Tuesday, June 24, 2014

No Problem!

There are problems, and then there are problems.

I came home last night after a great ten day visit in the L48--my family celebrated my dad's 90th birthday, I had fun with my friends, I marched in the Gay Pride Parade in Columbus, Ohio with Eric, and I got my first (and probably last) tattoo. My neighbor Joanne was kind enough to pick me up at the airport last night.

She almost didn't.

While I was up for 20 + hours, traveling from 5 AM EST to 9:30 PM AST (Columbus to Dallas-Ft. Worth to Seattle to Fairbanks), she was up for 24 hours, dealing with two trucks that broke down one after the other, a bunch of Simon's dogs that got loose and disappeared the day before, 450 gallons of water on the back of one of the broken trucks, sending an emergency shipment of food to Simon who is in Galena doing flood reconstruction work, and retrieving her purse in the mail after she found out she left it in a bar in Copper Center on the way to go salmon fishing in Chitina with Simon last week--that was after Truck #1 broke down and Gareth drove down in the good truck with the trailer on his day off to haul it home, where it now sits, utterly useless, because it's way too expensive to fix.

After she texted me that she'd come get me, the "good" truck broke down. She had just gotten 450 gallons of water at Water Wagon, the tank was on the truck bed. With Simon away, the only person she could think to call was Dale, who determined it needed a new alternator, so she bought one and Dale installed it just 15 minutes before I landed. Lucky for her it worked--she would have had to dump all that water (8 cents a gallon) to put it on a trailer to haul it to a garage.

On the way home I bought her some wine. It was the least I could do. As I rummaged around their kitchen to make us something to eat, I was struck with how much she resembled Simon in that moment--instead of sitting down to eat, she still had a bunch of things to do. She had to feed the dogs, and still hadn't pumped the water off the truck tank yet into their reservoir. Wisely, she decided to leave that chore for today.

When I was at Eric's, we spent a lot of time sprawled in deck chairs on his patio in the shade of a pear tree drinking in the lovely summer weather. He recently complained to a coworker about his new neighborhood, which he refers to as "the holler" because of its remoteness from downtown Columbus. Unlike downtown, it lacks the requisite Starbucks and health club on the corner.

She just looked at him. "Those are first-world problems," she said.

Whatever he thinks he lacks, he has central heat and air conditioning, running water, garbage and recycling service, and bus lines (and a pharmacy and a wine shop and a really nice steak house) within walking distance.  Today I can't boil water because Joanne had to replace the empty propane tank for the cook stove on the vacation rental cabin with a full one, so she borrowed my spare which was full. If I want to make a hot meal today, I have to go 12 miles into town to refill my propane tank.

No problem!

I'm getting a firewood delivery this week---not this winter's wood, but next winter's. I'm buying green birch because it's cheaper than buying seasoned wood, and wood is the primary way I heat my home. So, you plan ahead. You buy green wood and let it dry out for at least a year.

No problem!

On vacation, I'd taken long hot showers every day (here, a shower three times a week is a luxury) and used, without reservation, whatever skincare and haircare products were in my hosts' bathrooms. I had gotten so used to smelling air freshner, scented soaps, fabric softener and kitchen cleanser for the last week or so, I was not prepared for walking through my own front door last night and smelling old canvas tent smell.

Maybe it's the old quilt I tacked on the wall before I left. I got the quilt from a friend who had it in a storage shed for who knows how long.

Today, along with cooking gas, I have to go to Water Wagon and get a few gallons of drinking water. No problem! Hopefully I'll get 'er done before the wood guy comes.


  1. If your goal is to have some company to temper your hard life then you are not doing a very good job of selling life in Alaska.


    1. You may be right James. Then again, you do meet other idiots attracted to the hardship and then you find company. For example, this morning while out picking mushrooms I saw my neighbor's son stopped in the road with a flat on his moped, so I offered him a ride to work. My Jeep wouldn't turn over, so we knocked on our other neighbor's door and her car started. He got to work on time, she and I spent a nice day shopping, and tomorrow they are going to help me with the car. All in all, it was a pretty good day. And I had wild mushroom soup for dinner.