Books of 2020

We LOVE books in this family. We are so so so fortunate to have all of these books to entertain, learn, and escape with, to stir our imagination and inspire change. What are you reading? 

This first picture is to illustrate that point. Our bedroom has 3 entire walls filled with books. At the beginning of 2019 I decided to start keeping track of the books I read, because I like lists almost as much as I like books. Here in my list for 2020

I obviously and understandably read a handful of birth and parenting books and on this list I did not include all the baby books I have read to Primrose since her birth (and how many times I’ve repeated some of those books)

I looked at this list hoping to give a favorite or two, and you know, it’s just so hard to pick! The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis was amazing because Bob and I read that together. It was so romantic, and for that, it made the already incredible story even more fun to read. I can completely understand why people have a book club…..HEY, anyone want to do a book club?! 😛 

Reading The Winter Room by Gary Paulson was also another romantic endeavor, as Bob read this little by little to me each night. The story was beautiful and tough, and reminds me a lot of our life out here. 

Anastasia and the Ringing Cedars Series by Vladimir Megre is a book series I have been wanting for a few years. I read the first book when I lived in Hawaii and heard a bunch of hype about it, but that it was difficult to find. Upon looking for the series, I realized it was difficult to find, only online, and pretty expensive….and if you know me you know I don’t like to spend money (on hardly anything, especially my own wants). I was so excited Bob bought the series for me last Christmas and we read the first book aloud. I really enjoy the thoughts in the book, however, there in no plot and the writing is redundant…still I enjoyed it. We delved into the second book, and I haven’t picked it up again…it’s once again, the same story, retold and retold. I think if I keep reading, and reading it to myself rather than aloud, it will get through the feeling that I don’t like it. This reminds me of some advice I read recently on feeding a baby solids. The advice was saying if the baby doesn’t like the food, feed it to her 10-15 more times, and eventually they will start to like it. I thought this was funny because maybe the baby doesn’t end up liking it but realizing it has no choice……I don’t want to totally disregard the rest of the series (8 books!) Based on this first impression…so I’m going to try again but…….when…….we’ll see.

We listened on Audio book to Idle Hands by Cassondra Windwalker. Not only do we love the author as a human being, but this story was so fun. We would put it on at night after the baby had gone to sleep, and from what you’ve already seen, we like to read things together. This was a nice change, we didn’t have to have our tired eyes do the reading but we got to lay with each other and be read too. An equivalent of what couples do with TV I suppose. We were so entertained, and gosh, we just love Cassondra and her works.

And of course, my Stephen King books. My 2019 list I read 5 stories by SK and 1 by his other name Richard Bachman (so 6, really). This year I only read two, and am still happy with that progress. As much as I love his writing it is ALWAYS good to branch out and experience others. But there is no reason to completely give up your favorites. 

This year I’ve started out boldly different, once again all thanks to my husband who continues to gently nudge me and encourage me to form into the person I’m becoming more and more. I’m currently reading a book about America’s Women and a couple different art books on nature journaling, painting, drawing and color. We’ve been reading books in Spanish to Primrose and the language really makes her happy.

So again, we are so so so fortunate to have all of these books to entertain, learn and escape with, to stir our imagination and inspire change. What are you reading?

Poem for Prim

The sweatshirt says it all folks

How am I supposed to get things done
When my whole day
Revoles around a tiny one?

I try to mop & wash & scrub
I’d even LOVE to clean the tub
I milk & bounce & rock to sleep
I sing & hug when she starts to weep.

I need to put our things away
I can’t keep saying “another day”

I must sweep & clean & try to cook
And place our coats on their suggested hooks
The table needs wiping, the chickens need fed
And oh, god damnit, I forgot to make the bed.

But I remember
What my mom always said
“No one will be looking at these things
When you’re dead.”

So instead of trying to get things done
I’ll lighten up and have some fun.
I’ll snuggle & cuddle & hug & kiss
These are the days I don’t want to miss.

The warmth of her cheek
The smell of her head
I even LOVE how long it takes her to go to bed.

Her big blue eyes & toothless smile
Makes ever dirty thing worth while.

We are so lucky to be parents to Primrose

PLUS ONE FOR MY HUSBAND

Sunday Treat

Sundays usually feel like a Holiday
Some kind of celebration
Maybe it’s because we,
Two alcoholics,
Made it through the weekend
Without getting so drunk
We fall out the wagon

Maybe because it’s ingrained
In our DNA
We’re not just white, you know,
But we have a long history
Of no work on Sundays.

