Thursday, September 22, 2011


My neighbor Ron got pinned under his truck yesterday. He's a hobby tinkerer, so he's always in the driveway working on one vehicle or another. I heard some funny noises coming from over there, and actually wondered to myself if Ron had a history of mental breakdowns, since it kind of sounded like insistent singing nonsense (Ron's voice is unusually raspy to begin with) but as I walked closer, I could see a hand waving and suddenly realized what was happening. He was under the truck and the wheel was right on top of his right lung. I ran out the gate and up to him. He was trying to tell me to push the truck off, but I told him that I had to get help. I ran inside his house yelling for help and looking for a phone. His wife Thelma was working upstairs and came running. I told her to call 911 and ran back outside. Ron was still trying to tell me to push the truck, and I tried but there was no way I could by myself. I yelled and yelled for help, and Thelma started running door to door. A man, a college boy and 4 teenage girls came. Together we could push the truck uphill off Ron, and the college boy climbed in and set the brake and we got the girls to pick up rocks from the edge of the driveway to wedge under the wheels. When the truck seemed secure, I went up to Ron and held his hand and head and kept telling him that help was coming, to stay still, to breath slowly. His wife was right there too, on the phone still with 911. We could hear them coming, and sent the teenagers to wave them up. My dad appeared, having just gotten home right as the fire truck got here. I got out of the way for the EMTs, and the ambulance pulled up moments later. I went back into the yard and picked up Julia (who was doing fine, despite being left alone and the commotion. I could see down into the yard from Ron's side, so I wasn't worried about her during the incident. I did consider sending a teenager in to her, but I decided that might make Julia more upset than being alone and since she could still see me I felt like she was fine.) I heard an EMT say "this is going to hurt" and stayed my distance. I was pretty sure they were putting a needle or tube into his chest and had no desire to see that happen. They loaded him up  and the ambulance took off. I told Dad that I thought he should go with Thelma, and he drove off with her after the ambulance. I thanked the teenage girls and told them that they had been really helpful and then I went inside and shook with adrenaline for awhile. A few hours later Dad called for a ride home and told us that Ron was in for a long recovery with broken ribs and a collapsed lung, but that he would probably live. I don't know how long Ron was pinned before I found him, but I'm so glad I found him when I did, and I'm so glad that the truck didn't pin him in a more critical way. I'm sure that a few inches in another direction could have meant a fast death. I'm so thankful that people came running to help. The few moments I was alone with Ron, knowing that I wasn't strong enough to move the truck were terrible. (At one point, Ron tried to tell me to take Thelma's car and use that to push the truck off, but thankfully I could see people running toward us and I didn't have to try that.) I'm still reliving the scene often in my mind.

Monday, September 19, 2011


A question I get often now is: so when do you leave for Alaska? 
If only I knew. 
There is a problem with our house in Alaska. No water, and no plumbing. (And, lately some heat issues tied to the plumbing) This is a big problem that was supposed to be fixed this summer. Or last summer. We've known for several weeks that the plumber is coming this week. We don't know if that means things will be done and ready for us this week or if it means things will be done and ready next month or never. The rumor is that it is all supposed to be done by the end of October. The other rumor is that they are hoping it will be all finished before Thanksgiving. There are several houses on our "street" that are in the same situation. Right now, the plumber is working on the ones farther down the road, but I don't know if he is doing step 1 for each house and then going back and doing step 2 ect or if he is doing one house start to finish before moving on. 
If it's not done by November, it is likely that it is not getting done until next summer because the ground will be frozen! So that just drags up all sorts of major questions like what do we do if it doesn't get done? Live apart for a year? Have Dave resign his position? If he resigns mid-year, where do we go then? How do we deal with feeling like we've abandoned his school kids and co-workers? We don't have good answers. If I go up there now, it would mean putting Julia in disposable diapers, hauling water from the school for cooking, bathing at the school, and using a 5 gallon bucket as a toilet since there isn't an outhouse either. It means accepting the health risks that come with no plumbing, but it would also mean that we are living as a family again. It could mean a two week inconvenience/adventure or it could mean that I decide it is too hard to live that way indefinitely and I move back south to live with family. The transitions would be hard on Julia, I think. 
I could take classes this fall at a community college here, putting me closer to starting a midwifery program. I would have to start next week, and not finish until December. Or I could take one or two online classes up there. 
Here, Julia is happy living with my family. She loves Uncle Olaf and Uncle Joe and her grandparents. There she gets her Dad back. 
Nothing is clear. 

