Our blog and meandering thoughts...
Living now in the darkest throws of winter, seemingly endless nights and bitter subzero temperatures plague the sanity of the mind. One would think being secluded from civilization for near half a year would create a state of peace and bliss.
Until you realize otherworldly creatures exist in the frozen North country... Call them sprites, fairies, gremlins, little people, whatever suites you, they tend to come causing mischief in the dark winter world.
Water sprites have infiltrated our homestead. I swear if you don't look directly toward them, you can see them flitting around water sources, seeing what mischief they can create. Today, they struck with the ferocity of Ghengis Khan, swooping down upon us in hordes.
Trying to hand tighten the main valve on the 55 gallon water barrel, it snapped off in Nate's hand. Water started shooting out the broken hole, dousing the water storage room in a glorious display of pressurized ice cold water, flooding the floor. Chaos strikes. Nate was yelling a stream of obscenities as we scrambled to find anything that would hold water.
The second 55 gallon water barrel sitting beside the spouting whale, has a garden hose section attached, which empties into a 5 gallon jug. As we are battling like Captain Ahab against Moby Dick, I see the 5 gallon jug now overflowing. "Turn off the valve!" I snap at Nate, "the 5 gallon jug is overflowing!! "
"What the hell?! I did turn it off!! What is going on!" He shouts back.
I pause, and take a deep breath. "Water sprites," I curse under my breath.
I take the containers of water we've been catching and place them on the kitchen counter. It is shower day and water is heating up on the woodstove for dishes and showers. As I am offloading the scalding hot water into the sink for dishes, it hits a glass cup, swirls in and shoots back up at me in a wave of boiling water, which in turn hits my hand holding the pot, burning the top of my hand. My turn to one up Nate in colorful language.
As this is happening, Nate is dumping water from one container into a larger one and it hits the handle, cascading more water onto the kitchen counter. This has become a fiasco. So much so, we both start laughing.
On the bright side, we won the war. Dishes got done, bodies got washed. Casualties incurred: 1 water barrel with a broken valve port, 1 scalded hand. Not a bad outcome when going to war against water sprites...
7 a.m. It's dark outside. The kerosene lantern flickers and makes a soft popping sound. It swings gently in my hand as I trudge down the shoveled path thru deep snow to the outhouse.
The lack of sun to power the solar light in the outhouse has made it necessary to tote along a lantern. I discovered this last night at 3 a.m. with an inadvertent blind outhouse run. Normally you pull the cord in the outhouse and the solar light pops on. This early morning run it did not.
There's also been a wolf skulking around. Even though it's only 100 feet to the outhouse, one can't help but try to see glowing yellow eyes glaring thru the brush at the edge of the forest. A primal urge, alerting you that danger lurked nearby. You can't help it. It's there, deep in your brain. But your need to use the outhouse overpowers dark fear and you walk on, maybe a bit quicker.
Our dog rarely barks. She was out last night and suddenly broke into a crazy barking frenzy. I'd guess there was a predator nearby but we didn't see anything. Word around the area is a lone wolf is nearby. He's been seen on the river and at the airstrip, both of which aren't far from our place.
I tell myself I have no fear of wolves. I don't think I do. But running into one in the dark, on my way to the outhouse already, I think I'd probably pee myself.
The lantern cuts thru the darkness. The outhouse is straight ahead.
Temps have dropped back to zero. We keep the woodstove going all the time. My trip to the outhouse is quick. It's cold outside! I see the warm glow from the Christmas lights inside as I walk back to the house.
3 of my 5 kids will be home for Christmas this year. That thought makes me smile and warms my insides. Not so cold out when I think of that. I step inside, douse the lantern and hear the pile of puppies yowling. They are trying to howl. It's cute. The fire is crackling. Coffee is brewing and the aroma fills the room. Nate is sitting on the couch, sleepy but awake.
"Why the lantern?" He asks.
"Solar light isn't working." I reply.
Life in remote Alaska seems to always be throwing something at you. Isn't it just so romantic?!
We take showers by heating up a 5 gallon bucket of water on the woodstove. Then the bucket is moved to the bathroom where we have a tub installed but no running water to it as of yet. There is a drain in the tub that runs to the exterior of our cabin
where the grey water can drain into the woods. A 4 cup measuring cup is used to scoop the water out of the bucket and over your head. Get wet, soap up, rinse off. Simple. We get 2 showers out of 5 gallons.
Well, this summer we had discovered a portable shower head with a mini water pump on one end. It runs on batteries. You put the pump in the water bucket and hold the shower head to get a real shower! It's really great to mount the hand held shower head into the wall and stand under running water! We got spoiled.
A few weeks ago, the pump stopped working. We were pretty bummed. Back to dumping water over our heads with the measuring cup. Once we got down to the library in town so we could access the internet, I ordered a new pump. It showed up yesterday and now we have a shower again!!
It's pretty amazing how much you appreciate the simple things in life. Most people take for granted and never even think twice about what it would be like if they couldn't turn the faucet on and step into a hot shower. We know we appreciate it every day...
For the past 2 years we have lived with curtains over our kitchen cabinets as there were no doors present. It has been on our project list, continually bumped to the bottom as other projects took precedence. Finally, with a majority of our projects completed and winter weather upon us, we have built cabinet doors. Using left over 1x3's, 1x4's and 1x2's, we built them. I sawed and shaped the antlers off Nate's fall caribou to use as cabinet handles. I sanded the wood, Nate placed the pieces together and nailed them into cabinet doors.
We mounted the doors and were elated! They look fantastic! The only problem was, we ran out of wood, so unfortunately, we still have 2 cabinets left uncovered. No lumber store here, so we'll wait for spring when the road opens and we can the drive 10 hours into Fairbanks to get resupplied.
It's sooo nice to hear cabinet doors closing! We've learned to really appreciate the simple things...