A meandering blog with no clear topic. You will find me talking about knitting, building, kids, social and economic issues, Alaska, and lots of other stuff.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

We Wish You a Merry Christmas....

We had a great Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we took the kids to see a gingerbread village, that was just huge. It was set up on a table that must have been at least 12 feet square. I don't think I have ever seen so much candy in one place in my entire life. Here is one small section of it:

Christmas morning was the typical glut of presents, followed by the typical glut of food. The highlight of the day was this:

It came walking out from under our Christmas tree with red ribbon around his neck like a collar. It is a very young kitty, and the kids absolutely adore him. I am already tired of breaking up fights over who gets to hold him now. As of yet, he has no name. He just goes by "kitty".

Oh, and remember the secret thing I was knitting that I didn't post pics of? They are knitted and felted snowmen. I made one for my mother and one for my mother in law. Here they are:

Well, gotta run... going up to the land to see how much mud we can get up in the next three days. I'll keep you posted. And, since I won't be back until late on the evening of the first,


Saturday, December 22, 2007

today is 2 seconds longer than yesterday!

So, yesterday was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. From sunrise to sunset was 5 hours, 25 minutes, and 58 seconds. The sun rose at 10:15 and set at 3:42. And to make it worse, it was very overcast, so there was no sun visible at all. At this point in the year, even when the sun is out, it is very low on the southern horizon all day... if you drive south at all, you have to put the visor down, because it is right in your eyes. And once it sets, it gets dark very quickly.

For those of you that don't live in Alaska, you probably don't pay that much attention to how long or short your day is from sunrise to sunset. I didn't before we moved here. But I do now. It is amazing how much of a difference it makes. I now understand why the bears hibernate all winter. All I want to do most of the time is sleep. I go to work in the dark. My kids walk to school in the dark. When they come home from school, it is getting dark. And when I get home from work, it has been dark for hours.

But it is all getting better. Today is 2 seconds longer than yesterday. Tomorrow will be 15 seconds longer than today. And the day after will be 26 seconds, and then 38 seconds, and then 51 seconds..... and pretty soon it will be light all the time, and it will be glorious.

I didn't plan well enough this year, but I think next year, we will have a solstice party. When you live in Alaska, it is something to celebrate.

Friday, December 14, 2007

the story of stuff

Here is a very interesting video about the lifecycle of the things we buy. It is also a powerful (I think, anyway) argument for why we should try to buy less. Remember the old saying "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without"? Enjoy.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

beaded cable socks

Got another pair of socks finished:

I posted a pic of these socks in progress back when I first started blogging. (See http://lifeonthelastfrontier.blogspot.com/2007/07/on-needles.html.) I bought the yarn and beads last May, when I was in Utah, at a wonderful little yarn store in Ogden, although I can't remember now what it is called. The yarn is a combination of wool and bamboo, and is very soft. I have heard that yarn with bamboo wears for a long time. We will see. I am really pleased with these socks. They were fun to make, they are pretty, and they feel great on my feet.

Here is a close up of the bead and cable pattern:

Saturday, December 8, 2007

its been a long time....

I know, I haven't blogged in ages. I have been working a lot of overtime, am behind on housework, and have no new pictures of cabin construction. So what has happened in my life since the last time I blogged?

I turned 38.

My daughter turned 8, and had a party. Her and her friends played twister:

ate pizza, cake and ice cream, and opened presents:

watched a movie (Meet the Robinsons), and generally had a good time.

While in Utah, I borrowed a keyboard from my best friend, and I am now also diligently trying to teach myself to play it. I very much want a piano, but while in the midst of building a house, we don't have the spare $2,000 it would take to buy one, and not knowing how to play it makes it difficult to justify spending the money on one. So I will learn the basics, and tuck away a little money here and there into my savings account, and then buy one. :) And James will find out when he comes home from work and it is sitting in the living room. Better to beg forgiveness than ask permission, right? Besides, he has fair warning. Ever since the wall between the bathroom and living room went up, I have been telling him the piano will go on that wall.

And I have been working on knitting Christmas presents. I can't put pictures of what I am working on up, because that would give away the surprise for several relatives. But once they have been received by the intended recipients, I will post them.

As I type this, James is up at the cabin working on drywall and mud. It is very warm today, so he is hoping the kerosene heater will heat up the cabin enough to do mud. Normally I would be up there with him, but I am prevented by a huge mound of dirty laundry in my bathroom that needs to be washed. And if I don't work on it all day, and force my children to help me, no laundry will get done this weekend, and no one will have any clean clothes to wear to work or school. Which, in the eyes of my 8 year old, would be a major catastrophe.

So, I better go start a load of laundry.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

warm weather

So, the week before Thanksgiving I was in Utah. I could not believe how warm it was. Check this out:

70 degrees! And almost no snow in the mountains:

And while I was there, I talked to several people, none of whom I want to offend, as they are my family and close friends, about global warming. And none of them believe it is really happening. Even though it was seventy degrees in November.

The news about global warming is getting more and more grim. Check this article out:


People keep saying that there is a lot of debate in the scientific community regarding whether global warming is real, or if it is really caused by human activity. Maybe five years ago, that was true. But a lot of work has been done on the subject in the last two or three years, and it's pretty clear. It's really happening, we caused it, and if we don't do something to fix it, NOW, we are in serious trouble.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


So, I was in Utah last week. I flew from Anchorage to Salt Lake nonstop, on the red eye. Before takeoff, while waiting to be de-iced the second time, the pilot announced over the loudspeaker that he knew it was a red-eye, so he wouldn't be on the loudspeaker a lot. I thought that was great.

So, we take off, and it was pretty bumpy. Bumpy enough that I was glad to get some altitude. The pilot came on the loudspeaker, and said since it was rough, he would leave the fasten seatbelt sign on until we reached cruising altitude. OK.

Periodically, throughout the rest of the flight, we hit turbulence. The flight was bumpy more than it was smooth. I would have been fine with that, except for the pilot. The fasten seatbelt light would turn off. Then we would hit some roughness, and it would come back on, and the pilot would tell us on the loudspeaker that the fasten seat belt sign had been turned on. Then it would turn off. Then we would hit some roughness.....

This continued for the entire five hour flight. I would have been much more content if he had simply said before take off, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be a rough flight tonight. Please keep your seat belts on for the duration, unless you have an urgent need to go to the lavatory." And left it at that. At least I might have gotten some sleep.

Monday, November 12, 2007


There is a lot going on in the world recently, and much of it has me worried. On NPR on Friday, one expert stated unequivocally that if the world remains on the path it is on, in 30 to 50 years, no one will live in a first world society. (http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/11/09/consumed1_pm_3/) There are many issues confronting us as a society right now. There are so many, in fact, that I do not think we will have the ability, or maybe just the political will, to solve them. I decided to start a list. Bear with me. Or not.

