Thursday, October 31, 2013

What’s in a name? Part 1: Honey Mama

 I am here to romp, roam, and run the trails in this wild place and reclaim the wild within myself, with my four-legged sidekicks Honey Bearskins Rug,a mutt German Sheprador Hound and our Blues Heeler, Petzl, at my side.

In effort to find a way back in time, in order to deal with life moving forward at a swift and rapid pace.  

I am here to claim my place in The Wild.  

Honey Mama represents the boldest, bravest, most adventurous personification of myself.  

Let’s be clear about something, there are things Honey Mama can do, or should I say has the balls to try, that my normal every-day city-girl-at-heart self is in no way capable of considering, attempting, or executing.  

Examples include: stepping out my front door on a family hike following along game trails deep into the woods, firing a .44, .22 (any firearm really); ripping apart a spruce hen with my bare hands, holding a still-warm tiny heart in my hands, and cooking it up for dinner in a cast iron pot on an eight burner beast of a wood-fired cook stove; holding down The Lodge for an overnight with the kids while the husband is “In Town”; and the simple act of being solitary in the woods.  Honey Mama is that voice that tells fear and doubt to shut the hell up and gives me the courage to try something wild.  

Honey Mama is one of the mom-inspired names my son George proudly bestowed upon me around the time he turned three.  A combination of the most often used pet name my husband has given me, Honey and marrying that to the Mama in me, and Honey Mama was born.  I thought George might call me that for a week or two, then forget about it and the sweet nickname would fade into the mist of memory and somehow be forgotten. 

Honey Mama quickly became a favorite title for both 
of my kids to call me and it started to stick.  

When we were in the early stages of orchestrating our big move I knew I wanted to blog about it, but I have never written a blog before and even the smallest steps felt like long, slow hill climbs. I spent a fair ridiculous amount of time brainstorming ideas for blog names and came up with all sorts of titles that described specific aspects of my life, compartments.  

Running.  Cooking.  Mothering. Crafting. Writing. Reading. Music. Following your bliss.  Living an inspired life.  Yearning for Wilderness.  Childhood dreams and the maddening pursuit of life, liberty, freedom -- destiny.  

Every idea I had represented something, but no idea represented everything.  I was challenged with the task of coming up with a title that encompasses what I envision this journey to be about, before I even took one step out our front door into the cul-de-sac and headed into The Wild.  I finally decided to stop driving myself crazy procrastinating and chose a "temporary title", a place holder until something "good" came along.  I  picked something close to my heart, something that made me smile and think of the sweet way George and Maya say "Honey Mama".  I created the blog page and used the title as a place holder for formatting and made a note to dream up something better in the meantime. I didn't tell anyone about the title, the existence, the birth of The Blog, but it was the first step in finding my new place in the world.  Putting something down on paper and running with it if the feeling is right, no matter how flawed and imperfect it may be, and moving forward.  
Once the moving truck was loaded and the last box packed we came down with a wicked cold and I had a lot of time to lay there and question my existence.  I spent the time horizontal, unable to move, uncomfortably resting on camp mats, in an empty house, waiting on the closing of the three real estate transactions that were orchestrated delicately.  I called it The House of Cards.  In the end the transactions happened 3 weeks late and somehow managed to close within 24 hours of each other. I signed the closing documents for the sale of The Labrador House with a 102.6 fever, and declared that my final streaking day. I had been running a minimum of one mile per day since Thanksgiving (2012).  I used the feverish haze to my advantage and brainstormed random and seemingly useless thoughts about what I wanted this blog to be:  
Is it about living in a little log house on the edge of 13,175,799 acres of National Park and Preserve?  The literal edge of the last frontier, or; 

Reclaiming the lost knowledge of hunting, gathering, trapping, and subsisting

Staying in touch with family and friends? 

Cooking a broad assortment of foods ranging from vegan to heavily carnivorous, glutenized to gluten-freesavory and sweet?  

