A New Tour of the Zeiger Homestead Cabin (2016)

We cleaned the cabin pretty thoroughly to prepare for Christmas decorating, and for a friend’s visit. So, in the days before either, we took a moment to take up-to-date photos of our living areas.

I’ve wanted to create a new version of the original post: A Tour of the Zeiger Homestead Cabin for some time now. I tried to match the old one¬†with similar shots.

The doorway, battery bank, and dining area (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

The doorway, battery bank, and dining area (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Dining area/living room from the doorway (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Dining area/living room from the doorway (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).


The "library," looking back toward the sewing "room" (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

The “library,” looking back toward the sewing “room” (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

You can see the “new” water heater and plumbing, different from 2010 (see Danger and Opportunity). I miss the comfy little window nook we had before, but the treadle sewing machine needs pride of place, and has certainly earned its keep (see Sewing Machine “Re-tread”).

The shower room/music room (I know, I know! Space is tight!) (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

The sewing room/shower room/music room/winery (I know, I know! Space is tight!) (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).


The kitchen from the living room (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

The kitchen from the living room (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).


The master bedroom (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

The master bedroom (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

Little has changed in the bedroom, other than adding a night stand on the right side, so this is the same photo as 2010.

And there you have it! It saddens me that our dear, sweet cat, Lissa, isn’t in these new photos. Spice was here somewhere, but didn’t get into the new shots.

Maybe we’ll update these again in another six years?

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26 Responses to A New Tour of the Zeiger Homestead Cabin (2016)

  1. LInn Hartman says:

    Pretty quilt – my wife and her sister are quilters. – we need a story on how you got that old upright piano to your place that had to be a fun day- must have taken everything you learned in Sunday school to keep the air from turning blue – The last time I moved one was the last time – enjoy

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Linn, the piano came with the place. There is quite a story of how it got moved here and installed–or should I say, “stories” as there are several different versions. It’s a funny collection of contradictions, but we don’t quite feel like it’s our story to tell, other than the brief overview in the essay, Our Cabin Comes Complete with . . . a Piano. One of these days, I’ll sit down with the man who built this place. Among the many, many questions I’ll ask will be his point-of-view on the story.

    Thankfully, while we don’t play much, we have friends who do (see Food, Friends, and Music). One part of the story that didn’t make it into that essay: after Bill had finished, he thought a moment, then recalled the evening he and a group of friends, including George Winston and Philip Aaberg, sat around a camp fire somewhere in the Sierras and decided on a term for the kind of music they were all experimenting with. They settled on “New Age,” a term Bill said he never liked much.

  3. Judy Arcuri says:

    April 11, 2017
    OH my goodness! I found your site once again… after updating my ancient PC system to a brand new All-in-One HP system recently. I simply went to Google Search and entered “Alaskan Homestead Blogs” and there you are again. I’m soooooo happy to now have you on my toolbar; you should feel privileged! Nice to see current photos of your cabin/home. (1) How many times have you re-read the books in your library? (2) Yes, I too miss seeing a cat in the photos; but is there still a cat that resides with you? (3) And where is your daughter now residing; a college graduate by now I assume. And for the record, I will be on a 7-day inside passage cruise out of Seattle next month – my 4th time visiting your state.
    Judy in San Mateo, California – 20 miles south of San Francisco and 35 miles north of San Jose (Silicon Valley). But, originally a farmer’s daughter from Iowa.

  4. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Judy, welcome back! I know how frustrating it can be to get a new computer back to where you left off with the old one!

    To answer your questions: 1) that varies a lot–some of the books you see in the shelves I have yet to read. Others I’ve read more than once. I try not to own a book unless I intend to read it several times. A few titles there get read every year, at least. 2) Spice, the younger of the two cats we brought to the homestead, s still with us. She’s getting old and cranky, but will probably outlive me, just for spite. 3) Aly did graduate, and is now living here on the homestead with us! She works for the museum in town, and she’s fixing up our guest house to move into. She writes for the blog now and then.

    Will your cruise bring you to Haines? Most of them go to Skagway, but there’s a fast ferry that takes people from Skagway to Haines if you like–a lot of people do.


  5. Judy Arcuri says:

    Mark: I enjoyed our recent re-connection email exchange. Our cruise itinerary (May 13-May 20) is the inside passage from Seattle, so even though we will have a port day in Skagway, we won’t be able to take that ferry to Haines. We have chosen a 40-mile train ride excursion in Skagway; In Ketchikan my companion will be on a Halibut fishing expedition and I will be an “observer” on a “Deadly Catch” type crabpot boat to see that boat’s crew’s evening-before actual catch and to hear “fish stores” from that crew; then a float trip down the river in Juneau; and a city tour in Victoria.
    One question about your blog: how do I find your most current posting when I open up? Or do I just have to search all the categories to find most current? Be safe. 5/7/2017

  6. Mark Zeiger says:

    Judy, sounds like you’ve got a great itinerary. The train ride is fantastic! I predict it’ll be a highlight of your trip.