Global warming. I know you all have heard me preach about this before, but I think it is becoming increasingly obvious that it is going to have a much larger effect that most of us expected, and in a much shorter period of time. Global warming has many side effects, including increasing drought in places like Australia and the US Southwest, Midwest and South, rising sea level, which threatens many coastal cities worldwide, decreasing arctic and Antarctic ice cover, migration of species away from the equator, and so on.

Peak oil. Peak oil, for those of you that haven’t heard of it, is the point at which the production of crude oil is at its highest point. The idea is that there is only so much oil in the ground, and when you get about half of it out, the rest becomes harder and slower. More expensive too. There are many websites out there that talk about whether peak oil is coming sooner or later (my guess is sooner), and what the effects will be. The biggest problem is that at some point, whether it is actually at the peak of production or not, is that demand (which is still growing globally) will at some point begin to outstrip supply. This makes oil both scarce (think gas station lines and rationing) and more expensive (anyone notice the price of crude oil lately????) If we have not found acceptable, workable alternatives that can be ramped up in sufficient quantities to replace our thirst for oil, we are going to be in a huge crunch. The concept of peak also applies to natural gas, coal, and other energy sources.

Water. As a side effect of global warming, there is increasing drought in many areas. Also, it causes more of the rain that does fall to be lost to evaporation. Snow packs in many mountain ranges, which supply fresh water to many cities and agricultural areas, are decreasing. Meanwhile, many of the cities that depend on this snowpack are expanding rapidly, such as Las Vegas. The Ogallala aquifer, the main water supply for the plains states, is declining rapidly. It is being used up much faster than it is being recharged, in some places being used 100 times faster than it is being recharged.

Financial problems. As you may have noticed watching the news recently, things are not looking so good for the financial sector. With the mortgage mess, which seems to be expanding in scope, and affecting much of the rest of the credit market, the downturn in real estate generally, stocks faring terribly, inflation running rampant (although the core inflation rate doesn’t count those necessities, food and energy, that are quickly becoming noticeably more expensive), etc. I think we are in for a nasty recession. Apparently, much of the world agrees, if you notice how valuable our dollar is to the rest of the world right now. This would not be an insurmountable problem by itself; we have had money problems before. But it makes it harder to address the things that need to be addressed.

Agriculture. This is related to many of the items above, but important enough to talk about it by itself. Agriculture, at least the way most US corporate farmers practice it, is heavily dependent on two things: water (duh) and oil. With one farm having acres and acres of corn, wheat, etc. to care for, tractors and other mechanized equipment that run on some derivative of oil, are essential. Also, most people don’t realize this, but natural gas is a necessity for the production of fertilizer. Natural gas has also peaked on this continent. Researchers have found that it takes an average of 10 calories worth of petroleum to get one calorie of food to our plate. Then there is the effect of global warming and water shortage, which also deeply affect our ability to produce food. And then there is top soil loss adding into the problem. Our ability to produce enough food to feed us all is becoming seriously compromised. And then we go and send who knows how much corn to the ethanol plants.

Oceans. They are becoming acidic, thanks to the excess carbon they are soaking up. Their dead zones, courtesy of fertilizer and topsoil runoff, causing algae blooms that deplete the oxygen from the water, are making more and more of our oceans uninhabitable to the species that normally live there. Oil spills, such as what happened with the Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound, and more recently as the San Francisco Bay spill over the weekend, and the spill in Russia last week, although thankfully relatively rare, are damaging to the oceanic ecosystem when they occur. Also, studies are showing that we are overfishing, to the point of depletion, many of our fisheries. By the middle of the century, scientists report that the current global trend projects the collapse of all species of wild seafood that are currently fished by the year 2050 (collapse is defined as 90 percent depletion). Even Alaska’s wild salmon fishery, which is closely regulated, and receives awards for sustainability, cannot continue if the other species are fished out, as the ecosystem becomes so damaged as to be unable to sustain them.

Other natural resources. Many minerals, metals, and other natural resources are becoming increasingly difficult to mine, with progressively smaller concentrations of the needed substances in the ore. Phosphate, necessary for fertilizer, uranium, copper, and many more are becoming increasingly scarce and difficult to mine. If we are to make the shift away from fossil fuels, it will be increasingly difficult, for example, to build solar panels without the silicone and other minerals they require. This simply compounds the problem.

In a nutshell, we are simply using too much of everything. I think I could make a much longer list, but that is enough to give me a headache. We have completely outstripped the ability of our planet to sustain us. Unless we make immediate drastic changes, our kids are looking at a much less hospitable world than the one we grew up in. And you know, I like my kids. And I have a feeling I will like my grandkids. I don’t want them to suffer because of our choices. But that is where we are headed. So I am worried.


Maybe. Or maybe not. I have mentioned in my blog before that there is ALWAYS snow by Halloween, and that by then, it stays for good, until about April. Well, there wasn't. In fact, for the last several weeks, we have been about 15 degrees warmer than normal, with no snow. Well, it snowed this weekend, while we were up at our cabin, and it was wonderful. The kids got to play in the 3" or so we got, and it was very nice to be snug and warm in our cabin while it was snowing outside. (We have a kerosene heater we are using until we get the wood stove installed.) So it was looking like winter was finally here. My kids got up this morning totally excited about FINALLY being able to wear their snow pants to school. I got up this morning totally excited about taking winter pictures and posting them on the blog, and bragging to all and sundry about our wonderful snow. Then I went outside to put my youngest on the bus for school.
What? What is that sound? That.... dripping.... sound? Oh, it is the snow MELTING. It is not cold enough today for our snow to stay snowy. It is turning into yucky, mushy, wet slush. Dammit.

cabin plans

In case anyone is curious:


Another blurry picture, this one of the wall in our living room, WITH SHEETROCK ON IT. This was taken with the crappy camera in James's cell phone, as I forgot to bring the new digital camera for the second weekend in a row. We have a lot of sheetrock done: the really hard part of the vaulted ceiling, the short walls upstairs, the entire front wall of the loft (the one with the window in it), one piece in the kitchen, the living room side of the bathroom, and the entire north wall of the house (as seen in the picture). But we still have a LOT to go. It will probably take a couple more weekends to get the rest of the sheetrock done. But we are hoping to spend Thanksgiving weekend up there, and get all the sheetrock, taping and mudding done. Cross your fingers. Mine are.

I was talking about the hard part of the vaulted ceiling. That was what got sheetrocked first, because the rented scaffold had to go back. These lovely pieces of sheetrock hang on the ceiling about 20 feet above the living room. We had to carry each 4' x 8' piece of sh... uh... sheetrock up the stairs, pass it over the railing for the loft onto the scaffolding and climb up a ladder. Then, James would hold this huge, heavy piece of sheetrock in place while I quickly darted around with the drywall gun putting screws into it to hold it up before his arms gave out. That was the plan, anyway.