This Sunday though

We ate pie for breakfast
Vegan Pumpkin
Our pumpkins.

We made a smoothie
As a pre-lunch boost
Our raspberries.

We made pumpkin chili
Again, our pumpkins.

Homemade rustic white bread
not our flour.

At 10
We stood at the door
To get sun in our eyes
At 12:30
We walked down our road
To get more sun in our eyes.

The snow was hard and
Shaped like crystals
As my husband carried my baby
And we dreamed
Of the life we are living.

Inside for soup
And bread
And pie
And tea
As Primrose grows
To sit on her own.

We are left to ourselves
At night
To write
And massage in candle light.

Sunday is one of my favorite Holidays.

The day we planted a Lilac bush that a moose later ate

Angels in the Snowflakes

Holiday time can be so difficult for so many people, and when I look back at some of my own holidays I see opened presents with nothing but heartache, loneliness and overconsumption.

Two Christmases spent in Iraq as a soldier; feeling forgotten by everybody despite their letters and packages. New Years spent alone in Olympia, Washington– binge watching movies alone in a two bedroom studio apartment. Kwanzaa spent in Bend, Oregon, chain smoking cigarettes and marijuana while binge playing guitar. Hanukkah spent in Seward, chasing people from bar to bar to find some kind of friend who wants to spend time with me. It was the loneliest time of year, especially after my parents died.

Thankfully I weathered those storms, and now, while I feel a little guilty to say this– it has been the best of year of my life. And the best holiday season ever! Despite everything going on in the world, I am more at peace in the present moment than ever.

I am learning what it means to be present, to be grateful, and to be a father.

While millions of others are struggling to get pregnant or to keep their babies alive, we have a healthy baby that is growing into a healthy infant.

While millions of others are struggling with loneliness and lack of purpose, we have a God/s/Goddess who loves us wholeheartedly and we love them! And we have each other to spend time with, a house to upkeep, land to plant in the spring, a driveway to shovel and animals to feed.

This was our Christmas picture from 2019, when Savanna was still pregnant and we were just the two of us.

While millions of others are struggling to pay bills, we paid off our mortgage, don’t have a car payment, and pay roughly $130 dollars a month for insurance and phone bills. (Not to mention feed for two big dogs, chickens, and a cat. ) We have a couple thousand dollars in savings while others are dying of heart attacks due to stress.

While millions of others are struggling to buy food, we have a surplus of frozen and canned goods, plus WIC provides our family plenty of goodies every month and we are given a box of free produce every week from the Senior Center. Plus, we live close enough to two grocery stores that are overloaded with food that we can afford. While millions if not billions of others are starving to death or cannot afford to eat healthy food.

While millions of others are cold and hypothermic or overheating and hyperthermic, we are in a warm home with a wood stove to burn firewood and a Toyo Stove to burn Diesel. At times we burn both and get so hot we have to strip down to our naked selves and lie on the cold floor to cool down. We step outside into the icy, frosty night to take a break from the heat, then come back in.

Our humble home is all we need.

While millions of others don’t have a home, house, trailer, shed, tarp, tent, nothing at all… we have a house, a yurt, a high tunnel, a couple sheds, a tent, and three vehicles to sleep in with plenty of blankets.

While millions of others don’t have water to drink, bathe, cook or clean, we have a well that pumps water clean enough to do all of these things, with the right filtration system.

While millions of others are chasing booze with cigarettes and cigarettes with cocaine and cocaine with meth… or chasing online shopping binges with daily trips to the gas station or to the Box Store… we are content with what we have and don’t feel the need to use substances or to get high on shopping and crazy adrenaline rushes.

Cross country skiing is about the biggest rush we’ve been getting this winter.

While millions of others don’t have time to do anything but work and sleep, we spend every day with each other doing what we love. Reading, writing, painting, listening to music, playing with our baby, watching movies, taking walks, talking with loved ones and cooking good food.

Taking a walk in the neighborhood.

While it may seem like I am bragging, I am basically reminding myself of what I have. What I sometimes take for granted or look past toward some new adventure or country to travel to or new person to “help.” I am simply taking time to look in the mirror, to remember where the hell I came from. To remember the suicidal thoughts, loneliness, dozens of thousands of dollars in debt, overeating and buying and drinking and chasing friendships, chasing God/s, chasing Intellectual Pursuits, and chasing every other dang thing instead of taking time to open my heart, listen to the clouds, smell the dogs’ paws, and watch snow pile up on the driveway.