    The most recent blog post will always appear first on the blog page, unless I someday find an announcement that’s so important it has to be set to “stick” in that first position. So, the first thing you see should always be the freshest “news.” Enjoy your trip!

  7. laura vinci says:

    I love how you live and if I can before it’s too late I would also love this lifestyle your place is very cozy it looks like a home should (lived in) you are very nice to stay in contact with us and keep us updated.I am a fan ; )

  8. Mark Zeiger says:

    Thanks, Laura! We’re definitely cozy, and the cabin’s certainly lived in, thanks for appreciating that aspect! I think we’ve finally gotten over the clean-to-the-bone urge before company comes. We’ve adopted the warning phrase: “this is a working homestead!” That covers many housekeeping lapses.

  9. Judy Arcuri says:

    5/27/2017 Just wanted to stop by after returning from my 7-day inside passage cruise earlier this month. No, we did not get to Haines… but certainly enjoyed our excursions (see earlier posting). On our NCL ship I explored the library and found a book by author Diane Olthuis (2nd edition) entitled: “It Happened in Alaska.” It was an easy read – short essays within – and to my credit (haha), I remembered most of the true stories in her book. Yes, I am a current event junkie thanks to my local “San Francisco Chronicle” newspaper. Your state has had its share of newsworthy events. My traveling companion and I did not have time to “walk the port towns/villages” as during past visits, but I did enjoy some great clam chowder at a mom & pop pier restaurant in Ketchikan. (I missed seeing jumbo size cabbage and lush rhubarb plants.) Your state overall – Alaska – is awesome. And how ‘Does Your Garden Grow?’

  10. Mark Zeiger says:

    Judy, thanks for checking in! I’ve been wondering how your trip went. I’m amazed–you mentioned missing lush rhubarb. There’s a little pocket park on Skagway’s main street. Last year at this time, I was up there, and could only stare in jealous amazement at the size of the rhubarb that grows in the park.

    Our garden is growing well, in many ways. Michelle has me humping lumber over the ridge for four new 4’X8′ grow boxes. Meanwhile, our rhubarb has taken off after a few days of heavy rain, and an on-going sunny period. No salad, yet, darn it!

  11. Judy says:

    8/18/2017 So… how did your Garden Grow? My 5 plants from Costco were “all vines; nubbins for tomatoes.” My son had surprised me by actually planting in 5 patio pots in April. I watered faithfully but… we sure didn’t get our money’s worth! But my pears, figs, apples and grapefruit trees have produced nicely now that we have had a year of NO drought. But I do have to scare the squirrels away, as they seem to know the moment each fig ripens. Doggone it all. And what are you probably already doing to prepare for your winter?
    Judy – 20 miles south of the City of San Francisco 8/18/17

  12. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Judy, the garden’s doing pretty well this year, including one pumpkin plant growing outside the greenhouse–not unheard of here, but we didn’t expect it after having such a cool summer. The salad plants are all bolting, and Michelle is replanting for autumn. No tomatoes here, yet, sadly.

    You have grapefruit trees? I’m so jealous! If we could choose one “exotic” for our climate, I’d likely choose grapefruit. I’m crazy for it!

    The big prep-for-winter project is getting the wood in. That’s going slow, but I am making progress. Wish me luck!

  13. Brett says:

    Wow! Found this via boat searches. Funny how things turn out. Nice place, very beautiful area you live in. Always good to see people from the opposite side of the world.

  14. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Brett, glad you found us. I know why–on our home page we have a tab that talks about our boat building efforts. Enjoy!

  15. Elisa Parendella says:

    Hallo Mark,
    Found you in Pinterest through “104 Homestead” and so lucky I did.
    I’m fascinated by Alaska and your lifestyle. Hubby Paolo and I are both from Milano, and managed to move to the country 15 years ago. When I read about your guesthouse I dream about a little vacation…
    Are you possibly willing to have paying guests from far away? No actual plan yet, just exploring.
    Thank you in advance for your attention.
    Elisa & Paolo

  16. Mark Zeiger says:

    Elisa, Sorry for the slow response!

    Right now, our daughter, Aly, is living in our guest cabin. However, Michelle has often talked about trying to do a B&B here. Stay tuned, things may change!

