It’s no secret…

We are very open about the fact that we are moving back to Alaska. The original plan was to leave by May of 2016. Not gonna happen. 😕

Things happen. Sometimes they happen and aren’t what you were planning. In my case, I lost my high paying job (which was a blessing) and took a detour to get a degree that will help me reach our long term goals.

My new career pays a whole lot less than my old career but it is much more satisfying.  It also tends to be seasonal in nature… So, me being me, I ramped up a business I started in 2014 and took a huge leap into being “official”. This is no longer a “craft/hobby” business, we are now a full blown, serious, professional services provider.

We are licensed, bonded and insured as general contractors. Good golly Miss Molly! What have I gotten myself into now?!

When I was meeting with the insurance broker he made the comment “you sure have your fingers in a lot of things”, my response was “gotta make sure I stay employed”. I’ve got bills to pay and a future to fund.

Here is what we are doing;

* Landscape design and maintenance

* Pruning and weeding services

* Plant material selection and placement/installation

* Container design and maintenance

* Client Education & Garden Coaching

* General contracting

Why are we moving to the village? Why are we changing our entire way of life?

Now more than ever I am feeling called to make a difference. To help with a long-term solution to an increasing problem facing our small villages in Alaska.

Why? This is why… Angoon, Kake and Tenekee face ferry shut down

Even if this is a short-term issue, I foresee that it will continue in various ways and force people away from their homes and culture. It will force people to live in the larger communities in order to meet their basic needs.

When a community is only accessible by boat or plane, not having access is a huge deal.

I get it that people make choices, and that living in remote communities means that a person will not have the same access to services as they would in a larger community. I totally get that. I lived in Juneau for 11 years. A very different way of life than living here in Seattle, or even in Anchorage.

Fred and I both believe that people should not have to move away from their homes in order to survive. The subsistence culture is alive and well in these places. We aim to expand on that in a way that will allow people to access additional resources in order to stay where they are.

Our native communities/villages are shrinking. Children are seeking life away from the villages and the elders are having to leave in order to seek or receive needed medical care. With that exodus, culture is fading away. Fortunately there are efforts to revitalize the language and the culture… But is that enough?

Angoon

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We will keep plugging away at our goals. We will get back to Alaska. We will achieve our dreams.

Here is another view of our future home –

We are stuck here for the foreseeable future, but not for forever. Where there is a will, there is a way… We have the will and we will find a way.

Angoon or bust!

~ Molly & Fred

 

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Coming Together

It is exciting to see things finally coming together.

With graduation upon me in two very short weeks, I am doing what I have always done… Working, planning and getting things done. Always thinking a few steps ahead of where I need to be in order to stay on track.

Our plans may change, altered by finances and reality, but I know that we will realize our dreams. Sometimes with a “come Hell or high water” attitude.

Fred and I are both working our tails off, seven days a week right now between our jobs. We work everyday together in one form or another. I can and will say this, I like it! We make a great team.

Fred is running the tree lot at the nursery, in addition to being the general handyman/go to guy for just about everything. We had a delivery of nearly 300 Christmas trees today that all needed to be processed. Done and done. It is very physical work and exhausting.

My work today consisted of decorating and embellishing wreaths. Just a continuation of my school work but easier.

It is fun to utilize my knowledge and to be able to apply what I am learning. I look forward to work and have plans and dreams for the future that are bright, and optimistic.

Since changing careers, I have been having consistently great days. What’s not to love. Rain, cold, wind…I’m good working outside. Hot sun? I’m still adjusting. No matter how I look at it though, everyday is a good day working with plants.

 

“You are a prisoner of your own position”

As I was following my morning ritual (catching up on the various “news” of the day) I came across this article:
Thought-Provoking Photographs Of People Living Alone In The Wilderness

This quote pretty much sums up my life over the past 25 years.

Tkachenko’s work raises questions about what identity truly means when we are forced to live how society tells us to: “School, work, family – once in this cycle, you are a prisoner of your own position. You should be pragmatic and strong, or become an outcast or a lunatic. How to remain yourself in the midst of this?”

I became a prisoner of my own position… As I suspect many people have.