Handcrafting unique items with a ball of yarn and two sticks, a vintage sewing machine and freecycled craft supplies, and repurposed objects

Was it about the journey to claim ones destiny, following Wilder Childhood Dreams of being Laura

Or was I here to tell my story of a previously life: me as a sedentary, overweight, out of shape, non-athletic, wild animal fearing city girl transitioning into a trail running, bear aware woman of the wild, pushing up against the very limits my physical and mental experience with the end goal of running Ultra Marathon distances, for fun? 

Or was it going to be about the nuances of rural living presented as a compare and contrast narrative, featuring our attempts to figure out how to survive out here, despite what some might argue is a lack of general knowledge common sense in the art of rural Alaskan living and the act of survival, with two kids ages 4 and 5 along for the ride?
In the end, I decided it was about all of these things and all the undiscovered bits and pieces that will be revealed along The Journey.  There was no way I could condense, compartmentalize, or whittle this wild smattering of interests, passion and madness down into a neat, perfect little package. So I just went with it.

     The blog was born out of a desire to share an experienceOur experience.  One normal (enough) city-dwelling family, selling the perfect home, in the perfect neighborhood, leaving a perfect job, and my much-loved Anchorage running (and triathlon) community in search of something we are not yet able to fully articulate.  The one thing I do know is whatever “It” is, I need to be here in order to experience it.  

The more I thought about it, the more fitting Honey Mama Runs Wild became.  

Honey Mama was born out of pure love and what I suspect is my son’s ideal version of his mother.  The Mary Poppins like version of myself, the sweetest, most patient, albeit flawed and imperfect motherly vision.  A vision I had for myself when I was pregnant with George five years ago.  It turns out Honey Mama represented everything I had hoped I could be.

    This journey is about achieving something I cannot define.  

When discussing the idea to move someplace rural, remote I struggled with the question: Am I running away from something? I didn’t think I was, but how else can you explain the desire to leave a comfortable, secure life in The City, filled with family, friends, a vital running and triathlon community in exchange for vast wilderness, isolation, mind-numbing cold, and total insecurity.  No safety net.  No plan B.  

I wasn’t able to answer that question before we moved here, but I didn’t let that stop me from moving forward.  Guided by a quote that found me during this phase of deep contemplation and personal reflection: “You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward.” (unknown).  Once we were here a while I decided I wasn’t running away from anything.  Instead, I was running toward something.  Something real, authentic, and destined.  The way in which the pieces magically fell together leaves me with no other explanation than fate.  While it is true we did put a tremendous amount of work into pulling this vision off, the reality is the forces that truly made it possible were far beyond our control and we are here, in part, for reasons that exist outside our family.  We are here to be part of a Community.  To share the vision of living a wild life with our neighbors and to be part of something we can truly rally behind and devote our lives to fully.  This is not the story of a comfortable existence, nor is it one of struggle and hardship.  

It’s about one family choosing a different way to live, and having either the blessing or curse of faith fueled optimism and a touch of romanticism about living someplace on the edge of the wilderness.

I want our children learn that anything is possible, no dream too big or far-fetched, no road too long to run. I want to raise our children with the knowledge that a wild life is a valid choice and the only constraints on our experience are ones we place upon ourselves.  
So we gave up the idea of perfection and opted to try something completely  different, not knowing if we were truly hardy enough to take on such an adventure.  We swapped the perfect house for an imperfect unfinished one, where crayon on a wall and grape juice on a carpet are not frustrating catastrophes.  Instead we take note of the incidents and when we have a moment get to it, and not a moment before.  The imperfect house with flawed carpet and 30 year old panled walls has turned out to be more perfect than the perfect house, in the perfect neighborhood.  Opting instead, for a more relaxed house and a more relaxed life has already opened new doors in our consciousness and has revealed new, lesser taken paths in our day-to-day experiences.  This different path has revealed possibilities that I didn’t know existed, until I arrived here.  Dreams I didn’t know I had have rose up to meet me with the painted sky sunrises over the Mentasta Mountains.  

Visions for the future.  

We’ve been home for two and a half months and in that time not a single day has gone by without some kind of affirmation creeping into our daily life.  Confirming we made the right decision and are on the right track, even if we don’t know what that means or what direction we are heading in.  Living a life rooted in our wildest dreams and childhood visions of adulthood.  Wings to flyFreedom.  