The sad reality is that up until that point, I had never done drywall, and had never used the drywall gun. I hate to admit this, but I have shied away from power tools to a large extent, and am hopelessly inept in their use. (I think this dates to seeing my sister's paternal grandfather missing some fingers from an accident with a saw. It scarred me for life. Him too, in a more literal sense.) Anyway, I had a hard time working the drywall gun. There was one memorable moment when his temper gave out about the same time as his arms and a 4' x 8' piece of drywall got thrown across the house.

I don't feel too bad about my aversion to power tools. My mom doesn't do ladders. Ladders don't bother me for the most part, as long as they stay where you put them. I don't do power tools. I just don't see any benefit to putting any part of my body within range of something sharp that is moving rapidly. But when there is only you, and stuff needs to get done, you do it, regardless. And the ceiling? It's up. And James says that once it is taped and mudded, you won't even be able to tell that we did a crappy job.

After that ordeal, the rest was a piece of cake.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Good grades!

Got my kids report cards this past week, and nothing but good news to report! Becky, in second grade, got all S and S+'s. (S standing for Satisfactory). She got O's (Outstanding) in Art and Music. Not surprised at all, as she is our little artist, who also loves to sing funny, quirky little songs, often at the top of her lungs. In kindergarten, she had one of her pieces of artwork displayed in the local museum. Here is a (blurry) picture of it:

Ryan, amazingly, got all A's and B's. There is a story behind this. Ever since second grade I have been advocating for him to be placed in the gifted program. They keep telling me he isn't qualified due to poor grades, and he has behavior problems. I continue to insist that his behavior problems and poor grades are because he is bored. Challenge him, I have argued, and both of those things will go away. I have been hoping that the school district would figure this out before his disillusionment with school became irreversible. Well, this school year, he progressed to middle school. In 5th and 6th grades, he got all F's and D's. The teachers all said the only reason they passed him each year was because they knew he was bright enough to do the work, and it wouldn't do him any good to hold him back. When I scheduled his classes for this year, I managed to get him placed in the gifted "team" (a team is a group of kids that has most of their classes together), and he is in all gifted classes. So I was ecstatic to come home from work night after night to find him doing homework. And even more ecstatic to see all A's and B's on his report card. Not to mention vindicated.

And when I saw his elementary school principal at the school carnival for Becky, I couldn't help but rub her nose in it. Of course, she completely failed to realize that I was saying "I told you so".

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

wild wild west

This is an incredibly scary article for anyone living in the West, especially in the states that get their water from the Colorado River Basin, including Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and California. Looks like there soon won't be enough to go around.

insulation and more

This is a picture of the insulation on our roof. We also have it on our walls. Our house will stay warm. The only place not yet insulated is the vaulted portion of our back wall and ceiling. We will do that this weekend, after we move our scaffolding inside. We also have our stairs done, along with the framing for the stair and loft walls:

We have a deadbolt on our front door, and a key. We do not yet have a doorknob. The cabin is wired for electricity, for if we ever hook it up. The septic tank is in. So we have made a lot of progress in the last couple weeks. This weekend, we will finish the last bits of insulation, install the PECS pipes for water flow, install vapor barrier on the ceiling, and start sheetrocking.

I am hoping I can convince James that now is the time to install the wood stove. I was out there for three days and nights this past weekend, and with only a small kerosene heater running a couple hours a day, and temps in the 20's and 30's, it was quite chilly.

Speaking of cold, it looks like our house will become one of those Alaskan icons, at least for a season: we will have house wrap visible on our house all winter. There is another reason that you see Tyvek houses in Alaska... it gets cold before the siding is done. It is too cold for us to paint our siding, so we are waiting til spring.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

arctic warming


I know, I know, I have talked about this before. But it continues to concern me. The last time I talked about this, it was only being mentioned in a website for a university. Now the same information is being talked about on msnbc.com. The sea ice loss this year is catastrophic. But we are also losing tundra and permafrost. The arctic is changing at an increasingly rapid pace.

Further, studies now are showing that it may be too late to prevent a 2 degree rise in global temperatures. 2 degrees is the threshold experts are saying is dangerous to cross, due to feedback loops, and it may be that the only way to stop it is to completely eliminate all industrial emissions.


Maybe in a few years I will try growing peaches here in Alaska.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

amazing progress

Here you see, from left to right, the WINDOWS for the arctic entry, the dining room, and the kitchen. At the moment, as you can see, even though it is only about 35 degrees, the window in the arctic entry is open. This is because the children have been throwing pieces of scrap wood out of it into a pile, as their father generates said scrap inside.

For those outsiders that may not know, when you walk into the house, you are in a small room, with a shut door. In the winter this prevents cold outside air from blowing in and warm inside air from leaving when you open the front door. You sit down on the convenient bench and remove your coat and boots, thereby also keeping all the snow, rain, leaves, mud, whatever, in that small space. Much easier to mop a 5 x 7 room than the entire house. This is an arctic entry. Arctic entrys are generally not directly heated, but do get some heat radiated through the walls, as the interior walls are not insulated, but the exterior walls are. They tend to be cooler than the rest of the house, but much warmer than outside.


Housewrap, windows, and even a front door! There is no door handle on the door yet, but it is in a package waiting to be opened and installed. Note that the housewrap is Lowe's not Tyvek. In Alaska, for whatever reason, Tyvek is very popular. You will see houses that have obviously been standing for a long time, that have OSB and Tyvek housewrap, but no siding. The housewrap is thus generally torn and fluttering in the wind. This is a typical architectural feature of the Alaskan bush house, and means that the homeowner either got broke or tired.

Do you see the white stuff on the ground in both of these pictures? This is our first snowfall of the year. It is only about a quarter of an inch, but it counts.

This afternoon, we were working on the interior of the house, specifically the stairs. See the talented and hardworking carpenter fixing making adjustments to the stair jacks:

Here is what they looked like when I left today:

I talked to James a little bit ago, and he says he has gotten the treads on the stair jacks now, so that they can be walked on.

last weekend

This is where we were last weekend:

We were finishing putting OSB on the walls of the cabin. Here's Steven, looking out of the second floor.

