spoke for hours every day, we sent thousands of text messages, and it seemed like he was just wonderful.  Since I travelled for work I managed to get a couple business trips up that way and was able to spend some time with him.

Here's where things get interesting... if you've never been to rural Alaska, well, let's just say it's not like the lower 48.  It's beautiful beyond words, but it's hard work to live there.  As you can image it gets very cold so the ground never completely melts, making it very difficult to put a well in, or septic system.  The majority of the rural homes are built by the people who live in them, have outhouses, and many people haul their water from the nearest town and put it in holding tanks attached to their homes.  There are a fair number of home fires because most of the homes are heated with wood stoves.  It's a lot of work to live this way.  For us, we turn on the facet do our thing and pay the bill each month.  In AK, you can turn on the facet, but at some point you're going to have to find more water to put in your water holding tank, and you're going to need more wood to heat your home, and on and on.  Fred's house was a typical AK home, he built it out of logs himself, it had plywood floors (very typical), it had an outhouse (gotta love that at 3:00am when it's 25 below zero out), and was heated with oil stoves. 

By now I had fallen for Fred so I decided I would learn to live the AK way, enjoy the scenery, and the freedom that being so self sustaining gives you.  Despite all the things I've said, I would be leaving part out if I didn't mention how rewarding it does feel to provide for yourself this way.  Fred raised his own pigs and chickens for meat and eggs, he grew a garden for vegetables, and he did all his own meat processing.  He also took a couple trips a year to Valdez to catch Halibut and bring it back home. He had 4 real big chest freezers outside in various places that had more meat and blanched veges then you could imagine.  He kept it all organized and dated.  When the meat got to be one year old, he moved it to the freezer that was for the mushing dogs and fed it to them.  But I have to say, we ate well, very fresh, "clean" food.  You could tell the meat came from animals that had not been given hormones or anti-biotics, and the garden food was so yummy. And to have fresh Halibut..OMG, I ate it all the time, it was so good.   So Fred was very self sufficient and had made his own way.

Let me just say though, I am a lower 48 girl from the Midwest, so this was a major adjustment for me.  But I decided I would go for it. Fred asked me to come live with him and I said Yes.  So for the next 6 months I prepared for my big move.  I sold almost everything I owned.  I had a good size truck already that I drove, but I traded it in for a big One Ton Dually Diesel truck that we bought together.  When the big day rolled around to move, Fred flew to St. Louis and we got in the truck, loaded with what was left of my possessions and made the 7 day drive to Salcha.  That drive is something I will always cherish.  I have see the entire AlCan highway.  I saw so much beauty on that drive I can't begin to describe it all.  I saw herd after herd of Buffalo, and all sorts of other animals.  It was amazing  I wouldn't take that ride back for anything.

We arrived safely in AK and it was now late August 2004.  Life as I knew it was gone, and a new adventure was beginning.  Here is where this story is going to end for today.  Next week I will tell you about my life adventures living there, and the next week I'll share about how I left (that part is a scary story).

Before I signed off for today I did want to give you a few updates in general.

Overall things are going really well.  The store is finding it's stride and the "extra" work that went along with setting it all up is slowing down, and we are no just doing the routine work of filling orders, sending them out, and ordering inventory.  Mike did a fantastic job of setting the store up.  I'm sure most of you either saw the pics on Instagram or saw the video I did of the store.  It's very organized, clean, and well set up.  When orders come in, it's quick and easy to just grab the item you need, wrap it up nicely, run postage and it's ready for the post office run.  All of his hard work is paying off that's for sure.

Thursday was Mary Ann's official first day and she was a huge help.  She really enjoyed it too.  For 35+ years she has sat at a desk doing office work, so to be filling orders, wrapping them, and going to the post office for us, was a nice change of pace for her.  She's really a huge help and our arrangement we have with her is perfect.  Mary Ann doesn't need to work, she is well set financially.  But she likes the idea of having something like this to do a couple times a week and earning a little "mad money".  The nice part for both of us is, if we don't need her for a day or a week, and don't want to spend money from the store to pay her we can just tell her and it's fine.  Likewise, if she has something going on and can't work, she will let us know and it will be fine with us as well.  The hours are equally as flexible, so everyone's happy. 

Mary Ann is a very helpful person too, for example, when she got here last Thursday we finished up a couple of orders we had and she did the post office run.  After she got back we had more orders, so she worked on them, while I did a few other things and then some inventory was delivered that was way to heavy for me to even begin thinking about moving around, but it wasn't for her.  So she brought it all downstairs and we were able to go through it and get it in the store.  Normally I would have had to wait for Mike to come home. So that was great!  When it was time for her to leave she even volunteered to run to the post office one more time on her way home.  This was wonderful because the orders that had just came in, went immediately out!  That's the kind of service we love to give.  So, I think having Mary Ann on board is going to be great for all of us!
Many more things are going on, such as OWH, Gareth's amazing work on Instagam for the store, items I want to add to the store and more - all of which you will find on FB.    I hope you enjoyed today's post. It's a little different then the usual that's for sure!

Love you all!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Project Share - Graphic 45 Mixed Media Box - This is going to one of my September Swap Partners!

Of course my normal swap item is the ATC!  Every month, as most of you know, I swap 5 ATCs with 2 different people.  Well this month I really wanted to make one of these boxes and show you all what one looked like complete. I actually thought it had ATCs inside, but it has photo mats, so it's a wonderful box to have out with photos o display.  So, I asked Erica (CraftingErica) if she would mind if I swapped this box with her in lieu of ATCs.  She graciously allowed me to do so!  Erica, thank you for that!!! I hope you love it!

I used loads of product from Mike's store.  You can click on the link to Mike's store either at the bottom of this page, or over in the left margin and it will take you right there.  Below are some photos, and below the photos is the product list.  I hope you all love it!!!  Oh, and I'm sure you all know there is a series of videos I recorded making it on my YT channel!

Here's a list of what I used:
Graphic 45 5x5 Black Mixed Media box
Graphic 45 Raining Cats and Dogs 8x8 pad of paper
Graphic 45 Silver Shabby Chic Ornate Metal Keys
Graphic 45 Silver Shabby Chic Ornate Metal Key Holes
Canvas Corp Twine (we have natural and chocolate)
Scotch Quick Dry Tacky Glue
Art Glitter Glue
Art Glitter Glue Metal Tip
Heat Resistant Acetate
Versacolor Pigment Ink (for embossing)
Lindy's Stamp Gang Embossing Powder
Black Soot Distress Ink Pad
Ink Blending Tool (Mike made)
Tim Holtz Craft Pick
Tim Holtz Distress Glitter - Clear Rock Candy
Assorted Flowers

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