Man, I take some strange photos.

I haven’t felt much like blogging. Too many other pressing tasks at hand as the summer quickly fades and Fall is here in full force. We are in full on Fall panic mode. Project after project yet nothing feels accomplished. Fall panic will last for another week, then winter will be here. Bwhahaha. Okay, I got at least two weeks before winter. Maybe. I always look forward to the EcoFeminsts week in picture blog so I figured I’d go look at what I’ve been snapping pictures of. My photos are pretty lame but they sure are diverse! Plus this makes for an easy check-in blog.

To start off, green tomatoes. The tomatoes are never going to get ripe when it is this cold outside (and it ain’t getting warmer till May) and I can only fit so many plants in the garage so I made green tomato pickles.

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This along with other canning endeavors has filled up the pantry. We had to add more shelves and reinforce them. Still in the progress of cleaning/organizing it but feeling pretty stoked about how much we have canned. Most we’ve put up for winter! We will be eating well at -40F!

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To thank the bees for their honey, we’ve been feeding them sugar water so they have something for this winter. They require a lot of sugar water resulting in a very sticky kitchen. Tired of standing over the stove staring at the microwave, the clever me moved my TV show into the microwave. Genius. This has improved sugar water and bee candy making though it still sucks.

The dogs bored of sugar water making, canning, and organizing the pantry finally talked me into a car ride. We went to visit Shane at work, made their little doggie day. An easy way to make them happy. Plus I enjoy it too.

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To relax, I go to work. I royally screwed up this reaction (diluted it too much) but it still worked which made my day. Probably will do better when I do it correctly. The bright bands are ancient DNA from walrus. I took this on my iPhone because the normal camera was not working and my patience was waning.

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One glorious day, someone thought we were missing out on the nice fall colors so we were sent outside for a half an hour break. It was glorious. We need more fire alarms.

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Then while getting supplies for a class I’m teaching, I saw this pillow. Oh so tempted to get it for my work couch.

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Now to go put my face in a feed bag.

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Fire, Food, and Forage

Shane is out on his first forest fire assignment since his diagnosis. This is all thanks to a new pharmacy insurance plan that covers the brand of medication we want and not just the brand the insurance company is in bed with. I’m alone manning the rental, the “homestead, ” and working full time but I’m okay with that because, for the first time in three years, Shane is in the middle of reclaiming his life. I honestly thought he’d never go on another wildland fire again as we thought of how the hell we could operate a mini-fridge in the wilderness. The new meds do not have to be refrigerated, he feels great, and out into the wilds of Alaska he went.

Second day of bachelorhood, I had zucchini bread and coffee for brunch after dealing with slight flooding in one of my labs, cheez-its for lunch while cleaning the rental, more zucchini bread for an 8 pm dinner after the critters were fed and watered. At 8:40 pm, I realized I needed more substance, but we haven’t been grocery shopping in awhile (thinking about 2 weeks as of today). I ended up with an open-faced hummus, pickled radish, and feta cheese sandwich with a glass wine and freshly made kale chips. Not too shappy.

 

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I’ve also been reading the book Animal, Vegatable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver which has encouraged me to continue to be more mindful about my food.

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Now how does all of this relate? While Shane is gone on this fire assignment, I have decided not to grocery shop. This includes, not eating out when I’m sick of the lunch I packed myself (was already today hence the cheez-its). I’m going to forage in my own house and garden. Clean out the fridge and cupboards. Use what we already have – we have a lot of food tucked away plus a full wine cooler. I’m set for the week!

Wanted a housekeeper for two adorable adults

As a child, I use to stand in the middle of my bedroom, eyeing the mess I was to clean, and break out in song. Why wasn’t my stuff flying about and putting themselves away? I practiced this along with flying, I never succeeded in either.

“In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game”

I have never felt that way about cleaning. Ever. There is not enough sugar in this world to make cleaning go down more smoothly. I hate cleaning though I enjoy the final product.

