Sunday, August 3, 2008

One Week Countdown

Moving day is in a week, and I am getting excited about our trek to Delta Junction. While I will miss "country" life while we are on the base (which is like a little "city" in itself), I am so excited about going to bed listening to something other than squirrels chewing up wiring, or voles digging away in my closet.

Oh, yes, folks... the voles have officially made entry. In packing and cleaning yesterday, I discovered vole poop IN THE HOUSE. I considered calling the landlord, but then remembered that I would probably be told, "Welcome to Alaska" once again. I decided to quietly vacuum up the vole poop and hope the voles would at least stay in the closet until after we move.

Speaking of repairs and maintenance that need addressing:
To "fix" the fact that the heater (now "correctly" installed but setting off the smoke detector every time the heat kicks on), the landlord decided that the best way to "fix" the problem was to....
Move the smoke detector.

Should I even call about the dishwasher, then? Ah, the dishwasher. The primary dishwasher (um, ME) has been working quite well. We had some friends over for dinner last week and the current dishwasher (me) and the stand-by dishwasher (J) both decided it would be more convenient to put all the dishes from having company over into the mechanical dishwasher instead of staying up late to hand wash dishes. We loaded the dishwasher, put the detergent in, closed it up and pushed "start". We heard the thing start running, so we both ventured off to bed without another thought.
Until morning.
When I opened the dishwasher hoping for sparkling clean dishes like in the Cascade commercials and got dirty dishes.

All right. One thing y'all need to know about a southern girl (especially this one), is that even though our accents make us sound kind of dumb, we are actually purty smart.
I began a thorough investigation as to why the dishwasher wasn't washing dishes and discovered that for some reason or another (probably voles or squirrels, if you want MY opinion!), water is not feeding into the dishwasher.
So this "right smart" southern girl got the old dishwasher (um, ME) back into gear and hand washed the dishes.

So, even though I feel like it's totally not even worth it to call the landlord about his dishwasher, I feel like I SHOULD. Mostly because if they discover the thing doesn't work after we move out, they will assume we broke it, even though we hand wash dishes and have maybe used the dishwasher appliance maybe 4 times since we moved in.
Oh what fun. Yet another maintenance request to be ignored.
At least that one really doesn't impact my day-to-day life. Though I will say this: if I have to hand wash dishes after company comes, we are totally eating off paper plates next time. *grin*


So, with moving, like I said, I am excited that we are finally making our trek to Delta Junction. And while we will be living in the little "city" that the base is (complete with cable television again), I am also excited about saving our pennies for our next big project... buying land, building our own little cabin, and starting our farm. Y'all will read plenty about that in months to come, so I won't elaborate on details now. But it's nice to see that our dream is very much a reality here in Alaska.


The weekend has been full of busy preparations... packing and cleaning, mostly.

You know what? I know I'm always harping on "saving the environment" and the whole reduce, reuse, recycle bit. I am also quite the advocate for thrifty living and what I call "needing less living" (basically realizing that we DON'T "need" all the junk marketed to us, and not competing with the neighbors who have all the fun toys that we don't REALLY "need".) We analyze nearly every purchase in our home to a fault. And I THOUGHT we were really good at making sure we didn't purchase stuff that we really didn't need.

So why is it that every single time we move or clean house I find tons more stuff to sell, take to the "useful things" area of the dump, give away, or beg someone to take off my hands?
This brings me to my next "Soapbox Moment", and I am mostly preaching to myself. Bear with me.

It amazes me the stuff we THINK we "need" or "have to have". Really. Not just our family, but all of us, as a community (local and global). Everything from how we "stay connected" to others (Oh boy, don't make us live without our Blackberries, Ipods, cable television and 900 news networks), to articles of clothing or even foods that we think we "can't live without".

The irony that I find is the less I clutter my life with this stuff, the more I seem to have.
Switching from prepackaged foods to making my own stuff not only saved THOUSANDS of dollars over the course of our year, but led to our family eating so much healthier.
Giving up cable TV (um, not by choice, but by location as we were unable to get it in North Pole and unwilling to pay for Dish) means that we watch the news in the morning and evening, select a handful of tolerable shows on PBS when I desperately need a few moments peace from Beans' insistence that she remain glued to my side, and maybe an occasional mindless sitcom on the evenings that J is at work and the house feels "lonely". Other than that, the TV is off. Wow, who would have thought that such a simple thing would not only make us healthier (since we are now active instead of vegging out on the couch watching TV and eating prepackaged foods), we are SMARTER, because we fill our spare time with books from the library or learning new things about our new location.
The same could be said about clothing... you know, before we came here, I wasn't TOO concerned with being prissy or fancy. I've always been one of those "jeans and a tshirt" types. But I still had a few "fancy" things. Tshirts without stains, for instance.
No, seriously...a few nice tops, a couple pairs of khakis and slacks, maybe even a skirt or dress somewhere in the "weddings and funerals" section of my wardrobe. When we left Montgomery, I ditched so much stuff that wasn't going to be practical in Alaska. And now that we are here, I am STILL ditching things that I thought would be useful and just aren't. Cute little heels for instance. Oh sure, some people wear them (mostly the army wives and not the locals). But I discovered on my first trip to church that not only did the heels get stuck in the mud, pine needles creep into open-toes shoes easily, AND I was WAY overdressed for church in Alaska.
Suddenly, the focus is on whether or not our clothes are both PRACTICAL for the weather (um, "dangerously hip hugging" jeans... NOT practical for cool weather, and makes it difficult to run away from bears when your pants fall off your hips) and DURABLE (you should see what even just the easy hikes or carrying firewood can do to your clothes). It's an added bonus if we actually happen to be wearing clothes that somewhat match.
One thing I learned very quickly... "cute" is kind of regarded as "stupid" around here.