While my heart goes out to the billions of people who are struggling right now, who are confused and divided and full of anger, my heart stays here within my own peaceful home. A heart full of blood, warmth and gratitude.

May God/s/Goddesses/Buddha/whatever you believe in, bless your next year! I hope all of your objectives are achieved, goals checked off, and dreams come true.

Like Robert Service said in his poem: “The Men That Don’t Fit In”
“And each forgets as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace–
It’s the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.”

P.S. I keep editing this post because the list of “little things” that I am SO SO SOOO privileged to have keep coming up. Health of body and mind, ability to use all my senses (at one level or another), ability to love and feel love, ability to communicate with people, and the ability to be privileged as all heck to have a piece of land to grow my own food and listen to the bees buzz in the summer.

Anxiety Attacks Like Alien Space Invaders

11/14/2020: 10:03 PM: Journal Entry

I’ve been missing Pre-Covid life. Last year in Seattle’s Pioneer Square Savanna and I played cards while waiting for our flight..

Do you ever feel like you’re one second away from losing your shit all over your neighbor’s yard and then punching them in the face when they come and ask you about it?
Does your breath turn shallow and fast, eyes rapid and alert, heart beating so loud it’s all you can hear and your mind on the brink of rage?
Does it seem to… no, has it definitely elevated since Covid stormed through and everybody seems to treat you like a potential carrier and you look at everybody as a potential carrier and all you want is to hug your friends and not to worry about your baby having long term lung damage and being stuck in an ICU without any visitors? Do you question whether you should skip the single social event you do all week because the couple you meet with work around people and one of them refuses to wear a mask anywhere they go and you don’t want them to give it to you or your baby and wife and then to pass it on to other people?


Do you ever feel like you’re in a war zone where everybody is a potential bad guy and then you read the news or have a single conversation with someone other than your spouse and you are reminded that our country is not nearly as safe as we’ve been duped into believing?
Do you ever worry that inflation is going to hit in a year or so and food prices will be so high you can’t afford them and you don’t understand where all of this money is coming from that seems to be handed out for free to people?
Do you ever worry that supply lines will shut down and mass chaos will ensue like the type of chaos you were involved with when you first invaded Iraq in 2003?
Do you worry that the one or five newcomers at your AA meeting have the virus and don’t really give a shit because they either want to die or have harder things to worry about and they’ll pass it to you while you share air with them then you bring it home to your family and the one older gentleman who trained you on beekeeping and is now teaching you about buttermilk and then he passes it to his wife and they both die because they must be in their eighties?
Do you ever think that people think you’re letting down the newcomer and not holding true to the responsibility declaration because you aren’t spending time with newcomers when they call you because you’re not spending time with anybody outside of your tiny bubble because you are definitely serious about this damn virus?
Are you ever so overwhelmed by the closing of schools, businesses, travel, and social bonds that you sit on the kitchen floor with your eyes closed and count down from 100, then pray, then practice deep breaths again, then remind yourself that you’re at home and not at war and that you can focus on the Bruce Lee poster above your head instead of fear, and then you open your eyes and realize it’s already 9:00 PM and you still haven’t made the pizza you promised your wife because you’ve been tinkering inside and outside your mind for hours?
Do you ever search for the words to describe how you feel but come up with nothing because it’s such a vast array of mixed emotions you feel lost trying to explain them so you sum them up with “anxious” or “confused” or “triggered” or “trapped?”
Do you ever talk with somebody you really look up to who refuses to wear a mask because of his constitutional right but then you talk to somebody else you really look up to and they haven’t left their house in two weeks and thinks the virus may wipe out mankind if we don’t multiply our safety measures so then you feel lost on where you stand and how to lead your family because you want safety first but you also don’t trust your government because they ordered you to terrorize people in the name of freedom?
Do you too want to stay at home for six months eating canned goods and riding this one out instead of being overwhelmed by mixed data and alternate opinions but you just bought plane tickets to visit your wife’s family in Missouri and you don’t want to let her and them down by backing out, especially because a handful of them have already had Covid and some of them don’t think it’s really a big deal, so then you feel like a coward?
Am I the only person feeling and thinking all of these crazy things? Because sometimes I feel like I’m about to lose my shit all over the neighbor’s lawn then punch them in the face when they call me out on it.

Teammates for life. We’ve been talking about how lucky we are to have each other right now, and feeling compassion for those who are alone. I am the luckiest man alive.

