I recall life before computers, before the internet, before every single person carried a phone, 24/7. I recall life before blue light dangers. I recall life before automated everything. Who writes checks anymore? Who carries cash? Very, very few of us. I also recall life before the onslaught of information. The information highway. My head hurts.
Today I was busy putting away some staples in my pantry. I am obsessed with glass. I slowly got rid of plastic and teflon from my life. Now I open containers and dump everything into glass jars. You know, oats and chicken stock mix (organic of course! LOL!), and seasonings, and cereals. Everything from yeast to ground flour, to my soaked and dehydrated grains, all reside in glass containers. During our last 5-point-something earthquake, nothing moved. Whew. But I like the idea of uniform storage and being organized. A friend said I am getting a little obsessed with organizing everything. But in this world of noise and chaos and way too much information, being able to control something (like my pantry) gives me peace. Solace. Quiet. Neat = quiet in my book. So I am obsessing about neat because I can control neat. Kinda.
We are making some changes around here. We chose to remove our natural gas, built-in, fireplace and go with a wood stove. A free-standing wood stove. We are very excited. But you know how it is, there are ideas and then there is reality. We have to make that transition happen. My head hurts. Again. I am learning more than I ever wanted to know, nor thought I needed to know, about wood stoves. The one thing I did get that both of us agreed upon, was the enamel was brown and shiny, and not flat black. I liked the look of the brown. However, we also have to gouge a big hole in our living room wall, and remove our gas insert. Then we have to create an elevated surround, and then we get to have the stove installed. Installers just install. They don’t do “bricks and sticks,” which is a term I just learned. They just hook it all up. In other words, we get to use the hammers and yank out the walls and then we get to create a stone fireplace surround for this stove to sit in. Once it is how we want it, the installers install. That is all. So now, we get to research fire-safe surrounds, designs, materials we need, and how much time this will take, let alone cost. Sigh. It is never simple. All we want is simple and quiet and closer to the earth.
So now starts the transformation of our home from typical tract house in Alaska, to an Alaskan home. Removing the sort of details that make no sense in the land of snow, mud, and sunshine. Like what? White carpeting is first on my list. Who does that? And our new, independent of the gas company, wood stove. It can heat the whole house – easily. And I am excited to make the house a little more country. A little less mainstream or civilized. It is amazing to me how much is involved in detaching from the world.
As soon as this ridiculous amount of snow melts, it is on to the greenhouse. I have been struck so hard with the fact that we have roughly 90 days to grow a year’s worth of vegetables to store. And here in Alaska, pretty much everyone has a greenhouse. WIth -20 degrees on St. Patrick’s Day, and at least 6 feet of snow firmly sitting on top of everything, Spring is pretty elusive. I have discovered we have to meticulously plan gardens. Organize seeds. Prepare a place to grow them indoors, to later transplant to a protected greenhouse, and then into raised beds. It is a lot of work and it is done mostly while snow is still on the ground. I now even have a Garden Journal. It is so pretty and I am already filling out parts of it. The plans part. The reality part comes as the season progresses. And I know we will learn a lot. We are surrounding ourselves with like-minded people, who also have a lot more knowledge of how to do all of this, so that makes me very happy. I have experts all over the place. I took a “bread braids” class last night, while hubby attended “Layers 101” about chickens! LOL. Who would have thought??
We would like to be self-sustaining, and less connected. Up here, we are at the literal end of the supply chain from the lower 48 states. And with Canada having its temper-tantrums and closing ports and making truck shipping just ugly, having empty shelves at the grocery store is no joke. So we are re-thinking how we use our yard and what we do with our space. Being simple is so complex. There are so many moving parts. My head hurts. Still. This old California girl is learning how to be an Alaskan. It means throwing off so many things; leaving ideas and ways of living behind, and adopting new and different ideas. I mean, I now have 25 pound tubs of grains in my pantry. I have a dehydrator and grinding mill on my kitchen counters. I make my breads from, quite literally, scratch. I am learning about lecithin and gluten and how to remove the acids from grains so they are more bio-available. I am learning about organic. That is a master’s degree in and of itself! I learned about using vinegar with the “mother.” Who knew?
When the chaos and onslaught of information gets to me, I try and pet my dog, or have a cup of “Dandy Blend” – because amongst all these things, we gave up coffee and sugar and soda. Sigh. LOL. Dandy Blend is a tasty alternative to coffee and it’s working for me. I also use organic honey and oat milk in it. Oat milk! Some days I don’t recognize myself. LOL. My cupboard now contains boxes and boxes of herbal teas in all flavors. I am no longer using milk. I am shying away from anything in a package or a box. I shop mostly the outside of the store, if I even shop at the store. We try to source local for all our needs, which can be a challenge. Picking up my farm co-op order in freezing, blowing snow, meeting at the local grocery store parking lot for the hand-off! LOL! Never in a million years did I think I would get my meat from the farmer out the back of a truck. Fresh eggs. Carrots right out of the ground. Yet, here I am!! I’m trying to be a better me; a me who knows nutritionally which thing to place on my plate and which to avoid. It is all about a lot of habits that need undoing, a lot of relearning that needs to happen, and a lot of deep breaths. Because truly, all this information does create its own headache. It really does. Today, the sun is bright and the snow is sparkling (because it is so cold) and I am overwhelmed. I had the beginnings of a migraine last night at the bread class, and it is trying to sneak itself back in my life today as I made spaghetti sauce from scratch and baked a loaf of bread. So I am going to be kind to myself, watch an episode of Time Team on Prime, have a hot cup of Madagascar Vanilla tea, and maybe even take a nap. That’s what I think of all the information knocking on the door of my brain. There is always tomorrow.