Where Steven is standing is the area where our water tank will be. We have a 150 gallon water tank that we will have filled up by a water truck every so often throughout the winter, until the ground thaws enough to have the well dug. It is up on the second story in order to provide at least a small amount of pressure, so that when we turn on the faucet in the kitchen sink, water will actually come out of it. We are going to be learning lots about water conservation, I am sure. I am hoping we won't have to have it filled more than once every other week or so. I will be very happy to have the well dug, however, as I hate to rely on someone with a truck for something as essential as water.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

not looking good down under


I have heard for a while about the drought in Australia, and that it is affecting the wheat harvest. I didn't realize, however, that Australian farmers have already lost 40% of their harvest. That is really, really, bad. Wheat stores worldwide are already at a low level not seen in at least 26 years, and Australia is not the only part of the world facing drought and crop loss. And as global warming intensifies, it will only get worse.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

embossed leaves socks

Got another pair of socks finished. These are for me. This is the first pair of lace type socks I have made, and I am very happy with them. I used Koigu KPPPM yarn for them, which was another first for me. This turned out to be a very soft, luscious yarn, and the socks are cushy and soft in the hand, and extremely comfortable on my feet. Here's a closer look at the detail on the leaves:

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Karen, my mother-in-law, celebrated her birthday on the first. I made her a pair of socks for her birthday. These are cotton socks, as she is allergic to wool.

When I called her to wish her happy birthday, I had to regretfully inform her that her birthday present was not yet finished. Now they are, and I am going to try to make it to the post office tomorrow. Especially since my mother's birthday is coming up on the 7th, and I need to get her present in the mail as well....


Steven's picture day was today. Last night, we took him to get his hair cut. It looked great. He went to school today, and got his picture taken. Then tonight I ran out to the store, came home, and he had found scissors.

the big push

Well, PFD's came in today. For those outsiders reading this, that is the Permanent Fund Dividend. Oil money. Every Alaskan gets paid once a year, thanks to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. This year was a significant windfall, and we are going to put it to good use.

James is taking the rest of the month off from work, and is going to live up at our property, and push hard to get the cabin done. The rest of us will join him on weekends, and continue our normal lives in Anchorage during the week, with school, work, etc.

It is very odd, this dichotomous life we live. We spend 2/3 of our week living in one city, and the other 1/3 in another. And with James gone all the time, it will seem even stranger. I think it will be a good thing for our family when we no longer have lives in two separate places.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

termination dust

I talked about this in a couple of my posts recently, but didn't have a good picture to show you. Here you go.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

leaves are falling all around

on the rooftops
on the ground...

As you can see, it's fall. Back at the beginning of the month, when I was talking about the "summer" switch being turned off, I was right. We never got summer again after August 31.

Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been bad. We have had some beautiful sunny days that we have very much enjoyed. But the temp hasn't gotten above 65 since then, and it won't until next summer. Today, the high was 54, which is still acceptable t-shirt weather, but the lows are in the low 40's, high 30's. We will have frost by the end of this coming week.

I absolutely love fall. It is one of my favorite seasons, the others being winter, spring (aka "breakup" in Alaska) and summer. One of the interesting things about Alaskan weather is that we have four very distinct seasons, despite the jokes, but spring and fall pass very quickly. For example, fall began unequivocably on September 1st. It will end sometime around October 15th, when the snow starts to fall, and things freeze for good. But during the month and a half of fall, I enjoy it immensely. I love looking at the yellow leaves on the birch trees, and the snow on the mountains...

And I start to look forward to the first snowfall. It won't be long.

OK, so I mentioned the jokes, so I will share some.

What are Alaska's two seasons? Winter, and road construction.

What are Alaska's four seasons? almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction.

so, here is a link to some great Alaska jokes. Trouble is, they are mostly true. Like the one about driving in winter is better, because the potholes are filled with snow. I have said that numerous times. Anyway, enjoy the link:

Thursday, September 27, 2007



A fertilizer factory here in Alaska, which has provided jobs for up to 300 people, has shut down. You can read about it in the link above, and I heard about it on NPR this morning as I was driving to work. It's not shutting down because it is losing money, not profitable, as is the case for most businesses that don't succeed. It is shutting down because fertilizer is made from natural gas, and there isn't enough. Not enough natural gas. Natural gas is what heats 52% of US homes, is what generates about 20% of our current electricity, and accounts for 95% of all new power plants in the planning/building stages. And there is not enough.

Two winters ago, it shut down for a month due to a shortage of natural gas to make the fertilizer. Last year, it shut down for the entire winter, and reopened in the summer when there was less demand elsewhere for natural gas for heat. This year, it shut its doors for good.

Is this worrisome to anyone else but me? I guess it all boils down to the feeling I have that if there isn't enough natural gas, and there isn't enough oil, and there aren't enough solar, wind, tide, hydroelectric, or other means of power generation to cover, then we are heading for a pretty big mess.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Northwest Passage????

Check out this National Geographic article:


OK, so this seems pretty crazy to me. The northwest passage is open? Arctic sea ice loss this year has been nothing short of catastrophic:

"The NH [Northern Hemisphere] sea ice area is currently at its historic minimum (2.92 million sq. km) representing a 27% drop in sea ice coverage compared to the previous (2005) record NH ice minimum." according to the polar research group's website that I linked to in my blog last month. At that time, sea ice was 3.22 million square kilometers, so it has lost another .3 million in three weeks.

And what does National Geographic have to say about it?

"Commercial shipping may be a while off yet. The passage is seasonal, is likely to be unstable enough to endanger commercial vessels, and still lacks supporting ports along the way. "

Unbelievable. I don't even know what to say.

Monday, September 17, 2007

yes, it is true

OK, so in my last post I talked about the snow on the mountains, but said that I had not seen it myself. That has changed since then. Yesterday, while up in the Mat-su Valley, I saw that there is significant snow on the tops of the mountains that was not there last weekend. Termination dust. Unfortunately, thanks to my crappy camera phone, I don't have a good pic to show you. I have to say, the mountains are beautiful with snow on them.

Update on the house: We now have the entire roof covered with tar paper, and the entire south half of the roof is shingled. We have the first 3 rows of shingles on the north side. We should have the rest of the shingles up next weekend, barring rain. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

termination dust

So, I have to say, first off, that I did not see this first hand, as when I leave for work in the morning, I am driving away from the mountains, and so did not get a good look. However, there is a rumor going around that we had termination dust yesterday morning.

Termination dust, for any of you who aren't familiar with Alaskan idioms, is the first sighting of snow on the mountains. And in approximately one month, give or take a few days, we will have snow on the ground here in Anchorage.

Now, lots of people might think, so there's snow on the mountains. What's the big deal. Well, in Alaska, it is a big deal. The weather in general seems to be a big deal. In all the places I have lived, I have never heard people talk about the weather so often, or with such intensity.
When the sun is shining, and it is warm outside, you hear over and over, "Oh what a GORGEOUS day it is!". The very next day, when it is pouring rain, people talk about that. No matter what the weather is, it gets talked about, and dissected, and forecast by everyone. And their dog.

This is the only place I know of where there is a pool open to the general public betting on what date the ice on a river begins to break up. And definitely the only place where the status of said pool, the Nenana Ice Classic, makes front page news.