We do have an address now. 
100 Cranberry Lane
Chuathbaluk, AK 99557. 

I invented it. 
No streets and no PO boxes. The post office guy said to have stuff sent to "general delivery, Chuathbaluk" but that is rather hard for most companies to stomach. My lengthy experience with unusual addresses is that companies are much happier to have a fake address that sounds real than a real address that sounds fake. 
at Holden, my address was:
HCO stop 2
Chelan, Wa 98816

or it was also
HCO Box 2, since nobody could fathom what it meant to have your mail delivered by a boat, but they could happily interpret Box as PO box. 
Oddly enough HCO stands for Highway Contract Zero which is funny, since there is no highway. The DMV doesn't find that funny though. 

For them my address is
11155 Railroad Creek Road. The Wenatchee DMV has one woman who understands enough about Holden to feel confident in issuing Holden staff the fake Railroad Creek Road address, but not the HCO Box or Stop 2. Don't go to the Chelan DMV though. They don't understand!
Don't report me, but I have not changed the address on my license from Railroad Creek Road because I can't prove my residency anywhere else. We have no mortgage, no utility bills, none of the usual things the DMV wants. Dave gets some mail sent to his dad's house. I get some mail sent to my parent's house. We can't prove we live at either. I have not changed to an Alaska address because I have enough trouble with the Washington DMV and can't fathom how the Alaska DMV manages to issue licenses to people in villages where they know perfectly well that there isn't a residential address because there are no streets! 
Seems my life is never simple!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

sleep update

We have made a little progress towards independent sleep. My most recent set up has been to put Julia's toddler bed in between my bed and the wall. This makes it impossible for her to fall out, and makes it pretty easy for me to lean over and nurse her in the night without waking her up every time I roll over, which I did when we were sharing a twin bed! Living in close quarters with family means that I'm not comfortable with nighttime crying, so I've been letting Julia nurse to sleep and nurse on demand through the night. These past weeks, instead of nursing to sleep at the breast, often Julia has nursed until drowsy in my arms and then pushed away. I immediately side her over to her bed and miracle of miracles, she rolls around for a minute, looking for a comfy pose and then falls asleep! On her own! No tears! She still wakes up and wants to nurse in the middle of the night, but several recent times have been less than a minute before she is back asleep. The early morning hours are when she nurses the most. I can soothe her into sleeping for an extra 1-3 hours by offering a nurse when she lifts her head. I suppose one day I should try just getting us up when she first wakes, but I really love my morning sleep. In fact, since mom and dad are up and about, I let Julia get up and go out to them, and I go back to sleep!!! (usually not for long, since she comes in to see what I'm up to, but still, the act of falling back to sleep is wonderful!) I kind of think that if I gave her a few minutes, she would fall back asleep when she wakes in the middle of the night, but since Olaf is sleeping in the room with us, and mom and dad are sleeping across the wall, I feel that any crying at all would wake everyone. It is kind of hard to remember how many times I nurse her in a night. Last night, I don't remember nursing at all until morning. Maybe there was one I forgot about, but maybe not! Some nights she wakes several times though, and I can remember that come morning. I'm not actively trying to wean Julia. Research tells me that a lot of babies who self-wean do so between ages 2 and 3, and we're still 6 months away from age 2. Since I'm not trying for any more right now, I feel fine with continuing nursing for the health benefits for both of us. Since breast cancer and osteoporosis have made an appearance in my extended family, I'm particularly aware that the longer I nurse, the lower my chances of getting either. One statistic I found says that women who lactate for a total of two or more years reduce their chances of developing breast cancer by 24 %. In case Julia is my only child, I'm happy to aim for two years of nursing.