I (sort of) digress from my main point, which is waste. Do you realize how many gazillions of dollars are wasted on being "cute"??? And how much waste is produced as a result? I can't tell you how many fashion trends I find at the dump. I don't gather them, of course, because the cute Paris Hilton look-a-like sweater is a good way to get frostbite around here, but it just amazes me that there are piles and piles and piles of discarded clothes that look brand-spanking-new. (In fact, many still have the tags on them when they show up at the dump!)

And to further my point, I have also discovered that it's a huge waste of money and other resources to insist that you "need" 7 pairs of pants, socks, long underwear, whatever it is you "need". You really DON'T need so many of anything. Beans' doesn't "need" 10 pair of pajamas "just in case she spits up or poops on them". I don't "need" 10 pairs of socks "just in case" my feet get wet and I need a clean pair. I can't tell you how many things I am packing that even in our thriftiness, Beans' hasn't worn because we HAVE TOO MUCH.
If everyone took inventory and realized how often they wash laundry, I think we'd probably put a lot of places out of business with TRULY reducing our personal inventories.

I might show my age here, but anyone remember the days of "school clothes and play clothes"? I can remember my mom expecting me to change out of school clothes when I got home from school. First, I wasn't supposed to get my school clothes dirty. Second, my mom didn't want to have to wash a ton of clothes. The school clothes got worn a couple times before they went in the hamper. (Incidentally, so did the play clothes, since my mom figured all I was going to do was smear more dirt on them the second day I wore them!)
What would we really reduce, reuse and recycle if we stopped buying more clean underwear and started doing our laundry more frequently?


OK. Off the soapbox, for now.
I am mostly lecturing myself, especially as I sit and look at three good sized boxes of our things getting ready to go to the dump or a consignment store, and wonder how in the world we keep accumulating so much stuff. And as conscientious as WE are, I wonder what people who don't give a hoot at all and just spend, spend, spend would have stacked up by their front doors if they took their own personal inventories?

Off to continue packing and reducing, reusing, and recycling.... Until next time,

Happy Moose Trails!


Susan Stevenson said...

I haven't worn a dress in more than 5 years, and at that time it was a sundress to beat the FL heat when we lived there.

I dress for comfort and warmth. I don't care about fashions. Who really cares? There's nothing cute about being dressed fashionable and having frostbite.

Steve and I explored Greeley once last year. We drove on base to use the restroom facilities at the PX. We loved the housing there, and the fact that it IS a little community in the middle of nowhere.

We'll be passing by on Thursday, en route to Valdez. I do hope you'll be able to spend a little time in Valdez. The last two hours before you hit Valdez will have your mouth hanging open in awe. It is certainly God's country.

Also... if you want to read a great book that will keep you interested from the moment you pick it up, read "Walking my Dog Jane" by Ned Rozell. He hiked the pipeline from Valdez to Prudoe Bay one summer, with his dog. The book is excellent!

It just so happens that I'm having lunch with him tomorrow - to pick his brain. I'm very excited about that. He's also a contributing scientist for the Alaska Science Forum. If you want to learn about Alaska, check it out: You'll be stuck on that site for HOURS! :)

Safe travels, and an ease in moving. Thank you for allowing me to get to know you and Beans. It was a real pleasure, and I hope we'll have the opportunity to get together again.

kkirby13 said...

Okay, you too???? I was just saying the same thing about having too much stuff!! One week to go for us too, then the trek to Alaska begins. We are, still, trying to figure out where we want to live (Fairbanks/North Pole). Still trying to decide how much "stuff" we need to bring, 30 days on the road and who knows when we will get furniture. And packing for two different climates (here and in Colorado it is 90-100 degrees and there it is in the sixties from what I have read). So we need both the cold and hot I was looking forward to seeing you when we arrived, I guess we will just have to make the drive to Greeley to say "hi" one day.
I wish you the best of luck on the move and we shall be heading your way soon!

cmgilson said...

You should read the book "Material World." The library has it. It shows people from all over the world, standing with all of their possessions. It's really quite ridiculous to see how we compare.

Anonymous said...

is there a freecycle up there? There is here in Wa - and you can GET people to come pick up - bags of clothing - I have some pots out in the front patio that I want to freecycle. Usually people ask them to TAKE the whole lot and not just dig thru things and take what they want.
I've moved multiple times - I have a few boxes of memories.
My hubby has not moved in 25+ years and has SEVERAL boxes and can't seem to let go of an ill fitting shirt or pants to SAVE his life ... but there are many out there who could use them ...
Wool is the bestest material where you live and that's what I would invest in.
As I HATE doing laundry I have lots of soxs - and other necessities ... but that's my weakness! :)
As a renter you have SOME rights EVEN in Alaska. Here in Washington state there is a bill of rights. As a landlord I can tell you I HAVE to pay for a broken anything ... dishwasher (without finger pointing) and just replaced a washer last week, fixed the dryer ... etc.
I had a small trapline in Ft. Yukon when it was summer the small mice/voles came out - every once in a while we'd hear - SNAP ... very satisfying. :) We were living in STATE housing - in '78 and it was pretty drafty! :)
God bless ...

Anonymous said...

I hope your move goes well! Enjoy reading your blog! ;)

Hayley Britt said...

Wow, your soapbox issues sound just like my soapbox issues!