Interesting place, Alaska. I love it here. And, maybe next year, I will win the ice classic.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

rain, rain, go away

It has been raining all weekend. My brother in-law is here visiting from Utah, essentially free labor, and we have shingles that need to be put on, and it is raining. Can't shingle an 8/12 pitch roof in the rain. So, we have accomplished absolutely nothing.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

a roof over our heads

What more do I need to say????


So, I am thinking there is this lightswitch labeled "summer" somewhere up in heaven. And on September 1, someone flipped that light off. August 31 was a beautiful, sunny, typical Alaskan summer day. All week, people were talking about how wonderful the weather was. Then, September 1, we wake up, and we have low overcast skies and relatively cool air, threatening rain all day, but never producing.

And I see yellow leaves on my driveway......

And the leaves on the fireweed are turning red.....

And it is very clear that the end of summer has truly arrived.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

like, gag me with a spoon

So, yesterday was the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. According to the news, George W. visited New Orleans to commemorate the date. According to msnbc.com, he said much progress has been made, and "we're still paying attention."


Now, I am all for people taking care of themselves, and preparing for foreseeable events. New Orleans is on the Gulf Coast, and hurricanes are pretty foreseeable. Maybe lots of people that didn't have insurance should have. Maybe lots of people that lived below sea level shouldn't have. But I would venture a guess that flood insurance in New Orleans wasn't cheap, even before Katrina. And I would also guess that some of those places below sea level were the places where people with fewer resources could afford to live. And if you are having trouble making sure you have food on your plate, and dealing with what you need here and now, insurance for something that may happen someday probably isn't highest on your list of priorities.

And let's face it, hurricanes happen pretty often on the Gulf Coast, but not biggies like Katrina. And the levies failing probably weren't in most people's plans either. And Katrina was a big enough storm, and caused enough damage that 1600 people died. According to this chart,


Katrina was approximately the third deadliest hurricane to hit the US, ever. And prior to Katrina, there had only been 3 category 5 storms to hit our coasts. So, I think it is fair to say, that while people living on the Gulf Coast expected hurricanes, they did not expect, and were not prepared for, Katrina.

From what I have been able to glean from the news, New Orleans has had some fixing done. The levies have been patched, although the Corps of Engineers recommends replacing them. The ports are back in operation, because we have to be able to receive all the cheap crap we get from China, and all the cheap automobiles we get from Japan, and all the oil we get from the middle east. The touristy parts of town have been put back in operation. My mother was recently in New Orleans, and thoroughly enjoyed it, so the touristy part must be doing well. But what about all the flooded neighborhoods? What about all the people still living in FEMA trailers that are off-gassing toxic fumes? I really don't think the government, or anyone else, is still paying attention.

I think, for the most part, that Americans have pretty short attention spans. For as long as the news is new (duh, that's why its called news, not olds), we pay attention, we talk about it, we feel horrified. Then we shrug our shoulders, say "Oh, sucks to be them" and move on to the next bit of news.

So, basically, George W. lied. And its news. Well, at least it was yesterday. After all, as far as George W. lying, been there, done that.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Nothing doing...

Didn't get anything accomplished on the cabin this weekend. James is in Utah, visiting our 15 year old daughter, who is staying down there for a while, and frankly, I am still too sore to do much, as if I could finish the roof by myself. I am still very bruised, and my right elbow and the back of my head is still tender to the touch. Also, the doctor says I have whiplash. But I am anxious to get back up there Labor Day weekend. It has bugged me all weeekend to not be working on it. I have this sense of urgency to be living on our own land as soon as possible.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

the arctic ice cap is in trouble


This is very disturbing. According to this article, which was updated just yesterday, until this summer, the smallest area of summer sea ice in the arctic ever recorded was 4.01 million square kilometers (I am not going to do the math to convert it into square miles. You can do that if you would like). On August 9, it was 3.98 million. Yesterday, it was 3.22 million. So in two weeks, the ice cap shrank by 760,000 square kilometers. After it was already smaller than it has ever been. And there is still several weeks of melting to come.

But what amazes me is what the media is saying about it. They are talking about the Russians planting a flag up there. And the Canadians talking about setting up a military base up there. Why? So they can get at the oil that had been previously unrecoverable. OK, now I don't know what anyone else thinks, but this seems incredibly circular and ludicrous. If I understand it correctly, it goes like this.

1. Us burning fossil fuels is causing global warming.
2. Global warming is causing the arctic ice cap to melt much more than it ever has since we started keeping records.
3. Now that the ice cap is melting we can drill for .... fossil fuels.

The ice caps melting, from what I have read, is a potentially very scary thing. Lookie what can happen:
1. Sea level rise
2. Release of seabed methane, which is a green house gas that is something like 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
3. White, reflective ice is replaced by dark, absorbant water, meaning that more heat will be absorbed by the ocean, increasing the rate of ice melt.
4. When the arctic warms, the permafrost melts, causing lots of problems, including release of more methane into the atmosphere, the darkening of the tundra, and perhaps the end of the end of the Alaska Native subsistence ways.
5. If the western and northern Alaska coastline is no longer protected by sea ice, there will be more damage from winter storms, as has already been seen in the last couple years, forcing the relocation of coastal villages.

And those are just the consequences that come immediately to mind; I am sure there are more. But these are significant enough. And instead of trying to do something about it, we gleefully and greedily rush into those open waters in search of more. We seriously need to quit shitting in our own nest.

so he's right again....

It is so frustrating that it seems like James is always right. I wrote, in my first post on this blog:

"We are building a small (24' x 28') cabin with a loft to live in while we build our house. I am determined that we will be living in it by the time school starts. My husband is convinced that it will take a little longer than that to get it done. I, however, will not concede defeat until Monday, August 20, the first day of school, if we are not living there. Until then, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. My husband says I should mention that he is a carpenter (and I am not), so therefore he is right. According to him. :)"

OK, so it is now August 23, school has begun, and we are not living in our cabin. The biggest thing slowing us down is that we can only work on it two days a week. We live in Anchorage, and our property is an hour's drive away, so the only time we go is on the weekends. We have been going every weekend, but it just isn't enough. We still have so much to do. We are going to try to finish the roof Labor Day weekend, and the weekend after that, we need to finish sheeting the sides of the house. Once that is done, we install windows. Then siding, insulation, sheetrock, flooring, installing the wood stove, etc... maybe by Christmas???

Monday, August 20, 2007

not quite what I expected...

So, I thought I would be posting pics of our roof with OSB all nailed on after I got home from work tonight. Instead, I am sitting here, dreading having to get ready for work, because I know getting all dressed will hurt, but I have to go in, as I am testifying in a trial today to terminate a parent's rights. A parent who smoked crack the day before she gave birth, and throughout her pregnancy as well, causing her child to suffer from cerebral palsy. A child that she has visited twice in the year and a half since she was born.