The vision of Honey Mama is what enabled me to step away from comfort and security and go out searching for the bravest, most-bad ass version of myself and gave me the permission to put it all out there, to share it, without agonizing about the imperfections.  The journey to becoming Wild Mountain Honey Mama: Woman of the Wrangell-St. Elias Frontier has given me permission to move forward in life, despite the fact we lack a sustainable long-range plan. Reclaiming a lost dream that is rooted in our shared values and vision for the 
future; fueled by hopes and dreams.  
- H.M. Wild  
Coming soon: What’s In a Name? Part 2: The Moose Lodge 

Photo (Left): Me, age 4.  Early grooming to live a life where an ATV is a reasonable vehicle for running errands and taking kids to the bus stop.

New photos are always going up on Honey Mama Runs Wild, check them out and be sure to "like" the Facebook page! 

P.S. As I wrapped up this post a song came on my live-stream radio that I didn’t quite place and made me stop and take note.  I had to share it here because I had just wrote about the little signs, daily affirmations delivered in unexpected, serendipitous ways.  It was The Lumineers cover of The Talking Heads: This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody), and it nearly brought me to tears and gave me a flutter in my heart, another bit of affirmation that I am exactly where I need to be. I love both versions, each brings something different.  In this place and time the cover resonates on a deeper, more emotional level than the original.  I just had to share that little moment. If that resonates with you on any level and you are in search of something to warm your heart and soul, watch this clip from the 2011 movie This Must Be The Place, with Sean Penn and if you really want to go down the rabbit hole check out this beautifully put together movie soundtrack plug. 

Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me round
I feel numb born with a weak heart
(So I) guess I must be having fun
The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground
Head in the sky
It's okay I know nothing's wrong nothing

Hi yo I got plenty of time
Hi yo you got light in your eyes
And you're standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money
Always for love
Cover up and say goodnight say goodnight

Home is where I want to be
But I guess I'm already there
I come home she lifted up her wings
Guess that this must be the place
I can't tell one from another
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time before we were born
If someone asks, this where I'll be where I'll be

Hi yo We drift in and out
Hi yo sing into my mouth
Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view
I'm just an animal looking for a home
Share the same space for a minute or two
And you love me till my heart stops
Love me till I'm dead
Eyes that light up, eyes look through you
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head ah ooh

If someone asks, this where I'll be -- Home.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Living Wilder

        The written word.  As a child it represented a secret language and I wanted to become a native speaker.  Books were my favorite toys.  My second favorite toys were paper and crayon, pencil and pen. I would sit alone in my room, surrounded in my only-childness and pretend I could read the words.  I would study them intently trying  to identify the pattern, to crack the secret code.  
Four and five is a magical age.  Watching George and Maya learn to write, to read, to properly speak the language is a miracle.  An absolute miracle.  How is it we all manage to learn the many intricacies and nuances that make up the English language?  It is really incredible when you think about it.  In the broader context, all the languages ever spoken, written, shared have served as a way to stay connected, to create community.  It is amazing how we are all able to communicate with one another using a common language, no matter how many thousands of miles, different cultures, or alternate universes that separate us.  

      The other day my mother reminded me of when I was five and six and learning to write, to read.  I wanted it so bad and I didn’t even know why. Within those letters words were disguised, assembled and arranged perfectly to form language and ideas.  A shared collective knowledge that I desperately wanted in on.  

Maya is in the early stages of learning to read and write words (other than her name, she has all of our names down).  Maya is a self-motivated and determined little code cracker.  She is a focused student and is persistent in her pursuit of knowledge.  Once she captures the knowledge and files it into her rapidly growing brain, the next instinct is to teach her newfound knowledge to her little brother George.  Once Maya has mastered it and she moves on to the next bit of knowledge and beings decoding and interpreting the secret language of reading and writing.  One bit and piece at a time.

My mom and me w/ Petzl and Honey
My mom remembers my learning to read and write in an entirely different light.  Like Maya I was motivated and dedicated to learning to crack the code that reading represented, but my brain would get flooded and then I struggled think of any intelligent thought.  I could sing my ABC’s for “all night long” [aka: forever] but when it came to writing them I struggled.  Maya used to struggle and get easily flooded, then Ms. Heidi her kindergarten teacher came along and helped unlock the magic in Maya’s brain.  In two short months Maya is now working on addition, subtraction, writing sentences, and reading. 