The Lucky Cat Still Ticks

We’ve been laying low lately. Not that we haven’t been since covid. I guess I mean to say we’ve been inside our home more. We poured the concrete for the yurt. A full day of burning scrap branches to heat the water that we used to keep the concrete warm. We did it on the perfect day. The last day of cold clear sunshine before it precipitated for several days following. Bob checked it last night and it was hard. We are excited to continue working on it throughout the winter. It was wonderful to get out in the sunshine. To help Bob. To have Primrose be apart of the process as well. We are going to make a lot of memories in that yurt, and these are the beginning of those. There will be so much love. There is so much love. I forgot to go out and draw hearts in each one. Is my brain still shrunken?…mom life…

Prim gets a gold star for letting us basically ignore her all day and work

Our home in warm from firewood, our body heat and love. We have spent the last several days binge watching things on the computer. We bought some movies and rented a TV show from the Library. It’s nice to switch it up. We are still reading a lot- I started a new book, Bob has been into his magazine subscription, we read daily from the same book in the morning and the evening. We have also made a new routine for ourselves. As soon as Prim is laid down for bedtime, we spend 30 minutes writing. What a difference it makes. I’m trying to write poetry. It’s never as good as Bob’s is, and when he shares, I always want to cry.

My seriously romantic husband took us for a drive in the snow around the neighborhood drinking hot apple cider

Yesterday we walked down through the muskeg to the creek. It was hard to see where I was going having Prim strapped to my chest. Bobs leg was bothering him. It was difficult for us both to walk there, trudging through the swampy ice. Our old dog Nala turned into a young pup and wore herself out. We stopped many times to take in the beauty of our property and beyond. It was a place I had never been before. Prim fell asleep inside the wrap, on top of my sweater, under my flannel, under Bobs poofy jacket. He laughed as he buttoned me up saying I looked “tight” and like I belonged in “Total Recall”- I took it as a great compliment. As we were walking back, we could see our house and I thought how strange it is to be down below. We always see moose down here. I imagined us inside, eating breakfast and spotting ourselves walk below.

Parallel lives.

All the place we could be.

I wouldn’t want to be anywhere but here.

Marrying Bob was the best decision of my life

Empowerment of Species

Primrose and Istanbul cuddling on the couch

Four Months Ago:
Our pet rabbits ate the trim,
Ate the sheetrock, ate the deck,
Then ate their way out of their pen.
So we ate them.
I shot them the day before fatherhood;
Before I pressed my knuckles into Savanna’s
Lower back as she breathed through contractions;
Before she crawled around on the grass to move
The baby into position;
Before I watched a woman become an animal;
Before I gained a new respect for my wife’s ferocity;
Before I held her hand as she pushed and pushed
And pushed after twenty-seven painful hours when
Exhausted, the baby crowned and she touched 
Her hair and her eyes widened and she laughed
Hysterically and kept pushing and pushing and pushing
And then didn’t sleep for what seemed like two full days
After the baby was born.
Empowerment of species.

Last Week:
Two moose found our garden in a wide open forest
Full of birch saplings and cottonwood leaves.
They wanted raspberry, apple, cherry, and kale;
I can’t blame them.
But when they started to charge, stomp, snort, circle;
When they no longer ran away but ran toward;
When we could no longer use the outhouse
Or let the dogs out or sleep at night or use our solar panels
After they stomped the cables;
After ten days of full frontal assaults, 
I shot a young bull and watched it die in the orchard. It cried out, so I shot it again.
I felt relief. It was the first moose I’ve killed, it didn’t bother me
Like I imagined. Fish and Game didn’t like it; 
Wife, baby, dogs, neighbors did.
Fatherhood is bloody, painful and sacrificial.  

It’s Still Our Chair

I don’t think I have made a blog post since before giving birth to Primrose. The story of her birth will come one day, but for now, the time is: Catch Up (always).

I am currently sitting in what used to be “Our Chair”. It is the reclining chair that sits next to the wood stove, facing our wall of windows, looking out to the sunrise over the muskeg and the rest of the 20 acres we call home. Bob and I don’t sit in it together so much any longer. It became quite difficult to share when I grew to full term, and now, it is the chair we share with Primrose. Once we were able to all three comfortably fit (and the cat also joined in) but I’m convinced it was only comfortable because we were all so dang tired we didn’t know what was what. Now each morning Bob takes our little Junebug into the living room around 5 am to sit with her in the chair while I get some much needed sleep laying down.

Exactly 40 weeks pregnant. 12 hours before I arrived at the birth center. I had had a few mild contractions.