But, you ask, why would it hurt for you to get dressed? Because everything hurts today. James and I were working on the abovementioned roof, nailing the OSB into place. We were hoping to finish last night so we could do shingles Labor Day weekend. Well, we got about 2/3 of the OSB nailed on, before events conspired to put a rather abrupt halt to our work for the day.

James was on top of the roof, with a safety strap, as the roof is rather steep. I was on a ladder, which was leaning against the edge of the roof, with my feet probably about 15 feet from the ground. My job was to hold the OSB in place for the minute or so it would take James to put a few nails in it, so it would not slide off the roof onto the ground. So, there I am, doing just fine (I thought), holding the OSB, when the ladder disappears from under me. I remember screaming briefly, a falling sensation that thankfully didn't last very long, a bonk on the head, and landing on top of the ladder, upside down, with my head by the ground, and my feet in the air. Ouch.

Turns out the ladder had shifted and fallen, landing still partially propped up on the side of the house. James had all he could do, I think, to shift the OSB, that he was only holding the upper edge of, so that when it fell, it didn't fall on top of me.

I have a large bump on the back of my head, and numerous fairly painful scrapes and bruises, the worst being on my right shin, and the back of my right arm. But even right after the fall, I didn't have any of the typical symptoms of a head injury, except for some nauseousness that passed quickly. Guess it is actually a good thing that I am fairly hard-headed, LOL.

James made me lay down, which I actually didn't object to, while the kids and him packed up so we could come back to Anchorage. I did feel a little guilty that I wasn't able to help. Today, I am sore all over. My neck muscles feel sort of strained. I have a hypothesis. I think when something happens to a person causing sudden movement, your neck works hard automatically to keep your head as stable as possible, in an attempt to prevent injury. Don't know if I am right, but it explains why my neck muscles are sore. I was in a car accident about 12 years ago, and I remember my neck feeling the same way. I think that is what it is. Anyway, in a few days, I will be fine. And by Labor Day weekend, I should be feeling up to climbing back up that ladder so we can get that damn OSB nailed up.

problem solved

OK, so I think I have fixed my blog so people can leave comments without being a registered user of blogspot. Yay!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

you've got mail

We put up our mailbox this weekend. Now we can actually get mail at our new address. Getting closer....


Gotta tell you about our dog. On Memorial Day weekend, we were up at our land working. This dog, that was obviously hungry, and very dirty, came wandering into our campsite. Well, she stayed all weekend. It was obvious by the end of the weekend that she liked us. And we all liked her. She is a very gentle dog, good with the kids. But we weren't planning on getting a dog until we moved onto our land. But she had other plans. She could tell we were getting ready to go home that Sunday, and sat by our truck, whining, while we packed up camp. We were going to leave her a bowl of food and some water, but we weren't planning on taking her home. The kids were all upset, because they wanted to keep her, and crying. So, when we were ready to leave, and the kids were all buckled in, I went to get in the truck, and she was sitting in the front seat. James tried to push her out, but she sort of melted into the seat, and wouldn't budge. So I looked at James, and James looked at me, and he finally said, "Well, she at least has to get in the back seat." And we added a dog to the family, just like that.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

socks for Karen

Happy birthday, Karen! This is the beginning of a pair of socks for my mother in law. Her birthday is October first, and I am hoping I will get them done in time. I am doing them on size 2 needles, and it is going really fast, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.
I have been wanting to make something for her, but I wasn't sure what, because she can't wear wool; it makes her skin red and itchy. So, after lots of searching, I found this sock yarn that is a combination of cotton, acrylic, and polyester. It is really soft, and these colors seem like ones that Karen wears a lot. It's Sockina Cotton, by Schoeller and Stahl. So far, I am loving the way they are knitting up.
I am only posting these on my blog because the secret is already out. I couldn't figure out a way to get her to measure from her heel to the tip of her toe across the bottom of her foot without telling her why, so I just told her what the deal was, and ruined the surprise.
I really enjoy giving hand knitted items for gifts. Last year, I gave my mother a pair of felted slippers. Her birthday is October 7, and since my mother's and mother in law's birthdays are a week apart, I decided I can only do one hand knitted gift per year, or it would just be insanity. And it's a real thin line already; don't want to lose my balance.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


That's what a barrel of light, sweet crude oil closed at today on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That is the highest it has closed so far, ever. Higher than what it was right after Katrina, when all those oil rigs in the gulf were shut down. Not a good sign. And it's just one of several right now. I'm not feeling particularly eloquent tonight, but I am worried.

Monday, July 30, 2007

swinging from the rafters

Well, we put rafters on the house this weekend. I have to say, the part at the top of the roof in the vaulted portion was pretty scary. I was on a ladder, holding my end of the rafter, while James climbed 20 feet up his ladder with his end of the rafter on his shoulder. Then we had to nail it in place using joist hangers and hurricane ties. The scariest part of the whole thing was watching James's ladder shake as he climbed that high. He didn't seem to mind. It was easier for me to not watch. And I figured out that I don't really mind climbing ladders so much, but I really don't like climbing down them.

There is another couple that are building down the street from us, and they have a daughter that is Becky's age. Becky got invited to spend the night with her this weekend, and came back the next morning singing Avril Lavigne songs. I am about tired of hearing Avril now, LOL.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

5 and 1/2 years

Check out this article...


So, production is declining faster than expected at our oil fields. This is not good news for Alaska. 89% of the money that runs the state government comes from oil. The oil companies pay taxes to the state for every barrel they produce, and we depend on this money. Now, I know a lot of people don't like the government, think it should be smaller. Alaska doesn't have just Republicans and Democrats, we have the Alaska Independence Party too, and there are plenty of people in that party. And while I could do without the DMV, and the cops that write parking tickets downtown, and some of the other government agencies, there are plenty that we truly do need. How much better are our lives because our kids can go to school, and the firetrucks and police come when we call 911, and someone looks after abused kids? Now, I may be biased, since I work for the state government, but I think some government services are pretty essential. And without the oil money, Alaska will have just 11% of the money that is currently inadequate, and have to make do with that.

OK, so lets do some math. According to the article in the Alaska Journal of Commerce, production is down 12%. Some of that is due to the pipeline being shut down for a short time, but not most of it. So, say 9%. We produced 738,000 barrels in the 2007 fiscal year, which ended July 1. If it goes down 9% each year, that means it will be 671,580 in fiscal year 2008, and somewhere around 371,000 6 years from now, assuming it declines 9% year over year steadily. This is a huge problem. James was talking today to a retired oil person of some sort. He said that when production goes below 400,000 barrels a day there just won't be enough oil in the pipeline to make it flow all the way from the North Slope to Valdez, a distance of 800 miles. So it won't simply gradually decline. This means that about 5 and 1/2 years from now, the oil money will be gone. GONE. ZERO, ZIP, NADA. GONE. 5 and 1/2 years isn't very long. Now we see why Sarah Palin, Governor, has been pushing so hard to get the gas pipeline built. The oil pipeline can't carry natural gas... we have to start all over. And it would take more than 5 and 1/2 years to build, even if we had the plan finalized.