I remember being around three years old sitting in my bedroom admiring my loaded 5ft tall book shelf.  I had inherited the majority of my dad’s childhood books and had built up a library of my own, from Grandparents who frequently surprised me with another book, because they brought such joy to my life, even at 2 and 3 years old.  The bigger the book the greater my interest.  
Sporting a bonnet, channeling my inner Laura before I could walk. 

     No pictures,  no problem!  I had words to study and explore.  I found the illustrations in children’s books distracting when I was a child, so learning to read children’s books was challenging. The illustrations would challenge my brain to go on a path it did not want to walk.  I needed the mystery of pure imagination.  It took a while to figure out it wasn’t that I couldn’t read, I just wasn’t reading what I wanted to read.  

Then I met Laura.

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder was my gateway to readingMid-way through my first grade year we had a book fair in our elementary school gym and everyone got to select one book. I gravitated to the big kid books, with chapters and print words. Not the storybooks of first grade.  I wasn’t interested in being told what to think, I wanted to imagine and dream.  I knew I had to learn how to crack the code in order to understand the important stuff that was waiting for me in the grand assortment of books the world has to offer.  
At the book fair I scanned the books laid out neatly on the table, nervously, hoping I wouldn’t be busted for being at the big kid table.  I scanned back and forth, then quickly chose a big thick book based solely on the picture on the front cover.  A girl with straight brown hair like my very own, and big dark eyes glancing up holding a baby doll close to her chest, with her family surrounding her from behind in a little log cabin house in the woods. Gold.  I eagerly plucked it off the big kids book table and shuffled back over to my classmates.
       I thought I had smuggled the book without anyone taking notice, then my teacher quietly pulled me aside and asked me to put the book back and choose one from the grade-level table.  I don’t think I spoke, but I know I didn’t back down either.  Then he asked me to read him the title.  I couldn’t.  He requested I put it back and offered to help me find a better book.  I had to choke back tears.  My lower lip quivered a little and I may have had a tear or twelve rolling down my cheeks, but that day Laura came home with me in my backpack and she became one of my heroes, before I could even read a single word of what she wrote. 

My Grandma bought me a complete set of Little House books for Christmas when I was 7.  I read them one by one, in order.  Then re-read the first two: Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie.  To this day the Little House book set is one of my most cherished possessions   It also means I have duplicate copies of a couple books, because I can’t bear to part with my original copy of the book that popped my reading cherry.  Laura had me at “Little House in the Big Woods” and the rest came easy.  The motivation was fueled because I knew Laura.  

        Even before I knew Laura existed, I wanted to be her. I lived to be outside, to explore, to pretend I was surviving off the land.  When me and Laura met in the big woods, I stepped into a new part of myself, a secret identity revealed.  

Laura taught me about life and what it is to be a brave, adventurous, good, kind, and resourceful.  She showed me how a young woman could live in the woods.  She inspired me.  Laura and her family were filled with an independent adventurous spirit and they were willing to take on the landscape and face the hardships and challenges that come with the territory.  It didn’t take more than a couple of pages of Little House in the Big Woods, before I was eagerly working through the pages, asking my mom to read me all the words I couldn’t yet read.  I read the words I could, my mom filled in what she had time for and the rest came to me in wilder dreams, until I could finally read the whole book.    

Then I learned to write. Really write.  As soon as I learned to write, I started keeping a journal and became pen pals with my Great Grandma and two of her sisters.  

     Twenty four years later, they are all still alive, pushing 100 and we are all still pen pals.  I received a letter just yesterday from my Great Grandma. I opened it at the mailbox and began reading it as I walked down our snow covered driveway, snow crystals sparking in the early morning sunshine, snow melting from the dense spruce tips, illuminated by a magic inner light. Mt. Sanford and Mount Drum straight ahead and The Mentastas to my left, I stopped walking and took a moment to finish reading the letter.  