A few nights ago as we were falling asleep at 10:30 PM, I could not stop complaining about how bad my back was aching. Each night Primrose sleeps on my chest. We sleep chest to chest, but to have the least amount of reflux and the most amount of comfort for her, I sleep in an almost upright position, propped up by a million and a half pillows. Noticing how this was giving me no sturdy support, Bob leaped out of bed and built a ramp onto the bed for me to sleep on. It has made a world of difference and I’m getting more quality sleep. So much so that I’ve been waking up at 7:30 instead of 9:30 to go for a morning run.

Playing with her imagination and happy as can be!

But this morning I am in the chair with her, doing what Bob and her usually do: Catching up on quiet time bonding, watching the sunrise, while I usually catch up on some ZZzs. We woke up at 4:30 this morning to send Papa off fishing with 907 VETS. We put together chicken salad sandwiches for everyone, and had breakfast together while Primrose was tricked into sleeping on her changing table for 20 minutes (and you can believe she was most definitely strapped in and checked to see if she was breathing every 40 seconds). This morning we prayed for relieving the suffering of others. I will work to help relieve the suffering of Primrose while Bob goes out to help relieve the suffering of individuals in the community. And by doing this work, we will be fulfilled at the end of the day and ready to rest in the presence of each other.

morning bonding time in our chair


Primrose was born just as sweet as pie, with a taste of tart to balance out. She is colicky and at first this was a real strain. Being brand new parents and having that classic feeling “Are you really sure I can just drive on home with this baby?!”, it was very difficult to understand what to do. We worked so hard day and night to relieve her suffering, as any good parents would. We learned what positions are best to hold her in when she is upset, how to fart her multiple ways, I changed my diet radically (no brassicas, dairy, gluten, onion, garlic, or lemon water), what herbs and homeopathies to use, and lots of patience, comfort, love and nurturing. Talking with and receiving support from family, friends, professionals, community members, and through social media was HUGE in relieving our suffering as we couldn’t do it for ourselves or each other…we were so busy giving our all to our newborn. We have finally made it to the catch up phase. It has been almost 2 months and we are finding ourselves able to reach beyond our new little world (PrimLynn). We are able to take care of the other person in small ways that feel gigantic, and just recently, we are able to do things for ourselves, and now for others. It feels wonderful to get to this phase, and Primrose is just adjusting right along, trusting in us and feeling more comfortable being set down on her own. I can go for morning runs, yesterday I did 10 minutes of yoga, and we even went camping. Primrose really loved this and we decided to become campground critics. Since I truly have so much to say but time is getting short as my little one snorts in my lap in our chair I’ll end this catch up blog with my fun review of the campground. Small steps. Baby steps.

It feels good to be getting back into the swing of things. And I’m getting excited about winter bringing the slowness of life, and Bob and I returning to our chair, together.

mamas girl
I changed all her diapers on the neighboring picnic table
ca😜

Ninilchik View Campground: 4/5 Stars

The first thing I noticed was $20 is quite expensive for a tent site campground. We camped in site 8 which was our PERFECT spot as we could see across the river and the old village of Ninilchik to the Russian Orthodox Church and cemetery where we were married last year. Very special and sentimental. However, the campsites are SO CLOSE together. The sites are “grouped” in twos, meaning, 8 and 9 were basically on top of each other, and so were 10 and 11, and so on…This would be wonderful for companion camping (if a family we knew rented 9 for the night), or if you did what the people in 10 did and paid $40 each night so they could have both spots, otherwise you’d be eating at your picnic table while your neighbor watched you while laying down in their tent. The grass was irritatingly long all around the grounds and for site 8 the fire ring was in a strange position. In our opinion to be safe, we had to put our tent on the side of our car back behind the campsite, otherwise the fire would blow right into our tent! The set up isn’t ideal as the flattest spot was in front. For being right off the highway, it was nice and quiet- with even a “no generator” rule during quiet hours. There were RVs but I did not see any mention of plug ins, only dump station fees. The grounds and bathrooms were clean but the bathrooms did not have any toilet paper, just three empty rolls, so take yours to the toilet with you! There is a nice short trail (with a number of stairs!!) that lead right down to the beach-having campsite 10 & 11 have their own trail to the beach. At first I thought, “ooooh! I want that site!”, but I changed my mind after I myself and many others got confused coming up and walked right into those sites. This is first come first serve no reservations campground, so make sure to get there right at noon to swoop up the best spot!

