Thursday, August 11, 2016

Reflections on our Summer so Far

poles ready to be loaded in Palmer
One of the reasons I finally feel motivated to start blogging again is to document the journey we are on right now. We're at a turning point of sorts, since our house in Palmer has officially sold and we are done with the stressful process of moving. But I feel like if I don't take the time sit down and reflect on our summer so far, certain aspects of our struggle will fade into oblivion, and I want to remember how hard we have been working for our goals.

These last three months have been rough. From the day Steve got the work call to Homer Electric Association, it's felt like mayhem. Listing our house, living in two places, then living with family here basically out of our duffel bags and driving back to Palmer five out of the last six weekends to pack and drive loads of poles down to Homer - it's been nonstop.

SO many trips back and forth - four loads of poles and one load of household
items plus a few other random trips; the kids have were troopers on every single 270 mile (one way) trip.
There have been so many moments that both Steve and I have seriously doubted the process or journey we chose on the path to reaching our goals. We could have rented a place here in Homer, but then we would have spent at least $1k a month in addition to our mortgage (at least until our house sold). And since we couldn't find anything other than year-long leases, we would have ended up spending at least $12k toward a temporary place to live - money we could have been investing in our own building project. And we didn't need a year lease anyway, since we plan on building this fall and being in our own place early in the new year.

Both of Steve's parents were happy to let us stay with them and so we chose to take them up on their offers. Steve had already been staying at his moms and so when the kids and I 'moved' down to Homer, we stayed there along with him, the four of us all sleeping cozily in one small room. It actually went more smoothly than we expected, but it started to feel overwhelming to not have space or time to ourselves, especially for Steve, since when he was home his mom and her husband Rick were home from work as well. We loved the extra time we got to spend with both of them, and were so grateful to them for opening their home. After about two weeks we decided to 'move out' to the Old Sterling, where Steve's dad and his wife, Dorle, lived during the winter months. They spent the summer across the bay in Little Tutka, so were were ably to have the space to ourselves. 

Dorle was actually on the Homer side every Tuesday, and she spent the night at the house before heading to work and then back across the bay on Wednesday. It was fun to get to see her and have dinner with her on the nights she was there. Their beautiful home would have been like a little retreat if it weren't for the kids, who despite behaving very well still are only four and two and only capable of being so careful with fragile and breakable things. We were still basically living out of our duffels as well, since all of our stuff was still boxed up and split between Homer and Palmer and to be honest it got old trying to cook in an unfamiliar kitchen with unfamiliar tools and sleep every night with all of us in the the same room, Raina in the pack-n-play and Riggs on a camping pad on the floor (also: a multitude of beautiful windows with no curtains or blinds in the middle of summer in Alaska). We felt sort of trapped and like we were just treading water, unable to settle in and feel at home in Homer. It was a hard time for Steve and I - we felt stretched thin. 

Earlier this year, before we had even fully decided to move to Homer, we talked about buying an Airstream and going on a big road trip down states where Steve could "tramp" (take high-hour, short-term work calls at different IBEW locals) around depending on where we wanted to travel and where work was available. The biggest problem with that plan was that finding a used Airstream in Alaska with a floor plan that would work for us was somewhat akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Realistically, we probably would have had to fly down states to find and buy one, then ship or drive it back up; to Alaska and that just felt like too much to us. That idea was moved to the back of our minds, and we decided to sell our home in Palmer and move back to Homer.

So while in the midst of being basically homeless, finding a well-layed out, barely used 2005 28' Safari on Craigslist in nearby Soldotna seemed almost too good to be true. We went up there first thing in the morning to look at it, and agreed to buy it that afternoon. Steve had already put a driveway in on our property earlier in the summer and within a week of buying the Airstream we were able to to park it at our property and move in.

Getting it set up was a slow process because our house was in contract and we were driving back to Palmer every weekend to pack, clean and finish repairs required after the home inspection, which thankfully were very minor. Steve developed a bad cold in the middle of it all and things were still pretty miserable and stressful for a while, but having our own space and being on our own property after all these years added an element of comfort and fulfillment that made the difficult things more bearable. 

Finally, on the second day of August the sale of our Palmer house was officially final and that chapter of our lives was closed. Since then we have been working on projects around the property to make every bit of our 250-square-foot Airstream as functional and comfortable as possible. It has definitely been a bit tricky logistically downsizing from a 1300 square foot house and two car garage to a camper and a shed, but we are figuring it out. I have a feeling we'll be purging even more stuff than we already have as time goes on as we go through boxes in an effort to organize things better, and honestly it feels very freeing the more material items we are able to let go of.

I feel so much more at home in Homer already then I expected to this early on. I love it here: the land itself, the people, and the way of life or values that many in the community share just feels so right for us as a family. The kids seem to be doing well with all the change - they go to 'school' at a Waldorf-inspired, Lifeways certified outdoor preschool a couple of days a week and love every minute of it. This has been the longest post ever, so if you are still reading, thank you for hanging in there. It gives me a sense of closure having recorded this here and feel ready to move on completely to the next chapter in our lives. We are so ready to get fully settled in here and to get some serious work done around our property!

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