And, what will happen to the population of Alaska when the oil money is gone? Economists estimate that oil is responsible for at least 1/3 of the state's economy. Does that mean that 1/3 of the jobs will vanish? If 1/3 of the jobs are gone, what kind of ripple effect will that have? 1/3 of the people in the state will be unable to pay their rent or mortgage. Will 1/3 of property owners get foreclosed on? Will 1/3 of cars be repossessed? Or will 1/3 of our population just pack up and head back down the Alcan? Where does that leave the rest? In cities that are only 2/3 inhabited? Seems to me that could lead to a sort of melt-down where anyone not relatively self-sufficient would go back Outside (means leaving Alaska, for those of you unfamiliar with the local dialect). Alaska could be a much different place in the not-too-distant future.

So for those of you that think James and I are crazy for wanting chickens, (and sheep, rabbits, potatoes, etc), get over it. We plan to stay in Alaska, and we think that to do that successfully long term, we need to be fairly self-sufficient. We need to be able to heat our house with firewood, and grow our own food, and darn it, I just want wool to knit, no matter what. So, I need sheep.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


So, for the last several days, it has been cloudy, rainy, and relatively cool. Makes sense... August is almost here. August in Alaska is typically cool and rainy, and it is a reminder that the weather will quickly become much more tempermental. September is a nice reprieve, being generally sunny and mild, with weather in the high 50's to mid 60's during the day, and then October hits with a vengeance. There is snow on the ground by Halloween without fail, and it lasts til April.

So, in the midst of this cloudy, rainy weather, I suddenly felt this overwhelming urge to knit something warm for my children. I had been working on a gift for someone, as well as my bamboo & wool beaded socks, and a shopping bag, but none of those were sufficient to satisfy my need for warm and comforting. What exactly is it that makes me all of a sudden start thinking about winter's chill, and not being able to relax and enjoy my knitting until I had started something that would help protect one of my children from it? Is it motherhood that brings out this protectiveness? It's not like it will be fifteen below tomorrow, and it's not like they will freeze if I don't knit for them. After all, there are plenty of warm clothes in the stores.

I didn't want to buy more yarn, since we are trying to get the cabin done, so that left me two options. I could knit a pair of felted slippers for my 4 year old, who has outgrown last winters, or I could start this sweater for Ryan, my 12 year old. The needles for the slippers were currently holding a partially finished shopping bag, so I decided to start the sweater rather than slip all those stitches (and yarn overs) onto something else until I was done making slippers.

This yarn is clearance yarn, from Wal-mart, of all places, that I bought ages ago. $2 a skein, so the entire sweater will cost $6. Can't beat that. It is Lion Brand Homespun, and since it is bulky weight, it is knitting up very fast. I started it Sunday evening, and I already have 9 inches done. I used a pattern from the Lion Brand website that calls for the Homespun yarn, and I would post the link, but you have to register to see it. Ryan loves camoflauge and the plain beige will look great with his cammo pants. The knobby texture makes it fun to knit with too, although it knits somewhat odd... the stitches look much less neat and orderly, but it works for a 12 year old boy just right. And it is soft and thick, and will keep him warm.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's not our problem.... or is it?

Check out:

http://environment.guardian.co.uk/waste/story/0,,2128827,00.html and http://www.energybulletin.net/32202.html

Both of these stories are talking about an ecological disaster happening right now. In China, 300 million people drink contaminated water every day. According to the article at the first link, "One third of the length of all China's rivers are now "highly polluted" as are 75% of its major lakes and 25% of all its coastal waters." Nearly 30,000 children DIE each year due to illnesses caused by drinking contaminated water. Further, "more than 17,000 towns have no sewage works at all and the human waste from nearly one billion people is barely collected or treated. Nearly 70% of the rural population has no access to safe sanitation." And it's not just a water issue. China is also suffering from huge air pollution problems, with some of the poorest air quality in the world in many of its cities. Almost 1/3 of China's land is becoming unsuitable for agriculture.

Now, there are lots of people here that think, "Oh, China is thousands of miles away. They are on a whole different continent. Why should I worry about it? It's not my problem. But maybe it is. I was reading an article the other day that was talking about what the demand for cheap cashmere sweaters is doing to China's high plateaus, where the goats whose fur yields the cashmere live. In short, it is turning those high, grassy plateaus into deserts due to overgrazing by these goats whose fur becomes cashmere sweaters available at Costco for $49.99.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love good quality clothes at cheap prices just as much as the next person. And I spend a whole lot of money at Costco. But there is a good argument to be made that maybe we are as much at fault for China's problems as China is.

You see, not much is made here anymore. Seems like everytime I look at where something comes from, it says, "Made in China". Even the Alaskan touristy knicknacks that they sell everywhere, the vast majority of them aren't made in Alaska. They are made in China. Now, that means that China has the ability to produce things cheap enough to make it worthwhile to ship it all over here for us to buy. But they can do it cheaply in part by destroying their environment in the process. But if we didn't have such an insatiable demand for this crap, and insist on having it cheap, maybe China wouldn't be in the situation they are in. So, it's not that easy to shrug it all off and say, "It's not my problem".

Monday, July 16, 2007

The good and the bad....

OK, so the good news... we got the kitchen wall framed, and the sheeting on the floor for the upstairs. The 16 foot wide section in the middle where the house is tallest will be our bedroom. The window framed in the wall is our bedroom window. Also, we got 3 sheets of OSB on one of the exterior walls... the other gable end from what you can see. So, we are making good progress.

The bad news... James was at The Home Depot today, and OSB is now $5 a sheet more than when we last priced it, a few weeks ago. That's more than a 50% increase in less than a month. What's up with that???? It means that our house just increased in price by about $350. Nice.

OSB isn't the only thing getting more expensive. Check out this article.... http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/orl-foodprice1407jul14,0,7778150.story

and this one:


Food is getting more expensive too. Thank you, George W. for pushing the ethanol thing. Why anyone thinks it is a good idea to burn our food in our gas tanks is beyond me. With grain storage levels at an almost 30 year low, is now really the time to be using corn as a poor substitute for gasoline?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

On the needles

Well, I didn't intend for my blog to be all about my house, but that is what it has been so far. So, to add some variety, I thought I would share what I am knitting. There are two or three projects on the needles that aren't on here because they didn't photograph well, and a pair of socks I am knitting for Ryan isn't here, because they are in the truck, and the truck is not here at the moment. And one is a gift for someone, and I don't want to give the secret away.

