Gazing Out the Window

By , April 16, 2018

I sometimes wonder how I ever did it.

How did I acquire a decent education, how did I hold semi-prestigious, sometimes lucrative, often exciting jobs, when they all offered windows out of which to gaze?

And, now that I live in a gorgeous natural bay window how do I manage to write this blog? I find this especially puzzling when I realize that this bay window comes with no discipline other than self-discipline, and an overabundance of snacks and other treats to beguile and distract me?

work with a view

Here’s a workplace! (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

I tell you truthfully: I started this post to ask your indulgence. I feel I must step away from the blog for a bit.

Here’s why: two broken hips in the extended family, one after the other, one leading indirectly to a fatality. Old friends coming to stay at the homestead. Social events that take us away from the homestead overnight. An equipment malfunction that’s going to slow and limit our Internet access until the replacement part arrives.

outdoor worplace

Workplace details: computer and planner, snacks, water bottle, wine and glass, music, and topical analgesic to ease mosquito bites (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

All of this on top of the never-ending onslaught of news, not only national, but local. Stuff that’s shaken us to the core, and called into question much of what we do, and think, and believe, and are. I’ve been skating on metaphorical thin ice for more than a month now, and as we struggle for perspective on each topic, something new comes along to rock us on our heels. Each makes me ask what, exactly, the purpose of this blog might be. Do I continue to ignore what’s happening around us, and focus solely on the homestead, or do I try to describe how these thing affect us here?

surf scoters

Surf scoters in the water below me (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

So, look. I’m offering you a bunch of photos. And, as I type at the picnic table on the veranda (I have Internet out here! That’s cool!) the mosquitoes are zeroing in on my CO2 column, and making it hard to write. Time to pack up and flee.

But, don’t worry! I had to completely re-edit this post to remove a bunch of asides, that will no doubt become posts in the coming days. You won’t find details on everything mentioned above, but some of it. A very long time ago, I wrote, somewhere on this blog, that I write what I think about. You’ll read about some of it, hopefully the parts that matter most to you, and to us as we continue life here on the homestead.

Forgive me the cliché, but . . . “stay tuned.”

mountain view

The view itself, free of inhabitants (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).


12 Responses to “Gazing Out the Window”

  1. Andrew Buis says:

    It is hard these days not to be buffeted by the news at every turn. As much as we want it to be otherwise, there are very few homesteads that can live completely in a vacuum, and able to ignore the going ons of their neighbors, city, state, nation, world.

    Part of the reason I subscribed to your blog is to read your well-thought out reasoning in how you approach the world. I came to your blog through your brother’s blog. And if it was up to me, I would be following his example. But my wife’s sea sickness wouldn’t let her last more than a day on a boat. So homesteading seems like the best option for us. So until we can make our own escape, it is nice to live the life vicariously through your writings. So yes, please do share how the news is affecting you and your lifestyle. Because from my point of view, everything in the news is making my instincts scream to get as self-sufficient as I can, as quickly as I can. So I would find it invaluable to see what thoughts the news brings to you from the metaphorical other side of the fence.

    In short, I don’t know what your other readers come here for, but to me, I don’t think you can paint a complete picture without showing how the outside world is affecting you.

  2. Eva says:

    Mark, I love your view! Life happens…I started following your blog a year or so ago and to be honest, I feel like you amd your family have become an extended part of our family. I may never make it to Alaska although my husband just retired last it looks more promising that we might actually get to travel to Alaska yeah! I own a small and gift shop. We have dealt with aging parents, the death of a parent, serious health problems, adult children and grandkids living with us while they build a new home…all of this in the past year. So when I feel stressed many times I get on the Internet and “see what you guys are up to” because I feel like you guys have peace and tranquility in your part of the world but I also know homesteading has its challenges as well as rewards. Know that I would miss your blog but everyone needs a break too. Looking forward to hearing from you in the future.

  3. Jane DeHoog says:

    I understand how life can pile up priorities leading to a need to be selective in what we put our energies into (boy, that’s a dangling participle… (can’t spell). I wish I had the words to tell you how much your writing means to me. I’ve enjoyed all you’ve shared and admired your honesty and dedication. Reading your blog allows me to step out of my life and share a bit of yours. For that, I thank you. Best wishes go out to you for your family concerns and hope that all turn out okay. I will look forward to those writings which you do make time for and share with us.

  4. Mark Zeiger says:

    Bless you, Eva! Thanks so much for your words of encouragement!

    I may have given the impression the blog is going away; that’s not so. I just need to get my head together a bit. And, it seems like writing the last post helped a lot in that regard.