The other night after a day judging 4-H fair projects, spending time with a friend that needed some friend time, stuffing food into my face, and taking care of animals it was already 9 pm. I had a house guest coming at midnight.  We had got home from camping two days before but went right to work the day after camping. Shane was still at work (48 hr. shift). The house was a wreck and I was tired but I felt obligated to clean. I’m sure the houseguest appreciated the clean sheets and toilet. I tidied the kitchen/living room enough so I wouldn’t be too embarrassed. During all of this, I noticed that we needed to dust the TV area, that the walls I’ve been meaning to wash have yet to be washed (the dogs like to rub their faces on my walls), the couch vacuumed, and the kitchen cabinets wiped down.

While as an adult, I now know I cannot sing my way to a clean house or eat sugar, I’m opting for a better way to make this task go down. I’ve talked about adjusting goals to make them attainable in an earlier post. A goal that I have control over. My new life goal is not for me to become a better housekeeper, that is simply not going to happen. I do not have the time or energy to spend cleaning my house. I’d rather spend my time at work, volunteering, running, sleeping, or getting a root canal (I’ve had one before, and I’ll take it again over cleaning). My new life goal is to budget better so we can afford to hire a housecleaner. Someone to come in once a week to dust, mop, clean the showers, wipe down the walls, wipe down light fixtures, wash windows, wipe down kitchen cabinets, etc.

“Wanted a housekeeper for two adorable adults
If you want this choice position
Have a cheery disposition
Rosy cheeks, no warts!
Play games, all sort
You must be kind, you must be witty
Very sweet and fairly pretty
Take us on outings, give us treats
Sing songs, bring sweets”

I can maintain a somewhat surface clean but I fall so behind on the deep cleaning and it shows when I slow down enough to notice. How the hell people maintain a clean house is beyond me. I figure if we just had a little bit more help doing the household cleaning, it would lighten the load and make it easier to keep the house in shape.

Birthday Get-Away

For my 35th birthday, Shane made reservations for two nights at a public use cabin. We went there two years ago for my birthday. We had reservations for our anniversary last summer when Shane ended up having to go in for work-related double hernia surgery. A few days before this trip, Shane got a call to go on a fire in Montana. While we desperately need the money, he turned it down to spend these few days with me and knew I’d be disappointed to be cancelled on two summers in a row.

I got off work early (4:55 pm) and headed home. Shane was in the midst of baking my birthday cake from scratch (!!!) and finishing packing. He had hoped I would get hung up at work like I often do so I would have come home to a packed car. The dogs knew fun was about to happen and sat in the car for an hour waiting for us to get out shit together.

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The plan was to stop for dinner in Delta at the Drive-In for dinner that is about a two hour drive from Fairbanks. Even though the hours said they were open till 10, they were not. We ate a dive nearby. And it was a dive – lukewarm soup, iceberg lettuce drowned in dressing, and a calzone that was simply a pizza folded over.

We finally make it out to the trailhead about 9:30 pm with a quick mile walk into the cabin. We still have about five hours before it gets “dark”. The dogs that have been sitting in the car for the hour before the trip, the three-hour drive, and the hour stop for dinner are out of control excited. They zoom down the trail, barking their brains out, and driving us mad. We get to the cabin and swim the dogs, hoping this will take the edge off so we can go to bed.

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These photos were taken at 10 p.m. I love Alaskan summers!

It doesn’t. Every freaking 15 minutes they are up, pacing. Echo puppy starts whining at 2 am. I attempt to just let her out, thinking that she needs to go potty. Nope, both dogs bolt past me and sprint off into the woods. Here I’m naked on the cabin porch shaking a bag of dog food in the dark (more like dusk), yelling and cussing at the fucking dogs. Happy fucking birthday to me, this trip sucks. Once back inside, it is the same routine for the rest of the night – pacing, whining, and us considering feeding the dogs to the coyotes.

The next morning after the shitty night of sleep, Shane makes us some strong black tea and French toast. The dogs proceed to stare a tree for hours. Really, you got me up for that, assholes? Echo eventually gets bored and runs around the woods but Ade has to keep us safe from the squirrels.

