Idyll Musings

The daily adventures of a bookselling family.

Idyll (n) - a short prose piece depicting a rural or pastoral scene in idealized terms; a carefree episode or experience; a romantic interlude; a scene or event of a simple and tranquil nature.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Spread the Alarm, To Every Middlesex, Village and Farm"

This, of course, is borrowed from Longfellow's Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, written April 19, 1860 and first published in 1863 as part of "Tales of a Wayside Inn."

We need this blog to circulate. Ideally, we need it to reach as many people with connections to Prescott Valley as possible. You may not know anyone in Prescott Valley personally, but who knows who your friends and relatives know? We need this to circulate because we need help. Read this blog for the month of September and you'll see the nightmare we are in. Andrea, the kids and I just want a place to call home, a place to MAKE our home. It is my hope that someone will read this and be able to help us find "our home." We thought we had found it when we moved out here, we honestly did. We were basically scammed from the beginning.

What we want is what we thought we moved out here for: 4 bedrooms, an extra room for an office, a little bit of land to play on and to garden; a quiet, safe neighborhood. Even an old farmhouse with the right amount of space we could consider. We have solid, reliable income, but shaky credit related to actions and events in previous marriages for both of us. We would like to keep payments at or about $1200 - $1300. And we want a lease with an option to buy situation, with a property owner willing to work with us.

So please, spread the your relatives, friends, coworkers, business associates.


"Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics"

Many people are familliar with this quote; many people attribute it to Mark Twain. Though Twain did popularize it, he himself credits Benjamin Disraeli, author, British conservative statesman and the 1st Earl of Beaconsfield. The remark refers to the power of numbers, and how they can be used to make a weak arguement seem stronger. Twain's use of the phrase was in "Chapters From My Autobiography," published in the North American Review in 1907. He wrote,

"Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

I had this quote in mind as I sat in the mediation room yesterday and had to, once again, listen to the Property Owner (P.O.) lie, twist the facts, make up numbers, take things out of context, and paint herself as the poor victim in our housing dispute. Lies about what was agreed upon, what she knew before we moved out here....and the evidence of her lies was sitting in a pile of emails right in front of the mediators!!! And did they once go to look anything up for verification? NO!!

For example, P.O. says that she didn't know we had pets until we arrived. Here is a copy of the original post we made on Craigslist, back on May 20:

"Relocating from Massachusetts to Prescott, AZ
We are a family of 6 who is relocating to Arizona this summer due to job transfer. We are looking for a 4-5 bedroom house, or a 4 bedroom with a den that can be used as an office, that is close to Prescott High School and Granite Mountain Middle School. We have 3 pets: 2 short haired cats, and a 2 year old Chihuahua. We are hoping to find something that is a lease with an option to buy. Something with a fenced backyard would be nice. We are a quiet family and can provide excellent references. "

She responded to OUR post with this email on June 3:

"my husband and i have a house that is almost finished being remodled. it has 4 bedrooms total the lay out you could use on of manny places for an office. in the master sweet upstairs there is a living room and a loft. the house has a block wall around it the house sits on a quarter acre. the property has grass and very lots of fulley mature trees. the fourth bedroom is actually a in law quarter with its own bathroom bedroom kitchen and living room, also has its own laundry hook up. there is no garage but there is plenty of room for parking even enough room for an RV and your vehicles. if you would like pics e-mail or call xxxxxxxxx at xxx xxx-xxxx we would allow pets the house has a dog door. "

SHE KNEW WE HAD PETS!!!! And that is just one example of her lies, damned lies and statistics.

As you can see, I'm, angry. I'm damn angry. I vascillate mainly between angry and depressed, but right now I'm angry. I'm angry at the P.O. I'm angry at the court. I'm angry at the mediators, both of whom I got into heated exchanges with. They told my attorney I was being extremely volatile. Well you know what? Try walking in my shoes for the 3100 miles we drove to get out here, try walking in my shoes for the last three months, and le's see how volatile YOU get! What really peeved me was when one of the mediators told us we "wanted our cake and to eat it too," in response to the negotiations. He was claiming that we weren't willing to "give" anything in the negotiations. Oh, really? Let's see.... we moved out here with an agreement that we would rent for one year, then consider exercising our option to buy the property. At the time Mr. Mediator #1 made his enflaming statement, we had conceded to drop the purchase option, we agreed to pay a utility bill that included their use of the utilities during construction work on the house, and offered to move out at the end of January. Are we really celebrating with the proverbial cake? I don't think so!