    You do, however, touch on one of my concerns. I understand that many people look to us, as you do, for something different than “The World.” It’s been my desire to make sure we offer that. However, in doing so, we sometimes may give the impression our heads are in the sand, that we’re ignoring the larger issues. One of those national issues recently hit home here in Haines. It was something that didn’t effect us directly, but it’s on our hearts and minds. I don’t mean to tease, but I feel compelled to either deal with it or not–and that’s my conundrum. I’ll likely work it out before the next post. In the meantime, though, visitors are here at the homestead, which means seeing it through fresher eyes–always inspiring for the blog. You’ll hear from us again soon.

  5. Mark Zeiger says:

    Andrew, thank you! You’ve offered a perspective on this that I hadn’t considered. I’ll need to cogitate on this further in the coming days. In the meantime, though, there’s lots of homestead “news,” if I can just convince Michelle and Aly to tell their stories. They’re the ones living the interesting life at the moment, I’m mostly just cutting firewood, which probably gets as old to read about as it does to accomplish. Thanks for reading us!

  6. Andrew Buis says:

    No, thank you Mark for putting the time and effort into putting your thoughts, words, and pictures out for the world to see. It can’t be easy deciding exactly how much and what you want to share.

    And speaking of firewood, I don’t think the subject has to be boring. I have spent more time than I care to admit researching better ways to heat my future homestead in my head and avoid as much as I can the monotonous task of making firewood. I don’t know if you have heard of or considered a rocket mass heater. If not, a very quick mini-essay. The rocket part of it ensures all the energy available in the wood is converted to heat. All the smoke is potential heat that a fire looses to the sky through incomplete combustion. The mass basically acts as a giant heat battery, storing the heat as you burn wood and saving it for later. Converting from a standard wood stove to a rocket mass heater can reduce the firewood needed up to 70-90%. I have seen videos with 100F at the exhaust exit point, with just a wisp of steam and no smoke, with the mass still radiating 100 degrees 24 hours later. Plenty of videos on youtube or for the book route, ‘Rocket Mass Heaters’ by Ianto Evans and Leslie Jackson, and ‘The Rocket Mass Heater Builder’s Guide’ by Erica and Ernie Wisner are both I see recommended regularly. Fairly easy to do it yourself with a very limited input in materials, mostly a 55 gallon drum or stainless steel hot water tank, fire bricks, stove pipe and a hay bale for building the cobb bench.

    My apologies if it feels like preaching to the choir, but it’s just one of the many ideas I am keen to try out once we start homesteading. I know I am an armchair homesteader without the real world experience, but I have seen enough bloggers and you-tubers try it and have it work out for them.

  7. Angela says:

    I discovered your blog about 2 years ago. It is your perspective on things, homestead and otherwise that interest me. My husband and I live vicariously through you and your family. What a spectacular view you have and one I know you don’t for one moment take for granted.I do enjoy reading your homestead adventures and it would be great if you could convince Michelle and Aly to share as well. 🙂 The outside world and all its problems/circumstances can be overwhelming at times and we canlearn new things just by hearing another persons viewpoint and how it affects them. Enjoy your visitors and time away from blogging but I like so many others hope to hear from you again very soon.

  8. Eva says:

    Mark, I’ve never believed you all have your head stuck in the sand…we shared our thoughts on the last election, remember? I just believe you all have more opportunities to go outside, take a deep breath, and enjoy the view while living life. Living in a small mid-west town, and owning my own business and always interacting with people constantly just makes me think chopping firewood by the sea in scenic Alaska might help everybody sort through the stress in their lives and find common sense again! Especially the politicians in Washington! Lol

  9. Mark Zeiger says:

    Andrew, I’ve read a lot about rocket stoves, first because my brother told me about them, and secondly because I periodically get questions about them from readers. They sound great, but is a bit beyond our reach, because we’re not starting from scratch. Were we to do that, we could build a cabin around a rocket stove that takes full advantage of the design. As it is, I doubt our structure could sustain the weight of a proper rocket stove, nor could we shoehorn it into our current arrangements. I keep looking for ways to integrate one into a new design (like a sauna, perhaps?). In that regard, I, too, am an armchair homesteader.

  10. Mark Zeiger says:

    Thanks, Angela, for your kind words. I swear, I didn’t write this post to fish for compliments, but they’ve poured in. You’ve all made me feel so good about the blog! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.

  11. Mark Zeiger says:

    Thanks, Eva. You make me feel like Michelle’s dream of starting a Bed & Breakfast here should come true. And, what would the world be like if we required all of our politicians to spend some time in a place like this? I know many claim to (I seem to remember a lot of hoopla over “brush clearing” that I seem to remember always happened in clean, new jeans and “work” shirts) and I suppose there are a few of them who could work me into the ground. What if we made them try now and then? I could use the help!

  12. Mark Zeiger says:

    Jane, thank you for your kind words! As you’ve probably seen, I’m back, just a little slow with posting. It’ll all come together. I can’t stay away.

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