She is not colicky when experiencing the great outdoors!

Being a Dad Without Having Had a Dad

Primrose and I spend time in this seat every morning as Savanna gets a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. I am the luckiest father alive.

Primrose Flora Lynn Stark is cuddled in my left arm sleeping as Savanna sleeps in our bedroom. Since they cat nap through the night as I get a few hours, I take the baby to the winter room in the wee morning hours to cuddle by the stove, drink coffee and read. All while watching the sun rise over the valley as light envelops our dark home. I have plenty of time to reflect on what it means to be a father?

Nap time for papa bear.

My birth father only spoke to me three times in my life, we met twice. Each time he told me how much better off I was without him around. He died at 61, after living for almost 30 years in the Oregon Forest in a Ford Explorer with solar panels and a battery bank. He never got to know me nor allowed me to know him. He was an example of what it is like to grow up without a father around, an example I do not want to follow.

We celebrated my 36th birthday during a pandemic by buying a pizza and eating it on the beach. Notice Primrose and I with matching shirts… gifts from her sweet mother. I couldn’t have had a better birthday!

My first step-father provided money and a roof and that was about it. He punished me rather strictly and instilled a sense of fear I still live with today. I am certainly one of those people who say “sorry” a hundred times a day for nothing at all. “Sorry I cooked you soup while you were sick.” Is one such example. Stan was highly involved at work and with the Masons and Rotary, yet he was not involved in my life. I can recall only a couple times he hugged me. I was not allowed to sleep in his bed as a scared young boy and was shown that men are to be serious at all times. Mother left him because he was not affectionate, appreciative and kind.

We are doing our best to continue having fun as a family. Fun may not be the same things that it used to be. Sometimes it’s a simple dance or song or meal, but we realize the importance of laughing, joking and being a positive light in our child’s life. Some days… are harder than others.

My second step-father was a man who murdered another’s man and was sentenced to life in prison. I spent countless hours in visiting rooms talking and playing cards. He wrote and spoke like a theology professor with a master’s in poetics. A brilliant man, kind, stern, affectionate, only present in mind. Always looking to the future for a better life. Parole, after-life, next life. Mother divorced him because she was lonely.

Savanna continues to reassure me that the most important thing I can “do” as a father is be here for our family. She reminds me that she did not marry me because I’m stunningly handsome (which I most certainly am) or because I can cut down trees without being killed, but because I am kind, loving, tender and present.

And that was the end of my run with father’s.

I change my daughter’s diaper, sing to her as she screams in tears, cook for and take care of her mother as she heals, and hand her back to her mother when I feel rage building and self-loathing surface.

Primrose Flora Lynn Stark was born on June 30, 2020.

At times I want to runaway to hide from the world because I think my family would be better off without my crazy ways, but then I remember what it felt like as a boy and then a man whose father abandoned him. So I stay… and we pitch a tent in the yard to camp for a couple nights.

Before Primrose was a month old we camped in the yard for two nights to take advantage of the very few nice summer days here in Alaska. She slept better in the tent than in the house, and we realized that we have a true outdoor Alaskan on our hands. She is the first Alaskan born in our family, and she’s already showing signs of being hardy.

At times I want to spend all our money on gifts and trips and toys and to spend all my time working or volunteering to make sure the baby and her mother know that I love them, but then I think about how it felt as a boy and then as a man who didn’t have a father around to give love and affection. So I stay.

Car seats aren’t light, I learned that real quick. Now I can see why so many parents are ripped.

At times I want to woo my wife and child with words and promises about the future, but then I remember how it felt as a boy and as a man and the way my mother was crushed over and over again when parole was denied. So I stay.

Savanna and I spent our first night away from each other in over a year when I went to the Kenai River to dip net for salmon. This is our first year with a low watt freezer, so we don’t have to can all of our salmon. It was difficult to spend a night away from the family, but totally worth it to return home with 50 pounds of salmon. I have discovered a new meaning of “providing for one’s family.”

I have to remind myself over and over especially during these times when unfinished projects remain unfinished, our greenhouse is overgrown with weeds, and the orchard is a clover field that needs cut. The list of projects is endless, our time together as a family is not.

Her first bath wasn’t as cute and calm as some of the pictures I have seen of baby’s first baths. She was a screaming, scared wild child! But we got through it as a family, and the second one was easier than the first.

Primrose is 6 weeks old now. She has gained 2 pounds and is now smiling, cuddling, sleeping, and of course— shitting a whole bunch. I have been here every day to support her and her mother during the colic phase, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Am I going to make a bunch of empty promises about our future? Hell no. But I will clip my baby’s fingernails after this post and then wipe her poopy little butt.

