For my grandmother (poem)

For my grandmother:

There is somebody who will remember

the map of your skin

and the candy you chose

to fill the heavy lidded,

solid fitted,

multi- faceted

bowl of your life.

I will remember

the powdered rose scent

of your bathroom

and what you chose

to surround you.

your unmatchable smile,

the way you giggled,

your love,

all still keep me company.

 

 

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Easy D.I.Y.- Making a Sign

It was a fun project to help a friend problem solve and remind her of how special she is~

I have a good friend whose parking space at school was always taken because she has to travel between schools.  In Alaska this is a big deal in winter because there are a limited number of spots that have plug ins that interior Alaskans mush have to heat up the oil pan, engine block and battery blanket to keep our cars chugging through down to -50 F temps.  So while she was away to a conference celebrating the wonderful Librarians of Alaska, I wanted to do a little to show how much the people right here appreciate all she does to keep us revved up to visit the library.

I had some wood pieces that had been cut flat on one side but left bark on the back.  They had been tunneled through under the bark by some critter (spruce beetle?) so my first job was to remove the rest of the bark and the debris from their chewed up tunneling.  It actually makes beautiful designs so I didn’t mind. IMG_6714

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Then I sanded down both the front and back sides and realized I could also handsaw off a few bumps from limbs gone by.  Luckily my boyfriend had a power hand sander that worked great.  I love painting so I whipped up a design in pencil then painted it on (as seem on featured image).  Once that dried I applied a layer of shellac, and (pressed for time, as she was due back) I didn’t wait quite the full 4 hours recommended before adding another layer.

While that was drying I moved onto the post portion.  Her husband supplied me with a small 1x 1 that was perfect for the job.  I first tried sawing but was shown this handy chisel tool and away I went carving one end of the post into a piercing point.  This was actually pretty fun.

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To attach the post to the sign I wanted to make a third piece that would attach to both the sign back and the post.  So using some scrap sheet metal from her husband, I used a tin snips to cut out a piece to fit. IMG_6722

Clamping the post in an anvil, I used a small hammer to shape the metal around the post on three sides.  The remaining metal would lay flush to the sign.  My boyfriend showed me how to make dents with this punch to start the screws easily. IMG_6727

Then after the shellac wasn’t sticky to the touch I screwed it to the post using the metal bracket I had made. I’m sure there are lots of other solutions you could make up for this connection.  This was just what worked out easily for me.  I also left more of the post above, because it was winter time and the sign would then stick only in the snow. In spring she may want to shift the sign further up on the pole when more of it would be driven down deeper into the dirt.IMG_6728

But this is it for now. She said it worked great for keeping her spot free and didn’t have a problem again until she took the sign down when the snow melted and the ground was still thawing.  It was a fun project to help a friend problem solve and remind her of how special she is~IMG_6732

Easy D.I.Y.- Sewing FiX

The whole process took less that 30 minutes or so, and now I have a flattering cute top rather than a saggy baggy mess.

So I found this extra large top that I loved the feel and the pattern of, but no way could I wear it in public.  So instead of hauling out the sewing machine, I came up with this quick fix.  I’ve always liked empire waists that emphasize the bust line, so I simply pulled the front sides of the shirt back behind my arm til I found where it overlapped the back panel of material while still covering my bra line.  IMG_7159

Then I pulled the remaining fabric forward while keeping the front material tucked in the fold.

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After that I just started from the inside of the back hold point and sewed along my bust line.  I actually did that while I was wearing it, but just because I didn’t have any pins on hand and I was just kinda caught up in the moment.  IMG_7170

I did the same thing on the other side, just checking the the arm holes seemed about the same size.  The whole process took less that 30 minutes or so, and now I have a flattering cute top rather than a saggy baggy mess.  This of course would need to be a stretchy knit probably to start with for it to work, but I was pretty happy with the results.  As you can see I’m wearing another tank under, just because I didn’t want to worry about revealing too much in pictures, but it is definitely a stand alone piece.

The flesh of this fish (poem)

From the moment I felt too close to you

Blushing at touching

Overlapping and apologizing

There was no denying

As we were filleting

More than the flesh of this fish was

Going to be exposed.

Because your eyes on me

Made me fumble

I was jumbling words

and stumbling for sentences

Everything got slippery

Scales shifted

You showed me the way

And made me try it for myself.