The day improves the trip as we simply: Eat. Nap. Wine. Naked on the beach. Wine. Cake. Naked in the lake. Wine. Naked playing yatzee. Wine. Clothes on for downpour. Wine. Cake. Read. Wine. Fish. Wine. Read. Wine. Sleep.

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Ade’s day: Stare at tree. Nap. Stare at tree. Forced boat trip. Stare at tree. Sleep.

Echo’s day: Stare. Run through woods. Chase bird along shore, back and forth. Swim. Check-in with Ade and stare at a tree. Run. Swim. Nap. Swim. Run. Nap. Run. Swim. Nap. Run. Swim. Sleep.

Thankfully the jerks slept the 2nd night, they were in bed before we were.

The next day, we finished up the trip with a short walk and swimming the dogs. I think the dogs had a great time.

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Seasons Done Right.

Alaska does nothing half-ass. Fall is crisp, golden, brief, and foreboding. Winter is dark, cold, snowy, and pure magic. Spring is slushy, muddy, and full promise. Summer is hot but not too hot, the sun refuses to sleep, and it is simply splendid. The people soak up the sun as much as the plants do. We all thrive and push ourselves to exhaustion, knowing we will all get to hibernate here soon.

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The other day as I stood in the kitchen watching the big puppy splash in the duck pool while an annoyed flock of birds watched her antics and admiring my flowers, it hit me that it was the end of July. Where has summer gone? Then I thought of winter and snow and -40, then I went outside to lay in the hammock to soak in as much summer as I could before the snow flies. Yeah, I know I got a few more month before that happens but it will zoom on by as June and July have. Before I blink it will be January and I’ll be dreaming of summer.

A Literal Pity Party

Pity. We have all at one time or another thrown ourselves a pity party. You know, hiding in a closet screaming into a half empty ice cream carton, “why me?” About six months after my husband’s hypopanpituitarism diagnosis (summer 2015), my husband was in the midst of a major pity party for one. He was a joy to live with. The treatments were not working fast enough or actually working at all or causing horrible side effects, we were always battling insurance companies, and we were both utterly frustrated. There was a lot of “Why me??” going on. He was feeling pretty alone in all of this – kind of how depression (pity) works.

I decided to host a surprise pity party for him. He needed to feel some love. My mom and I got crafty. It turns out a pituitary looks like testicles. I kid you not.

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Old Juneau Dog really got into the party spirit with her homemade pituitary pity party hat!
His mother was late to the party which made my blood boil. She was not into the idea of the pity party, thinking Shane wouldn’t like it. Boy, was she fucking wrong. Shane loved it. Perhaps this is not how she wanted her pity party to look like for she was also dealing with the fact that her son was diagnosed with a disorder that none of us knew that much about. It was good for everyone to have this elephant in the room dragged out for the world to see. This is life, and we can’t pretend that it always goes as planned. In fact, I’ve noticed it really never goes to plan.

 

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Nothing as therapeutic as smashing something that represents what you are so mad at.

The party was a hit – literally as we all smashed the pituitary pinata. Shane even had a friend drive 7 hours to come to the party. Sometimes, a pity party is best with friends. And cake.

 

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Flowers (leftover from our wedding) had little pity sayings like this one that reads “You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Really? Watch me!”

 

Hiking in the Rain, Almost as Good as Dancing

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A few weeks ago we mapped out fun things we were going to do this summer. This weekend we had scheduled a backpacking trip. As the date approached, the overwhelming sense of home and farm chores took hold, and the idea of prepping for an overnight backpacking trip seemed too daunting. I wanted to scrap the whole thing, but Shane pushed for it. I’m glad he did. On Sunday, we headed east of Fairbanks to do a short hike. The dogs enjoyed some quality time and getting to explore a new trail.

By the time we reached the top, a thunderstorm was rolling in. As the lightning started, we thought it best we vacate the iron mountain. Though not before a quick selfie.

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I especially enjoyed the last bit of the trail where we walked through an old forest fire site. In 2014, over 700,000 acres burned in this area. It was somewhat eerie walking through the blackened trees.

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We head to Seattle the first week in July. We are planning on doing several hikes in our downtime. A good way to escape reality for a bit.