I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend. As you know I really love this time of the week. I prop myself up in a comfy place with loads of pillows, Mike and Tupelo are at the park, the house is quiet, and I get to share our week and our life with you all.
I will share some updates on things at the end of this post, but first I wanted to share part of a story about my life that I am asked about from time to time. This has nothing to do with Mike or Tupelo, this all happened before I ever met them. Many of you have picked up on the fact I lived a short while in Alaska. Well, I did live there, and it was very brief. It was in 2004. The whole experience is quite the story! For those of you that don't know, I was married for 10 years, long ago. It took 20 years for me to find Mike, so there was quite the span where I dated and "looked for love". For about 7 years of that time I travelled all over the US and a bit in London with my job. Since I was on the move so much, I decided to use the internet to find "Mr. Right". I didn't really have any ties to St. Louis and since I travelled all the time I decided I didn't need to limit my search to here. Well in early 2004 I met a man on Match.com named Fred. Fred lived in Salcha Alaska. We spoke all the time and I learned a lot about him. He was a widower, his wife had sadly passed away from brain cancer at the age of 39 and left behind two girls whom he had adopted and was raising on his own. He lived on some property and had 30 mushing dogs. He also had 3 children from a previous marriage that were older and gone from the house. Fred and I spoke for hours every day, we sent thousands of text messages, and it seemed like he was just wonderful. Since I travelled for work I managed to get a couple business trips up that way and was able to spend some time with him.
Here's where things get interesting... if you've never been to rural Alaska, well, let's just say it's not like the lower 48. It's beautiful beyond words, but it's hard work to live there. As you can image it gets very cold so the ground never completely melts, making it very difficult to put a well in, or septic system. The majority of the rural homes are built by the people who live in them, have outhouses, and many people haul their water from the nearest town and put it in holding tanks attached to their homes. There are a fair number of home fires because most of the homes are heated with wood stoves. It's a lot of work to live this way. For us, we turn on the facet do our thing and pay the bill each month. In AK, you can turn on the facet, but at some point you're going to have to find more water to put in your water holding tank, and you're going to need more wood to heat your home, and on and on. Fred's house was a typical AK home, he built it out of logs himself, it had plywood floors (very typical), it had an outhouse (gotta love that at 3:00am when it's 25 below zero out), and was heated with oil stoves.
By now I had fallen for Fred so I decided I would learn to live the AK way, enjoy the scenery, and the freedom that being so self sustaining gives you. Despite all the things I've said, I would be leaving part out if I didn't mention how rewarding it does feel to provide for yourself this way. Fred raised his own pigs and chickens for meat and eggs, he grew a garden for vegetables, and he did all his own meat processing. He also took a couple trips a year to Valdez to catch Halibut and bring it back home. He had 4 real big chest freezers outside in various places that had more meat and blanched veges then you could imagine. He kept it all organized and dated. When the meat got to be one year old, he moved it to the freezer that was for the mushing dogs and fed it to them. But I have to say, we ate well, very fresh, "clean" food. You could tell the meat came from animals that had not been given hormones or anti-biotics, and the garden food was so yummy. And to have fresh Halibut..OMG, I ate it all the time, it was so good. So Fred was very self sufficient and had made his own way.
Let me just say though, I am a lower 48 girl from the Midwest, so this was a major adjustment for me. But I decided I would go for it. Fred asked me to come live with him and I said Yes. So for the next 6 months I prepared for my big move. I sold almost everything I owned. I had a good size truck already that I drove, but I traded it in for a big One Ton Dually Diesel truck that we bought together. When the big day rolled around to move, Fred flew to St. Louis and we got in the truck, loaded with what was left of my possessions and made the 7 day drive to Salcha. That drive is something I will always cherish. I have see the entire AlCan highway. I saw so much beauty on that drive I can't begin to describe it all. I saw herd after herd of Buffalo, and all sorts of other animals. It was amazing I wouldn't take that ride back for anything.
We arrived safely in AK and it was now late August 2004. Life as I knew it was gone, and a new adventure was beginning. Here is where this story is going to end for today. Next week I will tell you about my life adventures living there, and the next week I'll share about how I left (that part is a scary story).
Before I signed off for today I did want to give you a few updates in general.
Overall things are going really well. The store is finding it's stride and the "extra" work that went along with setting it all up is slowing down, and we are no just doing the routine work of filling orders, sending them out, and ordering inventory. Mike did a fantastic job of setting the store up. I'm sure most of you either saw the pics on Instagram or saw the video I did of the store. It's very organized, clean, and well set up. When orders come in, it's quick and easy to just grab the item you need, wrap it up nicely, run postage and it's ready for the post office run. All of his hard work is paying off that's for sure.
Thursday was Mary Ann's official first day and she was a huge help. She really enjoyed it too. For 35+ years she has sat at a desk doing office work, so to be filling orders, wrapping them, and going to the post office for us, was a nice change of pace for her. She's really a huge help and our arrangement we have with her is perfect. Mary Ann doesn't need to work, she is well set financially. But she likes the idea of having something like this to do a couple times a week and earning a little "mad money". The nice part for both of us is, if we don't need her for a day or a week, and don't want to spend money from the store to pay her we can just tell her and it's fine. Likewise, if she has something going on and can't work, she will let us know and it will be fine with us as well. The hours are equally as flexible, so everyone's happy.
Mary Ann is a very helpful person too, for example, when she got here last Thursday we finished up a couple of orders we had and she did the post office run. After she got back we had more orders, so she worked on them, while I did a few other things and then some inventory was delivered that was way to heavy for me to even begin thinking about moving around, but it wasn't for her. So she brought it all downstairs and we were able to go through it and get it in the store. Normally I would have had to wait for Mike to come home. So that was great! When it was time for her to leave she even volunteered to run to the post office one more time on her way home. This was wonderful because the orders that had just came in, went immediately out! That's the kind of service we love to give. So, I think having Mary Ann on board is going to be great for all of us!
Many more things are going on, such as OWH, Gareth's amazing work on Instagam for the store, items I want to add to the store and more - all of which you will find on FB. I hope you enjoyed today's post. It's a little different then the usual that's for sure!
Love you all!