When I asked my sponsor in recovery how I was supposed to be a good father when I never had a good father he said, “Be the father you always wished you had. Do things with your child you always wanted a father to do with you. And stay calm.”

So far, I am a better father than I ever had. And I plan on keeping it that way.

New Life-Spring is Here, Baby is Near

Spring is here!
Bees are buzzing in their box, collecting pollen in sacs on sunny days to feed babies in the hive to grow into worker bees. Birch buds are abound. Sandhill cranes returned with their pterodactyl like appearance and flight, their lovely call fills the valley and can be heard from our bed. Nettle and yarrow were harvested and dried. One nettle plant that grew beside an apple tree that was planted 4 years ago has turned into dozens of nettle plants. Fiddlehead ferns are uncurling and dandelions are brightening the roadside. Clovers are popping up! Snow and ice have melted!!! Finally, daylight has returned!!!

Savanna weeds the spinach bed.

It seemed like winter lasted forever. It was my first winter as a full time employee of a company and I hope to never do it again. Waking up at 7ish and leaving the house by 8:15, driving icy roads in pitch black and returning around 6, only to restock the fire box, build a fire and get ready for bed. It was draining… but rewarding. I am grateful for the time spent, money earned, education gained and friends made. And even happier now that I get to stay home and work on my own slice of pizza out here in Stariski Acres.

We borrowed a tiller from a good friend and used it to mix in our amendments. It sure made easy work!

Savanna is 34 weeks pregnant and glowing like a fire fly. Her face and belly are tan and her blue eyes are shining. Her attitude is cheerful, excited, and tolerant. She has heartburn on the regular but does not let it get her down. The baby is face down and rolling around trying to get more space. Our baby gets really excited when we eat salmon, which makes me really really happy. Here in a month we will have another human in our family, it is a truly miraculous thing.

Leaving the dogs alone at home all day was probably the hardest part of working a Monday -Friday 9-5 job. I am so blessed to have such amazing animals that have kept me stable and grounded. I say it often, but I don’t think I would still own this property if it weren’t for the dogs.

With that on the horizon, we are doing our best to stay calm and graceful while taking care of a long list of projects. Our high tunnel is completely planted with tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, greens, peas, peppers, radish and herbs. We are already harvesting Tatsoi (Bok Choy) and spinach with stir fry mix and salad greens. We planted potatoes yesterday outside. Planted pumpkin, zucchini, squash, Chinese cabbage, kale, beans, peas, broccoli and sunflowers outside last week. Building more garden beds. Had a yurt dropped off and need to build a platform on sonotubes. Currently building a 8 x 12 chicken coop that is almost done!! Not to mention, the never ending list of additional projects inside and outside our home and the long list of chores that NEED to take place on a daily basis to keep clutter at bay and our minds at ease. I.E. Sweeping, baking bread, dishes, cooking, feeding dogs, bunnies, chickens, cat, walks with dogs, beach trips for fun, bathing, laundry, mopping, watering plants… did I mention sweeping up dog hair?! Let’s just say, we are really active.

One of the best things we have been doing as a family is setting a time every day for yoga. We go upstairs to the loft, set aside the projects at hand, roll out the yoga mats and set a timer using Insight Timer to do our own practice. Last month we did a 30 day yoga journey with Yoga With Adrienne, and it really sparked us and inspired us to do our own practice. That has been key in staying calm, positive, and healthy. We also take time every day to make and eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks after praying.

Nothing fancy does the trick.

So yes, spring is here… We are both still drug and alcohol free!! (I am actually taking Ibuprofen for an injury but hope to ween off… it’s only been 3 days of them… but it’s the first time in years…) We are growing closer to each other through trust, vulnerability, prayer, consistency, affection, and support. I love Savanna more today than I did when we got married 8 months ago, and it will continue to grow as time goes along.

Savanna is 34 weeks pregnant and totally happy. All of the pregnancy apps, YouTube videos, books and information we hear from people warn us of the crazy mood swings and awful side affects of being pregnant… Savanna has been solidly positive. I am truly blessed to call her my wife.

Lastly, we are really really really grateful for Diane, Shannon and Morgan Mcbride who allowed us to stay at their lodge, Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge, for two nights last week in exchange for some work. Covid-19 caused them to reimburse all of their tenants and to close the lodge for the season, and they were kind enough to offer their world class lodge to a couple former hobo hippy drunks. Trust can be built if we stay consistent with our actions over time.