 

 

(I liked it.  Even if I don’t remember how to do it again in the future.)

(artwork by me in Notan Printmaking tradition)

Kombucha Fireball Cocktail

So this may be too simple to even call a recipe, but I wanted a little sip of something and didn’t have any soda to speak of.  So I just mixed my homemade kombucha which has great zing and some fireball whiskey.  It tastes pretty much like a very smooth straight shot of fireball.  Of course a bit weaker than straight, which I enjoyed.

Just a cocktail idea for you~

Beet Juice Quinoa

This recipe is so simple I probably can’t call it a recipe, but thought it was worth a share. I had some beet juice and water chestnut liquid left from another food preparation, so instead of throwing them out I used them to replace half the water for my quinoa.  It not only gave the quinoa a nice tinted color for an interesting plating, but also was a nice twist on the taste buds.  Also if you live in a dry cabin like me, it’s an easy way to use a little less water and utilize available liquids instead of them going to waste.  This experience has made me more open to trying this again with some other veg. juices.

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Pickled Salmon Sushi Roll

For me the key to sushi enjoyment is the right balance of dry and wet and mingling of flavor components. This one was a hit.

I started using seaweed wraps while I was living in Hawaii.  They are the perfect travel food because they serve as a catch all container that you can carry 100 of in your backpack without even noticing they’re there.  That’s my secret backpacking tip.  Now onto this dish.

My boyfriend’s family gave us a jar of their wonderful homemade pickled salmon.  It’s one great way Alaskans use to save their fish catch of the season.  This was my first time trying it, and it was delicious.  The salmon was pickled with slices of onion, peppers, lemon, and peppercorns.

I know I am not a trained or traditional sushi maker, but I love how it’s such a fun way to combine flavors.  For me the key to sushi enjoyment is the right balance of dry and wet and mingling of flavor components.  This one was a hit.

Pickled Salmon Sushi

I spread a little mayo on a flat seaweed wrap and then made of bed of Calrose rice over this.  (I had previously cooked and seasoned the rice so it was more flavorful).

Then I spread pesto generously in a wide line next to the rice and spread chunks of creamy goat cheese along the line of pesto. Then I cut the pickled salmon into bite sized pieces and lay them perpendicular to the direction I would roll the wrap to ensure clean easy bites.  Then I drizzled some of the juices from the pickled salmon jar onto the rice and added a few onion and pepper slivers out of the pickled jar.  Wetting the points of contact on the seaweed I wrapped it up… this is the hard part and just takes practice…and Voila! Yum time

Tips for Dry Cabin Living

Only for the curious

I was recently asked for tips from someone who was going to be trying out the dry cabin lifestyle.  It is a big change to go from the option of having streams of hot water flowing with the twist of a wrist to hauling every ounce of water you will use to your home under your own power.

Dry cabin living is not for everyone, this was my first tip.  I think most people have a gut feeling if it is something they feel capable of tackling.  It requires, by sheer demand of exerted energy, that you form a much stronger understanding of your relationship with water.  When I first started living dry in 2009, I don’t think I realized how much it would change the way I think about water.

Tip 2: Each person pick a plate, cup, bowl, spoon, fork, & knife that are uniquely identifiable and stick to those items. See 170121: Dry Cabin Minimalism Marriage This really keeps you accountable for your own mess and in the rhythm of washing things before eating again, to prevent the “dish mountain”.   (We do have 2 cups each, but just because one may wander upstairs or stay bedside and then we still have an option without tracking through the house.  One is a french press thermos so we can drink hot things, and the other just a glass of our choice)

Tip 3: Do your dishes right after/ during cooking/ eating.  When the food is still moist on the plate or pan, it takes much less water to clean (also takes less time because you aren’t attacking stubborn food crusties.)

Tip 4: Most people will have a sink, and use Aquatainers, https://www.amazon.com/Reliance-Products-Aqua-Tainer-Gallon-Container/dp/B001QC31G6 because you can lay them on their side to be a faucet just by opening the valve.  The underside plumbing of the sink gets cut off so it will drain into a 5 gal. bucket.  (if you live in a warm climate you can set up a more complex drainage system, but here in an Alaska winter water would freeze if you try to divert it out of the house, and just form a gigantic ice mound… can you tell I tried it? ;))

Tip 5: CHECK THE BUCKET OFTEN. You need to make sure you are emptying the catch bucket once it gets around half way full.  When you are new to dry living it’s best to add an extra catch tray to set the bucket in, until you get used to internalizing that check as part of your water habit.  The Aqua tainers hold 6-7 gal and the bucket only 5… you see the dilemma.