P.O. wants us out by the end of October. We wanted to be able to get through the holidays and move out at the end of January. P.O. wouldn't agree. So after a break and discussion with our attorney, we came back and offerred to 'split the difference.' We'll move at the end of November. She won't agree to this unless we are more flexible as to her having the work completed on the house. We agred to come back on Friday for one final attempt to come to an agreement. If no agreement on Friday, it's back to court we go (Hi Ho, Hi Ho).

Why can't people be honest, and live up to agreements?


Monday, September 22, 2008

Mediation....and Meditation

We made it through the court appearance last Monday. After hearing the property owmer speak (lie) her piece, the judge glanced over the evidence and suggested that, before we proceed any further, we attempt to resolve the issues through mediation. He also said that, if mediation fails, that this case will have to be referred to Superior Court, because he lacks jurisdiction, due to their being a purchase option in place. So, this is where we are at. Today we head back to the courthouse to attempt mediation.

Listening to the multiple times the property owner (P.A.) perjured herself durning her testimony was the final straw, the deciding factor; we know we will not be able to work with these people going forward. The web of deceit that they weave, the constant attempts to manipulate, initimdate and use us for their own gain, all of this behavior proves to us these are not people we want to be associated with in any form, especially linked in a contract situation.

This realization is hard to swallow. This house 'felt' like home to us. During our preparations for the long trip out here, we honestly felt that God was leading us to this house. Now, we feel lost. We poured so much into making this 'our home;' so much sweat, tears, and, yes, a little bit of blood too. We took pride in knowing we could walk into ANY room of the house and point to something that we personally helped with: whather it was the paint on the walls, the placement of the cabinets, the cutting the granite countertops, we put our stamp on this house. Only when it was too late did we fully realize the depth of the P.A.'s decitful and uncaring heart and soul.

Sure, we could"win" in mediation today, or we could "win" in Superior Court, but do we really? We still have to find another place to live, we still have to reassure our upset and troubled children (who have already battled through so much adversity and sadness in their life before we moved). We still have to find a way to lift ourselves, dust ourselves off and start all over again. So even if the court says we are right, we really don't "win."

It would still mean so much to hear from anyone out there who happens to come across my blog. It continues to be a very lonely ride for us right now.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Latest Chapter in the Housing Saga

Just to give you an update…we were served with court papers today. We go to court on 9/16, and if we lose, we will have 48 hrs to vacate. If we aren’t packed up, they can have us forcibly removed and all our belongings held in storage by the landlord.
We found an attorney, and are meeting tomorrow, but we are still without the necessary retainer fee. We make too much money for legal aid. I have asked family for help.
Andrea and I are very depressed. This on top of just coming home from the hospital where Andrea’s latest round of tests were not good at all.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Relocation Update

I wish I could say that "many of the readers out there," but I know our readership numbers are pretty darn low; that's ok. I know that the more I post, the more I will be read. So instead, let me start by saying," Those of you who noticed my blog this spring," and may have wondered where we went, the answer is Prescott Valley, AZ. Yes, we survived the eight day road trip with two adults, 4 kids, two cats and a dog and are now trying to settle in. I hope to get back to book related posts in the future. But for now I have something personally more urgent I want to write about. We are just going through an incredibly stressful and nightmarish time right now with the house that we are living in.
This past spring, we posted an ad on craigslist, advertising who we were and what we were looking for in a house. On June 3, we were contacted by the people that own the house we are now in. They told us on 6/3 that they had a house that was “nearly completely remodeled” and they wanted to rent it to us. Many emails and conversations later, we had an agreement for renting for a year with an option to buy after that. We stayed in constant contact with them, they would contact us and tell us they were going to pick up tile for the floor and ask us what color we wanted; they would ask our preferences on appliances; they kept telling us they wanted as much of our input as possible, that they wanted us to feel like this was “our home.” They even talked about being Christians, and how it feels that God brought us together, etc. etc.
We left Massachusetts on July 21. They told us the house would be ready when we got there, that all we would have to do is unpack. We spoke with them several times during our drive, and again they assured us everything would be ready. Our last day of driving we really pushed ourselves, despite Andrea being sick, because we were so close, and we “just wanted to get to our new home.”
When we finally got here – we were heartbroken. The house wasn’t close to being done. Most of the walls were still down to drywall. There was no kitchen. There were only two working electrical circuits. There were no cabinets. Out of the three bathrooms, not one was fully functional. None of the bedrooms were completed. The a/c units weren’t even installed. We had to go out and buy a grill just so we could cook meals. Andrea was in tears, and I wasn’t too far from them myself. We had a decision to make, so we called a family meeting. We explained to the kids how we felt, including how misled we were, and said we could do one of two things: leave, find a motel for the night, and contact realtors the next morning and see what else we could find quick; or we could roll up our sleeves, work with the homeowners and get this house finished. Everyone chose to work at this house. Knowing the satisfaction we would have down the road, when we owned the house to know that we put sweat equity into making this our home, that we actually helped to rebuild this house. And that’s what we did. We mudded drywall, we hammered in bullnose, we cut and installed granite countertops, we hung cabinets, we painted, we cleaned, all six of us.
Around August 18 – 20, we were finally able to start unpacking. During all this time, the homeowners kept telling us they couldn’t charge us any rent because the house wasn’t ready for us.