A Birthday and the happenings around it

I'm now 28! We celebrated with a thai dinner out, and peach upside down cake at home!
and we played the guess-how-many-m&ms game, and Julia won!
The prize is a block print from Dad. Way to be awesome, Julia.
I sewed Julia another felt crown for her dress-up stash. 
and I made tomato ketchup!
I made a sandbox for Julia. (Just a bag of sand in a metal tub) and Olaf was a big fan too. 
Mom and I decided that Julia needed a baby doll, so I went out and got her one. I was kind of surprised by how much really loves it. She calls it "Bree-Bree" and carries it around. She especially likes to go find Bree-Bree before she nurses. 
I also built/sewed a tent for Julia. I found a tutorial at Grosgrain and turns out I had the wood laying around, and a piece of fabric the perfect size laying around. The only thing I had to buy was a dowel for the top! 
I took Julia in to have a portrait taken. (This isn't it, just one I snatched during the ordeal) It's a family tradition to get the toddler's photos taken in black and white. We have a wall of 8x10s of all of us kids, and I had to carry on the tradition with Julia. She was perfectly charming for the first 3 minutes, while the photographer was having technical issues. After that, she wanted nothing to do with sitting in the chair or smiling. We managed to get one pretty good shot though, so I'm happy. 
I also made an earring and necklace holder using a vintage hanger and little hardware hooks. 
This spring I asked Grandpa Dave to make Julia some little houses out of scrap wood, and I asked Grandpoppa Jack to draw on them. They are finally done, and really neat!

and Grandmomma Dawn made a basket, perfect for carrying them!
Early this summer we created a bean trellis out of string on the front porch, hoping to block some of the traffic noise and to create a green space. It was a raging success! The beans are tall and dense and producing like mad, and the front porch is much more pleasant to sit on now. 

And we have two more chickens! I posted on freecycle asking for two laying hens to add to our small flock, and someone offered two from her huge flock. I had to go catch them, but it was surprisingly not too hard. We tossed them in to the pen yesterday and while there's been some pecks thrown, they all survived the first night in the coop together

Julia is very fond of chasing them around the yard. Joe wants to eat them.  Loki the dog doesn't want to eat them. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Utah and a wedding!

My good friend and roommate from college, Erin got married last weekend in Salt Lake City. Julia and I made the trek to witness the great event, and Julia was the flower girl, even though at 17 months, she is too young to process the directions "walk down the aisle, scatter rose petals and smile!" We were confident that even if she failed to do these things, at least she would look adorable in her dress. The drive was 10 hours, but we camped halfway in Winnemucca, Nevada, turning the drive into two 5 hour days. This was a really good idea, as a 5 hour drive includes two naps and many stops for playgrounds along the way. 

We stopped several times for a break alongside the road

Cooking dinner campfire style in Nevada. yet another occasion when a hook-on high chair was the best idea ever!


Self portraits


Sprinting away into the alpine meadows

Kate and Tyler were among the lots of old college friends present,
including all 8 of the girls I lived with senior year at St Olaf

She looks happy but momentarily, she will try to fling herself over a stone wall and nearly succeed. 

Rehearsing, which Julia would do none of. 

instead she wanted to get her hands on the cat

There was lots of hanging out with friends

It was REALLY great to see them all! It hasn't happened that we've all been together since college!

Incredible views over the city and the great salt lake

The bride, brunching

Kay and Maren, also brunching

Waiting for photographs to begin

The bride!! sooo pretty!!!