Tip 6: Stay Aware of your remaining water.  I keep about 5-6 Aquatainers at my other place. (I will talk more about the water system in my current cabin in a follow up post)  When I’m down to my last jug full, I take the others all at one time to go refill.  We are fortunate here in northern AK to have such good water.  I can fill from a friend’s outdoor tap and get great fresh drinking water.  In Fairbanks there are actual water stations to fill, and my boyfriend can put 6, six gal containers upright in his hatchback and the hose has a stop valve so he can fill them all without even taking them out of the car.  More amazing is that we can get 36 gallons that way for 50 cents.  Yeah, sorry, you won’t find that deal just anywhere.  People in Fairbanks who have such good water set ups that you can barely tell it’s a dry cabin have 400-500 gal tanks in the bed of their pick up trucks to fill and just pump it out at home… luxury dry cabin living :). Those places often have gravity fed water and full water heaters and showers.

Tip 7: Get a teapot.  This is the water heater for a simple dry cabin.  Better than a pot because you have better control for pouring. I mix boiling and regular water in a dish pan with my dish soap and usually put some more on to boil while I wash in case I need a second round.  It’s also good to have a drain catch as the less food breaking down in the bucket the less smelly it will be.

Tip 8: Paper Towels are a good friend.  If you cook with cast iron, and even some other, a good pass or two with a paper towel will be effective in cleaning out a freshly used greasy pan. Lots of plates and things I swipe first with a paper towel to save on work that would otherwise require a lot of water.  Also if you have a pan with things stuck on, much better to add a little water and put it back on the stove to soak off than to apply more and more water trying to scrub it.

Tip 9: Outhouse.  These are surprisingly simple.  Make sure your pit is deeply dug, and the housing over the top is well built, I can’t give advice on that as mine was in place when I got my place, but it’s lovely.  I set up a small cupboard outside to set up an aquatainer, soap dish and hanging towel.. (I will have to take pics and post them on here some day).  If you don’t want another water station, always easy to wash hands back at the kitchen sink.  I like to have an extra one outside just for the ease.  Best not to put toilet paper down the outhouse pit, as this just wastes unnecessary space.  I keep a bin for used tp and incinerate it in the wood stove every now and again.

Tip 10:  Catch water.  I have some buckets to catch rain water off the gutter, just for using on plants etc.  There are much more advanced systems for this, but you get the basic idea, utilize your available water if possible.

Tip: 11: Friends/ Solar Shower/ Colander/ Mug/ Tea pot. I would like to eventually make a heated shower system.  But for now in terms of showering in winter I either go to a friend’s house, or just wash my hair etc with a mix of hot/cold water poured through a colander over my hair over the sink for a few rounds to wet, sham, rinse, cond, rinse.  Again I keep the kettle going in case I need more.  In summer time I use my solar shower It’s surprising how little water it actually takes, and I have shoulder length hair. I have a nice spot outside on the land out of sight.  I love being out in the sunshine for a shower.

Dry cabin living can be done in many places, but it is not always simple to source water affordably if you don’t live near friends or a metropolitan location.

If you have any questions feel free to write me.  Since I’ve been living dry since 2009 it’s hard to think of all things one may wonder.

Nomenclature (poem)

This is a poem I wrote Jan. 13th, 2015 at 10:43 am Hawaiian time. I just refound it.

Nomenclature

In your abbreviated goodbye

I see it all very clear

The second you know you can affect me

Is the same as when you disappear.

You talk big story, say you want me to be raw and real,

How did I know when I tried

It would turn in to a raw deal?

But no matter,

rebuilding skin is second nature,

And I hate to say it, but it’s all nomenclature.

What you say I am and what you see

It’s just the version you attached to me.

 

I thought maybe you were different

Could see through to the other side.

But somehow I’m always just a symbol

And all I’ve got to keep is my pride.

 

Yes, I know I got a chest full of lions,

That no man has ever tamed

Not sure why I keep trying  to think all men aren’t the same.