On August 29, the homeowner showed up at the house with a written lease agreement that she wanted us to sign. She also now wanted a check for the month of August, and would be back the following week for a check for the month of September! She was irate that we wanted to actually read the agreement first, and after reading it we know why: EVERYTHING HAD CHANGED! Every agreement that we had in place before we drove 3100 miles was different. Instead of a year lease, now it was month-to-month. Instead of $1600 a month for six months and $1800 a month for the next six months, it was $1600 until October 1, then $2075 a month after that! She was insisting on being able to come into the house every month and inspect the property. She said she was going to put the house on the market in October, and we had to have our financing in place by then if we wanted to buy it (the original agreement had us renting for a year, and if we liked the house and the area, we could purchase from her, and that she would hold the note until we qualified for bank financing.).
When we refused to sign this lease, insisting instead that we had an agreement in place already, she told us that her financial situation has changed, and that this is her house and if we didn’t like it we could pack up and leave! We told her we needed time to review the contract. Over the weekend, we informed her that we rejected her proposed lease, and that we felt a lease was already in place (AZ law recognizes verbal contracts as an acceptable form of lease). So then we receive a notice to pay or quit from her, which is even different than the bogus lease she brought over to the house!!

Things have just gotten worse from there. We had property in the front yard knocked over while we were out, she called the police and filed a bogus harassment report against us, she’s threatening to take us to court…. We have done some investigating too, and what we found is scary: the homeowner and her husband have both criminal and civil records; both have violent pasts, and the husband served time in jail for premeditated attempted murder. He came up behind someone one night and bashed him in the head twice with a sledge hammer, because a couple of weeks prior, the victim embarrassed and made this guy look bad in front of friends at a party. More investigations at City Hall and we find that the house has not even passed final inspection. We called the building inspector out and he came up with a list three pages long of violations, including any that are “life safety concerns.” The house has not been issued a Certificate of Occupancy, and the town tells us that, by law, they should not be renting it out to anyone. Yet they contacted us on June 3 and said they had a “nearly completely remodeled” house!
I could go on and on with more details, but this is enough to give you an idea of what we are going through. We contacted attorneys who are more than willing to fight this, but $225 an hour and a $3000 retainer is out of our league. We spent nearly $5000 to get out here, we don’t have money for an attorney. The stress has affected our health, especially Andrea who suffers from multisystem sarcoidosis, the same disease that Bernie Mac had.
People have asked us why we just don’t move. It’s not that easy. One, we feel we have a lease in place already, so if we move we kind of acknowledge that no agreement existed. Two, the move out here took so much out of us: financially, emotionally, mentally. We just don’t have the energy to move again; three, the disruption it would cause the kids, who after starting school late because of this mess are finally settling into a routine. And four, the fact is, we like this house and want to stay here. It’s those people we don’t like.
So we don’t know what we are going do. We are scared, tired and just want some peace. We didn’t move out here for this. They said all the right things on the phone and in emails before we came out here. They even told us they were a Christian family too, and that “God brought us together.” A bunch of B.S. was all that was. We are Christians, and yes, we feel God wants us to be in this house. But all they did was ‘talk the talk’ to get us out here, get us trapped with nowhere to go, and then they thought they could scam and swindle us.
We don’t know what to do. We don’t know anyone out here, we don’t have family in AZ, we have no one. We contacted a local church, and they continue to pray for us, but I just wish people would come to our defense and rally around us. I even tried contacting a local newspaper and a local tv station, but neither were interested in getting involved.
We miss our book business, and wish that we could get it up and running again, but life is on such a state of upheaval right now…..
We are doing all we can to stay positive, and strong, and we are doing what we can to stand up for our rights, but it’s so hard when you feel so isolated, and so alone in the struggle.

I know we don't have a lot of people reading our blog, but for those who do, we would love to hear from you. It would mean a lot to us if you would drop us an email, or a comment, and if you had any advice or suggestions, it would help us not feel so alone. Thanks.