I graduated from High School, went on to college. Got my first degree, then my first “real job”, then I got married, I got another degree, started on my chosen career path (the real career, not my starter career), earned certifications, became licensed, hung in all the “right” circles, networked (as expected), gained credibility… And so forth.

Somewhere around my 45th birthday (maybe I had a mid-life crisis) I recognized that “this” was not what I wanted. AT ALL.

Besides the fact I had been in a loveless marriage for far too many years… I had also come to recognize that being trapped in the maze with the other “rats” was not what I wanted long-term. I had no desire to compete with anyone or keep getting things bigger and better than previously obtained.

No need to belabor that part of my life other than to say that while working in my profession a constant complaint heard from others was that they were stuck and had no choices when it came to their work/careers. People felt trapped because of expectations, standard of living and debt.

They stayed in jobs that made them miserable because that job provided them with the income to live at a standard they were accustomed to, or wanted.

Mind you, no one chooses the path for you… you choose your own path and how long you stay on that path is completely up to you.

I have always believed that we have choices. We are not truly “stuck” or “trapped” except by our own expectations.

It is hard to change your lifestyle when you have become accustomed to something.

It comes down to this; how badly do you want “it”… Whatever “it” is.

What are your priorities?

I’m not going to say that transitioning to a lifestyle where I consume less has been easy.  What I make today as compared to what I made just a few short years ago is staggering. Like 100K LESS type staggering.  But guess what, that extra 100K didn’t make my life any more enjoyable.

Sure I could afford things that I can’t afford now but I wouldn’t trade my present circumstances for anything.  I DO NOT want to get back on that treadmill.

I am fortunate that I did not feel trapped.  I saw an issue and I made the changes I needed to in order to change my circumstances.  Mistakes have and will be made but it is all a learning process.

The photos presented in the article mentioned above really resonated with me.  Not that I want to be a hermit. I am just at a point in my life where I am ready to disengage a bit and focus more on what is important to me.

I finally found a person that I can share my life with. Someone with the same goals and dreams. Someone that equally shares the joys and trials of life.

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For many years I put on my “happy face” and did what was expected of me… professionally and socially.  I was exhausted.  By nature, I am actually an introvert.  I gain energy from spending time alone and even more energy is gained when I am out in nature and being active.

Before we know it, Fred and I will be back in Alaska.  No doubt we will struggle to make ends meet and learn what we need to learn to survive in a very different mode than what we have been for the past few years.

We are actually enjoying it.  Planning our next moves, making sure we are gaining the skills we need and gathering the resources to make our dream come true.

This isn’t a passing fancy, this is the rest of our lives.  Fred has a huge responsibility to his family and his community. I am there to support him. That is what partners do.

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This is what we are looking forward to. This picture was taken from very near where we will be living starting in 2016. We met initially in 2008 on this canoe and became acquainted again in 2010. Cube Cove – Admiralty Island, AK

 

I am longing for the day when we will be on our own – away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The only part I am not looking forward to is being away from my mom. I really treasure the time that we have been having with her. It is a blessing for sure.

If you get a chance, take a look at the article and the photos. It is fascinating and the photos are quite stunning.

~ Molly

 

It has begun…

Today was the first day of what will be a year-long process for me. The end result will be another degree (as if two are not enough) and another certification. By March of 2016 I will have an AAS in Environmental Horticulture and I will be eligible to sit for the Certified Professional Horticulturist exam via the Washington State Nursery and Landscape Association.

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I was so nervous about starting school again that I didn’t sleep very well last night. I kept dreaming that I couldn’t find my classroom and that everyone was laughing at me because I didn’t know anything about horticulture, plants or anything to do with pruning or soils.

And I didn’t. No kidding.

I’m in class for six hours every day. This quarter we are studying soils, pruning, Winter plant ID and working in the greenhouse as part of the horticulture lab. My first quiz is on Friday and I am going to attempt to grow four crops for the big plant sale at the end of April/ beginning of May as one of my graded assignments. I’m just hoping I can actually grow something!

I used to love working in my yard and with my houseplants. That all changed when the WASband became ill and we couldn’t have any soil in the house for fear of exposing him to molds and fungus. I pretty much gave up on anything green and extracurricular activities at that point. Besides, it wasn’t fun for me anymore.