My Great Grandma wrote: “I know if I were young I am sure I would have found a place up in the hills.  I like the out of doors and to see the first snow it is so beautiful.” .  

      Reading the words of my nearly 100 year old Great Grandma, taking in the beauty of the first measurable snow of the year, surrounded by the mountains brought a tear to my eye and caused me to give thanks once again for the beauty and power of words, story -- legacy.  I am here, in The Wild, to build upon the legacy of my own adventurous, mountain loving, wild outdoors family and teach my children what means to be Living Wilder.  

Here's a great article advocating for libraries and the right to dream and imagine.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Heat Waves and Cold Snaps

We woke up on Wednesday to a 26 F morning, one of the colder mornings we have experienced out here.  Then on Thursday morning we awoke to 13 F outside and 57 F inside on the main floor of the house.  When I went up to my office to get some work done around 10 am I dressed in fur lined boots, a lightweight down jacket, wool cap, fingerless felted wool mittens, two pairs of socks, long underwear and pants.  Knowing I would be sitting most of the time, therefore not creating any real body heat I felt I might have overdressed.  A few hours later I added on two blankets and refilled my tea pot.  
We have been blessed with an unseasonably warm fall which has kept our firewood usage down to a minimum and has allowed for an easy introduction to heating a 2300 square foot home solely on wood

  We awoke this morning to a thin blanket of snow, a narrowing river edged with thin sheets of snow covered ice, and slushy icebergs rafting swiftly down the river. It wasn’t until the ice started flowing in the river that we really got an accurate sense of the speed at which the river rolls along.  It has a smooth surface, almost like a lake, but the water runs deep and wide, carving its way along the taiga forest banks, finding its way to the Copper River.

      I find I am mentally trying to wrap my brain around the mind-numbing cold this place is known for and the perpetual darkness that December brings.  I’ve spent time this far north in the winter before, for short trips to The Cabin in Denali State Park, which sits right around the same latitude as The Moose Lodge.  But never anything below -20 that I can remember.  Tales of -50 below zero winter weather that can last for days or even weeks.  Temperatures have been known on occasion to dip lower than -50.  Which makes me shake in my 
not-nearly-warm-enough boots

    During the winter of 2009, the coldest official temperature for Tok (which is  our closet "town"), was -63 F, though at an  
amatuer weather station in Tok, the lowest recorded temperature was -80 F. Though we've been told by neighbors that "it's much warmer here in the winter compared to Tok or Glennallen", I take that to mean -40  F when Tok reaches -60 F, we'll see.

We made another trip to “Town” a couple weeks ago and were gone for three days.  Since we have no secondary heat source (i.e. oil, propane, etc.) at the present moment, the temperature in the house dipped lower and lower as the days went by and as the outside temperature dropped to 20 degrees, per the nearest DOT weather webcam.  When we returned home it was 46 degrees in our house, and 30 degrees outside.  Robbie Cat seemed slightly irritated, but mostly relieved we returned home and promptly took his place atop the cat tree next to the wood stove while we got it going.  My mom had joked that when we would got home we would find Robbie Cat frozen in place, a kitty cat popsicle. Thankfully that wasn't the case.  Our days of leaving home and heading to town as a whole family may be over until we figure out our heating situation, unless we want to come home to a cat popsicle.  I don't think I could take that.  

Woke up to a frosty pair of forgotten bogs on the front porch. 

Proof of the unseasonably warm
 temperatures we've been having. 10/16 
Exhausted from our three-day adventure in town I came inside the house after unloading the truck and washed my hands.  The water felt as though it had ran through a river of ice, before finding its way into the plumbing of the house.  I could feel the icy mountain air swirling around my fingers as I tried to wash my numb hands and stood there in amazement at how cold the air and water felt, through it was a relatively warm 46 F inside.  

The big topic of conversation this month is: 

“How will we stay warm this winter?”

     The wood stove we purchased to serve as our primary stove is not throwing the kind of heat we’d hoped for, and as a result we are exploring “plans 
b, c and d”. Parke has been shouldering the research end of things, reading through some literature
 our friend Gregg provided on this exact topic.  Times like this make us especially thankful we have friends with big libraries, years of experience, and the generosity to share information with us.    

