Monday, August 1, 2011


About the book (from the back of the book): Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial food pipeline to live a rural life- vowing that, for one year, they'd only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it.  Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an enthralling narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth:  You are what you eat.

I have been dying to read this book, and I finally remembered to look for it when I was at Titlewave the other day.  I can't wait to start reading it, especially when I have been think so much about being self-sustainable.  The way the American economy is going, I find it pretty scary to rely on anyone but myself and my family to provide the things I need to live a healthy, comfortable life.  Especially being in Alaska, a place where 90% of merchandised cargo is brought by barge to the Anchorage Port from downstates.  So what happens when one day that barge never comes?  Sounds a little hokey but it is something I think about a lot.  Another element in our own lives that makes Steve and I think about this quite often and quite seriously is the nature of Steve's job.  He has an amazing job that we are very thankful for, but all it takes is one (even minor) injury and he is out of work, possibly for a long time.  Even if we have a very modest and manageable home mortgage, that's a very large payment to be coming up with each month, on top of other living expenses of a family of soon to be three.  

Call us crazy but we would prefer to own everything outright that we can, or at least strive to only borrow in amounts that we have budgeted to pay off within one to two years (probably nothing over $20,000 - and yes, we would adhere to a strict budget to pay it off in the most timely manner possible).  This is one of the reasons we bought property in Homer, and the major reason we plan on building a small place there, rather than trying to buy in Anchorage.  Not only do we have family there who we would love to spend more time with (although, of course, we would miss our friends and family here in Anchorage), but we have enough property there to live in a much more self-sustaining manner than we could really afford in Anchorage.  Also, buying anything in Anchorage would involve owing a lot of money to a financial institution that I just don't think I can trust for the next 30 years.  Only God knows the future, and I trust in him, but I also believe it is our responsibility to be good stewards of what he has given us here on earth.

 clearing a spot for the foundation, July 2006

Having fun while working hard

getting there!

view from the other side of our property, overlooking 
Diamond Ridge, and to the left, the Homestead Trails;
I love it there!

Our then three year old post-hole digger, Ivan

yep, we even put kids to work :)

Visiting last fall...bittersweet because we love it, but can't live there yet 
and have to leave the beauty and serenity to go back to 
the city. 

Over the last five years, owning our property and taking time to work on it together as a couple has been so rewarding and has given us something to look forward to and feel happy about while living in Anchorage.  It has also sometimes been a source of stress, as we sometimes have doubted our decision to keep it rather than just give in to Anchorage life, selling our property to buy a place in the city.  But the older we get, and especially now as we are waiting for our first little one to arrive, the more secure we feel in our decision to keep it, cultivate it, and eventually build our little place there to settle down once Steve is done with his apprenticeship here in Anchorage.  That time is drawing very near, and so we are getting a little more active in our planning stages to move down there. Our plans for our small house are done, and now we are trying to decide the best way to go about getting started on building.  This is an exciting time for us during a very scary time in our country, and world, as a whole.  In the mean time, I am trying to learn more and more about self-sustainability and making it work for us.  

One quote from Kingsolvers book that already stands out to me is as follows:

"This is the story...of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air." 
And this one I saw on the internet last night and loved:

"Only when the last tree has died, and the last river been poisoned, and the last fish been caught, will we realize we cannot eat money." 
-Cree Proverb


  1. Thanks Joel. I love it. It's soo true and sad :(

  2. I love the idea of living a bit more off the grid without going all Ted K about it. I've long thought that Homer would be the right place to do that. Good for you for planning it and going for it.

  3. Love that last quote! I DON'T want you moving to homer though :'( <3