Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spring Snow and Dry Cabin

It is snowing.  Its been snowing and what the radio calls 'snow mist' -ing for days now.  On the bright side, the insulation of heavy clouds and fluffy snow is keeping the temperature around 10 degrees.  A few days ago it dropped to 17 below overnight.  On another bright side, it means that it doesn't matter that I forgot to brush the snow off of the solar panels this morning, because they would have just gotten re-covered by the white stuff.  It is the kind of lovely snow that is picturesque and full of promises of mulled wine and holiday cheer when it falls in December, and pretty enough in February.  But when it falls in April, it just makes me sad.  I try to live graciously in the climate I've placed myself in, and in tune with these seasons, but it is hard sometimes when you see facebook and garden blogs exploding with forsythia, tulips, and daffodils as another few inches of snow accumulates on the feet from the winter outside your windows.  But.  It is better - at least for the growing things - than last year when it got so warm it all melted, and then got really cold again in March/April.  This way, roots have the insulation.

Water Jugs
 It is so easy, in this space, to only speak about the good in life.  To let it become a feel-good space, affirming to myself, that yes - I am making a homestead and art.  But frequently the truth is far from it.  Like earlier this winter when I didn't post about the generator breaking, or about how it made me feel panicked and trapped in a cold house too far away from everything.  Or I didn't post about the expensive fix to the generator and how proud I am/was of my man for figuring it out. 

And now, we're back to a dry cabin lifestyle.  That's a thing here in Fairbanks, where otherwise-first-world-abiding people choose to live without running water.  It makes things simpler in a way, no pipes to worry about freezing or plumbing to back up.  And it makes things like showers, dishwashing, and hand washing more difficult.  We lived in a dry cabin for years, and a good part of me loves the lifestyle.  It is more immediate, more involved somehow with the basics in life.  And when you haul each gallon of water you use, the statistical 176 gallons of water an average american uses a day becomes that much more absurd, privileged, and wasteful.  We used to haul an average of 35  gallons a week for two people, a dog, and a cat or two (excluding infrequent showers, toilet, sink etc use elsewhere). 

And now, we're back to it!  We're hauling drinking and washing and cooking water one 5-gallon blue jug at a time.  On the bright side, I drive past the best water hole in Interior Alaska twice a day on my way into and out of town.  Fox water is famous hereabouts.  One of the main reasons I wanted the Homestead to have water is because I do not relish the idea of cloth-diapering without running water.  I've contemplated it.  I know of people who do it.  But I'm not sure that truly, I'm game for it...  So, I was so happy that our home came with a well and a septic.  But apparently this year is the winter that reminds us of our dependance, and teaches us how to fix the systems we live with, because neither the well nor the septic are functioning properly.

The plumbing has been off and on letting noxious septic scents into the house, and the main septic line under the house has a crack in it.  It has a seasonal (and growing!) patch to the leak, otherwise known as a glacier around it.  So that's been on the top of the spring-time projects list for a while now.  And now we get to add the well line to it.  We don't actually know what is wrong.  We unplugged the heat tape (too early), so it may just be frozen.  But the well pump is running fine, and the well mate inside is registering as empty and asking for water, but nothing is coming out of the taps.  So somewhere between 100 feet underground in the water table and inside our house, we have a problem.  I'm trying to think of it as an opportunity for learning.  And maybe a small challenge from the universe- after all, plumbing was the one thing I thought I wasn't comfortable with/interested in figuring out if we were to build our house... 

But it'll make a great story once its all fixed; and will provide me with DIY bragging rights the like of which I've yet to acquire.


  1. I love this post Mina! The blogging world is well set up for just the diy-handmade-fair traide-postings but you're right, the hardship is part of it too...

  2. I really enjoyed ths post. It reminds me of all the things around me that I take for granted. Thanks for helping me be more appreciative.

    Good luck on the plumbing situation. You are super smart so I'm sure you wil have it up and running again in no time.

    1. Thanks for the vote o' confidence!