      Sometime last week a Craigslist search unveiled a wood fired furnace in The Valley (a 5 hour drive) that was made in 1983, the same year as The Moose Lodge was built and coincidentally the same year of my birth.  The cost of this used 30 year old furnace was thousands of dollars less than the cost of the new furnace so we decided
to give it a go and Parke made a short trip to town and back, with an overnight at my parents house.  

The night Parke was in town I spent the majority of it lying awake, tossing, turning and listening to all the things that went bump in the night.  Which is to say I heard everything in a 3.6 mile radius.  Honey sensed my unease and did her best to help by growling angrily at the front door, which did nothing by frazzle my tired and not-so-tough nerves.  At least she tried.  Because of the modern conveniences this place offers: electricity, indoor plumbing, wood fired heat, and high-speed internet you don’t feel so far away from the world.  

All of that changes when the wind starts to blow and night falls, and your husband is away from The Lodge.  Of course within an hour of Parke’s departure the wind started to howl and I started to feel like we had moved a million miles away from everything and everyone.    
      I called my mom in hopes of soothing my mini-anxiety attack.  It helped, but it was one of those moments where I realized the totality of what we have done moving here,              so far away.  That thought led me to listen to Carole King, brew a pot of tea, then assume the fetal position beneath my Unique quilt.  I laid there and thought about things for a while. 
Made with bandanas my dog Unique used to wear, she died on 4/18/13.

The kids were busy doing arts and crafts and watching Milo and Otis for the 4,052nd time and since the bed is within arms reach of the dining table where the activity was going on, I was physically present, despite feeling a million miles away in my head. Deep breaths followed and then came the renewal of my faith and determination.  Relief. 

The space we (currently) primarily occupy is our living/dining room, kitchen, first floor bathroom (a simple toilet and a sink), and the arctic entry way.  Sure our “stuff” occupies about 75% of the available floor space throughout the entire house, but we physically spend most of our time on the main floor.  A twin bed for George has turned the couch into a square with a hollow center.  A small patch of carpet, and an obstacle to overcome in order to find comfort on the couch, or what is also being used as Maya’s bed.  
   Kitchen and Main Entry

Dining Room/Living Room

These photos were taken before we moved all of our stuff in...

\ Our king sized bed is in the dining room, our night stand is the kitchen counter and a TV tray housing my mass of Lodge essentials: three hats (lightweight running hat, thin cotton hat, warm winter hat), a thin pair of running gloves, fingerless felted mittens, bag balm, lip gloss and a touch light. Underneath the TV tray I have three pairs of slippers. Two pairs of wool socks. A pair of compression socks. And my knitting.  Wool, double-thickness, boot liners that I am working on finishing. They will be felted, and super warm.  The assortment of various hats, gloves, socks and slippers serves an important purpose.  Layering.  As the temperature comes up in the house with the manning of the wood stove, I can wear thinner hats, gloves, socks and slippers.  As the temperature drops, I pile on the layers.  

Our home is a densely packed space, with small trails around the main living floor.  An obstacle course of boxes, dog beds, furniture, and kids toys.  If we didn't bother to clean up the mud and slush that the kids keep tracking through the house we could charge admission and hold a “Tough Mudder” here inside The Moose Lodge.  This arrangement challenges both my allergies and my propensity for order and the importance of things in their proper place.

The real trick of navigating the maze that is our main floor comes in the middle of the night.  This house went without commercial power until 2006.  2006.  Just seven years ago. 

        Back when me and Parke met and were brainstorming our wild dreams about non-electric power tools and rustic living, The Moose Lodge was our dream before we knew it existed.  

     This house went without commercial power before 2006, there was a generator in use, but I suspect they kept it as limited as possible.  Proof of this exists in the lack of outlets, light switches and overhead lighting throughout The Lodge.

      A generator fire and subsequent power outage reminded us that we aren’t quite cut out for such rustic living, not yet anyway.  The lack of outlets and light switches makes navigating this space nearly impossible, even for me and I am known for my cat-like nighttime vision.  If you’re smart enough to remember to carry a flash light with you at all times it isn’t such a big deal, but I am not well-trained enough yet and so a quick look at my feet and shins will tell you the story.  I stumble around this place, trying to find my way, persistence and determination fueling my journey to the bathroom at 3 am.  Where the $%#! did I put that touch light? $!% @!*# @! 