The overflowing wave of support from family and friends have loaded us down with baby stuff. It’s been incredible! A baby registry was started on Amazon and people we haven’t talked to in years sent us gifts and money. It’s been really heart warming and tear wrenching. Here, Savanna excitedly sets up the changing station in anticipation for the coming arrival.

I hope that all of you who are reading this are safe and happy with your current situation. We are. This virus outbreak has shown me the importance of building a nest and learning how to stay close but still fly. Our neighborhood is abundant with opportunities for adventure, friendship, mystery and adrenaline. I am deeply grateful to live in the great state of Alaska and very lucky to own a piece of earth to call home.

We may not live in a mansion on the hill, but we are blessed to have a safe, dry home we call our own.

What Do You Want?

It seems hard to think what it is I should be writing about. There are so many things happening in my life, in our life, yet time seems to have almost stopped. A few times I have taken the train from California to Missouri. One particular time I woke up in the middle of the night and noticed the train had stopped. I couldn’t see much out the window, but I could see some flashing lights- was it ahead of the train, or behind the train? I couldn’t tell which direction we were traveling. Eventually, I saw lights began to move by us, we were passing a town, and I wondered how long we had been moving, and how fast, and how could I not know. I can experience this feeling now, in a different way, but much the same.

The hours are turning into days, the days into weeks, the weeks into months and soon it will be years. What is this virus and how is it changing our world? I seem to be in many different places all at once, with time being obsolete. In one world my life is incredible. I’m uncertain how much “quarantine” has really changed my daily routine, but I am aware my routine has changed immensely since Bob has been home with me. We have had so much more time! We have both delved into our passion- and that is our creative sides. We are creating more than ever. I have been working a lot on knitting. I am mainly knitting stuffed animals for our baby- I’ve made bunnies and I’m working on my second octopus. I have a pattern mapped out for our babies birth record that I will hand embroider. I have added to my baby doll body collection that hangs over our porch and soon I’ll add the heads to join the others on the ceiling in our library bedroom.

I can’t wait to see our baby snuggle with these toys

Bob and I have spent much of our days cooking together. Something we have been called to re-recognize as an important way for us to bond together and feel connected to each other, to the Earth, and to Spirit. I made bread that we turned into French toast on Friday morning with syrup Bob cooked up from our leftover berries this last summer. We made pizza with our sourdough, and the sauce from our canned crushed tomatoes from last summer and dehydrated zucchini. We made granola, egg sandwiches, chocolate cupcakes, sourdough pancakes, delicious soups, smoothies, salads…I mean its pretty intense how good we eat.

I’m so happy to have this picture…
when I grow old I will cry with fondness when I see this

He’s the bread, I’m the butter
notice the one cherry tomato….he doesn’t like to use the last of things
mmmmmm

We have spent an enormous amount of time rearranging, organizing, and what I would call nesting- however my mom sent me a picture the other day and she too was testing every pen and marker in the house and tossing any that didn’t work. So is this quarantine, or are we just nesting? Every day we check the news and watch the numbers rise…how many more people will become infected? How many more people will die? When will I be ripped out of this Utopian world of love, art and family and experience the suffering of this sickness. Sometimes when the internet doesn’t work, or I don’t hear back from someone I love, I get paranoid- is this a shutdown? Has everything gone haywire? Will this be like the horror movies? There becomes a fear in me that I try not to let take over. Last night while laying in bed I had to discuss a plan with Bob that I have been thinking about…if and when the time comes that one of us has to die, it must be me. Of course, he didn’t agree but I wanted him to know why I thought this way. He is stronger than I am, he is warmer (he thought I meant emotionally but I meant physically-but after thinking about it, he’s both) he is just as, if not more, sensitive and nurturing, he has the ability to stay calm, he is more prepared, he knows more, he’s more mentally and emotionally fit. He would be a way better single parent than I. Is this the fear of the virus speaking, or is this just what parents think about? Will I get a phone call about someone I love dying from this? What are they doing with the bodies of the people who die from it? Can they have a funeral? Do they have to be cremated? Are they kept for science?

But then, here I am again. Swirled back into my beautiful life…Sitting in front of the wood stove, knitting a stuffed animal while my husband tickles my feet and reads poetry to me and our baby.

“…I’ve got the whole world
in my hands
I’ve got the whole wide world
in my hands….”

Doesn’t happiness mean: wanting what you have?