So I lock up the cage again,

Walk around pretty untouchable me

Going into the jungle again to let me roam free

Maybe this was just the way my life was meant to be.

 

But when you caught my eye it felt more than fleeting

Sound disappeared in eye smiles meeting.

The way my heart felt, like it never felt before.

Each time I found you at the threshold of my door.

 

Now I wonder was it all a dream

Can anything ever be as good as how we seemed?

Cause it was give and take

and tea and cookies

The middle of the night and the sunrise

It was the running river and the stars above

I don’t want to wonder what happened to our love

Because life is beautiful and life is free

And that’s how I want to

Remember you and you me.

 

Why does it scare me to see your fallibility?

The trees lose their leaves,

The river gets muddy

And I never worry

Cause I know they’ll come around again

Grow again and clear.

2017 World Ice Art Championships

The multi block teams only have three days to complete their sculptures, and this year it was in the -40s F while they worked. That’s what I call dedication to your art form.

Although these sculptures are now well on their way to melting, I would like to share a few of my favorite ice carvings seen this March in Fairbanks, Alaska at the 2017 International Ice Sculpture competition. There are a number of categories in which people may compete.  There is single block competition, multi- block, children’s, and amateur divisions.

The image here is a close up of the cage and key part of a phoenix sculpture.  I am so amazed by how even they are able to do the widths and curves.  Just blows me away.IMG_6971

The bee here is also part of the single block competition as was the image above.  This sculptor did such a great job with proportion and texture, which was definitely not true of all the sculptures I saw. IMG_6972

I think this is supposed to be Trump, looking up at Lady Liberty.  My friend thought perhaps he was supposed to be pondering immigration…  (A multi block piece)IMG_6974

 

The multi block teams only have three days to complete their sculptures, and this year it was in the -40s F while they worked.  That’s what I call dedication to your art form.  This piece below is a close up from another multi block piece, you will see a soaring bird in a later pic that was also from this sculpture.  I am amazed at some of the concepts that are designed for the contest, not all achieve their desired results, but this fetus in the womb was very well illustrated.

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One of the last pieces we saw, but one of my absolute favorites was this hummingbird that was being worked on by the man in this picture.  I could hardly believe it when I saw that he was carving this for the amateur competition.  Personally, I think it was one of the most beautiful and elegant pieces of the entire park.  IMG_6988

The picture below is just focusing on how the nature around was transformed through the lens of ice.  This carved sphere inverted the woods around it, and was strikingly effective in it’s use of simplicity.

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One of the single block sculptures is shown in the detail below, the entire dragon was done, but I cropped the image down to show you more detail.  The single block competitors I believe are limited to one to two sculptors.  IMG_6957

 

This single block sculpture shows a bit of the international feeling of the event.  There were multiple teams of Asian carvers, and some Russian and Scandinavian I noticed.  It’s amazing that people travel half way around the world to be outside carving in arctic temperatures.  IMG_6958

 

Another globe I really loved was this one below that looks like spikes were all joined together, somehow more clouded in their appearance and then having a clearer sphere around them.  Not sure how it was done, but it turned out great.  (just a small detail of a larger piece)IMG_6984

 

The bear head here gives you an idea how molten the ice can look when carved by an experienced carver.  The union of great sun or lighting can really affect the pieces.  It was surprising to feel the carved ice on some of the mazes and sculptures that were placed throughout the park for a more interactive experience. It didn’t feel wet at all, just very smooth, a unique touch experience, I really loved the feel of it.   There are also a lot of ice slides built for kids to use, and little sculptures for them to climb… in addition to the official sculptures that are hands off. It would be a great place to go with small kids in the winter, tons of spaces to explore and have fun. IMG_6953

 

I can’t begin to image how this carver was able to create such a thin sheet of ice for the wings and texturize it without having it shatter into a million pieces.  But there in lies the art of ice sculpting.  This was also a single block piece. IMG_6964

 

This single block sculpture of what I think is a carnivorous plant I took mainly for my cousin’s son, who has a healthy obsession with these plants lately.  Thought he might like to see this larger than life sculpture of something he loves. Hi Seth!IMG_6962

 

And last but not least, just a simple bird soaring in the sunshine.  If you would like to attend this cool competition in the future or just learn more about it.  Feel free to visit http://www.icealaska.com/www/en/IMG_6978