We had a power outage for work that needed to be done to keep the power on for good.  Thankfully it lasted an hour and didn't give me heart palpitations like  the last outage did when the community generator burned to the ground in: What Would Laura Do?  This message was delivered by Maya via the school bus driver.  It has been sent to the school via fax.  I feel likeI am in the dark ages out here, just a little.  Fax? 

I haven’t taken you inside The Moose Lodge yet until now and for good reason.  Where does one begin?  There is so much to say, do, and consider when working on this place that words and rational thought process hold little to no value in a place like this.  The “as is” presents a series of cobbled together MacGuyver-like feats that made me smile with appreciation at the ingenious ways in which this house was brought together, and in the same breath make me shudder and shake wondering what we have gotten ourselves in to.  

Then I remember the breathtaking sunrises....10/17
And the gorgeous sunsets.  I snapped this photo (L) at the end of an incredible 4 mile trail run on 10/23 
That incredible trail run sent me through the woods, over the frozen swampy tundra, through semi-frozen mud and muck puddles, around the big lake, back through the woods to the creek, then along the creek and back home to the rivers edge just in time to capture the tail end of the magic sunset.  The skies had been less-than-spectacular for much of the day, some sun, but nothing to indicate a spectacular sunset was in our future. As we headed back to The Lodge the sunset took a sudden unexpected turn for the epic.  The skies were painted in apricot, gold, and orange, then the layers of blues and pinks.  I was standing on the edge of a clearing and could see the sky from
The Mentasta Mountains all the way around to the Wrangell
 Mountains, then out towards Glennallen.                                                                                                                  

Mt. Drum sits behind the first range, bathed in 
golden sunlight. 10/23

Wide open spaces. 10/23
Same spot as above but with Parke on the ATV and the Kids in the trailer.  I did my trail run with them and ran with the dogs.  The kids get a kick out of that.  It's just like having your very own aid station, cheering squad, and sag wagon all in one.  Which is to say it's totally awesome!  10/23

Multi-layered sunset through the aspens. The "home stretch" of my run that night.  10/23

      Remembering the magic this place delivers up on a daily basis, everything gets put back into perspective and it all seems manageable again.  The many daunting house projects no longer feel like weight on my shoulders, but instead it's absolute freedom.  Everything comes at a cost.  Our cost for freedom was: cold and acceptance.  Living somewhere that gets really cold is an exercise in respecting the cold and accepting what you cannot change.  
The cold (and darkness).  

      Living in an unfinished log cabin that was the work of the original homesteaders lives requires respect for what was accomplished, appreciation for the ingenuity it took to put this place together, and a calm acceptance that it will take time to figure this place out and make it Our Homestead.  Again it comes down to cold and acceptance.  Cold because we haven't got our heat situation figured out and it is almost November.  Acceptance of the fact that house projects are like life, you have to take it one day at a time.  It is going to take time to get this place figured out and move forward in the right direction for us, for this place.  I am breathing and giving thanks for this adventure, taking it one day at a time, sometimes moment to moment. 

     Living in the moment.  It's a totally new way of life for me.  I have never been able to live in the moment before while being still.  Running and cycling were the gateway for me to experience what it was like to be in the moment.  When you are running really hard you have to be in the moment. You have no other choice but to focus on the task at hand.  As you start to realize you have exceeded your V02 max and you can feel the lactic acid filling up in your calves you must be  In the moment.   

     Through endurance training for triathlons, half-marathons and one marathon I began to crave that feeling.   Running, biking and swimming until I had experienced all the being in the moment I could handle.  Endurance sports were the only vehicle I had to get me there, to that blissed out, living in the moment frame of mind.  Until I came home, to The Moose Lodge.  Being here it is easy to be in the moment and you don't have to be doing a damn thing to get there.  You just have to sit and be.  Even my mom who struggles to be in the moment more than I generally do, made that observation as well.  She could just sit. Be. It comes easy out here.