Friday, December 24, 2010

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!  May you enjoy your time spent with family and friends, and take time to enjoy the season!  We'll be missing you all!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice

Sunrise 10:45 a.m.         Sunset  2:35 p.m.

The solstice came yesterday.  Which means the longest of winter days are behind us.  Phew.  Unfortunately the additional light is slow to come for a few weeks yet.  We'll pick it up quicker as time goes on.  Did you all catch that lunar eclipse last night?  Spectacular.  I didn't get to see it go red, but I parts of it from the bedroom window.  Spectacular.

The past few days have been quiet.  I've been baking, attending Christmas plays and trying to get the house put back to semi-rights after all the crap that's happened.  I'm ready for some peace.  And I'm really hoping I didn't just jinx myself.

Friday afternoon Brent picked me up.  I dashed from the truck to capture the moon.  At 4:17 p.m.  It was so pretty and bright.  It casts eerie shadows across the driveway, making me more hesitant to spend anytime outdoors.  Without dogs and guns.  Luckily I have plenty supply of both.  Phew!

Lately I find Cash in this position a lot.  He's waiting for Maggie.  His buddy.  From a neighboring farm.  She comes to play every day.  Yes,  Some days twice a day.  Last Thursday I was off from work due to extremely cold temps.  -50 and below. So, this is Cash waiting at about -35 below.  He has thicker skin than I do.  No thanks.  Brrrr.  That also turned out to be the day we got our plumbing back.  Amen.  Hallelujah.  Praise God.  This is as rustic as I get.  I can't do outdoor "plumbing".  There are some miraculously strong people out there.  No thanks.  

Saturday we made a trip to Fairbanks.  We braved the crowds and craptacular roads.   Got our necessary items, that I absolutely could not find here in Delta.  Stopped at Pagoda for a quick and yummy lunch in North Pole.  Tried to visit the Santa Claus house to pick up Savannah and RJ's letters from Santa.  But alas, the lines were too long, and the parking lot was out of empty spaces.  We kept driving.  

Sunday Brent made us breakfast, I cleaned, baked and cooked.  Brent put a moose roast in the oven, and we just enjoyed the holiday season.  Sunday evening we attended the Christmas program at First Baptist Church here in Delta.  What a production!  There are some talented kids in this community.  The program consisted of 45 children, varying ages, and a team of dedicated parents.  It was uplifting, fun, joyful, and fun!  You could tell the kids were thoroughly enjoying themselves up there, and they all did a great job!

Later that evening I packed up some cookies and headed to a friends house for games and friend time.  It was the perfect end to a relaxing weekend.  I have no complaints.  None.  At all. 

Thursday I'll have off to prepare for Christmas dinner at our house on Saturday.  Friday we're off to do some ice fishing.  Finally.  It's our first trip and I'm looking forward to it.  Which means I can't procrastinate on Thursday!!  There will be 9 of us for dinner, and I'm going to have to get mighty creative to get us all in here.  But we'll work it out.  For sure. 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!!! Stay warm!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside

It's cold.  Not just cold, really, really cold.  How cold?  Cold enough that I left my car running for a good portion of the day.  Because I'm missing an important piece of equipment.  A block heater.  Kind of dumb for any Alaskan to live without one. Especially one without a garage.  But it is what it is.  So, run it did.  Thank goodness my lovely little Volvo is good on gas. Phew!

It's cold.  Cold enough to freeze a septic system.  Yep. You read that right.  And since we live in the land of self-sufficiency my dear hubby has been trying to thaw it.  He's done a lot of research.  Learned the tricks that do and don't work here in the tundra.  Until finally.  He called a septic guy.  This guy's words of wisdom.  "Good Luck".  Yep, that's it.  He wasn't going to bother to come out in -40 degree temps.  Nice.  It's obvious he's not the one peeing in the frigid temperatures.  No outhouse either.  I think I might have to build one this summer.  You know.  Just in case.