  17. Judy says:

    Dec. 15, 2017
    Happy Holidays to you Mark and your ladies too: So, tell me how you probably will be spending your Christmas Eve and Day. The 3 of you together? Events in-town? Menu? And do you find an uptick in your products-for-sale this time of year?
    Here in the San Francisco Bay Area… we are mourning the passing of our 65 year old city mayor who had a heart attack in the supermarket earlier this week. Today thousands of mourners paraded/walked through the City Hall Rotunda. Sunday will be a city memorial. Life can be short.
    I’ll be hosting 9 guest on Saturday 12/23/17…

  18. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Judy, we heard about your mayor–so sorry! He sounds like a really good man, and, of course, 65 is seeming younger every year!

    Christmas Eve and Christmas will be just the three of us, although we have invited a friend to come stay. We’re hoping he won’t come, because that would mean he won’t join his family, who are gathering down south around his lovely wife, who has been stricken with a degenerative brain disease. We’re ready to welcome him, but it would mean he wouldn’t be with her and his daughters.

    Christmas Eve I will make the traditional oyster stew, which Aly and I love. Michelle loves it because it means she can make something special for just her, usually tamales. Christmas day, we traditionally eat German stollen for breakfast (along with stocking “pot luck”). We follow it with a big afternoon/evening meal, usually turkey, although, before they got so expensive, Michelle and I used to have goose. We have tried to be more flexible (and opportunistic) recently, and are open to a roast, particularly venison, for Christmas, but a turkey takes us both back to our family roots.

    As for the uptick in sales, unfortunately, we generally don’t see anything unusual. We do get a little increase in sales from our friends’ store in town, but not enough to notice, usually. I’m not much of a salesperson, or I’d be flogging the Store page at this time of year, especially my books and the soap. Truth be told, I’m more focused on the ephemeral qualities of the season rather than the commercial. Better for the soul than the bottom line, I guess . . . .

  19. Judy Arcuri says:

    Memorial Day in San Mateo County (San Mateo, California)
    I do check your blog now and then. I wish I had been a guest when you served Oyster Stew at Christmas time! My mother – a farmer’s wife in Iowa – also prepared this soup for Christmas and cold nights. When I was in high school, I worked part-time at the local grocery story and had to scoop those slimy oysters out of a 5 gallon container for the customers. It was NOT my favorite task! And today, here in the San Francisco area, I often eat cold jumbo size oysters in the shell. (A recent trip to New Orleans produced a very disappointing platter of very “tiny” oysters.) So, assuming Spring has Sprung in your neck of the woods, what might be growing heartily in your garden? I travel frequently, so did not plant any tomato plants in patio pots, as they would need daily watering. But my fruit trees including grapefruit/avocado/pear/orange look healthy. One of my two cherry trees died off. And how is Aly and Michelle doing in their jobs?
    In my home town in Iowa (population 221), the City Council built-out a War Memorial to ALL community soldiers. Quite impressive with granite slabs displaying names, etc. My own father who served in WW II is memorialized there. I have never gone back to attend their Memorial Day service, but I see the Program Agenda is quite impressive with a 21-gun salute.
    A blog follower…

  20. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Judy, wow! You made me miss Christmas just as summer begins! You’re also making me crave oysters. I’ve eaten them very rarely, other than the annual Christmas Eve meal.

    The garden is just getting started, as we’ve had fairly cool weather this season. The rhubarb’s definitely taking off, though, nice and fresh and juicy! Even though it’s not fruit, it fills that niche here, at least until the cherries ripen toward the end of summer.

    Your fruit trees make me jealous! I remember when Michelle and I lived in central California, while looking for a Christmas tree ranch, we stumbled upon farmers selling fresh avocados from the back of a pick up for 10 cents apiece.

    Another Christmas (2004) we visited my sisters, who were stationed in Georgia at the time. We went to Florida, and bought citrus at a U-pick orchard. That was wonderful!

  21. Judy Arcuri says:

    Here it is Year 2019… and I still enjoy checking in with you and your site to SEE your cabin interior. I love your floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and your kitchen shelves. But, in your last posting you mentioned your daughter was “fixing up the guest house.” So, how has her decorating tasks gone? Perhaps… she will allow you to share her “castle.” How far away (steps/yards) is her place from your front door? I trust you all our doing well.

    I’m still in San Mateo and I am sure glad I am NOT located across the Golden Gate Bridge in the Guerneville area as the town has been totally flooded for days. In fact, the photos show it as an “island” for the moment. Yes, too much rain in a short period of time. For sure our drought years are behind us here in the SF Bay Area and also up in the Tahoe Sierra area. (Snow pack up there @ 125%.) And some reservoirs from San Jose the East Bay have had to be opened to drain off excess water.

    One of my latest book reads is “Old Lady on the Trail” by Mary E. Davison. She finished hiking/backpacking ALL 3 of the trails at age 76. (PCT, CDT, AT) I am exactly her age but I find bowling and traveling my true retirement hobbies! I would not have named the book with her title, however. But, I guess she was bragging about her feat of completing the Triple Crown at 76. You might want to read a book review.