So, this first picture is a beautiful beaded sock. Obviously, at some point, there will be a second. But I suffer from second sock syndrome big time, so we will cross that bridge when we come to it. The yarn is an interesting mix of wool and bamboo. It is extremely soft, with a very nice hand. Makes me wonder if I could grow bamboo if I had a greenhouse. I have to tell you, I LOVE this yarn. This pair of socks will be for me. I think the socks I make are much more comfortable than store-bought (no annoying seam across the top of your toes, for example).

This is also a pair for me. It is made from Koigu yarn. It has an intricate lace pattern that winds up looking like leaves layering over each other that is just beautiful, but hard to photograph with the digital camera on my cell phone. Long story about the camera.

This is an excellent example of second sock syndrome. See sock #1? Fully complete. See sock #2? Barely begun. Has been sitting barely begun for at least a couple months. Sigh. The first one was a joy to knit, so hopefully I can reimmerse myself in it again soon.

This is a sweater I have been knitting for my 7 year old. No, I have to be honest and say this is a sweater I haven't been knitting for my 7 year old. She turned 7 in November. She was 6 when I started it. I started this on metal needles, because I conveniently had a pair the right size. I HATE metal needles. I HATE metal needles when knitting cotton especially. What does cotton do on metal needles? It slides. It slips and it slides all over the place. I have the front done, and this is the back. I don't dare switch to wooden needles because I know it will change the guage. Plus it is on long, straight needles, and it is heavy. I know a circular needle would hold the weight so much more comfortably. So, it sits in my drawer ignored.

And this is a shopping bag. A reusable shopping bag that can be crumpled up and shoved in my purse, and pulled out when needed. I think the world can use a little fewer plastic bags in the landfills. I think the next one will perhaps be made out of something a little thinner. This is dishcloth cotton. On wooden needles, where it slips much less.

So, now you see the majority of my projects. My husband seems to think it frustrating to find half-finished knitting projects on needles wherever he looks, but he is getting used to it :)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Making good progress...

So, this weekend, we went back out to our land, and got more work done. We framed in the upstairs window, and then started on the interior. We framed the bathroom walls and the walls for the arctic entry. We then put the beam across the ceiling between the dining area and the living area, and hung the floor joists for the loft. I am feeling like we are making pretty good progress.
Ryan is a little spider still, climbing on the tops of the walls with no fear of heights or apparent awkwardness. Reminds me of the time we went for a drive down to Southern Utah when I was pregnant with Steven. I wasn't feeling up for a hike at 8 months pregnant, but James and the kids went wandering around, and they came to a spot where the rock made a narrow chimney. James says he had about decided they wouldn't make it up it, and looked around and Ryan, about 9, had splayed his arms and legs out sideways and scooted right up it. He has always been an excellent climber.
It rained on us Saturday, again. But Sunday, it cleared up, and we had a beautiful, sunny day. It got up to 64 degrees, perfect T-shirt weather. By the way, it was 99 degrees yesterday in Salt Lake City. NO THANK YOU!
I read Sharon Astyk's blog on a regular basis. She is an interesting woman. She has four children, and owns a farm in New York. She is also in the process of writing a book, and still has time to write lengthy, thought-provoking blog entries several times a week. Sharon had an interesting post on her blog today... you can see it at: http://casaubonsbook.blogspot.com/2007/07/pick-up-your-hat.html
Is it time for us to pick up our hats? There is more than one reason we are building a little cabin to live in while we build our house. At this point, it does not make sense to us to be paying rent and a land payment. Also, I definitely think it is past time that we should be growing our own fruits and vegetables, canning the fish we catch, owning a few chickens (meat and eggs), sheep (wool... duh), and rabbits (meat and fur), and starting to do more for ourselves. And besides, the wool and rabbit fur part should be fun.... angora socks, anyone?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

We did it!

The walls are up! We stood up the last of the exterior walls today. I also planted 3 daisies, 4 poppies, and 6 raspberry bushes my husband was given the other day. The plan for the daisies is for them to take over. There is a stretch of ground along the road that has not much growing on it currently. As daisies appear to naturalize quite efficiently here, I am hoping they will naturalize into that whole area.
Of course it rained... it's July in Alaska. It actually only rained for the first half of the day, then cleared up. So, unlike the last two weekends, I did not get totally soaked working. It's late, I'm tired, but it's done!
We didn't go see fireworks, as is traditional in most other places on the 4th of July. In Alaska, we have our fireworks for New Year's Eve, or the Fur Rondezvous in late February (when you can actually see them). Right now, in Alaska, we have light 24 hours a day, and although the sun does set for a few hours, it never gets dark enough to be able to see fireworks well. As a matter of fact, I am sitting here right now at 11:00 at night, and the sun is just now setting, and there are still kids playing outside (although not ours. We, unlike many Alaskan parents, do not let our kids play outside all night just because it's not dark.)

Monday, July 2, 2007

Everything that has a beginning...

has an end, Neo.

Seriously, this is my first post, and I am not sure what the etiquette is for starting a blog. I guess I wanted to start a blog because I think some of the things going on in my life are interesting, at least to me, and I want to talk about it. And since my coworkers and friends sometimes seem to think I am a little wacky when I start talking about the stuff I am really interested in, concerned about, or doing, the internet seems like the best place to express myself, since I am pretty convinced I am not the craziest person on the web.

OK, so...

We are building a house. We bought the land at auction from the State of Alaska last summer. Couldn't homestead, since homesteading ended a few years back. In 1986, to be precise. But we are doing the next best thing. We have a relatively small payment for our land, and we are building a house.

Now, when most people say they are building a house, they mean they are paying someone to build their house for them. Not so in this case. No contractors, no subcontractors. WE are building it. My husband, myself, my 12 year old son, and 7 year old daughter. My 4 year old son likes to think he is helping too. Mostly he drives his Tonka frontloader and dumptruck up and down our new driveway. He helpfully digs holes in it too :)

We actually at present are building our "first house". We are building a small (24' x 28') cabin with a loft to live in while we build our house. I am determined that we will be living in it by the time school starts. My husband is convinced that it will take a little longer than that to get it done. I, however, will not concede defeat until Monday, August 20, the first day of school, if we are not living there. Until then, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. My husband says I should mention that he is a carpenter (and I am not), so therefore he is right. According to him. :)

So, what we have done so far, is put concrete posts in the ground, run beams between them, and floor joists between the beams. Then we put OSB down for the floor. This was finished last weekend. This weekend that just went by, we stood up 2-1/2 of the 4 exterior walls. We plan to finish this job on Wednesday, since it is the 4th, and we are both off work. I will try to remember to post pics.