The flower girl, who enjoyed dumping the petals out and sprinting towards the pond of ducks

and enjoyed re-arranging the programs

She did not enjoy the photos so much, but a few good ones were probably gotten!
I don't have photos of the wedding itself because I was very busy wrangling the baby! I held her in my arms and we walked down the aisle. She did scatter petals very well, but paused and glared when she realized that people were watching her! I actually missed a great deal of the wedding as Julia was determined to run amok, so we spent the wedding wandering the back area, checking out the presents and the water stand and the rocks. I plan to get a copy of the wedding video to see what I missed. From a distance, it looked lovely!!! At the reception, Julia danced! She wanted nothing to do with dancing at Kay's wedding last month. I suddenly missed Dave so badly that I had to go and cry for a little bit. Julia was very pleased with all the stairs scattered around the reception site. She went up and down and around and around. Then she took a nap in the stroller and I got to really enjoy myself. It was a really wonderful event, and we were exhausted by the end, but I stayed awake long enough to sit in the jaccuzzi! We had lots of dinners and lunches and brunches in the 4 days we were there, and Julia did not break anything in the house we stayed in!

As we were leaving we stopped to check out the great salt lake

We dipped our toes into it. 

The drive was empty, but beautiful in that stark western way

This is the edge of the road, and the drop is about 400 feet down. No guard rail!

and there were herds of cows on the road

a calf tied to a 4 wheeler
as we drove up to the cattle in the road, one of the cowboys roped a calf. He got off his horse to hog tie it, and the horse wandered up to the hood of my car to sniff it. The momma cow circled my car and her baby getting hog tied very anxiously. I was rather afraid of getting charged. The cowboys tossed the calf onto a 4 wheeler and drove off down the road. my path cleared and I nosed along the herd. on the other side, I passed the 4 wheeler and calf and cowboy who was driving pretty much at max 4 wheeler speed, and in my review mirror watched as the calf kicked loose, fell off, and was run over/dragged  to some extent by the 4 wheeler that jerked, nearly flipped and nearly went over the incredibly steep cliff just off the road. It was an intense 5 seconds before I saw that the cowboy and calf were not going to fall over the edge. I didn't stop to help, mostly because there was no good spot to pull over and I couldn't really leave Julia in the car. There were other cowboys working the herd, so I knew he wasn't alone. I felt bad for the calf though!!!! That was the most drama we had on the trip back. Julia had caught a cold and slept quite a bit, and I listened to podcasts and drove and drove and drove. My car trip tricks for entertaining her consist of a bag of candy, such as dum dums, twizzlers, and gummy worms, cookies, water, books, drawing pad and colored pencils and small toys that she only sees on car trips. She's to an age where she likes listening to Raffi and other kids music, so I've started playing that for her. She also likes pointing out airplanes and cows. when she gets really fussy, I stop in the next town, tank up on gas and ask about a playground. Pretty much every small town has at least a school playground, and the small town ones are pretty easy to find. It is harder in some ways to travel with her at this age, and easier in some ways. I think we are done with major travel until we head north to Alaska.

Midsummer creativity and fun

corn and green beans and apricots

apricot sauce and plum sauce

driftwood candle holders

denim booties

ocean pants

A hat for Julia that I designed and knit from Hommespun yarn spun by my friend Trevor.
If you want the pattern, contact me and I'll e-mail you a copy. 

A felt crown for Julia someday (a little big)

a baby bonnet from old t shirts made from a captain crafty tutorial
and the second one, much nicer! (i used manufactured bias tape for the edging instead of the t shirt hem,)

I made it slightly larger, but it was still rather small for Julia.  Perhaps I'll do a third. 

Olaf gives Julia horsey rides

He also discovered the town's skate park and wants to go at least twice a day!

but he's not too cool of a skater kid to hang out and eat popsicles with Julia

Our friends Andy and Carolyn came for a visit. They let me live with them in Dubuque, Iowa for two semesters of high school after my parents moved to Nebraska and I hated it. Very kind of them! 

I bought Julia a rocking chair at an antique store for $10. She's pretty fond of it! 
Julia helped me bake Zucchini cake
Excellent Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cake

1 cup wheat flour
2 cups white flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce or yogurt or mashed banana
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 tsp vanilla
4 cups grated zucchini and/or summer squash (do not drain, grate over a bowl or use a food processor. add with the juice)
1 cup chocolate chips and/or walnuts

Mix dry and wet ingredients separately, then combine gently. 
Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 325 for about an hour, until a toothpick comes out clean.