3 days I have lived without plumbing.  Plumbing, electricity and an internet connection were my only requirements for moving to Alaska.  Well, two out of three ain't bad!  Ha!  Honestly, I'm taking it in stride.  It's livable, though not ideal, but we'll survive.  The rumor is that Septic Guy #2 will make an appearance some time tomorrow.  Brent's not-so-secretly wants his last ditch effort to work.  I'm optimistic, but realistic.  I'm not canceling Septic Guy #2 just yet.

So, as of now we have no toilet or shower, and no wood stove.  I am very thankful for back up heat.  The rumor around town is that -40 is warmish compared to what we may get.  It was -48 degrees at the Clearwater Lodge tonight.  Where we ate dinner.  While the car idled outside.

We're snuggled in.  Waiting for normalcy to return.  Praying that it's soon.  And just trying to find the positive in all the discord that's found us.  Someone did tell me that Mercury was in retrograde.  I hope it's out soon...

Stay Warm!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Keepin' The Home Fires Burnin'

**Before I start this post I want to say that we are all fine, unharmed, healthy and warm.  Enjoy the read.

Thursday evening I came home, as usual.  Stoked the fire, as usual.  Let out the dogs, as usual.  I took care of the dinner dishes that I had been too lazy to tackle the evening before, which is unusual.  I was doing dishes, laundry, and watching something on the computer.

I needed to soak one of my pans, the reason for my lazy delay in the first place.  I sat in the chair, computer on my lap, Ches at my feet.  Cash and Maggie (the neighbor dog) playing in the yard.  As I was watching I heard a dripping, or maybe a sizzle.  I glanced at the faucet.  Nothing.  I glanced at the fire place.  Fire!  In the wrong place.  Panic.  I let out an expletive.  And went into action.

I first replaced my pajama pants with real pants.  Jeans.  Slipped on my Uggs, shooed Ches outside, which confused her, dialed Brent.  No answer.  Panic.  Dialed 9-1-1.  All I have to say, is thank God for 9-1-1 dispatchers.  She kept me calm, kept me even, soothed my frazzled nerves.  I got out the dogs, put them in the car, and proceeded to back away from the house to give the fire truck room, if needed.  Said a prayer that it wouldn't be needed.  Was obviously frazzled, got the car stuck.  Left it there, running, with dogs inside.  Sent Maggie home, and she miraculously listened.  Did another silent Hallelujah.

When the operator was satisfied that I wasn't going to stay in the house, and that the fire personnel were on their way, I hung up.  Dialed Brent.  Got Steve (his co-worker and friend), and once I heard his voice, LOST MY MARBLES.  After I shouted that the house was on fire, about 3 times, I hung up.  At this point I was nearing a panic attack, and needed someone to calm me down.  I was alone.  I called my Mom.  Which in hindsight, only made her panic.  But she managed to calm me down.  The stove pipe was neon orange and glowing.  I had managed to save the dogs, the computer, the camera and the guns.  To be honest, I couldn't think of anything else that was that important.  We weren't inside.

I grabbed a coat for myself.  And some gloves.  It was -10 and I'd been outside for about 10 minutes in a thin t-shirt before I noticed that I didn't have a coat.  Once I'd grabbed a coat, and still on with my mom, I decided to head down the driveway with a flashlight, to signal the people coming to help.  I started out, forgot a gun, and headed back for a gun.  All the while my mom is trying to convince me that I can't go, I'll be eaten, or something.  That I should drive.  I had to cop to the fact that I got the car stuck.  Luckily I didn't have the where-with-all to be embarrassed.

I hung up and headed down the driveway, in the dark, sobbing, with a pistol and a phone.  By the time I reached the end of the drive way I got the giggles.  It may have been hysteria, but giggle I did.  As I stood there, calmer, pointing my strobing flashlight in every direction, seeking for glowing eyes in the dark.  Phew.  Relief.  Soon I saw headlights.  More headlights and FINALLY, heard the sirens, horns.  Utter relief.