Things change, thank goodness for that. My passion for green growing things really hasn’t changed. I still love them. Now I get the opportunity to get back into growing things and working toward my dreams.

We were asked to introduce ourselves today and answer one of three questions. As a new student, the only relevant question for me was “why are you enrolled in this program?”

I didn’t want to go into too much detail, but I did explain that Fred and I were preparing to move back to the village to live and this program would help me learn what I needed to know to be able to feed myself, and my family. It will also allow us to learn what we need to know to become self-reliant.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still terrified that I will not do well. It has been a long time since I have had to memorize or learn anything even remotely biology/ botany related. I am required to learn eight to 10 plants, trees and shrubs per week for the next 52 weeks. That is, of course, in addition to all of our other curriculum. I’m excited though!

Wish me luck. I see a lot of long nights ahead of me…

~ Molly

Resources:
Lake Washington Institute of Technology – Horticulture Program

Lake Washington Horticulture Spring Plant Sale 2015

Northwest Flower and Garden Show 2015

About Us!

2015 – A year of possibilities and preparation

My head has been swimming. So many ideas, so many plans.

I am not really sure where to start.

Well, I am sure where to start but it is all very overwhelming at the moment.

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We are seriously vying for a spot on the next episode of hoarders. This picture doesn’t even scratch the surface!

You can see why it may be overwhelming!

We are making progress though. Slowly.

If you remember, we plan on downsizing to a 40 x 8 ft motor home. There just will not be room for all of this stuff.

Since moving to Washington nearly three years ago (and spending thousands of dollars to get our stuff down here) I can tell you that we have barely used anything that we so carefully packed to bring with us… And that was AFTER downsizing and selling enough stuff to pay for a good part of our move. Truly disgusting.

I have just over one year to cull as much as I can down to what will fit (is necessary) in the motorhome and into an enclosed trailer that we will pull with our truck.

What do we really need? REALLY need!

Being that I am currently “unemployed” and starting school on Monday (January 5), I am planning on utilizing any extra time I have to keep sorting and culling our belongings. Besides the fact that tackling a bit each day will help with the feeling of being overwhelmed by the huge task that we have ahead of us.

I am looking forward to learning new things this year that I will be able to take with me when we move to the village.

2015 is going to be a challenging and exciting year! Woot woot! Let’s roll!!

~ Molly

Permaculture Design Certificate: CHECK!

I am fascinated by these concepts. Thinking every day about how I will start putting things in place in our current urban setting as practice before we move to the village. I start school in January and am really looking forward to getting additional knowledge to help us reach our goals.

~ Molly

Sprout and Trout

The Sprout recently completed his Permaculture Design Certificate through Oregon State University! Despite his back injury over a year ago, Jesse has used this time to seek knowledge about how to be a steward of the earth. It’s been fun to watch him learn this new language and fall even harder for the practice it describes. When you can’t stop talking about something, it’s a pretty good sign that you’re in love with it.

What is permaculture? Jesse would tell you it’s a design process and methodology for creating human settlements and agricultural efforts to work with nature, not against it. If you’re interested, here are some permaculture definitions by people in the field. If you’d like some keywords, think harmony, sustainability, resiliency, creativity, diversity, and balance.

These chickens at Urban Digs Farm are a perfect example of permaculture at work. http://www.urbandigsfarm.com/ These chickens at Urban Digs Farm are a perfect example of permaculture at work. http://www.urbandigsfarm.com/

As far as I can tell, it’s not just for hippies…

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A Picture of A Different Life

I’ve really been struggling with getting my thoughts in writing. This post pretty much sums up where I am at right now… I’ll be interested to read more from this author.

~ Molly

permaramblings

Modern Western society is focused on the short term pursuit of sufficient income to have a “good” standard of living. The longest term anyone ever really thinks about is the life of their mortgage, if they happen to have one. Many people have a severely limited income, they only look as far as their next “pay” check.

We have lived through the time when we were told to “get on your bike” if you wanted to work and there was no work in your area. Families have become dispersed and fragmented. The idea of being rooted in a place is the preserve only of the extreme ends of the economic ladder. The richest, because they can afford to do what ever they please and live where ever they please; the poorest, because they cannot afford to give up the tiny toe hold they have.

Everyone else is almost constantly on…

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