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.

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.