    I hope you have time for a reply.

  22. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Judy, do you know how long you’ve been our faithful reader now?

    I see this tour post, the “updated” version, is now 3 years old. Maybe we’ll post a new version for the blog’s 10th anniversary.

    The main reason you haven’t heard more about the guest house is because I leave it to Aly to update us on that, and try not to nag. I will show her your comment, though. I’m a dad, I have license to be passive aggressive!

    The Guest House is about a hundred feet or so from the cabin, I’d guess. I don’t think we’ve ever mentioned it. The tree-lined avenue angles a bit, which provides some privacy.

    I hope you’re right about the drought being over. I remember, though, the similar flooding in 1983 (Michelle’s mother went down there as a Red Cross volunteer to help out) and everyone said the drought was over then. We now know how that turned out.

    I need to check out Old Lady on the Trail. My college roommate has hiked most of those trails, and probably has read the book, I’ll have to ask him.

    Thanks for being with us for so long!

  23. Jim White says:

    Hello Mark and Family,
    I just did a quick search for wood-fired water heaters and was pleasantly surprised to find a familiar name. My wife Laurie and daughter Denali stayed with you a short time in May of 2018. I’ve been meaning to send you a copy of the book I wrote. I’ll get it off to you this weekend.
    Anyway, the reason for the search is that I work for an electric utility and am looking for alternative hot water heating sources for homes in the small remote community of Stehekin that we serve. We are reaching the maximum capacity of our small 200 kW hydro system that serves the 120 homes in this small community and I was wondering how well wood-fired water heaters would work. In your blog post, you talked about the leak in the tank. How has the system been performing since you got it fixed? Would you recommend similar systems for others? How difficult are they to maintain?
    Any feedback you can provide would be appreciated.
    I’ll let Denali and Laurie know I saw you online.
    Best wishes,
    Jim White

  24. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Jim!

    We just had some canned peaches last night, and speculated whether they were some from Laurie and Denali. We don’t think so, but we reminisced about their visit. Wonderful, but too short! I’m thrilled to hear you’re sending your book, I remember Denali telling me about it, and being very excited by the premise.

    As for wood fired hot water heaters, we’ve furthered our adventure since the 2016 post. For the sake of the blog, I’ll direct you to our posts on “The Iron Giant”. “The Iron Giant’s” Backstory is likely the most pertinent, as it comes from the builder’s years of experience with the Mexican Aguaheaters that came before it here on our homestead.

    I’ll write longer off the site, but briefly, wood-fired heat works well, at least for us. On grid, though, on-demand water heaters may be more useful. Though many are electric, which won’t help your situation, they also come fitted to use LP. We have a lot of them in Haines (though, as chief propane-hauler here, I don’t want to get into them) and people seem to like them a lot.

    Our love to your ladies!


  25. Judy A says:

    Mark. Just hello to you and your ladies. And Happy Thanksgiving too. Here I am again inquiring about Aly’s “castle or guess house” progress. In March 2019 you mentioned she was “in charge” of revitalizing that nearby building. So… might you share what has happened, if anything, since my last posting? I like interior decorating and so I want to see if she has a decorating theme perhaps.
    All is well here in San Mateo, CA. Of course we located here in Northern California have all been greatly concerned about the fires, in the areas across the Golden Gate Bridge. It seems everyone has friends or loved ones that have lost property and unfortunately lives in the past 2-3 fire seasons. San Mateo is about 45 miles south of the Santa Rosa area fire and we did get some smoke residue this far away. Our Governor has put pressure on the lone ( no competitors/a monopoly)electric company to shape up and prevent future fires caused by their own equipment.
    My recent travels have taken me to Europe (*”40 Shades of Green” [In Ireland]; Scotland; England; Wales; and Paris and London too.
    *Johnny Cash’s song. Visiting Colorado in late September was beautiful fall foliage.
    I welcome a reply.

  26. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Judy,

    Thank you, and happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

    Aly has switched her focus from the cottage to her new tiny home, which you can read about here. She’s still living in the cottage, although she’s lived in town for about the last month, house and dog sitting.

    She hasn’t gotten much of a theme going in the cottage, focusing more on livability. It’s hard to blame her–we used the cottage for storage before she moved in, and we’re still trying to get our stuff out of there. But, at least she has the upstairs nicely arranged. I see that this last link was two years ago . . . . I try not to push her to write for the blog, I have enough trouble getting myself motivated for it these days!

    We used to live in Fort Bragg and Fresno California back in the 1980s, so we have followed the fire destruction closely. It’s so awful! The whole problem with the electric company is so unfortunate!

    We envy your travel! I’d love to see all those places, and more before it’s too late.

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