Monday, December 31, 2012

Last day of 2012

Out with the old and in with the new!  
It has been an adventurous year for the New Pioneer.  Lots of projects completed, some new ones started and some I did over. 

Although my new year actually starts at the Winter Solstice (return of the sun for me) I can look to the next chronological year with hope and inspiration.  When you live alone you are your own cheering section, so you've got to keep it positive.  This last snow storm really challenged my moral.

I'm adding some work skills for next year to increase my income, as Virtual Assistant.  You can visit that blog here .  I'm offering services in all kinds of areas - both "virtually" through cyber space, and locally.  I've got years of experience helping artists with their careers and locally I have helped several people organize their small businesses.  So if you need help, send me an email!

I'm cutting back the online sales venues for my art this next year.  I'm really enjoying selling locally and working with real people.  I plan to create a new line of cards too.
I'm being called back to paints as I see abstract images swirling in my head... so stay tuned as that develops.

Thank you blog followers for sticking with me this year.  It's not always exciting here in the woods, so I hope I have conveyed some of the simple pleasures I get with my plants and wildlife.

Happy New Year!! 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

In the Dark

Western Washington has been hit with a series of rain and snow storms this year.  Last week my area on the Hood Canal was hit with a surprise snow storm that wasn't forecast.  
Two feet of snow at my place in less that 24 hours.  It was heavy snow and took down branches and trees and power lines.  The ground was already saturated from the earlier rains so some trees just fell over at the roots.  Chunks of earth broke off of bluffs and hillsides.

I live at a higher elevation on more level ground, so no worries of slides around me.  The tall pines here have also been more exposed to heavier snow and the ground has good drainage.

Trees and power lines came down across our only access road in and out of the development and we were basically trapped for two days.  However the highway was closed as well from Hoodsport to Mount Walker.
The world as we knew it had just stopped.  As I sat alone in my house I did what I always do in a power outage;  put water on the wood stove, set out the camp cook stove and find a good book.

By the evening of the first day I knew there must be major trouble along the main road.  So I prepared some more.  I put the fridge food in a crate on the front porch mud-room where the temperature was a perfect 34 with an outside temp of 32.
I put the freezer foods in an ice chest with the ice I keep made up for just such an occasion.  

I got my exercise by shoveling the steps, walkways and driveway.  Since there was no warning that this storm was coming I hadn't been able to get my car down the 50 foot driveway, so all I could do was keep it dug out of the snow so it might be a little easier later.  (It wasn't though).

Day two was about finding new things to eat that were nutritional.  Egg omelets somehow just taste better in a cast iron skillet on the camp stove.  The aroma of beans simmering on the wood stove is also delightful, and comforting in a storm.

Now I never claimed to be a survivalist on this blog, it's not in my tags.  I'm not homesteading in Alaska and I'm not off the grid.
I am more of a minimalist, with a modest lifestyle and income.  I don't mind living alone as long as I have the freedom to leave once in a while.  I do have neighbors so I'm not completely isolated, although there are fewer of them in winter since this is more of a summer recreational area.
Surprisingly, there are even some year round residents who do not have back up heating, but there are others who are fully equipped with big generators.
So a storm with this much snow and a prolonged power outage are not common place here. 

(By the way, the photos I've included here were mostly shot early on.  It just got depressing to shoot after a while.)

By day 3 I was a little surprised that no one had come to the house, although I did check on my next door neighbors while I was shoveling the driveway.  They had gotten out in their 4x4 truck and discovered the road block on our entrance.

About 1pm a friend did arrive but he lives ten miles south.  I got the full report of how much damage had been done along highway 101, which was now open after two days.  He said the power company trucks were working on the lines on our entrance road and it was being plowed.
I was so grateful to see a familiar face!  Thank goodness for caring people.
When the power and phones were working again, I had two other messages from friends in the next town.

I have been through some major storms here and some pretty deep snow, but two and a half days is the longest I've gone without power in a snow storm.
I'm grateful to our development to have installed generators on our two community wells in recent years, or we would have been without water as well.

So my food was saved, but in another day I'd have been cooking up the thawing items.
I count my blessings on one hand though, and have decided to make a list of improvements I would make when this happens again, which could be as soon as March with the prediction of solar storms knocking out entire grids.  Then where would I put the fridge food??
I could get a generator, but I would have to lift it in and out of my car, find a place to store it and keep gas on hand to run it.  Not to mention running the extension cords outside.

 I think I will start with a more practical and long term solution approach.  A pantry of dried and canned goods.  This may be a time to learn to can, or just add to my shopping list each week.  There are a lot of websites where you can buy things in bulk, or emergency essentials.

Communication is high on my list also.  I will be upgrading my cell phone in hopes of having service at my house - which I don't currently get.
I've contacted our community's office and volunteered to head up a phone tree with a back up plan for checking on people when the phones are out.

This was a challenging time for me.  I don't usually blog about my limited income or resources, but it became pretty apparent to me that I need to make some changes in my lifestyle if I want to continue living remotely.
I usually try to keep it more upbeat here, but I just felt the need to reach out to others who may be in similar situations or even temporary challenges.  
Us fringe-dwellers like our solitude and independence, but it often comes with a price.

As we near the end of 2012 and look to a new year, I vow to improve my circumstances as well as reaching out to my community so no one feels alone or stranded in rough weather.
I encourage you to do the same.

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