Delta Junction has a volunteer fire department.  Let me tell you, they reacted quickly.  I saw the first, second, and third set of headlights.  Volunteers coming from their homes, to help me at mine.  I walked back to the house, and two firemen were already inside.  I just stood outside and watched.  Soon the big truck with lights flashing was there, and I could breathe.

I stood there, talking to my husband, whom I begged to drive carefully and assured that the whole house wasn't in flames.  Tried reaching our landlord.  And couldn't.  And waited.  Thankfully the men were much calmer than I was, and kind.  Considerate.  Conscientious.  Turns out that while the fire was very hot and very real, they managed to put it out quickly, all while being contained in the stove pipe.  Phew.

In the end we lost some drywall, and some insulation.  We'll need to replace the pipe all the way up through the roof.  But we are lucky.  Fortunate.  Blessed.  It could have been so much worse.    I have attached some photos of the damage.

This is the discoloration of the pipe and ash on top of the stove.  
The stove is fine.  In perfect condition, just coated in a fine ash.

This photo is the top of the pipe, where they cut  out the wall to access the insulation.

This is two pieces of charred foam insulation and the rope that goes around the top of the pipe.  
You can see the black charring on all of the pieces.

Our deepest gratitude and heartfelt thanks goes out to the volunteer firefighters with the Delta Fire Department.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Whose Idea Was This?

I'm going to vent.  In fairness, I rarely do so (on here) so you're just going to have to deal.  Last year got cold.  And it got cold a lot earlier.  But for some reason, this cold snap, we dropped approximately 40 degrees in 12 hours, has me not loving Alaska so much.  Good gravy, Mavis.  Now to be fair, it's technically warming up out there, and we only saw about -36.  Which, in reality, is cold, but not as cold as it can get here.  I remember January 9, 2009 all too well.  Anyway, it's been cold.  Did I mention that already?

In reality, the roads stink because the temps were too warm and we got rain.  Now that we're seeing the below zero temps they are marginally better, but will take some time to become normal.  The cold has also brought the sun along with it.  And I LOVE that.  I almost has one convinced that you won't need long underwear, wool socks, a heavy jacket, gloves (I wore 2 pair), a scarf to breathe through, a hat, and whatever else you deem necessary to function.

My biggest challenge is plugging, unplugging, plugging the car in.  We had plug-ins in Northern Minnesota, but I don't remember ever using it.  Let alone carrying around not one, but two extension cords.  All. The. Time.  My saving grace is that it's normal here.  Everyone gets out, plugs it in, comes out, unplugs it, drives it home.  Weird stuff.  And if you're the idiot that forgets (hypothetically, of course) to unplug the cord, or the car, and you're driving down the road with the cord dragging behind you.  Yep, you're the idiot.  Luckily I haven't done that.  Yet.  This year.

I did get a nice lecture reminder from my hubby that failing to unplug the car one more time will result in some major repair work to the outdoor outlet.  You know, since someone obviously forgot a time, or two, last year.

Today had me at my knees.  It took me 45 minutes to put all my layers on, which cause me to sweat because the wood stove is cranked, then go outside and freeze to the car that's been running for 35 minutes and still isn't technically, warm.  Luckily it warms up quicker when I drive.  Phew.  I pulled into the office parking lot, unloaded myself, discovering that I'd rode all the way to work with my coat stuck in the door.  Swell.  Rolled out, because with that many layers you have to, and attempted to plug my car in.  The plug was bent, I was wearing gloves (two pair) and I was cold.  Growing increasingly frustrated by the moment, the tears came, just as the plug miraculously slipped into it's mate.  Success.  Damn tears.

On a positive note, this cold snap has not changed my love for this town, this state.  There are good days, and bad days, today just happened to be one that tested my patience and resolve.   The above photo- sorry about the quality- is the view from my window at work.  The sun tipped the trees just before it set yesterday afternoon.  It was quite lovely.

Happy Winter!